LIVING BY FAITH

LIVING BY FAITH

Not my will, but thine.

 Living by faith can be a very, very scary thing. For those of us who are control freaks we find it very easy to take our problems to the Lord and cry, and pour out our hearts, doing what we were taught, in taking our burdens to the Lord. The problem comes when we are finished telling him our problems to leave them at his feet, and not pick them back up, and take them with us, thinking we can do better, or “if you want something done you best do it yourself.” So how do we break the cycle, of saying we want to live by faith, but then not having faith to turn our burdens and problems over to the Lord? There are several verses in the Bible that encourage us to live by faith, and not trusting in our own abilities or wisdom. While we find these verses compelling, still we must fight our inner demons of control, and lack of conviction, and give our lives over to the faith we say we possess.

Faith is not simply the act of positive thinking, or our feeble attempts or efforts of living that faith. Faith is a result of the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God. Romans 10:17 tells us, ‘for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ Our faith grows after we read stories of God working through His people, and how He never fails to keep His promises. The strongest faith is not based on our physical sense, but on our spiritual convictions. We cannot see the spiritual element of this world, but it is very real. By reading the Word of God we are, in a sense, sharpening or spiritual vision, and by doing so our faith becomes stronger. The stronger our faith becomes, the more willing we are to turn our life and trust over to God’s will.

So many of us are guilty of giving lip service to ‘living by faith’. We put on a good act, and in our hearts it is what we truly want, but seldom have the faith or courage to achieve it. What we say, do, and how we live, often times are in conflict with that reality. The best way to ‘live by faith’, is to live the way Christ lived. He encouraged, He was the example, and He taught us to love one another, not just in words, but in deeds. When was the last time we encouraged someone with our words?

“Words are powerful. They cut. They heal. They confirm. God uses his word to help us, to mold us, to make us more like Him. Our faith is built from the bricks of God’s word. Brick by brick, we erect, strengthen, and fortify that faith. But only if we truly listen and hear the word of God.” Everyday Bible Encouragement for Women.

Living by faith is difficult, especially when we don’t understand what God’s will is in our life. How can it be His will to take one of our children through death? How can we live by faith when one of our loved ones are stricken with cancer? When Jesus knelt in the garden of Gethsemane, and prayed to His Father in heaven, He knew He was facing death. Regardless of that fact He still prayed, “Not my will but thine be done”. He lived every day of His life in faith, knowing God was directing his path.

 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble. Psalms 143:10-11

 There’s a quote you often hear people say: if God brings you to it, he will see you through it. Here is the Scripture verse that gives you this promise that you can carry with you through your whole life.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. I Corinthians 10:13

 Knowing this is a promise directly from the Bible, it should make us more confident in living by faith. If we put our trust in him, we have His promise that He will bring us through to the other side. It does not promise that we will not be tested and tried, but we will come through it, when we live in His will.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

For we walk by faith, not by sight:

II Corinthians 5:7

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11: 1&6

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 1:17

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2: 8-9

 

“The Meaning of the Flag-Draped Coffin”

“The Meaning of the Flag-Draped Coffin”
When another saint is laid to rest.

This past weekend we laid my brother Dexter to rest. His body was interned with military honors as it is with all veterans.  During the ceremony of the folding of the flag, we were amazed how even the small children in the crowd were absolutely silent. You could have literally heard a pin drop. Everyone knew what was going on was a solemn moment, and respect was given, even by the young.

We are so privileged to live in a country which was established on religious freedom and unalienable, (cannot be taken away or denied), rights. Which are those of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We have gotten so caught up in political correctness that these rights are being taken away one by one, along with the respect of our flag and country. Did you know what it means when the military personal fold a flag over a casket? I am proud of this and what my country stands for!

The folding of the flag

The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.

The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.

The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.

The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

The 5th fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, ‘Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.’

The 6th fold is for where people’s hearts lie. It is with their heart that they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their republic..

The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.

The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.

The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their Nations motto, ‘In God We Trust.’

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.

Does that put the folding of the flag in a new perspective for you? GOOD!

As parents it is important that we teach our children to honor and respect, God, Country and the American flag! These things are not taught in our schools anymore. It is up to each and every one of us to teach our children about how precious life is, how important the assurance of eternal life is, and to be part of a God fearing nation. If you don’t teach them, how will they ever respect the Bible, the Flag and their Country?

We as authors, are given the privilege and honor to spread the truth about how this country was formed, and how to keep it the Great Nation it has been.  If we take God out of the equation, what will we have left? Nothing worth fighting for or respecting!

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Psalms 116:15

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12:7

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

John 5:28-29 

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 4: 13, 16-17

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

John 11:25-26


I HAVE FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT

I HAVE FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT

I have finished my course !

     Today we bury my brother Dexter, and in doing so we honor and celebrate his life. He was not a perfect person, and if there were do-overs in life, I am sure there are several places he would like to revisit. One thing I do know, for all his bluster, he was a tenderhearted person.  Something he tried to hide from the world.  He was faithful in his living for Christ, and for the last 50 years he has served the Lord as, a Preacher, in the Jail Ministries, RU (Recovery Unanimous) Ministries, in Soul Winning, and as a deacon. He was uncompromising, unbending, and unapologetic about his believe in the Bible and Life everlasting.

     To Jeff, Pam, Peg, Mark, Gayle and I, he was our brother, the one who was an instigator, teaser, ornery as the day was long, and determined to prove he could do what people said he could not. Perhaps that is what made him such an unyielding servant for the Lord, because no matter what the world threw at him, he would brush it off, and remain steadfast in his faith.

     He was also a loyal friend. If he befriended you, he was your friend for life. Which meant he included you in his daily prayers, as he prayed for each one of his children, grandchildren, and the rest of his family and those on his prayer list.  Regardless of what any relationship was like, in this he never wavered. He spent time every day reading his Bible and talking to the Lord, asking for protection, love and guidance for his friends, family, and especially his children, and for God’s will in his own life.

     He was one of my biggest supporters and encourager concerning my blog. He wanted me to tell the world about my beliefs in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  That is why, as we lay his earthly body to rest, we can do so with joy and happiness, because we know he is now in the presence of the Lord.

     As parents, we need to teach our children to spend time daily in the Word of God, so they will have, a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their paths. Psalms 119:105.  Life is hard enough for children with everything the world is throwing at them on a daily basis, having a light to illuminate their way through the maze is imperative.

     We as authors, must stand firm and refute what the world is trying to pass off as truth. God made man and women, and not a Heinz 57 variety. Many more of our beliefs are being compromised, but thankfully we can say: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1

     Dexter is now one of those witnesses who has gone on before, fighting the good fight, finishing his course and keeping the faith, right up to the very end. We can only aspire to do the same with our own life.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished [my] course, I have kept the faith:

II Timothy 4:7

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12: 1-2

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Acts 20:24

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Galatians 6:9

THE WAITING IS OVER!

THE WAITING IS OVER!

Victory is ours!

A big congratulations goes out to the Kouts basketball team, for winning the 2019 Porter County PCC tournament. This is the first time Kouts has won the PCC tournament since 2011. The Kouts basketball team worked hard all season to earn their place in the tournament. The win on January 24, was not a single victory, but a victory for a team with a goal in mind, working together, to earn their right to be called champions. There were times during these championship games when victory seemed an unreachable goal, but with perseverance, camaraderie, along with team spirit, they reached their goal and retrieved the keg from the other team, and the championship trophy. This victory would not have been possible if they had taken their eyes off of the prize, or had not worked together against a common foe. The waiting is over and the title “champions” has come home to the Mustang corral.

The same can be said about another championship win. This battle was fought by my brother, who beat cancer, but was overcome by the preventative treatments, given to ensure the cancer would not return. It too was a long hard battle, with tiny victories along the way, but with occasional setbacks. Throughout his fight, Dexter never took his eyes off the prize. He believed with all his heart,For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13.  In the end he could proudly say:  “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” II Timothy 4:7, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” Philippians 1:21.  His, is a victory over death, not the first death of the body, but the second death of the eternal soul. He knew no matter the outcome, he would win in the end, and victory would be his. My brother Dexter L. Graves went to be with the Lord January 23, 2019, after a battle valiantly fought against the after effects of cancer treatments.

As parents it is important that we teach our children about a battle that is waging every day of their life. Show them in the Bible where they need to put on the whole armor of God to be prepared to fight this battle for their eternal souls. Explain to them how life is fleeting, but the reward of eternal life is everlasting. Help your children understand to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord, if they know Christ as their Savior.

We as authors, often use conflict to help our readers develop an affinity with our characters. In the real world, conflict of one type or another is a daily occurrence. There is an evil that is ever present and vying for ownership of our souls. This is our daily battle that no one can fight for us, and only we can gain the victory in this fight, with the help of Jesus Christ.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

I John 5:4

For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

Deuteronomy 20:4

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:12-13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:55, 57