VIDEO Memorial Day 2021

Not long ago I stopped in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, and visited a cemetery said to be the birthplace of Memorial Day.

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations… Exodus 12:14

We often make the trip to our lake cottage in Indiana over the Memorial Day weekend to “open up the place.” It’s a family tradition that dates back to around 1910. And if things follow their normal course, I’ll take Mother, who still lives in my birthplace, Montpelier, Ohio, out to Riverside Cemetery where we’ll place flowers on the graves of our loved ones. Homegrown flowers–peonies and irises–were the bouquets of choice when I was growing up, because they usually came into bloom about this time of year.

At my father’s grave, Mama will point to the vacant space next to his, and remind me again that that is where she will be laid to rest. She won’t say it forebodingly–her Christian faith is too strong for that–but matter-of-factly. I think she wants to prepare me. I’m prepared. Only a few yards to the east are some plots reserved for my family.

Not long ago I stopped in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, and visited a cemetery said to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. There, three young women—Emma Hunter, Sophie Keller and Elizabeth Myers—began the custom of decorating soldiers’ graves in 1864, while the Civil War was still being fought. They wanted to recognize the contributions of villagers who had paid the ultimate price, and they did it with what was at hand, some homegrown flowers.

The idea of decorating graves caught on, and today, because of the thoughtfulness of Emma, Sophie and Elizabeth, millions of people across the nation this Memorial Day will remember with deep affection those whose lives once touched theirs.

Teach us, Lord, the best way to pay an unpayable debt is to show with our lives that we didn’t forget.

by Fred Bauer From Daily Guideposts


Memorial Day 2021 – We Remember

Major Michael Davis O’Donnell wrote this two months before his crew went MIA:

“If you are able, save them a place inside of you and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go.

Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not have always.

Take what they have left and what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own.

And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind.”

Major Michael Davis O’Donnell

January 1, 1970

Dak To, Vietnam


Memorial Day 2021 – We Remember

Worth It, or Worthy?

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain. Revelation 5:12

Helen Roseveare, an English missionary physician in the African Congo, was taken prisoner by rebels during the Simba Rebellion in 1964. Beaten and abused by her captors, she suffered terribly. In the days that followed, she found herself asking, “Is it worth it?”

As she began to ponder the cost of following Jesus, she sensed God speaking to her about it. Years later she explained to an interviewer, “When the awful moments came during the rebellion and the price seemed too high to pay, the Lord seemed to say to me, ‘Change the question. It’s not, ‘Is it worth it?’ It’s ‘Am I worthy?’ ” She concluded that in spite of the pain she had endured, “Always the answer is ‘Yes, He is worthy.’ ”

Through God’s grace at work within her during her harrowing ordeal, Helen Roseveare decided that the Savior who had suffered even death for her was worthy to be followed no matter what she faced. Her words “He is worthy” echo the cries of those surrounding Jesus’ throne in the book of Revelation: “In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ ” (5:12).

Our Savior suffered and bled and died for us, giving Himself entirely, so that we may freely receive eternal life and hope. His all deserves our all. He is worthy!

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

How does Jesus’ death and resurrection prove He’s greater than any circumstance you face? In what ways will you tell Him He’s worthy today?

You are always worthy to be worshiped, Jesus! Please help me to live today in Your presence with a grateful heart

Sunday Reflection: Beauty in Weakness

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

As early as the 1600s, Japanese embroiderers reinforced garments with special stitching known as sashiko—a word meaning “little stabs.” The technique uses repeated lines or geometric shapes in white cotton thread on traditional indigo blue cloth. The process was used to cover holes or strengthen cloth that had seen better days, and it left the fabric thicker and stronger than before.

Sashiko is an apt metaphor for the believer’s life. When the Bible says, “We are the clay, and [God] our potter” (Isa. 64:8), it emphasizes His role in shaping our faith and character. Though we may continue to struggle with various frailties and challenges, Jesus—through the Holy Spirit—is in the process of remaking us in His image (2 Corinthians 3:17-18) and helping us be His hands and feet in the world. We can’t avoid darkness or pain in this life. But we can go to the Lord in our weakness, knowing that in Him we are made stronger and more beautiful, not in spite of our trials but because of them.

Think about it
• When we’re in the middle of hardship, it’s difficult to see how good could result. But can you think of a time you went through a trial and it ended up strengthening your faith?

Man Must Repent

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:10-11)

From the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed their Creator in the Garden, humanity has attempted to deflect conscious acceptance of guilt. Adam blamed God because “the woman” was given to him by the Creator. Eve blamed the serpent—and you and I have continued that reaction ever since.

That is precisely why repentance is a requirement for salvation. When Adam rebelled, the relationship between man and God was destroyed: “By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation” and “by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Romans 5:18-19). All men have “no hope, and [are] without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

The death that entered the world because of Adam (Romans 5:12) not only introduced physical death into the entire creation (Romans 8:22) but a spiritual separation from the life of God, as well, that eliminated the possibility of our comprehending God’s nature. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). For millennia God bore man’s ignorance of what God was going to do through Christ Jesus at Calvary by faith in the promise of the coming “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).

Each of us must change our mind and admit we are sinful and desperately need God’s gracious forgiveness, praying, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). HMM III

Down From the Mountain

Matthew 17:14-21

FROM the mountaintop of transfiguration the Lord leads the disciples down the road to practical service. He finds the other disciples powerless to cast out a demon from a possessed youth. The desperate father pleads, “If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus answers, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” It reminds us of His word to the blind men, “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matt. 9:29).

How poorly we have learned this lesson! Our faith is the measure of our blessing. Today faith is being extolled for its own sake as though it mattered not what we believe, just so we believe something with all our might. So we are told that prayer is valuable for its own reflex action upon the one who prays. But the value of faith depends upon the object of faith. All things are possible to him that believeth if he believes in Him with whom all things are possible!

But when the Lord is the object of faith, then the measure of blessing and achievement is in proportion to that faith. Truly we need to cry out today as did the father of this boy, “Lord, I believe: help thou mine unbelief.”

Our Lord reproves the faithless disciples and declares that such goes not out but by prayer and fasting. If we accept the consensus of scholars that this verse is not in the original, the fact remains that we do not have such power and such faith—and we still believe that it comes the way of prayer, and most of us would do well to change from feasting to fasting.

There are plenty of demons to be cast out today, demons entrenched in the soul and societies and men—but we lack the power. We speak not with authority. Christians and churches stand embarrassed and defeated before the modern demoniacs. When Thomas Aquinas visited the Vatican, the Pope said as they viewed the splendors: “No longer does the Church have to say, ‘Silver and gold have I none’.” “True,” answered Aquinas, “but neither can she say, ‘Rise and walk’!”

To this passage (Matt. 17:14-23; Mark 9:14-32; Luke 9:37-45) Matthew adds the incident of the coin in the fish’s mouth. The tax was due, and our Lord could have claimed exemption as Son of God, but He was willing to forego His rights and pay it by a miracle. We Christians may learn a needed lesson here. There are many obligations from which we may feel exempt, but rather than offend others it is best to meet them. There are many little duties which often are irksome and which, strictly speaking, do not bind us, but we are still in the world and must forego personal privilege time and again, so long as no principle is involved. If the King of glory was willing to be bothered with so small a matter as temple tax, we should not grow too important to overlook such small items. Notice our Lord said to Peter, “Give unto them for Me and thee.” The Lord shares with His servant! If He is with us, He shares life’s ordinary cares, even our taxes!

The Danger of Denial

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.—John 8:32

It may be difficult for you to admit that perhaps your heart and your head are not spiritually coordinated. Many Christians are content to live above the waterline and insist that it is quite unnecessary to wrestle and struggle with the things that go on deep inside us. Their motto is: just trust, persevere, and obey. This is fine as far as it goes, but in my opinion it does not go far enough.

The effect of this teaching is to blunt the painful reality of what the Bible says about the condition of the human heart: “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it? I, Yahweh, examine the mind” (Jr 17:9-10). It is possible for even mature Christians to be self-deceived, to not really know their own hearts. This is why we must live in constant dependence on God, inviting Him from time to time, as did the psalmist, to “search me, God, and know my heart” (Ps 139:23).

There is a word to describe the attitude of those who ignore what may be going on deep inside them and concentrate only on what they can see above the waterline, and that word is denial. In many Christian circles, maintaining a comfortable distance from what may be going on deep down inside is strongly encouraged. But nothing can be gained from denial. In fact, I would say it is one of the major reasons why our feet are not like “hinds’ feet” and why we slip and slide on the slopes that lead upward to a deeper understanding and knowledge of God.

Prayer

God, I realize I am dealing with something too devastating to pass over quickly or lightly. Help me be aware of the tendency that is in me to deny that I deny. Stay close to me at this moment, dear Father, for without You I can do nothing. Amen.

Further Study

Gl 6; Rm 6:16-23

What was Paul’s word to the Galatians?

How are we to walk?

Reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:19

Reconciliation is one of the Apostle Paul’s great themes, one of his flaming certainties. “Now then!” cried he to the Corinthians, who dwelt in the center and seat of worldly wisdom, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Reconciliation is both a message and a mystery. But because there is mystery in the heart of this great fact it is not therefore to be rejected. We dwell in the midst of mysteries, and we are ourselves mysterious creatures. Our unresolved interrogatives circle the globe and fill the skies, but we go on living, though we fail in knowing. So many facts must be accepted without explanation. This is true of spiritual as well as of material things.

Look with me at this lovely word reconciliation. It fills the mind with a healing color, like that of a golden sunset, closing with its quiet benison of a stormy day. It is as quiet and potent as a falling tear, when repentance and forgiveness meet, as sacred as the kiss that ends a quarrel and disperses misunderstanding, as strong as the renewed clasp of friendship when hands that have been separated are joined again in a touch warm and strong.

The initiative in reconciliation comes from God. Calvary is God breaking through to save us. There was no precedent for Calvary: there has been no repetition. It is unique and final.

Calvary cries aloud to men, “Come here, come near, and see what is God’s mind toward you!” Stand at the cross and wonder and pray, for here was made possible the greatest moral miracle, divine forgiveness.

Luther said, “Sin is a knot which it needs a God to unravel.” In Christ, the fact of sin and the fact of forgiveness are brought together, the legally irreconcilable are “made one” at the cross.

We are all hopeless moral and spiritual bankrupts. We face the tragedy of life’s insolvency—our wasted capital, our disappointing or bitter dividends. Into this hopeless reckoning comes Christ, the Reconciler, compensating for our inadequacy, building again our wasted reserves, supplying the equation which balances and integrates the disordered life. He reconciles life’s accounts and meets human deficit by divine forgiveness.

Never again can you hold yourself cheap, never again admit the inevitability of your own failure, if once you see human personality at Calvary’s valuation. There stands at the cross, in the midst of our turmoil and sin, its loving and unchanging message to all mankind, “Be reconciled to God!”

Albert Orsborn, The War Cry