My parents are living on a farm in Zolfo Springs with my brother Nate and his wife Melissa. Recently, their guard dog Shepherd went missing. Less than a week later, Nate’s longtime companion, Minnie, was hit and killed by a truck on the road outside their home. As my parents were out walking alongside a ditch looking for Minnie, a car stopped and the driver asked what they were looking for. A conversation ensued in which the driver asked about getting permission to fish in the farm. Dad explained that he was the owner and he would agree for Alex and his wife Elisa to fish as long as they were willing to let him share with them about Jesus. They decided that was a fair arrangement and after fishing a couple of times at the pond and catching nice Bass, Alex one afternoon sat down on the farm porch and conversed with Dad about John 3:16. He ended up placing his faith in Jesus.
Matthew 6:10—Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Let’s make a case for the ten greatest empires/kingdoms of all time.
#1. The Roman Empire: Considered preeminent for its sheer power and long-standing influence in military and political systems, art, literature, and religion.
#2. The Mongol Empire: Five times the size of Alexander the Great’s territory, Genghis Khan established a kingdom that stretched from Eastern Europe to China.
#3. The British Empire: Almost a quarter of the earth’s landmass was covered by an empire effective in warfare and trade.
Since 1958, the West Point Association of Graduates has presented the SYLVANUS THAYER AWARD to an outstanding citizen of the United States whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto, “DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.”
As the shells rain down on hapless soldiers trembling in their foxholes, a man completely unknown as religious to his squad mates begins reciting the Lord’s Prayer. He remembers it from growing up attending Mass. Now in their time of desperation he delivers it up to God. Considered the most beloved prayer in Scripture and taught by Jesus to His followers, we would be wise to unpack it, study it and apply it rigorously to our lives. So let’s embark upon a prayer journey and take joy in 69 life-changing words.
Ecclesiastes 2:18-20—I hated all my work that I labored at under the sun because I must leave it to the man who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will take over all my work that I labored at skillfully under the sun. This too is futile. So I began to give myself over to despair concerning all my work that I had labored at under the sun.
Ecclesiastes is a collection of wisdom writings from King Solomon who called himself the Teacher (1:1). Sometimes wisdom is most profound for what it reveals. I don’t know how old Solomon was when he penned the words above. During the first part of his reign he was a God-fearing leader and was blessed from heaven with incredible wisdom. Later on he let his foreign wives turn his heart away from following God and his entire nation suffered. Which period do you think the words above reflect?
Psalm 145:1—I exalt You my God the King, and praise Your name forever and ever.
Psalm 145 is one of my favorite psalms in the Bible. Aside from the eleven different verbs or participles used to praise or recognize God, the entire twenty-one verses are a tribute to God’s greatness. The predominant verb is the word praise (used six times). In addition, the words exalt, honor, declare, proclaim, speak, give a testimony, sing, thank, and informing, are used in the Holman translation. Five times God’s greatness is specifically highlighted.
Colorado’s intent is to have an honorable justice system. Judges are elected differently than politicians running for office. They are rated on merit and then voted for by the public every four or six years. By using this kind of system, judges remain independent from special interest groups and earn their keep through their job performance.
Sitting in the courtroom and listening to the judge emphasize the importance of listening and truth-telling, I could not help but feel gratitude for the opportunity to perform my civic duty. For the first time in my life I was called to serve on jury duty. It was an enlightening time learning how Colorado’s justice system is set up. Unfortunately, it did not last long. The court case to which I was assigned involved a company of which two other prospective jurors and I belonged. We were instantly released from duty and sent home.
It is impossible: to fly with only our human body; to please everyone; to live perfectly; to know everything; to escape aging; to run faster than every animal; to swim across the ocean; to be invincible; and, to list everything that is unattainable. Because of impossibilities we are weak, vulnerable and headed for judgment. But, because of possibilities, the same reality holds true.
Exodus 3:13-15—Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.
Deuteronomy 4:39,40—Today, recognize and keep in mind that the LORD is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other. Keep His statutes and commands, which I am giving you today, so that you and your children after you may prosper and so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you for all time.
Psalm 111:2,3—The LORD’s works are great, studied by all who delight in them. All that He does is splendid and majestic; His righteousness endures forever.
Deuteronomy 10:12-14—And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you except to fear the LORD your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul? Keep the LORD’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good. The heavens, indeed the highest heavens, belong to the LORD your God, as does the earth and everything in it.
Have you ever written out what your life expectations are? Often I encounter restless people who seem unsure of what they want. They flit from job to job, walk in and out of relationships and pursue adventures, yet life remains unfulfilling. Others I meet have clear expectations. They have goals for money, titles, possessions, and status. But once they reach their goals they find that all is not well, there is a sinking sense that there must be more to life.
Skye Jethani wrote a book I highly commend to your reading. It is simply titled with. The premise of the author is that we typically find four types of Christians. The first group is comprised of those who live life under God. Their emphasis is on God’s divine will and appeasing Him through behaviors—“either in the form of rituals or morality.” The second group includes those who live life over God. Their emphasis is on applying Scripture and godly principles, which are useful for controlling the world and life. Those who live life from God characterize the third group. They are highly self-preoccupied. Under the banner of “the health and wealth gospel” these adherents see God as a divine genie that is eager to grant their desires. The fourth group is made up of those who live life for God. Life is all about staying on mission: sacrificing, achieving, serving, working to accomplish tasks (evangelism, discipleship, etc).
Deuteronomy 7:9—Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.
Do you realize what an incredible message is contained in the verse above? The adjective faithfulthat describes God is profound in meaning.
God is faithful in His work. “He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will bless your descendants, and the produce of your land. . . (7:13). Have you ever hired workers who were lazy, sloppy, or who failed to deliver on what they promised you? God is not like that—everything He accomplishes is perfect!
Do you ever encounter people who feel like God let them down; that somehow He failed? Perhaps you can think of a time when you followed God’s perceived will only to be disappointed by unfavorable circumstances. Yet, if God is unreliable then it follows that He cannot be trusted. If this is so, how can we go after Him with any degree of confidence? If we are to have faith in Him, it must be anchored in the truth that He is immutable. A.W. Pink provides three lessons from Scripture on this unique attribute of God.
Romans 11:33-36—Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
Often I find Christians in the United States discouraged, wondering why it seems like there is little activity by God in our land. There is a sense that our nation is increasingly secular and a growing unease. I believe that materialism is a far greater threat to the growth of our faith than outright opposition. Why do I say this? My friends who face suffering, prison or the loss or rights because of their walk with God actually find renewal and supernatural strength in the testing of their faith. While those who live in comfort find it hard to die to self and actively proclaim truth. Yet contrary to what many of us may be thinking—there is a major work of God going on around much of the globe.
Do you ever wonder what the point is for reading books of the Bible that primarily contain prophecies of God’s impending judgment against certain people and nations? Jonah, Nahum and Zephaniah all prophesied against the Assyrian empire. When Nahum predicted the impending destruction of the capital city, Nineveh, Assur-bani-pal was its evil king. Nineveh was full of bloodshed, deceit, plundering and constant warring against others (3:1).
Curiosity is a powerful thing. If you are in a group and happen to notice two people whispering to each other don’t you have an urge to know what they are saying? We don’t typically like it when people keep from us secrets. Nor do we appreciate it when those who are in charge withhold information we would like to know. I remember the stress on Matt and Angie, our neighbors, when Nike was getting ready to lay off hundreds of employees. For weeks they were in suspense as to whether they would keep their jobs. Fortunately they both did, but the stress of not knowing weighed heavily on them.
Psalm 121—I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber . . . The LORD protects you; the LORD is a shelter right by your side . . . The LORD will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life. The LORD will protect your coming and going both now and forever.