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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Autumn foggy scene in Lancaster County (Photo by Doris High)
Foggy autumn scene in Lancaster County
(Photo by Doris High)

"Veteran's Day Message"

to this message on your audio player.

"Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God" (Leviticus 19:32). "I then, as Paul--an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus" (Philemon 1:9b).

Gene Weber service photo (about 1943) Today is Veteran's Day here in the United States, a day in which we properly remember military veterans and consider the price paid for our temporal freedoms. I realize many veterans read these messages regularly including several we know, as well as those who are in active service. We thank you for your service. I specifically consider my dad (left) who trained as a pilot during WW2 and Brooksyne's dad (right) who served during the Korean War.

Brooklyn Sherrell service photo (about 1953)I was recently talking to Rick, a friend who told me about his brother who had committed suicide in 1985. He had served in the Vietnam War, an especially brutal time for returning vets, and Rick clearly felt the toils of the war and aftermath was a factor in his death. It seems much more attention and appreciation has been given to vets in recent wars. However many still live in despair and statistics indicate there is a high suicide rate among veterans.

Have you ever considered the military veterans in the Bible? Here's a partial list of well-known veterans: Joshua, Gideon, Samson, Deborah, David. Of course there are many, many more and scores in which we don't have their names. I also consider
Uriah, a good man who was purposely killed in action (see 2 Samuel 11:17). So we not only consider our veterans but also those who have died for our freedoms.

As we look into Scripture we'd like to spotlight spiritual veterans. These are the men and women who have a long experience in spiritual warfare. A key difference is that spiritual veterans essentially remain in active spiritual warfare service till their call home.

Many of these spiritual veterans have gone on before us and are now in what Hebrews 12 calls "a great cloud of witnesses". Others are still on this side, many in the senior years of life. They have faithfully served God in their generation and await their call home.

We need to value these spiritual veterans and the wisdom and perspective they bring to our life. Although some may have a frail memory they also have insights which can be such a blessing. Today's first Scripture text is greatly needed.
"Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God" (Leviticus 19:32). This expresses a powerful principle so neglected in an age when youth is glorified and many of the elderly are essentially warehoused.

Respect for the elderly seems to be one of the many elements we're losing as we slide farther and farther away from Biblical truth. The last phrase of the sentence
"revere your God" and how it relates to the first two phrases especially intrigues me. It seems to me that they are interrelated. By honoring the elderly we demonstrate reverence for God. Let us remember and honor the contribution made by the countless old spiritual veterans who have gone before us and are still among us.

Football time clock Several years ago we wrote about seeing our life similar to a football game and asked our readers to consider, "What quarter are you in?" Well of course none of us knows "when our time" will come and the contest of life will be over. However, based upon typical life expectancy Brooksyne and I are certainly well along in the second half and very likely in the beginning of the last quarter! What quarter do you suppose your life is in?

Paul as an old manOur second daily text is an easily overlooked statement made by the apostle Paul, a true veteran of the Christian conflict.  He had fought the good fight of faith and was not at all hesitant in identifying himself in the text as an "old man". (The KJV states "the aged".) Paul's appeal is as an old man who has great emotional and physical need of Philemon's friendship and support.

At the time Paul wrote this he was clearly a spiritual veteran having served many years for the cause of Christ. He is one of the first of scores of men and women through the history of the church who have taken great risks to the point of laying down their lives. They faced hardship and otherwise bear the scars of battle for Christ and for our souls. Our spiritual freedom was supremely paid by Christ's death on the Cross. However many others have paid a price to bring that message to us and help keep our flame lit. Let us honor these spiritual veterans and  let us take our place in the line of the faithful!

I'm sure you can think of some spiritual veterans who've influenced you greatly. Why don't you take a moment to thank God for them, and if you're able, give them a personal expression of thanks. You'll make their day!

Finally, we all will become spiritual veterans should the Lord keep us on this side. Brooksyne and I state our determination to stay faithful and invite our readers to join us.

Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, we honor our military veterans who gave their all that we might enjoy our freedoms. Some of them bear visible reminders of their service such as a missing limb, or a jagged scar. Others carry less visible signs such as a pin holding a bone together, shrapnel buried beneath their skin, tortuous physical and mental images that cannot be erased from their minds, causing many of them deep disturbance in their mental health. We pray that You will encourage the veteran's families and place godly people in their paths who will build relationships with them giving them an opportunity to share their faith. We pray for those serving today who are being denied their expression of faith due to the politically motivated changes within the military. We consider the chaplains who uphold the teachings of the Bible rather than the philosophies of our day that redefine what is right and what is wrong. Fortify them with courage, wisdom and the resolve to stay firm in the days ahead, to hold to what is true no matter what they endure as a result. And, lastly, we pray for our spiritual veterans who have forged the straight and narrow path before us that leads to eternal life. We follow behind and don't look back to the broad path that leads to destruction and eternal doom. In the name of Jesus we praise You and thank You for these military and spiritual veterans. Amen.

A thought from Billy Graham concerning veterans: From time to time we have had the opportunity to visit veterans’ hospitals. After a service, we’ve gone from bed to bed talking and praying with the patients. Many of these people feel neglected. They have lost limbs, eyesight or health in service to their country.

Some have been in the hospital for years and will remain there the rest of their lives. What a price they have paid for all of us. I once talked to a man who had lost a leg in World War II. When I remarked about the price he had paid, he said, “It was worth it, wasn’t it?”

Let some veterans show you the scars that they have received in battle, and you will realize how much suffering, heartache and blood our freedoms have cost. Out of this comes a great lesson to Christians. The Apostle Paul said, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” Galatians 6:17, NKJV. In other words, Paul said that he bore in his body the branding marks of a slave. When he called himself a servant of Jesus Christ, he did not mean a paid worker, as the word connotes today. He meant a slave, in utter subjection to the Master. But this subjection is borne out of love and devotion to Christ, and it ultimately brings liberty.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Find Us Faithful"  Video  Let There Be Praise singers

"We Will Not Forget"  Video  Mark Harris

"When Love Comes Home"  Video  Matthew West

"The Mission"   Video  Steve Green

"One Pure And Holy Passion"  Video  The Passion Worship Band

"Letters From War"  Video  Mark Schultz

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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