Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good report, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, ponder on these things. - Philippians 4:8

Saturday, April 26, 2014


     Unable to get his lawn tractor to start, Bill headed to the local handy man's “Fix It Up” shop to see about getting it fixed. “What a beautiful week we have had.” Bill said to the sales clerk, “With the warm weather the frost is going out of the ground and I want to get my lawn tractor going so I can get my garden ready.”

      “Did you say garden?!” Came a voice from behind him. “I sure did.” Bill said as he turned to see who he was addressing. “I was afraid of that.” the voice said. It was John McDonald. “You should feel right at home in a garden.” Bill said as he stuck out his hand to shake John's, “Or is a garden too small for you?

      “Even a small garden is too big now.” John said a bit dejected. “Wow!” Bill exclaimed, “What’s going on? Did some one steal your tractor?” “I’m beginning to wish they would have.” John said, “Then maybe none of this would have happened.” “What happened?” Bill asked. “Somebody got into my storage shed without me knowing it.”

      “Did they do something to your tractor?” Bill asked. “The tractor doesn't fit in the shed.” John said, “But, they did something even worse. I spent a couple days getting my field ready to plant and on Wednesday I planted my seeds, or at least I thought I did.” “What did you plant?” Bill asked, “Something good to eat?”

      “WEEDS!” John said, “I planted weeds.” “Why in the world did you plant weeds?” Bill asked, “You can't eat them.” “I didn't plant weeds.” John said in response. “Wait a minute.” Bill injected, “I thought you just said you planted weeds?” “I did.” John said, “But I didn’t plant them. At least not on purpose.” “You've lost me.” Bill said and so did the sales clerk.

      “Somebody got into my shed and hid all of my good seed and replaced it with weed seeds.” John explained. “How in the world do you tell all those seeds apart.” Bill asked. “It's not always easy,” John continued, “But I found where they switched them.” “If you knew somebody switched them,” Bill said, “Why did you plant them?”

      “Because I didn’t find out until after I planted them.” John said. “Are you going to be able to plant your good seeds?” Bill wondered. “Yes.” John said, “But I won’t get much crop out of them because of this. The weeds will take all the food away from the good seeds.” Things sure are getting weirder around Pupperville,” Bill said, “I better go make sure my seeds are okay.” and then Bill left without getting what he needed from the sales clerk.

      That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables,
Matthew 13:1-3a (ESV)

      Can you imagine having so many people show up for church, that the preacher would have to get in a boat on the lake. Well, maybe your church isn't on a beach on a lake but that's what was happening to Jesus so He got in a boat and started to teach in parables – stories with a spiritual meaning. In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus started teaching a parable tat involved planting.

      He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.' " (ESV)

      Jesus' disciples didn't understand it so Jesus went on to explain it in verses 37-43 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (ESV)

      In Galatians 6:7-8 we read Don't be misled. Remember that you can't ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow! Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. (NLT) If you plant weed seeds in your fields or gardens like John you'll get weeds. If you plant weed seeds in your life, you'll get weeds. This fits with Proverbs 22:8 which says Those who plant seeds of injustice will harvest disaster, and their reign of terror will end. (NLT)

      2 Corinthians 9:6 adds another important lesson about planting. Remember this: The person who plants a little will have a small harvest, but the person who plants a lot will have a big harvest. (NCV) If you plant lots of seeds you'll get lots of plants.

      When it comes to what we will reap we need to remember these verses.
  • Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)
  • Hebrews 10:26 If we decide to go on sinning after we have learned the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins. (NCV)
  • Romans 8:6-8 If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws, and it never will. That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. (NLT)
     Here's Something To Ponder
  • What kind of seeds are you planting in your life?
  • What kinds of plants have you been harvesting?

Saturday, April 19, 2014


     It was Wednesday evening and the youth group was gathering for their weekly meeting in one of the classrooms at the church building, or at least they were suppose to be gathering. Start time for the youth group was 6:30 but it was now a quarter to seven and no-one had showed up. Wondering if she was waiting in the wrong room, Daisy Smith decided to go check the other classrooms.

     “Hello!” Daisy called out as she headed down the hall to the other rooms, “Is anybody there?” “In here!” came a reply from behind a closed door to one of the rooms. “Is that you Randy?” the voice called out again, “Come on in.” Opening the door to the room, she found Robert Grey and Bill Peterson playing a game of Foosball.

     “You're not Randy.” Robert said looking up from the game. “I sure hope not.” Daisy said, “I'm not ready to go bald yet.” As Daisy scanned the room she noticed that beside Bill and Robert at the foosball table, John McDonald, Timothy Harrison and Sergeant Halfway. “You're not having a board meeting tonight are you?” She asked.

     “No.” Robert said “We're just having a guys night out.” “Actually,” Bill piped in, “The bowling alley is closed due to some kind of flooding issue so we came over here.” “So,” John hollered out “Can we help you some how?” “You might be able to.” Daisy said, “I’m looking for all the kids for the youth group meeting.”

     “Which kids?” John asked. “ Barney, Stella, Mindy, Cindy, and so on.” Daisy said, “The meeting was suppose to start 15 minutes ago and nobody has showed up.” “What in the world is going on in Pupperville?” Timothy said looking up. “I’m almost afraid to ask what’s going to happen next.” Sergeant Halfway added.

     “Well,” Bill said, “I know for a fact the Stella left a half hour and said she was suppose to be picked up by Tracy to head to youth group.” “What?” John said, “Tracy said she was getting Mindy and Cindy. She left home an hour early and she didn't say anything about getting Stella.” “What about Louie?” Bill asked, “Didn't he come with you, Daisy?”

     “Now that you mention it...” Daisy said, “No, he didn't. He said he was going to meet up with Barney for some special project before coming here.” “Speaking of boys,” Timothy piped up, “My boys said they didn't feel well tonight and wanted to stay home but my wife paged me a little while ago and said they had left.”

     “This doesn't sound good.” Halfway said shaking his head. “I hope they're not up to some kind of trouble. I better go check in at the station and make sure.” I think we should all go do some checking.” John said. Everyone agreed and soon Daisy was left standing in a vacant room wondering where everybody was.

      Now there happened to be there a worthless man, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjaminite. And he blew the trumpet and said, "We have no portion in David, and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel!" So all the men of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 20:1-2 (ESV)

     Although David was a man after God's own heart and although he was a great king, he still had problems. One of those problems came in the form of a worthless man named Sheba but in taking care of him, another problem surfaced.

      Then the king said to Amasa, "Call the men of Judah together to me within three days, and be here yourself." So Amasa went to summon Judah, but he delayed beyond the set time that had been appointed him. And David said to Abishai, "Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom. Take your lord's servants and pursue him, lest he get himself to fortified cities and escape from us." And there went out after him Joab's men and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men. They went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. When they were at the great stone that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing a soldier's garment, and over it was a belt with a sword in its sheath fastened on his thigh, and as he went forward it fell out. And Joab said to Amasa, "Is it well with you, my brother?" And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab's hand. So Joab struck him with it in the stomach and spilled his entrails to the ground without striking a second blow, and he died. Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri. And one of Joab's young men took his stand by Amasa and said, "Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab." And Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the highway. And anyone who came by, seeing him, stopped. And when the man saw that all the people stopped, he carried Amasa out of the highway into the field and threw a garment over him. When he was taken out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.
2 Samuel 20:4-13 (ESV)

     Why was it important for Amasa to act quickly? How often do we procrastinate, hesitate, put off what needs to be done now?
  • But Lot delayed. So the two men took the hands of Lot, his wife, and his two daughters and led them safely out of the city. So the LORD was merciful to Lot and his family. Genesis 19:16 (NCV) – Lot was almost wiped out because he couldn't let go and leave. Do we have things that hold us back.
  • So while the five foolish bridesmaids went to buy oil, the bridegroom came. The bridesmaids who were ready went in with the bridegroom to the wedding feast. Then the door was closed and locked. Matthew 25:10 (NCV) They were left behind because they were not ready are we like them?
  • Another man said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to my family.” Luke 9:61 (NCV) Don't you think God wants us to be punctual, ready now instead of later?
     Opportunities for us to act are all around us if we are ready, if we don't hesitate, if we make the most of them and we should for we read this in the Bible...
  • Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Ephesians 5:16 (NLT)
  • Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity. Colossians 4:5 (NLT)
     Someday. Jesus is coming like a thief in the night. We need to be ready.

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • What is it that keeps you from being ready, that would make you late when Jesus returns?
  • Are you ever late today serving God?

Saturday, April 12, 2014


     “That was one of the funniest sermons I've ever heard.” Randy over heard Tim telling his wife. Moments later, Randy quietly slipped out of the church foyer and hid himself in the supply closet hoping no one would find him. “Maybe,” he thought to himself, I'll be able to find myself a one way trip to Tim-Buck-Tu.”

      It was there in the supply closet, Randy was found several hours later mumbling to himself, “I just don’t believe it.” over and over again. “Randy? Is that you?” came a female's voice. Randy tried to cover up but was unsuccessful and soon Rhonda Clay was pulling him to his feet. “What are you doing in here?” she asked, I thought you would have gone home long before now. And, what don't you believe?”

      “Didn't you hear the sermon?” Randy asked. “Sorry,” Rhonda said, “I didn't make it to church this morning because I had to work at the hospital. So, what happened, did someone paint more green graffiti on the church building?” “This was even worse.” Randy stated. “Worse?” Rhonda said in surprise, “Did they actually destroy part of the church building?”

      “No.” Randy said, “The building isn’t any worse than last week.” “Did you find out who painted it?” Rhonda asked. “No.” Randy shook his head, “But this week they or he or she or who ever it is did something even worse.” “well, if they didn't break anything,” Rhonda said, “What could be worse?”

      “Somebody changed my sermon!” Randy said and tried to hide again. “Changed your sermon?” Rhonda asked, What could be so bad about that?” “Do you know how embarrassing that is?” Randy asked “If I would have known before I started preaching I might have been able to fix it. But oooooh.” “How did it happen?” Rhonda asked.

      “I don’t know for certain.” Randy replied, “I keep my sermon on the computer and somebody reworded all the Bible verses on me. Did you know that Noah’s wife was the size of the ark? And did you know it snowed for forty days and lights? By the time I got through all the verses my entire sermon was a mess. What an embarrassment. I'll never be able to show my face again.”

      “Well,” Rhonda said, “If it's any comfort, I not only heard your sermon was the funniest one you have ever preached, but it was one of your best, and it can't be near as embarrassing as what happened to me this morning, but, I can't stop being a nurse and you can't stop being a preacher.” “I guess your right.” Randy said stepping out of the closet, “I just hope something worse doesn't happen.”

      And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." - Genesis 2:16-17 (ESV)
      God said something, He gave a command and something happened to it. Later in scripture God had given other commands and something happened to them as well. You might think they were disobeyed, they were, but something else happened to them – they were twisted.

      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." Genesis 3:1-5 (ESV) - Satan said you shall not surely die...

      Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, " 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and " 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.' " Matthew 4:5-6 (ESV) – Satan said jump and you won't get hurt...

      And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, " 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men." And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' But you say, 'If a man tells his father or his mother, Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban' (that is, given to God) — then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do." Mark 7:5-13 (ESV) The Pharisees sad Corban and invalidated God's word....
  • Jeremiah got after those who changed God's words - Jeremiah 23:36 But you will never again say, ’The message of the LORD,’ because the only message you speak is your own words. You have changed the words of our God, the living God, the LORD All-Powerful. (NCV)
  • God said - Don’t add to these commands, and don’t leave anything out, but obey the commands of the LORD your God that I give you. Deuteronomy 4:2 (NCV)
  • We have Paul's Example - 2 Corinthians 4:2 But we have turned away from secret and shameful ways. We use no trickery, and we do not change the teaching of God. We teach the truth plainly, showing everyone who we are. Then they can know in their hearts what kind of people we are in God’s sight. (NCV)
  • Peter speaks of those who twist things to their own destruction - 2 Peter 3:16 He speaks about these things in all his letters, in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures. (HCSB)
     We need to keep God's word – God's word. We shouldn't try and twist it, change it, etc to say what it doesn't say, to use it to try and justify evil, wrong doings, our ways.

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • In what ways might you be tempted to change God's words to justify yourself?
  • In what way have you twisted others peoples word to your advantage or their hurt?

Saturday, April 5, 2014


    It had been a beautiful week in Pupperville,that was until the blizzard. “Blizzards are suppose to happen in January and February, not April.” Randy Smith said to his wife as he prepared to head over to the church building. “Things were starting to show signs of turning green.” he continued, but now everything is white again. We must of got two feet of snow last night.”

     As Randy pulled into the church parking lot, he couldn't believe what he was seeing. “This can't be!” Randy exclaimed at what he saw. Even though the parking lot had already been plowed, Randy still had to shovel a path to the nearest door so he could get to his office and make a phone call to the police station.

     “It's Green.” He said when Sergeant Halfway answered the phone. “Well, uhm,” Halfway stammered, “Things this time of year usually do turn green, out side of last nights blizzard that is.” You mean you already know about it?” Randy asked a bit puzzled. “Of course I do.” Halfway went on to explain, “It happens every year.”

     “Well,” Randy said, “This is the first year I have ever seen it happen. And if Harold wasn’t in the monastery I would blame him for it.” “What are you talking about?” Halfway asked when he heard that a bit puzzled himself. “I was talking about the church building.” Randy answered, “What are you talking about?”

     “I was talking about spring” Halfway replied, “And the fact that we will soon be seeing GREEN grass and green leaves and … Did you say the church building?” “Somebody painted green graffiti all over the church building.” Randy said. After a short pause, Sergeant Halfway asked “Who is this? Is this some kind of April Fools Joke?”

     “This Is Randy Smith.” Randy said, “And this is no joke. It's even worse than what happened at the Peterson's.” “Oh,” Halfway said almost in shock, “What happened there?” “Didn’t you hear?” Randy asked, “Harold’s room mysteriously turned into a trash heap after it was cleaned.” “Wow!” Halfway exclaimed not knowing what else to say. “And now the church building is being painted on.” Randy continued, “What will be next? If it wasn’t for Harold being gone I would have blamed him but this is a real stumper.”

     “When did it happen?” Halfway asked. “It must have happened during the storm.” Randy explained, “All the foot prints were filled in.” “Have you told the police yet?” Halfway asked. “You ARE the police.” Randy said in disgust. “Oh, yeah.” Sergeant Halfway laughed, “ I am. I'll send someone over right away.”

      Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. "Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.
Haggai 1:3-9 (ESV)

     God's chosen people were suffering, but why? Haggai looks for an answer and receives a response from God “My house is in ruins.” But who do you suppose would do such a thing? Sometimes it's those who know better. Take for example the following:
  • At that time Hazael king of Syria went up and fought against Gath and took it. But when Hazael set his face to go up against Jerusalem, Jehoash king of Judah took all the sacred gifts that Jehoshaphat and Jehoram and Ahaziah his fathers, the kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own sacred gifts, and all the gold that was found in the treasuries of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent these to Hazael king of Syria. Then Hazael went away from Jerusalem. - 2 Kings 12:17-18 (ESV)
  • And the bronze altar that was before the LORD Ahaz removed from the front of the house, from the place between his altar and the house of the LORD, and put it on the north side of his altar. And the covered way for the Sabbath that had been built inside the house and the outer entrance for the king he caused to go around the house of the LORD, because of the king of Assyria. - 2 Kings 16:14,18 (ESV)
  • In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, "I have done wrong; withdraw from me. Whatever you impose on me I will bear." And the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king's house. At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD and from the doorposts that Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria. - 2 Kings 18:13-16 (ESV)
  • And Manasseh built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, "In Jerusalem will I put my name." And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with wizards. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. And the carved image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house of which the LORD said to David and to Solomon his son, "In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever. - 2 Kings 21:4-7 (ESV)
     Here are some thoughts to go with these verses
  • Everything is God's (We're just entrusted with it.) - 1 Corinthians 10:26 For "the earth is the Lord's, and everything in it." (NLT)
  • Mark 12:29-31 says Jesus replied, "The most important commandment is this: `Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.' The second is equally important: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these." (NLT) – Do we love God enough to take care of what He has entrusted with us? We are not only to Love God but others as well and that means taking care of them as well.
  • We (people) are God's temple - Don't you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will bring ruin upon anyone who ruins this temple. For God's temple is holy, and you Christians are that temple. - 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NLT)
  • We can, by our activities ruin ourselves and others. - And if another Christian is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don't let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Romans 14:15 (NLT)
     Here's Something To Ponder
  • Do you let what belongs to God go to ruin? Remember He owns it all.
  • Do you, by your actions, ruin others?