How many times have we heard the statement, “Freedom aint free!”? It’s a statement meant to impress upon us the fact that the freedoms associated with living in this country, freedoms we hold so dear, did not come cheap. They cost the dedication, commitment and a great many lives of people who went before us to secure and insure them, not only for themselves but also for all of us who have come along later.
The Psalmist recorded Israel’s prayer to God from long ago. “Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us! Let your tender mercies come speedily to meet us, for we have been brought very low” (Ps. 79:8). The sense of the prayer is that the people ask God to forget their former sins. The text of the Psalm would seem to fit the period of Israel’s captivity in Babylon. God allowed the Babylonians to conquer Judah, destroy Jerusalem and the temple therein and take the people of the land into Babylon as captives. In time, the Medes and Persians would conquer Babylon, but it would be seventy years before the first of the people of Judah would be allowed to return to their homeland.
When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive and bring forth a Son and call His name Jesus, she was troubled. She was a virgin. The angel told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, and the son she would bear would be the Son of God. The angel further assured her that it would happen as he had said by informing her that her relative Elizabeth, who had been called barren, had also conceived and was in the sixth month of expectancy. Gabriel summed it up by saying, “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Lk. 1:26-37). What man could see no way of happening, God could perform.
When Solomon became king of Israel, God granted him a request: “Ask! What shall I give you?” (1 Kgs. 3:5). Solomon responded by humbly describing himself as “a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in” (vs. 7). He then asked God for “an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and evil” (vs. 9). Solomon’s request was for wisdom that he might lead God’s people effectively. God bestowed upon him a degree of wisdom that made him the wisest man who had ever lived (vs. 12). And, because Solomon’s request was so selfless, God bestowed upon him great wealth (vs. 13).
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). Judgment day!
Surely, none of us would believe that God is pleased when He observes the widespread division that is prevalent among those who call themselves Christians today. Perhaps the most quickly observed indicator of the division is the different names on the fronts of the church buildings. It’s not a matter of subtle differences in description, but a wide variation of names that point to all kinds of characteristics of the different religious groups. It’s interesting, and perhaps telling, as to how many of those names make absolutely no reference to either God or Christ.
Whom do we look up to? Most everyone looks up to someone. Most people look to somebody as a role model, an individual that exemplifies particular characteristics or accomplishments which they would like to emulate. We need to be careful who we look to as role models, and why we see them as such. The very concept of a role model is to look at their example and to try to be like them. If their example is flawed, we could end up reproducing the same flaw in our own lives, to our detriment. As parents, we especially need to get this understanding across to our kids.
Jesus clearly identified God’s word- scripture- as being the source of truth: "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). The Psalmist wrote the same message: “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth” (Ps. 119:142), and again, “You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth” (Ps. 119:151). It is because God is the source of scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17) that we understand scripture to be the source of truth. For that reason, we can rely upon scripture to guide us as to what is right, as to what is truly God’s will; “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105).
What elevates man above the animals? Some would say, “Intellect, superior intellect is what elevates man above the animals.” A pretty good answer, on a surface level basis, but incorrect. Man is above the animals because God created man, and not the animals, in God’s own image, and He subsequently put the animals under the dominion of man (Gen. 1:26-28; 5:1; 9:1-2).
After the battles to conquer the promised land had been fought and won, Joshua gathered the people of Israel together at Shechem and addressed them (Josh. 24:1-2). During his discourse to them he admonished, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). Joshua could have worded it differently: “make a choice,” “make up your mind,” “ make a commitment,” “take a stand…” Whatever the expression, his point to them was simple. They had to “choose.”
Gary L. Hutchens