Devotionals

     

Wednesday, April 14, 2021                  

When I was a boy, I lived to squirrel hunt.  It was my PawPaw who taught me to hunt and fish so this one particular morning we drove out to our favorite hunting spot.  We would park right beside the highway that went from DeRidder to Sugartown at a bridge crossing the Ouiska Chitto creek.  The highway and the creek divided the woods into four different hunting areas and we would each pick one.  We would meet back at the bridge at a designated time.  My PawPaw would tell me, “If you get turned around just stop and listen until you hear a car cross the bridge and come back that way.”   I had always made it back on time… but not this time.  I had hunted away from the road and chased a couple squirrels away from the creek.  That hardwood bottom all looked the same and soon I realized I didn’t know where creek or highway was.  So, I sat down and waited to hear a car on the bridge.  It took some time since cars traveling that highway could be hours apart back then.  But I heard it and headed that way as fast as I could, knowing I was going to be late getting back.  To my amazement, when I walked out and looked at the highway and bridge it was the wrong one!  I had hunted so deep into the bottom I was actually hearing traffic on another road.  By the time I got back to my bridge and my PawPaw it was really late in the morning and he was pacing that bridge looking for me.  Laughter replaced worry when I told him what I had done.  Then he looked at me and said, “Come with me, I got something for you.”  He took me to the center of the highway, reached into his hunting vest, and removed a compass that he had attached there.  Laying it on the center stripe of the road, he promptly aligned its east / west direction with the highway.  “This road runs due east and west straight through here.  Look, you hunted north.  All you have to do is look at this, come back south, and you will reach this road every time.”  He then handed that compass to me. “Here,” he said with a glint in his eye, “I don’t want to have to wait on you all day again.”  I have it to this day.  Life is similar to going into that bottom.  Sometimes everything we see looks confusing and the sounds we hear are misleading.  We need something that is always true to guide us where we are going or to guide us back, to help us find our way.  When I became a Christian, I received just that, a copy of God’s Word, my Bible.  That Book serves as the “Compass” for our walk through life.  This verse pretty well sums it up, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)”.  Truth is, the entire Book serves as our spiritual and moral compass, and affects every journey of our life.  Sometimes I feel like God takes me out to the center of the road of life, sets His Word right on the center line, and says, “Son, follow this.  It will take you where I have instructed and when needed will bring you back.  It will even lead you Home.”   Pastor Dennis

Wednesday, March 31, 2021                  

I bought myself a new carpenter level.  My old one still works but has been around over forty years and I thought it time to get one that might be more accurate.  Like many other tools a good level is critical for the building I do around here.  As my PawPaw used to say “I need to make sure everything is straight with the world”.  It is interesting that whether something is placed vertically or horizontally your eye can perceive it as being perfectly level when it is not.  Throw a level on it and you realize just how “off” it really is.  Many times, the ground or another structure close by will deceive your eye into thinking it is ok until you check it.  Life is like that.  Many times, the things going on in the world around us will distort how we see things that are affecting our lives.  What we need is something to measure or “level” things against.  Well, did you know God has a measuring tape and a level in His Toolbox?  God told Isaiah, “I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the “level”; Isaiah 28:17 (AMP)”.  There it is.  And, unlike me, God doesn’t mind you using His tools!  No matter what we have to deal with, no matter what may be said, no matter what the world accepts or not, no matter what answer we have to give, no matter what tries to get in the way to distort what we are seeing, we can use God’s tools to make sure everything in “on the level”.  Pull out God’s measuring tape and see if something goes beyond the limits of God’s justice.  Make sure it is “on the level” of His definition of right doing (righteousness).  Do this every time and what you build in life will always stand “true”.  Pastor Dennis

Wednesday, March 24, 2021                  

I am not going to fight fair.  There, I said it.  Now I guess I had better explain.  You see, I’m not going out and look for a fight.  In fact, I’m going to do everything I can to avoid one.  I’ll reason, talk, pray, even walk away.  But if it comes down to having to defend myself I just ain’t gonna play by the rules.  I’m going to kick, bite, scratch, poke, gouge… well you get the picture.   Don’t look at me that way.  I can back this up with Bible.  It tells us we are engaged in a spiritual battle and if you think the devil plays fair you better read again, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: John 10:10 (KJV)”.  In addition to that, what if I show you a true enough Biblical hero who didn’t play fair either.   Yep, lil’ David when he “whupped” Goliath.  Now you are saying that I have sure enough lost it.  David, a young shepherd boy, goes up against a giant almost three times his size.  He has a sling and five rocks and the giant has full armor so heavy that David couldn’t have even carried it?   And I am bold enough to say that it was David that isn’t fighting fair?!  Well, you see, David didn’t come off that hill shouting to Goliath that “I’ve got a slingshot and a rock!”.  His battle cry, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 1 Samuel 17:45-46 (KJV)”.  See it yet?!!  David declared he was giving the battle to God!  Right there he stacked the odds!  Had Goliath’s spiritual eyes been opened at that moment I believe he would have seen the heavens filled with the warrior angels of God! Maybe one angel wound up the sling, another zeroed it in right between the giant’s eyes.  However it worked, David defeated Goliath and Israel defeated the Philistines. Knowing this is possible I challenge you to suit up with the Armor of God, fill up with the anointing of God, fix a battle cry on your lips, and charge the giant!   Oh, by the way, if I am going to fight this spiritual battle, I really like knowing that I have already won!  Don’t fight fair, fight the enemy with what God has given you.  Pastor Dennis

Wednesday, March 17, 2021                  

I have been “killing two birds with one stone”, as the old saying goes.  I have been cleaning up the tons of trees downed by the hurricane and filling my wood shed at the same time.  We burned quite a bit more wood this year during the ice storm so I am cutting my downed oak to refill my sheds.  My grandson has been helping and I have been showing him that if you watch carefully you can stack a good “tight” wood pile.  This leaves less empty space and creates a tight, sturdy stack that is less likely to tip.  I’ve been cutting wood for over 40 years but I caught myself once again enjoying how all the pieces fit together.  You see, most of my wood in any normal year comes from trim or break offs or trees needing to be removed for some purpose on the property.  If not put in the wood pile they would be good for nothing else, just discarded.  So, the pieces vary.  Some are skinny, some bigger, some smooth, some rough and knotty, some straight, and some more crooked.  Yet, if placed with a skillful eye and hand, they all fit tightly together to form a strong stack.  Some have to be turned around, some have to fill a certain gap, some even have to be placed so that their crook or knot will fill a spot. I have even had to trim up a piece now and again.  Christians are kinda like that.  “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:16 (KJV)”.  Not every member of the body of Christ is exactly the same.  We each have our “shape” or ability to fill a gap, and it takes Someone that sees us as we are and where we can fit the best to place us.  Verse 15 of the same chapter makes it clear that Christ is the one doing the fitting.  With His clear vision and steady hand each person can be placed exactly how they need to be fitted to create the Church just like it needs to be “stacked” and where it can be the strongest.  Where my firewood can only depend on the other pieces to hold it in place, this Word tells us we can be held into place with love.  I am so thankful that I am part of the “Stack”?    Pastor Dennis

Wednesday, March 10, 2021                       

This week I was walking across the yard to my shop with my grandson.  He had a tight grip on my finger and even a tighter one on my heart.  I am 6’2” with long legs and he is… well he’s two.  So, as you can imagine I had to take much smaller steps to get where I was going.  But he followed me with complete trust and without hesitation, no matter where I led him.  A picture began to form.  How BIG is God and how small am I!  And yet He has me by my hand, “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Isaiah 41:13 (KJV)”.  If only I could be as obedient, as content, as trusting with God as my grandson was with me.  Look at this: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. Psalms 37:23-24 (KJV)”.  The Hebrew word for “man” here is also translated “warrior”.   I am a grown man.  I am a warrior with all my armor on.  I am in this (spiritual) battle with my eyes wide open!  I will win!  But to do so, I have to know that it is God that has my right hand, it is He who will lead the way, and it is He who will pick me up if I stumble or fall!   My duty… well, I’m going to keep a tight grip on His finger!   Pastor Dennis

Wednesday, March 3, 2021                           

“You don’t sound like you are from around here.”  Some years ago, my work in developing computer software carried me to California and up to Idaho.  These times, along with the fact that the gal in my iPhone can never get my dictated texts right, are the best reminders that I just might have a southern accent.  I guess you could say that my speech betrays me.  Hey, that’s in the Bible!  This is what they said to Peter when he was in the middle of denying that he knew Jesus, ““Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Matthew 26:73 (NKJV)”.  They were talking about his accent showing he was from Galilee, where Jesus had been.  They sure weren’t talking about his words right then because in his panic he let go a few words that would have been less pleasing as a “Jesus” example.  I have seen this happen.  I have known people who professed being a Christian, whose daily life showed it, until one day in a stressed situation they lost that witness with their words.  No, I’m not saying they backslid anymore that I would say Peter did, they just did something they would later have to talk to God about changing.  Peter’s manner of speech sure changed.  After being filled with the Holy Spirit he declared Christ with boldness, even while the officials were demanding that he stop!  In fact, godly words were pouring out of him in such a fashion that some marveled that this could not be since he was nothing but an “ignorant fisherman“.  Seeing that happen, and knowing there are verses that tell me that my words come from my heart and that this ole tongue of mine can be “bridled”, I want to be so full of God that it pours out in my conversation.  If my speech is going to “betray me” let it at least be by presenting evidence of my walk with Him! Pastor Dennis

Wednesday, February 24, 2021                      

In my early teenage years I loved to shoot a bow and arrow.  All I had was a cheap fiberglass bow, but I carried everywhere I went, especially in the woods.  One thing I loved to do was to stand at one end of our field, raise the arrow at an angle that would target somewhere down field, and let her fly.  If I had it angled enough the arrow would go completely out of site, then as I shifted my gaze down the field, it would reappear and stick in the ground.  I would shoot all my arrows down the field, walk down to them, turnaround, and shoot them back the other way.  One day I aimed my arrow at a slightly higher angle and let it rip hoping to get the maximum height.  Sure enough, the arrow went out of sight, but while I was watching for it to hit down the field, I heard a “thud” right next to me.  I guess the wind caught it and blew it back over; I never saw it coming; but there it was imbedded in the ground not six inches from me.  Had that arrow struck me I could have been seriously injured or killed.  Whether you have ever picked up a bow and arrow or not, there are arrows every Christian has to protect themselves from.  Here is the analogy that Paul uses, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts (arrows) of the wicked. Ephesians 6:16 (KJV)”.  Some of these arrows we may see coming, others, like the arrow that hit by me, seem to come “out of nowhere”.   Whichever, these arrows are certainly the attacks of the enemy in our Christian walk.  What does Paul say to do about this method of attack?  We are to put our faith out in front of us, using it as a shield.  The Greek word Paul uses here for shield is one the Romans used, a shield wide and tall, and one that would actually protect the soldier from head to toe.  Linked together with a soldier on each side it provided a “wall” that the enemy could not come through.   The long-distance attack of fiery arrows would be stopped short hitting their mark as they deflected off this shield.  I can understand why the apostles said to the Lord “Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5).   Jesus’ reply was twofold:  even a small amount of faith will empower you:  it’s your duty to exercise it.  When we exercise our faith, God moves in to not only protect but to give us victory.  In this spiritual warfare I want to be pictured as a soldier, clad in the whole armor of God, my Sword in one hand, and holding up my Shield with the other, standing with determination that I am not afraid of what the enemy fires at me and I will not give up one inch of the Kingdom of God!    Pastor Dennis

Wednesday, February 17, 2021                       

If the devil played a character in a western movie…  I know, you’re thinking I have been watching too many Gunsmoke reruns, but just give me a minute.   If the devil played in a western, he would rob the bank, shoot the teller, then burn down the bank building.  His character would be painted as a “drygulching back shooting outlaw”.  How did I come to that analogy?  Well, Jesus said it, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:  John 10:10 (KJV)”.  Satan is out there, not so much with intent to rob a western bank, but with vengeance to steal all God has for you and me; he will destroy our relationship with God if we let him.  No, we are not in a movie like the western I mentioned, but we are in a fight against his “gang” of spiritual wickedness (Eph. 6:10-13).  And there are verses throughout God’s Word that tell us that we will win.   How?  Well, I quoted only the first part of that verse and the part I quoted did not end with a period.  The rest of the verse sums up everything.  Jesus said your enemy is all those things, BUT I am your Life and it is “with advantage”. (“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”).  Simply put, our victory over the enemy is in the advantage of the Life flowing through us that was provided through Jesus.  I’m going to do what Paul told Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12 (KJV)”.  Oh, and since we are the good guys in this fight, I just might have to buy a white hat after all.  Pastor Dennis

Wednesday, February 10, 2021                      

I have been clearing some property.  I am fortunate that my son has a big, powerful tractor to use on the job.  I have learned to catch trees just right with it, push them over, and tear them out of the ground.  My best yet, even with that big tractor, is to push over a 6-to-8-inch tree.  They are that tough.  That is why I was so amazed after the hurricane.  We listened to the roar and might of the wind that night then went out the next morning to find trees as large as 4 to 5 feet in diameter blown over, root systems 3 times that size exposed, and a hole 3 feet deep where it had been!  I’m not sure what wind speed was measured, but what I heard and then saw was hard to comprehend.  Oh, by the way, there is a record of another mighty wind, one more powerful than our hurricane.  Actually, more powerful than any hurricane, tornado, cyclone, or storm ever recorded.  No, it didn’t blow down walls, blow off roofs, or, to the best I can find, it didn’t even uproot a single tree.  What am I talking about?   It was the Spirit of God “rushing” to the men and women who had been instructed to wait its coming before launching the Church. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost…. Acts 2:2, 4 (KJV)”.  Yep, “quarantine yourself to Jerusalem” and wait because you will “receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you”.  There is no greater power than the Power that caused that wind or the Power that is in you when it fills you!  It is the Power of God!  See, the weatherman told us the wind was coming and we didn’t know exactly what to expect.  The Bible tells us this Wind is here and clearly sets our expectations that “we can do all things through Christ which strengthens us”.   I encourage you to embrace the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  You may not physically hear the “wind” but I can assure you that you will feel His power!   Pastor Dennis

Wednesday, February 3, 2021                        

When I was in my twenties (40 years ago) if you would have told me that one day we would have a device that would fit in your hand, have no wires attached, we could use it to communicate, to navigate on it with a map, take pictures on it, have hundreds of other apps (then explain apps) AND it would have a flashlight I know what my reaction would have been.  I would have taken you by the arm, eased you into a cool spot where you could sit, while I got my real phone attached to the wall with a wire and called for help!  But now, like everyone else, I find it difficult to be without my iPhone.  Now, what if I told you there has been something around for hundreds of years that can do all that and more?!  It is the Bible.  Yep, it fits in your hands.  If you study it fully it will help you communicate to other people AND God.  Let the Holy Spirit lead you with it and it will guide you down the many roads of life.  Spend time in it and it will paint wonderful pictures of God’s plan for you and your loved ones.  Oh, it is Jesus’ Word and He is the Light of the world.  All you have to do to turn it on is to open the cover.  Need a new app (application) just turn the pages and let the Lord download the verses into your heart.  And it comes with a bonus… you never have to plug it in or charge it; instead, if you will allow it, it will empower you.  Just maybe we should consider spending as much time on this Old Proven “device” as much as we do our new one?    Pastor Dennis

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

In the summer between my high school graduation and my first year of college my best friend and I decided a week of staying at his dad’s camp on the Sabine River was in order.  One day we walked down to a slough to try to catch some perch to bait our bank lines set in the river.  I found a shady spot under a little tree with a small bank of dirt there, cast out my line, then sat down, leaned back against the bank and put my right arm out to rest on.  In a minute or so I got the earie feeling something was just not right.  When I looked down, I saw that I had sat right next to a moccasin (poisonous snake) and I could see that mouth open and ready to strike.  I knew that if I moved body or arm, I was bit.  I always had my pistol and carried it on my left side, so veeeeeery slowly I eased it out with my left hand, took as careful aim across my body as I could, and shot.  Well, I missed but thank God the snake cut a trail getting in the water!  It scared me so bad I was sick to my stomach!  Bottom line is, I had sat down in a very dangerous spot!   The Book of Psalms starts off by warning us about sitting in dangerous spots; in fact, about everything that leads up to it.  “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. Psalms 1:1 (KJV)”.  It makes for excellent advice for us in this day and hour.  May I put this verse in my own vernacular?  “God can bless the person who keeps their eyes on Him instead of walking around looking at the things in this world.  Many are ungodly and will get your attention, maybe causing you to stand still to get a better look at the sinful thing it is.  Get too interested and you may find yourself sitting there participating, scorning the warnings that God gave you.”  I admonish you, both in the physical and the spiritual, be careful where you sit!    Pastor Dennis

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Several years ago, my family doctor decided to retire.  After having the same doctor for about 100 years Cissy and I found ourselves in need of a new one.  We searched for several weeks, getting reeeeaaal close to needing med refills, and finally decided to see a new doctor our daughter was working for that had just started a practice.  So, we sent him our medical records and started trying to convince ourselves that seeing a new, young doctor that had never seen us before was going to be ok.  After the introductions at our first visit this young man sat there and summarized my entire medical history.  He had taken time to do his homework!  He knew more about me than I did!  I was very excited, very pleased that he had taken such an interest in my wellbeing!   There are so many Scriptures in the Bible that tell us that God knows us even more intimately (yes I know about the hairs of my head being numbered), and unlike the doctor He didn’t even have to worry about homework, LOL.  I can’t share all of those verses but I can these, “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: Isaiah 43:1-3 (KJV)”.  There are, and will be, uncertain times.  But our God knows you, even call you by name, and will be with you to protect you like you belong to Him.  I pray you take as much comfort in that as I do…   Pastor Dennis

Wednesday, January 13, 2021         

I love to shoot pretty much anything that has a trigger on it.  One of my favorite things is to shoot rifles at a target out at a distance.   Lay that rife across a table, cheek up to it, fix those crosshairs on a spot on the target, and slowly squeeze the trigger.  If my aim was true a hole appears right where I wanted it.  What I did up at that table had an effect downrange.  Paul never held a Remington 700 in his hands but somehow he had a picture of hitting a target in his mind.  “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (KJV)”.   To put it in perspective, Paul said “I have my sights set on a target.  The target is the award for living out the calling of God in my life.  What I do now, where I have my eyes set, how steady I am, everything I do now will all effect where I end up “downrange” in my life.  What is the best way to keep our “crosshairs” on target? Paul gives us this answer as well, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)”.  I pray your aim is True!   Pastor Dennis