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

DEVOTIONAL OF THE DAY

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.

I Believe in Love

By Ed Wrather

(Originally sent by email in 2016)

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. - 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV.

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. - 1 John 4:8 NKJV.

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. - 1 John 4:16 NKJV.

I confess, I watched the Super Bowl last night (In 2016) including the half-time show. I watched as dancers gyrated on a stage in the shape of a cross. In the stadium seats the words were spelled out “I Believe in Love." The love being exhibited on the Super Bowl stage appeared to me to be a sacrilegious everything goes kind of love being offered on a worldly altar.

The Super Bowl half-time show reminded me of the golden calf incident in Exodus 32. While Moses was on the Mount Sinai receiving the Law from God, the people down below, had turned away from the One true God. An idol was made, which the people worshipped instead of the true God. But it was worse than that. Aaron made the gold calf and an altar. "Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play (Exodus 32:6)." 

The word "play" indicates unrestrained sexual immorality as Exodus 32:25 says, "When Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies)." The Super Bowl half-time show appeared to portray a modern version of the incident; although muted somewhat, in order to be broadcast into our homes.

I believe in love, but not the kind of love portrayed by the Super Bowl half-time show. I believe in the kind of love defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." 

The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is further defined by 1 John 4:8 and 16, "God is love." 

I believe in the God of love who "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16)." 

I believe in the God of love who "demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)."

Let us reject the worldly Super Bowl half-time definition of love; and instead, embrace true love from the only true God, who gave Himself to save us from our sins. "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18)."

Reject the world, and embrace the God of true love!

The Love Letter

By Ed Wrather

(Devotional of the Day 02.12.24. Originally sent by email in 2017)

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).”
 

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