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Archive for June, 2019

The Continental Congress of the United Colonies met in Philadelphia in 1776 to ponder a mighty issue – that issue was INDEPENDENCE! A long, lanky, thirty-three-year-old Virginian, Thomas Jefferson by name, was appointed to frame a document which, when read even today, sends chills up and down the spine. Many notables were at the gathering – among them John Hancock, who led off with his signature, writing it so boldly that King George II would be able to read it without putting on his specs.

The old bell ringer, who had been told to be on hand to start ringing as soon as word reached him that the Declaration of Independence had been adopted, was pessimistic, and said, “They’ll never do it! They’ll never do it!” Then, suddenly a boy appeared, running and shouting, “Ring! Ring! Ring!” And the event was history!

We who live today would do well to dedicate ourselves to the task of keeping that Liberty Bell ringing. Our New England forebears might have been quaint, gruff, and austere men, lacking somewhat in humor, but, judged by the legacy of freedom and worth they left behind, they were men of honor and integrity, and a people with a great compulsion. They would have agreed with these words from Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”

Every time we sing, “Faith of our Fathers,” we should pause to ask ourselves these questions, “Does that faith still live? Is it alive in me?” And, if so, “To what degree does it live in me?” Perhaps it is good for us to canvass a few aspects of the faith of our fathers, and allow the past to sit in judgment on the present.

At the center of that faith stood a living and almighty God who was sovereign in the affairs of men and of nations. Benjamin Franklin said, “I have lived, sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men.” It was because of that conviction, and because of a desire to worship God in freedom, that our forefathers migrated to these shores. They were willing to stake their lives on their faith – and this is the price that many of them did pay in the Revolutionary War that followed.

The wishy-washiness of much of our modern faith bears little resemblance to that which was held by those who formed and signed the Declaration of Independence. Examine the lives of many people today, both inside and outside the church, and you will often see some very shallow conceptions of God, and a shallow commitment to God. We say we love God, but we give so little of our time, energy, and material means. We accept His blessings, but refuse His cross. We pledge allegiance to Him, but we do not seek His counsel. We ask Him for forgiveness, but do not change our ways.

America’s earliest colleges were begun by the influence of the truth revealed in God’s Word. The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, and other national documents of importance were fashioned to a large degree as a result of concepts found in the Bible. The Bible must again be read, and taught, by mothers and fathers in America’s homes to their children if we are to be worthy of our heritage. Those who don’t read their Bible have no advantage over those who cannot read it.

Our forefathers were also a people who believed in worship – not all of them, of course, but those who laid our nation’s foundation on a solid foundation did. They could be found repenting of their sins. They built a legacy of freedom at great cost to themselves. John Quincy Adams said, “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make good use of it! If you do not, I shall repent it in heaven that I took the pains to preserve it.”

May we never forget the truth found in Psalm 33:12 — “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

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Perhaps you have heard the story of an out of town salesman who went into a restaurant to order breakfast. He said to the waitress, “Bring me two eggs so hard the edges are black, two slices of burned toast, and a cup of coffee so strong and black that it would throw the spoon out of the cup. Then, sit down and nag me because I’m homesick!”

The story, of course, is fictitious, but it accurately describes the kind of atmosphere going on in multitudes of marriages in America today. What started out as wedlock little by little degenerated into a deadlock. Sadly, what was intended as “a colony of heaven” became “hell on earth.”

When God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the idyllic Garden of Eden and united them in marriage, it was not just for the propagation of the human race, or for convenience sake. He intended marriage to be the primary dwelling place for happiness and well-being. He said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will create for him a helpmate” (Genesis 2:18). His plan was that marriage be a duet, not a solo.

The greatest thing any mother can do for her children is to love and honor their father. The greatest thing a father can do for his children is to love and honor their mother. The counsel for a wife to submit to her husband does not mean “to be “the slave of.” Husbands are to “love their wives as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25) – i.e., he is already submitted to her. Neither the husband nor the wife has ascendancy over the other. God designed marriage to be a shared partnership, each fulfilling his or her role. And children are to “obey their parents in all things for this is well-pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20).

The Bible teaches that when a man and a woman are joined in marriage they have become “one flesh” – one in body, one in mind, and one in spirit. A healthy marriage will involve a satisfactory physical union – the sexual relationship. A happy marriage will become one psychologically – have a similar outlook, compatible lifestyles and attitude toward life, the same goals. A holy marriage is one in which two persons are spiritually united with Jesus Christ at the center.

Husbands and wives who demonstrate that God comes first in their home – ahead of in-laws, ahead of pleasure, and ahead of everything else – will avoid senseless battles. God designed marriage to last – not until you differ on something, not until moonlight and roses becomes daylight and diapers – but “until death.” The same God who requires pre-marital chastity requires post-marital fidelity

God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman for life. But those who have had unhappy and unhealthy marriages cannot go back. You cannot unscramble eggs. Whatever has happened in the past, you can rededicate yourself anew in the here and now to God and ask for His leadership upon your life and your home. God forgives any and all past failures and sin (see I John 1:9).

What do you have in the house where you live, WEDLOCK or DEADLOCK? The answer depends on whether Christ is at the center of what happens there. You cannot have Christ in your home if you do not have Him in your heart. A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams. But the most essential element in any home is God. If He is not there, wedlock can become deadlock.

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In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus compared the giving by earthly fathers to their children with the good gifts the Father God bestows upon His children (Matthew 7:11). It is an illustration of the lower to the higher. Some gifts earthly fathers find impossible to give because of economic circumstances. However, there are gifts that are more important than any purchased gadget or toy. Let us look at some of these in the form of an acrostic using the letters in the word F-A-T-H-E-R. Dad, you should give your children these six gifts:

F Faith. If a father has faith in God and lovingly seeks to obey Him in his own personal life, he should also give his children the gift of faith. The father who sends his children out into the world without faith in God sends them out impoverished in countless ways. Dad, if you love God you will love His Word, and will try diligently to teach your children to love God’s Word. Unfortunately, many fathers are pessimistic and have a critical spirit. They share this negative attitude with the members of their family.

A Acceptance. A father who was not accepted by his own father will often be left with feelings of insecurity and depression. Not having been accepted by his father, he should work hard to make his own children feel accepted and appreciated. If children are to accept their own uniqueness and face life with a healthy self-image, they need to be accepted fully by their parents, and especially by their father.

T – Time. There are many different ways to spell the word “love.” Probably the best way a father can spell and give love to his children is with the letters T-I-M-E. Multitudes of fathers in today’s world give an inadequate amount of time to meaningful involvements with their children. They become so busy on their job, with other involvements, and in making their fortune that they are stressed out when they come home at night. Often grandfathers give more time to their grandchildren than fathers do to their children. It takes time to teach children the great things they should know. Fathers who don’t realize this make a serious mistake.

H Help. Every father can provide the help his children desperately need if he will. He does this initially by setting the right kind of example. One of the great tragedies in many homes is the unwillingness of fathers to give their children the benefit of their experience. Perhaps some fathers are poor communicators. And some children may be poor listeners and learners. Fathers can bridge that gap by conscious effort.

E – Encouragement. Everybody needs encouragement. Some need it more than others. A father can give a great gift to his children by being a constant source of encouragement to his wife. She needs acceptance, affection, and appreciation as she renders her service to the household. The father needs to be a cheerleader, encouraging his children toward the selection of high and worthy goals. He cannot do this if he is a fault-finding critic who, seeing only his children’s failures, constantly says things to discourage them.

R – Rock . . . Resource . . . and an example of Reverence. He should be a resource when one is needed and a rock of defense in times when his children face struggles and difficulties. He should teach his children to have a spirit of reverence for God, for their mother, for womanhood, for life, and for morality.

The greatest six gifts a father can give his children are these: faith, acceptance, time, help, encouragement, and reverence. Do more than just think about these guidelines, dad. Adopt them! And put them into action daily! Your job as a father, more than any other thing you may do or achieve in life, will enable you to later say as you approach the end of your life’s journey, “I have not lived in vain!”

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Several years ago I heard the story of a young couple who rang the front doorbell at a Baptist parsonage. When the pastor went to the door they asked if he would marry them. Their marriage license was genuine, so he decided to honor their request. At the conclusion of the ceremony the groom said, “How much do I owe you, preacher?”

Having a good sense of humor, and thinking it would be to his advantage to take a novel approach, he replied: “I don’t usually charge to conduct weddings, but just give me what you think your bride is worth?” The groom reached in his pocket, pulled out a dollar, and gave it to the preacher.

This puzzled the preacher, and he wondered what the bride looked like whose new husband thought she was worth only one dollar. So, he reached over, lifted the bride’s veil to get a good look, reached in his pocket, took out two quarters, and gave the groom fifty cents change.

The story is obviously just a story. It did not happen. No minister would be so rude.  And no groom would begin his marriage by telling his new bride she was worth so little to him. Even so, it contains a valid observation about life — the value you get out of anything depends on how much you are willing to invest.

Every one of us is part of a community. Some of us are members of organizations, civic or otherwise. A great many of us are members of a Christian church. What does being a member of each of these mean? This requires that we answer another question, “How much will it cost? Every organization or group to which we belong is worthy of our best effort. This is especially true of a Christian church.

Just joining a church does not make anybody a Christian. In order to become a Christian and one day go to heaven you must go to Calvary’s cross, confess your sins, lay them down, accept Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord, turn to the right, and keep straight ahead. There is no other way. Not everybody who claims the name of Christian has done that. Some are satisfied just to add their names to the church roll. Like the groom mentioned in the paragraph above, “They don’t want it to cost them very much.”

All across America there are multiplied thousands of churches whose pews are at least half empty each Sunday morning. Members who are absent may attend the Christmas cantata and on Easter Sunday. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whosoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24).

To be a dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ, you must be willing to give Him top priority in your decisions and actions. As C.T. Studd once said, “If Jesus Christ died — and died for me – then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” Yet tens of thousands of churches all across America are half empty on Sunday mornings because a large number of its members, who once made a public commitment of their life to Christ, have forgotten how important worship is to the living of the Christian life.

If you want to hear what is wrong with the church, ask a church member who hasn’t attended in the last year or so. A church member who expects to answer “when the roll is called up yonder” should give priority to being present during his lifetime on earth when the roll is called down here. “Not good if detached” is as true of church members as it is of airline tickets.

If you could sell your church membership on the open market and it was purchased for one dollar, would the buyer, once he examined its value, want you to give him back fifty cents in change?

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