Archive for August, 2012


This is the fourth post in my blog series, titled: The Price of Liberty. If you’re just now starting the series, you can begin with the first post here.

The Old Testament prophets dealt with corruption and godlessness in Israel and Judah. And God had to punish the people for their sins and for breaking the covenant that had been established between themselves and Yahweh.

The book of Jeremiah, in particular, showed the people of Judah suffering because they had been disobedient and had broken their covenant with God. In Jeremiah 2:8, the prophet notes where the sin began: “The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.”

The spiritual breakdown of Judah had begun with the religious leaders and lawmakers. Jeremiah clarified the spiritual condition of Judah in Jeremiah 2:3: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

1. They have forsaken Me.

2. They have dug cisterns that do not hold water.

Once a national decline has set in, it is not easy to check the momentum. The wrong indulged in by those in authority soon becomes the fashion among the people at large.

Today some bishops and church leaders tell us that the Bible is no longer relevant. They also say that biblical morality should not be the norm. Deplorably, their message has traveled from the pulpits to the pews. We see the same downward progression as occurred in Jeremiah 2:8-13, where the priests rebelled against God, and ultimately the Lord brought charges against the nation of Israel.

Jeremiah’s message is as relevant for us in America today as it was in his time. His observation that corrupt leadership infects the entire nation with moral poison is certainly borne out in American culture. Further, inward moral failure results in outward national ruin. This downward spiral inevitably brings God’s judgment on a nation, and God’s judgment may be close at hand.

However, in Lamentations 5:21, Jeremiah cries out to God for help and restoration, “Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old.” Included in this verse is the suggestion of repentance, and, in fact, repentance for the sin that has been committed provides the key to coming back to God.

As we look at America today, we cannot help but see a comparison with ancient Judah. Surely every spiritually sensitive Christian in our country would conclude that we are losing our Christian heritage. Jeremiah, too, observed that the deterioration of the nation of Judah was because of its sin and disobedience. Like Judah, America has enjoyed its covenant relationship with almighty God. He has protected this great nation through the years—as long as we looked to Him and sought to walk with Him.

Judah was protected by divine might and heavenly love from its early days as a nation in the Promised Land. And it was to both Israel and Judah that God sent His prophets, His Word, and the promise of the coming Messiah. Moreover, before the kingdom was divided—in the golden age of David’s reign and later, under his son Solomon’s reign—Israel had prospered. In those days, psalms were sung as people made their way to the temple of the Lord. Scripture was held in high esteem.

However, in the days when Jeremiah took his prophetic office, he remembered the good days of the past when the priests—and the people following them—walked in the ways of the Lord. The prophet urged God to “renew our days as of old.” He desired a return to those glorious days when Israel gladly served God.

Like Jeremiah, our cry should be for America to return to God. We, too, should pray, “O God, renew our days as of old.”

In the book of Judges, we learn of a new generation springing up that neither knew the Lord, nor the works that He had done for Israel. Similarly, a new generation has arisen that does not know that it is God who made America great. Today our school children are not being taught the truth about America’s Christian heritage. In fact, people in other countries often know more about Christian America than Americans. In spite of what the humanists and liberals say, the men and women who settled this land came to worship God freely and to spread the Gospel.

Those settlers had their faults—they were not perfect! Yet, for the most part, the people who founded America were outstanding in their devotion to Christ. In fact, some of the colonies indicated their intent in their charters:

1. The First Charter of Virginia instructs the colonists to help “in propagating … [the] Christian religion to suche people as yet live in … ignorance of the true knowledge and worshippe of God.”

2. The Mayflower Compact specifies that the colony was established “for ye glorie of God, and advancement of ye Christian faith.”

3. The Delaware charter defines the one purpose of that settlement as “the further propagation of the Holy Gospel.”

4. The Charter of Maryland explains that its first settlers were moved by “pious Zeal for extending the Christian Religion.”

5. The Massachusetts Bay Charter emphasizes that Boston was founded by men who wanted to bring the New World “to the Knowledge and Obedience of the only true God and Savior of Mankind.”

6. The early settlers of Pennsylvania came to America, according to their own declaration, for the spread of “the Christian religion.”

7. The Charter of Rhode Island “commits its people to the true Christian faith and worship of God.”

8. The Connecticut constitution instructs its settlers to “help preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

9. The New Hampshire charter begins: “We … in the name of Christ and the sight of God.”

10. And the closing of the Declaration of Independence confesses that we are under the protection of the divine Providence.

The first national Thanksgiving Day was ordered by Congress in 1777. On that day, Congress asked for the people’s prayers that God would grant His solemn blessing and hear “the penitent confession of their manifold sins … and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot [our sins] out of remembrance.”

Our founding fathers were not atheists or unbelievers. They were not free thinkers. They were not Muslims or Buddhists. Despite our founders’ denominations differences, these men and women built their hope upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

But the American Civil Liberties Union tells us another story.

I’m not talking about church-state relations or intolerance and religious discrimination. These are incompatible with the Christian gospel.

Early on, America welcomed everyone who was seeking freedom. Now, the very people to whom freedom has been given are attempting to rewrite America’s history. We must not let them!

Let’s quickly review where our nation stands today:

  • God is being left out of school textbooks.
  • Prayer has been banished from the school.
  • Jesus Christ is not found in federal or state educational systems.
  • More information can be found in textbooks about Allah and Mohammad than about the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We also have new names for old evils.

  • Murder is now called abortion.
  • Drunkenness is now called alcoholism—a social disease.
  • Sodomy is referred to as gay rights—an alternative lifestyle.
  • Perversion is now called pornography and adult entertainment.
  • Immorality is now considered the new morality.
  • Cheating is referred to as abnormal social development.

America’s God and the Bible have been obscured. With this dismissal of absolutes, the rapid decline of our nation is easy to see:

  • Our crime rate is out of control. A serious crime is committed every 3 seconds. One robbery occurs every 86 seconds and a murder every 36 minutes.
  • Drug addiction and alcoholism are at epidemic proportions. More than 800,000 people in the US have sought treatment for cocaine addiction. Forty-two percent of Americans have smoked marijuana. More than 17 million adults in the US are alcoholics or have alcohol problems.
  • Suicide is the third-leading killer of people aged 15 to 24.
  • An estimated 65 million Americans are living with a sexually-transmitted disease, and 13 percent of all Internet searches are for erotic content.
  • Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, while 12 percent of couples living together are unmarried and 22 percent of first births are to women in a cohabitating couple.
  • Islam is the fastest growing religion in the US, and the Mormonism is the second. At the same time, the number of people with no religious affiliation has grown rapidly to 15 percent as other people turn to atheism and humanism.

No matter how terrible all of these statistics sound, we need to remember Jeremiah’s words, “Restore us to yourself, O Lord” (Lamentations 5:21). These words should become our words and our prayer for this nation. Let us not lose sight of the tremendous price our forefathers paid so that we might enjoy the wonderful freedoms we have.

http://www.michaelyoussef.com/michaels-blogs/the-price-of-liberty-part-4-that-we-may-return.html

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Pigeonholing

Posted: August 31, 2012 in Max Lucado

Pigeonholing.


As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1

Several years ago my wife Martie and I had the unique experience of going on a camel safari in the desert of the United Arab Emirates. We rocked back and forth on top of those ugly beasts for an hour as we perused the quiet of the desert. In the course of describing the attributes of camels, our guide mentioned that they could live for 3 months without water. They are obviously built for the desert.

What a contrast to the sleek, “type A” gazelle the writer had in mind in Psalm 42:1-11. Bounding through the meadows and the forests, the deer is satisfied and sustained on a regular basis by water. He needs it and yearns for it in his fast-paced existence.

How easy it is in the midst of our abundance to be far more like the camel than the deer. Rarely sensing a need for God, some people can go for months without desiring Him. For some of us, life has been a long stretch of religious and secular activity without any sense of utter dependence on Him or sincere desire to know Him. The problem is that we weren’t built for life in a spiritual desert. We were built—redeemed, in fact—for regular, satisfying access to the refreshing presence of God in our souls.

So what is it that keeps us from really longing for and seeking Him? Of all the things that make us like the camel, none is so glaring as the sin of self-sufficiency. We have relegated Jesus to the sidelines, while we go about our business. Cultivating him as our soul mate and supreme necessity for life has somehow escaped us. But it hasn’t escaped Him. He still knocks at our heart’s door to offer the sweet fellowship that only He can bring (Revelation 3:20).

Let’s drink deeply, living in Jesus more like a deer and less like a camel.

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • Am I more like the camel or the deer? Why?
  • Do I spend time in the Word daily? If yes, what have I been learning? If no, why have I been neglecting this time with God?
  • What have I just learned about my self-sufficiency? How has God’s Spirit and Word refreshed me today?

http://getmorestrength.org/daily/as-a-deer/


These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full —John 15:11

What was the joy that Jesus had? Joy should not be confused with happiness. In fact, it is an insult to Jesus Christ to use the word happiness in connection with Him. The joy of Jesus was His absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice to His Father— the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do— “. . . who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross . . .” (Hebrews 12:2). “I delight to do Your will, O my God . . .” (Psalm 40:8). Jesus prayed that our joy might continue fulfilling itself until it becomes the same joy as His. Have I allowed Jesus Christ to introduce His joy to me?

Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed. But the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances. Jesus said, “. . . the cares of this world, . . . choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). And before we even realize what has happened, we are caught up in our cares. All that God has done for us is merely the threshold— He wants us to come to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim who Jesus is.

Have the right relationship with God, finding your joy there, and out of you “will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Be a fountain through which Jesus can pour His “living water.” Stop being hypocritical and proud, aware only of yourself, and live “your life . . . hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). A person who has the right relationship with God lives a life as natural as breathing wherever he goes. The lives that have been the greatest blessing to you are the lives of those people who themselves were unaware of having been a blessing.

http://utmost.org/my-joy-your-joy/

The Tapestry of Life

Posted: August 31, 2012 in Holy Land Moments
Tags: ,

“See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright — but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.” — Habakkuk 2:4

We are living with a lot of uncertainty these days. Finances are slippery, world politics are changing, and even the weather seems to defy what we would expect. How does a righteous person find solid footing in such an unpredictable and confusing world?

The prophet Habakkuk provides us with an answer for all time:  “The righteous person will live by his faithfulness.” We find solace in our faith.

The sages teach that our world is like a tapestry. Every tapestry has two sides; the front where everything is neat and orderly, and the backside where threads are cut and tied. Even though both sides are made with exactly the same threads, the pictures they produce are completely different. On the front side, there is a beautiful design. The other side, however, is a mess.

All of history is producing one enormous and gorgeous tapestry. However, at this time, we are only able to see the backside. Nothing makes sense, and everything seems chaotic. The picture is ugly, and we wonder, “What in the world is the artist thinking?”

But there is another side to the tapestry, yet to be revealed. On that side, nothing is out of place and every thread is where it ought to be. The picture is clear and perfect. If we were to see it, we would stand in awe at its beauty and brilliance. We would understand the artist’s intention all along.

To live in faithfulness means to look at the tapestry of life from our side and to say, “I know how it looks. It’s confusing and not very pretty. But I know that on the other side there is a beautiful picture in the making. Everything makes perfect sense and is exactly as it should be.”

Friends, as we continue to travel through uncertain times, let us remember that one thing is certain.  The Lord our God is the artist creating this tapestry, and in the end, everything will be beautiful.

http://www.holylandmoments.org/devotionals/the-tapestry-of-life


There is so much at stake in this coming election.  And, like many of you I’m paying attention to the Republican Convention and expect to follow closely the Democratic Convention.

On Sunday evening at church I spoke with a woman who stated “I don’t like either candidate.  I’m not intending to vote.”

I said, “What?  You of all people with such strong views about what is right and wrong and you aren’t intending to vote?  You are the very type of person that can make the difference in keeping this country from slinking into further tyranny.”

The Rev. Charles Finney (1792-1875) similarly reminded Christian voters in his day:

The time has come that Christian must vote for honest men and take consistent ground in politics …. Christians have been exceedingly guilty in this matter.  But the time has come when they must act differently…. God cannot sustain this free and blessed country which we love and pray for unless the church will take right ground.  … He will bless or curse this nation according to the course (Christians) take in (politics) 

Charles G. Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion, 1868.

If you are like me, you are getting primed for the upcoming election.  You want to know more and you feel the responsibility to engage others. 

Below, I quote from David Barton’s little book entitled America’s Godly Heritage”.  It is only 62 pages long.  It includes the kind of important information described below.  It is also available on DVD.   Barton’s approach is always engaging. This DVD is no exception.  You can order the book and/or the DVD at our store at: https://secure4.afo.net/ada/store2/index.php

I was thankful for the opportunity to engage my Christian friend!   I believe she understands what is at stake and  will now vote.  As a result of our conversation, she became involved in a Christian- based call center to help identify “values voters” and help get out the vote!

Get involved in your corner.  If we all do that and use powerful resources such as that below, we can be effective in getting out voters who will involve themselves as Bible believing Christians – studying the candidates, praying and making right decisions that God would be glorified!

 

Here is the quote from David Barton I mentioned:

“News reporting today rarely mentions whether a candidate running for office embraces or rejects God-fearing values and Biblical principles; and many God-fearing citizens often complain that they don’t know what a candidate really believes.  Fortunately a number of voter websites are now available to help identify  the specific beliefs  of candidates on numbers of important issues, including those related to Biblical values (links to several such websites are available at www.wallbuilders.com.  Additionally, when a state or federal incumbent is running for reelection, numerous websites will present his voting record, thus clearly establishing what he has actually done while in office.  (A voting record is always to be believed above a candidate’s speeches or campaign ads, for as the old axiom correctly states, “Actions speak louder than words.”)

“God-fearing citizens must become active voters; they must also realize that “separation of church and state” as it exists today is not a teaching of the Founding Fathers, it is not an historical teaching ….” [Take from America’s Godly Heritage, by David Barton]

Get your copies of America’s Godly Heritage in book and/or DVD form at

https://secure4.afo.net/ada/store2/index.php

While you’re visiting our store, check out our revamped webpage at

www.americandecency.org

http://www.americandecency.org/full_article.php?article_no=1338


After we had said good-by to the elders of Ephesus we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, where the ship was to unload her cargo. There we found certain Christian disciples and stayed a week with them. Speaking under the influence of the Spirit, they told Paul not to set foot in Jerusalem; but when it was time for us to go, we went on our way, and they all, with their wives and children, came with us until we were out of the city. Then kneeling on the beach, we prayed and said good-by to one another; we went on board and they returned home.

Sailing from Tyre to Ptolemais, we completed our voyage. After greeting the Christian brothers who lived there, we spent a day with them. The next morning we set out and reached Cesarea, where we went to the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the Seven, and stayed with him. He had four daughters who had the gift of prophecy.

During our stay there, which lasted a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming up to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said: “This is what the Holy Spirit says, ‘In the same way the Jews will bind the owner of this belt at Jerusalem and will turn him over to the Romans.'” When we and the brothers who lived there heard this, we begged Paul not to go up to Jerusalem, but Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but to die in Jerusalem for the cause of the Lord Jesus.” So when he could not be kept from going, we stopped pleading and said: “The Lord’s will be done.”

After some days we started for Jerusalem. Some of the disciples from Cesarea went with us and brought us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, one of the early disciples, with whom we were to stay. When we reached Jerusalem the brothers welcomed us gladly.

The next day Paul went with us to see James, and all the elders of the church were present. After Paul had greeted them, he told, one by one, all the things that God had done among the foreign peoples through his ministry. When they heard it they praised God and said to him, “Brother, you see how many thousands of Christian believers there are among the Jews and that they are all eager to have men keep the law. They have been told that you teach all Jews living in foreign lands not to keep the law of Moses. Now what is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come; therefore do this: we have here four men who have solemnly promised to make certain offerings at the Temple. Join with them, pay their expenses, and all will know that there is no truth in the stories told about you, but that you live as the law of Moses commands.”

So Paul joined the men the next day and went with them into the Temple to give notice of the time when sacrifice was to be offered for every one of them.

http://kids.ochristian.com/Childrens-Bible/Pauls-Last-Journey-To-Jerusalem.shtml