Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for living and dying for a greater cause. Thank you for the freedom you have won and upheld for me. Today I honor you.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 ESV
For me, and my family, Memorial Day is about remembering and honoring great sacrifice. It is a sacred day. For soldiers all over the world who have paid the ultimate price, we are more than grateful.
Today we also pay homage to all our brothers and sisters who have gone before us and who still lay their lives down for the great faith in Christ Jesus.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 ESV
Most of all, we reflect on the greatest sacrifice that won us the greatest freedom. We honor our Savior who’s love lead Him to a cross. May His sacrifice change us. May we learn what it means to love others more than ourselves. After all, the value of our lives is determine by the means in which we spend it, Lord help us to not waste our lives on selfish ambition but give it away out of love for our neighbors.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 ESV
Seasons change and we’re not always ready for it. But the fact that they change is inevitable. Daughters become little girls overnight. The journey from the hospital room to your little boy’s one year birthday party seems like a flash. People come and go in our lives. Loss happens in an instant. Relationships change and evolve. Pandemics can sweep the world. It’s best to not fight change but to expect it. The only constant in life is the One Who originated life. He is who we cling to in the hard seasons of change. He is who we cling to in the celebrations of life.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 ESV
Let Jesus be your constant in the ever changing seasons of life. Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.
“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11-12 ESV
Being around other believers is irreplaceable. We need each other to get through tragedies, bear the weights of life, and move towards Jesus and a more consistent manner. And it’s good to stop and reflect on our own personal impact on others in the faith. I we someone who refreshes and encourages? Our effect on others is not a sub issue of faith, it’s paramount. Our faith is never meant to be kept to ourselves. As part of God’s family, we are a transport of spiritual nutrition to those around us. Jesus compared us to a well overflowing with living water. Never should we be guilty of draining life from one’s heart because we are connected to the author of life Himself. To be refreshing to others, we too must be refreshed in Jesus and through His people.
It’s easy to look to the things we see or the people we know to be our source of assurance. People are created to have hope. We cling to whatever we can in desperate moments. We seek all our lives to find the things that bring us comfort and confidence in our present circumstances. Be it a person, a place, a thing, a status, a relationship, or even an accomplishment, everyone hopes in something or someone.
There’s always needs arising for people to find hope. At any given moment in history there have been wars, famines, pandemics, economic turmoil, slavery, and the threat of evil ideologies and the effects they have on human life. They may not always look exactly the same but our world is always in need of hope.
God’s people are supposed to be known for finding their hope in one source alone-God. The Bible is full of stories where that did not happen. Look at any believers life and you will see moments when that did not happen. None of us are immune from the plagues of self-reliance and materialism. In my reading this morning I came across one such story. It’s in the book of Ezekiel where the prophet is rebuking the nation for trusting in Egypt rather than God for their security. In chapter 29, God promises to bring down Israel’s neighboring powerhouse so that they will no longer have them as a weak crutch to lean on.
“Egypt will no longer be a source of confidence for the people of Israel but will be a reminder of their sin in turning to her for help. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.’ ”” Ezekiel 29:16 NIV
God takes seriously His people’s tendency to misplace their trust and hope. Jesus rebuked those who trusted in anything other than God…like those who trust in money (Matthew 6:19-21), in religious heritage (Matthew 3:9), or in their religious ‘goodness’ (Mark 13:1-2). Confidence in anyone or anything other than God’s goodness and faithfulness is an issue of misplaced loyalties. Like the Israelites of old, we have to safeguard our hearts from wandering the path of false security.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1 NIV
Have you ever pondered the question of whether or not God was for you? What does that exactly mean? Are we asking if God is in support of what we want or how we would like our lives to turn out? How about during strife with someone else? Do we wonder if God would take our side in the ordeal? Maybe He’s for our career pursuits? In times of war, is He for our nation’s cause or the other?
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 NIV
I think its very important to understand the context of this passage in Romans. I hear or read people quote it often and quite a lot it seems to be thrown around pretty loosely to apply to almost anything. Yes, God is for us. But what does that mean? If you read the entirety of chapter 8 (enlight of all of the Book of Romans) we are being told that God is our spiritual transformation and our eternal destination. Those are the two things God wants more than anything for every person in His creation. No matter how much we run away, God wants us back. No matter how much we bring shame to His name or ridicule His holiness with our lives, He wants us back. God is for us in the best possible way. God is always faithful and God is always true. Instead of wondering if God is for us, we should focus on whether or not we are for Him.
This Wednesday marked the beginning of an 8-day celebration of God’s salvation. The celebration’s first day is called Passover. It is the day that honors two incredible events in which our God rescued His creation. The first came thousands of years ago when God brought Israel out of Egypt after bringing the world’s mightiest empire to its knees. It came after a series of plagues designed to deface the gods of Egypt and show God’s glory. The second event came about 2000 years ago in the person of Jesus. This was the greater Passover. The target was not Egypt, it was sin and death. It wasn’t meant to free us from just a temporal slavery, but a spiritual and eternal one. It didn’t defeat the gods of an empire but the Prince of evil himself…satan. Both required blood…the blood of a lamb…but the one was far more precious. A couple days later, many around the world come together for what is referred to as Good Friday. It honors the sacrifice and death of Jesus of Nazareth…both man and divine…God in the flesh. Passover is the event on which Good Friday’s sacrifice took place. Because Jesus is the Passover Lamb of God.
The following are parallels between the lamb in the Feast of Passover as described in Exodus chapter 12 and the ultimate Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. It’s great evidence that the Passover in Egypt was meant to prepare the world for the coming Messiah. Enjoy the study!
I have noticed two very contrasting views of the current pandemic. Some speak out in an apathetic tone almost in a way to scoff at the coronavirus. I’ve heard claims from people about COVID19 not being a big deal or that its a media-driven hysteria that’s not really worth worrying about. These are those who refuse to take precautions and who may even make fun of or ridicule those who do. On the other end, there are those who are in a sheer panic. They’ve stocked up and barricaded themselves. They are the ones emptying the shelves of the grocery stores and feeding the worldwide anxiety. Both extremes shield themselves from reality. and for followers of Jesus, we shouldn’t find ourselves in either one of these camps.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17 NIV
Ignorance is never a beneficial approach to…well…anything. People who downplay the significance of this pandemic are simply promoting a lack of respect and compassion for those whose lives have been shattered and the wreckage it has left behind in their families. More than likely, their own convenience is driving much of their attitude. No doubt, many have been forced to make huge sacrifices. This is difficult on so many levels. For Christians, our hearts should be turned towards prayer for the hurting and action to do what we can to help those in need. The last thing Christians should ever be doing is complaining and downplaying while so many have been devastated. The coronavirus IS a BIG deal. Let’s promote mercy and be considerate of others. That’s wisdom from above.
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
Fear cripples people. It’s so hard to watch somewhat riddled with worry. It consumes their thoughts. They believe that the worst is not only probable but imperative. For a Christian to be paralyzed by fear is contrary to the very Spirit within us. Whether it’s through heavenly wisdom or heavenly power, the believer is driven by compassion and love and the pursuit of peace. Fear prevents people from those things. And so does ignorance. In this time of hardship that’s ravishing the world, let’s not be part of the problem by being ignorant of fearful. Let’s be lovers of peace and truth. Let’s hold fast to the anchor of our faith…Jesus…and share Him with the world. In the darkest of times, the light of Jesus’ followers should shine brightest.