Monday, June 29, 2015

Stationed on an Island for a Purpose

Monday 6-29-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  Amos 4-6    Ps 88-89     Titus 1

S.  Titus 1:5  I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there…

2:2-3  Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have strong faith and be filled with love and patience.  Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord.

Vs 6-7  In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely in all they do. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good deeds of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. NLT

O.  Titus, my boy, I left you over there on the island of Crete for a purpose.  You’ve got a job to do.  You may well be the only seasoned Christian voice on that island.  Teach the elderly how to live the Christian life… and the young families as well… and watch your own life, because your attitudes and actions must reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching for it to be effective.

A.  My best sermons can be reduced to only feeble fairy tales when my life does not illustrate what I am saying.  A single failure of a minister or a Christian teacher can destroy and annul years of careful instruction.  Yes, I can hide behind the saying, “None of us are perfect,” but that does not save my lost sons and daughters from seeing my failures and falling away from their faith in Jesus Christ.  God is pushing me on toward perfection.  I must not relax my guard and allow the evil one to destroy my years… my labors of love.

P. I appeal to You, my Heavenly Father, to protect my heart as I run the final laps of this race.  I am surrounded by a fallen world.  You have not called me to hide away in a monastery trying to be holy.  I have been called to talk the talk of Jesus and walk the walk of Jesus as I mingle among men and women, youth and children that have, by no fault of their own, been raised in evil surroundings without a compass to guide them toward You.  Make me conscious of my responsibility to You and to them.  You have stationed me on this “island”, my sphere of influence, for that purpose.  Amen.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Broken and Poured Out

Sunday 6-28-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  Amos 1-3    Ps 80    2 Tim 4

S. 2 Tim 4:6  As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near.  NLT

O.  Saul, who became Paul the Apostle, had been a life “broken and poured out”.  Like the broken seal on the bottle of expensive perfume poured out on the feet of Jesus by a sinner woman, he had been broken on the Damascus Road and spent the rest of his life being poured out for Jesus.  Now only a few drops are left. 

He has poured out his life in unceasing travel to reach the lost.  He has poured it out in his tireless preaching of the “message of Christ” to both Jews and Gentiles.  He had poured it out in his letters… writings that would outlast his verbal communication.  Soon Paul will lay his head down on the chopping block for his execution. 

A.  Yet now with his final fragrant drops, he pours out these words to leave encouragement and healthy instruction for his spiritual son, Timothy… and for me.  He warns me about dangers from the outside, like Alexander the coppersmith.  He warns me about dangers from within the Church, people who will walk away seeking a more comfortable message.  He warns me about dangers within me.  I must follow his lead and the Lord’s… remaining faithful to the end.

P.  Lord Jesus, I see it now!  Each of us who serve You, have been broken somewhere along our way… perhaps several times.  Now I am being poured out, like perfume… either upon Your feet to reach the lost and needy… or wasted to enhance my own desires for pleasure, fortune or fame.  Precious Savior, may these last drops… my final days, months or years… become perfume on Your feet.  And may every Timothy left behind me be encouraged to pour out his or her life… fulfilling purposes pleasing to You… perfume on Your nail-scarred feet.  Amen.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Devour it. Live by it.

Saturday 6-27-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  2 Kings 14-15   2 Chron 25    2 Tim 3

S.  2 Tim 3:15-16  You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.  NLT

O.  Timothy’s father was a Greek and very likely an unbeliever, but his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois were devout Jewish women.  They had raised Timothy together nurturing him in the Holy Scriptures.  Although many young men follow the lead of their fathers, these two women made an effort to raise this boy to serve the Lord God.  Later, when the Apostle showed up in Lystra with the message of Jesus Christ, this family, by their knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures, recognized the truth of their Savior, Jesus the long awaited Messiah.

A.  When at 18 years of age I began my studies, first at Western Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, and then after 2 ½ years transferred to Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University), I was surprised by the fact that many of my fellow students knew little about the Bible.  Some of these students had been saved and called into ministry while serving in the military and had little or no training in the Scriptures.  In sharp contrast my parents taught me to memorize scripture before I could read.  Every day we sat at my mother’s or father’s feet and heard scripture (King James Version) read and explained to us.  Often mother added a chapter from a famous book like the “Pilgrim’s Progress” or “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.  And then we all knelt and each had to lead in prayer.  I had the advantage over other ministerial students, since I already knew the Bible from cover to cover.

The Apostle Paul is reminding Timothy of the importance of Holy Scriptures.  The carefully recorded biblical stories of men and women allow these ancient actors to become our mentors… either by showing us their good example or their errors and tragedies.  “Timothy, my boy, read the Book, devour it, memorize it and learn from it.”

P.  Heavenly Father I thank You this morning for the Book.  It has been a lamp to my feet and a light to my pathway.  It has led me safely through dark, treacherous situations.  It has taken me to fall in total surrender at the feet of Your Son, Jesus.  It has taught me the story of Your Divine Love.  It has offered me grace and mercy instead of the judgment I deserve.  It has given me the assurance of heaven.  And I thank You for a father and mother and grandparents on both sides that loved You and honored Your Word.  What a heritage!  Yes, I know that the final choices are up to each of us, but You gave me a hefty boost in the right direction.  I can only express my gratitude with a life dedicated to serve You.  Amen.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Dead man walking and yelling!

Friday 6-26-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  Jonah 1-4    2 Tim 2

S.  Jonah 2:1-2  Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish.  He said, "I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the world of the dead, and LORD, you heard me! 

Vs 6  I was locked out of life and imprisoned in the land of the dead. But you, O LORD my God, have snatched me from the yawning jaws of death!

Jonah 3:1-2a  Then the LORD spoke to Jonah a second time:  "Get up and go… NLT

O.  Some people claim Jonah’s story is a myth.  But I believe it, because Jesus believed it and referred to it as true.  God made most fish so that they can draw their life-giving oxygen from the water and he created other sea creatures like the whale that can store great quantities of oxygen in their lungs and come up for a breath of air only occasionally.  The Bible tells us that God prepared a special creature to save Jonah’s life.  One thing is for sure; Jonah thought he was a dead man, but he was somehow kept alive.  And in repentance for his rebellion he prayed and was heard by God.  Now he found himself on a beach somewhere and trying to get himself untangled from stinky seaweed.  Now God spoke to him a second time… GO!  God gave him a second chance.

A.  I wonder what Jonah looked like after being 3 days and nights inside a fish.  He was, no doubt, a sight to behold.  Kids were probably running ahead of him screaming, “Dead man walking and yelling!”  Jonah thunders his message of judgment on the street corners of Nineveh and scares people to death.  He’s not preaching repentance.  He is not preaching salvation.  He didn’t want them saved.  He hated these enemies of Israel.  He was anxious for the 40th day to come when “boom” the whole city would be destroyed. 

Now Jonah confesses the reason that he ran away from God’s calling in the first place.  He knew that God would listen to the people’s cry for mercy and give them a second chance.  That was his problem.  God is a God of mercy and grace.  He gives second chances.  That bothered Jonah.  So he sits on a hillside next to Nineveh and sulks.  His pride was hurt.  He had promised destruction and now nothing… no thunder and lightning… no earthquake… zero… nothing but love, mercy and grace.  Jonah is mad at God. 

It makes me want to yell at him, “Hey, Brother Jonah, if God was not a God of second chances you would be in… you know where… right now.”   

P.  Once again, Dear Father in heaven, I want to thank you for being a God of second chances and third and more.  I would be on my way to the place where Jonah was heading when he cried out for your mercy.  I was a 13 year old kid climbing a steep cliff at Oceanside Beach, Oregon when in desperation I cried out for mercy.  I seemed destined to be found as another crumpled cadaver on the rocks of that beach below that cliff.  But You gave me a second chance.  You rescued me!  And when you spoke again I got the message loud and clear: “GO!”  Amen.


Pick yourself up out of your pity party and GO!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Meet “Onnie”

Thursday 6-25-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  Joel 1-3    2 Tim 1

S.  2 Tim 1:16-18  May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in prison. When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me. May the Lord show him special kindness on the day of Christ's return. And you know how much he helped me at Ephesus. NLT

O.  This second letter to Timothy is written by the elderly Apostle Paul from a Roman prison as he is awaiting his death sentence.  He shows special appreciation for a brother named Onesiphorus.  I am guessing that this man and his family lived in Ephesus and that Timothy is ministering there at the time of this writing.  Paul remembers this brother’s kindness and great help probably during the time he spent 3 years* teaching the believers there.  He describes Onesiphorus as a great helper, filled with kindness.  He even travelled to Rome to find and encourage Paul.  He was a man persistent in his determination to locate Paul where he was imprisioned and was not ashamed that he was searching for a condemned prisoner.  I like this guy.  Let’s just call him “Onnie.”

A.  There is a spreading custom developing in many of our Argentine churches.  I kindda like it.  Knowing that a visiting speaker will be arriving at a certain hour, the pastor assigns a helper for him.  So here is the scene:  I drive up near the door of the church.  Most of our churches do not have parking lots and every space is occupied by a vehicle for blocks around.  But a helper has set out orange colored cones to save me a place right by the front door.  As soon as he recognizes my car he removes the cones and guides me in.  He welcomes me and immediately informs me that he is my assigned “slave” for the evening.  Anything I need, just speak the word, and he will get it for me.  Normally I have 7 things in my car’s trunk to carry in… Felipe’s case, my amp, lap-steel guitar, accordion, my special mike stand, my brief case and a box of DVDs of Felipe and CDs of music.   He calls in his team and in moments everything is in place.  He informs me that he will have his eye on me during the entire service.  The slightest move of my finger… or even a look at him will bring him running… “Do you prefer water or 7 Up?  Or do you prefer hot tea?”  “Is the location of the monitor okay?”  “What do you need?”  Let’s call him, “Onnie.”  And sometimes until after midnight “Onnie” is still by my side.  He will take pictures, carry my stuff, bring me a glass of cold water, think ahead for my needs and wave to me as I drive off into the darkness.  Paul expresses gratitude for his “Onnie.”  So “Thanks, guys!”

P.  Lord Jesus, Your Apostle Paul describes himself as your “love-slave”… and he teaches me to be the same.  I want to be listening every moment for the slightest suggestion of Your desire.  Help me to not get distracted, but to keep my eyes fixed upon You.  Help me to not be like a mule that needs to be jerked around to do Your bidding. I need to be anxious and alert, ready to respond. I need to be watching for You to guide me with the look in Your eyes.**  Wherever you are looking, let me run in that direction.  Just let me be your “love slave”.  You can call me Your “Onnie”.   Amen.

* Acts 20:31

** (Psalm 32:8-9)  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Danger! Your getting rich!

My personal daily devotional.  I have been prompted to share them.

SOAP S=Scripture, O=Observation, A= Application and P=Prayer 

Wednesday 6-24-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  2 Kings 11-12     2 Chron 24    1 Tim 6

S.  1 Tim 6:10-12  For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. NLT

O.  The Apostle Paul is careful to leave detailed instructions with his “son” in the faith and he deals with one of the subtle dangers “riches.”  He is posting a road-sign in Timothy’s highway, “Danger, sharp curve ahead… you might get rich!  And your riches might get you!

A.  I need to apply the inspired words written to Timothy to my own life.  I need to know that the love of money can sneak up on me.  As Christians the Lord prospers us with His blessings, both spiritual and material, but if I am not careful I may find myself living a life style that requires a hearty monthly income.  I start thinking I “need” things that I would not have considered as necessary before I became “rich”.  Danger!  My material blessings are beginnng to possess me… instead of me possessing them.  The result has left some Christians deeply in debt, working overtime, no longer with time for the church and finally, pierced with many sorrows, they tragically wander away from the faith.

P.  Lord, the danger of riches is so subtle.  I can be blind-sided so easily by its attractions.  You have bountifully supplied my every need.  Don’t allow me to become distracted by Your material blessings, but understand that You are placing these blessings in my hands to pass them on to others.  I must become an open channel of blessing to the needy.  I must learn the meaning of Your words, “It is more blessed… (meaning it brings more happiness inside my soul)… to give it away to others than to receive gifts from others.” Yes, these words of Yours are so true!  When I cheerfully give… there is joy unspeakable and full of glory!  Amen.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It’s a Man Thing

Our grandson, Evan Hiatt, turned 18 on Sunday, Father’s Day.  On Saturday we did a son, father and grandfather ride up a 7,976 foot high mountain in Evan’s car, a Toyota 4Runner.  It is a high-center vehicle with 4 wheel drive, equipped to go just about anywhere.  Why would anybody search to find the most difficult possible place to take a car up a steep trail to a mountain ridge?  It’s a “man thing”.  Men seek to conquer the earth… and we Fathers and sons happen to be men J.  “Challenge” is in our DNA.

They had chosen a road on the map… Well, not really a road… more like a trail between the trees, climbing over huge boulders, deep pits and crossing small creeks in the car as it tipped from side to side and crawled up to the top of the mountain ridge.  It took us more than an hour to go 2 miles. 
Tim had to hike in front of the car part of the time to find out how to get around massive unmovable boulders weighing tons… while Evan drove.  Sometimes he had to squeeze between trees with only a few inches on each side while the car was tipping from one side to the other.  I hiked ahead with Tim some of the time to shoot pictures.

Suddenly we came out of the forest into a huge area with few trees and covered with millions of green plants with bright yellow flowers… 

and peppered with little white poppies.  I took this picture of one and I thought I heard God’s voice up in the sky, “I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if I so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall I not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” KJV  (When God speaks from the sky He uses the old fashioned King James Version that I grew up with. J)

Here there was lots of free air space… so we stopped to fly the incredible quadcopter that we had brought with us.  Quite like a helicopter, a quadcopter is a drone with four propellers and this one carries a good quality video camera attached.  Evan is expert at remote controlling this creature.  He takes it up to just a pin-point in the sky and then down to skim barely over the green plants.  All this time it was totally under his control and filming us below… wherever he chose to aim the camera.  Finally he landed it gently at his feet.  And to think that my dad, when a teenager, had to ride horseback to get to the next town!

Click here and wait a few seconds for it to load then watch this 2 ½ minute video taken from the quadcopter under Evan’s control. (To assure that the video runs smoothly, hit the play arrow to start and then hit pause and wait until the grey line shows that it is loaded and then hit play again.)

Coming down the mountain trail was much faster, mostly because Evan had been over the trail now and knew the best way to dodge the boulders and trees.  He is a skilled driver for a young-‘un.  We were just three kids, ages 18, 58 and 83.

Then we drove over to see Alpine Lake, stopped at Angel’s Camp for dinner and got home at 9:30 PM… all in one piece.  A great Happy Father’s Day gift from heaven!


The Hiding Place

Tuesday 6-23-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  2 Kings 10   2 Chron 22-23    1 Tim 5

S.  2 Chron 22:10-12  When Athaliah, the mother of King Ahaziah of Judah, learned that her son was dead, she set out to destroy the rest of Judah's royal family. But Ahaziah's sister Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Ahaziah's infant son, Joash, and stole him away from among the rest of the king's children, who were about to be killed. She put Joash and his nurse in a bedroom. In this way, Jehosheba, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, hid the child so that Athaliah could not murder him.  Joash remained hidden in the Temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled over the land.  NLT

O.  Athaliah was a wicked woman.  First she taught her son, King Ahaziah to do evil and then when she discovered that he had been killed, she set out to murder all the royal family, all descendents of King David.  But Jehosheba, wife of priest Jehoiada, grabbed baby Joash and hid him with his nurse.  For the next six years Joash was hidden in the temple.  The wicked self-appointed Queen Athaliah did not know that a future king, a descendant of King David was being raised and trained inside the walls of the temple. 

A.  Could this child’s faith, developed while living his first six years in the temple under a Jewish priest, have had anything to do with him becoming a good king?  There weren’t many kings that were well spoken of in the holy record.  Most of them were evil.  But this little guy took over when he was seven years old and apparently did a good job.  He tried to clean up the ugly mess left him by his predecessors.  But many years later when the priest, who had blessed his life, died, Joash accepted the advice of evil men and died in disgrace.  Joash was wishy-washy.  He flowed with the current.  The political world of government leadership is a hard place to live out a full life of integrity.  Personal power, even in religious sectors tends to breed evil. 

P.  My Lord, let me learn from King Joash.  He was protected and raised by godly people.  He started out well, but in his final days, when his mentor-priest was gone, he succumbed to evil influences and died in disgrace.  Oh Lord, keep me true to You.  Both good and evil influences surround me.  Worldly voices offer me their options.  Strengthen my faith in my final days on this earth.  May I seek You more fervently than ever and find in You my hiding place!  Amen.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Preach it, Teach it and Live it

Monday 6-22-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  2 Kings 8-9     2 Chron 21    1 Tim 4

S.  1 Tim 4:12-13  Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. NLT

O.  Timothy was still a young apprentice when commissioned and sent out by the Apostle Paul to preach and teach men and women that were older than he.  How could he earn and maintain their respect?  Only by living a Christian life of integrity in love, faith and purity.  Paul is saying, “Your life style, not your age, will assure the respect of those that sit under your ministry.”

A.  I am reminded of a young, handsome rising star who was stepping into his first years of ministry, but already well known and highly respected.  I was unloading materials from my vehicle and carrying them into a building for a special minister’s meeting.  When he saw me he rushed over and helped me lift heavy boxes of literature and carried them in.  As he worked beside me, he told me how my life and message had inspired him when he was a ministerial student.  I felt in my heart that the Lord was going to use this young man… and I was right.  He has… and He is.  If this young man maintains his integrity, his love, his faith and his purity… he is sure to go far and be a blessing to his converts, his peers and his Master.

P.  Oh Lord, I was young and filled with energy when I started out.  I watched You protect me from situations that might have damaged my range of influence.  You covered me… Yes, You covered me with Your love and grace.  Now I am at the other end of my years of ministry.  Soon I will need to set my tools aside and be carried into Your presence.  Today I pray that you will raise up many men and women, new young Timothys.  Cover them, Lord, so that they can live out years that display Your love, faith and purity and bring in a great harvest of souls.  Amen.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday, June 7, final services in Argentina this trip

The year was 1987.  Missionaries Don and Melba Exley shown here, set up a tent on a vacant lot on a muddy dirt road in Martinez and held their first evangelistic services.  God had led them to the exact spot where He wanted a church.  When they discovered that a huge new classy shopping mall was planned right across the street… they took a great leap of faith and purchased the whole city block!  I remember preaching in that tent as families were being converted to Christ.  The Exley’s vision included a family oriented church and a Christian school… and the Lord blessed their efforts.  Both have been successful for these many years.

Only a few months ago, the Exleys completed the new sanctuary of the Family Christian Center (Centro Familiar Cristiano) and Don and Melba officially stepped down to trust this great church to an experienced Argentine couple, Gonzalo and Lizzy Colastian, seen here with me Sunday June 7, 2015.  Lizzy is the daughter of Argentinean pastors.  Frances and I have known her and her parents since she was a little child.  Her parents have been serving as missionaries from Argentina to Italy for many years now.
This new church building is just barely being inaugurated.  Check our this classy second floor vestibule. 

This is Sunday AM June 7, 2015.  They have recently moved out of their school gym seating only about 500 and into their new facility, seating 1,500.  Pastor Gonzalo invited me to minister to both morning and evening services just before I returned to California.  They have two totally different congregations… morning and evening, musicians and all.   

In  both AM and PM services they brought the children in for Felipe. 

Before preaching I taught them a chorus to accompany my message as I often do.  But you need to understand that only three months earlier I had been diagnosed by a specialist in California after examining my vocal chords by scope.  He told me there was permanent, irreparable damage.  They were deformed by miss-use.  An operation would be risky.  I would never sing clearly again and would have to speak with a forced, scratchy voice when attempting to preach.  I returned to Argentina anyway.  Missionaries Kim and Shari Babcock invited me to speak to a visiting group they had just received from Redding, California.  This group of mostly youth, laid hands on me and prayed with faith.  Within 3 days I could hum again and I knew something was happening.  Within less than a week I could sing and speak again with a clear voice! 

In the following 13 weeks I drove 4,516 miles and preached 59 times, doing a Felipe show for the kids, always singing while teaching a song, preaching most of an hour and spending most of another hour praying with people at the altar time!  And I returned to California with a normal clear voice!   To God be the glory!

God has been moving beautifully in these services.  Numerous persons come to me after an extended time in prayer to tell me their story.  Some were far away from God.  They had walked away from Him long ago, often in their teens.  But they remembered Felipe and came to let their little kids meet him, like they did when they were kids.  Now, with tears pouring down their cheeks, they were promising me to be faithfully in church with their family from now on.  I could never have dreamed up this “Felipe thing.”  God can even use a dummy!  Which means “I qualify”!


Am I sitting on Good News?

Sunday 6-21-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  2 Kings 6-7     2 Chron 20    1 Tim 3

S.  2 Kings 7:9  This is wonderful news, and we aren't sharing it with anyone! NLT

O. Four starving men, all with deadly infections that isolated them from entering into the city, have discovered that the armies of their enemies have fled and left food and goods behind.  First they help themselves, eat their full and hide their treasures. But now they realized their responsibility to the starving people inside the city.  They were sitting on good news. 

A.  Good news is meant to be shared.  This morning in about an hour I will be in church.  There I will be singing with many others of the greatness of God.  There I will feast on the delicacies at King Jesus’ table.  There I will rejoice with many others who had at one time been starving spiritually.  And, yes, it is true, there I will be in danger of sitting on the Good News without sharing it with anyone.  One of Jesus’ parables was about a great prepared feast… and when the invited ones didn’t show… the master of the feast sent messengers out into the highways and byways… sharing the Good News… the feast is ready and waiting.  Come!  Do not waste time!  Come!

P.  Dear Lord, You have called me and my fellow Christians to be Your messengers.  I am in danger of taking Your blessing of cleansing and forgiveness, healing and salvation and hiding these treasures for myself and my family.  I am in danger of sitting in the shade beside my luxurious swimming pool, enjoying the blessings You have given me, while a whole city or country is locked behind the walls of heresy and unbelief.  Send me out again to the corners of the city and the ends of the earth to find the hungry and bring them in.  May You hear my heart cry, one more time.  “Here I am!  Send me!”  Amen.  


Saturday, June 20, 2015

The God of Too Much!

Saturday 6-20-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  2 Kings 4-5     Psalm 83    1 Tim 2

S.  2 Kings 4:42-44  One day a man from Baal-shalishah brought the man of God a sack of fresh grain and twenty loaves of barley bread made from the first grain of his harvest. Elisha said, "Give it to the group of prophets so they can eat." "What?" his servant exclaimed. "Feed one hundred people with only this?"  But Elisha repeated, "Give it to the group of prophets so they can eat, for the LORD says there will be plenty for all. There will even be some left over!"  And sure enough, there was plenty for all and some left over, just as the LORD had promised.  NLT

O.  Elisha was running a Bible School.  He was preparing a group of 100 ‘men of God’ to multiply his effectiveness throughout the land.  These boys were learning, among other things, to believe God for miracles. 

A.  I want to grab onto that last phrase above.  “…there was plenty for all and some left over!”  Our God is a God of “too much!”  He is the God of “the abundant life” of John 10:10.   The prodigal’s generous Father said to his elder son,  “everything I have is yours.” (Luke 15:31)   When Jesus blessed the loaves and fishes both times there was “more than enough.”  David writes, “My cup runneth over!”  (Psalm 23:5)  And Paul says God gives us “…infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.” (Eph 3:20)  Wow!  That’s just too much

P.  Lord Jesus, it has been the story of my life.  You always give more than I ask.  I live with Your wonderful surprises.  Sometimes the path ahead seems steep, but I push ahead because… because… I remember that You are the God of too much, more than enough for every situation.  Lord, today I quote Your “double portion man”, Elisha: “… the LORD says there will be plenty for all.  There will even be some left over!"  Hallelujah!


Friday, June 19, 2015

I’ll take two slices, please.

Friday 6-19-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  2 Kings 1-3     Psalm 82    1 Tim 1

S.  2 Kings 2:9  When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, "What can I do for you before I am taken away?" And Elisha replied, "Please let me become your rightful successor." NLT

Same verse in NKJV 2 Kings 2:9  And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?"  Elisha said, "Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me."

O.  The moment is about to come when the old prophet, Elijah will be captured by a better world.  The younger Elisha refuses to leave his side even when asked three times to stay behind.  He desperately wants something that Elijah has.  So Elijah finally asks him, “What can I do for you, boy, before I have to go?”  Elisha goes for the gold, “Give me a double portion of the spirit that makes you like you are.”  “That’s a tough one, boy… but okay.  If you see me go, you’ve got it.” 

And suddenly in a display of fireworks mixed with a tornado, a heavenly space craft snatches Reverend Elijah up and away.  When the dust clears Elisha sees Elijah’s cape lying there in the dirt.  He takes off his own mantle and tears it up.  “I won’t need this rag anymore.” he mumbles… and he grabs Elijah’s mantle, shakes off the dust and heads back to the Jordan River to try it out.

A.  I cannot imagine why the translators of some versions feel they have to “explain” everything.  The original Hebrew text says, "Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." NKJV and the NLT translators confess that this is really what it says, but they place it only as a footnote. 

I enjoy the candid style of the NLT, but in some cases, in their effort to explain everything, their translators greatly weaken the text… and this is one… by translating Elisha’s request: "Please let me become your rightful successor." Why not translate it like it is?  The meaning is clear enough for a child to understand and carries with it a much stronger message! 

Elisha was seeking whatever Elijah had.  He wanted to be just like him, but he wasn’t satisfied for just one portion… He wanted a double portion of the same.  Have you ever been too bashful or too polite to ask for a second slice of that wonderful apple pie?

P.  Dear Lord, You have allowed me the privilege of sitting under the ministry of several of Your great men of God.  I have benefited and been blessed by their teaching and preaching.  I have witnessed the miraculous results of their faith.  I have read some of their writings.  They have inspired me to new heights.  And I cry out to You: “Whatever made these men so much like You in their ministry… that is what I want.  I want that same Holy Spirit to descend upon me.  And while You are at it, Dear Lord Jesus, please dish me out a double portion if You think I can handle it.  Amen.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

He made peace with the devil

Thursday 6-18-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  1 Kings 22     2 Chron 18-19    Col 4

S.  1 Kings 22:4-5  Then he turned to Jehoshaphat and asked, "Will you join me in fighting against Ramoth-gilead?" And Jehoshaphat replied to King Ahab, "Why, of course! You and I are brothers, and my troops are yours to command. Even my horses are at your service." Then Jehoshaphat added, "But first let's find out what the LORD says."

Vs 29-30  So the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah led their armies against Ramoth-gilead. Now King Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, "As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me, but you wear your royal robes." So Ahab disguised himself, and they went into battle.

Vs 44 (Summary note) Jehoshaphat… made peace with the king of Israel. NLT

O.  Jehoshaphat, son of Asa, King of Judah, served the true God.  He was a “good boy”.  He even made peace with Ahab, king of Israel.  That sounds great… except for one thing.  Ahab, king of Israel was a devil. 

Kings are a lonely bunch.  They have few peers to chum with.  So “Good-Boy- Jehoshaphat”, jumps in his Cadillac and drives over to Samaria to visit with the devil, King Ahab.  They dressed in their royal robes and had a “champagne pity-party.”  They chatted about golf and other “king-stuff.”  It’s one thing to make peace.  It’s another is to become buddies.  Soon, in a weak moment, Jehoshaphat was agreeing to fight with Ahab in battle… and he did so even when God’s one true prophet warned of certain disaster.  

A.  Good boys are sometimes stupid.  Jehoshaphat played with fire and survived, but he had to run for his life.  He should have seen through Ahab’s evil plan… when he insisted that his “good-buddy-Jehoshaphat” should wear his royal robes into battle (obviously to become the major target of the enemy forces) while he, Ahab, disguised himself.  Oh!  Devil, you are so clever!

P.  Lord, when I’m feeling lonely don’t let me go visit the devil for a pity-party.  Put a blockade in my pathway.  Help me learn from my mentor, “Good-Boy-Jehoshaphat” that it is dangerous to become buddies with the devil and his companions.  Lord, sometimes, like kings, we preachers can be a lonely bunch.  And it’s true what they say: When ministers are “alone and down” that’s when they are tempted to open bad stuff in the internet.  God, please rescue me and all my fellow ministers from crossing the border for a friendly visit with the devil.  For even if we survive, we will find ourselves like “Good-Boy-Jehoshaphat” running for our lives… and destroying the precious ministry that You have invested in us.  Amen. 


Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Wednesday 6-17-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading for today:  1 Kings 20-21     2 Chron 17    Col 3

S.  Col 3:1-2  Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power.  Let heaven fill your thoughts. NLT

O.  The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul is teaching a very important concept related to the Christian life... “focus”.

A.  Many years ago, when in Panama, I found a powerful pair of binoculars and purchased them.  I just now pulled them out of their old case and focused them on the beautiful cala lilies and cana lilies in full bloom in my back yard only 25 feet away, I can watch the honey bees going in an out in all their detail, but the distant objects are out of focus.  Then when I focus on the details of the birds in the foliage two blocks away, the lilies are now out of focus. 

100 years ago, we could bury ourselves in books.  The novel could carry us into a fantasy world.  Today internet, TV and movies are specifically designed to take total control of our minds and in the case of movies often for two hours at a time. 

Yes, life tends to become mostly absorbed by things that are close at hand.  Our focus is on immediate needs.  To escape this monotony we often turn to the entertainment offered by our world.  The Holy Spirit is calling me to adjust my focus… to look on things above… to “set my sights on the realities of heaven.”  My focus will determine my “joy level.”

P.  Lord, I have to thank you for excellent eyesight even at my age.  But I need Your help to focus on the things of eternal importance.  Help me to turn my eyes upon You, Your Kingdom and my future home.  Help me to focus my eyes, my thoughts and my resulting actions on pleasing You.  Amen.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Helen H. Lemmel, 1922

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

1.    O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
o    Refrain:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
2.    Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!
3.    His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

She said, “You can call me… “

Tuesday 6-16-15 (Home in Modesto)
Scripture reading:  1 Kings 17-19     Col 2

S.  1 Kings 18:28-29  So they shouted louder, and following their normal custom, they cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out.  They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no reply, no voice, no answer.  NLT

O.  These 450 prophets of Baal were really sincere.  They were sure that their Baal would come to their rescue and light the fire.  Elijah helped them a little.  “Why don’t you yell a little louder?  Your god probably is taking a nap.”  They were sincere, but sincerely wrong.  Their god was no god at all.  Just a stone.  But Elijah had the true God that could be reached from anywhere and at any time.

A.  I was somewhere in the USA in an event with lots of people crowded around.  I had done a thing with Felipe, which often endears me to the little kids.  Now here comes a darling little 5 year old blonde.  She had a small, apparently blank paper in her hand and gave it to me.  It had several lines of scribbling on it.  Obviously this little girl did not know her letters yet.  I looked a bit puzzled while she watched me “read” it.  Then with a twist she turned to go and announced with great confidence, “You can call me when you need me!”  And she melted into the crowd.  I laughed for hours inside… and am still giggling when I think of her.

God’s “calling card” says “You can call me when you need me.”  I often need Him at crazy hours of the day or night.  He doesn’t even make me punch numbers or place me on “hold”.  Elijah believed God for an answer now… so he stepped back for the explosion.  Talk about 4th of July fireworks!   

P.  Thanks God for just being there for me whenever I call.  You are waiting for my call even when I am not in need of anything… so here’s a call to just say, “I love You, God.  I’ve got to go to bed.  Have a nice night!…  What’s that?  No night there?  I knew that!  What was I thinking?”  Amen.*


I need Thee, Oh I need Thee
Every hour I need Thee.
Oh, bless me now my Savior
I come to Thee

*True, I usually do my devotional time in the morning, but this time I got in a hurry and did it at night, too.  No problem.  He’s open 24/7.