I Believe

May 11, 2020 by Jack Flacco

I believe in one God, the only God, creator of heaven and earth, who made me from the dust of the ground and breathed into me the breath of life. He is the Father.

I believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, the Anointed One, whom the prophets had foretold would die so that I might live; through his sacrifice I no longer have the penalty of sin hanging over my head.

I believe in the resurrection, in that Jesus died on the cross, was buried and after three days and three nights rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father. I draw my hope from knowing I will one day rise also to stand before God justified.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

(1 John 3:16)

I believe the Holy Spirit is the Comforter God pours into His disciples to bring into remembrance all that Christ had said and done. He lives in me, is a member of the Godhead and is always there giving His church the encouragement to move forward in the face of trials and tribulations. Without Him, I am without purpose or direction.

I believe the church is the instrument into which God calls His elect. Through the church, the world has a vision of what the future will look like once God’s government reigns on the earth.

I believe in the elect, whom the prophets had written are those God had purposed from the beginning of the world to reign with God, inheriting all things.

I believe in the Kingdom of God of which the church is now a part, the government of God that will supersede all governments to reign on this earth forever.

I believe the Holy Bible is the infallible Word of God, the book and only book God has inspired, given authority, and is the guide for the church and its calling: to go to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all Jesus had taught.

I believe in miracles.

I Believe

What Happens When Love Flows Like A River? 2/2

May 19, 2020  hephzibahgarden

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans‬ ‭5:5‬

You read that right!! 😇

Those who place their hopes on the Lord will never be put to shame! And because such people continue to be hopeful amidst trials and tribulations, the Lord blesses them by pouring His Love into their hearts through the Anointing of the Holy Spirit! 🙌 With His Love in them, He speaks to them heart to heart!!

It’s not easy to keep being hopeful in the face of adversity and problems! Nevertheless ITS TRUE because, the Scripture is filled with examples of people who placed their hopes and trusted God with their lives; and they were richly blessed!!

Well..!! Now moving onto the second part of what happens when God’s Love flows in us like a river:

4. Love helps to FORBEAR one another — Woah! Let me tell you this — To forbear/forbearing others is not as simple as it sounds!! 🙂 It requires a Lot of Love! You know, since the day we met Christ, He has been forbearing you and me, patiently and gently. You know why?

BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU AND ME, VERY DEARLY!!

Even after sacrificing His life for us, we do commit sins and shortcomings every now and then, and grieve the Lord. But great is His forbearance!! That’s why we are alive and well till this day. Only Love helps us to forbear. With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Ephesians‬ ‭4:2

5. Love helps us to SPEAK THE TRUTH — Speaking the truth can be dangerous at times (in a manner of speaking) because speaking the truth means Doctrine, Reprove, Correction and Instruction. 2 Timothy 3:16. The Word of God speaks the truth, yet, out of Love. God does not want us to perish in our sinful ways. So He sent His Word so that those whoever would believe on Him would not perish but have everlasting life! But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: Ephesians‬ ‭4:15‬.

6. Love helps to be KNIT TOGETHER — The Love between David and Jonathan is a good example of being knit together in Love. David says about Jonathan on the latter’s death — I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been a good friend to me. Your love toward me was more wonderful Than the love of women. 2 Samuel‬ ‭1:26‬ ‭AMP‬.

These two were great friends, more like brothers, who cared for each other deeply. Jonathan was the son of King Saul and David was just a Shepherd boy whose brothers were Saul’s army men. Yet, Love kept them knit together to each other.

7. Love helps us to be OVERCOMERS — When God’s perfect Love is seen in us, no matter what troubles may come, Love will help us overcome. See what St.Paul says here, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans‬ ‭8:35‬.

Those who overcome will get to sit with Christ on the throne. Revelation 3:21. May the Lord help us! ❤️

Original here

VIDEO So Many Statues, So Little Time – Vet Flags

 

by Jerry Newcombe, D.Min.

 

Ronald Reagan once noted, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

There is a frenzy right now of iconoclasm. We are going through a period where so-called “Social Justice Warriors,” are tearing down statues left and right.

It began with heroes of the confederacy, such as Robert E. Lee, but now it has even reached General Lee’s great rival—General Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the Union army.

When does it stop? Where does it stop? So many statues, so little time. Just last week in the state of Oregon, rioters targeted a statue of George Washington, spray-painting the words “Genocidal Colonist.” Then they burned a U.S. flag on the head of the statue, before pulling it down. And they reveled in their supposedly good deed.

No one is sacrosanct. Not even any of those four heads on Mount Rushmore. Statues of each of them are slated for the chopping block. Like Washington, Jefferson statues have to go. He too committed the original sin of slavery.

Lincoln, though he freed the slaves, has had his statues desecrated recently, and the city of Boston wants to tear down a statue of the “Great Emancipator.” Now it’s Teddy Roosevelt’s turn. How did our 26th president violate today’s standards of political correctness?

WCBS radio reports (6/21/20), “The bronze monument—which features Roosevelt on horseback flanked by a Native American man and a Black man—has been at the front entrance of the [American Museum of Natural History in New York] since 1940.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said, “[The museum] has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior…The City supports the Museum’s request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.”

If the issue is slavery, then why would the self-styled revolutionaries tear down the statue of Ulysses S. Grant?

TheHill.com reports (6/20/20), “Protesters in San Francisco on Friday toppled the statue of former President Grant, who led the Union Army during the Civil War, in Golden Gate Park. San Francisco police said that approximately 400 people gathered around 8 p.m. to take down the statue, though no arrests were made.”

They also tore down a statue of Francis Scott Key, who wrote our National Anthem, which today is boycotted by the “woke” culture. And they tore down a statue of Father Junipero Serra, an 18th century Catholic missionary who founded many of the missions in California.

It would appear that the real target of all the rioters and iconoclasts is America as founded. But a nation that does not remember its past does not know its future.

A few years ago, James S. Robbins, Ph.D., a writer for USA Today, wrote the book, Erasing America: Losing Our Future by Destroying Our Past.

Robbins told my radio audience when his book came out, “It’s a broad-based assault on the American story, on the American legacy. And the intention of it, in my opinion, is to wipe the slate clean, so that the progressives can write in the future whatever stories they want—emphasizing the values that they want to bring.”

To target George Washington is in many ways to target America itself. Born into the fourth generation of slaveholders, Washington freed his slaves—albeit at his death; but he freed them nonetheless.

Robbins told me, “I admire George Washington. He was the founder of our country. And yet he had this difficult legacy with slavery, like a lot of the founders and a lot of the people back then. But it’s not everything about them. He was not just a slave-master. He had a lot of other much more important, salient characteristics that we honor him for.”

Recently, I saw a 1950s television program on George Washington, highlighting the sacrifices he and his troops made, particularly in that brutal winter of 1777-1778 in Valley Forge. The man playing Washington noted that he has 12,000 men in rags and they are starving. 500 die every month of disease and deprivation. But they are sacrificing so that this upstart nation could be independent and free.

And now all these generations later, barbarians in the streets are tearing down statues of Washington and others. So many statues, so little time.

There is a battle for the soul of America. We should always remember what Ronald Reagan said—and thankfully, they haven’t torn down his statue…yet. Said the Gipper, “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.”

https://www.djameskennedy.org/article-detail/so-many-statuesso-little-time


Vet Flags

My People Have Done Evil Things

March 18, 2020

Jeremiah has been called to warn the people of Israel. When you read Jeremiah, if you substitute the United States for Israel, you will realize that the Book of Jeremiah is not just historical, but extremely and divinely prophetic. Jeremiah, except for certain verses is rarely taught on today and yet, with the state of the United States as a Nation, we NEED, we MUST take the words of Jeremiah to heart!

Now understand dear readers in posting this, I am looking at this from the standpoint of God’s Creation or even the Nation He has blessed when I refer to the term “People” in the title. God’s true children, born-again, redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ and walking righteously are NOT the ones that these Scriptures are targeting in the modern age because we are under the dispensation of Grace. If His true children ARE being rebellious though, maybe you should rethink your stance on God’s Justness and Mercy, for He is STILL a holy and righteous God!

I’m writing this in the middle of the coronavirus panic that has spread all across the United States and other nations, though in truth, the U.S. has hardly been hit at all. Yet hoarding and binge buying of daily necessities have left many vulnerable and in a state of wonderment; YET, our God, Sovereign and Almighty, Who is ever in control will take care of His righteous children, do not be afraid of or doubt the truth of that!

This Nation which has called on God to bless and prosper them has decided they no longer NEED the blessing or intervention of the Almighty, because after all, we as a Nation have grown wiser in “wisdom.” So they think! God MAY be just sitting back and saying, “Okay, we’ll just see.” All the while letting man’s “wisdom” figure this predicament out. God doesn’t have to judge our Nation for it is evident that wherever you look, to the East, the West, the North or South, mankind’s minds have turned in on themselves in panic and the panic is much worse than the actual flu virus, no matter how severe it is. Also, I can just about guarantee you, the politicians who have turned from God unto corruption are trying to figure how to use this to their advantage! They are bringing judgement upon themselves, as most often happens, without God’s help in the least!

“For my people (those who call upon my name as a nation) have done two evil things: They have abandoned Me, the very Fountain of Living Water. And they have dug cracked cisterns (wells of human wisdom) that can hold NO water at all, living or otherwise!” This was stated centuries ago to the rebellious children of Israel. Yet human nature just seems to persist and this is prophetic to what is happening in this very situation we are in right now!

It will be interesting to see what the next few weeks have in store for the world and for the U.S. God’s true children, renewed spiritually and anointed by the abiding Holy Spirit need to continue to pray for one another and those lost and blinded!

 

Original here

Finding Your Way in the Evangelical Fog

by Cameron Buettel Monday, March 9, 2020

The following blog post was originally published on August 10, 2015. —ed.

I grew up in a remote Australian community. Our relative isolation meant there was a noticeable delay in the arrival of big-city trends, technology, and television. But it wasn’t all bad—the upside of our perceived backward lives was that the erosion of values and views moved more slowly in our little corner of the world than it did in the cosmopolitan cities.

But those days are long gone, even in the outback of Australia. We now live in an age of instant information and awareness. The Internet has demolished many of the geographical and cultural barriers that used to restrain the spread of changing trends.

Today, information technology is a powerful tool to apply immediate pressure to our thinking and beliefs. Our culture is shaped by those who are most persistent and aggressive in bombarding us with their worldview. And vocal minorities cloud the truth as they steer societal change.

Armed with a robust Christian worldview, evangelicals should be the best equipped to confront those challenges. Instead evangelicalism belies its commitment to Scripture as it wanders in a fog of spiritual opinions that lack biblical convictions.  John MacArthur rightly highlights the problems in his book The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception: “Far from being a strong voice and a powerful force for the cause of truth, the evangelical movement itself has become the main battleground.”[1]

The marketplace of evangelical ideas is now overrun with diverse and competing agendas. Even the most seasoned believers can struggle to navigate it. Making matters worse, there are now many evangelical voices spreading dangerous error mixed with a dose of biblical truth. Many believers have been lulled into a false sense of security under once-orthodox preachers and teachers who have veered away from true, biblical north.

John MacArthur doesn’t hold back in his assessment of the situation:

I am convinced that the greatest danger facing Christians today has infiltrated the church already. Countless false teachers already have prominent platforms in the evangelical movement; evangelicals themselves are loath to practice discernment or question or challenge anything taught within their movement; and many leading evangelicals have concluded no doctrine or point of theology is worth earnestly contending for. The evangelicalism movement as we speak of it today is already doomed.[2]

Those false teachers contribute to the problem every time they enter the pulpit. The sermon content in many popular churches leaves congregations at the mercy of prowling wolves:

Bible teaching, even in the best of venues today, has been deliberately dumbed-down, made as broad and as shallow as possible, oversimplified, adapted to the lowest common denominator—and then tailored to appeal to people with short attention spans. Sermons are almost always brief, simplistic, overlaid with as many references to pop culture as possible, and laden with anecdotes and illustrations. (Jokes and funny stories drawn from personal experience are favored over cross-references and analogies borrowed from Scripture itself.) Typical sermon topics are heavily weighted in favor of man-centered issues (such as personal relationships, successful living, self-esteem, how-to lists, and so on)—to the exclusion of the many Christ-exalting doctrinal themes of Scripture.[3]

MacArthur’s sober commentary on the decline into evangelical ignorance also implies the solution. If the abandonment of biblical fidelity has plunged Christians into biblical ignorance, then the embrace of Scripture’s authority and sufficiency will result in the ascent out of that dark pit.

Paul and Silas saw that high view of Scripture exemplified and applied in the church at Berea:

Now these [the Bereans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed. (Acts 17:11–12)

The Berean believers were commended as “more noble minded” than the Thessalonian Christians. They didn’t gullibly swallow what Paul and Silas preached, nor were they swayed by the prevailing winds of their culture. Scripture, carefully studied, was their sole barometer—and it should be ours too. Next time we’ll take a closer look at who those noble Bereans were.

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B150810

What Happens When Love Flows Like A River? 1/2

May 18, 2020 hephzibahgarden

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans‬ ‭5:5‬

The baptism of the Holy Spirit or in other words, the anointing of the Holy Spirit is — God’s Love being poured forth into our hearts by the Spirit of God Himself. Jesus made an open call to the people gathered on the last day of the feast saying, He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John‬ ‭7:38‬. This He said referring to receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Well then..!! What happens when God’s love flows in us:

1. Love EDIFIES — Anything we do, one thing we need to always make sure is that we don’t offend a brother/sister through our deeds and words. For example, St.Paul explains to the Corinthian church that they should not eat food offered to idols. Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. 1 Corinthians‬ ‭8:1‬.

Now, for an old believer this particular knowledge/revelation could bring about spiritual pride and make him arrogant before a weak brother, which is sinful. However, one thing that can be done here is to take aside the new believer and explain to him in love about why we shouldn’t have food offered before idols. Because in the end, Christ died for this weak brother as well and he shouldn’t be offended.

2. Love helps us WORK BY FAITH — In fact, faith comes from Love. It is one of the fruit of the Spirit as well. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galatians‬ ‭5:6‬. For examplewhen it came about offering Isaac as a sacrifice, Abraham knew that the God whom he loved and revered would definitely open a way for him.

Unflinchingly, Abraham went ahead in obedience to God’s command. Yes, it was a test of Faith for Abraham and God did prove Himself to be Jehovah-Jireh. Genesis 22:14.

3. Love helps us SERVE one another — Only Love can help us serve another. Jesus loved us; therefore He took upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7. He came down to serve us.

Another beautiful example of serving one another out of love was found among the apostles and believers during the 1st Century A.D. After the day of Pentecost we see a great unity of Love and togetherness among the 120. They served each other out of love; were ready to share their things and space with each other and those in need. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. Acts‬ ‭2:44-45‬.

(.. to be continued)

Original here

What Calvin Coolidge Said On The Declaration of Independence’s 150th Anniversary

To honor the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge gave a stirring speech on the values of faith and freedom that rings like a bell today.

What Calvin Coolidge Said On The Declaration of Independence’s 150th Anniversary

July 4,2020

The following speech commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence was delivered on July 5, 1926, by Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States. It has been abridged from the original.

_______________________

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We meet to celebrate the birthday of America. … Whatever may have been the impression created by the news which went out from this city on that summer day in 1776, there can be no doubt as to the estimate which is now placed upon it. At the end of 150 years, the four corners of the earth unite in coming to Philadelphia as to a holy shrine in grateful acknowledgment of a service so great, which a few inspired men here rendered to humanity, that it is still the preeminent support of free government throughout the world.

Although a century and a half measured in comparison with the length of human experience is but a short time yet measured in the life of governments and nations it ranks as a very respectable period. Certainly, enough time has elapsed to demonstrate with a great deal of thoroughness the value of our institutions and their dependability as rules for the regulation of human conduct and the advancement of civilization. They have been in existence long enough to become very well-seasoned. They have met, and met successfully, the test of experience.

It is not so much, then, for the purpose of undertaking to proclaim new theories and principles that this annual celebration is maintained, but rather to reaffirm and reestablish those old theories and principles which time and the unerring logic of events have demonstrated to be sound. Amid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics, every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with the assurance and confidence that those two great charters of freedom and justice remain firm and unshaken. Whatever perils appear, whatever dangers threaten, the Nation remains secure in the knowledge that the ultimate application of the law of the land will provide an adequate defense and protection.

Man everywhere has an unconquerable desire to be the master of his own destiny.

… It is not here necessary to examine in detail the causes which led to the American Revolution. In their immediate occasion, they were largely economic. The colonists objected to the navigation laws which interfered with their trade, they denied the power of Parliament to impose taxes which they were obliged to pay, and they, therefore, resisted the royal governors and the royal forces which were sent to secure obedience to these laws. But the conviction is inescapable that a new civilization had come, a new spirit had arisen on this side of the Atlantic more advanced and more developed in its regard for the rights of the individual than that which characterized the Old World. Life in a new and open country had aspirations which could not be realized in any subordinate position. A separate establishment was ultimately inevitable. It had been decreed by the very laws of human nature. Man everywhere has an unconquerable desire to be the master of his own destiny.

We are obliged to conclude that the Declaration of Independence represented the movement of a people. It was not, of course, a movement from the top. Revolutions do not come from that direction. It was not without the support of many of the most respectable people in the Colonies, who were entitled to all the consideration that is given to breeding, education, and possessions. It had the support of another element of great significance and importance to which I shall later refer. But the preponderance of all those who occupied a position which took on the aspect of aristocracy did not approve of the Revolution and held toward it an attitude either of neutrality or open hostility.

The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty-loving, God-fearing people…

It was in no sense a rising of the oppressed and downtrodden. It brought no scum to the surface, for the reason that colonial society had developed no scum. The great body of the people were accustomed to privations, but they were free from depravity. If they had poverty, it was not of the hopeless kind that afflicts great cities, but the inspiring kind that marks the spirit of the pioneer. The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty-loving, God-fearing people who knew their rights and possessed the courage to dare to maintain them.

The Continental Congress was not only composed of great men, but it represented a great people. While its Members did not fail to exercise a remarkable leadership, they were equally observant of their representative capacity. They were industrious in encouraging their constituents to instruct them to support independence. But until such instructions were given, they were inclined to withhold action.

… the Declaration of Independence was the result of the seasoned and deliberate thought of the dominant portion of the people of the Colonies. Adopted after long discussion and as the result of the duly authorized expression of the preponderance of public opinion, it did not partake of dark intrigue or hidden conspiracy. It was well advised. It had about it nothing of the lawless and disordered nature of a riotous insurrection. It was maintained on a plane which rises above the ordinary conception of rebellion. It was in no sense a radical movement but took on the dignity of a resistance to illegal usurpations. It was conservative and represented the action of the colonists to maintain their constitutional rights which from time immemorial had been guaranteed to them under the law of the land.

When we come to examine the action of the Continental Congress in adopting the Declaration of Independence in the light of what was set out in that great document and in the light of succeeding events, we cannot escape the conclusion that it had a much broader and deeper significance than a mere secession of territory and the establishment of a new nation …

Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced.

It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.

If no one is to be accounted as born into a superior station, if there is to be no ruling class, and if all possess rights which can neither be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed. While these principles were not altogether new in political action and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination. But remarkable as this may be, it is not the chief distinction of the Declaration of Independence. The importance of political speculation is not to be underestimated, as I shall presently disclose. Until the idea is developed and the plan made there can be no action.

It was the fact that our Declaration of Independence containing these immortal truths was the political action of a duly authorized and constituted representative public body in its sovereign capacity, supported by the force of general opinion and by the armies of Washington already in the field, which makes it the most important civil document in the world. It was not only the principles declared, but the fact that therewith a new nation was born which was to be founded upon those principles and which from that time forth in its development has actually maintained those principles, that makes this pronouncement an incomparable event in the history of government. It was an assertion that a people had arisen determined to make every necessary sacrifice for the support of these truths and by their practical application bring the War of Independence to a successful conclusion and adopt the Constitution of the United States with all that it has meant to civilization.

It was profoundly revolutionary. It is one of the cornerstones of American institutions.

The idea that the people have a right to choose their own rulers was not new in political history. It was the foundation of every popular attempt to depose an undesirable king. This right was set out with a good deal of detail by the Dutch when as early as July 26, 1581, they declared their independence of Philip of Spain. In their long struggle with the Stuarts, the British people asserted the same principles, which finally culminated in the Bill of Rights deposing the last of that house and placing William and Mary on the throne. In each of these cases, sovereignty through divine right was displaced by sovereignty through the consent of the people. Running through the same documents, though expressed in different terms, is the clear inference of inalienable rights. But we should search these charters in vain for an assertion of the doctrine of equality. This principle had not before appeared as an official political declaration of any nation. It was profoundly revolutionary. It is one of the cornerstones of American institutions.

But if these truths to which the Declaration refers have not before been adopted in their combined entirety by national authority, it is a fact that they had been long pondered and often expressed in political speculation. … A very positive echo of what the Dutch had done in 1581, and what the English were preparing to do, appears in the assertion of the Rev. Thomas Hooker, of Connecticut, as early as 1638, when he said in a sermon before the General Court that —

“The foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people.”

“The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God’s own allowance.”

Thomas Jefferson … acknowledged that his “best ideas of democracy” had been secured at church meetings.

This doctrine found wide acceptance among the nonconformist clergy who later made up the Congregational Church. … While the written word was the foundation, it is apparent that the spoken word was the vehicle for convincing the people. … It was carried on with a missionary spirit which did not fail to reach the Scotch-Irish of North Carolina, showing its influence by significantly making that Colony the first to give instructions to its delegates looking to independence. This preaching reached the neighborhood of Thomas Jefferson, who acknowledged that his “best ideas of democracy” had been secured at church meetings.

… When we take all these circumstances into consideration, it is but natural that the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence should open with a reference to Nature’s God and should close in the final paragraphs with an appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world and an assertion of a firm reliance on Divine Providence. Coming from these sources, having as it did this background, it is no wonder that Samuel Adams could say “The people seem to recognize this resolution as though it were a decree promulgated from heaven.”

They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.

No one can examine this record and escape the conclusion that in the great outline of its principles the Declaration was the result of the religious teachings of the preceding period. The profound philosophy which Jonathan Edwards applied to theology, the popular preaching of George Whitefield, had aroused the thought and stirred the people of the Colonies in preparation for this great event. No doubt the speculations which had been going on in England, and especially on the Continent, lent their influence to the general sentiment of the times.

Of course, the world is always influenced by all the experience and all the thought of the past. But when we come to a contemplation of the immediate conception of the principles of human relationship which went into the Declaration of Independence, we are not required to extend our search beyond our own shores. They are found in the texts, the sermons, and the writings of the early colonial clergy who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live. They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the divine image, all partakers of the divine spirit.

Placing every man on a plane where he acknowledged no superiors, where no one possessed any right to rule over him, he must inevitably choose his own rulers through a system of self-government. This was their theory of democracy. In those days such doctrines would scarcely have been permitted to flourish and spread in any other country. This was the purpose which the fathers cherished. In order that they might have freedom to express these thoughts and opportunity to put them into action, whole congregations with their pastors had migrated to the Colonies. These great truths were in the air that our people breathed. Whatever else we may say of it, the Declaration of Independence was profoundly American.

Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish.

If this apprehension of the facts be correct, and the documentary evidence would appear to verify it, then certain conclusions are bound to follow. A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features, the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man — these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.

We are too prone to overlook another conclusion. Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course, the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be the better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people. The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.

About the Declaration, there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great charter.

If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction cannot lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

The rights of the individual are held sacred and protected by constitutional guaranties, which even the Government itself is bound not to violate.

In the development of its institutions, America can fairly claim that it has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago. In all the essentials we have achieved an equality which was never possessed by any other people. Even in the less important matter of material possessions, we have secured a wider and wider distribution of wealth. The rights of the individual are held sacred and protected by constitutional guaranties, which even the Government itself is bound not to violate. If there is any one thing among us that is established beyond question, it is self-government — the right of the people to rule. If there is any failure in respect to any of these principles, it is because there is a failure on the part of individuals to observe them. We hold that the duly authorized expression of the will of the people has a divine sanction. But even in that, we come back to the theory of John Wise that “Democracy is Christ’s government.” The ultimate sanction of law rests on the righteous authority of the Almighty.

On an occasion like this a great temptation exists to present evidence of the practical success of our form of democratic republic at home and the ever-broadening acceptance it is securing abroad. Although these things are well known, their frequent consideration is an encouragement and an inspiration. But it is not results and effects so much as sources and causes that I believe it is even more necessary constantly to contemplate. Ours is a government of the people. It represents their will. Its officers may sometimes go astray, but that is not a reason for criticizing the principles of our institutions. The real heart of the American Government depends upon the heart of the people. It is from that source that we must look for all genuine reform. It is to that cause that we must ascribe all our results.

It was in the contemplation of these truths that the fathers made their declaration and adopted their Constitution. It was to establish a free government, which must not be permitted to degenerate into the unrestrained authority of a mere majority or the unbridled weight of a mere influential few. They undertook the balance these interests against each other and provide the three separate independent branches, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial departments of the Government, with checks against each other in order that neither one might encroach upon the other. These are our guarantees of liberty. As a result of these methods, enterprise has been duly protected from confiscation, the people have been free from oppression, and there has been an ever-broadening and deepening of the humanities of life.

There is far more danger of harm than there is hope of good in any radical changes.

Under a system of popular government, there will always be those who will seek for political preferment by clamoring for reform. While there is very little of this which is not sincere, there is a large portion that is not well informed. In my opinion, very little of just criticism can attach to the theories and principles of our institutions. There is far more danger of harm than there is hope of good in any radical changes. We do need a better understanding and comprehension of them and a better knowledge of the foundations of government in general.

Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions, we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meetinghouse. They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence, they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/07/04/what-calvin-coolidge-said-on-the-declaration-of-independences-150th-anniversary/

At The Feet of Jesus

April 28, 2017 by Joe Rodriguez

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  -Luke 10:38-42

Located on the highest cliff of Ona, a tiny island in Norway, you’ll find this beautiful ruby red beacon known as the Ona Lighthouse. Built in 1867, it stands 48 ft. tall and overlooks a small village of no more than 25-30 inhabitants. At the foot of this tower, you’ll find a cluster of brightly colored wooden houses that help create an indisputable peaceful scene.

When I contemplate the serenity depicted in this image it almost seems as if the houses are gathered attentively around the lighthouse waiting for its light to shine; the light that will reassure them that they will be kept safe from the dangers of misguided nocturnal sea vessels. Then, I am instantly reminded of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus.

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Like Martha, we have all experienced the pressures of life’s daily cares. School, work, church, family, they all demand time and attention; sometimes simultaneously!1 If there are no book reports due or projects to complete there are always household chores to do and baseball practices to attend. There’s no doubt that these responsibilities, among others, constitute an important part of our lives. However, they can become detrimental to our overall well-being if we allow them to overwhelm us and overshadow the more important things like spiritual, physical, and even relational disciplines. But the truth is that most of us already know this. We have been convicted of it many times before. We’ve felt guilty about it and we’ve told ourselves that it’s time to make a change, but unconsciously we get sucked back into the routine of meeting deadlines, succumbing to our OCDs, and thinking that the world will collapse if we stop, even if just for a moment, to sit down and catch our breath.

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But like Mary, we all need to take a break and sit at the feet of Jesus every now and then. No, I don’t mean sitting in a church pew, or even behind a computer or phone screen scrolling through inspirational quotes and devotions. I’m not even referring to a routine devotional time. Even when doing these things we sometimes miss what God is trying to tell us because we are either on a tight schedule, checking off our spiritual To-Do list, or just going through the motions. What I mean is that we have to TAKE time (stop one thing to do another) and not MAKE time (arrange a schedule to accommodate a task). Time to…

  1. Wholeheartedly immerse ourselves in Him and His word [Read Escaping Not “From” But “Into“].
  2. Intentionally contemplate and appreciate His handiwork (the earth, the heavens, and the intricacies of the human body) [Read Fearfully and Wonderfully Designed].
  3. Deeply reflect on how the stripes that were on His body have completely healed us from the ill-effects of sin.2 This particular one should be exercised more regularly than just once a year during the “holy week.”
  4. Quietly listen to his voice by giving Him our undivided attention. This may be somewhat difficult, especially if we are used to just pouring our hearts out. But the truth is that many times being still can actually accomplish more in terms of receiving peace and assurance.

This doesn’t mean that we carelessly ignore our responsibilities as Martha thought Mary was doing. There has to be a balance between work and leisure in order for us to be effective and productive as Christians and as citizens in general. The key to achieving this balance is discerning (like Mary) when it’s time to pursue what is better. In other words, we should know when it’s time to put the book down, take our hand off the mouse, stop scrolling, or stop sweeping and take care of what is more important. Maybe it’s time to redo our priority list.

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To manage life properly we need order, direction, encouragement, and support. God provides all of these things through His word, sermons, songs, godly counsel and even through blogs like this one. But He also provides them through the gentle whisper of an undisturbed quiet time at the feet of Jesus.

There are two other interesting facts about Ona that serve as an excellent Gospel analogy. This relatively small island has been populated for centuries because of its proximity to the fishing expanse that is close to the Atlantic Ocean. For this reason, fishing has traditionally been the only source of income for its inhabitants. However, the island has recently attracted a few pottery makers as well.

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This reminds me that at the feet of Jesus, we can also find the motivation and passion we need to become effective fishers of men.3 Every heartbeat of our Savior has a name; the name of every soul that is yet to be saved. If we listen closely we’ll hear their cry and be encouraged to reach out to them with the Gospel.

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At the feet of the Master Potter, 4 we are also taught how to help mold the clay (lives) He has placed on the wheel (earth). We accomplish this by growing spiritually and, in turn, helping others become fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.5

After writing this devotion I have been convicted to stop and spend some time at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He’s been trying to tell me. How about you?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, there is no other place I rather be than at your feet. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of life quicken me to stop and listen to what you have to say. Thank you for the privilege of being able to be in your presence and listen to your heartbeat; the heartbeat for a lost and dying world to which you have called me to shine the light of your Gospel. I pray this in your precious name, Amen. 

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES
1- “…but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”  – Mark 4:19
2- “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5
3- “And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19 (ESV)
4- “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand..” – Isaiah 64:8
5- “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.” -Matthew 28:19-20
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

At The Feet of Jesus

Battle Ready

 

When we live our life under the proclamation of Christ in order to pursue the path that God has laid before us and to make persistent efforts to no longer stray carelessly into our own meanderings, we conscript ourselves into the ranks of the righteous. The same ranks as the heavenly hosts and legions of God. This proclamation is our assertion that we have not only discerned that there is a battle being waged but that we have chosen a side!

As I was told upon my baptism, we have now proclaimed that we are in the great battle and on the side of God. That we are now likely to face the enemies of God in whatever form they may take and with that, to take heart in the Lord and do not fear because; though we are in battle, the outcome is already determined and we have already won!

Having the salvation of Christ explained in this way should illicit a few responses from an individual who’s heart is changing or has changed for the Lord. It should be utterly exciting and fulfilling to have this knowledge. But it should also be quite scary to discern the scope of what your proclamation is actually saying. You’re saying “Bring it on!!”. You are signing up to go to the front lines. Sure, salvation in Christ is real and complete as soon as your heart invites Him but, once He is in there, he begins to deconstruct the place and rebuild that home into what it was meant to be. This process of rebuilding will have you walking through your life differently than you did before. It can often lead you to unimaginable seasons in your life that only God could provide for and that only faith can move you into. These steps into the unknown; this treading into deeper waters; this planting of roots near living waters; this pruning of the tree to bare spiritual fruit; this washing away of the old is a part of these front lines that we are to face in our service to the Lord.

But take heart in knowing that, in the Lord, we have a number of things that He has provided in order to guide and protect us. We have been given a shield, armor, a weapon and a mission. It is all lined out for us and becomes increasingly clearer as our hearts transform in rebirth.

We are shielded by our faith. It is a shield that has no limit to its strength and yet, can sometimes be broken by our own thoughts. It is an impenetrable protection for us if only we allow it to be. Our faith is the thing that can stand against anything and not take a scratch when it is wielded and trusted with our lives.

Our armor is the word of God. This is the Holy Bible. This is the book that teaches us how to protect the specific things in our lives and how to keep this new heart safe. This armor is as strong as we make it. It is as specifically tailored to each of us as we take the time to allow it to be. When we need to protect our bodies, our hearts, our minds, the armor that we must bare is the word of God and that is done through taking the time to know him and discern the way it lives and breathes for you. You must let the word flow through you and flow out of you. You must be a vessel and by doing this, you armor your whole being with protection unlike anything else.

Our weapon is our testimonies. Not just a testimony but all of them. All of the ways you have seen the Lord move. All of the old ways that you have been rescued from. Who you were, who you’ve become, who you’re becoming are all parts of the alloy that make up the metal that is your weapon. You see? Not one thing in this world can refute your experience with God.

They can refute scripture and the Bible. They can refute your understanding of the Bible and it’s meanings. They can not refute your personal experiences. They can not disprove your experience of God and how you have seen him move. In order to wield this weapon, we must embrace that we no longer have shame in who we were. We must embrace humility in our past. We must embrace accountability and fellowship in ourselves to strengthen the arms in which we wield our weapon. All of this must be embraced so that you can stand firm, without shame and share your testimonies with boldness. Each time you do, you are striking your weapon. Your discernment allows you to learn when and where to strike, how deep to cut, how hard to hit, or how gentle to be. This weapon can be unstoppable and unbreakable!

So with all of these, we are armed to the teeth and will be quite a force standing in the ranks of God’s army! So what is the mission then? The mission is not to defeat the enemy because, the word tells us that it is already done. Our mission is to go and make disciples for Christ and the way that we do that is by living our lives within this world fully suited up and prepared for battle. But know this, our two greatest laws are still what they have been since Christ. Love the Lord God with all of your heart, mind, and soul and; love your neighbor as yourself.

I want you to see the picture I am painting with these explanations because it is vital to drive the next points home. And though some of these may be difficult to face, acknowledging our shortcomings and facing them head on is how the Lord is able to act as our blacksmith for the sword, shield, and, armor we have.

You see, we face our enemy in this life and though that term is often misused and is a scapegoat for many of our own shortcomings; let’s not forget that, according to the word, an entire third of the hosts and legions over this world and the heavens fell with Lucifer. Do not mistake this enemy for stereotypical demons with red flaming pitchforks. These enemies are spirits and angels created by God and are those who sided with Lucifer in deciding that their own efforts deserved liberty, praise, and glory in place of the praise and glory that belonged to God. This should help to create the view of just how cunning and deceptive our foes can be. They are not mindless little minions that are usually depicted and inflamed in stories. They are much more than that and you have just stepped up to the front lines to face them in the name of God!

Though this battle is a universal one and we have conscripted ourselves in the name of God, our role is not to wage any war that we could relate to human warfare. Our role is to stand firm and bring as many other humans into our ranks as possible. Remember, the battle being waged is already won!

But think of yourselves as rescue lines, medics, lifelines, or any other role that is responsible for making sure that your army does not leave anyone behind. You are to go into the battlefield, see your brothers and sisters and keep them safe as you help them to suit up. Bring them back to the Lord!

At the risk of being long-winded here, I think I have painted the picture I need you to see before I can start to explain the nature of what needs to be said.

You have claimed your salvation, you have suited up with the shield, armor, and weapons of the Lord and you know what your mission is. You even know that you have already won! So…

Why are you acting in defense against your enemy? Why are you not boldly and vigilantly acting in offense? Why is it that we are so quick to pass off the cracks in our armor as an attack from this enemy to whom we have already defeated? It is absurd to hear how we are being attacked and being lead astray in this life when the reality is that our enemy doesn’t even stand a chance against us when we know our place.

I mentioned earlier that we need to allow God to be our Blacksmith. To be the one who reforges, strengthens, and repairs the damage and cracks in our armor, our shield, and who can sharpen our blades. You see? Living in this world for Christ will ALWAYS result in your suit of armor gaining damage. If not for our pride and arrogance, this would be of no concern because, we would have no issue in bringing it to God and allowing him to repair and strengthen it.

Let’s take a simple example and run with it a little bit. Let’s say that a man named Thacker came to Christ, committed his life to Him and suited up as his heart was transformed and began to walk into the front lines. Let’s say that Thacker was previously unfaithful to his wife and has since repented to her and to God, and has become a new man all in the name of Christ! It should be very easy to understand why Thacker would not want to share the details of who he was before because as a new man, he would find that his old self was behaving in a way that is now humiliating and embarrassing. He would fairly think that sharing those parts of himself with others would make him less credible to them and maybe he would seem like a hypocrite for his past. Because of this, Thacker only shares that he was lost in the depths of darkness and perversions and that Christ saved him. He would read the Bible and know how it empowers him through the world and he would establish his Faith in God to be his shield.

At first glance, Thacker would appear to be much like all other Christians and could approach those front lines. But, he would soon begin to find trouble because, as he engaged in battle by sharing a vague testimony that spares him embarrassing and humiliating potentials, he is not well heard and in this analogy, his sword would not be very sharp. Because his sword is not sharp, he reaches out to protect and find souls for God and they are seeming to slip from his grasp. There is something that is failing to connect him to his brothers and sisters on a personal level. This alone can begin to skew his understanding of the mission and his role. This can add complications to loving your neighbor as yourself when they do not appear to want to engage. But no bother, Thacker is still protected and wielding his shield. So, he carries on.

Continuing in the front lines in reality looks like Thacker being in the world. Being among his brothers and sisters who are lost and coming along side them to share his story and the love of Christ. But being in the world comes with risks of being corrupted or deceived if not well guarded. In this case, Thacker is guarded but, his past is still his. It hasn’t been released. As a sort of side effect to this, Thacker has not illuminated the parts of himself that lead him to those acts in the first place. Thacker is a new Man in Christ but, he has not let go of the shame and guilt that is responsible for keeping his story so vague to strangers and preventing him from really relating to and reaching those in a similar path. With that; Thacker finds himself in the world among other women who he considers beautiful. No big deal…

But Thacker, who hasn’t released himself, now has no one to go to in order to help him when he realizes that his glances have become stares and that his mind has begun wondering at the sight of a beautiful woman. Since he hasn’t shared or been open about his past, he is afraid to admit that he may be struggling. This is the first crack in the breast plate of his armor. At this point, releasing this all to God would result in God relieving Thacker of the burden of shame and guilt and in turn, strengthen his armor and sharpen his weapon. But instead, Thacker refuses to acknowledge that he has taken a hit. He refuses to check his armor and just assumes that the armor of God is as impenetrable as intended. So Thacker marches on with damaged armor and a dull blade. He continues to battle at the front lines and all the while, does not realize the crack in his armor has become a vulnerability and that his weapon is hardly piercing the skin of the enemy. His testimony is not reaching people as he expected, his righteousness has started to shift into self-righteousness and his pride has prevented him from seeing the damage he has taken. All of this in reality looks like a man with wondering eyes, proclaiming the name of Jesus and evangelizing but not sharing his own experience of his past and how God recreated him. He is unable to find confidence in fellowship that would help remove the scales from his eyes.

So, Thacker walks along the front lines unaware of his state of being when suddenly, a real and immediate attack comes in and lands a blow right where the crack in his armor is. It staggers him and as a result, his shield drops…

Thacker now has a significant wound and appears to be unarmed and unshielded. In reality, perhaps Thomas was able to be seduced by another woman and was unable to fight the temptation.

-I do not want to portray this as Thacker having permanently lost anything. Regardless of the circumstance and our life, all of us will find ourselves in a similar situation as Thacker but with various different sources of the cracks and dull blades. I use this example to highlight the process of how we tend to behave as human beings who still hold onto our pride and try to avoid humility and how we can be unaware of the detriment it is actually causing.-

Thacker is now left prone in battle and may feel hopeless or even unworthy to fight because of all this. It may be his own will, Gods will, or another brother in Christ who comes to him and says “Get up! Do not just settle to be prone and broken! You are chosen for this battle and though you have fallen, you only need to give it all over to God to be restored” this appeal empowers Thacker to get up and take himself to the feet of our Lord and cry out for His mercy. Because God is endless mercy, Thacker is able to be fully restored to fight again.

But let’s consider this: Thacker appealed for mercy at the feet of the lord with a severe flesh wound, broken armor, dull weapon, and a lost shield all caused by our enemy. Let us take a moment to praise God for the restoration he can give in this situation!

But, let’s also dissect this a little bit. Did Thacker suffer an attack from the enemy? Yes he did. Did it stagger him and lead to his disabling for a time? Yes.

Did it need to? No, it did not. You see, had Thacker ensured his weapon was sharpened and refined, he would have been enabled to fully and boldly share his testimony. With sharing the embarrassing or humiliating details, he may have received a small bit of unrighteous judgement but he would have also found fellowship with others who can walk with him. He would have been able to establish or join a sort of militia in his testimony and thus, have levels of accountability that could help him monitor his status. Then, once a crack was apparent, he would have had no shame in admitting that his eyes may be wondering, he would be encouraged to take it to God and have that crack repaired and it would have eliminated the vulnerability that later enabled him to be wounded.

Even if he had not sharpened his weapon, having humility to admit when he was stumbling could have led him to give the armor over to God and have it repaired before the vulnerability arose. Any way he could have chosen to give it over to God, He would have been there to act as blacksmith, healer, tailor, and comforter. Just as he did when Thacker finally did bring to Him.

Without the pride of himself and shame of his past, Thacker very likely would have endured the later attack and would not have been vulnerable. It very well could have been an attack that he shielded and never even became aware of the detriment he avoided. Consider that often, the small attacks we face can result in a staggering blow if we are not well suited for battle.

You see, often times, the attacks that hurt us are not because they are substantially strong or even detrimental but rather, they are focused and precisely honed into our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. So, when we do not acknowledge our faults or shortcomings in our faith and our walk, we stride with vulnerabilities and when attacks come, they seem to be abnormally strong. The result is that we continuously live in a defensive state about our faith and our life and we give power and credit to an enemy who is not even a worthy foe when we are properly tending to our protection in the Lord.

Here is the rebuke.
Stop living in a defensive state. Take care to tend to the sharpness of your weapon and the integrity of your armor. Do not let your pride walk you into battle with faulty armor because when you do, you will be struck in that blind weakness. Instead, be bold about who your are! Be bold about who you’ve become and glorify God for it! Do not let shame and pride dull your blade! Do not let your arrogance allow you to ignore the cracks in your armor and instead, take it all to God at the slightest sign or wear or damage. Take a position of offense and be diligent in your purpose!

But do not take this position of offense to mean that you are to be in offense to your brothers and sisters. Remember that you are to seek them in the name of the Lord and bring them to Christ. Rather, your offensive battle stance should be a paragon of our Lord and Savior and it should be a shining beacon to any who would come against you and therefore come against the Lord. But for any who wage this battle against those who have fallen, know this; your heart is the fulcrum of this whole situation. You must allow your heart to be rebuilt in Christ!

This new heart creates a new man and that is why you should have no shame and therefore not stray from humility! Your testimony in who you were before is a story of a man who is no longer with us. It is no longer relevant whether or not that man’s past is embarrassing or shameful because you have been forgiven and reborn as a new creation. So embrace that! Allow it to equip you in the manner in which the Lord has ordained for you! Know your worth, know whose you are, keep your shield fixed, bare your armor and wield your weapon because you are on the side of a battle won!

That doesn’t mean you cannot be hurt and that you cannot defect yourself or be defected through trial and turmoil.

Because of this truth, you must be ever Battle Ready!

Jonathan Olsen
Guest Discerning Dad

For more on what Jonathan is doing with his ministry Kingdom Lives, click the links and follow them on Facebook and Instagram along with their podcast

For more on Discerning Dad click HERE

Discerning Dad was also nominated as the top 30 Christian Men’s Blogs to follow in 2020 at #8.  Click HERE for the article.

Guest- Jonathan Olsen- Battle Ready

Hearing God Speak, Part 2

May 8, 2020 by Kerry Shook

 

“So the LORD called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. ‘Here I am. Did you call me?’ Then Eli realized it was the LORD who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, LORD, your servant is listening.’ So Samuel went back to bed.” 1 Samuel 3:8-9 (NLT2)

Samuel was just a boy when he first heard it. He was lying in bed. Three times the whisper of God called his name, “Samuel, Samuel …” He thought it was his mentor, the Priest Eli, who was calling him. So clear was the call that each time he rose from bed and went to Eli. It was only after the third time that Eli realized it must be the Lord. He sent young Samuel back to his room with these instructions, “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, ready to listen.’ Samuel returned to his bed. Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak. I’m your servant, ready to listen.’” 1 Samuel 3:9-10 (MSG)

Abraham was seventy-five years old when he heard God speak to him (Genesis 12:4). Moses was eighty (Exodus 7:7). Peter was on a roof top in prayer. Paul was on the road to Damascus intent on making prisoners of Christ followers. It’s not your age, location or your ability that God is looking for. It’s your availability. God speaks to those who are ready to listen. Until we die to all that we desire, our ambition, our will, our dreams, our goals and lay them all before God as loss we are not likely to hear Him speak. Are you ready to listen?

Sometimes I wonder if God is like the Verizon commercial, “Can you hear Me now? Can you hear Me now?” Twice in the Book of Isaiah God said to His people, “I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. …” (Isaiah 65:12; 66:4) In Isaiah 50 you can almost feel the anguish of God when He asks His people, “Why was no one there when I came? Why didn’t anyone answer when I called?” (Vs. 2)

In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” What do you think He is trying to say in this global pandemic?

Practice listening for His voice. The best way to begin is meditating on Scripture. Is your daily reading more about information or transformation? Allow the Holy Spirit who inspired His Word to speak to your heart. Begin as Samuel did, “‘Speak. I’m your servant, ready to listen.’”

God did speak to Samuel and gave us an understanding of how He reveals Himself and speaks to us today in the final verse of this story. The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 3:21 (NIV) “The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there He revealed himself to Samuel through his word.”

Don’t waste these days of sheltering at home and look back on them having missed the opportunity to hear God speak to you. Get alone with God in His Word to experience His presence, hear His voice and respond in obedience to what He is saying to you.

I hope you’ll join us for live worship this Mother’s Day Weekend as well at live.wc.org. Use this opportunity to connect with your mother, especially if you haven’t been able to visit her in person.

Original here