Thursday, May 6, 2021

MAKING DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST

Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

Off the coast of Scotland is a little island where Christianity first took place in the nation. To accommodate the many tourists who want to make a trip across the bay to visit the historic site, there is a rental shop on the mainland where transportation can be obtained. Over the door of the small building, emblazoned in bold letters, is a signboard: “VISIT THE HOLY ISLE.” Then, more to the point, underneath are the words: “WE CAN TAKE YOU.”

In a much more profound sense, those last words express what the church should be doing -- taking people where the saints have trod. In practical terms, this means bringing men and women into the deeper and ever-expanding dimensions of holiness.

Such a ministry does not for a moment minimize the necessity of conversion, for the kingdom life cannot be entered until one is born of the Spirit. But the mandate of Christ is not to make converts, but to “make disciples” -- followers of Jesus -- persons who will develop into the likeness of the Master (Matthew 28:19-20). 

-- Robert E. Coleman in “Nothing to Do But to Save Souls: John Wesley’s Charge to His Preachers”


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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

GOD’S PERFECT LOVE

“Perfect love expels all fear.” (1 John 4:18) Couldn’t you use some fear expulsion? We can relate to the story of Louis Armstrong. The famous trumpeter grew up in rural Louisiana in the early 1900s. When he was a young boy, his Aunt Haddie often sent him to the creek for water. On one occasion, as he leaned over to fill his bucket, an alligator so scared the youngster that he dropped the pail and ran. His aunt told him to go back and get the water. “That alligator,” she assured, “is just as scared of you as you are of it.”

“If that’s the case,” he answered, “then the creek water ain’t fit to drink.”

Alligators lurk in our creeks, too. And when we see them, we react. We fear rejection, so we follow the crowd. We fear not fitting in, so we take the drugs. For fear of standing out, we wear what everyone else wears. For fear of blending in, we wear what no one else wears. For fear of sleeping alone, we sleep with anyone. For fear of not being loved, we search for love in all the wrong places.

But God flushes those fears. Those saturated in God’s love don’t sell out to win the love of others. They don’t even sell out to win the love of God.

Do you think you need to? Do you think, If I cuss less, pray more, drink less, study more… If I try harder, God will love me more? Sniff and smell Satan’s stench behind those words. We all need improvement, but we don’t need to woo God’s love. We change because we already have God’s love. God’s perfect love. 

-- Max Lucado in “Come Thirsty: No Heart Too Dry for His Touch”


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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

ANTICIPATING OUR TOMORROWS

“Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13-14 NRSV)

The sure sign that we have an authentic relationship with God is that we believe more in the future than in the past. The past can be neither a source of confidence nor a condemnation. God graciously divided our life into days and years so that we could let go of yesterdays and anticipate our tomorrows. For the past mistakes, God offers forgiveness and an ability to forget. For our tomorrows, He gives us the gift of expectation and excitement. 

-- Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie in “God’s Best for My Life”


#5090

Monday, May 3, 2021

A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, not angels, nor principalities, now powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

In the final days of his life, William Saroyan joked with a friend visiting him in the hospital.  "I always knew that people don't live forever," the famous writer said, "but somehow in my case, I thought there would be an exception made."  Like Saroyan, we all have trouble imagining our own deaths.  However as we grow older, that reality looms larger and larger.

I suppose I didn't really give dying much serious thought until a life-threatening illness visited me a few years ago.  Then my life came into perspective, and time was of the essence.  Shortcomings were magnified, mistakes easier to admit, forgiveness easier to ask, estrangements mended, things undone and unsaid acted upon.

Although the crisis passed, I was changed more than a little by my brush with death.  Time has become more precious, relationships more important, and God's manifold gifts and grace more appreciated.  And a magnificent piece of Scripture more meaningful than ever before.  It comes from Paul's letter to the Romans, the incomparable eighth chapter, which concludes with the question: "What can separate us from the love of Christ?"  The apostle's answer: Nothing. Not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or the sword. And certainly not death.

Once we have that assurance in our hearts, once we know and believe and trust the One Who died for us, the length of our life becomes far less important than its legacy, its duration far less significant than its contribution.

-- Fred Bauer 


#5089

Friday, April 30, 2021

DIVINE JUSTICE AND DIVINE MERCY

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate before the Father -- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”  (1 John 2:2 BSB)

By conveying the Bible to people… we thereby enable them to learn… that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer… that this Redeemer has made atonement "for the sins of the whole world", and thereby reconciling the Divine justice with the Divine mercy, has opened a way for our redemption and salvation; and that these inestimable benefits are of the free gift and grace of God, not of our deserving, nor in our power to deserve. 

-- Former U.S. Chief Justice John Jay, in an address on May 13, 1824 to the American Bible Society of which he was president.


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