Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How Do You Give Thanks?

I've been noticing a lot of people posting things they are thankful for in anticipation of the celebration of Thanksgiving day.  I believe it is called 30 Days of Thanks. 

Along with many other things that I have considered "good" for the whole length of my life, I have been pondering the Thanksgiving holiday. 

It's really not fun when God opens your eyes to a truth of something that is in direct opposition to a previously held belief.  When He does, you can rest assured that (if your life has really been submitted to Christ) you will not be at peace until you decide what you're going to do with what He has shown you.   Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Thanksgiving day is bad or wrong.  I just think how we go about it is wrong.  Psalm 92:1 tells us that it "is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord..." 

We have taken a day that was set aside to share the bounty that God provided to the settlers and to give thanks to God for that bounty and the fact that they had enough food to survive another winter, and we have turned it into a food/football/shopping orgy with perhaps (if He's lucky) a 20 second prayer of thanks for the food offered up to God. 

It is so easy for mankind to take something that is good and right (Thanksgiving Day) and turn it into something that God must surely find offensive by making it all about us instead of all about Him. Instead of a fine meal offered up quietly and thankfully with lots of reflection of His goodness, we have made it all about how much food we can consume, how much alcohol we can consume, how much football we can watch in one day or how much shopping we can get done. None of that glorifies God, does it?

God has convicted me of it.  In prior years, I would prepare this unbelievable table of food and desserts and punch and tea and coffee and soft drinks that you would think I had a football team coming to eat.  Not so this year.  There's too many hurting, hungry people out there...right here in the USofA; not to mention all over the rest of the globe.  So, yes, I will prepare a turkey and I made homemade bread today and a cheesecake and on Thursday, we will have a salad and mashed potatoes and gravy and my mother-in-law is bringing cranberry relish and a vegetable dish.   And it is my intent to share a devotional from the Bible and offer up a true prayer of thanksgiving for the many ways that God's love for us is evident each and every day.   So I ask you...how will you spend your Thanksgiving day?  Will there be time set aside for personal devotions, praise and worship and prayer?  Will it be a day of overindulging to the point of feeling stuffed and uncomfortable?  Will the power to your TV set ever be set on "OFF"?   Or will be you be mesmerized by the advertising flyers in the daily paper deciding which "Black Friday" sale to attend?  Isn't it bad enough that Christmas is the most commercial time in the year; do we have to make Thanksgiving a sham, too?  

God has richly blessed me and my family, and I pray that you, my friend, know Him and realize that He is the giver of all good gifts because everything was made by Him and for Him (including you!).  God bless you and have a happy Thanksgiving.

Heavenly Father, You know my heart about this because you are the one who has convicted me of my sin.  Please forgive me for never giving you enough...enough praise, enough thanks, enough glory, enough time, and enough love.   I know it's a small step, Lord, but it IS a step.  I have heard your voice and I am following your direction.  Less is more with regard to consumption (whether it's food, fun, or football) and more is what it's all about when it comes to being thankful.  Open our eyes to the abundance that you have provided to us, and inspire us to be REALLY thankful.  Let our lives show it.   Lead us in being generous with others.  Fill our mouths with praise and thanksgiving to you, our Lord, Redeemer and King.  In Jesus' name.  Amen

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The USA -- a Post-Christian Country

Well, the election is over and many of us are still rubbing our eyes and asking ourselves, "Did I just see what I thought I saw?"   A country that has repeatedly over the past 12 to 18 months given its president very low approval ratings, complained about the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and been literally "up in arms" about many of his policies and acts, re-elected that very same president!!!

I, personally, did not vote for a presidential candidate, although I did cast a vote in the senatorial race, a local judge race, and a school levy.  I did not feel within my spirit a "release" from the Lord to be able to vote for either of the two main candidates.   I have been very dissatisfied with the performance of our current leader, and had no wish to have him spend another four years issuing Executive Orders to bypass working with Congress, and finding untold ways to insinuate the government into my private life.  I also am appalled at his position on abortion -- to the extent of allowing partial birth abortions and late term (last trimester) abortions.  He even went so far as to say he didn't wants his daughters to be "punished" with having to have a baby. See Video.

He also is all about changing the biblical definition of marriage.  Not to mention how he disdains the Christian faith, Israel/the Jews/Benjamin Netanyahu while advocating for Islam.  He has shown no leadership ability, has little to no experience in running a business let alone a country, and has shown little restraint in telling what I call "whoppers" and working hard to turn the US into a third world country with no military might whatsoever. 

At the same time, I could not endorse the opposition for many reasons including the fact that he really was a closet progressive with an agenda frighteningly similar to our current leader and I didn't feel I could put my "AOK" on a man who says he worships the same God I do but who is in essence, a member of a "cult"  but is a man who appears to have good morals in that he has been married to the same woman for 47 years, raised 5 sons, "propagated" that he was for marriage between one man and one woman as the "definition" of marriage and was against (supposedly) abortion. 

Even so, in listening to the political pundits and "news" media, it seemed as though the opponent was gaining traction and even though I didn't endorse him, I had begun to think that perhaps the American people would reject the out and out wickedness of  the incumbent and support the challenger.  

However, as I watched in stunned amazement as the polls came in, I realized that the USA has crossed an invisible line in the sand; going from a nation that for many years past had embraced  the God of the Bible, and all He stood for, thereby receiving the blessings of God on our country, to a country that embraces wickedness.

Our country has crossed the line into an area where people love themselves, are covetous, braggers/boasters, proud of themselves and believe they are capable of doing anything, they don't need God so they become blasphemers, are disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasure and sin more than lovers of God.   We are a nation of people who have become intent upon pleasing themselves at any cost - no matter what!

As I was thinking about this as I drove to church tonight,  I began wondering how long it would be before the Lord would take His hand of protection off of our country or if possibly we are under judgment as many have claimed.  This, in turn, started me thinking how does one reach out to those who want to embrace a life that is in direct opposition to God.  They think we hate them and condemn them and want nothing to do with them.  God spoke to my heart then, and this is what I heard Him say to me:

Love them, even as  I love you.  It is so much balm for your soul, Kim,  to know that  I love you in spite of your ignorance, selfishness and sinfulness, so why wouldn't it be balm for another sinner's soul to know that someone loves them in the same way?  There is no other way than through love to let another sinner know what I have done for them.  If you don't love them on their own playing field, how can you ever obtain an opportunity to tell them about me?  They think you hate them because you don't believe the way they do.  And when they ask you what I am saving them from, here's the answer.  I came not just to save them from death which is the required payment for committing sin,  but I came to save them from being bound to a life OF sin -- to set them free from the chains of sin.
John 3:17 which tells us:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
The election showed me how much passion people have in wanting a leader who can unify us, really lead us in the right way (known as paths of right-ness or righteousness), someone who can win our loyalty and trust.  The Bible tells us that there is no one good except God.  Therefore, there is no man who can accomplish all these things unless he is God...that man was/is Jesus Christ - God Incarnate.

If you don't know that you know that you know Jesus Christ, oh, my friend, I pray for you that you would come to know the love of God which is beyond our comprehension, that you would come to know His peace that passes understanding, and that you would begin taking baby steps of faith in living your life by dying to what you want and living in the power of His spirit to do the things He planned for you before the beginning of time.

Elections will come and go and men will disappoint us and leave us asking why and how they could have failed us, but God is the same yesterday, today and forever; His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is oh, so GREAT.   Join me in coming out of the post-Christian USA into life everlasting in the kingdom of our great God.  He's coming soon, oh, glorious day!!

Lord Jesus, Father God, we praise you today that we do not have to live a life in bondage to sin - whatever that particular sin may be in our lives.  Give us your wisdom to know what is right and the courage and strength to do it.  Inspire us to introduce you all we come in contact with.  Thank you for your grace and mercy and help us to show those same gifts of life to others.  We pray for the leaders of all nations that they would seek your guidance.  We pray that you would raise up Godly men and women to be leaders in every city, state and and country.  In Jesus' name.  Amen

Monday, November 5, 2012

Straining and Groaning

Do you sense it, too...that the whole world is groaning for the return of the King, Master, Creator and Landlord of all?   The Bible tells us in Romans 8 that all creation is awaiting release from the bondage of sin.

I feel it.  The pain and dissatisfaction.  The disillusion and hopelessness.  The wealthy are bored and looking for their next high.  The poor are hurting and looking for a deliverer.  The family is being dismantled.  The Bible is being discredited.   Hatred, division, discord and rebellion are words for the day.  People only hear what they want to hear.  Nature is showing what extreme power she has that we have never seen before.  You seldom hear about 6.0 level earthquakes now as they have become very commonplace. And while many are experiencing floods over the world in levels never seen before; others are experiencing unbelievable drought.      

All seem to be asking, "Where is the one that can deliver us from all this?"  That's one of the reasons I know that we are living in the last minutes of the age. The stage is being carefully set up for the arrival of the evil one - the man who will "SEEM" to be the one who is the answer to all our problems; the one who can change it all and correct all the injustices, but it will be just the opposite.  He will make life on this plague-filled earth that we inhabit today pure, living hell.  As bad it looks today, it will be MUCH worse when the man of sin arrives on the scene. 

Soon though, thank God for His mercy in shortening those days, it will be over and we will be ruled by the only person who has ever had the ability to be a King or a Judge, God's one and only begotten son, Jesus Christ.  He is the only one wise enough, and the only one good enough.  He will rule with an iron rod, but he will rule justly.  He loves mercy and kindness.  He is the full embodiment of the word "love".  There will be peace on earth for all: men, women, children, animals, vegetation, land, and sea.    No more global warming, no more pollution, no more genetically modified food, no more elections, no more anything that isn't in God's plan.  A thousand years of good (Godly) living.

I am thankful today that I know who holds my future, and it isn't Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, or any other man, for that matter.  I can walk through these very disconcerting days with the assurance that nothing is going to happen to me today that God has not allowed to happen, and that He was a plan and a purpose for my life...not to hurt me, but to prosper me.  Jeremiah 29:11-14