VIDEO Happy Birthday, America! – Stand Alone

This is one of the most eloquent teachings on America, our past and what has been done…I am appalled to hear how many have no idea what July 4th is for…Thank God for men like these who did what they did to preserve our freedom…

NOW LET US ACT LIKE THEM…HIT OUR KNEES AND PRAY FOR GOD TO FORGIVE OUR NATION AND PRESERVE I

In God We Trust

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

In the early days of the American Revolutionary War, an expedition was launched against British forces in Quebec. When the expedition passed through Newburyport, Massachusetts, on the way to Canada, they visited the tomb of the renowned evangelist George Whitefield. Whitefield’s coffin was opened and his clerical collar and cuffs were removed. The clothing was cut in pieces and distributed in the mistaken belief that it could somehow give the soldiers success.

The expedition failed. But what the soldiers did demonstrates our human tendency to trust in something less than a relationship with God—money or human strength or even religious traditions—for our ultimate well-being. God cautioned His people against this when invasion from Assyria threatened, and they sought Pharaoh’s help instead of turning from their sins and turning personally to Him: “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, “No, we will flee on horses.” Therefore you will flee!’ ” (Isaiah 30:15–16).

Their “expedition” failed as well (just as God said it would) and Assyria overwhelmed Judah. But God also told His people, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you.” Even when we have trusted in lesser things, God still holds out His hand to help us return to Him. “Blessed are all who wait for him!” (v. 18).

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

In what other than God are you sometimes tempted to place your trust? How will you rely on Him today?

I trust You, God. Please help me to always rely on You because You’re always faithful!

Sunday Reflection: Our Citizenship

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

On this day, many Americans proudly define themselves by the nation they live in. But as Christians, we know our earthly citizenship has no bearing on our true identity. At the moment of salvation, all believers become citizens of heaven. Civic responsibilities, while important, are always secondary to our allegiance to the Lord. Jesus’ followers are called to seek His kingdom first, regardless of their nationality.

Philippians 3:20 reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven. Being God’s child is our most essential role, and when we prioritize this relationship above all else, we gain an accurate perspective of life, no matter what is happening in our country or the world. Setting our mind on things above (Col. 3:2) helps us remember our true home in God’s kingdom, where we will gather together with “all the tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).

Think about it
• Try to recall a time when you prioritized your national identity over your heavenly identity. What could you have done differently?
• Considering that heaven will be filled with every kind of people group, what does this say about God?

When the Boughs Break

“When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favor.” (Isaiah 27:11)

Like a mighty tree towering over the forest, God raises up a mighty nation from time to time, with a great leader, to accomplish some purpose in the divine plan. He “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26).

But when that nation and its leaders become proud, and its people become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, it becomes like a tree whose branches wither and whose core becomes riddled with insect-caused decay. Finally, the boughs break, the kingdom will fall, and down will come that nation, its leaders and all!

That happened even to God’s chosen nation, Israel, though only for a time, since God’s promises cannot fail. One after another, the mighty nations that God used to chastise His wayward people—Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Rome, etc.—have in turn been judged for their own rebellion against the God who “made them” and “formed them.” God has warned that “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).

Is that about to happen to our beloved USA as well? The signs of self-seeking power and pride among our leaders and moral decay and spiritual rebellion among our people are widespread and growing worse. Our prayer should be that of the ancient prophet. “O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years,…in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2). “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Psalm 85:6). HMM

Three Gospel Snapshots, II

Luke 9:57-62

IN the ninth chapter of his Gospel, Luke relates three incidents from our Lord’s ministry so briefly that we are in danger of passing too quickly over the treasure of truth hidden there. Three characters flash suddenly by; we never hear of them again; the tantalizing brevity of it all leaves us wondering what became of them.

The first of these, much impressed by the Master, declares in a fit of momentary enthusiasm, “I will follow You wherever You go!” Matthew tells us that this man was a scribe, and his offer to follow must have looked very attractive. Until then, only rough fishermen and common working-folk had volunteered; now the prominent were professing! You or I might have seized that proposition before he had finished speaking.

Jesus did not so hastily accept this distinguished convert. He calmly replied, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.” He was saying, “Before you so lightly rush into this adventure of following Me, count the cost. Do you realize that it means surrendering your home comforts, position, reputation, and career as a rabbi to be the despised disciple of a hated ‘fanatic’?”

There it ends. But in a flash it portrays a type all too common: the easily excited, emotional enthusiast, quick-on-the-trigger—a rapid beginner who stalls on the middle mile when reality reveals the actual cost of the thing he has undertaken. The Christian adventure is no romantic excursion for the glib-and-gushing type.

This man was too eager; the next two are not eager enough. The first meets Jesus’ invitation to follow Him with a condition: “First, let me go bury my father.” Whenever a man starts off with “ifs” and “buts,” he has not made a full surrender. Their name is Legion who want to follow Christ but who have not fully let go of something dead they want to bury. Somewhere in their lives there is a carcass of money or lust or cherished evil, or even something not bad in itself (such as this man’s dead father), but which is a millstone that holds them back from absolute dedication. They want to go back, they think, to bury it, but they fall in love with it all over again and never become a disciple.

So Jesus says, “Let the dead bury the dead.” It sounds harsh, but it is the Divine condition. “Give up these dead loves of the old life! If you mean to follow Me, I will have no fondling of these carcasses of earth!” And many a soul has never joined the procession of the redeemed because still he lingers among the graves of this world’s decaying treasures!

The third man merely wishes to tell his family goodbye; surely there is no harm in that! Yet back comes the stern rejoinder: “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” The danger was this: if the man went home to say farewell, his relatives and neighbors would have cooled his ardor—any man who has tried to serve the King in a matter-of-fact environment knows that full well. “Don’t get worked up over this new preacher. This is a fit of fancy and will soon blow over”—thus they would have talked and toned his fiery idealism down to the drab luke-warmness of those average souls who never see the Heavenly Vision.

So, with this plowman figure (v. 62), Jesus said in substance: “If you are going with Me, let us go. But My road is not for those with their feet turned one way and their head another, who ever look back, like Lot’s wife upon Sodom. My kingdom is no place for the man with the backward look!”

Amazing!

Yet He was compassionate; He atoned for their guilt.—Psalm 78:38

If we are to go deeper with God, we need to know how to avail ourselves of God’s grace. Romans 5:17 talks about “those who receive the overflow of grace.” Though God’s grace may be abundant, it is only effective in our lives if it is received. But what do we mean by “grace”?

Grace is spoken of in both the Old and New Testaments, and the root meaning of the word is that of kindness and favor. In the New Testament it is used chiefly in connection with God’s undeserved mercy in redeeming humankind. Grace, as undeserved favor, is a term still used in business—especially the world of insurance. Sometimes a representative of a firm will write to a client and say something like this: “In the circumstances you have no claim, we will give you a certain sum as an act of grace.” They acknowledge no indebtedness, but out of their kindness (and in hope of business to come) they give the client something to which he has no legal right.

A definition of grace I like very much is this: “Grace is the strength God gives us to obey His commands.” Grace is not just a kindly attitude but an impartation of power, too. We can be sure that the people who seem to know God in a much deeper way than we do have received more of that power that God imparts “unmerited and free.” It is by grace that they leap over all the impediments on their onward way. Grace truly is amazing!

Prayer

O God, help me look at the values of earth in the light of heaven. Show me the folly of accumulating riches, the absurdity of heaping together the treasures of earth. May I come to recognize what has the highest value of all—Your matchless grace. Amen.

Further Study

2Co 8:9; 12:9; 2Tm 2:1-10

How did Paul describe grace at work?

What was Paul’s admonition to Timothy?

The Big Question

Matthew 27:22

In many ways the Roman governor Pilate is the most modern figure in the scenes that set the picture of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He just did not want to get involved. Pilate’s dilemma was that he had to make a decision about Jesus—a decision of which he tried to wash his hands. Evasion was the name of the game.

He did not want to make a decision that meant he would not be on the side of the majority. Hence his question, with its contemporary ring, “What shall I do with Jesus?” (Matthew 27:22)

This becomes a challenge facing every one of us. We cannot plead neutrality.

Our personal involvement in the death of Christ was recognized and acknowledged by the great painter Rembrandt in one of his finest paintings, The Three Crosses. It is a very dramatic scene of Calvary, and your attention is first drawn to the poignant figure of Christ hanging on the cross. Then, on the edge of the crowd, you catch sight of a figure almost hidden in the shadows. He is wearing clothes different from the Jewish spectators, clothes of a more modern age. This is the representation of the painter himself, for Rembrandt recognized that his sin had helped nail Jesus Christ upon that cruel cross.

A quite different painting of the crucifixion is that of the twentieth century painter Sutherland. It shows a stark modern cross as an instrument of torture. But there are no spectators. No curious crowd. No people at all. Why? Replied the painter when asked the question, “Because we are all spectators of the death of Christ. We are all involved.”

This awareness is universal, as in the challenge of the Negro spiritual, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

Yes, we are all confronted by the Savior on the cross. We all need to face the question, “What will you do with Jesus?”

The cross was not an incident in Christ’s life, but the very purpose of it, the chosen path of God. St. Paul expresses the truth in utter simplicity: “[He] gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

He hung on the cross for my sin. He took my place, paid my debt, bore my guilt, died the death that I deserved to die, that I might find eternal life. This is the heart of the gospel. This presents you with the crisis of decision-making. What will you do with Jesus?

Eva Burrows, The War Cry