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Whose Side Are You On?

Thought For The Week…

In our neighborhood, as a child, there were many folks to play with. Most of our Summer vacation from school was spent playing together in the woods and IN the creek. Occasionally, we played certain games which required us to determine whose side each of us would be on. As innocent as this may seem, people can really show some signs of severe behavioral disorders in their grandiose emotional expressions for who is going to be on THEIR side! Lol!

Nothing has changed since my childhood days. People are still people and we can put on quite a show when trying to get folks on our side of any issue. Our recent elections, here in the United States, are a prime example of the lengths people go to when endeavoring to get folks to choose sides. Millions of dollars were spent, and thousands of man hours were needed to pull it off.

In view of this innate desire to have individuals on OUR side, a question comes to my mind. “Shouldn’t we focus our efforts on trying to be on God’s side of things?” The Tea Party, for example, has spent a lot of man hours spreading their message and have been able to make a huge impact upon today’s politics. I am not against the Tea Party, but I wonder what would happen if people used as much enthusiasm when spreading the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

In the absence of Moses, Aaron allowed himself to be manipulated, and led Israel into false worship with a golden calf which HE made. While Moses is up on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments, Israel was engaged in the idolatry! When Moses comes into camp he immediately calls everyone to the carpet. He handled this issue with great simplicity. He began with a question which required everyone to answer with immediate action. He said, in part, “…Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me…” (Exodus 32:26)

There is a lesson to be learned here. Instead of trying to get people on our side, may we point people to Jesus and His Word! Sometimes we, even as believers, find ourselves on the wrong side of the equation. It is far better to focus our energies on lifting up God’s way and attempt to stay on HIS side!

Precious Memories!

Thought For The Week…

As Creator, God fashioned our bodies from the dust of the Earth. Every part of our body is important and serves a function. Of the many things a person should be grateful for, the ability to remember should be at the top of the list. Memory can be a sweet blessing, and is often not really appreciated until it begins to slip as one begins to age.

Memory is with us 24/7. We can never escape it unless we suffer from an illness which robs us of our ability to recall. Memory certainly isn’t perfect, but is honest. Our daily activities and actions, good or bad, are stored away like a computer encrypts code on its hard drive. We are told by physicians that we only use a small portion of our brain’s capacity which is quite amazing, but obvious in some people… just saying! Lol!

Memory becomes more precious to me the older I get! For instance, February 16, 1992 I accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour! I often relive that event in my mind which brings tears to my eyes. In early February 1993 I surrendered publicly to the call of God on my life to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Again, I can give you details as to how that event unfolded. On March 5, 1999 I stood at the altar in Gospel Light Baptist Church of Walkertown, North Carolina with my sweet heart, Shilo Dowdy. We were married day and have never regretted it!

One of the reasons someone should live a clean life, as a child of God, is to limit the scars of sin upon our mind. Though I can instantly recall fond memories, I can also remember some awful memories! There are some events of my past that I wish I could forget, and memory can be a brutal teacher.

Without a doubt, I do love my God-given ability to remember. My Lord has been good to me! Pondering His blessings and how He has proved Himself to me is simply amazing. Our Heavenly Father wants us to remember Him and we should do our best to harbor our lives around His Word. Making daily memories with Him becomes to us like the song is entitled, “Precious Memories!

Precious Memories

Precious memories, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred scenes unfold.

Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

Precious father, loving mother
Fly across the lonely years
And old home scenes of my childhood
In fond memory appear.

Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

In the stillness of the midnight
Echoes from the past I hear
Old-time singing, gladness bringing
From that lovely land somewhere.

Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

I remember mother praying
Father, too, on bended knee
Sun is sinking, shadows falling
But their prayers still follow me.

Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

As I travel on life’s pathway
Know not what the years may hold
As I ponder, hope grows fonder
Precious memories flood my soul.

Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

Stop Chasing Crows!

Thought For The Week…

I love to watch documentaries. Recently, while viewing a program on Bald Eagles in North America, I learned some interesting facts and a very insightful characteristic about their behavior which I thought illustrated what Christians should do in their own lives.

Did you know that at one point there were approximately 400 mating pairs left in the lower 48 due to pollution from pesticides and other issues? That’s right! This beautiful bird was in danger of going extinct, but thankfully it is not so now. God, in his providential care, has let man learn the error of his ways. The eagle population is thriving due to strict laws and the utilization of better practices of man.

Anyone who has personally seen Bald Eagles, in the wild, knows that they can grow to be rather large creatures. It is an interesting thing to me that because of their great size they limit their reaction to certain behavior by others. For example, when other birds, such as crows, get near them, they simply fly away. Instead of expending vital energy on chasing away the crow, it is more fruitful to leave.

There is a lesson to be learned here. You and I do not need to chase away the “crows” in our life. We should simply walk away! Every time we try to reason and defend ourselves we are wasting precious time and energy. The Apostle Paul faced many trials in his life. Under Inspiration of the Holy Ghost, He wrote these precious words in Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

As the crown of God’s Creation, and as His child, we would better serve ourselves by letting God take care of those aggravating “crows”. The eagle could make minced meat of that crow in a second, but he chooses to let the crow have the platform for the moment. Yes, you and I could put people in their place, would more than likely win the argument, and/or could inflict pain in retaliation for their actions toward us, but what purpose would that serve?

The eagle’s way… might I say, “God’s Way” is the best way! Stop chasing crows and soar above. Enjoy the freedom of Providence!

How’s Your Eyesight?

Thought For The Week…

One of the hardest days of my life was when I realized I needed eyeglasses. For several months I noticed that I could not read the clock on the back wall of the church. While that can be seen as a rather humorous situation to be in as a pastor, it was actually very humbling. For many years I could see quite well, but not being able to see something that I should discouraged me immensely.

There are many Christians today who need to correct their vision, but not with a pair of prescription eyewear purchased from the local Optometrist. Many of God’s people have allowed themselves to be desensitized to the needs of others. This can happen sometimes due to the fact of not paying attention to those around you. While looking at people, we may actually not see them at all! Jesus was not like this. The Bible indicates that He was MOVED with compassion when He SAW the multitudes.

(Matthew 9:36) “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”  (KJV)

We need to see people the way Jesus views them. As our Lord ministered to people each day, He took time to not only be around them, but He observed their needs as well. In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we need to slow down and notice the needs of other people. This, of course, will interrupt our life, push us out of our comfort zone, and put us in a vulnerable position. In spite of the unpleasantness which can occur while trying to minister to the needs of others, it is quite rewarding!

Everybody enjoys it when someone notices a need we have and endeavors to take care of it. So why is it that we do not try to reciprocate? Why do we enjoy being a “consumer” more than a “producer”? Our human nature robs us of opportunities to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Will you open your eyes and behold the harvest field of opportunity? Will you be the servant that Christ can use today?

An Urgency For Consistency!

Thought For The Week…

Every morning, whether we see it or not, the sun comes up in the East and sets in the West. Clouds may obscure our vision, but this cycle continues each day as God has decreed it would. Depending upon the Earth’s rotation upon its axis in relation to its orbit around the sun our temperature fluctuates and gives us our seasons. Even to the casual observer this is an amazing subject to contemplate.

There are many things I have learned from observing the sun and watching its behavior each day. One characteristic which stands out is the fact that it is faithful! The sun is faithful to come up in the East and set in the West! Jeremiah was encouraged by the consistent actions of the sun for it reminded him of our Faithful Heavenly Father. Consider what he said in Lamentations 3:22-23, “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” As the sun if faithful to continue its course so God is consistently merciful and compassionate. In fact, each new day brings new mercies and compassionate care from our Heavenly Father!

In view of these great examples of consistency, every child of God needs to be consistent in the right things. Some people fail to realize that 99.999% of the human race is CONSISTENT! The problem is being consistent in the right things. Are you consistent in the “basics” of the Christian life? Many of God’s children desire to serve Him, but are not consistently walking in His ways. Rather, they are walking in their ways and are subsequently hindered in their service for Christ!

I close with a few remarks from Paul Chappell on this subject… “One who has difficulty carrying out the basics of the Christian life may not be ready for the commitment necessary for ministry involvement. CONSISTENCY (emphasis mine) in our Bible reading, prayer time, and church attendance serve as indicators that we might be ready to go to another level in our service for Christ!” 1 Corinthians 4:2 says, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” Will you endeavor to improve your consistency/faithfulness to the things of the Lord? Will you enter this new week with a fresh sense of urgency to be found FAITHFUL?

Safety Is Of The Lord!

Thought For The Week…

Years ago, when Shilo and I were dating, we decided to go and visit the Dam which held back Smith Mountain Lake; located southeast of Roanoke, Virginia. I was pastoring a church about an hour south of Roanoke at the time. We enjoyed eating our picnic lunch and walking around.

The time soon came for us to leave and head back down to Collinsville where I lived. As we were leaving the Dam site, I came around a turn and had to stop for a flock of turkeys somewhere along a desolate stretch of roadway. There were about four to six of them out in the middle of the road, and they took their sweet time moving onto the grassy shoulder. We were held up only a minute or so, but long enough to make it seem like an eternity!

I navigated around my feathered friends when I was able to do so and continued along the winding road back to the State Highway. As soon as Shilo and I got back onto the main road and started West, I looked ahead, about a half of a mile, and noticed a semi-truck coming towards me and slowing to a stop. Most of the tires on this truck were blown out with smoke billowing upwards from the brakes. As I looked back to my right I noticed dirt in the road and the phone poles in the edge of the field were all broken where the semi clipped them. As we slowed down to view the recent damage, I saw a horrific sight. This truck had run over the front of another vehicle which was waiting to pull out onto the State Highway. This vehicle had no place to go! I do not recall anyone being killed in this accident, though I am surprised someone didn’t.

Later in dawned upon me that those turkeys saved our lives! If Shilo and I were 30 seconds to a minute earlier, then we could have been hit, head on, by the Semi! Safety is, indeed, of the Lord! Proverbs 21:31 states, “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.” This event should remind each of us that we should be patient when held up from our travels. God might be keeping us out of harm’s way!

What Does Your Name “LOOK LIKE”?

Thought For The Week…

I can remember, as a little boy, sitting beside my mother in a swing at a family reunion. We were having a great time there as we watched everyone prepare the outdoor chicken stew. I vividly remember asking mama to spell my name on a piece of paper so I could see what it looked like. She wrote out each letter and helped me pronounce my name.  For the first time in my life I saw what my full name looked like, and from that point on, I began to pay more attention to what names meant; especially what they “LOOKED LIKE”.

Names do mean something, and God had something to say about that! In Proverbs 22:1 we find the following statement, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” If God said that having a good name was more important than wealth and riches, then I think we would do ourselves a favor by guarding our good name. Our integrity affects our character and both impact our deeds and actions. What is on the inside will eventually come out!

It is very interesting to me when I consider that God values something above His own name. That’s right! God esteems something greater than His name. The Bible declares the following in Psalms 138:2, “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” Have you ever thought about why God magnifies His WORD above His NAME? The answer… His name would be meaningless if His Word didn’t mean anything!

In view of this great truth, may each of us guard our tongue and watch what we say. Our names can be marred beyond repair if we are not careful with the words we declare and repeat from others. If we cannot be trusted to speak the truth and be counted on when we declare we will do something, then our names are MEANINGLESS! Do you have a good name? What does your name “LOOK LIKE”?

Sin IS An Issue

Thought For The Week…

Without a doubt, sin is a difficult subject to preach and teach on. Very few Christians really seek to consistently distance themselves from its influences in a Biblically prescribed manner. In spite of the ever increasing opposition to living right and endeavoring to live a separated Christian life, each of us must seek to be filled with the Holy Ghost each and every day!

Recently, I was reminded of a truth that I must have heard somewhere as a younger Christian. It goes something like this… “When we sin, we must remember that there was also an opportunity to NOT sin. Had we chosen NOT to sin we would be enjoying victory instead of languishing in defeat!” Consider what the Scriptures says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (KJV)

Sin never builds anything in our life worthwhile, but it only erodes and undermines our character and integrity. In reference to the relationship between man, sin and the Bible one man eloquently proclaimed, “Sin will keep you from this Book or this Book will keep you from sin!” If we sell ourselves out to sin, then we will mar our living translation of the Bible… US! We are the only Bibles some folks will ever read.

It is my firm conviction, that each of God’s children needs to keep fighting sin till the day they draw their last breath. It is not just the preacher’s job to stand against sin! No, it is every Born Again, Child of God’s duty to not only stand against sin, but to encourage others to stay clear of sin and its consequences.

Will you endeavor to stand shoulder to shoulder with me this year as we seek to preach against sin and teach others about the narrow way which leads to life everlasting? Will you make it your goal each day to be filled with God’s Spirit and walk with Him? Will you strive to just say, “NO!” to sin?

Wasted Years!

Thought For The Week…

I wanted to pass along a few remarks by Pastor Paul Chappell. He shared these timely thoughts in his daily devotional yesterday entitled, “Wasted Years”.

“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:14–18

Someone once observed that a wasted life is really nothing more than a collection of wasted days. As God gives us life, each one of us starts the new year with the same number of opportunities—365—that we can choose to either use and invest in eternal things or allow to drift by without taking advantage of the gift we have been given. The difference between those who succeed and those who fail is not found primarily in talent but in diligence and effort.

Each day is precious, and it represents an opportunity that will never come again. Instead of allowing time to pass without effort and productivity, we are to redeem it—to make the most of it. Benjamin Franklin said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for time is the stuff life is made of.” The time of the past year cannot be recaptured, but the pages of the coming year are still blank and waiting for us to write on them.

Because we are living in days when evil is growing, it is more important than ever that we be aware and attentive to what is happening around us. The will of God for each of us in this new year is that we be filled with and controlled by His Spirit so that we can accomplish the work which He has prepared for us to do. Commit yourself to using your time wisely, and you will have a productive year.

Today’s Rooted Principle: Be alert to the opportunities for service and ministry and growth that cross your path—they may not come again.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

THANK YOU, Pastor Chappell!” for your challenge! May God help each of us to not waste time and squander the opportunities which He has given! You can read more of Pastor Chappell’s Devotions HERE!

Truth

Thought For The Week…

On behalf of my family, I would like to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS! We are privileged to have a church family like you, and are looking forward to what God has in store for us this coming year! As we enter the service today, I want to challenge us about the subject of TRUTH!

Contrary to popular opinion, truth is not relative. That is, truth is not truth because you or I believe it. Truth does not cease to be truth because one person holds to its authenticity and another does not. Truth is truth REGARDLESS! Though our society demands “TRUTH and JUSTICE,” we really want neither.

As a Christian, we believe that the Bible, God’s Holy Word, is truth! Without this road map of life, we would lose our way along life’s treacherous and slippery road. The Bible is full of axioms, or principles, that we should build our lives around. For example, not only do we believe the Bible concerning its truths about Heaven, but we also believe what it says concerning Hell! The Bible should the sole basis for our faith AND practice.

During this Christmas Season, much objection has been raised about how people have changed their tradition Christmas greeting from, “Merry Christmas!” to “Happy Holiday!” Folks are upset because our Christmas Tree is now referred to as a Holiday Tree. I am not certain the basis for raising these objections, for many, are due to the fear that our society will lose sight of the TRUTH about Christmas or if it is just because of change in general.

These yearly arguments over greetings and descriptive names definitely mean a lot to each of us, but how about the countless other things that we should be guarding and protecting with our lives? We should be concerned about how we read as a LIVING TRANSLATION of God’s Word! How we daily respond to the truths in God’s Word has a direct impact us and our testimony.