A Time to Remember

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Jesus Christ 

2,976

That's the number of innocent victims that died from the infamous attacks on September 11, 2001. It was a day that turned America (and the rest of the world) upside down, and a day that we are still suffering the consequences of. Since then over 6,000 U.S. troops have died, fighting a war that began that day. Well over 35,000 soldiers have been injured in this war. Thousands of allies, our dear friends, have also been killed or wounded. We need to pause occasionally, and take time to remember the cost of freedom.

I wonder if it has been worth it, to the terrorists who have been involved in their hateful pursuits since that day? I've watched with disdain the reporters who suggest that these war criminals are somehow "freedom fighters". They are not interested in freedom - they are interested in subjugation. They are interested in conquest. They are interested creating as much fear and disruption to the world as possible. Many to this day still do not realize that one of bin Laden's main goals was to destroy the U.S. by destroying her economy. Unfortunately, we would have to admit that he has succeeded to a certain degree on this goal.

However... if his goal was to dishearten men and women of faith, he failed miserably. Thousands of heroes have served since that fateful day. Millions more have supported these heroes - and are continuing to pray for their success. It's true that these terrorists have won many battles, but they can never win the war - in their belief of that possibility, they are quite deceived. The reason for this is that this life is not about hatred and cowardice and murder: It is about love and courage and life. Christians realize this and, while they must rise to the attacks of evil men from time to time, true Christians never forget what they are here for.

We are here to serve... we are here to love our fellow man - even to the point of praying for our enemies... and we are here to go to Heaven. We need to take the time to remember this, as well. And... we need to remember the cost of our eternal freedom above all else. We owe a lot, do we not?

And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again. II Cor. 5:15, NIV

 

A Servant's Heart

The worth of a man cannot be measured by what he has, rather, it  can only be measured by what he does.

   Anonymous

I just returned from our annual teen trip to the Rocky Mountains.  Our youth group takes one evening each week during the summer to mow the lawns  and take care of various needs for the widows at church. While these sweet  ladies often offer to pay the kids for their efforts, each offer is politely  turned down for we are trying to teach our young people something about  service. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it is our young people  who are teaching us something about the heart of a servant.

Anyway… we just got back from our trip. We got up early in the  morning, played hard all day and went to bed way too late at night. Prior to  bed, we all sat around the campfire and enjoyed a devotional. We would have a  prayer, sing a couple of songs and then read a verse or two from the Bible.  Then we would go around the fire and each one would talk about the things that  were important to them.

Have you ever just sat and listened to an ordinary group of teens  talk about God and their duty as His servants? If you have then you know that  our young men and women are far from ordinary - they are extraordinary. Most  really do, with all their hearts, want to serve God.

After this year’s trip, one of these extraordinary young people  decided that it was time to become a Christian. So, he professed his belief  that Jesus was Lord and he was baptized for the forgiveness of his sins. And he  is saved today - not because of his service or even because he is somehow good  enough to be saved. He is saved by the grace of God and by the shed blood of  Christ. He is also saved because he did his part and now, he is ready for a  lifetime of service to the Lord.

It’s been a pretty good week. How has your week been going? If it  has not been going as well as you would like then maybe it is time for you to  regain the heart of a servant.

Serve wholeheartedly, as if serving the Lord, not men, because you  know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does.

Ephesians  6:7-8, NIV

 

 

Are You In Debt?

The servant fell on his knees before him, "Be patient with me," he begged, "and I will pay back everything." The servant's master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. Matthew 18:26-27, NIV

I like this parable. It's of a man who had gotten into so much debt that there was simply no way it could be repaid. We are told that the man owed 10,000 talents. Estimates for the value of a talent range between 3,000 and 10,000 day's wages, so this man owed the equivalent of 30 million to 100 million days of hard labor. Since this would take thousands of lifetimes to repay, it was literally a debt that was impossible to repay - yet, the master forgave him and let him go.

This lesson shows us just how massive of a debt we owe to God for our sins - it's too big to be repaid. But instead of sending each one of us to the Hell that our sins have earned, He cancels the debt for all who would accept His forgiveness on His terms. He did so by allowing His one and only Son to pay the debt for us. Since that is the case, shouldn't we be grateful? I believe that we would all insist that we are, until we consider how we treat others who have sinned against us.

Maybe their sin was just a petty injustice, or maybe it was a "great big" sin that caused us untold pain and embarrassment. But, whatever the case, we simply did not forgive them. How do you think God views such a lack of mercy? We don't have to wonder, for we are told the rest of the story in the parable quoted from above:

It seems that as soon as the man was forgiven his debt of 10,000 talents (30-100 million day's wages), he immediately went out and found a man who owed him 100 days wages. The man begged forgiveness but the man who had been forgiven much refused to have mercy. Instead, he had his debtor thrown into prison. When this evil man's master heard of this, he gave the following response:

"You wicked servant," he said, "I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had mercy on you?" In his anger, his master turned him over to the jailers until he should pay back all he owed. Matthew 18:32-34, NIV

Jesus' next point should give us all pause for consideration - He said that this is how God will treat anyone who does not forgive his brother from the heart. Is there anyone in your life that you have yet to forgive? Today would be a good day to do just that.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12, NIV

 

Are You Happy?

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Abraham Lincoln

One of the strangest things to me is the high percentage of unhappy people who identify themselves as Christians. Common sense dictates that Christians should be the happiest people in the world. If we truly believe that God really did create the universe, that Jesus really is His son, and that He really died for our sins so that we might have a hope of being in Heaven forever, then why aren't we happier?

I heard of a mother of six who would send her children back to their rooms if they came to breakfast in a bad mood. This may seem mean but, as she reasoned, in a family of eight there are not enough days in the week for each member to spread their gloom for just one day. It wasn't that she was unsympathetic to true sorrow or real problems, but she refused to put up with whiny behavior simply because things were not going someone's way.

Zig Ziglar tells of a boss who got a speeding ticket coming back from lunch. He took it out on his sales supervisr who then snapped at his secretary. The secretary chewed out the receptionist who later that evening jumped all over her twelve year old son. The son, being at the bottom of the power chain, went and kicked their cat. After relating this story, Mr. Ziglar asked the pertinent question: 'Wouldn't it have been simpler if the boss had just kicked the receptionist's cat in the first place?"

Clearly, we all are affected by the bad moods of others - they are highly contagious. Perhaps the next time we are a bit grumpy and are tempted to share our bad mood with an innocent bystander, we should instead pause for a moment of prayer and remember this inspired encouragement given by the Apostle Paul:

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near. Philippians 4:4-5 (NIV)

 

Are We Content?

In our macho, hyper culture, we've mistaken contentment for weakness, rather   than seeing it for what it really is: born of strength. Dave Ramsey

His name was Fluffy. He was half Pekinese and half Pomeranian, but he thought he was a 12-pound lion.  When the big dogs came near his yard, he would grab the chain link fence in his teeth and growl with a ferocity usually reserved for dogs that could take care of themselves. He had his meals brought to him when hungry and condescended to a bath when dirty. He wasn't much of a dog, but he was our dog.

One day Fluffy became discontent. Despite living like a king, he decided that the grass truly was greener on the other side of the fence - so he began to dig. Some time later, no one in the family really knows exactly when, on a lonely county road, Fluffy was turned into Flat Stanley.

Whenever I become discontent with my circumstances, it is good to remember Fluffy. There are times when we finally "get ahead" only to have a new crisis come upon us - usually one with a big price tag. We see people who are younger or richer or just luckier than us and we think that the grass is much greener on their side. It seems, however, that every time we try to "dig out" we are flattened by a danger that we did not realize was lurking on the other side. Too late, we discover the fence that seemed to separate us from true contentment was actually a wall of protection set in place by our Master.

So, what is it that you are discontented with? If it is a sin that you need to extract yourself from or a situation that you truly have the right and means to make better, then, by all means, do something about it. However, if you are just discontent because you fail to realize what you have been given, then it just might be time to open your eyes and begin again to appreciate the pleasant life that God has provided.

...be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  

Heb 13:5, NIV