Thursday, March 21, 2019

BUILDING HOPE


In Romans 5:3-4, we read: "We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

“I don’t understand, Grandfather. Why do we have to have troubles?”

“There was once an old violin maker. His violins had the sweetest music you ever heard.”

“Did he have a special type of wood?” Grandfather nodded.

“In a way you could say that. His fellow violin makers envied him and begged to know why his violins differed from theirs. He finally shared his secret.

"When selecting wood for his violins, he didn’t go into the protected valleys but combed the rugged mountain to get trees anchored securely due to the fierce storms. The weather-beaten ones held a quality of beauty and tone.”

“And that makes a difference?”

“It does. Take me for example. I don’t learn when the days are filled with sunshine. It’s during the storms that I need hope.

"Like the old violin maker, our Heavenly Father knows the storms of life which He allows, will cause my roots to go deep in Him. When I'm hurting, I turn to Him--like a child who's happy when all is well. But if he falls and cries, his mother lifts him and whispers words of love and comfort.”

“I never thought of it that way.”

“Remember the Lord Jesus is in the process of building our character and hope. Don’t forget. He’s promises to love us and never leave us, no matter how difficult the storm."

“But that’s when I don’t feel He’s there.”

Ah, Timmy. Point of view, son. We look at the swirling clouds and ferocious teeth of the storm, not the One whos using it for our good.”

Kingdom Thinking. Knowing our Lord Jesus is there during the tribulations (storms), allowing me to learn perseverance which produces character which produces Hope. Do you have hope? 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

IDENTIFY THE ENEMY


In Genesis 3:1, we read: “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast in the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’”


“Stop, Timmy. Don’t move.” Grandfather crept up to the pile of pine straw against an old log on the path, inspected the snake coiled there. Red, black, and yellow bands.

You can move, son. It's a Scarlet King snake, not a Coral snake. It’s not poisonous.”

“How can you tell one from the other?” He cast a worried look Grandfather’s way.

“An old poem helps. ‘Red on yellow can kill a fellow, red on black is safe for Jack.”

“Grandfather, what if I can’t remember the poem? I-I froze. I stared at the snake and he stared at me.”

Grandfather chuckled. “One thing for sure. You need to be able to identify the enemy. Three snakes in our area are banded with similar colors--the Scarlet King snake, the Scarlet snake and the Coral snake. Only the Coral snake is poisonous.”

“It. It really scared me.” Timmy hiccupped.

“Good. We need to fear the enemy. His bite is deadly. But, not if you receive anti-venom.” Timmy’s forehead furrowed. “It is made from the venom of the snake. Antibodies develop. If a venomous snake bites us, the anti-venom neutralizes the poison.”

“The venom doesn’t kill us?” Grandfather shook his head.

“Not if we take the anti-venom.” Grandfather tilted his head. “The Lord Jesus took the bite of death for us, Timmy. He chose to have the anti-venom created in His body by dying on the cross so when we come to Him with the bite of death, His blood gives us life.”

Kingdom Thinking. I stand amazed the Lord Jesus took the bite of death for me. So by Him, the anti-venom is available to anyone who receives it. He loves me with an everlasting love. He promises never to leave me nor forsake me. He offers the same to you. Won’t you come and receive Him?


Thursday, March 7, 2019

THE LESSON OF THE BLUEBIRDS

In Psalm 94:17-19, we read: “Unless the Lord had been my help, My soul would soon have settled in silence. If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.”

“Grandfather, come quick.” Timmy hurried into the kitchen, the screen door slamming behind him.

“What’s got you so riled, son?”

“I hear all kinds of noise coming from the bluebird box. Could a snake be attacking them?” As they reached the back porch, they watched as a baby bluebird stuck his head out of the box. 

“Oh my, looks like he’s ready to leave the nest.” Bloop. He spilled out onto the lawn. Another head popped out. Bloop. He sat there for a moment. Bloop. One more fluttered near his brothers. Stunned, they eyed one another, then flutter-hopped in different directions. 

The frantic parents circled as they fussed and twittered--bluebird talk for you’re not ready to leave the nest. The parents flew from fence to the limb of a nearby Dogwood tree, keeping an eye on their babies.

“Are they going to be okay?” Timmy started down the steps. Grandfather touched his shoulder.

“Their parents are watching over then. They’re hiding in the shrubs. Should be safe.”

“I hope so. They’re cute, aren’t they?”

“We’re like those baby birds, Timmy. We jump out of the nest, want to do things on our own but we need help even when we don’t realize it. Our foot slips and the Lord’s mercy holds us up.”

“He’s good to us, huh?”

“Absolutely. We get anxious and fearful but He comforts us. He knows us inside out. We deceive others, even ourselves but not Him. Still He loves us and promises to be with us forever.”

Kingdom Thinking. This same Creator God, the One who spoke and brought it all together, loves me and promises never to leave me nor forsake me. He offers the same to you. He will comfort and delight your soul. Won’t you come?

Thursday, February 28, 2019

BLUEBERRIES

In Colossians 2:6-7, we read: As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

“Come check these out, Timmy.” He came over, lifted the branch of berries. “These will taste mighty good.”

Grandfather smiled. “This is the largest bush. Planted first in enriched soil with the proper light. Just the way they like it.They were happy in the spot...”

“Because we cleaned around them,” Timmy reminded. “Remember how the honeysuckle and weeds tried to take over?”

“All of the plants have berries but we must be diligent. We’re not the only ones that like the berries. Birds, deer and other critters take their share. We need to stake these with the heavy berries, too.” After working together, Grandfather and Timmy took a break. Clean pine straw banked the plants, giving them space.

“Thanks, son. Looks great.” Timmy nodded as he lifted his glass of lemonade.

“You know, Timmy, we have to remember we’re planted with the Lord’s tender loving care. But we don’t stop there. Just as we’ve received Him, we need to walk in Him, become established in His ways. It’s so important to study His word and fellowship with His children.”

“That’s hard, Grandfather. How can I do that?”

“Remember when you were a little fellow, you wanted to walk in my shoes?” Timmy grinned. “I would let you place your feet on my shoes and we would walk around the room. Were you walking? Or was it me?”

“We both walked at the same time,” Timmy said, laughing.

“Actually I walked, son. You enjoyed the ride!” 

Kingdom Thinking. So many times I take credit when it wasn’t me at all. As I am rooted in the Lord Jesus, built up in Him and become established in Him, I am the visible one. I give praise and thanksgiving to Him who loves me with an everlasting love. He promises never to leave nor forsake me. He offers the same to you. Won’t you put your trust in Him?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE

In Matthew 13:45-46, we read: “Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

“Listen to this story, Timmy. Let me know what you think.” He plopped on the couch by Grandfather.

Jacob searched for the perfect pearl for years. Now in this out-of-the way shop, he spotted it. He didn’t want the owner to know its value so he took his time, looking at other items.

The merchant approached him, said. “It’s for sale.” Jacob looked at the merchant.

“Excuse me?” The merchant grinned.

You’ve found the Pearl of Great Price. It’s for sale.”

“How much?” He had to have it. The pearl took his breath away.

“How much are you willing to pay?”

He glanced at the pearl. “Everything.” He reached for his check book. The merchant took out paper and pencil.

“What do you own?”

“I have a house.” The merchant wrote, one house.

“Anything else?"

“Two cars.”

Noted.  “A wife? Children?” The man nodded, held up three fingers.

“One wife. Three Children,” the merchant listed. “Bank accounts? Saving accounts?” All assets, even the family pets were added to the list.

“Here’s the deal. The pearl is yours but everything you owned is mine. You will be my steward, responsible for all my property.” He looked at him. “Understand?” At his nod, he continued. “Handle my possessions with great care.”

“Don’t understand, Grandfather.” Timmy tilted is head.

“The merchant represents the Lord. He has entrusted us with riches untold. Family, friends, abilities--all to show His Graciousness towards us and others. Everything we have is His.”

Kingdom Thinking. As we journey through this life, we reach out to others in the Name of Jesus. This message of love and forgiveness of sin will be foolishness for many but to the ones who believe, it is the power of God. And how about you? Do you believe? The Lord Jesus is waiting. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

GOD’S HEART-- THE TRUE VALENTINE

In John 14:20, we read: “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

“Why are you giving me this, Grandfather?” Timmy held the heart shaped box in his hand.

“Not just a box, son. Let me show you.” He accepted the box.

“You hold it like it's something special. Looks like a plain old box to me.” Grandfather looked up, a smile on his face.

“Remember the verse we studied last night?” Timmy nodded. “I hope this will make it come alive for you.

“This box represents God the Father. He asked us to call Him Father. Amazing. Not many people realize that.”

“Like the prayer Jesus taught His disciples?” Grandfather nodded.

“That’s not all.” Nestled inside was a smaller box. God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ was written on the top. “Not only has the Father revealed Himself to us, but also the Lord Jesus.

“Hold on.” He opened the Jesus box to reveal a smaller box with me written on it. "Now I’m hidden in the Lord Jesus who is hidden in the Father.

“Wait. Not finished.” Nestled in the me box, is the Holy Spirit.” Head tilted, Timmy reached for the box, nesting each box, leaving the large heart.

“Do many people know about this?”

“Not enough. We’re given the privilege of sharing God’s Heart with them. When I realized I'm hidden in the Father, in Christ and the Holy Spirit dwells in me, I know nothing can come into my life without permission of the Father and the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who lives in me, will deal with it.”

Kingdom Thinking. When this verse became real to me, I realized my position in Christ. I’m loved with an everlasting love and He will never leave nor forsake me. He loves you and wants you to be secure in Him. Won’t you come?








Thursday, February 7, 2019

THE WONDER OF IT ALL

In 1 John 5:3 we read: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments And His commandments are not burdensome.”

“I don’t feel like it.” Grandfather walked over to Timmy, felt his forehead.

“Don’t have a fever. How about pain?” He mumbled, stretched out on the sofa. Grandfather covered him with a blanket. “You rest.”

A few minutes later Grandfather came into the den with his coat. “You’ll be okay while I’m gone?”

“Where’re you going?”

“I have some errands. Thought I’d run over to Charleston...”

“You’re going to Charleston? I’ll grab my jacket.” Grandfather’s eyebrow arched.

“I wouldn’t want you go in your condition.” Timmy dipped his head.

“Sorry, Grandfather, guess I was feeling sorry for myself.”

Grandfather draped his coat on the back of a chair. “Want to talk about it?”

“I’m tired of everyone telling me what to do at school, at home....” Grandfather smiled.

“I know you think that now but later you’ll realize you being sculpted into a fine young man.” Timmy scowled.

“Remember when you used to play with clay? You’d work on something until you had it just right. Then you’d bring it to me to admire. I still have the little dog you made that resembled my Jack. I treasure it.”

“You kept it?” Timmy’s face, wreathed in a smile, watched Grandfather nod, his eyes twinkling.

“That’s what we do when we love someone. We keep the things they made us and protect them. Sort of like the commandments of the Lord.

“When I think of how He loves me, I’m amazed. He gave His commandments for my good, never to burden me down.”

“He sculpturing me? He loves me that much?” Timmy shook his head. "That’s hard to understand.” Grandfather hugged Timmy.

Kingdom Thinking. The love of God is difficult to understand. I know He loves me and will never leave me, but at times I feel unloved, alone. Then I force myself to remember the things he’s sculpted for me. The wonder that He loves me. He loves you, too. You don’t have to understand, just accept His love. It will not be a burden.



Thursday, January 31, 2019

EVERLASTING JOY

In Isaiah 51:11, we read: “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.”

“Have a surprise for you, Timmy. I’ve made reservations for us at the new restaurant.”

“All right.” He gave Grandfather a high five.

Upon arrival, the maĆ®tre d’ escorted them to a choice table. The server suggested some of the favorites on the menu. Orders given, they sat back to enjoy their iced tea. The server returned, chatted with them amiably as he arranged their food. He stood silently while Grandfather blessed the food.

“Why do you do that?” The server said, frowning.

“I believed the Bible to be true…” But before Grandfather could finish, he interrupted. 

“I can read, and it makes no difference to me what that book says.” He cocked his head. “Why do you believe all that stuff?”

 “The Lord Jesus changed my life when he set me free,” Grandfather answered softly.

“I can’t argue with that,” he said and left them to finish their meal.

“Why was he so mad, Grandfather? He didn’t know you.”

“The Lord gave me the opportunity to share what the Lord Jesus has done in my life. It’s up to the young man to listen. But we can pray for the Lord Jesus to redeem him so he can obtain gladness and joy.

“On the life journey, we, the redeemed, are returning. With singing and everlasting joy. Many that we encounter will be offended. That’s all right. It’s not our job to save anyone...only to share the love of the Lord Jesus.”

“Never thought about it like that,” Timmy said. 

Kingdom Thinking. Everlasting joy shall be upon our heads. Because of redemption. Because the Lord Jesus has paid the price. Sorrow and mourning shall flee away as we follow Him. Won’t you join the redeemed? The Lord Jesus waits for you.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A DAILY CORE EXERCISE

In Matthew 11:28-30, we read: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”


“How was practice?”

Timmy dropped his catcher’s mitt on the table. “Coach said we need to toughen up. Now we have to do exercises every day.”

“Sounds like a wise thing.”

Timmy plopped down at the table. “Maybe to you but every muscle in me is yelling to stop.” Grandfather chuckled.

“Consistent exercise will get you in shape. The soreness will go away as you strengthen your core muscles which will prevent injury. Keep at it son. Don’t give up.”

As Timmy stood up, Grandfather said. “Don’t forget to strengthen your spiritual muscles.” He sat  down. “You have core spiritual muscles. The Lord Jesus knows we need to exercise them but we don’t unless we get sore and tired from life problems.

“When we turn to Him, we exercise our faith in Him. He wants us to learn about Him and how light our burden can be. But there’s a catch.”

“I knew it. There’s always a catch.” Grandfather smiled.

“Remember how Mr. Howard gentled his horse?”

“Yes sir. He talked soft, was patient and kind. I remember he put the saddle on real easy."

“That’s how our Lord is with us. When we come to Him, He’s gentle and forgiving. We must allow Him to put His yoke on us. He teaches us through His gentle and kind heart how to live and walk and love with His perfect posture. By the way His yoke fits so we don’t have blisters or sores.”

“Made to order, huh?” Grandfather nodded.

Kingdom Thinking. My core spiritual muscles need constant exercise. The Lord Jesus promises never to leave me and He loves me. He asks me to come to Him and learn His ways for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He promises the same to you. Won’t you come?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

In John 10:14-15, we read: “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

“Sheep come in all sizes and some are tough.”

“What do you mean, Grandfather? Little lambs are cute and soft."

“Lambs grow up, Timmy. Some of them become pretty mean.” Grandfather chuckled. “Like the encounter my sister had with old Bessie.” Timmy leaned back, ready to hear the story.

“Janie crept across the back porch, tip-toed down the steps and made her way to the lot. This was her morning to feed the chickens and collect the eggs. She hoped old Bessie wouldn’t hear her. 

"So far, so good. As she bent over to go in the henhouse, she heard the sounds of hoofs behind her.  Before she could get out of the way, the head of old Bessie had made contact. “WHAM.” She lay sprawled on the ground, fuming.

"Bessie stood triumphantly. She won again.” Timmy giggled.

“She was plenty mad, huh?” 

“You better believe it. When you think about it, the flock is made of every kind and shape of sheep. Yes, soft and nice ones but also tough ones, old crippled ones, and just downright mean ones. But sheep nevertheless.

The flock of our Lord Jesus is much the same. Every type of personality. I  had a problem with this when I first came to know our Lord. I thought all of His believers would be the same, of like mind.

Not true. Living in the flock of our Lord Jesus, He teaches us through the lives and efforts of each other. No need for all to be the same. Sometimes we’re not nice or fun to be around. But we are His flock.

Kingdom Thinking. The one thing that the flock has in common--being a sheep. Once we are brought into the fold, we belong to the Lord Jesus and He is the Good Shepherd. He is the one who loves us with an everlasting love. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. Won’t you come to Him. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

SOLD. BOUGHT. FREE.

In Genesis 37:28, we read: “Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took him to Egypt.”


“Wait, Grandfather. They sold their brother?” Grandfather lowered his Bible. “How could they?”

“The brothers thought if they could get rid of Joseph, their lives would be so much better. They looked on Joseph as their father’s favorite.”

“Were they right?”

“The Bible tells us, Jacob, their father, did favor Joseph.”

Timmy was quiet for a minute. “Why would God let that happen? Couldn’t He make them love their brother?”

“He could have. Timmy, the Bible shows us the good and the bad. We look at the story from down here on earth. God sees it all from above and His plan is for His glory and our good.”

“What good could come from selling your brother?”

“For one thing, the Lord taught Joseph to trust Him. It’s easy to trust God when everything’s going great but when things go bad, we tend to blame God. Then, too, the Lord was in the process of moving Jacob and his family to Egypt.”

“I don’t understand.”

“A famine was coming that lasted for seven years and God was in the process of showing how He could take care of His people in the midst of famine. He had Joseph on site as prime minister to arrange for the storage of grain so no one would starve.

“When the famine came, his brothers heard food was available in Egypt so away they went. They didn’t recognize Joseph. He looked like an Egyptian but Joseph recognized them.”

“Did he give them food?”

“He did. He also found out about his father and arranged for all of the family to move to Egypt.”

“Seems like a hard way to learn to trust God,” Timmy mumbled. Grandfather chuckled.

“Indeed it does, son. Indeed it does. But the Lord knows exactly what we need to bring us to Him.”

Kingdom Thinking. In desperate times, I’m like Timmy. I don’t understand. The Lord Jesus promises to love me and never forsake me. He’s with me no matter what’s going on in my life...even when I don’t recognize Him. He was sold for thirty pieces of silver so He could pay the price and set me free. Would you like to be set free? Come to Him.





Thursday, January 3, 2019

YOUR CHOICE

In Joshua 24:15, we read: “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the god of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

“Grandfather, we had the best lesson ever. Our Sunday School teacher taught us about choice.”

Grandfather lowered his paper. “Tell me about it.

“Miss Minna had three cups on a silver tray. A white china cup and saucer decorated with gold, a white mug decorated with blue flowers and a battered tin cup. She held each one up for us to see the outside. Then she poured clean water from a crystal pitcher into each cup.

“Now. I want each of you to choose your cup,” she said.

“The china cup and saucer decorated in gold was first choice. Second, the mug with blue flowers. Last choice, the battered tin cup.

“Look what you chose,” she said, as she held the cup and saucer trimmed in gold for the children to see inside. The outside was beautiful but inside? Mud covered the bottom. Next she held the blue-flowered mug for them to see. Coffee grounds tainted the water. Last she held the battered tin cup, filled with sparkling clean water. The last choice became first.”

“Grandfather’s paper slipped to the floor, elbows on his knees, he said. “So. What did you learn?”

Timmy thought for a minute. “I guess everything’s a choice. When I don’t choose something, I’ve made a choice. Miss Minna said nothing was wrong with the cups. The stuff on the inside made it clean or dirty."

“You’re right. It depends on what we put inside that makes us who we are. But because I choose right things doesn’t make me clean. When I realized the Lord Jesus knew all the stuff in my cup and loved me in spite of it, I chose to give my cup to Him. He cleans my cup and fills me with clean living water. I don’t deserve it but He does it because He loves me.”

“He love me like that, too?” Grandfather nodded and pulled his grandson into a bear hug.

Kingdom Thinking. In this journey of life, choices confront us constantly. But the most important choice for now and eternity is to choose the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is worthy and able to cleanse us from our sins. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He loves you. Won’t you come to Him?