Welcome to the November 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. Where scripture is quoted, I used the American Standard Version of the Holy Bible which belongs to the public domain.
A WORD FOR TODAY, November 2000
November 1, 2000
Saints Today is the day that many churches celebrate All Saint’s Day. It is a time to remember those who have passed through death into life eternal. Throughout the ages, men and women who have led exemplary Christian lives have been given a special title so that they will be remembered for their remarkable deeds in the service of our Lord, or because of their commitment to God.
St. Agatha was a very beautiful woman who lived in the third century. A powerful man wanted her to be his wife, but she refused. He forced her into a brothel, but she remained pure. Then he had her tortured and finally tried and killed for being a Christian. The physical pain she endured was incredible, but through it all she remained deeply committed to Jesus.
St. Edmund lived in East Anglia, England in the 9th century. During this time the people of this region were threatened by the invasion of the Danish. Edmund was king, and a very committed Christian. Edmund tried to make peace with the invaders, but they continued to destroy. The army fought valiantly, but eventually lost to the stronger Danes, who then went on to destroy the churches. They killed Edmund, who stands as one of the few English kings who died for his religious beliefs as well as in defense of his throne.
St. Camillus de Lellis was a man who lived a rather wild and unsavory life in the 16th century. He was a paid soldier and lost everything he had to gambling. He worked for some monks as a labourer. One day he heard the friar preaching and fell to his knees asking God for forgiveness. He wanted to become a monk but was refused permission. He returned to Rome and worked in a hospital. His new God-centered perspective made him realize the horrible conditions of the hospitals and he worked to improve conditions. He was given funds with which he built new, better hospitals. He founded a society called “Servants of the Sick” and its members were willing to serve the sick, even at the risk of their own lives.
There are thousands of people who have been recognized throughout the millennia for their work for God’s Kingdom. Yet, they are not the only saints. All those who have believed in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ are saints. The definition of a saint is one who is separated from the world and consecrated to God. That includes all those who believe in His name. It includes our parents, friends, siblings and spouses who have died in the service of Christ. Today we remember them. Though we mourn the passing of those we love, this is a day to be thankful for their love and lives. We praise God for that brief moment in time when they were with us and rejoice in knowing that they will spend eternity with the Lord.
Read Ephesians 1:15-17
Saints are not only those who have died, but those who live in Christ today. We are saints. As I have remembered those who have died, so now I remember you, my beloved friends and fellow saints. May God bless you and keep you. May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May He look upon you with favour and give you His peace. I ask all this in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And I thank Him for you.
Walking in step As Zack and I walked to school yesterday morning, Zack realized that we were walking in step. The moment he called it to my attention, we went out of stride. He tried desperately to get back into the rhythm, but the more he tried, the harder it was for him. He gave up, until a few moments later he realized we were doing it again. Then, as soon as he tried to keep it going, we lost it. This happened repeatedly throughout the walk, Zack trying hard to keep to my rhythm, but the more he tried, the harder it was to do.
I was involved with the marching band in my school days. We practiced for hours so that our marching would be synchronized. No matter how well we work together, there were always incidents of people getting out of step. It is comical to watch a band member try to get back into the rhythm during a parade. The harder they try, the more they fail.
When Zack and I were just walking along, holding hands and chatting about things, it was natural for us to walk in step. He didn’t realize that it was when he turned his attention away from our conversation to his feet that it became difficult work to keep it going. He tried too hard to make it continue, when it was a natural thing that took no work at all. We do the same in our walk with the Lord. We turn our attention from our relationship with God, thinking about the work we are doing, and then the work becomes difficult.
Read Matthew 14:25-33
The good fruit that we produce in our walk with God is a natural response to our relationship with Him. It doesn’t take a lot of thought or work. We must simply trust Him and walk with Him, and by the power of His Holy Spirit, we’ll be able to even walk on the water. However, we spend so much of our time trying to keep in step with Jesus, that we lose the rhythm and miss out on the joy of being in His presence. Today, just walk with Him and do not doubt. He will accomplish a great work through that trust. Thanks be to God.
Round-up A teacher shared this story with me:
“On October 31, a dad who has never helped in the classroom came and spent the day with us. I was not certain what he could do to help, but I always enjoy having a parent volunteer in the class. So, I gave him the digital camera and had him take some pictures of our activities. He took four disks of pictures and was having a fun time with the children. As the day wore on, I could tell he was getting a bit frazzled and tired.
Watching a teacher as she gathers the children to do something is much like watching someone who cares for geese. She calls them to her and they come. They arrange themselves in a line to go to another place or on the carpet for stories. As this is happening, one or two always seem to take off in another direction. They’ve forgotten one thing or another. Once one goes, they all seem to take off. Then she has to call them back again. It is exhausting to watch.
Christians are like a gaggle of geese. God gathers us together to lead us in the right direction, but someone always takes off in another direction. Others follow, so God must once again call us back into His presence. At times we think we know the better way. We don’t realize how much safer it is to stay close to Him.
Read Psalm 91:1-4
There are times when a classroom seems to be chaotic. However, a good teacher is able to control the children even when they seem to be out of control. At times, she gives them a little space to make mistakes so that they realize that it is better to be obedient to the rules and follow the order that has been established in the classroom. The children learn and grow in her care, and they seem to always be where they are meant to be.
God Himself is the Good Teacher. He is able to keep us grounded and to draw us near to Him so that we will learn and grow in His Kingdom. At times He gives us space, allowing us to take off in the wrong direction for a moment, so that we will realize it is much better under in His presence. It is there that we will find protection. He is our refuge, our hope, our peace, and our joy. Thanks be to God.
Tabernacle After the Hebrews escaped from Egypt, they came to Mt. Sinai. There, Moses met with God and received His written Word, in the Ten Commandments. God instructed Moses about how to live under His care and protection. The Hebrews were given very specific regulations about property, law, health and safety. God spoke at length about the place where the Hebrews would worship Him. In Exodus 25-30 we find the details of the tabernacle, the portable temple where God would reside among His people while they traveled to the Promised Land. Moses was told to recreate it exactly.
Read Hebrews 8:5
There were a number of furnishings inside the tabernacle, each representing some aspect of God's character or the relationship between God and His people. These furnishings were made from the best materials, designed to bring glory and honour to God. Acacia wood was used because it is durable and immune from insect attack. The curtain is made from scarlet and purple - symbolic of royalty - and finely twisted linen that were quite expensive. Gold is used for detail and decoration. Even the priests were cleansed and clothed in the finest apparel so they would not bring disgrace in the presence of God.
This tabernacle was used during the years while the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness. After they settled into the Promised Land, David promised to build a permanent dwelling for God. He collected the necessary materials, and then his son Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem. This temple also followed the pattern established from heaven.
The priests served in this temple but they were not always faithful to the word of God. Eventually they made the Law an incredible burden on the people. When the time was right, God sent His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to show what it truly meant to worship in Spirit and Truth. Jesus displayed the character of God, as originally defined in the tabernacle, then recreated in the temple. Throughout the book of John, Jesus makes a number of claims about Himself that line up directly with the furnishings in the temple. For the next few days, we will explore these statements and understand our life with God and our Lord Jesus in light of the pattern shown to Moses.
Bread Inside the Holy Place is a table on which twelve loaves of bread were displayed. These loaves of bread were made with the first fruits of the field. The people offered these loaves in thanksgiving for all God provided for them. This bread was called the bread of the presence and was identified with the presence of God Himself. They knew God sustained His people and it was only by His provision that they could offer anything in return.
We need food to sustain our bodies and keep us healthy. Jesus recognized the importance of asking God for nourishment when He taught His disciples to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." The importance of physical fulfillment was even shown in the encounter between Jesus and Satan when Jesus was fasting in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry. When Jesus grew hungry, Satan told him to make the stones into bread.
Hunger happens in the wilderness, since there is no food available. When Moses was leading the Hebrews to the Promised Land, they got hungry. God provided for their nourishment by sending manna from heaven, which they made into bread. The people were filled with enough food to keep their bodies strong for the long journey, but in the process they learned to rely on God for every bite.
When Jesus faced Satan, He responded with, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." In the tabernacle, we are reminded about God's presence in the bread, and that God is who fills us with the necessities of life. During Jesus' ministry, the priests sought similar miracles as those Moses performed in the wilderness.
Read John 6:30-35
Jesus told the people that He is the bread of life. While physical nourishment is still a necessary part of our life, we are reminded of the fact that we need God even more. In the tabernacle, the bread represented the presence of God. Today, we are filled with the true bread from heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ, whose life sustains us each day.
Light In the same room as the bread of the presence was a lampstand made of pure gold. The Jews gave the oil used in these lamps. As the oil burned, it represented the glory of the Lord reflected in the consecrated lives of God's people. The light shone onto the bread and acted as a witness to the presence of God.
In the Old Testament, it was necessary to provide two or more witnesses to convict a man to death. In John chapter 8, a crowd brought a woman to Jesus who was guilty of prostitution. They said that Moses had written that she should be stoned and asked what Jesus would do. Jesus asked if any of them were without sin. One by one they walked away, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. Since there was no one else present to be a witness, Jesus told her that He would not condemn her either, and that she should leave her life of sin. Sin is a part of our lives. We are born with a sinful nature, walking in the darkness of the world. But Jesus tells us of another way.
Read John 8:12-19
The light in the tabernacle acted as a witness to the presence of God. Jesus acted as a witness to the presence of God, but the Pharisees were unable to see that Jesus was not alone in His testimony. They did not recognize the light of God that shone from Jesus, just like the light that shone from the lampstand in the tabernacle. When we walk in darkness, we are condemned to death. But when we follow Jesus, we no longer walk in darkness, but are filled with the light that is Christ, and God's glory is reflected through our lives.
Gate The third item in the Holy Place of the tabernacle is the altar of incense. It was made of acacia wood and placed in front of the curtain that divided the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. The incense used was special, made of gum resin, onycha, albanum and frankincense. These ingredients were quite valuable and the incense was to be created by a perfumer. It was not to be used for any other purpose, as it was sacred and holy.
The smoke from the incense represented the prayers of God's people being lifted to Him. The smoke also covered the Ark of the Covenant when the high priest went to offer the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. The Altar of Incense was the doorway or gateway through which God's people approached God.
Throughout the ages, men have tried to approach God in many ways. They offered sacrifice and burnt incense before idols of gold. They tried to achieve righteousness by obeying burdensome laws. Even today, in our bookstores, there are rows of self-help books that claim to give us the path to the divine. God made it clear in the design of the tabernacle that there was only one way to approach God. God's people followed the plan and provided sacrifice to God in the incense and blood that He required of them.
Read John 10:7-10
Jesus Christ is like the altar of incense, in that He is the gateway into the Holy of Holies. It is through Jesus Christ that we can approach the throne of grace and come into the presence of the living God. Jesus said in John 14:13, "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." Our prayers are like sweet incense to God, and we offer those prayers through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is in His presence that we find real life.
Shepherd The scriptures repeatedly use the image of a shepherd for one who leads God's people. There were a multitude of priests that led the worship and did other tasks relating to the upkeep of the tabernacle and the spiritual lives of the people. However, there was one high priest. He was the only one who could enter the Holy of Holies to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat for the atonement of the sins of Israel. He did this on the Day of Atonement.
There was a very heavy curtain dividing the two rooms of the tabernacle. Behind the curtain was the Ark of the Covenant. The cover of the ark was called the mercy seat, and it was the very throne of God. Once a year, the high priest went through a cleansing ritual, which included sacrifice for the atonement of his sins. He was clothed in special robes. Even still, he was still not righteous enough to look at the mercy seat, so he covered it in the smoke from the altar of incense.
But Christ came and changed all that.
Read John 10:14-18
Hebrews 10:12 tells us that Christ offered for all time one sacrifice for sins. He was the good shepherd, the one priest who was righteous enough to approach the throne of grace and provide the final sacrifice. He offered the pure blood of the Lamb, Himself. At His death, the curtain that divided the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was ripped from top to bottom, thus opening the way for the priesthood of believers to enter into God's presence. Jesus Christ was the Great High Priest, the shepherd that leads His flock.
As we hear in Psalm 23, "Jehovah is my shepherd; I shall not want." Hear His voice and follow Him. The Good Shepherd provides all you need.
Resurrection Behind the curtain that divided the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, was the Ark of the Covenant. This was a chest made out of acacia wood and covered with gold, inside and out. There were gold rings to hold gold covered acacia wood poles. Inside were placed the most important objects of the Israelites. There was an atonement cover over the chest, made of pure gold. There were two cherubim made out of hammered gold on either end of the cover. This was the mercy seat, the throne of God. It was here that the high priest offered the blood of the sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. With that forgiveness, each person received a new start, new life. The priests were not worthy to offer permanent forgiveness, so the Day of Atonement was repeated every year.
The Great High Priest, our Lord Jesus Christ, gave us more than a temporary solution to our sin. He gave us the resurrection, the final victory over death. In the eleventh chapter of John, we see the story of Lazarus, a dear friend of our Lord Jesus. They called for Jesus to come heal him, but Jesus delayed His arrival. When Lazarus had already been dead for four days, Jesus arrived at the tomb and wept. In those days, the people believed that the soul left a person's body at the third day. They did not believe that Jesus could save Lazarus.
Read John 11:21-26
Jesus went to the tomb and called for Lazarus to come out. He raised him from the dead so that the people would see the glory of God. It was by His word that Lazarus rose from the dead. When Martha wept over the death of her brother, Jesus spoke His word and told her that He is the resurrection. He does not merely resurrect us, but it is in Him that we gain eternal life.
Jesus suffered death on a cross and was laid in a tomb. He was the Lamb slaughtered for our sins, and His blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat of God for our salvation. Three days later, the disciples found an empty tomb. In John 20, Mary looked inside and saw two angels sitting where Jesus' body had lain, one at the head and one at the foot. The Lamb no longer lay on the mercy seat. He was raised to new life for us, and when we believe in Him we never die. Do you believe?
The Way, the Truth, and the Life There are three objects inside the Ark of the Covenant. They were placed there according to God's command. First of all, there were the two tablets of the Ten Commandments. It is likely that these were two copies of the same thing, one copy belonging to Israel and the other to God. They were called the Tablets of the Testimony and they were, in essence, a contract. This was the Law of God, the way that the Israelites were called to live. The book of the Law was the set of rules that God gave to govern the nation of Israel. This book was not as important as the tablets - it was placed outside the Ark.
The next item inside the Ark is a gold jar filled with manna. Manna was given to the Hebrews as they wandered the wilderness in search of the Promised Land. They were hungry and God fed them the bread from heaven. God directed a gold jar of manna to be put in the Ark to remind the Israelites of the truth of God's provision. When Jesus faced Satan in His wilderness experience, He said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
The third item is the staff of Aaron. We hear the story in Numbers 17 about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. Some of the Levites grumbled and opposed Moses and Aaron. To prove to the people that Aaron was chosen to be priest, God ordered that twelve staffs be put in the Tent of the Testimony, one for each tribe of Israel. The staff that sprouted would be the chosen man. When Moses entered the tent the next morning, he found that Aaron's staff had not only sprouted, but had also budded, blossomed and produced almonds. God chose the one He appointed to serve as a priest and brought new life to his staff.
Read John 14:6-7
The Ark of the Covenant is the innermost part of the tabernacle. It is the heart of God. The way is the Law, as found in the Ark. This is not the book of rules that lay outside the Ark, but the very words of God written with His own finger. Jesus is that Word in flesh and we are called to live in Him. The truth is more than just the manna, but it is every word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus is that truth. Our life, like that staff of Aaron, is brought to new life because God has chosen us to be His priests. When we look at Jesus, we see the very heart of God - His way, His truth, and His life.
Intimacy For the past few days, we have studied the words of Jesus and the way He described Himself as recorded in the Gospel according to St. John. Each "I AM" statement is spoken to a different group of people, each group in a more intimate relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. "I am the bread" was spoken to a group of Jews. The light, gate and shepherd statements were made to Pharisees or teachers of the law. He was speaking to his dear friend Martha when He said, "I am the resurrection." "I am the way, the truth and the life" is spoken to His inner circle, the apostles.
Each statement draws us deeper into the tabernacle, deeper into the heart of God, deeper into a relationship with our Lord Jesus. As He shares these truths about Himself, He shows us the very character of God. By aligning Himself with the furnishings of the tabernacle, He shows that He is the living sanctuary of God. When Moses built the tabernacle, he copied what he had seen in heaven, the pattern that was established before the creation of the world. That pattern was the Christ, who took on the flesh of man to bring salvation to God's people.
Read Hebrews 8:8-13
Jesus brought that new covenant. He is the bread of the covenant; we are filled with His presence. He is the light that shines from within our hearts to witness to God's presence to the world. He is the gate through which our prayers are lifted to God. He is the resurrection, through whom we receive forgiveness from God and new life. He is the way, the truth and the life. It is by, with and through Jesus Christ that we are drawn into the heart of God. There we will find His blessings - grace, peace, love, mercy, joy, hope and life eternal.
There is one more "I AM" statement, which we will look at tomorrow. This final statement is the crux of the Christian life.
Vine In the Old Testament, the relationship between Israel and God is often referred to in terms of vineyards or vines. Israel is the vine, planted by God to bear His fruit. Unfortunately, throughout their relationship, Israel often turned from the ways of the Lord. The prophet Jeremiah writes, "Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate branches of a foreign vine unto me?" (Jeremiah 2:21) The prophets speak repeatedly about how the LORD will allow destruction to the vineyard. God has carefully planted, watered and cared for His chosen people, the vines. Yet, they are doomed because of their own failures.
There is no furnishing in the tabernacle that coincides with the vine, though there was a gold vine decorating the temple in Jerusalem. This vine was like a memorial plaque, provided by people to show their righteousness. They felt that they were righteous before God, because they obeyed the law and provided offerings to the temple. However, we have seen that we are righteous only through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Read John 15:1-8
In this study, Jesus has drawn us into a deeper relationship with the Father, until we have reached the very heart of God. We are part of His Kingdom; a branch connected to the vine that is our Lord Jesus Christ. We can do all things through Him who is in us. As we live our life in Christ, He will bring forth His word through us. The world will know we are His by the fruit that is produced - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. God does not keep us in the temple, but rather sends us out into the world to teach the Good News and make disciples of all nations. That's the essence of the Christian life - to share what we have first been given; to be His disciple and bear His fruit for the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Walk in His Light This past week, I spend five days in the tiny German village of Willigen at a Protestant Women of the Chapel conference. Over four hundred women gathered to praise and worship God and learn more about our relationship with Him. There were guest speakers, classes and workshops, fellowship and the most delightful food.
The theme for the week was “Walk in the Light” with the scripture coming from 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” The guest speaker was Elisa Morgan, the president of Mops International, and she shared her thoughts on how we can walk in His light.
I had the honour of being selected to teach a class on the Proverbs 31 woman. It was in this experience that God touched me so deeply and transformed my own life and walk with Him. As a writer, I spend a great deal of time preparing a class, carefully selecting every word and lovingly placing it on the page. It is filled with witty stories and carefully constructed phrases. I don’t want to miss anything during my presentation. So, when I teach, I lecture from my notes.
I realized this week that God didn’t create me to read from a script, but rather to step out boldly in trust and faith that His Word will be heard no matter how I present the material. I had two opportunities to teach the class. The first was a lecture and was poorly received by most of the women in the class. I was frustrated, hurt and disappointed by the response. However, it took me into prayer and caused me to listen closely to God for His guidance. By the second session, I was ready to dump the script and walk in His light in trust.
Read Psalm 37:5-6
We are often satisfied to keep our walk with God just as it is. I was quite happy to read the lecture as written. Yet, God wanted more from me, and He touched me so deeply that He moved me out of my comfort zone into a place of incredible blessing. I was transformed into the teacher God created me to be, so that I can share His light with others. It was quite painful, because we are satisfied with our old ways and do not want them to die. Yet, as the Psalmist writes, when we commit to walking in trust He will make us shine. For we are filled with His light and that light changes the world. Thanks be to God.
Gabbing When you put over four hundred women into one place, one thing is certain; there will be a lot of talking. We spent hours sharing our faith, concerns, hopes and visions for the future. We talked about theology, cosmetology and domesticity. We shared our battle stories from home, work and play. Throughout the week, we encouraged one another through our failures and successes, in the hopes that our stories will help others avoid the pitfalls of sin and walk more boldly in the light of our Lord.
Elisa Morgan’s topic one evening was “Facing Crossroads.” Most of the time, we think of those major moments of decision as the crossroads of our lives, and yet we face small crossroads every moment of every day. She shared a story about her reaction to some small mistake her son had made. She blew it out of proportion with her anger, thinking of her own inconvenience in the situation. She chose to sin; to yell rather than have mercy.
A friend shared a story at dinner about her family. One evening they sat at the dinner table eating the delicious meal of spaghetti she had prepared. Her eldest son sat at one end and her husband at the other. The bowl of spaghetti sauce was sitting in front of her son. He wanted the butter for his bread and asked his father to pass it to him. Instead of simply passing the container, he picked it up like a football and despite my friend’s glaring look lobbed it in the direction of her son. The son, shocked that his father would actually throw the butter container missed catching it, and it fell into the bowl of spaghetti sauce. The son was covered in sauce, and that moment of silliness affected the whole family.
Read Hebrews 12:1-3
Through our endless gab sessions, we learned that we should never throw the butter dish into a bowl of spaghetti sauce. Even more so, we realized that we face moments of decisions every day, decisions that will affect our lives and the lives of those touched by our actions. We must always keep our eyes fixed on our Lord Jesus Christ, walking as He walked and making each decision for the glory of God.
Impulse The village of Willigen is a lovely tourist village. There are opportunities for outdoor recreation, like skiing in winter and hiking in summer. The hotel is filled with plenty of activities – swimming, ice skating, saunas and fitness equipment to use. There are restaurants to satisfy every taste, and the village is filled with lovely shops. Though our schedule was filled with lots of sessions, workshops and worship, we did have some free time take advantage of all these wonderful offerings.
This was my last chance to visit Willigen, since we are moving back to the US in a few weeks. I managed a trip into town to do some Christmas shopping and buy a few reminders of this lovely German village. I did not have much time, so several of my purchases were impulse buys. I don’t have any regrets from this trip, but others in our group did act impulsively and doubted their actions after it was over.
We were limited in the amount of luggage we could carry on this trip, and many of the ladies had difficulty fitting their purchases into their bags. A few ladies wondered what their husbands would say when they arrived home with all these treasures. A few ladies acted on an impulse that would have a more lasting affect on their relationships with their spouses.
Several of the ladies made a trip into the village early in the week and decided to buy coloring for their hair. One woman bought permanent dye, and changed her hair colour completely. It was an impulsive act that made her look absolutely wonderful, and yet when it was over she regretted her actions. The ladies had some difficulty with the product they purchased and dye managed to stain more than her hair. The bottle broke so some of the dye spilled on the floor and their clothes. After it was over, she realized that her husband would not be very happy with her new look. That impulsive act will have a lasting affect – on the clothes, floor and her relationship.
When it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ, and our actions within that relationship, we are told to step out in faith. However, we should not do things on impulse, but rather we should spend time in prayer listening to the guidance of our Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes acting on faith means standing doing nothing at all.
Read 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
When you face moments of decision remember that there is always time to say a prayer and ask God for His opinion in the matter. That’s what it means to stand firm in the faith – to know God has the right answer. Think about the consequences of any action you take. Don’t act on impulse. As Paul writes in this verse, do everything in love considering the lives that will be affected by your decisions.
Waiting The past few months have been somewhat stressful on our family as we waited decisions that would affect our future. The final answers were provided yesterday, and now we are finally set on the course that will take us to our new assignment. In the next few weeks we will face packers, inspectors, and farewell parties. We will spend several weeks in a nearly empty house, without transportation or the many conveniences that we are accustomed to having. We are ready to deal with all these problems to move on to our new home and life.
Today, things are not exactly as we’d hoped. In some ways, we have mourned those things that have not come to be. Yet through it all, God is proving Himself to be ever faithful to His children, and we are praising Him for His goodness and mercy.
Read Psalm 33:1-9
We thank you all for your prayers during this time of waiting, and we humbly ask that you continue to pray during the time of transition. The daily word may be somewhat inconsistent in the coming weeks, as we pack away our computer to be shipped to Little Rock, Arkansas. We ask patience and your support in these days. And we thank God for you – your commitment, your love and your faith. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with each of you this day and always.
Dinner Party I tend to be obsessively overorganized when I throw a party, whether it is for one or a hundred. I carefully plan every detail so that when the time arrives for the party, I can enjoy myself rather than worry about minor details. I tend to choose food that can be prepared in advance so that I’m not stuck in the kitchen with the pots and pans rather than with my guests. I am careful to stick within a budget financially so that I do not cause unnecessary stress. The parties I throw are very simple because I prefer to share my family rather than try to impress my guests.
In each of the four gospels, we see how Jesus throws a dinner party. He was traveling with His disciples around the countryside sharing the Kingdom of God with the people. They were healing the sick and performing other miracles, filling the physical needs of those that came to hear the Word. They were tired, physically and emotionally and needed a rest. They also needed to share their experiences with Jesus, so He took them to be alone. But the crowd continued to follow Jesus and He did not turn them away.
As evening came across the land, the disciples tried to convince Jesus to send the people away to find food. Jesus told them to throw the ultimate dinner party – five thousand guests without preparation. The disciples could not believe that Jesus would ask this of them, since they did not have enough money or food to share with that many people. He told the disciples to bring whatever food they had, He blessed it and shared it with the people. They only had a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.
Read Matthew 14:19-20
Jesus has commanded us to feed the people, not with food but with His Word. We aren’t always given plenty of notice when God calls us to share our faith. We are afraid to share because we think we aren’t able to provide. We see our resources as being insignificant. This story about the feeding of the five thousand shows us that it isn’t about what we have to offer, but that God is able to use our measly offerings to satisfy the needs of all those who seek Him. Thanks be to God.
Farming Most of today’s farms are large corporate enterprises, with many acres of land and heavy equipment to do the work of preparation, planting and harvesting. The fields are tightly planted with whatever crop is being produced. This helps keep weeds from destroying a crop and makes harvest much easier. Though today’s modern farms produce crops for large groups of people, there were advantages to the farms of centuries ago.
Many years ago, farming was much different. Small communities did not need large quantities of food, so they worked much smaller fields. They did not have large mechanical tractors or plows, so they did everything by hand. Their fields were more flexible and better prepared. When the Europeans arrived in the New World, they found the Native Americans producing an unknown plant called maize (corn) and other vegetables.
When they planted the corn seed, three small fish were placed in each hole, to give nutrients to the soil for the plant. A bean seed was planted next to the corn stalk. As the plants grew together, the strong corn stalk supported the weaker bean vine, and each grew to produce good fruit. The children protected the crops by playing in the fields to keep the birds away. At harvest, the vegetables were handpicked. They had plenty of food to sustain the community, the exercise to keep their bodies fit and fields that were healthy because the farmers took advantage of the natural strengths of each aspect of the process.
This is how God plants His fields. Each hole is individually prepared and each seed is individually planted. He puts fish in the holes for nourishment, and plants beans next to corn so that it will all work together to produce good fruit.
Read Romans 15:1-2
Some of us are corn and some of us are beans. It is a tough job to be like the corn – to be strong all the time, to support others in our communities. Yet, those who are strong must uphold the weak, because God places the weak next to the strong. They have a purpose in His Kingdom. The beans are weak and get somewhat lost in the midst of the corn. Perhaps they even provide some advantage to the corn, such as attracting the right insects to naturally rid the field of the pests that destroy crops. Even if the beans provide nothing to benefit the corn, the plants provide fruit that glorifies God. So today, edify your brother, hold him up in prayer and offer words of encouragement so that he will grow in his relationship with our Father and shine His light to the world.
Readiness I called Bruce one day this week and his voice was very strange at the other end of the line. He sounded like he was standing far away from the phone, or like he was in a tunnel of some sort. He explained that they were having a readiness exercise on the base, practicing how to handle emergency situations. At that moment, they had been bombed by some chemical weapons, and were wearing full chem gear including facemasks. They hold these exercises in the hope that they will never really need to use their knowledge. The practice gives them the confidence to do their every day work knowing they can handle the emergency.
When preparing to move, I tend to be extremely organized. In the next few days, I have to prepare our home for the onslaught of packers. I gather like items, such as pictures or curtains, into one space, so that they will be packed together and will be easy to locate at the other end. The house is becoming a mess of piles – clothes to be given away, boxes to be shipped, garbage to be discarded. There is order in this chaos, and we should be ready when the time comes. I like to be ready in other ways, too. I have been preparing my mind – planning what needs to be done each moment. I’ve made contact with people at home and in Arkansas to be certain that everything is prepared for us there.
In some ways, however, I want to be too prepared. I have been asking God what His purpose for us will be in our new home. I want to know what tomorrow holds for myself and our family. It is difficult to walk into tomorrow without wondering about what will happen.
Read Daniel 12:8-10
Daniel had been given an incredible message of what would happen in the days to come. He wanted to know more, to have the details so that he could be prepared for the events. But God told him to just go about his business as usual, trusting in God that everything will come out as He intends. We have seen a glimmer of what will be in our lives when we arrive in Little Rock, but God has told us to go about our daily business. We should not be concerned about tomorrow; we should not look for the answers before their time.
Do you wonder about what is happening in the world, and what God is planning in the days to come? Go on your way knowing that God is in control. Rest in Him and know His peace. Thanks be to God.
Playgrounds As I look at modern playground equipment, there are a few things I’ve noticed. Safety is taken into consideration when designing an area. The old metal equipment we remember as children rusted and got hot in the sun, so the designers are using more wood and plastics as the materials. There are more exciting things to do. Older playgrounds had swings, a sliding board and some sort of jungle gym. Today’s playgrounds have three story high towers to climb with tunnel slides, fire poles, bells and whistles at every juncture. There are obstacle courses with activities to develop balance and climbing, as well as strength in body and mind.
One of the favourite activities of the children is the wobbly wood bridge. These are like the wood bridges we find suspended over the canyons in the midst of the jungle. Every adventure movie has a scene where the hero comes across one of these bridges while engaged in some chase with the bad guy. There is some hesitation to step foot on the bridge as it sways and creaks above some rampaging river. Inevitably in the movie, the bridge breaks and someone hangs precariously over the danger below.
The bridge on the playground is much stronger in design, made with metal chains rather than rope. Yet, it still creaks and sways when the children play. Those who are familiar with the bridge trust its strength and step on to it without fear. They run back and forth, bounce and lean to make it wobble in excess, trying to knock over the other children who are standing on it.
In the beginning, children have difficulty walking on these bridges. They need solid footing to feel comfortable, and the bridge is too flexible. When they walk on it, they grasp tightly onto the chains stepping on one plank at a time. This fear doesn’t last forever. Eventually, the children become familiar with the movement of the bridge and begin to run and jump like the other children.
Read Psalm 85:10-13
When we begin our journey with God in His Kingdom, we feel like we are stepping out on a wobbly wood bridge. Our footing is insecure, and we tremble, as everything seems to wobble under our feet. But God is with us. He has come to prepare the way before us and to give us everything we need so that we can walk with Him. His righteousness joins with our faithfulness and together we produce the good things that bring Him the glory. Thanks be to God.
Music The people who produce movies use music to emphasize everything that is happening on the screen. There are sounds and songs remind us of images that we have from certain movies. No one will ever forget the screeching sound used during the shower scene of Psycho, or the music played when the sharks are about to attack. I can’t hear the song “Moon River” without remembering Audrey Hepburn sitting on the fire escape during that great love story “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.
One of the wonderful things about classical music is how it allows the listener to visualize a story in their mind. There are moments of drama, moments of peace, moments that make you laugh or cry. Most movie producers create music that goes along with the action in their movie. In the movies “Fantasia” and “Fantasia 2000”, Disney has done exactly the opposite. They began with the music, and created a visual representation of someone’s impression of the music.
The final piece on “Fantasia 2000” is taken from Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, a composition about life and death. The video uses images from a volcano, the fire wreaking havoc on the landscape. In the beginning, a sprite is seen bringing springtime new life to the land. She discovers the volcano and meets the firebird in a frightening confrontation. Through it, the land is destroyed and left desolate. After it is over, a great Elk helps the sprite find the strength she needs to bring renewal to the land.
We visited Mt. St. Helens several years ago. It was about fifteen years after the eruption that occurred on May 18, 1980. There were still places that were desolate particularly on the mountain. Yet most of the region was brimming with life. I stood in awe as I was reminded in such a real way of God’s power to bring renewal. A volcano brings destruction, but God brings new life.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:54-58
Just as music creates images in our mind and volcanoes implant images on the landscape that we remember long after the event, so too does sin have a lasting affect. But thanks to the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have the victory of life over death. The great elk gave the sprite the strength to go on with her work. God brought life back to the land around Mt. St. Helens. On the cross, Jesus defeated death so that we can stand firm in our faith and do His work in this world. Thanks be to God for new life in Him.
Leadership I worked as a manager in a retail outlet for a number of years. My leadership style is one of hands on management. When something had to be done, I was more than willing to get it done. There was not a task in the store that I hadn’t done myself, from scrubbing the bathrooms to counting the registers, ordering the merchandise and dealing with employment issues. However my job, as the manager, was to ensure that there were employees to do the menial tasks so that I could focus my attention on enhancing my store’s profit margin. It was my job to oversee the running of the entire store and I could not do so if I was busy unloading a truck or stocking shelves. I could not accomplish my job without the help of good, trustworthy employees.
A good leader is not necessarily one who knows everything, or who does everything himself. A good leader is one who surrounds himself with competent, trustworthy people who he can consult to make the best decision for everyone. Throughout the scriptures the strong leaders did not stand on their own, they consulted advisors. In 1 Chronicles 13, David consulted with the captains. In Exodus 17 we see the story of how Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms during a battle. These great men of God needed people to stand with them to help them accomplish their tasks as leader.
The greatest leaders in the Bible are the ones who sought the counsel of God. When we look at the stories of Saul and David, we see that Saul spent his time pursuing his enemy, rather than serving the Lord. David, however, spent his time seeking the will of God. David even had opportunities to kill Saul and become king, however, David knew to wait God’s time and way. He waited patiently for God’s plan to play out, always keeping close to the Lord in prayer and worship. He surrounded himself with good military leaders and listened to the counsel of Nathan the prophet. He did not stand alone, but rather trusted people to help him do the job.
Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
A good leader is not necessarily someone who does it all. They are not the most powerful, the most intelligent or the most traveled. A good leader is one who has the discernment to surround himself with capable counselors to help him gather the information necessary to make the right decisions. Unfortunately, the powerful, intelligent and highly visible men tend to be the ones people remember. However, real prosperity, unity and peace are brought on by good leadership.
Today is the National Celebration of Thanksgiving in America. I would like to wish each of you a wonderful day. Let us rejoice and give thanks together for all He has done.
Squanto The stories about Thanksgiving a far ranging, from fact to legend and from generosity to savagery. It has been nearly four hundred years since that first celebration and we are still taking the time to join together in unity of purpose to give thanks for our many blessings.
There is one incredible story from the early days of the Pilgrims in America that speaks about God’s incredible mercy. It is about a Native American named Tisquantum, more commonly known as Squanto. Early in the 17th century, Squanto lived in his village, which was near modern day Plymouth, Massachusetts. He was taken to England in 1605 and worked for Sir Ferdinando Gorges, the owner of the Plymouth Company. Squanto learned English and worked as an interpreter and guide for the sea captains who were exploring the New World. In 1614, he was back in America and he wanted to return to his village. He was released by his employer, only to be recaptured and taken to Spain to be sold as a slave. A group of local friars discovered the sale of the slaves and took the remaining slaves to instruct them in the Christian faith. Squanto lived with the monks and learned about Jesus and Christianity. In 1618 he went to Newfoundland where he hooked up with Sir Gorges once again. After helping map the resources of New England, Squanto would finally return home.
In 1619, Squanto arrived at his village and discovered that everyone had been wiped out by a white man’s disease. He lived with a neighbouring tribe. In November 1620, a new group of Englishmen arrived on the shores of the New World. They were the Pilgrims, a group of religious revolutionaries who left Europe to practice their faith. The first winter was horrible for the settlers. Over half of the 110 men, women and children perished that first year. The next spring, they were astonished to be greeting by a native named Samoset. He had also worked with the European traders, but his English was not well established. He brought Squanto to the village who decided to live with the people and help them learn to survive the harsh environment they’d chosen to be their home.
Squanto showed them how to build houses that kept out the rain and cold. He showed them how to plant corn with fish in the mound as fertilizer. He taught them to fish the streams and hunt for wild game. Squanto also protected the settlers from possible attack of neighbouring tribes. That first harvest was plentiful, so in the fall of that year the settlers invited some of the Indian families to join them in a celebration of thanksgiving. The Pilgrims and 90 Indians feasted for three days, played games, and enjoyed peace together.
Squanto died several years later. He was not perfect – he abused his power, using it to threaten his fellow natives, but God used him in a powerful way. His difficult life – the pain, suffering and injustice – put him in a position to help a group of believers establish a new home. He learned English and Christianity, and knew the ways of the land. The Pilgrims thanked God for this gift. At the end, Squanto asked for prayer from Governor Bradford, “that I might go to the Englishmen's God in heaven.”
Read Psalm 105:1-4
On this Thanksgiving Day, let us remember that God is merciful and miraculous in His ways, always providing for our every need. We may be surprised, like the Pilgrims, to find our help in strange places. Let us join together singing praises to His glorious name. Then, in the days to come, let us continue to seek God, rejoicing in all things, to the very end of our days.
Steamboat Arabia The year was 1856. Steamboats were a major form of transportation on the rivers of America because of their ability to glide through the rivers that were thick with mud. The Arabia began life in Brownsville, Pennsylvania and was used on several rivers before making its way to the Missouri. It was 171 feet long and could carry 222 tons of cargo and passengers. The paddle wheel was 28 feet and was located on the side of the vessel. The boat was filled with valuable cargo, such as barrels of whiskey destined for sale in the frontiers of America.
One day, as the crew were serving dinner to the passengers on board, the boat struck a snag – a thick trunk deeply rooted in the river bottom and hidden by the waters of the muddy river. The sharp end ripped a gapping hole into the hull of the ship, causing water to pour on board. The passengers were able to wait on the upper level of the boat while the crew ferried them and few of their possessions to safety. The only death that day was a forgotten donkey that was tied and could not escape. They were unable to recover the Arabia or any of its cargo.
The course of the Missouri River was easily affected in those days by the weather. Floods changed the shape of the river regularly and left heavy layers of silt. Soon, the Arabia was completely buried and her existence was seemingly forgotten. The land where the Arabia was buried became very fertile farmland. In the 1980’s a man who knew the story of the Arabia, sought permission of the landowners to excavate the property and resurrect the Arabia. After careful study of the land and the documentation, the boat was found and uncovered.
When they began to bring the cargo out of the mud, they found that everything was perfectly preserved. The silt had quickly buried the cargo and protected the items from normal decay. Everything was carefully cleaned and is now displayed at a museum in Kansas City, Missouri. We can see by the contents how the people of the frontiers of America lived in the mid 19th century.
Read Psalm 51:3-12
As I heard the story of this steamboat, I couldn’t help but compare the history of man to the history of that fine vessel. We were created and were going along just fine until we hit a snag – the fall. At that point, the muck and mire of sin covered everything aboard and buried us. One day, Jesus came along and uncovered the vessel, carefully cleansing each item and placing it on display so that the world can see what we were meant to be before the fall. As we live our lives in Christ, we shine forth the truth of who we are – God’s children created for His good pleasure. Thanks be to God that He cared enough to dig us out of the mud and cleanse us of our sin.
Pilgrimage We have lived in England for nearly four years. When we arrived, I made the claim that we would see every square inch of this fair land. I set an exceptionally high goal for us to achieve. Though we have not seen every square inch, we have managed to see and experience so many wonderful places. There were certain places that we just had to see before we left, such as Windsor Castle, London, Oxford and Stonehenge. Another place that we wanted to visit was Canterbury.
Canterbury is a city with an incredible history. There are vestiges from the Roman Empire. Nearby is the place where St. Augustine arrived to bring Christianity to England. Thomas Becket was martyred in the cathedral. His shrine became a place where many pilgrims sought a touch from God. Those pilgrims were made famous by the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer in his “Canterbury Tales”. There is even a connection to American history, since a man from the city hired the Mayflower. Canterbury was a place I had to see. I needed to make my own pilgrimage to this lovely town.
My pilgrimage was to include a trip into the cathedral. We were hoping for a midday service of communion, but at least I wanted to spend time in prayer near the place where Thomas’ shrine sat for so many years. It was a place known for miracles, and though the shrine no longer exists, I could understand the draw those early pilgrims felt to visit. Unfortunately, the cathedral was closed due to a special event. We were allowed to wander around the grounds outside this magnificent building and to visit the crypt. In this lowest level of the cathedral building, we found lovely chapels set aside for prayer and reflection. I spent time alone with my Lord in that quiet and peaceful place, yet I was still disappointed that I was unable to accomplish the goal of my pilgrimage.
Imagine what it would have been like for those early pilgrims. People from every walk of life, the strong and the weak, the healthy and the sick, the old and the young. Each person made the trip for very personal reasons, but all hoped to be changed in some way because of it. The all felt a need to make this journey - to prove their faith. In some ways, I had the same need.
Read Romans 9:30-33
Our four years in England have been like a pilgrimage, a time for us to find out who we are in Christ. We have grown as individuals and as a family, growing ever closer to our Lord. In some ways, I sought the moment when I would stand in the footsteps of such a man of faith as Thomas Becket. My disappointment was a reminder to me, from my Father in heaven, that our destination is never a place or a person. Our destination should always be Him. I found that in Canterbury - time on my knees, alone with my Lord in prayer. The pilgrims tried to earn something in their journey. We live by faith. Thanks be to God.
Felix The packers invade tomorrow morning to prepare our household goods for shipping. We have spent this weekend preparing for their arrival. There are empty boxes stacked in every corner. There are piles of clothes being gathered as we decide what we are going to take with us. Curtains have been removed from the windows and pictures removed from the walls. There are boxes filled with things we are giving away. We are living in a sea of organized chaos.
Felix, our cat, has been roaming around the house for days wide-eyed and wondering. He has curiously sniffed at every box and climbed in the suitcases. In the past, whenever we pack suitcases for a trip, Felix climbs in as if to say, “You are not going without me.” Yet, when we close the suitcases and take off for our trip and he is left alone. Now, as he looks at all these boxes, I can understand his fear. “Are they going to leave me again?”
Moving is a worrisome time for everyone involved. “Will we get everything ready in time?” “Will we remember to keep everything we need for the travel time?” “Will our stuff arrive at the destination safely?” “What awaits us in our new home?” Parents worry about the children, children wonder about friends and school. We carefully plan and execute all the details, and yet there is always some concern.
I have found, however, that this move is causing much less stress than any of our previous moves. I thrive under stress, getting things accomplished quickly when I’m on a deadline. Yet, that isn’t happening this time. I have wondered, “What am I missing?” As I prayed about this, I realized that it is not what I am missing, but rather what I have gained since we have lived here in England. I have grown to trust God more completely for even the details of life.
Read Matthew 6:25-34
We are all on a journey, moving from one day to another. We take along our baggage - past hurts and fears, wishes and dreams for the future - and we worry about the details. It is especially difficult if we are like Felix, having no control or understanding of what is happening to us. Yet, Jesus has reminded us not to worry. God has you in His hands, and will provide all you need. Thanks be to God.
Thomas Becket Thomas Becket lived in 12th century England. He was well educated and became an Archdeacon in Canterbury. However, Archbishop Theobald thought it was in the best interest of the church to have a representative close to the throne. So, he nominated Thomas to be the king’s chancellor. In that position, he enjoyed the good life. He wore fancy clothes and liked to hunt. He supported the king in all his policies and even loved war. He had no desire to rise to the hierarchy of the Church, and was the last many his peers would have guessed to become a martyr. Thomas and Henry were close personal friends
When Theobald died in 1161, King Henry nominated Thomas to be Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest position in the church in England. Henry was certain that his friend would continue to support him creating an alliance between church and state in England. Thomas could no longer support Henry’s policies, particularly those that affected Church authority. He had been ordained a priest the day before he was consecrated as Archbishop, and he was transformed spiritually. Henry accused Thomas of embezzlement and Thomas escaped to France and lived in exile for six years. In 1170, the king of France brought the two men together again and Thomas returned to England. It was not long before the two men were bickering again.
One day, Henry asked who would rid him of the turbulent priest. It was a foolish statement, not meant to be heard by anyone or even taken seriously. Yet, four of the king’s knights heard it and sought to kill Thomas for the sake of their king. On December 29th, 1170, these four knights followed Thomas into Canterbury Cathedral and he was brutally murdered. Henry performed penance for his role in the murder. On July 12, 1174, he put on sackcloth and ashes, walked barefoot into Canterbury, was beaten by 80 monks then did penance at Thomas’ tomb. Soon after Thomas’ death, miracles were attributed to his tomb. He was quickly declared a saint, and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage. Even today, though the shrine no longer exists, people journey to Canterbury to stand in the footsteps of this man who was transformed in the service of God.
Read Romans 12:1-3
It is unlikely that you will be martyred for your faith by being murdered in a cathedral. However, Thomas gave himself as a living sacrifice long before his flesh was destroyed. He gave up the high life of being an advisor and friend to the king, so that he could serve God to the best of his ability. He humbled himself before God for the mistakes he made, and lived a life of exile and austerity. He did not compromise, but rather stood firm in faith.
Sharing The packers worked diligently yesterday and packed much of our household goods into boxes. Today, they will finish packing and load it on to the truck for shipment. We will spend the next five weeks living in our house with borrowed stuff and a few things we’ve left behind. We will soon be down to one vehicle. We will have none of our Christmas decorations. As I prepared for this move, I wondered how we would survive this month without the usual conveniences.
We knew God would provide as needed, and He has done just that. Friends have offered us everything you could imagine – beds, cars, dishes, pots, and even Christmas decorations. What we thought would be a time of suffering, has turned out to be a time of great blessing. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is shining brightly among those we love, as they offer us the things that will help us live comfortably during this time.
Read Luke 3:11
Our situation is far from suffering. We have a roof over our heads, clothes for our backs and plenty of money for food. We have libraries where we can borrow books for entertainment. The kids can write, colour or play outside when the weather is nice. We can walk to school and the base. We can take the bus. We do not need any more than we have to survive. We do not need a tunic, but our friends with two tables are sharing one with us. Over the next few weeks, we will have invitations to dinner and plates of holiday treats. The love of Christ will shine as God uses people to touch us in our daily needs.
The Christmas season is nearly upon us. The shoppes are already filled with people trying to find the perfect gift for family and friends. It is a time of sharing. Before we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, take time to look around at the people around you. What are their daily needs? Is there some way you can touch them with the love of Christ that will have an impact on their life? Perhaps they do not need a roof over their head or clothes for their back, but do they need a friend? Is there someone who simply needs an hour over a cup of tea and a listening ear? Do you know anyone who needs a ride to Toys R Us to purchase some presents for their children? Is there a young, single person at your workplace or neighbourhood that could use a home cooked meal or a family with whom to celebrate Christmas? Is there an elderly man or woman whose family is far away who needs someone to love them? Is there a non-believer who needs to see the true meaning of Christmas and hear about the love of God? Certainly, there are plenty of ways to share. Reach the needs of those who cross your path this day. Share from your abundance with those who have need, and all will share in the blessings of Christ our Lord. Thanks be to God.
During this time of upheaval, we will be accessing the archives and repeating some of our favourite messages. Today’s word originally ran on August 8, 1999 and is part of a four day series.
SCUBA Diving This is a sport of which I know very little, but would definitely enjoy taking up. I would love the chance to go down into the depths of the ocean; to search for buried treasure, to swim with the dolphins, or to witness the beauty of God’s creation up close and personal.
Beginning divers do little more than skim the surface of the water. Fitted with only a snorkel and facemask, they swim above the ocean depths, looking down into the deep waters, but seeing only what is within their vision. Sometimes they swim below the surface, but must rise again for air. In shallow water, this is enough to experience the treasures that are there. But as we move into deeper water, it is impossible to see the bottom.
SCUBA gear (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) helps a diver go farther below the surface, and to stay there for longer periods of time. They have the chance to explore the depths and find treasures that would have been missed, if they had stayed on the surface. Some divers never move beyond the snorkel and facemask.
God’s Word is like the ocean depths. And we are like divers. In the beginning, we skim the surface, reading the Bible and seeing His truths, but never moving beyond the shallow water. Sometimes we study, going below the surface for a moment, and catching a glimpse of some deeper truth. Then we rise back to the top, satisfied with that glimpse we’ve had, but continuing to swim on top of the water.
Some desire more, and are fitted with the equipment to swim deeper. They read the scripture with the power of the Holy Spirit, gaining a better understanding of what is not visible on the surface.
Read 1 Corinthians 2:10
Do not stay on the surface. Dive deeply into the Word, fitted with the right equipment. The Spirit will reveal to you the deep things of God.
During this time of upheaval, we will be accessing the archives and repeating some of our favourite messages. Today’s word originally ran on August 9, 1999 and is the second of a four day series.
SCUBA diving, again A person cannot just put on the SCUBA gear and plunge to the depths of the ocean. A qualified instructor must teach them. They need to learn about the technical aspects of diving, about decompression, how to deal with predators. They even need to learn proper breathing techniques. After several lessons, the student is ready to go into the water. Geared up with the proper equipment, the instructor accompanies the student for a few lessons in the water. The instructor stays with the student until they are ready. After training, the buddy system is still important. Even a master diver should never go alone.
Read Psalm 32:8
It is important that we have proper training to live the Christian life. Many people try to put on the equipment and jump right into the depths, without first learning the basics. Too often we hear someone say the Sinner’s Prayer and then we let them go out in the world trying to witness with no training in how to use the equipment or how to avoid predators.
Why would someone go to so much trouble to learn how to dive? Is the reward at the bottom of the ocean so rich? For some it is. I’ve heard stories of people who have found a wealth of treasure from sunken ships. Others simply love the peacefulness of being in a world unencumbered by the sounds and confusion of our world. Before you commit yourself, you must decide why you want to do this and if the treasure at the end is worth your time and training.
The same for living the Christ-like life. Why are you a Christian? “And every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” (1 Corinthians 9:25) Let God instruct you. Let Him teach you. Let Him counsel you. Let Him watch over you. Receive the crown that will last forever.