Sunday, May 29, 2016


We wouldn’t want to go too long without water to quench our thirst. Why would we want to go too long without the presence of God’s Living Water, Jesus Christ? Like water from the tap, it energizes us, tastes good, refreshes, and keeps us healthy. In other words, it (He) gives us life abundantly. What a gift!

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             by Sally Bair


Predictions are for a dry summer. Drought is always hard on the wildlife. With creeks drying up, animals seek their moisture in backyard fountains. Bears scrounge for other food when wild berries produce little food value. Some trees become distressed for lack of moisture.

Nature is hard on humans, too. Farmers suffer from drought in some areas, while in others people face heavy rains that bring disaster. Resulting price increases affect all of us.

So many trials. We all face them in one form or another. But the Bible speaks of another type of tribulation, the kind we can expect if we are Christians. Not only can we expect it, but it is required. Paul and Barnabas, on their missionary journey to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, preached the gospel, “Exhorting them [new believers] to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’” (Acts 14:22)

What? Christians can’t enter God’s kingdom unless they go through trials and tribulations? How seldom we hear this hard saying! But the Bible says if we obey Him, we will be blessed; if not, we will be cursed. By His very nature of holiness, He cannot lay down conditions upon which to bless us and then ignore them and bless us if we don’t meet those conditions.

It’s one thing to face such trials as sickness, death of a loved one, divorce—or drought and other natural disasters. It’s another to go through hardships because of our faith in Christ. After all, we live in a hostile world, a world that rejects the Word of God and brings adversity to those who embrace it.

Our suffering may seem like we’re living in a drought. Our spirits may be thirsty for encouragement and strength that can come from close fellowship with other sufferers, and especially from God’s Word and presence. When we partake of His “living water” (see John 7:38), we will find joy in our suffering, as Paul and Barnabas did.

If we are true to Christ and faithful to our calling as His disciples, we will face trials and suffering. We are given the daily choice to follow Him and obey His Word, knowing we’ll be persecuted, or to go along with society’s demands believing it won’t matter as long as we attend church weekly, pray generic prayers and give something to the poor.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)

Lord, thank You for Your thirst-quenching Word as we learn to thrive in Your kingdom. May we be faithful to You no matter what the consequences. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


God’s character shows itself in many parts of His creation, including the red fox. As we seek God’s will, we can learn several lessons from that mammal’s makeup.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             by Sally Bair

The red fox

A family of red foxes has taken residence by our local cemetery. Several of us have enjoyed the antics of the four kits as they’ve played in and out of culverts and among tombstones. Unafraid, they’ve allowed us to come close and take their pictures. The mama, however, has kept her distance in typical, cautious fashion.

The red fox’s makeup and personality present some interesting spiritual lessons for us.

First, they’re built for speed, able to outrun a pack of dogs for hours—even days. As believers in Jesus Christ, we too must be ready and able to outrun our enemies. Paul speaks of the dangers of temptations and snares that can cause spiritual destruction. “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith ….” (1 Timothy 6:11) We need not fear the enemy when we heed God’s Word, counting on His strength and power to run from harm.

 God also gives us the ability to discern danger, just as the fox uses its sensitive nose and ears to detect an enemy. “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge … so that your trust may be in the Lord.” (Proverbs 22:17, 19)

The fox learns where every stream, hollow log, culvert, or river bank is in its home terrain. We too can learn how to avoid danger, take courage and find the spiritual food we need for each day. As a fox becomes familiar with every part of its territory, we can learn by daily reading and study of God’s Word how to live spiritually safe, bold and sustained lives. The fox stores large quantities of food in many caches. We too benefit by storing God’s Word in our hearts so we can feed from them as our needs arise.

Loyalty is important to a fox, especially in the harshness of winter. Often when a fox is being pursued by an enemy, it can count on the help of another fox to take its place in the chase, allowing for a time of rest. With help, a fox can wear down its enemy.

Christians, too, can count on other believers to offer a helping hand when undergoing such battles as rejection or persecution. The Bible offers numerous reminders to support one another in our walk of faith.

Lord, thank You for Your lessons through nature. Cause us to use Your Word and wisdom as we encounter the many spiritual enemies that come our way. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


The choices are limitless. Sometimes the easiest path we take ends up being the hardest, stealing our health and welfare, both physically and spiritually. God would have us choose His path of righteousness, peace, and joy. The going may not be easy but the rewards far surpass those of any other path, even those that may seem best.


Converging paths

My husband and I took numerous trips to the northwest, where we enjoyed walking up the mountains. Our black Lab, Pal, followed behind, carrying his own backpack. If he already knew the trail from past trips, he took the lead—until he came to a crossroad. Then he’d sit down and wait patiently for my husband’s command as to which way to proceed.

If only children were as wise as dogs in following directions! It would save many parents heartache and grief. Many kids have found themselves in trouble because they swam outside the safety zone, sneaked out of the house to attend a forbidden party or drove too fast while drinking.

All of us, not only children, need to be alert and wise regarding the choices we make each day. One wrong step can set us on the wrong path. One wrong show watched on TV can start the habit of filling our minds with immoral or violent pictures. One wrong visit to a place of questionable morality can become a lifestyle of crime. Even the socially accepted habit of overeating or making wrong food choices can have dire consequences. 

A certain man of the Bible took the wrong path, and his journey began with a simple remark. Judas Iscariot was critical of Mary for spending so much money on the perfume she used in bathing Jesus’ feet. In reality, he wanted the money for himself. Judas’ life was a perfect example of how one sin can add to another: from greed to thievery to unbelief to1ying. His sins eventually lay at his feet in a heap. One little sin can become the entryway for Satan, who wants to control all that we say and do. 

The wisdom found in God’s Word helps us make the right choices. The book of Proverbs addresses the subject of Wisdom at length. “Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet.” (Proverbs 8:1-2)

When we find ourselves where the paths meet in life, we can seek wisdom from God. Like our dog Pal, we need to sit down and wait patiently on our Lord for His direction. In finding it and following it, we will avoid the danger of the devil’s control in our lives.

Lord, we seek the wisdom of Your Word and Your voice today. Help us avoid sin by choosing the right path in all that we think, do, and say. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Our perspective matters. When we see ourselves as creations of God who loves us, we see beauty and possibility. Oh, that we would all view our mirror images as God sees us!

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             by Sally Bair


While I grew up in Minneapolis, every summer my mother took my twin sister and me to the Como Zoo in St. Paul. Our favorite display was Monkey Island, where a family of primates lived. Their summer home, a large island surrounded by a moat and a high fence, allowed us to enjoy their funny antics.

One day someone threw a mirror to the monkeys. After a scramble, followed by a fight, one monkey claimed ownership of its new toy and bounced off to be alone. The primate held it at arm’s length, up close, to the right and to the left—all the while chattering and making silly faces. His enjoyment at seeing himself in the mirror was obvious. Fascinated, we watched and laughed.

The memory of that monkey makes me think of today’s obsession with selfies. What is it about mirrors that draw us to study, preen or criticize our body image?

Self-image has its place, and God has some things to say about it. When we put too much emphasis on our body image, we miss out on His own image. He made us in His image, which is perfect and righteous. No blemishes, no ounce of fat or selfishness or evil. His own Son, Jesus, being both God and man, is a perfect picture of His Father—loving, forgiving and longsuffering. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (Colossians 1:15)

David wrote in Psalm 8, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor … You have put all things under his feet ….” (vv. 3-6)

When we consider our image in David’s terms, our selfies may seem insignificant, silly and prideful. David addressed the subject of image in yet another way: “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” (Psalm 17:15)

Lord, thank You for making us in Your perfect likeness. Cause us to project our image in such a way as to draw others to You and as to give You joy while we worship and serve You. In Jesus’ name, amen.