A Very Human Hero

Inspired by Rev 7:9-12

– by Shirley Ralston

Judges 6:14–15 (HCSB) —“The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you?” He said to Him, “Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.”

Everybody loves a hero. It is evident in literature and film, regardless of culture. Heroes are appealing because they are often ordinary people empowered to become extraordinary. Gideon was such a man. When the Angel of the Lord tasked Gideon to deliver the Israelites, his reaction was essentially, “Who, me?” In his own strength he felt woefully inadequate for the job. Even the appearance of God did not quell his insecurities. But as the story unfolds, through the power of God he becomes the mighty warrior the Lord calls him in Judges 6:12.

When you feel inadequate in the face of an insurmountable task, remember the Lord’s faithfulness to Gideon. His presence and power also enable us to be extraordinary. A. B. Simpson wrote, “God is preparing His heroes. And when the opportunity comes, He can fit them into their places in a moment. And the world will wonder where they came from.” Gideon’s story reminds us that God helps us all to be very human heroes.

Shirley is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and an expatriate living in Papua New Guinea. Contact

God’s Honor Society

Inspired by Rev 7:9-12

 by Toni Babcock

“How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?” (John 5:44 KJV). 

Jesus had some interesting things to say about honor to a group of religious folks who refused to come to Him that they might have life.  He said,  “How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?” (John 5:44 KJV).  Jesus was conveying the truth that God does not operate the way we do.  Once we believe the gospel of grace, God’s honor comes to us because of Jesus and what He did. In God’s economy, none of us deserve anything good, yet God in his mercy provides every blessing in Christ free of charge, bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus, and available through faith in Him.  When we trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God sees us in the light of His Son.  He makes us a member of his personal honor society.  Come to Jesus with empty hands and an open heart.  Receive the honor that comes from God only; life through His Son Jesus Christ.

Today’s freelance Christian writer loves writing for the Kingdom.  Contact

“But God”

Inspired by Rev 7:9-12

by Susan Barnes, an Australian pastor’s wife

“Day after day Saul searched for him but God did not give David into his hands.” 1 Samuel 23:14

Quite often in the Bible we come across the little expression “but God”. Somehow God interrupts the normal sequence of events and showers us with his grace and mercy. Saul chased David for many years and the reason he was never able to track him down was because “God did not give David into his hands.”

In a sense sending Jesus was God’s biggest interruption. We all deserved hell but God interrupted the just consequences of our actions by sending Jesus to take the punishment in our place. Romans 5:8 tells us “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us.” It was God’s initiative to send Jesus and interrupt history forever.

Our own testimony should include “but God…” Once my life was heading in a certain direction “but God” interrupted my plans with his grace and mercy. As we go on in the Christian life we find more of God’s interruptions. Once we acted in a worldly way, “but God” gave us a new life. Once we thought in a worldly way “but God” gave us the mind of Christ. How grateful we should be that God takes the initiative and interrupts our lives with his love and grace.

Susan likes to write inspirational articles, book reviews, and devotional thoughts on Bible passages. Contact

Receiving Sight

by Robert Schaetzle

“Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshipper of God and does His will, He hears him. ” (John 9:31 NKJV)

The context of this passage is when our Lord brought sight to a man blind from birth. Jesus also did this on the Sabbath, which by tradition of the Jews, was doing work on the day of rest. In the minds of the Pharisees, Jesus was breaking the Law, in addition to his opposition for their disbelief that Jesus is God’s promised Messiah.

There is no healing of a blind man recorded anywhere in the Old Testament, so this is the first occurrence of anyone be given visual sight. When the man who received his sight said; “Now we know that God does not hear sinners…,” (John 9:31) he was actually referring to sinners without faith. It’s to those people whom God will close His ear. In truth, we’re all sinners, “None is righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). In Isaiah 53:6, the prophet declares, “All we, like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way…”

But through faith, given from above and the hope we hold on to, we have Jesus as our promise, who died for our sins on the cross, and intercedes for us, [1Timothy 2:5] just as He brought visual sight to a man blind from birth. Our Lord, through the power of His presence, gives us each Spiritual sight or vision when we hold promises from His word in our heart, and do His will.

Robert Lives in Sunnyvale, CA serving in a ‘Sharing & Caring Ministry. Contact

Who Are You Going to Believe?

 By Susan Barnes

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather that the Creator – who is forever praised.” Romans 1:25

During the football season a coach referred to some footballers as “marshmallows” meaning that they were soft. I was interested to hear one of the commentators say that the biggest insult for a footballer was to be called soft. I wondered why the biggest insult wasn’t to be called unsportsmanlike or selfish or lacking in integrity. I find it disturbing that we live in a society that values being tough over other virtues like kindness, tolerance and patience.

When I hear things like this I am reminded that the devil is actively sewing lies in the mind of the unsuspecting. The devil is always trying to get us to exchange the truth of God for lies.

Jesus tells us that we are blessed when we are “poor in spirit” that is when we depend on God and accept that we aren’t self-sufficient and independent. Yet the devil would tell us that this attitude makes us weak or soft. Who are we going to believe?

Every day we are presented with these kinds of decisions. Every time we watch the television, surf the internet or listen to the radio we are presented with a value system that clashes with the truth of God.

We need to decide whether we will believe God’s Word or the devil’s lies.

Susan, an Australian pastor’s wife, regularly writes devotional thoughts on Bible passages, book reviews and inspirational articles. Contact

God Is Our Refuge

 – by Kelly Basham

“God is good, a hiding place in rough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help, no matter how desperate the trouble.” (Nahum 1:7 MSG)

I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t want to turn on the TV, look at a new text, or get on my computer. If I heard another piece of bad news, I was going to snap. I was ready to pack my bags and head to some remote destination to hide from the world.

Technology has provided us with a front-row seat to see, hear, and experience everything that is going on in the world. But if every piece of information we receive is negative, it can seem like the world is falling apart. In the book of Nahum, God sends His prophet to tell the people of Nineveh they are going to be destroyed because they are a wicked nation and an enemy of the Lord. The Israelites, God’s people, heard this news firsthand. It must have felt like the world was falling apart as they listened to the prophet give a detailed description of what was to come. Perhaps they even contemplated escape as they listened. God knew His people would be frightened and desperate. He had his prophet remind them they could run to him for help. God was good to remind them they were not alone. They had hope. We, too, can run to the Lord for help. When things seem hopeless, we need to remember that He is our refuge. God is more powerful than any problem going on in the world. He will protect us when the world around us seems to be falling apart.

Kelly lives in the Nashville, TN, area with her husband, two children, and a quirky little dog named Velvet. Contact

By blackeybaptistchurch Posted in Faith

Childlike Faith

by Garry Bouwman

Little children have this wonderful ability, through their actions and words, that allows us adults to peek back in time and re-experience pure innocence. I had such an experience just a short while ago.

I’m blessed to be able to see my 4 year old grandson Spencer most mornings before I go to work. My wife watches him during the day and he gets there early enough that he comes and rousts me out of bed.

This particular morning Spencer came in and talked with me for a few moments and then decided that he would wait for me in the living room while I got ready for work. He closed the door behind him and then almost immediately reentered the room and said he needed a big hug.

“Spencer you have my heart “, I said as we hugged.

“No Grandpa, I already have one, and it’s this big.”, he said holding two fingers about half an inch apart.

I looked at him and said. “Spencer, your heart is much, much bigger than that.” Of course I confused him because I wasn’t speaking in terms of size but rather in terms of the amount of love in his heart. He just looked at me funny, smiled, and went to watch Spongebob.

I found myself in awe of that child’s innocence and love, and I began to wonder about something. At what point in time did I lose my childlike faith? How is it that I find it so difficult to live and love like that? I thought about it for a couple of days and basically came up empty, except for the usual “Sunday school” answers.

Then, because I serve a faithful and mysterious God, I got my answer from an unusual source. I love to read epic fantasy such as Lord of the Rings, and I had just started a new novel when I read something that struck me as a possible answer to my question. Here is what I read:

“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind”.
Patrick Rothfuss – The Name of the Wind (emphasis mine)

Thank you Lord! That was the answer! Spencer has little or no concept of the future yet, the decisions he’ll have to make, the problems he’ll have to solve, or anything else that is yet to come. He is living and loving in the here and now, moment by moment. I was so stoked to have an answer to my question! God is so good!

But (and there always is one, isn’t there?), I also realized the ominous overtones of what I just read as well. There will come a day, and it will come sooner than any of us would like, that Spencer, my other grandson Shane, and every child like them will realize that there is a future to deal with. At that point, their childhood begins to slip away. I am struggling not to cry as I write this because I wish there was a way I could keep that from happening. But I cannot.

However, there is something I can do, and that is to help them deal with it. I need to show them Jesus, and share with them what He says in His love letter to us.

God talks to us about having a child-like faith.

He also tells us not to worry about the future.

I don’t know about you, but I had never tied these two passages together before. It makes perfect sense however. Not worrying about the future IS childlike faith.

I find it hard to not worry about the future given this insane world in which we live. However, it would be impossible if it were not for my faith in God. Knowing that He is control is a great comfort in the midst of everything. This is the way I need to live each day. This is what I need to teach my grandsons.

Thank you Lord, for teaching me about faith and innocence. Simply because I grew up, I have lost that childlike innocence. But that doesn’t mean I have to lose my childlike faith. I’m asking you to help me get it back. Help me to trust you and know that you are a sovereign God and that you hold the future in your hands.

Read more articles by Garry Bouwman or search for articles on the same topic or others.

Campfires and Faith

by Becky Brown
Matthew 5:14-16

My husband and I love to go camping. We enjoy seeing new places and have met a lot of wonderful people. We were sitting around the campfire one night and God spoke to me. As I looked at the fire, I realized the only way the fire keeps burning is if my husband puts more wood on it. When he stops putting wood on the fire it eventually burns down. When he puts more wood on it, it begins to burn and you can see the flames once again. Pretty simple concept, huh?
I began to think about faith and the Christian walk and how it relates to a fire. When we first become a Christian, we are like the fire with flames shooting up. We are excited and we want to share with everyone. We are on fire for the Lord! Sometimes it is hard to contain us. We are excited and we want to go in a million different directions. We have lots of thoughts and ideas to share with others. We want them to know about our love for Christ and His love for us. We are eager to read our Bible, we want to pray, we want to witness, and we go on and on. As time goes on we begin to slow down.

If we are not careful we begin to burn out. We decide to slow down. We forget one day to read the Bible, or we forget to say our prayers. Or maybe we have a chance to share our witness and don’t. Our fire begins to slowly burn down. Then one day, we suddenly realize our fire for the Lord is now just an ember. How did we get it that way? What happened? How do we once again get on fire for the Lord?
Sometimes we have to stoke the fire and then begin to add wood to the fire. How do we do that in our Christian walk? We do that by learning to set priorities. We need to look to see what has prevented us from taking the time to read our Bible or pray. We have to figure out what is more important in our lives. Yes, families are important but it is more important to stop and pray and read the Bible. We must put God first in our lives and our families second. I know this is a hard task to do. At one time I realized God was second and my family was first. My fire was beginning to burn down.

If we don’t put God first, if we allow our families to run over us and we constantly are taking time for them (and not for ourselves), then we will run out of steam. We become a machine doing things for them and no longer living for Christ. We do things automatically. We have to let our families know what is important in our lives. They need to know they are important, but they also need to realize God is first in our lives. They need to realize that if we take the time to read the Bible and pray, this will help us be a better parent. Having God on our team, we will be better equipped to handle the everyday happenings. If your family sees you pray and reading your Bible what better witness can you be for them? They will learn from you how to let God be first in their lives. They will realize how you and God are handling things. What a great impression to leave on your children or grandchildren.
Another way to add wood to a fire is to revive it. How do you revive your faith? Once a year or every couple of years I think we need to look at attending a retreat; a time to get away from family. A time to sing praises, to share with others, to study His word, a time to reflect and then a time to renew your own faith. We need a time to revive that fire.
There are several retreats that are available. Ask your pastor or church secretary if they know of one. If one is not available, then get some of your peers together and go away and have your own retreat. Go somewhere where you can take some music to sing along with, take your Bibles to study from and then just be willing to open up to share with others. Nothing is more healing or refreshing than to hear from others how God is working in their lives. You will come back refreshed and your fires will be burning once again.
Instead of letting your fire burn down to an ember, take time every day to maintain your fire. Add a little wood every day by reading your Bible, taking time to pray for others, listening to God. Going to church is an excellent way to keep those fires burning, but not just one morning a week. We need that mid-week service or that Bible Study to help us keep the fires burning.Here is an idea, how about having a prayer partner to keep us accountable and to help us through the rough times and even to share the good times.
As I sit and watch my husband he is constantly keeping the fires burning. He is poking, adding wood, or just keeping an eye out for when it begins to die down. That is the way it should be with our faith. We should be constantly working on our faith. We need to maintain our faith daily. We should be busy keeping our faith on fire for the Lord. We should never let our faith become just an ember.
It says in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden. And people don’t hide a light under a bowl. They put it on a lamp stand so the light shines for all the people in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in Heaven”.
If our fire for the Lord is nothing but embers, how will others see our light? If you get a chance this fall to sit around a campfire, reflect on your own fire. How are you doing at burning? Are you just an ember or are you on fire for the Lord, or are you just slowly burning out? If you are burning out, start poking at the fire and begin adding wood. Don’t be just an ember.

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint”.
Isaiah 40:31
“Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me”.
Psalm 51:10

Prayer:
Dear Lord, As we study Your word, pray and go to church it is our desire to keep the fire burning. It is hard sometimes to keep the fire from burning out. You have given us hope. We know if we trust You, You will renew our strength and our fire once again will burn brightly. We want to soar like eagles, we want to run and not grow weary, but it is only with Your strength we can do that. Help us not to trust in our own strength, but in Yours. We thank you for Your love, Your grace and Your mercy. We give You all the honor and glory as we once again renew our faith in You. Thank you also for creating in us a clean heart and renewing our Spirit. In all these things we ask in Your name. Amen.

Read more articles by Becky Brown or search for articles on the same topic or others.

Beauty For Ashes

by Karen McKenney

Believe for God to take the ashes of yesterday’s ruin and give you beauty in every area of your life! Isaiah spoke of it prophetically before the proclamation was uttered from the lips of our great High Priest, Jesus, when he promised:

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified (Isaiah 61:3). God wants to give you beauty for ashes!

Throughout the Old Testament, men and women who were confronted with crises and paralyzed with problems sat in sackcloth and ashes before the Lord. Take, for instance, King David who became an adulterer and murderer then sat in sackcloth and ashes before the Lord in repentance for his sin.

Job, whose children had died, his fields were pillaged and his house was burned, bowed in sackcloth before the Lord. But it was out of the ashes of his life that God was able to bless his latter end more than his beginning (read Job 42:12 for yourself).

The fire in your heart for God may seem to be growing cold. The love for your spouse may seem but a flicker. The hope and belief for any future good may seem but a remnant of bygone days. But from the smoldering embers of your past God is smoldering the ashes and rekindling His promise of hope in your life. He is restoring unto you the joy of your salvation. (See Psalm 51:12.)

For your ashes, the Lord will transform you with beauty. In return for the spirit of heaviness, He will cover you with the garment of praise.


Read more articles by Karen McKenney or search for articles on the same topic or others.

Ambition

by Jeff Beneze

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3 KJV)

Strife or vainglory? As in an empty glory, a selfish ambition, contention, or faction? Now, hold on a minute. Let us think about this a second. Is this really something that we ought not do and if so why not? I know there is a certain fluff in wanting to present a surface level appearance of not being selfish, conceited, and to avoid being in the “inner circle” of a faction. Yet, can there not be a very powerful core of motivation if you propel yourself? Is that not the point of these otherwise ridiculous Christian Life profile type surveys? The kind of surveys that ask you (and perhaps a few close friends) dozens of questions to help you pin point exactly what your gifts and talents are, so that you can in turn learn to specialize and focus in these now revealed strengths?

What is the point in doing any kind of self assessment if the results are not to be taken seriously with a personal level of motivation? How is this at some level not a contradiction of James 1:22-27? Is not the point of looking at your reflection to then in turn do something about it?

This dilemma begins to play itself out right about the time that you hear the Lord softly speaking to you about something He wants you to do that is not in the “strengths” quadrant of your matrix. You reply with complete honesty that this is not a good fit for you. It is certainly an honorable thing that needs to be done. It contains a great deal of blessing. It is even needed right there in your community, but there are others who do that kind of work so much better than you do. You feel that if you stepped out into that type of work that you could easily set the clock back centuries rather than move the initiative forward. It is a train wreck waiting to happen and it would be better if God just spared everyone involved the splinters that this is likely to leave you in.

Now things gets to be a little clearer. You begin to see what part of the ambition is the selfish part. You begin to see that the reflection that James was speaking of is a reflection of God’s Word rather than how you perceived God’s Word. There is suddenly a gap between how you wanted the Word to be applied and how God seems to be applying it. In the words of the Joker, “Foiled again”. A plot that did not even seem like a plot to advance yourself finds itself dragged into a thorough bath of reality and a realization that it must be with the honor of God in your heart first. Shortly followed by a love for your neighbor.

“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (Philippians 2:4 KJV)