Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Battle For Life

The fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the court case that legalized abortion in the U.S., is a reminder of some sobering truths. First, more than 55 million babies have been denied life over the past four decades. In addition, millions of women have been wounded by a society that promotes a cheap version of freedom; a “choice” that falsely promises to erase personal responsibility.

The ongoing struggle over abortion has demonstrated that political and legal efforts often fail to yield significant changes. Nevertheless, some limited victories have been won. Laws have been passed that enforce reasonable regulations on the horrible practice of abortion, but abortion is still the law of the land and millions still suffer each year.

Advances in technology have consistently eroded the argument that an unborn child is nothing more than a blob of tissue invading a woman’s body. Three-dimensional sonograms now yield images of a fetus that are so detailed that one feels as if the baby’s privacy is being infringed.

The photo of a tiny hand reaching out of its mother’s womb to grasp the finger of the surgeon working to save his life is worth far more than a thousand words. The burden of proof is increasingly on those who say that unborn babies are not persons.

Sadly, the accumulating data also proves that abortion is harmful to women. But this is also a reminder of the great grace of our Lord Jesus. As is true with any sinner, anyone who has been involved in abortion can turn to God and experience his mercy. To leave behind the violent ways of this deceptive world and follow Christ is the path to true freedom.

One encouraging development in recent years is the changing attitude of young people toward abortion. A new generation is making their views known and they are more pro-life than the general population. They are expressing reservations about the views of their parents, views that have led to a massive and prolonged killing spree.

The new attitude among young people is a reminder that we can lose political battles and still win the war. The societies and cultures of this dark and broken world establish institutions and traditions that are often dysfunctional. Yet the gospel of Jesus Christ changes individual lives, bringing new life, new hope, and new direction.

Finally, the abortion issue reminds us that our spiritual battles are very real and that they have very real consequences. Lives are at stake. The astronomical numbers can render the issue faceless but we cannot let that happen. Each child and each mother are of untold value.

Recently a baby was born so early that she had to be weighed before doctors could decide if they should help her to survive. The scales said 1 pound, the minimum weight, and so they kept her alive. Later someone discovered that a pair of scissors had been on the scales, tipping the balance in little Maddalena’s favor. A lot of other babies need someone to tip the balance in their favor, too.

Many young people still need to hear the truth. Many not-so-young people still need to experience God’s mercy. And this is only one of many pressing issues we face. What a comfort it is to know that our Lord is capable of the impossible and that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. Let’s fight the good fight!

May the light of God’s love shine clearly through us despite the darkness,

Brother Richard Foster
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

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Jesus Died To Unite Black and White

The Bible presents Jesus’ death on an old rugged cross as the crown jewel of God’s salvation and the climax of his revelation. As a precious diamond unveils numerous spectrums of beautiful light when turned slowly in the sun, Jesus’ sacrifice unveils multiple layers of truth about God’s salvation when we study the pages of the New Testament.

True, Jesus died so that any person can be forgiven of every sin and spend all eternity in the very Presence of Almighty God. His voluntary sacrifice is sufficient to save anyone who believes that God raised Jesus from the dead and confesses that Jesus is Lord.

But the Bible presents other important facets of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus’ sacrifice revealed God’s love, demonstrated God’s righteousness, established God’s law, liberated creation from death and decay, satisfied God’s anger, defeated Satan, and more.

The Bible also tells us that Jesus’ death on the cross removed the barrier between Jews and Gentiles. “He is our peace, who made the two groups one, who destroyed the dividing wall of hostility by his body” on the cross (Ephesians 2:14).

The Temple in Jerusalem was surrounded by courts, divided from each other by walls. Only the Jewish priests were allowed to enter the innermost court immediately surrounding the Temple. Only Jewish men could enter the court outside that inner court. Jewish women could only come as far as the next court.

All non-Jewish men and women, Gentiles, were restricted to the large outer court that surrounded the Jewish areas. Signs on the dividing wall were posted, threatening Gentiles with death if they tried to enter the Jewish courts nearer the Temple.

Soon after Jesus died on a Roman cross just outside of Jerusalem, mighty Roman armies led by Titus surrounded the city in order to crush a revolt. When the fighting was finished the Temple and all of its walls and courts were completely destroyed.

But a dividing wall still existed in the hearts of many early followers of Jesus. Jewish Christians did not want to worship with Gentile believers. They insisted that the Gentiles must change and become like them before they would accept them into their fellowship.

The sometimes bitter division between Jewish and Gentile Christians is a subject that occurs often in the New Testament. But after much arguing, praying, and soul-searching, the Early Church realized that established cultural divisions in their world had no place in the Church.

In Christianity “there is not Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female,” for all Christians are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). Jesus’ death destroyed the dividing wall of hostility that existed between different groups in the ancient world, even the acrimonious division between Jew and Gentile.

Jesus had already been preparing his followers for the day when cultural barriers would be removed in the Church. For instance, he took the time to speak with a Samaritan woman. Jews considered Samaritans to be unclean half-breeds and did everything they could to avoid contact with them.

When Jesus conversed with the Samaritan woman, commonly called the Woman at the Well, his disciples were stunned into silence. They were accustomed to treating some people as hopelessly unclean. And not only was she a Samaritan, she was a woman, definitely a second-class member of humanity in the first century.

But the cross of Christ broke through the ancient barriers built and reinforced by the hostility of sinful men and women, including racial barriers. Racism is not only a sin against people, it is an insult to God, the Maker of all races, and a denial of the power of Christ’s cross, the Savior of all nations.

John’s vision of heaven, which we call the Book of Revelation, tells us that Christ spent his precious blood on Calvary in order to purchase a people for God “from every tribe, language, people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

Jesus’ cross is not too weak to save us from our sin and reconcile us to God. Neither is the cross of Christ too weak to tear down the walls of hostility and reconcile us to one another, young and old, rich and poor, men and women, black and white.

It is true: many different groups exist within Christianity. Differences in doctrine, worship styles, schedules, and other matters make it easier for us to worship and serve our Lord in various local churches. Nevertheless, to use race as a dividing line between Christian and Christian is to deny the power of the cross.

Jesus died to provide victory over sin for his followers. Christians still struggle with sin, but Jesus’ death and resurrection guarantees success, so the battle is worth fighting.

Jesus died to remove the dividing wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles. The first-century church struggled with desegregating themselves, but Jesus’ death and resurrection guaranteed them success, so the battle was worth fighting.

Jesus died to remove all the dividing walls of hostility, including the one between white and black. Believers struggle with desegregated worship, but Jesus’ death and resurrection guarantees success, so the battle is worth fighting.

Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, January 2013

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Lord, Teach Us To Pray

Some people have a way with prayer. They are wonderful to hear, but they can also be intimidating. Listeners may get the idea that their own prayers are not worth hearing, or worse, that they need not try praying at all.

Surely Jesus had the most impressive prayer-life of anyone who ever walked the dusty roads of Israel, or of any country. But his prayers were not only impressive, they were inspiring. Once, after he finished praying, one of Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray.

Jesus could have told his disciples that they had no need to learn about prayer. He could have told them that their prayers were good enough. But he did not.

Or, Jesus might have told his disciples that they were not able to get any better at prayer. He could have said that his level of prayer was beyond them and so it would be futile for them to aspire to praying like him. But he did not.

Jesus apparently believed that his disciples could get better at prayer and so he gave them instruction. His disciples were ready and willing to learn from their Lord about how to improve their prayer. As a result, they learned from the Master about how to talk to God.

We, too, can get better at praying. Like Jesus’ first disciples, we can be inspired by the prayers of our Lord. His prayers create a desire within us to improve our ability at communicating openly and effectively with God.

Learning to pray better is something we can and should do together. Jesus’ disciple did not say, “Teach me to pray.” He said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus’ disciple apparently understood the importance of learning about prayer with his fellow disciples.

True, Jesus prayed alone and he taught his followers to have a private place of prayer, a prayer closet. But Jesus also prayed with his followers, where they could hear his prayers. And he taught them as a group how to speak with God through prayer.

Prayer is fundamental to our spiritual life. Prayer is our lifeline to the Lord. As we learn from our Savior how to get better at talking to God, we will grow stronger spiritually both as individual followers of Jesus and as a church family.

Pray often on your own, pouring out your heart to the Lord. Participate regularly in a local church family, learning how to communicate more effectively with the Lord. Attend prayer meetings, praying for others as they pray for you. And watch for opportunities to pray for anyone in need whom the Lord places in your path.

Lord, teach us to pray.

Brother Richard

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