Sunday, May 31, 2015


Sunday 5-31-15 (La Lucila, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  Prov 16-18    Rom 12

S.  Rom 12:6-11 God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you.  If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching.  If your gift is to encourage others, do it!  If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.  NLT

O.  God generously offers each of us special gifts.  They are not like toys given to a small child to play with.  The child’s sister reaches out to touch her brother’s gift… and it is snatched out of her hand before she can grip it.  “Mine!” 

A.  We sometimes are like little children.  We play with our gift.  We cherish our gift.  We show it off to others to enjoy the applause and their congratulations, but don’t you dare touch it.  “Mine!” 

When I was a teenager I had the gift of tearing up a car by drag racing the other guy at the signal light.  But my sister’s husband was an expert mechanic who shared his gifts and even totally rebuilt my engine for free.  I did the highly technical job of cleaning up the greasy, filthy old parts.  I watched how he did it and learned just enough to mess it up again.

Every one of God’s generous gifts listed above is designed to bless others.  Am I sharing my gift?  If not, I have missed God’s design and purpose.

P.  Lord, it seems I have the gift of messing up my faithful laptop, but You gave me a friend that has the gift of untangling jumbled computers.  He has the gift of helps… of serving others.  He hears from me quite often.  You know me, Lord.  I watch how he does it and learn just enough to mess it up again.

I thank you, Lord, for so many friends that lavish their generous gifts on me.  They cook meals for me and even wash the dishes afterward.  Some pray for me every day.  They bless me 100 ways.  Now help me to know that my gifts are really not “Mine”.  They are only “Mine” to give away.  All Your gifts to me are designed to help and bless others. Amen.


PS.  When I was a ministerial student at Western Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary of Portland, Oregon (Now referred to as Western Baptist Seminary) one of the three founders, 82 year old Dr. Milliken, was one of my favorite professors.  I was a Pentecostal student in a Baptist seminary.  I privately asked him what his thoughts were about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.  His answer has never left me: “Ralph, seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but when you have received God’s gift, don’t think that now you have ‘got it’.  There is no limit to the gifts of God.”

Friday, May 29, 2015

My Personal Faithful Trouble-Maker

Saturday 5-30-15 (La Lucila, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  Prov 13-15    Rom 11

S.  Prov 14:4  An empty stable stays clean, but no income comes from an empty stable. NLT

O.  The more we prosper, the more we have to clean the stable.

A.  I once had a friend that accepted the task of serving as pastor of a troubled church.  He felt that he had identified the guilty ones and started cleaning the stable.  Soon he could brag that he had a “trouble-free church”… because the seats were now empty.

I had another friend that had a “trouble-maker” in his church.  He told me that he felt that the Lord placed that person in his church for his personal benefit.  He said he was learning and growing in character from the difficult experiences apparently caused by his “faithful trouble-maker.” 

A church full of new converts is a mess.  But it is a glorious mess.  The pastor and his helpers have to be cleaning up differences and squalls behind each crowded meeting.  A clean church is an empty church.

P.   Lord, give it to them!  Whip ‘em good!  Hear me!  I’m pleading to You to change them… and instead You start working on my heart to change me.  Just ‘taint fair!’  I know I am in the right, Lord.  My two best deacons agree with me!  The other three just don’t have the facts.  Hey Lord, are you even listening to me?  You are?  Oh!  And now You have something to say to me?  But Lord, I haven’t spelled out the facts yet.  Oh!  You already know the facts?  Okay, Lord, You win!  You win!  You always win!  I guess You placed them there to polish me into a brighter, shining light.  I hope it works.  Oh!  It will if I let it?  Let’s talk about it tomorrow.  I think I have had all I can swallow for today.  Amen.  


Turn off the flow

Friday 5-29-15 (Martinez, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  Prov 10-12    Rom 10

S.  Prov 10:19  Don't talk too much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and turn off the flow!  NLT

O.  This one doesn’t need a wordy explanation.

A.  I have been reading a massive volume of all of Abraham Lincoln’s writings, including his speeches.  (Actually my “Kindle” has been reading this extensive volume to me through my car audio as I drive these endless highways.)  I have just arrived at his election as the first Republican president over the extreme protests of the south… and the Democrats who defended their rights to keep black slaves.  No president ever took office in a more tense situation. 

The first weeks he was traveling from Springfield, Illinois to Washington DC.  At dozens of stops along the way the public and the press pushed him to make a speech.  He addressed and greeted each crowd briefly, but in the face of the volatile atmosphere, he wisely refused to make political comments.  Even in his inaugural address he laid out only one basic principle: that he would abide strictly by the constitution of the USA and not interfere with those states that had already for many decades practiced slavery.  Even so, his opposing politicians stirred the leaders of five southern states to secede from the Union of the States and attempt to form their own country.  Talk about a hot potato!

P.  Oh Lord, teach me when to hold my tongue.  I confess, my mouth is quicker than my brain.  A spoken word cannot be retrieved.  I need Your wisdom and guidance every day of my life and in every situation.  May I speak quickly to bless others and be slow to criticize them!  I thank You for great leaders like Abraham Lincoln that referred often to You and to Your Word as he promoted the eradication of the evil treatment of those born with dark skin.  I pray that You will give us fresh, new political leadership that dares to honor You.  Amen.


And… Just for fun… I’ll toss in this nugget written by King Solomon who knew what he was talking about since he had a whole harem of them.  Prov 11:22 A woman who is beautiful but lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig's snout.  NLT  The king had a way with words!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Life in a drop of water

Thursday 5-28-15 (Tres Arroyos, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  Prov 7-9    Rom 9

S.  Prov 8:22-26  The LORD formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else.  I was appointed in ages past, at the very first, before the earth began.  I was born before the oceans were created, before the springs bubbled forth their waters.  Before the mountains and the hills were formed, I was born —   before he had made the earth and fields and the first handfuls of soil.  NLT

O.  Wisdom is personified.  She is speaking to us.  She was there in the mind of God before anything was created.  She was involved in the creation of the first handfuls of soil. 

A.  I was studying biology in high school.  Our professor encouraged us to find a pond of stagnant water and bring a sample to class.  I remember placing a drop of this water on a clean slide and focusing the powerful microscope on it.  First there was nothing, then as I changed the focus I saw something moving.  I followed it and refocused.  Now there were others.  They were strange living creatures darting about!  There was vast variety, a whole world of life, movement and reproduction… living creatures doing their thing… in single drop of water.  When studied further, we discovered that each of these living creatures was perfectly balanced with all the necessary delicate parts for sustaining and propagating life.  Awesome indeed!

Men, more intelligent than I, claim it was all an accident.  Somehow the right balance of ingredients were stirred together and “poof!”… life happened.  And all of us can examine that protozoa and if we pay big money to get ‘higher learning’ from the finest minds, we can learn to speak to the protozoa and say, “Hello!  You are my great, great grandfather!”

God’s Holy Word says something about “True Wisdom.” She is calling to these brilliant men.  But they are not listening.  They have a common hidden agenda.  They want to eliminate the ancient, superstitious idea of a Creator God.  If they can just get God out of the picture… if they can reason Him away… then they can live as they wish… and coast down the slippery path to… well, you know where.    

P.  Dear Lord, how did we ever get so smart?  Please help me to lend a listening ear to Your Wisdom.  Let me read her words, absorb her teaching and live her axioms.  I may be taken for an ignorant old man… but I will be a happy, ignorant old man… headed for Your glorious eternal home prepared for those who place their trust in Your Wisdom and not theirs.  Amen.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Make-Over

Wednesday 5-27-15 (Tres Arroyos, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  Prov 4-6    Rom 8

S.  Rom 8:29-30  For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters.  And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised them his glory.  NLT

O.  God knows His people.  God chose His people to become like His Son.  God called His people.  God gave His people justification.  And He promises to glorify His people. 

A.  What a series of events!  God knew me before I knew myself.  He knew I was a scamp and a potential rascal, but He chose me anyway.  Then He called to me… “Hey you, Yes, you, Ralph… I am calling you to follow me!”  It was and is an invitation to join myself to Him and His cause.  The word “call” now shifts the choice into my hands.  He “calls” to each of us… “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)  

I was a mess.  I was hell-bound.  I was without hope.  But He called me anyway!  He called and I chose to drop my toys and trinkets to follow Him.  He called me to make me into something I was not.  He offered me a total “make-over.”  He called me to become like His Son.  “Please keep working on me God.  I’ve got a long ways to go.”  Then He justified me…  canceled my debt... took my hell… and let His innocent Son, Jesus, take my death sentence!  And on top of it all He promises for me something called “glory.”  Known, chosen, called, justified and glorified!  What a package!  And it’s offered free to all!

P.  Dear God, it’s not all over yet.  This is a life-long process.  I am still in formation.  You still have this chunk of mud on Your Potter’s wheel.  It’s still spinning.  Douse me… soften me with the water of Your Holy Spirit.  And as I yield again to You today… Oh!  I can feel Your wonderful, gentle hands shaping me into something better, something more beautiful, something more useful… someone more like Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Treasure Map

Tuesday 5-26-15 (Coronel Dorrego, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  Prov 1-3    Rom 7

S.  Prov 2:2-7  Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  Cry out for insight and understanding.  Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure.  Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God.  For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly.  NLT

O.  The book of Proverbs is presented like a chest filled with treasures, each to be lifted out with care, then placed upon dark velvet to examine with bright light and a magnifying glass.  Every diamond will have several facets, every pearl and every gold nugget will serve to bring me more wisdom, knowledge and understanding.  

A.  Now as I dive into the God-inspired book of proverbs I am reminded of my childhood.  We played games of hidden treasure.  We were men who had discovered a secret treasure map.  I remember carefully drawing the maps for the game.  It sometimes included the whole neighborhood, with all the houses in place, the little store on the corner and the trees… especially the trees which were abundant.  Trees were markers.  We would get our first clue map and try to beat the others to the treasure site.  But the treasure we found there was only a map or clue to another site.  We ran and laughed and counted steps and calculated to locate the right tree and look for the secret mark just below the lowest limb.  Then we would take seven large steps due north from that tree and look under that big rock.  No not that rock… the other one!

I am going to enter God’s book of Proverbs like a treasure hunt.  Wisdom and knowledge lie hidden under that rock.  It’s going to be fun.  It’s going to bring laughter.  It may even bring tears.  What am I waiting for… 3, 2, 1… let’s GO!

P.  Father God, Your Word is filled with hidden treasure.  Sometimes we have to lift a heavy rock to discover its secret meaning.  But it is a joyous search.  Your Word becomes a living thing!  It calls to us, admonishes us, warns us, points us to another truth over there in another section.  We can study it for a life-time and never exhaust its supply of jewels.  

What a book!  It is not a treasure to decorate the book shelf.  Lord, I hear that some people sleep with the Bible under the pillow for good luck.  But You gave me a better idea.  You say, “Search it!  Read it!  Devour it!  It will straighten out Your crooked paths.  It will lead you to eternal life!”  Amen. 


Monday, May 25, 2015

Choose Your Master!

Monday 5-25-15 (Bahia Blanca, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  1 Kings 10-11    2 Chron 9     Rom 6

S.  Rom 6:6-7  Rom 6:6-7  We are no longer slaves to sin.  For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.  NLT

Vs 16-18  Don't you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval.  Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you have obeyed with all your heart the new teaching God has given you.  Now you are free from sin, your old master, and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness. NLT

O.  What a simple and yet profound declaration!  This entire chapter clarifies the before and after of every sinner saved by God’s grace… every Christian.  Once we were… but now we are…

A.  Once I was a slave to sin.  Sinful desires dominated my life.  Now I have surrendered to my new Master… and His name is Righteousness.  Oh! His name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isa 9:6  His name is Jesus!

P.  Lord of Heaven and Earth, I have chosen to be governed by Your rule.  Keep me close to You.  Never let me stray as King Solomon did in his last days.  A man once renowned for his God-given gift of wisdom, stumbled and stooped to the foolishness of worshipping the idols of his many foreign wives. 

Lord Jesus, I was just a little child when I chose to become Your love-slave.  I was conquered by Your love.  And yes, again this morning I am conquered by Your love.  May You be my Master and King forever!  Amen.


Peace with God

Sunday 5-24-15 (Bahia Blanca, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  1 Kings 9    2 Chron 8    Ps 136     Rom 5

S.  Rom 5:1  Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. NLT

Vs 6 …we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. NLT

Vs 11  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God — all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God. NLT

O.  Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we can finally be at peace with a perfectly Holy God.  That is an awesome concept!

A.  Because of Jesus I can bathe in the sunshine of God’s love and favor… reconciled at last.  I am at peace with God!

P.  As time passes by I am in danger to taking this wonderful fact for granted.  But the Apostle Paul has brought me back to the immensity of this privilege.  And all I can offer is my love and thankfulness to the One Who made it possible… my Jesus! Amen.


Saturday, May 23, 2015


Saturday 5-23-15 (Pedro Luro, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  2 Chron 6-7    Ps 135     Rom 4

S.  2 Chron 7:14-16 “…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.  I will listen to every prayer made in this place, for I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be my home forever. My eyes and my heart will always be here.  NLT

2 Chron 7:19-20 "But if you abandon me and disobey the laws and commands I have given you, and if you go and worship other gods, then I will uproot the people of Israel from this land of mine that I have given them.  I will reject this Temple that I have set apart to honor my name.” NLT

O.  God makes an awesome promise to His people.  He has chosen to set this temple apart to be home for his presence forever.  Predestined!  That is powerful!  Oh!  But there is a little word attached to this promise… “if”.  “If” my people… will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways… But “if” you abandon me and disobey… then “I will reject this Temple…” Wow!

A.  What does this mean to me?  It means that God makes choices for our good, choices designed for our eternal happiness.  He promises to never leave us nor forsake us.  Jesus declares in John 15, that we have not chosen Him, but He has chosen us… to go and bring forth fruit that will last forever.  Great!  Paul clarifies in Romans 8:29-30 that “God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son…” NLT  The same verse is translated, “And those he predestined…” in the NIV. 

So many men, more brilliant than I, think that God has chosen a few of us and left out all the rest.  But then we read in 1 Tim 2:3-4  “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”  KJV  Then again in 2 Peter 3:9  “The Lord… is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” KJV  And I for one, believe that word “all” means “all.”  God’s love and salvation is extended toward us all.  Hallelujah!  But then there is this little word “if”.  God chose Solomon’s wonderful temple to place His presence “forever.” That was God’s choice… It was His promise… It was predestined to be!  Yet a moment later He attached the “if” clause. 

To me this says, “Hurrah!  God chose me!  So now I am given the privilege to choose Him.  I am extended the glorious option to live in His presence.  However, He refuses to violate my option to refuse Him.  I am chosen, but not forced into His heaven. 

P.  Oh wonderful, Holy Lord of love, mercy and justice… I find my little brain to be a limited instrument to take in Your greatness.  So in my childlike ignorance I have chosen Your choices over mine.  You know what is best for me.  I want what You want.  You have called my name and said, “Come and follow me!”  I have been chosen!  What a powerful truth!  Now again… and again… I reconfirm my choice to follow You forever.  You fill my heart with calm and confidence, for You hold my hand as I step through all the booby-traps of this life… as You lead me to Your glorious paradise.  Amen.


Friday, May 22, 2015

God doesn’t fit in my box

Friday 5-22-15 (Viedma, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  1 Kings 8    2 Chron 5    Ps 99     Rom 3

S.  1 Kings 8:27 "But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built!”
Acts 7:46-50 "David found favor with God and asked for the privilege of building a permanent Temple for the God of Jacob.   But it was Solomon who actually built it. However, the Most High doesn't live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says, 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.  Could you ever build me a temple as good as that?' asks the Lord.  'Could you build a dwelling place for me?  Didn't I make everything in heaven and earth?'” NLT

O.  King David wanted to honor God by building a beautiful temple for Him.  His son, King Solomon actually followed its detailed design and built it.  Perfectly cut stones were set together, cedar walls and ceilings were covered with solid gold.  Literally tons of gold went into this unique building.  Then God honored Solomon by filling the temple with His holy presence on the day of its dedication, but the greatness of God, the Creator could not be enclosed in four walls… even if they were solid gold. 

Later Stephen, in his speech of defense before the Sanhedrin, declared it so elegantly… and was stoned to death for uncovering the spiritual rebellion of God’s people.

A.  David and Solomon should have realized that such a glorious temple, full of priceless gold and precious stones, would tempt every enemy to crash through the gates of the city and carry away its treasures.  And yes, that day came later.  Today we who are believers are declared to be temples of the living God.  The same Holy Spirit that filled Solomon’s magnificent temple on the day of its dedication, now is offered to us who place our faith in Christ.  The God Who cannot be confined to a solid gold box of any size, now offers to live in us.

P.  Lord, I do not leave this city of Viedma to drive the highways of Argentina alone.  Your glorious Holy Spirit goes with me.  I am not worthy of such high honor, but now, because You, Jesus, paid the price for my guilt, I can become a temple of God.  May I live a life before others that displays the beauty of Your holy presence!  Amen.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Who am I to judge God?

Thursday 5-21-15 (Viedma, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  1 Kings 7    2 Chron 4    Ps 98     Rom 2

S.  Ps 98:9  For the LORD is coming to judge the earth.  He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness. NLT

Rom 2:5-8 For there is going to come a day of judgment when God, the just judge of all the world, will judge all people according to what they have done.  He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers.  But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds.  NLT

O.  Both the Old Testament and the New teach clearly about a coming judgment day.  God is called the “Just Judge”.  The Word clarifies that He will judge severely against sinners.  It is obvious throughout scripture that Our Holy God sees sin much darker and more grievous than we see it.  In chapter 3 Paul clarifies that all have sinned and are thus duly condemned.  But there is hope.  Some will “seek after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers.”  Later in this great treatise on God’s offer of salvation, written to the Romans, Paul clearly presents that “offer” as a free gift, purchased at great cost by Jesus, and waiting to be received by condemned sinners. 

A.  I am acquainted with people who stumble over the harsh presentation of a tormenting hell.  I believe God’s message is trying to convey to us the desperate seriousness of sin in the eyes of a holy God.  It presents the apparent hopelessness of the situation that we have placed ourselves in, but then tosses us a life-saver.  When we grip it, trusting in his gift of salvation, we have the assurance of “the glory and honor and immortality that God offers.”

P.  Dear Lord Jesus, the story of Your life, Your sacrificial death and resurrection is clearly presented in Your Word.  And You plainly tell us that when we have seen You, we have seen the Father.  If we can trust You, we can trust the Father.  And now, Father, we are assured that You will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness.  Yes, I suffer for those who are marching down the road toward a future of an eternal hell in separation from You.  I cry out for Your mercy to reach them.  But I must understand that I am in no way qualified to judge Your just judgment.  So I will hang my eternal destiny upon Your wonderful “offer of glory and honor and immortality”, Your merciful offer of the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior.  Amen.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Silence please, Holy Temple in construction

Wednesday 5-20-15 (Viedma, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  1 Kings 6    2 Chron 3    Ps 97     Rom 1

S.  1 Kings 6:7  The stones used in the construction of the Temple were prefinished at the quarry, so the entire structure was built without the sound of hammer, ax, or any other iron tool at the building site.  NLT

O.  Where was the stone quarry located?  For sure it was not at the new temple site.  How big were these stones?  I assume by their descriptions that each one weighed several tons.  What kind of precision measuring device did they use to cut them so that each one would fit perfectly in its place according to the plan?  What did they use to transport them to the building site and then hoist them up into place? 

A.  I imagine myself as the head engineer to complete this task.  I prepare measuring devises for exactness down to one tenth of a millimeter.  I design stone cutting machines that can cut and polish them as smooth as a table-top.  Any stone that is found with even a slight defect is rejected immediately.  I contract a huge crane with capability to lift many tons to serve at the quarry and another at the temple site.  I build a special road from the quarry to the temple site.  Then I call for a huge truck with at least six axles with sets of duals and a diesel powered tractor to pull it.  And now I am ordered by King Solomon to not allow a sound of a jack-hammer to be heard at the temple site.  “Thanks a lot, buddy!”  How is that for a challenge even today with all our smarts?

P.  Lord, why was no sound of pounding hammers allowed at the temple site?  You know that would challenge even the best craftsmen among us today.  I believe it was probably because Solomon, and perhaps his father, David, had dedicated this site to You before the temple was built.  It was considered holy ground.  I can imagine the king’s musicians quietly and solemnly playing their instruments and singing as each stone was lifted and “hallelujahs” rising from their lips to You, Lord as each one was set in its place.  The whole project was done in Your honor.  Every stone and beam was a gift to You. 

Sadly, one day this golden gleaming temple would be destroyed and its gold stolen by invaders.  So what am I building today?  Will it stand when invaders rush in?  I stand today on holy ground and declare my heart’s desire, with Your help, dear Lord, to leave behind an eternal heritage… living stones in Your forever temple.  Amen.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Apostle Paul’s Work Ethic

Tuesday 5-19-15 (Valcheta, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  1 Kings 4-5    2 Chron 2    Ps 101     2 Thess 3

S.  2 Thess 3:12-13  Settle down and get to work.  Earn your own living.  And I say to the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good. NLT

O.  The Apostle Paul was well acquainted with the Thessalonian congregation.  Apparently he was aware of some that were lazy, hanging around mooching off others who were working hard.  He has lots of good things to say about this congregation, but makes some pretty strong statements related to these lazy Christians.  “Hey, you are a big boy now.  Settle down and go get a real job.” 

A.  We were starting a church in Merlo, near Buenos Aires.  A young couple had just had a new baby and were showing him off in our crusade tent.  The young father was taking on odd jobs here and there, but was not “bringing in the bacon”, as we used to say.  I heard about a large reliable business in the area that was hiring young workers and suggested to him that he put in his name.  But he let me know that he was not interested in a “real job that would tie him down.”  He did not want an 8 AM to 5 PM job.  He preferred little jobs that would leave him plenty of free time.  So here is Brother Paul sending this young father a word of wisdom.  “Hey boy, you are a daddy now.  Go get yourself a real job!”

P.  Lord, I thank you for a father that had a healthy work ethic and passed that on to me.  Yes, Lord, You remember that during the worse part of the great depression my father worked two full-time jobs to support his family… and almost never missed a Sunday church service.  I also thank You that each of our three sons have honored that same work ethic and even in difficult moments have never come to their daddy for help, but rather have concerned themselves about us: their parent’s, welfare.  Now, Lord Jesus, I pray that You would always bless them with not only material success, but with a close relationship with You and a true Christian heart that “never gets tired of doing good” for others.  Amen.


Monday, May 18, 2015

But Solomon slipped and fell

Monday 5-18-15  (Los Menucos, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  1 Kings 3    2 Chron 1    Ps 78    2 Thess 2

S.  1 Kings 3:1  “Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and married one of his daughters. He brought her to live in the City of David…”

Vs 7-9  “O LORD my God, now you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn't know his way around.  And here I am among your own chosen people, a nation so great they are too numerous to count!  Give me an understanding mind so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great nation of yours?”  NLT

O.  Solomon started out with a humble attitude, recognizing that he needed special wisdom to face such a great task.  Now in a dream he pleads for Godly wisdom.  Yet even before this dream he had taken a step in the wrong direction.  He fell for a pretty foreign woman.  He had made a treaty with Pharoah and taken Pharoah’s daughter as his wife.  I suppose this may have been, in part, a security so that Pharoah would never attack him, but it was precisely against the charge of the Jehovah God, since the Lord had warned the Israelites that foreign women were certain to bring their false gods and religions with them. 

A.  Solomon was given a great deal of wisdom and used it to judge God’s people, construct the temple and maintain peace for many years, yet as the years passed he allowed women to be his downfall.  Solomon is my mentor.  His story is written in God’s manual for my spiritual health and moral conduct.  Solomon was used of God to give us proverbs of great wisdom, yet he allowed the women in his life to pull him down into the pit of their pagan rituals.  

Nehemiah later writes of Solomon; “Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women.”  Neh 13:26  NIV

P.  Oh God, how we need your help to keep us men out of trouble!  We are born sinners.  Our eyes seem pre-programmed to look where we should not look.  Strange women become “every man’s battle.”  And now with internet access, while we are all alone in secret behind closed doors, we have their images flashed before us and calling to us.  Oh God, give us the strength of Your Holy Spirit to take a firm stand and never let Solomon’s downfall become ours.  We must set our hearts to forcibly avoid Satan’s prostitutes and like Joseph of old, we must run… run… run from that dangerous thing that threatens to drag us into this terrible, addictive sin.  Lord Jesus, I pray for myself, my sons, my grandson, my fellow ministers and missionaries.  Keep us from slipping into Solomon’s debasing, hopeless pit.  Amen.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

He gambled with grace

Saturday 5-16-15  (Ingeniero Jacobacci, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  1 Kings 2    1 Chron 29    Ps 95     2 Thess 1

S.  1 Kings 2:38  Shimei replied, "Your sentence is fair; I will do whatever my lord the king commands." So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for a long time.  NLT

O.  Here in brief is the story of a man named Shimei.  King David stepped off his throne to flee from Jerusalem as his son, Absalom was approaching with his rebel army, he escaped to the wilderness along with his faithful group of personal guards.   Now on a hillside just out of reach, this guy Shimei, followed King David’s group screaming curses on David and throwing rocks and dirt at him.  David’s body-guards asked David for permission to cross the ravine and cut off Shimei’s head, but David was doing all in his power to keep from bloodshed and allowed him to continue to taunt and curse him.  

Now many years had passed and Solomon had taken the throne.  David gave Solomon some final instructions… and one was to use his godly wisdom to deal with Shimei’s evil attitude.  David was now dead and King Solomon summoned Shimei to court.  Surely he was expecting to be executed immediately, but instead wise Solomon placed him under house arrest, allowing him to build his own home in Jerusalem, but never to leave the city or he would be executed.  Shimei was relieved and gladly agreed to the justice of the sentence.  But after three peaceful years, Shimei, broke his parole terms to go to another city to chase down two of his slaves that had escaped from his home.  Again Shimei was arrested and this time executed according to the agreed sentence.

A.  Why did this man, Shimei, die prematurely?  First, he played the role of an evil fool… following and cursing King David as he did.  But King David gave him grace.  Then, when he was finally called to court, he agreed to his sentence as just and right.  Again he was given grace.  

He was allowed limited freedom and, like many of his day, he had house slaves.  Two of them ran away.  Slaves usually did not flee unless they were badly mistreated.  I would assume that this man, Shimei, was a cruel taskmaster… cursing and whipping his slaves mercilessly.  But now he breaks his parole and leaves town to recapture them.  He thinks no one will notice.  He comes into town proudly with his two recovered slaves, probably bloody from being cruelly whipped and in chains.  But now Shimei is arrested and called to justice again and this time executed.  In short, Shimei gambled with the grace and justice given him and died the death of a fool.

P.  Okay God, here is one of my mentors named Shimei.  You allowed his story to be in Your wonderful book for me to learn from him.  You want me to see how to carefully guard, with holy living, the wonderful grace that You have allowed me.  I am among the guilty.  I deserve the death sentence along with every sinner, but You have showed me mercy instead.  Your divine grace and love has opened the door to eternal safety for me.  Help me to cherish Your gift of everlasting life and in return give You my unfailing love.  Amen.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Get to know God

Saturday 5-16-15  (Ingeniero Jacobacci, Argentina)
Scripture reading:  1 Kings 1    1 Chron 28    Ps 91     1 Thess 5

S.  1 Chron 28:9-10 "And Solomon, my son, get to know the God of your ancestors. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and with a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and understands and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” 

Vs 20  "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the LORD God, my God, is with you.”  NLT

O.  David was very old.  He was giving his final instructions to Solomon who would replace him on the throne of Israel.  He gave him the detailed plans for the building of the temple, complete with the expert team ready to go to work.  But the most important of all David’s words to his son may have been these: “Get to know the God of your ancestors.  Worship and serve him with your whole heart and with a willing mind.”  Solomon, it is up to you.  Strive to know God for “If you seek him, you will find him” for yourself.

A.  David had accumulated extreme amounts of gold and silver during his reign.  This all fell into the hands of young Solomon to administer and use in the building of the temple.  However, what he could not do was pass his relationship with God on to his son.  He could only encourage him to “Get to know God.”  

If I could, I would lift up my sons and my grandchildren and place them on the Jesus road and keep them there… but alas, I find that each one must make that decision for themselves.  All I can do is instruct them in God’s ways and encourage them to “Get to know God” for themselves.

P.  Dear God, my Creator… You have taken giant steps toward us to allow us to know You.  You sent Your Son to us Who said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9 NLT  How wonderful to truly know You!  Still I long to know You more, to be drawn closer to You.  And I pray that each of my descendants may seek You and find a beautiful relationship with You through your Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit, the Comforter that He sent to us.  May each of them “Get to know God” for themselves!  Amen


Friday, May 15, 2015

A friend of the King

Friday 5-15-15  (Lago Puelo, Argentina)
Scripture reading:     1 Chron 25-27    1 Thess 4

S.  1 Chron 27:32-33  Jonathan, David's uncle, was a wise counselor to the king, a man of great insight, and a scribe. Jehiel the Hacmonite was responsible to teach the king's sons.   Ahithophel was the royal adviser. Hushai the Arkite was the king's friend.  NLT

O.  1 Chronicles has just listed the names and duties of David’s hundreds of musicians, then the gatekeepers, the keepers of the treasury, the military commanders and divisions, the leaders of the tribes, right down to the officials in charge of his sheep and camels… then, after naming his top advisors, comes this wonderful statement “Hushai the Arkite was the king's friend.”  Hushai is mentioned 9 times in 2 Samuel and once here in the Chronicles.  Several times he is referred to as David’s friend.  Hushai has no rank, no official title… except one:  He was the friend of the king.

A.  I wanted to be one of the king’s musicians until I read this.  Then I decided I would rather be the king’s friend.

P.  Dear Lord Jesus, my King, my Master.  I don’t want to be remembered as a musician, a ventriloquist or even a preacher.  I would rather be written up some day as a friend of the King of kings… one who stands with You and shows You love even when passing through times of distress and trouble.  Just let me be Your friend.  Amen.


Who am I that you are mindful of me
That you hear me, when I call
Is it true that you are thinking of me
How you love me, it's amazing (Who am I Lord)
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend
God Almighty
Lord of Glory
You have called me friend

Tuning up for Heaven

Thursday 5-14-15  (Lago Puelo, Argentina)
Scripture reading:     1 Chron 22-24    1 Thess 3

S.  1 Chron 23:4-5  Then David said, "Twenty-four thousand of them will supervise the work at the Temple of the LORD.  Six thousand are to serve as officials and judges.  Four thousand will work as gatekeepers, and another four thousand will praise the LORD with the musical instruments I have made." Vs 30  And each morning and evening they stood before the LORD to sing songs of thanks and praise to him.  NLT

O.  David was closing down his reign as king and turning over the kingdom to his son, Solomon.  But before stepping down he organized carefully thousands of people to participate in the building of the beautiful temple of the Lord.  There were many kinds of groups and activities.  One of these was comprised of 4,000 Levites set aside to praise the Lord with instruments that had been made under David’s supervision. 

Oh!  So, among other things, David designed, supervised and operated a musical instrument factory!  I think I learn something new from the Bible every day!

A.  If I had been there I would have wanted to be chosen to praise the Lord with a “David” brand instrument.  He no doubt had the finest carpenters, the best artisans in metals of all kinds… true artists in every field designing and producing a wide variety of stringed and wind instruments. 

I remember back many years ago when I was an associate pastor and working as bus driver for the school systems.  On a few occasions I drove the students to a convention center where music students gathered from many cities to form a huge band.  I’ll never forget the sound before the event started as hundreds of students were tuning up their instruments… violins, cellos, guitars, flutes, clarinets, trumpets, trombones, baritones, saxophones, tubas… and more.  The result was a single roar of unpleasant discord.  Then when they finally were ready, came a wonderful silence… and a single director raised his baton and actually produced genuine music out of that huge group.  They were children and adolescents.  It wasn’t a professional sound, but it was music to the ears of their parents and friends that were listening. 

Is Our Father listening to our music?  Does He cover His ears while we are tuning up?  Does He like the sound of our praise and worship?  Who are we singing to, anyway?  Most of us are not professionals. 

One thing is sure… God, Our Creator, is into music.  I used to ask Him if I could take my Hawaiian Steel guitar to heaven… and one day I think I heard Him say, “I’ve got something better for you.  Wait till you see it!  You’ll love it!”

P.  Lord, I wonder what it will be like to join with thousands of others in Your heaven to sing and play music for You.  I don’t ask You for a place to play a solo.  I don’t seek recognition or applause; I just want my music, my worship to be pleasing to Your ears, both here and in heaven.  May it say to You, “I love You, Lord!”  Amen.


He makes my way safe

Wednesday 5-13-15  (Lago Puelo, Argentina)
Scripture reading:     2 Sam 21-24   1 Chron 21    Ps 30    1 Thess 2

S.  2 Sam 22:33-34  God is my strong fortress; he has made my way safe.  He makes me as surefooted as a deer, leading me safely along the mountain heights.  Vs 37  You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.  NLT

O.  David recognizes God’s protection in his personal life and repeatedly gives God the glory for his survival in difficult circumstances.

A.  Monday morning I was once again made conscious of how marvelously the Lord is protecting me… even in small things.  I had just moved out of my hotel in Esquel, preparing to travel to El Bolson, following the Andes foothills to the north for one hundred miles.  It was a cold, autumn morning.  I loaded up the car, but it refused to start.  It took six tries and finally started on one cylinder, then struggled to two and after a few minutes was running smoothly.  But I recognized that, without attention, on the next cold morning it would never start again.  But the Lord had allowed me to become acquainted with an excellent Christian mechanic in this mountain town, so I drove to his shop.  He immediately dismantled almost everything under the hood, and identified the problem that he suspected.  Three of the four starter heating plugs (like spark plugs) had run their life and were no longer working.  He dashed to buy four new ones before the parts shop closed at noon and in an hour I was on my way. 

But here is the clincher.  While standing around in the cold while he was working I looked for my leather jacket in the car and suddenly realized that I had left it in my hotel room.  I called the hotel.  They found it and had it waiting for me. 

P.  So my dear Lord, here I am laughing and singing.  You tell my car to not start at the right moment… to advise me it is time to replace the heater plugs… just when I am not in a hurry on my only day off… after ministering almost every day of the week.  You supply me with a wonderful Christian mechanic ready to dismantle everything above the engine with obvious expertise, who installs the needed parts and puts it back together again in exactly one hour.  And… I now realize that if the car had started normally… I would have had to return 100 miles to retrieve my leather jacket.  Yes, I am laughing and singing Your praises, thanking You for telling those plugs the perfect time to die… and, like David, I am thanking You, Lord again and again for Your obvious timely care.


PS.  Last night it was after midnight as I drove back to my little rented cabin in Lago Puelo after a wonderful service at El Maiten.  The small city of El Maiten sits on a high plateau.  I had 40 miles to go, much of it is hairpin turns on a lonely, steep mountain road… and I only saw two cars going the opposite way.  These mountains are thick with natural growth of pines and brush… and look exactly like western Oregon where I grew up.   Love it!   I am alone, yet never alone… never a moment of loneliness or fear.  For the God that cares about my car and my leather jacket is with me all the way.  But I admit I keep my personal, assigned guardian angel pretty busy. J

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hey, soldiers…

Monday 5-11-15  (Esquel, Argentina)
Scripture reading:     2 Sam 19-20      Ps 55     Matt 28

S.  Matt 27:63-64  They told him, "Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: 'After three days I will be raised from the dead.'  So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day.  NLT

O.  The scriptures mention several times that the Lord Jesus explained to his disciples about His coming death and resurrection, but in each one of these times they seemed unwilling to accept these facts or so confused that they could not understand.  However, here are some of Jesus’ enemies that did understand what He had said about His resurrection on the third day and they were going to make sure that the disciples weren’t going to fake a resurrection.  So the tomb was officially sealed and guards are set up until after three days.

A.  I am a teenage kid riding my bike alongside the group of guards marching on their way to the tomb.  “Hey, boys, I hear you powerful, well trained soldiers are being ordered to guard the tomb of a dead man.  Do you think you can handle that?  Who knows?  That dead man might just jump up and get you.  Didn’t you and everybody else see Him die?  Didn’t you run a spear deep into His dead body to prove he was dead?  Hey folks!  Look what these powerful Roman troops are going to be doing the next three days.  They are carrying their best weapons to protect themselves from a dead man!”  

These guys had to be embarrassed to be ordered to do such a task.  And worse still, the third day they run… slinking back to their leaders, still shaking, with the story of a bright angel that left them trembling with fear.  “Let’s just tell everyone that we all went to sleep and his disciples broke in a stole his body.”

P.   Lord, they had You covered.  They had Your dead body trapped behind a big stone and sealed with the Roman seal.  The cave did not have a back door.  As far as Rome was concerned You were finished.  But rumors were going around that You were going to rise again the third day.  And when that shining angel appeared Rome trembled and the earth shook.  That did it!  The guards ran like scared mice.  I wonder what it will be like when You return to earth.  Today we have all kinds of props; lights, sound, laser… but we haven’t learned how to shake the earth yet.  You are certain to surprise us with a majestic return.  I can’t wait!  Amen.