Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good report, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, ponder on these things. - Philippians 4:8

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Give us this day our daily bread, - Matthew 6:11 (ESV)

      After a week of warm spring weather that got people excited about their spring cleaning, temps cooled back down and spring cleaning was put on hold, at least the stuff that had to be done outdoors. But you know, spring cleaning isn't the only thing that occurs in the spring. While many people are busy with their spring cleaning, old John McDonald only wishes he had time to spring clean.

      As a farmer, John is a very hard worker and each day he is up long before the sun comes up reading the bible, feeding over a hundred different animals, milking his cows, and collecting eggs, Each evening you'll find him doing the same things well past dark. During the rest of the day you may find him doing any of a hundred different jobs.

      During this time of year John is busy getting ready for the planting of crops on his nearly 1200 acres of fields. For the past few weeks he has been going over his tractors from top to bottom making sure they're in tip top shape. He's also been traveling his fence line mending breaks in the fence so his cows won't get out but that's not all. John has also been busy sampling his soil, and ordering fertilizer, pesticides and of course seeds.

     Sometimes you can find John busy doing research at the local library on farming techniques and trying to learn about the long range forecasts. He's also been found at the church doing some praying for rain as he has been learning from his research that there might not be enough rain this coming year for his crops and the ground is already dry.

     In a couple more weeks he'll start working in his fields from the time he gets done with his morning chores until it's past time to start the evening chores and some days hes might even be back out in the fields after he's done with them.

     Every year it's like this and every year you can hear him complaining to his daughter Tracy about how there just isn't enough time in the day. And every year he tells her that he needs to sell off part of the farm so he won't be so busy and will have time to do something yet when summer arrives and things slow down a little bit the first thing John does is go looking for more land and animals to buy.

     When his daughter asks him why he needs more when he said he wanted less he just starts mumbling about never having enough when it comes harvest time and how he can't stand to see his barns half full. “Besides,” John would add, “How can I help the poor if I don't have enough.”

     How much is enough? We live a society where we tend to think we need more and more and more. Maybe it’s because the society at large has come to believe that more is all there is. One hundred years ago it was figured that the average American had 70 wants. Now, a similar survey showed his grandson had nearly 500 on his list. (Beveridge Paper Co. - Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations)

     Gertrude, a missionary on an island in Haiti is quoted as saying “Most American Christians don't need God.” She goes on “American Christians have everything they need, If they don't pray or read the Bible for weeks, it makes little difference in their daily lives. They still have food to eat, a place to sleep, regular income. They don't need to practice their faith every day.” We end up focusing on the extras, the deserts. In a report I heard on the radio some time back it was noted that Americans have smaller families, bigger houses and need extra space to store their stuff. Do we really need more?

     Just before Jesus gives us the model prayer, He tells us in Matthew 6:8 that your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (ESV) While God may know what we need Jesus teaches us to pray in Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread, (ESV) So, what does it mean to pray for our daily bread and are we ready to?

     Through out the Bible God tells us that He wants to give to us both our needs and our desires.
  • Philippians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (NLT)
  • Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (ESV)
     Martin Luther wrote in 1529; What does daily bread mean? Everything that nourishes our body and meets its needs, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, yard, fields, cattle, money, possessions, a devout spouse, devout children, devout employees, devout and faithful rulers, good government, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors and other things like these…”

     Should we pray for our daily bread so we can spend it on our wants? Many people want what they don't need and need what they don't want. Luke 12:15 says Beware! Don't always be wishing for what you don't have. For real life and real living are not related to how rich we are. (TLB)

     Solomon was a man that had it all. Listen to what he learned about our wants - Ecclesiastes 5:10-13 Whoever loves money will never have enough money; Whoever loves wealth will not be satisfied with it. This is also useless. The more wealth people have, the more friends they have to help spend it. So what do people really gain? They gain nothing except to look at their riches. Those who work hard sleep in peace; it is not important if they eat little or much. But rich people worry about their wealth and cannot sleep. I have seen real misery here on earth: Money saved is a curse to its owners. (NCV)

     In Matthew 6:31-33 we read Don’t worry and say, ’What will we eat?’ or ’What will we drink?’ or ’What will we wear?’ The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them. The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you. (NCV)

     When we pray Give us this day our daily bread we are saying
  • We will trust the Lord to provide.
  • We will, be content with just my needs.
     If you are not happy with what you have, how could you be happier with more? - (Complete Book of Zingers)

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you really need more or do you just want more?
  • Can you be satisfied with what God gives you?

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. - Matthew 6:10b (NAS)

      Spring had sprung in Pupperville and many of its residents were busy with spring cleaning. With the warmer temperatures that had invaded the area, windows were being washed and opened to air things out, carpets were being scrubbed, walls were being wiped down, closet were being cleaned out, yards were being raked, and kids were whining and complaining.

     Over at the Peterson house some of the worst whining in the neighborhood was occurring as Stella was learning she had to spring clean. While Stella thought having a clean house would be nice , she wanted nothing to do with it. For weeks, or so she claimed, she had been making plans to spend the day with her friends. But Mom was not going to allow it and handed her a list of things to do that was nearly two miles long, or at lest that's what Stella claimed.

     After reading through the list she demanded that Harold be made to do everything on it. “And why should Harold have to do everything?” Martha asked. “Because he's the one that causes all of the problems and makes all of the messes.” Stella responded. “And you think you never do?” Martha asked knowing full well that Stella was far from perfect.

     “Where is Harold anyways?” Stella asked as she looked around for him. “He's not here.” Martha had to tell her, “He's working on his list which has him fixing things all over town and your DAD is with him to make sure he gets things done.” “Well, when he's done he can do my list too.” Stella said as she threw the list on the floor “I'm not doing it and you can't make me!”

      “Sorry,” Martha said as she picked up the list and gave it back to her, “But Harold will not be doing your list.” Well,” Stella said in disgust, “You're the mom, you do my list, I'm leaving.” and than Stella threw the list at her mom and tried to leave but she couldn't get past her mom who was blocking the doorway.

     “You will not be going anywhere!” Martha said sternly as she handed the list back, “And if everything on this list isn't done by the time your Dad gets home you won't be going anywhere for the rest of the month.” Upon hearing that, Stella snatched the list out of her mom's hand, shredded it, threw it in the air, proclaimed the list was done and than slammed the door shut.

     A few minutes later came a horrific scream. Trying to sneak out her bedroom window to get to her friends house, Stella fell twelve feet landing on her bike she had failed to put away. Once she made it to the hospital she learned that she was lucky to still be alive and she would have to be in traction, unable to move for the rest of the summer and if that wasn't bad enough, her mom had made her a new list and told her it would be waiting for her when she got home, just before the start of school.

     You don't have to go very far to find bad news and as we look around at all the “evil” and “violence” in the world. We may be tempted to pray as the Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:10 ans ask for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Or in other words “God, I want you to get things under control down here!” But, do we really want God to get things under control?

     Since God created us should He not also be our instructor on how we should live? And what are purpose for being here is? And what He desires of us? Through out the Bible we read of God's will or desire for us. Here are just two such passages.
  • Deuteronomy 10:12-13 Now, Israel, this is what the LORD your God wants you to do: Respect the LORD your God, and do what he has told you to do. Love him. Serve the LORD your God with your whole being, and obey the LORD’S commands and laws that I am giving you today for your own good. (NCV)
  • 1 Peter 2:13-15 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. (ESV)
     Beyond these general desires that God has for us, I believe there are specific things for each of us as individuals as well yet we often have trouble understanding what that will is. Often times what we think God should do, He doesn’t and what we don’t think He should do, He does in relation to His will and people.

     While much more could be said on what God's will is how would one want Him to implement it – how would we have God's will enforced? From my perspective, I only see two ways in which God could enforce it. The first is to eliminate all who do not conform to His will like He did during the days of Noah or as He did to Sodom and Gomorrah. Of course, if you know those stories you know how many survived. The Bible reminds us that no one is righteous, we all have sinned and as such we would all be wiped out.

     The other thing God could do is eliminate our ability to choose but than we would be nothing more than puppets. As much as I may make the puppets of Pupperville seem alive – they are just puppets and have no ability to choose anything, they can only do what I say they will do.

     Of course, if we really want God's will to be done on earth we need to be doing our part and not just praying about it. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus said to the disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. (NLT) We can't ask for God's will to be done and not do it ourselves, we can't ask for God's will to be done and than do our will instead.

     An overweight business associate of decided it was time to shed some excess pounds. He took his new diet seriously, even changing his driving route to avoid his favorite bakery. One morning, however, he arrived at work carrying a gigantic coffee cake. Everyone scolded him, but his smile remained cherubic. "This is a very special coffee cake," he explained. "I accidentally drove by the bakery this morning and there in the window were a host of goodies. I felt this was no accident, so I prayed, 'Lord, if you want me to have one of these delicious coffee cakes, let me have a parking place directly in front of the bakery.' And sure enough," he continued, "the eighth time around the block, there it was!" - (Illustrations Unlimited) Since God gives us all a choice, and since God will not yet take that way and since God won’t yet eliminate us, the alternative is up to us. To pray thy will be done is to say I’m going to do your will, I’m going to do what you want not what I want

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • When was the last time you asked for God's will to be done in your life?
  • Do you succumb to God's will or replace it with your own?

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Thy kingdom come – Matthew 6:10a

      Every once in awhile we get a glimpse of Bill Peterson's past. On Saturday as he was celebrating his anniversary he told a story from the first winter he and Martha had been married and how it was almost their last, for besides wanting his beloved Martha to be his bride, he wanted something else, something white, something called snow.

     Growing up where snow was only seen in the movies, Bill said that when he got married he was going to move to a quaint little cottage in the mountains where he would be able to have all the snow he could dream of. Once he and his new bride were all settled into their home in the mountains, he could hardly wait for the snow to come and finally it arrived.

     “As the first snow flakes drifted through the air,” Bill told his listeners, “I felt like life couldn't get any better. Martha and I sat quietly together sipping hot coco for what seemed like hours. It was so romantic, well, at least it was until morning came and I had to shovel the driveway.”

     By the end of the first week of snow, Bill said he had shoveled his driveway five times and each time the snowplow came by just after he had finished and filled in the end of the driveway. “And if that wasn't enough,” Bill went on to say, “I forgot that with the snow comes cold. I didn't realize people could still live when the temperatures got down to twenty below zero.”

     “I soon traded in my little sports car for a four wheel drive pickup.” Bill said as he continued his story. “And by the end of the second week there was nearly two feet of the whit stuff on the ground. I tried to get a snow blower or higher someone to shovel for me but I couldn't get any takers. Martha thought I should have put in a wood stove also in case the power went out but I laughed at her. I shouldn't have, I almost froze when the power went out.”

     “I thought being snowed in with my wife would have been fun.” Bill laughed as he continued his story, “It wasn't! We got on each others nerves, mostly because I was getting tired of shoveling snow and every muscle in my body was in pain. If that wasn't enough our neighbor stopped in to say hi and told me I need to shovel my roof or it would collapse.”

     “Shovel my roof? That guy must think I'm an idiot I thought but two days latter we got twenty more inches of snow and it landed in our living room when the roof caved in. If the airports had been open Martha would have left me right then but she hit me with the shovel instead and called me an idiot.”

     Bill would have probably talked all night about that first winter but when Martha got wind of what he was talking about she quickly side tracked him with a bunch of big kisses. I guess she didn't want him to tell about how she, well, we'll save that for another time.

     When Jesus was teaching us how to pray in Matthew 6:10 He taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come.” Over the years conflicting interpretations have been given to what Jesus may have meant in praying such for in someways the kingdom has come.

     Even before Jesus taught this prayer He had been saying “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17) Later he is quoted as saying “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Luke 17:20-21 (ESV) So in some respects, the kingdom of God (heaven) has already come.

     I believe however that regardless of what Jesus may have originally meant, many people believe this to be praying for Jesus' second coming, something the Bible has much to say about. I found this interesting tidbit in my Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations - There are 1,845 references to it in the Old Testament, and a total of seventeen Old Testament books give it prominence. Of the 260 chapters in the entire New Testament, there are 318 references to the Second Coming, or one out of 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy on the First Coming of Jesus, there are 8 on Jesus' Second Coming. - There's no doubt about it, the second coming is important.

     When we think about Jesus' second coming and heaven we often think of verses like Revelation 21:3-5 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (ESV) Heaven is something to be desired, Jesus second coming may not.

     When it comes to the second coming we are told....
  • That Jesus will return – John 14:3 if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (ESV)
  • No one knows when - Matthew 24:36 concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (ESV)
  • It will be a day of sorting - Matthew 25:32 and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (ESV)
  • It will be a day of judgment - Revelation 20:12b And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (ESV)
     That last verse may be one of the scariest. We want Jesus to come yet when He comes we will be judged. We want it but when it comes we're not going to like it because we failed to prepare which means we're not ready to pray “Thy kingdom come.”

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you look forward to Jesus' second coming?
  • Are you ready to stand before the throne to be judged?

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Hallowed be Your name. - Matthew 6:9b (NAS)

      Sooner or later it was bound to happen and the other day it finally did. A lot of people thought it hard to tell the Miller twins apart, easily getting them mixed up, but this may have been even worse, for while the Miller twins looked alike, Harold and Harold looked nothing alike, in fact they were about as opposite as two boys could be.

     As for Harold Peterson, even when he tries to be good, he causes problems. When one mentions the name Harold, visions of disruption follow, and everyone knows he's not the smartest cookie in the class, well, that is when he is in class and not in the principles office. It's this kind of a reputation that Harold Henderson can't stand.

     Since Harold Henderson is still new to the area, no-one thinks of him when they hear the name Harold and they often think that because his name is Harold he is just like Harold Peterson but that couldn't be further from the truth. Harold Henderson has never spent time in the principles' office, he never causes trouble, he gets straight A's in every class, he's always willing to help and it's that kind of reputation that Harold Peterson can't stand.

     Harold Peterson was getting tired of people telling him he should be more like the other Harold. He didn't want to be someone else, especially someone like Harold Henderson, and Harold Henderson was tired of people treating him as if he was the worst person in town simply because his name was the same as you know who.

     As you might imagine, Harold thinks Harold should change his name and Harold thinks Harold should change his name because they each thought the other was dishonoring his name. Finally, Harold had, had enough and so had Harold and the other day it happened, the grand showdown between Harold and Harold.

     The showdown took place right in the middle of the church parking lot right after a special prayer meeting and if it hadn't been for the intervention of Robert and Robert it may have lasted all night. It took Robert and Robert almost twenty minutes to get Harold and Harold separated and calmed down so they could find out what the problem was. Once they learned how the two boys thought the other was ruining their name, they burst into laughter, for they shared a name as well.

     Once he calmed down from laughing, Sargent Robert Halfway suggested the four of them go sit around a pizza and talk about the importance of one's name for he knew from his experience in law enforcement how important it is to respect every one's name. In the end the boys were full of pizza and they at least agreed on one thing – the name Harold was the best.

     Proverbs 22:1 - If you must choose, take a good name rather than great riches; for to be held in loving esteem is better than silver and gold. (TLB) In the Hebrew culture, a person’s name was more than a mere label - it was synonymous with his character or reputation. When a person’s name was mentioned, it brought to mind all that he was.

     When we think of God's name what kind of reputation do we attach to it? Do we think of someone who is loving, giving, forgiving, listening, deaf, judgmental, involved, uncaring and distant... God's name more than just a name. In the Hebrew culture, the name Jehovah was the special and significant name by which God revealed himself to the ancient Hebrews. This name was held by the later Jews to be so sacred that it was never pronounced except by the high priest on the great Day of Atonement, when he entered into the most holy place.

     In Matthew 6:9, when Jesus was teaching us how to pray He said these words ... Hallowed be Your name. (NAS) Like the ancient Jews we need to hallow God's name but how do you hallow something?

     To hallow something is to make it holy, to set apart, to make uncommon. To help illustrate this, lets think about your toothbrush. Your toothbrush is special and important to you because of the unique purpose to which it has been dedicated. You wouldn’t take kindly to anyone using your toothbrush for a different purpose. Imagine your reaction if your youngster comes in and announces that he has just brushed the dog’s teeth with your brush! In a similar manner, anything in the Bible that is holy has been dedicated for a special purpose and therefore is deserving of special treatment.

     The Bible lets us know that God's name is holy in many spots. In various scenes of God's throne room we find creatures worshiping God repeating Holy, Holy, Holy. In Leviticus 19:2 we read Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. (ESV) ans in Psalms 111:9 we read He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! (ESV)

     Despite all of this we have had to be warned no to misuse Go's name. From the ten commandments we read You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. Exodus 20:7 (ESV) An d while we may say we won't misuse God's name, while we may say we will treat it special we often do the opposite.

     With our words we abuse His name through profanity and vulgarity, by using His name in some frivolous, dishonoring, or light way. With our actions we treat God's name as non-special by:
  • Professing God's name but living for self and the world
  • Using God's name to manipulate people for our advantage.
  • Using God's name to get support for ungodly things
      I'm sure we could all come up with more ways we misuse and abuse God's name even though we say we will honor it. I know more could be said but I think the idea is clear – are you ready to pray “hallowed be Thy name?”

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • How do you like your name treated?
  • Are you treating God's name as Holy?

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven, - Matthew 6:9a (NAS)

      It was a cold snowy afternoon and Stella had got together with the Miller twins to do some browsing for clothes at the Teen Shop in the mall. After about an hour looking through rack after rack of the latest spring fashions they decided to head to the food court and get a bite to eat. After ordering some food they found an empty table and sat down to eat.

     As they snacked on their fries, they started talking about all the cute boys they saw walking around and how great it would be to go on a date with some of them but since their dads had so many restrictions on any attempt they made to date, their conversation soon turn to complaining about their dads.

     “My dad is so lame.” Stella complained, “And he looks like a Martian.” “Well, our dad is so lazy,” Mindy said next, “I wish he never existed.” “Yeah,” Cindy added, “He makes us do all the work and he never does anything.” “Well, my dad does do one thing,” Stella spoke next, “But I wish he didn't.” “What's that?” the twins asked in unison. “Ground me!” Stella answered.

     “I wonder what it would be like if we could pick our dads.” Cindy said after gulping down a big bite of ice cream. “What a great idea sis!” Mindy told Cindy in reply. “Yeah,” Stella added and then they chatted back and forth for the next half hour on what kind of dad they would choose and how their dream dad would be rich, good looking, famous, important, never make them do anything they didn't want to do and never ever ground them.

     The next thing the girls knew, a young lady pulled up a chair and sat down with them and asked “Are you sure you want a dad like that?” Looking at each other with puzzled faces, Stella finally piped up and asked “Who are you? And Who invited you to but in on our conversation.”

     “My name,” the young lady said, “Is Rosita Roselli and I couldn't help over hearing you talking about your dream dad. Well, dream dads aren't that great.” “What would you know?” Mindy sneered at her. “My dad,” Rosita replied, “Is everything you dream of, He's rich, good looking, famous, and important and he never makes me do things and never grounds me because he's never there.”

     “That's awesome.” Mindy said. “Can meet him?” Cindy added “Maybe we could trade” Stella tacked on and none of the girls noticed how sad Rosita was. “It's not so awesome.” Rosita said as she looked Mindy in the eye. “You always have to live perfectly, you always have to have a body guard, you can only go to schools full of snobs, you can't have real friends and if you even walk funny you get in trouble. I have to live as if my Dad is all that matters in the world and everything I say or do has to be perfect.” and than turning to Cindy she continued, “No, you can't meet him, I told you, he's never around and besides, you're not good enough.” then turning to Stella she finished by saying, “If you want, I'll gladly trade dads with you for I would much rather have a dad like yours.”

     Through out the Bible you will find God being addressed by various names an attributes. He is God Almighty, He is I Am, He is a consuming fire, He is compassionate, He is a great and Awesome God, He is the Lord of Lords and God of gods, He is a righteous judge, and the list goes on. In the opening words of what is called the Lord’s prayer, Jesus turns our thoughts to God as our Heavenly Father

     There are many reasons for wanting to address God as Father:
  • It acknowledges Him as our Creator for He created us in His image
  • It show we have a relationship with Him
  • Because He treats us like a father
    • Psalm 103:13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. (NAS)
    • Proverbs 3:12 For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. (NLT)
     There are more verses we could look at but lets go on to the heart of what it means to call God – Father.

     In John 8 Jesus was talking to some Jews, Jews who were claiming to be descendants of Abraham, Jews who were claiming that Abraham was the father but what they claimed didn't match with what Jesus saw. "If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham.” Jesus told them. On top of this, the Jews claimed the God was their father but Jesus told them their only father was the devil for it was the devil's desire they wished to fulfill, not Abraham's and not God's.

     In calling God – Father one must be willing to behave as one of God's children. Look at these verse on how a child of God is to behave for when we call God – Father we are saying this is how I will behave.
  • 1 Peter 1:17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. (NIV)
  • Matthew 5:48 You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (TEV)
  • 1 John 3:10 This is how God’s children—and the Devil’s children—are made evident. Love’s Imperative Whoever does not do what is right is not of God, especially the one who does not love his brother. (HCSB)
  • 1 Peter 1:14 Obey God because you are his children. Don't slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn't know any better then.(NLT)
     1 John 3:1 says See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children...(NLT) Yet, as you can see, calling God your Heavenly Father requires more than just calling Him Father. Calling yourself His child requires more than just calling yourself His child - It requires you to live as His child. Are you ready to pray “Our Father in Heaven?”

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you treat God as Father?
  • Do you live as you're God's child?