Friday, January 19, 2018

Human Worth

Human Worth
I Corinthians 7:23 
You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.

In the beginning lines of the book, “The Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, he writes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”. Life in France was hard for the third class people, the peasants and therefore becomes a springboard to the revolt. The upper class, the nobility took advantage of the lower class people believing their only worth was as a means of acquiring more money through taxation. The aristocracy (a group regarded as privileged or superior in a particular sphere) were extravagant, wasteful, and excessive. This left the lower class people of France to virtually starve, beg or rebel.

The French Revolution then erupts with full force in July 1789. The storming of the Bastille was not to free any prisoners but to get ammunition and arms. This fortress was traditionally used by French kings to imprison subjects that didn’t agree with them politically. The Bastille was, therefore, a representation of the oppressive nature of the monarchy. This event was the start of the French Revolution and the eventual fall of the French monarchy.

The measure of human worth, this must have meant something to our Lord. He left the magnificence, grandeur, and riches of His eternal home to come to this sin-cursed earth. He suffered an excruciatingly painful death, defeated death, then rose from the grave on the third day. He ascended back into the splendor, majesty, and glories of heaven and now sits on the right-hand throne of God. We were bought with an indescribable price, Christ’s precious blood a price too unusual or extreme that it may adequately be described. 

Lord, thank You for the ultimate sacrifice, Your life for mine.

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Historical and a Biblical Guarantee

A Historical and a Biblical Guarantee
In the beginning days of becoming an independent nation, the 13 Colonies were determined to break the bonds of England’s insistent control. During the time of the American Revolution, Pierre Eugene du Simitiere was responsible for developing the design for the Great Seal along with our nation’s motto. The motto was written in Latin and read,  E Pluribus Unum meaning: “Out of many, one,”  “One out of many” or One from many.”  The Latin term Annuit coeptis reads, “He approves the undertaking” and Novus order seclorum is interpreted, “New order of the ages.” This was adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782. 

The saying, E Pluribus Unum was our countries’ first motto and stayed our first motto until 1956 when Congress passed an act adopting “In God We Trust” as our official motto. The words, E Pluribus Unum are written on the Great Seal of the United States and is still used today in our present-day currency and the Great Seal as a national emblem. It appears on official documents such as passports, the seal of the President, Vice President, Congress, House of Representatives, and the seal of the Untied States Supreme Court. 

A seal is a guarantee, a formal promise or assurance (generally written words) that certain conditions will be fulfilled. The greatest seal of all and of the utmost importance is the seal Christ has placed upon us. 2 Corinthians 1:22 says, “who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” There is one significant promise or guarantee Christ has given to us and that is He has promised to save us and give us eternal life. When we by faith, believe or put our trust in Him, He miraculously cleanses us from all sin, adopts us into His family and gives us everlasting life. Sola fide ("by faith alone”),  Sola gratia (“by grace alone”) through Solus Christus (“through Christ alone”) are important Latin words which deem us free and biblically guarantee liberty.

Lord,  my faith is in You.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Will I Hear?

Will I Hear?

 Psalm 85:8 
I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints:

The Lord is encouraging us to listen to His Word and His heart when He says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

The soul that hears the Lord and receives the words of comfort from His lips is truly blessed. The divine whispers of God cannot be compared to the complaints, protests, and grievances of this sinful world. When our ears listen to the voice of God and dismiss the voices from without, we are more inclined to hear what truth teaches. To have our eyes closed to exterior things and matters of this world and have our eyes fixed upon Christ, brings true contentment, rest and peace. 

The Lord gives understanding to the hearer and His Words are strength and life to those that listen. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6). We are to write the Words of God on our heart (Proverbs 3:3) and meditate (Psalms 63:6) on them earnestly for temptation will come and we will need strength to overcome. We are to walk before the Lord in truth that we may be defended against the attacks of evil.

Are you listening and attentive to the truth of the Word of God? Is there a longing for knowledge and wisdom to live your life on His behalf?  In the still of the night, does He hear your prayer or do the clamorous voices of this world drown out His sweet voice?

Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee (Psalm 143:8).

Lord, I want to hear Your Word and heed what it is saying.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Forgive Them

 Forgive Them
Luke 23:34
. . . Father, forgive them . . .

On December 7, 1941, Mitsuo Fuchida of the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force led a mission of surprise to destroy the United States’ Pacific Fleet on the islands of Hawaii. Mitsuo Fuchida, with 179 fighter planes behind him cried, “Tora, Tora, Tora!” as they attacked the mighty fleet of American ships. In less than two hours, over 3,077 American Navy personnel lost their lives or were missing and 150 planes were destroyed.

Mitsuo Fuchida would live through two narrow escapes. An emergency appendectomy put him in the ship’s hospital where he was ordered to stay. Disobeying this order, Mitsuo walked out of the ship’s hospital to the top deck. The Battle of Midway was unfolding before his very eyes. Within seconds, the enemy planes blew a hole in the hospital side of the ship. All were lost. On August 5, 1945, Mitsuo left the city of Hiroshima for a military conference. Several hours after his departure, America dropped the atomic bomb on this city. Mitsuo was devastated and bitterness filled his heart.

After the war, Mitsuo was handed a tract that read, “I Was a Prisoner of Japan.” The pamphlet was written about a man named Jake DeShazer, who in revenge for what had happened at Pearl Harbor, participated in an attack on the city of Tokyo. He was captured in battle, put into a prisoner of war camp and brutally mistreated. He began to hate everything and everyone Japanese. While in captivity, he was given a Bible. As he read the Bible he realized that Jesus Christ was his only hope. Jake DeShazer had gone from hating the Japanese to become a missionary in Japan. 

Mitsuo, now filled with hatred for America would experience God’s amazing Grace. He was given a Bible and soon would trust in Christ. Through the providence of God, Jake Deshazer and Mitsuo Fushida would meet. They lovingly forgave one another, as God in Christ had forgiven them and became friends (Ephesians 4:32). Only God can mend the heart of man and create in him the joy and peace of forgiveness.

Lord, forgive me as I forgive them.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Is There a Dark Side to Christmas?

Is There a Dark Side to Christmas?
Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2

Most people, when they think of this time of year, only think of the beauty of Christmas. They are surrounded by the lovely trees with bright lights, decorations, colorful ornaments, flickering candles, wreaths, snow scenes, warm fire places and a heart filled with joy. Some are dreaming of a “White Christmas” and others sing the songs that convey the feelings of joy and wonder. Christmas is the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” but we must look at Christmas and it’s true meaning: “. . . He shall save His people from their sin” (Matthew 1:21). The true splendor of Christmas is to understand the ugliness that it cures (I John 4:14; I Timothy 1:15). 

Remember the night Jesus was born, can you picture the stable, the smells, the sounds coming from the animals? Picture Joseph clearing a small place in the hay to lay poor Mary down to give birth to the Christ Child. What a humble site and yet, chosen by God as Jesus’ birth place. The sky explodes with amazement as the angels sing of His birth. Humble shepherds hear the angels’ voices proclaiming this marvelous prophecy. They must go and see this new born King the angels are declaring. Recall King Herod, a horrible man, who feared he would lose his power and control because of this new born King. He made a decree to massacre all the baby boys 2 years and younger in that region. Christmas does have some dark aspects that are not thought about during this time of the year but they are still there.

The Bible says Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and is the true reason for His coming. Sin is the dark side of Christmas and brings us to the actual point of its real beauty. The magnificence and glory of Christmas is Christ’s willingness to come to earth and die on cross for our sins. This truth, the power of the Gospel is what makes Christmas so alluring.

Lord, thank You for Christmas.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Born a King

Born a King
Luke 1:26-33
We sing the wondrous songs of Christmas and declare that the baby born in a manger has come to be the King of Kings. The song "Joy to the World"  says, "The Lord is come, let earth receive her King." The wise men asked, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?"  This question emphasizes the great reality of the birth of Christ, that He is in fact born a King. In the book of Revelation John says, “...for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings:” (Revelation 17:14). He is the greatest, the most supreme of all kings.
Matthew gives an account of Christ’s lineage through His father, Joseph. Luke gives us His lineage through His mother, Mary. Mary was a descendant of King David and came through David's son Nathan who never reigned, but nonetheless was of royal blood. It is through Mary that Jesus is the real son of David. Christ was born of a virgin meaning, Joseph had no part in His conception. God’s seed was planted by the Holy Spirit of God in the womb of Mary. It was essential that she also be out of the line of David or He would have carried no royal blood. Joseph's line is the legal right to the throne which always comes through the father. Jesus received His royal blood from Mary and the legal right to the throne from Joseph. When people referred to Jesus as the Son of David, they meant that He was the long-awaited Messiah, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.
Every detail has been worked out for the world to see that Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His birth was supernatural and his lineage amazing. As the excitement of Christmas approaches, may we be amazed at His magnificent birth and reminded of the honor and glory fitting His name. Christmas is to be commemorated with great exuberance and rejoicing that Christ,  the “New Born King,” has come.

Lord, You are my King and Savior forever, Amen!

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Reflection of Christmas Past

A Reflection of Christmas Past
Romans 15:1-4

Far to the north in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reflected on the days of Christmas past. The tragic death of his wife, Fanny, in the summer of 1861 brought grievous memories. Fanny dropped a match on her summer dress and it burst into flames. Henry tried to extinguish the flames with a small rug but failed causing him to sustain serious burns on his face, arms, and hands.

The coming of the holiday season in the Longfellow house became a time of sorrow. He tried to provide a happy time for the children left at home but was quoted as saying, “A ‘merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.” His oldest son, Charlie, joined the Union Army during the Civil War against his father’s wishes. Charley later came down with typhoid fever and malaria and was sent home to recover. He did not rejoin his unit until after the Gettysburg battle of 1863. 

At the Battle of New Hope Church, the young Lt. Longfellow sustained serious disabling injuries. The following spring, Longfellow’s lifelong friend Nathaniel Hawthorne passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. These had been difficult times for the poet; but sometimes it is only through our adversity that hope makes itself known to us. 

The Civil War brought wounds to the heart and minds of the American people and they were in need of hope through their long journey to recovery. In Longfellow’s plight for peace and joy, he penned these words that touched the spirit and soul of a war torn nation.

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, 
With Peace on earth, good will to men.”

Perhaps you have struggled in times of deep despair, remember the words Longfellow composed, “God is not dead, nor does He sleep.” Trusting God with all things will give you the hope you so long for and the peace you desire (Romans 15:13).

Lord, may I abound in Your hope.