Thursday, April 27, 2017

FINDING FREEDOM IN CHRIST

Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31b-32 NIV)

J. Walter Cross tells of flying a kite with his son Jay in southern Florida during some windy weather: The wind was strong, and the kite grew smaller and smaller as it tugged against the string. The harder the wind blew, the higher the kite rose. Then there was a sickening snap! The string had broken. The kite was free, but it was no longer soaring higher. It was tumbling, falling crazily to dash itself against the ground or become tangled in the trees. What kept the kite airborne was the restraint of the string. When that was lost, the kite was unable to fly. It is not the absence of restraints that makes us free.

There is no freedom in life until one belongs to God. Every other form of it is an illusion. We find the freedom to achieve the greatest desires of our lives only when we live in that relationship. When Christ binds us to Himself, then we are free.

-- J. Walter Cross, as quoted in the journal of “Homiletics”, October-December 1994


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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

THE POWER OF GOD TO TRANSFORM

"Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!"  (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

Jesus' supernatural vision regarding people's potential gave Him irrepressible optimism as He engaged with vagrants, liars, cowards, and crooks. To them all, the promise was the same. The old can become new, Jesus said. The fallen can be restored. The prideful can be humbled. The wanderers can come home. The weak can become strong. Derelicts can become disciples…

Jesus truly believed in the power of God to transform human lives -- a belief that motivated His insatiable pursuit of all sorts of people at all points on the spiritual spectrum. He was fierce in His determination to look past ill-timed comments and inappropriate actions. He dreamed about what could happen in a person's life if God's power was released in them -- and so He pushed through people's fear and sin, and He kept including people, loving people, and lifting people up to their fullest potential.

-- Bill Hybels in “Just Walk Across the Room"


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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

COSTLY GRACE

“For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  (1 Corinthians 6:20 NKJV)

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son; "you were bought with a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon His Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered Him up for us.

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer in “The Cost of Discipleship”


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Monday, April 24, 2017

GOD KNOWS ME

“I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands…” (Isaiah 49:15b-16a NIV)

What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it -- the fact that He knows me.  I am graven on the palms of His hands; I am never out of His mind.  All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me.  I know Him because He first knew me and continues to know me.

-- J. I. Packer in "Knowing God"


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Friday, April 21, 2017

A PEACE THAT ENDURES

“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”
(“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas Obediah Chisholm)

Peace comes when there is no cloud between us and God.  Peace is the consequence of forgiveness, God's removal of that which obscures His face and so breaks union with Him.  The happy sequence culminating in fellowship with God is repentance, pardon, and peace -- the first we offer, the second we accept, the third we inherit.

-- Charles H. Brent


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