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Bishop Lalachan Abraham
RAVI ZACHARIAS: SYMBOLS OF THE PURSUIT OF GOD
2 Corinthians 4:6 ďFor God, who said, ďLet light shine out of darkness,Ē made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of Godís glory displayed in the face of Christ."
Ravi Zacharias said: "The pursuit of the Hebrews was idealized and symbolized by light. 'The Lord is my light and my salvation.' 'The people that sat in darkness have seen a great light.' 'This is the light that lighteth every man that comes into the world.'
"The pursuit of the Greeks was symbolized by knowledge. Thatís why the Biblical writers say, 'These things are written that you might know that you have eternal life.' For the Hebrews, it was light. For the Greeks, it was knowledge.
"For the Romans, it was glory. The apostle Paul, a Hebrew by birth, a citizen of Rome, living in a Greek city, had to give to them the ideal of his ethic. And he says this: 'God, who caused the light to shine out of darkness, has caused His light to shine in our hearts, to give to us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus our Lord.'
"For the apostle Paul, the ultimate ethic was not an abstraction, not symbolized merely by light, not merely by knowledge, not merely by glory, but in the very face of our Lord.
BRAVEHEART: "I DON'T WANT TO LOSE HEART"
Braveheart (2:12:34 - 2:14:30) is the story of Scotlandís pursuit of freedom from the tyranny of the English under the leadership of William Wallace, played by Mel Gibson. Leading up to this scene was a battle where Wallace and his men were fighting the English. Wallace thought he had the backing of the Scottish nobles, but they had been bought off by the King and betrayed him on the battlefield, leaving Wallace and his men to be routed by the English. Weíll see the leader of the nobles, Robert the Bruce, takes his act of betrayal particularly hard. Pay attention to how he owns his betrayal but doesnít let it define him, and notice his resolve to fight for a purpose that is above himself:
Robert Bruce, Sr.: Iím the one whoís rotting, but I think your face looks graver than mine. Son, we must have alliance with England to prevail here. You achieved that. You saved your family, increased your land. In time, you will have all the power in Scotland.
Robert the Bruce: Lands, titles, men, power... nothing.
Robert Bruce, Sr.: Nothing?
Robert the Bruce: I have nothing. Men fight for me because if they do not, I throw them off my land and I starve their wives and children. Those men who bled the ground red at Falkirk fought for William Wallace. He fights for something that I never had. And I took it from him when I betrayed him. I saw it in his face on the battlefield, and itís tearing me apart.
Robert Bruce, Sr.: All men betray. All lose heart.
Robert the Bruce: I DONíT WANT TO LOSE HEART!!! I want to believe as he does. I will never be on the wrong side again.
Maybe thatís the cry of your heart this morning. Youíve chased after everything you thought would satisfy your soul, and itís left you empty--nothing. And maybe you even betrayed your savior to do it. You and I have been idolaters. Weíve built our own cisterns and they donít hold water. They leave us empty-hearted.
Maybe you're even saying to yourself, "I DONíT WANT TO LOSE HEART. I want to BELIEVE. I will never be on the wrong side again."
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).
PLEASURE COMES FROM PAIN
The world's best cyclist, Lance Armstrong, says this about pain:
I become a happier man each time I suffer.
Suffering is as essential to a good life, and as inextricable, as bliss. The old saying that you should live each day as if itís your last is a nice sentiment, but it doesnít work. Take it from me. I tried it once, and hereís what I learned: If I pursued only happiness, and lived just for the moment, Iíd be a no-account with a perpetual three-day growth on my chin. Cancer taught me that.
Before cancer, whatever I imagined happiness to be, pretty soon I wore it out, took it for granted, or threw it away. A portfolio, a Porsche, a coffee machine--these things were important to me. So was my hair. Then I lost them, including the hair. When I was 25, I was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer, which had metastasized into my lungs and brain. I sold the car, gave up my career as a world-class cyclist, lost a good deal of money, and barely hung on to my life.
When I went into remission, I thought happiness would mean being self-indulgent. Not knowing how much time I had left, I did not intend to ever suffer again. I had suffered months of fear, chemotherapy so strong it left burn marks under my skin, and surgery to remove two tumors. Happiness to me then was waking up.
I ate Mexican food, played golf, and lay on the couch. The pursuit of happiness meant going to my favorite restaurant and pursuing a plate of enchiladas with tomatillo sauce.
But one day my wife, Kristin, put down her fork and said, "You need to decide something: Are you going to be a golf-playing, beer-drinking, Mexican-food-eating slob for the rest of your life? If you are, Iíll still love you. But I need to know, because if so, Iíll go get a job. Iím not going to sit at home while you play golf."
I stared at her.
"Iím so bored," she said.
Suddenly, I understood that I was bored, too. The idleness was forced; I was purposeless, with nothing to pursue. That conversation changed everything. I realized that responsibility, the routines and habits of shaving in the morning with a purpose, a job to do, a wife to love, and a child to raise--these were the things that tied my days together and gave them a pattern deserving of the term living.
Within days I was back on my bicycle. For the first time in my life, I rode with real strength and stamina and purpose. Without cancer, I never would have won a single Tour de France. Cancer taught me a plan for more purposeful living, and that in turn taught me how to train and to win more purposefully. It taught me that pain has a reason, and that sometimes the experience of losing things--whether health or a car or an old sense of self--has its own value in the scheme of life. Pain and loss are great enhancers.
People ask me why I ride my bike for six hours a day; what is the pleasure? The answer is that I donít do it for the pleasure. I do it fo...
Babe Ruth had hit 714 home runs during his baseball career and was playing one of his last full major league games. It was the Braves versus the Reds in Cincinnati. But the great Ruth was no longer as agile as he had once been. He fumbled the ball and threw badly, and in one inning alone his errors were responsible for most of the five runs scored by Cincinnati. As the Babe walked off the field after the third out and headed toward the dugout, a crescendo of yelling and booing reached his ears. Just then a boy jumped over the railing onto the playing field. With tears streaming down his face, he threw his arms around the legs of his hero. Ruth didnít hesitate for one second. He picked up the boy, hugged him, and set him down on his feet, patting his head gently. The noise from the stands came to an abrupt halt. Suddenly there was no more booing. In fact, hush fell over the entire park. In those brief moments, the fans saw two heroes: Ruth, who in spite of his dismal day on the field could still care about a little boy; and the small lad, who cared about the feelings of another human being. Both had melted the hearts of the crowd.
Ted W. Engstrom, The Pursuit of Excellence, 1982, Zondervan Corporation, pp. 66-67.
In 1996, the Chicago Tribune ran a story on Buddy Post, a lottery winner who is ďliving proof that money canít buy happiness.Ē In 1988, he won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery. Since then, he has been convicted ďof assault, his sixth wife left him, his brother was convicted of trying to kill him, and his landlady successfully sued him for one-third of the jackpot.Ē
ďMoney didnít change me,Ē insists Post, a 58-year-old former carnival worker and cook. ďIt changed the people around me that I knew, that I thought cared a little bit about me. But they only cared about the money.Ē
Post is trying to auction off seventeen future payments, valued at nearly $5 million, in order to pay off taxes, legal fees, and a number of failed business ventures.
He plans to spend his life as an ex-winner pursuing lawsuits he has filed against police, judges, and lawyers who he says conspired to take his money. ďIím just going to stay at home and mind my pís and qís,Ē he said. ďMoney draws flies.Ē
Michael G. Moriarty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following Godís Commandments in a Post Modern World (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Pub. House, 1999), 169-170.
"Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervours, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills."
John Brown, Nineteenth-century Scottish theologian, quoted in J. Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, p. 51.
ďJesus calls us to His rest, and meekness is his method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort. The rest Christ offers is the rest of meekness, the blessed relief which comes when we accept ourselves for what we are and cease to pretend. It will take some courage at first, but the needed grace will come...
Sermon Central Staff
BULLET-PROOF VEST OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Terry Schafer, a young wife, lived with her husband in the small city of Moline, Illinois. She had a special gift she wanted to give to her husband for Christmas but was afraid that they would not be able to afford it. She started shopping for it in September, knowing it was a specialized piece of equipment and not every store would sell it. She finally found it -- and to her dismay it was way beyond their budget. But she came up the idea of laying it away and making payments to the storekeeper. She pitched her idea to the store manager. The business man sympathized with her situation and said, "Since your husband is a policeman, I doubt that you're going to take advantage of me. Why don't you give your first payment today -- and I'll let you take the gift home. Make sure you make the other payments and pay it off before Christmas." She agreed.
The only problem was she was one of those people who couldn't keep a secret. She couldn't wait till Christmas to give the gift to her husband. That September night she stood there beaming with a wrapped present on the table of their small home. She said Merry Christmas and gave her husband a peck on the cheek.
Neither one of them realized at that moment how significant that gift would end up being. In fact in the not-to-distant future it would mean the difference between life and death for her husband.
On Oct. 1 of that same year Patrolman David Schafer was working the night shift and got a call on his police radio. A drugstore robbery was in process. Racing to the scene he arrived just in time to observe the suspect getting into his car, starting the engine and speeding away. Quickly David switched on his siren and began the pursuit. Three blocks later the getaway car suddenly pulled over the side of the road and stopped. The suspect was still behind the wheel of his car as David cautiously approached. He got about three feet from the window when the suspect fired an automatic pistol sending a .45 caliber slug into David's abdomen.
7:00 AM the next morning -- Terry answered the door of their home to face a police officer telling her that her husband had been shot trying to apprehend a robbery suspect. As he detailed the news, he said he had bad news and good news. As she listened, she was glad that she didn't wait till Christmas to give her husband the gift. David had been shot point blank with a 45 caliber pistol and survived. She was very glad the shopkeeper had let her take that gift home that day. The gift Terry had purchased for her husband was a bullet proof vest -- and it had saved his life. He was in the hospital with deep bruises to his chest, not a bullet wound. She had given her husband the gift of life.
The reason Christ came -- was to provide for us a vest of righteousness. He paid the price with His blood that he might protect us with a shield that sin could not penetrate. Put it on. The only way you can lose is if you take it off.
(From a sermon by Tim Vamosi, The Breastplate of Righteousness, 1/4/2011)
CREATED TO BE USED
In his book The Pursuit of Excellence, Ted Engstrom wrote these words: "I was cleaning out a desk drawer when I found a flashlight I hadn't used in over a year. I flipped the switch, but wasn't surprised when it gave no light. I unscrewed it and shoot it to get the batteries out, but they wouldn't budge.
"Finally, after some effort, they came loose. What a mess! Battery acid had corroded the entire inside of the flashlight. The batteries were new when I'd put them in, and I'd stored them in a safe, warm place. But there was one problem. Those batteries weren't made to be warm and comfortable. They were designed to be turned on -- to be used.
It's the same with us. We weren't created to be warm, safe and comfortable. You and I were made to be 'turned on' -- put our love to work, to apply our patience in difficult, trying situations -- to let our light shine."