Welcome to the March Archive. You are welcome to read the entire archive, or find a topic on the list below that is of interest to you. Just click the link, and you will be taken directly to the day it was written. Enjoy, and may you know God's peace as you read His Word.
When writing, I used the New International Version of the Bible. Due to copyright restrictions, I have not included quotes for the scriptures, but highly encourage you to open your own bibles to read the scripture passages for yourselves.
A WORD FOR TODAY, March 2000
March 1, 2000
Daffodils England is called “The Garden of the World”, for good reason. There are always flowers. Since the climate is rather temperate, never staying very cold for extended periods of time; flowers can survive throughout the winter. Many gardens are filled with the colour of pansies and other flowers year round. Once spring begins to arrive, the wildflowers begin to bloom, and the whole countryside is filled with colour. First come the daffodils. They are blooming now, their delightful yellow heads bobbing in the wind everywhere. Hillsides are covered with yellow. Soon, other wild flowers will be in bloom – red poppies, purple lilacs and other flowers of white, yellow and purple. It is a beautiful reminder of God’s presence.
Winter can be such a difficult time, particularly in places where the weather is harsh. The snow, rain and gloomy skies keep people penned up in shelter. The sun does not shine and the trees are bare. The cold weather brings with it flu and depression. In the midst of this, it is difficult to remember that spring is right around the corner.
Then the sun shines one day. You notice the daffodils popping their sprouts above the hard earth and you realize spring is coming. Your step becomes lighter; your mood becomes brighter.
Read Proverbs 15:3
When we are in the midst of the shadowy valleys of winter, when friends seem to be distant or we are in the midst of the trials of life, it is difficult to remember that God is everywhere. We do not see the daffodil bulbs lying in wait under the earth in the midst of winter, and we do not see God’s presence when we are lonely, angry or depressed.
Yet, God is ever present, watching everything and everyone, guiding the footsteps of those that listen and obey. Today, look at the daffodils and remember that God is there even if you do not see Him. He waits for His time and way to appear before you, to bring you out of the misery of winter into the newness of spring. He sees you, loves you and will touch you this day in some way to make your loneliness, anger and depression go away. Thanks be to God.
Dr. Seuss “Do you like Green Eggs and Ham?” “I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham.”
Theodore Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, wrote these infamous words. Dr. Seuss was born on March 2, 1904. Today we are celebrating the utter foolishness written by this man. This literature that seems to have no reason within has made an incredible contribution to the education of our children.
Children love to sit and listen to Dr. Seuss books because they have fun pictures, interesting characters and exciting stories. The catchy rhythms catch the attention of the children and draw them into the stories. The repetition helps them to learn to read the simple words and patterns used. The stories, though they seem silly, are filled with life lessons which help the children learn and grow. In Green Eggs and Ham, Sam-I-am convinces his friend to try something new. After fifty pages of certain disgust at the thought of eating green eggs and ham, the gentleman discovers that he likes them.
That which seems like foolishness is filled with wisdom.
Read 1 Corinthians 1:20-25
In today’s world, so much of the Christian message is viewed as foolishness. We are called to submit to God, and yet the world claims there is no God. We are called to love our neighbor, and yet the world says that we should love our selves. The Gospel tells us that God in flesh died so that we might have life. What foolishness! Yet, God is wiser and more powerful than anything we can imagine, and we know that He loved His children so much that He did everything necessary to reconcile us to Him. I’ll take Dr. Seuss above a grammar book and God’s foolishness above my wisdom, any day!
Tomatoes I have not had a decent tomato in years. I recall, in the days of my youth, the tomato plants my dad grew in our garden. The plants were well cared for and the tomatoes were picked at just the right moment. They were deep red, sweet and yummy. Daddy gave them the right amount of care and the normal course of growth with sunshine and rain brought them to the perfect ripeness. They were not removed from the plant until they were ready to be eaten.
That kind of tomato can not be produced on a large farm. There are too many other factors to consider when harvesting the fruit. Since the tomatoes are generally shipped via a large truck, they cannot be too ripe or the ones that are on the bottom of the huge pile will be destroyed. The farmer needs to make the best use of his time to produce the largest amount of fruit he can. He sends his field hands out in the field to pick the crop when the largest number of tomatoes is at the right stage. There is an expectation that the fruit will continue to ripen throughout the distribution process. But there is nothing like a tomato that is ripened on the vine.
Read Colossians 1:9-14
We are called to be fruitful witnesses to the Word of God in our lives, however God does not pick that fruit before its time. He carefully cultivates each of us making sure we have the right amount of sunshine and rain. He trims the dead branches and the weeds around us, lifts up our branches from the ground when the burden of the fruit becomes heavy. Then, at the right moment, He takes our fruit and it is given to the world for His praise and Glory. He is the Master Gardener, giving all of us the care we need to produce a large crop of good fruit. Thanks be to God.
Hands On Vicki’s class went on a field trip yesterday. We went to London to visit the Science Museum. This museum is five stories high and covers an area equivalent to about half a city block. We wandered through gallery after gallery of science from ages past to the modern days. We discovered communication, industry, farming, flight, home technology and many other fields.
This museum was completely ‘hands on’. Every gallery was filled with buttons, bells, and other interactive activities for the children to play with. There were computer screens everywhere, with lessons relating to the subject of the gallery. The children played all day, without even realizing they were learning in the process.
In the Launch Pad, the children spent some time learning about how things work, with experiments that show motion, light and sound. In the Flight Lab, the children learned about flight and what makes airplanes fly. In another gallery, the children learned about design and what makes every day objects work for the best results.
We watched a show called “Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles.” Most of those kids had spent many happy hours blowing bubbles in their back garden, but in twenty minutes the demonstration showed them the science of bubble making. The performer made little bubbles, big bubbles, and human bubbles. He showed the children how the particles stretch to form the bubbles. He even made a square bubble and made bubbles go up in flame. Bubble making is no longer a simple child’s game, but is science!
We spent several hours touching, smelling, seeing, reading, and enjoying the activities, all the while learning about science and technology.
Read 1 John 1:1-2
Learning is much better when we experience the lessons. Just as the children understand science and technology better by doing the activities available at the museum, so do we as Christians understand our salvation better by experiencing it. We can better understand God the Creator by experiencing His creation. We can better understand Jesus the Son, by reading His Word in the scriptures and living according to the lessons taught within. When we love our neighbor, we learn what it is like to be loved. We can better understand the Holy Spirit by experiencing Him in prayer and fellowship with other believers. When we hear, see and touch the Word of God, we understand and can share it with the world.
Glory Andy Warhol is quoted as saying that everyone will have fifteen minutes of fame. My own fifteen minutes of fame came a few years ago when we were living in California. In a short span of time, I had an article published in a magazine, had my picture and craft shown on the Home Show, and my family appeared on the Sacramento evening news while watching the baby flamingo.
When we learn that we will be published or will appear on TV, we go out and tell everyone. I got extra copies of the magazine to share with friends and family. We called everyone we knew and told him or her to watch the TV programs. Afterwards, it was fun to have people come up to us and say, “I saw you on TV.”
Today is Transfiguration Sunday, the day we remember the transfiguration of our Lord. In this story, we see how truly different Jesus was than normal men. At that moment, Peter, John and James saw Jesus in His Glory, and yet Jesus told them not to spread the news. Jesus needed time to complete His work before his ‘fifteen minutes of fame.’
Read Luke 9:28-36
Jesus has had not only fifteen minutes of fame, but is the Everlasting Hope of all creation. For one small moment in time, three men saw what was to be and heard the voice of God commanding creation to hear His Word in flesh. Let us look forward to the day when we will see the Lord in His splendor, and share in His glory.
Donuts I will be making donuts today. It is a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition to eat donuts the day before Ash Wednesday. There are similar traditions around the world. Here in England, the tradition is to eat pancakes.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of the church season known as Lent. It was established in remembrance of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness – fasting, praying and preparing for His ministry. We take this time to learn about His life and ministry. Fasting has always been an important part of the season of Lent. In modern times, people choose something to ‘give up’ until Easter. It is often things like cigarettes or chocolate. This practice began so that the participants would learn what Jesus went through in the desert.
Shrove Tuesday is named such because it was the day people went to confession and were ‘shriven.’ This means they received forgiveness and were given penances to carry out to go into Lent with a clean slate. Hundreds of years ago, flour, milk and eggs were forbidden foods during Lent. On Shrove Tuesday, housewives would clean out their homes of these foods by making rich pancakes that were stuffed with any other foods that needed to be used.
I will be making donuts this year, following the traditions of my youth. This year, however, we are also going to enjoy the traditions of England, traditions we may bring home with us to continue year after year.
Read Matthew 13:52
Jesus is reminding us in this verse that the lessons taught by the teachers in the temple should not be forgotten. The Law, particularly the Ten Commandments, should not be forgotten, for they are valuable rules to live by. However, during Jesus’ ministry, He showed us how to balance our lives, juxtaposing the Law to the Kingdom of God, of which we become heirs by God’s grace. The old is not destroyed, but is made better by the Truth of the Gospel. Jesus died so that we would not longer be slaves to the Law, but will be children who live according to it. Thanks be to God.
Shrove Tuesday At this time of year, there is always someone asking, “What are you giving up for Lent?” When asked I generally counter with the question, “Why are you giving something up for Lent?” In many instances, the answer is “We are supposed to give something up for Lent.” Or, “It is tradition.”
Yesterday we spoke on the good aspects of tradition – keeping the good things of the past alive while balancing with the newness of life in Christ Jesus. There are times, however, when tradition is a burden rather than a blessing. Fasting is often a vain attempt to appease God, seeking forgiveness through a work rather than by the grace of God.
Read Colossians 2:6-8
Today as you decide if you will fast in some way for the next seven weeks, ask yourself this very important question, “Why am I doing this?” If the answer has anything to do with the past or the traditions of your forefathers, then perhaps you ought to reconsider. If the answer is that you are seeking forgiveness for your sins through some act of penance, then you should not try at all. The purpose for fasting at this time should be to bring you into a deeper, closer relationship with Jesus Christ, and to better understand His ministry.
In most cultures, Shrove Tuesday is a day spent using up the forbidden things so that tomorrow we can begin a new walk with our Lord. Carnival, Mardi Gras, Donut Day, Pancake Day – these are all celebrations which are meant to get sin out of our system. At these celebrations we tend to over eat, over drink and act in ways unbecoming of our position as children of God. After we sin for a day, we go to church to receive forgiveness for our willful disobedience.
This year, spend some time today in prayer, asking God to reveal Himself to you in a deeper, more personal way. It is OK to enjoy your pancakes and donuts, if you do so in moderation. While in prayer, ask God to show you how He would like you to spend the Lent season. Perhaps He will show you some aspect of your life that is standing in the way of your relationship with Him. It is this that you should give up for the next seven weeks. Perhaps it will be the step necessary for giving it up for eternity.
Fasting can be a wonderful experience, when done with the right heart. The decision should be made with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When you fast, it does not necessarily mean giving up some sort of food. You can fast TV or trips to the video arcade. You can choose to fast meat, alcohol or caffeine. How about giving up BINGO for a season? No matter what you decide to give up, replace it with something that will glorify God. Suppose you give up TV, replace your viewing time with a Bible Study. If you choose to give up some sort of food or activity, collect the money you would have spent on such things and give it to your favorite mission. In all things, remember to do it for God’s Glory and to grow deeper in your relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dust The human body is made of ninety-eight percent water and two percent of other elements. The value of those elements is just a few dollars. In other words, our flesh is worth very little. The scriptures tell us that God created us from the dust of the earth. The day will come when our physical bodies will die, and that dust will return from whence it came.
Our spiritual life is not worth much either. We are born in sin, and we continue to do the things in this world which seem to separate us from the love of our Father. Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Historically, penitents were sprinkled with ashes, clothed in sackcloth and separated from the Christian community until Maundy Thursday. Over the years, this day has become one of confession for all members of the congregation. Each person is given a mark of ashes on their forehead as they are reminded that they came from dust and they will return to dust.
As we come to recognize that we are not worth much in this world, we begin to understand the great love of our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The reconciliation with God that occurred because of the work of Jesus on the cross is something that brings us to eternal joy.
Read Psalm 103:7-18, 22b
Let us take time this day to praise God for all He was, is and will be. Thanks be to God.
Back-up I received an email the other day. The email explained the recent failure of a computer at the headquarters of one of my website service providers. The writer apologized for the inconvenience of losing my entire website. They explained that when the computer is fixed they would email the instructions for replacing the data with my back up files.
I do not have back-up files. Luckily, the site that was lost was one I abandoned, but the incident made me realize that I needed to back-up my other sites. It would be nearly impossible to replace the WORD FOR TODAY website completely. I do have some pages on disc, but not all sixty of them. Imagine the waste of time it would be to repeatedly replace the work that has already been done!
I am reminded of the joke that tells of a computer contest between Jesus and Satan. After hours of working on the project assigned by God, the electricity fails, and the computers shut down. When the electricity was turned back on, Satan’s computer was blank. Everything he had written was lost. However, when Jesus opened his files, everything was still there. Satan said, “How can this be?” God said, “Haven’t you heard? Jesus saves.”
Read Romans 10:8-11
In this life, we are on a journey. Our ultimate destination is eternal life with God our Father. We spend so much of our time wondering if we will ever make it. We do the things we deem necessary, working for the rewards of heaven. We become tired and stressed because we realize that there is no way we can do enough to earn the good things of God.
Jesus wants you to know that your actions will not save you. Trust in Him and His Word that is within you. No matter what happens on the outside, you do not have to keep redoing the work which has been accomplished. Jesus saves. Thanks be to God.
The Question There is one question that comes up regularly when speaking to non-believers and that is “Why do good people suffer?” We hear the stories of people who have served the Lord with their whole heart, yet suffer from physical ailments, which are often disabling. There are those who are attacked by criminals, who lose the people they love through natural disaster or have suffered in other ways. We wonder, “Why”?
There is no simple answer to that question. However, in the midst of tragedy we have the choice of how to respond. We can become angry, bitter, hateful or resentful. We can seek revenge on our enemy, or even walk away from God. We can say that God does not love or He would not allow this evil to touch our lives. Jesus Christ never said it would be easy. He said He would always be with us, through the hard times. When you face suffering, how do you respond? Do you run from God? Or do you run into His arms?
Read Psalm 139:7-12
There are days that something happens
when I wonder if it is all worth the trouble.
There are days when I want to just give up the ministry.
There are days when I get so angry with God
for allowing evil to happen to those I love.
There are days when I fear everything and everybody.
There are days...
There are days when I want turn from God and say NO MORE!
And YET, He's still there...
He sends someone to remind me of HIS LOVE for me.
He gives me love through a friend, or He gives me a rainbow
He shows me a field full of daffodils
and then He whispers “I LOVE YOU”
I feel so sad that I turned away,
I feel so unworthy of that love,
I feel like God should just let me go,
He sticks around.
And He loves me.
Jason Project XI Bob Ballard, the man who found the wreckage of the Titanic, started the Jason Project. When he discovered this undersea treasure, many school children wrote to ask him questions. He decided to take them along on his adventure. Through media and technology, the children were able to interact with the teams doing the research and recovery. In the process, they learned many things about science and technology while having fun.
The Jason Project has continued ever since, with a different focus each year. There is a massive amount of equipment brought in to schools all over the world and set up for a week of interactive learning. Live satellite feeds from the project site, live questions through computer technology, and the presence of team members, makes this experience an exciting one for all who attend the sessions.
This year’s theme is “Going to Extremes.” We studied outer space with members of the team situated the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) International Space Station, and inner space at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Aquarius Underwater Laboratory in the Florida Keys. They have spent this year discovering what it is like to live in such extreme environments. During the broadcasts, they introduced the children to the people and equipment.
There are disadvantages to living in these extreme environments, such as weightlessness and pressure adjustments. Some of the experiments showed that not all life could be sustained in such a place. With modern technology, we are able to explore, and perhaps live, in these extremes, however we were not created to do so.
Read Ecclesiastes 7:15-18
We do not live in outer space or inner space. We were created to inhabit the earth, which God created perfectly for us. The only way for us to live in either extreme environment is with artificial means.
We must balance our lives, living in true righteousness and wisdom, that of Christ our Lord. To be over righteous is a legalistic righteousness, which gets us nowhere. To be overwicked is a life of moral unrestraint, which brings us death. Rather than these extremes, grasp onto the love of God, His grace and His salvation, which offers to you the life that is truly righteous and wise in Him.
Siblings Family relationships can be difficult. Siblings are born with different personalities, gifts and interests. Living within the confines of a small house with someone who is completely different than you can cause friction and discord. You fight for the attention of your parents or desire ‘equal’ stuff. It is easy to blame each other for the problems you face.
The story of Jacob and his wives is the perfect example of a sister relationship gone sour. Jacob wanted to marry Rachel, and worked hard for seven years for her hand. Laban tricked Jacob and sent Leah into his tent on the wedding night. Jacob loved Rachel so much he worked another seven years for her. Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. The LORD blessed Leah with a child, but Rachel was unable to bear any children for her husband. She was so jealous of Leah; she gave her maidservant Bilhah to Jacob to bear children for her. Not wanting to be outdone, Leah gave her maidservant Zilpah.
Modern day families do not have this type of problem, but we certainly bicker over other things. Who will care for aging parents? Who will get the favorite clock as an inheritance? Where do we hold Christmas dinner this year? These questions and many others cause feuds that last for decades. Why do we treat our family like this? Would we have the same fight with a brother or sister in Christ?
Read Matthew 12:46-50
Anger, bitterness, jealousy and false pride often accompany sibling relationships. As children, the fights are looked upon as silly games. As we mature, we need to grow out of those evil ways and treat our sisters and brothers with love, kindness, and gentleness – the fruits of the Spirit of God.
As Christians, we join a different family, a spiritual family. How do you treat your sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus? Is there any anger because of different ideas? Is there jealousy of different gifts? Do you seek, as Rachel and Leah, to prove your love in ways that are unbecoming of a child of God?
Recognition The story is told of a military man who was stationed overseas during war. In those days, there were often people who wrote to the soldiers in the field to give then courage, love and friendship. This man received regular letters from a woman in the states whom he had never met. He wrote back as often as possible, and they fell in love.
When the time came for him to return home, they arranged to meet. The soldier went to the rendezvous point and looked around for a woman wearing a flower on her dress. He noticed a beautiful young woman on the street, and was disappointed when she did not have the expected flower. She winked at him, and he was tempted to go with her. Just then, an older, rather plain looking woman approached him. She was wearing a flower. He knew this must be his beloved. He was a bit disappointed, for he’d expected her to be a beautiful woman. However, he loved her, so approached her with a small token of his esteem.
The woman, with tears in her eyes, told him that she was not her penpal, and that he should give the gift to the beautiful young woman whom had just crossed his path. She was truly his penpal, but she needed to be sure he loved her for herself, not her beauty. His love for the woman in the letters was so great that physical image did not matter.
When Jesus came to earth, He did not wear a banner telling the world His identity. He came as the son of a simple carpenter, grew up under the care of Mary, his mother, and spent most of his life living in that simple village. Even during His ministry, He spoke in a manner that only those who heard with spiritual ears would hear the truth of His purpose.
Read John 1:29-34
It was the Holy Spirit that gave John the recognition of Jesus Christ. The same is true for us today. God does not approach us with a banner saying, “Hey, I’m God, believe in me.” He wants us to love Him for Himself, not for the miracles. Do you love Jesus Christ because of His testimony in the love letter called the Bible? Or are you waiting to see the flower on the dress before you truly believe?
Drano The sink is clogged with grease, hair or some other foreign substance that is making the flow of water impossible. Your first thought is “Drano.” After years of television commercials spouting the advantages of Drano, you set off to purchase exactly that product, since its virtues have been ingrained in your mind. When you arrive at the store and search the counters for plumbing products, you discover an aisle filled with different types of drain cleaners. All you want is some Drano, yet all over the counter are packages that claim to do exactly the same thing. Some of the products even state on their label that they are “Just like Drano.” Even Drano has a number of different products.
You stand confused; wondering which is the real thing. You simply wanted to purchase the product you saw advertised which guaranteed to do the job you needed it to do. You consider the other brands, but you can’t rely upon product reliability. In many cases, though the ingredients are the same as the Drano, the solution is watered down and ineffective. You have use more than with the real thing, and it never does as a complete job.
Read Matthew 24:23-28
Today, in many of our churches, a false gospel is being preached. The product looks good, perhaps has the same ingredients. It is presented in a manner that will attract many people to ‘buy’ it. However, it is watered down and ineffective.
Many are drawn to churches because of its advertising and programs. They attend church like it is a club, and choose the one that offers the most exciting experience. However, the True Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will draw people unto itself, there is no need to offer basketball programs or reward programs for scripture study. Remember that the Holy Spirit caused John to recognize our Lord Jesus at His baptism, and so too will the Spirit cause us to recognize Him in His time. Do not be led by false teachings. Be ready, be watchful and be in prayer. For the Kingdom of God is at hand. Thanks be to God.
Julius Caesar “Beware of the Ides of March,” a seer once told Julius Caesar. However Caesar was a man without fear. He expanded the Roman world by conquering many lands. His success led to his destruction, since his rule became oppressive. As he conquered more and more peoples, he took upon himself a title that was not deserved, but seized. He became a dictator, taking away the authority of other men. “I came, I saw, I conquered,” words spoken by Caesar, speak not only to his military victory but also to every aspect of his life.
When the seer warned Caesar of the impending doom, he was indifferent. Men who he deemed loyal surrounded him. Take Marcus Brutus, his friend and a man who he pardoned from punishment. On March 15, 44 BC, Brutus led a group of upper statesmen in the murder of Julius Caesar. They were unhappy with the manner in which Caesar had usurped their authority. He named himself dictator of the empire, making the Senate worthless. Caesar expected men like Brutus to remain loyal because they reached their positions of authority by his grace. They did what they felt was necessary for the empire.
Caesar was not God; he was not even a god. He was a man who stepped over the line of his given authority and stole an empire. However, murder is never a right solution.
Read 1 Peter 3:8-12
We do face oppression in this life from authorities that try to take more power than is given to them. They use the ways of deceit and violence to gain a higher place in this life. Though this is wrong, we should not repay the deceit and violence with the same. When you feel you have been wronged do not seek revenge, but rather turn your eyes to God and let Him deal with the evil.
Crafts I enjoy teaching others how to make things. Just the other day I led a group of women in a craft class. Since I have made these things many times, the steps to completing the projects are ingrained in my mind, and I find them easy to complete. However, these projects were not necessarily as simple as I made it appear. The ladies made beautiful items, but since they were not familiar with the materials, it took work and patience to get them done.
When teaching such a class, it is important to explain every step of the process. When I am working on such crafts, some steps naturally happen without a thought on my part. So, as I plan the lesson, I must carefully consider each aspect of the task and include those steps or the item will not be properly completed.
As we grow in our faith in Jesus Christ, the Fruit of the Spirit and His works, which are manifest in our lives, become natural. We love because God first loved us, and that love we share happens without a thought. Our joy is made complete in Christ Jesus, so we are naturally joyful. As we are sanctified for God and by His work in us, the Fruit becomes such a part of our lives that we do not to work to make them happen.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
In his first letter to Thessalonica, Paul gave specific instructions for living a life in Christ Jesus. These actions had become a natural part of his existence, and his faith showed clearly by his life. He understood that each Christian is at a different point of faith. He deemed it necessary to establish every step of the process for us to follow. The more you practice these steps, the more naturally the Fruit of God’s Holy Spirit will manifest in your life. Thanks be to God.
Green Today, all over the world, people are drinking green beer and wearing green sweaters. Kids are cutting shamrocks and colouring leprechauns. The Irish Jig is playing on the radio and folk are parading through the streets, being Irish for just one day.
All this for a man named Patrick. He is the patron saint of Ireland and this is his feast day. The 5th century bishop was born in Britain. As a youth of fourteen, pagan raiders took him as a slave to Ireland. He escaped to Gaul and studied under Saint Germanus of Auxerre. In the year 432, he returned to Ireland as a bishop and established Christianity on the Island.
Patrick is best known for his teaching of the Trinity. In a hymn we call St. Patrick’s Breastplate, he wrote, “I bind unto myself this day the strong name of the Trinity, by invocation of the same, the three in one and the one in three.” He is said to have taught the concept of the Trinity with a clover; though the clover is just one leaf, it has three leaves. Patrick used God’s creation to explain this mystery of God in a way that people could understand. The bishopric he founded in Ireland laid a solid foundation for the Irish church.
As we celebrate with the usual fun of St. Patrick’s day, we should remember why he is remembered. The true story of Patrick has nothing to do with leprechauns. Rather this day is about his commitment to sharing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with the people of Ireland.
Read 2 Corinthians 13:14
Paul closes his second letter to the Corinthians with this greeting. Trinitarian in form, it has long been a part of Christian worship. We speak these words with our brethren to share the fullness of God and His good work. The Trinity tends to be a controversial subject among Christian theologians, so it is important that we search the scriptures for ourselves and hear His voice in the words. What I have learned is that in our Christian walk we are to do all things by the Power of the Holy Spirit, in the Name of Jesus our Lord, for the Glory of God the Father. Amen.
The Lollipop Man There was once a rich man who owned a lollipop factory. He loved lollipops so much that he kept them to himself. He had so many lollipops he did not know what to do with them, but he did not give them away to anyone.
Right next door lived a man named Lazarus. He didn’t have any lollipops. One day, he went to the rich man and asked the man if he would share. Lazarus wanted to try just one. The lollipop man refused to give him any. One day, a special man came to town. He saw that Lazarus had no lollipops and gave him a roll of Lifesavers. The Lollipop man wanted some Lifesavers too, but the special man said that since he had kept all the lollipops for himself, then he would not get any Lifesavers.
This modern parable is based on the parable told by Jesus in Luke 16:19-31. In this story, we learn that if we keep everything we have in this world, we have already received our reward. I used this parable while teaching children how we should walk in the ways of Jesus Christ. We then went on to talk about the things we share and with whom we share.
Read 1 Timothy 6:18-19
Jesus goes on to say in the parable that the rich man asks Lazarus to go to his home and tell his brothers to share. Abraham tells the rich man that they have already been told and that if they do not listen and obey to the Law given them through Moses and the prophets, then they will not listen even if someone is raised from the dead.
Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. There are still many in this world who are not obedient to the Word of God, living life in flesh rather than in accord with the promise of true life. Jesus Christ is our lifesaver. Are you willing to give away some of your lollipops so that you might live that true life?
Cemeteries I enjoy wandering through old cemeteries, reading the epitaphs on the tombstones. It is fun to read the words that describe the lives of people who lived many years ago. I recall a time many years ago when I was camping, I went on a hike with a group of my friends. We came across a cemetery, so we took the time to look around. The graves were well cared for, with nicely mown grass and fresh flowers in the urns. Though these people were dead, those still living kept their memory alive in this world.
In the far corner of the cemetery, I noticed a particularly old section overgrown with weeds. These stones were fallen and broken. These stones were dated from more than a century ago, and those who lived to remember them have long since passed. As I wandered through these graves, I thought about death and loss. I thought about suffering and wondered about the lives of these people. It made me sad to think that all they accomplished had long since been forgotten.
Just the, I rounded a tombstone, and there in the midst of death lay a fawn. The baby deer could not have been more than a few weeks old, lying on the soft grass in the shade of a stone. I knew the mother must have been close by, so I did not bother the baby. We looked at each other a moment, and I thanked God for new life. I knew that even though these people were dead, buried and forgotten in this world, they were not forgotten in the heart and mind of my Lord.
Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
In this life we often feel forgotten. We suffer in ways that brings death to our selves, such as the loss of friends or failure of our goals. When we find ourselves in these circumstances, it is easy to think that even God has forgotten us – cast aside like day old bread. However, God does not push us away for any reason. There is purpose in His plan for us, even in the hardship. Out of death comes life.
Purim Today marks the day of celebration in the Jewish calendar known as Purim. This festival commemorates the story told in the Book of Esther, found in the Old Testament of the Bible. This book has long been one of controversy. Since the text makes no mention of God and there seems to be no historical proof of its authenticity, many think it should have never been included in the canon.
For the Jews, the celebration of Purim is one that shows God’s divine presence even in the wholly secular world represented in the story. The celebration itself is one of costumes, feasting and even drunkenness in some cases – all the while remembering God’s hand in the deliverance of the Jewish exiles from death.
Why is this story important to Christians and their walk with God? After all, we are taught to focus upon God and to live according to His Spirit within us. The characters in the story live according to the flesh – drunkenness, sex and lies – with no sign of God!
As we look deeply into the story of Esther, we find that there is a parallel between the kingdom of Ahasuerus and the Kingdom of God. Though an in depth study is not possible in this writing, we should know that Esther is seen being obedient to the call of her father Mordecai (he adopted her), by approaching the throne of grace to ask for the lives of her people. This act of obedience is an example to us today to do according to the will of God our Father.
Read Esther 4:12-14
God has made us heirs to His Kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. As His, He wants us to approach His throne of Grace in prayer to intercede in this world. Do not toss away the story of Esther based on the secular tone within. Remember, we live in a topsy-turvy world, where the gold of the earth is seen as more valuable than the love of God our Father. In the Book of Esther, we see that the Hand of God directs our paths, even in the worldliest situations. Hear His voice and be obedient, for this is why God has brought you to this moment.
Stone Walls As we adventure around the English countryside, we see many stone walls. Some are built to divide property. Some are built to keep the sheep in and others to keep people out. There are many different styles and sizes. We have driven along roads that have walls that go on for miles. We have seen walls that are very tall, hiding what lies behind. Some walls are very decorative, with different colour rocks and patterns.
There are two different ways of building a wall. You can build a wall by using mortar to hold the wall together. In this method, you can use smaller, even odd shaped rocks as your material. In many cases, the walls were built out of the scraps from a larger building project, such as a castle or church. This type of wall is very inexpensive and serves the purpose very well. These walls fall down rather easily, since the mortar is corruptible. Ivy gets in between the stones and eats away at the mortar. The mortar can also be destroyed by the elements.
The other way of building a wall is to shape the rocks to fit together perfectly, then stack them one upon another. This type of wall is quite expensive in time and material to build. The rocks need to be large enough to be able to shape, and then they need to be carefully carved by a stonemason. These walls are very strong, because each stone fits perfectly with the next, and they hold each other in place.
Read Colossians 2:20-23
The Word of God is like a rock wall. When our teaching is right before Him, each idea will be carefully shaped and placed to hold up the next, and the wall will be strong. His Word, as presented by God Himself in the scriptures, is perfectly carved and fitted together and will last forever.
However, many Christians are building walls with scrap stones and mortar. There is just enough truth in the wall to make it stand and perform for a time, but eventually the ideas of man, which is the corruptible mortar, break down and the wall falls.
Build your wall with the truth of the Gospel and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fasting The librarian at my children’s school has a container of bite sized candy available for teachers and parents throughout the day. These little bits of chocolate or suckers give the adults that boost of energy to make it through the rest of the day, or offer a little pick me up if the day has been particularly difficult. On my way to a meeting yesterday afternoon, I popped in for a caramel, and noticed a big sign on the container, “These people can not have any candy for 40 days.” I anxiously searched the list of names to see if I was on it, thinking they’d abused the candy privileges. Then I realized they had chosen to fast candy throughout Lent, and the sign was to keep them accountable to their own decision.
At least one has already failed. How are you doing with your Lent fast? It has been two weeks since Ash Wednesday. Did you decide to give up something for Lent? What did you give up? How is the fast affecting you at this point? Are you craving that chocolate or cigarette? Have you gotten a bit irritable around your family?
Read Isaiah 58:3-5
We hear in the Gospel of Matthew 6:16 that the hypocrites make a big deal about their fasting. They frown and tell everyone about what they are doing for the Lord by fasting, yet they continue in their lives of sin and oppression. God does want us to humble ourselves before Him, but He expects it to be done in the joy of His Salvation.
Thus far during this Lent period, I’ve heard several pastors speak about fasting. Each one said that they prefer to think of a Lent fast as being one where we take up something new. If you have given up something for Lent, what have you taken up to replace it? You will find that with more prayer, Bible Study, and true service to the Lord, that the fast will not be one of sorrow and pain, but one of rejoicing!
More fasting “But that’s the way its always been done. Do you think you are better than…” Have you ever heard that before? You are serving on a committee at church or in the committee and you see that the way things are going just is not working. So, you make a suggestion that might set the group on a better path to accomplishing the mission set before them. However, change is difficult for many people, and they fight those changes.
In yesterday’s word, we heard that the normal Lent practice of abstaining from something would not necessarily guarantee that God would hear our prayer and answer our prayer. He is not looking for someone who is willing to starve himself; He is looking for righteous folk who pray in faith and live according to His promises.
What then is the proper kind of fasting?
Read Isaiah 58:6-8
The Hebrew word in this passage that is translated ‘fast’ has a root that means ‘to cover.’ As we think of the normal usage of the word fast, it makes sense to think of the mouth as being covered and fasting to be an abstention from food. However as we look at this passage from Isaiah, we see that the fasting which God is requiring of us is more than the giving up of something.
Jesus Christ came from heaven to earth to show us the way of life in Himself. He came to set us free from the sin of this world, to feed us with the bread of life, to provide a place for us of refuge from the evil we encounter, and to clothe us with His Righteousness.
The fasting which God desires from us is not the giving up of our favorite food, but the giving up of ourselves. We are to take upon the righteousness of our Lord Jesus by submitting to God completely. When we do this, His life is manifested in our actions, and the oppressed are freed, the hungry are fed and the naked are clothed. His light shines through you and God is glorified. Thanks be to God.
Anticipation Are we there yet? Surely every parent who has ever put a child into a car has heard these words. The excitement about going to someplace special can be overwhelming to a child. Very often, we keep our destination a secret, and it becomes a game for everyone. The children watch the road and the landmarks to try to figure out where we are going. There are times, though, that the children would prefer to stay home if they don’t know where we are going.
Aren’t we that way with God? We know we are on a journey to a magnificent destination. We cry out to the Lord, “Are we there yet?” We try to guess what is coming around the next corner and pick out the landmarks, ever trying to guess what is going to happen next. And just like the children, there are times when we’d prefer to stay where we are at rather than step out in faith and obedience into an unknown situation. Oswald Chambers wrote, “Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led.”
Yesterday we learned how to fast according to God’s Will. Today we continue on with the scripture in Isaiah, looking at the goodness of God when we are obedient to His Will.
Read Isaiah 58:8-12
As we have learned this week, we often cry out to God with a wrong motive or action. He does not hear our cry when we are disobedient. When we do according to His Will, giving up the things which are ourselves, then He does hear and He answers. When we live the life He has called us to live, one of His righteousness rather than our own, then the blessings flow from His hand through our lives into the world. We may not always know where we are going in our walk with God, but when we act according to His commands He will guide, satisfy, strengthen, rebuild, repair and restore. What a beautiful statement of God's love for us!
Transport Driving in England is a unique experience. The cars are built with the steering wheel on the right hand side. We drive on the left-hand side of the road. The speed limit is higher than most American roads. There are highways, which are well built and convenient, but most of our daily travel occurs on tiny country roads, which have speed limits of 60 mph. Let’s not even mention the roundabouts. After three years of driving here, we are used to these things. It took some time, though.
We have a right-hand drive car, which we bought when we moved here. We also shipped our American car. The car was a brand new Saturn, which we had only owned for a couple weeks when we took it to be shipped. I had barely driven the car, and was not very familiar with it. We were in England a month when the car arrived in port. I was not yet familiar with the roads, nor had I driven here at all. My first experience driving in England was shaping up to be an interesting experience.
After taking care of the paperwork, we got in our cars. Bruce was in a little red car and I followed closely behind. Bruce took the roundabouts with care, and we were soon on the highway home. Things were going well as we arrived at our exit; I was getting rather used to being on the ‘wrong side’ of the road.
As we neared the roundabout at the bottom of the exit road, it began to rain. Not just a sprinkle, but a pretty hard rain. I did not know where the windshield wiper on/off switch was located, and I had to keep going. So, for a moment I focused on the red car in front of me, followed it out of the roundabout and then found the switch. It was a brief moment of confusion, but we made it safely.
We continued on our way on this tiny country road. Bruce seemed to be driving rather fast. I could barely keep up. I knew the speed limit was 60 mph, but I’d hoped he would understand that I was not used to driving that fast on that type of road. As I lost site of the car, I suddenly realized that I was going the wrong direction. I did not recognize the countryside, or the towns in that area. I had focused on the wrong car! I immediately turned around and followed signs to a familiar town, after which I easily found my way home.
Read John 5:14
In times of confusion, it is possible to get going in the wrong direction. The things of this world have a way of clouding our vision. However, God’s Word is written upon our hearts. If the journey you are on does not seem familiar, then perhaps you are following the wrong lead. Turn around, repent of your sin, and you will find your way home.
Cats Felix our cat is quite unique, but is not the only cat in the history of our family. There was Patches, a lovely calico cat, which we found wandering around our yard. She was incredibly friendly and took to our family quickly. She was pregnant. The kittens were gorgeous, and she was a wonderful mother. Several months passed, the kittens grew and we really enjoyed having them around, until the day we discovered the females were all pregnant. Now we had four mothers-to-be running around the yard.
We established beds for the moms, two in the garage and two on the porch. The kittens were born, and all seemed to be well. One day, we noticed that there were some kittens that refused to feed. We could not understand why this would be until I looked out my dining room window one day. There, walking from the garage to the porch, I saw a mom carrying a kitten in her mouth. Going in the opposite direction was another mom carrying a kitten in her mouth. They were stealing each other’s babies.
Some of the kittens did just fine with any mother. All they needed was warm milk and some love. Others refused to nurse from any but their own mother. We took all the kittens to the garage, made a large home for them all, and every one was happy.
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-20
‘Sheep stealing’ is a problem in the church today. Many local churches are so concerned about filling pews that they would prefer to take pre-made Christians for themselves by speaking against the teachings of another church, rather than speaking the Gospel to the lost.
We are one church. God has created each of us, individuals who live for Him and do His Will according to His Word. He has created the individual churches, also. Whether you are Pentecostal, Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, or whichever label you happen to wear, each has a job to do for God’s Kingdom and His glory. Thanks be to God!
Worry There are so many things for us to worry about these days. In western society, we face the struggles of drugs and violence, worrying about our children every time they walk out the door. We worry about disease, pollution, and poverty. We are anxious about the decisions we make and how they will affect our lives and the world around us.
In our personal lives, we are concerned about our health, finances, family and friends. We experience suffering of all sorts, emotional and physical. What has you worried today? A sick friend? A busy schedule? A lost relationship? The wrong job?
We each have anxieties, which are part of our day to day living. These worries are not healthy for us, and cause greater strain on our physical and emotional health. Even more, the worries place great strain on our spiritual health. We need to face the fact that each of us has issues that we focus upon daily that waste our time and energy. When we recognize the stumbling blocks that can take over our lives, then we can do something about it.
Read 1 Peter 5:5-10
God recognizes that there are issues in our lives that need to be handled. We do need to eat, rest in shelter, and take care of the sick. There are problems in our society that brings death and pain to our lives. He does not expect us to go around laughing gaily at every moment in the midst of pain and suffering. However, it is important that we do not let these issues make us anxious to the point of giving a foothold to the enemy. We are to keep our eyes focused on God and His amazing grace, remembering that we are not the only ones who are suffering. Keep in mind the great men of the Bible, such as Joseph and Job. They faced incredible hardship, stayed faithful, and were restored to a greater glory. Our greater glory is life in Christ Jesus, now and for eternity. Stand firm in your faith and tell the devil to take a hike. Thanks be to God.
Time Team There is a TV show on the television here in England called “The Time Team.” I have also seen this show played on American TV. A team of diversely talented individuals with expertise in different aspects of historical research examines an area of land searching for clues to the identity of the former inhabitants. They chose a site of interest, then spend a weekend digging in the dirt and in archives for information and artifacts which will help create a picture of past civilizations that existed at that site.
They often choose the site based on myth or legend. Since the landscape where these stories can be far reaching, they then use modern technology to pinpoint areas of interest. Arial photography can show that there is a difference in colour of the top layer of earth above certain features, which are directly below. You can see where there were walls or ditches from the lines that appear darker in the crops growing in the fields. They study the earth from the ground by using special machinery, which shoots sound waves into the earth and records the depth of features.
Once they pinpoint the most probable site, the archeologists begin to dig. They remove the earth one layer at a time until they find the feature they’ve seen in the photos and recordings. They record the artifacts found, such as coins or pottery, each step of the way. Meanwhile, other experts search in the archives for maps, ancient pictures or books about the possible settlers.
The show plays live several times over the three days of the dig. Each time they air something new and exciting pops up and you watch the mystery of that site being revealed. Very often, the conclusions they reach by the final episode are not what they expected. I have seen them search for what they believed was a Viking settlement and discover during the day older Roman or even Iron Age encampments.
Read Luke 11:9-10
God reveals Himself through creation. We see Him in the flowers and trees, the rainbows and butterflies. He reveals Himself in our hearts through His love that goes deep into our spirit. The Time Team does not have to dig to know something is there, but when they do go deep into the earth, they discover mysteries that are unknowable from the surface. The same is true with the mysteries of God. We know that there is something there, but if we settle on hovering above the surface, we never find the depth of His Word in our lives. Read and study the scriptures, digging deep into the words and history. Find the surprise He has waiting for you. Seek and you will find. Thanks be to God.
Raccoons Animals have a way of getting into trouble. There was just a story on the news of a raccoon that climbed to the top of a power pole. We don’t know why he climbed to the top of the pole, but once he got up there, he was afraid to climb down. There, on the top of the pole sat the little raccoon, stuck. We hear this type of story all the time – cats that get stuck in trees and whales that beach themselves.
The top of a power pole is a dangerous place. To rescue the poor raccoon, the electric company had to turn off the power. Then someone had to climb up a large ladder and catch the raccoon. It was not an easy task for the rescuer. When animals are afraid, they lash out even at someone who is trying to help.
We do not know why people get into the trouble they do. They get stuck in a situation and find themselves unable to get out. Or they are afraid to try. We make the wrong choices, then find ourselves at the top of a dangerous situation. When someone comes along to help us out, we lash out at him or her, not wanting to admit that we are in trouble or made the wrong choice. We cling to the situation, afraid of the consequences of letting go. Yet, the consequence of staying at the top of a power pole is far worse… it could mean death.
Read Psalm 72:12-14
Psalm 72 is a prayer that was likely used at the coronation of King Solomon. These words speak of a human deliverer, one who could protect and save the people of Israel. Yet, they also point forward to a better King, one who delivers not from earthly enemies, but from the oppression of sin itself. Jesus Christ has come to get us off the top of our power poles.
How often do we hear the Word of the Lord, and then lash out at our Saviour? We do not want to be saved, because it means admitting we are sinners. We do not want to face the consequences of our own sins, so we cling to our situation. Do not let your ego stand in the way of your deliverer. Let Him save you from your troubles, for you are precious to Him.
***Thanks to Chris for the story idea.
Laundry Housework seems like it is a never-ending occupation. We are constantly dusting, vacuuming or doing dishes. There is always something that can be wiped, dusted, put away or thrown away. It is possible to finish your work, sit back and enjoy the cleanness that comes with a job well done. Yet, there is one household task that is never ending. Laundry. No matter how hard we try, there is always some dirty piece of clothing. Even as we empty the dryer and fold the final pair of pants or T-shirt, we still have a set of clothes on our back that will need washing. It can be discouraging to get to the bottom of the pile, only to have it reappear within minutes as kids toss this hour’s outfit on the pile.
There are times when the work we need to do is never-ending. At our jobs, the stack of paperwork continues to grow. We pay our bills, but there is always another one on its way to our mailbox. In our relationships, such as with our spouse or children, it seems that just as we come to an agreement about something, there is another problem waiting.
It can be quite discouraging. We wonder, “Will I ever have a moment of rest?” Even in our relationship with God, we can weary of the tasks set before us, such as prayer. It seems that just as we see the answers to a prayer for a sick friend, two more ask for intercession. Just as we see someone we love come to a deeper knowledge of Jesus Christ, there are two more who need to hear the Word. It is glorious to be able to do these tasks for the Lord, and yet there are moments when we cannot see the victory ahead that we get discouraged.
Read Isaiah 40:28-31
In those moments when you are tired and weak, remember that the Lord God Almighty is your strength. He will give you all you need to complete the tasks set before you. Though you cannot see the end of the journey you are on, remember that the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus have already won the victory. Rest in Him, and know His peace.
Dishwasher We owned a home in Marysville, California for quite a few years. We never used the dishwasher because there was something wrong with it. At least, that is what we were told when we moved in to the house. We were newlyweds, and eventually had children, however they were small and the number of dishes produced never warranted the financial impact of having the dishwasher repaired. We used it for storage.
When the time came for us to sell the house, the loan program used by the buyer required everything in the house to be in perfect working order. So, at the end of six years of not using the dishwasher, we finally paid to have it fixed. When the repairman visited, he asked us what was wrong with the machine. We said we didn’t know, that we’d never used it because we had been told it did not work. He checked every part, tested every movement, and found that the machine was in perfect working order.
We had a dishwasher for six years and never used it.
How many of us have things around our homes, which we never use. We buy books we never find the time to read and music that does not get heard. We order kitchen gadgets that we never learn how to use. We have these things so that our lives will be fuller and better, yet they waste away in some closet.
In yesterday’s WORD, we saw that God will give us everything we need to survive in this world. What good are those gifts if we hide them in a closet?
Read 1 Peter 4:7-11
Are we taking advantage of the things God has to offer? Do you lean upon His strength? Do we embrace His love? Do we share His Word, through speech and action? Do we use the gifts of His Holy Spirit in a way that will bring glory and honour to God our heavenly Father? Jesus Christ secured the victory on the cross. Live the life of victory, doing God’s Will with His gifts each day. Thanks be to God.