As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us not forget those whose shoulders he stood upon, as we stand on his.Dr. King, a man with the courage of his convictions, was far from perfect, but he fulfilled God’s purpose.We are but a bit closer to his vision “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Let us not, however, forget those unsung heroes that are recognizable (abolitionists, doctors, lawyers, bankers, business-owners, educators, architects, preachers) and those unknown –
·those who endured beatings and bomb threats
·those denied the right to vote and other injustices
·those who survived and thrived in their segregated communities during Jim Crow
·those who recorded and recounted one of the darkest periods in American history next to slavery – public lynchings for being black
·those who educated themselves when opportunities were practically nonexistent
·those who persevered despite the odds
·those who have passed our history down from one generation to the next
·those that were and continue to be overcomers
·those who didn’t settle for mediocrity, but expected the best
The blood, sweat and tears of many black Americans have benefitted the larger society and made for a brighter future.Out of the darkness, there shown a light…miracles are often born of tragedy.
Dr. King had a modicum of hope for us to leave this world better than we found it.He and nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green were struck down by an assassin’s bullet too early.He, in his prime; Christina, mature beyond her years, was just beginning to live life -- to grasp the concept of democracy and citizenship and one who “saw public service as something exciting and hopeful.”
In the midst of another tragedy in U.S. History, Christina was one of 50 “Faces of Hope” who were born on Sept. 11, 2001.In a book by the same title, there were simple wishes for a child's life. "I hope you help those in need," read one. "I hope you know all the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart." "I hope you jump in rain puddles."
It sounds so simplistic…many of us jumped in puddles as children…in galoshes (boots) or not…those innocent times where we didn’t seem to have a care in the world.But, Christina and many other youth do care.
We could use a dose of her enthusiasm, her energy and her faith.Perhaps Dr. King said it best --
Take the first step in faith.
You don’t have to see the whole staircase,
Just take the first step.
Prayer:Father, we’ve faced many obstacles and risen above them.We’ve sought to be good stewards of that which is precious in Your sight, but have failed miserably.I am not certain why murder and mayhem is the platform used to get us focused on You and the many blessings You continue to bestow.We are so undeserving.
Please help us to wake up out of this coma we’ve been in so that those who’ve gone on to glory—those shoulders we still stand on—will not have died in vain.
Help us take that first step of faith and to “jump in rain puddles!”
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Tuesday, January 18, 2011
“We Have Lost Our Tears”
Flip Wilson is on my list of Top 10 Funniest Comedians.Although I am not a fan of cross-dressing, Geraldine came up with a few memorable lines.For example, perfectly choreographed into the skit, she would blurt out at the most appropriate times, “The devil made me do it!”She blamed the devil for everything from getting a speeding ticket to signing her husband’s name to a check to buy a new dress.
What Geraldine made us laugh about no longer seems as funny to the Christian who is really struggling with sin, and that’s just about every one of us.We fight it every day of our lives.The Apostle Paul likened the battle as a struggle between the old self and the new self, good and evil.It’s a battle that’s as old as the Garden of Eden.
“You were taught to put off your old self…to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self…”Ephesians 4:22-24.
Why do we continue to struggle with sin after becoming a Christian?Because it’s a never ending battle and the old self never completely disappears. Satan really loves to mess with our minds because of this truth.He says to us, “It’s not so bad; everybody does it; no one needs to know; just this once (that’s a good one).”
Beloved, the longer we remain captive to a particular sin, the more calloused we become toward it until that evil thing will finally have its way with us.Giving in to the desire is easy; resisting it takes effort and prayer.The more we give in to those things which hurt the mission of God, the more we give in to sin, the more indifferent we become toward the will of God for our lives.Until one day we awaken and find that sin doesn’t bother us like it once did, and that we have lost our tears.Whereas sin once left us feeling sorrowful afterward, we give it no further thought than when we decided to do it in the first place.
There is a better way than this for us:“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above…”Colossians 3:1.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, if carrying the old self around is a life sentence, I beg that you will render it impotent by my tears for having yielded to its sinful nature.Restore my new-birth passion to be like You in true righteousness and holiness.Amen and amen.
·How long is eternity?The citizens of Bullhead City, Arizona learned that eternity might last just a few months.When the city took over maintenance of Arizona Veterans Memorial Park, they had not considered the cost of keeping the perpetual flame lighted in the new Medal of Honor section of the park.The flame was extinguished when the monthly bill of $961.17 arrived.“It was unexpected,” said the city fathers.“We will work it out.”
·Someone who suffers with migraine headaches may justifiably say, “The pain seems to last an eternity!”
·When my first grader lost a battle to poison ivy, he said through his sobs while soaking in a bath tub of calamine lotion, “Daddy, will the itching last forever?”
These God-words, words like “eternity,” have meanings that reach outside our mortality and make us stretch beyond the limits of language to describe their meaning.How can we measure something as breath-taking as eternity?We can’t.The moment the descriptive words escape our lips they lose something because we speak to others through a glass that is tempered by our own experiences.And none of us have ever experienced it.
Forever?Unending?Limitless?Infinitesimal?All good words and they mean something to us, but none are totally adequate.That’s the way it is with terms which we have learned to understand by faith rather than by our understanding.
Jesus explained eternity by linking it with things that are perishable:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 (NIV)
If you are waiting to understand the meaning of eternity with your mind before you accept Jesus as Lord, I urge you to trust in Him by faith, not by your own intellect.Eternity is too long to be wrong about this single most important decision in your life.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, someone who is reading this message today needs to experience the eternal love of Jesus Christ.Will you please give them the faith they need to say “Yes!” to you?Amen and amen.
A few months ago, a dear brother in Christ shared a very profound thought: “…all I know for sure is that I don’t want what I deserve in life. I think I have figured out that I haven’t earned anything in life but have truly been blessed.”He then added, “I don’t understand God’s patience with a sinning world and with us believers whom it is hard to tell from the rest of the world.”
These few shared words paint an insightful picture of our world; a world blessed by God’s love yet shrouded by ominous dark clouds .Through a gift of love so great that it is beyond our ability to comprehend, God has made it possible for us to avoid the true and deserved compensation for our lives.We may not be able to fully grasp God’s amazing grace and love; but, fortunately for us, understanding isn’t necessary.All God asks is that we accept His Son as our Lord and Savior - “…whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
If avoiding what we truly deserve and becoming a child of God is so simple, why the ominous black clouds?Why is it hard to tell some believers from the rest of the world?
Perhaps it’s because many have misunderstood (or possibly avoided) the true meaning of “believe in.”If God was only asking us to believe that Jesus was His Son, then the devils would qualify for eternity in heaven because they also believe (James 2:19).God is asking for more that simple belief.He is asking that we become committed to Christ and put our trust in Him.Jesus Himself made it clear what it means to be committed to Him when He said, “If you love me, keep my commands” and “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me” (John 14:15, 21).
We have His commands - His Word.Like the devils, we believe He is God’s Son.So, what makes us different from the devils and the rest of the world?We love Him and we keep His commands.
Be made new in the attitude of your minds and have the same attitude, purpose and humble mind that was in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:4-7)
The 1960 Rome Olympics is remembered in the United States of America by the names of Wilma Rudolph and Cassius Clay.Rudolph became the first American woman athlete to win three gold medals in track and field despite running on a sprained ankle.Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali, won gold in the Light-heavyweight boxing event.
Few of us recall the name of New Zealander Barry Magee who placed third in the men’s marathon event.By his own admission he was “decidedly average” in his younger days but pursued long distance running at the encouragement of his dad.No one would have guessed that he would go on to hold many world records in track and field.
What changed him from a “nobody” to an athletic champion?
Barry said, “I believe it all started at a Bible class camp at the age of 14 when I said, ‘Yes’ to God.Following a sermon on Revelation 3, I opened the door and asked Christ into my heart.He came into my life, and I have never been the same again.”
Jesus said to us in Revelation 3:20-21, “I stand at the door and knock.If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne…”
Does the idea of living a victorious life appeal to you?Although you may seem to be “average” by the world’s standards you can still have the heart of a champion even if you never win a gold medal in anything.How?It has been described as “living above your circumstances,” or “never letting the negative stuff keep you down.”But I think Barry Magee understood it better.His life changed when he said “Yes!” to God, and so will yours.
Will you open the door to Jesus and let Him into your life?This is something you must do yourself, because He will never barge in without an invitation.That tug you feel on your heart right now is the gentle hand of Jesus reaching out to you.Open the door of your life and begin walking with Him today.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I would rather live and die as a “nobody” than to miss heaven because I was so busy trying to be a “somebody” that I didn’t open the door for You.Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the invitation to live a victorious life!Amen and amen.