Saturday, May 28, 2022

Memorial Day and the Reason We Observe it.


The Reason we Observe Memorial Day

Many people no longer have an inkling of why we observe Memorial Day. To them it is just another holiday for which they may or may not get off from work. To many it is a day to get together with family or friends to go boating, fishing, or to bar-be-que in the back yard with friends and family. And if asked why they get to have this extra time off for leisure, the younger generations really can’t answer you. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the older Americans definitely know why we celebrate Memorial Day. In fact, many older adults still call Memorial Day, Decoration Day, as that was its original name. These same older adults may spend the day going to cemeteries to lay wreaths upon the graves of loved ones or fallen soldiers. But somewhere along the line, some of these same older adults have failed to explain the importance of Memorial Day just as they and society in general has failed to explain to X, Y, Millennials, Gen. Z, and the Alpha generations what it means to be patriotic. (Please don’t lambast me if I got some of the generations’ names wrong, or I left out a generation).

It is sad that we have failed the following generations by not teaching and showing them the importance of patriotism and holidays that recognize the sacrifices of people who have gone before us to give us the special country that we live in today. We take things for granted and in doing so are on the cusp of losing the greatest Republic that was ever established. God was there for our forefathers and helped them to form this country with its unique constitution and freedoms. Yet, today there are many people who want to destroy that constitution and take away many if not all of the freedoms that we have been given. That is why true born-again Christians need to pray and ask God to protect this country and the freedom that so many have given their life to protect. Moreover, Christians need to start mentoring their children about some of the historical holidays and about the importance of patriotism. They need to teach our children that history is a way of learning from our past so that we do not repeat the same mistakes again. Just as importantly, older Americans need to teach or mentor our current generations on the fact that history is not something that we have to get rid of if we don’t agree with what our ancestors have done. Instead, history is to be treasured as learning experiences that we don’t have to duplicate in order to become a better society. But denial of our wrong doings will never make us a better society and such denial may lead to repeating the same mistakes made in the past.

Memorial Day is a history lesson as well. For, Memorial Day is a historical record of all the wars that we have fought and why we fought them which are told from family members who have lost relatives in the wars to protect our country. Although, Memorial Day may be a time to play with family and friends at the lake and in the backyard, or a time to go shopping for big sales, it is first and foremost a time to recognize all the men and women who have given their lives to keep this country free. It is a time to reflect on what we would be if not for the ultimate sacrifice these men and women have made for us. It is also a time to thank God for our freedom. Indeed, Memorial Day is a time to pray on bended knee for the continued freedom of our country and for the safety of our troops wherever they are serving. In the same prayer of thankfulness for our freedom, we need to also thank God for the blessings that He has bestowed on this country and ask Him to continue blessing us. In addition, we need to pray for the healing of our country and our land. In fact, God has told us in Scripture, “If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”  -- (II Chronicles 7: 14. NLT).

Have you reached out to God today and thanked Him for your freedom? Have you thanked God for this country? If not, perhaps before the day is over or over the next few weeks, we should all thank God for our freedom and our country. Perhaps we should also commit to mentoring the next generations on the meaning of Memorial Day and patriotism. If we don’t do it, we could lose this beautiful country to those who actually are being taught to hate what America stands for and to hate the history of America. It is time to get on bended knee and pray for our country and our children. You can do it! You can share our history and the love of our country with others who know nothing about our country. So, take a few moments this week-end and share the history of your family and talk with your children about those members who have died for our country. If you get the time, take your children and your young people to a cemetery where your family is interned. Talk to them about the sacrifice that your loved one(s) have made for the freedom of our country. And, then pray with your family giving God the glory for all your blessings and the blessings of this country. You can do it! 

Friday, February 11, 2022

Praising the Lord in Every Situation

Dear Readers, I am sorry that I haven't posted something for quite a while, but the circumstances in my life kept me from doing so. I am glad to be back and will attempt to post something every week or so. Please bear with me. I hope you enjoy the topics and the posts that I have written recently. May God Bless each of you.



Praising the Lord in Every Situation

There is nothing like truly praising the Lord! For, there is a special connection that occurs when we step outside of our staid, prim, and proper demeanors to let the Lord know that we truly love Him for who He is; our good and loving all-caring and all-knowing providential God. There are many times, though, when we can’t seem to find the time in our everyday lives to give God all the praise He deserves. Someday, though, when we go to heaven, we will spend a great deal of time praising God as recorded in the book of Revelation which says: “And from the throne came a voice that said, ‘Praise our God, all His servants, from the least to the greatest, all who fear (i.e., honor and respect) Him.’” – (Revelation 19: 5. NLT). Obviously, in heaven we will enjoy and look forward to praising Him. Right now, however, this doesn't seem possible because to our earthly lives there are many times when we are just so busy doing the things in this life that we seldom think about praising God just for the sake of praising Him for Who He is.

If we do find the time to connect with God, it is often through our prayers of request and it is seldom through a specific praise of our Lord. Don’t get me wrong, God loves to hear from us, and He loves to have us pray to Him requesting His help and support. But God also loves to hear us just praise Him. He even loves to hear us praise Him from within the depths of our despair and while we are going through the storm of some trial. For, it is when we praise God, no matter what is happening in our lives, that He knows we truly honor and respect His glory. Moreover, it is through our praises that we can essentially tell God that He is first and foremost in our lives and He is worthy of praise. So, it is important that we praise the Lord every day. In fact, the author of the book of Hebrews wrote: “With Jesus’ help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of His Name.” – (Hebrews 13: 15. NLT). This means that even though it is hard to get out of our own selves long enough to put the God of the Universe above all that is going on in our lives, that we still should make it a priority to focus on praising God. The Holy Spirit will help us do so if we just ask. And, to help remind us to praise God, we have been given many examples in the Bible of how to praise Him no matter what is happening in our lives. One of the best places to get examples of praise is from the Book of Psalms in the Bible. For, it is there that we can see how David and other psalmists praised the Lord even when they were at their very lowest or when they were on the heights of joy.

The Hebrew Version of the Older Testament actually calls the Book of Psalms “Hymns of Praise” and with good reason. Many of the Psalms are a beautiful celebration of the attributes of God: His Love, His power, His Creativeness, His Protection, and His provision of all His people. A psalmist who wrote Psalm 150, which is the last psalm recorded in the book of Psalms, wrote: “Praise the Lord. Praise God in His heavenly dwelling; praise Him in His mighty heaven!  Praise Him for His mighty works; praise His unequaled greatness! … Let everything that lives sing praises to the Lord!” – (Psalm 150: 1, 2, 6. NLT). But are we doing that? Although this particular psalm is specifically a psalm or song of praise, there are other psalms which contain laments, stories, and praises all rolled into one. However, this particular psalm also gives us an example of how Christians should continually praise God for all that He does for us and for all that He will do in the future. It is also within this psalm that writer gives us specific words that we, too, can use to praise God; words like praising Him for "His heavenly dwelling," His "mighty works" and His "unequaled greatness." Moreover, it is within this particular psalm that we can see how exuberant we are supposed to be in praising God. Our praises should have a depth of joy to them.

We can also see that the psalmist spoke in this particular psalm about praising God with music such as praising Him with a “blast of the trumpet; praise Him with the lyre and harp! Praise Him with the tambourine and dancing; Praise Him with a clash of cymbals; Praise Him with loud clanging cymbals.” – (vs. 3-5).  Notice here that music can be very important in the praising of God, because music takes us out of ourselves, and it elevates us to higher spiritual realm while it helps us to focus specifically on the joy of praising God. Then in yet another psalm we are given a specific example of the importance of using our voices as well as our musical instruments to praise the Lord. For we are told within Psalm 98 to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy, yes, sing praises.” – (Psalm 98: 4. Amplified).

Sometimes, it is hard to think about praising the Lord when we are in the midst of a problem or health situation. A few weeks ago, I had yet another surgery. Even though it was outpatient surgery and the recuperation wasn’t supposed to take all that long, it was still surgery. So, I started out by praising the Lord for the physician, the nurses, and the anesthesiologist that would be taking care of me. Then, I again praised the Lord once the surgery was over and again when I was on the way home. And, for the next few days, I praised the Lord for the healing that was occurring and for a husband who gladly and patiently took care of me. Moreover, thanked God and praised Him for all the friends who prayed for me. These are just a few of the things for which I praised the Lord. Certainly, there is so much more that I should be praising the Lord for, but this was just an example of my praising of the Lord during what could have been a troubling time for me. I am sure that you all have also had situations where the last thing on your mind was to praise the Lord, because all you could think about was just getting through the trial or how you could overcome the problem you were facing. But instead of just thinking about our situation, we need to focus on praising God no matter the circumstances. So, instead of only praising God for what He has recently done for us, or just praising God on Sunday mornings during church worship, we need to focus on praising God throughout each day and in all circumstances.

Everyone has unique or unusual circumstances that they didn’t know if they would be able to overcome at the time they occurred. But with God's help, we can overcome many of the circumstances that we encounter. In fact, the Bible gives us many examples of how people have overcome terrible situations and how they praised God in spite of the trouble they were in. One such example is the story of Paul and Silas who were beaten and thrown into prison because Paul had removed a demon from a girl who could tell the future of others. She was being used by a merchant for her demonic fortune telling abilities to make money? So, an angry crowd formed after Paul removed the fortune telling demon, because the girl could no longer make money for her master. The people were angry with Paul and Silas, so they severely beat them and then threw them into jail. But instead of feeling sorry for themselves, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God while the other prisoners listened. Suddenly, there was an earthquake and the chains fell off of Paul and Silas and the other prisoners. The doors to the prison were opened. 

When the jailer discovered that the doors of the prison were open, he became very afraid that all the prisoners for whom he was responsible had escaped, so he decided to kill himself before his superiors killed him. But Paul stopped the jailer from killing himself and told him that all his prisoners were still there. No one had escaped. It was then that “the jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down before Paul and Silas. He brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’” – (Acts 16: 29-30. NLT). The jailer knew who Paul and Silas were and that they had been preaching about Christ. He also knew that only God could have saved these men. So, when the jailer finally understood what Paul and Silas had been preaching, he knew that he, too, was a sinner. He then risked everything to find Salvation. 

Despite the terrible situation that Paul and Silas found themselves in and despite the pain that they had suffered during and after their beatings, they praised God. Furthermore, they not only prayed to God for help, but they also sang praises to God, thus setting a wonderful example for the other prisoners. Paul and Silas’ reputation of believing in and sharing the Gospel message of the risen Lord Jesus Christ and His offered salvation had preceded them, so when they showed the jailer their complete faith and trust in God, the jailer then risked everything to believe on Christ. For, the jailer asked Paul what he must do to be saved. This is a truly an amazing example of what God does with prayer and praise. God heard Paul and Silas’ praises as well as their prayers, and He not only got them out of prison, but God also brought the jailer to salvation. What a mighty and wonderful God we serve! He deserves our praises all the time!

There are many other examples from the Bible about the importance of praising God. Indeed, just from the Book of Psalms there are many examples showing the importance of praising the Lord. One such example is found in Psalm 117 where we read that our praise of God is extremely important. In fact, we discover in this psalm that we should praise the Lord for His unlimited love. For, the psalmists wrote: “Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.” -- (Psalm 117. NLT). We don't know who wrote this Psalm, but there others writers and especially David who wrote a great number of the Psalms where we discover that God always hears us and acts on the behalf of those who truly love Him. And we learn that no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, we can rest assured that God loves us.

Psalm 34 is a psalm that David wrote when he had to pretend to be insane in front of Abimelech in order to save his own life and to be allowed to leave the city. Afterward, David wrote: “I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak His praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are discouraged take heart. Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt His name together! I prayed to the LORD, and He answered me, freeing me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. I cried out to the LORD in my suffering, and He heard me. He set me free from all my fears. For the angel of the LORD guards all who fear Him, and He rescues them. Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who trust in Him! Let the LORD’s people show Him reverence, for those who honor Him will have all they need.”  -- (Psalm 34: 1-9. NLT). From just this portion of Psalm 34 we discover that even though God promises blessings to those who trust in Him, God also requires our active participation in prayer and praises to receive all the blessings He has in store for us. Indeed, God provides blessings beyond our wildest imagination, if we will just trust Him (34: 8), fear Him (34: 7), seek Him (34: 4), cry out to Him (34:6) and reverence Him (34:9). We are also told in other parts of this psalm that blessings will come if we turn from lying, turn from evil, do good and seek peace, and if in our broken heartedness we turn to God, rely on Him, and serve Him. So, no matter what our circumstances are, we are to praise God for who He is and for all His goodness! Most importantly, we are to praise God for sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins and then raising Him from the dead, so that those who believe on Jesus Christ will never have to face eternal death. We need to praise God for our Salvation and the home in heaven that we will one day see.

Let’s not forget to praise God. In fact, when we praise the Lord, other people will see our love of the God, and the example we set for loving God will help others to come closer to God as well. You can do it! You can spend more time each day praising the Lord. You can praise God through good and bad circumstances, and you can show your trust and faith in God through your acts of praise. You can also be that mentor who exhibits joy and love toward God through your praises. Let’s all make time throughout the day to praise God! Now, go and praise the Lord no matter what your circumstance.