Author: John Page 1 of 121

America the Beautiful

Psalm 33:12-22 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.  The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.  From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.  He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.  There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.  Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.  Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.  For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.  Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.”

Katharine Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful” after a journey across the country in 1893 and following a time of reflection on the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado.  It was first published on the 4th of July in 1895 and has become an iconic American hymn:

 O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America!  America!
God she His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America!  America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
 
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America!  America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!
 
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America!  America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

May this be our prayer.  That God would crown our good with brotherhood.  That He would mend our every flaw.  That He would refine us so that our success would be nobleness and our gain would be divine.  That our pursuit of liberty would be undimmed by the tears of our shortcomings.  

PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR LAND … AMERICA! AMERICA! GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE!  “Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” 

Unexpected Blessings

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

Ephesians 3:17-21 “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God, Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen.”

Hebrews 4:15 “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

Job 42:11 “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

Several years ago, I had a speaking part on a single episode of the TV show Monk.  It was an opportunity that fell into my lap – I was in the right place at the right time, with the right background and the right connections.  While it was something that I would have paid to do for an interesting life experience, I actually got paid to say my brief lines.  In fact, even a decade and a half later, I still get regular though small checks in the mail as residual payments.  Each one of those envelopes is a blessing, as they remind me of a fun day and a unique experience.  While the money is now minute, even the tiniest check is above anything that I originally expected.

God’s gifts to us are amazing.  These blessings don’t come by being at the right place at the right time, with the right background and the right connections.  They come from a loving Christ, whose love passes all our knowledge as it demonstrates a combination of characteristics of breadth, length, depth, and height that are on the ragged edge of our understanding and comprehension.  They come from a personal Lord who desires to provide an answer to our stated needs by showing us great and mighty things that we know not.  They come from a great God who is able to constantly surprise us with an outcome that is exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.  They come from a compassionate Christ who knows our struggles because He has walked in our shoes.  They come from a healing Lord who can transition our pain into progress and our struggles into successes. 

They come from a risen Saviour!

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO EMBODY A CONFIDENCE, REGARDLESS OF OUR CIRCUMSTANCES, THAT GOD IS POISED TO POUR OUT HIS LOVE ON US.  As He does, may we recognize those unexpected blessings as gifts from God that are above anything we could even imagine.

Missing the Message

I Kings 19:11-13 “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.  And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.  And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.  And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?”

In June of 1812, the United States of America declared war on England.  The main reasons for the conflict were the British closure of its markets to American merchants and major restrictions by the British on U.S. maritime trade.  Yet, President Madison and the U.S. Congress were missing one major fact as they supported and approved the conflict – the British Parliament had just rescinded those restrictions.  The six-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean to transmit any information caused the message to be missed.  “Presidents of War” by Michael Beschloss describes it this way: “As he planned the American invasion of Canada, Madison could not know that he was launching a conflict – which would consume many American lives – for which the principal cause of war had just vanished.”

In the case of the situation in 1812, the message was missed because of a simple but costly time delay.  In our situation today, God’s messages get missed because they are drowned out by the chaos of the noise that surrounds us – noise that we welcome into our lives to fill a void perfectly suited for God’s calling.

The loudest voice is not always the best.  It is not always right.  The high-volume winds, earthquakes, and fires of talking heads, media moguls, and social influencers might capture our attention and our imagination, but they may actually be causing us to miss the real message.  God’s still, small voice is beckoning for a yielded ear and a sensitive spirit.  The neon-sign messages of our world may be blinding us to the subtle messages that the Lord reserves for squinting eyes and humble hearts.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO BE INTENTIONALLY SENSITIVE TO GOD’S CALLING IN THE MIDST OF OUR CHAOTIC LIVES.  May we never miss a message from God!   

Oh God, How We Need You

II Corinthians 3:5 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Psalm 62:5-8 “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.  He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.  In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.  Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.  Selah.”

II Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

This past year, during an extended period away from my family and far from home, the following song by Matt Maher really caught my attention:

Lord I come, I confess
Bowing here, I find my rest
Without You, I fall apart
You’re the one that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour, I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour, I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand, I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour, I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You’re my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

This past year has also been a long one for humanity, for Americans, and for American Christians.  We must reset our spirits with a healthy dose of humility if we are to have hope for a brighter future characterized by revival.  Let us begin with the firm knowledge that, without the Lord, we truly fall apart and that Jesus is our hope and our stay.  May we cry out: Lord we need you; every hour, we need you; our one defense, our righteousness; oh God, how we need you!

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO REESTABLISH OURSELVES WITH A SPIRIT OF HUMILITY.  It all begins with this simple thought – oh God, how we need you!

Concerns on the Inside

Hosea 13:9-10 “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.  I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? And thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?”

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Ecclesiastes 7:15-16 “All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.  Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?”

Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

We know that our “adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. “ (I Peter 5:8)  He truly seeks to destroy us.  Yet, it is easy to forget that our greatest enemy might not come from without, but instead from within. We build a fortress around ourselves to protect us from threats from the outside, while often neglecting the fact that the most potent threats arise from the inside.  We are vigilant about external threats, but complacent about internal threats.  We secure the perimeter, but neglect the interior. 

We are prone to self-destruction – as individuals and as institutions.  It is true for nations, maybe even our own nation.  As much as we would like to blame our environment, our adversary, or our situation, it is internal rot that often leads to our destruction.  We frequently erode from the inside out, with no one to blame but ourselves.

There is a broad way that leads to destruction. Yet, there is a pathway that leads to a fulfilling, meaningful, joyful and impactful life!  That pathway is one that we must follow in our actions, but also in our thoughts, in our intents, in our perspectives, and in our motivations.  It must permeate our worldview, infuse our understanding of self-worth, and orient our relationships.  It must draw us back to the Lord as our king.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO PROTECT AGAINST INTERNAL THREATS THAT CAN LEAD TO SELF DESTRUCTION.  We must tend to concerns on the inside as much as we treat the threats on the outside.

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