VIDEO God Bless the U.S.A. – July Fourth

God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood

Thank you veterans for preserving our Republic. Happy Independence Day to all.

This week, America celebrates another birthday. Americans are hoisting their flags, marching in parades, and setting off fireworks. I get a thrill every time I hear the band strike up “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” And I get a lump in my throat whenever I join in singing “America, America, God shed His grace on thee.”

Indeed, God has blessed America. This nation, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, has endured for 230 years. America is the oldest constitutional republic on earth.

But all is not well in our land. When Thomas Jefferson penned the immortal words of the Declaration of Independence, he deliberately appealed to the Creator. He acknowledged an overriding obligation to “Nature and Nature’s God.” And he understood that ordered liberty is not just a subjective preference, but a divinely ordained condition for which human beings are designed.

But over the last few decades, legions of skeptics have mounted a massive assault on these “self-evident truths.” In prestigious law schools, in the halls of government, and especially in the Supreme Court, God is often banished from public conversation. If a public school teacher were to introduce Jefferson’s ideas and language into the classroom today, she would likely be called on the carpet.

This assault on God in public culture severely damages our republic. If God is thrown out of our history, we lose our basis for believing that individuals have rights and dignity. In an empty universe, we have no meaning, no value. Without God, there are no unalienable rights, and no certain proof that liberty is better than tyranny, or that life is better than death. Everything is a matter of opinion and power.

The references to God in the Declaration of Independence provide a foundation for an ongoing moral conversation within civil society. And moral truths pervade our founding documents from beginning to end. Without God as the source of all those moral principles, the public square would quickly revert to the law of the jungle. Brutish power would prevail. The weak, the unborn, the elderly, and the gravely ill could be quietly terminated.

As much as I enjoy the anthems and the fireworks, more than that is called for on this July 4th. We need to confess our moral failures and our national sins – repent of the lies that have justified killing innocent babies and the elderly. Renewal begins on our knees. It is there that we hear soul searching questions from God Himself, asking, “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? … Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82).

Our nation’s founding document declared independence from Great Britain; but, with equal fervor, dependence upon God. Expressing “firm reliance on the Protection of divine Providence,” the signers committed the American experiment to their Maker. The spirit of 1776 was one of reverence and trust.

I have been studying Jeremiah in my devotions lately, and I am struck by the chilling parallels with today. Time is running short, I fear, for this great, noble experiment in freedom. Turn to God, and tell your neighbors to do so while there is yet time.
“BreakPoint with Chuck Colson” 2008

God Changes Our Face

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. PSALM 40:3

God invites us to see his face so he can change ours. He uses our uncovered faces to display his glory. The transformation isn’t easy. The sculptor of Mount Rushmore faced a lesser challenge than does God. But our Lord is up to the task. He loves to change the faces of his children. By his fingers, wrinkles of worry are rubbed away. Shadows of shame and doubt become portraits of grace and trust. He relaxes clenched jaws and smoothes furrowed brows. His touch can remove the bags of exhaustion from beneath the eyes and turn tears of despair into tears of peace.

How? Through worship.

We’d expect something more complicated, more demanding. A forty-day fast or the memorization of Leviticus perhaps. No. God’s plan is simpler. He changes our faces through worship.

Just Like Jesus

Service And Witness

We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. —2 Corinthians 4:5

While serving as a maid in London, England, in the early part of the 20th century, Gladys Aylward had other dreams. Her goal was to be a missionary to China. Having been rejected by a Christian missionary
organization as “unqualified,” Gladys decided to go there on her own. At the age of 28, she used her life savings to purchase a one-way ticket to Yangcheng, a remote village in China. There she established an inn for trade caravans where she shared Bible stories. Gladys served in other villages as well and became known as Ai-weh-deh, Chinese for “virtuous one.”

The apostle Paul also spread the gospel to distant regions of the world. He extended himself as a servant to meet the needs of others (2 Cor. 11:16-29). He wrote this about serving: “We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (4:5).

Not all of us are called to endure hardship to spread the gospel in distant lands. But each of us is responsible as a servant of God to share Christ with people in our sphere of influence. It’s our privilege to help our neighbors, friends, and relatives. Ask God for openings to serve and to talk about Jesus who gave Himself for us.by Dennis Fisher

My life is a painting created by God,
And as such I’ve nothing to boast;
Reflecting the image of Christ to the world
Is what I desire the most. —Sper

We serve God by sharing His Word with others.

Look Back

“Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.” (Isaiah 51:1)

While it is not good to dwell too much on the past—whether in pride of past accomplishments or despondency over past failures or grieving over past losses—it is well never to forget what God has done for us. In this passage, Israel is reminded of Abraham and Sarah, who had been lifted out of the pit of paganism and cut out of the rock of idolatry, and whom God had greatly blessed.

David, looking back, had written that God “brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay” (Psalm 40:2). Paul looked back and said: “In time past . . . beyond measure I persecuted the church of God. . . . But when it pleased God, who . . . called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me . . . they glorified God in me” (Galatians 1:13, 15-16, 24).

Whatever our own background may be—bigoted skeptics, or flagrant sinners, or self-righteous hypocrites—God has indeed, if we are now saved by His grace, lifted us out of a pit and set us on a solid rock. We were “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).

“Such were some of you,” wrote Paul of such gross sins as fornication, idolatry, homosexuality, adultery, and thievery, as well as covetousness and drunkenness. “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 6:11). An occasional look back will help us to remember more often to look up in humble thankfulness for the grace of God. HMM

Doth the plowman plow all day to sow?

Doth the plowman plow all day to sow?” (Isa. 28:24.)

ONE day in early summer I walked past a beautiful meadow. The grass was as soft and thick and fine as an immense green Oriental rug. In one corner stood a fine old tree, a sanctuary for numberless wild birds; the crisp, sweet air was full of their happy songs. Two cows lay in the shade, the very picture of content.

Down by the roadside the saucy dandelion mingled his gold with the royal purple of the wild violet.

I leaned against the fence for a long time, feasting my hungry eyes, and thinking in my soul that God never made a fairer spot than my lovely meadow.

The next day I passed that way again, and lo! the hand of the despoiler had been there. A plowman and his great plow, now standing idle in the furrow, had in a day wrought a terrible havoc. Instead of the green grass there was turned up to view the ugly, bare, brown earth; instead of the singing birds there were only a few hens industriously scratching for worms. Gone were the dandelion and the pretty violet. I said in my grief, “How could any one spoil a thing so fair?”

Then my eyes were opened by some unseen hand, and I saw a vision, a vision of a field of ripe corn ready for the harvest. I could see the giant, heavily laden stalks in the autumn sun; I could almost hear the music of the wind as it would sweep across the golden tassels. And before I was aware, the brown earth took on a splendor it had not had the day before.

Oh, that we might always catch the vision of an abundant harvest, when the great Master Plowman comes, as He often does, and furrows through our very souls, uprooting and turning under that which we thought most fair, and leaving for our tortured gaze only the bare and the unbeautiful.—Selected.

Why should I start at the plough of my Lord, that maketh the deep furrows on my soul? I know He is no idle husbandman, He purposeth a crop.—Samuel Rutherford.

We must not imagine that we are suffering for Christ, and with Christ, if we are not in Christ

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.” 2 Timothy 2:12

We must not imagine that we are suffering for Christ, and with Christ, if we are not in Christ. Beloved friend, are you trusting to Jesus only? If not, whatever you may have to mourn over on earth, you are not “suffering with Christ,” land have no hope of reigning with Him in heaven. Neither are we to conclude that all a Christian’s sufferings are sufferings with Christ, for it is essential that he be called by God to suffer.

If we are rash and imprudent, and run into positions for which neither providence nor grace has fitted us, we ought to question whether we are not rather sinning than communing with Jesus. If we let passion take the place of judgment, and selfwill reign instead of Scriptural authority, we shall fight the Lord’s battles with the devil’s weapons, and if we cut our own fingers we must not be surprised. Again, in troubles which come upon us as the result of sin, we must not dream that we are suffering with Christ. When Miriam spoke evil of Moses, and the leprosy polluted her, she was not suffering for God.

Moreover, suffering which God accepts must have God’s glory as its end. If I suffer that I may earn a name, or win applause, I shall get no other reward than that of the Pharisee. It is requisite also that love to Jesus, and love to His elect, be ever the mainspring of all our patience. We must manifest the Spirit of Christ in meekness, gentleness, and forgiveness. Let us search and see if we truly suffer with Jesus. And if we do thus suffer, what is our “light affliction” compared with reigning with Him?

Oh it is so blessed to be in the furnace with Christ, and such an honour to stand in the pillory with Him, that if there were no future reward, we might count ourselves happy in present honour; but when the recompense is so eternal, so infinitely more than we had any right to expect, shall we not take up the cross with alacrity, and go on our way rejoicing?

Pharaoh’s dream has too often been my waking experience

“The illfavoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven wellfavoured and fat kine.” Genesis 41:4

Pharaoh’s dream has too often been my waking experience. My days of sloth have ruinously destroyed all that I had achieved in times of zealous industry; my seasons of coldness have frozen all the genial glow of my periods of fervency and enthusiasm; and my fits of worldliness have thrown me back from my advances in the divine life. I had need to beware of lean prayers, lean praises, lean duties, and lean experiences, for these will eat up the fat of my comfort and peace.

If I neglect prayer for never so short a time, I lose all the spirituality to which I had attained; if I draw no fresh supplies from heaven, the old corn in my granary is soon consumed by the famine which rages in my soul. When the caterpillars of indifference, the cankerworms of worldliness, and the palmerworms of self-indulgence, lay my heart completely desolate, and make my soul to languish, all my former fruitfulness and growth in grace avails me nothing whatever. How anxious should I be to have no lean-fleshed days, no ill-favoured hours!

If every day I journeyed towards the goal of my desires I should soon reach it, but backsliding leaves me still far off from the prize of my high calling, and robs me of the advances which I had so laboriously made. The only way in which all my days can be as the “fat kine,” is to feed them in the right meadow, to spend them with the Lord, in His service, in His company, in His fear, and in His way. Why should not every year be richer than the past, in love, and usefulness, and joy?—I am nearer the celestial hills, I have had more experience of my Lord, and should be more like Him.

O Lord, keep far from me the curse of leanness of soul; let me not have to cry, “My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!” but may I be well-fed and nourished in Thy house, that I may praise Thy name.