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Devotions for Life

Oh For The Good Old Days

Ponder: Were they really that good?
Scripture: “Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For you do not inquire wisely concerning this”
(Ecclesiastes 5:10).
I remember when working on my own car was standard operating procedure. When I popped the hood, everything was
easily accessible (well, relatively easily anyway). Today it’s a maze of wires and hoses. Nearly everything is computerized.
My shade-tree mechanic days are long since gone. Oh, for the good old days!
But would I really want to go back to the days when I had to change oil every 2000 miles, and do a complete tune-up
every 12,000 miles? Was it really better when a vehicle was sent to the junk yard before it reached 100,000 miles?
Nowadays, spark plugs last 100,000 miles, and the vehicle, properly maintained, may reach 200,000!
King Solomon wrote, “Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For you do not inquire wisely concerning this” (Ecclesiastes 7:10). Is this teaching needed in the church today? Assuredly so! Some remember the “protracted meetings” that lasted
several weeks and resulted in dozens of baptisms. Now we have mostly week-end meetings. A Sunday-through-Wednesday meeting is a
major event. We feel fortunate if the local brethren attend. Visitors from the community are rare, and conversions are the exception rather than the rule. Our culture has changed. We can pine for the good old days, or we can adapt and move forward.
I also remember when it was commonplace for brethren to step outside for a smoke between Bible class and the assembly. I remember when it was presumed that the preacher would move every couple of years. In some congregations people of color were not warmly welcomed, or at best were patronized. Those “good old days” really weren’t so good. Thank God for improvement in these and other areas!
Like it or not, we live in the present. There are good and bad things about the present, just as there were good and bad things in the past. Learn from the past, cherish the good memories, but live in the present! May God continue to help us to become more Christ-like every day.
Song: “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand”
Prayer: Father, help us to be thankful for the blessings of the present time. May we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. In His name, Amen.
Joe Slater (Justin, TX)
jaslater1954@gmail.com


Intellectual Honesty

“I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” (John 3:12 NIV).

The eighteenth century French philosopher, Denis Diderot wrote, “Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: ‘My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.’ The stranger was a theologian” (1713-1784). He lost his faith and part of the reason was that the theologians of his day gave no freedom to explore new ideas, and that he was persecuted for his quest for truth. He was taught you had to have a blind faith to please God. Unfortunately, he became an atheist.

But what was he saying in this quotation? Wasn’t he criticizing the theologians for refusing to allow others to use the light they had to guide them in the vast forest of this world? I sympathize with Diderot although I believe the path he took was misguided, yet not without the help of foolish theologians.

We are blessed with good translations of the Bible, wonderful works on science proving the existence of God, and tools to research the Bible so that we don’t have to depend on “experts” to tell us the meaning of God’s word. You don’t need to “know Greek or Hebrew” if you know how to use a variety of Bible translations.

Today, we are freer to express our opinions and beliefs regarding anything and not fear being excommunicated as heretics. If Diderot lived today he could have seen God doesn’t demand blind faith, but intellectual honesty.

Blind faith keeps people under the thumb of powerful religious leaders. The Lord asks us to explore the adventures of faith. God says, “Come now, let us reason together. . .” (Isa. 1:18). Even Jesus said if you don’t believe Him, believe the works He performed that you might know He came from the Father (Jn. 10:38).

The New Testament also appeals to the fulfillment of prophecy relating to the coming of Jesus, His birth, death and resurrection. An intellectually honest person would see that these prophecies, such as Isa. 53, written hundreds of years before Jesus was born could not have been fulfilled by accident. God orchestrated time to bring about the fulfillment of those prophecies so that we might believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I challenge everyone to examine anything I teach or preach and show me where I am wrong, and if after studying what I’ve presented from God’s word and it is found to be true, I ask them if they are totally honest with themselves to obey it – not because I said it, but because it is God’s will.

We must follow the light we have, and more light will be given to us.

Hymn: “Send The Light”

Dear Father in heaven, give us more sincerity and honesty with ourselves and especially with You. May we be willing to change whatever is amiss, and to correct our thinking about anything You have taught us in Your word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Rob Redden, Arroyo Grande, CA (rredden604@aol.com)



Rod And Staff

Ponder: How can a rod and staff comfort me?

Scripture: “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4b, NKJV).

In his younger days, David had shepherded his father Jesse’s flock. As king, he was the shepherd of Israel. In both cases, his over-all performance was quite good. Still, this shepherd needed his own Shepherd, and the Lord was it.

Shepherds carried two wooden instruments. One was basically a big club to ward off predators. The other was a long pole, sometimes with a crook at one end. A shepherd used it to help him walk, especially in rough terrain. Both are mentioned in Psalm 23:4, but scholars disagree as to which Hebrew word refers to what instrument.

We might not immediately think of either as being an instrument of comfort; yet David said he was comforted by them. What would he have found comforting about God’s rod and staff?

First, there is the fact that God would protect him, just as a shepherd protects his sheep. David certainly needed God’s protection from his enemies – not only foreign armies, but treasonous subjects, including his own children! But he also needed God to defend him against Satan’s temptations. We need such protection too, do we not? “Let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them” (Psalm 5:11).

Second, knowing that God recognized him as one of His own would be of great comfort to David, as it should be to the people of God today. As the sheep went into the fold, they would pass under the shepherd’s rod/staff and be counted (see Leviticus 27:32). Even so, the Lord knew David and recognized him as belonging to Him, as a sheep in His flock. We still have this same assurance. Paul told Timothy, and by extension tells us, that “the Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19).

God’s rod and staff comforted David, and they still comfort us. We take enjoy the assurance that the Lord will defend us, and that He recognizes us as His own. What more could we ask?

Song: Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us”

Prayer: God of all comfort, we happily confess that You are the giver of all that is good. We are thankful that we can rest with the full assurance that You are with us, that You recognize us as Your own, and that you will defend us from Satan’s onslaughts. May we always be comforted by Your rod and Your staff. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Joe Slater (Justin, TX)
jaslater1954@gmail.com