2017 READING CHALLENGE
This year is coming to a close, which means it’s time to […]
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I remember so vividly the flag that hung in my classroom as a child. How I loved to stand, hand on heart, promising my loyalty to the stars and stripes. My heart still thrills to see our beautiful flag fluttering over schoolhouses, raised after athletic victories, and waving festively during parades. The red, white, and blue remind me of the strength, the courage, and the sacrifice of those who have fought to maintain freedom for the American people. But there is a greater freedom that has been won for all people; a freedom that I also remember when I gaze at our beloved flag.
The white stripes of the flag shine so brightly, uncorrupted by any dark stain. But no person can boast of such purity. The Bible says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). This sin leaves a deadly stain on our hearts that separates us from God, a stain that cannot be wiped away by any human effort. Only Jesus Christ, God's Son who became a man, has ever lived a pure, sinless life. And this perfect man is the only one who can remove the stain of sin from our hearts and make us pure in the sight of a holy God.
Red stripes remind me of the result of sin. The Bible says, "without shedding of blood is no remission" of sins (Hebrews 9:22). Moral living, charity, good works, even baptismal water cannot wash away the stain of sin. Because of His great love for us, God sent His Son to earth to accept our sin upon Himself and be punished for it in our place. Thus, it is this blood, "the blood of Jesus Christ... that] cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). The book of Isaiah in the Bible puts it this way: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). But Jesus' human body did not stay bruised and broken. He rose to life again, conquering death.
Like standing under the evening sky, gazing at the star-scattered blue of the U.S. flag reminds me of Heaven, a place of ultimate freedom--from sin, sickness, and death--and a place of eternal communion with God. The Bible promises that in Heaven we will shine like stars forever (Daniel 12:3). But Heaven cannot be entered just by wishing, or by working, or even by chance. Instead, you must believe in Christ's sacrifice for you, turn from your sins, and live wholeheartedly for God. The Bible tells us that "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36).
Would you like to experience the greatest freedom of all--the freedom from sin and death? Does your heart yearn to live forever with God in Heaven? If so, pray something like this:
Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I have sinned. I am truly sorry and repent from my sins. I believe that Your Son Jesus took my punishment by dying on the cross, then conquered death by rising to life again. Please purify my heart from the stain of my sin and help me to live to please You. In Jesus' name, Amen.
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