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, November 24, 2012


In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)

     It was Friday morning and Randy was more or less expecting a visitor and sure enough, at 9:00 sharp he heard a hard wrap on the door of his office. “Come on in Sergeant!' Randy called out with out looking up from his desk, “I've been expecting you.” “How did you know it was me?” Sgt. Halfway asked as he entered the room

     “After what happened Wednesday night, I figured you be showing up for some kind of statement.” “Yes.” Sgt. Halfway shook his head, “That's why I'm here. So, Randy, What happened?” “It was like my worse nightmare come true.” Randy said as tears started to run down his eyes, “It was suppose to be a Thanksgiving Eve service. A time when we were suppose to be giving thanks.”

     “Suppose to?” Halfway questioned as he pulled out a notepad and pencil. “Well,” Randy said, “I think you’ve heard that Harold had caught a skunk.” “Tell me about,” Halfway grunted, “Half of Pupperville has called the police station to complain about it. I even heard that his mom was trying to give Harold away.”

     “I’m beginning to wish she had.” Randy told the Sergeant, “Didn't you say something in your sermon last week about being thankful for everything and everyone including Harold?” “Yeah.” Randy sighed, “But that was before Wednesday night.” “You mean before Harold brought that skunk to church.” the Sergeant interrupted. “Yeah.” Randy replied.

     “For the record, Why was Harold allowed in to church with a skunk? Couldn’t somebody smell it?” Sergeant Halfway asked as he got ready to jot down Randy's answer. “Nobody thought to check Harold,” Randy answered, “Because we've gotten so used to him smelling like a skunk. Everybody tries to stay as far away from him as possible and that's probably why no-one noticed it hiding under his coat.”

     “That makes sense.” Halfway nodded in a agreement, “Continue on.” “Well,' Randy went on, “About half way through the service, the skunk got loose. When it got loose, Harold started chasing the skunk around trying to catch it. Harold and the skunk were under the pews, over the pews, across the laps of everyone and then... the skunk started spraying. People started screaming and running every which way trying to get out of the building. Eventually the skunk escaped but the damage had already been done.”

     After jotting a few notes down, Sgt. Halfway than asked about the damage that had been done. “The skunk smell is everywhere.” Randy told him, “I'm sure you could smell it when you came in. The janitor said it could take months to get the odor out of the church. And as for the people, there's no more tomato juice in town.”

     “Well,” Sgt Halfway said as he closed his notebook. “You can always look on the bright side? “There’s a bright side?” Randy asked a bit puzzled. “Yeah.” Sgt Halfway said as he headed for the door, “It’s a good way to find out if you really are thankful in all things.” “What an excellent sermon idea,” Randy said as he stood up to walk Sgt Halfway out. “That is, if any one will ever show up in church again.”

     Would you be thankful if Harold showed up at your church and let his skunk get loose and it sprayed? And, would you be thankful if it was during a time set aside just to be thankful? "Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. "You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. "Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. Exodus 23:14-16 (NASB)

     The Feast of Ingathering is also know as the Feast of Booths. In Deuteronomy 16 God gives a few more details regarding this feast. "You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat; and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns. "Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.... Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.

       At the time of harvest a feast was to be had, to celebrate before the Lord – for what He had given and an offering was to be given in return. It was a type of thanksgiving that lasted 7 days. A thanksgiving that was forgotten until the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. The story can be found in Nehemiah chapter 8 if you wish to read it in full but to sum the story up. The walls of Jerusalem had been rebuilt and the people were returning. Upon their return they got together and asked Ezra to read to them form the book of the law of Moses which God had given them. So, Ezra called the people together and read to them explaining things along the way. Along the way they learned of the Feast of Booths and decided they needed to celebrate and did they ever.

     We have 1 day set aside for celebrating, for giving thanks, but have we forgotten to celebrate, to praise God, to give thanks. I know of no place in scripture that the Israelites were told they didn't have to celebrate when they went into captivity, when things were not going their way. Their feast was mandatory, ours is voluntary but even at that should we let bad times, etc keep us from giving thanks, from celebrating and praising God? Do we need everything perfect before we say a word of thanks and than go back to our lives....

In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)
In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)
In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)
In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)
In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)
In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)
In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)
In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)
In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)

     Here's Something To Ponder
  • Are you truly thankful when things go wrong?
  • Are you truly thankful when things go right?

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Give thanks in everything, - 1 Thessalonians 5:18a (HCSB)

     Ever since Harold Peterson had manged to catch a live skunk, people had been avoiding him like he was the worst kind of plague. For some people, however, avoiding him was next to impossible since they lived with him. Martha, Harold's mom, was one of those people and in desperation she headed to church to talk to Randy Smith to see what he would think of her idea.

     As Martha walked into Randy's office, Randy started sniffing the air. “You don't smell like skunk.” he finally said. “Does that mean everything is okay now?” “Not in the least.” Martha replied, “I don't smell like skunk because I found some strong perfume that somehow cancels out the skunk smell.”

     “So,” Randy said as kicked back in his chair, “What have you been up to, and how can I help you?” “well,” Martha started to say as she sat down in the chair opposite Randy's, “I've been doing a lot of thinking.” “That's always good.” Randy told her, “So, what have you been thinking about?” “Thanksgiving.” Martha answered.

     “Oh.” Randy said some what shocked, “I thought you would have been thinking Harold and getting rid of that skunk I heard he caught.” “Well,” Martha admitted, “I guess I have been think a little bit about Harold and the skunk he caught. Well, maybe a lot but I wasn't thinking of getting rid of the skunk.”

     “You're not actually thinking of keeping it” Randy asked as his eye got as big as saucers. “Well,” Martha said, “Being that it's almost thanksgiving, I was thinking about giving God a gift.” When Randy heard that his eyes got even bigger and his mouth dropped open, “You’re not thinking of giving the skunk to God as a gift?”

     “No” Martha told him and Randy gave a sigh of relief. “I was thinking of something else. I was reading in Exodus 22:29 where it says The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. And I was thinking, Harold's my first born son and....” “Stop right there.” Randy interrupted her. “You can’t give Harold away. He your own flesh and blood.”

     “You mean his father’s flesh and blood.” Martha snapped back, “Besides, God's word says to give him to Him. Besides,” Martha continued, “I think I would rather have the skunk.” “And just how do you plan to give him to God.” Randy asked “That's easy.” Martha replied, “I’ll just, just, just. I don’t know. How do I give him to God?”

     “Don’t ask me.” Randy told Martha, “Besides, would you like to have Harold given to you as a thank you gift?” “Harold as a thank you gift?” Martha snorted, “I thought he was a punishment. Oh well, so much for that idea.”

     On that day David decreed for the first time that thanks be given to the Lord by Asaph and his relatives: Give thanks to the Lord; call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him; sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works!
1 Chronicles 16:7-9 (HCSB)

     Imagine, a day set aside to give thanks. Does such a day really exist? Such a day is suppose to exit on the 4th Thursday of November in America but how much thanks is given, and how do we do it? Martha thought of giving a gift as a way of giving thanks, well maybe not exactly. If we want to know more about giving thanks we can look at those in the Bible who were thankful and took the time to give thanks.

     David was a king who was thankful. He was the one who wrote the above verses from 1 Chronicles and we can find much of his thankfulness in his Psalms. The verse above were written just after the return of the Arc to Jerusalem. The following verses were written at various times.
  • Psalm 106:1 - Hallelujah! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (HCSB) – Here's a reason to give thanks – because God is good and His love endures.
  • Psalm 107:1- Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (HCSB) – The reason repeats.
  • Psalm 108:3 - I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. (ESV) – Here's a way to give thanks – with singing, not in solitude but in the open.
  • Psalm 111:1 - Praise the LORD!I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. (ESV) – Again we can give thanks in front of people and with our whole heart. We need to get into giving thanks.
     Of course, we may not always think it easy to be thankful, to want to give thanks. Imagine being in Daniel's shoes.

     Darius decided to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, stationed throughout the realm, and over them three administrators, including Daniel. These satraps would be accountable to them so that the king would not be defrauded. Daniel distinguished himself above the administrators and satraps because he had an extraordinary spirit, so the king planned to set him over the whole realm. The administrators and satraps, therefore, kept trying to find a charge against Daniel regarding the kingdom. But they could find no charge or corruption, for he was trustworthy, and no negligence or corruption was found in him. Then these men said, “We will never find any charge against this Daniel unless we find something against him concerning the law of his God.” So the administrators and satraps went together to the king and said to him, “May King Darius live forever. All the administrators of the kingdom, the prefects, satraps, advisers, and governors have agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an edict that for 30 days, anyone who petitions any god or man except you, the king, will be thrown into the lions’ den. Therefore, Your Majesty, establish the edict and sign the document so that, as a law of the Medes and Persians, it is irrevocable and cannot be changed.” So King Darius signed the document. When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upper room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
Daniel 6:1-10 (HCSB)

      His life is on the line and he takes to time to give thanks, would you? There is more to say on giving thanks but I think this is enough to absorb for now.

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Are you giving thanks when you should be giving thanks?
  • Is your thankfulness for real?

Saturday, November 10, 2012


The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Proverbs 15:3a (NASB)

     It was a cool fall day there was a light mist in the air and the sun was starting to set as Tracy headed to the barn to start her evening chores. “Here Bessy,” she called as she opened the big red door on the barn “It's time for your evening milking” When she heard Tracy's voice, Bessy let out a long moo and then a funny sounding sneeze.

     “Wait a minute,” Tracy said sounding a bit alarmed, “Cows don't sneeze like that.” After a few minutes of silence she heard the funny sneeze again. “Who's out here in the barn?” She demanded to know. “Nobody” came a quiet voice that sounded a somewhat familiar. “Is that you Barney?” Tracy called back.

     “You can't see me, You never heard me, and you don't know where I am.” the voice replied. “So it is you.” Tracy answered back, “What are you doing hiding in the hayloft, Barney, you know you have allergies.” “Is Harold with you?” Barney quietly asked in return. “NO!” Tracy answered, “You don't think he would come around here when there's work to be done?”

     “Yeah,” Barney said as he came out of hiding, “I suppose you're right about that. Besides, I can't smell him.” “Smell him?” Tracy said with a quizzical expression. “Yeah,” Barney said as he sniffed the air, “Why do you think I'm hiding from him.” “How would I know.” Tracy answered, Unless,” she paused for a moment, “He didn't!”

     “BINGO” Barney exclaimed. “I thought he wasn't suppose to be chasing skunks anymore.” Tracy chirped in. “He's not.” Barney assured her, “But you know how well he listens.” “Unfortunately, I know all to well.” Tracy said as she nodded in agreement. “So, how bad did he get sprayed this time?”

     “SPRAYED?” Barney exclaimed, “If only he had gotten sprayed.” “What do you mean?” Tracy asked a bit puzzled, “Isn't that what he did?” “He caught one”!” Barney exclaimed, “And he's going all over town trying to show it to everyone he meets.” “No wonder your hiding in the hayloft.” Tracy told Barney, “I think I'd be hiding in the hayloft too if I knew he was trying to show me a skunk.”

     “You won't tell him I'm here, will you?” Barney asked, hoping she'd say no. “My lips are sealed” Tracy assured him, “In fact...” she started to say and then started to sniff the air. “You better move over and make room for me, I smell him coming now.” and up the ladder she flew.

     “Helloooo.” came Harold's voice as they heard the barn door creek open, “Is anybody here?” Although it was hard, Barney kept from sneezing and after about ten minutes, Harold and his skunk left but just to be on the safe side, Tracy and Barney kept hidden for another half hour before Tracy went back to her chores and Barney sneaked home.

     As a parent, I confess that there are times I purposely hide from my kids and if I'm really good, they don't find me and after awhile they give up looking. There are times when all of us hide from someone or at least we desire too. It could be that we're playing, it could be that we want to surprise them or it could be we want nothing to do with them. If someone came around with a live skunk and they smelled even worse, I would probably want to hide like Barney. For the most part, if we are good enough, we can hide – from people but....

     Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.' " But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?"
Genesis 3:1-11 (ESV)

      To sum the story up, God gave Adam and Eve food to eat, lots of food to eat but He also gave them some food they were not to eat. When we think of all the rules, laws, commandments etc that we have to follow, we can see Adam Eve had only a few and one of them was to NOT eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They ate the fruit, their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked. God came along for a visit and they tried to hide.

     Remember, if we're good enough , we can hide from people but God is not people. O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you

     Hebrews 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (NIV) There is no hiding from God.

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • How many times have you wished God couldn't see?
  • Do you live in such a way that you want things hid from others?

Saturday, November 3, 2012


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

      It was getting close to supper time and Martha Peterson was slaving away in her kitchen preparing an awesome meal for her family. As she stood near the stove she couldn't resist taking in a big whiff of of the sauce she was preparing but as she did she started gagging and coughing and her eyes started to water.

     “HAROLD! What have I told you about staying away from skunks!” Martha yelled out at the top of her lungs but when she turned around it wasn't Harold that stood behind her smelling like a skunk, it was her husband. “Bill!” She yelled out in surprise, “I hope you're not planning to sleep with me tonight. You reek!”

      “I was hoping you wouldn't have noticed.” Bill said gagging and coughing himself. “Notice!” Martha yelled back, “I think I could have smelled you even if my nose was cut off. What happened?” “H- A - R - O - L – D is what happened.” Bill told her, “And to make matters worse, I'm suppose to be teaching Sunday School in the morning.”

     “I can't even begin to count how many times I have told him to stay away from skunks but he just won't listen to many.” Bill complained to his wife. “I know the feeling dear,” Martha replied, “I've been telling him over and over to stay away from the skunks too. You would think he would have learned his lesson after getting sprayed the first time.”

     “I would think that the skunks would have learned there lesson by now and stayed away from Harold.” Bill told his wife, “This is the sixth time this month Harold has tried to catch a skunk and this time I happened to be...” “In the wrong spot at the wrong time.” Martha injected, “I know. I can smell.”

     “What I don't understand is why Harold keeps trying to catch a skunk.” Bill told Martha, I would think the smell would bother him, I know it bothers me and everybody else in town.” “Bill,” Martha said shaking her head, “Why does Harold do anything?”

     “You know,” Bill said, “If he keeps this up we're going to go broke buying tomato sauce to wash the smell away. How are you getting the smell out of his clothes?” “I'm not.” Marthe responded, “Instead of washing them, I've been digging a hole in the backyard and burying them.” “That's a great idea.” Bill said with a grin, “Why don't we leave Harold in the clothes next time. His disobedience is costing us a fortune.” “Too late.” Martha grinned, “I've already buried him, well, at least part of him.”

     “At least I was an obedient child when I was his age.” Bill commented. “Obedient!” Martha snorted, “From what your mom has told me, I could...” Bill quickly cut off his wife. “I'm heading to the bath tub.” he said and darted out of the room.

     In Exodus, as God was laying down the law, he gave the people a commandment Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. - Exodus 20:12 (NIV) Sounds great, especially if you're a parent but would anyone obey this command? Move forward to the New Testament and we read these words But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents .... 2 Timothy 3:1-2 (NASB)

     Harold has a problem obeying his parents, It almost sounds like Bill had the same problem so what does it mean to obey ones parents, to honor them? “Tell me what you think about this: A man had two sons. He went to the first son and said, ’Son, go and work today in my vineyard.’ The son answered, ’I will not go.’ But later the son changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said, ’Son, go and work today in my vineyard.’ The son answered, ’Yes, sir, I will go and work,’ but he did not go. Which of the two sons obeyed his father?“ The priests and leaders answered, “The first son.“ Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God before you do. Matthew 21:28-31 (NCV)

     I suppose we could plug in another scenario. Aaron and Jason are asked to mow the lawn. Joe said he would but played video games all day. Frank said no way, he'd rather play video games but kept losing so he went and mowed the lawn.

     Or try this, Laura and Melissa are asked to wash the dishes. Laura says she would love to but gets sidetracked playing dolls. Melissa says no way, she wants to play dolls. But after her doll falls apart she decides to wash the dishes.

     I'm sure we could plug in many more examples and I think we can easily figure out who was obedient. More than what we say, obedience is in our actions.

     Heading back to the Old Testament when God was laying down the law, He left some very strict penalties for those who were disobedient to their parents. If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father or mother and doesn’t listen to them even after they discipline him, his father and mother must take hold of him and bring him to the elders of his city, to the gate of his hometown. They will say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he doesn’t obey us. He’s a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city will stone him to death. You must purge the evil from you, and all Israel will hear and be afraid. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (HCSB)

     Here's a couple more verse to think upon in relation to obedience to parents.
  • Proverbs 6:20 - My son, obey your father's commands, and don't neglect your mother's teaching. (NLT)
  • Colossians 3:20 - Children, obey your parents in all things, because this pleases the Lord. (NCV)
Here's Something To Ponder
  • Would you ever consider disobeying your parents?
  • Would you ever consider disobeying God when He says obey your parents?