Echoes From the Campfire

Turbulent times are a temptation to trust something else, usually anger and revenge and both lead to destruction of faith.”

                         –Cliff Hudgins  (Grandpa’s Legacy)

       “Alas for the day!  For the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as destruction from the Almighty.  Is not the food cut off before our eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our God?”
                         –Joel 1:15-16(NKJV)
Eschatological prophecy, in plain words prophecy concerning the end times.  Prophecy is one of those things that is a conundrum to me.  First of all, it is intriguing.  God’s Word will and is being fulfilled in regard to the end times.  However, I disdain those who read what they want into prophecy.  This means that and so on…when we really don’t know for sure.  Only as prophecy is fulfilled (Prophetic Light) can we be certain as to what it fully is.  In saying that, I will also say that there are things that are cut and dry.  What is said is what is meant.
       There is something intriguing, something that we need to ponder, and something that we need to watch that is going on in Iraq.  No, it is not another war, or the development of nuclear weapons, or another Isalmic terror group.  It seems that we are seeing the prophecy regarding the Euphrates River come to pass.

               “The water level of the Euphrates River, which originates in Turkey and flows through Syria and Iraq, has been declining since January 2021 as many experts and humanitarian organizations have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe if the river level continues to recede and the resulting threat to the lives of millions of residents.”

This is a major problem for the area.  The river being so low it is stagnating.  There are high levels of metal in the water, along with disease bearing organisms.  Irrigation has drastically dropped causing food shortages.  “The mortality rate of new livestock births this year exceeded 65% of the total births…”  This is related to the quality and the amount of water.  The UN has warned of serious future problems for Iraq, “Iraq’s water resources ministry warned in a shocking report last December that the continuing loss of water from the Tigris and the Euphrates, which form the backbone of its fresh water supplies, could turn the country into a ‘land without rivers by 2040.'”

       Some say it is due to climate change and perhaps that is partially true.  That is the hot word today–climate change–but the issue goes beyond that.  We may or may not be having climate change, time will bear that out, but there is something happening that is beyond climate.  And before you say that it is all natural, remember God controls nature, He directs it and supervises over it.
       I will now point out that there is more to it than the natural element, but there is a spiritual element as well.

                    “Then the sixth angel sounded:  And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’  So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.”
                                   –Revelation 9:13-15 (NKJV)

It seems that there are four evil angels bound at the Euphrates.  This is not to speculate who they are, or why they were bound, however we do know they were prepared for a certain time in the future.  A time to come, perhaps not too far away.  But let’s continue.

                    “Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.”
                                    –Revelation 16:12 (NKJV)

Continue reading verses 13-16 and you will see that the reason for this is for these armies to gather at Armageddon.
       So is what is happening with the Euphrates just happenstance?  Or is the hand of God behind it directing the course that will bring about the great battle that will destroy the rule of the Antichrist?  
       While you take the time to ponder these things, I want to draw your attention back to Revelation 9.  The inhabitants of the earth, both animal and man, are being destroyed by famine, pestilence, disease, war, wild beasts, fire from heaven, and demons/evil angels.  There is terror and fear like has never been seen on the earth before.  Death and torment abound…YET…

                    “And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”
                                    –Revelation 9:21 (NKJV)

       With all that is happening on earth.  With all the judgments that the Lord is bringing and allowing to happen, man still will not repent.  He is so arrogant and has been so trained and deceived that he still refuses to repent.  Woe unto man…


Echoes From the Campfire

Survival is determined by the honed skills of the one cutting a trail.”

                    –Cliff Hudgins  (Viejo and the Hunted Ranger)

       “I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever.  Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it.  God does it, that men should bear before Him.”
                    –Ecclesiastes 3:14(NKJV)
Charles Swindwoll, in his book, Living on the Ragged Edge, wrote, “In this ragged-edge reality called earthly existence, life is somewhere between sad and bad.”  Look at the world around you and what do you see?  There is famine and drought, fires and floods–the ravages of nature.  So many people are bored therefore they turn to gaming.  Life is painful, full of headaches and heartaches.  The media is filled with reports of murder, hate, rape, assault, arson, and add to that sickness, the virus, broken lives, and perhaps worst of all distorted minds.
       With all of that what does man do?  He turns to fantasy.  “To infinity and beyond!”  “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”  Go “where no man has gone before.”  And what is the purpose of all of this?  To escape.  To create a fantasy world so you can cope with the real world.  To think of yourself in another world experience, one where there are not the same problems that you face day-in-and-day-out.  Man is seeking a vertical life, but he lives in a horizontal one.  Fantasize all you want, tomorrow will bring its own problems, but first you deal with those the day.  Maybe you don’t have any real problems but are tired of the same old routine that life affords.  You are in a rut, and remember a rut is a grave with two ends removed.  Swindoll states, “There is no hell on earth like horizontal living without God.”
       God has made everything beautiful in its time.  Not our time, but His.  He has put eternity in our hearts, that is one reason man seeks a vertical life, but it is impossible…until that day in which we find ourselves in glory with God.  What a minute, I can hear you–not everything is good, and you are correct.  There is sickness, there is evil, there is the lack of moral restraint.  But if you are a believer, you look at things with a different perspective or at least you should.  Paul wrote to the Romans, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (8:28, NKJV)
       We have the ability to rejoice.  To rejoice in the midst of life’s situations.  We can enjoy life and do not have to escape for we are living by grace in this world rejoicing in what God is doing.  The Amplified Version of Philippians says this, “Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!” (4:4)  We have the ability, even in the midst of this insane and evil world to rejoice and do good because God is at work in our lives.  Therefore, read Ecclesiastes 3:12-22 with a New Testament, Holy Spirit directed perspective.  God performs things that cultivate respect for Him and repeats things until they are learned.  
       Let me close with some instructions from the Methodist minister William Sangster.  In one of his sermons he gave directions on how to live and accept life.  First, never make conditions with God.  He makes conditions with us.  Second, God retains the right to say “No.”  Third, we are going to be unshaken in discipleship, whatever happens.  That is that way to live, come what may, I will not be moved I will not be shaken for I have a trust in the Almighty God.  One more word from Sangster, in 1958, he was diagnosed with an incurable disease.  When he learned of his diagnosis, he made four resolutions:  “I will never complain.  I will keep the home bright.  I will count my blessings.  I will try to turn it to gain.”
       Learn to live this life, now in fear nor down in the mully-grubs, but in victory and rejoicing.  “Faith is the victory . . . that overcomes the world.” (John H. Yates)


Echoes From the Campfire

The desert or mountain man was forever lifting his eyes to the peaks or to the stars; it was no wonder that men of the wilderness knew so much about the flight of birds and the habits of animals. In cities a man’s eyes were on the ground, or rarely above eye level.”

                         –Louis L’Amour  (Kid Rodelo)

       “For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.”
                         –Psalm 31:3 (NKJV)
We live in a world that encourages us to go faster, faster, faster.  Seek more thrills, get to the top without working your way up, no matter how, just get there.  Go higher, go longer, go faster.  Whew, I’m starting to sweat just thinking of the effort.  Get a faster drive, you need to get on the internet quicker.  Hasten your pace, you’re going too slow.  Go, go, go, and if we’re not careful even as Christians we can get in the proverbial rat-race around us.
       Barbara Kingsolver said that we “need to be able to taste grace and know once again that we desire it.”  Ponder that for I think we often forget grace.  Oh, we remember it when we’re in a bind.  But we don’t take the time to “taste” it.  We get so busy with life that we forget to rest.  Few will get eight hours of sleep, and fewer yet will have a good night’s sleep.  Their body may be supine but their mind is still racing as they go to bed.  Sometimes it is planning for tomorrow, or worrying about their bank account or lack of it.
       There is so much to do that we don’t think of God’s grace unless someone reminds us, or perhaps we’re in a church service instead of watching the kids play ball.  Go here, go there, and we either take the kids with us or we go because of them.  What are we teaching children if on Monday they have basketball, on Tuesday gymnastics, on Wednesday instead of church it is tumbling, Thursday might be a night to recover, but no, there’s a party, and Friday, my land, Friday is game night.  On top of it all there is practice after school and in the morning before school there is band practice.  Whew, the youngster can’t rest, and when they do they head straight for their phone or the game room.
       Have you ever sat watching the sunrise with all of its different hues?  Now I don’t expect the kids to get up to see it, but they can look out over the lake in the evening and watch it set.  The Holy Spirit is a masterful painter.  His artwork is never the same and it is amazing how He moves and mixes the colors.  How about on the plains, looking at the wind blowing the wheatfields as if they were waves of the sea and in the distance you can see a storm brewing, smell the coming rain, and even see it falling miles from where you are standing.
       “Wilderness puts us in our place.  It reminds us that our plans are small and somewhat absurd.  It reminds us why, in those cases in which our plans might influence many future generations, we ought to choose carefully.” (Barbara Kingsolver)  Rush around all the time, and you’re children will do the same a generation later.  Refuse to meditate on God’s Word and contemplate it because you do not have the time, a generation later people will question the foundational truths of God’s Word.
       “But I don’t have time to go to the wilderness or view the grandeurs of God’s wondrous creation.”  I’m not saying that you have to go, but you can gaze at a landscape or observe the delicacy of a beautiful flower.  Look at it.  Amazing, the creative hand of God!  Truly it is better to actually be out in the wild, but I understand, due to our craziness and the place in which we have placed ourselves we can’t always get away.  But we can view, observe, hope and wish, long for, and take time to view, if not first-hand, the through pictures, creation.
       Remember, God sent Moses into the wilderness for forty years to learn about it.  Jesus, right after He was baptized was driven into the wilderness.  Paul spent three years in the wilderness learning to see a clearer and more indepth picture of God.  It is vital to our soul that we seek time in the “wilderness” to commune with God.  When you go, take a notebook and your Bible and ponder waiting and listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus often went to the wilderness to be by Himself, no that is not right, to be with His Father.  He took time, “On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea.” (Matthew 13:1, NKJV)
       This is one reason that I title my morning devotions, “Echoes From the Campfire.”  Look at the flames, how they flicker, how they reach for oxygen.  Remember, times of past campfires, or if you’re not a camper a special occasion with the family.  Was God speaking to you then?  Did you hear His voice, or miss it?  How about now, as you see the mystical flames of the campfire, what are they echoing?  As I have said many times, “Life is living,” not rushing to and from searching for this and that and worrying about the next paycheck or how you’re going to pay for gas, and what if the shelves are empty, and what about the next pandemic? Relax, rest in the Lord for He cares for you.


Echoes From the Campfire

One thing we learned. To make a start and keep plugging.”

                    –Louis L’Amour  (Galloway)

       “Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].”
                    –1 Peter 5:7 (Amplified)
          8 — You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it.
          9 — You prepared room for it, and caused it to take deep root, and it filled the land.
         10 — The hills were covered with its shadow, and the mighty cedars with its boughs.
         11 — She sent out her boughs to the Sea, and her branches to the River.
         12 — Why have You broken down her hedges, so that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit?
         13 — The boar out of the woods uproots it, and the wild beast of the field devours it.
         14 — Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts; look down from heaven and see, and visit this vine
         15 — And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted, and the branch that You made strong for Yourself.
         16 — It is burned with fire, it is cut down; they perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
         17 — Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
         18 — Then we will not turn back from You; revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
         19 — Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved!” (NKJV)

Have you ever thought of yourself as part of the vine?  Psalm 80 is one that speaks of the vine referring to Israel.  One small branch connected to the main stem from where the sap flows to give nourishment.  We should, we are told to abide in the vine.  We are to live off the true Vine–Jesus Christ.  Being off the main vine the smaller vines are subject to abuse.  The sun might beat down on them, people and animals brush against them.  The fruit that is borne there are plucked off sometimes not too carefully.
       We are, as the vines, the branches, to cling to the main vine.  We cling to Him in the nightime, and when the sun scorches down.  We cling to Him through the storms and our only hope is that we are tied securely to the Vine.  The sun and the rain are needed, but it is the Vine that is life-giving.  Our character is seen only as we cling to the heavenly Vine.  If we become cut off all is then lost, however, that does not mean that there may not be many prunings.  There may be pain, but the growth is better and stronger than ever.
       But woe to the vine that does not produce fruit.  It is better to be cut off and cast into the fire.  We, as the vine connected to the Vine are to be bearers of fruit.  Some may say I can’t bear such and such fruit, but that is a lie.  There is one fruit of the Spirit bearing nine characteristics.  When one says they do not have the fruit of peace they are trying to live peace in the natural and not in the Spirit.  Also remember, it takes time for fruit to grow; it must blossom and ripen, then it is fit for use.
       Vines are able to regenerate quickly.  I remember that Pappy tore out all his black raspberries and blackberries vines and threw them down in the woods.  In a short time, they were growing and producing the most tasty berries.  See, it was man that tore them out, that bruised them, but they were not to be denied the production of their fruit.  We are the same, we are planted by the right hand of God, He will make us strong for Him, but we must abide.

                    “It is a thing most wonderful,
                    Almost too wonderful to be,
                    That God’s own Son
                    Should come from heaven,
                    And die to save a child like me.”
                              –William W. How