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C. S. Lewis once said: "it is easier to be enthusiastic about humanity with a capital "H" than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, … exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive. Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular."
Bob had been a Christian for about 6 years and had come to Dallas to head up a major city wide evangelistic campaign, hosting a daily radio program and working with some of the largest churches in America. He was beginning to think he was close to reaching the ultimate in Christian maturity - until one day he took his wife shopping at the mall. Crowded and busy like this time of year parking was at a premium. Seeing 2 empty spaces right near the entrance as he approached his “answer to prayer” a guy driving a shiny new sports car pulled into that spot straddling the line.
At first Bob thought it was an accident, so he rolled down his window and said nicely, “Sir, you probably haven’t noticed, but you’ve taken up 2 spaces.” He gave Bob a quick glance and with a smirk said, “I know it.” As he got out of his car, Bob got a good look at him. He was middle-aged, with flecks of gray in his well groomed hair. His shirt was open down the front, revealing numerous gold chains dangling over what looked like a “chest toupee.” Bob felt instant and total dislike for that man. A little more forcefully Bob responded, “Well, would you please repark it, so I can use one of the spaces?” Holding out his arm to escort a much younger-looking girl, the man replied, “No.”
At that moment all those years of being a child of God didn’t mean a thing to Bob. His mood was now murderous. “Buddy,” He said through clenched teeth, “if you don’t move that car I’m going to stuff you in the tailpipe and move it for you!” Bob started to get out of his car, fully intending to do what he said. However, his wife Amy looked at him as if he’d lost his mind, and said so. Bob told her that it wasn’t his mind that he was worried about losing; it was that parking space! Suddenly Bob stopped. “What are you doing?” He asked himself. “You were perfectly willing – in fact, excited to give up your thriving, lucrative business to go into full-time ministry, but you are ready to fight another person rather than give up that parking space!”
Having finally come to his senses, He spent the next several minutes maneuvering his car through the lot, driving mostly in reverse. His goal was to keep the guy with the foreign car from seeing his rear bumper – the one with the sticker that said, “Smile! Jesus loves you.”
Have you ever been there? In spite of a sincere and genuine faith in Jesus Christ, have you ever suddenly found yourself acting in a stupid manner, as if you never heard of the gospel? If we’re totally honest, we’d all admit to such times. All of us can forget who we are and what we believe in an unexpected moment of time. We’ve all heard those voices, either real or imagined: “I thought you were a Christian!” comes the sneer. “I thought I was too,” we respond in disgust. “How could I do such a thing?” Of course besides “unexpected moments,” Christians can choose to live in a determined and long-term manner that’s contrary to what God’s Word says as well. In fact, we all have areas of our lives where we face ongoing struggles with temptation and failure. And we sometimes wonder if we’ll ever begin making progress in this Christian life. Growing in grace begins by being honest with ourselves and God by recognizing a need for God and for growing in grace.
(This illustration comes from the book "Growing In Grace" by Bob George pages 9-10.)
There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
Dr. S.M. Lockridge was the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, San Diego CA from 1953 - 1993. He entered heaven in 2000. He is well-known for a passage out of his sermon titled “He’s My King”:
“He’s enduringly strong, He’s entirely sincere, He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. He’s God’s Son. He’s a sinner’s savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s preeminent. He’s the loftiest idea in literature. He’s the highest idea in philosophy. He’s the fundamental truth in theology. He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He guards and He guides. He heals the sick, He cleans the lepers. He forgives sinners, He discharges debtors, He delivers captives, He defends the feeble, He blesses the young, He serves the unfortunate, He regards the aged, He rewards the diligent, He beautifies the meek. Do you know Him?
Well, my king is the king of knowledge, He’s the well-spring of wisdom, He’s the doorway of deliverance, He’s the pathway of peace, He’s the roadway of righteousness, He’s the highway of holiness He’s the gateway of glory, He’s the master of the mighty, He’s the captain of the conquerors, He’s the head of the heroes, He’s the leader of the legislators, He’s the overseer of the overcomers, He’s the governor of governors, He’s the prince of princes, He’s the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
His life is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Well. I wish I could describe Him to you. But He’s indescribable. Yes. He’s incomprehensible. He’s invincible, He’s irresistible. I’m trying to tell you, the Heavens cannot contain Him, let alone a man explain Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him, and you can’t live without Him. Well. The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. Pilate coul...
Poem: Love For Others by Anonymous Lord, let me live from day to day In such a self-forgetful way, That, even when I kneel to pray, My prayer shall be for others. Help me, in all the work I do, Ever to be sincere and true, And know that all I’d do for Thee, Must needs be done for Others. Let “self” be crucified and slain, And buried deep, nor rise again, And may all efforts be in vain, Unless they be for Others. And when my work on earth is done, And my new work in heaven begun May I forget the crown I’ve won, While thinking still of Others. Yes, Others, Lord, yes, Others. Let this motto be, Help me to live for Others, That I may live with Thee.
Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Zaire (formerly the Belgian Congo), told the following story: A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby. We tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle we had was beyond repair. So during devotions that morning we asked the children to pray for the baby and for her little sister who was now an orphan. One of the girls responded, "Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead. And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she won’t feel so lonely." That afternoon a large parcel arrived from England. Eagerly the children watched as we opened it. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle Immediately the girl who had prayed so earnestly started to delve deeper, exclaiming, "If God sent that, I’m sure He also send a doll." And she was right The Heavenly Father knew in advance of the child’s sincere requests, and 5 months before, He had led a ladies group to include both of those specific articles. Although many of our prayers are not answered so dramatically, God is always aware of our needs. “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7). Let’s thank Him regularly for His loving responses to our needs.
"Why Should I Worship a Dead Jew?"
This challenging question was posed by a sincere young Jewish student who had been attending evangelistic meetings conducted by the author and composer of this hymn, Alfred H. Ackley. Mr. Ackley's answer to this searching question, ultimately prompted the writing of this popular gospel hymn, He Lives.
The composer answered his inquirer: He lives! I tell you, He is not dead, but lives here and now! Jesus Christ is more alive today than ever before. I can prove it by my own experience, as well as the testimony of countless thousands.
He Lives (1933)
(1) I serve a risen Savior,
He's in the world today;
I know that he is living,
whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him
He's always near.
(2) He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
he walks with me and talks with me
along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.
(3) In all the world around me
I see His loving care,
And though my heart grows weary
I never will despair;
I know that He is leading
through all the stormy blast
The day of His appearing
will come at last.
(4) Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
lift up your voice and sing
to Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him,
the Help of all who find,
None other is so loving,
so good and kind.
I Know the Redeemer! I once was lost but now I'm found. You can be too!
I love the story of the little boy who told his mother he had determined that he was six feet tall. When she asked how he had arrived at this conclusion, he told her he had used his shoe to measure and that he was six shoes tall. With a loving smile she sweetly told him that his shoe was not twelve inches long. He insisted, "But, Mom, it’s got to be ’cause my foot’s in it !" What was wrong with his conclusion? He was unaware of the true standard of determining length. He knew nothing of uniform standards of weight and measurement. He was sincere, but mistaken. His conclusion was innocent and makes us laugh, but often a false standard can reap tragic consequences. I read about a terrible school bus accident. Returning from a sporting event on a foggy night, the driver missed a turn, plunging tragically o...
God is not like a dog. Some dogs, as long as you show them affection or give them treats, they will come running and wag their tails and be just so excited. If we didn’t know there name we could call them "Fido" or "Ginger" or any name and they would respond. We could even call them "Dummy" and they would think that is fine as long as we pet them and keep giving those treats.
Some people treat God like these nice but dumb dogs. You can call him "Allah" or "Buddha" or "Sheva" or "Yin" or "Yang" or "Zeus." It really doesn’t matter as long as you are sincere and show him love and affection.
God is not a dog and he will not be treated like a dog. God has a name and He will only respond to a Biblical name.
LET THE LOVE OF CHRIST MOVE YOU
I’ve met this guy that I will call Bob. Bob just recently got out of prison. He got caught up in using and did some stupid stuff. He was sent for prison. He had been trying do right and do good but he just got out of control. He was sorry about what he had done and was glad that he hadn’t hurt anybody. The whole time in prison, he wrote the pastor of the church that houses the Upper Room to keep in contact and ask for prayer.
Bob got out and I had the chance to meet the guy who wrote all those letters. He helps out around the Upper Room. He is always helping some of the other people even though he sometimes gets burned and taken advantage of. Is he completely turning his life around? Maybe not according to our culture’s standards. It is hard for him to hold a job. But I see in him, a person who is living out what Jesus says right here. He lives it out day in and day out.
But what impresses me the most about Bob is his heart. One afternoon we were talking about church and people and God. And all of a sudden, Bob stops. He looks down at the floor and tears well up in his eyes. I’m not sure what is going on because we were really too deep.
So I wait a few seconds and Bob says, “I just was all of sudden reminded of that story about Jesus and the guy who died.” Bob does read the Bible frequently but doesn’t know what it says and where it is at.
“A lot times when I really think about Jesus and what he has done for me, it just overwhelms me. He raised that guy from the dead and that is what Jesus has done for me. He died for me and sometimes it just seems too much.”
Tears are running down his cheeks and he wipes them off with his sleeves. “Jesus is just so good,” Bob says.
Honest, sincere love for Jesus. Bob weeps because of the love that Jesus has for him. I have no doubt that Bob is one of the sheep of Jesus’ flock. That day, Bob shamed me. That day, Bob showed me what it is know the love that Jesus has for us. I’m no better than Bob. In fact, I’m probably worse. When was the last time that I allowed the love of Jesus to move me.
Maybe that’s our problem. We’re so consumed with keeping it all together that we won’t let his love move our hearts. When that happens we aren’t moved to where we need to be.
“He died for me and sometimes it just seems too much.”