Friday, February 26, 2016

It was love at first sight.

Thursday  2-25-16 (Martinez, Buenos Aires, Argentina)     

Scripture reading for today:    Num 17 – 18    Psalm 29   Mark 4

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Mark 4:38-41 And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"  Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.  But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"  And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!" NKJV

O.  Jesus slept on a pillow while the little boat was tossed around like a cork on the waves.  Several of the disciples had grown up as fishermen.  Their parents and ancestors knew these waters.  These guys were experts.  They adjusted the sail and did everything right, but this was a violent storm and even these experienced sailors feared for their lives.  “Look, back there in the stern.  Jesus is sound asleep!” Last resort: “Let’s wake up Jesus!”  Jesus yawns and addresses the raging sea with three words... and there is a sudden calm.  Now the disciples are really afraid, not of the storm, but with a deep holy fear. “This is no ordinary Man riding in our little boat!  Just Who is He anyway?!”

A.  Just Who is this Jesus?  This is the question of the ages.  It is the question that divides the Christians from the Jews, the Muslims, the Jehovah Witnesses and many other sects and religions.  My answer to this question will determine my eternal destiny.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter answered, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”  Inspired to write, John answered, “In the beginning was the “Word” and the “Word” was with God and the “Word” was “God.”  He was the “Creator” of all things.  (John 1: 1-3) “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father.” (John 1:14) The word “begotten” is used to show me that He is not a created being.  It is obviously a take-it-or-leave-it issue.  I must either believe that He is Who the Bible says He is... or take the consequences.

P.  Father, I confess that I do not understand everything about You.  I am like a tiny ant trying to understand a great king.  But I thank You for stooping down to earth in the person of Your Only Son to show us what You are really like.  I was just a little child when my heart was first conquered by Your love.  Yes, Father, I saw that love in Your Son Jesus and decided right then and there I would follow Him to the end of my days.  It was love at first sight.  And may that passion never fade!  Amen.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The “Lord’s Day”

Wednesday  2-24-16 (Martinez, Buenos Aires, Argentina)     

Scripture reading for today:    Num 14 – 16     Mark 3

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Mark 3:6 Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.  NKJV

O.  Jesus was often accused of breaking the Pharisaical rules of the Sabbath day.  But before He performed this miracle He gave His opposition the opportunity to speak up.  He said, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they kept silent.  (Mark 3:4-50)  He was saying, “Speak up now or forever hold your tongue.”   

A.  It is obvious that their Sabbath rules far exceeded God’s original intent.  These men considered simply to speak healing to a deformed man to be “work”.  When I was a child, my parents tried to keep our Sundays just for the Lord.  They tried to avoid work as much as possible.  It was considered “The Lord’s Day” (Day of Christ’s resurrection) and a day to rest.  I remember my father sometimes taking us all for a ride up the Columbia River gorge to hike around Multnomah Water Falls (600 feet high) and to just enjoy the beauty of God’s creation displayed so generously in Oregon.  But we would never miss Sunday School or morning and evening services even when on vacation.  We were taught that every day belonged to the Lord, but that we should honor Him specially, giving Him our best on “The Lord’s Day”. 

P.  Lord Jesus, they wanted to kill You for desecrating their Sabbath rules.  They carried their religious rules to extremes.  But I wonder what You are thinking as You look at our present way of treating Your “Lord’s Day.”  It seems to me that we have allowed the pendulum to swing to the opposite extreme.  Many of Your “followers” cannot even be counted on for faithful church attendance and participation.  Give me a heart that is so drawn to You that I am always anxious to meet with my fellow believers to join together to worship You, Our King of kings... on Sunday and any other day of the week.  Amen.


The Holy Hole

Tuesday  2-23-16 (Martinez, Buenos Aires, Argentina)     

Scripture reading for today:    Num 12 – 13   Psalm 90   Mark 2

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Mark 2:6-7 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, "Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Vs 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!  NKJV

O.  The scribes were men that knew a lot about the scriptures.  Their job was, in part, to copy scriptures with no mistakes.  They were the nearest thing they had to a printer machine in those days.  They sat there and didn’t say a word, but Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking in their hearts.  So he proved to them that He had the power to forgive sins by instantly healing the paralyzed man.  Wow!  Everybody was amazed (including the scribes) and I hope they joined the others as they all glorified God.  I wonder if any of those skeptical scribes ever became Jesus’ true followers.  It was probably harder for them.  It is likely that their very jobs were at stake.

A.  I have an advantage over those in the house with a big hole in the roof.  I have been looking at Jesus through the divinely prepared lens, not only of the Old Testament that these men knew so well, but also with the revelation of Jesus in the New Testament.  To me it is easy to accept that Jesus has power to forgive sins, for he forgave mine and washed their ugly stain all away. 

Note: If our dear Roman Catholic friends had been around on that day... they would have cordoned off that “Holy Hole” and saved it.  Just think of the coins the tourists would be willing to drop in the chest... just to look up at that leaky roof.  Yes, and surely they would pay extra to be lowered through the original hole.  Let’s say the owner of the house was a guy named Daniel.  “Sorry Danny boy, you will have to move out.  We are taking charge of this Holy Hole”.  We all tend to give special value to tangible icons.  May the Lord help us to fix our eyes upon Jesus and let the brother fix his roof!

P.  Father God, how good You have been to me!  Your Word was firmly planted in my soul when I was still a small child.  And since I have been so privileged, I know that my responsibility is greater.  Your Holy Son taught us: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”  (Luke 12:48 NIV)  May I fulfill Your divine purposes for this very blessed life You have given me!  Amen.


We ate chicken until we were growing feathers!

Monday  2-22-16 (Martinez, Buenos Aires, Argentina)     

Scripture reading for today:    Num 10 – 11   Psalm 27   Mark 1

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Num 11:4 “... so the children of Israel also wept again and said: "Who will give us meat to eat?”

Vs 21-23 And Moses said, "The people whom I am among are six hundred thousand men on foot; yet You have said, 'I will give them meat, that they may eat for a whole month.'  Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to provide enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to provide enough for them?" And the LORD said to Moses, "Has the LORD's arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not." NKJV

O.  600,000 men, plus women and children were getting tired of eating only manna every day.  They began to remember their days of slavery when they had meat and fish to eat.  Some were saying, “Just take us back to Egypt!” So God tells Moses, “I’ll handle this.”  But now even Moses found himself questioning God.  “Look at this multitude!  There are no McDonalds or KFCs within miles.”  So God says, “Just watch this!”

A.  Frances and I were pastors of a small church in Colfax, a town in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.  I was working part time so that our three boys could have food on the table.  One day Frances told me she would really like to enjoy a meal of fried chicken.  She wasn’t really complaining, but when I asked if we had the money, she admitted that we couldn’t afford it.  That very night we were already in bed when the phone rang.  A lady was asking if we would like some chicken, pre-prepared for frying.  A restaurant in another city had been destroyed by fire with their freezer full of prepared chicken. The insurance had instructed the owner to throw it all in the dump because it would spoil in a few days.  The insurance would pay.  But the owner took it home and started giving chicken to everybody he knew.  Finally, someone suggested, how about the pastor of the AG church?  He did not want to call me late at night, but this lady did.  I got dressed and went over and brought home for our freezer enough chicken for our family to eat fried chicken every day for months!  And the Lord said, “Has my arm been shortened?  Just watch this!”

P.  You know that even Moses thought you couldn’t do it... so I don’t feel so bad.  Sometimes I forget that You specialize in the impossible.  You did it for the children of Israel.  They ate meat until they were sick of it.  And we ate chicken until we were growing feathers... well, almost.  Thanks for even listening to the desires of our hearts.  Amen.


Cool as the Apostle Paul

Sunday  2-21-16 (Martinez, Buenos Aires, Argentina)     

Scripture reading for today:  Num 8 – 9   Acts 28

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Acts 28:4 “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live."

Vs 6 But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

Vs 8-10 ... the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him.  So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed. They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary.  NKJV

O.  This reminds me of the city of Lystra (Acts 14).  After an outstanding miracle, the public tried to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods... then when the Jews arrived, they stoned Paul and left him for dead.  Now on the island of Malta, Paul escapes the sea and gets a deadly snake bite.  The public decide he is a murderer expect him to drop dead.  But our apostle remains “cool”.  So when he didn’t drop dead they decided he was a god.  The fact is he was a just a “cool” representative of the true and living God.  And before moving on he left an important elderly sick man healed... and many others, too.  “Too cool!”

The public opinion often sways from one extreme to another as they evaluate us Christians.  They love us one minute and hate us the next.  We are saints to adore or they want to silence our message.  It really doesn’t count for much what the public thinks of us, I guess.  What matters a great deal is: What do they think of Jesus?  Hey!  This was a shipwreck, a major emergency... but Paul, the prisoner, is as calm as if he is on vacation.  “Cool!”

P.  Please give me a dose of that “cool stuff”, Jesus.  I get rattled too easily, especially in an emergency.  Ah thanks! That feels good!  Tomorrow I preach in a baptismal service with Pastors Joel y Lili Díaz.  Keep me “cool” like Paul and anointed like “Stephen”.  Amen.


I am already having fun.

Halleluyah!  It has been a difficult week.  My naughty computer has kept me and my excellent missionary technician, Jonathan Wellborn, up and working until after 1 AM without success.  But last Friday it has ended in victory!  Now I can settle in and start ministry.

You have to love Pastors Joel and Lili Díaz and their sweet kids, Melisa 9 and Nehemías 13 (excellent drummer).  Their little church in the suburb called Pilar is growing fast.  They invited me to preach for their Sunday morning water baptismal service.    

A portable tank was set up in front and five new converts dressed in white worshiped with the congregation.

There was singing and lots of joy... even with soaking wet hugs as each was baptized.

Of course Perfume and Felipe showed up.

I woke up my old accordion that had been sleeping in its case for 8 months... loved it.

Then I preached on Lazarus.  And behold... he showed up... fresh out four days and nights in the grave!  On which side of the stone are you?  The stone of pride and social status... or whatever... that needs to be rolled away to allow you to hear Jesus say, “Lazarus, Come on out of death’s darkness into brilliant new life!”

This first time visitor, a new mother of one month old twin boys was the first to respond to the altar call and give her life to Jesus.  She was deeply serious.  Her husband is soon going to be released from prison.  He has become a born-again Christian while behind bars.  I told her that now she and her husband can raise these darling boys to serve the Lord.

Several adults came to tell me that they first heard me minister with Felipe in a grade school... now they faithfully serve Jesus!

Yes, you guessed it.  I haven’t been here a whole week yet... and I am already having fun. J


Saturday, February 20, 2016

For Your Name’s Sake

Saturday  2-20-16 (Martinez, Buenos Aires, Argentina)     

Scripture reading for today:    Num 7   Psalm 23   Acts 27

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Ps 23:3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness... For His name's sake. NKJV

O.  This has to be the best known psalm of all.  Can it still be hiding any unseen truths for me?  Why does the Lord restore my soul?  Why does he lead me in paths of righteousness?  For His name’s sake.  God is protecting His Holy name!

A.  If I fail the Lord and fall into sin (unrighteousness) I am soiling the Holy name of the one I serve. 

I shall never forget the day.  I was serving as the national representative for a popular Christian TV program.  All was going well.  Tens of thousands of non-evangelicals were listening and being won to the Lord.  Then it happened, the leader whose name was on the title of the program, was caught in sin and confessed to it being true.  Within hours the black, ugly spot was not only upon this leader’s name... but the Holy Name above all names was splashed, dirtied and cursed by thousands.  An evangelical church in the north of Argentina had just signed a contract for new seats for their congregation at an excellent price.  The selling company called the pastor and cancelled the contract.  Another, a Baptist pastor in Bariloche who had a radio program was cancelled.  Why?  The name of every evangelical Christian organization was splattered with mud.  That highly visible TV leader fell… and splashed us all with the dirt of his sin... and the worse part was... he dirtied the Name of Jesus. 

P.  Lord, for Your name’s sake... I pray that You will continually restore my soul and lead me in Your wonderful paths of righteousness.  As long as I do not step off Your paths of righteousness to the right or to the left, Your highly respected name is kept shiny and clean.  Holy Spirit, You are my guide.  Just keep me on the straight and narrow.  And since it is true that many are following me as I follow You... don’t let me mess up.  Keep me close to You... for their sake... and for Your name’s sake.  Amen.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Invisible Chains

Friday  2-19-16 (Martinez, Buenos Aires, Argentina)     

Scripture reading for today:    Num 5-6   Psalm 22   Acts 26

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Acts 26:27-29  King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe." Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." And Paul said, "I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains." NKJV

O.  The Apostle Paul is ushered from a stinking prison cell where he has spent the past two years.  He steps into a luxurious hall where Governor Festus, King Agrippa and Bernice, his wife, plus many attendants and royalty are waiting.  The contrast is accented by the heavy chains on Paul’s arms and feet.  His defense is a sermon, complete with an invitation.  Agrippa almost is persuaded to become a Christian, almost... almost.  What is holding him back?  He is fettered with the invisible chains of pride, royalty, status, the opinion of his peers and maybe his wife.  He believed and almost stepped over the line into salvation, but is political position and his life-style had shackled him. 

A.  Is this not the story of multitudes?  They want to believe and be saved... almost, but they are held in these same invisible chains.  Given permission, Jesus Christ breaks those chains and sets a man or woman free.  Oh, but there is a problem.  They love their life style in those chains.  Almost... almost... is not enough.

P.  God, I was just a little child when I opened my heart to You.  I had nothing to lose.  I gave it all to You.  But for me it was no sacrifice.  I gave You my “all”, but “all” was nothing.  If years had passed and I had gained a position of wealth and authority and if Your Spirit had then tugged at my heart to surrender all to You, the decision might have been more traumatic. Oh Lord God.  I am surrounded by hundreds of worldly people shackled in invisible chains.  Send Your sweet Holy Spirit to melt those chains with Your love and conviction.  Set them free to surrender all and follow You.  This is my cry.  Make it happen this weekend.  Amen.


PS. Lord, and if the heavily shackled adults won’t hear Your voice, then send to me to precious little children that have little to lose... and may they give their “all” to You!

“Almost persuaded” now to believe;
“Almost persuaded” Christ to receive;
  Seems now some soul to say,
  “Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
  Some more convenient day
    on Thee I’ll call.”
“Almost persuaded,” come, come today;
“Almost persuaded,” turn not away;
  Jesus invites you here,
  Angels are ling’ring near,
  Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
    O wand’rer, come!
Oh, be persuaded! Christ never fails—
Oh, be persuaded! His blood avails—
  Can save from every sin,
  Cleanse you without, within—
  Will you not let Him in?
    Open the door!
“Almost persuaded,” harvest is past!
“Almost persuaded,” doom comes at last;
  “Almost” cannot avail;
  “Almost” is but to fail!
  Sad, sad that bitter wail—
    “Almost—but lost!”
Be now persuaded, oh, sinner, hear!
Be now persuaded, Jesus is near;
  His voice is pleading still,
  Turn now with heart and will,
  Peace will your spirit fill—
    Oh, turn today!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

May I never forget to Whom I belong!

Thursday  2-18-16 (Martinez, Buenos Aires, Argentina)     

Scripture reading for today:    Num 3-4    Acts 25

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Num 3:41  “And you shall take the Levites for Me — I am the LORD”

Vs 45  “The Levites shall be Mine: I am the LORD.”  NKJV

O.  The Levites, descendents of Levi, were chosen by the Lord to serve, some as priests and others as helpers, but all to serve the Lord.  Their activities would surround the tabernacle that the Lord had designed and Moses had constructed.  Obviously He did not choose them for their spotless reputation.  Even Aaron’s two sons, Nabad and Abihu, whom he had consecrated as priests, were both stricken dead before the Lord for playing around with “profane fire”, whatever that meant.  Perhaps they had been careless with their detailed instructions, or worse, deliberately profaned sacred things. 

A.  Early on I had to make a decision.  To Whom shall I belong?  I asked the Lord to allow me to just be His servant.  I was not worthy. But Jesus had purchased me with the cost of His own blood.  God was not forcing me or choosing me because of my reputation or my ancestry.  He just let me know of His great love for me.  I took a long look at Jesus.  I saw the price that He paid for me and I recognized that I am not my own to do as I please.  Of course the door is always open to rebellion.  I could walk out any time.  But I am held by His mighty love, drawn to Him and I am thrilled to say, I am not my own... I belong to my Lord Jesus Christ.

P.  Oh Lord God, here I am again in Argentina looking forward to the miracle of Your guidance by means of Your Holy Spirit.  You chose the clan of Levi to dedicate themselves to holy things.  They would stand before You and serve You.  Oh, but they failed so miserably.  It was their priests who prompted the crowd to scream, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”  Don’t let me fail You, my precious Lord.  I did not deserve it, but You chose me.  May I never forget to Whom I belong!  Amen.

I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice, 
and it told thy love to me; 
but I long to rise in the arms of faith 
and be closer drawn to thee. 
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, 
to the cross where thou hast died. 
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, 
to thy precious, bleeding side. 

2. Consecrate me now to thy service, Lord, 
by the power of grace divine; 
let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, 
and my will be lost in thine. 

3. O the pure delight of a single hour 
that before thy throne I spend, 
when I kneel in prayer, and with thee, my God, 
I commune as friend with friend! 

4. There are depths of love that I cannot know 
till I cross the narrow sea; 
there are heights of joy that I may not reach 
till I rest in peace with thee. 

Bars and Chains Produce a Writer

Wednesday  2-17-16 (Martinez, Buenos Aires, Argentina)     

Scripture reading for today:    Num 1-2    Acts 24

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Acts 24:25-27 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you." Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.  But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.  NKJV

O.  In Acts chapter 12 Peter was released from prison by an angel... and he never even asked for release.  Now Paul is wasting away in prison 2 years just because Felix wanted to please the Jews.  Did Paul pray for angelic release?  Possibly.  But God had other plans.  He knew that we would need Paul’s a epistles for a solid base of doctrine.  Paul’s prison experiences became a seminary resource and a center for reaching out to the whole world with the Message of Jesus Christ.

A.  Can it be that God has another plan for me when I do not see an immediate answer to my supplication?  I have found that God is not like a vending machine... insert a dollar and out pops a cold drink.  But I must know and believe that He is taking care of me even when His answer is delayed.

P.  Dear Lord, I often pray for patience, but You know me.  I don’t want to wait for it.  If it requires imprisonment, I think I’ll pass.  What must it had been like for the Apostle Paul to sit two years waiting for a judgment?  I don’t see any indication of frustration from him.  May I just be content to walk with You... wherever You choose to take me.  Amen.


40 Very Hungry and Thirsty Men

Tuesday  2-16-16 (Landing in Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Scripture reading for today:    Lev 26 - 27    Acts 23

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Acts 23:12-14 “...some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.  Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.” NKJV

O.  Among the religious Jews a vow was sacred.  To break a vow brought great shame and had religious consequences.  More than 40 men agreed to bind themselves with an oath to lie in wait and leap out of the bushes and kill Paul.  But a boy heard about this... and this boy happened to be Paul’s nephew.  And Claudius the Centurion immediately escorted Paul to safety with 470 soldiers, 70 of them with Paul on horseback. 

A.  Sorry fellows, no breakfast, lunch or dinner for you boys today, or tomorrow... unless you want to fight the whole Roman army to kill Paul.  I seldom bind myself to a fast.  When I am busy I forget to eat, but when I proclaim a fast I find myself walking through the kitchen and picking up a cracker or a carrot without thinking.  It is a lot easier to make promises to God than to really keep them.  If in doubt... ask these 40 skinny men.

P.  Dear Lord, You came to visit an addict, robber and drug pusher named Nito (pronounced Neeto) when he was frightened.  He had loaned his two stolen revolvers to two of his fellow robbers.  Now he knew that if they were caught in a robbery or murder he would be going back to prison.  “God,” he cried out YOu, “Don’t allow these guys to pull off a robbery.”  Lord, he told me later that he made You no promises... because he knew he could not keep them, but You, Jesus, came into his room.  He did not see You, but knew You were there.  “Nito, you may get rich with these weapons, but you will never have peace.  Every day will be like today... the law will be on your trail.”  Thank you, Lord, for Your mercy on Nito who turned in the stolen weapons and opened his heart to You a few days later.  You had mercy on Nito and on me, too.  Amen.


This time my tears did not stop.

Monday  2-15-16 (Home in Modesto)    
Scripture reading for today:    Lev 25    Psalm 25 - 26   Acts 22

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Acts 22:21 Then He said to me, 'Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.'" NKJV

O.  These were the key words.  Until this point these fervent Jews listened, but this was too much.  “Rid the earth of this man!”  It was these very words that gave you and me the chance to know Jesus.  These are the same words that drove me to distant nations abroad.  Jesus insisted that we GO into ALL the world.  His message and His sacrifice were not to intended to be only for the Jewish people.  They thought they had Jehovah God just for themselves, but they were mistaken. 

A.  A missionary that returned from China visited our church when I was a little child.  I saw the pictures and listened to the message.  I was just a kid, but I found myself kneeling at the altar bench and saying with tears, “Lord, I will go.”  And I thought God was calling me to China.  Then I rose off my knees and ran outside to play with the other kids and forgot all about China.  We had a different missionary visit about every three weeks it seemed... from India, Africa, Central America... wherever... I would weep a little and tell the Lord I would go.  But after years of this I knew God was not going to really send me anywhere.  He just wanted me to say “yes” and I could forget it.  It got really easy to say yes... because I wasn’t going anywhere.

P.  But one day, Lord Jesus, as I was serving as a pastor of a church... my tears did not stop.  The burden did not lift.  And I knew what you were saying, “Okay, Ralph, you said ‘yes’ so I am sending you to Argentina.  Now 53 years have passed and once again, Lord, I hear you say, “GO”.  So once more I am going.  Today I board the plane.  And I am counting on Your daily and hourly presence.   Amen.


Lord, You will lead me through this tangle.

Sunday  2-14-16 (Home in Modesto)     

Scripture reading for today:    Lev 23 – 24   Psalm 24   Acts 21

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Acts 21:13-14 Then Paul answered,"What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying,"The will of the Lord be done." NKJV

O.  Several prophets from among the disciples had foretold the capture and torture of Paul if he proceeded to Jerusalem.  But he had his heart set on it.  Did Paul step out of the perfect will of God and thus suffer torture and imprisonment?  I do not think so.  When he had just been converted Ananias was told by God, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."  (Acts 9:15-16)  NKJV

A.  Many times we preacher present the Christian life like a bowl of cherries.  Come to Jesus and all your problems will be solved.  For Paul they had just begun and he was not surprised.  It was just the fulfillment of what God had promised him.  We may suffer difficulties and persecution, but we are never alone.  Jesus promises to be with us every day.  That is enough.

P.  Oh Lord Jesus, now just as I am attempting to pack my bags, I am troubled by serious computer problems.  Several situations have converged on these last my few hours in the USA leaving me no time to pack up carefully.  I pray for your peace and tranquility in the midst of this turmoil... and I thank You in advance for it.  I appeal to You, Lord.  You know that in order to accomplish an effective ministry for You in Argentina and Uruguay I must have a phone and computer in perfect working order.  But I am not alone.  You will lead me through this tangle, I pray.  Amen.


And Lord, please help me not to preach like Paul, until midnight.

Saturday  2-13-16 (Home in Modesto)     

Scripture reading for today:    Lev 20 – 22   Acts 20

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Acts 20:5-8 These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. NKJV

O. The seaport city called Troas is mentioned only 6 times in the Bible.  The first two times was in Acts 16. While there, Paul had a vision from the Lord in the night and was called to Macedonia, Greece.  Luke writes of that first visit... “They” arrived at Troas... but moments later “We” put out to sea. This indicates that Luke, the medical doctor and historian, the author of this book must have been converted in Troas and joined Paul’s team on that first visit.  Now Troas is mention twice again in these verses indicating that there was now a solid church of disciples now in this city and they met on the third floor... and the young fellow falls out of the window.  The fifth mention is when Paul writes to the Corinthians and telling them: “I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me...” (2 Cor 2:12) NIV  The final time is in Paul’s last letter to Timothy just before going to his martyrdom.  This times he asks for his cloak and scrolls and especially the parchments that he had left with a brother named Carpus. 

A.  All this indicates to me that Troas became a launching pad for Paul to enter Greece and beyond.  Luke may well have been practicing medicine in this city when the love of Jesus conquered him.  Soon the Gospel became uppermost in his life and leaving all, he began to accompany Paul and witness first hand this Gospel in action.  Later he delved deeply into all the details of Jesus birth and life apparently interviewing Mary, the mother of Jesus and many others to write his first book. 

P.  Lord, many important things happened at Troas... things that made a difference for my life.  Paul’s call brought the Gospel to the people of Europe.  My background is Germany and England.  Today I enjoy studying Luke’s two books in the New Testament and am blessed by his first hand careful record of these things.  And by the way, thank You for raising that young man to life again after that fall from the third floor.  And Lord, help me to not preach as long as Your Apostle Paul... until midnight.  Amen.