2017
Devotion
Archives
Text Date Title Home Page Text Date Title
Proverbs 19:18 2/19/2017 When There Is Hope Devotions
Beginning
5/1/17
Psalm 37 2/12/2017 Confronting 'No Fairs'
Psalm 82 2/20/2017 Judgment of Judges Proverbs 31 2/22/2017 A Mother's Teaching
Joshua 1:1-6 2/2602017 Don't Limit God Romans 12:3 2/27/2017 Right's Right! Right
Proverbs 27:5-6 3/01/2017 Unwanted Love   3/8/2017 A Prayer for America
Psalm 42:11 3/13/2017 Spoiled by God Selected 3/13/2017 Ingest, Digest, Indigestion
Matthew 28:18-19 3/18/17 Last Words of Jesus Psalm 1:5 3/24/2017 In God's Time
Psalms 67:1-2 3/24/17 Marching Orders Psalm 24:1 3/14/17 Bought by A Price
Psalm 35:8 4/6/17 Halloween Night Lesson Psalm 40:6 4/16/17 Now, You Have My Attention
Psalm 81 4/18/17 A Song of Salvation Psalm 122:6 4/25/2017 Caution! Prayers Are Answered
Click HERE for Devotion Archives beginning May 1, 2017.

'While There Is Hope'
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

--Proverbs 19:18 (KJV)                               Feb. 19, 2017

 

When is there hope?  Does it not live so long as love endures?  Hope endures so long as life survives, and here choices mean a world of difference, literally.

Neither father or mother ever enjoy freedom from the obligation to train their children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).  A child is instructed by God to respect his/her mother and father that their days may be many, and this, I believe, involves giving ear to their disciplining. Here we see God's instruction to both and his expectations for both.

This verse, for me, is not easy to understand as written in the King James Version.  The New  International Version puts it: “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (Proverbs 19:18 (NIV))

While the KJV doesn’t make much sense to me, I find the NIV illogical, but close to the true meaning.  The Hebrew  word for “crying,” as in the KJV, is “mũth,” (mooth).  It means kill or put to death.  Thus, for me the verse is properly read:

Discipline your child rightly, careful to avoid (1) killing your relationship with him or her if possible, but (2) be diligent to discipline to prevent their spiritual death via the devil.  Sometimes it’s a precarious, dangerous and not an enjoyable work.

Discipline is excessive when it stops being restorative and becomes retribution. Here the mind, heart and temper of the parent must be Godly inspired and lovingly applied lest it become destructive. This is what Paul had in mind, I think, when he wrote: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  (Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 (KJV))

Excessive discipline is as deadly as too little.  One must partner with the Holy Spirit, which is, of itself, a self-discipline.

The dities of disciplining a child is a life-long, and beyond.  It's a duty that includes instruction on stewardship of the gift of God called “life.”  Discipline is more than teaching the “dos” and “don’ts” so a child can grow up to be an adult.  Discipline is teaching, by word and example, a child about values and morals and faith, so they have the abundant life Jesus came to enable for them. 

Often the child -- especially the adult child -- resents this parental imposition into their lives.  Thus, they reason, they’re adults, and can make their own decisions.  That is not being a mature adult, it’s being a rebellious child with a lot to learn about wisdom. 

My mother died in 1996.  She had an eighth grade education.  She was one of the wisest people I ever knew; however, and it amazes me now, at 73, just how smart she was and is still getting smarter.  Her discipline lived on after her body quit, and I and my siblings have been the better for it. 

Sometimes, as parents, we grow frustrated.  We’re ready to give up.  That’s when we must remember the “long-suffering” Lord didn’t give up on us.  And, He still isn’t!

To paraphrase a beautiful scripture, we may not always enjoy the “peace that passes understanding,” and that’s OK.  Even then, let us pray our way to “a faith that exceeds our present understanding.” 

Peter knew about frustration, how lonely and much a failure one can feel.  So he wrote: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:12-13 (KJV)) (emphasis mine) 

Peter didn’t say “if” God’s glory is revealed.  He said “when.”  It will happen. You and I, dear parents one the frontline of this battle, must refuse to surrender.  There is One who is in this fight with us, and He – as we – shall be the victors.  St. Paul testified to Timothy: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12 (KJV))

To God I must turn, because He – only He – can change the circumstances that’s gain for my children, the thing I want most:  An endless life with them in heaven’s beauty.

The hurts I feel, fears so real
When my child my joys steal,
Remind me, O God, that You, too,
Are grieved by many things I do
Don Meadows
1/19/2017

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Confronting 'No-Fairs'

Psalms 37 (read psalm)                 Feb. 12, 2017

When our twin sons were boys, they loved to play with what was then a new marvel: Atari.  Their favorite was "Combat," which was air-to-air dogfights with biplanes of the World War I era.

One of the boys -- I think it was Joel -- discovered first he could guide his plane out of the screen on the right and it would instantly reappear on the left side.  James, thus, was at a disadvantage and would yell out, "No fair, no fair!" Joel would just laugh.

The psalmist recognizes there are many "no-fairs" in our world.  We either will confront them, maybe even cause them.  How to deal with them is suggested in Veses 1 and 2:

"Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Psalm 37:1-2 (KJV)

When you read the entire psalm, you find many gems about dealing with "no-fairs.  Here is but a sampling:

Vs. 3  Trust in the Lord and do good.
Vs. 7  Be still before the Lord
Vs. 8  Refrain from anger
Vs. 13 ". . . the Lord laughs at the wicked"
Vs. 27 Turn from evil and do good . . .
Vs. 34 Wait for the Lord and keep His way..

 

So, give your soul a treat.  Read it now (click here), and permit the Lord to bless you mightily! See how many more you can find!

The better  way, Thy Word doth show,
How to walk rightly and where to go.
Thus, guide me, Lord, and direct my way
So in Thy will I'll be found every day.
Don Meadows
Feb. 12, 2017

Psalm 37:1-40 (KJV)
1  Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2  For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3  Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6  And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
7  Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
8  Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. 9  For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
10  For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
11  But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
12  The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
13  The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
14  The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
15  Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
16  A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
17  For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.
18  The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
19  They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20  But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
21  The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
22  For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
23  The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
24  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
25  I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
26  He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
27  Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
28  For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
29  The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
30  The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
31  The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
32  The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.
33  The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.
34  Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
35  I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
36  Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
37  Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
38  But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.
39  But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
40  And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.

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Judgment of Judges

Psalm 82

 The hullabaloo over President Trump’s nomination for the United States Supreme Court isn’t a big surprise.  Not withstanding the political silliness of the controversy, where judges and justices and judgments come into play, argument is sure to break out.

 This is almost guaranteed when you realize that there are at least two sides seeking the advantage, and some man or woman must made a decision that is going to not set well with one side of the fracas.

Psalm 82 takes us in a different look at the job of judging.  It says, quiet bluntly, that judges will be judged.  This does not meaning their cases will be reviewed by higher courts.  It’s more serious than that.  Judges will be judged by God on how they have judged.

Verse 6 says judges are “gods.”   This doesn’t mean they are deity, and to say such a thing is not idolatry.  What God’s Word means here is that those who sit on benches are there to do God’s will.  God has had a hand in their being so elevated, and He expects them to do it right, and “right” means their verdicts are to reflect God’s meanings about what “right” means.

Too often we witness judges injecting politics into their decisions.  They are prone to interpret and decide in ways that please society, often bringing anger and division on a massive scale.  When judges do that, or render a morally contemptible verdict, which, they declare, is constitutional and the law, they had better know what they’re doing.  God will judge the judge or judges, and ask accounting of their sin-contaminated rulings.

If our court officials really believed this, I wonder how many verdicts might have been different?

I celebrate that there are some who do know this and try to hand down true and moral verdicts.  Often they face ridicule and derision, and often their decisions are appealed until the verdict evil wants is given.

Verses 2 and 3 discuss injustice verses justice.  Verse 5 is a strong condemnation of unjust decisions, and says judges who hand down these wrong judgments walk in darkness.  Unfortunately, their actions can affect millions of people, even the whole world.

The psalmist reminds all people, even judges, that like all men and women, “You will die.  You will fall away like all other rulers.

The psalmist then pleads: “Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are Your inheritance.”  All people, even judges, to recall what Hebrews 9:27 tells us.  It is appointed unto man once to die then face their judgment, of which there is no appeal.  Isaiah declares (28:6) that God will be a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gates.

God will judge judges, and righteous judges will be strengthened to repel the onslaught of evil which is trying to tear down the doors of fairness and morality in our world today.

I pray for judges on every bench,
Who weigh claims of right and wrong.
Grant wisdom that their verdicts clinch
Your will, O Lord, and truth kept strong!
 
Don Meadows
2/20/2017

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A Mother's Teaching

Proverbs 31

Proverbs is great reading.  You find it is comprised mostly of Hebrew Poetry, but is rich in wisdom to guide one each day. 

While I was reading Proverbs 31, several things jumped out at me which I believe you will appreciate.  If you have thoughts on these verses, please send them to me via email.  I’ll try to share them in the near future.  I believe that sharing thoughts among Bible readers is helpful to all who participate.  Click HERE for an email form you can use. You can read it by clicking on this link.

My contributions are given in brief “note” form with the related verses at left.

1.  Lemuel (lem--oo'--ale"  (belonging to God).  Strong suggests this is a name that symbolical of Solomon. Little is known about Lemuel except that he was a king who received wise teachings from his mother. His name means "devoted, belonging to God." Some believe that Lemuel and Agur were both from the kingdom of Massa in northern Arabia. (Life Application Study Bible.)

3. Don't compromise the integrity of your position.  Here is a warning to be carefully about sexual stewardship and other moral and political assets. When one has sexual relations with a woman, they make themselves vulnerable in every way.  Nor, his mother teaches, sacrifice your credibility to other temptations, lest you discredit your reputation and position and forfeit your power.

4-5. Avoid strong drink.  This can result in loss of judgment, resulting in it being wrongly applied for those who need your wisdom the most, those for whom God has assigned to your protection. 

6-7. Use strong drink for those about to die.  The verse also suggests two medicinal uses -- comfort for those near death and those emotionally in great pain because of many life circumstances. While these may be acceptable for some, it is not appropriate for leaders who have influence or responsibility for others. I take the position that using strong drink should be avoided, but the context of this advice, I think, was given in a societ that didn’t have the medical knowledge we have today, nor the medications.

8-9. Be the voice of those who can't speak for themselves.  You must become the advocate for those who need one.  "Appointed" refers to children, offspring endangered with destruction. Use the power and prestige you have for discernment and fight for justice for everyone, whatever their social standing.

10. The KJV translates the characteristic of a "woman/wife" as "virtuous."  NASB renders H2428 as "excellent" and the NIV has it "noble character." The Hebrew word is "hayil' (khah'-yil) (Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.)  Interesting choice because it refers to "army, wealth, virtue, and strength." The idea here is that a good wife is a “someone” -- not a “something.” Life Application Bible Notes has an interesting perspective. One line is especially instructive:  "Do not see her as a model to imitate in every detail; your days are not long enough to do everything she does! See her instead as an inspiration to be all you can be." (Life Application Study Bible Notes).

Vs. 11-29.  Here we find a listing of her many skills and works.  It's kind of "pie-in-the-sky" perfection, but, still, desired accomplishments for right-hearted women.

Vs. 30-31.  Here is the heart of this chapter.  For a woman to bestow upon others a "favor" can be deception.  Many have fallen victim to this tactic.  Physical beauty, too often, becomes a vain thing, robbing a person of accurate understanding of true worth.  Instead, the real beauty of a woman -- and a man -- is found in the heart and loyalties -- first to the Lord and then to family.

Praise shall come from those to whom she is related, and praise shall come to her from God.  When she is reaps the results of her faith and works, she will gain praise from many, many others. Perhaps most importantly, she will have satisfaction and joy in her own heart.

A good wife, sacred gift from God,
To a man whom the Lord did choose!
One in Him, these products of sod,
Can share eternal love, never to lose!
Don Meadows
1/31/2017

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Don’t Limit God!

Joshua 1:1-6

(Read Text)

 

Moses' death served notice on God's people that his mission is not dependant upon any one person.  I've seen congregations which, after long-term leadership of a pastor, kinda dry up and lose their vitality and vision for being Church.  I've seen churches which, when a long-term pastor leaves, acts like God left with him.

In their wilderness journey, Joshua was "Moses' minister (trusted servant, ready to serve Moses).  Thus, it was to be expected that Joshua would take up the role of leader as Israel began to move into the land promised to them.  

Verse 1 declares that God "spake unto Joshua."  The word "spake" also means "call" -- or God called Joshua to succeed Moses.  His calling was to take the territory Israel had been promised.

 Three statements by God cemented the deal, so far as Joshua was concerned. 


The first statement is two-fold.  

In Verse 2, God tells Joshua:  "Arise and go over this Jordan."  The first required Joshua – thus Israel -- to obey God.  Get up.  Don't just sit there. The second required they follow the course set by God. Go over.  Get going. Or, in Nike language, "Just Do It."

We increasingly are seeing a dislike for taking action on behalf of God.  The Lord didn't ask for sacrifices, donations of money or pretty words of loyalty.  What God required was a person and a people who would do his bidding.

 Joshua was not selected by the Urim and Thummin -- or chance. God spoke to, called Joshua direct, one-on-one.  

He still is seeking believers who will answer his call upon their lives because He has a plan for His people.  To accomplish that plan, God needs followers

He doesn't want to hear, "Let me think about it."  "Let me pray about it."  God wants a response --  a "yes" or "no" so his people can go on the take ownership of what God has promised.


The second statement is in Verse 3.  

Every place you walk, I have given to you.  God didn't say, I will give it to you.  He said I have given it to you.  The deal  is done.  No man will be able to stand against you, because I will be with you.

When we do what God commands, take this promise to the bank: "I will be with you."  We don't have to pray that God will be with us.  We're to recognize that He is.  Our prayers need to be thankful for that.

 Whatever the circumstances, God is there.  Whatever He assigns us to do, He will be there to enable us to succeed. When we run into trouble, He's there.  When we celebrate, He's there.  This is either a comforting or a terrifying truth:  God is here!  Now! Whatever we do or whatever happens, we know He is there. One cannot separate himself from God but can miss out on God’s blessings.

 

The third statement is in Verse 6, and again it's a two-fold instruction.  

First, be strong; secondly, be of good courage.

Strength and courage aren't the same things. They're complementary. Strength is gained by discipline, work and experience.  Certainly Joshua was a strong man, but stronger still was his spirit.  He had walked with Moses.  He had witnessed the wonders of the living God.

 

Get the lesson here? Walking with strong people of God and seeing the works of God will strengthen one to serve God and obey his calling. Courage is gained by trusting and obedience.  It can be attained only by a person through

experience.  

 

Note the poem by Gail Brook Burket.

 

   I do not ask to walk smooth paths 
   Nor bear an easy load,
 
   I pray for strength and fortitude
 
   To climb the rock-strewn road.
 
   Give me such courage I can scale
 
   The hardest peaks alone,
 
   And transform every stumbling block
 
   Into a stepping-stone.
 
      --Gail Brook Burket

 

Courage is found only when one reaches beyond his or her own capabilities and relies upon someone higher.  Robert Schuller, of Chrystal Cathedral notoriety, said: "It takes guts to leave the ruts."

 

Our instinct is to get comfortable in our walk with Jesus.  They dry up, wear out and slowly but surely lose their zeal for soul-winning and their witness and the enjoyment of their salvation. 

 

So, remember Joshua's initial encounter with God:

 

Rise Up!

Go Over!

Take hold!

Have courage!


When You call, Lord, help me to obey,

Rise up and do everything You say!

Halt all my fears, and let me know

You’re always with me wherever I go.


Don Meadows 

2/19/17  


Joshua 1:1-6

Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, 2Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.


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Right’s Right! Right?

Romans 12:3 

 “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." (KJV)


God's Holy Spirit is a persistent troublemaker to my ideas of right.  Right’s right, isn’t it?  Well, maybe not.

A former parishioner once said, while being asked about a certain, unapproved action: "Pastor, I have found it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission."

Hmmm. I don't subscribe to that line of reasoning, but, in truth, I find myself practicing it.

This year I am spending "A Year with C.S Lewis," a daily devotion that raises more questions than provides answers.  This book and the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit inspire me, yes, but they also force me to rethink what I thought were well-grounded assumptions.  This may sound like a protest, but, in truth, it's a statement of thanksgiving that God is still at work with me.

Proverbs  21:2 says  "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts." (KJV)   

Seldom do we appreciate the intrusion of other thinking -- even if it comes from God. This is one of the reasons many people are reluctant to accept Christ.  Doing so will mean a brain and heart change, and they’re satisfied already their way is  the right way so, why change?  They don't need God's advice and know God will agree with them. 

Maybe that was the motivation of a pro-Affordable Care Act crowd shouting down and screaming "no prayer" at a town hall meeting.  The pastor of the church where they were meeting rose to offer prayer.  They were against prayingm and shouted him down.  

Well, their noise may have prevented those attending from hearing the prayer, but they didn't succeed in stopping it.  Proper prayer is meant for God's ears. He hears the heart, and no person or group of persons can sever the believer's communications with the Creator.  Prayer-opposing folks did more to enhance the prayer than they did to shut it down. The prayer will be answered, and they who tried to "kill it" shall give an answer.

I soon will have lived 74 years.  Never have I see such blatant objection to the things of God.  We witness daily the clashes between good and evil, expressed by people who actually believed they're always right, others always wrong. 

The common trait revealed here is the thinking of oneself more highly than he/she ought.  We all do it!  It's one reason we need the Holy Spirit and the ongoing cry to Jesus for forgiveness.

I see two examples of Bible prophecy coming to fruition.  First is the demonic spirit striving to discredit God.  There are millions of people -- Americans and those in other countries -- so filled with hatred that I question if they'll ever humble themselves to see the light of truth through Christ.  The second is the hunger for restoration of Godly righteousness.

Warfare between the two will wax stronger.  Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:14 (KJV) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

We must understand we are not seeing merely the playing out of politics.  We are witnessing spiritual warfare. The antagonists are Right Vs. Wrong, Good vs. Evil, Light vs. Darkness and God vs. the devil.

God is weighing all of us on the scales righteousness.  Laws and governments and nations might be subject to the moods, convictions, loudness of voices, demonstrations for or against issues or party platforms. No so, God, who only shall decide individual’s fitness for heaven or hell.

Those who have been taught the Word of God put themselves in grave danger when they attempt to alter what God has spoken through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. No belief, no perception, no choice can ever be right if it contradicts the Holy Word.

God's truth is painfully accurate. The world hates that revealing and reviling indictment if we declare evil good and good evil.  We witness it every day, even in churches and in denominations.

Christian, guard constantly against unfair judgment; at the same time, never be intimidated into ignoring or taking lightly or encouraging evil so you’ll be respected by being politically correct.  Never allow Satan to use us as the bowstrings that shoot fiery darts at others. I am guilty, I know, of allowing my elevated opinion of myself to bring pain to others -- first to my wife, those around me and, mostly, to my Lord Jesus Christ.  I do not enjoy but I welcome the sting of the Holy Spirit’s work that shows me that my mouth and hands often contradict my declared love for my savior. I want never to compromise my witness to others about how loving Jesus is to all, through his death on the cross, resurrection and promised return. May I never cause anyone to stumble, in Christ’s name.  Amen!

'Tis pain You bring to my very soul

By exposing my pride, then scold

Me and take me back into the fold,

Where Jesus shepherds young and old

Don Meadows

Feb. 27, 2017

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Unwanted Love

Proverbs 27:5-6 (KJV)

Open rebuke is better than secret love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.


“Tough love” is when you give it and it’s not wanted.

Tempers flare, resentments grow, contention rife when opinions are expressed about what is righteousness and what is sinful.  It’s especially so when friends and family find themselves at opposing ends of an issue.  Social intercourse disrupted, sometimes bonds broken when opposite conclusions are debated.

Inject into this Holy Scripture and the fire can turn into an inferno.  The Bible proponent is accused as harboring some hate-filled “ism” or infected by a nasty “phobia.”  The other is branded often as blind, unreasonable and “lost.”

Solomon contrasts true love with pretended love.  “Open rebuke is better than secret love,” he declares in Verse 5.  Christians must take the risk, he reasons, by holding to godly standards, lest they betray the very essence of love that desires only the other’s highest good.  Those faithful to Jesus must “rebuke” (reveal, teach, redirect) the error of sin, else they become enablers of it and, thereby, guilty of it. 

This reasoning is supported further by Verse 6:  “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

Discomfort caused by a friend’s honesty is therapeutic; sugarcoated, feel-good lies poison the soul and are forms of damning violence and hatred.  One is love at work, the other seduction of the soul, tempting one to take the path to hell.

The Father of Lies, Satan, is visibly vocal today.  What God calls evil, the world – even many in the Church – defines as personal alternatives.  What God calls murder, the world says it personal choice.  What God calls unholy pride, the world calls positive self-image.

Satan’s workers don’t like, and often retaliate, against these truths. They use social media, news outlets, protests on streets, and, yes, courts of law.  Paul wrote to Timothy:

1  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4  Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 (KJV))

And: “1  I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:1-4 (KJV))

God’s condemnation is sure for perversion of truth.  Isaiah cried out: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20 (KJV))  Solomon said,
“He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.” Proverbs 17:15 (KJV)

Received or reviled, true love is constant.  “A friend loveth at all times,” Solomon said (Prov. 17:17a). Jesus went further and told us: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 (KJV)) 

And, he did.  On a cross.  His love was not welcome.  Still, he loved! 

I tell you the truth because I love you,
Risking rejection, or breaking the glue
Of Love that bonds us – me with you –
But in Jesus may we find what’s true!
 
Don Meadows
3/3/2017

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A Prayer for America

O Lord, see how the battle lines are drawn, weapons of chaos and violence unsheathed.  Battle cries ring out, and are sent to the world instantly through technologies that you have allowed us to make.

 

Who stands in the right, Lord? You! Only you! There are those who have a heart for righteousness and justice, but their voices often are drowned out by the din of the clash of wills.  Vengeance is appealing to more and more people.  Even those who acknowledge their love for You find themselves hungering for sinful retribution against those who oppose right convictions.

 

Your Word tells us it has been this way since Cain hated, was jealous of and angered by Able and killed him.

 

We hunger for hope, Lord.  In our times of seeing only hopelessness for us and our brothers and sisters of the world, give our souls a glimpse of the sure victory through Jesus.  Enable us, as David taught, to fret not about evil because it will wither and die.

 

This will be, we know, only at Thy coming again; but, Lord, in Thy mercy give us if but a glimpse of  Your promises of victory. Rescue America, please.  Empower those in positions of leadership to know and stand with you.  The temptation to answer evil with evil is so luring.  Stop us from that, keep your holy ones pure and fill them to overflowing love that no hatred can find lodging.

 

May “this side” or “that side” not prevail, lest the divide increase.  Rather, O God, bring upon the hearts of all people a driving desire to be Your people and assert without apology that You are our God.

 

You are God, and ultimately the victory will be Thine.  Quicken our spirits to realize we war not with flesh and blood, but we are the battlefields upon which good and evil contest for our very souls.  Our struggle is Your struggle against Satan, who uses good people for evil.  He deceives us into the belief that our views are the only right views, so we fight each other to prevail.  Only Satan wins.  Bind all of us in America with Thy unbreakable cord of Love, so we contest for others, as well as for ourselves, the highest good for all in this world.

 

How utterly preposterous is that delusional notion that having it our way is what is best always for others.  Your Word declares You hate the proud, Lord.  Thus, we beg that You hate us not but forgive us and change our pride into humility that we will welcome the insights and wisdoms learned by those who love Thee.

 

Neither side of any political debate can be all-right, but You are, omniscient God.  Help us contend not for dominance over others, but may we yearn to allow You to be dominant over all and that we will eagerly be instruments of Your will for people.

 

Free us from the prison of spiritual ignorance.  Guide us to naming the real enemy – Satan.  He wants the chaos, confusion, disrespect, hatred, violence, drug and alcohol dependency, abortion, political schism, religious betrayal of Thy Word, division, shootings, death and family meltdowns, even political stupidity.  These are the fertile fields of hatred in which he plants his seeds of discord and rebellion against You, omnipotent Father.

One of my cats, Morris, just jumped into my lap, Lord.  He wants to be with me, held by me, loved by me and love me in return.  O that we would desire such moments with You, our Master.  That Americans, and America, would draw close to You, glory in Thy Presence and find reassurance, peace and love for ourselves and our brothers and sisters throughout the world is our prayer, Father.

Some day I know it will be, but God of Eternity then it might be too late for millions upon millions.  So I plead, humble us that we read the inscription of our currency as a prayer, not a bunch of pleasing words.  Reawaken us to the truthful belief that “one nation under God” is the only way for enduring freedom and purpose of a nation that, I believe, was called into being by You.

 

Darkness of rebellion against You covers our great land. Sweep over it with the Light of Life, even Jesus, that we might see the glowing glory of Thy Kingdom, the evaporation of the darkness of national and individual sin, and gaze upon the sunny days of eternal love and Thy literal presence.

Ah, it’s a pipe dream, some will say.  I confess, Lord, it’s not possibly that one of earth can cause it to be.  Yet, Jesus said, “All things are possible with God.”  Thus, we ask in faith believing the impossible is possible if we but allow You to guide the spirit of every man, woman, boy and girl in these United States, and in this world you spoke into being.

 

May Christ receive the glory, honor and worship He is due, and for it’s in His name we ask these blessings. Amen.


Don Meadows

3/8/2017

 

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Spoiled by God?
Why are you in despair, O my soul? -- Psalm 42:11 (NASB77)


This verse, I think, is an outcry of a confused soul.  We’ve all been there!

Why am I so anxious when I know I am under the watchful and caring eyes of God? Knowledge of that should be enough, should it not?

Yes, except!  Except we have come to believe, and demand, instant gratification.  God should just do what we ask and do it now!

Thus, when instant relief isn’t given, we unveil our lack of complete surrender to the all-mighty God.  Perhaps we “act up” like a little spoiled child that has been denied a wanted toy at the store.  Could it even indicate we’re really “not into” God for God’s purpose but for our own?

Whatever the cause of our soul’s “dis-ease” it is clear that repentance is needed, acceptance demanded and patience required.  If we really believe God’s promises, why do we feel what we feel and act the way we act?

Maybe it’s this simple: We’re spoiled.  Yes, spoiled.  By God?

When troubles come our way, we feel as if God somehow has let us down.  We stew about it, whine and complain. Instead of being good stewards of our hurts and grow because of them, we blame God and give Satan a laugh for the day.

A preacher once said, “The problem is not that we suffer.  The problem is that we suffer for nothing.”

No one wants to suffer any kind of hurt, physical, emotional or spiritual.  It must never be forgotten, however, that pain is not anything of itself.  Pain always points to some cause, an injury, disease, betrayal or sin.

Today we want more to be rid of the symptoms than we want to be rid of the causes of the pain.  Obviously this is dangerous, but we do it.

One’s conscience can be such a discomfort.  We enjoy our sins.  When they cause hurt, we seek a fix, an escape from their consequences.  We rebel against that inner-self, conscience, which tells us we are wrong.

So many times we will plunge deeper and deeper into those things we think bring pleasure, only to get more and more hurt.  We keep company with those do the same things and, together, we rationalize it’s others who make us feel so awful.

God help, and have mercy, on us that we can come to discernment of truth.  We’re trying to please ourselves or – in truth – worshipping ourselves and turning away from God.

If you seek God’s heart, never forget Paul’s faith statement in Galatians 6:7-8: "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life." (NASB77)

“Why are you in despair, O my soul?”

Because somehow something is not as it should be between God and one’s soul.  Ask and  give the Holy Spirit permission to search you, correct you and then the courage to follow Him.  The hurt may not cease but the despair will be turned to victorious faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some call it worry, fear, anxiety or dread.
But isn’t this dis-ease a symptom instead
Of a breech between me and my savior,
Who will with me bear all burdens forever?
 
Don Meadows
3/9/2017

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Ingest, Digest, Indigestion
(Selected Scriptures)

Jesus fought Satan on the mountain of temptations with scripture.  (Matthew (4) “It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

The need for bread is not denied, but bread satisfies only the physical body.  The soul needs nourishment, too, and that is available from the mouth of God – Holy Scripture.

Whether body or soul, three things are possible when we eat.

First, there is ingestion – the taking into ourselves what is available.  Early on we became pretty particular what we wanted to eat. Face it, there are just some things we love, we like and things we don’t have a taste for at all.

Our souls are, or should be, pretty particular about what we let in.  As our bodies, our tastes can change.  Unrepentant sinners aren’t really fond of the Word.  It seems to be distasteful to what we crave, bitter to our desires and, well, right “yucky.”

As we grow our tastes can change.  Once I couldn’t tolerate liver.  Now I love it. Once the Bible seemed to say “no, no” to my every desire.  Now I love my Bibles, many versions in book for on the computer, because they feed and excite my soul.

Ingestion, physically or spiritual, is necessary for life and growth.  Without doing it, we will die.

Digestion is what takes place after ingestion.  Care is called for here.

Quality, nutritious food is best for our growth, health and quality of life.  We know that, yet we still indulge our cravings, doing what we know is not good for us.

This isn’t much different from what Paul said about spiritual fare (1 Timothy 4:6).  He was writing to the younger man about the “later times.”   That which is created by God is good, he said, so be “constantly nourished on the words of faith and of the sound doctrine you have been following.”

Keep doing what you know is right (vv. 7 & 8) and be spiritually healthy here and hereafter.

Satan puts enticing offerings on the spiritual menu.  It sounds good, it looks good but it’s poison.  Bad food will make healthy bodies sick; unhealthy spiritual food will sicken the soul and rob one of joy and fellowship with God.

This leads us to the third dimension of our discussion.  Indigestion.  This happens when food and body don’t get along.  One gets sick. And some ugly, uncomfortable things happen

Spiritual indigestion occurs when a person ingests – takes into his mind, body and soul – that which is contrary to the will of God.  The possibilities are limited only to the limits of sin.  Symptoms of spiritual sickness can include fear, jealousy, irritability and impatience with others, loss of an appetite for the Word of God, lack of desire to gather with other Christians in worship, criticism of the pastor’s sermons and how the church is operating.  The list, like sin, can go on and on.

We take quick actions when physically sick – home remedies, doctors, medicines and grandma’s chicken soup.  Too often, denial is the first response to spiritual sickness.  We’re OK.  It’s others who are wrong and judgmental.  These and other reactions are lies, of course, and come from the father of lies – Satan.  He has a vested interest in preventing healing.  He knows the longer one denies God’s truth will lead them further and further from the voice of the Holy Spirit and the divine cure. Unrepentant sin will lead to the soul’s death (eternal separation from God’s love).  Then, Satan wins.

Many pseudo remedies are offered: drink, drugs, immoral sex, shepherds in wolves clothes telling us the lies we want to hear, self-justification, etc.  Admit it, we prefer these lies to truth.  All of us are called to holiness, but few choose it (Matthew 22:14), preferring to believe the devil’s lies (2 Timothy 4:3).

But, there is a cure, a prescription for killing the sins that torment us.  It can be gotten only from the Great Physician, who has it written it with unlimited refills.  It’s the Bible, which instructs us to trust Jesus, accept his love and forgiveness and follow him, not the devil.

Jesus came to a sick man?  (Matthew 5:6)  His first words were: “Do you want to get well?”  The man started responded predictably.  He blamed others.  No one would help him into the pool.  He couldn’t help himself. Familiar?

I almost can see Jesus standing there, shaking his head in disbelief, disgust and, yes, pity.  Soul-sick folks are so consistent -- a reliable excuse handy for not accepting Jesus, claiming they want healing, yet doing everything to stay sick -- and dying.

Jesus asks you today: “Do you want to get well?  Do you want to be saved?  Then, get off your excuse and walk.  Listen to Jesus.  Obey him.  And your life will change for the better.  He only is the antidote for spiritual indigestion and sure cure over death!


My soul is sick; it’s plain to see.
Many things tried, but now I plead:
“Take over, Lord, heal my heart,
Keep me close; from me never depart!”

Don Meadows
3/13/2017

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Last Words of Jesus
Matthew 28:18-19

 Family and friends seldom forget the last words they hear loved ones speak. 

 Lady Nancy Astor, d. 1964, used her final breath to ask her gathered family: "Am I dying or is this my birthday?"
 Death is a mystery -- especially to children.  A little girl whose baby brother had just died asked her mother where the baby had gone. "To be with Jesus," replied the mother. A few days later, talking with a friend, the mother said, "I am so grieved to have lost my baby." The little girl heard her, and, remembering what she had been told asked, "Mother, is a thing lost when you know where it is?"

 "No, of course not." the mother answered.  "Well, then," the little girl reasoned. "How can Baby be lost when he has gone to be with Jesus?" Her mother never forgot this. It was the truth..

Jesus' last words to His disciples, before He ascended back to the Father, are recorded in the final lines of Matthew's Gospel.  Jesus had told them to go to a certain mountain in Galilee.  When they saw Him there, some worshipped Him, some doubted.

Then the Lord gave those who believed His final earthly instructions.  We do well today to remember.
 He said five things.  Note: 

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Matthew 28:18 (KJV)

 Jesus is all powerful.  President Donald Trump is called "the most powerful man on earth.  He is not, however, the most-powerful.  Trump’s power is limited by political realities, his tenure in the presidency and, if God wills, the remaining span of his life.

 Jesus's power is not in The White House.  His power emanates from the Throne of God.  It is in force in heaven and is supreme on earth.

 Secondly, Jesus said, "Go. . . " Matthew 28:19 (KJV)

 Don't just stand there like a slab of marble.  "Go..."  Don’t do as many Christians professing loyalty to the master who are content to just stand around and pew sit. They have been given forgiveness and salvation, and, boy, they are set.  Oh, they'll throw in a penny or two into the church when they visit, sometimes.  They may even attend a Bible Study or read The Word.

 But, "Go?"  Oh, no.  I'm not comfortable with that. I’m not comfortable being outwardly visible as a witness  I don't know what to say.  Besides, I'm too old, that's for the preacher or younger folk.  Caring about the sick, lonely, hurting or needy -- well, let somebody else "go" and be a prayer warrior.

 The third thing Jesus said is "Teach."

 One is taught when he or she is given new knowledge that's helpful.  People need to hear about the Lord.  You'd be amazed at the number of people who have never heard in plain terms the Gospel message.  Often what they have heard they want no part of, and for good reason.  They hear the impotent claims of being a believer, but haven't seen faith really practiced.  They know about preachers and preaching, and a lot of that sounds kinda "icky."  I mean, they hear a lot of religious gobbly gook without any real substance to add anything that relates to their life.

 Jesus told those who really believed on Him "Go."  Teach what God has done for you.  You don't have to be a learned Bible scholar.  Just teach how Jesus has changed your life -- that is, if He has.

 Then Jesus instructed his disciples, "Baptize ... in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."
 Don't be satisfied with your efforts until you bring others into the Body of Christ.  That means The Church.  Pews aren't empty in churches because sinners aren't concerned about their souls.  Pews are empty in large part because they see lazy self-focused who say they love their neighbors as they love themselves but don’t show it.  We've lost the fervor of winning people, except our loved ones, into the Kingdom.

 Then Jesus repeats the command to 'teach!'  Teach them what I have commanded you to do.  This requires, for us, being knowledgeable about the Bible -- the primary way The Lord speaks to us today.

There is no reason why any Christian should not know specific Biblical texts to show sinners how to be saved. Next we disciple newborns. Babies don't feed themselves, clean themselves or educate themselves.  Someone has to love them enough to see they learn as they grow up. 

Finally, Jesus said you're not alone.  "I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,"

Have you heard the Lord’s final instructions to you?   How are you doing?

Amen! 

Don Meadows
1/17/2017

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In God’s Time

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. Psalm 1:5 (KJV)
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
Psalm 1:5 (NASB77)


Sometimes I tire of the mixed company we have to endure on this earth.  I don’t mean anything racially or sexually.  I just get fed up with people, especially rebellious and self-proclaimed Christians, and non-Christians, trying to impose their anti-Christ propaganda on Bible-believing Christians.  

I guess there are many who say the same thing about me.

God’s Word promises we will be separated, at the judgment, from sinners.  Read Psalm 1, especially Verse 5.   Those who are righteous will stand because they honor God by their attitudes and actions.  This will include those who aim in living for Christ was to bring salvation’s blessings in all facets to others lives – embracing social, political economic, religious and intellectual interests.

Evil is that which results when Satan successfully tempts people to exploit others for their own gain or pleasure. Unlimited are the opportunities to do this.  We see this malignant society unveil wickedness from many quarters – political, business, social media, drugs, addictions of all types, marriage and, yes, in the church.  Men and women who have gained the power to influence others -- by vote, wealth, fame, stealth, lies, even professed love – seem determined to drag good people down to their levels of decadence by whatever means they can find.

There is no limit to the imaginative works of a desperate devil.  His most-destructive attacks come from within the faith community.  His soldiers gain high positions of leadership in the Church, impugn the integrity of The Bible and lay claim to hearing from God “a new thing.”  If you hear something like that, run for Hell is nipping at the heels of your souls.

The Bible, it’s argued, needs to be reinterpreted for the modern world.  That’s Satan talk, not God speaking.  God seeks to make lives new through the blood, death and resurrection of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  That’s the old gospel. The reason for such vigorous opposition to biblical authority is that either the old gospel is a lie or the new gospel is a lie.

You decide. Isaiah was, I suppose, was a proponent of the authority of the “old gospel.”  He declared in the book bearing his name: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20 (NASB77)

Man’s law may recognize the equality of homosexuality, the church (mainline denominations especially) might declare it is just another expression of God’s creation; but, folks, I don’t want to come off sounding “holier than thou,” but every version of God’s Word I own says it is an abomination unto God and those who do such things shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Paul said (Romans 1:16 (NASB77)) “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”  It appears to me, however, that many in church leadership either are “ashamed” of God’s gospel or don’t believe The Bible because it doesn’t say what they want it to say.  Another, possibility exists.  They may be afraid to stand for truth out of fear of losing followers or being censured for not being politically correct.

So, in truth, they protect their own well being among men and endanger thousands of others to hell’s fire by their episcopal lies.

Is it appropriate to join the chorus of the martyrs of Revelation 6:10: “ . . . and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’”  (NASB77)

This cry is one for justice for those, while in the world, that stood for truth even unto death.  They ask not for revenge so much as they appeal that God carry out his righteous judgment against sin.

God’s reply is, “Wait.”  Two words are operative here: “Patient faith.”  Recall Peter’s teaching, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9 (NASB77))

God doesn’t keep a calendar nor wear a watch.  Rather, his concern is rescuing his children from the devil.  As a man, I guess I am impatient to see God act.  Thus, the declaration of Psalm 1:5 reminds me that evil will not prevail and those who hate God will be judged.  The righteous, too, shall be measured, we had better remember.

Amen?  So may it be.  But, in God’s time.  Not mine.


What to us seems so evil and unfair
To you, O God, is but grace given.
We cry for justice: ‘Sinner beware!’
You, in love, seek the lost for living.


Don Meadows
2/2/2017
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Marching Orders!

God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. Psalm 67:1-2 (KJV) 

Many children will tell you the best part of school is recess.  More churchgoers than you’d imagine would declare -- if they’re honest – the part they appreciate most is the benediction.

 

When the pastor says a few pretty words, declares “Amen,” the great escape begins.  The exodus has no parting of the sea, but it follows a routine: grab the preacher’s hand, utter quickly “fine sermon, reverend” and get out and head to the restaurant before the line gets too long.

 

In more than 40 years of preaching, I’ve watched it happen over and over and over.

Today’s scripture is a great benedictory text.  If we look closely we can see a call to march forward.  In no way does it say, “sit.” Rather its message is: “Forward! March!  Head into The Kingdom’s battle.”


“God be gracious to us and bless us.”  Who would not say “Amen” to that?  Even those who say they don’t believe in God would not such a freebie. They’d probably argue “good luck” was responsible, surely not God because He isn’t. How people can believe more in pure chance rather that the Creator has always puzzled me.  But, that’s another message.


To say God be gracious unto us sounds nice, doesn’t it?  Then we get the real meaning.  It’s not meant as a blessing only to us.  It’s meant to direct us to serve others, trusting God will guide us in doing so.


Thus, ought not our plea be, “So bless us Lord, that Thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation be understood among all the nations?”  We might paraphrase that, “Bless me, Lord, that my blessings will show everyone on earth Your way and Your salvation offered to them!”


The psalm forces us to remember, or rediscover, life is not about us only.  It’s easy to play the victim to the devil’s lie that we’re most important.  We’re conditioned to buy that. When that is secured, attention to others is okay. Why Christians do that is a mystery because the Bible teaches the opposite, in many places.

We are our brother’s keeper: on earthly and in manners of eternity.  Our blessings are tools to do our work to make disciples of all nations – even those we fear, or dislike.

Be warned, though. This blessing also is a potential curse.  When we disobey God and don’t love for others we advance the devil’s cause of stealing souls for hell.  We shall be held to account.

Praise or condemnation awaits us.  So, too, it is coming for those we’re told to win.


I love the notion that You bless me,

And Your Word forces me to see

Life is about You, those You adore.

My duty? Show them heaven’s shore!


Don Meadows

Written 3/14/17

Published 3/24/17

 

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Bought by a Price

The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

– Psalm 24:1 (KJV)

We work, spend, borrow – some even beg – to accumulate stuff. Our chests puff out, as we proudly announce, “It’s mine!”


We’re wrong!  We are deceived and mostly victims – and cause others to be victimized, too – by our stuff-crazed society (especially in the U.S.). God’s Word tells us quite plainly, Psalm 24:1 (KJV)  “The earth is the LORD'S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”

 
Get it?  The earth is God’s.  The stuff in it is God’s.  All the people – black, white, red, yellow or whatever shade -- His!  We don’t even own us.We own nothing.  Every thing is God’s. What we claim we own is only on loan – even our children and families.

 

The Word is not the only witness.  So is life.


Remember the man (Luke 12:16-21) who was so successful that, he reasoned, he had to build more warehouses “to store all my fruits and goods.” Then, he said, he would take it easy and enjoy his stuff.  Business expansion isn’t bad; putting one’s eternal trust in it is.


God said to him, “Thou fool…” That very night he would die. Someone else, then, would claim all his stuff.  You and I have seen it time and time again.  Someone dies, and others begin maneuvering to get what they can from the pot. Families have split over who gets what.  And it’s just stuff.  I’ve seen the fracture in families even to the grave.


How silly.  How sad.  How evil, especially when we realize nothing is owned by anyone except God.  Nothing ever lasts, except that which has been turned over to him.

 
This is true even about you and me.  We don’t even have a clear title to ourselves.  Old Job knew this:


Job said, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”  Job 1:21 (KJV)


That’s a startling truth when we step aboard the “Pride Train,” our ticket being the stuff we claim.  Getting aboard ahead of us are those imps of pride, imagined status, money – so many. And, to convince us we need more, that spirit of covetousness sneaks aboard to see the tempting goes on and on.


Never forget, fellow believer, Paul’s admonition: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV))


Jesus pulled us out of the jaws of sin and death with his life.  We belong to Him, or we belong to Satan.  Whose are you?

All I have or claim to own
Belongs to God, to me a loan.
Keep me humble, thus I pray;
I’ll give it all up one day!

Don Meadows
1/7/17


Published 4/1/17

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Halloween Night Lesson
Let destruction come upon him unawares; And let the net which he hid catch himself; Into that very destruction let him fall. Psalm 35:8 (NASB77)

The air was cool and crisp, and no rain.  It was a perfect night for Halloween.Coal Corporation, who owned the mineral rights to our beautiful mountains.

We “little kids” had gotten our bounty of free candy, and I was sitting on the front porch with Mother, munching away and watching the “big kids” begin their yearly ritual of pranks. Home was East Gulf, WV., a coal mining camp of a couple hundred people.


We were poor, but didn't know it.  Everybody else was the same, except for maybe two or three families who were big shots with North American Coal Corporation, which owned mineral rights to our beautiful hills.

Everything we needed, and a lot of what we wanted, could be bought at the company store.  You could use money, company script or, most of the time, put it on the “bill.” They marked it on daddy's account, and when he got paid the amount owed was taken out of his wages.

Our row houses were painted alternating colors of gray and yellow.  When you got to the “upper camp,” the houses were not painted.  They didn't have inside toilets, either.  We didn't think anything about it, because that was just the way it was. That's where the “colored people” lived.

There was not any racial tension that I can remember.  Whites had their school and church, and the colored people had theirs. We kids, skin color meant nothing, played together on the basketball court, and on the school playground.  It was, until we were taught later, a good life.

Anyway, this Halloween night mother and I watched a group of maybe six “big boys” come up the dirt, oil-saturated road. They dumped used oil on the road to keep the dust down. A train track ran just on the other side of the road and a stack of railroad ties was piled temptingly near the tracks for bed repair.  I'll never forget those big steam locomotives churning up that slight grade taking empty hopper cars to the Winding Gulf mine.  Often those big smoke stacks belched black, cinder laden smoke. We'd didn't think of it as air pollution because that hadn’t been thought of yet.  We would just shield our eyes to keep those tiny, black cinders out of our eyes. Usually our official baseball caps helped keep our hair cinder free as well.

When the “big boys” saw those ties, they got an idea. Roadblock! That was considered the worst thing you could do on Halloween.  We “little kids” dreamed of the time we could build a roadblock or, maybe better, turn over an outhouse.  One year a couple of the boys got lucky. They were given $5 each to do the deed because the hole was near to capacity and the building was in shambles.  The coal company would have to dig a new hole and build a spanking new outhouse.

Well, when those “big boys” spotted the wooden ties, it was a done deal in their minds. The ties were the perfect material from which to block the roadblock.  It took awhile, since it took all six to haul one of the ties to the road.  It was a work of Halloween art.  You couldn’t drive a car around either side and two people might eventually get by it, but it would take a long time. I learned some new words, too, but kept them secret from my dad, because I already had learned what was good for me.

When the masterpiece was completed, the “big boys” started walking up the “holler”, slapping each other on the back and laughing like idiots.
They probably had found a different project, and were gone a half-hour or so.  Mother and I just sat, munched away on the great treasure of free candy and waited and watched. No car came to the block, and we were about to go inside when we heard screams mixed with laughter and feet pounding on the semi-hard pavement of the road.

It was the group of boys who had put up the road block.  We found out later, they indeed had gotten into some different mischief up the “holler” and somehow got the idea they had been seen – by a county deputy, no less – and the pounding of feet were the feet of those boys making a hasty escape.
In their effort to “get away” they had forgotten completely about the roadblock they had built earlier.  So down the road they came, yelling, laughing, looking back, running full steam.  Two of them, I remember, crashed head-on , a couple tried to jump but weren't able to jump that high enough and tumbled over the barrier.  A couple of them did avoid collision and ran off into the night calling back to the others to get up and get away.
Mother was laughing all the time and, in that motherly-tone muttered, “Serves 'em right.”  Even those “big boys” had a big laugh, after checking to see if there were no major injuries. There were several ripped pants and shirts, I’ll bet more than a few bruised and peeled-back hide.  Luckily, no bones were broken.
It wasn't Halloween when David asked God for relief from his enemies.

“May ruin overtake them by surprise,” he prayed. Then he asked that his antagonists would, in effect, run into and tumble to their doom in the very traps they had set for him.

That night a little boy in a Southern West Virginia coal camp, on a dark Halloween night, learned three bits of wisdom:
First, don’t forget what you have done when you’re trying to get away from it. Secondly, when you sin, don't delight in it and rush ahead to sin more. Third, your sins will find you out, so, rather than run, stop, repent and trust Jesus to save you.

They plan evil, laugh and sneer,
And go on, more mischief to sow.
They forget, Lord, you're always near
And will know your love by your blow!

Don Meadows
1/8/2017

Published 4/6/2017

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Now, You’ve Got My Attention!

You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand— you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings. -- Psalm 40:6 (NLT)

There is not a parent who has not said, somewhat in exasperation, "What's it going to take to get you to listen?"

Ah, to have a clue would make rearing children so much easier.  When the light goes on in that kid's brain, you've reached a height of joy that only another frustrated parent can appreciate.  Then, if honesty prevails, we think back to when we were that dense kid.  

Mom was a prophet.   She said, "One of these days, Donnie, you'll see.  Then you will earn your keep."

I was in Sixth Grade at East Gulf Elementary School.  It was a three-room school, auditorium (no gym) and lunchroom in the basement.  Mrs. Jesse Walker was my First and Second Grade teacher.  I still remember the smell of crayons and white school glue and can see us gathered in a circle for reading, sitting in tiny chairs.  

Miss Shorter (I don't remember her first name) started with me in Third Grade.  I fell in love with her, but, alas, she fell in love and left us for marriage.  Besides being awesomely pretty, she was the sister of "Crip" Shorter, quite a baseball legend in the old Raleigh County League and listening to her was like being in touch with stardom.

One time she told everyone in the room (3rd., 4th. and 5th. graders) to bring a family-size bar of Ivory hand soap.  It was, in her mind, a piece of marble that was to bring out the Michelangelo hidden in us.  I looked at that bar of soap with a blank mind.  Some of the other kids were extracting from that soap beautiful horses, flowers -- all kinds of wonderful things.  

I just saw soap -- 99/100 percent pure, to be sure. But, I whittled away flake by flake of soap, dropped them on the floor and in my lap.  By the end of class, I had a one-inch, dugout canoe, which, due to my artistic ingenuity and design, actually floated -- a bit sideways, I grant you, but it didn't sink.

Miss Norma Bryant took her place.  She wasn't as pretty as Miss Shorter (my opinion, of course, but, remember, I was in love), but the unique thing about her was that her brother was an undertaker.  She was proud of him and brought an embalmed turtle (actually a terrapin) he had done and used it as a paperweight.

When I grew up enough to move across the hall to the "big kids" room, Charles McKinney was the principal and my Sixth Grade teacher.  I didn't like him at all.  He was from the country, declared our coal camp smelled bad and inflicted upon us his two boys.  They were both very intelligent, and they were always held up as what we should aspire to be as scholars.

He bought "Weekly Readers" to keep us informed about world happenings.  Get real.  We were coal camp kids, cared only about playing baseball, basketball, riding our bikes and engaging each other as either cowboys and Indians or as GI Joe and those horrible, evil red communists we read about in comic books or watched on the big screen at the Rhodell show house.  It wasn't long after the so-call armistice in Korea, you have to remember, and war was exciting to our male imaginations.

Mr. McKinney even tested us on that stuff.  I, a future journalist, mind you, didn't do very well, so one day he called me to his desk, said I had the absolute worst score on the "current events" test and told me to bend over.  He had a hickory paddle, about 18 inches long, 3/4 inch thick, polished to a fare-thee-well and shellacked.  My little butt stretched my overalls tight -- a firm target --  and three whops later, I was told to go sit down and study those papers from now on.

I told dad about it.  I told him I was paddled for not doing better on the test.  We never lied to our dad.  So, on his lunch break dad went to talk to Mr. McKinney.  He told me that evening that Mr. McKinney had given a different version than I had given. Mr. McKinney told dad I was paddled for talking too much and not paying attention.  The paddling was to get my attention so I would do better.

Now, I offered no defense for those charges, but that was not what I was told.  My confidence in the honesty of a teacher took a nose dive, and I still think back on it now and then.

Next came Elgin Hall, who got us into Gold Medal Basketball Tournaments at Stoco High School.  Two years running we played Collins, which had a basketball gym.  I don't think we ever won a game, but we still wore proudly our green and yellow jerseys with the initials E.G.G.S. on the front.

Looking back, I see many awakenings.  I guess they've followed pretty much David's confession to God: "Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand. (Psalm 40:6) I understand a lot of things now.  Seventy-four years of living will do that.  Perhaps the greatest lesson is that God will make us listen.  

One way or another, He will get our attention.  It’s our choice how he has to do that. He wants it to be a time to enjoy, but if we're stubborn and continue to rebel, He will get more and more intentional, more and more determined. It's foolish to fight against Him, helpful to accept Him and see and follow His plan for our lives and our eternity.

Wisdom speaks, but we ignore,
Confident we know what's best!
Then, finally, I do understand:
By Your plan only am I blest


Don Meadows
4/8/2017

Published 4/16/2017

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A Song of Salvation
Psalm 81:1-16

Read Psalm 81, click above

God is constant in his effort to woo sinners to eternal joy and safety.  Nations, too, are beckoned to come to him for blessing and defense.

This psalm begins with a call to worship, to give grateful praise.  Specifically, Israel is to laud the Lord for his going on the offense for his defense against Egypt and, in so doing, emphasize Israel’s defining as God’s chosen people.

“He attacked Egypt and set us free,” Psalm 81:5 (NLT)

God has not relented.  Today, God “attacks the enemies” of his people, those who cling to him with their obedience and worship.  The victory is assured, but must be waged until Christ returns to claim his true church.

This assurance was gained on the battlefield called Calvary.  The cavalry of God went to Calvary and dealt a mortal blow to the enemy, Satan.  The battle flag was raised up on a cross, the shouts of “battle over” were proclaimed in a loud silence at the tomb, and the broadcast of triumph was announced to the world by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sinners gained hope with unconditional surrender, and Satan had no hope left because the work “was finished.” (John 19:30)

Please, dear reader, have you not had your Egypt days?  You saw nowhere to turn, no help to find and life was beating you up?  Please hear, with your heart, this song of salvation.  God has already taken your burden, he has defeated your enemies, and he has set you free.  Now you can have a new life, if you believe, if you hear, if you see.

Now, worship the Lord your God.  Worship in private.  Worship him in community with other saved sinners.  Worship him with your words, your ways. Worship your savior.  Worship your king.

Don’t be among those who reject the Lord! (Vs. 11)  Listen, please, hunger for his presence; want him as your friend.  “Oh that Israel (God’s people, the United States, you and me) would follow me, walking in my paths,” God laments (Vs. 13).  Then you will see God’s power unleashed upon your enemies.

Rejoice, sinner!  Rejoice Christian!  Though God has allowed you to romp and frolic in your lusts and sinfulness, he still calls to you: Listen.  Follow me!

It’s never too late; no one is too much a sinner that God doesn’t love and bid you to come to him.  Hear the good news, the promise of God: “How quickly I would then subdue their enemies! How soon my hands would be upon their foes! Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him; they would be doomed forever. But I would feed you with the finest wheat. I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.” Psalm 81:14-16 (NLT)

Oh, Soul, that searches for freedom and joy,
Hear God’s call: Today, You can be set free.
I’ll give you victory, and a brand new story
If only you listen and surrender. Come to Me!

Don Meadows
4/17/2017

Published 4/18/17


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Psalm 81

1 Sing praises to God, our strength. Sing to the God of Jacob.

2 Sing! Beat the tambourine. Play the sweet lyre and the harp.

3 Blow the ram’s horn at new moon, and again at full moon to call a festival!

4 For this is required by the decrees of Israel; it is a regulation of the God of Jacob.

5  He made it a law for Israel when he attacked Egypt to set us free. I heard an unknown voice say,

6  “Now I will take the load from your shoulders; I will free your hands from their heavy tasks.

7  You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you; I answered out of the thundercloud and tested your faith when there was no water at Meribah. Interlude

8  “Listen to me, O my people, while I give you stern warnings. O Israel, if you would only listen to me!

9  You must never have a foreign god; you must not bow down before a false god.

10  For it was I, the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things.

11  “But no, my people wouldn’t listen. Israel did not want me around.

12  So I let them follow their own stubborn desires, living according to their own ideas.

13  Oh, that my people would listen to me! Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths!

14  How quickly I would then subdue their enemies! How soon my hands would be upon their foes!

15  Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him; they would be doomed forever.

16  But I would feed you with the finest wheat. I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.”

(New Living Translation)

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Caution!  Prayers Are Answered

Pray for peace in Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper. – Psalm 122:6 (NLT)

Take heed!  Prayers are answered.  Don’t be careless in any part of your life.  Prayers that reach the heart of God are answered.

Psalm 122:6 is a solicitation of goodwill for Israel.  It’s also a prayer offered on behalf of all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  The petitioner asks God to bring prosperity to those who seek peace for his people and their land.

The prayer has been sent heavenward for thousands of years.  God does not grow weary of it, and he will answer it in his time in granting the requests.

If those who support God’s cause are to prosper, what does this portend for those who oppose his people and cause?

Thus, we’re admonished: Pray for the peace and success of Christ’s Church.  May you, who do so, prosper, as God gives sees fit.  The petition has been answered.  It is being answered.  And it will be answered.  God will have no part of defeat, nor allow his people to be defeated.

 Someone long ago prayed for peace
For God’s people and Holy Place;
So, grant me, Lord, the full release
To proclaim to everyone your grace!

Don Meadows
4/25/17

Published:  4/25/17