Countless Americans have followed closely the funeral of former President George H. W. Bush. Presidents, kings, dignitaries, and their entourages gathered to pay their respects to the Bush family. The services and burial were handled with class and dignity as the world watched.
After all the fanfare dies down, the excitement ceases, and the news channels move on to the next stories, what is left for the former soldier, politician, and president? Sure, the historians will complete the final chapter of his life story. What then?
The 41st United States President lived many years and did prodigious acts of greatness while alive. He was a good soldier, father and husband. He was known by the entire world. On the other hand, funerals happened this past week that only a handful of folks attended, and seemingly no one cared much about. No television crews were present, and their deaths did not even make the local paper.
Death comes to everyone. Death does not care if you are president or pauper, or whether you are young or old. The only thing that matters to George Bush going forward is what did he do with Jesus of Nazareth? If we go by what was spoken at the funeral, Bush made the right choice. Only God knows his heart, and only God knows yours.
Every individual is faced with this same decision. What will we do with Jesus? Romans 10:13 says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 6:23b tells us, "...the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." The greatest gift ever given was a King born in Bethlehem, and the greatest gift He gave back was His death and resurrection from the grave. Wise men are still the ones that seek Him.
Physical intimacy outside of the bounds of holy matrimony is always great wickedness. The few moments of illicit pleasure leave a lifetime of regret. It produces devastating results. It is time for God’s children to determine that they are going to quit listening to the world when it comes to choices regarding marriage and purity.
Dr Don Sisk
We are all familiar with the story of the virgin Mary. The Bible account of her life and Jesus’ birth is read by millions every December, and countless people have been named after her. Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel who was sent from God to ask Mary to make a very difficult decision. This decision would not only change her life but would change the direction of all mankind. Her answer to God’s request in Luke 1:38 was simple: “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word…”
She was swift to follow what God wanted. As soon as Gabriel finished his message, she agreed without hesitation. She was willing to surrender her life completely to the Lord’s will without asking for time to think about it. She called herself a handmaid, which is basically an indentured servant with a lifetime commitment. She was willing to completely follow God’s Word sent through an angel without question or reservation.
William Carey, who is called the founder of modern missions, said this; “I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.” Mary’s decision mattered, and she made the right choice. Doing what God wants is always the right choice.
This Christmas, are you willing to do what God wants you to do? Maybe He wants you to help a needy family, or give an offering to your church, or even volunteer for a ministry. Amy Carmichael put it this way: “Satan is so much more in earnest than we are--he buys up the opportunity while we are wondering how much it will cost.” Where God guides He will always provide. This Christmas, let’s listen to the Word of God and make a difference in the things which truly matter.
Is God A Bird Watcher?
Many folks enjoy bird watching. One of my daughters put out a hummingbird feeder this fall for a school project, and what joy she had to see them hover in to drink. It was pretty cute to watch her sit at the window watching those little birds fly around. Her enthusiasm about the venture was contagious, and often others of her siblings would be lined up peering out the window in hopes of seeing another one come by.
Did you know that God is a bird watcher? Jesus spoke in Matthew 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father (knowing).” A farthing was a Roman coin equal to a half penny of our money. Jesus was saying that a sparrow is not worth much, but God cares so much about that little bird that He notices every time one is in distress.
Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 10:31, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” The comparison Christ was making was that if He cares about a little bird (which he does), then just think how much more He care about us. Just considering that fact should take a big load off of our soul. I Peter 5:7 encourages us with this thought, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
East Texas is home to some of the prettiest birds in the country, and many can be viewed right here in the city limits of Jefferson. Many of you regularly feed these little guests at feeders in your yards or on your porches. The next time you are bird watching, remember God is watching as well. That should remind us that He is watching us with even greater loving care.
Through the years, I have seen many people get out of church. Very few make plans to do it. It just happens to them by missing a service or two. Then they miss a couple more services here and a couple more services there. Pretty soon they are no longer in church. As many times as I have seen it I still never get used to it. It still hurts me every time. I know what they miss and what the local church misses. Communities are filled with people who never intended to get away from God, but did not go to church on Sunday because they developed the habit of not going. Do not ever let that habit get started! EVER!!
Psalm 42:1 tells us, “As the hart (deer) panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” I write these thoughts from a deer stand as I watch the beginning of another beautiful East Texas day. Some folks across the country think that East Texans don’t appreciate nature because we hunt, fish, and cut trees, but for most of us, nothing could be further from the truth.
I am thankful for the natural beauty we are surrounded by every day. Psalm 8:8-9 says, “The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth.” Of course, in a perfect world I could do without so many wild pigs. Oh, and scorpions— and mosquitoes. How can I ever forget waterbugs? My wife said tearfully in her first encounter indoors with a waterbug, “They said everything is bigger in Texas, but that is ridiculous!” Well, you get the picture.
When I first moved to Jefferson over twelve years ago, I struggled with thankfulness. I knew very few people, and I often longed for my old home. My problem was that I tended to only look at the bad stuff. Do you ever struggle with the place God has you? He knows best what you and I need; we just need to trust Him.
We may not have the fantastic fall foliage of areas north and east of us, but we have a lot of beautiful sights here in Marion County. It is worthy of a prayer of thanksgiving lifted from even a hunting stand on a lovely fall weekend. Psalm 116:12 says, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?”
Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” This is a great verse to live by for the believer. During this season of Thanksgiving, we should be thankful to God for all that He has done for us. I want to think specifically about being thankful for God’s mercy.
Psalm 107:1 says, “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” God has shown mercy to me many times. I think specifically about the time when I was in college. I was a typical college kid, staying up late and trying to make the most of my days. I was driving down Interstate 65 in central Indiana to meet my parents for lunch on a Sunday afternoon. I was approaching the exit for Columbus, Indiana—not to be confused with Columbus, TX, Columbus, OH or any other Columbus. How I remember this exit so well is that it is unique with an arch. It is not a huge one like St. Louis, but it still makes their exit very distinct. I was looking at this arch while approaching, and that was the last thing I remember. I would prefer to not mention how fast I was going at this time—my kids will probably read this and I had rather they did not hear! I was driving in the fast lane with the cruise control on when I fell asleep. So sound asleep that I was actually dreaming and thought I was home in bed. What woke me up suddenly was the rumble strips making their “bump-bump, bump, bump” noise. I had crossed both lanes of traffic and was all the way off the road.
If I had stayed asleep a couple of seconds longer, I would have hit the Columbus bridge and probably gone out into eternity. I would have never gotten married, I would have never had children, I would have never moved to Jefferson to have the privilege to minister these past twelve years. I give credit to the mercy of God! Psalm 105 tells us to make known God’s mighty works to all the people, and I give full credit to God for saving my life that day. Since that day, every time I drive past this exit, I bow my head and thank God for His mercy. Of course, when I am driving, I do not bow my head for long! I hope you get the picture—that arch in Columbus is a monument of God’s mercy to me.
What is your monument? All of us have them, and I pray that this will jog your memory this Thanksgiving to revisit your own personal monuments of mercy. Psalm 103:8 says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.”
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year, but both commercially and culturally it is the most ignored. It is sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, the most lucrative seasons. Turkeys are not the most romantic birds (understatement of the year), so not much appeals to the advertisers and stores. For many, Thanksgiving represents a time to be off work, stuff themselves with food, and watch football or shop. This is most unfortunate, because thankfulness is truly needed in our lives. Because of the hubbub surrounding Halloween, it is my guess that most of my readers have thought very little about Thanksgiving, and I want to spend the next few weeks putting it back into our minds. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Are you thankful? We have so much as Americans to be thankful for. Next week we will go to the voting booths and cast a vote for the party and candidate of our choice, and we have the freedom to do so. We are blessed with a nation of freedom to vote and choose our own way. I am thankful to be an American.
As a Christian, the thing I am most thankful for is salvation. Psalm 34:2 says, The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” With salvation I get eternal life, a home in heaven, a new body, and a Heavenly Father--all in one package! That is something worth being thankful for. Everything else in my life is secondary to my Christian faith. I John 5:12 says, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
If you are not a Christian, you are missing out on the greatest blessing in all the world. You might disagree, but you only do so because you have never experienced Christ living in your heart. I have a wonderful wife, six great kids, parents that love me, and a job I love, but all of these pale in comparison to salvation. Psalm 68:19 says, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.”
John Newton penned the famous words, “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now I am found-- was blind, but now I see.” This enduring truth is what I am most thankful for. This Thanksgiving season, let’s flip the script in our homes, and instead of treating Thanksgiving indifferently, let’s truly show thankfulness for all the blessings that we have.