My prayer for today…

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

–Romans 5:1-5

Easier said than done.

Rejoice in suffering?

Really?

Sorry God, I am not there yet. I cannot rejoice. Yes I have lived that passage. I have seen suffering produce endurance. I have seen suffering bring out character. With that suffering – I always had hope, and I have seen God’s love persevere.

But I cannot rejoice. I am weak. I cannot understand why we suffer in this life. All I know is that this suffering has to be for a reason.

And yes, I hope, and I surrender. I give you the power, and my hope lies in you.

“So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
–Proverbs 3:4-5

Please God, I don’t need to understand.

I just need my prayers answered.

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Giving Thanks For Freedom

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”
–Galatians 5:1-6

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Romans 8:1-4

Thank you Jesus for for the freedom I enjoy today, that we celebrated this weekend. No, not the freedom won by our forefathers from the British. Rather, I thank you for the freedom that you won for me on the cross. I thank you for the freedom you grant me, not by anything I have done, but by your grace. It is the freedom I maintain through my faith. It is the freedom from sin, that grants me eternal life, regardless of where I live, what government is in place, or what any man on earth could ever achieve on his own.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32

Thanks!

The Power of Pride

High school football player Isayah Muller.

He just led his team to a championship win.

He is dead now.

He was killed in New York after his father discovered a bottle of cologne missing from their car after a graduation ceremony.  When he noticed the bottle missing, he turned the car around and confronted the parking attendants.  The argument became violent, his son got involved, and was stabbed as a result.

Now we have one less 19 year old in the world, victim of a senseless murder because his father couldn’t live without a bottle of cologne.

Tell me America, that we don’t need a little more God in our lives, and a little less pride and conceit.

Tell me we don’t need to get on our knees and ask God to intervene in our lives.

Wake up America and start realizing what is important, before we destroy ourselves.

“Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. ”
–Psalm 73:6

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
–Proverbs 8:13


And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:30-31

Grace by Phil Wickham

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yD47xcT6iw

The sky is grey and the light is far
The sea is a rage within my heart
I turn my sight to the crashing waves
I cry in the night just to be saved

Cause I need eyes to be my guide
I need a voice that’s louder than mine
I need hope and I need You
Cause I can’t do this alone

Grace I call Your name
Oh won’t Your smile fall over me
I’m cracked and dry on hands and knees
Oh sweet grace rain down on me I need You grace

I pray for dawn a new day to live
I pray for mercy only Jesus gives
Though darkness falls and a million cry
I believe over all there’s a greater light shining for us

Gratitude – A Lesson Learned

Mid 1960’s.

My grandfather had been in the country only a few months, having been forced to leave his homeland. One of many Cuban exiles, he was a University professor, but was unemployed, collecting unemployment benefits. Already in his 50’s, it was difficult to find work in his field, since English was not his first language. After searching for a few months, he finally found a job. Now that he was working, there was something he had to do.

“What? Um…what do you mean, give it back?”

My grandfather had asked my father to go with him to the unemployment office. My father, having been in the country longer, already spoke enough English to be able to translate for him. As they waited their turn, my father was nervous. He knew what his father was about to do, and he knew this was going to be a difficult thing, but he also knew there was no talking his father out of it. He could be a little stubborn, and trying to persuade him out of his mission would only embolden him.

“My father wants to know how much money you have paid him in unemployment” My father asked the lady behind the counter.

She looked at my grandfather, who smiled back at her, eagerly awaiting the answer. Realizing he was serious, she told him. Once my father translated the number back to the older educator, he immediately went to work. He took out his checkbook, and began writing a check. The government worker tried to tell my grandfather it wasn’t necessary, but he stopped her by lifting his hand, as if he was a traffic officer directing a car to stop.

“Por favor…” he answered her, then kept writing, handing her a check for the full amount of unemployment benefits he had received. He instructed my father to continue translating his words.

“He wants this to go back to help the other Cubans that are coming from the island.”

My father hunched his shoulders and smiled sheepishly, knowing this was a little uncommon. The lady looked at the check as if she had never seen one before. She kept looking back and forth between the check and my grandfather, perplexed as to what to do next.

“Sir, this is very nice of you, but I don’t have any idea how to process this. There is nothing in the system to let me take this check back.”

My grandfather was not deterred. He told my father to tell the lady that he would not take no for an answer. All this of course was said in the most polite and amicable way, always smiling back at the confused worker. The lady excused herself to get her supervisor. After another discussion with the supervisor, the elder immigrant was adamant, not budging in his demands. My father was forced to do something he really didn’t want to do. He had to lie. It was the only way. He told him that it was illegal for them to take the money, that they could get fired as it could be thought of as a bribe. My grandfather, not wanting to get anybody in trouble, relented. He excused himself as politely as he he began, smiling and thanking the lady for her help.

It made the papers the next morning.

I just learned that story recently. I would like to tell you that this was a unique story, that my grandfather did something that had never been done before. Not true. It was not uncommon for Cuban exiles to try to give government assistance back to the government once they were back on their feet. In their minds, it was not their money. It did not belong to them. Cubans – as many immigrants of that era – were not taught to take money from anyone. They were taught to work for their money. It did not matter if they were poor or rich. Work was something to be admired, and as such, taking money while not working was not acceptable to them.

Here is the lesson I have learned from this story. It is about gratitude. My grandfather understood the concept of gratitude. He did not see that unemployment benefit as an entitlement, as something he was supposed to have. He understood it as a debt. He was grateful, but not only was he grateful, he realized the great responsibility that came from taking money he had not earned. The money came from somewhere, and he knew someone had to work for that money. In his mind, it was only natural for him to give it back.

What a concept.

We are talking about money here, but it really applies to anything we take without actually working for it. How many times have we been help by someone? Have we always paid it back? Are you in debt to anyone? We all are in one way or another. Have you expressed your gratitude lately to those in your life who got you through a tough time?

I will take it one step further. Have you thanked God lately? We all go through tough times. In those dark times of our lives, many of us pray. We pray that God will help us, that He will give us the strength to get us through. Then, somehow, we make it through our tough time. Things change, things get better. Do we ever recognize the one that got us through that difficult period?

One last point. Do we ever recognize where that gift really came from? Did the unemployment check my grandfather receive really come from the government, or from God? No my friend, the government does not own anything. It all belongs to God. We are called by God to be stewards of His resources. It was right for my grandfather, being a good steward of those resources, to want that money to be used to help another immigrant. He understood the concept of stewardship. Do we?

Will you make it a point today to thank God for everything you have?

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
–James 1:17

Will you thank Him for your trials and tribulations, knowing He allows them to strengthen you, to prepare you for something much greater, that He is planning for you?

“And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.“
–Deuteronomy 8:2-3

With God’s help, we make it through good times and bad. Let’s praise him always, showing our gratitude, and being good stewards of the resources He provides.


UPDATE: After writing this post, I was informed by a family member that this story did not exactly occur as stated above. I was told that the check was not for unemployment but was instead for Welfare. I was also told that my grandfather did indeed know English at the time. I am reminded by this that family stories tend to get watered down through the years, and the facts get cloudy. The message of the post is the same nevertheless. My message to those who remember the story differently – don’t shoot the messenger.

Psalm 25


To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me.
Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.

It can be difficult in today’s society, to simply say I am going to wait on the Lord, trust in Him to reveal His path for me, to simply relinquish control, and not be ashamed to say I will put my cares and worries on Him, and let Him deal with them. Yet that is what we are to do. There is no shame is saying you can’t do it alone, and you need to pray that God will show you the way.

Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.

Knowledge.

Isn’t that really what we all want in the end? We want to know what God expects of us, what He wants for our lives. He has been so gracious as to reveal His word to us, and through it we can learn the absolute truth of His salvation for us through His son, Jesus Christ.

Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.

As fallen creatures, we are prone to sin. There is no doubt that God’s standard is too high for us to ever achieve. We can never reach perfection, as such we all fall short of the glory of God. We need a savior – all of us. We need forgiveness – all of us. Our hope is that in His forgiveness, He forgets our sins, that they are washed away, never to return.

Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way.
All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
For Your name’s sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

He is not only good, He is the definition of good. Here we see the cornerstone of our faith – humility. We are taught to lower ourselves, and by doing so we are granted eternal justice. We are asked to recognize the truth of sin, the truth of the consequences of Pride. The Psalmist recognizes his great failure in achieving the perfect state of humility and asks for forgiveness

Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.
He himself shall dwell in prosperity, And his descendants shall inherit the earth.
The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the LORD, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.

The word fear is used here, but really we can think of it as reverence, and respect. To those that fear the Lord, prosperity is promised. Careful here, prosperity is not what you may think. God is not promising an earthly form of prosperity, but rather the true happiness of eternal salvation, the true freedom from the chains that bind us to sin. To those that fear the Lord, He will form His covenant, the promise from Heaven that can never be broken. He will pluck man from the fisherman’s net, not to be consumed by this world, but achieving eternal life.

Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses!
Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins.
Consider my enemies, for they are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred.
Keep my soul, and deliver me; Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You.

Redeem Israel, O God, Out of all their troubles!

Finally, a humble plea to God, to have mercy on our souls, recognizing our broken state. We recognize sin as breaking our hearts, bringing us distress, and pain. We ask again that the Lord forgive our sins, mending our hearts in the process. We ask God to stand with us against our enemies, those that would tempt us to sin. We ask that He protect our soul, giving us the strength to put our full trust in Him. At the end, we see a plea for truth and goodness to preserve our souls, while we wait for God to reveal His holy plan for our lives