Steve Kember takes his mission to the street. He wants to help people in Prince Albert transform their lives by following God’s path.
Don’t Be Like A Dog…
In our house everything we have belongs to my wife and me…like a bit of furniture, beds, dishes and whatever. I say ‘everything’, except for one thing. I always say the dog that lives here belongs to my wife.
My wife’s name is Merle.
I sure don’t know why anybody would have a dog – especially in the house.
Like, really, dogs are filthy. We take Mitz out for a walk almost every day and it is truly downright disgusting. She wants to stop at every post and hydrant and stick her nose in and smell. And it seems the more vile it is, the better she likes it!
I do wonder about Queen Elizabeth – you know who I mean…the Queen of England. I have seen pictures of her dogs. I think they’re called corgis. I wonder if corgis are different and more refined. Maybe they walk along with their snouts high in the air, as English snobbery is prone to doing. Maybe a corgi would never condescend to smelling evil filth around a fire hydrant. One thing is sure, if they do, I can’t imagine our gracious Queen sitting with a stinking corgi in her lap! That would be just too much.
But the Bible is so down to earth and up to date. Obviously, evolutionists can’t claim that dogs have evolved much over past centuries. Peter, the apostle, writes about what he saw dogs doing some 2000 years ago. You can read what he said about them in the Bible in 2Peter chapter 2 and verse 22.
It’s even a bit gross! He said, “The dog returns to its own vomit…”
It might be gross, but nothing has changed!
Our dog does the same.
She sniffs around some foul obscenity, licks it and then if we don’t yank her away, she eats the stinking stuff. All seems well for a while, then we see her heaving and retching and first thing you know, she pukes up some horrid corruption and slowly walks away and lays down to calm her churning belly.
But, as the Bible says, “The dog returns to its own vomit”.
She ‘forgets what she should remember and remembers what she should forget’.
After she feels a bit better, she remembers where she left the festering heap, and forgets it was the stuff that made her sick. She takes a fresh whiff of the putrid barf and slowly licks it all up again. Then she gets sick all over again.
Is it possible we are a bit like dogs?
We do seem to have quite a bad habit of ‘Forgetting the things we should remember and remembering the things we should forget’.
Is that why we had Remembrance Day? Or Veterans Day as it is called in United States?
Movies have a way of deceiving us and making us think war is glamorous.
War is not glamorous! War is horror. Terror. The Second World War left 60 million people dead in its wake.
If we forget the past we will repeat it in the future.
Wisdom for today comes from what we learned in the past.
And we are very good at forgetting the things we should remember.
And remembering the things we should forget.
It is true in our daily lives as well.
May God help us not to be like a dog that returns to its own vomit.
Antidote for Sadness…Luke 24:13-35
I was at a coffee shop today. As the young lady poured the coffee, I asked, “How ya doing?” She paused. Her eyes looked sad. “Oh. OK, I guess”. She was busy and only had a moment, but I tried to tell her about a God who cares. She said her Mom tells her to pray to her guardian angel. I asked her if she would accept a DVD and she happily took the ‘God of Wonders’ and the ‘Good Test’.
Sadness. Discouragement. Depression.
Is there any relief?
In the painting, ‘Road to Emmaus’, two individuals walk along a dusty road. The painting shows an empty road. But the road wasn’t empty. After all, the Passover had just ended. People were leaving Jerusalem. Going home. In fact, the road would have been crowded. Horses, wagons, carts, donkeys and lots of people.
But two stand out. Cleopas is the name of one. The other is likely his wife, although the Bible doesn’t say. They’re sad. They talk about the past days and especially the events of that very morning. Some of their women had gone early to the tomb and come back with a most preposterous story! They claimed the stone was rolled away! They said the tomb was empty! They also said two angels in shining garments had appeared and asked, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here! Don’t you remember what He said while He was with you; ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and rise again the third day?’”
The couple have serious doubts about what the women have said. Just hear Cleopas as he talks. “It could not have been real angels. At the very most it had to be a vision. Mind you, whoever these beings were, they did remind them of what Jesus said one time: how He must be crucified and buried and that He would rise the third day. We had forgotten, but do now remember He said that. But it can`t be. Women are so emotional”
They didn’t notice a Stranger walking beside them. After a bit He asked, “What are you talking about? And why do you look so sad?”
They stop, just astounded that anyone around there did not know what had happened! “Are you a stranger in these parts and don’t know what has taken place,” they ask?
“What things,” He questioned.
“About Jesus of Nazareth! He was a Prophet who did wonderful miracles. He was a mighty teacher before God and all the people. But the chief priests and other religious leaders condemned Him to death and they crucified Him. We had great hopes that He would redeem Israel. But beside all this, today is the third day since this all happened. And early this morning some women of our group, who followed Jesus, astonished us. They went to His tomb and came back with an amazing report! They said His body was missing and that they had seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. Some men from our group also ran out to see and found it just as the women said! But Him they did not see.”
“O foolish ones and slow of hearts to believe all that the Prophets wrote in the Scriptures,” the Stranger said. “Isn’t it clearly spoken by the Prophets that Christ must suffer all these things before entering His time of glory?” Then Jesus spoke of many things from the Prophets concerning Himself.
If you look up that word ‘concerning’ under ‘origin of words’, you will find it fascinating. The letters ‘con’ mean with. The last part, ‘cerning’, means sifting. So that day on the Emmaus road, Jesus went through the Old Testament writings of Moses and the Prophets and sifted out truth about Himself. It was these thoughts and word pictures that brought such joy to these two weary souls and melted away their sadness.
Have you ever been with someone who talks only about themselves for an hour? It’s painful. You get so sick of them. But this Man talked about Himself for an hour and a half, and later they said, “Remember how our hearts burned within us as He talked with us along the way.”
When you are sad and talk you walk slow. Emmaus is 7 miles from Jerusalem, so it had to be at least a 2 hour walk. They had already journeyed some distance when the Stranger joined them, so it was likely an hour and a half or so that they walked together with the Stranger. And they were overjoyed learning about Jesus, even though they did not know who it was that was talking with them.
So, are you sad? Cast down? Do you and I want to be happy? We will find it in the Bible, learning about our Lord Jesus Christ.
He is the antidote for sadness.
If we read the rest of the story, we find they are so overjoyed, they hurried all the way back to Jerusalem to let the others know that the risen Christ had appeared to them, and tell some of the things that Jesus had sifted out of the Old Testament about Himself.
The Lord Jesus Made Everything…
The Amplified Bible puts it, “All things were made and came into existence through Him; without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being,” John 1:3.
I am not really that much into poetry, but the other night a man gave me a poem I enjoyed> It made me think of Romans 11:33, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements, and His ways past finding out!”
The maker of the universe
As Man, for man was made a curse.
The claims of law which He had made,
Unto the uttermost He paid.
His holy fingers made the bow
Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow.
The nails that pierced His hands were mixed
In secret places He designed.
He made the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung,
He died upon the cross of wood,
Yet made the hill on which it stood.
The sky that darkened o’er His head
By Him above the earth was spread.
The sun that hid from Him its face
By His decree was poised in space.
The spear which spilled His precious blood
Was tempered in the fires of God.
The grave in which His form was laid,
Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.
The throne on which He now appears
Was His from everlasting years.
But a new glory crowns His brow,
And every knee to Him shall bow
To the artist; He is the Altogether Lovely One
To the architect; He is the Chief Corner Stone
To the baker; He is the Living Bread
To the banker; He is the Hidden Treasure
To the biologist; He is the Life Abundant
To the builder; He is the Sure Foundation
To the doctor; He is the Great Physician
To the educator; He is the Great Teacher
To the farmer; He is the Lord of the Harvest
To the florist; He is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley
To the geologist; He is the Rock of Ages
To the jurist; He is the Righteous Judge
To the jeweller; He is the Pearl of Great Price
To the lawyer; He is the Counsellor, Lawgiver and Advocate
To the horticulturist; He is the True Vine
To the newsman; He is the Good Tidings of Great Joy
To the eye surgeon; He is the Light of the World
To the philanthropist; He is the Unspeakable Gift
To the philosopher; He is the Wisdom of God
To the preacher; He is the Word of God
To the sculptor; He is the Living Stone
To the servant; He is the Good Master
To the statesman; He is the Desire of all Nations
To the student; He is the Incarnate Truth
To the theologian; He is the Author and Finisher of our Faith
To the traveller; He is the New and Living Way
To the toiler; He is the Giver of Rest
To the sinner; He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world
To us as believers; He is the Son of the Living God, our Saviour, Redeemer of the world
From a Prison to a Palace…
Most of us will never get to visit the White House, much less get to live there. But for many months a murderer lived there. Mary Fitzpatrick. It was no secret. What she had done was known to the police, the FBI, the journalists and President Jimmy Carter and his wife.
She spent time in a Georgia prison, but on her parole was hired as their daughter Amy’s nanny when Mr. Carter was governor of Georgia. When he became President, she continued her duties in the White House.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick says she will be forever grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Carter for all they did for her. They showed her much love and kindness during the many years she was with them.
I guess we could say, they brought her from a prison to a palace!
Everyone who has trusted Christ as Saviour has a little understanding of how she must feel. Every redeemed soul is eternally grateful to our God, “…who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:4-7.
God has truly brought us from a prison to a palace!
Why? Were we better than Mary Fitzpatrick? No!
Before any one of us were saved we “…walked following to the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience…in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of our body and the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, like the rest of mankind,” Eph 2:2-3.
I think Hannah, the mother of Samuel, described it perfectly – and graphically! She said, “The Lord raises up the poor out of the dust and lifts the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among prices to inherit the throne of glory,” 1Samuel 2:7-8.
It sure is no wonder she proclaimed, “…I rejoice in my salvation,” verse 1.
He Cares For You…
Outside our kitchen window is a bird house. It looks like a church. Steeple and all. Each spring, before the snow has gone, sparrows take up residence. They busily flit about, straw in beaks, happily making a home. All is well – that is, until the snow goes and tree swallows suddenly arrive from some southern clime. Lots of them. One pair immediately park themselves on the little church. Poor sparrows. It’s their house. They’ve been there for three weeks. And isn’t possession nine tenths of the law?
But swallows are lawless. And heartless. They squawk, fight and argue for two or three days, and every year the outcome is the same. Sparrows leave. Swallows take up habitation.
I don’t know where the sparrows go.
But God knows.
And God cares.
Jesus saw sparrows being sold at market and said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows,” Mark 12:6-7.
Five sparrows? Two pennies?
At that price it’s quite obvious swallows are not the only one of God’s creation that put little value on sparrows!
Do you ever feel like a sparrow?
Cheap. Booted. Abused. Hammered. Outcast. Nobody seems to care.
And where is God anyway? Asleep? David thought so in Psalm 44:23.
The disciples of Jesus were being pounded by waves and wind in a bit of a boat one day. And Jesus was in the back – asleep! How could He be asleep when they were in such trouble?
They shouted, “Master! Don’t you care? We are perishing!”
“Jesus arose”, Mark 4:39. (I like those words). “He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ’Peace! Be still!’” And the wind stopped and there was a great calm.
God tells us to “Call upon Me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me,” Psalm 50:5
“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles,” Psalm 34:6.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” Psalm 46:1.
Not one sparrow is forgotten by God. And you and I are of more value than many sparrows.
“He cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7.
Some things in the Bible would make you laugh if they weren’t so pathetic. Like the time our Lord went for a walk with the devil.
Jesus walked with many individuals: rich, poor, old and young, religious and irreligious. But I think we only once see Him walking with the devil. It wasn’t for the pleasure of the walk. The devil was about to try and make a deal with Jesus. He was going to offer his very best, his kingdom, if Jesus would just worship him, (Luke 4:5-8).
You would think the devil would be ashamed to make such an offer. Our Lord Jesus already had a kingdom. In fact, the devil knows a lot more than we do about that Kingdom. After all, he once had a throne and authority in it, (Isaiah 14:12-14). God’s Kingdom is so vast that throughout eternity, His redeemed people will never explore to the end of it – because there is no end, (Luke 1:33). There will never come a time when God will have to tell us that He has no more to show us! His kingdom is infinite.
At the top of the mountain, the devil showed Jesus his very best. His kingdom. The world. All laid out at their feet. How long did it take to see it? One moment! Yes, that’s right. Just one moment, (Luke 4:5). And to think that it is going to take God the entire ages of eternity to show us His immeasurable riches! (Ephesians 2:7).
It’s no wonder that Jesus said, “Get behind Me, satan…”
Is it also any wonder that Jesus, who knows all about the devils pittiful kingdom, also said, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and loose his own soul?” Mark 8:36.
When I was little I thought that some of the things Jesus said were a bit strange. I used to think about one thing in particular. It was when He talked to people about praying. He told them, “When you pray, go into your closet and shut the door and pray to your Father…” Matthew 6:6.
I wasn’t too big and closets struck me as being a bit spooky. Especially mine – the one I shared with my brother. Clothes on and off hangers. Shoes. Boxes of stuff. Games and toys. Dirty socks. Dirty underwear. Dust and cobwebs.
It had no light and I wasn’t about to go in there and pray – let alone shutting the door. With all the junk it wouldn’t shut anyway.
After a while I thought I had got it figured out. Jesus must really mean a closet especially set aide for that purpose, with all the stuff taken out and a light put in.
Then I changed my mind again. I figured our Lord must mean the closet is anywhere. The barn. A field. The bush. The tree house. In school, especially during a test you hadn`t studied for! Or lying on the grass in the backyard, watching clouds move across the sky. Just me and God.
And maybe that is right.
But then I learned something about this closet that just amazed and encouraged me.
It isn`t a closet at all. It`s a storehouse!
The same greek word the translators of the King James Version translated ‘closet’ in Matthew 6:6, they translated ‘storehouse’ in Luke. He tells us in 12:24, that when Jesus was speaking about birds He said, “Consider the ravens. They don’t sow or reap, they don’t have a ‘storehouse’ (same word as closet) or a barn, and yet God feeds them.”
And what an amazing storehouse. And best of all, God is the Storekeeper! And God is a most marvellous Giver. His storehouse is filled with countless blessings, both spiritual and physical. “And this is the confidence we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us: and…we have the requests thar we asked of Him.” 1John 5:14-15.
I think James tells us what one of our big probles is; “We have not because we ask not. So “When you pray, enter into your ‘storehouse’, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father…”
I think we’ve all been ripped off by shrewd peddlars, maybe more often than we care to admit. Their shiny carts are loaded with a wide variety of oddments in authentic looking bottles, bags and boxes – from fuel savers to wrinkle remover to hair restorer (I’ve been sorely tempted on this one) to ‘goodknowswhat’! They seem so believable. But the maddening thing is, when we find we’ve been had, our smooth friend has long gone. Even the least effective can usually deceive a few of us.
But there’s another swindler. He’s smooth and he’s smart. He doesn’t just deceive a few. He works on a wide scale. In fact, the Bible tells us that he has deceived the whole world. (Rev 12:9)
God calls him the devil. Jesus called him a liar (John 8:44). And for the past 6000 years he has been unloading a lie on an unsuspecting world. It has been swallowed hook, line and sinker.
And the lie just seems so reasonable and believable – that nobody can know for sure, in this life, where they will be in the next one!
Many eminent theologians gravely nod their balding heads, giving assent to this professed truth. Well meaning people have been told ‘you just can’t know’. Almost anybody will affirm that it is impossible to know. Grandpa and Grandma pass it on.
But it is just not true!
It a lie!
Listen to what God says: I write these things to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.