1/14/14

From Ben Fronczek... Freedom has a Price


Freedom has a Price

On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln made his way to a battlefield in Pennsylvania. He feared that he might be the last president of the United States. The country teetered on the brink of self-destruction. The ceremony that afternoon would dedicate the site of the cemetery for the over forty thousand soldiers who died at Gettysburg in the three-day battle the previous July. Lincoln’s remarks provided the seedbed for what would become Memorial Day.

He began his speech by saying, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”   Less than two minutes later, he concluded his speech by saying, “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here (referring to the sacrifice of the soldiers).

Memorial Day grew out of the human need to remember where we have been. It has been said that only then can we figure out where we are going. The cherished memories of a nation, a town, a church, people, or a family provide the values and dream that one generation passes on to the next. Forgetting means dropping the torch.

These memorials are not for those who have died, but rather for us, the living, less we forget those that gave their lives for and what they died for.  Most of those who gave their lives were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice because they wanted to ensure that their children and their children’s children would have the freedoms that they were willing to die for. They were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that we would be free to uphold the freedoms a value that they themselves hoped for.

I would like to read a portion of a letter, written by a soldier to his wife during World War II so that you can see what was going on in the mind of some of those who gave their lives for the freedoms that we now have. 

He writes;

New Guinea
July 21, 1943
 
My dearest sweet Cleo,
 
When you read this letter I will either be missing in action, killed or captured, and the last possibility is very remote because if I have any fight left in me, I will give my life to defend not only my country but the principles on which it was founded.

I want you and our child to be able to live in freedom, as you want, wherever you want, and to do what you want. I want the opportunity for our child to be able to grow up and be kind, gentle and Christian, not barbarian like those we are fighting.

I want our child to be able to go to school and to college to learn whatever profession he or she wants to learn. If a boy, I want him to grow up and be a better man than his Dad. I want him to marry if he chooses, a wife as kind and sweet as his mother. If a girl, I know she will be as fine a wife to some man as you have been to me.

You will wonder why I have written this. I wonder myself, but last night I lay thinking, what if I should be killed? Would Cleo know what my mind was thinking as to our future? I have no premonition of being killed and am trusting in the Lord to watch over me and keep me safe, but when He calls, I will be ready.

It is a nice feeling, darling, to know that whatever happens to me, I will meet you again someday, but in a home that will be far nicer than any we could ever have had here on earth. So don’t grieve, just think that I have gone away for a little while and I’ll see you again…..

…One other thing comes to mind. You are young and beautiful and no doubt will meet several nice fellows that will want to marry you. The way I look at it, we said we were married until death do us part. Well, when you get this, we will have temporarily parted, but that won’t prevent you from marrying again. In Heaven there is no marriage and no death, so we’ll all be together anyway. Therefore, if you meet a nice young man who is willing to take you and provide a home for you and our child and probably some of his own, then you have my blessing and God be with you. All I ask that you make sure he is a Christian, because if he is, he will be kind and gentle and loving to you.
I have tried to be a Christian. I have sinned, but praise God, I know that He will forgive me my sins because I believe in Christ Jesus as my own personal Savoir and He watches over me always, until He is ready to take me home to Glory.

Farewell, my darling, until we meet again,
 
George

Tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands have willing made the ultimate sacrifice as this soldier did through the ages.

We should not forget about the sacrifices that were made for you and me, and why those men and women were willing to make such as sacrifice; and that was to give us a chance have a good life and be free from oppression.

What I particularity like about this letter is the fact that this soldier was not a man without a future hope. Because of his faith in Christ he clearly recognized that we have a far better home awaiting us in Heaven because of the sacrifice Jesus made on that cross,

Each week we come here to honor and worship God, and remember the great sacrifice Jesus made for us. Jesus instituted what we now call the ‘Lords Supper’ as a memorial. I believe Christians were not only told by Jesus to partake of the emblems on the first day of the week to remember His personal sacrifice and what it cost for our freedom from sin,  in 1 Corinthians 11:26 Paul also wrote, “For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are representing and signifying and proclaiming the fact of the Lord’s death until He comes again.” (Amplified Bible)

Partaking of the Lord’s Supper memorial each week is not only for us to remember what He did for us, but also based on this verse partaking of these emblems in communion is a proclamation to the world that we believe that Jesus died for sin and that He is coming back!  Even though He died on that cross for us and was buried we know that He rose again giving us hope for a new life after we die.

Like the letter from soldier, Jesus also left us with a letter to let us know how much He loves us, and how He was willing to pay the ultimate price for our freedom from sin so that we experience life to the full, not only in the here and now, but also the eternal kingdom of God.

Someday He will return. That’s what the verse in 1 Cor. 11 and well as other verses in scripture say. But until that time He now reigns on high in the Kingdom of heaven, as the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. HE IS WORTHY of worship and praise as seen Revelation, chapter 5.  I would like to read to you what the Apostle John wrote concerning what he saw in Heaven concerning the awesome glory Jesus now receives. 

READ
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits[a] of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll     and to open its seals, because you were slain,     and with your blood you purchased for God     persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,     and they will reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,     to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength     and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb     be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

The Lord’s Supper which we are about to celebrate is a memorial, it is meant to Honor Jesus, to proclaim our loyalty and faith, and it is meant to give us hope because He is coming back what is to come, to bring us to a home in glory.

So my encouragement this day is simply this: Remember those who have died for us, and remember why they died. And honor them by living and enjoying the life and principles they died for. And put your hope in what is to come.

From Jim McGuiggan... The ethics of reconciliation

The ethics of reconciliation

Many evangelicals (and especially if they hold Reformed views) when they hear talk about the ethics of reconciliation get nervous because it seems to them that salvation by free grace should be completely severed from ethics. They would tell us that salvation is one thing and "sanctification" is another. The words are certainly distinct and we need to maintain the distinction but they are not to be severed one from another as if they can or do exist one without the other.

We're supposed to keep ethics and salvation completely severed because anyone who thinks his ethical/moral accomplishments contribute to the ransom price is wrong at a fundamentally important level. This is true--self-salvation in any shape or form or degree is contrary to the plain teaching of the scriptures. But maybe instead of severing ethics and salvation completely we ought to sever a particular way of viewing ethics from salvation. That's what the scriptures would do.

The Bible is unafraid to link obedience with salvation and life in Christ. It will say Christ became the author of salvation to those that obey (Hebrews 5:8) or it will say God gave the Holy Spirit to those who obeyed (Acts 5:32) or that obedience is unto righteousness (Romans 6:16). In a blunt pronouncement Paul says God will destroy those who will not obey the gospel (1Thessalonians 1:8-9). The apostle of grace threatens with eschatalogical wrath and indignation those who do not obey God's truth (Romans 2:8) and Christ makes it a condition of friendship with him that his disciples be willing to obey his commands (John 15:14). In another place he flatly declares that there's little point in people professing him to be their "Lord, Lord" when they won't do what his Father commands (Matthew 7:21). We could go on with this but there should be no need. Obedience is firmly linked to life with God and life with God is only found in relationship with him through Jesus Christ.

There are those who talk too much about obedience and not nearly enough about God's free and abundant grace but down-playing the place of holy obedience is not the cure for such an error. In fact, in some ways, it's the ceaseless harping on the freeness of salvation that provokes unwise people to talk too much about obedience. It's unbridled speech like, "Obedience has nothing to do with being saved," that encourages some to speak as if obedience had everything to do with being saved. After all, there are lots of scriptures that look suspiciously like they connect being obedient with being saved.

My own reading of the situation is that as sinners we underestimate our desperate state before God because of our sins. So many of us, "decent sort of people," are sure that Christ is the Saviour but we so tend to think that our decency contributes to the ransom price. Or at least it shows that God is a shrewd judge of character when he saved us rather than some other degenerate. I suppose this Pelagian tendency will be with us until the end. There's the other end of the spectrum where people are so anxious for God's grace to be magnified that they can't bear to hear someone say, "What must I do to be saved?" without going into a tirade against legalism and self-salvation. Such a question never seemed to bother Christ or Peter or Paul (see Acts 2:37-38; 16:30-31; 22:10,16). And since we hear so much about Jewish legalism you would have thought that it would have been appropriate to preach a sermon that could have begun with, "Ah, well, that's your first mistake because there's nothing you can do to be saved." In fact it was a Jewish law-teacher that asked Jesus what he had to "do" to gain eternal life and instead of rebuking him for legalism Jesus urged him to do what the torah said (Luke 10:25-28, 37).

For sinners, reconciliation with God is reconciliation with a holy Father. Reconciliation involves a relationship and that relationship requires a realignment of the heart and life with the holy Father. It's all accomplished in and through Jesus Christ and received by faith but it is a relationship with an ethical structure and demand. Reconciliation is not just a gift or a status--it's a restored relationship, a holy relationship that has holy fruit and consequences. Where the nature of the relationship is defied and denied there is no relationship and no reconciliation with God.

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com.

From Mark Copeland... The Christian's Jihad (1 Timothy 6:12)

                     "THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"

                      The Christian's Jihad (6:12)

INTRODUCTION

1. A well-known term in the religion of Islam is jihad; sometimes
   translated "holy war", it literally means "struggle"...
   a. On a personal level - inner struggle against evil within oneself
   b. On a social level - struggle for decency and goodness
   c. On a military level - struggle on the battlefield, if and when
      necessary

2. Christians are followers of the Prince of Peace...
   a. The kingdom is spiritual, and not expanded through carnal means
      - cf. Jn 18:36
   b. Our Savior taught us:  "...for all who take the sword will perish
      by the sword." - Mt 26:52

3. This is not to say we do not have a true struggle, our own jihad...
   a. We are to "fight (lit., struggle) the good fight of faith" - 1 Ti 6:12
   b. We are to "lay hold (lit., seize) on eternal life" - 1Ti 6:12

[Thus we are to battle and conquer.  What is involved in "The
Christian's Jihad"...?]

I. WE MUST FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH

   A. FIGHTING FOR THE FAITH...
      1. We must contend for the faith
         a. That is, the doctrine in which we believe - Jude 3-4 cf. Ph
            1:27
         b. A doctrine that has been delivered once for all - cf. Ga 1:
            8-9; 2Pe 1:3
         c. For false teachers have come - cf. 2Pe 2:1-3
      2. We must fight with the proper weapons
         a. Not carnal weapons, but mighty in God nonetheless - 2Co 10:
            3-4
         b. With gentleness, patience, humility, correcting those in the
            wrong - 2Ti 2:24-26
      -- With the meekness and gentleness of Christ, we are to "cast
         down arguments" and bring "every thought into captivity to the
         obedience of Christ" - 2Co 10:1-5

   B. FIGHTING FOR OUR FAITH...
      1. We must contend for our faith
         a. That is, our personal trust and conviction - e.g., 1Ti 4:12
         b. That which we must pursue in our spiritual development
            - 1Ti 6:11; cf. 1Pe 2:11
         c. For it is possible to develop an evil heart of unbelief - He  3:12
      2. Weapons to use in this struggle
         a. Frequent exhortation - He 3:13; cf. He 10:24-25
         b. The Word of God - Ro 10:17; Jn 20:30-31
      -- We must put on the whole armor of God in our struggle - Ep 6:
         10-17

[What is the ultimate goal of "The Christian's Jihad"?  In the words of
our text...]

II. WE MUST LAY HOLD OF ETERNAL LIFE

   A. LAYING HOLD OF THE FUTURE HOPE...
      1. Paul likely has reference to that which is yet to be realized
         a. That which is promised by God - Tit 1:2
         b. That which is our inheritance - Tit 3:7
         c. That which will be received at the Judgment - Mt 25:46
      2. To lay hold (seize) this hope, there are things we must do
         a. Be set free from sin, become slaves to God, produce holiness
            - Ro 6:22-23
         b. Do good, be willing to share - 1Ti 6:17-19
      -- Are we patiently doing good, seeking glory, honor and
         immortality? - cf. Ro 2:7  

   B. LAYING HOLD OF THE PRESENT POSSESSION... 
      1. John uses the phrase "eternal life" as a blessing enjoyed in
         this life
         a. God has given us eternal life, it is life in His Son - 1Jn 5:11-12
         b. John writes that we might know we have this life - 1Jn 5:13
         c. This life involves a knowledge of the Father and the Son
            - Jn 17:2-3; 1Jn 5:20
      2. To lay hold (seize) this abundant life (Jn 10:10), there are
         things we must do
         a. Walk in the light - 1Jn 1:5-7
         b. Keep the commandments of the Lord - 1Jn 2:3-6
         c. Love the brethren - 1Jn 3:14-15
         d. Abide in the doctrine of Christ, that you might enjoy
            fellowship with both the Father and the Son- 2Jn 9
      -- Are we sacrificing self for Christ's sake, that we might enjoy
         blessings in this life and the one to come? - cf. Mk 10:28-30

CONCLUSION

1. Note what Paul wrote about his "struggle" as he came to the end of
   his life... - 2Ti 4:7
   a. "I have fought the good fight"
   b. "I have kept the faith"

2. Note also what he looked forward to receiving on the Judgment Day
   - 2Ti 4:8
   a. The crown of righteousness
   b. Given to him by the Lord, the righteous Judge

If we desire to receive the same, then let us heed his admonition given
to Timothy:

   "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which
   you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the
   presence of many witnesses." - 1Ti 6:12

Have you made the good confession (Ro 10:9-10)?  Have you been clothed
with Christ in baptism (Ga 3:27)?

Are you engaged in "The Christian's Jihad"...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011


From Gary... Bible Reading January 14


Bible Reading   

January 14

The World English Bible


Jan. 14
Genesis 14

Gen 14:1 It happened in the days of Amraphel, king of Shinar, Arioch, king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and Tidal, king of Goiim,
Gen 14:2 that they made war with Bera, king of Sodom, and with Birsha, king of Gomorrah, Shinab, king of Admah, and Shemeber, king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar).
Gen 14:3 All these joined together in the valley of Siddim (the same is the Salt Sea).
Gen 14:4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year, they rebelled.
Gen 14:5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer came, and the kings who were with him, and struck the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim,
Gen 14:6 and the Horites in their Mount Seir, to Elparan, which is by the wilderness.
Gen 14:7 They returned, and came to En Mishpat (the same is Kadesh), and struck all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that lived in Hazazon Tamar.
Gen 14:8 The king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar) went out; and they set the battle in array against them in the valley of Siddim;
Gen 14:9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings against the five.
Gen 14:10 Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell there, and those who remained fled to the hills.
Gen 14:11 They took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their food, and went their way.
Gen 14:12 They took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
Gen 14:13 One who had escaped came and told Abram, the Hebrew. Now he lived by the oaks of Mamre, the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner; and these were allies of Abram.
Gen 14:14 When Abram heard that his relative was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan.
Gen 14:15 He divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and struck them, and pursued them to Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
Gen 14:16 He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative, Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
Gen 14:17 The king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley).
Gen 14:18 Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High.
Gen 14:19 He blessed him, and said, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth:
Gen 14:20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand." Abram gave him a tenth of all.
Gen 14:21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people, and take the goods to yourself."
Gen 14:22 Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have lifted up my hand to Yahweh, God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth,
Gen 14:23 that I will not take a thread nor a sandal strap nor anything that is yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich.'
Gen 14:24 I will accept nothing from you except that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. Let them take their portion."


From Gary... Thought and Speech


Confession time: Controlling what comes out of my mouth has always been a problem for me.  After decades of effort, sometimes I still speak before I think and if that is true of me, then it probably is of others as well.  With that in mind, here are a couple of passages from the book of James for me to ponder this rainy day in Florida....

James, Chapter 1
  19  So, then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man doesn’t produce the righteousness of God.  21 Therefore, putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with humility the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  22 But be doers of the word, and not only hearers, deluding your own selves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his natural face in a mirror;  24 for he sees himself, and goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of freedom, and continues, not being a hearer who forgets, but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does.

James, Chapter 3
  1 Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment. 2 For in many things we all stumble. If anyone doesn’t stumble in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also.  3 Indeed, we put bits into the horses’ mouths so that they may obey us, and we guide their whole body.  4 Behold, the ships also, though they are so big and are driven by fierce winds, are yet guided by a very small rudder, wherever the pilot desires.  5 So the tongue is also a little member, and boasts great things. See how a small fire can spread to a large forest!  6 And the tongue is a fire. The world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire by Gehenna.  7 For every kind of animal, bird, creeping thing, and thing in the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by mankind.  8 But nobody can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the image of God.  10 Out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  11 Does a spring send out from the same opening fresh and bitter water?  12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, yield olives, or a vine figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh water.

Like I said above, this post is for ME, but probably has application to many others as well!!!  Just think about it, OK?  Gary, this means YOU!!!