VIDEO Presidents Day – My Love Letter to the United States of America

My Love Letter to the United States of America

Dear America,

Words are sometimes hard to come by when you feel strong about something. But I’ll try to put into words the immense love I have for you.

In the graph of history, you started late and haven’t been around long. But in your short time, you’ve given the world the best gift anyone could imagine: Freedom.

Freedom is rare, tyranny is the norm. We didn’t and still don’t come by this gift by accident or random celestial reaction. Freedom was designed, and this offering is expensive. Millions of brave men and women have pledged and continue to pledge their lives, limbs, honor, and treasure to ensure this unique trial of humanity gets more time on earth.

You gave me freedom to speak my mind without recrimination, the open path to follow the God I want to follow and direct my life as I wish, and you asked nothing in return except that I allow others to do the same.

This is why, at every single event where the Pledge of Allegiance or National Anthem is solemnly and beautifully expressed in words or song, a chill runs over my skin and tears fill my eyes at the immense sense of pride and honor I have to stand tall, place my hand of my swelling heart, and recite those words. I know behind those words stand my benefactors, some long gone and some still here, who graciously say, “I have the watch. Go pursue your happiness.”

Sometimes in my tears, a sorrow creeps in for those who don’t see what I see in you. We have in our borders people who do not share my love. They see you as the oppressor, the slave holder, the tyrant, the dictator who rules the world, drains its resources, and gets fat while others starve.

They do not understand you. They want you like the others – dark, unsuccessful, miserable, oppressive.

They do not know, or know but choose to ignore, the great lengths you’ve gone to ensure each American – born or naturalized – can live as he or she chooses.

Love unexpressed is not love so here and now I pledge that I will use all gifts God has bestowed on me to preserve this precious freedom. I will speak of you with honor and pride, and I will never forsake what you have granted me.

Happy Valentine’s Day, America. I love you!

By Michael Cummings
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Presidents Day Washington and Lincoln

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Atmosphere of Encouragement

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.  Romans 15:2

 

I’m encouraged every time I visit the fitness center near our house. In that busy place, I’m surrounded by others who are striving to improve their physical health and strength. Posted signs remind us not to judge each other, but words and actions that reveal support for others’ conditioning efforts are always welcomed.

What a great picture of how things should look in the spiritual realm of life! Those of us who are striving to “get in shape” spiritually, to grow in our faith, can sometimes feel as if we don’t belong because we’re not as spiritually fit—as mature in our walk with Jesus—as someone else.

Paul gave us this short, direct suggestion: “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). And to the believers in Rome he wrote: “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (Romans 15:2). Recognizing that our Father is so lovingly gracious with us, let’s show God’s grace to others with encouraging words and actions.

As we “accept one another” (v. 7), let’s entrust our spiritual growth to God—to the work of His Spirit. And while we daily seek to follow Him, may we create an atmosphere of encouragement for our brothers and sisters in Jesus as they also seek to grow in their faith.

By Dave Branon

Today’s Reflection

Lord, help me today to encourage others along the way. Guide me to say what will not discourage but will spur them toward a deeper walk with You in Your love.

God Rules in Your Circumstances

Philippians 1:12-18

If you could change your circumstances, would you? Most of us would respond in the affirmative. Even if we’re experiencing relatively peaceful and comfortable conditions, we can always imagine a better life. And for those of us enduring difficult, painful, or trying situations, we long to see the burden lifted.

In reality, there are some circumstances over which we have no control. We can’t maneuver our way out, so our only option is to go through them. However, if we are redeemed children of God, we are exactly where He wants us, because His sovereignty rules over all our situations at all times.

This was true for Paul despite his being imprisoned, chained, and watched by the Roman guard. After a fruitful ministry of proclaiming the gospel and founding churches throughout the Roman Empire, he found himself under house arrest. But even during these difficult circumstances, God remained in control, and His work in and through Paul hadn’t stopped.

What seemed like a very negative aspect of the apostle’s life—being chained and watched—turned out to be the means God used to deliver the gospel to the entire praetorian guard. Paul’s imprisonment also prompted other believers to boldly proclaim Christ. Some did it out of love while others acted in envy; but in both cases, the goal of spreading the gospel was accomplished.

The same sovereign God who used Paul’s circumstances for His purposes can do so with yours. But like the apostle, you’ll have to trust that the Lord will comfort and strengthen you to endure, and yes, even to rejoice.

Beginning of Creation

“For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.” (Mark 13:19) 

The phrase “from the beginning of the creation” or equivalent occurs at least six times in the New Testament, indicating beyond question that the world was created at a definite beginning-point of time. All other cosmogonies, on the other hand, are evolutionary cosmogonies, which deny a real beginning for the space/time cosmos at all.

What almost seems a redundancy in our text is the phrase “the creation which God created.” Evidently the Lord thought it vital to stress the fact of divine creation, especially as the great last-days “affliction” draws near.

That the “creation” mentioned in this verse refers explicitly to the cosmos is evident from the parallel passage in Matthew 24:21, where the same prophecy is rendered as follows: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time.” Here “world” is actually the Greek kosmos, referring to the ordered universe of heaven and Earth. Thus, according to the Bible, the entire universe (including even time itself) came into existence at the “beginning” when God created it, as recorded in Genesis 1:1.

Note especially the significance of Mark 10:6 in this connection: “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.” Jesus was here quoting from the account of the creation of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:27) and included what seemed an almost incidental confirmation that God created them, not after many billions of years of cosmic evolution, but from the very beginning of creation! Man and woman were not divine afterthoughts, as evolution would imply, but were the very reason why God created the universe in the first place. HMM

Too Many Dead Churches

These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest and art dead.

—Revelation 3:1

I think we are going to have to restudy this whole teaching of the place of the Holy Spirit in the Church, so the Body can operate again. If the life goes out of a man’s body, he is said to be a corpse. He is what they call “the remains.” It is sad, but humorously sad, that a strong, fine man with shining eyes and vibrant voice, a living man, dies, and we say, “the remains” can be seen at a funeral home…. The living man is gone. You have only the body. The body is “the remains.”

So it is in the Church of Christ. It is literally true that some churches are dead. The Holy Spirit has gone out of them and all you have left are “the remains.” You have the potential of the church but you do not have the church, just as you have in a dead man the potential of a living man but you do not have a living man. He can’t talk, he can’t taste, he can’t touch, he can’t feel, he can’t smell, he can’t see, he can’t hear—because he is dead! The soul has gone out of the man, and when the Holy Spirit is not present in the Church, you have to get along after the methods of business or politics or psychology or human effort.   COU112-113

Lord, send Your Holy Spirit in power, that we might not be a dead Church, striving to look alive, pretending to function as though alive, while the life is actually gone. Amen.

 

Lord have called thee in righteousness

I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee.—Isaiah 42:6.

 

Don’t be content with spending all your time on your faults, but try to get a step nearer to God. It is not He who is far away from us, but we from Him. If you ask me the best means to persevere, I would say, if you have succeeded in getting hold of Almighty God’s hand, don’t let it go. Keep hold of Him by constantly renewing ejaculatory prayers to Him, acts of desire, and the seeking to please Him in little things.

Francis Raphael.

 

Strive to be as a little child who, while its holds its hand, goes on fearlessly, and is not disturbed because it stumbles and trips in its weakness. So long as God holds you up by the will and determination to serve Him with which He inspires you, go on boldly and do not be frightened at your little checks and falls, so long as you can throw yourself into His arms in trusting love. Go there with an open, joyful heart as often as possible; if not always joyful, at least go with a brave and faithful heart.

St. Francis De Sales.

 

God Really Can Make You Strong

Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.  2Chron. 15:7

God had done great things for King Asa and Judah, but yet they were a feeble folk. Their feet were very tottering in the ways of the Lord, and their hearts very hesitating, so that they had to be warned that the Lord would be with them while they were with Him, but that if they forsook Him He would leave them. They were also reminded of the sister kingdom, how ill it fared in its rebellion, and how the Lord was gracious to it when repentance was shown. The Lord’s design was to confirm them in His way, and make them strong in righteousness. So ought it to be with us. God deserves to be served with all the energy of which we are capable.

If the service of God is worth anything, it is worth everything. We shall find our best reward in the Lord’s work if we do it with determined diligence. Our labor is not in vain in the Lord, and we know it. Half-hearted work will bring no reward; but, when we throw our whole soul into the cause, we shall see prosperity. This text was sent to the author of these notes in a day of terrible storm, and it suggested to him to put on all steam, with the assurance of reaching port in safety with a glorious