A father takes his son into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required old to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out of help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do harm to him. The wind blew the grass and removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then he discovered his father sitting on the stump sitting next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We, too, are never alone. Even, when we don't know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to him. If you liked this story, pass it on. If not, you took off your blindfold before dawn. Moral of the story: Just because you can't see God, doesn't mean He is not there. For we walk by faith, not by sight!!!
While we are decorated for a special event at church, the woman in charge griped about my inexperience. After she walked away, another woman approached me. "Don't worry about her. She's what we cal an E.G.R.-Extra Grace Required."
I laughed. Soon I started using that label every time i had a conflict with someone. Years later, I sat in that same church sanctuary listening to that E.G.R's obituary. The pastor shared how the woman had served God behing the scenes and given generously to others. I asked God to forgive me for judging and gossiping about her and anyone else I had labeled as an E.G.R. in the past. After all, I needed extra grace as much as any other believer in Jesus.
In Ephesians 2, the apostle Paul states that all believers were "by nature deserving of wrath" (v.3). But God gave us the gift of salvation, a gift which we did nothing to deserve, a gift we'd never be able to earn "so that no one can boast" (v.9). No one.
As we submit to God moment by moment during this lifelong journey, the Holy Spirit will work to change our character so we can reflect the character of Christ. Every believer requires extra grace. But we can be grateful that Gods grace is sufficient (2Corinthians 12:9)
WHAT HAVE YOU JUDGED OTHERS FOR REQUIRING EXTRA GRACE?
IN WHAT AREAS OF YOUR LIFE DO YOU REQUIRE GRACE TODAY?
Something trying to do the thing can be exhausting. We may wonder, Do my well-intentioned words and ations make any difference at all? I wondered th"is recently when i sent a prayerfully thought-out email meant to encourage a friend, only to have it met with angry response. My immediate reaction was a mixture of hurt and anger. How could I be so misunderstood?
Before I responded out of anger, I remembered that we won't always see the results (or the results we desire) when we tell someone about how Jesus loves them. When we do good things for others hoping to draw them to him, they may spurn us. Our gentle efforts to prompt someone to right action may be ignored.
Galations 6 is a good place to turn when were discouraged by someone's response to our sincere efforts. Here the apostle Paul encourages us to consider our motives-to "test our actions"-for we what we say and do (vv. 1-4). When we have done so, he encourages us to persever: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people" (vv. 9-10).
God wants us to continue living for him, which includes praying for and telling others about him-"doing good." He will see to the results.
My friend was waiting to pay for her groceries when the man in front of her turned around and handed her a voucher for $14.00 off her bill. Short on sleep, she bursts into tears because of his kind act; then she started laughing at herself for crying. This unexpected kindness touched her heart and gave her hope during a period of exhaustion. She gave thanks to God for his goodness extended to her through another person.
The theme of giving was one of the apostle Paul wrote about his letter to the gentile Christians in Ephesus. He called them to leave their old lives behind and embrace the new, saying that they were saved by grace. Out of this saving have been created in God's own image and are his handiwork (Eph. 2:10). We, like the man at the supermarket, can spread God's love through are everyday actions.
Of course, we don't have to give material someone things to share Gods grace; we can show his love through many other actions. We can take the time to listen to someone when they speak to us. We can ask someone who's serving us how they're doing. We can stop to help someone in need. As we give to others; we'll receive joy in return. (Acts 20:35)
WHAT HAVE OTHERS DONE TO MEET A NEED OF YOURS RECENTLY?
HOW CAN YOU HELP ANOTHER PERSON THIS WEEK?
The New Testiment has alot to say about faith. Many of us may think that faith is simply believing and accepting the existence of God and that Jesus Christ is His Son. But a close study of the Scriptures will reveal that faith is much, much more. The 2nd chapter of James spends quite a bit of time explaining that faith must be coupled with good works, else, it is dead and useless. (James 2:14-26) We may want to argue that we can't "work" our way to heaven and that's absolutely true. (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-5) However, when considering the message of the New Testament as a whole, we learn that we must possess a faith of action in order to be pleasing to the Lord. Let's consider the "Heroes of Faith" listed in Hebrews Chapter 11:
BY FAITH, ABEL "OFFERED" (v.4)
BY FAITH, ENOCH "PLEASED" GOD (v.5)
BY FAITH, NOAH "MOVED" AND "PREPARED" AN ARK (v.7)
BY FAITH, ABRAHAM "OBEYED" (v.8)
BY FAITH, SARAH "CONCEIVED" A SON (v.11)
BY FAITH, ISAAC "BLESSED" HIS SONS (v.20)
BY FAITH, JACOB "WORSHIPPED" LEANING ON HIS STAFF (v.21)
BY FAITH, MOSES "SUFFERED" AFFLICTION (v.24-25)
The Old Testiment heroes did not live to see the promise of Jesus Christ come to pass, but now we can look to the "author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2) and access the mercy, love, and saving grace of God through an action-packed faith. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Are you planted by the waters? Are you trusting Jesus in every area of your life? Some years ago, our house developed a major water blockage, and I was using a water-hose in a desperate attempt to un-stop the main drain. To say that I, and everything around me, was completely soaked would be an understatement. As might be expected the phone rant, and with the gushing water-hose in one hand I answered the phone with the other; without even saying "hello" a voice on the other other end blurted out, "And he shall be like a tree planted by the water!" God definitely has a sense of humor! My mother, who had no idea what I was doing at the time, was quoting what has become one of my favorite Scriptures. Jeremiah 17:7-8. Years later, in the midst of a morning devotion, I sensed the Holy Spirit ask "Do you trust me in every area of your life?"Again the scripture in Jeremiah 17:7 came to mind. I knew this scripture by heart, but this time it had a much deeper meaning message. Perhaps for the first time, I realized that God was describing a lifestyle that is based on complete trust and confidence in Him. He was asking, "Do you trust me in every area of your life, for anything you may encounter?" So i asked. are you trusting in Jesus for all your needs, in every area of your life? There is confidence in knowing that He will be with you in every situation and that He promises never to leave or abandon you. (Hebrew 13:5) In good times, tough times, or in a year of drought, you can be like the tree by the waters that does not fear or worry; whose leaves are always green and never fails to bear fruit.
MEMORIALIZING THE CIVIL WAR
Below are 10 interesting facts about Christianity & The Civil War.
1.Major rivials broke out in the Civil War armies. In the Union Army, between 100,000 and 200,000 soldiers were converted; among confederate forces, approximately 150,000 troops converted to Christ. Perhaps 10% of all Civil War soldiers experienced conversions during the conflict.
2.Abraham Lincoln, though he knew the Bible thoroughly and spoke often of an Almighty God, was never baptized and was the only United States president never to join a church.
3.Before the Civil War, it was rare to find chaplains in American Armies. During the war, they earned a lasting place.
4.The Constitution of the Conferderate States of America specifically invoked "Almighty God"-unlike the U.S. Constitution. Further, the confederate Constitution prohibited the foreign slave trade.
5.Millions of tracts were distibuted to soldiers during the war. (Average price: $1500 for $1.) The U.S. Christian Commission alone distributed 30 million tracts, including many through a young agent named Dwight L. Moody.
6.Christian who opposed the war on religious grounds were often persecuted. The Brethren eventually were allowed to be exempted from military service, if they paid $500, but most suffered for their stance.
7.Blacks were not allowed to serve as chaplains (or soldiers) until 1863. Altogether, 14 black chaplains served U.S. Regiments.
8.Abraham Lincoln was the first President to use the phrase, "This nation under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.
9.Many Civil War generals stood do committed to observing the Sabbath that it influenced their military operations.
10.Many preachers, especially the North, felt that though the war the final glorious reign of God would begin.
Dead Ducks Don't Flutter
Inspirational Christian Story on Struggling
Many years ago, a wealthy man went duck hunting with a hired hand named Sam.They took a horse and carriage, and along the way a rim came off one of the wheels. As Sam hammered it back on, he accidentally hit his finger. Instantly he let go with some bad words. He quickly fell to his knees, asking God's forgiveness. "Lord, it's difficult at times to live the Christian life", he prayed. "Sam" said the man, "I know you're a Christian, but tell me why you struggle so, I'm an atheist, and I don't have problems like that."
Sam didn't know what to say. Just then two ducks flew overhead. The man raised his gun and two shots rang out. "Leave the dead one and go after that wounded bird!" he shouted. Sam pointed at the duck that was fluttering desperately to escape and said, "I've got an answer for you now, Boss. You said my Christianity isn't any good because I have to struggle so. Well, I'm the wounded duck and struggle to get away from the devil. But you Boss, you're the dead duck!"
That insight fits Paul's description of his Christian experience in Romans 7:14-25.
Struggle is one evidence of God's work in our lives Forgiveness of sin is available, so don't despair.
Remember, dead ducks don't flutter.
–Dennis De Hann
Struggle, yes, it's part of living
Nothing's gained on beds of ease;
But when our heart is set on Jesus,
Struggle drives us to our knees.
–D. De Hann
If Jesus lives within us,
Sin need not overwhelm us.