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The Rev. Frank Bartleman was a leader in the 1907 visitation of the Holy Spirit on Azusa Street in L.A. He said, "Men love the spectacular. What we do not understand is íwonderful.í Godís fire falls on sacrifice, as in Elijahís case.
The greater the sacrifice, consecration, the more fire. Godís fire falls only on sacrifice. An empty altar receives no fire."
"It is not the man who can build the biggest brush heap, but the one who can set his heap on fire that will light up the country.
"The devil has no conscience, and the flesh has no sense. Many have never learned submission, courtesy, nor anything else, even in the way of common manners. A spirit of self-importance is one of the most disgusting things in the world.
"The oil (the Holy Ghost) ceases to flow, as in Elijahís time, when there are no more empty vessels to be filled. People do not sense their need of God. But wherever there is a hungry heart, God will fill it. íThe rich (full) He has sent empty away.í"
Corinthians 13 written by a South African Pioneer:Read the following paraphase of 1
"If I have the language perfectly and speak like a native, and have not His love for them, I am nothing. If I have diplomas and degrees and know all the up-to-date methods, and have not His touch of understanding love, I am nothing. If I am able to argue successfully against the religions of the people and make fools of them, and have not His wooing note, I am nothing. If I have all faith and great ideals and magnificent plans, and not His love that sweats and bleeds and weeps and prays and pleads, I am nothing. If I give my clothes and money to them, and have not His love for them, I am nothing.
If I surrender all prospects, leave home and friends, make the sacrifices of a missionary career, and turn sour and selfish amid the daily annoyancesand slights of a missionary life, and have not the love that yields its rights, its leisures, its pet plans, I am nothing. Virtue has ceased to go out of me. If I can heal all manner of sickness and disease, but wound hearts and hurt feelings for want of His love that is kind, I am nothing. If I can write articles or publish books that win applause, but fail to transcribe the Word of the Cross into the language of His love, I am nothing."
AUGUSTINE AND THE FOUR STATES OF MAN
In the 5th century AD, St. Augustine wrote about the "4 States of Man":
* The first state of man (the haec sunt prima) is "living according to the flesh -- with reason making no resistance." This can be seen in so many ancient cultures and religions (and unfortunately more than a few in our own time) with their human sacrifices, their idols, their pagan ceremonies, and even cannibalism. Human life -- without power -- was lightly regarded. Animals, especially domesticated animals, were often valued more highly than human life. Reason often vanishes when weighed against lust and self-gratification. Even today, this seems to be coming full circle.
* The second state of man is "recognition of sin through the Law . . . but sinning knowingly." It was so important for Satan to remove the Ten Commandments from our classrooms and courtrooms. It was critical for him to "separate church and state." So long as people knew the Law, it would not be so easy to ignore the Law. Without the reminders of the Law, we easily return to the first state of man. Does any of this sound familiar?
* The third state of man is "faith in the help of God -- but he perseveres in seeking to please God." Man has begun to be moved by the Spirit of God. We are already standing with one foot in the hell which we have created, but in the "third state", man knows it. So he still struggles against his own sinful nature because he has not yet been fully healed.
* The fourth state of man is "the full and perfect peace in God." This we find in harmony with Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the person of Jesus Christ, we see how far we have departed from God.
Augustine adds, "The will of man is always free, even and particularly when it can no longer will to do evil." But Adam and Eve were not gods, "and their 'free will' would not have sufficed, even in paradise, to merit immortality. Divine assistance was needed. Their immortality could only continue by their continued relationship with the Divine. So how much more do we need God's help since our fall?"
Augustine continues, "Even the good merits and qualities which people may display toward one another are gifts from God. Every good quality comes from His grace. God's mercy is the ground of salvation. Therefore, let no man boast. Out of faith spring hope and love. We hope only in God -- not in men and not in ourselves." ("The History of Doctrines", Reinhold Seeberg, p. 366)
Dorothy Sayers wrote, "If men will not understand the meaning of judgment, they will never come to understand the meaning of grace."
Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg--or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soulís ally forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You canít tell a vet just by looking.
What is a vet?
He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didnít run out of fuel.
He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.
She--or he--is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another--or didnít come back at all.
He is the Quantico drill instructor that has never seen combat--but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each otherís backs.
He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.
He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor die unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the oceanís sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket--palsied now and aggravatingly slow--who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being, a person who offered some of his lifeís most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.
So remember, each...
"Loyalty means nothing, unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of sacrifice."
HARDSHIPS FURTHER HIS KINGDOM
Bill Hybels' The Power of a Whisper (p.110-111):
"Don't ever buy into the idea that everything God prompts His followers to do will be uncomplicated or low-cost. Sometimes God asks His children to carry heavy loads, as He did with the apostle Paul. But even--and often especially--under those backbreaking burdens, God's purposes are fulfilled. When our (whispered) task is tough, the reward of knowing we've helped further His Kingdom and bettered our broken world is all the sweeter.
"If you ever find yourself with a difficult assignment, why not try giving God thanks for trusting you with something that needs your particular strength. He assigns tasks to the right person every time. He did it throughout history, and He still does it today. As you walk whatever potholed path He has asked you to walk, never forget the tough journey that Jesus Himself once made. ...Christ was asked to bear the most difficult assignment of all--to lay down His life as a redemptive sacrifice for humankind. He chose to obey. And because of His obedience, you and I enjoy our redemption today."
Adoniram Judson was a great missionary. He once said about serving God, and success:
"There is no success without sacrifice. If you succeed without sacrifice it is because someone has suffered before you. If you sacrifice without success it is because someone will succeed after."
CHANGING THE PRICE TAGS
One year, my best friend and I devised what we thought was a brilliant and creative plan for mischief. We decided to break into the basement of the local five-and-dime store. We did not plan to rob the place (Sunday School boys would never do that sort of the thing); instead, we planned to do something that, as far as the owner of the store was concerned, would have been far worse. Our plan was to get into that five-and-dime store and change the price tags on things.
We imagined what it would be like the next morning when people came into the store and discovered that radios were selling for a quarter and bobby pins were priced at five dollars each. With diabolical glee, we wondered what it would be like in that store when nobody could figure out what the prices of things really should be.
Sometimes I think that Satan has played the same kind of trick on all of us. Sometimes I think that he has broken into our lives and changed the price tags on things. Too often, under the influences of his malicious ploy, we treat what deserves to be treated with loving care as though it were of little worth. On the other hand, we find ourselves tempted to ma...
"At a certain moment, a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped. When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don’t call this my "deathbed." Call it my "bed of life," and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.
"Give my sight to someone who has never seen a sunrise, a baby’s face or love in the eyes of another. Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain. Give my blood to the teenager who has been pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play. Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week. Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve so that someday a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her windows.
"Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow. If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all my prejudice against my other humans. Give my sins to the Devil. Give my soul to God. If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you.
We’ve probably all heard the expression, “This separates the men from the boys!” What kinds of things separate the men from the boys? Things that involve danger and risk. Things that take courage and a willingness to sacrifice. Things that are grueling and gut-wrenching. Things that require maturity and perseverance, not just boyish enthusiasm and energy.
In a sense, that’s what this parable (the Good Samaritan) teaches about the Christian life. Jesus isn’t separating the men from the boys, He’s separating the real Christian from the merely religious.