Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Little History Lesson

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

The Need for Spiritual Awakening – A Little History Lesson
America was settled by people looking for religious freedom. Our founders had a strong desire to be pleasing to god and to do his will.  They proclaimed that they had come to the new world for "the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith." Other nations, for the most part, came into existence by conquest for selfish and ambitious motives. But it was primarily in the atmosphere of God, not gold, that America was born.

One Hundred and Fifty years passed by from the time of the earliest settlers to the beginning of our nation and we're not very proud of some of the things that happened during those years. After the original settlers died off, many of their descendants were more concerned with increasing their wealth and comfort than being faithful to God and His Word. 

Wave after wave of immigrants arrived; many of them came for other reasons and with entirely different motives than those earliest settlers.  England dumped "undesirables" out of its prisons and sent them as "indentured servants".  Slavery was introduced and men began to exercise their power.
The Salem witch trials began in Massachusetts. The spiritual atmosphere deteriorated rapidly.  Churches were dying and many who had sought religious freedom for themselves became intolerant of others. In 1730, only 10% of the people in the colonies attended church.  That which had begun "for the glories of God and the advancement of the Christian faith" had almost disappeared from our land. 

But then something amazing happened!  In the 1730's and 40's, America experienced "The Great Awakening."  Great crusades and revivals spread throughout the 13 Colonies bringing so many people to Christ. A handful of preachers - Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley, and others - began to preach in the churches and in the streets and in the fields. Tens of thousands dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ and were baptized. By the end of the 1740's openly-devout Christians made up 50% or more of Americans.

Why am I telling you all this? Because this spiritual revival was a precursor to the American Revolution.  Our Founding Fathers, the signers of the Declaration of Independence, those who wrote our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, those who put their lives on the line, who fought and died that we might be free - all these grew up and came into leadership while this "Great Awakening" was engulfing the land. The generation that experienced the "Great Awakening" became the leaders of the American Revolution!

Today the only hope we have as a nation is just such an act of God across America. We need to turn back to Him and the principles and morals our country was founded on.  We have turned away from the standards of long ago and too many live recklessly and selfishly.  For many Americans, God is not even a part of their life.  As a country we desperately need to put God in His right place before we have to experience the wrath of His judgement. 

Scripture to Claim:

Things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.    Psalm 78:3-4

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Need for Spiritual Awakening

How blessed are the people whose God is the LORD! Psalms 144:15
Summertime.  It’s here and… it feels like it is halfway over already.  Watermelon, swimming, barbeques, and long road trips are some of the typical events of summer. This week is the week leading up to one of the highlights of summer…July 4th.

America is changing.  The week as we celebrate our freedom and the blessings of living in America it would be easy to take the time to launch into a political diatribe on what all is wrong with the country. Times of greater crisis tend to trigger more severe attitudes toward our nation and right now our nation seems to be in turmoil. But let’s enthusiastically celebrate this important day, realizing that our nation has both its weaknesses and its strengths, but reaffirming our understanding of what it is to be both Christians and Americans.  Let's thank God for this amazing mix called America. Let us take a good look at what God has to say about our relationship with Him and with our country.

As American Christians we find ourselves on this Independence Day facing the reality that for the first time in American History we may be becoming a minority when it comes to influence on our government. The most basic contours of American culture have been radically altered. 
·      Two thirds of the public (68 percent) now say religion is "losing influence" in American society, while just 19 percent say religion's influence is on the rise.

·      The percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 points in the past two decades. That statistic explains who we are now—and what, as a nation, we are about to become if changes are not made.

The moral teachings of Christianity have exerted an incalculable influence on Western civilization. Once Christianity is abandoned by a significant portion of the population, the moral landscape necessarily changes.

This is not to say we are a minority in numbers, but our lack of involvement in the process of government and our lack of impact on our culture through weak evangelism have silenced our voice.  Christians have allowed the world to define us as bigoted, racist, intolerant, narrow-minded, mean-spirited, uncompassionate, backward thinking, and the list goes on. This is primarily based on the failure of Christianity to proclaim the gospel of grace and freedom to a world blinded by sin. 

We are on a path towards a “Post-Christian” America 
Here the gods of political correctness and humanism (man is god) assume the thrones of power and threaten anyone who disagrees with attacks of “racist, bigot, homophobe, or worse.  Christians have spent too long trying to change the world by controlling the lives of people instead of influencing them and changing their hearts.  Our country is in a desperate state today.  For the first time I really am scared for the future of my children and what they may have to face as they become adults. The good guys are now the bad guys and the bad guys are the helpless victims, regardless of the fact that they laugh in the face of authority and blatantly disregard and disrespect rules and laws.  When they are confronted, they scream that they have been treated unfairly.  We do need to pray for our country and be more vigilant than ever with standing up for our Christian heritage.

Scripture to Claim:
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. Ephesians 4:17-19

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Core Principles for Christian Parenting

Ephesians 4:17-32
You cannot change the nation without addressing the family.  The core principles that lie at the foundation of our nation are not developed in the chambers of legislation but in the living rooms of homes.
Core Principles for Christian Parenting

I. Teach Your Child the Value of the Truth  v.25

We have become desensitized to lying.
Just because something is true doesn’t mean you have to tell it.  That is called gossip.
Truth is conforming one’s words to reality; being real. Lying is PRETENDING.
How do people lie?
·       Controlling a Response
·       Lying by Omission
·       Exaggerations
·       Self-Protection
·       Gossip or Flattery
Why do people lie?
·       Fear of punishment
·       Fear of conflict
·       Fear of rejection
·       Fear of loss
·       Fear of losing opportunity
·       Fear of hurting another:
The fundamental reason why people lie is because it works.  Lying is about immediate reward.
Having to lie about your life is the first sign of the development of shame.  Guilt says "I did bad" - Shame says "I am bad."
When a child is fearful of admitting mistakes to a parent, the parent needs to review their reactions.
Honesty creates healthy self-worth and allows healing responses to our mistakes from people who love us.

If real Christianity would be expressed with its fears, failures and faults along with its faith, more people could believe it.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Effective Prayer is Habitual in Practice

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Daniel 6:10
Since we have been focusing on prayer this week, we are going to wrap up the week with a great example from one of the most amazing characters in the Bible we can learn from, Daniel. 
In this brief excerpt from the life of Daniel, we see the essential ingredients of a strong prayer life.  If you want to build an effective prayer life, you need to follow the practices of Daniel.

When Daniel heard the decree of the king, the Scriptures say that he went to pray "as he did aforetime."  Daniel's prayer life was not just an emergency measure.  It was not something that he did when problems greater than he could handle arose.  Prayer was a long-established habit of his life.  He was simply doing what he had been doing all along.  Prayer was his way of dealing with life.
A crucial question for every believer is this: How will I handle life and its problems?  Our life is not to be lived at the mercy of moods, pressures, or crises.  It is to be lived in complete dependence upon God.  So we too should make prayer the habit of our lives.  The Christian's motto ought to be: "Life is precious; handle it with prayer."  Our first inclination ought to be to pray.
You cannot overestimate the importance of good spiritual habits in your life.  We are all creatures of habit, so we need to establish some good ones.  When we think about habits, we usually think of bad ones that we need to break.  However, there are some good habits that we need to establish.  
Every great servant of God including Jesus has had good spiritual habits. The Scriptures say concerning Jesus, "And, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day" (Luke 4:16). Going to worship was a habit in the life of Jesus as well as discussing the Word of God.  Prayer was certainly a habit in lives of the prophets and apostles.  What are the spiritual habits of your life?  Do you know what it is to have a time and a place of prayer like Daniel? 
  • Martin Luther said, "Prayer is a powerful thing, for God has linked himself thereto." 
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson said, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." 
You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you can't do more than pray until after you have prayed.  If prayer is not a regular habit in your life, then I urge you to begin now.  It is a key to spiritual growth.

Please pray for our Breaking Free Youth Choir today as they are performing a concert and participating in service at Noonday Ministries Shelter in Albuquerque, NM.  They will be traveling home this evening and tomorrow so pray for safe travels as well.

Scripture to Claim:

Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice.  He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me, for they are many who strive with me.  Psalms 55:17-18

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