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Never Forget: words that are uttered on this day as we remember the events of 9/11.  It was one of those days, even for those of us not directly impacted, that is etched into our minds.  Each of us that are old enough to remember has a memory of that day. What happened that morning as many of us were going about our day, just like any day, only to find ourselves shocked by what had taken place with a permanent reminder etched into our minds.

For me, that memory takes me back to my college campus.  I had an early class that morning.  After the class wrapped up and I was walking across the campus I recall kind of an eerie calmness about the campus.  During a time when I was accustomed to seeing more people moving about the campus I saw very few.  I made my way to the Student Activity Center where my first memory is of a lounge area where hundreds of people where gathered around some large screen televisions.  While it was normal to see some people sitting, studying, watching TV, working on a laptop in that area…it was very odd to see hundreds in almost total unity focused on what was taking place on the TV screens.  It was in the moments that followed that I was swallowed up by the moment as I too realized what was transpiring at the World Trade Center buildings.  While my cell phone didn’t work and I was shocked by the events as they unfolded before my eyes, I cannot say I felt the emotion of the day as those who had loved ones in those Towers, be it people working there or first responders trying to save lives.   Yet, even for someone who was really just a distant observer to such an infamous event in our nation’s history, I felt a heaviness and still do for the loss of life that we remember to this day.

There are so many stories to be told, so many lives sacrificed that day and so many lives changed that day. In the weeks that followed, churches were packed with people looking for answers, trying to make sense of the incredible devastation and trying to come to grips with the realization that the United States is not invincible.  Of all the stories I’ve heard, the stories of extreme courage and bravery exhibited by the first responders on that day seem to stick out above the rest.  While thousands of people were rushing down stairs in fear of their lives, almost every account speaks of first responders running against the crowd up those same steps.  Each of them rushing towards the risk instead of away from it.  Many of which we honor today because they died that day in the collapse of the buildings.  Even beyond that, years later some of the men and women that were on site that day, covered in dust and debris, trying to save lives, are developing breathing related illnesses and cancers that are leading to their premature death.  

Their example on that day in particular and honestly every other day they rush to help people in dangerous situations is something that challenges me.  I think about what God has called us to do as Christians...to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  Every day thousands…millions…billions of people are in dire need of saving.  Their life is at risk, the fires of sin burn around them and at any moment the building of their life could collapse. Am I willing to be the first responder in their life that rushes in and brings to them lifesaving help?    

For many of the firefighters, police officers, paramedics that responded that day, they mustered a courage and bravery that pales in comparison to what we as Christians have access to.  I can’t help but think about Acts 1:8 where it references “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses”.  Countless times throughout the Bible God tells us to be courageous, not to fear…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. - Deuteronomy 31:6

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. – Ephesians 6:10

The list goes on and on. We have the ability as Christians to go courageously into the world with the strength of the Lord to be His witnesses. The incredible acts of courage on display on 9/11 are worth remembering.  The lives saved that day as a result of their sacrifice are worth honoring. Let us not forget that the courage they boldly lived out that day going into buildings on fire and on the verge of collapse is but a sliver of the power and courage God can provide each one of us willing to obey Him and be His witnesses.  Honor those who lost their lives that day, remember the lives that were lost…but NEVER FORGET to take inspiration in their courage knowing that you…through the power of the Holy Spirit…can do far greater things for Christ!

Posted by Jeremy Shirley with 1 Comments
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...May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 1 Peter 1:2 (ESV)

Nero had a very ambitious and egotistically driven desire to build a monument that would rival and surpass any complex that had been constructed up to that time.  The roughly 300 acres that would be required would include magnificent landscaping as well as a 30-meter statue of himself, the Colossus of Nero.  The problem was he didn’t really have the space he needed to build such a complex...soooo...since he really didn’t like the construction of the ancient city and much of it had become slum-like, he decided to burn a significant part of it to the ground and then he would have the space needed for his Golden House, Domus Aurea.

The fire, that historian's record as having been set by Nero, beginning on the slope of the Avertine, which looked out over the Circus Maximus, quickly spread out of control and burned for well over a week.  It destroyed three of fourteen Roman districts while doing extensive damage to another seven.

He miscalculated the reaction of the people of Rome and found that he needed a scapegoat to blame the fire upon...and the blame fell upon Christians.  The emperor publicly blamed the Christians in the city for the fire.  It enabled him to wield the power of the empire against those Christians and terrible persecution fell upon those who had trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior.  They were burned alive, used as artificial lighting for the gardens and streets of Rome. Some suffered other atrocities in the Colosseum and believers were forced to choose between the emperor and their Savior.  Many died for their faith during this period of persecution.

It was before this time of persecution that the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, inspired Peter, the apostle, to write to those who would indeed have this time of persecution in their future.  They would need encouragement when times were rough; they would need to be able to cope with what they were going to experience in their journey upon the earth.  They would be thirsty for assurance, they would need strengthening, they would need the grace and peace of the Lord, and they would need it in abundance.  Not unlike you and me.  And they would receive the words that they would need to journey another day with a living hope for the future.

Peter writes, by the Holy Spirit, and prays for just what they needed to read and receive.  They could know for certain that the grace (charis) of God...which includes everything that we receive from the Lord, including His mercy, His love, and forgiveness of sin, all of these undeserved blessings of God, are enough, during the difficult journey to bring us the peace that we need, a peace that passes understanding.

 “and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
1 Timothy 1:14 (ESV)

The peace (eirēnē) of God means we have assurance and confidence in the love and care of God, no matter the circumstances.  It means that we are well aware, and trust, that God will provide, guide, strengthen, sustain, encourage, deliver, as well as give life, real life during our journey on earth as well as in the future with Him, in heaven, forever.

 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)

Peter would need grace and peace in his life as well.  His future would include being thrown into the prison called the Mametine, shrouded in darkness for nine months, suffering torture while chained to a post...and yet...he received the grace and the peace he needed to make the most out of every day of his journey, even leading his jailers to know about and to receive Christ.

Peter needed grace and peace...every day, the recipients of the letter would need grace and peace...every day, and you and I need grace and peace...every day.

You may be in a time of trouble and trial in your life. May God’s grace and peace be multiplied to you...It’s reassuring to remember that God is in control...and good...all the time.

And it’s a good thing to pray for others, those you know, who need the grace and peace of the Lord...and that would include everybody.

Grace and peace come to all who know Christ and trust Him.  He is the only one who can, by His grace, bring genuine peace to the human heart and assurance to the human soul.

Introduce people to Jesus, have a conversation with them about how the Lord brings peace to your life, especially during the tough times. What the devil means for bad, the Lord will use for good.

Nero and his minions could not take away the grace and peace of God from believers. Nero only caused the gospel to advance and to spread across Asia.  In like manner, no one or nothing can take away the grace and peace of God from you when you lean and trust in Him.  Don’t forget! We win!

Final score...Christians 100...Nero, a 0.

 

Praying for you,

Pray for me,

 

Bro. Ralph

Posted by Ralph Sawyer with

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