Friday, July 29, 2016

Only 999 Short

Friday 7-29-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 57 – 59    Psalm 103    2 Peter 3
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Ps 103:1-5  Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. NKJV

O.  King David probably did not have many close friends... so he talked to himself.  He gave himself instructions in worship.  And check out the list of the benefits: Forgiveness for sins, healing, redemption, protection from destruction, lovingkindness and tender mercies.  All this plus a physical and spiritual renewal!

A.  This is probably my favorite psalm.  I memorized it when I was 13 and quoted it to the whole church at my Pastor William Booth-Clibborn’s insistence.  The rest of the psalm is as powerful as it’s beginning.  Almost every phrase rings bells of joy inside my soul. 

P.  Lord, You awoke me at 4:30 AM this morning.  You came to visit me!  I found myself walking through the semi- darkness of my house praising You in a Spanish, English and another language that You understand better than I do.  When I count my blessings it makes me start talking to myself.  I start giving orders to my soul using the two languages that I speak and with unknown languages of the Spirit... “Get with it, Ralph!  Let your soul bless the Lord!”  Amen.

Ralph  (story below)
Note: While I studied at Western Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, I was surrounded by dedicated young men and ladies that were being taught emphatically that “unknown tongues” were not for today.  However, one of their favorite hymns was “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing!”  They sang it over and over in chapel services.  They were only 999 short!
Charles Wesley in the 1700s
1 O for a thousand tongues to sing
my great Redeemer's praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!
2 My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
to spread thro' all the earth abroad
the honors of your name.
3 Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease,
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life and health and peace.
4 He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
he sets the prisoner free;
his blood can make the foulest clean;
his blood availed for me.
5 To God all glory, praise, and love
be now and ever given
by saints below and saints above,
the Church in earth and heaven.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

It shall prosper!

Thursday 7-28-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 53 – 56   2 Peter 2
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Isa 55:11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. NKJV

O.  This section of Isaiah’s book is filled with marvelous Messianic prophecies.  Practically every phrase in these chapters is another golden nugget and merits a book of thrilling comments. 

A.  Today it is this short declaration that the Lord made to stand out as encouragement to this old preacher of the “God’s Word”.  If I can be faithful to proclaim His “Word”, I can count on divine results.  God’s Spirit will allow His “Word” to sink into the soul of the listener.  He will follow it like the GPS in my car is followed by that satellite in the sky.  It will finally accomplish what He pleases.  It will prosper.  It will fulfill its divine purpose.    

P.  Lord, I gave the invitation and no one responded.  Did I need some sweet music as a backdrop?  Did I not press for a decision as I should have?  Where did I fail?  I think I hear You answering me this morning: “Ralph, there was a response.  You just could not see it.  For my Word will not fail in its purpose.  It will follow that soul to his and her dying day.  Keep preaching My Word and trust Me for the results.”  Okay, Lord.  Then please give me a fresh anointing for this coming weekend.  For without You I can do nothing.  Amen.

Jesus never fails
Jesus never fails
Heaven and earth shall pass away
But Jesus never fails

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hurrah! “They shall still bear fruit in old age”

Hurrah! “They shall still bear fruit in old age”

Wednesday 7-27-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 50 – 52   Psalm 92    2 Peter 1
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Ps 92:12-15 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. NKJV
2 Peter 1:13-15 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. NKJV

O.  The psalmist uses the metaphor of ancient trees that will still flourish and bear fruit in old age.  Peter refers to his body as a tent where he lives, but the Lord Jesus Christ has showed him that he will soon be “putting off his tent”.  So this, his final letter, is so beautifully written to leave behind a heritage of encouragement to his fellow servants of God.

A.  For some reason scriptures that offer hope and strength to the elderly seem to leap off the page when I read them. J I want this old tree to keep fresh and flourishing, declaring the goodness of God and bearing spiritual fruit. 

P.  Lord Jesus, You have not disclosed to me that I am about to be carried to glory, but I am fully aware that the day is getting closer with every sunrise.  Oh!  What a day that will be!  But it is my desire, my joy to be a fruitful tree right up to that last day.  And may I be able to say to each of my dearest loved ones without hesitating, “See you later, over on the other side!”  What a way to go!  Amen.

Oh!  That will be Glory!
Charles Gabriel 1900

1.      When all my labors and trials are o’er,
And I am safe on that beautiful shore,
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore,
Will through the ages be glory for me.
o    Refrain:
Oh, that will be glory for me,
Glory for me, glory for me,
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.
2.      When, by the gift of His infinite grace,
I am accorded in heaven a place,
Just to be there and to look on His face,
Will through the ages be glory for me.
3.      Friends will be there I have loved long ago;
Joy like a river around me will flow;
Yet just a smile from my Savior, I know,
Will through the ages be glory for me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pastor, are you listening?

Tuesday 7-26-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 46 – 49    1 Peter 5
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  1 Peter 5:1-4 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. NKJV

O.  Jesus clearly used two metaphors related to his disciples.  Peter was first called to be an evangelist, a fisher of men.  Then, after the resurrection of Christ, Jesus clearly calls him to be a pastor, a shepherd, feeding the little lambs and the mature sheep as well.  Years have passed and now many pastors were serving, each with his little struggling flock.  Peter is “passing on” his calling to the younger shepherds.  Can a pastor also be an evangelist?  One of Peter’s earliest assignments was to carry the gospel to Cornelius and his extended family.  If a pastor fails in his role as evangelist, he has missed an important part of his calling.  Now after years of service, Peter has become a shepherd to shepherds.

A.  In my role as a pastor I must never forget that I am first an evangelist, a fisher of men... then a tender and loving shepherd to my flock, to those that Christ has placed in my care.  People of our flocks today can so easily be offended by someone in the church or even by the pastor.  I see my role as pastor is to go after that lost sheep with humility, tenderness and love and be successful in bringing that sheep back into the fold with rejoicing.

P.  Lord Jesus, I thank You that You have not taken me out of active service to You... yet.  Every day is a miracle as You supply me with the energy to continue.  Some of my dearest friends find that their aging bodies have forced their ministry to develop different channels.  I may be forced to join them soon.  Help us all to our dying day to be “fishers of men” evangelists... and seeking for Your new ways that we may “seek and save” the lost.  At the same time may we still be “shepherds” tenderly blessing those within our limited scope of influence.  Amen.


The Ninety and Nine
By Elizabeth D. Clephane 1868

1.    There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold;
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare;
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
2.    “Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?”
But the Shepherd made answer: “This of Mine
Has wandered away from Me.
And although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep.”
3.    But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry;
’Twas sick and helpless and ready to die.
4.    “Lord, whence are those blood-drops all the way,
That mark out the mountain’s track?”
“They were shed for one who had gone astray
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.”
“Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?”
“They’re pierced tonight by many a thorn.”

And all through the mountains, thunder-riv’n,
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of heav’n,
“Rejoice! I have found My sheep!”
And the angels echoed around the throne,
“Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!”

Redeemed! And may I proclaim it!

Monday 7-25-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 43 – 45    1 Peter 4
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Isa 44:22-23 Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.  Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it!  Shout, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it!  NKJV

O.  Isaiah directed his message to the Israelites, but the Lord Jesus redeemed all the nations of the earth.  He’s paid the price.  Now calls them to return to Him.

A.  The message the Lord places in my mouth is called Gospel, “Good News”.  You and I have been redeemed!  The full price has been paid.  We have all sinned, but Jesus did better than post bail for us.  For a criminal may have a friend who posts bail, but at the set time he or she still must face the judge and suffer the consequences.  Jesus did not just post bail for me, He actually paid the entire price.  He took the consequences of my sin upon Himself and set me free!  That is something to sing about!

P.  I have been redeemed!  I didn’t do it!  I couldn’t do it!  A wealthy friend could never do it.  Only one sacrifice could do it.  It was promised centuries before and the Son of God came and paid my ransom right on time.  His short visit to earth split the millenniums in two.  There is a before and after.  Now He simply calls us to return to Him for our debt is cancelled in full.  Yes, it makes me want to sing.  Amen.

Sing it with me and let this thought make your day!

Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It

By Fanny Crosby

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

Redeemed, redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am.

I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long:
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.

Redeemed, redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am.

I know there's a crown that is waiting,
In yonder bright mansion for me,
And soon, with the spirits made perfect,
At home with the Lord I shall be.

Redeemed, redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

How Big is God?

The True Gentle Giant

Sunday 7-24-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 40 – 42    1 Peter 3
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Isa 40:11-12 He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.  Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span...  NKJV

O.  Isaiah has a way with words.  In one breath he describes our Lord God as a gentle Shepherd, carrying a tiny baby lamb in His arms.  Then in the next breath he presents the greatness of God who can cup the oceans in the palm of his hand and use the span of His fingertips to measure the vastness of space.

A.  The true and living God that I serve is the Creator of all the expanse of space filled with millions of galaxies, yet He descended to walk with us... and He still walks with me as a gentle Shepherd.  I can trust Jesus.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He is both powerful and gentle.  He is big enough to handle my emergencies and tender enough to hold me in His arms like a newborn lamb.  That’s the Jesus I love and serve.

P.  Lord, my vocabulary is limited and my mind incapable of expressing or comprehending Your greatness.  But when You cuddle me in Your arms and press me to Your heart, I sense the comfort that only You can give.  You are still the One Who can calm vicious storms and then stoop to touch a leper with Your tender love.  I am Yours forever.  Amen.

How Big is God
Though man may strive to go beyond the reach of space
To crawl beyond the distant shim'ring stars
This world's a room so small within my Master's house
The open sky's but a portion of His yard
How big is God? How big and wide His vast domain
To try and tell, these lips can only start
He's big enough to rule His mighty universe
Yet small enough to live within my heart
As winter's chill may cause the tiny seed to fall
To lie asleep till waked by summer's rain
The heart grown cold will warm and throb with life anew
The Master's touch will bring the glow again

I'm a child of the King

The paparazzi are following me!

Saturday 7-23-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  2 Kings 20    Isaiah 38 – 39   Psalm 75    1 Peter 2
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. NKJV

O.  The Christian has been chosen to become royalty.  One of the disadvantages of being royalty is you are in the public eye at all times.  You lose your privacy.  Peter calls upon us to live holy lives and thus we can bring praise to Him who called us out of the darkness of sin into His marvelous light.  The eyes of the world are watching us. 

A.  As a Christian I have a wonderful privilege.  I’m a child of the King!  And like all royalty, I attract the eyes of many whether I like it or not.  I can either shine for Jesus Christ in a dark and sinful world or I can become careless, surrendering to the evil language and customs of our environment and damage the cause of Christ, bringing shame on His name.  I may not see the paparazzi following me with cameras, but someone is watching... and their eternal destiny may depend upon my actions and reactions.  Years ago I checked and found my pictures and messages scattered all over Facebook... mostly with my Spanish name, Rafael.  

P.  Lord, my life is not a secret.  Even my private life will be invaded by the paparazzi of this world.  Young eyes are watching me.  I carry your name as a “Christian.”  Help me live up to Your name by “laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.” (1 Peter 2:1) May my conduct be honorable, like a true prince or a princess, a child of King Jesus!  May I light-up a dark world!  Amen.

A Child of the King
Harriet E. Buell 1877

My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold.
I’m a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I’m a child of the King.
My Father’s own Son, the Savior of men,
Once wandered on earth as the poorest of them;
But now He is pleading our pardon on high,
That we may be His when He comes by and by.
I once was an outcast stranger on earth,
A sinner by choice, an alien by birth,
But I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down,
An heir to a mansion, a robe and a crown.
A tent or a cottage, why should I care?
They’re building a palace for me over there;
Though exiled from home, yet still may I sing:
All glory to God, I’m a child of the King.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Now it came to pass...

Friday 7-22-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 36 – 37   Psalm 76    1 Peter 1
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Isaiah 36:1 Now it came to pass... NKJV
1 Peter 1:6-8 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. NKJV

O.  Peter writes to those Christians that have fled for their lives to distant lands to escape the deadly persecution within Israel at that time.  He lets them know that their affliction is temporary... just for a little while.  Their faith will carry them through to the other side where they will rejoice. 

A.  Isaiah 36 and 37 relate the story of a very difficult time in the life of King Hezekiah and his city.  In the NKJV it starts out “And it came to pass...”.  Back when I was a kid I heard about a black minister that preached from those misinterpreted words to his racially persecuted, suffering congregation with great fervor.  He would probably say: It came to pass... not to stay.  This ain’t gonna last!  It’s a temporary trial.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Jesus is waiting for us there!”  I can just about hear the “Amens” and “Glory to God!” Now Peter joins in this thought.  He says to me, “Hang in there!  Don’t let your faith get shaken!  This trial is only now “for a little while”.  It’s going to pass.  It is temporary.  Soon you will be rejoicing!”

P.  Lord Jesus, You give me hope.  This trial is on its way out.  Better days are coming.  I will get my strong voice back.  Lord, I pray that you may encourage some struggling soul with this word. “It came to pass.”  These trials have come only “for a little while.”  Better days are just ahead for others and for me.  Although our eyes have not seen You yet, we have trusted... and we will still trust in You.  Amen.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

There was no hope outside of a miracle.

Thursday 7-21-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  2 Kings 18 – 19    2 Chron 32    James 5
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  2 Kings 19:14-16 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.  Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said: "O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. NKJV

O.  With Jerusalem surrounded by a powerful enemy, Hezekiah took Sennacherib’s threatening letter, probably a scroll, and went to the house of God where he spread it out before the Lord.  He knew that he and his city were doomed without a miracle.

A.  (Early 1980s) Missionary Norman Campbell was starting a new church in Palermo, an expensive neighborhood of Buenos Aires.  He was renting Saint Paul’s Church, a well-built old church building with an option to purchase it.  All was progressing toward its purchase.  The former owners, representing a church denomination, were anxious to sell.  But a club of elderly people brought a law suit against the sale.  They had been meeting there monthly as a club and wanted to preserve it as a museum.  Norman had contracted a very capable lady lawyer to help him through this tangled situation.  It was down to the last day and it was obvious that the club was going to win.  Then this lady lawyer told us this story.  “I knew there was no hope outside of a miracle.  I went into my bedroom and laid out the thick folder of legal documents on a chair and I knelt down in front of it there in the darkness and prayed.  ‘God, You know that without Your miracle we cannot win.’”  She goes on: “Suddenly I could see through the huge folder of papers and a single sentence stood out to me.  I searched through them and found it.  And that sentence made the difference.”  Norman’s church won the law suit, the building was purchased, and a thriving church called “Saint Paul’s Assembly of God” serves that community today. 
Have you ever taken your problem, your medical test result, your legal document, your helpless situation... and just spread it out before the Lord?  Hezekiah did and God read the document and took charge.

P.  Father in heaven, I know that You are bigger than my problem.  Help me to run to you and spread it out before You.  You have intervened for me so many times.  You can do it again.  I thank You in advance for I pray in the authority of Your Son, Jesus’ name.  Amen.

My mother used to sing this one:   
Leave It There
By Charles A. Tinley  1916

1.    If the world from you withhold of its silver and its gold,
And you have to get along with meager fare,
Just remember, in His Word, how He feeds the little bird—
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
o    Refrain:
Leave it there, leave it there,
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there;
If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out—
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
2.    If your body suffers pain and your health you can’t regain,
And your soul is almost sinking in despair,
Jesus knows the pain you feel, He can save and He can heal—
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
3.    When your enemies assail and your heart begins to fail,
Don’t forget that God in Heaven answers prayer;
He will make a way for you and will lead you safely through—
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
4.    When your youthful days are gone and old age is stealing on,
And your body bends beneath the weight of care;
He will never leave you then, He’ll go with you to the end—
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Abi raised a godly son who turned the tide.

Tuesday 7-20-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  2 Chron 29 - 31   James 4
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  2 Chron 29:1-2  Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abijah* the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done.

Vs 10-11 "Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us. My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him, and that you should minister to Him and burn incense."

2 Chron 31:20-21  Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the LORD his God.  And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered. NKJV

O.  One, two, three:  1. Hezekiah becomes king and his mother Abi* is named.  2. He calls together the leadership and declares what he has in his heart to accomplish.  3. He succeeded in his plan and so he and all his people were prospered. 

How important is a mother?  In many cases a new king is mentioned in biblical text along with his mother’s name.  In most cases they were mothers that served idols and taught their false religions to their children.  These are followed with stories of horrible wars... endless terrifying bloodshed of babies, children, even pregnant women being ripped open to die, and much more.  How refreshing to read the story of Hezekiah, son of a godly mother... who determines in his heart to change this downhill rampage! 

A.  I was fortunate to have a godly mother.  She poured her life into mentoring her five children.  I owe my faith in God mostly to her.  Her passion to follow Christ and to save the lost was contagious.

P.  Lord, sometimes we forget the importance of the spiritual heritage we are leaving behind in our children.  We concern ourselves with providing them with food, clothing and education... and too often allow them to stumble and fall for a lack of serious, intentional biblical mentoring.  Lord, please allow me today to encourage mothers and fathers to begin early... with their little toddlers and young children to purposely saturate their little lives with godly instruction and example.  Amen.


*“Abijah” is called “Abi” in 2 Kings 18.  The “Jah” is often a reference to Jehovah.  Her name may contain a clue to her godliness.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Willing to Yield?

Tuesday 7-19-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  2 kings 17   2 Chron 28   Psalm 46   James 3
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  James 3:17-18 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. NKJV

O.  Brother James was a practical leader.  He dealt with the issues at hand, making corrections and promoting godly living.  Here he deals with the Source of true wisdom.  It comes from above.  It begins with God.  It is pure, peaceable and gentle.  And willing to yield!  It is merciful.  It treats all with the same kindness and does not hide behind a false image.  Wisdom from above produces righteousness and peace. 

A.  What!  Wisdom that is willing to yield?  No way!  I am right and you are wrong!  Too often I am prone to respond with my own brand of wisdom.  Aye!  But my sinful human nature has tainted my “wisdom”.  My wisdom is flawed.  It is not perfectly pure as God’s wisdom is. Sometimes it is not gentle, not peaceable, and certainly not ready to yield.  So where can I find this “wisdom from above”?  In James 1:5 he writes “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” NKJV  And wisdom from above also flows like a river from God’s Holy Word. 

P.  Oh Lord, how many times do I have to request Your wisdom from above?  It seems that I use up my supply every day, sometimes every few hours.  Don’t let me ever forget that true wisdom does not naturally flow just from my past experiences, although I may have learned much from those experiences.  True wisdom, pure wisdom, unselfish wisdom, gentle wisdom, peace seeking wisdom has its source in Your heart. Your wonderful wisdom may even make me willing to yield my position to bring about a peaceable solution.  Amen.


Monday, July 18, 2016

It’s a Highway to Heaven

Monday 7-18-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 32 - 35     James 2
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S. Isa 35:8  A highway shall be there, and a road, And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.  The unclean shall not pass over it.
Vs 10  And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing with everlasting joy on their heads.  They shall obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.  NKJV

O.  For three chapters the prophet Isaiah has breathed out God’s terrifying judgment on the wicked.  Suddenly in chapter 35 he fills the air with promises of ransom, redemption and singing with joy and new hope. 

A.  Nobody wants to sing about God’s wrath against sinners.  We don’t write songs about that.  Yet the truth stands that unless I can first recognize my sinful state, the reality of my deserving of God’s judgment, I cannot fully rejoice in His free gift of cleansing and reconciliation with Him.  But now I can sing as I march up that wonderful highway for I am among the ransomed of the Lord
*Story below.

P.  Lord, You called it the Highway of Holiness.  We don’t use that term “holiness” much anymore.  It became a legalistic term representing religious prigs.  But I must not forget that Your highway is one of true holiness.  I want to walk there with You... and hopefully take a lot of friends with me.  Amen.


*We were just kids in my mid-teens.  My friend, Jill, wanted me to take her to a black church.  So we dropped in and took a seat.  Obviously we stood out since were the only whites in the congregation.  The service hadn’t started yet.  Someone came to us and asked, “Which one of you plays the piano?”  Jill pointed at me.  They took me up on the platform and sat me on the piano bench.  I wasn’t that good on the piano and was terrified.  They announced a song.  I gave them a little intro and away they went!  Wow!  Could they sing!  I pounded all over that piano and I doubt that anyone could even hear me.  The blacks have a way of putting their whole being into song.

If you dare... check this one out... “Highway to Heaven:”

The Art of Silence

Sunday 7-17-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 29 - 31     James 1
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  James 1:19-20  So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. NKJV

O.  James encourages us to be good listeners, wise counselors and always with our temper under control.  An act made in a flurry of anger never displays the righteousness of God. 

A.  Too often I have it backwards.  I am quick to speak and slow to hear.  Simon Peter was always the one who was too quick to speak.  I had a friend who now is with the Lord.  He was a wise man.  Everyone respected him for his wisdom.  Whenever someone asked us a question.  My mouth instantly had something to say.  But he was very slow to speak.  Silently, inside of me I was pushing for him to answer... “Come on!  Speak!  Speak!”  The long 5 or 10 second pause of silence was driving me crazy!  Then, in his good time, slowly he would come out with his answer well considered and even his sentences well formed.  How many times, both Brother Peter and I might have liked to have erased our spoken words, but spoken words cannot be undone.  I would want to reach out into the air and stuff the words back in my mouth, but it was too late.  All I could do was apologize and ask forgiveness... and, yes, I have found myself having to do that far too often.

P.  Lord, today Brother James is my mentor.  When can I ever mature and learn what he is teaching me?  Is there no hope for the likes of me?  I know better, but my mouth gets going before my brain is engaged.  There I am listening to my instant answer blurting out while the other person has not even completed his sentence yet.  Lord, teach me the art of silence.  Amen.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Tall preacher, short bed.

Saturday 7-16-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 25-28     Hebrews 13
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Isa 28:20  For the bed is too short to stretch out on and the covering so narrow that one cannot wrap himself in it.  NKJV

O.  God is describing Israel’s unsatisfactory human efforts to protect themselves from His divine judgment for their sin.

A.  The year was probably 1940 and I was 9 years old when Evangelist Harry Springer set up a large tent in Portland, Oregon.  Mother took us to every Gospel ‘happening’ that existed.  I’ll never forget this tall skinny preacher that acted out his sermons.  Once he literally leaped over the pulpit and landed standing on the old altar bench.  That’s how I remembered his name: “Springer”.  One night he preached from the above text. (Isaiah 28:20) He took two chairs and faced them together to make a very short bed.  Then he tried to squeeze his long, lanky body onto that bed and tried to cover himself with his jacket.  “Them was the days!”  I don’t remember how he applied that text.  I just recall his wild actions and that his wife, who sat on the platform, nodded her head to the rhythm of the music which was uncommon in those days.  And I remember that every night at the altar call I wanted to go up and get saved again just to make sure.

So what’s with a bed too short and a covering too narrow? It’s the religion of millions. We think we’re pretty good, at least not as bad as that other guy over there.  But we are really crumpled up on an inadequate bed.  Our good deeds, like Brother Springer’s jacket, fall far short of covering our sins to shelter us from God’s judgment.  Then Jesus came to become our covering.

P.  Lord, I thank you for a mother that wanted to expose her children to every significant Gospel event.  She was hungry for God’s best and planted that same hunger inside our hearts.  Jesus, You know that the total of all my good deeds could never out-weigh the guilt of my sin.  Praise God!  I am covered with a robe of righteousness that only You could provide for me.  I trust in You.  Amen.


“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD.  My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation.  He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”  Isa 61:10 NKJV

I Am Covered Over With The Robe of Righteousness 
I am covered over with the robe of righteousness that
Jesus gives to me, gives to me;
I am covered over with the precious blood of Jesus
And he lives in me, he lives in me,
Oh what a joy it is to know my Heavenly Father loves me so,
He gives to me, my Jesus,
When He looks at me He sees not what I use to be, but
He sees Jesus, Jesus.

Friday, July 15, 2016

500 futile bronze shields

Friday 7-15-2016   Home in Modesto
Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 22-24     Hebrews 12
S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.

S.  Isa 22:8  He removed the protection of Judah.  You looked in that day to the armor of the House of the Forest; NKJV

O.  The prophet is warning the people of Jerusalem that since they had rejected God, he would lift His protection from them.  Decades earlier King Solomon had built the House of the Forest in which he had installed 500 shields of pure gold.  It was like their armory.  That armory was later plundered and King Rehoboam replaced the golden shields with bronze ones.  And here in Isaiah’s prophecy, now that God had lifted His hand of care, the people would run for their futile bronze shields for protection.

A.  As I was reading Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Jerusalem this morning these words seemed to leap off the page.  “He removed the protection of Judah.”  I am very fortunate to live in a land whose leadership, since its inception has sought for God’s protection.  Through two terrifying world wars we never saw the fury of those battles on our mainland.  As a boy I played on the heavily armed beaches of Oregon while US blimps searched the waters for Japanese submarines.  If Japan could, it would soon be bombing the city of Portland where my father and Frances’ widowed mother, were working in the ship-yards building great war vessels. 
Ah!  But in those days, our political leadership, along with our Christians were crying out to God for His protection.  We escaped by a miracle from heaven.
Today God has been mocked and banned by many of our political leaders.  He has been ejected and prohibited entrance into our schools.  Our freedoms are being challenged.  Only the Christians are still praying for God’s protection from the surrounding forces seeking our destruction.  Oh yes, we called on God after September 11, 2001... but only because we witnessed disaster. 

P.  You know, Lord, that from the earliest days of the English colonies on America’s soil, for well over 200 years this land’s leaders called upon You for their protection... and every Christian joined them.  I plead with You, do not lift Your hand of protection from us now.  Have mercy on us even though our leaders may mock You and have literally kicked You out of their legislative houses.  For the sake of the many who still do seek Your shelter, Your covering in this age of global conflict, please do not “remove Your protection” from this nation.  For the moment You do... we will discover that we are doomed if we depend upon our puny armor of “bronze shields”.  Amen.

God Bless America
"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea, 
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free, 
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, 
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. " 

God Bless America, 
Land that I love. 
Stand beside her, and guide her 
Thru the night with a light from above. 
From the mountains, to the prairies, 
To the oceans, white with foam 
God bless America, My home sweet home