Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Birds of a Feather

As a teenager I preferred summer. Now that I am older, I appreciate every season. During autumn God paints a kaleidoscope of colors in the forests of central Ontario. But he also instilled the instinct to fly south into many birds.

Look up into the daytime sky and you will see flocks of birds. It is a vivid picture of the well-worn saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” They join forces in preparation for their arduous flight south. Gulls invade corn fields and peck at the shortened stalks. Canada geese grace the skies with their v-formations. Sometimes they fly in the wrong direction but they eventually head south. Starlings congregate together for company on their long journey. I spotted some birds lined up on telephone wires.

Soon all birds, needing to be in warmer climates, will be gone. Likewise, some day believers will rise at the same time to meet Jesus in the air. What a sight that will be!

“According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17, NIV).

Are you ready? Those who remain will face the judgement of God. The chance to repent and be saved will be gone forever.


Monday, October 24, 2011

What Kind of Tree are You?

When we moved to our present house fourteen years ago, a tall tree grew just inside the driveway. Three thick limbs stretched up to the sky. One limb pointed toward our house, the second toward our neighbour’s, and the third toward the road. We thought a tree growing in the driveway strange. Yet we admired its grandeur.

I don’t know when the bark began to split. But I didn’t think anything of it. Eventually I wondered why there were so many carpenter ants at the base of the tree. When woodpeckers began to peck holes into all three limbs, I knew they were after the ants.

From a distance the tree still appeared strong and beautiful. Close up was a different story. Last winter woodpeckers had penetrated deep into the inner core, well past the centre of one of the limbs. Now we did not want to be responsible for a limb falling onto our neighbour’s house. The tree had to go. After the tree feller cut it down, we mourned because of the rotten interior. At some point a strong wind would have toppled it over.

That tree caused me to ponder the difference between believers and non-believers. At birth all of us are born in sin. Like the inside of all trees we are spiritually dead. “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:10, 11, NIV). That is why sin crouches at the heart of everyone, believer and non-believer alike. Sometimes our own fleshly desires tempt us. Other times it may be the world or Satan and his demons.

Like the tree whose bark split we are tempted to sin. Ants and woodpeckers try to pierce our heart. James cautions us, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:13–15, NIV).

Paul writes to believers: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).

Have you acknowledged that you are a sinner saved by grace? If not, cast yourself on the Lord and cry for mercy. Jesus is mighty to save, and the Holy Spirit will guard your heart and mind.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Fit for Faith

You’re invited to the launch celebration of Fit for Faith – 7 weeks to improved spiritual & physical health on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011.
To join the fun, please follow these simple steps:
1. On Tuesday, October 11th place your order for Fit for Faith through Amazon.com
2. Retrieve the Amazon Order Confirmation Number from your order.
3. Visit http://kimberleypayne.wordpress.com to discover all the gifts that can be yours.
4. Email your name & Amazon Order Confirmation Number to kimberleypayne [at] nexicom [dot] net
5. After submitting your information, an email will be sent to you containing the information to access the Bonus Gifts. Choose all the free gifts you like.
Note: Gifts and prizes are available only on October 11th

Kimberley Payne's Virtual Book Launch

Kimberley Payne, author and speaker, is launching her book Fit for Faith - 7 weeks to improved spiritual & physical health on Tuesday, October 11th at Amazon.com. You can help Kimberley achieve ‘best seller’ status by purchasing the book at Amazon.com on that day!

About the book:

This book unites physical health and spiritual health through a 7-week program to lose weight and develop a deeper relationship with God. It is a reference on cardiovascular exercise, strength training, prayer, healthy eating, Bible study, flexibility exercise and journal writing.

About the Author:

Kimberley Payne is a motivational speaker and author. Her writings relate raising a family, pursuing a healthy lifestyle, and everyday experiences to building a relationship with God. Through her work, Kimberley hopes to inspire women to live happier, healthier lives that glorify God. Kimberley is a former personal trainer and has worked in the designing and counselling fields of weight control, stress management, self esteem improvement and wellness programs. She enjoys recreational activities with her husband and two children near Peterborough, Ontario. You can visit her website at www.kimberleypayne.com

Buy Fit for Faith – 7 weeks to improved spiritual & physical on Tuesday, October 11th and receive loads of FREE gifts from many generous supporters.

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These free gifts are valid on Tuesday, October 11th only.

This Best Seller book launch has been coordinated with the help of the John 3:16 Marketing Network and many other generous supporters. The free gifts are deliverable electronically over the Internet or by email by individual authors and supporters. They are not in any way associated with, nor deliverable by, Amazon.com

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Circle of Life and Death

While visiting my son’s place, I loved to go to the park. Every day I hoped to catch a glimpse of a mother duck and her eight ducklings. One day I saw them again. After five weeks they had grown almost to their mother’s size.

Those ducklings reminded me of the circle of life and death. This cycle is quite obvious in the backwoods. For years a tall dead pine marked the edge of our cottage property. Then one day it fell. Soon another pine began growing in its place. Down the lake I recently spied a cedar tree growing several feet above the ground in the soil of a fallen tree.

Life begets death in this sin-cursed earth. How eager I am to live forever with God in the new heaven and new earth! There the redeemed will be of one mind—loving and serving God. The world, the flesh, and the devil will never be lurking in the shadows waiting to entice one to sin. All creation will rejoice and praise God forever.

I do not understand why some believers bought with the precious blood of Jesus look forward to utopia on this present earth. According to those people, life and death will still exist. Babies will still be born with a sin nature. Sure, Satan may be muzzled, but the flesh and worldly influences will still entice the unregenerate to sin. How can that world compare to the joyful realities in the new heaven and new earth?

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14, NIV).

I believe the Holy Spirit is speaking about the new heaven and the new earth, not this sin-cursed earth.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Lost Ducklings

Emerging from the safety of the bushes, a mother duck waddled across the sidewalk to the upper pond. Eight tiny ducklings followed her into the water. At the time my husband and I were taking our grandson for a wagon ride at the park near our son’s house. Since we would be visiting them for awhile, we knew we would be giving him many more wagon rides.

Although the park had the usual playground equipment, it also had a walkway around two huge ponds. Between the upper and lower ponds lay a gentle slope with bushes and a waterfall. Our grandson looked forward to seeing the ponds because of the many ducks that lived there.

A couple of weeks passed before we saw the mother and her ducklings again. How much the ducklings had grown! This time the mother was leading her young to the water of the lower pond. The group slowly waddled down the hill toward the larger pond. The mother slipped into the water. Soon the ducklings followed her. I counted, “One, two, three…” “Two are missing,” I exclaimed. “What could have happened to them?”

We did not have long to wonder. Soon the two stragglers appeared in front of a bush near the upper pond and began to waddle toward the others. Immediately, two of their siblings climbed out of the water to join the stragglers. As soon as they met, the four ducklings waddled toward the water and slipped into the water of the lower pond. Then the whole family glided together through the glistening water.

What an excellent picture of how believers should support those in need, especially other Christians! Paul writes to the Galatians, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NIV). Moreover James urges, “Love your neighbour as yourself” (James 2:8, NIV). Those ducklings reminded me of how the church should operate. Peter Scholtes wrote the hymn, “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love,” based on John 13:35. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


Friday, June 24, 2011

The Persistent Squirrel

Squirrels live in the woods behind my house. They must find enough food there. Yet a few years ago they discovered the bird feeder in our yard. Scurrying up the tree, they perched precariously on top of the feeder. Last year my husband moved the bird feeder to our over-sized obsolete satellite dish. When the squirrels managed to find it, we were amazed. We could not understand how they could reach it.

This year my husband saw a squirrel leap through the air from our neighbour’s tree, carefully walk across the mesh dish, and jump onto the top of the feeder. After eating some seeds and scattering others on the ground below, the squirrel dropped down onto the grass. I was glad my husband had witnessed that squirrel. Now we understood how those squirrels reached a bird feeder, dangling in the air.

Since we wanted birds to eat the seeds, not squirrels, my husband had a bright idea. He hung the bird feeder to the large arm at the back of the satellite dish. The next day he looked out our back bedroom window and saw a squirrel perched on the top of the feeder. We wondered how it could get there. What persistence! What danger! That squirrel knew what it wanted and risked falling from a high distance to get it. Those squirrels persevered to gain the prize—bird seed. God promises believers will persevere for the ultimate prize—eternal life with him. And he gives us the strength to do it.

The Apostle Paul viewed the Christian life as a race. Likewise, the writer to the Hebrews urged his readers “to run with perseverance the race marked out” for them (Hebrews 12:1, NIV). We do this by fixing our eyes on Jesus, who endured the shame of the cross for the joy to follow. “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3, NIV). Those whose spiritual eyes remain focused on Jesus will persevere to the end.


Monday, May 30, 2011

The Intruder

“Help! There’s a frog in the living room,” I yelled.

My husband ran into the house and calmly replied, “It’s a toad.”

“How are you going to get it out?” I asked.

Without a word he quickly picked it up and carried it outside. Our front door had only been open a few minutes while we loaded up the car for a trip. In that short time the toad had hopped up the front stairs and into the house.

That toad reminded me of Cain and the sneaky nature of sin. His brother Abel had offered the Lord the firstborn of his flock whereas Cain had brought produce from his garden. When the Lord accepted Abel’s offering but not his, he became very angry.

God asked him, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:6, 7, NIV).

Just like the toad, sin was crouching at Cain’s door. Likewise, sin tempts us today to rebel against God. If we yield, we become slaves to sin. But if we resist, we obey God and become slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:15–18). Only by God’s grace, will we yearn to turn from our wicked ways. If we continue to do only what we want, we will be like Cain, following our own evil desires.

Nobody likes the idea of being a slave. Yet everyone is either a slave in Satan’s kingdom or else God’s kingdom. How much better for the Holy Spirit to draw us into God’s kingdom as his slaves! What irresistible grace!


Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Pileated Woodpecker

My husband and I have a mature cedar tree growing just inside the edge of our driveway. Three tall limbs sprout out in diverse directions close to the ground. One limb leans toward our house; the second points toward our neighbour’s driveway; and the third stretches out over our driveway. For many years I admired this tree until ants invaded its base. Not long afterward woodpeckers began pecking holes in the tree. Once I even spied a small woodpecker in the act.

We hoped the tree would survive the consistent onslaught of fresh holes—until a few weeks ago. As we drove past the tree into the garage, we noticed a huge hole, egg-shaped, about eight inches high and four inches wide. Chunks of wood lay in a heap at the base of the tree. Only a pileated woodpecker could have made such a huge hole so quickly. At that moment we knew the tree was completely rotten inside. It had to go.

People are born in sin; we are like that tree—completely rotten inside. That is why God declares everyone to be spiritually dead. This includes our wills. Paul writes, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:1, 2, NIV).

The Holy Spirit is the only one capable of restoring spiritually dead people to spiritual life. Praise God! He did it for me. Has he done it for you?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

For Good or Evil

The weather in early spring appears to engage in a tug of war between cold and hot. I watch the snow gradually disappear from the yard and wait with anticipation for the first robin. To me, seeing that bird means the arrival of spring.

But this year spring brings a serious problem—moss. Fourteen years ago I thought the occasional outcrop of moss between the interlocking bricks attractive. Now the moss has grown so prolific that it has almost covered some of the bricks. If left unattended, my patio will eventually disappear.

Moss reminds me of yeast in the Bible. There are two ways of thinking about it, however. Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. Once he told them, “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Matthew 13:33, NIV). Here the yeast is good because it represents the spread of the Gospel and the growth of God’s kingdom.
In contrast, on another occasion, Jesus chided his disciples for not understanding his warning: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6, NIV). They thought he was upset because they had forgotten to bring bread with them on their boat ride. After Jesus reminded them of his miraculous feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand, they finally understood. “He was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:12, NIV).

What kind of yeast are you? Is Jesus using you to enlarge his kingdom? Or is Satan ecstatic because you are encouraging others to remain in their sin and rebellion against God Almighty?


Friday, February 11, 2011

The Monster Storm

Last week a monster storm roared throughout North America. It began in Texas, left its mark on the central U.S. and pounded the eastern seaboard. Then it entered southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, until it ended up in Newfoundland.

Meteorologists tracked the speed and direction of the storm so that they could warn residents when it would arrive in their area. Those living in Toronto, Ontario, knew the storm would hit them just after midnight on Wednesday Feb 2, 2011.

My husband and I travelled to the centre of Toronto that Tuesday evening. Thankfully, we returned home before driving became treacherous. When we left at 10:30 pm, a blizzard was engulfing nearby Hamilton. Meanwhile in Toronto, people continued on with their daily routines. But, as promised, the snow began to fall after midnight and persisted into Wednesday morning.

That experience started me thinking about Jesus’ return. Like the snow storm, it will be business as usual right up until the end (Matthew 24:37–39). This means some people will be ready for Jesus’ coming while others will not (Matthew 25:1–13). I know a few who deliberately prepared for the storm by grocery shopping on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.

There is one major difference between that storm and Jesus’ second coming, however. We knew the exact time of the storm’s arrival. In contrast, no one knows when Jesus will return. “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36, NIV). Why waste time trying to figure out when Jesus is coming back? Instead let us reach out to those around us with the good news of salvation in Jesus alone while there is still time.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Hidden Mouse

Three months ago we closed the cottage. For years, this mainly involved shutting off the propane system and locking the doors. After installing a water system, closing became much more complicated. One thing has never changed, however. Every fall I clear a ditch of leaves so that water will flow freely behind the cottage, not under it. If I don’t, we will have a very wide stream flowing underneath the cottage the following spring.

That is why I was sitting on the ground and jabbing the underside of a thick tree root with a small metal poker. After a few minutes, a frightened mouse ran out from under the root and scurried beneath the cottage. This is as close as I would ever like to get to a mouse.

That mouse reminded me of our supposed hidden sins. I unwittingly kept on poking until the mouse felt the need to flee for its life. At some point, God will deliberately expose our sins because no one can hide from the Lord. Eventually everyone else will learn about our sins, also.

There are many Bible verses on this topic. For example: “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23, NIV). “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known” (Luke 12:2, NIV).

The bad news is that we are all guilty of sinning against God. No one can point a finger at another person. The good news is: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV). Have you asked God to forgive you for your sins?