Monday, October 18, 2021

Walking Through the Woods

An atheist was walking through the woods admiring all that the "accident of evolution" had created. "What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!" he said to himself. As he was walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. As he turned to look, he saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charging towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing in on him. He tried to run even faster, so scared that tears were coming to his eyes.

He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer. His heart was pounding frantically as he tried to run even faster, but he tripped and fell to the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up and saw the bear right on top of him, raising his paw to kill him.

At that instant, he cried out "Oh my God!" Just then, time stopped. The bear froze, the forest fell silent, the river stopped moving. A bright light shone upon the man, and a voice came out of the sky saying, "You deny My existence all of these years, teach others I do not exist and credit My creation to a cosmic accident, and now do you expect Me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a Believer?"

The atheist, ever so proud, looked into the light and said, "It would be rather hypocritical to ask to be a Christian after all these years, but could you make the bear a Christian?" "Very well", said the voice. As the light went out, the river ran, and the sounds of the forest continued. The bear put his paw down. Then the bear brought both paws together, bowed his head, and said, "Lord, I thank You for this food which I am about to receive."

author unknown

Monday, October 4, 2021

An Update

The Lord has not put me in a church that I can preach in yet, but He has provided an outlet for me to put sermons into a book format (e-book & paperback). They are located on Amazon which you can find a link to on the publication page. 

Currently, I am working on a few new articles for Christianity.com that should be posted in November. 

On October 13th, I have been asked to provide a devotional for the Men's Meeting at a local church. I pray that the Lord will use me as He sees fit. 

These past two years since my retirement from the Navy have been a bit different to deal with. So, I am asking for anyone that reads this to put me on your prayer list. 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

What Do We Know About the Ark, Is There Only One?

The First Ark.

No doubt many people have heard about The Ark. But what is The Ark, really? Is it more than the Old Testament story about a man who built a boat and put a bunch of animals on it before a great flood? What is or was the purpose of The Ark? We will take a few moments to go back and see what we can find out about The Ark.

In the book of Genesis, chapter 6, we find the first account of The Ark. Man began to multiply, sin began to overcome the earth. God noticed that the wickedness of man was great, and every imaginable evil though was on the minds of man. This grieved the Lord, and he said that he would destroy man.

However, by verse 8 we see that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Noah was a just man and he walked with God. can the same be said about any of us in today’s society? Have we found grace in the Lord’s eyes? Are we just and walk with God daily?

God told Noah that man had become evil and that he would destroy man, but Noah had a job to do. Genesis 6:14, Make thee an ark… God gives Noah directions on what to use and how to build The Ark. The same can be said for us today. God has given us directions on what to do and how to do it, but how many of us have actually paid attention and are following those directions?

Genesis 6:18, But with thee will I establish my covenant... God has made a covenant with man and all creatures. This covenant is an agreement, an assurance the God would provide for man.

By chapter 8, the rain has fell, the flood waters have risen and covered the earth. With the exception of Noah and his immediate family, and the animals that were brought aboard The Ark, all of mankind and living things on the earth have perished in the flood. The Ark finally came to rest upon dry land, and Noah and his family and all the animals from The Ark walked out to restart man-kinds existence.

So, what does this story tell us about The Ark? It was designed by God to provide protection for a just man and his family, as well as for the animals that would repopulate the earth. It was sealed by the Lord (Genesis 7:16).

 

 

The Second Ark.

In Exodus, Chapter 25 through 31, God gives bearings for building the Tabernacle. Chapters 35 through 39 tell how these guidelines were done. In any case, what can every one of these old, development details show us today? In the first place, the superior quality of the valuable materials making up the Tabernacle shows God's significance and greatness. Second, the shroud encompassing the Most Holy Place shows God's moral flawlessness as represented by his detachment from the unclean and common. Third, the portability of the Tabernacle show's God's desire to always be with the Israelites as they journeyed.

Exodus 25:8, And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

In Exodus 25:10, instructions are given on the making of The Ark. In most of the contents of the Tabernacle, including The Ark and the furniture, was made from the shittim wood, which is customarily known as acacia wood. The acacia tree was extremely hard which made for sturdy and magnificent furniture. Exodus 37:1-16, describes the actual building of The Ark.

The tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, were place within The Ark. The Ark was intended to be an image of the presence of God amidst the Israelites. The lid was alluded to as the "Mercy Seat". Every year a priest would enter the holy tent and sprinkle blood from a sacrificial creature to offer penance for the transgressions of Israel. This old-style covenant on the Day of Atonement is no longer required as Jesus Christ became the new covenant when he sacrificed himself upon the cross was an expiation for our sins and transgressions.

God would come to the Ark when the priests were there. Because of the holy nature of the Ark, it had to be carried with poles. No one could touch the place where God’s presence is. Why is that? God himself and his glory cannot be touched by sinful man.  Only if the Holy Spirit resides within us can we even come near to the Throne of Grace.

In Joshua 3:1-17, the nation of Israel needed to cross the Jordan River. Joshua commanded the people that when they saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord being carried by the Levite priests, they were to follow it. In verse 5 the people were told to “Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you”.

In First Samuel 4, there is a war with the Philistines, and the Philistines capture The Ark. The Israelites appropriately perceived the sacredness of the Ark; however, they thought the actual Ark, the metal and wood box, was the wellspring of power. They started to utilize The Ark as a ‘Good Luck Charm'. They anticipated that it should shield them from their foes. An image of God does not ensure his essence and power. Their disposition toward the Ark came dangerously near that of idol worship. When the Ark was taken by their adversaries, they felt that Israel's magnificence was gone (1 Samuel 4:19-22) and that God had abandoned them (1 Samuel 7:1-2). God utilizes his power as per his insight and will.

In Samuel chapters 5-6, the Philistines took the Ark before their false god because they had thought that they had beat the God of Israel, but each morning their idol had fallen down upon its face. Their priests were plagued with tumors. So, they decided to return the Ark back to the Israelites. People died just for looking at it.

Eventually, king David took the Ark back to Jerusalem (First Chronicles 13). During the journey, the oxen had stumbled, and a man put his hand upon the Ark to steady it, but in doing so he died. Later in Second Chronicles 5, Solomon had dedicated the rebuilt Temple, and The Ark was transferred into the Temple.

 

Is There a Third Ark?

Some may think of the baby Moses in a basket as a third Ark. At that time, the Pharaoh had commanded that the first-born male child to be killed throughout the land. Moses’ mother tried to find a way to save her newborn son. She knew that the Pharaoh’s daughter often came to the river to bathe, so to save her son, she placed him in a basket of reeds and placed him on the river. The Pharaoh’s daughter found him, knowing that death would come to him and having no children of her own, decided to save the child and bring him up as her own.

Although the story of baby Moses is a good one, and yes it could possibly typify God’s grace, however, I believe that there IS a third Ark, however, it is not made with wood.

Joel 2:32, And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

Acts 2:21, And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 8:37, And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Romans 10:13, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Revelation 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

 

Many would allude to this as the Sinner’s Prayer. Just saying the words does not make it so. It is believing with all of your being, believing on the person of Christ, believing on the work of Jesus and what he has done for all of humanity. It is by faith that makes us the children of God (Acts 3:26; Galatians 3:26). We are justified by faith (Romans 5:1; Galatians 2:6). By grace are we saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17).

When we have accepted Christ as our personal Savior, the Holy Spirit moves within us.  So, does it not stand to reason that if Christ dwells in the hearts of every Christian believer, are we not therefore an Ark that carries the Spirit of Christ? What do you think?

 

 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

A Kind Word

This just might make you stop and think. You never know what a kind word, a phone call, or an impromptu visit will do for someone else.


Just imagine a cold Sunday winter day. The church parking lot was slowly filling up. As a visitor was getting out of his car, he noticed some church members were whispering among themselves as they walked toward the church. As the visitor got closer, he saw a man leaned up against the wall outside the church. He was almost lying down as if he was asleep. He had on a long trench coat that was almost in shreds. The hat on his head was pulled down so that his face was not exposed. His shoes were worn and looked as if they were 30 years old, with his toes poking out of them. The visitor assumed that the man was homeless and asleep, so he walked on by through the doors of the church.

The people gathered to fellowship for a moment in the foyer of the church, when someone mentioned the man outside. Some snickered and some gossiped but no one bothered to ask him to come in. A few moments passed and the service began. The congregation proceeded with comments regarding the whereabouts of the pastor when suddenly the church doors opened. 

In walked the homeless man, proceeding down the aisle with his head down. Some people gasped as he walked by, some whispered with strange looks upon their faces. The man made his way down the aisle and up to the pulpit, where he took off his coat and hat. You could have heard a pin drop. There stood the pastor. He took his Bible and laid it on the pulpit.

"Folks, I don't think I have to tell you what I am preaching about today," he said. "Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan, but I have a question that we all should ask ourselves," he continued, "How to get to know your neighbor"?


How do we let God's light shine in our lives? Did you know that there are some people like this and that there are some churches like this? They have become so HOLY that they cannot reach out to people in need. I like to call it, Being so heavenly minded that they're no earthly good.

God may send someone like this into your life. Be careful how you react. You could be entertaining angels unaware (Hebrews 13:2). There could be a blessing in disguise just for you. What will your response be?

Thursday, September 16, 2021

COMMISSIONED

 Isaiah 6:1-13


Isaiah's perspective on God in the initial four verses gives us a feeling of God's significance, power, and mystery. Isaiah's case of perceiving his sin before God urges us to admit our own wrongdoings.


The image of absolution, that Isaiah gives, advises us that we are pardoned as well. At the point when we perceive how incredible God is, how guilty we are, and the degree of His absolution, we get the strength to accomplish His work. How does our idea of the significance of God match Isaiah's?


In verses 1-4:

The seraphim are angelic beings made by God. This is the only spot in the Bible where they are referenced. Here they work as God's operators in commissioning Isaiah. Isaiah could comprehend them when they addressed him and when they praised God. Since they drifted above God's throne, they may have been God’s attendants. They were striking and amazing creatures, and their singing shook the Temple.


Revelation 4:8 – And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.


Psalm 72:19 – And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.


In verse 5 – The Common Man:

To be common is to be unclean, unworthy, no hope, sinful, deceitful, low in ranking, impure, and/or guilty. Listening in to the recognition of the holy messengers, Isaiah acknowledges he was common and unclean before God, with no hope for matching God's standard of blessedness. Were we not all common before accepting Christ as our personal Savior? Are our lives so important that we are to be placed upon some high pedestal above all other people?


Luke 5:8 – When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.


Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;


Romans 3:10 – As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:


In verses 6-7 – The Cleansed Man:

To be set apart, free from blemish, rid of corruption & impurities, or free of guilt. At the point when his lips were contacted with a burning coal, he was informed that his sins were pardoned. It was not the coal that purged him, yet God. Were any of us holy before we met God? Were we not all dirty with sin? Are any of us still stained with sin? Should we not seek cleansing?


Isaiah 40:2 – Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins.


Jeremiah 1:9 – Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.


1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from our sins.


What can wash away my sins, nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again, nothing but the blood of Jesus. Oh, precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow. No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.


In verse 8 – The Called Man:

To be summoned, an invitation, a command, or a divine vocation. Accordingly, he submitted himself altogether to the service of God. Regardless of how troublesome his assignment would be, he stated, 'here am I, send me'. The difficult purifying procedure was vital before Isaiah could satisfy the undertaking to which God was calling him. Has God called us for a purpose, to do a task, to do a specific job? Have we acknowledged that calling? Have we responded to that calling?


Exodus 3:10-12 – Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.


Matthew 13:14 – And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:


Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


Before we acknowledge God's call to represent Him to people around us, we should be purged as Isaiah was. Letting God decontaminate us might be excruciating; however, we should be refined with the goal that we can genuinely be a spokesperson for God, who is holy and pure.


In verse 11 – The Continual Man:

To be constant, perpetual, unfailing repetition to endure. How long must I endure? How long must I work? We are to continually work until the task is complete. Have we gotten lazy and quit working? Have we given up? Have we said to ourselves that the job is too hard? Do we have the strength and the fortitude to continue? If not, then why not? Have we asked Christ to give us the strength? Have we not asked for His guidance?


Leviticus 26:31 – And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.


Jeremiah 4:29 – The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein.


Jeremiah 5:21 – Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:


Acts 6:4 – But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.


God disclosed to Isaiah that the individuals would listen, yet they would not learn from his message on the grounds that their hearts had hardened past repenting. God's understanding with their incessant resistance was at long last depleted, and his judgment was to desert them to their wickedness. For what reason did God send Isaiah if He knew the individuals wouldn't listen?


Although the country itself would not apologize and would harvest judgment; a few people would listen. In verse 13, God clarifies His plan for a remainder of steadfast followers. Indeed, even in judgment God is kind. We can attain consolation from God's promise to save His people. If we are dedicated to Him, we can make certain of His benevolence.


When might people listen to God? Simply after they had reached the end and had no place to turn yet to God. This would happen when the land was wrecked by attacking armed forces and the people taken into imprisonment. The 'tenth' alludes either to the people who stayed in the land after captivity, or the people who came back from Babylon to rebuild the land. Each gathering was about a tenth of the total populace. When will we listen to God speak to us? Must we experience disasters before we will listen to God's words like to Judah? Consider what God might be saying to you and obey Him before it is too late.


Trust and obey, for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

A COUNTRY PREACHER PREACHING IN THE CITY

 Amos 7:14-15


The affluent people of Israel were enjoying their life of luxury and prosperity. They had become careless, complacent, mistreating poor people, and selling them into servitude. Before long, Israel would be vanquished by Assyria, and the rich would become slaves. Then in walks a God-called man from a small country town, prophesying judgment, and preaching repentance.


The Prophet Amos

Amos was a common countryman, a sheepherder, and a sycamore tree gardener. He was undoubtedly content with tending to his flock and working in the sycamore orchard. This type of sycamore was of the fig variety, a common food staple in the area. (Amos 1:1, 7:14). He originated from working with long-haired sheep to the very much prepped goats of the city. He originated from a position of agriculture to a position in culture.


I can imagine the high society people looking down their noses at the country preacher because I see it in churches today. It is a shame that some churches will not hear a preacher if he does not have a plethora of letters behind his name.

This was during the time of Jeroboam II, king of Israel, and Uzziah, king of Judah. He answered the call from God to deliver a message to the surrounding nations of Judah and to Israel and Judah as well. He was a courageous spiritual statesman, not a priest or politician. In a sense, you could say he was a traveling minister.


The Prophecy of Amos

In Chapters 1 & 2, he gives announcements for the surrounding nations, each start with "Thus saith the Lord". He states the punishment for the transgressions of Damascus, Gaza, Tyrus, Edom, Ammon, Moab, then to Judah and Israel.


In Chapters 3-6, he gives the reasons why God would bring the judgments to the children of Israel. Amos grieves for Israel and how God detests Israel's pride. The three discourses begin with "Hear this word".


In Chapters 7-9, there are five visions. The motivation behind the visons is to strengthen the truth that the anticipated judgment could not be turned away.


The Preaching of Amos

Amos’ preaching announced the coming judgment as "The Lord will roar from Zion" (Amos 1:2) and "The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord hath spoken, who can but prophesy" (Amos 3:8). As a lion roars its warning, there is no escaping from God.


Amos saw the union of justice and righteousness in daily life, which was a burden to him that Israel did not see or have. He understood the sovereignty of God and viewed God dealing out punishment according to disobedience. Amos preached that the Day of the Lord would be a day of darkness and not the unconditional guarantee of security to God’s elect as the Israelites believed.


Amos also preached that privilege indicates responsibility. As God’s chosen, the Israelites assumed that their prosperity meant having God’s favor, but they were accountable for their inward as well as their outward actions. Amos' most annihilating judgment was focused on the hard negligence for the rights and necessities of others, as the persecuted poor.


But hope was to come. "Seek ye me, and ye shall live" (Amos 5:4), "seek the Lord, and ye shall live" (Amos 5:6), repentance and deliverance were still there (Amos 5:15), and restoration (Amos 9:11-12).


The hope that Amos preached about was fulfilled in Christ. What applied back then still applies today.

EVANGELISM

 2 Kings 4:8-37


This is the story of how Elisha restores a child to life. What does it have to do with evangelism? Simple, someone needed to hear the Word from God, and so God sent someone out.


In verses 8-11

A Shunammite woman realizes a man of God which passes by continually. He was an evangelist, out spreading the Word of God. The woman sensed a need for the traveling prophet, so out of kindness she had prepared a room for him to use while he was there for his journey. I would think it was similar to a Bed & Breakfast or like the new AirBnB’s.


Many years ago, when true evangelism was going through our nation, there were many believers that had a spare room in their home, which they called the ‘prophet’s chamber’. I remember those days when a visiting preacher would stay in church members home during a revival week. That way the visiting preacher didn’t have to pay for a hotel room nor meals.

How often do we offer assistance to those that pass by in our lives that may need some type of assistance? What has happened to the old-time revivals with visiting ministers? Where are they now?

  • 1 John 3:17,  But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

In verses 12-19

Sometime later, Elisha tells his servant to bring the Shunammite woman to him. It appears that the prophet wanted to repay her and her husband for their kindness. She was asked was there anything that she was in need of. Elisha’s servant told him that she was without child. Elisha tells her that she would have a son. This is very similar to the case of Sara and Abraham in Genesis.

  • Genesis 18:14, Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

Time passes and she gave birth. Time passes again, and the child goes out to help his father but unfortunately, he was ill and died. Why? We don’t know. What we do know is that an answered prayer has a tragic outcome.


In verses 20-25

The woman had faith. She did not blame nor curse God. She lays her deceased child on the bed of the man of God. We’re unsure why this is but we could presume that she began to have belief in the God that Elisha served. The passage doesn’t say anything about her praying to God, just that she tells her husband that she is going to search for the man of God that had been there at their home. She had confidence that he could be restored.


The woman broke tradition. It was not the new moon of the sabbath. She got out of the normal rituals. How often do we get ourselves stuck in the same routine? ‘We’ve always done it this way’. Times may come when we need to change from our old habits or rituals. God doesn’t change but we may need to so that we can reach others.


In verses 26 -30

The man of God had compassion for others. He sent his servant to inquire about her and her family. He didn’t know about her current situation, he just remembered her and her family. Do we have true compassion for others in the world?

When she got to the man of God, Elisha, she fell at his feet. Elisha’s servant was about to move her, but Elisha stopped him. Elisha was unsure of her reason to be there. He states that ‘the Lord had hidden it from him’. She seems angry and asks him why did he deceive her? Elisha tells his servant to go to the child and place his staff on the child’s head.

  • Exodus 7:19, And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of woord, and in vessels of stone.
  • Exodus 14:16, But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

The woman said she would not leave Elisha. So, the man of God went to where the issue was. There are times we need to get out and go. It’s more important to go to the problem. Don’t sit back and wait for others or for the problem to come to us.


In verses 31-37

Elisha’s servant got there first and did as instructed. However, the child did not wake up. The condition was recognized, and the man of God was not defeated by failure. Not his failure but the failure of the world. Elisha knew the objective, went into the inner chamber, and prayed to be endued with power. Elisha cried to God in faith and belief. Maybe Elisha saw the similarities between this situation and the one Elijah was in.

  • 1 Kings 17:19, And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
  • 1 Kings 17:21, And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again.

Prayers do get answered. Maybe not in the way we want, but in accordance with God’s will. The action that followed the prayer was that the child came to life. Elisha, in faith, had called unto God and the child was restored. We can only imagine the woman’s response.

  • 1 Kings 17:24, And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.

There is a need for us to be alive as well. Don’t be a dead servant. Do not settle for anything except life. There is life in Christ. We need to show true concern for others as we share the Gospel. Those who take the life of Christ to a dead world must do so with deep conviction and in fervent prayer. Those dead in sin come to life when they come in contact with Christ.


Walking Through the Woods

An atheist was walking through the woods admiring all that the "accident of evolution" had created. "What majestic trees! Wha...