America, America God Shed His Grace on Thee

“America the Beautiful” was written by Katherine Lee Bates in 1893.

Of course, it goes without saying that, the things going on in our country at that time were very different from the things going on now. Yet, these words are still full of meaning and should evoke great emotion from those of us privileged enough to live in this great country.

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O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

 

As election day draws near, PRAY for our nation as individual citizens voting and for those in leadership. America is truly the only nation ever founded by citizens desiring religious freedom to practice Christianity. How much greater than any other nations demise might America’s be if we do not turn back to the God of our forefathers and founders and cry out for Him to save our nation?!

God, please shed your grace on America!

(If you have never seen the movie “Monumental” by Kirk Cameron – it is a must-see!)

“My spirit faints…breathe and infuse me with encouragement, Lord!”

This is my ongoing prayer during this chapter of my life. I am quite certain that many of you can identify with the need to pray this also.

“Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.” Psalm 143:4

This verse comes from a chapter where David is being pursued by an enemy. He is literally, and figuratively, at the end of his human strength. I would not presume to believe that my situation is nearly as dire as his because my personal safety is not at risk…but the fact still remains that ongoing major stresses in life can cause my spirit to faint. I have had many times when my throat tightens, tear well up, my heart begins to race and I just want the situation to pass as quickly as possible.

Fainting is a temporary thing! That is the first good news. As believers in Jesus, our souls may faint in the moment – but they do not expire.  …take some time to take that in fully.

The Lord is our encouragement when our soul faints. We do not have to conjure up the strength to encourage ourselves. I can attest to the fact that self-talk to encourage myself it rarely successful. However, when we allow God to breathe and infuse encouragement into us, it is always successful!

How is “breathe” different from “infuse”?
Breathe in this context is not inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. Rather it is a transitive verb meaning “to send out”, as in God sends out His encouragment and we are the recipient of that encouragement.
Infuse is also a transitive verb meaning “to cause to be permeated with something (such as a principle or quality) that alters usually for the better”.

So, although “breathe” is a beautiful word that brings to mind relaxation, joy, peace and – in this case – encouragement… I believe “infuse” gives a better word picture of how God brings encouragement to you. Since infuse means to permeate or be saturated with something outside of ourselves – an infusion of God’s encouragement ALWAYS alters us for the better. It is a literal taking over of our faint spirits via permeating encouragement!

Join me as I pray to – speaking figuratively – wallow (indulge in an unrestrained way) in God’s mud puddle until our spirits are revived!

 

God’s Timing

one-o-clock-12596455I have a confession to make… I still get puzzled and frustrated with God’s timing in my life!  It shouldn’t surprise me that I get puzzled because, as a created being, I will never fully grasp His consummate timing. And, the reason I get frustrated with His timing is because I often think more of myself, the creation, than God my creator!

“Sometimes God will make you wait on purpose, not only so you will know it was His favor, but so all of your critics, friends, relatives and coworkers won’t be able to deny what God has done in your life.”

This quote was recently shared by someone I follow on Instagram and it spoke to me, because most of it is true. I was definitely disappointed to find out that this is something Joel Osteen said, because I don’t agree with much of anything he has to say, but there is truth in this quote and that is what I want to focus on.

I have only two choices possible when God says “wait”. The first is to whine and wimper and act like a spoiled little child whose daddy has told me I can’t have a toy I want at the toy store. The second is to stay on my knees before my heavenly daddy in humbleness welcoming His answer… whether that be “wait”… or “no”. (This is part of the quote that is not truth, because God doesn’t always only make us wait. Sometimes His answer is a definite “no” but even that answer is His favor!)

Favor refers to “an act of kindness beyond what is due”. The creator of the universe, and my creator, take the definition of this word to a new level because His favor toward me is not just acts of kindness, but rather acts of mercy and grace unmerited by me. Sending His one and only son to die and pay the penalty of sin for me is the greatest of all these acts, but He shows me ongoing mercy and grace everyday. Sometimes I am not aware of His favor and other times I am so aware of His favor that I can only cry out “God thank you!”. So, my re-write for the first part of this quote would be “Sometimes God will make you wait, or ask you to accept His “no” response on purpose, not only so you will know it was His favor, but so that…”

The rest of the quote is spot on, but knowing Joel’s teaching I am presuming the focus is in the wrong place. God knows that every part of His plan for your life will be a witness to God’s glory to everyone in your life.

However, to see the glory of God, the focus needs to be on GOD and what HE has done in your life – not on YOU and what he has done in YOUR life.

Last week our pastor spoke of the encounter Mary and Martha had with Jesus after the death of their brother, Lazarus.  In John 11:40, just before He raised Lazarus up from the dead Jesus said “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” The focus at this point in the story was definitely not on anyone except God and what He was doing.

When God is at work in your life “… our critics, friends relatives and coworkers won’t be able to deny what Almighty GOD has done, is doing and will do in your life.”

Glorifying God is our chief mission according to the Westminster catechism. God will be glorified in us, despite us.

Sometimes God will make you wait, or ask you to accept His “no” response on purpose, not only so you will know it was His favor, but so that… your critics, friends relatives and coworkers won’t be able to deny what ALMIGHTY GOD has done, is doing and will do in your life.” – re-written by Carin Hansen

May this bless you as much as it has blessed me to break this apart and digest each part. What A God We Serve!

Aglow and Burning with the Spirit

Romans 12:11 “Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.” Amplified Version

Yesterday I picked up my Bible and began reading the twelth chapter of Romans.  When I got to this verse, I found myself touched and energized by these words.  It was a Monday morning and I knew it was going to be not only a busy day, but a busy week.  Yet these words blocked all responsiblities and duties from my mind for a few moments.  I think that recent events in America made these words jump off the page at me like never before.

Like I said, it was the beginning of a busy day – and week, so I haven’t gotten to spend anymore time meditating on this verse.  That is why I thought I would do that with you in this post.

Asburning-heart a visual learner, I found this photo a great example of what being “aglow and burning with the Spirit” would look like if I could see it in the visible world.  Fire is fierce and powerful, mesmorizing and beautiful as it licks up the oxygen that fuels it.  When combining the two and giving it a spiritual meaning, it becomes a picture of fiercely standing for Biblical truth while serving the Lord in beautiful love.  The two cannot be separated if my zeal and earnest endeavor is to be effective.

Never “lag” brings to mind one exerting energy, wearing out and slowing down.  Earnest endeavors are those that require ALL of me.  All my heart, soul, mind and strength.  The challenge Pauls give me is to not only never lag in my earnest endeavor of sharing and showing Jehovah God – but to get brighter, hotter and more on fire as I serve the Lord.  What an incredible challenge – and one that I can never do in my own strength.

As I ponder the meaning of this short verse, I am rocked by its impact on me.  My understanding of my own frailness is overwhelmed by the the incredible ability of my Lord Jesus Christ.  “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”  That is the old King James version of the verse.  Most modern translations use “who” instead of “which”.  I am not going to debate whether one is more right than the other – however, it is quite obvious that the phrase “I can do all things through Christ” means it is He who strengthens me.  To think of the verse using “which” instead of “who” points me to the fact that because I can do all things through Christ then I am strengthened in my weakness because I understand it is all about Jesus and NOT ME!

Holy Spirit – I pray – be aglow and burning in me as I serve the Lord in Your strength.   Then I will never lag in zeal and earnest endeavor fiercely standing in truth and love.