Last Night our Gang at 4th St did a great job welcoming and participating in the biannual Mission Rally with Ben Tobias. Our level of support both financially and with the worship made a big difference. I was really blessed; It made me feel really good to be a part of this Ministry, and it is my prayer that God bring our churches together in the task we all have before us. Reaching our communities for Christ will take all of us working together with one vision and one goal to the Glory of our Savior Jesus Christ. God Bless all –Matt
In the political environment of our time, with all of the divisiveness and turmoil, it may appear to be hopeless that any truth can prevail in these days where Machiavellian Demagoguery is the norm and truth is usually a casualty of a war raging for the soul of this nation. How did we get here, and what can we do? I came across the farewell address of Andrew Jackson as he left the white house as our 7th President. Yes I know his treatment of the American Indian is abhorrent as well as the whole slavery he condoned, but what I do want to look at is how he understood what was happening, even then, to this experiment we know today as American Democracy. He had been bullied out of elections and manipulated by central banks in such an unapologetic manner that He formed his own political party, we know them today as Democrats. So let’s look at the almost prophetic words he gives us from his farewell address to the nation.
“It is from within, among yourselves–from cupidity, from corruption, from disappointed ambition and inordinate thirst for power– that factions will be formed and liberty endangered. It is against such designs, whatever disguise the actors may assume, that you have especially to guard yourselves. You have the highest of human trusts committed to your care. Providence has showered on this favored land blessings without number, and has chosen you as the guardians of freedom, to preserve it for the human race. May He who holds in His hands the destinies of nations make you worthy of the favors He has bestowed and enable you, with pure hearts and pure hands and sleepless vigilance, to guard and defend to the end of time the great charge He has committed to your keeping.”
The use of the pronoun YOU in several forms refers to we the American people who are entrusted with protecting our freedom from the abuses we see today. It is the American people who have allowed this cancer to fester within our government by ambivalence and selfish apathy. It begins within our own communities where we are compelled by our sense of American duty to get involved. The only thing that can dispel the darkness is light and truth. Apathy only deepens the darkness. the last presidential election only had 58% of the electorate show up to the polls, and this years cycle may be even less than that. Voting is not only a privledge but a duty; it is also not an end but a beginning. So many organizations like fire companies and ambulance services are strapped for volunteers. We need to hold our elected officials accountable and then participate in our community, every one can serve somewhere. Lets commit to being a part of the solution and participate, volunteer, and let your voice be heard, because the healing that we need will not come from abroad; our nation needs inner healing. Take a minute and pray for our nation and then get out there and let the light of Jesus Christ shine through you. God bless all who read and God bless the great nation whose best days may lie ahead. Read Matthew 5:14-16
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I attended a Greek ORTHODOX wedding last Sunday and it was my first experience with this old old orthodox faith. The Church itself was beautiful with hand painted icons larger than life adorning the sanctuary. While standing in the foyer waiting for the service to begin, I noticed the people who would be helping with the service (members of the body) coming in, and as they came in they would not speak a word, but STOP pick up a tiny thin candle and light it, place it standing and lit in a sand box of sorts with sand art in it; they would then proceed to a gilded copy of what I believe to be the Gospels where they would kiss the book, making a sign of the cross. This continued as they stopped at an Icon of Mary with the Christ child again STOP and kiss the icon (about a 24″x24″ painting), and again at another Icon stop and kiss the painting.
My first thought was WOW this is strange, and the wedding ceremony was just as strange, but as I thought about what was happening in the foyer it started to make sense in a way. Before coming into the presence of God in His sanctuary it was deemed very important to rid yourself of the world BEFORE coming in and focusing on one thing and one thing only, and that one thing is being in the presence of the living God in a place where the Triune God of creation is worshiped and adored above all other things in our lives. The presence of God is available to us everywhere but these principles were made very clear even though it may lend itself to vain repetitions of tradition, there is purpose here that we can learn from.
Psalm 46: Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the Earth.
Psalm 62:5 My soul,wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.
Jeremiah 29: 13 “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”
Matthew 5: 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.
James 4:8 & 10 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you, cleanse your hands you sinners; and purify your hearts you double minded. 10 -Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and He will exalt you.
While I may still see the rituals and iconography displayed in their faith as a bit out of balance, I do fear that we may stray too far in the other direction. We have an open and welcoming sanctuary that invites ALL to come into the presence of God with us, but it is still a SANCTUARY devoted to a living God and to His worship. May we always remember this and quiet our hearts by a simple prayer or a walk around the block or a time of quiet meditation over a passage of scripture, remembering always that many times it is in our stillness that God begins to move, moving in and through and for us as we seek His will and come into His house to worship.
Just to expand on the post regarding Deuteronomy 8 and our American prosperity, I just wanted to share the words of Abraham Lincoln our 16th president on March 30, 1863.
The Civil war was raging on and our president called for a national fast to bring the people’s focus back on the God who brought the prosperity that we were fighting over. Have we ever called for a time of fasting as a church? seems almost unheard of, but why? I don’t know how many people actually fasted on the day declared by our president, but listen to some of His words in the declaration and just think about how we are being deceived by a cultural onslaught of excessive pride and the supremacy of warped self-esteem and safe places. Have we become so soft that any hardship or sacrifice seems counter-intuitive and inappropriate, can you imagine a national fast being declared by a U.S. president today? Neither can I.
“…… We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended POWER, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” Abraham Lincoln
That could have been written for us today.
Joel 2: 1 BLOW A TRUMPET IN ZION, AND SOUND AN ALARM ON MY HOLY MOUNTAIN! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near……….(12) Yet even now, declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now Return to the Lord your God, For He is Gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness.
Allow me to leave you all with a thought as the harvest comes in and we enjoy the fat of the land, Let’s give up or give of ourselves in a way that makes a difference. A time of Prayer and fasting for our church and for our nation. Pray about this and then read Matthew 6:16-24, form a triad and may God embolden our faith to walk according to His word, ALL OF IT, submitting our will to the small sacrifice of fasting can strengthen our faith, encourage our hearts and prepare us for the battles ahead.
The battle of Gettysburg raged less than three months after this declaration of fasting prayer, but the war ends teaching us that fasting and prayer may not remove us from great danger as the battles rage in our lives but the submission to God will always bring us through the battle to the Glory of the God who created us in His image, and Loves us and want us to prosper in HIS name and not our own.
We will be looking at John 15: 1-11 this Sunday, but as I am finishing my study I’ve been reading some articles on shame and guilt as they pertain to our ability to truly abide. What has shocked me is that most psychological disorders have their root in misapplied feelings of shame. If we are going to be the place for healing and a people of Joy we must confront this issue head on. Let’s talk about it. see you Sunday
Isaiah 50:7 “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”
As I am getting moved in, I have been going through lot’s of “STUFF” that has accumulated over the years, and I came across a booklet that had in it the Opening Prayer Given to the first Continental Congress by Jacob Duche on Sept 7, 1774
“O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech thee, on these our American States, who have fled to thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee, to Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give; take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved bands in the day of battle!
Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior. “–AMEN!
HOW FAR WE HAVE COME. As a nation, we seem to have forgotten what got us here, In this age where truth has become relative and we who stand on the truth of God are condemned as intolerant and all sorts of nasty not niceness. the words God speaks to Moses in Deuteronomy 8: 10-14 keep ringing in my head as a solemn reminder that when we lose our connection to God as a nation things are not gonna go so well.
Deuteronomy 8:10-14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.
11 “[a]Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12 otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
We find ourselves in the same boat. We have been brought out of oppression and bloodshed into a land that has blessed the entire world and now we are fatter than ever, more prosperous than ever and sadly more proud than ever, where we believe that it is by our own hands and our own efforts that this land has prospered and not by the sovereign guidance of a living God who holds all accountable to HIS standard, not our own unreliable and ever-changing minds.
17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ 18 But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you the power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God.
Pray that the Lord convict our hearts and help us to see and to proclaim the truth that the prosperity GOD has brought to this land came abundantly out of the solemn conviction of men who knew where prosperity came from and unless we return to Him, and quickly, our prosperity can be removed in the blink of an eye. May God Bless you and these United States of America.
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