This morning on a national news program, the sheriff of Saginaw county was interviewed about the uniforms that his inmates wear. He recently switched their jumpsuits from orange to horizontal black and white stripes. He said the change was for the safety of the citizens of his county. It's been observed that some citizens have been wearing similar outfits in the same color and he wanted folks to be able to distinguish between who is an inmate and who is not. 

One of the morning show hosts asked how the inmates felt about the change. The sheriff said, some of them don't like it. He said that one inmate told him that the black and white striped suits make them look like criminals. Duh!

The sheriff talked about how some inmates complain about the required clothing and the food they have to eat. He said that he has a solution. He tells disgruntled inmates, "don't come back." He went on to say that people become criminals and consequently inmates by their own choice.

Faith is the same way. Some choose to believe in God, and others do not. The point is that it's a choice. Listen to Jesus' words:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned:but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God (Jn. 3:17-21)

Want to be saved? Believe [obey] Jesus. Don't want to be condemned? Love the light more than darkness, and do good deeds rather than evil ones. 

Make the right choices today. If you don't and the consequences are not to your liking, then remember that it was your choice.

Hope you have a great day!

My wife, daughter, and I recently visited one of our sweet family's from church who just had their first baby. They were so kind to let us hold this perfect little princess giving us the opportunity to reflect back on what it was like to hold our own newborn babies.

While taking my turn the little darling decided to fill up her diaper. Of course, the best thing about holding someone else's child when this happens is the fact that I can give her back so they can enjoy the duty of changing the diaper. 

This morning I read the story of parents who just brought their first child home from the hospital. Shortly after getting home, the wife thought it would be good for her husband to try his hand at changing diapers. He said, "I'm busy, but I'll do the next one." The next time the diaper needed changing she asked if he was ready to take his turn. After a moment of silence he said, "I didn't mean the next diaper. I meant the next baby."

Isn't it interesting how we often put off "taking our turn" at doing what we know we need to do? Perhaps it's correcting a personal offense (Mt. 18:15). Maybe it's inviting a neighbor to church, or asking for that one-on-one Bible study (Mk. 16:15-16). Or, could it be that we've been putting off deciding to become a Christian? 

The Bible tells us of another man who wanted that more convenient season--Felix. You can read about that situation in Acts 24:22-27. The problem about waiting for that next opportunity is that sometimes it just never comes.

When granted an opportunity to do good this week, do it. Don't wait for another one, as it may never come.

Have a great day!

Read Esther 4:10-14

One of the greatest examples of the providential hand of God is found in the book of Esther. In it are these words: “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Now, I don't know every situation in which God is involved in the lives of men, and neither do you. However, I do know that He's still "on the job." 

Today, you and I have and will witness the general providence of God. Jesus said, "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Mt. 5:45). If you received a good night sleep, it was the general providence of God. If you were up in time to see the sun rise, you witnessed the general providence of God. God is constantly at work in our lives. Some of these examples of God's providence are observed by us each and everyday. However, there are more specific ways in which God works in our lives today that are not so obvious. 

Did God put _________ in my life because He knew I needed her? Maybe. Did God allow me to leave the house a few minutes late so it wouldn't be me in that awful accident on the interstate? Maybe. Did God move us to this town, which has an exceptional neonatal unit, just in time for our premature baby to be born and to receive a fighting chance at survival? Maybe. I guess we could speculate all day about these sorts of things. 

In reality, we don't always know when we're seeing God's providence, but we know He's on the job. David believed God was at work in his life (Psa. 23). The Proverbs writer believed that God was at work in the lives of His people (Pro 3:6). The disciples were taught by Jesus himself that God would work in their lives as well (Mt. 6:11). 

I don't know how and when God is working things out, but I know He's working. I thank God for His love, care, and providence in my life.

I hope you have a great Monday, wonderful week, and will take time to stand in awe of God's working in your life--whether you can see it or not.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" Following the lead of my friend, Glenn Colley, that's a question we ask our Piedmont Road young people all the time. Now, most of them say they want to be a faithful Christian. Our little Bekah used to say "a faithful kitchen." That's okay, God understands, and from what I understand from my Bible about God's sense of humor, I kind of suspect it put a smile on His face.

What about you? Yes, I know you want to be a faithful Christian? But what else? Well, what else is there? 

True, yet there are things that will aid you in your faithful Christian walk.

Mahalia Jackson said, "The Good Lord can make you anything you want to be, but you have to put everything in His hands."

What you want to be should be directly tied to what you can do to be a greater servant in the kingdom of God. After all, "you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (Jas. 4:14). Therefore, your short life and mine should be spent seeking to better serve God. That's right, "my life" isn't really mine. It belongs to the Lord.

So, what will you do with your life? 

Want to be financially successful? You can be, and in turn be a benefit to others (3 Jn. 1,2).

Want to be a better parent? It's never too late, and you can start right now training your children to be faithful Christians. Sit down with your children tonight, offer an apology and say "from tonight on, things are going to be different (Eph. 6:4).

Want to be a more diligent employee? Why not start today? Don't be slothful, be a standout! (Rm. 12:11).

Want to be a better friend? Perhaps all that's needed is a conversation over a cup of coffee and some apologies to set things right (Psa. 35:14).

So, whatever it is that I want to do, I must put it in His hands. But how? Well, have you talked to the Lord about it in prayer lately?

I hope you have a great day!

Harry S. Truman is quoted as saying:

"How far would Moses have gone if he had taken a poll in Egypt? What would Jesus Christ have preached if he had taken a poll in the land of Israel? . . . It isn't polls or public opinion of the moment that counts. It is right and wrong and leadership."

If you wait for approval or permission to do right by someone, that opportunity may never come.

If you're waiting for the right time to correct a personal offense, you may wait until it's too late.

If it's the perfect opportunity you're looking for to share the Gospel of Jesus, then every other opportunity will have passed you by.

If you want the go ahead from a neighbor to do for them a good deed to show you care, the nod may never come.

If you're looking for approval from friends and family to render complete and total dedication to the Lord, you may wait for a tomorrow that never happens.

The Bible says, "For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2).

What if you always waited for permission to do the right thing? Something to think about.

I hope you have a great day!

C.S. Lewis once wrote, "The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals." I might add to that, all the concerns for those you love and know as well. 

I don't know about you, but from the moment I get up my mind is racing, and sometimes it seems that it is working overtime as I try to sleep at night. I'm constantly thinking about lessons to be studied, essays needing to be written, visits to be made, personal studies to be conducted, and people, events, and situations that I need to talk to the Lord about.

This morning, I'm praying for:

Lives that have been touched by difficulty. 
Couples expecting children to be born.
Men and women in uniform around the world.
Homes that are in shambles.
Churches in turmoil.
My children, their school, teachers, and staff.

Sometimes, all that I need to pray for overwhelms my heart. 

Here's something that William Barclay said that we should keep in mind when we pray:

1. The love of God that wants the best for us.
2. The wisdom of God that knows what is best for us.
3. The power of God that can accomplish it.

"Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray?" I suspect you have a lot on your mind--much that needs to be prayed for. If not, you could at least pray for me :-).

The Psalmist said, "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice" (Psa 55:17).

I hope you have a great day! 

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 139. In the first four verses of that Psalm, David talks about how God is always there--omnipresent. But not only is God omnipresent, but he is also omniscient--he knows everything. 

He knows when we get up in the morning and begin the process of getting ready for work. He knows when we go about the events of the day, and then he sees us when we come home after a long day of work. He knows when we pillow our head at night. He knows and sees everything. 

It is an impossibility to run away from God. You can go to the heavens to try to flee from God, but it wouldn't do any good--God is there. You may try to escape God by going to the grave--but God is there. If you got in a boat and set sail on the seas, you could not go far enough to escape God--he's everywhere. 

One of the most interesting things to me about Psalm 139 is what we find in the last two verses. The psalmist says:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psa. 139:23-24).

I was reading another book recently, and in that book the author quoted a statement that Plato made. The philosopher said:

"A life that is unexamined is a life that is not worth living."

The Bible talks about the importance of self-examination. But what about asking God to examine you? When's the last time you asked God to examine your heart? He does it anyway of course, but have you ever asked Him to examine it? Perhaps your heart has not been what it ought to be, and you just assume that God's eyes steer clear of your heart.

Are you ready for God to examine your heart?

One of the great invitations of the Lord is found in Matthew 11, and it says: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Mt. 11:28-30).

Are you fatigued by the tremendous load you now bear? Do you feel as if you have the weight of the world resting upon your shoulders? Do you need refreshing? Then do I have the solution for you. His name--Jesus! His book--the Bible!

Do you bear the burden of . . .

. . . Poor health, the prescription is James 5:14-15. "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up." 

. . . A spouse who is not a Christian, the answer is 1 Corinthians 7:14,16. "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?"

. . . Loneliness, the companionship is 2 Timothy 4:16-18. "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me:... Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

. . . Discouragement, the encouragement is Galatians 6:9. "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

. . . Being a Christian who sins, the solution is 1 John 1: 4-10. "...But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

Do your burdens seem too heavy to bear alone? If you answered yes, you are exactly right. You cannot do it alone. There are some burdens that good Christian friends can help you bear. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ," the Bible says (Gal. 6:2). On the other hand, there is one friend who can and will help you with every burden. His name is Jesus.

Have a terrific Thursday, and I trust you'll search for Jesus--your burden bearer. 

Close your eyes for just a second and imagine you're looking at Golgotha's hill, where Jesus died. What do you see?..............................

I remember a young person asking me why Jesus had to die on a cross. After a rather lengthy discussion, I realized that the answer is really quite simple. Jesus died on the cross because He loved me.

When I stand at the foot of the cross and see my Lord high and lifted up, I see the following five things:
  • I see love. "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:12-13).
  • I see grace. The reality that salvation is possible for me is only so because of the grace of God. For, it's by God's grace that I'm saved (Ephesians 2:8).
  • I see forgiveness. If memory serves me correctly, there are more than 277,000 words in the Bible. I suppose that one of the most beautiful is the word forgiveness. Jesus died on the cross so that our sins don't have to stand between us and our God--ever (Isaiah 43:25; cf. Acts 2:38). They are forgiven and forgotten.
  • I see peace. One woman said to her physician, "Doc, I'm all run down." The physician replied, "Run down? Ma'am, you're all wound up!" In the midst of life's hustle and bustle, there's a way of peace--Jesus died to offer us peace. My Lord said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you...Let not your heat be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
  • I see hope. Hope is desire plus expectation. Do you want to go to heaven? Do you expect to get there? When Jesus died on the cross, he made the hope of heaven possible. You can have joy in your heart, if you're a faithful Christian, because you know that you're on your way to heaven.
When you look at the cross, what do you see? These are just some of the things that I see.

You're familiar with the expression, "birds of a feather flock together." The same can be said for Christians. 

Christians are just naturally drawn together. They have the same love for God. They have a common labor of love. They have  a kinship to one another. They have the same goal of one day going to heaven.

Add to that is the fact that Christians can unite their hearts together in prayer.

One of my elders once said that it's not enough to just visit folks, write cards, or make phone calls to our church members. We ought to carry a list with us of the names of our church family and pray for them every day of the week. 

Imagine what would happen if we all joined together with a common prayer for the sick, for our visitors, for those struggling in the faith, and for ourselves? Our hearts would be made stronger. Our relationship with one another would be tighter. Our zeal for the work of Jesus would be greater. The future of the church where we live would be brighter.  

The Bible says, "They lifted up their voice to God with one accord" (Acts 4:24).

Imagine what would happen if we were as close to one another as the first century Christians were, and as effectual in prayer as they were.

I hope you have a great day!