One hundred fifty years ago today, January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the famous Emancipation Proclamation. The document, issued by Lincoln’s authority as Commander in Chief of the Armed Services, was not passed by Congress. The purpose of the proclamation was to free all slaves that were in the Confederate States. States that were currently at war with the Union did not follow the mandate, but as areas were captured by the Union Army and set free, slaves in those states were emancipated.
It was argued that Lincoln really didn’t really free any slaves as of 1/1/1863 due to the fact that the northern states didn’t embrace slavery and no southern states came under Union control as of the first of the year. However, I do believe that the date of the proclamation has some impact on the way we look at this. Because we all look at each January 1st as a new beginning and I like to believe that Lincoln was thinking the same way. The rebel states paid no heed to his proclamation but as the North advanced, slaves were freed along the way.
January 1st is probably the best day of the year to be set free. Everything is new. We can forget about the past and concentrate on the future. A clean slate. Which reminds me that January 1st is also probably the best date to review your faith journey and re-dedicate your commitment to God. In the event that you haven’t yet accepted the free gift of eternal life, perhaps it it time you think about accepting God’s Emancipation Proclamation. It’s even simpler than Lincoln’s. Because all you have to do is believe – that’s right. Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. With that simple declaration you will have accepted the greatest emancipation that any man or woman can ever have.
I won’t bore you with any other stories for tonight, but I’m sure you will be interested in the verse. It’s the most basic and fundamental verse about Christianity in the entire Bible. It’s the cornerstone upon which the entire faith is founded – the verse that can set you free this January 1st. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him shall never die, but have everlasting life”.
Everything else is based on this elementary truth. My encouragement this evening is that God is listening every day to the things that are important to you. My prayer is that you’ll listen to His whispers as well. Because there’s nothing like being set free. Have a great New Year, and a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…