Remember to Not Forget!

Do you suffer from forgetfulness?

I certainly do, I just walked into my daughter’s room to wake her up and forgetting what day it was I reminded her to wear her orange shirt for camp today. A few seconds later she said to me, “It’s not orange day.”

We all forget things from time to time. The consequences of forgetting can range from wearing an orange shirt to camp when everyone else is wearing blue, to something far greater.

From the very beginning when God first chose Abraham and called him out of his land to go to a new land He would provide for him and his family God has intended for His people to be set apart from all others. God intended for His people to know him, to love Him, and to never forget Him. God promised that by not forgetting Him, His people would experience freedom and blessings that would prove His supernatural power and love.

But the Israelites suffered from forgetfulness!

And though David wrote of the hope and life that comes from not forgetting God…

“So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” Psalm 78:7

“I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.” Psalm 119:16

“I will never forget your commandments, for by them you give me life.” Psalm 119:93

David suffered from forgetfulness!

It’s easy to forget!

Mark, Kayla, and I went on “The Walk over the Hudson” this past Saturday, and afterwards visited the Vanderbilt Mansion that is nearby. I haven’t read too much of their history, but one sentence I heard about them really caught my attention and causes me to ponder. Though Cornelius Vanderbilt was the richest man in America, and his son went on to double his fortune, and then became the richest man in America, the family fortune was gone by the third generation. There were many factors that played into it, World War 1, and the Great Depression, but it seems as though the family suffered from forgetfulness.

Definition of forgetfulness – Marked by neglectful or heedless failure to remember

So, if forgetting is the result of not remembering…

to beat forgetting is to remember!

History is recorded so that we can learn from those who have gone before us. We can learn from their successes and from their failures. We will either choose to learn from their mistakes and change our actions or we will choose to continue in the ways they lived and encounter the same consequences they suffered. God reminds us of the importance of not forgetting what our ancestors have gone through.

“I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground.” 1 Corinthians 10:1

“But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:25

We can’t forget something we never learned.

We can’t remember something we never knew.

With so much information instantly available to us today it seems as though we should be able to learn valuable lessons, and we should know many things that will benefit us. But, instead it seems the ease of accessing information keeps us from really taking in information so that we never fully learn or know the things we need to.

Why study something when we can just look it up again tomorrow? 

To not forget requires intentional learning!

Remembering requires intentional knowing!

I have found that the more important something is the more I will do to make sure I don’t forget. I will put it on my calendar, write myself a note and leave it in a very visible place, send myself an email…

God knows we are prone to forget, so He tells us many times in the Bible to not forget, and He reminds us many times to always remember. So, if you find yourself forgetting God…

What is causing you to neglect God?

Why is it that you are failing to remember God?

How important is God to you?

It is in the forgetting that you experience bondage and suffering due to poor choices. 

It is in the remembering that you experience the freedom and blessings of God. 

While there is a great difference between the consequences of wearing the wrong color shirt, and losing the family fortune, the consequences of forgetting God are even greater.

“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Matthew 16:26

May you make it your priority to never forget to remember God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom Comes With a Cost!

Today we celebrate the freedoms we have here in America. We remember our history and ponder all that has happened through the years since America was first discovered. We must never take for granted the hardships, the sacrifices, and the lives that were given so that we might live here in peace and freedom.

Freedom comes with a cost!

Years ago America was the answer to many people who wanted a new land where they could worship God the way they believed God intended them to. Many people were searching for a place to live where their rulers wouldn’t require them to worship God in the ways that weren’t according to the Bible.

America was the answer!

Here in America they found peace and freedom to worship God. It came with a cost, but by God’s power, love, and amazing grace, religious freedom still remains today.

The history of America’s freedom is somewhat similar to the history of our spiritual freedom.

Christopher Columbus left the comfort of his land in search of the treasures of India.

Jesus left the comfort of His throne in heaven to come in search of the treasures of men’s souls.

Christopher Columbus’ discovery became an answer to many who were bound by their ruler’s laws, and forced to worship in ways that went against the truths found in the Bible.

Jesus’ presence here on earth brought an answer to those who were in bondage to the religious leaders of the day, and to those who were held captive by the lies of Satan.

The peace and freedom of Christopher Columbus’ discovery came with a great cost; it required much suffering, blood shed, and sacrificial death.

The peace and freedom that Jesus brought also came with a great price, great suffering, blood shed, and sacrificial death on the cross.

Jesus is the answer!

But as seen in both situations the great price of peace and freedom can be forgotten. They can be taken for granted. And they can be taken away.

When we forget our history we loose our identity. 

When we loose our identity we forget our purpose.

When we loose our purpose we no longer consider the personal cost our peace and freedom requires.

As Americans and as Christians we must remember our history. We must know who we are, why we are here, and do what is required of us to live in the peace and freedom that has been made available to us.

Freedom comes with a cost!

When the Israelites were set free from their bondage in Egypt and entered the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey; a land intended for their peace and freedom, God gave them this warning…

“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.” Deuteronomy 8:11-18

…and I believe it is a warning for us today.

The Israelites fought battles, with the supernatural power of God, to gain their freedom.

Our forefathers fought battles, with the supernatural power of God, to gain our freedom.

Jesus fought a battle, with the supernatural power of God, to gain the freedom of all who believe.

So we too have battles we must fight, with the supernatural power of God, to maintain the freedoms we have here in America and the freedom we have in Christ.

“I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:1-8

There is a day coming when the freedoms of America will fade and the perfect freedom of God’s Kingdom will reign forever. But until that day comes, God encourages us to make the most of our time here on earth. Whether we continue to enjoy freedoms here in America, or whether they are taken away, we have been made free in Christ, and that freedom can never be taken from us.

But in the meantime, there is a good fight we are to fight, there is a race we are to run.

The freedoms we have mustn’t be forgotten, taken for granted, or allowed to be taken from us. We must remember all Jesus did for us and choose to live in the freedom He provided. We must daily walk by faith in the freedom of God’s word. And we must fight against the lies of the enemy that try to deceive and take away the freedoms we have been given.

And when we live fully in the freedom of Christ we will joyfully and courageously tell others the good news of the freedom they have been given in Jesus!

So, on this day of remembrance, let us make the most of the freedoms we still have here in America to carry out the ministry opportunities God has given us.

Freedom comes with a cost!

What will it cost you?

Are you willing to pay the price?

 

Vines are Deceptive and Destructive!

The other day I was in my daughter’s room praying. At one point I looked out her window and saw a vine growing from the top of a large bush that is in our back yard. I hadn’t noticed it while walking past it, or while cutting the grass around it. I needed to be in the right position in order to see the vine.

I knew that though the bush was healthy, if I didn’t remove the vine, it would continue to grow and would slowly overtake the bush to the point it would choke all the life from it.

Vines are deceptive and destructive!

They grow unnoticed at the base of a larger plant. They wind their way around the inner branches slowly working their way to every branch. It is a slow process that steals the life of the plant. It suffocates it from the air and light the plant needs. Until eventually the plant is no longer recognizable, and all that can be seen is the vine.

When I was finished praying I went to the garage and got the tree trimmers and went to do business with the vine.

Since the bush is so big and thick I couldn’t see where the root of the vine was. So I began by pulling on the top of the vine and discovered there were several vines growing within the bush. As I cut these off I continued to dig deeper into the bush, I knew I needed to get to the root or the vine would continue to grow. Eventually I found the root! I  pushed back the branches, holding them out of the way while I pulled with all my strength to get the whole root out.

As I was pulling on the vines, searching for the root, and then digging out the roots I thought about how similar what I was doing for the bush was like what I was doing while praying in Kayla’s room.

Purposely praying in the presence of God supernaturally reveals hidden things!

I have found that when I purposefully spend time in God’s presence He shows up. Whether I go there because something overwhelming has happened and I need to pour out my heart to Him, or whether I really don’t know what I should pray for, God always has something to show me that I didn’t see before.

‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3

What an amazing invitation!

To be personally invited into the presence of God…

the Creator of all that exists will personally show me great and mighty things!!!

the God of the supernatural will show me things I do not know!!!

That invitation should cause us to leave everything else and to run straight into the presence of God!

Too much of life is lived just looking at the outward appearance. As long as we look good to those who pass by and to those who spend some time with us, we conclude that everything is good. When people ask how we are doing we answer, “Good.”

But just because things look good, doesn’t mean they are good. The bush had me fooled. And we can fool others, and we can even fool ourselves, but we can’t fool God.

It wasn’t until I put everything else on hold and went into the bedroom to pray, to talk with God, that I saw the vine.

And this is often the same when it comes to the “vines” that are growing in our lives. Lies of the enemy are as those vines in the bush. They begin small and go unnoticed, but slowly creep into the branches of our lives. Their deception covers our thoughts with fears. They twist their way around our hearts so our faith is weakened. And they overcome our souls so compromise leaves us unrecognizable.

Lies are deceptive and destructive!

But, that is why God invites us to call to Him!

When that bush was planted it was intended to grow and add beauty to my yard. It was never intended to be a host to a vine, to be choked out by another plant.

The same with us…when God formed us and knit us together in our mother’s womb His intended good for us. We exist by God’s design to bring beauty and purpose to His kingdom here on earth.

And just as the vine that grew in my bush, God knows there will be lies that grow within us. God was the One who sent Satan to reign and rule the earth and He knew some of Satan’s lies would take root in each of us. And that is why He invites us to call to Him so He can show us things we need to see, and to tell us things we need to know.

In the presence of God lies are revealed!

When I saw the vine growing from the top of the bush I could have responded in several different ways…

I could have just excused it away believing that it was nothing to be concerned about.

I could have been glad to have seen it, but put off taking care of it until another day.

Or, I could realize the real danger that vine was to the bush, knowing that I needed to go out that morning and cut it down before I got busy and forgot about it.

These responses are the same choices we have when God shows us things in our lives that don’t seem right. When we see the evidence of a lie, or we see a fear that keeps affecting situations in our lives we can either excuse them away, believing they aren’t anything to be concerned about. Or we can see the lie, realize the fear, but choose to leave it go until another day. Or, we can do business with the deception, we can destroy the lie, and be free from the fear.

Forgotten, uncut vines will continue to grow, creating greater and greater damage!

While the vines covering my bush were somewhat easy to cut and a little bit harder to pull out by the roots, cutting down the deceptions and lies of the enemy can seem impossible. But, be encouraged, God doesn’t tell us we need to do it ourselves…

“It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Zechariah 4:6

Remember, when you are in the presence of God you are in the realm of the supernatural!

When God opens your eyes to see the deceptions, lies, and fears that are slowly creeping into your thoughts, heart, and soul, He will also show you how to cut them down and pull out their roots. Remember His promise… to show you great and mighty things you do not know!

 

 

 

Distinguished by Supernatural Power

God’s people have always been distinguished by His supernatural power!

Noah was a just man who walked and talked with God. His relationship with God saved him and his family from the destruction that came upon the rest of the earth.

Abraham was chosen by God to be the father of a nation that belonged to Him. God called him to leave his home, his relatives, and to go to a land He would show him.

From the very beginning God has shown His heart of love and salvation for all who believe in Him, and His desire for them to be great, to be blessed, and to be a blessing to others!

Belief in God results in walking and talking with Him.

Walking and talking with God positions you to hear what He has to say.

Listening to and obeying God’s voice results in the supernatural!

I’m sure those long years of building the ark when everyone else was going about doing whatever they felt like doing was worth it all when Noah walked off the ark with his family by his side!

God supernaturally saved Noah and his family!

I”m sure it was worth leaving the comforts of home and the long time of traveling to a new country when Abraham and his wife Sarah held their new born son, Isaac, in their arms.

God supernaturally provided Abraham and Sarah with a son!

From these chosen men and their families God put into motion a chosen generation that represents His salvation and blessing that distinguishes His people through His supernatural power and love!

“You have been set apart as holy to the Lord your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure.” Deuteronomy 14:2

Throughout the Old Testament God’s people, His own special treasure, were distinguished by supernatural blessings of provision, supernatural acts of nature, and by supernatural victories over their enemies.

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

The supernatural didn’t stop with the Old Testament.

A virgin gave birth to a Son, and she called Him, Jesus!

God’s heart of love brought salvation to His people once again, through the life, death, and resurrection of His one and only Son, the perfect Lamb of God!

Jesus left His throne in heaven to bring salvation to earth.

Jesus called twelve men to leave the comforts of their home and jobs to walk and talk with Him.

Jesus called the disciples to follow Him. His call to them wasn’t so He would have cheerleaders who would pat Him on the back and keep Him motivated. They were not to just be in awe of what He was doing and applaud His displays of the miraculous.

Jesus called His disciples into relationship with Him so they would learn from Him, to live as He lived, and to do as He did!

Jesus wanted His disciples to get it, to fully understand what it meant to follow Him. Jesus reminded them over and over that He was here to do His Father’s will, not His own.

Jesus’ disciples needed to know it wasn’t about them, but by following Jesus’ example of complete surrender and trust in His heavenly Father, they had access to the supernatural!

Several times Jesus came to the disciples, some of who were experienced fishermen, when they had caught nothing; their nets were empty.

But when Jesus told them when and where to let down their nets they were supernaturally filled with fish!

Then there was the time Jesus was sleeping in the bottom of the boat during a raging storm and the disciples ran and woke him up, terrified they would drown, and believing Jesus didn’t care about them. When Jesus saw their response and realized their fear He rebuked them by asking them where their faith was.

Then Jesus supernaturally calmed the storm.

Jesus put the disciples through tests to prove their faith.

Like the time He tested Philip…

“Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.” John 6:5-6

Philip’s first response was in the natural. He replied that even if they worked for months they wouldn’t have enough money to buy food for all the people.

But Andrew must have been starting to get the supernatural ways of God…

“Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” John 6:8-9

Andrew was learning to look at what was available with the possibility that Jesus could do something with it!

When those five loaves and two fish were placed into Jesus’ hands He looked to His heavenly Father and thanked Him for them. Even Jesus didn’t trust in His own ability! He thanked God for the little that was available and began to break it and gave it to His disciples to give to those who were hungry.

The crowd of over 5,000 people were supernaturally fed, with twelve baskets of leftovers!

Jesus was demonstrating to His disciples that they are not to rely on the world’s ways of meeting needs. He was showing them that even the little they have available is to be given to  God in faith. And when they thank God for it and place it in His hands, He is able to do above and beyond anything they could think or imagine!

As they went out on the grassy hillside and picked up each left over piece of food it was another reminder of the supernatural power of God!

God’s people are still to be distinguished by His supernatural power!

And this is why I am to explain my faith…

It is because of God’s supernatural power that we have been married for 37 years…

It is because of God’s supernatural power that our children walk and talk with God…

It is because of God’s supernatural power that we have always had everything we needed, and more…

It is because of God’s supernatural power that our printing business continues to thrive in a “paperless” society…

May I always be aware and thankful for the supernatural that God does in my life every day, may I always be ready to explain those God stories to others so they will see the goodness of God, and may I have great faith to give God the little I have, to thank Him for it, and see the supernatural abundance He produces!

God’s supernatural working in our lives isn’t just so we will live a blessed life, but it is so we will demonstrate the goodness of God so others will want what we have!

God’s supernatural power is about building God’s kingdom!

 

 

“Unexplained Faith is Useless”

This is a something my pastor has been saying lately and it really makes a lot of sense, 

“Unexplained faith is useless.”

Though I didn’t realize it at the time I experienced the reality of this just the other day.

Today, June 13th, Mark and I are celebrating our 37th wedding anniversary! Mark received a gift certificate for his birthday to The Grange restaurant up in Warwick, so we decided to use it this past Sunday.

After enjoying an incredibly delicious meal and reminiscing of many years together, the waitress brought the check. As Mark handed her the gift certificate I mentioned that we used it to celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary.

I wasn’t thinking that it would be an opportunity to explain my faith, but…

I could tell by her response that she was really amazed at the amount of years we had been married. She then said that she and her boyfriend had been together for four years and that it had been a lot of hard work.

A door was opened to explain my faith!

I could have just responded with a simple answer like, “Yeah, it has been a lot of work for us as well.” But to answer with something that left her thinking we were married for 37 years because we worked hard at it or that it was because of how great we are, would have been unexplained faith, and it would have been useless. To answer in any way that led her to believe it was because of us would have denied the grace of God and the glory that belongs to Him.

I am thankful that God gave me the answer to say to her…

“It has only been by the grace of God.”

Then I told her I appreciated a song that was played while Mark and I were eating, “This Little Light of Mine.” I told her that it is my prayer that our family shine as bright stars in this dark world.

She asked me what book that was from.

I said it is in the Bible, in the book of Philippians.

Then she said that her favorite verse is Philippians 4:13.

What?! She knows the Bible?! She has a favorite verse?!

Then she said that her mom says she should pick up the Bible and read it. And of course that’s when I said, “Yeah, that’s a mama’s heart!”

So, I encouraged her to read through the book of Philippians because there are a lot of other really good verses found there!

As we rode home that evening I thought through our short, but amazing conversation. I realized that was an example of explained faith. I realized, though it wasn’t planned and intentional, that is how God intends for me to live.

“…you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” 1 Peter 3:15

I’m sure that young woman has a praying mother and perhaps that opportunity to share our faith was an answer to her prayers. Perhaps our example of God’s grace through 37 years of marriage and our words of truth watered those seeds that her mother planted years ago and will continue to grow salvation in her heart. And you can be sure I have said several prayers for her as well!

Unexplained faith is useless!

But not only is it useless, it denies God of the glory He deserves and it keeps God’s truth hidden from others who need to know Him!

So, as Mark and I celebrate 37 years of marriage this year I am thankful for the opportunity to testify of God’s amazing grace to a young woman who needed to be reminded that, “(She) can do everything through Christ, who gives (her) strength. And though relationships are hard, God is the One who makes them last. There certainly have been hard situations through these many years when the enemy came with strategies to steal, kill, and destroy the covenant we made before God, family, and friends. Our weaknesses and vulnerable areas have been tested and tried. We have given in to the enemy’s strategies, but what he meant for our harm we have chosen to trust God’s grace to work together for our good. The very areas the enemy has tried to steal have been the very things that have made us strong. The very things meant to divide have bound us together. It is because of those stumbles and those falls that we know we haven’t arrived here on our own, and in fact, they keep us trusting God even more.

We know God deserves all the credit!

And this needs to be my attitude towards all my life. God made a covenant with me when I believed in His Son, Jesus, as my Savior. He adopted me into His family and has promised never to leave me or forsake me. He has promised to take care of me and to provide for me. I am here to be loved by God, to know Him, and to be known by Him.

“…for in Him we live and move and have our being,” Acts 17:28

Everything I am and all that I have is from God!

And so my response to others should always explain my faith. Rather than taking the credit or leaving the truth hidden, I must take the opportunity to give God the credit and to share the truth of who He is and of what He says!