Oh My Country, America

“But GOD shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about GOD because He has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything GOD made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities – His Eternal Power and Divine Nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing GOD. Yes, they knew GOD, but they wouldn’t worship Him as GOD or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what GOD was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the Glorious, Ever-Living GOD, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So GOD abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about GOD for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things GOD created instead of the CREATOR Himself, Who is worthy of ETERNAL praise! AMEN. That is why GOD abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge GOD, He abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of GOD, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know GOD’S Justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.” – Romans 1:18‭-‬32 NLT

Paul said it; I concur. Oh my country, America! I grieve for you.

Oh, Proverbs – How We Need to Heed Your Teachings!

“Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you. Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.” – Proverbs 4:5‭-‬7 (http://bible.com/116/pro.4.5-7.NLT)

Looking back over my life, it’s very easy to see that I turned my back on wisdom, and pushed her out of my mind and my life when I was in my second year of college. Keeping in mind that I went to a small, conservative, Christian Midwestern college…. No place is safe from the enemy. The first year wasn’t too bad. I had my sister and a good friend from our church to sort of mentor me and help me to stay in my faith. I also was introduced to alcohol and smoking by my dorm-mates, and I experienced snubbing and ridicule from my first roommates. Instead of the Christ-followers I expected, I got professing Christians who took every opportunity to cut me down verbally. It was not a fun first semester in that room, and it seriously impaired the way I began to look at life. Somewhere along the way, I quit reading my Bible, and eventually quit going to church.

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” – James 1:22‭-‬25 (http://bible.com/116/jas.1.22-25.NLT)

James points out quite clearly what happens when we walk away from God’s Word. We forget what it says, and it becomes easy for us to follow the wrong paths in life. Anyone else get this? If not, take a moment to look around you. The arrays on our leaders, both verbal and physical. The mockery and cruelty and disrespect that comprises so much of our “entertainment.” Television shows promoting mob justice, commercials showing complete disrespect for parents. It’s wrong to bully, but it’s okay to make fun of your parents? What???

I guess all of these First Amendment supporters think this is all just part of our rights, but I’m pretty sure that being disrespectful wasn’t what the founding fathers had in mind. I’m POSITIVE they would agree that a lawsuit over a display of raw cotton in a vase is completely ridiculous. I think that they would agree that refusing to be respectful of our flag and our service people is a not a “right”. It’s very simple, folks. If you are so upset by being an American, go live in another country. Please. Just go.

We, the Patriots and Christians, need to be on our knees with this prayer as the LORD said to King Solomon:

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 (http://bible.com/116/2ch.7.14.NLT)

AMEN.

I NEED You, LORD

There’s a hymn we used to sing in church, “I Need Thee Every Hour.” It was written by Annie S. Hawks in 1872, a song that we could all relate to if we just admit our losses and failures. See if you agree.

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;

No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;

Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;

Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;

And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;

Oh, make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.

Oh, yes, I need Him to make sense of the chaos and difficulties, the stumbles and falters, the failures I experience. I was in many ways more fortunate than most. I had an earthly Father who believed and practiced following Christ to the best of his ability, and a mother who made sure we were fed and dressed and well-mannered. We attended church services every Sunday and Wednesday; our churches hosted guest speakers, often in week-long revivals, so we were exposed to Christians from around the world. I learned very early that I needed Jesus, and accepted Him as my Savior very early in my life. Even as I became an adult and made the choice to step into the temptations of the world, I knew in my heart Who was LORD. I have been reminded over and over in the consequences of my choices that God is Supreme. He pulled me out of the depths of sin and depravity more than once. For a season, I would acknowledge His Lordship, and then I would turn my back on my Savior and go my merry way.

It amazes me that He never gave up on me. I’m not proud of my choices, even knowing that the greatest men of the Bible succumbed to temptation as great as mine. It amazes me that God chooses to use the bruised and the broken to follow Him. I think that’s why these words of Annie Hawks resonate in my soul. These words, along with the hymn ” Just As I Am” touch me so deeply. God doesn’t care about our past, or our color, or our financial state, or our physical condition. He cares about ONE thing; He cares about our souls, our heart condition. That’s why, in the Old Testament, the priests made blood sacrifices; to cover the sins of His chosen people. That’s why He sent His Son Jesus, to make the ultimate sacrifice and to cover ALL of our sins, past, present, and future, when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior. It’s why Jesus sacrificed Himself. For YOU. For ME. If you were the only person who ever lived, Jesus would have done whatever He did, just for you.

Mind-boggling; simple, but hard.

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the Everlasting GOD, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding.” – Isaiah 40:28 (http://bible.com/116/isa.40.28.NLT)

HALLELUJAH!

Help!

Paul wrote this reminder: “And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “ – Acts of the Apostles 20:35 (http://bible.com/116/act.20.35.NLT)

How to decide where to help and what to give and what to do…. That is the question. A wise man told us, as Americans, the ‘what.’ John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address inspired children and adults to see the importance of civic action and public service. His historic words, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” challenged every American to contribute in some way to the public good. (https://www.jfklibrary.org)

Easier said, than done. There is so much to assist with today, between the record breaking hurricanes, flooding, draughts, tornados, earthquakes, and massive wildfires. I think every American has been affected in one way or another by all of these catastrophic events. Rising gas and material prices, possible food shortages; even if you have escaped these consequences (so far), most of us know people through friends or family, who are in one or more of the affected areas. I have people on both coasts and in Texas who are being devastated., and it’s difficult not to just load up the truck and take off. However, like thousands of others, I have neither the financial or physical means to do so. What does that leave us to do? The absolute, most powerful tool we have is prayer. Wonderful, glorious, time with our Father. First, we need to praise Him for His goodness, then we can ask the Holy Spirit to intercede and to comfort and protect our people.

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 (http://bible.com/116/2ch.7.14.NLT)

Jesus also taught us:

“Jesus said, “This is how you should pray: “Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation. ” ” – Luke 11:2‭, ‬4 (http://bible.com/116/luk.11.2-4.NLT)

How do we help? We pray.

Is It Jerusalem… Or The U.S.A.???

Is It Jerusalem… Or The U.S.A.???

“Hear us, SHEPHERD of ISRAEL, You who lead Joseph like a flock. You Who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Awaken Your might; come and save us.

Restore us, O GOD; make Your Face shine on us, that we may be saved.

How long, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, will Your anger smolder against the prayers of Your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears; You have made them drink tears by the bowlful. You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, GOD ALMIGHTY; make Your Face shine on us, that we may be saved.

You transplanted a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. Its branches reached as far as the Sea, its shoots as far as the River. Why have you broken down its walls so that all who pass by pick its grapes? Boars from the forest ravage it, and insects from the fields feed on it.

Return to us, GOD ALMIGHTY! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine, the root Your Right Hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself. Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at Your rebuke Your people perish. Let Your Hand rest on the man at Your Right Hand, the son of man You have raised up for Yourself. Then we will not turn away from You; revive us, and we will call on Your Name.

Restore us, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY; make Your Face shine on us, that we may be saved.”

Psalm 80:1‭-‬19 (http://bible.com/111/psa.80.1-19.NIV)

See Me ROAR

There’s a lot to take in and absorb in the following scriptures. Only 7 short verses, but extremely important for us to pay attention to as followers of Jesus Christ. 

  “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.  Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For GOD has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my Helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” Remember your leaders who taught you the Word of GOD. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.” – Hebrews 13:1‭-‬7 

There is so much emphasis throughout scripture on how to treat others. Love and honor, being hospitable, respect, learning to be content…. common themes, but how well do we put them into practice? So many people have left the church because of the way they were treated. Maybe we don’t dress correctly, or smell nice; we don’t have the right type of job or we aren’t driving a good enough vehicle or live in the nicer neighborhoods. Could be we’ve done time in prison, or committed adultery or openly lived in sin. Perhaps we have left and abusive relationship, or suffer from some type of disfigurement…. Too many churches are strictly superficial and can’t abide anyone who doesn’t meet their standards. Those churches may have Christians in the membership, but they are not biblical churches. Hypocrites and the pious are not representing Christ, but we have to keep in mind that we are ALL hypocrites who have fallen short! The very best church – in my humble opinion  – is that church that is full of sinners and the fallen; the people who have accepted that they are sinners saved by Grace and God’s Mercy.

As the saying goes, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.” You may be the wealthiest person alive, but that won’t save you. Money, power, and prestige mean absolutely nothing without the saving power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I’m getting all preachy, and if you don’t like it, well, it really doesn’t matter to me. The only thing that matters is the Truth of GOD’S Word. I have to take care daily that I am receptive to the Word, and I have to be conscious and vigilant of my thoughts. I fail constantly! Peter reminds us:

  “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”- 1 Peter 5:8‭-‬9 ( All scriptures quoted are from http://bible.com/116/1pe.5.8-9.NLT)

Whether entertaining angels or ministering to the elderly, widows, or orphans; being respectful to the person you really just want to spit on; remember WHO we represent…. and HELP each other! LOVE really is the answer, when we realize Who Love is.

Living in the Spirit 

  “​Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” – Galatians 5:25‭-‬26

God knows how far short of this admonition we fall! It is true that when we follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we are better people and better examples to the world. Of course, as we all know (whether we admit it or not!), we have a really hard time hearing the whisper of the LORD over the VERY enticing voice of our enemy. We will sin. That’s a given. It is NOT a given that we have to stay mired down in that sin. God has provided us with a way to get out of the “mud” that is sin, and He has given us a way to come clean. By becoming the Living Water, Jesus is able to wash us so clean that there is no trace of the dirt.

  “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the One who is truly Righteous. He Himself is the Sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of ALL the world.” – 1 John 2:1‭-‬2 

In the United States, we are so blessed to be able to learn about Jesus without the oppression of a tyrant or a godless government. Sometimes I wonder, though, if our freedom gets in the way of God. Perhaps being unable to worship freely and in the open makes the Gift of Salvation all the more precious. Certainly something to think about.

(Scriptures are from  http://bible.com/NLT)