Romans 3:23, 5:8, 10:9-13

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Acts 14:19-20, 28:3, 2 Corinthians 11:16-28

If you or someone you know is having a bad day, it’s time to think about Paul.  Focusing on Paul’s life gives new perspective on having a “bad” day.  Thinking about Paul and what he went through helps me and my family cope with life’s punches.

Paul suffered much.  He was hit with stones and thought to be dead.  He was wrongfully in prison, severely flogged, whipped, beaten, shipwrecked three times, bitten by a viper, etc.

If we think we’re having a bad day, we should imagine ourselves telling Paul about it, thinking about what he would say.  Then, it’s likely our “bad” day wouldn’t seem so bad after all.

Exodus 20:1-21

While out doing errands last Saturday, I pulled in a left turn lane to stop at a stoplight.  As I waited there, I watched someone run a red light.  Maybe that person thought the yellow light would be longer.  Or, it could be that they were in a hurry and decided to run it.

What if someone thought, “I don’t need to stop at a stoplight.  That’s stupid.”  If they followed through with that thought, they may get away with it, but over time, odds are they’ll eventually face a wreck.

We know that if certain laws are broken, police can get involved.  If someone runs a red light, speeds excessively, etc., their safety and the safety of others is compromised, so cop cars are expected.

God has laws too, like the Ten Commandments.  His loving laws make life better.

Acts 13:42-44, 1 Corinthians 9:24

I’m fascinated by Billy Graham’s righteous ministry and recently read, Thoughts and Reflections on Billy Graham’s Life Principles.”  Here’s a quote from singer George Beverly Shea regarding a 1947 Charlotte event.  It was Billy Graham’s very first service.  George said, “This young man has great faith.  He’s asked the people to come forward.  They are singing, and he’s got his eyes closed, his hands folded; and he’s quiet now…He just quietly waited and prayed as the hymn was being sung, and they came in great numbers.

God used Billy Graham to draw many people.  We also know that God greatly used Paul and Barnabas.  Acts 13:44 says, “On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.”

Even though Paul, Barnabas, and Billy Graham aren’t with us on Earth, they left behind mighty ministries fueled by God.  In the Billy Graham book, James H. Landes said, “Billy believes in the local church.  He realizes that when he’s gone, the local church is that part of the body of Christ that must continue to edify and minister to those who are redeemed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We’re the church.  We probably won’t reach as many people as Billy Graham or Paul, but we can at least take the extended baton and, as Paul conveyed, do our best in the race, striving for “the prize.”

Psalm 84:11-12

On a very rainy day earlier this month, I took our white, fluffy dog outside.  I held a large, black umbrella over him, but he didn’t seem to notice.  I followed him as he wandered around. He got a little wet, mostly on the fur near the top of his nose, which stuck out just beyond the perimeter of the umbrella.  He doesn’t like being wet and didn’t look happy, so when I got him inside and toweled him off, he was his happy self again.

Imagine God putting a shield of protection over the children of God, kind of like an umbrella.  We may whine about getting a little wet from the problems that come, but we don’t realize God’s actually keeping us from a downpour of problems.  God is our shield.

 

John 3:16

On the last Saturday of June, Emily, Ethan and I were shopping at a discount department store, when we heard a loud, happy boy in the toy department.  He shouted, “And the best part is, it’s only $1!!  That made us smile.

If that boy ever went to a dollar store, he must have been thrilled!  Happily, we can buy many things for about a dollar.  But how many things are free?  Not many.

Everyone, including the happy boy, was born into sin, and Jesus was the sacrifice.  So since King Jesus died for us, it’s expensive to get saved, right?  No.  The best part is, salvation’s free!  So if you want to be saved, come to Jesus’ wide open arms.

Philippians 4:6

One day last month, the kids and I were getting ready to go on a walk.  We were in our carport when I heard what sounded like a small bird’s wings fluttering fast above me.  I then looked up and saw a large dragonfly!  It was caught in the netting we use to discourage roosting.  The drab-looking dragonfly tried repeatedly to fly forward with its 3 1/2″(?) wingspan through a 1″ x 1″ wire square.  We love dragonflies, so I reached for a broom and gently moved the netting, revealing a way out.  After a short while, it realized freedom was actually behind it.  It buzzed out, went behind me for a moment, and then it was gone.  We like to think it was thankful.

That dragonfly had just one idea to solve a problem.  It only tried forward force to escape the netting.  But haven’t we all tried to pound a square peg into a round hole at times in our lives?

Whatever problems we may have or will have, God can help in ways we wouldn’t expect.  Philippians 4:6 says that no matter what problems we face, we need to pray with a thankful heart to God, presenting our requests.  God doesn’t want us to worry.

 

Matthew 7:13-14

Soon, July 4th will be here.  Celebration has already begun in our city with a Freedom Festival Parade and even a new PAWtriotic parade with dogs, cats, horses, etc. was planned.

Let’s step away from a festive frame of mind for a moment and rewind back to the American Revolutionary War.  “Throughout the course of the war, an estimated 6,800 Americans were killed in action, 6,100 wounded, and upwards of 20,000 were taken prisoner. Historians believe that at least an additional 17,000 deaths were the result of disease, including about 8,000–12,000 who died while prisoners of war.”  https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/american-revolution-faqs

Of those thousands that died in the Revolutionary War, we can’t know how many were saved.  We do know that Jesus said “few” will end up on the narrow road to life.

Unsaved Americans that died in the Revolutionary War don’t have another chance to live even one minute for Jesus.  We do.

Matthew 28:18-20

This morning, a guest pastor shared a statistic with our congregation.  He said that 22% of Iowans are in church each Sunday.  He shared that because he has a big heart for the lost.

Billy Graham had a big heart for the lost too.  On today’s Billy Graham devotional it says, “As practical Christianity has declined, rudeness and violence have increased…I have seen tough, rough, hardened men open their hearts by faith, receive Christ as Savior, and become gentle, patient, merciful gentlemen.”https://billygraham.org/devotion/an-angry-world/

My family and I saw an example of evidence of a hardened person today after church.  A car had bumper stickers that said, “Proud Atheist” and “Remember-Pillage First, THEN BURN.”  They had another angry bumper sticker that I choose not to publish.

Even though the owner of the car with angry bumper stickers appears to hate Jesus, Jesus died for that person’s sins too.  Although he or she doesn’t seem to be headed for Heaven at this point, there’s still a chance.

Jesus asked those that are His to “Go and make disciples”, to baptize them, and to teach them to be obedient to His commands.  Jesus didn’t say it would be easy.

Matthew 25:37, Galatians 6:2

My Christian husband and I have two kids, Emily and Ethan, who are both saved.  They are blessed to have two Christian grandpas.

My dad loves plants and regularly feeds the hungry.  In Matthew 25:37, Jesus spoke well of those that feed the hungry.

My father-in-law loves Sudoku and has carried burdens of others.  In Galatians 6:2 Paul instructs believers to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Let’s celebrate the Christian influences of dads and grandpas today.  Happy Father’s Day!

Acts 9:36, 10:1-8, Galatians 6:9

In Acts 9, there is an account about a woman named Tabitha.  She was known for “always doing good and helping the poor.”  And in Acts 10, there is an account of a ‘devout” man called Cornelius.  Cornelius “gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”

Are you like Tabitha and Cornelius?  If so, keep doing good, or as Paul would say, “Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

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