September 19, 2017
Worm Story - A few weeks ago Gideon opened the fridge and he said that it was probably time to get rid of the worms that we had in there for fishing. I told him to go throw them in the garbage so he went outside and threw away one package that was obviously a lost cause but came back in with the other container. He showed me the worms and said they were still alive so I said he might want to go throw them in the flower garden. He did as I suggested and then came back inside and started on his school work, but awhile later I couldn't find him. I called for him upstairs and called for him downstairs but he didn't answer. I figured he was outside somewhere and didn't investigate...until 45 minutes later when he still hadn't made an appearance. I went out front and found him leaning over the flower garden with a stick. I inquired as to what he was doing and he said he was helping the worms survive by making holes in the dirt really deep down and putting their heads or butts into them (because you can't tell on a worm) so they could burrow in. They were all 10 trying to make their way down the same hole so he was just helping them on their journey. He took a lot of time and put extra loving care into the project.
Fast forward an hour. We're sitting at the table and Afton comes inside holding a jar and says in an incredibly excited voice, "Gideon, look at all the worms I found outside in the dirt. They're so big. I can't believe it." She had "rescued" every single one of those worms that Gideon had so painstakingly released into the wild. Needless to say we had her put them back and I think the worms probably survived.
September 12, 2017
Today Is the Day of Salvation - I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the text in 2 Corinthians 6:2, which is quoting from Isaiah 49:8 “For He says: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” In the last twenty days or so, many things have taken place; Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, scores of forest fires all over the western states, an 8.1 earthquake near Mexico City, as well as other disasters. Locally, we lost a dear brother in Ben Gillham, another church member lost his father a couple weeks ago, and the list seems to go on and on. Just this morning on my way to chapel at Adventist Christian School, I came upon an accident with a small sedan sitting underneath a truck with its rear tire almost sitting in its windshield. Do you think the folks involved in that accident had any clue that, that is what tomorrow had in store for them yesterday? The fact of the matter is none of us know what will happen tomorrow. We have plans and schedules that we expect to be played out, but when it comes down to it we have absolutely no control over what will actually take place. Truly, today is the day of salvation.
Why as humans do we put the most important things off to take care of in the future. In the previous verse (2 Corinthians 6:1) Paul pleads with his readers “not to receive the grace of God in vain.” We must take seriously our salvation in the here and now. We can’t wait for another more convenient time. In the book of Hebrews chapter 3, we find Paul again exhorting us to act today, in verses 7 through 15. In verse 13 he tells us to, “exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” The longer we toy with sin and put off giving it over to the Lord, the more we become enslaved and deceived by it, and the harder it is to submit it to God. “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11)
September 3, 2017
A Hedge of Safety - Our whole back yard is fenced with a gate on the side of the garage. We often leave our dogs outside when were out and about. Well one of the dogs has decided that she’s some kind of escape artist. It seems no matter what we do to block things off she finds a way to move things around or dig around things so that she can be outside the fence. She has no idea that the fence is there for her protection. I finally took the time today to do the project of pouring a cement slab underneath the gate so that she can no longer find a way to dig herself out.
This reminds me of the hedge God has around us for our protection (Job 1:10). Sometimes we’re just not happy being hedged in and we do anything we can to get outside of that protective wall. All the while, not realizing God has put it there to protect us from what’s outside. Without fail, when we do break out from His protection we end up getting hurt or hurting someone else. I pray God would help me to be content staying within His protective hedge that He has put around me.
August 29, 2017
Harmless as Doves - In Matthew 10:16 Jesus says, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” In today’s political climate I believe we have to be especially vigilant to apply the principles of this verse in our everyday lives. When looking at the news or social media concerning politics it seems to be all filled with hate and vitriol. We must be very careful to not get sucked into the same spirit that is running so rampantly throughout our nation right now. It is so easy to get pulled into an argument or sharing (pushing might be a more fitting word) our opinion on politics. Often we do these things without thinking things through or realizing that it’s going public for everyone to see. My experience is that communicating in these ways usually doesn’t bring people together but instead causes greater division and greater feelings of bitterness, disappointment, or even hatred.
It seems like this is presently Satan’s playground and he is ripping apart our nation, our communities, relationships, families, and even marriages through our political stances. Do we, as Christians really want to willingly jump in and take part in things that are causing so much division? We live in a time where people need support, encouragement, and love more then any other time I’ve seen in my lifetime here in America. We as Christians must measure our words and actions, whether they are in person or through social media. What spirit am I writing or saying it in? Is it in a spirit of love and affection to strengthen and encourage my brother or sister on their way? There is a time and a place to speak out, but even then it should be done very prayerfully and in meekness and humility.
Something we often don’t realize is that even within our church (Seventh-day Adventist) here in the United States, roughly half of my fellow brothers and sisters disagree with me politically. That may come as a surprise to some, but whether you are a democrat or a republican almost 50% stand on the other side of the aisle concerning their political ties. We often make the mistake of assuming that everyone around me at my local church is in agreement with me on the issues. The odds are that’s probably not the case. Paul told the Philippians, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among who you shine as lights in the world,” (Phil. 2:14,15). May God help us to be blameless in our communications and interactions so that we might be lights in this ever increasing dark world.
August 22, 2017
Eclipse of 2017 - This past weekend we happened to be in northern Wyoming for the baptism of my sister-in-law in Sheridan. We thought we’d take advantage of that and stop at Mills Spring Ranch just outside of Casper to take in the eclipse in its totality.
It was an amazing weekend. The baptism was a wonderful baptism and another decision was made for baptism as well. You have to understand that we have been sharing the truths we hold dear with Tara (Grace’s younger sister) for about 18 years. To see her make this decision and to take a stand for things such as the Sabbath is very heart warming for us and above that, seeing the changes that have been happening in her life over the past year has just been amazing. There is truly nothing like watching someone giving their life fully to Christ.
The eclipse was awesome! I don’t use that word lightly, but because our God is awesome and He put all of it into motion thousands of years ago I believe the word is very fitting. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life. We saw a few stars come out during its totality and we were surrounded by somewhat of a sunset that was 360 degrees around us. It was truly breathtaking. We were down in a meadow overlooking Casper with people dotted all around us. When the sun went completely behind the moon you could hear the volume of people all around us as well as within our group automatically go into cheering. Some broke into tears and all into praise of some sort.
The eclipse is such a testament to there being a Creator, a Master designer. You see, the sun is just over 400 times the size of the moon, but it is also about 400 times as far away from the earth as the moon. Put another way, estimates are that 65,000,000 – 75,000,000 moons could fit into the sun. Yet, the moon and the sun appear to be the same size in our sky. Earth is the only known planet to have solar eclipses. The odds of this happening by happen chance are infinitely small. God has everything right where He wants it.
It was a wonderfully beautiful thing to experience and was a reminder of how great and awesome our God truly is!
August 8, 2017
Ezekiel 20 - In this chapter we again hear God telling the leaders of Israel that He will no longer listen to there inquiries toward Him (v.3). Why? because of their hypocrisy. He follows in verses 5-29 by giving a historical breakdown of Israel and their continual refusal to live according to the covenant they had made with Him, showing them how they have always continued on in their abominations and idolatry. Yet, God has always been longsuffering toward them. Now, however, He states that He is done listening. In verses 30-32 God asks them the direct question, “are you continuing on in the sins of your father’s”? He knows that they are, so He tells them He will not hear them.
God, as always, does not leave them with a hopeless message. He reveals to them in the rest of the chapter how He’ll restore Israel to purity through His judgments. He will remove all of those who practice evil. He’ll cause them to realize how defiled they’ve become.
There are a couple verses in this chapter that jump out at us as Sabbath keepers. They are almost a repeat of each other. These verses are verses 12 and 20. Both verses refer them back to “My Sabbaths” and that they are “a sign between Me and you”. In verse 12 He says, “that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” God is here reminding Israel that He gave them a Sabbath that they might always remember their God and what He has done for them, that He is the one Who sanctifies them and provides for their every need, and that they can rest in Him. Also, that they are His special, peculiar people. The Sabbath was a sign to symbolize just that.
We still today have that special sign between us and our God. It is a weekly reminder of our great Creator and that we can do nothing of ourselves. He is the one who sanctifies us. He is the one Who has set us apart to be His peculiar people. You see, Israel was a nation who supposedly followed the God Jehovah, but in verse 32 God makes this statement about them, “What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say, ‘We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.’” We have to ask ourselves this same question, do we proclaim the name of God yet choose to still live like everyone around us? Do we still do the things that unbelievers do? Or do we observe the Sabbath for the right reasons, because God has called us out to be His special people who do not conform to the things around us and therefore keep the Sabbath as a sign of our gratefulness and commitment to Him, a sign that we know that He is the Lord our God.
July 29, 2017
Ezekiel 18 - Here God refutes a popular saying in Israel of that day, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children’s teeth are set on edge”(v. 2). Apparently they believed that the children were to receive the punishment according to the sins of their fathers. God tells us in verses 3-18 that this will definitely not be the case. Instead, each individual will receive punishment according to their righteous acts or their evil acts. It has nothing to do with what their parents do, or the opposite, what their children do.
He goes on to tell us in verses 21 and 22 that, “… if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live: he shall not die.” This is just another way of saying that when an individual is converted and that individuals life is changed by the in-working power of God, God covers or forgets all of their past sins and wickedness. Wonderful news indeed! However, in verse 24, we find that the opposite is also true. When a righteous person turns from righteousness to wickedness, “All of his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered”. Friends, we truly are only safe as long as the precious blood of Jesus covers us. This reminds me of Rom. 10:12, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Hold on a second though, don’t be discouraged. The very next verse tells us, “… God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
God has given us everything we need in order to keep us from falling back into the life that we had prior to coming to Christ. He also has supplied all of our needs to come to Him in the first place, when we are stuck in a life of wickedness. Why does God do all of this for us? The answer is found in the closing verses of this chapter (v’s. 30-32) “… ‘Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of the one who dies,’ says the Lord God. ‘Therefore turn and live!’”
July 25, 2017
Ezekiel 16 - Ezekiel 16 is a vivid depiction of God’s love for Israel. The illustration is poignant with meaning. I’ve seen and read stories in the news over the years about new born babies being left to their demise in a dumpster, garbage can, or thrown down a laundry chute. According to God that was the equivalent of Israel’s situation when He initially took them in. They were left for dead, orphans with no one to care for them. God took them in, cared for them, and even lavished them with comely gifts. He made them His own. Not only that but made them His prize possession. Even to the point of taking them in spiritual marriage.
Their response was to go into idolatry and harlotry. Actually, they were even worse then harlots. Harlots are paid for their services, but God tells us that Israel was so abominable that they paid others to come in unto them. It was a continual slap in the face to God. He tells us that their behavior is even worse then that of Sodom. For centuries God endured this behavior always trying to show them the dangers of their ways and win them back to purity and a committed relationship to Him.
I encourage you to read this chapter this week and to really ponder what God does for His people, for you. After all, without Him, we all are destitute just as Israel was prior to His taking them in. Where would you be today without the marvelous results of God’s plan of salvation working in your life? I have not quoted anything this week because I don’t feel it does justice to God’s beautiful illustration displayed in this chapter. It’s a must read to fully appreciate and take in God’s view of His church and His people.
July 18, 2017
Ezekiel 14:12-23 - This week we continue our study in Ezekiel 14. Last week we learned about the hidden idols of the hearts of the leaders of Israel and how those cherished idols were continually causing them to sin.
As the chapter continues we find a statement made by God in verse 13, that “when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it.” God is going to send, “four severe judgments on Jerusalem---the sword, and famine and wild beasts and pestilence”, verse 21.
What’s really interesting in the latter part of this chapter is that God very clearly wants us to understand that when His judgments are poured out nobody is going to be saved by somebody else’s faith. Three times (verses 14, 18, and 20) God mentions that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job are in the land they will only deliver themselves, nobody else. The same is true in the final judgments that are soon to come upon our world. Only your faith in Christ will save you. Not your parents, your spouse, your spiritual mentor, your pastor, or even some great world-renowned evangelist, only your faith. Do you have an experiential faith in Christ? Do I?
Thankfully, the chapter doesn’t end there. It ends on a good note, on a wonderful promise. In verses 22 and 23 we’re told that there will be a remnant “who will come out”, and that Ezekiel will see by “their ways and doings” that God did nothing in vein. His judgments would bring about great results by refining His remnant people. May we all allow the trials and challenges God allows in our lives to bring about the beautiful fruits of righteousness in our characters that God intends them to. May we, by God’s grace, have others look at us and say, praise the Lord when they see our ways and doings.
July 11, 2017
Ezekiel 14:1-11 - Here we find the elder’s of Israel are coming to Ezekiel (the prophet) for advice. However, God is tired of their hypocrisy. In verses 3 and 4 we find God calling them out because they have set up their idols in their hearts. These idols they have set up are continually causing them to stumble and fall into sin. Yet, they continue to come and seek advice from the prophets. To put it another way, they are using the prophet as a safety net. Saying in their hearts, “ we will continue to do what we desire in secret because we can always go to the prophets of God to help us out of our undesirable situations, they will safe us”. You see these were people who looked righteous. They were continually coming to the temple to give sacrifices and to say they’re prayers.
God tells Ezekiel He’s had enough. He calls for them to repent in verse 6 and to turn from their evil ways. Then in verse 7 He tells them that whoever continues in their secret, hypocritical sins will receive the punishment that they deserve. God takes it a step further in verse 9 proclaiming that any prophet who gives advice to these hypocrites will face the same punishment as the evildoer.
Do we do the same thing today as God’s people? Are we setting up idols of the heart and fulfilling those idolatrous desires throughout the week and then coming in to the church on Sabbath expecting God to bless us anyways? Are we using God, His church, and the Sabbath as a safety net? What are our idolatries of the heart, which are causing us to stumble? God is calling us to repentance just as He called the Israelites to repentance in Ezekiel’s day. He wants to cleanse and purify us and He pleads with us to put away any idolatry hidden within our hearts.
July 5, 2017
With another Independence Day celebrated I think of how fortunate I am to live in this country. The country has changed a lot just in my short lifetime, especially since 9/11. However, it still remains true that we bask in freedoms that most of the world can only dream of. I pray that I never take it for granted. It’s kind of like good health, often times we don’t consider our health and how wonderful it is until sickness, injury, or disease comes on and steals it away. We are truly blessed to have the freedoms to worship openly, own multiple Bibles and spiritual books, and so many other freedoms. I for one, need to take greater advantage of these freedoms while they’re so accessible to me.
Even more then these freedoms though, I’m thankful for the freedoms that can be found in a life in Christ. Being set free from sin as is mentioned in Rom. 6:18. Then Paul reminds us that we’ve been set free from the law of sin and death in Rom. 8:2. Ponder that for a minute. You’re no longer destined for death. You no longer are a slave to sin as you used to be. The gift of Christ is so far reaching and so supremely sublime. Because of everything He has done for me, I again today purpose in my heart to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do (will) not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1) Of course all of this, can only be accomplished by and through His amazing, unfailing grace.
June 28, 2017
Last week we discussed Ezekiel 8 and the abominations that were taking place in the temple. As a result of these abominations God was having to turn away and leave. This week we find a continuation of the story in chapters 9 & 10.
In chapter 9 God sends out a “man clothed with linen, who had a writer’s inkhorn” (V.3), to “put a mark on the foreheads of those who sigh and cry over all the abominations that were done” (V.4). Then he is sent out to kill and destroy all who do not have the mark, or in other words those who are not sighing and crying over the abominations happening among God’s people. In verse 6 God tells him to start the slaying in the temple. Strangely, God Himself is ordering for the temple to be defiled (the temple would be defiled by the killings within it). The man clothed in linen follows through with the Lord’s command.
The result is described in chapter 10. The temple is completely defiled both through the abominations and now through the killings. Therefore, God leaves the temple. The worst thing that can happen to God’s people has happened, the Glory has departed. May we always be seeking discernment to sigh and cry against the abominations amongst God’s people so that it may never be said about us individually or corporately “the Glory has departed”. Amen!
June 21, 2017
Ezekiel 8 is a revelation of the abominations of the children of Israel and the effect that those abominations have on God. In verse 6 God mentions the abominations happening within the temple and says because of those abominations they, “make Me go far away from My sanctuary?” The same remains true today, “19…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Cor. 6:19 & 20. When we willingly commit sin or abominations we push God, in the form of the Holy Spirit away from us, just as the Israelites of Ezekiel’s day did.
We find in verse 12 of Ezekiel 8 that the abominations first revealed were “in the dark… in the room of his idols”. In other words in your home, when you are alone in privacy. Do you have hidden abominations that take place in a room of idols that are hidden from all others? Do you say as they did in this same verse “The Lord does not see us…”?
We find as we read on in the chapter (verses 14-16) that the abominations start at home, as we have discussed, then they spread to the temple itself pushing God out of the place He belongs. We must be ever vigilant to keep sin and abominations out of our personal lives and in effect keep them from tainting the larger body of Christ.
June 13, 2017
We’ve been enjoying the flowers at our house for the last several weeks. We’ve got a good amount of roses, some ground cover flowers, some flowering bushes, as well as some hanging baskets. The bright colors some how bring life and energy to the soul. Then you add some of the fragrances along with it and receive even more refreshment.
Every flower starts out as a bud. Buds tend to be somewhat colorless and boring. Then the sun connects with them and they open up in beauty releasing their invigorating fragrance. I’ve been blessed to witness this happening spiritually in the life of a young lady who is going into the 8th grade. A few weeks ago she approached me after church with a big smile on her face and told me she had made the decision to be baptized. Then Sunday morning I saw her at the ABC so I talked with her and her mother about a time to start studying in preparation for baptism. Again she had a bright smile on her face as we discussed her baptism. At the end of our discussion I invited them to come to attend the Wildfire series at the Greeley Church. Well, they’ve attended both nights and each night she has excitedly come and shown me the notes that she had taken during the message.. Last night’s message was about the Sabbath so I asked her if she’d ever heard these things before. She told me she had heard a couple of things but had never heard most of it. Then she proceeded to tell me that she was going to go home and study the notes and Scriptures she had written down some more.
What a blessing it is to watch a bud transform into a bright bloom releasing sweet fragrance in glory to God. She has turned toward Jesus the son of righteousness causing her spiritual life to bloom just as the flowers bloom when they receive the rays of the sun. Philippians 1:6
June 7, 2017
We’re living in a time when we are going to have to stand up for truth and for what’s right on a more consistent basis. This is the case within our country and unfortunately sometimes within our church as well. How can we boldly stand if we don’t first know what we ourselves stand for?
I was encouraged recently in my reading and study of Ezekiel chapter 2. First of all, in verse 6 we find God telling us, “don’t be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, …” God is pointedly stressing here that we have nothing to be afraid of concerning those who are against us. He specifically mentions the looks they will give you and the words they’ll say to you. Our humanity often immediately becomes concerned with, “what will they say or think”, but the Lord tells us not to worry or fret about these things. Secondly, in verse 7 and 8 God tells Ezekiel, “speak My words to them” and “hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” Friends we have to know what God is saying to us in order to speak on His behalf. We have to be eating the Bread of Life, so that we can share the bounty with others. The more a person knows what they believe the more boldly that individual will stand for those beliefs. However, I can’t stress enough those beliefs must be Scripturally based.
Jesus gives us some excellent council in Matt. 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” It’s all about perspective. What have we to fear when we serve One who has all power and can deliver us from any situation in the here and now, but more importantly can deliver us into eternity in the here after.
May 25, 2017
I’ve recently started going through the book of Ezekiel for my devotions. It’s a book that immediately stretches your imagination. Chapter one starts off with Ezekiel sharing a vision he was given of God. If you haven’t read it for a while, I think you’d find it very fascinating how God is described. It is definitely not the typical picture we get when we think of God and His throne room.
I marvel to think that God is eternally different and more expansive and impressive then our finite minds can go. After all He is infinite, so how does a finite mind comprehend infinity. It can almost give you a headache when you really stop to ponder these things, but yet it is so exciting to realize that there is infinitely more to God then what has already been revealed to us. Imagine with me, we will be able to constantly learn new details about God non-stop for eternity. That’s every day for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s comical that we sometimes seem to think that we have our Creator and sustainer all figured out.
I so look forward to a not to distant time when I can, face to face, learn more about my God from my God; A time when revelations of Jesus will be personally divulged to me. Oh, the wonder of it all.
May 17, 2017
My family and I have been reading through Ezra and Nehemiah for our family worships. They are both interesting books that are very applicable for our time. A people coming out of Babylon to rebuild that, which truly represents God. I was specifically struck by Nehemiah chapter 3, A seemingly uneventful chapter that lists all those who rebuilt different sections of the wall surrounding Jerusalem. It’s interesting to me that God saw it necessary to diligently recognize and include all of the names of these individuals who would otherwise never be mentioned. Individuals who weren’t known for ongoing great accomplishments for the Lord, who would have went down through history unknown. However, the task they performed faithfully for God opened the door for them to be mentioned amongst the great men and women of God in His Holy Scriptures.
There is one exception in the list in verse 5. We’re told that, "the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord”. Throughout the whole list all were mentioned in a positive light for the work they did for the Lord, but here is one group whose hearts were not in the work. I’m so thankful that God takes notice of the faithful work we do for Him and I pray that we can all faithfully put our shoulders to the work of our Lord.
May 17, 2017
Eccl. 8:11 "Because the sentence against and evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” We live in a culture today that is shifting toward the concept that there are no absolutes. "Your truth is good for you, my truth is good for me. There is no absolute truth.” With this mindset we are becoming more and more resolute in our wrongdoing. If everything is just based on what’s right for each individual then we never have the right to correct a wrong. Who am I to say that what you are doing is wrong, that is just my opinion.
This line of thinking has unfortunately been creeping it’s way in amongst God’s people as well. When people are caught in wrongdoing or sin is pointed out to them, their response is often, “stop judging me”. This is a very dangerous mind set. It emboldens us in our sinful ways. If nobody has the right to correct me, I will continue on in my sin with greater boldness just as we’re told in Ecclesiastes. My heart becomes hardened against the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
This doesn’t mean that we should all be looking for and pointing out every fault and shortcoming of our brothers and sisters in Christ. However, if we see a fellow brother or sister who is living in open sin or habitually living out dangerous tendencies, it is our responsibility to lovingly reach out to them and seek to help them through their struggles. We must take great care and in prayerful humility and love work for the salvation of our fellow believers. On another note, we also need to be willing to humbly receive a loving rebuke from our fellow believers.