Worshippers at Calvary Church have never been more blessed than last Sunday when we celebrated the true meaning of freedom.As we entered the auditorium our eyes were drawn to the majestic flag-draped walls surrounding the choir and orchestra.From the ceiling to the floor, the stars and stripes proudly stood to announce that something special was about to happen.
By song, prayer, praise and narration we were reminded that Freedom is never free.
We celebrated our patriotic past:
·“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
·“We will never abandon our belief in God.”
·“Ask not what your country can do for you; but ask what you can do for your country.”
·“Each generation of Americans has had the responsibility of passing the precepts of freedom to the next generation; therefore, let it be known that the torch has been passed.”
From Yankee Doodle to Amazing Grace, our worship lifted hearts to the throne of God, and we gave our thanks to God and others who have paid the price to make us free.To the Lord we sang, “I thank you for loving and setting me free.I thank you for giving your life just for me.”Hallelujah!And we gave a special word of thanks to our soldiers both present and past, as they stood to let us recognize their sacrifice.Throughout the room there were proud smiles and tear-stained cheeks as we said “Thank you!” to our heroes who have served our nation well.
Beloved, freedom is not a license to do as we please.It is a moral obligation to do what is right.
On our back porch God has placed a family of Carolina Wrens.I marvel at their beautiful song and envy their ability to fly freely through the air.But even the freedom of the birds is not really free.All afternoon the mother and father wrens fly tirelessly back and forth dozens of times to feed the four tiny mouths inside that nest.Soon there will be other families of wrens because of the sacrifice they are making.
Like the wren, we have an obligation to keep the light of freedom burning in this nation.We not only need to teach others about freedom from tyranny and oppression, but we are compelled to teach about the freedom which comes from knowing Jesus as our Lord and Savior.At the conclusion of the worship service, Pastor Mark said, “Jesus equals freedom!”Let us keep the light of freedom burning in this nation and all nations.The longing for freedom is never more urgent than when it is the human soul that longs to be free.
"Everyone was going to be punished because Adam sinned.But because of the good thing that Christ has done, God accepts us and gives us the gift of life.Adam disobeyed God and caused many others to be sinners.But Jesus obeyed him and will make many people acceptable to God." Romans 5:18-19 (CEV)
There have been many news stories recently about the missteps of celebrities and politicians alike.Why we are so fascinated with the lives of those in the public eye is often a mystery to me.Perhaps it’s because we assume that their lives are different than ours… somehow better or at least out of the ordinary because of their celebrity status.
However, on careful examination, we realize that they are fallible and often make mistakes just like us.Their personal struggles are magnified several times over through the media while we watch.Just imagine if your life were under the world’s microscope.How would you cope?
While I am not certain about some of the younger [so-called] celebrities, I do know that one seasoned, public person readily admits that in tough times it’s her “personal faith and the prayers of others that sustain her.”
Some of us have yet to realize that our actions not only affect us, but everyone else as well.The choices we make impacts others -- either bringing great heartache or by “doing the right thing” -- great joy.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, while it may be fascinating to some to watch others stumble and fall, we need to resist that temptation and to exercise our faith in You.After all, we are flawed and only have been saved by Your Grace.
And, while our lives may not play out in the newspapers, the tabloids or TV, You know our every thought and action.
Help us to live our faith and to be what You say we are, not according to the media prognosticators.
Thank You for loving us, for forgiving us and for giving us the gift of life.
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday: July 4, 2007
Sorry, no devotional today. We're celebrating Independence Day!
≈ Devotional for Thursday: July 5, 2007
Poet Robert Frost was somewhat reluctant to reveal his position on God (GospeLines, June 28, 2007).He told Freethought encyclopedist Warren Allen Smith that the answer to his beliefs (about God and religion) was to be found in his work.
Frost's book The Road Not Taken contains the poem "Not All There" in which he penned these words:
“I turned to speak to God About the world's despair But to make bad matters worse I found God wasn't there.”
We should not draw conclusions from this one statement; however, it could imply that Frost either did not believe in God or that he at least did not believe that God cared about His creation.Why do so many turn to God only to lament, "I found God wasn't there"?
Jesus said, "The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out… his sheep follow him because they know his voice… I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me - just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father" (John 10:3-4, 14-15)
If you want to speak to God and find Him there, "enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." (Psalm 100:4-5)
The Rider of the white horse, who is called Faithful and True, whose name is the Word of God, is the King of kings and Lord of lords - our Savior (Revelation 19:11-16).The world may be in despair, but His sheep may be at peace.They need never worry that they will find God not there because He has promised, "I will be with you always, even until the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20 - CEV)
Are you one of His sheep?
“…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”
A man dies and goes to heaven. Of course, St. Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates.
St. Peter says, "Here's how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you've done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in."
"Okay," the man says, "I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart."
"That's wonderful," says St. Peter, "that's worth three points!"
"Three points?" he says. "Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service."
"Terrific!" says St. Peter. "That's certainly worth a point."
"One point?!!" "I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans."
"Fantastic, that's good for two more points," he says.
"Two points!?!!" Exasperated, the man cries, "At this rate the only way I'll get into heaven is by the grace of God."
"Bingo, 100 points! Come on in!"
If you are accused of a crime, you may have the opportunity to go before a judge and jury of your peers to prove your innocence. The Bible teaches that mankind is guilty of sin, and Romans 6:23 says that the penalty for our sin is death.
Furthermore, God is our Righteous Judge, and He said the price for sin must be paid. Jesus paid the ultimate penalty for our sins through His death on the cross.
Now, it gets better!When Jesus bore our sins on the cross, it didn't make us any less guilty! Unlike being accused of a crime we didn't commit, and having the opportunity to prove our innocence, we remain in our guilt! ALTHOUGH WE ARE CONVICTED SINNERS, JESUS RECKONS US TO BE RIGHTEOUS... that's salvation by GRACE! Hallelujah!! GospeLines Prayer:Righteous God, I don't get it! The world says that the law is in place to punish the wicked. But YOU say that I am guilty of sin, yet You treat me as though I am not. I will forever be amazed that GRACE is free, and SALVATION is forever and ever. Amen and amen.