Christmas Memories – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceChristmas Memories

Christmas – a time filled with memories. Some memories are wonderful and some, not so much. Regardless of past Christmas memories, perhaps this year we can use Christmas to create new and even more beautiful memories. In order to do that, we must start by examining why we celebrate Christmas at all.

Spiritual Quote

“Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued.”
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Theologian

Planned Scripture

1 John 4:9

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We Gather Together – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceWe Gather Together – Introduction

Thanksgiving is a time when families gather together and celebrate all for which they are thankful. Though each of us has our struggles, we all have so much for which to be thankful. Individually and collectively, we are truly blessed!

Spiritual Quote

“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”
~G.K. Chesterton

Thoughts

This Thursday is Thanksgiving. It’s a national holiday here in the United States. We set aside time and we gather together with friends and family. We decorate our homes, and we may set a beautiful table. And, for many, we prepare a traditional meal – turkey (or, like me, homemade Tofurkey), stuffing, sweet potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and, of course, pumpkin pie. But, how many of us know where and how it all began?

A Little History

Thanksgiving proclamations had been made by the church in many nations for centuries. In the United States, before there was a United States, Thanksgiving was celebrated on various days of the year and, when states were formed, each set its own day of celebration. The fourth Thursday became the customary day for celebration in most states at the beginning of the 19th century (early 1800s). For 40 years, author Sarah Josepha Hale wrote letters to politicians trying to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. In an effort to foster a sense of unity between the Northern States and Southern States, President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be observed on the last Thursday in November. Reasoning that an earlier celebration of the holiday would give the country an economic boost, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day to the fourth Thursday of November on December 26th, 1941.

It’s interesting to me that this appears to be the first introduction of commercialism set around Thanksgiving. Notice the reasoning and the timing. Changing the date would provide an economic boost – providing one additional week to the Christmas shopping season. And the joint resolution was signed the day after Christmas.

Thanks Be To God

From its beginning, Thanksgiving has been not just a day on which we gather together with family and friends to have a special meal. It was a day set aside to give thanks to God for all of the blessings in our lives. Days of Thanksgiving have always been a part of the church. Proclamations have been made in all faiths and all religions to set aside feast-days for Thanksgiving.

Though not the first of such proclamations, almost 400 hundred years ago, in 1623, three years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth, Governor Bradford made the following proclamation:

“To all ye Pilgrims,

Inasmuch as the great father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, squashes and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the raids of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Plymouth rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

Is it right that we gather together, celebrate, and give thanks for the blessings in our lives? Absolutely. Of course, Scripture reminds us that being thankful isn’t something reserved for one day a year. Ephesians 5:19 & 20 says, “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Notice Paul’s points – Praise and Thanksgiving…Continually. When he speaks of psalms, and singing hymns, he’s not talking about a church service; and he’s not talking about going about our day setting our conversations with one another to song. He’s talking about maintaining an attitude of the heart – “from the Spirit.”

An Attitude of Gratitude

We’ve all heard the saying before – “an attitude of gratitude.” Are there attitudes that inhibit or detract from our gratitude? Yes!

One thing that can steal away our gratitude is a prideful attitude. When we start thinking that no one ever gave us anything, we’ve had to work or study hard for everything we’ve ever gotten, and when we feel like we have no one to thank but ourselves, we lose sight of God working in our lives. We become focused on self, and we don’t recognize the blessings that we’ve received, or how others have helped and influenced us.

Another attitude that can steal our gratitude is when we adopt an attitude of complaining. My mom had a saying – “he’d complain if they hung him with a new rope.” We all know people who, no matter what they have, or what they’ve accomplished, simply aren’t happy unless they have something to complain about.

When we spend all of our time focused on what we don’t have, we lose sight of what we do have.

It reminds me of the Israelites in the wilderness. They were wandering and they were hungry. God provided manna. At first they were thankful, then they began to gripe and complain because it was the same thing over and over and over – every day. A complaining attitude literally stole their attitude of gratitude.

And that complaining attitude leads me to yet a third attitude that can steal away our gratitude – greed. Some people, no matter how much they have, or what they’ve achieved, always feel as if they need, or are entitled to, more. Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting more – unless it gets in the way of being thankful for what we already have.

Want to begin living a life filled with gratitude? Start by simply saying “Thank you” – and mean it. Two simple, yet powerful words. Let me share a little story…

            Rudyard Kipling was a great writer and poet. Unlike many old writers, Kipling was one of the few who had opportunity to enjoy his success while he lived. He also made a great deal of money.

One time a newspaper reporter came up to him and said, “Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over a hundred dollars a word; Mr. Kipling raised his eyebrows and said, “Really, I certainly wasn’t aware of that.”

The reporter cynically reached down into his pocket and pulled out a one hundred dollar bill and gave it to Kipling and said, “Here’s a hundred dollar bill, Mr. Kipling. Now, you give me one of your hundred dollar words.” Mr. Kipling looked at that hundred dollar bill for a moment, took it and folded it up and put it in his pocket and said, “Thanks.”*

If we simply start and end each day with a “Thank You” to God, what a difference we would make in our lives. As go about our day, we should learn to recognize reasons to express our gratitude to God and to others. As individuals, as a community, and as a nation, we have so much to be thankful for. And we should strive to never lose sight of the many wonderful blessings we have in our lives. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” and Psalm 107:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

A thankful heart is also good for us – spiritually and psychologically. Luke 17:11-17 tells the story of Jesus healing ten men with leprosy – “Now on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met Him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then He said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Of ten people healed, only one came back to say “thank you.” And Jesus’ statement to him, “your faith has made you well,” speaks to the man being made whole – not just being healed physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

Renowned physician and endocrinologist, and the world’s foremost authority on stress, said, “Among all emotions, there is one which, more than any other, accounts for the presence or absence of stress in human relations: that is the feeling of gratitude.”

Be Diligent

How can we maintain this attitude of gratitude? By being diligent. For example, many of us say a prayer of thanksgiving before our meals. While thanking God for the meal, also give thanks for all those involved – the growers, pickers, packers, shippers, and merchants. Give thanks for the prosperity created along the way. And, thank God for the prosperity that enabled you to purchase the food; as well as the hands and mind to prepare it.

Continually find things for which to be thankful. At times, we may not have much, but we can always find something for which we can give thanks.

I’ve been working with the Homeless Task Force. The more I learn about homelessness, especially as we enter what is likely to be one of the coldest winters in recent history, the more I realize just how much we take for granted:

  • When you woke up this morning, in the comfort and safety of your home, were you in a warm bed?
  • If your home was a little chilly, could you turn on a heater?
  • Were you able to make a pot of coffee?
  • When you turned the handle on the faucet, did you have water on demand?
  • When nature called, did you have indoor plumbing?
  • Were you able to bathe and/or shave – with plenty of hot water?
  • Were you able to brush your teeth?
  • Did you have clean, dry clothes to put on?
  • Even if it’s not the newest, coolest model, whether car or bicycle, did you have transportation?
  • Do you have internet access, cable or satellite, etc. – all on demand?
  • Did you have at least one hot meal yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that?

Be diligent in your thanksgiving. Every day when you wake up, say a little prayer of thanksgiving that you’re waking up in a safe, comfortable, warm place. Every night before you go to sleep, say a little prayer of thanksgiving that you’re not going to bed hungry; that you’re safe, comfortable, and warm.

And, when troubles come, continue to be thankful. In Ephesians, Paul reminded us to always be thankful. Remember, Paul suffered terribly. He was persecuted, chased out of town, whipped and beaten, thrown in prison, naked, cold, hungry, shipwrecked, and even stoned – all because of his faith. And yet, he never stopped being thankful. It’s not that he was thanking God FOR his troubles. He was thankful IN THEM – thankful that God gave him strength to endure them. We, too, have that assurance.

Closing Thoughts

We all have so much to be thankful for. We’ve just grown so accustomed to having it that we take it all for granted. And so it is, at this time of year, we gather together as family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. We should be thankful each and every day. But, it’s also good to take this time each year, as a nation, and collectively observe a day devoted to being thankful.

In our hustle-bustle lives, we tend to forget the meaning behind the holidays we celebrate. They become an excuse for a day off (unless you’re in retail). When I was in my corporate career, our company took a Thanksgiving recess – closing down on Friday in addition to Thursday. For many, Thanksgiving was and is the day that launches the Christmas shopping season.

Just as we talk about getting back to the meaning of Christmas and the reason we celebrate, or Easter, or any other holiday, I’d like for us to get back to the basics – and to celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”

We can all have “enough” – as our quote says – by accumulating more or by desiring less. It’s a matter of perspective. The key is, no matter what, to remain ever thankful.

This week, as we gather together to celebrate, let’s all take time to think about all of the wonderful gifts in our lives. And, as Governor Bradford said almost 400 years ago, when you sit down to your turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie, remember to thank God for His abundant blessings.

*Acknowledgement – SteveMalone/SermonCentral

Scripture

  • Ephesians 5:19 & 20
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  • Psalm 100:4
  • Psalm 107:1
  • Luke 17:11-17
  • James 1:17

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We Gather Together – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceWe Gather Together – Introduction

Thanksgiving is a time when families gather together and celebrate all for which they are thankful. Though each of us has our struggles, we all have so much for which to be thankful. Individually and collectively, we are truly blessed!

Spiritual Quote

“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”
~G.K. Chesterton

Potential Scripture – Still Working

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Our Power Source – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceOur Power Source – Introduction

Many things need a source of power in order to work. Candles need fire. Light bulbs need electricity. We, too, need a source of power. Our source of power comes from the Holy Spirit. Just as we strike a match to light the candle, or flip the switch to turn on the light, there are steps we can take to activate the Holy Spirit as our power source.

Spiritual Quote

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.
~Buddha

Thoughts

Let me share a story. (Judges 13-16)

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, a boy was born. His parents named him Samson. Samson was a Nazarite, an Israelite who was consecrated to the service of God. Nazarites abstain from alcohol, may not cut their hair, and must avoid defilement by contact with corpses.

As he grew into a man, Samson lived by the vows of the Nazarites. He became strong and powerful – he tore a lion apart with his bare hands, and killed numerous enemies single-handedly. At one point he killed a thousand men with nothing but the jawbone of a donkey.

As time went by, he fell in love with a young Philistine woman named Delilah. The Philistines hated Samson. So, the lords of the Philistines instructed Delilah to find out the secret to Samson’s strength so that they could kill him. Three times she tried to trick Samson into telling her the secret, and three times she failed. Then, Delilah tried one last time – and Samson gave in. He told her his strength came from his hair and that if it should ever be cut, he would lose his power.

Delilah informed the lords, and when Samson had fallen asleep, she called a man in to cut Samson’s hair. When the Philistines came in to take him, his strength had left him. Taken prisoner, Samson was tied between two pillars in the Philistine’s temple. With a last burst of strength, he pulled the pillars down killing everyone in the temple, including himself.

Where did Samson go wrong? Samson had separated himself from God. He killed out of sport. He kept secrets from his parents. He looked to the Philistines, the enemies of the Israelites, for a wife. He slept with a prostitute. He took Delilah, a Philistine, for his wife. The Philistines were the very people from which he was to lead the Israelites to deliverance. He chose to kill numerous people – even stripping them of their clothes.

Remember, as a Nazarite, he had vowed to never touch a corpse. His actions moved him further and further away from God.

The Spirit of God had left him, he just didn’t know it. He thought his strength was in his hair. He confused the symbol with the source. His hair was a symbol of the Nazarite vow – it was not the source of his power. The source was the Holy Spirit. Zechariah 4:6 says, “…This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

Our Power Source

We, too, have the power of the Holy Spirit to fuel us. When we accept Christ into our hearts, and we make the choice to live our lives following Him, His Spirit lives within us. Acts 1:8 tells us, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” Acts 6:8 reminds us, “Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.”

If we want the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us strength, we must do those things that move us toward God, not away from Him. And there are some steps we can take…

  1. We can stay close to God. We can start and end each day reading Scripture and spending time in prayer. We can reflect on the blessings we have received. Our lives have become so scheduled – we schedule time for work, time for play, time with family, time with friends. We must remember to schedule time with God, too. And, when we pray, we should always state our desire to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
  2. We can develop friendships and relationships with people who help us live a Christ-filled life. Psalm 1:1 advises us to be careful in our relationships, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.”
  3. We must resist the temptations of those things that move us away from God – evil, anger, gossip, vengeance, lying – anything that is not born of love.
  4. We must live with wisdom. When we read Scripture, we gain knowledge. When we pray and meditate on Scripture, the Holy Spirit provides understanding. We gain wisdom when we then use that knowledge and understanding, putting it into action at the right time and in the right way.

Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures forever.” As a note – in Hebrew the word translated as ‘fear’ is ‘yirah’. In its negative, it means terrified. But, in its positive, it means worship and revere. So, this Psalm could be read, “Worshiping and revering the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”

Final Thoughts

Truly, the Holy Spirit is Our Power Source. As Jude 1:20 reminds us, “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit…,” we are built up, we are strengthened, when we pray in the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit guiding us, there is nothing we can’t accomplish.

In closing, I’d like to share these words from The Daily Word, “…Our creative power is fueled by the life force moving in and through us, which we direct with our thoughts, words, and actions. I apply my creative power every time I think and speak. My choices shape my reality. I choose to use my spiritual faculties to create good, attract abundance, and establish peace. I promote peace in the world through my calm thoughts, words of conciliation, and constructive action. All true power emanates from the love of God within me, and I receive it with humility and gratitude. As I express God’s power in me, I create a better world.”

And so it is…

Scripture

  • Judges 13-16
  • Zechariah 4:6
  • Acts 1:8
  • Acts 6:8
  • Psalm 1:1
  • Psalm 111:10
  • Jude 1:20

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Our Power Source – Quote

 

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceOur Power Source – Introduction

Many things need a source of power in order to work. Candles need fire. Light bulbs need electricity. We, too, need a source of power. Our source of power comes from the Holy Spirit. Just as we strike a match to light the candle, or flip the switch to turn on the light, there are steps we can take to activate the Holy Spirit as our power source.

Spiritual Quote

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.”
~Buddha

Potential Scripture

  • Judges 13-16
  • Zechariah 4:6
  • Acts 1:8
  • Acts 6:8
  • Psalm 1:1
  • Psalm 111:10
  • Jude 1:20

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Join us Sunday for worship and fellowship

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Veterans Day – Teaching

Eagle_FlagVeterans Day – Introduction

Tomorrow, November 11th, is Veterans Day – a day set aside each year to honor all veterans who have bravely served our country. One of the debates within Christian circles is whether or not Christians should even join the military or participate in war. Today, I’d like to examine some of the arguments from both sides of the debate.

Spiritual Quote

“This will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”
~Elmer Davis

Thoughts

Veterans Day, unlike most holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day, which are celebrated on a fixed calendar day, is celebrated every year on November 11th, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. Question – does anyone know why?

President Woodrow Wilson made the proclamation that established the first Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. The date was chosen to commemorate the armistice that ended WWI, which was signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In his proclamation he said, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

On June 4th, 1026, Congress passed a concurrent resolution asking President Calvin Coolidge to issue another proclamation to observe November 11th with appropriate ceremonies. Later, on May 13, 1938, a Congressional Act was approved which formalized November 11th as a legal holiday: “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”

Raymond Weeks, a WWII veteran from Birmingham, Alabama, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrat5e all veterans, not just those who had died in WWI. In 1945 he led a delegation to General Dwight Eisenhower, who also supported the idea of a National Veterans Day. Though Mr. Weeks led the first national celebration in Alabama in 1947, and every year thereafter until he died in 1985, it wasn’t until 1954 that Armistice Day became law. Representative Ed Rees from Kansas presented a bill to establish the holiday through Congress; and now President Dwight Eisenhower, signed the bill into law on May 26th. On June 1,1954, Congress amended the act replacing “Armistice” with “Veterans.”

Though tomorrow is officially Veterans Day, I’d like to take a moment during today’s service to thank and pay tribute to all veterans. As most of you know, military veterans and their families hold a special place in my heart.

My paternal grandfather fought in WWI, my step-father fought in WWII, my father fought in Korea. Though no immediate family served in Viet Nam, I do have relative who fought there. More recently, my son has deployed to Kyrgyzstan and Iraq four times, and my niece has deployed to Afghanistan twice. Of course, I have numerous friends who have fought in various wars as well.

Many of you, I’m sure, have also had family and friends who have bravely served our country. At this time in our service, I’d like to light a candle in honor and in memory of those who served and of those who continue to serve.

Should Christians Serve?

As I was doing research for another topic, I came across several websites which spurred the question, “Should Christians even serve in the military?” As you might imagine, both sides offered plenty of scriptural evidence. Most who would say “no” defer to the passive side of Jesus’ message of love. Often quoted are the scriptures we’ve talked so much about before – thou shalt not kill, turn the other cheek, don’t return evil for evil, love your enemies, etc. It’s important to keep in mind though, that these scriptures had a definite meaning in the time they were written. Two common scriptures quoted are Matthew 5:44 (…”However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you.” and John 113:34 & 35 (“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”

First, it should be noted that the original text for “thou shalt not kill” actually read, “thou shalt not murder.” Killing and murdering are two entirely different acts. Second, many of the other scriptures were meant to address how people were to live together as a community. Jesus wanted to change the “eye for an eye” mentality and the endless cycle of tit-for-tat “defending the family honor.” He wasn’t speaking about protecting ourselves, our families, our communities, or our nation from violence. Think of it this way…you’re walking down the street with your 15 year old daughter. A guy grabs her, drags her to the ground, and begins to assault her. Jesus was not saying, “hey, just stand there and let him rape her…it’ll all be ok.”

On the other side of the argument, you have scriptures like Ecclesiastes 3:8 (“A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”) and Hebrews 11:34 (“become valiant in war, putting to flight the armies of foreigners”.) And, of course, in the case of a draft, Romans 13:1 tells us that we are subject to the governing authorities – so, if the government enlists us, we must serve.

Just War

For centuries theologians have debated this subject. And, everyone knows that many wars have been waged by and between Christians. St. Augustine developed what’s become known as the “Just War” criteria. War must be…:

  • Just in its overall intent – the intent must be to restore peace
  • Just in its object – to vindicate justice
  • Just in its disposition – waged in love
  • Just in its auspices – waged under properly constituted authority
  • Just in its conduct – adhering to certain rules of combat, like the Geneva Convention today
  • Members of the clergy are not to fight at all
  • Wars are never to be waged with joy and thanksgiving, but in a mournful mood

Additional factors that have been added are:

  • War should be a last resort
  • War should be waged with the probability of success
  • War should not produce even greater evils than those being fought

What’s the Answer?

In the final analysis, to me it comes down to personal choice. No matter where we stand, we can find scripture to validate our position. Our duty, as Christians, is to respect each individual’s decision.

This is, once again, one of those areas that point us directly back to Paul’s words in Romans: (15:5) “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus…” and (14:1) “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”

If a Christian man or woman feels called to serve in our military, we should honor them and bless them. Likewise, if a Christian man or woman feels strongly that he or she should not serve, and should not fight, we should honor and respect that decision as well.

Closing Thoughts

Should we fight like heck to urge to use violence? Absolutely! We should avoid violence whenever we possibly can. But, in hopefully rare instances, justified and proportionate violence in response to another’s violent act or acts may be perfectly acceptable. Whether or not to participate is a matter of personal choice – for Christians and non-Christians alike. We must honor and respect each individual’s right to make those choices for themselves.

Personally, for a number of reasons, I have never served in the military. At one time, not so long ago, I did investigate the possibility of entering the military as a Chaplain. Unfortunately, I was over the age limit. (Of course, this was a great relief to my son. Chaplains are officers and he certainly didn’t want to have to salute his own father!)

I have tremendous respect for those who serve. And I respect their families for their service and sacrifice as well. It’s not easy being a family member of someone in the military, much less a family member who has to send their loved one off to war.

I haven’t served, and am too old to serve now. I am, however, the proud parent of a son who has served for over a decade. I am thankful for those who have served, and those who continue to serve – both Christian and non-Christian. I am proud to have a son in the United States Air Force, and a niece in the United States Marines. They have taken a pledge to protect our country and, especially on the battle field, to protect one another. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to be with my son each of the four times he has deployed. I’ve been able to meet the comrades, as well as those in command. In every instance it was abundantly clear to me that they truly embrace and live John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And the certainly deserve our honor and respect.

Scripture

  • Ecclesiastes 3:8
  • Romans 13:1
  • Hebrews 11:34
  • Romans 15:5
  • Romans 14:1
  • John 15:13

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Veterans Day – Quote

Eagle_FlagVeterans Day – Introduction

This Monday, November 11th, is Veterans Day – a day set aside each year to honor all veterans who have bravely served our country. One of the debates Within Christian circles is whether or not Christians should even join the military or participate in war. This week we’ll examine some of the arguments from both sides.

Spiritual Quote

“This will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”
~Elmer Davis

Potential Scripture

  • Ecclesiastes 3:8
  • Romans 13:1
  • Hebrews 11:34
  • Romans 15:5
  • Romans 14:1
  • John 15:13

Join Us

Join us Sunday for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Our Strength in Weakness – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceOur Strength in Weakness – Introduction

We may not always want to admit it, but we all have weaknesses. Sometimes, those weaknesses are so powerful we feel we have no strength to control them. And, in the powerlessness of our weakness, we may feel separated from God; we may even feel cut off from God’s love. In reality, though, we are never cut off from His love. And, when we turn to Him for guidance we will find He was, is, and forever will be – Our Strength in Weakness.

Spiritual Quote

“We can be tired, weary and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength.”
~Charles Stanley

Thoughts

I’m going to preface today’s message by saying I’ll be drawing heavily from two sermons found on SermonCentral. When researching today’s topic, I came across the two sermons, and found them to be inspiring. They approach the subject from different angles, so I’m using aspects of both to create one message for today. I’ll be posting the links to our blog so folks can read the entire sermons.

We’ve talked before about God being our strength in weakness in times of hardship and sorrow. We’ve all faced things like the death of a loved one, major illnesses, loss of a job, troubled relationships, etc. In those times in our lives, we may feel abandoned by God. And, we’ve talked about how God’s love is absolute, and how we can be a source of strength in those times. Even in our times of questioning and doubting, God, through Jesus, loves us. Looking to Romans 8:39 we read, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul’s words are absolute, nothing can separate us from God’s love that we find through Jesus.

Today, though, I’d like to take a look at a different type of weakness. Not weakness born of fear, hardship, or sorrow. Most of those are results of external forces. I want to talk today about weaknesses of an internal nature. Though different, they are no less impactful and doubt-producing. And, again, we all have them to one degree or another.

For instance:

  • Some of us may be weak when it comes to food, in that whenever we find ourselves hungry, we will try to eat up everything in sight.
  • Some of us may be weak when it comes to alcohol or drugs, in that, whenever we find ourselves being offered some, we don’t have the urge to say no.
  • Some of us may be weak when it comes to controlling our anger, in that, when somebody says something or does something that we don’t like, we want to haul off and hit them in the mouth, or cuss them out.
  • Some of us are weak when it comes to handling our money, in that when we get our paycheck from our job, instead of using it to pay our tithes, instead of paying our bills, and providing for our families, we go out to the casinos and gamble our money away, or buy something that we really don’t need, or max up our credit cards.
  • And last but not least, some of us are weak when it comes to women or men, in that, we feel like we have to sleep with every woman or man just to feel satisfied.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we even have some weakness within the church – the Body of Christ. Instead of loving and praying for one another, we find ourselves fighting and fussing with one another. Instead of forgiving one another, we find ourselves being bitter and hating one another…Instead of being happy when somebody gets blessed, we find ourselves being jealous and envious. Instead of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, we find ourselves spreading malicious gossip about each other.

Yes, all of us have some weakness of some sort. The bible does say in Matthew 26:41 that we must “watch and pray that we enter not into temptation, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” No matter how smart we may think we are, no matter how much money we may have in our pocket or in the bank, no matter how many degrees we may have earned, no matter how long we have been involved with the church, and no matter what we may have done in the church, we still have some weakness in our life that we have to deal with. But we don’t have to let your weakness get the best of us. We don’t have to let our shortcomings get the best of us. We don’t have to let our faults, our bad habits, or our personal issues get the best of us because there is someone who can help us over come our weaknesses.

There is someone who is able to help us overcome your shortcomings. There is someone who can help us over come our faults, our bad habits, and our personal issues. And that someone is Jesus Christ, who is our strength to help us overcome our weakness, our shortcomings, our faults, bad habits, and our personal issues.

Let me share a few Scriptures…

  • Isaiah 41:10  “Fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you…”
  • Psalm 27:1 “…The Lord is the strength of my life…”
  • Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
  • Psalm 118:14 says, “The Lord is my strength and song and he is become my salvation.”
  • 2 Samuel 22:33 says, “God is my strength and power and he maketh my way perfect.”

How do I draw my strength from Jesus?

Based on the Scriptures we’ve just read, it’s clear that the Lord is our source of strength. The question then becomes, how? How do I make Jesus my strength? First, we have to learn to trust and to be patient. And, once again, Scripture can point us to the answers we seek:

  • Isaiah 26:4 says, “Trust in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”
  • Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…”
  • Psalm 27:4 says, “Wait upon the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.”
  • Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him…”

Psalm 37 is one of my favorites. “Be still” it says. That’s the key. When we’re tempted to give in to our weakness, we can find the strength to overcome the temptation by stopping, getting still, taking some quiet time in prayer, and letting His Spirit guide us.

It doesn’t matter what the temptation is; whether it’s to take that drink, gamble, spend unwisely, speak or act rudely, or to act on sexual impulses – if we stop, take a deep breath, and put the question to God, He will lead us to the right action.

When we have Jesus Christ as our strength in weakness, we can say Philippians 4:13 with confidence where it says, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” That is to say…

  • Through Christ, I can find strength to love my enemies, and to love one another because it is Christ who strengthens me
  • Through Christ, I can find strength to forgive those who hurt me because it is Christ who strengthens me
  • Through Christ, I can have peace in the midst of a storm because it is Christ who strengthens me
  • Through Christ, I can have joy in the midst of sorrow because it is Christ who strengthens me
  • Through Christ, I can testify about the goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ because it is Christ who strengthens me
  • Through Christ, I can overcome those who lie on me, despitefully use me, slander my name, or spread malicious rumors about me because it is Christ who strengthens me
  • Through Christ, I can overcome any addiction, any faults, any bad habit, or any personal issues because it is Christ who strengthens me
  • Through Christ, I can support my church and my pastor, because it is Christ who strengthens me
  • Through Christ, I can reach my goals, and achieve my dreams because it is Christ who strengthens me

Through Christ we can do all things because it is He who gives us the strength to do all things, for Greater is He that is in you than he that he is in the world. No matter what we may be going through, just know that we are going to make it because it is Christ that strengthens us.

Jesus strengthens us by the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 3:14-16, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of who the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.”

Conclusion

Through Christ and the Holy Spirit we find strength to overcome any weakness.

Does this mean that when we falter or stumble God no longer loves us, or that Jesus will abandon us? Absolutely not! It is when we stumble that we learn, we grow, and we strive to do better. We don’t have to be perfect. In Hebrews 13:5 we are promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”; and, in Matthew 28:20, “…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We experience God’s grace and we find perfection through Jesus. Remember, the Apostle Paul says that he prayed to God three times to take away the thorn that was bothering him in his flesh. But God said to Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness. It is God’s grace that gives us the strength to go in the name of the Lord…

  • Despite of the circumstances we may go through
  • When we are going through the storm
  • When our friends forsake us
  • When we are faced with life’s trials, tribulations, tragedies, and temptations
  • When people are talking about us, falsely accussing us, and spreading malicious gossip about us
  • When we are in pain, even if it seems like all hope is lost, and we can’t seem to find our way

No matter what we may be going through, just know that we can find strength in the Lord to move on with our life and make better choices to receive the blessings that He has for us, and to claim the victory over our weaknesses. And so it is, through God, through Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit we find – Our Strength in Weakness.

Scripture

  • Romans 8:39
  • Matthew 26:41
  • Isaiah 41:10
  • Psalm 27:1
  • Psalm 46:1
  • Psalm 118:14
  • 2 Samuel 22:33
  • Isaiah 26:4
  • Isaiah 40:31
  • Psalm 27:4
  • Psalm 37:7
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 & 10
  • Philippians 4:13
  • Ephesians 3:14-16
  • Matthew 28:20
  • Hebrews 13:5-6

Sermon Central Links

Link One

Link Two

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Our Strength in Weakness – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceOur Strength in Weakness

We may not always want to admit it, but we all have weaknesses. Sometimes, those weaknesses are so powerful we feel we have no strength to control them. And, in the powerlessness of our weakness, we may feel separated from God; we may even feel cut off from God’s love. In reality, though, we are never cut off from His love. And, when we turn to Him for guidance we will find He was, is, and forever will be – Our Strength in Weakness.

Spiritual Quote

“We can be tired, weary and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength.”
~Charles Stanley

Potential Scripture

  • Romans 8:39
  • Matthew 26:41
  • Isaiah 41:10
  • Psalm 27:1
  • Psalm 46:1
  • Psalm 118:14
  • 2 Samuel 22:33
  • Isaiah 26:4
  • Isaiah 40:31
  • Psalm 27:4
  • Psalm 37:7
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 & 10
  • Philippians 4:13
  • Ephesians 3:14-16
  • Matthew 28:20
  • Hebrews 13:5-6

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