True Beauty Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles

There is nothing as beautiful as a baby.  Man or woman, young or old, all are apprehended by the innocence and beauty of a baby.  Their skin is so soft and pure.  Their eyes are filled with wonder.  Their laughter is full of complete joy.  Their love is unconditional and their “cooing” so sincere.  They give us such a hope for the future and a warmth in our hearts.  They are full of faith.  They sparkle with light and when asleep, they exude the peace of God.

I have often wondered what it is exactly, that captures our heart so powerfully when we cradle a baby in our arms and look deeply into their eyes.  For a brief moment, I believe we experience a glimpse into the depths of their soul.  Sinless as yet, we see in them the beauty of purity, holiness, and complete innocence which came directly from God as He formed their inward parts in secret.  Their sin nature is still inactive, unmolested and untouched by the world.  They have just left the presence of the Lord and have not yet been educated about good and evil.

“For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I will confess and praise You for you are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth!  Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well.  My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret [and] intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery].  Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.  How precious and weighty also are your thoughts to me, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!”  Psalm 139:13-17.

The beauty of nature has a similar effect on people.  Over four and one-half million people visit the Grand Canyon each year.  Almost ten million visit the Great Smokey Mountains National Park while Yosemite National Park has just over four and one-half million and Yellowstone Park has just under that amount.  Nearly eight million annually visit Hawaii and two million Alaska.  The visitors are all seeking to gaze upon the beauty of Creation.  Awe and wonder capture their hearts as they bask in the grandeur of God’s imagination.  The great attraction of these natural wonders is the fact that they are virtually untouched except for the roads, walkways and lodging which are necessary for travelers’ to have access to experience them.  Like a newborn baby, they are pure and pristine, untouched by the world around them.

My husband and I visited Alaska with friends three years ago.  One of our excursions was a bus ride into the mountains which surrounded Denali, (Mt. McKinley).  Those desiring to camp there are trained to live inside the natural setting without destroying its flora and fauna nor disturbing any of the natural cycles which are necessary for the area to remain healthy.  The rangers there call it “leaving no footprints.”  They are taught how to cohabitate temporarily with moose, grisly, caribou, wolf and other animals without injuring themselves or the animals.  The protection of nature’s “innocence” is imperative for those who desire to come and partake of its beauty in future years.

The search for true beauty is innate within the heart of man.  We were endowed with an inexpressible ability to enjoy true beauty and seek to find it.  When we stand before it, words are inadequate to express the awe and wonder of it.  We become small and insignificant as we behold something we did not create nor imagine ourselves.  Rather, it was created and placed there purely for us to enjoy.  There is a certain holiness in something pure that God has created because He is Holy.

Standing on the precipice of the Grand Canyon there is not only a sense of awe but also a sense of fear.  The beauty of the canyon compels one to come closer but the height and breadth of the canyon creates a sense of fear and caution not to step too close to the edge causing one to fall off into sudden death.

David had a similar experience as he pursued God.  The Spirit of God drew David closer to Him and he was overwhelmed when he glimpsed the “Beauty of Holiness” found in God.  “Oh worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; tremble before and reverently fear Him, all the earth.”  Psalm 96:9.  Psalm 96:6 says, “Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.”

David saw something in the beauty of God’s holiness that has no comparison on earth.  Holiness has a purity in itself that man cannot fully fathom.  It is transparent like a clear, cool lake except there is no bottom to it.  It is like a white diamond which has no impurities or flaws in it.  It is like a blue-white flame that has burned so hot there are no cinders or ashes remaining.  One who gazes on the beauty of holiness can find no flaws or limitations in it.

1 Chronicles 16:29-30 celebrates, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name.  Bring an offering and come before Him; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and in holy array.  Tremble and reverently fear before Him, all the earth’s peoples; the world also shall be established, so it cannot be moved.”  The holiness of God is not only beautiful, it is unshakeable and cannot be moved.  His nature cannot be corrupted, polluted or changed.  All His decisions and judgments are pure and holy, without prejudice or self-seeking.  His holiness is completely trustworthy because it is impossible to be swayed or tempted toward malice.  It is pure and unadulterated.  Man has an inward longing for it but all we see with our natural eyes is that which has been perverted.   “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.”  Psalm 50:2.

The fear of heights or falling has kept many from partaking the beauty seen by standing upon the mountain top.  One can see vistas which span for a distance of 50 miles or more.  They have a view which is invisible from the safety in the valley below.  The fear of the Lord reminds us that God is holy and we must examine our hearts and motives before we continue our pursuit to know Him and dwell in His presence.  The Righteousness Christ has provided for us is a covering which protects us.  It enables us to come closer to the Holiness of God.  We become humbled as we enter the presence of the Lord because we insignificant compared to Him.

When we are in the presence of God, we are also experiencing His Holiness.  His Holiness is what transforms us into His image.  It gives us spiritual eyesight so that we can know and understand God’s true purpose and nature.  It removes the flaws in our perception of God and His ways and reveals our true nature than has not yet been transformed.  The closer we ascend to the Beauty of Holiness, the greater the fear of the Lord we experience.  The purpose of that fear is not to discourage us from continuing.  It is to remind us of our flesh and sin nature which is not perfected as yet, and must be put in check when in the presence of Holiness.  David would have made a blood sacrifice before entering the presence of the Lord but today, we have the covering of the blood of Jesus which washes away our sin.  Cleansing our hearts and minds purifies us as we approach the Lord’s presence.  Thanksgiving and praise well up in our hearts when our minds become focused upon the Lord, and we can enter into His Holy of Holies to behold His Beauty.

“Who shall go up into the mountain of the Lord?  Or who shall stand in His Holy Place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted himself up to falsehood or to what is false nor sworn deceitfully.  He shall receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”  Psalm 24:3-5.

“The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning.”  (See also John 7:17).  John 15:15 explains, “I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out).  But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father.  [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him].”

We were created for companionship with the Lord.  We were saved so that we could commune with Him on earth.  The Lord’s prayer which Jesus gave us, calls us to pray and expect… “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  (Emphasis mine.)  We will never understand the Beauty of God’s Holiness unless we partake of it.  We will never truly understand the workings of God’s Kingdom unless we enter in to His presence so that He can show us His ways, His purposes and His timing as heaven invades earth.  It is imperative for us to be in step with His timing, His leading and His plans.  That wisdom only comes from spending time in the Beauty of His Holiness.

The invitation of the Lord has gone forth, “Come”.  When we draw nigh unto God He will draw nigh unto us.  “The Lord appeared from of old to me [Israel], saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.”  Jeremiah 31:3.  True beauty can only be found in the Beauty of His Holiness and He is calling us to enter in.

Giving Thanks by Larry W Peebles

Giving Thanks   by   Larry W. Peebles   December 2, 2016   16.46

 

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Our whole family was together this Thanksgiving, and we had a wonderful time.  Our children and their spouses are doing well, and the grandchildren are growing up fast.  Everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy the others’ company, and of course, there was plenty of food and laughter.  When the grandchildren were younger taking family pictures was trying, but even that went well.  This year the grandchildren were more patient in keeping hair and clothes straight, and cooperative in smiling for the camera.  Though older we are all in reasonably good health.  We have so much for which to be thankful.  The more I thought about the Thanksgiving Holiday, the more I wondered about being able to be more thankful year-round.

Taking it a step further, I wondered how it would be possible to not only be thankful every day, but on all occasions, good or bad.  I Thessalonians 5: 16-18 says- “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  How can I do this?  It is good to be thankful one holiday a year, but better to be thankful year-round.  What is the key to unlock this potential?

The answer came as I spent time with the Lord, and meditated on His Word.  Colossians 2:7 says we are to be “rooted and built up in Him [Jesus], and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”  Faith therefore is the key to our being able to express thanksgiving.  This verse indicates three clear steps.  Our faith must first be rooted, then built up, and finally established in order for us to function from a platform that is continually thankful.  Let me illustrate with the following example.

My father-in-law Roy was a very outgoing and likable man with a green thumb.  He could grow anything.  He farmed peanuts for a while, but even after leaving the farm to work elsewhere, he never lost his love for growing things.  He kept a very productive vegetable garden, and was more than generous in giving away the excess produce beyond what his own family needed to eat.  He had pepper bushes, peach trees, pecan trees, and many different vegetables that kept the family, friends and neighbors supplied.

He helped me plant trees at the first three homes my wife and I owned, as all three homes were built on bare lots.  I will never forget the day we planted trees at the first home.  We got up early and rented a flat-bed trailer, then drove to a two-acre property Roy owned that had never been cleared.  Roy picked out four young oak trees in the 8-10 ft. high range.  For each tree we dug as large a root ball as we could bag up and carry.  We watered the bag and root ball to protect the roots from drying, then loaded and secured the trees on the trailer for the two-hour drive to my house.

Fortunately, I had already dug four holes on my property before leaving to visit Roy that weekend, so we were ready to plant upon arrival.  Root stimulator, a mild liquid fertilizer especially formulated to help root growth, was mixed with water and poured on the root ball of each tree and into the hole before planting the tree.  The loose soil was carefully and lovingly worked around each root ball until the hole was full.  Each tree was watered- in to be sure there were no voids or air pockets in the hole where the roots might be exposed to dry or freeze.  Each tree was then staked into position with ropes to prevent the wind from blowing the tree over and loosening the roots.  If those trees were going to survive, every attention had to be given to protecting the roots, including stimulating them to grow, and keeping them firmly in place in the new soil.  It is no different concerning faith in the new believer.  We must pay similar care and attention that our faith is well rooted, stimulated and not allowed to go dry.  This is the first step in that Colossians 2 verse.  One might liken this to attending worship with the fellowship of believers, and beginning to develop daily prayer habits.

For months after those trees were planted, I continued to monitor them.  Regular watering included additional root stimulator for a mild fertilizer.  The trees had to be gently built-up so that they had the essential nutrients to live and grow.  They could not tolerate strong fertilizer as it would have burned them up.  The trees were also pruned so that the roots did not have to support the entire canopy that had existed before transplanting.  Only the essential limbs were left.  After the tree was more built-up, the full canopy would grow back.  The focus at this point was leaving enough branches and leaves on the tree to support life without placing undue burden on the roots.  By spring these efforts were rewarded with the appearance of new leaves on all the trees.  All four trees had survived the winter transplant.  Again, this is no different when building up faith in the new believer.  Without trying to stretch too far too fast, faith must be watered and stimulated.  It must be monitored to see if it is producing new growth –leaves and fruit.  In this second stage, faith must be tested and encouraged to crawl, then to walk, then when it is built up, it can run.  Developing consistent time to read and digest the Word of God might occur in this second stage, as this is where one learns the heart of God, and applies the Word of God to his own life.  This builds up the inner spiritual person.

In the third and final stage, faith is established.  From time to time over the years, my wife and I have had the opportunity to drive by those three homes we owned 30 to 40 plus years ago.  I see magnificent giant oaks at those homes, and think back to the days with Roy when those trees were planted.  They seemed so fragile and vulnerable at the time.  It is hard to imagine those trees in that initial condition when today they stand so tall and strong.  20151001_125356

Anyone would look at those trees today and say they were established, but it took considerable initial care, protection and stimulation to achieve the results. The experience from a life well lived before the Lord over a long period of time will similarly produce big strong faith.  By this I mean literally before the Lord, as in time spent in His presence, where one is quiet and still before the Lord.  One is actively waiting before the Lord, expecting that the Lord will speak into their life, touch their body, give direction, encourage, correct, provide hope, or do any other of a myriad of things any loving Father would do for their child.  This establishes enduring faith over a period of time, but requires a commitment of time spent with Him.

From this platform of an established faith, strong as an established oak tree, we can give thanks on all occasions.  We know we are loved and protected by our Heavenly Father.  We know we are forgiven when we stumble.  We know He will give us His best, and has our well-being in mind.  We know that in spite of dark times, our joy will come in the morning.  We know help is a prayer away, and the enemy cannot touch us.  We know we “can do everything through Him [Jesus Christ] who gives me [us] strength.” Philippians 4:13. [Insert mine].  From this platform, we see thanksgiving at a whole new level.  Additionally, once we are established strong like an oak tree, we can give back to others.  We can provide shade and shelter for the weary, a nesting place for others in the storm, and be a part of the spiritual rain cycle that brings refreshing to a thirsty soul.   Thanks giving will become thanks living, a habit and a way of life.  Happy Thanksgiving.

I Smell Smoke! Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles
Kay K. Peebles

The mountains are on fire!  A month ago we were hiking just a few miles from our home.  We had trekked well over a mile into the woods when we heard the sound of a helicopter.  We couldn’t see it because of the tall trees so we kept on hiking and talking.  During the next hour we continued to hear the helicopter and after we had turned back to head to the car we finally saw it.  It was flying back and forth every few minutes carrying a large bucket of water beneath it. We realized what it all meant, the forest was on fire!  We were grateful we did not smell smoke because that meant it was not in our proximity.  We headed for home and sought a newscast that could inform us on the location of the fire.

Our forest was more parched than we had ever seen.  Meteorologists diagnosed it as an extreme drought.  Leaves on the trees were curled inward and hanging limp on the trees.  Many turned brown without changing into bright fall colors because they died of thirst.  It had been sad to watch our vibrant forest silently screaming for water.  All of the waterfalls nearby were reduced to trickles and the rivers and streams were narrow creeks full of rocks that were under water in normal conditions.

In mid-October we drove a couple of hours north to see the beginning of the fall leaf season.  The trees were beautiful and we visited several of our favorite areas before turning back home.  The fires began to blaze within the month and we could smell the smoke at our home.  One fire was within an hour of our home and another large one was two or three hours away.  It was exactly where we had visited a few weeks prior.  Several of the 29 fires burning were set by an arsonist.  Another was started by lightning, from the last rain we had received over a month ago.  The winds prevailed out of the north and blew the smoke into our area and it collected in the valley behind our home.  We were unable to participate in any out-door activities because of the thick smoky cloud.  Day after day a dingy grey cloud blocked the view of the mountains behind us except for the outline of the ridge.  With no rain and lake levels terribly low, the mountain fires were difficult to contain, much less extinguish.  They continue to burn as I write.

I have discovered several benefits from forest fires.  A forest fire can bring a dense forest full of unhealthy trees and foliage back to life by:

  1. Removing dead and decaying plants that are fire hazards.
  2. Eliminating dense foliage thinning the overgrowth so that new seedlings can grow.
  3. Yielding nutrients and minerals from the charred plants and depositing them on the forest floor.
  4. Opening more space between plants for the sunshine and rain to fall, allowing growth and better health.
  5. Enabling fireweed to grow helps restore a forest. It thrives on the nutrient rich soil the fire provided.  (National Geographics).

 

The fire of God has the same benefits for the church and individual believer that forest fires do for the mountains.  By observing the history of the church since Pentecost, we see God ignites “Revival Fires” within His people to restore and re-invigorate them.  Isaiah, one of the prophets of God in the Bible, experienced the fire of God after a very dry season in Israel’s life.  King Uzziah of Israel was not obedient to God’s Law.  He failed to destroy the “high places” of idol worship throughout the nation of Israel.  God had forbidden Israel to serve the false gods of other nations and the king was responsible to lead the people into righteousness.  King Uzziah failed his God and his nation, causing the people to continue to sin.  This spiritual compromise resulted in their loss of faith in God.  Faith that had once been vibrant and pure became dried and dead from a lack of nurturing.  The people began to call evil good and good evil.  Israel was in danger of God’s judgment.  King Uzziah died of leprosy.  The death of King Uzziah marked the end of an age of “flesh” living without seeking God’s will, and it inaugurated Isaiah’s prophetic ministry.

Isaiah had a vision of the Lord in heaven seated upon His throne.  God’s train (robe) which represented His Glory, filled the heavenly temple and Isaiah was struck by the awe and wonder of God’s holiness.  He became aware of his own sinful flesh as he observed the beauty of holiness.  (Isaiah 6:1-9).  Any person who enters the presence of the Lord will be keenly aware that God is holy and man is of flesh.  The holy presence of God is completely humbling.  It is like looking into a mirror.  A mirror shows our outward flaws but the Spirit of God reveals our inward sins.  Isaiah could hear the seraphim crying out to each another “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.”  That revelation humbled Isaiah and he repented of his sin.  The Lord sent the seraphim with a coal of “fire” to cleanse Isaiah’s lips.  God needed to purify Isaiah’s mouth so that He could fill it with His Word for the people.

The Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) asked a question as Isaiah observed the Lord’s throne room.  “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for Us?”  Having been cleansed and emboldened by the fire of God, Isaiah volunteered to speak for God to His people.

Something similar happened at Pentecost after Jesus had been raised from the dead.  The prophetic voice of God had not been heard for 400 years before Jesus’ ministry began.  Many people and Jewish leaders were dry and parched because of their sin.  They had practiced their religion but they had no life because they had compromised God’s Word and forfeited His presence due to neglect.  Jesus taught His disciples for three years and after he rose from the dead, visited them several times.  He gave them their commission to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and charged them to go into all the world.  He had told the disciples (12 plus 108 others = 120) after He ascended, to wait in the upper room until the Holy Spirit came upon them.   Fifty days later the fire of God fell upon each and every head in that upper room.  They were all filled (immersed) with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak with new tongues.  Peter, the most transformed disciple, experienced a remarkable change.  He was formerly the one who denied the Lord during His trial, because of fear of persecution.  Remarkably, the fire of God so powerfully affected him that he boldly preached the first Gospel message of the New Testament church in the same streets of Jerusalem.  (See Acts 2).  The Fire of God revives His people!

Today, the church of God is poised for revival!  Many have become dry, complacent, and weary.  The battles and challenges to remain true to the Word of God while not conforming to the ways of the world have worn down many in the faith.  Our high tech culture can easily distract us and a overabundance of activities vie for our time.  We can subtly begin to neglect our study and prayer time with the Lord which causes a wilted and parched faith.   Earthly idols have drawn our attention from the Living Water and severe drought has set in.  It is not God’s will to judge His church, He desires to send revival to restore us.  When we fail to be salt and light to the world, we have become ineffective in our culture.  His mercy draws us until we become desperate for His Fire to ignite us again, restoring the flames of love salvation had kindled.

The Fire of God benefits the church by:

  1. Removing dead and decaying works that don’t bear fruit.
  2. Eliminating dead relationships which stunt growth so that new life emerges.
  3. Feeding, fueling and energizing our love for Him and our zeal to serve Him and obey His Word.
  4. Restoring our communication with Him in the Secret Place of the Most High, making it our necessity for sustaining His Life in us.
  5. Reviving His church and initiating and restoring spiritual gifts and the call of God.

We need our torch to be re-lit by the fire of God so that we can take our place of authority ushering in the Kingdom of God to the earth.  Solomon gave the charge to Israel and it is just as relevant to the church today:  “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 

We are not waiting for God, He is waiting for us.  We must stop looking for others to lead.  The desperation to see God move on earth today like He did at Pentecost will pressure us to cry out to the Lord like Isaiah saying, “Send me”.  Those who are not satisfied with what we have experienced in God and long for a move of God which will impact our nation and the world.  They will be willing to intercede until Revival comes!

The church the Lord Jesus died for was not to be buildings filled with people sitting in pews.  Nor was it simply to find a place to serve others so that we felt we had contributed to society.  The church He died for was to be so filled with His Holy Spirit that we would do the same works that He did:  heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead.  The Word of God is to be so powerful in us that we are consumed with the Kingdom and draw it to earth as He did.  Those who love their God are bold as a lion, fear nothing and no one because they KNOW their God.

The dissatisfaction we have been feeling can be summed up in a question, “Is this all there is?”  That question will catapult us to a place of holy desperation for more.  When the church becomes desperate enough to cry out for more of God, we are ripe for revival.

I have smelled the smoke and seen the cloud.  It’s time to get on our knees and remain there until we are empowered with Fire from on high, because we all know where there’s smoke, there’s fire!

First Impressions by Larry W. Peebles

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First Impressions   By  Larry W. Peebles   November 18, 2016   16.44

The place appeared dark and deserted.  We had driven 4 or 5 miles off the main road on a very dark and narrow road not wide enough for cars to pass without both cars pulling off the road to allow room to get by.  Fortunately there were not many vehicles to pass.  Except for the lights of our vehicle, there were no lights.  Suddenly in the middle of nowhere in south central India, the lights of our meeting place appeared.  On the grounds of an old abandoned 18th century church, our advance team had set up a stage, sound system and lights, and had spread the word of our meetings on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights to present the gospel of Jesus.   This was an area where the gospel once had life years ago.  Unfortunately it had died except for a few small scattered churches.  God had big plans.  My first impressions were about to change into lasting impressions of those three nights.

  1. Light overcomes the dark. As John 1:9 says- “The true light that gives light to every man [Jesus] was coming into the world.” [Emphasis mine.]  When the lights of the meeting were turned on, people began to come from all directions, literally walking out of the darkness into the light.  They walked through the entrance of the gates in the wall surrounding the old church grounds, and sat down on the ground in front of the stage to hear the message of the meetings.  They came by the thousands from miles around.  Some shared the cost of the small 3-wheeled taxis that operated in the area.  Some came in large tractor drawn trailers that had been arranged to pick up at strategic points.  Some traveled by bicycle or motorbike, but most walked.  Jesus was prepared to meet them.  Songs of praise were sung, the gospel of the good news of Jesus was preached, and all were given the opportunity to give their hearts to Jesus, and to make Him the Lord and Savior of their lives.

Jesus said in John 8:12- “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  This was a dark, forgotten and spiritually hopeless place until the light of Jesus came.  John 12:46 says- “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”  I cannot recall a more graphic example of light coming into darkness as I saw these three nights.  Poor people who had nothing, who were physically and spiritually starved, suddenly had all they would ever need.  They heard the message, believed, and walked home as new creations, full of Jesus and full of joy and hope.  We could see it in their faces.  They would never walk in the dark again.

 

  1. Life in the valley of dry bones. My friend John, who has been to India many times, and whose ministry had received this invitation to come, preached the main message all three nights.  I asked him before we went out to the meeting location for the first time if he had the title of his Friday night message.  He said he thought he had to preach the story of the valley of dry bones from Ezekiel Chapter 37.   In that story, the Lord showed Ezekiel a valley full of dead dry bones and asked him if those bones could live.  Verses 4-6 say “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.  I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

As John preached that message, I listened and kept looking at that old 18th century church building.  The roof had failed, and the windows were out.  It was dark inside.   The doors were fixed shut.  There was no way to know when it had last been used.  To the extent it had once represented the gospel of Jesus established in this region, it had long since died and dried up.  But as John preached, life was returning to this valley of dry bones.  The church grounds were lit up and alive with people, music and the word of God.  Hope and help had returned.   Jesus was walking by.   These people were not forgotten by God, who had orchestrated this whole weekend.  God had provided the grounds, and the finances for the lights, the music, and the transportation.  He had made the arrangements between a local ministry and two men from halfway around the world to come and preach that weekend.  One might ask “How can you be so sure God had a hand in all this?”  Easy, check the local weather.

 

  1. The local weather report. As we boarded our flight to India, the last email from the local ministry said to pray over the weather.  The remnant of a cyclone (hurricane) off the east coast of the country threatened our outdoor meetings.  We never thought of canceling the meetings.  We got on the plane and we prayed.  We called back home and had people pray with us.  We prayed every day we were in the country, and we prayed each day before leaving for the night meetings.  We drove through rain to get to the Friday night meeting, but the grounds were dry at our location.  We drove through heavier rain Saturday night, but again our grounds were dry.  Our prayers were being answered.  We drove through heavy rain Sunday night, and even pouring rain going home after the Sunday night meetings, but our meeting was dry.  After Jesus calmed the storm when He and the disciples were in the boat, the disciples asked (Mark 4:41)- “Who is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey him?”  I know the scripture, but its meaning became real.

Two weeks after we returned home, John received the report on the meetings from the local ministry, and shared it with me.  All the local churches in the region had received an influx of hundreds of new believers.  The pastors in these small forgotten churches reported that the new believers attending their church all said one thing.  The people knew that Jesus was real.  No one other than the one true God could have held back that rain from our meeting grounds. We did not watch the local weather on television, nor did we consult a local weather app.  Apparently the rain had come down everywhere by the buckets full, but we were dry.  Our lights, our sound equipment and stage, and the grounds where the people sat would have all been ruined by heavy rain.  Many of the people would not have even been able to travel or attend in heavy rain.  They knew the supernatural hand of the one true God had held it back, and they were amazed.  In the process, God backed up our message to them of how He loved these people so much.  He wanted to connect with them and show them His love, care and concern.  He was real, and could show them the way and help them.  He would forgive their sins, and come live in their hearts.  Who is this God?  The One who even the winds and waves obey.  He was the Creator of the universe, yet He knew their names and loved each of them.

My first impressions of a dark, dry and dead place were wrong.  When Jesus was praised, preached and His presence celebrated, everything changed in an instant.  As I now think back on these meetings, I can only see light, life and the love of God poured out on His people.  Jesus came and walked among the crowds, estimated at five thousand for the Saturday night meeting, probably ten thousand for all three nights combined.  Many were saved, and so many lives were eternally changed.  Psalm 16:11 says – “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”  God is true to His word, and true to His people.  He was not about to let a little cyclone drown out His Light and life-giving Word.

My prayer is that everyone who reads this will come to know the one true God—the One even the winds and waves obey.  It is not necessary to travel half way around the world to experience Him.  He comes readily to all those who are desperate for Him.

The Two Kingdoms Part V Kay Keith Peebles

Kay K. Peebles
Kay K. Peebles

 11/11/16  16:43

True Prophets and False Prophets

What’s the big deal?  One of our grandsons came home from school with his new band shirt.  He was excited about his upcoming fall band concert.  The band students had voted on the name and theme of the band.   There were a couple of favorite choices.  The band director had picked one of the two final emblems to represent the band and had it embossed on their shirts.  The parents of the students had personally purchased their child’s shirt before knowing what the emblem would be.

When his dad arrived home from work, my grandson showed him his new band shirt.  The emblem chosen was a Zodiac symbol with all the signs of the Zodiac around it.  His dad was appalled.  Our grandson had been excited about his new band shirt but our son had to explain what that symbol meant and how it represented the complete opposite of our faith in God.  What looked to be “innocent” actually had serious implications if accepted and used to represent the school, band and our family.

Many would think that it is only a symbol and therefore it is impotent to cause any harm.  The Bible, however, carefully warns of being associated with anything connected to the kingdom of darkness, the occult, and the demonic realm.  That symbol was a representation of the occult realm as well as the curses attached to it.

Many years ago before I became a student of the Bible, I would read my horoscope in our daily newspaper.  I thought it was interesting and wondered if it had any ability to “predict” my immediate future.  I was fascinated with things that might give me an edge in navigating my life.  I also remember when I was a young teenager going to my cousin’s home and playing with the “8” ball and asking it questions.  At slumber parties we would experiment with levitation games.  My mother had even mentioned she had played with an Ouija board when she was young but stopped when something happened that scared her.  I had no idea these things were associated with the occult!  Although we went to church every Sunday, there were no mentions of such dangers and my family was not knowledgeable about the Word of God.  We simply believed God existed but had no personal relationship with Him.  Little did I know that such “innocent” experiences were entry doors to the occult.

My son and daughter-in-law set up a conference with their son’s principal and met with her a few days later.  She seemed totally surprised that the symbol could be objectionable.  My son calmly explained that the Zodiac and astrology were connected to a religion.  He also shared that what it represented could not be scientifically proven to be true and therefore was based on superstition and not science.  Since religion is not permitted in the schools, this symbol violated those guidelines.  He then told her that we are Christians and that symbol represented the direct opposite of our beliefs.  If they chose to keep the symbol, he would either have to remove his son from the band or continue to object to its use through other appropriate means.  The principal promised to research the matter and speak with her band director giving them an answer within two days.  We were all praying for God’s grace to intervene on our behalf and there would be understanding when it was researched.  Her email came two days later and the principal and band teacher decided to choose the other emblem the class had liked and the school would replace the shirts at their own expense.

This story is a perfect example of how many people become involved with the kingdom of darkness without even knowing it.  Ignorance is not bliss, as the phrase insinuates.  Ignorance is also not an excuse because the enemy will take advantage of any opening he is given to kill, steal and destroy.  The Bible challenges us to beware of anything that is not of God and it is our responsibility to KNOW the Word of God.

Babylon existed in Old Testament times.  (Genesis 10:10)  Its origin is not exactly known but it began to grow in prominence around 2,000 B.C.  It was located in southern Mesopotamia near the Euphrates River in the area of modern day Iraq.  Babylon is not only a key part of world history, it is also prophesied in the book of Revelation as a city which will be destroyed by God because of the evil it brought to the world.  (Revelation 14:8, 16:19, 17:1-18:24).  By researching Babylon, we are not simply examining a culture but a religious belief that originates with worshipping false gods.  The term babel associated to the tower of Babel (and Babylon) means confusion.  The origin of the word describes its meaning: to blend or mix.  Its religion existed at the time of the Hebrew patriarchs and led many Israelites astray.  In 597 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar defeated Israel and took many of the people into exile, including the prophet Daniel.  The Chaldeans are an indigenous people who settled in Mesopotamia and the Babylonians were one of their tribes.  The Chaldeans had established an elaborate way of reading the stars to get direction by predicting future events.  However, it was not the Chaldean magicians, astrologers or sorcerers that could interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, it was God’s prophet Daniel that did so.  (See Daniel 2).  Their power came from the realms of darkness but Daniel, a prophet of God, received wisdom directly from the Lord Himself (Kingdom of Light).

Daniel 2:46-47 “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and paid homage to Daniel [as a great prophet of the highest God] and ordered that an offering and incense should be offered up to him [in honor of his God].  The King answered Daniel, “Of a truth your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a Revealer of secret mysteries, seeing that you could reveal this secret mystery!”  God wanted to show this idol worshipping king that his magicians and sorcerers were false prophets by having him experience the power of God working through a true prophet.

Today, many have been led to destruction through the deceptions of false prophets such as mediums, psychics and modern day astrologers.  Other terms such as soothsayers, diviners, necromancers, fortune tellers, charmers and those who interpret omens are connected to astrology (occult).  It is important that I mention astronomy is the scientific study of our stars and solar system.  That is not the same as astrology.  Astrology is a false religion and those who “foretell the future” use the stars, sun and moon as their source of information.  They also interpret omens to predict the future.  They are not of God, they are from the kingdom of darkness and they are false prophets.

God warned the Israelites in Deuteronomy 18:9-14 “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.  There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.  For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations, the LORD your God drives them out before you.  You shall be blameless before the LORD your God.  For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.”

Those who practice magic or black magic as mediums do so by connecting with demon spirits.  They charge a fee for giving their forecasts to their customers but they cannot speak truth because they have not received their information from the Spirit of Truth.  The true prophet does not give prophecies by charging a fee.  They are specifically called by God, ordained by God and are not to give the Word of the Lord for personal profit.  In a church setting, the word is given out freely.

The prophet Balaam paid a dear price for trying to sell the Word of the Lord.  God established the office of the prophet to encourage, edify and sometimes warn His people when they had disobeyed the Lord.  Balak, king of Moab tried to enlist Balaam, prophet of Israel to curse God’s people.  Balaam asked God if he could curse the Israelites for Balak and the Lord said no.  (See Numbers chapters 22, 23, 24).  The king promised to promote him to very great honor and do whatever Balaam asked him.  The generous offer tempted Balaam and he eventually went against the Lord and began his journey to reach Balak in Moab to curse the Israelites.  The Angel of the Lord (pre-incarnate Jesus) stopped Balaam and his donkey, and God finally told him to go but He would put the words in Balaam’s mouth.  Balaam eventually spoke blessings upon the Israelites instead of curses and Balak became furious.  God judged Balaam for desiring to curse God’s people for personal gain.  He was willing to curse what God had blessed and use his God given gift against God’s people.  The Lord used Balaam as an example to the true prophets.

Jude 11 states, “Woe to them!  For they have run riotously in the way of Cain, and have abandoned themselves for the sake of gain [it offers them, following] the error of Balaam, and have perished in rebellion [like that] of Korah!”  2 Peter 2:15-22 warns the church, “Forsaking the straight road they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam [the son] of Beor, who loved wickedness… For uttering loud boasts of folly, they beguile and lure with lustful desires of the flesh those who are barely escaping from them who are wrongdoers.  They promise them liberty, when they themselves are the slaves of depravity and defilement—for by whatever anyone is made inferior or worse or is overcome, to that [person or thing] he is enslaved…”

False prophets lead the people into spiritual slavery and destruction.  The true prophets encourage, admonish and direct God’s people to righteousness, holiness and peace.  All too often, by ignorance or rebellion, God’s people seek answers from the wrong source and become not only cursed, but led astray from God.  King Saul sought answers from a medium instead of God, knowing it was forbidden, and lost his kingdom and his life.

There is nothing wrong with desiring to know what lies ahead.  God promises to give us wisdom when we ask of Him.  (See James 3:16-17, James 1:5-6).  God speaks to His people.  He answers our questions and prayers in His timing.  For those who are willing to “wait” upon the Lord, walking in obedience to His word, they will receive great blessing and peace.  For those who do not, destruction will be their end.  The Apostle Paul warned the church that there would be false prophets in the church who were there to lead the people astray.  He charged us all to be constantly alert keeping watch and judging the prophet’s words by the Word of God.

We cannot fail if we will build a place of habitation for the Lord to dwell in our hearts and homes daily.  By seeking Him first, being willing to wait on His timing for our answers and trusting in His faithfulness to guide and direct us, we will be victorious.  By guarding what we see, hear and do, we will walk in righteousness and peace will prevail in our lives.  By giving our hearts, lives and future to the Lord, we will be assured of His constant intervention in our lives and live eternally with Him.  By seeking the truth in God’s Word, we will recognize truth when we hear it.

Trouble Is Coming by Larry W. Peebles

Trouble Is Coming   by   Larry W. Peebles   November 4, 2016   16.42

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Why do bad things happen?  This is a question I hear often, especially when it concerns seemingly good people.  I do not want to gloss over this question with an answer that is shallow and superficial.  However, since I heard this question again within the past week, I do want to share some insight I also recently gained.

We live in an imperfect and fallen world.  The devil gained a toe-hold in the earth when sin entered God’s perfect creation.  Man’s dominion over God’s earthly creation was taken, and man will remain in a struggle until that dominion is perfectly restored.  Things happen that are the plan of the devil, who the Bible says “comes to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10).  Jesus told His disciples they would face persecution, and He did not promise us a trouble-free life.  Indeed, without being overly pessimistic, we must conclude that even the most admirable believer will face trouble.

I just returned home from three days of outdoor gospel crusade meetings which had been planned for months.  As we got on the airplane to travel half-way around the world, these meetings were being threatened by weather–the remnant of a cyclone (hurricane).  This crusade was intentionally planned in a remote area where the gospel had not been preached outdoors in a public meeting venue.  The roads were under-developed, and many would walk for miles to attend.  We did not postpone the crusade, nor did we move it.  We prayed.  Hundreds of believers and supporters prayed that God would intervene against the weather and protect the meetings.  For three days the system produced rain all around the meeting site, coming as close as one-half mile, but the grounds where the meetings were held stayed dry.  Sound equipment and lights remained functional.  People came by the thousands, many more than were expected, traveled safely, and sat on dry ground.  I believe that by our collective prayers, we took authority over that storm, and God miraculously kept it away.

The Biblical basis for this comes from a story told in the New Testament.  Jesus and His disciples got in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus fell asleep.  A storm approached, and threatened to swamp the boat.  The disciples feared for their lives, and woke Jesus.  Luke 8: 24, 25 says- “He [Jesus] got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  ‘Where is your faith?’ he asked his disciples.  In fear and amazement they asked one another ‘Who is this?  He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.’” [Emphasis mine.]

Jesus says something very incredible that causes us to be optimistic regarding the storms and troubles of our lives.  In John 14:12-14, Jesus says- “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Jesus has all power and authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).  He has given us authority to use His name when we pray.  He has told us we can expect our prayers to be answered, and that we will do great things in His name.  When He spoke to the storm, He was teaching that we can do the same.

Here are two recent observations on this discussion of storms and trouble that may come our way:

  1. When the storms of life come, it is better to be in the boat with Jesus than doing our own thing in our own boat. If we live a life committed to Him, we are seeking Him in a personal relationship.  We strive to be and do what He wants us to be and do.  We are on His side, and in His boat.  When we are in the center of His will, we are under the protective wings of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1, 2).  That is the perfect place to be when the storms come.
  2. On those days when we feel we have no effective prayers, and there is no power to change anything, we need to remember there is a difference between power and authority. We are not to rely on feelings and appearances.  In John A. MacMillan’s classic book “The Authority of the Believer”, one finds the illustration of a traffic cop.  The officer does not have the power to stop an oncoming bus or 18-wheeler, but he has been granted the authority to control and stop the traffic.

Jesus has all power and authority in heaven and on earth to halt, detour, and destroy the storms and troubles of life.  He has granted us the authority to use His name to deal with them also.  Human nature is such that if we have no storms or troubles, we become lazy and content.  Trouble will surely come, but we are stronger when we exercise our God-given authority to calm the storm.

Why do bad things happen– because our enemy, the devil, “prowls around, like a lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5: 8).  A more productive question might be “What do we do about it?”  We stay in the boat with Jesus.  We exercise the authority we have been granted, pray in the name of Jesus, and believe we can calm the storm.  1 Peter 5:9-10 goes on to say “Resist him, standing firm in the faith….and Christ, …after you have suffered a while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”

We are told to not be afraid of the test.  We prepare by getting in the boat with Jesus, and exercising our authority by praying in His name.  He supplies the power to calm the storm.

The Two Kingdoms Part IV Kay K. Peebles

 

 

 

 

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The Broad Path Or The Narrow Path

We took the last step up and there it was! One of my favorite places to hike is Springer Mountain with an elevation of 3,780 feet. The trip there is a bit challenging in itself. We drive for 45 minutes on paved roads to the entrance of the forestry area. The road changes to an unpaved, narrow, one lane road winding up, down and around the mountain for six more miles. It’s a bumpy ride and our vehicle becomes coated with road dust, but the reward at the end is worth every effort. After parking the car in a small parking lot, across the road from the trail, we begin the upward climb on a narrow rocky path.
The path is on the edge of the mountain and filled with twists and turns. It has many beautiful rock formations jutting out of the mountainside. The plants that thrive there are mostly mountain laurel and rhododendron which line the trail. Many varieties of oak and pine trees grow throughout the forest with some sourwood and chestnut salted in.
The ascent rises one mile to the top of the mountain. The summit opens up to a small clearing with large boulders that form a table top you can sit or stand on. During the spring and summer months the trees are full of leaves and one has no idea what to expect until they crest the last hill. Standing on those boulders you have an incredible view of multiple mountain ranges layered one after the other. The panoramic view extends a distance of 50-75 miles. The blue haze over the mountains and the cool thin air send a chill up the spine of even the most experienced hiker. There is a bronze plaque at the edge if the mountain top with an inscription explaining the mount point is the beginning of the Appalachian Trail on the south end. The Appalachian Trail is a 2,200 mile trek from north Georgia to Maine. It takes approximately 6 months to hike and hikers can begin at either end of the trail.
One of the boulders at the top has a cranny which contains a notebook with a pencil tied to it and a metal box. The box has supplies for any hikers on the trail to use what they need. Because the mountain is either the beginning or the end destination, those finishing their hike leave unused supplies for the others who journey through. The book was for the purpose of recording their name, home state and sharing experiences the trail had provided them. Everyone that reaches the top sits and basks at the incredible view from the mountain. It’s the perfect spot to take selfies with the panorama of hazy blue mountain ranges behind.  It was exhilarating and fulfilling to reach our goal. The narrow path we climbed yielded us a grand reward.
Jesus taught his disciples about the narrow and the broad paths. He noted that the broad path led to destruction and the narrow path led to life. He also told them that the majority of people would take the broad path and few would take the narrow one.  It is the broad path that is the easier one to navigate.
“Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NKJ.
The wide path has many distractions and offers many off-road excursions which wind up being dead-ends.  It is most often the more appealing path and it entices one to linger in cozy venues that delay or completely derail their progress. Comfort is alluring and the wide road veils the treacherous pitfalls that patiently wait for distracted worldly travelers.
The narrow path is steep and uncomfortable at times, as it winds through rocks and craggy passageways filled with obstructions that slow down one’s progress. It is the more challenging pathway but the rewards it provides the faithful are unprecedented.
Those who travel the wide road have no navigational system that guides them to their destination. They wing it by taking stops when they feel the need and stay as long as they are content. They feel secure by the fact that many are travelling with them. Feeling safety in numbers, they assume their destination will be worth the effort. Unfortunately, all who remain on the broad path become lost and their end is one of utter destruction.
“Wasting and destruction are in their paths, The way of peace they have not known. And there is no justice in their ways; They have made themselves crooked paths; Whoever takes that way shall know no peace. Therefore justice is far from us, Nor does righteousness overtake us; We look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness!  We grope for the wall like the blind, And we grope as if we had no eyes; We stumble at noonday as at twilight; We are as dead men in desolate places.” Isaiah 59:7c-10.
Conversely, those taking the narrow route have divine intervention.  The Bible says the Word of God is a light that shines on their path and it is a lamp which guides their feet to safety.  Psalm 119:105.  It exposes the pitfalls along the path and gives secure footing to all who travel that way. The Bible also offers Wisdom in all areas of life for those who choose to trust in its direction and heed its warnings.
“Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.” Psalm 25:4-5.
Abundant provision is supplied for all on the narrow path and help is available to those who stumble and fall. Assurance encourages the weary travelers and peace accompanies them wherever they go. Although the path is more difficult than the wider one, there are many resources available to those who need assistance. The Spirit of God not only lends guidance to its travelers, it intercedes on their behalf, guaranteeing them of success.
“He restores my soul, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:3-4.
Speaking of Wisdom (from God) the Bible states, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.” Proverbs 3:17-18.
This analogy of two paths reveals the difference between the two kingdoms: the kingdom of the world (Satan, darkness) and the Kingdom of Life (Heaven, God, Light). We will all have the opportunity to choose which kingdom in which we desire to dwell. One clearly leads to eternal destruction and the other eternal Life. Our time on earth is served for one purpose only, to discover God and to seek Him with all our hearts. When we do, the narrow path is the one upon which we will walk and at the end, it will open wide to a glorious eternal Kingdom, the Kingdom of Life!
In the book of Deuteronomy the Lord God presented His people with the choice; “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess…I call heaven and earth as a witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Deuteronomy 30:15-19. The kingdom of darkness or the Kingdom of Life?

Strong Right Arm by Larry W Peebles

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Strong Right Arm   by Larry W. Peebles   October 21, 2016   16.40

He came just at the critical moment.   I was a young boy who had not yet learned to swim.  My family had gone to a lake near our home town for a day of fun and recreation.  Lying back on an inner tube, I drifted out into deep water where I had been cautioned not to go.  When I shifted position, I accidentally slipped off the tube.   It happened so fast I did not have time to cry out for help before going under.  I opened my eyes underwater to see the sun silhouetting the inner tube floating on the surface above me, but I could not get to it.  I could not scream for help while under water.  No one would hear me, and I would lose my last breath.  My lungs began to burn for lack of oxygen.  I remember thinking this was probably it for me.  I was done, helpless even as I struggled mightily to get to safety, but getting nowhere.   I was sinking into an underwater grave.  I thought I was going to die.

Suddenly, I felt my father’s right hand grab my arm and lift me out of the water and onto the safety of the inner tube.  Just in the nick of time, my father rescued me and saved my life.  He escorted me back to the shallow water, where I stayed the rest of the day, numb and quiet from what had happened.   All these years later, if I close my eyes, I can still see that inner tube floating on the water above me, safety just out of my own reach.

My Dad, though short in stature, will always stand tall in my eyes because of that experience.  He was only a few years removed from military service in WWII when I was born, and I remember his muscular arms.  From the stories he and my uncles told, Dad was also a fast runner in high school.   That speed must have translated into swimming as well, because to this day I do not know how he got to me so fast when I went under.  I certainly do not remember him being near me when I drifted out in the inner tube.

One day in prayer, almost fifty years later, the Lord took me back to that day and caused me to remember two things.  First, he reminded me that although I had gone where my father told me not to go, Dad never took his eyes off me.  He was watching me the whole time.  Second, the Lord pointed out that if my father would extend his strong right arm to rescue me from a dangerous situation, how much more would my Heavenly Father do the same and more.

Just as I can close my eyes and see that inner tube floating on the water above me, I can also feel my father’s hand grab me and lift me to safety.  He loved me so much that he kept watch over me and took the necessary quick action to save me when I fell into danger.  Although I had disobeyed his instruction to stay in the shallow water, he was vigilant as if he knew I might need him.  My father has gone on to heaven, but this story gives me great comfort when I miss him.

If my earthly father would keep watch over me and rescue me with his strong right arm, would not my Heavenly Father do the same and more?   Does He really protect and save with His strong right arm?  His word confirms His character.

The Scriptures offer a number of references that should enlighten and encourage us that indeed He does.  When Scriptures refer to God’s strong arm, or even strong right arm or hand, they are referring to a commonly recognizable seat or source of His power.  For most people (90%), the right arm is the most used and therefore the most powerful arm.  When we need help, God will come with His strongest assistance.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of the Exodus, when the children of Israel (Jacob’s descendants) were literally lifted out of 400 years of Egyptian slavery through God’s miraculous plagues inflicted upon their captors, followed by their journey through the wilderness into the Promised Land.  Here are some descriptions of how God directed that journey:

  1. Exodus 6:6- “Say therefore to the sons of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.”
  2. Isaiah 63:12- “Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses. Who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name?”
  3. Deuteronomy 4:34- “Or has a god tried to go and take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders, and by war and a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?”
  4. Deuteronomy 33:27- “The eternal God is a dwelling place. And underneath are the everlasting arms; and He drove out the enemy from before you, And said ‘Destroy.’”
  5. Psalm 44:3- “For by their own sword they did not possess the land, and their own arm did not save them, but your right hand and your arm and the light of your presence, for you favored them.”

Here are some additional Scripture references to His strong (right) arm:

  1. Isaiah 59:1- “Behold, the Lord’s hand [arm] is not so short that it cannot save.”
  2. Psalm 98:1- “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him.”
  3. Psalm 89:13- “Your arm is endued with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.”
  4. Psalm 118:16- “The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things.”
  5. Psalm 136:12- “With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm his love endures forever.”
  6. Isaiah 52:10- “The Lord has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God.”
  7. Following many miraculous signs and miracles that Jesus had performed before the unbelievers, this is recorded in John 12:38- “This was to fulfill the words of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’”

This is not an exhaustive list of references from the Bible.  It is simply a list of twelve Scriptures that I have chosen.  There are many more that clearly demonstrate our Heavenly Father’s willingness and ability to rescue, deliver and save us from our circumstances with His strong (right) arm.  What my father did for me so many years ago serves as a picture.

Many of us might remember a time when something miraculous happened that literally saved our life, or saved us from a very difficult situation.  We did not do anything to deserve it.  In fact, we may have been doing something that we should not have been doing.  Our Heavenly Father had his eye on us the whole time, and in that instant when the circumstances became a matter of life or death, He reached down and saved us with His strong right arm.  He intervened out of His love for us.

How can we be assured of this strong protection?  2 Chronicles 16:9 says- “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” (NKJV).  If we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, give our whole heart to Him, and follow Him only, we can expect that His eye is on us in all circumstances.

King David, though not a perfect man, loved the Lord with all his heart.  Out of that very personal relationship, he perfectly sums up the point of this article with these words in Psalm 20: 6,7- “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He answers him from His holy heaven with the saving power of His right hand.  Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

This encourages us that no matter the situation, God can and will deliver us from it.  Turn to Him today.  He is certainly worthy of our trust, and His strong right arm is more than ready and capable to save and deliver.

The Two Kingdoms Part III Kay Keith Peebles

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The Wise and The Foolish
It was a dumb thing to do! Six months after we married, my husband and I moved into a new, clean, second story apartment that felt like the Taj Mahal. It was smaller than our old apartment but did not have the scratched hardwood floors, the old dirty appliances nor the roaches that scampered through the apartment at night. We no longer had noisy neighbors above us that kept us up late. Instead, everything was fresh and clean.
There were no frostless freezers in 1970 and defrosting the freezer is one chore my mother failed to teach me. My husband was outside washing the car when I dove into cleaning out the freezer and removing the thick ice that had built up over the past few months. I surveyed the challenge noticing the hard thick ice which had formed over the coils and decided the only way to remove it was to chip it off with an ice pick. That ice pick was making quick work of the hard layer of ice until I punctured a coil and coolant began to spew out of my freezer. Terror seized me as I realized I had ruined my new freezer and we had no money to fix or replace it!
In a panic, I called my husband to come inside and evaluate the results of my folly. He saw the coolant spewing and scolded me for using an ice pick to clean out the freezer. He told me only thin aluminum protected the coils inside which kept the freezer cold. I had penetrated the aluminum with the ice pick and punctured the coils. It was the first time I had attempted to defrost a freezer. I realized I had been foolish not to ask questions before I began such a task. My tearful response to him was, “I don’t know how it works; I just know it does!” My sorrowful tears melted his heart and he gave me a hug for support.
We quickly called the apartment complex manager and they replaced our refrigerator/freezer that day. He was rather amused at my mistake and we were charged nothing. It may have been my tears of shame that touched his heart. I was blessed that my foolish actions had not caused us to go into debt when it could have been prevented. My lesson was learned as it never happened again.
“The wise shall inherit glory (all honor and good) but shame is the highest rank conferred on [self-confident] fools.” Proverbs 3:35 AMP.
I do not believe anyone wakes up one day and decides they want to be a fool. It happens over time. A person makes one bad choice after another until a lifestyle of foolish choices creates a mindset. The definition of a fool is: a person who acts unwisely, or imprudently, a silly person. Court jesters during the Renaissance period were regarded as “fools” because they did antics and enticed revelry. Their nickname implies they may have been enjoyed as a form of entertainment, but they were not respected or taken seriously.
Colleges and Universities today are not impressed with students who come to party using their newly found freedom as an excuse to entertain themselves and distract others. The first two semesters usually weed out those who have no ambition to succeed, or apply themselves to higher learning. The basic goal of a foolish person is to have fun and engage in self-seeking activities. There is no concern for the future. Their life is spent only living for the day and that is their grave mistake.
The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly] Wisdom, instruction, and discipline.” Proverbs 1:7 AMP. Psalm 111:10 affirms, “The reverent fear and worship of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom and skill [the preceding and the first essential, the prerequisite and the alphabet]; a good understanding, wisdom and meaning have all those who do [the will of the Lord].”
The foolish are not teachable, they do not learn from their folly. They do not consider the Lord but rather choose to be the god of their own lives. They live immoral, sinful lives which in the end will not prosper but will lead to death and eternal judgment. They reside in the kingdom of darkness. “Fools mock sin but [sin mocks the fools], but among the upright there is good will and the favor and blessing of God.” Proverbs 14:9 AMP.
The wise, however, reside in the Kingdom of Light. “All wisdom comes from the Lord, and so do common sense and understanding. God gives helpful advice to everyone who obeys him and protects all of those who live as they should. God sees that justice is done, and he watches over everyone who is faithful to him.” Proverbs 2:6-8 CEV.
James 3:13-15 teaches, “Who is there among you who is wise and intelligent? Then let him by his noble living show forth his [good] works with the [unobtrusive] humility [which is the proper attribute] of true wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry, selfish ambition) in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth. This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal).”
The wise understand that true Wisdom comes solely from the Lord. It was God who wrote His laws by which mankind was to operate. Jesus came down from Heaven and not only taught, He demonstrated true godly character and wisdom to mankind. “The law of the LORD is perfect (flawless), restoring and refreshing the soul; The statutes of the LORD are reliable and trustworthy, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7 AMP.
“He who walks [as a companion] with wise men will be wise, But the companions of [conceited, dull-witted] fools [are fools themselves and] will experience harm.” Proverbs 13:20 AMP.
“Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For Your words are always with me. I have better understanding and deeper insight than all my teachers [because of Your word], For Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged [who have not observed Your precepts].” Psalm 119:98-100 AMP.
The teachings of the Bible charge us to diligently study God’s Word so that His laws might be “written upon our hearts.” His law not only instructs us how to treat one another, it also teaches us how to approach the Lord in prayer and worship. His Word reveals the many promises God has made to those who believe in Him. The book of Proverbs is filled with the Wisdom of God as are the writings of the Apostle Paul. Although man’s hand penned them, the scriptures came from the mouth of God, also called the Ancient of Days. His words are tried and proven; they are life and they have the power to transform us. There are many we could call wise, but the only true wise men are the ones who know their wisdom comes from God alone. Secular wisdom is rooted in pride, but the Lord discloses His wisdom to the humble in heart.
The foolish live their lives wasting their abilities because of a lack of vision. Those who skillfully build their own kingdom build it in vain if the Lord is not their architect. It is the humble man who gains access to the Wisdom of the Ages. He gleans every morsel of wisdom he can hold from the One who created everything. Psalm 1 speaks of this man…”BLESSED [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, [following their advice and example], nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers [ridiculers]. But his delight is in the law of the LORD. And on His law [precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does he prospers [and comes to maturity]. Psalm 1:1-3 AMP.
There are two kingdoms, the kingdom of darkness (world, Satan) and the Kingdom of Light (Heaven, God). It is our choice which kingdom we will dwell in here on earth and for all eternity. Our actions and the words of our mouth, which are directed by the motivations of our heart, produce the fruit which indicates the kingdom we have chosen.
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish (thoughtless, without forethought) and five were wise (sensible, intelligent, and prudent). For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take any [extra] oil with them; But the wise took flasks of oil along with them [also] with their lamps…But while they (the 5 foolish virgins) were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came and said, Lord, Lord, open [the door] to us! But He replied, I solemnly declare to you, I do not know you [I am not acquainted with you].” Matthew 25:1-4, 10-12 AMP. Emphasis mine.
The Lord promises us success when we wholeheartedly put our faith and trust in Him. A foolish man wastes his life on unimportant things while a wise man gives everything to the One who gave him life. His end will be victorious and his reward will be sweet.  The Kingdom of Heaven will be filled with those who sought the wisdom of God.

Stay Hydrated by Larry W. Peebles

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Stay Hydrated   Larry W. Peebles   10/07/16     16.38

I cannot recall ever being so thirsty.  We had nothing to drink all day.  My college buddy and I had set out on a float trip down an area river.  Early in the morning we dropped a car at a highway bridge where we planned to exit the river, then drove back to where we would put the boat in the river at another bridge, upstream from our exit point. It was just breaking daylight when we put in, and our estimate was three to four hours to the exit point.  We had made a few similar float trips, and were comfortable with the plan.  It was a crisp day in late fall.  We packed no snacks or water.  There was no need, as we would be home by noon.

We drifted along the river, enjoying the growing daylight in such a peaceful setting.  Birds and squirrels awoke and chattered to us as we floated beneath the canopy of trees that came from both sides of the river and touched overhead.  It was a beautiful morning.  We were floating on a lazy river, wrapped in near silence.  We spoke little, and let the river do the work.  We did not want to spoil the setting with talk.

Our study of the river and the roads gave us some landmarks we would pass, mostly other bridges where farm roads crossed the river.  The first such landmark we expected to cross in an hour, but did not find it until two hours had passed.  We were a bit surprised but not unnerved, and began to talk about how crooked the river was.  One moment the sun would be on our left, and around the next bend it would be on our right, and then back on our left.  There were fallen trees and limbs to navigate, which slowed our progress.  We began to row a bit to supplement our drift speed.  This did not diminish our enjoyment of the day, as we took turns rowing.  When not rowing, one could still soak in the trees, the river, and the warmth of the mid-day sun.

It was noon when we passed under the landmark bridge we estimated marked the halfway point of our journey.  We were getting hungry and thirsty, but now realized we were in trouble.  We had a long way to go and had no supplies.  Our landmark bridges served seldom used farm roads in rural areas.  We felt we could not get anyone’s attention, so we pushed on.  Now we would both row, as we had to cover some distance on the river.

That entire afternoon we rowed without ceasing.  Shoulders, arms and back muscles ached.  Though hungry and thirsty, we had only adrenaline for fuel.  By late afternoon, nearing sundown, we reached another landmark that told us we might be three- fourths of the way through our expedition.  Given the conditions, we could not navigate the river in the dark.  As the sun began to drop and low light fell on the river, it felt noticeably colder.  The lack of body fuel meant we had more sensitivity to the dropping temperatures.  I was so thirsty my mouth seemed as though it was full of cotton balls.  The urgency to drink had surpassed the need to eat, which was only a small blessing.  The irony was that though we spent the entire day on the river, we had no water to drink.  We pulled the boat to the bank of the river at that last landmark to regroup.

My friend decided to crawl up the river bank and go look for help. We needed someone to rescue us out of the situation we had gotten ourselves into.  He had no flashlight to show him the way.  I would stay with the boat, where dark and cold were setting in, and the sounds of the river had changed to the hooting of owls and coyotes calling.  Warm sunlight was replaced with cool evening light from the stars.  Without the rowing motion for exercise, and without food and water for fuel, I became quite chilled.  I eventually caught pneumonia, which stayed with me through the next spring while I tried to run through the college track season.

Fortunately, in the dark my friend saw the light from a farmhouse and walked to it for help.  The kind farmer returned in his pick-up truck, we all loaded the boat, and he took us to our waiting car.  He saved us from the situation we had created.  By the time we went back and picked up the first car and returned to town, it was well into the evening.  This was before the age of cell phones so families and friends were extremely worried about us, including the young woman who would be my future wife.  She was quite frantic, and our date plans for the evening were ruined.

I learned a great deal that day about better planning, respect for the unfamiliar in the outdoors, helping others in need, and being prepared with a contingency plan if the original plan goes wrong.  I also remember getting back home and needing a lot of water that evening before I could even think about eating something.

That young woman who became my wife 47 years ago still walks in the woods with me twice a week in the forests that surround our mountain home.  We never walk without taking bottles of water.  Years ago, when I ran my first marathon, another friend told me I would find water stations at each of the 26 mile markers.  His advice was to not pass a single one.   I listened.  Sixty percent of the human body is water, and about 70% of the surface of the earth is water.  Such is the vital importance of water.  If one does not stay hydrated, they die.

Things in the natural realm confirm things in the spirit realm, and vice-versa.  This certainly holds true for water.  In John 4:4-42, we find the story of the woman at the well.  Jesus and his disciples were on the way to Galilee.  One day at noon, they stopped in a village in Samaria at a well originally dug by Jacob.  Jesus sent the disciples to buy food, and sat down.  A woman came to the well, and Jesus asked her to draw him water to drink.  She was surprised that a Jew would ask a Samaritan for water, but Jesus surprised her by saying (v. 10) “if you knew who it was that asked you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”  He went on to say (v. 13, 14) “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  He went on to tell the woman her life story, which no mere man could have known.  She recognized that He was from God, but in deeper conversation Jesus disclosed that He was not just from God.  Indeed, He was (is) the Messiah, the one spoken of by the prophets who would come to save the world (v. 42).

Jesus introduced something to her called living water.  As water gives life to our mortal bodies, this living water gives life to our spiritual being.  Natural water satisfies our natural thirst for a time, but we become thirsty again.  Living water satisfies our spiritual thirst for all eternity.  We will never thirst again.  What is this living water?

Jesus explained a few chapters later.  In John 7: 37-39, Jesus said – “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  John goes on to say “By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.  Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not been glorified [crucified, resurrected and ascended into Heaven}.”  [Insert mine].  At the time He said this, Jesus was pointing toward the day of Pentecost, when the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit.  At Pentecost, a violent wind from Heaven filled the room, tongues of fire appeared above each person’s head, and they began to speak in other (heavenly) languages.

God is a Spirit.   Man in his natural body and surroundings, created in God’s image, has an insatiable longing for the spirit realm.  Every civilization known to have existed has demonstrated a respect or relationship toward the “gods”.  Absent knowledge of the One True God, this longing has manifested in distortions and perversions of the true worship we were created for—the worship of God.  These manifestations include studying and reading the stars (horoscope), witchcraft, ancestor worship, animal worship, nature worship, devil worship, and others.   These distortions are a form of false religion, and none of them satisfy.  Like the water in that river, though it may surround us, it is not suitable for drinking.

Like the woman at the well, when we come to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior of the world and our own personal Savior, we can be filled with living water. Jesus comes to rescue us and lift us out of the water that does not satisfy and is not suitable to drink–the mess of sin we created for ourselves.   The sweet wind of the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us.  We receive the fire which purifies and cleanses our heart and gives us an unquenchable zeal for God.  We also receive a new and powerful heavenly language with which to pray effective prayers in accordance with the will of God.

When we experience this impartation of the Holy Spirit, we are “born again”, not as a human being, but as a spirit being.  Our eternal spirit man is restored to its proper relationship with God, and our spiritual longing is satisfied.  We are back home and our spiritual thirst is eternally satisfied by the true living water.  Without this living water, our spirit man will die.  Confess Jesus as savior, receive His Holy Spirit, and stay hydrated for all eternity.  This will assure our spirit man within will never thirst again.