This week a friend let me know that the blades on their riding lawn mower were worn out. I quickly volunteered to fix this problem for them and assured my friend it would be done in no time.
I have changed riding lawn mower blades many times and it usually only requires a couple of tools and about 30 minutes. I removed the mower deck and discovered that the nuts holding the blades in place were stuck.
I tried using breaker bars and air impacts to bust the nuts loose, and they would not budge. I heated the nuts up with a torch and finally broke one of the nuts loose, but the other nut remained firmly in place.
After so many attempts to loosen this nut it finally stripped, and I was really in trouble then. It was time to get creative, so I got an old 15/16 open end wrench and welded it to the nut, and finally, it broke loose.
Now I have to order a new nut and what should have taken 30 minutes to fix is going to take a few days.
This situation is a lot like life. When we have problems, we are always looking for the quick fix. We want God to fix us as long as it does not take too long or hurt too bad.
We want to give that one tithe that makes everything better. We want to offer up that one prayer that will cover everything. We want to attend that one service that wins God’s favor for all time.
God does not work that way.
In 1 Timothy 4:15-16 Paul reminds his readers,
15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
A real relationship with God requires that we daily practice His Word and immerse ourselves in Him. A real relationship with God means we keep a close watch on our thoughts, emotions, words and behavior. A real relationship with God means we persist. We do not give up, and if we do not receive an answer or a solution right away, we keep trying, keep learning, keep growing and keep persevering until God gives us His answer or His solution.
Keep practicing. Keep immersing. Keep watching. Keep persevering, while you are working towards a solution, God is working on you.
Yesterday, I took my first bike ride, as a 40-year-old. I was inspired by two 80+ year-old youngsters who ride their mountain bikes ten to twenty miles down our county road every morning. I mentioned to one of these octogenarians that I was inspired by their commitment to ride and was thinking about riding myself. He was excited to hear that and let me borrow one of his spare mountain bikes to get started on. Well, yesterday evening I decided to give this mountain biking thing a try, so I grabbed my borrowed bike, aired up the tires, oiled the chain and took off. As I left my house, the wind was in my face, but the road was fairly flat, and all was going smoothly until about a mile into the ride I hit the first hill or “rock pile” as my 80+ year-old neighbors affectionately refer to them.
Going down the rock pile was pure joy, the wind was in my face cooling me off, the bike was flying effortlessly and then all the sudden when the uphill started all momentum was lost, and the struggle began. I was switching gears, pedaling with all the effort I could muster and longing for the next rush of downhill joy. After thinking about this ride, it reminds me of life on this earth. We have moments of exhilaration and joy that are quickly cut short by the daily grind of uphill life.
Galatians 6:9 reminds followers of Jesus not to grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up. Don’t give up on that uphill climb because pure joy is waiting just over the next hill.
Pastor at Walnut Springs Baptist Church
Due to a medical emergency this week, I was asked to feed the animals for my across the street neighbor. Please keep the Bonesteel family in your prayers. I have fed these animals before when my neighbors have gone on vacation. They have a cat, a hen, a small dog that resembles Toto, a yellow lab, a big black dog that hates me and wants to eat me, and a miniature pig.The funny thing about this mini pig is that there is nothing miniature about it. It is huge!
As I was feeding this “miniature” pig, I was reminded that things are not always as they appear. When these pigs are babies they are the cutest things you have ever seen but get really big, really fast. Jesus reminds us in John 8:44 that the devil is a liar. At first, the devil dangles sin in front of us, and it appears to be so pleasing and irresistible; He does not reveal how much it will eat and how all-consuming it will become. Be very careful, those “miniature” sins in your life will get really big, really fast and will not be stopped without heartfelt repentance, Christian fellowship, accountability, and total obedience to Jesus Christ.
I saw this humorous restaurant sign which read “I never finish anyth.” That is very true of people everywhere. Just think for a minute about all the unfinished projects in your life. It is easy to start but very difficult to finish strong and finish well. Let’s be thankful our Savior was a finisher! Let’s also strive to be like Him and finish what we start.
I never excelled in mathematics. In high school, I was very close to not graduating due to the mathematics portion of the TAAS test. I took the test for the last time, three or four months before graduation. I had failed the test on two other attempts and if I did not pass it this time I was not going to graduate. The day of the test I was very stressed out, but I did the best I could and hoped for a positive outcome. When the results came in, I remember being called to the counselor’s office and wondering if I was going to walk the stage with my friends or not. The counselor informed me that I had passed the test but just barely. She said that if the test were graded from 0-100, I would have received a 70. Well, she might as well have told me I received a scholarship to Harvard because I was ecstatic over passing that awful math test.
My struggles in mathematics continued in college and thankfully I was called into the ministry because my degree did not require me to tackle calculus or trigonometry. Instead, I was able to move into Biblical equations and is what I would like to share with you today. This time of year we must take the time to deeply reflect on the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. We must consider the love of the Father who willingly sent His Son. The love of the Son who willingly sacrificed His life and the power of the Holy Spirit who after the resurrection filled and empowered the weak and fearful apostles to transform the world.
Reflect on this Biblical equation this week:
God’s perfect love + the life of His perfect Son + the death of His Son on the Cross + victory over death through resurrection = hope for the vilest sinner = victory over the cruel grave = life abundant and eternal = power to overcome fear and failure while continuing to transform this world for the glory of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Now that is an awesome equation. This Easter season it is my prayer you will open your heart to the Father’s love, open your mind to the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and receive the Holy Spirit. Happy Easter!
In Mark 4:26-27, I was struck by what Jesus said about the man who scatters seed on the ground. Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed on the ground. The man scatters the seed; he sleeps, he wakes up day after day and night after night and the seed sprouts and grows but the man knows not how. After thinking about the statement, â€œhe knows not how â€, I begin to consider all the areas in my life where I know not how.
As I finished reading Mark 4:28-41, I was reminded of even more areas where I know not how. I know not how the smallest becomes the largest in the kingdom of God (Mark 4:30-34). I know not how or when the storm is calming down (Mark 4:35-41). I know not how the seeds sprouts. I know not how the smallest becomes the largest. I know not how or when the storm is calming down but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me (2 Timothy 1:12). In this life, there are multitudes of â€œI know not hows, â€ but I do know Him who is able. Do you know Jesus? Are you trusting Jesus in all the areas of your life where you know not how?
Some of God’s scariest looking creatures live in depths of the ocean. Take a look at a few of these creatures.
The Bible says that some pretty scary and wicked stuff lies in the depths of people too. Written thousands of years ago and attributed to King David, Psalm 36 verse one declares, “Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.” The word transgression is defined by the “New Illustrated Bible Dictionary,” as the violation of law, command, or duty. The definition of the word wicked is, “evil in principle and practice.” When the Bible talks about the “heart,” God’s Word is referring to the emotional center where humans, as created beings, think, experience feelings and make decisions.
Deep within all of us (Romans 3:23) is a sinful nature that desires to break the laws of the God who created us. Deep within all of us is a voice speaking falsehoods against our Creator and urging us to rebel, disrespect or just ignore the God who sustains our lives. To silence that voice and break through the lies we need to hear, accept and believe the Word of God and the finished work of Jesus Christ our Savior.
Which voice is speaking most deeply in your life? The voice of transgression or the voice of Jesus found in God’s Word.
There is a great song entitled â€œJust Give Me Jesus.â€ The message in the song is great as long as we are singing about the Jesus of the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that people are great at making gods in their image. This act of idolatry happens today with Jesus.
Many people believe in a Jesus they have created in their image and not the Jesus of the Bible. We can find an excellent example of modern day idol making in the story of Jesus, and the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11. Everyone loves the Jesus who said, â€œLet him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.â€ (John 8:7 ESV) That part of the story is compelling because Jesus is standing up for a sinful woman, but it is not all Jesus said to this woman about her sin.
Jesus last words to the Samaritan womanÂ were, â€œfrom now on sin no more.â€ The Jesus of the Bible was not ok with this womanâ€™s sexual immorality. He calls this woman out of her lifestyle of sexual sin and calls her to live from now on for Him. Which Jesus are you worshipping today? Do you believe in a Jesus you created in your image because that Jesus fits better into your lifestyle? Do you believe in a Jesus someone else created in their image or do you believe in the Savior Jesus? Christ as He is found in Godâ€™s Holy Word.
An idol jesus created in your image will not save. Paul compliments the church in Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 â€œthey themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God… â€œ We need a true and living Savior. What we believe about Jesus Christ will have eternal consequences. Donâ€™t settle for a phony Jesus who cannot save or help or heal. Turn from idols and serve the living and true God as He is presented in the Bible.
This Bible verse teaches that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven. It teaches that Godâ€™s wrath is against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of people. Godâ€™s wrath comes against the unrighteousness of people because unrighteousness leads to the smothering of truth. When truth is smothered reality can be redefined, and people can justify their sinful inclinations. People love to hear about a God of love but the Biblical God of loving wrath is not winning any popularity contests.
Godâ€™s wrath is defined in the â€œNew Illustrated Bible Dictionary,â€ as â€œthe personal manifestation of Godâ€™s holy, moral character in judgment against sin. Wrath is neither an impersonal process nor irrational and fitful like anger. It is in no way vindictive or malicious. It is holy indignation- Godâ€™s anger directed against sin. Godâ€™s wrath is an expression of His holy love. If God is not a God of wrath, His love is no more than frail, worthless sentimentality; the concept of mercy is meaningless; and the Cross was a cruel and unnecessary experience for His Son.â€ (page 1322)
When people are tempted to justify sinful behavior with the idea of a loving, forgiving God, someone should remind them of the price that Jesus paid for our forgiveness. What does God think about the sin people so easily justify? Look at His Son on the cross, bleeding and beaten beyond human recognition. Listen to the cry of Godâ€™s Son as He suffers Godâ€™s loving wrath against sin and utters, â€œMy Father, My Father why have you forsaken me?â€ The life-transforming, saving God of the Bible is a God of loving wrath and all will benefit from thoughtful and prayerful meditation upon this expression of Godâ€™s Holy love.
Jokingly, people often say, â€œ here comes trouble,â€ when a friend enters the room. That is a classic line that never gets old and always gets a laugh but all joking aside, are we able to see trouble coming? If we can see trouble coming, we can take shelter or other corrective measures to prevent the damage it will bring. Continue reading “Mark 2:13-17 – Here Comes Trouble”