How precious is the gift?

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours” 2 Peter 1:1-2 (NIV)

Conversation with God….
I was talking with the Lord one day when I suddenly realized that I do not remember what it was like not to have Him with me. What I mean is the moment you are saved your body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit. I was saved at the tender age of 6, so, since then I have had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit living on the inside of me.

When I walked away….
Don’t misunderstand me. I know what it is like to walk away from God but HE NEVER LEFT ME! Like I said, I was saved when I was 6 years old. A marvelous day it was and I will never forget it. Unfortunately, as I grew up, the experiences of life and the pain it brought started to lure me away from my love of God. I questioned the character of God. I started to question if there even was a God. When I turned my back from the Truth of who God was and what His Word said I opened the door for more pain than I could ever imagine. I walked into a lifestyle that I thought would help stop the pain but it did just the opposite.

The Holy Spirit was with me….
The Holy Spirit was there every step I took; urging me to turn back to God. “Urging” is too light a word. The pain of my sin before me was so great but instead of repenting I tried to mask that pain as well. Hide it! As if anyone can hide from God. It was an ugly, vicious cycle I found myself in.

Those who bear witness….
When I would be dragged to church (yes, I mean literally dragged) the hand of the Lord was so heavy upon me that I wanted to run. I felt discomfort like I had never felt before. So, what did I do? I would like to say at this point I turned from my sin but I didn’t. I did the what a lot of us do. I avoided church.
Whenever I was around Christians who lived a godly life there was the hand upon me….pressing. I wish I could tell you that I learned from their example and repented. I didn’t. I determined in my own heart that I hated Christians.
I do want to make this one thing known. At this point in my life I had many people around me who called themselves Christians. These Christians lived the same as I did and I never felt the Holy Spirit convicting me of my sin when I was around them.

Repentance equals Freedom….
Fifteen years I played this cat and mouse game with God until I could play no longer. I was tired and there was no more fight in me. I collapse on my face before my Savior and poured all the garbage before Him. All those years I was searching for freedom from all the years of pain and I found it in those few precious moments. God is so patient with us. He was so patient with me. The very thing I was running from should have been the thing I was running to. I was free.

Our faith is precious….
That decision I made so long ago was the best decision I will ever make in my lifetime. Although, at the time I did not know it. I did not value my salvation, my relationship with Christ as something to be valued; precious!
As the realization fully came to me I was in awe. I have never NOT had Jesus with me. The Holy Spirit constantly convicting me of my sin because He knew God’s plan for me and it was so much better than the way I was living.
Oh, precious ones, how I have to rejoice and praise the Lord for the gift of my salvation. It is so very precious!

Digging Deeper….
There is a spiritual lesson to learn here.
Why do you think it was so easy for me to walk away from God?
Dig into the Scripture and see what it says about “falling away”. Hint: Look up Hebrews 3:12-13. See what the Scriptures say about “soil” in Mark 4.

Application….
Do you see yourself in any of these passages of Scripture? How about when you read about the soil? Are there any changes that you need to make in your life? Any sin to confess? Maybe, beloved, it is you that have turned from God and desperately want to be whole again. Turn my friend. Don’t wait as I have done. I wasted so many years. Jesus has His arms wide open waiting for You. He can wash you clean. Run to Jesus. His gift of salvation is precious.

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Happy Independence Day!

“I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, a democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; establish upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.
-Written 1917, accepted by the Unites States House of Representatives on April 3 1918.

“-that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
-excerpt from President Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863, The Gettysburg Address.

I remember when I was in Elementary School I had to memorize The Gettysburg Address. It was a daunting task and I hated every minute of it. Little did I know that I was reciting one of the most important address’ in our nation’s history. As we celebrate this 4th of July we must remember the men and women that came before us to ensure our freedom. I think maybe the reason we are losing our freedom and this great country is changing so drastically is because we don’t take the time to remember. Not only that, how can we remember something that we don’t know? Many of us do not know basic US History.
I am no exception. I was given, not too long ago, a list of questions that every American should be able to answer. I wish I could tell you that I knew even half of them. I wish that I could be so proud of myself and say that I knew a quarter of them. I maybe could with confidence answer five! I am embarrassed to say, but yes, five.
The state of our country reminds me of a great nation in the bible. Particularly, the nation of Israel. They were slaves in Egypt, oppressed beyond what any human should be and cried out to God for a deliverer. God through His mercy and grace sent them Moses. Moses went up against the evils of the government with His God at His side directing all of his steps. God spoke, Moses listened, Moses obeyed. The Pharaoh did not listen. His heart was hardened along with his servants and those around him. Why would God allow the top leader of this country to have a hard heart? Why would He allow His people to be under such oppression? In Exodus chapter 10 I believe we have the answer.
“…that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.” (vv1b-2).
He says the same thing in verse 9. “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that My wonders will be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”
God did these things and allowed certain situations to take place so that they would know that He is the LORD. Scripture also tells us that the mockery of the Egyptians was supposed to be told to the next generation and the generation after that. This they did not do.
Let us look at Judges chapter 2 verse 10. “All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.” I think this is one of the saddest verses in the bible.
I think we can easily draw a comparison from the Israelites to our present day in America.
“It is my duty to my country to love it”
It is hard to love a country that we don’t really know or understand the very fabric that it was founded on. The Israelites children cannot know a God that they are never told about.
“To support its Constitution”
Many people would say, “What is that?” Many of our politicians and justices would say the same thing. For the Israelites God’s Word is Truth and the way that they would pass down that Truth would mostly be from oral communication. Bottom line is that they weren’t passing on the message of God.
“To obey its laws”
This is why it is important to put people in power that believe in the biblical truths of the bible so that the law does not become corrupted. The Israelites were told over and over again to love the LORD there God with all their hearts, mind, soul and strength and to obey His commandments. If they didn’t know the LORD how can they obey Him. They were given the law so they would recognize there sin and their need for a Savior. He gave us Jesus. Jesus did not come to abolish the law, He came to fulfill the law.
“To respect its flag”
I remember after 911 seeing all of the flags on everyone’s vehicle. There wasn’t any place you went that did not have the flag proudly displayed. Did you know that if there is no wind and the American flag cannot fly freely in the wind you are to take it down? It is a symbol of freedom! God’s Word to the Israelite was there freedom. It was instruction and guidance to right living. He would warn do not turn to the right or to the left. Why would He say that? So, that they would not turn their hearts away from Him. It was freedom He was trying to show them but they chose bondage.
“Defend it from all enemies”
The flag, freedom or both? I’d say both. Enemies can penetrate the United States by the people not having knowledge of the foundation this country was founded on, the sacrifice that was made for us, the laws that are supposed to govern and protect the people, and the symbol that represents who we are. If we don’t know or respect any of these things we may end up sleeping with the enemy. Like the Israelites who allowed an enemy into their camp so have the United States. It is the root of Pride.
Let us go back to Judges and look at the 17th chapter. I believe that this makes things very clear concerning our own situation in America. “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” (v6).
Our standard should not be “what is right in his own eyes” but what is right in the eyes of God. God’s Word. God should be our standard. His principal, His gospel, His Son. The gospel is so valuable that many men and women have died so that you and I can have the opportunity to know the One that wrote it. Jesus is our standard. He is the Word of Truth. He is the one that died for our sins so that the enemy of our souls does not rain victorious over our lives. That is unless we allow him to. Men and women have died for this country so that you and I can experience the freedom of worshiping our God, the only true God, without government interference, without being told that when we pray do not use the name Jesus. There were two precious men who were told that in the book of Acts. The first martyr of our faith, Stephen. He would not keep quiet about Jesus and either should we.
So, as you are roasting hot dogs, grilling hamburgers, hanging out with friends and family and shooting off fireworks, please remember this. We cannot forget what this country was founded on, biblical truths. We cannot forget the lives lost for our nations freedom and our spiritual freedom. We must not allow our children to grow up in a United States that once was.