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Posts Tagged ‘god’

Graham

Billy Graham, America’s pastor, died today. He became an ordained minister at the age of 21 in 1939. Across his career, Dr. Graham preached at racially integrated churches in the 1950s and 1960s. He took bold stands for truth and justice. He delivered countless crusades in stadiums across the world to share the message of Jesus Christ.

Billy Graham avoided sexual and financial scandals that ended the ministry of many pastors and televangelists. It is said that he spoke to over 200 million people across the span of his 99 years on earth.

A favorite quote shares that, “It is God’s job to judge, the Spirit’s job to convict, and our job to love.”

May we all strive toward the finish line and be faithful stewards of Christ like the late Dr. Billy Graham.

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prayer-invite

Today, well over a hundred thousand military personnel are deployed overseas. Members of the US Armed Forces are on seven continents and in 170 countries. These warriors are away from their loved ones and families because threats do not take holidays.

Pray for the 28,000 service members in South Korea, the 13,000 in Afghanistan, the 5,000 in Iraq and the 20,000 National Guard personnel who are activated alongside. They stand guard this weekend so that others can have security and know peace.

May God richly bless our troops, strengthen their families, and sustain their efforts across the globe.

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GBA

It’s okay to say, “God bless America.” In Jeremiah 29:5-7 we find some interesting concepts.  God says to build houses and settle down. God also says to seek peace and prosperity of the city. In the last verse, we are told, “pray to the Lord, for if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Here, we are encouraged to pray for the city. The governmental institution that controls and runs much of daily life. Even more interesting is the place of this suggestion, because the people were in captivity, i.e. Babylon. If Israel needed to pray for the cities, towns, and government while they were in bondage, perhaps we should pray for our nation in both good times and bad.

Nations need healing, just like people. Nations can offer forgiveness to both enemies and friends. Nations can receive our gratitude and thanks.

When we say, “God bless America” it is a prayer, not a boast.  May we continue to celebrate what is right with our Republic and pray for God’s power to make it even better.

God bless America!

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Today America celebrates 240 years of independence. As many are inclined to celebrate with fireworks, picnics, and parades, the Forth of July also provides the perfect opportunity to look back on the document and the ideas that brought us to this place in time.

When one looks at the Declaration of Independence the emphasis is clearly on reasons to separate from England.  It also articulates the fundamental ideas that form our nation:  all men are created free and equal and possess the same inherent, natural rights. These rights are not imagined, decreed, or penned on paper by mankind, but found in the eternal “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” When rights are viewed and expressed as “God-given” the Declaration’s meaning transcends the particulars of time and circumstance.  It means that these rights are inherently possessed by all men because of the Almighty.

There are five references to God in the Declaration of Independence, two in the first paragraph, one in the middle, and two in the last paragraph.

As we continue our Fourth of July celebrations, may we take time to appreciate the idea that we are free people, but ultimately that our American freedom was born of God.

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snow tulips

Most of America has snow on the ground.  People are inside, trying to stay warm. Recently, I looked out my window at home to see a dozen tulips poking through a snow drift.  I marveled at the strength and power that made those plants grow in such harsh and demanding conditions.  I didn’t want to go outside because of the freezing cold, but the tulips pushed through the layers of dirt, soil, leaves, and now several inches of snow.

We forget it, but people are like those snow covered tulips.  Folks can push through tremendous difficulty and hardship.  We often grow during the most difficult times in life when there is an inner strength guiding us forward.

Scripture provides a picture of this in 2 Corinthians chapter 4.  Paul writes to the church and says, “do not lose heart.”  There is an inner strength in you that the world will not understand.  While it may be confused with personal strength, it is a “treasure in jars of clay.”  This extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.  It gives the ability to endure, maintain, and move forward even when life gives us the worst conditions possible.

Paul also shares how resilient believers can be because of God strengthening us in times of sorrow. In verse 8 he shares that God provides so well that “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed . . . .”  The Lord who helped Israel endure the desert sands will also strengthen you during the challenges of today.

God provides a covering that shelters us during the storms of life.  He also allows His Holy Spirit to guide us and strengthen us when we only see darkness.  The inner strength protects us and allows us to move upward, beyond the dirt and soil of difficulty.

Don’t lose heart.  Remember what God can do with snow covered tulips.  He renews their inner strength day by day, allowing momentary afflictions to prepare them for a greater reward and a new season of life.

 

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blank page

It is that time of year again. We stand at the threshold of a new year and people are full of excitement and anticipation. Part of that excitement is making a list of resolutions or goals for 2015.

We make resolutions because we want to improve our circumstances. We want to improve ourselves and our quality of life. The top resolutions, for most people, tend to revolve around the same three areas: money, health, and family.

I encourage you to also make faith a part of your “wish list” for 2015. Here are 5 resolutions that can strengthen your Christian walk next year.

Read the Bible. Spending time with God’s Word is vital to any Christian. It encourages and educates us. It provides direction when we feel lost. It reminds us that God is near. Examine your daily schedule and find the right time when you can reflect on Scripture.

Speak more carefully. While we ignore much of what we hear in a typical day, words matter. Words can build up or tear down. Don’t allow destructive talk, gossip, or vulgarities to rule your speech. Resolve to watch your language and speak in a manner that glorifies God, especially when it comes to the name of God.

Go gadget free. Yes, your smart phone is fun and it is a great way to stay in touch with others, but it also robs time from important areas of life. Make a rule to turn off your computers, cell phones, tablets, etc. at least once a week. While it may seem like this is hindering your ability to connect, it will actually allow you to make even deeper connections with those around you. Bless your family and friends by being present in their lives.

Pray frequently. Prayer is central to our faith. It is deliberate communication with our Heavenly Father. It is an act of worship. It is a spiritual discipline. It allows us to adore, petition, praise, and confess. Scripture shares several occasions when Jesus made time and space to pray. Follow in the example of Christ and find time to pray to our Creator.

Volunteer your time. You can make a difference in someone’s life by investing minutes each day. Take time to volunteer at a local charity, non-profit, or ministry organization. Live your faith and demonstrate that you are a servant of Christ. There are programs designed to help pregnant girls and teenage parents make good choices and establish a solid foundation for their lives and the lives of their babies. There are programs to feed the hungry. There are programs to mentor married couples. All of these programs need volunteers to strengthen others in need.

As we prepare for 2015, make faith part of your improvement plan.  Make a plan to strengthen your faith now and into the new year.

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emmanuel

What is the longest time you had to wait for something?  We wait a matter of minutes for food at a restaurant and it feels like a long time.  We wait 5 years to start kindergarten classes at school.  We wait 20 to 30 years to find a spouse.  As a people, we do not wait well, no matter how great the reward may be.

The Advent of Christ is also a story of waiting.  The time between the Old and New Testaments total 400 years.  This time span moves from Nehemiah to the birth of Jesus Christ.  These years are known as the intertestamental period, but they are often called the “silent” years.  A time when people were waiting to hear something from God.

The New Testament gospels give us more than a whisper.  They announce the long-awaited birth of the Messiah, the Desire of nations, the Son of David, the Prince of Peace.  Jesus arrives as our Emmanuel.  Jesus arrives as our Redeemer, Savior, and King.  The most precious gift we could receive.

His birth shows the faithful promise of God to provide salvation.  His birth allows God and sinners to be reconciled.  His birth brings light and life to a world that has only known darkness and death. Jesus was born that mankind may have life, a second birth, a home beyond this world.

We celebrate the Advent of Christ on earth.  We celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the deliverance that it brings.

Now we wait again.  We wait on the second Advent of Christ and His promised return.  May God hasten the day when we can finally see Jesus, the one pierced for our transgressions, the one crushed for our iniquities, the one who died so that we may have eternal life.

 

 

 

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