Back in the days when I was jetting around the world doing mission work, it was a common practice for me to hand out gospel tracts. I developed my own tract in the form of a million dollar bill. One side has a picture of Jesus with the message “Jesus Christ died for you! His blood that was shed for you is more precious than silver or gold.” The flip side asks “If someone gave you a million dollars, would you take it?” I then go on to explain on the tract how that in love Jesus died for us and rose again to give us eternal life. I then explain that by taking him you can have your sins forgiven, be filled with the Holy Spirit, have healing in your body, power over Satan, and live in God’s plan for your life. John 3:16 is quoted, and I quote the place where it says if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead you will be saved…For whosoever calls on the name of Jesus, will be saved (Romans 10: 9, 13). It ends up by asking, “Will you take Jesus?” Then it gives a phone number and a web site. One time when I very politely passed out tracts to all of about 175 passengers on a large jet before we took off, I had an interesting response. I started at the beginning of the first class section after everyone was seated. Most everyone received the little green piece of paper with acceptance. I wanted them to have something to muse on for the flight. But when I got to the very back of the plane the last person I handed the tract to was a lady, who when she saw what it was and read the front side of it, she went ballistic. Up she came out of that seat in a rage, cussing and sputtering and carrying on. The Stewardess came and quieted her down as I went to my seat. Later in the flight, the Stewardess came to me and told me not to worry, that I could pass out gospel tracts on her plane anytime, and that there is usually one person like that in every bunch. The early church suffered persecution, and the church in parts of the world today suffers persecution for freely getting the gospel out to all people. With that experience on the plane it seems the stats run that out of about every 175 people, there’s going to be one greatly offended at you getting the gospel out freely to all. Multitudes gladly welcomed and benefitted from Jesus’ ministry, but probably about 1 out of every 175 were greatly offended and persecuted him. He did not let the ballistic ones stop him. Neither should you and I.
As I approached an 18 wheeler on east bound I-30, I noticed his left rear inside tire was flat and wobbling. It had not started coming apart, and I thought if I could let him know he had a flat he would pull over and tend to it before littering the highway, making a dangerous situation for all. I pulled up alongside him getting his attention by staying even with the cab of the truck and signaling with my hand with a rearward down motion. I saw that he got my signals. I then pulled in front of him, maintaining my position for a distance. Then I gave a right turn signal and got off at the Friendship exit, hoping he would follow me. He did not. So I went through the exit and took off to catch up with him, this time dodging large chunks of truck tire scattered along the highway. I caught up with him again, went through the same procedure of going alongside him, and we both pulled over on the side of the interstate. I got out of my van and went back to him to find out that he was Russian and I could not understand a word he was saying. I showed him the tire which by now was only a couple of rings of rubber and steel around the wheel. The rest of the tire was scattered along the highway with cars having to dodge the chunks. I told him where the next truck stop was hoping he could understand me, and I went on my way. I know the man did not know me from Adam, but had he responded to check his truck out immediately, we would have prevented all the debris littering the highway. A lot of time we are naturally cautious to embrace spiritual things that don’t fit into our “norm.” Jesus said to test the spirit to see whether it is of God or not. The Spirit of God is according to love and truth, and the spirit of the enemy is the spirit of error and division (1 John 4:1-8). It is wise, when we get a signal that something is up, to check it out quickly so we will know what we are dealing with. Is what we see before us according to the truth of the Word and the way of love or is it man’s word and man’s way that does not totally harmonize with the pure, simple, word of God. If we pay attention to the signals, in due time, we can determine what is going on. The Spirit of God leads us to Jesus, the fullness of the Spirit of God, and following his leadership and guidance in all that we do, as did Jesus, for the good of all. If we follow that way, we won’t litter the highway with a lot of dangerous debris that can be harmful to fellow travelers on the road.
While traveling from Arkadelphia to Delight, I saw in the distance a white object on the edge of the pavement. As I approached it I saw that it was a white duck sitting there with its head held up facing the road, and as I went by at about 60 mph, it never moved a feather. I thought, “Is that thing real or is that a stuffed duck?” I turned the van around and came back to it thinking it sure looked real. I got out of the van and only when I walked right up to it did it move its head a little. I reached down and picked it up with both hands. One leg just dangled; somehow it had gotten its leg broken. It did not have a good future where it was. I set it in the van and went back to where Gentry Creek crosses the highway and released it into the creek. As he swam up the creek I thought, “Well, he is more in his element now, maybe at least he has a chance.” And I went on my way.
Sometimes we get our leg broken in life and all we can do is just sit by the road. It is times like those that we need a helping hand to lift us up to carry us to the creek where we can at least have another chance. If we don’t get a helping hand we can just sit by the road until we waste away, or if we flop ourselves around until we get out in the road, we get run over. If we just sit there we become the proverbial “sitting duck” just waiting to get hit or become the victim of the next passing dog, fox, or coyote. Life will run off and leave you, run you over, or gobble you up.
No, it is good to help a brother or sister whose wing or leg has been broken for whatever reason and they are just sitting by the road of life. Everyone is of infinite value. Every person is paid for by the price of God’s own Son, Jesus. He gave his life so that every person could live life to the fullest. That is available to every person through forgiveness of sin, fullness of the Holy Spirit, undoubting belief in God’s faithfulness to his Word, and obedience to the promptings of his Spirit. If we swim in the river of God’s presence, we are in a position of rescue and refuge from the dangers of the highway and the predators of the woods. In that place there is healing from the injuries inflicted by life and people. Regardless of what has happened to us or what people have done, the person of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit, is good, is healthy, and is beneficial for our well-being. We can trust him with all our heart and be perfectly safe. He will take us from the side of the road to a haven of rest and healing and wholeness in his own way as only he can.
The last article was about “Top Notch Living” which was about having one main comprehensive resolution for this coming year, and that is to be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit. If we get this first peg in the right hole, all the rest of our life will fall into good and proper order. With this, through the finished work of Jesus Christ, we can tap in to all the goodness of God that is in place for our benefit and for the benefit of others. That was for the question “what”, now the question is, “how” can I be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit?
Proverbs 3:6 says if we will “acknowledge” or accept and recognize God in all our ways, he will direct our path. Jesus said if we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we will be filled (Matthew 5:6). If we pursue all that God has for us with no resistance to him, we will be filled. By believing that God is good and has good things for us according to the promises of his Word, we are free to receive what he gives the way he gives it. With this faith operating, we will yield to God’s working in our life trusting him to fill and guide us in the life he has for us. The early disciples followed this pattern after Jesus went back into heaven and they began being filled with the Spirit with supernatural evidence in their lives on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1 & 2). Then throughout the book of Acts, which is the history of the very beginning of the church, we read how both groups and individuals were filled with and led by the Holy Spirit. They experienced supernatural languages, boldness in sharing the gospel, healings, miracles, and signs and wonders with whole towns and regions being influenced by the resurrected Jesus Christ. They were truly experiencing “top notch living” in a wonderful way. They also experienced persecution from the religious status quo, which always comes with the territory if we are going to press in to all the good things of God. As they believed God’s Word and yielded themselves to the moving of God in their lives, they saw the goodness, power and works of God in their own personal lives and in the lives of those around them.
It’s a personal pursuit. God meets us where we are with life-changing, delivering power through the work and name of Jesus. With that he sets our feet on a new path in which we can be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit enabling us to live in the goodness and presence of God on a daily basis. That is top notch living for the coming year and in all years beyond.
My brother and I grew up on an egg farm at Poyen, AR. With 12,000 layers and 9,000 eggs a day at peak production, we had plenty to do every day. We did not have the elaborate automated systems as is prevalent today. We did have an electric auger that conveyed the chicken feed from the silo to the working area. We also had little electric buckets that heated the water that sat on an agitating base that we sat a basket of eggs in to get them mostly clean. The rest of the cleaning had to be done by hand.
With chickens came spilled feed and rats and mice and with rats and mice came snakes, lots of snakes. I have always been interested in nature things. I studied it as a boy. Snakes to me were just another creature to study, especially to know which ones are poisonous and which are not. I have always had a thing to catch critters, and snakes were no different. I would catch black snakes, rat snakes, and even copperheads. I would kill the copperheads and make hat bands out of the skin.
My brother Joe did not see a snake as a creature of mere curiosity. Like many people, he saw a snake as a monster of mortal terror. Joe is 4 years my senior. He would always win any altercation we had if I tried to fight him myself. But I had a way to get him back. I would go catch a black snake and then I was the boss. I would run Joe all over the farm. I had the equalizer that put me in control for the moment, and, for future threats of vengeance.
Life in general, circumstances, people, and the devil, will all whip up on us if we allow it. It will bully us until we are backed into a corner if we don’t know what our equalizer is in the Lord. Jesus fulfilled a covenant with God with his own spilled blood to bless us and be with us in dominion and power. He has accepted us as a brother and a sister and seated us together with him in heavenly places above all power of the devil. He has given his Word and his Spirit to guide us in life and assist us in every way. All this is in place for every person who will repent and believe his Word and receive his Spirit to follow his way. When life, sickness, and the devil are pushing and fighting us, we need to learn to stand in faith on the Word of God without budging and use our equalizer in the name of Jesus. By believing and speaking and obeying the Word, we don’t have to just cower down and take it. We can run sin, sickness, and sorry circumstances all over the farm and take our joy and peace in the Lord each day. (Ephesians 1).
The plan my wife and I discussed was to have a row of dark red crepe myrtles along the fence that runs on the east side of our property. That would provide low maintenance long season color in that part of the yard. That discussion was weeks, even months, ago.
We would see rows of crepe myrtles around town to observe the style they were pruned to and the spacing. Some are bare trunk trees and some are bushed up from the ground. We recently went to a hardware store to pick up some materials for a job, and they also sell plants and flowers. We decided to go see what was in the garden department. They had about 13 crepe myrtles that had dark red flowers and dark leafed foliage and beautiful, for $19.98 a pot. “Wow”, we said, “this is exactly what we are wanting.” They did not have a special sale price, they just had the tag on them $19.98. I asked the attendant if we bought 10 of them, would they give us a special deal. She said “Yes, I heard the manager offer someone 50% off. I can do that.” We took the deal and got $200 worth of plants for $100. Had I not asked, we would have paid full price.
Jesus taught about prayer saying, “Ask, and it shall be given you…for every one that asketh receiveth.” Jesus said if you ask, it shall be given to you, not maybe, but it shall be given you. He said every one, not some, but every one that asks receives. He then went on to give the illustration that if a child asks a good father for bread to eat, he will not give that child a rock. If the child asks for some fish, a good father will not give him a snake. If the child asks for an egg, a good father will not give him a scorpion. Then Jesus gave the point of the lesson: If a good natural father gives good things to his hungry child, so much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to his spiritually hungry children (Luke 11:9-13). God desires for every believer to have the power and the beauty of the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit in his or her life all season long.
It is the Holy Spirit who is given to magnify Jesus is our lives so that we live in his resurrection power on a daily basis. He is our Helper, our Comforter, and our Guide to go with us through every trial and every triumph of our life. In him is supernatural power for supernatural accomplishments. You can read about it in the Book. But you don’t have this unless you ask for it and expect to receive. That’s what Jesus taught. Believe and receive from Jesus.
For some time I have been looking for a certain kind of work shirt that I really like. Years ago I had purchased some at Walmart, but in checking there, both locally and in different towns, I have not been able to find what I am looking for.
One day I remembered how when growing up, when you wanted to find something, you would get out the Sears catalog and find all styles and sizes. I thought, “I’ll just stop in Sears and look at one of their clothes catalogs and find just what I am looking for.” When I stopped and inquired I was shocked to learn that the last published Sears catalog was in 1992. I was even shown a copy of the last issue. They don’t print catalogs anymore. It is all online. My first thought when I learned this was, “Boy! Am I behind times or what!” I know that the internet is the going thing, but since 1992! I even said out loud, “Wow! Where have I been!” It was just hard to believe that major stores don’t print catalogs anymore. That’s the way it was done all my years of growing up. But now, there is a new way, and if I am going to get the goods I had better go with the new way.
One of the prophets of old spoke of God doing “a new thing” and that there was going to be a new way (Isaiah 43:19). From the beginning of time God has revealed himself to man through creation and through the law. True to the prophet’s prediction, Jesus came on the scene and revealed the way of a personal relationship with God through faith in the Word and by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. This new way was fully revealed on the day of Pentecost when the church started operating in the same resurrection power in which Jesus himself walked when he was on earth. The new way gets the job done just like Jesus did it. It wasn’t “church as usual”, and “the way we’ve always done it.” It took some change on some people’s part, and those who were not willing to change went without.
The good news is that if we are willing to change, we can step into the “new thing” that God is doing. When we get “online with God”, we will find that indeed Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. As we receive and walk in his Word and his Spirit by faith, he will supply our needs in every way abundantly above all we are able to ask or think. It is by the supernatural power that works in us by being born again and filled with the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 13:8,9; Ephesians 3:20). We are either online or outdated.
With a menagerie of birds and animals on the place. I was always collecting stuff
with which to build pens, sheds, etc. One day I was investigating a goose nest under a stack of old roofing tin, and I raised up some of the pieces of the tin to discover a huge nest of baby copperhead snakes held within the confines of their big fat momma curled up around them . I gently eased the layers of back down and with heart pounding, I ran and got my pump 20 guage shotgun that held six shots. I thought, “I’m gonna take care of these babies before they get away!” I got back and eased the tin up again and quickly propped it against the building and stepped back with gun at hip, unloading the whole thing on them. Much to my surprise, all my “rifleman” shooting technique did was blow live little snakes all around the area! Now I had little snakes crawling everywhere, in all directions, and a big live momma snake still laying there, and an empty gun in hand! By the time I found a hoe or something to kill them, I think some had gotten away, but I did get some of them.
There is power in believing prayer to deal with situations and to deal with the
enemy of our soul. We can shoot from the hip and just produce a lot of hot air, or
we can learn to aim the word of God at a specific target in faith and put that thing to rest. Our basis of faith is the work that Jesus Christ accomplished for us. The word says Jesus is our “great high priest” who understands our weaknesses and frailties because he was tempted with the same stuff we have to deal with, but he never sinned. So when we come to him and submit our failings to his cleansing blood, and rely on his goodness and his faith, then his power is given to aim right on the situation so we can deal with it with his help. Jesus taught that what things you desire, believe that you receive them when you pray, and you will have them, as long as you are not carrying any unforgiveness in your heart. Unforgiveness will stop the operation of your faith (Mark 11: 22-26). Having prayed in such a way, then you hold your confession of receipt of what you prayed and you don’t back down. On the basis of Jesus, we are to come boldly to God to find mercy and grace to find help in time of need (Hebrews 4: 14-16). You don’t have to just sit there and let the snakes grow up to bite you later. Take aim and shoot to kill!
It seems there is no sweeter sleep than lying down in the back seat of a car while traveling as a kid. I can remember back before seat belts (thank God for seat belts today), that we would go on a road trip of some kind and I would get in the back seat of the car and oh how good it felt to lay down in that moving, jostling car and drift off into blissful sleep. Such rest was so comforting and so complete. It certainly made a lasting memory for me!
There is a sweet and complete rest available to every person traveling on this road of life. There are many kinds of religion, there are myriads of beliefs and different slants on beliefs, and of course there is no end to the differences in everyone’s personal opinions. In all these variables, there is no real resting place. Who is right, who is wrong? It is confusion. But, there is one factor that does not change that is solid as a rock. It is established forever for every person whether we believe it or not. It has nothing to do with what we can do for God, but rather, what God has done for us. God saw our condition of sin separating us from him and established a blood covenant through the blood that was spilled from his Son Jesus Christ. This is a permanently fixed legal agreement in the universe. God has sworn by the blood of Jesus to take our sins away and write his laws in our hearts and minds to enable us to know him. This is a done deal. It is ours to receive or reject. When we plug in to this and stay plugged in, it will light up our life and give sweet inward peace and rest. If we are not plugged in to this, we remain in the darkness of being separated from God now and for all eternity. In such separation there is no real peace or rest. But, hearing the good news of what Jesus has done for us and turning from sin to commit our life to him is the faith that plugs us in. Then, when we wake up at the end of the journey and see Jesus face-to-face, it won’t be an encounter of eternal judgment and of not knowing him. By plugging in to God’s eternal covenant, we can enjoy his presence each day here and now, and on that day we can wake up in the refreshing of being in his presence forever. (Hebrews 6:16,17; 8:10-13; 10:16-39)
When all the seats in the room are taken, and you get out of your seat so another can sit there, you have given place to them. Keep that in mind…“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death…By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life” (Proverbs 14:27; 22:4). “Fear” in the original Hebrew language of the scriptures, means “reverence.” To truly reverence someone is to defer to them or give place to them. To live in the fear of God, to reverence God, is to defer to or to give place to him. Since the Holy Spirit is the agency of God who is with us in this earth realm, we must conclude that to truly reverence God means that we defer to or give place to the Holy Spirit in our lives. Paraphrase: To give place to the Holy Spirit is a gushing fountain of life springing up to depart from the snares of death…by humbly giving place to the Holy Spirit brings riches, and honor, and life.
If there is one goal we should have, it should be to give place to the Holy Spirit in our lives. By yielding to God’s Spirit in our life, we realize forgiveness and release from sin through what Jesus did for us. By yielding to the Spirit we can walk in God’s power which will guide us and enable us to do his will in the earth. Being sensitive to the Holy Spirit is important to keep us “awake” spiritually to what the Lord is working in our lives. Jesus spoke about a time in which “everything goes” so that many are ensnared in ways that lead away from the Lord. Without the fear of God operating in our lives, we are lulled to sleep spiritually, allowing all sorts of stuff in our life for which we will give account in the day of the Lord. There will be a day of reckoning. If we make a firm decision to walk in God’s ways instead of our own, and commit ourselves to doing just that, the blood of Jesus can cleanse us of our sin, the Spirit of God can empower us, and we can begin turning our life around to doing his will. Jesus said it is not those who just say, “Lord, Lord”, who enter into the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of the Father who are in heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). It is very important that we cultivate the fear of God in our lives. It is for our eternal life. “Have a seat, Sir.”