Posts Tagged ‘remembrance sunday’

Remembering the Sacrifice – and the Victory

November 10, 2018

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I discovered a little article in recent times concerning the “Souls family,” which I feel is very relevant on a weekend in which we remember the dead of two World Wars and later conflicts. On this Remembrance Sunday in particular, widespread events will be held to mark the centenary of the First World War.

It is also 100 years since Arthur Souls and Alfred Souls (twins aged 30) both lost their lives in Flanders fields. This was two years after the death of their brothers: Albert, Frederick and Walter Souls who were all killed in action in 1916. Five brothers from the one household… my heart goes out to their mother and father, Annie and William Souls (humble English country folk) who must have endured such grief. The couple had a family of six healthy sons in total and it is heart-breaking to think that five of their boys were killed in this way. Upon research I discovered that Annie Souls never stood again for the anthem “God Save the King” but her terrible grief was further compounded when their youngest surviving son died from meningitis.

The awful reality is, though, that many young people today know little about what certain wars were all about and the enormous sacrifices that were made. War would appear senseless and yet most of us realise that democracies must be protected from certain tyrants who rise up in every era (and in all parts of the world) to threaten those democracies that we take for granted.

It is respectful to remember both the sacrifices that were made in these wars and those who made them… but how much more should we honour the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who made the ultimate sacrifice ever in the history of mankind? “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Peter 2v24)

Wars and conflicts through the ages have resulted in heartbreak for mothers and fathers, husbands, wives and children but when the man Christ Jesus “offered one sacrifice for sins for ever” he arose in glorious victory, defeating the greatest enemy that mankind has ever had to face – forever. He heals the broken hearted and He comforts the bereaved in their darkest hours, if only they would acknowledge their need of Him, His sacrifice for them – and trust Him to save them.

The greatest enemy we will ever have to face (and the father of all tyrants in this world who arise to distress us) has permanently been defeated by the Lord Jesus Christ and His unspeakable sacrifice. Praise God, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1Corintinians 15v54)

The saved can say… “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15v55-57)

This King of Kings and Lord of Lords, of whom it is said: “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come,” (Ephesians 1v21) lives to heal the wounded soul and gives us the victory over sin and death and hell.

How can we remember and honour His great sacrifice? For those who don’t know Him…. By acknowledging their sins and trusting in Him to cleanse them from all unrighteousness (1 John 1v9) and trusting their future lives into His care. And for those who walk the narrow path, to be “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1Corinthians 15v58)

Today we have “wars and rumours of war” but it is acknowledged that an outright “Third World War” could be a nuclear war, resulting in the end of life as we know it on the universe today. To all He says…

“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 24v44)

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation….?” (Hebrews 2v3)

 

Lest we Forget!

November 13, 2011

The following is a short extract from the end of one of my stories in “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year.” The story entitled: Wars, Rumours of War, Three Hostages… and the Prayers of the Saints (Matt. 21v22 & Matt. 24v6-8) tells of how a young woman, Annetta Flanagan from the small village of Richhill in Northern Ireland was taken hostage by the Taliban back in 2004. Many Christians in the Richhill area prayed fervently and I thank the Lord that Annetta and her two colleagues were released unharmed some weeks later…

“The dawn of Tuesday 23rd November 2004, brought that release of Annetta and her colleagues – almost a month after they were taken hostage on Thursday 28th October. The details of the release were vague – probably because no one wanted to jeopardise those who could be involved in possible future hostage situations. One of their captors is believed to have been shot dead, but the three victims were safe and well. Only those involved in this traumatic event knew how it was for them, and are able to tell their story. But from the moment that I heard that breaking news, I wanted to tell a story – a story of the great power of our wonderful Saviour, for whom all things are possible, and I wanted that story to have a happy ending. I thank God that it did!

With tears in my eyes, I looked at all types of newspapers on display that week, depicting the smiling face of Annetta as she headed home to be re-united with loved ones. A headline in one Dublin newspaper announced: “Town rejoices as power of prayer brings Annetta home.” (Irish Independent, Wednesday 24th November 2004).  Even the secular world was acknowledging the power of prayer!

It is interesting to note that during their time in captivity, three Afghan women offered to take the place of the three hostages! What a noble gesture – and yet on hearing of this I was immediately struck by the words of Romans 5v7… “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” No doubt the Afghan ladies saw the injustice in threatening to kill people who were merely helping with democratic elections. However, who would offer his or her life for someone whom, in his or her view, was evil and even deserved death? Nevertheless we read… “But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5v8) The righteous Son of God laid down His life for all (1Tim. 2v5&6) in the knowledge that nothing less than this enormous sacrifice could ever redeem the human race. 

Valiant soldiers through the ages gave their lives, so that democracy would overcome the tyrants of this world.  Annually we remember the dead of two World Wars, and the sacrifices that were made. How much more then, should we acknowledge and honour Jesus, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9v6) who gave His life for the billions of souls throughout the ages, to redeem them to Himself? I have no doubt that he has spoken to souls through this and other traumatic events, and that He will continue to speak to them in the days that lie ahead – so that they may trust Him for eternity, escaping a worse situation than they have been involved in, upon this earth. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55v8&9). A short time after the event, I wrote to a local newspaper wishing the released hostages a full recovery after their horrific ordeal. My letter concluded with the words of Ephesians 3v20&21, which I feel is an apt conclusion to a story that must give God the glory. Perhaps, too, it may have even more joyful implications than we would ever have dreamed possible… “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen.”

Morning, noon and night our whispered anxious prayers,

Rose in silent anguish to the throne of He who cares.

Oh blessed Lord, we thank thee now, for thou hast said: “Believe…

For if ye are my servants… ye shall indeed receive!”