Road Trip


Have you ever gone on a trip knowing exactly where you wanted to go but ended up somewhere completely different?

I have a friend that was driving to a customer site in Knoxville, TN but ended up in Chattanooga. You have to pay attention to the signs or you could end up somewhere you didn’t intend to be.

Our Sunday School teacher pointed something out from our lesson in 2 Kings 17 this past week that I had not previously noticed.

2 Kings 17:
And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced.And the people of Israel did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11 and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger, 12 and they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this.” 13 Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”

14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. 16 And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. 17 And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.

19 Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. 20 And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them out of his sight.

21 When he had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. And Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord and made them commit great sin. 22 The people of Israel walked in all the sins that Jeroboam did. They did not depart from them, 23 until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day.(ESV)


Do you see the progression? They started out secretly sinning but ultimately they ended up openly participating in evil against the Lord. And they….

What’s the road you’re headed down look like?


Are You Wearing Shades?

Timbuk 3’s one hit wonder from the 80s, The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades comes to mind when reading John 8:12.

John 8:
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”(ESV)

John 9:
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned,this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”(ESV)

John 11:
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”(ESV)

John 12:
35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”(ESV)

Acts 26:
15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’(ESV)

Jesus is the light of the world, if you walk with Him, you will never walk in darkness. Trouble is the majority of people are not walking with Jesus, they are walking in darkness.

Do you need sunglasses or a flashlight?

~God Bless

Blame Game

pointing finger

Why did this happen? Who’s to blame? Who’s at fault? Given a tragedy of this magnitude, someone or something has to be held accountable.

Genesis 1:
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.(ESV)

So God makes man in His own image and gives him authority and dominion over all of creation and declares that it is very good.

lemon tree

Genesis 2:
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”(ESV)

God makes a beautiful garden, full of all kinds of fruit trees in which Adam is to live and be overseer. God does give one rule/instruction/command/warning – there’s one poisonous tree in the garden, don’t eat it’s fruit because it will kill you.

Genesis 2:
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.(ESV)

holding hands

So God, desiring to further bless the man He created, formed the most beautiful woman imaginable, the final piece of creation recorded by God, to be Adam’s helper, companion, friend, wife, lover, soulmate.

Where’s the tragedy? What’s the problem? The Almighty Creator of the  Universe in His benevolence created the perfect man, put him in the perfect environment, gave him the perfect woman as a wife, gave him the perfect job – ruler of the world.

The problem, God gave the perfect man and the perfect woman autonomy, freedom of choice. God loves us so much that He endowed us with the power to choose to love and obey Him or to disobey and reject Him. God wants us to freely love Him back, not forced or out of compulsion.

Genesis 3:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Satan in the guise of a serpent, provides the first temptation/test of God’s single rule – do not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Why not eat it’s fruit?

Because you will die.

Die from what?

The evil that will come from it.

Are you willing to trust a serpent over God?


Genesis 3:
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”(ESV)

Now we see the blame game.

Who’s at fault? Adam blames Eve and indirectly God, the woman YOU gave me. Eve blames the devil masquerading as a serpent. The devil doesn’t get the opportunity then to blame anyone but we know he is a constant accuser.

So who get’s blamed when tragedy strikes? 

The devil made me do it. God made me this way. Maybe it was a bad environment or a bad home life. Perhaps television shows or video games, societal influences, culture, lack of education. Man never seems to take responsibility for his actions. Another interesting observation, society seems reluctant to blame the individual for their actions, they want to blame something else for causing the individual do that which is evil or detestable.


Genesis 6:
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.(ESV)

1 John 2:
16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.(ESV)

Deuteronomy 24:
16 “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.(ESV)

Romans 12:
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.(ESV)

Who’s to blame?

Each individual is responsible to God for their own actions without exception.

Be cautious here, you may start to think that by your own merits you are good enough, after all, you’re not as bad as the majority of society.

We are all sinners, we are all guilty, there is none righteous…..but one

James 2:
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.(ESV)

Romans 3:
10 as it is written:“None is righteous, no, not one;
11  no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good, not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.(ESV)

Praise be unto God for He offers mercy, grace and redemption to all who believe in Jesus! Pray that God will send revival to our land.

~God Bless

Forgiveness Is A Hug


The Parable Of The Forgiving Father

Luke 15:
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”(ESV)

The father received his wayward son with an exuberant, rejoiceful, reconciliatory embrace but the older brother refused to enter the same house as his younger brother. True forgiveness is demonstrated by a hug!

Luke 15:
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”(ESV)

The Lord’s Prayer

Matthew 6:
After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.(KJV)

Are you holding a grudge? It’s probably time to let that past offense go. Life is short and time is running out, seek reconciliation and forgiveness. You’re never more like God the Father than when you forgive someone their trespasses against you.

~God Bless

Wiles of The Devil

sneaky duck

Sure they look soft and cuddly but they may be decoys for a more sinister objective. Beware!

Genesis 3:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.(ESV)

What questions come to mind when reading this portion of scripture?

  1. Is a snake more crafty than a squirrel, pig, or cow? Maybe it’s the lisp they speak with.
  2. Was talking animals a common occurence in the garden of Eden? I think I might have been a bit suspicious of a talking snake encouraging me to disobey God.
  3. Was Adam prohibited from cutting down and making a bonfire out of the poisonous tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
  4. Was Adam standing there not saying anything the whole time the serpent was tempting Eve, v.6 says Eve “gave some to her husband who was with her”?
  5. Would it have been wrong for Adam to have bashed the serpent in the head with a rock?

What observations did you make from this section of scripture?

  1. Only two trees were specifically mentioned, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. see Genesis 2:15-17
  2. Satan knows scripture and is very good at twisting it for his purposes.
  3. Eve added to God’s command of not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, to also not touch it. Perhaps Adam didn’t relay it to her correctly. Which may have added to the temptation as I can imagine the serpent holding the fruit and not suffering any ill effects.
  4. The more you think about yielding to a sin the more desirable it becomes and the more likely you are to fall to it.
  5. Immediately after eating this wonder fruit, the first bit of knowledge they received, hey we’re naked, resulted in shame, which is almost always the first consequence of sin.

This section of scripture reminds me of the time Jesus was tempted by satan. How did Jesus respond to the temptations? By accurately quoting scripture in the face of each temptation. In both instances satan quoted and/or misquoted scripture.

satanic fruit

Temptation of Eve

Genesis 3:
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 

What did God actually say?

Genesis 2:
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

So we see satan masquerading as a serpent, misquoting God by adding one word, not, and negating what God said and thereby creating doubt in Eve’s mind as to the goodness of God.

How does satan work? It seems the first thing he attempts to do is create doubt in God; in His faithfulness, in His trustworthiness, in His character. What was his first question to Eve? 

Serpent: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

Eve: Well, not exactly He said we should not eat from just that one tree or even touch it for that matter.

Serpent: Oh really? (As the serpent picks one of the fruit and takes a bite) You know the real reason God doesn’t want you eating from this tree, He’s selfish, He’s afraid, He’s mean, He doesn’t want you to be like Him.

Eve: You know those are the best looking fruit in the entire garden, the serpent just ate one and he seems fine, it looked incredibly juicy, and my goodness, if I will become as wise as God – why wouldn’t He want us eating any of these? He doesn’t care about us and what we need, we’re practically starving and He’s keeping the best for Himself!

snow white

A few thoughts here,

  1. God’s plans are always for your ultimate good. He loves you and gave His son to die for you.
  2. Satan is a liar and deceiver, he hates God and you, his only desire is for your harm.
  3. You better know scripture better than the devil because he is going to misquote it.
  4. Anytime anyone or anything has you questioning the character of God, satan is behind it.

Temptation of Jesus

Matthew 4:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’


“‘On their hands they will bear you up,lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your Godand him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.(ESV)

stones to bread

Satan: If you are really the Son of God, why don’t you prove it to me by turning these stones into bread and eat some, after all you must be hungry after fasting for 40 days.

Jesus: Deuteronomy 8 says:3  “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Satan: Oh, ok, so you’re living by everything God says then why don’t you throw yourself from the top of the temple because scripture says “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up,lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Note: Satan is quoting Psalm 91:11-12, though he left out part of it. “11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”

Jesus:  Deuteronomy 6 says: 16 You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.

Satan: well….well….uh…ok….I tell you what, here’s my best offer, fall down and worship me and I’ll give you the world!

Note: Jesus doesn’t debate with satan over whether he could deliver on his promise, He focuses on the bigger issue.

Jesus: Deuteronomy 6 says: 13 It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.

Jesus did not for even a second consider anything other than the Father’s will and that’s how it should be for us. When temptations arise, ask yourself if this in part of the Lord’s will for you and does if conform to scripture, all of scripture, not parts taken out of context?

Beware the wiley one.

~God Bless

Discipline Is Not A Four Letter Word

What comes to mind when you hear the word discipline?

Is it positive or negative?


Most people consider discipline as something negative and I suppose it is at the time the discipline is occurring. It may come from childhood when your parents disciplined you for bad or undesirable behavior but does that make discipline a bad thing? If you think of people that are “disciplined”, who comes to mind? Athletes that train for years for competition, members of the military that prepare for combat, bodybuilders that follow a strict diet and exercise regimen, doctors and lawyers that spend 8, 10, 12 years or more in school and training.

Deuteronomy 8:
Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.(ESV)

Job 5:
17 “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal.(ESV)

Psalm 50:
16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? 17 For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you.(ESV)

Proverbs 3:
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, 12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.(ESV)

Proverbs 5:
22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. 23 He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.(ESV)

Proverbs 6:
20 My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. 21 Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. 22 When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over  you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. 23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, 24 to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.(ESV)

Proverbs 12:
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.(ESV)

Proverbs 13:
24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.(ESV)

Proverbs 15:
The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but he loves him who pursues righteousness. 10 There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die.(ESV)

1 Corinthians 9:
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.(ESV)

Ephesian 6:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.(ESV)

Hebrews 12:
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not disciplineIf you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.(ESV)

Discipline is not enjoyable at the time but we all know it is important to anyone desiring to live a happy, successful life – here and now and in the here after. Learn discipline from the Lord, allow Him to sand off the rough edges in your life to reap the blessings He has for you.

~God Bless

Count Your Blessings

As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s always good to reflect upon your blessings. What is a blessing you may ask? A blessing is a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness. I think a person’s attitude and perspective on life has a tremendous influence upon what they count as a blessing.

Philippians 4:
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.(ESV)

Some people are just more thankful than others but if you’re not a thankful person, why aren’t you? What has caused you to be discontented and thankless? I suppose it is possible that there is nothing good in your life and that you are completely without hope BUT with God all things are possible! And as long as you are alive, there is still hope that God can change your circumstances and make blessings out of cursedness(is that a word, should be if not) seeing as all blessings flow from God.

Count Your Blessings” by Johnson Oatman, Jr.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Paul And Silas In Prison

Acts 11:
22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,(ESV)

Exodus From Egypt

Exodus 14:
10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”(ESV)

Above we have two examples from scripture, Paul and Silas are praising and thanking God at midnight after a day filled with beatings and imprisonment. The Israelites are accusing, questioning, and slandering God after He delivered them from slavery by a mighty hand, having blessed them with gold, silver and other plunder as they were leaving Egypt.

Instead of focusing on your problems, refocus on your blessings. Make a list, write down everything you can think of, regardless of how small, if it’s something that makes you happy or that you enjoy – it could be a sunset, a child’s smile, your pet or a slice of pie – count your blessings!

~God Bless

Why Are You Here?

Have you ever stopped to consider why you are here? What is your purpose? Is there a reason for your existence? If so, what?

God created everything for His praise, glory, and as it pleased Him.

Genesis 1:
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”(ESV)

Isaiah 43:
everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”(ESV)

Jeremiah 1:
Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”(ESV)

Jeremiah 29:
11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.(HCSB)

Ephesians 2:
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.(ESV)

John 10:
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.(ESV)

Ephesians 1:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.(ESV)

You were CREATED in the image of God. You were not some cosmic accident, God had a plan and purpose in mind just for you before He formed you. Seek God’s purpose for your life and then go about fulfilling it.

Luke 11:
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.(ESV)

Have you considered why you were born in the country in which you were born, in the city, to the family into which you were born? Why am I here at this time? Because you were born for such a time as this.

Maybe you haven’t been living for God but if you are still breathing air, God is not finished with you, He can still use you to accomplish His purpose. Seek Him and His purpose for your life, while you still have time.

~God Bless

Words Are Powerful

At our Thursday morning prayer and accountability group meeting, there were some pretty big words being thrown around the other day – plethora, diligence, awful (in the best sense of the word), cornucopia. I like the word cornucopia, you don’t hear it used a lot. Reminds me of a word W.C. Fields might use, he was quite the wordsmith.

Words are powerful. Words can build up or they can tear down. Words can heal or they can destroy. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Do you remember the last time someone gave you an encouraging word? Instantly made you feel good didn’t it? How about something someone said hurtful years ago? You can probably still remember negative comments from childhood.

Psalm 34:
12 What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.14 Turn away from evil and do good;seek peace and pursue it.(ESV)

Proverbs 15:
A gentle tongue is a tree of lifebut perverseness in it breaks the spirit.(ESV)

Proverbs 18:
20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,and those who love it will eat its fruits.(ESV)

James 3:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.(ESV)

Sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me is nice in theory or as a defense mechanism but it’s just not true, words can be more hurtful than a punch. How are you using words? Are you encouraging or discouraging? Are you restoring or destroying? Are you healing or hurting?

Personally, I need to start biting my tongue to try and get it under control. Everyone knows the old saying, if you can’t say something nice, then say nothing at all. While that’s better than saying something harmful, it’s better to give your tongue over to the Lord and ask Him to help you use your tongue for His glory thereby building up and edifying others. 

Start today and start at home. Begin encouraging your spouse and children, using your words to lift them up – the world is going to beat them down, let your home become a city of refuge, a strong tower where everyone is safe. Bless and do not curse.


Lazarus Come Forth

The story of Lazarus is one of my favorites in all of scripture. Maybe it has to do with all the great gospel songs about Lazarus but in any event it is the perfect picture of both the humanity and deity of Jesus. He weeps because His friend has died and His other friends are weeping over the loss of their brother. But He also knew ahead of time that Lazarus was going to die and waited to allow it to happen so He could raise him from the dead!

John 11:
Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

Can that be said about you, the one that Jesus loves?

When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

Does that seem strange to anyone else? John just said Jesus loved this family, one of it’s members is deathly ill, Jesus has demonstrated time and time again that He has the power to heal all manner of sickness and disease but he decides to stay put to allow His friend to die? We might not understand it but God has a plan and purpose even in the death of His followers.

Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

I find it interesting and encouraging that Jesus’ disciples just didn’t get it sometimes.

16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Thomas, always the optimist.

17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:
19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Martha was right, if Jesus had been there He would have healed Lazarus, that’s why Jesus waited until after Lazarus had died to arrive so He could demonstrate to all that He has power over death.

22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

Jesus the hope of all that believe, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” Do you know Him? 

28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.

Jesus wept, the shortest verse in the entire Bible. But why did Jesus weep? He knew Lazarus was in Paradise. (2 Corinthians 5:8, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Romans 8:38-39 says that there is nothing: death, angels, principalities, height, depth, etc. that can separate us from God’s love. Luke 23:43 today you will be with Me in Paradise)

He also knew that He was getting ready to call him back….maybe that’s why He cried… He was having to call Him back to this sinful world only to die again.

36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

Do you think if Jesus had not called specifically for Lazarus to come forth that every grave there would have been emptied?

This part gets me all excited, you see there is coming a day when the Father will say: Son, go get your children! At that time Jesus is going to step out on a cloud and in a loud voice cry out “Come Forth!” but this time instead of just Lazarus, He’s calling for all His children to come home! Somebody give the Lord Praise!

4Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.
46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.
47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

Really? You just saw the man who’s name means “the Lord is salvation”, who claims to be the Son of God(see Matthew 27:43) call someone back from the dead and you went your way, wondering what do we do with this man because He is healing the sick, raising the dead, glorifying God and claiming to be the fulfillment of Bible prophecy? Uh, here’s a thought – believe, repent, and be saved!

49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;
52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.(KJV)

Oh, OK, so you’re not going to believe, repent, and be saved – you decided to go with killing the Son of God……nice plan, sure that’ll work out well. There is none so blind as he who will not see.

Will you be among those that one day hear the voice of the Lord calling from Heaven, “Come forth!”?

~God Bless