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Posts Tagged ‘mercy’

A gentle breeze ruffled the massive oaks on the sprawling spring-green lawn of the Texas Capital in Austin this past week. Eight-thousand-plus people were gathered to pray.

Graham Decision America

The sights and sounds of people of like mind and faith—some kneeling, some with hands lifted, some standing—all with heads and hearts bowed, humbled before the Sovereign God of the Universe, confessing the sins of our fathers, the sins of our nation, and our own sins.

How sweet was the sound of those voices lifted to Heaven, recognizing the only hope for our nation comes from The Lord God Almighty and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  As we held hands and prayed with people of many races, nations, and ages, I felt the presence of the Lord and His peace and knew we were standing on holy ground.

Graham Boss picture

At the close of the hour of prayer, we sang God Bless America, and my eyes could no longer hold back the tears.

And this scene is being repeated in State after State, as Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son, calls Americans to prayer. Praying not to a god of our imagination, or an idol of wood or stone, but to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—The God of all creation—El Shaddai, The Lord God Almighty.

Graham crowd flags

The only God. The God of our forefathers. And the God upon whose principles America was founded and has prospered–until we chose to turn our backs in ridicule of His holiness and righteousness and march to the tune of our own drum beat.

But our God is a God of mercy, forgiveness, grace, and a love so deep our tiny hearts and minds do not have the ability to comprehend, unless we choose to come to the cross, and allow His Spirit to teach us His way.

In II Chronicles 7:14 God gave His people the following instructions:

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land.”

Graham Boots

Almost 2,700 years ago a young Jewish teen was captured and carried to Babylon with thousands of other Jews. Jews who were given over to judgment by this same righteous, holy God for many of the same offenses Americans are participating in today. Their priests were corrupt. Their kings were evil. The people had forsaken the Lord God Almighty and perverted their worship and their ways.

According to His Word, God had to judge them, just as He will have to judge us. Scripture tells us, “God is the same today, yesterday, and forever.”

This Jewish teen, Daniel, spent seventy years in Babylon, just as God had told them through the prophet Jeremiah, and Daniel realized because of the books—God’s Word recorded by the prophets from the beginning—the time of their desolation was almost completed. So Daniel “…set his face before the Lord God to make requests by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sack cloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3 NKJV).  “Oh Lord, to us belongs shame of face to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You” (Daniel 9:8 NKJV).

Daniel’s prayer is recorded in the 9th Chapter of Daniel, and I plead with you—take time to study this prayer and use it as a model, a template, for your prayer time.

Graham children a

If you are concerned about the state of our nation, the condition of our homes and churches, and the peril facing our children, I ask you to set aside time every day to come apart from the chaos of your life and earnestly seek God—confessing your sins, seeking His forgiveness, asking His directions, and pleading for Him to create in you an insatiable appetite for His Word.

We are in trouble, folks. Trouble no political party or candidate can fix. Trouble no stable economy or being great again can mend. If we are to survive as a nation and a people, we must seek God. Now. If like Daniel, we look at the Book, we will know there’s little time left to seek God’s mercy and grace and forgiveness. Little time left for our generation to repent and return to the God of our Fathers.

Graham Capital

                        GOD, PLEASE RESTORE AND BLESS AMERICA

 

 

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Have you ever held a baby lamb? Felt the softness of the white wool? And understood the vulnerability of this little creature?

In the 12th Chapter of Exodus God instructed Moses to have each household of the congregation of Israel take a lamb for themselves, according to the number of people in the family.
Their lamb had to be an unblemished male, a year old, and they were to care for until the fourteenth day of the same month.

Can you imagine the joy of the younger children in the household?
I can hear them say, “Oh Daddy, can we keep the lamb?” But on the fourteenth day of that month, at twilight, each special lamb, in every household of the congregation of Israel was killed.

Imagine the number of lambs slain that night. Imagine the tension in each family. Imagine the fear. The anticipation. The hope. They were instructed to paint some of the blood on the two doorposts and on the lintels of their houses.

Roasting directions were given and they were to eat all of the lamb, have their clothes packed, and be ready to leave Egypt at dawn. This meal would be known forever as The Lord’s Passover—the night the Lord passed through Egypt and killed the first-born of every household without the lamb’s blood on the doorposts.

God told Israel, “I am the Lord.” And the blood would be a sign for them, when He saw the blood He would pass over them, and no plague would destroy them when He struck Egypt. And God did just as He promised.

This Passover Celebration continues in Jewish households today and is a permanent ordinance for them. Forever. The date of this event would have been around 1445 B.C.

Let’s fast-forward through the pages of the Old Testament. God told Israel over and over again in the fullness of time their would be another lamb. One Lamb, Messiah, Prince of Peace would come and deliver them. And they envisioned a king. A king who would sweep in, deliver them from all their woes, set up a regal kingdom and life would be good. They refused to hear and understand what God said.

We have the complete Word of God. They didn’t. And we still refuse to hear God’s Word. Like the stubborn and prideful Israelites, we apply our own understanding to what He has said rather than read and heed the beautiful painting of words our merciful God has preserved for us?

From that Passover night in Egypt how fitting that shepherds would receive the good news of the long awaited Savior—Christ, the Lord—a baby—God’s Passover Lamb, laying in a manger in Bethlehem. Just where the prophets said He would be. Yet, everyone but the shepherds missed it.

God’s Lamb left His throne in heaven and submitted Himself to the confines of a human being in order to become our Kinsman Redeemer. He loved us enough to live on this hostile, sin-filled planet in order to become our perfect, Passover Lamb. He obeyed the Father’s just judgment in order that you and I might be painted with His blood and washed clean and white. Forgiven. And through God’s mercy and grace and love adopted into His family. Forever.

Have the door posts of your life been painted with the blood of the Perfect Lamb, God’s Only Lamb, your Passover Lamb?DSCF2349

If you hear His voice today, be very sure, because the Word tells us He’s coming again. And soon. And this time He won’t be in a stable in Bethlehem. He will be The Prince of Peace, The Lord of Lords, and The King of Kings. Forever.

“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:37-40 NAS).

Have a joyful and blessed Christmas as we celebrate The Lamb!

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How many times each day do I say “that’s too much?” The grocery clerk hits the total key and I gasp, “Oh my goodness. I didn’t realize I spent that much.” I step on the scales and realize those cookies I gobbled yesterday expressed themselves in two additional pounds. Overnight. A new house, a new car or even a new suit or dress seem to be twice-times-double these days. And I repeat, it’s all too much.

The nightly news broadcasts problems everywhere—at home and abroad. Hideous crimes plague our nation, our homes, and our families, tramping  underfoot moral and spiritual values. Our children and grandchildren are forced to confront problems, situations, and people they should never have had to face.

The entertainment industry wallows in the depths of depravity and beckons us to join them. And many do. The definition of marriage has been defiled and this nation is going the way of Sodom and Gomorrah. The number of aborted babies since Roe v. Wade numbers fifty-four million and counting.  The City of Chicago is a killing field with more murders there than have been military casualties in Afghanistan. Human slave trafficking in the United States traps untold numbers of our children and teens each year. All of these things are too much.

Politicians, regardless of party, and judges have taken oaths to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America but are openly passing legislation shredding our liberties and ripping apart the Constitution to ideologies of a rogue minority. Responsible financial stewardship is a lost concept in government and in our families. Checks and balances that were established to maintain a democratic government, forbidding any one of the three branches to force power on the other two has been demolished. And the Congress of the United States of America has allowed itself to be neutered because of their greedy grabs for power that are changing the face of America. Forever.

“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;  but when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2 NIV).

Yet when I turn on my computer to write this blog I’m advised to entertain you with pleasant antidotes, endearing personal stories, and to use pictures. Lots of pictures.  And, for goodness sake, they say,  don’t sound preachy and don’t use too much scripture. I’m told audiences don’t have an appetite for the truth of the Word of God.  These experts say it’s okay to gently point folks to God and to the Word, but anything with enough meat of the Word that folks could chew on  and receive nourishment from would be too much for them to swallow.

So how much is too much? And how much is not enough?

Look at the state of our nation and our homes. Could it be each one of us have not shared enough of our Lord’s words with our neighbors. Or could it be we don’t know enough of His Word to share?

Are we going to recognize, before it’s too late, that we have moved God’s ancient boundaries? Boundaries He established to protect us and keep us in a position to receive an abundance of His blessings.  The Lord God has called His people to come apart and be different. To be holy as He is holy.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NIV)

The Old Testament is the historical text of Israel choices to be like everybody around them and when God rescued them from slavery, they even wished to return to Egypt. After centuries of warnings, mercy and grace, God finally said that’s too much and He sent nations to carry His people out of their land and scattered them among the nations.  And for centuries the Jewish people have paid an enormous price for their rejection of God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

But God is a faithful covenant keeper, even when we’re not.

God delivered our forefathers from religious bondage and brought them to America. He gave these courageous men and women the freedom to worship Him in any manner they chose. And they gave their lives to establish this great nation—One Nation, Under God. The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and the blood of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution calls us to consider our path; to repent and return to principles and precepts of God so that He can hear our cries and heal our land. It’s all there in the pages of His truth, folks. People of God—we are the problem.

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).

Bible surveys demonstrate how little Americans read and know the Word of God. Even many within the church know more about Downton Abbey than they know about God’s story. It’s evident that we can’t live and teach our children what we don’t know.

If you or I had the cure for cancer we’d be shouting it from the rooftops. We have the remedy for all of the sins of our nation and our people. The Scriptures are our road map. But we remain silent.

Unless God’s people get serious and repent, learning to live in the power of His Spirit so we don’t fulfill the deeds of the flesh, living to bring honor to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and living so that the nations will know that He is the Lord–America will not survive.

So please tell me, how could we ever have too much scripture? When we stand before God how will we explain our loss of appetite for the truth of His ancient Word? Words preserved for us by the blood of the prophets. Our actions shout like those Jewish exiles, we’d rather go back to Egypt.  Because obedience to Your Word, God, is just too much.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”  (Romans 15:4 NIV).

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I decided to grow tomatoes this summer. So I visited the nursery, picked out six different varieties of tomatoes, and took them home to plant in their assigned pots. I gave them a drink of water, and dreamed of eating the fruit of my labor in fifty to sixty days.

At the first light of dawn each day I gave them another drink and inspected the amazing new growth that appeared overnight.

Until the morning the first worm appeared.

I plucked the yucky creature from the plant, squashed it, and mourned over the sculpted bite marks the varmint chiseled in the leaf.

My routine continued ‘til tiny green lumps replaced the yellow blossoms. Now the wait for my soon-to-be yummy tomatoes. I licked my lips, anticipating the taste of those home-grown delights.

Sunny days transformed the spheres from small to large and pale green. They hung heavy on their stalks and began to change color as they ripened. I counted the days and envisioned salads garnished with tomato wedges or sliced tomatoes sprinkled with fresh basil and goat cheese. My taste buds danced a jig of anticipation.

Then, the day before yesterday, Memorial Day, with a cup-of-coffee in hand, I walked into the garden just as the sun cleared the tree tops to give my treasures another drink and see to if this was the day.

I gasped. Horrified.

One enormous, lovely tomato hung sideways on its stem, half of it gaped open, the other half dripped its juice on the leaf below where hungry ants gobbled their breakfast. The villain—a mockingbird—sat in the tree above my head screeching at me for interrupting its breakfast, eyeing the labor of my days—intent on stealing what was mine.

I’d show him.

I plucked the maimed fruit and tossed it far away from the pots. That bird swooped in like it was the last particle of food on the planet. Through the day I peered from every window to be sure he contained himself to the cast-away fruit. But yesterday morning, he returned  before the sun rose and pecked at three more of my soon-to-be-delicious-darlings. This was war.

I ran—yes, ran—to the closet where the Christmas ornaments waited for next season, grabbed a box of shiny red balls, dug a roll of wire out of the drawer, and cut pieces to thread each scarlet sphere. With arms full of Christmas cheer, I made haste back to the garden and tied them onto the tomato cages, hoping to fool the bird with fake red circular objects.

And while I was gone, that bird pecked holes in the top of yet another ripening tomato.

These tomatoes would never make it to a salad. But the aroma of fried green tomatoes wafted through my senses. Ah ha! Even though the fruit was mangled, I could salvage the good portions and repurpose them into a delectable delight.

Just like my plan changed those damaged tomatoes into a scrumptious meal, God uses broken, battered, blemished people to accomplish His magnificent plan. He created us in His image and we are His treasures. Though we all bear the bruises of sin, He loves us and knows the plan He purposed for our lives.

But like that rascal mockingbird bent on gobbling up my tomatoes, Satan eyes us, lurking, waiting to subvert God’s plan and destroy the object of our Lord’s affection.

Jesus stands ready to answer our cries for help. He will rescue us, clean us up, and set us back on solid ground. We are the object of God’s love and He will transform us into the image of His Son. God’s love is wide and deep. No attack or scar of sin is beyond His mercy and grace to forgive and heal.

My Mama used to say, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can sure keep them from making a nest there.” My tomatoes had no defense in a battle against the birds—but we have a defense against Satan by placing our faith and trust in The Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s your choice. Run to Jesus when Satan lobs those flaming arrows or you can allow this enemy to build a nest in your mind, deceive your heart, and destroy your eternal soul.

I’m on my way to the garden again this morning to see if those red Christmas balls solved my bird problem. But first, I must spend time with my Lord for an attitude adjustment, in the event more fried green tomatoes are on the menu.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope” (NAS Jeremiah 29:11).  

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