sum of the whole matter is this, that our civilization cannot survive
materially unless it is redeemed spiritually.It can be saved only by becoming permeated with the Spirit of Christ and
being made free and happy by the practices which spring out of that
Spirit.Only thus can discontent be
driven out and all the shadows lifted from the road ahead.
all my heart I want Your blessings.
Be merciful as You promised. I pondered the direction of my life,
and I turned to follow Your laws. I will hurry, without delay,
to obey Your commands."(Psalm
119:58-60 NLT) Freedom
does not mean the absence of constraints or moral absolutes. Suppose a skydiver
at 10,000 feet announces to the rest of the group, "I'm not using a
parachute this time. I want freedom."
fact is that the skydiver is constrained by a greater law -- the law of
gravity. When the skydiver chooses the "constraint" of the parachute,
she is free to enjoy the exhilaration.
laws operate the same way: they restrain, but they are absolutely necessary to
enjoy the exhilaration of real freedom. -- Colin Campbell
have a small collection of baseball cards. The card that is worth the most is
called "Future Stars" and is valued at $100. There are three players
on this card. The first is Jeff Schneider. Schneider played 1 year of
professional baseball, pitched in 11 games, and gave up 13 earned runs in those
11 games. The second player is Bobby Bonner, who played 4 years of baseball but
only appeared in 61 games, with 8 runs batted in, and 0 home runs. The third
"Future Star" played 21 years for the Baltimore Orioles and appeared
in 3,001 games. He came to bat 11,551 times, collected 3,184 hits and 431 home
runs, and batted in 1,695 runs. His name is Cal Ripken, Jr.
imagine if you met Bobby Bonner, and he shook your hand and boasted, "Did
you know that my baseball card is worth over $100?" You would laugh
because you know the worth of the card has nothing to do with him.
That's how it is when we come to Christ and point to our good
works, our statistics, and ask, "Is this good enough?" If you want to
hold up your stats to God, you don't have a chance. But when you put your faith
in Christ, His statistics become yours, and your "baseball card"
becomes worth a lot because of someone else's stats.
Bonner and Jeff Schneider's baseball card is worth $100, not because of their
statistics, but because of what someone else has done. --
are a problem. Take this one, for instance: "There is no such thing as a
free lunch." This sentiment is heard frequently, particularly at election
time when politicians promise the earth without elaborating the cost. But it is
not true that nobody gets a free lunch. Clearly some fortunate people do. But
it is also true that somebody somewhere picks up the tab. In the interest of
accuracy, we should really say, "While some people get a free lunch,
somebody has paid for it."…
does a person get right with God?" A commonly heard answer to this is,
"By doing enough good to outweigh the bad he's done." Should we then
respond, "But the Bible says, 'The free gift of God is eternal life'"
(Romans 6:23), the answer will not infrequently be, "There's no such thing
as a free lunch!" Many people unfortunately base their theology on this
us -- salvation is free. But is there such a thing as free salvation?
Certainly, provided we understand that Someone has paid the price. Christ did
that. "When He was hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the curse for
our wrongdoing" (Galatians 3:13). So we enjoy the benefits of salvation
freely, by faith (3:14). Some people enjoy a free lunch because someone else
paid. And heaven will be full of people who enjoy a free salvation because
Jesus paid! And what a price.
a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I
don't see many of "the brightest and the best" among you, not many
influential, not many from high-society families. Isn't it obvious that God
deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and
abuses, chose these "nobodies" to expose the hollow pretensions of
the "somebodies"? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get
by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have -- right
thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start -- comes from God by
way of Jesus Christ. That's why we have the saying, "If you're going to
blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God."
when the right time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, subject to the
law. God sent Him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that He
could adopt us as His very own children. And because we are His children, God
has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out,
"Abba, Father'." (Galatians 4:4-6)
wasn't until I was a parent that I began to realize God's desire to be intimate
with His children.Spiritually I was
born into God's family, just as my children were physically born into our
family.But it is not enough just to
bear children; a loving parent has a great desire to have a vital relationship,
a bond of intimacy with his or her child.In a small way, I understand God's desire to be lovingly involved with
and close to us, just as I love and want to be near my children.
is well acquainted with our way; He has laid His hand upon us.His thoughts toward us are precious.He is our Shepherd, who asks us to "seek
His face."He is our Savior, whose
desire for intimacy is ultimately manifest in the Cross.He is our loving Father, who has adopted us
so that He can be intimate with us.God
does long to be with His children. --
Cynthia Heald in Intimacy with God
learning the importance of rest. If always on the go, I'm exhausted. I need
some quiet time. My physical health depends upon it. My emotional health
depends on slowing down. To deal with the stress of life, I need a time of
calm. My spiritual life depends on it. I can't make it on my own but depend on
my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
J. David Muyskens in Sacred Breath: Forty Days of Centering Prayer,
Copyright 2010. Used with permission of Upper Room Books
A voice says,
Then I said, "What shall I cry
"Say all people are like the grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of
The grass dies and the flowers fall
when the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are like grass.
The grass dies and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God will live
-- Isaiah 40:6-8 (NCV)
You have been born again,
and this new life did not come from something that dies, but from something
that cannot die. You were born again through God's living message that
continues forever. The Scripture says,
"All people are like the grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of
The grass dies and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord will live forever."
And this is the word that was preached to you.
-- 1 Peter 1:23-25 (NCV)
can stand on the promise of Isaiah, echoed by Peter: "The grass withers
and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever."
Maybe I say this because I’m
a preacher, but one of the things I hate about death is the silence. When there
are no more words and the labored breathing gradually ebbs away into nothing,
and in the darkened room all is silent, that’s what I hate. The conversation
that so consumed a life, that give-and-take between God and one of God’s
children, is ended. Silence.
Now, with the last breath
and in the dark stillness, deadly silence, the next word is up to God. “And God
said, ‘Let there be light….’” Christians are those who fully expect that the
God who was so determined to talk with us in life shall also speak to us in
death. Our last day in this life shall be like the first day of Creation.
Evening, changed to morning; our end, by the grace of God, fresh beginning,
“The spirit of the LORD speaks through me, His word
is upon my tongue…. like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a
cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on grassy land.” (2 Samuel 23:2,4)
gymnast Gabrielle Douglas says her faith helped her manage the pressures of
competing on a world stage to win gold. “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may
I never forget the good things He does for me.” These are the first words
16-year-old gymnast Gabrielle Douglas tweeted after she won the all-around gold
medal at the 2012 London
Olympics... On the stadium floor, Douglas also
told a reporter that “The glory goes up to Him, and the blessings fall down on
“Therefore, since we are
surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip
off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us
up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by
keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame.
Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the
hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give
up.”(Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT)
word is hupomone, which does not mean the [patient endurance] which sits
down and accepts things but the [patient endurance] which masters them.It is not some romantic thing, which lends us
wings to fly over the difficulties and the hard places.It is the determination, unhurrying and yet
undelaying, which goes steadily on and refuses to be deflected.Obstacles do not daunt it and discouragements
do not take its hope away.It is the
steadfast endurance which carries on until in the end it gets there.
"I discipline my body
like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after
preaching to others I myself might be disqualified."(1 Corinthians 9:17 NLT)
Part of discipline is doing
things by the rules. The Christian needs to have a concern for any significant
break in the discipline which would take them out of the opportunity to serve
Christ and His Body for even a short period of time.
One of the most classic
cases in the Olympics of disqualification occurred in the 1908 marathon. Having
run through the streets, until finally he staggered into the stadium, falling
four times as he made the oval around the stadium, he was finally helped across
the finish line by some well-meaning members of his team. He was disqualified
as the winner because he had been helped. He had won the race, but the rules
had been broken.
There are people in the
Christian life who think that the ends justify any means you use. Do anything
as long as you get results. The Olympics are telling us that the means are as
important as the ends. That disqualification ought to be a concern, and the
training and discipline of the Christian life ought always to be part of our
– George O. Wood in a sermon titled “The Christian
It is hard to draw from the Olympics an analogy of what
Christ has done for us. His actions on the cross, done on our behalf, won the
prize of eternal life for us, when we couldn't do it on our own. I couldn't
imagine anything in the Olympics to parallel that -- that is until I turned on
the Today Show one morning during the 1996 Summer Olympics. I could not believe
my ears. A U.S. swimmer had
just won an Olympic medal, in fact it was the first medal won by the United States
in the 1996 Summer Games. But instead of keeping it for herself, she gave it to
a close friend, Marcie, a fellow swimmer who was dealing with cancer. The medalist
was quoted as saying, "It just made me realize how precious life is. She's
fighting for her life. She's really a hero to me. Swimming's great, but it's
not the only thing." You see, the swimmer won the medal for someone who,
because of cancer, could not win it for herself. And guess what the Olympic
medal swimmer's name was... Angel!
we are like that friend who has cancer. Because of sin we cannot, by our selves,
win the gold -- the prize of eternal life. Sin has weighted us down. Sin has
broken our spirit. But we have a friend, not an "angel," but the very
Son of God, who paid the price and won the prize, and has now given it to us.
Like Angel's friend Marcie, we must accept that prize to make it ours. Marcie
couldn't earn it. We cannot earn our salvation. It is a free gift from God
waiting for our acceptance.
Rev. David T. Wilkinson in a sermon entitled "On Your Marks, Get Set,