Daily Archives: July 1, 2021

America: The Home I Love

eagle flying with an American flag

 

I’ve hiked in the Alps and jumped waves in the French Riviera. I’ve been to the top of the Eiffel Tower and peered into the Roman Coliseum. I’ve walked in the “favelas” (poor neighborhoods) of Brazil and avoided the potholes in Ukraine. But even with all these international adventures, something special ignited in my heart every time my family landed on American soil. Whatever airport we stepped into—in New York, Atlanta, Dallas, or Miami—my heart knew I was home.

What makes America home to you?

To me, America is the place that freedom lives. The place where we still crave independence from oppression. It’s home to family and friends who love God and strive to make the world a better place. America is hope in the midst of tragedy, of good people reaching out to others who need shelter, healing, or a voice.

America is Caucasian police officers bringing candy and toys to predominantly African-American neighborhoods and building a rapport with the children of those communities. It’s an African-American grandmother stopping in the park to pray for a local fair-skinned cop. America is churches of different denominations gathering together for worship and prayer. America is retired nurses and doctors driving hours across state lines to take care of COVID-19 patients. To me, the true “American” spirit is a spirit of strength, kindness, and sacrifice.

On this July Fourth weekend, we may or may not be able to celebrate as we normally would, gathering in huge crowds to watch fireworks or sing anthems. But we can celebrate in our hearts, homes, and elsewhere what makes America home to us. I celebrate the good I see Americans doing, and “good” is exactly what God has directed us to do.

“As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10 NKJV)

God’s call to “do good” is tailored for every generation. Some “good” never changes, like showing love, spreading kindness, and sharing the gospel. But how we do those good things is tailored for our present-day circumstances. Today we have resources that America’s first leaders didn’t have, like radio, television, and the internet. Our reach today is broader, and that means our light can shine farther than ever before. We can do good with the resources we have and adapt our message for every person seeking independence.

The founding fathers saw it as good to declare independence from tyranny and oppression. Today let us declare independence from the tyranny of fear and prejudice. Let us declare independence from worry and despair. We can seek God’s help to stay free from harmful habits or detrimental ways of thinking. We can strive to make a difference so others may experience freedom in Christ. And God calls us to never stop doing good.

“Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV)

Don’t lose heart, America. Let’s be a part of the good that we want to see happen in this country that we call home. Let’s declare that our hearts belong to Jesus and we want everyone possible to know Him as Savior and Lord. Jesus is the greatest good we can share at home and around the world. If we are faithful in our generation, with God’s help we can reap a harvest of great good.

Today’s Devotions

 

July 1

2 Kings 2:9-11 9When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. 10“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours–otherwise not.” 11As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

Elijah had done as the LORD commanded him and called Elisha to be the prophet in his place. The time had come for Elijah to depart this world and Elisha knew it. He would not leave the side of Elijah even though Elijah asked him to stay behind. He must have known by the Spirit of God that if he stuck close to Elijah he would be blessed.

When they arrived at the place to which the LORD had led them, Elijah asked if there was anything he could do for Elisha. Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. The spirit of a man is his relationship and zeal for God. Elijah left it in God’s hands by saying that if he saw him when he was taken up from him he would know his request was granted. Sure enough, he saw it happen.

When Elijah called Elisha he threw his cloak over him. Now he left his cloak behind for him. When we look through the ministry of Elisha, we find twice as many miracles recorded as were recorded in the life of Elijah. He did receive the double portion he asked for.

What would you have asked for? This reminds us of Solomon’s request for wisdom to rule. What we ask for depends on the calling the LORD has placed on our lives. The desire behind our request should be that our calling be effective and influential for the sake of the Kingdom of God. If our heart is to serve in the most God honoring way possible, I believe God is willing to grant our request. If our request is to be equipped to please our King, we should expect it to be granted.

Consider: We need to show the tenacity that Elisha showed in not leaving Elijah’s side until the LORD equips us for our calling.

Dependence Day

by Shawn McEvoy crosswalk, com

So now, come back to your God! Act with love and justice, and always depend on him. ~ Hosea 12:6, NLT

The ‘Fourth of July’ devotional.

It fell to me this year.

And whoa if I didn’t have a firecracker of a time coming up with what to write.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not riding on the trendy bandwagon of American self-loathing. I love my country. I dig personal and religious freedom. Without a free press I’d be out of a job, and without free speech I’d be locked up somewhere. But not here!

So why the long face on red-white-and-blue, take-a-day-off, fire-up-the-grill day?

Because Christianity has so little yet too much to do with the American Dream.

Because I get sad when I consider the evolution ‘Freedom’ has undertaken just in my lifetime – from “allowed to act responsibly” to “if it feels good do it” to “absolutely anything goes and don’t even try to suggest otherwise, or we might just take away your freedom.”

Because “Independence Day” is a disconnect for me, devotionally speaking, from things I know to be true: that independence has never served me well where family or friends or work colleagues or society or the Church or the Lord are concerned.

And so, left without the trite and tried-but-true for today’s devotional, I settled on the short, bittersweet, and eternal…

Neither politics nor religion nor any mixing of the two will save me.

Some things really are messed up. Many valuable things are really not mess-up-able. A few things that are require only repentance or the granting of forgiveness to restore.

The necessity of increased faith

By: Charles Spurgeon

“And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” Luke 17:5

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 4:13-25

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” They went to the right person. They did not say to themselves, “I will increase my faith;” they did not cry to the minister, “Preach a comforting sermon, and increase my faith;” they did not say, “I will read such-and-such a book, and that will increase my faith.” No, they said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” Faith’s author can alone increase it. I could inflate your faith till it turned into presumption, but I could not make it grow. It is God’s work to feed faith, as well as to give it life at first; and if any of you desire to have a growing faith, go and take your burden this morning to God’s throne, crying, “Lord, increase our faith!” If you feel that your troubles have been increased, go to the Lord, and say, “Increase our faith!” If your money is accumulating, go to the Lord, and say, “Increase our faith;” for you will want more faith as you get more prosperity. If your property is diminishing, go to him, and say, “Increase our faith,” so that what you lose in one scale you may gain in the other. Are you sickly and full of pain this morning? Go to your Master, and say, “Increase our faith, so that I may not be impatient, but be able to bear it well.” Are you tired and weary? Go and supplicate, “Increase our faith!” Have you little faith? Take it to God, and he will turn it into great faith. There is no hot-house for growing tender plants in like a house that is within the curtains—the tabernacle of God, where his glory dwells.