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, June 29, 2013


For freedom Christ has set us free; - Galatians 5:1a (ESV)

     Helen Grey was finding summer to be almost perfect except for the heat. Helen Grey was one of those people that preferred cooler weather, much cooler than the 90's that had been baking Pupperville for the last week. Despite the heat, Helen knew that the churches flower gardens needed to be taken care of and she had found the perfect help, or so she thought.

     As the Girls are Girls club pulled up in the parking lot on their bicycles Mindy Miller hollered out “I'm Not Helping!” “What do you mean you're not helping?” Helen called out to her, “You promised to help like the rest of your club.”

     “I don’t care.” Mindy hollered back, “I’m tired of doing things for other people. Including you and this church.” “Then why did you bother to show up?” Helen wanted to know. “To let you know that you are not my boss” Mindy answered, “And that from now on I am my own boss.”

     “Mindy!” Helen said in disgust, “You know I’ve never made you do anything. Not even volunteer to help here today.” “Well, ugh,” Mindy stammered, “From now on I will only do what I want to do. I’m going to be just like everybody else.” “Everybody else?” Helen questioned, “What are you talking about?”

     “Yeah,” Mindy said, “From now on I do what I want when I want to. Besides this is a free country and I shouldn’t have to obey anybody.” “Mindy!” Helen exclaimed in shock, “What's happened to you?” “Nothing!” Mindy replied. “Than why the change in attitude?” Helen Demanded to know. “You never behaved this rudely before.”

     “If you must know,” Mindy snorted, “Independence Day is this coming week and I thought I would declare mine as well.” “That's not a good idea.” Helen injected. “My parents didn’t think so either,” Mindy replied, “but I don’t care. I will do what ever I want when I want and they won’t be able to stop me. Besides, they’re letting me be independent.”

     “What?” Helen gasped, “They’re actually going along with this scheme of yours.” “Not that they have a choice,” Mindy laughed, “But yes.” “Well,” Helen said shaking her head, “Along with independence there comes responsibility. Are you ready for that?” “That’s what me parents said.” Mindy frowned, “But I don’t care I don’t want responsibility I want to be free.”

     “And of course, you can’t forget consequences.” Helen added. “Cons a what?” Mindy said a little puzzled, “Have you been talking to my parents because they said something about cons a what’s too and that I would have to learn them the hard way. Hey! I got an idea, maybe you could teach me what cons a whatever they are, are. Well, maybe later, my favorite show is on TV and I need to get going. Hope you girls have fun weeding the flowers.”

     Mindy wanted her independence. She wanted to be free. But just how free can she be? Should she be? Does she really want to be?

     So Israel took his journey with all that he had … and came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him, Genesis 46:1-6 (ESV)

     Israel moves to the land of Egypt. Once there a prophecy is fulfilled that was given to Abraham in Genesis 15:13 where the LORD said to Abram, "Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. (ESV) At the end of those 400 years the people cry out, God hears their cry and sends help in the man called Moses. But just how free did the Israelite want to be? Let's follow the Israelites as they travel out of Egypt and towards the promise land.
  • Exodus 14:10-12 - When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." (ESV)
  • Exodus 16:2-3 - And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, "Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger. (ESV) "
  • Numbers 13:31-14:4 Then the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are." So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, "The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them." Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, "Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?" And they said to one another, "Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt." (ESV)
     God set the Israelites free but it seems that's not what they wanted. We are told Christ set us free (Galatians 5:1) but like Israel do we really want our freedom?

     John 8:31-34 - So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?" Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. (ESV) - NOT SLAVES? At the time this was said the Jews were under bondage to to Rome. They were not free nor were they free from sin. They were slaves. Romans 6:16 says Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? It's Independence Day week in the USA but how free are we?

     Here's Something To Ponder
  • How Free can you truly be?
  • To whom or what would you rather be enslaved?

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Love never fails; 1 Corinthians 13:8a (NASB)

      It was looking to be a great Sunday morning for Randy Smith. He had been working real hard all week putting together his message, the final one in his series on what love is, and he was ready to give it all he had. Knowing his wife was going to be out of town for the weekend, along with Louie, he decided to get up early and head to the church.

     “Wow.” Randy thought as he pulled into the parking lot. “I can't remember the last time I was the church parking lot this bare on a Sunday.” After parking his car in his usual spot he headed for the main door but when he got there he found the door locked. “That's odd.” He thought to himself, “I would have thought that someone would have been here and opened that door already. Oh, well. Maybe I'm just a little too early.”

     After digging through an assortment of keys, Randy found the one for the door, unlocked it and opened it wide. Next, he took a quick stroll through the sanctuary to make sure it was clean, and went to get the bulletins to hand out and then he took up a spot in the foyer and waited for the everyone to start arriving.

     As he stood waiting, Randy thought of some of the greetings he would use. He liked to have one for the old guys like himself, a complimentary one for the ladies, some high fives for the teenagers and even some Donald Duck impressions for the little ones. He practiced these for what seemed like hours and until he started getting concerned that something was wrong. “I've know people to be late for church, and I've know people to miss church altogether” Randy began thinking to himself, “But not everyone, at the same time.”

     Finally, it was time for church to start and Randy headed for the front of the sanctuary. As he stepped up behind the pulpit has wondered if he should go ahead and start on time or wait just a few more minutes just in case someone would show up. He decided to wait but he stayed behind the pulpit looking at all the empty pews.

     “Where could they be?” Randy thought as he looked at where the McDonalds usually sat. “Maybe they had a problem on the farm. And where are those Petersons? Is Harold casing problems again? And the Greys are missing. I wonder if Robert forgot again. And where are the Millers and the Hendersons and....” over and over Randy kept going through the names of everyone in the congregation.

     Finally, Randy decided he had waited long enough and started the service. “Even though people may fail to show up,” he said, “Love will never fail. Let us read from 1 Corinthians 13.” Randy went on to complete the entire service on his own with no-one else in the building. When he was done he locked up and headed home.

     Feeling a little let down, because no-one showed up, Randy stopped to by himself a big donut at the donut shop. As he walked in Sergeant Halfway met him and told him he was looking forwarded to hearing his sermon tomorrow. “Tomorrow?” Randy questioned, “Why not today?” “Because I don't usually go to church on Saturday.” Halfway responded.

     Genesis 1:31 says And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (ESV) As we look around us we can see that the world is not the same as when God made it. It's not very good and all around us things are failing including us. What happened?

     Let us move forward to Genesis 6:5-7 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." (ESV) To sum things up – man happened. And because God is Holy and Just, man's sin had to be dealt with.

     Genesis 6:13-22 And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them." Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. (ESV)

     God dealt with man and the world would never be the same. Things would wear out and run down things would fail but not all. God made some promises in all of this. And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease." Genesis 8:21-22 (ESV) And then the rainbow was born. This promise has not failed. Love never fails either.

      Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (NASB)

     Love never fails because God is love – 1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (ESV)

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you let your love fail God, others or self? Is it really love?
  • How many and in what ways has God's love not failed you?

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Love … endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7 (ESV)

      It had been one of those weeks, or so Randy thought. Earlier in the week his wife had called to say the basement was flooding from all the rain and now his wife had called to say unexpected company had dropped in and asked if he would stop and get some milk and eggs on his way home. And since his wife didn't want store bought milk or eggs it meant driving 10 miles out of the way to the McDonald's farm.

      “It's been one of those weeks.” Randy said to John when he pulled into the farm. “You can say that again.” John said in agreement, “In fact, I'll say it for you. It's been one of those weeks.” “You too?” Randy asked. “ I have seen some strange happenings before.” John replied, “But I think this one might take the cake.”

     “Well,” Randy said, “The flooding was pretty bad. “Flood?!” John said, “I was talking about the antics of one Harold Peterson.” “Harold?!” Randy said in return, “Your not talking about his story of Giant June Bugs are you? He was using that as an excuse not to plant his garden.” “Well,” John said quietly, “His mom finally talked him into planting it.”

     “That’s good.” Randy said, “It's about time he did something.” “Try telling that to the town's folks.” John declared, “Harold decided he would try and use my big tractor to till up his garden area.” “But his garden isn't that big.” Randy injected. “Try telling him that.” John continued, “He put the plow down and dug up his entire yard, in fact he dug up most of the neighborhood. And that’s not the worst of it.”

     Hearing that, Randy was afraid to ask what Harold did but he asked anyway. “What more did he do?” “He sliced through the phone cable, the TV cable and the main power cable to the town.” What happened when he hit the power cable?” Randy asked. “A sonic boom” John replied, “The town's power went out, Harold went flying through the air and the tractor, well, I don’t want to talk about it now.”

     “Wow” Randy said, “And I thought the power outage was from the storm. You're right, that does take the cake.” I don't know how his parents put up with him.” John said, “If my Tracy had behaved like that I think I would have buried her in a deep hole and left her there.” “You wouldn't” Randy gasped in shock. “No, not really,” John assured him, “Besides she’s a good girl who only messes up once in a while.”

     “Like the time she helped lose Muffy?” John said nodding his head. “She helped with that?” John said in surprise, “Well, at least she’s not like Harold. He’s always causing some sort of trouble. Even when he’s being good he puts people into shock.” “Well,” John commented, “You do have to admire Martha’s love for Harold. Well, I better be on my way.”

     With that, Randy got back in his car and headed for home, and yes it was one of those weeks for when John started telling him of his troubles, Randy forgot to get the milk and eggs. He did however, get a great sermon illustration.

      Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob." … Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, "You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother's father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother's brother. Genesis 27:41,28:1-2 (ESV)

     Things were looking pretty rough for Jacob. He'd stolen his brother's birthright and blessing, his brother wanted to kill him and now, of all things, he was being sent away to get married. But, could Jacob find someone he could truly love. Let's join Jacob at a well in a field...

      Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well's mouth was large, and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well. Jacob said to them, "My brothers, where do you come from?" They said, "We are from Haran." He said to them, "Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?" They said, "We know him." He said to them, "Is it well with him?" They said, "It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!" … Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, "I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel." Laban said, "It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me." So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed." So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?" Laban said, "It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years." Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.
Genesis 29:1-28 (ESV)

     Jacob makes a deal to work for Laban for 7 years to marry Rachel. He's tricked and ends up working 7 more years and all for Rachel His beautiful wife. Oh what Love endures. What are or would you put up with or do for loved ones? Do you endure?
  • 1 Peter 2:19 - For God is pleased with you when, for the sake of your conscience, you patiently endure unfair treatment. (NLT)
  • James 1:12 - God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NLT)
  • Matthew 10:22 - And everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me. But those who endure to the end will be saved. (NLT)
     Why would you bear sorrow, persevere under trials, endure hatred. Love motivates for God, love motivates for others.

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • Are you willing to endure the trials brought by the ones you should love?
  • Do you make it hard for others to endure in their love for you?