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Bishop Lalachan Abraham
RAVI ZACHARIAS: SYMBOLS OF THE PURSUIT OF GOD
2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s 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. That’s 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.
CHRIST IS THE WIND, CHRISTIANITY IS THE SAIL
Does the practice of our religion reflect the God we serve?
In Shane Hipps' book, "Selling Water by the River: A Book about the Life Jesus Promised and the Religion that Gets in the Way," he uses an analogy from sailing to express what has happened in the church over the past generations. He says (I quote loosely),
One thing that might ease our anxiety is to remember that Christ and Christianity are not the same thing; If Christ is the wind, then Christianity is the sail. Some sails are better than others at catching the wind, some sailors are better at using the sail, but there is always and only one wind. A sail without the wind is a limp flag; wind without a sail is still the wind. The relationship is only one way.
The wind (Christ) is the pre-existent creative power of the universe with no birthday or death date. The sail (Christianity) on the other hand is an institution built with the intention of harnessing that power. If the institution goes away, the power remains. Put simply, Christ is much, much bigger than our religion.
Listen to me, just because my religion bears his name doesn't always mean it bears His likeness. Such misconception is a dangerous, even an arrogant illusion. If we buy into this assumption, we become like the sail who believes it controls the wind.
John Ortberg states:
"The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort. This means that to be a follower of Jesus, you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life. And that’s sobering news to most of us, because we’re into comfort...but water walkers master failure... Did Peter fail?...Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event. Failure is not something that happens to us or a label we attach to things. It is a way we think about outcomes...Did Peter fail? Well, I suppose in a way he did. His faith wasn’t strong enough. His doubts were stronger. 'He saw the wind.' He took his eyes off of where they should have been. He sank. He failed. But here is what I think. I think there were eleven bigger failures sitting in the boat. They failed quietly. They failed privately. Their failure went unnoticed, unobserved, uncriticized. Only Peter knew the shame of the public failure. But only Peter knew two other things as well. Only Peter knew other things as well. Only Peter knew the glory of walking on water. He alone knew what it was to attempt to do what he was not capable of doing on his own, then feeling euphoria of being empowered by God to actually do it. Once you walk on water, you never forget it--not for the rest of your life!"
(Ortberg, If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat, page 21-23).
Ortberg notes this about the inability to love:
1. The most serious sign of hurry sickness is a diminished capacity to love. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time, and time is one thing hurried people don’t have (87).
2. The truth is look around at our society hurried people cannot love because they are always in a hurry!
3. Ortberg adds this thought about the hurry sickness (lack of patience syndrome): It is because it kills love that hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life. Hurry lies behind much of the anger and frustration of modern life. Hurry prevents us from receiving love from the Father or gi...
Sermon Central Staff
OSWALD CHAMBERS ON CONVICTION OF SIN
Oswald Chambers: "Conviction of sin is one of the rarest things that ever strikes a man. It is the threshold of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict of sin, and when the Holy Spirit rouses the conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not his relationship with men that bothers him, but his relationship with God."
Conviction of sin is the unbearable burden of all of your sin and filthiness before a holy and righteous God. The word in the Greek carries the idea of exposing your sin. When the Spirit of God brings this type of conviction it reveals your total bankruptcy before God. The burden of that sin can only be overcome by realizing God’s blessing of salvation. The verses tell us that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. When does salvation take place when we stop disagreeing with the truth of our rebellion against God. At this point we no longer have the pride or arrogance to say "I'm good."
(From a sermon by Billy Ricks, The ministry of the Holy Spirit, 1/22/2011)
WHITE AS SNOW
Ash Wednesday — it’s kind of a solemn day. It’s the start of Lent —a word which means “spring” in German. But more than this, it’s the time each year when we intently focus on the path Christ Jesus laid out for us to follow — to be true to his word, true to his calling, and true to the faith, hope and life we share in him.
You know though, sometimes it’s kind of hard to focus on spring when winter is in full force around us. Today it’s been snowing, and within the past week alone, the mountains surrounding our communities have received over 50 inches of fresh snow. For, while we’re beginning to look forward to spring, we have still have to live in the reality that we’re still surrounded by the billions of fluffy white flakes from the Lord’s heavenly storehouses.
Snow — the bible speaks of it often, likening it to that which is pure, clean, and righteous. Truly, the crystal formations of snowflakes are beautiful. There are many different shapes and sizes of snowflakes; amazingly, each and every one is unique.
But despite their uniqueness, snowflakes have one common thing: dirt at the core. Oddly enough, snowflakes start as tiny dust particles, which serve as the center of the snowflake.
Like snowflakes, we have been beautifully created by God. We are the greatest of all God’s creation. We are his pride, and his joy; and like snowflakes we are all created uniquely. Yet, like snowflakes, we too have dirty hearts. We’re all marked by sin; we’re all stained at the core of our being; we’re all dirty in the middle. But through Jesus Christ, we can all be made clean. The dirt at the core of our being can be washed way, and we can be made pure in Christ Jesus
G. H. Morling in The Quest for Serenity- "A valuable study of the Gospels could be made, noticing how many times Jesus gave some of His greatest teachings in circumstances where he had simply been interrupted. How different this is from us; we hate to be interrupted. To Jesus, the importance seemed to lie in the person whose path had crossed His own. Things don’t just “happen” in the providence of God. The interruption may well be our highest task at that very moment.”
Historian Philip Schaff described the overwhelming influence which Jesus had on subsequent history and culture of the world: “This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science…he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion and furnished themes for more sermons, orati...
"Abiding in Jesus isnt fixing our attention on Christ, but it is being one with himA man is abiding just as much when he is sleeping for Jesus, as when he is awake and working for Jesus. Oh, it is a very sweet thing to have ones mind just resting there."
“It is my first public declaration that a thing which looks to be unreasonable and seems to be unprofitable, being commanded by God, is law, is law to me. If my Master had told me to pick up six stones and lay them in a row I would do it, without demanding of him, ‘What good will it do?’ Cui bono? Is no fit question for soldiers of Jesus. The very simplicity and apparent uselessness of the ordinance should make the believer say, ‘Therefore I do it because it becomes the better test to me of my obedience to my Master.’” When you tell your servant to do something, and he cannot comprehend it, if he turns round and says, “Please, sir, what for?” you are quite clear that he hardly understands the relation between master and servant. So when God tells me to do a thing, if I say, “What for?” I cannot have taken the place which Faith ought to occupy, which is that of simple obedience to whatever the Lord hath said. Baptism is commanded, and Faith obeys because it is commanded, and thus takes her proper place.