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Three longs days have passed since the fire has gone out. Gloominess engulfs the earth. Hatred has triumphed over love and compassion. War has defeated peace. Patience has been obliterated by anxiety and kindness has been annihilated by cruelty. Jubilation has been abolished by feelings of grief and sorrow. The foundation of faith has failed. The cornerstone of conviction is cracked. The basis of belief has been blown apart. The labor of loyalty is now loathed. The devotion to devoutness is damaged. The commitment to compassion has been compromised. And the determination of discipleship has been destroyed.
But yet, deep in the hearts and character of his elect the fire smolders. The flames of faith, even though dampened by disillusionment and contained by contentment, still live on in the recesses of the soul. All it will take is the fortitude to flame the embers of enthusiasm once again.
What will that take? When will it happen? What can be expected? Will it occur just as the fire has predicted? Is it now time for the fire to be rekindled into a blaze of glory once again?
Yes! The sealed tomb is open! It is empty! He is not here! The grave could not contain Him! He has risen as He said! He’s alive! Like the legendary phoenix raising out of the ashes the fire is aflame with its fullness once again! Yet this is no legend! It is authentic! The fire is blazing around the world forever more! Blaze, Spirit Blaze! Set the World on fire! Yes, out of a pile of ash rises an all encompassing fire! Once again, we can feel its warmth! Once again, our darkness is dispelled! No more doubt! No more need to deny knowing Him! No more necessity for betrayal.
Our discipleship had been dampened; our commitment, compressed; our devoutness, deterred; our loyalty, lacking; our belief system, bothered; our conviction, crushed; our faith, floundered; our joy, jostled; our patience, perplexed; our peace, pelted; our love, lowered; and our compassion, cooled. Yet, now the firestorm of Jesus is burning deep within your and my soul! Our discipleship is now determined to be dutiful; our commitment, catchy; our devoutness, definite; our loyalty, likely; our belief system, bona fide; our conviction, certain; our faith, full; our joy, jubilant; our patience, practical; our peace, pure; our love, lively; and our compassion, compliant and dutiful. Out of the ashes, comes the Savior of the world.
R. David Reynolds
I believe the Holy Spirit is beginning to form in my heart His vision for us at Trinity United Methodist Church. It’s just beginning to take form, but I am certain it includes “Bringing Good News to the Poor.” I have always appreciated the popular song “Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Ani Difranco, because of its catchy tune and rhythm. One line in sticks in my mind: “You gotta show him that you care just for him.” [SOURCE: http://www.theromantic.com/lovesongs/wishingandhoping.htm].
A MAN, HIS MAKER AND A LIE
“Nemo moriturus praesumitur mentire”! Now is this Latin maxim, all “Greek and Latin” to my congregation? I can “justifiably” empathize with those not in touch with the “World of Justice” for it is the Latin maxim carrying a lot of relevance to only men donning black and white coats and honorable Judges carrying gavel. It simply means a man will not meet his Maker with a lie in his mouth, as such the final last words of any dying individual involved in a case carries lot of legal sanctity. That there are many instances’ of they (Dying declarations) totally tilting the legal proceedings one-way or the other is an indisputable fact! Section 32 (1) of Indian Evidence Act, deals with the significance of the Dying declarations.
Now let’s switch tracks and come to the spiritual realm. The famous last words of many a Biblical giant are of special significance to us, for they are not only truly authentic but also highly inspirational. While “aspire to inspire before you expire” is a catchy, insightful one-liner, when it comes to the lives of numerous heroes’ of faith, it is how they expired with motivational words seemingly on their dying lips, which leaves an indelible impression in us all. In this sermon, I intend to capture and encapsulate the final moments of some of Biblical stalwarts including the GREATEST OF EM’ ALL, drawing valuable lessons in the process…
In dire need of a beauty makeover, I went to my salon with a fashion magazine photo of a gorgeous, young, lustrous-haired model.
I showed the stylist the trendy new cut I wanted and settled into the chair as he began humming a catchy tune and got to work on my thin, graying hair.
I was delighted by his cheerful attitude until I recognize...
THEY DID NOT FEAR DEATH
Many of you have read Foxe's Book of Martyrs. It’s certainly not light bedtime reading, but is nevertheless inspiring and relevant as we look at this passage of scripture this morning.
It’s important to remember that each of the apostles suffered persecution, and most died as martyrs. Tradition says Peter was crucified upside down, Paul was beheaded. Andrew, after being ordered by a Roman governor to stop preaching Christ or face execution, reportedly told the Romans:
"I would not have preached the honor and glory of the cross if I feared the death of the cross."
Foxe writes: "Death was not considered enough punishment for the Christians, who were subjected to the cruelest treatment possible. They were whipped, disemboweled, torn apart, and stoned. Plates of hot iron were laid on them, they were strangled, eaten by wild animals, hung, and tossed on the horns of bulls. After they were dead, their bodies were piled in heaps and left to rot without burial....Nevertheless, the Church continued to grow, deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles and watered with the blood of the saints."
The foundation of the doctrine of the apostles that Foxe wrote of was the resurrection. How in the world did the church continue to grow in the face of treatment like this?
Today, so many of our churches seek to grow by telling people to come here, we'll help meet your needs, you'll be happy here. Can you imagine one of those cute church signs ...