Monday, 26 May 2014 16:04:00
We all know that freedom isn’t free. Thinking of all the brave men and women who have given their lives so we might enjoy ours. We honor them by remembering the day.
And to the family and friends who survive them, thank you, also, for your sacrifice and courage.
Until next week,
Monday, 18 June 2012 16:01:00
Several weeks ago the subject of slavery in the Bible came up in a conversation along with the inference that instead of being condemned outright by God it was treated too lightly. The conversation made me want to look into the subject more closely, and here are my conclusions.
First, I suspect that what Jesus said about divorce in Matthew 19:8 could also be said about slavery: “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” In other words, slavery, too, is a product of the hardness of our hearts and not the will of God, nor did He intend this for mankind in the beginning.
And secondly, because slavery has existed from ancient times, God chose in His word to use it as an illustration of man’s condition. In John 8:34 (Amplified) Jesus says that “whoever commits and practices sin is the slave of sin.” But then two verses later He goes on to say, “So if the Son liberates you, makes you free men, then you are really and unquestionably free.”
Roman 6:16-20 confirms this by telling us pretty much the same thing; that we become slaves to whatever we yield ourselves to. If it’s to sin, then we become slaves to sin. Conversely, if it’s to Jesus, he frees us from the bondage to sin but then we become slaves to righteousness. So whether we want to admit it or not, we are all slaves.
Perhaps you find it offensive that Jesus has the right to call believers “slaves”. Even so, He does, for He purchased us with a great price—His very blood. But does He call us slaves? No. Instead, He calls us “friend”. In John 15:14-15a He says, “Ye are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants (slaves).” But it gets even better. Galatians 4:7 tells us that we are no longer slaves of sin but a son “and if a son then an heir of God through Christ.”
Friend, son, heir. What a far cry from slave! Unfortunately, there are still too many who are slaves of sin and to this world. If only they would leave their captivity for the wonderful world of freedom God offers! If only they understood how much He loved them! Oh, pray that their hearts and minds be opened!
Until next time,
Monday, 04 July 2011 11:09:00
America is a great nation. I think it’s the greatest in the world. By blood, sacrifice, and perseverance it gained and sustained its freedom. By innovation, hard work, and ingenuity it gained and sustained its greatness. And its people are among the friendliest and most generous in the world.
Oh, there is so much to be grateful for here in America, even in these hard times! And as we celebrate our Independence Day, let us remember all those who have sacrificed so much and continue to sacrifice to keep our nation secure. And let us remember the Creator Who gave us the inalienable rights we cherish: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
Over and over again, despots throughout the ages have tried to stamp out personal freedom and liberty. And yet they won’t yield. “The greatest gift that God in His bounty made in creation, and the most conformable to His goodness, and that which He prizes the most, was the freedom of the will, with which the creatures with intelligence, they all and they alone, were and are endowed. (Dante Alighieri, The Devine Comedy)" May we not take it and our God for granted.
Happy 4th of July! And God bless America!
Until next week,
Monday, 05 July 2010 14:47:00
Yesterday, across America, people celebrated Independence Day. In essence it was the celebration of freedom. And oh, what a great thing that is! And what a great country we live in! Though in some ways I see our freedoms eroding, I believe we still live in a land where we are free to dream and then make those dreams come true; where we are equal in the eyes of the law regardless of our race or social position; where we are free to practice the religion of our choice. But it all came with a price. And someone else had to pay it. It wasn’t free at all. People died, blood was shed, families were separated, and hardships endured, and on July 4th our nation remembers that.
But there’s another freedom, even more precious, that also was paid by blood and separation and hardship. It’s the freedom from sin and death that Jesus purchased for us at the cross. And oh, how costly that freedom was! But how willingly Jesus paid it! Those of us who are called by His name know the freedom of which I speak. It is the freedom that a clear conscience brings after knowing you are forgiven from every wretched thing you’ve ever done; the freedom from fear of the future, for our future is in His hands; the freedom that comes in knowing that our eternal destiny is sealed.
I love my country and value it greatly. But our life on this planet is so brief—a passing vapor the Bible calls it—so the freedom we should seek, the freedom we should prize about all others is that which is found in Christ, for it is the freedom we will enjoy throughout eternity.
I hope you all had a happy 4th! God bless America!
Until next week,
Monday, 04 January 2010 10:53:00
Volumes could be written about the nature of God and still not cover the whole of it. But for the next several weeks I’d like to touch on at least a few of the descriptions of God, and I’d like to start with the one most known. The Bible says that “God is love.” But what does that mean, exactly? What does His love look like?
Growing up, I went to church on Sunday. I even had “religious instruction”. But my faith was shallow and not well grounded. I never read the Bible. What I knew of God’s Word came from snippets of the Gospels or Epistles read from the pulpit, and from movies like The Ten Commandments and The Greatest Story Every Told.
When I began reading the Bible for myself, I came face to face with some pretty raw facts that didn’t line up with my preconceived ideas. For one, the Bible says, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22) Now there’s a shock! What did that do to my theory of just trying to be a “good person”? A theory that worked better for me especially since I thought I was pretty good. After all, I went to church, hadn’t killed anyone or robbed a bank.
The next shock came when I read that, in God’s opinion, no one on the face of the earth was good (Matthew 19:17/Psalm 53:3). Wow! Now I was really in trouble. How was I going to earn my way into God’s heart and into His heaven? Well . . . perhaps by doing “good deeds.” I thought it sounded reasonable enough until I read that all my good works were like “filthy rags” to God (Isaiah 64:6). Now this was getting depressing.
Finally, God took pity on me and helped me connect the dots. Jesus already shed His blood and satisfied the blood criterion. The only thing I needed to do was accept what He had already done and apply it to my life, my sins, my inadequacies. Oh, how simple! And oh, what freedom! God had done it all. His love paid the price, satisfied His justice. It was like a rich benefactor—someone I, a poverty-stricken debtor, had disappointed, abused, insulted with my acts, and many times discounted—had put a large deposit into my bank account and said, “Here, live life on me. I have paid your debts, and will supply all your future needs. All you need do is draw on my deposit.”
What does God’s love look like? It’s a love that has given everything without the promise of getting anything in return. It’s a love that sees the vilest part of us and still wants us, still yearns for us, still pursues us, still wants to call us by name, still wants to make us His own. It’s a love that though we spurn it, spit on it, mock it, will never stop trying to win us while at the same time never violate our free will. It’s a love that my mind can barely comprehend.
Until next week,