I want to wish each of you a Happy 4th. The 4th of July is a favorite holiday filled with BBQ’s, games, swimming, picnicking, corn on the cob, apple pie and fireworks. But as you know, the 4th is more than that to each of us. The freedom we enjoy in America was bought with a price. The cost to those that came before us was filled with sacrifice, hope and struggle. It continues to cost those who labor daily in the military to ensure our freedom. Our struggle over the centuries has been to secure, defend and maintain freedom of religion, peace, prosperity and hope for us and our children. We desire to live in an unbiased, loving and accepting society. Is this possible? Actually, I believe it is NOT possible without Christ. He is the one who can make all things right and gives us the power to love and live in harmony with others.
Today’s thoughts of freedom bring me to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Galatians 5:1. Paul was teaching the Corinthians how to live together in harmony and purity. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own: you have been bought at price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Paul was reminding the Galatians what they had in Christ and that it should be their desire and ours to honor God in all we say and do. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves by burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Christ died for us so that we might be free from sin and its bondage and have the ability to live lives that honor Him. The cross was the ultimate sacrifice for us. Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He bought us with a price, his life. He redeemed us from sin’s ultimate consequence-death. My freedom in Christ was bought with the price of His life on the cross.
I have FREEDOM in Christ- freedom from my sins, freedom to live for Him, freedom from eternal death and freedom to live with Him for eternity. Just as we are thankful for those who died to secure the freedom we have in America, we need to be thankful for the freedom we have in Christ alone. He is the one who secures it all and brings us to the place where we can enjoy freedom.
Today as you are thankful for America, think also of the greater freedom you have though Christ and say a prayer of Thanks to Jesus.
Psalm 103:13 “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.”
Proverbs 23:24 “The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him.”
Sunday is Father’s Day and it’s approach has caused me to think reflectively about my earthly father, Henry Beecher Chrisp. He was a loving father, but demanded that we behave well, work hard, show respect and not give up easily. He loved to work with his hands building things and to fish. Dad loved the outdoors by cultivating flowers, growing a vegetable garden or simply taking a hike or ride through the forest. He had a deep faith in God. He showed me God, the Father, through his compassion and love for me. Dad was always one to love what we did and took pride in our accomplishments.
I hope your own father reminds you of God, the Father, in some personal way. I felt blessed and fortunate to have a father who loved me and wanted the best for me. I know all earthly fathers are not like that. Fortunately, we all have a perfect Heavenly Father we can look up to and depend upon. He will always be there for us and promises to never leave us or forsake us. Thank you Lord.
Have a blessed Father’s Day filled with good memories or activities with your father.
Today is the 75th Anniversary of the “D-Day” invasion of Europe in 1944. Known as Operation Overload it was cloaked in secrecy and
various rumors were spread to mislead the enemy as to when the attack would take place. General Eisenhower had originally chosen June 5 for the invasion but bad weather made that impossible, so they moved forward as weather cleared on June 6. It was the largest amphibious attack in history and some 156,000 plus troops from Great Britain, Canada and the United States landed on various beaches. When I visited Normandy, I realized how great the coordination had to have been to attack simultaneously the different beaches. The British and Canadians captured beaches code named Gold, Juno and Sword. The Americans captured Utah Beach but faced heavy resistance on Omaha Beach where over 2,000 Americans died. Some historians estimate that more than 4,000 Allied troops lost their lives in the D-Day invasion, with thousands more wounded or missing.
Beautiful and serene today, but then were covered with barbed wire and obstacles to stop the troops from landing.
By the day’s end, some 156,000 troops had landed successfully and led what is thought to be ‘the beginning of the end for Germany’. By the end of August, northern France had been liberated and by the Spring of 1945 the Germans were defeated. The coordinated efforts of all the commanders were lead by General Dwight D Eisenhower. They successfully adapted and overcame to defeat the enemy.
As we ponder this day in history, let us give thanks to those who gave their lives and those who fought bravely in the face of grave danger and survived. Thank you to those who came home and lived lives of honor and courage after having experienced the horrors of war and to those who did not return.
Normandy, a place of remembrance. Let us remember their sacrifice for our freedom and not take it lightly as the cost was great.
Proverbs 10:7 “The memory of the righteous is a blessing,
May the memories bring you blessings today.
For this holiday- Memorial Day- the greeting, “Happy Memorial Day” just does not express the appropriate sentiment. Memorial Day is a day to remember the sacrifice of soldiers who have died in war. It began after the Civil war and was originally called ‘Decoration Day’. It was later extended to honor all fallen soldiers in any war. Jesus told us inJohn 15:13 “Greater love has no one than his, that he lay down his life for his friends.”Anyone who joins the military knows they might be called to go to war and fight. Believing in life, freedom and the independent pursuit of happiness is declared in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights and gives motivation and heart to their call to defend our nation. It is an honorable calling that is worthy of our acknowledgement and remembrance. Proverbs 10:7 “The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.” Who will you remember today that has answered the call and given their life for their friends? You and I need to consider ourselves their friends and it is our obligation to their sacrifice that we remember them. Scripture teaches that remembering will be and is a blessing to us. Remember both the living and the dead, as both made or are making sacrifices on our behalf.
Will you attend a parade, a breakfast, have a time of prayer, watch a war movie? Any of these things can be a cause to remember those that have fallen and give thanks for their sacrifice for you and for me. Have a blessed Memorial Day! I think that would be the proper greeting and I send it to you!
Prayer: Thank you Lord, for those brave men and women who have given their all- their lives- so that I can enjoy the freedoms our country provides. Help me to be honoring to their memory and sacrifice knowing they laid their lives down for me, someone they did not even know. Give me an attitude of thankfulness for those Veteran’s that are still living and help me to honor them. Lord, give our leaders wisdom and a sense of unity in working to preserve that for which so many have died. Amen.
P.S. This year we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the “D” day landing at Normandy where so many died, June 6, 1944. Today, remember their great sacrifice for freedom.
The cynic might say Valentine’s Day is the day for florists, candy and card makers to earn a great deal of money. I walked into a local supermarket yesterday, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of flowers, cards and candy that were on display. On the love side, Valentine’s Day is a day when we can express our love for one another freely and not be thought of as sentimental or mushy. How about God? How does God express His love for us? Here is a familiar verse that gets right to the heart of God.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For He did not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
How much more love could God show towards us than sacrificing His only Son on our behalf? He loved us that much. He sent Him so that through faith in Jesus we could be saved and not condemned. Only sinless Jesus could erase our sin and present us whole and perfectly clean before our Holy God.
When you say ‘thank you’ today for a Valentine gift you receive, a card, note, flowers or someone simply saying ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’, think about thanking God too. Thank Him for sending Jesus. Thank Him for making a way for your salvation and eternal life with Him. That is the best Valentine I can think of that is filled with all of God’s love for now throughout eternity.
Today is deemed Martin Luther King Day in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who stood for rightness in fight for freedom of equality for all men. He was very eloquent in speech and inspired many with his life and fight against oppression. He challenges the generations to dream of equality and reach for it. Where do you have unrealized dreams today? Are you actively pursuing them, keeping them in focus and grabbing onto opportunities to make them happen?
The verses I’ve chosen for this year Psalm 37:5 and Nahum 1:7 are meant to hone my focus and keep me in pursuit of godly goals for 2019. Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. Nahum 1:7 ““The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,” Like Dr. King, I want my dreams to be accomplished and I want to glorify God in the process. I came across another verse today that fits in and encouraged me. Proverbs 16:3 in the Message translation. “Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.”
As we remember Dr. King today and honor his achievements for mankind. think how much God has for you to accomplish and what wonderful purposes He has for you. We know for certain that He has a plan and a purpose for each of us. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 Put God in charge of your plans and He will make them align with His will and be accomplished!
Happy New Year! I can’t believe 2018 is done and we are ready to embark on 2019. At this time of year we wonder what the year will bring- changes in places, people, relationships and even jobs. It is a good time to take a closer look at our relationship with God and reevaluate our commitment and devotion to Him. God never changes. Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Psalm 33:11, “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” These are just a few verses that reassure us that God is immutable and never changes. Knowing that fact about God, we can look more closely at ourselves, our attitudes and actions.
How do I remain faithful to a faithful God? God reassured the children of Israel when they were taken into captivity in Babylon that He would be their sanctuary. He alone would hold them steady in faith. Ezekiel 11:19 “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” God promises to put a new spirit within us and remove our heart of stone- attitudes of rebellion, faithlessness, unbelief, despair, rejection…. God can and will remove those from you and give you a NEW SPIRIT for the New Year. He will give you a heart that is loving, compassionate, believing, and filled with hope. How do you get this new heart and spirit? In Christ alone our hope is found. 1 John 5:11-12 describe our hope. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Belief in Jesus, commitment to Him in gratitude and service is a place to begin. Repentance of past sins and asking forgiveness brings us to our knees and realigns our hearts with Him.
Celebrate your life in Christ, your hope in Christ and be assured that God will give you a new heart and a new spirit to live triumphantly in Him this year! 2019 Bring it on! We’re ready with a repentant heart looking to our Savior.
On this last day of 2018, we conclude with the final chorus of the Messiah. The scene is the throne room of heaven in John’s vision and Jesus is being praised and worshiped. Revelation 5:9-13
9 And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,12 saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
They begin by singing a new song. In the Old Testament, a new song was sung to celebrate and act of divine deliverance or blessing. Here the creatures and angels are praising Jesus, the Lamb, who delivered all mankind through his blood. Jesus is worthy to receive all power, wealth, wisdom, honor and blessing because of the ransom He paid with His blood on the cross. All heaven and earth will praise Him! What a glorious scene this will be. Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, is Worthy of all Praise!
And so… what a fitting way to end our year. Let us praise our Savior and Redeemer. Let your lips utter praise today for all this last year has brought both good and bad. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Ponder the difficulties you’ve had in your life this year in light of James 1:2-4 “2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Let us take the adversity we experienced and the blessings we received and offer them up to Jesus today as and offering of praise and thanksgiving.
Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941. It began 77 years ago at 7:55 am. If you have visited the Memorial over the sunken Arizona where the sailors are still entombed, you are sobered by their sacrifice. War is a terrible thing yet through it men rise to honor and sacrifice for their fellow men. Over 2,400 were killed and 1,000 wounded that day. The most causalities occurred on the USS Arizona as it was hit 4 times by Japanese bombers. A piece of trivia- 37 confirmed pairs or trios of brothers were assigned to the Arizona and this battle cost 62 of these 77 men their lives and 23 sets of brothers died. I can’t imagine the grief those families suffered all in one day. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it as “a date that will live in infamy.” Just like September 11, 2001 will live on in our minds so should December 7th.
Say a prayer of gratitude today for the sacrifices these men and those brave men and women who continue to sacrifice their lives, time, talents and family time for our freedom.
I was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’. It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’. It began as a term to describe the crowds, like the street was black with pedestrians. It then became a day to retailers signifying when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased. In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land. “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46 The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me. His death was the darkest day that brought the greatest profit for us. John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen. “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath. Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they rushed to get Jesus down from the cross, hastily buried and settled in a borrowed tomb. Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste. After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday. “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.” Mark 16:1 Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as the learned of Jesus’ resurrection and defeat of sin and death. An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” What joyous news they had to share!
That blackest of Friday bringing death to Jesus and a hasty burial brought the greatest profit to you and me. Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history. Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven. We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin. That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.
As you venture out today to do some shopping, think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ. Praise Him as you do.