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, May 26, 2012


Do not depend on your own understanding. - Proverbs 3:5b (NLT)

     It was a beautiful afternoon and Barney was wandering around his back yard with his head bowed low. “I don’t understand.” he kept muttering to himself, “I just don’t understand.” “What don’t you understand?” came a familiar voice. It was Tracy’s. “Harold!” Barney answered.. “Does anybody ever understand Harold?” Tracy said back.

     “Just when you think you have some one figured out,” Barney told Tracy, “you find out you don’t.” “Tell me about it.” Stella said as she joined into the conversation, “Harold hasn’t been himself and Mom and Dad are getting worried about him” “It can’t be that bad can it?” Tracy asked.

     “Well,” Barney started to say, “You know how much Harold likes to play ball?” “Yeah,” Tracy nodded, “For the past week,” Barney continued, “Harold has refused to play ball with me, in fact he won’t even say hi to me any more.” “So, he doesn’t want to play ball.” said Tracy, “That’s not that bad.”

     “That might not be,” Stella injected, “But Harold’s hardly eaten in over a week.” “Mr. Garbage Disposal not eating?” Barney said in shock. “Yeah,” Stella continued, “All he does is sit around and stare at, at, at... Muffy’s dog house.” “Wow,” Tracy responded, “That’s not how things were suppose to happen.”

     “I was sure that if Muffy was gone,” Barney told the girls, “Everything would be back to normal and Harold would have more time to play ball.” “Muffy doesn’t chew on my toys anymore and Harold doesn’t pick on me.” Stella added, “ But Harold doesn’t, doesn’t, doesn’t do anything. He won’t even help me with my math and won’t even go to church.”

     “I guess I miss the way things were too,” Tracy added, “Since we lost Muffy in the woods, I’ve had more work to do on the farm.” “What do you mean?” Stella asked. “Harold, and Muffy used to help me chase all the cows back to the barn.’ Tracy told her, “Now I have to do it by myself and it takes twice as long.”

     “I hate to say this,” Stella said sadly, “But I think we need to find Muffy.” “Before things get worse,” added Barney. “Let’s go,” said Tracy and they all took off to find Muffy.

     How often do we think we have everything figured out but in the end we only make things worse, we rely on our own understanding and really mess things up? Proverbs 3:5 says Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. (NLT) How many problems could we avoid if we would only heed that advice.

     Getting back or taking matters into our own hands because we think we know better may seem sweet but seldom if ever is it as we shall see.

     In 2 Samuel 18 we have the story of a man who thought he knew better and took things into his own hands. It didn't make things better and in the end it cost him his life. The man's name was Joab and he served under King David.

     In the previous chapter, David's son Absalom had led a rebellion and took the throne from his father. As result David had to flee and as we pick up the story David is dividing up his troops. He put 1/3 of them under Joab, 1/3 under Abishai and 1/3 under Ittai. He then gave command to the leaders to treat Absalom gently.

     The battle did not go well for Absalom and before long he was the one that needed to flee. Shortly after meeting up with David's troops, Absalom's donkey went under a large oak tree and he got his head caught in the branches where he was later found by one of Joab's men.

     Remembering King David's charge, the man who found Absalom, refused to harm him and that angered Joab. Not wasting any time, Joab grabbed three spears, found Absalom and thrust the spears through his heart. Some of Joab's men than finished him off, threw the body in a pit in the forest and covered it with stones.

     Upon hearing of his son's death David did not celebrate even though the battle had been won. But mourned and lamented, wishing that he might have died in his place. Years later, after the reign of the kingdom had been turned over to Solomon, Joab was brought to justice for his rebellion against the king's command.

     To think we know better than God and to take matters into our own hands can be more trouble than it's worth. The kids in Pupperville tried to fix things by getting even with Muffy, Joab tried to fix things by getting even with Absalom, We try to fix things by getting even with....

     Here's some of what God's word has to say on the matter.
  • Proverbs 20:22 - Don’t say, “I’ll pay you back for the wrong you did.“ Wait for the LORD, and he will make things right. (NCV)
  • Romans 12:19 - Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it." (MSG)
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:15 - See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to everyone else. (NLT)

     There are of course many more verses that talk of taking things in to our own hands and trusting that we know best and the problems that can pursue but we'll never need to worry about that, right?

     Here's Something To Ponder
  • Have you ever thought you knew better than God?
  • Have you ever refused to take matters into your own hands because you knew God would take care of things?

Saturday, May 19, 2012


The godly are concerned for the welfare of their animals, Proverbs 12:10a (NLT)

     Time and time again, the kids in Pupperville were getting plowed over by one extra large dog named Muffy. Time and time again, the kids in Pupperville had wanted Harold to play with them but he was too busy chasing an extra large dog named Muffy, and now the time had come for somebody to do something about it.

     It was Barney that had secretly sent out notices of a meeting at his house to discuss plans on how to fix the problem of Muffy and soon the meeting would start. Stella, Harold’s sister, was the first to arrive and was she ever ready to do something about Muffy. “Does Harold suspect anything yet?” Barney asked her. “I don’t think so.” Stella answered.

     “What don’t you think?” asked Tracy as she arrived. “I don’t think Harold suspects anything,” Stella replied. “I don’t think he does either,” Tracy said with a big smile, “And I don’t think we should have to worry about him or Muffy the rest of the day.”

     “Perfect!” Barney said “Where is he?” “Well,” Tracy started to answer, “He went back on his promise to take me to a movie.” “That’s right!” Stella interrupted, “He chickened out because they wouldn’t let Muffy in the theatre.” “” Tracy continued, “And, because he broke his promise he’ll be cleaning my dad’s barn the rest of the day.”

     “Do you think we should wait for others to come or should we start the meeting?” Barney asked once he knew Harold wouldn’t be around. “Let’s get started!” Tracy and Stella answered back in unison. “Yeah,” Tracy continued, “We need to put a woof on all of Muffy’s mess ups.” “I think every one including Harold has trouble with Muffy.” Stella added “And we need to get rid of Muffy for our sakes and Harold’s.”

     “He’s been chewing and drooling on all my favorite toys.” Stella told the group. “He dug up all of the flowers I planted.” Tracy added. And not to be left out, Barney told them how Muffy always knocks him down and sits on him every time he goes to Harold’s to play and how Harold never has time to play with him because he has to go catch Muffy.

     “Let’s lose him in the forest.” Tracy said “Good idea,” Stella told her, “But first we need to do to him what he does to us.” “You mean bury him and jump on him?” Barney asked. “Yeah!” replied Stella, “And kick him a few times so he’ll never want to come back.” “Sounds great.” Tracy told them, “I’ve got the dog whistle, so let’s go do it before Harold gets done cleaning the barn.

     Proverbs 12:10 says The godly are concerned for the welfare of their animals, but even the kindness of the wicked is cruel (NLT) Maybe the kids should have read this verse before they decided to be mean to Muffy. How do you treat your animals?

      I don;'t know about you but I smell trouble brewing for Harold's dog Muffy. Of course, Muffy wouldn't be the first dog or animal to be treated mean. I'm sure many of us know we have or know of someone who has at one time or another been mean to an animal. As I think of this story I'm reminded of someone in the Bible who had an animal he was being mean to. Let's look at Numbers 22.

     As we start our story, the people of Israel were still wandering in the wilderness because they had refused to go into the promise land after they had been freed from slavery in Egypt. During this time God had been taking care of Israel and helping them win battles along the way. Knowledge of those victories were spreading and nations were becoming afraid.

     The Moabites were one of the nations whose fear of Israel was growing and their king Balak along with various other leaders decided to try and stop the Israelites buy means of a man named Balaam for they had learned that whoever Balaam blessed was blessed and whoever he cursed was cursed and they wanted him to curse Israel.

     Now the reason Balaam was able to bless and curse people and have the blessing or curses come true was because he was a prophet of God and God was making things happen. So when Ballam got the message he went and talked to God but God said NO and Balaam sent the people away. Needless to say, Balak didn't like the answer so he sent different people and made a great offer of wealth.

     While Balaam laid claimed that he couldn't curse the people for a house full of silver and gold unless God allowed him, That money must have got to him and it led to trouble. When he asked God about going this time God said yes but only say what I tell you but Balaam must have had other ideas for as he went on the way only to meet an angel with a sword drawn and ready to kill him.

     Before he saw the angel his donkey that he had been riding had and three times tried to protect Balaam's life and three times Balaam beat him for it. Finally God had, had enough and let two things happen, he allowed the donkey to talk to Balaam and than opened Balaam's eyes so he could see the angel and the sword. That got Balaam's attention. I wonder how much animals can see that we do not.

     If we go back to the beginning, to the first chapter of Genesis we read that God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female. God blessed them and said, “Have many children and grow in number. Fill the earth and be its master. Rule over the fish in the sea and over the birds in the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:27-28 (NCV)

     In those verse we learn that while God created the animals, he left man in charge of them, to rule over them but he didn't give us permission to be cruel to them or to worship them. We have people today that go both directions, they're both bad.

     Proverbs 12:10 which was quoted earlier is good reminder of how the godly should be concerned for animals. And how those who are ungodly (wicked) have no concern. The godly are concerned because they see the animals as part of God's creation and if one doesn't believe in God one has no real reason to care for with out God what self wants is really all that matters.

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you believe God is the creator of the animals?
  • How do you treat the animals you come in contact with?

Saturday, May 12, 2012


And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, - Colossians 3:17a (ESV)

      Some people eat nuts. Some people are nuts. Some people drive people nuts. Harold Peterson is one of those people who fits all three descriptions. He eats nuts, he is nuts and he drives everybody nuts but lately he is being driven nuts along with his good friend Barney by a kid in school who thinks Jesus' name is some kind of magic word.

     It was during phy-ed class that Harold first noticed it. On that particular day he was playing catcher in a game of kick ball. Every time the kid would come up to kick the ball he would shout “I kick you in the name of Jesus.” Half the time he would miss the ball and once, Harold told Barney, “He fell flat on his back.”

     “In math class last week,” Barney said next, “The teacher called him to the front of the class to work a math problem on the board. The problem was kind of hard but no to hard. Anyway after five minutes he circled his answer and said 'The answer is 35 in Jesus' name.' 35 wasn't even close to being the right answer.”

     “He's been really annoying at lunch everyday for the last two weeks.” Harold continued. “Worse than you?” Barney questioned. “Way worse.” Harold responded, “He had just about everyone, including the cooks, ready to throw him in the compost pile. He must have said 'I eat this in the name of Jesus.' a hundred times at every meal.”

     As the boys continued to talk about the kid at school, Louie walked up. “Is he the same kid that got caught passing notes in Jesus' name in history and shooting rubber bands in Jesus' name in English class?” Louie asked. Barney and Harold looked at each other and than at Louie and said in unison “In Jesus' name.” and then cracked up laughing.

     “That kid must think Jesus' name is some kind of magic word” Barney said through his laughter. “Why would anyone want to use Jesus' name like that?” “Well,” Louie stammered, “ Randy uses Jesus' name after his prayers.” “Yeah,” Barney responded, But he knows how to use it properly.”

     “Anyway,” Louie told them, “I just saw him in the back of Sgt. Halfway's police car.” “What?” Harold asked “Did some one get tired of him saying 'In Jesus' name.' after everything he did?” “Sort of.” Louie continued, “He was caught shoplifting. He tried to walk out of the supermarket with a big bag of candy and said he didn't need to pay for it because he was taking it in Jesus' name.”

     “I hope the judge throw the book at him for being such a nuisance.” Barney said happily. “And I hope he does it in Jesus' name.” Harold added and than all three burst into laughter.

     Proverbs 22:1a A good name is more desirable than great riches; (NIV) - To many people fail to realize the importance of a good name and when I talk about a good name I’m not talking about a name like Frank or George being a better than a name like Buster or Nim Com Poop. I’m talking about a name that has behind it a good reputation.

     There are people who have great reputations, people from whom you would love to be associated with, people for whom the mere mention of their name can make things happen, can get things done. Jesus has one of those names. Think of some of the things that were and are done in Jesus' name:
  • In Jesus' name Peter made a lame man walk – Acts 3:6
  • In Jesus' name demons became subject to the disciples – Luke 10:17
  • In Jesus' name we are to be baptized for salvation – Acts 2:38
  • In Jesus' name we are to give thanks – Ephesians 5:20
  • In Jesus' name we are to do all things – Colossians 3:17
     And of course, staying true to the theme of this series, when we pray we are to ask for things in Jesus' name - John 16:23 At that time you won't need to ask me for anything. The truth is, you can go directly to the Father and ask him, and he will grant your request because you use my name. (NLT)

     So, what does it mean to ask for something in another’s name? Is it simply some magic word to be used? I suppose it could mean that the name of the person doing the asking is insufficient to get the request fulfilled, or it could also mean that we are asking so that another receives the credit or glory, or maybe both.

     If a man who has money in a bank authorizes us to draw it, we are said to do it in his name. If a son authorizes us to apply to his father for aid because we are his friends, we do it in the name of the son, and the favor will be bestowed on us from the regard which the parent has to his son, and through him to all his friends.

     If we are to ask for things or do things in Jesus' name we need to make sure we can. The Bible gives us examples of demons being cast out in Jesus' name but it also give example of those who tried and failed. In Acts 19 we read of the failures of the sons of Sceva.

      Some Jews who travelled around and drove out evil spirits also tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus to do this. They said to the evil spirits, "I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches." Seven brothers, who were the sons of a Jewish High Priest named Sceva, were doing this. But the evil spirit said to them, "I know Jesus, and I know about Paul; but you—who are you?" The man who had the evil spirit in him attacked them with such violence that he overpowered them all. They ran away from his house, wounded and with their clothes torn off. - Acts 19:13-16 (TEV)

     They tried it in Jesus’ name and failed miserably. They failed miserably because the were not known, they weren't really followers of Jesus and it's likely they had no faith. Once in Matthew 17:14-20 the disciples tried to cast out a demon and failed and when they asked Jesus why He told them they failed because of their lack of faith.

     The name of Jesus is wonderful. Through the years some have tried to use it to accomplish their wrong doings and in so doing have given the world a bad view of the name of Jesus. Before we try to do something in Jesus’ name, let’s make sure we are doing it right, that we are doing what He would have us to do, Let’s make sure we are ready - even in prayer, to do it in Jesus' name.

     Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you show respect to Jesus' name?
  • Do you pray in Jesus' name and mean it?

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Colossians 4:2a - Be persistent in prayer, (TEV)

      It was two weeks before Mother's Day and Cindy Miller was desperate to earn some money so she could get a certain gift for her Mom. As she scanned through the help wanted section in the local newspaper she found an ad for a baby sitter and the house was only two blocks away. “How hard could baby sitting be?” She thought to herself and picked up the phone and called the listed number. Now, she wishes she hadn't and so does Tracy McDonald.

     For the last two hours Tracy has been on the phone with Cindy listening to Cindy whine and complain about her babysitting job. “I never in my life thought a three year old girl could be such a pain.” Cindy told Tracy. “Three year old girls are suppose to sit quietly and play with baby dolls.” “Did you play with baby dolls when you were three?” Tracy asked but Cindy never quit talking long enough to hear her.

     “I thought I was going to be able to just sit and watch television and talk on the phone while the pest played dolls but no way. Before I could even get comfortable on the couch I had a ton of books dropped on my lap. I told her I didn't want to read and was that ever a mistake. Every time I answered her she just kept asking Why? Why? Why? and she wouldn't quit.

     “Did you...” Tracy started to ask but Cindy cut her off. “I tried to read to her but she kept interrupting me with questions. She asked more questions than the test we had in history last week. And every time I tried to answer one she started asking Why? Why? Why? I would have loved to have found a dirty old sock and shoved it in her mouth but than I probably wouldn't have gotten payed. As it was I don't think I got payed enough.”

     “How much did...” Tracy tried to ask but Cindy kept right on complaining. “I wonder if I could find a dirty old sock/” Tracy thought to herself “I sure hope my mom appreciates what I had to put up with .” Cindy kept on jabbering. “Kids are nothing but a nuisance. It took me nearly three hours to get the brat to be quiet.”

      Finally, Tracy had enough and decided the only way she was going to get Cindy to quit was to start asking why?. After asking why to everything Cindy said. Three minutes later Cindy fell very quiet and then Tracy heard a click and buzzzzzzzz.. “I should have thought of that sooner.” Tracy thought to herself and headed to the barn to do some chores. As for Cindy she called Stella and started complaining all over again until Stella started asking why.

     Little children can be very persistent when it comes to asking why or anything else. As children of God, how persistent are we when it comes to asking?

     We honestly and earnestly pray to God to give us blessings, and he withholds them. The sickness is not removed, the life not spared, the burden not lightened, the child not reclaimed, the friend not reconciled, the cause not blessed, the wrong not stayed, the faithful not delivered; and the hearts of the people of God are filled with sorrow and dismay; and the question that rises to their lips is, “How long, O Lord, how long will you not respond?” And we give up asking, we give up praying just like that.

     We have many exampled of people praying in the Bible, people who didn't just say a simple short prayer and then go on, They kept praying, and they kept coming back to pray. I can think of Hannah praying for a child, Daniel under threat of a lion's den continuing 3 times a day, the apostles and the early church that dedicated themselves to prayer and let's not forget Jesus who at times would pray all night.

     Jesus used two different parables to teach us to be persistent in our praying and to not give up. The first parable is in Luke 11:5-8 He also said to them: “Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I don’t have anything to offer him.’ Then he will answer from inside and say, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he won’t get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. (HCSB)

     The second parable is in Luke 18:1-7 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must keep praying until the answer comes. "There was a city judge," he said, "a very godless man who had great contempt for everyone. A widow of that city came to him frequently to appeal for justice against a man who had harmed her. The judge ignored her for a while, but eventually she got on his nerves. " `I fear neither God nor man,' he said to himself, `but this woman bothers me. I'm going to see that she gets justice, for she is wearing me out with her constant coming!' " Then the Lord said, "If even an evil judge can be worn down like that, don't you think that God will surely give justice to his people who plead with him day and night? (TLB)

     If these parables are not enough, try these verses.
  • 1 Chronicles 16:11 - Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! (ESV) J. Vernon McGee's in his Thru The Bible commentary asks some questions in regards to this verse. He asks; Do you seek His face continually? What is the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning? When you go to bed at night, what is the last thing you think about? Do you think about God all during the day? Or do you just leave God behind when you go to work or go to school or go to a social gathering?
  • Ephesians 6:18 - Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God’s people. (NCV)
  • Colossians 4:2 - Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God. (TEV)
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray all the time; (MSG)
     Phillips Brooks said that prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance; it is laying hold of His highest willingness. Persistence in prayer is not an attempt to change God's mind but to get ourselves to the place where He can trust us with the answer.

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • What are your needs, wants or desires?
  • Are you consistently bringing them to God in prayer?