Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Patriot Day, 9/11/2013

September 11, 2001, also know as Patriot Day.  Not to be confused with Patriot's Day.

Where were you?  What were you doing?  Regardless of it's impact on your life there is one thing that it did commonly for the whole nation; it turned there thoughts to God.  Everyone looks to church and God when something terrible happens.  However, unfortunately, the results were not permanent for the nation.  My question is, "Did it have any lasting effects for you as an individual?"  If you got back in to church and began thinking about God, was it a lasting change.  Was the change caused by a profound, faith driven realization of the urgent need for Jesus to become a reality in yourself and your neighbor or; was it driven by a fear of death and questions about eternity?  Last but not least, did it cause you to turn outward toward the physical and spiritual needs of those around you or did it cause you to merely look to your own needs? 

With those questions in mind I wanted to bring a different line of thought that you will not likely hear anywhere else on 9/11.  As I do, I would like to clarify that much of this will be a metaphorical parallel vs. actual spiritual judgement on any of the victims of 9/11.  Obviously I do not know what the state of their hearts were with God when they died.  While it is unlikely that they were all legitimate believers, it is certain that many were.  As you read you may wonder how the twist you read here could be pertinent on such a somber day.  I would submit according to Luke 13:1-5 that a proper perspective on such tragedies was a high priority for Jesus and it should be for us.  An understanding of our role and God's purposes is of utmost importance in all things.  Jesus saw tragedy on this scale as a call to repentance.  Maybe we should to.  I beg you to consider with me for just a few brief moments the eternal perspective of such a day as the one we remember today.

 As always there is story after story regarding the events of that day.  Stories of horror by the survivors.  Stories of heroism. Stories of bravery on the part of John Doe people in a building or on an airplane.  Stories of bravery among the many emergency and police personnel that day. Stories of heartbreak among loved ones.

I think of how many people in the twin towers were not aware of just how perilous their situation was.  That soon the buildings they were in would come collapsing down around them.  People milling around on the streets below having no idea of the danger they were in.  As the first plane was flown into the first tower and people began to run away, firefighters and policemen were running toward the danger, trying to warn and rescue as many people as possible.  Even after the first tower fell, having an inkling that the second tower could do the same, rescue workers continued to do their jobs with no thought for their own lives.  The brave souls on Flight 93 who, knowing that they would likely die, thought it important to make sure that they were the only ones who did.  Many lost their lives that day to save another.  I would like to think I would have done the same.....Would you?

As Christians, we have that opportunity.  We have the opportunity to die to ourselves.  We not only have  the opportunity, but the responsibility.  A  responsibility that we are shirking on a daily basis.  There is a spiritual 9/11 going on around us every day.  Satan is the spiritual terrorist, lurking, waiting for the moment when people are spiritually asleep to strike.  I think it's appropriate considering the metaphor that the bible uses in (Ephesians 2:2)calling him the prince of the air.  1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober-mined and watchful.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour."  Only, instead of a few thousand people dying, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions dying spiritual, eternal, death daily, around the world.  In our neighborhoods.  In our schools.  In third world countries that God holds us responsible for as if they lived next door.

These are people who do not know the truth.  They do not know that any minute their plane could crash into a building or the ground.  They do not know that any minute their building could come crashing down around them.  They do not know that at any moment, their spiritual world could burst into an eternal, unquenchable hell fire!  They do not know that this doesn't have to happen!  That God loves them.  That he sent his son Jesus to experience the hell of God's judgement on sin that we deserve so that we would not have to.

Who is going to tell them?  WE MUST!!!

IF you have true faith.  IF Jesus is truly LORD of your life, then you must tell the world.  You are the fireman, or police officer.  You are the spiritual rescue worker running into that spiritual hellhole of a building to tell all those souls that they are going to die for eternity without Jesus!!!

Can you imagine, what would have been said by people and media, if all of the rescuers had sat idly by and done nothing on 9/11; if they had not seemed to care at all or worse yet said, my life is more valuable than theirs and I am not going to sacrifice it on their behalf.?  They would have been eaten for breakfast by the media.  They would have lost their jobs and probably been shunned from their communities.  No one can imagine a firefighter sitting in his truck doing nothing beside a building in flames as families scream out the window for help.  That would be a travesty.

I would submit to you that if we sit by as supposed Christians and coldly watch the world around us die a spiritual death with no concern for their eternal destination, we are just like that firefighter.  He would be fired and possibly arrested for neglect.  I would suggest that if we lack concern for the lost and compassion for those in need, we are in danger of being eternally fired (condemned) as well.  Rather that this lack of conviction in these areas would be potential evidence that we were never eternally hired (saved) to begin with.  The fruit of a true Christian whose Savior is also Lord will have these qualities: concern for those who do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord and compassion for those in need.  If we do not have these then we are lacking evidence of our true salvation.

I invite you to read several passages. In John 15:13 Jesus says, "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends"James 1:22-27 speaks of not just hearing the word but doing what it says.  He goes on to say that true religion involves taking care of widows and orphans and keeping oneself from being polluted by the world(James 2:14-24).  In this passage James speaks to the fact that saying you have faith is not enough.  Faith without works is dead.  You must have righteous works as evidence of that faith.  Works that are full of compassion for the lost and those in need.  Matthew 25:31-46, regards Jesus' separating of the sheep from the goats (saved from the unsaved) and he relates it to acts of compassion for those in need.  Matthew 7:15-27, speaks of good trees bearing good fruit and bad trees bearing bad fruit.  It also states that those who put God's word into practice are the ones who have evidence of a solid foundation in their salvation. And of course Matthew 28:18-20 which is known as the Great Commission from Jesus to the disciples. 

Does this mean that works earn us salvation?  Absolutely not!  Salvation is a free gift from God, by grace, through faith that we are incapable of attaining on our own(Ephesians 2:8-9).  All of those other verses clarify the fact that salvation is not simply fire insurance.  That we are not saved to simply sit around and continue enjoying the sinful nature.  We are not saved to a life that does not look any different than the life we were leading before we "prayed the prayer".  We are a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new(2 Corinthians 5:17).   If we are truly saved then, while our works do not save us, our Christian works will be an evidence of the overflow of Christ in us.  We will not do these things because we feel obligated to in order to be in right standing with God....that is impossible.  No, we will do these things because we love Jesus and our heart will be to do what pleases him.

What pleases God is that we whom He has saved recognize that we are are dead to our former selves.  We are born again.  And our new selves are commanded not to regard this body.  Not to fear death of this body, that will one day whither and fade away anyway, but to die to ourselves daily.  To take the examples of selfless compassion that were common amongst so many heroes that tragic September day and apply them to ourselves in the daily 9/11 of the lives of so many living among us and around the world.  Unfortunately heroism is not always driven by "saving, grace-driven, faith".  Sometimes, it is inspired by a common grace given to all men that some good may come of it.  If we are certain that unmerited salvation has been applied to our lives however, we must stop conceiving of salvation as a "one and done" for ourselves and realize that we were saved by a love and a grace that is made abundant in us so that it can be given away to others, in order that souls would be saved and God's name glorified.

If you are unsure of your salvation, yet you long to be sure, then get in the bible and cry out to God to save you.  The bible says that the Holy spirit will testify with your spirit that you are a child of God.  That you will not need to be afraid and that you will be able to overcome the sinful nature because you are now led by the Holy Spirit.(Romans 8:13-16).  If you are convinced that you are a Christian and you are not actively pursuing the clear will of God for your life that is in his word for every disciple then I implore you to get in the word and begin crying out to God to place his desires in your heart.  Then you will find yourself as one of the firemen who is running into the burning, collapsing building telling the people of their need to be saved, rather than the one sitting by doing nothing.  You will find yourself having a difficult time ignoring those in need as you become acutely aware of all that God has blessed you with.

In all this, know that God is not asking you to do this under your own power.  It is Christ who saves you and Christ who keeps you(Philippians 1:6).  It is Christ who empowers you unto growth and transformation.
As Philippians 2:12-13, says, "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose".

If this day drives us to a greater passion for the gospel-driven mission of Jesus Christ, then these many tragic deaths will not have been in vain.  They will have accomplished a greater eternal purpose for the glory of God than any earthly, perishable fruit that will ever develop in this short life.  As we honor those who died and those who lost loved ones on this, the twelfth anniversary of this unforgettable, providential day; let us forever be changed in a way that not only impacts our spiritual and physical lives, but the spiritual and physical lives of those around us and around the world. 

In Jesus name,


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