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

DEVOTIONAL OF THE DAY

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2001

09.21.21

When Two Agree

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

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

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

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

(2021 Update: The church that my Uncle became a member of was Fairview Baptist Church in Elk City, Oklahoma. It is the same church where I am now the pastor. My Uncle passed away soon after our visit.)

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2001

09.20.21

Trouble

Yet man is born to trouble. - Job 5:7a.

Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. - Job 14:1.

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

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

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

Even the apostle Paul had his share of problems (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). If Paul had problems, you can be sure that every Christian is going to have problems as well. But the difference between the child of God and the non-Christian is that God promises to go with us through the problems of life. The Psalmist says, "God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in the time of trouble (Psalm 46:1)." Jesus says in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

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

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2001

09.15.21

Little Known Dangers

But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy. - 2 Chronicles 36:16.

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

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

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

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

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2001

09.14.21

Name Above All Names

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:9-11.

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." - Luke 10:17.

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

Every two or three years we see news reports of someone in a crisis situation using the name of Jesus in order to survive. Sometimes they are in out of the way places and do not even make it to the national media. In December 2000 I cut out an article of such an incident which occurred in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

Barbara Rhodes, the owner of Bobbie's Outlet Store in Ardmore suddenly came face to face with a robber pointing a gun at her. Barbara's response was to say, "I rebuke you in the name of Jesus." Several times the robber demanded her purse. Each time Barbara responded, "I rebuke you in the name of Jesus." The gun at one point made a click as if he had tried to fire it. Barbara laid the magazine she was holding onto the counter and started walking toward the door. The man fled.

Why did he leave? Barbara says, "It was the Lord that made him take off."

"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus... (Colossians 3:17)."

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2001

09.13.21

Symbol of America

2021 UPDATE: I wrote this two days after 9/11 - 09.13.01. America is being tested again with the pandemic the past year and a half which continues. We are being tested with the Afghanistan disaster and the leaving of Americans behind, Afgans who helped our troops left behind, our allies left behind, leaving women and children to the mercy of savages, and the arming of a terrorist regime with $85 billion dollars worth of the latest weaponry.

The morality of the country has continued to decline. Two of the most recent things that come to mind are with the Evangelical Lutheran Church installing a transgender bishop and Harvard University having a chaplain that is an atheist. Just the latest of a very long list of the downward spiral of morality in the United States.

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. - 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The World Trade Center Towers were in many ways a symbol of the United States of America. The Towers represented the strength and financial power of the USA. They were very visible symbols towering above the skyline of the New York City metropolis. How could those powerful towers ever fall? The United States was invincible. Nothing could shake the foundations of those towers or of this country. Sadly, we know the towers have fallen and those who make up the USA are being tested once again.

As a symbol of America what has happened to those towers is a symbol of what has happened to this country. God has removed his protection and blessing from us as a country. Why? Because the majority of the people in America no longer have a fear of God. The majority of the people in America no longer want God's blessings. The majority of the people in this country have been growing further and further away from God. There are more people in America living lives of degeneracy and immorality than there were in Sodom and Gomorrah. It is not really a surprise that God has removed His blessing and protection from us.

Let us turn again to our God. Let us awake from how complacency. We must not deceive ourselves into thinking that we are invincible. Only through the power of God has this country been blessed and protected. If this country is to turn again to God, this is the time. Tomorrow may be too late. The attacks upon this country are like the preaching of Jonah to Nineveh. God told Nineveh through Jonah, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" It may not be forty days but America will be overthrown if we do not turn to God in repentance. Even the wicked Ninevites turned to God, and they were spared from the destruction.

We have seen reports of prayer vigils across this country since the attack occurred. Last night was a time when a large number of churches have regularly scheduled prayer meetings. I was disappointed to see a handful of people come to our prayer meeting. We have scheduled prayer meetings and held prayer meetings all across this country. But how many people have actually attended those meetings? We must turn to God before it is too late. Will you humble yourself, pray, seek the face of God and turn from your wicked ways? If you will, God promises to hear, forgive and to heal our land.

Please pray for those who are still trapped but alive in the rubble of the World Trade Center Buildings and the Pentagon. Please pray for the strength and safety of the rescue workers.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2001

09.10.21

Strong Towers

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. - Proverbs 18:10.

We are still in shock and horrified after the destruction of the terrorist attacks upon the United States yesterday. The World Trade Center had already withstood one terrorist attack in 1993. Who would have thought that those towers could have so quickly been destroyed?

Yesterday, I listened to two architects who discussed the construction of the World Trade Center towers. According to them the towers were designed to withstand the crash of a Boeing 707. What the towers were not designed for was the crash of a plane still loaded with most of the jet fuel. The steel had been treated to withstand fires of paper and wood but not the thousand-degree prolonged fire of jet fuel. The buildings withstood the initial crashes well but could not withstand the extreme heat, which caused the steel to lose strength and collapse.

According to the architects it would be possible for a building to be built with the steel coated in such a way that would enable it to even withstand the jet fuel fires which caused so much destruction yesterday. However, even if the World Trade Center Towers were to be rebuilt to be resistant to jet fuel fires they could still be destroyed. They could be destroyed through atomic attack or even by an earthquake. The fact is that there is not a building that man can build that cannot be destroyed in some way. There is no place completely safe in this world from every kind of danger or enemy.

There is only one place of ultimate safety for the human race. That place of safety is a Strong Tower not made with human hands. That place of safety is the Strong Tower of the Lord. The only way of entry is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Let us run to the Strong Tower of our Lord.

Personal Note Concerning Events of September 11, 2001: I had been at the church praying and had just walked back over to the parsonage when I started watching the news this morning just in time to be shocked to see the second plane crash into the World Trade Center. That was just the first of many shocks this day has held so far as I watched with horror the events that have unfolded. Once again we have been forced to take our minds off of our little petty problems and think of the agony of life and death. We pray for those who are still alive but trapped. We pray for those who have been injured but struggling to survive. We pray for those whose loved ones have been killed or injured. Let us look to our Lord during this time. Isaiah 26:3 comes to mind. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee." - Ed Wrather 09-11-01.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2003

09.09.21

Wavering

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 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 10:19-25.

In the United Kingdom, one of their largest power generating stations was virtually shut down because of a chimney problem. An old, unused chimney smokestack started swaying in the high winds. A spokesperson said of the situation at that point, "Only the most essential staff are at the plant, we are carrying out a risk assessment." 150 of the plant’s 200 employees were sent home during the crisis. But thankfully, after the winds died down the chimney had stabilized by the next day and the plant was again operating under normal conditions.

The writer of Hebrews is speaking to Christians when he says, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering...." It seems there was some wavering going on in the early church much like a chimneystack wavering in a high wind. In our modern culture, and a world of increasing danger, it appears that there is more and more of the wavering going on. We think, will there be another terrorist attack? Will they detonate a dirty bomb in our country? Or, do they have a suitcase nuclear device? Or, will it be a biological attack using smallpox before we can all be vaccinated? Maybe it will be anthrax? Maybe it will be VX gas or some other deadly chemical agent that they will use? Others of us are more worried about our financial situation, and whether we will be able to continue putting food on the table. Others are concerned about their health situation, which is growing worse.

There is a multitude of winds blowing against our lives. There are the winds of drug abuse and the winds of lust. Some of the winds threaten to blow us apart, and it seems like we are being assaulted by a tornado or a hurricane. But whatever it is, it is not that much different than some of the storms the early Christians faced. The writer of Hebrews assures them and us that, "He who promised is faithful." We must remind ourselves that we are no longer what we once were but have, "boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us...." He is faithful, and we may come to Him boldly through the blood of our Savior. He who has saved us has the power to hold us, sustain us, and keep our wavering faith standing even through these storms, which keep coming upon us.

The "day" is approaching when our Lord will return and surely that "day" is closer now than ever before. As we see the "day" approaching let us stand through His faithfulness provoking, encouraging and loving one another "and so much the more!"

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2003

09.08.21

Your Mission

For we are God's fellow workers.... - 1 Corinthians 3:9.

Over the past several days (in 2003) we have mourned the loss of the Columbia astronauts. They were all brilliant and courageous with so much more to offer in service to the world if they had lived. The commitment and dedication of those astronauts is an inspiration to all who aspire to greater service. Their mission of conquering and learning more about space, which included expanding all human knowledge, was a part of every aspect of their lives. Their mission was a continual focus moving them forward to greater heights. Sunday morning CNN newscaster Paula Zahn spoke with awe about their "devotion to the mission" and their "sense of discipline."

It may be that in the background of our thoughts we are thinking if we had such a great mission, we too would have devotion to the mission and great discipline in achieving that mission. But the fact is that every child of God, every Christian has a great mission. In many respects our mission, your mission, is a greater mission than that of the shuttle astronauts. No, you are not going out into space to go boldly where no human has gone before. No, you have a greater mission. Eternal destinies hang in the balance and your "devotion to the mission" and your "sense of discipline." will make the difference.

What is your mission? It is an amazing thing. We are to join God Himself in His work! We are to follow the example of Jesus who said, "the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel (John 5:19-20)." We are to look to where the Father is working and join Him in that work. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians makes it clear that we are co-laborers with God when he writes to the Corinthians, "For we are God’s fellow workers (1 Corinthians 3:9a)." Paul was a fellow worker in Christ and often greeted others such as Priscilla and Aquila in that way.

After the resurrection of Jesus and before He ascended to Heaven He left some last important instructions to his followers. "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 (Matthew 28:18-20)." Those instructions, actually commands, are still in effect for us today. That is your mission. And, God has not changed His mind.

Will you join God in this great mission? Will you blaze the trails so that others will follow in the future? Will you have great devotion, courage, and discipline in fulfilling the mission that God has given to you? Look around and you will see that your Father is at work and is calling you to join in this great work of eternal purpose. Remember the great example of devotion to mission and discipline that the shuttle astronauts have given you and move forward in the power of God (Acts 1:8) to complete your mission.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2003

09.07.21

Suddenly

(2021 update: We have all been shocked by the sudden appearance of the covid-19 virus and now we have been shocked by what has suddenly happened and is happening in Afghanistan. This devotional is about coping with those sudden interruptions in our lives whether they are bad or good.)

My son, let them not depart from your eyes - keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; For the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught. - Proverbs 3:21-16.

Police radios echoed with a strange alert in Espelkamp, Germany one afternoon, "Be on the lookout for a wild boar wanted in connection with a breaking and entering and felonious assault. The boar is of medium stature and build." An older German couple had their afternoon nap rudely and suddenly interrupted by a wild boar, which crashed into their apartment building through a glass door, and then rammed its way into the couple's apartment. The boar left a trail of blood behind while exploring the apartment, before finally jumping into bed with the couple. The boar bit the man, and then fled the scene of the crime. Ute Bort, spokeswoman for the police department said, "The boar expended considerable criminal energy in committing this act." Thankfully, the man was not seriously injured by the attack.

Many things good and bad occur suddenly in our lives. The couple in Germany were certainly shocked to find a wild boar in bed with them as would any of us. We were shocked yesterday (in 2003) to have a small tornado hit the school in our community. Thankfully, only one person in a mobile home near the school was injured, and he has been released from the hospital. Tornadoes have a tendency to follow a similar path, and I have been told many times about a tornado that hit the school in the past. The tornado, which hit the school years ago, struck as the superintendent was taking a shower, and it blew the roof off his house. It must have been a shock!

Good things also happen suddenly and often unexpectedly. When God speaks and tells you about His call upon your life, for example. When it happens, how you respond, will define the rest of your life. It was a great shock for Moses, at 80 years of age, to encounter a bush that did not burn. It must have been a shock for Noah, to learn that there would be a great flood and that he would be the one to build a boat to save the remnant of mankind. Abraham must have been shocked, when he heard the voice of God call him to leave his civilized country and go to a place he had never been. Jonah was not only shocked, but offended, when God called him to that wicked country of Nineveh. The disciples of Jesus must have been shocked at their call, but they all followed.

God, through the writer of Proverbs, tells how to handle sudden changes, whether they are good or bad. "Keep sound wisdom and discretion." He is talking about the wisdom and discretion that can only come from God. If we are walking closely with God, reading His Word, praying daily in a meaningful way, assembling regularly with other believers, and seeking to serve God as He directs; then we will be ready to respond rightly.

The response we make to sudden changes in our lives will define the remainder of our lives. If we are walking with God, we will not be afraid, but will have His "confidence" as we move forward in the assurance of His power. We will then have "life" no matter what life brings our way.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2003

09.03.21

Mistaken Identity

Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?" Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?" - Luke 24:13-18.

Have you ever said "hello" to someone thinking they were a certain person, but they were not? It creates one of those embarrassing moments! Some people are so kind that they never say a word and only later you suddenly remember that they were not the person you thought they were. However, mistaken identity can be a quite serious matter. Nona Cason found out exactly how serious when she was mistaken for a fugitive from France (Nadine Tretiakoff) who had kidnapped her children from their father. Not only was Nona misidentified but the children were also misidentified as being the children of Pierre Fourcade. Pierre stood only three feet from Nona in court and swore that she was Nadine Tretiakoff.

Even though Nona had birth certificates, passports, and other records to prove she and her children were not fugitives she was still held in jail for six nights. The children were placed in state custody during the ordeal. She was finally released, along with her children, after DNA tests revealed that the children were not related to Fourcade. Cason said as to the reason for the misidentification, "Apparently, I look like this other woman."

On the road to Emmaus two disciples of Jesus make a misidentification. They assume the man that has joined them in their travel is a stranger from another area. The disciples almost miss out completely on this resurrection appearance of Jesus. But finally, when, "He sat at the table with them...took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight (Luke 24:30-31)." It was then that they remembered, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us (Luke 24:32)?"

If Jesus were to knock on your door - would you recognize Him? While you are in church assembled with other believers would you recognize His Voice if He were to speak to your heart? The disciples on the road to Emmaus were not expecting Jesus to join them in their travel. But He did. How many times do we spend time in prayer alone and with others not really expecting to hear God speak? How many times do we sit singing in church and never really expect God to speak? How many times do we daydream through sermons not expecting God to have anything to say to us? How many times do we sit through invitations hoping all those other people will respond because we think, "God wasn't speaking to me?"

Could it be that we have misidentified that still, small voice as being our conscience, or a bad memory, or just heartburn when really Jesus has decided to travel with us for a while along our way? What blessings have we missed out on because we have assumed that God would never speak to us? The next time that voice in your heart speaks remember it could very well be the Voice of God.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2003

09.02.21

The Immovable Principle

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

Matthew Layman had a little problem with the Law, as in the 10 Commandments. He was driving while intoxicated and rammed his car into a monument to the 10 Commandments in Fremont, Nebraska. He received a jail sentence of 60 days in jail, a fine of $400.00, and his driver's license was suspended for six months.

Even though, we are under grace (Romans 6:14; Hebrews 8:6) and not the Law, the Law cannot be ignored. Salvation is not found through obedience to the Law ("Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law." - Hebrews 8:6). Yes, we can be forgiven when we sin and violate one of the Ten Commandments, or other admonitions of morality contained in the Bible (1 John 1:9). However, there will still be consequences for our actions, because the "wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)." Ignoring God’s commandments are like driving your car into a stone monument - it is going to hurt! If we lie, steal, or commit adultery we will eventually encounter problems, and those problems will be painful.

Obedience to God's moral principles will not bring salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5), but it will spare us from many problems. Obedience to God's moral principles will not necessarily bring His blessings, but will make our lives better, and in many cases easier.

Have you been having problem after problem? It could be that you have been crashing into an immovable object - God's Laws. God's moral principles are still in effect, and to ignore them is to invite disaster.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2003

08.30.21

Hold Your Horses!

Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD! - Psalm 27:11-14.

In Kansas, a while back, the cities of Lawrence and Dodge City experienced runaways. In Lawrence, the stagecoach, which they use as a tourist attraction, crashed when the horse pulling the stage veered into a ditch. In Dodge City, a horse pulling the stage slipped; and when it got up it was frightened and took off like a runaway. As a result, the stage slammed into a parked car, overturned, and injured five passengers. They should have held their horses.

Horses have a tendency to do the unexpected, even those that have been around people for years. My great-grandmother's nephew was killed, and his father injured when the horses pulling their wagon took off, and control was lost of them. "Hold your horses" used to be a term with serious meaning. Whoever was holding on to the horses had control, and it meant the difference sometimes, between life and death. Sometime in the 1800s "hold your horses" began appearing in print in reference to humans. As applied to people, "hold your horses"means to "be patient and wait."

When you read the word "wait"in the Bible; God is saying, "hold your horses!" When God says to wait, it is serious business. King Saul found out the hard way that to launch out when God says, "wait" can be very costly. In fact, it cost him the kingdom (1 Samuel 13), which God then gave to an unknown shepherd boy named David.

An example of what can happen when you are obedient to the Lord's command to wait, can be seen with the disciples, just after the ascension of Christ. In Acts 1:4 we read, "And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father...." They waited and we know what happened! "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit...(Acts 2:1-3a)." They waited, and the Holy Spirit came upon them, empowering them to be the Lord's witnesses as He had promised (Acts 1:8). On the day of Pentecost alone, about 3,000 people came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:41).

When God says to "wait" there is always a good reason. When God says to "wait" it will always be to your benefit. When God says to "wait" it will always be better later. "Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!" It may be that God is saying, "Hold your horses." It may be hard to do, but it is a very important, and at times courageous thing to do. So, "hold your horses!"

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2003

08.27.21

Facing Fear - Absolute Faith

This devotional was written in 2003 just before the "shock and awe" attack on Iraq. It was also a time when the SARS virus was beginning to become a worldwide problem.

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.

Today there is another reason for fear, in addition to the approach of war, and the increased likelihood of terrorism; health experts suspect there is a new disease stalking humanity. The new disease is now known only as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). At least ten people have died from the illness, and many more are ill with symptoms of SARS. With the rapidity of world travel, diseases can spread at frightening speed, and SARS has struck with deadliness in mainland China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Canada. Some are also ill with the disease in Singapore, and there are suspected cases in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The disease is similar to pneumonia, beginning with a high fever and dry cough, which may lead to breathing difficulties.

Does God care when we experience fear? Yes! Reassurances from God are plentiful throughout the Scriptures. Peter writes, "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)." But the greatest statement of God's concern, and care for you, is found in the sacrifice of His Son on the cross for your sins (John 3:16). You should never doubt that God loves you, and cares for you. His direction to you in the midst of fearful, and terrifying circumstances will always be, "Fear not." Why? Because God answers, "I am with you."

I read just this morning about a missionary who was wounded in Yemen, and his three fellow missionaries who were killed. The wounded missionary spoke of the moment he knew he could not escape from the gunman. He knew he would be shot, but he spoke of the peace that surrounded him, as he faced the possibility of death. That peace stayed with him, even after being shot twice, and he was still facing the possibility of death.

King David knew what it was like to stare death in the face, as King Saul hunted him like an animal. David writes, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (Psalm 23:4a)." Why does David not fear death? Why does he not fear evil, and all that could happen to him? "For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4b)."

I cannot imagine what it would be like to be living in Iraq at this moment, knowing that a massive assault will soon begin just as it did during 1991. Knowing also, that it is being said the bombardment will be more ferocious than it was before. The only thing I have to relate to something like that is being in the path of a tornado. Hearing the tornado sirens go off and seeing on the radar that a tornado is headed for you but having nowhere to hide except in a closet has given me great fear. It is a fearful thing, and only God can bring you peace and assurance during such times. Only God provides the possibility of your being spared destruction.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the golden image set up by king Nebuchadnezzar, they faced death in a fiery furnace. The answer of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is the answer that we need to give, and believe, whenever we face fear "our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18)." They had an absolute faith that no matter what happened, life or death, they would still trust in their God. That is the faith we must have as we face the fearful things of the 21st Century.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2003

08.26.21

Facing Fear - With Fear

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth. O LORD, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! - Habakkuk 3:1-2a.

When I heard, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops. - Habakkuk 3:16.

How would you react, if you were a believer living in a country that would soon be attacked by a powerful force, knowing there would be no escape? Habakkuk responded with fear when he understood the Lord's message, because the force attacking Judah to deliver God's judgment, would be the Chaldeans. It was difficult for Habakkuk to understand why God would use the Chaldeans, because they were a wicked, and cruel people. Habakkuk's fear was understandable in such a circumstance.

Habakkuk pleaded with God to "remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:2b)." He then reminds himself, and God, of the mighty acts of rescue that God has performed in the past for His people (Habakkuk 3). God is the mighty Deliverer. In chapter 2 of Habakkuk states what holds him together through his fear, "Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith (Habakkuk 2:4)." Yes, Habakkuk is fearful of what the Chaldeans will do to Judah, but his fear, his respect, his reverence; his faith in his God, is much greater.

What are we to do, when faced with fearful, alarming circumstances? We should first remind ourselves of Whom really has the ultimate power. The One, with the ultimate power and capability, is not a physical enemy that we may face on this earth. The One, with the ultimate power and capability, is God Himself. To God alone, will someday every knee bow, and tongue confess (Philippians 2:10-11). Our faith in the One, with the ultimate power, gives us strength to move forward through whatever may come our way. Habakkuk is just one of countless millions who can testify to this spiritual fact.

What fear, what danger, and what threat are you facing? Is it greater than your God? Strengthen yourself in the Lord your God. Live by your faith in the One, who is greater than all others. Your reverence for Him, will empower you to face whatever you may encounter in life.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2003

08.25.21

Life Goes On

This devotional was written back in 2003 as an Easter devotional during the Iraq war. I believe it has an important message for us now with the situation in Afghanistan and the pandemic. But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.' Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there…. - John 20:11-14a.

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. - John 20:18.

USA Today reports that "Life Goes On In The USA." Apparently life also goes on in Iraq. Ordinary people still go about their lives coping with the normal challenges of living life each day. Even in the midst of war people are still people. Some on both sides fear for the safety of loved ones who will be fighting in the battle. Some on both sides wonder how they will go on if something does happen to their loved ones. But life will continue to go on.

This is a war unlike any other in our ability to see live photos. From those photos, and videos we see vehicles moving across the desert. We can also see that vehicles are moving around in Baghdad and even see people walking on the roadways. The people in Baghdad have fear from the possibility of bombs and missiles raining down upon them from above. But still, they must continue to live life. In the USA there is a fear of terrorism and the possibility of bombings, chemical, biological, or even some form of nuclear attack. But still, we must continue to live life, because life goes on.

Even when terrible things are happening or have the potential of happening life requires for the most part taking care of some things. Except for some unusual periods we must continue to eat and drink. We must at some point continue to sleep at least for some period of time. There are the mundane requirements of making a living and the necessity of a job or some way to have an income. The income is necessary for most of us to be able to pay the bills and have at least the necessities for life. Life goes on.

After the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, life was still going on. Funeral arrangements had to be made along with preparation of the body for burial. Some of the disciples returned to making a living being the fishermen that they had been most of their lives before being called by Jesus to follow Him.

How did the followers of Jesus break out of the depression and defeat they were experiencing to really live life? Life was going on for them, but they were just going through the motions, they were not really living life. The difference came when they realized and truly comprehended that life did not just go on in the physical existence that they could see and feel in this world. The difference came when they realized that life really did go on - life would go on eternally. When Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection their lives changed forever.

The words of Jesus now had new meaning as they remembered and realized the truth of what He had said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him, who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment but has passed from death into life (John 5:24)." It is time for us too to hear, really hear the words of Jesus. Life does go on. Let us realize and comprehend that life goes on eternally and that life begins and should be lived starting here on this earth no matter what may be happening around us.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2003

08.24.21

Hope and Vision

This devotional was written during the war in Iraq but I believe it still has a very important message.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope. - 1 Timothy 1:1.

Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. - Acts 26:18-20.

Retired military officers and planners have been stating over and over again that "hope is not a plan." They say this in regard to the hope that large numbers of enemy forces would surrender, mutiny, or fade away into the desert. They also say the same thing about the "hope" that Iraqi civilians will rise up against the current Iraqi regime making an assault in the streets of Baghdad, and Basra unnecessary. The phrase "hope is not a plan" is apparently a favorite saying of military planners along with "Imagination is not a strategy."

The apostle Paul prior to his encounter with the risen Christ was a rising star among the Pharisees. He was "circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless (Philippians 3:5-6)." Paul had the very best of training that was available as he says, "I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women (Acts 22:3-4)."

The Pharisees had a plan for ridding their world of the plague of Christianity. Their plan was to use their best man, Saul, to lead the attack against those of the "Way." They would begin in Jerusalem and follow the tentacles of this belief wherever it might lead. Their strategy was to use their political power as cover for their ruthless and brutal attack, which would include putting even women and children into prison and executions of those who opposed them.

The plan and strategy of the Pharisees was working well. The Christians who were vocal in their beliefs had been dispersed from Jerusalem and had spread even to Damascus. Saul in carrying out the next step of the plan for eradication of Christianity proceeded with following the believers to Damascus. He fully intended to continue the Pharisee’s strategy of brutality to destroy all who believed in this Jesus called the Christ. There was only one thing wrong with their plan and strategy. The more they persecuted the Christians the further those of "the Way" spread.

For the Christian, "hope" is more than a plan - it is a way of life and "vision" is more than a strategy - it is a driving force. Saul who became the apostle Paul traded in his zeal of persecution and brutalization for hope and vision. Paul through his personal encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus came to have "hope." With Paul's encounter of Jesus came the realization and understanding that this world is not all that there is and that Jesus represented the entire eternal world beyond the physical. Hope of what was to come became Paul's way of life as he lived his life in view of what were the eternal realities. The "heavenly vision" became the driving force changing not only his life but the lives of countless others as Paul preached, taught, and lived the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In order to truly live the Christian life we too must have "hope." We must have our own encounter with the risen Christ (Romans 10:13; John 1:12; Revelation 3:20; John 5:24; John 14:6) and when we do we will understand with Paul that there is an eternal dimension to life. We will then understand that there is so much more to life than what we can see with our eyes. Our own "heavenly vision" will drive us forward in love and service to our Lord.

THE BURNING BUSH DEVOTIONAL
Classic from 2003

08.23.21

The Heavy Pile

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:7.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30.

I do love books but maybe not as much as a teacher in Croatia. DK is a 60-year-old math teacher living in Zagreb. DK's wife had been in the hospital, and she became concerned that he had not been to visit her in three days. She called their neighbors who then heard "muffled groans" coming from the apartment. The police found DK trapped under a pile of books in his bedroom. Which makes one wonder how many books it took to trap him?

Most likely you are not trapped under a pile of books and never will be, but it may be that something else has you trapped. Are you trapped under a pile of problems? Worries? Concerns? Anxieties? Pain? Heartache? Have your burdens slowed your life to a standstill? Are you having more and more difficulty just taking care of the normal daily routines of life? It may be that you have been trapped under a pile of life’s burdens.

Notice when Jesus says for those who are heavy ladened to come to Him that he does not condemn them. He also does not offer a lecture about how foolish it was for them to become so burdened. What Jesus does is offer relief. He offers to lighten your load and it is free! There are no strings except that of having Jesus as a traveling companion along life’s road. Without Jesus there can be no relief but with Him the burden is transferred to Him. Why would Jesus be willing to do this? Because as the apostle Peter notes "He cares for you." You may have never cared for God but He still "cares for you."

Is the pile of worries and problems growing larger and larger and more and more likely to fall? Has the pile of worries and problems fallen on you and the weight is pressing you further and further down? Call to Jesus and ask Him to lighten your load. Cast your cares and burdens upon Him and He will give you rest.

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.



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