Welcome to the September 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.
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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, September 1999
Mummies A guard on a pack mule was riding through the Egyptian desert one day, when the mule poked a hole in the sand. This hole revealed an extensive ancient burial ground. This archeological discovery should yield much information about the Egyptian civilization from 300 BC to AD 300. Most of the information we have comes from the tombs of kings or the very wealthy, which have been raided and desecrated for treasure. The site is expected to yield ten thousand mummies, all from a middle-class background. These tombs have been untouched for nearly 2000 years. By studying the way these people buried their dead, we will have a greater understanding of life in that age, for the normal folk who lived and worked and raised their children.
Much of modern civilization is based on stories and practices from this and other ancient civilizations. By studying these people, we can better understand our own civilization. Unfortunately, many of our beliefs about the people of other ages are based on myth, legend and misinterpretation of data. But as these hidden places are revealed, we will come to a better understanding.
Hidden things are revealed to us in scripture. There are many things in the Bible that are difficult to understand. We must study the words, in context, and pray for wisdom. We should seek the help of teachers who can help us to understand. We must be careful, though, to seek wisdom from God, for the Bible warns of false teachers.
Read 2 Peter 3:16-18
Revealed mysteries of the earth help us to understand the history of our civilization. The revealed mysteries of God’s Word help us to understand His Story, the Gospel. We’ve got to dig for both. The Story of God’s Love for His Children is worth getting your hands dirty.
Teachers ‘Back to school’ is such an exciting time. New teacher, new friends, new school supplies. The faces of the children are filled with joy and desire. They want to learn. They want to be there, and they show it in their laughter and zeal. They give their hearts so completely. Which is an attitude we could do well to copy.
We all have our favorite teachers, those men and women who have changed our lives. They touch us in a way that will never be forgotten. We know those great teachers. We can see it in the way the children are drawn to them. The teacher walks in a room and 20 children run up to give her a hug. The children go out of their way to stop by his room to say “Hello.” Their desks are filled with curios of apples or pictures drawn. They stop to listen and really care what the children have to say.
Read Luke 18:15-17
Jesus was a great teacher. People were drawn to Him. Why? Because He loved, He cared, and He showed it in His actions. He did not just talk the talk; He walked the walk. He touched people, personally. He listened to them.
‘Back to school’ is a time when we start anew. Many people impact the lives of our children: parents, teachers, caregivers, to name just a few. If you have a job that touches the life of a child, I would like to thank you. I also implore you to look upon the example of our Savior Jesus Christ. Embrace those children you meet along the way. For in their face, you will see the Kingdom of God.
Unexpected Sightings We live in a foreign country, which means we are thousands of miles from our home and friends. We have made many friends here, and it is such a joy to run into them on a day to day basis.
We went on a holiday that included a stop in Wales. As we were leaving Caerphilly Castle, a gentleman and a boy ran past. I thought the man looked very familiar, but discounted it as being an amazing look alike. After all, we were 250 miles from anyone we knew. Lost in my thoughts, I kept walking away from the castle.
I was startled when I heard, “Zack!” “David!” cried Zack.
We had an unexpected encounter. I did not recognize the man because I did not expect him to be in that place at that time. Mary had a similar encounter. Early one morning she was on her way to a garden. Her beloved teacher and friend had been brutally executed just days before, and she was going to his tomb anoint the body. She found the tomb empty and wept.
Read John 20:14-16
Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was dead. She did not expect to see him alive in the garden. She did not recognize Him, because she had no reason to think it might be Him. With one word, her name, Jesus turned her grief into joy. She recognized Him from the personal way He spoke to her.
Christ lives. Do we recognize Him when we see Him? Or do we miss the opportunity to serve Him, because we do not expect to see Him in those we encounter along our path?
Card Houses It is nice to get a new deck of cards out of a box, to feel the smoothness, and to watch the way they slide off each other. These cards eventually become to warn or dirty, or one gets lost. When I was a kid, rather than discarding those decks, we put them in a box to use for house building. We spent many hours building houses out of playing cards. We would often fill the living room with complex mazes of buildings, streets, and towers.
Brand new cards are not very good to use for building a house. They look and feel good, but when you try to stack them together, they slide off one another. The crisp edges do grasp each other and one level does not have the strength to support a second level. Old, worn cards do not look as nice, but they have been tempered with years of use. The edges are frayed, but they hold on to one another. They are no longer slippery. The deck with peanut butter and jelly residue is great to use for the foundation.
Our life is like that card house. The cards are like the people we encounter along the way. Some people look shiny and smooth, but are not necessarily good for the foundation of our life. We have some friendships that offer a very strong foundation. We can count on these people to be there for us. They lift us up when we are down. They may not look like much, covered with jelly stains and worn at the edges. Together we can work together to be part of a house which is the glory of the creator.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11
Observation God is with us everywhere we go. Ever since I started writing these devotions, I’ve noticed that I can find Him in the most common items or experiences. We spent the day in London yesterday, and with each turn I noticed some way God was touching our lives. I found myself asking, “What kind of lesson would God want me to learn from this?” or “What difference could my knowledge of God make in this situation?” I found many biblical concepts throughout the day, each one giving me a new understanding of God’s actions in this world.
Read Ecclesiastes 8:16-17
It is not possible for us to know everything about God. His folly is greater than our wisdom. His weakness is greater than our strength. He is eternal and almighty. But we will come to a closer relationship with God if we take the time to seek Him in every aspect of our life. He will be our guiding hand, directing our path into righteousness and truth in our worship times, our working times, and our leisure times.
Throughout this week, I will be sharing some of my observations from London. They do not come even close to describing the vastness of God, but each experience gives a glimmer into some aspect of God and His love for His creation. I’ll share many things, from the beauty of worship and Holy Communion in St. Paul’s cathedral, to the forgiving the thief who emptied my purse and tried to steal my peace. Mostly, I hope to apply these observations to our lives and our Christian walk, so that we might come closer to God each moment.
Labour Our first stop in London on Saturday was St. Paul’s Cathedral. This magnificent building, designed in the 17th century by Sir Christopher Wren, is built on a site where Christians have worshipped for over 1300 years. St. Paul’s is one of London’s most beloved landmarks, easily recognized in pictures.
At the centre of the cathedral, where the transepts meet, is a large dome. There are three galleries on the dome, which can be reached by climbing many stairs. Running around the interior of the dome, 259 steps above the ground floor, is the Whispering Gallery. This walkway, which runs a complete circle around the dome, is called by its name because a whisper is audible on the opposite side of the dome, due to a building quirk.
The Stone Gallery, 378 steps above ground level, runs around the outside of the dome and provides an incredible view of London. From this perch we could see Parliament, The Globe Theatre, the Thames, and many other London landmarks.
Just as we were about to descend back to the main level of the cathedral, we discovered that we could climb to the Golden Gallery, which is a total of 530 steps from ground level. The stairways to the top were rickety iron, and our bodies were getting tired of labouring to climb to these great heights. But as we came out into the sun, we could see the reward of our labour. The view of London is remarkable.
We do not always get such a reward for our hard work. We get our paychecks, an occasional day off and the satisfaction that comes from a job well done. Sometimes, we receive a word of thanks for the work we do, or we get a glimpse of the product of our labours. For teachers, it may be a student who succeeds after graduation. For a doctor, someone is healed. For a writer, a book is sold.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:58
As Christians, we may not always see the fruits of our labours, but we know our work is not in vain. The day will come when we emerge from the stairway inside the dome to look upon the glory that is the Kingdom and see it in its fullness.
May you have a blessed and safe Labour Day.
Worship We climbed down those 530 stairs and went to the café for something to drink to recover. The Service of the Eucharist was set to begin at 1230, and we wanted to take part. We often forget as we traipse around these tourist sites, that these are living, breathing churches. People go there to worship God, to hear His word, to gather in the fellowship of saints and share in His love.
The Church of England practices open communion, so all are welcome to attend these services. At St. Paul’s the mass is held in the quire, the area of the cathedral where the choir would sit, near the High Altar. On either sides of the quire are aisles, on the east end is a chapel dedicated to Americans who served in England during the war, and the west end is open to the nave. You can look in the quire as you walk around, but it is closed to the public. When the door was open to allow the congregation in for the service, many tourists crowded to get in, but one by one they turned and left. They weren’t interested in worshipping God; they just wanted to see the quire.
The service was lovely. There were around 40 people who stopped for a moment in their day to worship. When the communion was served, we all stood in a circle as one body, sharing one bread.
Throughout the service, I noticed that people were outside the quire in the cathedral going about their business. They continued to look at the tombs of famous people, focusing on death while we celebrated life.
Read John 17:15-19
Just as the quire is part of the cathedral, and yet separated by gates, we are part of the world, separated by the Gate, Jesus Christ. We must worship Him, seeing life, even while the world around us focuses on death.
Wedding Cake The Golden Gallery at the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral offers a magnificent view of the City of London. From there you can see landmarks such as The Globe Theatre and The BT Tower.
One block west of St. Paul’s is a small parish church called St. Bride’s. Named after the 16th century Irish St. Bridget, this lovely church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The spire of this church is famous, not only for its beauty, but also for the story of a father’s love which is connected with it. The spire, which reaches a height of 226 feet, is composed of stone-carved open tiers, which are crowned by a tapering obelisk.
A baker who lived near St. Bride’s wanted to give his daughter a special gift on her wedding day. It is said that when he looked upon the newly completed spire, he was inspired to make a tiered cake for her. He became famous for these cakes, and tiered wedding cakes are now tradition around the world.
His love for his daughter was so great, that he was willing to try something new and different to make her wedding day special.
Read Luke 7:11
We do everything we can for our children. We feed and clothe them. We make sure they get a good education. We provide them with opportunities to become the best they can be. God, our heavenly Father, also provides everything we need. He not only gives us our daily bread, but He loves us so much that He gave us the greatest gift of all, His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ died so that we might be more than just His child. We are heirs to His Kingdom. God gives good gifts to His children. Ask and you will receive.
OXO Cubes From the Golden Gallery or St. Paul’s Cathedral, we could see a tower from one of the many buildings owned by the company that makes OXO Cubes. These buildings are identifiable because they have windows in the shape of the letters, which spell OXO.
At the time these buildings were constructed, there was a law stating that no commercial industry could advertise on their buildings. This law was created in an effort to clean up the city, to keep it from having too many signs. The company, still wanting to advertise their product, found a loophole in the law. There were no specific laws against shaped windows. So the designer included windows on each side of the tower, spelling the word Oxo for all to see. They knew the law, but did what they could to get around it.
Today, those beautiful buildings are landmarks, but they stand as a testament to how men can make a wrong look right. Little white lies are justified by the excuse that they are to spare someone’s feelings. When we are given too much change at the grocery store, we justify keeping the money because it was the cashier’s mistake. When we yell at our kids, or our spouse, or our friends for some reason, we justify it as correction. Even bucking the system is justified because; “Everyone else does it.”
Read Colossians 3:23-25
The windows of the OXO buildings did not hurt anyone. But often, our little wrongs do affect people in ways we may never know. We need to remember to live every moment in truth, because everything we do should glorify God. Consider every word and every action before you speak or act. Do they glorify God?
The Underground London is atrocious for driving. Those tiny one way streets jam-packed with coaches and cabs, as well as too many cars. We don’t even bother. The tube system is well organized, easy to navigate and very affordable. It is possible to get within a few blocks of anything in London without the usual hassles of driving a car.
I enjoy watching people. Throughout the day, I enjoyed seeing the diversity of people using the tube. I saw men in Armani suits, a family on their way to a wedding, tourists, students, and construction workers. I saw young and old, fat and skinny, rich and poor. I saw people from every nationality, creed, and race. Each person had their own purpose, their own destination. And yet, every person was relying upon the same mode of transportation.
Read Galations 3:14
Christians are as diverse as the people who ride the tube are. Each person has his own calling, his or her purpose ordained by God. They know their destination, and the way to get there. But they all use the same mode of transport, Christ Jesus. Through Him, people enjoy the promise of God, no matter what they look like, what they do, or how much they have.
Riding the train is not always a joy. Sometimes we have to wait for the train. Sometimes the train is very crowded, so we must stand and hold on to keep our balance. Along the way, we often suffer, through the crime of a pickpocket or the nasty attitude of a grumpy commuter. But then there are the moments when we get on the train and there are plenty of empty seats. Or we meet a kind stranger.
Each Christian, whoever they are and whatever their purpose, must get there through faith in Jesus Christ. The journey is not always easy, often filled with suffering, but is also filled with many joys. Enjoy your journey.
Violated After a lovely day in London, we were on our final train. When we first boarded the train, it was jam-packed. We were parked at the last station on the line. The crowd thinned with each stop. We eventually found seats to sit and rest our weary feet. As we neared our destination, we were among just a handful of travelers. As we gathered our stuff to depart from the train, I discovered my purse was empty. Someone managed to take just about everything; my money, some of my credit cards and many membership cards.
Of course, I felt violated. I worried about what could happen. In my mind I went through my wallet, trying to remember what was there. I felt like an idiot. I should have been more careful. I wanted the car to go faster so I could be at home to call and cancel everything. I prayed that they would be arrested and punished. I prayed for some sort of miracle. Throughout the ordeal, my focus was on the flesh, my failure and my fears.
We got home, I took care of all the business, and then I shared my experience with some friends. One after another, people I love and respect shared their own experiences of violation. I was not alone. These guys are professionals. The love and encouragement helped me find some peace. Then I remembered Jesus’ words:
Read Matthew 5:38-39a
I felt violated, but I had to let it go. I began to pray for the pickpocket, to ask God to touch his or her life. I gave the money to them, praying that it would be put to good use. I forgave them, and prayed for them. This was very difficult to do. It took God’s love and His mercy. My flesh wanted revenge, but God wanted me to be merciful.
Read John 16:33
Through Him, I was able to overcome the cares of this world. When you face suffering, remember to turn to Him for the strength and wisdom to see you through.
Electricity The electricity is different in England, compared to America. The voltage is 220 instead of 110. If you were able to plug an American appliance into a British socket, the likely result would be a broken appliance. We have overcome this problem in many ways. We bought some new appliances, which are made for the higher voltage. This is a very costly alternative. Another solution is to have dual voltage appliances. Our TV and other electronic equipment can run off either voltage. The danger of this particular option is that you must be careful to have the appliance set to the right voltage, or you will destroy your equipment.
There is a third option, a piece of equipment called a transformer. A transformer is a mediator between electrical source and appliance. It converts the electricity to the proper voltage. We have several portable transformers that we use on occasion. We also have one large transformer. This house was built with American plugs, and the large transformer converts the electricity to the proper voltage for the entire house.
Read Hebrews 9:15
A transformer makes it possible for us to use our appliances in a world where they just do not fit. Our appliances do not fit, do not work and could get damaged if we force their use.
Christ is like a transformer. He makes it possible for us to use our gifts in a world where they just do not fit. This world does not understand faith and hope. This world does not understand life. Through Christ we are given the power necessary to live according to His life, while still living in the world where a different kind of power is used. The power here is of the flesh. Through Christ we can live according to the Spirit. Have you plugged into the Great Transformer, our Lord Jesus Christ?
Time I do not understand all the particulars, but electricity not only has a voltage, but it also has speed. This is called megahertz. The speed of electricity is different in England than in America. In England, it runs at 50 megahertz and in America it runs at 60 megahertz. Things run slower here in England. In the case of most appliances, it does not matter very much. An American vacuum cleaner does not clean as well on European electricity, because the brush does not spin as quickly, but the difference is insignificant. There is no way to convert the speed of the electricity, even with a transformer.
The speed does matter, however, when it comes to clocks. An American clock on European electricity looses time rather quickly. To overcome this problem, we have many battery-run or wind up clocks around our house, as well as several clocks made for the proper speed.
The problem with battery-run and wind up clocks is that they are not as consistent as clocks that run on constant electricity. Batteries wear out and the clockworks wind down. No matter how hard we try, we do not have two clocks in the house that are set to the same time. We know which clock is closest, so when we need an accurate time, we look to that clock.
Read Hosea 10:12
Very often, when the scriptures speak of time, it is in the present. The time is now. We spend a great deal of time remembering the past and looking forward to the future, but the time is now. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is far more than just going to church or doing some service for your community. It is about seeking the LORD. Work at your relationship with Him now. It does not matter what time it is, or when he will come again, as long as we are seeking Him each moment of our lives.
White noise White noise is defined in Encyclopedia Brittanica as “a complex signal or sound covering the entire range of frequencies, or tones, all of which have equal intensity.” Many people use white noise to help them meditate or sleep. Noise, however, is generally undesirable, because it masks information. White noise can cause confusion by covering the actual signals.
We encounter noise around us constantly. We hear the sounds of the traffic outside or the TV inside. Our families provide a constant source of words and sounds. We are even aware of the more subtle sounds around us, like a dripping faucet or the refrigerator running. Some noise is unpleasant. We learn to tune out much of the noise around us, hearing only the information we deem important. Children are particularly good at selective hearing, blocking out the voice of mom calling them home when they are not ready.
Unfortunately, we often get so good at tuning out undesired noise, that we often stop listening to the important information. Many arguments occur due to lack of communication, one person not hearing the words of the other. We keep the TV on and tune it out, yet the words and information still reach our ears. Confusion reigns when we can no longer distinguish between the important information and the white noise.
This often happens in our walk with Christ. God’s truth is the true information, but it is often covered by the white noise of man-made doctrines and practices. We become confused when we can no longer distinguish between the two. Many of the ideas coming from man sound good, and seem to play a valuable role.
Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-2
It is very important to discern between the true message of the gospel and the false ideas of man-made doctrine. Through prayer and Bible study, we can set aside those things that distract us. When our focus is on God and we hear His word, we will know His peace.
Storm A harbour is normally a place of safety. The boat that is moored in its slip appears protected, but in the midst of a storm, being secured is dangerous. The boat is tossed in the wind and the waves, crashing against anything that stands in its way. After a storm, we often view pictures of boats stacked upon one another, splintered by the lashing they received.
Smart boat owners will take their boats out to sea, set anchor, and ride out the storm. This seems downright crazy. After all, who would leave the comfort of home to go out in a storm? I imagine there are moments that are terrifying. For some, the fear can be overwhelming and they question the decision to leave the safety of the harbour. They want to go back. A well-trained captain will know how to ride out the storm, and will not turn back.
The Israelites faced a similar dilemma. They knew Egypt was not a safe haven, but the uncertainly of what lie ahead was overwhelming.
Read Numbers 14:1-4
Moses, Aaron, Caleb and Joshua knew that before them lie a land flowing with milk and honey. They cried out to the Israelites to have faith in God. Yet the people still rebelled.
Sometimes we are called out of our comfort zone. God moves us away from the safe harbour to ride out the storm. He trains us to stand up against the wind and the rain, so that we will still be standing when the storm blows over. Ride out the storm in faith, away from the harbour, with the knowledge God gives you. You will be blessed.
Eye of the storm A hurricane begins as a low-pressure area. Under certain conditions, the air surrounding this low pressure begins to spiral, causing a vortex. The winds gain speed and the storm develops into a hurricane. This low-pressure area becomes the center of the storm, also known as the “eye”. The air pressure in the eye is extremely low, the lowest recorded pressure was found in the heart of a hurricane.
The pressure stays low in the storm due to warm, moist air. As conditions change, such as the storm moving into cooler water or inland, the pressure in the center changes. This causes the winds to slow down and the storm to deteriorate.
The center of the storm, the eye, is calm and peaceful. There is little or no wind, no clouds or rain. The air temperature tends to be warmer in the center than in the rest of the storm. The eye of the storm gives life to the storm around.
Read Proverbs 14:30
We have life because of the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is at the center of our being, in our hearts giving us peace, which is life. With Him at the core, we develop into a powerful force, impacting the world around us. Unfortunately, we are often as destructive as a hurricane. We plow headfirst into anything that stands in our way, tearing down everything that does not bend to our ideas. It is not the eye of the storm that causes destruction. It is the winds around it that does.
When people look at your Christian walk, do they only see a path of destruction caused by the winds and rain? This is not life, it is death. When you have a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the life the world will see is the eye of the storm, His life, which is one of peace.
Renovation The ancient cathedrals, which are nearly a thousand years old, are often hidden under scaffolding. Some part of the structure is being cleaned and repaired. This process takes a great deal of time, because they do more than just slap a new coat of paint on the wall. The stone must be carefully cleaned. The mortar must be checked to see if it is disintegrating, and replaced if necessary. Each stone must be studied for signs of wear, such as cracks and erosion. It is not good enough to just cover the problems, to hide them under a façade of fresh paint.
The same can be said about home repair. When our houses begin to look a little shabby, we go out and buy a can of paint, to make the house look fresh and new. When watching a show on TV like This Old House, we discover that it is very important to look for damage within the structure before replacing the outer image. There is often rotting or cracks in the wood. If these problems are just covered over, the problem will move inward, causing greater destruction to the structure. The building will eventually fall down.
Our flesh is a structure that needs repair. We are peeling, cracked, warped. We are corrupted from the inside, rotting away in sin. When this sin begins to show, we cover it over with a fresh coat of paint, such as some good works or self-righteousness. We try to hide our faults from the world.
Read 1 John 1:8-9
God is a contractor who does His work well. He searches beyond the surface to see the root problems in our flesh. If we confess our imperfections, God will do whatever is necessary to repair the structure. This process can be painful. Exposing our imperfections to the world often brings ridicule and rejection. Having the very foundation of our structure replaced costs us everything, to the very death of self.
It is not enough to be covered with the righteousness of Christ. We must be repaired from the inside out, completely renovated so that we will be strong and stand the test of time.
Rainbows It takes both rain and sun to create a rainbow. A partly cloudy sky with rain showers means that the sun can shine through the droplets. The sunlight is refracted and totally internally reflected, thus creating the bow of colours in the sky. Thin bands of clouds often move across England, giving us the perfect weather conditions. We are not only blessed with rainbows, but we are blessed with magnificent full, bright double rainbows. Whenever I see a rainbow, I call that a rainbow day.
Rainbow days are when we remember the promises of God.
Read Genesis 9:12-13
We don’t need rainbows to have a rainbow day. We don’t need miracles to be aware of the hand of God in this world. We can be in remembrance of God’s promises at every moment, by seeing His presence even in the most mundane experiences. Jesus Christ made it possible for us to have a close personal relationship with our Father in heaven. As we grow in our faith and become closer to God, we recognize Him more and more.
Read Ezekiel 1:28
God is speaking to you today, in the beauty of the flowers, in the laughter of a child, in the words of a friend. Do you hear Him, or are you waiting for the rainbow in the clouds to be reminded of His promises. You can make today a rainbow day. God loves you so much that He sent Jesus Christ to make a difference in your life. Remember that, and see His glory.
Music Sarah Nichols was a talented young musician. Several years ago she contracted meningitis, and passed away. Meningitis is a disease that attacks mostly young people. In England, six out of every 100,000 people contract some form of the disease and many die each year. The Meningitis Research Foundation is working to find a solution to this problem. A major vaccination program has begun at schools to help alleviate the danger to our youth.
Sarah’s parents, refusing to allow Sarah’s life to pass in vain, began organizing a music concert each year in her memory. The proceeds from these concerts are given to the Meningitis Research Foundation, so that no more children will die from this dread disease. So far, £11,500 (approximately $19,000) has been raised in Sarah’s memory.
This year’s concert was last evening. Hundreds of people came to listen to the songs of the choir and orchestra. Especially delightful were the extremely talented young people who performed. They were committed to making the evening a success. Even more so, the musicians and singers were committed to glorifying God with their music.
Read Ephesians 5:19-20
Last night, in memory of Sarah Nichols, 50 people, young and old, joined voices and talents to thank God for our many blessings. They raised over £1000. Sarah is still missed, but her family and friends have taken the tragedy and given it to God, to use according to His plan and purpose. May He be glorified in our good times and our bad times. May we always raise our voices in songs of thanksgiving and praise for all He has done.
Coincidence Coincidence is defined in Webster’s as “the state or fact of coinciding” or “a seemingly planned sequence of accidentally occurring events.” We have all experienced some coincidences. We need to talk to someone, and they call us on the phone. We need a baby-sitter and we meet a teenager trained in caring for children. We need cash to buy new sneakers for our children, and find twenty bucks in our coat pocket.
I have been working on building a web page. Unfortunately, I am not computer literate. I can push the right buttons, but when asked for a file, I go glassy eyed. I have tried several different programs, all highly recommended. Each time I have failed. This weekend, as I chatted with a friend, I discovered he has learned how to build web pages. He offered to help me, and took me step by step through the process, patiently explaining everything.
I have not spoken to my friend in a long time. Was it coincidence that we should speak this weekend? I was ready to give up the idea of having a web page. But soon, thanks to my friend, these daily words will be available to read at your leisure. I do not think it was a coincidence. I see God’s hand in the midst of this event, bringing us together to accomplish something which will bring Him glory. Why? Why does God care so much for us that He would play so active a role in our lives?
Read Psalm 8:3-8
In the garden, God created man and gave him dominion over all the earth. We’ve never done a very good job at caring for God’s creation. So, He sent His son, Jesus Christ, who came and died to fulfill man’s appointed destiny. Why would God do this? Why did He create us, die for us, and continue to touch our lives daily in very real ways? Simply, because He loves us.
Chasing flies Felix is our cat. He is a rather insane animal. Of course, at only 16 months old, he really is still a kitten. He loves to play.
We had a fly in the house. Of course, it was not a very big fly, and as long as it didn’t buzz in my ear, I didn’t even notice it. Felix always notices the flies, and spends many happy hours tearing from one room to another in hot pursuit of this nearly invisible playmate. He rarely ever catches the fly, but he grants us some hysterical moments of entertainment as he jumps, slides, pounces and flips in every direction.
As I watched Felix play with a fly, I realized we often act the same way. We chase after things, which are too fast, beyond our grasp, or invisible to others. We often look like fools chasing after these things, not realizing how unimportant they truly are.
I was disappointed today. Something I wanted slipped from my grasp. After I dealt with the feelings of hurt and anger, I realized that I was chasing something that did not really matter. It is not God’s will for my life at this moment, so I need to accept the situation as it is and move on.
Read Ecclesiastes 1:12-14
What are you chasing? Are you chasing money? Opportunity? Relationships? Approval?
These things are like Felix’s fly. They are fleeting, often beyond our grasp. Even if we catch them, they are not permanent. Our pursuit should not be the things of this world, the things under heaven. We should always be seeking the heavenlies, the throne of our Lord, the Face of God Himself. The rest is meaningless. He is forever. Stop chasing the flies and rest in the Father. In His arms, you’ll find what you seek.
Weight Loss When you successfully diet, many things change about your body. As the pounds drop, you find physical activity is easier, breathing steadies, your heart and other organs work well. As the pounds drop, your physical appearance changes. Clothes that once were snug become looser, until they are too big to even wear. It can be very frustrating to wear a pair of jeans that are much too big. The advantages of weight loss far outweigh the disadvantages of buying new clothes.
Accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is something like weight loss. We unburden ourselves of the things that weigh us down. He takes away our sins. As we go through the process of sanctification, we realize that our old clothes no longer fit and we must replace the old with the new.
Read Romans 13:11-14
Weight loss is a process. We don’t lose 30 pounds overnight. We take one day at a time, eating properly and exercising, working toward a goal. At first the clothes do not feel too bad. We hide the fact that they do not fit with big shirts and belts. We continue to put up with the clothes which no longer fit, until the day when we can no longer stand them.
Our relationship with Christ is the same way. At first, we continue in our old ways, covering them with new ideas and actions, which seem to hold up the old clothes. As the process continues, we realize that our old ways no longer fit our new bodies, and that we must remove those death clothes. Then we can clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ and His righteousness. This is LIFE.
Diamonds When my mother passed away last year, I inherited a diamond ring. At approximately two carats, it is a lovely ring, and a special reminder of my dear mother. After the funeral, as we helped my dad sort through Mom’s things, I found another ring. The stone was approximately the same size as the diamond, and when properly cleaned appeared to be another diamond. As a matter of fact, it was such a beautiful stone, we began to think the real one was a fake stone and the newly found ring was the real thing. Side by side, to an untrained eye, the second ring appeared to be the real one.
To clear up any confusion, we took both rings to a jeweler. At first glance, the jeweler knew which was the real ring and which was false. To be sure, he took a special piece of equipment that shoots a beam of light into the stone, and then reads the reaction. After the test, we had assurance of the real verses the false.
Do you ever wonder if your faith is real? Does your assurance ever waver when you hear someone teach or preach? John warns in his first epistle of antichrists, false teachers who are trying to lead believers astray.
Read 1 John 2:24-27
God has written His word on our hearts. We have life because He lives in us. Do not allow your assurance to waver because of the words of men. You have been anointed by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Hear His voice, know His presence and remain in Him as He remains in you. This is real. This is LIFE.
HTML HTML is the computer language that makes an online website look as it does. It includes simple codes and punctuation, which look strange to the untrained eye. When properly written, these tags can retrieve hamsters that dance, worlds that revolve, and stories that come to life on your screen. A week ago, I did not understand the language at all. Thanks to a wonderful teacher, I am beginning to understand the tags and can write simple phrases myself.
As my friend and I were sorting out my website, he tried to send me some sentences over the email so I could fix some problems in the site. When properly written and sent to whatever reads HTML, the code automatically converts to the link or picture it represents. The HTML tag creates the desired effect wherever it appears. To send the code from one place to another, we add periods in a few key places, which confuse the language and it just appears to be characters in a line. When received and placed in the programming, the periods can be removed, which will make the code work properly.
God is like a computer programmer. He has written a language on our hearts that automatically converts and appears in our lives. Unfortunately, we have things that block the language; periods put in a few key places. This is sin. When that is removed, desired effect occurs.
Read John 14:15-21
We surf the web and do not see the language, which makes the pictures appear. The language is hidden in the heart of the computer, but manifests itself in exciting and beautiful websites. God has written a language in our hearts which can’t be seen by the world, but when we love God and obey His commands, that language is manifested in a beautiful way for the world. They see the fruits of the Spirit.
Research One of the first rules a writer learns is that he should write about subjects that are familiar to him. A person who has never been to Alaska will have great difficulty writing with confidence about living in Alaska. A writer who has not studied Civil War history will be unable to write an historical novel set in that time period. The book might be written, but integrity is lost if the writer does not have the proper knowledge. A writer must be well informed on the subject of their writing. Some writers spend months, even years, researching a topic before they even write one word.
Yesterday, I tried to write about HTML programming. My knowledge of the subject was limited, which caused some confusion. Since I was not completely familiar with the technical aspects of HTML programming, I was unable to communicate the example in a way that was easily understood.
As Christians, we must be familiar with Christ Jesus to be able to share His message. This takes research. Luke, the physician, did not settle to write only what he experienced through his travels with Paul. He carefully investigated Jesus’ life and ministry to put together an accurate account of the story.
Read Luke 1:1-4
If we are to be certain of our relationship with Christ Jesus, we too must research and be completely familiar with His story. Through prayer and Bible study, we learn of His works, His Words, and His message, familiarizing ourselves with each aspect. Then we can go and share that Word with others, knowing with certainty the message of Christ will be understood and received by those who hear.
Read Revelation 5:12
Worthy is the Lamb: A Modern Parable
Once there was a small town. It was a pretty normal town, with lots of houses, and people. The people worked at normal jobs, had children, ate and drank just like you and me. There was one thing that stood out about these folk. They all had dirty faces. Its not that they didn’t try to wash their faces, but the dirt just would not come off. They knew it was wrong to have a dirty face. As a matter of fact, they had a school where teachers taught them how wrong it was that their faces were dirty. The teachers taught them many rules about how to clean their faces, such as a special soap to use, or a special time to clean them. The teachers of the rules followed all the rules and thought their faces were clean. But the people could see that their faces were still dirty.
One day a stranger came into town. His face was clean. It was so clean, that it shined. He was very sad that all the people had dirty faces. He was angry with the teachers. He began to teach in the school. He taught them that the rules were good but that they would not make the dirt go away. He taught them that there was only one way to wash their faces. He told them how much God loved them, and how much He wanted them to be clean.
One day, a lady whose face was very dirty came to listen to the man. When he saw her, he cried because he loved her so much and he was sad that her face was so dirty. He wiped the tears from his face and then touched hers. The dirt went away. The people were amazed, and many came to get their faces washed. He loved each of them, touched them and washed away the dirt. This made the teachers very angry. They wanted the people to go to them for the rules.
The teachers decided that the man needed to go away. They tried to trick him with questions, but the man knew God so well that the teachers could not fool him. Finally, they said he had done something wrong and they made him go away.
Before he left, the clean-faced man told his friends and his followers that all they had to do is remember him and he would make their faces clean again. See, the only one who was worthy to tell the people how to stay clean was the one whose face was clean. To believe in him and his words, meant that they were following God’s law, not just a list of rules made up by the dirty faced teachers.
Jesus Christ is that clean-faced man. He came to us, and died for us, so that we might be cleansed of all our sins and have eternal life. Only He was worthy. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do this and have eternal life.
Evacuation Evacuees must make many decisions as they prepare to leave their homes. Do we follow the order or stay and protect our homes? Where shall we go? What should we take?
During the recent evacuation order in response to Hurricane Floyd, a story is told of a young girl who had the simplest answers to those questions. Her father was busy filling the car with clothes, important documents and memories. She stood in the front yard with a bullhorn saying, “Leave! Be Safe! Take your Bible!” At three years old, this girl knew the truth.
Read Matthew 11:25-30
Children do not complicate things with worries. They give up their burdens easily to those who are better able to carry them. In their innocence, they are able to see the simplest solutions to the things adults make very complicated. The little girl in the hurricane knew the truth. She knew to get out of the way of the danger, to go be where it was safe, and to take God with her.
Has a child tried to tell you a simple truth, and you ignored simply because they were young and naïve? How often do we laugh at the foolishness of children? Yet, these are the ones to whom God reveals Himself. Take a moment to listen to the children, hear His voice in their words. Stop being a grown up for just a moment. Stop being weary and burdened, and find rest in Him.
Rowing Rowing is a favorite sport at some universities. Oxford and Cambridge have had an annual race for 160 years. A similar race happens between Harvard and Yale.
In any sport, teamwork is important. It is important for members of the team to listen to the coach or the captain, so that the team is working together to be successful. In rowing, the members of the crew must be in complete accord, working at exactly the same pace and strokes, according to the call of the captain. For a crew to be successful, they must be as one, listening only to the voice that calls the rhythm of the oars. It takes a great deal of practice for a crew to be of one mind.
In 2 Chronicles, Israel had fallen away from the LORD. When Hezekiah became king, he reopened the temple and repaired it, calling for the Levites to consecrate themselves and the temple. He knew that Israel’s own failures brought the LORD’s wrath, and that repentance would bring relief. In chapter 30, Hezekiah calls all of Israel to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Not all responded to the call.
Read 2 Chronicles 30:11-12
The crowd assembled, and not all were purified according to the law. Hezekiah prayed that God would forgive those who were there, seeking Him. The assembly rejoiced during the festival, singing praises to the LORD. The assembly agreed to keep celebrating, large numbers of priests consecrated themselves, and all that were present rejoiced in the LORD.
Read 2 Chronicles 30:27-31:1
They came together and did according to the word of the LORD. Then, as one, they set out to destroy that which was against the LORD. They heard His voice and responded in unity. Are we as one, listening to His voice, working together for His will?
Autumn The days are getting shorter. The nights are getting cooler. The leaves on the trees are beginning to turn bright shades of red and orange and yellow. It is the time for bringing in the harvest, for praising the LORD for showering His blessings upon us, and for storing up fruits for the long winter ahead.
Read Proverbs 21:20
How often do we receive a financial windfall, and then rush out to spend it? We rarely put ‘free money’ in the bank, thinking that since it was unexpected, we can spend it as we please. Then when we fall on financial hard times, we complain there is not enough to cover.
In Genesis, Joseph saved many nations because he stored grain for the bad times. He even saved his own family from the death of hunger. The other nations ate of their fruits at the time of harvest, not looking forward to the time when there may be a drought.
God has blessed us in many ways, giving us the fruits of the earth as well as the fruits of the Spirit. We often take these fruits and devour them, leaving nothing for the days ahead. When we come to the times of darkness, the winters of our lives, we have nothing left to see us through.
Read Matthew 25:1-4
Those who are wise in the kingdom of heaven are prepared for the time of darkness. Do not wear yourself out or waste your gifts. Seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit at all times, that the gifts you are given are used wisely, and for His glory. We tend to think that God needs us to do works. In reality, He does the work. Be prepared for His time, His way, and to see His glory.
Travel I have been preparing for a trip. This trip has been planned for several weeks and I’ve spent a great deal of time talking about it. The most frequently asked question has been “Are you packed yet?” This trip will only last 5 days. How much could I possibly need? So, no, I did not begin packing until hours before I was to leave.
In the Exodus, the Israelites had very little time to prepare for their journey into the wilderness. They could only take what they could carry. They were leaving a place they had called home for four hundred and thirty years. They had to trust that God would direct their route and provide for their needs.
In Matthew 10:5-10, Jesus sent the twelve disciples on a journey. He told them to go empty handed, to trust that everything they needed would be provided. They had no need to prepare for such a journey; they just needed to know that God would provide direction and resources.
My journey is a little different because I know where I am going. Still, I do not know what will happen tomorrow. I have shared my excitement for this adventure, talking of my plans, but have I focused on God’s will in this adventure?
Read James 4:13-17
When we set out on any journey, we must remember that wherever we go, we should desire it to be God’s will. Do not boast about what good works you are about to do. Just pray that what you do is according to God’s will.