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Memorial Day

May 27, 2011

In the United States we take a day out of our busy schedules
to remember those who fought and died fighting for our freedom. Freedom is so
valuable to us that we will give up a day of work to honor those who purchased
it for us by laying down their lives. Their lives paid the price for us to have
the freedom to say to the workforce, schools, government offices, etc., that we
are not coming today because we’ve chosen to honor those who sacrificed all for
us.

And so it is, on this day of remembering that I am in
remembrance of the One who gave His life for me to have ultimate freedom. Jesus
laid down His life to redeem me from sin and from the affects of sin in the
world. He didn’t just atone for (cover up) my sin with His blood, but He
cleansed me of all sin to make me as if I’d never sinned. For one such as I,
this is a tremendous gift and worthy of remembrance. But what does that freedom
really mean? In this age of generations of free people living in the most free
country in the world—what does that mean to those who never considered
themselves “slaves” to anyone? Before I understood—I didn’t think of
myself as a slave to sin. I didn’t think of myself as anyone’s servant. I’m an
American. If anything, being an American meant I was free and sassy enough to
do anything I wanted to do with my life.

So, when people came to me saying, “You are a sinner,
you need to get saved.” I would often ask, “Saved from what?” They
then countered, “Saved from sin.” Or sometimes, “Saved from
hell.” But in my un-renewed mind, sin wasn’t so bad. It was what I was and
I didn’t think I was so bad. To me, sin was just not living according to some
archaic set of rules and regulations given by Moses, who said God gave them to
him. If I was a sinner, then the rest of the world was in that hand-basket with
me, including most of those I knew who went to church every week. I wasn’t sure
I believed in God, and I didn’t see evidence of His existence through any of
the people I knew.

But then, Stanley came with the gospel. The gospel is not,
“You are a sinner and going to hell if you don’t get saved.” The
gospel is not anything about hell. Hell is just another result of sin, it is
not the cause of sin or answer to sin—it is merely a place designed for the
devil and his cohorts—and anyone who aligns themselves with him by choosing or
by ignorance. Jesus said there are two kingdoms—only two—there is the kingdom
of darkness ruled by Satan, and there is the kingdom of light—ruled (yes,
ruled) by God’s dear Son. We choose, by our beliefs, our actions and our words
which the kingdom we live in—God’s or Satan’s, because there are only those
two.

The gospel is not about hell, but about life and life filled
with abundance of all things good. The gospel says that though we have all
sinned and fallen short of God’s character and nature, Jesus came to lay down
His life and give us freedom from sin. His sinless life for our sinful life is
the exchange made. His perfect blood cleansed and replaced our blood,
genetically flawed because of the sin of our ancestors.

Adam passed the tainted blood to his children and each
successive generation after carried the twisted genetic trait of sin. Science
has proven that alcoholism runs in families. Abuse runs in families. The
propensity to certain sins follows in families. It is a proven fact. Diabetes
runs in families. Certain cancers run in families. The effects of sin
(dis-ease) runs in families. It is a law of nature, and follows in the
bloodline of the father. That is why Jesus did not have an earthly father. But
then, that’s another blog for another day.

The gospel—the good news—is that Jesus came to save us not
only from sin itself, but the effects of it in the world. The good news is we
don’t have to follow after the sins of our fathers, or magnify them in our
lives. The good news is that the disease that follows the bloodline of families
has been dealt with in that the power of sin is abolished by one thing—the life
laid down. In particular, the life of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. The
great exchange is made when we believe Jesus’ words and accept His gift of
life. We are transported from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light,
love and life by believing Jesus was who He said He was and accomplished what
He said He accomplished.

When life gets a little crazy, the most wonderful thing for
me to do is to return to study the names of God. Being loving and merciful and
full of grace, He revealed His character and nature to Israel through His
names. One of the first names He revealed to Abraham was Jehovah Jireh. On this
Memorial Day, it is this name of God that I reflect on.

Abraham, the first person called a Hebrew became a follower
of God. Hebrew means one who has crossed over. Abraham crossed over from being
an unbeliever to being a believer in God the Creator. His people had worshipped
the created—but Abraham crossed over from that to knowing and believing in
Creator God.

One of the first things God promised Abraham was a family to
fill the land He was giving him. Time passed from the day of promise, and
Abraham grew in wealth and reputation, but still had no heir to inherit the
promise of God. This must have been a frustration to him because his wife gave him her maid, Hagar to impregnate. Abe
took Hagar and made a baby with her. But from the time he listened to his wife
until God talked to him again was fifteen years. Then, when God did start
talking to him again, He informed him that this Ishmael was not the son of
God’s promise but the seed of “making things happen and calling it God’s
will.” Well, He didn’t say it like that, but that’s what it was.

When he was a hundred years old and his wife was in her
nineties, they became parents of the son of promise. God referred to Isaac as
Abraham’s only son. And so Isaac
grows and eventually Abraham makes Hagar and her son, Ishmael leave so he can
devote everything he is and has to Isaac, the son of promise. Abraham taught
Isaac the ways and truth of God, but anyone who is a parent knows that we can
teach but only they can believe.

One day, God spoke to Abraham to sacrifice his son, his only
son. So, Abraham and Isaac went to the mountain where the sacrifices were made.
They start up the mountain and Isaac says to his dad, “Where’s the
sacrifice? We didn’t bring a lamb.”

Abraham kept walking. “Jehovah will provide Himself a
lamb, son.” That’s where we get the term—or name—Jehovah Jireh. The English
translation for Jireh is provide. Now another interesting thing about this
passage of scripture (Genesis 22:14) is that Jehovah means He who was and will
be. So what Abraham tells Isaac is this: “He who was and will be provides
the lamb.”

Isaac, who by this time was in his early thirties (possibly
33, the age Jesus was at His death), followed his dad up the mountain. Now,
this is where it is really interesting to me, because Isaac is a strong,
able-bodied man. He is not a boy as is reflected in all the Bible pictures and
the Sunday school curriculum. Abraham is an old man, one hundred and
thirty-ish. Isaac could have overpowered his father at the altar. He could
have, but he didn’t. He willingly went to the altar of sacrifice as an obedient
and loving son—the perfect picture of He who will come—Jesus.

So, on this day of remembrance, I choose to remember the One
who laid down His beautiful and perfect life for me—a sinner saved by grace.
The result of that act of obedience and love bought me redemption,
reconciliation to my Father and restoration of all things that Adam had before
the fall. Health and well-being are part of that. True freedom from sin and the
affects of sin are part of that life more abundantly that Jesus promised. A
duty to fight the war Adam left for us to fight.

Before I heard the gospel, I didn’t know this. I only knew
about hell and that there was a parking spot reserved for me there. But hearing
the gospel—the truly good news—made me aware I needed a Savior. I was a sinner,
but God offered me grace. I was living in the world of darkness and ignorance,
but God sent the Light and the truth that would bring me out of darkness. I was
a slave to sin and the rebel that brought sin into the world, but God, in His
mercy sent His only Son to free me so that I can sing with Martin Luther King,
Jr. and many other people oppressed by the devil: Free at last, free at last,
thank God Almighty, I am free at last.

Thank You, Jesus for Your obedience and love that brought
you to the cross. Thank You, Father for sending You’re only begotten Son that
You could have many—such as I. Thank You. I love You too.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Charles Ewing permalink
    May 27, 2011 5:27 pm

    A good reminder of who we should honor everyday, the Giver of all good and perfect gifts. Also thankful for those who did lay down their lives to show love for family and country as well.

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