Payh Blog
Evil of Serving the Lord
May 29, 2017

Evil of Serving the Lord

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

This verse is inscribed in a stained glass window in our kitchen. It is an excellent choice for any family’s purpose and expressed desire in life – if, indeed, they really mean to strive for this. Joshua’s challenge to the people of Israel, whom he had led in conquering the land promised to them by the Lord, was phrased in a way you might find strange. This is what Joshua says: “If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve.” Do you think any of them considered it evil to serve the true and living God? Do you think it is evil to serve the Lord?
It is truly worthwhile to consider just what Joshua means. After all, I would rather think “evil is not the word they themselves would choose, as he had, to describe their dilemma in choosing who to serve. You see, they were torn between serving the God who had saved them out of Egypt, delivered them from 40 years in wilderness-living and struggle, and then gave them victory over many stronger enemies who inhabited the “Promised Land,” over the traditional gods of the past they had experienced in Egypt and those of the strangers they met along the way while wandering 40 years; and then the gods they discovered among the people in their new homeland, as an addition or substitute for the God who had always been at their side. Most likely they erroneously thought they could follow all of these gods and practices, along with the God of Israel.
Joshua observed all this and knew what was ahead for them if they persisted in this equivocation. Experience had shown that not only was this not possible for a healthy outcome, but the knowledge and pursuit of the true God would actually falter and wane, and these false gods would predominate more and more in the people’s lives and hearts. It always happens when you equivocate between the true, living, and jealous God and, on the other hand, the many false gods who really are nothing more than unthinking, non-conversant, non-living gods of metal, stone, or wood, made by the very ones who then bow down and worship them – the height of stupidity!
Most of us do not worship gods that man has himself carved, unless you are Buddhist, Hindu, or the like, but we do worship gods we have made ourselves, such as certain traditions, or the trappings of a materialist society, or the behavior and lifestyle which make us appear acceptable and “cool” within the society in which we crave popularity. When the Scriptures say, “If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord…” what it is saying is, “If it is, in your inner mind, too troublesome, irritating, unpopular, inconvenient, or glaring to serve the Lord, then you must make an immediate choice! Either serve the Lord wholeheartedly, without reservation, committing all unto Him, or do not; serve the gods of this world instead! Joshua says he has made his own choice regardless: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”
Evil arises when professing outwardly that you serve the Lord, but in reality, you are sniffing at such service and find it not as worthy a pursuit as other lifestyles of your world, succumbing to the snares of materialism or worldliness, seeking the world’s acceptance and popularity over taking a public stand for the Lord, His righteousness, His truth, and those things that manifest godliness. Are you a true foot soldier for the Lord and His kingdom, or for yourself and your own interests? This is Joshua’s purpose in Joshua 24; he is very concerned in pointing out the evil of sitting on the fence, trying to live in two basic mindsets, one which follows the Lord and one which involves itself in the folly of the world with its false gods and ideas. Choose this day whom you will serve, says Joshua. Now is the time for making this choice!
It is a choice which must be made sooner, not later. Procrastination only takes you deeper under the power of Satan and the world. You come to the place where extrication is well-nigh impossible. You have convinced yourself that following the Lord wholeheartedly is far too radical and painful, when in reality it is the very best route to go. Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light; this is quite the reverse of what Satan suggests strongly to you, that it is the worst possible and most painful choice you could make.
It is a matter of who is more trustworthy, who has the best credentials for following whole-heartedly. Your faith must rise and be recognized. It must put Satan to flight and cling to the One who proved His love at Mt. Calvary, holding fast to the One who shattered death’s power and sting, the One who now and forever lives for you. Such faith chooses to follow Joshua’s example: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”


“Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart, it is thine own; it shall be thy royal throne, it shall be thy royal throne.”
(5th verse of Frances Havergal’s hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be,” 1874)


  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
Properties of Worthy Fear
May 24, 2017

Properties of Worthy Fear

“And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.” Acts 5:11
Most of you are familiar with the story of Ananias and Sapphira, who suddenly and unexpectedly took their final breaths within hours of one another after disobeying the Lord. But very few of us fear similar circumstances or maybe even committing the sin which produced their demise. Why not? This was a historical event that impacted the church in the first century.
As many others have repeated the deceit of this husband and wife through the intervening years since that particular occurrence, we are not told of the same thing happening to those who choose to lie in a similar public vein. Consequently, the fear of new perpetrators is greatly diluted; when it originally happened, it grabbed the soul in a firm grasp and captured the mind of those who thought they might do the same and get away with it. Does rereading this historical account do anything to stir up worthy fear in you? Or does it just slide away as something long past and probably not repeatable.
What kind of fear rose in the minds of those who saw or heard what happened on that fateful day? Initially, a simple reading of the text of Acts 5 will not necessarily raise much concern or consternation in any of you as to the particular sins this couple committed. Ananias and Sapphira sold some property, kept some of the profits, and apparently brought it to the church and laid it at the apostles’ feet as though they were doing exactly as the many other givers: selling assets and donating all the proceeds to serve the common good of the entire congregation. In explanation, Peter expressed that the property was truly entirely theirs, therefore the profit was theirs and they were under no obligation to give it all or even part of it, yet they wanted everyone to be under the impression that they were giving it all just as the others had given. They desired this particular praise, along with keeping some of the profits for themselves unbeknownst to all the others.
But their gift and desired impression on all was a lie certainly to the whole congregation, but especially and primarily to the Spirit of God, who could actually see their hearts. It was as though they did not consider who God really is; they essentially said, “You are not who you say you are! We can pull the wool over your eyes, too. We can keep a secret from you that only we know.” Their faith was not real; it did not consider the whole reality of God.
The rest of the congregation was moved to worthy fear. What is worthy fear? It is not a cowing fear that bows under a tyrant who whimsically and unjustly punishes his subjects to keep them in line. Their fear was worthy because it understood what had really happened, and they were reminded of the character and power of the holy God they served, worshipped, obeyed, and loved.
He is a righteous God who does not wink at sins as though they are nothing. These worshippers were reminded of their own possibly unconfessed or unacknowledged sins that had gone unpunished by God’s grace, and there but for the grace of God would they have faced the same consequence. They were reminded that sin is a matter of natural course because they all possessed a sin nature and that God does not take it lightly. It is the purpose of every believer to take God at His word and strive to live holy lives, walking in the light as Jesus is in the light.
The real sin of Ananias and Sapphira was a diminished or feigned faith that did not acknowledge the truth of who God is, as well as living like He was no more than just another person in their lives, able to be conned and lied to, without His word or character worthy of being believed, honored, or obeyed.
Worthy fear exhibits a faith which believes God is who He says He is, that He will do what He says He will do, that His Word means what it says, and that punishment for sin is real, even though by grace it is not always enacted. Worthy fear accepts the revelation of God in the Bible as a true definition of the one true God. It does not accept anything more or anything less describing who God is or what He by His Spirit has revealed in the Scriptures of Old and New Testaments – in other words, what Paul calls “the faith once delivered to the saints.”
Then, it seeks with all heart, soul, mind, and strength to follow, love, and obey this One acknowledged as Master and Lord. It knows there is nothing that they can say or do or think that is beyond His knowing. All is done before His ever-watching eyes. There are no secrets or unknowns to God who judges everyone’s actions fairly and justly but always in concert with His grace and love. When we sin, we always have an advocate to call upon that our sins might be forgiven: Jesus Christ, who is always willing and ready to pardon the truly repentant sinner.
When we do sin, and we will, it is always good to remember the words of the Savior to the woman taken in adultery: “Go, and sin no more.” Such, if taken with all seriousness, is “worthy fear.”


“My sins, my sins, my Savior! They take such hold on me, I am not able to look up, save only Christ to Thee; in Thee is all forgiveness, in Thee abundant grace, my shadow and my sunshine the brightness of Thy face.”
(1st verse of John Monsell’s hymn, “My Sins, My Sins, My Savior!,” 1863)

If you enjoyed this devotional, sign up below to receive it weekly:

* Name:

*

 



  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
Overcoming the Impossible
May 23, 2017

Overcoming the Impossible

Everyone likes to pull for the underdog. From sports to romantic comedies to real life, something in our nature wants the weaker opponent to win. Perhaps we do so because, at some point or another, we’ve all been in situations where failure seemed guaranteed. One year, my high-school basketball team made it to the championship game of the region tournament. We had had a fairly successful season leading up to the tournament, but the team we were facing in the final round was taller, faster, and stronger. To an unbiased observer, it seemed there was no way we could win; we fully expected to lose. Despite the odds, we beat the undefeated Patriots at the buzzer. I will never forget that game or the way I felt after the final horn sounded for the rest of my life. They should have blown us out of the water, but we were the champions, and shocking everyone in that gym who had pinned us as the inferior team was an indescribable experience.
I said that we fully expected to lose that night, but that is not entirely true. We certainly did leading up to the game, but when we gathered in the locker room thirty minutes before warm-ups, our coach handed each of us a rock and read us the story of David and Goliath. Like most people, we had all heard this story many times, but it struck us in a new way that night. I won’t retell the entire story here, but I do want to focus on the attitudes of the key characters in their quest to overcome their giant opponent.
Goliath was able to defeat the Israelites with fear alone. He was between 8’5 and 9’2 tall, and his armor and weapons weighed between 150 and 200 pounds. Every day for forty days, he would mock the Israelites and challenge them to fight him. 1 Samuel 17:11 says, “When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. Satan uses the same strategy against us. As we face our own “giants, he tries to make us feel afraid, inadequate, and defeated before we even begin our battles. However, as David shows us in this story, we have access to a supernatural boldness and confidence that will lead us to victory.
Saul’s reaction to Goliath’s taunting is very telling. At one point, Saul had been known as a fierce, successful military leader; he stood head and shoulders above the other men of Israel. When Goliath demanded that they send someone down to fight him, Saul was the logical choice, but when Saul heard Goliath’s words, he was terrified. In the previous chapter, we read that the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul. It is no coincidence that Saul’s bravery left him at the same time. The Holy Spirit gives us courage and confidence; without Him, we are weak, cowardly, fearful, and defeated before we begin.
David’s reaction to Goliath’s taunting is equally telling. In sharp contrast to Saul, this little shepherd boy is full of bold courage. This isn’t arrogant bravado; he doesn’t say, “I’m not scared of that giant; killing him will be no problem! Let me at him! Rather, his utmost concern is the Lord’s cause. He deems it as more important than his own personal safety, glory, and honor. David’s perspective and courage came from his genuine relationship with God. God was as real to him as Saul and Goliath, and His cause and honor were worth fighting for. Because of this, he said to Saul “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
David’s bold courage progresses as the story develops. Initially, he said someone should fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:26,29). Next, he said he would fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32). Finally, he said he will defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17:36). David had full confidence in the Lord. He recalled that God had saved him from lions and bears during his time as a shepherd, and he firmly believed that God would deliver him in the same manner against Goliath… and He did! He led David’s footsteps as he approached Goliath, He guided the stone through the air into Goliath’s forehead, and He enabled David to behead Goliath with his own sword. He didn’t use the thousands of Israelite soldiers who had been frozen in fear at the scene of the battle for forty days; he used David’s passion, bravery, and willingness to secure His victory.
Hearing these words and holding those rocks in our hands in the little locker room in Louisville, Georgia that night, my teammates and I felt emboldened to take on our giant. We knew we could accomplish what seemed impossible, and we did. God is not limited by our expectations or our doubts; He is infinitely greater and wiser than that. I don’t know what giants you are facing, but I do know that God is stronger. God may deliver you from trials or in the midst of trials, but He will deliver you if you are His child.
Some of our PAYH boys will have a chance to fight their own giants this summer as we kick off our 2017 Cycling Challenge. From July 17-22, they will cycle 500 miles across South Georgia and Central Florida. The days will be long, the heat will be intense, and the cramps will be nagging. Their mental and physical strength will be tested each minute of each day, and there will be moments when they are tempted to forget the months they have spent training and quit. But as they persevere, they will see that nothing compares to the satisfaction of setting a difficult goal and reaching it. By overcoming the challenge of this ride, our young men find the strength and endurance they never knew they had and learn that through Christ they can do all things (Philippians 4:13). Keep up with their journey as they learn to defeat their giants at www.payhbikeride.com.


  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
SFTD-05-18-2017-Feature-570x348
May 18, 2017

Many Bad Mothers

“Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her.” – Proverbs 31:28


Mothers can be very, very good, and mothers can be very, very bad. We do not want to put emphasis on the bad mothers, because by and large we believe, or like to believe, most mothers are those who sacrifice for and love the children who come from their womb. There is a God-given natural instinct to love the children you bear; and there is a powerful congenital instinct for children to love their parents, especially their mothers, who first nurture, protect, and nurse them. But the fact is there are many bad people in the world, and it is also a borne out truth that the first five years of life are critical to the stature of a person’s character for the rest of their life. Bad mothers do exist. 

This truth puts a lot of pressure on mothers who mostly are responsible for the first five years of a child’s life in fairly normal circumstances. The father plays a strong support role, but the mother is the main operator, in every culture. In some situations they may be the only operator, other than aunts, grandmothers, etc.  and the fact is that there are single mothers who do a very fine job of rearing their offspring despite the sorry father who vacated his responsibilities. Mostly, these are single mothers of faith. But the loss of a father is a very difficult burden to bear, especially when a child grows to teen years. 

What happens when a child is largely neglected? He falls into the course of his nature from birth; a depraved and fallen nature. There is no correction or instruction of what is right or wrong. Of course, all humanity has a moral compass within, known as a conscience, but if it is not reinforced by correction and instruction, the natural instincts of sin rise to the forefront and end up searing the conscience. This is why we see such heinous sin being perpetrated by younger and younger children and teens on others, even on their own parent(s). Parents who seek to protect their children from penalties of poor behavior are only serving to create a monster who will perform great evil over the course of a life which may well end prematurely.

By the way in which God created male and female it is very obvious to the faithfully observant that God has given the requisite gender tools to women who not only solely give birth, but are most able to nurture and nurse, spiritually and physically, an infant into young childhood years. Women have the God given tools which men do not. But God was not dumb in designing the child/person rearing responsibility for both one woman and one man. This is his design, and it is the perfect design which can provide the greatest opportunity for success in a very difficult proposition. If tragedy intervenes God can make provision, but his plan is for a mother and father to perform the child molding, the eternal-being-molding process. And the Scripture from Genesis on bears out this vital truth. 

The praise of godly mothers is replete throughout history. They have been in so many cases the magnificent performers of God’s call. It is a call requiring an indefatigable, all-consuming effort. From what I have observed over many years their joy in seeing their children walking in the truth has been a reward for which there is no substitute. It is worth all the many years of dirty diapers, skinned knees, spankings, helping with homework, and waiting up nights, etc, etc. Proverbs 31 says it all: “Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her.”


“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.” – 2 John 1:4

 

     If you enjoyed this devotional, sign up below to receive it weekly:

* Name:

*

 

   



  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
testing-and-trial-equals-pain
May 11, 2017

Testing and Trial Equals Pain

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4


The surgeon’s scalpel cut into my back one week ago today. Of course, intended to heal a problem, it results first in a whole lot of pain. But our bodies are remarkably restorative and wounds become scars which do not hurt. Today the wound still hurts, but give it a few more weeks and the pain will likely be gone.
This trial was planned, but many trials and testing of our soul come unexpectedly. They are not only painful to endure, whether physical pain or spiritual, and often both, but they come as a shock bringing disruption to our normal life. Changes must be put in place to deal with the trial we endure, and from which we hope to recover. Some, unfortunately, do not always result in physical healing.
The Bible holds nothing back in declaring the prospect of trials in our life. They are the way of life for everyone of us. All will undergo trials and testings of all kinds. Their declared purpose is to make us stronger: in faith, in character, in purpose of living, that we might be become men and women of God, intimately bound to our Savior, Jesus Christ, in greater and greater dependency.
Some, however, respond to trials in bitterness and increasing isolation. Instead of the soul being turned to thanksgiving and a yearning desire to help others, it turns selfishly inward to marinate in depression and self-pity for the “cards they have been dealt.” These feel they have gotten the worst of the deal and there are few others who got it as bad as they. Even if they are shown that others have been tested more severely than they have been, they care not. Others’ worse condition is unfortunately not their concern.
Joni Eareckson Tada is a great lesson for us all. Diving into shallow water as a beautiful, vivacious teenager, she broke her neck, becoming a quadriplegic for the rest of her life. The greatest trial of all produced the incredible character of a lifetime of service to others. Countless other lives were saved through her indefatigable witness to God’s grace! And, by the way, God, who could, never healed her body.
Sometimes our trials produce temporary symptoms, other times something that remains. Whatever the case they are intended by God for a providential purpose in your life, a purpose just for you because God knows what you can do with it, if you will. He knows the path of your life, the people with whom you will rub shoulders, even some to whom you will be newly introduced. These are opportunities for your life and witness to make a positive difference. Look at your trials no matter how great or small as opportunities to bless others through the building up of your character.
All your trials and testing are purposeful. They are not accidents in the sense they are purely random and without divine purpose. You can only deal purposefully and positively with them if you have God’s perspective and viewpoint. His Word is abundantly clear; they come from His hand, and they come with a loving purpose. “No pain, no gain” is true in this biblical understanding. Pain must be endured through faith, and depending on God for renewed strength, even supernatural strength. Your experiencing of suffering and overcoming gives you a platform to witness to others if indeed you have called on God and He has answered you. Do not let your trials and testing go to waste.


“Only be still, and wait his leisure in cheerful hope, with heart content to take what-e’er thy Father’s pleasure and all discerning love hath sent; nor doubt our inmost wants are known to him who chose us for his own.”
(3rd verse of Georg Neumark’s hymn, “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee,” 1641)


  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
7
May 10, 2017

PAGC 2017 Slideshow


  • Share Link:
Payh Blog
Magical Deep foggy Forest
May 04, 2017

Aching for Perfect Peace

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” – Isaiah 26:3


Your mind is the essence of a conscious, thinking you! You think, you perceive, you converse, you feel, you hurt, you enjoy, you love, you hate, you ignore, all through the mechanism and the workings of your mind. The nerves, muscles, tissues, and bones of your body are necessary elements to feeling, but it is your mind alone which tells you what is happening, what is. The mind connects body and soul. In fact, it is the mind which expresses the soul, gives your soul voice. Without the existence and activity of the mind your body is a non-directed, inactive, connected mass of tissue and bones that will fade and die. Your mind is you; housed in a human flesh and blood body, both marvelously made (Psalm 139).
Mind peace is the critical element of your health! Even if your body is wracked with cancer, peace of mind raises you above the dismal fray and allows you to walk strong in spirit, yes, even soar like an eagle. This is not pie in the sky, artificial feel-good-ism. Peace of mind is the essential element of true happiness. Yet perfect peace of mind is easier hoped for, than attained. Though sought for through every contrivance imagined by man, seeking the answer solely from the Maker is too often a last resort, or simply no seeking at all.
It is not mere peace you should be after, but what the Bible holds out to you and calls: perfect peace! That is, a peace which lasts, an unshakeable peace, peace in the eye of the storm, peace which never fails to satisfy. The most difficult thing about real life is being broadsided by the unexpected. Sustaining peace of mind when your world turns upside down is the true test of whether or not a “perfect peace” inhabits your mind, characterizes your soul.
The young men who come and live at the Paul Anderson Youth Home do not exhibit peace in their lives. They hunger for it. You see it all over them. In fact, seeking for peace they have been attracted to drugs and addictions. But such only drives them on and on in a real death spiral as nothing about addictions ever provide peace; only destruction. There is a drivenness to try a little bit or, yes, a big bit, of everything in the world all the while hungering for peace, that is, what actually satisfies. Believe it or not, the peace for which they seek is really quite near them; a lot nearer than they think. The Scriptures say God is nearer than we realize. The God of peace is actually but a step of faith from mind and heart.
This “near-God” according to the Scripture is the source to finding perfect peace, peace arising from a mind stayed on Him in the face of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 12 sets the right posture and the laser focus of the eyes of your mind and heart. Mind, because you can become unassailably fixed in your thinking, and heart, because you can come to desperately love Him. The corner of your eye frequently catches the flash of distractions which take your eye off the prize, the Lord Jesus. Perfect peace is too often squandered, drawn away by a myriad of temptations from out of the world. Many seemingly attractive things misdirect you from a fixation on Jesus and His words. But this fixation on Jesus is exactly what is necessary for perfect peace. And there will be no fixation in your mind unless you completely trust in the God who alone gives such peace.
Trust is essential. It is a trust which eschews any temptation to draw your eyes away; because He fills your life so completely you do not want any other offered substitute. Experience with substitutes always leads to eventual disappointment because they fail to provide an answer over and over. You come to know beyond a shadow of doubt that substitutes are simply worthless. Your trust of Him must become sacred. Genuine trust does not allow the intrusion of any alleged equal. There is no such thing.
This is why your mind must be stayed on Him. Trust Him! The result? Perfect peace!


“Jesus, my all in all thou art; my rest in toil, my ease in pain, the medicine of my broken heart, in war my peace, in loss my gain, my smile beneath the tyrant’s frown, in shame my glory and my crown.”
(3rd verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Thou Hidden Source of Calm Repose,” 1749)

If you enjoy this devotional, be sure to sign up to receive it in your email each Thursday!
*

If you respond and have not already registered, you will receive periodic updates and communications from Paul Anderson Youth Home.

You can unsubscribe at any time.


  • Share Link:
Get Involved Background Image

Get Involved

This ministry has endured for almost 60 years because God has blessed us with faithful partners. Through friends like you, He ensures that we have the help we need to accomplish our mission. Click the button below to learn more, whether you’re interested in volunteering, making a one-time gift, or becoming a monthly contributor.