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Archive for the ‘Love of God’ Category

by Jim Gordon

Those of us who are living outside the walls of religion and institutional church have found a freedom we sometimes cannot explain. At least we cannot explain it in a way that people who still attend a church building seem to understand.

The problem is those who still attend the traditional church do not accept the fact that everyone is different and sees things in various ways. They usually want to stay away from us or talk about how we have backslidden and fallen away from God because we do not do what we have traditionally been taught was godly.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are worshipping and loving God just as much as before, only in a different way. We have not left the Church (Ekklesia) but we have left the building (church). Jesus is building His Church out of ‘living stones’ and not with brick and mortar.

My wife and I left the church because we felt the system was not the way God intended and we became unsatisfied with the way things were going. Yet, we never left the true Church which is made up of all of those who are believers.

Each of us has an equally important part to play in the body, yet no one is the head over anyone else. Each of us are functioning parts of the body and we are all needed and important. Of course, only Jesus is the head of his Church, not a pastor.

Those of us who have left the traditional church are often told we need to attend because we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Yet this verse does not mean we have to be in an organized, pre-planned service led by a pastor and a worship leader. It is saying we need our brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether we meet on a Monday at a café, Tuesday in a home, Thursday at a bar or Friday in a park makes no difference. Jesus said for where two or three gather together in my name there I am in their midst.

For us true and meaningful fellowship happens each and every day when God brings us together with a brother or sister, or when we meet up with another couple for dinner. It also may be a time of one-on-one fellowship online with a brother or sister hundreds of miles away yet bonded closely through the Spirit.

We are so conditioned to think of the church building and its scheduled events as the main way of fellowship and learning. We are told in the Bible that when we come together each of us should have a word, or a song, or a praise, but how often does that actually happen within the institutional church? Being outside the walls, my wife and I have found this to be the norm. We all talk, we encourage one another, learn about each other, pray for one another and we support and care for each other. Fellowship is everyone having a part to play and everyone being open and talking about who God is to them. It seems that sitting quietly in a church service does not fulfill what God intended fellowship to be among his children.

A vitally important thing to remember for those of us who have left the church organization is that we should not have a feeling of ‘us vs them’. We need to keep in mind that those who attend church are doing so because they love God and feel they are doing the right thing. We are all children of God, whether we are in the institutional church or out of it. We are all various parts of the Church that Jesus is building and we each need to follow the leading of the Spirit for ourselves.

As people of God, we are to love God and love others. We cannot do that in our own strength but by the power of the Spirit within us. Sadly, it often seems we have a problem loving our brothers and sisters in Christ and an even greater problem loving those who see things differently.

I pray that all of us can keep in mind that we are children of God, saved by grace and living in His kingdom now. Whether we are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, let us focus on our love of God and for one another. The world needs to see the love of God in action among those who follow God. They do not need to see arguing, fighting and the disrespect that is sadly, so familiar among Christians today.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

A majority of people believe in God, but may not have a closer relationship with God because what they believe about God. No one can be certain what an invisible, inaudible God is like. I do know that only a perfect, loving God is worth believing in. Show me the perfect parent, or one close to it, and I suspect that is what God is like. A reason some may believe otherwise is because of what they think a Book says about God. God may be more like you expected!

Is God really that Authoritative? 

Abraham questioned and negotiated with God (Gen. 18). God listened and considered Abraham’s concern. An Authoritative God would have said: “I am God so shut your mouth.” In Exodus, Moses balked when God asked Moses to return to Egypt and liberate the Jewish people. God didn’t say “Do not question my plan or authority!” God was adaptive in working with Moses. The Apostle Paul says love is patient, kind, and does not insist on its own way (I Cor 13). Love puts up with us, has faith in us, and places hope in us. See John Sanders: It Matters If Your God Is Nurturing Or Authoritative!

Is God really that Judgmental? 

Did God create us to remind God how great they are, or we can go to Hell? Doesn’t sound like a God I can get close to. Worse is if you believe Hell is a place for unending torture where pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place to torture their enemies after death.  I think the Bible agrees. See here.  Call me a fool! If my kids hated my guts or ignored me and had a genuine change of heart in this life or the afterlife, I am ready to begin a relationship. So is God! 

Is God pissed and views you as a scum bag? 

Do you not give a damn how others feel or how your actions impact others? Color me God then. Your behaviors disgust me. Does God really view us as evil from birth and has to put on Jesus-colored glasses to even look at us? Such an idea could only come from one’s interpretation of a Book. But I could point to verses such as Isaiah 54:10: “…my unfailing love for you will not be shaken…says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” A loving God can only love how an earthly parent ought to love their child. 

Maybe God is kind and relatable like the parent you always wished for 

God’s love surely is the same as supreme parents – other-directed not self-consumed. Love gets excited when we do well and make a difference in the lives of others. Love anticipates, hopes for my success, believes in me. God is pulling for me, even when failing, because I do the same for my children. We doubt God but God still loves. God may worry but still hopes. We are dependent on our children for intimate relationships. God is dependent on us. An all-powerful God would only give us uncontrolled freedom if seeking a partnership and friendship with us.

Our view of God matters!

A belief in a benevolent God makes us kinder. We often treat others the way we think God treats us. How has God’s threats of punishment helped you break away from bad habits or behaviors you long to change? Grace or authoritativeness doesn’t guarantee change, but I believe we best change because of God’s or friends’ love and acceptance. If we think God is hard to please and pissed off about sin rather than what sin is doing to us, we may stop going to God when failing. God desires perfection for our own sake but surely celebrates our victories along the way. Our image of God can dictate our beliefs about God. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others. You may discover God is more like what you assume a loving God is like.

What Kind Of God Do You Believe In?

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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And Everyone Else is Wrong

by Jim Gordon

If you are around a lot of people or are on social media very often, you will see many people are ready to argue in order to prove their way of thinking, especially in regard to spiritual matters.

Some atheists complain about Christians believing in a fairy in the sky, some people get mad over the transgender debate, gays are treated like second-class citizens and some of them are hateful toward Christians. Many Christians fight with other Christians over doctrine and some can be very judgmental and condemning of atheists and the LGBT community. It seems each group is trying to prove why they are right and the other group is wrong and many times they do it in ways that are not so nice.

Why do so many people spend so much time arguing and defending personal views when we cannot prove any of it? Seriously, none of us can prove beyond a doubt our thoughts and views on spiritual things or life after death. We cannot prove God exists and we cannot prove he does not exist. There are so many varying doctrines, interpretations of the bible and denominations among Christianity that it is not surprising we do not know who is right or wrong?

If we really think about it no matter what your religion, what your faith or belief, what your lifestyle, if you are atheist, Christian, gay, agnostic, transgender, if you have a scientific view or creationist view none of us can prove our way of thought in regard to spiritual matters. It is our personal view and it is good to have those views, but we should not be trying to prove our way and push it onto others expecting them to see things our way.

Each group is passionate about the way they see things and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is expecting everyone to agree and go along with our way of thinking.

We are not all going to agree on things, yet we should be able to be accepting of others. Being accepting does not mean we always agree with one another or approve of everything people do, but we should be able to be kind and show respect to everyone even in our differences. Being judgmental, condemning, or poking fun at one another is certainly not being loving and kind.

It all boils down to no matter what route we take in life, what we think about life after death, what we think about God or spiritual life, none of us can prove our way of thinking, at least not until death. Once we die, if there is life after death and I believe there is, we will know for sure at that point. Until that time, we can only follow our way of thinking or believing and we should be respectful of others and the way they think.

Those of us who are followers of Jesus should especially be loving and kind because Christ told us to love God and love one another. He did not say we should only love those who believe like us. He did not say to be judgmental, condemning or to exclude anyone.

When reading about Jesus in the gospels we see a person who loved people and was accepting of everyone. He did not condemn nor judge and I believe he was God in human form showing us that God loves us all.

I believe God provides grace for everyone, but he gives us all freedom to choose what to believe and whether to accept it or not. I believe we should offer the same option to our fellow human beings no matter what label is put on them.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

Do you not give a damn how others feel or how your actions impact others? Color me God then. You are a wretched soul and your behaviors disgust me. I doubt though that is you because you wouldn’t be reading a spiritual blog. Church folks are familiar with hymns that describes us humans as “filthy rags” in the eyes of God. Does God really view us as evil from birth and has to put on Jesus-colored glasses to even look at us?

Does the Bible really claim God is pissed and views you as scum?

Some of us were taught at church that a loving God thinks we are sinners from the day we were born (Doctrine of Original Sin). See here.  Such a view could only come from a book such as the Bible. Anyone can point to verses to defend their view of God. Google to find verses that describes God a wrathful and revengeful God. But I could point to Isaiah 54:10: “…my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Jesus says He judges no one. (Jn. 8:15). This doesn’t sound like a “pissed” Jesus. I am convinced a loving God can only love how an earthly parent ought to love their child.

Did God create us to be better lovers than God? 

It is only intuitive a Creator loves how their creations ought to love one another. Even the Bible implies perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). If I discover my child is bullying someone at school, I detest the behavior not them. If we find out our kid is using drugs, do we hate them or what the drugs are doing to them? I don’t sense the Bible as a whole describes God as loving us but we don’t really deserve it. God, like human parents hates unloving actions.

Views of God shape our attitudes toward God toward others 

If we think God is hard to please and pissed off about sin rather than what sin is doing to us, we may stop going to God when failing. God desires perfection for our own sake but surely celebrates our victories along the way. Our image of God can dictate our actions. If God can do Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If God punishes us forever (Hell) for sins briefly while here on earth, aren’t we teaching others to fear God rather than experience God relationally like they would a human parent?  I am not convinced such a Hell is biblical. See here. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others. You may be right!

Is God Pissed At You For Being A Sinner?

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Over the past few months, I have watched with displeasure the discussions and comments on social media. The interaction among people seems to be taking a turn that is more divisive, argumentative and sometimes hateful. Social media has become the common way of communication these days and it is very easy to be unkind and bolder than usual. We express our thoughts and feelings in a much meaner way than we would if we were face to face.

I think most people find that sitting in front of a computer screen gives a sense of boldness and openness to express themselves in ways that are not always a good thing. There is something about not being in the presence of someone or seeing their face that emboldens us and allows our mean side to come out.

To me it is the same feeling you can get when you get behind the wheel of a car. All of a sudden, we seem to be in attack mode. We blow our horn at others, yell and curse and flip people off, yet if we walked by them on the street we would smile and say hello.

There is something about face-to-face communication that usually changes the way we talk to and treat others. Face to face communication seems to take away the meanness we usually find with social media communication. Looking someone in the face, being in their presence seems to soften the way we talk and respond.

Why is it that we cannot see the human person behind the computer screen? Why is it we feel the meanness, this emboldened power to treat others with contempt? Remember Jesus said to love not only those who love you but to love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.

There is nothing wrong with social media and communicating through it. Just keep in mind that there is another human being on the other end, and even though we are not in their physical presence, the things we say and the way we react have an impact on them. Let us make it a point to have a positive, encouraging impact when we communicate with others.

The way of Christ is the way of love. Whether it be online or in person we are to love our neighbors. In our world today living in love is becoming rare. Yet by doing so in the power of the Spirit, it will be noticed and it will make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting and so desperately seeking love and acceptance.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

The doctrine of original sin suggests we are guilty even before we were born because of Adam’s sin in the garden thousands of years ago. This may be hard for many to understand why God would hold a person responsible for another’s person sin. This seems totally unjust according to human logic. God forbid certain disputable images of God drive people to unbelief and despair.

Does the Bible really imply God holds us responsible for another’s person sin?

Exodus 20:5 says: “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” It is true when parents disobey the Law when in one’s best interest, the impact can be felt for generations. Parents can provoke positive or negative behaviors from their children. With freedom given by God comes the possibility and responsibility of influence. This passage suggests only consequences to children who hate God as their parents do. 

The Bible clearly states children are not held responsible for their parents’ sins

Children who break the law, as their parents do, suffer consequences. Legal biblical texts concur. “Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each of you will die for your own sin.” (Deut 24:16). The Bible doesn’t declare that sin is inherited. Ezek 18:20 says: “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.”

What does the New Testament claim?

A fair reading of Romans 5:12-21, which is the main passage referred to about original sin, implies Adam’s sin was not transferred but certainly influential. Sin entered the world through Adam as did God’s grace through Jesus’ birth. We are born in sin but not with sin. Babies are not guilty of sin and doomed to eternity without God before the age of accountability. The truth though is the influence of sin is so powerful that only one person has ever managed to live a totally unselfish life.

Romans 5:12-21 says Adam’s sin brought alienation from His Creator; Jesus’ life brought reconciliation. Adam hid when God visited the garden after he sin. Guilt will do that to those with a conscious. Adam’s sin brought him spiritual death or alienation from God. (Gen 2:17, see Col 2:13). In the same way, spiritual death is inevitable if others follow in Adam’s footsteps. We don’t inherit Adam’s guilt. Condemnation is conditional. Could anyone after Adam not have sinned and led a totally selfless life? The Bible doesn’t say that is impossible, though clearly all have sinned.

How does God view us if not condemned from the beginning? 

Original Sin theology assumes sin is inherited and we are condemned before we are born because of Adam’s sin. Some assume the Bible says Adam’s offspring were condemned to some place like Hell before even birth. I doubt it! Our Creator loved us enough to give the freedom to rebel and the choice whether to be with God after death or not. God loves us as any loving parent loves us. Fear of God is overblown. I guess fear God if helps to avoid consequences of destructive actions. But if struggling and need encouragement and mercy, a loving God awaits with open arms.

Does God Really View Us As Guilty From Birth? (Doctrine Of Original Sin)

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Michael Donahoe

We seem to see more and more Christian people taking up political action causes. It seems politics and the church are becoming more involved together, and the separation of church and state is slowly disappearing.

There is nothing wrong with being involved politically. Yet, politics is not the most important piece of the puzzle. Political action usually only ends up in division and the arguing of one party against the other.

Jesus was not into political action. He said his Kingdom was not of this world. Jesus was more into social action.

Jesus talked a lot about: feeding the hungry, taking care of the poor, the widows and the orphans, welcoming the stranger, and visiting those in prison. He talked about loving God and loving one another, even our enemies. Social action can be done apart from political action, and it will bring more meaningful results than any political action.

Of course, social action is not a requirement for salvation. That is by grace. As a result of our love for God and for humanity, social action and doing good works to others is a natural by-product.

Political action is more of a power struggle. It is forcing actions and ways of life on people by rules, laws and legislation. It can easily become divisive, exclusive and discriminatory.

Social action is a way of helping people live a more comfortable life. It provides ways to improve the lives of those who need help. It is a way of showing the love for people that Jesus talked about and expressed.

https://myopinionblog.substack.com/

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by Jim Gordon

With all the changes happening in Christianity these days, such as Christian Nationalism, exclusion of those who are LGBTQ, seeing the separation of church and state slowly disappear, and those in the church seemingly becoming more hateful toward those who believe differently, my wife and I question whether we should still call ourselves Christian or not. Basically, it all boils down to what we mean by the word Christian.

If being a Christian is being part of a religion that meets in a building on a particular day and follows set doctrines based on what denomination we belong to, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian is being part of a group that is opposed to all other religions and only accepts those who believe like we do, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian has anything to do with excluding those who are LGBTQ, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian has anything to do with treating women unequally, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian has anything to do with discrimination and segregation, then no, we are not Christians.

Actions that do not show the love, acceptance and good works that Jesus showed while on earth are not part of a Christianity we want to be associated with.

In Acts 11:26, the disciples were first called Christians by people in Antioch. They were called Christians because they were acting like Christ. The people there were calling them little Christ’s because of the way they showed the love and power of Christ. Now, if that is what is meant by being a Christian, then we are all in.

There are many ways we can describe ourselves…believers, Christ followers, disciples of Christ, people of faith, Christians. Yet, the name itself does not really matter. What matters is how we live our lives. Is Christ preeminent? Are we living as one with him? Are we allowing the love of Christ to live through us, accepting others, loving others and being little Christ’s to all we meet? If not, being called a Christian means nothing, and may actually be damaging to others.

When people see us, they should see Christ. He lives within us by the Spirit. We really do not need to worry so much about the label we use. We are to be known by our actions that show the love of God and share that love with our fellow man each and every day.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Michael Donahoe

Growing up in church and the Christian world, I always felt I had some fairly important facts figured out about God. I always thought that what I was taught in church was the absolute truth and complete facts because, after all, the pastor was called by God and the pastor should know everything. Where God lived. Where I would go when I die.

Yet, as time goes by and I become more open to actually questioning some of what I was told in church, I have come to think of some of these things a little differently.

We are taught that the house of God was the church where we went to worship and learn about God. We were told that God was a man sitting on a throne somewhere out there in what we call heaven. We were told when we die, we would go to heaven to live with God forever.

I think we are missing some important truths in regard to these matters. We as Christians often take what we were told in church and think it is fact. We will fight and defend our views when people disagree, yet we really have no actual proof of some of the things we so quickly defend.

As I read more and think about things, it is clear we are missing some very important topics Jesus talked about. He said the Kingdom of God is within us, he said he was sending another comforter who would teach us and guide us. He said that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have the mind of Christ. We tend to skip over these statements and continue to look to outward expressions of where God lives and what life after death will be like.

I think we are missing the fact that God is not somewhere out there, sitting on a throne. God does not show up now and then in a building that we call church. God is spirit and God is not a man or woman with a physical body. Although God does have male and female attributes, God is neither. We need to remember the customs and ways of life during the time the bible was being written. Men were in charge and women were usually considered property. The writers would naturally use male terminology for the God they were writing about.

As spirit, God does not live in a specific physical place. We are the closest thing because we are the dwelling place of the Spirit, yet God is everywhere. Physically speaking, we are God’s body, hands and feet on this earth. We know God is with us because God said we would never be left alone or forsaken by God.

Again, we seem to be so sure of the things we know about God and the afterlife, yet we really have no proof. It is all by faith, and many of it is our personal interpretations of bible verses or which pastor we listened to and followed. Rather than take a stand and argue with people about things we really do not know for sure, accept the fact that others have different views and opinions and there is no need to fight and argue over things we really do not know as facts.

There is nothing wrong with saying we do not know, there is nothing wrong with uncertainty. There is nothing wrong with questions and doubts. God is able to handle them all. We take by faith that God has what is best for us planned. We take by faith that there is a spirit world and we will be with God once we leave this earth. Take comfort in those thoughts, but also do not force your beliefs on others. Allow them the freedom to make up their own mind and follow what they believe.

God has given us free will to choose for ourselves who we will serve and what we will believe. Let us remember to do the same for our fellow human beings. The only thing Jesus told us to do was to love God and love one another.

Let me close with a few words by my friend, Chris Kratzer on the matter:

“If we search for God’s heart in the Scriptures, we open up a world of personal opinion, conjecture, and unresolvable debate.

If we search for God’s heart in the annals of Christianity history, we open up a trail of inconsistency, human fallibility, and religious conquest.

If we search for God’s heart in church, we open up a door into unending interpretations, conditional relationships, and spiritual franchising.

Yet, if we search for God within us, we find Her mind, we find our rest, we find ourselves, and we find our purpose.

We cannot know God outside of ourselves until we discover Her within ourselves”.

https://myopinionblog.substack.com/

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By Mike Edwards

It is often said God blessed the United States specifically, suggesting God’s blessings are withheld from other nations by God. It is important how we portray what God is really like. I am not going to do a Bible study on how God blesses others. Several viewpoints could be defended, depending on one’s interpretation of certain passages. It isn’t presumptuous though to imagine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions.

The way God blesses must be loving 

Atheists and believers agree. The only God worth believing in is a perfect, loving God. Can God manipulate others? Obviously not because love doesn’t manipulate. We can talk about perfect Godly love by comparing to perfect, human love. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). How we lovingly bless others may be how a loving God would bless. Do we bless one child while withholding blessings from another child though both may be deserving or in need?

God’s blessings can’t be arbitrary

True love can’t be arbitrary or bias. Some Christian circles teach that before one is born that God elects or blesses some with eternal life after death while excluding others. Such arbitrary love is immoral. God doesn’t arbitrarily bless some with food in their bellies and not others by manipulating behind the scenes. God doesn’t wish anyone would starve. There are many human reasons why one might not have enough food. Humans must partner together to combat starvation. 

God’s blessings can’t be controlling 

We know true love can’t be controlling. Ask any adult about their parents! We hate when we see friends try to control others for their own reasons or gain.  Employees can smell a controlling employer a mile away. The truth is God can’t wave a magic wand – aka blessing some and not others – without accounting for freedom. It isn’t that you didn’t beg enough or have the right attitude. A loving God is surely always doing all they can in a free world for all nations.   

Don’t blessings flow when accepting God’s influence?

God seeks to influence us to do all the good we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as we can. Good things or blessings often happen when following God’s example.  Imagine all the friendships not destroyed by following God’s lead in not coveting, gossiping, being slow to anger, etc.  God’s blessing can flow to any nation, including the United States, when leaders and individuals allow God’s influence in their lives to help others. I suspect nations who believe in freedom as opposed to control by those in power benefit. Such qualities seem to be characteristic of the freedom God has bestowed upon us.

Did God Really Bless The United States Over Other Nations?

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