Friday, November 30, 2012

The Performance Trap

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Fri., Nov. 30, 2012:  I John 1:1-10

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:7-9 (NKJV)

Each of us is in a battle against our spiritual enemy called the devil.  Perhaps his greatest weapon against us is TRUTH that is misinterpreted and misapplied.  He distorts reality and beats you over the head with it, thus rendering you vulnerable to further temptations and attacks.  Satan is called the accuser of the brethren, and he takes things that are true and applies them to your life in a way that nullifies and disqualifies you.

We all tend to try to please God by following the rules.  There are at least 613 rules found in the Bible.  Have you tried lately to keep all of them?  It is quite a task.  We fall into the PERFORMANCE TRAP.  We feel that our value or worth is based on how we perform in rule-keeping.

That's where the devil steps in and gives you some "truth."  He says to you, "You'll never measure up.  You're just NOT GOOD ENOUGH."  We fall into a trap in which there is no way out.  If we bow up and keep all the rules, we become proud of our performance!  We can do this for a little while, but inevitably we mess up and then we're back to "square one."  Or, on the other hand, we acknowledge up front that, yes, we are in fact not good enough and descend then into a sense of failure and condemnation.  Satan always takes it further.  He tells us that not only are we not good enough, but also we are just plain NO GOOD at all.  He is the accuser of the brethren.

How do we make it out of this trap?  How can we ever measure up?  The answer is in I John 1.  God already knows our condition, and He loves us anyway.  That does not mean that He winks at sin and doesn't care.  In fact, He cares enough to send Jesus to account for our sins. 

He says to us now, "I know that you have failed.  So, just come to Me.  Walk with Me.  Walk in the light."  He asks us to do only one thing.  He does not say, "Try harder", or "Get serious."  He says, "Only confess your sin to me, and I will wash it away."  HE ALREADY ACCEPTS YOU on the basis of Jesus.  You have already measured up.  Your performance should not be to GET His approval, but as a response FROM His approval.  That makes all the difference.

So, the next time the devil tells you that you are not good enough, just respond by tell him, "Yes, you're absolutely right.  I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH, but JESUS IS!!!  And since I am in Christ, that makes me good enough too."  We can then walk in purity -- walk in joy -- walk in the fulness of our God.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Memory Problems

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Thursday, November 29, 2012: II Peter 3:1-18

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder).  II Peter 3:1 (NKJV)

Memory loss and memory problems is a facinating topic.  Most doctors and psychologists list six to seven common memory problems.  They range from transience (this means "use it or lose it"; unused facts tend to be forgotten) to absent-mindedness (failure to pay attention usually due to distraction) to blocking (subconcious decisions to submerge some things). 

This can be a distressing and maddening problem.  It can lead to missed opportunities and embarrassing moments.  Memory issues are important to us and affect major parts of our lives.  This is not just a part of getting older.  We even call them "senior moments."  It affects all people of all ages.

But the Bible takes us further.  From a spiritual perspective we really have only two memory problems.  We don't remember the things we SHOULD remember, and we DO remember the things that we should forget and put behind us.  We tend to forget the good and remember the bad. 

Back in I Peter 1:19, the apostle speaks to us about PROBLEM #1.  He warns us about forgetting how we have been "cleansed from our former sins" (I Peter 1:9).  When we do that, he says we will stumble through life.  We forget the good things God has done for us. We forget our heritage.  We forget our identity in Christ.  It's like walking blindfolded.  This is a major problem all followers of Jesus must deal with. We tend to forget God's Word, and in so doing, we lose direction.

Paul talks about PROBLEM #2 in Philippians 3:13 when he says, "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead."  There are things in our past that need to be buried.  We should stop dragging them into the great future God has for us.  In this sense, our memory can be a huge obstacle to going forward.  Our past traps us and seeks to distort any chance of a better tomorrow.

Peter says that one of the purposes of these two letters (I Peter and II Peter) is to help us with our memory problems.  He wants to do this in a particular way.  He says that he wants to "stir up your pure minds."  That is an interesting wrinkle.  He speaks to us of a "pure mind."  What does that mean?  It seems logical that if you have a "pure mind" perhaps you also have an "evil mind."  This memory challenge may really be a matter of which mind you stir up!

Maybe it is not a matter of the actually memories of your past that are the problem.  It is a matter of which mind gets stirred up.  The same events can have totally different meaning based on how they are viewed.  We all have made mistakes.  We all have regrets.  But, we also agree that we should learn from these past experiences.  Even the worst events can become building blocks to a wonderful future if we will let God use them -- let God redeem them -- let God speak to us out of them. 

In the final analysis, our memory problems are really mind problems.  We need to forget the devil's interpretation of our past, but we need to remember God's statements and God's actions.  We need to not dwell on how we have failed, but instead meditate on how God redeems.  We need to see God's hand more than we see the devil's attacks.  We need to allow Him to show us how He has been with us all the way.

This battle between your redeemed "pure mind" and your defeated "evil mind" is an important topic.  It bears our daily consideration because it involves the very meaning and direction of our lives.  That's why Peter wanted to encourage you today.  He wants to stir up your pure mind by reminding you that Jesus is still on the throne.  Your past is forgiven.  Your future is in God's hands.  Our faithful God is painting a masterpiece.  It is called "YOUR LIFE."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

False Teachers and False Prophets

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Wed., Nov. 28, 2012: II Peter 2:1-22

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.  II Peter 2:1 (NIV)

It is downright amazing to see how many weird and wacky doctrines are floating around in our world today. And even more amazing is the gullibility of thousands of followers who flock to these false teachers. They appear at first to be the best of people -- doing much good and helping hurting people.  But, their ultimate end is not good.  In some cases, it is destruction.

Jesus gave us a warning.  In Matthew 7:15, He says, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves."  Paul echoes this thought in Acts 20:29 when he says that after his departure "savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock."  These wolves come FROM WITHOUT but dress up to look like they are FROM WITHIN.  They show up INSIDE the church, but their message and objectives are FOREIGN to the true mission of Jesus.

This may sound a bit dramatic, but a little history will help illustrate this truth.  Jim Jones was one of the most tragic figures of modern time.  As a young man in 1951, he actually began as a communist party member, but found that no one would listen to him until he decided to "infiltrate the church."  After years of social and cultural work building his own small empire (the People's Temple in San Francisco), he led many of his followers in what was one of the largest mass suicides of history in Jonestown, Guyana.  Most accounts say that 1,212 people (303 of them children) "drank the Kool-Aid" that day -- November 18, 1978.

Jim Jones

We could name others such as David Koresh (of the Branch Dividian group in Waco, Texas) or Marshall Applewhite (led the Heaven's Gate group that produced 39 suicides in Californina on March 26, 1997).  Today there is an individual living in Miami, Florida named Jose Luis Jesus de Miranda who claims to be both Jesus and the Antichrist!  But, here's the shock: his church, Growing in Grace International Ministry, claims thousands of members in over 30 countries!  The list of such leaders goes on and on.  It is surprisingly long.  They include strange teachings and stranger practices.

Jose Luis Jesus de Miranda

Jesus said concerning the times we live in, "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many." (Matt. 24:11)  He went further, "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." (Matt. 24:24)  This is a spiritual battle that demands that we have firm foundations of faith to defend against the flood of deception taking place.

The illustrations listed above are certainly dramatic.  On a less intense level, we can consider the strange case of Bible teacher Harold Camping.  Last year, Mr. Camping claimed to have discovered a secret code from within Scripture that enabled him to accurately predict the exact date of Christ's Second Coming.  He announced that on May 21, 2011, the end would come.  I happened to be in New York City a week or so before this date and I was amazed at the people manning subway booths passing out literature supporting Mr. Camping's claims!  They were everywhere.  Billboards, signs -- leaflets.  We now know that many followers emptied their bank accounts and gave away their possessions awaiting the Rapture.  Needless to say, Mr. Camping, good intentioned as he might have been, was deceived.  He was a false prophet.

Harold Camping

How do we guard against such tragic deception?  On an even lesser scale, there are so many voices speaking in our day, how do we know which ones are legitimate and which ones are false?

Here is a simple formula.  It is a start in discerning good direction.  When assessing a ministry or a teacher, you should ask three basic questions:

1. How do they view the Bible?  Liberalism takes a low view of the Bible.  For liberalism, the Bible is nothing more than man's words about God.  If we want to stay in the path of truth, we need to stay within the bounds of Scripture.  The Bible is the inspired, authoritative Word of God.  We submit to Scripture, not as just a starting point, but as our guide and rule.

2. How do they view Jesus?  Is He God or is He just good?  Was He just another excellent teacher or was He the only begotten Son of the Father?  This is crucial.  Christianity without a high view of Jesus is nothing more than another morality play. 

3. What is the answer to man's basic problem?  We are inundated today with "self-help formulas".  Much teaching takes place today that does not require God's redemptive action in Christ.  It's just better ideas about living a dream life.  Jesus said, "You must be born again." (John 3:7)  This is not just a one-time emotional experience.  This is an understanding of our need for redemption in Christ.  Man is not Lord -- Jesus is Lord!

These three are the basis for seeing clearly in our day:  THE BIBLE, JESUS, and REDEMPTION.  If you stay clear on these, you will be better able to spot the counterfeit.  And Jesus promises to be with us.  If we trust Him today, He will guide us and protect us.  In the midst of a messed up world, we can be secure in Him.

One last word, most false teachings come loaded with pressure.  There is an agenda and therefore there is pressure to DO SOMETHING quickly.  James 3:18 says, "the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."  False teachers and false prophets will pressure you to accept their agenda.  Just stay close to Jesus and to friends in the faith that you can trust. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Walking Blindfolded

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Tues., Nov. 27: II Peter 1:1-21

For if these things are yours and abound,you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.  10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.  II Peter 1:8-10 (NKJV)

Far too many folks stumble through life not knowing where they are going. It's like walking in the dark, or walking blindfolded. In 2009, German scientist Jan Souman published an article in the scholarly journal Current Biology in which he postulated that blindfolded people cannot walk in a straight line. He proved the long-standing theory that we tend to walk in circles. If a person gets lost in the woods, he or she will tend to remain lost.  They walk in circles. When we don't know where we are going, all our efforts take us ...... nowhere.

There is an old adage: "If you forget where you came from, you'll never get to where you want to go." Applying this to your walk with God, "If you forget what God has done for you, you will not live the fruitful life He promises."  You will stumble and falter and walk in circles.

All progress is built on SEEING. We remember what Jesus has done in cleansing us from our sins. We see the Cross. We understand the new identity He has birthed in us. We see our sonship. We glimpse the awesome destiny that lies before us. We see the many ways He can make our lives immensely fruitful. As we line up and move out toward His great plans, we no longer walk in circles. We no longer stumble. And so, an abundant entrance is made into Christ's eternal kingdom.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Life at Another Level

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Friday, November 23, 2012: I Peter 1:13-2:10

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written,“You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  I Peter 1:13-16 (ESV)

"Holiness" is a word that sounds very RELIGIOUS. It sounds austere and brings up images of a cloistered, over-serious life. But this is not the biblical picture of holiness. I believe that Jesus was the most joyful person on the planet. Even in the midst of bearing all our miseries, yet He remained full of joy and peace (see Heb. 12:1).

The call to holiness is a call to "sober-mindedness" but it is a sombreness that is FULL OF HOPE. There is a kind of seriousness that produces the greatest happiness and joy. Holiness means living at another level. We no longer lower ourselves to the muck and mire of a roller-coaster world blown about by conflicting passions.

Our minds can play tricks on us. We get a bad thought in our head and it can undermine all confidence and peace. Your mind can kill your communion with God if you let it. You will chase ever stray wisp of the wind. That's no way to live. It will drive you crazy.

So, Peter tells us: GET YOUR THINKING STRAIGHT. Get your mind full of God's Word and God's hope. Then you will find that you are living at a higher level. That level makes you look more like the GOD WHO CREATED YOU. It is called holiness.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Test of Your Faith

One Year Bible
NewTestament passage for Thurs., Nov. 22, 2012: I Peter 1:1-12

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.  I Peter 1:6-8 (NKJV)

God has an incredible future in store for those who are His. All of history and all of life points toward ultimate good for those who are the objects of divine grace (Rom. 8:28). He has laid up an inheritance for us that cannot decay or diminish. If we understand this, it can be a source of great strength and encouragement to us. It can be the ground for great joy. 

We need to know our inheritance -- that which Christ has purchased for us!  We need to know because the testing can be severe. In this world, our faith will be tested like gold refined in the fire. This is the normal condition of those destined for glory. 

Here's the way it works.  First, God makes incredible provision for us. He has done this without our help. He did it in Jesus. Then, He tells us about it. We accept it strictly on the basis of God's truthfulness. There may be no evidence whatsoever of the great things He has promised. Lastly, circumstances appear that seem to actually contradict that which God has promised. This tests us like fire. In the midst of this trial, we learn to rejoice purely in God's nature and His promise. 

The result of all this is GLORY and GROWTH -- glory to God and growth in us. This kind of faith does more than just get us started. It carries us to the end. We receive the fullness of our salvation. Rather than the bare minimum, we receive the full benefit. That's worth getting happy about. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why We Pray for Healing

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Wed., Nov. 21, 2012:  James 5:1-20

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  James 5:13-15 (ESV)

There are those who believe that James 5:14 is not for today, but is rather a part of the bygone apostolic era of the early church. Such folks are called cessationists because they believe that all the miraculous acts of God ceased with the death of the Apostles. 

But I believe that James 5:14 IS FOR TODAY. The miraculous in general and divine healing in particular still does happen today!  This passage, along with many others in the New Testament, places prayer for the sick in the midst of other ministries such as praise, confession of sin, and compassion for the suffering. It is part of our New Testament arsenal of ministry. 

The problem surrounding healing is not really theological as much as it is practical. The question is raised: Why does God heal some, but does not heal others?  Since, there seems to be no simple answers concerning healing, many have just walked away saying God does not do that any more

I do not know all the answers concerning healing. We probably will not get final clarity until we stand before Jesus. But, we still are faced with the clear instruction of Scripture. So, why do we pray for the sick?

Very simply, we pray for the sick because:

1. We serve a BIG GOD. He is able to heal cancer. He is able to restore sight. He is ABLE. He has not changed and He loves us. 

2. We have the PROMISES of God. He declares that His name is Jehovah-Rapha - The Lord Our Healer.

3. We understand the PRINCIPLES AND POWER OF PRAYER. Prayer is not a divine credit card. It is the avenue of communion through which God increasingly releases His power.

4. We are OBEDIENT. God tells us what to do. We call for the elders and we anoint with oil not because it is magical, but because GOD SAID DO IT. We lay hands on a sick person because throughout Scripture it is regularly done. We do not have to understand or even agree. We just need to OBEY.

Jesus is the healer. He is the One who answers prayer. Elijah did not stop the rain for three and a half years. GOD DID. But God used Elijah's prayers as the avenue for the release of His will.

We are not called to figure this thing out or control it. We are called to move in child-like faith, allowing God to use us in extending His gracious hand of healing and deliverance. May that reality grow in each of us today!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our War-Torn World

One Year Bible
New Testament Passage for Tues., Nov. 20, 2012: James 4:1-17

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?  James 4:1 (NKJV)

According a United Nations agency (the Uppsala Conflict Data Program), there are today 44 wars going on in our world!  44!  They range from our war in Afghanistan to the Islamic insurgency in the Philippines to the drug war that is ripping Mexico apart. Some, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are present day manifestations of animosity that has been with us for centuries. 

But these bloody conflicts are not just a picture of our fractured world.  They are a picture of the human heart.  Outward conflicts are reflections of our inward struggles. The Bible teaches that each one of us is locked in a civil war that seeks to rip apart our lives in favor of warring allegiances. We are in a hidden battle for rights, riches, and respect. 

Only Jesus, the Prince of Peace, can settle the internal wars that rage in the human heart. Through His authority, His truth, His forgiveness, and His grace He can bring about an armistice that ushers in the healing of the war-torn heart. And this can speak to NATIONS. 

There is a story told of the Christmas Eve in 1914 when British and German soldiers quieted their guns and, across "no man's land", their voices rose together in singing Christmas carols. It is our prayer that the bullets will cease and the Lord will speak into our world. 

It begins in hearts - yours and mine - today. I want to lay down my animosities and angers, my jealousies and pride. May the Son of God bring peace not only to our hearts but, in the words of St. Francis, make us "instruments of His peace."

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Three Big Enemies

One Year Bible
New Testamet passage for Monday, November 19, 2012: James 2:18-3:18

15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.  James 3:15-18 (NASB)

We have three enemies that seek to pull us down.  They are the WORLD, the FLESH, and the DEVIL.  We find them in vs. 15.  There is a way -- a kind of wisdom -- that seems so very right, but it just leads to destruction.  It sounds good, but it ends bad. 

The "world" is that system that organizes itself apart from God.  It will promise you wealth and pleasure, but it cannot guarantee anything.  The world needs Jesus, but it wants YOU.  It wants to mold you in its own image.  When it is done, it will discard you.  That's the way the world operates.

The "flesh" is that sensual, carnal side of you that manufactures new needs and desires every day, every hour.  It cries out for gratification, whether that be comfort, possessions, pleasure, or experiences.  Your flesh is your carnal nature.  Some might call it your "sin nature."

The "devil" is a real being that has a bad plan for your life.  Too often we think our only enemy is the devil.  We disregard the other two.  But, the devil actually uses them as well as his own unique tools.  I believe  that there is a literal devil that seeks to kill or destroy all humans.  He wants to do this because we are created in God's image.  He can't assault heaven so he aims at the thing on earth that looks most like Almight God.

If you life is in DISORDER -- if you are plagued by a series of misfortunes and mishaps, perhaps you should ask God for wisdom.  We can never win the battle is we don't know where the battlefield is.  We need DISCERNMENT to know how and where to fight.

God wants to bring you into PEACE.  His wisdom will never confuse you or condemn you.  Wisdom is far more than just good advice.  It is the ability to maneuver through difficult waters.  He will give you wisdom to not only survive hard times, but to PREVAIL.  Peace is your promise from God.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

America at the Crossroads: "Heritage Leads to Legacy"

Here are the notes from the message delivered at New Life Community on Sunday, November 18, 2012.  The message is the third in a series AMERICA AT THE CROSSROADS: A Defining Moment.  The title of the message is "Heritage Leads to Legacy" and if you would like to listen to it, you may do so by going to our website at  God bless.

America at the Crossroads, Part 3                                                    Sun., Nov. 18, 2012
 “Heritage Leads to Legacy”

Four things that can make America strong again:
1.      Humility
2.      Faith
3.      Desire
4.      Morality
To carry these further:
1.      HUMILITY.  We’ve got to stop pointing the finger at each other.  We’ve got to humble ourselves before God.
2.      FAITH.  We must understand that God is sovereign and that trust in Him will produce benefit for our nation.  This means not only basic trust in the Living God, but also belief that hard word will be rewarded by our Creator.  That faith exhibits itself in an amazing way.  James says that faith without works is dead being alone.  There is a faith that says the government will take care of me and there is a faith that says God will take care of me and He will do that by teaching me how to prosper.
3.      DESIRE.  America is built on a dream.  It is the dream of possibilities, of ability to become more, of freedom, of opportunity.  We must become again a people who tap into the unlimited possibilities of a life surrendered to God.  “Our kids will have it better than we had it.”
4.      MORALITY.  All of this flows from a belief that God is God and there is a moral authority that rules our lives. 

Heritage is that which we receive from the past
Legacy is that which we pass on to the future.


Our legacy should be built on the heritage that we have received from the past.
So what have we received?
There is the spiritual and the natural or national.

Israel had to face this problem.  They knew that God had done some awesome thing for them.  They were instructed in how to preserve their heritage and then pass it on to the next generation.
Exodus 13
And Moses said to the people: “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. On this day you are going out, in the month Abib. And it shall be, when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt.’ It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.
11 “And it shall be, when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you, 12 that you shall set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord’s. 13 But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.
He sets up ways of remembering and keeping the importance in front of the people.
So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ that you shall say to him, ‘By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Exodus 13:14 (NKJV)

So what have we received?
There is the spiritual and the natural or national.
We could speak of that first Thanksgiving in Plymouth Colony in 1623 when William Bradford saw the bounteous harvest that prompted him to proclaim a special day to “render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”
We could speak of Washington at Valley Forge in the hard winter of 1777 when the Continental Army hunkered down to endure the winter.  It was said:
Soldiers received inadequate supplies of meat and bread, some getting their only nourishment from "fire cake," a tasteless mixture of flour and water. However, due to the talents of Baker General Christopher Ludwig, the men at Valley Forge more often than not received fresh baked bread, about one pound daily. So severe were conditions at times that Washington despaired "that unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place ... this Army must inevitably ... Starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can."
We could speak of the will of character displayed in such men as Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and of course Abraham Lincoln. 
We could speak of the heroism of our military in the battle against tyranny in WWI and WWII.
We could speak of the times that America pulled together during times of trouble. 

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.  The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance.  Psalm 16:5-6 (NKJV)

I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah. For You, O God, have heard my vows; You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.  Psalm 61:4-5 (NKJV)

15 So the nations shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth Your glory.  16 For the Lord shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory.  17 He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer.  18 This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.  Psalm 102:15-18 (NKJV)

O my people, listen to my instructions.  Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable.  I will teach you hidden lessons from our past— stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us.  We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.  Psalm 78:1-4 (NLT)

Heritage is what we RECEIVED from the past.
Legacy is what we PASS on to the future.

13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.  II Timothy 1:13-14 (NKJV)

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. II Timothy 2:2 (NKJV)

Three Steps in Building a Legacy:
1.     HOLD it.
2.     GUARD it.
3.     PASS it on.

Four Words to America
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.
11 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, Deuteronomy 8:11 (NKJV)

1.     Remember the Lord!

12 lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;

15 who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, Deuteronomy 8:15-16 (NKJV)

2.     Remember how He led you and fed you.

that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— Deuteronomy 8:16 (NKJV)

3.     Remember where God is leading you.

18 “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

4.     Remember the abilities God has given you.
19 Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. 20 As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God.  Deuteronomy 8 (NKJV)

Anger Management

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Sun., Nov. 18, 2012: James 1:19-2:17

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20 (NIV)

Do you have an anger problem?  Do you have a temper?  What gets under your skin and makes you angry?  Perhaps it's traffic or slow check-out lines.  Perhaps it's the way everything seems to get in your way when your time is limited.  Perhaps it's the attitudes of people.  Arrogance just burns you up.  Disrespect or cockiness really irritate you.  Maybe it's the attitude of entitlement that a co-worker seems to get away with.

Then there other kinds of anger.  It might be child abuse, or dishonesty in government.  It might be the rise of crime in your good city.

There are two kinds of anger: GOOD ANGER and BAD ANGER.  The Bible describes them as RIGHTEOUS ANGER and HUMAN ANGER.  The first is good.  The second is bad.  The first (good anger) is the result of seeing the situation from God's perspective -- seeing it clearly -- seeing it as it truly is.  The second (bad anger) is the result of a distorted vision.  When we get riled up and raging, our anger DISTORTS reality.  We say things we don't mean.  We make a bad situation worse.

Anger is not always bad.  There are times when even Jesus grew irritated with the way people acted.  Ephesians 4:26-27 says, "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."  Anger is a normal human emotion, but it must be held under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Anger is like a FIRE.  We often refer to it like that.  Someone might say, "That just burned me up."  Or, if someone releases their anger at someone, we say, "they scorched them!"  But, fire can be either good or bad.  The same fire than can bring you needed warmth and comfort if it is under control, or it can burn your house down if it is out of control.

James says "slow down."  Don't let your anger carry you places you shouldn't go.  Take a deep breath and refuse to let your anger control your tongue.  This is wise advice.  Let me conclude by giving you some direction if you are dealing with anger issues.

1.  Find out why you're always so angry.  Dig a little deeper.  It's not really the traffic or the neighbors.  There may be something deeper eating on you.  Deal with that.
2.  Refuse to succumb to impulse anger.  Walk away.  Don't take the bait.  Get some fresh air.  It is not cowardly to walk away from no-win anger trap.
3.  Realize who is the one really in danger.  You may be angry at situations that warrant concern, but your anger is eating YOU alive.  The situation may not change.  You may be the one in real trouble.
4.  Bring your anger to Jesus.  Get it under the influence of the Holy Spirit.  Let God deal with it.  Yield your emotions to Him and let Him regulate your internal thermostat.
5.  If you have bad anger, repent of it.  Put that fire OUT.  It will burn your house down.
6.  If you have good anger, allow it to direct you into redemptive action.  Allow God to channel your anger toward solutions rather than just sitting there stewing about it.

Many social commentators of our day have said that ANGER IS EPIDEMIC.  From road rage to heart attacks, anger is taking a toll.  Make a commitment to God today to handle your God-given emotions in a way that will lead you into a new day of peace.  "Be angry and sin not."