A large tower is being constructed, financed by Ronald Chump, and BNN is on the scene!
I have something in common with Tad Schultz… I can’t swim. I wish I could swim; I’ve had lessons, but the moment the water hits me in the face, I panic. It sucks. I love splashing around in the pool during the hot 100 degree summer days, but there is something about the water in my face that just ends all the fun.
A couple of years ago, my wife (Lela) and the kids talked me into taking them to a local lake for the day. I dreaded the entire drive down there. We got to the swimming area, the wife and kids went straight to the water, and I sat on a towel and watched. It looked like fun. They were enjoying themselves and I was stuck in the hot sand.
“It wouldn’t hurt to just get my feet wet would it?” So I sat down at the water’s edge. It felt good, so I waded out a little further. Now I’m waist deep and throwing the football with the boys. The girls are lounging in their float rafts, Lela is swimming around, and we are having a good time. I waded out a little farther. Now I was pushing it. Courtney had called me over and I walked over to her. She was laying on a float raft, and I was standing beside her talking, the water level was striking me right at my neck.
Then it happened. The ground I was standing on disappeared from underneath me. I slipped in a hole and now, this 6 foot tall oaf, was standing in 7 foot deep water. I jumped up breaking the water’s surface and gasped for air. I realized Courtney’s raft was close enough for me to grab, but if I grabbed it chances are I’d tip her over and bring her under with me, making the situation worse. I hit the bottom and jumped up again. This time when I broke the surface, I saw Lela, about 30 yards away. “LELA!” I called, gasped for a breath and went back under, this time waving with my arms to get her attention.
My next trip to the surface I saw her swimming towards me. The final time I went under she grabbed my arm and drug me back to shallow water. Then she escorted me to the beach, sat me down, beat on my back to help me cough up the gallons of water I had swallowed; then she looked me in the eye and told me, “Don’t go back in the water.”
I spent the rest of the day reading a book.
Sin is a lot like that story. We all know we shouldn’t sin. But we sit on the proverbial beach and see people who live in sin every day, and seem to enjoy it. We know what they are doing is something we should not be a part of but it just looks like so much fun! Maybe if we just get our feet wet, that won’t hurt anything would it? So we dip our toe and realize it doesn’t feel so bad. So we wade in deeper. Soon we are up to our neck in it, just splashing away having a good time, and then it happens. Suddenly we are in over our head and can’t get out.
Our first reaction is to grab hold of the nearest thing that looks like it can save us. But quick fixes more or less make a bad situation worse. What we need is someone to come pull us from the sin, drag us to shore, and tell us: “Don’t go back in.”
Here’s the best part. Jesus is such a savior. His life, death and resurrection was all for the sole purpose of pulling YOU out of the water and saving YOU from sin.
This week’s devotional is being specifically written for someone. I don’t know your name, or your circumstances, but I know you are out there. You are in over your head in sin, you know it’s not where you should be in your life, but you can’t find a way out. I’ve been there, both physically as you have read above, and spiritually. But there is a Savior waiting to pull you to safety.
Accepting Jesus as your savior is simple. At my church we teach that salvation is as simple as ABC.
A is for Admit that you are a sinner and repent from those sins. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The first step toward treating any kind of problem is to admit that you actually have a problem. You cannot accept that God is offering you salvation, until you realize you have a need for salvation.
B is for Believe. Acts 16:31 says “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved, you and your household.” John 3:16 says “Whosoever believes in me shall not perish but have everlasting life!” Salvation is that simple. Believe that Jesus died for you.
C is for Confess. This one confuses some people. It’s not about confessing your sins. You have already done that by admitting your sins. Confess in this context is simply this: “HEY WORLD! JESUS CHRIST IS MY LORD AND SAVIOR!” Romans 10:9 says “if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”
When we got home from our lake outing my dad called to see if we had a good time. The first thing I told him was how Lela has saved me from drowning. I was so grateful for what she had done I wanted to share it with everyone. This is the context we are using confession here. We should be so happy and grateful for Jesus salvation we should be ready to proclaim it to everyone we encounter.
Now, I’m sure that most of the people who watch the videos and read these devotionals have already accepted Jesus as their savior. This week God has laid salvation on my heart, and after 15 devotionals, I realized I’ve yet to cover the first and most important base. So those who are already Christians, just enjoy the story and tune in next week, this week may not be for you.
I just can’t help shaking a nagging feeling that somewhere out in the world-wide-web, someone is reading this who feels like they are in over their head. If you are that person, this message is for you: Jesus is waiting for you. He is there with open arms ready to pull you out of the water and radically change your life. Know that there are people praying for you, and there are churches full of people who have been exactly where you are right now, and would love to share their story with you, and help you grow closer to the Lord.
…And no Ray, I can’t even dog paddle, not even a little bit.
BNN Reports on the flooded Earth.
When the Lord saw that man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of nothing but evil all the time, the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Then the Lord said, “I will wipe off the face of the earth: man, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them” (Genesis 6:5-8)
That’s a pretty heavy passage to read right after you watch or read the news. It seems not a day goes by without hearing a story about abuse, neglect, or perversion. Just today, I read a story about a school secretary who was caught making adult movies in her free time; how a local man was found guilty for beating his roommate to death, and of course all the latest news from the Libyan front. One could easily say that those verses in Genesis could easily apply today. There are days that it just seems hopeless.
But read on.
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8)
Noah, one single man, found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Noah, one single man, was enough for God to rethink his plan to destroy man. What was it about Noah that was so amazing?
These are the family records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)
Noah was righteous, he was a believer. He grew up with a great-grandfather whose faith and relationship with God was legendary. But not only was he familiar with God, he grew that into a deep relationship with God.
Noah was blameless among his contemporaries. Notice the bible doesn’t say Noah was sinless. But he was blameless. That means that among his peers, they could not find fault with him. He lived a relatively clean cut life.
Most importantly, Noah walked with God. This is the keystone of Noah’s life. Onethe one side, you have Noah’s legacy. He was raised in a family that believed in God. He took that knowledge and grew a relationship with God. And through that relationship, he lived a blameless life. Thereby, finding grace in the eyes of the Lord.
Salvation is really that simple. And through Jesus, it is available to us all. But the trick is it’s not a multiple choice test. You cannot achieve salvation through righteousness and living blameless. You cannot claim to walk with God, but live a wicked life. The three things go hand in hand. Finding grace in the eyes of the Lord, takes a full effort. Living righteous/blameless and walking with God go hand in hand.
I will admit it is difficult to do. Daily there are temptations to lead us into wickedness, but through having a relationship with God, we can overcome the wickedness.
And once we find favor with God, amazing things happen.
By faith Noah, after being warned about what was not yet seen, in reverence built an ark to deliver his family. By this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
Because of his relationship with God, Noah had the faith to do what God commanded, even when it seemed strange and unfathomable.
God isn’t going to come to us and tell us to build an ark, but he does come and ask us to follow him. Maybe it is to reach out to your neighbor, or someone who is suffering. Maybe it is to pack up your bags and move to a new place to serve where God needs you.
Faith is a powerful thing; when God knows that he can count on you, he can lead you to amazing things.
And it all starts by living righteous, blameless and walking with God.
I’ve got some work to do….
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
But the LORD said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
I got a new puppy! Some friends of mine posted on Facebook that they had some puppies to give away. I called them up and when I found out their heritage, I really wanted one. The father of the litter is known around here as a super cattle working dog, and getting the chance to have one of his offspring was too good to pass up.
We brought him home Sunday night, and introduced him to my two other dogs. Skeeter is an old Basset Hound that is enjoying the twilight of her life. She took one look at him, growled and turned her back and went on her way. My black lab, Bob, didn’t know what to think. We’ve had Bob for 5 years; I got him about a month after Lela and I got married. He knows he is my buddy and we’ve always had a one on one relationship. But now there is this new puppy. Bob still gets attention, but now he has to share it with Alf (the puppy).
Monday, I began the new puppy training routine, and Bob had to interject himself and prove that he could still do all the same tricks. I would acknowledge him and try to go back to training Alf, but again, Bob would horn in. Finally, I had to take Alf into the house to continue his training. The entire time, Bob sat at the back door, looking in and whimpering. He felt like I had chosen a favorite.
It is so easy to claim favoritism when we don’t understand the master plan. Bob doesn’t understand why Alf is getting more attention, but as their master, I am trying to train them both to do as I ask. Bob knows what I expect, and is a very good and obedient dog. Alf is still a puppy; his maturity requires more attention, and more discipline.
The same thing is found in the story of Cain and Abel. Cain was furious because God was not impressed with his offering. It wasn’t just because God preferred livestock to grains. It was because Cain’s offering wasn’t as sincere as Abel’s.
In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the LORD. 4 And Abel also presented [an offering]—some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he was downcast –Gen 4: 3-5
Notice that the Bible notes that Abel’s offering consisted of the firstborn of his flock, and their fat portions. Abel gave God the very best. Cain’s offering was just a portion of the land’s produce. He didn’t save his first and best crops for God.
God expects the very best from all of us. This was a lesson that Cain still had to learn. However, instead of going to God and asking what he had done wrong, he got angry and took matters into his own hands.
So many times we make mistakes, and instead of trying to learn from them and correct them, we just make a situation worse. Many times, it’s what we do after we’ve sinned that matters most.
Eden, Earth – Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
So the LORD God said to the serpent:
“ Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
To the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“ Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
A couple of months ago while on “vacation,” I introduced Damon to one of the greatest TV shows of all time. You may remember in past blogs I’ve talked about my step-son’s visit to the hospital with a ruptured appendix. As anyone who has ever spent much time in a hospital can attest, most hospitals do not get the premium cable package. Personally, I think when you consider how much you pay during a hospital say, they should go ahead and pop for the premium package, but that’s another subject.
One afternoon I was flipping channels and came upon the classic “I Dream of Jeannie.” These were classic, first season, black and white episodes. The first episode opened with Nelson and Healey in their military uniforms walking the halls of NASA and discussing the next space experiment. Damon was hooked. (Anything involving the military in any way gets his attention.) Next, Jeannie appeared and complicated the situation and the episode unfolded. We watched the show every afternoon until he finally got to come home.
That brings us to this past Saturday. Our local college team has decided that actually playing is over-rated and so I was flipping channels trying to find something to watch. I came across the show, this time it was one of the episodes from the final season. This one was in color. Damon came walking through the house and saw the TV. “Does Jeannie always wear a pink outfit?” he asked.
“I had just pictured it as purple.” He said then he went outside to play with his friends. I got to thinking about what he said. When things are only black and white, we begin to imagine what the colors could be. Our own preferences define the color pallet.
God started out in black and white. He laid out his laws very simple and plain. Eat this. Do not eat this. Each and every one of his commandments have been that simple. The problem is we are sinners. We don’t like dealing in absolutes. So for centuries, we have been trying to add Technicolor to God’s commandments. Look at the original sin:
In Genesis 2:16-17 God set out a very simple and straight-forward command: And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” Very to the point wouldn’t you say? Eat from this specific tree and you will die.
But looks what happens when Eve and the Serpent get some crayons and try to tinker with God’s command.
Gen 3: 1-6: Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’ “
“No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate [it]; she also gave [some] to her husband, [who was] with her, and he ate [it].
Do you see how the Serpent began to manipulate God’s word to serve his own purpose? Do you see how he even went so far as to get Eve in on the “color commentary”? Even Adam had a roll in this. God had spoken directly to him about the tree and the fruit, but while Eve and the Serpent debated theology, he stood there silent. Did he interrupt the conversation and set them straight on what God really had told him? No. He just stood there and let them paint their picture of what God’s commands “really” meant.
Throughout time, this tradition of interpreting God’s word has continued. God spoke his commands and then “spiritual pundits” would take to the streets proclaiming what God really meant.
Finally after years of waiting, God trumped them all and introduced Hi-Def 3D. He sent his Son to be a mediator for us. Through Jesus, we now have a clear understanding of God’s intentions. Through Jesus we no longer have to rely on those “color commentators” to decide if we are living right and wrong. One of my favorite images in the bible is found in Matthew 27: 50 and 51.
Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split.
The curtain talked about here is the symbolic barrier that separated God from the people. The high priests were the only persons allowed to go behind the curtain. Anyone else was considered “unworthy” of being in direct contact with God.
However, the moment that Jesus died for our sins, that way of thinking became obsolete. The curtain was ripped in two, just like our separation from God. Jesus removed the barrier that sin had built between us. He renewed the relationship that God had intended in the Garden of Eden.
That’s what makes Christianity so great. While so many religions are based on what some dead “prophet” interpreted as “the way.” Christianity is based on “The Way” (John 14:6) reaching down, and becoming personally involved with us.
Now the task before us is to share Christ. We can’t be like Eve and let flashy talk confuse us, and we cannot be like Adam, standing silent and allowing ourselves to be lead into sin. We are to use that personal relationship with God, to get to know God; so that we are not lead into confusion and tricked into following someone else’s version of religion.
Something’s not right in Eden. The newscast speculates on the cause.