Happy Fourth of July
God Bless America
Happy Fourth of July
God Bless America
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. —2 Timothy 4:7
For more than two decades, Andrew Carroll has been urging people not to throw away the letters written by family members or friends during a time of war. Carroll, director of the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University in California, considers them an irreplaceable link to tie families together and open a door of understanding. “Younger generations are reading these letters,” Carroll says, “and asking questions and saying, ‘Now I understand what you endured, what you sacrificed.’ ”
When the apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome and knew his life would soon end, he wrote a letter to a young man whom he considered a “son in the faith,” Timothy. Like a soldier on the battlefield, Paul opened his heart to him: “The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
When we read the letters in the Bible that the heroes of the Christian faith have left for us and grasp what they endured because of their love for Christ, we gain courage to follow their example and to stand strong for those who come after us.
Lord, give us strength for the spiritual battles we face today, knowing that You have won the ultimate victory and that we will one day live eternally with You.
Run the race with eternity in view.
Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips… —Isaiah 6:5
When I come into the very presence of God, I do not realize that I am a sinner in an indefinite sense, but I suddenly realize and the focus of my attention is directed toward the concentration of sin in a particular area of my life. A person will easily say, “Oh yes, I know I am a sinner,” but when he comes into the presence of God he cannot get away with such a broad and indefinite statement. Our conviction is focused on our specific sin, and we realize, as Isaiah did, what we really are. This is always the sign that a person is in the presence of God. There is never any vague sense of sin, but a focusing on the concentration of sin in some specific, personal area of life. God begins by convicting us of the very thing to which His Spirit has directed our mind’s attention. If we will surrender, submitting to His conviction of that particular sin, He will lead us down to where He can reveal the vast underlying nature of sin. That is the way God always deals with us when we are consciously aware of His presence.
This experience of our attention being directed to our concentration of personal sin is true in everyone’s life, from the greatest of saints to the worst of sinners. When a person first begins climbing the ladder of experience, he might say, “I don’t know where I’ve gone wrong,” but the Spirit of God will point out some definite and specific thing to him. The effect of Isaiah’s vision of the holiness of the Lord was the directing of his attention to the fact that he was “a man of unclean lips.” “He touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged’ ” (Isaiah 6:7). The cleansing fire had to be applied where the sin had been concentrated.
by Oswald Chambers
Picture waiting in a checkout line that hasn’t moved for 10 minutes. Many of us would feel frustrated. We live in a generation that expects instant results.
Everyone struggles with some degree of impatience. We’re born with this trait—think about a three-month-old who wants milk in the middle of the night. The inborn reaction is to fuss at the first hint of discomfort and to keep at it until the need is met. Patterns from our old flesh nature, like impatience, make this a continual battle for most people, but one that is very worthwhile to fight.
Let’s consider the biblical definition of patience. The word can refer to both longsuffering and perseverance—that is, not giving up and yielding under pressure. It reveals itself when we are willing to wait without frustration while suffering or experiencing some strong desire. What’s more, patience means accepting whatever the Lord chooses to give (or not to give) and willingly receiving it on His timetable. In the meantime, we should pray, obey, and persist as we seek God’s direction.
The danger of impatience is that we might miss the Lord’s perfect plan and blessing. But when we trust our Father’s will and timing, we will know inner peace.
What causes you stress? Carefully examine whether you are taking matters into your own hands or releasing the circumstance to almighty God. Follow Psalms 37:7, which says, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Seek His way and His timing. Anything else can be destructive.
The Powers of God
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)
In these days of rampant humanism, blatant materialism, and effete religionism, the very concept of an all-powerful God who created, controls, and judges all things seems anachronistic, but God is still there and is still the Almighty.
Three Greek words are translated “power” in Scripture—exousia (“authority”), dunamis (“ability”), and kratos (“strength”). Each is attributed in unlimited extent to God the Creator as incarnate in Christ the Redeemer. “All power [‘authority’] is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). “For thine is the kingdom, and the power [‘ability’], and the glory, for ever” (Matthew 6:13). “That ye may know . . . the exceeding greatness of his power [‘ability’] to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power [‘strength’], Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power [‘authority’], and might, and dominion” (Ephesians 1:18-21).
He is the “Almighty God” of Abraham (Genesis 17:1), “the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 40:28). “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).
God can do whatever He pleases, except anything contrary to His nature. He “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), for He is “the truth” (John 14:6). His inspired Word is inerrant—“the scripture of truth” (Daniel 10:21). We can be certain that He did not “create” the world by evolution, for that would be contradicted both by His infallible Word and by His omnipotence. Being all-powerful, God would surely not create by such a cruel, inefficient process as evolution. HMM
Not Easily Silenced
Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also. Hebrews 13:3
Christians around the world are dying for their faith, and multitudes are suffering some of the most intense persecution in history. One believer in the nation of Eritrea was overheard asking, “Do our brothers in the rest of the world know how badly we’re suffering? Does the West even know we’re in prison and dying?”
It’s vital to stay informed about the persecuted church and to pray for our brothers and sisters who are behind bars, under the lash, and in some cases literally on the cross.
It’s also crucial to remain strong in the face of opposition we ourselves may encounter. The same devil who is trying to destroy the church in some areas is trying to intimidate Christians elsewhere. But believers are not easily silenced. We have the Gospel in our hearts, the Spirit in our souls, the Cross in our hands, and the return of Christ on our minds. We must stand strong in the face of opposition because Christ is returning for us soon.
Let’s pray for the persecuted church, and let’s preach the Word and hold high the Cross whatever the cost.
The completion of the Great Commission will include great suffering, but eternity will prove it is worth the price. David Platt, in the foreword to The Insanity of God
Recommended Reading: Hebrews 13:1-6
And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered. —2 Chronicles 31:21
Were some watcher or holy one from the bright world above to come among us for a time with the power to diagnose the spiritual ills of church people, there is one entry which I am quite sure would appear on the vast majority of his reports: Definite evidence of chronic spiritual lassitude; level of moral enthusiasm extremely low….
It is true that there is a lot of religious activity among us: interchurch basketball tournaments, religious splash parties followed by devotions, weekend camping trips with a Bible quiz around the fire. Sunday school picnics, building fund drives and ministerial breakfasts are with us in unbelievable numbers, and they are carried on with typical American gusto. It is when we enter the sacred precincts of the heart’s personal religion that we suddenly lose all enthusiasm.
So we find this strange and contradictory situation: a world of noisy, headlong religious activity carried on without moral energy or spiritual fervor.
In the busyness of spiritual leadership and church activity, keep me, Lord, from boredom or burn-out. Help me to stay personally fresh in my enthusiasm for You, so that in turn I can pass that genuine enthusiasm on to the people with whom I minister. Amen.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him…. Revelation 3:20
One of the most liberating declarations in the New Testament is this: ‘The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23, 24). Here the nature of worship is shown to be wholly spiritual. True religion is removed from diet and days, from garments and ceremonies, and placed where it belongs—in the union of the spirit of man with the Spirit of God!
From man’s standpoint, the most tragic loss suffered in the Fall was the vacating of his innermost being by the Spirit of God. At the far-in hidden center of man’s being is a bush fitted to be the dwelling place of the Triune God. There God planned to rest and glow with moral and spiritual fire. Man by his sin forfeited this indescribably wonderful privilege and must now dwell there alone.
For so intimately private is that place that no creature can intrude; no one can enter but Christ, and He will enter only by the invitation of faith! “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).
Understanding what the will of the Lord is. EPHESIANS 5:17
Every man in a free society must decide whether he will exploit his liberty or curtail it for moral and intelligent ends. He may take upon him the responsibility of business and a family, or he may shun all obligations and end on skid row. The tramp is freer than president or king, but his freedom is undoing. While he lives he remains socially sterile, and when he dies he leaves nothing to make the world glad he lived.
The Christian cannot escape the peril of too much liberty. He is indeed free, but his very freedom may prove a source of real temptation to him. He is free from the chains of sin, free from the moral consequences of evil acts now forgiven, free from the curse of the law and the displeasure of God.
The ideal Christian is one who knows he is free to do as he will—and wills to be a servant. This is the path Christ took: Blessed is the man who follows Him!
Thank You, Lord, for the freedom I have through Christ. I am not bound by sin or fear. Help me to use my freedom to serve You with unfettered boldness.