Bethany Church news
Judy and I lived in Alaska for five years back in the Sixties. We didn't live down in the WARM part of the state, but in the frozen interior; Fairbanks. There are many things which one must learn to get along in that kind of climate. Things act very differently in fifty or more degrees below zero temperatures. If you have propane for a hot water heater or for cooking, you must find a way to keep the propane tank warm, because when the temperature gets down in the 40 below zero range, propane remains a liquid, and stops flowing to the burner. If you have to work outside, there are special precautions you must take to keep yourself safe from frostbiting your skin, eyes OR your lungs! If you enjoy shooting in the winter, be sure to remove every trace of oil from your gun's barrel, or you risk a bullet being stopped by the thickened lubricant and the gun exploding as a result.
Cars are another story! Their tires freeze, and if you hit a bump before they are warmed up, they will shatter like glass. The oil thickens and holds engine parts like cement. The transmission lubricant locks the gears so it is impossible to shift. Cold batteries have almost no cranking power, and will fail to start the engine. You must warm and charge your battery in order for your car to start. Batteries left unused for too long will freeze. If you attempt to charge a frozen battery, it can explode.
What is the point of all that? Just this: This world is an arctic place to a believer. We have many precautions which we must make to survive. Unused spiritual batteries will die in the frigid air of unbelief. Only by regular use and by receiving power from an outside source can spiritual power be maintained. And any attempt to infuse spiritual power into a frozen spirit seldom works. Only a warm spiritual life can be charged with power by God.
Daniel understood how to keep his spiritual battery warm and charged. As recorded in Daniel 6:10 (KJV);
"Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime."
Today is Presidents Day. There was a time when we gave special accord to the greatest of our leaders. There was a time when we performed huge feats of engineering to remind future generations of what greatness truly was. The Washington Monument is one example. The Lincoln Memorial is another. Mt. Rushmore is the largest and most difficult example.
Designation of their birthdays as a national holiday was another way. The two presidents who did more to preserve the United States as a viable entity on the world stage were George Washington, the father of our country, and Abraham Lincoln, who had to make some very unpopular decisions to ensure that the USA remained a strong union capable of surviving in an increasingly militant world. Each of these had their own special day, until the decision was made to lump them together – along with any future great leaders – into this day; a generic day for Presidents. So Happy Presidents Day to all presidents who were great, were thought to be great, or thought themselves great. I guess this is the Politically Correct thing to do; this way no president needs to feel slighted because they do not have their own special day. Of course they still have that VERY special pension, the lifetime Secret Service protection, and perks that far surpass anything in the private sector.
The Bible speaks of how we are to treat our leaders:
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (KJV);
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
And, to be perfectly honest, the president and the lower leadership live lives that few of us would actually enjoy. Imagine having your every word, your every gesture, from the time you were born until this morning at breakfast, examined by hundreds of news agencies, all looking to make some point either for or against you. God bless our leaders, if for no other reason than to keep one of us from having to fill their place.
I have spoken to you regarding one of the purposes of the indwelling Holy Ghost in the life of a believer: bringing scripture to mind at those times when we need it's guidance.
Does this mean we don’t have to study scripture, since the Holy Ghost is going to bring it to our minds when we need it? Paul would say God Forbid! The Holy Ghost is not responsible for bringing things to our mind which we have never bothered to study in the first place! If you have not read it, how can the Holy Ghost REMIND you of it?
Bible reading is a CRUCIAL activity for all Christians! We are not fortunate enough to have lived during the time when Jesus walked the earth and we could hear him speak with his own human lips - but we are fortunate enough to live in a nation where we have the freedom to study the written records of many of the things which Jesus did say! How are we doing?
Barna Research Group surveyed and found the following statistics over the last 20 years with regard to Bible reading:
Bible reading has dropped from 42% to 37% among white adults.
It has plunged from 55% to 30% among Hispanics.
Bible reading among blacks remains high, and unchanged (no % given).
By age group, Bible reading among young adults rose the most – from 33 % to 42%.
Among median aged adults it remained unchanged (no % given).
In older adults it declined from 54% to 46%
It would seem the blacks, middle aged and the young people fare the best, while the rest of us are in trouble - -
Deuteronomy 17:19 (KJV);
"And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:"
John 5:39 (KJV)
"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
I have noticed that, for most people, when their car makes a new noise - a click, a tick, or a wheeze - they pay no attention. If the sound repeats itself, a few people will notice it. If it becomes a regular knock-knock-knock every time the engine is running, almost everyone will take notice of it and take some action to rectify the situation.
The Holy Spirit that indwells every believer works that same way. He does not shriek bible passages to us, but merely speaks them quietly, as a close friend might whisper to us. Many do not hear those words, however, being so involved with their everyday lives. Then, He repeats them, and repeats them, until even the least sensitive person is aware of His voice, and of the scripture which is being directed to them.
We are told of the power of the Word of God:
Hebrews 4:12 (KJV);
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
We are told of the uses to which the Word of God is put:
2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV);
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
And Jesus tells us that the Holy Ghost will bring it to our minds:
John 14:23-26 (KJV);
"Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
I have discovered a most strange phenomenon. Sometimes when Judy and I go to town, just about everyone I encounter is in a good mood. They smile when I pass them, sometimes say “Hello!”, and seem to be happy with life in general.
At other times, I find just the opposite; almost everyone has a grim expression, and no one ever speaks. If I have dealings with them, their responses are short and void of any friendliness at all.
At first, I tried to tie this down to the day of the week – everyone is grumpy on Monday because the work-week has just started, or happy on Friday because it is ending. Not so.
Maybe the weather – on sunny days, people are happier than on rainy days. No again.
Gas prices! When gas is up, people are down – and when gas is down, people are up! No correlation at all.
Paydays! Many people are paid on the 1st and 15th of the month, so are happiest around those dates. Nope.
Phase of the moon? Season of the year? Astrological sign? Stock Market? Hemlines? No, no, no, no and no.
This troubling problem wouldn’t be nearly as bad if it were not for the fact that the world is grumpy on the same days that I am grumpy, and is only happy on days that I am already happy.
That is the thought that solved the little mystery. If I walk down the street happy and smiling, most people smile back! If I have had a bad day and am frowning, no one speaks to me.
The difference in the attitude of the world depends on one thing – the attitude the world sees in us.
The Word of God tells us that our attitude is crucial to our well being:
Proverbs 17:22 (KJV);
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones."
And that how we feel inside controls how we communicate with others:
Job 10:1 (KJV);
"My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul."
The problems of the world can weigh heavily upon each of us. If you feel no concern for the world situation, then you must not know what is going on. We have fine young people being killed in more than one area of the world, and this has always been the case; I remember Nixon lamenting his desire for a Generation of Peace. We have never seen this, nor are we likely to in this physical life.
And yet, the greatest enemy is not those who desire to kill us by using military weapons to end our lives. The greatest enemy is depression, often brought on by those people who profess to HELP us.
In the Viet Nam era, we had 58,000 young people killed in battle by the North Vietnamese. During this long and protracted conflict, there was a great deal of political dissension among our own citizens, and some sadly misguided individuals (such as Jane Fonda!) allowed this political disagreement with the war itself to spill over and become hatred for our soldiers that were fighting the war. Miss Fonda and her fellow travelers led the movement to hate the returning troops. They called them 'war criminals' and 'Baby killers', and spat on them when they arrived back home. This had such a deep effect on these fine young people that a deep depression settled in on many of them. Some years later, statistics showed that although 58,000 were killed in that horrid conflict, 100,000 had committed suicide since the conflict ended.
The Word of God speaks of this depression:
Job 3:20-22 (KJV);
"Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures; Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?"
Ecclesiastes 4:1 (KJV);
"So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter."
We must work to bring comfort to those that are depressed – and we must examine ourselves to assure that we never contribute to such depression.
This devotional is based upon a passage from Smoke On The Mountain by Joy Davidman.
Unfortunately, mankind can’t handle the common sense of God. Side by side with Christianity, and often mistaken for it, there has always existed a dark Eastern religion of despair. Perhaps it first came out of exhausted and overpopulated India, where the Lord Buddha decided long ago that life was a mess, a huge disappointment.
The religion of despair often achieves a glaze and appearance of something noble. This is very impressive to those who are impressed by dramatic gestures. I remember several young men that I worked with at various times who would sit with their legs crossed in the Lotus position, chanting their Mantra as they performed Transcendental Meditation. This is the exact opposite of the true gospel. The Christian gives up his own desires for the love of others; the Eastern ascetic renounces the world because the world is flawed! He works to attain perfection, from which lofty position he can look down on the world with condemnation, because he thinks himself too good for it. Pride pretending to be love; that is nothing but a subterfuge of Satan himself!
The Word of God tells us:
Matthew 9:14-15 (KJV);
"Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast."
Colossians 2:20-23 (MSG);
So, then, if with Christ you've put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? "Don't touch this! Don't taste that! Don't go near this!" Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they're just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important.
Sir Francis Drake, caught in a dangerous storm in the Thames, was heard to say, "Must I who have escaped the rage of the ocean be drowned in a ditch?!"
In the movie 'Patton', George C. Scott is playing the part of the great general. At the close of the movie, the war has ended and Patton is still in a small European town walking down the street with General Bradley. Suddenly, a heavily loaded ox-cart breaks through the wheel block holding it in place and rockets down the steep street towards them. Bradley saw the cart coming, and jerked Patton out of the way of the cart. As the cart rocketed past the pair, Patton recovered his balance and then started laughing. "Can you imagine?" he laughed - "After everything I have been through, getting killed by an Ox Cart!"
What have you been through, Brother? What perils have you escaped from, Sister? Not everyone has been in a combat situation in the service, and not everyone has taken long ocean voyages, but we have all been exposed to grave dangers. How many times have you been in an airplane, supported from death by only the rushing of air under the wings? How often have you been in a vehicle traveling down the road at 70 mph while folks traveling at 70 mph the other way hurtle past only inches from you? You have brushes with death every day!
What a horror to have lived in such danger; to have escaped the loss of our physical lives every day, and yet loose our eternal life for nothing but the failure to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior!
The Word of God tells us
Hosea 6:3 (KJV);
"Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth."
1 Peter 5:10 (KJV);
"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."
Have you ever watched someone haggle over the purchase of a used car? In many cases, the buyer wants the BEST car on the lot, and wants to purchase it for the lowest price. He is concerned only with his own interests, and cares nothing for the business he is dealing with.
On the other side of this bargaining is the lot owner. He wants to unload the worst turkey on his lot because it is the hardest one to sell, and he wants to get the most money possible out of it. He, too, is concerned with only his own interests, and cares nothing for the person he is going to dump this wreck on.
That is what we deal with every day, to a greater or lesser degree. Many people are completely motivated by their own self interest, and almost everybody is out for number one.
Now let's look at man's dealings with God.
Man wants what he wants, not what is best for him. He desires pleasure that destroys his health, and he desires wealth so much that it destroys his charity. He is consumed by self interest.
On the other side of this bargaining is God. He wants what is best for man. He is unable to give it as often as He desires to, though, because man does not desire it. God is motivated by love to each of us.
The Word of God tells us about the differences between God’s desires for us and our desires for ourselves:
Proverbs 21:10 (KJV);
"The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes."
Mark 4:19 (KJV);
"And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful."
Ephesians 2:3 (KJV);
"Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."
I once read the states which administer the death penalty by using lethal injection are having a hard time accomplishing that because the FDA has gotten involved with one of the drugs which they use in the process, and is interfering with it's manufacture and importation. I guess this drug is not safe enough ? ? ?
And there was a thing going around on the internet which 'proves' the Cash for Clunkers program was a huge failure. I guess no one noticed that it is based on the premise that these new cars will be driven 12,000 miles only, and then scrapped. An odd assumption, when the studies show the average car in the US is driven 140,000 miles, or 12 times that amount.
The government got involved in home schooling, and it seems there is pressure to remove religious instruction from that practice.
And the Catholic church was being forced by Obamacare to finance birth control and abortions for their employees.
Remember when the cheap Freon had to be replaced with a new, patented, expensive gas because the old stuff was damaging the Ozone layer? Never mind that the Freon was heavier than air, while the Ozone layer is nine to eighteen miles above the earth - -
It had nothing to do with the patent expiration on the old gas - -
We can continue to look for wisdom in human knowledge, but the smartest thing we can do is turn for wisdom to the one who designed and created this planet and every thing on it.
Isaiah 44:24-25 (KJV);
Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;
If we follow that passage, we will become wiser people.
Of course, a lot of people would then be out of a job - -
This week on February 4th was Mawlid An-Nabi a holiday in the Muslim world. The name is Arabic for “Birth of the Prophet”, it is the day the Islamics celebrate Muhammad's birthday. Due to the fact that the Arab calendar only has 354 days, this holiday moves 11 days earlier each year, and 12 days earlier in leap years, so it can fall on any day of any month in our calendar. Can you imagine celebrating Christmas in August? Or Easter in the late fall? How about having a picnic to watch the Independence Day fireworks in February?
But I digress. I started including Muslim holidays in these devotionals, because as Christians we need to know something about other faiths so we can deal with the people we meet who are in them.
For this holiday, suffice it to say that Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (his full name) was indeed born, but we are not even certain of the year, let alone the month or day; it was either 570 or 571 AD. He was born in Mecca, which is now in Saudi Arabia.
For scripture today, I chose:
Matthew 7:15-20 (KJV);
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
I only ask that you examine the fruit of Islam, and then, based upon that examination, treat it in the way that Jesus instructed us to.
Sometimes what we THINK we need is not at all what we REALLY need. For instance: Ricardo Semler tells of a lesson he learned working at Semco:
"We were in yet another meeting, when we came to the purchase of $50,000 worth of file cabinets. Several departments had been waiting months for the cabinets and in desperation had decided to pool their requests.
"We didn't buy a single new file cabinet that day. Instead, we decided to stop the company for half a day and hold the First Biannual Semco File Inspection and Clean-out. Our instructions were simple: We told everyone to look inside every file folder and purge every nonessential piece of paper. I was one of Semco's biggest file hogs, with four large cabinets and a request for two more. After our cleanup, I trimmed down to a single cabinet, and that was pretty much how it went throughout the company ... The cleanup went so well that when everyone had finished, Semco auctioned off dozens of unneeded file cabinets."
And sometimes, what we think we are pursuing is not what we are really pursuing. For instance, there was a young woman in the library who grabbed and checked out a book whose cover read:
When she got home and started reading it, she found it was a manual on building a men's Bible class.
The Word of God tells us how to discover what we really need, and how to attain it:
Romans 8:26-27 (KJV);
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
The fact that our government used to be exclusively made up of men of strong faith is being re-written today. A while ago, there was a humanist that was ridiculing Pat Robertson in his bid for president. He asked "Do you want a president who believes he can protect the United States from a hurricane by PRAYING about it?" I thought to myself - yes indeed, that’s EXACTLY the president I want. Such faith is NEEDED in the white house and in the halls of congress; it has been too long absent.
In 1863 President Lincoln designated April 30th as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. Let me read just a portion of his proclamation on that occasion:
"It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, who owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by a history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. The awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has grown, but we have forgotten God."
The word of God warns us about this in
Deuteronomy 6:10-12 (KJV);
"And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage."
Far more people believe in Angels than believe in demons. The best work the Devil has ever done is to convince people that he does not exist.
A benevolent God, however, is much easier to believe in. People seek them out. It is characteristic of our time that people want to have God but do not want to have the Devil. People even invent gods for themselves, with what has been called their 'do-it-yourself God Kits'. But these creations are gods who do not demand much of them, and they certainly are not gods who punish! They are, however, allowed to reward. On the contrary, their gods absolve them from conflict and doubt, massage them, pat them on the head. They whisper sweet words into their ears in the dark of night, and contribute to their bravado in the bright daylight. But above all they are gods who will not trouble them with the fact of evil. The problems of evil, suffering, and death are not confronted, but evaded and dismissed.
The Word of God tells us that Satan caused our original fall:
Genesis 3:14-15 (KJV);
"And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
And it tells us that he continued to inhabit the earth:
Job 1:6-7 (KJV);
"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."
And finally, that he is a master of disguise:
2 Corinthians 11:14 (KJV);
"And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
Have you ever made up some excuse to keep from admitting the real reason for something you did? Sometimes, we may even lie to ourselves in cases like this, imagining that cloud in the distance will bring rain, so there is no reason to wash the car when it is going to get rained on anyway. Today, the sun is out and it is simply too hot to mow the lawn. Tomorrow, the high clouds give us shade, but the impending rain will probably stop us when we are only partly done with the job.
On a beautiful fall day, four teenaged girls decided to go for a drive instead of showing up to class on time. When they did arrive, the girls explained to the teacher they had had a flat tire. The teacher accepted the excuse, much to the girls' relief.
"Since you missed this morning's quiz, you must take it now," she said. "Please sit in the four corner seats in this room without talking." When they were seated, the teacher said, "On your paper write the answer to one question: 'Which tire was flat?'"
Did you see the movie “The Lady Killers”? There is some REALLY bad language in it, so I cannot recommend you see it, but it shows how one little lie leads naturally into another, then another, then more, and eventually the whole false construct comes crashing down and usually lands on the one that started telling the lies in the first place.
The Word of God speaks a lot about lies:
"A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape."
Zechariah 8:16 (NCV);
"These are the things you should do: Tell each other the truth. In the courts judge with truth and complete fairness."
Colossians 3:9-10 (KJV);
"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:"