Revelation from a Sponge

      Have you ever noticed the way to know how much water is in a common dish sponge is to squeeze it or apply pressure?  The water, how ever much is present, will naturally flow from the sponge.  If you need the soap in the sponge to be effective, you must squeeze or apply pressure multiple times.  Through this process, the soap will be influenced by the water and the action of cleaning will commence. 
      One item of notice is that the sponge will not produce the contained water without applying the pressure or squeezing the sponge.  And the soap cannot be honestly effective without squeezing the sponge and making the soap and water combine their efforts for cleaning.
      God shares with us in James that pressure encourages and produces maturity and perfection in Christ.  In other words, there is a maturity and a walk with Jesus that is only produced from pressure and struggle (Jms 1:2-5).  Paul shared that he welcomed hardships and difficulties because they helped remind him of his weakness and of Christ’s great strength (2 Cor 12.10).
      We also learn that through difficulties and pressures of life our true trust and faith in God is clearly revealed.  We find a great deal of truth about what is within our spirit and mind when we deal with struggles in life.  What are you producing when pressures and difficulties come?  Do you find patience, faith and trust; or do you find distrust, frustration and disorientation toward God and life?   Remember, God allows these difficulties so we can see where we are and what we need to work on. God took Israel through the challenges of the desert to reveal in them a powerful need for God’s wisdom and guidance (Deut. 8:2f).
      What are you dealing with today that your feel you are being squeezed and challenged?  Are there people in your life that frustrate you and cause a degree of grief?  May we each see these as opportunities to draw closer to God in prayer and meditation.  May we see these as God’s tool of applying pressure to get holiness out of us and increase our walk with Him.
      God, help us to trust you and lean on you when life becomes challenging.  Help us to walk in your Spirit so when life begins to squeeze us, our life will produce fruit from your Holy Spirit.  Thank you Lord.
                                                                                                                        ~~ Andy Burns

A Tale of Two Men

John teaches us, by inspiration, that the devil is the father of all lies, that he has been a liar since the beginning of time, he is the great deceiver, is a murderer and a liar (John 8:44; Rev. 12:9).  All of these attributes come from his basic nature as evil and rebellious toward God. How long has he been involved in leading man to sin?  Soon after the creation of the world and man, we find Satan immediately casting his influence on Adam and Eve.  He lied to them!
One such other case is found in First Samuel, beginning in chapter 11.  Saul was made king of Israel by the worldly, selfish desires of the people (I Sam. 8:5).  They desired a king in order to be like all the other nations around them.  These were not God fearing nations.  Instead, these were heathen, God-rebelling nations who served themselves and gave no respect toward God.  How sad that God’s people desired to be like nations who did not know nor love God!  In chapter 15 Saul is given a commission by God to destroy a heathen nation.  Saul leads his people into battle – but does not obey God nor heed his commands regarding the battle.  His instructions were to “utterly destroy” all of Amalek’s possessions (men, women, child, infant, ox, sheep, camel and donkey).  Instead, Saul listened to the voice of the people (15:24) and, as a result, disobeyed God’s direct command.
The direct result of this, as well as past actions, was the kingdom of Israel being taken from Saul.  God had rejected Saul as king because of his evil done before Him (15:26).  David is then anointed as king of Israel (16:13) and soon becomes the most popular person in Israel.  After his infamous victory over Goliath (17:37-50) David’s popularity began to increase with the people – and especially with Jonathan, Saul’s son (18:1,3).  This growing popularity, combined with Saul’s daughter who loved David (18:20) and all of Israel lauding David’s great deeds (18:7), fueled Saul’s hatred toward David.
Here we find our tale of two men.  Saul was initially seen highly in the eyes of the people for his great stature (10:23,24).  Yet, the problem was theirsight.  They looked only at the outward appearance – not at the inward person of the heart (13:14).  David was a man after God’s own heart – and revealed such throughout his walk with God.
After his victory with Goliath, we begin to see the differences between David and Saul.  The tale of two men reveals divergent paths taken by men in the same setting.  One man follows the steps spoken of in James (1:13-15).  The other follows the road spoken of in Matthew (7:13,14).  Saul no doubt followed the world and its lusts for power, prestige and pride.  David followed the humble and meek path which leads to obedience before God.  On at least eight different occasions in just two chapters, Saul repeatedly tried to kill David.  This effort was not because David personally hurt or mistreated Saul, but because of Saul’s own jealousy and ungodly selfishness (18:11,17,21; 19:1,10,11,15)
Saul only treated David in this way because David had humbled himself before God and obtained God’s great pleasure.  Saul had displeased God and lost the throne because of it.  Saul was no doubt being led by the spirit of the world (the devil) and not by the Creator of the world (Jehovah God).
Who is leading our path – brethren?  Will our tale be one of obedience before our Righteous God, or one of disobedience and pride before a sinful and wicked world leading to destruction?  Jesus came to give us life (Jn. 10:10).  Let us be faithful – unto death (Rev. 2:10)!                                    Andy Burns

Daily Doors for our Savior

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. Rom 10:1
          There is no greater joy than ministering to others and watching their growth.  Paul said it was his greatest desire to see Israel saved in Christ.  He would have done anything for them to be saved in Christ.
          What are we willing to do that our family, friends and community might be saved by Christ?
          Jesus gave His apostles an awesome responsibility in Matthew 28:18 and Mark 16:15.  He said, “Go into the entire world, preach the Good News and baptize those who believe.  Those who are baptized into Christ will be saved!” That is great news brethren – the greatest of news!  It is also the greatest of responsibilities!
          Are you willing to talk to your family about Jesus, serve your family and friends for Jesus or serve your neighbors and community for Jesus that their souls might be saved?
          You see my beloved brethren, everyday we have opportunities, Daily Doors, to minister to those around us.  We can knock on the door of their heart by learning their name, giving a smile with a Christ-like attitude, ministering to their needs, and “desiring their salvation” for the future.  Paul said he desired Israel’s salvation and so he did his best to minister to them toward their conversion.  He said in the Corinthian letter, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)  Are we willing and ready to follow Paul, to be a disciple of Jesus?
          What then are the benefits to knocking heart-doors daily (providing a smile, sending cards, inviting a friend to dinner toward building a relationship)?  First, we have the joy of serving Christ through our service to that person.  Second, we are working toward saving a soul in Jesus Christ.  We will be working toward adding another soul to the church of our Lord.  Third, we will be making new relationships toward even greater and deeper fellowship in the Lord.  Fourth, the church of our Lord will grow through our efforts.  We will have a part in the great effort of evangelism!  Fifth, through that person converted we can have other contacts to minister to in hopes of saving their soul in Christ. And sixth, Heaven will be more populated and Hell will lose a customer because of YOUR life saving efforts in ministry!   I know – its exciting isn’t it!  Your work will save a soul for Heaven!  Can we do it?  Absolutely!  We can with God’s Word in our hearts and our brethren close by our side.  Our light will shine and God’s glory and love will be seen! (Matt. 5:14-16)
          Let us all be fervent and joyful in our ministry to each other and those around us who are lost to the praise and glory of our great God!  To Him be glory forever and ever Amen.              Andy Burns

The Talk That Never Stops

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    Some people talk more than others. It is a fact.  And yet none of us talk all the time.  And yet, there is a conversation that may take place almost continuously.  How often do you talk with God?  In other words, how is your prayer life?  Jesus teaches us to pray with heartfelt, sincere words in Matthew 6.  A prayer that is not vain in its meaning is the prayer that the Father desires.  One that acknowledges the holiness, the mercy and the direction from God is the scriptural prayer.
    But we also find in scripture a prayer that is almost continuous.  Jesus teaches us by the hand of Luke (Luke 18) that some prayers need to be repeated over and over and over again.  The statement made by the Holy Spirit is that “men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”  In this parable we find a selfish, worldly, egocentric man who cares for no one but himself.  However, in the end even he provides the needs of the widow who has a need. (vs 5)  This parable teaches that if this man, being selfish to the core and worldly in his heart still provides for the needs of this widow, how much more so will God not come to the aid of His people.  When we look closely at the phrases used by the Holy Spirit, we find them highly instructive. 
“And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them.”
    God is telling us two things in this parable.  First, which is stated later, is that we are sinful people who have rebelled against God.  We deserve nothing from Him but justice.  He owes us nothing.  We only must trust in His mercy to take us back through Jesus Christ.  Second, we learn that prayer is not a one-time action.  Pray is a constant action that, depending on the subject prayed for, is used daily, hourly and always on our hearts.  Notice what the Spirit says, “…His own elect who cry out day and nightto Him…”.  He states what our hearts should be doing a great deal of the time.  When we state that we have prayed and prayed and God has not answered.  Have you really prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed…?
    Paul states that part of the Christian duty is to be constant in prayer (Rom. 12:12, Col. 4:2, 1 Thess. 5:17), that prayer is a critical part of our Christian armor (Eph. 6:18), that the Corinthians and Philippians strengthened his ministry through prayers (2 Cor. 1:11, Philip. 1:19), that prayer delivers complete peace to God’s people (Philip. 4:6) and that the prayer of God’s strong people is monumentally powerful (Jms. 5:16).
    So, where do we go from here?  The Bible teaches us to go on our knees often and deeply.  Prayer is our direction, our strength and our daily hope for spiritual survival and victory.  It is individually and communally powerful.  It is for the church, for the lost, for our important work and for our daily strength.  Where do we go…?   We begin the talk that never stops – and the talk that avails mighty and eternal rewards!

Nails in the Fence


 

     There once was a little boy who had a bad temper.  His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence.  Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down.  He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.  Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.
     The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.  He said, ‘You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence.  The fence will never be the same.  When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.  You can put a knife in a man and draw it out, but it won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound will still be there.  A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.
     Do you consider your words that are said on a daily basis?  Do you consider your reactions to people and situations, and the words that result from your reactions?  The Holy Spirit warns us to watch what we say with the family of God and with people in general.  In fact, the Holy Spirit challenges us with an exclusive charge.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Is kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you?  Ephesians 4:29-32

A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the
bars of a castle. Proverbs 18:19
     Are you careful regarding the words you speak every day? Are you prayerful regarding the words you speak every day?  Do you consider the Holy Spirit’s influence on your words and speech on a daily basis?  Notice in Ephesians it speaks of “not grieving the Holy Spirit, by whom you were sealed.”  May we call on the Holy Spirit to help us use our speech like nails in a fence.  May we be carefully aware of the impact our speech can have to encourage the day of every person we meet (whether we know them or not).  Your speech matters… use it to God’s glory!
                                                                                                Andy Burns