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January 14, 2011
Genesis 28:17 (KJV)
The House of God . . .
Too often we confuse ourselves about where to find God. Jacob, perhaps, can give us direction. He fell asleep and had a dream. When he awakened, Jacob realized he had had an encounter with the living Lord, who promised him great blessings. Rather than being extremely happy about the promises, he was afraid. How dreadful is this place, he thought. It is nothing less than the House of God. It is an awakening we all should make. God’s house is not a church building, though we often think of it as such. God’s house is not a synagogue or a temple. To be sure, these places deserve our respect, for they are sacred places which have been consecrated to God’s use. And, to be sure, these are places where it is possible to encounter God. Instead, Jacob realized, as must we, that God’s house is wherever we are. Remember? Jesus said, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:20, KJV) God abides with us. We are his house. This reality ought to change our perceptions, our understanding, of several things. If God’s house is with us, we must ever be attentive to how he would view our conduct. Am I comfortable with the way I live, day in and day out? Do my actions cause him to smile or to weep? Will I receive his commendation or condemnation? This is a sobering truth about God’s ever-presence with me. On the other hand, I must realize, too, that his ever-presence means I have instant access to him in times of trouble, moments of temptation, instances of fear, emotional or physical pain. Jesus is never absent from those who know him as Lord. Thus, I can call upon him at anytime for help, for understanding, for strength to cope with any situation of life. Another thing, too, that Jacob teaches me here: Where I am at anytime is the gateway to heaven. Think of it. I am but a prayer and a breath away from walking through the gates of heaven. Friends, do you have today the comfort of the awareness of the closeness of God, through Christ Jesus? Do you know him as your personal savior? If you want to know more about how to have that assurance, please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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January 15, 2011
Exodus 3:3 (KJV)
And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
|Is Something Burning?|
I wonder, how many times do we miss something really spectacular because we are too busy with lesser, mundane things and we just don’t look?
Moses’ encounter with God is a fascinating example of what we should do. He was at work (tending the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro) when he saw something out of the ordinary. It was a burning bush that was not consumed. He said either to himself or literally, “I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.”
The next verse says that when the Lord saw that Moses turned, the Lord spoke to him out of the bush. Of course, God was going to give Moses his assignment to go to Egypt to confront Pharaoh and demand he “let my people go.”
This prompts a question: What would have happened if Moses had decided not to stop doing what he was doing and turn to see the burning bush? An even more demanding question, I believe, is: “How often do we miss out on a special connection with God because we are so busy we don’t stop, turn and see.”
Life is full of God-encounters. Unfortunately we miss most of them because our attention is not on God but on something else. God wants to speak to us in everything – our times of great joy, moments of sorrow, things which are happening around us even if they aren’t happening to us, and through the lives of other people. Believe it or not, God also is speaking to us in the words of the Sunday morning preaching.
When I was a pastor in Lancaster at Maple Street United Methodist Church I did a daily five-minute radio program based on parables. First, it was Pet Parables and then Living Parables. During those years I learned to look for God in many places and events. I never was disappointed.
So, today, I ask you to stop, turn aside and look. Where is a bush burning in your life? God is trying to speak to you in so many way, ways in which you will find a deepening and satisfying relationship with your saviour.
And, remember, the bush never burned out and neither will your encounter with the Lord if you will just turn, look, listen and obey.
Comments? E-mail me at email@example.com.
January 16, 2011
Psalm 91:2 (KJV)
Iwill say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Freed From the Snare?
I have been kept busy lately by my buddy -- my dog Diesel.
It’s like this: He has developed a bad habit of going across the road to see what he can find in the neighbor’s trash to eat. I mean, he really doesn’t need it since he already is about 20 pounds heavier than his vet would like. We also are concerned about his physical safety.
So, we now attach him to a 100-foot rope, which will keep him in the yard but still give him plenty of freedom to walk about. The only problem is, he wants to walk places where he shouldn’t go.
He will walk into the yard a few feet, pause and do what dogs do when they first go outside and then take a series of detours. He goes two or three times around a metal stake we have in the ground to hold flower pots. Then it’s around the wooden supports which hold up the carport roof. And back again around the car until all his rope is used up.
What then? He stands at the foot of the steps and barks for me to come and free him and let him back into the house. This, my friend, happens several times each day. It gets tiresome.
Then I read Psalm 91 and the second verse spoke to me. Diesel is a dog. He just does what dogs will do, and then he gets tangled around something from which he needsreleased. Then he does what he knows to do. He calls out to me.
Sound familiar? I am sorry to say I have done, and sometimes still do, the same thing, only with me it’s much more serious. I get entangled in something I should have avoided and find myself trapped. It’s called sin. Whether big or small, it is still sin.
So I do what I must do. I bark . . . I mean I cry out to Jesus to come and set me free. I know he will, because I know he will always hear me when I cry out. How he must sometimes say, "Why can’t Don stay away from those things which get him so tangled up?" I wonder if he gets tired coming to my rescue.
Friend, do you know what I mean? Does sin trap you? If so, please understand that Jesus will hear your plea for help; he will set you free so that you again are safe in the comfort of his love.
Want to know more? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 17, 2011
Job 31:13-14 (NIV)
If I have denied justice (mishpat) to my menservants and maidservants when they had a grievance against me, what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account?"
Employers, Employees, Take Notice!
You may or may not be aware that a lot of talk around the National Football League these days is what will happen next season. There is talk that the owners will lock the players out, or the players will go on strike.
Frankly, I don’t really care. If I had a say, I would opt for going back to the time when the owners used make-up players like they did several years ago. I am not prejudiced against the Players Union; it’s just that I kind of found the less-than-professional play of the substitutes rather entertaining.
I’ll make no bones about it, I think the players make too much, the owners take in too much and the price of tickets and concessions way too expensive. It seems to be the way of life in nearly all of society: I am going to get the most I can at your expense, because I know you are going to do the same.
I was just thumbing through my Bible the other day and I stumbled across the two verses above from Job. They spoke to me, and I believe they speak to all people who are involved with others, especially in the business world.
Job asks a poignant question. If I deny justice to my employees when they have a complaint against me, what will I answer when God questions me? The Hebrew word used here for "justice" is "mishpat." It means treating people in the proper way, giving them a judgment that is not only fair but goes beyond that to what is righteous. It is a word that means no advantage is taken, that a person is dealt with in a way that is proper to the ultimate extreme.
If I don’t do that, what will I have to say to God when he questions me? Job asks. What will I answer when I am called to give account?
Job, you see, was struggling to understand why things had gone sour in his life. Still, he insisted on maintaining his integrity, his right standing with God. He was concerned about what God would ultimately say to him in his day of accounting?
Is it too hard a thing to say that I believe most of our society has lost this sense of integrity? Do we even think about, much less fear, the day of accountability? Do we still believe God will conduct a judgment of people?
Well, whether we care to recognize it or not, there will be a day of accountability. God will sit on the throne and ask questions. How will you answer him?
I know how I will answer. I probably will say nothing, just hang my head in shame because of the less-than-perfect person I am. When all is said and done, however, I will enter the Kingdom of God because I have asked the Lord Jesus Christ to cover my sins by his blood. And, God’s Word says he has done that, and will do that for anyone who asks.
Friend, be the best that you can be, but still know you are not good enough to enter heaven. Only through Jesus Christ is this possible. Choose to accept his gift of salvation today.
This is my prayer for you today. E-Mail me at email@example.com
January 18, 2011
Matthew 12:38-40 (KJV)
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.  But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:  For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
A Miracle That Confronts!
Be careful what you ask for. You might get it.
Certain religious people of Jesus’ day were trying to humiliate and discredit him. They asked him to show them a miracle so they could believe he was Messiah. He knew their ploy and refused to go along.
The only miracle you are going to get is the sign of the prophet Jonas (or Jonah). Remember Jonah was in the fish’s belly for three days and nights and then was spit out on land to finish his job as evangelist to Nineveh. ‘Now here’s what you are going to see," Jesus continued, "the Son of man will be three days and nights in the heart of the earth and come out alive, victor over death and sin." (My paraphrase)
Of course, they wouldn’t believe the story Jesus was telling, and probably didn’t believe the story about Jonah, either.
Another fellow questioned the story about Jonah back during the days of black and white television, when Bishop Fulton Sheen was on television. A Roman Catholic priest, he was one of the first TV preachers.
Well, one day he preached at a church on the story of Jonah. A member of the congregation asked him afterwards, "Tell me, Bishop, did Jonah REALLY get swallowed by the fish and was spat out three days later and lived?"
"Well, I wasn’t there," Sheen replied, "but when I get to heaven I will ask Jonah."
The man thought about that for a few seconds and said, "But, Bishop, what if Jonah isn’t in heaven."
"In that case," Sheen responded, "YOU ask him."
All humor aside, the issue, I believe, is one simple question: Do we believe the Holy Bible is the true Word of God and do we believe Jesus is the Son of God? All of eternity rests on the answer.
When I look around me, when I hear preaching from many pulpits, when I observe the way many so-called Christians act, I have to question if true belief in the Bible is as prevalent as we imagine. If preachers REALLY believe they are to go out and seek the lost, why are so many of them too contented with proclaiming nice, easy-to-swallow messages which leave a person feeling good while they are headed straight to hell?
If churches – and now I mean congregations – really believe the Word of God, why do they spend more time and huge amounts of money worrying about how their sanctuary looks and sounds and feels, rather than investing in the winning of the lost in their church families? How can we justify spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on our comforts of the pew while allowing millions upon millions of people go hungry and starve to death?
And denominations, including my own United Methodist Church, seem to have forsaken the integrity of the Book to appease a few determined antagonists. We wink at sin, even give credence to it and allow the separation of church and sin to become less defined every day.
One conclusion I must draw: Many people who profess to love The Book and believe what it says are not telling the truth. Fortunately most people can see the lie. The unfortunate reality is that those living the lie can’t see it.
Friends, it is time to be much about prayer for the integrity of our faith, the salvation of the souls of our people and the validity of our institutions which dare call themselves The Church.
Agree, or disagree, but E-Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
January 19, 2011
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Not Exactly The “Spirit” of Love
Solomon knew his booze. I don’t know if he followed his own advice, but he got it right. “Whosoever is deceived thereby,” he wrote, “is not wise.”
If you read the Portsmouth Daily-Times you might have seen in Wednesday’s edition that the State of Ohio, described by many as in the throes of a terrible economy, set at least one sales record last year. It’s not necessarily good news, though.
Page 3 of the paper reported “Liquor sales hit record high in Ohio.” According to the article, liquor sales in Ohio were $753.7 million, or $19 million more than the previous year. Eleven million gallons of drink, containing more than 21 per cent alcohol by volume, were sold in 2010, or and increase of about 270,000 gallons from 2009. Now that doesn’t include wine or beer.
The article did not say anything about the numbers of people killed or injured because the consumers of this ocean of booze didn’t know how or where to use it. It didn’t mention the numbers of families which were destroyed, or crippled. It didn’t report on the numbers of wives who were assaulted because “he gets mean when he’s drunk.”
Children were not mentioned, either. The reporter said nothing about how many of them run and hide when daddy comes home drunk. It said nothing about how many go hungry because mommy wasn’t able to pull herself together to fix dinner.
Don’t take me incorrectly. I am not a prohibitionist. Licensed, taxed alcohol is better than what I have seen my uncles drink that they purchased in the “hollers” of West Virginia. I guess it’s safer to drink, too, because its manufacture is regulated. One of my uncles used to light a match to see if his “shine” would burn before he swallowed it. He didn’t want to get a poisonous batch and go blind, or worse.
Yet, I find it difficult to get excited in a positive way because Ohio’s whiskey, vodka and whatever sales are on the rise. I just wonder where folks got their money to get all that stuff, and why did they need it in record volumes?
With tongue-in-cheek, let me say that things do look up. I mean, with the budding casino industry, the thriving drug culture and other “victimless” crimes all around us, Ohio seems to be climbing the ladder of sin quite rapidly.
I am concerned, however, that we might end up with a lot of stuff we don’t want.
We need prayer. E-mail me at email@example.com
January 20, 2011
“ . . . And the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. (5) And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”
Relationship Makes Recognition Possible
Jesus had healed the blind man, and the religious leaders were concerned that it would bring him too much attention. So, they challenged him. The Lord told his antagonists that they did not recognize who he was because they were not in relationship with him. They were strangers.
He said if they had been in a relationship with him, they would recognize who he was. Even sheep, he said, are able to recognize the voice of the shepherd and will follow him and flee from strangers.
This scripture came alive to me the other night when I was doing the weekly chore of taking out the garbage. When I started rolling the trash can toward the road, something dark jumped out of the shadows and began racing across the yard. I knew instantly who it was.
It was Luke, my tiger cat. He’s my bed-buddy, sleeping next to my feet every night. But, we once were not so close. He once was a feral cat, having been abandoned, along with another cat, which we now have added to the family, making three cats and Diesel the dog. We call the other cat Mark, because of his black and white markings. And there is Asher, Janet’s baby.
As Luke darted away out of fear, I called out, “Luke, it’s me – Daddy. Luke!” At that he stopped in his tracks, turned and looked into the darkness where I stood, and began walking toward me. You see, he recognized my voice. He knew who I was when I called him by name. And, he knew he was safe.
I felt special warmth when I recognized what had just taken place. It is wonderful to have something so innocent, so vulnerable, to trust you, place his literal life in your keeping. How anyone could mistreat one of these little creatures is beyond my understanding, and it really angers me when I hear of one being hurt or frightened intentionally.
Maybe, just maybe that is something how God feels when we trust him. He loves us so much, and I really think he is just so excited when one of his hurting, frightened children hears his voice and comes to him for safety.
I don’t believe that response is reserved only for sinners, who recognize their conditions and confess before him and accept forgiveness and his salvation. I think it happens when ALL his children hear him, trust him and follow him, in hurting, frightening and weak times, and also when we just come home to him and say, “Lord, I just want to spend a few minutes telling you about my day, about my life.”
Make Jesus happy today. Spend some time with him. Hear his voice calling you by name. He loves you so much.
January 21, 2011
James 4:14b-15 KJV
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
What Day Is It, Anyway?
It was one of those moments. “Janet,” I called out, “what’s today?”
Were I younger I might be embarrassed, but I am getting used to it. More and more I have to stop, think a moment -- and sometimes look at a calendar -- to figure out what day of the week it is.
I am not concerned about developing dementia, it’s just that there are so many things going on that I lose track of time. The week is broken down into three major events: Sunday, when we go to church twice; Wednesday, when I take out the garbage; Saturday, when I watch football games, although now that the college season is over and the pro season nearly at an end, this will add a new complication.
Can you remember when it seemed that a year took forever to go by? Like, when you are 15 or 16 years old? Then, one day you woke up, got out of bed and realized that 25 or 30 years or more had gone by and you just now realized it. Oh, you can recall a lot of things which happened during that time, but still it was a shocking moment when you realized that much of your life was over.
The Apostle James was right on target. Life is like a vapor. Like grass that is green one day, brown the next and gone the next. And you start to wonder.
What have I done with the time I have been given? How much longer will there be to do those things which I have dreamed of doing? There are, of course, many possible answers, yet none that really matter. In the next 50, 60, 100 or so years who will care?
When my dad was dying, I asked him what he would like for me to say, because he and I knew I would be preaching his funeral. I thought he would want me to talk about his children, his church work since he was an ordained Freewill Baptist preacher and about how much he loved his wife.
He surprised me, however, with an immediate response. “Donnie, all I want you to say for me is: ‘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.’” It was a quote from 2 Timothy 1:12b. And that was it.
I have thought many times about that conversation, and it becomes more precious every time. You see, daddy was saying at least three things to me.
First, he was saying it was all right that he was dying. I know Jesus, and have known him a long time. It’s OK. I’ll be with him.
Secondly, he was saying I love you, Donnie, and the rest of my family. You see, son, I have committed you to the care of Jesus and I am persuaded he will keep you all for me for eternity. My daddy had a simple faith, and he trusted that his prayer that all his children would accept Jesus as Lord and Savior would be answered in due time. He also meant he was praying for his grandchildren and all those who would follow who may only be told about him or read about him or hear someone else talk about him.
Finally, he was saying that Jesus Christ is King of kings and will be victor over the evil that has, does and will try to take the souls of the children God loves so much. He loves them (us) so much that he gave his life on the cross to set us free from the guilt of our sins.
So, come to think of it, asking the question “what day is it?” may not be all that bad. For in 2 Corinthians 6:2 we are given the answer. Today is the day of salvation. Claim it!
The Excitement of the Day
By Don Meadows
It’s the Lord’s Day, and thousands upon thousands of Americans are excited. It has been awhile since this much enthusiasm has been seen. Don’t you agree?
Oh, I am not talking about the anticipation and expectation that people have when they come into buildings that have been dedicated to the worship and praise of God. I am not talking about the expressions of joy to be voiced because Jesus rose from the dead after being in the ground three days, victor over death and conqueror of sin.
No, I’m not talking about this at all. I am talking about the football game coming up later today. The Green Bay Packers will go against the Chicago Bears in an ancient rivalry (not as ancient as our Lord’s love for us, to be sure, but it's old by our measurements). I mean people are planning parties, making bets doing all kinds of stuff. TV news people said people had started living it up in the frigid outdoor temperatures of Chicago on Saturday. They didn't want to miss anything!
I am not getting “holier-than-thou” about the game. I’ll probably watch some of it. The other part I’ll listen to somewhere in the background as I doze off between snores in my recliner.
The pre-game hype put my brain to thinking. How can we not be more enthusiastic about encountering God, especially on Sunday. It seems to me that something is messed up with our list of priorities.
When Moses came down from the mountain and gave the Israelites the Law, the edicts were not carefully-worded, politically-correct recommendations that gave the people an option of following or ignoring. They were commandments. God expected them to be kept.
I believe he still does.
Several years ago Janet and I had a startling, uncomfortable awakening. We were eating at a restaurant near Upper Sandusky, Ohio, following our Sunday morning service at Wharton United Methodist Church, where I was the pastor. The waitress was a really nice lady and we asked her where she attended church?
“Oh, I don’t go to church,” she said. “I’d really love to, but Sunday is our busiest day of the week. It’s really a mad rush when churches let out, and we have to be here ready to go.”
In other words, to feed her family she had to work on Sunday morning and early Sunday afternoon because it was anticipated that I, and dozens of people just like me, would come rushing through the door hungry and probably impatient. Think about it: How many people do Christians keep out of God’s House, away from God’s people, because they eat out on Sunday.
Don’t get me wrong. There are times when I still want to go to a restaurant on Sunday after worship. I say I want to go so Janet won’t have to worry about fixing my dinner. But, Janet puts her foot down, I feel guilty and we eat at home. Sometimes we give in, but not very often.
Don’t get me wrong. If you eat out on Sunday, I am not trying to put you on a guilt trip. I am just telling you how Janet and I feel, and those who know me for a few seconds will realize very quickly that I don’t miss many meals.
What happens most of the time is that Janet cooks a wonderful meal on Saturday – roast beef being one of our favorites. And, she cooks enough so that when Larry Moore says his final “amen” at the church, I know it won’t be too long before I am enjoying some delicious left-overs.
Give it some prayerful thought, won't you? I know the restaurants aren’t going to shut down because of my absence. Many of the workers probably wouldn't go to church even if they could. That is not my responsibility.
Not putting a stumbling block in front of someone is. Help me, Lord, to keep this day holy and dedicated to helping others to give you the glory, honor and praise you deserve!
January 24, 2011
January 24, 2011
It's All In the Blood
By Don Meadows
I am going to my family doctor today for a check-up. What he will say can be predicted: Watch what you eat, exercise more and lose weight. No one can argue against that, right?
I am eager, however, to hear what he says about my tests. Last week I went to the Wheelersburg branch of SOMC to have some blood drawn. The lady was quite proficient. She found a vein and hit it on the first try. There was no pain, no bruising.
When I registered I gave them a prescription form from my doctor telling them what to check. There was A1C, PSA, and a few more three letter things that I didn’t know what it meant. I guess they understood what he was talking about because they didn’t seem the least bit confused as they filled five vials.
It really is amazing what medical science can tell about a person by examining their blood. Our very lives depend on blood.
So do our souls!
When Adam and Eve sinned they felt shame and pieced together some leaves to cover their nakedness. But, do you remember what happened? God made them garments of skins. Something had to die to properly cover the shame of Adam and Eve. Death became a result of sin, and animal sacrifices were to be offered by the ancient Israelites to atone for their wrongdoings.
But, that wasn’t enough. I think people abused the method God set up to permit for redemption from sin.. Thus, out of unimaginable love he gave his only begotten Son Jesus, who died on the cross, shedding his blood, to satisfy the demands that only death could wash away the vulgar filth of sin.
Pure and untainted by sin, Jesus became the sacrificial lamb. Friend, Jesus died for you and me. He did it whether we accept it or not, or whether we believe or don’t believe. Punishment for your sins has been taken by Jesus. All you and I can, or need do is accept or reject this forgiveness.
“Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for payment of my sins. I accept your offer of forgiveness, and ask you to guide me so I don’t abuse this gift of salvation. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”
It’s that simple.
I am so grateful that modern science can figure out much of what is wrong with me by examining my blood. More than that, I stand amazed, and am so grateful, that the blood of Jesus is so pure that it will grant to me to privilege of living in the presence of God for all eternity.
In his name, Amen!
January 25, 2011 Genesis 48:18-19 (KJV)
Joseph said unto his father (Jacob), Not so, my father: for this is the
firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I
know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be
great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed
shall become a multitude of nations.
January 25, 2011
Genesis 48:18-19 (KJV)
And Joseph said unto his father (Jacob), Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
Don't be Surprised by God's Surprises
By Don Meadows
One of the wonderful things about a new year is that it lets you start over reading the entire Bible. It’s amazing how much you discover that you missed before.
Yesterday I was reminded that one should not be surprised at the surprises God has in store for your life. Take Joseph, the son of Jacob who was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers.
Joseph was a big man in Egypt, but when his daddy was about to die, I believe, Joseph returned to being a son. He had become a father, too, and he wanted his own sons to get what they had coming where the family inheritance was concerned.
Jacob announced he was about to die and called for Joseph’s sons – Manasseh the first born and Ephraim. The boys are kneeling before their grandfather to receive their blessing, and Joseph called a timeout. “Father, you have your right hand on the wrong boy,” Joseph told him. “You are giving Ephraim the greater blessing, but he is the youngest.”
“I know what I am doing,” the old man replied, and went on and blessed the younger son, making him the greater heir.
Eventually Ephraim’s thousands of descendants settled in the land of Canaan as one of the most numerous of the tribes of Israel (Gen. 48:19; Num. 1:10). (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
I have learned that God is full of surprises. I also am convinced he has a terrific sense of humor. Don’t ever think you have him all figured out, because he will show you. Believe it!
When I was in fulltime pastoral ministry, Janet and I were headed to North Carolina to visit my mother. We decided we would take a scenic tour from Van Wert County in Northwestern Ohio and go through Athens, Pomeroy, across the Ohio River, through West Virginia and then on south. I was not at all impressed with Pomeroy, and said to Janet, “I am sure glad God never saw fit to send us some place like this.” That was in the latter part of August.
In November my district superintendent called and said, “Don, the (bishop’s) Cabinet would like for you to go to Pomeroy to be the pastor of Simpson Chapel there.” I couldn’t believe it, and remembered what I had said to Janet earlier on that trip.
We were in Pomeroy nearly four years and had a wonderful time there. We met many, many great people, many of whom are good friends to this very day.
So, don’t be surprised when God surprises you. Oh, I don’t think he did it so I would have to eat my words, but I was sent to Pomeroy because some people there needed me and I needed to learn a lot of things from them. I am better for having served there.
The surprises God pulls on you may not seem in your best interests at first. In fact, it may seem anything but what’s best for you. Be patient and trust. God knows what he is doing, and he knows what’s best for you much more than you know.
Believe me, you will one day celebrate his direction in your life and/or he will give you the strength and courage to see every circumstance through to victory.
As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.
The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1996.
The Amazing Journey to Salvation
By Don Meadows
It amazes me when I think about all the people who have been instrumental in my claim to the salvation given by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection.
The Apostle Peter makes it even more astounding. He said the ancient prophets were careful in doing their work to predict God would come to rescue me. The Spirit of Christ was working in them to help me understand what glories were intended for me by God. They even came to learn, Peter said, that they weren’t serving themselves “but you” – you and me. Even the angels in heaven wanted to know these wonderful things, reserved for me.
I remember one Sunday night I was attending a service at the East Gulf Freewill Baptist Church and the preacher gave an altar call. Freddy Lewis and I had been doing unspiritual things during the service, but we had learned how to be pretty good at not getting caught. Anyway, the preacher said if anyone had a concern about his or her soul to quietly slip up a hand while no one was watching.
I raised my hand, just to be cute. What I didn’t know was my little Grandma Meadows didn’t have her eyes closed. She peeked, and as soon as we began singing the invitational hymn she was back to where Freddy and I stood. It was a heart-rending attempt she made to talk me to the altar, but I held out and saved face in front of Freddy.
Yet, I wonder, I just wonder what that spiritual confrontation played in my eventual answering God’s call to go into fulltime pastoral ministry. And what about the nights I sat beside Basil Perdue on the front row in the auditorium of East Gulf Grade School, which we used on Sunday for morning and evening worship. That was, to be sure, before the days of American Civil Liberties Union, and a working relationship between the public school system and the church was just accepted as being normal.
How many times did I sit on Sunday morning and listen to my daddy teach me a Sunday School lesson? Or get tickled when June Stevens got happy and sang out and cried and laughed, all at the same time?
There have been too many people to count who were serving Jesus, from hundreds or thousands of years ago, to my time on this earth, beginning June 21, 1943. I have been so blessed to have married a girl who loves Jesus more than she loves me and loves me more than she loves any other person. This doesn’t even start to mention the pastors in my life, the mentors, my life as a newspaper editor – as a father, grandfather, and so on.
Truly, our path to salvation is a miracle of faith in action. Hundreds of people have walked it with us, and for all of them I am, and will be, eternally grateful.
Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Heaven – It’s A Child’s World
By Don Meadows
Jesus did more than love children. He respected them. I also believe he was in awe of them.
When others wanted to keep them in their place, Jesus said their place was with him. He even said something really disturbing: If anyone hopes to get into heaven, he or she must become like a little child.
At first glance that sounds easy, loving and heart-tugging. Dig deeper, however, and you find that it is a disturbing and threatening imposition into what I really am.
If I understand Jesus correctly, he is saying I have to change the way I look at life and myself. That’s not easy since I have spent nearly 68 years becoming this way.
Jesus says I need to become like a child. He doesn’t mean childish. He means child-like. To do that will be costly.
I will have to give up being the boss. Not that I ever was, but it was nice believing the myth that when you get to be a certain age you are in charge. Jesus wants me to give up the control I have been able to gain and feel comfortable having.
It’s kind of nice, too, not having to depend on someone else for what I want or need. But, Jesus says I must relearn that I am totally dependent on my Father – dependent on him for my food, for my shelter, for love, for affirmation, for everything that is needed in this life and, especially, eternal life.
When I was growing up I used to ask a lot of questions. A person can get an attitude, after a while, that he has learned a lot. Now, I am discovering that the really important things are too complicated for my understanding. So, I have to ask my Father to help, and study his Word more intently than ever before – even when I was preparing a sermon each week for the people sitting in church pews.
Pride is another thing that must be dealt with. When I begin to look at my heavenly Father, I grow ever so insignificant. Who will know – who will care – that a Don Meadows lived from 1943 and into 2011 and only God knows how much more? What are my accomplishments? Nothing without the help of God himself.
But, God will care. Our love will remain, and those whom I have known in Christ Jesus will care, and know and share for they shall be with me in that kingdom.
It’s not easy being a child. You are so vulnerable, but when you realize who your Father is there comes the freedom to be the child He wants you to be.
To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
Psalm 22: Tragedy Turned Into Triumph
By Don Meadows
Somewhere today someone is hurting so deeply they have doubts that anything will ever be right again. Don’t give up. Tragedy will become Triumph if you will do two things: (1) Hang in there and (2) hang on to Jesus Christ.
I have been studying the 22nd Psalm the last few days, and it is perhaps as inspiring as is the 23rd – maybe even more so. It begins with the psalmist lamenting over the great agony he is experiencing. David wrote it, but biblical scholars are almost unanimous in agreeing that it cannot be disassociated with Christ.
Jesus, in fact, recited – or sang – this passage as he hung on the Cross of Calvary. At once the reader is captured and forced to share the pain being endured. But don’t let the darkness of the moment keep you from absorbing this scripture; what begins as a tragedy ends in great triumph.
Helping me to appreciate the psalm is a book compiled by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers ever known to Christianity. The title of the book is, simply, “Psalms.”
Noting that the title of this psalm is Aijeleth Shahar, Spurgeon tells us that this means "The Morning Hart." Then he writes: "We should read reverently, putting off our shoes from off our feet, as Moses did at the burning bush, for if there be holy ground anywhere in Scripture it is in this Psalm."
One of the contributors to this passage says something which causes me to recoil, as I gain new understanding of the suffering of Jesus. Commenting upon the words, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me,” J. J. Stewart Perowne says this emotional utterance is "not the why of impatience or despair, not the sinful questioning of one whose heart rebels against his chastening, but rather the cry of a lost child who cannot understand why his father has left him, and who longs to see his father's face again."
Perowne’s concept grabs at my heart strings. Though I have never suffered the way Jesus suffered, I have known the pain of watching a loved one walk away with no hope of their return. It was an agony I will do anything to avoid happening again.
Jesus had never, through all eternity, ever known anything but the fellowship of his Father. Now, because Christ became sin, his Holy Father could not look upon him, could not come to him and turned away from him. Oh, my soul, how I ache to think of that awful moment in the deepest parts of the human man that Jesus was then.
The loss of love in one’s life has to be right up there with death where emotional agony is concerned. There are countless thousands of people who are forced to deal with it each year. Some survive; some don’t. Some turn to alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, gambling, or something else in an effort to get rid of the pain, or at least ease it.
Jesus endured it. He suffered because he loved you and me and everyone else who has ever lived, and he knew it was for this cause that he came. And, he died. With this song on his lips, it was a comfort to his heart. It helped him cope with the pain, because Jesus knew scripture. He knew the psalm may begin on a tragic note but ends in glorious triumphant.
Friend, if you are hurting today, don’t give up. Trust in the Lord to come to you. He will bring you out of the dark, smothering depth in which you find yourself. The faith in God the Father which brought Jesus alive from the tomb can free you from the emotional prison which holds you.
God bless, and keep you.
January 29, 2011
Matthew 17:24-27 (NLT)
On their arrival in Capernaum, the tax collectors for the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, "Doesn't your teacher pay the Temple tax?" "Of course he does," Peter replied. Then he went into the house to talk to Jesus about it. But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, "What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the foreigners they have conquered?" "They tax the foreigners," Peter replied. "Well, then," Jesus said, "the citizens are free! However, we don't want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a coin. Take the coin and pay the tax for both of us." -- Life Application Study Bible (TLB)
A Time to Think About Taxes, So Go Fish
By Don Meadows
Janet loaded TurboTax into the computer a couple of weeks ago and announced, “I’m going to have to get working on that return.”
Janet has done our return every year but one since we’ve been married. I have never completed a tax return and plan never to do so. As long as TurboTax is around and Janet is healthy, I have no problem. If my circumstances change, there is H&R Block, or someone else.
I believe I am following the example of Jesus. In the scripture above, Jesus had Peter take care of it. You see, the tax collectors made an issue about Jesus paying the Temple tax. It was a law set up under Moses’ leadership (see Exodus 30:11-16) that every Jewish male helped care for the Temple by paying this tax yearly.
“Does your teacher pay this tax?” they asked Peter. Always quick to open his big mouth, Peter said, “Of course he does.” Then he talked to Jesus about it, bringing on that discussion about kings and taxes and stuff like that.
Finally Jesus told Peter to go fishing and the first fish he caught would have the Temple tax in its mouth. Take that, Peter, and pay the taxes, Christ told him, because we don’t want to offend those folk.
Perhaps the church needs to learn a lesson from Jesus and pay taxes. They might take a hard look at those treasured “tax-exempt” rules for non-profit, religious organizations. Most mainline denominations are careful to stay within the governmental guidelines so their status won’t be challenged.
For example, in The United Methodist Church, the congregations do not pay property taxes on the church building and structures that comprise the church proper. However, it is required to pay property taxes on the parsonage or real holdings that are not a part of the actual worship community or education facilities.
But, this tax break comes at a price. The church is not supposed to engage in political activities, such as guiding people on which candidates to support. Churches can talk about social issues (at least they can now), but even this is subject to interpretation if challenged.
The result has been that many preachers have been cautioned by their denominational leaders, and warned by many within the congregation, to avoid even the appearances of controversy. In other words, go easy, preacher, we don’t want to have any trouble and have to start paying big tax bills.
But, can the church be the conscience of the community if it is afraid to risk these economic advantages? The church, to be THE CHURCH, must proclaim loudly and clearly biblically-founded truth on issues of right and wrong especially when it involves the state, be it on local, state, national or international levels.
Church, pay the tax like everyone else and speak the mind of Jesus, backed by the truth of the inspired Word of God.
The church should not be primarily concerned about the balance sheet. It should be about the business of bringing souls to Jesus, to bring them to a point of conviction of sins as exposed by the Holy Spirit. The church should battle hell for conversion.
But, is there that courage today in our denominations and congregations, or do we continue to try to lay up treasures rust and moth and a bad economy doeth eat away?
I am convinced today that many churches are struggling to make ends meet these days because their first concern is the pocketbook and not about the work of Jesus. Churches which do not invest in God’s work won’t succeed, they won’t prosper. A church which puts Jesus first will be active and alive and exciting because God is there blessing the bread and feeding the multitudes with many baskets left over.
We have to note, however, that Jesus told Peter what to do, but Peter had to do it. God has instructed us what to do, also, so our task is to be obedient.
Let’s go fishing!
Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Ah, What Beauty God Offers Us!
I took the picture of these two Cardinals on Friday after coming home from getting the mail. I sat in the car, window rolled down, heater running and waited for the birds to return to the three feeders we have out. I didn’t have to wait long. (clicking on the picture will make it bigger)
Several doves, a couple of black birds and seven or eight Cardinals were soon delighting themselves on the seeds waiting for them. I took one picture, then got a bad battery light and had to go into the house for more power. When I came back, the birds were still there.
I shot several exposures and went into the house to take a close look on the computer. Then I discovered the shot with the female Cardinal in flight, with the male sitting on the feeder. I know it lack a bit of clarity, but I like it.
What beauty God has given us in this world. There is so much we could never take it all in.
Saturday I got into Facebook on the Internet and somehow got into a discussion with some folk about tattoos. A comment was posted by a young lady somewhere in Kentucky and, in an attempt to compliment the wearer of the tattoo used what I consider the ultimate vulgar word. The preacher in me came out.
I told her she didn’t need to use dirty language like that. She shot back that she was a dirty girl and it was part of her makeup as a person. I sent her a request that she “friend” me, but as of late last night I had not had any confirmation that she had done so.
Why do we inject ugliness into our world and, even, into our conversations. Not long ago I told a fellow at the Post Office I didn’t appreciate his nasty racial comments because they were unnecessary. He told me, in effect, he had used vulgar words since he was a boy and he didn’t expect he would be changing now. He was in the Post Office a few days ago, and his language wasn't dirty. He didn't even speak to me. Well, I guess that's an improvement.
Paul said for us to think upon the pure, the good, beautiful things of life. I guess I didn’t do that when I let myself be sidetracked by people who insist on being crass. I think, however, there is a need for God’s people to speak up and make others aware of what they are saying and doing. I am convinced that many of them are so spiritually insensitive that they aren’t even aware of what they are saying. I know I was like that at one time in my life.
Pray for them, and pray for me – especially for me. Pray that I am not dogmatic in my thinking, that I really am concerned about their well being and that I don’t get a busted nose.
January 31, 2011
Psalm 139:8 (KJV)
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
Things About Which I Don’t Have to Pray
As I explore the scriptures, read and listen to the prayers of many people of several eras, and think about my own personal and private time alone with God, I have concluded that there are some things about which I don’t have to pray. In fact, there are some things I ought not to pray “for.”
Many times I have asked myself, “Why did you ask God for that? Or, what were you thinking, Don, when you said thus and thus?”
I believe I know the answer, and it causes a bit of discomfort. Too often my prayers have been hurried, ill-thought-out sentences or habit-words (words and phrases I have gotten so used to saying I don’t really think about them).
Many prayers, I fear, are like that. The result is that we dilute a moment of spiritual contact with our Holy God and fail to achieve the full blessing He so much wants to give us.
The following thoughts are in no way meant to be critical of anyone’s prayers. They are offered, I hope, in a way that will enhance one’s understanding and nature of the One to whom we pray.
One thing I don’t have to pray for is God to be present with me. There never is a time when God is not with his children. Psalm 139:8 – a perfect example of the Jewish poetic form of parallelism – says it very well. If I am in heaven, God is there. If I make my bed in hell, God is there.
This releases me from praying something else. I don’t have to pray for God to be with my children, our troops on the front lines of danger, patients in the hospital, etc. God IS ALWAYS present.
Instead, I try to remember to pray: “Lord, thank you for your presence with me (us) today, for being ever-near my children, being close to our boys and girls in battle, for your ever-nearness to those whose bodies are weak and frail today.” I am empowered to pray, I believe, when I understand that God is right there listening.
Another thing for which I don’t have to pray is that God would extend his mercy to the lost. Through Jesus Christ, God expressed his mercy-giving heart. It must have broken God’s heart to see his Son hanging on that cross on Calvary. He permitted it, however, because that act opened the door of salvation to all who would enter.
I must not cease to pray, of course, that men and women would accept God’s call for workers to go out into the fields to take in the harvest of souls waiting to be told about Jesus. Likewise, I, too, must be ready to seize every opportunity, or provide resources, to those who would be soul-winners for the Lord.
Praying is a serious business. To seek from the Living God a response through prayer is to place oneself in a relation where God is God and you are his subject. When I implore God to act, I must stand ready to do my part in seeing that God’s will and work can be accomplished. I am not permitted to make a plea in prayer and leave it there. God will not permit us to “dump” our load on him and walk away without further responsibility.
Think carefully how you pray. Do you repeat the same old worn-out phrases, have the same petitions, and seek the same results as you have had for years. Perhaps a fitting prayer for all of us might be:
Probe my heart, God, and show me how I might talk to you in a deeper, more personal way. Help me to understand how I ought to pray, so that I would be empowered to be a better servant to you. May Jesus be glorified and praised all the more. In his name. Amen.