Please join us in person or on live stream on June 5th at 6:00 pm for an area wide singing.

By Mike Riley

On a recent beautiful warm Saturday morning, a Christian friend and I were having breakfast at a local restaurant. At a nearby table, we noticed a young woman sitting quietly reading her Bible. She was absorbed in the text, occasionally looking up to consider what she had read. She never said a word, but her heart and priorities were visible to everyone in that restaurant. It was a gentle, positive, and silent influence.
She was not ashamed of Christ nor of His New Testament (Hebrews 9:11-15 KJV). She neither preached a sermon nor sang a song. She was willing to be identified with the Savior, yet she did not need to announce that allegiance.
In our attempts to share the message of Jesus, we must eventually use words, because ultimately words are needed to present the gospel (John 14:23; Acts 2:14 KJV; Acts 11:11-14 KJV; Acts 16:14 ESV; 2 Peter 3:1-2 KJV; Jude 1:17 KJV). But we can also learn from the example of this woman.
There are times when the quietness of our everyday actions speak louder than our words, revealing our love for the Lord Philippians 1:21-27  21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 
. In our desire to share Christ with a sinful world, let’s not ignore the power of our silent influence. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8   5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
 

By Mike Riley

Mordecai, the cousin, guardian, and surrogate father of Esther, has always been one of this writer’s favorite Bible characters. Not only is Mordecai an example of courage and great conviction, but an individual who knew how to read a difficult situation and respond to it with great wisdom. As we recall the story of Esther, it was Mordecai who engineered her entrance into the court of the Persian king Ahasuerus (known in secular history as Xerxes) and her ultimate elevation as Ahasuerus’ queen (Esther 2:15-17). Mordecai made a mortal enemy in the person of Haman, one of the Persian princes who saw his position as a favorite son threatened by the presence of the Jews among his people, and by Mordecai in particular. Let us note the following text: “After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were within the king’s gate bowed and paid homage to Haman, for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai would not bow or pay homage” (Esther 3:1-2 – NKJV).

Why Mordecai Would Not Bow or Pay Homage

Let’s focus on the last sentence of the above reading. We might wonder why Mordecai did not bow or pay homage. After all, was not Haman was in a position of authority? Was he not a prince, promoted by the king? Did not the king decree that Haman should be shown honor? What would have been wrong in Mordecai bowing to this prince? Are we not told in Scripture to give honor to whom honor is due? (Romans 13:7). To properly answer these questions, we have to consider the original context. What Haman was demanding of the people here was not merely the justified honor to be paid to a civil authority figure. What he sought, from the perspective of Persian custom, was to be worshiped as deity. In a word, to be honored as a god. This Mordecai refused to do.

An Example of Daniel’s Friends

Mordecai’s action was not unlike that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, the three friends of Daniel who refused to bow to the image of himself that Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon erected.

 When the king threatened the three men with public immolation in a furnace if they did not comply with his order, the trio replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18 – NKJV).

Having Courage and Conviction in an Age of Compromise

We live in an age of compromise, of tolerance, of “going along with the crowd to get along.” Confronted with the dilemma Mordecai faced, many people in our world today would simply say, “What would it matter just this once? I know Haman isn’t really a god, but if he wants to think so, and obeying his order will keep me in his good graces, what difference would it make?” Mordecai refused. He would not compromise his faith even for a man with the authority to build a gallows and have him hung from it (Esther 5:14). As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego told Nebuchadnezzar, “If you’re going to throw us in the furnace for not bowing to your idol, go ahead, because we are not bowing,” In essence, Mordecai’s action told Haman, “Hang me if you will, but I’ll not give you what belongs to my God.” How often are we guilty of bowing to the “gods” of this world? When we accept the world’s values without challenge, when we submit to common principles at the expense of holiness, when we set temporal things higher in our priorities than the things of Christ, are we not doing exactly what Mordecai refused to do?

Conclusion

Brethren, God’s people must be people of courage and conviction! When the world invites us to dine at its table, Christians must decline (1 Corinthians 10:21). Like Mordecai, let’s never be afraid to stand for the truth, always refusing to conform to the world (Romans 12:2).

By Mike Riley

I received the following thoughts by an unknown author via email this morning from one of my Christian friends and wanted to share them with my blog readers. These thoughts could very well be my thoughts, as I’m entering the latter years of my life. The thoughts expressed are something to seriously think about this day and every day that God allow us to live (Acts 17:24-25):
You know, time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. And yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all.…..
And I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams… But, here it is, the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise.…. How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my babies go? And where did my youth go?
I remember well….seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like. But, here it is..…my friends are retired and really getting gray.…they move slower and I see an older person now. Lots are in better shape than me.…but, I see the great change.…Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant.…but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be.
Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore.…it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t on my own free will….I just fall asleep where I sit!
And so, now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did…..
But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last.…this I know, that when it’s over.…its over….Yes , I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done….things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime….
 
So, if you’re not in your winter yet.…let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!!
Life goes by very quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not!
You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life.…so, live for good today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember.…and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past.
“Life is a gift to you from God. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.
Make it a “fantastic one!“   Live life well — Enjoy today — Do something fun — Be happy — Be thankful…..And Praise God For all He’s given you! (Psalm 150:6; James 1:17; cf. John 3:27).

By Kevin Cauley

“O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD” is the great proclamation of Jeremiah (22:29). When we look on all the problems that the world faces today. Whether we should wage war against one country or another; whether we should spend money on this program or that; whether an individual will stop drinking and reform his life. We shout from the rooftops with Jeremiah “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD!” Herein lies the solution to all of earth’s problems regardless of how great or small the problem may be. Do we truly listen to the word of the Lord? Do we truly read it for what it is worth and bow ourselves in obeisance to it? Therein lies the greatest problem for all mankind-the attitude of not listening to God’s word. And listening implies obedience from God’s standpoint. If one has not obeyed, one has not truly listened. “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD!”
I remember as a high school student being asked the question, “If you were granted one wish, what would it be?” Those who wished for “world peace” were always the ones who stood out as seeming wiser than others. However, I now know exactly what to wish for. My wish would be for the world to listen to God’s word and obey it. What a simple, but profound solution to all the problems of mankind whether big or small. In truth, there is only one problem that is truly a problem-the refusal of man to heed the word of God. “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD!”
Does not God look down upon this earth as an experienced father would look at his teenage children and say, “If they would only listen to me, I would be able to help them?” But in rebellion and stubbornness, we refuse to listen. Would that every man would take up God’s challenge to them as found in Malachi 3:10, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Go ahead and take up God’s challenge. Hear his word and obey it and see if he won’t bless you! Don’t you believe that every good father who has ever had teenage children wants them to understand this-that life for them would be so much easier if they would just listen! This is the message that God has for us as His creation. “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD!”
We sing the children’s song, “The wise man built his house upon a rock.” Do we listen to the very song we teach our children? Jesus said, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. . .” (Matthew 7:24).
The wise man listens to Jesus and acts upon what he hears. Who does Jesus define as the foolish man? “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. . .” (Matthew 7:26). Wise or foolish–the choice stands before us today. “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD!”
“O, Earth, Earth, Earth . . .”
Are you with sorrows bent down low?
Do you have troubles that plague you so?
Would you have worries and cares be gone?
Do you, for peace, wait all the day long?
Listen, dear one, to the message sublime.
Incline your ear to the word Divine.
Does sickness knock each day at dawn?
Do friends forsake and are loved ones gone?
Can you turn with ease upon your bed?
Or does each movement fill with dread?
Hearken, sweet friend, to the One from Above.
Hear the blessed word of God.
Does money get you feeling low?
Do you wonder each day where it goes?
Can you find a dime to spare at noon?
Do you feel that all you do is swoon?
Haste to hear the voice so sweet.
God’s word, will your problems meet.
Has someone near and dear passed on?
Does life remove the faintest song?
What troubled cares arise within?
What distant memories wear your soul thin?
Turn to Him in such distress.
Let His words your soul caress.
What great problem can arise?
What great difficulty surmise?
What awful hurtful things may come?
What tearful soulless evil haunt?
Be it pain, peril, death or sword,
“O earth, earth, earth hear the WORD of the LORD!”

By Mike Riley

The following barbs of wisdom come from The Sword and Staff publication, 2009, Volume 47, Number 1; pg. 17 (appropriate Scriptures and related articles have been added):
• You reap what you sow, and also you reap what you don’t sow (you suffer the consequences of not doing anything – Matthew 25:24-30).
• When a nation has lost its morals, it has lost its moors and is like a ship adrift at sea.
• According to the book of Proverbs, a child may be foolish and if not corrected will grow up to become a full-fledged fool (Proverbs 15:5).
• We only help people, in the long run, when we help them to help themselves.
• We lose our independence and liberties to the degree that we do not accept our responsibilities (Gal. 5:1).
• After the cattle have gotten out, it is a little late to think about shutting the gate.
• If deeds speak louder than words, some people aren’t saying much and can hardly be heard.
• Let us not look to psychiatry as the answer to our spiritual problems, but to the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Acts 20:32; cf. Acts 9:26-31).
• Many “mega” churches don’t seem to be “mega” when it comes to doctrine. 
• If we confess our sins, but don’t forsake them (Proverbs 28:13), the only purpose it will serve is testimony against us in the courts of heaven.
• Many times, the person who has the least to say is the most eager to say it (Proverbs 17:28; cf. Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 11:12; Proverbs 13:3).
• If we don’t live within our means, we will soon find life demeaning (Luke 15:11-16).  If you don’t take that first strong drink, you won’t have to worry about the consequences of the second, of the third, and of all that follow.
• People who have “an ax to grind” don’t cut it with the Lord (Romans 12:18-19; Colossians 3:8).
• If you want to find your place under the sun, move on out from under the shade and get to work (1 Corinthians 15:58; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:6-9).