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Enjoy the messages of Pastor Peggy right here (below)

 

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Powerful Prayers for Protection and Safety

5 Powerful Prayers for Protection and Safety

I found this group of crafted prayers on the internet, and I am reposting it here for us to use as a springboard, helping us to craft prayers of our own as we pray for our own loved ones and for the many requests on our Spiritual Family prayer request list. RMB

Compiled by the editors at Crosswalk.com

Our world is filled with events and situations that can cause great fear and anxiety. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and live imprisoned by fear.  We are promised in God’s Word that he is faithful and will protect us (2 Thessalonians 3:3).  God wants us to let go of fear and to live life to the fullest! (John 10:10) When you are overcome by worry, use these prayers for protection to remember who God is and the protection he has promised you.

1. Prayer for Personal Protection

Father, I come to You today, bowing in my heart, asking for protection from the evil one. Lord, we are assailed moment by moment with images on television, the internet, books and newspapers that leave us vulnerable to sin of every kind. Surround us with Your divine hedge of protection. Encompass us round about with Your strength and Your might. Let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy. And may You shelter us, that those who love Your name may exult in You. For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:11-12)

Lord, I ask that You protect our minds. Father, the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6) O God, set our minds on You. Let us not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may prove what Your will is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2) Help us by the power of Your Spirit to think on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let our minds dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Strengthen us in the power of Your might, O God. Dress us in Your armor so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil. We know that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.(Ephesians 6:10-12)

You are our keeper, O Lord, the shade on our right hand. Protect us from all evil and keep our soul. Guard our going out and our coming in. From this time and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen. – by Lynn Cooke

prayer for god's protection shield

2. Prayer for the Protection and Safety of Family

Lord, I pray Your emotional, physical, and spiritual protection over my kids (grandkids). Keep evil far from them, and help them to trust You as their refuge and strength. I pray You will guard their minds from harmful instruction, and grant them discernment to recognize truth. I pray You will make them strong and courageous in the presence of danger, recognizing that You have overcome and will set right all injustice and wrong one day. Help them to find rest in Your shadow, as they live in the spiritual shelter You provide for them. Let them know that the only safe place is in Jesus, and that their home on earth is only temporary.  – Ryan Duncan, Culture Editor at Crosswalk.com

3. Prayer for Children’s Security

Lord, I pray that my kids (grandkids) will develop an eternal perspective and purpose, not an earthly one.  Help them to see life–and every challenge–through Your eyes, eager and unafraid to share with others the good news of Jesus wherever they go. I pray that they will set their minds on things above, not just what’s going on here, and that they will be rooted and grounded in Your love. I pray they will come to understand the extent of Your own love for them–that it surpasses all the head knowledge they will acquire in school. I pray they will be filled up with You from morning ’til night. – Rebecca Barlow Jordan

4. “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” Protective Prayer:

Celtic monks used it to start their day.The hymn was several stanzas long, and the last two stanzas were especially memorable and moving:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

5. “Priestly Blessings” Prayer from Scripture:

>Numbers 6:22-27 is known as the “Priestly Blessing” or sometimes the “Aaronic Benediction.” There are seven requests made in this prayer.

The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “’The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”‘ “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

1. The Lord bless you…
The word “bless” means to “provide favor or benefit.” Father, we pray that for our children. You are the Eternal God. Please place Your great kindness and advantage on those we love. May they be approved and favored by You.

2. and keep you…
The Hebrew word “keep” means to “watch, guard, defend.” This is a prayer for protection. Father, my children are not perfect. They are going to make mistakes. But please watch over them and guard them again mistakes of youth that are unalterable. Please defend them against temptation. Protect them against Satan who desires to devour them.

3. the LORD make his face shine upon you…
This is a request for God’s presence.Father, as a parent I know that I can’t be with my children all the time, but You can. Just like they feel the warmth of the sun shining on them, please allow them to experience Your presence. Thank You for being with them wherever they go.

4. and be gracious to you…
Grace is God’s undeserved favor. He gives us what we don’t deserve. Father, thank You for Your gift of grace. I pray that gift to be poured out on my children. Following that great gift of salvation, please show them your kindness and love in all the endeavors of their lives.

5. the Lord turn his face toward you…
Here is a request for God’s fellowship.Father, thank You, that because of their trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives in my children. Please walk with them in a powerful way. Enable them to submit to the Spirit’s control day by day and moment by moment.

6. and give you peace.
The Hebrew word for peace used here is “shalom.” It means “completeness, wholeness, and contentment.” Lord, please calm my children’s fears; soothe their anxious souls. Keep them complete and whole in their thinking, emotions, desires, and actions.

7. So they will put my name on ___________ (the name of your child/children).
This is a request of identification. Lord, please place Your holy mark on my children. Set them apart to be used by You. I love them but You love them more. You love them with an everlasting love. May they represent You well on their earthly journey. And when their journey is completed, welcome them home to live forever with You.
(notes by Ron Moore, The Journey)

https://www.godtube.com/embed/watch/0cjbffnu/?w=400&h=255&ap=false&sl=true&title=true&dp=true

BibleStudyTools.com: Must-See Version of Psalm 91 Has Taken Us by Storm from biblestudytools on GodTube.

 

Happy People Never Stop Growing

from Christians Unite

Following Jesus is a decision and then a process for the rest of your life. You can’t follow without walking. You’ve got to have movement!

Philippians 3:12-13 says,

“I don’t mean to say I’m perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I’m still not all I should be” (LB).

Screenshot 2018-06-09 08.55.29

(This pair of photos shows my oldest grandson at age 2 and at age 18, standing in the same place….and he has only just begun his growth journey. (Rhea)

When Paul wrote that verse, he was an older man in prison in Rome. He’s at the end of life. He’s an incredibly mature person. Yet he says he hadn’t arrived. If anybody had the right to say, “I’ve arrived spiritually,” it would be the guy who wrote most of the New Testament. But Paul says, no, I haven’t arrived. I’m still growing. I’m still learning. I’m still becoming more like Christ.

What’s the trap that will keep you from following Paul’s example and continue growing in Christ? Pride.

Pride will keep you from growing, because when you pretend that you’ve got it all together, you won’t make an effort to become more spiritually mature. No one has it all together! Humility leads to happiness because it makes you teachable.

Happy people never stop growing. Happy people never stop discovering, never stop stretching, never stop learning. If you’ve stopped growing, you’re miserable, because you were made to grow.

Happiness and humility go together because humble people are teachable. They are always asking, “How can I be a better husband? How can I be a better friend? How can I be a better boss? How can I be a better follower of Jesus?”

“Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it” (2 Corinthians 13:5 MSG).

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
Philippians 3:12‭-‬13 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/php.3.12-13.NLT

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you ; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
2 Corinthians 13:5 NLT

(end quote)

Rhea’s prayer: Lord, there’s excitement in my spirit just thinking about growing in Christ! I want to be just like Jesus! I have a long, long way to go. I need You every moment in my life. You made me to grow, to become. You placed a deep longing in my spirit for MORE, and that MORE is only to be found in Jesus Christ. Help me to remember that this growth toward Christ is a process, not an instantaneous burst. Help me to be patient with Your timing and my responses; not rushing ahead or shrinking back. I trust You Lord. Amen.

 

God Set Us in Families

Shared with permission

by Donna Diorio

I woke up in the night thinking how grateful I am to God that He set us in families so we could learn the basics of being family from the beginning of our lives. We need that to learn how to be family spiritually to the greater body of Messiah. That is what He calls us to.

Even though I was born into a family that seems to me had more than an average amount of relationship challenges, I am grateful that the concept of family was deeply instilled in me. My own family had lots of relationship breakers going on it from the usual variety of human conditions – jealousies, betrayals, poverty – to the deeper troubles with mental illness and other tragedies.

All of that impacted me negatively but somehow though I knew that family mattered regardless. We – I – had to make the effort to keep family connections as best as I could. It was important, not just to me but also to them whether they were in the mood to see it or not.

Really I am glad I was born at the time I was because by the time I came of age the concept of family being a central thing to protect was breaking down. Huge chucks where flying off of the idea of family. First with divorce becoming so common. Easy to marry and easy to divorce. There idea of marriage “for the sake of the kids” was mocked. Honestly, that was not an excuse for a bad marriage, that was sometimes what it took to hang in there until the rough patch smoothed out.

The idea that we should ditch loved ones when the relationship got rocky progressed from divorce to alienation of parents and children. By this time the value of family has been diminished to the point that there are no familial relationships that are worth going through the pain of rough patches with.

Human beings are human beings – they fail, they damage and are damaged. Families are dysfunctional because human beings are dysfunctional especially when trying to operate outside of the values of God. God placed us in families so we could learn from the people whose love was our most immediate bond.

I know there are people who don’t even have that, such is the tragedy in their personal histories, but even when we don’t have the original family love to train us, somewhere along the way God has given us a way to see how a family operates. The biggest thing in a family is being able to see the failures yet remain committed to love. It doesn’t mean turning a blind eye, but it does mean that even in necessary confrontation we remain committed to an enduring relationship of love and forgiveness. Families have blow ups but blow ups are not endings.

In the greater body of Christ there are many flawed people. God set us in families so we would know how to deal with each other as His family. We have to quit thinking of other believers as disconnected to us, but as family. We are not throw away to each other. We can’t just ditch relationship when we run into a rough patch. We are to hold God’s values of family…not this throwaway, dysfunction, no love modern value of families that shrinks and shrinks until a person is left alone, not valuing anyone …not even their closest family relationships.

As Christians, we have to commit ourselves to stick with each other in the family of GOD as we should have learned to commit ourselves to our blood family members. GOD SET US IN FAMILIES to teach us familial commitment despite familial relationship problems.

Donna Diorio

Pray with me (Rhea): Dear Lord, thank You for our family. Thank You for our immediate “blood” family members, some of whom have passed from this life, and some of whom we still hold near and dear. We thank You for the good memories, the tender moments…but also for the trials we have passed through together in this life. You have been at work in us, conforming us to the image of Christ–through our interactions with each other. And Lord, we thank You especially for our Christian brothers and sisters whom You have given to us. We are traveling together, on the way to our eternal  home with You, and doing Your Kingdom work as we go. Sometimes that is delightful, and other times it is very troublesome, even sad. Help us to truly love each other with Your Love as we go. We are all connected. We can’t “throw each other away” when the going gets tough, but we come to You together to show us Your value for our relationships.  Help us to live in harmony and peace with each other, forbearing each others’ weaknesses and supporting each others’ strengths. Most of all, may we enjoy the journey together! In Jesus name. Amen.

 

10 Incredible Attributes of God (And Why It’s So Good to Reflect on God’s Character)

Rhea’s opening prayer: Lord, You know how hard I prayed that I would find just the right words to share for this week’s message. THANK YOU. I was feeling so dry, so burnt up and burnt out. Then, growing in I Believe.com, I came upon this anointed message. As I read it, I could feel myself changing inside. I soaked it up like a dry sponge, and then went back and read it again, thinking what a blessing it would be to the dear ones in this chapel who are suffering so deeply right now. So, in Jesus’ name, I share…

Nothing in this world can compare with God’s love for us and his power in our lives. Some days we may not feel it. Other days we might even think we’ve been left on our own in difficult situations. But the Bible speaks of God’s many attributes, and verse after verse remind us of his commitment and promises to his people.

Often our view of God might get distorted by current media opinion or even a hard relationship with our dad or authority figures. We start thinking God must be the same. We may view him as some far away presence up in the sky, just waiting to zap us for doing something wrong. Many people think God is angry or distant. Others view him as disinterested in their lives, too busy, or feel like they could never measure up.

These are lies straight from the enemy and couldn’t be further from the truth. What’s true is found in his word.

And when life circumstances shake us to the core through struggles or hard times, there is nothing that can hold us secure except the One who created us. If you find yourself facing uncertain times right now, go to God. Run to Him. He is never far away, He waits for you even today. Meditate on his truth over you. Pray His words back to Him. It is a life-changing work that takes place when we recognize the authority and Sovereignty of God over our lives, when we look back and see how He’s pursued us and has never let go.

And in that very place comes the deepest peace and security we can ever know, through Christ His only Son.

Here’s what is true about the character of God:

“He is for us, and that is the most powerful force we can have surrounding us.”

God is unchangeable, unshakeable, and unstoppable. Nothing is impossible for Him. He is a God of miracles; He is mighty and strong, faithful and true, and He fights for his people still today.

God is loving, good, and his kindness extends to all generations. God is righteous and holy. He is just, and he watches over his own with constant awareness and care.

God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. He is eternal, everlasting, and His words stand firm forever.

God is giving and gracious, he is compassionate and merciful. He is our Father to whom we can cry Abba Daddy. He is with us always, and his promises are powerful, giving peace and strength for our days.

He is our refuge, our strong tower — He is our hope in every storm. He guards our way, He has our back, and He leads us step by step along the way. We never have to fear because God reminds us He is for us, and that is the most powerful force we can have surrounding us.

10 Attributes of God to Meditate on Each Day:

1. God is Loving.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!1 John 3:1.

The very character and essence of God is love. Incredible, lavish, unconditional love. He loves us more than we could ever imagine, his love is everlasting, and it’s never based on how good we are. Don’t ever believe the lie that says you are somehow “unlovable” or have gone too far in the wrong direction for God to ever care about you. It’s just not possible with our loving God. He reaches for us, chases after us, knows us by name, and He sent his only Son so that we might have a chance to live free.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes on him will not perish but have everlasting life,” John 3:16.

2. God is Faithful and Righteous.

The LORD is righteous in all His  ways and faithful in all he does,” Psalm 145:17.

The Bible reminds us over and over of God’s faithfulness to His  people and righteousness over all. He is true and faithful to His  word in a world that’s constantly shifting and changing. We can trust him to do what he says he will do. We can trust His character; we can choose to believe; we can hold on to His  promises because our God will never fail.

The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never cease, for His  compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness,Lamentations 3:22-23.

3. God is Powerful and Mighty.

Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle,” Psalm 24:8.

The very God who created the world, raised the dead, provided manna in the desert, and split the seas wide open so that His  people could walk through on dry ground — that same God is with us still today. He is fighting for us, covering us with the peace and power of His Spirit, leading us, opening doors, and paving a way for us when there seems to be no possible way.

He is mighty and powerful and is at work in every detail of our lives. His  word reminds us that nothing is impossible for Him. Don’t doubt that God is limited by time, circumstances, or the weaknesses and brokenness of our own lives. He works right through it all, drawing us closer to himself and bringing light through our lives to a dark world.

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone,” 1 Chronicles 29:11-12.

4. God is Sovereign and Just.

“The LORD has established His  throne in heaven, and His Sovereignty rules over all,Psalm 103:19.

Sometimes it’s a battle to trust God’s ways are better. We might think He missed it or forgot us or doesn’t really care about the daily life that concerns us. Or we might start to think that we know better somehow — like God needs our help. We get in a hurry, and it’s hard to wait for answers, or we feel like we’re wasting time.

God’s truth reminds us of His constant guidance and help. He rules over all; He is in control, and nothing takes Him by surprise. He never asks us to figure it all out on our own. He just asks us to trust Him — to recognize His leadership and sovereignty in our lives. And He promises to make our pathways smooth.

O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you,2 Chronicles 20:6.

5. God is Compassionate and Gracious.

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love,Psalm 103:8.

God’s very character throughout His word is one of deep compassion and grace for His  people. He is slow to anger, forgiving, and full of love. The word “compassion” means more than just being empathetic or kind to someone; it goes much deeper. It literally means to “suffer with.” He knows every trouble and hard struggle we walk through. He understands the pain of loss, and He sees our hearts when we feel broken. God reaches out to us with the comfort and care of a loving Father. It’s in His everlasting arms that we’re held secure. And one day, He promises to wipe away every tear.

“The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion,” Psalm 116:5.

6. God is Good.

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!Psalm 34:8.

The word reminds us that in this world, we will have trouble  — it’s not always good, and many days can feel really bad. But the character of God rises above the struggles we face here. He is good. His ways are good. Though we sometimes wonder where the goodness is in the heat of difficult places, He promises that He is able to work all things “for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28). He gives us hope and a future; we do not need to fear the hard times, for God’s powerful work within our lives is for ultimate good.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endures forever,” Psalm 136:1.

7. God is Holy.

“There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God,” 1 Samuel 2:2.

In a dark world, God’s holiness and light shine brightly. He reminds us to live out His ways, to seek to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16 and Leviticus 11:44-45). There is power when we confess our need for God’s Spirit to help us in every weakness. God understands how much we need Him to walk courageously and uprightly in this  life, and He is always there to help us. His character of holiness is worthy of our worship and praise. There truly “is none holy like the Lord…no rock like our God.”

And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah 6:3.

8. God is Forgiving and Merciful.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,1 John 1:9.

His mercies are new every morning. God is faithful to forgive us as we come to Him and seek His  forgiveness. But He doesn’t just stop there. The Bible says that He casts our sins away as far as the east is from the west, and that He remembers them no more. God is a supernatural God. He forgives and cleanses our lives through the gift of Jesus Christ, who took our sins on the cross so that we could live free. Don’t ever think the pit you’ve dug is too deep for God to reach. He knows no limits. No barriers could keep Him away if you just call out to Him for help. His mercy is big, and His love and power to forgive is unimaginable.

 “As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us,Psalm 103:12.

9. God is our Refuge and Help.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” Psalm 46:1.

God is our shelter, our safe place, our refuge in the storm, and our help in times of trouble. He is the only One in this world who never changes, who doesn’t shift in difficult circumstances, or crumble when life gets hard. He is our everlasting rock, and we are secure when we run to Him. This world will have troubles; we can be sure of that, and maybe you find yourself there right now, but be assured — nothing takes God by surprise. He is steadfast, immovable, and we can find help and protection beneath His  wings.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!Psalm 91:1-2.

10. God is with us.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” Isaiah 41:10.

In a world that often leaves us feeling alone, overlooked, and disregarded, God says this over and over in His  word: “I am with you.” It’s true —  He’s always with us. He sees our pain, and He knows our situation. He understands what we’re walking through, even when no one does. We never need to fear or worry because He promises not to leave us to fend for ourselves. He carries us when we feel like we just can’t go on anymore. He strengthens us by His Holy Spirit when our struggles feel too big. He sent His  Son, Jesus, to make a way for us to be with Him forever and called Him, “Emmanuel, God with us.” Our God is close, and He cares.

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His  love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing,Zephaniah 3:17.

“He’s able to heal each wounded heart and broken place.”

God sees every pain and struggle. He knows where we’ve walked, and He’s able to heal each wounded heart and broken place. No matter what’s swirling around you today in this world, or what struggles you might be facing right now, remember you are held by an amazing God. His heart is for you, and every promise is true.

Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor’s wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead’s Facebook page, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also on Twitter and at her blog www.debbiemcdaniel.com.  end quote

Now, after you have soaked up these words and this powerful song pray with me:

Lord, You see us. And we see You a little bit more clearly than we did before. The more we know Your character, the more trust and love we have for You. Thank You that You are our Good God. You are worthy of our love and trust. You are the God Who Sees Us. Thank You that You know all about the suffering represented in this chapel right now. You know about every issue, every heartache and pain, every disease and physical disorder we have. There is enough power in one breath from Your mouth to heal it all in one instant! But You, in Your infinite plan for Christ-building in us, have a purpose in all of it. In our chat room, we take each other’s hands and circle up, and we pledge to offer each other words of light, faithful friendship, encouragement, and life-changing prayer support…leaving the results and the timing up to You Who are the only answer. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.  

Memorial Day Every Day

Pastor Peggy wrote this message several years ago, but its truth is timeless and we are sharing it again this week.

This weekend in the United States, we will be celebrating Memorial Day – the holiday where we remember those brave men and women who fought to guarantee our freedom. We take this time to thank them, bless them, cry for the suffering they may have endured – for us!
The strength of this great nation is togetherness. We have to be together and be willing with positive mind to go forward toward a better tomorrow. We always have to keep strength in our ideals as our forefathers have done. Look at theflag of the United States of America (even if you are not from the States – look at your own flag and remember). As you do so, listen to these words.

From the day Columbus set sail with that small band of people, freedom has been sought, attained, and paid for by brave men and women who were willing to sacrifice their lives that we might be a free nation. Those who have been to battle and have seen comrades fall from enemy fire cannot forget the sacrifices that have been made for the cause of freedom.

Did your great-great-great-grandfather, young man that he was then, think of you before he fell? Could he have known in 1863 that he was saving a great nation? We honor him, from north or south, on this Memorial Day.

Or what of great-great-grandfathers who gave their lives in the trenches of France in World War I, the “war to end all wars?” We honor them now.
Seventy One years ago during World War II, our men were preparing for the great invasion of Europe. The war in the Pacific was being fought at sea as American submarines attacked the Japanese navy. The submarine war was successful that year – 22 warships and 296 enemy merchant ships were destroyed. Still, by war’s end, one of four American submarines and the brave men who manned them, were lost.

At the same time in 1943, General Patton’s 11th Division was fighting its way through North Africa.

Today we remember these brave patriots and honor them.

On Memorial Day, 1953, an armistice was about to be signed, ending the Korean War, three years of hostility that claimed the lives of thousands of brave service men and women. We pay tribute to them.

The war in Vietnam still lives in the minds of many who served there; many saw their comrades fall. We wonder as we pass by their graves today, did they know we would remember? Yes, we do remember. I lost my beloved brother, and YES, I remember.

Let us honor every service person who served to preserve our way of life. We remember.

I ask you to close your eyes now for a moment of silence honoring all those in your country who served in peace time and war time to protect your freedom.

Thank You, God, for these lives.

I’m going to ask you now to remember something as important. The activity of this weekend is going to cemeteries and looking at graves. As we look at these graves, we will remember and that will cause many of us to have tears in our eyes and great mourning and sadness may come over us again.

But as we look at the graves, let us also remember the truth – the person you are mourning is not there. That person is happy again because he or she is with God and with the others who have passed on before.

What a freeing realization it is when we are standing there in our grief that our grief is for ourselves, not for them. We take from bereavement all of its power to distress us when we realize that our grief is, in fact, for ourselves. How freeing that is!

How empowering it is to realize that everyone you loved, everyone who served your flag, is still alive. That is the truth! You know that to be the truth! It’s one of those things that you haven’t just read about, but you know it deep inside yourself. It is your faith. You will give thanks for this faith.  John 3:16For God so Loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not die, but have everylasting life.

How empowering it is! I mourn for those people who do not have this faith , and they are going through the experience that we humans call death. We in this room know that death is not a period; it’s just a comma in life. Life continues.

Let me share with you a powerful and moving story.

Once upon a time, twin boys were conceived in the same womb. Weeks passed, and the twins developed. As their awareness grew, they laughed for joy: “Isn’t it great that we were conceived? Isn’t it great to be alive?”

Together the twins explored their world. When they found their mother’s cord that gave them life, they sang for joy: “How great is our mother’s love, that she shares her own life with us!”

As the weeks stretched into months, the twins noticed how much each was changing. “What does it mean?” asked the one. “It means that our stay in this world is drawing to an end.” said the other. “But I don’t want to go.” said the first. “I want to stay here always.” “We have no choice,” said his brother. “But maybe there is life after birth!”

“But how can there be?” responded the one. “We will shed our life cord, and how is life possible without it? Besides, we have seen evidence that others were here before us, and none of them have returned to tell us that there is a life after birth. No, this is the end.”

And so the one fell into deep despair saying: “If conception ends in birth, what is the purpose of life in the womb? It’s meaningless! Maybe there is no mother after all.” “But there has to be,” protested the other. “How else did we get here? How do we remain alive?”

“Have you ever seen our mother?” said the first. “Maybe she lives only in our minds. Maybe we made her up, because the idea made us feel good.” And so the last days in the womb were filled with deep questioning, doubt and fear.

Finally, the moment of birth arrived. When the twins had passed from their world, they opened their eyes. And they cried. For what they saw far exceeded their fondest dreams.

I Corinthians 2:9 says: “Eye has not seen , ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on the human, what God has prepared for those who love God.” When you are at a graveside mourning, I pray that it is the dawn of a new realization in you that life does not end. And I pray that you carry that truth with you all through your life. It will be so empowering when you have to deal with that which we don’t want to deal with. You will know that all that is occurring is, the outer clothing is being discarded, but the life of the one you love so much (the inner soul qualities of the joy and spirit of life that comes through the outer clothing) lives on.

In The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran wrote:

Life is but a stopping place
A pause in what’s to be
A resting place along the road
To sweet eternity.
We all have different journeys,
Different paths along the way
We were all meant to learn some things
But never meant to stay.
Our destination is a place
Far greater than we know
For some the journey’s quicker
For some the journey’s slow.
And when the journey finally ends
We claim a great reward
And find everlasting peace
Together with the Lord.

In the depths of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond. And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow, your heart dreams of spring. Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

For what is it to die, but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Jesus said there are really two deaths. There is the death of the outer covering (the skin and the flesh). But the other death is far worse – the death of the person who has stopped living while still alive.

Some people do this when a loved one passes. When I pass from this world I do not want my children or anyone I love to stop living and either do you. We want them to live life fully with smiles on their faces. We want them to laugh at misfortune and to be connected with God. This is what I want them to do in my memory.

All of life is best honored by us living life fully. When we stand at a graveside, let us not be locked into just that which has been alive. Let us be locked into the knowledge that this person lives now and will live tomorrow. We will see this person again. We believe that, and we know that.

Let me share with you a wonderful story from the book “Illusions” by Richard Bach

(Paraphrased)

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great river. The current of the river swept silently over them all – young and old, rich and poor, good and evil – the current going its own way, knowing its own self.

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.

But one creature said at last, “I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging I shall die of boredom.”

The other creatures laughed, “Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!”

But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

Yet, in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, “See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!”

And the one carried in the current said, “I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.”

But they cried the more, “Savior” all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a savior.

Many times our lives as human beings are spent clinging for security. We cling to thousands of things. We cling, and we are afraid inside of ourselves to let go. Yet, if we re-examine our faith in God the good, the one, omnipotent power in our lives, we know it is safe to let go.

Where do we do this? We do it in consciousness. We let go of the fear, worry, and hurried feelings we have inside of ourselves, and we naturally rise to a higher state of mind. In Luke 17:20-21 Jesus said: “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Do we have to die to enter the kingdom of heaven? No! Not at all! As a matter of fact, if we wait until we die, we’re missing the mark. Jesus’ whole teaching tells us that right now, for each of us individually, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. It can be had in the midst of our worry, in the midst of things that are not going right, or in the midst of a cemetery. We can just simply let go of the mourning and the sadness, and go with God. When we do so, we are lifted.

My friends, I pray that this Memorial day you experience an act of God. An act of God is not something terrible. An act of God is something that happens in you and through you. We feel an act of God more in a time of great depression and great struggle than we do other times. This is because we are more aware of the overwhelming good and the feelings that come inside of us.

Heaven within you is an act of God. Bliss within you is an act of God. Peace within you is an act of God. Stop clinging, release, and go to God.

Let us pray:

In this moment, I ask that I can be empowered with the kingdom of God inside of me. I let go of the sadness and sorrow I have held over any area of my life. I let go of the death-thought, and I start to live again.

But more than just living or existing, I ask for an infilling and an overspilling to others in my life. The joy, bliss, and peace of God knows no end.

Today, this entire weekend, is a turn-around time. I let go of sorrow and sadness. I stop clinging and I arise free and unencumbered. I do so through the power of God in and through me, and my willingness to say “Yes!”              In Jesus Christ’s name . . . Amen.

The Gifts of Pentecost and Shavuot

1. What is Pentecost?

Quoted from Crosswalk.com

1. What is Pentecost?

Pentecost Sunday (May 20) marks the day most Christians believe the Holy Spirit descended on the followers of Jesus after his death, resurrection and ascension. The story comes from the New Testament Book of Acts: “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Jesus’ followers were amazed — they could speak languages they never knew before and they could understand others they had never heard. The Apostle Peter stood up and preached his first sermon — so many Christians think of this holiday as the “birthday” of the church.

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Ruskpp

2. What does that have to do with Shavuot?

2. What does that have to do with Shavuot?

A lot! Shavuot is called the “Festival of Weeks” because it is held seven weeks (and one day) after the second night of Passover. Originally tied to an ancient grain festival, it eventually became the holiday that marks God’s giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The link between the two holidays lies in their names. “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word “pentekostos,” which means 50. Pentecost comes 50 days after Easter, when Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead. And 50 days also represents the gap between Passover’s second day and Shavuot. Some scholars believe Pentecost owes its name to Jesus’ Jewish followers who were gathered together to observe the festival of Shavuot.

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/tomertu

3. What does Shavuot mean for contemporary Jews?

3. What does Shavuot mean for contemporary Jews?

This is where the idea of “gifts” comes in. On Shavuot, which starts this year on Saturday evening, Jews mark not just the giving of the Torah by God, but their acceptance of the Torah. Some Jewish writers have compared the exchange to a marriage or other sacred covenant. One way the holiday is observed is through the reading of the Book of Ruth, the story of a woman who converts to Judaism and accepts the Torah.

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/chameleoneyes

4. What does Pentecost mean for contemporary Christians?

4. What does Pentecost mean for contemporary Christians?

The gifts of the first Pentecost have different meanings to different Christians. Some interpret them as the spiritual benefits of accepting Jesus that bring a more meaningful earthly life. Others — especially those Christians known as Pentecostals — believe the first Pentecost gave all followers of Jesus “the gifts of the Spirit” — speaking in and interpreting tongues, the ability to prophesy, the power to heal by touch, the ability to discern spirits. Pentecostals believe those things are available to all Christians, and those who accept them are equipped to fulfill the work and destiny that God has laid out for them.

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstockphotos.com

5. I like gifts. What did you get me for Pentecost and Shavuot?

5. I like gifts. What did you get me for Pentecost and Shavuot?

Sorry, neither Christians nor Jews exchange presents on Pentecost or Shavuot. Nor do they eat cake. Some Jews mark Shavuot by decorating their homes with spring flowers; others stay up during the first night of the festival — this year from sundown on Saturday to sundown on Monday — to read the Torah. They go to synagogue, where the Ten Commandments — the foundational laws they believe were given to Moses on Sinai — are read aloud. Christians generally mark Pentecost by a reading from Acts, and some wear all white, or all red.

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/HAKINMHAN

6. What is another name for Pentecost?

6. What is another name for Pentecost?

In medieval Britain, Pentecost was sometimes called “White Sunday” — or Whitsunday — for the custom of wearing white.

Aleteia.org explains further: “The Merriam-Webster Dictionary confirms the etymology of the word, explaining how ‘Whitsunday [is derived from the] Middle English Whitsonday, from Old English hwīta sunnandæg, literally, white Sunday; probably from the custom of wearing white robes by those newly baptized at this season.’

With this in mind, Pentecost is closely connected to the celebration of Easter and the coming of the Holy Spirit is emphasized in relation to the Sacrament of Baptism.”

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/tatodonets

7. Where can I read about Pentecost in the Bible?

7. Where can I read about Pentecost in the Bible?

You can find the story of the original Pentecost in Acts 2. You can also watch this narrated video of the incredible Pentecost story. If you’ve never been one to celebrate Pentecost Sunday, this powerful version of Acts 2:1-4 will put it into a whole NEW light for you.

Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

 

8. Where can I read about Shavuot in the Bible?

8. Where can I read about Shavuot in the Bible?

Since Shavuot commemorates God’s giving of the Torah, or the law of God, to Moses and the Israelites, you can read about it in much of the Bible. Specifically, the Torah refers to the first five books of the Bible–Genesis, Exodux, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy–which contain the details of the laws God gave to His people, including the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20. Also, as was previously mentioned, Shavuot is sometimes associated with the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament.

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

 

9. Pentecost: the birthday of the Church

9. Pentecost: the birthday of the Church

Today, Christians who commemorate Pentecost also celebrate it as the birth of the Church.

“It reminds us that the Spirit’s power and the life of the church are always intertwined,” she said. “The day of the Spirit’s spectacular arrival among the disciples is also the day when 120 ragtag Jesus followers became a church of over 3,000. (That’s over 2,500 percent growth in one day!).”

The celebration of Pentecost Sunday and one of its significances is the way that churches all over can unify as “one common church” to say they are “part of the larger story God is telling,” she added.

Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Sarah Noltner

10. Should Christians also celebrate Shavuot?

10. Should Christians also celebrate Shavuot?

Does it make sense for Christians to celebrate the biblical festival of Shavuot in addition to (or even in place of) Pentecost?

Sharon Sanders, co-director of Christians Friends of Israel, believes so, considering that Shavuot is the version of the holiday actually ordained by God.

“I remember well my childhood growing up in a traditional church where we celebrated only Easter and Christmas as set by the historical church. I had no idea God actually established ‘appointed times’ for those in His great assembly,” Sanders told Travelujah, as quoted by Christian Headlines. “It is unfortunate that many churches overlook the significance of the three main festivals God speaks clearly about in His Word; namely, Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost) and Succot.”

Today, Sanders lives in Israel and, like many Christians living in the Holy Land, actively participates in celebrating Shavuot with Jewish friends.

“I am thrilled to be able to celebrate Shavuot with the Jewish people,” said Sanders. “I love celebrating the festivals of God in Israel because more emphasis is put on times of gladness, joy and fellowship with one another rather than commercialism and self-indulgence that so often comes with other festivals. Shavuot for me, as a Christian, is special because the Book of Ruth is read, a beautiful story about God’s redemptive love.”

end quote

Let’s pray together:

Lord we gladly join You in celebrating Your Gifts this weekend. We open our hearts and spirits wide to receive all that You have available for us, knowing that by receiving them, we will be equipped to find and accomplish the purpose for which You placed us on earth. It’s all about You, Lord–that the Word of God and the Church of Jesus Christ may be spread far and wide throughout all the earth. Use us, as one united church, to accomplish Your Holy Purposes. And we thank You for the Joy that comes with our acceptance of Your Gifts.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Change ~ The Sweet Silver Song of the Lark

reprinted  with permission

John 8: 1-11 – “They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.   Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?’ This they said to test him that they might have some charge to bring against him.

“Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’

“She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ “And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.’”

Let’s open with prayer and ask God to take full charge of us and take full charge of this message and our understanding of it. Let our wisdom grow through He who shares all with us.

“Have Thy way in me, Lord. Have Thy way in me. Have Thy way in my thoughts, my actions, my feelings, and in my decisions. Have Thy way in me, Lord. Have Thy way in me.”

Dear God, right now we are each open and receptive, knowing that this is a spiritual experience, in which we each are being lifted to a higher level of life. Have Your way in each of us. Help us glean from this message the truth of Your walk with us through perfect change.

And so it is. In Jesus Christ’s name. . . Amen.”

Let’s talk about the scripture above – John 8: 1 – 11. We can look at it as it happened historically and actually and then talk about it spiritually. You will be amazed, perhaps, at how much meaning there is within this story.

So, let’s think about this story. There are three groups of people involved: the leading citizens (the Scribes and Pharisees, the adulteress, and Jesus). We know these leading citizens are used to and love to condemn others.  And they are good at it – condemning and seeing wrong in others but never themselves.  Plus they consider themselves above the law and have no compassion.  Imagine this group of men preparing to stone a defenseless woman.  They may be leaders in the community but in the eyes of God, they are sinners just like you and me. Do you know any people in your community like this?

Then there is the adulteress. This is the woman who is about to be stoned.  We know according to the story that she was caught in the act of adultery. There is no mention of the man she was involved with. We don’t even need to go there.

This woman knew that she faced death by this group of men because of what she did. She had no recourse, no help, no forgiveness. But then, Jesus Christ came on to the scene and took over.

The first lesson we have here is that even in hopeless situations there is hope through Jesus Christ and His love. This then created for her (and for us) HOPE.

Jesus is the third person in the story. He knew the Mosaic Law and what “should” happen to her. OR should He tell them to let her go? OR should He just ignore the whole thing and walk away – to keep Himself out of trouble

He knelt down and drew in the sand. We don’t know what He was writing or drawing or if maybe He was just diverting the attention of the men while praying to God for direction. We don’t know. We do know that He did not want this woman stoned, but He had to find a way to override the Mosaic teachings.  Jesus knew that He had to find a way to not negate, but yet to spiritualize and override the Mosaic teachings in those days.

Let’s think about this word adultery for a second. In its literal usage today, adultery means sexual relations outside of marriage. It refers to a physical experience only; but to adulterate also means to add something or change something that cheapens the quality or upsets the completeness of your life, your actions, or an experience.

As we relate to other people, ARE WE relating the best and with the right intentions, motives, true and honest agape love? Are we beholding the best, in ourselves and others, as we relate to people?

For instance, if we are in any kind of a relationship with another and “pretend” to care for them or enjoy being with them when we do not, we are lying. We are saying that I am in this relationship and it really doesn’t matter how I really feel about you inside.  I am just playing the game; it really has nothing much to do with how I feel about you and/or myself.

That is a form of adultery. We are cheating on ourselves and the other person and on God. If we do not feel and accept the love of God in ourselves and that individual in that relationship, that can be adultery.

So let’s compare ourselves to this woman. She is acting from the heart but not too much from the head, the wisdom or intellect. When we don’t use both together, we get into a lot of trouble ourselves.  We must be whole and complete.  What do we hold inside that we keep away from others?  How do we temper ourselves to fit a situation, adulterating our truths.

The men in this story were using only their knowledge of the law and thusly condemned the woman.  But whatever happened must have made them realize that the themselves were sinful and could be condemned. That is why the first stone is never cast.

I love the way Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  He was letting them know that if you kill her, you also may be in linefor the same sentence – unless you have never made a wrong decision, never sinned, never done anything wrong. Interesting to note that they all started to leave and the oldest left first, the youngest last.

We are all three of these people – each a part of us. First the action occurs, within us begins the healing, the situation being outside of us; Christ’s love allows us to become whole and one with God. God comes in and stays. So, with prayer and faith and trust in God, we can ask God to make us true in every way. He will give us the direction, the path to follow.  We become a new person, a changed person from what we were even just a short time ago.  Now Christ can say to you, Where are your accusers    ……  ……. “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

This brings us about to a life change. And that is what is happening as we go through this now. And it is exciting to be a part of it and be aware of living it.  Let’s let the changes begin and enjoy the natural progression of the journey. Let’s all smile and realize in wonderment what God is doing in our souls.

“A young woman, 95 years of age who didn’t have much formal education, but instead had an abundance of Divine wisdom once said,

“Don’t you know that if you accept it, it won’t hurt so bad?”

So, let’s all do what the saying says,

“Let Go and Let God!”

Through all our trials, fears, mis-directions, if we just “let God”, we can move forward and enjoy our life changes, our journey. We know God is walking ahead of us and we never walk alone, not even in the storm.

When you walk through a storm
Keep your chin up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.Screenshot 2018-05-10 16.41.59

Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone. (Rogers and Hammerstein)

At the end of your storm is that golden sky and the lark singing sweetly, singing your name.   That, my friend, is our Lord welcoming us back through the change that resulted from us going through the storm and not giving up.

Let us pray: Almighty God, we all get misdirected and need the accusers to turn and walk away, knowing Your love is the way to make the change we so need in our life. Help us to move on, unafraid, knowing You are right beside us and often carrying us. Amen

And so it is . . . In Jesus Christ’s name… Amen

God bless you!