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I WILL PAY THE FINE
Let's say you where caught speeding down this highway in front of the church. You were doing 100 mph, obviously slightly out of the acceptable speeding window. You go to court and just as the judge is about to throw the book at you, someone steps forward and says, "I will pay the fine. I will take the punishment." And you get off, without paying the fine, without any punishment at all. You have been justified, Made right in the eyes of the law. It doesn't change the fact that you were speeding, but the court sees you as innocent. That is what Christ did for us.
1 John 2:15-2:17
1 Kings 3:16-3:28
2 Corinthians 9:12-10:1
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ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
I know that sometimes it seems that everybody and his brother wants something from you.
IT HAD BEEN A HARD WINTER IN THE ROCKIES. THE SNOW PILED DEEPER AND DEEPER. THE TEMPERATURE DROPPED BELOW ZERO AND STAYED THERE. THE RIVERS FROZE OVER. PEOPLE WERE SUFFERING. THE RED CROSS USED HELICOPTERS TO FLY IN SUPPLIES.
AFTER A LONG HARD DAY, AS THEY WERE RETURNING TO THEIR BASE, THE RESCUE TEAM IN A HELICOPTER SAW A CABIN NEARLY SUBMERGED IN THE SNOW. A THIN WISP,OF SMOKE CAME FROM THE CHIMNEY. THE MEN FIGURED THOSE PEOPLE IN THAT CABIN WERE PROBABLY CRITICALLY SHORT OF FOOD, FUEL, AND MEDICINE. BECAUSE OF THE TREES THEY HAD TO SET DOWN ABOUT A MILE FROM THE CABIN. THEY PUT THEIR HEAVY EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT ON THEIR BACKS, TRUDGED THROUGH WAIST DEEP SNOW, AND REACHED THE CABIN EXHAUSTED, PANTING, AND PERSPIRING. THEY POUNDED ON THE DOOR AND A THIN, GAUNT MOUNTAIN WOMEN FINALLY ANSWERED.
THE LEAD MAN PANTED, "MA’AM, WE’RE FROM THE RED CROSS."
SHE WAS SILENT FOR A MOMENT, AND THEN SHE SAID, "IT’S BEEN A HARD LONG WINTER, SONNY. I JUST DON’T THINK WE CAN GIVE ANYTHING THIS YEAR!"
Though demands for our time, talents and treasure come form nearly every direction -- and sometimes with understandable justification we are leery at times to answer the phone or open the door... But the grace of giving to God is not, a de mand -- It is a co mmand.
When I was in training as a Marine, I remember one particularly grueling exercise where we were deposited in the center of Dartmoor, England. We were told to make our way on foot to a certain point on the map more than fifty rugged miles away. As we had done a similar journey the previous day, slept out on hard ground for a number of nights, and been brought slowly to the point of physical and mental exhaustion, we knew that it was going to be a long day. What we didn’t know was that my partner’s feet, which had a tendency to blister, would become so badly worn after a few miles that they would become like pieces of raw meat. When I realized he was in pain, I took his equipment and added it to mine. Later I supported him on my shoulder as he hobbled along, but it became increasingly plain to me and to the colleagues who caught up with us that he wasn’t going to make it. But he was made of stern stuff and he insisted that he would keep going, that we should go on and stop worrying about him. After many more excruciating miles, however, he came to the point of admitting he was through, and then I was able to pick him up, put him across my shoulders...
Sermon Central Staff
FEAR AND THE DECEITS OF THE HEART
I think Edward Welch chose brilliantly the title for his book on overcoming the fear of man: When People are Big and God is Small. Maybe you can relate to his personal awakening to this problem when he was a high-school senior:
"I had always been shy and self-conscious, controlled by what my peers thought (or might have thought), but I never considered it seriously until the day of the awards assembly. I was up for an award, and I was scared to death I would get it!
"The auditorium bulged with over two thousand high-school juniors and seniors. From the back, where I like to sit, it seemed a good mile or two up to the platform. All I could think of was what my classmates would think of me while I walked to the front. Would I walk funny? Would I trip going up the stairs? Would one person -- I prayed it would not be a girl I liked -- think I was a jerk? What about those who were also nominated or who thought they were deserving? What would they think of me if I won instead of them? What would I ever say for a brief acceptance speech? 'God, please don't let me get this!' I prayed.
"After a number of lesser awards were announced, the vice principal went to the podium to introduce the winner. He began with a short, somewhat cryptic biographical sketch. It did not sound exactly like me, but it was generic enough to fit. I was starting to sweat, but I sat motionless for fear that someone would think I was getting interested. Finally the announcement came: 'And the winner of this year's senior award is...Rick Wilson.
"Rick Wilson! I could not believe it! Of all people. No one even thought he was a candidate!
"You can imagine my reaction. Relief? No way. I felt like a total failure. Now what would people think of me? They knew I was up for the award, and someone else was chosen. What a loser I was.
"Immediately my mind began spinning out justifications. If I had worked at all this year, I would have won. I certainly had the potential, I just didn't want to win. I'm a late bloomer; when I get to college, I will show them. I was ashamed to go back to class. Pitiful, isn't it?"
Dr. Welch describes well the deceit of the heart. Many fear success, for it would put us on display; yet we also fear failure, for then we are shown to be less wonderful than we had hoped. The Bible mentions often this heart-struggle. Almost 600 verses contain the word, "fear" and related synonyms. One of the profound comments comes through the prophet Isaiah: "And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. [So God promises to restore and revive his people, to protect and deliver them. Then he says,] 'I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth?'" (Isaiah 51.11-13).
(From a sermon by Glenn Durham, How Fear Controls People, 5/31/2010)
Recently I read the biography of Norman Grubb, a missionary in Africa and the leader of his mission for 30 years. I was struck by what he wrote: "At conversion we learned that we had not done what we should, but then we soon learn that of ourselves we cannot do what we should." We need the enabling of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses to Jesus by lip and life on a daily basis.
The same point is made in John Wesley’ life-changing experience in Aldersgate Street in May 1738. He acknowledges that he had become a true believer in justification by faith since the previous March and yet he knew he lacked something and was hungry for it. But at that meeting he said, "I felt my heart strangely warmed..." He had believed before, but now he had an assurance, he was given this direct, immediate, overwhelming experience and testimony by the Spirit, the sealing of the Spirit, and his ministry was transformed. He said that before this experience he had had the faith of a servant, but now it was that of a son.
“Comeback Kid!” Romans 4:19-25 Key verse(s) 25:“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
Combacks are the things of movies and dreams! Few things cause more instant satisfaction than a comeback. People who overpower a disability or disease–teams that come from behind and triumph–a boxer down in fourteen rounds that pulls a fifteenth round knockout–the politician behind in the polls who pulls out a victory. All of these scenarios represent comebacks that inspire and give us hope that someday we too might overcome a looming obstacle in our own lives. But above these feats there has always been a type of comeback that has impressed me even more than these–the verbal comeback.
Getting behind in a conversation, buried in someone else’s logic and cool reasoning is a maddening thing. You go into the situation confident and come out battered, embarrassed and bested. Although it is a humbling experience, it is also a maddening one to most of us. We long for just that right word, the perfect thought, to pull into the argument and then, when given the opportunity to insert it, we fail because “we just didn’t think of it at the time.” Emotions high, reason, judgement, and thought are pushed aside for the moment. There simply isn’t room when our emotions boil over. We stutter, back-track, even become belligerent in our hopelessness. Then, when all is finished, our logic foiled and the foe strutting away in victory, we think of what we should have said; the comeback that would have fit so perfectly and won the day. Can there be anything more maddening than this?
I have long admired the man who could stay cool and collected when faced with an argument that hit him squarely in the jaw; the type of man who just wouldn’t blink when the situation called for blinking. I remember hearing the story of a young man who had aspirations of become the ambassador to China under President Woodrow Wilson. He was young for the job and had not served in such a high post before. He wrote letter after letter to Wilson describing his qualifications and promoting his abilities. Finally Wilson enlisted his Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, for assistance. He asked Bryan to set up an interview with the young man and put “the situation in order.” Bryan set up the interview at the state department and when the young man arrived, he was ushered to Bryan’s austere yet impressively large office. Not known for his shyness or lack of preparation, Bryan greeted the young man and immediately commenced a one-sided dialogue describing the “utter importance” of the office, interjecting how it was perhaps foolish to take on such a burden without the proper credentials and background. The young man seemed to listen intently to each word Bryan spoke. He took notes throughout and then, when it seemed that the one-sided argument was working, the young man looked Bryan squarely in the eyes and indicated that he had was yet convinced the job was just right for him. Bordering on frustration but still in control, Bryan changed his tactic to a more practical bent. He pushed back his chair, smiled and then leaned forward. “You know young man, in order to receive this appointment and succeed in the position there is one thing that “we” don’t have. “‘We’ don’t speak Chinese, do we?” Unperturbed, the young man smiled and moved his face closer to Bryan and whispered. “I don’t know. Try me. Ask me something in Chinese!”
What a great comeback! Although the young man did not get the job he certainly earned Bryan’s admiration. He went on to serve admirably in the State Department under Bryan. His “comeback” was perfectly conceived and exquisitely timed. But, of all the “Rocky’s” of this life we have known, read about or observed, there is one who excelled far beyond all the rest. That was our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Sin lay at our doorstep. The situation was dire. Without a savior we would be consumed by it. Then, from out of nowhere a man appears. He pushes himself between the sin and us and faces off with it. It lunges for him and the fight begins. The struggle is terrific. In fact there has never been another like it before or since. In the end, sin has its way and casts him down. He lays wretched and defeated as he sadly lays within the grave. Where is our Savior we cry? How could such a battle be fought and evil triumph over good? But wait, there is movement there. It may be the fifteenth and final round but there is still hope. He arises now stronger than ever and grabs sin by the throat and throttles it all the while delivering the perfect physical and verbal blows to the foe. Jesus Christ, our hero has won the day. It looked bad for the moment but could there ever have been any doubt? His Father had prepared Him for this day and there would be no denying it. Even the terrible burden of a world of sin was no match for the Son of Righteousness, the eternal “comeback” kid. His comeback, our victory!
Others have prejudices, but we have convictions.
Others are conceited, but in me it’s self-respect.
Others are social-climbing snobs, but with me it’s just trying to get ahead.
If you are unyielding about your views of Scripture, that’s just plain stubbornness; but in me, it’s contending for the faith.
When you spend time on your personal appearance, it’s vanity; in me, it’s just making the most of my God-given assets.
In you, it’s impatience; while in me, it’s "have you noticed how annoying everyone is?"
In you, it’s touchiness; but in me, it’s sensitivity.
In you, it’s self-righteousness; while in me it’s amply justified, because I really am right.
In you, it’s worry; in me, concern.
Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen even in the midst of a pious community. In confession the light of the gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart. The sin must be brought into the light. The unexpressed must be openly spoken and acknowledged. All that is secret and hidden is made manifest. It is a struggle until the sin is openly admitted, but God breaks gates of brass and bars of iron (Ps. 107:16).
Since the confession of sin is made in the presence of a Christian brother, the last stronghold of self-justification is abandoned. The sinner surrenders; he gives up all his evil. He gives his heart to God, and he finds the forgiveness of all his sin in the fellowship of Jesus Christ and his brother. The expressed, acknowledged sin has lost all its power. It has been revealed and judged as sin. It can no longer tear the fellowship asunder. Now the fellowship bears the sin of the brother. He is no longer alone with his evil for he has cast off his sin in confession and handed it over to God. It has been taken away from him. Now he stands in the fellowship of sinners who live by the grace of God and the cross of Jesus Christ… The sin concealed separated him from the fellowship, made all his apparent fellowship a sham; the sin confessed has helped him define true fellowship with the brethren in Jesus Christ.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 112-113.
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Two preachers were carrying a conversation. One said to the other, “Currently, we are having a problem at our meeting place with the mice. It looks like everywhere you step; you will be greeted by a mouse.” “Well,” said the other preacher, “we solve that problem long ago. We baptized them all, and they left.” This is a sad story that illustrates a familiar reality. Many individuals believe that once they are baptized, all they need to do is done. The truth of the matter is that it does not end there. In reality, the contrary is true. Romans 5-8 illustrate our call to holiness. This process of sanctification has its epilogue in the justification; it is presented into three images; and is fueled in the power of the Holy Spirit.