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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Johann Sebastian Bach was born into the musical family of Bachs in 1685. By the age of ten, both of his parents were dead. Early in his friction-filled life, young Johann determined he would write music … music for the glory of God … and this he did.
Most of Bach’s works are explicitly Biblical. Albert Schweitzer referred to him as The fifth evangelist, thus comparing him to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. At age 17 Bach became the organist at the church; soon thereafter he was given charge of the entire music ministry.
During his ministry in Weimar, Germany he wrote a new cantata every month … EVERY MONTH! And during one three-year period he wrote, conducted, orchestrated, and performed (with his choir and orchestra) a new cantata every week!
No one had any idea what a mark Bach would leave. His legacy lives on some 300 years later. You can hear his music at will.
At the beginning of every authentic manuscript one will find the letters “J.J.” This stands for Jesu Java (Jesus help me). At the end of each original manuscript you will find the letters “S.D.G.” This stands for Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God).
Bach is a reminder that one who gives his life to Jesus and serves Him does not count it a loss. Mk 8:35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Arthur Pink, a theologian from another generation, talks against those who preach about Jesus as a savior from hell rather than a savior from sin. He explained that there are many who are dangerously deceived by this, because there are many who desire to escape the flames of hell, but have no desire to be delivered from their sins. I believe he is right. So many today think they can love God and still live in their sin. It cannot be done. You have to make a choice. It must be God or your sin. You can’t have both. You can’t love both. You have to die to your sin in order to come alive to God. Jesus stated an important kingdom principle with these words: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
I read about a high school golfer, Chelsee Richard, of Bloomingdale High School in Brandon, Florida. She lost her chance to win the 2004 state championship — by being honest. In the qualifier for the state finals, Chelsee hit her tee shot on the second hole into the rough. Without knowing it, she played another golfer’s ball out of the rough and finished the hole. On the third hole, she realized what she had done. The rule is that a golfer must declare on that hole, they hit the wrong ball before putting the ball into the hole, or they are disqualified.
Chelsee drew strength from her favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." She reported her error, a painful ending to her senior season and her dream of going to State. She said: “With my faith and with God, being honest was the most important thing to me, and that’s what is going to advance on throughout my life, being honest and making the right choices." (November, 2004; www.PreachingToday.com)
Her honesty spoke of her Christian faith and the Lord she serves. Honesty is important. The truth really does matter, because it honors Christ. It makes our faith in Jesus more attractive to a world longing for something better than what they have.
THE CONCEPT OF GRACE
There is a great article that illustrates the concept of grace written by Charles Stanley.
“One of my more memorable seminary professors had a practical way of illustrating to his students the concept of grace. At the end of his evangelism course he would distribute the exam with the caution to read it all the way through before beginning to answer it. This caution was written on the exam as well. As we read the test, it became unquestionably clear to each of us that we had not studied nearly enough.
The further we read, the worse it became. About halfway through, audible groans could be heard through out the lecture hall. On the last page, however, was a note that read, "You have a choice. You can either complete the exam as given or sign your name at the bottom and in so doing receive an A for this assignment."
Wow? We sat there stunned. "Was he serious? Just sign it and get an A?" Slowly, the point dawned on us, and one by one we turned in our tests and silently filed out of the room.
When I talked with the professor about it afterward, he shared some of the reactions he had received through the years. Some students began to take the exam without reading it all the way through, and they would sweat it out for the entire two hours of class time before reaching the last page.
Others read the first two pages, became angry, turned the test in blank, and stormed out of the room without signing it. They never realized what was available, and as a result, they lost out totally.
One fellow, however, read the entire test, including the note at the end, but decided to take the exam anyway. He did not want any gifts; he wanted to earn his grade. And he did. He made a C+, but he could easily have had an A.
This story illustrates many people’s reaction to God’s solution to sin. Some people look at God’s standard--moral and et...
There is a game my parents used to play when we were on road long road trips in the car. The rules of the game went something like this. "The first one to talk loses." We called it the silence game. Have you ever played the game? I would bet that just about every parent has made up a game similar to this. When traveling in a vehicle and arguing continues, or complaining erupts, or the eternal question, "How much further?” is asked for the 100th time, we want silence. So we play the silence game. Sometimes, silence is golden.
Sometimes, though, silence is not golden. If you have ever felt the awkward pause in the conversation, or if you have ever had an angry spouse or parent give you the silent treatment then you know what I’m talking about. (Whisper) Sometimes silence can be deafening.
In his best selling book called, "Into Thin Air," Jon Krakauer relates the hazards that plagued some climbers as they attempted to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Andy Harris, one of the expedition leaders stayed at the peak too long and on his descent, he became in dire need of oxygen. Harris radioed the base camp and told them about his predicament. He mentioned that he had come across a cache of oxygen canisters left by the other climbers but they were all empty. The climbers who already passed the canisters on their own descent knew they were not empty, but full. They pleaded with him on the radio to make use of them but it was to no avail. Harris was starved for oxygen but he continued to argue that the canisters were empty.
The problem was that the lack of what he needed had so disoriented his mind that though he was surrounded by something that would give him life, he continued to complain of its absence. The lack of oxygen had ravaged his capacity to recognize what was right in front of him.
Friends, what oxygen is to the body, the Bread of Life is to the soul. Some of us are suffocating and starving and we don’t even know it. Jesus is offering life to us while we run around trying to appease our appetites. We will never be filled until we take of the Bread and Water of life, Jesus Christ.
Paddick Van Zyl
In the Supreme Court case between Humanity and Satan, proceedings took on a surprising turn, in the court room when Judge God read out the charge against the defendant (humanity).
Sin was the main charge with a list of violations being read out, some minor & seemingly insignificant while others were major and grotesque. The plaintiff sneered and was getting ready for his closing statement of damnation and requesting for the death penalty. One last witness requested to take the stand to state His witness.
It was then that the Judge gasped and humanity looked surprised. Jesus took the stand and after being sworn in, to tell the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, He requested of Judge God to please take the place and any punishment that might be assigned to humanity as a result of the crime that was committed.
Everyone sighed, humanity cried in disbelief and the plaintiff lost his grin and became angry. After the Judge had a look at Articles 9 of Hebrews, subsection 12 to 28, He accepted the life of Jesus in the place of humanity and what followed was the harshest sentence that was ever laid down on anyone: as the Judge read out the punishment for the crime all became quiet... The Death penalty was imposed on the criminal. No mitigating circumstances was offered or accepted. No mercy was forthcoming. He accepted His fate. He smiled. Love permeated from Him, the peace in the court room was beyond words yet the anger of the Judge was unspeakable, He turned away and would not look at the criminal being led away.
He was led away to Calvary where He would be executed with the other criminals.
The plaintiff smiled and waited for applaus yet no congratulations were given. Humanity was free.
Justice had been served, Jesus took humanity’s place and the price has been paid by His precious blood once for all.
There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance.
He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note.
The note read: "pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need". Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find. Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed. Now the note also said: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveller.” The man refilled the jug and added to the note: “ Please prime the pump, believe me it works”!
We have the same choice to make...
There is a big difference between batting practice and playing ball. It is common for pro-ball players to describe the overwhelming power of the of the sound of thousands cheering them on. In a sense our life is the game and the cloud of witnesses, heroes, our audience cheering us on in a similar fashion.
(From Christopher Nerreau’s Sermon "Don't Lose Heart")
J. Vernon McGee once pointed out:
"Martha believed in a resurrection. But listen, it makes less demand upon faith to believe that in a future day we shall receive glorified bodies than it does to rest now on the assuracne that they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. It is easier to believe that the Lord is coming and the dead will be raised than it is to believe that tomorrow I can live for God. It is so easy to comfort people who are mourning and say, 'Well, you'll see your loved ones someday.' That doesn't take much faith. It takes a lot of faith to say, 'I have just lost my loved one, but I am comforted with the assurance that God is with me and He does all things well.' You see, although Martha knew from the Old Testament that there would be a resurrection from the dead, she didn't believe that Jesus could help her now."
(Source: Thru The Bible, Vol. IV, pg. 439).