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The First Burning Bush Devotional was sent June 8, 1998.
THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL ARCHIVE

Sometimes It’s Real

by Ed Wrather

Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. – Acts 12:5-9 NKJV.

How many times have we heard of fake grenades being discovered and the bomb squad being called in to check it out? More times than we can count. Just four days ago a fake grenade was found in Times Square by an Uber driver causing a scare. Five days ago, a man was taken into custody in West Park, Florida for causing a scare having a fake grenade. Last year a fake grenade caused a scare in Lakewood, New Jersey when the grenade was found strapped to a utility pole. Sometime back a fake grenade was found in luggage at Newark Airport. Countless other times fake grenades have been found and caused a scare and police departments have to respond.

Sadly, sometimes the grenade is real that is found and actually explodes. Last year an Indiana man and his two children were looking through his grandfather’s belongings when a grenade was found. Apparently one of them pulled the pin and it exploded killing the man and injuring his two kids. The boy was 14 years old, and the woman was 18 years old that were injured by shrapnel. Many soldiers have brought home souvenirs from war not knowing how dangerous they might be. A friend once showed me a .30 caliber machine gun in their closet that his faither had brought back from the Korean War. I think his father knew how dangerous that could be. The point is some of those things brought back from war by a father or grandfather or even a great grandfather may be very real and very dangerous.

King Herod had thrown the apostle Peter into prison, but God sent an angel to free him. At first Peter thought that it was just a dream, or a vision, but it was very real. We often hear of miraculous things occurring but try to explain them in human terms when it is actually a miracle that has occurred. How many times have we heard of someone having been told that they have a tumor or some other dreadful thing but a week or so later it is no longer there. We explain it away by saying the first Xray or CT scan must have been a mistake in some way. Or, we narrowly miss being in a terrible traffic accident, but somehow, we avoid it.

Sometimes miracles actually happen, sometimes it’s real, and I suspect that they occur much more frequently than we normally think. So, let us be sure to give the glory to God instead of man when these miracles happen.

A Testimony of Love

by Ed Wrather

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. – Revelation 12:11 NKJV.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. – 1 John 5:11 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.

The Dictionary (Dictionary.com) defines testimony as: “The statement or declaration of a witness under oath or affirmation, usually in court. Also defined as: “The statement or declaration of a witness under oath or affirmation, usually in court.And as an: “Open declaration or profession, as of faith.”

Often, we as Christians speak of our “testimony.” Usually, what we are talking about is when we believed upon Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, and we were “saved.” Saved from what? Saved from an eternity separated from God in the devil’s hell and saved to live eternally with the One True God. As John 3:16 says, when we believe upon Jesus as our Savior, turning from our sins and turning to Him, we have at that moment in time been “born again,” unto eternal life (born again: John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:22).

Do you have a testimony? Yesterday, Patricia Laster Davis shared her testimony on Facebook. She has graciously given me permission to share her testimony in this devotional. Here is what she wrote back in 2009:

“February 13, 2009 

Our marriage was on a fast track to hell and had been that way for quite some time. I thought the only solution was to get a divorce. After begging Jerry Shaggy Davis over and over he finally told me if I would go with him to talk to a preacher and if I didn’t change my mind, he would go with me on Monday to file for the divorce. I agreed immediately because I knew nothing was changing my mind.

On that Friday the 13th we walked into Brother Randall Eidson’s office at Kansas Baptist Church (I believe this is in Waco, Georgia). He said ‘I ain’t no marriage counselor, but I will ask if you died today where would you spend eternity?’

I knew I would go to hell, and I had to change that. I asked the Lord to forgive me of my sins and to save my soul! God not only saved me that day, but he saved my husband and my marriage!

If the Lord would save someone as wretched as me, He can save you too!

Fight for your marriage! Trust in the Lord and follow Him.”

God has a testimony of love, and that testimony is that He gave His life, shed His blood, so that you could have a testimony. Do you have one? Have you invited Jesus Christ into your heart and life and asked Him to forgive you of your sins? If not, there is no better time then now to do that! Jesus says in 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.

Small Things

By Ed Wrather

01.09.23

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. 

May 10, 1999, was a record setting day in the life of Marshall McDougall and for collegiate baseball. McDougall slammed six consecutive homers and with them knocked in 16 runs. These were both NCAA records. Since I have never hit a homerun, I am amazed at the ability to hit even one much less six in a row. When we think of accomplishments most likely we think of something like this day in the life of Marshall McDougall. A record setting day. 

In contrast the Bible tells us not to despise the day of small things. Zerubbabel had been leading the people in rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem. Progress had been slow. In twenty years, the people had only seen the foundation laid and they were discouraged. There had been many days of small steps necessary for the laying of the foundation, gathering of supplies, preparing of hearts before completion of the Temple. The things the people had accomplished had been small in their eyes but important in the eyes of God. They had been small things but necessary things. 

In our own lives we often become discouraged by the lack of meeting goals, the lack of spiritual growth, the backsliding, and other things as well. To God a homerun in our lives may be a day when we take time to read our Bible and pray. To God a record setting day may be when we overcome through His power a sin that has been besetting us. It may be a temporary victory. We may have held our tongue when we wanted to speak. We may have given when we wanted to keep. We may have blessed when we wanted to curse. We may have witnessed when we wanted to be by ourselves instead. We may have spent time with our children or grandchildren that we wanted to spend in some other way. 

The mighty oak tree begins how? Through a tiny acorn placed in the ground. A tiny baby sometimes grows to become a Billy, or a Franklin Graham. But it wasn’t always easy being their mother or father and there were many days of seemingly small things along the way. Today may be a day to plant an acorn. It may be a day when the acorn needs to be watered. 

A day well lived no matter how small it appears is not to be despised. We may not have a crowd setting on the bench cheering us on. However, there is someone watching. “The eyes of the Lord which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.” When we plant the acorn or water it, the Lord knows and the angels in Heaven are cheering and rejoicing.

The Called

By Ed Wrather

01.06.23

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. – 1 Corinthians 1:9 NKJV. 

In the book of Numbers instructions were given for the making and the use of trumpets. The trumpets were made of silver and must have been very beautiful instruments. They would blow the trumpets to call the people or groups of people to certain activities. 

The trumpets would call the people to assemble at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. The trumpets would call the heads of the thousands, the princes of Israel to assemble. The trumpets would call the people of the different camps to begin to move forward in an organized way. The trumpets would also sound an alarm or call the people to war. 

God is still in the calling business today. He doesn’t use a trumpet but a still small voice which speaks to our hearts. We often speak of preachers and other Christian workers as being called. We talk about missing our call. We tend to neglect that all those who know Jesus as their Savior have been called. There is the initial call to salvation, into His fellowship. The call does not end there. It is a continuing call. We are told in 2 Timothy 1:9 the God, “…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling….” 

Once we know the Lord through being “born again” we are continually called into a deeper relationship with God which will result in our becoming more and more like Him. The apostle Peter speaks of this in 1 Peter 1:15-16: “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” 

Make no mistake God is calling you! He is speaking to your heart at this very moment. The question is “Do you hear Him.” Or, maybe the question should be “Do you want to hear Him?”

A Locust Problem

By Ed Wrather

01.05.23

So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.

– Joel 2:25-26 NKJV. 

In a previous church where I was the pastor there was a man who had a different kind of testimony than most of us hear today. His testimony was that he had never touched a drop of alcohol and he had never done any drugs. Usually, the testimony we hear in these days is just the opposite. It is possible through the power of God to live a life free from those sinful things. If we have never become involved with alcohol, drugs, sexual immorality, or other immoral things it is much easier to live a holy life. 

What about the rest of us? Those of us who have become bogged down in sin? The Israelites had become bogged down in sin. They went through the feast days just as though they were rituals that had to be performed. They did not really worship God. How could they worship God when their hearts were so far from Him? The further they got from God the worse things became for them. The years they spent in sin were wasted years. The wasted years were years which the locusts ate up just as locusts sometimes eat up a crop. 

God said through the prophet to His sinful people, and He is saying the same to us today:

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.
 (Joel 2:12-13).” 

If the people would turn back to God, if we will turn back to God, He will restore the years the locusts have eaten. No, the years may not be restored in our lives day for day. However, God is able to intensify the quality of life which we have. 

We may have lived all of our lives in sin and think what is the use of changing now? In addition, to gaining eternal life and living forever and ever in Heaven; God would give you abundant life now. One month lived in the power, strength, joy, peace, love, and fellowship of God is better than all the days I lived in sin. It will be for you too. 

1 John 1:9 may be just the verse you need today. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Last Words

By Ed Wrather

01.04.23

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. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. – James 4:13-17 NKJV. 

Thomas Hughes, on his way to fight in the first World War wrote a short message, put it in a bottle, and dropped it into the English Channel. His last words intended for his wife were, “Ta ta sweet, for the present. Your Hubby.” Thomas died two days later in battle. The bottle was finally recovered in 1999 and presented to Thomas Hughes’ daughter who was living in New Zealand. 

If Thomas had known, he would soon die, most likely he would have written more. If he had known his wife would be dead and his daughter late in life would receive the letter, he would have perhaps have more carefully chosen his words. 

So many of us live our lives as if we know that we have many years left to live. We live as though the mortality tables of the insurance companies are accurate in every case. The truth is we do not know what will happen tomorrow or even during the rest of this day. 

If we knew, we would die in two days would there be some things we need to take care of? Would there be some things we would want to say to family, friends, neighbors? If we knew our Lord was coming back today, would we live our day differently than we have planned? Would there be some things we would do, say, write? Would there be some things we would not do, say, or write?

Need Revival?

By Ed Wrather

01.03.23

First, the place to begin for revival is to please God. To receive Jesus as our personal Savior pleases God. The angels in Heaven rejoice whenever someone is born again. “… Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10).” 

Second, we please God through faith. In Hebrews 11:6 we are told, 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.” 

Third, we please God by growing in wisdom. In Luke 2:52 the Bible says, And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” 

We are told in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom….” 

We should seek the wisdom that comes from God. In James 3:17, “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.” 

James also tells us in 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.” 

Fourth, we can please God by walking in righteousness. In 1 Thessalonians 4:1 we are told, Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God.” 

Also, in John 14:21, He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” 

Fifth, we can please God by praising Him. The Psalmist says in Psalm 69:30-31, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull,
which has horns and hooves.”

Do you need revival in your life? Please God!

More Life

By Ed Wrather

01.03.23

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. 

There do seem to be some moments in time when I have been more alive than other times. Visiting with a young family and the wife does not know Christ but wants to know Him. Seeing and hearing her pray to receive Christ as her Savior, I was definitely alive. 

Being on top of a little mountain at pre-teen camp with a group of campers. Each one shared when they had been saved. But one had not come to know Jesus as their Savior but wanted to be saved. I was alive leading her to Christ. 

Receiving a letter from a prison inmate thanking me because he had prayed to receive Christ and how much it meant to him. I was alive with joy.

Jesus came that we might have life. He says in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The bringing of life was not automatic. Jesus was on a mission to seek out and bring life to this world. We as His modern day disciples should have the same mission. Indeed, we have a command to do so in Matthew 28:18-20. It is called the Great Commission. Maybe we should call it the Great Command, or the Great Order from the High Commander. 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.” 

The more obedient we are to that command the more life we will have. The more we join with Jesus in the seeking and the saving of the lost the more life we will have.

Want life? Want abundant life? Jesus says, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few (Matthew 9:37).” Let us join Him in reaping the harvest this New Year and gain the abundant life.

Change of Course

By Ed Wrather

12.28.22

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?” – Acts 9:1-4 NKJV. 

Although it happened 20 something years ago, I still remember hearing about a woman whose car caught fire as she was driving near a neighboring church. She made it to the church parking lot and some people called the fire department. The fire department was able to save the back tires and the gas tank but everything else was burned. 

The woman seemed to have no reason to be in the area and you have to wonder if God was involved with a car suddenly catching fire just in time to make it to a church parking lot. Could be that she was on her way to somewhere she shouldn’t have been. It may be that God stopped her. He’s been known to do that before.

Saul, soon to be known as Paul, had a similar experience. Saul was on his way to cause some major damage to the early church. Being blinded by the Lord changed his mind and the course of life. From Saul the persecutor to Paul the apostle and missionary. Quite a change! 

If you need a change of course in your life, what would it take to bring it about? Blindness? A car fire? Illness? Would God do such a thing? I know that he did things like that in the apostle Paul’s life and God has done things like that in my life.

Really, I don’t know whether the woman who had the car fire was off course with her life or not. Could have just been a coincidence. But why wait for God, or a coincidence, to change the course of your life? If you are off course with your life, and know it, why not change course now?

Holiday Stress

By Ed Wrather

12.27.22

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 (passeth – KJV) all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 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.

Here is one way not to respond to stress during this holiday season. Millie McMillie lost track of her two kids at the Miami International Airport back on the 20th of December. She kind of went a little crazy yelling and grabbing things off of the counter. She demanded the gate agent find her children. She grabbed the boarding pass reader off the counter, picked up the computer and threw it. Altogether she caused $10,000 in damages. Where were her children? They had gone to the restroom. The trip to New York City was delayed as Millie was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, criminal mischief, and… it’s hard to believe but she was also charged with disorderly conduct. (New York Post 12.21.22 and several other news venues.) 

It can be very stressful when you lose track of your children, especially in the time that we live in now. We once lost track of our 10-year-old son who has Down Syndrome in a large department store. Of course, we were searching all over for him and alerted store employees to help with the search. We finally found him inside of a dressing room standing on the seat so the door would have to be opened before he could be seen. Very scary! 

So many people have had their flights and plans changed because of the severe winter weather this season. When things like this happen, it is important to remember that it is not the end of the world. Yes, you may miss out on the family gathering, or be late arriving back in time for work but you will survive. It is important to remain calm so that you will be able to think clearly about how to respond in the situation. What was I doing in addition to searching for our young son when we lost track of him? I was praying as I am sure that my wife was doing at the same time. 

When we pray in these stressful situations, before you lose your mind, give God a few moments to give you the directions for how to respond. He will always come through for you according to His will and His will is always the best thing for you. Trusting God during these stressful times will give you the supernatural peace that you need to think clearly and to be able to make the best decisions.

Fear No Evil

By Ed Wrather 

12.27.22

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. – Psalm 23:4.

The first medical missionary assigned to Nigeria was Dr. George Green. In 1906, Dr. Green made his way in a small ship up the Niger River. The war drums were sounding. The captain of the ship told Dr. Green, “I can’t let you continue. The different villages are threatening one another with cannibalism. The drums say, ‘we will kill you and eat you.’ Dr. Green, you are a white man and a missionary. If I let you off the boat your life will be in great jeopardy.” Dr. Green’s response to the captain? “I have hundreds of friends in America praying for me. God has called me to this place. I have planned and prayed for this day for many years. I will proceed.”

God protected the life of Dr. Green over the next four decades. During that time, he founded dozens of clinics and hospitals. He trained hundreds of medical personnel including 250 surgeons. He lost track of the numbers of people he led to Christ, but the total was in the tens of thousands. 

In 1944 Dr. Green furloughed to America for the last time. He said goodbye prior to his final return to Nigeria. Finally, he steamed up the same river he had come up 40 years before. As he sat on the deck, he quietly thanked God for the many years of protection and blessing. But suddenly he heard a sound he had not heard in many years. War drums! He remembered the war drums of 40 years before. Dr. Green stood and listened. Tears ran down his face. From the villages along the shore, he could hear the drums playing, “All hail the power of Jesus name, Let angels prostrate fall….”

The next time the cannibals are about to eat you alive remember to ask for the Lord’s protection. He can take you through the “shadow of death.” He can give you peace for “fear.” He can give you victory (1 Corinthians 15:57). His rod and His staff will comfort you.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

By Ed Wrather

12.17.22

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 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.

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!”

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. – Luke 2:18 NKJV.

Jesus Christ is the man of Millenniums, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is the Alpha and the Omega and He loves you!!

In two millenniums, there has been no more marvelous news given to mankind. We have a Savior!! I would submit to you that in the present millennium there will be no news more important or marvelous than that given 2000 years ago.

MAY YOU HAVE A VERY MERRY AND BLESSED CHRISTMAS!!

We Know Why

By Ed Wrather

12.16.22

Matthew 5:13-16 NKJV:

“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.” 

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

As a result of our lip service to God we have millions of babies being murdered every year in the name of expedience. We call it abortion, but God calls it murder. We have violence on television, in movies, in video games, in our homes, in our workplaces, on the streets, and even in our churches. 

Our national sport is football and basketball is a close second, which is sometimes like football without the pads. That’s not even to mention ice hockey, or wrestling, or boxing, or the martial arts! How could a nice boy who is an honor student point a gun at his fellow students and begin firing? Wake up America! We know why! The question is when will we do something about it?

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

  1. The mounting desire for pleasure and the brutalization of sports.
  2. The breakdown of the family and the increase of divorce.
  3. The decay of religion into many confusing forms, leaving the people without a uniform faith.

Sound familiar?

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

Facing a Brick Wall?

By Ed Wrather

12.14.22

And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.” – Genesis 42:36 NKJV.

Have you ever felt like you were facing a brick wall in life? Felt like you were between the proverbial rock and a hard place? At the end of your rope and your fingers are slipping? It happens to most people in the course of a lifetime at one point or another. It may be finances. It may be an illness. It may be our children. It may be something else and most likely it will be a combination of things that brings us to the point of collapse.

The pressure on Jacob had been building for some time. His beloved wife had died. His sons were rebellious. He thought his next to youngest son Joseph had died a tragic death at the hand of a wild animal. There was a famine threatening to wipe out his entire family. 

Jacob had heard there was grain in Egypt and had sent his sons, all except Benjamin, to go and bring back some of the lifesaving food. Now they had returned without the grain, and without Simeon. Jacob had come to expect the worst and believed he would never see Simeon again. Not only that, but the Egyptian in charge of the grain wanted his beloved Benjamin as well. How could Jacob go on? Jacob cries out, “All these things are against me!”

Jacob could not know what God knew. He could not see what God could see. God knew Jacob’s son, Joseph, was alive and well. Joseph was now the second most powerful man in the most powerful country of the world. Joseph controlled the food supply for all of that area of the world. Joseph’s brother was also alive, well, and safe. As Joseph later pointed out to his brothers: “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive (Genesis 50:19-20).”

Jacob and his family could tell you that Romans 8:28 is true. They did not have the promise written out as we do today, but they experienced the truth of the verse lived out in their lives. All things did appear to be against Jacob and his family. But to “those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose,” “all things work together for good.” 

The next time “all these things are against” you, keep on loving God. When all appears lost, keep on following, and seeking, and pursuing His will, His purpose to be done in your life. It may be the brick wall is just a mirage. It may be that when you let go of the rope that the solid rock is only an inch below. When you are between a rock and a hard place, the hard place may turn out to be the greatest blessing of your life!

Live Peaceably

By Ed Wrather

12.12.22

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. – Matthew 5:44 NKJV.

A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention. – Proverbs 15:18 NKJV. 

Have you ever worn your “feelings on your sleeve?” Got a “chip on your shoulder?” It seems as though more and more people are doing exactly that. It does not take very much to offend people anymore and the chip on their shoulder is balanced very precariously. To avoid hurting the feelings of others is becoming more and more difficult. 

It may be the high-tech world in which we live. In a Gallop Poll, 64% of workers find getting equipment (computers, copiers, printers, faxes, etc.) to work properly is a frustrating task. Another part of the poll found one out of six were made angry by someone they worked with during the past year. The poll also found that 22% of those under age 35 working in office, sales, or clerical jobs felt like hitting someone.

I would like to see a poll of those using the Internet. How many using the Internet would like to hit someone they are communicating with? Maybe it is because we are somewhat anonymous and feel freer to express how we really feel. Since being online I have lost track of the number of times I have received emails cursing me with obscene language. One man in the past even threatened to kill me. I would submit to you that being slammed by someone online hurts some of us just as much as it would in person. Words printed out are far more permanent and longer lasting than spoken words.

The apostle Paul shares some excellent advice with us in Romans 12:18-21:

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.”
 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The Tongue

By Ed Wrather

12.10.22

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

Ephesians 4:29 has also been translated in this way: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” 

Some time ago in Texas a 16-year-old beauty queen resigned her title and transferred to another school. It all happened after she failed to make the cheerleading squad and apparently verbally threatened the girls who did make the squad. The beauty queen says it was only words. Some of the students believe she was unfairly singled out. One student said, “I don’t think anyone thinks she really meant it.” Another said, “You’ve got to watch what you say, even if it’s just a joke.” How true! 

The Bible says, “Do not let any unwholesome communication come out of your mouths.” In the current atmosphere in which we live we can see immediately how helpful these words are. To avoid running down other people verbally, to avoid saying hurtful things obviously will save us and others a great amount of grief. 

You have to wonder how many fights have been started because of words? How many suicides have resulted because of words? How many marriages are broken because of words? How many parents and children are not talking because of words? How many wars because of words? As James said in James 3:5b-6a, “See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.”

In Ephesians 4:30 the apostle Paul infers it grieves the Holy Spirit when our words are unwholesome or corrupt. Then, Paul goes on to say (v. 31), “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” As Christians we must remember that we are “Ambassadors of Christ.” We must go beyond simply not saying bad things. We must go beyond not starting wars to preventing them. How do we do that? We must choose our words carefully just like an ambassador from one country to another country would do.

The Bible has much advice about what to say. Here in Ephesians 4:29 we are told to speak only “what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Or, “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”). Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” If we have an attitude of kindness, of being tenderhearted, of forgiveness it is much easier to say the right thing. Saying the right thing or the wrong thing, whether you mean it or not does matter, and can make an eternal difference in the lives of some. It may also very well determine your success or failure in life.

Interruptions

By Ed Wrather

12.09.22

And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” – Luke 5:12 NKJV. 

Had any interruptions lately? Jesus was constantly being interrupted. What was His response? The response of Jesus was to meet the need of this Leper. 

In verse 13 we are told, Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately the leprosy left him.”

In verse 18 Jesus is preaching and is interrupted again, Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him.” 

Early one Sunday morning as I was praying in the church (While I was the pastor of FBC Sweetwater, Oklahoma), I heard someone pounding on the doors which were still locked. The man shared that he had a flat tire but no spare and needed to use a telephone to call his wife.

As we waited for his wife to come, we were able to talk about God and found that this man had wandered away. God was using that interruption to call His child back to Him. However, I could have ignored the opportunity. I could have ignored the pounding on the doors.

How often have I been irritated at interruptions? How often have you? I believe Jesus saw interruptions as opportunities to minister. Often interruptions come at busy times. They come at times when we seem to have little time to spare. But with those interruptions come opportunities. Opportunities to be the hands of God in ministry.

Discouraged?

By Ed Wrather

12.07.22

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 5:6-7 NKJV.

Some time ago the Hayden Planetarium in New York City invited all those interested in being part of the first spaceship crew to go to another planet to fill out an application. Eighteen thousand people filled out applications. Those applications were given to a group of psychologists who attempted to determine the reasons the people applied. They determined the vast majority of them applied because they were so discouraged with their lives that they were hoping to start a new life somewhere else.

All of us have been discouraged at one point or another. Many of the great servants of God in the Bible had times of discouragement. Even our Lord wept over Jerusalem. So, what should we do if we are discouraged?

First, acknowledge the problem but don’t dwell upon it. Don’t put all of your focus upon the problem itself but focus instead upon the Lord and His resources. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, but He didn’t sit there all-day crying. He got up and went down into the city. There were some things He needed to do.

Second, remind yourself of your abilities, your assets. David did this in 1 Samuel 30. He reminded himself of the things that were still his. Just because you miss the plane doesn’t mean you have to cancel the whole vacation. Regroup!

Third, take a long and wide look at the possibilities. We know that God promises to bring good out of the bad for those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. So, what is the good? Where is the good? Look around until you see it.

Whatever your discouragement God does have the power to hold you together. It may very well be that out of the blackest day of your life there is a dawn waiting to burst forth. Cast all your cares, all your anxiety, all your worries, all your problems, all your discouragement upon God!

Hope

By Ed Wrather

12.06.22

Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. – Hebrews 6:17-20 NKJV.

The dictionary tells us that hope is an expectation of something desired. Dante defined it as “waiting with certainty.” It is more than wishing; hope is a confident anticipation of something yet to come. Confidence is trust or reliance upon something or someone. For Christians that something or someone is Jesus Christ.

Our bodies and minds can withstand a great amount of pressure. We can withstand the physical pressure of cold and of heat. We can withstand great amounts of pain. We can also go through times of illness, financial problems, marital problems, unemployment, or even the death of someone close to us. We can, if we don’t lose one very important thing. That thing is hope. Take away our hope and we can withstand very little. Without hope we simply give up.

Sometimes winds of trouble blow our way which attack our hope. The wind of things happening that should never happen attacks our hope. The death of a loved one is an example. The wind of things that should happen that never happen. For some healing never comes. The wind of things that should happen now but happen much later. Moses appears to have wanted to lead his people to freedom 40 years before it occurred. These winds of trouble eat away at our hope.

If you have experienced these winds of trouble or others, then Hebrews six is for you. We are encouraged not to give up because: For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:10-12 NKJV.)”

You can do it! You can continue on in the face of the winds of trouble. Why! Because you have “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.”

Groanings and Glory

By Ed Wrather 

12.02.22

…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. For I consider (reckon – KJV) that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. – Romans 8:17-18 NKJV. 

Soon after I became a Christian, I wrote a song about life being so good with no problems and sky being blue with no clouds in sight to rain on my parade. Life was so bright I thought I needed to wear shades. I now know things are not always wonderful as a Christian. 

We are not called to a life of ease. Instead, we are issued uniforms and weapons of war as we are told in Ephesians 6:10-11, “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.” 

The way of the Christian is not always easy because we are called to make a stand. We need to know ahead of time that there is going to be some groaning, there is going to be some pain and suffering. Paul does tell us in Romans 8:17 that “…the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory…” to come. This is an amazing statement, especially when Paul applies it to himself. It is amazing because when Paul’s ship wasn’t sinking, or he wasn’t being stoned, or robbed, he was being whipped to within an inch of losing his life. 

Paul was not being a poet when he told the Galatians 6:17, “…let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Despite Paul’s sufferings he says that the present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory. That is amazing!! 

Paul begins Romans 8:18 by saying, “I reckon,” meaning that he has thought it over carefully. He says much the same thing in 2 Corinthians 4:17. No matter what we have gone through, are presently going through, or will go through, when you add it all up the total groans are not worth comparing to the glory awaiting us. 

You can compare a glass of water with the ocean. But we cannot compare our sufferings with the coming glory because Paul says they, “…are not worthy to be compared.” For all Christians a glory awaits us that exceeds the wildest imaginations of even the most gifted science fiction writers. One bright, shining day our groanings will be replaced by glory!!

For or Against

By Ed Wrather

11.30.22

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. – Matthew 12:30 NKJV. 

In Matthew 12:30 Jesus is drawing the line. He is making it clear who stands with Him and who is against Him. We cannot straddle the fence. It is all or nothing. Jesus is Lord of our lives, or He is not Lord at all. We can try to hide in our foxhole, but the enemy will find us. 

During the Civil War, a Union soldier was shot in the arm at the battle of Shiloh. His captain, noting his injury, ordered him out of the battle, saying, “Gimme your gun, Private, and get to the rear. The soldier handed over his rifle and ran north seeking safety. 

After running a few hundred yards, he ran into a skirmish. He then ran east and came upon another part of the battle. He turned west and soon encountered more fighting, so he ran back to the front lines. He ran up to his captain and said, “Gimme my gun back, Captain. There ain’t no rear to this battle!” (From James W. Moore’s book “Seizing the Moment.”). 

There is no “rear” to our battle either! 

There are some dangerous people in the spiritual realm. They are people who often seem to be sincere about their religion. They believe in God. They go to church. They try to be good, moral people about most things. They usually say the right words. Sadly, they have been deceived by the enemy and are being used by the enemy. They have religion instead of a relationship with Jesus. 

These people may be church members, but they are not Christians. They may contribute but they have not been changed. They may have been baptized, but they did not believe in their hearts unto righteousness. They may be leaders in the church, but they have not made Jesus the Lord of their lives. They may respect God, but they do not allow Jesus to sit on the throne of their hearts. 

So, are we with Him or against Him? Do we gather or scatter?

Attempt Great Things

By Ed Wrather

11.29.22

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. – Joshua 1:6 NKJV. 

Joshua has received a promotion to Leader of the Children of Israel and Commander in Chief of the Israeli armed forces. Joshua has just taken over the reins from Moses. But this is not necessarily a promotion that Joshua wanted or desired to have. This was not going to be a cake walk. There were so many people. They had proven in the past to be a rebellious people. At least their parents were. They had it in their blood. Joshua knew he had to protect these people and at the same time conquer a land filled with strong cities and people. For many it would have been an impossible task. God knew Joshua would need courage. 

Courage can be valor demonstrated as the soldier or others face death. Courage, however, can and must be demonstrated to live the Christian life. John F. Kennedy once said, “Without belittling the courage with which men have died we should not forget those acts of courage with which . . . men have lived.” 

Much of what God calls on us to do as His child requires courage. It requires courage for us to take seriously the Great Commission. It requires courage for us to live out the Sermon on the Mount. It certainly requires courage to follow in the steps of Jesus. Sometimes, however, we are called on to face what may seem to be an impossible task. We may face our own Jericho as did Joshua. Will we have the courage? Can it be done?

J. A. Holmes said, “Never tell anyone it can’t be done. God may have been waiting for centuries for somebody ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing.” 

Teddy Roosevelt said, “I am only an average man, but I work harder at it than the average man.” 

When William Carey began to make preparations to go to India as a missionary his father tried to talk him out of it. His father pointed out that he had no academic qualifications for such a task. Carey’s response was, “I can plod.” I think we can agree he did more than plod! Carey’s motto or theme of life was: “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”

 

Our Deepest Need

By Ed Wrather

11.18.22

Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” – Mark 2:3-5 NKJV.

“I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” – Mark 2:11-12 NKJV.

I can understand their amazement. There are times when I come to church and wish that something different would happen. There are times when I hope something extraordinary will happen this time. My life, including my devotional time, too often becomes ordinary, predictable. It is the same thing over and over. You have probably experienced that too. You’ve experienced it at your church. Most services bear a close resemblance to the previous service. We pray, we sing, we hear a sermon, we pray again, and we go home.

This incident in the life of Jesus with the healing of the paralyzed man is a reminder. It is a reminder that our lives, and churches can be interrupted, disturbed, transformed, changed, and given meaning by our Lord Jesus. What was it that brought about this dramatic interruption of services and miraculous healing of the paralyzed man? It occurred because he and his friends realized that only Jesus could help.

Each of us have needs, maybe not as severe as the paralyzed man but we have needs. When we reach the point of acknowledging that only Jesus can meet those needs then the ordinary can become extraordinary. At that point, church ceases to be monotonous and repetitive. At that point our personal devotional time takes on new meaning. Church and our devotional time have new meaning because it has become very personal.

What is our deepest need of all? Our deepest need is to know God and to experience Him. The something unusual, the something different, the something extraordinary that we long for when we come to church is God. To experience God, we must acknowledge our need of Him and that we cannot do life by ourselves. When we come to that point, we will find that church, the praying, the singing, and the preaching is alive. We will find that praying and reading God’s Word is something that we just cannot live without.

Want Life?

By Ed Wrather

11.23.22

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. – John 11:25–26ab NKJV. 

Jesus makes the above statement just before bringing Lazarus back to life. Then, Jesus asks Martha, Do you believe this?” Soon after the affirmative response of Martha, Jesus calls Lazarus back to life. In 1 John 5:12 the Bible says, He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 

There are so many who are desperately trying to find life in all the wrong places. They are trying to find life in making more money. They think if they could just make a little more money, they could buy more things and then they would have a life. There are those who are trying to drink their way to having a life. There are those who are trying to do drugs to have a life. There are those who, through sexual immoralities, are trying to have a life. These things do not bring life but death. 1 John 2:15-17 tells us, 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. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 

I received a prayer request one night in the past from a man named Randy which really says it all: “Me and my wife ask you pray for us, we just got saved and we got a lot to learn about the Lord. We ask you to pray for us that we never go back doing what we were doing before. God has been good to us never thought it would be like this, couldn’t ask for anything better.” 

Neither could I!!

The Key

By Ed Wrather

11.22.22

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven… – Matthew 16:19a NKJV.

Some time ago now a tragedy occurred that could have been avoided. It happened at a Houston, Texas apartment complex. Two 15-month-old toddlers drowned. It need not have happened. Two men who were standing nearby the swimming pool were aware of what was happening, but they did nothing. When questioned by the police they could not give any reason for not trying to save the lives of the little children.

Of course, it is very hard to understand how someone could just stand by and let two small children drown. But what condition must our own hearts be in to let the days, months, years go by, aware that there are people we know who are lost. We are aware that if these people were to die, they would go to a terrible place called hell and once there they would never be able to leave. What kind of cold-hearted people are we if we do not reach out and share with them about Jesus?

What can you do? What can I do? The passage of Scripture in Matthew 16 says that Peter is given the keys to Heaven. What is the key to Heaven? The key to Heaven is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each one of us who have salvation knows the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. We have the key! We can use that key to open the door to Heaven for the lost to enter. How? By telling them about Jesus!

Who can you tell today?

Don’t Fall Out

By Ed Wrather

11.18.22

So he sent his brothers away, and they departed; and he said to them, “See that you do not become troubled along the way.” – Genesis 45:24 NKJV. 

I like the way the old KJV puts this as: See that ye fall not out by the way.” Other translations say: “Don’t argue,” “quarrel” or “fight.” 

Joseph had made himself known to his brothers and was sending them back for the rest of the family. The mission is critical. The famine is raging. The family must be running out of food. For the brothers of Joseph to delay or be sidetracked by anything would have resulted in the loss of life. So, Joseph charges his brothers, “See that you do not become troubled (or fall out) along the way.” Joseph knows his brothers. He knew how prone they were to argue among themselves. He knew how prone they were to become sidetracked. They have their assignment. They must not fail! 

Today the family of God is made up of all those who have received Jesus Christ as their Savior, who have been born again as Jesus commands in John chapter three. The situation now for the family of God is much like it was as Joseph sent his brothers to bring the rest of the family to safety. Some of those who should be a part of the family of God have not yet been brought to safety. Jesus says in John 10:16, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

We have been given a great assignment (Matthew 28:18-20), to bring to safety, to bring into the sheep fold of the Great Shepherd Jesus, all those who would hear and respond to His voice. For the brothers of Joseph there would be no rest, no retirement, until the family was brought to safety. How can we rest when those around us, meant to be included in the safety of the family of God are dying and going out into eternity without Jesus?

“See that you fall not out by the way.”

When the Spirit Speaks

By Ed Wrather

11.17.22

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.” – Acts 16:6-9 NKJV.

You’ve most likely experienced it. You wanted to do something with all your heart. You just knew this was what you should do but the door was shut, and God just kept saying “No.” The apostle Paul experienced the same thing. It was not for a lack of his praying, or for a lack of his spirituality. It was simply not God’s will for Paul at that point. It may have been that God was protecting Paul from something.

Some of you are familiar with Henry Blackaby’s study course “Experiencing God.” While I was going through the Experiencing God course, many years ago now, I watched the video tapes made to go with the course (The first set of videos produced.). On the tapes at a seminar there was a man who was very upset. He very much wanted to be a missionary to Rwanda in Africa. But God had closed the door and sent him somewhere else. Since the videos were filmed, and by the time I watched the tape, I knew what the missionary did not know. If he had gone to Rwanda, he and his family most likely would have been killed in the blood bath that swept across that nation. 

David Crum, an evangelist I once heard, said he had a mission trip planned for Africa, but God sent him instead to Indonesia. It happens to many of our plans. We think we are going somewhere, or doing, what we should. But God stops us. Blocks our path. Before we become upset and angry with God let us remember God sees the road ahead. It may just be that God is loving us. It may just be that He is protecting us from some terrible thing. 

In the 23rd Psalm David says, You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.” God is going before us to prepare the table of life.

When the Spirit says, “No,” even though it is not what we planned for, or wanted, or dreamed – let us trust Him.

Wars and Storms

By Ed Wrather

11.16.22

But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon. – Acts 27:14 NKJV.

Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up. – Acts 27:20 NKJV.

Storms are a part of life here on planet earth. Some storms are physical; tornados, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes/cyclones. We live in a terribly violent world. There is storm of war now which has come upon the Ukrainian people. We know of other storms which sometimes come. We’ve experienced the storm of the pandemic which has caused so much pain for so many people. We face the deaths of loved ones, job losses, accidents, diseases, soured friendships, and countless other emotional storms during a lifetime.

There are two ways to go through these storms. The first approach is the one of the centurions, the soldiers, and the sailors aboard the ship with the apostle Paul. What should have been a beautiful Mediterranean cruise had turned into a nightmare. The ship was blown around like an eggshell for two weeks. We cannot imagine the terror of it. For two weeks, knowing that at any time the ship could sink, and they would lose their lives. After two weeks they had no hope of surviving. all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.”

The first approach to the storms of life is the normal human response. However, we do not have to give up. There is another way to face these seemingly hopeless situations which roll unexpectedly into our lives. We look at the apostle Paul’s reactions. Paul apparently never experienced panic. Paul did not even worry! What did Paul have that kept him so steady in the midst of such a horrendous situation? Paul had anchors. Paul had anchors of faith that kept him from overturning in the rough sea of life. Paul’s response was: Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. (Acts 27:25).”

In the midst of the storms which have come upon us let us not forget to remember the things which He has told us. We have a Book full of His promises to us. Let us believe them!!

The Insanity of Sin

By Ed Wrather 

11.13.22

I will return again to My place
Till they acknowledge their offense.
Then they will seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. – Hosea 5:15 NKJV.

God says He is going to withdraw His presence from the people of Israel until they repent. There was a state of lawlessness among the people. You could call it spiritual insanity. They knew very well what they should and should not do but they were not obedient to God.

Spiritual insanity abounds on planet earth as we now near the end of the year 2022 in the twenty-first century. Think about it. Is it rational to ignore the will of Almighty God? Is it rational to insult the Creator of the Universe every time you have a chance? Drag shows in schools, in churches, obscene parades, every kind of evil running rampant across the United States and really across the entire world. Spiritual insanity abounds on planet earth, and it seems to be in every human heart including mine to some degree.

To engage in the spiritual insanity means for those who are without salvation that there will come a time of judgment. We are told in Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” For those who have salvation to engage in the spiritual insanity of sin means there will be broken fellowship, lost power, discipline and we will someday stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). For a nation it means that God may very well withdraw His protection. 

Hosea gives us the way to return to sanity in Hosea 6:1-3: 

Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.
 

To end the insanity, we must “… return to the Lord.”

The Signs of Life

By Ed Wrather

11.14.22

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. – 1 John 5:11 NKJV.

Today in western Oklahoma we have a snowstorm, and it is beautiful! Everything is coming to a temporary standstill with the snow covering everything, slowing traffic and everything else. Some years in our area we will not see any snow and especially not as much as we are seeing today. But already I am looking forward to Spring when we will see the signs of life bursting out all around us!

Jesus is the Prince of Life. If Jesus has hold of your life, there may come some rare snowstorms that slow things in your life but eventually life will come to every area of your life.

Life will come to your heart: We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. – 1 John 3:14 NKJV.

Life will come to your mind: And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. – John 14:3 NKJV.

Life will come to your hands: Not with eyeservice, 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. – Ephesians 6:6-7 NKJV.

Life will come to our feet: Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. – Galatians 5:1 NKJV.

Life will come to our use of material things: But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? – John 3:17 NKJV.

Are the signs of eternal life obvious in you? If not ask of God that the Prince of Life, the Son of God, would give you life and give it to you abundantly in every area of your life.

The Truth Will Make You Free!

By Ed Wrather 

11.11.22

The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips,
But the righteous will come through trouble. – Proverbs 12:13 NKJV.

How often do you lie? How often do I lie? Do we lie once a year? Do we lie once a month? Do we lie once a week? Do we lie once a day? Or, do we lie even more often than that? There was a study conducted by a psychologist at the University of Virginia about how often people lie. One hundred forty-seven volunteers over a one week period wrote down every falsehood they told. The result was that these people averaged one or two little lies a day.

Why did they lie? They lied to make themselves look smarter, kinder, or more fun loving. They also lied to give a little push to things to make them go their way. Strangers were lied to much more frequently than friends, family, and spouses. However, one in four of the biggest deceptions are about extramarital affairs. The researcher conducting the study, Dr. Bella DePaulo, said “It’s like we save our most hurtful lies for the people we care about most.”

Have you ever been caught in a lie? I have and it is painful for all concerned. Before I was a Christian, I had a major problem with lying. It seemed I lied to avoid responsibilities and problems. I even lied sometimes to avoid hurting other people. The truth does sometimes hurt but a lie hurts even more. A lie is especially harmful between husbands and wives and between parents and children.

There is something about telling the truth that is freeing. Isn’t that what the Bible says in John 8:32, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Do You Need a Savior?

By Ed Wrather

11.10.22

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. – 1 John 1:8 NKJV.

In order for a person to be forgiven they must first believe they need forgiveness. Who is it that needs forgiveness? All of us. At least that is what the Bible says in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” During Vacation Bible School there is usually an opportunity for me as a pastor to speak to the children (Usually third grade and older.) about their need for salvation. Most children have never committed any horrendous sin. So, I try to help them to understand sin and that even at their young age they are in need of a Savior.

I usually begin by telling the story of how when I was a young boy about five years old, I stole a little green knife at a store. It would only have cost five cents, but I knew my Mother wouldn’t buy it for me and I stole it. Later I felt bad about it, but I didn’t know what to do about it. If only someone would have told me about Jesus.

After telling the story I then ask if they have ever stolen anything. I ask that everyone that has done that to hold up their hands including the adults that are present.

Invariably the majority of those present will hold up their hands that they have stolen something in the past. I then ask other questions such as: “Have any of you ever disobeyed your parents?” “Have you ever told a lie?” “Have you ever cheated on your school work?” I continue until everyone has raised their hands at least once and then explain that God calls doing those things “sin.” 

The bad news is found in Romans 6:23a: “…the wages of sin are death….” The good news immediately follows in the last part of Romans 6:23b: “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The apostle John after stating that “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves…” immediately he gives us the good news as well. John says 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.”

Have you sinned? The Good News is we have a Savior, and His Name is Jesus Christ!

Don’t Let the Pride Get in Your Eyes

By Ed Wrather 

November 9, 2022

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for

“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. – 1 Peter 5:5-6 NKJV.

In 1973 we moved our mobile home from Oklahoma City to my parent’s farm. I had graduated from college at midterm and found a sales job with a automotive parts distributorship. All went well until the oil shortage. Gas prices went up and as cars were driven less, fewer parts wore out. I was laid off in December 1973 about Christmas time. In a few weeks I went to work for another parts company, but this lasted only a couple of months. Jeanie went back to work, and I was home taking care of our one-year-old son.

It was a frustrating time of being without work. I began to read through the New Testament and for the first time read completely through it. I decided I would go back to Oklahoma City. Go to law school. Live with my sister until I could afford to move my family back. The night before I was leaving my father-in-law called to offer me a job at the cotton gin where he was the manager. This would not be a white-collar job. It would be a minimum wage hard work kind of job. I didn’t want to do it. After all I had a college degree. But then I had been reading God’s Word and God spoke to me about my pride.

I went to work with my father-in-law, Leon Pruet. It was one of the best decisions of my life. We tore out old machinery and installed new machinery through the summer. In the Fall, I stayed on for the ginning season and worked on the press where the cotton is compressed into bails. I gained a different kind of education and gained a deep respect for the godly life my father-in-law led. Pride almost robbed me of one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Don’t let pride rob you of life!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

06.23.22

Finishing WellI

It was almost 25 years ago when I received a phone call from one of the leaders of the church where I was the pastor. He wanted to come to my house and visit with me about something. Shortly afterwards he did come and confessed to me that he had committed what you would consider a terrible sin. This sin had significant consequences for all involved.

I prayed with the man and shared 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." I gave him a book which I had just bought "Finishing Strong" by Steve Farrar. I had only read about half of the book but knew it was what this man needed to hear. As far as I know, this man lived out the rest of his life in faithful obedience to the Lord.

There are so many people in the Bible that lived out their lives totally committed to God to the very end. However, at least one along the way had a side excursion, King David. David committed adultery and murder, but when confronted by the prophet Nathan he repented.

We have King David's prayer of repentance in Psalm 51:

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 (Psalm 51:1-3 NKJV).

Too many of us have begun our race of life well but as time goes on our passion for the Lord decreases. King Saul began well, but he appears not to have had the same heart for the Lord as did David. Acts 13:22, "And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'"

In 1 Samuel 13 we are told of how Israel was preparing to attack the Philistines. Prior to the attack an offering to the Lord needed to be made, but Samuel had not yet come to make the offering. Tired of waiting Saul made the offering himself and this is what we are told in 1 Samuel 13: "And Samuel said to Saul, 'You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.'"

We have David's prayer of repentance, but where is the prayer of repentance of King Saul? David more than once repented when He knew that he had failed the Lord, and this appears to be the character that results in a man or woman after God's own heart. In Proverbs 24:16 we are told, "For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity." If you want to be a man or woman of God, when you fail, follow the example of King David. Confess your failure and rise up to again follow the Lord.

Of course, we do not want to finish our lives in failure, and we do not want to have any sinful side excursions either. So how do we stay strong in our faith? We must continue to take advantage of the resources of God:

Prayer: Jesus says men "ought to always pray and not to lose heart." - Luke 18:1.

The Word of God: Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."

Church: 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."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

06.02.22

In the Center

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

"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.

When I was 15 1/2years old in Oklahoma at that time you were eligible to obtain a Learner's Permit to drive a vehicle with a licensed driver. We lived on a blacktop road that was in poor condition. A half mile south of our house the blacktop ended, and it was a dirt road.

My first time to drive with my Dad was in his new pickup. Since I wanted to be driving so it would be easy for another vehicle to pass on the left, I started off driving as close to the right edge of the road as possible. There was a problem with that though because the farther from the center of the road you went, the worse the road became. My Dad then gave me some words of wisdom about driving in the center and missing all of the bumps.

Matthew 6:33 tells us how to be in the center of God's will and when we do "seek first the kingdom of God" and are in the center of His will "all these things shall be added to you." What are "all these things"? We are told in the preceding verses and in 6:31 are told: "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'" Living the Christian life is much like driving on an old beat-up blacktop road. The closer you are to the center, the center of His will, the fewer of the bumps and potholes that you will encounter. No, you will never be free of problems, but you will stop hitting the potholes of sin, and the potholes of worries.

To "seek first the kingdom of God" it will be necessary to read, study and meditate on the Word of God as Jesus says in Matthew 4:4. The Bible is the compass for our lives and the more of it we have in our lives the closer we will become to the center of His will.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.11.22

Be Still

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. - Psalm 46:1-2 NKJV.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
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 46:8-11 NKJV.

Livae Nanjikana and Junior Qoloni of the Solomon Islands planned to make a trip about 129 miles south along the coastlines of a couple of islands as their guide. They were in a small boat with only a small motor, but they had made the trip before and thought it would be safe enough.

Not long into their trip they ran into blinding rain which made it where they could not see the islands that they were following. Then, their GPS went out. They survived on just the little bit of food they had brought with them and rainwater. They drifted 250 miles north instead of south, ending up being rescued near Papua New Guinea.

Nanjikana said about their misadventure, "I had no idea what was going on while I was out there. I didn't hear about Covid or anything else. I look forward to going back home but I guess it was a nice break from everything." (Thanks to "The Guardian" for this great story; also, MSN 10.11.21; Sibconline 10.06.21)

As I look out my window this morning all is white as we have had a little snowstorm. All the imperfections are gone, all is pure as God has sent this snow upon us. It may be the last one before the spring rains and storms come. But wouldn’t it be nice if God could paint the whole world in a white splash of purity wiping out all of the ugliness that is so obvious in these days. It would be beyond wonderful if God could make the whole world, "white as snow (Isaiah 1:18)."

In their unintended adventure the two Solomon islanders found a little of a separate world, a godly world, emptied of fear of covid or any news of war. I do not know if these men know the Lord as their Savior, but I pray that they do. As I was reading a commentary about this verse this morning it said, "The way to know God is to be still, and the way to be still is to know God."

On a plane coming back home from Hawaii 27 years ago I was sitting next to a young woman from the Solomon Islands. She was going back to college in Enid, Oklahoma. She shared with me that she had been a party animal until she has received Jesus as her Savior. She said that there had been a move of God on the islands and one of the men responded to God's call and came to the United States to reach the islanders here. He first went to the college at Enid, and many were saved and then some from that college went out to other colleges to reach more of the islanders. God can change your life if you will let Him, I know that He has changed mine!

As verse 1 of Psalm 46 says, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." This is where we will find our safety, not in governments; and nations will not find their safety in alliances either. The best place of safety whether for a person or a country is in the hands of God, trusting in Him. The Psalmist had experienced this for himself and for his nation and knew it to be true.

Let us dig deep into the great riches of God through His Word, through prayer, through fellowship with other believers, and through serving those who are hurting. As we do, we will discover the stillness of a refuge that takes us beyond the troubles of this world.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.10.22

Whatever Happens

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. - Philippians 1:27-28 NKJV.

The NIV puts Philippians 1:27-28 as: "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved - and that by God."

The letter to the Philippians was written by the apostle Paul while he was under house arrest for two years in Rome. Paul is wanting those believers in Philippi to be faithful in living according to Christian principles whether he could visit them again or not. Being a Christian and practicing their faith in a city that worshiped Caesar and several other false deities was difficult. Paul says to them, and I believe to us "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ...."

In Ukraine, believers are facing horrific situations where simply surviving to live another day is difficult. Yesterday, the Russians targeted a maternity hospital, one of 18 hospitals they have attacked since the war began. The Russians agree to a ceasefire and to an evacuation route and then they bomb or shoot those trying to evacuate. This is what the Nazis did during WWII.

As I shared on Facebook, my wife's aunt Blondine Pruet (Married Jeanie's uncle who was in the US Army.) told her about when she, her mother and sister were trying to leave Belgium for a safer place in France. The Nazis announced a safe evacuation route for civilians and then the Nazis bombed and strafed them. Blondine was shot in her foot and eventually made it to a hospital in France. Her mother was shot in her stomach and taken to hospital in Belgium. They never saw her sister again. It took months, but Blondine and her mother were finally reunited by the Red Cross.

Putin and his army are just as bad as Hitler and the Nazis! Putin claims they are denazifying Ukraine when the reality is that the Russians are the ones acting like Nazis. For the Ukrainian's "conduct (to) be worthy of the gospel of Christ" must be challenging.

The NIV begins Philippians 1:27 as: "Whatever happens" and Paul is talking about whatever happens to him, but he is saying the same as to how the Philippians are to live their lives. "Whatever happens" they are to let their "conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ...." The apostle has an additional word for the Philippians believers, and I believe for those in Ukraine today, that they should live as God wants them to live "without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved - and that by God."

The fact of the situation in our world today and in your world today is that we do not know what is going to happen today, much less tomorrow. Only the Lord knows. So, let us determine now that "whatever happens" that we are going to live as God would want us to live regardless of the good or bad that comes into our lives.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.09.22

Comfortable People

Now in my prosperity I said,
"I shall never be moved."
LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong;
You hid Your face, and I was troubled.
I cried out to You, O LORD;
And to the LORD I made supplication:
“What profit is there in my blood,
When I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You?
Will it declare Your truth?
Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me;
LORD, be my helper!” - Psalm 30:6-10 NKJV.

We have to admit in the western world that we are comfortable people in many ways. We are free for the most part to move around as we like, to work where we want, and to live where we want. For the most part we have been free from the fear of rogue nations suddenly disrupting our lives. Ukraine, however, has shattered our illusions of safety and is putting our comfortable lives at risk.

Today we hear of cities in Ukraine being under siege with water, food, and power cut off during wintertime. Russian forces continue to shell civilians, including hospitals. Power has been cut off to Chernobyl which if it continues for a lengthy period could result in the airborne release of nuclear material. There are several nuclear power plants in Ukraine that could be at a similar risk. In addition, there are about two million refugees with millions more expected who also need help. May our God help the people of Ukraine!

In these verses in Psalm 30 there is described three states or situations for us humans. The first situation is that of all of us comfortable people described as the Psalmist says, "Now in my prosperity I said, 'I shall never be moved.'" We have been under the illusion that our comfortable situation in life will continue forever, but that illusion has been shattered. The Psalmist had experienced this in his life and in this situation many rarely if ever think of God or of their need for God.

The second situation the Psalmist describes is when he says, "You hid Your face, and I was troubled." That is occurring in the lives of far too many in these days. It is so easy for our earthly things that we trust and value to suddenly disappear. The question at this point is what will we do spiritually. Will we begin to think of God? Will we let God into our lives? Of even greater loss than material things and a comfortable life is of our future with God in Heaven. Will we remember God?

Here we come to the third situation the Psalmist describes as he does turn to God, "I cried out to You, O LORD...." "Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper!"

This is a critical time spiritually in the lives of countless people across this world. Will they turn to God? Will you turn to God if you have never received Jesus as your personal Savior? Let us pray for the millions that are at the point of making that eternal life and death decision.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.08.22

Freaking Out!

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 2:5 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.

On the same day that Putin launched Russia's murderous invasion of Ukraine it caused some people to "freak out" across the world. I cannot imagine the horror that the people of Ukraine experienced on that day and are still experiencing. It is beyond maddening what is happening in Ukraine! So, today in one Ukrainian city because of the Russian shelling they are unable to collect the bodies from the street and dogs are tearing apart the bodies. Russians are killing civilians including women and children reducing cities to what looks like a tornado hit their homes!

In Flagler County Florida on the day that Putin invaded Ukraine a deputy observed a man run a stop sign and he was speeding 50 mph in a 30 mph zone. The man had several excuses for why he ran the stop sign and was speeding. However, he finally told the officer the truth, "I just found out that Putin said he's going to launch a thermal nuclear war against the world and I was trying to get back to my house to find out what is going on. I'm freaking out." (TitlePress 03.03.22; fox35orlando 03.04.22; FoxNews03.03.22.)

Personally, I do not believe that even Putin is crazy enough to fire off a nuke. Even if it was a very limited attack using a nuclear weapon it would bring a severe response. Putin is a bully and bullies love to threaten and bluster. He also said that if you impose any sanctions on Russia it would be an act of war. So far Putin has not launched any attacks on western nations for imposing sanctions. For those of us outside of Ukraine we need to view what is happening with horror, but with resoluteness that we will oppose this evil in whatever way that we can.

How do you cope with situations like this that cause you to want to "freak out?" If you know Jesus as your Savior, remember that you belong to Him. Jesus has you in His hand and the Father's hand as we are told in John 10:27-30, "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." We are secure in Jesus, and we need to consider how He would react to situations like what we are seeing today. As the apostle Paul says we need to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5), thinking as Jesus would think.

Although, most of us are unable to go to Ukraine and fight the Russian invaders we do have another option. We can fight them with prayer and at the same time experience the peace that transcends, passeth understanding, replacing fear with a supernatural peace. "...in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.07.22

Mistakes

Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. - Psalm 19:12-14 NKJV.

American Airlines Flight 4817 was forced to make an emergency landing in New York City's LaGuardia airport at about 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. An alert woman passenger noticed a fellow passenger scrolling through photos and videos of some type of a device. He then pulled out an odd-looking device and appeared to be setting a timer. The alert passenger alerted a flight attendant to the possibility of a bomb being onboard and the pilot decided to make the emergency landing.

The bomber was escorted off the plane, placed face down on the tarmac, searched, and then interrogated for several hours until the truth was revealed. The truth was the man was an antique camera enthusiast! On the plane he had been looking at videos and photos of antique cameras and when his luggage was searched, they found... antique cameras! I don't know what happened at that point. Did they offer the man an apology? Did the airline reimburse him somehow? What happened with the woman who reported the man to the flight attendant? (PetaPixel 10.11.21; MSM 10.11.21; Inside Edition 10.11.21)

We all make sinful mistakes (Romans 3:23), and we also make unintentional mistakes like the woman who reported the antique camera enthusiast as being a bomb maker. Then there are mistakes and sins that we are unaware that we are committing. I certainly have made my share of mistakes and likely many that I am not even aware that I have committed. While I was a parole officer, I once raided a client's home and seized a plant that I believed was a marijuana plant. It certainly looked like a marijuana plant, but it wasn't. Embarrassing! And I did apologize.

Another mistake that I remember well during that time in my life was when visiting a young woman with a baby that had just been placed on my caseload. It appeared that the baby had been abused with bruises all over its body. I contacted the Department of Human Services and took a social worker experienced with these situations back to the woman's home. We thought the baby would have to be taken into DHS custody. However, I was mistaken as what appeared to be bruises was an unfortunate congenital condition. Embarrassing! And I did apologize.

Governments can also make mistakes. It looks like a horrific mistake that Putin has made invading a peaceful country. It looks like the United States and European countries have made a mistake depending upon Russia for oil and natural gas.

The United States has enough oil and natural gas for more than a hundred years. However, it looks like the government of the United States has made a mistake in imposing so many regulations that this country is no longer energy independent and unable to export natural gas to Europe which now needs it to replace Russian gas.

Almost unbelievable is the mistake the United States is making in continuing to buy Russian oil which results in funding the Russian attack on Ukraine. Will these governments admit their mistakes? Possibly, but it is taking far too much time for them to decide to do that and change course while innocent civilians are being murdered by the Russians. But, I digress.

King David says, "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults." David is talking about those errors, mistakes, sins that we commit unknowingly. David wants to stand before his God without fault because he is the man after God's own heart. David knows that God knows everything and sees everything in his life and our lives.

I like the way that the Message puts this verse: "There's more: God's Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool? Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin. These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.04.22

When You Fail

For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity. - Proverbs 24:16 NKJV.

The NIRV (The New International Reader's Version) puts this as: "Even if godly people fall down seven times, they always get up. But those who are evil trip and fall when trouble comes."

While I was a probation and parole officer I conducted and wrote many pre-sentence investigations of people who had been convicted of a crime or crimes. This was usually performed prior to the sentence or penalty for their crime being given. I have interviewed murderers and murderer accomplices, armed robbers, burglars, embezzlers, alcohol and drug related offenders and probably more that I don't remember. It was not always a pleasant task talking with them and their victims, along with digging into their life histories with every tool available.

I want to mention this because by committing a crime or crimes they were societal failures. Most of those that I interviewed you would consider to be broken people. Their spirits had been broken, and many had little hope left for anything good in their lives. After they were sentenced by the court, I would have the ones not going to prison under supervision. While investigating them, and during the intake process I always tried to determine their spiritual condition. Those with a relationship with God were always more successful in completing supervision and restarting their lives.

Too many times I have seen people who have committed a moral failure in some way and are unable to face the consequences of it commit suicide. I do not remember any of my clients doing that and there is a reason for that. The reason is that all of them had reached a point where they had realized what the worst thing would be as a consequence of their actions and had decided that they could live with those consequences.

There are so many things that can happen in our lives that sometimes make it hard for us to keep living. I believe that decision to live is always easier to make when we have a relationship with the Lord. Not all of those heart-rending things are the result of a crime or necessarily even a sin. Early in my marriage I was laid off from three jobs in a period of about a year. It was difficult to go home and share that with my wife even though she always supported me.

After the last one of those three job layoffs, I was without work for several months while my wife began to work again. We were living in a mobile home on my parent's farm and our oldest son was still a baby. I was emotionally depressed and that is something that my Mother had been hospitalized several times for while I was in high school and later my sister was also hospitalized for depression.

During that difficult emotional time for me I read through the New Testament for the first time and God gave me strength. God gave me the strength to continue on with life and to make the right decisions of what to do from that point.

I have done some things in my life that I am not proud of, you could call them sins. How many have I committed, I have no idea. However, I know what to do in order to rise up again. I fall upon the mercy of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:9 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."

No matter how bad the situation may be in your life, no matter what your failure may be, God can give you the strength to go on, to continue to live and to live life well. Please allow God the opportunity to do that for you!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.03.22

The End of the World

Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. - Genesis 6:8 NKJV.

When will the end of the world occur? For many Ukrainians the end of the world is already upon them. For a couple of thousand Ukrainians, they have already left this world for the next because of the Russian onslaught targeting civilians. Genocide does appear to be what is currently ongoing in Ukraine.

The end of the world scenarios are of a couple of types. One is from the actions of human beings. A full-blown nuclear exchange would probably make it happen. Of course, the madman Putin has indicated the possible use of nukes. I think he might use tactical nukes, but is even he crazy enough to fire off a nuke at the United States or other western countries that have nuclear capability? I doubt it, but only God knows.

The second end of the world scenario will come from God Himself, and it is described in detail in the Biblical book of Revelation. The question is what will trigger the return of Jesus in the sky rapturing believers to go with Him to Heaven and the beginning of the Tribulation?

The end of the world has occurred once before in the past and we have a record of the causal reason for it. Here is what we are told in Genesis 6:6-8, "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." I do not think that it is quite that bad on Planet Earth right now, but if we are honest with ourselves, we know it is getting closer.

There is one thing that we do see in this Biblical record that is encouraging for those of us who believe there will be a rapture - a rapture where believers will be taken from this world prior to the horrific Tribulation. What we see here is that God did protect and safeguard the only people on earth at that time who were not wicked evil people. "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."

Who are the people on this earth today who are similar to Noah and His family? Believers! Those who have believed upon Jesus Christ and been "born again - John 3:16)." Who are those today like those who perished in the Noahic flood? All those who do not know Jesus as their Savior. As we are told in Romans 3:23, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." And we are told this in James 2:10, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all."

All of us would perish if not for God's gift. What is God's gift? Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came down from the glories of Heaven to walk upon this earth for some 30 years. Jesus who was tempted at all points without sin so He could become the perfect once for all sacrifice for all sins past, present, and future for those that believe upon Him. Receive the gift! "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.02.22

A Sudden Change

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. - 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NKJV.

For those of us who were not alive during Hitler's blitzkrieg and reign of terror we are now seeing an example of it with Ukraine. Peaceful people going about their lives without a threat to any other nation suddenly having their lives upheaved with numbers approaching a million now fleeing for their lives. Others have taken up arms and are now facing life and death situations that they never thought they would face. To those of us looking on from outside it is shocking and horrifying to see that such a thing is even possible in the time in which we live.

A shocking and sudden change has happened in Ukraine. In some ways it will be like that for those who are left here on earth when the rapture occurs. Those who are left behind and who refuse the "mark of the beast (Revelation 13:17)" will at times find their lives at risk. Those without having the "mark of the beast" will be unable to buy or sell. In Revelation 13:16-18 we are told, "He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." All of those refusing the "mark" will be likely hunted and put to death if they are found.

The truth is that not everyone believes there will be a "rapture" prior to the seven years of tribulation. Also, the word "rapture" is not in the Bible. However, for many of us it is clear that Bible speaks of the "rapture," which will be a time when Jesus will return as He promised in John 14:1-3, "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."

How can we miss that horrific time the Bible calls the "tribulation" in Revelation 7:14? Jesus tells His disciples and us how to miss out on that horrific "great tribulation" in John 14:5-6 as Jesus responds to the question of Thomas one of the disciples, "Thomas said to Him, 'Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?' Jesus said to him, '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 way is through placing our belief and trust in Jesus Christ. We must believe in Him as we are told in John 3:16. Jesus offers the great invitation in 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."

How do you respond to that invitation? You respond through prayer which is simply talking to Jesus. You ask Jesus for forgiveness of your sins, the bad things you have done and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. It is not so much the words that you say, but whether you mean it in your heart.

Seeing all of the death and destruction in Ukraine along with the pandemic it does make us think that the "rapture" could come at any time. Jesus says in Matthew 24:36, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." One thing I do know is that I do not want to be here on this earth during the "tribulation" and neither do you.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.01.22

Playing with Fire

Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.

Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled -
This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment. - Isaiah 50:10-11 NKJV.

The Message puts Isaiah 50:11 as: "But if all you're after is making trouble, playing with fire, Go ahead and see where it gets you. Set your fires, stir people up, blow on the flames, but don't expect me to just stand there and watch. I'll hold your feet to those flames."

On a Sunday afternoon in Provo, Utah a science experiment went wrong. A student says he was just attempting to make some rocket fuel on his stove when it blew up. The massive fireball that resulted caused 22 residents of the apartment building to be evacuated. Thankfully, the student and other residents did not suffer any injuries. Why was the student wanting to make rocket fuel? Did he have a rocket he needed fuel for? No one knows and so far, he has not been charged criminally although it has been referred to a prosecuting attorney. At least he wasn't trying to build his own nuclear reactor in his apartment as one man in Scandinavia once tried to do. (USA Today 02.22.22; New York Post 02.21.22)

Isaiah 50:10-11 sets before us a choice in life. The choice is that of believing there is a God having reverence for Him or to seek our pleasures from the world "playing with fire" as the Message puts it. There is no question that temporary comfort can be derived from worldly pleasure just as in the days of Isaiah standing near a fire could give you relief from the cold. It is a temporary relief from the pains of life.

Sadly, there are those who choose to play with fire, to enjoy wicked pleasures and ignore the will of God. There are those who value money above anything that God has to offer. There are those who hate any thought of God and attack anyone who reverences Him. On two of the Facebook pages that I have there are always those who feel the need to mock God.

In a category almost of their own are the murderous dictators like Putin, Hitler, Pol Pot and all the rest down to the Roman Caesars, Egyptian pharaohs and more. It seems like civilization has always been plagued by these evil people who insist on "playing with fire." They have and are committing their evil deeds as it were standing over the open pit of the fires of hell where some already are and soon Putin will be too. As Isaiah says about them, "You shall lie down in torment."

What are we to do when we are faced with the evil deeds of these people? Isaiah tells us, "Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.28.22

The Lord Never Panics!

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.

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. - Isaiah 40:31 NKJV.

I have never been on the battlefield as a soldier, but I have been on the battlefield of life. Working in the oilfield facing difficult situations I knew where to turn when the situation looked impossible. I turned to the Lord. In my inspection unit cab, I kept a plaque which said, "The Lord Never Panics!" The Lord never failed to deliver me!

In 1982, when the oilfield suddenly died with businesses going bankrupt, and my own little oilfield inspection business, no longer had any business, I knew where to turn! I turned to God to lead me through another difficult time in my life. The Lord did not fail me!

As a parole officer walking into many dangerous situations my prayer every day was for God's protection and the Lord did not fail me!

As a pastor, during times of stress because of ministering to hurting people, I have often cried out to the Lord for help. I needed help to give comfort and peace to those who had such emotional pain. The Lord has never failed me!

The world is in such turmoil today as we have had two years of the pandemic, and now there is a war that threatens to spread far beyond Ukraine. During this stressful time the temptation is for us to seek help, to seek safety from others and from other things and to leave God out of the equation.

These two verses in Isaiah are a reminder of our need for God. God has the power to hold you together during the most difficult of times. He has the power to change the impossible into the possible. He has the power to heal, to protect, and to renew your strength.

F. B. Meyer in his commentary says this about these verses (and I have updated the language):

"Now, troubled soul, look unto these words. They are spoken by one who cannot lie, and spoken for you. They are as much meant for you as though they had never been claimed by another; and God is prepared to fulfill them in your life to the brim. He is with you at this moment, while you are pondering these words. He is your God, and will never act unworthily of your trust.

Where you are weakest and most easily overcome, He will strengthen you. Where you need help, He will give His, so that your difficult task shall be easily mastered. And when you are too weary to walk; when no more strength remains in you; where you are sinking on the battlefield or the steep hill - He will uphold you. Do you doubt? Behold at his right hand, Jesus sits, your Lover and Savior."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.25.22

Words

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

The NIV puts this as: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

The Message has it as: Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

In Freeport, Pennsylvania with a population of 1,700 they were finally able to hire a new police chief. The person hired was the only one who applied for the position. His first duties were to hire two police officers. Apparently, the entire force had left for some reason prior to this. The next morning after the new police chief was hired, they found a handwritten letter along with keys stating his resignation. It is not clear as to the reasons for the resignation.

I had a friend who was the pastor of a nearby church many years ago. It was his first pastorate. The people arrived for worship one Sunday to find a note on the pulpit simply stating that he quit. I am not sure what has happened to him.

At a church I was at some years ago I was told about a previous pastor who announced in an evening service that he was leaving. The next morning, he had rented a U-Haul truck and was loading up everything out of the parsonage.

In the oilfield in the 1970s it was a frequent occurrence to hear of an entire drilling crew or sometimes just an individual walking off from the job. It was said that they had "twisted off." Personally, I have only "twisted off" from a job one time and that was while I was in the oilfield. It was not on a drilling rig location, but prior to leaving to take an inspection unit to a rig.

A new salesman cussed me out in front of my crew, why? I didn't know at the time except that I thought that they wanted me to leave for some reason. So, I left. I was 30 years old at the time. I borrowed some money with my Dad's help and started my own company.

The truth is that you can push people too far and they may "twist off" or worse. In my situation I believe God used it for good to eventually lead me in another direction with my life.

In every area of interpersonal relations our words matter. As the Message indicates, as it translates Ephesians 4:29, words can be a gift. It is also clear that words can be a curse.

Words are especially important between parents and children and in Ephesians 6:4 we are told "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." I do regret some of the words that I have said to my sons and if I could take those words back and replace them with kinder gentler words I would. But that is the thing with words, once said, they have been said and there is no way to unsay them. However, we can apologize. We can ask for forgiveness. We can pray and ask for help to do better in the future.

Before you say the words that will push someone off of a figurative cliff, see if there might be a better choice of words. Because words can be a gift, and they can be a curse.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.24.22

Welcome to the War

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. – Ephesians 6:10-12 NKJV.

A man tells the story about his father who shipped out for boot camp on the day after Christmas 1943. By early June, when the allied forces were storming the bloody beaches of Normandy, his dad was on a troop ship crossing the Atlantic. He landed on Omaha beach the first week of July 1944. He was only 21 years old and fresh off the farm. He says what he remembers most about his first days in northern France were seeing the casualties of terrifying engagements on the beaches, in the pillboxes and in the hedgerows. He became a casualty himself just a few days later.

I had an older friend, who is gone now, whose story was similar, he went ashore on D-Day. He survived that, but then was captured by German forces, and he was fortunate that they didn't kill him as they did many captives. A video of a young Ukrainian soldier this morning shows him saying, "We are under heavy bombardment, Mom...Dad I love you!" Welcome to the war, young man. In a sense, that is what this passage of Scripture is, it is a welcome to spiritual warfare, a briefing on the battle that has been raging since the beginning of time.

We can bring all of our troops home from everywhere. We can let Russia and China divide up the rest of the world. But you know what? They will still not like us. They will still come after us. The Nazis and the old Soviets would have gotten us if they could have.

What we are really talking about here is not physical, opposing armies and nations. The war that we are seeing today and our potential for becoming more involved is an age-old spiritual war. The devil is that kind of enemy. We may decide that we are not going to fight but guess what the enemy has not declared a truce and we are in this spiritual war whether we like it or not.

1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." If you are seeking to live your life according to godly principles. If you are seeking to be obedient to the Lord in all areas of your life. If you are praying for yourself, your family and for others. If you are, you can be sure the devil and his demons are after you.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.23.22

Having a Dumb Attack

And David's heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, "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.

Ever since the trucker convoy and protest in Ottawa, Canada many have tried to support the truckers. After emergencies powers were granted to the Canadian government resulting in the trucks and protestors being cleared out, the anger about the situation has grown.

One of those people upset about the situation was a 20-year-old man living in Akron, Ohio. The unidentified man decided to strike back and called in a bomb threat to Ottawa. There was a problem, however, since he called law enforcement in Ottawa, Ohio and not Ottawa, Canada. He has been arrested with pending charges. Capt. Brad Brubaker of the Putnam County Ohio Sheriff's Office made this statement about the cause of the 20-year-old's actions and said that the man was suffering from a "20-year-old dumb attack." (Lima Ohio dot com 02.10.22; Daily Mail 02.23.22)

I don't know if you have ever had a "dumb attack" but many of us have. Humans have been afflicted with this malady of having "dumb attacks" ever since the Garden of Eden.

Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the tree that God had specifically told them not to eat - it was a dumb attack.

Cain killing his brother in a fit of jealousy - it was a dumb attack.

Some of the Hebrews rising up against the God given authority of Moses - it was a dumb attack.

King Saul deciding to make the holy offering himself and not to wait for the prophet - it was a dumb attack and cost him the kingdom.

Jonah heading the opposite direction instead of going to witness to the wicked Ninevites - it was a dumb attack and Jonah can tell you it was really dark in the belly of a big fish! Probably smelly too....

Ananias and Sapphira lying to the apostles about the amount of money they received from the sale of property - it was a dumb attack, and they went directly from this earth to Heaven above as they were struck dead on the spot.

King David who had more than one "dumb attack" but was still a man after God's own heart shows us what to do if we do have one of those attacks. What do you do? You fall to your knees and confess to God that what you did was dumb, stupid, foolish and ask His forgiveness. It worked for David, and if we are serious about it the Lord will forgive us too.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.22.22

God's Kingdom is Coming!

Daniel's description of the king of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar's dream:

You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image's head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. - Daniel 2:31-35 NKJV. Daniel states to King Nebuchadnezzar the details of the dream he appears to have forgotten. Then, Daniel proceeds to give an interpretation of the dream. The image seen in the dream pictures the current kingdom and three coming kingdoms with historical accuracy.

Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom represented by Gold.

Medo-Persian kingdom represented by silver.

Greece represented by bronze.

Rome represented by Iron.

The Roman Empire's armies have been described by historians as iron legions as they crushed all those who opposed them. The Roman Empire in the western world was the longest lasting empire.

Commentators believe that iron also represents the tribulation empire since the empire during the tribulation will have similar characteristics as the Roman Empire.

Now seen on the world stage are the Russian army's hundreds of tanks preparing to roll across Ukraine. Will they be the instrument through which the tribulation empire is eventually established after the rapture?

The good news is that Daniel's interpretation foresees the destruction of the tribulation kingdom by the "stone", or you could say "rock." This "stone" is Jesus Christ, and at the end of the seven years of the Tribulation, He will win victory at Armageddon establishing the forever kingdom of God.

Daniel 2:44-45: And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold - the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure."

Matthew 6:10, "Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.21.22

Within and Without

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside (them that are without - old KJV), redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. - Colossians 4:5 NKJV.

It is clear that the apostle Paul is speaking in these verses about those who are outside or without a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Why are there those who do not know Jesus as their Savior? Some have still not heard the truth about eternal life that Jesus is, as Jesus Himself says in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." That is at least one reason for us to be sure that anything that we say in the presence of unbelievers should be of a nature that is beneficial to their turning to Christ. That is why Paul adds, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt...." As Ephesians 4:29 says, and I like the way the NIV puts this, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

Another reason that there are still those who are outside or without a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is they do not find what Jesus has to offer attractive. To them the offerings of the world are far more attractive and is what they desire to seek.

Once after sharing my testimony with a young couple, they rejected Christ. The reason they gave was that they would have to give up dancing because the church they would attend did not believe you should dance. (Although, I don't remember "Thou shalt not dance" as being one of the Ten Commandments, but of course, dancing with someone other than your husband or your wife in an immoral way would be sinful.) Dancing was far more important to them than what Jesus was offering. I pray that at some point in time in the 30 something years since, that they have come to know Jesus as their Savior.

Some people reject Jesus because they find alcohol or drugs or sex outside of marriage more attractive than Jesus. Some people are too busy making money to be bothered with the distraction of putting their faith in Jesus. The world has a whole arsenal of attractions that many consider to be better options than living a life for Jesus.

Another reason that I have encountered for rejection of Jesus is that they could never be good enough to be saved. Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us that this is not true, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Yes, as Romans 3:23 tells us "we all have sinned" and fall short of the perfection of God.

The truth is that if we had to be sinless in order to be saved, none would be saved. Only Jesus has lived a sinless life as Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." No, we just have to come as we are, sinful creatures, and fall upon the mercy of Jesus to forgive us of our sins. Jesus takes us just as we are and then begins to change and transform us to look more and more like Him (Romans 8:29).

If you are outside of faith in Jesus, meaning you have never prayed for Jesus to forgive you of your sins and be your Lord and Savior. God is calling you! As Jesus says in 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." Open up the door of your heart, pray and ask Jesus to come in; ask Him to forgive you of your sins, and be your Savior and Lord. I did exactly that nearly 52 years ago and I have never regretted the best decision I have ever made in my life! And you won't either!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.18.22

Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

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 NKJV.

Yesterday, in Oklahoma City there was a fire on a Putnam City School Bus with four children on board. Thankfully, the bus driver, Bob Olmstead, noticed the smoke coming from the battery compartment underneath his seat and was able to evacuate all of the students before the fire erupted. It could have been a very tragic situation, but Olmstead who had been driving school buses for 29 years knew what to do and all of the students were kept safe.

It reminded me of my short career of driving a school bus for Taft Junior High School in Oklahoma City when I was 21 years old. I had driven a school bus for our little rural school my senior year in high school and still had a commercial chauffer's license. Going to college and needing income from a part-time job I took the job and kept driving for a total of three months.

In 1971, I was driving a 66-passenger school bus taking kids home and one day I counted 110 kids that got onto the bus. I'm sure that wouldn't be allowed now! But it was a different time, and I had no choice but to drive off with the aisle filled with kids and kids standing all around me. At that time with a bus that long it was difficult to make some turns and one of those turns was at Pennsylvania Avenue and turning onto 10th street. That was when some boys in the back set some seats on fire, although it was mostly smoke, and I had to evacuate all of those kids off of the bus. The stuffing in the seats were of a fire retardant material which kept the bus from being engulfed in fire, but it did fill the bus with smoke.

As I said, it was a different time, so I kicked about six boys off the bus that I thought were involved (They only had a few blocks to walk.) I then reloaded the bus and continued the route taking kids home. I guess that some of the kids could have had some problems from the smoke inhalation, but they were tough, and were all back at school the next day.

When those boys started the fire, it was at exactly the worst place for them to do that, at the worst time, with heavy traffic and an overloaded bus. But isn't that the way it usually happens? Instead of things happening at the right place and the right time, too many times it is at the wrong place and the wrong time. Often, at the very worst possible time!

Jesus talked about a couple of those wrong place at the wrong time tragic occurrences in the Gospel of Luke. It does not sound like any of the Galileans that Pilate murdered had committed any crimes. No, they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time to be caught up in Pilate's murderous rage. At least that's what it sounds like. Then, Jesus gives another example of a tower suddenly falling down on 18 people striking them dead. Again, they were in the wrong place at the worst possible time. Well, Jesus seems to be saying that bad things just happen in this old world ever since all of creation was corrupted when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden.

We know bad things do happen, but what do we do about protecting ourselves from it? Jesus indicates that the primary thing that we ought to do is to make sure that we are in a right relationship with God. He says, "...unless you repent you will all likewise perish." If you don't know Jesus as your personal Savior, I plead with you to fall to your knees right now, confess your sins to the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to come into your life and save your soul!!

What else can we do to keep from being at the wrong place at the wrong time? Every day we should pray and ask God to protect us and to protect our family and friends. Every day we should ask God to lead us and guide us through each step of the way, because only God really knows where those Tower of Siloam's are located.

(If you were one of those students that were in the school bus that day when there was the fire while I was driving, please contact me. I would like to know what God has done in your life, because I've been praying for you!)

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.17.22

Right Place at the Right Time

For he says,
"In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you."
I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. - 2 Corinthians 6:2 NKJV.

Citrus County, Florida Sheriff's Office and marine units were in the right place at the right time for a pilot whose plane was sinking. The pilot had landed in the water and was seen crawling out of the plane and then standing on top of the sinking plane. Deputies were able to rescue the pilot. Thankfully, they were all in the right place at the right time. (ABC News 11.12.21; Florida News Times 11.12.21; and various other news venues.)

For that pilot in Florida, it was a time of "God's favor" with his surviving a forced landing in the ocean and with rescuers there in the right place ready to assist. Things like this simply do not "happen." If the pilot had not already been a believer, this event should have at least made him think about God.

I messaged back and forth last night with a person who lives in San Francisco. He had just followed me, and I had just followed back on one of the social media platforms. I rarely engage in messaging like that, but believed it was important last night. I was eventually able to turn the conversation to spiritual things and found that this person is from Macao, China and that his parents are Buddhists and that he is an atheist. He eventually said that we should take a little of the best of all religions and make one. I then shared with him that there is only one religion, Christianity, through which a person can have eternal life. 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." I gave him a link to my website and to my testimony.

Last night was a time of "God's favor" for that man. It was no accident that I was able to share with Him about Jesus and the way of salvation. That could have been "the day of salvation for him. I may never hear from him again, but at least He was able to receive a message of truth about God that I don't believe he had ever heard before.

Years ago, when I was working in the oilfield, I was called out at night to go to a drilling rig location where one of our inspection units was located. When I arrived there, I was told that it was at another location where I was needed and was given complicated instructions as to how to find it. It was still in the night when I finally found it out in the middle of nowhere. But it was at the right place and the right time for one man that I was able to share Jesus with that night.

If you are ever in the right place at the right time - it is likely a divine appointment. Don't miss it!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.16.22

Worldliness - Pt 2

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.

When the radio became readily available some Christians refused to listen to radios. When television became readily available many Christians refused to buy TVs and some that had them turned them off because of the programming. When the Internet became available many Christians refused to listen or watch anything on computers that was on the Internet. Now we all have cell phones that we carry around that are Internet capable with friends sending us cute little videos.

If you have a radio, TV, computer, and a cell phone it is easy to become very saturated with the world's messages. The truth is that it is harder now than ever before to protect ourselves spiritually from worldliness. We are bombarded with the world's messages and at times it seems they are coming from every direction.

How do we protect ourselves from worldliness? What we are really asking is how do we protect our hearts, guard our hearts from the evil of the world? Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." The NIV puts this as "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." How do we do this? Here are some suggestions:

1. We must be in a right relationship with our Lord. Romans 12:1 and 1 John 1:9 tells how to do that. Sometimes it is not enough to do this privately and we need to publicly rededicate, recommit our lives to the Lord.

2. We need to fill our hearts with so many good things (And Philippians 4:8 gives us a list.) that there isn't room for the world to takeover. Remember Matthew 4:4 where Jesus rebukes the devil while quoting the Old Testament, "It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Just as you have two or three meals a day you need the Word of God just as much. Your heart needs to be filled up with it.

3. Do not seek out or store up the world's messages in your heart or make them easily available to you. Romans 13:14 speaks of that, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." The NIV puts this as: "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh." So, do not provide or store up the world's filth and do not even think about it. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, be dead to sin and alive to Christ (Romans 6:11). Strive to have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthains 2:16) and reject the messages of the world. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Don't forget: 1 John 4:4, "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.15.22

Worldliness

For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. - 1 Thessalonians 4:7.

I have been reading a book by Vance Havner entitled, "Holy Desperation." As I was reading this morning, he shared about hearing Billy Graham make a confession about worldliness. Graham said, "I heard Kenneth Cansler preach the other day on worldliness, and I got under conviction, and I've got to do something about what he talked about. I find myself laughing at things on television that I wouldn't have laughed at ten years ago. And I've got to do something about it."

Havner says that he knew what Graham was talking about. Havner says he used to watch tennis tournaments on Sunday afternoons. He says, "You wouldn't go to hell for looking at things like that, but as I sat there one afternoon, a voice, not my own, said, 'You're preaching tonight to people who are standing between life and death, between heaven and hell, and there's a better way to get ready for it than what you're doing now.'" Havner says that was the end of watching tennis tournaments on Sunday afternoons.

Jim Elliott who died a martyr for the Lord Christ in South America once said, "A friend of mine invited me over to his house to watch television, and God spoke to me with Psalm 119:37, "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity." The NKJV puts this verse as: "Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way."

Who among us can say that we don't need to repent of looking at worthless things? I know that I do. I read what these godly men have said about worldliness and far too many of us, myself included, need to drop our heads in shame and ask the Lord to "revive me in Your way."

Quoting one of my own devotionals: Is your life covered in the slime of this world? If so, and you want to be cleansed 1 John 1:9 tells us how to be cleansed, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Then, turn off and turn down the world's immoral messages and instead fill your life with good things like God's Word; think about good things as we are told in Philippians 4:8; and fill your life up with, "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure...."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

01.24.22

The Right Path

God said this to Joshua just prior to the children of Israel entering the promised land:

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. - Joshua 1:7-8 NKJV.

The Message in part puts Joshua 1:7-8 as: Don't get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don't for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you'll get where you're going; then you'll succeed.

When I was about 13 years old my Dad had to go work for the day. If I remember right, he was still working at the Clinton-Shermon Air Force Base near us doing some maintenance work. Our land was already prepared for planting cotton but since the wind was really blowing the dirt was blowing. My Dad wanted me to use a little Ford tractor that we had with a spring tooth plow and streak sections of about 80 acres to keep the dirt from blowing so much. Simple enough for me to do and it took several hours. I was almost finished when I saw a coyote and I started chasing it with the tractor. That was when I ran into a bunch of old discarded barbed wire and got the tractor and the plow all tangled up in it. It took a long time to cut the wire off of everything and I'm sure even the coyote was laughing at me!

It is entirely too easy to wander off the right path of life and become all tangled up in things far from what God wants. It probably won't be a coyote that we begin to chase, but it may be a career choice that is good, but not the best that God has for us. We also may wander off the right path of life because of the attractions of sinful things - you know what they are. There are so many little things that can grab our attention and lead us astray.

It took me hours that day to be able to cut out of the barbed wire and finish up with the plowing. Once we have gotten off the right path in life it may take us years to turn back to the way that God has for us. Sadly, some may never make it back to that path God had originally planned for their lives. It is all too easy to become all tangled up in things far from the will of God.

God's instructions to Joshua are still His instructions to us today. If we want success in life, we must include time in the Word of God. We need to read it, meditate upon it, and memorize it. As Jesus told that old devil when He was being tempted in the wilderness: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4)."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

01.19.22

Sin's Wages

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

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:20-23 NKJV.

The long arm of the law has finally caught up with 30-year-old Jorge Navarro. Jorge was the head teller at the URW Federal Community Credit Union and he used his position to enable him to embezzle $617,000 from his employer. He was successful in getting away with it for a couple of years in part because he replaced the money with counterfeit bills. That allowed him to have time to take off with it all. He did send a text a day or two after he took off to the CEO of the credit union saying that he had taken the money.

Jorge apparently used the money to set up a cocaine and marijuana trafficking operation. He was arrested after reports of gunfire from his neighbors and police found blood, guns, cocaine, marijuana, money counting machines and $74,000 in cash. Jorge claimed he had been robbed of $200,000. No word as to where the embezzled money went. He has been charged with counterfeiting and embezzlement.

Jorge was charged with one count of embezzlement and one count of counterfeiting along with possession of firearms during commission of a felony. He has pleaded guilty to those charges. Criminal penalties for counterfeiting can be as much as 25 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, but the penalties can be enhanced with fines being doubled. Criminal penalties for embezzlement can be 10 years in prison and fines as much as the embezzled amount. (CBS17 Durhan NC 12.20.21; U.S. Attorney's Office News Release; News and Observer 12.20.21 and various other news venues.)

Just as there are criminal penalties for our bad deeds here on Planet Earth there are spiritual penalties for doing bad things in violation of the spiritual laws God has given to us. In Romans 6:23 we are told of one of those spiritual penalties as it is plainly stated: "For the wages of sin is death...." The ultimate penalty for sin is to spend eternity in hell. We are told about this in Revelation 20:11-15, 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. Those are some really high wages!

The truth is that as Romans 3:23 states we have all sinned and the only perfect person who ever lived was Jesus Christ, God's Son, who was tempted at all points without sin (Hebrews 4:15) and became the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Thank God that the second part of Hebrews 6:23 can become our testimony if we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior "...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 6:23 sets before us two ways of living and dying. We can reject Jesus as our Savior and live and die for the things of this world suffering the second death that we are told about in Revelation 20:15. Or, we can live for Jesus now and forever by receiving Him as our Savior. Jesus says in 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." Jesus also says in Revelation 3:20, "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." And 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."

If you haven't already done so, what better time than now to pray and invite Jesus into your heart and life asking Him to forgive you of your sins, the bad things you have done. You can pray a prayer similar to this one: Dear Lord Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for my sins and rose again on the third day. Please forgive me for the sins, the bad things I have done, I want to change and be like You. Please help me to change, be my Lord and my Master and my Savior. In your Name, Lord Jesus, I ask You to come into my heart and save me.

Just saying the words will not save you, you will only be saved if you truly mean what you say in your heart. Romans 10:13 says, "For 'whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'"

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

12.20.21

No Santa

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! - 2 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV.

Bishop Antonio Stagliano of the Roman Catholic diocese of Noto, Sicily has had a little problem. The problem? He told some children that there is no Santa Claus. A spokesman for the diocese stated: "On behalf of the bishop, I express my sorrow for this declaration which has created disappointment in the little ones, and want to specify that Monsignor Stagliano's intentions were quite different."

I can sympathize with the Bishop because soon after I became a pastor in a children's sermon, I said there was not a Santa Claus. Word soon got back to me that some of the parents were upset about that!

Personally, I learned that there was no Santa Claus when I was in the first or second grade when a friend shared with me the shocking news that he had just found out. It really didn't upset me because I kind of already knew there couldn't be a Santa Claus, but I thought it would be nice if there were one.

The reality is that there is no Santa Claus, but God has given us something far better. God has given us a Savior, Jesus Christ, and through Him we can have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. As John 3:16 says "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."

Jesus truly is the indescribable gift This Christmas let us give Jesus the one thing that He wants, our hearts.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

12.13.21

How to Stop a Pandemic

Here's how the trouble began for David and his kingdom:

Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, "Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it." - 1 Chronicles 21:1-2 NKJV.

What would be the penalty for this sin?

Then the LORD spoke to Gad, David's seer, saying, "Go and tell David, saying, 'Thus says the LORD: "I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you." ' "

So Gad came to David and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Choose for yourself, either three years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the LORD - the plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.' Now consider what answer I should take back to Him who sent me." - 1 Chronicles 21:9-12 NKJV.

Here was David's choice:

And David said to Gad, "I am in great distress. Please let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man."

So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. - 1 Chronicles 21:13-15a NKJV.

Why did the plague stop?

Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces. And David said to God, "Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, O LORD my God, be against me and my father's house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued." - 1 Chronicles 21:16-17 NKJV.

The indication is from David and his officials being "clothed in sackcloth," is that the were already in a state of repentance. They were likely headed for the tabernacle at Gibeon when they saw the death angel and "fell on their faces."

And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the LORD looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, "It is enough; now restrain your hand." And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. - 1 Chronicles 21:15 NKJV.

The contemporary plague, the pandemic that is now continuing to cause death and misery across our world continues to spin out new variants. Is the pandemic a result of sin? As we look across the world, sin appears to be reaching a crescendo beyond any time since the Noahic flood.

The solution to our plague is the same as it was for King David. We too must repent of our sins and fall on our faces before the Lord. No doubt the reason the plague has not grown any worse and God has not said "Enough!" is because of men and women that are on their knees in prayer. We need to join them, pleading with God to end this horrific pandemic.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

11.23.21

God's Amnesia

He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea. - Micah 7:19 NKJV.

"Come now, and let us reason together,"
Says the LORD,
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool." - Isaiah 1:18 NKJV.

As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us. - Psalm 103:12 NKJV.

Have you had the measles? Most of us who are older had the measles when we were children. Thankfully, 25 years ago the Vaccines for Children program was initiated which included the MMR Measles Mumps and Rubella vaccine which is 97% effective at preventing measles after two doses. However, measles is making a comeback in the United States with 839 cases last year.

Measles is a very dangerous illness for a little known reason. It is called immune amnesia. The American Society for Microbiology states in an article: Measles virus is especially dangerous because it has the ability to destroy what's been earned: immune memory from previous infections. It then takes two to three years for the immune system to recover and begin making memories of new infections as it did prior to the measles.

What measles does for your physical body wiping out memory of the previous attacks via infections is in a way what God can do for your spiritual being. Jesus says in 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. When you open up the door of your heart through prayer inviting Jesus into your life asking forgiveness of your sins - when you do that, God develops amnesia. God develops amnesia of your past sins and your future sins.

When God forgives you of your sins, He puts those sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) casting them into His sea of forgetfulness (Micah 7:19) and remembers them no more (Hebrews 8:12). God's amnesia about your sins begins when you are birthed into the kingdom of God. At the same time, you are clothed in a robe of righteousness: Isaiah 61:10, "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."

After God's amnesia occurs, when the Father looks at you, He no longer sees the sinner that you were. Why? Because you are now clothed in the righteousness of His Son.

We have so very much as children of God to be thankful about!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

08.20.21

An Outrage!

This is a rewrite of a 2016 devotional in an attempt to address the situation we find ourselves in today.

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.

What has happened and is happening in Afghanistan is an outrage! It is awful, horrible, a travesty! It was so preventable! The U.S. Embassy was evacuated leaving all of the records for the Taliban. This could not have been an accident giving the Taliban the records they need to target all who have helped America in the past. Leaving Bagram airbase to the Taliban prior to all Americans and Afghans who have been helping us being taken to safety could not have been an accident. All American troops leaving Afghanistan with all of the weapons left behind could not have been an accident. It had to all have been a very evil plan which benefits our enemies: the Taliban, ISIS, China and Russia. It is an outrage! But all of us Americans bear some responsibility.

What is the problem that has created such a racial divide, hate and violence in the United States? What is the problem that now appears to have given us a plague of bad leaders? Leaders who appear to be acting in concert with our enemies. 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 a 2016 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 solution to this plague of bad leaders 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 and really the world. 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

08.08.21

Disrupted Plans

There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the Lord's counsel--that will stand. - Proverbs 19:21 NKJV.

For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you (Paul's plans for visiting Rome.). But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you, whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. - Romans 15:22-24 NKJV.

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. - James 4:13-14 NKJV.

Friday afternoon I had just finished preparing the evening sermon for Sunday and was nearly finished with a bulletin insert when I received a text message. The text was from my Director of Missions of our local association of churches. It was a notification that the speaker at our pastor's conference that week had tested positive for covid that morning. It had been a small group around some tables, and I had also visited individually with the speaker that day.

My plans for Sunday had just been disrupted. My wife and I and our son have all had the moderna vaccinations. However, from what we are now hearing it is possible even for those who have been vaccinated to contract the virus and to spread it to others even when asymptomatic. Out of an abundance of caution which has been my mode of operation since the pandemic began, I realized that my plans would have to be changed.

One of our deacons had been working on his first sermon and I asked him to preach that message Sunday morning and a retired pastor that is now a member of our church to preach Sunday evening. I know that God has changed all of our plans and I am looking forward to seeing what God is going to do through all of it!

We can look at disrupted plans as being a disaster, or we can see them as having the potential to be opportunities for God to do something even better. The apostle Paul says that his plans of visiting Rome were hindered. I like what Warren Wiersbe says about this: "The vast area of opportunity in other parts of the empire kept Paul from visiting Rome sooner. He was not hindered from going to Rome by satanic opposition or physical obstacles, but by the challenge of completing his work right where he was."

March 12, 1812 was a horrific day for the work of missionary William Carey as a fire destroyed years of his translation work and materials for that work in India. Carey's response was to review the blessings that God had given the ministry there and to thank God for all God had done. Carey was able to duplicate all of the work that had been burned and used it as an opportunity to improve upon what he had done before. What a great example for us all to follow!

Have your plans been disrupted? Thank God for all the blessings God has poured into your life and then look to see what God has for you now. It may be a terrible awful day, but God has the power to see you through it and to even bring good out of it just as it says in Romans 8:28. If you are "the called according to His purpose" and "love God" that is what God will do. Let Him!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.17.21

All In!

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. - Romans 12:1 NKJV.

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

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 NKJV.

Jeffrey D. Cannon has been arrested by a deputy of the Clackamas County, Oregon Sheriff's Office. Why was Jeffrey arrested? The deputy noticed Jeffrey's Volkswagen rapidly approaching from behind and also when the vehicle passed going between 80 to 90 mph. The deputy also noticed the sticker on the back of the vehicle which stated: NOT DRUNK Avoiding Potholes. Not surprisingly the deputy pulled over the vehicle. What was surprising was that Jeffrey allowed his vehicle to roll backward until it struck the patrol car.

Things went downhill from there.... The deputy could smell alcohol on Jeffrey's breath and noticed a can of beer in the vehicle's cupholder. Jeffrey had a loaded Glock handgun with the serial number removed and since he was a convicted felon this was another felony. A search of the vehicle turned up multiple empty beer cans along with a baggie of cocaine. If that wasn't enough to arrest him it was also found that he was driving with a suspended license. You could say that Jeffrey was all-in for doing all the wrong things! (KOIN 6 Portland OR and various other news venues)

In the Book of Joshua, we find Joshua in chapter 24 sharing his final words with the people of Israel. Joshua is challenging them to put away the false gods of other nations and commit themselves to fully following the One True God. Joshua is all-in for what is good and right and demands that the Israelites make a commitment to do the same. Joshua says … as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Jeffrey Cannon was all-in for what is wrong and bad speeding toward a likely wreck of his vehicle and toward a spiritual crash. Thankfully, the deputy stopped him before he crashed into anyone that night.

Throughout the Bible we are being called to an all-in commitment to Him. Romans 12:1 and Matthew 6:33 are two of the verses calling for an all-in commitment. As for me and my house we are all-in with a commitment to serve the Lord. What about you?

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.07.21

Don't Substitute the World for...

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. Therefore He says:

Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.

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 5:8-21 NKJV.

Don't substitute the world for what? Don't substitute the world for the Kingdom of God!

Some of us who are older remember the TV show "Cheers" which ran from 1982 to 1993. For those who have never heard of it the show takes place in a bar. A few lines from the theme song is descriptive of what took place in that bar and in a lot of bars:

Sometimes you wanna go
Where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came
You wanna be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name

Basically, the culture of bars revolves around the familiarity of those who frequent the establishment with each other along with drinking alcohol.

Ephesians 5:18 gives us one way that this is a substitution of the world for the Kingdom of God. Getting drunk on alcohol is a substitution for being filled with the Holy Spirit. Have you ever been filled with the Holy Spirit? If you have you know it is a far greater high than any alcohol or drug can possibly give you!

Another substitution of the world is having fellowship with as Ephesians 5:11 puts it: ...the unfruitful works of darkness. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us what we ought to be doing instead of going to bars which is the world's substitution for 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.

If you have been substituting the world for the Kingdom of God you are told what to do there in Ephesians 5:14:

Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.04.21

Some Things Don't Change Much

On our farm there is a building called the "wash house" and that is where my grandmother washed clothes, butchered hogs and it had a beehive in the walls. Their farm was totally self-sufficient with large garden, chickens, hogs, and cattle. When I was a boy I loved to go out to the "wash house" because there was an old crank phonograph there with many old thick 78rpm records. I loved to play those old records and one of my favorite songs was one called "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road." These old records were from back in the 1920s and 30s. Things haven't changed much as far as the dead skunks go. When we drive back and forth from our home to a nearby city on country roads, we usually see two or three dead skunks on the road. If you are driving late at night, it is not unusual to see a live skunk just standing in the middle of the road. Why they do that I don't know. But some things haven't changed much in ninety to a hundred years.

I know that my grandparents would be shocked though at the things that have changed in the last hundred years. They would be shocked by the blatant immorality that we are constantly bombarded with by all kinds of media. They would be shocked by the level of immorality among our governmental leaders and in every area of government. They would be shocked at the complete disregard for our constitution and for the laws of our country by our leaders.

The solution today is the same as it was during Old Testament times for the evil that we see everywhere. God told Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:13, "When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people...." We certainly have a terrible pestilence that has spread across our land and the entire world. In a way, you could look at the bad leaders that we have as a plague that has come upon us. God gives Solomon the solution which I believe is still the solution for us today in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "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."

To rid ourselves of the evil that has spread across our land and the dead skunks giving out evil decrees in the middle of D. C. and the other capitals of our world the answer is still the same: 2 Chronicles 7:14. Some things don't change that much! (02.04.21)

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

12.07.20

Meant to Be

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.

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.

Picture the urgent scene of a helicopter bringing a heart from a donor to be transplanted into a patient at Keck Hospital of the University of Southern California. The helicopter crashes on the helipad of the hospital shaking the entire building. The helicopter ends up on its side but thankfully the pilot was able to extricate himself with only minor injuries along with two others who refused treatment. Emergency crews rushed to the helipad prying open the copter with the jaws of life. The donor heart was retrieved, but then the person carrying the heart tripped and fell with it. The heart was recovered again and was successfully transplanted into the patient. Some things are just meant to be! (Mirror News 11.07.20 and various other news venues.)

During this time of worldwide pandemic and the election turmoil in the United States will God answer our prayers about the pandemic and the election? One thing we can have confidence in is that when we pray according to God's will what we are praying about will come to pass. Of course, we want the pandemic to end now, as in yesterday, so our lives can become normal again. We want the uncertainty about the election to also come to an end some in one way and others in another way. 1 John 5:14-15 is a guarantee that our prayers matter and that they will make a difference. Because, if it is God's will, it is meant to be.

In a larger sense as we contemplate all of the pain and trouble that the pandemic and the election too is inflicting upon our lives it is easy to become discouraged. The message of Romans 8:28 is of vital importance to keep in mind as we travel through the rest of 2020 and beyond. In spite of the pain and trouble that we are experiencing God is able and will bring good out of it for those "...who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." It is just meant to be!

I know that in my own life and in the lives of many others that God is using this time to draw us closer nearer to Him. May our God do the same in your life!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

12.02.20

Uncertain Times

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.

With the year 2020 we have surely been reminded that we could be in the end times, the last days as the apostle Paul puts it in 2 Timothy 3. No doubt we are living in uncertain and precarious times but Americans through our history as a nation could say that: We were living in uncertain precarious times after 9/11.

We were living in uncertain precarious times during the Cold War and Viet Nam.

We were living in uncertain precarious times during WWII and the Korean War.

We were living in uncertain precarious times during WWI and Spanish Flu pandemic.

We were living in uncertain precarious times during the Spanish American War.

We were living in uncertain precarious times during the Civil War.

We were living in uncertain precarious times during our war with Mexico.

We were living in uncertain precarious times during the War of 1812.

We were living in uncertain precarious times during the Revolutionary War.

We are living in uncertain precarious times but our nation, our ancestors have faced and gone through difficult precarious times before.

Underlying all those difficult times with wars and pandemics there was another war being fought and it is through the Scriptures that we can understand there has been and is an ongoing spiritual war.

Jesus tells us in John 10:10 about that spiritual war between good and evil when He says: "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."

We have a choice as we walk through these times between the evil or the good which Jesus lays out for us there in those words.

During difficult times, precarious times the children of God have always found their comfort, their anchor in the living Words of the Bible. As we are told in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "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."

We need to remember where is says by "inspiration of God," it is saying that the Words in our Bible are God-breathed. This is the only use in the Bible of the Greek word theopneustos, which literally means God-breathed. It joins the words theos meaning God with pneustos meaning breath to convey the idea that Scripture is breathed out by God, serving as an extension of God Himself.

The important truth to remember here as we go through our own uncertain precarious times is that the breath of God, the power of God, is still contained in every word in the Bible. Contained, residing in every word of the Bible is the dunamis dynamite power of the living God. The power we need to live through these times we will find in the Bible and in Prayer.

Where do you find safety and security? The greatest security you can have in all the world is to know that no matter what happens in the coming weeks with the presidential election or the pandemic remember that Romans 8:38-39 tells us that no one and no thing can ever separate you from the love of God.

In times like these, Jesus offers safety and security for our hearts and we can find comfort and joy in Christ anytime. We can find peace, comfort, assurance anytime that we turn off the news on TV and put down our phone, tablet or walk away from our computer and refocus on Jesus and spend time in prayer and His precious Word.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

10.08.20

The Throne of Grace

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 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 4:14-16 NKJV.

Looking back at my life before I received Jesus as my Savior, I am convinced that many prayers must have been prayed on my behalf. Because without those prayers I doubt that I would have lived beyond my teenage years. I am indeed thankful for those who prayed for me then and for those who pray for me now.

Prayer has been and still is a great passion in my life and yet I know that my prayer life is dwarfed beside the prayer lives of countless other faithful saints of God.

Our prayers are eternal and in the apostle John's vision of Heaven in Revelation 5:8 we are told "Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." There we can see that our prayers are kept in Heaven in those "golden bowls."

In Hebrews 4 we are told that we can go directly to God when we pray because of Jesus. We are told this: "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace." That throne of grace is in Heaven. The apostle John also gives us a glimpse of that throne in Heaven. Here is that glimpse of Heaven in Revelation 4:2-6a: "Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal."

When you pray in the name of Jesus you are coming before that throne in Heaven. When you pray you should picture yourself before that glorious throne because you are there in spirit. You may be driving in your car, or laying in your bed, or sitting at your desk at work, but whatever your physical situation; when you pray you have entered the throne room of Almighty God. What a great and awesome privilege we have as the children of God "...come boldly to the throne of grace!"

During this year when everything seems to have come apart at the seams, I hope that you will avail yourself of this great and awesome privilege of prayer more so than ever before. Pray for yourself, for your family, for your friends. Maybe you know some teenage boys and girls that need your prayers to make it through that difficult time in their lives. There are so many hurting people across this world that need our prayers. Have you come before the "throne of grace" today?

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

09.05.20

Will You Miss the Rapture

The answer to these questions is revealed in the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation.

The church at Laodicea is the last church mentioned in Revelation chapter 3. It was an actual church, but it was also prophetically representative of many of the churches now present upon the earth.

The church prior to Laodicea being mentioned was Philadelphia and prophetically it represents the remnant that will be raptured. The Lord has no rebuke for this church only commendation. Revelation 3:10 the Lord says to the church at Philadelphia: Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

Compare that to the church at Laodicea where the Lord says: Revelation 3:14-18: "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "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 - I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

Revelation 3:19-22: As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 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. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

You can see the sharp contrast between the two churches. Focus in on verse 18 where the Lord says they should buy white garments. This is a church filled with lost people. Isaiah 61:10 says: I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. The church at Laodicea, the people who make it up are not clothed with a robe of righteousness. They are "naked."

Then we come to the verse Revelation 3:20 that many of us have memorized. Notice that Jesus is knocking on the door of this church. Jesus is not in the church He is outside knocking on the door wanting to come in. This is a church that thinks that they have everything, but instead the Lord reveals their real condition they are: wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.

Revelation 3:22 is the last mention of churches in Revelation for many chapters. Why? Because the rapture occurs and born again believers are no longer on this earth. Those who have actually been born again birthed into the Kingdom of God by the Holy Spirt represented by the church at Philadelphia will be raptured. Those who only profess their faith but have not actually received Christ as their Savior will be left behind.

I believe Billy Graham was right when he said that 60 to 80% of church members are lost. I think he said that because of so many church members being saved in his crusades. Are you saved? Have you been born again birthed into the Kingdom of God? If you are not sure prayerfully read through 1 John and God will reveal your condition. You can know whether you are saved or not. 1 John 5:13, 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.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

04.06.20

Praise Him!

I am thankful that our country has two very large hospital ships. One, the Comfort, has been sent to New York and the other, the Mercy, to Los Angeles. However, Eduardo Moreno, did not think the hospital ship USNS Mercy should be in the Port of Los Angeles.

Moreno indicated to FBI agents that he was suspicious of the Mercy and thought that it was part of a government takeover related somehow to the COVID19 pandemic. So, Moreno who is a train engineer tried to run his locomotive into the ship.

A California Highway patrolman was watching as it happened and said this: "The locomotive crashed through a concrete barrier at the end of the track, smashed through a steel barrier, smashed through a chain-link fence, slid through a parking lot, slid across another lot filled with gravel and smashed into a second chain-link fence." (It was still 250 yards short of the ship)

Moreno told the highway patrolman who arrested him: "You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don't know what's going on here. Now they will." What he thought was going on, no one seems to know. Moreno has been charged with one count of "Train Wrecking." I can think of some other things he could have been charged with including terrorism, because it was an act of terrorism.

Sadly, you could also call what Moreno did "Life Wrecking." Because he has certainly wrecked his life.

We are all under stress during this pandemic and the stress is increasing as we may hear of friends or even family members and relatives having the virus. Now we are in addition to being encouraged to stay at home, we are being encouraged to wear masks when we leave our homes, and this will be a visible reminder of the threat we are facing too. It will also be another stress inducer for some.

While we are experiencing significant amount of stress, we want to make sure we don't do any "Life Wrecking" of our own lives. Let us remember that this pandemic was not a surprise to God. He knows where you are, He knows what you are going through.

Isaiah 26:3 says: "You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You."

Let us during this difficult time put our hearts and minds upon our God.

Hebrews 12:3 says something similar, "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

We need to put our focus not upon the virus, not upon limitations that have been placed upon us, not upon the financial problems - Instead we need put our focus upon our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Stay our minds upon Him!

Easter is almost here let us think about that first Resurrection Sunday and of how Jesus has conquered sin and death and become our Savior.

Let us praise Him!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.11.20

The Soft Touch

A couple of months ago we had to buy a new washer and dryer, because the repairman said they were not repairable. Actually, he said he could order the parts; but they might or might not be delivered, and if they were, it could take weeks to receive them. The washer and dryer were 12 or 13 years old, so maybe it was time for some new ones.

Fast forward a couple of days and we have our new washer and dryer. Of course, everything is electronic now. You push a button, and the electronic display lights up so you will know what level of wash or dry that you will use. Jeanie did not have any problems with using the washer or dryer. However, for me it was a different story. I pushed on the buttons, and pushed on the buttons, but nothing happened. Jeanie seemed to have the magic touch! Finally, after about a month (Maybe more!) I decided the problem was that Jeanie had a softer touch than I did. To operate the washer and the dryer you do not actually press on the buttons. You barely touch the buttons and viola! Through the marvels of modern technology, the machines start up! You know, I think that technology may be driving me crazy....

Thankfully, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has a soft touch. 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." The Lord loves everyone, and He says in Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Jesus also says in John 10:10b, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." Jesus came to this earth with a soft touch, a touch of love. He did not come to destroy, or to cause unnecessary pain. He came to give life, and that life more abundant. As we are told in John 3:17, For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. That's a soft touch!

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, "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." Jesus is saying that He has a soft touch! As God tells us in John 3:16 He loves us and wants only the best for us. Jesus came to this world to give us life, life abundant beyond our imaginations, beyond our ability to comprehend. Open your heart to the soft touch of your Lord and Savior. Give Jesus access to every area of your life, and watch as His soft touch brings life, light, and transformation into being more and more conformed to His image.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

01.06.2020

Jesus Saves

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.

After the healing of the lame man at the temple Peter addresses the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:8-12:

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."

Tyler Moon was running the Twin Cities Ten Miler back in October when he passed out falling to the ground. He had experienced ventricular tachycardia which was an irregular heartbeat and just after the eight-mile mark he fell to the ground face first. Tyler was fortunate in that the first person to give him aid was a registered nurse anesthetist. Soon another nurse ran over to help along with another nurse anesthetist, a doctor and in total 11 very well-trained people rushed to give aid. They performed CPR until an ambulance arrived with a defibrillator and Tyler's heart was shocked back into the proper rhythm. Tyler is doing fine now with marriage planned in the future, but it is planned to have a defibrillator implanted in case the tachycardia occurs again.

That is a great story made even greater because of Tyler's desire to be a witness for the Lord by having the words, JESUS SAVES, printed on his runner's bib instead of his name. Of course, the story is even better because the name of the nurse anesthetist, the first person to rush to Tyler's aid, his name is: Jesus Bueno! Good Jesus!

God’s protection and help for Tyler Moon is so amazing as two months before he had run ten miles on a rarely traveled stretch of road by himself. If he'd had the tachycardia, then there would have been no one there to help him! That's why runners training are encouraged to have someone with them as they are running even when just training.

Jesus no doubt was responsible for the physical salvation of Tyler back on that day in October, and that is amazing. However, I think that Tyler would tell you that something even more amazing is how through believing in Jesus he has eternal life. Jesus is still saving souls, has He saved yours? If not, Jesus is saying this to you right now: "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 (Revelation 3:20)." In prayer, ask Jesus to come into your heart and life, ask Him to forgive you of your sins, the bad things you have done, and be your Lord, Master, and Savior. Jesus will SAVE you!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

10.30.19

Time for a Change

So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. - Numbers 21:9 NKJV.

He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. - 2 Kings 18:4 NKJV.

We remember the story of how the bronze serpent came into existence. It was because of the sin of the people that God had sent a plague of poisonous snakes into their camp after they had escaped from Egypt. Many were dying and Moses pleaded for help from God and he was told to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. If someone had a snake bite he was to look at that bronze serpent believing God would heal him and he would be healed.

The next mention of the bronze serpent is 2 Kings 18:4 in the reign of Hezekiah who was king of the southern kingdom of Judah from approximately 715 - 686 B. C. Apparently over the years the God's people had began to worship the creature, the bronze serpent, instead of the Creator. The exodus from Egypt is thought to have been about 1500 B.C. so this worship of the bronze serpent had been going on for hundreds of years. Hezekiah put a stop to it.

Hezekiah's father, Ahaz, was an evil king worshipping the false idols instead of the One true God. However, Hezekiah made a choice to turn from the evil and turn to the good even though his father lived in a different way. Here is the truth, just because your family or ancestors have lived in a way not pleasing to God, even for hundreds of years - you do not have to continue to do that! You can change, you can put your faith in Jesus Christ. That's what the third mention of the bronze serpent in the Bible tells us. John 3:14-15, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

Far too many people are living under the influence of cults. But just because you were raised in one does not mean that you have to keep on believing their false doctrines. Today, I leaned of another cult called Swedenborgianism. According to Got Questions dot org the cult believes teachings such as: "God has many names, depending on the beliefs/religion of the individual; the Holy Spirit is not God; the Trinity does not exist; Jesus Christ's death did not atone for our sin; salvation comes by practicing what you believe, whatever religion it might be; the afterlife is spiritual, but dependent on how well you lived in your physical body. All of those teachings are in opposition to Biblical Christianity."

David Weaver says that he was born and raised in Swedenborgianism. By the time he was 18-years-old he was an alcoholic and suicidal. His family and church leaders had no idea what to do with him, but they had heard of a man who had left the cult with similar problems and gotten his life straightened out. One day a man called him, Jim Davis, and they eventually met. Jim shared with David about Jesus and prayed for him. As a result, David prayed this prayer that Jim had written out for him: "Dear God, I am a sinner, I confess this to You. Please come into my life and be the Lord of my life. In Jesus Name Amen." David says, "The next day I went to work. Then suddenly at around 9:30 I stopped what I was doing. Something was different. Something had happened in me, I could feel it. I felt a real joy, peace and love I had never felt before. It was incredible! I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Now tears of Joy filled my eyes instead of tears of pain." (Read all of David's story at this link: carm dot org/christianity/testimonies/leaving-cult-alcoholism-depression-and-finding-jesus-david-weavers-story)

David's life was transformed by the power of God. Are you living in a cult? You don't have to stay. You too can leave through the power of God.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

09.09.19

Sudden Changes

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.
For man also does not know his time:
Like fish taken in a cruel net,
Like birds caught in a snare,
So the sons of men are snared in an evil time,
When it falls suddenly upon them. - Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 NKJV.

A deputy sheriff in Humboldt County in northern California had a sudden shock last week. The deputy had been dispatched to help a victim of a drug overdose, but he never made it to the address given. He never made it, because the deputy had a sudden change in plans when a bear either jumped or fell onto his vehicle. The deputy crashed, and the vehicle turned over and caught on fire. Thankfully, the deputy and the bear both escaped serious injury.

After finding that story, I noticed a link to another story with a much sadder ending. This sad story also happened last week. Three drivers were involved in an accident in northern New Mexico which resulted in the deaths of two of the drivers. Country singer Kylie Rae Harris was one of the drivers killed. The other driver killed was 16-year-old Maria Elena Cruz. Apparently, Kylie clipped the back of one vehicle and then hit the vehicle driven by Maria head on. Even sadder is that Maria's father, Pedro Cruz, a deputy chief of a nearby volunteer fire department, was the first on the scene of the accident. He was unaware that his daughter had been involved in the accident until he saw her body. (AP, CBS, and many other news venues)

Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:44-46: "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?"

In Ecclesiastes 9:11-12, the preacher (or teacher), who is traditionally believed to be King Solomon, shares from his life experiences and wisdom. He indicates that just because someone has wisdom, skill, strength, or cleverness those things are no guarantee of success in life and are no guarantee of a long life.

Knowing that there is an uncertainty to life, that we could suddenly be Like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare how should we approach life? We must live life with wisdom, the kind of wisdom that comes from God’s Word, knowing that every day is a day that has been given to us by God. We must live life knowing that we have no guarantee of tomorrow. Knowing this we should strive to live each day to the glory of God.

King Solomon sums up all of his wisdom of life experiences at the end of Ecclesiastes by saying "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

09.04.19

Life Choices

"Now, therefore," says the LORD,
"Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning."
So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm. - Joel 2:12-13 NKJV.

So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the LORD your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame. - Joel 2:25-26 NKJV.

According to a survey conducted by OnePoll in the UK of 2,000 adults four out of ten regret how they have lived their lives. 40% of the survey participants want to make changes in their lives in the near future. Deborah James a founding member of You, Me and the Big C, a BBC broadcast on fighting cancer, says: "This research is a really interesting wake up call to get us to think about how we want to spend our time now and to lay foundations for those that come after us." Two-thirds of the survey participants were concerned about how they would be remembered. What would be their legacy? Regrets included spending so much time watching TV, looking at their phones, and focusing so much on financial success.

Have you regretted your life choices? Have you gotten off on the wrong track? Have you wasted years of your life? Many apparently have those kinds of regrets. How do you get back on the right track? How do you recover? How do you change? What do you do?

Joel gives us some direction for recovering from poor life choices and from the damage that sin can do to our lives. Because of sin the crops of the land had been literally devoured by the locusts. In a way, the lives of the people had been devoured at the same time. Joel gives them and us the direction for correcting damaging life choices. The solution is always to seek direction from the Lord. If we have gotten off track because of sin or because of our failing to seek God’s will for our lives, we must do as the Lord says: "Turn to Me with all your heart." Joel says, "Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness."

If we will turn to the Lord for help, then we can enter into the promise of God given by Joel, "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten." This may not mean extended years of life, although it could be. It will definitely mean increased quality of life, abundant life, meaningful life, pressed down and running over kind of life. What are you waiting for? Run to the Lord!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

06.24.19

Love Never Fails

Love never fails. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. - 1 Corinthians 13:8a; 13 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.

The Lord is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails, But the unjust knows no shame. - Zephaniah 3:5 NKJV.

Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV.

Last night, I watched as the Wallendas walked the high wire in Times Square. Although they had a safety harness this time, I cannot imagine the nerve defying courage they must have to attempt to walk the high wire ten stories above the ground. There was something Nik Wallenda said before the attempt that grabbed me. He said, "The high wire has never failed me." Then, I think he said, "What I do on the wire depends on me." It reminded me that in this life God's love will never fail us.

The truth is that in contrast to God's unfailing love our human love does sometimes fail. In our humanity we can never be perfect. We walk the high wire of life trying for perfection, but we fall at times missing the mark. Thank God! that if we know Jesus as our Savior, we have a safety rope that catches us as we plummet downward. Because the compassions of our God "fail not." "They are new every morning."

There has only been one perfect person who has walked upon this earth, Jesus Christ. We are told in Hebrews 4:15, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Jesus Christ became the perfect sinless sacrificial lamb as 1 Peter 3:18 says, "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."

Those of us who know Jesus as our personal Savior have a safety rope as we walk the high wire of life. Sadly, there are billions of people who are up there on the high wire of life with eternity below who have no safety rope. When they sin, there can be no forgiveness because they have never received Christ Jesus as their Savior. Their high wire act will someday come to an end because "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27)"

Do you know someone who is walking the high wire of life without a safety rope? Please, before it is eternally too late, tell them about Jesus!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

04.22.19

Stop the Pain

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And 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." - Revelation 21:3-4 NKJV.

When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
To deliver you from the way of evil. - Proverbs 2:10-12a NKJV.

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. - James 3:17 NKJV.

There has been such pain across our world in recent days with the horrific Easter bombing of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. Hundreds of Christians peacefully worshiping their Lord ripped from this world to the next. However, the pain inflicted by those led by hatred instead of peace was not limited to just Sri Lanka. How many were killed by hate filled people in just the last week? Likely the number, if known, would be in the thousands. Just in the area where I live there have been three brutal murders that has caused great pain for their families. One of those killed I knew, as he attended the same high school that I attended.

For us who know Jesus as our Savior we have the glorious promise that is given in Revelation 21 that someday ...there shall be no more pain! But certainly, it is not God's will that there be pain in our lives even now. How can the pain be stopped? How can people be turned from their evil ways? Revelation gives us the answer to that: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God." Did you get that? "...the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them." For those who know Jesus as their Savior, God is already dwelling with them as we are told in 1 Corinthians 3:16, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" Once "the Spirit of God dwells in you," He is a force restraining you from causing evil and pain.

The writer of the Book of Proverbs tells us that we need wisdom. Wisdom will "deliver you from the way of evil." How do we obtain this kind of wisdom? "Wisdom that ...is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." In James 1:5 we are told, "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."

There is a solution available to the pain and evil that is running rampant across our world. What is that solution? His Name is JESUS! Give them JESUS and stop the pain!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

04.13.19

No Shortcuts

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.

The Message puts Matthew 7:13-14 as: Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life - to God! - is vigorous and requires total attention.

All the high winds that we have experienced here in Oklahoma caused our DISHtv system to develop some problems. Monday the DISHtv technician arrived to try to solve our system problems. I thought it might only take him a few minutes to remount and reposition the dish and he would be done. Instead, it took a couple of hours. The technician discovered that the cable in our attic was not a DISH approved cable, and proceeded to replace it, even though it must have been more than 100 degrees in the attic. He said the old cable would likely have been okay. Then he said, "I don't do shortcuts." "No shortcuts."

Sadly, many try to find a shortcut to God and end up on the "broad" way instead entering at the "narrow gate." Many try the shortcut of trying to do more good things than bad things. However, we are told in Ephesians 2:8-10, "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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." There is only One Way to salvation and reconciliation with God. The narrow gate and the way is Jesus Christ! John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'"

After we have believed upon Jesus unto salvation there are still no shortcuts. There is no shortcut from being a baby in Christ to becoming a mature believer. There will be no growth as a Christian without Bible reading and Bible study. There will be no growth as a Christian without spending time in prayer every day. There will be no growth as a Christian without faithful church attendance. There will be no growth as a Christian without serving your Lord and Savior.

Jesus could have taken a shortcut by accepting the devil's temptations of Matthew 4, but He defeated those temptations by the Word of God. Jesus could have rejected the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane, instead He prayed in Matthew 26:42, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." Just before being nailed to the cross, Jesus could have taken a shortcut as we are told in Matthew 27:34, "they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink." This would have been a shortcut, a small shortcut at best, around some of the suffering of the cross. But Jesus refused to take that shortcut, going to and through the cross because of His great love for us. There was no shortcut to Jesus becoming our Savior. It was a long hard road that Jesus traveled.

Life can be difficult, and your Savior knows that all too well. There are no shortcuts to a life well lived, but Jesus will travel with you on that difficult way. Jesus 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

03.29.19

Surrounded

Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. And he said:
"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge;
My Savior, You save me from violence.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.
When the waves of death surrounded me,
The floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry entered His ears." - 2 Samuel 22:1-7 NKJV.

While I was a Probation and Parole Officer, I received word that I had a new client in Ellis County, Oklahoma. Ellis County is a rural, somewhat isolated county. I had tried to contact the client, Charles, but had received no response. After arriving in Arnett, the county seat of Ellis County I learned that Charles owned a bar directly across from the courthouse. As I remember it, he was on probation for the non-violent offense of Knowingly Concealing Stolen Property.

After learning about the bar, I walked across the street to find Charles at his bar. There were eight or nine men in the bar, and I asked them where Charles was at. Apparently, they discerned that I was some type of law enforcement and then they surrounded me. I learned from this experience that lone law enforcement officers in bars are not in the safest environment. It took some time, but I was finally able to convince them that it would be to the advantage of Charles to make contact with me to avoid having his probation revoked. Thankfully, I was able to finally leave that bar and a few angry men behind. Charles did make contact about a week later.

King David knew what it was like to be surrounded: When the waves of death surrounded me,
The floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.

David also knew what to do when he was confronted by this evil: In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry entered His ears.

When we are surrounded by evil or by the cares and problems of this world we need to remember as David did that: The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge.

Remember too that if you are a believer you are not alone, because you are surrounded by the love of God: For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.25.19

Think Before You Act

But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?" Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. - Matthew 26:50-52 NKJV.

We know from another gospel that it was Peter who swung the sword cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest. The man probably deserved to have his head cut off, which was likely what Peter was attempting to do. Not sure what Peter was thinking, since the disciples only had the one sword. You could say that Peter was a little impulsive. From another gospel we know that Jesus touched the man and healed the ear. That should have been enough for all of those who came out to arrest Jesus to have turned and went back home. However, even seeing a miracle will not stop some from committing evil.

30-year-old Holly Albert was determined to go to her yoga class, and she wanted her mother to drive her to the class. Holly's mother refused, which made Holly go a little crazy shouting insults at her mother. She then grabbed up a phone throwing and hitting her mother in the head. The mother used the phone to call 911, and the police did respond; arresting Holly for assault, which could result in her having to serve several years in prison. Why did Holly want to go to the yoga class so badly? She wanted to meditate.

The title of the devotional could have been: Think before you do something stupid and ruin your life. How many lives have been ruined by just a moment of impulsiveness? Millions? Open up any newspaper, listen to almost any local news program and you will hear about someone who has messed up their life in a moment of impulsiveness.

It doesn't have to be that way! At least not for a believer. If you are a child of God, you have the tools to keep you from impulsively making wrong decisions. You have the Word of God, you can go boldly to throne of God Almighty in the Name of Jesus and ask for help, you have the presence of Holy Spirit dwelling within you restraining you from evil, and you have other believers who are more than willing to help you if you ask for help.

Before you do something crazy, take a moment to consider what the consequences are. Take a moment to cry out to Jesus for help. God says this: "Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver You (Psalm 50:15)." Let God help you!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

03.20.19

Cut Off at the Pass

Then God's anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. Now the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road. Then the Angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she pushed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall; so he struck her again. Then the Angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam's anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?" - Numbers 22:22-28 NKJV (Read the rest of the story in Numbers 22)

You could say that Balaam was cut off at the pass! I was once cut off at the pass by a large group of native-Americans. It was when I was 17 or 18 years old playing guitar in group. We played at dances all over western Oklahoma and one of those dances was at Canton, Oklahoma where there is a large native-American population. After the dance was over, we loaded all the equipment into the trailer; and, I was simply tired and relieved and let out a war whoop, something I did from time to time. However, there was a large group of native-Americans at the dance, and they rightly took offense thinking that I was mocking or taunting them.

Driving off from the dance venue to the main road was a dirt road about a quarter of a mile long. Before we reached the main road, we were cut off you could say at the pass by a long line of native-Americans running to intercept us. They were yelling and rocking the car and at least a couple of us were a little frightened by this! Especially as one of them was tapping on the window with his knife. Two of the members of our group who had booked the dance, and knew some of those surrounding us, got out of the car and defused the situation. I think that was the last time I ever did a war whoop!

Balaam was blocked by God from doing something really stupid at least that time. I believe God has used the situation I described in my life to block me from being so insensitive to people around me from that point on.

Have you ever been cut off at the pass? Has God blocked you from doing something that you thought was a good thing at the time? Since that time God has blocked me from many other things and delayed other things. I've come to recognize that God indeed knows far better than I will ever know about what I should do or not do.

Every time God blocks us or delays us, this is a good thing! We can rejoice that God has intervened and is at work in our lives. We can rejoice that He cares about us personally, individually enough to stop us from what would harm us or others.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.25.19

In the MIdst

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. – Matthew 18:20 NKJV.

Yesterday at our church in the morning service, I was holding a hymnbook (Yes, we still use hymnbooks.) and it fell out of my hands. It actually felt like it jumped out of my hands. Prior to the evening service, as I walked by the Lord's Supper table which has a Bible sitting on it, the Bible fell off. Or, did it jump off? I'm not sure which one because neither my wife or myself actually saw what occurred; but we heard it hit the floor.

After I have thought about this, I have come to believe it was simply God reassuring me of His presence. Of course, we pray for His presence, and we want His presence; but we are still surprised when He shows up!

I have been having a problem with my voice and although it is improving now, for several weeks, I never know how my voice is going to sound until I begin to speak. It is stressful to think that as I stand before the congregation that I may not be able to say anything. That did happen to me one Easter Sunday in the middle of a sermon at another church 12 years or so ago.

Yesterday, I felt was an especially important Sunday with baptisms planned in the evening service. It would have been an awful situation for me not to have been able to speak! I was praying about this, my family was praying, our church was praying about it...and my voice was good all through the services.

So, yes, I believe that God showed up yesterday and manifested Himself in a more physical presence than usual just so I knew that He had my back on this. The services were good, and we were blessed as two move precious souls followed the Lord in baptism. Jesus was there in the midst of us!

Are you sensitive to the Holy Spirit? Sometimes He uses little things to reassure you, to encourage you, to show you the way, and to give you the strength you need to go one more mile. Maybe He is speaking to you through some little thing even now? Are you watching? Are you listening?

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

11.09.18

A Christmas Miracle

In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, "Thus says the Lord: 'Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.'"

Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, "Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David."'" - 2 Kings 20:1-6 NKJV.

With all of the bad news we are saturated with every day it is a miracle whenever we hear some really good news. 11-year-old Roxli Doss has received some really great news! Her inoperable brain tumor is gone, God has once again done the impossible! The parents of Roxli were praying for a miracle and God gave them a miracle!

One thing that is also miraculous is that the parents of Roxli actually had the faith to pray, and to believe, that God could heal their little girl. This kind of faith is becoming more and more rare. As in, the doctor said you are going to die, so you are going to die - no need to pray. Sometimes that is true and sometimes, it isn't.

Hezekiah received the bad news that he was terminal directly from the prophet Isaiah and Isaiah had heard the bad news directly from God. However, even though there had been a pronouncement of death from Heaven above it was not the end of the story. Because, Hezekiah had the faith to pray, and God gave him 15 more years of life on Earth.

Why does God give healing to one, and not to another? Many godly parents and individuals have prayed for healing for a child or for themselves or others and there has been no Christmas miracle. As Deuteronomy 29:29a says "The secret things belong to the Lord our God...." Moses told the Hebrews that not all that lay ahead in the future could be revealed at that time. If God had told me what was ahead in my life when I was just a teenager, I would not have been ready to know those things. This side of Heaven we are not ready to know all of the "secret things" of the Lord our God. As we are told in Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding."

In the midst of whatever heartache and tragedy that may come our way we can be thankful for the very first Christmas miracle. The miracle of the birth of our Lord and Savior through Whom we may be forgiven of our sins and have the gift of eternal life. It took love beyond our understanding for Jesus to leave the glories of Heaven, so He could be born as a baby, grow to adulthood and suffer an excruciating death on a Roman cross for our sins. Love beyond degree. No matter what may be happening in your life or in the lives of those you love, remember this: God Loves You!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

11.09.18

This is the Day

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. - Psalm 118:24 NKJV.

On November 3rd, late on Saturday night a shocking tragedy occurred. Will Byler and Bailee Ackerman Byler had just been married in what is called a fairy tale wedding. They were married on the Byler ranch near San Antonio and then they boarded the family helicopter flying away on their honeymoon. Sadly, the helicopter crashed with Will, Bailee, and the pilot, Gerald Lawrence all being killed. Will and Bailee were in their last year of studies at Sam Houston State University. Lives cut far too short. (BBC 11.06.18 and CNN, KFOR, multiple other news venues.)

Sadly, yesterday at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California 12 people were gunned down by Ian David Long. Such an awful horrible attack upon innocents. Two horrible events happening in days of the other. However, we know there have been other tragedies that have occurred in the past and likely more will occur of one kind or another, if not today, then tomorrow or further in the future.

Incidents like this, is why I personally do not say about almost everything as some do that "God is in control." If God was in control, then He was the one that caused that helicopter to crash, and He was the one who caused David Long to open fire at that bar. The spiritual fact is that sometimes bad things happen to very good people. Mechanical parts fail, pilots and drivers can error. I nearly had an accident last night which would not have been a near miss if I had slowed down more quickly. Also, sometimes people do things that are outside of God's will like the attack on the bar in California.

God has given us free will, which means that we are not robots with every action and every event in our lives controlled by God. Does the Bible say that we should pray? Of course, the Bible talks often about praying. If everything, and everyone was controlled by God there would be no need to pray about anything.

What do we do now? Do we hide in our homes shaking with fear that some awful thing may happen if we were to leave? No, we thank God for another day that He has made, and We will rejoice and be glad in it!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

10.29.18

A Private Message

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. And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Acts 9:3-9 NKJV.

Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times? - Numbers 22:28 NKJV.

Nowadays we often receive private messages via social media platforms. Nothing unusual about that in the 21st Century. However, God has been sending private personalized messages since the dawn of time. Sometimes the messages are very blunt and obvious as in being struck blind as was Saul of Tarsus. Hearing a donkey speak in a human voice as did Balaam is also very to the point and undeniably had to be a message from God.

In these days, God has become more subtle with His private messages; although He can be very pointed, and blunt if the need arises. This past week I received one of those subtle private messages from God that only I would understand. It was a three-part message about the same thing. The first part was my encountering a person with whom I was able to share a part of my testimony about what God had done in my life in the past. The second part was while watching a Christian movie the same day in the evening and seeing a related event unfold. The third part of the message was discovering that the Bible reading for the next day was from a passage of Scripture that God used to extend His call upon my life. So, the entire private message would read: God has forgiven me, He has not forgotten about me, and He has renewed His call upon my life. His call is still without repentance. In other words, God hasn’t changed His mind.

Whenever, we receive a message from God it requires a response. Will we go forward with God in obedience, or will we turn away? We know what the apostle Paul decided as he gave his whole heart to following the Lord. Balaam was more like a split decision, you could say it was a half-hearted decision. Sometimes Balaam was obedient and sometimes he was not. Has God sent you a private message? What will your response be? Will you respond with your whole heart or with just half of your heart? I know I want to respond with my whole heart.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

10.20.18

Snakes

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. ,-.;'[

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. Numbers 21:4-9 NKJV.

This takes place during the time that the people of Israel were wandering through the desert. They had been delivered from slavery in Egypt and had witnessed amazing miracles performed by the hand of God. God had provided food for them in the desert, a supernatural food called manna. They had received the Commandments directly from God written on stone tablets by the finger of God. They were headed for the promised land that was overflowing with milk and honey. Great success, victory was just ahead. But, they did have a problem, it was their whining, their endless complaining, and their lack of faithfulness. That was when God sent the plague of snakes.

Thankfully for the Hebrews, Moses prayed for them and God gave a way to deal with the snakes. Put a bronze snake up on a pole, so when someone is bitten by a poisonous snake if they look at the snake they will live. What was it that they saw when they looked up at the bronze snake? They saw a lifeless bronze snake on a pole, but beyond that they saw the Heavens beyond reminding them of their Creator. The bronze snake had no power in itself; it was the looking at it and the Heavens beyond with the eyes of faith that brought the healing.

We have all been bitten by the snake of sin (Romans 3:23) and it is a deadly bite (Romans 6:23). As Jesus tells us in John 3:14-16 NKJV, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, 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.” Have you looked to Jesus?

There is something else important to see here and that is that God provided a way to survive the snakebite, but He didn’t remove the snakes. Once we know Jesus as our Savior, there are still going to be snakes. What are we to do? We must continue to look to Jesus! Hebrews 12:3, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”

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THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

10.12.18

Too High a Price

For the wages of sin is death…. Romans 6:23a NKJV.

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. Matthew 5:29 NKJV.

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 5:30 NKJV.

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that ones slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? Romans 6:16 NKJV.

A Dubai tourist and his seven friends had a 20-course dinner (Who knew there was such a thing?) and the bill was just $58,000 (400,000 yuan). Sounds a little high to me! But they did have a few exotic items from the menu. Including: Abalone, Premium Caviar, Yangtze River Crab, Salt-seared Miyazaki Steak, Duck with Olive, Shrimp Roe with Crispy Sea Cucumber, Fish Maw in Abalone Sauce, and Crocodile Tail Soup for $2,449, and Wild Yellow Croaker for $2,303. I dont know about you, but that is just too high a price to pay for Crocodile Tail Soup and Wild Yellow Croaker. Its Just TOO HIGH!

You know what else is too high a price to pay? The cost of sin is just too high. The result of sin is death. Thats a little sobering if you really think about it. Its serious enough that Jesus talks about plucking out your eye or cutting off your hand if it causes you to sin. In other words, Jesus is saying this is deadly as in dead serious stuff, you need to pay attention.

The apostle Paul continues the warnings against sin by saying that we either have one of two masters. We can be a slave to sin which will lead to death is one of the options. Whatever the sin you commit it only leads downward. Anyone with an addiction understands this, it never becomes better it only grows worse. Anyone committing a theft understands that they may at anytime be discovered and often additional thefts are committed to cover up the first. Anyone who tells a lie quickly knows that additional lies become required to cover up the first lie. Sin is a harsh master. One thing is for sure and that is that sin is just TOO high a price to pay!

The good news, the great news is that you dont have to keep on paying the far too high a price. There is a way out of this deadly downward plunge into eventually eternal hell. Because the second part of Romans 6:23 says, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a gift, and unbelievably extravagant gift from God Himself, but it must be received. God did love us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Now is the time to receive the gift of eternal life by believing upon Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior; because, the price of sin is just TOO high!

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

08.09.18

Don't Waste Your Life

When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things,
From those who leave the paths of uprightness
To walk in the ways of darkness;
Who rejoice in doing evil,
And delight in the perversity of the wicked;
Whose ways are crooked,
And who are devious in their paths - Proverbs 2:10-15 NKJV.

Patrick Ryan may hold the record for being the most prolific criminal ever. At least, in committing the most criminal offenses he has to hold the record, having committed 668 criminal offenses in his 62-years of life. Ryan began his extraordinarily wasted life at the age of 14. He has spent a total of 23 years in jail and prison; and, has recently been sentenced to another 18 months of prison. Judge Andrew Jefferies told Ryan during his most recent sentencing, "You will serve half of that sentence and will be released on license and supervision after that. During the period of license and supervision, this would be a good time to look at your mental health and drinking problem." It is believed that Ryan has cost British taxpayers approximately $3.9 million!

We can likely agree that Patrick Ryan has wasted his life up to this point. It appears that he has a severe alcohol problem which has contributed to the waste of his life. The ways of Patrick Ryan have been crooked, but it did not have to be that way. Because "When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil." God could have given Ryan the wisdom to be delivered from evil.

How can anyone waste their life? By ignoring God. By immersing themselves into every evil thing and ignoring the consequences; legal and spiritual. But it doesn't have to be that way. Even now Patrick Ryan could start down a different path with his life (Would you pray for him? Has anyone ever prayed for him?). What Patrick needs more than anything is Jesus. He needs to become that new born-again creation of 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

No matter what you may have done, if you have a desire to change from the path of evil, there is hope. Hope has a name (Titus 2:13), and His name is Jesus. As the apostle Peter would say to all those who are living wasted lives: "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13)." Receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior (John 3:16; John 1:12; Romans 10:13; Revelation 3:20) and allow His wisdom to enter your heart. "...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:17-18)."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

08.07.18

Are You Tempting God?

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you, and, In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'" - Matthew 4:5-6 NKJV.

Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" - Matthew 4:7 NKJV.

Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. - 1 Corinthians 10:8-10 NKJV.

The odds of being a victim of a shark attack in the waters of the United States is one in 11.5 million. The odds of being attack and injured by a bear in the United States is one in 2.1 million. The odds of being bitten by a venomous snake in the United States is one in 37,500. 20-year-old Dylan McWilliams has been the victim of a shark attack, a bear attack, and a rattlesnake bite and surprisingly has lived to tell about it. The odds of this occurring in one person's life is 893.35 quadrillion to one. McWilliams says he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time and "I still go hiking, I still catch rattlesnakes, and I will still swim in the ocean." (Across Colorado Patch 04.22.2018)

To understand how astounding this is for McWilliams to have been attacked in this way consider the odds of being struck by lightening in your entire lifetime is one in 5,000. The odds of being killed in a car accident are just one in 112. It would appear for whatever reason God has protected McWilliams. However, for him to continue to place himself in dangerous situations is approaching the tempting of God. Certainly, it is foolish behavior when you have been in such close proximity to death three times already.

In Matthew 4:5-6 the devil is actually quoting from Psalm 91:11-12. Psalm 91 is a psalm about God's protection from danger. However, it is not about protection from unnecessary exposure to danger.

In our everyday lives we are exposed to dangers such as lightening strikes and car accidents. It is surely God's will for us to pray for His protection from those dangers and other threats to our lives and to those we love. Asking God to protect us as the Psalmist was protected in Psalm 91 is a good thing to do. However, if we foolishly place ourselves repeatedly in situations we know are very dangerous we should not expect God to always supernaturally intervene and protect us.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

08.06.18

Take Out The Trash

Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. Then he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them in the East Square, and said to them: "Hear me, Levites! Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place." - 2 Chronicles 29:1-5 NKJV.

When I was a boy my job was to take out the trash and burn it. I did that for years while I was growing up. Living on a farm it was the way we eliminated much of our trash. I did catch the chicken house on fire once, but thankfully I was able to put the fire out with a nearby water hose. You would think after that, my parents would have given my trash duties to my sister, but no, I still had the trash removal duties.

The thing about trash is that if you don't remove it on a regular basis it piles up. When there is a back up in the trash removal it causes a mess which just grows larger and larger until it can no longer be ignored. Sometimes, you could say that the trash problem reaches critical mass, and something has to be done.

When Hezekiah became king, the trash problem at the house of the Lord, looked like it had reached critical mass. Hezekiah began to do something about it. So, Hezekiah ordered the Levites to clean all the rubbish out of the house of the Lord. "Hear me, Levites! Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place." This began a time of revival in Judah.

What does this have to do with us? 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" If you know Jesus as your Savior, your body is the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you. Sadly, our individual temples have a tendency to "fill up with rubbish like Hezekiah's house of the Lord. The rubbish we have to deal with is called "sin." If we want to have a personal revival, we must take out the trash. 1 John 1:9 tells us how to do that: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

How long has it been since you have taken out the trash?

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

05.30.18

Avoid the Danger

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. - 1 Peter 2:11-12 NKJV.

Growing up on a farm I learned early not to hassle the bull. We actually had a very tame bull that must have been almost a pet at one time. One of my favorite things to do when I was a little boy was to stomp my foot while looking the bull in the eye when I was just a few feet from him. That bull, who weighed a couple of thousand pounds, would jump backwards about a foot. I suspect I would have been in trouble if my Dad or Mother had ever caught me doing that. But I knew that most bulls were not tame. My Mother told me stories about my grandfather being trapped in cattle feeder and having to use a pitchfork to keep an angry bull from getting to him.

Apparently, some people in Colorado have not learned that a moose can be just as dangerous, if not more so than an angry bull. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department was given a photo of a man next to an angry moose. A driver saw this man chasing the moose across the highway and onto the median. In the photo the ears of the moose were "pinned back and had raised hackles (raised hair on back of the animal)." Summit County's District Wildlife Manager Elissa Slezak said, "It is likely this person does not realize how much danger he put himself in, or maybe he does not care. We hope a conversation with this individual can help him understand the danger involved."

Also, in Colorado, if the man is found he can be charged with harassment of wildlife. (Times-Call 05.06.18; 4CBS Denver 05.06.18)

1 Peter 2:11 says, "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul." Another translation puts sojourners and pilgrims as aliens and strangers. Fleshly lusts is translated in some modern translations as sinful desires. So, this would then read: "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, or aliens and strangers abstain from fleshly lusts or sinful desires which war against the soul."

Sinful desires do what? They war against the soul. Sin is a threat to your spiritual wellbeing. Sin is a danger that like an angry moose or an angry bull we would do well to avoid. Nothing good will come from playing around with sin or even entertaining sinful thoughts in our minds.

How do we fight back against these Sinful desires that at war with us? As we are told in Ephesians 6:17, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Take up the sword of the Spirit and fight back! Defeat angry thoughts with verses like Proverbs 15:18, "A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention." Memorize a few of these verses and run them through your mind whenever you have angry thoughts. Having a problem with lustful thoughts? Memorize Romans 6:12-13, "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." Repeat the verse in your mind until the sinful thoughts are gone. Whatever the sin problem there are verses of Scripture to use to confront it.

The very best thing to do when confronted with the danger of sinful desires is to find the way of escape. "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 (1 Corinthians 10:13.)."

Remember if you know Jesus as your Savior you are just a sojourner and a pilgrim on your way to your Heavenly home. Make your journey a good one, and avoid the danger of the sinful distractions, because you are only here in this world for a very brief visit.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.26.18

Spared from Trouble

No grave trouble will overtake the righteous, But the wicked shall be filled with evil. - Proverbs 12:21 NKJV.

You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Glory in that, and stay at home; for why should you meddle with trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you? " 2 Kings 14:10 NKJV.

And the Lord said to me, "Amos, what do you see?"
And I said, "A plumb line."
Then the Lord said:
"Behold, I am setting a plumb line
In the midst of My people Israel;
I will not pass by them anymore." - Amos 7:8 NKJV.

Years ago, when I had only been in the oilfield a few years, about 2am I was awakened by a phone call. After I had finished talking with whoever had called, and hung up the phone, Jeanie asked me who had called. I had no idea; the whole phone call was a blank in my mind. I knew I had answered the phone and talked to someone; but had no idea who it was, or what it was about. As it turned out, trouble had passed me by.

The next day, I found out from my friend, David at work, that he had been the one who had called. He had taken his drill pipe inspection unit to the lake. It was a two-ton truck with a large enclosed utility bed. He had gotten the truck stuck and had called me for help. Since I never came, he called another friend who was a forklift operator. This was a large forklift used for moving heavy pipe and had to be transported on a semi. The forklift got bogged down in the mud too. I don't remember now how they got the truck and forklift unstuck, I think they had to rent a bulldozer. Certainly, trouble passed me by that night!

The point of Proverbs 12:21 is not that no trouble will ever come to the righteous; but by living a righteous life, you will be spared from much trouble. In Amos 7:8, we have the will-known plumb line passage of Scripture. From this passage we know that God had spared Israel in the past from judgment and had allowed trouble to pass them by previously.

In 2 Kings 14 we see that Amaziah the king of Judah is thinking that he is something great. Amaziah through the power of God had a great victory over Edom. Because of that, Amaziah thought that he was invincible, and sent a message to Jehoash king of Israel demanding he send Israel's army to meet the army of Judah in battle. Jehoash with great wisdom and compassion responds to Amaziah with this message: "You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Glory in that, and stay at home; for why should you meddle with trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you (2 Kings 14:10 NKJV)?"

Amaziah would not listen to reason. The result was the utter defeat of Amaziah and Judah. Here is what happened as recorded in 2 Kings 14:11-14: "Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went out; so he and Amaziah king of Judah faced one another at Beth Shemesh, which belongs to Judah. And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his tent. Then Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, the son of Ahaziah, at Beth Shemesh; and he went to Jerusalem, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate, four hundred cubits. And he took all the gold and silver, all the articles that were found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king's house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria."

Living a righteous life is a life that God will bless. You may not realize it, and it may not seem like it at the time, but by doing so you are sparing yourself from much trouble. Trouble is passing you by when you refuse to "meddle with trouble."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

02.12.18

Don't Lose Heart

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 6:9-10 NKJV.

Then I said to them, "You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach." - Nehemiah 2:17 NKJV.

Tanner Broadwell and Nikki Walsh have a dream and that is to sail the seas in their own sailboat. They sold everything they owned, moved to Florida; and bought a 28 ft sailboat, and then spent a year making it ready for the open waters. On their maiden voyage catastrophe struck. Tanner says, "We hit something in about eight or nine feet of water and it stopped the boat completely."

Whatever they hit, punched a hole in the hull, and the boat began to sink. They quickly gathered all the personal items that they could; from IDs to cash, and of course their Pug, Remy. At the same time, they were calling for help. It took an hour for a ship to arrive, but the water was too shallow for it to reach them. So, they had to swim out to the ship leaving behind their boat. Nikki says, "Everything I've worked for, everything I've owned since I was a child, I brought with me. It's just floating away and there's nothing I can do." Tanner and Nikki have very little money and no place to live, but still they say they are not giving up on their dream. Nikki says, "Our boat sank, but our dreams didn't sink with the boat. We can't just give up on our dreams." (AJC dot com 02.10.18; Tampa Bay Times 02.11.18; WFTS Tampa Bay 02.09.18)

Whether we are following a dream, building a life, a ministry, or a wall; at times it may look like there is no way forward. How do you keep from losing heart? What do we do when everything collapses around us. We can find some direction from Nehemiah as he faces down opposition to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.

When it seems, there is no way forward, don't lose heart, pray! When Nehemiah faced opposition from Sanballat and Tobiah and the army of Samaria, Nehemiah prayed: "Hear, O our God, for we are despised (Nehemiah 4:4a NKJV)."

The next direction we see from Nehemiah is to stay focused: "So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 NKJV)." In spite of the threats and taunts from the enemy, Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem proceeded to build the wall anyway. The temptation when faced with a major setback or opposition is to give up, to stop doing anything for the Lord. When your boat sinks, it is easy to give up. When we encounter opposition to our dreams, when we lose a job, have a personal disaster, or a health issue; it easy to stop serving, stop being faithful in meeting with other believers. It is vitally important to keep on doing what you know God wants you to do.

During these hard times it may be difficult to get out of bed, to even believe it is possible to continue on. We live in a world where bad things sometimes happen to good people; and our boat may sink, or we may have a car wreck, or lose our job, or a sudden health issue, or countless other things that life can bring our way. Instead, we are told by the apostle Paul not to "grow weary" in doing good; because if we continue on, we will reap a harvest. So, keep on doing "good to all."

So, when life seems to fall in upon you don't lose heart. Instead, pray! Stay faithful and focused, believing that God will provide a way forward. God will fight for you and will honor your faithfulness just as he did for Nehemiah. In 1 Peter 5:6-7 we are told this, "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." Don't lose heart! Continue on and God will lift you up at the right time.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

01.17.18

Clean It Out!

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 NKJV.

But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?" - Mark 8:17-19 NKJV.

A woman in England was having trouble seeing and thought she had cataracts. She had quite a bit of discomfort from her eye which she believed was caused by old age and a dry eye problem. However, the problem of her being unable to see, and her discomfort, was not any of those things. Doctors found a "bluish foreign body" in her eye, which actually was a hardened mass of soft disposable contact lenses stuck together. There were 17 of the lenses in the hardened mass and underneath was found 10 more of the soft disposable contact lenses. Once the doctors had all of that mess cleaned out, the woman could see very well and no longer had the discomfort she had been experiencing prior to the surgery. (BBC News 07.17.17)

Jesus told his disciples in Mark 8:15, "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." The disciples did not understand and thought that Jesus was talking about how they did not have any bread with them. Jesus was speaking of a spiritual reality while the disciples had their minds on a worldly material issue. That is why Jesus appears to be perplexed with them. "Why do you reason because you have no bread?" In other words, why are the disciples even talking about this, worrying about this, don't they remember how Jesus fed the 5,000? The disciples were not ready for the spiritual feeding that Jesus wanted to give them. The disciples had their focus on the world, instead of the spiritual. They were so full of the world, concerned about material things, that it made them unable to see the spiritual truth Jesus was trying to teach them.

Today's followers of Jesus appear to often have a similar problem of focusing on our material needs and problems instead of upon the spiritual. We worry about so many things, let us remember what Jesus tells us, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them (Matthew 6:25-26)." In the same chapter of Matthew, Jesus gives direction as to how to clean this worry out of our lives as He says in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

Another issue (Although many think of worry as being in the same category.) that too often blocks our ability to see the spiritual reality is sin. The fix for this problem is surgery, spiritual surgery, to clean out the mess. That's why 1 John 1:9 is in the Bible, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

01.10.18

Unopened Gifts

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

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! - Luke 11:13 NKJV.

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." - John 4:10 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.

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. - Romans 11:29 NKJV.

It happened in 1970, Vicki broke off her relationship with her 17-year-old boyfriend, Adrian Pearce. While saying goodbye, Vicki gave Adrian a Christmas gift. Unable to open the gift at the time, because of being upset from the breakup he placed the unopened gift under the Christmas tree. For years, even after his marriage he place the Christmas gift in its blue crinkly paper under the tree, until his wife finally banned it.

Even though the gift from his childhood sweetheart is not under the tree, Adrian still pauses for a few moments to take a look at the unopened gift every year. Adrian says about this strange tradition, "I kept it initially because I guess I had hopes that we would get back together and open it together. Now it's just become a habit after 47 years of looking at it." He is now thinking that he will open the gift on the 50th anniversary of the gift. (New York Post 12.26.17; and various news venues)

Certainly Adrian Pearce has a strange Christmas tradition! I'm sure his wife will agree with that! Adrian hopes that someone will find Vicki so that she can be at the 50th anniversary of the gift for the long delayed opening. So if anyone knows Vicki tell her to contact Adrian in Canada.

What about you? Do you have a gift awaiting the time when you will finally open it? Too many people have the gift of eternal life sitting unopened in their lives. As I have shared before, one of the saddest things that I sometimes hear when I share my testimony is the response of "I'm not ready yet." Hopefully, they will not wait 50 years, or until it is too late, eternally too late to open the gift. Recently, a man that I had heard those sad words from passed away. Thankfully, a few years after I had shared my testimony with him, he told me that he had opened the gift of eternal life. So glad he didn't wait too long!

Perhaps you have opened the gift of eternal life, but there are other gifts that God has for you that remain unopened? I waited until I was 40 years old before I began to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are still alive, it's not too late to open the gift! Because the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable! Those gifts are still under the tree waiting for you to open them. Will the year 2018 finally be the year you open the gifts of God?

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

01.08.18

Finding Reality

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. - Ephesians 4:17-24 NKJV.

Here is how Danny Hollis Jr. escaped from reality and began his adventure into delusion. This information is from a report made by Lawrence County, Tennessee Sheriff's Department spokesperson Lt. Melinda Brewer. Danny first smoked some "wasp" a mixture of Meth and a crystalized insecticide. Wasp is known to cause psychotic episodes.

Lawrence County deputies responded to a 7pm 911 call about a naked man having broken into a home occupied by a young mother and four children. Once inside the house Hollis then sat down at a table and cut his own throat in front of the family. Lt. Brewer stated: "This man walks in. the family is all in there, minding their own business. He is stripped naked. He says the dog is looking at him. He grabs a knife and he cuts his own throat. He goes up stairs and jumps out a window, after busting his head on the glass of the front door, and he takes off running. He then jumps on the gazebo in the family's back yard. The 35-year-old runs across a field, where deputies finally catch up to him. After he hits his head on the pavement, deputies and EMS were able to secure him. Later, Hollis told deputies that he could not remember anything he did." (WKRN - Nashville 12.22.17)

Why would anyone intentionally mix up a toxic chemical with an illegal drug and then smoke it? Because, their understanding has been darkened, and they are alienated from the life of God. The farther a person travels from the will of God for their life, the more they will try to escape reality.

To find true reality, you must put on the "new man." What is the "new man?" 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." This new creation is the new man. The more that you put off the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; the more you will be renewed in the spirit of your mind. The more you are renewed in the spirit of your mind; the more you will experience the true reality of the new man.

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

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL

12.27.17

Ask for Help

Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. - Psalm 124:8 NKJV.

I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word. - Psalm 119:147 NKJV.

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.

We often hear advice such as if you fall down, get back up, or if life throws you off, get back on the horse. If you do a google search for the phrase "get back on the horse" you will find more than three million results. Recently, talking with a friend I recalled the first time I rode a horse. It was a very short ride!

When I was about eight years old my family was visiting at my Aunt and Uncle's home. They had several horses on their farm; and my two cousins who were older, saddled up horses for them, my sister, and for me. The cousins and my sister did not want me to go with them, but my Aunt and Uncle made them saddle another horse for me. As soon as we were all on our horses the cousins and my sister took off at a gallop, and my horse took off too. My horse, instead of following the others, headed directly for a tree and for a low hanging limb where my ride abruptly ended with me falling to the ground. The horse took off, and there was no way for me to get back on the horse again.

December is the time of the year when many are thrown off the horse of life. Merle Haggard says in one of his songs, "If we make it through December, Everything's gonna be all right." December can be difficult with what should be a joyous Christmas season instead bringing to mind painful memories and failures of the past. In Haggard's song he has been laid off from a job at a factory. Early in my marriage I was laid off three different times from jobs in a year's time. One of those times was just a few days before Christmas. An elderly man recently shared with me about how his Mother had suddenly passed away when he was only ten years old. His parents had already bought the Christmas presents and they were under the tree. This is a sad memory that comes around every year in December. Many have similar memories, or memories of family squabbles that occurred during times when families were together for the holiday.

The point of all of this is that it may not be possible for us to get back on the horse unless we have some help. It's okay to ask for help! It's okay to ask for help from a friend, or from a doctor, or a counselor. And, certainly it is okay to ask for help from God!

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE WRATHER FAMILY!!

2017 began with my preaching at a pastorless church in Elk City, Oklahoma and has continued throughout the year. In May, Jeanie and I became volunteer chaplains at the Baptist Village also in Elk City. The Baptist Village is an assisted living facility. I have a Bible Study there on Tuesdays.

This year we were threatened by a tornado. On May 16th a tornado hit the south part of Elk City causing major damage. We live about seven miles east of there and could see the tornado. At first we thought the tornado was headed directly for us, but it veered toward the northeast and disappeared before it would have hit us. Because of that we now have a new storm shelter in our house! Recently, we discovered an unseen danger that we had a propane leak in our house. Thankfully, the leak has been stopped!

In October, Jeanie had two small strokes which affected her ability to remember names. Much of the loss from the strokes has been recovered although they are still trying to determine the specific cause of the strokes. We know that the strokes could have been far worse than they were.

My writing and sending of devotionals this year has been limited and hopefully will be able to send more in the coming year.

With our Love and Prayers,

Ed, Jeanie and Nick

The Burning Bush Devotional

11.20.17

I Won The Lottery Day

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. O my soul, you have said to the Lord, "You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You. As for the saints who are on the earth, "They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight." - Psalm 16:1-3 NKJV.

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. - Psalm 16:5-6 NKJV.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. - James 1:17 NKJV.

Have you ever won an actual lottery? I've never won an actual lottery. Maybe that's because I've never bought a lottery ticket. Did you know that you don't have to buy a lottery ticket to win a lottery? I once read about a man who won a million dollar lottery who didn't buy a lottery ticket. How did he win it? He found a lottery ticket that was the winner. Had to be a God Thing don't you think?

Marvin Rosales-Martinez in October 2012 was raking leaves on Long Island when he happened to see a lottery ticket in the pile of leaves. Marvin took the ticket home, dried it out, and turned it in. It was a One Million Dollar Win for Life Lottery ticket. Marvin had to wait a year for his money; while lottery officials investigated to make sure the ticket was legitimate, and that no one else would try to claim it. After taxes, Marvin finally received $515,612. (New York Daily News 12.28.13) So, if God actually wants you to win a lottery He can make that happen, even if you don't buy a lottery ticket.

This coming week what holiday are we celebrating? You could say you are celebrating Thanksgiving or you could say you are celebrating "I Won the Lottery Day." You could say that if you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Because, if you know Jesus as your Savior, it is like winning the greatest lottery of all. As David says in Psalm 16:3, "As for the saints (All believers, as believers have been made holy by the blood of Jesus Christ and clothed in His righteousness ) Revelation 19:7-8) who are on the earth, (God says) They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight."

The spiritual reality is that if you have Jesus as your Savior, you already have everything. Every good thing in your life is a gift from your God. Every pleasant place is a gift from him. Every hope that we have for the future is a gift from Him. Because of this believers should have thankful hearts. Having a thankful heart gives meaning to our lives. A thankful heart opens our eyes to the gifts God has given us, and opens the door to His continued blessings in our lives.

Unlike the winnings from a lottery, the blessings of God never end, never run out, and continue for eternity. Because God says about His children, "They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight." We cannot exhaust the goodness and blessings of God. Why? Philippians 4:19 tells us, "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." What does this make you as a believer in Jesus? It means that you are a WINNER!! Let us praise the Name of Jesus this Thanksgiving and every day of our lives forevermore!!

The Burning Bush Devotional

09.13.17

The Love Letter

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.

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. - 1 John 3:16 NKJV.

My first writing effort was a love letter that I wrote in the second or third grade. The letter was very simple and consisted of "Dear ______, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you"filling up the entire page and signing my name at the end. I wrote it and mailed it on a Friday or Saturday. Back then you did not need to know the person's address to send a letter to them. Just the name, and the name of the town and state would usually work. In our little community, just a person's name on an envelope would have been enough.

I was very shy and introverted, and the girl that received the letter was likely surprised by it. Now, to those boys and girls contemplating writing a love letter like that, I would not recommend it. Because people will talk about you behind your back, and laugh at you, and make you feel like a fool (Actually it was kind of a foolish thing to do!). So, after that experience I never wrote another letter like that!

The Good News is that God has written us a love letter, and it is called the Bible. God's love letter is signed with the blood of Jesus Christ who is the Word of God become flesh: "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)." Before the foundation of the world God loved us and knew the ultimate cost of that love would be the cross "just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world"(Ephesians 1:4a). In 1 Peter 1:19-20a we are told, "but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world."

God knew before the foundation of the world that His only begotten Son would die a horrific death on a cruel Roman cross. God knew before the foundation of the world that His only begotten Son would be made fun of, would be spit on, would be beaten and hung upon a tree. God knew that the human beings that He loved so much would kill the Prince of Life (Acts 3:15) but God also knew that Jesus would be raised from the dead.

The Prince of Life God's only begotten Son is knocking at the door of your heart and wants to come in (Revelation 3:20). Will you let Him in, or will you be joined throughout eternity with those shouting "Crucify Him, crucify Him! (John 19:6)?" God loves you, and He has demonstrated that love. God has done all that He can, will you turn from your sins and receive Jesus as your Savior? "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)."

There is only One only begotten Son of God, but how amazing that God wants to make you His adopted son or daughter! How amazing, beyond anything a human being would do! "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 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 (Romans 5:6-8 NKJV)."

The Burning Bush Devotional

09.12.17

The Vision

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.

Have you ever had a vision? I had one once while I was driving to class when I was about 22 years old in 1972. It is the only time that I remember anything like that occurring to me.

Prayer was beginning to move me closer to God. But we still were not attending church, and I still wasn't reading God's Word. Here's how God attempted to obtain my attention. The day had started normally enough. After dropping Jeanie off at work in Oklahoma City (We were now living in Yukon, a suburb of Oklahoma City.), I was on my way to class at Edmond (Another suburb.). On the way, I had the closest thing I have ever had to a vision. It was a vision of a little country church out to the west of Edmond, and of car trouble. In the vision, I could see the church, and somehow knew that I could get help at the little church. Why, I didn't know, as I had never been inside the church; and had only driven by a few times. As I drove into the college parking area, I was finally able to focus my thoughts on the classes ahead.

When my classes were over, and I was ready to head home I thought: "Should I go on the interstate, or cut through the country?" I suddenly remembered my earlier thoughts about car trouble, and decided to take the Edmond Road. As I drove west out of Edmond, I began to think I was becoming paranoid. The car was doing great, no sign of any problem, where had those thoughts about car trouble come from?

The car was still running fine when the engine began to make a noise. Ahead about a mile I could see the little country church (Hopewell Baptist Church aka the Teepee Church at 178th and MacArthur). I thought to myself, "If it doesn't get any worse, I'll try to make it there, I can find help there." The car did make it to the church, but it died right in front of the church, and wouldn't start. I used the phone in the parsonage, and soon a wrecker came to tow my car away. Later, I found out the bolts holding the fan belt pulleys on had broken. Thirty-six dollars and a few days later, the car was good as new, but I would never forget the experience.

Has God ever given you a hint that you ought to be in church and making time in your life for Him? I have no doubt that He gave me one! At the time, I was too far away from God to realize what had happened. I can see clearly now that God was just trying to get my attention, likely in response to many who were praying for us. It took several years and a few more hints, but finally He did have my attention. The regret that I have is that I didn't immediately start attending that little country church on Edmond Road. Life would have been so much better if I had made time for God during those early years of marriage. Fruitfulness for God would have come much sooner.

After I became a pastor and people would have car trouble right in front of our church...I would always think: "God sent me another one!"

The Burning Bush Devotional

09.11.17

The Anchor of the Soul - 2017

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. - Hebrews 6:19-20 NKJV.

In the United States we have now experienced Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma along with many wildfires in the west. Irma also left devastation in the Caribbean. To the south in Mexico there has been a large earthquake. There is also the threat of nuclear war with North Korea. There are potentially many disastrous things that could happen in our lives. For some of us, we may already be caught up in very difficult situations, and wonder whether we will be able to survive. What we need is an "anchor of the soul."

Think for a moment of a ship and the ship's anchor. The ship is tied by cable or chain to a heavy anchor made of metal or other material that rests on the floor of the sea. For the believer, we are not tied to the earth; no, our anchor is as the writer of Hebrews says, our anchor has entered the "Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus... (Hebrews 6:19)." As the High Priest in the Old Testament entered the Holy of Holies behind the veil, our High Priest forever, Jesus, is in Heaven; where He, as He says in John 14, has prepared a place for us. Our soul is tied, not to an anchor at the bottom of the sea, but it is tied to Jesus in Heaven above.

Again think of ships and of their anchors. Think of the chains that tie that tether the ship to the anchor. When I was a boy, my Dad made an anchor for our boat. It consisted of a can filled with concrete and a nylon rope that tied the boat to the can. Probably not the most secure anchorage for a boat. Think of a chain that links a battleship to its anchor. One such chain describes each link in the chain as weighing 120 lbs. and being about three feet in length. Now that is a chain!

The question I think for all of us as we face disasters or the potential for disaster in our lives is this: What is the condition of the tie between us and our anchor of the soul? Is the chain to our anchor a puny little rope that will break whenever a good wind comes along? Or, is it more like the chain of a battleship that connects to its anchor? How strong is the link between you and your anchor of the soul, Jesus Christ? I think you can see that here is where some work needs to be done in each of our lives. We need to have the strongest spiritual chain possible connecting us to the anchor of our soul. How do we do that? What are the nuts and bolts of having that stronger spiritual chain to connect our soul to our anchor?

First, we need the Bible. The Bible is not just a book. It contains the Words of God. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus is the Word which became flesh, "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)." Take a moment to comprehend that. You could say that Jesus consists of the words on the pages of the Bible. If you want to know Jesus, if you want to be more like Jesus, then you need more of those words. But you need to understand that when you read the Bible you are not just gaining information. When you read the Bible you are communing with God. When you read the Bible you are connecting with God. When you read the Bible you are feeding your soul, as Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." When you read the Bible you are connecting your soul to a spiritual IV that infuses LIFE into your soul. Jesus says in John 6:63, "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life."

Second, if you are going to keep from being swept away by the challenges of life, you are going to need a prayer life. Prayer, communication with God, talking with God is an awesome privilege. "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)."

Third, you need to be assembling, meeting with other believers every time you possibly can. "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20)."

It is depressing to think of all the bad things that could happen to our world, to our country, and to ourselves personally. Is that what God would have us to think about all the time? No! Our focus, our thoughts, and our hopes, should be upon the Anchor of our soul. Hebrews 12:3, "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls." Instead of worrying about and thinking about all of the bad things that could happen, or might happen; instead think about Jesus. Read Jesus, the Word of God. Talk to Jesus, pray, pray, and pray some more. And, instead of thinking that you don't need church, go and be where Jesus promises to be in the midst every time believers meet.

You don't have to be swept away by the challenges of life, because you have an anchor for your soul, and His name is Jesus.

The Burning Bush Devotional

07.17.17

Soul Restoration

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. - Psalm 23:1-3 NKJV.

Who is it that needs a restored soul? A person who has had their soul damaged by sin. 1 Peter 2:11 says, "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul." The NIV puts this as: "to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul." Sin is at war with your soul, and seeks to conquer and destroy you.

The early church father, Augustine, had fallen into the degradation of sin before his salvation, he had a damaged soul. Reading the words of Romans 13:14 was key to his turning from sin and to the Lord Jesus. Romans 13:14 says, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." The NIV puts this as: "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh." Augustine put on the Lord Jesus Christ by believing upon Jesus, and it changed his life restoring his soul.

John Newton who wrote the words to the Hymn, Amazing Grace, knew what it was like to have a damaged soul. He knew about the damage of sin from having been a slave trader. You can sense in the words of the hymn, renewal of his soul from degradation to being made new as we are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17. Here are the first words of Amazing Grace:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

Newton describes the shocking difference between a damaged soul, and a soul that has been restored.

King David who wrote the 23rd Psalm knew well what it was like to have a damaged soul. David knew from having committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranging the murder of her husband, Uriah. After having been confronted with his sin by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12), David repented, and we have his confession in Psalm 51.

David, after saying, "He restores my soul," gives the formula for the restoration of a soul. Here it is, "He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." To have a soul restored it is necessary for us to follow the Good Shepherd in the "paths of righteousness." The beginning of that path is to receive Jesus as our personal Savior, but that is just the beginning.

Romans 8:5-6 gives us additional insight: "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." Here we see that if we succumb to the desires of the flesh and engage in sinful behavior the result is "death." It may not be an immediate death, but it will be a death to peace, and in the place of peace we may experience anxiety and fear. It will be a death to the abundant life that Jesus came to give us for as long as we engage in sinful behavior.

Allow the Lord, the Good Shepherd, to restore your soul. Allow Him to lead you in the paths of righteousness where you will find peace and the abundant life.

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.30.17

Still Waters

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. - Psalm 23:1-2 NKJV.

I (Jesus) am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. - John 10:11 NKJV.

For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. - Revelation 7:17 NKJV.

Rushing waters can pose a threat to people and to sheep. Weather dot com gives these facts about rushing water, which indicate how dangerous rushing waters can be:

Water flowing at 7 mph has the equivalent force per unit area as air blowing at EF5 tornado wind speeds.

Water moving at 25 mph has the pressure equivalent of wind blowing at 790 mph, faster than the speed of sound.

Only six inches of rushing water can knock a person off of their feet.

Sheep have a problem with water that people do not have, which is their wool. A sheep knocked over by rushing waters will have their wool rapidly saturated with water making it impossible for them to recover. So it is imperative for a good shepherd to find "still waters" for their flock, but the water had to be clear, of good quality, and could not be rushing water.

The shepherd leading his flock to "green pastures" and "still waters" is a picture of peace and contentment. The shepherd provides for all of the needs of his sheep and they "shall not want." We people sheep not only need to have our needs provided for in "green pastures," but we also need those "still waters." The "still waters" that we need are the living waters (John 4:14) that only our Lord can give us.

The Psalmist speaks two other times of being still:

Psalm 4:4b "Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still."

Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

Of course we remember what our Lord did in Mark 4:39, "Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Peace, be still!' And the wind ceased and there was a great calm."

It is God's will that you have those living waters, those "still waters" to renew your soul each day. In order for that to occur you will need to have a time when you can "be still" to drink of His "living water." When you do that, the Lord will say "Peace, be still!" and He will still the winds and the waves in your life.

Ask the Lord to lead you to those "green pastures" and "still waters" every day.

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.28.17

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.

I (Jesus) am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. - John 10:11 NKJV.

The use of the word "green" in the Bible with few exceptions is usually in the context of something good. While I was growing up on a farm we never had a drought and our pasture never turned brown. The grass was green, the plants were green, and the trees were green. Sadly, a few years ago western Oklahoma went through a sustained several year drought and ponds dried up, lake levels dropped, and pastures could no longer sustain the herds of livestock that they had before. Bales of hay became costly, and scarce, and livestock had to be sold. The pastures were no longer green; they had turned a brownish color no longer containing the life giving nutrients that they had before the drought.

"Green pastures" are a precious blessing for livestock and in King David's time the people knew well the difference a green pasture made. The difference between a green pasture and a brown pasture was the difference between life and death. Sheep and we people sheep are often unable to distinguish between a good pasture and bad pasture. Shepherds would lead their sheep through bad pastures until they reached the best pasture where they could graze from the nutrient filled green grass.

Our "Good Shepherd" like a good shepherd of sheep knows where the "green pastures" are located. To arrive at the "green pastures" in our lives we must closely follow and listen for the voice of our "Good Shepherd." Jesus says, "And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers (John 10:4-5)."

If we want to "lie down in green pastures" with our lives we must acknowledge that the "Good Shepherd" knows more than we do. The "Good Shepherd" can see the future; He knows that at times it may become necessary to move from one green pasture to another. We must listen closely to His voice so we won't be left behind. In order, for us to hear clearly the voice of the "Good Shepherd" we must surrender our plans, dreams, and desires and rely instead upon His plan for our lives knowing it is the best.

Are you following the "Good Shepherd?" Are you living in "green pastures?"

The Burning Bush Devotional

06.26.17

The Good Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. - Psalm 23:1 NKJV.

I (Jesus) am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. - John 10:11 NKJV.

I have often heard that sheep will aimlessly follow other sheep off of a cliff. This literally happened in Turkey in 2005 when about 1,500 sheep followed one another off of a cliff with a drop off of around 90 feet. The first 450 sheep died from the fall with the rest being cushioned somewhat by the sheep that had died from their fall.

We people are much like sheep in that we need a shepherd, a good shepherd, who will keep us from falling off the cliffs of life. King David, knew from his life experiences who that good shepherd was who guided him.

The Biblical analogy of people being like sheep is not a flattering one. Sheep are unable to adequately care for themselves and their ability to survive on their own is very limited. People are much like sheep in that we will at times blindly follow others to our doom. The Peoples Temple cult founded by Jim Jones is an example. The result of blindly following Jones was the murder/suicide of 918 people in Guyana in 1978.

Sheep, however, led by a good shepherd live a peaceful contented life under his protection with all their needs provided. This is how Jesus, the Good Shepherd, wants to care for us.

To be a contented sheep under the care of the Good Shepherd we need to have the mindset of a sheep. A sheep is not constantly thinking about all that it doesn't have. As people sheep we should not be thinking constantly about what we don't have. It may be true that you are not living in the house of your dreams, or that you do not have the perfect job, or the ideal husband, or wife. To be a contented people sheep do not focus on what you don't have. Focus instead on what you do have.

A contented sheep is not focused on possessions. Jesus tells us, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses (Luke 12:15)." Instead, focus on your blessings like the old hymn says, "Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings, see what God has done."

The Good Shepherd is watching out for His sheep, which means that He is taking care of many of the details to bring good into our lives just as Romans 8:28 says. Knowing Jesus as your personal Savior means that you have a Good Shepherd who wants the best for you, and will never ever lead you off of a cliff. Trust Him!

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

04.06.17

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

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

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)."

Copyright © 1998 - 2024. Ed Wrather. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for use of this material on a non-profit basis with source noted.

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