American’s Forgotten Heroes: Therefore, There is Only ONE True Hero and His Name Is Immanuel Which is Translated, “God with Us.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, On Heroism: The interest these fine stories have for us, the power of a romance over the boy who grasps the forbodden book under his bench at school, our delight in the hero, is the main fact to our purpose. All these and trandscendent properties are ours. … Let us find room for this great guest in our small houses.

Even Though it has only four letters, “HERO” is a big word, overflowing with connotations of GREEK warriors, Roman gods, medieval saints, revoltionary leaders, and larger-than-life individuals performing extraordinary deeds or acts of courage. Every culture, inevery age, has had its heroes-men (and, less frequently, women) who lead by example and uplift us all ub the process. Many of htese heroes become deeply embedded in national mythology. What (where) would America be without George Washington, Sacagawea, Danial Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, Jane Addams, Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, Douglas MacArther, and there are many others?                                                Historians have sometimes created heroes by well-wrought phrases and carefully chosen stories, but more often of late, scholars and writers have seemed intent on picking apart the reputations of once-revered Americans. The late twentieth century has been especially unkind to the celebration of national heroes. This debunking has even reached the general public. Who today can talk of Thomas Jefferson without mentioning slaves, or John F. Kennedy without speaking of his extramarital affairs? And yet our thirst for heores continues unabated. The reasos aare not hard to see. In May Satton’s memorable phrase, “One must think like a heore to behave like a merely decent human being.” And as a sports-minded commentator put it once, “History is meaningless without heroes; there is no score before they come to bat.” This article is to remind and educate the children of 2000s about our forgotten heroes of America with the attempt to enlarge and uplift our past rather thean just to question it.                                                                        Anyone who studies the past, whether a professional historian or a casual reader, knows the happy serendipity of discovering an unknown or little-understood character. Here, thirty-five of America’s leading and myself a writer, the thirty-five are all members of the Society of American Historians. I am posting the facts of our past and believe we need to educate our children around the world of our history here in America and around the world. , we are sharing our favorite stories of the individuals the school books don’t talk about that has made a differece to their times and whose lives still stand as compelling models of heroism. Some of the characters were well knmown at the time and later forgotten; many never found popular recognition during their lifetimes. All have either dropped from sketchy presences; all deserve far wider recognition than they have received. Covering the entire panorama of the American past, from serrlement to hte twentieth century, their stories offer a freash way of thinking about America and its heroes, forgotten otherwise.                                                                                    At times it seems as if there are as many definitions of hero as there are heroic figures themselves. There are military heroes, political heroes, cultural heroes, folk heroes, and athletic heroes, and that doesn’t begin to exhaust the list. A hero exercises moral, ethical, or political building or rescuing comrades in battle. A hero “is a great human being.” A hero represents what a society  considers its best qualities at a given time, a model of behavior and character to which we aspire: “a jack-to loife people above where they would be without the model.” As Dixon Wecter put it in an influential 1941 book, The Hero in America: A Chronicle of Hero-Worship, “The hero is he whom every American should wish to be. His legend is the mirror of the folk soul.”                              Why do heroes emerge when they do? The most often repeated truism is that heroes are created by popular need. Those that are hero don’t expect to be called a hero. In this view, the reception that greeted Charles Lindbergh after his 1927 transatlantic solo or the adulation that surrounded Babe Ruth reflected the needs and aspirations of 1920s America. Similarly, the elevation of George Washington to mythic stature spoke to the values and needs of the early years of AMerican Republic, with a little help from Parson Weems, author of those legends like Washington’s throwing the silver dollar across the Rapahonnock and his cutting and manipulated by needy public?                                             Clearly there is something more at work. In contrast to celebrities, who are merely famous (in Daniel Boorstin’s deft formulation, “well-known for their well-knownness”), heroes have substance. They can be just as inspiring long after they have lived. We can peel away myths ans still admire them. I pray these articles some if not all of these heroes will inspire everyone in America. Ask yourselves if the same could be said of other well-known figures of hte past. There are many famous people in our history books but they fail to talk about the those people who has helped them get there. Who were famous but not necessarily heroic. Heroes have a special kind of staying power.                                                       As a general rule, it has proved easier to locate heroes in the past than to agree on who among contemporary figures is truly heroic. This is not to say that there is a lack of contemporary heroes. In fact, just the opposite is the case: there are too many. Perhaps out of an impulse to make people feel good about themselves, we anoint heroes constantly: (and that is a mistake. God is th only true Hero. He came to earth to save the humanrace from eternal death), the marine who eats bugs to stay alive for six days, the volunteer firefighter who rescues the child from the bottom of a well, the gymnast who ignores a painfully injured ankle to make the final vault for the gold medal. These are easy to spot but fleeting. Only rarely do leaders such as Vachlav Havel and Nelson Mandela so dominate their times that hteir stature as contemporary heroes seems destinate their times that their stature as contemporary heroes seems destined to be confirmed posthumously by history. The task of figuring out those lives among us are worth valorizing for the long haul is made even harder when an oversaturation of media images threatens to make us all candidates for our proverbial fifteen minutes of fame.                                                                                                                As we bestow the designatinn “HERO” indiscrminately, the term threatens to become cheapened, almost debased. This turn feeds into the often-heard lament that “heroes just aren’t what they used to be.” But it is wrong to pin thismood solely on our cynical times. Americans were saying the very same thing in the complacent 1950s, the debunking 1920s (which nonetheless had little trouble in instantly recongnizing Charles Lindbergh as a hero), and the war-torn 1860s. As Dixon Wecter put it, “Today seems always less heroic than yesterday.”        Many definitions of heroism set such high standards that only a tiny group of individuals could possibly meet them. (Abraham Lincoln comes to mind.) This book proposes a slighty more populist definition of an American hero, locating heroism and significance not just in political leadership or battlefield bravery (which are nevertheless well represented in the book) but also in the livers of ordinary individuals who made a difference to their times and our national history. That these contributions often went unrecognized does not diminish their heroic nature or significance.                                                                                    In a 1943 book, The Hero in History, philosopher Sidney Hook surveyed the various meanings and manifestations of heroism over the ages. In an attempt to sort through the verbiage on the subject, Hook drew a distinction between the eventful man and the event-making man. (This beingthe 1940s, those were the terms he used.) The proverbial eventful man is the boy who puts his finger in the dike and saves Holland from the flood. It doesn’t really matter so much whose finger it is: any number of Dutch citizens could have played the same role. The character is nonetheless eventful, for the action did change the course of future events. The event-making man, by contrast, takes a more active role in defining jis place in history, and his contributions are more dependent on his specific kind of character, whose individual actions are the result of superior intelligence, will, and character. Through his unique talents, he leaves a large imprint on subsequent event. This post will be full of event-making human beings, with a few eventful ones that changed America for good measure.                                    Having categorized heroes in that way, Hook warns against recognoizing onlhy a narrow range of excellence, if only because elevating so few so high makes the great mass of individuals appear as a “dual, gray average.” He then proceeds to offer a formulations of heores on history that comes closest to the spirit of God in their lives: “If, however, we extend social opportunities so that each person’s specific talents have a stimulus to development and expression, we increase the range of possibility of distinctively significant work. From this point of view, a hero is any individual who does his work well and makes a unique contribution to the public good [emphasis added].” Without going to far as to declare “Every Man a Hero,” in this post we will talk about heroism is acts of individual courage. We find it acts of insiring excellence. We find it in individuals whose politicalm cultural, or soical actions truly did make a difference to their society at large.          One prominent category of forgotten heroes in thhis colection is individuals who took a principled stand, no matter what the consequences. These acts of conscience or deeply held belief varied widely, depending on the person and the historical moment. Sometimes the motivations were religigious or ethical, such as Quaker Mary Dyer’s defiance of Putitan authorities in 1660 or actor Lew Ayre’s declaration of conscientious-objector staus during World War II. Other times the motives remain lost to history, such as what made an obscure drummer in New Haven named Robert Basset speak out for his politicasl rights in the 1650s. Often a specific event or moment in history called forth these principled stands, such as James Bayard’s brokering of the 1800 electoral stalemate, Nicholasa Trist’s defiant negotiation of the treaty that ended the Mexican War in 1847, and John McLuckie’s courageous stand in the homestead strike of 1892. During the repressive climate of World War I, Margaret Anderson risked jail to publish portions of James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses; in the 1950s a crusading newspapaer editor, Hazel Brannon Smith, supported the emerging civil rights movement even though it made her an outcast among her white Mississippi peers. Performed in vastly different historical periods and with very different results, each of these individual stands was in its own way heroic, then and now.                                                                                 A somewhat overlapping category is what can best be called heroic or up lifting lives: that is, heroism that is not restricted to a single moment or act but resides in a lifelong commitment to an ideal. President John Quincy Adams lived such a heroic or exemplary life, althrough he has been over shadowed by other members of his illustrious family; so did John Chapman, better known as the legendary Johnny Appleseed. The daily heroic struggles of African Americans for respect and dignity are well represented by former slaves Thomas Peters and Susie King Taylor, and sharecropper Ned Cobb. William Chandler Bagley never let criticism stop him from promoting his controversial views on American education; Samuel Seabury’s devotion to public service culminated investigations that brought down Tammany Hall in the early 1930s. Anarchist Carlo Tresca spoke out against fascism and communism; reformers Florence Kelley, Caroline Ware, and Pauli Murray dedicated their lives to social justice. So did New Dealer Edward Prichard (with one notable lapse). We learn from these heroic lives about the rewards (and costs) of single-minded devotion to a cause ro a belief, of obstacles faced and not always overcome. These models of engaed commitment are compelling.At first glance another group of characters included in this post may appear neither event-making nor eventful, but merely exemplary. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are properly celebrated as American heroes, but what about some of the lesser-known men with the expedition? In the case of George Drouillard, he was probably though of as heroic only by the few who knew him. Or, to take Stephen Jay Gould’s touching example, what about Dummy Hoy, an early deaf baseball player of exceptional but overlooked talent? By traditional definition, he would not qualify as a hero since the sportswriters of the day chose not to elevate him to that status. But in these cases and others, such as librarian J.C.M. Hanson and southern record Sam Phillips, the contributors to this post put forth their own arguments for a previouly unrecognized heroism that emerges when these characters are plucked from obscurity and their lives valued for qualities seen most clearly in retrospect or from distance.                                                              Then there is the category of female trailblazers and pioneers. While not all the women profiled in my post saw themselves as advancing the cause of women, they all had to buck or defy established gender definitions and expectations to do their lifer’s work, which adds a heroic dimension to their successes and struggles. Myra Bradwell was a pioneering lawyer who saved Mary Todd Lincoln from incarceration in a mental institution, Victoria Woodhull spoke out for free love in 1870s when such asubject was not considered fit for public discussion, and Emmeline Wells combined her devout Mormonism with support for woman suffrage and other reforms. In the early teentieth century, labor organizer O. Delight Smith battled the bosses while waging her own private battle for personal liberation, while Gerturde Ederle became a national hero swimming the English Channel. Prison administrator Miriam Van Wateers courageously defended her views when critics tried to dismiss her, and feminist Alice Paul soldiered on for the Equal Rights Amendment for more than five decades. These lives, along with the other women included in the book, confirm that an equal opportunity definition of heroism has much to offer.                                                       Finally there is the category of military hero. The Revolutionary War contributed Henry Knox, the Spanish-American War George Dewey ans Frederick Funston, and World War II the decorated combat veteran, Marine Sergeant John Basilone. Each served this country in time of war, won honor and recognition, but failed to maintain a hold on the collective national memory.                                                                                           These military heros remind us to pay attention to the other part of out title: Who gets forgotten, and why? Several of the stories present a fairly straightforward trajectory ofthe forgotten hero: sudden rise to fame and heroic stature, public acclaim and adulation, a cult of followers and fans, followed, sooner or later, by a falling out of piblic favor or disappearance from the public eye. The muddled attempts of Admiral George Dewey, hero of Manila Bay in the Spanish-American War in 1898, to translate his military fame into a political career led to the dramatic collapse of his popular following, to say nothing of his historical reputation. Gertrude Ederle came home in 1926 to a wildly enthusiastic ticker-tape parade but lived the rest of her life in obscurity. And the story of home-grown military hero Colonel Frederick Funston reminds us that some popularly acclaimed heros whose reputations fall into eclipse are perhaps best left forgotten.                                                              For the most part, though, the characters in our post were not kknown in their times, nor are they in ours. In many respects, thye are unsung or unrecognized heros as much as forgotten ones. The reasons for their absence form the historical reacords vary. Some were margibalized in history because they were on the losing side or were pushed aside by better-known comtemporaries; others were so controversial that they self-destucted and dropped from view. More to the point, until recently entire groups, such as women or African Americans, were not considered worthy of public acclaim except in highly exceptional situations.                                                                                                                                Tastes in heros change, and we cannot escape the fact the historians’ anointing of heroes, just as the public’s in general, is linked to the period in which we live A prime example is the large representation of women in this article more than a third of history is because some fourteen in all are women and other races are recoreded helping in our freedom and need to be written about. This is a start to show the participation in any comparable collection of heroes, a field whose very definitions and standards until recently were all male. In and odd twist, without hthese female heroes the men of our history of America may not of happened. It may be easier today to forget about the heros of yesterday because our schools do not talk about them. Women herosesare forgotten because women were so unfairlyexcluded from consideration in the first place.                                                                                          Recent trends in of writing about our women of war. Notably the rise of social history, of how women and other integrating ethnic and other American minorities, helped make expansive heroism possible. The contemporary approach, sometimes called “history from the bottom up,” actually dates to the 1920’s (cultural historian Caroline Ware, the subject of a chapter, was one of its early practitioners), but it found an especially receptive climate in the 1960s and 1970s. Social history is one, but by no means the dominant, branch of history included in this article. More traditional approaches, including a strong emphasis on political and diplomtic history, are also well represented. Politicains, diplomats, and military heros remain respected parts of our national heritage. They are joined in this article by a wider cast of characters who are true heros of our country. Heroism is all its diversity and heteogeneity over the centuries – old heroes and new, side by side, with neither supplanting the other.                                                                                  Every culture has its heros in our America history there are many collections of distinctively and wonderful heroes who built and risked their lives. It is hard to imagine such an eclectic mix coming out of our past wars with Germany’s past and China’s, or India’s. America is a constantly shifting, striving land of opportunitiies and second chances; the country’s deep-seated tradition of individualism has supplied fertile ground for soloists to buck the tide and heroes to rise above the crowd. While it is sometimes said that democracies have trouble choosing heroes, the American tradition of celebrating the self-made man (and, later, the self-created woman) gives lie to this. The individuals in this post made things happen;things that just didi’t happen to them. They made a difference. America has always looked up to these kinds of heroes, the movers and shakers, the doers and do-gooders. Let’s hope we always will.

Prayer is the Only Way Out!!!!

The World—Everything Is Different, but Nothing Has Changed

And the times are changing quickly. No one has any idea what the world will look like in ten years, let alone twenty or thirty. The rapid development of technology is more than we can take in. Those of us over the age of forty were born before the digital revolution really started. We’ve learned to use laptops, cameras, the Internet, and our personal electronic products, but it’s like learning a foreign language. But those under the age of forty have grown up with the digital revolution, and to them it’s their mother tongue. This has created the biggest generational gap since rock and roll.

Even greater is the moral generational gap. Those over forty in the western world grew up in a culture that still retained a semblance of its historic Judeo-Christian heritage. Our worldview contained some remaining vestiges of biblical truth. But our children are growing in an increasingly secular society.

But don’t despair. The things that matter most haven’t changed one iota. The little Book in my suit pocket is as unchanging as Him who is from everlasting to everlasting. That strengthens us whatever change may come.

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The World—Everything Is Different, but Nothing Has Changed
Where Do We Go From Here

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Many at Galatia had been influenced by the “Judaizers, ” Jewish Christians, or at least Christians in name, who sought to be justified through keeping the Law of Moses. But Paul tells them that the true function of the Law was not to save but to be a “schoolmaster” or “teacher” to bring them to Christ. Once they saw the impossibility of keeping the Law and the great culpability of breaking it, they would see their need to be saved by faith alone.

Lord, that schoolmaster (your Law) that revealed our need of a Savior is still revealing to us our shortcomings. As love is the fulfilling of the Law, and to love God and neighbor is the sum of it, we see the Law is a helpful guide for Christian conduct. Use it to test us and show us our flaws, then turn us by grace to the keeping of it through love. Amen.

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

To remove the curse of God for breaking his Law from us, Jesus took our guilt upon himself and suffered that curse in our place. God cannot demand “double payment” for sin, so that he cannot justly condemn those whose sins were paid for in full on the cross. That is why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

O Lamb of God, it is your blood that takes away the sin-debt of the world, even of every one who believes on your name. We could not bear the punishment of our sin, nor endure the day of God’s wrath against sin. We praise you for your work of love on the cross, where you redeemed us from the curse of the Law. Amen.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

It is in God’s design of things that children should grow up and leave the home. It is normal that they should go out and begin their own home. For our families to be strong and healthy, unlike the “fractured” if not broken families the world is so full of, husband and wife must remain in close, intimate union. And this union is a picture of the union between Christ and His Church.

God, help us to work at our relationships with others so that they will be all you intend them to be. Let my relationship with you be the foundation for a good relationship with spouse, children, parents, all family and friends, and every acquaintance. Amen.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; )

Perhaps the two sweetest words in the whole Bible are found here, “But God. ” In the verse just preceding, it is stated that believers were “children of wrath even as others” before their conversion. But God had a great love for them, which led him to “quicken, ” that is “raise to life, ” those who were dead spiritually. Paul then adds emphatically, “by grace you are saved. “

May we say with conviction, O Lord, that old Christian saying, “There, but for the grace of God, go I. ” May we recognize that it was your saving love that made the difference with us. We were dead to God, unable to respond properly to him. But your love laid hold on us, Lord, and you imparted to us life. And we know that yours is a love that “will not let us go.” Amen.

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

The Holy Spirit is here called the Spirit of Wisdom, using a grammatical construction that in the Greek indicates the Spirit is the “source of” or “giver of” wisdom. In 2 Timothy 3:15, we learn that the Scriptures are “able to make you wise unto salvation. ” When God opens our understanding to see the truth of the Gospel, he enlightens us and imparts to us wisdom to know and act on the truth. He then gives us hope of future glory and assures us of that hope by “the working of his mighty power” in us. That is the very power that raised up Jesus from the dead.

Open our minds more and more, we pray, to understand your truths. Let the “resurrection power” of God that raised Jesus Christ’s body from the grave raise up our spirits to live more and more a “resurrection life” of obedience to you. Amen.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Faith is a gift from God, but it is also a thing that we are called to diligently work at and improve. In fact, these verses on diligence are further informed by verse 10 of the same chapter where our diligence is said to be the means of making “our calling and election sure. ” That is, when faith, virtue (moral fortitude), knowledge (gained through experience), self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love abound in our lives, it is fruit of righteousness that helps assure our hearts that indeed we are God’s children and will enter his everlasting kingdom (verse 11).

Lord, we take seriously your command to strive diligently after godliness and all Christian virtues in our daily walk. We know that you do not desire our faith to remain “alone, ” but that it should be accompanied by all Christian graces. We are encouraged to know that you will help us and guide us as we grow in all of these areas, step by step. Amen.

But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

There will be days when you are tempted and days when you need protection, but you are a child of God. God will never leave you or forsake you – you will never have to walk through these challenging times alone. He is always faithful. He offers his protection and will help you stay away from evil. He has given you his Holy Spirit as a guide. Trust the Spirit to alert you when you have stumbled into trouble and call on him for protection.

Dear God, when I am fearful and need courage, I know you will strengthen me. You are always faithful and you will never leave me – thank you! Help me to trust you to guide me through difficult situations and protect me from any evil the evil one tries to use against me. O Lord, make my faith stronger so that I do not have a spirit of fear. Thank you for rescuing me time and time again. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

Isaiah was dirty and full of sin. He was unworthy to see God’s holiness. Then the heavenly being took a hot coal from God’s alter. He put it on Isaiah lips and his sins were taken away and cleansed. Similarly, Jesus cleanses us who have faith in Him. He cleanses us and He makes us pure. Jesus Christ is our only hope of salvation from our wickedness. He is the only way to the Father and to heaven. Do you have faith in Jesus to remove your sins? If you cannot confidently answer, think and pray about it. It is always better to be sure. It is okay to not be sure; there is no shame in that. Get on your knees and ask God to reveal Himself to You. Proclaim your faith in Him and give Him your life. This is the way to salvation from your wickedness, sin, and the punishment you deserve – that we all deserve, but Jesus bore.

Moses had brought the Israelites out of Egypt and now they were wondering if they were any better off! They had reached the Red Sea, and couldn’t see any way around this barrier that had been placed before them. But God knew what he was doing and Moses followed his instructions and the sea parted so that the Israelites could pass through on dry ground. A question sometimes asked at a job interview is, “What do you do when you face an obstacle?” How would you answer? Would you try to go around it, through it, or perhaps over it? Moses could not go around his obstacle and knew that without help, he could never bring all the people, animals and supplies through it. So, he asked God for help. Was that the first thing you thought of? There is a saying, “If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it.” The key here is to ask God to bring us through it.

We often face challenges in our lives, especially when we are trying to live as Jesus wants us to live. Have you ever been asked why you believe? If not you probably will be. It can be hard to find the right words at times, but God will give us the words if we ask. Just as he promised Samuel, Isaiah and the other prophets, he will not leave us on our own and will give us the words we need when we need them. The next time you meet an obstacle, let God lead you over, under, around or through it. He will guide us in the right way to go.

Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, He was prophesied about. That He would restore and bring life not break and ruin. That he would bring forth judgment on the Earth, and people everywhere across the oceans would listen to what He had to say. Now thousands of years later, people all over the Earth still listen to what Jesus has to say. Jesus is glorified through all history. People on every continent and in every country listen for His voice and read His Word.

Jesus, thank You for bearing the burden and punishment of my sins and wrongdoings. You are the only way to come to the Father and to everlasting life. I place my faith in You and You only. I believe that You, Jesus, are the Son of God. I believe in the Father and Holy Spirit also. I believe in the trinity and that the Trinity is one. I put no one else before You in my priorities. If You are not at my center, remove idols from my life. I place my life, faith, and trust in You. I repent from my wrongdoing, and I come before You in faith. My life is in Your hands. I come to You because You are gracious and let me call on Your name. Amen.

The first thing Andrew did when He found out Jesus was the Christ was to go tell his brother. Andrew went and got Peter and brought him to Jesus. Andrew could have been scoffed at or rejected by Peter if Peter did not believe Jesus was the Christ; yet, Andrew took him to Jesus anyways, and I’m sure he was glad he did. You have Jesus, and you love Him. Have you tried to bring your family to Him? Knowing Jesus is the only way to eternal life, wouldn’t you want to try your best to introduce Him to your grandparents, mother, father, brothers, sisters, and cousins?

Heavenly Father, give me strength and courage to introduce You to my family. They need You. I want to speak to them about You. Help me to tell them about You well. Help me to answer questions they have and to try to find them the answers I don’t know. Soften their hearts. Only You can bring them to You, so please do so. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Sometimes we grow weary as believers. Walking the road of faith gets hard. Other times it gets mundane. Sometimes doubt creeps in. We may even allow sin to fester in our lives and lead us to complacency and ceasing to listen to the Holy Spirit. But as believers, we can encourage our brothers and sisters to continue in the faith. Sometimes all someone needs is a reminder, encouragement, and support.

Heavenly Father, help my brothers and sisters. Give them strength and endurance to continue in the faith You called them to. Place people in their lives to encourage them. Bring them to a deeper love for You. Make them to feel Your presence this week. Let them remember why they first loved You. You are our great love. You are the worthiest of our love. You are worthy of more than we can give. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Father God, You sent Your son to the world to save us. He was with you in the beginning. People everywhere listen to His words. Jesus is amazing and true. Thank You for Your goodness, and that You build up and care for the weak. Help Your Church that is scattered all over the Earth. Unite us, Your Bride. Help us to glorify you and to proclaim Your gospel to the nations. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

When we reach a point of contentment, we are not moved by what another person does or does not have. Contentment prevents us from defining ourselves according to the world’s values. We become content through God, in whom we know we have everything we need. Eternal life, being the most important of it all.

Dear God, I thank you that I can be totally content in you. You have filled all the gaps and voids in my life. I know that I will never find contentment in this world; only in you and you alone. I pray that more and more of your children will come to realize this too, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Sometimes people tend to take God’s love and everlasting mercy as a way for them to continue living irresponsibly. When they are confronted about their actions, their response is “God loves me for who I am. ” Yes, he does, but our love for Him should compel us to be convicted of our sins and confess them to him. God won’t hold our sins against us; he is quick to forgive and swift to restore.

Dear God, once again I would like to thank you for your endless love and everlasting mercy. Father, I am sorry for any time I have taken you or your love for granted. If there has ever been a time where I tried to use the grace you have given so freely as an excuse to live irresponsibly, I humbly confess where I have erred, and I receive your forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Dear God, I pray for those who have chosen to turn from you. Lord, I pray that something in their hearts will make them change their minds about you. May they experience your love, Lord, in all its fullness and may they be compelled by this to know you more. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Someone once said that there are no u-hauls behind hearses. The implication is that you can’t take it with you when you die. There’s a story of a man who tried. When the doctors told him he had a short time to live, he converts some of this cash into gold bricks, puts them in a suitcase and instructs that this suitcase should be buried with him. When he approaches the pearly gates carrying the suitcase, St. Peter stops him and asks to look inside the suitcase. The angel Gabriel asks, “What’s in the suitcase?” “Pavement,” replies St. Peter. The story illustrates that in heaven what we consider to be wealth on this earth is really nothing. Heaven’s streets are paved with gold. That would be the equivalent of us finding some kind of value in asphalt or concrete chunks here on earth. We spent a lot of time trying to get things on this earth. We spend a lot of time working to get more and more and more stuff that we just don’t need. If you don’t believe it, take a look at what happens when a person dies without an heir. A lawyer has to come in, open up the house, and sell off all the belongs to settle the estate. Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of stuff–sometimes still in boxes–is sold for pennies on the dollar. An entire lifetime of obtaining things and the only thing that happens is that strangers come in to pick over the possessions a giant yard sale. This passage tells us that we are to be content with what we have. We should be content with food and clothing. As long as our needs are met on a daily basis, that’s really all we should ask for. Everything else is just bonus stuff and if we are spending time away from our families, if we’re spending time focusing on getting rather than focusing on living, then we’re being very foolish because we can’t take it with us. When the end comes, all the stuff that we bought stay right here our closets or our garages. While we’re on this earth we need to make the right choices and be sure that we are able to be content with what we have. Then we may end up with few things that we want.

Childbirth can be a painful experience. Even with the best pain killers available, the stress and trauma of childbirth cannot be lessened greatly. A mother giving birth may travail in labor for hours. Her contractions may be painful and the birth process may be grueling. In that period of labor, she suffers greatly. But as soon as she sees the face of that newborn child, all of that passes away. The suffering, the pain, disappears and is replaced by joy. Here Paul gives us a similar situation. Paul explains here that the Gospel has great power to sustain us in times of trouble. He was not talking only about the trials that Christians in his time had to endure, but the sickness, pain, and trouble that all Christians, throughout time would have to endure. He says that no matter how difficult the suffering in this world is, it does not even compare to the glory that awaits us in heaven. The glory that will be revealed to us is so great in comparison to the suffering that preceded it. We will forget our former trials when we get a glimpse of that glory.

We are children of God. Think about that for a minute. The God of the universe sent his son to be born of a woman on earth living under the law – a woman like us. He sent his son so that we might be free from this law – the law of sin and death. We are free because of his sacrifice, and we have been made sons and daughters of God through him. How amazing!

Paul cries out here in anguish over indwelling sin that remained in him. He longs for the day when he will be free fully from the power of sin. While we live, a conflict is in us between the old and the new natures. It is a daily battle. It does not end until we leave this world, but God can help us subdue the flesh and live increasingly out of the new nature.

Father, I thank You for being with me in my trials. I know that I will have to suffer some in this world and I know I will have to go through trials. I also know, however, that what will be revealed to me when I finally see You face to face will make it all worthwhile. My suffering will fade to nothing as I see the glory of Your face. Amen.

If we hate that which is evil, we will love that which is good. The two go together hand in hand. You cannot love God and love Satan; you cannot love God’s Law and also love the paths of unrighteousness. At least, your heart of hearts and your new nature from the new birth will seek what is truly good; the old nature will seek sin, but the Christian must subdue and overcome it. The age old question of who’s right! There’s a commercial for an automobile company that uses the slogan of “either/or, or both/and” that I kind of like. Not that I’m supporting the company, but because I believe we sometimes think in an either/or way when it’s really important to be a both/and kind of person. In today’s gospel, Martha is busy about hospitality and Mary extends hospitality in a quieter manner. We need both, and we need to be both. There are times when we need to be about doing what Jesus tells us to do, but if all we do is “do” and we don’t take the time to listen, we just might get it wrong. Mary sits and listens to Jesus while Martha feels overwhelmed with her tasks. When Martha complains, Jesus tells her not to be anxious and worried, and I think that here is the key. When we take the time to sit and listen to Jesus and then move on to follow the will of God, we don’t have to be anxious and worried; we can relax in the knowledge that we are doing our best, and that is what is required of us. Jesus doesn’t say that what Martha is doing is unimportant; he just seems to imply that she shouldn’t be so focused on her work, that she neglects her need for being present and listening. We, too, can be so busy doing that we forget to take the time to pray, to reflect on Scripture, to sit and listen to Jesus. During the sometimes lazy days of summer, let us take advantage of the laziness and just sit in God’s presence and reflect on who we are and who we are called to be, so that when the time comes to be busy again, we’ll be ready.

Micah is a prophet at around the same time as Isaiah and has come to prophesy punishment to those who are behaving in an unjust manner. Just because a person has the power or authority to act unjustly, doesn’t mean that he should. One might think that harassment or schemes to defraud people of their property or their inheritance, are something new, but Micah lets us know that these things have been going on since antiquity. God isn’t any happier today about these practices than he was then. Micah made known God’s displeasure to the kings and leaders of the day. He warns that their unjust practices need to stop and that the people need to repent or else they are leaving themselves open to attack by armies greater than theirs.

As we know, Assyria and Babylon both decimated Judah and Israel. Think about the Roman Empire, they too had fallen into such a moral decay that they were open to being overcome by Constantine. What about today? We have become lax in our time as well. Corporate takeovers that have little respect for the rights of the workers have become common. Even companies that have not been taken over have been known to change their policies and limit the benefits that their employees enjoy. Communities can take property away from individuals for schools, highways, shopping centers, by eminent domain and those who live on the properties are forced to move. Although owners are reimbursed, renters need to fend for themselves. Looking out for number one, whether personally, communally or nationally can lead to ignoring the essentials and there is nothing to stop others from overcoming us. As Micah says, we need to work for justice if we want peace. And so still today, the Jewish people celebrate Passover and one of the traditions is for someone to ask why we celebrate this feast, and the youngest child answers with the story of the Passover. Jesus was celebrating Passover with his friends on the night before he died. I know this reading comes up during the summer, so it’s not the time for Passover, or the Passion of Jesus, but I have a question. What are our traditions surrounding the passion and death and resurrection of Jesus? Do we celebrate the end of Lent on Holy Thursday? Do we spend time with Jesus on Good Friday remembering his sacrifice? Is Easter all about candy and the Easter bunny? Today, many of our churches are practically empty on Easter Sunday and the children think more about an Easter egg hunt than God. Would the youngest member of the family be able to tell the story of why we celebrate? God brought the Israelites from slavery to freedom at the original Passover, but Jesus brought us from the slavery of sin and the freedom to celebrate eternity with him in heaven. One was temporary, the other is permanent. Why is it that we take this celebration so lightly? Even though it’s summer, let’s take a moment to think about how the story of our faith is being passed on to our youth.

God’s name as it is written in Scripture is either Jehovah or Yahweh, or just YHWH. All are translations of He is Who He is. Because the Jewish people did not call God by the name he gave Moses. It is for this reason that the Jewish people were so angry when Jesus said that before Abraham came to be I AM. To say God’s name was to blaspheme. For the people of Moses’ time, names had power. They felt that to use the name of God was to say that they had power over God, and so the name was sacred. I can remember an uncle of mine who would often take not just the Lord’s name in vain when he was angry, but would also use it to curse whoever he was angry with. I’m sure you know many people who do the same without even blinking an eye.

Good Christians, all, who would be horrified if they were called on it. We are offended when people use foul language, why are we not offended when the Lord’s name is taken in vain? A friend of mine used to work in the office of a major manufacturing company and the man who sat behind her was continually cursing the company and its managers. One day she had had enough and turned to him and said, “No wonder the company is going to pot, you keep asking God to damn it.” He had never considered that he was both swearing and cursing, but he stopped. What about us? Do we need to clean up our speech, or ask other to do so? How do I praise God? God doesn’t want an animal sacrifice he wants a sacrifice of the heart. He wants a joyous heart, a heart that bursts into song because it can’t help itself. A heart so full of gratitude that song is the only way a body can express it. I love music; I love to sing the songs of praise in church. I might not have the best voice but it’s the one God gave me so he must think it’s good enough. There is something about music that lifts the soul. It’s no wonder that the psalms are music. In fact, this psalm even tells us which piece of music to sing it to – “Lilies!” When we think about it, some of the most glorious music was written for religious reasons: Handel’s Messiah is but one example. When we listen to the anthems of many nations, we see how they give thanks and praise to God. Whether we raise our voices in song or not, what is important is that we raise our voices in thanks and praise to God. Our prayers acknowledge that we know who is in charge, to whom we owe everything and who deserves our praise.

Lord, I pray for the older people who do not know You. I pray they will find Your love and joy. Let them lean on You for strength and understanding. Help them to smile and live out the remainder of their days for You. Get them the word if they don’t have access to it. Bring Christians into their lives to speak life into them. You are the God who cares for the young and old, weak and strong, rich and poor. Bless our elderly and help us honor them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The writer of this Psalm desperately wanted God to show His strength through him, an old man. He wanted everyone to know God’s power. As we grow old, we can still show God’s strength. As we become weaker, we can proclaim how strong He is. Do not lose heart as you grow old. The retired missionary now goes door to door to preach even though he’s walking slowly. The woman who started doing jail ministry long ago is often decades later faithfully visiting the jail. Whatever God is calling you to, God is greater than your age.

Lord, as I grow old, let me still serve You faithfully. When I’m weak, help me to show others Your strength. Through wrinkles, let others see the joy on my face that comes only from You. Even if I’m moving slowly, let me still move for You. I will gladly do Your will until my last breath. If I’m on this earth, You have me here for a reason. I will continue to live for You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We were all introduced to our savior, Jesus Christ, through someone else. When we truly understand salvation, it is not enough for us to simply receive it. In our excitement, we will gladly go tell others about this miraculous savior. The prophet describes how when a city came to know the Lord, they rushed to pray and seek God so that they could go to another city to share this good news. The Word tells us we are commissioned to tell others the good news – let us go quickly!

We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour His Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour Him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.”

Do Catholics worship Mary?

No, Catholics only worship the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It would, in fact, be sinful to worship Mary. Theologians call divine worship latria, or the adoration due only to God.

However, in English the word worship is equivocal. In Britain it is often used of high personages, with the meaning of revering or honoring them due to the dignity of their office. David gave such honor to Saul, for example, because God had placed him as king over Israel. Such “worship” is derivative, sourced in the Father, as St. Paul taught (Eph. 3:14-15), analogous to that which the Decalogue commanded for parents (Ex. 12:20; Dt. 5:16).

Unfortunately, the English word “worship” doesn’t convey the subtlety of the Latin used by the Church, and in the United States is reserved for God. The Church’s theological term is dulia, from the Latin word for service. It is the reverence and respect owed to all the faithful servants of God (Mt. 24:21-23), the angels and saints whom God Himself honors with crowns of glory (Prov. 16:31; 1 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet 5:4; Rev 4:4). We honor them and, in turn, join with them in honoring God, the source of all holiness (Rev. 4:9-11).

Yet, Mary is not just any other saint. She is the Theotokos, the God-bearer, or Mother of God (Luke 1:43; Council of Ephesus, “Against Nestorius”). She is the true Ark of the Covenant who carried the Word Himself, the Bread of Heaven, and the Good Shepherd (Heb. 9:3-5; Rev. 11:19-12:1). The Archangel told her that she was “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), and Elizabeth, moved by the Holy Spirit, called her “blessed among women” (Luke 1:42).

For all these reasons and more, the Church renders to Mary an honor that is greater than is given to all the saints and angels, termed hyperdulia, or the greatest honor. Yet, it is not still that adoration, latria, which we give to God alone, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I am sharing ‘The God’s Testament with you: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

God’s miraculous deliverance of Daniel from the lions in the lions’ den where he had been cast for worshipping the true God opened Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes to whose God was God. And he even issued a decree that all men in his vast kingdom give homage to the God of Daniel. Daniel’s faith and refusal to cease his regular daily devotions had resulted in the knowledge of God being spread throughout the land.

This verse tells us that “all things work together for the good of those who love God.” If we love God, then we live in obedience. The “all things” refers to the providence of God and all the things that relate to Him: His Holy Spirit, His love and mercy, His truths, etc. All of these things come together for our good if we love God and show that we do by our behavior. But it’s not only required that we love God, but that we are called according to His purpose. This refers to the purpose that God has set before us. He calls us to a specific purpose in this life. As long as we are obedient to this purpose, to His call, then all of His resources come together for our good. This is a very encouraging scripture to let us know that, if we follow the will of God, everything will be okay with us. More than okay, actually. They will be “good,” because God is on our side.

Jesus tells us that the golden rule sums up the law and the prophets. Jesus is also telling us that we shouldn’t try to take the easy way out. From the time a two or three year old figures out that disobeying mom or dad brings punishment, he also figures out ways of trying to get away with it. The child will lie or hide or blame a sibling or the family pet! Unless this behavior is caught and the children learn that they can’t get away with it, they will continue this pattern. It can be very tempting to take the easy way out. This is not what we are called to do. We are called to take the narrow path, doing the right thing. We all get upset when we hear about hit and run accidents, but it’s hard to own up to something if you think you won’t be caught, especially when it could be expensive We choose the easy or the narrow path just about every day. Some decisions are easy, some are not. Do you waste time on the phone or on a computer searching websites or playing games when you should be working? See, what I mean? Students today are told they need computers for research that will enhance their learning, but some take advantage and their research trying to find papers that they can claim as their own. Jesus knew us well, and has given us fair warning. We should listen.

We need to be on the lookout for those who would lead people away from God by pretending that they are leading them to God. We have seen this happen several times in very public and tragic ways, but it can happen in less public ways as well. The world was horrified when they learned of the mass murder/suicide of over 900 people, one third of them minors in Guyana in 1978, and again of the destruction of the compound in Waco, Texas where over 70 people died. Both of these tragedies occurred because the leaders of the cult claimed to either be a god or be God’s messenger or Messiah. There have been many other cults operating with less destructive results. Preying on loners or immigrants, the leaders promise security here and eternal life if only you follow them. They don’t say that you are following God, but you are following them because they are the only ones who know the way! By their fruits you will know them. These people ask blind obedience, work to separate people from their families and friends, and often demand a certain percentage of income. This doesn’t sound like Jesus to me. Paul never demanded obedience to himself, in fact, he said just the opposite to the Corinthians. John the Baptist said that he wasn’t the one and pointed to Jesus. We have been warned by Jesus to look at those who claim to be prophets carefully and judge by their fruits. If they are more interested in leading us to themselves instead of to Jesus, we must beware.

Again we have a prophet spreading God’s message of love, begging the people to admit their wrongdoing, and sincerely repent and turn back to him. When you read the Old Testament, you start to wonder if they will ever learn. I wonder what historians one hundred years from now will say about us and our behavior. Will they read the New Testament and find remnants of Christian groups and compare their behavior with the Bible, and find us worthy of the name? I’m not so sure. Not only is there a lot of what I consider very un-Christian behavior by individuals but also by Christian groups towards one another. Perhaps we should reread Joel and the messages given by some of the other prophets and take these messages to heart. God wants us to turn to him. He wants us to take responsibility for our actions, and ask forgiveness so that he can forgive and renew us. God isn’t looking for grandiose exhibitions of repentance, but a sincerity of heart. It’s how much we are willing to change our behavior. It’s how welcoming we will be to the stranger, how much we are willing to help others to grow in their faith as well as how willing we are to grow in our own.

Let us not, O Lord, underestimate what you can do in us and through us. We do not know all of your purposes for us, but we know that nothing is too hard for you to do. We pray for the steadfastness of soul to continue to pursue knowing you even in the face of resistance and the faith to believe that your Word planted deep in us can strengthen us for even the most difficult tasks. Amen.

GOD CAN SHIFT YOU FROM WAITING ON IT TO WALKING IN IT!

If God has asked you to lay something down or pick something up — I promise you that in due time you will see the fruit of that decision. You will never ever regret obeying Him no matter how extreme, crazy, hard or illogical it might look. — it’s worth it every single time! Before […]

GOD CAN SHIFT YOU FROM WAITING ON IT TO WALKING IN IT!

And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. Ezekiel!

In this passage, we see a God who is not too happy with His chosen people. Because of their disobedience, they have blackened the name of the Lord. His reputation has been smeared among the heathen people of the area. He tells Isaiah to give His people a message: that He plans to restore His own name. He will ensure that these people know that He is God. Wow! Wouldn’t it be an awful thing to let God down in this way? To “profane” His name among His enemies? Sadly, we do the same thing when we don’t give Him the honor that is due Him while we are among his enemies in the world. When we allow people to speak against Him, or when we fail to lift Him up in their presence, we blacken His name. We cause Him to have to “vindicate the Holiness” of His own name, because we have refused to make His name holy. What a dreadful and treacherous decision! To put ourselves is such a position is a foolish thing indeed.

The entire book of Romans 8 about the assurance of salvation. Every Christian wants to be assured that he is actually saved. Many people wander around “in the flesh” believing that they’re saved, but if they read this chapter, it becomes the actual measure of salvation. It is a really good chapter to read if you want the assurance that you are indeed saved. This particular verse says that those who are walking in the spirit of God are the sons of God. If we’re led by the Spirit of God, what does that mean? What Paul is trying to tell us here is that if we are walking in the spirit of God, then we are actually going to kill the sin in our lives. We’re going to want it dead in order to please God, to glorify Him. You see, people who are not in the spirit, who were still walking in the flesh don’t really want to kill their sin. People who lie don’t want to stop lying; people who gossip don’t want to stop gossiping. If they do put on some semblance of killing their sin, it’s just so they’ll look better– not because they want to please God, Paul tells us here that if we truly want to be the sons of God, the children of God, then we are going to be led by the spirit. So one assurance of our salvation is this: we ask ourselves the question, “Am I trying to kill my own sin because I want to please God?” If the answer to that question is “yes,” then you are the child of God. That is evidence that the spirit lives in You because only the spirit in You would want to put an end to the sin in Your life. If you want assurance of salvation, look within to see what your motivations are for ending your own sin.

Father, I want to make Your name Holy. I want to be Your champion and tell the world of Your goodness and righteousness. Help me not to cower in the face of Your enemies, but to stand up and defend Your honor. Help me to be strong, even when I am afraid of the adversaries around me. With Your help and with Your power, You will never have to clean up a mess I have made of Your name. Amen.

Ruth was a virtuous woman (in the Hebrew, a “woman of strength”). She was willing to endure hardship and face an uncertain future in this life for the sake of taking care of her mother in law who had shown kindness to her and to be true to her God. May we learn from her good example and not let trying circumstances cause us to cease to follow you, Lord. Amen.

Ruth had every reason, humanly speaking, to leave her mother in law Naomi as her sister Orpah had just done, but she would not do it. Why? It was because of more than mere social and emotional attachment, and it certainly was not for any financial gain. In fact, she faced the possibility of being a social outcast in Israel and of remaining unmarried for life, wheras she could easily find a new husband in Moab. But Ruth would not go back to the old gods and old ways of her past. She steadfastly clung to the Lord Jehovah, having been converted to Him in her heart.

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Ruth

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 1:4

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

But if ye will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers.

Famine, war, captivity…these are all the consequences of rebellion the people of Israel experienced. The Old Testament has example after example of the Lord turning his hand against those who did not obey him. It can be easy for us to judge these Old Testament citizens, but if we look closely at our own hearts, we will see that there have been times when we have disobeyed and rebelled against the Lord’s commandments. Rather than judging the Old Testament body, we should use their experiences as a guide. Rather than continuing in sin and having God subject us to his wrath, we should seek his face.

The early Christians were known by the example they showed in how they loved one another. In this short passage, we learn that they shared what they had so that no one went without. If we read further in chapter 4 we hear of how they sold their possessions and turned in their monies so that the apostles could distribute it according to one’s needs. Does this sound like the Christians of today?

Actually, it does describe Christians living in the poorer countries of the world. Many missionaries have described the welcome they have received and the good will of the people in the poor countries where they have served. I experienced the same on a mission trip to Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. In the wealthier countries, keeping what they have seems more important than sharing with others. People are willing to donate what is not longer useful, clothing they have outgrown, furniture they need to replace, other items they no longer have room for, even cars that no longer work. But, are they willing to rent an apartment at a lower rate so that a poor family can live safely? They might rent to a low income family but usually with a government subsidy so they don’t lose any money. The rich can seem to feel that it’s their right to keep whatever they’ve earned – which is not actually wrong, but what of their responsibility to help the needy?

In the Gospel, Jesus points out clearly talks about our responsibility to the poor and the vulnerable, a preferential option for the poor. What about us?

Often we focus on the great, unearned, unlimited mercy God has shown us. Now we need to consider how we have shown mercy to others – and maybe even to ourselves! Where do you have a problem with being merciful? It could be with forgiveness, compassion for those who suffer from addictions, or who beg, or we might not be welcoming to the stranger. Each of us has a problem with someone or something. I worked in retail during high school and college and then married into the world of retail. One of my problems is having patience with store salespeople who are rude or who don’t have a clue about the products they are selling. I try. There are members of my family who don’t speak to one another. I know people who are so unforgiving that it interferes with their relationships.

God is merciful to us when we don’t know what we’re doing. He sends us help when we are lost. He forgives us over and over again. I also know people who continue to carry their past mistakes with them to the point where they can’t move forward in their lives. God has forgiven them, why is it that they can’t forgive themselves? Today, think about the areas of your life where God has shown you mercy, and then look at the areas where you need to pass that mercy on to someone else – or maybe decide that it’s time you put down your own baggage and forgive yourself. With God’s help, we can grow in our ability to share the mercy we have been shown with others and so relieve them of some of the pain they may be carrying.

Each time the Lord saved them, they poured out their thanks and let everyone know what God had done for them. It is now the Easter season, and we need to be just as enthusiastic in our thanks and praise as the Israelites. If they were grateful for the victories won for them, how much more should we be for Jesus winning the victory over sin and death. This is a battle that has won a victory for all people for all time. Never again will this battle have to be fought, and we didn’t have to fight it, Jesus did it all. There is a hymn that I’ve sung every year at the Baptist church during the celebration of the Seven Last Words on Good Friday that is called just that: “Jesus Did it All.” Not only did he do it all, but by his resurrection he let us know that the victory was won, the gates of heaven were opened and the power of Satan had been defeated. All we have to do is live each day following in the footsteps of Christ and accept the gift we have been offered. Why do we hold back? Do we take our faith so for granted that we no longer feel the need to say thanks? This year, let it be different and let those around you know of your gratitude for the victory won for you and for them.

Isn’t it amazing that God has the power to do great things through us? He pours His Spirit out and through Him alone, men and women are able to do things that they could never do apart from God. God can do anything. He has the power to move mountains, to speak His words through Humans, and to do great works in and through us. God is truly amazing!

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

Here Jesus talks to His Father one of His final prayers on this earth. In this verse, He refers to the work He has completed. He knows that His time on earth has come to an end. He has reviewed His life and He says, essentially, “Father, I’ve done the best I can. There is nothing more for me to do here. I’ve prepared them as well as possible. It’s time to do this thing I came here to do.” And with that, it begins. The greatest act of love known to mankind is about to unfold.

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

One of Kari Jobe’s most famous songs is “You are for Me.” Based on this passage, the song emphasizes the love of a God who is faithful on our side. No matter what goes on in our lives, He is there. Paul makes an important argument here: God gave His own Son for us. How can He not be on our side? He chose us. Every decision we make, every step that we take, God is with us. He sees our going out and our coming in. He sees when we fall and when we fail and He still is on our side, with unconditional love. It doesn’t matter what the world has said about us. It doesn’t matter what we sometimes say about ourselves. He, the Lord of All, is for us. He’s in our corner and with God in our corner, who dares to be against us.

Lord, I thank You for what You did for me at Calvary. You gave Your life for me. You loved me unconditionally. You suffered and died for me. Help me to be worthy of Your sacrifice. Amen.

Dear God, you are holy and you are jealous. When we are tempted to disobey your commands, remind us of the Israelites and the ways they suffered because of sin. Remind us that sometimes we must be disciplined to learn a lesson, but help us to learn this lesson from those who went before us rather than having to walk through it ourselves. Forgive us for our sins, O Lord. Do not turn your hand against us. Please extend mercy on your children. In Jesus’ name, amen. Lord, I believe that You have the power to do mighty works in and through me. I believe that You work through Your Church in mysterious ways. I give my life to You to do whatever You want in and through me. You are mighty and wonderful. Your ways are mysterious, and I praise You for Your great works. In Jesus’ name. Amen. Father, I know that You are for me. I know that You have my best interest in Your heart. You gave up Your own Son to give me life and I thank You. If You are for me, then no one can be against me. Amen.

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