Pastor’s Brian’s Blog 7/4/18
Our church has a softball team, and we play in a softball league. We have been playing for a number of weeks now and this past Monday night we played again and won again. That win not only means that we remain in 1st place in our league, it also means that we remain undefeated and in 1st place in our league!!
As the coach of the team, I am pretty excited about that fact and am very quick to mention it to anyone that will listen. Yet in the scheme of life, this fact is not going to change the world. Me talking about it will not change our church, nor will this event even change the life of anyone on our team. Yet what is true about the facts of our softball team is not true of all facts and or events.
We are celebrating the 4th of July today, a day set aside for all America to celebrate our independence, not only from England but from every other world power. A day when the Continental Congress officially adopted our Declaration of Independence. A day unlike last Monday, when the effects of a softball team win are already forgotten, but a day when decisions were made, beliefs were acted upon, men and women took a stand that not only affected those involved, but it continues to affect the millions of people that call America their home.
Here are thoughts of some of the men and women that either were involved in the signing or influenced those that signed our Declaration of Independence. We might do well to look at their lives, consider their ideas, and listen to their advice as we celebrate our freedoms on this day. Freedoms that we can’t take for granted, but freedoms that can remain, if we are willing to listen and learn from our history.
When John Hancock affixed his famously large signature to the Declaration of Independence, he said, “There, I guess King George will be able to read that!” He would go on to say… “We must be unanimous; there must be no pulling different ways; we must hang together.”
Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John Adams (another one of the signers)… “May the foundation of our new constitution, be Justice, Truth and Righteousness. Like the wise mans house may it be founded upon those Rocks and then neither storms or tempests will overthrow it.”
George Washington the Father of our country as well as the 1st U.S. President said… “While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
Our 4th U. S. President James Madison said… “A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest while we are building ideal monuments of Renown and Bliss here we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven.”
Judy and I moved to Center Barnstead, NH from a town just outside of Canandaigua, NY called Rushville. Rushville was the home town of a ratifier of the U.S. Constitution as well as one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush. Rush said… “The gospel of Jesus Christ prescribes the wisest rules for just conduct in every situation of life. Happy they who are enabled to obey them in all situations!”
One of our better known patriots, and another ratifier of the U.S. Constitution, Patrick Henry said… “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”
With all the commotion recently about our next Supreme Court Justice, I thought that it might be appropriate to quote John Jay, the 1st Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court… “In forming and settling my belief relative to the doctrines of Christianity, I adopted no articles from creeds but such only as, on careful examination, I found to be confirmed by the Bible.”
As important as the ideas and words of our founding Fathers were, as much as they set the plumb line for us to follow, there are words that are even more important, more amazing and more consequential, and they are the words of the Apostle Paul who wrote… Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Timothy 1:15
Jesus came into our world for one purpose: to save people just like us. People who have sinned, people who have done wrong things, had angry thoughts, said hurtful words, involved in painful deeds, but people like us. Jesus said… “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10
When I am diving for a softball and get grass stain on my uniform, or when I slide into home plate and get my pants stained with dirt, I can try to wipe off the stains and I might be able to get some of it off, but to get it really cleaned, when I get home, it goes into the washing machine because I don’t have it within me to clean the stain just on my own.
You and I also cannot deal with our personal heart stain when we sin. We need help, help that is beyond our self, that is why Jesus came, to take away our stain and make us clean… “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18
Jesus came to die on a cross for our sins because without it, we have no right to talk with God, say nothing about living in heaven with Him. That is why we need a Savior, Christ Jesus. We can try hard to clean up our sin, we can go to church, we can be a great parent or the employee of the year, I can give large amounts of money to wonderful charities, I can be admired by all my peers for being a wonderful person, I can even bat 1000% for a whole softball season and it has absolutely no affect when it comes to cleaning up my sin.
My sin has to be cleaned up by someone that committed no sin, by someone that is worthy to present us to God. We can try our hardest to clean up past mistakes, we can even get help from others or other organizations to help me clean up my sin, but it does not work.
Jesus came into the world to save us, because we cannot do it ourselves. We are saved not because of what we can do, but because of what Jesus has done… God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:8-9
I am blessed to be an American, we are blessed to have a heritage of men and women that were people of character. Yet at the end of life, it won’t matter what party is in office, and no one but me will remember how many softball championships I was part of, and to be totally honest, I don’t remember either. But what will matter is what will you do with the one that came to “seek and to save what was lost,” the one that “came into the world to save sinners.” I would strongly urge you to put your trust in this Savior Jesus, approved by God and found to be irresistible by millions!