Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Devotions 31-10-06

Job 7
Job is describing the futility of his life at the present. He does not understand why all the suffering when he has been seeking to obey God and to honor Him. He has been blind sided with this test from God and has no clue why it has happened to him.

I have never experienced such a fierce test and been so alone in the proces. When I am in difficulties I sometime think I am having a Job experience but mine has never been like his. As I read about Job I feel that at this point in God's redemptive history there was not a personal relationship with God as we have today. He did not have a personal relationship with Jesus because He had not come into the world to redeem men at this time.

We do have stories in our day of those who have suffered great illness or tragedy and have found comfort in the Lord Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. How wonderful that I can have personal relation with God through His Son the Lord Jesus and He is with me through all of life's situations.

Even with this personal relationship with God suffering is not an easy experience. I need to learn how to comfort those who are having such difficult problems and pray diligently for them.

Lord, thank You for Your great plan of salvation and reedemption. Thank You that the Holy Spirit lives in us to be our comforter and guide in all of life's situations.Help me to comfort those I know that are having difficult tests of their faith.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Devotions 30-10-06

Job 6: 14
"For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; lest he forsake the fear of the Almighty."

A man who is in despair needs all the encouragement he can get. He does not need someone to analyze what he did wrong or what he should do but to encourage him in his faith and his trust in God. It is God who must reveal an issue between the one in despair and Himself who is allowing the circumstances to exist for whatever purpose He has chosen.

It is such a temptation to fix the problem of a friend or a loved one. I must be careful to think and pray for the wisdom that comes only from God. Oh, Lord, guide Melanie in her situation. Help me to know how to help her and to encourage her. Lord, bless her with strength that only You can give.

I am grateful for Your great mercy and grace. I know You always do what is right in my life. Help me to turn loose of my concerns and let You handle them all. You alone are the blessed controller of all things.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Devotions 29-10-06

Job 5: 17-18
"Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, and His hands also heal."

This is much like Heb 12: 4-11. God does discipline me because He loves me. But not all suffering is because I need to be disciplined and this is the case of Job. So while Eliphaz is saying some good things he is missing the point overall.

It is good and comforting to know that when God does discipline me and it is painful that God will also bring me relief. God may wound me to make sure I get the point but He is well able to heal me as well.

Oh the goodness and greatness of God. Oh that I would be able to truly trust God with my life and all that He has given me. I want to use it for His honor and glory and not for my immature and selfish desires. Lord, thank You for Your wise and loving discipline when I need it. Help me by Your grace to respond to it with humulity and gratefulness.

Devotions 28-10-06

Job 4: 6 & 7
"Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?
Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright destroyed?

Job and his friends did not know about Grace but mostly just about the law. Do what is right and God will bless you. If you do wrong you will be punished. They were trying to keep a law that they could not keep but that is all they knew what to do.

Job was the example of a man who had done much good but now he was suffering because God was doing a deeper work in his life. God has purposes to accomplish in our world that we know nothing about and He has the freedom to do what is best for me and for the eternal work of God.

Lord, I thank You that I can trust You to do what is right and not be afraid of the difficulties that You might bring into my life. I say this with some reservation but I do know that perfect love cast out any fear. I do want to love God without any fear of what God has in store for me.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Devotions 27-10-06

Job 3
As I read this chapter I am amazed at the dispair of Job. He is a very hurting man and he is wondering why this has come upon him. He is hanging on as much as he can but he does not know why this is happening to him.

I have felt like this a few times and I did not experience anything near to what Job is feeling. When a man is feeling like this he needs encouragement and prayer and not others trying to fix his problem. That is my tendency and I must restrain myself from moving too quickly to try to find an answer to the situation.

Lord, You are the blessed controller of all things and I must be careful to judge what is happening to others. Help me to pray and to seek what is the wisest course of action. Help me to speak truth but to offer encouragement and trust in God who is doing a work that none of us can understand.

Devotions 26-10-06

Job 2:10
"But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" in all this Job did not sin with his lips."

I thought it was interesting that Job did not call his wife foolish but he spoke to her about how she was speaking. She was speaking like a foolish woman but Job knew that was not the character of his beloved wife. She was grieved over all the suffering that she saw her husband was enduring.

The important lesson here is that God gives us good things but He also allows difficulties to come into our lives to perfect our faith and our character. God is the one in control and no one else. For sure we are not in control even though sometimes I may think I am.

So why do I get upset when things go wrong? I am failing to realize that God is doing something I know nothing or little about. My goal should be to react to my circumstance in a godly manner and give God glory. Do I do this? Sometimes, but very often I do not. I know that I should trust God no matter what and give Him the glory.

Lord, continue to teach me the value of trusting You at all times. I do not need to know Your purposes but I do need to trust You completely.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Devotions 25-10-06

Job 1:1-3; 21
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God , and turning away from evil. And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

All this was was taken away from Job one day as a test of his faith and trust in God. God allowed satan to do all this. How would I respond to all this if I were Job? How did Job respond? We see in verse 21.

And Job said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

This is a very severe test and we will see how Job and his friends go through this test. The thing I learned from this book last year was how to be a friend to someone who is suffering. I should not be like Job's friends.

How is my confidence and trust in God's control of my life. Do I really have all things given over to Him? Is my family His? Is all my possessions His? Do I give praise to God for all that happens to me? I know that I should but the doing of it is hard.

Lord, I must learn even more that I am not in control of the circumstance of my life. The only thing I can control is my response to them and my obedience to You. I must praise You whatever the circumstances and trust You with my family and all I have and even my own life. You have been very good and gracious to me and my family. Lord, help me to finish the coarse of my life well in honoring You and giving You praise for all things.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Devotions 24-10-06

I have finished reading Song of Solomon and making some observations and thought today would be a good time to draw a few overall conclusions to what I have read.

Each time I have read through a book of the bible devotionally I do not want to leave it but have a yearning to study it more closely. That is what I feel about the Song of Solomon.

My first overall observation is that true love is very mutual if it is to be beautiful and creates a wonderful intimacy. Solomon is expressing his love and admiration of his bride and she does the same. He seeks for her and she responds. She calls for him and invites him to join her and he responds. No one is seeking to control the other or to use the other for his or her advantage. There is a mutual respect and love for each other.

God is always available for me but He will not force His love on me. I must invite Him into my life and desire for Him to be with me in all I do. I must not allow the world to distract me from all God has for me and seek to have a beauty and fragrance in my life that will honor and please Him.

My second overall observation is that the evil one is out to destroy love. He is doing a good job of that around the world even among Christians. I must be alert to fight against evil in my intimacy to my lover in this world as well of the lover of my soul. It will take effort and sacrifice if I want to maintain the intimacy that God has made available for me. By His grace and strength it my duty to keep this intimacy alive and fresh.

I am so very grateful for the love God has shown to me over the 50+ years I have known Him personally. My love for Him has grown and I am beginning to enjoy His intimacy more and more. He has been patient with me and has continued to love me in my struggles to serve Him and honor Him. He is worthy of all Praise!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Devotions 23-10-06

Song of Solomon 8: 6-7 (The Message)
(bride) "Hang my locket around your neck, wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing--it sweeps everything before it. Flood waters can not drown love, torrents of rain can not put it out. Love can not be bought, love can not be sold--it is not to be found in the market place."

There are a lot of stories about lovers who will do the above for one another. There are also a good number of stories about godly men and women who have done the same in their love for God. We just have to search for these more than the first.

My question is do I have this quality of love for God? Do others know by looking at me that there is a commitment to God etched into my life? Do I love God more than life and am I willing to face danger to do God's will? Is my love for God beyond any price and am I willing to die before I would deny my love for God? This is my heart's desire and determination!

Lord give me the grace I need for any circumstances of life so I will never deny Your love. May my passion for God be deep in my soul and not a shallow emotion that is easily taken away. Thank You Lord for Your great love for me!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Devotions 22-10-06

Song of Solomon 7: 10-12
(bride) "I am my beloved's and his desire is for me. Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country, let us spend the night in the villages. Let us rise early and go to the vineyards; let us see whether the vine has budded and its blossoms have opened, and whether the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love."

The bride is very conscious and confident that her and the groom are committed to each other. Trusting commitment is such a beautiful picture. I am so grateful that Mary Lou and I began our marriage with such a solid commitment.

I must have this same solid commitment to my Lord and purpose to love Him as I should.

The bride invites her beloved to go into the country and spend the night in the villages; out where it is quiet and away from all the activity of the city. She has a plan in mind and suggests that they rise early and check how the fruit of the vineyards and the orchards are ripening.

When have I determined to get away from the busyness of the world and spend time with the lover of my soul. The purpose is so we could be together and evaluate how the fruit around me is ripening. Their concern was not just themselves but what is happening that would benefit others. Are people being drawn to the Lord by my life. Is the fruit of God's work in the lives of others ready to harvest.

Then there is the beautiful statement , "There I will give you my love" There is both physical love and spiritual love in this statement. Can I connect the two and realize how each one affects the other.

The giving of your love to your lover is so precious and holy. It is not the sensual and selfish love the world describes and fosters with out any thought of others. This love is beautiful and passionate but is not sparked by what I can get but what I am able to give.

I am not sure I have explained this with the clarity I want but I pray that I would keep learning how this holy love is given and received. It is so far from the love the world pursues or encourages but it alone is fulfilling and accomplished God's purposes.

God's love is so amazing and so fresh to behold. It is a love that is not emotion alone but is filled with purpose and lasting value. Above all it is not selfish but has the concern for others before self. I do not love to get but I love to give what will benefit others. Let me never forget that love is not driven by passion or emotion but by the will. I decide to give my love in such a way that God is honored.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Devotions 21-10-06

I Pet 2: 24
"...He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls."

Today I was doing a bible study and I was impressed with this verse and how I should apply it to my life. Christ died so I might have forgiveness of sins and have eternal life. He conquered death so I might live eternally after this life with Him and all those that believe in Him, but He did even more for me.

He died so that I might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died so I might have a choice to sin which is our natural tendency or I could choose to live a righteous life through God's strength. The righteous life in Jesus Christ is far more fulfilling than the temporary pleasures of sin that in the long run really destroys me and those I love. Jesus has given me the power to choose righteousness and to resist sin because of His death.

I know that I can resist sin far more than I do. Lord, I pray for the strength and determination to follow doing right as You have instructed and resist the evil that many in this world follow. Help me be more conscious of evil and how it affects me and cling to Your righteousness which You have given to me. I am confident that the righteousness that Jesus has given to me is a rich gift that I must cherish and make it my conviction to follow.

Devotions 20-10-06

Song of Solomon 6: 1-3
"Where has your beloved gone, O most beautiful among women? Where has your beloved turned that we may seek him with you?" My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of balsam, to pasture his flock in the gardens and gather lilies. I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine, he who pastures his flock among the lilies."

I will continue the thought on intimacy this morning. Now it is restoring intimacy since it has been broken. Other's are aware of my broken intimacy and are willing to help. When my intimacy with God is broken do others see it and desire to help. They can not do much but to pray and to encourage me.

The great Shepherd is busy caring for his flock but He is concerned about each one because each one is unique and special to Him. Do I feel that special to God? I should and will when I restore my intimacy with Him. I can then say "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine!"

Oh, how special it is to know I have an intimate relationship with the lover of my soul. I want to guard this relationship so very carefully. I must die to self and all that is involved in my selfishness and seek to love Him who loves me so much and has done so much to show His love to me.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Devotions 19-10-06

Song of Solomon 5: 5-6
(bride) "I opened to my beloved; and my hands dripped with myrrh, and my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt. I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned away and had gone! My heart went out to him as he spoke, I searched for him, but I did not find him; I called him, but he did not answer me."

I do not want to become too analytical of what is said here. I am sure there is a lot to learn but mainly I want to focus on how fragile intimacy is. You can not create intimacy just when you want it. You must work on it all the time. This is true in a husband wife relationship and it is also with God.

Solomon came to have intimacy with his bride but she had a list of excuses and so when she finally got going Solomon was gone. She searched for him and called out to him but he was not available.

My intimacy with God is not at my whim. It is not a limitation with God but actually my limitation. It is me that needs to get my heart right with God and I cannot restore this intimacy with a quick prayer. I must deal with my refusal to let Him into my life when He is seeking me. I must make some time in my schedule to get more time with Him to begin to restore this intimacy. He wants it more than me so I must do my part in restoring it.

Lord when You come knocking on the door of my life help me to be always ready to invite You into my life. I know I cannot turn on or off intimacy but it must be faithfully nurtured. Lord, thank You for your mercy and patience with me. Lord, help me in applying this to my marriage as well.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Devotions 18-10-06

Song of Solomon 4: 12 & 16
(Solomon) " A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a rock garden locked, a spring sealed up."
(bride) "Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south; make my garden breathe out fragrance, let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits!"

When Solomon describes his bride he says she is like a locked garden. He says it twice and then says she is a spring sealed up. There is nothing you can do to make your bride love you and express love to you. She must want to do so and only she can unlock the locks and break the seal to give her love to you.

I am like this spiritually, no one can force me to love God who loves me so dearly. Only I must unlock the locks to my life and break the seal so I am a spring to delight my God.

Then the bride describes her desire to return Solomon's love for her. She wants to be a delightful fragrance so he is eager to come in to her and enjoy the garden of her life.

Spiritually I believe the north and south winds are the Holy Spirit who is carrying the fragrance of Christ to our God. It is our praise and commitment to Christ that gives us the fruit of the Spirit that is so pleasant to God. He then fills our lives with joy and peace and purpose that nothing else in the world will or can give.

Lord, I am so grateful for Your Love and I desire to give back to you my whole being to bring You honor and glory. Lord, I do not want to lock You our of my life but to be always available to You. I need to love my bride the way that God loves His bride.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Devotions 17-10-06

Song of Solomon 4: 1, 3, 7
"How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves behind your veil; your hair is like a flock of goats that descended from Mount Gilead." Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate behind your veil." You are altogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in You."

Solomon is expressing to his bride how he views her and how special she is to him. As a husband do I express similar thoughts to my wife? I do work at it but I fall short many times. I know how important it is for my wife to hear these words from me.

Then I realize that this is also God speaking to me of His love for me and it is hard to believe that He really feels this way about me. I am without blemish because of the blood of Jesus that He shed for me and I am cleansed by faith in what He did for me on the cross. It is truly Amazing Grace!

I am grateful for God's love for me and all He has taught me about love. Lord, help me to be a loving husband that communicates to my wife how beautiful and precious she is to me.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Devotions 16-10-06

Song of Solomon 3: 7-8
"Behold, it is the traveling couch of Solomon; sixty mighty men around it, of the mighty men of Israel. All of them hold swords, expert in war; each man has his sword at his side guarding against the terrors of the night."

You may wonder how did swords and soldiers get into a book about love and intimacy. It is because we live in a world of evil and we must be prepared to fight against the evil that is all around us. To be too focused on love you will be unprepared for struggles the enemy brings into our lives.

In Heb 4:12 the bible is called the sword of the Spirit. So in a spiritual sense I need to always have the bible at my side ready to deal with evil that could attack me at any time. Even when I am going to a wedding as in Solomon's case. I Pet 5:8 tells us to be on the alert because our enemy the devil is looking for ways to do us harm. I must be ready with the Word of God to defend myself and to protect those I love.

It is wonderful to know that God has given us the means to fight our personal battles against the enemy. He has not left us defenseless but given us His Word so we might be safe from the tricks and evil schemes of satan. Lord, keep me alert to the evil that is all around me and by Your strength to stand against all evil that would come at me.

Devotions 15-10- 06

Song of Solomon 2: 3-4
(bride) "Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I took great delight and sat down, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love."

I think it is sometimes difficult for men to be the bride because in this life I am a husband but spiritually I am part of the bride of Christ. I need to be loved as much as my wife and Christ is my lover.

The apple tree among the other trees is very unique. There generally is no apple trees in the general forest. Our God and Savior is unique and stands out from anyone else. He gives me fruit that is sweet to my taste and it is a delight to be sheltered from the sun by His shade.

Then Jesus brings me to a banquet all for me and the banner over me is Love. Does that make you feel special as it does me? I hope so.

Lord, help me to be more aware of how special I am to You and how special You are to me. There is no one who loves me as You do. I am humbled and grateful and my words of gratitude are so inadequate. The best I can do is to make my life available to You so You might work through me Your great works and bring honor and glory to You the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Devotions 14-10-06

Song of Solomon 1:2-4
(bride) "May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, your name is like purified oil; therefore the maidens love you. Draw me after you and let us run together! The king has brought me into his chambers."

Just some thoughts as we begin this small book of love and romance. It is about a bride and her lover; Solomon and his bride. It is about intimacy and love. It is also about how we should be with the lover of our soul, God! We long for intimacy with God and He loves us so very much. Let us keep both of these in mind as we go through Solomon's Song.

A kiss on the mouth speaks of closeness or intimacy. We learn this from our mom's when we are little and we grow up kissing those in the family who we love very much. Even among believers a kiss is one of closeness and intimacy but not in a sensual sense.

When you have a bride it is often sensual but not always. It is basically one of closeness and expression of a deep love. So the bride longs for the kisses from her lover because she respects and loves him so much. She even says your love is better than wine. The best tasting wine is not to be compared to the richness of being shown love.

The bride speaks of her lovers fragrance. He is clean and has oils on his body and gives out a pleasant fragrance. God has a fragrance about Him when I come into His presence. He is pure and holy and I sense His love for me. His name is like purified oil and that for sure is what God's name is like. It is His Holiness and His total pureness that is appealing.

The bride wants to be with her lover and asks that he would draw her to him so they could run together. Love is being together with the one who loves you. So it is with God, to be with Him who loves me so very much.

It is always special to be alone with the one I love. My wife and I often just need time alone with each other to talk and enjoy one another's presence. I also need time alone with God and there are special things I learn when I make time to spend time alone with Him. The King of Kings long to bring me into His chambers to speak to me words of love and comfort and encouragement.

I realize more every year how much more time I need to spend alone with the lover of my soul. Not that I do not need others but I need the intimacy of God more than anything else. Other believers are a great encouragement to me and I learn from them but time with my Lord is even more special. Lord grant me the wisdom and strength to plan time alone with You and to do it often.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Devotions 13-10-06

Ecclesiastes 12: 13
"The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person."

This is the conclusion of the book of Ecclesiastes. This was written by Solomon and it appears that he was one of the masters of collecting wise sayings. His book of Proverbs is such a collection.

So the conclusion is to fear God and keep His commandments. How do I do this? How can I be sure that if or when I become successful that I will not become proud and forget God and become involved in the pleasures of this world.

I think what has helped me to keep my focus on God is the personal disciplines that I learned early in my Christian life. I sought to be around people who I admired and who encouraged me in the values I had set for my life. Even though I have failed many times God has been gracious to protect me from being trapped by the world and to lose my fear of God and the respect of His Word.

So where am I today in regarding fearing God and obeying His Word. I feel that this is true of my life but I want so much to do more than I am. I want to have a greater fear and respect of who God is and I want to obey His word far better than I am. Thank You Lord for this reminder of what is truly important in all of life.

Devotions 12-10-06

Ecclesiastes 12: 11
"The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd."

I love this verse because it makes so much sense. The words of wise men are like goads, they stir us on to do more and not to become lazy. In the west they have cattle goads which is a stick that they use to push in the side or rear legs of cattle to get them to move where they want them to go. The words of wise men have real answers to living life and the problems of life if I will only listen to them.

But on top of this, those that collect these sayings and master what they say are like well driven nails. As a carpenter you want all your nails to be well driven to make whatever you are building to be sturdy and function as planned. As a young lad helping my dad I was delighted when I got a nail to go in straight and not bend it in the process, that would be a well-driven nail.

So what does it mean to be like a well-driven nail? I think it means to speak with clarity and truth that makes a difference in people lives. I am not just talking a bunch of words that does not make much sense to anyone. What I say people will want to remember because it gives solutions to life's difficulties.

Men and women who speak this way are given by one Shepherd. Jesus is the great Shepherd or the Shepherd of all shepherds. It is God who is in control of such people.

I sure want to be such a man but it requires much diligence and not trying to do more than I should. The Word of God contains many of these wise sayings so that is a good place to start. Lord help me to truly think carefully about what I say and make my words like goads to others and may my life be like a well driven nail.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Devotions 11-10-06

Ecclesiastes 10: 1
"Dead flies make a perfumer's oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor."

Dead flies can ruin the smell of perfume being made. Flies are so small but perfume is a delicate item and just a little bad smell can ruin the aroma for which it was intended.

Foolishness can also be a very small act but can ruin the wisdom and honor that someone has earned. Satan delights is getting me to do foolish acts that will ruin the wisdom and respect that God has given me in my walk with Him. I must be very careful with my conduct so as to not dishonor the Lord by anything that I do or say. I must purpose to be pure in heart and mind and not allow the enemy to pull me into anything foolish.

If my focus is to honor the Lord and obey Him in all I do I will not need to be fearful of foolish conduct. It is when I fail to keep my focus on Jesus that I can do foolish things that will do great damage to the cause of Chirst and to my ability to minister to others. Again it is my time in God's Word and thinking on God's truth that protects me from foolishness.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Devotions 10- 10- 06

Ecclesiastes 9: 10
"Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with your might; for there is no activity or planning or wisdom in Sheol where you are going."

In my words I would say "Whatever I decide to work on be sure to do it to the best of my ability because when I die there is no more opportunity to do any work or planning or learning new things. This is a very brief life and it is all I get to do what I want to do so I need to do it with all my heart and soul."

The most important is to be ready for eternity. Jesus came to explain that to me. When I give my life to Him, He gives me new goals and purposes that are far better than any dreams I might have. Still there is the need to be wholehearted in all I do and make my life the most I possibly can for God's glory.

Lord, thank You for all You have done for me. I want to do all my tasks here on earth with all my heart and soul. I know You deserve the best from me so I purpose to do the tasks You give me the best that I can. Still I know that it is You that is giving me the strength and wisdom to do them.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Devotions 09-10-06

Ecclesiastes 8:9
"Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life, and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun."

Mary Lou and I just returned from our weekend away celebrating our 47th wedding anniversary. I did enjoy the time with my bride which I feel was a gift from God for this Texas farm boy. At 73 I am becoming more and more aware of just how fleeting this life is. The reward of having such a wonderful and beautiful wife and one who loves me so much more than I ever dreamed is truly amazing to me.

We had a great time reading the Psalms of the day and praying for our family and friends. We wept and cried out for those struggling with hard life issues and prayed they would allow a loving God to deliver them. But we also just thought of all the celebrations God has given us these many years. We kissed and hugged and loved as true lovers should. We had perfect freedom with no guilt or things hidden in our past. We had nothing to say but deep appreciation for all we have learned from each other.

I was just thinking this morning how much I need to do this with my Lord. He loves me so much and I love Him deeply as well. I need to get protracted time with Him and just review all we have done together in this new life He has given me.

Lord, it has been truly amazing all You have done for me and Mary Lou and our four children. Now we have 14 grandchildren and we are trusting You to be for them what You have been for us. Lord, keep us faithful and loving You and each other as we should the remaining years of our days on earth. They are fleeting days for sure but we will have eternity with You and Your beautiful eternal Kingdom which will never end. I am looking forward to those years without end.

Devotions 08-10-06

Ecclesiastes 7: 19-20
"Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins."

Let me share what the Message translation does with these verses.
"Wisdom puts more strength in one wise person than ten strong men give to a city. There is not one totally good person on earth, not one who is truly pure and sinless."

Wisdom is indeed a very valuable item to possess. So how do I get wisdom? Only God can give me the wisdom that is true wisdom. James 1:5 says "If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." So why do I not ask God more frequently
for this precious wisdom that is so valuable to living life? I guess I do not ask because of my sin and pride. I think that is what verse 20 is saying to me. So what should I do? Stay in a close relationship with God through Jesus Christ and cry out to God for wisdom in making every decision.

I must keep my relationship with God always clear and not allow sin to cloud my relationship with Him. I must seek and ask Him continually for wisdom in dealing with all of life's many issues. Lord help me to be truly humble and aware that I sin so very easily. Lord, I want to hate sin and love righteousness!

Devotions 07-10-06

Ecclesiastes 7: 11-12
"Wisdom along with an inheritance is good and an advantage to those who see the sun. For wisdom is protection just as money is protection. But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors.

Let me express this in my own words and maybe that will help understand this passage a little more.

Wisdom and getting an inheritance is good and an advantage to those who are healthy and well. An inheritance is a gift from someone and it gives me a boost in business or in my personal life but without wisdom I can lose it by poor decisions. So I need wisdom in handling any inheritance so it is not lost to foolish actions.

Wisdom and money is good but they need correct application. That is why wisdom is the most important because it protects and preserves me in whatever I have or possess. This wisdom is not just the wisdom of the world but the wisdom that is based on God's perspective. There is a big difference and I must be careful to follow the wisdom of God and not the wisdom of the world.

Lord I am grateful for the wisdom You have given me. I am not sure I have used it as carefully as I should. True wisdom from God must be carefully and prayerfully followed in all that I do. It is so easy to make impulsive and unwise decisions that will hurt me and the ones I love. Help me Lord to seek Your wisdom and to apply it to all I do in this life You have given me!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Devotions 06-10-06

Ecclesiastes 6: 12
"For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?"

One of the big tricks of satan is to sprinkle truth into what is basically true. So Solomon has been caught in satan's trap by speaking of truth with some lies thrown in by his enemy, satan. It is only the Holy Spirit that can expose the lies that satan interweaves into statements of truth.

The first question is who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his life. The lie is that it is not futile it has a very clear purpose with God. Who knows what is good for a man? It is God who has created us and wants to have a relationship with us. Yes, our life is like a shadow but it will have a great meaning and purpose when it is directed by God.

So what will come after me only God knows that but I can have an influence on the future by investing in my children or others that God gives me to minister to during the course of my life. If we are truly obedient to the Lord then God will guide us in preparing the next generation for the work that God has for them.

So the conclusion is that life is not futile but one of purpose and blessing when I am living it as God would have me live it. There are people to bring to Christ and to help build the eternal Kingdom of God. It is to rescue people from sin and darkness and the traps of the evil one to guide them to the eternal blessings of God and life that goes beyond this life. This life is very brief, much like a shadow, but in Christ we have eternal life.

Today is my 47th Anniversary of my wedding to Mary Lou the joy of my life and such a blessing to me everyday. Lord, I am so grateful for these many years of learning together what it means to love someone as You have taught us to love.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Devotions 05-10-06

Ecclesiastes 5:18
"Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward."

This sounds so much like a liberal Christian who claims to be a Christian but does not speak of God in a personal way. He recognizes God but does not include Him in every facet of life. So the need to enjoy life and enjoy one's work is so important but there is more to life than this.

Life is full when God is with me in my work, my living, and in my pleasures. It is God that gives me satisfaction and not the tasks or the pleasures that I do. It is worship of God and sharing Him with others who do not know Him that gives a purpose to life beyond what I am doing. Solomon is missing all of this and that is why he drifted away from God as he got older.

What a wonderful privilege to be God's servant and to be working to build God's Kingdom which is eternal. Life is not full of vanity but full of purpose and joy and seeing God do amazing things in the lives of those just getting to know Him.

Devotions 04-10-06

Ecclesiastes 5: 1-2
"Guard you steps as you go to the house of God, and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few."

There is an important attitude of respect I should have as I come into God's presence. If I am untaught in the scriptures I may approach God with very little respect and awe. This is not good. I am to come to God to learn and not tell Him how He should fix things. I must not be hasty with my words or allow my mind to spew out thoughts that are disrespectful to a Holy God.

If I am foolish and offer sacrifices that are inappropriate to a Holy God I could find my self doing evil rather than good. This is worth some thought. I sure do not want to be doing evil when I think I am doing good. The conclusion is that I need to make my words few. Share what is on my heart with God but do it with careful and thought through words. He is God above everything and I am on the earth. That is a very big difference. I must respect that difference with my reverence for who God is.

Lord, forgive me for my irreverence for You when I come into Your presence. I do want to listen to what You have to tell me in the Word more than what I have to say to You. I know both are important but as one needing to learn much I need to say few words and do a lot of listening to You.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Devotions 03-10-06

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls,the one will lift up his companion. But woe is the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can over-power him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

When I look at these thoughts I come up with four important truths. How to do work. How to support each other. How to encourage each other. And how to have strength.

In most tasks it is better to have two or more working together to get the job done quickly and correctly. If one of us makes a mistake the other one will catch it and we accomplish the work well. I think we all appreciate encouragement from those we are working with and I think that is the warmth we need from others. We also face problems and obstacles and I often get discouraged but my companion can give me strength.

It is important that the two of us appreciate each other and are working in harmony with each other. I must be careful to take serious thought of these important principles. This is especially important in a marriage.

This week I celebrate my 47th year married to Mary Lou. I am grateful for others who have helped me to realize the importance of these truths in our marriage. We have benefited so much by not being independent but interdependent. We need each other so we can be more effective and enjoy the life God gives us together in a greater way.

This is the first time I have linked all four of these verses together and seen how they support the power of unity and team. I thank You Lord for this past weekend in how you enabled us to begin to function as a team. We have a long ways to go but I trust this is the beginning of seeing believers in Estonia working together to make disciples for our Lord Jesus.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Devotions 02-10-06

Ecclesiastes 3: 17
I said to myself, "God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man," for a time for every matter and for every deed is there.

In reading Ecclesiastes I have concluded that it is not very easy to understand and it requires more of a study than just a casual reading. I do not have time to do a study but will try to glean what I can from a meditative reading.

What stands out to me is that there is a time in which God will judge the righteous as to what they have done with their time and what they have done for enjoyment or pleasure and for whatever work they have done. In another translation matter was translated as delight so I have used the word pleasure for delight.

II Cor 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."

This is what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the New Testament. So it is something to take careful note of since this truth is in both the Old and the New Testament of the Bible.

This is a good reminder to me that I must not be careless of my time or what I do in my life because God will judge the way I use my life someday. It is a good reminder because I do want to use my life in the best way. I know God's way is best. God always has my best interest in His heart.

Lord, help me to be so very conscious of how I use my minutes and hours of the day You give to me. I think I have become a little careless in how I use my time and I want to change that. I must use my time to be in the Bible more and seek to evaluate my applications in my Devotions better than I have. Thank You Lord for the health and strength You have given to me so I might serve You in building Your Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.

Devotions 01-10-06

Ecclesiastes 3: 11
He (G0d) has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

God is the soverign Lord who is in control of all things; He is timeless. He has set eternity in my heart ( a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy), yet there is a limit to what I know about what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Some day I will know in eternity all that God has done for me and those I love and how He has taken care of me and brought me into a wonderful relationship with Him.

Lord I can never praise You enough for all You have done for me and my loved ones. I am so very grateful for Mary Lou and Steve and Melissa, Melanie, David and Michelle and Eric and Lori. Life is so short and it is wonderful to know that eternity is ahead of us to enjoy and to be in God's presence.