From The Pastor’s Desk

God’s Two Engines

Psalm 23:6

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me ALL the days of my life…
The reality of life is that there will be hard times. There will be some long dark tunnels and some very high mountains. There will be times when the enemy will come along and try to defeat you. He will try to get you to believe that you’re all alone, that nobody cares about your problems. He will even try to convince you that God himself has abandoned you. That if God really cared, then why is He making you bear this burden alone. The enemy will point out every negative thing that has ever happened, every trial, every hurt and every disappointment you’ve ever known. He will try to get you to focus on every hypocrite you’ve ever seen, all simply to get you to quit. But I would like to remind you that the enemy is a liar and a defeated foe! That you can believe and claim the promises of God! That this verse was true yesterday, is true today and will be true tomorrow. Many years ago I heard an illustration from an older preacher who lived in the mountains of North Carolina on this very verse. He was sitting on his front porch watching a single locomotive trying to pull a line of 88 coal cars up over the mountain. As he watched, he wondered whether it would be able to make it. The load was long and heavy, but to his amazement, that engine laboring hard, kept a slow but steady pace. Eventually he saw the end of that long line of coal cars and to his surprise, there at the back was two engines pushing. He said all of a sudden the Holy Spirit brought this verse to his mind…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me…He said he got so blessed he couldn’t contain himself and began to shout! Remember my friends, the mountain may be high, the load long and heavy, but God’s engines of goodness and mercy are pushing from behind! Heavenly Father, help us never to forget that your goodness and mercy follows your children all the days of their life!
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O To Be Like Thee

One of my favorite pictures of my eldest son, is when he was about 3 to 4 years of age, dressed just like me. I’ll never forget that day. I was nearly ready to leave the house and begin harvesting when he came partially dressed and wanted me to assist him in finishing. He knew I was about to leave for the farm and he wanted so bad to be my helper that day. But he insisted he had to be dressed like me, because he was going to be a farmer too. So I endeavored to help him finish, even finding an extra hat just like mine for him to wear. He was so proud to look just like dad, a farmer, and guess what? So was I! My son wanted to look just like me…jeans, shirt, jacket, boots and hat, we matched to a T. As I look at that picture and reflect on that moment, I can’t help but think of that verse in Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers (imitators) of God, as dear children… I wonder if God is proud when he sees us wanting to be just like Him? Do we bring a smile to His face? Do we long to be like our heavenly Father? Do we desire to match him to a T? I share with you the words to that beautiful song…  

O To Be Like Thee

1. Oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,

This is my constant longing and prayer;

Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,

Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Refrain: Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee, Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art; Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

2. Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion,

Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,

Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,

Seeking the wand’ring sinner to find.

3. Oh! to be like Thee, lowly in spirit,

Holy and harmless, patient and brave;

Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,

Willing to suffer, others to save.

4. Oh! to be like Thee, Lord, I am coming,

Now to receive th’ anointing divine;

All that I am and have I am bringing, Lord,

from this moment all shall be Thine.

5. Oh! to be like Thee, while I am pleading,

Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love,

Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,

Fit me for life and Heaven above.

  Is the constant longing and prayer of your heart to be like Jesus? Would you gladly forfeit all of earth’s treasures just to be like Him? Do you display the attire of loving, forgiving, tender and kind, helping the helpless and cheering the fainting? Is the image of the Blessed Redeemers stamped DEEP on your heart? Friend, this year, my desire is to be just like my heavenly Father, to make Him proud of me, to see Him smile at me and say, “That’s my son”. I want to have His image stamped DEEP on my heart.
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Keeping A Proper Focus In An Unfocused World

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. - Colossians 3:2
We live in a world that is constantly promoting a “You’ve just got to have it” mentality. Just look at the advertisements, commercials, slogans and entertainment. Everything is about obtaining, achieving, needing or satisfying your fleshly desires. You need this…you can’t live without that…everyone has one…look how it will improve you…just go for it…if it makes you happy…and on and on it goes. This morning while having my devotions, I read Colossians 3:2 "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." I was immediately reminded of a message from January 4, 2015, “Keeping A Faithful Focus in 2015”. So what did Paul mean when he wrote “set your affections on things above”? Well, I like the way Adam Clarke's Commentary puts it:
Love heavenly things; study them; let your hearts be entirely engrossed by them. Now, that ye are converted to God, act in reference to heavenly things as ye did formerly in reference to those of earth…Be as much, in earnest for heavenly and eternal things, as ye formerly were for those that are earthly and perishing.
As I stated at the beginning, the world is vying for our attention, to allure us away from the things that are holy, pure and morally right. The enemy wants us to focus on earthly things, to allow the things of this life to distract us from what Christ has called us to, holy living. Paul writes for us to “Set our affections on things above…” to achieve this, we must whole heartedly follow Deuteronomy 6:5, "Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and might." When we do this, there is no room, no sight for anything else. I can’t help but think of the chorus…
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.
May we all keep a proper focus by focusing on Jesus!
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For He Commanded, And They Were Created

Have you ever felt slighted when no one showed any gratitude for that tremendous task you just completed? We all like to feel appreciated, that others are thankful for the energy we’ve invested, the time spent and sacrifices made in completing that extra responsibility. Yet how often we fail to recognize the Greatest Giver of all, the Promising Provider, our Heavenly Father. Have you ever wondered how grieved He must feel when we fail to glorify Him? One of my favorite passages of the bible is Psalm 148. The psalmist calls for the Lord to be praised, from heavenly host to helpless humanity, from the highest heaven to the deepest sea, from the vapor to the flame, from the fruited plains to the majestic mountains, from the creeping beast to the soaring bird, from the opulent to the destitute, from the young to the old, ALL are to praise the Lord! Oh that we would praise the Lord for the things He has done! We are so quick to ask and yet, so slow to give praise. My belief is, and has always been, if it’s important enough to ask for, it’s important enough to praise Him. How sad it must make our heavenly Father, to see us so obsessed with our wants, with life and failing to give Him the praise He deserves. The psalmist reminds us in Psalm 148:5 “Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created”…I want to remind us, God is worthy to be praised, for He hath created all things. Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. KJV During this busy holiday season, I want to challenge to us truly…praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven…Praise ye the Lord. KJV
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