Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Red, White, and Reu

I never thought I would love another. After loving my wife and our sweet daughter Abigail, I thought I didn't have any more love to give, but my love for our son Reuben grows day by day as I get to know him better. He is just over a month old now.

Here's our little guy dressed for the 4th of July. Like many Americans, we celebrated Independence day by dressing up in red, white, and blue and having a cookout. In fact, Karen and I went to one set of neighbors for a cookout at lunchtime and then a different set for dinner. I am pretty full of meat today. It was a great day of food and friends and enjoying our family.

I feel like I should say something deep and meaningful about freedom since today is the 4th. Freedom is something we take for granted... soldiers have died... America is the best... You've heard all these sorts of things before, so I will take a different angle.

It is true that Americans (including myself) enjoy amazing freedom that was bought at a costly price that we often take for granted. But let's look beyond that and realize that anything that we have that is good comes from God.
Matthew 5:45 For he [God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

All people on the earth are blessed by God in some way. We should first of all be thankful to God, the Creator. As the verse above shows, we are living in a time when good and evil people alike are enjoying living, breathing, eating, etc. Even people who don't acknowledge God and commit wicked crimes like rape are often not brought to justice and live relatively comfortable lives. However,
it is appointed for man to die once, and after
that comes judgment... (Hebrews 9:27)
Judgment? That's right all people will be judged by God and He will punish them justly for what they have done in this life because He is a holy and perfect God. No longer will the wicked person sin and flip God off and go on living in comfort. God will send them to Hell.

Woah, Barry, what does this have to do with freedom? Everything. People talk about freedom as being able to do what they want. But people already do whatever they want to everyday. If you don't believe me then watch the nightly news. So that is not where true freedom is found.

Many people turn to religion hoping to be free from drug addictions, poverty, divorce, and other problems in their lives. But no one can be completely insulated from these problems. How many people do you know who die rich, healthy, happily married, free from addictions, and pain? True freedom is not found in solving these problems.

What about guilt? Can you feel it piling up? You lie, steal, swear, hate, lust, and other things you don't want to admit and wish you could get rid of the guilt or those who make you feel guilty. Or perhaps you learn to justify it through lame, just-so, reasoning that always makes YOU the exception to the rule. I know, I have done the same thing.

What if we could be forgiven for our sins? What if we did not have to fear the judgment of a holy God when we die who demands nothing short of perfection? Would that be true freedom? Yes! To be free from the guilt of our sins... To know that a God who can throw you into what is described as an everlasting fire has pardoned you... That would be freedom. No country could take that away. No gunpoint, torture, disease, poverty, could erase that eternal freedom.

But how can this be? The way I described God above sounds like every person who ever lived would fall short of God's perfection and be condemned to Hell.

God himself is the answer. Only He is perfect and could pay the punishment for our sins. Because God is not only holy but also loving, He sent His son, Jesus, to earth to be a man and pay the punishment that scum like you and me deserve. Jesus, being fully God and fully man, could pay the infinite price that mankind owed. Jesus did this as a sacrifice for us by dying on a cross. He was a sinless man and the only one who could pay the penalty for the wrath of God that you deserve. On the third day after dying, Jesus rose from the dead which shows that death had no power over him.

What you need to do to be truly free is to cry out to God and admit that you have broken His laws, you have sinned against Him, your Creator. If you do not believe you have done wrong then you have made a mockery of Jesus. You are saying, "No thanks Jesus, I am perfectly fine without you doing anything for me." That is called self-righteousness. And might I remind you that if you stand before God in your own righteousness you would be justly condemned.

Again, you must cry out to God to ask forgiveness for you sins against Him, and turn from them (with His help) to show you are serious, and trust in Jesus alone for your forgiveness then you will forgiven and free. You will be saved by trusting in Jesus alone for your righteousness, for Jesus is the one who can save you from the God's wrath. Only God can save you from Himself.

Which would you rather have: God's wrath upon you, or God's undeserved mercy?

There is so much more I wish to say but I pray that the God will draw you to Himself even through these few clumsy words of mine. Post a comment if you have any questions for me.

Here are some lines from a patriotic song. Happy 4th of July!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord/
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored/
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword/
His truth is marching on.
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