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J. C. RYLE ON ZEAL
Recently I found a book by Bishop J.C. Ryle, the first bishop of Liverpool, England on the subject of zeal. He wrote:
"Zeal is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. A zealous man is preeminently a man of one thing. He is more than earnest, hearty, uncompromising, wholehearted, and fervent in spirit. He sees only one thing, cares about one thing, lives for one thing, swallowed up in one thing, and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives or dies, has health or has sickness, whether he is rich or poor, pleases people or give offense, whether he is thought wise or foolish, gets the blame or the praise, whether he receives honor or is given shame, He burns for one thing, and that one thing is to please God. Such a one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, he will work and give money, he will cry and sigh and pray. If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, he will hold up the hands of Moses until the battle is won."
(From a sermon by Robert Stone, The People God Can’t Forget: Nehemiah, 5/28/2011)
"I'M NOT A CHRISTIAN, SO..."
You need to know what is going on in the head of a non-saved or pre-saved person.
* "I'm not a Christian, so ... I really don't understand this religious stuff. I did try and read bits of the Bible when I was at school, but found it hard to understand. I never went to church or Sunday School or anything.
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...It really bugs me to see Christians claiming that they know it all.
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...I doubt they have much fun anyway, because they are living by a load of rules.
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Well, some do. Mandy in the Accounts Department goes to church, but she can't keep her hands off men. Ever."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Of course, I do try to live by my own rules too. Well, most of the time. I still feel bad about what happened with Sam though."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...There is one church in town that give out leaflets in the street. They are so badly produced though -- just lots of text and Bible verses. I never read them properly. There's an invitation to their church services at the end -- but I would never dare to go to a church by myself, even if I wanted to. I'd feel like a fish out of water."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Church services sometimes come on the TV too. I always switch channels, they seem so old-fashioned and preachy. One time though, I came across a Christian program that was looking at the Christian messages hidden in recent Hollywood film releases. Now, that WAS interesting, and it made sense to me. (I try to get to the movies every two or three weeks.) Another time, there was a story about Christians starting an AIDS hospice in our country. Those people really impressed me."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Not that I actually know any Christians at all. Otherwise I could perhaps find out more, and ask some real questions. If they'd try and give straight answers, and not just preach at me."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Well, if their beliefs work for them, that's great. Of course, I do read my horoscope when I remember to. I always try to avoid things that it warns against. And Charlie gave me some healing crystals -- I keep them by my bed, and they really seem to make me feel calmer sometimes. Buddhism sounds fun, actually. There are evening classes at the local college. Carlos and Miriam have been going. They say it is really good -- there is no pressure to join anything, the classes are friendly and interactive, and already they feel that their lives are changing for the better."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Not that I need God, or religion or stuff. Though it would be nice to know where I am going. To feel more grounded. Have a purpose. And I wish I could cope with stress better than I do. Or even find someone I could talk to about the things that worry me. My job is not safe anymore. I can't face all that job-loss stuff again -- it's happened twice before. Specially with my loans to repay. And I'm just hoping that dad's medical tests won't show anything bad. Specially now he has left mum and is living alone."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...And even deal with that thing which happened when I was a child -- what that man did to me in the toilets. I never told anyone, not even my mother. It still makes me feel guilty. I manage to blank it out most of the time. I'm sure it contributed to my last relationship breakup. Life is a bit lonely just now."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Of course, I always try to escape from the week's stress on Friday night. Me and a few mates. It seems to help, somehow. But there's always Monday again."
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).
ALL THE DIFFERENCE
All but four of the major world religions are based on mere philosophical propositions. Of the four that are based on personalities rather than philosophies, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder.
In 1900 B.C. Judaism’s Father Abraham died. In 483 B.C. Buddhist writings say Buddha died “with that utter passing away in which nothing whatever remains behind.” June 6, 632 A.D. Mohammed died. .
In 33 A.D. Jesus died but came back to life appearing to 500 people over a period of 40 days.
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is you...
K. Edward "Ed" Skidmore
I remember a Youth Minister saying years ago "My problem is not motivating people; My problem is people DE-motivating me!" From years in ministry I have learned the hard way that People will disappoint you. People will oppose you. People will see themselves in competition with you. Sometimes in your own family. (even in your church family!) And I must admit that it can be a real downer to see your fiercest opposition coming from other Christians.
But Paul was able to see beyond the petty attitudes of these competitive Christians. He said, "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice." Philippians 1:18
To again quote Charles Spurgeon:
"It is joy to all nations that Christ is born, the Prince of Peace, the King who rules in righteousness...Beloved, the greatest joy is to those who know Christ as a Saviour...The further you submit yourself to Christ the Lord, the more completely you know Him, the fuller will your happiness become. Surface joy is to those who live where the Saviour is preached; but the great deeps, the great fathomless deeps of solemn joy which glisten and sparkle with delight, are for such as know the Saviour, obey the Anointed One, and have communion with the Lord Himself...you will never know the fullness of the joy which Jesus brings to the soul, unless under the power of the Holy Spirit you take the Lord your Master to be your All in all, and make Him the fountain of your intensest delight."
(From a sermon by Todd Leupold "Joy To The World" 12/21/2008)
The meaning of life. The wasted years of life. The poor choices of life. God answers the mess of life with one word: grace. We talk as though we understand the term. The bank gives us a grace period. The seedy politician falls from grace. Musicians speak of a grace note. We describe an actress as gracious, a dancer as graceful. We use the word for hospitals, baby girls, kings, and pre-meal prayers. We talk as though we know what grace means. Especially at church. Grace graces the songs we sing and the Bible verses we read. Grace shares the church parsonage with its cousins: forgiveness, faith, and fellowship. Preachers explain it, hymns proclaim it and seminaries preach it. But do we really understand it?
Max Lucado, "Grace" (p. 7)
[America’s Sin of Self-Sufficiency, Citation: Richard Halverson, "The Question Facing Us," Preaching Today, Tape 46.]
In 1863 President Lincoln designated April 30th as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. Let me read a portion of his proclamation on that occasion:
"It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, who owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by a history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. The awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as ...
AN AUTHENTIC VOICE
The world is waiting to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God--not an echo of what others are doing and saying, but an authentic voice. — A. W. Tozer
It is not what men eat, but what they digest that makes them strong
Not what we gain, but what we save that makes us rich
Not what we read, but what we remember that makes us learned
Not what we preach or pray, but what we practice and believe that makes us Christians – Francis Bacon