Paul begins Ephesian Chapter 5:1-2 having arrived at a conclusion as to how believers in Jesus should act. “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” He exhorts us to imitate God. What does that mean to you? Think of God’s attributes and consider the ones that He desires we have – like being forgiving, loving, kind, gentle, compassionate, thankful, pure, holy, …. God desires that we follow Christ’s example and imitate Him because He dearly loves us and we are His children. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross pleased God as it redeemed all mankind from death and enabled us to come before Him. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can be imitators of Jesus and have lives filled with love.
Where do you need to imitate Christ in your life? With your family, at work or school, on committees or groups you belong to?? Living a life of authentic Christianity is a call to sacrifice, humility and openness before God. I love Philippians 1:6 because it assures me that I am not in this struggle to live for Christ alone, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”Philippians 4:19 assures me that He has what I need to live for Him, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” We can have hope that God will finish what He started in us when we became believers. He always completes what He starts! We can do this because God has the resources for all our needs. We just need to ask and be willing to serve Him. Be imitators of Christ today and experience His love in your life.
Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941. It began 78 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 of the men who died this day so long ago and for the men and women who continue to sacrifice their lives, time, talents and family time for our freedom.
This year I have read several novels set during WWII. They all describe the horrors of war and the tragedies inflicted on human beings surrounding war. On one occasion one of my high school students and I went to see the movie, They Shall Not Grow Old, which was about WWI. It was a moving account told through the eyes of the British soldiers. I did not realize until the ‘after talk’ by the producer that the narratives read during the scenes were actual accounts from soldiers who served in the pictured battles or areas. That made the scenes all the more moving and real. Although the film footage was very old and not at all what we usually experience in high definition, it was authentic and gave you a real vision of what the conditions were really like. I did not have a true concept of what the trenches actually were. When I saw for real the conditions, the extent and size of the trenches I was amazed. The film was a tribute, by the producer, to honor his relatives who served during that war.
Nothing adequately describes the horrors of war and its aftermath in the mind and soul of the individual. November 11th is set aside for the specific remembrance -the 11th month, 11th day at the 11th hour the armistice was signed ending WWI, named the war to end all wars, and yet it did not. Scripture tells us there will we wars and rumors of wars until the end of time. Today we remember those who served and those who died in any war or conflict with grateful hearts.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some pictures of the beaches and cemetery at Normandy. This was a place of great sacrifice during World War II. Thank you to each Veteran on this Veteran’s Day for your service and the sacrifice of all those who have died to preserve our freedoms. I am most grateful.
In John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. These brave men and women paid the ultimate price, and they did not even know me. I am humbled by their patriotism and sacrifice on my behalf.
“I am the good shepherd.” Jesus made this bold statement in John 10:11 and 14. He knew the people understood the job of a shepherd and the sacrifice it entailed. They were to guard their sheep with their life both during the day and night against wolves, bears, and any disaster that might come their way. He was their first and only line of defense against the outside world. Jesus was identifying and claiming this same relationship and responsibility with those who were following Him then and those of us who would follow Him in the future. I love the passage in John 10 as it gives me comfort and assurance of who Jesus is to and for me.
“11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
Jesus promises that He is the good type of shepherd that will stick with us always. He was not hired to watch over us but is committed to us because He loves us. He affirms that He has a relationship with us in verse 14 and He knows us and we know Him. Jesus says He willingly sacrificed His life to save us and bring us into a close relationship with Him and the Father. Romans 5:8 puts it this way, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The attribute of being good belongs to God alone. It is His nature to be good where our nature is rooted in sin. So when Jesus says He is the good shepherd, He alone can claim this as He is God. Here are a few verses extolling God’s goodness: Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Lamentations 3:25 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” Titus 3:4 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,” God’s goodness was truly shone when He sent Jesus to redeem us. He desires to know us and love us. Through Jesus we can be brought into the arms of our loving Father.
Jesus rightly claims to be our good shepherd, do you know Him? He knows you and desires to embrace you with His love and care. Step into His arms today and receive His love and protection and find that safe harbor in Him for eternity.
As we ponder the significance of 9/11 today, what comes to your mind? This is the 19th year anniversary of that tragic attack on the twin towers in NY and the Pentagon. Many of those alive today have no memory of that horrific day and those terrifying events. The same could be said for December 7th and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Both bring extreme sadness at the unnecessary loss of innocent lives, the aftermath of the events and their impact on families, the nation and our way of life. A great sense of invasion and insecurity looms in my mind.
As I looked back, four years ago on 9/11 my new book, Promises for Dynamic Living arrived. The arrival of a new book you’ve written is a momentous time for an author. At the heart of this book is hope and security. God’s Word provides us with an anchor for our souls in Christ and redemption though His work on the cross. Knowing promises our Heavenly Father has made to us, gives me hope as I know He is eternal and always faithful to keep His promises. He promised to send a savior and He did in the person of His own Son- Jesus. What hope we have in Christ! He fulfilled all the promises in the Bible about himself and all questions about redemption are Yes in Him. We do not need to fear for our future as it is guaranteed by Christ himself.
So what of 9/11 and those fears and insecurities? Turn them over to Jesus and depend upon Him in all things. We can cling to Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”Nahum 1:7 “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” Isaiah 26:3-4 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” I pray one of these verses gives you added hope in Jesus today.
Living in a troubled world with HOPE,
A study in God’s Word that will bring you hope and assurance for living in a troubled world. Available on Amazon or at Certa Publishing.
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 Messiah next returns to Isaiah 53:8 as Handel continues to show the suffering and rejection of our Savior. His birth at Christmas is a celebration but it led to a pathway filled with grief and sorrow for our Lord Jesus. I think the Amplified Translation will help us to see this verse more clearly.
Isaiah 53:8 “After oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation [His contemporaries], who [among them] concerned himself with the fact That He was cut off from the land of the living [by His death] For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke [of death]was due?
Jesus’ persecution by both the religious Jews in several illegal mock trials and then His judgement by Jews and condemnation by the Romans are what is spoken of here as oppression and judgement. His trial before the Sanhedrin is recorded in Matthew 26:62-67 “Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?”63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God:Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” 64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.66 What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him.” Later before Pilate they all demanded death for Jesus. Matthew 27:20-23 “But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
Verse 8 also states that Jesus would be cut off from the land of the living and sentenced to death for the transgressions of the people not his own. Paul puts this cutting off plainly in Romans 5:6-8 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
How can we be encouraged by these words of suffering and death of our Savior? Jesus came as a babe fully aware of his life and purpose. Even as young as 12 when he spoke in the temple people were amazed. Luke 2:46-47 “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” When Mary and Joseph asked him about it he replied in verse 49 ““Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Jesus knew His purpose and came to earth to do the will of His Father in heaven. He came for us. Are you motivated by the love of God to give yourself willingly to serve others? It is Jesus’ example to us given at Christmas for us to ponder and imitate in our own lives. What better time of year to put this into practice!
Part 2 of the Messiah begins with John 1:29. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” God sent Jesus into the world that Christmas night to save us from our sins. When the angel had appeared to Joseph he said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-22. God’s plan of redemption was to send Jesus to bring us to redemption and reconciliation with God. 1 John 1:5 “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.” Being sinless, he was the perfect sacrifice. It did not have to be repeated again and again like the Old Testament sacrifices, as His death paid for all sin. Hebrews 10:9-10 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” As Jesus said from the cross ‘it is finished’, His death was the ultimate and complete sacrifice and finished it. His perfect sacrifice paid the price for our sins. He came to earth and gave up His place in glory to establish a way for us to become righteous and reconciled to God. I love Paul’s reasoning in Romans 6:8-10 where he tell us that through Christ’s death and resurrection we are raised to life and that sin has been paid for in full. “Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Praise Jesus today for His coming, His sacrifice on the cross and His victory over death by which we are saved through faith in Him. “for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 This is a Promise we can trust and live by.
This is a moving presentation of the Chorus with visuals to point you to the meaning of the words.
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.