Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One Bad Apple - July 31, 2012

Galatians 5:19-21 (New International Reader's Version)
19 What the sinful nature does is clear. It enjoys sexual sins, impure acts and wild living. 20 It worships statues of gods. It also worships evil powers. It is full of hatred and fighting. It is full of jealousy and fits of anger. It is interested only in getting ahead. It stirs up trouble. It separates people into their own little groups. 21 It wants what others have. It gets drunk and takes part in wild parties. It does many things of that kind. I warn you now as I did before. People who live like that will not receive God's kingdom.

We have long heard the adage that one bad apple can spoil the whole bushel. The thing about our lives and our characters is that we all produce "fruit". What I mean is this, our daily acts, the things we do, reflect what is at the root of our existence, and as we go about our lives we will show what we are made of. If we grow in the things of the world, the fruit we produce will be reflective of that worldly life-style. To the world, these fruits are seemingly okay; besides, "why not do whatever you want to do as long as your not hurting anybody", but to God these are in direct opposition to Him. Living in this way shows that you would rather turn your back on Him.

Reading this list of the "sinful nature" gives us a good picture of how to live a life in total opposition to being a Christian, but even for Christians, the bad fruit can sometimes be found in the bushel basket of our lives. It is hard to always produce good fruit, but if we fully and completely surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, it will be much easier. Our aim should be to sink our roots deep into the Word of God, and allow ourselves to be governed by the Holy Spirit. If we do so, we will produce good fruit.

Photo "Adam's Apple; temptation was great" by Dimitri C from stock.xchng

Monday, July 30, 2012

In His Service - July 30, 2012

1 Peter 4:10 (New International Version, ©2010)
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

What is your reaction when you see the guys at the street corners with signs in their hand stating, "Broke", "Hungry", "Homeless", "Need Food", "Please Help", ..."God Bless"? Are you afraid of them? Do you roll up your windows and lock your car doors? How about the people on the street looking for a handout? Do you walk around them looking the other way, or stare onto the sidewalk? Does it matter if the one who is begging is an adult or a child? What breaks your heart more? Does it break your heart at all?

Most of us if we see a sight like this react to it one way or the other. What we do and how we react is what is important. I believe God provides these people in our lives. For each of us it becomes a test of whether or not our faith has flesh and blood; whether or not we will truly live out what we are taught. Jesus was compelled to help those who were in need; I can't recall a situation in the gospels where he did not act out of compassion for the hurting.

As those who call on his name as our Lord, we must do the same. If we are not compelled to do something to help our fellow man, we need to check our Christian pulse. I pray that all of our hearts will always be prompted by the Holy Spirit to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and to serve all of those who are in need of a touch from the Savior.

Photo by rubenshito, "Little girl and the beggar", August 28, 2007.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Carved to Perfection - July 29, 2012

Psalm 138:8 (English Standard Version)
8The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Psalm 138:8 (New International Reader's Version)
8 Lord, you will do everything you have planned for me.
Lord, your faithful love continues forever.
You have done so much for us. Don't stop now.

When a wood carver looks to carve a piece of art, he goes through a number of steps to create a piece of art that can be enjoyed. First he visualizes in his imagination what he wants to carve. Then he usually will draw our what he has in mind. He selects a piece of wood that will fit the project, and then he begins. During the carving, he will often look at his drawing, but along the way, he will usually count on his mental image as he guides the chisel.

Sooner or later he will just let his mind and hands take over, and allows the inspiration within carve out what he has envisioned. Many times he will move around the object, taking off the rough pieces of wood, bit by bit. Only when he is finished can he stand back and admire what he has done, and have the satisfaction that he has created a thing of beauty.

In speaking to the prophet Jeremiah, God said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”Jeremiah 1:5(NIV)God had a place and a time that he would be born, and a specific task that Jeremiah would do. He was made to fulfill God's purposes, and the words penned by prophet still speak to God's people over 2600 years later, testifying to the reason why every unborn life is precious.

God had a vision of what he wanted you to be and what He wanted you to do. He has envisioned that all He has created would fulfill His divine will, and accomplish God's purposes. Just as a wood carver first envisions his work, God knew the beautiful work of art that you would be. The Bible tells us in Philippians 1:6,"that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus". God has a plan to finish the work that He has started in you.

Perhaps something you will do, or write, or a child that you will have or inspire, will have an amazing spiritual impact for God many centuries from now. The only way is if you are obedient to His call, and you listen to His direction, and one day you will stand before Him, and He will admire that He has truly created a person of beauty.

Photo from Popular Mechanics Instructables website "Wood Chiseling"

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday Praise! - July 28, 2012

Psalm 92 (New International Version, ©2010)

1 It is good to praise the LORD
and make music to your name, O Most High,
2 proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
3 to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.

4 For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
5 How great are your works, LORD,
how profound your thoughts!
6 Senseless people do not know,
fools do not understand,
7 that though the wicked spring up like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they will be destroyed forever.

8 But you, LORD, are forever exalted.

9 For surely your enemies, LORD,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
10 You have exalted my horn[b] like that of a wild ox;
fine oils have been poured on me.
11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

Photo "Playing Harp" by Gerrit, 10-27-2005 from stock.xchng

Friday, July 27, 2012

Giving God the Glory - July 27, 2012

Psalm 115(New King James Version)
1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
2 Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”

3 But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
5 They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
6 They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
7 They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
8 Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.

9 O Israel, trust in the LORD;
He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD;
He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD;
He is their help and their shield.

12 The LORD has been mindful of us;
He will bless us;
He will bless the house of Israel;
He will bless the house of Aaron.
13 He will bless those who fear the LORD,
Both small and great.

14 May the LORD give you increase more and more,
You and your children.
15 May you be blessed by the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

16 The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s;
But the earth He has given to the children of men.
17 The dead do not praise the LORD,
Nor any who go down into silence.
18 But we will bless the LORD
From this time forth and forevermore.

Praise the LORD!

Today starts the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England. As is custom the opening ceremonies will be quite a spectacle, highlighting the best the host country has to offer. Many billions of people from all across the globe will be watching the atheletes from their respective countries as they march into the Olympic Stadium.

If only God could be given as much glory as is given to those who participate in these types of events! If only we were able to recognize, that for all of the athletic ability that will be highlighted during these competative games, it is God who has made it possible for each one of the participants to be there. It is God that has created this place and time, and it is to Him that we should give all glory, honor and praise.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Getting Ready - July 26, 2012

Luke 12:40(GOD’S WORD Translation)
40Be ready, because the Son of Man will return when you least expect him.”

Day in and day out, many of us spend alot of time getting ready. No, I don't mean to go to work or school, but we spend alot of time in preparation for what we are going to do. Athletes spend time at their sport getting ready for the big event. Musicians spend alot of time practicing for a concert or their recital. Artists and Architects do alot of sketches and preliminary work before they render their creation to paper or canvas.

Sales people practice their "pitch" to be as convincing as possible when presented with a customer. The millitary drills, drills, drills and spend alot of time on maneuvers before they go to war. Physicians spend years in school, residency and pouring through journals making sure they are prepared for that life or death case.

Attorneys study case law for years to make sure that the correct verdicts are rendered when they plead a case before judge and jury. Even ministers do alot of research into the meaning of this or that before they preach the Word of God, to accurately give their congregations the truths of God. No matter the occupation or the endeavor, we spend alot of time getting ready.

Do you make the same effort getting ready for the return of Jesus Christ? Do you take the time necessary preparing yourself and others for the coming of eternity. Are you just as focused on making sure that everyone you encounter is also ready to meet their Maker? If we are honest, for most of us the answer is "NO", yet we will spend far more time after life than before our death. And who knows, maybe Jesus WILL comeback in our lifetime.
Will you be ready?

Photo "Preparation Inspirational Picture 2" by Nabil Medawar, 11-24-2009, from Inspirationfalls.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Storm Warnings - July 25, 2012

2 Peter 3:10-12 (New King James Version)
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.[laid bare]

11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

Have you heard that mariner's warning, "red sky in morning, sailors take warning"? It means that if the sky is red in the morning, the day will have bad weather. It's just one of the warnings that we are confronted with on a daily basis.

We have warning signs and warning labels, and warnings on our clothes. We have tornado warnings and ice-storm warnings, and warnings about all kinds of weather. We are warned about fats and warned about cholestrol, and we are warned about the fact we need to lose weight. We are warned about drugs and alcohol, and warnings about all kinds of dangerous living. It seems that everywhere we turn, there is a warning about something.

As we read the Bible, we come across warnings as well, as God tries to show us what we need to do to be right with Him. What we read in its verses either stands as a testament to right living, or a warning against one's sin. But everything we are warned about culminates in a warning about the coming of the end. In several books in both the Old and New Testaments, we are warned of a coming storm, and we are warned of one fateful day, called the Day of the Lord.

The Day of the Lord will be a time when God judges mankind, and His judgement will be either a time of blessing or terrible curse. That time will spell the end of things as we know them, and the Bible is very vivid and clear about those events. That coming day will be a time of great distress and anguish for those who have not accepted the provision God has made for people. As we are told in 2 Peter, all the works of man will be burned up and destroyed. This will truly be a terrible day for those who don't believe in Jesus Christ as God's provision of salvation.

Warnings are everywhere in our lives, just in case we come too close to something that we are being warned about. They are there to keep us safe from harm. So too are God's warnings in His word. God has given us time to be saved from the coming destruction, and we are truly arrogant if we ignore them. Since we do not know "the day or the hour", what changes will you make in your life to make sure you take part in His way of escape?

Photo "Sunrise 6-7-09" by cempey, from stock.xchng

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fragile - July 24, 2012

Isaiah 51:6 (New International Version)
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment
and its inhabitants die like flies.

But my salvation will last forever,
my righteousness will never fail.

It is difficult imagining what God is like. We haven't seen Him, yet billions believe in Him. How else would all of what is around us exist? Big Bang? No, I don't think so. Chance? That means having nothing times nothing equals something. The math doesn't support that one. No one can explain our existence without God. Many deny that, and they spend a lifetime trying to prove it, but they never will. True to form, the scoffers will do anything but believe in God. Must be what they have to face up to.

God has proven Himself by what is around us. The magnificence of His creation, from the smallest of organisms to the expanse of the universe, is proof enough. Yet for the wonder of what is around us, it will all come to an end someday. Everything is fragile and everything perishes(Now that,even the scoffers do agree on). Everything dies; everything decays. With that prospect in the future of all of us, what then? Do we pass into nothingness? Many would hope so, but those with real hope in Jesus Christ know differently.

As the prophet Isaiah tells us with the words of God, everything will pass away, except God and His salvation. He provides the Way and will never fail His creation. So the next time you look into the heavens, and contemplate your existence, make sure that you have accepted God's salvation and have taken His Way. That will never pass away.

Photo from ultraorange.net

Monday, July 23, 2012

Boiling a Frog - July 23, 2012

James 1:14-15 (New Living Translation)
14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

There is a anecdote about boiling a frog that has been used to illustrate everything from business to the human situation. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually.[1]

In our own lives we tend to tolerate those little sins. It might be as benign as telling you kids to tell someone on the phone that your not home, or it could be as simple as speeding and breaking other traffic laws. Have you ever gossiped about someone at work or have you told someone that you were something you weren't? Did you "borrow" your neighbor's newspaper and failed to give it back, or did you keep the extra change a clerk mistakenly gave you? The list could go one and one, covering every aspect of life.

Yes, we tolerate those little sins, white lies, casual fibs, exagerations, inerrant glances, and others. For some you might do these things so often that you forget that what you really are doing is wrong. You become so desensitized to that "little sin" that it seems to be okay. Sooner or later those little things catch up with you and soon becomes a very big thing. It's almost like your that frog in the cold water, waiting to be boiled to death.

Why do we allow this in our lives? In God's eyes, a sin is a sin. They are all equal; they all cost Jesus the same. If this seems to be touching you and these words seem to be an illustration of your behavior, it's time to stop. You can't continue to do this without consequence. You may wonder why your spiritual life feels like its of track, or that you are venturing far from God.

If this describes you, our merciful and loving God has an answer:
1Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. 2We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God. 3Think about Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don’t become tired and give up. Hebrews 12:1-3 (GOD’S WORD Translation)

[1]"Boiling Frog" from Wikepedia
Photo "Frog 2" by Emma-frost, 8-16-2007, from stock.xchng

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Simple Life - July 22, 2012

Psalm 1:1-2(New Living Translation)
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.

2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.

How great it would be if everyone would just follow the ways of God. Our world would be much more peaceful of we left it all to Him. He gives us the instructions, if we would just take them in and live by them. Then things would really be much simpler.

Unfortunately, we are a stubborn and self-centered people, and the Word of God is contrary to our nature. We choose to go the opposite way, so our struggle is one of overcoming the consequence of our behavior.

Why not simplify your life? Why not choose to read and live by God's Word instead of our own nature? Why not keep the good company of He who made you, and leave it all to Him? Let Jesus Christ be your guide and your life will be much simpler.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saturday Praise! - July 21, 2012

Psalm 33
1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the LORD with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
4 For the word of the LORD is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.

6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blessed are Those Who Mourn - July 20, 2012

Matthew 5:4(New Century Version)
4 They are blessed who grieve,for God will comfort them.

Matthew 5:4(New International Version)
4 Blessed are those who mourn,for they will be comforted.

Most of us woke up to the terrible tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, where a young man went on a murderous rampage in a movie theater, killing 12 and injuring at least 50 others. Many young lives, the youngest being 6 years old were snuffed out in s single act violence, leaving many families in horrifying grief. Events such as these leave our entire nation stunned in disbelief as we contemplate this kind of tragedy.

It is times like these when many turn to God in hopes of finding some comfort and solace in the face of such an unbelievable event. Thankfully Jesus addressed this very thing as He shared His "Sermon on the Mount" with thousands of followers. He shared these words that gives us insight to our loving Father; God grieves with us when we are in pain and distress. He shares in our sufferings, and in His love for us, He offers us comfort.

I pray that He will truly comfort those who have lost so much, and that He will bring healing to those who are suffering from injuries. I pray that He will bring good out of this evil and that He will be glorified through the actions of the responders. I pray further that our politicians will seek His will and guidance, as they move to find a way to help prevent these events from occuring. Most of all, I pray that the hearts of men will be moved to seek the face of God, and that they will look to Jesus to truly bring them peace.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The "Beautiful" People - July19, 2012

1 Samuel 16:7(New International Version)
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Are you one who would just love to be identified with the beautiful people? Have you ever envisioned yourself taking part in the Academy Awards? Do you long for your chance to walk the red carpet under the adulation of raving fans? Are you mesmorized by seeing your favorite movie stars or favorite sports athelete? Do you fall for the opportunity to participate in events where you can be the hit of society?

We human beings really go over board with heaping praise on what is very superficial. The Academy Awards are an apporpriate illustration of this. Imagine an award ceremony where the attendees vote for their own work and themselves, then give each other awards for it? Can you think of anything as prideful? Yet thousands of people clammer for the chance to see their favorite star walking the red carpet outside of the Kodak Theater. Millions more spend hours watching television to catch a glimpse of the spectacle and hearing these people thanking each other.

In God's economy, these superficial displays are far from what He desires us to be involved in. We may be impressed by the way people look, what they do, and what they have, but God isn't. In the Book of Samuel we read about such a "red carpet" walk of sorts when the prophet Samuel visited the house of Jesse to select the next King of Israel. Jesse had seven of his sons pass before the prophet, thinking that he was looking for the strongest and "most beautiful". But Samuel made it clear that the outward appearance that impressed man did not impress God.

What is most important to God is that you are a beautiful on the inside. He seeks out the condition of the heart when He looks for beautiful people. The most lovely in God's eyes are those who serve Him and others in love, care and compassion, seeking to be obedient to His will.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

True Wealth - July 18, 2012

Luke 12:15-21 (New International Reader's Version)15 Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against wanting to have more and more things. Life is not made up of how much a person has."

16 Then Jesus told them a story. He said, "A certain rich man's land produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, 'What should I do? I don't have any place to store my crops.' 18 "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my storerooms and build bigger ones. I will store all my grain and my other things in them. 19 I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things stored away for many years. Take life easy. Eat, drink and have a good time." ' 20 "But God said to him, 'You foolish man! This very night I will take your life away from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

21 "That is how it will be for anyone who stores things away for himself but is not rich in God's eyes."

One of the biggest problems in today's society is the proper focus concerning money and the accumulation of wealth. We all get caught up in the pursuit of more and more money. What is your focus in regards to money and what you have been blessed with? Is it to save what you receive only for material possessions and retirement?

In the Book of Luke's version of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was asked to resolve a dispute a man had with his brother, concerning the fair division of their inheritance. Questioning the man as to why he was asking Jesus to be the judge and arbitrator, he related the parable noted above. Note that we are told that the man was rich, and that his lands produced a good crop.

Obviously he had been very blessed, and since "all good things come from above", the right focus would have been to acknowledge God for His blessings, and to seek God as to how he should distribute what he had been given. Instead, the man was focused only on himself, and on top of hoarding what he had for himself, he desired to store away even more. Because of the man's foolish focus on only himself, God takes it all away, even the man's life.

Jesus's teaching is very clear here, and it gives us great food for thought as we consider what true wealth is all about. God provides us with everything we have; our money and possessions; our very lives. He expects us to have proper focus in regards to the blessings He gives us. The message to the man and audience as well is that his concern is wrongly placed in God's mind.

First, we need to always acknowledge that God is our provider, and second, we need to seek Him when it comes to how we use what we have been given. Third, we need to share the blessings that come to us, be it money or financial, or be it talent or ability. In God's economy it does not matter the amount of money and wealth you have, but the heart in which it is received and how it is ultimately utilized. As you increase your understanding about true wealth, seek the riches God offers in your investment in the eternal.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Light of the World - July 17, 2012

John 8:12(New Living Translation)
12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

In our world many are trapped in a life of sin and death. Almost every place you turn, there is an undercurrent of evil that pervades daily life. Many times this remains hidden behind the scenes, but every so often it comes to the surface. Yes, we read and watch daily as bad things are shown happening in the media, but occassionally it boils over and is revealed in a big way. Examples of this would be 9/11 or even the riots lately in London. Those who live surrounded by evil will eventually reveal themselves out in the open.

Counter to this is exhibited daily by those who follow Jesus Christ. Because He has freed believers from sin and death, and defeated evil, they are free to "walk in the light". That means that the good thing they do can be done freely in the open, bringing God glory, and revealing to others what is available as a follower of Jesus. Life in the light of God brings joy and peace, and this fact brings "light" to every dark corner of this world.

How do we see this? It is seen in the face of those who have been surpressed and abused in places all over the world, where the only real good is brought to them by the followers of Christ. It is seen in the faces of those who come in from the street, to feel the warmth and caring of those who love Jesus and are willing to give them food for thier bellies and their soul. It is also seen in the persistent prayers and smiling kindness of those who bring comfort in hospitals and hospice.

No matter where you turn, the darkness of tragedy and evil can be illuminated through the love of Jesus. Be sure that His love shining in your heart is shared with all of those who come in contact with you.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bedtime Prayers - July 16, 2012

Psalm 16(New Century Version)

1 Protect me, God,
because I trust in you.
2 I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord.
Every good thing I have comes from you."
3 As for the godly people in the world,
they are the wonderful ones I enjoy.
4 But those who turn to idols
will have much pain.
I will not offer blood to those idols
or even speak their names.

5 No, the Lord is all I need.
He takes care of me.
6 My share in life has been pleasant;
my part has been beautiful.

7 I praise the Lord because he advises me.
Even at night, I feel his leading.
8 I keep the Lord before me always.
Because he is close by my side,
I will not be hurt.
9 So I rejoice and am glad.
Even my body has hope,
10 because you will not leave me in the grave.
You will not let your holy one rot.
11 You will teach me how to live a holy life.
Being with you will fill me with joy;
at your right hand I will find pleasure forever.

Remember when you were little and your mom or dad used to tuck you in and say your prayers with you? Remember how it was (or maybe is) to tuck in your own children and pray with them? Do you remember what you prayed for? Do you still say your prayers right before you go to sleep?

It is at times like these, just before we go to sleep when we trust God the most. Think about this; we are getting ready to fall asleep and leave all that happens in the waking world around us to God. Whatever happens, He is the One left in charge. He is our only sentry, that will protect us from all that happens. Imagine that; rarely do we ever trust Him more!

The psalm above makes for a good bedtime prayer. Tonight, right before you are ready to fall asleep, pull out your Bible and read slowly through this psalm. Break out each verse and each idea, and lift them to God. He will protect you this night; He will lead you and make sure that you do not get hurt. Take pleasure in knowing that He will watch over you.

Picture from Diane's Peaceful Hush, "A Mother's Bedtime Prayer"

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Once Saved, Always Saved? - July 15, 2012

Hebrews 6:4-6 (New International Version)
4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Hebrews 6:4-6 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
4Some people once had God’s light. They experienced the heavenly gift and shared in the Holy Spirit. 5They experienced the goodness of God’s word and the powers of the world to come. 6Yet, they have deserted Christ. They are crucifying the Son of God again and publicly disgracing him. Therefore, they cannot be led a second time to God.

Can you lose your salvation? Once you have believed and accepted that Jesus died as a payment in full for our sins, can you fall back into a sinful life and be lost forever? This has always been a hard passage for many, and it has always been a source of anxiety for Christians.

The Bible seems to state so clearly that once we come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that God will not ever let you fall away. Read these words from Jesus:

John 6:37-40 (New Living Translation)
37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

Paul also touched on this in these verses from his letter to the Romans:

Romans 8:35-39 (New International Reader's Version)

35 Who can separate us from Christ's love? Can trouble or hard times or harm or hunger? Can nakedness or danger or war? 36 It is written,
"Because of you, we face death all day long.
We are considered as sheep to be killed." —(Psalm 44:22)

37 No! In all these things we will do even more than win! We owe it all to Christ, who has loved us.

38 I am absolutely sure that not even death or life can separate us from God's love. Not even angels or demons, the present or the future, or any powers can do that. 39 Not even the highest places or the lowest, or anything else in all creation can do that. Nothing at all can ever separate us from God's love because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.

There has long been a dispute between those who believe in "eternal security" and those who don't. Those on the "eternal security" side state that once you have been saved, even if you backslide (fall back into a sinful lifestyle), you will always be saved from going to hell. The other side believes that if you fall back into a sinful lifestyle, you can lose your salvation and end up in hell. The verses above in Hebrews certainly seem to confirm this.

This is how I see it: First of all, if your conscience is bothering you whether or not you have passed the point stated in the verse above, then you are probably alright. Not that you should be testing God by continuing to sin, but I believe that if you truly believe with you whole being that Jesus Christ died for your sins, you have accepted His work on the cross, that God has forgiven you, and from that point on you will seek to lead a new life God's way, you are going to spend eternity with Him. The Bible is too full of promises for the repentant believer for it to be any other way.

The important word here is "repentance", turning away from your former life of sin. Once you have accepted Christ's work of salvation, a believer should always be continually working on living the right way with God's help, and working on Jesus being the Lord of their life:

Philippians 2:12-13 (New International Version)
12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Second of all, it defeats God's purpose for our lives if we are constantly wondering if we are saved or not. Christ died once in for all for the sins of all the people; past, present and future. Once we have accepted this, we need to move on, working daily to know God better and seeking to please Him. Doing otherwise, puts the focus on our works, rather than on what Jesus did on our behalf.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (New International Version)
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

So if you are worried whether or not you will lose your salvation, good. Stop doing the things you shouldn't, turn away from it and start leading the life that God expects you to live.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday Praise! - July 14, 2012

Psalm 75 (New International Reader's Version)
1 God, we give thanks to you.
We give thanks because your Name is near.
People talk about the wonderful things you have done.
2 You say, "I choose the appointed time to judge people.
And I judge them fairly.
3 When the earth and all of its people tremble,
I keep everything from falling to pieces.

4 To the proud I say, 'Don't brag anymore.'
To sinners I say, 'Don't show off your power.
5 Don't show it off against me.
Don't speak with your noses in the air.' "
6 No one from east or west or north or south
can act as judge.
7 God is the One who judges.
He says to one person, "You are guilty."
To another he says, "You are not guilty."
8 In the hand of the Lord is a cup.
It is full of wine mixed with spices.
It is the wine of his anger.
He pours it out. All of the evil people on earth
drink it down to the very last drop.
9 I will speak about this forever.
I will sing praise to the God of Jacob.
10 God will destroy the power of all sinful people.
But he will make godly people more powerful.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Taming the Tongue - July 13, 2012

James 3:7-10(New Living Translation)
7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!

One of the biggest problems among Christians I "hear" these days, is what we say to or about each other. Granted, the world hurls alot of insults and gossip back and forth, and many are professionals when it comes to "dissing" one another, but this shouldn't be the case for Christ followers. Unfortunately, their are many in the church that need their "tongue tied"!

Why has it become so easy for Christians to speak badly about another? There was a time when those that claimed the mantle of Jesus Christ were considered to be above that sort of thing. Anything bad and evil thing said to another would have subjected that person to severe punishment from other Christians around them.

In fact in Romans 1:29-32, the apostle Paul compares those who speak evil, slanderers and gossips, with murderers and worthy of a death sentence! Pretty strong words for those who engage in something that we hear each and everyday. Why do so many relish their time saying things about other people? Why are they so casual in allowing another to be destroyed by what is said?

Instead we need to be about lifting each other up as fellow believers of God. Jesus died for each and every one of us, both Christian and non-Christian, and we have no right to do such things to any other person. If God thinks so highly about those He has created, who are we to think any less? Who are we to say anything bad about another?

If you find yourself participating with those who do such things, it is time you confessed your sin and asked for God to help you. Maybe it is because you never really thought about it in this way, so starting today, why not start anew? Train yourself to always try to say something good about every other person, or if you can't, at least remain silent.

And when you hear others engaged in such things, be sure that you are the one to approach them in love and turn the conversation to something positive. You will find that you will bring blessing to all those around you.

Photo of "Oscar: Letting Go",8-14-2010. post from oscar.benninga.org

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Taking A Stand For Jesus - July 12, 2012

Matthew 10:32-33 (New International Version)
32"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

Matthew 10:32-33 (New Century Version)
32 "All those who stand before others and say they believe in me, I will say before my Father in heaven that they belong to me. 33 But all who stand before others and say they do not believe in me, I will say before my Father in heaven that they do not belong to me.

Romans 10:9-10 (New Living Translation)
9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

Revelation 3:5 (New Century Version)
5 Those who win the victory will be dressed in white clothes like them. And I will not erase their names from the book of life, but I will say they belong to me before my Father and before his angels.

Are you embarassed to be called a Christian? Do you feel uncomfortable around people at work to tell them about Jesus? Do you "wear your faith on your sleeve", meaning do the people that know you, know that you are a follower of Jesus Christ? Are you up front and personal when it comes to telling others about Him?

It is "open season" on Christians! It seems that the only people that can be bashed, insulted, despised, ridiculed and persecuted without any consequences are Christians. For many it is all a big joke that anyone believes in a guy that called himself God and died on a cross. Tell someone that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven and see how quickly you will be attacked as being offensive to others.

Yet believing in Jesus Christ as your Savior and the Lord of your life, requires that you take a stand. No one can be a closet Christian. You have to be out front about it. You need to tell everyone you know what and why you believe in Him. If you are not prepared to do so, you need to check your faith.

A time is coming when we will become more aware of the persecution our brothers and sisters in Christ face each and every day. Their hope is in the words contained in the verses above. Will you be as prepared to proudly wear the name of the One true Savior of mankind? Will you boldly tell others that you believe in Jesus?

Painting "One Nation Under God", by Jon McNaughton

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

God Forgives - July 11, 2012

Micah 7:18-19 (New International Version)
18 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Psalm 103:12 (New Century Version)
12 He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from west.

Ephesians 1:7-9 (New Century Version)
7 In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God's grace,8 which he has given to us so fully and freely. God, with full wisdom and understanding,9 let us know his secret purpose. This was what God wanted, and he planned to do it through Christ.

Romans 4:5-8 (New Century Version)
5 But people cannot do any work that will make them right with God. So they must trust in him, who makes even evil people right in his sight. Then God accepts their faith, and that makes them right with him. 6 David said the same thing. He said that people are truly blessed when God, without paying attention to their deeds, makes people right with himself.

7 "Blessed are they whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned.
8 Blessed is the person whom the Lord does not consider guilty." — Psalm 32:1–2

It is good to know that we don't have to really do anything to be forgiven by God. Jesus has done the work for us through His death on the cross, paying for our debt that we owe God for our sin and wrongdoing.

Because of this, God ignores our sins and sees Christ's righteousness when He looks at us. All we have to do is to ask for God's forgiveness and trust in Jesus' who has saved us, and to acknowledge that He rose from the dead to confirm that He was who he said He was.

You can start over today by leaving it all to Him; admit you have fallen short and are a sinner, turn from your old worldly ways, and give your life to Jesus and be led by Him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Carry Me Daddy! - July 10, 2012

Isaiah 46:4(New International Reader's Version)
4 I will continue to carry you even when you are old.
I will take good care of you even when your hair is gray.
I have made you. And I will carry you.
I will take care of you. And I will save you.
I am the Lord.

One of my favorite memories as a Dad was when my daughter was three years old. There were many times when she wanted to see what was going on, or when she needed to feel secure. It was at those times that she would lift up her little arms toward me and say, "Carry me Daddy; carry me!" Of course I would pick her up and she would smile the sweetest smile, and bury her head into my shoulder.

It was at those times that I felt most like a Dad. Now that she is seventeen, those times have been replaced by a big hug and a sigh. Still, I enjoy being that place of security and protection for my daughter, and she still looks to me to make sure that everything will be okay..

We often have those times in life where we are having problems and anxiety, not knowing what is going on around us. We long for that sense of security and protection, and that "shoulder" that we can rest our head against, and know that everything will be okay. God offers that to us; He promises us that He made us and that He will carry us. He will take good care of us until the end of our days.

Because we can't see Him, it is hard to realize that God really is there, but if you will diligently seek Him in His word and "reach out" to Him in prayer, He will bring us the relief and comfort we need. He has made us, and God will save us from whatever we are going through.

This is a reposting of a post I did some time ago; I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Discovering Hidden Treasure - July 9, 2012

Proverbs 2:1-8(New Living Translation)
1 My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.

2 Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.

3 Cry out for insight,and ask for understanding.

4 Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.

5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.

8 He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.

What if you were told that you would have the opportunity to discover a hidden treasure? Most everyone recalls the stories of pirates and buried treasure, and even the Indiana Jones movies that follows the tresure hunter on his quests. We may have even played pirates as children, and drew treasure maps for our friends to find something that was hidden. Treasure hunting carries with it a sense of excitement that we will have a chance to find something that will make us rich.

God has given us the opportunity to find hidden treasure. He has placed instructions and a guide of how to find this treasure in His word. Once we learn to read and understand where we are being guided, we will find riches and treasure that will be beyond measure. The wealth of what He gives is beyond worldly comparison. All we have to do is to accept His book of instruction, open it, and begin our search. Once you do, you will never be poor again, because you will receive riches for your soul.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Persistent Prayer - July 8, 2012

1 Samuel 2:1-10 (New International Version)
1 Then Hannah prayed and said:
"My heart rejoices in the LORD;
in the LORD my horn(strength) is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.
2 "There is no one holy like the LORD;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

3 "Do not keep talking so proudly
or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the LORD is a God who knows,
and by him deeds are weighed.

4 "The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.

5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry hunger no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.

6 "The LORD brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.

7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.

8 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.
"For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's;
upon them he has set the world.

9 He will guard the feet of his saints,
but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.
"It is not by strength that one prevails;

10 those who oppose the LORD will be shattered.
He will thunder against them from heaven;
the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.
"He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn(strength)of his anointed."

Have you ever been in a difficult situation that day after day, month after month, continued on without a favorable outcome? You may have sought God in prayer and cried out to Him for relief, but the situation continued without God's help. After awhile, you grew so tired of your trouble that you raised your voice in anguish, wondering why the Lord had forgotten you. You began to doubt that God would ever help, and you may have resigned yourself to the fact that maybe God had closed His ears to your plea, and that nothing would ever change.

In the Book of 1Samuel in the Bible, Hannah found herself in that same situation. She was the favored second wife of her husband, but for some reason she was unable to bear any children. In those days, a woman's value in society many times determined by her ability to bear her husband sons. In Hannah's case, she had to stand by in shame while year after year the other wife had child after child for her husband.

Instead of giving up, Hannah appealed to a higher authority. She poured her heart out to God and He remembered her plea:

10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. 11 And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head."
20 So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."- 1 Samuel 1:10-11;20(New International Version)

In thanksgiving for God remembering her plea, Hannah lifted up the prayer posted above. She gives God all of the glory for remembering His humble servant, and she characterizes the goodness of God as she prays.

If you have been troubled for along time with a difficult situation, don't give up hope, learn a lesson from Hannah. Lift your heart to the Lord. God hears and loves you, and in His perfect timing He will bring you relief from your trouble. He knows the beginning from the end and He will remember your plea. Be patient and always lift Him up in praise, and when your difficulty comes to an end, be sure to give Him the glory, praise and thanks that He is due.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday Praise! - July 7, 2012

Psalm 62(New International Reader's Version)
1 I find my rest in God alone.
He is the One who saves me.

2 He alone is my rock. He is the One who saves me.
He is like a fort to me. I will always be secure.

3 How long will you enemies attack me?
Will all of you throw me down?
I'm like a leaning wall.
I'm like a fence that is about to fall.

4 You only want to pull me down
from my place of honor.
You take delight in telling lies.
You bless me with what you say.
But in your hearts you call down curses on me.


5 I will find my rest in God alone.
He is the One who gives me hope.

6 He alone is my rock. He is the One who saves me.
He is like a fort to me. I will always be secure.

7 I depend on God to save me and to honor me.
He is my mighty rock. He is my place of safety.

8 Trust in him at all times, you people.
Tell him all of your troubles.
God is our place of safety.


9 Ordinary people are only a breath.
Important people are not what they seem to be.
If they were weighed on a scale, they wouldn't amount to anything.
Together they are only a breath.

10 Don't trust in money you have taken from others.
Don't be proud of things you have stolen.
Even if your riches grow,
don't put your trust in them.

11 God, I have heard you say two things.
One is that you, God, are strong.
12 The other is that you, Lord, are loving.
I'm sure you will reward each person
in keeping with what he has done.

Photo "Oh Mighty Rock", by Urban Idealist, 10-17-2010, from flikr

Friday, July 6, 2012

One Nation, Under God, Indivisible? - July 6, 2012

Matthew 12:25(New International Version)
25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand."

Luke 11:17(GOD’S WORD Translation)
17Since Jesus knew what they were thinking, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is ruined. A house divided against itself falls."

On June 16, 1858, at the Springfield, Illinois, statehouse for the Republican State Convention, Abraham Lincoln gave what was thought at the time to be a very politically incorrect speech in which he referenced this statement from Jesus. In the speech, where he was rallying his fellow Republicans to not give up in the battle to resolve the slavery debate, he stated that "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

He was speaking about the confusion that existed about whether a new state should be admitted into the Union as slave or free. His statement was meant to say that in one way or the other, the debate would somehow be settled. In a few short years from this date, the United States would be embroiled in the Civil War that would cost hundreds of thousands of lives to finally settle the issue.

Over the last few decades, there has arisen a split in this country over a secular government that dismisses any government intervention in the morality of its citizens, but promotes the government interference in the economic freedoms of the people, versus a government that allowed its citizens freedom to pursue economic and personal freedom, within the moral limitation of government as allowed by the conscience of its citizens.

For example, those who are pro-abortion want total freedom to allow unrestricted abortion, yet it would have the government force citizens to have to pay for everyones access to abortions. On the other hand, the otherside feels that no citizens should be forced to have to pay for abortions if they are not willing, but feel that the unborn child has the right to life that should be protected by the government.

We live in a Nation that is very divided these days over many issues concerning economic and moral issues, and I feel that the divide is getting wider. These are issues of right and wrong, and you have to be on one side or the other. There really is little gorund for compromise, because what middle ground is there in whether or not a baby should live? And, what middle ground is there between whether or not you have economic freedom rather than the government dictating what you can do and what you can earn? As in Abraham Lincoln's day, our National issues will be resolved one way or another. It is only a matter of time.

And what has caused our great National divide? My belief is that at one time in our history, moral and economic issues were settled based on what God's word found in the Bible said about a particular issue. The same was true for the issue of slavery. True Bible believing Christians were against the enslavement of men, because in Jesus Christ there was "neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free"(Galatians 3:28). All were equal in the eyes of God. Others tried to twist Scripture to make a defense for slavery, but there was no room for the middle. You were either for it or against it, and the Bible was clearly against it.

I believe there is hope for our Nation that can be found in our Pledge of Allegiance as approved by Congress in 1954. We can only hope to settle our Nation's ills and issues by being citizens that are united as "one Nation, under God", and can only be a Nation "indivisible" if we commit ourselves and our allegiance to our God. Through Jesus Christ we are truly able to live lives of freedom, and only through God can we truly survive as a Nation.

This is a re-posting of a previous entry I made, but it is as relavent to day as it was when I posted it before. Now especially, we are entering a time when our participation in the electoral process of our Nation is needed more than ever. The choice we make on behalf of God, freedom and liberty will define what our country will be like for generations to come. Make sure your voice is heard this election cycle, so that the voices of your children will not be ones of scorn for what has been left to them.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In Defense of Liberty - July 5, 2012

Lamentations 3:33-36 (New International Version)
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men. 34 To crush underfoot all prisoners in the land, 35 to deny a man his rights before the Most High, 36 to deprive a man of justice— would not the Lord see such things?

Tyranny, oppression, the abolition of human rights, etc., these are not things of God. As we have read in previous posts, He has placed freedom in every heart, and although He does appoint rulers over the people, He expects justice and liberty for all. It is the obligation and right of all people to oppose tyranny and injustice whenever they can. We are to be God's standard bearer as we seek governance that is moral and righteous.

As we close out another Independence Day holiday, remember that without the involvement of the people, our Nation cannot stand forever. Ask yourself what you would do if you woke up one day, and all of your rights had been taken away?

"Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. ... Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us."

John Hancock,1st Signer of the Declaration of Independence --History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day! - July 4, 2012

Luke 4:17-19 (New International Version)
17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

2 Corinthians 3:17 (New International Version)
17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

In his anticipation of what he was about to be a part of, John Adams,2nd U.S. President and signer of the Declaration of Independence, wrote the following:

"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever."
--Adams wrote this in a letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776.

Not that the Scripture verses above apply directly to Independence Day, but wherever there is freedom, there are the "fingerprints" of God. God has instilled in every heart the desire to be free; freedom of self-expression, freedom to assemble, freedom to worship, freedom to govern ourselves. God laid out the first framework for governing ourselves in the Ten Commandments(Deuteronomy, Chapter 5), and it later served as a basis by which we established our own declarations and laws in the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.

As you celebrate this 4th of July, Independence Day, take the time with your family to read these God inspired documents. Teach your children and grandchildren about what we have as a Nation, and the importance of defending our rights and freedoms. Participate in your own governance, and make it clear to all elected officials your desires to uphold our founding principles. Reaffirm your commitment to preserve this Nation and to fight for her with ballot and pen. And most importantly, pray for this Nation that God would continue to bless this land; recognize that our survival as a Nation depends on our utter dependence on Him.

"When we view the blessings with which our country has been favored, those which we now enjoy, and the means which we possess of handing them down unimpaired to our latest posterity, our attention is irresistibly drawn to the source from whence they flow. Let us then, unite in offering our most grateful acknowledgements for these blessings to the Divine Author of All Good."--James Monroe,5th U.S. President, made this statement in his 2nd Annual Message to Congress, November 16, 1818

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Our Godly Heritage - July 3, 2012

Leviticus 25:1-2;10;18-19 (New International Version)
1 The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai, 2 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the LORD.
10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.
18 "Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety."

Our forefathers were very aware of the God of the Bible and His actions with ancient Israel. The stories of the Exodus, the journey of the Israelites through the desert, and finally into the "promised land", seemed so very familiar as they sought to construct a new nation. They knew of how God dealt with a wayward people, and how His justice ultimately drove them from the land He had given them.

Today many would say that our founders did not build this Nation based on Judeo-Christian principles. They would choose to get rid of any such notion, and direct us down a dangerous, secular path. But for our founding fathers, these stories served to give them a foundation to build a new Nation based on principles and lessons from the Bible. We can clearly read this as we study these words from Thomas Jefferson,our 3rd U.S. President, drafter and signer of the Declaration of Independence:

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event." --Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.

For all of you who strive to uphold our heritage as a Nation, remember how we came to be, and the type of men that helped to make it happen. Embrace the fact of our biblical heritage, and study for yourself how the Word of God helped to make our Nation great. Tomorrow on the 4th of July, celebrate our country's birthday by renewing your commitment to follow God's decrees and be careful to obey His laws, and you will live safely in the land.

"I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ."--The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, p. 385.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Our Civic Duty - July 2, 2012

Deuteronomy 10:12-16 (New Century Version)
12 Now, Israel, this is what the Lord your God wants you to do: Respect the Lord your God, and do what he has told you to do. Love him. Serve the Lord your God with your whole being,13 and obey the Lord's commands and laws that I am giving you today for your own good.

14 The Lord owns the world and everything in it—the heavens, even the highest heavens, are his.15 But the Lord cared for and loved your ancestors, and he chose you, their descendants, over all the other nations, just as it is today.16 Give yourselves completely to serving him, and do not be stubborn any longer.

In the 14th Century before the birth of Christ, Moses returned from the presence of God to the people of Israel, to present the law he had been given. The nation of Israel was at the threshold of entering the land given to them by God, and at the precipice of establishing a new nation. In his address to the people, Moses gave them the Lord's direction for what they were to do, and he codified their laws for living in the Ten Commandments.

Over many many centuries later, another man stood at the precipice of establishing a new nation, that declared its independence from an oppressive power, and were waged in a war that would determine the existance of the new nation. As he led his troops in battle and later as he led the new nation as its first President, George Washington often depended on his faith in Jesus Christ and his knowledge of the word of God. In the following statement, he too lays out directions for what they were to do:

"While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian."
--The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343

As we stop to celebrate this 236th Birthday of our beloved Nation, let's reflect on our duties to the country and the people that we steward. Let's embrace the admonition of George Washington, and let's take to heart these words from Moses that are as true today as they were over 3000 years ago:

"...the Lord cared for and loved your ancestors, and he chose you, their descendants, over all the other nations, just as it is today. Give yourselves completely to serving him, and do not be stubborn any longer."
--Deuteronomy 10:15-16(NCV)

Drawing from John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance 1948 Ad George Washington: John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company of Boston, Massachusetts ran this paper advertisement that came from a 1948 magazine and features New England's largest financial institution titled He took a new job and the world changed is George Washington. Ad tells of some Washington history of being a fisherman, farmer in Virginia, a school master in Connecticut.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Call to the Nation - July 1, 2012

Isaiah 6:1,5,8-10 (New Century Version)
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a very high throne. His long robe filled the Temple.
5 I said, "Oh, no! I will be destroyed. I am not pure, and I live among people who are not pure, but I have seen the King, the Lord All-Powerful."
8 Then I heard the Lord's voice, saying, "Whom can I send? Who will go for us?" So I said, "Here I am. Send me!"

In the year 740 B.C., the prophet Isaiah was called to speak for God to the people of Israel. He went on to prophecy to them that their nation would come to an end. They had strayed from the worship and reverance of the One true God, who had established their country and had given them their land. In response to the blessings of God, they went on to worhip other pagan gods, carry out detestable acts and fall into courruption and sin.

God went on to send numerous prophets to warn the people of their impending destruction, but they hardened their hearts and didn't listen. Israel went eventually was conquered and exiled, returned and conquered again, until finally in 70 A.D., the Romans crushed a Jewish rebellion, Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Jewish people were scattered through out the world. They would not officially return to their God given land until almost 1900 years later, when in 1948 the State of Israel was re-established.

Today, we as a Nation are faced with the same situation. We are a corrupt and sinful country that has turned its back on God. On a much smaller level, we come across people around us at work and in our own households, that are lost and fallen away from God. In face of this situation, who will God send to turn the heart of the Nation? In our generation, who will go for God? Who will be the difference maker in the lives of the lost people around us, as they struggle to find their way in this land? Are we as ready as Isaiah was to say, "Here I am. Send me!"