Putting in the Time

   Even though I handed over the coaching responsibilities of the high school tennis team several years ago, I have continued to help out as a volunteer and enjoy working with the teens and pray that I can have a positive impact on their lives. For the past couple years we have had some players who were pretty serious about improving their game and put in quite a bit of extra court time to see that happen. As a result, this past spring, our boys’ team took first at state and our girls finished in a tie for second, so their hard work was rewarded.  I recently stopped off at the courts to hit some serves while Kathy had an appointment in town.  It was on one of our hot (95 degree) afternoons so I didn’t plan to stay long. I was just leaving when one of our high school boys stopped by, just getting off from his summer job, and asked if I could hit with him. I found out he has been working out on the courts twice a day and tries to serve at least 200 balls each day. He finished sixth at state in boys’ singles and has set as his goal winning state this coming year. I thought, wow, good for you! May your tribe increase!  Most players never pick up their rackets during the off-season and then expect to be successful come next March when practice starts up. It’s just too much work and they want the summer to just relax and have fun.  But here’s a boy who is working full time during the summer yet puts in a couple hours a day practicing.  That’s dedication, and that’s what it takes to be one of the top players. 
     I also think of all the time and effort that our Olympic athletes have put in for years to make it to these prestigious contests. But, each had set goals and then developed a strategy of discipline and practice to achieve their goal. (Of course they need some natural ability to build on in their area of expertise!). It is always interesting when they give the backgrounds of some of the competitors and what they went through to get to become one of the world’s best in their field.  It has often involved some real struggles and sacrifice.
     Then I am reminded of Paul’s oft comparison of the Christian life to athletics, especially to running a race or boxing.   For example, he wrote in I Cor. 9:24-27: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” Paul draws on his readers’ knowledge of the Isthmian games, which were held every two years near Corinth (Greece).  Paul’s challenge to the Corinthian believers—and to us—was to consider how, if these competitors worked that hard for a temporary reward ( a wreath of greenery), how much more should we, as “ambassadors for Christ” (II Cor. 5:20) have self-discipline and “put in the time” as we carry out our service for Christ, knowing that ours will be an eternal reward.  Paul left us a great example of one who was willing to “put in the time and effort” to fulfill his ministry. He made his body his slave lest he should be “disqualified” (Greek = adikomos) which refers to a cracked pot, not one thrown away, but put on the shelf. Paul did not want God to put him on the shelf. He wanted to “run with endurance the race that was set before him” (Heb. 12:1).  And that took great discipline and dependence upon the Lord, as Paul faced great adversity, including several imprisonments, beatings, whippings, shipwrecks, and even stoning. He faced dangers on every hand and had many a sleepless night and felt the burden of caring for the churches he helped found.  But as he shared in his testimony to the elders of the Ephesus church, he said: ”But none of these things move me, neither do I count my life as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). 
     When it came to the end of his life, as Paul faced execution at the hands of Nero, Emperor of Rome, he wrote in his final letter to his understudy and friend, Timothy, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure has come. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Tim. 4:6-8).
     Unfortunately, I believe the same is true among Christians as is true in the sports world (and life in general)—many are content to just give token commitment and few are willing to “put in the time” and be totally committed and set goals. We only get involved in our local assembly of believers when it is convenient and works into our schedule. We neglect the reading and study of Scripture because of our hectic lifestyle. We don’t share Christ with others because we just don’t feel qualified, or we are afraid of what they may think or say or do, or we don’t want them to judge Christianity by the way we have been living. We will put in the time and effort to achieve some temporal rewards, while we neglect what will last for eternity.
      So, what was the Apostle Paul’s secret? What motivated him to give his all?  He tells us in II Cor. 5:14,15, where he writes: “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”  Jesus died not only to save us from our sins, but also that we might live for him. After all He’s done for me, how can I do less than give Him my best (put in the time)  and live for Him completely.
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
Posted in Wisdom of The Week | Leave a comment

Signs of His Second Coming

We had a special treat when our son and family were here to visit recently. We got to spend a couple days at the cabin on Crystal Lake (half-way between Libby and Kalispell) where Kathy and I spent our wedding night nearly 50 years ago! My best friend in high school, David Olson, invited me on several occasions to come out to join their family at Crystal, where I learned to water ski on that beautiful, clear lake. David’s mom was my accompanist for my French horn solos during music festivals. So I also spent many hours at their home in town practicing. Since they too were believers in Christ, we developed a very special bond, and David (“Ole”) was best man at our wedding and remains a very good friend. We found out their cabin was available while our son and family were here so were privileged to take them there for a couple days to relax and recreate on the lake.
     That was special enough, but we were also blessed with a late afternoon severe thunderstorm that involved lots of lightning, thunder and an hour or more of hard rain. We had a great time playing table games while watching the storm and listening to the rain pounding on the metal roof.  Just about the time the storm began to subside, the sun was setting and we got to witness the most unique sunset we have ever seen. The clouds rolled back to expose a strip of blue sky that stretched from one horizon to the other as the sun was shining through the clouds and onto the blue strip. It was exquisite with beauty and a reminder that Christ is coming one day—likely soon—when the “the sky will split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up” (Rev. 6:14).  The passage, in context, speaks of the time just before Jesus returns to earth to reign, and of the period of judgment called “The Great Tribulation” which precedes His return.  The passage in Revelation goes on to speak of how those living on the earth during that time who have rejected Christ as Savior, will apparently be able to see Christ sitting on the throne in heaven and will try to hide from His presence and the wrath being poured out upon the earth (vv. 15-17).  These same heavenly disturbances are also predicted in Isa. 34:4; Joel 2:30,31 and Matt. 24:29. 
     When Jesus ascended back to heaven, 40 days after His resurrection, He had gathered his disciples together and told them not to leave Jerusalem until the promised Holy Spirit came to indwell and empower them (Acts 1:3-5,8). “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, “men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven’” (Acts. 1:9-11). 
     Just before Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion, as He celebrated that final Passover meal with His disciples, He had told them He would be leaving but encouraged them, saying, “I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:3).  Then, the angels told the disciples at the ascension that Jesus would return “in the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven,” indicating He would return  (physically) in the clouds.  But, according to many Scriptures there will be two parts to His return: one in the clouds to catch away His Bride, the Church to heaven, and later (seven years) to return with His Bride to the earth in judgment and to set up His earthly kingdom promised to Israel. The passage in Rev. 6:14 speaks of the disturbance of the heavens that takes place just before He returns in glory to the earth. But, in Paul’s letter to the believers at Thessalonica, to comfort those who had lost loved ones in death, we read: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep (believers who died), that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those (their spirits) who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ (their bodies) shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thes. 4:13-18).
     Prior to the judgments of the Tribulation that are detailed in Revelation (also in Mt. 24,25 and Lk. 21), Jesus will return in the clouds (just as He left), will remove all believers still alive on the earth and will raise the bodies of believers who have died. We will have a great “reunion in the sky” as we meet our Lord and Savior who takes us then to be with Him in heaven during those seven years of judgment on earth before He returns with us to the earth to set up His earthly reign.
     All of that came to mind—my mind, that is!—when we witnessed the very special, beautiful and unique sunset at the end of the storm on Crystal Lake.
     So, are you ready for His return for His Bride?  You don’t want to be left behind to face the terrible judgments prophesied  in Revelation.  If you have never trusted Christ for your salvation, do so now, while you have time. You don’t know how much longer you have.
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
P.S. Thanks, so much Olsons for the use of your cabin!
Posted in Wisdom of The Week | Leave a comment

Living Water

  A daily ritual at our place during the summer months is watering flowers and setting sprinklers for the lawn and vegetable garden. We enjoy having flowers and fresh garden produce, but that also means we are committed to providing the much-needed water to keep everything alive and flourishing. It reminds me of our own human thirst for water. Our bodies need lots of water to survive, and to be healthy it is a daily requirement. We can’t just drink a lot of water one day and it is good for a week or a month.
     You are probably familiar with the story recorded in John’s gospel where Jesus told His disciples that they needed to go through Samaria on their way from Judea to Galilee. Normally the Jews would go across the Jordan and bypass Samaria because it was populated by folks who were half Jew and half Gentile dating back to the Assyrian’s conquering of Israel and their practice of forcing inter-marriage. But on this occasion, Jesus wanted to visit with a Samaritan woman that was out in heat of the day to draw water from a community well near Sychar. It was actually a well that Jacob had dug many years before on a parcel of ground he gave to his son Joseph (Jn. 4:4-6). The disciples had gone into the city to buy food and Jesus remained by the well. Along came the Samaritan woman to draw water and Jesus asked her for a drink since He had nothing with which to draw. Whether or not Jesus ever got His drink it doesn’t say, but He offered her “living water,” saying, “Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (Jn. 4:13,14). Jesus was speaking of new life through the regenerating power of  the Holy Spirit (Jn. 7:37-39). 
     Just as everyone has a natural thirst for water, we also have a thirst for God, since He made us with a God-shaped vacuum within, which only Jesus Christ can fill. When we try to quench our thirst with anything other than the “living water” Jesus offers, we continue to thirst. Nothing else on this earth, whether fame or fortune or anything else can ultimately satisfy. We are always thirsty again and are never fulfilled. Only God can meet that need and He did so by sending His Son to pay for our sins and to offer eternal life. When we trust Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit creates in us a new nature that provides the fulfillment for which we have been longing.
     It is important to note that, although Jesus pointed out the woman’s sinful lifestyle, He asked the woman to receive Him and His gift without any prerequisite change in her life. After she believed, and because she believed, her way of living would be changing. We don’t have to get our life together to come to Christ, we come to Christ to get our life together. This woman left her water pot and hurried back to the city to tell others about Christ and what He had done for her. Many believed because of her testimony (how she had changed) and others went out to talk to Jesus also.
     Have you received the “living water” Jesus offers or are you still trying to quench your thirst from what this world has to offer? If you have received God’s gift of eternal life, are you telling others about the Source of “living water” so they too can come and drink?
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
Posted in Wisdom of The Week | Leave a comment

The Aroma of Life and Death

While our son and family were here this past week, we hiked up into the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness area where we had a major forest fire last summer that caused a number of families to have to evacuate their homes. Fortunately the fire stopped short of destroying any private property, but really took its toll in the forest. All along the trail were the charred remains of trees, including some giant cedars, many of which crashed to the forest floor, leaving a tangled mess of remains. Others are still standing, but very precariously, and will undoubtedly soon come down with wind or snow.  The carnage left by the fire caused the trail to have to be detoured in several locations. But, there are still  sections of live trees and vegetation that escaped the fire, so, as we hiked there was an interesting aroma of both life and death. On a nice warm summer day, you can smell the aroma given off by trees and plants as they grow. It is an aroma of life and fruitfulness. But along with that pleasing aroma in the forest was the smell of charred trees and burned bushes. It was an interesting combination of the aroma of both life and death.
     The Apostle Paul speaks of such a strange combination in his second letter to the Corinthians, where he writes: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one and aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life…” (II Cor. 2:14-16).  Paul was drawing from the Roman practice of a conquering army parading its captured prisoners as they return home, while incense is being burned, an aroma of life to the conquerors, but of death to those prisoners who were about to be executed.  In this case the aroma was the same, but it meant something entirely different to two groups of people. Paul says that the “aroma” of our lives as believers will be a fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved, but to those who are living in rejection of Christ, it will be a fragrance of death. 
      In our case, as we walked through the forest that was devastated by a wildfire last summer, there were two aromas, one the result of death and destruction, the other a product of vibrant life and growth. We as believers, as we walk about on this earth, should be emitting an “aroma of life,” the abundant life that we have in Christ (Jn. 10:10).  That fragrance contrasts with the aroma of death and destruction all about us that is caused by the consequences of sin and by those who are living in rejection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “You shall also say to this people, ‘behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death’” (Jer. 21: 8).  It is possible for those under the condemnation of sin to move from their condition of death and destruction to that of life and beauty through faith in Christ. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn. 5:24).  Paul wrote: “Who (God) has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity; but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (I Tim. 1:9,10). 
     Our hike in the wilderness that has been scarred by a forest fire was much like what we see in the world as a whole. We see the affects of sin and the death and destruction it brings, but we also see the beauty of God’s creation that still shines through and we have the beautiful aroma of those who are true followers of Jesus who, as Christ’s ambassadors, are being salt and light.  So, in which category do you fit? Are you still living under the curse of sin and death, under the condemnation of the Law, or have you experienced new life in Christ and are demonstrating His love and forgiveness in a world of hatred and bitterness? What kind of aroma does your life emit?   If you have never done so, I encourage you to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior and receive not only eternal life and an assurance of heaven, but a whole new life here as a “new creation in Christ” (II Cor. 5:17).
                    Forever His,
                        Pastor Dave
Posted in Wisdom of The Week | Leave a comment

Why Do Birds Sing?

   At this stage of summer, about 5 a.m. we awake to the crowing of a rooster at the neighbors, followed by the crows which begin a big ruckus around 5:30 a.m., at which point I usually have to get up and shut the window if we are going to sleep any longer.  While the rooster and the crows are rather annoying, many birds make music that is very soothing and relaxing and it is fun to listen to what birds sing what songs in order to identify them. Besides the crows which return here in the spring, we hear the calls from robins, Canada geese, blue and stellar jays, house finches, wild turkeys, mourning doves, black-capped chickadees, house finches, rufus-sided towhees, and many more.
     Like the fragrant perfume from flowers like sweet peas or roses or lilacs, bird songs have a profound effect on the human senses. Listening to the music of birds makes the world seem a little brighter and can bring a bit of cheer to the human heart. Certain bird calls can evoke memories from our outdoor experiences.  The quacking of mallards reminds me of my childhood when I would go with  my dad to hide and wait for the ducks to come out in the grain fields from the wild-life refuge to feed in the evening. Another memory is of our family camping by Hebgen (“Quake”) Lake near Yellowstone Park. We were awakened by a loud, strange, crying noise. We walked toward the lake to investigate and caught our first-ever glimpse of huge sand-hill cranes.  The sound of Canada geese flying over, honking words of encouragement, makes me think of crisp fall days as they begin their migration southward.  Another call that elicits memories is that of the common loon, whose voice is associated with the northern wilderness of the United States, often heard at a mountain lake.
     Ornithologists have done lots of research regarding birds calls and music and have learned that birds definitely have a means of communicating various messages to one another.   Take the common loon, for example. They have four basic calls: 1)  A powerful wail which is used to search for a mate; 2) A yodel—only made by the male—which is a sign of aggression used to stake out the boundaries of its territory; 3) the hoot or talking call used to keep in contact with family members; and 4) the tremelo or “laugh” that resembles the call of a wolf. It is a signal of alarm—the only call made in flight, and is often called, “the call of the wilderness.”
     The red poll uses “call notes “ to keep in touch with one another during flight enabling them to take off and land at the same time—like, “ready, set, go!’ 
     One of our favorite birds, and one we see pretty much throughout the year is the black-capped chickadee. They are hardy little birds that will remain through the cold, wintry months and continue their bright cheerful songs and joyful activities. They are known as the “bird of the merry heart.” As they scatter looking for food in the winter, they call to stay in contact, and when one of them finds a new source of food, it communicates a message to tell the others. The bird is named after the melody it most commonly sings in the winter—“chick-a-dee-dee-dee.”  When the days begin to warm and the first signs of spring appear, their song changes to “phee’-bee.” They also serenade their mate during courtship with that song. During summer and fall another call is heard which involves three notes and sounds like “cheese’-bur-ger!”
     So, while the majority of the bird calls and songs we hear and enjoy are pragmatic for them as communication calls, alarm calls, migration calls, mating calls (love songs) or territorial calls. their songs are often “music to our ears.” It would also surely seem that there are times when song birds are just making music for the joy of it—like after a rainstorm when the earth has been refreshed by God.  Our favorites (besides the chickadees), are the rufus-sided towhees and the house finches—all of which have very pleasing melodies.  Others are rather raucous and annoying—like the jays, the crows and the flicker woodpeckers.  But, just think of the varieties of languages they speak—something that surely didn’t evolve with time and chance but is the product of our all-wise, all-powerful Creator God, who on the fifth day of the creation week said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens…and God created…every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply…and let birds multiply on the earth’” (Gen. 1: 20-22).  God created a huge variety of beautiful birds, each with its own language of communication, and as another act of His grace, he made man in such a way that we could enjoy their music. Each bird species also has some unique features and abilities from which we can learn a lot that we can apply to our lives. In the Old Testament book of Job, we read in Job’s reply to his so-called comforter, Zophar, “But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you” (Job. 12:7).
     There are many birds mentioned in the Bible. Check it out and see how many you can find.
                Forever His,
                        Pastor Dave
Posted in Wisdom of The Week | Leave a comment

Find Your Niche

    Our youngest grandson Luke, who just finished 6th grade, loves sports of all kinds. He is currently playing baseball and although he is one of the team’s pitchers, he primarily plays shortstop for his defensive skills. There are others who pitch well so it is usually to the team’s best interest for him to be at the shortstop position.
     We like to watch the Seattle Mariner’s baseball games and each of their players has a special position where their skills are utilized the greatest. Some can play several positions quite well, but they usually have one which suits their skill set the best. Occasionally, due to a player getting injured, someone has to step into their spot who is not really equipped to play that position and it shows, and may make it difficult for the team.   What really makes a team gel is when each player does his best at his particular position and supports each other player in their roles, rather than being envious of the other player’s positions and wishing they could have their spot.  When each individual player works his hardest for the best of the team both on and off the field of play, that team has a good chance of success (providing, of course, that they have some talented players!). 
     When Paul writes about the body of Christ, the Church, he emphasizes how important it is for each member of the body to use the gifts they have been given by God for the good of the “team.”  To the Romans Paul writes: “For through the grace given to me I say to every  man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence, he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness…Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Ro. 12:3-10).
     In his letter to the believers at Corinth, Paul used the analogy of the human body with its many parts and emphasized how each part should be content with its God-given role and not wish it were something else. “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body,” etc.  (I Cor. 12:14,15ff).  And, just as God designed each part of our physical body to serve in a unique capacity for the good of the whole body, so He equipped each believer with a special set of abilities called “gifts of grace” or “spiritual gifts” to serve in a unique capacity “for the common good” of the church body (I Cor. 12:8,11). 
     Paul also mentioned these spiritual gifts given to each member of the body of Christ when he wrote to the church at Ephesus. After he lists some of the gifts (Eph. 4:11,12), he goes on to write about the purpose for each of our utilizing the gifts we have been given… “…to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ…we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:12-16). 
     Since believers are to exercise their gifts within a local assembly of believers (cf Heb. 10:24,25), it is important for the pastor and leadership team of each assembly to help folks discover and develop and deploy their gifts for the good of the body, much like the coach and his staff of a sports team need to see what special abilities each player has and help them develop those abilities and put them in a position where they can best benefit the team. 
     So, do you know how God has gifted you and are you using those gifts to serve the body of Christ and to minister to others? One day we will give an account to God for how we utilized the talents and gifts He gave us. He has blessed us to be a blessing. We are blessed when we use our gifts to bless others. Find your “niche” and be the best you can be at that position, always with the good of the team, the body of Christ, in mind.
            Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
Posted in Wisdom of The Week | Leave a comment

The Cost of Freedom

  Towering above New York Harbor is the Statue of Liberty. For more than 100 years, the stately lady, with freedom’s torch held high, has beckoned millions of people who are choking from the stifling air of tyranny and oppression. They’ve been drawn to what that monument symbolizes—freedom. Inscribed on Lady Liberty’s pedestal are the deeply moving words by Emma Lazarus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
     A different monument towers over history, offering spiritual freedom to enslaved people throughout the world. It’s the Roman Cross where Jesus Christ hung 2,000 years ago. Prior to His arrest, trial beating and crucifixion, Jesus said: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die” (Jn. 12:32,33).  At first the Cross repels. Then we see the sinless Son of God dying in our place to pay the penalty for our sins. From the Cross we hear the words, “Father forgive them” (Lk. 23:34) and “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30), proclaiming the believers’ “Declaration of Independence.”  All of humanity was under the tyranny of sin and death. But Christ, the sinless One took our place on Calvary and died for our sins. Having satisfied God’s righteous demands, He now sets free for eternity all who trust Him for eternal life. Jesus said to His disciples, “and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free…If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8:32,36).  The Apostle Paul wrote: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Ro. 8:2-3). “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). 
     I thank God for the freedom I enjoy as a United States citizen, but above all believers worldwide can praise God for the freedom that is found in Christ—freedom from the penalty of sin—freedom from the power of sin in our lives (freedom from bondage to the old sinful flesh) and ultimately freedom from the very presence of sin. Our greatest freedom is freedom from sin. But as with our national and political freedom, there was a high cost to our spiritual freedom. God the Son, although He was equal with the God the Father, emptied Himself of His glory in heaven, took the form of a bondservant and was made in the likeness of men; and He humbled Himself by becoming obedient unto death—death on a cross (Phil. 2:6-8). The sinless Son became the suffering Savior in order to bear our iniquities (Isa. 53). What a price Jesus paid. Don’t ever take your spiritual freedom for granted—it was purchased at a great price on our behalf. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18,19). 
     As you celebrate our national independence today, don’t forget to also thank God for your spiritual freedom and for Christ’s sacrifice which made it possible.
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
Posted in Wisdom of The Week | Leave a comment