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, April 28, 2012


"… I would not hear," says the LORD of hosts,- Zechariah 7:13b (ESV)

      One of Robert Grey's best kept secrets is his hearing aides. Those little devices that people hide in their ears so they can hear what people are saying to them. Robert has had one in both of his ears for years but he has hid them so well that no one has ever noticed and up until last weekend they had never been a problem.

     Last weekend, Robert decided to take a bunch of the boys from church on a fishing trip, a trip that turned into a nightmare for the boys. In deciding where to go, Robert decided the best place to take them was deep into the back waters on his favorite fishing lake. He was sure that all the boys would have a good chance to catch some big ones.

     Getting to the fishing spot with the boys was no problem in his fancy fishing boat and soon everyone was having a great time, or at least the boys were. Robert was not enjoying himself like he thought he would and it was probably due to the fact that the boys kept bonking him in the head with their fishing poles.

     Once, Louie hit him in his right ear and knocked his hearing aide out and it fell in the water. “At least I still have one in my other ear.” Robert thought to himself but the next thing he knew, it was in the water too. This time it was Barney's fishing pole that hit him. Not wanting to tell the boys about losing his hearing aids falling in the water, Robert just sat silent and hoped nobody was asking him anything.

     Late in the afternoon the weather started to change and before long it a light mist filled the air. Soon the boys were complaining about getting wet and wanting to go home. Of course Robert couldn't hear a word they were saying and kept giving them weird answers in hopes that one of them might make sense. When it started to poor, Robert finally decided to head for shore. He had the boys put their fishing poles away and pull up the anchor and away they went.

     As they broke into the open a very strong wind gust hit them and blew Roberts glasses off and into the water. Not only could Robert not hear the boys yelling at him, now he couldn't see where he was going. Before he knew it, he was heading in the wrong direction. To make matters worse, He was heading right towards the dam.

     As the boys began too panic a miracle happened, or at least they thought it was. The boat ran out of gas and with a little bit of help from the wind they somehow managed to drift right to the landing. When they hit shore, Robert quickly jumped out of the boat and headed to where he thought he parked his truck. Luckily all the other trucks had left and he somehow found his. Once inside the truck he found his back up hearing aides and another pair of glasses.

     To keep the boys from knowing he hadn't been able to hear them he asked them if they wanted to go for another wild ride. Those boys replied by getting the boat out of the water and onto the trailer in record time. “I guess that means no!” Robert said and jumped in the truck and took off. The boys hollered at him to wait for them but Robert never heard them – he forgot to turn his hearing aides on. As the boys watched Robert pull away, Harold said “It will probably be safer for us to walk home anyway.” to which the rest of the boys said “Amen!”

     How often do we compare God to Robert Grey? You may say never but think again. Robert couldn't hear and if we admit it or not we may often think God doesn't hear either. That was the cry of Habakkuk’s prayer at the beginning of his book. - How long, O LORD, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, "Violence!" Yet You do not save. Habakkuk 1:2(NAS)

     From Habakkuk’s standpoint things looked pretty bleak. God had abandoned Israel. All of Israel was in turmoil while the enemy was ruling over them and the enemy was getting by with their wickedness. Habakkuk couldn’t take it any longer and cries out “Why aren’t you listening God, Why aren’t you hearing our prayers.”

     For us, it may sound more like this - Nothing is going our way, work is a bother, money is scarce, friends and family are getting on our nerves, our dreams are becoming nightmares as sleepless nights are chasing us down. Not even God seems to care. We pray, but get no answer and in frustration holler toward the heavens with a clinched fist “Why aren’t you listening God, Why aren’t you hearing my prayers.”

     Like Robert, there are times that God does not hear, not because of a missing hearing aide but because of us. Think about these verses...
  • Proverbs 21:13 - If you refuse to listen to the cry of the poor, your own cry for help will not be heard. (TEV)
  • James 4:3 - You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure. (HCSB)
  • Proverbs 28:9 - If you refuse to obey what you have been taught, your prayers will not be heard. (NCV)
  • Isaiah 59:1-2 - Look! Listen! GOD's arm is not amputated—he can still save. GOD's ears are not stopped up—he can still hear. There's nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you. Your wrongheaded lives caused the split between you and God. Your sins got between you so that he doesn't hear. (MSG)
  • Zechariah 7:13 - "As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear," says the LORD of hosts, (ESV)
  • Matthew 6:5,7 - “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites. They love to stand in the synagogues and on the street corners and pray so people will see them. I tell you the truth, they already have their full reward....“And when you pray, don’t be like those people who don’t know God. They continue saying things that mean nothing, thinking that God will hear them because of their many words. (NCV)
  • James 4:2b - You do not have, because you do not ask. (ESV)
     If we want to pray to be heard by God we need to examine ourselves for God needs no hearing aide.

      Here's something to Ponder
  • Do you want to be heard when you pray?
  • Are you keeping yourself from being heard?

Saturday, April 21, 2012


For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:13b (NKJV)

      Some people think they always need to be the center of attention and some of those people go to great lengths to make sure they are getting everyone's attention. One girl I know of even hung upside down from a ferris wheel in a dress that flopped down over her head showing the world her yellow, and purple polka dot panties.

      It all started when a bunch of girls got together at the county fair to go on all of the amusement park rides and Stella Peterson started daring and double daring the other girls to do some stupid and dangerous things on some of the rides.

     First came the dare to ride in the roller coaster backwards. While it was not easy to get turned around once she was buckled into her seat, Mindy took the dare. She wished she hadn't for heading down the second hill she lost her orientation, got dizzy and threw up and of course it all landed in her face. Stella thought it was funny and till she saw that the worker who was helping her was cute.

     When they got to the go-carts, Cindy dared Stella to drive the hardest obstacle course at full speed. Trying to get out of the dare, Stella double dared Cindy to stand on the back of the cart while she did it. To her dismay, Cindy jumped on the back and triple dared her to make her fall off. Stella tried her best to make Cindy fall off and as she did a large crowd gathered. When her time ran out, the crowd started applauding and circled around Cindy giving her high fives.

     “Hey, what about me?” Stella called out, “I did all the driving.” but no one was paying attention to her. Not liking that Cindy was getting the attention and she was being ignored, Stella decided she could do even better than standing up on the back of a go-cart, she was going go on the ferris wheel and have the operator make it go really fast and than she would stand up and clap her hands above her head while spinning around yelling “Look at me! Look at me!”

     Well, it didn't take long and Stella became the center of attention. On her fourth time around the ferris wheel came to an abrupt stop and she went flying over the side. Luckily her foot had gotten wrapped up in the safety strap and it kept her from falling to the ground but it did leave her hanging upside down.

     As she hung from the top of the ferris wheel, she watched the crowds gather below her, she saw them pointing at her and heard them laughing. “This isn't funny!” she thought to herself and than she realized her dress and flopped down and she was showing everybody in the park her polka dot panties and there was nothing she could do to hide them.

     By the time the ladder truck made it the fair grounds to rescue her, everyone with in a mile had gathered to laugh at her. She wanted to be the center of attention and she was. She even got her picture in the national paper, at least her panties did.

     Depending on the translation of the Bible you read, the second half of Matthew 6:13 which says For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (NKJV) may or may not be present. There are many who believe these words, called a doxology, were not spoken by Christ and were not a part of the original Lord's Prayer because they do not appear in the oldest manuscripts. It is believed that these words were added because of a Jewish custom of ending all daily prayers with a brief doxology.

     While Jesus may not have used this doxology, there is nothing to say we can not, for the “Lord’s Prayer” is only an example. Furthermore, it seems to give a better ending than the words “evil one” to the prayer, or any prayer. For many of us though, we might as well leave this doxology out for just like Stella in the above story, we want to be the center of attention we want to say “It's all mine.”

     Like Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:30, we want to say “My kingdom,” for it is there we read that The king spoke, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" (NKJV) We often say MY Kingdom instead of Your Kingdom because we want our time, our money, our plans, our way period

     Let's not forget our power. Muhammed Ali said of himself before his 1971 fight with Joe Frazier: "There seems to be some confusion. We're gonna clear this confusion up on March 8. We're gonna decide once and for all who is king! There's not a man alive who can whip me. I'm too smart, I'm too pretty, I am the greatest. I am the king! I should be a postage stamp, that's the only way I could get licked!" - he was beaten - (Life magazine - Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations) To many of us think we have the power to do anything and we want the praise for what is done.

     As for the glory that should go to God we are often like Hezekiah who had been given extra years t live by God but instead of showing off God he showed off his riches. As to say Look at what I have. In Matthew 5 Jesus said we are to let our light shine – not so that we would receive glory but so that God would receive it.

     We need to be able to let God be king – king over our bodies. our behavior. our plans. in our families, etc. after all, He is creator and all belongs to Him.

     Instead of trying to do everything on our own by our own might or power, we need to back off and let God work through us.

     And let's avoid the lime light. We don't need to be the center of attention – all the attention should be focused on God.
     Oh, come, let us sing to the Lord! Give a joyous shout in honor of the Rock of our salvation! Come before him with thankful hearts. Let us sing him psalms of praise. For the Lord is a great God, the great King of all gods. He controls the formation of the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains; all are his. He made the sea and formed the land; they too are his. Come, kneel before the Lord our Maker, for he is our God. We are his sheep, and he is our Shepherd. Oh, that you would hear him calling you today and come to him! Psalm 95:1-7 (TLB)

     Are we ready to pray - Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you consider your self more important than God?
  • Do you steal glory from God?

Saturday, April 14, 2012


And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. - Matthew 6:13a (NAS)

      A couple of weeks ago there was a commotion at the supermarket that sent people running from the building screaming at the top of their lungs and the aisles looking like a tornado had struck the building. What or who could have caused such a commotion? I'll give you one guess and if you know my puppets you'll probably guess Harold Peterson.

     No one quite knows why but on that fateful day Harold happened to be at the supermarket looking for something, but it wasn't food. Now everybody that knows Harold, knows he loves food and would do just about anything for it, well anything but work, and he is often found gobbling up all the samples he can get his hands on but on that day he was passing them by.

     One of the first things that happened that day that let people know Harold was around was the toppling of the cereal display that sent boxes flying everywhere. Next he knocked over the pyramid of Spaghetti sauce cans which in turn knocked over a pyramid of soup cans. By the time he quit crawling around on the floor he had toppled over fifteen different types of displays.

     If that wasn't bad enough, he headed to the produce aisle next and started digging through the bins tossing apples, oranges, potatoes, and everything else he could get his hands on every which direction. Almost a dozen people slipped on the bananas he threw on the floor but no one was laughing. Finally the head manager was able to pin him down.

     “Let go of me!” Harold shouted, “I need to find Trouble!” “I think you've found plenty of that already.” The manager said as he started dragging Harold to the office at the back of the store. “But I have to find Trouble.” Harold protested. “Or my friend is going to kill me.” “He'll have to wait in line.” the manager said as a huge crowd gathered, “There's plenty here who want their turn.”

     Just as they were about to go through the door, Harold hollered “There he is!” There's who?” the manager asked. “Trouble, my friend's pet rattle snake.” Harold said pointing to the five foot long reptile. The next thing the manger knew, all pandemonium broke loose. The crowd panicked and started stampeding towards the front door knocking all the shelves over like dominoes.

     In all of the commotion, Harold wiggled free and quickly grabbed Trouble and escaped through the back door while the head manager sat down in the middle of the biggest mess he'd ever seen and cried.

     How many of us actively look for trouble? Unfortunately, we never have to go far to find it. Furthermore, no-one is immune to it not even the Christian. When Jesus was teaching us how to pray in Matthew 6:13 He addressed the issue of temptation when he taught us to pray “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

     The Bible makes it clear that temptation is a part of human existence so to better understand temptation we need to know more about the original word used in the Bible. The word used in the Bible can denote an enticement that has the goal of causing one to sin, or it can refer to a test or trial of the validity of one's faith. I believe it is the first of the two meanings implied in Jesus' teaching.

     Temptation to sin has a couple different sources the first being Satan or the Devil. Paul was afraid of this when he wrote to the Thessalonians - Because of this, when I could wait no longer, I sent Timothy to you so I could learn about your faith. I was afraid the devil had tempted you, and then our hard work would have been wasted. 1 Thessalonians 3:5 (NCV)

      The other source of temptation is self. James addresses this issue in James 1:14 But people are tempted when their own evil desire leads them away and traps them. (NCV) The reason why some Christians have a real problem with temptation is because THEY WANT TO! Sort of like the boy in this illustration I found.

      "Son," ordered a father, "don't swim in that canal." "O.K., Dad," he answered. But he came home carrying a wet bathing suit that evening. "Where have you been?" demanded the father. "Swimming in the canal," answered the boy. "Why did you?" the father asked. "Well, Dad," the boy explained, "I had my bathing suit with me and I couldn't resist the temptation." "Why did, you take your bathing suit with you?" his father asked. "So I'd be prepared to swim, in case I was tempted," he replied. - (Pulpit Helps, November, 1991, p. 20)

     Before we can be ready to pray “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we need to be willing to keep away from temptation, and to avoid evil. We can pray “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” all we want and it won’t do us a bit of good if we keep playing with it. If we try to compromise ourselves thinking we can get away with it, we will lose.

     A hunter raised his rifle and took careful aim at a large bear. When about to pull the trigger, the bear spoke in a soft soothing voice, "Isn't it better to talk than to shoot? What do you want? Let's negotiate the matter." Lowering his rifle, the hunter replied, "I want a fur coat." "Good," said the bear, "that is a negotiable question. I only want a full stomach, so let us negotiate a compromise." They sat down to negotiate and after a time the bear walked away alone. The negotiations had been successful. The bear had a full stomach, and the hunter had his fur coat! - (Bible Illustrations)

     When it comes to temptation we should remember God's promise to us found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 - No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it. (MSG)

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • How often do you tempt yourself?
  • Do you rely on God to keep you from trouble?

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. - Matthew 6:12 (ESV)

      A silent room is suddenly filled with a Bump! Crash! Bang! Followed by a young lady's scared voice calling out “Who's There?” After what seems like eons of time a faint sound of a meow echoes back. “”Is that you, Misty?” the young lady's voice asks to which comes a loud meow and a cat brushing up against her leg.

     “Oh, Misty, you need to stop scaring me like that. You know I can't see.” the young lady said as she bent over and picked up her cat. Soon the cat was snuggling up to her neck and purring loudly. “Oh, alright,” the young lady said as she petted the cat, “I forgive you.. Now lets see if we can figure out what kind of mess you made.”

     Grabbing her walking cane the young lady started making her way around the room swinging her cane back in forth trying to find what ever her cat had knocked over. As she did so the door bell rang and since her parents at work and she was expecting her Sunday school teacher to come over she decided she had better answer the door.

     As she headed to the door she suddenly found what her cat had knocked over and the room was filled with another bump, crash, bang as she tripped and fell to the floor. Hearing the commotion, Daisy Smith – who happened to be her Sunday School teacher – burst through the door to see if her student was okay and if she needed medical attention.

     “I'll be alright.” the young lady told Daisy, “But I could use a hand getting up.” What happened? Daisy asked. “Oh, that cat made a mess on the floor and as I was coming to answer the door I found the mess the cat made.” Looking around at the mess Daisy said she would help clean it up and soon the room was back in order.

     “Thank you, Daisy” the young lady said, “By the way,” she continued, “I never full introduced myself the other day. I'm April Zaspella” “I already know that.” Daisy giggled, “Even though we never got to talk the other day, you did have a name sticker on and you wrote your name on the poem you left behind in the classroom.”

     “Is that why you're here?” April asked “Yes.” Daisy told her, “I've read it through and I must say, the poem is well written but the content seemed disturbing.” “I love poetry.” April told Daisy “But ever since the accident that left me blind, I've been struggling with forgiveness and I guess it just showed up in my poem.”

     “That's why I came to talk to you today.” Daisy said as she put her arm around her. “I've already had to help Louie with the same problem after his parents were killed on the mission field and I think I may be able to help you.” “I hope so.” April responded, “It's awful not knowing if I can forgive or if God can forgive me.” “Let's start by praying.” Daisy said and than they prayed and talked the afternoon away.

     How many of us have ever needed forgiveness? How many of us have ever struggled with forgiving someone else? Unless we are perfect 100%, and the Bible reminds us that we are not, we are going to need forgiveness, from those around us and from God but there's more. As part of the model prayer Jesus included these words “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” - Matthew 6:12 (ESV)

     Seeking forgiveness is something we are prompted to do in both the Old and New testament.
  • Isaiah 55:7 - Let the wicked one abandon his way, and the sinful one his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, so He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will freely forgive. (HCSB)
  • 1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (HCSB)
     While forgiveness is something we all need and God is willing to give, we also need to forgive. In teaching us the model prayer, Jesus has us praying to be forgiven in the same way we forgive others. St. Augustine called this request "the terrible petition" because he realized that if we pray "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" with an unforgiving heart, we are actually asking God not to forgive us." When you get to this part in the Model prayer you are in effect saying, "Lord if there is someone whom I haven’t forgiven then don’t forgive me." Charles Spurgeon stated, "Unless you have forgiven others, you read your own death-warrant when you repeat the Lord's Prayer."

     Jesus summed up this idea of forgiving to be forgiven in the following story from Matthew 18:21-35 - Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." (ESV)

     While Jesus was hanging on the cross, after being unjustly tried convicted and flogged He said "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34a (ESV) How many of us could do such a thing? How many of us can follow Jesus example as well as His teaching. How many of us are truly ready to pray “Forgive me as I forgive.”?

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Are there those whom you need to forgive so God can forgive you?
  • Of what do you need to be forgiven?