Troublesome Times are Here

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Anyone watching the news today has to be sobered by the events occurring around the world and here on our native soil.

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Terrorism, deadly diseases, Christian persecution, and evil is abounding everywhere on the globe. I suppose that this is nothing new in the great scheme of things but it seems to be far worse in the 21st century than it was in the 20th century. Could it be that time is on the march toward a coming conclusion of the affairs of man on the world’s stage? Are we truly in the “end times” as preachers predict we are? None of this is certain and it is reliant on God’s grace and longsuffering.

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But this has become painfully clear to me and perhaps to you as well—Troublesome times are coming and they are coming to America.

So far America has been spared the worst of the worst. Yes we have had our natural disasters and an attack by terrorists on American soil but we have not experienced the horrors that have plagued other countries for many years now.

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I heard recently of a report to our church from missionaries to the Middle East that are crying out for a covering of prayer over them. They have seen the atrocities committed by ISIS towards Christians in those countries that are under siege by unimaginable evil. For this is what it is–it is an attack of Satan on believers.

The missionaries told of Christian families that were confronted by ISIS. ISIS first interrogated the children and demanded they deny Jesus. When the children refused they were beheaded in front of the parents. There can be no mistake that Christianity is under attack.

Here in the America it is cloaked in fine speeches of equality and free choice for everyone. The “Religion of Tolerance” abounds setting itself above the Christian faith. In other countries it is outright violent and deadly. But make no mistake either way it is an attack on every believer in Christ. Jesus said His name would be an offence to those who do not believe and it was never more clear than it is today.

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Judgment is coming. A righteous and holy God will not tolerate man’s evil forever. He will step in to put an end to it. When he does our world will be in the grip of the “last days” before His coming to set up His kingdom of peace and joy upon the earth. But before that we know from reading Revelation in the Bible that a time of great trouble such has never been before will occur upon the earth. Those of us as believers have the hope of being “raptured” (taken up to heaven) before the time of tribulation begins but——–we have no idea when that will be and no way of knowing what trials and tribulation we may go through before we are raptured. We may be asked to take bold stands for our faith in Christ before that time. We may become martyrs for the faith before that time. We may suffer through times of want and dread and disease before that happens.

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So what do we do? Cower in fear? It is tempting–Worry continually? Hard not to do–Become a doomsday prepper? Possibly if you are so inclined. Stick our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening and surely it won’t happen here in our neighborhoods and towns. Again very tempting—-

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What does the Bible say about these days? II Peter 3:11 says “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, (the earth and our possession of it) what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of the Lord.”

I want to share with you some thoughts over the next few blogs about what we can do to be ready for “anything” Satan throws our way.

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Let’s start with “Gird up your minds.” In other words ‘prepare your mind for action.’

Isaiah 33:6 “and wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation the fear of the LORD is his treasure.” These are days when we must spend time in God’s Word and encourage our hearts and minds from it.

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“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed(fixed) on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

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Remember “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces—” Isaiah 25:8

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the Lord is at hand. Be careful(worried) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God, and the peace of God which passeth understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

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“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 1:13

Our minds need to be right before our hearts can be right. We have to remove our thoughts from the negative things that we hear every day and place them in to God’s hands replacing our worries and fears with scriptures.

And then share the gospel of salvation with others so that they might have a hope in the days to come.

The hymn that I would like to share with you today asks a question–“Are Ye Able?” said the Master–It is a question I must ask myself and then find the answer to this question in my own life.

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Are ye able,” said the Master, “To be crucified with me?”

“Yea,” the conquering Christians answered,

To the death we follow Thee.”

 

“Are ye able,” to remember,

When a thief lifts up his eyes,

That his pardoned soul is worthy

Of a peace in Paradise?

 

“Are ye able,” when the shadows close around you with the sod,

To believe that spirit triumphs,

To commend your soul to God?

 

“Are ye able,” still the Master whispers down eternity,

And heroic spirits answer,

Now, as then in Galilee.

 

“Lord, we are able,”

Our spirits are Thine,

Remold them, make us like Thee, Divine:

Thy guiding radiance above us shall be

A beacon to God, to love and loyalty.”

Earl Bowman Marlatt 1892-1976——Harry S. Mason 1881-1964

He is Able

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Fear is gripping our nation today.

Muslim terrorists are creeping out from their lairs to “execute” innocent people in the name of Islam.

Ebola has stretched it’s infectious fingers into our country.

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Financial markets are in distress.

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Natural disasters  are affecting many parts of our great land.

There seems to be no real good news to report.

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God is still on the throne in heaven and He is still in control of events upon the earth. His eye is on the sparrow that falls and never leaves us as we travel this weary world.

The great good news is that HE IS ABLE!

The word ABLE is defined this way—SUFFICIENT POWER TO ACCOMPLISH THE JOB. CAPABLE, COMPETENT, QUAILIFIED—-

Let’s look, for a moment, at some scriptures that define His ABILITY.

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If you want to read a tension charged story then read—Daniel 3–Here we have the story of three of God’s faithful men who would not bow to any other god but the true God. They did this upon threat of death by fire. When their time finally arose to stand before a wicked king under the threat of death and  given an opportunity to”change their ways” they boldly declared–“If it be so our God is ABLE to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace–{and here is the best part} but if not{if it is not His will to deliver us but to count us as martyrs for the faith} let it be known unto thee ,O king we will not serve thy gods.” A bold statement of faith and trust from men who drew their strength from knowing God.

You only need read the next few verses to see the great miracle God performed on their part and how the heart of a wicked king was turned to acknowledge the true and  living God.

Many Christians over the centuries and today have faced this situation and stepped out on faith knowing God is ABLE. If He does not deliver the body He will deliver the soul from everlasting torment and welcome it to heaven. Matthew 19:28 “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who can destroy both the soul and body in hell.”  Either way He is ABLE to deliver those of us who have put our faith and trust in Him.

I like John 10:28 which says this–“And I give unto the eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither, shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” If you have trusted Christ as you Savior you are in His hand and nothing can remove you from His eternal grasp.

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I have this little chorus to share with you today to encourage you–

He is able, He is able,

I know He is able,

I know my Lord is able to carry me through.

 

He’s able,  He’s able,

I know my Lord is able to carry me through.

 

He healed the broken hearted

And set the captive free,

He made the lame to walk again

And caused the blind to see;

 

He’s able, He’s able

I know He is able,

I know my Lord is able to carry me through.”

Paul E. Paino

MY HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHING LESS—-

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Hope —if you listen to the news very often– you will find a constant search for hope.

Hope for a solution to the devastating explosion of radical Islam.

Hope for a stop to the deadly plague of Ebola that is ravaging parts of Africa.

Hope for an ailing economy.

Hope for the job market to improve and prosperity to return to certain segments of the population.

All of this hope is very fragile indeed.

The dictionary defines “Hope” as “to cherish a desire with expectation.”

Often we say “I hope so—” because contemplating the outcome any other way is too difficult to imagine.

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Proverbs 13:12 states—“Hope deferred(withheld)  maketh the heart sick” —–We’ve all been there at one time or another and can attest to what a miserable state this is–the verse goes on to say-

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-“but when the desire cometh it is a tree of life.”  It is good and nourishing.

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I like this verse—“Turn ye to the stronghold (God) ye prisoners of HOPE—” I am a prisoner of hope:)

Here is our most solid and sure hope. We may never experience in this life the realization of our hopes and desires. In fact it may be the opposite. But those that have invited Jesus Christ into their heart and life have an ETERNAL hope.

This life with it’s cares and woes will soon pass but eternity will be forever.

“The pioneering radio preacher Donald Grey Barnhouse used to ask, “When you get to the pearly gates and God asks, ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’ What will you say?”

The song I want to share with you today is an answer to that question—:)

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My faith has found a resting place–

Not in device or creed:

I trust the Ever-Living One—

His wound for me shall plead.

 

Enough for me that Jesus saves—

This ends my fear an doubt;

A sinful soul I come to Him–

He’ll never cast me out.

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My heart is leaning on the Word—

The written Word of God:

Salvation by my Savior’s name–

Salvation through His blood.

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My great Physician heals the sick—

The lost He came to save;

For me His precious blood He shed–

For me His life He gave.

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I need no other argument,

I need no other plea; (in the court room of heaven)

It is enough that Jesus died,

And that He died for me. (and you:) )

Lidie H. Edmunds  (nineteen century)

 

“God does not run heaven like a country club or a successful corporation. We cannot get in on our own qualifications. The door is barred to all who try to earn their entry.

But it swings wide for the simple saint who affirms in faith,” I need no other argument. I need no other plea; it is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me.” Great Songs of the Faith.

A paraphrase of Hebrews 3:12-14 says it this way–

“Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.

For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.”

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September 11, 2001–A Day that Will Live in Infamy

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The word infamy is defined as—having a evil reputation brought about by something grossly criminal, shocking, brutal.

I think all of these words accurately define what occurred 13 years ago when our nation came under attack by radical Islamists.

Americans were generally ignorant, until that date, of this strong and evil enemy that was rising up to strike our nation. We had experienced peace on our continent for such a long time that the idea of such an event happening to us seemed –impossible. We couched ourselves in our comforts and moved about our days with our burden of earthly cares unaware that waiting in the wings was an army sent by the “evil one” to destroy all that is true and good.

Christians were comfortable in their place in their church pews and in their home. Complacent about their duty to witness to others about Christ. Perhaps it is this complacency over the last thirty or more years that have allowed this evil to rise up and get a foot hold in the Middle East.

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I wonder –where were the Christian Soldiers trained in our Christian Schools–when Sadam fell in Iraq–ready to go forth and reach the Muslim world with the gospel of Christ? I’m sure that God had called some to go and they failed to heed His calling on their lives and chose the “safe” way instead.

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None the less, on this day we remember that we have a real enemy. A enemy of America, and Israel, and of Believers in Christ world wide. An enemy that desires to raise the Muslim flag over all nations that have espoused a belief in the Judeo Christian God of the Bible.

With the acknowledgement of this threat comes the realization that we are in danger as a nation, as a people, as a Christian, of an assault on, not only ourselves, but all that we hold dear. Our families and our friends. Our religious freedom hangs in the balance as it never has before. It is under assault from without and from within. The battle rages for the souls and hearts of men. The enemy–Satan-is on the march working evil wherever he is able. Again he wages battle from within our nations borders and from without. He is on the attack against all that is Holy.

Do we then cower in fear? Do we hear the horrible plight of brothers and sisters in Christ over in the Middle East and cringe in our ‘safe places” and hope that this horror never comes to our shores?

The horrible truth of Sept. 11, 2001 is that it has already arrived. It walks among us. It bides its time until it will strike again.

What can we do? How then do we prepare for this eventuality? We walk in closer fellowship with our God. We confess our sins and allow nothing between “our soul and our Savior.” We get on the firing line to witness to all that we can knowing that the only hope for real change in direction for our nation is a heart change. We fix our eyes and  our hope on Him who will win the final battle between good and evil.

We hear the sad news of young people from America signing up to join ISISL. With all the comforts afforded them in our great land their hearts are empty and seeking. Where will they turn? Who will tell them of a “cause” worth living for and dying for. That cause is “Christ.” and He alone can fill the hungry heart to overflowing and change the course of human events.

The hymn I have chosen today is–A Mighty Fortress is Our God—

It was written by Martin Luther in the 1500’s when anyone that dared to join the Protestant Reformation risked all to stand up for their beliefs. Something we may find ourselves doing in the near future.

 

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A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;

Our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.

For still our ancient foe(devil)  doth seek to work us woe–

His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.

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Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,

Were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.

Don’t ask who that might be, Christ Jesus, it is He–

Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.

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And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.

The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him——–

His rage we can endure, for lo!  his doom is sure:

One little word shall fell him.

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That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth.

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also—

The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still:

His kingdom is forever.”

Martin Luther 1483-1546—translated by Fredrick H. Hedge 1805-1890

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“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble–Psalm 46:1

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IS MY SIN TOO GREAT?

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Speaking of Jesus the apostle John wrote–

“BUT AS MANY AS RECEIVED HIM, TO THEM GAVE HE THE POWER TO BEOME THE SONS OF GOD, EVEN TO THEM THAT BELIEVE ON HIS NAME,”  JOHN 1:12

I want to share an excerpt from the Baptist Bread written my Dr. Tim Green—–

“Sir James Simpson was a famous Edinburgh chemist. In the course of his distinguished career he had discovered chloroform, among other notable accomplishments.

Near the end of his life he was asked what he felt was his greatest discovery. His prompt reply was, “My greatest discovery was when I discovered what Jesus would be unto me.”

Simpson had accepted Christ as his Savior, Lord and Master, and now resides with Him in Glory.

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There is a two-fold discovery I’d like to consider today, one is in our text, “–AS MANY AS RECEIVED HIM—” The other is the fact that not only do we receive Him, but HE RECEIVES US!

In Romans 15:7 we read this ” CHRIST HAS ALSO RECEIVED US–“

Surely one can see that we got the best of this transaction:)

WE GOT HIM AND HE GOT US!

However the “shouting ground” with the realization that he received us–you and me—

 

To think that a holy God would stoop to receive us from the trash heaps and garbage dumps of our earthly existence is WONDERFUL!!!!

His life added to our lives, make life livable. Our lives added to His life, make us fit for Glory, as He,  “—RECEIVED US, TO THE GLORY OF GOD.”

I always thought it smacked a little of pride to way, “I accepted Christ.”

The grand thing was that He accepted me!

What a day of discovery when Jesus and you received one another!”

 

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This thought amazes me. HE RECEIVED ME!   and each of you that is reading this–if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior can echo the same thing:) How wonderful!

 

The hymn I’d like to share today was written by James McGranahan  who lived in the 19th century America, He was a musician and composer composing over 250 hymns.

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CHRIST RECEIVETH SINFUL MEN

Sinners Jesus will receive;

Sound this word of grace to all 

Who the heavenly pathway leave,

All who linger, all who fall.

 

Come and He will give you rest;

Trust Him, for His word is plain;

He will take the sinfulest;

Christ receiveth sinful men.

 

 

Now my heart condemns me not,

Pure before the law I stand;

He who cleansed me from all spot,

Satisfied its last demand.

 

 

Christ receiveth sinful men,

Even me with all my sin;

Purged from every spot and stain,

                          Heaven with Him I enter in.

 

 

Sing it o’er and o’er again;

Christ receiveth sinful men;

Make the message clear and plain:

Christ receiveth sinful men.

 

James McGranahan  July 4, 1840-July 9, 1907

SO NEVER THINK YOUR SIN IS TOO GREAT FOR JESUS’ PRECIOUS BLOOD TO CLEANSE. NEVER FEEL THAT IF YOU CAME TO HIM ASKING FORGIVENESS THAT HE IS NOT BIG ENOUGH AND POWERFUL ENOUGH TO FORGIVE. FORGIVE YOU–OF ANY AND ALL SIN—-YES HE CAN!!

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Battlefields

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Turn on any news channel today and you will see scenes from battlefields. You will see innocent people caught in the sway of an evil influence that is bringing war and destruction to their homes and their land.

War has been a part of the human condition for centuries because there will always be those who hunger for the power to rule over others.

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In the 21st century we have watched the rise of religious zealots willing, not only to take the lives of others for their “cause,” but to give up their own lives. These enemies of Christianity and Israel are the most dangerous of all because they feel justified to massacre innocents in the name of their god. They feel justified in their cause to bring about the rule of the Mahdi or 12 th  Iman. Which would put all the world under Muslim control.

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I was listening to Shawn Hannity the other day and he was speaking to a woman from the Middle East who understood the language of the terrorists. He played a clip of a song, that terrorist were singing, and then of the words they said after for her to interpret. Because I was driving in my car I didn’t get everything she said but this phrase stuck out in my mind.  She repeated the words the terrorists were shouting translated into English and in it they referred, probably to the  American military, as “Armies of the Cross.” They went on to say that they were in a battle with the “Armies of the Cross” and intended to win.

The phrase “Armies of the Cross” really resonated with me.

When you look at the map of the Middle East today with ISIS on the march one can’t help but think of the tail of that old serpent Satan slashing across the land bringing death and destruction. Many of those affected by this brutal enemy are Christians.

We see this in the conflict between Hamas and Israel. Hamas has little regard for the lives of their own people and are willing to sacrifice women and children upon the altar of their hatred for Israel.

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In America we are not experiencing this horror yet but that is not to say that that old serpent Satan doesn’t have his claws into us.

With America, so far, his tactics are much more subtle. America’s wealth and decadence are doing a good job without his help. Our nation slips further and further into moral decay. Our Christians institutions are maligned by the rising Pop Culture in our country that are echoing the 60’s phrase–“Anything goes.”

Believers are lulled to sleep by a spiritual complacency. Busy on the “playground” of this world they have no time to be “serious” about their faith. We are not under an immediate attack so it is easy to go through our days busy with our occupations and problems hoping that things will magically get better. Or that we’ll be raptured out before the “really bad stuff” happens.

 

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Here are a few statements I read in the Baptist Bread. “Lost humanity is blind to the truth that—if they give the devil a ride he will soon be driving.” And in our country-“Sin has become a “culture” while “human rights'” strangle the process of justice and punishment for America’s heinous crimes.” Randy Pike

 

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Our nation is on a downward spiral into moral insanity. The next generation arriving into adulthood have no moral compass to guide them. As they flounder around trying to live their lives with out any Christian influence the mistakes they make only cause them pain. What they think will bring them pleasure only brings them despair.

Lest I get any further off topic here I want to include a hymn today that has challenged my heart and I hope will challenge yours. The battle is not lost yet. We can still be “soldiers of the Cross” by daily dying to self and seeking to serve Him. Because we know the only thing that can turn our nation is personal salvation.

 

 

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In the 1700’s anyone who became a follower of John or Charles Wesley and became a Methodist was taunted and persecuted.  Methodists were stoned, mauled, set upon by bulldogs, homes looted, business ruined. In 1749 Charles Wesley wrote this song to encouraged these embattled believers.

Soldiers of Christ, arise,

And put your armor on,

Strong in the strength which God supplies

Through His eternal Son;

Strong in the Lord of Hosts,

And in His mighty power,

Who in the strength of Jesus trusts

Is more than conqueror.

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Stand, then, in His great might,

With all His strength endued;

But take to arm you for the flight,

The panoply  (tools and weapons,suit of armor) of God:

That, having all things done,

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Till Christ the Lord descends from high,

And takes the conquerors home.

                           Charles Wesley  1707-1788

 Ephesians 6:13 

America–Something to Sing About:)

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“MY COUNTRY , TIS OF THEE,

SWEET LAND OF LIBERTY,

OF THEE I SING:

LAND WHERE MY FATHERS DIED,

LAND OF THE PILGRIM’S PRIDE,

FROM EVERY MOUNTAINSIDE

LET FREEDOM RING!

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MY NATIVE COUNTRY THEE,

LAND OF THE NOBLE FREE,

THY NAME I LOVE:

I LOVE THY ROCKS AND RILLS,

THY WOODS AND TEMPLED HILLS;

MY HEART WITH RAPTURE THRILLS

LIKE THAT ABOVE.

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LET MUSIC SWELL THE BREEZE,

AND RING FROM ALL THE TREES SWEET FREEDOM’S SONG:

LET MORTAL TONGUES AWAKE, LET ALL THAT BREATH PARTAKES;

LET ROCKS THEIR SILENCE BREAK, THE SOUND PROLONG.

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OUR FATHER’S GOD , TO THEE,

AUTHOR OF LIBERTY,

TO THEE WE SING:

LONG MAY OUR LAND BE BRIGHT WITH FREEDOM’S HOLY LIGHT;

PROTECT US BY THY MIGHT,

GREAT GOD AND KING!

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AMEN AND AMEN

Written by Samuel Francis Smith———Music from Thesaurus Musicus