Apr 17, 2013
Many years ago, the Duke of Wellington said, “Take my word for it, if you had seen but one day of war, you would pray to Almighty God that you might never see such a thing again.”
War is horrific, yet sometimes necessary to defend something more precious than life itself.
Each Memorial Day we endeavor to remember that the great heritage of our nation has a price far greater than most can conceive. Since World War I, this day in the month of May calls upon us to honor our heroes – to laud the fallen dead of our wars. On this day, we try to live out the immortal words of our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, who said in the Gettysburg address:
“[F]rom these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Recently I was reading an interesting book, titled The Fightin’ Preacher. It’s the story of Colonel Logan E. Weston, U.S. Army (retired), a veteran of three wars: World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Weston was a chaplain who also led his men in combat, which earned him a larger-than-life reputation and zealous devotion from them. Weston was also one of the most decorated soldiers in American history, receiving over 200 medals and awards, among them the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts and Legion of Merit.
In one part of his book, Weston describes the losses he and his men suffered fighting the Japanese in Burma. His words express the very essence of his service and are most eloquent and stirring:
“As we went for the final mop-up of Myitkynia, we were exhausted. In our outfit alone, one hundred and eighty-six cases of typhus fever broke out, sixty of which were fatal. Malaria, dysentery, stomach trouble, and malnutrition left us in a very poor condition, to say nothing of the weather, the leeches that sucked our blood, and of course the hardship of the mission, in addition to enemy action.
“For years afterward, I reflected on the occasion where Lieutenants Smith and Hogan took over command of my platoon. [Smith and Hogan died on the same day after taking over for Weston.] I recall the dud grenade being lobbed right at me. I remember the close calls and enemy ambushes. I know that I had been saved only by the grace of God.
“I also realized that Christ had taken my place on the cross. It should have been me, for I had earned that place on Calvary by sinning against God, but Christ stepped in, paid my bill, and took care of my obligation. He who has the power to forgive also has the power to sustain. The Lord provides not only deliverance from sin, but also deliverance in the fields of battle, if that is where the pathway of life leads us.
“In addition, many of us are here because people, just plain people, have stepped in as our replacements at the expense of their own lives that we might continue to enjoy the privileges of life in a democratic society. It’s so easy to get caught up in the trivial aspects of our day-to-day routines that we forget that fact.
“May God help us to make this life more simple for those who are confused by it; sweeter for those who might have contempt for it; happier for those who have tasted the bitterness of it; safer for those who are feeling the peril of it; friendlier for those who are feeling the loneliness of it; and holier for those whose lives seem to have lost all dignity, beauty, and meaning.”
Weston also alludes to something else in his book, which I believe, is the answer to ending all war. He says that after one skirmish an enemy soldier was shot out of a tree. He was a sharpshooter who had set up his sniper’s nest in hopes of taking out an American officer. While being interrogated, the prisoner noticed the chaplain’s cross on Weston’s Bible, which he carried in a cut-out canvas pouch on his ammunition belt.
Startled the prisoner asked the interpreter to ask Weston if he was a Christian. Weston wrote:
“He said he pulled me into very short range, got a good sight picture on my head, and began to squeeze the trigger. Just then, the sun burst through a rift in the thick jungle canopy overhead. It hit the silver chaplain’s cross on my Bible, and the cross zoomed out like a neon light, temporary blinding him. When he saw that big bright cross there in the jungle and realized what had happened, he could not shoot. He assumed I was a Christian, and he himself had been converted at a mission station in Japan just before being conscripted into the army.”
What bridges the great divide between men and makes them brothers? It is the Gospel of Christ.
This is a time for remembering. Remember the ones who served and gave their lives to secure our liberty. Remember the One who suffered and gave his life on the cross to make us free internally. Remember the promise that a day is coming when the Lord will make all wrongs right, and mankind “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4)
Many modern-day inventions are designed to help us accomplish tasks more quickly. The microwave, for example, shortens cooking time drastically, while washing machines and computers speed up other chores. New technology has the added effect of increasing life’s already fast pace as well as our desire for instant solutions.
Not every process, however, lends itself to acceleration. Consider our growth in Christ, which is known as sanctification. Being a Christian is neither an event nor a quick fix. Rather, it is a journey. There are things for us to learn along the way, and while we may unwisely choose a longer path than necessary, there really are no shortcuts.
Sadly, some people grow little after salvation. They are not encouraged in their faith or discipled well. Others fail to pursue maturity through prayer, meditation on Scripture, and fellowship. God is not pleased when His children opt for complacency. That’s why His Word tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).
Consider how spiritual development benefits believers. By learning God’s ways, we can walk in obedience and live contented, purposeful lives for His glory. We also gain the ability to discern truth from distortion.
Do you notice any change in your life and character since the day you were saved? Are you able to detect spiritual growth over the last year? Your heavenly Father wants to mature you. So make a continuous effort to cooperate with Him by reading Scripture, praying, fellowshipping, and repenting of all known sin in your life.
“He who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:3-4)
Perhaps the single greatest category of evidence for supernatural creation is in the nature of the creation itself, which everywhere shows such intricate design that it could not have come about by random chance. Consider the earth: Its size, mass, distance from the sun and moon, rotational wobble, chemical makeup, etc., are critical within very narrow limits. Any significant deviation in any of these, or other characteristics, would make life impossible.
But inorganic molecules, planets, and galaxies are simpler by several orders of magnitude than even the tiniest living organism. The marvelous genetic code that regulates life, growth, and reproduction is so unthinkably complex, so obviously designed, that it would take a “willingly . . . ignorant” (2 Peter 3:5) mind to conclude a naturalistic origin for it. Life at every stage and at every level of investigation shows symmetry in its order, purpose in its function, and interdependence between its parts; all of these are clear marks of design by an intelligent designer.
The evidence speaks so eloquently that even “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20) if they choose not to believe and therefore to merit and face His wrath (v. 18).
“All things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:16). Mankind can take no pride in it nor rebellious solace in the idea of naturalistic origin, for “thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). JDM
It is out of place, and does mischief. If then we would be honoured, we must pray against being foolish or wicked.
It flies about harmlessly and does nobody any hurt, except the man who uttered it. If we are evil spoken of for doing our duty, we need not mind, it will not harm us any more than the flying of a swallow over our head.
Follies bring us smarts. If we would be happy, God must make us wise: but if we will be foolish, the rod must be our portion.
The two texts are for two different occasions and persons. One will be best at one time, and one at another. Some men it is best to ridicule that they may see their folly and amend, but others would only be provoked by our speech, and therefore it is better to remain silent. Wisdom will direct us which course to pursue.
Nothing but loss comes from trusting vain persons.
He shows his folly when he endeavours to talk wisely, just as the cripple displays his deformity when he tries to dance. His speech is not consistent, and his discourse limps like a cripple in walking. May true religion make all of us wise.
He puts a a worthless person into a place where he can do great damage, and where he is not likely long to remain. Every sinner is like a stone in a sling, and his soul will be slung out by the hand of God, far off from his present rest and comfort.
They had better let it alone—they only hurt themselves, like drunken men playing with thorn bushes. Foolish persons are sure to expose themselves if they attempt a parable, if there be any point in it they run it into themselves before long. Out of their own mouths are they condemned.
But what terrible rewards he gives them. Lord, save us from such.
Sin is ingrained in human nature, and if you draw a man aside from it for a time, yet he naturally flies back to it. The dog must be changed into a lamb, and then he will not return to his former delight; and if fools be born again from above, they will love sin no longer.
The fool may learn, but the conceited man will not. There is more hope of a sinful Publican than of a self-righteous Pharisee.
He invents bugbears to excuse his idleness. Any falsehood will serve as an apology for his laziness. How doubly wicked this is; but a lazy person is capable of anything.
He does nothing, but considers himself a great genius. Being always half asleep he dreams that he is wise, but it is only a dream. Above all things, let us avoid conceited idleness. Let us labour with all our might, and ever cultivate a humble spirit.
We for whom God the Son came down,
And laboured for our good,
How careless to secure the crown
He purchased with his blood.
Lord, shall we lie so sluggish still
And never act our parts?
Come Holy Dove with sacred fire,
Inflame our frozen hearts.
When Paul wrote his letter to the church of Ephesus, he gave a full description of the spiritual weaponry God has provided for every believer. In Ephesians 6:16, he referred to the shield of faith. He said, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
With the imagery of a Roman soldier before him, Paul used the Roman soldier’s shield to illustrate the shield of faith that God has provided for you and me. The word “shield” is the Greek word thureos, which was used by the Greeks and Romans to depict an oblong door that was wide in width and long in length. The reason the Roman soldiers used this word to describe their battle shields was that the shields were door-shaped. They were wide in width and long in length; just like the door of a house.
Because it was wide and long, this shield completely covered the Roman soldier! This is why the Holy Spirit chose to use the word thureos as the illustration of faith. He is telling us that God has given us enough faith to make certain we are completely covered for every situation—just like the shield that completely covered a Roman soldier!
In Romans 12:3, Paul wrote, “… God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” How much faith has God given you? He has given you enough faith to make sure you are covered for any event that comes along in life!
So you don’t need to worry or fret that God has given more faith to others than He has given to you. Rest assured in the fact that God has imparted enough faith to you to make sure you are covered from head to toe! That faith, like a wide and long shield, is adequate to cover any need that will ever come along in your life!
In the majority of cases, the Roman soldier’s shield was composed of multiple layers of thick animal hide that had been tightly woven together. Usually six layers of animal hide were specially tanned and then woven together so tightly that they became nearly as strong as steel. One piece of leather is tough, but imagine how tough and durable six layers of leather would be! Because of how it was made, the shield of the Roman soldier was extremely tough and exceptionally durable!
However, the Roman soldier’s leather shield could become stiff and breakable over a period of time if it wasn’t properly taken care of. Therefore, it was necessary for him to know how to take care of it.
In order to keep those shields in good shape, the soldiers were given a daily schedule to maintain excellent condition of their shields. Each morning when the soldier was awakened, he would reach for a small vial of oil. After saturating a piece of cloth with oil, he would begin to rub, rub, and rub that heavy ointment into the leather portion of the shield to keep it soft, supple, and pliable.
Any soldier who neglected this daily application of oil and allowed his shield to go without the necessary care was in effect inviting certain death. If not correctly cared for and properly maintained, the leather portion of the shield would harden, crack when put under pressure, and finally fall to pieces. Therefore, the end result of a soldier’s failure to care for his shield was the loss of his own life.
Paul says that this shield is representative of our faith. This tells us that our faith, like the shield in Paul’s illustration, requires frequent anointings of the Holy Spirit. Without a fresh touch of God’s Spirit upon our lives, our faith will become hard, stiff, and brittle.
What happens when you ignore your faith and allow it to go undeveloped? What is the result of never seeking a fresh anointing of God’s Spirit to come upon your life? When a challenge comes your way, your faith won’t be soft, supple, and pliable enough to stand up under attack. A faith that is ignored nearly always breaks and falls to pieces in the midst of confrontation.
So don’t assume that your faith is always in top-notch shape! Instead, play it safe and assume that your faith always needs a fresh anointing. By taking this approach, you will always seek to do what is necessary to keep your faith alive, active, and well!
Lord, I want to thank You for giving me spiritual weapons! Today I am especially grateful that You have equipped me with a shield of faith that covers me from head to toe. Because You have been so gracious to provide everything I need, there is never a reason that Satan’s fiery darts should get through to me. So I ask You to help me hold my faith up high, keep it out in front, and march forward without any fear of what Satan might try to do to me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I am dressed in the whole armor of God! There isn’t a part of me that hasn’t been covered by the spiritual weaponry God has placed at my disposal. My shield of faith is working fine! It is anointed; it is strong; it is ready for any confrontation; and it will cause any dart that the enemy tries to throw at me to ricochet off without doing harm!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
We’re talking about that “Fortune 500” type who grabs the brass ring and makes things happen!
Here’s the brief autobiography of one such man:
“I acquired… ”
“I BECAME… ”
In other words, he arrived, having achieved affluence. Visibility. Status. Perhaps even respect.
And then he indulged! “I denied myself nothing… ” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-10)
But here is the kicker: According to his autobiography:
“When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11)
How is this possible? Had he not achieved it all? The answer is, “No, he had not.” And the reason?
How tragic it would be to have climbed the ladder of success, only to realize too late (as did Solomon) that you had leaned it against the wrong wall.
SO THE QUESTION IS: “Which wall is your ladder leaning against?”