Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Independence Day!


Did you know?



The Fourth of July – also known as Independence Day or July 4th – has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

John Adams believed that July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence and would reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest. Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826—the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of a resolution for independence in a near-unanimous vote (the New York delegation abstained, but later voted affirmatively). On that day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

The most common symbol of the holiday is the American flag, and a common musical accompaniment is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States.

Have a safe and wonderful Independence Day!!!

Be blessed and be a blessing!

God is Love






"What is love? What is the definition of love?"

What is the origin of love? The Bible tells us that love originates in God.



“God is love” is a direct quote from two different verses in the Bible—1 John 4:8 and 1 John 4:16. However, this truth, which is a description of the fundamental nature of God, is expressed many times in other scriptures.



In the English language, the word love is forced to bear the burden of a multitude of meanings. We “love” everything from pancakes to parents, but in vastly different ways. The languages in which the Bible was written, Hebrew and Greek, are more precise in that they utilize different words for the different types of love. The ancient languages differentiate among sexual, brotherly, and familial love, and the kind of love that God has for creation and that we may have for Him.

The Hebrew word yada and the Greek word eros are the words used to indicate sexual love. In Genesis 38, Judah makes love with a woman he assumes is a prostitute. In the original Hebrew of verse 26, the word is yada, meaning “to know” and in this context “to know carnally” or “to have sexual intercourse with.” In the New Testament, the Greek word eros is not found because there is no context in which it might be used.

The second type of love is the brotherly love that exists between close friends regardless of gender. There is no sexual connotation; it is the love for and by a friend. The Hebrew word is ahabah, and it is used to describe the love between David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20:17. The Greek word for brotherly love or affection is phileo, as used to refer to friendship in John 15:19 and Hebrews 13:1.

The Hebrew word for Family or tribal love is once again ahabah, indicating a deep affection, and the Greek word is storge. We find ahabah throughout the Old Testament because of its broad range of meanings, but the Greek word storge is only found in the New Testament as a part of a compound word (e.g., it’s combined with phileo in 2 Timothy 3:3).

Finally, there is the Hebrew word chesed and the Greek word agape, which are used to express the kind of love God demonstrates toward His elect. Chesed is often translated as “steadfast love” or “lovingkindness.” A good example of chesed is found in Numbers 14:18, “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression” (Numbers 14:18, ESV). God’s chesed love is why He never gives up on those He has adopted as His children. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people repeatedly fell into idolatry and sin, yet He always preserved a remnant; He never gives up on His people. The reason is His chesed love.

A similar idea found in the New Testament is the Greek word agapeAgape love is the goodwill and benevolence of God shown in self-sacrifice and an unconditional commitment to loved one. Agape is similar to chesed in that it is steadfast, regardless of circumstances. Agape love is the kind of love we are to have for God in fulfillment of the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37). Jesus wants to instill agape in His followers as we serve others through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

In the most basic sense, love is the emotion felt and actions performed by someone concerned for the well-being of another person. Love involves affection, compassion, care, and self-sacrifice. Love originates in the Triune Godhead, within the eternal relationship that exists among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Loving is unique to the human experience of being an image-bearer of God. A pet owner may love her dog; she is concerned for its well-being and cares for it. On the other hand, her dog doesn’t truly love her. Oh, it wags its tail, sits by her, and comes when she calls, but all those responses are based on the fact that she feeds it and keeps it warm. Animals cannot love in the same way that humans, created in God’s image, can love.



Here is the bottom line on love: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.… We love because he first loved us.”

This is the meaning of “God is Love!”




Be Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Purpose



Walking in God’s Purpose…



God’s purpose for us goes beyond our physical, temporary lives.
God has put “eternity in their hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He didn’t create us to burn like a candle for just a short time, but—if we will accept the incredible mission and purpose He has for us—to shine “like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3)!

God’s essential characteristic is love. He created us and gives us purpose in life because He loves us. And He wants us to learn the eternal joys of this complete and perfect love!

You can discover the many promises that God has given us in His Word. He has a purpose and a plan for each of our lives.



Be Blessed and be a blessing!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Faith



Faith is Alive



What is James telling us in this verse? Faith without works is like a dead body; it can do nothing. The body without the Spirit is the scriptural definition of death. The Spirit doesn't die; the body does.

May we - because of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us - find that we can’t help but love the unlovely, feed the poor, pray for the sick, and forgive our enemies. What a powerful witness that would be for the world around us to see.

Be Blessed and be a Blessing!


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Fruitful Life




Live a Fruitful Life

The Bible often uses the metaphor of fruit to describe the produce of our lives. Are we producing fruit? A fruitful Christian (Christ Follower) will produce better results: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life” (Proverbs 11:30).

Fruit is the direct result of whatever controls our hearts (Matthew 15:19). The fruit of the Spirit of God is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).

God the Father is the gardener and He desires for us to be fruitful. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). As branches cling to the vine, we cling to Christ, drawing our very life from Him. The goal is “much fruit,” as Christ uses us to bring about blessed, celestial results in a broken, fallen world

Fruit results from planted seeds. When seeds grow the bear fruit.  True fruitfulness begins in the heart with the fruit of the Spirit. That inner fruit affects outward actions; our words and our activities will glorify the Lord, and God’s will is accomplished. God’s desire is to transform us into the image of Christ and make us as fruitful as He was.



Fruit represents outward, visible behavior.  Here are some inward qualities:

Love: Am I motivated by love for people?

Joy: Do I exhibit an unshakable joy, regardless of circumstances?

Peace: Do people see my inward peace and take courage?

Longsuffering/Patience: Do I wait patiently for results as I develop others or goals?

Kindness: Am I caring and understanding toward everyone I meet?

Goodness: Do I want the best for others?

Faithfulness: Have I kept my commitments?

Gentleness: Is my strength under control? Can I be both tough and tender?

Self-Control: Am I disciplined to may progress tow my goals?



Be Blessed and be a Blessing!



Monday, June 11, 2018

Self-Control





Why is the final fruit of the Spirit, Self-Control, so important in governing our decisions, especially in relation to demonstrating the other fruit?

For Christ-Followers self-control is not merely about temperament. It is about resisting the temptation to break God’s law (which includes losing our temper) and react to others without demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in our thoughts and actions. The apostle Paul wrote about bringing “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Since thoughts lead to actions, this includes controlling ourselves completely, despite the pulls of temptations.

Romans 7:23 describes it in this way: “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Paul is describing this pull of human nature that makes us think it is “natural” to sin.

We have to remember that the “natural” is part of this world, temporarily run by Satan the devil (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Therefore, as godly Christians, we recognize that self-control includes abstaining from the evils of the world.

1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

What is self-control? It is the active effort we put forth to resist the temptation to go back to the ways of the world around us once we’ve been shown God’s spiritual way of life. It is demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit instead of committing the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-23).

Why does God want us to demonstrate self-control?


The reason God wants us to grow in self-control ties in with all the other fruit of the Spirit that are listed in Galatians 5:22-23.

We are in a battle. As we read in 1 John 2:16, “All that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” That is Satan’s idea for the world, as we see in John 8:44: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

God’s idea for the world, on the other hand, includes having everyone demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

So where does self-control come in? Everywhere.

It takes self-control to show true godly love instead of lust and infatuation—to love others not as the world loves, but as Christ loved us. “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians5:2).

It takes self-control to have godly joy when we are facing a difficult situation in life. “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

It takes self-control to get along with others and make peace instead of constantly getting into conflict. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9).

It takes self-control to patiently bear with others rather than quickly condemning them. It’s very hard to “be patient with all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

It takes self-control to not automatically look out only for yourself but kindly look out for other people (Philippians 2:4).

It takes self-control to do good, to go through the narrow gate toward life rather than the evil, wide gate toward destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

It takes self-control to be faithful and not have our faith shattered by the mocking of scoffers (2Peter 3:3-4).

It takes self-control to be a gentle servant of the Lord (2 Timothy 2:24), showing compassion and mercy with real love as God does with us.


Be Blessed and be a Blessing!



Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Fruit of Gentleness




Gentleness: The Fruit of the Spirit



In Matthew 11:29, Christ said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Christ is making a connection between gentleness and humility.

This connection is also seen elsewhere in the Bible. The apostle Paul reinforced this idea in 2Corinthians 10:1: “Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you but being absent am bold toward you.”

Paul included the words meekness and lowly in conjunction with gentleness. These words help show that gentleness requires humility, because along with pride and feelings of superiority come rough reactions and stubborn, know-it-all answers.

What is gentleness? It is the humble and meek attitude of wanting to help other people instead of wanting to be superior to them. This attitude flows from a spirit of real love for the individual—having true, outgoing concern for their well-being. Such an attitude is shown in how we think about and treat others and what we say to them.

Philippians 4:5 tells us to “let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” Why does God want those He is working with to be concerned with how gently they think, act or talk? God has all the power in the universe, yet He is gentle with us, and He wants us to learn to be like Him. Then, when He gives us power, He will know that we will not use it cruelly or rashly.

Since humility is closely connected with gentleness, so we need to also consider how God views humility. James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 both say, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34). God resists pride, including our prideful justifications for not being gentle to those who have offended us, who have been harsh to us or who we don’t feel deserve gentleness. These attitudes are prideful and lead to rationalizing away the need to be gentle.

God wants us to show the same gentleness that Christ showed to the woman caught in adultery (John8:1-11). Instead of being full of pride and self-righteously casting the first stone at a sinner, we are to follow the example of Christ, gently telling someone to go and sin no more. This is an example of gentleness God wants us to learn from.

Why? There are several reasons: God is overwhelmingly gentle with us when we sin and need correction, and He expects us to be the same way with others. Also, gentleness shows the world that the way of violent encounters and situations ruled by emotion is not the better way. And God wants us to demonstrate gentleness because human beings require a gentle touch in order to truly change their lives and come to Him.

Being gentle doesn’t mean that we should not be strong in our beliefs, but it does imply that we should be wise and loving in expressing those beliefs to others. God shows tough love and teaches hard lessons to us, all the while being the very definition of gentleness.


Be Blessed and be a Blessing!




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Independence Day!

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