Nancy Henry – I love sharing the HOPE of JESUS. "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12 NLT
In 50 years (or probably less), no one outside of a few family members will remember my name, or any of my so-called achievements. I won’t be in any history books, and there won’t be any statues or streets named for me. No holidays to remember my life. My reputation and my relationships won’t be of any consequence. That’s okay. I’m not looking for fame.
Here’s what is important. GOD’S Name. His Name is eternal, and immortal. His Name is Holy. David is asking God to for his, David’s, wrongdoing for the sake of the Name above all names, the Name of God Himself. When we call ourselves Christians, everything we do reflects on God, reflects on the Name of God. Going forward, maybe we should be more concerned about the way people see GOD’S Name in us, rather than how they see our name.
There are several reasons to work: to provide for yourself and your family, to do good for the world, and to give God Glory. Whatever kind of work we do, as Christians, our work should always be done well. As we near the end of this earth as we know it, there are some who believe that we (followers of Christ) can just sit back and wait for Jesus to return. Don’t fall for it! Paul gave very specific instructions on this.
“Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”
There were people in the church in Thessalonica who had become undisciplined and were not working, and instead, were being busybodies and stirring up trouble. All sin being equal, then being a gossip or meddlesome is no better than being murderers and thieves! At the time Paul was writing this, Greek philosophy was prevalent in this society. The thoughts of Aristotle and Plato and the immaterial v. the material world. “Work” was for slaves, and the leisure life was for slave owners and those who could pay others to do their work. There was also the erroneous belief that the world was about to end anyway, so why bother working? Paul makes a point to remind them how he supported himself while he was with them, and he was very clear that if a person was able bodied and hungry, don’t give them food, give them work!
“For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.” 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 NLT
Paul’s example is of servant leaders who labor for the good of others. He practiced what he preached. When our motivation is to give God Glory, work is not a burden. He also wrote this to the Colossians about work.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23 NLT
Paul has couched this letter in no uncertain terms: he starts in verse 6 with the word command. These are his (our) “brothers and sisters”, fellow Christians, the people who make up the church. Those among them (us) who defy this instruction are not to be associated with, but are to be warned. Shamed, NOT shaming. The goal is always restoration to fellowship and the LORD’S table.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. ….. Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed. Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15 NLT
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic For which it stands one Nation under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
The Flag of the United States of America is a symbol of us all — of all America. It is not a political symbol. It is a symbol that each American should respect, for it represents the honor, courage and sacrifice of those who struggled to preserve the ideals upon which our country was founded: Freedom, justice and opportunity for all. Contrary to other flags of the world, the U.S. Flag is the flag of its citizens – the people of all ages that make and keep America a stronghold and an example of freedom.
“Throughout the history of our nation, the flag has evoked intense, sincere feelings of patriotism.”
Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States
Some of the history and etiquette for our National Symbol follows. Our politicians in Washington need to review these guidelines!
Even more than the eagle, our flag, the flag of these United States of America, is a living symbol. Many of us look upon it as the embodiment of the spirit of this great land. Sometimes referred to as “Old Glory’, it has been cherished for years as the embodiment of what we stand for as a nation.
It is a standard of Honor that we should respect. Our reverence for our flag is justified by past and present sacrifices for freedom and liberty. To me, it is a symbol of the incredible bravery and sacrifices of the children, and the men and women of this country. Yes, “children”, because children have fought for this country, from the Revolutionary War to WWII and beyond. From children barely able to carry a musket; to men like my father, who enlisted in WWII at the age of 17.
Throughout the world, our flag signifies a people dedicated to liberty, justice and freedom. There is a magic in our flag. It brings hope to war-torn countries when carried in by our troops. Whenever I see the flag, my hope of a better nation is renewed; that this nation, under God, will continue to be an example everywhere for all people who love freedom with honor. In honoring and saluting our flag we demonstrate affection for our nation, our fellow citizens and the proud future we share.
The Pledge of Allegiance to our flag was written in August of 1882 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage. The celebration plans resulted in Columbus Day being designated a holiday for the whole country by President Benjamin Harrison. The original 23 words read as follows:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the republic For which it stands one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
In 1923 the original verse was changed from “I pledge allegiance to my Flag” to “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.”
When the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, citizens should stand at attention and salute by placing their right hand over the heart with the first word and hold the salute through the last line of the Pledge. The salute is directed to the flag by facing it during the Pledge.
The United States Flag Code was first adopted in 1924 prescribes flag etiquette for a variety of circumstances ensuring that our national symbol is treated properly. The Code is explained in great detail on the National Flag Foundation’s website for anyone wishing to explore it in greater detail. The Code is a guide for civilians and civilian groups who wish to properly honor the United States of America’s principle emblem. Each military branch has its own flag code of military etiquette.
In 1943 the Supreme Court of the United States decided that “No one – child or adult – could be forced to say ‘The Pledge of Allegiance’. To force someone to say it was in opposition to ‘freedom and justice for all.’ It was in 1954 that Congress added “under God” to the Pledge. It was pointed out that Abraham Lincoln had called the United States “this nation under God” in ‘The Gettysburg Address.’
When the flag is presented, all persons should come to attention. All persons in uniform should give the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may also render the military salute. All other persons should salute by placing their right hand over their hearts. Men wearing any non-religious headgear are to remove it. Women do not have to remove their head covering. In parades and reviews, it is proper to start the salute as the flag enters your position and end when it has passed.
The Flag of the United States of America should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously, and is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. Each individual should stand at attention facing the flag and salute. It is also proper to salute whenever the national anthem is played. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of the National Anthem whichever is the longest. It is not considered appropriate for US citizens to salute another countries flag or anthem.
Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night. There are eight sites in the United States where the flag is flown day and night under specific legal authority: Fort McHenry National Monument, Baltimore, Maryland; Flag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland; the United States Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington, Virginia; Lexington, Massachusetts; the White House; the Washington Monument; United States Customs ports of entry; and Valley Forge State Park, Pennsylvania.
The United States Flag should always be treated with the utmost care and respect. Remember, our flag represents a living country and, as such, is considered a living thing. For instance, the lapel flag pin, being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart. The flag should always be displayed with the blue union field up. The only time you ever display the flag upside down would be as a signal of extreme distress.
We should always carry the flag aloft and free — never flat or horizontally. The exception to this is carrying very large flags that are too big to be flown from a staff or pole. It is important to always keep the flag clean. Keep it safe from those who would not respect it, or do not know enough to do so, such as young children.
I am very grateful to be born in the United States. We are so blessed to live in this great nation. There is so much unrest and focus on things that are irrelevant, and the most important thing that we as Christians can do is to pray for our country. Thank God that you live in what is still the greatest country in the world, despite what politicians and others are doing to tear her down.
“And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.” Joel 2:13 NASB1995
There’s a whole lot of bitterness and anger, sarcasm, and spiteful speaking in the world today. Mask or don’t mask. Vax or don’t vax. Guns or no guns. Illegal aliens or migrants. Woke or not woke. Two sexes or multiple sexes. One God, or no god. Stand for the flag or kneel. Freedom or submission.
I don’t mask. I’m not anti-vaccine in general, but I choose not to get the covid vax. I believe strongly in the First and Second Amendments, and I think that every American should be trained in handling firearms. I am not Woke. Life begins at conception, and abortion is murder. If someone wants to come to the United States, they should come through legal channels – otherwise, they should be sent back. I believe that God created man and woman. Period. I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus died for me. I proudly stand for the flag, and in the (famous) words of my ancestor, “Give me Liberty or give me death.”
I try really hard to be respectful of other people. It can be difficult, especially when they are disrespectful of the things, and the people, I hold dear to my heart. It’s really hard when they disrespect my Saviour. The following is from my devotional today, and it struck me right where it needed to: in my heart.
Words can be used in many ways. They can be meaningful and healing, offer optimism and encouragement to someone in despair, and resolve disputes. A kind, compassionate, thoughtful, or caring word can calm troubled waters, give hope to the hopeless, heal a broken heart, and be a light to those around us. However, hateful, cruel, harsh, or careless words can be used to wound, discourage, or create disagreements by being a disgusting odor that echoes what is in our minds while stirring up strife. When someone provokes anger, their words feel like a sharp knife that leads to pain, and even in some cases, revenge. When you provoke someone to anger with words or actions, at that moment, you are unconcerned with their well-being, the condition of your soul, or the glory of the Kingdom of God. If you love God, why would you want to provoke anger in someone who is also made in His image? Those who love God are careful of their words, so their tongue does not lead to sin by provoking others to anger (Psalm 39:1).
“Let Love Turn Us Away from Our Wicked Ways” By: Dante Bowe & Andrea Fisher
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 NASB1995
LORD, help me today, tomorrow, and each subsequent day to put all the bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander in this world away from me, along with all malice. Help me, LORD, to be kind to others, tender-hearted and forgiving, especially to those who try to get under my skin and trigger me, just as You have forgiven me. Amen.
God created us and He knows us. In knowing us, He also knew that we needed guidance and rules – Commandments. Exodus 20:1-17 lists the Ten Commandments as given to Moses. Everyone knows them, but, do we really? They are listed in descending order of importance.The first four are about God. The fifth pertains to our family. The last five are about our community.
Worship only God
No use of God’s Name in cursing
Keep the Sabbath holy
Honor our parents
God is GOD alone. He is not shared. The Bible is clear that He is monotheistic: “In the beginning GOD” – singular. There are no other gods out there, but there are many things that we elevate to that status. We are not to worship, or sacrifice to, or put any of those things in front of God, especially the false god of self. To dislodge any false gods we have to pursue the LORD – the positive counterpoint to the second and third commandments of “do not” or “no” is to love Him first and foremost. In Isaiah 45, five times God says “I am the LORD, there is no other.” Many times in scripture He reinforces that we are to love Him first. If you deny Jesus you deny the Father because He is a Triune God, THE Triune GOD. Look at the positive counterpoint to the “do nots”.
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:5 NASB1995
When we put God first, worshipping only Him, it’s easier to keep the remaining nine commandments, but we are often like the Pharisees. We keep busy showing the world how religious and righteous we are. The thing is, no matter how much we love and reverence the LORD, we will break His Commandments. Peter, who was Jesus’ right-hand man, was adamant that he would never forsake his Lord. Hear His response, because Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself. Then read Peter’s reaction, later, after being asked if he knew Jesus.
Then he [Peter] began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. Matthew 26:74 NASB1995
The truth is, we all have broken the Commandments. We have all broken the law. Is there anyone who hasn’t, at some point, said anything derogatory about their parents? Even the smallest thing? Can you honestly say you have never put anything or anyone above God, even for a moment? Have you ever disregarded your sabbath? It doesn’t have to be Sunday (or Saturday), but we do need a day of rest. God did it. Are we better than Him?
As for the rest, murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting, we are all guilty. I certainly am! I haven’t committed the physical act of murder, but I have murdered in my heart. I have committed adultery in my heart. I admit to stealing. If you have even taken so much as a piece of paper or a paperclip, you have stolen. Picked flowers without permission. That’s stealing. Lies. There is no “white” lie. Withholding information is a lie. Being jealous of someone – looks, clothes, wealth, spouse – we are guilty of coveting.
“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.“ John 1:9-13 NASB1995
There’s good news! Yes, we are all guilty. We have all sinned. God knew it before we did it. God knows it….. and He loves us and forgives us anyway. Jesus left heaven and came to earth, knowing that He would be put to death in the cruelest imaginable way. He did it to cleanse our sins with His blood. I don’t understand it. I can’t explain it. But I know it, and I am forgiven. Inexplicably, unimaginably, gloriously forgiven.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His Name,“ John 1:1, 3-5, 12 NASB1995
It’s your responsibility to lead yourself well by knowing exactly what you’re good at, what bothers others about you, and what your blindspots are. So ask someone today:
1) What am I good at?
2) What is holding me back?
3) What are the blind spots in my life?
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalms 139:23-24 NASB1995
What am I doing to add value to my family, my team at work, my friendships?
Jesus said to the disciples “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” John 13:13-17 NASB1995
If you are are a Christian, you know that Jesus is God. As God, He is immutable, incomparable, incomprehensible. As man, He is subject to everything that we feel and experience. He felt the weight of responsibility to obey and satisfy His earthly parents just as we do. His ministry was a huge responsibility, to teach His followers the Truth. He experienced hunger and thirst. He got hot, and cold, and was physically uncomfortable. He knew His “job”, and didn’t shirk from it. He spent hours in prayer with the Father, leaning on His relationship with Him to clarify what to say, where to go, what to do. He knew what He was good at, and He wasn’t above doing the lowest jobs. (Think: washing feet) I think He talked to His disciples and listened if they had any criticisms about Him. I don’t think Jesus had any blindspots like we do, and even though we know that He was perfect, He still suffered.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 NASB1995
The bottom line is this. When you are struggling with these questions of what am I doing, what am I good at, what is holding me back, and what are my blind spots, take council from someone who will honestly help you, and pray. Jesus has experienced everything we have, plus more. He has the answers!
“We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the Twentieth Century does not reckon with. But we are “harmless,” and therefore unharmed. We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places. Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the Cross. We are “sideliners” – coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged. The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own.” – Jim Elliot, missionary to the Amazon people.
“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ Luke 10:5
Can you imagine the peaceful spirit that could prevail if we would take the time to speak God’s Word over people?
“At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, LORD of heaven and earth, thank You for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way. My Father has entrusted everything to Me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” – Luke 10:21-22
I have noticed that the more I think I can handle things and control my life, the more things get out of control. When I think I’m smarter than God, or that my problems aren’t enough to” bother” Him about, the more out of control I am.
God doesn’t need us to be smart or clever. He wants us – me – to be open to Him. Like a child, listening to Him and seeing Him with awe and wonder. Thank you, Father God, for showing me Who You are and for loving me in spite of me. Amen.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16 NASB1995
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” Colossians 2:8-10 NASB1995
“Temper tantrums, harsh and unkind words, hatred and obscenities have no place in the Christian life. This isn’t about developing some public spotless image, but about deep change in my friendships, family, marriage and dealings with people in the workplace. The new self produces new words and new relationships. Sometimes we’re so eager to get our way that we can compromise honesty and openness. In those moments, though, we’re starting to live outside of Christ and we’re undoing what God has done amongst us.” (from Andy Mason’s ColossiansAlive in Christ devotional)
“But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—” Colossians 3:8-10 NASB1995
It’s too easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of a charismatic man or woman. In churches and in politics, there are many who have no problem saying whatever they think will advance them the furthest. Acquiring money or followers, they use deceptive to pull us in. They don’t care about telling lies if it gets them what they want. You wants and needs don’t figure in to their plans – but they use our problems as props to get the things they want.
As followers of the Way, Christ followers, lovers of the Truth and the Word, we have to be particular and discerning in who we listen to and what we choose to believe. No one is perfect in this world; I think Paul is quite clear about that. The thing that differentiates you and me from the world is twofold. First, and foremost, as flawed and imperfect as we are, we are forgiven, washed clean, and we are new beings in Christ. Second, as new beings, it is critical that we put on that new self and test everything before blindly following someone because they say the “right” things.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1 NASB1995
“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NASB1995
Don’t be deceived, friends. Test everything and everyone against the Scriptures. If you checking them causes them to be angry or upset, that’s a good sign that perhaps they aren’t the one you should be listening to. Remember that no one is perfect, and we are not put here to judge people. We are here to pray for them and encourage them, and to tell them about Jesus – the Way, the Truth, and the Light. In the words of Paul:
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. Brethren, pray for us . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-25, 28 NASB1995
“And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” Mark 11:17 NASB1995 (read verses 11-20)
Holy Week. Why is this particular week more Holy than last week, or next week, or any random week? Should we be treating it any differently than the other 51 weeks of the year? Should we be actingany differently this week than any other week? I’ve heard the reasons, and it’s a good thing to focus on the life of Jesus and the events leading to His death and resurrection. Shouldn’t we be focused on His resurrection every week?
“Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.” 1 Kings 8:41-43 NASB1995THIS. This verse is what this week, this season, is all about: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NASB1995
As Christians, let’s concentrate on the strangers; the people we don’t know, who we see in our church and in our daily lives. Make them welcome. How many times have you been in a situation where you didn’t know the people around you? That man or woman or child who is there by themselves might not really be ignoring you. They might be too shy or insecure to reach out. Reach out. Welcome them – sincerely – into God’s house, and continue beyond a single service. Help them feel like they have come home.
If God loved us enough to send His Son Jesus to die for us, can’t we love enough to reach out a hand in friendship?