July 3 ~ Prayer Challenge for America


pray for America

Proverbs 11:14

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

Heavenly Father,

We lift up all this nation’s leaders to You and ask You to give them Your great wisdom. Surround our leaders with wise people with great integrity so they can give appropriate counsel to our leaders. Open their hearts and minds to receive Your guidance and to act and lead honorably. Help them to guide this nation justly, making appropriate laws. Guide them to create policies and opportunities that will allow all citizens to become all You created them to be. Allow us to prosper and keep this nation safe. Guide our leaders to protect this nation and our freedoms.

Amen.

July 2 ~ Prayer Challenge for America


pray for America

1 Peter 2:17

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

Father God,

We thank You for the gift of this nation. Thank You for Your Word and reminder to love everyone, just as You love us all. Help us to honor and respect all people and their positions, and treat each other with dignity and respect. Help us to be helpful and generous to others. Remind us to honor and give respect to those in authority over us. Help us to be people of integrity, and generous, and obey every law from our leaders, that does not conflict with Your Word.

Amen.

 

Image: Google Images

Scripture: English Standard Version

July 1 ~ Prayer Challenge for America


pray for America

Psalm 33:12

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!”

Lord God,

We thank You for creating this nation where we have the freedom and right to worship You openly, and we give You praises for all Your gifts and goodness. We thank You for your many, many blessings upon this nation as evidenced by our prosperity. We ask Your forgiveness for ignoring You and Your Word and taking You for granted. Help us Lord to repent and honor You as a nation and call You our God. We ask You to bless us with Your wisdom and guide us as a nation. We are in awe of You and give You the love and respect You so rightfully deserve.  Help us to be a blessing to others.

Amen.

 

Image: google images

Scripture: English Standard Version

“I Think, Therefore I Am” – René Descartes


i think....

I ran across this profound quote by René Descartes a few days ago. It made me stop and wonder about the various subjects I think about.  I began to reflect on the times I’ve been reactionary, or not thought good things. There we also times I remembered thinking about positive outcomes. We are all products of our thought life. So it stands to reason that what we think will become who we are. Frank Outlaw put it this way,

frank oulaw

I love how the King James Version puts it, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” Proverbs 23:7a.

I made mental notes about what I have been thinking about and compared those notes with what I want to be thinking about. I know who I want to become, so I must watch my thoughts. They will eventually become my destiny.

Philippians 4:8 helps us understand the right way think,Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  There is so much beauty in this world; there is no reason to dwell on negative things.

Romans 12:2 also guides us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I’m making up my mind to change my thought life and get it more in tune with what God wants me to think about. Those thoughts will guide my future.

What are you thinking about today?

 

Scripture: openbible.info

Images: Google images

The Idols in Our Lives


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The women in my Bible Study recently had a discussion on the Biblical discipline of fasting. Through that conversation I became aware, convicted in fact, that food is an idol in my life. It has been for a long time.

Let me explain. We’re programmed to eat at various times, whether or not we are actually hungry. While food is necessary to sustain life, we think about food a great deal. In the morning the question is, “what do we have for breakfast?” (And don’t even get me started on coffee.) But that’s not enough. We often make dinner plans before we even have breakfast. At work, we look at our clocks wondering what we will have for lunch, and whom we will share the meal with. And there are so many snacks to choose from. We rush home, possibly making a stop at the grocery store first, where we usually buy more things than were on our list. We then rush to prepare a meal. But we have options. We could go out to eat, spending four to ten times the amount that it would cost to cook our own meal. A few hours later we follow that with dessert.

Food is big business.

Our minds revolve around food in some way: when to eat, what to eat, how to pay for what we eat, how good a certain restaurant is, and getting a copy of that really great recipe. Our minds seem to be consumed with food.

Realizing that food was taking up so much brain power, I began to consider the other things that have become idols in my life. I thought I was a good Christian. And I don’t worship idols, or so I thought. So I looked up the definition of an idol.

A simple google search explains that an idol is an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. The Bible is clear on this particular subject. In Exodus 20:3 God tells us, “You shall have no other gods before me” (English Standard Version). There is a footnote in my Bible that adds clarity to this verse. It reads, “You shall have no other gods besides me.” So God wants to be our only god.

We can consider ourselves safe on this matter because we don’t worship images. We don’t put anyone or anything above, or even equal to God.

Or do we?

What about our families, homes, cars, and jobs?

The next definition goes on to explain that an idol is, “a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.”

Quite possibly I have many idols in my life.

I thought about that for a while and decided we can recognize an idol by looking at our calendars and bank statements. I pondered this for a while and came up with what I think are the top ten idols in our lives and culture, in no particular order.

1. Food
2. Money/status/possessions
3. Work/profession
4. Relationships – family and friends
5. Technology, including computers, internet, phones, and social media
6. Materialism and comfort
7. Self – meaning our ego, image, status, pride, and beauty
8. Entertainment/Escapism
9. Sports
10. Celebrities

Several others could have made the list, but I limited it to what I consider our top idols.

Ezekiel 14 is a passage in which God condemns those who have taken idols in their hearts. Verses 4 and 5 states (The Message Version):

“Therefore tell them, ‘The Message of GOD, the Master: All in Israel who install idols in their hearts and embrace the wickedness that will ruin them and still have the gall to come to a prophet, be on notice: I, GOD, will step in and personally answer them as they come dragging along their mob of idols. I am ready to go to work on the hearts of the house of Israel, all of whom have left me for their idols.’ Therefore, say to the house of Israel: ‘GOD, the Master, says, Repent! Turn your backs on your no-god idols. Turn your backs on all your outrageous obscenities.”

Wow.

So the question now becomes, “How do I remove idols from my life?” Reviewing my top ten idols list, there are things on there that we need in order to live. We have to work to get enough money to buy food, shelter, clothing, and medicine. Technology is not necessarily a bad thing, neither is entertainment. And our relationships are very important. These things become idols when we love them more than God.

So that seems to be the answer to the dilemma of idols in my life – to love God even more. Be satisfied with God first, then enjoy the blessings He sends my way.

Consider Philippians 3:8. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

It’s up to me to seek God first; to pursue a more intimate relationship with him. To put Him first. Above all else. As I get closer to God, I pray to lose interest in the things I have held in high regard.

Blessings on your day.

 

Godly Decisions: A New Church Home


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It takes a while to get settled in a new city. There are so many new places to discover and explore. New routines must be developed such as finding the neighborhood grocery store and post office. We’ve also had to make some difficult decisions like which doctor or dentist we should go to. Some exploring has been fun, like finding new restaurants, but the most challenging place to find has been a new church home. This was necessary for us to feel completely settled, and develop a sense of belonging and purpose. Of course we could have stayed members of our previous church and worshiped on-line, but there are Biblical reasons to belong to a local church.

  1. The Psalms guide us to God’s dwelling place. “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty,” Psalm 84:1. Also, Psalm 26:8, “Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.” We can’t fully enjoy the Lord if we don’t regularly attend a local church.

chuch

  1. Hebrews 10:24-25 commands believers to meet together to encourage one another, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
  1. Local church leaders help us grow spiritually. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 instructs us, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.” Hebrews 13:17 also tells us, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

We knew that we needed God’s help to find a new place to worship in. It had to be a place where we can grow and serve. We turned to God and Scripture to lead us. We prayed and asked God for wisdom and guidance as we “shopped” for a new church to attend. In Acts 16:6-10, Paul was led by the Spirit where to preach and where not to preach. It’s the same with us. The Holy Spirit will lead us where we should go, we just need to ask.

James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

We did an exhaustive internet search then called several churches to ask questions. We wanted to review their doctorial statements, and to learn about what programs were available for our children. We asked about missions and volunteer needs. We even wanted to know how the church spent their money. We found several places to visit.

Part of getting guidance from God is to understand when He is telling you “No.” We visited several churches that preached the Word of God, and had places to serve, but they weren’t right for us. How did we know? When I perceive God telling me “No,” I don’t feel good about the situation. I may not know exactly what is wrong, but I know something is not right. It’s God’s way of warning me. In Acts 16:6-7 Paul was led, and stopped by God’s Holy Spirit. We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so we can discern what God wants us to do, and not do. More prayer was needed to ensure we were understanding God correctly.

Something interesting happened as we searched. God said “No” to the church we thought we would join. Part of correctly hearing God’s voice is not to go where you want to go, but where God wants you to go.

god leads

Yesterday, we visited a local church, again. All the elements are there, and it feels right. But there is one more step. We are waiting for confirmation from God. Scripture also commands us to be still. Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” By just waiting on God He will let us know, one way other the other, that we have discovered the place just right for our family.

Blessings to you as you make decisions and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

 

Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com

Images: google images

The Legacy of Saint Patrick


celticCross1

Today millions of people will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with good luck wishes, parades and merriment. However, St. Patrick’s legacy has nothing to do with superstition and merry making. God used St. Patrick to bring the Gospel to a pagan culture. His legacy still endures.

Ireland was a beautiful island, but the people were in darkness. Druids ruled the land. Around 400 A.D., Patrick was abducted from his homeland and put on a slave ship bound for Ireland. He spent six years tending flocks for the Chieftain he was sold to.

Eventually, Patrick escaped and returned to his home and family. His faith was strengthened and he began to study for the ministry. In a vision, God called Patrick to be a missionary to Ireland. Patrick returned to the people who enslaved him as a boy.

At that time the people of Ireland worshiped multiple gods of the sky and the earth and the water. Patrick’s first task was to convince the Irish that there was only one God and that his God really did love them. Patrick was familiar with the Irish language and culture from his years in captivity, so he chose to incorporate Irish ritual and symbols into his teaching. Patrick added the sun (a powerful Irish symbol) to the cross, creating the  Celtic cross so that the result would seem more natural to the people.

In 432 A.D., Patrick built a church on the site of the present day St. Patrick’s Memorial Church in Saul — the first ever Christian church in all of Ireland. It’s considered the cradle of Irish Christianity.

Legend has it that Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Patrick’s ministry lasted 29 years. He baptized over 120,000 Irishmen and planted 300 churches. He died on March 17, 461 AD. His legacy has endured 1600 years!

One of my most treasured possessions is my great-grandmother’s Bible. It is one of the few possessions she had when she left Ireland and traveled by ship to America in 1898. With a broken spine and tattered pages, the Bible really is falling apart. But it represents the hopes, dreams, and courage God gave her to build a life in this new land for future generations. It also represents the faith she passed on to her eleven children. She went to heaven in 1950, but not before she left a godly legacy that continues with me. My spiritual legacy is also to pass my faith to my children and grand children.

How can you impact future generations?

Deuteronomy 6:5-7

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Data on St. Patrick gathered from: http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/churchandministry/churchhistory/patricius_the_true_story_of_st_patrick.aspx, retrieved on March 11,2015.

 

Scripture: http://www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images