We can get a glimpse of the Creator’s imagination and eye for beauty when we look at the various types of trees He created. I’m no arborist, by any stretch of the imagination. But as I look at trees, I see each one as having three parts: the roots, the trunk and the branches. I see God through these three parts, don’t you? I see our Heavenly Father as the roots. He is our stronghold and the basis of all that is Good. I see the Son as the trunk, receiving from the Father and giving to the branches. I see the branches as the Holy Spirit, feeding what He receives from the Son to conform us, the Christian, to His likeness.
The Heavenly Father is the Provider of all things. He is Jehovah-jireh. The roots provide the tree and branches with everything needed. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. (Gen 22:14) God provided Abraham with a lamb to use (Gen. 22:8 ).

The tree trunk (or the vine) is symbolic of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (Joh 15:5) The branches represent the Holy Spirit, who lives within all of those who are born again. Although there are many different types of trees, all have roots, trunks and branches.

2e1ba1b6cc5d05a5ef0ccbf23b03669aThe branches are symbolic of the Holy Spirit, who resides within every born again believer. Each branch varies from species to species and even within the same species – some blossom and bear fruit, some have leaves that change colors, etc. I see the born-again Christian from all of time reflected in this. Many bear fruit, many don’t. Many only “produce or getting going for the Lord” when they have been through fiery trials (changes in their spiritual lives like changes in the leaves’ color). Some who are weathered, break due to pressures from the elements. Many spiritual comparisons could be made at this point between the branches and the Christian. But that could be a whole other post for another day!

The tree cannot have branches without the trunk. The Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus Christ – He brings glory to Jesus Christ. Those who are in Christ will bear fruit and will be growing in Christ through the convictions of the Holy Spirit. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (Joh 15:26) Without the Spirit, we cannot do anything. Without relinquishing our will to His, we can bear no fruit. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. (Mat 21:19)

The trunk also receives its nutrients from the roots. The Son receives all things from His Heavenly Father. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (Mat 11:27) I find it interesting that the branches cannot know the root unless they are “in the trunk.” Doesn’t that make you want to whoop and holler? The branches cannot get to the roots on their own. They have to be attached to the trunk in order to receive the benefit of the roots and its nutrition. Neither can we come to the Father unless we go through His Son! Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (Joh 14:6)

The branches receive their nourishment from the trunk, which in turn receives it from the roots. Our Saviour recognized that He was nothing without the Father. The trunk is nothing without the roots. And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. (Mar 10:18 ) Both the Holy Spirit and Christ cannot be set apart from the Father any more than the branches and trunk be set apart from the roots.

As the tree grows and bears fruit, it matures into a beautiful piece of art work from God. The believer grows in Christ by yielding himself to the Holy Spirit who molds us into His image. We mature as believers and grow. The age of a tree can be measured by the rings found in its trunk – measured from the bark to the center of the trunk. Some trees are so old that they become hollow in the center as the dead heartwood rots away. Oh what a beautiful picture this was to me. As we grow in Christ and become one with Him, our old flesh will become dead heartwood and it will rot away. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom 8:29)

All parts of the tree form the tree – none can exist without the other. The Trinity is One. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (1 Jo 5:7) All creation speaks of this. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Rom 1:20)Thank You, Lord, for these blessings this morning!

Dear God…
My heart is overwhelmed today
At what Thou hast given me
The beauty all around doth speak
Of the magnificence found in Thee


I thought it would be a blessing to spend the next thirty days looking at God’s Goodness through His creation. The Lord loves stories and analogies – He used so many when teaching His disciples. One of those heard often is Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Mat 7:15) Can you just imagine an actual wolf dressed up like a sheep and what the impact is? What can we learn from this? What can we learn from the characteristics of a species? God’s Goodness is revealed through all of His creation. So for the first in our series of God’s Goodness, let’s take a look at the wolf.

As we observe the wolf’s habits, we can apply teachings and warnings to our own Christian lives. Wolves live in packs with the alpha male and female leading the way. Where they go, the pack follows. As the Pastor leads the church he has been called to under shepherd, the church follows, as long as his leading is scriptural. Does this mean that a church can follow a female pastor (the alpha female)? The Word says that a pastor is the husband of one wife (1 Tim 3:2). No where is it recorded that she is the wife of one husband.

The wolf pack follows the alphas by instinct. If Christians followed by instinct, we would be easily deceived. However, Christians have the Holy Spirit to guide us. We are warned to beware of false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing but are ravenous wolves. Whatever this wolf in sheep’s clothing is saying, it can be compared to what the Word of God says – the Word is Truth. Jesus is the Word and is there to guide us – to be our Shepherd. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (Joh 10:14) We that are His, hear His Spirit guiding us and He keeps us safe from these wolves.

An interesting trait of the wolf is his hunting habit. The hunting habits revolve around the chase. They are able to run for long periods of time before giving up on their prey. There are two ways we could look at this characteristic. The Christian should learn from this wonderful trait and be long suffering as they work toward winning the lost to Christ – not giving up quickly. But on the flip side, the devil is relentless in his attacks. He will attack (run) for long periods of time before he gives up on the Christian. He will keep after us until he sinks his teeth into us. The more prepared and vigilant the believer is, the better prepared he is to see ole slew foot’s attacks coming!

As I searched the Scriptures for the words “wolf” and “wolves,” I discovered there were twelve verses dealing with this species – ten that dealt with that of devouring the weaker animals. There were, however, two encouraging verses in Isaiah depicting the millennium period:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. (Isa 11:6) and The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD. (Isa 65:25)

Isn’t this exciting? I love the fact that although this animal was depicted in a negative way in the Word, the Lord portrays the wolf in a peaceful way when Christ’s reign here on earth brings peace, even to nature. Once again like in the Garden of Eden, carnivores will become herbivores and will no longer be a threat. It will be a joy to walk up to the wolf and be able to pet him, won’t it?

I’m looking forward to focusing the next thirty days on the Lord’s creation and how He speaks to us through it! I hope it will be a blessing to you as well.

Dear God…
All creation has a story
Where we learn a truth
Each one unique in his own way
Each pointing toward You

Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. (Psa 91:13)

Today’s Goodness from God revolves around the lion. What a majestic animal this is! What beauty this animal possesses. The Word has so much to say about the lion. As I read the verses, many compared the lion to the devil. The devil’s tactics to prey upon the believer are very much like the lion’s tactics as it preys on the weak and defenseless.

Let’s look at some of the lion’s characteristics today and be blessed. The Lion is the King of the Jungle. My Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Juda: And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. (Rev 5:5) My Lion is the ultimate of lions.

The female lions hunt at night or before sunrise and they hunt in packs. This reminded me of the darkness of sin and that Satan abides there. He and his minions do not cut any slack but come and attack in packs. Lions also steal food from other predators. Isn’t that just like Satan? He doesn’t play fair. He will take whatever he can get no matter what the expense. At times, lions prey on the younger of the species and the infirmed. The devil gets believers when they are at their weakest. He can attack a full grown spiritual adult but he cannot succeed because the Christian has the Shepherd watching out for him. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Pet 5:8 )

Lions can reach speeds of about 37 mph! However, they cannot run for long distances because they don’t have the endurance. Therefore, they have to get really close to their prey before they can attack. The other lions circle around the prey to prevent escape. Doesn’t that just sound like the believer’s life under attack from the devil? We are attacked in spurts, from all around at times – never for the long haul, however, because our Father wouldn’t allow that. Our Precious Father allows a way of escape for us – oh His wondrous love for us! There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1Co 10:13)

The Book of Psalms uses lion(s) eleven times to depict the behavior of the lion and how it relates to the believer’s life. Yes, we have our bouts with ole slew foot, but the Lord has the victory over him! Each verse shows the desperation felt – placing the lion here as an example truly depicts where we are at times!

Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver. (Psa 7:2)

He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. (Psa 10:9)

Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places. (Psa 17:12)

They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. (Psa 22:13)

Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. (Psa 22:21)

Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. (Psa 91:13)

The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. (Psa 34:10)

Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions. (Psa 35:17)

My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. (Psa 57:4)

Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD. (Psa 58:6)

The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. (Psa 104:21)

We may not have the enemies David had but we do fight against the flesh, evil and the devil. Everyone’s battle may be different but they are battles nonetheless. We should not underestimate the devil’s power. He is not compared to the lion for nothing. The devil waits to devour us – he waits until we are weak and never, ever plays fair.

In the end, however, the lion will be brought down from being a predator to being a big cat. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD. (Isa 65:25) He will no longer devour flesh but will eat straw! The devil will be brought down by the King of Kings, the Lion of the Tribe of Juda and He will defeat sin once and for all.

Dear God…
Your creation amazes me
I stand in wondrous awe
Each creature You designed
For enjoyment one and all

Having grown up in Northern Maine, seeing beavers was quite common for me. My father owned land which had a beaver’s dam on it. He and I would sit for hours watching them at work. As I meditated on these memories, I noticed a few things about them that blessed me.

A beaver is hard-working and diligent. They do not stop working to build their dam until the job is finished. As Christians, we should not grow weary in well doing but continue on in our work for the Lord. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Gal 6:9) and But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. (2 Th 3:13)

The beavers use this same process to build their lodge. They don’t quit until their home is built. The mud gets packed so tightly with the wood that when it freezes, no predators can get through. I thought about our “temple.” The Christian’s foundation must be solid and impenetrable. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 3:11) With Christ as our foundation, the enemy cannot and will not prevail. As I meditate on the mud-packed lodge, I’m impressed that our spiritual lives should be so “packed” with the Word of God that ole slew foot can’t step in. When we are equipped with the Word of God, the devil cannot penetrate us because God is our strong hold and protector. The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. (Nah 1:7)

I also noticed that the beaver is quite tenacious. My father would purposely go remove a few pieces of wood from the dam. This caused the water to start flowing out. The next thing I saw was a little head come popping above the water and he would cautiously swim toward the break in the dam. He would make sure that there wasn’t a predator lurking about. A few minutes later, a few more beavers would show up to give a helping hand. By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. (Ecc 10:18 ) Dad and I would sit for hours watching them patch the dam. They didn’t dilly dally either, nor did they wait until night fall. If they did, the water level would get so low that their lodges would be exposed to predators. We should be so tenacious as we “build” our temples with the reading of the Word, our study habits and serving the Lord. Working at our spiritual lives is not easy but it produces great results. It keeps us close to the Source and protected. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Ti 2:15)

And lastly, I noticed that beavers have poor eye sight so they rely on their other senses. When one hears an enemy lurking about, he slaps his tail on the water. The sound is very similar to when you hit the top of the water with your hand. This signals their family members to be on the alert and to swim back to their lodge. Christians who are in tune with God will be able to hear warnings from the Holy Spirit. When danger lurks, we should run back to our Lodge (the Word of God). Our Stronghold awaits there to protect us. It also reminds me of our church – the Pastor slaps the water by preaching a warning from the Water of Life (our Bible) and warns us of danger lurking. We band together and stay strong as a body and church. The Pastor exhorts us to righteous living. He feeds our spirit so we can leave the church house and go into the mission field. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jer 3:15)

I have the most wonderful memories watching these beautiful creatures with my father. I am awed at how God reveals Himself through His creation. It’s such a blessing to be able to pick out certain characteristics and apply biblical principles to them. I look forward to each of the mornings ahead as I search for God’s Goodness in His creation. I look forward to not only look at animals, but to also look at the beauty of our heavens and our earth!

Dear God…
I pray that I learn from this creature
To be fervently seeking Your way
Quick to see when danger is lurking
And by Your side walking each day

One of the topics of discussion at Our Final Authority is that of God’s creation. This is what prompted this series I’m currently writing. One of our administrators, Pastor John, shared some things on the stars that had such an impact on me! I wanted to spread the blessing with you today.


One of my favorite creations of God is the stars. There are more then 300 references to astronomical objects found in the Bible. Last June, I taught an adult class in VBS on this subject.

The Bible is clear that all creation can teach us of God. The Psalmist teaches that the stars teach that they were created by the Almighty One: Psalms 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” The stars also tell us of our Creator’s character. Psalms 97:6, “The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.” Because of the stars telling the story of their Creator, Paul was able to write: Romans 1:20, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

The Bible has much to say about the constellations. The people of biblical days only knew of 48 constellations. Aratus gives the earliest description of these constellations in his poem Phaenomina, 270 B.C. This is the poem that Paul quotes in his sermon on Mars Hill in Acts 17:27, 28, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”

The Greek writer Homer referred to the constellations as early as 1000 B.C. Speaking of his hero Odysseus observing the starry sky as he sets sail,

There viewed the Pleiades and the Northern Team,
And great Orion’s more refulgent beam.
To which around the axel of the sky

Notice the words of Job 9:9, “Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.”


Another interesting constellation is Virgo. The Hebrew word for this constellation is Bethulah, which means virgin. The brightest star in Virgo is Spica, which the Jews call Tsemach, which means branch. This Hebrew word is used in the Old Testament to refer to the Messiah. Jeremiah 23:5, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.”

The fact that the Branch is found inside the Virgin is no accident. We know that the Messiah, Jesus Christ was born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”


Just beside Virgo is Leo the Lion. This should cause our minds to go to Revelation 5:5, “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”

Below Leo is Hydra, the Great Serpent.

Here, again, we should be brought to the book of Revelation 12:9-13, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.” The fact that Leo is above Hydra alludes to the fact that Jesus is the victor over Satan. Revelation 20:2, “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,”


The Fool Loses His Belt

In the Bible, the writers mention many of the constellations that are seen in winter. The prophet Amos points our attention to two in particular. “Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.” (Amos 5:8 ).

The constellation Orion is easy to spot because of the star that marks the left foot, Rigel. Rigel is one of the brightest stars in the night sky. This star is actually 21,000 times brighter than our sun, but because of its distance from us, it appears as a dot in the sky.

In the center there are three stars that seem very close together, they are called The Belt of Orion. The star to the right is Alnitak, an Arabic word meaning “the belt.” The star in the center is Alnilam, “the string of pearls.” The star on the left is Mintaka, an Arabic synonym for “belt” or “girdle.”

In ancient times Orion was known to be a giant, a mighty man, or a great hunter. We know that the Greeks knew Orion as a great hunter because that is what Homer called him in The Odyssey. The Arabs thought of Orion as a giant, calling him Al Jabbar, “the giant.”

In the Old Testament, Orion is referred to four times in an astronomical sense. The Jews call him “lesil,” which means fool. This Hebrew word is interesting in that it does not refer to someone who is mentally deficient, but to someone who is ungodly, someone who is rebellious to God. In the book of Proverbs, the fool is referred to as someone who rejects God. Proverbs 14:1, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”

In the book of Job, God asks an interesting question, “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?” (Job 38:31). There are two possible interpretations for the question “or loose the bands of Orion”:

1) This may refer to Orion as being bound in his place in the sky, as a rebellious person is bound in his sins.

2) Or, it could refer to the belt of Orion. The people of that day wore cords as belts. I am amazed that modern astronomers have discovered that the three stars that compose the belt of Orion are moving in such a way as to appear as if the belt has been loosed and is falling off (see diagram). This is a proof to us of the wisdom and power of God.

Thank you, Pastor John, for this wonderful blessing! We just touched upon a few stars and constellations. The universe is vast – endless. Can you just imagine what is in store for us as we seek God in His creation? This is one way to encourage your spirit when you are down.

Dear God…
How wonderous are the stars You’ve made
Your Word revealed in all
A golden nugget we receive
Gazing on them as night falls

In Genesis 1:1, God created heaven and earth. The Hebrew word for God in this verse is Elohim (plural use of the Supreme God). In verse 2, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters – another part of the Trinity depicted. God created light in verse 3. The Word says that Jesus is the light of the world. Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (Joh 8:12) It excited me to see that the Trinity is depicted in these three verses – the Three in One are completed in verse 3. Each verse shows each part of the Trinity. Doesn’t this excite you?

As we look at God’s Goodness today, I would like to share what the Word has to say about it. I have been asking others for input about God’s creation and would like to share some thoughts from a couple of people. Pastor John Snipes of Fundamental Baptist Forum put it together so well.

The sun is the most important astronomical object to mankind. It has been both feared and worshipped. The rays of the sun supply us with vitamin C that is necessary for our bodies to function. Through the process of photosynthesis, the sun provides the energy for plants to grow which provides us with food. Scientist are hard at work to find how to use this energy to replace gasoline.

The sun is mentioned in Scripture at least 154 times. The first mention is of the creation of the sun found in Genesis 1:14-19:
1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
1:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
1:17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
1:18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
1:19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

The sun seems so very large to us. It has a diameter of about 864,000 miles and can hold 332, 000 earth’s. Yet our sun is an average star. It seems so big to us because it is so close to us, averaging 93,000,000 mile away from earth. If the sun were any closer, the earth would be baked by the heat and would be no more than a cinder. If it were any farther, the earth would be a ball of ice. Our Lord, in His infinite wisdom, has placed the sun so that it is of the greatest benefit to man. Psalms 19:4-6, “Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.”

In the Old Testament, we see the Lord using the Sun as a tool to demonstrate His power. Joshua was locked in battle with the kings of the Amorites. The battle was going well; however, the Israelites were running out of daylight so that they might have the final victory. Joshua prayed a most unusual prayer that God answered.

Joshua 10:12-13, , “Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.”

How our Lord accomplished this, we cannot not say. What I can say is that the Creator God who established the laws of nature is able to suspend those laws; the laws that modern man holds to so tightly that they cannot see the spiritual aspect of creation. This was a miracle of God and cannot be explained.

A second miracle involving the Sun is found in the book of Isaiah. There was a godly king, Hezekiah, who was sick and about to die. He knew this because the prophet Isaiah had brought the Word of the Lord to him. Hezekiah prayed for mercy and God granted him 15 more years. When Isaiah returned to the king with the good news, the king wanted to know that what Isaiah had said was the truth. Therefore, God granted a miracle.

Isa. 38:7-8, “And this shall be a sign unto thee from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he hath spoken; Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.”

Will the Sun last forever? Scientist tell us the answer to that question is no. The Bible does not say that the Sun will end; however, it does tell us that it will not be needed. Revelation 21:22-23, “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof”

It is interesting to note that the sun was created on the forth day of creation. Then how were there “morning and evening” on the first three days? It was the light of the glory of God that that caused the first three mornings and evenings and this glory shall shine forever on those who live in the New Jerusalem.

“The last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, closes with the mention of the Sun of Righteousness which is yet to rise. It holds out a hope for a cursed earth, and that hope is the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Book of Revelation closes with the Bright and Morning Star, which is a figure of Christ at His coming to take the church out of the world. The Rapture is the hope of the New Testament, just as the revelation of Christ was the hope of the Old Testament. And the Book of Revelation will complete the revelation of Christ.” (McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, [Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers] 2000, c1981.)

Brother Jerry Bouey had these thoughts to share:

I wrote this in my Bible, next to Matthew 5:

Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

“Like the moon reflects the light of the Sun – we are to reflect the light of the Son of God, the Sun of Righteousness.

When the world comes between the Sun and the moon, it creates an eclipse (darkness) and the Sun’s light is not reflected. Even so, the world (worldliness) coming between us and Christ causes His light not to be reflected through us because there is spiritual darkness in our lives. Also, the moon (our flesh) coming between us and the Sun (the Son) creates an eclipse.” – Jerry Bouey.

Sunlight is the main source of energy on earth. So Christ, our Sonlight, should be our main source for our spiritual energy. He sustains us, feeds us through His Word and gives us that spiritual nourishment and energy we need to walk this earth and be testimonies for Him. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Mat 4:4) For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. (Joh 6:33) And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (Joh 6:35) I am that bread of life. (Joh 6:48 ) I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (Joh 6:51) Without Him, we are lost and on our way to eternity in hell in total darkness.

The ultraviolet rays from the sun have antiseptic properties, according to Wikipedia. The Word of God, also known as the Son (John 1:1), has antiseptic properties which heal us spiritually. The Word says there is a Balm in Gilead (Jer. 46:11) Our Balm of Gilead, Jesus Christ, heals us spiritually. Without Christ, we are sick with sin – we are lepers – with no hope of being healed. Praise God for our Balm!

The shape of the sun’s path is known as the “analemma” – it forms a figure 8. The number 8 represents “new beginnings.” Jesus Christ is the New Beginning – the New Covenant! And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. (Heb 12:24) Through His precious Blood, we have a new beginning when we were born again. I love this correlation!

I find it interesting that even in darkness, the Lord God has given us enough light to find our way. We are never in total, complete darkness as long as there is some kind of light appearing in the heavens. (John 1:5) It is also true for the believer in our spiritual lives. The Word promises that it lights up our path showing us the way. NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psa 119:105) The Son IS the Word (John 1:1) and He is the light (John 1:4).

As Pastor John wrote, when we reach Heaven, we will no longer need the sun or the moon. The Lord God will be our light. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Rev 22:5)

Wikipedia also notes that scientists have studied the sun intensively, however, they cannot figure out why its outer atmosphere has a temperature of 1 million K while its photosphere has a temperature of less than 6,000 K! Like the Son, we won’t be able to understand fully what He (God) is all about until we reach Heaven.

Dear God…
I love to see You through
All that You’ve created
Each with its own story,
In them Your love is stated.

Homer, Alaska, United States --- Bald Eagle in mid-air flight over Homer Spit Kenai Peninsula Alaska Winter --- Image by © AlaskaStock/Corbis

Homer, Alaska, United States — Bald Eagle in mid-air flight over Homer Spit Kenai Peninsula Alaska Winter — Image by © AlaskaStock/Corbis

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa 40:31)

According to Wikipedia, there are 8,800–10,200 living bird species! Does this not simply amaze you? If we did not have any other living, breathing creature on this entire earth, just looking at the number of different birds should be enough to point us to the Creator! Each has something different – a different size, a different color, a different song to sing – some can fly, some cannot. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! (Psa 8:9)

The eagle is a beautiful and majestic bird with strength in its wings. He is quite the fisherman – fish is 90% of his diet. The Master Fisherman, Jesus Christ, came to be a fisher of men and teaches us to be fishers of men as well. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. (Mar 1:17)

Eagles have exceptional eye sight and can spot a fish from one mile away! Have you ever tried to spot a fish more than three feet away from you? It’s not easy. This is how we should be able to spot sin – from “a mile away.” Sadly, however, we venture way too close to sin and come away with its stench upon us. A good analogy is the skunk – you only have to come within a few feet of it to walk away smelling like one. God promises us that His Word shines a light on our path so that we can plainly see sin – we can spot it from afar. NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psa 119:105)

Most of the time, the eagle snatches fish from the water’s surface rather than diving into the water like other birds. I see a beautiful analogy of the Christian’s soul winning techniques here. We should fish for men but not plunge into their life style just so we can win them. We must keep ourselves spiritually above them so we can be a testimony. How can we throw them a Life Saver (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) if we are treading water right along side of them? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (2 Cor 6:17) The Lord does not tell us to become “like the world” to win them. This would contradict 2 Cor 6:17. Yes, Christ ate amongst the sinners but so do we whenever we go to a restaurant, don’t we? That excuse just doesn’t hold water. Would you buy stocks and bonds from a homeless person or someone who had the “Wall Street” look about him? We are children of the King of Kings, let’s put on the appearance of princes and princesses.

I also love how the Word compares this beautiful eagle to God. The eagle’s wings portray strength and we can rest in the strength and protection of the Lord – under His wings. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him. (Deu 32:11-12) God protected Jacob just as an eagle protects her young. This same protection is available to the born-again believer! What comfort! Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. (Exo 19:4)

Another beautiful analogy is that of God renewing our strength as that of the eagle. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psa 103:5) Remember the joy of your salvation? God had filled your mouth (your soul) with His Word and you felt as though you could conquer anything! Your spirit had been renewed like the eagle! I remember a time being in the depths of despair and cried unto God to restore me, and He did. I came out of that trial feeling renewed and as though God had lifted me up! My spirit soared as the eagle! The most popular verse in Scriptures depicting this is: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa 40:31) What a blessing! This has been an encouragement to many throughout these thousands of years!

God also used the eagle’s flying capabilities in His Word. Did you know that an eagle can fly as high as 10,000 feet? It is no wonder that God used the eagle in describing the height and depth of a man’s pride. Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD. (Jer 49:16) I find it interesting that Hitler named his command complex the Eagle’s Nest. A coincidence? I don’t believe so. If you’ve ever seen pictures of it, you’ll note that it sits high on a mountain overlooking the German and Austrian Alps. Hitler was definitely full of pride, but God sure brought him down.

The Word compares God’s judgment to the strength of eagles. Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled. (Jer 4:13) Yes, woe unto those who deny Christ as their Saviour. Woe to those whose pride stands in the way where they wish to seek “another way” to Heaven. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (Joh 14:6)

Acts 4:10-12 says it clearly. Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. (10) This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. (11) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (12) You can justify your religion all you want, but the Bible still says there is only one way and that way is Christ Jesus. Wouldn’t you rather mount up with wings as eagles and be saved rather than be spoiled (burn eternally in hell) when He returns on horses swift as eagles?

Under His Wings
William O. Cushing

Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.

Refrain

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.


Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (Joh 4:10) The term “living water” appears only three times in the Word. What a wonderful depiction of the Trinity, once again. The Father provides a way, the Son IS the way, and the Spirit prepares the way (the heart of man) for salvation. All Three are One pointing to the Living Water – salvation through Jesus Christ. Without each of the Truine God working, we would not be able to be saved!

As I meditated on the water molecule, I began to see several correlations. The water molecule is made up of three atoms: two atoms of Hydrogen and one atom of Oxygen. God gathered the waters together in Gen. 1:10. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. The Hebrew word for God in this verse is Elohim (plural use of the Supreme God). The Trinity created water (which is made up of three atoms) and all known forms of life on earth depends upon it to live. Without water, they die.3formsWhen we look at water, we see that it can be in three different forms: liquid, frozen, and gas. All three forms are made up of two atoms of Hydrogen and one atom of Oxygen. However, each is in a different form – each having a different function. What a beautiful depiction of the Trinity! Each member of the Trinity is God, but each has a different function. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (1 Jo 5:7)

Seventy-five percent of the earth is covered with water and only three percent of that is drinkable. Out of the three percent, 75% of it is frozen in the polar ice caps. It is not only a precious commodity, but it is vital for life. It amazes me that only a small percentage of the water on this earth is drinkable. It reminded me that only a small percentage of mankind will accept Jesus Christ, our only source of Living Water. For many are called, but few are chosen. (Mat 22:14)

Although a person can live without food for more than a month, a person can only live without water for approximately one week. Only God can sustain a person after a week. We know that He is able because the Word says God sustained Moses twice for 40 days and 40 nights. And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. (Exo 34:28 ) and And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. (Deu 9:18 )

As vital as water is to sustain life here on earth, it can never cause us to live forever. Only the Living Water can give everlasting life. Jesus gave Himself for us so He is the only One who is able to give us everlasting life. It is His to give. There is nothing we can do on our own to achieve this. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (Joh 4:10)

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (Joh 4:14) The only thing we must do to get everlasting life is to drink of the Living Water. We must be born again. Jesus says we will never thirst again! What a wonderful depiction of eternal security! If we were to lose our salvation, we would thirst again. Even for those who say that we can freely give up our salvation – in doing so we would have to thirst again to be saved again. But Jesus said that we would NEVER thirst again. Never is forever. Only man adds a time limit to the word never. God does not. God says He never breaks His covenant (Judges 2:1) which means NEVER. Jesus is our new Covenant and is everlasting. Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, (Heb 13:20) Praise the Lord that our eternal life is secure through the everlasting life provided by Christ and His Living Water! Glory be to God!

Dear God…
Thank you for the Living Water
In which our salvation rests
Its bless’ed life giving power
If the work of Your Son we confess

181_volcanoAnd the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; (Rev 8:8 )The beauty of volcanoes lighting up the night sky is breath taking, isn’t it? How can something so beautiful also cause such destruction!

Throughout history, we have seen the havoc wreaked by one of these awesome mountains. As we look at the volcano, we can see how God can use one to accomplish His wrath, but what good can come from them? As I searched the Internet, I learned that volcanoes provide hydrothermal vents which are responsible for almost all of our iron, copper, nickel, platinum, gold, silver, zinc, etc. The metals available to mankind are a result of this fabulous creation! Don’t you see God’s Goodness in that? The Lord can take something He created, which we consider bad and destructive, and He can use it for good. That is why I included the volcano in my series on God’s Goodness.

The Word is filled with God using His creation to fulfill prophecy – the Great Flood, the plagues on Egypt, etc. It is no different with the volcano. Our text verse in Revelation shows a possible volcano turning the sea into blood. Volcanoes which erupted in history will be considered child’s play compared to the end times.

In history we learned that Mount Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum. In May 1980, Mount St. Helen destroyed 57 people, miles of highways and flattened millions of Douglas fir trees over a fan-shaped area of 230 square miles! The blast was likened to 2500 Hiroshima’s! This picture shows trees knocked down like match sticks. The ash columns were almost as high as 6,600 feet (that’s 1.2 miles)! My brother lived 250 miles away from Mount St. Helen in 1980 and everything in his town was covered in ash! This was from 250 miles away! Today, just six miles from the base of Mount St. Helen, are small Douglas firs rising through the flattened trees. The devastated landscape is now scattered with green and various wildlife. It will take years for a new landscape to emerge but new life is sprouting.

A friend shared a story he remembered about Mount Pelee.

I thought I would share some of what I remember. I used the illustration once in a message on soul winning.

The story was the eyewitness account of a local scientist who lived in the town or close to it anyhow. He was very well educated in the earth and I believe he was a vulcanologist(?) This town was a sea port, a very rich seaport. It was the main revenue for the town.

Any way, the scientist started noticing different things starting to happen. Water turning color and putting off odor, fish dying, animals disappearing, minor thing at first. As he investigated he started to become sure that the volcano would soon erupt. He went and told the town counsel, but they were more concerned with their revenue than anything this guy had to say.

Well more and more strange things started to happen, people started disappearing, small fissures opening in the ground,and smoke starting to rise from the mountain. The signs were becoming more and more evident that disaster would soon strike and if the town did not evacuate thousands of people would perish. still the counsel would do nothing. The scientist warned who he could but few would listen, they were to tied up in their affairs to really care.

Then it happened, the Mount exploded with such violence, it is hard to imagine, some people most likely did not even know what happened, they were simply dead. The pyroclastic(?) flow, which is nothing but intensely heated gas vapors moves so fast and with such force and with such a searing heat, something like an atom bomb. Many people were killed were they stood, it is the ones that survived, for a while that stuck in my mind. That flow of super heated vapors was so hot that it burned the eyes out of the socket, seared the throat shut, and burned limbs so severely that they could no longer feel anything but burning. They could not see(utter darkness) they thirsted but could not drink, the only thing they could do was hear the weeping and feel the burning.

So my point was that these people were suffering yes, But the suffering in Hell is much, much worse, and their will never be relief. Jesus, like the scientist has warned us that the end is coming, we see the signs, we have the evidence, but will we sacrifice our comfort, our lifestyle, our income, to go out and reach those that are lost.

Who, who will go, Salvation story telling, Looking to Jesus, counting not the cost?

I liken the eruption of a volcano to unconfessed sin in our lives. If a person is not saved, sin will wreak havoc and cause destruction in his life and in his path. Sin separates man from God. It will also destroy the unsaved person’s relationship with his family, and it can destroy him in death, both spiritually and physically. Someone else pointed out, he looks at volcanoes as “the joy of the Lord which erupts from a heart surrendered to the Holy Spirit within”! What a beautiful picture! When a yielded believer allows the Holy Spirit to work within, everyone who comes in his path will be permanently affected as that believer shares the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Another said that she remembered hearing a message once where the preacher said that whenever a volcano erupted it was Hell expanding because more people had died and gone to a Christless eternity. What a thought, huh?

Dear God…
Your creation brings such wonder
To this simple heart of mine
Through each and every aspect
I can see Your handiwork so fine

The dove brings with it the connotation of gentleness, peacefulness and rest. And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. (Psa 55:6)

Everything about the dove is gentle – its appearance, its sound, and even its motions. Have you ever observed one in flight? The grace and beauty of its landing upon a rooftop appears to be effortless – light as a feather. One of the most relaxing sounds I have ever heard is the cooing of the morning doves in the mornings. Their beautiful sound could calm the most restless soul. I can’t think of a better way to start my day than to hear those coos. This helps me to truly appreciate why God used the dove to represent His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not barge into our lives. His entrance is gentle, His sound is gentle and His motions in our lives are gentle. He speaks to us in that still small voice. I once heard preach that the Holy Spirit was a Gentleman – He does not force Himself upon us like a roaring lion but as gentle as the dove. I love that about Him, don’t you? For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Co 14:33) Therefore, when our lives are filled with noise and confusion, we know it is not from the Holy Spirit but from the god of this world.

All four Gospels give the beautiful account of the Holy Spirit descending like a dove upon Jesus after He was baptized. It is in this account that the Trinity was evidenced – The Son submitted, the Spirit rested upon Him, and the Father spoke. The first appearance of the dove in the Bible is in Gen. 8:8, Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; Isn’t it wonderful that The Holy Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters in Gen. 1:1 and the first mention of the dove was to send it out over the face of the waters to see if the waters had abated? God’s Word is so thorough – nothing is by chance – God reveals Himself throughout the Word. I thought that was so like God to show His Spirit in these two verses! Gen. 1:1 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

I also discovered that the dove (turtledove or young pigeons) was the only bird that was used in sacrificial offerings, Luke 2:24. God’s justice requires atonement for sin but sacrificial offerings could never provide complete atonement because our sin is never ending. But God’s love was so great for us that He provided the perfect atonement by taking on the form of man and becoming the perfect, sinless sacrifice on our behalf. It is only through the sacrifice of the Cross that we can have atonement for our sin. God no longer sees the born-again believer as a sinner because His Son’s blood was the atonement needed – the price had been paid over 2,000 years ago.

The gentle and quiet Holy Spirit draws us to Jesus Christ. He testifies to us of Christ through the Word of God.But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (Joh 15:26) What a beautiful depiction the two turtledoves were – they were a testimony of the coming of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus Christ to us and presents us this wonderful Gift. Oh thank you, Lord!

With the acceptance of Christ’s work on the Cross, we receive eternal life and the sweet peace that accompanies salvation. I can’t think of sweeter more gentle animal than the dove to depict the Holy Spirit and how He introduces us to Christ. We are not forced to believe in Christ. We are gently stirred and called – and when we yield ourselves and accept Christ, the Spirit comes to reside within us. Thank You, Lord, for the beautiful picture of Your Holy Spirit today!

My Father lovingly prepared a way
And provided an atonement for sin
The Holy Spirit like a dove
Pricked my heart and entered in!

The pearl is a beautiful gem stone. All other gems are taken from the ground by man. However, this gem is formed by one of God’s creation. I had learned in school that pearls were formed by a grain of sand entering into an oyster shell and irritating that oyster. This causes the oyster to deposit layers of mother-of-pearl. In my research, I discovered that the irritant is rarely from a grain of sand but typically from parasites, organic material (ingested when the shell opens for feeding) or other broken pieces from other parts of the oyster’s body.

Two beautiful analogies can be seen when looking at the pearl. The Lord Himself compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a pearl of great price. The merchant found this pearl of great price and sold all he had to purchase it. This merchant had to be willing to sell everything in order to buy this pearl. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mar 8:36) A major hurdle for unbelievers is that they do not wish to part with their sin or worldly ways. Repentance has a cost – forsaking known sin for salvation is not easy but necessary. I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luk 13:5) Otherwise, the unrepentant sinner is no better than these disciples who followed Jesus but could not continue to do so for His teachings were too difficult for them. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? (Joh 6:60) From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. (Joh 6:66) It’s not that Jesus’ teachings were so intellectual, they could not understand what He was saying. Jesus taught repentance and salvation but they did not believe. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. (Joh 6:64) Don’t you find it interesting that those unbelievers who chose not to walk with Jesus were described in Chapter 6, verse 66 (666)? They went the way of the devil in this verse. I love how every jot and tittle was inspired by God – even the chapter divisions and verse markers.

Another wonderful analogy is to the Christian’s life and how the pearl is formed. As believers, the Holy Spirit brings convictions which form us into the image of Christ. And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (Col 3:10) We will have trials and tribulations in our lives – each one teaching us and growing us spiritually – each layer making us more like Christ. With each one, we learn to draw nigh to Him. Just as the irritation in the oyster produces a pearl, our trials and tribulations will strengthen our faith and conform us into the image of our Saviour.

I also noticed that there are different types of irritants which bring about this pearl of great price: parasites, organic material, other broken pieces and occasionally that grain of sand. All sources were different but all produced a pearl! Our trials, like the pearl, come from various sources also. The parasite in the Christian’s life can be those unsaved friends or those we think to be friends. Noah Webster defined a parasite in his day as:

2. In modern usage, a trencher friend; one that frequents the tables of the rich and earns his welcome by flattery; a hanger on; a fawning flatterer

No wonder we are warned not to be unequally yoked. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Co 6:14) These parasitic friends can produce quite the irritation in our spiritual lives and yield tribulation. You become who you hang around with and we must guard ourselves in this area. Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: (Pro 22:24) The key here is to grow from it and not repeat it. This is a trial that we can avoid if we heed the Word. It is also a trial that will build us and form us as we grow from our experiences.

The second irritant is organic material which I liken to the world’s goods and what the world offers. We are not to love the things of this world. It is difficult to control the lust of the flesh. However, in so doing we are building up our pearl – we are being conformed to Christ’s image Who is the pearl of great price. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 Jo 2:15) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 Jo 2:16)

Notice the pearl is also formed by broken pieces from inside the oyster’s body. What a beautiful comparison to the believer letting go of sin in our lives – breaking away from sinfulness and being more and more like Jesus. When we are broken, we are ready to receive what the Lord has to teach us. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psa 34:18 ) As a broken vessel in the Potter’s Hand, we can be molded and reshaped into a vessel unto honour. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. (2 Ti 2:20)

Lastly, on occasion that one grain of sand can produce a pearl as well. Do you realize how small a grain of sand is? A grain of fine sand is measured between 1/8 mm – 1/4 mm!! No matter how small the trial you are going through, God will still use it to produce this pearl – conforming you into the image of Christ, the ultimate pearl of great price.

What trials and tribulations are you experiencing today in your life? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit of God to conform you into the Saviour’s image? What kind of pearl are you producing in your spiritual oyster? Are you producing a pearl at all? It’s only through our submissiveness to changing as we experience these irritations that we produce that pearl. If we do not yield to the Holy Spirit’s convictions and forsake sin, we won’t yield a beautiful pearl. But a yielded vessel will grow from each trial and will become more and more like that Pearl of Great Price, the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

More Like the Master
by Charles H. Gabriel

More like the Master I would ever be,
More of His meekness, more humility;
More zeal to labor, more courage to be true,
More consecration for work He bids me do.

Refrain

Take Thou my heart, I would be Thine alone;
Take Thou my heart, and make it all Thine own.
Purge me from sin, O Lord, I now implore,
Wash me and keep me Thine forevermore.

More like the Master is my daily prayer;
More strength to carry crosses I must bear;
More earnest effort to bring His kingdom in;
More of His Spirit, the wanderer to win.

Refrain

More like the Master I would live and grow;
More of His love to others I would show;
More self denial, like His in Galilee,
More like the Master I long to ever be.

Refrain

images
Wind is defined as the rough horizontal movement of air across the earth. The Holy Spirit is likened to the wind in the Word. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (Joh 3:8 ) Wind does not blow from the bottom or from the top but horizontally. The Holy Spirit does not crush us with burdens too great to bear. Nor does He cause us to stumble or be swept off our feet. Instead, he guides us through the Word in a Godly direction.

I found it interesting that the first time the wind is mentioned in the Bible is in chapter 8. And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; (Gen 8:1) The number eight is symbolic of “new beginnings.” Jesus Christ is our New Covenant. Through His shed blood, we have remission of sins. After His resurrection, He left us the Holy Spirit to reside within us and to stir us, move us to be more like Christ. The Holy Spirit is compared to the wind. Isn’t that neat? I believe that even the chapter and verse divisions in the Word of God are there for us to be blessed with! The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (Joh 3:8 ) Isn’t it interesting that this chapter heading is the number three (indicative of the Trinity) and the number eight, New Beginnings? I won’t know for sure until I reach Heaven if the chapter and verse numbers were meant to bless me in this way, but in the mean time, I consider myself blessed!

In my research on the wind, I discovered that still air is a great insulator. That means that heat does not flow well in still air. This is the reason why heat rises in a still room. When there is a fire, we’re told to lay on the floor and crawl out of harm’s way. Where there is no breeze, that heat goes upward. The wind (breeze) stirs up that heat, circulates it and the fire grows. When we are spiritually not moving forward, we are still. We are like that still air, insulating our spiritual lives and not moving. When we are not growing in Christ, the fires of the Holy Spirit aren’t moving within us. Our spiritual embers need to be stirred by the movement of the Spirit in our lives. Only then are we productive Christians and yielding spiritual fruit.

We’ve had some pretty powerful wind storms the past few days due to a Nor’easter sweeping up the East coast. Prior to the winds, the ground was saturated with rain and the root systems of the trees were weakened. The wind caused much more damage because of this. We have a cedar tree on the side of our house that is leaning into another cedar tree. If it weren’t for that supporting tree, this leaning tree would have come down on our fence. If the wind were to switch directions, it would push that leaning cedar into our house. The winds are now dying and I’m thankful that my Heavenly Father has protected us yet again! As I meditated on the power of this Nor’easter, I made some beautiful correlations to the Spirit’s movement within our lives. When our lives are not saturated with worldliness, we are yielded and the Spirit’s wind will move us, conforming us to the beautiful image of our Saviour.

However, when our lives are saturated with worldliness, we are unyielding to the Spirit and He must draw us back with stronger winds. Sometimes the spiritual winds break us, sometimes the winds cause havoc in our lives as a result of our own actions. Isn’t it easier to yield to the Holy Spirit than to have to pick up the broken pieces later on? God will not force us to submit to Him but, like a loving Father, will allow the storms of life to come upon us so we can turn once again to Him. Look at your own children and how you deal with them. You don’t force them to decisions but you guide them. When they make the wrong decision, they have to reap the consequences of those decisions. It’s the same with the Holy Spirit in our own lives, my friend.

This same wind has the power to rejuvenate and encourages new growth on this earth. The wind carries pollen from one place to another to create new life. The wind stirs up the ground from the winter’s effects. The wind prepares that ground for Spring. What a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit. Our dead heart is made alive by the Spirit moving in us. He converts that fallow ground of our heart into a good soil, ready to receive the precious seed of the Gospel. Upon salvation, that seed will grow and will bare the fruit of the peace of Jesus Christ! And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (Jam 3:18 )

What a blessed analogy the Lord has given me this morning! I love to find Him in His creation, don’t you? The Word could not describe the Holy Spirit in a better way than to compare Him to the wind. Thank You, Lord!

Dear God…
Thank You for Your Spirit
May He direct my way
Help me to be yielded
With each and every day

beautiful-running-horse
My friend, Kelly absolutely loves horses. I thought it would be fitting to do today’s devotional in honor of her since her birthday is today!

In my research of this magnificent animal, I discovered that it is the nature of the horse to flee from danger. They only stay to fight if it involves their offspring or if there is no where for them to flee. They put up a good fight, too! What do we do when sin comes knocking – do we do as the horse and run? Or do we stay and and toy with it?. When we do have to fight, do we have the ammunition with which to fight – the Sword of God? Or are we weak in the Word and have nothing to encourage our heart in that time of need? Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Ti 2:15) The horse is ever vigilant of what goes on around him. The horse watches and stays alert. His seeing and hearing senses are much better than the human. The horse’s eye is second to the ostrich of all land animals in its size. The horse’s eyes can see 350 degrees! Their ears can rotate 360 degrees so they can catch sounds from every direction. Oh that we Christians should be so keen in spotting sin and listening for false doctrine! Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Pe 5:8 )

The riding horse is known for its speed, agility, alertness and endurance. Isn’t this a beautiful comparison to how a believer ought to run the Christian race? We must be quick and agile to spot danger and speedily run away from sin. We should also use this same speed to go out into all the world to win souls. …Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. (Luk 14:21b) We should be alert, ever watching and vigilant so we are not caught unawares by ole slew foot. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Pe 2:1) Endurance to finish our race here on earth is another fine quality we can learn from the horse. We must not be easily discouraged. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (Heb 12:1) Paul encourages us to run the race with patience – have endurance – don’t give up – we must keep on keepin’ on for the Lord.

Horses are also very social animals and have “friends” amongst their own species as well as with other animals and humans. It would be difficult for a horse to make a “friend” with a dog unless the dog reciprocated, right? The two animals are in agreement in their “friendship.” Although the horse loves the dog, he does not become “like” the dog nor does not adopt the mannerisms of the dog. We Christians need the equally yoked fellowship we get from our church family. We should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers where we learn their ways. An unbeliever will never fully understand our Christianity – never! Remember that. They are serving their father the devil and cannot understand. What you believe is foolishness to them. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Co 6:14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Co 2:14)

I love the way a horse communicates to other horses and to us humans. It is beautiful to watch a horse’s body language when it sees its master. When I went to visit my brother in Oregon, he introduced me to his three horses. One of his favorites came right up to him and pushed up against him so he would rub its face and head. Whenever my brother stopped rubbing, his horse would push up against him again. This magnificent, huge animal was desiring to be touched by his master. This powerful and beautiful animal showed its need to touch and be touched. Do we react toward our Master, Jesus Christ, in the same manner? Do we desire to be touched by His Word and to touch others with His Word? And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole. (Mat 14:36) We have only to read the Word with the same eagerness my brother’s horse had to be touched and we, too, can be made perfectly whole spiritually. Yes, I know we are already saved. But how many times have you gone to the Word desperately in need and God has met you there and met that need? Even when your prayer was not answered, God gave you the calm sweet assurance that He is in charge. Oh my, the Hand of God reaches down and touches us when we make that first move to touch His garment through His Word!

I’m sure there are many other characteristics about the horse that I could look at and correlate with the Christian’s life and God’s Word. It may even warrant a Part 2 in the future. Thank You, Lord, for this blessing today!

Dear God…
Your creation always bless me so
The simplicity of life each day
I see Your perfect hand in all
Teaching me along the way

Small_Red_Rose
Not only has God given us one of the most beautiful and fragrant flowers to enjoy, but He also has given us countless different types of roses! Each species bringing its own beauty and wonderful fragrance! Our God is a God of detail and imagination, isn’t He? As I meditated on the rose this morning, I was so totally blessed by its intricacies. I stand amazed at how our Heavenly Father poured Himself into this one part of His creation! O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! (Psa 8:9)

There are so many different species of the rose to choose from! It was difficult to pick one. I was going to pick the obvious rose found in many florist shops, however, I wanted to pick something unique. Then I saw it – the rose that jumped off the page at me – the Dog Rose. The Dog Rose’s similarities to Virginia’s Dogwood tree caught my eye. I would never have thought this flower to be a rose, would you? It’s not the typical looking rose. This Dog Rose is found in Europe and the Middle East. The Creator of all gives us a glimpse of His power by giving man so many different types of roses to enjoy. I stand amazed at how awesome God is! … and we all are the work of thy hand. (Isa 64:8b)

Have you noticed the petals of this beautiful Dog Rose? There are five petals – the number five symbolizes God’s grace. The Victorian “language of flowers” says that different colored roses each have their own symbolic meaning – how appropriate that the color pink, according to this language, stands for grace! Grace is defined as unmerited favor! No more appropriate definition can be given to our salvation! There is nothing we can due to earn this favor – it is freely given to us by our Heavenly Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Eph 2:8 ) When we see the Dog Rose, or any other five-petal flower, it should remind us of the grace, the unmerited favor, the Father has given to us.

This beautiful rose has another distinct quality about it. Its center explodes with bright yellow rays, resembling the sun’s rays shooting outward. When we accept Jesus Christ, His love and the light of His Word should be radiating from us. We are to be a witness to the unsaved world with the light of His Word. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Mat 5:16)

When we see a beautiful rose bush, we do not realize the tender care and love that has gone into it. It is for the rose bush’s health that the gardener prunes it and keeps harmful bugs away. He meticulously prunes each branch so that it can produce more beautiful flowers. He carefully pulls the weeds so the plant will be healthy and strong. Then he painstakingly picks out every bug which would ruin his work and he sprays to keep future bugs away. What a beautiful portrayal of the Holy Spirit caring for the believer! It is for our own spiritual health that He prunes us – He desires us to bear precious fruit. He prunes us into the image of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Eph. 5:9-10, (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; ) (9) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. (10)

Like every plant, this Dog Rose bush grows toward the sun which provides the light. So should the Christian grow “toward” the Son – becoming more like Him. Our yielded vessel will be used of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ. The Spirit teaches us and prunes us to be more like Jesus! John 16:13-14, Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (13) He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (14)

The Dog Rose does not interfere with the gardener – she allows him to carefully tend to her needs so she can become beautiful. So should the believer be – do not interfere with the Gardener (the Holy Spirit) as He carefully tends to our needs and molds us into vessels unto honour for the Master.

Dear God…
I thank Thee for the rose’s beauty
It’s color and fragrance sweet
Within each petal and each leaf
Thy Hand I clearly see

087d7f0069385dd543178c4c2fca3430
As I meditated on God’s goodness this morning, my heart rested on the beautiful Monarch Butterfly. The wonder of God is shown through its beautiful lines and structure. The vibrant colors make this creature stand out, don’t they? The first thought that popped into my mind was the four different stages the butterfly goes through from the time of its inception. The number four represents the number of creation – isn’t it interesting that the butterfly’s final “creation” stage results in a new creation?

The Monarch Butterly begins its life in the form of an egg. This egg represents the beginning of the born again believer’s life. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3 and Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. John 3:7

The egg hatches and next is the caterpillar stage. This second stage represents the baby Christian. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (1 Pe 2:2) How interesting to note here that the caterpillar feeds on “milk”weed. Isn’t it just like the Lord to give us this lesson through His creation? During this stage, the caterpillar stores energy in the form of fat and nutrients, which will be needed for the next stage. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Ti 2:15) I found it interesting that the milkweed is poisonous to the Monarch’s enemies but not to the Monarch itself! But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Co 2:14) Because of this poison, the Monarch’s enemies have learned to stay away, recognizing the Monarch by its colors. Because we are a new creature in Christ, the world should not want to have anything to do with us. They prefer to live in darkness. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (Joh 3:20) and The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. (Joh 7:7)

The caterpillar prepares himself for the next stage, the pupa stage, where transformation will take place. He spins a silk pad on a leaf or twig and hangs upside down from his pad by his prolegs. Take a guess at what shape the caterpillar forms his silk pad… it forms a “J”!! The Holy Spirit forms us into the image (shape) of Jesus Christ! O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. (Psa 92:5) The Holy Spirit begins a work in us at the time of salvation. We begin with the pure milk of the Word. As we go through trial and tribulation leaning on the Lord, we begin to take on His characteristics! Praise the Lord! And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (Col 3:10) It is through these trials and tribulations that we learn to be yielded vessels. The beautiful yielded vessel will not only be conformed into the image of Christ but will be able to be used by God for His purpose. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Ti 2:21)

What was ugly on a branch, the pupa goes through a miraculous change inside. He molts, becoming encapsuled in a green casing. It is then that the butterfly begins to be shaped. I have been taught that when the butterfly begins to emerge from its casing, it struggles for quite some time to be set free. If a human being were to “help” the butterfly in this process, the butterfly would die. The struggle it goes through to reach freedom is what is necessary for the butterfly to fly. The arduous task of setting itself free from the casing is what gives it the ability to live and fly! What a beautiful picture of the maturing Christian. Each of our trials is necessary to pave the way to be more like Christ. Do not take light of each difficult period of time in your life. When one leans on the Lord during these times, one draws closer to the Source. We become more beautiful because we become more like Christ! Eph. 4:23-24, And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; (23) And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (24)

At last, the beautiful Monarch Butterfly appears. Its beautiful colors are categorized as the “warm colors,” which are defined as colors of excitement. The more like Christ we become, the more vibrant and excited we are toward the cause of Christ – that of spreading the Gospel! As the butterfly’s egg passes away and forms a totally different creature, the born again believer dies to self and becomes more like the Master. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Co 5:17) Won’t you rejoice with me today in the trials and tribulations our precious Heavenly Father has allowed us to go through? The Holy Spirit works through us to form us into the Ultimate Beautiful Butterfly, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

More Like Jesus Would I Be
by Fanny Crosby

More like Jesus would I be, let my Savior dwell with me;
Fill my soul with peace and love—make me gentle as a dove;
More like Jesus, while I go, pilgrim in this world below;
Poor in spirit would I be; let my Savior dwell in me.

If He hears the raven’s cry, if His ever watchful eye
Marks the sparrows when they fall, surely He will hear my call:
He will teach me how to live, all my sinful thoughts forgive;
Pure in heart I still would be—let my Savior dwell in me.

More like Jesus when I pray, more like Jesus day by day,
May I rest me by His side, where the tranquil waters glide.
Born of Him through grace renewed, by His love my will subdued,
Rich in faith I still would be—let my Savior dwell in me.

CardinalWhen I first moved to Virginia, one of the first things I noticed was the variety of different species of birds! When we moved into our current house, we were astonished at the variety of wildlife just in our backyard alone. We have 22 trees out back and they are home to all kinds of critters. We have our own little National Geographic episode right before our eyes. Amongst the Morning Doves, Blue Jays, woodpeckers, squirrels and turtles, we were excited to see that the Cardinals made their home in our trees. Their colorful feathers make it so easy to spot them. Even when they are hidden, we can listen to their beautiful songs ringing out.

I do believe one of my fondest memories is that of the Cardinal perched in one of our trees in the winter time. The plumage of the male is a bright scarlet red and he wears the crest proudly on his head like a crown! This species does not migrate South for the winter but sticks around for the cold. So we are privileged to see it in all four of our seasons. I do believe, however, that its greatest beauty is seen in the winter! Its colors pop out over the blanket of white snow.

As you can see in this picture, the female is much lighter, but beautiful in her own way. Again this morning, God’s Goodness was seen in this creature’s colors and habits. When I behold the awesome scarlet red feathers of the male, I think of Christ shedding His blood on the cross. Throughout the Word of God, we see that Scarlet Thread of Redemption and God’s creation drawing us toward Him and His redemptive work. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Rom 1:20) I’m sure if we truly set our minds to it, we could see God’s Hand in each piece of His creation. Why not take advantage of the lessons He has for us in nature?

Another wonderful characteristic of the Cardinal (and most perching birds), is the way they sleep. Brother Aaron Adams of Fundamental Baptist Forum, shared some thoughts on perching birds. “Have you ever watched a bird sleeping on it’s perch and never falling off? How is it possible? The secret is the tendons of the bird’s legs. They are so constructed that when the leg is bent at the knee, the claws contract and grip like a steel trap! The claws refuse to let go until the knees are unbent again. The bended knee gives the bird the ability to hold on to his perch so tightly.

Isn’t this also the secret of the power of the Christian? Daniel found this to be true. Surrounded by a pagan government tempted to compromise with evil, urged to weaken his grip on God, he refused to let go and bent his knee at least three times a day. He held firm when others faltered, because he was a man of prayer. He knew the power of the bended knee. From sleeping birds we can learn the secret of how to get a hold of God’s power! That secret is the knee bent in prayer.” Thank you, Brother Aaron, for this beautiful comparison.

I also noted in my research that the more soundly the Cardinal sleeps, the tighter his claws grip to the perch. The more we rest in God’s care the stronger we become as Christians. We grip to the Creator of all because He provides us with the help we need. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. (Psa 121:2)The power in a Christian’s life can be directly linked to the amount of time this Christian spends in prayer. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. (1 Jo 3:22) God answers the prayers of those who walk in His will.

Furthermore, I noted that the Cardinal cannot move until he has raised himself up and straightened his legs, thus setting his claws free. After the Christian has met with the Master in prayer, he is ready to meet the day and all it has in store for him. The believer walks away from prayer time with God’s arm of protection over him. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Eph 6:13) He is equipped for the day knowing that each moment rests in the hands of the Creator.

Another beautiful characteristic of Cardinals is the way they keep themselves warm in the winter as they sleep. I did not know that the air around the Cardinal (and all birds) is what keeps them warm. That totally amazed me! The Cardinal hides his head under his wing and fluffs up his feathers, like in the picture above. As the air comes in and settles among the soft down, it warms up and warms the Cardinal. Isn’t that a beautiful picture? As we are yielded vessels resting in the Word of God, the Holy Spirit “heats” us up – He energizes us – and He fuels us with what we need for the day. The Creator of all took time to create a beautiful creature and provide it with a way to warm its tiny body in the cold of winter. So much the more, will our Heavenly Father care for His children who trust Him! How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. (Psa 36:7)

As the bright crimson male Cardinal can be seen at a distance, even with trees and bushes full of foliage, so should the Christian be different. The world should be able to see something different about us because we have put on Jesus! We are the only “Jesus with skin” they will ever see. Do we appear to the lost as the beautiful Cardinal or do we appear like the vulture? We are children of the King and we should represent the King in how we look, how we speak, and how we walk. And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel. (Zep 1:8 ) God has given us salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who deny Jesus Christ wear the “strange apparel” but we do not. We have been washed in the precious scarlet Blood of Jesus Christ. He went through much so that we could have salvation through Him and the opportunity to wear royal robes.

Each time I gaze upon this beautiful creature, the Cardinal, I cannot help but meditate on Christ’s complete work on the cross. Won’t you join me this morning in God’s Goodness and glorify His name through His creation of this beautiful creature? Hopefully, the next time you see a Cardinal, you will be reminded of what Christ went through for you.

Dear God…
Another blessed time with You
Has been given me this day
Drawing me to Your Precious Blood
For my soul You dearly paid

spokane-sundogThere is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. (Deu 33:26) Sundogs are formed by the refraction of sunlight by small ice crystals making up certain types of clouds. As I found this picture of a halo-type sundog, it reminded me that our Creator’s finger paints the skies for us and provides us with a beautiful tapestry of shapes and colors to behold. Does this picture not look like it could be God’s eye looking over the earth? This type of sundog is a halo. It sent shivers up my spine to see the awesome wonder of all that occurs in the skies that we are unaware of. I’m certain I could write a devotional each day for one year and not exhaust the heavenlies! I had only found pictures of today’s topic and I was totally blessed – I had not even penned a word. I guess it’s true that a picture paints a thousand words! O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. (Psa 104:24)

I know that if I had not seen them with my own eyes, I would have thought these photographs to be camera tricks. However, witnessing such a spectacular event caused me to want to know more about my Heavenly Father. I stood in wonder and awe and meditated on the Creator and His Goodness. I know that I’ve used this verse several times but I can’t help but understand it more clearly with each part of God’s creation I write about. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Rom 1:20) The halo-type sundog appears at sunrise or sunset. It reminded me that we should seek our Father’s face from the time we rise until we go to sleep. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. (Psa 25:5)

John and I see the rainbow-type sundog frequently as we ride motorcycle. I spot them quickly if I am wearing sunglasses as they are harder for me to see with the naked eye. These types appear at any time of the day but I see them more clearly when the sun is high in the sky. The colors are like those of the rainbow and quite beautiful. It’s as though God Himself painted a piece of rainbow in the middle of His sky just for us to enjoy! Each time I see this type of sundog and its colors, I think of the rainbow. The rainbow appeared twice in the Word – once in Genesis and once again in Revelation – in the first book and in the last book. It reminds me of my Alpha and Omega, my Beginning and my End, my Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. (Isa 45:8 ) All these phenomena require light in order to appear. Without light, there is utter darkness. Nothing can be seen – nothing can be appreciated. So are we without Christ. We are in utter darkness and the Father does not see us. But the moment we are born again, the Father sees His Son’s blood over us and we now are precious in His sight. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: (Isa 43:4a) Without the Light of the Word, many souls will go into that eternal, utter darkness. But the born again believer has received the Light of the Son and we will spend eternity in a City that needs no light. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 Jo 1:5) and And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. (Rev 21:23)

Thank your Heavenly Father for providing you with glimpses of His nature through the various lights in the sky. Let these lights remind you of His holiness, His covenant with us through Christ, and His coming Kingdom! And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. (Psa 40:3)

Dear God…
Thy wondrous beauty I behold
Each morning and each night
Just gazing to the heavenlies
I see Thy glorious might!

A juvenile deer licks a doe at Theodore Wirth gofl course in Golden Valley

A juvenile deer licks a doe at Theodore Wirth gofl course in Golden Valley

The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory. (Psa 29:9) Our God is not only responsible for creating this beautiful animal, but He is also responsible for them multiplying and their very lives! Our Father’s Hand is on all His creation!

I thought of the useage of the word hind in Scriptures. Hind is another word for deer. I recalled Psalm 18:33 how God said He will make our feet like hinds’ feet and will set us upon our high places. I did a phrase search for hinds’ feet and it resulted in three verses. Isn’t it neat how the number three shows up again? Again, the Three-in-One are caring for us… God provides us with sure footing and a place for spiritual renewal!

He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places. (2 Sa 22:34)

He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places. (Psa 18:33)

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments. (Hab 3:19)

It is God who gives us the strength we need to walk the paths of difficulty in this life. My father owned acreage in a forest which was home to the beautiful white-tailed deer – we called this land “the Beaver Dam” because it also was home to a family of beavers. Oh how I loved going there with my Dad! Some of my fondest memories rest there with him at the Beaver Dam. The white-tailed deer were plentiful and we would sit ever so still for long periods of time, not wanting to scare them away. Dad loved to watch them graze and it showed me the tender side to my father. Growing up on this haven of rest, I saw deer run like the wind and not falter – not one step when danger was near. They would run up the steep hill as if it were nothing. It’s as if they didn’t even need to look where they were going – they just flew! Did you know that they can move up to 40 mph through the forest and dart side to side as they run!

As I meditated on these three verses about the hinds’ feet, I could not help but remember all those difficult hills (spiritual battles) I have been through in my saved life. Looking back, I notice that when I rested in the Master’s care I had that sure footing. I had a confidence that all would work out and I didn’t need to worry about a thing. It’s those times that I was in the Word, daily feeding my spirit and encouraging myself in the Lord – strengthening myself and learning to recognize God’s Hand in each detail. Despite the storms around me, I did not fear. I knew that the same God that stilled the storm and the waters, would still my storm! Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. (Psa 16:9) I grew to appreciate why Fanny Crosby could pen the words to Blessed Assurance. Especially the following stanza:

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

I believe she knew how to reach the mountain top. I believe she knew how to watch and wait as God handled matters. How else could she be lost in His love and filled with His goodness as she watched and waited?

Upon further reflection on these beautiful verses, I noticed that the Lord tells us three times that He will set us upon the high places. When we are abiding in Him, our spirit is lifted and encouraged and the Lord places us on the mountain top of sweet fellowship! When we finish each trial and see the wonderful Hand of God throughout, it becomes easier to place those trials in His care when they surface. …for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. (Jer 31:13b) The high places are a place of refreshing – spiritual renewal – rest awaits there for us. It’s these times of spiritual refreshing that should be foremost in our memory as we see a trial approaching. This is how we encourage ourselves in the Lord – we know that He will be right there to help us be sure footed and again, He will be faithful to lead us to the mountaintop. But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa 40:31)

The picture above was taken on one of our frequent motorcycle trips to the Blue Ridge Mountains. There were several white-tailed deer just grazing nearby. As I drew closer, the deer perked right up as if posing for me. She wasn’t afraid because her tail was still down, but she sure was watching every move I made. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (2 Pe 3:17) We should be alert, ever watchful of the deception around us so we do not fall prey to it.

Another one of our stops is usually at an overlook where we see the beautiful valley below us from 3,000 feet up. From this viewpoint, we can see for miles on a clear day. Also from this viewpoint, we can see danger frojm afar. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. (Mat 24:4) We should be able to spot deception from afar, my friend. However, we cannot spot it if we are not in the Word long enough to find out what deception is. There is comfort and encouragement when we have been in God’s Word and He has shown us what too look out for. We are not caught unaware. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. (Luk 21:34) When we’re in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit teaches us what to expect in these end times so we are not caught off guard. Rather, we are encouraged by the signs of the times and rejoice that our Saviour is soon coming! Not only does God provide us with a spiritual refreshing on that mountain top but He gives us the ability to see when danger approaches! We are spiritually acute because we have been walking with our Shepherd. I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me. (Psa 119:93) He has guided us and cared for us! What a beautiful picture of Him, amen?

We can be assured of going through many valleys on our path here on earth. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; (Psa 23:4a) As a child of God, it’s important for us to follow David’s example and how he encouraged himself in the Lord. He feared no evil in his valleys because David knew God was with Him. He reflected on God’s Goodness with each previous trial and knew that the same God would be there for all future trials. Psalm 23 is such a beautiful picture of David’s relationship with God. It is to our downfall when we don’t spend extra time in the Word during these valleys – we do not prepare ourselves and, therefore, have nothing to draw from. It’s like going on a long trip and not putting fuel in the gas tank before leaving! David was an excellent example of someone who could encourage himself in the Lord. Reading about his trials and then his accounts in Psalms encouraged me in my times of need. It was because of his example that I was able to write the devotional on Discouragement and Encouragement.

Dear Christian, spend time in the Word and let God teach you and feed you. Then you, too, will be able to have the sure-footedness of the deer and God will place you on that mountain top of spiritual refreshing! And the next time you see a deer, I pray you will be reminded of this devotional and be encouraged to get in the Word, find the Lord there and reach your high place!

Dear God…
May I never cease to meet You, Lord
Each day must I seek Your face
Please guard my step as You do the deer
And set me on that high place.

Job 12:7-9, “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: (7) Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. (8 ) Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this? (9) Did you know there are about 30,000 species of fish today? With so many different species, we could park on this topic for a while and learn from God as He instructed us to do in the Book of Job.

What can we learn from the fish? No matter how many different types there are, they all have some things in common. The first thing I meditated on was that fish would die unless they are in motion. That is because it gets its oxygen through its gills. The blood flows through the gill in one direction and picks up the oxygen it needs from the water flowing in the opposite direction. Fish must pass new water over their gills continuously to keep a supply of oxygenated water available for diffusion. I can see why God told us in Job to study His creation, can’t you? If the Christian stops moving forward in his spiritual walk, it is because he is not in the Word of God. The Word is where we get our fuel (oxygen) needed to survive. As the fish picks up its oxygen from the water, so do we pick up our spiritual food from the Water of Life. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (Joh 4:10) We receive life through the water of the Word, my friend. Our Bible is a gift to us. How can we leave it so neglected? We perish spiritually if we do not drink from it.

As I observed the habits of the fish, I found that most travel in schools. I wondered what God would have to teach me through this characteristic. A school is a group of fish (school sizes vary with different species) which travel together as a group. The school concept has several advantages: (1) safety from the enemy (2) feeding (3) protection, and (4) helping one another.

Only forward moving (living) fish can belong to a school. I liken this to the church. Only born-again believers can belong to the church. Amongst the brethren, we feel safe – we can enjoy fellowship and the preaching of the Word of God. For a fish to remain in a school, it cannot be a straggler or it becomes dinner. It cannot move away from the school or it becomes free game for the predator. How true of the believer! If the believer does not continue to grow in the Spirit by being in the Word and hearing the preaching, he falls for every wind of doctrine. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Eph 4:14) If that believer continues to lose ground spiritually and falls out of church, he becomes prey to ole slew foot. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Pe 5:8 ) and Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Heb 10:25) Staying in church is so important – just as it is important for the fish to remain in the school.

When dinnertime comes, food is easier to find with a school of fish. Having 50 sets of eyes and noses gives the school a better chance of finding dinner. How true of believers gathering together to feed on God’s Word. Interacting with believers to hear what they gleaned from the Word and share experiences is so rewarding. I love Sunday School classes for this reason. Interacting with one another as we learn always produces a spiritually “meatier” class, don’t you think? As a body, we teach one another and help each other to grow in Christ. Heb. 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

I learned that some fish schools are more like gangs where they patrol their territory and run out the intruders. Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Those who are strong in the Lord and His Word, are able to discern what is evil in the church. Our Pastors and deacons need to be spiritually full so they can protect those in their charge.

Scientists have stated that it is believed that fish who swim close together reduce friction and this allows the fish to conserve energy. When a church works together, exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit, much can be accomplished. I’ve been in churches where it felt like we were spinning our wheels. Energy was not being conserved, that’s for sure. However, when each Christian blooms where he is planted and utilizes the gift(s) God has blessed him with, you have a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ. But now are they many members, yet but one body. (1 Co 12:20) The Gospel goes out effectively when everyone works together.

I truly believe that God has a wonderful sense of humor! In most of His creation, there’s one that is odd looking – at least in my opinion! I find this flatfish as God showing us His sense of humor, don’t you agree?! Notice how this flatfish has both eyes on one side of its head? Look at his mouth – it almost looks like this picture was morphed or something! It seems to me that the flatfish could only see off one side of its body and miss the predator on the other side. However, God in His infinite mercy, took care of this part of His creation. He gave this odd looking fish the ability to spot his predators. The flatfish lies flat on the bottom so he actually sees better because he has two eyes scanning in the same direction! Isn’t that just awesome? I thought of Christians who are not watching for the devil – some walk into traps blindly and some do so willingly! 1 Thess. 5:5-6, Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. (5) Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. (6) God always gives us the armor and tools to fight our spiritual battle here on earth. He does not leave us unequipped. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Eph 6:11) 2 Tim. 3:16-17, and All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (16) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (17)

Lastly, the one thing that is true of all fish is their awful stench soon after they die. Sin in our lives causes our testimony to stink, my friend. The unbelieving world will look at us and despise us because of our stench. David recognized that and penned it for us. Psa 38:4-5, For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. (4) My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. (5) No wonder David was the apple of God’s eye! He did not blame his sin on someone else or on the circumstances around him. He said that the wounds of his sin stunk and were corrupt because of his foolishness! How many Christians have you heard excuse after excuse from because they weren’t in church or they didn’t read their Bible that day or they succumbed to temptation – whatever the case! Instead, we should be growing in Christ, more like the Master with each day – producing a sweet odor – a beautiful testimony for the unbelieving world. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: (2 Co 2:15)

I have to be honest with you, when the fish came to my mind for today’s devotional, I honestly did not think I would have much to glean from! God is so Good! Thank You, Lord, for Your Goodness to me today!

Dear God…
From the smallest of creation
You have given me delight
To see Your hand in each of them
And to teach me of Your might!

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Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: This is the first time the word ant appears in the Bible. I love how God uses different species to teach us a lesson. The ant is used to teach us how not to be a sluggard! As I was researching this strange little creature, I found out some interesting facts.

Did you know there are 11,880 known ant species? This is just one piece of creation! God amazes me more and more each day that I work on this series. What a blessing this has proven to be. When ant colonies have been observed, they are likened to a super organism because they seem to function as one! I found that quite interesting. Could it be that God wants us to learn from this part of their makeup? The church should function as “one” just as the ant. All working together for the cause of the Gospel! “… that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; (Phil. 1:27)

Brother Lee Pierson, of Our Final Authority, was sharing his thoughts about the ant.

I have always been fascinated with ants and other social insects. Ants have a structured hierarchy and each ant knows his function within his family. Each ant is born with a specialized function and he has been given the tools to perform his task. There are workers and guards, gatherers and builders. They grow gardens and milk cows and there are even some that just work in the nursery caring for the eggs. They work and sacrifice for each other and the colony. They do not get jealous of each other and they all work together as one.

What a beautiful picture of how the church should be! Working as one unit for the glory of God!

God knew this tiny creature would need a method of communicating amongst themselves. When an ant finds food, it leaves a trail of pheromones for other ants to follow. God gave them different types of pheromones: there are alarm pheromones, food trail pheromones, sex pheromones, and many others that affect their behavior or their circumstances. An ant that has been crushed will give off an alarm pheromone which sends nearby ants into an attack craze. Brother Lee witnessed an event that truly blessed my heart:

When I worked near a river that was overflowing with floodwaters, I really became impressed with the local ant colonies. It had stopped raining a couple of days earlier but the river had not yet crested. As the water level came out of the banks of the river and slowly rose to claim the surrounding fields, the local ants began to gather dry leaves and twigs to use as life rafts. When the water reached their nest, they all jumped on board their rafts and floated away hanging onto the raft and to each other!

We are a lot like these ants. We can see the flood of judgment heading our way and we have our raft to float away on. Like the ants, we did not build our rafts we just accept God’s Gift when He provided the raft for us. One day soon, we are going to just float right out of this place!

Thank you, Brother Lee, for your contribution! What a blessing this was to me.

I also noticed that the Word mentioned the ant twice. I wondered what God was trying to communicate to us through observing the ant. I realized that both verses encouraged us to be wise – to see after wisdom. Prov. 30:24-25, There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: (24) The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; (25) Again, God says that if we pattern ourselves after the ant, we are wise. Solomon, the wisest man ever to live (past, present and future) wrote the Book of Proverbs. It is to our benefit that we heed what God is telling us. God is telling us to “get wisdom” – let’s look at that a moment:

Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. (Prov. 4:5)

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. (Prov. 4:7)

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! (Prov. 16:16)

Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it? (Prov. 17:16)

All four verses tell us to get wisdom but they also encourage us to get understanding. Only the fool, in the fourth verse, “hath no heart to it” – meaning he didn’t understand – he read but didn’t get understanding. I think of the unbeliever who does not understand the Word of God. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14) Christians have no excuse – we have the Word of God – it is Perfect, without error! We have every opportunity to get our wisdom and understanding! Especially in our country! Come on, people – many of you have more than one Bible sitting on the shelf gathering dust. Shame on you! God is waiting to open our understanding! Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, (Luke 24:45)

Two of my favorite verses in the New Testament were both penned by James. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5) This wisdom is given by God, not man. God is not cheap – He gives us wisdom liberally to all men if they ask. Mankind has no excuse – if they don’t ask, they won’t receive it and be saved. How ashamed will the Christian be when he stands before Christ Himself having to justify why he didn’t read the Word!

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (James 3:17) The world’s wisdom is of their father the devil. The world’s wisdom would be totally opposite of what God provides. Breaking down this verse truly blessed me. Let’s look at this verse as if it were the devil encouraging the world to get his wisdom: But the wisdom that is from below is first polluted, then tumultuous, unkind and wild, stubborn, unmerciful and evil fruits, having favorites, and hypocritical. Wow! This is the wisdom the devil wants you to have. We get this kind of wisdom in the world’s entertainment, the world’s goodies, and the world’s habits.

Be careful! Learn from the ant – get wisdom and understanding as God’s Word tells us.

Dear God…
The ant is but a tiny thing
But much from it I’ve learned
To diligently seek Your Word
And to Your wisdom turn.