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The First Burning Bush Devotional was sent June 8, 1998.

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The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

04.26.17

Who Has Woe?

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” - Proverbs 23:29-34 NKJV.

In Australia, two 34-year-old men were drinking together, and they started wondering whether it would hurt if they were shot with an air rifle (pellet gun). So, they conducted an experiment to find out if it would hurt; taking turns shooting each other in the backside, and the back of their legs. Apparently, it does hurt to be shot with a pellet gun and eventually when the pain became too much for them; they sought medical treatment. Now, the state is going to do what any good parent would do, take away their pellet guns.

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania three men are in trouble after they attacked a police officer after he attempted to arrest them for failure to bag their dog's waste. The men have been charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy and public drunkenness.

In England, a man has been fined $108,000 and banned from working as a broker for at least five years. He had been drinking, and attempted to manipulate the market for oil by buying a large amount of Brent crude oil. He then tried to lie to his employer about his actions.

In western New York, a couple of Canadian men who attended a church festival somehow ended up in the woods, naked, and covered in mud. Of course, they were drunk, and one of them had passed out in a ditch when they were found.

There are many dangerous drugs in the world but perhaps the most dangerous of all is the legal drug of alcohol. Alcohol has been creating problems for the human race since almost the beginning of time. The four news stories above are only a few of the many during the past week revealing the terrible consequences of drinking.

King Solomon in his book of Proverbs asks “Who has woe?” Dictionary dot com defines “woe” as: “grievous distress, affliction, or trouble; or as an exclamation of grief, distress, or lamentation.” For one of the murderers that I had under supervision while I was a parole officer, who killed his brother while he was drunk, he certainly had grievous distress, grief, and trouble. Another murderer that I had under supervision, killed his best friend while he was drunk, and he too knew what it was like to have “woe” in his life. They both knew the “sorrow” that Solomon mentions.

Alcohol also causes physical “woe”, afflictions, in addition to all of the emotional distress. Alcohol can cause heart problems, sexual problems, cognitive problems, gastro-intestinal tract problems, liver problems, central nervous system problems, and breast cancer. Some have died at an early age because of cirrhosis of the liver caused by drinking.

Solomon also asks “Who has contentions?” Dictionary dot com defines “contentions” as: “a struggling together in opposition; strife.” As another murderer that I had under supervision while I was a parole officer informed me, “I'm a mean drunk.” He was drunk and mean when he murdered his wife. Many who drink alcohol are “mean drunks” and seek out arguments and fights. One man that I had under supervision made a decision for Christ on Sunday, and the next Saturday while drunk, nearly beat his girlfriend to death with a two by four. He went to prison for ten years. Thankfully, his girlfriend recovered completely from her injuries.

If you are a drinker I plead with you to stop, and if you have never drank alcohol I plead with you to never ever start, because there is no joy to be found in drinking – only WOE!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.25.17

Determined

Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. – Acts 11:28-30 NKJV.

Then Solomon determined to build a temple for the name of the Lord, and a royal house for himself. Solomon selected seventy thousand men to bear burdens, eighty thousand to quarry stone in the mountains, and three thousand six hundred to oversee them. – 2 Chronicles 2:1-2 NKJV.

Huang Dafa is a village chief in the mountains of Guizhou, China. In 1959, the village was in bad shape due to a lack of water with their rice paddy barely surviving. It was then that Huang began carving a canal out of rock through three mountains for his village to have water. The canal when finished was 10 kilometers long (about 6.2 miles). It took 36 years of hard labor, and at times dangerous work on the side of mountains to complete the project. There were some setbacks; the villagers spent ten years digging a tunnel through a mountain peak only to find out that the water would not flow through their channel. It was then that Huang began to study for several years water system engineering. After completion of his studies, he asked the people of his village to once again attempt to complete the water canal.

In 1995, the water canal was finally completed. Not only does the canal supply water to Huang’s village, but also it supplies water to three other villages. Huang, who is now 82-years-old, says about his life’s work: “I was determined to bring water to Caowangba (the name of his village). People have had plenty of food since. Full stomachs mean peace of mind. If we can do something (for progress), we should. We shouldn’t wait for things to happen. Dozens of years of my life could have passed without anything happening.”

It is estimated by the Chinese government that because of the canal rice production has been increased 1600%! In the same year that the canal was completed (1995), a road to the village was completed, and they finally gained access to electricity. Huang says, “I decided to do three things for the villagers: draw water to the village, build a road and get access to electricity.” (Xinhua News)

Before the village of Huang Dafa could have water, a road, and electricity one man had to determine that it would happen. However, deciding this, determining this in his heart and mind was not enough to make it happen. Huang had to actually begin the work of construction, and lead others to follow him helping with the work. He had to be the first one to tie a rope around a tree and then climb down the rock face of a mountain hundreds of feet to where the channel for the canal was to be cut into the rock. Others would not have gone down the rope, if Huang had not led the way.

The disciples after hearing the prophecy of the coming famine “determined” that they would send relief. Determination, however, was not enough; there also had to be action, the actual sending of the help. The famine relief was sent by Paul and Barnabus. There is a non-Biblical record of famine relief being sent as recorded by Josephus.

Solomon “determined” that he would build a “temple for the name of the Lord.” Upon Solomon’s making that determination he immediately began to take action to make the building happen.

Has God placed some great vision or work upon your heart? The first step to bring that vision or work into reality is a determination of the heart. However, determination is not enough. Action is needed, unless there is action to bring about the determination of the heart, nothing will happen. Begin to take that first step, and then the next, and then the next. Often the first step is the hardest of all…have you taken that first step?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

04.24.17

Obeying God or Men

Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” - John 10:31-32 NKJV.

There has been a strange occurrence in Mount Vernon, New Hampshire where a woman, Adriene Valdez (age 28), was having difficulty breathing. However, it is not clear whether she called 911, or if her neighbors or family members did. When the emergency response team of three EMTs arrived at the home, they found Adriene sitting on her lawn still having breathing problems. One of the EMTs trying to determine the reason for the breathing distress asked Adriene a question. In response to being asked a question, the woman reportedly head butted two of the emergency workers; and then attacked the third, hitting and biting the EMT. The attack was savage, resulting in the EMTs sustaining bites, bruises, and even some broken bones. Adrienne was arrested, and has not yet posted bail pending a court hearing.

What an incredibly shocking response to those who were simply trying to help save someone's life! It must have a terrible surprise to have a person appearing to be so ill to suddenly attack with such viciousness! No one in their right minds would think that Adriene had acted in an appropriate manner. None of us, unless under the influence of some substance or mentally ill, would act in that way. Let us hope and pray the EMTs recover from their injuries and continue to have the desire to serve their community.

Jesus has a lot in common with those EMTs in Mount Vernon. Because Jesus came “to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).” Jesus was sent to “heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18).” However, the response of the Jews was similar to the woman who attacked the EMTs. What did the Jews do? They “took up stones again to stone Him.” The Jews fully intended to kill the One who would be their Savior! Incredible!

Jesus may not be walking physically upon this earth, but His followers are. Have you ever tried to share Jesus with someone, and then have them act like you were doing something wrong? Who are we to obey? God or men? In the Book of Acts, we are told this: “And the high priest asked them, saying, ‘Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!’ But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:28-29).’” Some have tried to witness at work, and then their co-workers try to have them fired. Or, they are punished by being given the most difficult work, or are ostracized by the other workers. If this has happened to you, rejoice for you are following in the steps of your Lord and Savior, just as did the apostles!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

04.21.17

Hell's Gate

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. - Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV.

Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from.’” - Luke 13:23-25 NKJV.

There is a huge flaming crater in Turkmenistan's Karakum Desert, which is about 60 yards wide that is called “Hell's Gate” or “Hell's Door” by people in the area. The crater is the result of a blow-out caused by a drilling accident back in 1971. Soviet petroleum engineers decided to burn off the gas, and it has been burning ever since. Hell's Gate is a tourist attraction for the foreign tourists that actually make it to the country, and it is said to be a beautiful sight to see (You can see photos of it on the web.). However, Turkmenistan's president would like to put out the fire so that development of natural gas reserves in the area will not be hindered.

It would be great if the actual gate to enter hell was located in the Karakum Desert then we could just avoid the place, and never go to hell. Hell's Gate, however, is much closer and much more personal than that. We enter Hell's Gate in more subtle, unsuspecting ways. Life has a way of keeping us busy with things other than the vital spiritual ones. Our attention is placed on work, family, our home, and we seldom think about God and eternity.

The path to hell is more of a slide than a walk. The busier we are with our worldly affairs the closer we slide to the gaping mouth of the Gate of Hell. We ignore our spiritual condition, we push aside any thoughts about God, or church, or Jesus, and we slide closer and closer to that Gate of no return. When we do think about spiritual things, we think of how we are not any worse than many religious people that we know. We think that a good God would never send anyone to hell. We think of all the religions in the world, and think they probably all lead to the same place. We slide closer to the gaping mouth of hell as we focus in on more pleasant thoughts. It becomes a habit to avoid thinking of spiritual things, and only of worldly things. It becomes a habit never considering, and to avoid considering, what will happen after you die.

The spiritual truth is that there is only One way to avoid the Gate of Hell, and that way is a very narrow way, because that way is only through Jesus Christ. Jesus says this in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” We can only enter the narrow gate by believing upon Jesus as our Savior, as Jesus explains to Nicodemus in John 3:14-17, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:9), even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 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.”

Are you sliding closer and closer to the gaping mouth of the Gate of Hell? Or, have you already entered into eternal life through the “narrow gate” of believing upon Jesus Christ?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

04.20.17

Uncertain Times

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. - James 4:13-14 NKJV.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10 NKJV.

Yesterday, Bill Jordan bought a new iPad for a friend in Canada at the Cherry Creek Mall in Denver, Colorado. The bag was heavy and he had the cord wrapped around his fingers. Just as he was exiting the mall a man grabbed the bag ripping it away; and along with the bag, the flesh of two-thirds of Jordan's little finger, which had to be amputated. Surprising! Shocking!

We have all heard of the Icelandic volcano that has spewed ash into the atmosphere, and stranded all of the travelers. Who could have predicted that such a thing would happen? For the stranded travelers and their families, it was surprising! Shocking! For the airlines that have lost billions of dollars it was more of the same.

In May 2007, Amy Teresa Ricks of Utah, promising her husband a surprise, blindfolded him, and then hit him in the head with a hammer. Her husband suffered minor injuries and has recovered. Amy is on probation and must do community service. They were separated at the time of the attack, and there has apparently not been a reconciliation. The attack was surprising and shocking!

Those reports are just a few of the surprising and shocking things that have happened to humans in recent days. In the past, we know there were always countless surprising and shocking things happening. Who could have predicted the San Francisco Earthquake or other great disasters of history? It will be more of the same in the next few weeks, the next few months, the next few years, and for as long as human history is allowed to unfold.

The human race has lived, is living, and will be living in uncertain times. We make our plans, but rarely do our plans turn out exactly as we planned. How do you cope with the uncertainty of life? How do you cope, how do you keep going when your plan comes apart at the seams? How do you cope, how do you keep going when what is precious to you is suddenly ripped away? How do you cope, how do you keep going when life hits you in the head with a hammer?

There is someone who wants to help you make it through the uncertainties of life. However, we have to trust in Him, believe in Him, before that help is available to us. God says to those that love Him, “I am with you…I will strengthen you…I will help you…I will uphold you.”

When you are facing the uncertainties of life, remember your God, your Lord says, “Fear not.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

04.19.17

Living on the Rock

He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. - Luke 6:48 NKJV.

As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” - Romans 9:33 NKJV.

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea…and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. - 1 Corinthians 10:1; 4 NKJV.

Vicki Luhrs appeared on Fox News yesterday, and told about her battle to protect her dream home on Puget Sound in Washington State. Her dream home was built next to, and overlooking Puget Sound. Over the years, one third of her property has been eroded threatening the destruction of the home if the erosion is allowed to continue.

Vicki knows what is needed to protect the home, and what is needed is a rock revetment. Dictionary dot com defines revetment as, “a facing of masonry or the like, especially for protecting an embankment.” However, Whatcom County, Washington officials have blocked her from building that revetment; and will only allow the planting of vegetation to slow the erosion, which would be completely ineffective. Vicki has found help through Pacific Legal Foundation, and has succeeded in forcing a new trial; where unlike the first trial, she will be allowed to present evidence of the need for that rock revetment. (Update: Pacific Legal Foundation issued a press release 03.29.11 announcing that Whatcom County finally allowed Vicki Luhrs to install the rock revetment, and that the revetment installation has been completed.)

The apostle John makes it clear that worldliness is a spiritual enemy of Christians when he writes, “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).” The world continually attempts to draw us away from our Lord, to erode our faith, and fervor.

The apostle Paul tells us of another enemy. As Christians we do have a new nature as we are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17; however, we are still clothed in human flesh and Paul says in Romans 8:5-6, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” The flesh wars with our spiritual nature to draw us away from our Lord, to erode our faith, and our fervor. We are told this in 1 Peter 2:11, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”

The apostle Peter advises that we have one additional spiritual enemy when he writes, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).” That old devil seeks to draw us away from our Lord, to erode our faith, and our fervor. The devil wants to destroy you, to “devour” your spiritual life.

How can we as Christians stand up against the constant spiritual pressure, constant spiritual erosion of the world, the flesh, and the devil? We need to do in the spiritual what Vicki Luhrs wants to do physically to protect her home. We need a spiritual rock revetment. Jesus is that rock, and the more of Jesus we have in our lives, the greater our resistance will be to the spiritual erosion.

You can counter the big three spiritual enemies with the big three spiritual resources of the Bible, prayer, and church. The more input of Scripture (Matthew 4:4), the more you pray (Luke 18:1), and the more you are faithful in assembling with other believers (Hebrews 10:24-25), the larger your spiritual rock revetment will become. Begin now; determine now, that your spiritual shoreline will be eroded no more! Live your life on the Rock!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

04.18.17

How Much Are You Worth?

…glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. - Romans 2:10-11 NKJV.

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? - James 2:1-4 NKJV.

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. - James 2:8-9 NKJV.

In a scene from the modern west, men in a four wheel drive vehicle are hunting down executive chairs. That's right, chairs! There are chairs rolling everywhere. There are small chairs and large chairs. The scene ends with the hunters roping and hauling in one of the larger chairs. The scene is from an executive employment service TV ad which claims they only have listings for 100k+ people, and for companies that only want 100k+ people. In other words, if on your resume your salary history indicates you make less than $100,000 per year do not apply to that executive employment service. They do not want you. Go away little chairs. You are beneath the level that they consider being of importance.

For billions of people in this world their lifetime earnings will not add up to $100,000. Billions more do not earn, and never have earned $100,000 per year. I am definitely in that category. Does that mean that those of us who have never reached the 100k+ level of earnings per year are somehow less valuable, of less worth, than those who earn more? Perhaps in the eyes and value system of one executive employment service and of people whose goal in life is to make more and more money we are worth less. However, in God's value system every human being is of the same worth, whether we are rich or poor: “For there is no partiality with God (Romans 2:11).”

Does the spiritual fact that God is impartial mean that there will never be favoritism in the church? No, if you have attended church for a year or more it is likely that you have observed favoritism. In every church that I have attended or pastored, there have been instances of favoritism. Does this make it right? Of course not! There were instances of favoritism in the early church as seen in Acts chapter six with Jewish widows receiving better treatment than Greek widows. The church moved to correct that mistreatment and favoritism. It is the example that we need to follow. If you are personally involved in favoritism you need to try to change. If you see others involved in favoritism, you need to try to help them see their need to change, and encourage them to do so.

The elimination of favoritism from the church, and the world, will never be completely accomplished as long as the world is the world as we know it now; and the flesh is still the flesh, and the devil is still roaring seeking whom he may devour. However, each of us can pray; and we can seek to eliminate favoritism in our lives, in the church, and in the world around us. Our goal in regard to impartiality should be the goal expressed by our Lord in the model prayer, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).”

How much are you worth? You are worth so much that Jesus came down from the glories of Heaven to suffer and die a horrific death on the cross – for you!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2004

04.14.17

A Living Faith

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. - Matthew 28:1-8 NKJV.

People do sometimes come back to life and many have had what is called “near death experiences.” Velusamy an 80-year-old man in India was thought to have died of old age. His sister-in-law tried to wake him for supper and found him to be lying on the floor “like wood.” She received no response to her frantic yells or when sprinkling his face with water. However, when Velusamy was bathed with cold water prior to his body being burned, he woke up! He said, “It’s very cold” and got up from the ground. His family rejoiced at having, “got back grandpa, back from the other world.”

Performing a search on Google for “back to life” found 897,000 references for the phrase. A vast multitude of things are said to be brought “back to life” including books, programs, furniture, machines, radios, stocks, lakes, frozen lobsters, Inca canals, schools, bands, and nations. There were a few instances of people like Velusamy who were thought to be dead, being brought “back to life.” However, the reality is that Velusamy will eventually die, and not be brought back again to physical life. We as human beings can restore usefulness to inanimate objects, and through science restore, sustain usefulness for human beings to a certain extent. There is, however, no way by scientific methods to bring a person back to life that is actually dead. When person has been dead and buried for a year or so there is no record of such a body being raised to physical life.

Easter is not just a holiday or a time to have fun with our family and friends. Easter is important, because what happened 2000 years ago represents our only true hope for eternal life after death. Easter is important and mind boggling, because it represents God Himself intervening in the course of human events at great cost to provide us a way of salvation. Easter means that we have a living faith, and not a dead faith. We do not worship a dead god. We worship a God who is alive, and has proven that He has the power over death. God has proven that He has the ability to give life!

This Easter let us rejoice that He has indeed risen! Let us rejoice that we have a living faith in the living God who loves us so much that He died for us!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

04.12.17

Simply Unbelievable

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV.

It is hard to wrap your mind around even the possibility of what some people will do, and what actually happens in their lives. A traffic accident occurred recently in the Florida Keys, because of the unbelievable actions of a couple of people there. Megan Barnes and her ex-husband, Charles Judy, were on their way to meet Megan's boyfriend in Key West when the accident happened. Now, you have to wonder why Megan and Charles were even in a vehicle together, but that is only an odd sidebar to the main event. Of course, Megan wanted to appear her best when she met her boyfriend, and so she did what any woman would do in a situation like that, she decided to shave her…uh… bikini line.

The situation is further complicated by Megan being the one who is driving the vehicle. So, Charles takes over control of the car from the passenger seat while Megan shaves. The vehicle is only going about 45mph, but that is apparently 40mph too fast when the car in front of them slows to 5mph to make a turn. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured in the accident. To make this incident even more unbelievable you have to know some more of the facts. Megan should not have been driving, because the day before she had been convicted of Driving Under the Influence after a prior offense with a suspended license. In addition, she was ordered not to drive any vehicle that did not have a Breathalyzer device to prevent her from driving it while intoxicated. That is probably why after the accident Megan continued down the highway a half mile so that she and Charles could switch places, and claim that he was driving. However, because of burns on Charles' chest from the air bag, and because the driver side air bag did not deploy, the investigating officer knew that Megan was actually driving. The entire situation is simply unbelievable, but it is still true!

If you are the judge when Megan appears before the court after this incident would you give her a pat on the back and tell her all is forgiven? Most of us would give her a sentence that we hope will keep her off the streets for a few years. That is the mindset that we humans have, and it makes it hard for us to comprehend, to believe, the amazing grace, amazing mercy of God when we encounter it personally.

Megan most likely will not receive mercy at the hands of her human judge for her actions, and she certainly does not deserve such mercy. However, she can receive mercy in the hands of her God. The operative word here is “can.” God's mercy is not automatic. God's mercy is a gift, but in order to receive a gift we must do what? We must want it, and accept it. Examine a few of the Biblical passages concerning salvation:

John 1:12: “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.” We must receive or accept Jesus.

John 3:16: “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.” We must believe in Jesus.

Romans 10:13: For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” We must call upon His name.

Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I 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.” We must open up the door of our heart and allow Jesus to enter in.

God's amazing gift of grace, of mercy, may sound as if it is unbelievable, but the eternal fact is that it is still true! God is offering His amazing gift to you - accept it!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

04.11.17

Still Powerful - Part 2

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. - John 14:12-14 NKJV.

Inspector Roger Bartlett is the chief of policing in Barnstaple, England; Barnstaple is a small city of about 34,000 people. Inspector Bartlett is a leader in the Christian Policing Association there and provides some startling information about the power of prayer and public safety. In 2007, the Association made a commitment to pray for an improvement in the crime detection rate (crime clearance rate). In 2007, the crime detection (clearance) rate was only 26%, but now that rate has increased 14 points to 40%.

The Christian Policing Association also took on another prayer project of trying to reduce the number of fatal highway accidents in North Devon where Barnstaple is located. The astounding result is a drop in fatal accidents in one year from 97 to 32. Inspector Bartlett commenting on this said, “Many who do not have the faith would say that this is just coincidence. From my experience, the more I pray the more coincidences I seem to see.”

As a pastor, in almost every worship service I lead in prayer and pray for individuals and for large groups of people including missionaries, rescue workers, those affected by disasters, and others. In my private prayer life, I pray for individuals, and also for large groups of people as I am sure that most reading this devotional do as well. Have you ever wondered whether it really makes any difference? When I pray for the safety of those in my community, and there is a fatal accident, I sometimes wonder what is wrong with my prayer life. You may possibly have the same questions.

I think that I may be asking the wrong question when looking at the effectiveness of prayer for large groups. What those of us who pray for those large groups should be thinking of is how many lives were protected, how many lives and souls were saved, because of our prayers. Why were the fatal accidents in North Devon not reduced to zero? I do not know. This side of Heaven we simply will not know the answer to some of those questions. What we do know is that possibly as many as 65 fatal accidents were avoided because of prayer. It is like the story of the Star Thrower (The story may have been originally written by Loren Eiseley 1907-1977). The boy or the young man in the story could not possibly throw all the starfish back into the ocean before the tide went out and the rays of the hot sun came down. A man questioned why the boy was still trying to throw the starfish back into the ocean? The answer, as the boy threw another starfish back was “It makes a difference for this one.”

The point of all of this is that the Name of Jesus is still powerful, and our prayers do make a difference. As the apostle John says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him (1 John 5:14-15).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

04.10.17

Still Powerful

Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” - Acts 3:6 NKJV.

And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. - Acts 16:18 NKJV.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. - 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 NKJV.

An armed robber in Frisco, Texas encountered a force more powerful than his 9mm Glock handgun. What was that force? Marian Chadwick simply pointed her finger at the would be robber, and the robber turned around, and left the store. Actually, the pointing of the finger was not the power that turned the man around. No, it was the words uttered by Marian, “In the Name of Jesus, you get out of my store. I bind you by the power of the Holy Spirit.” To Marian and another person that was present at the time, the robber appeared to be “stunned”; and he then turned, and walked out of Marian's crafts boutique, Extravagant Necessities. This same man is believed to have successfully committed armed robberies in four Dallas suburbs, and has not yet been apprehended.

As people of faith, as Bible believers, we believe that the miracles of the Bible are literally true. As we know, the miracles were necessary to authenticate the acts of Jesus and His apostles. However, living in this world some 2,000 years later we are hesitant to believe that the miracles that happen around us are actually miracles. We are much more likely to attribute the miraculous to being a coincidence, or a lucky break. Or, in the case of someone whose X-rays or MRI has changed suddenly from showing a malignancy to revealing nothing of significance, we almost automatically think this was simply a mistake by the Doctor or operator of the equipment.

It is rare for it to actually be reported in the news media an undeniable act of God, a miracle, as occurred in the boutique shop of Marion Chadwick. I wonder though how many people actually paused to read the story, or if they were watching the news on television if they even listened to the words. How many people who heard the story or read the story even stopped to think that this is a great miracle of God that has occurred?

Even though it has been 2,000 years since Jesus walked upon this earth - God is still God. Not only is God still God, but the Name of Jesus is still powerful. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it (John 14:12-14).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.06.17

Heartless

They refuse to understand, break their promises, are HEARTLESS, and have no mercy. – Romans 1:31 NLT.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! – 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV.

It happened in Kuwait City, an Ethiopian maid was hanging by one finger outside of a seventh-floor apartment and she was screaming “Hold on to me! Hold on to me!” The woman’s employer, instead of trying to help began filming the screaming woman until the woman fell. The falling woman fell onto an awning helping her to survive, but she did break an arm. This incident was reported as an attempted suicide.

In Kuwait, there are some 600,000 foreign workers which is about one for every Kuwaiti family. Foreign workers sign away rights when entering the country and they are treated poorly working long hours, often with poor living conditions and little food. Many of the foreign workers try to escape, but it is hard to do. Although the Ethiopian maid’s fall was not an attempted suicide, many foreign workers do attempt suicide to escape from the harsh conditions.

There has been at least one report of an employer pushing their maid out of a third story window after the maid had attempted to escape. It was reported as an attempted suicide. As poor as the working conditions are for some in Kuwait for foreign workers, conditions are worse in other nearby countries. (Standard Digital 04.02.17; Yahoo 04.05.17; and many other news venues)

Hard to believe that people can be so heartless treating people worse than they would treat a pet or even some would treat a slave. It is a travesty, it sickening, it is awful, it is HEARTLESS! This lack of caring, lack of compassion, lack of mercy, lack of forgiveness points to there being a heart problem. Jesus says in Matthew 12:35, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” There is much evil being brought out of the hearts of the employers of foreign workers in Kuwait. You could say that they have evil hearts.

It breaks my heart, and I am sure it breaks your heart to hear about how horrible some people are being treated. As the apostle Paul indicates this is one of the conditions that will be present during the “last days.” During the last days “perilous times will come.” However, are these times we live in now any more perilous than during World War II when millions of people were killed? Or, is this time more perilous than during many other perilous time periods that have been recorded in history?

Let us pray for the heartless to have their hearts changed, and that they will turn to God before it is everlastingly too late. Let us pray for those who are being treated so poorly that they many have some relief, and that our God will protect and encourage them. Let us pray for our own hearts that we might not be heartless, and that we will have compassion, mercy, and extend forgiveness. Let our hearts love, as God had love for us. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

04.05.17

The God of All Comfort

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. - Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NKJV.

In October of 2008 we found out that our son, Nick, had lost the sight in his left eye because of a detached retina. It is doubtful that he has any vision in the eye, but he may be able to see a light when shined directly into the eye. He had surgery in November of 2008 to stabilize the eye so that it would not have to be removed.

After we found out about Nick's eye problem we decided that we would go ahead and take a trip to Branson, Missouri that we had planned for later. Nick is mentally challenged with Down Syndrome, and he has been a fan of the Oakridge Boys, since he was a little boy (He is 31 now.). We thought it would take all of our minds off of what had happened and the surgery.

The eye surgeon, a retinal specialist, told us when he said that Nick would not have sight in that eye that it was “Unfortunate.” While listening to the Oakridge Boys at Branson, they sang a song from their Christmas album. In the song a family has some bad things happen to them, and repeatedly they say it was “Unfortunate,” “Inconvenient,” and then they say, “The most inconvenient Christmas ever was, was the first one, when God came so far, to give himself to us, so when stress hits each December, how it helps me to remember God is with us most when things just can't get worse, the most inconvenient Christmas ever was… was the first.” It spoke to my heart, and to Jeanie's, as we knew that God knew exactly where we were and what was going on in our lives.

Yesterday, I took Nick back to the retinal specialist, and it was decided that another surgery would not improve the vision in his left eye. Nick continues to be at high risk for retinal detachment in his good eye, because of having had a cataract surgery, and also being very nearsighted.

When I am going through difficult times I have the tendency to want to have a pity party. Oh, woe is me. At the same time, I tend to think that God does not really care, and that He has forgotten about us. The spiritual fact is that God cares more than we can imagine, more than we can comprehend. Even during the most difficult of times God is able to reach out and touch us, encourage us so that we have the strength to continue on with life. He can do that because He is the “God of all comfort.”

You may be going through or have gone through much worse than I have ever experienced or ever will experience; however, God can give you the strength, the comfort that you need. Allow the “God of all comfort” to touch you at the point of your need. Ask Him to comfort you, and then watch for when He wraps His arms around you - lifting you up to live life again.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

04.04.17

The Power is Given

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. - 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. - 2 Peter 1:2-4 NKJV.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13 NKJV.

Nick Harris was taking his own eight-year-old daughter to school when he saw something that every parent fears. What Nick saw was a car backing out of a drive way and right over a six-year-old girl. The girl was trapped underneath the tire of the large Mercury car, but that did not stop Harris from trying to lift the car off of her. Harris is 32-years-old, five-foot-seven weighing 185 pounds, and he does not know how he did it, but he was able to lift the car off of the little girl. Since then Harris has tried to lift other cars, but has been unable to do it again. He says about the rescue of Ashlyn that it was because, “…somehow, adrenaline, hand of God, whatever you want to call it, I don't know how I did it.” Ashlyn, the little girl who was trapped is going to be okay.

Through Jesus, everything has been given to us; all the power necessary to live life to the ultimate degree is available. Sometimes we see the exercise of the power of God in very obvious ways as with Nick Harris doing the impossible in lifting the car to save the little girl. However, I would submit to you that the power of God is at work in the lives of countless people across this earth every minute of every day. When the world says that you should give up on your marriage, but you pray and trust God to give you strength to continue on, is that not an even greater exercise of God's power? When you learn you have cancer or some other disease, and instead of giving up you pray asking for strength, and you continue on with life as long as you have breath that surely is a great demonstration of the power of God at work in your life. When you are financially destitute one step from living on the streets, but you continue to trust God and pray for Him to provide no matter what may happen - the power of God is being released in your life with each step forward that you take.

No doubt, there will be challenges ahead for all of us. Whatever shape the challenge may take whether financial, health, relationship, emotional, parenting, educational, addiction - whatever it is; God can give you the power to meet the challenge. The challenges of life can at times be frightening. Remember that the fear does not come from God, because He gives us instead: power, love, and a sound mind. Whatever is ahead, you and the Lord will be able to go through those challenges because, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness….”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

04.03.17

Begin Again - Part 3

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable (…stand firm. Let nothing move you. - NIV), always abounding (Always give yourselves fully - NIV) in the work of the Lord, knowing (because you know - NIV) that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. - 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV.

The apostle Paul gives us some direction as to how to continue to move forward with life, beginning again and again. Those directions are given in 1 Corinthians 15:58. The first instruction that Paul gives us is to “…stand firm. Let nothing move you….” The second instruction is “…give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord….” Why should we do that? Why should we stand firm? Why should we let nothing move us? Why should we always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord? “…because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

I am reminded of a verse in Isaiah 55:11 about God's Word that says, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” God says in Isaiah that His Word will not go forth in vain, His Word will accomplish His purpose. The apostle Paul is saying the same thing about our labor, our work for the Lord. Our labor for the Lord will not be in vain, it will accomplish its purpose, it will accomplish what God means for it to bring about, and it will prosper.

Beginning again can be so very difficult. I have often pondered some of the challenges of the great missionaries like William Carey, who was a missionary to India in the early 1800s. He was also an intellectual giant and was busy translating the Bible into many of the various languages present in India. For ten years Carey had labored in those translations, he had established a print shop to print the translations, and it was in that print shop that he kept all of his work. On March 11, 1812 disaster struck in the form of a fire that destroyed the print shop and all of the work of Carey and others. Ten years of work gone!

How do you begin again? How do you stand firm and not let something like this move you? How do you continue on to give yourself fully to the work of the Lord in the face of a disaster like this? How do you do it? Carey began again, and found that he could do the work of translation even better the second time, and because of the publicity about the disaster funds were more than adequate. It is reported in one biography of Carey that he translated and published the New Testament in more than 30 Indian languages and dialects. What does Romans 8:28 say? “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.”

William Carey not only began again giving himself fully to the work of the Lord, but he went further than he had gone before. His translations were better the second time, and he translated the Scripture into far more languages than before. He stood firm, he did not let this move him, and God brought about His purpose in spite of a disaster that would have stopped so many of us in our tracks.

What challenge are you facing? Are you coming to an end of one phase of your life, with a new one ahead? Have you experienced tragedy, disaster, pain, illness - how do you go on? You go on; you begin again by standing firm in your faith, by letting nothing move you away from your full devotion to the Lord. You go on; you begin again by giving yourself fully, totally, completely to the work of the Lord.

Don't settle for anything less, than the very best that God has for you. Begin again, stand firm, let nothing move you from what God has for you. Move forward, give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because it will not be in vain, it will accomplish its purpose, it will not come back void.

Let us begin again!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

03.31.17

Begin Again - Part 1

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable (…stand firm. Let nothing move you. - NIV), always abounding (Always give yourselves fully - NIV) in the work of the Lord, knowing (because you know - NIV) that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. - 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV.

Life is made up of beginnings and endings and more beginnings. Winter ends and spring begins. Spring ends and summer begins. Summer ends and winter begins. We are ending one year and starting a new year with the challenges of the past year behind and the challenges of a new year ahead. We end childhood and begin young adulthood. We end being young adults and enter middle age. We end middle age and become senior adults. We are born, we live, we die, and then if we know Jesus as our Savior, we live again.

I have found that the older I become the harder it is to begin again, the harder it is to move forward and not to stop. The older I am, the harder it is to try something new. The older I am, the easier it is to do nothing. The older I am, the easier it is to think I have done enough. The older I am, the easier it is to plan for dying instead of for living. The older I am, the harder it is to continue with life when bad things happen - to begin again.

How do you begin again, how do you move forward with life, how do you really live as long as you are living? This verse in 1 Corinthians 15:58 does give us some direction as to how to do that. The first instruction that the apostle Paul gives us about how to begin again, how to live is this: “…stand firm. Let nothing move you….” He is saying that we should let nothing in this world deter us, keep us from living the abundant life that Jesus came to give us (John 10:10b). We should let no bad thing, no evil thing, not even a good thing keep us from living our lives for the Lord.

For the early Christians, there were some obstacles to living the Christian life, especially in Corinth. Corinth was an evil place, a wicked place. If you were a Christian in Corinth you could count on feeling out of place, out of step with most of the people who lived there. If you were a Christian in Corinth you could count on encountering persecution in one form or another. Paul was telling them don't let that stop you from living like you should “…stand firm. Let nothing move you….”

Paul from the context of this verse, the preceding verses, was also talking about the discouragement caused by death. The discouragement caused by knowing that we all will someday die a physical death and the discouragement that comes from the deaths of those that we love. The fact of death looming ahead of us is something that we all have to deal with. Both of my parents passed away in 2007 and there is something about your parents no longer being alive that changes your perspective - it makes you more aware of your own mortality. This year there have been so many that I know who are around my age who have passed away. Last Monday one more of my high school classmates passed away. It makes you wonder sometimes if you are next. We have seen so many of our young people in this area who have died at an early age, and it is particularly hard when you are close to them.

What is it that Paul would say to me? What is it that Paul would say to you? “…stand firm. Let nothing move you….” Not even death. “…stand firm. Let nothing move you….”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

03.30.17

It's Up to You

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 NKJV.

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. - Romans 8:16-17 NKJV.

But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. - Galatians 3:25-27 NKJV.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. - Galatians 3:28-29 NKJV.

Have you ever wondered if you were adopted? Some people have had that surprise in their lives, and Matthew Roberts is one of them. He found out from his sister when he was ten-years-old that he had been adopted. After Matthew became an adult, he was able to locate, and to make contact with his natural mother. Matthew's natural mother, Terry, did not at first want to reveal the name of the father. However, she eventually told Matthew the truth that his birth was the result of a rape in 1967. His father, Matthew now knows, is Charles Manson. Of course, it was a shock to discover what had been hidden from him, and for a while he sank into depression. Matthew says, “I wasn't able to speak for a day” after finding out about his father. Matthew believes that he is different from his father in that he, unlike his father, is a very peaceful and non-violent person.

I enjoy genealogy and find it to be somewhat like solving a mystery. For the most part, I have been excited to learn about the lives that my ancestors lived; however, with a couple of them, I was sad to find out that I was related to them. For the vast majority of people if you could go back in time researching your genealogy you would find at least one or two of those ancestors that you might call the black sheep of the family. Matthew Roberts found one a little more closely related than most of us, but he appears to be handling this unpleasant knowledge well.

The good news is that we are not responsible for how our ancestors lived their lives. We are responsible for ourselves, and how we live our own lives. Of course, how we live our lives will definitely have an impact upon our descendants.

The even greater good news is that if we know Jesus as our personal Savior, we have been adopted into the royal family of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We have become heirs of God Himself, and our inheritance will be eternally wondrous.

Even if your natural father is Charles Manson or even Adolf Hitler, you do not have to live like they did. You can instead live your life for the Lord, and become more and more like Jesus. You can establish a spiritual heritage of goodness, and righteousness, to pass down through the ages. It's up to you.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

03.29.17

Foolish Living

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. - Ephesians 5:15-21 NKJV.

In Anchorage, Alaska, there was an incredible sequence of events fueled by consumption of alcohol. Two people were arrested as a result, and both had blood alcohol levels two times the limit for legally driving. Benjamin Brady while leaving the Gaslight Lounge in his Cadillac Escalade was hit by another vehicle. Brady then left his vehicle and physically hit the driver of the other vehicle. Meanwhile, Jane Tukrook got into and drove off with the Cadillac Escalade. Tukrook while driving the now stolen vehicle ran down and hit Brady's wife, Kristin Trujillo-Brady. According to Tukrook, Kristin had verbally insulted her and her children. Kristin apparently had been a passenger in the Escalade prior to Tukrook stealing the vehicle. Kristin did have a severe cut to her head, but it was not a life threatening injury.

After Tukrook was arrested, handcuffed, and awaiting transport to jail in the back of a patrol car, she kicked the rear window causing $500 in damage. Tukrook is facing additional charges by frightening bystanders who thought the Escalade was going to hit them. She is facing a total of seven criminal charges. Brady was charged with drunk driving and assault.

Even without drinking or doing drugs we sometimes act as fools, but when we consume alcohol, illegal drugs, or abuse legal drugs it makes the possibility that we will become fools a much higher probability. It is obvious in the event in Anchorage that these were not people that were filled with the Spirit. Instead, they were controlled by alcohol, and their own fleshly desires. As a result the three primarily involved in the event in Anchorage will look back upon that day as being an evil day.

The apostle Paul is not just talking about the hazards of being controlled by alcohol or other substances. Ephesians 5:18 goes far beyond that to include anything that would control our lives instead of the Holy Spirit. What are some of the other things that can sometimes control our lives and make us act like fools? Greed, envy, jealousy, lust, anger, bitterness, selfish ambition, and I am sure there are other things as well.

If we want to avoid acting like fools, and having countless evil days, we need to surrender control of our lives to the Holy Spirit. As Paul says in Galatians 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” When our lives are controlled by the Spirit the “fruit of the Spirit…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)” will enable us to live wisely, and to enjoy the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

03.28.17

Get Back

I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” - Luke 15:18-19 NKJV.

Eric Steward says he just wanted to take a “nice peaceful drive,” but ended up making a wrong turn. The 81-year-old man drove for nine hours, and about 400 miles (643 km) from Yass, NSW to Geelong, Victoria in Australia, before asking for help. He finally stopped, and asked a police officer to help him. He gave the officer his cell phone, so he could talk to his wife, and the officer was able to help him find his way home.

There's an old Beatles song called “Get Back.” A few of the lyrics are:

Go home
Get back, get back
Back to where you once belonged
Get back, get back
Back to where you once belonged
Get back Jo Jo

The Prodigal Son of Luke 15 was not really lost in the physical sense like Eric Steward. The Prodigal Son knew where he was, and he knew where home was at. However, the Prodigal Son has a lot in common with Eric in that he took a wrong turn in life, and he just kept on going. They both finally reached a point where the ride was no longer fun, and they just wanted to go home - back to where they belonged. To get back where they belonged, they both had to swallow some pride.

Are you off track with your life? You know you took a wrong turn back there somewhere, but how do you get back on the right track? How do you get back to where you belong?

Step one to get back to where you belong is to swallow your pride and ask for help. Ask your Heavenly Father to help you to return to where you know you should be. If there are sins that have led you astray, confess them, and forsake them.

Step two to get back to where you belong is to do what you know you should be doing spiritually. You know you need to pray. Jesus said, “Men ought to always pray (Luke 18:1).” Set some time away every day, even if it is only for a few minutes that you are going to visit with your Lord, and talk with Him about what is going on in your life. Read your Bible, even if it is only a verse or two every day. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).” Attend church regularly and faithfully, unless you are providentially hindered from doing so. The writer of Hebrews gives us this command, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).”

Step Three, to get back to where you belong, is to continually repeat Step One and Step Two.

Go Home! Back to where you once belonged.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

03.27.17

It's Loose!

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. - 1 John 1:8-10 NKJV.

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. - James 2:10 NKJV.

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…. - Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV.

If you happen to see a green reptile, five feet long, with a long snout wrapped with tape and a long tail wandering around; call the U. S. Fish and Wildlife service. They've lost one! Just in case here's their website address www.fws.gov Dave Brady an officer for the service had a great idea after he captured the reptile. His daughter's school in Panama City Beach, Florida was having a show-and-tell day; and so Officer Brady taped up the alligator's snout, and showed off the reptile to his daughter's class. According to a spokesperson for the wildlife service “They were impressed.” However, when the officer was putting the alligator back into his truck it jumped out and ran to a nearby pond. So far, the alligator has escaped being captured and is still on the loose.

Some of us have pets that we keep, and we are very attached to them. I am not talking about little animals like dogs and cats, these pets are spiritual. These spiritual pets are what we like to think of as little sins that everyone does to some extent. Here are some of those spiritual pets that we become attached to: procrastination/laziness, lying, substance abuse, gambling, anger, lust, ambition, greed, gluttony, dishonesty, gossiping, envy, arrogance, foul language and, as Paul ends his list in Galatians 5, “and the like.”

We become comfortable with our little pets, and usually they are well behaved. It is rare if we engage in lying that we are caught in telling a really big whopper, and even if we are we can laugh it off. But if the FBI comes to your door, and you do not tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, you can end up in prison just like Martha Stewart and many others have. Our substance abuse may seem like a minor thing until the patrol car lights are flashing in our rear view mirror, and we face the embarrassment of arrest with our names in the newspaper, and possibly even some time in jail or prison. Lust is one of those sins that are insidious. Lust in the mind can spill out into the physical resulting in adultery, divorce, and even murder (as in the case of King David and Bathsheba).

Our little pet sins are usually kept under control, you know we have their snouts all taped up, and we try to keep them on a leash. What many people forget about alligators is that they can jump, and they can run. The same with our little pet sins, sometimes they have a mind of their own, and they can jump, they can run, and they can cause all kinds of havoc in our lives. So, before your pet sin makes a break for it, now is the time to remove it from your life. 1 John 1:9 is always a good place to start.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

03.22.17

Just Having Some Fun

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.

To do evil is like sport to a fool, but a man of understanding has wisdom. - Proverbs 10:23 NKJV.

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” - John 8:34 NKJV.

After the San Juan County Sheriff's Department in New Mexico received a report of a disturbance at a party in an isolated outdoor area, deputies were sent to investigate. However, upon arriving at the scene, they did not find anyone present. While walking back to their vehicle one of the deputies unlocked it with an electronic keyless entry device. When the deputies were a short distance away from their vehicle, Matthew Anderson, 21-years-old, jumped in and drove away before the deputies could stop him. The stolen vehicle was found about three hours later and Anderson was found and arrested not much later walking down the highway east of Aztec, New Mexico. Anderson was charged with theft of the vehicle and obstructing a police officer. When asked why he stole the car, Anderson said he thought it would be fun.

Matthew Anderson somewhat typifies a person who is adrift in life. His priority in life is simply to have fun, because he appears to love the world and “all that is in the world.” Stealing the deputies' vehicle seemed like a fun thing to do or as the writer of Proverbs puts it “sport to a fool.” The apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:23, “For the wages of sin is death.” Anderson received some wages for his fun; he paid a fine of $250 plus court costs, was placed on unsupervised probation, and he must participate in alcohol screening, and attend alcohol abuse classes. It could have been much worse for him, but still it was a costly little bit of “fun” that he enjoyed for a few brief minutes.

Actually, Matthew was only being obedient to his master. His master is sin as Jesus says, and his master will continue to allow him to enjoy more of his “fun” along with more of the “wages of sin” being paid to him. As Matthew has more and more “fun” his wages will increase until on his ultimate payday, he receives, “death.” However, Matthew does not have to continue to participate in his “fun.” He can choose a new master and instead of being paid with death, Matthew can begin to receive life, because “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23b).”

Just before the writer of Proverbs says, “To do evil is like sport to a fool” he says this, “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” Unlike living life just to “fun,” there is no sorrow, no regrets in living your life for the Lord.

If your “fun” has been giving you more and more increases in wages that have been more and more unpleasant, maybe you ought to consider a change in allegiance. Call upon the Name of the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:13) and “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).” You will be free, free from the wages of death, and instead of having sin as your master, Jesus will be your master, and He says, “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 11:29-30).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

03.21.17

How to be Happy

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. - Matthew 6:19-24 NKJV.

Mark Dreier is not as well-known as Bernie Madoff and his fraudulent schemes were not as far reaching, but they were devastating to all those they touched. Dreier's schemes only reached into the hundreds of millions, whereas Madoff's were in the billions of dollars. However, they are both in prison now where hopefully they are no longer destroying the lives of the people around them. Dreier is serving 20 years in prison for his fraud. Why did Dreier do it? When asked he said, “I thought it would make me happy.” Of course that's what so many people in this world think, “If only I had more money, I would be happy.”

Then there are those who have decided to live without money. You can do a search on Google for “living without money” and find them. There are thousands of them, and they have dropped out of modern society as we know it. Daniel Suelo is one of those “living without money.” Nine years ago Daniel simply stopped using money and started living in a cave, literally. Daniel uses a public library computer to write a blog at zerocurrency.blogspot.com and he says about money, “When I lived with money, I was always lacking. Money represents lack. Money represents things in the past (debt) and things in the future (credit), but money never represents what is present.”

There are extreme views about money with Dreier and Madoff representing one extreme, and Suelo representing the other extreme. Of course, both views are incorrect if we want to live effectively as Christians. Money is not, in and of itself, evil. The apostle Paul does not condemn money as being evil in his epistle to Timothy instead he says, “…the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil… (1 Timothy 6:10).”

Money is a tool which can be used for good, or it can be used for evil. All of the material things that we have in this life actually belongs to God and have been given to us by God. We are stewards of God; we are responsible for the proper use of what we have been given to further the Kingdom of God (Matthew 25:14-30).

The way to happiness in this life is to stop being “doubled minded (James 4:8)” by trying to serve two masters as Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Stop trying to gain the world, and at the same time to live for God, because it is not possible to do. Let go of the world and the things of this world, and begin to serve only God. As Paul says to Timothy and to us, “But you, O man of God, flee these things (the love of money) and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith… (1 Timothy 6:11-12a).” Then you will have “godliness with contentment” which is “great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.16.17

Expect Trouble When...

His trouble shall return upon his own head, And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown. – Psalm 7:16 NKJV.

…but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil…. – Romans 2:8-9a NKJV.

The NIV makes Romans 2:8-9a more clear: But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil.

In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me. – Psalm 86:7 NKJV.

Michael Orchard saved the dog! Michael risked his life driving his BMW across neighbor’s lawns smashing through fences to rescue the dog from the fire. Once he was at the neighbor’s home that was on fire, he broke through their patio door at the back of the house, and rescued a large white dog. When police officers arrived Michael was standing a safe distance away from the home holding the dog. Michael’s a hero right? Wrong. The house WAS NOT on fire! Michael admitted that he had taken cough medicine (was that cough medicine with hydrocodone?) and also mixed in LSD with the cough medicine. Michael has found himself to be in some trouble from his “rescue” of the dog. (Daily Mail 10.16.16; New York Daily News 10.15.16; TimesUnion 10.14.16)

When Michael took the cough medicine and mixed in LSD he could have rightfully expected…trouble to follow, as in go directly to jail. When an elementary teacher in Wisconsin went on a student field trip drunk she could have rightfully expected…trouble to follow, as in fired. If you drink too much and get in your car and drive off…you can rightfully expect trouble to follow, as in arrest, jail or prison. If you rob a bank you can rightfully expect…trouble to follow. If you, because of road rage, run someone off the road or start shooting at other vehicles you can rightfully expect…trouble to follow.

There is a general spiritual rule here as the Psalmist says, “His trouble shall return upon his own head….” As the apostle Paul indicates in Romans 2 if you do evil you can expect trouble and distress to follow. If you rob, steal, vandalize, and hurt people it will not turn out well for you. If you oppress others, cheat others, or curse others it will turn out well for you.

How can we avoid trouble? The Bible has some excellent advice:

Romans 13:13 NKJV, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.”

2 Timothy 2:23 NKJV, “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.”

James 4:1-3 NKJV, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

To sum this up: If you cause trouble you can expect trouble. If you do what is right, you can avoid much trouble.

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.15.17

Call for Help!

Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. – Psalm 4:1 NKJV.

But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The Lord will hear when I call to Him. – Psalm 4:3 NKJV.

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” – Psalm 50:15 NKJV.

As for me, I will call upon God, And the Lord shall save me. – Psalm 55:16 NKJV.

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Romans 10:13 NKJV.

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart. – Luke 18:1 NKJV.

What would you do if someone was robbing a convenience store and when you called 911 the operator hung up on you? What would you do if you had someone with a serious medical condition and called 911, and the operator hung up on you? Those calls were hung up on by Creshanda Williams a 911 operator in Houston, Texas. Creshanda hung up on thousands of other 911 calls, because it was reported “she did not want to talk to anyone at that time.” Some callers she just answered and hung up on immediately. Other callers she said things like “Ain’t nobody got time for that, for real.”

The robber of the convenience store shot and killed the clerk before the man calling for help could connect with another 911 operator. The woman with a blood clot in her lungs survived after her husband was hung up on while trying to do CPR with one hand and calling with the other. Creshanda has been fired, terminated, and faces possible charges in some 800 of those hang ups. If she is sentenced consecutively for each of those charges she might be given 800 years in jail plus fines. (Daily Mail 10.12.16; CNN 10.19.16; ClicktoHouston 10.14.16; ABC 13 Houston 10.17.16)

We do live in a time when we may be faced with unexpected dangers and threats. We also live in a time when many of us have phones, and the ability to call for help on those phones. We have come to rely upon police and other emergency personnel responding quickly to our calls for help. When David was being chased by King Saul and others there were no 911 operators to call. Hiding in a cave with those who wanted to kill him close by, David had only one source of help. That help was the Lord God. His God sustained him through the years of difficult and trying times.

Even in this time of modern technology, technology cannot solve all of our problems, meet all of our needs, or always give us the help when we may need it. Technology is only as good as the technology, and the humans who operate it. Phone systems and other technological devices sometimes fail. The humans, who operate those systems and devices, are just humans, who sometimes also fail.

Jesus says we ought to always pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray without ceasing.” The NIV puts this as “pray continually.” The point is that we should not wait until we have an emergency so desperate that we are forced to call 911. We should be praying everyday as if our lives and our futures depend upon it. Because…our lives are in His hands and our God is our Help. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.14.17

Unknowingly Lost

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. – Matthew 18:11 NKJV.

My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. – Job 23:11 NKJV.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. – Psalm 1:6 NKJV.

Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. – Psalm 25:4 NKJV.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. – Psalm 37:23 NKJV.

As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways, The Lord shall lead them away with the workers of iniquity. Peace be upon Israel! – Psalm 125:5 NKJV.

So you may walk in the way of goodness, And keep to the paths of righteousness. – Proverbs 2:20 NKJV.

A man in China working on a temporary job some 1,000 miles from home decided that he wanted to go home for the Chinese New Year celebrations. He was in the Shandong Province and his home is in the Heilongjiang Province. Since he did not have the money to travel by train or bus he began the journey on his bicycle. Thirty days later he was stopped by traffic police, and he learned the sad truth that he had been pedaling in the wrong direction 300 miles. So now this poor man was 1,300 miles away from home.

How did this happen? The Chinese man cannot read, so being unable to read maps or signs he depended upon verbal directions from those he passed on the way. Those directions were wrong! Thankfully, the police officers and staff at the toll station bought the man a ticket home. (China Daily 01.24.17; BBC 01.25.17)

Have you ever been physically lost not knowing for sure where you were at, or how to go back to your home or to your hotel? It can be very frustrating and tiring to learn you are far off course, or have been going in the wrong direction for hours. It is less likely for that to occur in these times with GPS, although they are not always accurate, and can lead you the wrong way. Also, we have cellphones, and can call and ask for directions.

Spiritually, there are ways that you can be lost, and not be aware of your being lost. The worst spiritual way to be lost is to not have Jesus as your Savior. As Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus is the “way” to eternal life and there is no other “way.” I heard Charles Stanley say Sunday that the worst thing that can happen to a person is to go out into eternity without Christ as Savior. He also said the best decision that a person can make in life is to receive Jesus as their Savior. This is truth!

Once you know Jesus as your Savior, you can become lost from God’s plan (way) for your life. The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:176, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.” If that is your situation you should pray as the Psalmist in Psalm 5:8, “Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face.” However, sometimes you may not even know you are not following God’s plan (way) for your life. I believe I was in that situation for many years. Only by seeking God through His Word and prayer can you know for sure you are on the right track with your life. It should be a continual prayer for us to pray for God to lead us in His righteousness to fulfill His plan, will, and purpose in our lives to the ultimate degree.

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.13.17

The Wrong Step

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly (NIV: Blessed is the one who does not walk in STEP with the wicked), Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful. – Psalm 1:1 NKJV.

The STEPS of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand. – Psalm 37:23-24 NKJV.

You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands. For now You number my STEPS, but do not watch over (keep track of – NIV) my sin. My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and You cover my iniquity. – Job 14:15-17 NKJV.

Ryan Montoya is an experienced mountain climber who has climbed peaks in Nepal. He has also written a book “The Pilgrim’s Ladder” about climbing and life, and it is available on Amazon (His parents hope he will sell enough books to buy a new climbing helmet.). Recently Ryan had a little mishap while climbing Pyramid Peak which is near Aspen, Colorado. Not far from the summit Ryan made a step, and the ice fell away beneath him. He fell, and slid 2,000 feet down the mountain; and as he fell he screamed, prayed, and thought his life might be ending.

Ryan’s helmet was torn apart, his left elbow was dislocated, and his hip was fractured. He did survive two nights in freezing temperatures before being rescued. He does have some frostbite and doctors are trying to save the fingers on one of his hands. Montoya’s parents give the credit for Ryan’s survival to his faith and prayers of the community. (KRCR News 03.10.17; Denver Post 03.08.17)

Can you imagine the horror of taking one step that results in a catastrophic fall nearly ending your life? It was a fall that will no doubt change Ryan’s life. Will he continue climbing? Will he be able to? Will he be more cautious?

Just one wrong step, can change a life. One wrong step climbing a mountain can ruin your life, and one wrong step in life can ruin your life too. King David’s adultery and the arranging of the murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah resulted in the death of their son. It also had a ruinous effect upon many of his descendants. Jeroboam also had a son die and a far worse judgment fall upon him. The prophet Ahijah prophesied in 1 Kings 14:9-11 (And it came to pass as he said.), “You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me. Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country. The Lord has spoken!”

Just one wrong step, or in the case of Jeroboam, many wrong steps can destroy a life. The difference between David and Jeroboam is this: David repented and acknowledged his sin (Psalm 51), but Jeroboam never did. What do you think Ryan Montoya would have chosen in the midst of his fall if he had been given a choice as to whether to continue falling or to stop? When you make a sinful misstep in life, you do not have to continue down that path. You do not have to continue falling! You can confess your sin to your Lord (1 John 1:9) and turn around.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

03.09.17

The Wrong and the Right

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. - 1 Timothy 6:17-19 NKJV.

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all.

Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.

Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You. - 1 Chronicles 29: 11-14 NKJV.

Something is wrong with a 22-year-old Chinese woman, Dan Dan, having to sell herself in marriage to raise the money for a classmate's surgery. About $24,000 is needed to cover the treatment her friend needs for encephalomyelitis. There is something wrong about the Sultan of Brunei spending about $24,000 for a haircut when the money could be used in a much better way. There is something wrong about anyone buying a $24,000 diamond studded computer mouse offered by a Swiss company when the money could be used to help some who are facing desperate situations. There is something wrong about paying $24,000 for two melons at an auction in Japan, even though the melons were exquisite.

There is something right about a third-grader in Florida raising $24,000 selling lemonade to give to a cancer center. There is something right about the Franklin Central High School students in Indiana, who raised $24,000 for the Riley Hospital for Children. There is something right about the Arizona IHOP raising and giving $24,000 to the ChildHelp organization that is dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect, and at-risk children. There is something right about the Naples Women's Club in Florida raising and awarding $24,000 toward 18 college scholarships.

As David points out, “all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You.” We are only stewards of those material things that we have in our possession. Everything that we have actually belongs to God. The apostle Paul advises Timothy and us of how those who do have material things ought to use them as he writes, “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.”

We may not be rich, and we may never have $24,000 in our bank account or even $24 in our bank account. However, even the dollar or the penny that we have, and the clothes that we wear; belongs ultimately not to us, but to God. We are to be good stewards of that penny, and of those clothes. As James, the half-brother of our Lord, says, “…to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

03.06.17

When Bad Things Happen

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. - Romans 5:1-4 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.

We often think of bad things happening to people who have done something that they should not have done. However, bad things sometimes happen to people who are just living life, doing the best they can day after day.

Anna Ramirez and her family encountered this sad truth up close and very personally when they were unexpectedly, and without reason evicted from their home. The Ramirez home and furniture was auctioned and sold to the highest bidder by their bank. The family was given only three hours to leave the home with their personal possessions. The entire unfortunate incident was the result of an error by the Miami-Dade County Clerk's Office. Eventually, a judge did rectify the situation, and the Ramirez family recovered their home and furniture.

Donald May encountered another traumatic incident when he was driving home from work. An officer stopped him, because of an expired tag on his car. Donald had a mint in his mouth when the officer stepped up to the window of his car. Seeing the white mint, the officer believed it was crack cocaine, and arrested Donald and impounded his car. The officer made several claims that were false and Donald ended up falsely imprisoned in jail for three months. He was finally released after tests proved that the mint was just a mint and not cocaine. Meanwhile, Donald lost his job, his apartment, and his car which the police department auctioned off. As Donald says, “I lost everything.”

Bad things do happen to good people who are just busy trying to live life. How are we to respond as Christians when those bad things happen to us? Do we blame God? Do we give up on trying to live the Christian life? What are we to do?

What we are to do is to stand up, put one foot in front of the other, continue on with living life, and serving our Lord. We are the beneficiaries of “grace in which we stand.” That grace was not, and is not free; it was paid for by the blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. While we are still clothed in this flesh, and living on Planet Earth bad things do happen. We must not let that deter us from our mission to be “ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).” Instead of being discouraged, we must stand in the grace with which we have been blessed. Instead of being broken and beaten by life, we should be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that (our) your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

How is it possible for us to be steadfast in the face of evil? We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13), and we are His “ambassadors.” Instead of focusing in upon the trouble, the problems, the pain that life may have sent your way - put your focus upon Jesus: “…consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls (Hebrews 12:3).” With your focus on Jesus you will have “perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3),” and you will be empowered and able to meet any challenge that you may encounter in life.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

03.03.17

Dry Lands and Green Pastures

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures…. - Psalm 23:1-2a NKJV.

O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. - Psalm 63:1 NKJV.

The thrill seekers riding the Invertigo rollercoaster in Santa Clara, California found their thrill lasting a little longer than the planned 70 seconds yesterday. There reportedly was a problem with a lift chain which brought everything to a sudden halt leaving 24 riders just hanging out with their feet dangling. No one was upside down during the wait, but they were either leaning over backward or leaning forward at a severe angle, and it was a very warm day with the temperature in the nineties. Firefighters rescued the riders using a cherry picker one at a time. It only took an hour to rescue the first rider and close to five hours before they were all on the ground. None of the riders indicated that they would want to repeat the rollercoaster ride of their lives any time soon.

Living life as children of God can sometimes be like a rollercoaster ride that comes to a sudden stop. However, it may take years before it starts to move again. Some of the greatest servants of God experienced it. King David experienced life stopping in a good place as in “green pastures” and also in “a dry and thirsty land.” You may have experienced life in both places too. David's experiences were both literal and spiritual. As with David, in whatever place you may find yourself, God will use it to mold and shape you so that you will be more and more conformed to the image of Christ.

The disciples of Jesus spent about three years with Him before His crucifixion and resurrection. It is said of Paul that he had his three years with Jesus too. From the time he was forced to leave Jerusalem and go to the isolation of Tarsus, until Barnabus came to find him again, must have seemed like an eternity. In the quietness of isolation, the apostle Paul received the finishing touches upon his character that he would need to faithfully carry out the missionary journeys, and persevere through the persecution he would face. In the quietness of the isolation, the Lord's still, small voice must have been amplified many times over.

I have only once thought that I heard the Lord speak to me audibly. It was years ago, before I was a pastor, and I was working in the oilfield. I was seeking God's will for my life, praying for Him to bring about His will. I believed then, and know now that He had called me to preach His Word, but why was I not being allowed to do so? It was a dry, hot summer, and I was on a deserted oilfield location putting the finishing touches on an inspection job, while the rest of the crew was at another location. There was no one else there. I was thinking and praying all of these things on that day, which seemed to stretch out forever, like every other day that summer. That was when I heard someone call my name. I only heard one word, just my name. I stopped, and turned in a circle looking for who it was…but there was no one there. One word, but it was enough to sustain me through those times, and into the ministry.

In these days that I am living in now the Lord has made me to lie down in “green pastures.” It is not a perfect place; however, it is a good place that my life is in now. I believe that God may possibly have something more for me, and if so, in His timing it will be revealed when I have been properly prepared for it.

Whether you are in a “dry and thirsty land,” or the Lord has made you to lie “down in green pastures,” it is not a wasted time. He is molding and shaping you for greater service as you come to be more and more like Jesus. Listen for His Voice...

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

02.13.17

Directionally Challenged

Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a smooth path…. - Psalm 27:11 NKJV.

Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil. - Proverbs 4:26-27 NKJV.

Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. - Psalm 37:4-6 NKJV.

Max Kirsch had a few drinks, and thought that the tunnel he drove into would take him to the downtown area of Bochum, Germany, so he could watch a movie. Max finally realized that something was wrong when his car ground to a halt after the suspension system on the vehicle failed. Even though the ride must have been terribly rough, he did not realize that anything was wrong until he got out of his car, and found he had actually driven into a train tunnel. Because of his taking the wrong road, Max now has to have his car repaired, and has pending driving while intoxicated charges. Taking the wrong road caused some disruption as trains had to be stopped while police and fire personnel removed the vehicle from the tunnel.

There are some who are directionally challenged, and end up going down train tunnels, and going the wrong way on one way streets. Sadly, I have just heard about another severe accident with several deaths from a driver going the wrong way. In my only experience with driving in another country, I found myself going the wrong way on a one way street in Matamoros, Mexico. I thought that was scary, so we parked our car, and found a taxi to take us to the Matamoros Market. The taxi driver knew where he was going, but I was rethinking my decision when he turned into the wrong lane to drive through a red light. I was a little concerned too when he waited for us at a bar to have a few drinks while we were shopping. Actually, our experience was mild compared to what one couple on their honeymoon shared about their Matamoros taxi ride, “If you're a fan of roller coasters, especially ones that become derailed mid-ride, you'll love a taxi ride in Matamoros. Taxi drivers have a completely different set of rules for driving than the rest of the population. Taxi drivers have no speed limit. They also have the right of way. Everywhere. The roads are very narrow, and if oncoming traffic is in your lane, the taxi driver may (and does) take to the sidewalk. Taxi drivers also use one way streets a lot. Since they are taxi drivers, however, they don't have to go the correct way down the street. This is the primary cause of the sidewalk driving, I believe. As I climbed shakily out of the taxi, I assured the driver that no, I would not be needing his services for the trip back to the border. I would walk.”

Many people are a lot like Max and Matamoros taxi drivers; they know where they want to go, but they keep making the wrong turns to get there. They want to have a good life, but really have no idea about how to successfully arrive at their goal. There are thousands and thousands of books that have been written about how to live life, but do they have the correct directional information, or are they filled with misinformation? How do you know the map of life that you have is providing the right directions? It may be that there are some great books about living life that are out there, but how do you sort them out, and find one that really works?

The great thing about the Bible is that you can trust it, because the Bible has a proven track record of thousands of years, and it has been used successfully by millions of people. The directions for life provided within the pages of the Bible have been proven to actually work in the laboratory of life. If you want to make your life path easier, smoother, and better than do this: “Commit your way to the LORD.” Study the pages of God's life map, the Bible, every day and then “He shall give you the desires of your heart,” and “bring forth your righteousness as the light.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.13.17

Take the Sword

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:17 NKJV.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12 NKJV.

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55:11 NKJV.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. – 1 Peter 5:8 NKJV.

Tony Aarts who lives in North Fort Myers, Florida was having a fun day playing golf at the Magnolia Landing Golf and Country Club when he nearly lost his life. Tony was near the fourth hole when he heard a splash from a water hazard which was only a few feet away. Tony says, “As I was walking about 5 to 6 feet away from the water I heard a splash, and as soon as I heard that splash I knew it was an alligator, and he got me.”

The alligator had latched onto Tony’s right ankle, and began to pull him back into the water. Tony ended up on his back as the gator was pulling him down and he says, “I remember having a club in my hand, and as soon as he had me in the water up to my waist, I started hitting him over the head.” The gator kept on pulling Tony into the water, and he knew he would soon be completely under as the water was already up to his chest. He then says, “He was looking at me with his big eyes, and I kept hitting him. I started hitting him in the eye socket. I hit him three times and he let go of my foot, so I crawled back out and by that time the guys were there.” Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission captured the gator.

Tony says, “It’s a good thing I had that putter. It’s a good, solid, heavy putter. I guess a golfer should always keep a club in his hand.” (Wink News 02.09.17)

We may never have a life and death struggle with an alligator; at least I hope we don’t! What a shock that must have been to be having a fun day enjoying some golf and suddenly find that you are fighting for your life! Tony Aarts refused to give up, and kept on fighting even when it looked hopeless as he says, “And I’m thinking I’m getting deeper and deeper, and I thought you’re not gonna get me.” Whether it’s a beast like an alligator, or a terminal disease, life does have countless challenges that can come upon us unexpectedly.

The apostle Peter warns us of a spiritual beast that is always there lurking in the background seeking another victim. That old devil “walks about” looking to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10a)” the life of every child of God. That beast of evil wants to tear away every good thing in your life, and replace it with death.

The apostle Paul tells us of how God delivered him from the beast, “I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom (2 Timothy 4:17c-18).” As God delivered Paul from the beast, He is able to deliver you and me. No, we will not be able to defeat this spiritual beast with a good golf putter, but we have been given all the spiritual weapons needed to win the battles.

Let us begin each day by taking up the “sword of the spirit” which is far better than any golf putter. The “word of God” is powerful beyond our imaginations and will accomplish God’s purpose. By the “word of God” the worlds were spoken into existence(Genesis 1). So, when the beast of this world suddenly grabs hold of you, take hold of the “sword of the spirit” and stab the beast. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7b).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

02.06.17

Are You Seeing Stars?

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. - 1 John 5:14-15 NKJV.

Eighteen-year-old Kimberley Vlaminck is seeing stars; at least she sees them whenever she looks in a mirror. She is seeing stars in the mirror, because she now has 56 stars tattooed on her face. Kimberley claims that the tattoo artist at the Tattoo Boy shop in Courtrai, Belgium misunderstood her, because of his poor command of English and French. Kimberley went to sleep while the artist was working and woke up seeing stars. Kimberley in tears said this about her condition, “It is horrible, he has turned me into a freak. I can’t go out on the street now without people looking at me.” However, the tattoo artist Rouslan Toumaniantz says that Kimberley “got what she wanted.” Rouslan also indicated that Kimberley only became upset after her Dad became angry and her boyfriend left her. Kimberley is now suing so that she can obtain the funds necessary to have the stars removed from her face.

In life, it is true that sometimes we get what we ask for, and when we do; the result, the outcome is sometimes very bad. Spiritually, we can always have a good outcome by seeking and asking according to God’s will. We can have “confidence” that if we ask “anything according to His will” that we will receive what we “asked of Him.” God loves you so much that Jesus suffered and died for you (John 3:16). Of course, God wants the very best for your life. Of course, God’s will to be done in your life is the very best thing that could happen because, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).”

How often though do we turn in every direction except to God when we have needs? You need a job and so without any prayer you immediately start contacting friends, networking, sending out resumes, and filling out applications. You are facing the prospect of having your electricity turned off because of failure to pay for it, or you are unable to pay for your medications, or feed your family - so what do you do? Rob a bank?

What does Jesus say in Matthew 6:33? “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness….” Everything in our lives should be bathed in prayer. Before you jump to conclusions and in your desperation wake up seeing stars you ought to first…PRAY! Before you give up on ever having meaning and purpose in your life you should first…PRAY! Before you take that jump and do something crazy, take some time to…PRAY! Before you give in to your addiction as being something that is impossible to overcome…PRAY! Before you have someone give you 56 star tattoos on your face, maybe you ought take a moment and…PRAY!!!! As the apostle Paul puts it, we ought to “pray without ceasing (pray continually - NIV) in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

02.06.17

Inconvenient

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” - Matthew 18:11-14 NKJV.

I read an amazing story this morning (2009) that happened in Bridgeport, Connecticut; a bride who had just left her wedding reception spotted thick smoke coming from a house. Georgette Fogary Clemons yelled at her friend Hanifah Bost, “Stop the car, stop the car.” Even though Georgette was still wearing her wedding dress, she got out of the car and ran through the thick smoke into the house. She could see that someone was in the house, and when they failed to come out after she shouted at them, she went in after them. Hanifah ran after her and said later, “I don't know what she was thinking, she had just gotten married.” Because of Georgette’s heroics the family was able to escape the inferno that soon erupted and everyone is okay. But Georgette did not stop there, she ran next door to warn the neighbors too. After it was all over Georgette said, “My shoes got messed up, but what are you going to do? At least the people are OK.”

It was terribly inconvenient for Georgette to disrupt her plans and become a heroine saving the lives of those in the burning house. Georgette had plans, but those plans were changed when she saw the danger that an unknown family was in. She rushed in risking her own life to save the lives of people that she had never met. She could have lost her life, she did have her wedding day schedule changed, and it is likely that the course of her own life has been changed because of her heroic actions too.

It is usually inconvenient, and even sometimes dangerous to share the gospel with the lost. There are times when we can make plans and approach our friends and relatives at a time that is comfortable for us and for them. However, that rarely happens, and we have to take advantage of opportunities that are presented, or make opportunities to present the gospel. Sometimes it is awkward, and sometimes it is terribly inconvenient; but the Spirit within us, compels us to say the words that will bring eternal life.

Often the opportunities to reach the lost will be thrust upon us unexpectedly just as Georgette unexpectedly found herself trying to save a family from the fire. I pray that we will have the courage to take advantage of those opportunities. Jesus came “to save that which was lost.” If we are His children surely we will try to do the same, even if we have to leave the comforts of our usual life to do it.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2003

02.04.17

A Radical Choice

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. - Matthew 5:27-30 NKJV.

Aron Ralston is a mountain climber who has faced adversity in the past. Just a few months before his latest test from nature, he survived an avalanche that buried him and two friends on a Colorado mountain. Aron, on a Saturday, went hiking into Blue John Canyon in Shadowlands National Park in Utah. As Aron was descending into the canyon, an 800 to 1000 pound boulder fell, crushing his arm and pinning him. By Tuesday, he had run out of water, and by Thursday he decided the only way to escape was to amputate his own arm. Aron cut off his arm below the elbow with a pocketknife. He then rappelled down a cliff, and walked a few miles before flagging down a vacationing Dutch couple, who called for help. Aron is expected to recover from his ordeal. Sgt Mitch Vetere of the Emery County Sheriff’s Office in Green River, Utah said, “He’s pretty darn tough. He wanted to live. He saved himself.”

Jesus talks of cutting off your hand, or plucking out your eye, if they cause you to succumb to temptation. Most commentators do not believe Jesus was speaking in literal terms. Most Christians and churches have not interpreted this as being literal either; because we do not have eye plucking services, or right hand removal services. But Jesus, in these vivid statements, relates very powerfully the need to protect ourselves from the ravages of sin; even when there is great personal cost involved.

Aron Ralston did save his life, but it was at a great cost. However, it was the only choice Aron could see that he had, if he wanted to continue living. If you are addicted to the use of illegal substances, it may be that to save your life you will have to make a radical choice. You may need to ask someone to help you, and then enter a treatment program for a substantial length of time. To do such a thing may be like cutting off your arm, but if you want to have life, it must be done. If you have other addictions, the only way to be free of them will be through a radical change in your life. It just depends on whether or not you want to really have life, or just go through the motions of living.

If you decide that you are going to make that radical change in your life, you will not be alone. Jesus will be with you, and will empower you, to make the right choices that are needed. As the apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).” Through the power of God, you will be able to make the radical decisions and changes necessary to be free of your addiction. Aron Ralston wanted to live - do you?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

01.30.17

Just Having a Bad Day

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7 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.

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 NKJV.

At a Mobil Service Station in Boston a woman tried to run over another woman and rammed her SUV into the service station building several times. She narrowly missed hitting other people that were also at the station. Apparently, some words were said between the driver and the woman that was the target of the driver’s rage. One witness stated that the driver said that she was “having a bad day.”

In Fort Smith, Arkansas, a would be robber encountered a convenience store clerk who refused to give him any of the store’s money. The robber said to the clerk, “I hate to do this,” as he lifted his shirt to reveal the gun that he had and demanded $40. After the clerk’s refusal to hand over the money the robber said that he needed the money for insulin. The clerk then gave the robber $40 of his own money to buy the insulin. The robber thanked the clerk and shook his hand before leaving. Of course, the police are searching for the would be robber.

There is no doubt that there are extreme pressures on many people in these days (2009) of job losses, investment disasters, and home foreclosures. But surely there is a better way to handle these pressures than by blindly lashing out at others or by turning to criminal activity.

What would it take for you to lose it and go off the deep end? How much pressure would have to be exerted before you abandoned your faith, and began to act like a non-believer? Would only a few harsh words spoken at the wrong time send you over the edge like it did the woman in Boston? Would your own, or your child’s health needs force you to turn to criminal activity?

When we are faced with seemingly impossible situations as Christians we are to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” How is this possible? Only through supernatural empowerment is it possible. It is not possible in our own strength to survive the pressures of life without at some point “losing it.”

God has the resources that we need to cope with whatever we may encounter in life. Instead of lashing out at others, stop and pray, and then you will experience “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” which “will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Instead of turning to crime, turn to God - “casting all your care (anxiety - NIV) upon Him.” By placing your problem, your need into the hands of God, you will allow Him to give you wisdom, guidance, and the provision that you need. God might have given the would be robber the wisdom to go to any hospital emergency room and ask for help (Matthew 7:7-8). If they were unable to help, they would know who would be able to help him.

Just having a bad day is not a good reason for a believer to go off the deep end, because as Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Every day given into the hands of God has the potential to bring about good (Romans 8:28). Remember this: Whatever your problem, God has what you need!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

01.19.17

Above the Law

Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD. And the priests’ custom with the people was that when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fleshhook in his hand while the meat was boiling. Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; and the priest would take for himself all that the fleshhook brought up. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who sacrificed, “Give meat for roasting to the priest, for he will not take boiled meat from you, but raw.” And if the man said to him, “They should really burn the fat first; then you may take as much as your heart desires,” he would then answer him, “No, but you must give it now; and if not, I will take it by force.” Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for men abhorred the offering of the LORD. - 1 Samuel 2:12-17 NKJV.

And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain. - 1 Samuel 4:10-11 NKJV.

Marcus Einfeld is a well known federal judge in Australia. Judge Einfeld had been the recipient in the past of the Order of Australia one of Australia’s greatest honors. Now, it appears that it is likely that he will be disbarred and the Order of Australia may be revoked (This all occurred in 2009). Judge Einfeld is 70-years-old and appears to have led a life of service to his country prior to this time in his life. It is especially sad that the judge has come to this point in his life because of lying to avoid a speeding fine of $50.00 ($77.00 Australia).

Judge Einfeld received the ticket because of an automated radar speed control system that indicated that he was driving 10kph above the speed limit. He could have just paid the fine, but instead he lied; and said that it was not him, but a friend, Teresa Brennan, who was driving. That worked well for a while until it was discovered by a reporter that Teresa Brennan had died three years before. Even after being confronted about his falsehood, he continued to claim his innocence until his court hearing where he pled guilty. In addition, another woman, Angela Liati, has become tied up in the situation by claiming that she was driving the judge’s vehicle at the time of the speeding offense. Angela is awaiting sentencing for her false statement.

In the Old Testament, we have an example of the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, who thought that they were above the law of God. Hophni and Phinehas took what belonged to God for themselves. As it is written in 1 Samuel, “…the men abhorred the offering of the LORD.” Sadly, Eli who was a man of God, did not intervene to prevent his sons from continuing in this travesty. This resulted in a direct punishment from God of the death of Hophni and Phinehas.

Sadly, there are many governmental officials and judges in the United States who believe that they are above the law. They cheat on their taxes, they take bribes, they commit other illegal acts, and it has made the government as a whole to appear to be corrupt. It gives an example to the citizens that this kind of behavior is acceptable because rarely is anyone prosecuted with more than a proverbial slap on the hand.

There may appear to be little consequences for the corrupt actions of those in government and public life; however, we as children of God know that they are accountable to a higher authority, just as we are. We may indeed be able to avoid prosecution for something on this Earth, but there is a higher authority. Let us lay our sins at the foot of the cross and never pick them up again, because no one is really above the law.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

01.18.17

Break the Cycle

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. - 1 John 3:22-24 NKJV.

When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. - 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 NKJV.

What would you do if you had to repeat the same day over and over again? In the movie “Groundhog Day” that is what happens to Phil Conners (Bill Murray) who is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to do a story on the annual Groundhog Day festivities. Phil finds himself repeating the same day over and over and over again. Things go from bad to worse until he decides to take advantage of the time instead of wasting it. Phil spent months learning the art of flicking a card into a hat perfectly each time. But Phil’s heart changes, and eventually the day arrives when it is no longer Groundhog Day, but tomorrow.

In the Book of Judges the Children of Israel have their own Groundhog Day. No, it is not the same day repeating over and over, but it is the same cycle of life repeating itself over and over. After the death of Joshua, the Israelites had abandoned the worship of the One True God, and instead served the false God of Baalim (Judges 2:10-13). When the people sinned, God would allow their enemies to defeat them. In their torment, the people would cry out to God for help. Each time this happened God would send a leader, who was called a judge to deliver them. This cycle of sin, torment, repentance, and deliverance was repeated over and over again. It happened to the children of Israel, and it can happen to the United States, or to any country that turns away from God. We need to be crying out for God to deliver us before the judgment of God comes upon us.

This painful cycle of sin, pain, repentance, and deliverance occurs not just to countries, but in our lives as well. Until we learn the lesson, and break the cycle by walking in obedience to God, we are doomed to go through that cycle over and over again. We will never fully experience the abundant life until we break out of this cycle.

Phil Conners eventually learned his lesson. Will we?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

01.17.17

Pretenders

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 NKJV.

…casting down arguments and every high thing (We demolish arguments and every pretension - NIV) that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. - 2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV.

An intoxicated 23-year-old man fell off a bridge in Minnesota early one morning. He did not really intend to fall off the bridge, although while he was pretending to be falling off the bridge, he actually fell. He fell about 30 feet into a marshy area of the Minnesota River and thankfully was in stable condition following his rescue. A friend was present at the time and called for help.

Have you ever pretended to be something that you were not? Have you ever pretended to be “holier than thou” when you were really just a worm of a sinner (Romans 3:23) like everyone else? Have you ever pretended that everything is perfect in your family and life when actually everything is falling apart? Have you ever prayed for all those others out there with addictions when you have your own secret addiction?

I am often told about situations and problems in the lives of people, but am told at the same time that this is very private, and not to send out a prayer request about it. I do understand their fears about others knowing of some secret, perhaps shameful thing, because I have had those fears too. However, if we really want God to do something about the situation or problems we need to share what is going on in our lives with our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we were all upfront and honest about our lives it would be easier to share about our own lives; because then we would know that those Christians pretending to be perfect, are not any more perfect than we are.

Before we come to know Jesus as our personal Savior, we pretend that we have no need for God, because we are self-made people. We live in denial of our lost condition by pretending that we do not sin any more than anyone else, and so if they are going to Heaven, we will too. After we come to know Jesus as our personal Savior and are born again, many then begin to live their lives as if they have no need for God, because their lives are perfect. How sad! Let us stop being pretenders!

Pretending we are something that we are not just causes more problems, fear, and pain. If we are truly brothers and sisters in Christ then we are family. If we are family, we should be able to share our problems with one another and then the whole family can help to bear those problems. If you are a child of God you are not alone! You have a family. You have brothers and sisters who love you and care about you. You no longer have to pretend, because God is your Father, and through Jesus you are perfect in His sight. Rejoice! He has covered you with the “garments of salvation…the robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

01.16.17

Looking Back

The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. - Genesis 19:23-26 NKJV.

In Fresno, California, a 20-year-old man is back in jail, again. The man had been arrested and incarcerated being charged with child abuse and marijuana possession. He was released from jail (It is unknown whether those charges are still pending.); however, he has now been arrested and incarcerated for the felony charge of receiving stolen property. What was the stolen property? A Fresno County Jail T-Shirt with the word, “PRISONER” on the back. He apparently had taken the shirt with him when he was released on the first charges. Why? Maybe he had enjoyed his stay in jail so much that he wanted a souvenir to help him to remember the good times that he had while he was there. Of course, now he gets to wear his “PRISONER” shirt for real.

Lot’s wife appears to have had a problem similar to that of the man in the Fresno County Jail. Lot and his family had been delivered from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the delivering angels had warned them, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you (Genesis 19:17b).” But Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. What was it that she was missing back there in Sodom and Gomorrah? Why was it that God destroyed the place with fire and brimstone? Abraham is told in Genesis 18:20 that it would be destroyed, “because their sin is very grave (NKJV) (grievous - KJV; immense - The Message; flagrant - NLT; extremely serious - Holman).” Did Lot’s wife miss the immorality of the place so flagrantly h_mos_xual that the men of the city demanded that Lot send out the angels so “that we may know them carnally (19:5c)?” Or, was she missing her material possessions, a house, and other things that she was leaving behind?

Do you see the parallel to the Christian life? Lot’s wife had been saved from immediate death - angels had been sent to personally deliver her and her family. She had seen the angels with her own eyes, but still looked back, apparently wanted to go back. So many of us as Christians have been saved from eternal destruction, we have been rescued by Jesus who suffered and died in our place. However, we are like Lot’s wife, and sometimes we try to go back. Sometimes we start acting like we used to act before we were set free. We start wearing our “PRISONER” shirts around acting like we are still in jail for our sins.

What would God tell us to do when we are tempted to look back? Perhaps he would tell us what the apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” May we all forget those things that are behind us, that we have been saved from, and reach forward, pressing on for “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2004

01.10.17

The Way It Ought To Be

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. - Genesis 6:5-8.

But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. - Matthew 24:37-39.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. - 2 Timothy 3:1-9.

Recently I watched a movie called "Timechangers" which was thought provoking. In the movie, a seminary professor from 1890 visits the 21st Century, and the professor is horrified by the moral decay that he finds. He goes to a movie with a group from a church, and is shocked to hear the Lord’s Name taken in vain by an actor. He is shocked by the immodest dress, and complains about a window display. He is shocked that people are working on the Lord’s Day. At his motel, he briefly scans through some of the television channels available, and is so shocked he spends the night kneeling by his bed in prayer. At a burger place, he overhears two teenage girls planning to sneak around and have a party, which includes drinking alcohol. When the professor confronts them, they think that he is some kind of crazy nut. Because of the decay, the professor believes that this must indeed be the last days, and that Jesus is coming soon.

We do seem to have become desensitized to many forms of immorality, which would have been shocking beyond belief a century ago. Because we are living in the 21st Century, and have space age technology, does that make it okay to participate in the immorality that lurks around every corner of modern day life? Because everyone else thinks it is okay, and acts like it is okay, to behave in a manner the Bible clearly indicates is immoral - does that make it okay? Because we have grown up hearing and seeing all kinds of disgusting things, does that mean that it is right? Because our society has evolved into a godless mess of immorality, does that mean that we have no choice, but to be a part of it?

I once heard a sermon preached about how everyone knows "the way it is" in the church and the world, but he then preached a sermon about how "it ought to be." We know, at least I hope we know, that "the way it is” in this world of ours is not the way "it ought to be." In 100 years, has the Bible changed so radically that we think that, "the way it is" is good? The fact is that the Bible has not changed. God’s Word is unchangeable, just as He is unchangeable, and is the same yesterday, today, and for eternity.

The apostle Paul not only tells us the "way it is" in 2 Timothy 3 but he also tells us the way it ought to be, "But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15)." Evil men, imposters, and deceivers will multiply (2 Timothy 3:13), but we must continue in the Truth. The Bible has not changed, and will never change. We must not give in to the lies of the world. Let us continue in what we know to be true.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2003

12.20.16

Maidservant of the Lord

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. - Luke 1:26-38.

Whenever I read the Biblical account of the events of Christmas, I am amazed at the faith of those involved. How could a teenage girl of limited material means, limited education, limited family background, and etc. become the mother of our Lord? The answer? Through the power of the Holy Spirit and Mary’s complete submission to the will of God it was brought about.

How would my life and how would your life be changed if each day we submitted ourselves completely to the Lord for His will to be done in our lives? This Christmas and in the coming year let us say each day with Mary “Behold the maidservant (or manservant) of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

May you have a most blessed Christmas and New Year!!

Praying for you,

Ed Wrather

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

12.13.16

Following the Herd

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters says the LORD Almighty.” - 2 Corinthians 6:16-17 NKJV.

Mira Loma High seniors celebrated with their prom at the Sacramento Grand Ballroom. One of the seniors at the prom came up with the idea of trying to find out how many people can be crammed into an elevator. A chaperone did hear one of the kids talking about this, and it brought back memories of trying to do the same with the VW Beetle. They were able to squeeze 24 seniors into the elevator, but then someone had the brilliant idea of taking the elevator up to the next floor. The elevator immediately became stuck between floors, and as one student reported it was hot and hectic, since they did not know what was going on. One of the girls was claustrophobic, but thankfully no one was injured seriously. It took two hours before firefighters finally found a way to rescue these teens from their self-imposed nightmare. I guess that’s why they have those load limits posted on most elevators!

The elevator fiasco was a result of following the herd, everyone else was doing it, so they got into the elevator too. If there had been room for 50 people on the elevator, 26 more would have tried to crowd in. Following the herd has been a problem for people for as long as there have been people. The snake tempted Eve, and she ate of the forbidden fruit. Eve gave Adam some of the fruit, and he ate of it too, and if there had been a few more people back then they would probably all have eaten of it even though God had told them not to do it.

Following the herd is hard to avoid, because of the peer pressure. When teens are at a party and alcohol is available will they drink it, or will they not? When other teens are engaging in immoral behavior will they follow the rest? When the drugs are passed around will they take them, or will they refuse? When others are cheating on their homework will they take the easy way too? I think that God would tell those contemplating such things to, “come out from among them….” Of course, adults have problems with following the herd too.

How can you avoid the following the herd trap? By deciding ahead of time that you will not be a part of anything that will dishonor your God. Decide now, that you will not be a part of anything that will endanger the lives of others or your own. If you wait until the moment that you are confronted with an immoral choice to make up your mind you will make yourself much more susceptible to making the wrong choice. Decide now, not later, that you are going to be God’s man or God’s woman, and that you will make a stand for what is right no matter what those around you may think. In the long run, you will never regret doing what is right. So, “come out from among them….”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

11.1.16

Lost in the Woods

Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” - Luke 15: 1-10 NKJV.

(Read also the Parable of the Lost Son - Luke 15:11-31)

Joshua Childers has been found! Joshua had been lost in the woods of Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest for 50 hours (In 2009). He slipped out of his family’s mobile home late Monday morning and wandered away. He was found about three miles from home wearing only a shirt, one shoe, and he was all wet. He had survived over two days of exposure in the cold and wet woods. Joshua is only three years old! The man, who found the boy, Donnie Halpin, said that the family was, “…just happy, so happy to have their little boy back.” Madison County Sheriff David Lewis knew that time was running out and thought that three days would be the most that a little boy could survive on his own in the woods with no food, and hardly any clothing. Sheriff Lewis said after the boy was found, “It's a miracle, I'm so happy you can't believe it!”

You may have never been lost in the woods wandering around trying to survive but there are a lot of people who are lost in a spiritual sense in this world. They are just as lost as that little boy was, they do not know which way to turn, and when they do make a decision, it often makes their situation even worse.

Many of the lost have given up on trying to make sense of the world; they are just trying to make it through another day. Often the lost may feel as though no one cares for them or knows what they are going through. However, they are wrong about that, because God makes it clear that He is searching for them, and that He cares for them. In fact, not only is the Holy Spirit there trying to get their attention, there is an army of believers who are out looking for them and trying to find them.

Thirty-nine years ago (2016 Update: 46 years ago now in 1970) my wife shared with me her testimony of when she had prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior when she was a little girl. The next day I made an appointment to see the pastor of a church that was a few blocks away from us. As the pastor, Finley Tinnin, led me to the Lord, he shared with me Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says, “Behold, I 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.” Dr. Tinnin then asked me if I wanted to pray and ask Jesus to come into my heart. I prayed silently asking Jesus to come into my life. I’m not really sure that I prayed in words, I just wanted Jesus. Jesus walked through the door and into my life.

If you have been lost in the woods of life, Jesus is knocking at the door of your life, and He wants to come in - now, would be a good time to let Him in. Why not open the door, and ask Him to forgive you of your sins (Romans 3:23; Romans 10:13), and come into your heart and life, right now?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

11.18.16

Imperfect Governments

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? - James 2:1-4 NKJV.

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. - James 2:8-9 NKJV.

About a year ago (2008) the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Elk City, Oklahoma, which I live about 30 miles from, built a new restaurant. A preacher friend of mine pointed out to me at the time, a sign that is right next to the KFC building. The sign proudly announces that Elk City is a “bird sanctuary.” Apparently some birds are more protected than other birds! Surprisingly, the sign has never been moved to a less conspicuous place.

In the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America signed July 4, 1776 we find these words, “WE hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights….” Of course, we know that some people were not actually considered to be a part of “all men” even though obviously they were.

On July 9, 1868, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified which states in part, “no state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” Since that time “hate crime” legislation has been enacted on a federal level to attempt to further protect persecuted minorities. However, in the attempt to protect certain groups of people with “hate crime” legislation it appears that other groups of people will become less protected and less privileged.

Governments, as with people are imperfect. We, of course, desire for a government of free people to be perfect in the governance of those people. However, such a perfect government has never been seen on the face of this Earth, and it never will be until our Lord‘s return. In some ways, a government is a mirror of the people that are governed especially in a free society. As we see an increasingly corrupt government it mirrors the corruptness of the people who vote to elect those that govern.

What is the best way, the quickest way to change a corrupt, inept government? By a change in the hearts of the people. In the Book of Judges this occurred repeatedly. When the hearts of the people changed, God raised up a leader that led them to freedom from the oppression that had been placed upon them. The problem for the people began when in Judges 2:11 we read, “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD….” The result of their sin was that, “Wherever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for calamity, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed (Judges 2:15).” In Judges 3:9 we read, “When the children of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them….”

Let us as Christians live as Christians treating all people as equals. Let us as Christians cry out to God seeking His will to be done in our lives and in the country in which we live. 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us what we must do, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

11.16.16

Finish the Race

And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. – Acts 20:22-25 NKJV.

In the Aaron’s 499 race (In 2009) at the Talladega Superspeedway at Talladega, Alabama, Carl Edwards was in the last lap of the race when his car went airborne crashing into the fence protecting the fans. Some of the fans were injured, but thankfully they are going to be okay. Carl was uninjured, and when he realized he was okay he climbed out of the car… and then he finished the race. He could no longer win the race, but he could finish the race, and that is what he did as he ran across the finish line on foot.

The apostle Paul was determined to finish his race too. Paul’s race was the race of life, and he had already had some “crashes” on his way to the finish line with much opposition. He had been stoned to death, but raised by prayer (Acts 14:19-20), he barely escaped in Thessalonica, and there was a continual harassment by the Judaizers following him around trying to cause problems. In Acts 20, Paul is headed for Jerusalem even though he has been supernaturally told that there are difficulties ahead for him. He does not know definitely what those difficulties will be; however, he knows what is ahead may be very bad because he has been through some bad things along the way.

In Acts 21, we are told that Paul receives a further more definite warning about what is to come. Although it appears that Paul may have already perceived this as a possibility, and the warning was to help those with him to understand. In Acts 21:10-13 we are told this, “and as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, ‘What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’” Paul wanted to finish the race, even if he had to crawl across the finish line. He wanted to live his life in the center of God’s will down to the last moment of his life; down to, and through the last breath that he took.

How is your race going? Are you in the last lap or are you just going into the first turn? Wherever you are at along the way you are going to need something to make it to the end. That something that you need is a determination to finish the race no matter what obstacle or obstacles you may encounter. How do you get that kind of determination, that kind of strength? Jesus is the only One who can give the determination and the strength to you that you will need. That is exactly the source of Paul’s determination and strength. Paul knew that well as he said in Philippians 4:11-13, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

11.15.16

Boasting in Evil

Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually. Your tongue devises destruction like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. You love evil more than good, lying rather than speaking righteousness. Selah. You love all devouring words, you deceitful tongue. - Psalm 52:1-4 NKJV.

When you do evil, then you rejoice. - Jeremiah 11:15c NKJV.

“Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time I punish them, they shall be cast down,” says the LORD. Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” - Jeremiah 6:15-16 NKJV.

Mass murderers, serial killers, pedophiles, scam artists, crooked politicians, s_exual deviants, same-s_x marriage, drug dealers, bank robbers, pirates, financial frauds, greedy bankers and stock brokers, pay-to-play political cronyism, an er_tic section on something called craigslist, and the list goes on and on and on. What kind of list is this? It is a list that is indicative of the sickness of our society. There has always been crime and evil, but it does appear that in the United States, and across the world that the level of evil is increasing.

The attitude of many who are involved in evil appears to be the same as during the time of Jeremiah, and as David wrote in his psalm. Many today who ought to hang their heads in shame instead appear to take pride in their involvement in evil. I have yet to see Bernie Madoff appear to be ashamed of what he has done. Instead of confessing and trying to restore the victims, he and his family were busy trying to hide their financial assets. I have yet to see any politician admit to responsibility for the financial disaster that we are now experiencing (In 2009). Instead we see the appearance of corruption with pork barrel pay-offs and billions of dollars unaccounted for by anyone. I have not seen anyone involved in the financial world stand up and say that they were wrong - instead we see them grabbing for all the money they can lay their hands on.

What is wrong with our country? What is wrong with our world? I believe the immorality that we are seeing that is so abundant everywhere is a result of being on the wrong path. Somewhere along the way we have gotten off course. When I was growing up, I was in a nominally Christian family, but I have learned that I have ancestors who were very devoted to the Lord.

Somewhere along the way the children of the devout have gotten off course, and it has impacted their children and their children’s children and on and on. It will continue to have a negative impact upon our lives, unless, we do what? Unless we “Stand in the ways.” Stop going down the wrong path. “Ask for the old paths.” Ask the Lord to help us to find the right path for our lives and to give us the power to live godly lives as many of our ancestors once did.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

11.14.16

Think, Jesus

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 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. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. - James 1:12-16 NKJV.

Artyom Sidorkin arrived at a hospital in Izhevsk, Russia with a fir tree growing in his lung! Well, it was actually only five centimeters long, but it was large enough to cause him some major pain, and he was coughing up blood. When doctors first examined him, they suspected that he had cancer and ordered a biopsy. However, they were a little surprised to find some green needles! The tiny little tree was removed successfully. It is thought that Artyom may have breathed in a bud; then it began to grow in his lung and cause major physical problems.

Our problems with sin usually begin with a tiny little thought or idea that is placed in our hearts. Instead of dismissing the thought we let it hang around for a while. Every few days we find ourselves thinking about the forbidden fruit of a thought that has somehow become implanted in our heart. Whenever we think about that forbidden fruit of a thought; it grows a little larger, and little larger. We find that we have been “drawn away” by our “own desires and enticed.” Then we find that the little bud of the forbidden fruit has “conceived.” “It gives birth to sin” and as it grows larger begins to bring pain and death into our lives.

One of the tricks you could say of dealing with a sinful thought is not to focus on that thought. The more attention that we give to the sinful thought the more likely we will act upon it. What we need to do is to immediately focus our thoughts upon something else. One of the best things to do is to focus our thoughts on Scripture. If we have verses of Scripture memorized, we can begin to run one of those verses or even several of those verses through our minds. If we do not have Scripture memorized, and we are where we have access to a Bible or New Testament, we can begin to read God’s Word when we have those thoughts. Another thing to do, and perhaps to do in combination with the other things is to pray. We can always pray silently. We can pray very short and effective prayers such as, “Lord, help me!” “Lord, guard my heart.” “Lord, unite my heart.”

The writer of the Book of Hebrews understood this principle of refocusing our attention. We are told in Hebrews 12:1b-3, “…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.” In the next verse he says, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls (Hebrews 12:3).”

So, when you are confronted by sinful thoughts or ideas: refocus your attention. Look “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” and contemplate upon all that He has done for you. “Consider Him” placing your thoughts and focus upon Jesus through Scripture, through prayer, through contemplation, and you will defeat the evil thoughts and desires that sometimes come your way. Remember, think, Jesus!

The Burning Bush Devotional

11.01.16

May Truth be Revealed

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. – John 8:32 NKJV.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14 NKJV.

But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. – John 8:40 NKJV.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6 NKJV.

The Independent Perse School in Cambridge England is teaching students how to be “artful dodgers.” When a student happens to commit a violation of the school rules they are given ten seconds to explain themselves to avoid punishment. Ed Elliott, head of the school, explained that “out and out falseness” is not allowed although “white lies” might be allowed. Elliott says, “Getting children to talk their way out of minor misdemeanors is a wonderful way of encouraging such creativity and fostering good communication skills.” Sam Leith who is a rhetoric expert and author says, “You can see this being a really important life skill and actually politicians, some of them, are the absolute straight arrow, but often the ones who get further are the artful dodgers.” (BBC 11.19.12; The Huffington Post 11.24.12)

In our current political climate it is difficult at times to discern the truth, because the truth is that our political candidates are artful dodgers. However, there is a problem that has created this deceitful political climate, and that is our desire to only hear what we want to hear. Do we want to know the truth? Do we really want to hear the truth? If a candidate tells you the truth are you offended? Jesus told the Jews the truth, and they just wanted to kill Him. Instead of pleading with Pilate to release Jesus, instead they shouted for Pilate to release a murderer (Matthew 27:20). Then, they shouted about Jesus to Pilate (Matthew 27:22-23), “Let Him be crucified” “Let Him be crucified” and Jesus was crucified. But there is a strange thing about truth, truth refuses to die. Jesus, the Truth, rose again on the third day!

Today in the United States each of us has our own idea about truth. We only want to hear our version of the truth as we have become artful listeners. We stuff our ears and turn the channel if someone actually dares to speak truth. It is sad to think that the political candidate who actually wins the election may be the one who has most successfully artfully dodged the truth.

Our duty as Christians in this election and in life is to seek the Truth, to desire the Truth, to pray for the Truth to be revealed, and that we might recognize it. Will you do that? Will you pray for the Truth to be revealed, and that you will recognize it, and receive it?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

10.31.16

How to be Wise

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly. - Proverbs 2:6-8 NKJV.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you. - Proverbs 9:10-11 NKJV.

And Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whom the LORD has put wisdom and understanding, to know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, shall do according to all that the LORD has commanded. - Exodus 36:1 NKJV.

As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. - Daniel 1:17 NKJV.

In a junior high school class that I once had, gum chewing was forbidden on penalty of spanking; however, all my other classes allowed the chewing of gum. One day I had forgotten to remove my chewing gum prior to the class beginning, but even though I tried to hide the fact of the gum being in my mouth, Mr. Wise spotted the error of my ways. I then experienced the humiliation, the embarrassment of being the only student caught in violation of the gum chewing rule the entire year, and I remember well the three licks with the board of correction with holes drilled in it. My fondness for chewing gum was substantially diminished on that day. Imagine my shock to learn today that chewing gum may actually raise the academic performance of teenagers! According to the study conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine, gum chewers scored higher on standardized math tests than non-gum chewers, and the gum chewers had higher grades at the end of the term. Now I know what I have always suspected, Mr. Wise was not really all that wise.

There is even a better way to intellectual success than gum chewing. The way to become wise is through the wisdom of God, and we are given some examples in the Bible of how God was able to supernaturally give wisdom, knowledge, and skill to individuals. In the book of Exodus, we are told of those who were given skill as craftsmen. In the book of Daniel, we are told of the four young men who were given “knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom.” Then there is the example of Solomon of whom it is said that he was the wisest man who ever lived. We are told in 1 Kings 4:29-32, “And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men—than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five.”

Solomon’s wisdom came directly from God and God is the source of all true wisdom. Shortly after Solomon became King, God told Solomon to ask whatever he wanted from God. Instead of asking for riches, Solomon asked, “…give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours (1 Kings 3:9)?” God gave Solomon, “a wise and understanding heart (1 Kings 3:12).”

If you really want to be wise you must go to the source of true wisdom which is found only in God. If you really want wisdom then do as Moses says in Deuteronomy 4:29, “… seek Him (God) with all your heart and with all your soul.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

10.26.16

Standing Up

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! - Isaiah 5:20 NKJV.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. - Leviticus 1:22 NKJV.

(See also: 1 Corinthians 6:9; Romans 1:19-32.)

According to various news reports the following question and answer was recorded during the 2009 Miss USA Pageant:

Perez Hilton, one of the judges asking a question of Carrie Prejean, Miss California: “Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same s_x marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?”

Carrie Prejean: “Well I think it is great that Americans can choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same s_x marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you very much.”

Thank you Carrie Prejean for deciding to state what you truly believe in the midst of a very difficult situation! Carrie knew the answer that Perez Hilton wanted to hear, and she also knew that not giving the politically correct answer could cost her the Miss USA crown, but she chose to stand up for what she believed to be right. The consequences are obvious in that she did not win the pageant and instead is the first runner-up. However, Carrie has won something far better and greater than a temporary title and crown; she has won the knowledge of knowing that she did what was right and the respect and admiration of millions of people.

According to at least one poll 70% of Americans agree with Carrie Prejean, but not everyone who believes it, is standing up for it. We are as Christians to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Jesus says, “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).” Carrie’s “salt” has not lost its savor, her “light” is shining, and everyone can see it.

For the 70% of Americans who agree with Carrie and those across the world who are also in agreement, we need to ask ourselves these questions: “Am I still the ‘salt of the earth?’” “Is my light still shining?”

(Update for 2016 Election: On November 8th we once again have the opportunity to stand up for what is right by voting for the candidate most likely to oppose the evil being poured upon us by the world. Trump has said some bad things, but I believe he has sought forgiveness from the Lord for that. He appears to be a new Christian who is seeking advice and wisdom from mature Christian leaders. Trump is standing up at great personal cost for what is right for the United States. He doesn’t have to do this, but he believes it is the right thing to do.

The other choice we have is Hillary Clinton who is a proven liar who has helped to destabilize the Middle East and Libya costing lives and misery for hundreds of thousands of people. The Clinton Foundation only uses 2.9% of the money given to it for charitable causes. The Clinton Foundation just this week transferred $1.8 billion to a bank in Qatar. Hillary plans to continue Obama’s policies including flooding the United States with illegals and unvetted refugees.

If we want to stand up for what is right our only choice is to vote for Trump, which is what I plan to do.)

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

10.25.16

Don't Jump

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. when shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” - Proverbs 23:29-35 NKJV.

A 32-year-old woman jumped willingly into the polar bear pit at the Berlin Zoo. Not surprisingly, this did not turn out very well for her as one of the bears bit her on her arms, legs, hips and back. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this is that the woman actually survived, although with severe injuries. An adult polar bear can weigh as much as 1500 lbs. (680 kg.) and is a vicious predator. Much credit goes to the zoo employees who reacted immediately to try distract the bears and at the same time pull the woman out of the pit.

We can learn an important lesson from this sad event at the Berlin Zoo. We can learn that if you jump into a pit with polar bears it is not going to end up very well for you, and you may even end up being lunch for the polar bears. It does seem strange that we human beings are capable of such non-rational acts. We seem to have a habit though of jumping into things that will obviously bring much pain into our lives.

If you drink alcohol to excess it is going to cause you problems as the writer of Proverbs says, “at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.” If you jump into the pit of methamphetamine use, or cocaine use, or the abuse of any drug you are going to be bitten. If you jump into the pit of having an affair you can expect to be bitten. If you jump into the pit of felonious behavior, whether robbing banks or writing bad checks, you can expect to be bitten.

You can spare yourself a whole lot of pain in life by just refusing to take the jump. Don’t jump into the polar bear pit! Don’t jump into the alcohol pit! Don’t jump into the extra-marital affair pit! Don’t jump into an illegal drug use pit! Don’t jump into the law breaking pit! Don’t jump into the doing anything to make money pit!

The Bible warns against many things, our laws prohibit many things, and our parents tell us not to do other things. Why? Because there are things out there in this world that are just as dangerous as a hungry polar bear. Before you jump into the pit you might want to give it another thought, ask for some advice, wait a few minutes or even better, pray about it. You don’t really want to be lunch for a polar bear do you?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

10.21.16

He's On His Way

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know. - John 14:1-3 NKJV.

Growing up on a farm it was rare to be able to go to town and visit my friends except during school. One of those rare days arrived during the summer when I was ten years old. My Dad was taking the tractor and mower to the big town of Canute, Oklahoma (Population about 500.) to help clean up the empty lots. I was allowed to take my bicycle along and spend the day having fun with my friends.

When the time came to go home, I asked my parents if I could ride my bike home. It was four and a half miles to our farm. They agreed and they would be coming along later. The first mile went fine, but I had to walk up Turkey Creek Hill, and then I noticed both my tires were nearly flat. By the time I had pushed the bike another mile I was hot, tired, and crying. That was when my parents drove up. They could see I was upset and my Dad said, “Didn’t you know we would be coming?” While I had given up, my parents were on their way to pick me up.

Sometimes, most of the time, when bad things happen, we become impatient. All we can see is what is going on in our lives right then. All we can feel is the pain we feel then. What God would want you to know is this: He’s still there, He’s still God, and He still loves you. He’s on His way to pick you up.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

10.18.16

Twisting Off

Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him. - Ephesians 6:5-9 NKJV.

Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. - Colossians 4:1 NKJV.

During these difficult economic times (2009) there has been a wave of “bossnappings” in France. There is a previous history of bossnapping in France dating back to 1968 and into the 1970s. A bossnapping usually involves desperate workers being laid off, holding the boss hostage, demanding better terms. The bossnappers usually want guarantees of jobs, no sudden layoffs, and reasonable pay.

Long before the current economic problems there have been problems between employees and their supervisors. Thankfully (and hopefully), there are no longer bondservants or slaves in most modernized countries. Problems often arise in employee supervisor relationships when the employee is viewed as an object, a tool, or even as a slave by the supervisor. Often the employee feels trapped, and because of their financial situation is unable to simply quit and walk away from their job; which results in increasingly adverse workplace conditions.

While I was working in the oilfield, there was a term for those who suddenly quit or walked off from their employment usually because of poor working conditions and the relationship with their supervisor. The term used for that kind of behavior was for someone to “twist off.” The term came from when a string of drill pipe was lost in a hole when the pipe “twisted off.” I once twisted off after being cussed out in front of my crew for nothing that I had done, or that my crew had done. Two of my crewmembers after I had left then participated in a bossbeating. That is what happens in the real world when people are treated like slaves. People can be pushed to a point where it does not matter what the financial or other consequences may be, they simply will not take that kind of treatment any longer and there will be a rebellion. You could think of a group of people going out on strike as a more formalized form of this kind of behavior, and in France, they have bossnappings. So far, I have not heard of any bossbeatings, but that may be coming if things do not improve.

Having supervised large groups of men during sometimes very difficult conditions in the oilfield I know that the best way to keep operations running smoothly is to treat your employees as you would want to be treated yourself. I never asked anyone to do anything that I would not have been willing to do myself. The Golden Rule as stated by Jesus in Matthew 7:12 should be the Golden Rule not just in life, but also for employees, employers, and supervisors. Jesus says, “…whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Here is an additional reason for employers and supervisors to observe the Golden Rule in their relationships with their employees: “…you also have a Master in heaven.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

10.17.16

Search the Scriptures

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. - Acts 17:10-12 NKJV.

In Elkhart, Indiana while searching an apartment during a drug raid officers found a handwritten recipe for manufacturing methamphetamine in an unusual place. The meth recipe was written in a Bible on the last page of the Book of Revelation. Two of the residents of the apartment were arrested and charged with possession and manufacturing charges. Several months ago a methamphetamine lab actually blew up in the same apartment building. I guess what I find most strange about this is that one of the officers took time to read the Bible during the search! Probably, something drew the officer’s attention to the Bible, and they may have been searching for something other than drugs which would have required a more intensive search. I do, however, think that it is a wonderful thing that these officers were searching the pages of the Bible - searching the Scriptures.

In the comparison of the Bereans and Thessalonicans we see a stark contrast. Many of the Thessalonicans were hard-hearted, and close-minded toward the Gospel; they were unwilling to even listen to how the Scriptures could have been fulfilled through Jesus Christ. They had their story and they were sticking to it. They were just mad that anyone would have the nerve to even suggest that the Messiah had come, and they had missed Him. Their attitude is somewhat similar to the Muslim world’s harsh persecution of Christians today. If a Christian has the audacity to share their faith with a Muslim they risk being put to death. However, there are still Christians today with the same courage of the Holy Spirit spoken of by the apostle John as he says in Revelation 12:11, “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.”

The attitude of the Bereans was an attitude of seeking the truth. The Bereans realized that they could possibly have missed out on something spiritually. In other words, the Bereans did not think that they had arrived spiritually and knew all there was to know about God and the spiritual world. They were willing to search the Scriptures to see if these things that Paul was saying could possibly be true. As a result of their study of the Scriptures many of them believed in Jesus Christ.

Even though we have the New Testament readily available to us today we still need to search the Scriptures. There are those today that would love to sell you their own personal religious philosophy based upon their spiritual experience. We must be careful to search the Scriptures to make sure that the “experience” is verified by the Word of God. As we prayerfully search the Scriptures does the Holy Spirit verify that these things are true or not.

If you are reading these words today, and you are not a Christian I want to challenge you to do as the Bereans did. Read the Bible beginning with the New Testament and ask God to reveal the truth to you as you search the Scriptures.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

10.14.16

Overlooking the Obvious

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. - Acts 2:42 NKJV.

A woman in Kissimmee, Florida had a real problem, and so she called 911. The woman thought that she was locked inside of her car after the electrical system stopped working. She tried again and again to open the doors with the electric door locks, but nothing happened. She complained to the 911 dispatcher that it was getting hot, and she was not feeling very well. The dispatcher though had a great idea, the dispatcher told the woman to manually unlock the car door, and…it worked. In the words of the woman who thought she was locked inside her car, “Um, I’m sorry.”

Have you ever been in a similar situation, a situation in which you were growing more and more desperate, but suddenly you realized, or someone told you the solution which was very simple? I know I have been in situations like that before. Even though we may have been Christians for many years we still often overlook the obvious spiritual solution.

One of those things that we often overlook as Christians is the vital necessity of prayer. No matter what the situation prayer is available to us. We can verbalize our prayers and God will hear us. We can pray non-verbally and God will still hear us. We may only have time for a very short prayer, as in, “Help me!” But God hears all prayers that are according to His will as the apostle John tells us, “…if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him (1 John 5:14b-15).” When the world around us is going crazy we can pray and God will give us peace, peace “which surpasses all understanding,” and that peace “will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Something else that should be obvious to Christians that we overlook is the reading of the Bible. We know we ought to read the Bible, but we have not made it a habit and put it into our daily schedule. As a result, we may go for weeks or months without really sitting down and reading the Word of God. We wonder why it is so hard to cope with the circumstances that life sends our way. We wonder why we have a hard time handling things emotionally. It is because as Jesus says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).” If we want strength to live life as it ought to be lived, we need a daily intake of the Word of God.

It is troubling to me that one of the most overlooked things in the life of many Christians today is attending church. It should be obvious that attending church is God’s will, because church was God’s idea. Christ died for the church, and He is head of the church (Colossians 1:18). It should be obvious that if you are not attending church that you are not in God’s will for your life. Yes, there are hypocrites in the church, but they are God’s problem not yours. If we want to grow as Christians we need the church, and we should do as the writer of the book of Hebrews says, “let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).”

Let us not overlook as Christians the most obvious essentials of our faith. Prayer, Bible, and Church are not optional accessories; they are essentials that every child of God needs integrated into their lives.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

10.13.16

You Who Fear God, Listen

Paul advised them, saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. - Acts 27:9c-11 NKJV.

But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss.” - Acts 27:21 NKJV.

And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.” Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen.” - Acts 13:15-16 NKJV.

A woman in Wisconsin following the directions provided by her GPS unit traveled down a road, which eventually became a snowmachine trail, and became stuck in the snow. By the time the woman was convinced she was on the wrong road it was too late, and because of the 18 inches of snow she could not turn around. She did have a cell phone and was able to call for help. Sheriff’s deputy Keith Svoboda said these very profound words about the GPS unit, “People shouldn't believe everything those things tell you.” This is the second story that I have read about someone being misled by their GPS navigational unit. Probably there have been many others that did not result in the vehicle becoming disabled. The first story was about a van in England turning onto a highway, which was actually a small river.

In Acts 27, the apostle Paul has appealed to Caesar and is being taken in chains to Rome. Paul is fasting and praying and God has revealed to him a disaster that is ahead for the ship, and for all those aboard the ship. He tries to warn the Centurion who is the Roman officer in charge. However, the Centurion did not listen to this word from God; instead he listened to the captain of the ship and to the owner of the ship. The captain and the owner did not want to waste time waiting for a storm to blow by because it would cost them money to delay. However, after the storm had blown the ship around for several days, and they all feared for their lives they finally did listen to Paul. Because the centurion, the captain, and the owner finally listened to Paul; God saved the lives of all those onboard. This was quite a storm lasting for 14 days before the ship finally broke apart and sank when it ran aground.

The apostle Paul when he spoke before the synagogue stood and said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen.” “You who fear God.” Do you fear God, do you reverence God, do you respect God? Do you really? If your life were to be examined by a jury of your peers would they determine that by the way you have lived your life you really do fear, reverence, and respect God? In other words, if you were on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?

We are free to choose the direction we want to travel in this life. God has given us the spiritual freedom of choice. Because of this we often listen to and follow the wrong directions. It was vital for all those onboard the ship with Paul to heed his warning and directions. It is no less vital, it is of no less importance to us today to follow God’s directions for our lives. If you are traveling down a snowmachine path, and the snow keeps getting higher and higher maybe it is time to get some new directions.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

10.12.16

In God We Trust

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 NKJV.

…And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband. - Ruth 1:2b-5 NKJV.

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel!” - Ruth 4:13-14 NKJV.

The admissions director at the University of California at San Diego made a big mistake when she welcomed by email 29,000 or so applicants who had actually been rejected. The welcome email was only intended to be sent to those students who had actually been accepted by the University. Can you imagine the confusion of the students who received the email congratulating them on their acceptance, and then receiving a second email stating their rejection?

It is often difficult to handle rejection; however, those students turned down by UCSD may find a better path for their lives as a result. About 12 years ago (19 years ago now), I was a bi-vocational pastor searching for that second vocation to be able to survive financially. I had a job interview for employment for a very similar position to the one I had held in the past. I was very hopeful that I would be employed. I fasted and prayed for more than a week about this job and I received confirmation from the Lord that He had heard my prayers. However, I was not hired, but at the same time I was encouraged knowing that this was apparently God’s will for my life. The bi-vocational pastorate turned out to be more full-time than part - time, although I did some substitute teaching which I enjoyed. With 12 years of life experience since the rejection of my job application, I am thankful that I was rejected. I am thankful, because I would not be writing these devotionals if I had been hired for that position. I am also thankful because I know that God protected me from going down the wrong path with my life.

There are more difficult things that can happen to us in life than being rejected by a college, or not getting the job that we wanted. Naomi and Ruth experienced one of those more difficult things, their husbands died. Even though this terrible thing happened in the lives of both women, Naomi was faithful to the Lord, and Ruth followed her mother-in-law’s example. As a result Ruth is in the human genealogy of our Lord Jesus, and she became the great-grandmother of King David. Although God did not cause the tragedies to happen, He surely brought good out of the death of their husbands. He brought good out of it as Naomi and Ruth faithfully followed the will of God for their lives step by step, day by day.

In my own family, my great-grandfather’s (Draper Wrather’s) first wife passed away soon after their only child, a daughter was born (That daughter died when she was 14-years-old from a ruptured appendix.). He then married a woman (Francis Raynes Campbell Wrather) whose first husband had died (Her son by her first husband died when he was 20-years-old from Tuberculosis.). I know that my great-grandmother was a godly woman who had much influence for good upon her family. One of her sons, my grandfather, his first wife (my grandmother) passed away before I was born. He then married a godly woman whose example and prayers are still impacting my life. As I have researched the genealogy of my family, nearly every line has faced family tragedies.

When the bad things happen in our lives we are encouraged to remain faithful. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 the apostle Paul encourages us with these words, “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.” “In God We Trust” is not just a motto; it is God’s will for our lives in good times, and in bad times. Trusting in God is always the eternally right decision.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

10.11.16

Caught

For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths. His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin. - Proverbs 3:21-22 NKJV.

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass (caught in a sin - NIV), you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. - Galatians 6:1 NKJV.

Victor Harris stopped at a 7-Eleven convenience store, so he could put some fuel additive into his vehicle. As he was pouring the additive into the tank, a paper lid fell off, and into the tank. Victor tried to use his index finger to reach the lid; at least he tried until his finger became stuck. His finger was caught, and he could not get it out. This happened at about 5:00 a.m. and by seven or eight o’clock Victor said his hand began to get numb, and he started to become a little nervous about the situation. The Fire Department was finally called, and after about four hours they were able to cut out a section of the fuel pipe. Victor was taken to a nearby hospital where they were able to remove his finger, and he received a couple of stitches. It was even a little more embarrassing for Victor, because he is an employee at the hospital.

It is unlikely that Victor Harris will ever experience a similar incident in his life again. Why? Because, he learned a lesson about sticking his hand and finger into a place like that. It would be great if we could learn all of life’s lessons so well that we would never repeat our mistakes. Sin, however, is a mistake that all too often we keep repeating over and over. Why? Because we are caught by sin just as surely as Victor’s finger was caught in the fuel pipe.

Sin is a hunter which catches its prey. Sin catches us. We become “caught in the cords” of sin. Our “iniquities entrap” us, and although we may think of a sin as a single event; once we have sinned, we are caught, entrapped. As a result, we sin again and again. Those who have battled an addiction understand this, because even when they want to stop it is very difficult to do so. However, it is the same for other sins. You tell a lie, and the next lie is easier, and sometimes because of the lie you first told you have to tell additional lies to cover up that first lie. You steal, and then you steal some more. You become caught by your sin.

The very best thing that we can do is to avoid being caught by sin in the first place. However, after sin has caught you - what do you do? How do you escape the trap of sin? You cannot escape on your own. It is a spiritual trap, and requires a supernatural solution. Jesus is the solution. The apostle Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).” Jesus has what you need to escape from the trap of sin. First, you need forgiveness, and Jesus is the One who can give you the forgiveness that you need (1 John 1:9). Then, you need the resources, the empowerment to keep you free, and Jesus has those resources. Put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-11), read and study the Word of God (Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17), and be faithful in attending church (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Jesus has what you need to avoid the trap of sin, and if you are caught in sin; Jesus has what you need to escape and remain free from sin.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

09.22.16

How to Hurt Yourself

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” - Romans 12:18-20 NKJV.

So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s wrath subsided. - Esther 7:10 NKJV.

In Bithlo, Florida, Craig Aylesworth had a little dispute with his neighbor, and things got a little crazy. Craig made a gasoline bomb, and threw it at his neighbor’s mobile home. The bomb did explode, but in what must have been an act of God, the wind changed. Instead of the neighbor’s trailer being burned up; Craig’s pickup, a couple of his cars, and his travel trailer were set on fire by the bomb. Officers investigating think that alcohol may have been involved.

In the Old Testament, is a somewhat similar story of how a plan of revenge backfired. In the book of Esther, we are told of the wicked Haman and the righteous Mordecai. Haman was jealous of Mordecai, and Haman was a power hungry, greedy man who would do anything for power and wealth. It was Haman’s plan for the Jews to be destroyed, and for their property to be taken. It was Haman’s plan for Mordecai to be hung, and he even had the gallows built for Mordecai’s hanging. God’s placement of Esther as the new queen, and her courage in approaching the king with the evil of Haman’s plan thwarted it all; and Haman ended up being hung instead of Mordecai.

When we try to get even with, or get back at others, often we only succeed in hurting ourselves. Craig Aylesworth and Haman both did a good job of hurting themselves, instead of their intended victims.

Instead of our taking the matter of revenge into our own hands, we are told “do not avenge yourselves.” Instead of getting even, we are told to “as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Instead of hurting our enemies, we are told to “feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink.” David took this path in his relationship with King Saul. David refused to kill his enemy, because Saul was the Lord’s anointed. Here’s what David said to Abishai one of his mighty men who wanted to kill Saul, “‘Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?’ David said furthermore, ‘As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish (1 Samuel 26:9-10).’” David had faith that God would take care of King Saul when the right time came, and that it would only bring guilt on himself by killing Saul.

When Judas came with the chief priests, elders and a great number of people armed with swords and clubs to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword ready to fight. However, Jesus said this, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus? (Matthew 26:52-54).” Jesus could have utterly destroyed his physical enemies, but instead He willingly went to the cross suffering and dying for the sins of all people; past, present, and future - by refusing to fight back Jesus eternally defeated death.

Revenge belongs to God and when we try to get back at someone we are inviting disaster into our lives. Let go of the wrongs that have been committed against you, and place them into the hands of God; when you do so, you will have peace, and the blessing of God upon your life.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

09.20.16

Watch Out for the Zombies!

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 59:9b-10 NKJV.

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. - 2 Corinthians 4:3-5 NKJV.

But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." - Ephesians 5:13-14 NKJV.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. - Romans 8:11 NKJV.

Did you know that it is very likely that there are zombies you will encounter, and that you will see walking around you every day? According to Dictionary dot com, one definition of a zombie is “the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.” Now that would be somewhat frightening to think that there may be dead people who look like they are alive, residing perhaps in the home next to yours. Just how are you to determine when you go to the grocery store, which checkout clerk is alive, and which one is dead - it is hard to determine just by looking at someone.

In December of 1979, it was published in the Journal of the Tennessee Medical Association that there is a “Walking Zombie Syndrome.” The condition was defined as those in which depression and withdrawal lead these individuals to unconsciously believe that they are dead. It is not really all that surprising that when these zombies are told that they unconsciously believe themselves to be dead, they persist in denying it even when their symptoms and behavior affirm the diagnosis. It is strange, but there are apparently thousands, maybe even millions of zombies walking around on the streets every day.

Even more strange than the Tennessee Medical Association’s zombie syndrome is the spiritual fact of the walking dead who are spiritually blinded by the god of this age (i.e. the devil - 2 Corinthians 4:3). Their condition is described very well by the prophet Isaiah “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.” These walking dead are those who are dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). In other words; they do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, they have not been born again (John 3:3), and Jesus has not made them alive (Ephesians 2:1).

The good news is that there is an effective treatment for the spiritually dead. All that a spiritually dead person needs to do to be made alive, and have eternal life, is simply to believe upon Jesus Christ as their Savior (John 3:16). So, if you have a zombie residing next door to you, or even in the same home with you, why not tell them the good news?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

09.15.16

Curiosity Killed the Cat

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were n_ked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. - Genesis 3:1-7 NKJV.

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. - James 1:14 NKJV.

We have two cats that are like little kids, and want to look at everything. Their curiosity has gotten them into so much trouble, and it is easy to see how the saying "curiosity killed the cat" came into being. Human beings have a lot of curiosity too, and it has gotten many of us into trouble. In Arizona, a bobcat was the cause of the Cottonwood police being dispatched to three separate incidents. In one of the incidents, which were caught on cell phone video, the cat made those present scramble. Kyle Hicks was one of those who attempted to film the cat with his phone. While he was getting close to the cat to video it, the cat attacked scratching his face, and the back of his ears. The cat also scratched at least one other person on the legs. The bobcat was killed by Cottonwood police officers, and it has been determined that the animal had rabies. All of the individuals that had contact with the cat now have to take rabies shots.

Curiosity got the best of Kyle Hicks, and Kyle now has to receive those shots for rabies. Curiosity to some extent was the cause of the original sin of Adam and Eve. They were tempted, but they were also curious about what the fruit of the forbidden tree would taste like. They were curious about what having their eyes opened, and being “like God” would be like. Our natural curiosity about things exposes us to temptation, and it has been causing trouble ever since Adam and Eve satisfied their curiosity by giving in to temptation. There are many things that we are exponentially better off not knowing about. We may be curious about p_orn, but we will be so much better off without ever having viewed any of it. We may be curious about smoking, but we will be much better off without ever trying it. We may be curious about pot, or meth, or coke, or any of a multitude of addictive substances, but we will save ourselves from so many troubles by never satisfying our curiosity. We may be curious about s_x outside of marriage, but we can save ourselves from so much pain by never experiencing it.

The end result of being “drawn away” and “enticed” by your desires to do evil is that “when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (James 1:15).” Curiosity may kill the cat, but you do not have to let it kill you, because there is a way of escape as we are told in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

09.05.16

Loving Others

And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him, and by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. - 1 John 3:23-24 NKJV.

It happened in Debary, Florida about ten years ago. Drivers could see her as they drove by. She seemed to be stuck in the mud. As you would expect there was so much concern that it tied up traffic for miles. They called the police wanting something done. Monday commuters were again looking for her to see if she was still trapped by the mud, or was she okay now? There was so much concern that again traffic was tied up, and backed up for miles. The Florida Transportation Department knew something had to be done. They put up an electronic flashing sign to communicate to all of those concerned drivers the following, “The Cow is Okay.”

We have to wonder if it had been a human being, would there have been the same amount of concern? Now God is concerned about cattle (Jonah 4:11), but they are not made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Our concern for animals, and disdain for humans, may come from our experience with them. There is usually a good reason when an animal attacks and few of us have been on the receiving end. I have been chased by a cow, but most people in Florida have probably not had the experience. However, nearly all of us have been on the receiving end of verbal or physical attacks from other humans.

I believe there is something in us that wants to show concern, that wants be kind, which wants to love. It is because we were made in the image of God and God is love as the apostle John tells us, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:8).” It may be difficult (It was difficult for Jonah and that's why he ended up in the belly of the great fish.), but it is God’s will and His command for us to be kind to each other and to love each other. We are even to love our enemies, and we know that Jonah had trouble loving those wicked Ninevites. 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 (Matthew 5:44-45a).” We will never really be able to experience love until we begin to love each other.

The next time we see someone stuck in the mud, let us give them some help demonstrating that we are truly made in the image of God, and that we are the sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

09.05.16

When God Says NO

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 NKJV.

There is a TV commercial advertising a vehicle in which parents tell their children: “You can't take that.” One scene shows a boy walking out of a home's garage with a sledge hammer, and the parent says, “You can't take that.” Another scene shows a boy taking a fluorescent light bulb out of a fixture, and the parent says “You can't take that.” Another scene shows a little girl headed outside with hair clippers to cut the hair of another little girl, and the parent says, “You can't take that.”

A good parent knows some things are not good for their child to have, because some things can be harmful to the child, or used in a harmful way. Our Heavenly Father is a good parent, and because He is good, even though we want some things our Heavenly Father says, “You can't have that.” Our Heavenly Father says that, because he knows those things would be harmful to us. And, sometimes when we really want to do something our Heavenly Father says, “You can't do that.” Our Heavenly Father says that, because He knows something else would be better for us.

In Acts 16, God says NO to Paul twice as they were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.” Next, “they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.” Paul was on a mission to reach people with the Gospel, and even though he was the apostle Paul, God still told him NO. Why, did God not permit Paul to preach the word in Asia or Bithynia? God had a better plan which He then revealed to Paul: “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.’”

If the apostle Paul can be wrong about God’s will, it is evident that we can also be wrong about God’s will. Now Paul was a determined and persistent man of God, and we can see this when Paul beseeched God three times to remove his “thorn in the flesh.” God told Paul NO each time. Why? Paul says God told him this, “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure (2 Corinthians 12:7).” Also, God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9a).”

God may at times tell us NO. God may tell us that we can’t do that, or we can’t take that, or we can’t have that, or we can’t go there. However, if God blocks us from doing what we want to do, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love us. It may be that God has a better plan for us, or it may be that God is just protecting us from ourselves. Whatever it may be, as God said to the apostle Paul, He says to us: “My grace is sufficient for you.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

08.30.16

Things Happen

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.” - Genesis 3:17-18 NKJV.

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside….” - Romans 3:10-12a NKJV.

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. - 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 NKJV.

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 NKJV.

This past week (2009) there was a freak accident in the Strait of Hormuz. A U.S. submarine collided with a U.S. transport ship, the USS New Orleans, and although the sub was fully submerged it was not deep enough to avoid the large transport ship. Aboard the submarine, the USS Hartford, 15 sailors were injured; but were released to return to duty. This was the nuclear-powered attack sub’s first deployment. Thankfully, there was no loss of life, and no damage to the nuclear reactor; both vessels survived the incident, although the collision did rupture one of the transport ship’s fuel tanks.

Accidents happen even with vessels whose captains and crews have received enormous amounts of training, and that have substantial electronic equipment available to help prevent collisions. It is likely that you have personally experienced a vehicle accident of some type yourself. I have been trying to remember the actual number of vehicle accidents I have been involved in. When I was a child, I was in a vehicle that was involved in an accident. I had three accidents while I was a teenager. Soon after I was married, I had three accidents in about a year’s time while we were living in Oklahoma City. A few years later I had another minor accident. In addition, I have been a witness to at least four accidents, possibly more.

All of the accidents had some things in common in that they were sudden, they were unpredictable, and they were painful at least psychologically if not physically. Besides vehicle accidents, I really cannot remember the number of times that I have been hurt physically in one way or another. I know it has been many times, although never severely. You can add up in your own life the number of accidents that you have had or seen others have, and know there is something that is true about this place called Earth upon which we live. That truth is that things happen, and although there are many good things that happen, there are also many bad things that are happening around us all the time.

Why do bad things happen? In the Garden of Eden, there were no bad things that happened, but that all changed when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. As a result of their sin, all of creation was corrupted, and bad things began to happen on Planet Earth. However, we have the promise of God that this will all someday be corrected, as we are told of that time in Isaiah 11:9, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” In Revelation 21:4, we are told more of this time when perfection will return to all of creation, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Until then, we have another promise of God for those who love Him, as we are told, “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.26.16

Miserly Fools

Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” And He said to them, “TAKE HEED AND BEWARE OF COVETOUSNESS (NIV – BE ON YOUR GUARD AGAINST ALL KINDS OF GREED), for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’

“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:13-21 NKJV.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. – Romans 1:18-19 NKJV.

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 (GREED – NIV), 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. – Romans 1:28-31 NKJV.

The rise in pharmaceutical company prices and profits at the expense of the vulnerable is shocking. The latest is the 400% increase in the price of EpiPens which is a lifesaving product many depend on. The price has increased from $56.64 to $315.82 since Mylan Pharmaceuticals bought the patent. Since then, the CEO of Mylan, Heather Bresch, has had a salary increase from $2 million to $18 million. Other executives of Mylan have also had huge increases in their salaries. Some Senators are now calling for a probe into this outrageous profit taking at the expense of the most vulnerable. If you are outraged by this too, you can sign a petition demanding the stop of this horrific profiteering at the Other98: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/stop-epipen-profiteering-drop-the-price-of-this-lifesaving-medicine-now (Yahoo News 08.25.16 and the Other98)

There have been many great and wonderful advances in developing medicines for the treatment of diseases. However, when those medications are unaffordable what good are they? There are currently six HCV Hepatitis C drugs that reach cure rates of 96%. The cost of a 12-week course of treatment with these drugs range from $63,000 to $94,500; but, sometimes it takes a 24-week course of treatment. Just recently it was announced by some insurance companies that they will no longer cover the cost of treatment of HCV. No surprise there. Really, what good are the medications if most people are unable to afford them? (Info on medications and cost from: Healthline 02.24.16)

The definition for “greed” from Dictionary dot com is: “excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.” Looking at the outrageous actions of executives of pharmaceutical companies, those actions appear to go beyond simple greed. There is another word which fits these actions. Dictionary dot com defines “avarice” as: “insatiable greed for riches; inordinate, miserly desire to gain and hoard wealth.” Executives for pharmaceutical companies appear to have an insatiable greed, greed that can never be satisfied no matter how much money or possessions that they accumulate.

At Sweetwater, Oklahoma where we lived for 18 years as I was the pastor of a church there, we would often pass by a large old house. I once asked who had built the house, and the answer was “Miser Stewart.” No one seemed to know his first name; it was just “Miser Stewart.” The pharmaceutical executives are far worse than misers. God has a name for them, and that name is FOOL! When their soul is required of them, those things they have accumulated will be meaningless. The “wrath of God” will one day be poured out upon those fools.

Focusing your life upon accumulating money and material things will only result in an emptiness that no amount of riches can fill. Money and material things cannot give you peace, fulfillment, satisfaction, and meaning in your life. Only by putting God in His proper place, proper perspective, can you have real life, the abundant life (John 10:10b) that Jesus came to give you. That proper place of God is first place. Put God first as Matthew 6:33 says and everything else will fall into its proper place. The life abundant will then begin to flow into every area of your life. You will then not be known as being a miserly fool, instead you will be known as “blessed” of God (Psalm 1).

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.25.16

Better than Gold

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the GENUINENESS of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:3-9 NKJV.

An anonymous prospector in Victoria, Australia has struck gold! Using a metal detector he has found two large gold nuggets only a foot or two below ground. He found a nine ounce gold nugget the first day, which at current gold price would be worth about $11,907. The second day, he returned to the same area, and found a huge nugget weighing 145 ounces worth $190,710. The first night he hid his big nugget in their oven, but it is now in a bank’s vault. The prospector said this about the find, “I had just unearthed a colossal gold nugget, a once in a lifetime find! I was in total disbelief as I didn't think nuggets of this size were still around.” He plans use the money from the nuggets to buy a van and travel Australia with his family. (Yahoo News 08.24.16)

When gold was struck in California in the 1850s, men and women from across the world poured into the area to prospect for gold. One of my ancestor’s relatives, we know from census records went to California during that time, but I have found no record of him after that time. It was a hazardous journey to California, and even more hazardous actually trying to live and work as a prospector.

Gold is even more valuable today than it was in the 1850s with today’s price being $1393.90 per ounce. However, as valuable as gold may be, there is something far more valuable, far better than gold that we can obtain. The apostle Peter tells us that the “GENUINENESS of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes.” What is “genuineness”? Dictionary dot com defines genuineness as: “possessing the claimed or attributed character, quality, or origin; not counterfeit; authentic; real.” We can have faith that is genuine, which is better than gold.

How do we know whether faith is genuine or not? In a way somewhat similar to gold being refined; when gold is refined the impurities are removed by fire leaving pure gold. We are told in 1 Peter 1:6, “though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” I am continually amazed when I hear of friends who have had all kinds of terrible things happen to them and their families, that they continue to praise God, continue to serve God, continue to walk with their God through each day. I have no doubt that their faith is genuine, which has been proved by the fire of earthly trials which affect us here in this world. Peter says those whose faith is going through these earthly trials “may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”

You don’t have to go to Australia, or California, or Colorado to find gold. The psalmist says, “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver (Psalm 119:72).” Dig into the riches of God’s Word every day, and you will find genuine faith for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

08.24.16

Defriended

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. - Romans 5:7-9 NKJV.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. - 1 John 5:13 NKJV.

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 NKJV.

If you have been a member on any of the social networks like Facebook for very long you have probably been deleted from someone’s friend’s list. Your friend looked at your profile, your photo, your information, and they clicked on the delete button removing you from their friend’s list. You were just not good enough for them. Kind of makes you feel bad for a little while. Of course, it’s not like they are your next door neighbor (I hope not!), or your friend you have known since grade school. But still it hurts a little knowing you did not measure up in someone’s eyes.

In the world it matters what you look like, what you do, and how you present yourself. I have had prospective friends ask me to change my profile photo. Ouch! That hurts. It’s like asking me to change my face, and that is kind of hard to do. Some of us are just not as photogenic as others. I have had others to put conditions on our relationship as in; if I do not message them or email them frequently enough then they will delete me. Since they do not know me personally many feel free to really say what they feel. In other words, sometimes they let you have it with both barrels. To be honest I have deleted some people from my friend’s list too. Usually I have deleted them because of something obscene that they have said or posted on my profile. I have also not accepted some people as friends for the same reasons.

Thankfully, Jesus has different standards than we do. What if Jesus had the same standards as us? If He did, He might say something like this: “God demonstrated His love for those who were not too ugly, for those who behaved appropriately, for those who never say any bad words, and for those who never abuse alcohol or illegal substances.” He might also add: “My friends who are heavy ladened you have come to me and my yoke is light, but I do require that you be in constant contact with me (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and never ever break any of my commandments. I will give you a trial run for about three weeks, but if you can’t cut it, I will delete you as a friend and there is no way that I will ever add you back.”

Compare our defriending standards with the defriending standards of God: “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. WHO SHALL SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF CHRIST? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 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 8:34-39).”

Aren’t you glad that Jesus does not have the same requirements for His friend’s list as we do? I know that I am!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

08.23.16

Is Now the Time?

The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding. So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. - Matthew 22:8-10 NKJV.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. - Psalm 23:6b NKJV.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. - Matthew 24:14 NKJV.

Looking ahead to our future home can give us great comfort. I believe King David often contemplated his eternal home, and how wonderful that would be to leave behind the pain and troubles of this world. How close are we to the end? I think that every generation has believed that they were on the brink. Surely, now we are very close to the Gospel being preached to every nation. Of course, only the Father knows as Jesus says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only (Matthew 24:36).”

With every day, the wedding feast of the Lamb is drawing closer and closer. In Revelation 19:9 we are told, “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” Who will be in the Kingdom of Heaven? All those who respond to the invitation, and are clothed with the wedding clothes will be in the Kingdom of Heaven. What are the wedding clothes? In Matthew 22:11-14 is the description of a guest who refused to put on the wedding clothes: “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called but few are chosen.”

It was the custom of royalty during the time of Jesus to give beautiful robes to all those attending their parties or feasts to wear while in attendance. The robes were luxurious, and when they left the robes would be collected. In the parable Jesus tells, the king has passed out the robes so everyone would be properly dressed. One man, even though he wanted to attend the party, refused to put on the proper clothes. What is the King’s robe? It is the Robe of Righteousness that can be ours through the turning from sin and receiving Christ as our Savior. Isaiah says, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a Robe of Righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).” In Revelation chapter three we are given a view of those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and everyone is wearing a white robe.

Perhaps life’s greatest question is have you accepted the King’s invitation and been clothed with the Robe of Righteousness?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

08.18.16

The God Factor

But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. - Proverbs 4:18-19.

If you do a search on Google for “dumb criminals” you will receive more than 96,000 results. No doubt you have heard many times about dumb criminals, dumb crooks, or stupid criminals etc. Many of the individuals labeled in this way possess a high intelligence, and so at least in that area of just brain power, they are not stupid, they are not dumb.

Here are a few of the recent accounts of people who have engaged in criminal activity with the appearance of a lack of intelligence:

In Fox Point, Wisconsin a man attempted to rob a Tae Kwon Do studio. Obviously, that was a mistake!

In Pensacola, Florida a man burglarizing a convenience store was caught when he tripped on his jeans. The burglar was fleeing the store with his arms full of cigarette cartons, and was unable to hold up his jeans, and carry the cartons at the same time.

In Fredericksburg, Virginia an intoxicated man somehow got into a state trooper’s apartment, and went to sleep on the sofa. Not long afterwards the trooper returned home, and you can guess the outcome of that.

In Chicago a man impersonating a police officer with a fake gun ordered two real off duty officers to leave the area.

In Cape Haze, Florida a man robbed a gas station, but ran out of gas before he could leave the area.

In San Francisco, a construction worker was burglarizing vehicles using a sledge hammer to break in. However, in one of the burglaries he left behind the sledge hammer, which had his name engraved on it.

In Cleveland, one man had for some reason, called 911 to report a couple of suspicious persons. In the process of getting a description of these people, the 911 operator was told to hold on, and then the operator heard the man complete a sale of heroin.

In France, a burglar planned to drill into the bank vault, but instead ended up in the bank’s restroom. Alarms were sounded, and he was quickly arrested.

Bennie Wint had been on the run from the law since 1989, but was recently arrested after being stopped for a tail light being out.

Then there was the man seen running out of a store carrying a cash register, and the police officer who just happened to be turning into the store parking lot thought that was suspicious.

There are countless more incidents of criminals who appear to commit very stupid mistakes, or are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing. I would submit to you that many of these incidents are not a result of a lack of intelligence, but instead of the God Factor. As the writer of Proverbs puts it, “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.”

If you have been stumbling around in life, maybe it is time to do things differently. Solomon makes this suggestion as to how to change the outcome in your life, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones (Proverbs 3:5-8).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.17.16

Living the Right Way

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be UNWISE, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And DO NOT BE DRUNK with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, GIVING THANKS always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 5:15-20 NKJV.

The Unwise:

What would you do if you won a $3 million dollar lottery prize? Ronnie Music Jr. who is 45-years-old, thought the wise use of his $3 million dollars would be to invest in a trafficking methamphetamine organization. However, he is now in jail and facing a long long prison sentence. When he was arrested, he and his helpers were caught with $1 million in drugs and guns. (Atlanta Journal – Constitution 07.26.2016)

The Drunk:

29-year-old Stacy Sanchez is in trouble, a lot of trouble. She was on her way home after spending hours at several Oceanside, California bars when she hit a homeless man with her vehicle. The man was killed by the impact; however, Stacy didn’t stop her car, and she kept on going for ¾ mile with the body of her victim stuck in her windshield. When she arrived at her home, her husband called police. Stacy has been charged with DUI and vehicular manslaughter. (New York Post 06.28.16)

The Thankful:

The Family Minute dot com gives eight things that you can be thankful for: family, friends, having a home and food, laughter, job, freedoms, those impacting your life positively, and for your health. The Thought Catalog gives 51 things you can be thankful about. And, Real Simple dot com gives 100 things you can be thankful about. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says, “pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” That is where perhaps most well-known illustration about thanksgiving originates. Corrie Ten Boom, in a Nazi camp for Jewish people waiting for the gas chambers, is told by her sister to thank God even for the fleas in their barracks. As Corrie found out later the fleas made the guards stay away from their barracks.

The apostle Paul gives the formula for living a successful life in Ephesians 5:15-20: Be Wise, Be Sober, and Be Thankful. How do we have wisdom? We are told this in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Sobriety flows out of having wisdom, which will then result in our being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) instead of being drunk or high. If we are wise, and we are filled with the Spirit, as a result we will be thankful in everything as we are commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. This is how we can live the right way, God’s way.

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.16.16

Put It Away

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 4:31 NKJV.

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. – Hebrews 12:14-15 NKJV.

Paul E. Donovan, Jr. who is 69-years-old has for 56-years had a grudge against a former childhood friend. Now, it is not that hard to understand why Donovan was upset with his friend; but, really, holding onto it for 56-years! Donovan claims that when he was 12-years-old his friend at the time stole $300 from a wooden box in his room. That would be enough to upset anyone for a while. How do we know Donovan has held a grudge for all these years? Because, the tombstone of his former childhood friend was vandalized several times by Donovan.

In 2014, Donovan spray painted “John” in bright orange on the gravestone, this was done twice. Later in the year it was vandalized again, this time with tar-like substance that was poured over the stone. A camera was then set up by police to try to catch the perpetrator of these acts of vandalism. In May of 2015, the perp was caught on video stealing lights that had been set up around the tombstone to try to prevent more vandalism. Donovan did immediately confess to the crime when arrested, but said at time of his arrest that he will, “pay back any restitution minus the $300 he was owed over 56 years ago.” A judge has sentenced Donovan to two years of probation and ordered to pay $1500 in restitution to the family. Wonder how the judge will react to Donovan just paying $1200? (Daily Local News 08.04.16)

It is likely that everyone reading this has had someone do something to them that has caused pain, and likely anger at the time. Fifty years ago someone stole a #1 Spiderman comic book from me that was in mint condition. The record sale price for one of those is $110,000. If I still had the comic it likely it would have been worth only a few thousand, because I would have read it, and looked at it, and the value would have decreased. I think I know who took the comic, but you know what? I would pay thousands of dollars to not carry a grudge for fifty years! It was just something that happened long ago, and I blame myself for leaving the comic where someone would be tempted to take it. And, think of the guilt that person had, because they stole it.

With Paul Donovan we can see the danger to our emotional and spiritual well-being from allowing bitterness to grow in our lives. That “bitter root” like a plant will slowly grow until the fruit of bitterness springs up causing trouble and moral defilement making a person unfit for serving God. The solution to such bitterness is to immediately confess our bitterness to our Lord as 1 John 1:9 directs. Not only will our bitterness, even our grudge be forgiven, but our God will comfort us so that the bitterness and anger is wiped away, replaced with His peace which transcends all understanding. If you are holding onto a grudge, let it go through the power of God before the evil fruit springs up in your life. Put it away from you as Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.10.16

Learning Your Lesson

Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.

And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord because of the Midianites, that the Lord sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, “I am the Lord your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’” – Judges 6:1-10 NKJV.

Noah Elkins and Priscilla Simpson were driving along looking for a place to swim when they had a close encounter with a power pole and some tiny little creatures. It all happened in a rural area of Laurel County, Kentucky. Noah and Priscilla were high on some drugs (Suboxone, neurotin and Klonopin), but I digress. What were those tiny little creatures that viciously attacked these two thirty year olds? Bees! It was bees that immediately swarmed after them when they crawled out of their wrecked vehicle. The bees were stinging them all over; they grabbed a water hose from a home nearby, and tried to wash the bees off. Gary Anderson who lived in the home said the two were, “screaming and squalling, and running around about like a chicken with its head cut off.” Gary didn’t realize at first that the bees were stinging them, and just thought they were high on drugs.

Noah and Priscilla were taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries from the accident, and from the numerous bee stings. Noah is facing a charge of Driving While Intoxicated and Priscilla a charge of Public Intoxication. Gary Anderson, the home owner, was also stung several times on his leg attempting to rescue the two. Gary says, “Everyone around there hopes the two learned a serious lesson. I'd say by today they are learning their lesson. If they feel like my leg feels, I'd say they're learning. I'd say they're itching real good because my ankle's itching. I think it's that poison from them bees.” (CBS WKYT Lexington 07.27.16 and various other news venues)

Wonder which lesson Gary and Priscilla learned? Don’t drive around while you are high on drugs? Don’t crash your vehicle into a pole with a beehive on it? And if you do crash into a pole with a beehive, make sure you are not wearing a bikini? That had to be an unpleasant lesson they received, but I doubt they actually learned anything from it.

This reminded me of the Book of Judges where the children of Israel had a hard time learning their lesson. The cycle of sin, repentance, and deliverance kept repeating itself in their lives over and over and over. They would sin, they would be oppressed, they would cry out to the Lord for help, and God would send a deliverer, a judge to lead them to freedom. In the passage in Judges 6 it is Gideon that God raised up to lead them in throwing off the oppressive yoke of the Midianites. Failure to learn their lesson was a continual problem and eventually led the children of Israel to be carried into captivity to Babylon.

It is easy to condemn those who sin, those who have some kind of moral failure. God knows I have had many painful lessons and have not always learned them. “There but for the grace of God go I” is a saying I have heard all my life. Many of us are familiar with this saying and google gives more than two million results for it.

When we are caught in the Judges cycle with our own lives what should we do? How can we learn our lesson? The problem is a lack of focus on what is most important. The most important of all in our lives should be Jesus. “…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…(Hebrews 12:1b-2a). “…consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls (Hebrews 12:3).” “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).” Discipline is necessary, and there is no way around the need for faithfulness in applying the resources of God to our lives so that we might have the mind of Christ: Prayer, Bible, Church. May we all learn our lesson!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

08.09.16

Silly Stuff

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. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. - Joshua 1:8-9 NKJV.

Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the Ark of the Covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” And he said to the people, “Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the Lord.” - Joshua 6:6-7 NKJV.

When they combined boric acid and silicone oil it appeared to be a failure, but it did some unexpected and silly things. This silly thing they had created bounced; and even though solid, it flowed like a liquid. Someone named, Peter Hodgson, took this silly thing and packed it in plastic eggs; and then it was marketed in a toy store catalog. Almost 60 years later, we know Silly Putty has made more than $140 million dollars and new uses for this silly stuff are still being discovered. Who would have thought it possible except maybe Peter Hodgson? You can find out more about Silly Putty at http://www.sillyputty.com.

Joshua was asked to do what the world would call a silly thing, conquering of a powerful enemy city with huge walls that had never been conquered in an unusual way. God told Joshua to march around the city each day for six days and on the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times. Then, the priests were to blow the ram’s horns and the people were to give a great shout. The people of Jericho probably thought that was a silly way to conquer them. By the seventh day they were probably laughing each time those crazy Israelites marched by. If they had lawn chairs then, they would have kicked back in their lawn chairs drinking some cool ones while they watched the show. However, when the horns blew, and the people shouted; the walls came crashing down, and no one was laughing any more.

Where did the success of Joshua and the people of Israel begin? It began with what many in the world would say is silly. Their success began with a focus on the Word of God, which was a focus on God. This focus on God allowed them to be fearless in the face of the world’s mockery, and fearless in the conquest of Jericho, and of the giants of the land.

What would happen in your life if you stopped worrying about what people might think, and instead began to focus in on what God wants? You can begin at the same point Joshua began with, God’s Word. From that point onward God will be saying to you as He said to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

It is time for you to report in, because the Commander of the Lord’s Army has some new orders for you.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

08.05.16

A New Life

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV.

Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.” – 1 John 3:7 NKJV.

We remember the horrific crash of two passenger trains in west London near Paddington Station in 1999. Karl Hackett watched the crash, and saw it as an opportunity to start another life under an assumed identity. Pretending to be his supervisor, he called an emergency line and reported himself missing. Just to be sure, he called again posing as his brother, and again reported himself missing. His family attended a memorial service at the site of the train crash believing he had perished, and the body was unrecoverable. However, Hackett’s new life did not work out quite as he had hoped, and he was given a five month suspended sentence for his deception. His attorney, Michael Ivers, said at that time: “His employment in the field of computer graphics has come to an end. He is now effectively humiliated in terms of his employment.”

Many others have tried similar deceptions in order to gain a new life. In the United States in January of this year (2009), Marcus Schrenker, attempted to fake his death by reporting problems aboard the plane he was piloting. He reported that he was bleeding profusely after receiving injuries during severe turbulence; then while leaving the plane on autopilot, he parachuted to safety. The plane crashed, but the pilots of the military jets that intercepted the plane saw that the door was ajar, and that the cockpit was dark prior to the crash. The plan was for the plane to crash at sea, but it crashed on land, and there was not any sign of blood in the wreckage. Schrenker had hoped to leave behind the financial fraud that he had perpetrated; but he has been arrested, and will be forced to face trial, and receive punishment for his crimes. It seems that eventually it always fails, and it is never quite what they had hoped. However, we do not have to assume someone else’s identity in order to have a new life. No, we can be “born again.” By receiving Jesus as our Savior, we will become a “new creation” and “old things” will have “passed away.” We will also receive a “new name.” Revelation 2:17 tells us “and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written no one knows except him who receives it.”

Sometimes we may not feel like we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). That is because we are designed for a new heaven and a new earth. Our citizenship was transferred from earth to Heaven at the moment that we received Christ Jesus as our Savior, and we were “born again.” Until we actually arrive in our Heavenly home, we are “ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)” here on earth to share with others the joy and hope of the new life. Contemplate the fact that you are a representative of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. It may not always feel like such a wonderful thing at the present time when we sometimes suffer for our faith, but consider what the apostle Paul says about this time while we are still on earth, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

08.03.16

Do You Need Rescuing?

…the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment. - 2 Peter 2:9 NKJV.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. - 1 Corinthians 10:12-14 NKJV.

Usually when we hear a story about a St. Bernard dog we think immediately of their heroic history as rescue dogs in the Swiss Alps. In 1707, the St. Bernard, Barry, rescued (depending on accounts of the event) between 40 and 100 people at what is now known as the Great St. Bernard Pass. The heroic dog’s body has actually been preserved and is in the Natural History Museum at Berne. However, I recently read about a St. Bernard that instead of rescuing, was on the receiving end of a rescue. Duke, a 16-month-old St. Bernard, got out of his owner’s yard in Billings, Montana and ended up falling through the ice on a golf course pond. Duke got out of the pond, but then was frozen to the ice. After the dog was found by a maintenance worker, the fire department was called. See, it’s not only cats in trees that they rescue! Two firefighters reached the 118-pound dog with a rescue sled. After the ice was broken off, and a blow dryer at a veterinary clinic dried him off, Duke was feeling pretty good.

In the 20th and 21st Centuries, there are as there always have been, many worldly temptations and snares of the devil. Even great servants of God can sometime succumb to those temptations and snares. Bob Harrington is an example. Bob was saved in 1958 and three days later preached his first sermon. He became an evangelist and by the late 1960s was conducting area wide crusades and had a weekly television program. His ministry in the French Quarter of New Orleans was well known and he was proclaimed by the Mayor of New Orleans to be the "Chaplain of Bourbon Street." It all came to an end in 1976 when Bob Harrington was at the pinnacle of his ministry. Bob left the ministry to live as a prodigal for 17 years. After 17 years of prodigal living he returned to the Lord. Here are a couple of links where you can find out more about Bob Harrington’s life and testimony. First, is a SBC Life article: http://www.sbclife.net/articles/2000/11/sla6. Second, is Harrington’s facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/ChaplainOfBourbonSt/.

What was it that led to Bob Harrington’s fall? His website, which is no longer active, mentioned his pride. What was it that led to the devil being cast out of Heaven? It was his pride (Ezekiel 28:17). When did Bob Harrington turn away from the Lord? It was at the point of his greatest ministry. When you are the most effective for the Lord you must be very careful that you do not fall victim to the snares of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

What if you have already fallen? You were a servant of God in the past, and even led many to a saving faith in the Lord. You were a rescuer, but now you need to be rescued. There is a way of escape and the Lord is able to deliver you. If He rescued Bob Harrington, He can rescue you. If you will turn back to the Lord, the Lord will run to you as the Father ran to the prodigal son, welcoming you home (Luke 15:11-31). Just in case you were waiting for an invitation, here it is - your Heavenly Father wants you to come home.

1 John 1:9 is a good place to start as we are told, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” King David after his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, and of arranging the murder of her husband Uriah, gives us a great prayer of repentance and confession in Psalm 51; here is part of that prayer:

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 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—

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise (Psalm 51:1-4a; 8-9; 11-12; 17 NKJV.)”

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.01.16

How to Make God Smile

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. – Genesis 6:5-8 NKJV.

Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.” – Genesis 7:1 NKJV.

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy. – Psalm 147:11 NKJV.

The Kilauea Volcano is smiling; yes, it is smiling, and there is video evidence of the smile. The volcano smiley face has two glowing eyes and a long crooked smile. The volcano smiley face was filmed by Mick Kalber from a helicopter belonging to Paradise Helicopters. The Kilauea volcano is a very active and has erupted continuously since 1983 and is located on the Big Island of Hawaii. The lava flow from the volcano has reached the ocean for the first time in three years. You can view the photos and video of the volcanic smiley face at this link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3715583/Mother-nature-flashes-smile-Hawaii-volcano-appears-red-hot-grin-complete-glowing-eyes-molten-lava-hits-sea.html (DailyMail 08.01.16)

We visited the Big Island of Hawaii in 1995 and the volcano was one of the more memorable things that we saw on the island. However, there were no smiley faces in the volcano then. In 1995, the lava flow was reaching the ocean and we along with a large number of other people tried to get as close as we could to view it. I remember we were still a long way away from the lava flow when the heat became unbearable and we had to turn away.

Seeing the video of the volcanic smiley face this morning made me think of this question: Does God smile? And if God does smile, what would make Him smile upon our lives? Searching the Bible, depending upon which translation is used, there are only three to five references to the word smile. However, although the Bible does not specifically reference God smiling I believe that God does smile if you think of Him as being pleased with the lives of some of His servants.

God appears to be pleased with His servants Enoch and Noah. Why? Because Enoch and Noah pleased God. But how did they please God. In Hebrews 11, it is revealed that it was by faith that Enoch and Noah pleased God. The writer of Hebrews comments on Enoch’s faith by saying this, “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:5-6).” The writer of Hebrews also comments on how Noah pleased God by saying, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith (Hebrews 11:7 NKJV).”

How can we make God smile? King David tells us in Psalm 51 in his prayer of repentance: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise (Psalm 51:15-17 NKJV).” In Romans 10, we see more specifically how we can make God smile as we are told, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:12-13 NKJV).’” The Amplified Bible puts the last part of Romans 10:12 as, “[He is] abounding in riches (blessings) for all who call on Him [in faith and prayer].” The New American Standard Bible puts this as “abounding in riches for all who call on Him.”

So, how can we make God smile? “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).” By faith receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, and you will surely make God smile. And, then by faith walk with God as did Enoch and Noah, and God will surely smile even more!

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.28.16

Pokémon Go and Becoming the Best

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:14 NKJV.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matthew 6:33 NKJV.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15 NKJV.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV.

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

Tom Currie in New Zealand is on a mission, a Pokémon Go mission to become the best Pokémon Go hunter in the world. Tom is 24-years-old, and before becoming a full-time Pokémon Go hunter he worked at the Hibiscus Coast restaurant in Auckland. Tom has tendered his resignation to the Hibiscus Coast café to dedicate the next two months to Pokémon hunting. He plans to travel by bus all over the country to capture these Pokémons. So far Tom has captured 90 of the 151 Pokémon creatures that are possible to be caught. Currie says, “I wanted to have an adventure. I have been working for six years and I was desperate for a break. And Pokémon gave me the chance to live that dream.” (Newshub 07.15.16; The Guardian 07.15.16)

Are you living the dream? Are you the best that you can be? You have to admire anyone who gives everything they have to be the best they can be at something. Do you have a dream? Are you the best that you can be? Those I think are good questions to ask ourselves, but as Christians we should always include God in the equation. Does our dream include God, is it something that will bring honor and glory to God? If we are the very best at something, is that something God will be pleased to see demonstrated in our lives?

A starting point for any God honoring dream should include Matthew 6:33 because we can never really be the best that we can be if we leave God out of our lives. In Philippians 3, we have a statement which is helpful in understanding this: “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 NKJV).”

If we leave God out of our quest to become the best we can be all we will have accomplished will just be a pile of garbage. Without God, a dream is worthless. Let us “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Let us fight the good fight while keeping the faith and redeeming the time; being diligent workers not ashamed who are approved by God. May we truly be the best that we can be finishing the race, not giving up, even to the very end of our walk here upon this world.

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.27.16

Pokémon Go and the Unseen World

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. – Colossians 1:16 NKJV.

Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? – Hebrews 1:14 NKJV.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. – 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 NKJV.

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. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. – Ephesians 6:10-13 NKJV.

Having never played Pokémon, I have little knowledge of what it actually is except what I have read or viewed in news stories. Please bear with me as I share a little information that I have found. I turned to Wikipedia to find out more, and this is what they say Pokémon is: The name Pokémon is the romanticized contraction of the Japanese brand Pocket Monsters. The term Pokémon, in addition to referring to the Pokémon franchise itself, also collectively refers to the 722 known fictional species that have made appearances in Pokémon media.

The Pokémon website says this about the new incarnation of Pokémon, Pokémon Go: “Get on your feet and step outside to find and catch wild Pokémon. Explore cities and towns around where you live and even around the globe to capture as many Pokémon as you can. As you move around, your smartphone will vibrate to let you know you're near a Pokémon. Once you've encountered a Pokémon, take aim on your smartphone's touch screen and throw a Poké Ball to catch it. Be careful when you try to catch it, or it might run away! Also look for PokéStops located at interesting places, such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments, where you can collect more Poké Balls and other items.”

One of the unfortunate side effects of Pokémon Go is the injuries some have experienced hunting these imaginary creatures. The Washington Post published an article 07.10.16 about those injuries. Here is a quote from the article: “Pokémon Go put me in the ER last night,” read one post on the Pokemon Go subreddit. “Not even 30 minutes after the release last night, I slipped and fell down a ditch,” said the Reddit user. “Fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot, 6-8 weeks for recovery. I told all the doctors I was walking my dog lol... Watch where you're going, folks!” Others posted that they, too, had near misses or minor scrapes from chasing Pokémon a little too enthusiastically. Some have reported mishaps while seeking Pokémon and driving, which is a thing that just shouldn’t happen. That bears repeating: do not Pokémon Go and drive.

The good news for Pokémon go players in Russia is a new free insurance policy that is now available for them. Sberbank will insure players with a free policy providing up to $800 in case of injury while playing the game. The same article about the insurance policy says: Ever since the game’s release, people have been crashing into police cars, tumbling down stairs, getting shot and someone has even fallen off a cliff in their effort to catch the best Pokémon. (CNBC 07.25.16)

Through the Pokémon app on their phones, players are able to see and interact with an unseen imaginary world. What if there was an app on our phones to see the unseen, very real spiritual world? Looking through the app we could then see the demons attacking our lives and the angels of God trying to protect us. We could then see that when we sin it allows the demonic world an entry point into our lives to cause trouble. When we live righteously we could then see how much easier the angels are able to repel the demonic attacks. When we respond in prayer to those demonic attacks we would see how crushing blows are delivered by God upon those demonic forces.

Although we cannot see our spiritual enemies they are very real, and we must resist them. The Bible does give us much direction in how to do this. Here are two additional Scriptures that can help us: “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 (James 4:7-8 NKJV).” Also, Revelation 12:11 NKJV: “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.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2004

07.26.16

Lying Like a Dog

But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. - Acts 24:14-16.

You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. - Leviticus 19:11.

Sofia Aguilar’s car, a Mitsubishi 3000 GT, was having some transmission problems and she did what most of us would do, she took her car to a mechanic. Rocky Castilleja, a San Antonio, Texas mechanic for weeks told Sofia that her car was not yet repaired. When she went by the mechanic’s shop to check on it in person she found the car had an extra 190 miles on the odometer. Castilleja explained that the extra miles was a result of diagnostic testing, which seemed reasonable to Sofia. Several weeks later (Her car had not yet been returned.), Sofia and her family went to the races. She was shocked to see her mechanic on the track, and…he was driving her car!! Upon closer inspection they found that it was indeed her car and with an additional 340 miles on it. Sofia called the police and the mechanic claimed that Sofia, “knew I was going to test drive her car.” However, after a short investigation officers arrested Castilleja for unlawful use of a vehicle.

It is amazing the creative license some take with the truth! Too many times, I have been disappointed to learn that someone has looked me in the eyes and lied. It is hard for me to understand why a person would persistently tell one lie after another unless they do not know the Lord as their Savior. I will confess that I have lied before, but it is not something that I can do habitually, because it wounds my conscience and grieves the Holy Spirit. I, as did the apostle Paul, strive to keep my conscience clear before God and man, because to do otherwise is much too painful.

Why did the apostle Paul strive to keep his conscience clear? As he explained before Felix, he had hope in God. In other words, he believed that God was real, and that there would someday be an accounting for our actions. Paul had a fear, a reverence, and respect for God, because he looked beyond to eternity. There is more to life than what just meets our eyes. There is something more important than any situation where we are tempted to tell an untruth to make things better for us, or to make ourselves look better. God knows exactly what we are doing. Let us ponder very carefully our actions in view of the eternal fact that there is a God and some bright shining day we who know Jesus as our Savior will walk by sight in His presence.

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.25.16

Prayer Guidance

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. – 1 Peter 3:12 NKJV.

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. – 1 Peter 4:7 NKJV.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. – 1 John 5:14-15 NKJV.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men – 1 Timothy 2:1 NKJV.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV.

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. – Colossians 4:2 NKJV.

Ruqiyyah Abdur Raqeeb Sadiq, a 28-year-old woman failed to stop at a stop sign in Mary Esther, Florida, crossed an intersection, and slammed into the side of a house. Usually with accidents like this you would think that alcohol or drug use would be involved. However, you would be wrong this time. Sadiq said that the accident must have happened while she had her eyes closed praying. This was also likely why they took her to a hospital for evaluation. Sadiq has been charged with reckless driving with property damage. Thankfully, no one in the house was injured. (Daily News of NW Florida 07.11.16; Smoking Gun 07.12.16)

There are some things that you should not do while praying. As we see with Sadiq’s accident, driving with your eyes closed while praying is one of those things. Also, in spite of what Carrie Underwood sings in “Jesus, Take the Wheel” it would be a mistake to turn loose of the steering wheel while you are driving.

There are some things that will hinder our prayers, but in general God will hear our prayers:

When we pray with our eyes closed.
When we pray with our eyes open.
When we pray with our heads bowed.
When we pray without our heads being bowed.
When we have our faces turned toward Heaven.
When we pray outloud.
When we pray silently.
When we pray standing up.
When we pray sitting.
When we pray lying down.
When we pray upside down.
When we pray running.
When we pray walking.
There are hardly any wrong ways to pray, and some prayers are unspoken as God hears our heart’s cry. I like Amy Grant’s song, “Better than a Hallelujah” where she sings:

God loves a lullaby
In a mother's tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The woman holding on for life
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

The tears of shame for what's been done
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

Regardless of what we pray or how we pray, the Spirit we are told makes intercession for us according to the will of God. In other words, the Holy Spirit translates our prayers so that the Father hears them according to His will. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27 NKJV).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.20.16

An Outrage!

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put MY LAW in their minds, and WRITE IT ON THEIR HEARTS; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. – Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV.

The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins. – Proverbs 10:11-12 NKJV.

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…. – Galatians 5:19-21a NKJV.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. – James 3:13-18 NKJV.

Yesterday, in Cleveland, Ohio near the Republican National Convention, protesters committed a new outrage. What was this new outrage? Throwing urine in plastic baggies on police officers and others. Someone tweeted asking why anyone would have a baggie filled with their urine? Someone tweeted in response that it was in Chapter 2 of the book, “Things I learned in prison.” It is reprehensible! It is an outrage! It is also an assault, and those throwing urine in plastic baggies on others should be arrested and prosecuted. In fact, if someone is infected with a disease it could be considered an assault with a deadly weapon. It is an outrage that there are unlawful violent assemblies blocking highways, rioting, causing personal injuries, and destroying millions upon millions of dollars in property. That is an outrage! It is an outrage when police officers protecting our communities are targeted for assassination. That is an outrage! To list all of the outrages being perpetrated in our country would take more than the space I have here today.

What is the problem that has created such a racial divide, hate and violence in the United States? John Adams, the second president of the United, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence long ago identified the problem we now see in the United States. Adams said this: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Franklin Graham in his essay “America the Beautiful?” in the most recent issue of Decision Magazine writes, “Wherever Christianity flourishes, freedom flowers. Wherever it is marginalized, tyranny, despotism, and eventually anarchy will inevitably follow.”

The solution to the hatred, the racial divide, and the violence is obvious. The people who make up these United States of America must turn to God; we desperately need a spiritual awakening to sweep across America. No presidential change, no amount of new laws, no amount of great speeches will change the hearts of Americans. Only God is able to change and renew the hearts, lives, and attitudes by writing His law upon our hearts.

The Bible tells what we must do in multiple places similar to Galatians 5:16 which says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” It will take all of us, turning from the godless evil that threatens our freedom, and turning to a real walk with God to bring to an end the outrages we now see destroying our nation. Let it begin with me; let it begin with you, as we seek to daily obey the law of our God which He has written upon our hearts.

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.18.16

All Peoples

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to ALL PEOPLE. – Luke 2:10 NKJV.

For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of ALL PEOPLES, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel. – Luke 2:30-32 NKJV.

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 NKJV.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL PEOPLES to Myself. – John 12:32 NKJV.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of ALL nations, tribes, PEOPLES, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” – Revelation 7:9-10 NKJV.

Strange in these days, that to say “all lives matter” means according to the “Black Lives Matter” organization that you are a racist. BLM is trying to focus attention on the shootings of black men by police officers and they claim that to say “all lives matter” is taking the focus off of that issue. I will agree that there have been some shootings of black men by law enforcement that does not appear justified just as there have been of some white men and those of other races. However, BLM has been involved in a rush to judgment before the facts are known for most of these shootings.

Most of the shootings of black men by law enforcement have been shown to be justified. I have little sympathy for anyone black, white or of any race that resists arrests and ends up being injured. Resist arrest and you can expect that bad things will happen. Even if you believe the arrest is unjustified, resisting arrest will only complicate the situation. To avoid injury when encountering law enforcement, comply with their lawful orders. Be respectful to law enforcement saying “Yes sir, or No sir” or “Yes Ma’am or No Ma’am” this will make your encounter with law enforcement much safer for you and them.

It is beyond sad the amount of violence that is occurring in black communities like there is in Chicago. Very strict gun laws in Chicago, but still horrific amounts of shootings mostly of what you would think of as being innocents. Why isn’t Black Lives Matter protesting this far greater threat to black lives? I suspect it is because the police are a much easier target; whereas if they protested violence in their own communities, it is likely they would be exposed to being shot. I hope and pray that BLM will change their focus to the greater threat of black on black violence.

Regardless of how we may feel about BLM does God care about all lives? Do all lives matter to God? The answer to that question is a resounding YES! Yes, God cares about all peoples. God so loved “the world” that Jesus suffered and died on the cross that we might have a Savior. It is the command of Jesus that He be lifted up so that “all peoples” may be drawn to Him. During this difficult time with so much violence and so much terrorism across the world what are we to do? Let us lift up Jesus, so that the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6) may draw “all peoples” to Him and still the waters (Mark 4:39) with His peace.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2011

07.15.16

Until Jesus Returns

Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’” - Luke 19:12-13.

With the rise of the Islamic world, and with the current instability in the Middle East, we see the rapid approach of the conditions necessary for the End Times as described in the Bible to become reality. With Islam, we see a radical, violent, religion that desires, and demands that all of the world become Islamic. With Islam, we see a religion that believes that their 12th Imam (The Mahdi) will only come onto the scene through destruction and chaos. The Islamic 12th Imam as currently described by Islamic leaders, has similar characteristics to the antichrist described in the Book of Revelation. It appears that there is very little standing in the way to prevent the beginning of the seven years of tribulation.

The United States and Israel are the primary things holding back the Islamic tide. However, the United States is rapidly being neutralized in regard to support for Israel. It also appears that our liberal courts are making it easier for the implementation of Sharia law in the United States.

It is only a matter of time before Israel is attacked by the Islamic countries that surround the country, and by other countries that hate them. It may even be a coalition of the willing sanctioned by the United Nations. When that attack occurs it will be devastating for those countries attacking Israel. When that devastating attack occurs; it will trigger, I believe, the rapture (Which could occur, and I hope occurs, prior to the attack.), and the seven years of tribulation. With that in mind, I want to address what we as believers should be doing between now, and when these events occur.

First, we should be increasing in maturity as believers, becoming more and more like Jesus. We are told this in 2 Peter 3:11-12, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” In 2 Peter 3:14 we are told “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”

Second, we are to evangelize the lost. Before Jesus ascended to heaven He told His disciples their priorities in Acts 1:6-8, “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’” Jesus made it clear that they were, and we are, to be His witnesses.

Third, we are to encourage other believers. In Hebrews 10:24-25 we are told, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.’”

It is easy with all of the horrible things happening, and the prospect of terror attacks in our own countries, to just throw up our hands, and think what is the use of doing anything? We must not lose sight of our Lord's instructions. The precise timing of the Lord's return is not important, although His return is closer than ever before. What really counts is taking as many people to heaven with us as we possibly can. What should you be doing when He returns? Where should you be when the trumpet sounds, when the archangel shouts, when in a twinkling of an eye we are changed, and rise into the clouds to meet Him?

What has the Lord given you to do? Do that. Do business until He returns.

(Here is a link to a page with much more information about the Anti-Christ i.e. the 12th Imam or Mahdi: http://www.666soon.com/antichrist_and_the_12th_imam_or_.htm)

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.13.16

No Other Name

And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:5-12 NKJV.

There is a new law in Russia that essentially outlaws the sharing of your faith whatever that faith may be. The Barnabus Fund which helps persecuted Christians across the world has this to say about the new law: “The new law will require any sharing of the Christian faith, even a casual conversation, to have prior authorization from the state. This includes something as basic as an emailed invitation for a friend to attend church. Even in a private home, worship and prayer will only be allowed if there are no unbelievers present. Churches will also be held accountable for the activities of their members. So if, for example, a church member mentions their faith in conversation with a work colleague, not only the church member but also the church itself could be punished, with individuals facing fines of up to 50,000 rubles ($770).”

The new law was promoted by Putin as being needed to protect against terrorism according to a report by Radio Free Europe. Radio Free Europe also reported the law: “boosts state access to private communications, requiring telecom companies to store all telephone conversations, text messages, videos, and picture messages for six months and make this data available to the authorities. Encrypted programs must provide authorities a key, and the law also increases the number of crimes that 14-year-olds can be prosecuted for and restricts the activity of religious preachers.” The law is in violation of International law and of the Russia’s own constitution; however, the law, any law, doesn’t seem to matter to dictators. (WND 07.07.16 Many thanks to World News Daily for this article!)

In the United States, and in other free countries we are seeing a creeping constriction of religious freedoms. What once was considered preaching the Word of God i.e. the Bible, is now seen by many as hate speech. There are those who are continually trying to constrict the ability of pastors to interpret the Bible according to how they are led by the Spirit. New laws are continually being proposed that would bring the United States closer to that of Russia’s now control, or attempted control, of any religious conversations.

In Acts 4 after the healing of the lame man, Peter and John were confronted with whether or not to bow to the commands of the Sanhedrin, “So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18).” Peter and John are not afraid of the Sanhedrin which could have severely punished them. Instead of bowing to the will of man, Peter and John make it very clear what they intend to do: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:19b-20).” After their release they pray, “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word (Acts 4:29).”

What will the Christians in Russia do? Will they continue to share their faith, or will they bow to the will of Putin? I suspect that they will continue to cautiously share their faith when they have the opportunity, even with the risk of the legal penalties. How will those of us who live in other countries respond when our religious liberties are restrained? Will we have the courage to stand up for our faith? Will we have the courage to preach as did Peter that there is salvation in no other name than that of Jesus Christ of Nazareth; and that, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved?”

In the United States, we still have freedom to speak of our faith, and to assemble to together to worship our God. Sadly, even though we have those freedoms, the vast majority of believers rarely exercise them; especially in the sharing our faith with another person. We can change the course of history by rising up in the name of Jesus, and speaking boldly of our faith, as did Peter and John. Will you do it? I think your God would like an answer.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

07.12.16

Cleaning Up the Mess

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in - The Amplified Bible). - Matthew 6:22-24 NKJV.

“Mackerel in the Moonlight” is the title of a book published in 2004. There is also a book, “Mackerel by Moonlight” published in 1998; both books are about corruption in politics. I heard about the book while I was watching a news program at the time and the newscasters were wondering why it was called that; the weatherman said it sounded better than, “Flounder in the Floodlight!” The statement “Mackerel in the Moonlight” was once used by a politician in describing corruption. He used it that way because a Mackerel laying on the shore in the moonlight would appear to be glimmering and shiny, but upon closer examination you would find that it was rotting and smelled.

We look around at this world we live in, and we can see many of those Mackerels in the Moonlight. There are a vast number of those Mackerels in the political world with so many politicians willing say anything and do anything to be elected without any intention of actually doing what they have promised. However, it is not just the political world that abounds with Mackerels, because nearly every area of life from business to personal has a share of Mackerels in the Moonlight.

One psychological study I read about claimed that living in the American society caused mental illness. It was based upon studying people who moved from Mexico to the United States. Our way of life in the United States appears to be great, but there are some of the Mackerels lying around. There is so much of the material world that is available for purchase. To keep up with your neighbors you need to have a new car or two. Your clothes need to look nice, and it may be that you will need a new house to keep up with your friends. The pressure is on! You need to make more and more to buy more and more. And, if you can’t make more and more then you feel worse and worse.

Jesus brings this to a very personal level when He says, “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” If your conscience goes bad you will become like a rotting, stinking fish. Because when our master is “mammon” we continually choose whatever it takes to get more of what the world has to offer. As a result, our “light” grows dimmer and dimmer until we become like that proverbial, “Mackerel in the Moonlight.” You may look good on the outside to your friends and neighbors, but inside if your master is “mammon” you will become a rotten, stinking mess.

If you read this, and know that God is speaking to you about your life, the good news is that it is not too late to change. Your “light” has not become too dim to be convicted of your need for a new master, and now is the time to change. Put God first (Matthew 6:33) in your life, and make Him your master in every area of your life, because that is the only way to clean up the mess. It is also the only way for a country with a mackerel problem to be cleaned up.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2006

07.04.16

Be a Patriot

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance. - Psalm 33:12.

With the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, we saw a vivid exhibition of bravery and patriotism (This was written July 5, 2006 a day after the 2nd return to flight mission after the Columbia disaster.). Everyone knows since the disasters of the failed Challenger launch and the failed reentry of Columbia that the launch or the reentry of a space shuttle is not a sure thing. Watching the astronauts, we know that it could be the last moments of their lives. They also know very well that their lives could be extinguished in only a few short minutes or in a few short days with a failed reentry. It is a necessary bravery since the space shuttle program must continue for several more years. It is vital for the space exploration program and for national security.

What is a patriot? The American Heritage Dictionary defines a patriot as, "One who loves, supports, and defends one’s country." It is obvious that the American shuttle astronauts love their country and demonstrated their patriotism in a very vivid way. Are you a patriot? Are you a person who loves, supports, and defends your country? If so, how do you do it? The Psalmist points out a vital aspect of being patriotic. The Psalmist says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD."

In the United States, we like to think of our country as the greatest, richest, and most powerful country in all of history. However, we are a young nation compared to the Roman Empire and Chinese dynasties. We do live in a great and powerful country but at the same time, it is a very fragile and vulnerable country. We know that it is true, don’t we? Two airliners captured and flown into the World Trade Center not only killed 3,000 people - the attack also drastically injured the economy of this country. We can only shudder to think of the consequences if Flight 93 had actually succeeded in hitting the Capitol building. We know the enemies of this country are hard at work trying to find a way to hit us again and to hit us harder the next time. Our ports are vulnerable and even one major port shut down for an extended period could cripple our economy. North Korea has gone nuclear and may have a missile capable of even hitting the middle of this country. Iran will soon have a nuclear bomb and they have long been sharing information with North Korea about missile technology.

Beyond the political and terrorist enemies of this country, there are other concerns as well. Hurricane Katrina last year should have been a wake up call about the fragility of our country. It is already hurricane season again and New Orleans is probably not much safer than it was last year. But it is not just hurricanes is it? Fires have become an increasing problem. Tornadoes appear to be increasing their range into many other states. Earthquake scientists still believe a big one could occur at anytime in San Francisco or Los Angeles or anywhere along the major fault lines.

Some of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded did not occur in California. The New Madrid Seismic zone lies within the central Mississippi Valley, extending from northeast Arkansas, through southeast Missouri, western Tennessee, western Kentucky to southern Illinois. Between 1811 and 1812, four catastrophic earthquakes, with magnitude estimates greater than 7.0, occurred during a three-month period. The earthquakes may have been of a magnitude eight or greater. New Madrid, Missouri was the epicenter. Survivors reported that the earthquakes caused cracks to open in the earth's surface, the ground to roll in visible waves, and large areas of land to sink or rise. Damage was reported as far away as Charleston, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. What are the chances of that happening again? Scientists give it a 90% probability by the year 2040.

Do you understand, comprehend, how fragile our country really is? If you do, it ought to make a difference in how you live your life because we really do need the blessing and protection of God upon this country. Only through God can we find safety and protection. In light of our need of God, here are some ways you can be a true patriot and demonstrate in active ways your love of God and love of country:

Every time you come to church it is not only an act of obedience to your God, it is also an act of patriotism.

Every time you pray it is not only an act of obedience to your God, it is also an act of patriotism.

Every time you read your Bible it is not only an act of obedience to your God, it is also an act of patriotism.

Every time you witness to someone it is not only an act of obedience to your God, it is also an act of patriotism.

Every time you are kind to someone it is not only an act of obedience to your God, it is also an act of patriotism.

Every time you tithe it is not only an act of obedience to your God, it is also an act of patriotism.

Every time you say "NO” to evil and "YES” to God, it is not only an act of obedience to your God, it is also an act of patriotism.

The Psalmist says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance (Psalm 33:12." Let us make God again, the God of this country by living for Him.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

06.30.16

A New Life

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV.

Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.” – 1 John 3:7 NKJV.

We remember the horrific crash of two passenger trains in west London near Paddington Station in 1999. Karl Hackett watched the crash, and saw it as an opportunity to start another life under an assumed identity. Pretending to be his supervisor, he called an emergency line and reported himself missing. Just to be sure, he called again posing as his brother, and again reported himself missing. His family attended a memorial service at the site of the train crash believing he had perished, and the body was unrecoverable. However, Hackett’s new life did not work out quite as he had hoped, and he was given a five month suspended sentence for his deception. His attorney, Michael Ivers, said at that time: “His employment in the field of computer graphics has come to an end. He is now effectively humiliated in terms of his employment.”

Many others have tried similar deceptions in order to gain a new life. In the United States in January of this year (2009), Marcus Schrenker, attempted to fake his death by reporting problems aboard the plane he was piloting. He reported that he was bleeding profusely after receiving injuries during severe turbulence; then while leaving the plane on autopilot, he parachuted to safety. The plane crashed, but the pilots of the military jets that intercepted the plane saw that the door was ajar, and that the cockpit was dark prior to the crash. The plan was for the plane to crash at sea, but it crashed on land, and there was not any sign of blood in the wreckage. Schrenker had hoped to leave behind the financial fraud that he had perpetrated; but he has been arrested, and will be forced to face trial, and receive punishment for his crimes. It seems that eventually it always fails, and it is never quite what they had hoped. However, we do not have to assume someone else’s identity in order to have a new life. No, we can be “born again.” By receiving Jesus as our Savior, we will become a “new creation” and “old things” will have “passed away.” We will also receive a “new name.” Revelation 2:17 tells us “and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written no one knows except him who receives it.”

Sometimes we may not feel like we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). That is because we are designed for a new heaven and a new earth. Our citizenship was transferred from earth to Heaven at the moment that we received Christ Jesus as our Savior, and we were “born again.” Until we actually arrive in our Heavenly home, we are “ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)” here on earth to share with others the joy and hope of the new life. Contemplate the fact that you are a representative of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. It may not always feel like such a wonderful thing at the present time when we sometimes suffer for our faith, but consider what the apostle Paul says about this time while we are still on earth, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.29.16

What is the Problem?

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

So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” - Genesis 4:8 NKJV.

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. – James 4:7-8 NKJV.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. – Romans 8:5-6 NKJV.

33-year-old James Jenkins led sheriff’s deputies on a wild high speed chase in Florida. In an attempt to lose the deputies, Jenkins went off the road, crashed through hay bales, and his vehicle went airborne several times until the car died from the damage. But Jenkins wasn’t finished, he jumped out of the vehicle holding a large beer can, and ran toward some trees. Not only did his car come to a stop from the damage from the chase, but Jenkins also came to a stop from the damage to his face when he crashed into a tree, which allowed deputies to arrest him.

During the entire chase there was a child in a car seat in the back seat of the vehicle. The child told deputies that he had been holding onto his car seat with all his might during the incident. Thankfully, the child was not injured. Jenkins was charged with several offenses including fleeing and eluding, resisting arrest, habitually driving under suspension, and this is a surprise: child neglect. Oh, almost forgot, he was also charged for the open can of beer in the vehicle. (Palm Beach Post 06.17.16; Crestview News Bulletin 06.15.16)

Jenkins is not the only one doing something stupid. Sonja Farak in Massachusetts got herself into some trouble. She had been the state crime lab chemist, but was fired in 2013 after being employed by the crime lab since 2005. What was she doing? She admitted to being high on illegal substances every day while working for the lab. Here are some of the drugs she admitted to using: meth, ketamine, ecstasy and LSD. (Washington Post 05.16.16)

In Calhan, Colorado, 38-year-old Robert Williams during an argument with his wife threatened his wife and daughter with a handgun. Williams told his daughter to get another firearm so they could have a duel. Williams then shot at his daughter who returned fire, but neither one were hit. While Williams went to find a shotgun, the wife and daughter fled to safety of a neighbor’s house where they called 911. Williams has been charged with felonies of menacing, prohibited use of a firearm, and child abuse. (Fox 31 06.02.16; KDVR Denver 06.02.16)

Then there is 26-year-old Prolancia Turner who was at an Outlet Mall in Vero Beach, Florida where she shoplifted at a Claire’s store. Turner walked out of the store with earrings hidden in her clothing. Turner was angry and crying about being arrested because…she said, “Everyone steals from this store. Why are you picking on me?” (Smoking Gun 05.19.16)

What in the world is wrong with people? Why do people do such obviously wrong things? What is the problem? The problem is simple. The problem is SIN! Sin = Death, because the wages of sin will always be death. Sin will always bring bad things into your life. Sin will always hurt you, and sin will always seek to destroy you. As the Lord said to Cain, “And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you.” Sin lies in wait at your door too; its desire is for you, to devour you and all that is good in your life.

Having identified the problem, what is the solution? The solution to the age old sin problem is still the same. Obedience to your God. Cain rejected that solution, but you do not have to follow in Cain’s steps. You do not have to do one stupid thing after another destroying your life, and the lives of those around you. The solution to the sin problem is to do as the Bible says “submit to God.” If you will “draw near to God,” “He will draw near to you.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

06.27.16

Are You Sinking?

So he (the prophet Elijah) went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” - 1 Kings 17:5-9.

O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. - Psalm 6:31.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. - Hebrews 11:6.

What would you do if you were out on a boat fishing and your boat was sinking? Would you keep on fishing until your boat was underwater; or would you stop fishing, and return to shore if possible? In Escambia County, Florida, four people were out fishing on a pontoon boat, and continued fishing, even though the water was washing over the pontoons. Florida Fish and Wildlife received a report from the public about a boat sinking, and they sent officers out to check out the report. It was true, the boat was sinking, and the people onboard seemed to be oblivious to their dangerous situation continuing to enjoy fishing.

The officers ordered the pontoon boat to return to shore, and once on shore, they discovered that holes had been drilled in the pontoons to drain water. However, the plugs used to seal the holes were not waterproof or watertight. When asked if he was aware of the boat’s condition prior to being contacted by Florida Fish and Wildlife officers, the operator said, “The boat was dragging a bit on the way out.”

If you are on a boat that is sinking it may be time to abandon ship, or to at least consider calling for help. If your employment comes to an end, action is needed. You need to consider your options. Elijah the great prophet of the Old Testament was being obedient to the will of God when he went to the Brook Cherith. There at the brook was water, and God sent ravens to bring the prophet food. It is vital to see that even though Elijah was obedient to God; and in God’s will for his life, eventually the brook still dried up.

When someone loses their employment, or some other bad thing happens, it does not necessarily mean that they have been living outside of God’s will. It does often indicate that a change of direction may be needed. Elijah could no longer remain at the brook, and God told him where to go next. God told Elijah to, “Arise, go to Zarephath.” It was a place that was suffering from the drought that was upon the land so it might not have been Elijah’s first choice; and in addition, the widow he was to stay with was almost out of food. Elijah chose to obey, and God continued to supernaturally provide for his needs and for the needs of the widow and her son.

When your boat is sinking the time for fishing is over. It is time to call for help. When the boat carrying Jesus and His disciples was sinking in a storm (Matthew 4:35-41), the disciples knew what to do. They woke up Jesus and Jesus calmed the storm with three words, “Peace, be still!”

Whatever storm that your boat may be sinking in, whether it is a storm of sin, or a storm caused by the loss of employment, or something else - the solution is still the same. Seek the Lord and follow Him (Matthew 7:7-8; Hebrews 11:6).

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2004

06.25.16

Stand Firm

So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: "King Darius, live forever! All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. - Daniel 6:6-7.

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. And they went before the king, andspoke concerning the kings's decree: "Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?" The king answered and said, "The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter." - Daniel 6:10-12.

In the little Orange County, California school district of Westminister an unusual thing happen during the spring. What was that strange thing? Westminister was the only school district out of 1,056 in California to reject and fail to apply a law. The law would allow students and the staff to define whether they are male or female. Three trustees of five on the Westminister school board voted that this law violates their Christian principles. If the law were to be placed into effect, the trustees are concerned it would lead to cross-dressing, and also problems with who would be permitted in which bathroom. The trustees say that this would promote a transsexual agenda. (Researching this story, I was unable to find the current status of the situation.)

The trustees of Westminister risked losing a large amount of state funding by holding to their decision. What courage they have had in standing firm to their view of what God would have them to do. Such courage is certainly rare in the age in which we live. How long before such laws are forced upon school districts across all of the United States? It will happen if more godly principled people do not stand up for what is right.

Their stand for what is right reminded me of Daniel who risked more than money to do the right thing. The law was passed making it illegal to pray to any god or man except the king for 30 days. The penalty for failure to obey the law was to be placed into a lion’s den, which meant that for all practical purposes it would be a death sentence. Daniel knew this and still he went home and prayed like he always did. He left his window open so his enemies could see he was praying to his God as he always did. As a result, Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den. However, God intervened and sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions. It must have been a shock to the enemies of Daniel when he rose alive out of the den!

We too must stand for what is right or we will be overrun by the evil of this world. It will be risky and even dangerous at times to do so as many across this world know so very well. The apostle Paul gives us the battle cry for Christians in the 21st Century, "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."

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.23.16

The Music of Silence

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah – Psalm 46:10-11 NKJV.

In 1952, John Cage composed “4’33”. If you had the sheet music, or musical score for this “music” it would consist entirely of rests. There was no music, only silence. Cage defended his non-music by saying that he wanted to focus on the space between the notes i.e. silence. There is an actual YouTube video with soloist John Marx performing “4’33”. The soloist sits at the grand piano, adjusts the music, and then closes the keylid, or keyboard cover. The silence is deafening! I do like a quote of ohn Cage as he says, “Everything you do is music.”

Have you noticed how hard it is to escape noise? I can remember when I was a boy living on a farm there was no way at times to escape the silence. When I left my career as a parole officer to become a pastor of a small rural church, one of the hardest things to adjust to was the silence. Going from having a very busy life with constant interactions with others to only having a few opportunities each day to visit with people was a shock. I learned to adjust, listening more for God’s small still voice. I talked with God for hours and hours. Instead of doing things, effecting change in the physical world, by physical means; my focus was changed to effecting change, moving mountains by spiritual means.

Psalm 46 begins in this way, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah (Psalm 46:1-3 NKJV).” A continuing problem for the Israelites was making allies with pagan nations and relying on military strength for their security. The Psalmist urges his listeners to “be still” and consider “God.” “Be still” and remember the awesome works of the One true God who alone is worthy to be praised. God, the Psalmist says is where you will find your help in trouble, God is the one who will give you the refuge you seek.

When you are still before God, when you seek Him in silence, it may not sound like anything to you. However, to God your stillness before Him is a beautiful piece of music which you are performing in His presence. Be still!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

06.22.16

Impostors

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:18-23 NKJV.

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. - 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 NKJV.

Mark Rimkufski arrived a little late for his flight on American Airlines Flight 299 to Los Angeles, which was departing from Miami International Airport. The plane had not yet taken off, however, the gate had closed and the plane was departing. Mark had an idea though; he would use his "Fisher Island Chief of Police" badge that he had in his pocket. He showed airline employees the badge saying that he was an air marshal, and the plane was stopped so that he could board. There was one small glitch in his plan, as there were some real air marshals on board who examined his badge and kicked him off the plane. The impostor, Mark Rimkufski aka Harry Henry Rimm, has been charged by Miami police with impersonating a law enforcement officer, and he also will be charged federally with the impersonation of an air marshal. So, if you were thinking that you would buy an old police badge on eBay so you could use it the next time you arrive late for your flight, you might want to rethink that.

In Chicago, a 14-year-old boy bought a police officer’s uniform and showed up at a police station, and was given an assignment with an actual officer. It was only after their patrol ended that the real officer noticed the boy’s uniform was not quite regulation. The boy has been charged with impersonating an officer.

The 14-year-old boy and the air marshal impostor are only two of a huge number of people who present themselves to others as someone other than who they really are. It is likely that you know some of these impostors personally. The apostle John describes one type of impostor as those who present themselves as being Christians, but really are not; and eventually those impostors are revealed when they begin living as non-Christians live.

The Antichrist, who will be the greatest impostor of all, will soon come upon the world scene. All impostors have at least one thing in common, they are liars. The air marshal impersonator and the police officer impersonator were both liars; if not by their words, by their actions. Those lost people who claim to be Christians are liars too.

When the Antichrist appears, he will perform miracles through demonic power. He will be able to make people believe lie after lie through that same demonic power, and he will eventually claim to be God, and demand the people worship him. However, the apostle John pointed out that many people even then already had the spirit of the Antichrist, and how much more so now. Watch out for those impostors with the spirit of Antichrist who are able to make many believe their lies, especially when their lies are obvious and blatant. Are there any leaders like this in the world today? As the apostle John says, "Little children, it is the last hour."

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.21.16

Lost

Let my soul live, and it shall praise You; and let Your judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments. – Psalm 119:175-176 NKJV.

Return, you backsliding children, And I will heal your backslidings. – Jeremiah 3:22 NKJV.

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. – Matthew 18:11 NKJV.

A man and a woman on their way from Baltimore to New York became lost during their drive. Somehow they turned onto an access road of the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, and things went downhill from there. When they arrived at a locked gate preventing entry to a sensitive area, why didn’t they just turn around? No, they did not turn around. Instead, the man apparently used a bolt cutter he just happened to have in his car to cut the chain which secured the gate. After the couple was arrested they claimed not to have seen the two “No Trespassing” signs on the gate. Both the man and the woman were arrested for trespassing; and when they were searched, the woman was found to have a small metal pipe which smelled of marijuana. The woman was also charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance. A spokesperson for the Atomic Power Station assured the public that the couple had been under surveillance the entire time. She also said there were several layers of security preventing entry into the most sensitive areas of the power station. (York Daily Record 05.29.16)

I have gotten “lost” a few times while driving, and one time I was so lost that I actually bought a map to find my location. I guess I could have asked someone for directions, but that would have been admitting failure violating the unwritten code of manhood to never ever ask for directions. Okay, I will confess, I have asked for directions a couple of times. However, I have never been so lost as to whip out my bolt cutters and cut the chain on a gate with two “No Trespassing” signs barring the way to a nuclear power plant. Of course, I have never been smoking pot while I was driving either. What kind of people are these? I do have some bolt cutters that are in my farm pickup, but I have never seen a need to carry bolt cutters around in my car.

Are you lost? There are at least three ways that we may in some way be lost on a spiritual level. The worst kind of lostness is to not know Jesus as your Savior. Jesus came to seek and to save you (Matthew 18:11). In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, “Behold, I 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.” Jesus is addressing Revelation 3:20 to the members of the congregation at Laodicea; however, the context and terminology suggest that most were not authentic believers being without a saving knowledge of Jesus as their Savior. Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart and He wants to come in, will you let Him?

Another way we can be lost is that after we have come to know Jesus as our Savior, we then turn away at some point. The Old Testament speaks of this as “backsliding” (mentioned in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea) in KJV or of choosing your own “willful ways” in the NIV. This is addressed in 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” A false claim of the critics of the apostle John was that believers are without sin, unable to sin. John makes it clear that this is not true and he gives us the solution to this form of lostness in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If you have chosen your own “willful ways” instead of God’s will, now is the time to confess those sins to the Lord.

A third way of being lost is when we have a broken spirit. Psalm 119:176 says, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says this about Psalm 119:175-176, “The last verse of the psalm is a cry from a broken spirit, not a confession of apostasy. The psalmist feels helpless, like a ‘lost sheep,’ and cries to his Good Shepherd to ‘seek’ him, for he has not neglected God or His word.” What is the solution to being lost? For all three types of lostness we just need Jesus. We must look 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 12:2).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

06.17.16

The Legacy

For the perverse person is an abomination to the Lord, but His secret counsel is with the upright. The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just. Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble. The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools. - Proverbs 3:32-35 NKJV.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. - Proverbs 13:22 NKJV.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. - 1 Peter 1:3-4 NKJV.

When a surveillance video was broadcast by the police in Edmond, Oklahoma of a bank robbery suspect, Michael Siany recognized the suspect. Michael who is majoring in Criminal Justice at the University of Central Oklahoma recognized the man in the video. It was his Dad! David Siany, 51-years-old, robbed two banks in Oklahoma in January 2009. They were not David’s first bank robberies, he had already been to prison for the unarmed robbery of three banks in Minnesota and Oklahoma and for planning the robbery of a bank in Texas back in 2000.

Michael said after seeing his Father on the surveillance video, “I sat there for about an hour, thinking about what I should do. A lot of things went through my mind, but I knew the right thing to do.” Michael said this about how his Father got into bank robbing, “My father used to love spending time at the racetrack, and he got into debt. He just got into more and more debt. He needed money quickly, and that was the quickest way to get out of debt. I'm sure he's a good person somewhere down in there, but for some reason he does these bad things.” David Siany has been estranged from his family and Michael’s mother had to raise her two sons on her own.

David Siany has left a legacy of example for his children and grandchildren. David Siany’s legacy is one of irresponsibility toward his family by gambling away the money that his family needed. His legacy also includes an example of handling the result of his gambling, and debt, in the wrong way. Instead of facing up to the consequences of his gambling, David compounded the problem by robbing banks, which has resulted in his going to prison; and it will likely cause his being a guest of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections sometime soon in the future.

I like the slogan of Oklahoma’s media campaign against tobacco. The slogan is “Tobacco stops with me.” My Dad smoked until he was about fifty years old, but he stopped smoking one day and never smoked again until he passed away at the age of 84. I smoked some in junior high and high school, but never really developed the habit. When I was a boy I looked forward to the day when I would be able to smoke like my Dad.

My Mother told me once that my Dad was a closet alcoholic, although I never saw what I thought was alcoholic behavior. Maybe he was, I do not know for sure, but because of his example I did not see anything wrong with drinking. I did drink some in high school, in college and during my first months in the oilfield. On my knees before God one night in a motel room I stopped drinking and it has now been decades since I have had a drink. So far tobacco and drinking in my family has stopped with me. Thankfully, David Siany’s son has apparently decided that his Father’s gambling and unlawful actions will not be a legacy that he leaves to his own children.

Prayerfully, the legacy that I leave to my descendants will be a legacy of righteousness because my true inheritance, and theirs is the Lord Jesus Christ which is “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven” for us.

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.16.16

Always Ready

Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. – 1 Timothy 6:18 NKJV.

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. – 2 Timothy 4:2 NKJV.

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work. – Titus 3:5 NKJV.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. – 1 Peter 3:15 NKJV.

What is it about brides? Brides seem to have superhuman courage, at least some of them do. Maybe there needs to be a new TV series, call it: Brides to the Rescue. Sarah Ray on her wedding day, still in her wedding dress; who is also a paramedic, headed to the scene of an accident. Georgette Clemons as she was leaving her wedding reception, still in her wedding gown, saw smoke coming from a house. Georgette sprang into action wedding dress and all, rescuing the family.

Just this month another bride who had just said her wedding vows performed CPR on an unconscious woman without a pulse. Julie Stroyne Nixion is a trauma nurse, and as she was leaving the wedding reception she heard someone scream, “Does anybody know CPR? Is anybody a doctor?” Darlene Limpert who witnessed the bride in action said, “She didn’t hesitate for a second.” Julie’s new husband said about his bride, “It was a heroic act. I’m not surprised. I’ve known her a long time.” Thankfully, Julie was able to revive the unconscious woman. Hurray for the brides!! (Pittsburgh’s Observer-Reporter 06.13.16; Huffington Post 06.15.16)

The one thing that all three of these brides had in common besides being brides, is that they were ready. They were ready to take on the unexpected, even risking their own lives as Georgette did. These brides were ready to sacrifice their own special moment in life celebrating on their wedding day, to render aid others needed. The immediate thoughts of these brides were not about whether their wedding dress would be ruined, or if they might break a fingernail. The thoughts of these brides were not about themselves, as they jumped into action.

Readiness for action is a desired characteristic for the child of God. We must be ready spiritually “…for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:44).” We ought to also be ready to die for the faith, if called upon to do so, as was the apostle Paul, “For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 21:13 – See also Revelation 12:11).” We are to be “…rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share (1 Timothy 6:18).” We are to “Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching (2 Timothy 4:2).” We should “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).” To sum up the broad scope of the need for readiness believers should have, we are told in Titus 3:5, “…to be ready for every good work.” Are you ready?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

06.15.16

Near Miss 2009 DD45

I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. - Revelation 6:12-14.

…you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. - James 4:14.

We had a close call on Monday with the near miss of asteroid 2009 DD45. The asteroid was small only about 200 feet wide, but it did come within 40,000 miles of the earth about 1/7 of the distance from the earth to the moon. A slightly larger asteroid in 1908 caused the damage equivalent to a hydrogen bomb 1000 times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The Tunguska explosion was the result of the meteor or comet exploding in the air over Siberia devastating 830 square miles of forest. The accompanying earthquake is estimated to have been 5.0 on the Richter scale. Of course, 2009 DD45 could have hit nearly anywhere on the globe. An asteroid exploding over New York City or London would obliterate those cities and large areas around them.

Only a few weeks ago a much smaller meteorite did come to a fiery end in Texas. No one knew the meteorite was headed for the earth and at first no one knew that it was a meteorite as several other explanations for the event were suggested. Apparently there have been and will be frequent near misses from NEOs, Near Earth Objects. It has only been a recent development that scientists and governments have become concerned about these NEOs. Even now there are only a very few astronomers searching the skies for these things. 2009 DD45 was only found a short time before the near miss.

Have you ever wondered how the events described in Revelation during the Tribulation period will actually come about? The statement by John the revelator that "the stars of heaven fell to the earth…" is more easily understood in light of the potential damage that one small NEO can cause. Several NEOs hitting the earth in a short period of time would cause immeasurably catastrophic damage.

What if 2009 DD45 had suddenly hit where you live this past Monday? Would you have been ready meet the Lord face to face? Were you as the saying goes "all prayed up" this past Monday? The danger that we face from just natural phenomenon much less all the man made dangers is unimaginable.

Vince Gill sings a song called, "All Prayed Up." One line that repeats throughout is, "I’m all prayed up, I’m ready to meet my Savior." Are you all prayed up? Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior? Have you asked Him to come into your heart and forgive your sins? If not, now would probably be a good time to do that. If you know Jesus as your Savior, do you have any unconfessed sins? If so, the apostle John tells us what to do, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)." Are you all prayed up and ready to go? If not, you ought to be because "you do not know what will happen tomorrow," and "what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.14.16

Do the Right Thing

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. - 1 Peter 4:1-3 NKJV.

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. – 1 Peter 4:12-16 NKJV.

Five elementary school children are heroes in West Fargo, North Dakota. The kids were having a fun day with a water-gun fight armed with super soakers when they saw a fire on an apartment’s deck. These heroes immediately took action, letting the resident of the apartment know about the fire, who was unable to leave because of being on oxygen. The five children then began dousing the fire with their super soaker water guns. By the time the fire department arrived they had reduced the fire to just a smoldering mess. The West Fargo Fire Chief Daniel Fuller believes the kids saved the building from extensive damage and likely saved the life of the person living in the apartment. (Inforum 05.31.16)

Doing the right thing at the right time has always been a difference maker. Esther immediately comes to mind (Esther 4) as her Uncle Mordecai says to Esther, “who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Through Esther’s courageous action her people escaped extermination. The shepherd boy David saw the giant Goliath taunting the Hebrew army and could have kept on herding his father’s sheep. Instead, David faced death at the hands of the giant with only his slingshot and was victorious empowered by His God. Daniel and his friends faced death more than once by doing the right thing. They refused the king’s rich food, they refused to bow to idols, and God protected and blessed them. So, many of the heroes of the Bible are heroes of the faith; because they did the right thing at the right time, risking their lives to do so.

How can we have the courage to do the right thing at the right time? The apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:1, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind….” To do the right thing at the right time we must arm ourselves with the mind of Christ. How do we do that? To know what someone’s mind is like, so much so that we act as they would act, we have to spend time with them. To have the mind of Christ, we must spend time with Him through prayer, reading His Word, spending time with His people, and by following Him (Luke 9:23). Do you have the mind of Christ?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

06.13.16

Fear Not

In view of the terror attack in Orlando, Florida, which has served to stir more fear among the peace loving people of this world, I am resending this devotional. Please pray for all of those who have lost loved ones and for those who are injured. Pray for our God to defeat these forces of evil.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills - from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. - Psalm 121:1-2 NKJV.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” - Psalm 91:1-2 NKJV.

If you live in the UK you need to watch out for…biscuits. Those dangerous little things have been on a rampage! According to one survey one-half of all Britons have received injuries from their biscuits. It is thought that 25 million of them have been hurt eating a biscuit while having some tea or coffee. 500 people have received injuries severe enough to send them to the hospital. Something called the “Biscuit Injury Threat Evaluation” identified the custard cream biscuit as the most dangerous. One third of the injuries resulted from hot liquid being splashed on the person when they dunked their biscuit. About ten percent of the injuries were from teeth being broken while attempting to consume the things. Some of the injuries were caused by poking themselves in the eye with the biscuit and last but not least was the animal threat. Seven percent of the injuries occurred when a pet or some other animal attempted to take the person's biscuit.

We live in a dangerous world where even things as innocent and innocuous as a biscuit can send you to a hospital. Some people develop what is called agoraphobia, and they are afraid to leave their homes. Although as seen with the biscuit problem, even in your home it can be dangerous. A large percentage of the falls that cause broken bones occur in the home. It's enough to make you just stay in bed all the time. However, I have heard that even beds can be dangerous. In our modern world with rapidly advancing technology and rapid development of all types of dangerous chemicals, food additives, electronic pollution, microwaves and on and on it is impossible to plan for all the possible threats.

Then there is the weather. April 14, 1935 is known as Black Sunday, because of the dust storm to end all dust storms, which occurred that day in Middle America blotting out the sun. Before that there were the grasshoppers of July 26, 1931, which blacked out the sun destroying vast areas of crops in Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. There are tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes, tsunamis, and typhoons. How has mankind survived all of these years in this dangerous place?

The Psalmist knew that he needed help from a power beyond this world to survive, and we do too. The Psalmist's help came from the Lord God, and that is where we will find the help we need in these even more dangerous times. There is a supernatural refuge, a supernatural fortress that is available to those who seek it. It is found in the “shadow of the Almighty.” Under His protection we can walk without fear out into this world even though danger from the smallest biscuit to the largest tornado may stalk us. Through His power, we can as David says in the 23rd Psalm, “Fear no evil” even if we may “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Whenever you experience fear immediately turn to God in prayer. Ask Him to give you peace. Even in the midst of a natural storm, a storm of problems, or a storm of emotions He promises to give you peace “which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).” Begin every day asking for His protection, for His peace, for yourself and your loved ones because God loves His children. As the apostle Paul puts it, “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 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 8:37 -39).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

06.09.16

An Intolerant God

"Just as I determined to punish you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath," says the Lord of hosts, "and I would not relent, so again in these days I am determined to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear. These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate," says the Lord. - Zechariah 8:17.

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.

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.

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. - Hebrews 12:1.

We hear it more and more often that we must be tolerant. We are told we should be tolerant of alternative lifestyles and non-Christian religions. In the United States we appear to be headed toward court orders and legislative directives to enforce this tolerance. In Dunbar, West Virginia the First Baptist Church was having a "Haunted Hollow" at the Wine Cellar City Park. During a 45-minute tour short skits were performed demonstrating the hazards of sin. The church dropped one of the skits negative to homosexuality because of the complaints of some citizens. However, the Wiccans were still upset threatening to go to court because of what they called a negative portrayal of their religion (This all happened several years ago and the environment for Christians has continued to deteriorate.). It does appear to be proof that you cannot please everyone.

The fact is that our God is intolerant. The One True God is intolerant of homosexuality and witchcraft. But it is unfair to single those two sins out because our God is intolerant of all sins. Actually, God hates sin! "For all these things I hate, says the Lord." God hates sin so much that He "spared not His own Son (Romans 8:32)." What terrible thing caused God’s Son to die an excruciating death on that cruel, cold, Roman cross? It was sin! God hated sin so much that He sent this One who knew no sin to become sin for us. God knew that it was only through His Son, Jesus, that we might have Victory over this terrible disease of sin.

Yes, God loves us (John 3:16) but He still hates sin. As His children we love the sinners, but we too should hate the sin. We should hate the sin so much that we should oppose it at every turn (Matthew 5:13). We should hate sin so much that we tell others about God’s love of sinners and hate of sin (Matthew 5:14-16). We should hate sin so much that we "lay" it "aside" (Hebrews 12:1). We should hate the sin so much that when we sin, we immediately confess it to our Lord so that we may be forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.07.16

Questions

For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its root may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant. But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last and where is he? As water disappears from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dries up, so man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep. Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, that You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, that You would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? – Job 14:7-14 NKJV.

Have you ever wondered how many shakes it takes for a dog to dry? Apparently, some government scientist wondered the same thing and spent $390,000 to find out. However, the answer must be a secret, because I still cannot find the answer to that question. Have you ever wondered if you could out run a dinosaur? A government scientist also wanted the answer to that question, and spent $1.9 million to find out. Have you ever thought that Facebook might be addictive? Someone in the government, or was it Facebook wanted an answer to that and spent $511,860 to find out. I could have told them the answer to that one for free. Have you ever wondered which has more hairs, a squirrel or a bumble bee? Who thinks up these questions! The government spent $753,000 to find the answer to that one. Then there is the question of the ages, why is yawning contagious? I’ve wondered about that too, but I would not have spent $1,000,000 to try to find out!! These questions all came from Senator Jeff Flakes’ “20 Questions: Government Studies that will leave you scratching your head.” Okay, one more. Why does the face of Jesus appear on toast? I don’t know, but the government spent $3.5 million to try to find out.

Most would agree that Job experienced life at its worst. All of Job’s children were killed, and then the “fire of God” (Job 1:16) burned up his sheep and many of his servants. Next the Chaldeans came, and carried away all of Job’s camels and killed the rest of his servants, except for the one who escaped to share the bad news. If that was not enough, Job was afflicted then with sore boils (Job 2:7) all over his body. In addition, Job’s wife was not all that supportive either (Job 2:9). Perhaps even worse were his “friends” who were miserable counselors with a half-truth theology. W. A. Criswell says this about Job’s friends: “All three of Job’s friends have the same theology: Righteousness will be blessed, and evil will be punished. This is only a half truth. Ultimately, the wicked will be punished and the righteous rewarded, but in the meantime even righteous men will suffer because of sin, testing or the pressures of other men.”

Job has many questions for God, as we would have too, if we had been afflicted like that man. In Job 38 and 39 we have the longest list of questions in the Bible. Government scientists might want to consider some of those questions. We often hear of the “small still voice” of God (1 Kings 19:12). However, God has a different voice that God used to ask His questions of Job. “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind (Job 38:1).” That would get your attention!

God did not answer His own questions for Job, but Job did have the answer to the most important question of all: If a man dies, shall he live again (Job 14:14)? And the answer is found in Job 19:25-27: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009 Unprepared

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. …the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, PREPARED for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. - 2 Timothy 2:15; 19-22.

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 (PREPARE and equip - NLT) for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

In Colorado Springs, Colorado, they are considering imposing a fee on hikers who make it to the summit of Pikes Peak and then are unable to walk back down. Around fifteen thousand people climb or walk up the 12 miles to the top of Pikes Peak every year. One of those hikers last year in December made it to the summit after dark and then broke into the restaurant to keep from freezing to death. He was charged $500 for the ride back down and for the window he broke.

The Rocky Mountains in Colorado can be dangerous. One man reported that he had during his climbing and walking in the mountains experienced snow during every month of the year at one time or another. Pikes Peak has experienced deadly snow storms even in July. I have made it to the top of Pikes Peak twice. Once I was in a truck that my Dad was driving. He had helped a teacher move to Boulder from Oklahoma, and we did some sightseeing on the way back home. When my family was young I drove up to the top of the mountain during one of our vacations. Even for someone in reasonably good health just a hike up the road to the summit of the mountain would be a challenge. If you ran into an ice storm or a blizzard on the way up or down it would make the hike exponentially more difficult and hazardous. To make the climb up and down Pikes Peak successfully it will be necessary to do some planning and preparation.

The Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared" is a good motto for Christians too. When Baden-Powell the founder of scouting was asked what scouts should be prepared for he responded by saying, "Why for any old thing." Christians need to be prepared too. What do we need to be prepared for? We need to be prepared for everything that we may encounter in life. We do have an enemy and that enemy wants to destroy us (John 10:10a).

There is a story in the Old Testament in 1 Samuel 13 that illustrates that the enemy will try to make us unprepared. In an attempt to disarm the Israelites, the Philistines had cornered the market on blacksmiths and those who were capable of sharpening swords, knives, spears, and pitchforks. Just prior to battle nearly all of the weapons of the Israelites were in Philistine hands so that they could be sharpened. The scheme did not work because God kept it from working, but it is an example of what the enemy will attempt to do. The enemy will try to disarm you, make you ineffective, and unprepared for the battles that you will face in life.

Don’t be fooled! Instead be prepared. Study the Word of God, turn from being a vessel of dishonor, and be a worker who needs not be ashamed (Romans 1:16) - a vessel of honor.

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.03.16

Faithfulness

His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” – Matthew 25:21 NKJV.

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. – 1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV.

In 2004 at a pastor’s conference, I heard Pastor Paul Negrut from Romania preach. Negrut shared that there were 600 Baptist churches in Romania when communism collapsed, and 90% of those churches were without pastors. He talked about the first crusade that was held after the collapse of communism in Romania by Luis Palau. Negrut said that they started not to even go to the stadium where the crusade was being held; because it was pouring down rain, and they thought no one would come in the rain.

When Pastor Negrut arrived at the stadium where the crusade was being held, he said it was overflowing with people. Palau preached and he gave the invitation that if any wanted to receive Christ as their Savior to come forward. Negrut said that the whole stadium full of people began to move forward in response to the invitation. Palau thought that they must have misunderstood, and so he gave the invitation again. And, again the whole stadium began moving forward to receive Christ as their Savior.

Pastor Negrut urged the pastors present at the conference in 2004 to not see things just as they are, but as they could become. He said that we need to have a vision to have the ability to do what you can with what you have - a vision based on God’s Word. Someone had a vision to have a Luis Palau crusade in Romania after the collapse of communism. Even with their vision to have the crusade, they must have been surprised at the overwhelming response. Vision to look beyond what the world says is possible, to what God can do is important, not just for pastors, but for every child of God.

In order, to have vision, to have passion, what is needed is character. To have character, there must be faithfulness. As Jesus says in Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” From where does faithfulness come? The Bible tells us in Galatians 5: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:16; 22-23).” Do you want to have vision? If so, you need character, and to have character you need faithfulness. Be faithful even in the small things!

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.01.16

More of Jesus

Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. – 2 Peter 1:1-7 NKJV.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. – 2 Peter 1:2 NIV.

Grace and peace [that special sense of spiritual well-being] be multiplied to you in the [true, intimate] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. – 2 Peter 1:2 Amplified Bible.

When you first meet someone, do you immediately know everything about that person? Of course not. With social networks like facebook and twitter it is easy to understand this lack of knowing about a new friend on Facebook, or a follower on Twitter. Over a period of time as you interact with a new friend on facebook or follower on twitter you come to know more about them. Then, there are some friends and followers that you never really know; because they never interact with you, they never talk to you. It is the same in the actual real world when you meet a new person, they may become a friend, or they may just be a person whose name you know.

Do you know Jesus, really know Him? Did you meet Jesus one day receiving Jesus as your Savior, but that initial experience is about all you know about Him? You know His name, but that’s about all? Are you wondering why other believers sing the praises of knowing Jesus, but you have never personally experienced anything like they have? God, through the apostle Peter, is trying to help us to understand that knowing Jesus, really knowing Jesus is the key to the abundant life (John 10:10) that Jesus came to give us.

The “divine power” of Jesus “has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” For us to receive the “all things that pertain to life and godliness” Peter is telling us (2 Peter 1:1-7) that we need a growing relationship with Jesus. We can’t just be Facebook friends with Jesus if we want to have the “all things.” We need to know the “exceedingly great and precious promises.” We must give our relationship with Jesus “all diligence.” If we want to have the blessings of God, the “all things” we just need more of Jesus.

As the old hymn “More About Jesus” puts it:

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love who died for me.

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Philippians 3:10 NKJV).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.31.16

The Beast

Casting all your care (anxiety – NIV) upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. – 1 Peter 5:7-9 NKJV.

In Houston, some people were out jogging when they discovered that their pleasant little run had become a run for their lives. Why was that? Because there was an 80-year-old 12-foot long 700lb beast chasing after the joggers. It was a Texas sized alligator! That’s a big gator, but in Palmetto, Florida there’s a 16-foot alligator that they say has been living on a golf course for years that golfers see frequently. Back in 2006, a woman jogging near a canal in Sunrise, a northwest suburb of Fort Lauderdale, was killed by an alligator. Yesterday, there was an article about a large alligator being caught outside of a Dallas, Texas middle school. Meanwhile, in Florida there have been four African crocodiles that have been found which are much more aggressive toward humans than alligators. (abc13 05.27.16; Houston Chronicle 05.11.06)

I can’t imagine the terror that you would feel to look back and see a huge alligator nipping at your heels. When I was a little boy I was out in our pasture and saw a large snake. That snake chased me; at least I imagined it chased me, all the way back to the house. I have been watching for snakes ever since then. At least we don’t have pythons here in Oklahoma, like they do in Florida, or do we? But we do have rattlesnakes, copperheads, bobcats, mountain lions, and some bears.

In the world in which we live there is a necessity for a certain amount of caution. Certainly, we should not live in fear, but we should be aware that there could be dangers lurking. Spiritually, there is a continual threat to our well-being; it is a beast that is continually seeking its prey. The apostle Peter warns of this threat, and makes it clear that we should be aware of the devil who seeks to destroy us. Peter says “Be sober, be vigilant…Resist him, steadfast in the faith....”

We should believe in the sovereignty of God and that He is concerned about His children; however, that does not mean that we are to do nothing to protect ourselves. Of course, we should not live in a state of panic, or terror, but we must resist the beast, being steadfast in our faith casting our cares, our anxieties upon the Lord. What else are we to do? Ephesians 6 tells us, “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...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 6:10-11;18).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.30.16

No Surrender

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 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. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – 1 Timothy 6:6-12 NKJV.

In the United States today is Memorial Day, a federal holiday for remembrance of those who died while serving in the armed forces of the country. Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day begun in 1868 when the graves of the Union war dead were decorated. There was also a day for remembering the Confederate war dead from the Civil War, but these days were merged into the one that we now observe.

Today on Memorial Day is a good time to remember one of the famous battles of WWII called “the Battle of the Bulge.” Military.com has a short, but excellent article about the battle. In December 1944, the Germans had launched a counter offensive and were able to surround Bastogne, Belgium. Bastogne was being defended by the 101st Airborne Division commanded by General Anthony Clement McAuliffe. On the morning of December 22nd four Germans approached carrying a white flag carrying with them a demand for the Americans to surrender. There were two pages demanding the Americans surrender, which in part read, “To the USA Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne…There is only one possibility the honorable surrender of the encircled town.”

When General McAuliffe first briefly looked at the message from the Germans his immediate response was, “Aw, nuts!” Military.com gives this insight into how the actual official response of General McAuliffe occurred: “When he told his commanders he didn’t know what answer to send, Lt. Col. Harry Kinnard said ‘That first crack you made would be hard to beat, General.’ Everyone laughed as a sergeant typed up the succinct response: ‘To the German Commander: Nuts! The American Commander.’” The 101st Airborne was able to hold on until they received relief from Patton’s troops and weather cleared enough for air support. General McAuliffe would likely agree with Dictionary dot com’s interpretation of the word “nuts” as being an expression of “disapproval, disgust, or defiance” meaning in essence “insane, or crazy.” It might have been a temporary relief from the terrible conditions they were in to have surrendered, but that would have been “crazy!”

At times we may feel like we are surrounded spiritually. We may all express silently, if not verbally as did Peter, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Sin, whether small or great in our eyes, is a spiritual defeat; but, that does not mean that the war has been lost. However, we may “feel” like we have been surrounded by the hosts of hell and that the only thing to do is to surrender to their demands. That in a word would be as General McAuliffe uttered at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, “Nuts!” As the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy, instead of surrender, rise up and “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life!”

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.27.16

What's in Your Basement?

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. – Matthew 25:31 NKJV.

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. – Luke 1:32 NKJV.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. – Matthew 6:24 NKJV.

Eileen Scanlon bought a New Jersey waterfront bungalow to use as a rent house in 2010. Eileen had heard rumors that there was something big underneath the house. In fact, she once looked under the house in the crawl space, and thought she saw a large rudder. Eileen is now having the house renovated, and it has been raised off its foundation to enable the work to take place. Now, it is clear what is under her rent house. What is it? It is a 19thCentury coal boat, that is 44-foot long and 12-foot wide, made with planks 3-inch thick; 18-inch long iron nails were used to hold the planks together. Russell Card of Historical Society of the Highlands said this about the boat, “It was beyond amazing. I've heard about it before and the first time I ever saw it was yesterday. I never realized it was so big. I was amazed at the craftsmanship of it.” It is thought that the boat was moved there on wheels, and the house was just built around it. (Fox News 05.27.16)

A lot of strange things have been found in the basements of homes. In Cottage Grove, Minnesota a couple found a scientist in their basement that had been missing for 20 years making LSD in a secret laboratory. Another find in a New Jersey basement was far better than a 19th Century coal boat. After a couple passed away, their children discovered a Rembrandt painting that had been lost for years in the basement called, “An Allegory of The Sense of Smell” that the artist painted in 1625. The painting sold for $870,000. Then there was the 6-foot 200lb alligator in the basement of house in Chicago. The owner apparently knew it was there, but not an appliance repairman.

If you were to think of your life as a house, what’s in your basement? Where do you have the Lord Jesus at? Is He in your living room, your den, or do you have Him hidden away down in your basement? If the Lord is down in your basement, maybe you ought to invite Him up so you can visit with Him from time to time. Is Jesus on the throne of your life?

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.26.16

Sheep Gone Wild

All we like sheep have gone astray; have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:6 NKJV.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. – 1 Peter 2:21-25 NKJV.

There is a sheep problem in Swansea, Wales. There is a group of sheep that have gone wild in Swansea. In fact, one Swansea County Councilor fears “we could have an outbreak of psychotic sheep rampaging through the village.” The horror! But there is already a herd of sheep that have been “getting in people’s gardens and one even entered a bungalow and left a mess in the bedroom.” What has happened to the sheep in Swansea? Someone illegally dumped cannabis plants; and some of the sheep found the plants, and ate them. Now the sheep are running wild! (The Independent 05.26.16)

Do you remember what your life was like before you were a believer in Jesus Christ. It is hard for me to imagine now what I was like in the years before I knew Jesus. In my teen years I had no idea what I would do with my life. My only goal was to be better at playing the guitar. When I enrolled in college, I had never thought about what my major would be. I’m not even sure I knew there were majors. I grew up on a farm, and for 12 years attended a small rural school. Few people from our school ever went to college, although a few became teachers, and one did become governor of our state. On my senior trip, I believe I narrowly escaped dying from alcohol poisoning. Until I committed my life to Jesus, I was a sheep on a rampage through life, with no real purpose in life.

What about you? Are you a sheep gone wild? Do you know the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul (1 Peter 2:25)? I will be forever thankful that my Lord and Shepherd reached down and touched my heart. He bore my sins in His own body and by His stripes I have been healed. The Overseer of my soul has given me eternal life and purpose.

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.25.16

Harebrained

Arise, O God, plead Your own cause; remember how the foolish man reproaches You (mock you – NIV) daily. – Psalm 74:22 NKJV.

A quick-tempered man acts foolishly…. – Proverbs 14:17a NKJV.

The devising of foolishness is sin…. – Proverbs 24:9a NKJV.

In Pakistan, a trial was disrupted when Constable Liaquat Ali demonstrated how a grenade (evidence in the trial) could easily be detonated by pulling the pin. It was thought that the grenade had been disarmed, but no one knew that for sure. Everyone knows now that the grenade was not disarmed, because it exploded. The Constable and a court assistant were injured with the Constable receiving injuries to his hands, but he has been released from the hospital. What did the judge do? The judge fell off his chair, according to witnesses. (Daily Pakistan 04.11.16; The Guardian 04.12.16)

There is an old word which describes well the decision making abilities of someone who pulls a pin on a grenade in a courtroom without know for sure that it has been disarmed. That word is, harebrained. The Free Dictionary defines harebrained as something that is: “rash, foolish, or badly thought out.” The earliest recorded use of the word harebrained is from 1548 in Scotland and England. The original meaning was to slam the actions of someone by saying that they only had a brain the size of a hare (rabbit).

There are many things that could be described as being harebrained according to the Bible. David recognizes that his sin was harebrained by saying, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly (2 Samuel 24:10 NKJV).” Sin is always going to be a harebrained thing to participate in. Knowingly participating in sin is like pulling the pin on a grenade, the results are never good.

James describes how our words can sometimes be like an exploding grenade. In James 3:5-6 we are told, “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” Opening our mouths and saying the wrong things can at times be like pulling the pin on a grenade. The writer of Proverbs says, “Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction (Proverbs 10:14).”

The two most harebrained things of all time is to mock God (Psalm 74:22), and to consider the only way of salvation as being foolishness. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18 NKJV).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.24.16

Escapes from Death

For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living? – Psalm 56:13 NKJV.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:8-11 NKJV.

It happened near Garner, North Carolina; that is where a 71-year-old woman escaped death twice at a railroad crossing. The first time she escaped death was when she had to hurry across the crossing to avoid being hit by an Amtrak train. She hit a tree on the other side of the crossing. The second time (two weeks later) she escaped death, she attempted to follow a line of cars across the crossing; however, the cars stopped and left her stranded on the tracks. Seeing the approaching train, she attempted to back up off the tracks, but the front of her car was still struck by the Amtrak train. Thankfully, no one on the train was injured, and the 71-year-old woman escaped with minor injuries. The car, however, does have some major damage from the two accidents. (abc11 05.15.16; The News & Observer 05.11.16)

Escapes from death, how many close calls have you had? I have never had a close call with a train, and hope I never do! I know that as a teenager I had two close brushes with death. Working in the oilfield I had two narrow escapes from death and also as a parole officer more escapes from death. While driving I know there have been many close calls. Those are just the ones I know where God protected me from an early death. I realize that there were countless other times that God has protected me from physical injury and then there are the times that I know God has healed me. As the apostle Paul says, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28a).”

Hebrews 9:27 makes it clear that we will all suffer a physical death, but if we know Jesus as our Savior we have already passed from eternal death (escaped from death) unto eternal life (John 5:24). Only God knows the number of our days upon this earth. As it has been said by many, each day is the beginning of the rest of our lives. King David knew this very well as he said, “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! Selah. Our God is the God of salvation; and to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death (Psalm 68:19-20).” Let us live each day confident that God Himself through the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Whatever we may face this day, God is with us (Matthew 1:23).

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.23.16

God's Will be Done

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 NKJV.

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.For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? – Matthew 5:44-46 NKJV.

David Shoshan in Israel has been having some problems with someone treating him “harshly and not nicely.” David says that he has made several contacts with police about these crimes, and that the police were sent to his house ten times. However, what David really wants is a restraining order; but Judge Ahsan Canaan denied the request. David represented himself at the hearing, but for some reason the other party was not available for the hearing. Who is this that is causing David so many problems? David says God is the one who has been very unkind to him over the years. Judge Canaan said that David is “delusional” and that he needs resources not available to the court. The Israeli news site NRG attempted to contact God for comment, but He was unavailable. (Independent UK 05.06.16; NRG 05.06.16; Fox News 05.06.16)

Over the centuries there have been others that may have wanted a restraining order against God; although they did not seek relief in a court. Job’s wife, who told Job he should just curse God and die, would have like to have had a restraining order. Job himself would probably have liked to have had one too. Then, of course, there is Jonah. God called him to witness to those evil Ninevites in Nineveh. Today that would be like God calling you to go and witness to ISIS, although the Ninevites may have been even more evil.

It is not always God’s will for some things to happen to you. This is an important thing for you to understand. Is it God’s will that someone who is drunk or high on some substance to drive the wrong way down a highway and slam into other vehicles? Of course, that is not God’s will, but it has happened many many times. Is it God’s will for someone to decide to rob a bank and kill someone during the robbery. Of course not, but that is what has happened many many times.

Do we need a restraining order against God when bad things happen in our lives? No. Did God cause that bad thing to happen in your life? Possibly, but it is more likely that it was just something that happened because of the bad decisions of others. Or, it just happened because of the corrupt nature of the world we live in that was corrupted when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. Because God “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

At times we may not know what to pray for or about; however, the Holy Spirit knows, and the Holy Spirit will take our prayers translating them according to the will of God. In Romans 8:26-27 NKJV we are told, “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” The assurance that we receive in Romans 8:28 is this: bad things may happen in your life, but God wants what is good for you. This is God’s will. Pray for it! As Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:10 NKJV, “Your kingdom come. YOUR WILL BE DONE. On earth as it is in heaven.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.20.16

Hearing Voices

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. – 1 Kings 19:11-12 NKJV.

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). – John 20:16 NKJV.

Brad Sapp who owns a recycling business in Carroll, Iowa was hearing voices as he worked late one night. Actually, it was just one voice whispering, “Get out of here.” When Brad told his wife, Carrie, about it she told him that he must be “afraid of ghosts.” The next morning, Carrie was hearing voices too, as someone in the chimney yelled, “I’m in your chimney, I was playing hide and seek with my cousin. Don’t call the cops; I just need the help getting out.” Carrie did call the police, and the fire department. Firefighters punched a hole in the brick chimney to extricate 29-year-old Jordan Kajewski. Kajewski has been charged with trespassing. (Daily Times Herald 05.18.16; Yahoo News 05.19.16)

Hearing voices can be a symptom of mental illness. However, as my professor in Abnormal Psychology once said, “But most Baptist deacons would tell you that they have heard God speak to them.” While I was a parole officer, I had a client tell me that he was hearing voices. He said that the voices were telling him to hurt people; but, after he spent a year in a mental institution he was no longer hearing those voices. The last time I saw him, years later, he was doing well and was leading an alcohol recovery program.

Please don’t tell anyone, but I have been hearing voices, and they seem to be growing louder. Actually, just one voice, the voice of God. God speaks to me through His Word, He speaks to me through other believers, He speaks to me through His still small voice as I pray and go through my day. “I come to the garden alone. While the dew is still on the roses and the voice I hear falling on my ear the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known. He speaks, and the sound of His voice, is so sweet the birds hush their singing, and the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing (The old hymn: In the Garden by C. Austin Miles).”

Have you been hearing the voice of God? Has He called your name? Listen…can you hear Him?

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.19.16

Well-Meaning People

Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. – 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NKJV.

Paul Allen is a co-founder of Microsoft, which he left some time ago. In these days, Paul is known for his philanthropy giving in support of primarily coral reef restorations. One of his projects has been in support of the West Bay Coral Reef in the Cayman Islands. Recently, Allen’s 300-foot yacht dropped anchor, it dropped anchor on the West Bay Coral Reef and caused some damage. They dropped anchor and destroyed 80% of the reef! (National Geographic 01.16.16; The Guardian 01.28.16)

Paul Allen is an example of a well-meaning person, or well intentioned person; who when they try to help, instead of actually helping cause damage. Dictionary dot com defines well-meaning as: “having or indicating good or benevolent intentions, usually with unfortunate results.” Have you ever encountered a “well-meaning” person? Have you ever been a “well-meaning” person?

Another question that needs to be asked is this: Is being a “well-meaning” person wrong in God’s eyes? Dictionary dot com defines evil in this way: “morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked - harmful; injurious - characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous - anything causing injury or harm - a harmful aspect, effect, or consequence.” The answer to the question is that a “well-meaning person” is in the wrong when they cause harm. This is why we are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 to “abstain (or avoid – GNT and CNT) every kind of evil.”

Unintentionally causing harm can come about in innocent ways. It may be a lack of information, or the wrong information that causes an action that results in harm. Apparently, whoever was piloting Paul Allen’s 100-yard long yacht did not have the right information about the location of their ship in relation to the reef. When you are captain of a ship a football field long you need to be cautious of where you pilot the ship, and where you drop a very heavy anchor. When you are a human ship you also need to be careful of which way you turn the rudder. James 3:4-6 tells us, “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. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” Where are you piloting your ship today?

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.18.16

The Shepherdless

But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. – Mark 6:33-34 NKJV. (At the feeding of the five thousand.)

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” – John 10:25-30 NKJV. (At the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem.)

If you have ever watched the movie Adventures in Babysitting (Filmed in 1987 and there may be a 2016 remake.), you have good reason be concerned about what the babysitter does with your kids. Last week, there was a real life adventure in babysitting that occurred in Colorado. Rachel Einspahr, who is 28-years-old, picked up seven and one and a half year old sisters after school and possibly the toddler from a daycare. All is good at that point; however, Rachel was considering a plan to rob a bank. She drives around for a while, until she finally decides upon a bank in Severance, Colorado. In the bank’s drive through area, Rachel sent a message claiming there was a man in the car threatening to harm the children. The bank teller gave her $500. There was no man in the car, and the children were not in any immediate danger. After the robbery the babysitter went to a park where the children could have some fun. Rachel needed money it was learned to pay off $15,000 she had stolen from a previous employer. It doesn’t look like Rachel will need to do any more babysitting for some time, since she has been charged with robbery, and two counts of child abuse. (CBS 05.16.16Yahoo News 05.17.16; Fox News 05.18.16 and various other news venues)

Rachel Einspahr is like a sheep without a shepherd, making one bad decision after another, digging a deeper and deeper hole. The sad thing, the really sad thing, is that there are multitudes of people just like Rachel without a shepherd. The heart of our Lord and Savior is still moved with compassion for them. As believers our hearts should also be moved with compassion for the multitudes without Jesus as their shepherd.

Many believers have been blessed to have prayer warriors praying for them. I am very thankful for the prayer warriors who were praying for me when I was young and throughout my life. If you do not have a prayer list of people you are praying for, you need to start one. If you have one, are the people on your list only family or close friends? If so, it is time for you to enlarge your coasts, your personal ministry, add people to your prayer list outside of your immediate circle of influence. Add strangers to your prayer list, add children, youth, and young adults and all ages to your prayer list. Those people on your prayer list do not have to know that you are praying for them, although for many it would be an encouragement if they did know. Who else can you pray for?

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.17.16

It's Not in the Ten Commandments

And God spoke all these words, saying:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
“You shall have no other gods before Me.”
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image…you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.”
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain….”
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work….”
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
“You shall not murder.”
“You shall not commit adultery.”
“You shall not steal.”
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” – Exodus 20:1-17 NKJV.

In Jonesboro, Arkansas a man had 134 pounds of marijuana shipped to his house. Officers posed as if they were deliverymen, and arrested Alberto Gomez-Reyes when he signed for receipt of the package. He has been charged with possession and intent to distribute. (Yahoo News 05.13.16) It may not be in the Ten Commandments, but don’t do that!

One night Sophia Sanchez was arguing with her boyfriend in Riverside, Illinois and apparently her boyfriend ended it by refusing to argue any longer. The next morning, Sophia rammed her car into her boyfriend’s vehicle so he would have to stop and talk to her. (WLS-TV 04.27.16) It may not be in the Ten Commandments, but don’t do that!

Kirk Kelly had violated his probation and was arrested in Akron, Ohio. However, Kirk had an idea, if he were to bite off his fingertips; police would not be able to identify him by his fingerprints. He tried, but it didn’t work as he was still positively identified as Kirk Kelly. (WFTS-TV 02.26.16) It may not be in the Ten Commandments, but don’t do that!

In Portsmouth, England a 21-year-old woman was found by police to be using her grandmother’s handicap parking badge. Emily Davis’ grandmother had recently passed away. (Metro News 02.26.16) It may not be in the Ten Commandments, but don’t do that!

In Georgia (USA), 32-year-old David Presley put three pounds of Tannerite into his riding lawn mower. Tannerite is used to make exploding targets for shooters. There are videos of Tannerite blowing up a barn and vehicles. David was going to start small, and blow up his lawn mower, shooting it with his rifle. The lawn mower did blow up, and even though he was 90 feet from the mower he was still hit by pieces of metal, which severed his leg below his knee. In Oklahoma a man shot at a refrigerator filled with Tannerite and his young son was killed by shrapnel. (Athens Banner-Herald 03.23.16) It may not be in the Ten Commandments, but don’t do that!

Just because something is not covered by the Ten Commandments, does not necessarily mean that it is okay to do, or not to do something. That is one reason why God has given us the Bible. If we will read the Bible, study the Bible, and memorize the Bible we will gain wisdom to avoid many mistakes in this life. Yes, I still mess up at times, but the errors of my way are far fewer now than before I sought wisdom from the Word of God. The Book of Proverbs is a good place to begin, as there are 31 chapters, one for each day of the month. The Book of Proverbs begins with this: “To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion—a wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:2-7 NKJV).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.16.16

Take Your Medicine

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. – Jonah 1:1-3 NKJV.

So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. – Jonah 1:15-17 NKJV.

Jessie Kingsinger’s mother called police for help in Florida to obtain a psychiatric evaluation for her son. Her son, Jessie, is 21-years-old and he attempted to flee from the police officers who arrived to help. In his attempt to get away from officers he jumped into a nearby lake, but officers did find him soon afterwards. Sadly, an alligator had bitten off three-quarters of Jessie’s left arm by the time he was found. A spokesperson for the Police Department said about the injury: “We expect it had just happened, seconds before he crawled out, otherwise he would have bled out.” Jessie as you would expect, has been hospitalized for the injury to his arm, and for the psychiatric issue. (Yahoo News 05.12.16; The Ledger 05.12.16)

Have you ever tried to run away from something unpleasant? I have. It is human nature to want to avoid unpleasant things. I once wrecked my car when I was a teenager by trying to jump over a ditch four or five feet wide. The car did make it over the ditch, but it slammed the fan through the radiator, and warped the frame. Now this was an obvious complete failure of judgment and responsibility on my part to do such a crazy thing. How would I explain it to my parents? My first response was that I had a friend, who had a friend whose Dad had a body shop, and I would have him repair the car before my parents found out. I went so far as to have my friend’s friend to drive a wrecker out to the scene, before I came to my senses, and decided to take my medicine.

“Take your medicine” is an old phrase that was often used when I was growing up. UsingEnglish dot com defines “take your medicine” as: “If you take your medicine, you accept the consequences of something you have done wrong.” I stumbled onto song lyrics by a group I never heard of (Cloud Cult) titled “Take Your Medicine” with these words: “You can take it in stride, or you can take it right between the eyes. Suck up, suck up and take your medicine.” That night I had my friend drive me home to face my parents to take my medicine. Probably the worst part of that was the disappointment I knew my parents had about what I had done. My Dad let my wrecked car sit out in the yard for a couple of weeks, and then he took it to a body shop and had it repaired.

You know it is hard to “take your medicine” but there is something freeing about doing so. Confession is good for the soul; it is like having a heavy weight lifted off of you. That’s what King David found out after he was confronted with his sins by Nathan the prophet. David cries out, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation (Psalm 51:12).” You can run and run from God like Jonah, but you will never escape. 1 John 1:9 says to do what? “Confess!” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When you have messed up, when you have failed, when you have sinned horribly – Confess! Don’t try to run, don’t try to hide, it will never work! Confess! Then your God, can begin the healing that will restore the joy of your salvation.

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.13.16

Are You Trapped?

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. – John 8:31-36 NKJV.

The Message puts John 8:34-35 as: Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will.”

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.

A homeless woman in Key West, Florida somehow became trapped in a huge banyan tree. Police and Fire and Rescue were able to extricate the woman from the tree. What a predicament to be in! She was virtually unable to move with her legs sticking out of the twisted tree. Why did the woman try to climb the tree? The answer? The woman said: “It looked like fun.” (Yahoo 05.12.16)

Did the woman in Key West intend to become trapped in a tree? Of course not. It is never the intention of anyone to become trapped in a tree or of anyone to become trapped in sin. How often is it though that we become trapped because it “Looks like fun?”

There are a multitude of traps, of snares that can keep us from reaching our potential as children of God. Focusing upon the attractions, the allures of this world, instead of upon Jesus (Hebrews 12:3) is a trap. Having pride in all that you do and say without giving glory to God is a trap (1 Peter 5:6). Constantly seeking only what makes you feel good or pleasures you is a trap (Romans 8:5-6). Being only concerned with your home, or your land, or the money you have in the bank is a trap (Matthew 6:24). Those are just a few of the traps that we can fall into in life.

The truth is that you may not be an actual slave trapped in a life of menial labor, but you may be trapped as a slave to sin. How can you escape from the trap you have fallen into? How can you have the freedom that God wants you to have? Jesus tells us in John 8: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. …Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.12.16

Jesus Can Help!

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. – Matthew 26:36-44 NKJV.

A study of long-term Alcoholics Anonymous members has shown that prayer reduces cravings. This is a credible study using brain scans of long-term AA members when they are exposed to photos of drinking. The brain scans prove that the AA members who pray using AA prayers from the AA Big Book were able to reduce their cravings to drink alcohol. I believe this is an important and exciting study not only for alcoholics, but for those with other addictions. It would appear that you can extrapolate these results to say that when you are exposed to temptation, immediate prayer will reduce the likelihood of your succumbing to the temptation. I will post a link to this article in my Facebook Overcoming Addictions group. (Source: Millard M, Weber J, Dermatis H, Josipovic Z, Galanter M. An Initial fMRI Study on Neural Correlates of Prayer in Members of Alcoholics Anonymous. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. 2016.)

Why was Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane? He was praying because His human flesh was under intense pressure, an intense temptation. Jesus knew exactly what was ahead, He knew that He would be crucified, and that it would be a horrible excruciatingly painful death. Jesus was experiencing the temptation to flee from that future He knew was immediately ahead. Jesus did not have to stay and wait for His arrest, trial, and execution. But He did stay; He did suffer and die becoming the perfect once for all sacrifice.

Now there is credible proof from brain scans that prayer will help you to overcome temptation. If you have been a believer for very long you most likely already knew this to be true. However, do you actually take advantage of this resource? In Hebrews 2:18 we are told, “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” The Applied Bible, Classic Edition puts this as: “He (Jesus) is able [immediately] to run to the cryof (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering].” What does this mean for those facing temptation? It means that when you are facing temptation and pray in the Name of Jesus, that He runs (immediately) to help you.

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.11.16

The Little Things

Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes. – Song of Solomon 2:15 NKJV.

The Message puts Song of Solomon 2:15 as: Then you must protect me from the foxes, foxes on the prowl, foxes who would like nothing better than to get into our flowering garden.

The huge Hadron Collider which was built at a cost of $4.4 billion recently was shut down. It is thought that it will take several days to restart the collider which is located near the Swiss and French borders. The unplanned shutdown was the result of a weasel getting inside of a transformer and burning it out. Sadly, the weasel did not survive. In 2009, there was another unplanned shutdown of the collider believed to have been caused by a bird, although no traces of the bird remained. (Yahoo 04.29.16; BBC 04.29.16)

Little things can sometimes cause many problems and much irritation. I like Christian artist Francesca Battisteli’s song “This is the Stuff.” Francesca lists some of the little things that drive her crazy: losing her keys, can’t find her phone, and getting a ticket for speeding just a little. According to Francesca’s song these thing make her forget at times how much God has blessed her. Have you let the little things make you forget how much God has blessed you?

It is in Song of Solomon chapter two where, “the little foxes that spoil the vines” is inserted in a passage where the writer is talking about the perfect love between a man and a woman. But is he not really talking about the perfect love that God has for His children; and, how so often little things can interfere with that perfect love between God and His creation? What little things have you allowed to come between the love you and God have for each other? Have you forgotten how much God has blessed you?

Don't let the little things in life bring you down.

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.10.16

The Stairway to Heaven

Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” – Genesis 28:10-17 NKJV.

What would you think if you were to see what appeared to be a ladder extending into Heaven? That is what Trisha Hawke saw in the sky at Accrington, Lancashire, England. Most of us would not believe Trisha, except that she has a photo she took of this very unusual cloud formation. She had just taken her nine-year-old daughter to school and she says “I always have my camera with me and usually take pictures every morning after dropping my daughter off at school. The way the sun was coming through the clouds on this particular morning was really pretty and would have made a nice photo anyway but then I saw this really strange shape rising up from the skyline. It looked just like a set of stairs or steps so my first thought was it looked like a stairway to heaven. I was really pleased to have caught it on camera as often these things don't show up the same as when you see them with your own eyes. I'm not sure what made the shape appear like that or how long it was there for but it must have been a little while as I had enough time to get my camera out and take a picture.” Here is the link to the article and to the photos of this stairway to heaven: http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/668460/Pictures-Stairway-heaven-sky-clouds-shape-Accrington-Lancashire (Express UK 05.10.16)

Jacob had a vision of a spiritual ladder extending to Heaven with angels descending and ascending. I believe there are still angels descending and ascending to Heaven today. Most of the time we cannot see them, but that does not make them any less real. Did the ladder Jacob saw in his vision look like the one Trisha snapped a photo of?

If you do a google search for “stairway to heaven” there are a huge number of search results for the rock song with that name by Led Zeppelin; with lyrics and much of the music by Jimmie Page. I have heard the song many times, but never really listened to the lyrics; so, I looked them up today. Perhaps if you are high on some substance they would make more sense to you. The reason the lyrics are so strange is because, according to Wikipedia, Page took the words from a book he was reading at the time, “Magic Arts in Celtic Britain.” However, as often happens with secular writing there is a line of truth within the lyrics. Here is the line of truth: “Yes, there are two paths you can go by, But in the long run, There's still time to change the road you're on.”

There are two paths in life, a life with God and a life without God. Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).” Entry to eternal life and a pass to the only stairway to Heaven is only through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the “gate” to the path of eternal life and the only way of salvation (John 14:6). If you are still breathing, and you are on the wrong path, now is the time to change the road you are on before it is everlastingly too late. Receive Jesus as your Savior now!

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.09.16

Guard Your Heart!

Keep your heart (guard your heart – NIV) with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. – Proverbs 4:23 NKJV.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:45 NKJV.

It happened in Foxbank Plantation, South Carolina, that’s where an alligator was seen attempting to ring the doorbell of a home. The home owner was not at home, but a neighbor’s video of the gator has gone viral. (05.04.16 Mailonline) Then there is the bear in 2012 in Naples, Florida that rang the doorbell of a home there; but there are many reports and videos of other doorbell ringing bears. There is also a video of a lion walking up to a car and opening the car door. So, if a lion can do that, it could also conceivably ring a doorbell.

If you knew an alligator was ringing your doorbell or knocking at your door, would you let it in? Of course you wouldn’t! If you knew a bear was ringing your doorbell or knocking at your door, would you let it in? Of course you wouldn’t! If you knew a lion was ringing your doorbell or knocking at your door, would you let it in? Of course you wouldn’t! Why would you not let those animals into your home? Because you know they are dangerous, those animals could hurt you or even kill you. At the very least those animals could wreak havoc upon the interior of your home, destroying much that you would think of as being valuable.

Your home is valuable, but there is something that is even more valuable, and that is your heart. The world, the flesh, and the devil are continually ringing the doorbell of your heart trying to find a way in. Envy, greed, lust, pride, and more are ringing the doorbell of your heart. Don’t let them in! Guard your heart! 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says this: “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 John 4:1 gives us additional instruction saying: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Just because some evil thing rings your doorbell it doesn’t mean that you have to let it in. Guard your heart!

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.06.16

Are You Annoyed or Annoying?

This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. – Acts 16:17-18 NKJV.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal (annoying distraction – AMP) – 1 Corinthians 13:1 NKJV.

Dictionary dot com defines annoy as: to disturb or bother (a person) in a way that displeases, troubles, or slightly irritates. Some things are annoying like a train parked on the tracks blocking an intersection in Inola, Oklahoma for weeks along with the constant noise of a crossing signal. Now that is annoying! What annoys you? Buzzing insects? Fingernails scratching on a blackboard? Other people’s children screaming? Waiting half an hour in a checkout line? There are a lot of things that annoy us.

Do you annoy other people? There is an article on Psychologium that gives seven signs that your personality is annoying for people around you:

1. Your friends and family constantly tell you to cheer up and to look at the bright side of things.

2. Your co-workers tell you that you are very patronizing.

3. You are always the one everyone comes to for the latest gossip.

4. You are always late and unreliable.

5. You are always competing.

6. You are selfish and temperamental.

7. You are plain rude.

So are you annoyed or annoying? One of the problems that annoying people have is that they do not really have the love of God in their hearts. That is what we are being told in 1 Corinthians 13. Without love we are like clanging cymbals, just annoying distractions. Without love to temper our words and actions we will be very hurtful to those around us, because we will not care whether we hurt them or not. Without love we only care about ourselves, and what makes us feel good and look good.

What can you do if someone or something is annoying you? There are likely several things that you could do, but the apostle Paul gives us an example as he commanded the demon to come out of the servant girl in the Name of Jesus. Now, in these days to do that verbally likely would result in a violent response. You can, however, always pray in the Name of Jesus about whatever is annoying you. But what if you think that you are an annoying person? Only by receiving Jesus as your Savior and following Him can you have the love of God in your heart. Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Are you following Him?

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.05.16

Are You in Prison?

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. – Matthew 10:28 NKJV.

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:30-31 NKJV.

The headline is: “The Longest Armed Stand-off in American History Ends.” John Joe Gray was stopped for speeding and arrested in December 1999 for having rifles in his car, and for biting the arresting officer. Gray was released on bond, but never left his 47-acre plot of land after his release; threatening to shoot any officers attempting to arrest him. The charges were dismissed in December 2014. The District Attorney, however, failed to notify Gray of the charges being dropped, and Gray did not know until January 2016 that he was no longer a wanted man. Why didn’t law enforcement attempt to arrest the man? Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt said, “Joe Gray has been in prison out there himself, in my opinion, for 14 years.” Chuck Norris met with Gray in 2000, and offered to obtain free legal representation for him, but he still refused to leave. (Mail Online 03.06.16 and various other news venues)

Are you in prison? No, not a literal prison, but a prison created by your own fears? You likely are not a lazy person that the writer of Proverbs refers to in 22:13 and 26:13, but you still fear there is a lion out there lying in wait for you. Dictionary dot com defines fear as: “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.” Is fear of failure preventing you from serving your God in a greater way? If so, you are in prison. Is the fear of being laughed at keeping you from pursuing your dreams? If so, you are in prison. Is there a relationship that needs to be mended, but you are afraid to take the first step for fear of being rejected? If so, you are in prison.

Some fears are real. Just because someone is paranoid does not necessarily mean that there are not people out there who want to harm them. Moses is an example of that, although he was not paranoid. He had real fears, based upon the reality that there were people out there at one time who wanted to harm him. That is why he fled Egypt after committing murder to defend one of his Hebrew brothers. Even after leading the Hebrew people out of Egypt there were real dangers that Moses had to face. Can you imagine having a couple of million people unhappy with you, and you are living right in the middle of them?

Whether your fears are based on reality, or fantasy, Moses gives an example of how to defeat them and free you from the prison of your fears. In Hebrews 11:27 we are told, “By faith he (Moses) forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” Overcome your fears; overcome the imaginary lion in the street, by “seeing Him who is invisible.” “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (1 Timothy 1:7).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

05.04.16

Do Not Feed The Monkeys

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. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. - Ephesians 5:8-13.

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. - Ephesians 5:1-7.

Nikko, Japan is the home of the famous statues of the monkeys that see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, and speak-no-evil. Nikko also has a large population of living monkeys of the wild macaque variety. Some years ago troops of these simians were causing major problems for those living in Nikko. The monkeys while scavenging for food would occasionally bite people and continually damage property. Officials blamed tourists who fed the monkeys, which made the situation worse and worse. There were more and more incidents of monkeys grabbing bags, which they thought, might contain food. The people of Nikko would like for all of the tourists to remember, please don’t feed the monkeys!

God makes it clear in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that He would like for us to stop feeding our monkeys too. In Ephesians 5:3-5 we are told of some of those monkeys which we are to avoid. Paul says we are to "have no fellowship" with them. In other words, don’t feed them! Cut off the relationship with "the unfruitful works of darkness." In Romans 13:14 we are told to "make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." We should not even think about how to gratify those desires. The more we feed the monkeys, the more we have fellowship with them, the more we make provision for them the worse they become.

To rid ourselves of the monkeys we must cut them off. We must stop feeding the monkeys, stop having fellowship with them, and stop providing for them. We must kick them out. But it is not enough just to do that. We must replace them with something better. We are to "walk as children of light finding out what is acceptable to the Lord." We are to "be imitators of God as dear children (Ephesians 5:1)." We are to "walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us... (Ephesians 5:2)."

Have you been feeding the monkeys? Stop it!!

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.03.16

Forgive!

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” – Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35 NKJV.

Rodney and Randy Gilliam both more than 40-years-old living in the same house had a little disagreement. Rodney thought that Randy had taken his pot roast, and became enraged; stabbing Randy several times in the head with a three-pronged fork. The result was that Randy had stitches all over his head and a swollen eye. When police arrived they found blood all over the place and arrested Rodney for aggravated battery. Randy says they had been drinking and that it was, “A family squabble, I mean, like I said I’m sorry he’s going to jail for it. I don’t want to see him do that but I guess, you know, you shouldn’t stab me.” Maybe it is something in the water in Muncie, Indiana that caused this? Because last summer a family was having a barbecue and one woman stabbed another in the eye with a fork over a rib. Now, in her defense, Sabrina says the other woman had a knife. (Fox59 04.30.16; Fox59 05.27.15)

There is often a common ingredient in violent family arguments and that common ingredient is alcohol. While I was a parole officer I had a murderer on parole that had killed his brother, alcohol was also involved in that violent act of rage.

Jesus says we should forgive not seven times but “seventy times seven.” Peter’s suggestion that they should forgive seven times was actually generous compared to rabbinic thought at that time. According to the Expositor’s Bible Commentary: “In rabbinic discussion, the consensus was that a person might be forgiven a repeated sin three times.” The parable following of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35) makes it clear that seventy times seven is not the limit to forgiveness in that we have been forgiven far more than we can ever forgive others. The vastness of the debt, God forgives through Jesus, is shown in the great debt of 10,000 talents that the Unforgiving Servant is forgiven. King David in comparison donated seven thousand talents of silver and three thousand talents of gold to be used in the construction of the Temple (1 Chronicles 29:4, 7).

The next time you’re at the family barbecue and someone takes the last rib, forgive! The next time you think someone has stolen your pot roast, forgive! Remember you have been forgiven far more than you can ever forgive anyone else. Forgive!

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.02.16

Count Your Blessings

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. – Hebrews 13:15-16 NIV.

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. – 1 Peter 4:12-16 NKJV.

In Philadelphia at the 122nd Penn Relays, Ida Keeling has set a world record in the 100 yard dash! She set the record in her age group of 80 and older and she is 100-years-old! Ida was not always a runner according to her daughter Shelly. She only began running when she was 67-years-old after her two sons were murdered. Ida shares the secret to her longevity: “Eat for nutrition not for taste. Do what you need to do, not what you want to do, and make sure you exercise at least once every day. I think God every day for my blessings.”(CBS Philly 05.01.16)

If you had two of your sons or daughters murdered, how could you praise God or thank God for your blessings? But that is what Ida Keeling does every day. It is also what God was in effect telling Job to do in Job 37:14, “Listen to this, O Job; stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” God told this to Job, whose seven sons and three daughters were killed in what sounds like it was a tornado: “a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house (Job 1:19).”

How can you keep on living after a tragedy? “Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” Instead of turning away from God, turn to God. In the end, that is what Job did. Job says to God at the end of the book of Job, “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know (Job 42:2-3).” Too many times I have sought to comfort and pray with families that have had a son or daughter die in accidents or from natural causes. Those families who have drawn closer to their God during those most difficult times have found the strength to continue on with life.

We may not understand completely why some things happen, but we can still thank God for the blessings He has bestowed upon our lives. In the counting of our blessings, in the praising and thanking of our God we are strengthened and infused with stamina, with the life we need to keep on living; for He inhabits our praises (Psalm 22:3). Let us rejoice and praise God for the greatest of all blessings that He has given to us: Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.29.16

Are You Deluded?

For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd. – Zechariah 10:2 NKJV.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matthew 6:33 NKJV.

Are you voting for Hillary, Bernie, Donald or Ted? If you’re not sure who to vote for there is another option. That option is Andrew Basiago, he is an attorney and is running for President as an Independent. Basiago claims he has unique qualifications for being President of the United States. What are his unique qualifications? He claims to have been involved with a project called Pegasus which has sent him on time travels from the time he was a boy of seven years of age. Because Basiago has seen the future, he claims that as President he will know what to avoid to keep the country safe. Also, Andrew is vastly more experienced in foreign relations, because of his travel to Mars in 1981. (Inverse 04.26.16)

Dictionary dot com defines delusion as: “a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.” Although, I’m not a psychologist, I think any reasonably sane person would conclude that Andrew Basiago is suffering from a delusion. It is surprising that Basiago is not currently a resident in a mental health facility. Of course, the way things are going he may receive a surprising number of votes.

Zechariah was a prophet during the time of the Babylonian exile who along with Haggai encouraged the completion of the Temple. The construction of the Temple was begun in 536 B.C., but work had halted because of the opposition of the Samaritans. In Zechariah 10:2, the prophet identifies the spiritual cause of the Babylonian captivity, which was idol worship. Today we may not have a wooden or stone idol that we bow down to, but we still have our idols.

Our idols today consist of anything that we put before God (Matthew 6:33). Here are a few of the things that can become idols: money, job, power, recreation and hobbies. What was it that had flowed out of idol worship during the time of Zechariah? The people were captive in a foreign land and “…the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd (Zechariah 10:2b).” Focusing time and resources on idols creates a delusion. The delusion is that we do not need God and can live life better without Him. This will always result in our captivity by our idols, we will make poor decisions without our Shepherd (God), and our quality of life will diminish.

Let nothing delude you into thinking that you can live better without God. It is a lie straight from the pit of Hell. Put God first and everything else will fall into its proper place.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.28.16

Just Slipping By

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. – John 10:7-9 NKJV.

He who believes in Him (Jesus) is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. – John 3:18-19 NKJV.

A man in New Jersey has been sliding by, avoiding payment of the New Jersey EZ Pass toll. He has slipped by some 200 times owing some $12,000 in tolls. He was able to avoid payment for so long in part by not having a front license plate on his Mercedes Benz. The missing license plate was what led to an officer stopping Joe’s vehicle and discovering not only did Joe P. owe for the tolls, but he also had a suspended driver’s license. Now, it is time for Joe to pay up, because he has been arrested and his Benz has been impounded. It is now likely that he will have to pay far more than the $12,000. It took a while, but Joe is no longer slipping by. (Various News Venues 04.27.16)

I wonder how many years Joe had been slipping by without paying his tolls? I remember the first time I was on a new toll road and I thought I had enough money to pay the toll at the automated toll booth. However, the toll was 25 cents or more than I had, but there was no way to turn around at that point. I knew there was a large fine for failure to pay, and wasn’t sure what to do. I finally saw a phone number on the booth and called it to locate where I could go and pay. When I left the booth, I drove directly to where the toll office was located and paid the $1.35, or whatever it was then that I owed. I can’t even begin to imagine having failed to pay the toll 200 or more times! I have a PikePass now, which automatically pays the toll.

Spiritually, there are many who believe they can slip by. They think they can live without God, and do a few good deeds that will outweigh the bad they have done (Ephesians 2:8-9), and slip into Heaven. Then, there are others who think they will slip into Heaven, because God is good, and how can a good God send anyone to Hell? God is more than good, holy, and righteous in that He has provided us with a way to have salvation through Jesus Christ’s sinless once for all sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12) on the cross. God does not send anyone to Hell, it is the rejection of Jesus Christ that will send a person to Hell, because they condemn themselves (John 3:18-19).

There is only one way to Heaven as Jesus says clearly in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” There is only one way to Heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ! Jesus is the door through which entry is made into eternal life as He says in John 10:9, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” The Bible is clear about the spiritual fact that there is no slipping by, no slipping into Heaven.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.27.16

The Wrong Race

I returned and saw under the sun that—The RACE is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. – Ecclesiastes 9:11 NKJV.

And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish MY RACE with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. – Acts 20:22-24 NKJV

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the RACE, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV.

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. – Hebrews 12:1 NKJV.

LeeAdianez Rodriguez, 12-years-old, intended to run in the Rochester Wegman’s Family 5K marathon. Her mother dropped her off, because she was late, and she rushed to join the other runners at the Broad Street Bridge. There were more than two thousand runners that took part in that marathon. However, there was a problem. LeeAdianez was unknowingly running in the half-marathon of 13.1 miles; the 5K she was registered to run in started 15 minutes after the half-marathon. Two hours and 43 minutes later she completed the hilly course to the relief of her mother. While LeeAdianez was running, her mother was going crazy trying to find her daughter after she was not among the runners completing the shorter 5K. Officials finally spotted the girl in the longer marathon, spoke with her, and she just wanted to finish the race at that point. Her mother said, “She gave me a really big scare. It was such a scary moment, but rewarding for her in the end. I don't even know how she did it. I'm so proud of her.” LeeAdianez finished 1,885th of 2,111 of those participating in the half-marathon. (Yahoo 04.26.16; Rochester Democrat and Chronicle 04.17.16)

It can be a shock; to find out what you thought you were doing right was actually doing something wrong. Have you ever studied the wrong material for a test? I have. Have you ever put together a shelving unit or a filing cabinet or some other project, and at the end realized you left out a critical step; then, you had to redo the whole thing? I have. Have you ever arrived for a doctor’s appointment or some other appointment only to find out you arrived on the wrong day or the wrong hour? I have. In our human condition we often think we are right when we are wrong. We make mistakes.

Life is pictured as a race in the Bible. We are racing through life to the finish line of death, or as Paul put it, the time of our departure. The apostle Paul was running his race with joy even though he knew from the testimony of the Holy Spirit to his heart that there were some hills and mountains he would have to run through. Paul knew he was in the right race, on the right course, on track to finish at the right time. What about you? Are you in the right race? Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Are you living your life for Him? When you finish your race, will you find out you’ve been running the wrong one? What a horrible shock that would be! If you need a course correction, NOW is the time to make it!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.26.16

The Power of Love

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21 NKJV.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. – Proverbs 17:17 NKJV.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV.

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. – Ephesians 5:1-2 NKJV.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ. – Philippians 1:9-10 NKJV.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11 NKJV.

Srikanth Bolla is the CEO of an Indian company estimated to be worth more than $7.5 million. He is just 23-years-old, and was born into poor and uneducated family with a yearly income of only $300. Oh, and Srikanth was born blind. When Srikanth was born many of his parent’s friends encouraged them to abandon him, but they refused to do that. Instead, they showered their love upon him and Srikanth says of his parents, “They are the richest people I know.” Srikanth’s company Bollant Industries manufactures packaging solutions using recycled paper and leaves. The company hires the physically challenged as their employees.

Srikanth’s path to becoming the CEO of a large company was not easy. He struggled in school until placed in a school for those with special needs. He was rejected by India’s MIT, because he was blind; however, MIT accepted him and when he graduated he returned to his homeland to start Bollant Industries. Swarnalatha was his teacher at the special needs school and now helps train the physically challenged employees of the company. Swarnalatha says, “Srikanth is my true source of inspiration. He is not only my young friend and protégé but is also my mentor who teaches me daily that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.” (Indian Times 04.19.16)

It is hard to even imagine the poverty that Srikanth was born into. Even harder to imagine the choice that Srikanth’s family was encouraged to make of abandoning their baby. When our youngest son was born with Down Syndrome I was encouraged to give him up for adoption. That was never considered as a possibility by me; I just wanted to take him home from the hospital so that we could love him.

Love is at times incomprehensible. How can parents deep in poverty love a blind child so much? How could Jesus love us so much that while we were still His enemies (Romans 5:8), He died for us? There is such great power in love. Love is the greatest good, the greatest power upon this earth. Love will overcome the worst if it is allowed to touch even the unlovable. God is love (1 John 4:16), and God’s kind of love conquers all. Let the love of God loose! Let the love of God run wild in your life!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.25.16

Chaos

For God is not the author of CONFUSION but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. – 1 Corinthians 14:33 NKJV.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.For where envy and self-seeking exist, CONFUSION and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. – James 3:13-18 NKJV.

Workers from two construction companies competing for a construction job in China engaged in a demolition derby against each other. Several bulldozers rammed into each other, one was knocked over, with the operator running for safety, and then other workers with a different machine attempted to upright it. Meanwhile, passenger cars fled this way and that, trying to move out of the way of the dueling behemoths. The chaos was brought on by the intense competition for construction work since the real estate construction sector is down two-thirds from a year ago. The investigation into the incident has not been completed with details about arrests and injuries still unavailable. (Yahoo News 04.18.16)

Dictionary dot com defines Chaos as: “a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.” The demolition derby scene that occurred in China is a picture of total confusion, disorder and chaos. It was brought about by “self-seeking.” Neither side in the battle cared about the other side. There was no attempt to negotiate some type of shared work on the construction project. It was either all, or nothing. If the two owners of the construction companies had contacted each other, and met together; maybe it would have been possible for each company to have some work.

Envy and self-seeking creates what? It creates confusion, disorder, and chaos. The more there is of envy and self-seeking, the greater the confusion, disorder, and chaos. However, it is worse than that as we are told in James 3:16, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” “Every evil thing,” that takes in a whole lot of territory, and there is nothing good in any of it.

The cure for envy and self-seeking is this: instead of putting yourself first, put God first. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness… (Matthew 6:33).” Instead of demanding your way, your rights, be a peacemaker. We are told in James 3:18, “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Seek the wisdom from above, which only God can give. His wisdom will make you “…peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (James 3:17b).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.22.16

Time Travel

Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. – Titus 1:1-2 NKJV.

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. – James 4:14b NKJV.

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. – Colossians 4:5 NKJV.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. – 2 Timothy 4:6 NKJV.

In the movie “Back to the Future” Marty McFly travels back in time in a nuclear powered DeLorean. Being attacked by terrorists, Marty jumps in the DeLorean zooming off until the car, and Marty are zapped back in time. Apparently, someone tried to recreate the scene, although he just had a gasoline powered Dodge Challenger. He did succeed in traveling through the front of a tax preparation business, but missed the Pensacola Caskets business located next door. The car crashed through the entire building coming to a stop at the back. Thankfully, no one was at work on a Sunday morning, and the driver was not injured. He was, however, taken to a facility for a mental evaluation, which may have had something to do with his saying he was attempting to “time travel.” (Pensacola News Journal 12.15.16; New York Daily News 12.14.16)

Is time travel possible? That is a question many would like to answer in the affirmative. The creators of the comic superheroes increased the fascination with the idea of time travel having Superman zooming around the earth until he goes backward or forward in time. The Flash character could do the same thing. Of course the iconic science fiction novel by H. G. Wells in 1895 stirred interest in the subject. Wells was the creator of the term “time machine” in his novel. Time travel, in movies and novels, has been portrayed countless times since.

The word “time,” depending upon which translation is used, is mentioned more than 700 times in the Bible. God makes it clear that there is a beginning to time and there will be an ending to time as we know it. Before time began, God in His plan for humanity, planned for eternal life (Titus 1:2).

The truth is that we do not need a nuclear powered Delorean to travel through time. Why? Because, we are all time travelers. Every day and night we are journeying through time. All through our lives we have been passing through time. Our lives are like a vapor (James 4:14) that appears for a brief time and then passes away. During this brief journey through time there is important work for us to accomplish. We need to redeem the time (Colossians 4:5) and accomplish the purposes of God for our lives; because the time of our departure (2 Timothy 4:6) is fast approaching. If we know Jesus as our Savior we will soon pass from this journey through time into eternity where time never ends.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.21.16

Are You a Fake?

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Bekindly 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. – Romans 12:9-13 NKJV.

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. – Romans 12:9 The Message.

The Waffle House in Fayetteville, North Carolina almost had a robbery. One of the customers hiding in the restroom with her two children called 911 and said, “We’re in the Waffle House on Reilly Road, and there’s a guy who’s trying to rob here, and he has a really big gun.” Pretty scary and the robber might have had a successful robbery except for 70-year-old Phillip Brooks who had served two tours in Vietnam. The robber ran up to the cash register with his AK-47 and demanded, “Give me all the money in the drawer. Open the drawer.” Brooks, who uses a cane, says that he saw immediately that the AK-47 was a fake, “This thing was wood almost all the way up to the end of the barrel. No trigger guard, no trigger. All the working parts were missing, so I just told the girls, ‘don’t give him anything. That’s a fake gun.’” The robber’s response? He pointed the fake gun at Brooks and said, “Well, I’m for real.” Brooks’ response? “I showed him how real I was. I hit him in the nose with my cane.” Other customers helped out at that point, and the robber ran away.(WRAL 04.08.16; MyFox8 04.09.16)

Have you ever tried to fake something? Have you faked you knew how to do something when you didn’t. I have. In the oilfield, I did not really know how to operate electronic inspection units when I started working as an operator. I had been promoted to assistant operator for a company; and had sat at the console actually operating their inspection unit for about 15 minutes total, before being hired as an operator for another company. When I was called as a pastor, I did not really know everything I needed to know to be a pastor; although I had watched pastors at work, and had served as a deacon for several years. I guess you could call it on the job training.

Have you ever faked that you liked something when you really did not like it? Have you ever acted like you loved something when you hated it? Maybe you haven’t, but some of us have. The apostle Paul in says in Romans 12:9, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” The Message puts this as, “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it.” Paul is saying in effect, if you don’t have love for others, do you really have the love of God in your heart? Good question. How much love do you have in your heart? Enough to love others without faking it?

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.20.16

Truth

Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. – Psalm 85:10-11 NKJV.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! – Isaiah 5:20-21 NKJV.

A fatal hit and run of a pedestrian appears to have been solved. Christopher Lemek, Jr, who has a history of driving while intoxicated, has been charged with the crime. Lemek pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, although police say they have a confession. It took some time to find the perpetrator of this offense, because Lemek went to great lengths to hide his involvement. Apparently, Lemek used a track hoe or a similar construction machine to crush his pickup, dig a hole in his backyard, and bury the vehicle. Police while visiting Lemek at his home, noticed some freshly disturbed earth in the backyard, which led to the discovery of the vehicle involved in the hit and run incident. (22WWLP News 01.19.16; Mass Live 03.19.16)

Truth has a way of making itself known. One of the more famous verses in the Bible is John 8:32 which says: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” There is freedom in the truth being made known. Lemek tried to cover up his crime and almost succeeded; however, now the truth is known. Now Lemek may suffer consequences for his crime, but he will not have to continually worry about the truth being revealed. The truth is known, and the victim’s family can now move forward knowing who was responsible for the death of their loved one. It has been more than 20 years since I received a letter from a serial murderer. He had been a truck driver and had murdered several people across the country. However, he came to a point where he could not live with what he had done and he turned to God. He contacted authorities and confessed to his crimes. Truth being revealed has allowed him to have freedom in Christ, even though he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

In this election season, with the next President of the United States soon to be elected, it seems as though every candidate at times tries to hide the truth. The media also is a part of the deception with only six percent of the people in the country trusting the media. It is frustrating trying to perceive what is true, and what is not true. How refreshing it would be if every candidate and the media could always be counted on to tell the truth. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to always be able to believe what our government tells us?

Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican there appears to be discontent within the parties. Many members of both parties are unhappy with the “Establishment.” I believe that part of this discontentment flows from the truth being hidden. Instead of truth we see the calling of evil good, and good evil. Nothing good will come from this hiding of the truth. That is exactly what Isaiah is saying and it is what the Psalmist is indicating in a reverse kind of way. I agree with what Matthew Henry says in his commentary where he says,“When there is no truth nor mercy all goes to ruin.” The Psalmist is saying that when there is truth and mercy, “…the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase.” May truth be revealed across our nation!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.19.16

Run

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. – 1 Corinthians 10:13-14 NKJV.

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. – 1 Corinthians 6:18 NKJV.

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. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. – 1 Timothy 6:10-11 NKJV.

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. – 2 Timothy 2:22 NKJV.

I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word. – Psalm 119:147 NKJV.

In December 2015, there was an attempted armed robbery of a cellphone store in Springfield, Massachusetts. At least two people were involved, with the first robber entering the store appearing to be just another customer. Shortly after the first robber entered the store, employees heard a loud banging on the back door. This was when the first robber jumped over the counter brandishing a handgun. The robber then ran over to the back door to let his accomplice into the store. This was when the robbery went badly for the robbers. The two employees took advantage of this situation by screaming, and running out the front door of the store. The screaming for help scared the second robber who left the store; the first robber decided to leave the scene too, without taking anything. There was a suspect arrested almost immediately based on a photo from the surveillance system. However, this man was later cleared, because of his being able to prove he was at another store during the time of the robbery. (Masslive 12.09.15; The Republican 02.16.16)

The employees of the cellphone store did two things right during the attempted robbery. They screamed for help, which frightened off the second robber, and while they had the opportunity they fled out the front door. When we are faced with temptation or danger these two things can make a difference in your survival.

When faced with temptation our spiritual response should include two things. What are those two things? First, we should cry out for help, ask our God to help us as did the Psalmist (Psalm 119:147). Second, we should flee, run from the temptation. When we think of temptation the first thing we think of is the kind of temptation Joseph faced with Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39). However, there is another temptation that can be just as powerful in its own way. Idolatry, putting money or anything other than God first (Matthew 6:33) in your life is a great temptation.

When you are tempted to succumb to a temptation remember this: “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:20).” Remember you belong to God, cry out for His help, and run from the evil temptation.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.18.16

Close the Door

Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil (Do not give the devil an opportunity – AMP). 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. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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 4:25-32 NKJV.

Just another morning for a PNC bank manager in Zebulon, North Carolina; until, he spotted a man wearing a mask, gloves, hoodie, and holding a gun. The bank manager sprang into action; he did not have time to lock the door so he held onto the door while the robber tried to pull the door open. It was a tug-of-war, but the manager won and the robber finally gave up and ran away. Thankfully, the robber did not fire his gun to try to gain entry. You just never know what may happen on a Monday morning! (ABC News; Fox News; AP 01.28.16)

What would have happened if the bank manager had not held the door closed preventing the robber from entering the bank? Most likely the robber would have entered the bank and demanded money. It is impossible to know how that scenario would have worked out. If the robber immediately was given all of the money he demanded and no one interfered the robbery may have ended without anyone being hurt. However, we know that sometimes robbers do not act rationally. One of the employees may have irritated him in some way resulting in the robber shooting the employee.

Just one week before the attempted robbery in North Carolina there was a bank robbery in Eufaula, Oklahoma. In Eufaula, the bank manager was shot and killed, a teller was shot but survived, and another employee was taken hostage. The robber was killed in a shootout with police and the hostage was also shot, but survived. Once the robber has entered through the open door there is no way to predict the damage that may occur.

In Ephesians 4 we are told not to give place to the devil, not to give the devil an opportunity. What happens if we give the devil an opportunity? There is no way to know for sure the damage that he will do. One thing for sure is that the devil will cause all of the damage in your life and the lives of those you care about that he possibly can. We open up the door for the devil when we sin. When we sin it’s like we have invited the devil to come in and cause us trouble; and, that old devil is very good at causing trouble, at creating havoc in lives. Close the door! Don’t give place to the devil! Don’t give the devil an opportunity to destroy your life! James 4:7-8a tells us how to close the door, “…submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.15.16

Our Hiding Place - Redux

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My HAND. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s HAND. I and My Father are one.” – John 10:25-30 NKJV.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 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 8:37-39 NKJV.

An escaped inmate in Texas appears to have scored a first. Wesley Evans hid from law enforcement in a dishwasher! He was able to hide so well that the first search of his girlfriend’s apartment was unsuccessful. However, someone called in an anonymous tip, and the second search succeeded in the capture of the 6’ tall 20-year-old with his slender body folded up inside of a dishwasher. Evans apparently took the racks out of the dishwasher to be able to hide inside. Doing a google search I was unable to find any other occurrence of a fugitive hiding in a dishwasher. A baby has hid inside of a dishwasher and a puppy, but no fugitives. The most popular hiding place for fugitives inside of a house is the clothes dryer. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of people have hidden inside of clothes dryers. You can look at the first “Our Hiding Place” devotional (02.06.12) to read of some of those fugitives hiding out in clothes dryers. (New York Daily News 04.15.16; Reuters 04.14.16; WALB News 04.13.16)

It is our vulnerable human condition that requires at times that we find somewhere, some place to hide; even if you are not an escaped inmate, or on the run from the authorities. Where do we go, what do we do when our world falls apart? What do we do when we unexpectedly lose or job and the bills are due with no way to pay them? If you are employed by a non-governmental employer, you know that your job can end at the whim of your boss. It is not much fun to be called into a meeting and be told that your services are no longer needed. Especially when you really do need the job and have no idea where to turn to find another one.

What do you do, where do you turn when your health suddenly takes a turn for the worse? A friend of ours thought she had a cold, but after a visit to her doctor and tests found that she had stage four cancer. My wife thought she had strained a muscle, but found out she had a large ovarian tumor and stage three cancer. In 2003, I was mowing the lawn one day and the next I was in hospital with ischemic colitis; it was nine days later before I was released from the hospital. So many people have experienced far worse health conditions that were not survivable or are chronic debilitating conditions. You need a hiding place when you receive news like that.

What do you do when you have a child born with a physical or mental handicap? What do you do when your child or your spouse suddenly dies? You need a hiding place. There are countless other human conditions that require that we need some place to hide away for a time. Where do we go what do we do when we need that hiding place? My hiding place has always been to turn to God to place myself in His hand, for His will to be done. He has never failed me, and He will not fail you. God has the power to hold you together, and take you step by step through the worst that this world can bring into your life. Place yourself in the hand of God, in the center of God’s love; that is the only hiding place that really works. Of course, you can hide in a dishwasher, but it won’t do you very much good!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.14.16

Procrastination

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. – Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV.

One of the worst of my acts of procrastination occurred while I was in college. I had to write a paper for a personnel management class. It wasn’t like this was suddenly assigned; it was assigned at the beginning of the course with the deadline for it given. However, I waited until the Friday before the Monday it was due to begin writing the thing. Thirty hours later I had finished the monster and presented the paper on time Monday morning. Sadly, the professor thought the work was too good for me to have written it, and gave me only a marginal grade for the work. Maybe if I had been working on the paper the entire semester, I would have scored higher on the tests; participated more in class, and then the professor would have believed I could have written the paper.

On a site called “Worst Procrastination Stories” I found another person who did something similar who says, “I did a 22,000 word document in 36 hours after having four months to do the work.” Of course, procrastinating about some things can get you into real trouble like the person who wrote, “Not doing my taxes for two years. Apparently Canada Revenue doesn’t like that. Who knew??” For those who don’t know, the IRS here in the US doesn’t like procrastinators either. So, for all you procrastinators the good news for US taxpayers is you have until the 18th of April this year to file your tax return.

Procrastination is a killer. It is a killer of your peace of mind and a creator of worry. The semester I was taking my personnel management class I had to worry the entire semester about writing that paper. I put it off, and put it off, and it created anxiety in my life. That’s what procrastination does.

Is there a cure for procrastination? Possibly; however, it is not a one and done kind of thing. The cure for procrastination is rooted in our relationship with our Lord. As we walk with our Lord and Savior listening for His Voice we will have a desire to do our best, which includes not giving in to procrastination. Whatever it is that we are doing, it should be God honoring, and when we do it we are serving the Lord. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” Then, as we walk through each day with our Lord we will find “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.13.16

Oblivious

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. – 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NKJV.

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. – Galatians 1:3-5 NKJV.

The video of a bear chasing a snowboarder in Japan has gone viral! If you haven’t seen it yet you probably will soon! Kelly Murphy was taking a video selfie of herself snowboarding down a mountain in Japan when a bear chasing her was captured on video. Murphy was at the Hakuba 47 winter sports park near Nagano in Japan. Murphy in her YouTube post of the video writes: “OMG! I was going through my snowboarding videos and I found a bear chasing me!!! I nearly got eaten!!!” The bear on the video finally gives up the chase as Murphy speeds down the mountain oblivious to the danger singing a Rihanna song.

Now some have questioned the authenticity of the video saying the bear is a brown bear when it is more likely if there had been a bear, it would have been a black bear, although there could be brown bears in the area. Really? Well, I didn’t even know there were bears in Japan and I couldn’t tell whether it was a brown bear or a black bear. Likely, Kelly Murphy had no idea there were bears in Japan either. Murphy told CNET: “The video is real, I couldn't believe it myself when I watched it back but there it was! So scary! I'm going to stick to the easy slopes with my friends from now on, no more back country runs.”(UPI 04.13.16: theguardian 04.13.16; various other news venues including CNET)

Kelly Murphy being chased unknowingly obliviously by the bear (Whether true or not.) could describe spiritually the lost that the god of this world, the devil, is chasing seeking to destroy them (John 10:10a). The lost, those without Christ Jesus as their Savior, are blinded to their need of salvation. The lost are flying down the mountain of life with the devil blinding them from seeing that they are headed for the lake of fire and eternal damnation.

What can be done to help these poor helpless creatures, the lost, headed for eternal doom? What can I do, what can you do? We can pray for them! We can pray that Almighty God will remove their spiritual blindness before it is everlastingly too late. Jesus prayed for the lost, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).” We can pray that God will send witnesses across their paths to share the truth with them (Matthew 9:37-38). We can be one of those witnesses to the lost (2 Corinthians 5:11). We can live holy lives that will point the lost toward our Lord and Savior as we are told in Jude 1:20-23, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” The lost may be oblivious to the danger that they are in, but we are not! Let us do what we can to save them!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.12.16

Desires of the Heart

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 in heritance; for you serve the Lord Christ - Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV.

The NIV puts Colossians 3:23 as: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the DESIRES OF YOUR HEART. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. – Psalm 37:1-6 NKJV.

Kevin Abosch is one of the most sought after photographers in the world. Kevin has photographed some of the most famous actors and actresses. He has also photographed many successful business people. However, Kevin’s real passion is taking photos of potatoes. Can you make money do that? Apparently, Kevin is able to do that. He recently sold one of his potato photos for more than one million dollars. His studio has this statement about the potato obsession: “Kevin likes potatoes because they, like people, are all different yet immediately identifiable as being essentially of the same species.” (Business Insider 01.20.16)

What is it that you are passionate about? If it is something that honors God, we are given a great promise in Psalm 37:4 that He will give us the desires of our heart. Now I may have a desire to take photos of potatoes and make millions of dollars; but I know, and you know, that this is not a desire of the heart that God is talking about. Psalm 37 desires of the heart are desires that God has placed inside of us. This kind of a heart desire is like the call of God upon the heart of Abraham. Stephen tells of Abraham’s call, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell (Acts 7:2-4 NKJV).”

It is easy to become distracted from where our true focus in life should be. There are the allures of the world; and, our neighbors and friends may have more than we do stirring up envy and jealousy. There are evil people who will attack you or cheat you. This has happened to me at times that I have been attacked or cheated. Sometimes, these things are happening and we do not become aware of them until later. But it still hurts, that even people you have trusted, and say they are believers could act in such harmful ways. God tells us what to do when we are in these situations: “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” Don’t fret; don’t vex your righteous soul as Lot did (2 Peter 2:7-8) with the things of this world or the actions of the evil-hearted. Instead, do this: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the DESIRES OF YOUR HEART.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.11.16

Buying Hell

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “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. 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? 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 16:24-17 NKJV.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:11-14 NKJV.

Hell is for sale, Hell, Michigan that is, and the price is a bargain having dropped from $1.3 million to just $900,000. Hell consists of five acres of commercial property and includes businesses along with the rights to several really hot slogans. One of those slogans is: “Beer in Hell is safer than water in Flint.” Or, if you don’t like that one, how about “Hell is safer than Detroit”? In lovely downtown Hell, there is the Hell Hole Bar, along with the Chapel of Love, and the Screams Ice Cream Shop. John Colone, the unofficial mayor, or is that devil-in-charge, is “willing to work with anyone.” Who wouldn’t want to own the town that has hosted the longest funeral hearse parade in the world?(Detroit Metro Time 03.11.16; Detroit Free Press 03.11.16; Livingston Daily 03.11.16)

What is the price of actually buying a reserved place in the Biblical lake of fire? The devil is running a fire sale; it will only cost you…everything. The only cost is the loss of your own soul; lose your soul, and experience the “second death.” What a deal!

In order, to complete your purchase of a guaranteed participation in the “second death” experience there are some obstacles you will need to avoid. You will need to avoid reading the Bible; you will need to avoid listening to any of those crazy Bible thumping preachers, and stay out of those Bible believing churches. You must also avoid listening to any of those testimonies Christians always want to corner you and share. It is an obstacle course, but if you are really really determined to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire you can do it. You can lose your soul!

I don’t know about you, but buying a place in Hell appears to be far too high a price to pay. The sticker price on a place in Hell requires losing your soul, experiencing a second death, and burning for eternity. Seems like the price of Hell is a far too high to me.

If the price of Hell is more than you want to pay, maybe you should consider Heaven as an alternative. The cost is far lower, in fact while “the wages of sin is death…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).” What a deal! Receive Jesus as your Savior by believing in Him (John 1:12; John 3:16) and your name will be written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life.” Your place in Heaven, New Jerusalem, will then be guaranteed for eternity.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.08.16

Stealing the Sign

This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. – Acts 24:16 NKJV.

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience…. – 1 Timothy 1:18-19a NKJV.

For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, CLEANSE YOUR CONSCIENCE from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. – Hebrews 9:13-15 NKJV.

Signs are often the target of thieves, the more unusual the sign the more likely it is to be stolen. Reportedly, the most stolen sign (Actually two signs) is the US 1 Highway sign with the 0 Mile Marker sign in Key West, Florida. Although there is a road sign in Embden, Maine that may be stolen just as frequently. The “Katie’s C_____ Road” sign has cost the city so much money to replace that they want to rename the road. Some road signs are more important than others, and the removal of them, or poor maintenance of them can be dangerous. Remove a “Dead End” sign and someone could end up dead. When I ran off a dead end when I was a teenager, it would have been nice if there had been a sign. When I was leaving a doctor’s office Wednesday, the street is one way, and I was puzzled for a moment as to why the sign pointed in the wrong direction. Apparently, the top screw holding the “One Way” sign in place had come out causing the sign to point the wrong way.

New Smyrna Beach Police Department in Florida had a nice surprise this week and they posted this on their website: “The City of New Smyrna Beach recently received a strange package in the mail containing a large metal sign that said, NEW SMYRNA BEACH SAYS NO TO DRUGS. Taped to the sign was a hand written note which said: ‘Please accept this sign and funds to reinstall it, as well as my apologies. Sometime in the late 80’s, I stole this sign in a fit of youthful exuberance. Forgive Me!’ Also inside the package was a money order for $50.” (New Smyrna Beach Police Department 04.06.16) The person who stole and returned this sign obviously had a guilty conscience, and it had been eating on him for 30 years. Of course, some people are not bothered by a guilty conscience like the man who failed to return a VHS tape to the rental store 18 years earlier. When he was stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation it was discovered that there was a warrant for his arrest. The video rental store was no longer in business, but he still had to pay a $200 fine, and suffer the indignity of being arrested.

Dictionary dot com gives these definitions for the conscience: “the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action; the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual; and, an inhibiting sense of what is prudent.” I don’t know if you have ever experienced a guilty conscience, but I have. It is not a pleasant experience. It took 30 years before the man who had stolen the sign in Smyrna Beach returned it. This reveals the convicting unrelenting power of the conscience, and why we should avoid doing or saying anything that we will regret. Let us say with the apostle Paul: “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.07.16

Bridal Bandits

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. – Ephesians 5:25-27 NKJV.

The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery ALL THE NATIONS WERE DECEIVED. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth. – Revelation 18:23-24 NKJV.

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 11:2 NKJV.

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. – 2 Peter 2:1-3 NKJV.

For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. – 2 Peter 2:18-19 NKJV.

Brides, grooms, and wedding guests can now relax; the Bridal Bandit has been caught and given a seven year prison sentence. 50-year-old Denise Gunderson is the Bridal Bandit and as she posed as a guest she would steal everything she could. Denise stole cash, wallets, purses, and credit cards. She stole from the actual wedding guests and from bride and groom. She made fraudulent charges of thousands of dollars on the stolen credit cards. Most of the thefts were in San Diego County, although she was arrested in December for theft of a wallet at a church in Las Vegas. Denise admitted to having three prior felony convictions; however, since she used several aliases she may have had more. After she was arrested it was discovered there were warrants for her arrest already in San Diego and Riverside counties in California. (7SanDiego 04.06.16; KNSDtv; ABCNews; 10News 12.11.15)

Thankfully, I never had a bridal bandit attend any of the weddings I have officiated. However, there has been another type of bridal bandit show up at the churches where I have been the pastor. Let me explain. The church, which is not a building; but all born again believers, is the Bride of Christ. This picture of believers as God’s bride is in the Old Testament too as Isaiah 65:2 says, “And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” In Hosea 2:19 God says, “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy.” What would you call someone who leads believers away from the truth of the gospel? In 2 Peter we see that God calls them “false prophets” and “false teachers.”

These bridal bandits (false prophets and false teachers) work hard at stealing away the truth and joy of believers distorting the gospel, adding in false doctrines, and saying works are needed for salvation. Some of the bridal bandits I have encountered, spread the lie that you can live a perfect life, and must live without any sin to have salvation. In other words everything you think, do or say, or don’t do or say has to be without sin. This is a lie. Other bridal bandits demand that you work your way to Heaven by keeping certain rituals. Some claim that Jesus was not God, just an angel, or just a good teacher or not fully human and fully God. The lies of bridal bandits continue to multiply, but it doesn’t make them true. The good news is that there will be a day of judgment for the bridal bandits as we are told in the Book of Revelation.

How can we avoid becoming a victim of the bridal bandits? We must follow the example of the Bereans, “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).” Search the Scriptures, study the Scriptures, memorize the Scriptures, and the bridal bandits will find it very hard to make you one of their victims.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.06.16

Forgotten Treasure

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. – Matthew 13:44 NKJV.

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. – 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NKJV.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises…. – 2 Peter 1:2-4a NKJV.

…add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. – 2 Peter 1:5b-9 NKJV.

In Logan, Pennsylvania police have a mystery on their hands, who put the jewels in the handbag? A woman shopping at a Boscov’s store bought a new purse; inside of the purse, she discovered a treasure of jewelry including necklaces, rings, watches and bracelets. The theory is that the purse was purchased previously, and returned to the store for some reason. The first purchaser apparently forgot about the treasure she had stored inside of the purse. The second purchaser of the purse turned the treasure over to the police hoping the owner will be found. (YahooNews 03.29.16)

It does seem strange that you could forget about a treasure of jewels. However, we humans are forgetful beings, especially about God. The children of Israel had this repeated problem in the Book of Judges. As times were good they would forget about their need for God and begin to worship false gods. When times grew difficult for them, usually because of a ruler that had become harsh, they remembered their God and would cry out to Him for help. God would respond by sending a deliverer, a judge who would lead them to freedom. This cycle was repeated many times. Why? Because they would forget about their need for the One True God.

We have the same problem, when times are good we tend to forget about our need for God. How can we forget about such a great treasure? Yet, God says through the apostle Peter that if we lack virtue, self-control, godliness, kindness, and love there is a problem. The problem is that we have forgotten about the treasure, forgotten that we were cleansed from our old sins. We have forgotten that in our earthen vessel dwells the Holy Spirit, there is no greater treasure. Let us not forget our Treasure!

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.05.16

The To-Do-List

A worthless person, a wicked man,
Walks with a perverse mouth;
He winks with his eyes,
He shuffles his feet,
He points with his fingers;
Perversity is in his heart,
HE DEVISES EVIL CONTINUALLY,
He sows discord.
Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly;
Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.

These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A HEART THAT DEVISES WICKED PLANS,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren. – Proverbs 6:12-19 NKJV.

The To-Do-List is a basic personal and business management tool for helping to manage your life. We’ve probably all used it at some point in time. Kristina Green and Gary Withers, who live in San Diego, are two people who also use the To-Do-List. On a Tuesday afternoon, they were busy taking care of one of the items on their list as they followed a mail delivery truck. The driver noticed a Dodge Charger following him, and also that after he delivered a package someone from the Charger would run up to the house and grab the package and the mail. The delivery truck driver called 9-1-1 and Sheriff’s deputies arrested the couple who were on probation for theft.

Inside of the Dodge Charger deputies found heroin, meth, stolen mail, a loaded firearm along with a To-Do-List. The To-Do-List included: apply for welfare, shoplift, steal mail, and kiss Mom. (7SanDiego 12.15.15; Times of San Diego 12.15.15 and various other news venues) Can you imagine being at a point in your life where your To-Do-List includes shoplifting and stealing mail? At least they were not planning to murder someone.

When you leave God out of your life the result is that your To-Do-List begins to fill up with not so good things, things which God hates. This will not end well as the writer of Proverbs points out: “Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.” Will the arrest of Gary and Kristina stop their downward spiral? It is unlikely, although possible if they turn to God. The sad thing about Gary and Kristina is that if they have children, the children will be trained to do the same evil things, and look upon them as being good things. Even their grandchildren will also make evil plans, and do evil things. Sad to even think about, but I have seen the truth of this too many times.

What is on your To-Do-List? Maybe you ought to take a look at it and make sure there isn’t an evil plan or two on there. Here are some things that you may want to include if they are not on your To-Do-List already: “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another. ‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. 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. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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 4:25-32 NKJV).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.04.16

Selfishness - The Human Default Setting

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. – Philippians 2:3 NKJV.

The Message puts Philippians 2:3 as: If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Last week, a plane flying from Hawaii to Japan had a problem passenger onboard and was forced to turn around. A 72-year-old man did not want to sit in his seat while his wife and others were eating. So, he went to the galley in the back of the plane and began doing yoga. The crew ordered him to stop and to return to his seat, he refused. Marines onboard the plane, were able to escort the South Korean, Hyongtae Pae back to his seat, although Pae did violently resist by trying to bite them. Pae has been charged with “Interfering with the crew of an aircraft” and he was released after posting a $25,000 bond. An FBI Spokesman Tom Simon says, “While yoga and meditation can be beneficial activities, it doesn't negate the need to obey flight crew instructions while in the air.” (AP 03.30.16; Reuters 03.31.16; CNN 03.31.16)

It does appear that Hyongtae Pae has some mental issues, but this is an example of what some will do to have their own way. Pae did not care what those in authority wanted him to do, and he did not care what his own wife wanted him to do. He did not care that he was violating the law, he knew what he wanted and he was going to do it, regardless of the consequences. Well there are some consequences in Pae’s situation, and he could even be incarcerated for a substantial period of time, although that is unlikely.

I did a Google search this morning for “getting your way” and was surprised to find 334,000 results for the search. At the very top of the list of search results was: “The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way: How to Speak, Write, Present, Persuade, Influence, and Sell Your Point of View to Others.” Then Monster dot com has the article “Five Tips for Getting Your Way Without Authority.” And there is even a song “Getting Your Way” by the English rock band, Mansun, and here are a few of the lyrics: “So proud when you get up and dance, Move centre on stage, Make sure that everybody can see, Exposure's maximum, Subconsciously, When you know that you are sitting on, Top of the tree.”

Getting your own way is the default setting for us human beings. Our natural nature is one of selfishness, looking out for number one: me, my, myself, before anyone or anything else. To change the default setting from selfishness to humility we must do this: “…put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them (Colossians 3:5-7 NKJV).” But how do we do this? We must do what we are told here in Colossians 3:1-2: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.01.16

Are You Cinderella?

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 NKJV.

And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. – Revelation 19:16 NKJV. (See also 1 Timothy 6:15)

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” – Revelation 21:9 NKJV.

We remember the fairy tale of Cinderella and the Prince who finds the slipper she left behind. The slipper only fits the foot of Cinderella who becomes a Princess living happily ever after with the Prince. In Taiwan, there is now a beautiful glass slipper church 55 feet tall. It will be used primarily for weddings. The glass slipper church was inspired in part by the Cinderella story, but also by another well-known story in Taiwan. In the 1960s a 24-year-old woman named Wang was to be married, but she contracted the disease known as Blackfoot disease. The United States National Library of Medicine in an abstract says this about the disease: “Blackfoot disease is an endemic peripheral vascular disease found among the inhabitants of a limited area on the southwest coast of Taiwan, where artesian well water with a high concentration of arsenic has been used for more than eighty years.” The sad story of the young woman in Taiwan is that her legs had to be amputated. Her wedding was cancelled, she never married, and she lived the rest of her life in a church. (BBC 01.15.16)

There are many versions of the Cinderella story in many cultures of the downtrodden persecuted heroine being raised up from the lowest of the low to become royalty. The earliest known secular variant of the Cinderella story was written in 7 B.C. about Rhodopis. Rhodopis was a Greek slave girl who was raised up from slavery to marry the king of Egypt. However, it may be that all of these stories are based on the Biblical story of Esther who won the royal beauty contest (Esther 2:1-4) to become the queen of King Ahasuerus aka King Xerxes, ruling Persia from 486 to 464 B.C., one of the most greatest monarchs of the ancient world. This occurred while the Jewish people were in captivity. In this original Cinderella story God has a plan for this young orphan Jewish woman born in captivity and raised by her cousin or uncle Mordecai. Through Esther, all of the Jewish people are saved from the plot by the evil Haman who sought to destroy them.

Esther must risk her life to save her race by entering the presence of the king uninvited to tell him of the evil plot by Haman. Mordecai tells her: “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)?”

If you have received Jesus as your Savior (John 1:12) you have been “born again” into the royal family of the King of kings and Lord of lords. You are the Cinderella princess or the Cinderella prince. Just like God had a great plan for Esther’s life, God has a great plan for your life. Don’t miss out on God’s great plan! For “who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.31.16

Save me, O God!

The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. – Psalm 37:31 NKJV.

For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity. – Proverbs 24:16 NKJV.

Ropoto is a Greek town that has slid and sank out of existence. The town was located on a hilltop and everything seemed fine until 2012. On April 12, 2012, there was a landslide which made homes and buildings slide down the hillside. The town is also sinking a foot or so every year. There are still buildings there, but they are uninhabitable leaning this way and that. The town’s infrastructure was destroyed ruining the water system and electrical. About 300 families were forced out of their homes, some living in very difficult situations at first in barns. No one in the town wanted to leave their homes, but they were forced out by the disaster along with the threat of additional landslides. Yorgos Roubies narrates the tragic story in a documentary which GreekReporter dot com has produced. Roubies says, “The churches, everything was gone, there’s not even a cafe here. If someone gets sick, they won’t even be able to find a glass of water. We had never seen such a disaster.”

It is hard to imagine seeing your home slide down a hill and suddenly having no place to live. Of course, the town of Ropoto is not the only town or city to experience disaster. Disasters are a constant upon Planet Earth with mudslides, landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, sinkholes, floods and I am sure there are also other disastrous situations. Besides natural causes of disasters there are manmade causes of disasters including war, environmental, and other things.

In our lives we may at times feel as though we are in the midst of a landslide sliding and sinking deeper and deeper. We are not alone in experiencing this kind of thing as the Psalmist cries out, “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God (Psalm 69:1-3).” The Psalmists situation was one that he had no control of, it was not the result of sin. Psalm 69 is a messianic psalm and Jesus who was tempted at all points without sin applied verse 4 to Himself (In John 15:25): “Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they are mighty who would destroy me, being my enemies wrongfully; though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it (Psalm 69:4).”

In other times this falling, sliding, and sinking in our lives comes about as a result of sin. In Proverbs 24:16 we see the possibilities for those who know God are different from those who do not know God. The righteous, the believers, even though they sin can repent of their sin and rise again to walk with their God. Once you have repented, storing up God’s Word in your heart will stop the slide, and will become steps for you to climb out of the pit (Psalm 37:31; Psalm 119:9,11). The wicked, the unbelievers, when they fall into sin have no desire to turn to God, they have no desire to repent and do not rise again.

Whatever the cause of your falling, sliding, or sinking the way out is to cry out to your God as did the Psalmist: “Save me, O God!”

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.30.16

The Overflow of Trash

For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:43-45 NKJV.

The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness (Trash – NLT). – Proverbs 15:14 NKJV.

Picture in your mind a river of white winding through hundreds of yards of the city of Jdeideh, a suburb of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. At first glance, it is almost beautiful until you realize that the white is the result of thousands, maybe even millions of white bags filled with trash. The closer you come to the river of trash, the more the smell becomes almost unbearable. You wonder how can people live with this river of stinking trash flowing by their homes? The trash river came about when the main city landfill was closed down in July 2015. One man said, “This used to be such a beautiful place, but look at it now. We can’t even walk by it.”

The truth is that the trash is affecting the health of the people by flushing toxins into the water system, and with warmer weather airborne toxins will become problematic. There could be a resulting rise in cancer rates. People are angry, even rioting at times. The government is trying to find a way of disposing of the trash, but have not yet succeeded. (The Guardian; CNN)

In Luke 6 Jesus speaks of trees bearing good and bad fruit. He then speaks of hearts that overflow with good or evil. Matthew Henry says that the tree represents the heart. Jesus is indicating that to have good fruit on the tree of our heart, and to have an overflow of good treasure flowing from our lives; there must be good treasure, good fruit stored up in our hearts.

Proverbs 15:14 speaks of fools who feed on trash, who store up trash in their lives. This brings to mind the ungodly of Psalm 1:4 who are “like the chaff which the wind drives away.” The Bible is clear about how to avoid being an unfruitful tree, on how to avoid having an overflow of evil coming from your life, to avoid being like the chaff that the wind blows away. Psalm 1:1-3 tells us what to do: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper."

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.29.16

Building Momentum

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. – Colossians 3:23 NKJV.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. – James 1:22 NKJV.

It has been said that if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it, because they know how to get things done. There is a recent study which lends credence to this. The study shows that if a person is busy this tends to create momentum leading to more things being accomplished.

The reverse of building the momentum of accomplishment would be of doing less and less until nothing is accomplished. Procrastinators and those experiencing depression know what it is like to arrive at a standstill. How do you ever start moving when you are at a dead stop? How do you rise up out of the pit of depression when it feels like you have nothing to live for?

Having done my share of procrastination and at one point in my life experiencing depression I know it is hard to start moving again once the momentum has ceased. The way out of the procrastination and the depression is action. The way out of that life stoppage is by doing. This is where we as believers must have the attitude of our doing being unto the Lord. “Whatever you do” Paul says “do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” The Message gives this translation of Colossians 3:23, but really it is more of a commentary: “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ.”

Once you take that first step of action, the next step is easier, and the one after that is even easier as every step builds momentum. In addition, you will generally find that change in feelings follow action. Each step you take as the Lord leads you will improve your attitude and will empower you. If you have come to a standstill in life, bow before the Lord asking for His help, and then rise up to take that first step of action in His power that will change your life.

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.28.16

Worldly Noise

Woe to the multitude of many people who make a noise like the roar of the seas, and to the rushing of nations that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; but God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, and be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. – Isaiah 17:12-13 NKJV.

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” – Psalm 2:1-6 NKJV.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is located three miles south of downtown Washington D.C. It is the closest airport to the capital. During the last year or so flight patterns over and around the airport have been changed and enlarged. These changes of flight patterns have resulted in 8,670 noise complaints in the last year. However, 6,500 of those complaints were made by just one individual averaging about 18 per day. But there have been no reports of any changes in the flight patterns in response to the complaints. (NewsBeatSocial 03.10.16; Wikipedia)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could shut out completely the noise of the world? It is simply not possible unless we live in a cave in a very remote place with no modern conveniences. Oh, but it would be nice to have a mute button for everything evil.

Evil driven people bomb and shoot others, and nations plot to destroy other nations. “What will come of all of their evil? Here is what God will do: He who sits in the heavens shall LAUGH; the Lord shall hold them in DERISION. Then He shall speak to them in His WRATH, and distress them in His deep displeasure: ‘Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2:4-6).’”

Yes, there is evil lurking in this world seeking to attack us making a lot of noise, but God has our six. Jesus Christ the King of kings is alive and well at the right hand of the Father. As we are bombarded with all the noise of the world, as we face the threats against us we need to have the attitude of the apostle Paul: “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1).” Let us overcome this noise, this evil of the present world as will the saints of the Book of Revelation: “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 (so much as to shrink from death – NIV) (Revelation 12:11).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.25.16

What's so Good About Good Friday

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:

JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. – John 19:17-20 NKJV.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. – John 19:28-30 NKJV.

Usually when we think of a good day we are thinking of a day like Peggy Lee described in the song she wrote, “It’s a Good Day.” The song was published in 1946 and versions of it were recorded by Judy Garland and Perry Como. Here are the lyrics:

It’s a Good Day:

Yes, it's a good day for singing a song, and it's a good day for moving along; Yes, it's a good day, how could anything be wrong, A good day from morning' till night

Yes, it's a good day for shining your shoes, and it's a good day for losing the blues; Everything to gain and nothing' to lose, A good day from morning' till night

I said to the Sun, "Good morning sun Rise and shine today" You know you've gotta get going If you're gonna make a showin' And you you've got the right of way.

'Cause it's a good day for paying your bills; And it's a good day for curing your ills, So take a deep breath and throw away the pills; 'Cause it's a good day from morning' till night.

That’s the kind of day that we all want to have every day. However, that surely was not the kind of day that Jesus had on Good Friday. Physically for Jesus it was a nightmare of a day being whipped, humiliated and crucified unjustly on a cruel Roman cross. Now in anyone’s mind that is a BAD day!

Spiritually for Jesus it was just the opposite of a bad day, it was a great day! That Friday was the day when the mission would be completed; that was the day when Jesus could cry from the cross, “It is finished!” That was finally the day when He would die “once for all (Romans 6:10).” That was the day when Jesus, “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).”

It is thought that the word “good” originally meant “holy” in old English. The day Jesus was crucified is indeed good in the sense that it is holy as Jesus “entered the MOST HOLY PLACE once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” for you and me and all those who believe upon the Name of Jesus. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13).”

Good Friday was the best day, the most wonderful day, the most good day in all of human history! On this Good Friday let us praise our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.24.16

The Truth of Easter

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” – Matthew 28:1-10 NKJV.

Since September 2001, things have changed as to how many of us live our lives. We are more careful, more cautious aware of our surroundings when we leave our homes. Even in flyover country in United States where I live we know terrorist attacks from one group or another are possible. Many either carry a weapon or have one nearby. If you plan to fly, arrival at the airport a few hours early is now prudent. Also, we now know from Brussels that even walking into an airport exposes you to the risk of a terrorist attack.

Things have not changed for the better in the years since the towers came down. Terrorists have become bolder in their senseless horrific acts against the innocent. One of those innocents is a 19-year-old American citizen who had close brushes with death at the Boston Bombing, the Paris Massacre, and now at the Brussels attack where he received some non-life threatening injuries. If this young man could post his future itinerary we might all know where not to be…. Why some are spared and some die in these attacks is something that only God knows for sure. But make no mistake; God is not responsible for these evil acts perpetrated upon the innocent. This evil flows from Satan, the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), into the lives of the demonically blinded and deceived.

The world this Easter is different from the Easter we celebrated prior to 2001. The world may have changed in 2001, but the meaning of Easter is still the same. The events of that Resurrection Day almost 2000 years ago speak to us this truth: Jesus Christ is the Lord of Lords, and the King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15)! He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)!” That first Resurrection Day gives us hope that evil has been defeated even though the battle still rages. There will come a day when every knee shall bow at the Name of Jesus (Philippians 2:10). There will come a day when evil will be no more upon this earth and we will live in peace (Revelation 21). The Truth of Easter is that the pain and suffering of this present world is a temporary condition for all those who place their faith in Jesus Christ.

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.23.16

God is on Your Side

Read Psalm 118

I can remember in grade school playing games like Red Rover. Games like that required that there be two teams with the leader of each team choosing one at a time those who would be on their side. In those days at my school there was no teacher supervision of that process, or of the playing of the game. I always dreaded those times, hoping that I wouldn’t be the last one chosen! That would have been bad. If you were going to play the game you had to be on one side or the other.

In life who is on your side? Your spouse, your children, your parents, your co-workers, other members of your church, your pastor? You do have some people in life who are on your side. Most likely you are never as alone as it may sometimes seem. However, we need to remember that people are just people. Sometimes we humans do not always make the right decisions, even those who you think are on your side. Other people make mistakes just like you do and they have problems in their lives the same as you. There will be times when those that you believe to be on your side will fail to stand up for you. There will be times when you want their help, you ask for their help, for their support and those people will let you down. This is a sad fact of life that people will sometimes let you down.

When everything in life goes south and you wonder how you can go on, here’s a tool that you can use to help. Psalm 118:6 NKJV says, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” What can man do to you? What is the absolutely worst thing that can happen? The worst of the worst most likely will only occur in your life a few times over the course of a lifetime. If you can make it through it, you will have clear sailing for years. Here is something that can help you to survive. If you can come to the point where you can accept the worst that can possibly happen – then you can move forward. You can move forward knowing that regardless of what other people may do or say, God is on your side. “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” GOD. IS. ON. YOUR. SIDE! And, God proved that once and for all when Jesus suffered and died for our sins on the cross.

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.22.16

Let Us Fight!

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. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. – Ephesians 6:10-13 NKJV.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV.

By now you have heard about the latest horrific terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium. More than 30 dead and 100 or more injured. There seems to be no end to the amount of misery that some humans want to inflict on other humans. This is not something that we want to think about; but we cannot, and must not ignore this threat to our peaceful existence.

We should be aware that terror is the physical manifestation of a spiritual war. Not only is there a war here on earth being fought, but there is also a spiritual war being waged. We may not be able to fight hand to hand with our terror enemies here on earth. However, we can and must engage our enemies on a spiritual basis. This is a war between all that is good and all that is evil and we cannot remain neutral. We can put our hands up in surrender and our enemy will still kill us.

We need not fight this war with worldly weapons when we have mighty spiritual weapons available. We have weapons with “divine power to demolish strongholds.” This is a war where most of us will not be on an earthly battlefield, but must fight this war on our knees “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 6:18).”

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17 NKJV).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.21.16

The Number 1

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matthew 6:33 NKJV.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:6-7 NKJV.

This morning I received two phone calls on my cellphone from the number “1”. I answered both calls, said “hello” but there was no reply. I did attempt to return the call and was given an error message by an automated voice. I thought that perhaps my son or one of my close friends had tried to call me. However, no one that I contacted had attempted to call this morning.

As I was considering who or what the number “1” was that had called me, it occurred to me that God should be first above all things. Now, I don’t believe that God actually tried to call my cellphone, but what if He had? What if God did routinely ring us up on our cellphones along with an occasional text message? That would be a game changer, wouldn’t it? Imagine, you are busy with your normal routine when your cellphone rings, it’s Number 1 again. When you answer, Number 1 asks, “Why didn’t you talk to Me this morning?” Before you can answer He’s gone, because Number 1 has a few more calls to make. Or, you are just about to commit your favorite sin, and your cellphone buzzes. It’s a text from Number 1 which says, “Don’t do it!” Or, you’re praying about what decision to make about a critical life choice and just at the providential moment your cellphone rings, it is Number 1 calling to tell you which is the right choice.

For reasons only God knows we walk by faith and not by sight while we are physically alive upon this earth. The incredible thing is as born again believers we are not walking alone; because “…you are the temple of God and …the Spirit of God dwells in you (1 Corinthians 3:16).” We are to see while upon this earth, with eyes of faith. Romans 10:16 tells us how we can improve our spiritual vision: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Did you take a few moments this morning to visit with Number 1? Did you pray and read His Word? Have you put Him first today?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

03.14.16

Deceivers

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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. - 2 Timothy 3:10-17 NKJV.

Trevor Tasker had romanced a 30-year-old woman through the Internet, but what a surprise was in store for him! He lived in South Carolina, and she lived in England. Trevor was full of hope when he flew to England to meet his new love. It must have been a surprise to discover that Wynema Shumate was not 30-something, or even 40-something, but 65-years-old. She was also several pounds heavier than Trevor had been led to believe. If that was not enough, Trevor found out that Wynema had been arrested earlier that same month when the body of her former roommate was found in a freezer at her home! She was only charged with the unauthorized removal of a dead body, because he did die of natural causes.

There have been a few deceivers in the financial world that have been revealed over the years. Bernard Madoff is perhaps at the top of the list of those who have inflicted damage on the unsuspecting. He is also typical of most deceivers in that he appears to have little, if any, remorse for his actions. Many good people were deceived by trusting others, who trusted others, who trusted Madoff. It the political world, there are also a multitude of deceivers who feel free to tell lies and half-truths again and again.

In love, finances, politics and the spiritual world there will always be someone trying to deceive you. As Paul told Timothy, “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” The apostle Paul gave Timothy some instructions about how to withstand those who would deceive him. Paul said: “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15).” Paul then becomes even more specific and says: “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 (2 Timothy 3:16-17).”

Very little of the time I spend watching television or surfing on the Internet is profitable. However, every moment I spend in God’s Word is profitable. It is profitable “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Spending time in God’s Word each day will make it much harder for someone to deceive you.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2002

02.22.16

Oops!

There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.’ - Luke 13:1-5.

Accidents happen even to the President of the United States (George W. Bush), and he was just eating a pretzel. President Bush was eating a pretzel when he choked on it, which resulted in a blocked air passage. He passed out, fell forward bruising his cheek, and biting his lip. As he was in the Whitehouse at the time, he received immediate aid from secret service personnel and his personal physician. There were no lasting effects from this accident, which occurred in January 2002. Accidents happen to all of us. I’m sure Vania Lucshesi would agree with that. Vania was just brushing her teeth when she tripped, and swallowed her full-size toothbrush. Thankfully, the doctors at the University Hospital in Cardiff, Wales were successful in removing the toothbrush. So, just remember, not only must you be careful while eating pretzels, but also while brushing your teeth.

We have heard it said, and have seen it with our own eyes, that bad things do happen even to “good” people. However, something we do not often think about is that good things sometimes happen to “bad” people. The words “bad” and “good” when used for people are a subjective judgment on our part, because the Bible says in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus says that we should be like our Father in heaven who “…makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45).”

The world we live in is not a perfect world. All of creation was corrupted because of the sin of Adam and Eve. Because creation was corrupted, bad things happen on planet Earth. In addition, each person has “free will.” Each individual is able to make decisions independent of God, and of other people. Because those decisions are sometimes poor decisions, they often result in additional bad things happening. In Ecclesiastes 7:17 we are told, “Do not be overly wicked, nor be foolish: why should you die before your time?” If we are in a metal fishing boat soaking wet during a lightning storm, and stand up waving a metal pole; we should not be surprised when lightning strikes, and we die before our time.

More important than understanding why accidents happen as Jesus points out, is our spiritual condition (Luke 13:1-5). If we do not turn from sin (repent) and turn to God receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior then we will perish spiritually.

Do you know Jesus as your Savior?

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.17.16

Time to Act

And the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” – Exodus 14:15-16 NKJV.

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out… - Numbers 13:30-32 NKJV.

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, “Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.’” – Joshua 1:10 NKJV.

It happened on the same night that the LORD said to him (Gideon), “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand.” – Judges 7:9 NKJV.

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 16:9-10 NKJV.

Anthony Ruelas is a hero, even though he received a two day suspension from school for what he did. At Gateway Middle School a girl was having an asthma attack, wheezing and gagging. The teacher emailed the school nurse and waited for the nurse to respond. When 15-year-old Anthony saw the girl fall out of her chair he took action saying “We ain’t got time to wait for no email from the nurse.” In spite of the teacher ordering him not to, Anthony picked up the girl and carried her to the school nurse’s office. The girl is doing well thanks to the prompt action of Anthony. Even though, Anthony received a two day suspension for defying the teacher, he says that he would “most definitely” do it again. (Washington Post; KCEN; KWTX 01.25.16)

Throughout the Bible we see the servants of God confronted with decisions requiring action. With Moses, when the Hebrews were trapped between the rapidly advancing Egyptian army and the Red Sea, Moses prayed. God’s response was that the time for praying was over. Do what you know to do Moses. Use the rod Moses that I gave you to part the sea. When spies were sent into the Promised Land soon after the Hebrews escape from Egyptian slavery, ten of the spies did not have the faith to take action to possess the land. As a result, the Hebrews had to wander in the wilderness until all of the old generation except for Moses, Caleb and Joshua had died. Joshua again sent spies into the Promised Land at the end of this time. Through this we see that it is okay, and wise to check things out, but there will still arrive a time of decision to take action on the information that has been found. God had to prod Gideon into action, but he did act. With the apostle Paul, we see a heart attuned to the Voice of God and he immediately responds to the Macedonian call.

Are you faced with a difficult decision? Have you prayed about it? Have you researched all you can about the situation i.e. spied out the land? These are prudent things to do. However, it may just be time to act, and do what you know to do before it is too late.

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.15.16

Kind Hearts

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5 NKJV.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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 4:30-32 NKJV.

When six-year-old Zejd Coralic began school in Sarajevo, Bosnia his teacher, Sanela Ljumanovic, knew that Zejd was deaf. Sanela immediately noticed that Zejd would sit all by himself, because of his inability to communicate with his classmates. At first, Sanela tried creating her own signs to communicate with the boy. Surprisingly, one of the parents of another child had a much better idea. This parent’s idea was for the whole class to learn sign language. Because of the parents of children in the class contributing funds a sign language teacher was employed to teach the children. Zejd’s classmates all learned sign language in about three months, and are excited about being able to communicate with Zejd. The idea has now spread so that many other classes are learning sign language. Zejd’s teacher believes this experience has made all of her students more sensitive to others with disabilities. (Skolegijum-onlist for school practice; avaz.ba 02.15.16)

With the situation with Zejd Coralic we see many kind hearted people demonstrating how “tenderhearted” people can make a difference. The teacher has a kind heart. The classmates of Zejd have kind hearts, and the parents of the classmates have kind hearts. This kind of tenderheartedness seems strange, and is almost shocking in a world where many are like the people of Noah’s day when “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Do you have a kind heart? Or, do you have wicked heart thinking evil continually as the people were during the time of Noah? Do you look for ways to extend kindness? Think of the difference you can make in the lives of those around you by touching them with kindness. One small act of kindness may be what someone going through a difficult time needs to make it through another day. One small act of kindness may be what someone needs to prevent their doing something terrible. One small act of kindness may be remembered for years, even generations.

How can you show others your kind heart today? Who has the Lord placed on your heart that needs a touch from a kind heart?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2002

02.12.16

Spreading God’s Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God. - 1 John 4:7.

Valentine’s Day has been officially banned in Saudi Arabia. As a result of the ban, shops are prohibited from selling red roses, and couples are prohibited from displaying public affection. Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Evil, will be conducting constant patrols to make sure no one is celebrating Valentine’s Day, which they consider an un-Islamic holiday. Students have even been cautioned by their teachers about the danger of wearing red, or any Valentine related things on February 14. Not all Islamic countries take the view of Saudi Arabia. Iran, and the United Arab Emirates do permit the celebration of Valentine’s Day (Just read today that Iran has now changed to have the view of Saudi Arabia toward Valentine's Day.).

Can you imagine how drab and dreary our world would be without love? How sad would it be if no one ever demonstrated their affection for another person in public (Although some PDAs can go too far and be very offensive to almost everyone.). If acts of kindness born out of love were banned, it would indeed be an ugly world in which to live. It is hard to imagine even the possibility of such a place; but not very long ago, Afghanistan under Taliban rule was very close to being exactly that.

There is so much hatred and evil in the world surely we should take every opportunity to express the love of God. The dictionary defines a “valentine” as a gift, or greeting, sent or given on Valentine’s Day. And since it is on Valentine’s Day, we would assume the gift or greeting would be one of love. Our Heavenly Father has given us the greatest example of sending gifts of love. He has sent us the greatest love gift of all. “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 God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”

Think for a moment, about how you can demonstrate the love of God toward those around you. Here are some ideas: kindness, patience, generosity, unselfishness, and putting the interests of others before your own. You can probably think of many other ways to demonstrate the love of God toward others. On Valentine’s Day, let us send a message of love from God, to those we encounter along the road of life by our words and actions. Let us not stop with Valentine’s Day, but continue on throughout the year spreading the love of God.

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.08.16

I Believe in Love

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. - 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV.

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. - 1 John 4:8 NKJV.

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. - 1 John 4:16 NKJV.

I confess, I watched the Super Bowl last night including the half-time show. I watched as dancers gyrated on a stage in the shape of a cross. In the stadium seats the words were spelled out “I Believe in Love.” The love being exhibited on the Super Bowl stage appeared to me to be a sacrilegious everything goes kind of love being offered on a worldly altar.

The Super Bowl half-time show reminded me of the golden calf incident in Exodus 32. While Moses was on the Mount Sinai receiving the Law from God, the people down below, had turned away from the One true God. An idol was made, which the people worshipped instead of the true God. But it was worse than that. Aaron made the gold calf and an altar. “Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play (Exodus 32:6).” The word “play” indicates unrestrained sexual immorality as Exodus 32:25 says, “When Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies).” The Super Bowl half-time show appeared to portray a modern version of the incident; although muted somewhat, in order to be broadcast into our homes.

I believe in love, but not the kind of love portrayed by the Super Bowl half-time show. I believe in the kind of love defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is further defined by 1 John 4:8 and 16, “God is love.” I believe in the God of love who “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).” I believe in the god of love who “demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”

Let us reject the worldly Super Bowl half-time definition of love; and instead, embrace true love from the only true God, who gave Himself to save us from our sins. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).”

Reject the world, and embrace the God of true love!

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.05.16

More Fire

And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out. - Leviticus 6:12-13 NKJV.

Recently, I did a brief study in the Book of Leviticus, and it was a challenge. An important thing to remember about Leviticus, is that it is a book meant not just to be read, but to be studied. There are many lessons in Leviticus for us today as Christians. One of those lessons is the need to keep the fire burning, it should never die out. Every morning the Old Testament priests would lay more wood on the fire so that it would “never go out.”

While the fire of the Holy Spirit may never really go out in the life of a child of God, it may appear that way. I think we all know some Christians who at least on the surface have very little spiritual life left. They were once on fire for God, assembling with other believers, teaching classes, witnessing to all who crossed their paths. Maybe something traumatic happened, a death, an illness, a job loss, a marriage failure, or something else, which led to the dimming of their fire. Or, maybe it was just the lack of new fuel being placed on the fire every morning?

We need the fuel of God's Word placed upon our spiritual fire every day. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).” We need the spiritual fuel of communing with our Lord God through prayer every day. “...men always ought to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1).” It is not a daily thing, but we do need the spiritual fuel of assembling with other believers when it is possible “in order to stir up love and good works (Hebrews 10:24b).” We also need the spiritual fuel derived from serving our God because “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us (2 Corinthians 5:2).” Have you done the work of an ambassador lately?

It is vitally important every day, every morning, to lay some more fuel on your spiritual fire. I know with our busy lives it is very easy to become distracted and rush by doing what we need to do. Here is what I do every morning, to make sure I have some new fuel on the fire, in case the urgencies of life interrupt my having a more lengthy quiet time. While I am preparing for the day, taking a shower, dressing, making my breakfast I am going to spend 20 minutes or more in prayer, and go through out loud or in my mind 36 to 50 memory verses. You may not have that many verses memorized, but you have some. Here are a few that you may have memorized that you could go through every morning.

John 3:16: “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.”

Romans 8:28: “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.”

Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Matthew 21:22: “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Start with the verses you know, even if they are only a few, or even just one. Go through them several times every morning. Try to add a verse every few months to your list. This will build your spiritual fire and build your faith because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).” So, if you haven't already done so, throw some more wood on the fire!

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.03.16

Don't Run

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.” - Luke 9:23-27 NKJV.

Luke 9:23 from The Message: Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. DON'T RUN from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how.

Dogs can be a problem for postal service workers, parole officers, pastors and many other workers. Trying to visit in rural areas as a pastor I often encountered dogs of different breeds and temperament. Some dogs, you can just look at them and know not to even attempt to open the door of your car. In that kind of situation I usually honked the horn to obtain the owner's assistance in having the dog in a safe mode. Other times you may not even know there is a dog outside of the residence.

In a visit I once made to a rural residence, there did not appear to be any dogs around. I opened up the car door and stepped out, shutting the car door behind me. It was then that I saw the dog. It was a very large German Shepherd running straight at me. I thought he had to be going 90mph, although I know that is impossible! There was no time for me to open up the car door and reenter the car. I simply stayed still and faced the threat. Would the dog tear me apart? I didn't know, but I did know that if I ran the dog would take me down.

What happened was that the dog ran right by me just a few inches away. I then thought it might be safe to walk to the house and knock on the door. The dog watched me the entire time. No one was at home. I tried to visit at that home a few other times after that, and every time the dog would do the same thing. He would run at me as hard as he could, running right by me as I stood still, and faced the threat. The one time, I actually was able to visit the resident of the home, the dog was nowhere to be seen!

In life we will encounter all kinds of problems with threats to the left and to the right. We may face suffering from physical illnesses or injuries. We may suffer persecution for our faith. Don't run! As we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:58 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.” Day by day deny your fearful impulses, take up your cross, and follow your Lord.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2003

01.29.16

Pulling It All Out

This is another devotional written soon after I spent nine days in a hospital in 2003.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king. - 1 Samuel 15 :23 NKJV.

As I described previously, I was all tied down with wires and tubes. A surgeon had visited and installed an IV portal in my chest; all seemed to be going well until about 11:00 P.M. when I woke up, or semi woke up, needing to go to the bathroom. Thinking I was at home, I got out of bed (With my wife telling me not to.) and headed for where I thought the bathroom was located. I didn’t make it there, because of all the wires and tubes, and pulled out my portal. As a result, it took another couple of hours to get everything cleaned up and I no longer had a portal. So, they brought in some people from the lab to try to find a vein, but they seemed to have great problems finding one. It was probably 3:00 A.M. before things calmed down. Dr. Zuerker said the next day that I had made an “F” in Portal Management. My wife thought that it was the sleep medication along with the pain medication that brought it all about. Maybe it was just that I was in a strange place and very sick.

The next day about noon, the surgeon came back and reinstalled the portal on the opposite side of my chest. This time she put in some extra stitches and went deeper. I paid for that when they took the stitches and the portal out on the last day of my hospitalization. Because of my “F” in Portal Management, it was over 12 hours before they could resume the IVs at the same level as previous. It most likely caused an additional 12 hours of hospitalization, and as I already mentioned more pain.

That is exactly what happens to us when we rebel against our God. Our rebellion causes us pain, and causes a delay in God’s blessings, and in God’s will being brought about in our lives. It has been said that, “sin will keep you longer than you want to stay, sin, will take farther than you want to go and it will cost you more than you want to pay.”

King Saul was disobedient in doing what God wanted him to do. He was to wait for the prophet Samuel to come and make an offering before taking on the enemy. But Saul got tired of waiting and made the offering himself. It was a very costly mistake, which resulted in the kingdom, being wrenched away from Saul and given to David. This rebellious act caused much pain to Saul, his family, and those loyal to him. It also caused a delay in the kingdom being brought about in its ultimate manifestation.

We have choices, and have been given a free will. We can choose, as Adam and Eve and King Saul chose to do, in doing what we know God does not want us to do. We have that choice. We can pull it all out. But it will cost us. If we rebel against God by doing what we want to do, instead of what God wants us to do, it will increase the misery quotient of our lives. Our rebellion will make the night longer. Our rebellion will hurt other people besides ourselves, usually those we love the most.

Before you pull it all out in rebellion against God, it might be a good idea to count the cost.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2003

01.27.16

Making it Through the Night

This devotional was written after spending nine days in the hospital in 2003.

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. - Psalm 63:5-7 NKJV.

My stay in the hospital (In 2003) has severely disrupted the sleep process in my life. I found myself while in the hospital dreading the ending of the day. I dreaded several things about that, including the lack of interaction with others. Many fewer people came into my room at night, and when they did, they stayed for a briefer period of time. The noise from the IV machine seemed louder, and the automatic blood pressure every hour seemed more intrusive. During the night hours, sometimes bad things would happen, and when they did it was magnified by the quietness of everything else. It seemed, it was always at night, when they came to draw blood for the continual tests that were necessary. My wife was asleep beside my bed, and so it would have been somewhat rude to watch TV while she was trying to sleep. Although for the first days, I had no interest in watching television or reading - those things do seem to pass the time away when you are well enough to tolerate them.

Strangely, I found it hard to pray while I was hospitalized. I did run some Bible verses through my mind, but found that difficult as well, possibly because of some of the medications. When the chaplain came Sunday, we prayed for God’s presence, because that was very precious to me. The entire time I was hospitalized, I was aware of God’s presence. He was not speaking to me most of the time, although He did about two days before my release. Maybe I was like Jonah, and He had to get me to a point where I could hear Him. He has been speaking, and giving me all kinds of ideas since I have left the hospital. I shared with our congregation Sunday that I pray every day for inspiration, for ideas for sermons, and devotionals. I have about ten ideas for devotionals, and sermons, which are flowing out of my hospital stay. One thing I do know about all of this, is that out of the bad always comes good, if we love the Lord, and are the called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

As with the Psalmist, what took me through the night, was meditating on the presence of the Lord there with me in my room. Even though the praise was not coming through my lips, I was praising Him with my heart the entire time - night and day.

Are you in the midst of your own night that seems to never end, and goes on, and on, and on? The Lord is the One who can sustain you through the night. You have to arrive at the point, where you realize there is nothing you can do, and place it all into the arms of the Lord. There was absolutely nothing for me to do, while I was laying on my bed with wires, and tubes coming out everywhere. But I could be aware of His presence, and His concern. I praised Him with my heart, during those long nights, and that is what you must do as well. Remember the times, of His help and comfort, through your life. Remember, and rejoice, that He loves you so much that His One, and only Son died for you. Remember, that He has not forgotten about you, and that you are still in the shadow of His wings.

The Burning Bush Devotional

01.26.16

Be Courageous

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 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. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:5-9 NKJV.

An old drug with a new approach to treatment may be able to cure some fears. The treatment approach involves reactivating a fear or phobia, and then taking the drug, which in their experiments with spiders appears to work. Of course, whether that will actually work with phobias, PTSD, and other fears has yet to be proved. Wouldn't it be nice whenever you are fearful just pop a pill and you become fearless? Isn't that what a lot of people are trying to do already with alcohol, meth, cocaine, pot, and the list goes on? Still, it would be nice to have some help for our fears.

As I have grown older, I have come to realize it takes courage to live life. It takes courage sometimes to get out of bed in the mornings, put on our clothes, and go to work. It takes courage when our knees or hips are hurting to walk across the room, much less leave the house to do anything. It takes courage to have a surgery when you know there will be so much pain involved. It takes courage to go through a course of chemo, or endure radiation treatment for cancer. It takes courage to live life.

To overcome our fears, we first need to realize that fear is an emotional response, and the courage we need to overcome it is an attitude. Courage is a decision that we make. God told Joshua as he faced leading a huge number of people across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land to “Be strong and of good courage.” Joshua needed courage because he knew that ahead lay the fortress city of Jericho, and he also knew there were giants in the land, which he had seen with his own eyes. We know God provided Joshua with the courage he needed to face the giants, and He can do the same for us.

To have courage we need to use the resources that God provides to develop and nurture that courage. The number one God given resource for developing and nurturing courage is the Word of God. God tells Joshua “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth.” Speaking God's Word, reciting memory verses out loud, will help to develop and nurture your courage. God also tells Joshua that “you shall meditate in it (God's Word) day and night.” The best way to do that is to have verses of Scripture memorized so that you can review them in your mind. And God tells Joshua to “observe to do according to all that is written in it (God's Word).” Speak, think, and do the Word of God, and godly courage will be developed and nurtured in your life; and, “you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” God is saying the same thing to you today that He said to Joshua: “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2003

01.25.16

All Tied Down

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. - The 23rd Psalm.

While hospitalized in 2003, I found myself facing a new situation. The last time I had been in the hospital it had been 43 years ago when I was ten years old, and my appendix was removed. It was a different world then with sheets between the beds and one bathroom at the end of a large ward of beds. I do remember though that I enjoyed the food with fruit juices and my uncle brought me a comic book. In hospitals now they have these six sticky round things they stick on your chest and hookup wires to them - it's like having a continual EKG. Those wires all flowed off to the right, as did the tubes for the blood pressure cuff; and the oxygen level placed on my right finger, or taped on as it sometimes was done. On my left side was a portal where IV fluids were dripped into my blood. There was about three feet of leeway for me to stand and move on my left side, which was enough to make it to a potty chair. My options for movement were more limited than they had ever been in my life.

The words of the 23rd Psalm flow with words of comfort and peace which we will never outgrow the need of hearing. I have always loved verse two, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” “He makes me lie down….” The shepherd would bring his sheep into a place of good pasture and would make them stay in that good place. The making of the sheep to stay where there was good food to eat, and still water to drink was for their benefit. However, as I have been told many times, sheep are not very intelligent. If the shepherd did not make them stay in the place where they had protection, food, and water the sheep would have wandered off. It was for their benefit. Most likely it was hard for the sheep to understand.

It was hard for me to comprehend the inability to move, but it was for my benefit. It benefited me in that life-giving medicines flowed into my body, and that the condition of my body could be constantly monitored. If it had been up to me, I would have just unplugged everything and walked out; but I was too weak, and I knew it would only delay my healing. Like the sheep, I was made to lie down in a place of “green pastures” and “still waters.” Like the shepherd of sheep, the Great Shepherd was constantly watching and present the entire time. I think I had been sick for more than a year, and had not realized it. It was slowly growing worse until I had an acute attack. It could have been much worse. I am thankful for a time of “green pastures” and “still waters” that have helped to bring healing and renewed life to my body.

Are you all tied down? You may not be tied down physically with wires and tubes as I was - it may be something else. I will leave that for you to consider in your own life, but if you are tied down, it may be for your benefit. The Great Shepherd may have reached down, and given you “green pastures” and “still waters” even though you did not want them. But it is for your benefit. It is because He loves you and is caring for you. There may come a time when He leads you on to new pastures and new waters - until then, remember you do have a Shepherd, and He loves you. Can you feel your soul being restored? I can feel my soul being restored as the Great Shepherd breathes in new life.

The Burning Bush Devotional

01.18.16

Limitless Life

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. - 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 NKJV.

You may have watched or heard of the movie, “Limitless” that was produced in 2011. There is also now a television series by the same name. Here is the official description of the movie: “Facing unemployment and his girlfriend's rejection, writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is sure that he has no future. That all changes when an old friend gives him a drug that produces enhanced mental acuity. Stoked on the untested chemical, Eddie rises to the top of the financial world and attracts the attention of a tycoon (Robert De Niro) who intends to use him to make a fortune. But terrible side-effects and a dwindling supply threaten to collapse Eddie's house of cards.” The description of the TV series is similar: “A man gains the ability to use the full extent of his brain's capabilities. A television adaptation of the 2011 film, 'Limitless'.”

The type of life portrayed in the “Limitless” movie and television series is science fiction. Will it someday be possible? That we do not know. What we do know is that our God offers through Jesus Christ a far better “limitless” life. Jesus gives us an indication of what this better “limitless” life is like in John 10:10b NKJV, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Also in John 7:38 Jesus says, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Jesus also tells us in Matthew 21:22, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” The limitless life Jesus offers is far better with unlimited resources, strength and access.

Through Jesus we have unlimited resources which the apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:7 NKJV, “so that you come short in no gift (do not lack any spiritual gift - NIV), eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Through Jesus we have unlimited strength or power and Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:8 NKJV, “who will also confirm you (keep you strong - NIV) to the end.” And through Jesus we have unlimited access to the Creator of all things, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9).” The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV).”

What is necessary for us to experience the limitless kind of life that God promises us through Jesus? What is necessary is the surrender of our will, our plans, our goals to the will of God for our lives. Only then will we begin to experience the limitless life that Jesus came to give us. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2 NKJV).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

12.14.15

Overcoming Addiction

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” - Proverbs 23:29-34 NKJV.

Zhang Rui is 30-years-old, and he is an alcoholic who lives in Bengbu, China. Up until six months ago, Zhang had a job as a truck driver, he had a wife and children, and he was gentle non-violent person. All of that changed after Zhang began drinking, because he became very violent and abusive. In a very short period of time he lost his job, his wife and children and found himself on the streets begging for money for another drink.

Zhang, unlike many, has decided to do something about his alcoholism. He has chosen an unusual way of doing that, and one I wouldn't recommend, but it may just work. Zhang is living at home now with his mother. Doesn't sound too bad, but Zhang is chained up where he cannot leave his attic room. The locked 12 ft chain weighs 22lbs and is wrapped around his neck. He plans to stay locked up in the attic for at least six months, or until his desire to drink is gone, in the hope that this will solve his alcohol addiction. (Shanghaiist 12.10.15)

The problem for Zhang, and for most with addictions is the tendency to relapse. From my observations of, and conversations with the addicted, it is clear that for some there may be several relapses before a sustained period of abstinence is obtained. 30-day treatment programs or even Zhang's radical approach are effective for drying a person out, but not much else. The longer the addiction treatment program, the longer the abstinence that is usually obtained. Traditionally, the legal system has mandated aftercare programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Sometimes counseling sessions with an addiction counselor is also required. AA, NA, and Addiction counseling are all helpful tools, but they do not guarantee success.

From my observations as a parole officer and as a pastor I do not know of any addicts who have successfully abstained from their addiction for years without there being a spiritual component. Sounds like there is not much hope for someone with an addiction, but there is hope. The very best way of all to overcome an addiction is not to develop one. However, that is of no help to anyone who has one. Here is what I would recommend to anyone that does have an addiction:

1. Turn to God in repentance and ask for His help to overcome the addiction.

2. Use the tools of treatment programs and aftercare which is just good common sense.

3. Use the tools that God provides: Prayer, Bible, and Church. Immerse yourself in the resources of God. The closer you are to God, the less power the addiction will have over you (“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” - James 4:7-8 NKJV).

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2010

12.09.15

Fear Not

I will lift up my eyes to the hills - from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. - Psalm 121:1-2 NKJV.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” - Psalm 91:1-2 NKJV.

If you live in the UK you need to watch out for…biscuits. Those dangerous little things have been on a rampage! According to one survey one-half of all Britons have received injuries from their biscuits. It is thought that 25 million of them have been hurt eating a biscuit while having some tea or coffee. 500 people have received injuries severe enough to send them to the hospital. Something called the “Biscuit Injury Threat Evaluation” identified the custard cream biscuit as the most dangerous. One third of the injuries resulted from hot liquid being splashed on the person when they dunked their biscuit. About ten percent of the injuries were from teeth being broken while attempting to consume the things. Some of the injuries were caused by poking themselves in the eye with the biscuit and last but not least was the animal threat. Seven percent of the injuries occurred when a pet or some other animal attempted to take the person's biscuit.

We live in a dangerous world where even things as innocent and innocuous as a biscuit can send you to a hospital. Some people develop what is called agoraphobia, and they are afraid to leave their homes. Although as seen with the biscuit problem even in your home it can be dangerous. A large percentage of the falls that cause broken bones occur in the home. It's enough to make you just stay in bed all the time. However, I have heard that even beds can be dangerous. In our modern world with rapidly advancing technology and rapid development of all types of dangerous chemicals, food additives, electronic pollution, microwaves and on and on it is impossible to plan for all the possible threats.

Then there is the weather. April 14, 1935 is known as Black Sunday because of the dust storm to end all dust storms, which occurred that day in Middle America blotting out the sun. Before that there were the grasshoppers of July 26, 1931, which blacked out the sun destroying vast areas of crops in Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. There are tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes, tsunamis, and typhoons. How has mankind survived all of these years in this dangerous place?

The Psalmist knew that he needed help from a power beyond this world to survive, and we do too. The Psalmist's help came from the Lord God, and that is where we will find the help we need in these even more dangerous times. There is a supernatural refuge, a supernatural fortress that is available to those who seek it. It is found in the “shadow of the Almighty.” Under His protection we can walk without fear out into this world even though danger from the smallest biscuit to the largest tornado may stalk us. Through His power, we can as David says in the 23rd Psalm, “Fear no evil” even if we may “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Whenever you experience fear immediately turn to God in prayer. Ask Him to give you peace. Even in the midst of a natural storm, a storm of problems, or a storm of emotions He promises to give you peace “which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).” Begin every day asking for His protection, for His peace, for yourself and your loved ones because God loves His children. As the apostle Paul puts it, “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 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 8:37 -39).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

11.23.15

Black-Eye Friday

They soon FORGOT His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert. - Psalm 106:13-14 NKJV.

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. – Colossians 4:2 NKJV.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV.

The first shopping day after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday.” Although in recent years, the shopping has begun on Thanksgiving Day. Wal-Mart and other stores are gearing up for Black Friday this year. The online Wal-Mart ad says this: “Are you sitting down? We hope so because Walmart’s Black Friday 2015 ad is finally here! This ad proves why people GO CRAZY for Walmart on Black Friday. It includes 32 pages of deals and doorbusters on the year’s hottest gifts.” Have you ever gone crazy for Wal-Mart sales on Black Friday, or some other store’s sales?

There is a television ad for Buick which shows one man who bought a new car on Black Friday, and another man holding his purchases saying he saved hundreds who has a black eye. Maybe a better name for Black Friday would be Black-Eye Friday. There is a website called blackfridaydeathcount dot com which lists some of the deaths and injuries that have occurred since 2006. So, maybe Black-Eye Friday is a better name for this shopping frenzy. Greed (or lust) may be one factor in making people go crazy shopping, but there are other reasons: time pressure, doorbusters, and competition are some of them.

The first Thanksgiving took place in 1621 as the Pilgrims gave thanks for God's provision and protection. In December 1777, George Washington proclaimed a Thanksgiving after the defeat of the British army at Saratoga as a victory celebration. Thanksgiving was celebrated nationally in 1789 after another proclamation of then President George Washington. Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a national holiday in the United States since 1863 when President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” It is celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

What is the first thing that we think of when we think of Thanksgiving? Is it the mad rush to buy gifts for Christmas, the decorating, and events of the season? In the celebration of Christmas, let us not forget the reason for the season, let us not forget about God. Let us pause to give thanks! This year instead of “going crazy” every day between now and Christmas with all the shopping, and decorating, and preparing; take a few moments to start every day remembering what we are celebrating, and the wondrous gift of salvation that has been given to us. Let us not forget that we do have much to be thankful for.

May you have a happy, safe, and blessed Thanksgiving!!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

11.11.15

Climbing Mountains

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.

These are difficult days that we live in for millions of people. From the prayer requests being posted at the Burning Bush website there appears to be an increase in desperation and an increase in urgency. Here are a few quotes:

“I am struggling financially, emotionally, and physically….”
“Please pray for a miracle that my husband will find the job….”
“I am suffering emotionally, spiritually, financially. I am dead inside and I need a miracle to change my life.”
“…pray for a financial miracle and healing in my body.”
“Pray with me for financial break-through in my family.”
“Please pray…that God will provide the money for my electric bill this month.”
“Please pray for my son and his family. He is not working, his wife is carrying the load and now he has started using drugs.”

I have only climbed very small mountains that some would consider hills. However, even looking at a small mountain prior to climbing it, we can see in our minds the problems, hazards, and expenditure of energy that will be necessary. Usually we overestimate how difficult the climbing will actually be. Dennis Proffitt, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, has actually performed a study which concluded that most people when standing at the bottom of a hill will believe the impending climb looks a lot more difficult than it really is.

Profitt, in his study determined that people would consistently overestimate the slope of shallow hills. The people involved in the study, would judge five-degree slopes to be about 20 degrees. According to Profitt, there appears to be a mental protection mechanism at work here. The mental mechanism, causes the eye to overestimate the task at hand, which helps prevent you from overexerting yourself.

In modern life, the mountains we face are all too often not in the physical realm. However, they can be just as difficult to climb. It is easy to become discouraged in life. We can look at our work or the problems facing us and feel overwhelmed. It may only be a five-degree climb, but it looks completely vertical from where we stand. We face one problem after another, and they take a toll on our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual stamina. As a result, we may come to a standstill as far as doing anything for the Lord.

The apostle Paul would tell us to be steadfast, immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord. Yes, you may be facing another problem, but most likely it is not as bad as you think. Your mind is telling you it cannot be done, but Paul would say that you can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). Believe it! One step at a time. One day at a time, climb your mountain with the Lord by your side. He will give you the strength, the courage, the wisdom, and provide whatever else you may need along the way (Philippians 4:19).

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

11.11.15

A Safe Landing

For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity. - Proverbs 24:16.

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.

“His head was down, his feet were up, and he came whizzing by screaming.” Chris Hoyle had looked out her window just in time to see Ken Larsen on the way down from the top of a five-story building. Larsen survived the fall with no broken bones, and was only bruised and scraped.

Ken Larsen’s frightening fall seems to be a picture of many lives, which for a variety of reasons may go out of control. Many of the prayer requests we receive are from people whose lives appear to be rapidly heading for a crash landing. Some have financial problems, health problems, marital problems, job problems, sin problems or a combination of problems. So what do you do when you find your life coming apart, and you are falling?

Ken Larsen was on top of the building laying telecommunications cable. He was walking backward pulling on the cable and his co-worker was holding the spool feeding it out. When Ken stepped off the roof he still had the cable in his hands. He held on, gripping tighter and tighter, which broke his fall. He landed on his feet, even though much of the fall was head first. Meanwhile, back on the roof his co-worker leaned against the spool of cable trying to slow the rate the cable fed out.

The only thing that will slow our fall is to hang onto God. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 we are told, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord....” To have a safe landing, we must be steadfast, immovable in our confidence in God. It also helps as it did for Ken Larsen, and for others, to be trying to slow our rate of fall as well. It does make a difference when we do as the apostle exhorted us “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men... (1 Timothy 2:1).”

If we want to have a safe landing we must be steadfast in our faith. No matter how bad it may seem that life has become, or has the potential to become; always believe that God is the One, who can help you, who can change things. Persist in praying, and asking others to pray for you, because it will make a difference. No matter what terrible or horrific things may happen to you or to your family, always trust God; always believe that He loves you, and cares about you, because He does. He is the only One who has the power to bring good out of the bad, no matter how bad it may be (Romans 8:28). As the apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 5:7, put all of your anxiety, all of your cares upon God because He cares about you.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

11.10.15

Greed

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 1:18-19.

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 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. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. - 1 Timothy 6:9-11.

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness (greed - NIV), which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. - Colossians 3:4-6.

In South Korea, Han Sang-choon, was dismissed last week (2008) from his position as the deputy of Mirae Asset Investment Education Institute. He lost his job because of his statement about why so many people lost money in the recent financial crisis. Han Sang-choon on Korean television stated, “I reckon people haven't cashed in their funds because of personal greed and expectations of profits.” Mirae Asset in a statement regarding the firing said, “…we decided to sack our deputy head, Han Sang-choon, who gave individual views out of line with our institute's original purpose, and caused concern to investors.”

Certainly, I have experienced my own share of greed in my personal life. However, God has spared me from some very bad decisions that I could have made because of greed. In 1982, during a boom in the oilfield I had my own oilfield inspection company and business was great. I was making money and thought it would be good to make even more. To do so, I would need to buy equipment to build another inspection unit and hire another pipe inspector. I went to the bank and established a line of credit and was ready to expand. However, I wanted to make sure this was what God wanted. There was only one person at the time that I thought could be the inspector that would work well with me, and I made it a matter of prayer that if God wanted me to expand the company that this man would agree to work for the company.

In October 1982, I was ready to launch my plans and talked to this prospective employee. He rejected my offer and I knew that because of his rejection that God did not want me to go ahead with my plans for expansion. The next month I did have some jobs, but was never paid for them, and my income from the business was cut off like a switch had been flipped. The bust had come to the oilfield boom. I was eventually able to sell my equipment, go back to college, and change careers. However, it could have been much more devastating financially if I had not listened to what God wanted. If I had gone ahead with my plans, bankruptcy would have been my only option.

Greed can easily slip into our view of money and use of money. Caution and prayer about our use and plans for the use of money is always the wise way to proceed. We are in an uncertain time in our world today. Most believe that the financial situation will improve but only God really knows what will happen tomorrow. We must lean heavily upon His wisdom and guidance during these times.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2002

11.02.15

Deceitfulness

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. - 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. - 1 Peter 5:8.

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.

Since the 1970s Joey Skaggs has been the perpetrator of numerous hoaxes. Joey says, “I’ve never had a hoax that failed.” Some of Joey’s more famous hoaxes were: “the Gypsy Moth Anti-Defamation League” (Protested the political incorrectness of the term “Gypsy Moth.”), “The Fat Squad” (Assumed the role of a former drill sergeant who was determined to wipe out obesity.), “Hair Transplants from the Dead” (Promoted cure for baldness through hair transplants from the dead.), and a “Celebrity Sperm Auction.” (Flash forward to the year 2015 and there is hoax about women becoming pregnant from flu shots! Crazy to believe something like that!) Skaggs claims that journalists never bother to verify the facts when he sends out a simple press release, or makes a few phone calls announcing a hoax.

As Christians we are not to be suspicious people (1 Corinthians 13:5c), but at the same time, we must be aware that people will sometimes lie. Not only that, but some lies are demonically inspired. To go through life refusing to believe that anyone can do anything wrong or even tell a lie is to live in spiritual blindness. We must listen to the Holy Spirit as He will reveal to us when lies are being spoken, or deceptions perpetrated (Acts 5:1-11). The devil and his legions will attempt to have you believe spiritual hoaxes that may very well come close to the truth, sound like the truth, but still be untrue. The enemy will warp and misstate the Words of God (Matthew 4) to back up his spiritual hoax.

No, we should not constantly think the worst of others, however, we must be “sober” and “vigilant” for our enemy would love to destroy us. The closer we are to God, the more we know His Word, the more we communicate with Him, the less susceptible we will be to falling victim to the hoaxes of the enemy.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2002

10.30.15

The Right Measurement

And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. - Luke 12:29-31 NKJV.

Anne Kremer and Jennifer Hopkins in 2002 played the entire opening round match of the WTA $585,000 Bausch & Lomb Championships on the wrong size tennis court. After the players complained, WTA officials measured the court, and found the service line was three feet closer than it should have been to the net. For hours, Kremer and Hopkins were in limbo wondering whether the match would have to be replayed, while WTA officials deliberated about the foul up. Finally, after six hours it was ruled the match would stand.

It would be terrible to play an entire game of any sport, and then to have the results in question, because the field of play was of the improper measurement. That would be a great disappointment. However, many face a greater disappointment in life. Countless people across this world live out their lives using the material or worldly things as a measurement for the value and eternal worth of their lives.

What are your priorities in life? Is your goal the accumulation of money? Is your goal the purchase of larger and larger houses or lands? Is your goal the climbing of the corporate ladder until you stand on top? It may be that as Christians we will see those things happen in our lives, but they should not be our goals. Why? Because material things can be destroyed by fire, flood, earthquake, and even “moths.” Material things can be lost due to theft (Luke 12:33), or even forgetfulness.

What should your goals be in life? What should your priorities be in life? Jesus says it very clearly in Matthew 6:33, “seek first the Kingdom of God.” That should be our goal, our priority, and by it everything should be measured.

Have you been playing life on the wrong size court? Why not change courts before the game is over? Change your priorities; change your goals so that they meet with the approval of the Lord.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2002

10.27.15

Rejection

…the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. - John 6:37b.

How would like to be Dallas Hill, Jr.? He applied for the AT&T Universal credit card and his application was rejected. The company because of a glitch in its computer system sent Dallas not just one rejection, but 2,986 rejection letters. You have to wonder if Dallas will ever apply for another credit card after such a massive rejection?P> Most of us have experienced rejection in one form or another. Many of us know the pain of rejection after a job interview. Sometimes the pain is delivered quickly on the spot, and other times we have to wait for weeks for the rejection letter to arrive. Some of us have been fired or laid off from a job, while others continued their employment. Many have experienced the rejection and pain of divorce whether for the adults involved or for the children. Rejection comes in many forms, and we can count on it knocking on our door several times during our lifetime.

How do you respond to rejection? For some it means a downward spin into depression, which takes weeks, months, or even years to end. For others, rejection does not seem to affect them and, they continue on as if nothing happened. How can you recover from rejection? Acceptance from other people is based on our behavior, and upon that own person’s worldview. However, acceptance from God is based on faith. God accepts all those who come to Him in faith through Jesus Christ.

Let’s consider for a moment the person or institution that has rejected you. A thousand years from now will their opinion really matter? A thousand years from now the only opinion that will matter is that of God. And God has promised what to those who have come to Him? He has promised to never, ever reject them. No matter what failure you may experience, God will never cast you out. Having this as a point of reference in our lives will help us to recover from rejection by keeping it in the proper perspective.

Whenever we are rejected, let us always remember that there is One who will never reject us.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2002

10.22.15

Where’s Your Guidebook

But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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. - 2 Timothy 3:14-17.

In Thailand, inmates have set up a website to give new inmates and their families a guide to life in prison. Their hope is to one day be able to provide inmates and their families with a comprehensive guide to the prison life whenever someone enters the correctional system. The website offers advice on a variety of subjects such as: how to make their sentence as short as possible, how to get to sleep, and how to plan for their release. A spokesperson for Bangkok’s Correctional Hospital, John Lertwitworapong, said, “We want to tell the public that it is not as scary as people may think but it is not so comfortable that people should be attracted here.” We should hope not!

Wouldn’t it be nice if as soon as we were able to read at a certain level that a comprehensive guide to life would be delivered to us? Such a guide would provide help for every area of our lives. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? A man packing for a trip was being hurried by a friend and he said he was almost ready, but just needed a few more things. He said, “I need: a guidebook, a lamp, a mirror, a hammer, a book of good poetry, a bundle of old letters, a hymn book and a sharp sword.” The man then picked up his Bible, placed it in his suitcase, and told his friend he was ready to go.

The fact is that God has provided us with a comprehensive guide to life. The Bible properly used, with the Holy Spirit as your teacher will instruct you, correct you, make you complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work. The key word here is “used.” Many of us have packed our bags for our trip through life; grabbed our Bible, carefully placed it in our suitcase, and left it there. Do you know where your comprehensive guide to life is? Have you “used” it lately?

The Burning Bush Devotional

10.20.15

Fear Not

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10 NKJV.

My Mother worked in the civil service at Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base in Oklahoma for five years during 1960-65. The base, which is no longer an active Air Force base, is only about six miles from our home; but we do still have B-52s flying over our house from Altus Air Force Base. My Mother worked as a food service worker for about a year, and then began working as a keypunch operator on base. To gain entry to the base, there was only one way, and that was through an armed guard station on the east side. Every vehicle, to gain entry had to have a government issued decal on the front bumper. If you did not have the decal, you had to obtain a visitor's pass, which usually was only available during the daytime.

Because of an accident, my parents traded cars, and the new car did not yet have the approved decal. My memory is somewhat blurry of the details of why, but I remember well the night my Mother infiltrated the Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base. This was during the time of the tensions of the cold war, and there were always B-52s with nuclear weapons fueled and ready to take off. We could see them from the road with armed guards and German shepherds. If I remember right, if scrambled, all of the planes could in the air in fifteen minutes. The air base should have been a very secure location, and it was for the most part.

Apparently my Mother had left something at her workplace, or needed something from her workplace; but because of it being nighttime, and not have the authorized decal she was unable to obtain access. However, that did not stop my Mother. With my sister and I with her in the car (I was probably ten or eleven years old.) she simply drove through a place between two houses where there was a small gap in the fence. She drove between those two houses, across their grass, into the street and then to her workplace. We left the base the same way we came; across the lawns, between the houses, and through the gap in the fence. So much for being a secure facility!

Fear, I experienced fear the night my Mother invaded the air base. It is not a pleasant experience, but it was one of the first times in my life that I experienced real intense fear. Looking back I realize now that not much would have happened to us even if we had been caught. Likely they would have given my Mother a stern warning, and sent us on our way out the front gate.

Since that time, I have experienced fear many times, but I never seek it out. Fear usually seems to come upon us unexpectedly, often suddenly. Often fear like that night on the air base is exaggerated, blown up out of proportion. Later we realize that things are not as bad as we thought they were, and that we will live another day. In the daylight, things never seem as bad as they do in the middle of the night.

Whatever you may be going through, if you know Jesus as your Savior, He is there with you. The Lord knew this thing was going to happen, and He is not in a panic mode. The Lord never panics. This is what our Lord would want you to know: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2002

10.15.15

The Needles of Anger

Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. - Ephesians 4:26-27.

Ann Sage over a period of several years suffered a debilitating breakdown, both physically and mentally. The doctors thought Ann’s problems were all in her mind until she had an x-ray. The cause of all of her suffering was discovered to be a very small sewing needle that was stuck in her groin. Ann believes the needle became lodged there when she was 11 years old, she remembers injuring herself while jumping on an old mattress. Since the discovery of the needle, she has had a three-hour operation to remove it, and since then her health has dramatically improved. Ann who is 43-years-old says about her ordeal, “I just felt awful. It felt like I had the flu all the time. I could hardly walk and my balance wasn’t very good. I had a breakdown in the end. I couldn’t stop crying. It was so frustrating and I was frightened and I just felt so ill. I hardly left the house.”

Anger that lingers in our hearts and minds can become like Ann’s tiny sewing needle. Paul tells us, really warns us, not to hang onto our anger because we will “give place to the devil.” When we hang onto our anger it creates an opportunity for the devil to create problems in our lives. Anger evolves into other more damaging emotions such as rage, malice, and bitterness. In the final evolution of anger, we will see the development of mental and physical problems. Our thinking will become warped, and our actions will be twisted by holding onto our anger.

If we want to be free of anger, and all of its manifestations, then we must seek the Lord’s help. He will enable us and empower us, to forgive. Through the power of God we can forgive, turn the other cheek, and go the extra mile. Through the power of God instead of anger, rage, malice, and bitterness; we can have love, joy, peace, and patience. So tonight before you go to sleep, check and see if there are any little needles of anger that need to be pulled out. You’ll sleep much better without them.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2002

10.14.15

That Sinking Feeling

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God. - Psalm 69:1-3.

Many of us have had that sinking feeling when everything is going wrong and is out of control. How did we get to that place in our lives? Maybe we got to that place of sinking and being out of control, through ignoring the warnings of God and others in our lives.

Hank Schiffer in Boca Raton knows what that sinking feeling is like. A street in Boca Raton was washed out because of a broken water main and the danger was marked by high-water warning signs. Hank saw the signs, but thought that he could drive through the water anyway. What Hank did not know was that the water was covering a sinkhole as deep as his van was in height. Schiffer said after his ordeal, “I was just going around the water. People were telling me not to go through the high water, but I just ignored what they were saying. I guess that was wrong.” Well, Hank, I think it was the wrong thing to do! Schiffer and his two dogs did somehow get out of the van before it completely sank.

It is sad, but many who are sinking spiritually are not even aware of their plight. Many of those who are aware, are so calloused that they continue to do nothing to slow their downward spiral. To get out of the mire we must want to get out. It is a decision of the heart to hear the warnings, and have a desire to stop the downward progress. We must arrive at a point where we know our only hope is in the Lord and call out to God as did the Psalmist, “Save me, O God!”

Are you tired of that sinking feeling? Ask the One to help who can help. One man I knew who was an alcoholic simply had a one-sentence prayer about as short as that of the Psalmist. He prayed over and over again, “Help me stop, God.” It took eight months, but God delivered him from his addiction. He can deliver you as well from whatever you are sinking in. Ask Him!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2002

10.13.15

Lost Treasure

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. - Matthew 13:44.

In Australia a man has lost his treasure. A middle-aged Irishman believes he threw out the winning lottery ticket (worth A$1.5 million or in American dollars $700,000) in an empty grocery sack. The city council of Kalgoorlie-Boulder has given the man special permission to search through the garbage at the city dump. It was reported that the man had spent four days searching, but was not sure if he would continue to search at this point. Sue Virgin a city spokesperson said “Can you imagine all the refuse at the tip (the garbage dump) after Christmas? It must have been disgusting.”

How disappointing it must have been for this man in Australia to lose his winning ticket, his treasure. To find it, he was willing to go to great lengths even digging in disgusting, stinking, garbage for days. If you have lost your treasure you will do all that you can to find it. Jesus speaks of a man who hides his treasure after finding it, and gives all he can to buy the field, and in doing so will then own the treasure. The treasure is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Some of us have lost our treasure. We were once on fire for God, but now we have gotten bogged down in the cares of the world. Many are bogged down in sin. Addictions have covered over the treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven in many of our lives. Some of our lives look like garbage dumps in the spiritual realm. We know it is true, but what do we do? We need to dig through all of the stuff that has covered up the true treasure. Whatever it takes, we should give it all to have the treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven restored in our lives. If someone will dig through a garbage dump for days for a lottery ticket surely we will dig for the spiritual treasure that has been lost in our lives.

How do we find our treasure? It will be necessary to throw out and dispose of some of the trash that has built up over the years. Cast off the sin that so easily besets us (Hebrews 12:1). Dig into the riches of God’s Word (Matthew 4:4). Ask God for his help (Matthew 7:7-8). Maintain contact with others who are treasure seekers as you can help each other (Hebrews 10:24-25). Shield your life from the trash that constantly tries to flow into our lives from the world, the flesh, and the devil (Proverbs 4:21; Luke 6:45).

Let’s start digging!!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

10.12.15

Fan Into Flame

I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up (fan into flame - NIV) the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. - 1 Timothy 1:3-7 NKJV.

Veterans in Bullhead City, Arizona were able to raise the money and finally have built an “eternal” flame in the Arizona Veterans Memorial Park. However, according to the Mohave Daily News the flame was not so “eternal” as it was extinguished after the city received a gas bill for $961. The city manager, Tim Ernster, stated that, “It caught us by surprise. What we decided to do for the time being is to turn the flame on…for special events, for Veterans Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day - those types of activities.” However, after complaints by veterans groups the flame is burning again. The city is looking into the possibility of installing a smaller burner to replace the one that is using so much gas.

The apostle Paul tells Timothy to “stir up the gift of God” or as the NIV puts it to “fan into flame the gift of God that is in you….” Timothy has a gift from God to minister; however, every child of God has a gift from God. Your gift may not be the same as Timothy’s gift but God has gifted you according to 1 Corinthians 7:7 which says, “…each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.”

One thing that we can see from the language of stirring up or fanning into flame is that the gift can grow cold. Without use, without development, your gift can be virtually inoperable or unusable. The flame requires attention so that it will not go out. Sadly, many Christians do what the city council of Bullhead City wanted to do after they received the huge gas bill. Many Christians when they are confronted by challenges or difficulties in this life simply turn off the flame. Or, they just try to turn the flame on for special occasions when they think that it is expected.

For the flame to be burning brightly in our lives we must fan the flame. We fan the flame; stir it up by using the gift and by staying close to the source of the fire. If the fire has gone out it is more difficult to start than if it still has a flame even if it is very small. A fire needs oxygen and if you fan the flame you give it more oxygen which results in a bigger flame. For our own flame to burn brighter it needs more of Jesus. Your flame needs more of the Word of God, more of praying, more of church, more of preaching, more of worship, and more of singing His praises. So fan into flame that gift that God has given to you and never ever let it go out.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

10.08.15

You Belong to God

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 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 6:18-20 NKJV.

Listen to this news report. “Gambling, robbery, sexual immorality, and violence is prevalent. Half of all children are born out of wedlock; purity and fidelity to the marriage vow are sneered out of fashion. Corruption in politics is rampant. The world is broken.” That news report was from the year 1694, but it sounds like it could have been a news report from 2008.

Immorality is not a new thing, and it has been a problem for as long as there have been human beings. We look around our world today, and we know that there are huge problems of all kinds, and sometimes it looks like the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket.

When our friends and neighbors are involved in immoral activities, we may come to think that because everyone around us is doing what is wrong, that it is okay for us to do those things too. We begin to slide into the gray area between black and white, and before long we are closer to the black than we are the white. Before long we are not coming to church, we stop reading out Bibles, we stop praying, we stay away from other Christians, and we may not think it; but down there in our heart of hearts, we think that God is okay with it, because He hasn‘t struck us dead with lightning or something else.

Let me remind you what God thinks about that kind of thinking and living. He says, “You are not your own. You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.” You as a child of God are not your own. You belong to God. Your body belongs to God. Your spirit belongs to God. You are accountable to God.

When you stop coming to church, when you don't read your Bibles, when you don't pray, when you don't live like you ought to live – you are not getting away with something. No, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Because you are accountable to God and God is not deceived. As the apostle Paul says in Galatians 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

We live in a society where no one wants to admit to their own mistakes or to their faults. We see so many politicians wanting to take credit for the good things that are done or that occur and then when something bad happens or goes wrong - they are more than ready to point their finger at someone else! We are ready to do that too, but it simply will not work with God, don’t be deceived about that because, “God is not mocked.” Paul says, “... for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption….”

How do we sow to our flesh? We sow to our flesh any time that we sin. We sow to our flesh by doing what we want to do instead of what God wants us to do (Things like going to church, reading the Bible, praying, witnessing, serving, etc.). When we spend money selfishly that should have been given to the Lord, we are sowing to the flesh. When we look at the wrong things, tell lies, steal, blaspheme God by the way we live our lives we are sowing to the flesh.

Instead of sowing to the flesh and reaping harvest after harvest of bad things we must instead sow more to the Spirit, to reap more of what the Spirit has for us. “You are not your own. You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

10.06.15

What Are You Afraid of?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 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 8:35-39 NKJV.

An article in the newspaper caught my eye several years ago. The article asked the question, “Are American’s becoming scaredy cats?” (To be a “scaredy cat” is to be unduly or excessively fearful.) The article also asked if Americans had forgotten how to face a well-calculated risk and if the West were still to be won, could we roundup enough brave souls to win it? The article discussed a book by Harold W. Lewis entitled, “Technological Risk. What are the real dangers, if any, of toxic chemicals, the greenhouse effect, microwave radiation, nuclear power, air travel, automobile travel, carcinogens of all kinds, and other threats to our peace of mind.”

After I read the article I asked myself if that was the problem with the church today. Have Christians become scaredy cats? Do the multitude of dangers that surround Christians choke off their willingness to risk anything for Christ? Have Christians forgotten Jesus says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23).”

If missionaries were to be called today to be the first to go to the innermost regions of Africa, or India, or Burma, or China, who would go? Could God find a Livingstone today? Could He find a William Carey, or a Judson, or J. Hudson Taylor? Are there any Christians, today, willing to risk all that they are and have for the sake of their Lord and Savior? Are there any Christians today, standing in the gap risking all?

Livingstone once wrote to England asking for more missionaries to come to Africa. Some months later the reply came that they had found some men willing to come. They wanted Livingstone to tell them the best roads to take to where he was. Livingstone wrote back that he needed men who would go where there were no roads. God is still looking for men, women, boys, and girls like that today.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

10.01.15

Risky Behavior

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.” - Matthew 25:14-18. (Read also Matthew 25:19-46)

Every day people risk their lives and their careers for the thrill of the moment. People risk their lives doing drugs, buying drugs, selling drugs, committing burglaries and robberies to have the money to get drugs. It is amazing what people have done and will do for a thrill. I have seen people bungee jump off a bridge over the Colorado River. Yesterday, someone on a motorcycle passed us on the interstate and I estimated their speed at 95mph or more. Other people enter the stock market when they do not really have the money. Some play the state lotteries even though they have a three and a half time greater chance of being struck by lightning than of winning.

Most of us, however, are not into risky behavior. We are more into safe behavior. Most of us are into the avoidance of risks and are committed to playing it safe. The older I become the more cautious I have become. Because of that the words of Jesus in this parable are a challenge. Jesus isn’t just talking about what we should do with our physical talents. Jesus is giving us a challenge, the challenge of our lives. To follow Jesus, truly follow Him is to risk everything. It is to risk everything we are, to risk everything we have or ever will be for Him. How often are we to do that, once? Twice? How often do we take that kind of risk? Our entire life is to be lived in that way, risking everything for our Lord.

The kind of life our Lord Jesus would have us to live is a life of action. A life lived as our Lord would want is a life of taking chances, a life of adventure, a life of growth, and expansion for the cause of Christ.

How long since you have risked anything for your Lord? How long since you have told someone about what Jesus did for you on the cross? Read through the rest of Matthew 25 and ask yourself, “How long?” How long since you have fed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty, gave a stranger a place to stay, clothed those in need? How long since you visited the sick and those in prison? How long since you have risked everything by putting first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

The Burning Bush Devotional

09.24.15

Just Taking a Nap

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 NKJV.

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, the person who hears My word [the one who heeds My message], and believes and trusts in Him who sent Me, has (possesses now) eternal life [that is, eternal life actually begins—the believer is transformed], and does not come into judgment and condemnation, but has passed [over] from death into life. - John 5:24 AMP.

Along a highway in eastern Pennsylvania drivers were horrified to see a man's body. The body was seen by several drivers on Highway 33 about 75 miles north of Philadelphia. When highway patrol troopers responded they found a man laying near an exit against a guardrail. Troopers woke up the man who said he was just “Taking a nap” and the man then left the area. (Lehighvalleyonline.com 09.21.2015 - just discovered this free access newspaper)

Jesus makes it clear in John 5:24 that if you know Jesus as your Savior that you have eternal life. We are told this through the apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” In other words, if you know Jesus as your Savior you are alive! It seems strange, but talking with some Christians, some believers, they seem more dead than alive. Maybe, they are just taking a nap?

In our lives there are definitely times when we “feel” more alive than at other times. These times when we “feel” more alive may occur during major events such as a wedding, birth of a child, graduation from high school or college, beginning a career, vacations, illness, accidents and other events. Spiritually, there may also be times when we “feel” more alive than at other times. Sometimes our “brook” dries up as it did for the Prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17). In baseball, a dry spell is described as being a “slump.” Maybe you are in a “slump,” a dry spiritual period? It happens to the best, it even happened to Elijah.

What do you do when your joy is not overflowing? What do you do when everything feels wrong and you're not sure why? What do you do when you are in a spiritually dry time? Jesus says in John 15:9-11, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” It is God's will for you to be alive, to be filled with joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).” When we are dry spiritually we must continue to “abide” in Jesus meaning we need to return to the well of “living water (John 4:10).”

When we are going through dry times spiritually this is a time to draw nearer to God (James 4:7-8) and not a time to withdraw from Him. These are times when we need more of the “living water” and we cannot receive that from the things of this world. We must immerse ourselves in the things of God, spending more time in prayer and in His Word. Abide in Him, and the dry times will end, and you will be filled with His joy. Believe it! Live it!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

09.22.15

Cleaning Up the Mess

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in - The Amplified Bible). - Matthew 6:22-24 NKJV.

“Mackerel in the Moonlight” is the title of a book published in 2004. There is also a book, “Mackerel by Moonlight” published in 1998; both books are about corruption in politics. I heard about the book while I was watching a news program at the time and the newscasters were wondering why it was called that; the weatherman said it sounded better than, “Flounder in the Floodlight!” The statement “Mackerel in the Moonlight” was once used by a politician in describing corruption. He used it that way because a Mackerel laying on the shore in the moonlight would appear to be glimmering and shiny, but upon closer examination you would find that it was rotting and smelled.

We look around at this world we live in, and we can see many of those Mackerels in the Moonlight. There are a vast number of those Mackerels in the political world with so many politicians willing say anything and do anything to be elected without any intention of actually doing what they have promised. However, it is not just the political world that abounds with Mackerels, because nearly every area of life from business to personal has a share of Mackerels in the Moonlight.

One psychological study I read about claimed that living in the American society caused mental illness. It was based upon studying people who moved from Mexico to the United States. Our way of life in the United States appears to be great, but there are some of the Mackerels lying around. There is so much of the material world that is available for purchase. To keep up with your neighbors you need to have a new car or two. Your clothes need to look nice, and it may be that you will need a new house to keep up with your friends. The pressure is on! You need to make more and more to buy more and more. And, if you can’t make more and more then you feel worse and worse.

Jesus brings this to a very personal level when He says, “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” If your conscience goes bad you will become like a rotting, stinking fish. Because when our master is “mammon” we continually choose whatever it takes to get more of what the world has to offer. As a result, our “light” grows dimmer and dimmer until we become like that proverbial, “Mackerel in the Moonlight.” You may look good on the outside to your friends and neighbors, but inside if your master is “mammon” you will become a rotten, stinking mess.

If you read this, and know that God is speaking to you about your life, the good news is that it is not too late to change. Your “light” has not become too dim to be convicted of your need for a new master, and now is the time to change. Put God first (Matthew 6:33) in your life, and make Him your master in every area of your life, because that is the only way to clean up the mess. It is also the only way for a country with a mackerel problem to be cleaned up.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

09.21.15

When East looks like West

Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day. - Psalm 25:4-5 NKJV.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward. - Psalm 19:7-11 NKJV.

In 1998, I was blessed with the opportunity to preach at a church in Capitola, California. We greatly enjoyed our visit and have many great memories of our time there. Capitola is located on the Monterey Bay with the Pacific ocean stretching out to the west as far as the eye can see - at least that‘s what I thought. But strangely enough when we were taking some photos prior to leaving, we noticed that the early morning sun was rising in the west! It had to be the west didn’t it, because the sun was rising over the Pacific Ocean which had to be in the west didn’t it?

Jeanie had her directions confused the whole time she was in Capitola but I always thought I knew which way I was going because the ocean was always in the west. Suddenly, I realized that what I had considered to be west, what I felt to be west, could not be west. It had to be east! As I have looked at a map of the Monterey Bay the land wraps around so that in the area we were at the ocean actually was to the east.

I felt like the ocean was to the west. It looked like the ocean lay out to the west. In my mind I knew that the ocean had to be in the west. But the truth was that I was wrong. Even though it felt right, it looked right and my knowledge said it was right, I was still wrong. The truth was different from what my human emotions, sight and knowledge said was right.

Much of the Christian experience is similar. I may not feel like I am saved. I may not look like I have been born again and human wisdom would say that it is not possible but the Bible says in John 1:12, “But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

The Christian disciplines of prayer, Bible study and church attendance seem like a waste of time to the human non-Christian mind. To the non-Christian those things do not look like they could possibly be of any value. The non-Christian does not feel anything good when they think about praying, or reading the Bible, or going to church. But for the children of God, we know the truth is, that in those resources of God we find immense value.

Even as Christians, at times we feel like we cannot go on when faced with difficult circumstances. Those circumstances look overwhelming and our mind tells us there is no way so we might as well give up. The truth as Paul would tell us is, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).”

The next time east looks like west we need to get out our compass, the Word of God, and determine what is the real truth of the situation.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

09.17.15

The Leading of the Spirit

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 NKJV.

So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. - 1 Kings 17:5-7 NKJV.

Paul received very specific instructions from the Spirit about where he was to go and where he should not go. The Spirit is still busy today leading and guiding us. Sometimes He blocks us. Sometimes He warns us. Sometimes He sends us in another direction. Sometimes He says, “come over and help.”

As a pastor, before I have moved to another pastorate, I have always driven to the area and looked around. We have had some interesting experiences from these trips. On one trip when we had arrived in the area we stopped at a convenience store and when Jeanie came back out she said that she had become dizzy and almost passed out. We decided to drive on to the church facility, and maybe she would feel better by then.

Jeanie was feeling better by the time we drove by the church building, but the car seemed to be having a problem. By the time we had located the parsonage and driven by it the needle on the engine heat gauge had red lined. The electric fan motor had burned out. We had the distinct impression after our excursion that God did not want us to go to that place and had warned us.

Another time when a church was interested in us, we again drove to the church facility, and as we drove into their parking lot the car died and would not start. I walked several blocks to a store and bought another battery and carried it back and installed it. The car started fine and I hoped that the problem had been solved. My mother was in the hospital in Oklahoma City after having back surgery so we then drove on to the hospital and checked on my mother.

When we left the hospital parking garage to return home the lights began to dim on the car, and by the time we were on the expressway they were out. We prayed, and made it to an exit where the car coasted into the parking lot of a hotel, and we stayed the night there. The alternator had stopped working. I believe that coincidences do happen, but the timing of some leaves little doubt of God’s involvement in them. We were able to have the car repaired the next day, but we also had the definite impression that God had given us a warning about that church.

Another time after prayer and fasting for seven days about where God wanted us to go to - a search committee called us on the afternoon of the seventh day. Even though we did not think it feasible for us to accept their call, because of financial considerations, God did confirm that this was where He wanted us and we accepted their call. We received additional confirmation of God’s call to that church as we served there.

Other times the “brook” may dry up as it did for Elijah, and we are forced to move. There are at least three ways that the “brook” may dry up for a pastor. One is for the finances to become so difficult that he is forced to move. Another is for the support of the leaders or members of the church for the pastor to dry up or come to an end. Third, is for the movement of the Spirit in terms of decisions comes to an end i.e. no one being saved, no one rededicating or recommitting their lives, no one joining the church, attendance rapidly declining, and no growth in spiritual maturity of the believers who make up the church. This was why we moved from one church to another church two different times.

Along with these things that may occur, there must also be the still, small voice of God (1 Kings 19:12) confirming His direction for your life. How do you know? You will know when it happens and when He speaks. However, you do have to be watching and listening, or you can miss out on what God has for you.

The Spirit still leads and guides today. What is the Spirit saying to you?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

09.16.15

The Patience of God

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. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. - Hebrews 12:1-4 NKJV.

I used Google to search for the phrase “I lost my patience” and found some 29,000 results. After I left out the word “lyrics” in my search, I still found 22,300 mentions of the phrase. I then did a search for the phrase “I’m sorry I lost my patience” and found only 14 mentions of that phrase. It appears that there is a whole lot of patience being lost, but not very many people are sorry about it! Patience (NIV) or longsuffering (NKJV and KJV) is one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 along with temperance (KJV) or self-control (NIV) (Fast forward to 2015, and in the NIV that I downloaded to my kindle last week “patience” has been changed to “forbearance.”) So, as Christians, the more control that the Holy Spirit has of our lives should result in more patience and self-control. The lack of patience and self-control indicates that we are the ones on the throne in our lives and not the Lord.

Have you ever considered the patience of God? He has such great patience with us. As the hymn says He could have called 10,000 angels to destroy the world and set Him free from the cross, but He didn’t. Instead Jesus “endured the cross,” “endured such hostility from sinners against Himself.” Not only does God have great patience with us as sinners (And His mercies through Jesus are sufficient for every repentant sinner.), but he has great patience in guiding us.

Think for a moment about Gideon in the Old Testament (Judges 6:1-7:22). God finds Gideon hiding in an abandoned winepress, threshing wheat, but fearing for his life. God calls him to be the one to lead Israel in delivering them from the Midianites. From Gideon’s actions we know that he continues to have doubts about God’s call and how the deliverance is to be brought about. Even so, God is patient! He gives Gideon six reassurances as He leads Gideon to victory over the Midianites.

God created us and He knows our frailties, our weaknesses. He knows that we need His guidance, His reassurances. When He calls us, He is not finished with the process. That’s the beginning. He is still there to guide us when we have our doubts. He is still there to reassure us, to point us again in the right direction. He loves us as His children. Because He “endured the contradiction of sinners,” how much more so does He endure and have patience with us His children.

Not sure about where or what God wants in your life? Ask Him? He will not be angry. Would we be angry at our own children if they asked us what we wanted? No, of course not! God is all powerful and all knowing. I think that He can handle a question or two (or three, or four, or five....) from His children. Unlike us, God does have patience!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

09.15.15

Going Against the Grain

But the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ the same shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.” - Judges 7:4-7 NKJV.

Against the grain is an interesting phrase and according to phrases.org “brings to mind the image of the grain in wood, which, if planed in the wrong direction, will tear rather than lie smoothly.” It means to go “against one's inclination or natural tendency.” God calls upon His people at times to do the unexpected and to go against the grain of the world‘s expectations. Gideon went against the grain when he was obedient to God’s instructions. Gideon had 32,000 men but even this army was not enough to match the men arrayed against them. Judges 7:12 describes the opposing force as “numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude.” But God reduced, instead of increasing Gideon’s army. He reduced the thousands to only 300 men. Yet we know that God gave Gideon and his 300 men complete victory over the Midianite army.

Joshua went against the grain when God instructed him to attack Jericho in a strange way and he obeyed. They were to march around the city once a day for six days but on the seventh day they were to march around Jericho seven times. The seven priests were to blow the trumpets and the people were to shout, and as we know the walls came tumbling down.

Jonah was also called upon by God to do the strange and unusual - to go against the grain of the world‘s expectations. He was to go to Nineveh and preach to the hated enemy. Jonah thought that he would rather die than do that, and so he headed in the other direction. He was swallowed up by a great fish and in the belly of the fish he had a change of heart. Jonah then went to Nineveh with God’s message “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be over thrown.” One of the greatest revivals in history broke out and those evil people got right with God.

Many other men and women of God have gone against the grain of the world to be obedient to their Lord. People like Noah, David, Esther, Peter, and Paul were all faithful in obeying God even though the world thought they were foolish.

The point is that when God calls it could be something the world will think is laughable. But make no mistake, if we are faithful to be obedient to God’s call, the world most likely will not be laughing at the results of our obedience. The Midianites were not laughing after the battle was over. The people of Jericho were no longer laughing at those crazy Israelites when the walls came down. And, the Ninevites called a fast and sat in sackcloth and ashes when they heard the one sentence sermon of Jonah.

Is there something that God has been speaking to you about, but you have put it off because you think that you will be ridiculed? Maybe now is the time for you to move forward in faith by going against the grain of the world by following the example of the great men and women of God who have gone before you.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

09.10.15

Take it to the Lord

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 11:28-30 NKJV.

When life gets tough and we’re between a rock and a hard place, what do we do? What do we do when the car is repossessed and the IRS wants the rest? What do we do when the doctor tells us there is no hope? What do we do when we are arrested for a crime we didn’t commit and no one will believe us? What do we do when unexpectedly we are given the “pink slip” and told to find another job? What do we do when we have an addiction that won’t let go, and it is destroying our life?

What are we to do? Do we just “grin and bear it?” Do we “count our many blessings?” Do we “look on the bright side?” Do we put on our smiley face and tell everyone we’re fine when we’re really dying inside? Do we pop a few more pills, shoot some more dope, or go on a week-long drinking binge?

When bad things happen or are happening in my life my response, since I have been a Christian, has always been to pray. When bad things happen, I take it to my Lord. When our youngest son was born with Down Syndrome my Lord gave me strength to continue on and still does. When my wife left me early in our marriage, my Lord intervened, and changed what looked like an impossible situation. When I was in debt up to my eyeballs, God provided the way out. When tornadoes have been headed for us, God has protected us. When I have lacked wisdom, He has come through with the guidance that I needed. When I have been desperately ill, my Lord has brought healing. When I have fallen into sin, He has given forgiveness, and raised me up to serve Him. When I have been depressed and discouraged, He has given me rest, peace and encouragement. When I was lost, and on my way to hell, He found me and gave me eternal life. He can do the same and more for you.

Jesus says, “Come to Me... and I will give you rest.” How can Jesus give us rest? He can give us rest by taking away our burden of sin. He can give us rest by giving us “peace which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).” He can give us rest by giving us supernatural strength to endure our situation “through Christ (Philippians 4:13).” He can give us rest through His supernatural provision “according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).” He gives us rest through His Spirit, through His Word, through His people.

Are you between a rock and a hard place? Are you at the end of your rope and your fingers are slipping? Jesus is the answer. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. Only Jesus can give rest to your soul.

The words to the hymn, What a Friend We have in Jesus, were written by Joseph Scriven. Here are some of the words of the hymn:

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

09.10.15

Disciples

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” - John 8:31-32 NKJV.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV.

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 NKJV.

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV.

What is a disciple? Dictionary.com gives this definition: “a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower.” The term disciple is derived from a New Testament Greek word coming to English through the Latin discipulus meaning “a learner.” The English word “disciple” comes from the word discipline. Merriam-Webster defines the word discipline as, “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character; control gained by enforcing obedience or order;” and also as “orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior.”

Most successful people in this world learn at some point in time that the disciplined life is the easiest life you can live and that the disciplined life is the easiest load you can carry. Who enjoys life the most? Is the one who enjoys life the most a person whose life is out of control? Or, is the one who enjoys life the most the person who has discipline? Millions of dollars are made every day by casinos, liquor stores, bars, drug dealers, and porn sellers. Those dollars are taken from those whose lives are out of control, who have little discipline in their lives. Because their lives are out of control, without discipline, they are carrying a heavy burden.

Who is going to have the abundant life that Jesus talks about in John 10:10? It is the person who will take the yoke of the Lord Jesus upon themselves. It is the person who will come under the Lord’s discipline. It will be the person for whom Jesus is Lord and not just a fire insurance policy.

To be a true disciple of Jesus, we must come under His discipline. What are some of those disciplines?

1. Prayer is one of those Christian disciplines. Who has the lightest load? People who pray, or those who don’t?

2. Bible study is a discipline. Who lives with more peace? Those who know the promises of God or those who are ignorant of God’s promises and of the power of God’s Word?

3. Going to church is a Christian discipline. The Bible says in Hebrews 10, “... not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is.” When we assemble together, we know we have worshiped God and have established relationships with people of God who will be there when life’s burdens must be carried. When we assemble with other believers “love and good works” are stirred up in our lives.

Our burden is made lighter when we accept these disciplines and become true disciples of our Lord. As the apostle Paul says in Romans 12:2, “…do not be conformed to this world.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

09.09.15

Where is the Salt?

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 NKJV.

In August 2008, Russia had invaded and was attacking the democratic nation of Georgia. I asked then, “Will the nations of the free world stand by and allow the destruction of Georgia? If so, which free nation will next fall to the Russians?” We now know the next nation Russia would attack would be the Ukraine. Edmond Burke said it well when he said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Albert Einstein said much the same, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

In a television special on June 6, 1994, observing the D-Day invasion, General Norman Schwarskopf and Dan Rather were walking through the US cemetery on the Normandy coast and General Schwarskopf reflected on the sacrifices of the soldiers buried there. He said, “We should live to make this world worth dying for.” There seemed to be doubt in those words as to whether or not General Schwarskopf really thought this world was worth dying for at least at that time.

There does appear to be a moral decay in this world that is ever increasing. The level of immorality reminds me of the statement made in the last verse of the book of Judges (Judges 21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” The book of Judges records the result of that kind of attitude.

The only thing restraining God’s hand of Judgment upon this world is those Christians, who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Just as salt acts as a preservative in meat and prevents decay and spoilage so do Christians. Christians sprinkled across this world act as a moral preservative preventing or slowing further decay and in some situations even bringing restoration. But sadly there seems to not be enough salt and the decay continues.

Why were Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed? It was a wicked place, yes - but also because there were not even ten righteous people in the place. Not enough salt and what salt it had, Lot, seemed to have lost his savor, his effectiveness.

Does it make any difference how you live your life? Yes, it does! You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Does it make any difference, whether you come to church all the time or just when you happen to feel like it? Of course it makes a difference. Your neighbors know when they hear your car start up and drive by their houses on Sunday morning and when they see you come home with Bibles in hand, they know.

Does it make any difference, whether or not you pray and read your Bible? Of course it does! You don’t want to lose your savor, your effectiveness, your influence for the Lord do you?

Does it make any difference, whether or not you ever tell anyone about Jesus, give someone a tract, and invite them to church? Of course it does! How will there ever be any more salt! How will there ever be any more light! If we don’t win more people to the Lord?

It makes a difference how each one of us lives our life. We should live our lives to make this world worth dying for. You and I are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

09.08.15

Sowing Facts

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. - Galatians 6:7-10 NKJV.

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places…. And some fell among thorns…. But other fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear let him hear.” - Matthew 13:3-9 NKJV.

(Read also the Parable of the Sower Explained - Matthew 13:18-23.)

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. - Matthew 13:24-25 NKJV. (Read the rest of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares - Matthew 13:26-30.)

I used to be puzzled by what would happen after I visited people. Many times the people that I have visited do not ever come to church but the next Sunday other visitors that I have not visited sometimes do attend our church services. Now I understand that it has to do with sowing spiritual seeds, and the spiritual battle in which we are engaged. If you have ever lived on a farm you know about sowing seeds. When I was a boy I would sometimes be allowed to sow an area with seeds. Taking a handful at a time and throwing them out covering the entire area as thoroughly as possible. In a few days I would be rewarded as the seeds bore fruit and the ground would be covered with the crop.

Here are some sowing facts:

Sowing can be bad (Galatians 6:8; Matthew 13:24-25) when used by the enemy.

Sowing can be good (Galatians 6:8; Matthew 13:8) when used by the Lord.

We can sow good or bad into our own lives (Galatians 6:8).

We can sow good or bad into the lives of the lost (Galatians 6:10).

We can sow good or bad into the lives of the saved (Galatians 6:10).

The enemy will resist our efforts and each seed sown is an attack on the enemy (Matthew 13). The enemy will try to snatch away the seeds (Matthew 13:19). The enemy will also be busy sowing bad seeds (Matthew 13:24-25). However, the enemy does not have unlimited forces, but the enemy is organized (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-13). The more seeds that are sown, the more the forces of the enemy are stretched.

If we keep sowing and do not give up, we will reap a harvest (Galatians 6:9), and we can reap a harvest in our own lives (Don’t give up on yourself!). We can reap a harvest in the lost being saved. We can reap a harvest in the saved being moved closer to perfection and the amazing thing is that we will always reap more than we sow (Matthew 13:23).

I took a poll of those present in our church last night (In 2008) of the number of times that they had personally had someone witness to them. Only one person had been witnessed to more than twice. In my own life, I have only been witnessed to twice. I was witnessed to once by my wife and once in a convenience store by a stranger. While I was in school, and since as an adult I have never encountered anyone witnessing to someone else. When you plant a spiritual seed in someone’s life it is a rare occurrence, and it will be remembered. God will use it.

Why not sow some seeds today?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

09.07.15

In the Middle

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” - Luke 9:23 NKJV.

And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write… “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” - Revelation 3:14-19 NKJV.

As Christians we should periodically examine our commitments. Our determination to be faithful to commitments makes up the true Christian life. Before we can become a Christian, we must commit ourselves to turn from sin (repentance) and commit ourselves to have Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Out of the continuation of those commitments flows the Christian life.

Too often after a few years of being a Christian (If not long before), we see people begin to back away from those original commitments. They begin to try to find a middle ground between the world and the Lord. We see many living exactly that way with their lives. They come to church just on Sunday morning if they come at all. They put on their happy faces and know all the Christian things to say. But through the week their Christianity has very little real value to them.

There’s an old saying that is still very true: “If you sit in the middle of the road you will be run over!” If we sit in the middle of the road with our Christianity we will be run over by life. We may try to blame the Lord for it, but we really have no one to blame but ourselves. The Bible often warns and challenges us to living completely, totally for God. Joshua said, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).” Elijah said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him (1 Kings 18:21).” And our Lord says to many who make up His church, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth (Revelation 3:15-16).”

As human beings we like to think that there are no absolutes, and that we can have a little of God and little of the world. However, God thinks in terms of absolutes. You are either totally for God, or you are totally against Him. Here is how Jesus puts it, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).” The result of living in the middle is a lack of life. Instead of the “abundant life” that Jesus came to give (John 10:10) you will have a sorry substitute and the substitute life will give you very little peace, and very little joy. Living in the middle will result in your being like a ship without a rudder being blown this way and that because the Lord will not be guiding you and directing your steps. What happens to a ship without a rudder? Eventually, it will be blown into the rocks or capsized by the waves and destroyed.

Has life run over you? Maybe it is time to get out of the middle of the road!!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

09.04.15

In Him

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ - Acts 17:23-28 NKJV.

While my oldest son, Clark, was in high school; he came close to death at a track meet. Clark was not competing, but helping the coaches. Here are Clark’s recollections about what occurred: “I was in Jr. High, helping out at a high school track meet. I was at the thrower's box, with one end of the measuring tape and Bobby Price at the other. We were measuring the high school girl's discus event. Instead of rolling the discus back in from the field, Bobby decided to throw it. I did turn my head, and if I had not, it would have hit the back of my head, which the doctor said is where the cranium is weak due to it fusing together there while it was being formed. He even said that if it had hit anywhere else than where it did (the hard, thick ridge above my eye), I would have died or had serious brain damage.” When I arrived at the emergency room Clark was awake and alert. The doctor sewed up the wound with several stitches and sent him home.

The frightening thing for us was that as Clark said, he had just turned his head toward his friend when he was hit. If he had not turned his head at that exact moment the discus would have hit him in the back of the head, and most likely ended his life.

Some time ago I attended a funeral service for the father of a member of our church. The preacher made a statement that I’ve heard many times before, but it seemed to stick in my mind that day. He said, “We are all just one heartbeat away from death.” In a moment of time our lives can suddenly end. As true as that is, it is also true that “... in him we live, and move, and have our being.” I know that God turned the head of my son and spared his life.

As we go about our lives we should always be aware of the fragility of life. It is through the power of God that we walk through each day and each night. Each heartbeat is a heartbeat that God has given to us. With each heartbeat there is the assurance of God’s continued purpose for our lives in this world. What is the purpose, what is the reason God has given us for this day? It is a question we should ask each day of our lives.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

09.02.15

The Right Path

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. - Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV.

Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. - Psalm 25:4 NKJV.

Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies for Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great. - Psalm 25:8-11 NKJV.

What way is your life headed? What path are you really traveling? Are you going the way that you want to go - without really considering what God wants? This is the way that our flesh, our natural man wants to travel. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

There is also the way that others would want us to travel. The Psalmist says in Psalm 1:1, “... the path of sinners....” There is another way, a best way, which the Lord wants us to take: “This is the way, walk in it (Isaiah 30:21).”

I remember while working in the oilfield going to a job out in the ranching country west of Canadian, Texas. If you remember the movie, Cast Away, with Tom Hanks that is where the movie ended. He delivered an unopened package with angel’s wings that had washed up on the island to a home near Canadian in the Texas Panhandle (The home is a bed and breakfast now.).

My directions to the job instructed that I was to take the second fork in the road after leaving Canadian. We took the second fork in the road and drove and drove. There are many miles of unpaved roads through that ranching area. We came back to the beginning and took another possible second fork in the road and drove and drove. I enlisted a deputy sheriff to help find the rig location we were to go to. I went back to Canadian and called in for more directions - if only I had had a cell phone! We searched for most of the day and burned up a tank of gas before receiving the directions for the right way to the location.

Yes, it was the second fork in the road but the second fork turned onto a pasture trail with only tracks for the tires of vehicles. We were searching for an actual road traveled by many vehicles but the road we needed was a narrow one!

After traveling this narrow road for about a half mile, we went down into a valley where the oil rig was located. The drilling rig could not be seen from the main road which we had traveled many times by then. By the time we arrived, we were tired, frustrated, and still had a job to do.

How much simpler and easier life is when we have the right directions and follow the right path!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

08.31.15

Wake Them Up

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. - Romans 1:16 NKJV.

The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! - Matthew 13:41-43 NKJV.

In Independence, Missouri 97-year-old Grace George was saved by her cat. At four o’clock in the morning Grace woke up because of her cat’s loud meowing or maybe yowling is a better word. Grace just wanted to get some more sleep, so she put the cat outside, but then she smelled smoke and knew she had to escape from the house. Grace was aggravated about being woken up, but so thankful for being saved from the fire. The fire department believes that lightning caused the fire, which caused about $115,000 in damage. As for the cat, Boo Boo is going to get a special treat, a can of salmon.

If your house was on fire it would not matter to you whether it was two in the afternoon or three in the morning; you would be thankful if someone woke you up, and warned you of the danger. If you saw someone’s house on fire, of course you would do all you could to alert the family inside of the danger, and call the fire department too. If you needed to you might even smash a window or knock down a door to save a life threatened by a fire in a home. There would be no hesitation, and we would each do what we could to the best of our ability to try to save them.

Spiritually there are countless millions, perhaps even billions of people who are very close to facing an eternal spiritual death in the burning fires of hell. What is the appropriate thing to do in order to alert someone to their impending torment in eternity? If you were the one facing death by fire wouldn’t you want someone to try to save you? Wouldn’t you want someone to at least try to talk to you about what is ahead in your future? If someone knew how you could avoid such a horrible fate as eternity in the burning fires of hell, wouldn’t you want them to tell you?

Jesus, Paul, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews all speak of the need for salvation. Why did they mention the need for salvation? Because, there is something to be saved from. There is something to be terrified of, and that terrible thing is called hell. We should be terrified of it because it is exponentially worse than simply dying in a physical fire here on this earth, because hellfire will never ever end, and it will go on and on eternally.

If your neighbor, or your parents, or your children, or your co-workers, or your friends are lost and facing eternal damnation in hell what should you do? What would you do if their house was on fire? Maybe you ought to try to get their attention. Certainly, you should not be ashamed of the gospel and never mention it, but then that is what majority of us do. This is not something that you can put off and put off and never do anything about, because there will come a day when they will slip out into eternity, and it will be too late to tell them how to be saved.

Is there someone you need to warn? Maybe you need to do a little "yowling" and try to wake them up before it is everlastingly too late.

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.21.15

The Message

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” - Matthew 4:4 NKJV.

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. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. - Ephesians 6:17 NKJV.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12 NKJV.

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. - Psalm 119:9,11 NKJV.

The message has finally been received! It only took a little over a century, but the message finally got through! The message was contained in a bottle which was thrown into the North Sea in the early 1900s as part of a marine research project by the Marine Biological Association in the UK. Likely it was part of a project researching ocean currents. The bottle was found by a couple on a beach at Amrum in Germany. The couple sent the bottle, and the message to the Marine association, and they received a shilling that was promised in the message for doing so. Message received, reward given. (Yahoo News 08.21.15; CBC News 08.21.15)

How thrilling it must have been to find the old bottle containing the message! It must have been exciting too for the marine association to actually receive this old message. Even the possession of an old letter or reading the words from it can be meaningful. A year or so ago, we discovered online a couple of letters written by my two great grandfather telling of how he had traveled from Tennessee to Missouri and back. In the letter he also talked about how scarce paper was at that time, which explains why there were not more letters. A few words written down in a message can change your view of people, and of the world.

Did you know there is a letter written to you that is thousands of years old? You know what I am writing about. I am writing about the Bible. It is a message, a living message. Using many human authors God has written you a message. Now, you would think that if God Himself wrote a letter to you and you found it in your mailbox you would immediately open it up and read it. Can you imagine? You open up your mailbox, there is a letter in there, and the return address simply has: GOD. I think I would want to read that letter!

God Himself has written you a letter and tossed it out into the waves of time. Miraculously, even more miraculously than a message in a bottle being found, most of us have a copy of that letter. Have you read it?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

08.20.15

Things Happen

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. - James 4:13-17 NKJV.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. - James 1:5 NKJV.

Last week (2008) a woman who lives in Levy County, Florida saw some kind of animal in her yard, and she went outside to check it out. The animal turned out to be a fox, and it attacked her. The fox bit her on the leg but wouldn’t turn loose, and so she told her husband to go get their rifle. The husband did manage to kill the fox after firing seven rounds from the .22 caliber gun, but he also hit his wife once in the lower leg. She apparently is going to be okay.

Early in our marriage, Jeanie and I were both working at a cotton gin that my father-in-law managed. Our car needed a tune up and there was a garage close to the gin that I took it to. Not long afterwards Jeanie and I heard the sirens of fire engines. We all wondered where they were going since this was a small city. It wasn’t long before I found out. The mechanic came from the garage that I had taken our car to. He said that the fire had been…my car! All the wiring and everything except the block under the hood had been destroyed.

We contacted our insurance agent, and he tried to go to the garage to check out the damage. But he couldn’t check out the damage, because the garage was locked up. The mechanic had left and went to California for a week with our damaged car locked up in his garage. We did finally gain access to the car and after another week our car was finally repaired. Sometimes the cost of a tune up is higher than you might think.

Life seems to always have the potential to throw us a curve ball when we least expect it. We think we know what tomorrow will bring, but we really have no control. We think we will have good health for many years to come, but we know that tomorrow all that could change. We think that we have many years to live our lives for the Lord, but the end of our life could be today. We think that we have plenty of time to reach that neighbor, friend, or relative with the good news of Jesus. But the truth is we may never have another opportunity.

The truth is that life has twists and turns that none of us can predict or foresee. Unexpected things occur in the life of every person on a frequent basis. Some of those occurrences are big, some are little, and some are life changing. Things happen! However, God does know what is coming around the corner and He is the only One who really knows. Let us not depend on our fallible human wisdom, knowledge and resources; but instead seek the wisdom, and guidance of the Lord for each step of every day. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.19.15

Are You Crazy?

When Jesus came into a house, many people gathered around Him again. Jesus and His followers could not even eat. When His family heard of it, they went to take Him. They said, “He must be crazy.” - Mark 3:20-21 NKJV.

Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” - Acts 26:24 NKJV. (driving you insane - NIV; crazy - NLV; mad - KJV – “mad” coming from Greek work mania)

At a popular tourist spot on a river in Alaska where grizzly bears can be seen feeding on fish, a man suddenly appeared in a complete bear outfit. Not only did the man appear, but he ran toward a grizzly and her two cubs, jumping up and down. There were differing reports as to whether the man approached on two feet or four. The grizzly man came within ten feet of the cubs before a wildlife worker took action to scare the actual grizzly and cubs away by shouting. Carl Koch, the wildlife biologist, said “As you can imagine, that's a really dangerous thing for the guy to do.” What did the grizzly man do? He walked back to his car, got in, and drove away without removing his costume. The incident took place about 500 miles east of Anchorage. (Reuters 08.14.15; CBS Seattle 08.17.15)

Most of us know crazy when we see it. A man running at a grizzly mother bear with cubs in a bear suit jumping up and down would get you committed to a mental institution for observation in most states. Maybe not in Alaska, but most states. Did the man want to commit suicide by bear? Did he want to gain fame? Or, was he just mentally unbalanced i.e. crazy? I think most of us would go with crazy, as in insane!

As Jesus went about doing good and teaching, not only did Jewish leaders think he was crazy, but his own family, relatives, friends, and everyone in his hometown thought he was crazy. The apostle Paul encountered the same kind of thing. As Paul gave his defense before King Agrippa and Governor Festus, Festus thinks the great learning of Paul has driven him insane. Paul is simply sharing his testimony of the hope he and the Jewish people have in the resurrection of the dead, and of how Jesus had worked in his life. The recounting of how the crucified and resurrected Jesus encountered Paul on the road to Damascus may have been a bit much for Festus to swallow.

Jesus and the apostle Paul were both called crazy for proclaiming God's truth and actually living it. What about you and me? Has anyone ever accused us of being crazy for being on fire for God? Are you insanely crazy for Jesus? If not, why not? What has happened to your fire? Has the cares of this world choked out your fervor? Throw off the chains of this world, and let's all go crazy for Jesus!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

08.18.15

Dangerous Sleep

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. - 2 Corinthians 4:1-4 NKJV.

But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. - 1 John 2:11 NKJV.

One morning about ten years ago (1998) I woke up with a ruptured disc in my back with severe pain down my left leg (A few weeks later the pain was gone and my back was much better.). Two weeks after that morning I woke up with a brown recluse spider bite on my left leg (It slowly healed and it is hard to even see the scar now. I am very thankful for all who prayed for me and to the Lord for answering those prayers!) I can only conclude after those two incidents that sleeping can sometimes be dangerous!!

Of course Samson could confirm that sleeping is dangerous (Judges 16:19). Sisera could also confirm that sleeping is dangerous (Judges 4:21) and there are several others that could as well in the Bible. Eutychus could confirm that it is dangerous to sleep in church (Acts 20:9). But the most dangerous sleep of all is the spiritual sleep of those who have been blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). Those blinded by the god of this world (satan) appear to be unconcerned about death. They appear to have little concern for anything other than the material world. Spiritually you can only describe them as being asleep to the reality of eternity. There seems to be so many of them and they think they know where they are going, but “the darkness has blinded” their eyes.

It may be that the reason so many are blinded by satan is that there is another category of sleepers. That category is the sleeping Christian. The apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8, “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”

Time is rocketing forward as we move closer and closer to the time when our Lord Jesus returns. The time that we have to reach those blinded by satan is running out. Let us wake up and reach out to those around us who are so close to entering eternity without Christ and without hope. As the apostle Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy (1 Thessalonians 2:19).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

08.17.15

Where Are They?

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:7 NKJV.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. - Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV.

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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. - John 3:16-18 NKJV.

Sometimes Jeanie, Nick and I go to cemeteries to find where our ancestors are buried. On our recent trip to Texas (2008) we visited a couple of cemeteries where some of Jeanie’s ancestors are buried. When I walk through a cemetery I always try to read at least some of the inscriptions on the headstones. Some just had the names and dates, others had short inscriptions, and some are now unreadable. I liked the inscription on Jeanie’s three great-grandmother’s headstone which says, “She died as she lived trusting in God.”

You can’t walk through a cemetery like that without being touched by the tragedies of life. So many lives cut short, many while only children. With each headstone you see a marker representing lives lived out here on Planet Earth. As I look at the headstones I wonder sometimes whether they knew Jesus as their Savior. I wonder where those people are at now? Are they with Jesus, or are they in that other place of torment?

There are so many people going out into eternity each day. They are all around us. Does anyone care about their souls? God says that He cares. Not only does He say that, but He also demonstrated it through Jesus suffering and dying on the cross. John 3:16 tells us of God’s great love. But how will these people on their way to eternity without a Savior ever know of God’s love? God has a plan and it involves you and me. What is the plan? God says to you and me, “Go therefore....” in Matthew 28:19.

God cares, but do we? Do we care enough to be obedient to the command of God? Do we care enough to share with someone lost and on their way to an eternity of terror how to have salvation? We say we care, but do our actions demonstrate that we actually do? We have an example, His name is Jesus, and He cared enough to die for you and me. How much do we really care?

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.12.15

Begin

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. - Genesis 1:1 NKJV.

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? - Luke 14:27-30 NKJV.

There are many weeds that have sprung up on our property since the drought has ended. In the ten years since I have taken over the care of the grounds around this home from my father, there has not been anything like this. I look at all of the weeds and grass, and I think of it as being a jungle. How am I ever going to tame this jungle? Where do I even begin? I did arrive at a conclusion yesterday that it really does not matter so much as to where I begin, as it does that I actually begin cutting down the jungle. So, I mowed as much as I could, and then got out my 4-cycle weed wacker and began to cut down the jungle. It still looks like an almost impossible task, but since I have actually started do something about it, I think it may just be possible to tame my jungle. Beginning the work has made the impossible appear to be possible.

Beginnings are important. God made a beginning as we read in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Now Jesus does warn about counting the cost of building a tower before beginning to build, and of the cost of following Him. However, if a person who wants to build a tower does not begin, it will never be built. Also, if a person does not actually begin to follow Jesus, the spiritual journey will never begin.

Most of us have had many beginnings in our lives. We were born. We began to attend school, we began our careers, we began our married life (for many of us), and we may have begun a business venture or countless other things.

Spiritually, there are beginnings. The first step spiritually is to be “born again” as Jesus says in John 3:3. Once we know Jesus as our Savior having been born again, we need to take up our cross and follow Him. In the following of Jesus there are many beginnings. I remember the first time I memorized Scripture in a Vacation Bible School one summer. I remember beginning to pray, not just every so often, but faithfully every day. I remember making a commitment that I was going to attend church faithfully whenever it was possible for me to do so whether my family went with me or not. I remember making a commitment to read God's Word and to memorize it. I remember how God called me to ministry and how there was a beginning that went beyond knowing to actually making public in a church that God had called me. I remember beginning to preach, that first time. I remember selling our home and moving into a parsonage as we began our lives in ministry. There was a beginning as I began to send out devotionals by email. There was a beginning as I created a website and began to post the devotionals there. Many beginnings....

At some point, we need to begin in the Christian life. At some point, we need to actually pick up our cross and follow Jesus.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

08.11.15

Follow Him

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. - John 10:27-28 NKJV.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” - John 8:12 NKJV.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” - Luke 9:23-24 NKJV.

With the huge popularity of satellite navigational systems have come a few problems. The problems result from some of the imperfections in the systems including some minor details. Apparently, one of those minor details is knowing the difference between a highway and a river! Most of us would consider that to be an important thing to know. I think at least one taxi driver in England would certainly agree with that. The taxi driver was closely following the directions of the Sat Nav system, and when directed to turn into the River Nar, followed those instructions. Thankfully, it is a small river, and they were able to easily rescue the driver and a local farmer using a tractor pulled the vehicle out of the river the next day.

Early in my adult life I had a lot of problems. I was very selfish, lazy, easily became angered, kept making the wrong decisions which created tensions in my marriage and there were other problems…. The biggest problem that I had was that I was spiritually lost. My spiritual navigational system was still uninstalled and inoperable. Because of that, I kept running into rivers full of problems, and at times it looked as though my life would never find the right way.

Everything in my life began to change from the moment that I prayed to receive Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. All my problems did not immediately disappear; however, course corrections were being made. It took a year and a half and great trauma in my marriage before I began to pray regularly, faithfully every day. It took almost eight years before we were in church on a regular basis. It took ten years before I was reading and studying the Bible as I should. Along the way my problems (selfishness, laziness, anger, lying, making unwise decisions, and other problems) began to disappear from my life. Along the way I found that my problems were being replaced with joy, peace, love, and meaning in life.

If your life is out of whack, out of synch, and you have all kinds of problems like I have mentioned there is only One who can lead you out of the mess. Only by following Jesus can you find the right way for your life. Some of you have known Jesus for many years, but your life is still a mess. If that is your situation, and you are sitting in the middle of a river of problems you need to brush the dust off of your Bible and recheck the instructions. God has the directions that you need for your life. So, what do you need to do? Here’s what Jesus says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

The Burning Bush Devotional

08.05.15

Time for Action

And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” - Exodus 14:15-18 NKJV.

I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. - Philemon 1:1-6 NLT.

On July 4th, in DeLand, Florida, Heather Charlebois was sitting outside at a table at the Cafe Da Vinci. There was a lot of noise from fireworks being exploded when she suddenly felt a sting on her leg. Heather says, “My first thought was somebody hit me, slapped me open handed really hard on my leg and pinched me, but it did not make any sense because I didn't see anyone.” She went to the bathroom to try to see what was causing the pain. There was a spot on her leg with a little blood, and some fluid draining from the spot causing her pain. Heather says she just thought that somehow she had been hit by an errant firework. Five days later as the wound did not heal, and the pain was becoming unbearable with friends encouraging her to seek medical aid, she finally did go to a hospital emergency room. An X-Ray revealed a .38 caliber bullet lodged close to an artery. Heather says, “I feel very fortunate, I have four kids and we have been through a lot.” It is thought that during the fireworks someone fired a gun into the air from some distance away, which landed, unfortunately in Heather Charlebois' leg. Or, fortunately the bullet landed in her leg, because it could have been her head. (Daytona Beach News-Journal 07.09.15; Fox News 07.10.15)

What would have happened if Heather had not finally relented and sought medical aid? It is likely that an infection could have become severe enough for it to be necessary for part of her leg to be removed to save her life. Of course, we put off medical treatment when it may not be necessary, because of the hassle and the expense. However, sometimes you have to take action, because the failure to do so would have horrific consequences.

Action is required in other areas of our lives too, including spiritually. We often pray and pray about things when what is needed is for us to actually do something. Moses was in this situation as Pharaoh had the Hebrews trapped between them and the Red Sea. Moses was praying, crying out to God for help. What did God say? “Why do you cry to Me?” In effect, God told Moses to do something; that Moses had all the tools needed to get them through this situation. When Moses acted the Hebrews were able to walk across the Red Sea on dry ground to safety, and the Egyptians were destroyed.

The apostle Paul pleaded with Philemon to put into action his faith saying, “And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.” Of course, we need to pray, but there are times when action, our action is required. It may be that God is saying that you have all the tools and resources that are needed. Do Something!

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.28.15

Kicking Yourself

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” - Acts 9:1-5 NKJV.

Saul answered, “Who are You, Lord?” He said, “I am Jesus, the One Whom you are working against. You hurt yourself by trying to hurt Me.” - New Life Version (NLV).

Puskar Nepal has set a new world record. A lot of strange records have been set, and this one is pretty strange as well. Puskar has set the record for the number of times a person is able to kick themselves in the head in 60 seconds. Puskar's new record: 134 times! He lives in Nepal, and it was in Kathmandu that the record was set, and will now be recorded in the Guinness World Records. This is the eighth time that the Kicking Yourself in the Head record has been broken since 2003. The first record was set by Michael Lloyd with 42 kicks to the head in 60 seconds. Amazing! I can't even make my foot touch my head....

Before the apostle Paul was the apostle, he was known as Saul the persecutor of Christians aka the Way. Saul was on his way to Damascus to try to destroy the followers of this Jesus who lived there. He was consumed with hate, his every thought was of the killing out of this sect that had arisen. It took something drastic to change the course of Saul's life. It took something never heard of before to gain his attention. It took Saul being struck blind, and for the risen Lord Himself speaking to him. What was it that Jesus told Saul? Jesus told Saul that by attacking those of the Way, by trying to attack Jesus, Saul was just hurting himself. Jesus told Saul, “You hurt yourself by trying to hurt Me (NLV).” Gamaliel had warned in Acts 5:39, "...if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.” Saul had been fighting against God Himself. He had just been kicking himself in the head.

Which side are you on? Are you on the side of God? Or, are you on the other side? If you are not on God's side, you are just hurting yourself; you are just kicking yourself in the head over and over and over again. Saul finally came to an understanding of the truth, and changed sides. What about you? Have you become a part of the Way? Have you joined the side of Jesus Christ who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)?”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2011

07.20.15

Until Jesus Returns

Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’” - Luke 19:12-13 NKJV.

With the rise of the Islamic world, and with the current instability in the Middle East, we see the rapid approach of the conditions necessary for the End Times as described in the Bible to become reality. With Islam, we see a radical, violent, religion that desires, and demands that all of the world become Islamic. With Islam, we see a religion that believes that their 12th Imam will only come onto the scene through destruction and chaos. The Islamic 12th Imam as currently described by Islamic leaders, has similar characteristics to the antichrist described in the Book of Revelation. It appears that there is very little standing in the way to prevent the beginning of the seven years of tribulation.

The United States and Israel are the primary things holding back the Islamic tide. However, the United States is rapidly being neutralized in regard to support for Israel. It also appears that our liberal courts are making it easier for the implementation of Sharia law in the United States.

It is only a matter of time before Israel is attacked by the Islamic countries that surround the country, and by other countries that hate them. It may even be a coalition of the willing sanctioned by the United Nations. When that attack occurs it will be devastating for those countries attacking Israel. When that devastating attack occurs; it will trigger, I believe, the rapture (Which could occur, and I hope occurs, prior to the attack.), and the seven years of tribulation. With that in mind, I want to address what we as believers should be doing between now, and when these events occur.

First, we should be increasing in maturity as believers, becoming more and more like Jesus. We are told this in 2 Peter 3:11-12, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” In 2 Peter 3:14 we are told “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”

Second, we are to evangelize the lost. Before Jesus ascended to heaven He told His disciples their priorities in Acts 1:6-8, “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’” Jesus made it clear that they were, and we are, to be His witnesses.

Third, we are to encourage other believers. In Hebrews 10:24-25 we are told, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

It is easy with all of the horrible things happening, and the prospect of terror attacks in our own countries, to just throw up our hands, and think what is the use of doing anything? We must not lose sight of our Lord's instructions. The precise timing of the Lord's return is not important, although His return is closer than ever before. What really counts is taking as many people to heaven with us as we possibly can. What should you be doing when He returns? Where should you be when the trumpet sounds, when the archangel shouts, when in a twinkling of an eye we are changed, and rise into the clouds to meet Him?

What has the Lord given you to do? Do that. Do business until He returns.

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.17.15

Ending Chaos

This devotional was originally written 08.02.02.

(Update: There is an increasing amount of chaos across the world with much of it coming from Islamic extremism. Yesterday, a jihadist attacked in Chattanooga, Tennessee killing four marines and severely wounding one sailor. There was chaos in that city, and even though we may not live there, many of us felt that chaos in our hearts. Islam cannot end chaos, it can only create it. Only the One True God has the power to end chaos in our hearts and replace it with peace. – Ed Wrather 07.17.15)

There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. - Romans 3:10-17 NKJV.

Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. - Proverbs 4:14; 17-19 NKJV.

Why did a 54-year-old French woman drive 12 miles (18 km) up the wrong side of a French highway? No one knows, but she was arrested and placed in a psychiatric hospital. Really it was a wondrous miracle that the woman was not killed in her wrong way drive! There were, however, seven accidents involving 18 vehicles as they tried to avoid the woman. Two people were injured slightly in the chaos created between the cities of Toulouse and Bordeaux, and it is even more of a miracle that no one was killed or severely injured in the chaos created by the wrong way drive.

There are many whose lives resemble the wrong way drive of the 54-year-old woman made in France. Is your life like a car being driven the wrong way up a major highway? If so, many of the accidents, and much of the chaos in the lives of everything around you may very well be the result of your wrong way life. You may realize that things are not quite right in your life, but that’s the way it has always been, and so you think it can never change. Solomon writes in the book of Proverbs, “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.” The apostle Paul writes in the New Testament, “…destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known.”

You do not have to live your life in the darkness, in destruction and misery. You do not have to live your life continually stumbling. You do not have to live your life causing chaos for all those around you. You do not have to live your life in frustration and depression, because you can come out of the darkness! Solomon also writes, “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.”

We can become “just” not through any good works that we may do, but through Jesus. We are told in Romans 5:1, “…having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” When we receive Christ as our Savior and focus our lives upon Him, we will come to an end of chaos in our lives. Romans 8:5-6 makes this clear, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

Even further direction is given by the apostle Paul about how you can put an end to chaos in your life in Romans 13:12-14, “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 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.”

Let us “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and then our path will be “like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.10.15

Good for Your Soul

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. - Psalm 33:20 NKJV.

In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. - Psalm 94:14 NKJV.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. - Proverbs 16:24 NKJV.

Kate Steinle was walking with her father along the Pier 14 waterfront in San Francisco when she was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant. Pier 14 is a popular tourist spot and gathering spot for local residents. Kate was out for an evening stroll with her Dad. She was just 32-years-old. Liz Sullivan told the San Francisco Chronicle soon after her daughter was killed that it was unbelievable, surreal, and “I don't think I've totally grasped it.” The killer is Francisco Sanchez who is an illegal immigrant, reportedly a drug dealer who has been deported at least five times (Although having used 30 aliases over 25 years it could possibly be more.). Brad Steinle, Kate Steinle's older brother wrote this: “The day before Kate died she changed her Facebook cover photo with a saying that said ‘Whatever's good for your soul..........do that.’ Please always remember Kate and live your life by these words.” (From multiple news venues)

So, what is good for your soul? I do not believe we can fully understand what is good for our soul unless we understand what is bad for the soul. The Bible makes it clear what is bad for the soul. 1 Peter 2:11 tells us that “fleshly lusts war against the soul.” Lot living in the evil of Sodom and Gomorrah “tormented (vexed - KJV)” his soul “day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds (2 Peter 2:4-9).” If we commit adultery we destroy our own soul (Proverbs 6:32). According to Proverbs 15:32, he who “disdains” instruction in righteousness, “despises his own soul.” By being around angry people you may learn their ways (Proverbs 22:24-25) and “set a snare for your soul.” If you sin against God, you wrong your soul and love death (Proverbs 8:37).

From learning what is bad for our soul, we can see what is good for our soul. These things are good: abstaining from sin, being around godly people, the Bible, praying, church, helping others, having a generous heart, and putting God first in our lives. The number one thing, or should I say person that is good for our soul, is Jesus. Only through Jesus, can we have eternal life (John 14:6). Jesus is the “anchor of our soul.” Let us “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Romans 13:14).” Therefore, whatever is good for your soul…do that!

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.29.15

America's Downward Spiral

Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people. - Proverbs 14:34 NKJV.

Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. - Psalm 12:1 NKJV.

Ben Carson says America is in a downward spiral because “we have abandoned God.” Carson also said: “It was our Judeo-Christian values that allowed this to be an exceptional country, that allowed us to move forward so incredibly quickly and as we abandon God, you can see that we are spiraling downward just as quickly.” (A Google search for this will give results for multiple articles.)

Justice Antonin Scalia said this in 2013: “To the extent that the country is in a downward spiral, it’s not because of the law, it’s because of the people. You can’t have a good country without good people. I fear we have lost some of the virtues that characterized Americans in the past.” (The Daily Revielle 10.13.13 - Q & A at Baton Rouge Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society)

According to the Christian Examiner (07.01.2012) polls show morality in America is on a “disappointing downward spiral." Gallup polls revealed that more than 50% of America believed homosexuality was morally acceptable, believed having a baby outside of marriage is morally acceptable, and 38% believed abortion was morally acceptable.

An article by Carol Brooks, “What Happened When the Praying Stopped” gives statistics as to the moral downward spiral in America since 1962. Here are a few of them:

“Since 1963 violent crime has increased 544%. Illegal drugs have become an enormous and uncontrollable problem. The nation has been deprived of an estimated 30 million citizens through legal abortions just since 1973.” Read more at: http://www.inplainsite.org/what_happened_when_the_praying.html

Billy Graham wrote this in 2012: “Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, ‘If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.’” In the same letter Graham wrote: ‘Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control.’”

Psalm 12:1 describes what is occurring in America with those faithful to the God of the Bible disappearing, “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.” Without faithful believers who are the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” immorality is without restraint.

America has been exalted among the nations and along with that exaltation has come God's protection. As sin has become more and more a “reproach” there is less of God's protection. As sin increases, evil increases and more attacks upon America are successful. It is the same in an individual's life. If we turn away from God we will find ourselves in a downward spiral with our lives falling apart. The solution for our country and individually is to turn back to God. When we turn back to God, He will begin to bring healing, putting things back together in our country and our lives.

How low do we have to go? How bad does it have to become before we turn back to God?

What can we do if we personally are in a downward spiral? James 4:7-8 tells us what to do, “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.”

What can we do to stop the downward spiral of America? As Christians, to the best of our ability we must stand for what is right, what is the straight principled way of God. Will we fear what man can do? Or, will we stand up for our God? They hate us, because they hate God. They hate the light that exposes the evil, which condemns them. May we do all we personally can to shine the truth of God across this country. May we pray without ceasing for the people to turn back to God, for there to be revival before it is too late, before judgment comes, and our future as a nation is destroyed.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 1998

06.24.15

Blindsided

Today I was run over by a truck. Not really, it just felt like it!! I thought I was looking after the interests of our church as a pastor should. I thought that what I had wanted was what would be in the best interest of those affected the most. It feels almost like a truck has run over you when a Christian brother or sister does something that is most uncharacteristically Christian and hurts you and others. It hurts even more when there is little that you can do about it at the time, but still that human flesh wants to get even.

My first response was that I wasn’t going to let them get by with this, I can cause them trouble. But then that didn’t sound very Christian either. What was it Jesus said? Where was that? Matthew 5..verse...39, “...resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” There’s more! “And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” Here’s the one that gets to me: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

There is really an amazing thing about giving a situation like mine to the Lord along with all the anger, with all the pain. The amazing thing is you can almost feel the hurt, the pain drain away. I know that God will now use this situation to bring about good, which maybe He is already doing through this devotional.

Is there a situation in your life that is causing you pain, distress, anger? Place all of that in the hands of Jesus. Allow the Lord to take care of it for you. When you do that, you will find as I did that it makes life much, much easier!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2002

06.24.15

How to be Happy: Forgiveness

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. - Matthew 6:12 NKJV.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. - Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV.

Psychologists for years have concentrated on the negatives, but there are a growing number who are now focusing on the positives. Positives such as how we can be happy, and what it is that makes a person happy. One of the character traits that contribute to happiness, has been found to be a readiness to forgive, or an easy forgiveness. Psychologists have found that the trait most strongly linked to happiness is forgiveness. University of Michigan Psychologist Christopher Peterson says of forgiveness, “It’s the queen of all virtues, and probably the hardest to come by.”

Those who are Christians know what a great weight unforgiven sin can be. As Christians we also know what a great joy it is to go to our Lord Jesus in confession and repentance, and be forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). What joy to know that the weight, the burden of our failures has been washed away, and that we have been made as white as snow in the sight of our God! In much the same way that the weight of our own sin bears upon us, there is also a burden, a weight, a cost for being unwilling to forgive others. That burden is in knowing that we are living outside of the will of God. That cost is a high cost coming in the form of increasing unhappiness, and often resulting in a physical manifestation of deteriorating health.

How can we forgive when someone has hurt us? We must always remember that we were the enemy of God and yet Jesus died for us that we might be forgiven. Our love for our Savior should be more than our hatred for our enemy. God calls upon us to forgive, He pleads with us to forgive, He warns us to forgive. The Bible has much to say about forgiveness: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses (Mark 11:25).” “…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do (Colossians 3:13).” “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).”

If you are having difficulty forgiving someone, begin to pray for that person and ask God to bless their lives. At the same time, ask God to help you to be able to forgive. I think you will find that it is very hard to harbor hatred toward someone you are truly praying for. Allow yourself to be happy. Forgive!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

06.23.15

Your Nineveh

So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. The he cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. - Jonah 3:3-4 NKJV.

When I was in the eighth grade, I had the unpleasant experience of attending shop class with a bully. He was a head or two taller than any of us. He had failed a couple of grades and moved to our little school from a large school in California. His name was Gene, and Gene’s entertainment consisted of making life miserable for others; each day he would pick on someone. My turn finally came when he had me down on the ground hitting me, and there was absolutely nothing that I could do about it. Gene moved after that year, and I have not heard what became of him. For several years even after becoming a Christian, I could have cared less about what had happened to Gene, but I did finally forgive him.

Jonah had a problem with an even larger bully. The bully was the evil nation called Nineveh and the Ninevites who lived there. We know the story. The word of the Lord came to Jonah to go and preach in that evil place. Jonah, we know refused, until he had a little attitude adjustment in the belly of the great fish. The word of the Lord came to Jonah again, and the second time Jonah went to Nineveh there was a great revival. Jonah only had a one-sentence sermon, but it was enough to bring the city to its knees.

What was the biggest obstacle to revival in Nineveh? Jonah was the biggest obstacle. One self-righteous person stood in the way of the greatest revival of the ancient world. The word of the Lord came to me about my bully. He has been on my prayer list for many years now. I do not know where he is, but God does. Any old bullies, antagonists, Ninevehs you’re still having bad thoughts about?

I’m not sure that Jonah ever forgave the Ninevites for the evil acts that they had committed. However, if we want to have peace and be in a right relationship with our Lord; we must forgive those who do us wrong. Why? Because, our Lord has forgiven us. Jesus teaches us to pray in Matthew 6:12, "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Jesus says in Matthew 6:14-15, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

Revenge, getting even, getting back at someone is always much more enjoyable than extending forgiveness. Forgiving someone is always difficult when their offense against you is serious. It is only through the power of God that we can forgive those offenses. In 1947, Corrie ten Boom came face to face with a former concentration camp guard who had been one of her and her sister’s tormentors during that difficult time in which her sister Betsie died. The former guard was now a Christian. He extended his hand toward Corrie and asked her to forgive him. Corrie knew that forgiveness was an act of the will, but still it was so very hard. She silently prayed for Jesus to help her. She lifted her hand, and as she grasped his hand she was able to say that she forgave him. As she did so, tears came to her eyes, and she was able to hug him and call him her brother. Corrie said that was the most intense moment of experiencing God’s love in all of her life. Incredible!

It could be that if you have a lack of joy and a lack of peace in your life that you need to forgive someone. It will not be easy, but in the act of forgiving; you will experience the love of God, and you may also gain an opportunity to share the love of God.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

06.12.15

Christian Growth

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. - Hebrews 5:12-14 NKJV.

Tragically, many of us do not grow to maturity as Christians. Others grow slower than some. I know exactly why I did not grow, as I should have after receiving Christ as my Savior. It was because I was not praying, as I should have. I was not reading God’s Word, as I should have. I was not attending church as I should have, and I was not serving God, as I should have. Whenever I began to do those things, I began to grow as a Christian. Sadly, my lack of growth caused all kinds of problems and only when I began to grow did those problems begin to go away. I could have saved myself, and those close to me so much pain if I had immediately started praying, attending church, reading the Bible and actively serving the Lord.

To grow as children of God our spiritual nature must be fed. The apostle Paul is speaking of that in Romans 8:5-6, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” In Romans 13:14 Paul tells us, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” We are to clothe ourselves with Jesus, and instead of thinking about how to gratify the flesh, we should be thinking about how to feed our spiritual nature.

Paul gives us some things to feed the spiritual nature with in Philippians 4:8-9, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, 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. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” We know Paul said to follow him, because he was walking in the steps of Jesus. We know that Paul was preaching the Word of God. We know that he was a man of prayer. We know that he was very, very busy in the service of His Lord.

On a scale of one to ten, where are you at as a Christian? Have you grown in maturity since salvation, or do you still need to be taught the basic “...principles of the oracles of God?” The good news is that we can grow if we want to grow (If you have no desire to grow as a Christian you need to examine whether you actually have a relationship with Jesus.). Ask God to help you to grow as His child and become more and more like Jesus.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

06.10.15

The Mountain of Life

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. - Romans 5:3-5 NKJV.

I have heard of the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon where the course is 26.2 miles, and I am always incredibly impressed by the endurance of those who can even finish such a race. However, I have recently learned of an even more difficult race; it is a 100-mile endurance race, and one of those races is run in Vermont. Their website says, “The Vermont 100 Endurance Race is one of the original 100 mile runs in the USA and a part of the Grand Slam series of Ultrarunning. Each year, 300 runners attempt to finish this hilly race over beautiful Vermont back roads and trails under the 30 hour cutoff point, and a well-trained few finish in under 24 hours. The current course record is 14:53:09.” Now that really is incredible, and you have to have endurance to finish that race!

Endurance is defined as (1 ability to bear prolonged hardship: the ability or power to bear prolonged exertion, pain, or hardship; (2 toleration of hardship: toleration of prolonged suffering or hardship; (3 persistence over time: the survival or persistence of something despite the ravages of time. When I was in college the last time, I considered entering a doctoral program. One professor shared with me some of his experiences in obtaining his doctorate, and graduate school in general. He summed it up by saying it was just an “endurance contest.” He said there were many people who were intelligent enough, and even more intelligent than he was, but they did not endure long enough to receive their degree.

According to the apostle Paul, the problems, trials, and tribulations of life require “perseverance,” or as the KJV puts it, “patience.” It sounds like Paul is saying there are some things in life that require endurance. To live the Christian life requires that we endure the temptations of this world, the flesh, and the devil. To live a Christian life we must persevere in the face of harsh and critical words from those around us. We must persevere with kindness in return for the hateful things, which are sometimes done to us. We must persevere in the face of temptation; resisting for one more day.

As we persevere day by day, over time we will see that Paul was right. Over time, we will see that perseverance develops character, and this godly character produces hope. In many ways, life is like a climb to the top of Mt. Everest. Stacy Allison, the first American woman to climb to the summit of Everest said this, “The end of the ridge and end of the world... then nothing but that clear, empty air. There was nowhere else to climb. I was standing on the top of the world.” Let us keep on climbing to new heights with Jesus, because some bright shining day we too will stand on the top of our mountain, a mountain called, “Life.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.02.15

Throw Him Out!

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. - 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NKJV.

Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah. And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers, and the offerings for the priests. But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense. - Nehemiah 13:4-9 NKJV.

In Pennsylvania, an elderly woman with some physical disabilities was unable to climb the stairs to the second story in her home. The elderly woman had a caregiver, which unknown to the homeowner, had invited the caregiver's boyfriend to live in the second story of the home. Apparently, the boyfriend had been living in the second floor of the home for several weeks before visiting family members discovered him hiding in a closet. Local police were able to remove the man, and have charged him with some law violations. The family has now found another caregiver and will be much more watchful of what might possibly be lurking in the upstairs of the home. (NBC News 05.22.15)

It would be shocking and even frightening, to know that a stranger was living unknown in your home. What Nehemiah discovered in the temple at Jerusalem was even more shocking. He found that Eliashib, the priest, allowed Tobiah the enemy of God to actually live in the temple. Tobiah, along with Sanballat were leaders of those attempting to prevent Nehemiah from rebuilding the wall of protection around Jerusalem. Not only was Tobiah living in the temple, but Eliashib had “prepared” the “large room” for Tobiah to live in. Nehemiah had a solution to the problem which grieved him, “I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.”

What does this have to do with us? The body of a believer in Jesus is the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, “You are the temple of God.” What are you allowing to live in the temple of God? Have you invited sin to dwell alongside of the Spirit of God? The Bible says, “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” The solution is not easy, it wasn't easy for Nehemiah either; but Tobiah, sin, must be thrown out. Throw him out!

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.01.15

Unworthy

Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? - Romans 8:34-35 NKJV.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39 NKJV.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Hebrews 13:5 NKJV.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! - 2 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV.

Alfred Guercio wanted to give his friends a nice and generous Christmas gift. So, he bought them a set of knives, which they accepted, and placed on top of their refrigerator. A few months later Guercio discovered that his friends had not used his gift, and the knife set was still on top of their refrigerator. Guercio decided that his friends were unworthy of having his generous gift, so he went to their house one afternoon to take the gift back. That's what he told JMS (a woman), since they were not going to use the knives he wanted them back. JMS was willing to give the knives back, and told the man to wait while she went to get them. Guercio did not want to wait; wedging his foot in the door as JMS was trying to close it. He then forcefully shoved the door open, proceeded to the kitchen grabbing up the knives as JMS screamed at him. JMS called 911. Guercio was arrested, charged with second degree burglary, and could go to prison for 90 days to ten years. I think it should have been first degree burglary, since there was a person in the home when he violently stole the knife set. (Minneapolis City Pages 03.17.15; kstp.com 03.16.15)

Can you imagine the shock of someone you thought of as your friend, showing up at the door of your home unexpectedly, demanding the return of a Christmas gift? I think Guercio should be happy that his “friends” actually had kept the knives, because they could have regifted them to another family. Just in case you didn't know, when you give a gift to someone else, it is no longer yours!

Whoever receives Christ Jesus as their Savior can be thankful that it is not Alfred Guercio who sits in judgment of their worthiness to continue in possession of the gift of eternal life. Of course, there are many humans today who do want to do exactly that; they, in what they believe to be their higher level of godliness, think it is their right to judge us. These human judges put themselves in the place of God to condemn what God has forgiven. These human judges would say that if we have sinned at any point that Christ Jesus has forsaken us. We can take comfort knowing that the Bible makes it absolutely perfectly clear that this is not, and will never be true; because Jesus Himself says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” We will lose our fellowship, and peace when we sin, but not our salvation. To have that fellowship and peace restored we should confess our sins in repentance to Jesus seeking His forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says what? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

God has given to us who know Jesus as our Savior a most costly, generous and precious gift. God's gift was generous and unbelievably costly, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).” God's gift was, and is so very precious, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).” Are you worthy of this gift? Am I worthy of this gift? Isaiah 6:6a tells us how worthy we are, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” We can only say with the apostle Paul, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.29.15

Things Happen

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV.

Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. - 2 Corinthians 12:10 MSG.

Joseph T. Brennan, Jr. had an accident, sort of. Brennan describes the cause of his accident by saying: “I lit a cigarette with the gunpowder in the front seat.” The cigarette ignited the gunpowder, and then, BOOM!, there was an explosion. He reportedly told the police, “I wasn’t going to do anything malicious.” The explosion blew out the car windshield along with other car windows, and blew Brennan out of his car. He suffered burns, and his hair was singed. Officers searched his car, searched his house, and charged him with one count of possession of components of a destructive device and three counts of possession of a destructive device. Police officials say that Brennan did not have malicious intent, and his neighbors were not in any danger. Well, unless he decided to smoke a cigarette at his house. (Patriot Ledger 04.14.15)

Joseph Brennan was the source of his accident; however, many of us simply encounter unexpectedly things that just happen. James Crawford was on his way to work in New Jersey in 2012 when the operator of a construction crane allowed a gigantic steel beam to float into the traffic stream. The beam ripped off the entire top of Crawford's van. Crawford suffered a few cuts and a broken thumb. Morgan Lake in 2013 was on her way to visit relatives when her accident occurred. It was not her fault that a large semi-truck did not slow down, and pushed Morgan's car off of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The windshield and the driver's side window had been shattered by the impact, and the car plunged three stories into the bay. The vehicle quickly began to sink; Morgan unbuckled her seat belt, somehow got out of the shattered driver's side window, and swam to the surface. She suffered only bruises from her accident.

These accidents that I have mentioned are only a few of the millions of things that happen to people every day. Some accidents are caused by our own carelessness, or the carelessness of others. The cause of some accidents, are hard to explain. Of course the crash of a plane on a routine flight in the Congo, was easy to determine. Someone had brought a small crocodile onto the plane. The pilot and 18 passengers were killed in the crash. The crocodile escaped from the bag it was in, and the passengers panicked; stampeding forward, they caused the plane to plummet to the ground. There was one survivor, and he reportedly took care of the crocodile with a machete before exiting the remains of the plane (Mailonline 07.23.14).

Every day on Planet Earth, there are millions, perhaps billions of good and bad things that happen. This is a fact of life, and the proof of this is all around us. These good and bad things happen not only to non-believers, but also to believers. The message from God through the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 in part is that we should not let these things that happen hinder our service to the Lord. Through the writer of Ecclesiastes God gives us a similar message: “If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; and if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie. He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap (Ecclesiastes 11:3-4 NKJV).” The message is the same; don’t let the things that happen on this earth prevent you from sowing a crop. Continue on living the Christian life, share the gospel, and sow the seeds of Truth (John 14:6) everywhere and every time you possibly can.

The Burning Bush Devotional

05.26.15

Can't Be True!

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. - Acts 2:22-24 NKJV.

And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. - Acts 2:40-41 NKJV.

If someone applied to work at your business in these days you would of course be careful about hiring a new employee. So, if someone filled out their application saying they had previously lived in the city of North Pole, graduated from North Pole High School, and had work experience working as an elf in Santa Claus' House...would you hire her? That cannot possibly be true! However, the truth is that Joyclin Jaksons grew up at North Pole, Alaska, and did graduate from North Pole High School. She also does have work experience having worked as an “elf” in Santa Claus' House, which is a souvenir shop. The shop does a lot of business during the summer. Joyclin went to college in Oklahoma, and did have some trouble finding a job, because of her unbelievable background. The good news is that someone did check out her story, found it to be true, and found an excellent employee. (Edmond Life and Leisure 05.07.15; Daily Oklahoman 05.23.15; Fairbanks Daily News 05.19.15)

It had to be shocking to hear the apostle Peter preaching that the one who had been crucified, the one whom they had shouted to have crucified, had come back to life! How could this possibly be true? But God, through the Holy Spirit, was speaking with that double edged sword of truth with every word Peter spoke that day. Three thousand were saved and brought into the Kingdom of God, because they were able to see that the unbelievable was actually true. That was just the beginning!

In Acts 3, we read that a man who had been born “lame” unable to walk all of his life, was healed through the power of God. How could that possibly be true? Peter says to the lame man begging for money, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk (Acts 3:6 NKJV).” The man then jumped up, running into the Temple; leaping, and praising God!

When the High Priest had the apostles thrown into prison, the angel of the Lord released them, and sent them back to testify to the “words of this life.” The High Priest then forbid them to preach, and Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” They plotted to kill the apostles then, but Gamaliel warned, “if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”

Saul, who became the apostle Paul, persecuted the church until on the Road to Damascus, “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me (Acts 9:3-4 NKJV)?’” Saul, came to understand that what could not possibly be true, was indeed true!

It may sound like the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot possibly be true, but it is true! If you have been rejecting, and rejecting, and rejecting the truth of Jesus being the only way to salvation (John 14:6); Gamaliel would tell you not to be found fighting against God. Saul, who became the apostle Paul, would tell you not to wait for the blinding light of truth to bring you to a sudden stop in your life, because the Gospel is true, it is all true! Billions have believed the truth since the powerful sermon of truth preached by the apostle Peter nearly 2,000 years ago. It is still true! Believe it!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

05.22.15

Running from God

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You. - Psalm 139:7-12 NKJV.

For more than a year (2007), we have been trying to tame a feral cat, and we have made progress. I can now pick up the cat for short periods of time, although I do have a scar across the back of my right hand from one of my early attempts. Recently, I read about a woman in Tennessee and her experience trying to help a cat there. Tabitha Cain had been feeding the cat for several years. Somehow, the cat got its head stuck inside of a peanut butter jar. Tabitha’s mother says, “We tried to get her, but being the type of cat you can’t catch, she kept running and hiding.” Tabitha said, “I thought she was going to die with that jar on her head.”

The Cain family would see the cat from time to time with the jar on its head, but they were unable to catch it. The cat lived that way for 19 days until finally, the cat was so thin and weak they were able to capture it, and remove the jar. The cat is now eating again and appears to be doing fine.

Sadly, we human beings often act like wild cats. Even though we may be in terrible shape physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually we refuse to receive help from the only One who can really help us. We run and we run trying to find our own way with the world’s suffocating jar around us, choking the life out of us. It does not have to be that way!

God loves you and He wants to help you. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).” “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).” While we were still the enemy of God, Christ Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us. While we were still like a cat scratching Him, He died for us. Those scars on the hands of Jesus are from us. We inflicted those scars upon Him, but He still loved us, He still died for us, He still calls to us and longs to wrap His arms around us and give us peace. Jesus calls out to you and 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 11:28-30).”

Isn’t it time to stop running from God, to stop running from the One who really has the power to help you? Allow Him to take the world’s jar off of you and give you life, abundant life. Where do you start? Just talk to Him. Tell Him that you are tired of running and need His help, and He will pick you up in His loving arms.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

05.20.15

Building Your Life

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 NKJV.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has been famous for centuries, however, it is no longer the most leaning or tilted tower in the world. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the tower with the most lean in the world is to be found at Suurhusen, Germany. The new world record holding tower of lean is a church steeple that is 25.7 meters in height with a tilt angle of 5.07 degrees. The Tower of Pisa tilt angle is only 3.97 degrees. However, the Tower of Pisa is more than twice as tall as the steeple, and in the opinion of many is more beautiful than the steeple, but it no longer holds the record. At least it is scheduled to lose that status with the publishing of the 2009 edition of the Guinness book.

This story was especially interesting to me since the tornado we had (May 2007) induced a very severe lean to our church steeple (It is only 26 feet tall.). It knocked the steeple completely over, and it was barely hanging on by a twisted bolt immediately after the tornado. Our steeple has now been repaired and reinstalled. On the day our steeple was reinstalled, the crew working on the project kept adjusting the steeple so that it would be straight. Depending on what direction you are looking from, the steeple does appear to be straight, although from one direction I am not sure. I have told everyone to just remember that our steeple has gone through a tornado. It just has a little more character than it had in the past.

The reason for the leaning of the Tower of Pisa is a poorly laid foundation on soil that allowed the foundation to sink, causing the entire tower to lean. The faulty foundation was the cause of the entire problem. There has been a large amount of money spent in the last century, and this century to try to stabilize the structure, and they hope those efforts will succeed.

In a very real spiritual sense, our lives are buildings. Each day we build our lives a little more. The success of all of this building effort is dependent upon the foundation. What is it that we are building our lives upon? Matthew 7:24-27 is the ending of the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus. If we want the right kind of foundation for our lives, we will build as Jesus describes beginning in Matthew chapter 5. If we have that kind of foundation for our lives, when the tornado comes it may knock us down, but we will rise up and continue on with even more character than before. However, without the right kind of foundation we will not just lean or fall, but we will be washed away when the storms of life come our way.

You can work hard all your life and have billions of dollars in your bank account, but without the right foundation, your life will not stand when judgment comes. We need Jesus as the foundation of our lives, or everything we do in life will have been wasted.

What is the foundation of your life? Who is the foundation of your life?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

05.15.15

I Don’t Believe This!

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Matthew 19:23-26 NKJV.

What would you think if a 600 or so pound cow suddenly dropped on the hood of your vehicle? It happened to Charles and Linda Everson while they were on a trip to celebrate their first wedding anniversary at Manson, Washington. The cow fell some 200 feet off of a cliff. It does seem strange, because unlike sheep, cows usually have more brains than that. The cow as you would expect suffered severe injuries, along with the Everson’s minivan. The Eversons somehow escaped having any injuries. One official said that they had escaped being killed by only inches. Charles Everson kept saying, “I don’t believe this. I don’t believe this.” Most of us would find it hard to believe too, I know I would.

Jesus told in Matthew 19 of how hard it is for a rich person to be saved. It was hard then, and it is still hard today for someone who has a great amount of wealth to be saved. Because, those people with great wealth tend to trust in their wealth instead of God. However, as Jesus pointed out, with God it is not impossible. It may be unexpected, but not impossible. We often hear about how God is in the business of making the impossible possible. He is also in the business of making the expected turn into the unexpected; so much so that we walk away saying, “I don’t believe this. I don’t believe this.”

Now, I do not believe God caused the cow to fall off the cliff onto the Eversons minivan, but it is very likely that He had something to do with their miraculous escape from injury; that escape from injury would be completely unexpected. I am not a good enough mathematician to calculate the odds of a cow falling from a 200-foot cliff onto a minivan traveling at x number of mph/kph not killing the occupants of the vehicle. My guess would be that the odds would be astronomical for such a thing to happen. I have never even heard of a cow falling off of a cliff onto a moving vehicle before, have you? Totally unexpected….

What did the sailors expect would happen when they threw Jonah overboard? The great fish swallowing Jonah was very unexpected. What did all of David’s family, the Israelites and the Philistines expect to happen when the shepherd boy walked out to face the giant Goliath? They expected David to be slaughtered, and for the Philistines to overcome the Israelites. The impossible became possible, and the expected disappeared, as the unexpected became reality. All through the Bible, what people expected was swallowed up in the unexpected becoming reality.

What are you facing in your life? What is going on in your life? Your expectations could very well be swallowed up by the unexpected of God’s hand upon your life. Are your expectations the same as that of God? Why not ask Him? You may be surprised to find the unexpected taking place in your life.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

05.13.15

Stormy Seas

Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” - Matthew 14:22-33 NKJV.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. - Revelation 21:1 NKJV.

I was listening to a song by the Christian group Selah yesterday (2007) about walking on stormy waters. I don't believe that I had ever comprehended what they were saying before. Here are a few of the lyrics:

You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

(To read more of the lyrics or to find out more about Selah - go to Selahonline.com.)

Many of us have been struggling in the stormy seas for a long time. We are not walking on the waters, instead; we are struggling to keep our heads above water. The stormy seas we sail are not the Atlantic or the Pacific, but instead are the seas of health issues, relational problems, financial needs and more.

John Ortberg’s book “If You Want to Walk on Water You have to get out of the Boat” is a classic. For the apostle Peter to walk on water he had to get out of the boat. What faith that must have taken! How did He do it? He did it by faith. He did it by having his eyes on Jesus. What happened that made Peter begin to sink into the sea? It was when Peter took his eyes, his focus off of Jesus, and began to look at the waves tossed about by the wind that he stopped walking and started sinking.

We have our own seas to walk upon, or for many of us, not walking, but just trying to keep our heads above the waves. The wind is blowing us this way and that way. There are problems to the right, and there are problems to the left. There seems to be no end, with another phone call, an email, or the next day’s mail that brings an increase in the velocity of the storm.

How can we do more than keep our heads above the waves, above the water? We have to put those stormy seas into their proper perspective. They should not be the focus of our lives. We know that they are there, and they have to be dealt with, but it does not have to consume us. There is still life, real life to be lived. We walk on top of those stormy seas and live life by keeping our focus upon our Lord Jesus Christ. We maintain that focus through prayer, reading the Bible, being active in church, and serving Him; no matter how high the waves around us may be. At times, we may begin to sink like Peter. When that happens, do what Peter did. Cry out to Jesus, and He will lift you up to walk on those stormy seas once again.

As the Bible closes out in the last pages of the book of Revelation, we have a great promise that some great wonderful day there will be “no more sea.” Someday the stormy waters of life will be gone, there will be a new Heaven, and a new Earth filled only with joy.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

05.11.15

Jump In!

And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it….” - Genesis 6:13-15a NKJV.

And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. - Genesis 6:17-18 NKJV.

Then the Lord said to Noah, "Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.” - Genesis 7:1 NKJV.

And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in. - Genesis 7:15-16 NKJV.

Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days. - Genesis 7:23c-24 NKJV.

This morning on CNN (2007), I watched as Dr. Roger Bielasz stood looking at the old swimming pool that had saved him and his wife from the inferno of fire that had engulfed the area, destroyed their home and killed their neighbors. Roger and Dena huddled in the cold water under a rocky overhang for what Roger described as “an eternity and a half” which was actually about three hours. The rocky overhang and the water protected them from the firestorm, and the burning embers falling down all around them. They jumped into the old pool that they had at one time planned to fill in, and they survived. One scrap of a page from an old book of Dr. Bielasz’ mother survived with the words, “no will but God’s” on that surviving scrap of paper.

What a horrific experience! To barely escape from your house, and then watch as your house burns down wondering all the while whether or not you will survive. If only their neighbors had been able to make it to the pool, they would have survived as well. However, it may be that they had no warning, and without any warning it was just too late to escape that terrible fate.

This all reminded me of the disaster that came upon the people of Noah’s age. Noah had some warning, decades of time, as he built the huge ship that would carry the animals and his family to safety. The people of that time could not have ignored the building of the gigantic ship on dry land. If only they had turned to God before it was too late, they too could have been saved. However, it was only the animals and the family of Noah that were onboard the Ark when the hand of God shut them in.

There is a spiritual firestorm raging around us today, and countless millions have already succumbed to the deadly rampage, having gone out into eternity bound for a devil’s hell. It does not have to be this way! God has provided an Ark, a place of safety for us; if only we would turn and jump into it. The Ark of this time is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Ark! He is the swimming pool of safety. He took our punishment upon Himself; suffering and dying for us so that we might have a Savior, that we might have an Ark of safety.

Through the mercy of God, we have been warned. Before it is eternally too late, let us jump into the Ark, the Ark of Jesus Christ and be saved.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2002

05.08.15

The Lord is Our Strength

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. - Psalm 27:1.

Some years ago my wife’s aunt Lilly was out mowing her lawn when she felt a sharp pain in her leg. Her first thought was that the lawn mower had thrown a rock, which had embedded itself in her leg. The doctor, however, found that she had been struck by a bullet. Lilly lived on the edge of a small town, and it was thought that a hunter’s bullet had gone astray. In the midst of the sniper madness in the Washington D.C. area (2002) a vehicle driving down the highway had the windshield blown out. At first it appeared that it might have been the work of the sniper but birdshot was found, and it was the first day of hunting season.

It is much easier for us to deal with the random unintended dangers that surround us all the time than it is to cope with people who intentionally inflict harm. However, whatever danger we may encounter or face our God is still God. He is no less able in either type of situation. David was facing the intentional threat from enemies without and at times from within his kingdom. Whatever the threat we see David doing the same thing over and over and over again. In the face of danger David turned to his God. Only in God could David find relief from the stress and strain of overwhelming fear and threat.

We live in a modern world, which is rapidly changing, and it appears as it changes it is becoming more and more dangerous. In the face of these dangers and threats, it will be tempting to question God. Where were you God? Why didn’t you do something God? Why didn’t you help me God? Why did you let this happen God? In the life of King David, we see a person who went through it all. He was on top with the defeat of Goliath but not long afterwards King Saul hunted David like an animal for years. Later when David was king, he faced an internal threat from his own son who was finally killed and the threat was ended. In the face of all these threats and dangers, we have David writing the great Psalms. We love to read the Psalms of David and to meditate on them because they were written by someone who had not only been on the mountaintop but also had experienced the very depths of despair.

As we face known and unknown dangers and threats let us follow the example of David and draw closer and closer to our Lord and Savior. May we say with David no matter what may happen, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

05.01.15

Get Out!

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. - Genesis 12:1-5 NKJV.

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 NKJV.

Nearly one million people were forced to evacuate to find safety from the raging fires in California in 2007. None of them wanted to leave and some wanted to less than others. Authorities were forced to force people to leave their homes to keep them safe. As I heard in one report, an officer shouted at a family, “Get Out! I told you to get out! Get out now!” It is so very sad to see these people suffering. “Fear, shock, loss,” said a news anchor to sum up the situation for so many of those affected by the fires.

It is always difficult to face a change in circumstances and it is exponentially more difficult to face a sudden totally unwanted change as they are facing in California. Sometimes we must stand our ground, persevere, rebuild and keep on going. Sometimes we must get out of the way of what could be very harmful to us, to our family, or perhaps to future generations. Sometimes we need to be open to change, and sometimes that change that is required may be drastic.

Abraham was comfortable living in relative comfort and civilized surroundings until in his seventies he had a sudden change of circumstances. At the age of seventy-five, God called Abraham to leave his comfortable surroundings and begin what would become a great adventure. Not only did Abraham have to move, but also his entire family. It changed his life, and life of his descendants forever. Was this change easy? No. Was this change wanted? Unlikely. Was the living of life after leaving their home easy? No. At times, it was very difficult. Was it God’s will? Yes.

We may be forced to change the way we live our lives. It may come about by a raging fire, a tornado, or a hurricane. At other times, the change may come about through a sudden job loss or a downturn in the economic activity of an entire industry or nation. I once was laid off from three jobs in one year, and survival becomes the driving force of your decision making. Or, as in the case of Abraham, it may be the voice of God that directs your making a change. Whatever the cause, we should be constantly in prayer during those times of change seeking what God wants in our lives.

Even in the worst disasters good can come. Yes, it is terrible, and always will be a terrible thing, but if we are willing, God can bring some good out of it in our lives. Are you willing to trust God? Are you willing to follow His plan for your life?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

04.28.15

Nothing Left

(With the current natural disaster in Nepal leaving people on the streets with nothing, and the manmade disaster in Baltimore, this devotional can provide encouragement.)

Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way. So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. - 1 Samuel 30:1-6 NKJV.

The fires are still burning in California (2007) and we need to pray for God to intervene, and help all those affected. I watched and heard so many heart breaking stories yesterday on the news, sadly there are many more today. Many have been injured, and two have died in the fires. I received an email today to pray for a family of nine that had lost everything except for the clothes they are wearing.

Yesterday, one family told of how they were able to load up their cars and barely evacuate in time before the fires burned it to the ground. They thought they were safe when they stopped their cars, but the wife’s car caught on fire, and burned up with everything in it that they had tried to save. Ten minutes later the husband’s car also burned up, leaving them thankful just to be alive and together.

Of course, we need to remember that the rain falls upon the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). It appears that the fires in California are doing the same, burning down the homes of those living for God, and those who are not living for God. Why? Because bad things have happened on Planet Earth, ever since Adam and Eve sinned. God loves us so much that He has a plan to correct everything, but that plan required Jesus Christ to suffer and die on the cross for our sins. Someday, everything again will be perfect like it was in the Garden of Eden for those who know Jesus as their Savior. No matter what may happen to us here on this Earth, we must always remember that God cares, and He has proven that by what was done on the cross.

What do you do when you lose everything? David had lost everything; he had lost his possessions, his home, and his family. He had nothing left. How could he recover from such a loss? The Amalekites had taken everything, but God was just using them to bring David back to Him. David had lost his focus and we can understand. He had been the hero of the nation, but had become a hunted man. David had begun to listen to his own voice instead of to the Voice of the Lord. As a consequence, David was living among the enemies of his people, the Philistines. Fighting in some ways against his own people, the people of God.

We see people doing the same kind of thing today. Things get a little tough, they become discouraged and instead of moving closer to the Lord, they move further away. They blame the Lord for their problems. They stop praying, they stop coming to church, they stop reading God’s Word, and they stop doing anything for the Lord. Some actively oppose the work of God’s people. But for many it becomes even worse. So many times people turn to alcohol, or drugs or they gamble, or they become angry and bitter; and they too end up losing everything.

David had a similar situation. He had lost everything. What would he do? Give up? Take some sleeping pills? Drink some wine? No! David did what we need to do if we have lost it all. David we are told in 1 Samuel 30:6, “...encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” This was while the people were talking about stoning him!! David turned to God and asked God what to do. God gave him a plan, and as a result, in verse 19 we read, “...David recovered all!”

If you have lost it all, why not turn to God? Ask God what His plan is for your life at this point in time. Ask God how you too can recover. He’s waiting.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

04.27.15

Strangers in the House

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

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 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 1:12-15 NKJV.

Kim Ledford went on a lengthy vacation and finally returned to her home. Shock, would be a mild term for what Kim experienced after arriving at her home. She walked into her house, and discovered that there was a woman wearing her clothes, and an unknown man was in her bed. Another man confronted her, and asked why Kim was in his house! The police were able to find the truth, and arrested the strangers for burglary. Now these strange people have a new home called a jail.

Can you imagine the shock that Kim Ledford must have felt to have all of those strange people inside her home? It would have been even stranger though, if Kim had invited them to stay, and live there with her. Of course, Kim did not do that, she immediately called the police. However, many of us are not as smart, let me explain.

When we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes to live within our hearts and lives. Our physical body becomes the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Our body is the Holy Spirit’s house, and that house has been swept out and made clean (2 Corinthians 5:17). What happens to that house when the strangers show up? Let me rephrase, what happens to that house, your house, when sin knocks on your door? Do you call out to the Lord for help? Or, do you invite those strangers of sin to come on in and stay a little while?

It sounds very strange, because we as Christians know that sin is deadly. We know that sin is as bad as giving a baby a rattlesnake to play with (Romans 6:23a), but too many times we tolerate sin. We tolerate certain levels of sin. We know that sometimes those shows on TV and the movies we watch are inappropriate, but we watch them anyway. We know some of those books that we read contain things that Christians should not read, but we read them anyway. We tell our little white lies, because we don’t want to hurt anyone. Some of us drink and smoke, and may even use some illegal substances sometimes, but nobody is getting hurt are they? Some of us flirt and say things that are inappropriate, but it’s all in fun, right? Some of us… _____ (just fill in the blank).

The sad truth is that when we invite the strangers of sin into our lives, we are just asking for trouble. If we allow them to stay around, it will result in a downward slide with our growing more and more apart from where God would want us to be. If we allow those strangers to stay, the thief will have stolen our lives away, and we will never experience the abundant life that our Lord wants us to have. Ask the Lord to give you the strength to throw those strangers of sin out of the house.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

04.24.15

Going Crazy

A fool’s wrath is known at once, but a prudent man covers shame. - Proverbs 12:16 NKJV.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. - Proverbs 15:1-3 NKJV.

A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention. - Proverbs 15:18 NKJV.

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. - Proverbs 16:32 NKJV.

The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression. - Proverbs 19:11 NKJV.

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 4:31-32 NKJV.

Jeff Goza unintentionally cut off a driver of a Volvo and according to Jeff, it was clear that the Volvo driver was upset. The driver of the Volvo, Steven Stankovitch, followed Jeff and tried to cut him off too. However, Steven lost control; hit a curb causing the Volvo to flip four times. He then climbed out of the vehicle, which was now on its roof; and tried to start a fight with Jeff, who just tried to let Steven take out his frustrations. Steven now has some legal problems.

Maybe it was the high price of gas that drove Patricia Sasser crazy on a Tuesday morning. She and another woman arrived at the gas pump at about the same time. However, the other woman already had the nozzle in her hands. So what do you do? Patricia grabbed the gas pump nozzle and both women fell to the ground. Patricia then swung the metal nozzle at the other woman hitting her. Patricia now has some legal problems too.

A teacher’s aide to a fourth grade teacher somehow became upset with a student. The student had picked up a post-it note from the floor and stuck it to her forehead. The aide threatened to staple the note to the girl if she did not remove it. The student ignored the order, and the aide pushed the stapler against her forehead leaving two puncture marks. The teacher’s aide now has to look for another job.

I could list story after story about people becoming upset and overreacting. It has become a national pastime with collateral damage everywhere that we look. From children to the elderly, overreaction has become almost the norm.

What was the old adage? Before you do something stupid count to ten? That may not have been it, but still it might be helpful. Before you go crazy and ruin your life, and probably the lives of everyone in your family, take a moment to meditate on the consequences. Better yet, memorize some of these verses about anger and meditate on them. Yes, the Lord will forgive you. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins….” However, the consequences for those sins are still going to occur.

All the school shootings, the work place shootings, the road rage, and on and on and on; we cannot stop it all by ourselves, but we can stop ourselves from contributing to the problem. We can try to train up our children so that they will not contribute to the problem. It is not always possible, but we can try. We can try to be a godly and kind influence on the lives around us. We can do that and maybe, just maybe, there will be a ripple of kindness that flows out from this devotional to your life to another life to another life, which will bring peace instead of craziness. As the apostle Paul put it, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:17-18).”

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.23.15

Behaving Wisely

And David behaved wisely (The Hebrew word is sakal) in all his ways, and the Lord was with him. Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them. - 1 Samuel 18:14-16 NKJV.

18-year-old Austin Hatfield who lives in Hillsborough County, Florida, is in the hospital in serious condition; because…he kissed a snake! Oh, he not only kissed the snake on top of its head once, but 13 times, and that last time was when the Cottonmouth (aka Water Moccasin) bit Austin on his face. Reportedly, Austin had caught the snake while swimming and decided to keep it. Apparently he had also performed the snake kissing on a previous occasion. A friend, James Belcher, said they were at Austin’s home when this incidence occurred. Belcher says that, “We were sitting in the kitchen and he ran out of the room saying, ‘Hospital, hospital, now, now.’” (yahoo7news 04.23.15; WTVY 04.22.15)

In this life there are some things we know, without being told, that we should not do. Kissing a poisonous snake is one of them! However, is kissing a poisonous snake any worse than smoking a cigarette when you know it causes cancer and heart disease? Is kissing a poisonous snake any worse than drinking or doing drugs when you know the horrible toll they will take on your body? The difference only seems to be in the time frame. Kissing a poisonous snake results in immediate negative reinforcement whereas with smoking, drinking, or doing drugs the negative consequences may take years to have full effect. Austin Hatfield may possibly recover from his snake bite, but smoking, drinking and doing drugs will likely result in permanent damage.

King David behaved wisely (sakal) before the people and the Lord. In other words, David didn’t go around kissing snakes! David behaved wisely when confronted with the jealousy of Saul. Saul threw a spear at David intending to kill him. However, David did not throw the spear back, although he could have. David acted wisely by not overreacting and harming Saul, the Lord’s anointed.

The Hebrew word sakal carries the idea of prospering through wisdom and understanding. We see the word used in regard to David’s behavior. The word is also used 69 other times in the Old Testament including Joshua 1:8, “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.” The word “success” in Joshua 1:8 is the Hebrew word sakal. Someone who has “sakal” is a person who is teachable; and, able to learn and obey the Lord.

You too can have “sakal.” You can avoid kissing poisonous snakes and behave wisely following the example of David. Don’t overreact when there is opposition in your life. Do develop God honoring relationships with other believers as David did with Saul’s son, Jonathan. Do grow in wisdom by studying the Word of God. Then, you will behave wisely and have “good success.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

04.20.15

Turn Back

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me (when you have turned back - NIV), strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” - Luke 22:31-34 NKJV.

Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. - John 17:24-26 NKJV.

In 1975, I began working in the oilfield in pipe inspection. The money was good, but it was the most miserable job that I had ever had. I was still praying every day and before long I was asking God to give me a different job, because I hated the one that I had. It was as though God was not listening. He knew exactly what I was asking, thinking, doing and feeling; but He was not answering, because sin had entered into my life.

The oilfield for the most part, at that time, was filled with many forms of evil. Alcohol and drug abuse was rampant, along with other forms of immorality. The hard work seemed to be used as an excuse to go out and live like the devil. Party all night and work hard all day. Every month or so we would have a job out of the area and would have to spend a week or two living out of a motel. Of course, this only increased the availability of all of the above that I mentioned. After work, we would go eat and before going back to the motel, we would all go to a bar. It was the expected and accepted thing to do in that environment.

Now I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and every night I would ask God to forgive me, and give me another job. But I kept on doing what I wanted to do, and kept on missing out on what God had for my life. God surprised me with His amazing grace, demonstrating that He knew right where I was, and what I was doing, and that He still cared enough about me to warn me.

One night when we were working out of town, and having to stay in a motel, I called my wife. Jeanie told me that I had gotten a letter. I had a small mail order business setting lyrics to music, and apparently, the woman that wrote me the letter had seen my ad. It was an anonymous letter and began, “Dear People.” the woman that wrote the letter obviously had some mental problems, but God was able to use her anyway.

The letter was some seven or eight pages long, Jeanie read every word, and with every word the conviction of my sin grew. The letter told about how sin had destroyed this woman’s life and it was a warning to others to flee from sin. By the time Jeanie had finished reading the letter, I knew that this was not a letter from some mentally deranged person; this was a message STRAIGHT FROM THE HAND OF GOD TO ME.

I had a choice at that point; I could listen to God, or continue my rebellion even in the face of His warnings and love for me. It was enough for me to immediately fall to my knees, and begin crying out for my Lord’s forgiveness. The next day I left my driver’s license at the motel, and after work as usual we ate, and then I tried to get them to take me back to the motel room; but they wouldn’t do it. They took me with them, and tried to force me to go in the bar with them, the same one we had been in the night before. However, they would not let me in because I looked so young, and didn’t have an ID. So, I sat out in the truck for several hours until they finally decided to go back to the motel, and that is what I continued to do the rest of the time we were away from home.

I believe that God wants to bless us, and I have experienced God’s blessings upon my life when I do what He wants me to do. Two weeks later, after my encounter with God through the letter, I suddenly had a job like paradise compared to the one that I had before. (An excerpt from “Journey to Fruitfulness” my online testimony and you can read the whole story at the Burning Bush website.)

Isn’t it time for you to turn back to God? He’s waiting. Jesus has prayed for you just as He prayed for Peter, and He has a life better than you ever believed possible waiting for you.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

04.17.15

Priorities

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. - Matthew 6:19-24 NKJV.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. - Matthew 6:33 NKJV.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. - John 10:10 NKJV.

In August, investigators for the Pentagon found that some things that appeared to be priority-shipping items were only scams. A business in South Carolina shipped a couple of metal washers, which cost 19 cents per piece to a military base located in Texas. The shipping costs for those two metal washers were truly astronomical. It cost $999,798 to ship those two little washers! But it does not stop there, because the business scammed a total of $20.5 million from the Defense Department in fraudulent shipping charges!! This scam was made possible by the Defense Department having a “priority” shipping policy. When invoices for shipping were labeled “priority” the policy was to pay the invoice without question or investigation.

What may appear to be a priority or is said to be a priority in your life may not actually be either, they may actually just be scams depriving you of life. One of those supposed priorities is to have money to buy things, it is called, materialism. We are continually bombarded with advertising in all forms of media to buy this, to buy that, to have something, or to own something. Almost from the time that we are born, we have this constant input of the materialistic world implanted into our hearts and minds.

Why is materialism a scam robbing you of life? Because your focus, your energies are placed toward obtaining those material things. But once you have all those material things that you have worked so hard to have, do you have more life? No. I would submit to you that after you have all of the material world that any human being could possibly want, that you still would not have any more life. Actually, you will have less life, because all of your focus and energies that you have placed upon the material could have been used to gain more life by putting first the Kingdom of God.

Money and things can never buy love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit; and what God wants each of His children to have. What is it that you have been trying to buy with your life? Maybe it is time to place your focus, your energies, in a new direction that will bring you far greater returns. Stop being scammed by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Put the Lord first in your life, and He will reward you with life, real life beyond anything this world can give.

The Burning Bush Devotional

04.10.15

Trapping Yourself

A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. - Proverbs 18:6-7 NKJV.

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; he who guards his soul will be far from them. - Proverbs 22:4-5 NKJV.

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. - 2 Timothy 2:24-26 NKJV.

…not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. - 1 Timothy 3:6 NKJV.

Everyone in Fairfield, Maine can now rest easy because the notorious police evader and social media poster, Christopher Wallace, has now been caught. The arrest was made thanks to his posting his exact location on Snapchat. Wallace was arrested on burglary charges stemming from theft of propane and wood stoves and violation of administrative release. The arrest of the man was made possible by the participation of many notifying the Sheriff’s Office of his social media posts.

When Christopher posted on Snapchat that he was at his home in Fairfield, Maine citizens notified the Sheriff’s Office; deputies and police officers then responded going to Wallace’s house and searching it for him. Law Enforcement was unable to locate Wallace, until…he posted on Snapchat that police were searching his house, and he was hiding in a cabinet. Many citizens then called the Sheriff’s Office again reporting where in the house the man was hiding. The Sheriff’s Office posted this on their facebook page after the arrest: “Over the past few weeks, since our press release looking for the public's assistance in locating him, Mr. Wallace had become cocky. Which led to his downfall.” (Huffington Post 03.24.15; Morning Sentinel, Waterville, Maine via AP 03.24.15)

On one of the trips we made in our country, I observed a couple of older High School boys say to another boy, “What are you doing acting like you are something?” I think it had to do with the way the boy was dressed, and he just ignored the other two boys. Apparently Christopher Wallace thought that he was, “something!” You could say that he was like the devil in that he was “puffed up with pride.”

Have you ever thought you were “something?” Pride is a dangerous thing which blinds us to reality. It blinds us to our need for God, and as with the devil, pride can cause us to believe that we are almost a god ourselves. Because of whatever has made us think we are “something” we tend to think of ourselves as better than others, and smarter than others. As we see with Christopher Wallace, this can cause us problems just as pride resulted in the devil being kicked out of Heaven.

Pride is an insidious thing, which is, as the Bible indicates a snare for our soul. Proverbs 22:5a says, “Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse.” “Perverse” in Strong’s Concordance means “distorted, false, crooked, froward.” The word “perverse” originates from Middle English meaning, “facing the wrong way.” Pride is the complete opposite of what God wants the attitude of His children to be, and with the devil, we can see the ultimate outcome of pride. Pride is literally “facing” away from God, and it is the sitting of a snare, a trap for our souls. We must as Proverbs 25b says, guard our souls against the snare of pride. The good news is as Proverbs 22:4 says, “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.” If we will humble ourselves before God, we will avoid much evil in this life, and He will lift us up (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

04.03.15

Finding Life

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’” And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened. - Luke 24:1-12 NKJV.

If you had been one of the women who went to the tomb of Jesus on that Sunday morning of the resurrection, what would you have thought? How would you have responded? You have to remember that a huge stone had been placed in front of the entrance to the tomb and a seal had been placed on it. In addition, guards had been placed at the entrance to make sure that nothing happened to the body of Jesus. When the women arrived at the tomb the stone has been rolled away and the guards are gone (Matthew 27:66). The body of Jesus is not there! They expected to find the body of a dead rabbi, and they fully expected that he would remain dead.

When the women told the disciples about what they had seen, their words “seemed to them like idle tales.” In other words, the disciples thought the women were crazy to be saying something like that.

Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself. He found that the tomb was empty, except for the burial clothes or cloths. How did Peter react to this scene? The NIV translates it in this way “…wondering to himself what had happened.” Even though Jesus had plainly told his disciples that He would be put to death. In Luke 18:31-33 we are told: “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.’”

Too often we have problems similar to those of the women and of the disciples when we are trying to find help spiritually. We try to find solutions to life’s problems, but we look for those solutions in the cemetery. The spiritual solutions that we need will not be found in the dead ways of the world. Taking another drink, popping another pill, having another affair, buying a new car, and on and on; will not give us happiness, peace, and fulfillment. Jesus, the Prince of Life, is the One, who can give you life, and life more abundantly. Jesus is the only One who has the power to lay down His life and to take it up again.

Too often we read about God’s power, and we think it is crazy to believe that God can change anything in our own lives. The disciples thought the women were just crazy for saying that Jesus was not in the tomb. The truth is that the resurrection power is available today through Jesus Christ, and that power can change your life. That’s what Easter is all about!!

May you have a glorious Resurrection Sunday!! May the Lord touch your life in a fresh and new way!!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

03.31.15

Mistaken Identity

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. - 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV.

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 NKJV.

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance…. - Ephesians 1:11a NKJV.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. - Ephesians 1:3 NKJV.

Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. - Ephesians 1:5 NKJV.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. - Ephesians 1:7 NKJV.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. - Ephesians 2:19 NKJV.

In Elk City, Oklahoma, a 21-year-old man had been drinking, and was walking back to his hotel when he stumbled into the path of a car. The man was knocked unconscious and sustained other injuries. He was mediflighted to Oklahoma City about 110 miles away. He did not have any identification other than his shirt, which on the back in large letters said “INMATE.” Thinking the man was on the loose from the Department of Corrections of some state, the effort was begun to contact Corrections’ officials. However, no one had any information related to this individual, and when he finally woke up he told them he had bought the shirt at a convenience store.

This 21-year-old man can be thankful that he survived his injuries and that when he woke up he didn’t wake up in a prison medical facility. Lessons learned: Drinking can be harmful to your health, and wearing a shirt with “INMATE” on the back might not be in your best interest. Oh, and you might want to carry some identification with you.

Some of us who are Christians have a mistaken idea about our own identity. Some of us prayed to receive Christ as our Savior and then went back to living just as we had before. When you receive Jesus as your Savior, your identity is changed, transformed and you are no longer a stranger and foreigner to God; you are no longer an enemy of God. No, things have changed and they will never be what they were before. Why? Because you are a “new creation” and “old things have passed away” with “all things become new.” Why? Because you have become a child of God. You have been adopted into the family of God through Jesus Christ. You have “obtained an inheritance” and been blessed with “every spiritual blessing.” No, you are no longer, what you were; instead, you are “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

Maybe you have been confused about your true identity. If you know Christ Jesus as your Savior, you may have been involved in all kinds of evil, sinful things in the past. But those things have passed away, and it is now time to begin to live your new, true identity. You are you see, a child of God. You are part of the royal family of the King of kings. Let us live like it!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

03.30.15

After the Crash

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah. - Psalm 46:1-3 NKJV.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. - Psalm 46:10-11 NKJV.

Yesterday, there were a few crashes in Meadville, Pennsylvania when a three foot wide, 1,500-pound wrecking ball somehow came loose from a crane and rolled downhill. At least a dozen vehicles were damaged, and three people injured by the runaway ball. The monster ball finally stopped with one final horrendous crash into the back of a car stopped at an intersection.

Crash, as in a wrecking ball crash is defined as: “to break violently and noisily.” A wrecking ball crash is definitely bad news when it is a runaway wrecking ball. Crash, as in a computer crash, is also bad news as defined by one dictionary: “to suffer a sudden major failure usually with attendant loss of data.” Crashes are nearly always bad news whether it is a wrecking ball, a car crash, a computer crash or even worse a personal crash. Some of us know what it is like to have our world come crashing in on us.

How do you recover from a crash? When a car has been crashed, it is usually taken to an auto body shop for repairs. When a computer has crashed, we take it to a computer technician to be repaired. But what do we do when our lives come crashing down?

Often the tendency for many is to turn away from God during the bad times. They think, “God has forgotten about me, so I’m forgetting about Him.” This is a mistake because those are the times when you need God more than ever. It may appear at times that God has left the building never to return, but He is ever present.

What happens if we turn away from God when our world comes crashing in upon us? Of course, you compound the situation if you turn away from God, because He will allow the natural consequences of your actions to occur. He will withdraw His protection, withdraw His wisdom, and withdraw His wisdom from your life. You will begin that downward spiral with things in your life tending to fall apart everywhere you turn, everywhere you look. If you turn away from God, everything good in your life will begin to be replaced with all things bad; with everything deteriorating. That is what happens when you leave God out of your life, nothing good.

Job of the Old Testament could have given up on God, and most would have given the terrible circumstances of his life. Job, however, remained faithful to God. Job’s life had come crashing down to the lowest of lows. Job remained faithful and God raised Him up. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the golden image and King Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Just before they were thrown into the furnace, they said this to the king: “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18).” The Son of God walked in the midst of the furnace with them and saved them from certain death.

The response of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is the response that we need to have when our world comes crashing in upon us. That response is that we will serve God, seek God, worship God, and be faithful to God no matter what may happen in our lives. Where do you take your life when it crashes? You take it to the Master, the Creator - you take your life to God and place yourself in His hands. Remember, God is still God no matter what may happen in your life, and He is your “refuge and strength.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

03.27.15

First Things First

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. - Matthew 6:24 NKJV.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. - Matthew 6:33 NKJV.

Have you ever paid $305 for an empty can of dog food? Perhaps you frequently pay $51 for empty Coke cans? Or, do you pay $152.50 to buy a used envelope? In a recent eBay auction, those were the prices actually paid for those items. It is almost incomprehensible until you connect those items to the name of…Paris Hilton. Yes, all those items once passed through the hands of Paris or at least that is what is claimed by hollywoodstartrash dot com. There are people actually willing to pay extreme amounts for the trash of the famous.

Our society in this country is obviously focused on…I guess you could say the trashy, and the trash of the trashy. On eBay, a search for Paris Hilton turned up 1103 hits while Billy Graham had 200, and his son Franklin only had 26. Using the Google search engine it was even more disproportionate with Paris receiving 67 million search items, and Billy Graham just getting not quite two million. Thankfully, God still has the most search returns on eBay with 8,407, and He beats even Paris on Google with 341 million.

If someone were to ask you what the focus of your life is on, what would you say? Would you say God is first? Most Christians would automatically put God at the first of the list, because we know that is what we ought to say. However, there are other ways of determining your life focus. Time can be used to help in determining our focus. How much time do you spend with God every week? Church, prayer, Bible reading, singing praises, and serving? Then, how much time do you spend on things like soap operas or romance novels? For us men, it could be golf, football, hunting, or just watching the news. What is your focus in life? Where are you spending your time? Is it where God would have you to be? How are you spending your time? Is it how God would want you to be spending your time?

Another method of determining the focus of our lives is to consider how we spend money. Do we use it to buy Paris Hilton’s empty can of dog food for $305, or do we use it to provide the food for 38 children for a month (Feed the Children). Do we pay $51 for an empty Coke can that was once in the hand of Paris, or do we take that $51 and place it in the hand of our Lord to spread the Gospel?

Most of us can do better. I know I can. Let us commit ourselves to putting first things first as in the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Instead of seeking pleasure from the world, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

03.25.15

Time-Out

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. - Mark 1:35 NKJV.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” - Matthew 4:4 NKJV.

In the Philippines, a man and an accomplice broke into a house in Manila and robbed the residents of the home of two cell phones. A police patrol in the area heard screams coming from the house and were able to begin chasing one of the robbers. After a short chase, the man they were chasing began to use hand signals to ask for a time-out. Erwin Buenceso, who was one of the officers chasing the robber said, “He was panting and gasping for air when we caught up with him after a 500 meter sprint.”

I think I know exactly how that robber felt, because life can sometimes be a sprint through each day and into the night. Challenges at work, challenges at home, challenges with your family, obstacles to the left and to the right; and you may very well feel as though you need a time-out. You need a vacation, but you don’t have the time or the money to take one. You need a break, you need a live in nanny to take care of the kids, but it’s the real world where you live and that is not going to happen. So what do you do? Where do you turn? Do you just try to maintain your dignity and go down with the ship? Do you just keep that stiff upper lip and keep on keeping on? You keep signaling for a time-out, but no one sees.

When you are past due for a time-out what would God have you to do? Martin Luther once said during a very busy time of his life, “I am so busy now that if I did not spend three hours each day in prayer, I could not get through the day.” Tommy Barnett, pastor of Phoenix First Assembly says, “I’ve discovered it is not sufficient simply to try to take time for quietness but that I must, with all diligence, make time. Whatever keeps me from prayer, solitude, and the Bible, however good it appears, is my enemy if I am to be God’s devoted friend and follower.” It does not calculate in our human brains when we have no extra time, that if we spend time in prayer that it will mean that we have more time. When everything is coming apart at the seams, we think we must become busier, doing more and more and more. However, that is the way of defeat, anxiety, depression, and loss.

Jesus had a quiet time, a time-out, alone early in the morning during which He spent time with the Father. It is an example that we need to follow, bathing everything in our lives in prayer along with reading the Word of God to gain the spiritual sustenance that we need to face the challenges of each day. So, what are you waiting for? Why not have a time-out with the Lord right now? Because the busier you are, the more you need His help, empowerment, and provision for the day.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

03.24.15

Your Friend

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. - John 15:9-15 NKJV.

We now have reason to believe that Bobby Cutts, Jr. killed his pregnant girlfriend, Jessie Davis, along with the unborn baby. Cutts is being held on a five million dollar bond. Prior to his arrest, Cutts was working as a police officer, but he has now been suspended without pay. Sadly, Cutts’ situation is not the only one where someone has appeared to be living a normal life with honorable employment, but then like Cutts commits a horrendous crime. In fact, it appears that it is occurring at a more frequent rate than ever before, almost a new one every week that is hitting the national and international news.

Have you ever wondered if you were capable of doing some terrible thing? The truth is that every person is capable of doing evil. We are told in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way….” In Romans 3:23, we read, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” I know that it is only the restraining power of God that has kept me from doing some terrible thing.

None of us wants to bring embarrassment to our friends, family, or community. None of us wants to intentionally hurt someone else. But the truth is that life changing and life devastating decisions are often made in the whim of an instant. The decisions of an instant have ruined many a life. I pray most every day that God will keep me from being a fool, and that He will give me the wisdom to make the right decisions.

There is, however, one thing that will keep you from doing some terrible thing, and at the same time propel you forward to your highest potential in life. That one thing is to be a friend of Jesus. Jesus says in John 15:15, “...I call you not servants...but I have called you friends.”

I know why I am not in prison today for doing some terrible thing. It is because I have a friend, and that friend’s name is Jesus. If we know Jesus as our personal Savior He is our friend. Jesus says, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” But even on the basis that we maintain human friendships could Jesus call you His friend? If not it is time, past time, to take time to talk to your friend Jesus, and renew this most vital of all friendships.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

03.23.15

The Wrong Place

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. - Hebrews 2:1 NKJV.

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. - 2 Corinthians 13:5 The Message.

Expose all who drift away from your sayings; their casual idolatry is lethal. You reject earth's wicked as so much rubbish; therefore I lovingly embrace everything you say. I shiver in awe before you; your decisions leave me speechless with reverence. - Psalm 119:113c The Message.

In July of 2004, the passengers on a flight from Milan to Cagliari, Sardinia were given some unsettling news. The plane would not be landing at Cagliari, but at Alghero, Sardinia, 142 miles away and about three hours by land transportation. This was a late night flight, and all of the passengers were ready to arrive at the right destination, and find their home or a place to spend the night. The two managers on duty of the Italian airline AirOne, and the pilot of the plane made the decision to redirect the flight without telling the passengers until they were in the middle of the flight. The reason given for the decision was that the Cagliari runway was closed that night for maintenance. The two managers and the pilot have been found guilty by an Italian court of aggravated fraud, but their suspended sentences are being appealed.

Can you imagine the frustration of the passengers on the flight from Milan to Cagliari when they suddenly found out that they were going to end up at another city on the other end of the island? It was already late at night, plans had been made - who would they call, what would they do at this time of night? They ended up 142 miles and three hours away from where they wanted to be.

What about you? Are you going to end up where you want to be? Are you going to end up where God wants you to be? Are you on the right flight, the right path, or has your life flight been redirected to another destination?

Sadly, many of us find ourselves arriving at unwanted destinations in life. We intended to serve God with our lives, but somehow we became distracted by the pursuits of recreation and pleasure. Perhaps for some it was that elusive “quality time” with the family. It may appear that having a great time at the lake or the beach on Sunday with your family is “quality time.” However, nothing that is a substitute for what God wants in your life is ever going to be in your best spiritual interest or that of your family. While I was growing up my parents spent many a weekend at the lake, but the moments in my memory I treasure the most with my parents, are those few times that we were all together in church.

If we want to end up where we want to be, and where God wants us to be spiritually, we need as the writer of Hebrews says, “give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians gives us some excellent advice so that we can stay on course, he says, “Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups.” Maybe it is time for all of us to have a test of our spiritual position, so that we do not drift far away from where we are meant to be. Are you on course? Or, have you drifted away?

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.18.15

Made for More

Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. - Luke 12:23 NKJV.

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

For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. - Romans 5:17 NKJV.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. - Romans 8:37 NKJV.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! - Matthew 7:11 NKJV.

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. - Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. - Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV.

Jamie Fox has a unique job description, he is a human scarecrow. Jamie is 22-years-old, with degrees in music and English, and he knows this scarecrow thing is just a temporary job before beginning a career in teaching. Although, he is making $400 a week working an eight hour shift to scare away partridges, which seem to love the canola in the ten acre field. The farmer told Jamie to “Bring a deckchair and a good book.” Jamie also plays his ukulele, but it doesn’t seem to bother the partridges any, they may even like it. He says “The only way to get rid of the them (the partridges) is to walk down the field and push them off.” Who knew partridges liked canola? Before hiring the human scarecrow, the partridges would eat all the leaves of the plants leaving them to die. (Huffington Post UK 07.10.12)

One thing Jamie knows, and that is that eventually he will pursue a more meaningful career than that of scarecrow. It may not have happened yet, but he knows the more meaningful career is coming at some point. Have you ever felt that way? You know that what you are doing is temporary and there is more ahead for you? Something more meaningful? Now, you may be trying to fulfill the spirit of Colossians 3:23 in your life and work “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men”; but still you sense God has more for you.

God did not and does not want us to plod through life as human scarecrows in a meaningless existence. There is more to real life than having food to eat and clothes for the body. Jesus came to give us life, real life, abundant life. As children of the One true God, we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” We are meant to “reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”

So, if we believe God has more for us in this life what do we do? Matthew 7:7-8 is still in the Bible, ask, seek, and knock. God wants to give good gifts to His children, the best gifts, but often we fail to ask (Matthew 7:11). God tells us what we should do in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.17.15

What Have You Learned?

Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. - Psalm 25:4 NKJV.

Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. - Psalm 27:11 NKJV.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. - Psalm 32:8 NKJV.

Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, And teach out of Your law. - Psalm 94:12 NKJV.

Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. - Psalm 143:10 NKJV.

“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:5c-7 NKJV.

Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. - Matthew 5:5 NKJV.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. - James 4:10 NKJV.

Frano Selak claims to have faced death and survived more times than most. Frano worked as a music teacher in Croatia, and if Frano is still alive he would be 86-years-old now. Frano’s first brush with death occurred in 1962 when the train he was riding in came off the tracks crashing into a river. Selak was pulled to safety, but 17 passengers drowned. In 1963, on the only flight he has taken, a door came open and he was blown out. The plane crashed and 19 people were killed. Frano survived having landed on a haystack (There is no record of a plane crash in Croatia in 1963; however, records in that time period for that area were not perfect.). In 1966, Frano came close to death again when the bus he was riding in slid into a river. He was able to swim to shore, but four passengers drowned. In 1968, he was teaching his youngest son how to shoot a gun when he shot himself, and once again he survived. In 1970, his car caught on fire and he barely escaped before the gas tank exploded. In 1995, a bus hit him, but he only had minor injuries. In 1996, while driving on a mountain road, he swerved to miss a truck with his car which then crashed through a guard rail. Frano was thrown from the car, just before the car plunged 300 feet into a canyon.

Frano has encountered and escaped some bad things in his life, even if only half of his stories are true. One thing we know for sure is that in 2003 Frano won $1,110,000 in a lottery. We also know that Frano has learned some things through his experiences in life. For a while he lived in a mansion, but came to the conclusion that as he puts it, “money cannot buy happiness.” Frano sold the mansion, and gave away most of his money to family, friends, and church. He then moved back to where he used to live in a much smaller and humbler home. (The Telegraph; BBC; Wikipedia 05.14.10 and various other news venues)

Proverbs 9:9 tells us, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” It took Frano Selak a substantial part of his life to become a wise man. He has been married five times, but is now very happy with wife number five. He has experienced what it is like to be rich, but now is much happier since giving his riches away. The Psalmist says, “Blessed is the man whom You instruct.” No doubt God was busy in Frano’s life trying to gain his attention and to teach him. It appears that Frano has finally listened gaining much peace of mind and heart in the process.

How do we arrive at a point where God can teach us, and we can be wise enough to put His instruction to work in our lives? The key appears to be having or gaining humility. I believe in my own life facing adverse circumstances increased my humility and dependence upon God. Almost losing my wife, multiple car accidents, losing jobs, losing a business, and struggling financially decreased my pride and increased my humility. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the meek.” This word “meek” is sometimes translated in other versions of the Bible as “humble.” Peter and James both tell us to humble ourselves. Peter says to humble ourselves “under the mighty hand of God” and James says to humble ourselves “in the sight of the Lord.” If we do humble ourselves before God we will be wise (Proverbs 9:9), we will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5), God will lift us up (James 4:10), and God will exalt us (1 Peter 5:6).

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

03.16.15

You Can Run…

For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth. - Zechariah 4:10 NKJV.

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 NKJV.

When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord. - Jonah 2:7 NKJV.

According to police officials, Johnny Snodgrass matched the description of a man who stole an 89-year-old woman’s purse, and who was seen on the security tape at a nearby video poker store; where the elderly woman‘s wallet was found. Receiving a tip, police went to where Snodgrass worked at a construction site to question him. However, the suspect ran and tried to hide in a portable toilet. Police Chief James Kudlak said, “A Port-A-Potty is not a good place to hide. There's only one way out.” Snodgrass surrendered after officers found him and called to him to come out. Of course, 21-year-old Johnny Snodgrass claims that he is innocent. You can run…but you can’t hide!

Most of the time criminals are caught, but sometimes they are able to hide, or conceal their criminal acts. However, on a spiritual level, you can run, but you can’t hide! God knows, God sees what you do. He sees everything that you do, because the eyes of the Lord “scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

For most of us, we know that stealing is wrong. It is wrong on a societal level because there are many laws against it. It is also wrong on a spiritual level because it is against the will of God for our lives. Sadly, we hear again and again about those who have stolen by embezzlement, and never expect to be caught, but are. I sometimes call this the “God Factor.” It may be that other human beings would never know about a theft or embezzlement, except that unexpectedly it is revealed. There will always be someone who knows the truth, and that someone is God.

On an entirely other level we sometimes try to run from God spiritually, because we know that He wants us to do something that we do not want to do. Jonah of Old Testament fame (Found in the little book of Jonah.), is the Biblical character that fits into this category. God had told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to them, but Jonah did not want to go. Instead, he tried to run from God. We know what happened. God knew exactly where Jonah was, and Jonah ended up in the belly of a great fish for three days and nights. Apparently, that was all that Jonah could take, because he changed his mind at that point and prayed that God would help him. In Jonah’s words, “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord (Jonah 2:7a).” God had not forgotten about Jonah, and the same call, the same command to go to Nineveh was given again. The second time, Jonah did what God wanted even though he was not happy about it.

Many people try to run from God before surrendering to His will for their lives. Augustine, an early church father, was involved in all kinds of wickedness even though his mother was a very godly woman who continually prayed for him. Eventually God was able to gain the attention and faithfulness of Augustine. John Newton was another man who was very far from God, but God knew exactly where this future mighty servant was. Franklin Graham in his testimony tells of his rebelliousness, although he can also testify that you may run from God, but you cannot hide!

How about you? Have you been trying to run from God? The truth is that He knows exactly where you are. Isn’t it time to remember the Lord, and get out of the belly of that fish?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2005

03.13.15

Collision

Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region. - Luke 7:11-17 NKJV.

On Highway 108 close to Jamestown, California, Diana Nichols had a sudden unexpected and shocking collision. She was driving along on her motorcycle enjoying the day traveling at about 50 mph or so when it suddenly happened. A 250-pound bear ran across her path resulting in the collision, and the broken collarbone Diana suffered when her cycle flipped. She was airlifted for treatment to a Modesto hospital where she was treated and released. Apparently, the bear also survived and thankfully, he took off after the collision.

In the area where I live, I am used to hearing about collisions between vehicles and deer, which happen frequently (Since this devotional was written my wife and I both have had collisions with deer.). I have had a few close calls with them. Thankfully, we do not have to be concerned about bears suddenly running into our path! What a shock that must have been!

It must have been an even greater shock to a grieving family when Jesus encountered them in the city of Nain. The only son of a widow had died, and there was a great grief in her heart. But suddenly death collided with life! Jesus touched the open coffin and said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” The man who had been dead sat up and began to speak. What a wonderful shock! Death had been overcome by life - the Prince of Life, Jesus Christ.

Even more surprising is that Jesus is still in the life giving business today. The world, the flesh, and the devil are busy killing, stealing and destroying (John 10:10a) but Jesus has come to give life (John 10:10b). Whenever your life encounters impossible obstacles and problems allow those obstacles and problems to have a collision with life - Jesus Christ. It may be a bear of a day, but allow Jesus to be the Lord of it by bringing life into your world.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

03.12.15

Build Your Life

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. - Romans 12:1-2 NKJV.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. - 2 Peter 3:18 NKJV.

To be healthy physically it is well known that you cannot just stop eating bad foods and start eating good foods. No, something else is needed. There are many in our churches that are blessed to live long lives while still remaining very active. How have they been able to do that? One part is that they have had a lot of physical exercise over the course of their lives. No, they haven’t been going to a gym and working out. No, the exercise that they have received for the most part has been in the form of good old hard work. They have worked hard all of their lives and that physical exercise has paid off for them by helping keep their bodies running well and active even into their older years.

Physical exercise is vital to obtaining and maintaining physical well-being. “Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General,” gives the following benefits of exercise: reduce the risk of premature death; reduce the risk of developing and/or dying from heart disease; reduce high blood pressure or the risk of developing high blood pressure; reduce high cholesterol or the risk of developing high cholesterol; reduce the risk of developing colon cancer and breast cancer; reduce the risk of developing diabetes; reduce depression and anxiety, and there are many more benefits of exercise listed in the report.

Although it is possible to misuse your body usually hard work and exercise results in your body becoming stronger. Your body is a machine designed to be used and if you do not use it then it will grow weak. Without use, your body will grow weak, even if you are not eating or drinking things that are harmful; and it will grow weak even if you are eating and drinking those things that are good for it.

Your spiritual self is much like your physical body. You can be avoiding sin and having an intake of prayer, the Word, and church and still grow spiritually weak. Why? Because you need exercise, you need to put into practice those things that you have learned and are learning - to grow strong spiritually. So, I want to share with you how you can change your life by building your life, exercising your life.

One thing that you should already be doing is spending time in prayer, talking to your Lord. However, many Christians never go beyond praying about their own needs, what is going on in their own lives. To build our lives we need to go beyond ourselves and begin to pray for others. The apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:1-2a, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority….” If we want to change our lives, and build our lives, then we must become prayer warriors; and surely it is a sin (1 Samuel 12:23) for us not to be prayer warriors.

Another spiritual exercise that needs to be an active part of our lives is servanthood. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).” Surely, we are to follow the example of Jesus and be servants. If we want to change our lives, and build our lives then we must become servants. As we become servants, we will find that we are not only changing and building our lives, but we are changing and building the lives of those around us as well.

Witnessing is also a spiritual exercise that we need. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).” We are witnesses. If you are a Christian, a child of God, you are a witness; there is not an opt-out provision in this verse. But you do have the option of being a bad witness or of being a good witness. Being a good witness will build your life giving you fulfillment and joy. There is nothing like joy of sharing Christ with someone that is lost. Being a good witness will also give you empowerment to live the Christian life, to enable you to witness as you should. “But you shall receive power….”

One last spiritual exercise that we need is discipleship. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).” The Great Commission tells us that we are to go beyond witnessing. We are not to just lead people to Jesus, but to make disciples. Then we are to teach those disciples, and train those disciples. In the teaching and the training, we will find that we ourselves are growing and our lives are being built up as well.

The year is 2007 and isn’t it time to change your life for the better? You can do that if you stop pouring the spiritual trans-fat of sin into your life. You can do that by having an intake of the spiritual foods of prayer, the Word of God, and faithful attendance in church. And you can do that; change your life for the better, by exercising your spiritual life through becoming a prayer warrior, a servant, a witness, and a discipler.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

03.11.15

Improve Your Life

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. - Romans 12:1-2 NKJV.

In order to improve our physical health, we not only need to eliminate those foods which our bad for us, but we also need to eat foods that are good for us. Some of those foods are called antioxidants and the benefits of antioxidants are well known. To change your physical health for the better, you need to stop the bad foods like Trans fats, and add in the good foods that contain antioxidants like fruits and vegetables.

Spiritually, it is much the same, we need to stop pouring the grains of sin into our lives; but at the same time we need to add in the spiritual antioxidants that will protect us from the damaging attacks of the world, the flesh, and the devil. There are three spiritual antioxidants that need to be added, to be a part of the life of every Christian if they want their spiritual life to be changed and improved. What are they? They are not a super-secret and like vegetables and fruits for the body, the spiritual antioxidants are available at very little cost and in great quantity. The spiritual antioxidants are Prayer, the Word of God, and the Church.

This is nothing new, and yet only a small minority of those professing to be Christians actually takes advantage of all three of these spiritual antioxidants. Let’s examine each of these spiritual antioxidants that have the potential of dramatically improving your spiritual life.

First, consider prayer, the Bible says about prayer in 1 John 15:14-15, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” Samuel Chadwick was a great man of God who preached in England beginning at the age of 21 during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Chadwick most famous quote is that, “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” William Carey, missionary to India, said, “Prayer - secret, fervent, believing prayer - lies at the root of all personal godliness.” How can you talk to the living God without His having an effect upon your life? Prayer will change, transform and improve your life.

Second, is the spiritual antioxidant of the Word of God. Jesus says in Matthew 4:4 quoting the Old Testament, “It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” In Ephesians 6:17b we read, “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” And in Hebrews 4:12 we are told, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Allow the Holy Spirit to use His sword, the Word of God. Read the Word, study the Word, memorize the Word, meditate upon the Word and your life will be changed, improved, and transformed.

The third spiritual antioxidant I want us to consider is the church. Make no mistake about the importance of the church. Christ loved the church. Christ died for the church. That should put the church in the proper perspective for you. In Hebrews 10:24-25 we are told very plainly, very bluntly, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” If you want to see your life changed, improved, and transformed, make a commitment to attend every service of the church regularly and faithfully. I made that commitment decades ago and I have never regretted it. I have never regretted the time that I have spent in church. No, the only thing that I regret is the years that I was not attending church regularly and faithfully. Dwight L. Moody that great evangelist of the 19th Century once said, “Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.” Change your life, improve your life, and transform your life by attending church regularly and faithfully.

God has given us the spiritual antioxidants that we need to improve our lives. We cannot be living sacrifices to God unless we take advantage of the spiritual antioxidants of Prayer, Bible, and Church. Transform your life; improve your life by no longer being conformed to the pattern of this world. Instead, have a regular intake of Prayer, Bible and Church. It will change your life forever.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

03.10.15

Rescuing Whales

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. - Jude 1:20-23 NKJV.

Many of you watched as I did when three Japanese fishermen attempted to rescue a 30-foot long whale that had been trapped in a bay near the island of Shikoku southwest of Tokyo. The whale turned on them hitting their boat. As a result, a fifty-eight year old man drowned. Two of the fishermen were saved.

What a frightening experience it must have been! The fishermen were trying to do the right thing and save a creature’s life, but instead one man lost his life. The fishermen must have known how dangerous something like that could become, but they tried to save the whale anyway.

Attempting to rescue someone spiritually can be difficult and even dangerous. Jude gives us this indication that some are easy to reach “on some have compassion making a distinction.” Many that I have led to the Lord have been exactly like that. They were ready to know the Lord; they were just waiting for someone to tell them the Good News of Jesus Christ. What joy to lead someone like that to the Lord! However, Jude indicates that there is another type of lost person who will not be so easy to lead to the Lord.

Jude speaks of the difficulty and the danger in attempting to reach some lost people. Jude writes, “…but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” This sounds like it might be as hard as rescuing a stranded whale that does not want to be rescued. “…save with fear.” What is there to fear of a lost person? Jude’s little letter was written primarily to warn of deceivers, false teachers who were trying to lead believers away from the true Christ. At the beginning of his letter Jude warns in verse 4, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” The danger in trying to lead these deceivers, false teachers to the truth was that you might yourself become deceived by them. So, a rescue of these people had to be done with caution and even “fear.”

In addition, to the dangers that Jude speaks of directly there are other dangers in attempting to lead some to the Lord. Trying to reach someone involved in sexual sins could result in your becoming bogged down in those sins as well. Trying to reach someone involved in substance abuse could result in your becoming addicted too. Trying to reach someone involved in financial illegalities might tempt you to try it yourself.

The Bible does give us some direction about how to proceed in dealing with these situations. In Galatians 6:1 the apostle Paul writes, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Although Paul is focusing on believers who have turned away his advice is also good for reaching out to those who have never believed. You must consider “yourself lest you also be tempted.”

Does this mean that we should not try to reach some people because it is too dangerous? It means that we should take precautions. It means that like the Japanese fisherman we should not try to rescue a whale by ourselves. We should include other believers in our plan of rescue and seek their advice and wisdom. Jude just prior to speaking of rescuing some with fear, gives perhaps the most important advice, which is to keep yourself very close to the Lord as he says, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

The Burning Bush Devotional

03.06.15

For a Limited Time Only

And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.” - Matthew 22:1-10 NKJV. (Read the rest of the parable Matthew 22:11-14)

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 NKJV.

James Patterson has a new book that could revolutionize reading and learning. Patterson has developed a book for purchase on a one time basis for only $294,038. Who would ever buy such a book especially when learning that the book explodes, self-destructs in 24-hours? The book does come with some perks though including a countdown clock, binoculars plated in 14 karat gold, and air travel to an undisclosed luxury hotel for a two nights stay. The book owner will also receive a five course dinner with the author. Why has the author created a book that may need a bomb squad present at the end of the 24-hours? Patterson’s ad agency spokesperson, Susan Holden says, “He likes to market. He’s an ex ad guy. He believes in advertising and he believes that’s a significant reason why his books have been so successful.” (Wired 01.26.15 and various other news venues)

Can you imagine how self-destructing books could be teaching tools? Read the homework chapters assigned completing the questions in the allotted time or your book explodes in your face…maybe with some red dye or something…. I probably would have turned in my homework on time with that kind of incentive! Of course, there would have been quite a few of us walking around the school hallways with red faces for a week or two.

What if God were to send you a personal message so important that it has a time limit and is priceless? If the message from God is not read with in the allotted time it will no longer be available for you to access? In a way this is what God has done.

God has sent you a personal message called the Bible. It is available for most people to read whether through print, digital, or online. It does, however, have an expiration date. You only will be able to read this book while you are physically alive. There is, thankfully, an exception for some people.

Those who do read and receive the message (John 1:12), and those who may not actually read it; but are told about the message, and receive it, will receive some special perks. What are those special perks? You will live in the House of the Lord (the author of the book) forever continuing to hear God‘s Words! While you are there you will participate in the “marriage supper of the lamb (Revelation 19:9)” and you will be clothed in a special wedding garment, the “Robe of Righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).” Also, since you have received that special message from God, He has adopted you into His family, the royal family of the King of kings, and the Lord of lords!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2005

03.03.15

Reason for Telling the Truth

You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. - Leviticus 19:11 NKJV.

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him. - Colossians 3:9-10 NKJV.

Laura Crews (18-years-old) according to news reports, had arranged a date on the Internet, but got cold feet somewhere along the way. Laura lives in Kentucky and had planned to fly to Kansas City to meet her Internet boyfriend. To escape from the date she told a few lies. She told her boyfriend that she had been kidnapped, raped, stabbed, and shot. The boyfriend’s mother after learning of the terrible news called police and the police did their best to try to find out the truth. The truth was that Laura had lied, and she has been charged with filing a false police report. The good news is that Laura is okay, and was only caught in the web of her lies.

Reason # 1 for telling the truth, is that the Bible tells us not to lie or to deceive (deal falsely). Laura can now testify to the obvious need to live this out as the Bible has commanded.

Reason # 2 for telling the truth, is that we usually become caught up in our lie in some way altering our lives for the worse.

Reason # 3 for telling the truth, is that sometimes we are not found out and no one discovers the truth about our lie. As a result, we have to live the lie, constantly guarding our lips from telling the truth. We have to live with the guilt of knowing we have deceived and lied to others. The burden grows and grows upon us as the years go by.

Reason # 4 for telling the truth, is to save ourselves from all of the embarrassment. As with Laura, in the 21st Century someone is likely to put it on the Internet, write about it in a blog, or even take a photo of the truth with their cell phone. Your life could very well become defined by a lie that will be told for years and years.

Reason # 5 for telling the truth, is to avoid arrest, fines, attorney fees, and even jail or prison time. Laura may be able to have her charges dismissed since she did not personally contact the police. However, countless other people have been caught up in legal problems because of not telling the truth. Some have lied about their educational credentials and signed a legal oath, which has criminal penalties. Others have lied on other legal documents, which also can result in criminal penalties.

Reason # 6 for telling the truth, is that you will feel good about yourself and do not have to worry about what would have happened if you had told a lie instead.

Telling the truth may not be easy, and may result in temporary embarrassment, but it is always the best path to take.

What if you are already caught up in the web of a lie or lies you have told? You need to begin to inform all who know of the lies, of the truth, and to rectify if possible any harm caused by the lie or lies.

Telling the truth may be hard at times but it will be much easier to live with yourself. Instead of trying to keep your lies straight, and to remember what you have told one person or another, you can just tell the truth. So, when in doubt, just tell the truth!

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.23.15

The Challenge of the Call

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. - Matthew 4:18-20 NKJV.

Hu Huiyuan is a 21-year-old woman who lives in the Anhui Province in China. Hu is writing a novel, and has written six chapters of it, approximately 60,000 words. Many people, perhaps millions, write novels. However, how many of them write their novels by typing with a toe on their left foot? She has cerebral palsy; the only parts of her body not paralyzed are her head and left foot. Hu’s mother has been a dedicated teacher providing her with an education; in addition to helping her learn how to perform physical tasks most of us take for granted. Hu’s mother says, “When I was teaching her how to speak, I had to be very patient as every single word might take a thousand times of repeating.” Hu says about her education, “I’m not a genius, but I’m very focused. When I watched TV in my childhood, I often learned words with subtitles.” It is surprising that Hu is now able to type on her keyboard, while strapped in a wheelchair, 20 to 30 words a minute! (Shanghaiist 01.26.15)

Life will always provide us with challenges, we may not have to try to write a book typing with our toe, but it may seem like it at times. Every person who comes to know Jesus as their personal Savior is called to a challenging life of service. We are told this in Luke 9:23, “Then He (Jesus) said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’” The indication here from Luke 9:23, is that the call is not a call to a life of ease, but to a life of sacrifice. The phrase “take up his cross daily” makes this clear, because we know what a cross meant in the first century. The cross in the first century was a horrific instrument of execution, which the condemned would often be required to carry on their backs to the place of their death. The amazing thing to consider is why would anyone follow Jesus, especially in the first century, when He was calling them to a life of cross carrying?

Even the apostle Paul faced great challenges as he lived out the call God had placed upon his life. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:5, “…when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.” But Paul also says, “I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation (2 Corinthians 7:4).” Then Paul says, “Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more (2 Corinthians 6:5-7).”

Whatever challenges you face in life, whatever God has called you to do, the God “who comforts the downcast” has what you need. You may think you simply cannot take another step physically or mentally, but then God makes His presence known. It may be that God shows up through the words of a book, a devotional, or as the apostle Paul experienced through the coming of a trusted friend who encourages you. Cross carrying has never been easy, but it has always been possible as we look to the One who called us to help us take one more step, or even to type one more letter. May God show up in some way today in your life to encourage, to strengthen, to empower, and to comfort you.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

02.20.15

Never Give Up!

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you." So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink." And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." So she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’" So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah. - 1 Kings 17:8-15 NKJV.

In 2005, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States was responsible for the creation of 245.7 million tons of garbage. However, that is close to 1.6 million tons of garbage less than the year before and that is about 4.5 pounds of trash per person per day. The good news is that one-third of the garbage was recycled in 2005. The EPA goal for this year is 35 percent to be recycled. As you can see the United States creates a huge amount of garbage every day. We are a throwaway society and disposable seems to always be better than the reusable, but it wasn’t always that way. During the depression years, and through much of the World War II years in the United States things were different. During those years not very much of anything was thrown away, because everything was needed to survive. Everything was used down to the last drop, down to the last tiny bit.

During WW II, tires were very hard to find, because of use of the material in the war effort. Neighbors would sometimes share tires with each other in order to have one vehicle, they could all use. If someone in the family was ill, having a vehicle that had tires became very important. Because of that, my Dad hoarded old tires for years after the war, because he still remembered a time when an old tire could have meant the difference between life and death.

In these modern times, I believe we give up too easily. We give up too early. We give up before it’s down to the last drop. We give up before we are down to our last dollar. We would do well to remember Elijah and widow of Zarephath. God gave them the food they needed as long as it was needed. We should remember the example of our Lord at the feeding of the five thousand and of the four thousand. Only a few fishes and a little bread until our Lord blessed the food, and it was multiplied into a provision for the thousands with baskets of food left over.

Before we give up, before we bail out; let us give God an opportunity to work that miracle in our lives. Let us thank God for all that we have and are. Ask Him to sustain us. When we think we can’t make it another day, let us live one more and see what God will do. When we’ve gone our last mile, let us walk one more. As we do, we will see the hand of God upon our lives sustaining us each day as we trust Him to provide. Never, ever, give up!!

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.17.15

How to Find God’s Plan

Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:6-9 NKJV.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. - Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV.

Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. - Psalm 147:5 NKJV.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. - Proverbs 3:5 NKJV.

Ashley McIntyre and Danny Robinson are soon to be married. They began dating in May, and Danny asked Ashley to marry him on Christmas day 2014. Their romance began in a completely unexpected way. Ashley happened to overhear her mother talking with someone about a 25-year-old man who lived in their city, Louisville, Kentucky. The discussion Ashley overheard was about this man’s need of a kidney since his kidneys had stopped functioning. The man’s story seemed tragic as his father had recently died, and not only that, his house had also burned. Ashley felt a compulsion to do something about this and called to volunteer as a donor. Of course, what are the odds of being a donor match for a perfect stranger? She had all the tests performed to determine whether she could be a donor and it was found that she was a perfect match. The surgery was performed in April, and afterwards they stayed in contact texting and calling until they began dating. Ashley says, “As soon as we started dating, not long after that, was when we realized this was it. I never in a million years imagined this would happen, it was a whirlwind. It's crazy how it all worked. It was all planned out by God.” (Orange News 02.13.15)

I have often pondered Philippians 4:7 where we are told, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (NKJV).” The old KJV puts this as, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Having experienced that peace which surpasses, passeth “all understanding” many times, I am always amazed at how God does that.

God is God because He is beyond our understanding; He has abilities beyond what we can comprehend. We see examples of this in creation. There are besides human beings, creatures roaming this earth that are very intelligent: cats, dogs, apes, dolphins and more. However, the abilities that we have intellectually are beyond those creatures abilities to understand.

God’s plans have often perplexed humans, and we see examples of this in the Bible. Think of Noah building a huge ark on dry ground. Think of God’s plan for the defeat of the great walled city of Jericho. Think of Gideon and God’s method of choosing a far smaller number of warriors to defeat the enemy. Instead of thousands of men, God only thought Gideon needed a few hundred, and God was right!

God does have thoughts toward you, and those thoughts are “of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God does have a plan for your life and the key to finding that plan is as the writer of Proverbs says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Noah, Joshua, and Gideon all had to “lean not” on their “own understanding” and with eyes of faith put their complete trust in the Lord. And, that my friends, is how you find God’s plan for your life.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

02.13.15

Loving Others

And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him, and by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. - 1 John 3:23-24 NKJV.

It happened in Debary, Florida about ten years ago. Drivers could see her as they drove by. She seemed to be stuck in the mud. As you would expect there was so much concern that it tied up traffic for miles. They called the police wanting something done. Monday commuters were again looking for her to see if she was still trapped by the mud, or was she okay now? There was so much concern that again traffic was tied up, and backed up for miles. The Florida Transportation Department knew something had to be done. They put up an electronic flashing sign to communicate to all of those concerned drivers the following, “The Cow is Okay.”

We have to wonder if it had been a human being, would there have been the same amount of concern? Now God is concerned about cattle (Jonah 4:11), but they are not made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Our concern for animals, and disdain for humans, may come from our experience with them. There is usually a good reason when an animal attacks and few of us have been on the receiving end. I have been chased by a cow, but most people in Florida have probably not had the experience. However, nearly all of us have been on the receiving end of verbal or physical attacks from other humans.

I believe there is something in us that wants to show concern, that wants be kind, which wants to love. It is because we were made in the image of God and God is love as the apostle John tells us, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:8).” It may be difficult (It was difficult for Jonah and that's why he ended up in the belly of the great fish.), but it is God’s will and His command for us to be kind to each other and to love each other. We are even to love our enemies, and we know that Jonah had trouble loving those wicked Ninevites. 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 (Matthew 5:44-45a).” We will never really be able to experience love until we begin to love each other.

The next time we see someone stuck in the mud, let us give them some help demonstrating that we are truly made in the image of God, and that we are the sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2009

02.09.15

How to Hurt Yourself

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” - Romans 12:18-20 NKJV.

So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s wrath subsided. - Esther 7:10 NKJV.

In Bithlo, Florida, Craig Aylesworth had a little dispute with his neighbor and things got a little crazy. Craig made a gasoline bomb, and threw it at his neighbor’s mobile home. The bomb did explode, but in what must have been an act of God, the wind changed. Instead of the neighbor’s trailer being burned up; Craig’s pickup, a couple of his cars, and his travel trailer were set on fire by the bomb. Officers investigating think that alcohol may have been involved.

In the Old Testament, is a somewhat similar story of how a plan of revenge backfired. In the book of Esther, we are told of the wicked Haman and righteous Mordecai. Haman was jealous of Mordecai, and Haman was a power hungry, greedy man who would do anything for power and wealth. It was Haman’s plan for the Jews to be destroyed and for their property to be taken. It was Haman’s plan for Mordecai to be hung, and he even had the gallows built for Mordecai’s hanging. God’s placement of Esther as the new queen, and her courage in approaching the king with the evil of Haman’s plan thwarted it all; and Haman ended up being hung instead of Mordecai.

When we try to get even with, or get back at others, often we only succeed in hurting ourselves. Craig Aylesworth and Haman both did a good job of hurting themselves, instead of their intended victims.

Instead of our taking the matter of revenge into our own hands, we are told “do not avenge yourselves.” Instead of getting even, we are told to “as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Instead of hurting our enemies, we are told to “feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink.” David took this path in his relationship with King Saul. David refused to kill his enemy because Saul was the Lord’s anointed. Here’s what David said to Abishai one of his mighty men who wanted to kill Saul, “‘Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?’ David said furthermore, ‘As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish (1 Samuel 26:9-10).’” David had faith that God would take care of King Saul when the right time came and that it would only bring guilt on himself by killing Saul.

When Judas came with the chief priests, elders and a great number of people armed with swords and clubs to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword ready to fight. However, Jesus said this, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus? (Matthew 26:52-54).” Jesus could have utterly destroyed his physical enemies, but instead He willingly went to the cross suffering and dying for the sins of all people; past, present, and future - by refusing to fight back Jesus eternally defeated death.

Revenge belongs to God and when we try to get back at someone we are inviting disaster into our lives. Let go of the wrongs that have been committed against you, and place them into the hands of God; when you do so, you will have peace, and the blessing of God upon your life.

The Burning Bush Devotional

02.04.15

Keep Calm

Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved. - Psalm 62:2 NKJV.

Then He (Jesus) arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. - Mark 4:39 NKJV.

In Orland Park a suburb of Chicago, a man only identified as Steve, was walking along peacefully when his next step sent him suddenly falling down 20 feet into a storm sewer. One of his legs was broken with other “trauma” to the lower part of his body. He was trapped and couldn’t move. Steve did have his cell phone and was able to connect to 911 asking for help. It took about 15 minutes to locate the area where Steve had fallen, and then by his shouting, the exact hole was found. It took 70 minutes to extricate the man from the storm sewer hole. From 911 tapes that were released, we know that Steve remained calm throughout his ordeal of almost two hours. Steve said from the hospital, “While I'm in a great deal of pain, I am thankful to be alive and grateful to the fine men and women who rescued me and are treating me here in the hospital.” To whom was Steve thankful? I believe he was thankful to God for his being able to survive his horrific ordeal. (Yahoo News; Fox News; 5NBC Chicago 12.31.14)

Within the last two years the “Keep Calm” phenomenon has arisen with all kinds of admonitions to “Keep Calm.” Here are a few of them: keep calm and carry on, keep calm and ignore the haters, keep calm and stay positive, keep calm and relax, keep calm and never give up, keep calm and have fun, keep calm and stay strong, keep calm and be cool, keep calm and eat a banana, keep calm and dream on, keep calm and google it, keep calm and ride on, keep calm and be yourself, keep calm and hug a husky, keep calm and rock on, keep calm and smile, keep calm and go shopping, and keep calm and love yourself. There appear to be countless other variations of the admonition to keep calm.

According to Wikipedia, “Keep Calm and Carry On” was a motivational poster produced by the British government in preparation for the Second World War. Some 2.45 million of the posters were produced, although it was rarely displayed and mostly forgotten until a copy was found in 2000. The current fad of the “Keep Calm” phenomenon may have been spurred on by the discovery of 20 copies of the original poster, which were featured on Antiques Roadshow in 2012.

I think we can all agree that to keep calm in trying circumstances is usually a good thing to do. But how do you do that? The Psalmist was able to “silently wait” and to not be “greatly moved.” The Psalmist was able to do that by his fully trusting in God saying, “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense.” To keep calm in difficult circumstances is possible, and there is a way to do that as the prophet Isaiah says about his God, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3).”

Whether you suddenly fall into a sewer drain hole and break a leg, or you are called into the head office and told your employment has been terminated, it is helpful to know how to keep calm. The first thing to remember is that God is not surprised by this sudden catastrophe in your life. He most likely did not cause it, but He knew it was going to happen. The second thing to remember is that the God who can say “Peace be still!” to the waves stilling them can calm the sudden storm in your life whatever it may be. The third thing to remember is to ask God to help you. Matthew 7:7-8 is still in the Bible, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Don’t forget to “ask” for help from the One who is able to help you! And, keep calm….

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2005

02.03.15

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 NKJV.

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

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

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
Classic from 2006

01.30.15

Stealing the Crocodile

You shall not steal. - Exodus 20:15 NKJV.

The Rockhampton Zoo in Queensland, Australia is missing a crocodile. If you happen to see a crocodile, 1.2 meters in length, weighing approximately 40 kilograms, and meaner than a barnyard dog…it may be the missing croc. Call the zoo; do not try to attempt a rescue yourself! The croc did not make the escape by itself but apparently had some help from three or four from the Homo Sapiens species. The thieves attempted to steal a koala, but gave up after it proved to be even meaner than a croc.

The zookeeper, Wil Kemp, said about the thieves, “I don't know what makes someone go, ‘Oh we tried to steal a koala and that didn't work so let’s go and steal a croc.’”

It is thought by authorities that the croc nappers originally planned to trade the koala for drugs, but settled for the freshwater crocodile.

As it has been said, “The best laid plans of mice and men….” Of course, these plans do not appear to have been very well thought out. What does make someone decide, or in this case possibly four people, decide to risk life, limb, and prison time to steal a koala, and then go for a croc? Most likely, the course of events that these four individuals launched out upon, were decided in a few moments of time. We can imagine the setting of a few too many beers, and possibly a joint or two.

“I’ve got an idea,” one bloke says.

“What?”

“You know that zoo over in Queensland?”

“So?”

“They’ve got koalas there and I’ve heard they’re worth a lot.”

They all look at each other and in unison say, “Great idea!” As they head off into infamy.

We all know what it says in Exodus 20:15, after all it is one of the Ten Commandments, “You shall not steal.” “You shall not steal” is very simple, and to the point; no, ifs, ands, or buts. Of course, if you wanted to rationalize it, it is somewhat down on the list of “shalt nots” being at number eight. But, it did still make the list. So, we can assume that God did not make a mistake since it was written in stone. Actually, it was written in stone twice, since the first stone tablets were broken.

If I were to ask everyone reading this to hold up their hand if they have ever stolen anything, even a paper clip, most of us would be honest enough to hold up our hands. Now that we (at least, some of us) have admitted that we are thieves and that we have broken God’s eighth Commandment; have any of you stolen a crocodile? I doubt it. What is it that makes someone progress from stealing paper clips to stealing crocodiles? Now, both are sins (Romans 3:23), but in the realm of human relationships and authorities one is more serious as to the consequences. Not only are the consequences more serious, but it also points to a more serious flaw in character, moral character.

James points out the progression of sin in James 1:13-15, “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.” Sadly, for too many of us we know that progression very well, we have been down that road more than once. That is the road to ruin of a person’s character, giving in to temptation; not once, but again, again, and again, until there is no longer any resistance to evil. We give in until, if someone suggests stealing a koala or a crocodile from a zoo, we are more than ready to do it.

The good news is that we do not have to continue down that road. We can change, we can turn back. The very first step is to get back on track with God. You know you have sinned. Tell Him, confess it to Him.

As we are told in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Then, ask God for His help to change and to be what He would have you to be. What do you do after that? It is a continual making of right choices, choosing what God wants, instead of what the flesh wants.

Romans 8:5-6 describes the process, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded (“the mind of sinful man” - NIV) is death, but to be spiritually minded (“but the mind controlled by the Spirit" - NIV) is life and peace.”

Through the power of God, you can see your destiny changed from one headed for death and destruction to a destiny filled with life, actually an eternity of life. Why not begin right now?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

01.29.15

Stealing the Kitchen Sink

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 NKJV.

A man in Britain took a little vacation to Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and the United States; and had a great time. However, when he returned home he was a little upset to find that burglars had been busy in his house while he was away. The burglars made off with his oven, his wall units, they stripped his kitchen including his kitchen sink. Perhaps these burglars were cooks and dishwashers by day? The owner of the home, James Elstub said, “I can't believe I returned home from my holiday to find burglars had stolen my kitchen sink.” Elstub resorted to using a microwave for two weeks until he could have everything replaced.

Sadly, there are some people who make their living by stealing from others. It has been that way for a very long time. Zacchaeus is a name that most of us are familiar with, because according to the little children’s song, he is the “wee little man” who Jesus told to come down out of the tree. Children and some adults probably have the idea that Zacchaeus was a harmless little guy that everyone would have loved. This is far from the truth of the situation. Zacchaeus was a tax collector, and he was a very rich tax collector. He got to be that way by taking whatever extra he could take from the ones he collected the taxes from. Zacchaeus was a man that most people in the area would have hated. Not only did they hate him, they may have even feared him.

The good news is that Zacchaeus changed. Jesus told Zacchaeus to come down out of that tree (Luke 19) and Zacchaeus did exactly that. Zacchaeus became a follower of Jesus and began living like one too. We know this because of what Zacchaeus does. Luke 19:8 tells us, “Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.’” As the apostle John says, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18).” Zacchaeus began to live like a Christian, like a believer ought to live. His actions spoke much louder than his words especially to those that he had overtaxed. He was being obedient to the Law, which states in Exodus 22:1, “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.” Zacchaeus knew that he had stolen and began to live, as he should.

Why should a person who has stolen give back more than what was taken? In the time that the Law was written an ox or sheep that was stolen was the same as taking away the ability to make a living. It was a traumatic thing and it was only right that more be given back than was taken. Today, being a victim of a burglary or robbery is still a traumatic thing. It may not prevent us from making a living, but it is still a major shock to our system. James Elstub I am sure would agree with that.

Since you have become a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, do your actions prove the truth of that? Have you changed like Zacchaeus, not just in the words you say, but also in the way you live your life? Has believing in Jesus made a difference in your life? Would anyone notice that difference?

The Burning Bush Devotional

01.15.15

The Wall of Truth

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” - Acts 9:1-6 NKJV.

One night this week, I got out of bed in the dark to walk to the bathroom. I seemed to have enough light to see where I was going, although I usually take a flashlight. However, I apparently fell asleep while walking, but I woke up when my head slammed into a wall! While I was sleep walking, I thought I could see where I was going and I believed I was on the right path. It was a sudden shock to realize how wrong my perception of reality was.

Saul was likely in charge of the execution of the godly Stephen (Acts 7:58-60). You could say that Saul was a religious fanatic determined to eradicate those of “the Way” who believed Jesus was God’s Messiah. There was absolutely no doubt in Saul’s mind that he was doing the will of God by killing those errant people who had gone off the rails blaspheming the One true God. However, Saul was completely absolutely wrong, and he ran into a wall of truth because Jesus is “…the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).” Jesus says in John 8:32, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Saul slammed into the wall of Truth and the Truth blinded Saul making him fall to the ground. Then, the Truth set Saul free when Saul finally understood that Jesus was God.

In the world today, we have seen the rise of the Islamic religious fanatics who are absolutely completely convinced that they are on the right road with their lives. These religious fanatics are similar to Saul, in that they believe wrongly that it is their religious duty to wipe off the face of the earth all those who do not believe as they do. I pray that they will run into the same wall of Truth as did Saul before it is everlastingly too late for them.

Sadly, it is not just religious fanatics that are walking down the wrong roads, the wrong paths, with their lives. Many today appear to be blissfully unaware of the reality of their need for Jesus. These blissfully unaware people are rushing full speed ahead toward a wall of Truth where they will slam into eternity facing judgment by the One true God. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).” “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:17-18).” What do you do if you are not sure if you are on the right road with your life? The Psalmist says this: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

01.20.15

Give Him the Keys

When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of him.” Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. - Luke 19:28-35 NKJV.

Carjacking has become a serious problem in the United States. Statistics on a national level available for the five-year period of 1998-2002 indicates that there were 2.1 carjackings per 10,000 people a year. This was an increase from 1.3 per 10,000 people during the previous five-year period. In 74 percent of the carjackings, a weapon was used. However, according to one police officer when a man with his head covered comes at you yelling obscenities most people will let them have their car, even if the carjacker does not have a weapon.

Penalties for carjacking are severe, because the federal Anti-Car Theft Act of 1992 made it a federal offense with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The 1994 Crime Bill increased the punishment to include the death penalty if an innocent victim is killed as a result of the crime. Although severe, the punishments do not quite measure up to the Old West punishments for horse stealing. In the Old West, a horse thief if caught was quickly put to death by hanging. One page I found about the reasons for this said, “A man coveted his possessions in the west in this order: first his horse, second his rifle, third his dog, and fourth his wife. Steal his wife but beware of the wrath rendered if one was to steal his horse.”

Depending upon the situation, usually you are safer just to give your vehicle to the carjacker instead of risking the outcome of a confrontation. All of us, however, would be upset if we were the victim of a carjacking. But what if we found someone stealing our car and when we asked them what they were doing they said, “Because the Lord has need of it.” Our first response might be, “You’ve got to be kidding!”

I am amazed at the depth of faith that the owners of the donkey had when they willing gave it to the disciples for use by Jesus. Once they knew that Jesus needed their donkey, there was no need for further questions they simply allowed the animal to be taken. The owners in effect gave the keys to Jesus.

Jesus is still asking for the keys. He wants the keys to your heart. He wants the keys to your time. He wants the keys to your money. He wants the keys to all of your possessions. What usually happens when you hear that still small voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to you about what Jesus wants in your life? What usually happens for the vast majority of Christians is that they act as if Jesus is a carjacker trying to wrench something away from them. Is that how you have responded when the Holy Spirit speaks and says, “The Lord has need of it?”

When we receive Christ as our Savior, we often speak of giving our heart to the Lord. The spiritual fact is that it was not to be a temporary condition. Your heart was not something that the Lord wanted for a few minutes of time. No, He still has need of your heart, and all that you are and have. Isn’t it time that you give Him the keys?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

01.19.15

Out of the Dust

But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand. - Isaiah 64:8 NKJV.

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. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. - Romans 8:28-29 NKJV.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. - Colossians 1:16 NKJV.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. - Genesis 2:7 NKJV.

Scott Wade is the “Dirty Car Artist.” His masterpieces are drawn in the dust of his car window. His drawings are more than simply the words, “Wash Me.” No, his drawings are great works of art created out of only dust. He has drawn, for example, the Mona Lisa, superimposed over his drawing of Van Gogh’s, “The Starry Night.” He has drawn dogs playing poker and Bottelcelli’s, “The Birth of Venus.” To see these works of art created out of nothing but dust is to think that this is amazing, magnificent, impossible, fantastic…. Wade says, “I've always drawn pictures on dirty windows. It wasn’t a conscious decision to develop a new art form, it was just looking for art in everything.” You can view some of Scott’s works of art at dirtycarart dot com.

It is hard to imagine that someone is able use just the dust on a car window to create a work of art. I first saw this story on Fox News, and was amazed at seeing Scott transform dust into a thing of great beauty. After contemplating this for a moment, I realized that this is exactly what God does with our lives. God created mankind out of the dust. We are all made of the same material, as was the first man, Adam.

We are just dust, but God is busy working in our lives to transform us into His own personal works of art. We are the clay, and He is the potter. His hands are upon the life of every believer molding, shaping and transforming. God never lets anything be wasted in a believer’s life. It may be a horrific experience, but God will use it if allowed, to further shape, mold and transform. If we love God, and seek His will, and plan to be done in our lives; all is used to bring about the ultimate good, the ultimate work of art. The ultimate transformation, the ultimate in artistry for God is that we would be changed into, conformed to “the image of His Son.”

Yes, sometimes His hands upon our lives can bring pain, but if we submit to His will it will all be for our ultimate benefit. The dust will be transformed into a wondrous work of art and we will be like Him!

The Burning Bush Devotional

01.15.15

The Wall of Truth

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” - Acts 9:1-6 NKJV.

One night this week, I got out of bed in the dark to walk to the bathroom. I seemed to have enough light to see where I was going, although I usually take a flashlight. However, I apparently fell asleep while walking, but I woke up when my head slammed into a wall! While I was sleep walking, I thought I could see where I was going and I believed I was on the right path. It was a sudden shock to realize how wrong my perception of reality was.

Saul was likely in charge of the execution of the godly Stephen (Acts 7:58-60). You could say that Saul was a religious fanatic determined to eradicate those of “the Way” who believed Jesus was God’s Messiah. There was absolutely no doubt in Saul’s mind that he was doing the will of God by killing those errant people who had gone off the rails blaspheming the One true God. However, Saul was completely absolutely wrong, and he ran into a wall of truth because Jesus is “…the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).” Jesus says in John 8:32, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Saul slammed into the wall of Truth and the Truth blinded Saul making him fall to the ground. Then, the Truth set Saul free when Saul finally understood that Jesus was God.

In the world today, we have seen the rise of the Islamic religious fanatics who are absolutely completely convinced that they are on the right road with their lives. These religious fanatics are similar to Saul, in that they believe wrongly that it is their religious duty to wipe off the face of the earth all those who do not believe as they do. I pray that they will run into the same wall of Truth as did Saul before it is everlastingly too late for them.

Sadly, it is not just religious fanatics that are walking down the wrong roads, the wrong paths, with their lives. Many today appear to be blissfully unaware of the reality of their need for Jesus. These blissfully unaware people are rushing full speed ahead toward a wall of Truth where they will slam into eternity facing judgment by the One true God. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).” “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:17-18).” What do you do if you are not sure if you are on the right road with your life? The Psalmist says this: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2004

01.14.15

Facilitating Your Spiritual Break Out - Part 7 Serving Others

(This is the last devotional in the series. The first devotional was not numbered for a total of eight.)

But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” - Mark 10:42-45 NKJV.

Ed Buchart retired from the marines after 20 years in 1978 and never dreamed of what God had in store for him next. “Santa” Buchart spends Christmas every year looking just like Santa Claus, but this Santa tells the children what Christmas is really about. He tells them how that God loved the world so much that he sent His Son. He tells them how special they are and how much God loves them.

Ed has spent much of his time after retirement repairing wheelchairs through his non-profit corporation, Friends of Disabled Adults, Inc. The ministry grew from a little place in his garage to a 64,500 square-foot warehouse, which is filled with refurbished wheelchairs, and medical equipment. To begin with, Ed and his wife rebuilt the wheelchairs themselves, but as people became aware of their ministry and demand increased they realized that they needed help. FODA now has a few employees many of whom are disabled. Ed Buchart through FODA has distributed more than $32 million dollars in refurbished wheelchairs. Buchart says that he never knew how much he was worth until he gave himself away.

Jesus, our Lord, Savior, and our Example to follow, gave Himself away as well. Jesus did not come to this earth to be served, but to serve. We are not saved so that we can be served, but so that we can serve as did our Lord. However, when we serve it should always point others to Jesus bringing glory to Him. And, when we serve, the ultimate purpose should be that others would come to know Jesus as their Savior.

How much are you worth? You are worth so much that God’s Son came down to this earth from the glories of Heaven suffering and dying so that you would have a Savior. Even though we are worth so very much, it is not always comprehended, not always understood by us. However, when we begin to give ourselves away that is when our true worth is revealed not only to ourselves, but to others as well. Give yourself away, and break out of life, as you have known it. Give yourself away, and you too can break out spiritually!

(Ministry Update: In December, I was officially called as pastor of Rhea Baptist Church of Rhea, Oklahoma . This is a rural church that is virtually dead with only nine of us worshiping together on Sunday mornings. I believe there is potential for the church being revived. It is true that there are few people living around the church, but there are still some living within a few miles of the church that need to be in a fellowship of believers. Please pray for the revival of this church. My Aunt passed away last Wednesday and her funeral service was Monday. I had a wedding Saturday in Oklahoma City. We have learned that my wife’s cousin, Gwen, who recently moved near us, may have additional health issues. Please pray for her. Thank you for your support and understanding when the devotional has been very irregular in my sending it!)

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2004

01.08.15

Facilitating Your Spiritual Break Out - Part 6 Praying With Others

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 NKJV.

On July 1, 1857, Jeremiah Lanphier received an appointment as a city missionary in New York City from the Dutch Reformed Church. Lanphier was described as being a “quiet and zealous businessman.” How would he be able to make any kind of difference? He decided to begin by holding a prayer meeting at noon on Wednesdays and he randomly passed out a few invitations for others to join him. The prayer meeting was held on Fulton Street a few blocks from where the World Trade Center would eventually be located. Lanphier relates what happened, “Going my rounds in the performance of my duty one day, as I was walking along the streets, the idea was suggested to my mind that an hour of prayer, from twelve to one o'clock, would be beneficial to businessmen, who usually in great numbers take that hour for rest and refreshment. The idea was to have singing, prayer, exhortation, relation of religious experience, as the case might be; that none should be required to stay the whole hour; that all should come and go as their engagements should allow or require, or their inclinations dictate. Arrangements were made, and at twelve o'clock noon, on the 23rd day of September, 1857, the door of the third story lecture room was thrown open.”

Jeremiah had to pray by himself for the first thirty minutes, but then a few men began arriving, until eventually five had come making a total of six people. The next meeting was held on September 30th with 20 people attending. On October 7th, the meeting had grown to over 30 and it was decided to have the meetings daily. Within only a matter of months, prayer meetings multiplied until there were over 10,000 people praying together in the city in these meetings. The movement spread across the country and to England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The result was that over one million people came to know Christ as their Savior. Major social changes also were brought about because of these new believers.

God used one person, to start one prayer meeting that changed the world! What would happen in your world if you asked a few friends to join you in prayer? Invite them to your home, or ask your pastor if you can meet at church, and allow everyone to come that would like to be a part of it. What would happen if you were to do that? Most likely God would use you to change the world too! What a wonderful spiritual break out that would be!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2004

01.07.15

Facilitating Your Spiritual Break Out - Part 5 Fasting

Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, IN FASTINGS often, in cold and nakedness-- besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. - 2 Corinthians 11:25-28 NKJV.

We were introduced and immersed into the possibilities of the power of fasting at the 1996 Southern Baptist National Convention at New Orleans. Ronnie Floyd pastor of the First Baptist Church (Since renamed: Cross Church) of Springdale, Arkansas spoke and shared of his experiences with fasting. He says that fasting is the gateway to supernatural power, and I believe he is right. Dr. Floyd also spoke of how thousands in his church were fasting and praying for him as he spoke. After one message just before lunch, the Holy Spirit came upon us all in a powerful way. I experienced a peace that I had not experienced since the day I was saved.

At the time, we were facing a difficult decision believing that God wanted us to leave a church after having been there only for a year. We believe God led us to the convention, and it is the only one we had attended to that point in our ministry. We came home with a conviction that we needed to fast and pray until God moved in our lives, and made it clear what we were to do. We began fasting on Monday, and on the following Sunday afternoon a pastor search committee called us. It was a church that I had not considered, but we knew that it came from the hand of God.

After arriving at the new place of service, circumstances were still difficult. This was to have been a bi-vocational place of service, and as I faced a particularly important interview, I again fasted and prayed for a week. As I was walking and praying early one morning, the streetlights blinked on and off just as I was pleading with God to give me this vocational job. It was not a coincidence, a freak of nature, or an accident it was the hand of God, and I knew that He had heard my prayer. I was disappointed after I failed to receive the job I so very much wanted, but knew that if it had been God’s will then I would have had the job. Knowing my circumstance in this situation was God’s will, kept me going through even more difficult times. Looking back now, I can see that it would have been a mistake for me to have taken the job I pleaded with God about.

Fasting is not spoken of often in the Bible, but it appears to have been a discipline that was taken for granted that people would know to participate in it. The apostle Paul speaks of his fastings. In Mark 9:29 Jesus, in reference to why his disciples could not cast out a demon, says that it could only be cast out through fasting and prayer. In the Old Testament, we have references to many of the great servants of God fasting. Ezra fasted, Esther fasted, Nehemiah fasted, Daniel fasted, David fasted, and the indication is that all the people fasted at set times and during troubling circumstances.

Fasting is not something that is easy for me to do, and I have rarely engaged in this spiritual discipline. I know that I have missed many blessings as a result. However, if I had my spiritual journey to do over I would most definitely fast more, and it would save me from many of the mistakes I have made. I would define fasting as not eating physical food during the daytime (Dr. Floyd has a blender and uses it extensively during his fasts.). The fast is made even more effective by the complete abstention from food day and night during the fasting period. Some are unable to fast from food because of medical conditions or medications and if you are not sure please consult your medical professional. If you are unable to fast from food, you can fast other things such as television viewing.

If you want to break out spiritually then fasting should be in your repertoire. Fasting is indeed the gateway to supernatural power, guidance, wisdom and every spiritual blessing. Try it! (And while you are fasting, pray for me, please!)

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2004

01.04.15

Facilitating Your Spiritual Break Out - Part 4 The Church

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV.

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. - Matthew 18:20 NKJV.

During one week in 1984, God brought a passage of Scripture to my attention three separate times. He first brought it to my attention during my quiet time, then during Sunday School, and then in the pastor’s message. I had no doubt that God was speaking to me and it was this same passage of Scripture that God brought to my attention some seven years later in my quiet time confirming His call upon my life. I would never have experienced a spiritual break out without regular church attendance. Being in church for every opportunity of worship, fellowship and learning is vital to being where God can speak clearly to your heart.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is often called the Prince of Preachers (1834 - 1892) and perhaps was the foremost preacher of the 19th Century. In 1861 Spurgeon’s congregation built the Metropolitan Tabernacle which had seating for 4,700 people. Also in 1861, Spurgeon preached at the Crystal Palace in London to a crowd of 23,654. But Spurgeon would never have been saved, or heard God’s call, if he had not been a determined church attender. Here is how he tells the story in his own words of the day of his salvation: “I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache. The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach.” It was during a snow storm so bad that the pastor was not even able to come to church that Spurgeon heard God speak to him through a faithful servant who did make it to church that day, and reluctantly shared God’s Word as best He could. The impact of Spurgeon’s ministry is still being felt and will be for all eternity. The church made it possible, and facilitated the spiritual break out of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

The church is not man’s idea; it is God’s idea and plan. There is no getting around the fact that it is God’s will and plan for you to be in church every time the doors are open (If you are physically able and are not providentially hindered in some way.). How much does God desire this? Jesus died for the church. The church is the body of Christ on this earth, all those who have received Jesus as their Savior. If you want to break out spiritually the church must be part of the plan. Thank God for the church!!

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2004

12.30.14

Facilitating Your Spiritual Break Out - Part 3 A Quiet Time

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. - Mark 1:35 NKJV.

I am not sure when I first heard the term “quiet time” used in reference to spending time alone with God in prayer and reading of His Word. I have heard other terms used such as doing your “devotions” or simply spending time alone with God. We have talked about how important God’s Word and prayer are to having a “spiritual break out.” Now we need to put the two of them together and Jesus gives us a wonderful example of this. Jesus who is the living “Word of God” goes to a “solitary place” where He prays. Jesus who was and is the “Word of God” also needed to pray. We need to do the same.

My first quiet times were accomplished with the reading of a devotional booklet along with prayer. Some of those earliest quiet times were only a few minutes in length, but still God was able to speak to me during those times. As I grew consistent in my quiet times I was amazed at how God seemed to have written devotionals just for my circumstances on the day that I read them. Sometimes I would make a mistake, and read the wrong devotional for the day, and after reading it discover it was exactly what I needed at that time. It had not been a mistake after all, but the hand of God directing me.

Before I heard, and knew beyond any doubt God’s call was upon my life, I was engaged in an intensive Bible study, which included a regular and lengthy morning quiet time. I had been engaged this regular, consistent, lengthy time with God for many months and I had begun praying, and writing out those prayers concerning His call for my life. The morning God spoke to me and changed my life was a morning like so many others; I was not expecting God to speak in a dramatic way. However, God did speak using a passage of Scripture, which in the course of time I had come to in my regular reading along with a devotional that was precisely concerning what I needed to hear. God in that quiet time spoke in a way leaving no doubt about His call upon my life and I was then able to communicate that call to my wife and others.

Without a regular and consistent quiet time, I believe I would still be wondering about God’s call on my life. Was He calling me or not calling me? Without a quiet time, I would never have had the courage to share God’s call with my wife and then to make public at our church what God was doing. Without a quiet time, I would never have had the strength or courage to leave behind one career and move on to the career God had prepared for me.

The truth is, that without a regular and consistent quiet time where you spend time in God’s Word and prayer you will never see the fulfillment of God’s will for your life. It is possible to miss God’s call. It is possible to be outside of God’s will. It is possible to make well-meaning decisions that are not what God wants for your life. It is possible to spend your life doing something completely other than what God wanted for you. Having a quiet time on a regular basis will enable you to “break out” spiritually, and be in the midst of God’s will for your life.

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2003

12.30.14

Facilitating Your Spiritual Break Out - Part 2 (Prayer)

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. - Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV.

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, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. - Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. - 1 John 15:14-15 NKJV.

Dawson Trotman was the founder of the Navigators, which has had a worldwide ministry beginning during the Second World War. Before Dawson was the founder and leader of the Navigators, he was a truck driver. His spiritual break out was facilitated by memorizing 1,000 verses of Scripture during a three year period and through an intense period of prayer. Dawson felt called to pray for the nations of the world and to do this he and a friend; Walt Stanton would meet and pray at 5:00 A.M. over a map of the world before going to work. They placed their fingers on most of the countries on the map asking God to raise up men from each of these countries to make Christ known just as Jesus said to do: “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest (Matthew 9:37-38 NKJV).’”

Dawson and his friend continued in prayer over the nations of the earth for 42 days until the burden of prayer for the nations in this intense way was lifted. Little did Dawson and his friend know that their prayers would help pave the way for the Navigators to establish ministries in all of those countries that they prayed over. Through this time of prayer, God revealed promises to Dawson from Scripture. One of those promises was “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in (Isaiah 58:12).”

Through a period of intense prayer, Dawson Trotman experienced a “spiritual breakout.” God can do the same in your life. Set aside a time to pray about what God has placed on your heart. Call to Him so that He may, “answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Call to Him so that He may, “do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2003

12.29.14

Break Out!

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. - Matthew 4:18-22 NKJV.

What do you think of when you hear the words “break out?” Some might think of a “break out” sports star that has an unusually great game or games. Some might think of a person who “breaks out” of jail or prison by escaping. Some may think of a “break out” financial move that gives someone a financial windfall. It could be that one of those “break outs” will change a person’s life for good, perhaps for good or possibly for bad.

There is one thing, however, that is guaranteed to change your life for the good. That one thing is a spiritual “break out.” That day long ago when Jesus walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee He called out to some of the fishermen there, and it changed their lives forever. Peter, Andrew, James and John would never be the same after their encounter with the Lord. Those four men left their lifelong careers that they thought they would always pursue and in a moment of time became not fishers of fish, but instead “fishers of men.”

Peter, Andrew, James and John are not the only ones to experience a spiritual “break out.” We know seven other men sincerely responded to the Lord’s call in becoming His disciples, as have countless others in the centuries to follow. Think of the woman at the well (John 4) who was just having a normal day until she had a conversation with the Master of the Universe and was forced to think outside of the box of her little world. Once she had experienced the “break out,” she cared little what anyone might have thought of her as she told everyone about the Lord. The man from Gadara (Mark 5) released from demonic oppression “broke out” of his enslavement to freedom in the Lord’s service.

What did most of these people have in common? They were willing to listen to what the Lord had to say, and they responded. Only the woman at the well even attempted to engage in a verbal exchange of spiritual ideas. When they encountered the Truth, they recognized that this One was radically different. The result was a “break out” from everything they had known in the past. Their lives and their worlds were enlarged beyond their wildest dreams and imaginations.

Would you like to experience a spiritual “break out?” You can “break out” if your heart is willing to respond when you hear the Lord’s Voice calling. If God were to speak to your heart right now calling you into a larger world and experience than you have ever known before, would you be ready to respond? Would you leave your “nets” and go without looking back? Or, would you argue, debate, and procrastinate until it was too late. Make no mistake. If you have a willing and listening heart, someday Jesus will be walking your way, and you too will “break out” spiritually.

The Burning Bush Devotional

12.19.14

Boiling the Ocean

…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 NKJV.

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 NKJV.

While I was waiting for a haircut today, I read some magazines, and learned a new phrase or saying that I had not heard before: “Boiling the Ocean.” The Urban Dictionary defines “boiling the ocean” as: “To attempt something that is way too ambitious, effectively impossible. An idea too broad in scope to accomplish.” They also had this to say about usage of the phrase: “Jargon often used by self-important corporate middle managers prone to bloating their speech with meaningless and unnecessary buzz-words.” An example of someone using this phrase according to the Urban Dictionary is, “Herb, buddy, you're really ‘boiling the ocean’ on this one. We can't manufacture and nationally distribute fifteen-thousand widgets in ten minutes.”

In these days of the 21st Century, more and more things appear to me to be like trying to “boil the ocean.” If I had known that phrase this morning when I was attempting to move an old sleeper sofa out of the house, I would have said that would be like trying to “boil the ocean.” Jeanie has wanted to do this for two years, and today was the day she wanted to “boil the ocean.” Really, things do appear far more difficult than they did a few years ago having so many technological advances in such a short period of time. Synching your phone with your car…I’m not sure I can do that. My new phone should be synched now, but it still doesn’t work right. Some houses are so technologically advanced that you probably have to synch your phone with your house. For me that would be like trying to “boil the ocean!”

Even though things may appear difficult, with God it may be as easy as telling a mountain to move from here to there (Matthew 17:20). If you look back through the pages of the Bible, you will find that there was a lot of ocean boiling going on. Noah built the ark to save mankind and every animal species. Abraham left his home only knowing God wanted him to leave, not knowing where he was going. Moses and the Israelites walked across the Red Sea on dry ground, while the Egyptians were pursuing them. Water coming out of rocks, and the walls of Jericho falling down after the people walked around it several times and they all shouted. Caleb conquered a mountain full of giants when he was 80-years-old. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego made it through the fiery furnace, and Daniel survived a night sleeping with the lions in their den. David killed Goliath, the giant, with a slingshot. Peter walked on water and Paul survived being stoned almost to death, being drug outside of Lystra and left for dead; but he rose again after they had a prayer meeting and went back into the city (Acts 14:19-20).

The greatest of all ocean boiling moments occurred when God in His audacity came down from the glories of Heaven to be born as a tiny baby into a lowly carpenter’s family. What ocean boiling that was, to think that a tiny baby could become the Savior of all who would seek Him. But that’s what God did because “God so loved the world….” So the next time someone tells you that you need to stop trying to boil the ocean, tell them that sometimes even greater things happen. And that is what Christmas is all about; a Savior was born because our courageous God loved you and me. Let us follow His example, attempt those great things for God, because sometimes mountains do move.

The Burning Bush Devotional

12.18.14

Christmas Gift Ideas

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. - Luke 2:6-7 NKJV.

…wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” - Matthew 2:1b-2 NKJV.

…behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. …they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. - Matthew 2:9; 11 NKJV.

Heavy dot com has a list of unusual Christmas gifts for Christmas 2014. Here are some of them: An extendable selfie stick with Bluetooth remote, $25.99. Place your cell at the end of the stick and extend it out to 40 inches. You too can take the perfect selfie! Then there are the Zombie Cajun Hot Sauce Sampler, Pressed Flower iPhone6 Case, and the Japanese Candy and Snack Pack.

The DoDoBurd has a list of 100 of the most unique Christmas gifts for 2014. Here are some of them: A 60-hour candle for $30, Live Video Camera Drone $1300, Sunrise Simulator Alarm Clock $139.99, Staple-less Stapler $16, 3D Printing Pen $100, Authentic Pac-Man Arcade Game $3500, Automatic Cordless Tire Inflator $90 (I’d like to have one of those…), Automatic Home Canning System $299.95, Polaroid Camera $180 (Photos come out the side now.), 3 Wheel Folding Electric Scooter $1800, and the Giant Piano Mat $90.

What do you give to the man, or in the case of the Magi, the babe (Or, toddler depending on when the Magi actually visited.) who really does have everything because He made everything? John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” The Magi brought three gifts, and we can understand the gift of “gold.” The family of the King of kings might need some gold to take proper care of Him. Then there is the “frankincense.” What kind of a store do you go to when you want to buy frankincense? Wikipedia gives this information about it: “Frankincense was one of the consecrated incenses (HaKetoret) described in the Hebrew Bible.” Frankincense in modern usage is believed to have many health benefits. “Myrrh” has many medicinal uses even today as well, but it was also used in embalming. While there were likely practical uses for these gifts there was the symbolism representing the true identity of Jesus. Gold was for His being the King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15). Frankincense was for His being our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14), and Myrrh pointed toward His death once for all on the cross (Romans 6:9-10).

We know what the presents were that the Magi or wise men gave to Jesus. But what can we possibly give to God Himself who made everything and owns everything? If you think of the night Jesus was born fully man and fully God upon this earth there was something that He needed. That something He needed was a place to be born, because there was no room in the Inn. Jesus is seeking a place to dwell in your life, to make your body His Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; Revelation 3:20). This Christmas, give Jesus a room in your Inn, give Him your heart.

The Burning Bush Devotional

12.17.14

Don’t Burn the Goat!

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” - Luke 2:8-14 NKJV.

Since 1966 in Gävle, Sweden, a huge straw Christmas goat 42½ feet tall (13 meters) weighing 3.6 tons has been erected in the town square every December. The Yule Goat is one of Scandinavia and Northern Europe’s oldest traditions. Sadly, vandals have burned down the straw goat at least 24 times before Christmas during the years since 1966. In 1977, the goat only lasted six hours before burning to the ground. In 2012, the goat only made it to December 12th when it was burned down. Last year, the goat was treated with a flame retardant and it was thought that it would solve the problem; however, it was still burned down again.

There is a live cam which I looked at this morning of the Christmas Goat and it is a pretty sight that is apparently still standing so far this year. It is reported that the Goat has Twitter and Instagram accounts and provides updates about itself in Swedish and English. To deter future goat arsonists let‘s be clear, it is against the law to burn the goat, and at least one American has been arrested for setting fire to it. (Yahoo News; Huffington Post; The Report; Wikipedia; and numerous other news venues)

Making it to and through Christmas without burning down the goat can be challenging for most of us. Putting up the Christmas tree and decorations can be challenging. How many have been injured falling off of a ladder or slipping down the roof? Shopping for those Christmas gifts can sometimes be more like a full contact sport fighting the crowds and rushing from store to store. There is the yearly ritual of sending out the Christmas cards. In addition, the Christmas season usually has the most events that families must attend. Schools always have Christmas programs as do churches that families must attend. It is also a time of many sporting events which children are involved in along with band events, choir events, and on and on. Then there is the scheduling of Christmas gatherings with all the families, driving there, or flying there, just getting there. The cooking, the eating, and did I mention the credit card bills?

The Christmas season can be so frustrating that it can make the most kind and peaceful person want to burn down the goat. Let us remember the reason for Christmas is not the giving and receiving of presents. The reason for Christmas is not the gathering of families and fellowship with friends. The reason for Christmas is not even the helping of the unfortunate. What is the reason for the Christmas season? The short answer is, JESUS! The reason for the “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” is as the angel of the Lord said to the shepherds, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” So, whenever we become so frustrated that we could burn down the Christmas goat, let us remember what the real reason for the season is, and that reason is JESUS. Instead of frustration, place Jesus in the center of your heart and of your Christmas celebration; and He will give you, “great joy.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

12.16.14

Proof of Life

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” - John 3:1-3 NKJV.

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 NKJV.

In 1976, Lal Bihari discovered that he had a problem. He found out that he was dead! Bihari found out when he applied for a bank loan that he had been declared legally dead. In the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh when some greedy people wanted to inherit property and the relative continued to live, they bribed governmental officials to have them declared legally dead. This speeded up the process of obtaining the property. Even though Lal Bihari was very much alive it still took 18 years for him to prove it. Even though Bihari ran for office, filed lawsuits and even got himself arrested it was not enough to prove he was alive. He eventually founded the “Association of Dead People” to help himself and others to prove their existence. As a result of their efforts, more than 80 officials have been punished for their role in these scams.

Are you physically dead or alive? If you are not sure let me help you out. If you are reading this you are definitely alive physically. But what about spiritually? Are you dead or alive spiritually? Have you been “born again?” Have you “passed from death into life?”

In 1 Corinthians 2:14 the apostle Paul writes, “…the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” What are some of the easily identified “things of the Spirit of God?”

Here are three: the Bible; prayer; and church attendance or fellowship with other Christians. So, one way to identify whether or not you have spiritual life and are not just a “natural man” is to ask yourself this question: Does reading the Bible, praying, and attending church appear to be “foolishness” to you? If those spiritual things and those who practice those things look like foolishness to you then that is an indication that you may still be a “natural man” and have not “passed from death into life.”

The apostle John gives some additional indications to consider in the determination of spiritual life. Do you have a desire to keep God’s commandments, to do what God wants you to do with your life? (Read 1 John 2:3-5.) Do you love God more than you love the things of this world, more than your job, more than your family, more than your money, and more than your possessions? (Read 1 John 2:15-16; Matthew 6:33.) Are you living your life as Jesus wants you to live? (Read 1 John 2:6.)

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you (2 Corinthians 13:5)?” Are you alive or are you dead?

The Burning Bush Devotional

12.11.14

Turning Green

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. - James 3:13-16 NKJV.

Also, if a garment has a leprous plague in it, whether it is a woolen garment or a linen garment, whether it is in the warp or woof of linen or wool, whether in leather or in anything made of leather, and if the plague is greenish or reddish in the garment or in the leather, whether in the warp or in the woof, or in anything made of leather, it is a leprous plague and shall be shown to the priest. - Leviticus 13:47-49 NKJV.

And he shall examine the plague; and indeed if the plague is on the walls of the house with ingrained streaks, greenish or reddish, which appear to be deep in the wall, then the priest shall go out of the house, to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days. - Leviticus 14:37-38 NKJV.

There is a new tourist attraction in Varna, Bulgaria which is a seaside resort. The new attraction has nothing to do with fun in the sun on the sea. Instead, the new attraction is all about a cat, which is apparently friendly because it purrs. What makes this cat so special? The cat has turned green! Emerald green! It was thought at first that a cat hater or a group of cat haters had dyed the cat’s fur. There was even a facebook page set up seeking the perpetrators of this hateful action. Now it is known that the cat’s fur has become greener over time discounting the possibility of someone actually dying the animal. I’m wondering now how long it will be until the people of Varna begin to turn green too? That ought to be a real tourist attraction! (The Independent 12.08.14)

Green, as a color, has a better reputation in these days than it has had in past days. The “Hanging of the Green” is a frequently attended service at many churches in the United States at the beginning of the Christmas Season. I have been present at a few of those services and it can be very beautiful and meaningful. One church on their website actually says it is their most meaningful service of the year.

It was not long ago when the phrase “turning green with envy” was heard often. Why has there been a reduction in its use? “Green with envy” shows up in a Google search 790,000 times. The Urban Dictionary defines “green with envy” as: “Wishing very much that you had what someone else has. A longing to possess something awarded to or achieved by another.” But where did the phrase originate? I believe it came about because envy is a sin. In the Old Testament, there would often be a physical manifestation of sin called, leprosy (Having leprosy in these times does not mean that the person has sinned.). Leprosy, in the Old Testament was a vivid picture of the damage sin causes to a person and even to the possessions of a person. There was not only the leprosy of people, but also of clothing and of houses. Clothing with leprosy, and even houses with leprosy would sometimes turn, GREEN.

The Christmas Season, in some ways is also the envy season. When we see others who are able to give so much more to their families than we are, we envy. When we see others with homes more brightly decorated than ours, we envy. When we hear others tell about everything they are giving or have received in the way of Christmas presents, we envy. If our clothing or our houses could still turn green with leprosy, how many of us would be living in green houses wearing green clothes? Perhaps those of us who have so much, should be careful about how we show off what we have and what we give. Maybe it would make the Christmas Season, a little less GREEN, and a little less painful for those who do not have quite so much.

The Burning Bush Devotional

12.10.14

Courage Through Faith

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 NKJV.

Manon Ossevoort has finally made it to the South Pole, and it only took nine years! Manon used a Massey Ferguson MF 5610 tractor to drive there. I’m wondering when John Deere will step up to the plate here? Because it looks like Massey Ferguson may have the best tractor? Manon is now 38-years-old and a mother of a young daughter. The adventure began in 2005 from her hometown in the Netherlands. She drove the tractor 23,612 miles (38,000 km) from Europe to Cape Town in South Africa, but missed the ship because of delays that would have taken her to Antarctica. Manon then had to wait four years before making the final 1,553 mile (2,500 km) part of the journey across the Antarctica land mass.

Manon’s expedition was named Antarctica2 honoring Sir Edmund Hillary, who made the journey in 1958 on a tractor which had tracks. Manon’s Massey Ferguson has inflated tires. The Antarctic part of the journey was the most difficult traveling 23 hours and sometimes more every day. The seven member team faced -56C temperatures, crevasse fields, solid ice-waves, and altitude sickness. Manon said this after arriving at the South Pole, “Wow! I've made it! To have dreams is beautiful but to see them realized is the most extraordinary feeling. I'm inspired.” She says this about this amazing feat, “Fear holds people back from pursuing their dreams, and many believe that putting them into reality is as impossible as driving a tractor to the South Pole. The tractor for me symbolizes this very down to earth fact that if you want to do something, maybe you will not be so fast but if you keep going and keep your sense of humor you will get there.” Manon is also an actress, which makes me wonder if maybe John Deere can have an actress like Angelina Jolie make a trip down south too? (Orange News 12.10.14; Daily Mail 12.10.14)

What is it that Jesus told Mary? “For with God nothing will be impossible (Luke 1:37 NKJV).” It was a tremendous statement of courage that Mary responded with her statement of faith, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word (Luke 1:38 NKJV).” God called Mary to put aside her fears. Just as Manon said, fear does hold back many from pursuing their dreams. God called Mary, and I believe God calls every child of God to put away the fear, and to face life with courage.

When you respond to the call of God, it is not necessarily an easy life that He will lead you through, and it will require endurance as you run the race of life. The call of God for most will be in some ways as challenging and difficult as driving a tractor to the South Pole. We have a choice in life. We can choose to allow the emotion of fear to rule us, or we can choose to act in courage. Fear is an emotion, but courage is an action. We can decide as Mary did to act with courage even though we may be “troubled (Luke 1:29)” by what we are facing.

How can we have the courage to act when the fear of the known and of the unknown is so powerful; even overwhelming at times? We can have courage by having faith. How do we have faith? “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).” Mary responded courageously because of the faith that was instilled in her upon hearing the Word of God spoken by the angel, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” You can have that same faith, because our God has not changed. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

12.09.14

The Mountain of Life

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. - Romans 5:3-5 NKJV.

I have heard of the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon where the course is 26.2 miles and I am always incredibly impressed by the endurance of those who can even finish such a race. However, I have recently learned of an even more difficult race. It is a 100-mile endurance race and one of those races is run in Vermont. Their website says, “The Vermont 100 Endurance Race is one of the original 100 mile runs in the USA and a part of the Grand Slam series of Ultrarunning. Each year, 300 runners attempt to finish this hilly race over beautiful Vermont back roads and trails under the 30 hour cutoff point, and a well-trained few finish in under 24 hours. The current course record is 14:53:09.” Now that really is incredible and you have to have endurance to finish that race!

Endurance is defined as (1 ability to bear prolonged hardship: the ability or power to bear prolonged exertion, pain, or hardship; (2 toleration of hardship: toleration of prolonged suffering or hardship; (3 persistence over time: the survival or persistence of something despite the ravages of time. When I was in college the last time, I considered entering a doctoral program. One professor shared with me some of his experiences in obtaining his doctorate and graduate school in general. He summed it up by saying it was just an “endurance contest.” He said there were many people who were intelligent enough, and even more intelligent than he was, but they did not endure long enough to receive their degree.

According to the apostle Paul, the problems, trials, and tribulations of life require “perseverance,” or as the KJV puts it, “patience.” It sounds like Paul is saying there are some things in life that require endurance. To live the Christian life requires that we endure the temptations of this world, the flesh, and the devil. To live a Christian life we must persevere in the face of harsh and critical words from those around us. We must persevere with kindness in return for the hateful things, which are sometimes done to us. We must persevere in the face of temptation; resisting for one more day.

As we persevere day by day, over time we will see that Paul was right. Over time, we will see that the perseverance develops character, and this godly character produces hope. In many ways, life is like a climb to the top of Mt. Everest. Stacy Allison, the first American woman to climb to the summit of Everest said this, “The end of the ridge and end of the world... then nothing but that clear, empty air. There was nowhere else to climb. I was standing on the top of the world.” Let us keep on climbing to new heights with Jesus because some bright shining day we too will stand on the top of our mountain, a mountain called, “Life.”

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2007

12.04.14

Put On Love

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 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 3:12-17 NKJV.

The apostle Paul says in Colossians 3:14, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Now the love that Paul is talking about is Christian love, which is defined in the 1 Corinthians 13. We know that we are to love, but who is it that we are to love? Who do you love?

Jesus tells us in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” So we know that a distinctive mark of a true disciple of Christ will be that we will love other Christians. But who else should we love? I believe that you can look at John 3:16 and see who God loved. “For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only begotten Son....” Every person living upon this planet Earth is someone for whom Christ died.

As we demonstrate our concern for the non-Christians by serving them, ministering to them, caring about them, and loving them, we become Christ’s hands and feet to demonstrate His great love.

Do you love everyone? If we really get right with God, we will. We will even love our enemies, because we want to follow our Lord’s example; and our Lord died for us while we were still sinners, still the enemies of God.

If you do a Google search for forgiveness and murderer, you will receive 1.8 million hits. Even if someone murders your loved one, you are as a child of God called to forgive and you can forgive through the power of God. We know this, but we hope and pray that we are never faced with having to do it. However, you are continually faced with smaller offenses. You may be faced with things like not receiving a promotion that you thought you deserved, receiving an unkind word from a friend, or a boss, not receiving recognition you thought you deserved, and on and on. There are so many little things that others can do that are irritating. Do you overlook them? Do you forgive them? Do you return kindness for their evil?

Who is it that you can share the love of Christ with today?

The Burning Bush Devotional
Classic from 2008

12.03.14

Your Nineveh

So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. The he cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. - Jonah 3:3-4 NKJV.

When I was in the eighth grade, I had the unpleasant experience of attending shop class with a bully. He w