FREEDOM WHENCE Rated "C" (Children Only)
We are in the midst of celebrating Independence Day (July 4) the freedom of a nation. It was a great day when man determined to be free from tyranny and oppression to govern themselves. However, merely stating the words didn't make men free. There was a price to pay in blood and in dedication to principles of freedom for all.
Likewise, it was a great day when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves. But, again, just saying the words didn't free them. There was a price to pay, a war to be fought, and even in our lifetime, the black man still looks ahead to the time when he will be truly free.
But, boys and girls, there is another tyranny that is worse than Colonial oppression or racial bondage. I refer to it as slavery of the soul. The Bible calls it sin, but in Romans, we read that Jesus has set us free from it and from its results, death. Jesus said "I am come that ye might have life" (John 10:10) But, again, merely saying the words didn't make it so. There was a price to pay, a sacrifice to be made. The most wonderful part is this, He paid the price for us and set us free! Free from the tyranny of a life in bondage to sin and free from the fear of an eternity without God. The Christian can truly say, "Thank you Jesus, I am free at last."
July 4, 1974
Have you ever thought of the importance of those two little words "I'll try" and what great things have been accomplished by those who have, with tongue in cheek and a questioning mind, have tackled some challenging task simply because there didn't seem to be anyone else that was willing? I am reminded of Isaiah in the temple as he faces the task of evangelizing a back-slidden nation-and answers God with "Here am I-send me." We could go on and on in every realm of life with the list of "I'll Try" heroes and their accomplishments but time and space forbids such listing.
Those little words are a-statement of humble faith that stands-between the extreme pessimist who says "I can't," and the optimist who says "Leave it to me, I can do it." Of course, the pessimist who says "I can't" is whipped to start with and we immediately put him on the shelf as a quitter and failure. The one who says "Leave it to me I can do it" may be capable and sincere and get the job done in tip-top shape. On the other hand, they may prove to be of the same spirit as the Peter we meet in the Judgement Hall of Pilate standing alone, bitter and ashamed because he had not had the back bone to carry through with his promises of loyalty to his Lord. Peter had miserably failed his Lord. The shamed and humbled Peter went on the Pentecost and found the power that made him truly a "rock" but forever afterward, Peter was to confess his own weakness and let all of the glory of his life be reflected upon his Christ.
When we say "I'll try" we put ourselves at the disposal of the one who asks our services, and acknowledging our frailties, we launch forth determined to do our best. Some fail. Others go on to reach the top of the ladder of success. If we give the task a good, sincere try and after we have done our best face failure, we can still hold our head up knowing that we weren't a quitter.
Our Annual Conference is now history. The reports of losses in membership the loss in average attendance at Sunday School and Worship Services, the failures to meet financial goals in foreign mission work, the unfinished tasks of removing barriers between races and minority groups, left us with a sense of awe at the great task that lies before us. What will we do about them in the coming-year or years?
Essentially, the problem is spiritual. Once the Church has stood in the presence of God as Isaiah did, and in humility have confessed that we "are of unclean lips and life" and have experienced the cleansing power of God. We like Isaiah, will cry out "Here am I, send me."
Upon the shoulders of the "I'll Try class of people rests the bulk of responsibility for the work of the Church. They have done, and they will continue to do a magnificent job. Will YOU go with me into the presence of God and in answer to His call of "Who will go for me" say out of sincere and cleanse hearts, "Here am I, send me."
July 6, 1970
On my way back from West Virginia Conference I got caught in a road repair project and as a consequence had to follow a pilot truck for a while. As I was following the pilot truck and couldn't stop, I saw the bank along the side of the road was heavily laden with an abundant crop of wild strawberries. Now, I had a yearning for wild strawberries and my mouth fairly watered for a taste of them, but I had to keep moving and consequently I got no wild strawberries.
This is a picture of life. We get behind the pilot truck of ambition, desire, or just routine service and consequently we do not get to enjoy many of the wholesome pleasures of life. They are there for us and we desire them but under the pressures of life we dare not stop and enjoy them. There are opportunities for service to our fellow-man and to God that we are willing to be pressured into passing by. There are opportunities for rewarding Christian fellowship in the church that fail to find time for. There are the "strawberries" of the fruits of the spirit (Love, joy, faith, hope, meekness, humility, long-suffering etc.) without which there will be no home in Heaven for us that we do not take the time and effort to glean to our souls through Christ. Then, all too soon, we have passed through this life and all is lost.
As of now, let us determine that Christ will be the Captain of our salvation and that the Holy Spirit will be the Pilot Truck for our life. He will see to it that there is time and opportunity to meet the needs of the soul and will lead you safely past the temptations to sin. "Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith" we can be assured of a safe and rewarding journey through life and glory beyond our fondest imaginations in the life to come.
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