Baseball and getting Home Safe…

Eph 2:8a “For by Grace are you saved through faith…”

Baseball and getting Home Safe…

Bob and the Lord stood by to watch a baseball game.

The Lord’s team was playing Satan’s team.  The Lord’s team was at bat,
the score was tied zero to zero, and it was the bottom of the 9th inning
with two outs.

They continued to watch as a batter stepped up to the plate whose name
was Love.  Love swung at the first pitch and hit a single, because Love
never fails.

The next batter was named Faith, who also got a single because Faith
works with Love.

The next batter up was named Godly Wisdom.  Satan wound up and threw the
first pitch.  Godly Wisdom looked it over and let it
pass: Ball one. Three more pitches and Godly Wisdom walked, because
Godly wisdom never swings at what Satan throws.

The bases were loaded The Lord then turned to Bob and told him He was
now going to bring in His star player.  Up to the plate stepped Grace.

Bob said “He sure doesn’t look like much!”  Satan’s whole team relaxed
when they saw Grace.  Thinking he had won the game, Satan wound up and
fired his first pitch.  To the shock of everyone, Grace hit the ball
harder than anyone had ever seen.

But Satan was not worried; his center fielder let very few get by.
He went up for the ball, but it went right through his glove, hit him on
the head and sent him crashing on the ground; then it continued over the
fence for a home run!  The Lord’s team won.

The Lord then asked Bob if he knew why Love, Faith, and Godly Wisdom
could get on base but could not win the game.  Bob answered that he did
not know why.

The Lord explained, “If your love, faith and wisdom had won the game you
would think you had done it by yourself.  Love, faith and wisdom will
get you on base, but only My Grace can get you home.
My Grace is the one thing Satan cannot steal.”

Eph 2:8, 9 “For by Grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is a gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Fires of Life that Build and Restore…

Hebrews 12:11 “Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Fires of Life that Build and Restore…

Each summer we read of fires out west and around the world. We frequently think of them as being disasters. Did you know there are fires in our lives that are intended to develop us spiritually? And yes, we frequently view those as disasters also. There are some misguided souls that teach that if you have fires in your life it is not a good thing or it is because of weak faith. The biblical reality is that some fires in our lives are noted in scripture as trials and tribulations and are required for our spiritual development of our faith.

When we view the reports of the wild fires or drive by where one has been we see that over time they actually renew life. If you’re going through a fire in your life right now, that will be something very important for you to mentally grab a hold of. If you don’t, all you’ll see is the damage and you’ll lose any sense of hope. And then instead of renewal or development the fires bring on discouragement.

It may be that those fires (trials and tribulations) have burned through your family recently, or your church, maybe your business or your relationships. Maybe they have affected your health. And there is no doubt that the fire has taken away a lot. There’s no denying the pain from the fire, but that’s never the whole story. You need to know the “rest of the story”. Maybe what we view as damage is actually development. What a paradigm shift!

1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

God describes the fires of life as trials. If you are a believer the only fire in your life not from God are those that are a result of sin. God sees us as valuable like gold. The fires are not forever; they are “for a little while”. And notice what the purpose of the fires or trials is. The purpose is not to destroy but to “refine” the gold or to get the impurities out so that it increases its value. And if we are honest with ourselves we have many impurities that we need to be purged from our lives.

The challenge we have is to view those fires as trials and tribulations sent from God. To count them as joy as James 1:2, 3 says. That’s a tough one but if you believe that God is doing a work in your life that knowledge will give you the courage to say thank you to endure. God sees us as worthy of purifying, improving, and getting ready for greater things. But that requires denial of self and spiritual development on our part. The fire that appears to take away so much, actually brings new life if we stay close to God during the fire.

What kind of new life does God bring out of the flames? For one thing, He helps us focus the rest of our life on the things that really matter. Everything in our lives goes in one of two columns. One column for things that really matter and another for the things that don’t. A lot of times we get those columns confused. When we ask God for the wisdom to know the difference we then can set God focused priorities. When we look to God we then can emerge from the fire more committed to His glory instead of self comfort and glory.

The fire often forces you to sort out where your identity is really anchored. Is it in a person, your job, or your title, or your performance, or your appearance, or in your relationship with Jesus Christ? Or putting it another way the fires help us to see where our real priorities in life are. Are they in self or in serving our Savior? The flames often drive you to a new closeness to Jesus.

Yes, the fire destroys. But it only destroys the parts or things of our lives that have no eternal value. And thank God, that is not the end of the story. The fire also renews!

Portions from Ron Hutchcraft Ministries and “Renewing Fire.”

II Cor 12:9 “And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Going to the Movie…

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Going to the Movie…

A father of some teenage children had the family rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R rated movies. His three teens wanted to see a particular popular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13. The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family’s church to find out what was offensive in the movie. The teens made a list of pros and cons about the movie to use to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it.

The Cons were:

– It contained ONLY 3 swear words
– The ONLY violence was a building exploding (and you see that on TV all
the time they said)
– You actually did not “see” the couple in the movie having sex, it was
just implied sex, off camera.

The pros were:
– It was a popular movie, (a blockbuster).
– Everyone was seeing it.
– If the teens saw the movie then they would not feel left out when their
friends discussed it.
– The movie contained a good story and plot.
– It had some great adventure and suspense in it.
– There were some fantastic special effects in this movie.
– The movie’s stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood.
– It probably would be nominated for several awards.
– Many of the members of their church had actually seen the movie and said
it wasn’t “very bad.”

They then said that, since there were more pros than cons, they
were asking their father to reconsider his position on just this ONE
movie and let them have permission to go see it.

The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled thinking; “Now we’ve got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can’t turn us down!” So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request.

The next evening the father called his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. There on the coffee table he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children he had thought about their request and had decided that if they would eat one of these brownies, then he would let them go to the movie. But, he explained, just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons.

The Pros were:
– They were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients.
– They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them.
– The brownies were moist and fresh with wonderful chocolate frosting on top.
– He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe.
– And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father.

The brownies only had one con:
He had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well and they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop and he had baked it at 350 degrees so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed. Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies which included just a “little bit of crap” and not be affected by it, then he knew they would also be able to see the movie with “just a little bit of smut” and not be affected.

Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies and the smug smiles had left their faces. Only Dad was smiling as they left the room. Now when his teenagers ask permission to do something he is opposed to the father just asks, “Would you care for a brownie?”

Of course this is talking to adults as well as children. Satan seems to plant a seed that says the adult mind can handle those brownies and the children cannot.

Think about it. Is your stomach or mind affected by those brownies as an adult? Don’t be deceived.

I Cor 5:6b “…do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”

And age makes no difference……………..

Who can I Trust…

Exodus 20:3-4 “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.  Thou
shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that
is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the
earth.”

Who can I trust in?

God created us to live in a social environment, and to be “knit together
in love.”  I know that I need other people.  But I also know that I’m a
sinner (saved by grace through faith) living in a fallen world full of sinful people.
I know that we have an adversary who constantly seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.

In the final analysis, I must place my complete trust in the Living God and in
Him alone.  The danger in trusting other people is that they can become gods.

If we are careful, we can start living and planning our life based on “their”
leadership, “their” opinions, and “their” performance.  And when things don’t go as
planned or hoped, we are all capable of going into an emotional, mental,
physical, or spiritual tailspin.

Let’s face it.  Who among us has had a career or a business plan
that panned out “perfectly?”  Who among us has not experienced major business
curve balls?

Perhaps you were just overlooked for a promotion or raise.
Perhaps you are being mistreated by an unreasonable boss.
Perhaps a valued colleague just made a big blunder-and you’re caught in
the painful aftermath.
Perhaps you expected a customer to sign a big contract, but it fell
through at the eleventh hour.
Perhaps you expected to get paid on-time by a client, but you’re still waiting.
Perhaps your company was just sold, and you’re finding it difficult to
adapt to the new culture.
Perhaps your company just announced that your division is closing or
moving elsewhere…or going through another
infamous “reorganization.”

Be of good cheer: God sees everything and knows everything.  Your 100%
solid Shield of Faith in the Lord will quench all the fiery darts and equip
you to keep moving forward regardless of what other people do or don’t do!
God has a wonderful way of working things out for good-often in mysterious
and unexpected ways!

– William Beckett

“Trust and obey…there’s just no other way…to be happy in
Jesus…than to trust and obey!”

 Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on
your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Salt and Light in a Dark World…

Mat 5:13, 14 “You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”

Salt and Light in a Dark World…

We should be holiest in evil times. We live in a world that says, when it comes to spiritual matters “do not rock the boat or disagree with anyone”. If you do, you are then viewed as an intolerant person not open to the needs of others and not worthy to be in their group and you are a nasty person. There is a huge problem with that and if we buy into the world’s view and keep silent.

John 15:20 “Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”
Jesus presented a very narrow way to reestablish the link with God that sin broke. He proclaimed that there is only One way.

John 14:6 “Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Mat 7:13,14 “Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Now if we are ‘born gain’, we are or are supposed to be the salt and light of the world. We are to provide truth to a dark world. So who wants to hinder truth from being presented to those who need it? There is any enemy doing so and until Jesus returns a 2nd time we will have to do battle with him.

The profaneness of the times should not slacken our zeal–but heighten it. The looser others are — the stricter we should be. Based on who is running our world today the opposition we come up against should not surprise us.

II Cor 4:3, 4 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

The way to hell is a well-trodden road. “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” Exodus 23:2. Dead fish swim down the stream — living fish swim against it. Mere professors cut the garment of their religion according to the mode and fashion of the times.

Let us keep up the vigor of our zeal, in degenerate times. We should by a holy contrariness — burn hotter in a frozen age. We live in the dregs of time; sin is grown common and impudent. It is excellent for God’s name and glory to walk contrary to the world. Let us be as lilies and roses — among the briars. Sin is never the better because it is in fashion! The impiety of the times, is a foil to set off grace all the more, and give it a greater luster.

This plea will not help at the last day-“that we did as most others did.” God will say, “Seeing you sinned with the multitude — you shall go to hell with the multitude!” Oh, let us keep pure among the dregs! Let us be like fish, which retain their freshness, in salt waters.

Mat 7:13, 14 It is better to go to heaven with a few — than to hell in the crowd! “Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in there at:”

Portions from Thomas Watson (1620-1686)

Mat 28:19a “Go you therefore and make disciples of all nations……..”

Do you want to be Rich…

1 Timothy 6: 6″But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Do you want to be Rich…?

Ronald Meredith, in his book HURRYING’ BIG FOR LITTLE REASONS,
describes one quiet night in early spring: Suddenly out of the night
came the sound of wild geese flying. I ran to the house and breathlessly
announced the excitement I felt. What is to compare with wild geese
across the moon?

It might have ended there except for the sight of our tame
mallards on the pond. They heard the wild call they had once known.
The honking out of the night sent little arrows of prompting deep into
their wild yesterdays. Their wings fluttered a feeble response. The urge
to fly to take their place in the sky for which God made them was
sounding in their feathered breasts, but they never rose from the
water.

The matter had been settled long ago. The corn of the barnyard
was too tempting! Now their desire to fly only made them uncomfortable.
Temptation is always enjoyed at the price of losing the capacity for
flight.

I Tim 6:6-10 “But godliness with contentment is great gain: for we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out; but having food and covering we shall be therewith content. But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after having been led astray from the faith and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish
and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the
love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for
money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many
griefs.

Don’t allow yourself or your family to fall into this trap!

A Modern Day Aesop’s Fable…

James 1:27 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

A Modern Day Aesop’s Fable

A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package; what food might it contain?  He was aghast to discover that it was a mousetrap!  Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning, “There is a mousetrap in the house, there is a mousetrap in the house.”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell you this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me; I cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house.”  “I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse,” sympathized the pig, “but there is nothing I can do about it but pray; be assured that you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow, who replied, “Like wow, Mr. Mouse, a mouse trap; am I in grave danger, Duh?”

So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught.

In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital.  She returned home with a fever.

Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient. His wife’s sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer’s wife did not get well, in fact, she died, and so many people came for her funeral! The farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.

So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when the least of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

James 2:15,16 “If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food; And one of you say to them, ‘Depart in peace, by you warmed and filled’; Notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful for the body; what does it profit?”