A Memorial Meal
Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, was instituted to honor Civil War dead. Local observances were held as early as 1866, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried. The first official and large observance took place on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, which held the remains of twenty thousand Union soldiers and several Confederate dead. Five thousand people attended the ceremony.
New York was the first state to declare the holiday, in 1873; other states quickly followed. After World War I, citizens expanded the observances to honor those who died in all American wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday and changed the date to the last Monday in May. In recent years, many use the occasion to decorate the graves of loved ones.
Under God’s direction, the Israelites had “Memorial Day” celebrations to help them remember major events in their history. They celebrated Passover each year to commemorate their miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt. When Jesus ate his last Passover meal, he instituted a new memorial to commemorate the deliverance from slavery to sin that he would accomplish for all believers through his death. As he shared the bread and wine with his disciples, he instructed them to eat and drink in remembrance of him.
The speaker at the first official Memorial Day service urged the audience to tend the graves of the dead soldiers to testify that our country had not forgotten the cost of a free, undivided republic. When we take part in the Lord’s Supper we are testifying that we remember the cost of our salvation. We are celebrating a “Memorial Meal” in honor of the One who won the war against death and sin.
God Is Not Judge Judy
by Kelly Givens, crosswalk.com
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17
Last month I found myself in a situation that needed a good dose of wisdom. I had to make a decision and felt unsure what course of action was best, so over those next few days I prayed for wisdom on what I should do. I also looked for verses in the Bible that talk about wisdom, and was surprised by what I found.
When I think of wisdom, usually the first thing that pops in my head is King Solomon and that poor baby. You probably know the story- God had given Solomon an incredible amount of wisdom, so much so that people from all over were coming to him with their questions and disputes. In this recorded case, two prostitutes came before the king, both claiming to be the mother of the same baby boy, both insisting that the other had stolen the infant after the death of the other’s child. This was obviously before DNA testing, so what could be done? Well, Solomon had a sword brought to him and decided to settle things by cutting the baby in half! Now, that doesn’t seem like a very compassionate king! It sounds more like something Judge Judy would do.
Judge Judy doesn’t want to hear your sob story. Her Honor gets right to the facts, lays down her decision and moves on to the next case, end of story. I realized I was asking God to be the” Judge Judy” of my life- I would present my problem and “ask for wisdom,” but what I really wanted was for God to give me a definite answer that didn’t leave any lingering questions. Obviously, God is not Judge Judy, and this is not the kind of wisdom he gives. So how should we think of wisdom? Let’s go back to Solomon- who really wasn’t like Judge Judy at all.
While it may have seemed bizarre that Solomon was going to cut a baby in half, the king had wisely discerned that the true mother would care more about the safety of the child than her possession of him. And so it was- the mother cried out for the boy’s life to be spared, and Solomon declared her the rightful parent. In doing this, he spared both the child and the women further pain. But this is more than Solomon just being cunning or smart. There’s compassion to this decision too- an essential part of wisdom.
When Solomon asked God for wisdom, God didn’t just fill his head with the right answer to every problem that would ever come up. No- he filled him with “wisdom” as James describes it- he filled him full of consideration, peacefulness, mercy, goodness, impartiality and sincerity. King Solomon wasn’t wise because he knew the law book forwards and backwards, or because he was particularly clever or a good problem solver. He was wise because his decisions flowed from a heart and mind focused on values that are essential to the Kingdom of God. He didn’t bother punishing the one woman for stealing a baby or stoning both women for being prostitutes (which the law would have demanded). His wisdom was compassionate, merciful, and just: it was true wisdom from above.
Streams in the Desert – May 31
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
You will come to your grave in a full age, As stacks of grain are harvested in their season. (Job 5:26)
A gentleman, writing about the breaking up of old ships, recently said that it is not the age alone which improves the quality of the fiber in the wood of an old vessel, but the straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and of many kinds of cargoes.
Some planks and veneers made from an oak beam which had been part of a ship eighty years old were exhibited a few years ago at a fashionable furniture store on Broadway, New York, and attracted general notice for the exquisite coloring and beautiful grain.
Equally striking were some beams of mahogany taken from a bark which sailed the seas sixty years ago. The years and the traffic had contracted the pores and deepened the color, until it looked as superb in its chromatic intensity as an antique Chinese vase. It was made into a cabinet, and has today a place of honor in the drawing-room of a wealthy New York family.
So there is a vast difference between the quality of old people who have lived flabby, self-indulgent, useless lives, and the fiber of those who have sailed all seas and carried all cargoes as the servants of God and the helpers of their fellow men.
Not only the wrenching and straining of life, but also something of the sweetness of the cargoes carried get into the very pores and fiber of character.
—Louis Albert Banks
When the sun goes below the horizon he is not set; the heavens glow for a full hour after his departure. And when a great and good man sets, the sky of this world is luminous long after he is out of sight. Such a man cannot die out of this world. When he goes he leaves behind him much of himself. Being dead, he speaks.
When Victor Hugo was past eighty years of age he gave expression to his religious faith in these sublime sentences: “I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest which has been more than once cut down. The new shoots are livelier than ever. I am rising toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but Heaven lights me with its unknown worlds.
“You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets, and the roses as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple.”
A precious drop of honey
By: Charles Spurgeon
‘Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.’ Isaiah 49:16
Suggested Further Reading: Deuteronomy 33:1–5
We have heard of one, an eastern queen, who so loved her husband that she thought even to build a mausoleum to his memory was not enough. She had a strange way of proving her affection, for when her husband’s bones were burned she took the ashes and drank them day by day, that, as she said, her body might be her husband’s living sepulchre. It was a strange way of showing love. But what shall I say of this divine, celestial, unobjectionable, sympathetic mode of showing remembrance, by cutting it into the palms? Words fail to express our intense content with this most admirable sign of tenderness and fond affection. It appears to me as though the King had said, ‘Shall I carve my people upon precious stones? Shall I choose the ruby, the emerald, the topaz? No; for these all must melt in the last general conflagration. What then? Shall I write on tables of gold or silver? No, for all these may canker and corrupt, and thieves may break through and steal. Shall I cut the memorial deep on brass? No, for time would wear it, and the letters would not long be legible. I will write on myself, on my own hand, and then my people will know how tender I am, that I would sooner cut into my own flesh than forget them; I will have my Son branded in the hand with the names of his people, that they may be sure he cannot forsake them; hard by the memorial of his wounds shall be the memorial of his love to them, for indeed his wounds are an everlasting remembrance.’ How loving, then, how full of superlative, super-excellent affection is God toward you and toward me in so recording our names.
For meditation: When he appeared before God on behalf of the people, the Old Testament high priest carried on his clothing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (Exodus 28:9–12,29) and the guilt of the people (Exodus 28:36–38). Our great High Priest has carried in his own body the sins of his people (Isaiah 53:4–6; 1 Peter 2:24), knows every believer by name (John 10:3) and appears before God on their behalf (Hebrews 7:25; 9:24). Are you represented by him?