Archive for category Responsibilities

The King’s Servant

cistern

Recently, a really heroic act was posted on the internet showing four men rescuing an elderly woman from a burning car. They each take on a frightening moment, risking their very lives, to save another human being.  Just a few weeks prior to this, a police officer performed a similar deed by rescuing a young man from a burning vehicle.  I truly believe that if we looked hard enough, we would see these acts of unselfish charity performed every day amongst people who cherish and honor human life.  I still remember one of the most remarkable acts of love for fellow human beings.  It was the day after my birthday, January 13, 1982, when an Air Florida 737 crashed into the Potomac river in Washington D.C., killing 72 of the 79 souls aboard and 5 people in vehicles on the bridge it struck before entering the river. One of the seven passengers who survived the crash was Arland Williams. Known as the “sixth passenger,” Williams survived the crash, and passed lifelines on to others rather than take one for himself. He ended up being the only plane passenger to die from drowning.  John 15:13  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

                In the days just before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, the prophet Jeremiah was arrested and brought before King Zedekiah.  Zedekiah implored Jeremiah to tell him of God’s vision for Jerusalem.  Jeremiah tells him all that will befall him and all the inhabitants of the city. At first Zedekiah does nothing to Jeremiah. However, at the bequest of his evil councilors, Zedekiah allows Jeremiah to be lowered into a gloomy cistern that has no water save for a deep, thick mire of mud. Jer 38:6  So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.  How horrible and frightening this must have been for the man of God,  to be treated in such ill fashion, especially after proclaiming the truth to the King who requested it.  Jeremiah would at some point later recall this experience as we read of it in Lam. 3:52-55  “I have been hunted like a bird by those who were my enemies without cause;  (53)  they flung me alive into the pit and cast stones on me;  (54)  water closed over my head; I said, ‘I am lost.’  (55)  “I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit.

                With the Babylonians at the very gates of the city and scarcely no food to be found, what doom it must have been for Jeremiah, literally buried alive in mire, left to die a slow and agonizing death.  Who would take such a risk to save him, when there was no time but to even save oneself from the wrath of King Nebuchadnezzar?  However, we read of a brave soul, whose name is Ebed-melech, the Ethopian, a eunuch who served in the court of King Zedekiah.   Ebed-melech left the palace and sought out the king and boldly approached him, pleading for the life of Jeremiah. He even went so far as to proclaim that the action taken against Jeremiah was evil and they must not let him die in that horrible place.  Zedekiah allowed Ebed to rescue Jeremiah and authorized men to help in the effort.  Because of his bravery and trust in God, Ebed-melech is also spared from the impending doom of Jerusalem.  Jer. 39:16-18 “Go, and say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will fulfill my words against this city for harm and not for good, and they shall be accomplished before you on that day.  (17)  But I will deliver you on that day, declares the LORD, and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid.  (18)  For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the LORD.'”

                The four men who rescued the woman from the burning car said they were not heroes.  They each proclaimed they were only doing what they hoped any human being would have done for them.

                There are plenty of humans around us who are deep in the mires of life, seemingly helpless in a pit of despair and gloom.  Maybe we should, like Ebed-melech, trust in the Lord, and help raise them out of their abyss.  We, too, will then be spared from the wrath to come.

 

Darryl Fuller.

Remember

Cross-FSIn the late 1800’s citizens of America recalled on several annual events, epic battles of our nation:  Bunker Hill, Yorktown, The Alamo, Gettysburg, Bull Run, and Antietam to name a few.  By the 1930’s a lot of these memorial events faded into obscurity and were replaced by more recent battles like the March up San Juan Hill or Argonne.  These too faded as we would in turn begin to remember Pearl Harbor, Midway, Normandy and Bastogne.  Today, any remembrance of past sacrifices of blood shed upon the fields of battle are only news blurbs on a web page, trivia fodder to entertain us as to what happened on this day in say 1942. Part of the problem with our nation is that we are indifferent about remembering, especially remembering the blood sacrificed for our benefit.

                For the children of Israel, remembering the blood shed by bulls and goats was as central to who they were as anything.  God’s instructions to His people were inundated with annual feasts and festivals commemorating key agricultural moments throughout the year.  At these feasts, the blood of bulls, rams, goats, and sheep was shed and sprinkled on the altar, the Ark of the Covenant, and the people for whom it was being poured out.   All of these “bloody” rituals were meant to visually stimulate the people of Israel to remember! Remember their sins! Heb 10:3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.  Today, like then however, time has a way of fogging our memory banks.  Soon we forget what it is we’re supposed to be remembering.  The children of Israel, who over time continued with the tradition of making yearly sacrifices, soon forgot why they were making them.  The act of remembering their sins was changed to an act of pride in who they were and the pageantry in which they carried it out.  When they lost sight of their sinful nature, they grew more violent and insolent of wrong-doing.  They lost their moral compass to show justice,mercy and peace toward their fellow man.  Mic 6:6-8 “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  (7)  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”  (8)  He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                The point of all these sacrifices was for the people to remember their sins.  The act alone could not remove the sins.  It was all a shadow and type of the greatest sacrifice, that of Jesus, who would eradicate sin!  Heb 10:9-10 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second.  (10)  And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  

                Now Christ calls on us to remember our sins and how He shed His blood to take away those sins.  1 Cor. 11:24-26 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (25)  In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (26)  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  It is paramount for us to remember this love that God has toward us, the giving of His Son’s precious blood.  It behooves us to pay close attention to this memorial, not for the pageantry or ceremony that may occasion it but to remember our sins.  If we, like the children of Israel, simply go through the motions of partaking of the Lord’s Supper and fail to remember why we are partaking, we too shall lose sight of our sins.

                More and more, people are not attending worship.  If they are not going to worship, chances are they are not partaking of the Lord’s Supper.  If they are not partaking of the Lord’s Supper, then they are not remembering the sacrifice made on their behalf.  Remembering history or our sins is a key element in not repeating our iniquities.

Darryl Fuller

What a Temper

mcgrawWithin the free will of man is the insidious cup of brew we call anger. Even though it has been displayed by God’s righteous indignation against the wickedness of man, we are most assuredly warned to avoid it. We have neither the holy love nor the patience to partition it out. We are forewarned of its mortal danger in James 1:20 – for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. We are commanded to abstain from it in Colossians 3:8 – But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. We are called on to substitute prayer in place of it, 1Timothy 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. If all else fails, and anger is manifested, we are at all costs to avoid sinning, Ephesians 4:26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. Our Father allows us the choice to be angry, but bids us not!

One of the greatest baseball players of all time was a left-handed batter from New York whose name was John Joseph (Muggsy) McGraw. He debuted for the Baltimore Orioles in 1891 and ended his career with the New York Giants in 1906. He had a career batting average of .334, stole 436 bases and brought in 1024 runs. He later managed the New York Giants until 1932 and has the distinction of having the Major League History, 2nd all-time highest number of ejections from the game (132) (Bobby Cox of the Atlanta Braves is now 1st.). It is his anger and quick temper which he will always be remembered for, not his gift of playing baseball. On May 15, 1894, while playing for the Baltimore Orioles, McGraw got into a fight with Tommy Tucker of the Boston Beaneaters. Tucker went sliding into third base and McGraw kicked him in the head while attempting to apply the tag. A fight between the two ensued, followed by a bench-clearing from both teams. As the skirmish escalated, fans began to pour onto the field and a full blown riot was unleashed. As the melee continued, someone in the stands started a fire that engulfed and destroyed the stadium, which in turn set ablaze 170 businesses, all of which were destroyed.  Beware the seeds of anger.  Once they are planted in the soil of frustration and jealousy they will inevitably produce fruits of rage, mayhem and ruin. Pro 30:33  For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.

 Peter’s anger cut off a man’s ear. Jesus, who had the right to be angry, put the ear back on so Malchus could later hear the words of love.

Jonah’s anger would have burned a city that he had just proclaimed God’s mercy to.   God’s patience kept a great fish from slowly digesting his messenger to the lost city of Ninevah.

Saul’s anger would have destroyed many Jews who had become Christians.  Christ’s gentleness changed Saul to Paul and made millions of Christians out of Gentiles.

Cain’s anger killed his only brother.  Christ, who is the shadow of Abel’s spilt blood, speaks to us today, billions of brothers saved by the sacrifice of one.

Pharaoh’s anger would not let God’s people be free.  God’s eternal plan gave them liberty by way of the sea.

Man’s anger crucified God’s only begotten Son.  Christ’s love, went to the cross to keep God’s anger from crucifying us.

Whenever you read of man’s anger in God’s holy word, it is a raw, uninhibited, brutal, self-promoting, unredeemable conflagration of misguided, poorly thought-out, unholy fury.  We are to keep this misfit called anger, in check.  Squelch it, smother it, quiet it, calm it, lock it up in a room and lose the key.  We are to kneel to God in prayer, rather than rise up to roar.   We are to be fast and ready, anxious to hear and promote good thoughts and assign good motives.  We are to be temperate and think carefully before we ever open our mouth and unfurl our thick, abrasive, slippery tongue.  In the end, should we succumb to anger, let it come unbearably slow as sap from the tallest spruce on a cold winter’s day.

James 1:19  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

Darryl Fuller

 

On Guard

Bailey Fuller and WorkersMy grandfather was not a big man by any stretch of the imagination. He stood less than six feet and by my remembrance weighed little even soaking wet. He was a very quiet and unassuming person, silently keeping to his business. His education extended through 6th grade and no further. Being one of three sons, his father, who was farmer, needed his help in the cotton fields of south Alabama.  He would eventually become a foreman and overseer to a large orange grove operation in central Florida. The owner, Mr. John Hileman, provided him and my grandmother a place to live in the middle of the grove in Gibsonia, Florida. I remember this grove and farm vividly.  There was no fence or barrier to a large portion of the grove, especially to that which bordered the main highway.  Within the grove and property there were considerable assets that were vulnerable to theft or vandalism. One of the main concerns and duties of my grandfather was the protection of the grove and assets, which he took very seriously. Often, young people, out joy riding or just acting foolishly would venture into the grove and get stuck in the soft, sandy soil. Grandpa would climb out of bed, shotgun in tow, throw on his overalls, climb into his ‘59 Ford Galaxy and first rescue them from their foolishness, and then warn them not to return. I can still hear him telling Grandma, when he got back, “Just some dumb kids.” On more than one occasion the culprits were more sinister. The grove seemed to be a favorite for thieves who liked to go  steal vending machines, bring them into the middle of the grove, bust up the machines for the money, then leave the boxes for Grandpa to have to deal with. Thankfully, Grandpa never had to shoot anyone and no one ever shot at him. I like to think that my grandfather was a brave sort and to some degree, I believe he was.  He would, however, say that he was just doing his job, protecting his master’s assets.

I believe this is very much our calling from our master, to protect and defend that which He has entrusted to us. Paul told Timothy this very thing in 2Ti 1:13-14  Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  (14)  By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.  God has provided us with the ultimate gift; His saving grace sealed by the Holy Spirit. He’s provided us a Kingdom to dwell in (His church) rich with His precious assets; our souls. Now there are no barriers or fences to stop the world from getting in. It’s our job and our duty to guard those assets. It may very well demand that we defend and protect this precious gift at the most inconvenient and darkest times.  We may have to venture away from our safe abodes and confront the foolishness of the world head on. We will need to remember and try and help those in the world first, then after we have helped, warn them of their folly. However, paramount is to guard our souls, God’s precious gift.  It is His good will that we should be blessed richly through the blood of His son, who having paid the price, now shares His glorious inheritance (Eph.1:3-14).

Darryl Fuller

Things in Common

A favorite scene of mine among all movies is the meeting of truce between the Outlaw Josey Wales and the Comanche Chief Ten Bears. What could have been a moment of killing between the two, turned into peace and fellowship, and Ten Bears summed it up by saying “It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life… or death. It shall be life.”TenBears

A great deal of good, peace and fellowship can be gained when we are able to put aside our differences in life and search for our commonalities. Although we are encouraged by our Lord not to be a part of this world (John 15:19, James 1:27; 4:4; 1 John 2:15), we are in the world and must seek to share that peace and hope within us. (2 Cor.3:12; Eph.1:18; Eph.4:4). The commonality that we have with the world is that we are all sinners (Rom.3:23), and are all in need of justification and sanctification of those sins. (Rom.4:25; 5:16-18). When we who have been sanctified by the blood of Christ fail to see or utilize this commonality, a great deal of harm in the effort to win the unbeliever is done.  Unfortunately, many of our fellowmen do not want to see that commonality or the condition that they are in and thus choose to reject our plea and us.  John 15:18-19  “If the world hates you, you should realize that it hated me before you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as one of its own. But because you do not belong to the world and I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. The world may hate us and reject us, but we still bear the responsibility of loving our fellow-man just as our Lord loved all of us and died for our sins (John 3:16).  We are all warriors in the struggle of life and death. Followers of Christ choose life.  Those who reject Him  have chosen death.

Our responsibility toward each other as followers of Christ, however, goes much deeper. And there is a good cause for this. We find ourselves involved with unbelievers as the result of various human relationships (family, neighbors, work, school, etc.), but we have no spiritual union with unbelievers beyond those human ties. With regard to our relationship with fellow believers, however, human ties are no longer the defining issue. In Christ we are joined by his Spirit into one body in a constitutional union. (cf. I Cor. 12:12.27). This new spiritual union brings with it new responsibilities.

First, and most importantly, we first love one another as Christ loved us (John 13:34). This means that our love for each other must be ceaseless, sacrificial and absolute (1 Cor.13:4-8). Our love must not be self-serving, but Christ-like in its dedication to the betterment of others. According to Scripture, there is no place for rudeness in our love for one another, nor are we to keep records of our offenses against each other (1 Cor. 13:5). On the contrary, if we truly love one another as Christ loved us, we will be patient and forbearing, quick to forgive, trusting, and ready to protect one another from all enemies of the faith (1 Cor. 13:47; Eph. 4:32; Col 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:22; 3:8; 4:8).

We should never be involved with anything that divides or tears down, but must be engaged only in those activities that edify, or “build up the church” (1 Co,. 14:12). While our gifts and the roles based on those gifts may vary, we are all responsible for promoting growth in the body. To that end, we should all be involved in mutual support, encouragement, exhortation, admonition and whatever else is necessary to achieve ever greater conformity to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29,15:14; 1 Thes. 5:11,14; Heb. 3:13; 10:24,25; 1 Pet. 4:10).

In all that we do or say, we are to strive for things that lead to peace (Rom. 12:18). We must not be participants in strife or contention, but instead should,  “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Pet. 3:11). As peacemakers, we must carefully follow biblical principles  whenever it becomes necessary to resolve conflicts with others (Mat. 5:9; Heb. 12:14). We must never forget that peace is the very essence of that which was purchased for us by the blood of Christ (John 14:27; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 1:19-20). It is that which most distinguishes us from those who are yet in their sins (Isa. 48:22).

In all, our union as fellow heirs with Christ should compel us to make every effort to seek and build upon that commonality.

“It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life… or death. It shall be life.”

Darryl Fuller

References

http://www.searchingtogether.org/articles/bjork/duties.htm

by Jon Zens & Cliff Bjork

Photo courtesy: Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar