National Anthem

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The Star-Spangled Banner

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

September

This month I remembered 9/11 and as I remembered such a difficult time in our nation’s history, I started thinking about the national anthem.  As the national anthem of the United States is making headlines over and over but not in the way, Francis Scott Key ever intended when he penned the words so many years ago on Sept. 13, 1814.  As he witnessed the attack at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry and then raising of the US flag to show their victory over British forces in the War of 1812.  He penned these words after a night full of fighting and years later our country took these words as our national anthem.  These words for me represent pride for my country and respect for the men and women who have fought and died to protect my rights and freedoms.  As I ponder the Star-Spangled Banner and its words, I see a connection to Christ.

Connection to Christ

Christ who paid the ultimate price and sacrificed himself for me, so that I might live eternally with my Father in heaven.  “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” 1 Peter 3:18.  This sacrifice reminds me to not just be proud to be a American but proud to be a Christian.  “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”  Matthew 23:12.  As a proud Christian, I must show myself as a humble servant not one who stand and looks down on others.  I must live by example so that other may find Christ and have the same sense of pride in their relationship with him.  “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21.

Proud American

So just as I show by living for Christ, I must stand as an American that others can see my pride in this country.   “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” John 8:32.  It is sad to see so many in this country state so firmly their disgust for a country that was founded to protect their rights.  Sometimes I even wonder where I am living and long for my eternal home.  “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:16.  As long as I am here, I will choose love not hate.  “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8.

 

Closing Verse:  “Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14.

Challenge:  Stand up for Christ in your life! Live as an example for others of his sacrifice.

A Favorite Rendition:

Did you know?  The song has 4 verses.

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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Searching for a New Heart – Part 3

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Heart of Wickedness

I have been  meditating, read scriptures on the heart and praying for more guidance by the Lord from scripture for my  heart. Fully understanding what must take place in my heart means I must fully understand my heart and how it works in this world where the devil operates.  As I look back at Jeremiah 17:9 the verse that really began this walk for me, I look at different versions to dig for deeper meaning from the verse.  One of my favorites is the ESV, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  I really start to realize not just how I need to focus on my heart but how hard it is to understand others especially when the heart is full of such wickedness.  No one can understand the heart and maybe not even the person whose heart is consumed with wickedness.  That is a scary thought.  Not just for those I love but for me.

Christ – A sacrifice for the Heart

Romans 1:21 in some ways expresses this even among believers “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  The frightening impact of that verse is that even those that know God may not choose to honor God because of their heart.  I pray that will not be my heart.  Lord I ask that you lead me to a new heart, and one that loves and prays for the hearts of those who are lost.  It is sad that man had to find this wicked path, but as I study the heart, I realize the impact that God has had with the gift of Christ to save me from my sins.  I can feel hope in his resurrection that my heart can be resurrected from the wickedness that it bears.  From the fall man has had wickedness in his heart.  Genesis 6:5 reads, ” The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  These words bring tears to my eyes to know that God has endured so much pain by man that he loves so much, and that love provided a sacrifice in Christ that would save us all from our wicked hearts.

Heart of Pride

Acts 7:51 reads “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in hearts and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit.  As your fathers did, so do you.”  The evil in man has been for so long sometimes I think it is even hard for us to see it.  People who have uncircumcised hearts have hearts that are not purified and heathen.  An uncircumcised heart leads to a hard heart which leads to no relationship with the Lord.  Ephesians 4:18 says, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”  May God give the wisdom not to be ignorant so my heart my live and rejoice in the Lord.  Ignorance that has a heart like the one in 2 Peter 2:14 “They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin.  They entice unsteady souls.  They have hearts trained in greed.  Accursed children!”  These verses take me back to Proverbs 16:5 and the pride God hates in our hearts.  Searching I found Jeremiah 49:16 which speaks of more pride and how the Lord will still hunts us “The horror you inspire has deceived you, and the pride of your heart, you who live in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill.  Though you make your nest as high as the eagle’s, I will bring you down from there, declares the Lord.”   Even full of pride the Lord can bring us to our knees.

Resurrection Saves My Heart

Yes that is what he has done to me.  I refuse to have a hard heart one that is spoken of in Romans 2:5 “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed.”  I want the heart of Matthew 6: 21 that is full of treasures in heaven – “For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  May my heart and my treasure be full of the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is spoken of in 1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed!  Praise God – He is Risen!

Closing Verse:  Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Challenge:  I have the same prayer for you and your heart!  Seek to find Christ in your Heart.

He Lives

Reflection and Fast

Today is Good Friday, the beginning of our Easter weekend and the culmination of Lent.  This has been a time of reflection and fast for many.  This time of year causes me to just pause and evaluate my life and relationship with Christ.  I choose to give up a little something to only slightly feel the impact of what Christ had to sacrifice for me.  His sacrifice is one that I alone can never match, but my walk here can be for him!  In the words of Paul found in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

Celebrate the Life of Jesus

My words will not be the words that should be typed or read this weekend.  Stop and read the resurrection story and celebrate the sacrifice and love Christ had for us all!  This story can be found:

Mark 16

Matthew 28

Luke 24

John 20

Each is story is  powerful and shares how much Christ loves each one of us.

Renewal

Easter is like a New Year.  I feel a sense of renewal.  A reminder of my walk and relationship and an opportunity to make it stronger.  Let the gospel work.  I pray you stop and read.  Stop and Listen

Closing Verse:  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:  25-26

Challenge:  Find time to reflect on Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection.