Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Not Looking Back - July 31, 2013

Philippians 3:13-14(New Living Translation)
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

All of us know people that constantly dwell in the past. No matter what happens, they are always dredging up what happened in the past as the reason for it. This is especially true if that person encounters failure; something in the past is always the cause. Instead of accepting responsibility and moving on they remain stuck in the past and never move forward into the future.

On the other hand, there are those who look to the past and the days gone by as the good times. That is so true of society these days. Many well-meaning Christians talk a lot about how it used to be rather than working to change things today. The problem with looking back in this case is that complacency sets in; that's because we think that it will never be as good as the past, so why even try to change things?

Both of these situations may be true for all of us at one time or another. There are times when we get so tired of fighting the difficulties of today, that we would rather just stay in the past and recall better days. We get ourselves stuck and the resulting complacency can really tie us down. Sooner than later we can so deep in the pit that it takes a huge effort to climb out, and without God it might be almost impossible.

We can't spend our lives looking in the rearview mirror. God wants us to forget the past, because what is done is done. That is what salvation is all about. In Jesus Christ we have the opportunity to have our past washed away in His precious blood. No longer do we have to carry the burden of the bad that we have done, but we can look forward to the future that God has in store, a blessed future here and now, and for eternity.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Planning for Retirement God's Way - July 30, 2013

Proverbs 27:23-27 (Amplified Bible)
23Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds;

24For riches are not forever; does a crown endure to all generations?

25When the hay is gone, the tender grass shows itself, and herbs of the mountain are gathered in,

26The lambs will be for your clothing, and the goats [will furnish you] the price of a field.

27And there will be goats' milk enough for your food, for the food of your household, and for the maintenance of your maids.

When you first read these verses in Proverbs, it may seem a bit confusing. It deals with things that involves farming and raising animals, and you may ask yourself, "what does it have to do with me?". As is with many topics in the Bible, these passages were written many centuries ago and are associated with the culture of that time, but if you examine it closely and apply the ideas to today, these truths from God begin to make a lot of sense. His wisdom is timeless, when you understand what is being said and use the principles for in your life today.

What Solomon is talking about in this wisdom given to him by God, concerns our personal or family finances. Here we are encouraged to always examine our financial state of affairs, and our position in our work for the future. It warns that just because we have been able to earn and build up wealth at one time, doesn't mean that it will last forever. We must diligently pay attention to what we have been blessed with and saved, making sure it is invested wisely. If we will do so, we will reap the rewards of our diligence by having provision in our later years.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Free Advice - July 29, 2013

Proverbs 2:1-15 (The Message)
1-5 Good friend, take to heart what I'm telling you; collect my counsels and guard them with your life. Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding. That's right—if you make Insight your priority, and won't take no for an answer, searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt, believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours; you'll have come upon the Knowledge of God.

6-8 And here's why: God gives out Wisdom free, is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding. He's a rich mine of Common Sense for those who live well, a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere. He keeps his eye on all who live honestly, and pays special attention to his loyally committed ones.

9-15 So now you can pick out what's true and fair, find all the good trails! Lady Wisdom will be your close friend, and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion. Good Sense will scout ahead for danger, insight will keep an eye out for you. They'll keep you from making wrong turns, or following the bad directions of those who are lost themselves and can't tell a trail from a tumbleweed, these losers who make a game of evil and throw parties to celebrate perversity, traveling paths that go nowhere, wandering in a maze of detours and dead ends.

The best thing you can do for your children, especially the young men, is to give them their own Bible that is easy for them to read and understand, and to have them read the first chapters in the Book of Proverbs. It is rich in the wisdom of God, giving it a personality to allow the reader to better relate to the instruction.

If I would have had a parent or mentor encouraging me to read the Bible and especially the Proverbs, I would have been far more grounded, I would have come to faith in Jesus Christ much earlier. On top of that, I would have lived a far better and more disciplined life, and I would have avoided many of the pitfalls that the world and I myself threw me into.

I thank God though that I have been able to pass on God's word to my family, which has been evident in the life led by my children. There is no greater blessing that to see your children walk with Jesus and know God's plan for their lives from an early age. I praise Him the restoration that He has given me, and the mercy and grace He has shown me by the salvation of my children.

Isn't it time that you sat down with your children and opened up God's word with them? Believe me, they will be far more well-adjusted and able to face the world by you doing so.

Photo "Study Kids 3" by eurostilet, 9-19-2004 from stock.xchng

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Self-Confidence - July 28, 2013

Philippians 3:2-7 (New International Version)
2Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. 3For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:

5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

These days when you ask someone whether or not they think they will go to heaven when they die, you often get answers like,"Sure! I go to church occasionally and I'm a good person.", "I'm not that bad...I'm better than that other guy!", or "If my good outweighs my bad, I think I will!". The answer to this question are as varied as the people who are asked. The problem is that in today's world, people have too much "Self-Confidence" when it comes their salvation.

Not that self-confidence in many things is wrong, but in terms of whether or not we will spend eternity with God, we can't make it with our own efforts. If you take time to study the wisdom of the Bible, you will began to discover that the Old Testament God reveals His divine Law and points to a future Messiah that will rescue us from mankind's in-ability to keep the Law, while the New Testament reveals the Messiah as Jesus Christ as the one who accomplishes the Law.

The Law(The Ten Commandments or the Mosaic Law)acts as a mirror, in which we look at ourselves to see whether or not we measure up to God's standards. How many of us have looked at another with lust? Yet, Jesus in Matthew 5:28 tells us that if we do, we have committed adultery. And how many have taken something that didn't belong to us, no matter how small and insignificant? Yet, that very act makes us guilty of stealing. Even looking at the guy across the street and being jealous of his new Porsche makes us guilty of coveting!

When we realize that as human beings we cannot get by without breaking God's Law, we should discover that we are hopelessly lost, because one single act of breaking God's Law makes us guilty of them all and condemns us to separation from God for eternity (damnation). It is not pleasant to read, and many of us just ignore it thinking that it will go away, but the truth is that someday we will stand before the judgment of God which will determine our eternal existence.

That is what Paul was pointing out in the verses in Philippians above. There were Jews that were persecuting new gentile(the common, non-Jewish person)Christians, because they were not following certain rules and regulations that had been imposed on the Jewish people. Paul was making a point that we can place no confidence in man's laws, rules and regulations for salvation.

In fact after the Law was given to the Jewish people, they went on to list 613 commandments in the Torah, and added to that additional traditions for Jewish living in the Mishnah, the Halakhic Midrashim, and the Talmud. But it is not only the Jewish religion, in fact every other religion out there require works on our own behalf to have a hope of salvation(ask any Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Muslim, etc. how they know whether or not they are saved). It is only because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, on the cross as the payment for our sins before a Holy God, that we have the assurance of being "saved".

I do not rely on my own "self", but I place my "confidence" of salvation in Jesus and Jesus Christ alone. Paul says it best, and it is easiest to understand in the New Century Version of the continuation of the text above:

8 Not only those things, but I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him, I have lost all those things, and now I know they are worthless trash. This allows me to have Christ9 and to belong to him. Now I am right with God, not because I followed the law, but because I believed in Christ. God uses my faith to make me right with him.10 I want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death.11 Then I have hope that I myself will be raised from the dead. Philippians 3:8-11 (New Century Version)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bad Fruit - July 27, 2013

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.

One thing about our lives and our characters is sure, 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

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Higher Purpose - July 26, 2013

Isaiah 55:6-13(GOD’S WORD Translation)

6Seek the Lord while he may be found.
Call on him while he is near.
7Let wicked people abandon their ways.
Let evil people abandon their thoughts.
Let them return to the Lord,
and he will show compassion to them.
Let them return to our God,
because he will freely forgive them.

8“My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and my ways are not your ways,” declares the Lord.
9“Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways,
and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

10“Rain and snow come down from the sky.
They do not go back again until they water the earth.
They make it sprout and grow
so that it produces seed for farmers
and food for people to eat.

11My word, which comes from my mouth, is like the rain and snow.
It will not come back to me without results,
but it will accomplish whatever I want
and achieve whatever I send it to do.”

12You will go out with joy and be led out in peace.
The mountains and the hills
will break into songs of joy in your presence,
and all the trees will clap their hands.

13Cypress trees will grow where thorn bushes grew.
Myrtle trees will grow where briars grew.
This will be a reminder of the Lord’s name
and an everlasting sign that will never be destroyed.

In so many ways I am so small as compared to God. I am so lacking that I feel that He should do more than pay attention to me. My understanding of Him is very limited, and I cringe at how impossible my life is without Him. He puts me in my place by the sheer wonder of the world He has created around me, and to think that as great as He is, His love extends to the "least of these".

Everything God does has a purpose, and every word uttered from Him will not be wasted. Ours is just to commit ourselves to His gift of Jesus and to tell all those we know about His love. What seems strange to us, that the Creator would love and care for us, is the character of He who made us. As a father tenderly cares and protects his children, so too God cares and protects us.

If you have not done so, "seek God while He may be found". By getting to know Jesus, He will reveal Himself to you, come into your life and stay with you.

Photo from "I go to the Rock", Savior's Knee Blogspot, 11-28-2010

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wrongs of the Tongue - July 25, 2013

Proverbs 12:14,17-19,22-23 (New International Version)
14 From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.
17 A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.

18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

19 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.
22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

23 A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly.

Proverbs 21:23 (New International Reader's Version)23 Anyone who is careful about what he says keeps himself out of trouble.

James 3:9-10 (New Century Version)
9 We use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but then we curse people, whom God made like himself.10 Praises and curses come from the same mouth! My brothers and sisters, this should not happen.

How many relationships have been ruined by the tongue? There are very few of us that have not been damaged in some way from words that have been spoken, whether in anger or deceit. The damage doesn't just end with the individual. There have been entire societies and peoples that have been destroyed by lies and falsehoods that have stirred others to do the most horrible crimes against others. Even today the work of "lying lips" throughout our society, in the media, the government, and schools to name a few, wreaks havoc across many many lives.

Unfortunately, it is often difficult to correct the wrongs of the tongue after it is too late, but we all can do our part before it is. In our personal lives, we need to always be aware that what we say can damage those we love and bring harm to a friend. Always be on guard, whether we are at work or at play, that what we say is making an impact on someone. In the society around us, we need to always hold those around us accountable for what they say. And when it comes to those who govern, teach or are otherwise in authority over us or our families, we need be sure that they are either accountable for what they say, or they are asked to find a different vocation.

Study the verses above. Meditate on them and consider how what you say carries a lot of weight in how you conduct your daily life. Counter act the evil and lying words, with the good and truthful words of love and concern. Get involved in the lives of your children and be aware of what they are being told. Get involved in your schools and communities, and make sure that everything is always filtered through the truth. Make sure that you are always truthful and caring as well, and remember that God is always aware of the words you say.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Significance - July 24, 2013

Psalm 8 (New International Version)
1 LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.

2 Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

5 You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

If you have ever wondered about your significance to God, you should see this photo of the Earth released a couple of days ago by NASA. Earth is the blue dot in this wide image taken by the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn on July 19, 2013 from a distance of 898 million miles. When you see a photo like this, you need to take the time to meditate on this chapter from the Book of Psalm. You may feel very small, yet when you read God's word, He speaks often about how you are important to Him.

King David of ancient Israel spent many hours gazing into the heavens, and what he saw caused him to also wonder how God could work in his meager life, yet God chose him for a specific purpose, to do His will in his time. Now thousands of years later, David is a fact of history, and he is know for being "a man after God's own heart"(1 Samuel 13:14). David serves as an example to one blessed, yet one very human in his shortcomings; in other words he was probably like many of us.

You too are important and significant to God; He cares for you, and He is "mindful" of you. As you get closer to being like Jesus Christ, and as you grow closer to God, He will show you what you are to do. Although you may seem very small, He has something for you to do on His behalf. Be sure you are prepared to do it.

Photo of Earth, from the Cassini spacecraft, June 19, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Symphony of Life - July 23, 2013

Romans 12:4-8 (New International Reader's Version)
4 Each of us has one body with many parts. And the parts do not all have the same purpose. 5 So also we are many persons. But in Christ we are one body. And each part of the body belongs to all the other parts.

6 We all have gifts. They differ in keeping with the grace that God has given each of us. Do you have the gift of prophecy? Then use it in keeping with the faith you have. 7 Is it your gift to serve? Then serve. Is it teaching? Then teach. 8 Is it telling others how they should live? Then tell them. Is it giving to those who are in need? Then give freely. Is it being a leader? Then work hard at it. Is it showing mercy? Then do it cheerfully.

Most everyone has been to a symphony performance. When it comes to the listening experience, the worst time for the ears is when all the performers are tuning up prior to the beginning of the concert. There is a myriad of sounds, from the woodwinds, horns, percussion and strings. Each readies themselves by playing their notes and scales. Then, just before the conductor walks onto the stage, the first violin plays a long drawn out note, and everyone in the orchestra tunes themselves to that one note.

The conductor walks on, the audience applauds, the orchestra stands...they all sit and as the baton comes down the music begins. Then for the next hour or so, the rooms fills with glorious music. All separate, yet all together, each instrument lending its own sound, as each performer plays, and together they piece together a vision of sound written down many years or centuries before. It all follows the lead of the conductor as he brings out the sound and emotion that the composer wished for all to hear.

Just as a symphony orchestra has many different performers and instruments that combine to play beautiful music, so too the church of Jesus Christ has many different people, gifts and talents, that combine to do the works of God in the world. Each is important to the whole, and all perform their particular task at the direction of the Master. All are important and all must be in unison, for the master work of Christ to be done in the lives others.

God has created all of us to play beautiful music in the symphony of life. It is up to each of us to pick up our instrument and play.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Our Giving - July 22, 2013

Luke 6:38 (New American Standard Bible)
38"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."

Mark 4:24 (New Century Version)
24 "Think carefully about what you hear. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you, but God will give you even more.

For the believer the act of giving takes on a very spiritual meaning. God is aware of everything we do, and the attitude of our hearts, as to the "why" behind what we are doing. He seeks for us to have a generous heart, giving of ourselves in generosity, and with that same generosity it will be returned to us by God. Don't get me wrong, I am not talking just about material possessions or money.

Our giving can take on many forms. Let's say that you spend your time serving in a homeless shelter or helping with the children in Sunday School. This is a gift of your time and service. After it is done and you reflect on it, don't you receive as much if not more benefit from your act and gift of serving others?

God wants us to live in abundance; He wants us to have it all. He demonstrated that to us by giving us the greatest gift of all; His Son Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins. In light of that, abundance in living is achieved through the transformation of our hearts, where we freely give everything in thanks and gratitude to God for His unquestionable love. Freely give because of what you have been freely given.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Praise! - July 21, 2013

Psalm 100(New International Version)
A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

We were made to worship. As my pastor always says, we will all worship something, whether it's sports, or career, or school, or God. We will give something our attention and devotion. The One who made us expects us to give our worship to Him and Him alone.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Extreme Makeover - July 20, 2013

1 Corinthians 15:48-49 (New International Version, ©2011)
48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

I am sure all of you have seen the television show "Extreme Makeover", about a group of TV personalities, a home building company and sponsors, tearing down and rebuilding a home for a deserving family. The stories of those chosen are always heartwarming, and by the end of the program the viewer is cheering the fact that this family has been given a new home.

You can almost compare this makeover and the many other makeover shows with what happens to our spiritual house when Jesus Christ gets a hold of it, only problem is that we are not that deserving of the makeover. Our sinful, earthly "man" self has separated us from God, and all we really deserve is to let our "house" burn down.

Thank God for His mercy and goodness, because He has offered us a "total makeover" for our spiritual house. He has given us His unmerited favor and grace and allowed us to receive something totally undeserved. The heavenly Man, Jesus Christ, died on the cross and tore down the wall of separation between man and God and rebuilt it with a bridge to the Father.

If we accept this offer of redemption, we too can find ourselves the fortunate recipient of a new house, only this one is a reflection of Jesus.

Photo "Time Moves on 4" by Eastop, 6-1-2010 from stock.xchng

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Time for Everything - July 19, 2013

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8(New International Version)
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Probably the greatest commodity in our society today is TIME. We rush around every single day until many of us collapse in exhaustion, and then we rush through the weekend doing everything we couldn't do during the week. Next thing we know the weekend is over and it starts all over again. Such it goes day in day out, year after year, decade after decade.

What is sad about it is that we waste so much time throughout our lives that, when we start to slow down we finally realize that we are now old and we wonder where all the TIME went. We realize that we rushed around so much that we missed many of the greatest things in life, especially if we have children. Once the were cute and helpless and oh so cuddly, and we look up and they are grown up and leaving home for college.

Once the richest man in the whole world lamented about his TIME. He wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes about the folly of his life. Even though he had everything a thousand men could ever want, he commented about the regrets that had befallen him, because he felt he had wasted his life in pursuit of the wrong things. At the end of his TIME he came to the realization that the only thing of importance was his relationship with God.

Yes, we have time for everything when we start out on life, but what we will find out that it gets away from us if we are not careful. Slow down, seek God, rely on Jesus, and take TIME to enjoy what He has given you. Enjoy the blessing of your family and friends, and at the end of your TIME you will know that it was all worth it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Divine Appointments - July 18, 2013

Proverbs 16:9 (New King James Version)
9 A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.

Isaiah 48:17 (New King James Version)
17 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

“ I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go."

If you have been walking with God for awhile you know a truth about your walk with Him. When you walk with God there are no coincidences. Everything that happens to you has a specific purpose, and every encounter you have is part of His plan. These are "divine appointments", situations that He has arranged in advance for you. So why do these things happen? What purpose do they have?

When you accepted the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ's death on the cross for your sins, something supernatural occurred in your life. Your confession of those sins, and your surrender to God, not only cleansed you from your wrongdoing, and redeemed you for eternity, but it opened your spirit to allow the Holy Spirit to reside in you. The Spirit of God took up residence inside of you.

No this may sound a little creepy, but it is a very powerful truth. A sure test of this is what happens to you after you are "saved". Things that you once thought were "no big deal" in your life, suddenly cause you to feel guilty. In fact the more you continue the behavior the worse you feel, until you finally cry out in confession to God and again seek His forgiveness. Although you were forgiven at the time of your conversion, this continual confession keeps you walking in obedience to God.

The Spirit has a big job; it is His job to conform you to the image of Jesus Christ. In other words, He works on the inside and with things on the outside, to direct your life to become more like Jesus. That is what these "divine appointments" are all about; God places people in our lives by working through their lives, to serve His purposes and make us more like Him.

When we follow God's direction, continually seeking His guidance, and walking in obedience to where He is taking us, we will accomplish great things for Him. Not that God needs it, but in our service to Him we will live abundant and joyful lives, as we look forward to eternity with Him. Those we encounter along the way will benefit in seeing what a life in Christ is all about.

The reality of this truth should make you aware that no one that you meet is by chance; there are no coincidences. It is a divine appointment, arranged by God, for the benefit of His eternal kingdom. Make sure that everyone you meet knows that Jesus Christ set up the appointment.

Photo "Handshake",12-1-2006, from stock.xchng

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Be Joyful - July 17, 2013

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (New International Reader's Version) 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.

Our attitude needs to reflect that we believe that God takes care of us. It needs to show our faith that He is in control, and nothing happens that is not within His will. As Christians, we should not behave as the "lost", always anxious for the next day, but instead we need to face each new day with knowledge that God's promises will all come true. Thanks to the grace and mercy provided by Jesus Christ's gift to us, we can have confidence that "our joy will be made complete(1John 1:14)".

Thank Him for allowing you to have hope in joy, and for including you in His forever family. Thank Him for the gift of Jesus and the assurance that you will be with Him forever. Always be joyful!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Janitor - July 16, 2013

Psalm 84:1-4;10 (New International Version, ©2011)
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty!

2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Before I truly accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, I had a very limited understanding of what God and salvation was all about. Sure I believed in God, but at the same time I was trapped in the thought that what I did, earned my way into heaven. With this mind set, I would often fall into sin, and when the guilt would really burden me, I would throw up a prayer to God pleading that He would forgive me, and allow me to at least be a janitor in heaven.

Nothing wrong with janitors, but I had a true fear in the knowledge that what I was doing angered God, and this was my plea for Him to somehow look away from my sin and accept me. It made me "ripe" for any works based religion where my own actions would be the final determiner of whether or not I would go to heaven when I died. Let's face it; I was totally lost with no clue of what would happen to me if I died.

The Psalter expresses his anguish of being kept out of the house of the Lord, and in the same psalm he makes a plea that he would do anything menial in the courtyard of the Temple, just to be near God's presence. He even shows some jealousy in the ability of the birds to get closer to the altar, the presence of God in ancient Israel, than he was able. In the same way, I was standing outside of the "Temple of the Lord", His kingdom in Heaven, jealously looking in, without a clue of how to get closer to God.

Thank God for His mercy and grace that allowed His Holy Spirit to clearly show me my wrongdoing, and the way out of my situation. He showed me that Jesus Christ was the bridge between my sinful self and a Holy God. Only with the shed blood of Christ could I be cleansed of my sins and allowed access into God's kingdom. That was a beautiful revelation that lifted the burden of my "junk" and brought me the relief of salvation. God no longer saw me as a "janitor" kept outside of the kingdom, but He now welcomed me as His son.

We all can become sons and daughters of the King. There is no reason to stand outside and just look in. Surrender yourself, find salvation from your sins by accepting the work of Jesus and be welcomed into His kingdom.

Photo "Clean Well" by nazreth, 5-4-2006 from stock.xchng

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lasting Treasure - July 15, 2013

Philippians 4:12-13 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
12I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little.

13I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.

We live our entire lives hunting for treasure, that secret stash that will relieve us from every burden. When we were young, I am sure all of us day dreamed of being pirates searching for buried riches, and as we grew older, we thought long and hard about how we could grab that "brass ring" and become wealthy and successful. When you ask teenagers what their goal is for going to school and college, most say it is to make a lot of money, and sadly that has become the goal for most of us as we have grown up.

Treasure, riches, wealth, money, none of these things are bad, as a matter a fact, very little could be done in this world without having them. I would venture to say that many good things for God's kingdom have been done by those who have possessed these things. But the truly great treasure of life does not have much value if you were to ask those in the world. In God's currency though, it is a valuable treasure.

God's great treasure, His secret to true wealth and extraordinary living is Jesus Christ. He is that "pearl of great price" that if we have him in our life, we will have everything we will ever need. You see, through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, our eternal future is set. We really need nothing further from because living in and for Jesus is truly the way for us to live.

If your are in need of true, lasting treasure, if you want to learn how to live no matter your circumstances, surrender yourself to Jesus and He will take care of the rest of our needs.

Photo "Treasure Trove 3" by bjearwicke, January 8, 2008.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

How Do You Spell Relief? - July 14, 2013

Psalm 13 (New International Version)
1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

During times of difficulty in our lives, we lift up our voices in prayer, wanting God to give us an answer, but it doesn't seem to come. What do you do when you are desperate, down and out, struggling? How do you find relief from your troubles and distress?

REMEMBER His faithfulness. REMEMBER what He has done for you in the past. REMEMBER that He has never taken you through something that did not turn out better in the end. REMEMBER the times He has carried you through; write them down and pray a prayer of REMEMBRANCE saying, "Lord, I REMEMBER when you brought me through ..." Lift up you current struggle to Him and ask Him to do as He has in the past. He longs to hear your prayers.

God has a reason for your trouble and distress. He will not let it be in vain. His purpose is greater than what we can see. It will all be for good. REMEMBER Him, and how He has demonstrated His love for you.

Photo from "This Thing Called Cancer", 10-3-2010,Daynas-Journey Blogspot

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Who Is Mother Nature? - July 13, 2013

Amos 5:8(New International Version)
8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns midnight into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the LORD is his name.

Amos 5:8(New Living Translation)
8 It is the Lord who created the stars,
the Pleiades and Orion.
He turns darkness into morning
and day into night.
He draws up water from the oceans
and pours it down as rain on the land.
The Lord is his name!

One of my pet peeves is when I hear people on television, whether it is on a news program or the Weather Channel, always attribute anything having to with the natural world as being caused by Mother Nature. Wikipedia would tell you that "Mother Nature (sometimes known as Mother Earth) is a common personification of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature by embodying it in the form of the mother". Basically meaning that this was an extension of the pagan worship of goddesses of fertility and nature in man's ancient history. She's has not only been responsible for the weather, but in the 1970's she even pitched margarine(No wonder they found it to be worse than the real thing for your health!).

Why is it that no one can say what is the truth, that all that is happening is because of God the Creator? Have we become such a politically correct society that we can't even give God credit where credit is due, and we would rather suggest that some mythical character is responsible? I say it is time we stood up for God; it's time we recognized that everything is in His hands. Yes, even the weather, bad or good; He is ultimately responsible. And if you have been in a severe thunderstorm or tornado, it is NOT Mother Nature that your praying to!

In the year 750 B.C.(2761 years ago, and before modern science), the prophet Amos was speaking in a future vision about the Jewish people. Through Amos, God tells the people that he is going to judge Israel for its sins, and it will be a foreign nation that will enact his judgment. He spoke no more than a day, but in his statement he made a profound statement from God, where God speaks of His control of nature. When we read the verse above, it is easy to see that God takes credit for creating the two constellations mentioned, the full moon, the solar eclipse and rain storms.

Yes God controls everything, even the weather; so the next time you see your weatherman, please ask him to say the next time he is on television that God gave us this beautiful day, and we should be thanking Him for it!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The War Within - July 12, 2013

Romans 7:15-25(GOD’S WORD Translation)
15I don’t realize what I’m doing. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate. 16I don’t do what I want to do, but I agree that God’s standards are good. 17So I am no longer the one who is doing the things I hate, but sin that lives in me is doing them.

18I know that nothing good lives in me; that is, nothing good lives in my corrupt nature. Although I have the desire to do what is right, I don’t do it. 19I don’t do the good I want to do. Instead, I do the evil that I don’t want to do. 20Now, when I do what I don’t want to do, I am no longer the one who is doing it. Sin that lives in me is doing it.

21So I’ve discovered this truth: Evil is present with me even when I want to do what God’s standards say is good. 22I take pleasure in God’s standards in my inner being. 23However, I see a different standard at work throughout my body. It is at war with the standards my mind sets and tries to take me captive to sin’s standards which still exist throughout my body. 24What a miserable person I am! Who will rescue me from my dying body?

25I thank God that our Lord Jesus Christ rescues me! So I am obedient to God’s standards with my mind, but I am obedient to sin’s standards with my corrupt nature.

It is a constant dilemma, and if we are a Christian the conflict that we have inside is even worse. We are "fallen" creatures, and because of it we are helpless to the war within. We have the desire to be good, yet many times we fall into being bad, and then our guilt drives us to being good again, only to fall into being bad, and the cycle goes on day in and day out. It is the consequence of the traps that have been set for us by the evil one.

God in His grace and mercy would rather that we constantly and consistently go in one direction; that is the direction if obedience. Thanks to His living Word and written word, we have a guide to battle the war within. It gives us the standard set by the law, yet because of what Jesus did on our behalf as payment for our sins, we can know that with Him we can find forgiveness for our sin.

Knowing that we are forgiven changes our heart to desire to be obedient, and strengthens us to no longer sin. Not that we won't fall or be drawn back into sin, but when we do, we have a loving Father that is anxious for us to confess our wrongdoing and come back to Him. The written word has many stories of how God restores the sinner by providing the means of redemption.

Yes, we will continue to have the war within as the Apostle Paul had, but the path back to God becomes much easier because Jesus has provided the "wretched man" the way back home. He has rescued us and we need to give Him our devotion and obedience for doing so.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lifting Him Up - July 11, 2013

Psalm 57:7-11(New International Version)
7 My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.

8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

9 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

True freedom comes from being able to cast all of your cares upon God and releasing all of your anxiety on Him. He has stepped out of Heaven to carry each and every burden, and because He has also carried each an every sin, He is worthy of all praise and exaltation. You can be sure that the One that receives your worship and praise is faithful. May He be lifted up above the Heavens, and may His glory radiate throughout the earth!

Photo from "Heart of the Matter Online", posted by Lysa Terkeurst, 1-17-09

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Importance - July 10, 2013

Luke 12:6-7(New Living Translation)
6 “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. 7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

During times like these, it's hard for us to believe that God really cares about us. Surely there are far more important things that are happening in this world for Him to handle. From the economic situation in our country, the famines around the world, the human devastation of war, to the riots occurring around the world; why should God even give us a second thought? Why should He care about me? I deserve nothing, so why am I "valuable" to Him?

In order for us to know how personally God cares for each one of us, He sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ to walk in our sandals. Jesus knew what it was to deeply feel loneliness and abandonment; to face extreme difficulty and pain; to go through the trials and tribulations of life; to know the importance of having someone care and be concerned about you. Yet He made a point of telling His disciples that they had significance, and in serving Him they would be cared for. He taught them not to fear what was going on around them and the opposition that they would face, because God would care for them.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are His disciples; we are His followers. As such, we have just as much importance as the disciples in the 1st century had. He loves each and everyone of us, and although we may not understand His methods, or where He may be leading us, He still cares for us. God wants what is best for us and He will make sure that whatever we are going through serves that purpose.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Falling Short - July 9, 2013

Psalm 51:1-4,10-12,17 (New International Version)

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

None of us are perfect, and yes, many times we do not measure up to what God expects of us. But sometimes, we hold on to something we have done in the past that seems so bad, that the guilt and weight of it keeps us from having a close relationship with God.

The verse above came from a Psalm written by Israel's King David, when the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Here was a "man after God's own heart" who was a saint, an adulterer and a murderer. Here was God's chosen king of God's chosen people at a time when he was not worthy of God's favor and mercy. In his desire to make things right with God, David pleaded to God for forgiveness and mercy.

In his plea to God, we can find steps to help us make things right. First, David asked God for mercy. He asked for God's help in cleansing him from his great sin. God provides this to us if we will accept Jesus's sacrifice on our behalf for the forgiveness of our sin. Next he asked God to restore his relationship with him. God again provides this to us by providing his Holy Spirit to comfort us and lead us to righteous living.

David finally sums things up by telling us what is acceptable to God for whatever wrong we may do, that is a humble heart that looks to Him when we fall short. Let go of what might be holding you back from a right relationship with God. Let go and give it to God.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Walk Upon the Water - July 8, 2013

Matthew 14:22-33 (New Living Translation)
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

We are often faced with the trials and storms of life, and most of us try to make do things ourselves. We struggle against the "heavy waves" of life and our spirits take quite a pounding as we stubbornly go our own way. Usually the harder we try the more difficult the challenges become, until we find ourselves crying out for help.

The story of Jesus walking on water demonstrates a few things to us. First we see where Jesus sends his disciples ahead, while he stays behind to pray. I believe that Jesus sent them out by themselves to test them; He allows a storm to come up to see what they would do. Notice that in the midst of the storm, when they see Jesus walking on the water towards them, they were slow to recognize him. In fact they looked first for an impossible explanation rather than to think that Jesus was capable of this action.

Next we see that Jesus is quick to alleviate their fear, by telling them not to be afraid. Then in a step of faith, Peter steps out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water. But instead of focusing on Jesus, Peter lets the storm around him get the better of him and he begins to sink. Jesus as the eternal Savior reaches out to help him, but he is disappointed that Peter's faith is not strong enough to believe that he could do the impossible.

We like Peter are often limited in how we overcome the difficulties of life, because we will not totally surrender to Jesus, and in deep faith know that He will help us do the impossible. We would rather try to do it on our own. My call to you is this, you need to grow your faith to the point that you are completely committed to the Savior. You need to be confident that in everything, Jesus will help you through. Most of all, we need to never give up our faith when the "wind and waves" beat down on us. Instead we need to strengthen our faith even more, and be assured that God will help us through to "calm waters".

Are you facing a storm in your life right now? Reach out to Jesus and ask him to save you. He will take you by the hand, help you "walk upon the water", and lift you into the place of peace and safety. Figurative as this might seem, if you truly believe you will overcome any storm life throws against you.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday Praise! - July 7, 2013

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.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Giving Sight to the Blind - July 6, 2013

John 9:25(New International Version)
25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

2 Corinthians 5:17(New King James Version NKJV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

As I have written about before, these days Christianity seems to be more and more under attack. There is continual controversy as critics try as hard as they can to discount and minimize our beliefs, in an attempt to remove it from the world's culture. Someone or some group is always trying to "shoot holes" into the Bible and the life, work and claims of Jesus Christ. Yes, we should question what we believe, but this is not about healthy theological discourse; this is about "search and destroy".

There is something that every critic and every supporter of our faith in Jesus Christ is missing when it comes to the validity and truth of Christianity. To illustrate this I was prompted to look at the 9th Chapter of John in the New Testament, where Jesus healed a blind man on the Sabbath. After which the man was called into the temple and questioned by the religious rulers in an attempt to discount and disparage Jesus and the miracle He had just done.

The religious leaders focused more on trying to belittle Jesus in their own eyes that they failed to realize the spiritual blindness they were under. They could not see the real Jesus as who He claimed to be because of their own religiosity; their exaggerated piety and religious zeal. This is no different than it is today; people are so zealous to take down anything having to do with Christianity that they fail to see and are blind to who Jesus really is. So too, many liberal theologians would rather defend their own interpretations of what they believe is the truth, than to come close to discovering the real truth.

All this to say that what those who are spiritually blind to the real Jesus fail to see are His true miracles. The religious leaders of His day could not see that Jesus actually restored sight to a lifelong blind man, and today's critics fail to see that the true miracle of Jesus is the changed heart, the change in a person's life that nothing else can accomplish. Their is nothing that can dispute this.

Only Jesus Christ can bring change to a life-long, down-and-out drunk, drug addict, thief, womanizer, etc., that is trapped in the bondage of sin. Only He can bring "sight" to those who once were "blind", and turn them into a new creation.

Friday, July 5, 2013

One Nation, Under God? - July 5, 2013

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 everyone's access to abortions. On the other hand, the other side 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 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.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day! - July 4, 2013

Psalm 33:12(Holman Christian Standard Bible)
12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD—
the people He has chosen to be His own possession!

"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

And so began the Declaration of Independence that was unanimously signed by 56 representatives, who were lawyers, doctors, merchants, farmers, landowners and preachers from the 13 English colonies on the North American continent on July 4, 1776. After stating their grievances they concluded the declaration in this way:

"We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

Now it doesn't take any thing more than a grade school education to realize that they relied on God to help them through this dangerous endeavor, and it is very evident that they committed their course of action with their solid reliance upon "nature's God, "the Supreme Judge of the world", "Divine Providence".

They pledged themselves under God to follow a course that would create the greatest nation that ever has been founded by mankind upon the earth. It is not arrogance for us to believe such, because along with that standing in the world comes great responsibility.

If we are true believers that God is in control of all things, then we are to believe that He had a special purpose in allowing our nation to be founded, and to survive the many difficulties that we have encountered over 235 years. And because He has protected and preserved our Nation, we have to measure up to the great responsibility which He has placed upon us.

What is this responsibility that we are called to? It is first to seek and uphold Him in all we do; to commit ourselves to His work of helping our fellow man, to being good stewards over all He has given us, to render justice to those who are oppressed, to proclaim His truth to all, and to insure liberty for all who seek it.

The true happiness of the citizens of our Nation can only be guaranteed if we will commit our lives to serving God and each other. There is no room for selfish pursuits and pettiness. This "Grand Experiment" as it was called was for the benefit of all mankind, and only if we commit our endeavor to God, can we ever hope secure the freedoms that we have been granted.

"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 the gift of God?"
- Thomas Jefferson

(Do you see any "separation of church" and state here? Wasn't it Thomas Jefferson that supposedly created the separation that exists today? I don't think so! Make sure you and those that come after you understand the God-given principles upon which we were founded.)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Character of a Nation - July 3, 2013

Proverbs 14:34(Holman Christian Standard Bible)
34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a disgrace to any people.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."(From the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776)

Tomorrow we will celebrate 237 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed, proclaiming these United States of America as a sovereign nation. Since that time, we have undergone huge growing pains and enormous struggles to maintain our union. What stood out in good times and bad was that our citizens embraced a country founded on Judeo-Christian principles, that knew that we were a Nation Under God.

Since George Washington, all of our Presidents have acknowledged that we are led by the Sovereign hand of God, and until recently, most leaders in our country knew that if they sought God in humility and reverence, that His guiding hand would preserve the Nation. We used to stand for and fight for what was "right", and could always be the moral compass for the world. The "Greatest Generation" was called that because as a Nation, our pursuits were noble and our causes were right, and inspired by our beliefs in God.

Unfortunately, today it is a different story. The God of the Bible has been replaced by a marshmallow, universal god, that is only called upon if it doesn't get in the way of our material goods or personal pursuits. In so many ways we have lost our way as a nation. No longer does God have a pre-eminence in the lives of our citizens, and secularists, other religions and cultures would rather dilute the influence of our God, in favor of someone of a very different character than what our founding fathers followed and embraced. The nations god has $$$ signs and exports a culture that embraces much of what is wrong in the human character.

No longer do we often call upon our God for the preservation and the strength of our nation. It is as if He has been pushed aside, to make room for worldly pursuits, pursuits on a global scale, seeking a god of wealth, ambition, power and influence. We have lost the character of our Nation, and no longer do we stand for the things of God that we once used to. No wonder our children of today rarely have knowledge and respect for the principles upon which we were founded, because over the last few years we have forsaken those principles, to our detriment.

This July 4th, we need to not only remember our founding, and the just battles that were fought to maintain our liberty, but we also must remember the truths of God upon which we were founded. We need to call on our God and Creator, Divine Providence, to once again restore the principles upon which we were founded. We need to pray for a revival in the land, and proclaim "liberty for the captives" of this fallen world.

Our goal needs to be to restore the character that once made us a great Nation, because it is the character of the Nation that preserves the Nation. Without the God of the Bible we will NOT survive, and we owe it to those that come after us to leave something that looks like the Nation that our forefathers founded.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Seeking Peace - July 2, 2013

Romans 12:17-18 (New International Version, ©2011)
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:17-18 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
17Don’t pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you. Focus your thoughts on those things that are considered noble. 18As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone.

As followers of Jesus we need to seek the good in every situation, even when it seems bad. This is especially true when it comes to relationships with others. Very often in life we are thrown into difficult situations where we are hurt by others. Our normal reaction would be to strike back, but it is best to "turn the other cheek" as we have learned from Jesus.

Jesus endured the weight of the anger, ridicule, rejection, and abuse of the world without Him striking back. We need to do the same by never repaying what evil that has been done to us. We also need to always live in harmony with those around us, seeking the best, and living in peace. Only then can we truly be mirror images of our Savior.

Photo "Hands" by Andy205, 7-7-2005 from stock.xchng

Monday, July 1, 2013

On Your Mark - July 1, 2013

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 a lot of time getting ready. No, I don't mean to go to work or school, but we spend a lot 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 a lot 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 military drills, drills, drills and spend a lot 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 a lot 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 a lot 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