How many times have we sung this song and wondered, what it meant to our lives and how it's going to affect our lives in the future? The song was the introduction to a TV show called “In Search of the Lord’s Way.” The speaker for many years was brother Mac Lyons, and then brother Phil Sanders. Many great lessons were heard from these two men. In these troubling times, we had no idea that our worship would be challenge by our government. We were told we could not meet together, we complied but were fed by Matt’s great lessons on YouTube. After three months, we were told you can again be together but only one hundred at a time. We did cut fellowship time down, but we did worship. All this time following the rules set down by the government. Then we were told we should not sing, God said sing and that is what we did. Ephesians 5:19 “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”
This past week we were told not to use the inside of the building, another attempt to stop worshiping God. But the Lord is much more powerful than any government, so God gave us a way. The Lord gave us a drop-off area, a natural amphitheater. What a wonderful worship we had. When we put God first, He will find a way for us to worship Him. We all need to remember the church is US and not the building. Maybe it’s a lesson God wants us to relearn.
The Lord will find a way for us to follow Him. The Psalm of David should give us the strength. We need to allow the Lord to show us the way.
Psalm 23:1 & 2
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
The Lord will find a way
Sometimes we can act in a way that might make our brother or sister stumble. When Paul writes his letter to the Corinthians, he answers the question that sometimes might be hard to understand. He deals with our conscience and the people we are around. Why is one’s freedom limited by another’s conscience? The answer is love. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says this about love - “does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.” Love does not act rude. Love is courteous and has manners. Love is not offensive to others, it is tactful and polite. These are always part of a Christian’s behavior. Love does not insist upon its rights. Love is unselfish. Love is happy in the happiness of others. Love seeks the best interests of others.
Why am I writing these things about love? The answers is, because we are family. We get things done when we are united as a family. We have no time to look for bad because we are the family of God. It is an amazing thing that happens when a family is united in love. Great things can happen.
In the period of time we are now in, dealing with corona virus issues and civil unrest issues, it is important for us to stay focused on how we act and care for people. Our priority is to serve our God. When we stay focused on being like Christ, our problems will disappear that deal with our eternity. The Bible tells us this in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all thing through Him who strengthens me.” Then we need to do it with love. I Corinthians 13:13 “But now faith, hope, love, abides these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
The song our kids sing - This little light of mine, let it shine should be the song we all sing and do, at all times. This should be our love song.
This week our nation is celebrating its independence. For 244 years now we have been a free nation. We are blessed in many ways as citizens of the United States of America. Far too often these blessings are taken for granted. When we were attacked on September 11, 2001 a new wave of patriotism was renewed in many of us. In today’s world that patriotism has diminished somewhat.
Patriotism is defined as “love for a country and a willingness to sacrifice for it.” Other words related to the idea of patriotism are loyalty, devotion, self-sacrifice and brotherhood. Because of their love for our country and the people who populate it, men and women are willing to risk their lives to protect and defend our liberties and freedoms.
As Christians we have the privilege of taking the idea of patriotism to an even higher and greater level, to the spiritual level. One of the analogies that the Bible uses to describe the people of God is a kingdom or a nation. In fact, the kingdom was a central image Jesus used to relate his gospel to us when he began his ministry by declaring, “The kingdom of God is near; repent and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15) Jesus spoke many kingdom parables. The very heart of the words Messiah and Christ, is that Jesus is the king of the spiritual nation. Peter wrote this about Christians, “You are a chosen people… a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9). Whenever and wherever people surrender to the will of God, there will be a kingdom of God and the church of God.
But note, many of us have deep feelings of patriotism towards America. We love the USA, and we give our time, energy and money to participate in patriotic events and organizations. All of this is good. It has its place. But how much better it is to love the Lord's kingdom and to sacrifice your time, energy and money for it.
Do you feel as patriotic towards the church as you do to America? Do you have feelings of pride, loyalty and devotion to the church? Are you willing to sacrifice for the Lord's kingdom with your time, energy and resources? If so, show it! Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Don't limit your Christian activities to within the walls of the church building. Let everybody know that you're a citizen of the kingdom of God!
When I was growing up, our vacation was a road trip to various parts of the country. When I was around twelve, we were on another trip that took us to Florida. My aunt and her family lived there. Her husband, Uncle Bob worked for a large food company. I remember two things about the trip, the warm gulf stream waters of the ocean and the two fountains that were in the warehouse where my uncle worked, next to each other. At that time, it depended on the color of your skin as to which one you could use. At the time, I sure did not understand why. We did not have that in California. It took a couple of years for me to understand why there were two fountains. To this day I still don't understand why, the same pipe brought the water to both. This is what I know, there was little respect and love shown there. If a person believes in the account of the Bible, which I do, then we should know that we are all descendants of Adam and Eve.
The Bible tells us something very different than the lesson of having two fountains. The lessons that Jesus gives to us, tells us that how we treat others is a very important lesson for us to learn. The lesson of the Golden Rule is a good starter, how do I want to be treated goes both ways. Matthew 7:12 - “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” These are the words of Jesus.
One other, is Jesus came to save the lost. Luke 19:10, again the words of Jesus, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost.” The definition is being lost in a world full of sin. It does not say rich or poor, it does not say this culture or that culture, it does not say what you look like, it says seek the lost. If Jesus makes no clarification, who am I to do so? Or for that matter, anyone to do so? The Bible only tells us one way that is to be pleasing to God.
We only need one fountain.
I’ve said this before, but I want to repeat it now because of what we have had to endure over the past several weeks and how I have had a lot of time to really reflect on life — its trials and tribulations and its joys. The application in present times seems appropriate.
I listen to music frequently; sometimes just for pleasure, but more often, for relaxation, motivation, or inspiration. There are four songs that I especially enjoy because they say so much about life and my need for total reliance upon the LORD.
Josh Turner (the “other” Josh, with just as powerful, but much deeper, voice) sings two of my favorites. One, “Long Black Train” contains these words: “There’s a long black train coming down the line, feeding off the souls that are lost and crying, rails of sin only evil remains, watch out brother for that long black train. Look to the heavens you can look to the sky…find redemption staring back into your eyes. There is protection and there’s peace the same…Cause there’s victory in the Lord…Cling to the Father and His holy name, and don’t go riding on that long black train.” The other song is “Me and God” (okay, teachers and writers, remember song writer’s lyrical license): “There ain’t nothing that can’t be done by me and God. Ain’t nobody comin’ between me and God, one day we’ll live together where the angels trod…early in the morning…late at night talking it over, Me and God…I am weak and He is strong…He forgives me when I’m wrong…He’s the One I lean on when life gets hard…He’s my Father, He’s my friend…we’re a team, Me and God…”
Josh Groban (the artist more familiar to most of us) sings “You Raise Me Up,” which has only a few lyrics but says volumes about what God can do with, and through, us: “When I am down and, oh, my soul so weary, when troubles come and my heart burdened be, then I am still and wait here in the silence, until you come and sit a while with me. You raise me up so I can stand on mountains…to walk on stormy seas, I am strong when I am on your shoulders, You raise me up to more than I can be.”
“The Prayer” sung by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion contains these inspiring and comforting lyrics: “I pray you’ll be our eyes and watch us where we go, and help us to be wise when we don’t know, let this be our prayer, when we lose our way, ‘Lead us to a place, guide us with Your grace, to a place where we’ll be safe…when shadows fill our day…watch us from above, lead us to a place, guide us with Your grace, give us faith so we’ll be safe.’”
In reflection, some scriptures that come to my mind are: (1st Peter 5:8) “…be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (James 4:7) “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:8) “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you”. (1st Corin.15:57) “…God, Who gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ.” I also think of: Mark 10:27, "…With people it is impossible, but…with God…all things are possible…”; 1st Thes. 5:17, “Pray without ceasing”; 1st John 1:7&9 “but…we have…the blood of Jesus…If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”; 2nd Sam. 22:33 “God is my strong fortress. And He sets the blameless in His (my) way”; Heb. 11:1&6 “Now faith is the assurance (substance) of things hoped for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen…And without faith it is impossible to please Him…a rewarder of those who (diligently-NKJV) seek Him.” Finally, in one of my favorite passages, John 14:1-3, Jesus says: “Do not let your heart be troubled…in My Father’s house are many dwelling places (mansions-NKJV)…I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am there you may be also.”
May our actions and words always be reflective of the great love we have for our God and each other (1st John 4:7-12) and may those who see or hear us see Christ living in, and through us (Gal. 2:20). I pray that the Good Shepherd and our God will continue to bless us all as we strive —
daily — to live a life that is pleasing and acceptable to Him!
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