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ABRAHAM LINCOLN: MERIT YOUR FREEDOM
In the last days of the Civil War, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia, fell to the Union army. Abraham Lincoln insisted on visiting the city. Even though no one knew he was coming, slaves recognized him immediately and thronged around him. He had liberated them by the Emancipation Proclamation, and now Lincoln’s army had set them free. According to Admiral David Porter, an eyewitness, Lincoln spoke to the throng around him: "My poor friends, you are free—free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it ... . Liberty is your birthright."
But Lincoln also warned them not to abuse their freedom. "Let the world see that you merit [your freedom]," Lincoln said, "Don’t let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them."
That is very much like the message Jesus gives to those whom he has liberated by his death and resurrection. Jesus gives us our true birthright—spiritual freedom. But that freedom isn’t an excuse for disobedience; it forms the basis for learning and obeying God’s laws. It gives us direction in action.
(From a sermon by Christopher Surber, All Things are Possible with God, 8/15/2012)
Steven Simala Grant
Let me tell you a story from Alberta history: Cree Chief Maskepetoon met Rev. Robert Rundle, and at their first meeting declared "I will never become a Christian as long as there are horses to steal and scalps to take." Nevertheless Maskepetoon became a staunch friend to Rundle and his attitude towards religion began to change. He became a great and feared warrior, but then later became a Christian and a champion of peace.
John McDougall (son of pioneer missionary George, for whom McDougall United is named) later told about the murderer who stopped to shake hands with him while he was traveling with Maskepetoon. When John said "This man wants to shake hand with you," Maskepetoon, apparently under great strain, gave his hand in greeting. He later said to John, "that man killed my son and I often longed to kill him but because I wanted to become a Christian I have kept, with great effort, from avenging my son’s murder. Meeting your father and sitting beside you has softened my heart and now I have given him my hand. It was a hard thing to do but it is done and he need fear no longer as far as I’m concerned."
The story continues: on another occasion the Crees were camped near what is now the city of Wetaskiwin when the Blackfoot asked for a truce. The truce was granted and the Blackfoot came to smoke the pipe of peace. One of their number had murdered Maskepetoon’s father years earlier.
Maskepetoon saw this old warrior, his father’s killer, approach with the others. He ordered his best horse saddled and brought to the tent, then ordered the culprit to stand before him. The murderer expected to be killed. Instead he was asked to be seated. The Chief handed him his best, richly decorated suit. Then Maskepetoon spoke, "you killed my father. The time was when I would have gloried in drinking your blood, but that time is past. You need not fear. You must now become a father to me. Wear my clothes, ride my horse. Tell your people that this is the way Maskepetoon takes revenge."
"You have killed me, my son!" cried the old murderer. "Never in the history of my people has such a thing as this been known. My people and all men will say ’The young Chief is brave and strong and good. He stands alone.’"
Do you see the power of forgiveness? It turned a fierce warrior, who desired nothing more that to steal horses and men’s scalps, into a man who could shake the hand of the man who killed his son. It turned him into a man who could look his father’s murdered in the eye and say, “you killed my father, you must now become a father to me. Wear my clothes, ride my horse.” I want to leave that image in your mind, because it is almost the exact thing that God says to you and I: “Your sin hurt me deeply. You killed my son – your sin killed my son. Wear my clothes, ride my horse. You must now become a son to me.”
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, future US Presidents, were among the delegates meeting at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia, on March 23, 1775, considering a resolution sending Virginia troops to the Revolutionary War. The Virginia House of Burgesses was unconvinced. Finally, Patrick Henry spoke. He concluded:
"What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
Reportedly, those in attendance, upon hearing the speech, also shouted, "Give me liberty or give me death!"
That passionate speech is credited with turning the tide. It is one of the most passionate lines from the American Revolution. It changed the course of history.
That line reminds me of a passionate prayer, prayed over 200 years earlier. John Knox prayed "Give me Scotland or I die."
John Knox was described as low in stature and of a weakly constitution. A contemporary, Mr. Thomas Smeaton, said, "I know not if God ever placed a more godly and great spirit in a body so little and frail."
When that frail body went to his knees, Mary, Queen of Scots, trembled. She said she feared the prayers of John Knox more than the combined armies of Europe.
Larry Christenson in his book, The Christian Family, says John Knox prayed with such power that all Scotland was awakened. He goes so far as to attribute the whole reformation of Scotland to Knox's prayers. He writes, "'Lord, Give me Scotland or I'll die!' [Knox] cried. And he prayed with such intensity that the Lord answered."
THE MOST IMPORTANT FREEDOM
Patrick Henry was a famous statesman and orator of colonial Virginia. In 1764 he was elected to the House of Burgesses where he became a champion of the frontier people, supporting their rights against the arrogant exercise of power by the aristocracy.
In 1774 he was a delegate to the First Continental Congress. In 1775, before the Virginia Provincial Convention, which was deeply divided between those who supported England and those who desired freedom, he uttered his most famous words, "Give me liberty or give me death!"
During the Revolutionary War he became commander-in-chief of Virginia’s military forces, a member of the Second Continental Congress, helped draw up the first constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and was largely responsible for drawing up the ammendments to our Constitution known as the Bill of Rights.
He became Virginia’s first governor, and was re-elected four times. Then he retired from public life, but despite his strong objections the people went ahead and re-elected him Governor for the 5th time. But he meant what he said, so he refused to take the office.
He was offered a seat in the U.S. Senate, and posts as ambassador to Spain and to France. President George Washington asked him to join his cabinet and become Secretary of State, and later wanted to appoint him the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But he refused all such honors and recognitions.
Listen to these words from him: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians - not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Chris...
Wade Hughes, Sr
Flag Folding & The Meaning of Each Fold!
I guess this settles the "One Nation Under God" debate once and for all.
Do you know that at military funerals, the 21 gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776?
Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention correctly folding the American flag 13 times?
You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!
The 1st fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
The 2nd fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
The 4th fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.
The 5th fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decaur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.
The 6th fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The 7th fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.
The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense
of our country since they were first born.
The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews’ eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity
and glorifies, in the Christians’ eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely
folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of
our nation’s motto, "In God We Trust."
After the flag is completely folded and tucked in,
it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever
reminding us of the soldiers who served under
General George Washington, and the Sailors
and Marines who served under Captain John
Paul Jones, who were followed by their
comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces
of the United States, preserving for us the rights,
privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.
There are some traditions and ways of doing
things that have deep meaning. In the future,
you’ll see flags folded and now you will know why.
As I was growing up with a younger brother and sister, one of our favorite games to play was baseball. We had a plastic bat and ball, and we would team up with some of the neighborhood kids and play ball in the back yard.
On one particular occasion my mom took our bat away from us because we were arguing, like all brothers and sisters tend to do. But this did not deter us from playing our favorite game. Mom took the bat, but not the ball. So we took the metal brace from the swing set (the metal bar that is used to brace two legs together on each end) and started using it as a bat.
I was at bat when I swung at a pitch and felt two distinct points of contact; one was with the ball, and the second was with my sister’s head. I didn’t realize that she had walked up behind me, and on my follow through I clobbered her on the forehead with the end of the brace.
I turned around only to discover that my sister was screaming and bleeding profusely. In fact, not much of her face was really visible because she was covered in blood. I knew I was in trouble, so while my sister bled and cried, I pleaded with her not to tell momma. I figured that washing her down with the water hose to get rid of the blood would be enough to take care of the situation. Once the bleeding stopped, I would be in the clear. But in my panic to discover a way to keep from getting a good whipping, I couldn’t see that the greater need was for my sister to receive medical attention. She had to be taken to the emergency room where she received several stitches to bind up her wound.
The point of this story is this. When my mom came out to find out what was going on, she didn’t stop to dwell on how guilty I was for disobeying her, or to find out every detail about what had happened. As soon as she saw the blood, she swept my sister up in her arms, carried her into the house to put a bandage on her head, and drove her to the hospital so that she could get the medical attention she desperately needed. As a matter of fact, the whipping I deserved never came. My mom’s actions showed that her concern for my sister’s health and well-being was more important than trying to blame somebody for the accident that had caused her injuries, or for punishing the one who was responsible.
Pastors need to learn that lesson.
So many times we have been guilty of preaching on sin just so we can point a finger of blame at someone who has stumbled under the load of temptation that Satan brings to bear upon us. God forgive us for our arrogance and our shortsightedness. Forgive us for falling short of our God-given responsibility to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised (Luke 4:18). Our obligation as pastors is not only to warn people of sin and the consequences it brings, but also to bind the wounds of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have been victimized by the enemy, and to tell those who have never known the washing of regeneration that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay their sin debt, that His blood can wash away all of your sins, and that He rose from the dead to prove that He has power over death, hell and the grave.
Christians need to learn that lesson.
How many of us have been guilty of shooting our wounded? How many have kicked a brother or sister when they were down, rather than bearing their burden, and helping to restore them back into the sweetness of full fellowship with our Lord? We ought to be ashamed, for the Church is to be our refuge, our safe haven, and our place of restoration. But all too often it becomes a place of torment and ridicule because of those who have forgotten to “consider themselves, lest they also be tempted.”
Some of you this morning have been through the ringer in your battle with sin this week. You’re battered and bloodied from the near lethal blows that Satan has inflicted upon you, and you desperately need medical attention, the kind of medical attention that only Jesus Christ can give. So I stand before you today, not with a pointed finger, but with outstretched hands, pleading with you to come this morning and be washed in the pure refreshing waters of God’s abundant grace and mercy. You need to be washed, to clean your feet. You’ve already been bathed in His loving grace and mercy. But you need to come to Jesus, confessing your sins and you will experience complete and total forgiveness and cleansing. Your fellowship will be restored, and your hope will be renewed. You’ve struggled with sin long enough. Now is the time to come back into the grace and mercy of the Lord.
Others of you may just simply be lost. You’ve washed your feet many times. You’ve turned over a new leaf only to find the same old dirty sin on the other side. You’ve attended church, and maybe even been baptized and joined the church. But you’ve never trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from your sins. Friend, let me tell you, because I love you, that if you don’t come to know Jesus Christ in the full pardon of sin, your eternal destination is hell. But if you come, you must come trusting in nothing but the shed blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse you all of your sins. You can’t do anything to earn His favor, and you can’t bring anything with you but a broken heart and a contrite spirit. You can’t get better to come to Him. You can only plead with Him to forgive you as you are, a worthless sinner begging for mercy and pardon. You can only come to Jesus Christ in absolute unworthiness to ask Him for His free gift of salvation.
(Mona Claren, The Washington Times, 1997) “LAI MAN PENG WAS A 22 YEAR OLD CHINESE CHRISTIAN EVANGELIST. IN 1994, AT A MEETING OF ONE OF CHINA’S HOUSE CHURCHES (A NON-GOVERNMENT-SANCTIONED PRAYER MEETING), HE AND FOUR OTHER EVANGELISTS WERE SEIZED BY AGENTS OF THE PUBLIC SECURITY BUREAU, CHINA’S KGB. IN FRONT OF THE CONGREGATION, MR. LAI & THE OTHERS WERE SEVERELY BEATEN. THE SECURITY OFFICERS NEXT HANDED THE TRUNCHEONS TO THE CONGREGANTS & ORDERED THEM TO BEAT THE PREACHERS, ON PAIN OF BEING BEATEN THEMSELVES. MR. LAI WAS SO BADLY INJURED THAT THE SECURITY TEAM FEARED HE WOULD DIE IN THEIR PRESENCE (LEAVING TOO MUCH TO EXPLAIN), SO THEY RELEASED HIM. HE CRAWLED & HOBBLED FOR SEVERAL MILES ATTEMPTING TO REACH HIS HOME, BUT FINALLY COLLAPSED & DIED ON THE ROAD. SUCH PERSECUTION IS COMMONPLACE IN CHINA. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORTS CASES OF CHRISTIAN WOMEN HUNG BY THEIR THUMBS FROM WIRES & BEATEN WITH HEAVY RODS, DENIED FOOD & WATER & SHOCKED WITH ELECTRIC PROBES.”
2. THE UNITED NATIONS REPORTS THAT THE MILITANT ISLAMIC GOVERNMENT OF CENTRAL AFRICAN SUDAN HAS DECLARED A SYSTEMATIC BATTLE AGAINST CHRISTIANS. SINCE 1982, 300,000 SUDANESE CHRISTIANS HAVE BEEN KILLED. EACH YEAR HUNDREDS OF CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS ARE SOLD INTO SLAVERY & TAKEN WHERE THEY HAVE TO WORK AS SLAVES OR AS CONCUBINES FOR THEIR MUSLIM MASTERS. (Religious Liberty Commission of World Evangelical Fellowship)
THEY PAID THE PRICE
Americans, you know the 56 men who signed our Declaration of Independence that first 4th of July--you know they were risking everything, don’t you? Because if they won the war with the British, there would be years of hardship as a struggling nation. If they lost they would face a hangman’s noose. And yet there where it says, "We herewith pledge, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor," they did sign. But did you know that they paid the price?
When Carter Braxton of Virginia signed the Declaration of Independence, he was a wealthy planter and trader. But thereafter he saw his ships swepted from the seas and to pay his debts, he lost his home and all of his property. He died in rags.
Thomas Lynch, Jr., who signed that pledge, was a third generation rice grower and aristocrat--a large plantation owner--but after he signed his health failed. With his wife he set out for France to regain his failing health. Their ship never got to France; he was never heard from again.
Thomas McKean of Delaware was so harrassed by the enemy that he was forced to move his family five times in five months. He served in Congress without pay, his family in poverty and in hiding.
Vandals looted the properties of Ellery and Clymer and Hall and Gwinett and Walton and Heyward and Rutledge and Middleton. And Thomas Nelson, Jr. of Virginia raised two million dollars on his own signature to provision our allies, the French fleet. After the War he personally paid back the loans wiping out his entire estate; he was never reimbused by his government. And in the final battle for Yorktown, he, Nelson, urged General Washington to fire on his, Nelson’s own home, then occupied by Cornwallis. And he died bankrupt. Thomas Nelson, Jr. had pledged his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor.
The Hessians seized the home of Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey. Francis Lewis had his home and everything destroyed, his wife imprisoned--she died within a few months. Richard Stockton, who signed the Declaration of Independence, pledging his life and his fortune, was captured and mistreated, and his health broken to the extent that he died at 51. And his estate was pillaged.
Thomas Heyward, Jr. was captured when Charleston fell. John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside while she was dying; their thirteen children fled in all directions for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves and returned home after the War to find his wife dead, his children gone, his properties gone. He died a few weeks later of exhaustion and a broken heart.
Lewis Morris saw his land destroyed, his family scattered. Philip Livingston died within a few months of hardships of the War.
John Hancock, history remembers best, due to a quirk of fate--that great sweeping signature attesting to his vanity, towers over the others. One of the wealthiest men in New England, he stood outside Boston one terrible night of the War and said, "Burn Boston, though it makes John Hancock a beggar, if the public good requires it." He, too, lived up to the pledge.
Of the 56 signers of the Declaration, few were long to survive. Five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes--from Rhode Island to Charles...
Since the Bible and the Ten Commandments have been taken out of our schools in the last 40+ years, we now have epidemic problems with teen pregnancy and Sexual diseases; epidemic drug and alcoholic problems, and violence in our schools to such an extent that we have never seen in the history of our Nation. SOMETHING HAPPENED IN AMERICA IN 1962: a. When our Courts ruled completely opposite to the Religious Principles our nation had been founded upon in 1962, our society has went into a moral freefall. b. Before 1962 Unwed births to girls ages 10 to 14 were steady and relatively rare. After 1962, the graph shows an increase of 325% ..... c. Sexually-transmitted Diseases to High School students were relatively rare before 1962. Since then STD’s are at epidemic proportions in our kids. d. Violent Crime since 1962 has shot up 995% e. In 1950’s a survey of teachers showed the biggest problem in schools was chewing gum and shooting spit wads. Can you believe it? f. Peter Marshall stated the following about the condition of our nation: i. He sites other indicators which point to the spiritual and moral bankruptcy of Americans: 1. There are two million Americans in prison the largest ever. 2. There are forty five million with Genital Herpes in this country. 3. There are 900,000 cases of HIV Aids in this country. 4. In Americans 10 and older 30% are carrying a sexually transmitted disease. 5. But even these indicators are not as bad as the next one he shared. He noted that 50% of Born Again believers in America do not believe in Absolute truth or in absolute principles of right and wrong. g. The Divorce rate in America since 1962 has steadily risen 111% to where America is leading the World now in divorce. h. The SAT Test as a standard measurement of education achievement for our children was began in 1926 and later standardized in 1941 as the same test we have had up until recently when it had to be ’dumbed down’. The SAT rates were steady up until 1962. Since God and prayer were kicked out of our schools in 1962 and the children were taught they evolved from mud and slime, the SAT scores declined 18 years in a row Unprecedented For the first time in history, the student’s scores were 80 points less then the previous generation of their parents Just recently our ’Educators’ from the NEA had the SAT dumbed down the test because boys and girls in America were scoring so poorly 2. This little bit of analysis shows that taking God out of our lives will cause a moral free for all in society and in the end it will destroy America and its people. The founding fathers knew this and they warned us not to believe the lies of the enemy but to follow the truth a. Here are a series of quotes from the Founding Fathers warning us not to forsake the Bible and its teachings these quotes are form the same website above and from lectures by Peter Marshall on Restoring America: “The very men who WROTE the Constitution admit that this nation and its Judicial System was founded upon the Bible and the Ten Commandments. It was done intentionally to preserve this nation from collapse.” i. James Madison - (4th President of the United States and known as the ’Father of the Constitution’) "We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." ii. John Jay was the first Chief Justice of our Supreme Court and one of the 3 top men in the formation of our Constitution. He said Americans should ’select and prefer Christians as their rulers" When is the last time you heard a Supreme Court Judge say that? iii. To show that this nation was built on the Bible and Christian Principles, listen to what Patrick Henry, that patriot and Founding Father of our country said: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not be religionists but by Christians....not on religions but ton the Gospel of Jesus Christ." iv. Listen to what our first President, George Washington, said, "It is impossible to rightly govern....without God and the Bible." v. "Can the Liberties of a Nation be secure when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are the gift of God." - Thomas Jefferson vi. "The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time." - Thomas Jefferson vii. "Suppose a Nation is some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited....What a Utopia What a Paradise would this Nation be" - John Adams 3. 52 of the 55 Framers of the Constitution were members of the Orthodox Established Churches in the Colonies. A Secularized United States without any reference to God and the Bible whatsoever was the farthest thing from the minds of these men. 4. In New England - 1777 - Because of the War, Bibles from England were cut off. Patrick Allison, Chaplain of Congress, placed before the Body a petition praying for immediate relief. A special Congressional Committee ordered 20,000 Bibles which were imported from Holland, Scotland, or elsewhere, into the different parts of the States of the Union. a. These Bibles were to be given to students in school so they could learn using the Bible. 5. The University of Houston was commissioned to do a 10 year study on the Founding Fathers and their writings to see their intentions and if they intended America to be founded on Christian Principles and the Bible or complete separation from religion. They surveyed over 15,000 documents of the Founding Fathers during that 10 year period. They found 3,154 direct quotes from the Founding Fathers themselves. 34% of those direct quotes were from the Bible itself 60% were from men who were directly influenced by the Bible. One example was Blackstone, whose law books were considered the basis upon our Supreme Court and Judiciary System were built, and were the Law Books of Reference for about almost 120 years. Blackstone quoted so many Bible verses in his law books that a law student named FINNEY was saved and became a great evangelist......from reading Blackstone’s Law books So they found that 94 % of the quotes of the founding fathers were either directly or indirectly from the Bible
My wife tells of two high school graduates who had grown up in the wide-open spaces of the Texas Panhandle. Both received basketball scholarships to attend a small college in the dense forests of the Piney Woods of east Texas. Although they were eager to come and play basketball they both left after only one semester. The problem...They stated that they felt like they were going to "suffocate" not being able to see further than the East Texas woods allowed. Spiritually, we are much like that. Once we have "Breathed" in the wide open spaces of God’s grace we find it hard to live anymore in a confined space. Maybe that’s what Isaiah 49:20 speaks of when it says "This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in."