FEBRUARY 13, 2021
In my morning devotions, I started reading Matthew 4, but I couldn’t get past the first part of the sentence in verse 1: “The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert, …”
I’ve read this many times over the years, but I saw something different this time—Jesus was there for the purpose explained at the end of verse 1, “so that the devil could tempt him.” Or we might say “seduce” him.
This was not a random journey into the desert. The Holy Trinity orchestrated it. The FATHER sent the SON who was led by the HOLY SPIRIT. This was a fierce temptation. It was to be a battle that Jesus couldn’t conquer alone. Jesus was armed for victory with the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, enabling him to refuse every offering from Satan.
When we experience ‘the dark night of the soul’ or spiritual depression for ourselves, consider that we might be there for the purpose of overcoming a temptation from the devil to dethrone Christ as first in our lives.
“Nothing would be more catastrophic than God allowing us to go our own way with no hope of turning back to Him.” Waiting on God by Cherie Hill
With Valentine’s Day coming up, I’m going to post a ‘love’ quote each day for the next month.
February 14, 2020
“Oh, if it be to chose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my valentine.” Thomas Hood
February 13, 2020
“Love just doesn’t sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven
February 12, 2020
Love means nothing in tennis, but it’s everything in life.” Unknown
February 11, 2020
“A heart that loves is always young.” Greek Proverb
February 10, 2020
“Paradise is always where love dwells.” Jean Paul Richter
February 9, 2020
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
February 8, 2020
“This is the true measure of love: When we believe that we alone can love, that no one could ever have loved so before us, and that no one will ever love in the same way after us.” Johann von Wolfgang Goethe
February 7, 2020
“It is better to lose your pride with someone you love rather than lose that someone you love with your useless pride.” John Ruskin
February 6, 2020
“Colpo di Fulmine. The thunderbolt, as the Italians call it. When love strikes someone like lightning, so powerful and intense it can’t be denied. It’s beautiful and messy, cracking their chest open and spilling their soul out for the world to see. It turns a person inside out, and there’s no going back from it. Once a thunderbolt hits, your life is irrevocably changed.” J. M. Darhower, Sempre
February 5, 2020
“Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.” Henry Kissinger
February 4, 2020
“What barrier is there that love cannot break?” Mahatma Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments With Truth
February 3, 2020
“Being with you and not being with you is the only way I have to measure time.” Jorge Luis Borges
February 2, 2020
“I‘m not here because I’m supposed to be here, or because I’m trapped here, but because I’d rather be with you than anywhere else in the world.” Richard Back, A Bridge Across Forever: A True Love Story
February 1, 2020
“Love is an illness without a remedy.” Unknown
January 31, 2020
“Know love. Know happiness. No love. No happiness.” Unknown
January 30, 2020
“I think we should live happily ever after.” Diana Wynn Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle
January 29, 2020
“What barrier is there that love cannot break?” Mahatma Gandhi, The Story of My Experience with Truth
January 28, 2020
“Love cannot be forced, love cannot be coaxed or teased. It comes out of heaven, unasked and unsought.” Pearl S. Buck
January 27, 2020
It’s not being in love that makes me happy. It’s being in love with YOU. Unknown
January 26, 2020
“How do you spell ‘love’?” “You don’t spell it…you feel it.” A. A. Milne
January 25, 2020
“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Song of Solomon
January 24, 2020
“In love, one and one are one.” John-Paul Sartre
January 23, 2020
“He felt that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know when he ended and she began.” Leo Tolstoy
January 22, 2020
“I know from experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.” E. M. Forrester, A Room With a View
January 21, 2020
“There is no remedy for love but to love more.” Henry David Thoreau
January 20, 2020
“My love has no strings attached. I love you for free.” Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker
January 19, 2020
“Never love someone who treats you like you’re ordinary.” Oscar Wilde
January 18, 2020
“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature when words become superfluous.” Ingrid Bergman
January 17, 2020
“A true man does not need to romance a different girl every night, a true man romances the same girl for the rest of her life.” Ana Alas
January 16, 2020
“I cannot tell you if I loved you the first moment I saw you, or if it was the second or third or fourth. But I remember the first moment I looked at you walking toward me and realized that somehow the rest of the world seemed to vanish when I was with you.” Cassandra Claire, Clockwork Prince
January 15, 2020
“If I had a flower every time I thought of you. . .I could walk through my garden forever.” Alfred Lord Tennyson
January 14, 2020
“Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Wind, Sand and Stars
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December 3, 2019
“I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122 KJV).
I received a phone call from an official in our church who said he had a surprise for me when I got to church Sunday. So, the next couple of days I thought and wondered what it could be. It added an excitement when I thought of attending church on that day.
Before the time came to actually get into my car and head out, our opening verse came to my mind. The psalmist said he was glad when someone invited him to church. He went with an air of expectancy. Not a blessing from an individual, but he looked forward to an enrichment from the Lord. We should be aware that the Lord has special encouragement for us when we go into his house. Let’s go to the Lord’s house with hearts and ears wide open to receive what he’s prepared for us.
November 10, 2019
“As Jesus and his disciples were going into Bethesda, some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch the man. Jesus took him by the hand and led him out of the village, where he spit into the man’s eyes. He placed his hands on the blind man and asked him if he could see anything. The man looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees walking around. Once again Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes, and this time the man stared. His eyes were healed, and he saw everything clearly” (Mark 8:22-25 CEV).
Jesus met this blind man. He, naturally, wanted to see and asked for help that Jesus gladly gave. But it wasn’t quite that simple, and I have always wondered why. The first time Jesus touched the man’s eyes his vision wasn’t perfect, but the change was significant. He was no longer in darkness. The first touch let in the light. It may have given him the same effect that we get when we look at our Christmas tree lights through squinted eyes. If so, it would be beautiful. Great for special effects, but not very good for day-to-day living. “I see men as trees walking,” he told Jesus. The blind man wanted more.
As we wander through the woods of this world, do we see men as trees walking? Do we dare ask Jesus for another touch? He will touch us again. Then we will see faces: young faces etched too early with guilt and pain; eyes crying out for answers; mouths hardened by bitter experiences; hands reaching out for someone to lead them to solid ground. If we blunder through our own woods in a happy haze, we will bump into these ‘men as trees walking.’ But without another touch from Jesus, we cannot see their needs. And we many never pass this way again.
October 15, 2019
OUT OF CONTROL
Did you wake up wondering what the next doctor’s appointment was going to reveal? how you’d meet the next large, looming expense? how your loved ones would overcome obstacles in their lives? if your loved ones would look to prayer and the Word for their answers? Is your backbone no longer holding you up!!
C. S. Lewis penned the following:
“If you wake up feeling fragile remember that God is not, and then trust Him to be everything you need for that day.”
June 28, 2019
The disciples knew how to fish; they made their living doing it. Jesus gave them a higher calling. I read in the Contemporary English version of Mark 1:17, “…I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish.” Jesus knew that they would need instructions, so he gave them a three-year course. He doesn’t expect us to “know how”, so he tells us “I will teach you.” If we open our minds, we can expect to be taught throughout our lifetime; we can’t point others to God on our own. We need to be shown the way, daily, by his Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It’s too big a task to accept on our own.
May 3, 2019
Ask, Search, Knock
I was reading Matthew 7:7-9 from the Contemporary English version, and I especially liked the “door will be opened for everyone” which I changed in my thoughts to the “door will be opened for me.” We do have to knock, but I don’t think we have to pound on the door until our knuckles are bruised nor do we have to rattle the door knob. We may have come to the door too weak to rap loudly. I think a light tap will do. The door will be opened for us, an open invitation to walk into what God has for us in the next room.
April 11, 2019
Is our Good Friday an ‘X-Rated Presentation?
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 KJV).
So now the entertainment industry is forced to rate their programs. We must not envision this as a step toward God; Man again attempts to save himself and his children by his own abilities. By association, they expect to produce a ‘G-rated’ generation.
Let’s check our rating:
On Explicit Sexual Content. Are we graphic enough in depicting Satan’s rape of this world? Do we water down the picture of lives left empty by sin: families plundered; purity ravaged; minds burned out from alcohol and drugs?
On Violence. Is our scene at the cross rendered bloodless? Do we present a hatred with enough vengeance to cause Jesus such a cruel death on the cross? Is flesh being torn by whips and thorns, hands and feet nailed through; side ripped open after death? Do we present enough of the true storyline to stir up sincere repentance for the ultimate abuse of an innocent for our guilt?
That is an ‘X-rated’ Good Friday. But Sunday is coming, and it is ‘G-rated.’ But our ‘G’ stands for glory!
March 25, 2019 (Guest contributor, Rev. H. Wayne Hunter)
For all Christian churches, Easter Week is a reminder of our identity. More than anything else, the events and nature of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus define who we are. It is our call to know and to serve Jesus.
But Good Friday and Easter bring us back to the simple truth that we are His. Jesus Christ defines, describes, and decrees who we are, what we do, where we go, what we become. Great comfort and great anticipation pour forth in us as we remember and claim this heritage.
The cross and the resurrection: our foundations. Fancy methods or complex theology tempt us off center. Our society courts the sophisticated, coos over the powerful, and compliments the impressive. Christ, an empty tomb and a nail-scarred Lord. Maybe it’s not very sophisticated by society’s standard; maybe it’s not very impressive, but nothing comes close to it for a message of hope. We have nothing to apologize for, no excuses are necessary. This Easter message says all we need, all we believe, all we hope. Like Paul, may we determine to know and to preach Christ only and Him crucified.
March 11, 2019
March is upon us. Let’s think about Easter coming.
Peck! Peck! Who’s There?
During the Easter Season when my boys were little, we loved to go to Shillito’s Department Store in downtown Cincinnati. New clothes held no interest for them, but the display of live bunnies and baby chicks tinted pastel pink, green, or blue captivated them. The decorated glass incubator held their attention for as long as they were allowed to stay. Eggs in various stages of hatching celebrated new birth at Easter time.
Tiny chicks grew inside their bubble homes that provided for their every need. But, eventually, they became hampered inside the restrictive oval. Little wings couldn’t flap and tiny legs couldn’t stretch. And what was that? Were there noises that they should investigate? Was there another world outside to explore? Curiously, they pecked. When the light seeped through the cracks, there was no turning back.
Outside the shell for the first time, they wobbled just a bit. The light was bright, but it illuminated many new things. Little balls of yellow fluff soon darted here and there, black-eyed and alert. New things to taste. New chick relations.
This Easter Season let’s come out of our darkened shells. God’s new light on our pathways may be blinding at first but think of the new things it will enable us to see. We may have to hunt for our sustenance, but somewhere out there are mustard seeds of faith, grains of truth, and hidden pearls. Buried? Yes, but if we scratch gravel, we can uncover them.
February 25, 2019
We Saw Lots of Water, and We Shouted, “I Wanna be a Duck”
Our pastor likened building a church in a new community to the children of Israel coming up to cross the Red Sea. God WILL make a way: He may ask us to wade across through murky water; He may prepare a dry path from bank to bank; or He could make us all ducks.
Wading through water, even if it never gets over shoulder high, could require great care. We could step on something! A muddy bottom would pull at our feet. A rocky bottom could cause us to stumble.
A dry path is a possibility. But that presupposed the water to be over my head. And the walls of water on either side would have to be held back as I rushed over.
Ducks go from dry land to water without a moment’s hesitation. God must have told them that the water would buoy them up as they paddled forward. It is just another surface on which to travel.
No one would build a moat around a flock of ducks!
February 14, 2019
I’m Their Leader—Which Way Did They Go
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24 NIV).
We have all seen the baseball-type caps with two bills: Often they have printed on them: “I’m their leader, which way did they go?” Leaders don’t stray ever from the path; unfortunately, it’s the pack that scatters to follow trails that seem right to them, chasing the tantalizing aroma of self-interest.
Listen to a line from a song that rings out loudly from the CD player in our van as we go along. “Find out what God is doing and get in the middle of it.” What an exciting concept!
God is always leading on the right path. It’s up to us to recognize His way. Then we jump in. What a formula for success.
Perhaps only a few will experience the burning bush, but we can all follow the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, reaching the same goal together.
He doesn’t ask everyone to withstand parched deserts, stand up to kings, receive tablets of stone, or shape a loose-traveling band into a force with which to be reckoned. But we can all escape Egypt, gather manna, take down tents, dine of quail, herd animals, and hold up the hands of our leaders.
Sing out with us, “Find out what God is doing and get in the middle of it!”
January 17, 2019
God Does Not Redline Plans!
It is our best: thoroughly researched, neatly presented, on-time, mistake-free, and to the best of our ability. We’re on a roll for 2019.
Oops. The work comes back to us severely marked up. It was our best, but our plan was full of errors. Why? Perhaps because we couldn’t peek around the veil of tomorrow where the real solution lay. God’s vantage point.
The more that I read on prayer, one thing is becoming clear: God does not help us. He does it for us. Asking the Lord to help us may mean that we have a plan for which we need an assistant. He is not an assistant: God is in charge. We don’t submit a proposal which He redlines and returns. We can throw away our bumper stickers that read, “The Lord helps those who help themselves!”
Ask, and ye shall receive–not suggest, and I’ll concur.
Seek, and ye shall find–not fumble around until I tell you that you are warm.
Knock, and it shall be opened–not ring the doorbell and leave before it can be answered.
God loves us too much to play games with us. He has a plan for each of our lives, from childhood through old age. We are unable to dream high enough to envision what He can see for us. Our ideas aren’t lofty enough. If it’s you and God, the most exciting place to be is in second place.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…’” (Isaiah 30:15a NIV).
January 1, 2019
The 9 in 2019
When I was a young child, a favorite activity was to do “numbers” with my aunt. She would give me little arithmetic problems to solve, and then I would give her my hardest ones. My problems to her were always filled with 9’s—strings of 9’s to add up, rows of 9’s to multiply or divide. She always smiled and did them with ease.
Since then, I have discovered that some of the problems in my life contain too many 9’s. Often I have rubbed a hole in my paper with my eraser, and I have broken lots of pencil lead.
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally…, and it will be given to him” (NKJ).
This works. Solomon asked God for wisdom. The Queen of Sheba “came to test him with hard questions” 1 Kings 10:1b NKJ). The story continues by saying, “…Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing so difficult for the king that he could not explain to her” (1 Kings 10:3 NKJ).
We don’t rule over all that Solomon did, but the number-9 decisions in our 2019 will need God’s wisdom just the same.
However, we can be assured that if we put our problems containing number 9’s in our year 2019 before God, He will solve them with His wisdom. Who knows, he might even carry the burdens numbered 1 through 8 for us.
December 22. 2018
Away in a Manager, no crib for a bed
This Christmas Season how many times did you sing, “Away in a Manager?” “Away in a Manager” is probably the first song we teach to our children.
What? Did I spell ‘manger’ wrong? Well, I have a friend who says it isn’t a very smart person who can’t spell a word at least two ways.
Okay. Baby Jesus was born in a m-a-n-g-e-r. He didn’t stay there, although many try to keep him there. Manger to manager—just put an ‘a’ in the middle. ‘A’ is for Almighty, Alpha; A is for I Am.
With an ‘a’ in the center of the manger, we can see the Christ Child sent as the Heavenly Manager. God sent His Son to earth to start at the bottom, learning firsthand the business of redeeming fallen humanity.
He will mingle with them. He must mix with them. He must explain the Father’s Plan to them, a benefit package without equal: vast expanses of white harvest fields offering job security, a chance to invest in incorruptible treasure in Heaven, and by His stripes, we are healed.
The retirement plan provides mansions beside streets of gold, glorified bodies, renewed strength, and exciting activities tailored for the individual.
He walked on earth day by day, making notes to share when He returned to the right hand of His Father. He grew the earthly kingdom successfully, then integrated it with the Heavenly One.
Look at his resume. He is experience and qualified. Read the Kingdom Prospectus: it is everlasting to everlasting. But he wants to be our manager. He wants to lead us to a successful merger into His Eternal Enterprise.
‘A’ is for Amen. “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22.20b KJV).
December 16, 2018
The Joy of Being a Teenager
Mary was a very young girl when the angel told her that she was to be the mother of our Lord. We shouldn’t wonder that such responsibility would be put on the shoulders of a young person.
Besides the fact that it was the custom of the day for girls to marry very young, there seems to be another reason. She was pure of body, but she was also pure of mind. Her mind had not had time to be filled with the doubts of adulthood. Adult brains seem to have the ability to grow a hearty crop of uncertainties, whether or not they get harvested.
Remember Sarah? She wasn’t a virgin, but it was equally as impossible by the laws of nature that she should have a child. She had served God for at least three times longer than little Mary had lived. She should have had a more developed faith. Right? But what did she do when she was told that she was to have a child? She laughed.
And there was Zechariah. When he was told that he and his wife were to have a son, he disbelieved. And he was a priest even! Again, he was much older than little Mary.
Mary’s receptive mind was still throbbing from the lesson that a young woman of Israel would be the mother of the Messiah. To Mary, it was not a “once upon a time,” but it was “in the fullness of time.” She could believe that it was to be as the angel had said. And she could believe that it could be now. She felt no disbelief, just a curiosity as to how it could be.
And Mary said” “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty one has done great things for me—holy is his name” (Luke 1:46-49 NIV).
God, the Father, just held out His arms to His child and said, “jump.” And, without hesitation, Mary jumped.
November 23, 2019
“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. . ..” Psalms 1:3 NIV).
Have You Seen the Leaves?
Leaves in our valley have been especially colorful this year. A friend told me that his mother said it was because of all the rain that we’ve had. I don’t know how this works, but it must. Maybe all the dirt is washed off! Maybe the rain loosens the watercolors hardened at the roots. Whatever happens, it is beautiful to behold. You pick the colors.
And these trees don’t care where they are. They stand with their limbs lifted heavenward, each little leaf like a banner fluttering to God’s Glory. It doesn’t matter if they are in a magnificent row marching up a curved drive or clustered artistically around a public building. They stand firm with purpose.
One lingers most in my mind. A hard maple, well-shaped, electrically charged, vibrant against its background. It had denied its green to take on new colors.. Its location was not a public or well-kept site. It stood in front of an old, weathered shack, glowing like heaven’s porchlight.
Let’s glow where we are. God has planted each of us where He knew we would thrive. Let’s absorb the rain of His Spirit and witness to all around us.
GO DOWN A LITTLE BIT FURTHER
This week as I was reading a devotional book, Jeremiah 33:3 was pointed out. I guess I was ready for it, because it came alive: “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
The exciting part was “ . . .things you do not know.” God has so much to show us that we do not know. Why are we willing to continue to leave tracks in familiar territory? Are we only comfortable when the ground shows signs where others have walked? We read, “Call to Me, and I will answer. . .”. Then we stop. Is it because we only want what we ask for? Are we willing to risk finding out things we have never known before? Will this put too much responsibility on us?
Jeremiah 33 starts out with a wonderful promise. If we continue to read on through the chapter, God gives an example that we can use to strengthen our faith.
Verses 25 and 26b, “This is what the Lord says: If I have not established my covenant with day and night, and the fixed laws of heaven and earth then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant. . .”
When was the last time you witnessed God not keeping His promise to bring light to the day? Darkness to the night? We are now experiencing fall emerging from summer just as it did last year. If God unwaveringly keeps His covenant with the creation of His hand, how much more will He attend to the covenants He makes with the creation of His heart.
June 28, 2018