There is a story circulating on the Internet about two teenage girls who asked their father if they could go see a movie. Their father denied their request because the movie contained some inappropriate material. Since the teenage girls did not believe it to be a big deal and whined to their father about it, the dad decided to make an illustration out of the brownies he was baking. The smell of the brownies was mouth-watering to the girls. The dad told them that they were made of the best ingredients except there was one organic ingredient he put in the batch of brownies. Just a tiny bit from the backyard lawn and I am not talking about wheatgrass. The girls were grossed out and rejected the brownies and got the moral of the story. Why tolerate a movie with impurity in it but reject mouth-watering brownies tainted with a tiny bit of impurity?

 

In Joshua Chapter 7, we have an account of Israel being defeated at Ai. Joshua had just led Israel to victory as they conquered Jericho, which was promised by God in Joshua Chapter 6. Israel went from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat in very little time (Joshua 7:2-5). Why would they suffer such a defeat after being victorious? The Bible tells us there was sin in the camp (Joshua 7:10,11). Achan sinned when he took the devoted things after the battle of Jericho.  Because of the sin of one man the whole camp of Israel was tainted, just like those brownies with a little impurity in them. 36 men were killed and Israel was dejected in defeat (Joshua 7:5). God gave warning to Joshua that without removing the sin from the camp, He would not consecrate Israel and they would continue to be defeated by their enemies (Joshua 7:10-13). Achan’s sin costed him and his family their lives (Joshua 7:24-25).  We cannot take sin lightly nor categorize it. There are no sins that are small to God. We must purge all impurities from our lives so we do not become tainted like those batch of brownies. Joshua and Israel had to remove sin before they could be pleasing to God. We must always remember that a little impurity in our lives spoils the whole batch!

 

 

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A man struck a match to see if his gas tank was empty.  IT WASN’T!!

A man sped up to see if he could beat a train to the crossing.  HE DIDN’T!!

A man touched an electric wire to see if it was charged.  IT WAS!!

A man quit coming to church to see if God meant business.  HE DID!!

Every year people fall over Yosemites Nevada Falls despite a warning sign, “If you fall You WILL DIE.” THEY DO!!

 

There are some things in this life we don’t need to test. They are certain.

Children need to know that when given instructions by their parents that they comply without question or there will be consequences.

Christians need to know the necessity of doing God’s will as given in His word. 

 

God tells us what to do. If we follow his instructions we will live. If not as a natural consequence of disobedience we will die.

 

Mark 16:16‑17

16 "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”

 

Numbers 26:61‑62

But Nadab and Abihu died when they offered strange fire before the Lord.

 

Joshua 24:15

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

 

 

 

 

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We are fortunate to live in this beautiful agricultural valley where each year we are able to witness the crops that continue provide us with fresh food. Here in Ripon each spring we enjoy the almond blossoms that adorn the trees and promise the harvest that will come in the fall.

After several years of drought, we have been thankfully blessed with ample rainfall.  However, along with some of those rain storms, we also had severe winds that caused many almond trees to topple. As I walked through the orchards, I noticed that some of the trees that were down were mature trees, some were young trees, and trees that were in their prime production years. A few of the trees that were down were lost because the trees next to them had blown over and knocked the neighboring tree down. The cost to the farmers over the years of lost revenue will be huge.

As I considered the trees, it reminded me of spiritual things. Sometimes when the winds of hard times come, it can cause Christians to fall. Just like the trees, this can happen to older members, new converts, and those of middle age. These Christians can look spiritually very healthy and strong, but because their roots are not securely grounded, or there is unseen disease (sin) in their lives, or the cares of the world are too great, they give up on the Lord and return to their old way of life in the world. Many times when one brother quits, it influences others, particularly those in their families to leave the church as well. 

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus tells the parable of the two houses. One house was built on a rock. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house, and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.” The other house was built on the sand. “And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand, And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.”

None of us are immune to the pitfalls and tragedies of life. If difficult situations have not come to you, they will. The important question is, are you firmly rooted in God and striving to the best of your ability to do His will so that you will be able to withstand life’s trials. If you are not living the life you know you should, you still have time to make things right before you are flattened by the winds of trouble. Make the commitment today to build on the rock. Your spiritual future depends on it.

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This time of the year the foothills of California are beautiful. The leaves on the trees are fresh and new, the meadows are carpets of green, and the streams are full and flowing with the recent snow melt. As I was driving through the mountains this past week, I noticed a huge sheer rock along the side of the road that had purple lupines and golden poppies tenaciously hanging on to the rock’s face. It makes you wonder how anything could grow in such harsh and unfriendly conditions. It started me thinking about people I have known who have had very difficult circumstances happen in their lives, but have continued to bloom and be beautiful for all to see.

My grandmother, Ozella Mimms Lee, was a person I remember who was always kind, gracious, and thankful for all the good things the Lord had blessed her with in spite of very trying times in her life. In the early 1920, she was a mother of seven children, aged 12 years to a few months old when she became ill with a severe case of the flu. Her husband tried to nurse her back to health, but he caught the flu and died within just a few days. So, there she was on a sandy farm in West Texas with seven children to raise and no husband. Fortunately, she had many brothers, sisters, and extended family near by to assist her, plus she was not afraid of hard work. Like many mothers, she was also willing to do without to see that her children had what they needed. She never remarried, and raised those seven children on her own. One of her sons became a deacon in the church, one son was a preacher and missionary, two sons became elders, and all three girls lived faithful Christian lives. She too was a faithful member of the Lord’s church until the day she died.

Grandma Lee had a choice to make. She could let the storms of life cause her to be bitter and resentful, or she could work with what she had, and ask for God’s care along the way. I’m sure she had dark and difficult days, but she faithfully persevered, and I think her life was a major success. When we had hard times, we must also look to the Lord and “keep on keeping on”.

John 16:33  Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.”

Revelation 2:10b “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

 

 

 

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To watch a master artist, craftsman, or tradesman practice his craft has always been an enjoyable experience for me. My own father was a woodworker. With patience and attention to detail, he could transform rugged chunks of wood into beautiful and useful creations. Once, while he was in Oregon, he visited a shop that specialized in myrtle wood art and utensils. As was his custom, he struck up a conversation with the owner, who gave him an off-round piece of myrtle wood that he had planned to throw away because it was going to take too much time and effort to make it into something that would be profitable. My dad brought that discard home, and with his loving touch changed that useless object into a lovely salad bowl. I still have that bowl in my home today and admire it and my dad for his talent and generosity. When I think about it, he raised me with the same love and care that he put into that piece of wood. I am not saying he didn’t get stern with me when he felt I needed it, but his love and Christian example was and continues to be a major influence in my life.

Spiritually speaking, we must allow our Master, Christ, to shape and mold us into what He wants us to be. Over and over in Scripture we read about Christ’s compassion for others.  (Matthew 9:36; Matthew 14:14) We must be compassionate. Christ was submissive to the Father’s will. (Matthew 26:42) We must be submissive to the Father’s will. Christ loved the unlovable. (Matthew 10:8) We must love the unlovable. Christ prayed. (Mark 14:32) We must pray.  Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable, and perfect.”

Sometimes we might see ourselves as useless and untalented in the Kingdom. However, like the piece of wood in the master wood workers hands, we must, without resistance, allow Christ to form us into what He desires. Let Him smooth out our flaws and rough spots and make us into His likeness. It may sometimes be uncomfortable or even painful, but the end result is well worth any temporary afflictions today. We can become His creation.

The hymn “Have Thine Own Way” by Adelaide Pollard, tells us: Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Thou are the Potter: I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.” Each day let’s allow Christ to mold and make us into His image.

 

 

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600 West Milgeo -  Ripon California 95366

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