This week marks 241 years since the United States officially became an independent nation. It began with only 13 states and an estimated 2.5 million people. Today America’s population is over 325 million making it the third most populated country in the world behind China and India. America has come a long way since its beginning. And she has been blessed by God, in great part because her founding was deeply rooted in Christian principles and values. There is no better way to succeed in any endeavor, whether it’s a business, a career, a marriage, raising children, and yes, forming a nation, than to heed the words and counsel of the Creator. And it is up to us to make sure our nation continues to do so. We pray for God to inspire, direct and guide those who are in leadership from the President on down to the city councils and county boards. God, continue to bless this nation and may your will be done in the United States of America!
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. II Chronicles 7:14. NLT
Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10 NLT
Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts. Proverbs 24:3-4. TLB
Validation. Webster defines this as follows: to substantiate, to confirm, to give official sanction or approval to. Mankind has always sought validation. From young to old, it is sought from our families, our friends, our peers, parents, co-workers, employers and sometimes even strangers. Validation provides one with a sense of belonging and acceptance. The opposite of validation might be rejection. Rejection is the loneliest word in the English language. And it is one of the most hurtful things a person can experience. From not getting picked for a team on the playground to that college or job rejection letter to those divorce papers. Rejection is difficult for everyone and never gets easier. That is why our relationship with our Heavenly Father is so important. We do not have to make enough, do enough or be good enough to be accepted by Him. In His realm, there are no standards to be met, no qualifications to live up to or required courses to take. Jesus Christ has fulfilled it all for us and by accepting Him, we get it all! Unconditional love is rarely if ever found among the human race. Oh, but God’s love is always accessible. He doesn’t ration it out, withhold it or put a price tag on it. God’s love is unending, unchanging, unlimited and unimaginable! The reason we can’t understand it is because we try to measure it by human standards. So don’t try to figure it out because you can’t. Jesus provides all the validation you will ever need and rejection isn’t in His vocabulary!
5 Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. 6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD. 7 How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:5-7 (NLT)
37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. John 6:37 (NLT)
This Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day. Any man can be a father. But it takes a little something extra to be a dad. A dad is someone who realizes that even though he has huge responsibilities outside of the home, he knows everything he does is for his family. From the moment he holds his firstborn, his goals, his dreams, his ambitions all change. His life now has a different purpose and a new meaning. He is now an example. He is a role model. He is a teacher. And his pupils are his children. He is not living his life for himself, but he is living it to teach his children how to live. And his kids will learn so much more from what dad does than from what he says. Dad, you may only have 18 years to hold their hands, but for a lifetime you will hold their hearts.
7 The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7 (NKJV)
6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
4 I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth. 3 John 1:4 (NLT)
I recently saw a sign with a saying on it that read “Today is a good day for a good day”. My first thought was “Oh how cute!” But then, after thinking about it, I realized that most good days don’t just happen. Yes, you can say “Que sera sera” and hope for a good day. But in reality, it is you not karma, that will determine the outcome of your day. Maybe the events of your day are predetermined – I have to go to work, I have to go to a graduation party, I have a dentist appointment (ugh), etc. Some of those things you can’t control. But what you can control is your approach. And the approach that will open up windows of blessings to you is an attitude of gratitude! Be thankful! Why? Because it is the gateway into God’ presence. And when you are in God’s presence, it doesn’t matter what you have to do or where you have to go. It will be a good day!
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 (NLT)
11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)
17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT)
There is a song lyric that says “Your strength is found at the end of my rope.” How many of us have found ourselves in that position – at the end of our rope. This usually means that we have completely depleted our own strength, ability, patience or natural options. And it is usually at this point that we finally turn to God for help. Unfortunately, it often takes getting to the end of our ropes before we have that prodigal moment when we finally “come to ourselves”, or in other words, we realize our Father has already provided everything we need. Thank God that He is there when our rope runs out and we feel we are losing our grip. But we don’t have to get to that point. Our weak spots were designed to be strengthened by Christ! That is the plan and it works great! Allow Him to work in you. God’s grace IS sufficient!
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)
17 But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! Luke 15:17 (NKJV)
This coming Monday we celebrate Memorial Day in America. This day was first observed back in 1868 with a celebration commemorating those lives sacrificed during the Civil War and it was originally known as Decoration Day as the graves of over 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were decorated. In years since World War I, it has become a day to honor those who died in all America’s wars and, in 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday. There’s one word that sums up all those fallen – Heroes! And to that end, all those who have chosen to take up the cause to defend and protect the land of the free and freedom around the world are heroes. Each man and woman who does understands and accepts that it may require their ultimate sacrifice but they chose it anyway. Following is a quote from one who fought in Desert Storm. His chilling words of resolution capture the spirit of an American soldier. “I thought of my wife and children, I said a quick prayer for them and was ready to die.” – Intelligence Specialist Chief (Air Warfare) Mark W. Bell (Desert Storm). What we have in America is worth defending. Thank you to those who do. God bless you and God bless America, the land of the free and the home of the brave!
13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 (NLT)
During our prayer service this week we focused on two groups of people: those who hear the Word (of God) only and those who hear the Word and apply it to their lives. When the storm comes, those who heard the Word but didn’t do what they heard are devastated by the storm. But those who applied the Word to their lives, were able to stand firm through the storm. Both groups encountered the same storm, but the results are quite different. Unfortunately, storms will come. The Bible even tells us so. But it’s the Word that is put to work in our lives that will see us through those storms. One comment was made that many church-goers treat the Word as a spectator sport. They observe it from a distance but they don’t get directly involved. God’s Word is great to hear, but it’s in the doing that the benefits are reaped. So, what do you say – it’s time to get out of the bleachers and on to the field!
46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?
47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” Luke 6:46-49 (NLT)
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 (NLT)
33 I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33 (MSG)
Recently I was on a very long and arduous hike with my daughter. The hike was up the side of a mountain and parts were fairly steep. During and after these steep sections of the hike, I required a little break to allow my heart to rest from its supersonic pace. I often had the thought “I hope this is worth it!” But eventually we reached the top where I was greeted by an absolutely breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. All the sweat was worth that view. We just paused for a while to take it all in. Two people were not far behind and as they came to the spot where we were enjoying the beautiful view they went right past us and on their way down. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t take the time to enjoy the view. I said perhaps they had seen it many times before on previous hikes. Just as I spoke those words another man came up the path and said he had done this hike many, many times before and he never gets tired of seeing that view. Life’s path can sometimes seem long and arduous as well. But if we will take the time to stop along the way and acknowledge God, we will see that God has provided places of rest and beauty for us to recharge and refocus. Whether you’re on a well-worn path or a brand new one, His awesome presence will amaze you ever time!
11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11 (NIV)
14 The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 (NIV)
20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. Acts 3:20 (NLT)
Last week our Food For Thought was all about being the leader. But believe it or not, not everyone wants to be the leader. And not everyone is called to be the leader. There are many people who like being the worker bee, helping to accomplish a particular job or goal. “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it!” Without these people, no place of business could function. No organization could function. No church could function. Without those who are willing to get in the thick of things and do the work, no matter how many people are giving the orders, the job would never get done. Do not under-value yourself if you don’t have the desire or the calling to lead. You are very valuable and more important than you will ever know and you are most likely where God wants you right now. Do whatever job before you with the best of your ability and in the spirit of excellence, whether you are at the top or the bottom rung of the so-called corporate ladder and just see where it takes you!
6 For no one on earth—from east or west, or even from the wilderness— should raise a defiant fist. 7 It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall.
Psalm 75:6-7 (NLT)
23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
1 Peter 5:6 (NLT)
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
As a child, have you ever played “Follow the Leader”. It’s a simple game where you line up behind “the leader” and you follow him/her around and mimic what he/she does. If you fail to do so, you are out of the game. The very last person remaining becomes the leader. This game might be very simple, but it has a good lesson. Good leaders don’t just give orders. They become an example to those they are leading. This concept can be carried into many aspects of life, but one especially is parenting. Our children mimic what they see us do and what they hear us say. Our every move is being observed. And by our every action and word we are teaching our children something, good or bad. And, as in the game, our children will grow up and become the leaders. Will they be passing on the good or the bad that they have learned? And if it is not your children, watching you, someone else is. Let’s make sure what we are passing on will produce something good in someone else.
16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:16 (NLT)
12 Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT)
33 Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NLT)
6 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)