Strong Right Arm by Larry W Peebles


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


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


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.

The Two Kingdoms Part II Kay Keith Peebles


Blessed or cursed?  It’s a simple question with an easy answer.  Anyone would be crazy to desire to be cursed and yet many live under the curses of the kingdom of darkness without realizing how they arrived at that place.  Many people who don’t understand the two kingdoms think their current conditions are based on good or bad luck.  They are not based on luck or superstition; they are based upon our choices.  The Kingdom of God is established by laws and godly principles which ensure our success if they are followed.  God did not create His law to deprive us or bind us, He created it to thrust us into a lifestyle leading to eternal life.  The greatest blessing of all is God’s desire that we choose to abide with Him daily to ensure that outcome.  His blessing rests upon those who are consistently obedient to His Word.  One of those areas of blessing is God’s provision.  When we understand that the Lord is our Provider and we follow God’s principles of handling money, we will find blessing.

Our early years of marriage were challenged with financial ups and downs.  Soon after my husband graduated with his Master’s Degree and entered the workforce, a big recession drastically affected the oil, gas and building industries.  He was in land development and homebuilding at the time.  Our income decreased by thirty percent and we were hurting.  We had two young children and I was a stay-at-home mom working part time.  I learned to cut corners through that experience.  Outlet stores became my friend when my two children outgrew their clothing.  My husband and I attended church regularly, but we had not experienced a personal encounter with Jesus that changed our lives or lifestyle.  We heard of Biblical tithing for the first time in the midst of this difficult period.

Our church began a building campaign by selling bonds to fund the project.  A friend who knew the Bible gave a Biblical teaching on the tithe in one of our church financial meetings.  We are forever grateful he was willing to speak on God’s monetary truth to us that night.  Our giving had been far short of a tithe (10%) of our income.  It was more like a “token” or a tip.  Our eyes were opened to the importance of tithes and offerings (above the tithe), and the Word of God cut deep into our hearts.  We began to tithe with joy, and since then God has been our faithful provider.

Malachi 3:8-11 promises, “Will a man rob God?  Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’  In tithes and offerings [you have withheld].  You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, this whole nation!  Bring all the tithes (the tenth) into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me in this, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you [so great] a blessing, until there is no more room to receive it.  Then I will rebuke the devourer (insects, plague) for your sake and he will not destroy the fruits of the ground, nor will your vine in the field drop its grapes [before harvest], says the LORD of hosts.”

The world (kingdom of darkness) does not understand the true joy of giving.  It is filled with greed, pride and selfishness.  Many give large donations for tax benefits and to draw attention to themselves by their big contributions which are not anonymous.   Plaques are erected and buildings are named in their honor.  They receive the world’s praise but not God’s.  The Kingdom of Light is not so.  “But when you give to charity, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.  So that your deeds of charity may be in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly.”  (See Matthew 6:1-4).  When our love for God is perfected, we will die to ourselves, no longer seeking what we want or pleasing our fleshly desires, we will fulfill the law by obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We have learned through further Bible study, that our devotion to the Lord is closely connected to the money we give to God’s Kingdom.  Jesus taught His disciples “For where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires that on which your life centers] will be also.”  Matthew 6:21.  We have never stopped tithing since that day 38 years ago, when we heard the teaching on the tithe!  We have learned that our giving beyond the tithe is not to be directed simply by the needs of others, but by the leading of the Holy Spirit.  We have been blessed mightily and we have never lacked anything we needed.  Recessions have come and gone but our finances have been sufficient in each case, allowing us to continue blessing others in their time of need.  We are debt free and it is all because of God’s faithfulness to His promises.  Provision from the Lord is a major area of blessing that comes from being obedient to His Word.

God initiated many promises in His Word for all who believe in His Kingdom of Light.  His promises are conditional and the blessing and favor of the Lord are attached to our obedience of His Word.  When we reject His godly principles, we are associating ourselves with the kingdom of darkness and therefore become partakers of the curses that association entails.

Biblical obedience causes blessing in every aspect of our lives, but disobedience creates an unwanted scenario.  When the Lord God brought the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt he initiated the law.  His kingdom is established on laws which guide and direct us toward blessing, healing, provision and peace.  His statutes are for our protection so that our lives can prosper in all areas.

Deuteronomy 28 explains the results we can expect when we fulfill our responsibility to know and obey God’s law.  He begins with verse 1,  “If YOU will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above the nations of the earth.”  Verses 2-14 list all of the blessings God promises His people who will walk in His ways.

The rest of the chapter of Deuteronomy 28:15-68 contains the list of the curses which will fall upon those who do not follow after God and obey His commandments.  These curses follow those who belong to the kingdom of darkness (Satan, the world).  The Israelites failed to keep God’s law because they rejected His offer to abide in His presence.

Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection we now live in the age of Grace, but God’s law has not been nullified.  Jesus did not come to eliminate God’s commandments, He came to fulfill them making us justified as we grow and mature in our love for Him.  His obedience did not take us off the hook, it paved the way for us to follow in His footsteps.  Our focus can never be on our fulfilling the law by our own works, however.  That did not work for the Israelites and it won’t work for us.  Our focus must be solely to know Him and to abide in His presence consistently.  By doing so we establish a love and trust relationship with the Lord which enables us to hear and obey the leading of the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit Who inspires, teaches, guides us into all truth and empowers us to obey God’s Word through our passionate love for Him.

The apostle Paul described the work of the flesh and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:16-23.  He began with a sober instruction, “But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts].”  “He also said, in verse 18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”  We must be able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit’s direction to be led by the Spirit of God.

How do we know if we’re walking in the Holy Spirit?  Paul describes our problem, “For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature, for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do.  Galatians 5:17.  Paul then lists the works of the flesh which are evidence of the kingdom of darkness at work in one’s life.  (See Galatians 5:19-21)    Paul also lists the nine fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.  He explains that if we are walking in the Kingdom of Light, we will exude the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.  If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit].”

There are two distinct kingdoms: the kingdom of darkness (death) and the Kingdom of Light (Life).  The first carries the weight of consequential curses and the second, the blessings and favor of God.  Every person has a choice of which kingdom they will follow.  It is impossible to habitually abide in both kingdoms and be saved.  “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord].”  Matthew 6:24.

The greatest blessing and promise of God is that of our eternal salvation born out of our continually abiding in His presence.  It is imperative for us to understand the consequences of not being fully committed to the Lord and to His Kingdom.  The message of the Gospel is to turn away from the world and all its distractions so that we can fully trust in the Lord for everything we need, faithfully walking in righteousness.  We must work out our own salvation with the Holy Spirit surrendering to Him daily.  It is then we will reap the assurance of our soul’s final destination.  Jude, (half-brother of Jesus with James, Mark 6:3) guarantees us of our future hope, “Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]–.”  Jude 24.

How we handle money is just one of the areas in which God confers the blessing or the curse.  Our outcome has nothing to do with luck.  It is directly related to the kingdom in which we choose to live.  Our loving, gracious and merciful God laid out the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience in Deuteronomy 28.  He gave His people the invitation to continually abide in His presence, which is absolutely the greatest blessing heaven affords us.  He then asked the Israelites to make their choice.  He told them one kingdom would give them an outcome of death (spiritual) and the other life (eternal).  He strongly encouraged them to “Choose Life”!  It’s a no-brainer.  Be blessed!

Nehemiah’s Legacy by Larry W. Peebles September 23, 2016


Nehemiah’s Legacy   by   Larry W. Peebles   September 23, 2016   16.36


Our tour bus driver pointed out the left window and said “they are digging up Nehemiah’s wall.”  My wife and I toured Jerusalem, one of the world’s oldest cities, in the early 1990’s.  We were told a contractor uncovered part of what was suspected to be Nehemiah’s wall while digging a utility line.  We could see where they were digging in the middle of this busy city.  Construction on the utility line had been halted for many years, as excavation was conducted to research the wall.  We were not certain if what we saw that day was the wall, but by 2007 scholars and archeologists agreed and announced that Nehemiah’s wall had been discovered in the ancient city.

One would think the 2500 year old wall would not be that hard to find, but considering the number of times Jerusalem had been seized, attacked, changed hands and razed to the ground, the location of the wall had been lost.  Researchers had been looking in the wrong place under the wrong set of assumptions.  I read that there are now over 25,000 archeological discoveries that corroborate the Bible.  This would be another similar finding, evidence of the validity of the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament.  Was Nehemiah’s legacy the wall, or is it something greater?  Let’s examine the story.

The setting for the book of Nehemiah occurred after Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Jerusalem, carried off the treasures of the city, and had taken the people into exile.  This exile would last seventy years, as prophesied by Jeremiah.  During the ensuing reign of King Cyrus, Ezra was given permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls, but this effort was sabotaged by the local inhabitants of the city.  Less than twenty years later, under the reign of Artaxerxes, whom Nehemiah served as cup-bearer, men came to Nehemiah who had been to Judah and Jerusalem. They reported “Those who survived exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace.  The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and, and its gates have been burned with fire.”  (Nehemiah 1:3).  Nehemiah wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed.

His sadness was noticed by the King, who asked him what he wanted.  Nehemiah quickly prayed, described the plight of his homeland, and asked permission to return to Jerusalem “where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.” (2:5)

Rather than focus on the logistics of rebuilding the wall, which he obviously accomplished as evidenced by the ruins being discovered only recently, let us focus on the opposition he faced.  In looking at the opposition he overcame, we may find Nehemiah’s true legacy, as the obstacles and principles apply in our modern world.

Realize it or not, God gives us jobs to do–the unique reason and purpose for which each of us was created.  This purpose is our “wall to build”, so to speak.  It might be a job that will eventually lead an entire nation back to their homeland (with God).  The calling might be to lead some other great effort, or to build a great organization, a great family, or raise great kids.   It might be something less far-reaching, but no less important, such as leading an exemplary life by loving God and those with whom we come in contact, in accordance with the commands of God.  No matter the wall we are given to build, when we undertake something great, the opposition will likely be similar to that faced by Nehemiah.  These are the ancient tools of the naysayer:

  1. Doubt–Immediately after Nehemiah surveyed the situation and spoke to the people about rebuilding, the critics showed up. The criticism started with “Who said you could do this?  This is way out of your league. You cannot do this.” (2:19)
  2. Discouragement–After Nehemiah organized the workers and assigned sections of the wall for each to repair, the critics said they would not be able to build a wall from the burned heaps of rubble they had to work with.  (4:2).  He was told he did not have the materials-the required tools and resources.
  3. Ridicule–The critics said that even if the workers could build a wall from the rubble, it would not stand-if a fox ran across the top, it would fall.  The work would not last. His efforts would be wasted. (4:3)
  4. Worry/Suspicion–Nehemiah was told as the opposition grows, they will become more aggressive—they will attack. The opponents will infiltrate the work effort, and undermine it from within. (4:12).
  5. Distraction–As the work progressed, the opponents tried to distract Nehemiah away from his work.  They called him to come away to pointless meetings, when their real plan was to harm him.  He would not be distracted from his original mandate, and he would not give in to fear of personal harm. (6:2, 3).
  6. Accusation–Opponents accused Nehemiah of doing this for his own glory.  They said he was trying to build his own kingdom, and make himself the king. (6:5-7).
  7. Fear/Intimidation–Opponents said his life was in danger.  The best thing he could do for himself was run into the temple and hide for his own safety.  If he continued with his work, he would die. Nehemiah reasoned that the God who created and called him to do this work did not need to hide him in the temple to protect him.  (6:10).

Scholars and archeologists estimate the wall Nehemiah and his workers rebuilt was over two miles in length, encompassing some 32 acres.  It was 16’ wide in places, and estimated to be 8-10’ tall.  The wall was re-built in 52 days, including the gates.  With the walls secure, Nehemiah settled more new residents to occupy the city.   This would secure/ensure the lasting success of the effort. (11:1).

The work was finished; Jerusalem was saved.  What were the God-inspired keys to this success in overcoming the opposition?

  1. Nehemiah was sure of his purpose.  He had fasted and prayed, seeking God’s will in the matter.  After he knew what he was to do, he did not look left or right again.
  2. He was confident that whatever materials and help God provided would be sufficient.
  3. He was sure that whatever skills were required among the help would be present on the wall because God had provided the help.
  4. He ignored the criticism and the skeptics.
  5. He would not be distracted from what he knew God told him to do.
  6. He did not see the need to excessively defend himself from accusations or rumors.
  7. He did not fear, even for his own life.  He knew God had given him life, and God had given him this purpose.  The God who had called him into this purpose would not allow his defeat.  What good was his life if he left his God-given purpose unfulfilled?

Later in the book of Nehemiah we see he gave all the glory to God for what he had done.  More than the wall construction, Nehemiah’s legacy is the godly character he displayed in doing what he did.  Remains of Nehemiah’s wall tell us 2500 years later of a man who followed God with heart and determination, and prevailed against seemingly over-whelming opposition.

The Two Kingdoms Part I by Kay Keith Peebles


Darkness or Light

How could I have ever liked those things?  Growing up in a small town in Texas I loved to go trick-or-treating on Halloween.  When I became an adult, I continued my fetish with the holiday.  I had a small ceramics business and made and sold lighted witches, shelf hangers, dishes, statues and other decorations depicting the scary ghoulish celebration.  I bedecked every room in my house like I would for Christmas.  I loved to go to costume parties, and I handmade costumes for my two children.  I went to church choir practice one Wednesday night dressed up like a witch. I had absolutely no idea the origin or the true culture of Halloween.  It appeared so innocent to me.

Soon after I began going to Bible Study I heard negative references about the holiday.  It surprised me because I had always considered it fun to participate in trick-or-treating.  I decided to do some studying on my own which provided information about the origin of Halloween, but I continued to excuse my participation in it.  I justified my feelings by giving the disclaimer- “I don’t believe in that stuff, I’m just having a little fun.”  It took several years for the Lord to influence me that I should no longer associate myself with that event.  One of the convincing experiences I had was at the last Halloween costume party I attended.  There was some drinking at that party and as usual, a few people became obnoxious.  I watched two different married people, one a man and the other a woman, take liberties with others of the opposite sex which were completely improper.  The Lord spoke to me, “People think because they are in costume wearing a mask they can act inappropriately and get away with it.”  I then realized they wore an invisible mask every day that hid the true motivation of their heart.  What I saw and heard turned my stomach and I walked away from participating in anything associated with Halloween for the rest of my life.  Having that resolve, I gathered all of my hand-painted ceramic pieces and smashed them with a hammer and threw them in the trash.

Something very peculiar began to happen to me as I renounced my participation with Halloween.  My spiritual eyes began to open so that I could see (perceive) things more clearly.  All the skeletons, witches, ghouls, goblins, spiders and vampires became ugly to me.  Rather than fun, I saw evil in them.  I began to see how they terrorized young children and celebrated things connected to death, gore and everything contrary to the life and joy of God’s Kingdom.  The darkness had clouded my perception of the holiday and everything it represented until I renounced it.  I discovered first-hand how darkness operates.  It clouds our discernment.

I continued doing more research on the subject and was shocked at what I discovered.    “In the Satanic Bible, Satanist Anton LaVey writes that “After one’s own birthday, the two major Satanic holidays are Walpurgisnacht and Halloween (or all Hallows’ Eve)”.”  (The History Channel,  Walpurgisnacht occurs in late April and is known as the night of witches, where witches and warlocks gather to celebrate.  (Wikipedia. com)  Many U.S. animal shelters halt the adoption of all black and all white cats until after Halloween to prevent animal torture because of the superstitions connected with the holiday.  (Daily, Animal Welfare League)  I had no idea those things truly existed and were still practiced today.  I could no longer celebrate a holiday that had such dark beginnings and still practiced such demonic rituals. I have heard the testimony of some who were steeped in witchcraft but were saved and delivered by the love and power of God.  I knew there was/is a demonic spirit realm still active today and I wanted no part in it!  Many years ago God shut the door for me and my family from ever participating in that darkness again.

There are two kingdoms in the “spirit” realm today.  They are as different as night and day.  They are polar opposites that strongly oppose each other.  It is possible to participate in both, vacillating between the two, which is dangerous for those who are not aware of what darkness represents.  It is impossible to be neutral about either.  Neutrality feeds ignorance and ignorance leads us on a path of oppression, destruction and death.  Ignorance produces fear, but truth produces life and peace.

The two kingdoms are the kingdom of darkness (Satan, world) and the Kingdom of Light (God, Heaven) and they are as contrasting as their names.  That which is evil is practiced under the veil of darkness to “hide” its true meaning, activities and purpose.  The Kingdom of Light is established in truth, which brings everything into the light.  The light exposes all those things which are hidden and done in secret.  Darkness deceives and hides truth; but the Light of truth exposes the deceptions and lies of darkness.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light; those who dwelt in the land of intense darkness and the shadow of death, upon them has the Light shined.”  Isaiah 9:2.  (See also Isaiah 42:6, Matthew 4:15 and 16.)

Darkness, referred to in the above scripture passage, is the Hebrew word #2822 “choshek” which means (lit) darkness, (fig) misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness:–dark (-ness), night, obscurity; according to Strong’s Concordance.  This meaning is the literal and figurative description of the kingdom of darkness.

Light, from the same scripture reference, is the Hebrew word #216 “owr” which means illumination or (concr.) Iluminary (in every sense including lightening, happiness, etc.):–bright, clear + day-light (ning), morning, sun.  Cross references listed above connect the Light to the Messiah, Jesus, Who was prophesied to come to earth to lead the people out of the darkness.  (See also verses 6-7 of Isaiah Chapter 9.)

There is a continual battle that rages between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of Light and the opposing agenda between the two kingdoms has intertwined with mankind throughout history.    Paul warned Christians that “Satan masquerades as an angel of light” to deceive the people.  (See 2 Corinthians 11:14). Emphasis mine).  This continual battle between darkness and light would be depressing if we did not know that it is the Light that overcomes the darkness!  John 1:4-5, “In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.  And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].”

John 1:9 states, “There it was—the true Light [was then] coming into the world [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] that illumines every person.”  He was speaking of Jesus Who is the Light of the world!

Those who choose to live in the Kingdom of Light, are charged to separate themselves from the kingdom of darkness and “walk in the light”.  “For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born (the Jews) to the Light].  Ephesians 5:8 AMP. (Emphasis mine.)  It is truly amazing the more clearly we can see (spiritually) when we remove the dark areas in our life.  I could not see the darkness in Halloween until I quit celebrating that holiday.

Jesus declared in Luke 11:34-35, “The lamp of the body is the eye.  Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light.  But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.  Therefore take heed that the light within you is not darkness.”  This New Testament word darkness is the Greek word “skotos”, “#4655 Strong’s:  From the root “ska”, “to cover.” The word is used literally for physical darkness and metaphorically for spiritual, moral, and intellectual darkness.  The darkness arises from error, ignorance, disobedience, willful blindness, and rebellion.  Darkness is an evil system absolutely opposed to the light.”  Word Wealth, Spirit Filled Life Bible, NKJ.

The Light of Christ shines in the darkest places.  (2Peter 2:19).  No matter how dark it seems to get, His Light will shine brighter and will overcome the darkness!  Our Savior and Lord is no longer hanging on a cross.  He is seated in heaven having full rule and authority over all of creation.  He is described in the Book of Revelation Chapter 21:22-25.  “I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Omnipotent [Himself] and the Lamb [Himself] are its temple.  And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon to give light to it, for the splendor and radiance (glory) of God illuminate it, and the Lamb is its lamp.  [Isaiah, 24:23, 60:1, 19]  The nations shall walk by its light and the rulers and leaders of the earth shall bring into it their glory.”  AMP.

The Light of Christ illuminates our understanding.  His Light exposes the darkness around us leading and drawing us to the Light.  Jesus is the living Word and the Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.  (See Psalm 119:105).  When we call upon His name, He will shine His light in the darkest places of our lives and deliver us from the fear and oppression of darkness.  All deception, fear and bondage is obliterated completely when we turn to His Light.

Our world may be filled with darkness today, but the Light is always available for those who believe in Jesus and call upon His name.  The darkness in this world will be overcome when each of us becomes filled with His Light and shine that Light wherever we go.  We are the carriers of His Light today.  May we reject all association with the darkness and let His Light shine!

Mending Fences By Larry W. Peebles

Mending Fences   by   Larry W. Peebles   September 9, 2016   16.34



A wooden post in the split-rail fence had rotted through at the base.  It was located at the top of the retaining wall along the side of the driveway to our mountain home.  The fence would not be able to stop anything or anyone from going over the side of the retaining wall.  A dangerous and painful drop down the side of the mountain would result.  The post had to be replaced, along with the top and bottom rails on both sides of the post.  Because the rails were as old as the post, it made no sense to replace the post without also replacing the rails at the same time.  A trip to the lumber yard yielded the new post and rails, along with the bags of concrete needed to set the new post. About four hours of labor was required to dig out the old post, and properly set the new post and rails in place.  Not only did the new wood look better than the old rotted wood, but more importantly, the fence was once again solid, safe and secure.  The fence would now function as intended– anyone or anything that needed to be restrained from going over the edge of the retaining wall and down the mountain could rely on the strength of the fence to do so.  I had successfully mended the fence, and felt a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Farmers and ranchers rely on fencing to define their property and restrain livestock.  A fence around the perimeter of the property defines the boundaries of the ownership, and sets the shape of the property.  Cross fencing within the property defines smaller sub-sections called fields or pastures.  In one pasture the cattle are allowed to graze, but in another the cattle are kept out so the grass can grow.  In one cultivated field corn may be planted, perhaps beans in another, and in a third the field might lie fallow for a season so the soil can regenerate nutrients.  Cross-fencing aids in land management.  The cattle are fenced out of the corn field for obvious reasons.  For all these reasons, it is important to keep the fences mended.  This is especially true of the perimeter fence, where a damaged fence allows one’s cattle to escape into the neighboring property, and vice-versa.  If my fence is down, and my cattle eat the neighbor’s corn, I may owe damages.  While we all appreciate the value of good neighbors, it is said that good fences make for good neighbors.

It is probably for that reason the term “mending fences” has come to have another meaning.  It is an idiom that refers to repairing or improving a poor or damaged relationship.  Repairing a damaged relationship between neighbors (or friends and family members) is much more important than repairing a fence between them.

For the Biblical perspective, consider these twelve passages:

  1. Matthew 22:36-40- a Pharisee, an expert in the Law, tested Jesus with this question-“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?  Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your god with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets [the entire Old Testament] hang on these two commandments.’”  [Insert mine].   Who is our neighbor?  Jesus made it clear in other teachings that our neighbor includes all mankind (friends, family, loved ones and strangers, including our enemies-see the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37).  Loving our neighbor is the opposite of selfishness.
  2. Ephesians 4:25-28- “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.  He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”  We must speak truthfully with our neighbor, deal with any issues that cause anger lest we give the devil a foothold, and we must share with neighbors in need.
  3. 1 Corinthians 10:24- “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”  This is in opposition to selfishness.
  4. Philippians 2:3- “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”  Again, this opposes selfishness.
  5. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-“Encorage one another and build each other up.”
  6. Galatians 6:2- “Carry each other’s burdens.”
  7. Romans 14:13- “Stop passing judgment on one another.”
  8. Colossians 3:13- “Bear with each other and forgive one another…as the Lord forgave you.”
  9. Hebrews 13:1-2- “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.  Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers…”
  10. 1 Peter 4:8- “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
  11. Romans 13:9- “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
  12. 1 John 4:7- “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

These scriptures underlined the importance of healthy, mended relationships with everyone we call or should call neighbor.  There is also a great urgency in repairing a relationship.  The pastor of a church my wife and I attended years ago said something very wise, and for that reason I have never forgotten it.  He said life is short, yet we go through it very casually in terms of our relationships.  People come and go through our lives, and we are not intentional in telling them how we appreciate knowing them and what their friendship has meant to us.  We go on as though it is understood, and therefore do not speak it out.  After parting and going separate ways, it is often too late, and is permanently left unsaid.

I remember talking to him when we left the church because we were moving to another state.  He began with this piece of wisdom, then proceeded to tell me what specifically he liked and appreciated about me, recounting in some detail how my wife and I had gone the extra mile to make him and his family feel welcome and accepted when they first came to the church.   I was stirred to reciprocate, telling him the things I appreciated and learned from him.  It brought great closure to that period of time we were together in church, and I hope perhaps brought some encouragement to his ministry.  As I have moved on in other relationships, or when my neighbor has moved on, I try to find the opportunity to have a similar conversation with them.

But why wait?  Life is indeed too short.  Why wait until the end of a season to tell a friend or neighbor or loved one how much they have meant?  Why wait a single day to mend a misunderstanding?  Take the high road.  Take the initiative, be intentional and specific with your words, never quit trying, and find ways to show your love and appreciation.  Put words into actions, no matter how small.  It is a great feeling to mend a fence.  Great (mended) fences make for great neighbors.

A Clear View by Kay Keith Peebles


Finally, we can see again!  We live in a mountain home and recently had some of our trees trimmed. We removed other trees that were diseased.  An untouched forest can close us in by clouding our view and eventually completely blocking it.  Removing dead or dying trees, trimming branches which are in the way and cleaning up broken limbs can lend us an entirely new perspective.  Removing undesirable brush which can hinder the growth or choke out the life of healthy trees is also necessary.  Forest management keeps the woods vibrant and optimizes its longevity creating a win-win situation for all.

We visited Yosemite National Park a few years ago after a lightning fire had burned hundreds of acres of land nearby.  We thought it was a tragedy until we learned that natural fires do a cleansing work to the forest and can be beneficial if they do not burn out of control.  They actually promote life rather than simply taking it.  Many of the national parks and forest areas do “controlled” burns which manage the undergrowth on the forest floor.  Low growing flora and parasites that multiply at a faster rate than other forest plants and trees can harm the balance of nature in healthy woodlands.

We live at an altitude of 2,800 feet which allows us a view at the heights where hawks, eagles and vultures soar.  The height gives them a vantage point to find their unsuspecting prey.  There are some disadvantages by only dwelling in the valley floor; it is hard to see clearly when surrounded by sixty-foot high trees.  The shade of the forest may cool the temperature by sheltering it from the hot sun, but the same trees can also thwart a refreshing breeze.  Perspective is limited and only allows us to see the small things in the valley.  Higher up on the mountain, our view enables us to grasp the big picture.

Our Christian walk, like living in the mountainous regions, is one filled with peaks and valleys.  While a mountain hike is exhilarating and renewing, much of the hard work and strength building happens when we transverse between the lowlands and the heights.  The valley keeps us focused on the work at hand but can cause us to concentrate too long on our individual needs and problems.  We can become weary with the day-to-day responsibilities of living, easily forgetting why we are here.  When that happens, we can lose light of the end goal we are trying to accomplish.

One of the devil’s effective tools used against us is a spirit of confusion.  When we lose our perspective, we are most likely being oppressed by that spirit.  Webster’s definition of confusion is:  misperception, mix-up or muddle.    Learning what it is and where it comes from gives us an edge over its influence.

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14:33a.  According to the Key Word Study Bible, confusion means commotion, tumult.  “And when you hear of wars and insurrections (disturbances, disorder, and confusion), do not become alarmed and panic-stricken and terrified; for all this must take place first, but the end will not [come] immediately.”  Luke 21:9, AMP.  In 2 Corinthians 12:20 confusion includes:  factions, quarreling, jealousy, temper, rivalry, divided loyalties, selfishness, gossip, arrogance and disorder.

James 3:16-17 explains, “For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.  But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle).  [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity).”  AMP.  The beginning characteristics promote confusion and destroy peace while they muddy the waters of clear thinking and doing.  The characteristics that come from the wisdom of God promote peace and understanding.

James continues in verse 18 to explain the opposite of confusion.  “And the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God’s will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace [in themselves and in others, that peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts].  AMP.

Confusion is a symptom of our spending too much time in the valley, and a trip to the mountains is the remedy for a “valley” mentality.  When we find ourselves stressed, overloaded and unable to sustain peace, we must change our perspective.

“I lift up mine eyes unto the hills; from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the LORD (YAHWEH) which made heaven and earth.  He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; he that keepeth thee will not slumber.  Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.  The LORD is thy keeper:  the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.  The sun shall not smite thee by day nor the moon by night.  The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil:  he shall preserve thy soul.  The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and forevermore.”  Psalm 121, KJV.  (Emphasis mine).

There are several references to the “mountain of the Lord” in the Bible.  Abraham took Isaac up to Mount Moriah when he attempted to sacrifice him to the Lord.  He was showing God that He worshipped Him above his only son, whom God had promised.   The Jewish historian Josephus recorded that Mount Moriah and Mount Zion were the same mountain.  There are prophetic Psalms which mention the “mountain of the Lord”.  “Yet have I anointed (installed and placed) My King [firmly] on My holy hill of Zion.  I will declare the decree of the Lord; He said to Me, You are My Son; this day [I declare] I have begotten You.”  Psalm 2:6-7, AMP.  (See also Psalm 76:1-2).

The Lord declared Jesus as the eternal King of all Kings and established His throne in Jerusalem upon Mount Moriah/Zion.  He will reign there at the end of the age during the Millennium mentioned in the book of Revelation.  Psalm 9:11 explained the Lord dwells in Zion.  In Psalm 20, the Lord promised to send us help from his sanctuary (in Zion) and support, refresh and strengthen us.  “GREAT IS the Lord, and highly to be praised in the city of our God!  His holy mountain.  Fair and beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth—Mount Zion [the City of David], to the northern side [Mount Moriah and the temple], the [whole] city of the Great King!”  Psalm 48:1-2 AMP.

It is no wonder David was so victorious.  He not only knew the Lord, he knew where to find Him!  David believed if he called upon the name of the Lord God, He would answer him and deliver him out of the hands of all his enemies.  When death surrounded David, He sought the Lord.  When confusion plagued him, David cried out to the God Who was his refuge, his very help in the time of trouble.  He knew his breakthrough would come out of abiding in the presence of the Lord.

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence; they will be singing Your praises all the day long.  Sehah [pause, and calmly think of that]!  Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.  Passing through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills [the pools] with blessings.  They go from strength to strength [increasing victorious power]; each of them appears before God in Zion.”  Psalm 84:4-7, AMP.

When life became confusing, David sought the Lord.  We have an even greater blessing.  Mount Zion is a metaphor to us.  Although there is a literal Mount Zion and the Lord reigns from there, we have Mount Zion abiding in our hearts if we are children of the Lord God.  When we turn our gaze away from the “valley” of problems, and look unto the “hill of the Lord”, we find solace.  When we cry to the Lord, He will give us wisdom and direction.  He will give us strength and endurance.  He will supply us with hope and grace abundant for the tasks we must accomplish.

The valleys seem endless, but from the mountains we see their beginning and their end.  When we feel weak and weary from our journey, we simply need to look up.  Our strength and help comes from the Lord (on Mt. Zion).  On the summit, we can understand our purpose and the process.  We become less fearful and are assured that change is coming.  From the valleys the storms approach us unexpectedly.  From the mountain top the storms are seen from far away, and they alert us to prepare for what lies ahead.

God is calling us to come up higher.  “AFTER THIS I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven And the first voice which I heard addressing me like the [calling of] a “war trumpet” said, Come up here, and I will show you what must take place in the future.”  We will never know what the Lord has in store for us unless we “come up” to the mountain of the Lord.

Living peacefully with our brethren and our families we are able to overcome the spirit of confusion.  “It is like the dew of [lofty] Mount Hermon and the dew that comes on the hills of Zion; for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, even life forevermore [upon the high and the lowly.”  Psalm 133:3, AMP.  We then can abide on the mountain top where we have “A Clear View”.

The Dangers of a Yes Man by Larry W. Peebles


The Dangers of a Yes Man   by Larry W Peebles   August 26, 2016   16.32

I don’t know if I would have made a good soldier.  I voluntarily subjected myself to the military draft in the late 1960s, but was never selected.  In those days, the draft was conducted by a lottery drawing.   The order in which birthdates were drawn determined the order in which those subject to the draft were called for service in the military.  The year I was eligible, my birthdate was drawn so late in the lottery my local draft board filled its quota before they got to my number.

I have always had a reluctance to follow orders until I knew the reason behind the orders, so following orders in the military without knowing why would have been difficult for me.  It is simply not in my character to say “yes” or “yes sir” without knowing the big picture-the objective.  On the other hand, once I have understood the reasons for an order, and buy in to the plan, I have had no trouble following orders and respecting the person in authority.  In short, I am not a good “yes man”, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “a person who agrees with everything that is said; especially one who endorses or supports without criticism every opinion or proposal of an associate or superior.”

The concept of a yes man is not new.  From Biblical times, both the Old and New Testaments contain interesting stories and warnings concerning this subject.  During the time of 1 Kings 22 (and 2 Chronicles 18), when the children of Israel were split into two kingdoms, we learn that Ahab was the king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah.  Three years prior, a treaty had been struck with Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, but there remained disagreement over the possession of Ramoth Gilead, a territory claimed by Israel but taken by Aram.  Ahab wanted to advance on Ramoth Gilead to re-take it, and sought Judah’s assistance in the war. Ahab threw a big feast in honor of Jehoshaphat, and asked if he would go down to Ramoth Gilead with him.  In 1 Kings 22:5, Jehoshaphat responded wisely “First seek the counsel of the Lord”.  The counsel of the Lord had left Ahab due to his disobedience (see chapters 20 and 21 of 1 Kings).  Nevertheless, he called on four hundred of his so-called prophets (false prophets), and asked if he should go to war or refrain.  They responded (v. 6) “Go…for the Lord will give it into the king’s hands.”  They told him what the king wanted to hear.  I’m sure the king smiled with delight, because he wanted to take the city back more than he wanted the truth and wisdom from God.

Jehoshaphat had the discernment that these were not prophets, rather mere “yes men.”  He asked (v. 7) “Is there not a [real] prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?”  Ahab responded (v. 8) “There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.”  The prophet Micaiah was summoned to the gathering.  He was warned by the messenger that the other prophets were not only encouraging Ahab to fight, they were also making wild and brash predictions about the gore and destruction of the Arameans.  Micaiah agreed to come, but cautioned (v. 14) “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.”  This is not the response of a yes man.  It is remarkably similar to what Jesus said in John 12:49-50 “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.  I know that His command leads to eternal life.  So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”  How very wise for a man to seek first and solely the wisdom of the Lord on a matter, for it leads to life; and how very wise for a prophet to neither add to nor detract from a word from the Lord.

When Micaiah arrived he sensed the atmosphere.  The king immediately asked him if he should go to war or refrain.  Micaiah knew what he wanted to hear so he answered sarcastically (v. 15), using the very words of the false prophets -“Attack and be victorious…for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”  Sensing the sarcasm, the king pressed him to tell what he really heard from the Lord.  In verses 19-23, Micaiah told the king that he should not proceed to war, that instead every man should go home.  He also described a vision from the Lord where he saw a lying spirit had attempted to deceive Ahab through his prophets.  He concluded by saying “The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”  Speaking the truth landed him a round of insults, followed by a stay in prison on bread and water.

This provoked Ahab into a final decision.  He ignored Micaiah, and proceeded into battle against Aram.  Ahab died in the battle, and his army retreated at the end of the day.  He had believed the lie, and it led to his death.  Although the truth would have saved his life, out of his own pride he refuted the truth because it did not agree with what he wanted to do, and it ended in disaster for him.

In the New Testament Timothy, assistant to the apostle Paul, and described by Paul as “my true son in the faith”, received the following warning from Paul in a letter.  “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self- control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-having a form of godliness, but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.” (2 Timothy 3: 1-5).  We must also honestly admit we can see this around us today.  We can see the pride in Ahab, and the form of godliness in his false prophets from the story above.

Paul goes on to say in his letter in 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”  Those who say what itching ears want to hear are “yes men”.  Those who want their ears scratched or rubbed are looking for a massage, not a message.  Jeremiah 6:14 warned about prophets and priests (yes, even the church) who say “Peace, peace….when there is no peace.”

Society in general, and yes even the church, sends messages intended for itching ears.  These include messages that people are not required to change because repentance is outmoded.  Do what feels good.  People are basically good, and there is no need to deal with sin.  A person can come to Jesus just as they are, and stay that way.  God is so loving he will not judge anyone.  God wants his children to be healthy, wealthy and content in this world.

The truth is that God’s ways and priorities are different from ours.  He is more concerned about our character than He is our comfort.  He is more concerned about our forgiveness than He is about our finances.  He will speak the hard truth for our own good.  We can come to Jesus just as we are, in a low and sinful state, but He will operate on us by grace through His Holy Spirit until we are convicted and convinced of the need for a change for our own good.

Rather than walk away from hard truth, consider these additional words from Paul’s letter to Timothy, a remedy for today’s situation.  “Preach the word (as an official messenger); be ready when the time is right and even when it is not (keep your sense of urgency, whether the opportunity seems favorable or unfavorable, whether convenient or inconvenient, whether welcome or unwelcome); correct (those who err in doctrine or behavior), warn (those who sin), exhort and encourage (those who are growing toward spiritual maturity), with inexhaustible patience and (faithful) teaching.”  (2 Timothy 4:2, Amplified).

A yes man answers according to the current direction of the wind.   The truth is not dependent on the wind.  A yes man answers according to what he thinks one wants to hear.  The truth speaks of what one needs to hear.  The truth is not a philosophical concept.  The truth is a person, Jesus Christ.  “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).  When we know the Truth (Jesus), we can recognize the truth.  We can then be ready at all times to both speak the truth and hear the truth.  This leads to life.  A yes man is no help at all.  The danger of a yes man is his half-truths and lies ultimately lead to destruction.

Take Up Your Sword by Kay Keith Peebles


It was hilarious!  I had always been afraid of snakes.  I became afraid of snakes in the third grade when I learned to distinguish the poisonous ones from the non-poisonous.  Since then, I had only seen two poisonous snakes in the wild, one was a baby copperhead.

This summer, after coming up to the mountains for ten years, I saw my first poisonous snake in our area.  I was near one of the small lakes close to our home when I saw a snake swimming on top of the water several feet from where I was standing.  I could see his head and knew he was poisonous!  Although the water was a bit murky, I got a picture of him with my cell phone and discerned he was a copperhead.  I realized, for the first time in my life I wasn’t afraid of the snake, just respectful.

A week ago, my husband and I were coming home from a day-long outing and parked our car in the garage.  When we began unloading the car, my husband shouted, “There’s a snake in the garage!”  He was in the corner by the garage door.  We could see that the front half of its body was inside a box which the exterminator had placed in the corner of the garage to catch small rodents and insects as they entered.  It was late in the afternoon and the inside of the garage was dark.  I maneuvered myself to the other side of the car so that I could step outside of the garage to see the snake with better light. “It’s a copperhead,” I yelled to my husband.  We had no rake or shovel with which to defend ourselves.  Upon observing the situation, it appeared he had entered the box to eat something that may have been inside.  We realized he had become caught on the sticky surface and was unable to pull himself free.  I asked the Lord for wisdom and immediately we decided the best thing to do was back the car out of the garage so that we could sweep the box out of the corner and onto the driveway.  Our weapons became a broom and an automobile.  When the box was pushed outside, the snake drew up the rest of his body inside the box which made him fully contained inside. My husband then proceeded to drive the car over the box five or six times to make sure the snake could not harm anyone.  There was no way we could have removed him from the box.  He was stuck there to die a slow death and since he knew small critters could enter our garage, we did not want this happening again.

Once the snake was dead, we both felt relieved.  It was disconcerting to have a poisonous snake in our garage.  It left us feeling a bit vulnerable.  Then we began to laugh.  It was actually hilarious!  The head of the snake could not have touched us.  The snake had been incapacitated!  God had protected us from being bitten when we walked near the snake.  He was a dangerous snake but rendered helpless; unable to harm us.  His poisonous head was covered by a box.  We chuckled at the thought of him chasing us and trying to bite us with this big box on his head.

I began to understand more clearly the victory Jesus gave us through the cross and resurrection and the believer’s call to resist the enemy (devil) to obtain personal freedom from oppression and bondage.  In scripture the devil and the demonic realm is equated with a snake.  It was a snake that spoke to Adam and Eve in the garden tempting them to sin against God.  See Genesis 3:1, 13.  The Apostle John described the devil by what he saw in the Revelation of the end times.  “And the huge dragon was cast down and out—that age-old serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, he who is the seducer (deceiver) of all humanity the world over; he was forced out and down to the earth and his angels were flung out along with him.”  Revelation 12:9 AMP.

The Apostle Paul explained the work of the cross as Jesus redeemed mankind by defeating all the works of darkness (the devil).  “Stripping the rulers and authorities of their power, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by means of the stake (cross).”  Colossians 2:15 Complete Jewish Bible, emphasis mine.  The Amplified version says, “[God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross].”  God had disarmed the snake by sticking his head, which was his weapon, to the inside of the box.  It was impossible for him to bite us.  Christ gave us all the weapons and authority needed to debunk and pull down the enemy’s hold on our lives and the lives of others.

We all came into this fallen world crippled by our sin nature.  We inherited the sins from past generations in our family that did not serve the Lord or they did not deal with the curses of sin on the family tree.  Sins of the father are passed down for several generations and if there is no repentance and breaking of those strongholds, they remain and continue crippling us from one generation to another.  See Exodus 34:7.  Jesus redeemed us from our bondage, giving us all we need to secure our complete freedom.  Unfortunately, some remain bound either because they don’t know how to be free, they are afraid to deal with spiritual matters or they don’t want to be free.

How often do we cower in fear because of the works of the devil?  How many times have we backed off from an opportunity to gain personal or corporate victory over bondages and injustice when the Lord told us the victory was ours?  Fear of the enemy will stifle any hope of victory we have.  It will keep the children of God bound and powerless, always floundering instead of staunchly opposing him.  Victory comes only by resisting every weapon of the enemy, leaning into the fray and wielding our supernatural weapon Jesus provided for us.

We have been given a powerful suit of armor, but that armor only covers the front of our body, not the back.  We were never created to cower or run from the enemy, we were created to face, resist and oppose the enemy because Christ has already defeated him!

Paul encouraged the Ephesian church.  “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].  Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.”  Ephesians 6:10-11.  AMP.

“Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].”  Ephesians 6:13.

We find the armor of the Lord described in the book of Ephesians in chapter 6:14-18.  We are to be girded about the waist with the belt of Truth, Biblical Truth.  Our breastplate is that of Righteousness (integrity, honesty and transparency; morality according to God’s Word, and our hearts completely surrendered to the Lord).  The shoes upon our feet are Peace, (representing the resolve that we trust in God, believe His Word and rely upon His strength).  Faith is our shield, (faith in the finished work of the cross, the power of the blood of Jesus to redeem and protect us, and the knowledge that He defeated the enemy, we are simply enforcing His victory).  The helmet of salvation guards: 1) our mind which is the mind of Christ Jesus, 2) eyes that look only to Him for our salvation, 3) ears which hear and obey His voice, 4) breath (life in and through Him) and 5) mouths which declare His Word.  Our armor is our defensive protection but our weapon is the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God).  His Word is our supernatural weapon used against every attack of the enemy.

We must know who we are in Christ Jesus and what He accomplished through His life, death and resurrection.  Once we are established securely in Him, We are His agents in the earth raised up to uphold and apply His Word against the lies of the devil.  His Word will sustain us and enable us to stand firm until the enemy surrenders and flees.  James 4:7 promises, “So be subject to God, Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.”

Lessons Learned From The Snake:

1)    Do not be afraid of his power because Christ has overcome all the works of darkness.  Colossians 2:15, 1 John 4:18, Revelation 12:7-10

2)    Seek the Lord for His strategy (wisdom) for victory in each battle.  James 1:5,                   1 Samuel 30:8, Judges Chapters 6 and 7.

3)    Put on your armor, understanding the purpose of each piece, which guarantees victory.  Ephesians 6:13-18

4)    Faith (strength) comes through studying/meditating the Word of God, intercession/prayer, praise/worship and waiting in His presence.  Isaiah 40:31, 2 Timothy 2:15

5)    We overcome by the blood of the Lamb, by declaring our testimony, and by being willing and able to die for the faith.  See Revelation 12:11.

We are not inherently entitled to victory without participating in the battle.  We were created for this purpose.  We are in a battle for our faith, our family and the nations.  There is no true freedom apart from Christ Jesus.  American soldiers have been willing to go to war and die for our national freedom.  Are we willing to fight the spiritual battles necessary to secure our spiritual freedom and that of others and die to ourselves in order to obey the will of God?  Conscientious objectors will not inherit the Kingdom.  The world is looking for the answers only we can provide.  God is depending on us.  It is time for the church to take up our sword and fight!