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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Prayer for the Nation

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Importance of Friendship

(The following story comes from an anonymous source.)

“One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my school walking home. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books.

I thought, "Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He really must be a nerd."

I had a weekend planned with parties and a football game, so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.

As I was watched, a bunch of kids ran toward him. They knocked his books out of his arms and tripped him. He landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying and landed in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw terrible sadness in his eyes.

My heart went out to him. I jogged over to him and I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, "Those guys are jerks!"

He looked at me and said, "Hey, thanks!" There was a big smile of gratitude on his face.

I helped him pick up his books, and as it turned out, he lived near me, so we walked together. I asked him why I had never seen him before, and he explained that he had been away at private school.  

We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. He joined me and my friends for football and they liked him too.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, "Boy, you are gonna build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!" He just laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. As we approached our senior year, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. We would always be friends, and the miles were never a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him again about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn't me up there giving a speech. 

On graduation day, Kyle looked great. He was stronger and more confident. He really found his stride during high school. The girls found him attractive. He had more dates than I had and sometimes I was jealous.

That day I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, "Hey, you'll be great!" He looked at me and smiled that same grateful smile I had seen on the first day we met.

As Kyle prepared to speak, he cleared his throat. I remember how he began:

"Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach...but mostly your friends. I am here to tell you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story about true friendship." 

I listened with disbelief as Kyle told the story of the day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn't have to do it later and was carrying all his stuff home. He looked at me and gave me a little smile.

"Thankfully, I was saved because a friend cared. He saved me from doing the unspeakable."

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us about his weakest moment. His parents were looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize how important it is to be a friend to someone in a moment of need." 


Saturday, October 17, 2020

US Presidents on the Bible


Bill Clinton takes the oath of office for his 2nd term as president of the United States, Jan. 1997.

George Washington served as the 1st president of the United States of America from 1789 to 1797. Previously, he led Patriot forces to victory in the nation's War for Independence. Like most gentlemen of his time, Washington was versed in the Bible, specifically the King James Bible, and he seasoned his discourse with biblical allusions and phrases. Washington’s papers contain hundreds of biblical quotations, figures of speech, idioms, proverbs, and allusions. No literary text is referenced more frequently in his writings.

John Quincy Adams was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, and diarist who served as the 6th president of the United States, from 1825 to 1829. He previously served as the eighth United States Secretary of State from 1817 to 1825. President Adams explained that Bible reading was an almost daily practice. His Diary entry for 26 September 1810 reads: "I have made it a practice for several years to read the Bible through in the course of every year. I usually devote to this reading the first hour after I rise every morning."

President Adams also wrote, "The first and almost only book deserving of universal attention is the Bible. I speak as a man of the world...and I say to you, 'Search the Scriptures.'"

Andrew Jackson was an American soldier and statesman who served as the 7th president of the United States from 1829 to 1837. Before being elected to the presidency, Jackson gained fame as a general in the United States Army and served in both houses of the U.S. Congress. Referring to the Bible, Jackson said, "That Book, sir, is the rock upon which our Republic rests."

Abraham Lincoln was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 to 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the American Civil War, the country's greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. Lincoln wrote, "I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible."

Herbert Clark Hoover was an American politician, businessman, and engineer, who served as the 31st president of the United States from 1929 to 1933. He held office during the onset of the Great Depression. Hoover said, "There is no other book so various as the Bible nor one so full of concentrated wisdom."

Dwight David Eisenhower was an American politician and soldier who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he became a five-star general in the Army and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe. 

Before he became President of the United States, Eisenhower served as president of Columbia University in New York City. While in that role, he pledged to be a "witness for Christ" at Riverside Church on Layman's Sunday (16 October 1949). "I don't feel qualified to preach a sermon," he commented, "but I would like to read one chapter from the Bible that has helped me more than anything else I have ever read." That chapter was Romans 12.

William Jefferson Clinton is an American lawyer and politician who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Bill Clinton served two terms as the president of the United States. His acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in New York on 16 July 1992 was full of biblical allusions and scripture references. However, the Arkansas governor's talk of a "new covenant" was perceived by some as "pseudo-Christianity."

In 2016, Hillary Clinton allegedly threw a Bible at a secret service agent's head.

George Walker Bush is an American politician and businessman who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. He had previously served as the governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000. While he was governor, George Bush Jr. read the Bible every morning. First thing in the morning, he made coffee for his wife, fed the growing group of cats and dogs, and then read the Bible.

Barack Hussein Obama II is an American politician and attorney who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. Obama placed his hand on two different Bibles when he was sworn into office. He used the Bible that had been used by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861 for his first inauguration in 2009, and he used the Bible that had belonged to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the swearing-in ceremony for his second term as president. Some view this as virtue signaling since there is no evidence that Obama reads the Bible with any regularity.

Donald John Trump is the 45th president of the United States. Before entering the political arena, he was a businessman and television personality. Donald Trump said in a 2016 radio interview that his favorite biblical teaching is an "eye for an eye."

President Trump was also accused of virtue signaling when he held up a Bible in front of St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington DC.

Bible Blurb: Oh, How God Loves!

You say: "I hate myself."

God says: "As my servant, you are a steward of sacred mysteries." (1 Corinthians 4:1-5)

You say: "Nobody really loves me."

God says: "I love you and gave my only begotten son for you." (John 3:16; John 3:34)

You say: "I can't forgive myself."

God says: "I forgive you and put your sins as far from me as the east is from the west." (1 John 1:9; Romans 8:1, Psalm 103:12)

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Two Obedient Servants


Two very different men, Watchman Nee and Eric Liddell, concluded that knowledge and obedience to God are intrinsically linked. 

Watchman Nee wrote, "All knowledge is the outgrowth of obedience; everything else is just information."

Eric Liddell observed, "Obedience to God's will is the secret of spiritual knowledge and insight. It is not willingness to know, but willingness to DO (obey) God's will that brings certainty."

Watchman Nee was a Chinese church leader, teacher, and writer who worked in China during the 20th century. He was seventeen when he became a Christian in 1920. Two years later, he initiated church meetings in Fuzhou that many consider the beginning of the local church movement. 

Nee died in a Communist prison on May 30, 1972. He was 69. His body was cremated before his family could arrive. Before his death, he left a piece of paper under his pillow. He wanted to testify to the truth which he had held until his death. That paper said: "Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ. Watchman Nee."

Eric Liddell was a Scottish athlete and devout Christian who refused to take part in an Olympic race because it took place on a Sunday. The story of this "Flying Scotsman" was dramatized in the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire. 

They never met each other, but they had much in common. Eric Liddell was born in 1902 to a missionary family in China. Watchman Nee was born in 1903 in China, the grandson of a gifted Anglican preacher. Both died in prison.

After deciding to abandon his athletic career, Liddell returned to China where he taught chemistry and organized sports at a boys school in Tientsin (now Tianjin). In 1934, he married and the couple had two daughters. He later began work as a village evangelist, traveling the countryside in a region of China where he frequently met with hostility from Communists and Chinese Nationalists. 

Liddell died on February 21, 1945 in a Japanese internment camp from a large tumor on the left side of his brain. He was 43. It was the same place where he wrote about obeying God’s calling for his life. He had dedicated his life to obeying God’s will and teaching others to live in accordance with God’s Word.

Related reading: An Obedient Servant of the LORD; The Goal of Discipleship

Monday, October 5, 2020

God's Provisions for Victory

The Christian is acutely aware that the world is not safe for followers of Jesus Christ. In some places Christians are constantly under attack and slaughtered. Other threats include loss of religious liberty, loss of the freedom to assemble for worship, and loss of personal ownership of Bibles. It seems as if a war were being waged against those who love the Lord Jesus.

The war is real. This is spiritual warfare.

It is described as an encounter with a ravenous lion on the prowl for food (1 Peter 5). The Apostle Paul speaks of it as beguilement of the mind: "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:3)

The days are past when righteous rulers defended the Faith and the Faithful. Today political expediency directs the actions of world leaders. Their attitude is described in Psalm 2:1-3:

Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
"Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!"

The anti-Christ posture of the world requires that Christians defend themselves and the Gospel. We are to take advantage of every God-given provision.

We are to rely on the Holy Spirit, one of God's provisions for victory. The Holy Spirit leads into all Truth, convicts of sin, anoints for service, and equips for battle. The Holy Spirit gives discernment in times of trouble.

The Christian is not to do battle alone. Each belongs to the whole Church, the fellowship of saints who support and defend each other through prayer, and material provisions and interventions.

In his letter to the Ephesian Christians, Paul tells them to "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints..."
(Ephesians 6:11-18)

Faith, fortitude, courage, hopefulness, discernment, and obedience make one able to stand against the "fiery darts" of the enemy. We cannot conjure these attributes or talk ourselves into them. These are divine provisions. Seek them now so that you will be well equipped for the "evil day."

Friday, October 2, 2020

It's Okay Not to Be an Evangelist


Evangelism involves spreading the Gospel by personal witness. It is most effective when the witness is mature in the Faith and the message is succinctly and graciously delivered.

Some Christians seem to be called to the work of evangelism. It is not the work of every Christian if we consider Ephesians 4:10-11. "He who descended is the very One who ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all thigs. And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists... to equip the saints for works of ministry and to build up the body of Christ."

Some Christians are called to this work. Dr. Billy Graham was one of them. His life demonstrated an unwavering commitment to his God-given calling. He said: "My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which I believe comes through knowing Christ."

The New Testament refers to Philip as an evangelist in Acts 21:8 and Paul told Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist” in 2 Timothy 4:5.

We should not assume that every Christian is to do the work of evangelism. It is a ministry that requires unique appointment by the Holy Spirit.

That said, every Christian is to mature in the Faith so that they may always "be ready to give to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear..." (1 Peter 3:15) Some call this witnessing. The opportunity to witness will present itself to every Christian at some time in their life.

That is why discipleship involves learning, discipline, obedience, discernment and courage.