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, August 25, 2012


Let us examine and probe our ways, Lamentations 3:40a (NASB)

      “Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety, one hundred. That should be enough.” Harold thought out loud, “With this many petition sheets, there is no way Dad and Mom can say no to me getting a pet rat. Now to go and get some signatures.” and with those words, Harold headed to the mall, the busiest place he could think of.

     When Harold got to the mall he found that it was indeed very busy. “I'll have these pages full in no time.” he thought but getting signatures turned out to be harder than he thought. First, nobody wanted to stop to talk to him. Second, when they did they were either against rats or for parents. After two hours he was only able to get three signatures.

     After a couple more hours and only one more signature, Harold headed to the food court to give his feet a rest. As he sat at one of the tables chowing down a chili dog and some fires, Tracy sneaked up behind him and poke him in the ribs. “I thought you hated malls, Harold, what are you doing here?” she asked.

     After Harold explained everything to Tracy, he was sure she would sign his petition because she loved animals and he knew she had several pets and when Tracy asked to see one of the petition papers he got all excited but instead of signing it, Tracy ripped it into little tiny pieces. With a look of horror on his face, Harold gasped, choking on the bite of burger he had in his mouth. As he coughed and sputtered he said one word, “Why.”

     “I live on a farm, Harold.” Tracy snorted, “And anyone who lives on a farm around here knows a rat is nothing but a nightmare. Why would I sing a petition for more rats? I just signed one to get rid of rats two days ago.” “Why is everybody against me.” Harold complained when he heard that. “Maybe it's because you're not much different than a rat your self.” Tracy told him, “If you really want to be around a rat just go stand next to a mirror.”

     Not wanting to hear anymore about Tracy's dislike for rats, Harold took off for the rest room. When he was sure she was gone he started to head back out to the mall floor but as he did, he caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror. “I don't see a rat in the mirror.” Harold said out loud. From behind one of the stall doors, someone yelled out, “You're the rat she was talking about.”

     As Harold stood in front of the mirror, he started making faces at it. Finally, he said, “I don't look like a rat, I just look like me, perfect me. Too bad there isn't more of me” As Harold headed out of the rest room he decided to give up on his petition and headed home. As he walked home, he thought about himself in the mirror and started to wonder where he could find another self.

     I have a mirror in my bathroom over the vanity. I sort of use it once in awhile when I'm shaving in the early hours of the morning – when my eyes are only half open. It sort of helps me to see what I'm doing. Once in awhile I'll actually look in the mirror to see what I look like and once in awhile I'll make funny faces at myself.

     Unless a mirror has been rigged, it does a good job of letting you see you as you are and that can be a good thing for sometimes we need to see ourselves for who, or what we are.

     Several time in the Bible we are reminded, encouraged, commanded to examine ourselves, to take a look at who we are, to see what kind of “dirt” we might be covered with.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:5a Look closely at yourselves. Test yourselves to see if you are living in the faith. (NCV)
  • Lamentations 3:40a Let us examine and probe our ways, (NASB)
     When we examine ourselves, we need to look at more than just our outward appearance for outward appearances can be deceiving.
  • Matthew 23:27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. (ESV)
  • 1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." (ESV)
     When we look at ourselves we have a mirror with which to look in, a mirror that does not lie, it's God's word. Hebrews 4:12 tells us For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (ESV) To this we can add 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right. (NCV)

     God's word can have a big impact on ones life when it is read. Look at King Josiah.

      In Josiah’s eighteenth year as king, he made Judah and the Temple pure again. He sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the city leader, and Joah son of Joahaz the recorder to repair the Temple of the LORD, the God of Josiah....The Levites brought out the money that was in the Temple of the LORD. As they were doing this, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the LORD’S Teachings that had been given through Moses. Hilkiah said to Shaphan the royal secretary, “I’ve found the Book of the Teachings in the Temple of the LORD!“ Then he gave it to Shaphan. Shaphan took the book to the king and reported to Josiah, “Your officers are doing everything you told them to do. They have paid out the money that was in the Temple of the LORD and have given it to the supervisors and the workers.“ Then Shaphan the royal secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.“ And Shaphan read from the book to the king. When the king heard the words of the Teachings, he tore his clothes to show how upset he was.
2 Chronicles 34:8,14-19 (NCV)

     Once we have looked at our selves we need to be careful not to forget what we saw, be careful not to make necessary changes. - Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead, put it into practice. If you listen to the word, but do not put it into practice you are like people who look in a mirror and see themselves as they are. They take a good look at themselves and then go away and at once forget what they look like. James 1:22-24 (TEV)

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Have you examined yourself in the mirror of God's word lately?
  • What do you look like compared to God's word?

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.- Ephesians 6:1 (ESV)

     “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!, and for the thousandth time NO!” Martha told Harold. “You may not have a skunk for a pet!” “Well, maybe dad will say yes.” Harold said and stomped off to find him but all hid dad would say was “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!, and a thousand times NO! You may not have a skunk for a pet.”

     “What if I want something else for a pet?” Harold decided to ask, thinking about the large rat he saw the night before. “Would you say yes to something else?” “That depends on what that something else might be.” Bill said not wanting to say yes until he knew what Harold was up to. “Do you have something in mind?”

     “Well,” Harold said, “On my way home last night I got an idea for a smaller pet and I know I've seen them at the pet store.” “I've seen all the pets at the pet store.” Bill replied, “And I wouldn't want to be caught living with half of what he sells for pets. What is it that you think you want?” “Just a rat.” Harold calmly replied.

     “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!, and a thousand times NO!” Bill stated firmly, “There is no way in the world I will ever let a rat in my house.” “Well, it's my house too!” Harold shouted and stomped of to find his mom. “I'm sure mom will say yes.” but his mom didn't say yes. “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!, and a thousand times NO!” was all she would say too.

     Not wanting to give up, Harold decided that if his parents wouldn't say yes, he would try someone who would and that someone was Grandpa. “Do you think I can have a pet?” Harold asked once he found him. “Of course you can.” came his grandpa's reply. “Then can you tell my mom and dad so they will let me. They keep telling me no.”

     “No problem, Harold,” Robert told Harold, “Let's go right now. By the way what kind of pet do you want?” “Um,” Harold stuttered, “Just a rat.” “A rat!” Robert shouted out, “You want a rat?” “Yeah,” Harold sheepishly replied. “ “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!, and a thousand times NO!” Robert sated, “I will not tell them you can have a rat and don't ask Grandma for she hates rats more than I do.”

     “It's not fair!” Harold scowled and took off for his secret hide out. “I bet other kids' parents don't tell them no.” he mumbled “I'll start a petition and get everyone to sign it and then my parents will have to say yes. I'll show them who's boss.”
You may be the parent saying No! and if you are you were more than likely a child and chances are pretty good that if you were a child or you are now, you had your parents say NO! To you. Eben God as our heavenly Father will say No!.

     So, what do you do when a parent tells you No!. Do, you like Harold try to divide, you know, if one parents says no maybe the other will say yes? Or try to get your parents' parents involved. As children, we need to be able to honor our parents as well as obey them. Here's a wonderful example from Luke

      Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. When he was twelve years old, they went to the feast as they always did. After the feast days were over, they started home. The boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that Jesus was with them in the group, they traveled for a whole day. Then they began to look for him among their family and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him there. After three days they found Jesus sitting in the Temple with the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and answers. When Jesus’ parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why did you do this to us? Your father and I were very worried about you and have been looking for you.“ Jesus said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?“ But they did not understand the meaning of what he said. Jesus went with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them. But his mother kept in her mind all that had happened. Jesus became wiser and grew physically. People liked him, and he pleased God.
Luke 2:41-52 (NCV)

     Did you read what Jesus did? He went with his parents and obeyed them even though He wanted to be doing something else.

     It was at Mount Sinai where God first made it know that parents were to be honored / obeyed and when he gave the fifth commandment He said - “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (ESV)

     Not only did God lay down the law to honor and obey He placed the death penalty on extreme disobedience. "If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, 'This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (ESV)

     Throughout scripture children are encouraged to be obedient. Here are just a couple examples.
  • Proverbs 1:8 - Hear, my son, your father's instruction And do not forsake your mother's teaching; (NAS)
  • Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land." (ESV) – God even attached a promise to those who would honor / obey.
     Here's Something To Ponder
  • How have you reacted when you were told no by a parent?
  • Do you react the same way with God?

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." Genesis 4:7b (NAS)

      Georgino's Hunting and Fishing Store wasn't very big but it was popular. Many times, Harold had gone in to the store to buy fishing bait so he could go fishing with Barney but this time he wasn't after fishing bait. As Harold slipped through the door a little bell rang and he heard a voice call out from the back of the store “I'll be with you in a minute.”

      After what seemed like ages, Georgino, the man that had called out, sneaked up behind Harold and dropped a fishing net over his head. “I caught you, Harold.” he said “Now what kind of bait can I sell you this time.” “I'm not here for bait this time, Georgino” Harold said as he threw the net off his head, “But You may be able to help me.”

     “Helping customers is what I do best.” Georgino said as he put the net aside, “How may I help you today?” “I need to catch an animal.” Harold told him. “Well, than” Georgino replied, “You’ve come to the right place. I can help you catch just about any kind of animal you can think of. So, what kind of animal do you want to catch?

     “A black cat.” Harold told Georgino, “The kind that has a white stripe running down its back.” “Ooooh,” Georgino responded, “One of those kind of critters. Well, Harold, I think I can help you but you need to know that skunks are not cats.” “I know.” Harold laughed, “But I still want to catch the one that's been getting into our garbage.”

     “Well, them, come this way.”Georgino said as he led Harold to aisle 3. In aisle 3 Harold saw lots of funny looking contraptions and as he stood there wondering what they were, Georgino started telling Harold what he thought would be the best trap to use. “Since you live in town,” Georgino told Harold, “You're not going to want a leg-hold trap as you would have to shoot it afterwards and you might get sprayed.” When he heard that, Harold let out a gasp.

     “I don't want to shoot it!” Harold declared. “I wouldn't think so.” Georgino said as he picked up what looked like.. “Uhm.” Harold puzzled, “What is that?” “It's a conibear.” Georgino said, “It's the perfect trap for that skunk you want to get.” and then Georgino proceeded to show Harold how it would put a death grip on his skunk and Harold proceeded to faint.

     When Harold finally came to he thanked Georgino for his time and said he wanted his pet alive and than he took off as fast as he could. As he wandered the back alleys home, Harold thought about his desire for a skunk and wondered if he should choose something else. About a block from his house, he caught some movement out of the corner of his eye and in a flash a black cat came barrelling towards him chasing a rather large rat. “Rats.” Harold said and then he started to grin, “I know I saw them at the pet store.”

     How many of you have ever wanted to catch a skunk – alive – for a pet? I'm not sure I know of anyone out side of Harold who would want to catch a skunk alive. I think most people who would want to catch a skunk would want to catch it like Georgino – to kill it. To do that a trap can work wonders, especially the conibear – it would grab on and not let go killing its victim. Sin is no different. Like a trap it grabs on to it's victim and doesn't let go, killing it's victim, usually much slower than the conibear, more like the leg-hold trap.

     In Genesis we read about some men that came to Lot and told them to flee but the sins of the city apparently had to much of a hold on them. Told to run for their lives they wouldn't leave. Told not to look back one couldn't resist.

     Then the men said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it." So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, "Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city." But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city." But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, "Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away." And Lot said to them, "Oh, no, my lords. Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!" He said to him, "Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Genesis 19:12-26 (ESV)

     Such was the grip that Lot and his family had to be drug away, such was the grip that Lot's wife turned back and turned to a pillar of salt. Such is the grip of sin on any of us if we hold on to it for sin wants us.
  • Sin desires us - Genesis 4:7 - "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." (NAS)
  • Sin Entangles us - Hebrews 12:1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (NAS)
  • Sin kills us - Romans 7:11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. (NAS)
     In Romans we read these words of advice Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Romans 6:12-13 (NAS)

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Like a trap, How is sin holding on to you?
  • In what ways are you holding on to sin?

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Seek and read from the book of the LORD - Isaiah 34:16a (ESV)

      It was Harold's birthday but he wasn't enjoying the day at all. Not only had he forgot to prepare for it and spent the night before trying to figure things out, he had slept through most of it as result. To make matters worse his family took of to celebrate with out him and after he barely made it to the pet store before it closed, he got put out for wanting a pet skunk.

      After being put out of the pet store, Harold became determined to learn more about skunks and where he would be able to get one before his birthday was over. Jumping back on his bike he headed to the one place he figured would have the answers – the library. “I'll get my skunk yet.” he said as he pulled the library door open but the door didn't open. Hanging in the window next to the door was a sign that said closed.

     With his head drooped, Harold slowly peddled home. “What a lousy birthday!” He said when he pulled into the driveway and threw his bike down right where his dad would back over it in the morning. Grabbing what was left of his birthday cake and a half gallon of ice cream, Harold headed to his room and didn't come out until morning.

     “Nothing could be worse than yesterday.” Harold thought we he arose the next morning but he was quite wrong. For starters too much ice cream the night before had left him with a stomach ache and when he went to hop on his bike to go back to the library he found that leaving it the middle of the driveway was not a good idea as his bike now lay in a heap of crumpled metal.

     Determined to learn more about skunks Harold walked all the way to the library. Twice he tried taking short cuts but both times he was chased and than bit by big black dogs. Once in the library he was almost over whelmed by the amount of books. Once he found the aisle of animal books he started going through the shelves throwing the books on the floor as he went so he would know where he'd been.

     When he finally found a book on skunks he quickly flipped through it and let out a loud scream. “No! This Can't Be It” he yelled for the book was only a kids story book about Sammy the Skunk. When the Librarian heard him scream she came running to see what was the matter. When she saw the mess of books on the floor, she let out a scream, marched Harold to the door and literally threw him out warning him to never come back.

     As he stood in front of the library trying to figure out what to do next it started to rain and before he knew it, Harold was drenched. Slowly he started walking back home and as he passed by Georgino's Hunting and Fishing Store he got an idea, and headed for the front door.

     What do you know? What do you not know? Where do you go when you do not know something but want to know something? It used to be that if you wanted to learn something, you went looking for a book and like Harold you would have headed to a library. Now days, you need not go farther than the computer in your house and the internet.

     In the days of Hilkiah the High Priest people had no internet, they had no books, but they did have scrolls. One particular scroll contained information that all the people should have known, but no-one knew for it had been tossed aside and forgotten. Here's the story from the TLB

      One day Hilkiah the High Priest went to Shaphan the secretary and exclaimed, "I have discovered a scroll in the Temple, with God's laws written on it!" He gave the scroll to Shaphan to read. When Shaphan reported to the king about the progress of the repairs at the Temple, he also mentioned the scroll found by Hilkiah. Then Shaphan read it to the king. When the king heard what was written in it, he tore his clothes in terror. He commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Shaphan, and Asaiah, the king's assistant, and Ahikam (Shaphan's son), and Achbor (Michaiah's son) to ask the Lord, "What shall we do? For we have not been following the instructions of this book: you must be very angry with us, for neither we nor our ancestors have followed your commands." So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah went to the Mishneh section of Jerusalem to find Huldah the prophetess. (She was the wife of Shallum--son of Tikvah, son of Harhas--who was in charge of the palace tailor shop.) She gave them this message from the Lord God of Israel: "Tell the man who sent you to me that I am going to destroy this city and its people, just as I stated in that book you read. For the people of Judah have thrown me aside and have worshipped other gods and have made me very angry; and my anger can't be stopped. But because you were sorry and concerned and humbled yourself before the Lord when you read the book and its warnings that this land would be cursed and become desolate, and because you have torn your clothing and wept before me in contrition, I will listen to your plea. The death of this nation will not occur until after you die--you will not see the evil that I will bring upon this place." So they took the message to the king.
2 Kings 22:8-20 (TLB)

     In the book of Isaiah chapter 34, Isaiah was writing to the nations of the earth and in verse 16 he says Seek and read from the book of the LORD: Not one of these shall be missing; none shall be without her mate. For the mouth of the LORD has commanded, and his Spirit has gathered them. (ESV)

     How many of us follow and seek out God's word and read it? Study it? These people did.
  • Nehemiah 8:8 They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading. (NAS)
  • Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel. (NAS)
  • Acts 17:11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (NIV)
     God's word, our Bible, is an amazing book full of information for us tor read and study so that we might know or as Romans 15:4 puts it - For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (NAS)

     One of my favorite Psalms says How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2 (NAS)

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you take time to read and study the Bible? 
  • Is your Bible treated as the scroll in Hilkiah's day