Archive for the ‘God’ Category

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“Helpless Look To Thee For Grace”

April 30, 2009

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races. And if they’re not in a marathon they are in a triathlon — that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.

 

It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can’t walk or talk.

 

For the past twenty five years or more Dick, who is 65, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines. When Dick runs, Rick is in a wheelchair that Dick is pushing. When Dick cycles, Rick is in the seat-pod from his wheelchair, attached to the front of the bike. When Dick swims, Rick is in a small but heavy, firmly stabilized boat being pulled by Dick.

 

This is not a new story to most of you. You have probably seen news reports or specials about the closeness of this father and son team. Below is a video that I hope you will take a few minutes to look at and listen to. It is not just the retelling of their story. The music uses their visual images to teach a much greater lesson. It is a lesson about our own redemption. It tells your story and my story. As I looked at this video a verse from an old song came to mind.

 

Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.”

 

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When Is A Lion A Lamb?

September 11, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My good friend Jim Pounders recommended I read a sermon today that was based on Revelation Chapter Five. God is seated on the throne and in His hand is a scroll that has seven seals on it. The question is asked, “Who is worthy to open the seals?’ There was no one worthy. John, the writer of the vision, began to weep because no one was able to open the seals. Then one of the Elders tells John “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” Rev. 5:5. He is called the LION, you know, the King of the Jungle, able to rip his prey to pieces. The image of Aslin from the Chronicles of Narnia comes to mind. As John wipes away the tears and turns his attention to the Throne once again expecting no doubt to see this ferocious beast and there between the Throne and the four beasts standing among the Elders is a Lamb. Obvious wounds are visible for this Lamb had been a sacrifice.

 

But the sacrifice is alive again and not only worthy because of His death to open the seals, He is the object of worship from all of those around the throne. Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Rev. 5:9, 10

 

The sermon writer asks, “How can a Lion be a Lamb”? “The two are opposites. One is the hunter and the other the prey. One is placed in a cage with iron bars; the other in a petting zoo. We have all heard of an oxymoron. It is where seemingly contradictory terms are combined. It is an oxymoron to talk about jumbo shrimp, fresh frozen food, or a holy war. We talk about a cool heat, or a deafening silence. A lion-like lamb is an oxymoron. The terms do not belong together — except in heaven. Here the lion is the lamb. His power was found in his death, because with his death he purchased the souls of people, and he was thereby made worthy to open the scroll.”

We look around today and it would appear that Christians are not winning the battle. Evil seems to reign and the future looks bleak. Some question, “Why doesn’t God intervene and stop all this sin”? We sometimes don’t know how to respond when God has the appearance of weakness. Our sermon writer continues,

 

What about a God who appears to be weak? What if it looks like evil is winning and most people are on evil’s side? What if people who follow Christ are ridiculed and even persecuted? What if it becomes a disadvantage to be a Christian? What then? Then only the people who truly love God follow God and live for him. Only those who love God, for who he is, rather than what they can get out of him, dare to be called by his name. Only those who love the truth, regardless of how weak or irrelevant it is made to appear by the world, will follow the truth. It does not take courage to follow what everyone else believes and does, it takes courage to follow the truth when others do not understand and belittle what you believe. It takes courage to do the right thing even though you are punished for it at work or school. It takes courage to stand up for what is right when everyone else thinks you are wrong. These are the kind of people God wants for his followers. Anyone can take the easy road, and you don’t have to be much of a person to do it. But Jesus said we must, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13)”.

 

What we fail to recognize is that God IS in control regardless of appearances.

 

“Remember the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane? The guards came to get Jesus, armed with swords and clubs. Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of them, but Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:52-53). Jesus was completely in control, even though he allowed it to appear that others were in control of him, and even of history”.

 

On October 30, 1974, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman squared off in the boxing ring in Zaire. Ali had dubbed it “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Foreman was heavily favored, and considered the hardest puncher in heavyweight history. Ali did something in that fight that no other fighter had ever dared to try. He held up his arms against his face and leaned back against the ropes allowing Foreman to punch away at him for eight rounds. The strongest boxer in history beat on Ali until he could punch no more. When the right moment came, Ali bounced off the ropes and knocked out Foremen, sending him into retirement. Ali called his technique “rope-a-dope.” Even though it looked like he was losing the fight, and losing badly, he was in control the whole time. He took all those punches because he knew he would deliver the final blow.
So when you get discouraged and you look around for hope and see little of it, just remember that God is using the “rope-a-dope” technique on the world of evil. He wants followers that not only trust Him in the good time, but in the tough times as well. It is then that we give honor and glory to the Lion who is a Lamb.

Excerpts taken from Sermon Central and a sermon by:

Rodney J. Buchanan
January 13, 2002
Mulberry Street UMC
Mt. Vernon, OH 43050
http://www.MulberryUMC.org
Rod.Buchanan@MulberryUMC.org

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God Is In Control

July 11, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recently began a new class that I entitled, “The Fullness Of Time Had Come” subtitled, “A study of New Testament History and The World Into Which Jesus Came” Whew… I know that is a mouth full, but it was longer (-: (I have a support blog for this class HERE)

It has been such a blessing to watch the hand of God orchestrate the rise and fall of Kings and their Empires to prepare the world to be just the right world into which His Son would be born.

One thing has been made clear to me once again and that is God will use all men/women, regardless of their belief in or disbelief in Him, to accomplish His purposes. Man with his over inflated ego and sinful nature cries fowl. Charges of prejudice, selfishness and unfair are flung toward heaven. “Where is man’s free will”, they ask? Yet with calm resolve He continues to bring forth the fulfillment of His Devine purposes on the earth.

A second thing has been made clear to me once again and that is that God continues to use men/women, regardless of their belief in or disbelief in Him, to accomplish His purposes. I along with many other have lamented the lack of great choices in the upcoming presidential elections. “Where is the next Ronald Reagan”, when you need him? And yet with his continued calm resolve He continues to bring forth the fulfillment of His Devine purposes on the earth.

Through scripture he shows us His working in the hearts and wills of men. Through faith we know He continues to do so. It is often quoted, and still so very true, I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.

“remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’11 calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.” Isa. 44:9-11

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Tommorrow Is Packing Day

May 21, 2008

1500 boxes each containing 4 small back packs filled with goodies will be packed and made ready to ship on Friday. Each of the 6000 back packs will contain a small stuffed animal to be giving to a child. Over 31,000 dollars has been given to pay for the shipping and even the Post Office is finally on board. They will come to our building to do the paper work and then provide a truck to take all the boxes to the shipping point. Praise our Father who provides! Channel 5 did an on location shoot for their 6:00pm broad cast. Here is the video.

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The Shack

February 19, 2008

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I am deeply indebted to Tommy at Believing Thomas Blog for his recommendation of “The Shack”.  I have never been a big fan of novels, but this one is special in so many ways. I just finished reading it this morning, and I am totally in awe. Stop what you are doing and order this book!

Eugene Peterson is comparing it to John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”. I think he may be right. I have recommended it to our Life Group as a possible text for our future studies together.

While you will not see scripture quoted, you will see scripture applied and God in three persons may just become more real to you than ever before. And you may just be given a peak into the answer to the question that we have all ask at one time or another…Why…? Some will no doubt want to debate its doctrinal accuracy, as if they had all the answers themselves, so read it for what it is…a novel. A novel that might just change your life.

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Huckabee…A Politician That Tells It Like It Is.

September 18, 2007
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The Thief On The Cross

June 20, 2007

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The story of the thief on the cross, as it has come to be known, is such a powerful testimony to the wonderful grace of God. While there were two crucified with Jesus we only remember the one because of the change that takes place as he hangs suspended between heaven and earth, oddly enough, about to leave the one for the other, escorted to paradise by the Lord Himself.

As I was doing research on this topic for tonight’s lessons at Madison I did a Google search and I was amazed to find that the vast majority of links that were brought up were lessons being taught by ministers of my tribe. My amazement quickly turned to sadness as I saw that link after link dealt with the necessity of Baptism for salvation and how this conversion was an exception rather than the rule. Over and over again, link after link and little or no emphasis on the wonderful grace of Jesus. Is Grace not the lesson! Is that not why this wonderful story is in the scripture?

There is something in our human nature that causes us to not like the thief. An outlaw hell-bent and hung out to dry one minute, and is paradise bound with an escort by the very son of God the next. With His dying breath Jesus pardons an outlaw who would have zero opportunity for spiritual growth or be able to do one work of gratitude. Hands and feet that might have been used in service to Christ are now fastened to a cross. A tongue that might have been used to praise His name now cleaves to the roof of his mouth from thirst. He had nothing to offer, absolutely nothing to offer.

The world tells us we deserve praise when we are good. We are not comfortable when someone does a good deed for us, until we can find a way to repay. We pride our self’s on being a people who “pull themselves up by their boot straps.” Like the cartoon of the two Pharisees arguing when one says,” We get our salvation the old fashion way, we earn it.” Or have you heard some well meaning person say at a funeral about the diseased, “If she doesn’t make it to heaven, there is no hope for any of us,” as if doing enough good gets our ticket punched.

The only choice that this dieing thief had was to trust by faith. He had no time, no opportunity, so he sought the only thing left…mercy. And he finds out that was all he needed. Oh the wonderful grace of Jesus.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph. 2:4-9.