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Will Rogers said, "You can summarize American History into two great movements: the passing of the Buffalo and The passing of the buck."
(From a sermon by Kyle Sullivan, Let’s Get Spiritual, 6/10/2010)
I sat down one day and began to think about what word I would choose if I could only choose one word to describe myself; one word which would describe me better than any other word.
Many words immediately began to pour into my mind. I could think of so many aspects of my life that I could highlight.
Thinker, I thought. I love to sit and think just for the sake of thinking; to ponder just for the sake of pondering. After all, it was pondering that led me to this exercise in the first place. But as I thought further, I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Emotional, perhaps. I am a very emotional person. At times it is as though the moon controls my emotions as it controls the ocean’s tide: high, low, high low. Only, the tide’s changing from high to low is more predictable. Yes, I am certainly emotional. But once again, I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Lover. I love many things: people, nature, having fun. Yes, I do love many things. However, I do not always love. Sometimes, I even hate. I don’t intend to hate, but still, sometimes I do. So again, I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Artist. I enjoy art. I enjoy writing, drawing, and singing. I am not good, but I am not bad either. Art sometimes acts as a way of escape for me. Yet, I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Passionate. I am very passionate. I am passionate about sports, hobbies, God, and many other things. My voice reflects my passion. But even my passion fails me. So I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Then I thought, “Why have all the words so far been positive?” I am not always positive. I am sometimes negative. Maybe a negative word would describe me best.
Cynical. What can be more negative that being negative? For sometimes-negative me, this seemed like a good solution. Sometimes I only see the negative side of a situation. Yes, cynical could be it. But I realized that I should not choose a word that describes me sometimes. Sometimes I am negative. But sometimes I am positive too. Sometimes the cup is half empty. But sometimes it is half full. So again, I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Imperfect. I am not perfect. In fact, I am far from it. I make mistakes like everybody else. Yes, like everybody else, I am imperfect. But everyone is imperfect. Did I really want to choose this word to describe myself? No, absolutely not. I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Sinner. I am certainly a sinner. I was born with a bent toward sin. When I was young, I was selfish with my toys. As I grew older, I grew deeper into sin, and thus further away from God. Sometimes I still sin. After all, I am imperfect. I thought this could certainly be the best choice. But something about it made me uncomfortable in choosing it. Then it hit me. Years ago, I had traded this word to describe myself for a better one.
Redeemed. Yes, I was once a sinner, but through God’s grace and mercy through the blood of Jesus, I have been redeemed. The songwriter wrote, “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it…” I must agree. I do love to proclaim it. Thus, this is the word that I choose to describe myself.
I am Redeemed!!!
“Small Opportunities in Great Tasks!” Luke 23: 50-56 Key verse(s): 55: “The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.”
IF YOU HAD your choice, would you prefer that your hands and heart be on the end of great deeds or lesser ones? Great deeds are not only attention getters’; they are potentially more impacting in their scope. So it is not always a matter of recognition that must be considered. Great deeds affect more people and isn’t that the goal of every Christian? If we keep in mind that our ministries, yours and mine, are not about us but about the glory that God can reveal through us, would it not then make sense that each of us should aspire to great deeds and let the lesser one fall where they may?
Recently I had my classic car into the shop for major body work and repainting. The wear and tear of nearly four decades of driving had really taken their toll. The original paint finish, a beautiful willow green, had faded to a very indistinct grayish green color. In places the brown undercoating was showing through and it had become nearly impossible to tell just what color the car had been in the first place. Surface rust had spring up in abundance over the entire chassis skin. That combined with the revealing undercoat brought some to speculate that the car had originally been brown and that the greenish-gray paint was nothing more than a poor attempt to cover it. There were dings, dent and creases everywhere. Both rear fenders had been buckled due to accidents and there was a good size dent in one of the front fenders. Both bumpers were creased and dented and a number of pieces of chrome trim was missing. The car looked pretty sorry as I left in in the capable hands of the body shop. It would be many weeks before it would be finished.
Over the course of the next several weeks I had occasion to stop into the shop just to see how things were going. I was amazed the very first time that I stopped to see that all the dents, creases and dings had been eliminated. I walked along the sides of it brushing my hand along the now smooth and sleep exterior. But, the old paint remained as well as the surface rust. The car looked better but, unfinished as it was, it still looked kind of sad. The next time I stopped by I was told that the car had been stripped and readied for painting. Curious as to how she might look I asked to see it. The manager called up the young man who had been working on it and he guided me back to where they were working on it. There it sat, chrome taped up to prevent over-printing and completely devoid of color and finish. Frankly, it looked barren and stark as it sat there covered with a thick layer of dust and specks due to the power sanding that had been done. Improvement? Sure, the surface rust was gone and there were no more dents, creases and dings. They had put a lot of work into it; but it still seemed a long way from being finished.
Finally I got the phone call I was waiting for. My car was “finished and I could pick it up any time.” I rushed down to the shop and there she was; gleaming, painted and smooth. I could hardly believe it was the same car I had dropped off weeks earlier. As I paid my bill I asked to see the guys who had worked on her over the course of those weeks. It turned out there were several who had put a whole lot of effort into the project. I thanked each of them and then got into my car to drive back home. The first thing I noticed, however, was that there was no wax on the car and that the entire interior was coated with a thick layer of dust. There was also a missing chrome bezel over the back running light. The car was finished but not complete. There were yet a few details to be taken care of. Each not critically important but each would contribute to the overall appearance of the car. Several weeks later, new bezel in hand, interior cleaned, and a fresh coat of wax on the entire surface, the old car gleamed. It was the few final details that made all the difference.
Those Galilean women that followed Joseph to the Savior’s tomb had not been allowed to testify in Jesus’ behalf. They were not important enough to be pursued by the authorities as “followers” of the “Galilean prophet.” Neither Caiaphas nor Pontius Pilate even knew that they existed nor did they probably care. They were not preachers or baptizers but they did what they could. They were the “detailers,” the ones who took care of the little things that on the surface did not seem that important relevant to the whole picture. Yet their deeds were works of completion and finishing. On the one hand small, on the other great. You and I are often called to just such opportunities. When called to do the small things we need to recognize that even lesser opportunities serve to complete those of greater impact. In these instances we need to see that it is not what we feel we cannot do but what God has enabled us to do is important. Often in great tasks rest small opportunities. It is up to us to look for them for they are not always labeled.
A family was watching a movie of the life of Jesus on television. Their six-year-old daughter was deeply moved as the film realistically portrayed Jesus’ crucifixion and death. Tears ran down the little girl’s face as they took Him from the cross and laid Him in a borrowed tomb. She watched as a guard was set. Suddenly, a big smile broke...
Crowns have always been the sign of authority and Kingship. Charlemagne, whom historians say should deserve to be called "great" above all others, wore an octagonal crown. Each of the eight sides was a plaque of gold, and each plaque was studded with emeralds, sapphires, and pearls. The cost was the price of a king’s ransom.
Richard the Lionheart had a crown so heavy that two earls had to stand, one on either side, to hold his head.
The crown that Queen Elizabeth wears is worth over $20 million.
Edward II once owned nine crowns, something of a record.
Put them all together, from all of Europe and from the archives of the East, all of them are but trinkets compared to Christ’s crown. Revelation 19 says he had many diadems. He wears a crown of righteousness. He wears a crown of glory. He wears a crown of life. He wears a crown of peace and power.
Among those crowns, however, one outshines the rest. It was not formed by the skilled fingers of a silversmith, nor created by the genius of a craftsman. It was put together hurriedly by the rough hands of Roman soldiers. It was not placed upon its wearer’s head in pomp and ceremony, but in the hollow mockery of ridicule and blasphemy. It is a crown of thorns.
The amazing thing is that it belonged to me. I deserved to wear that crown. I deserved to feel the thrust of the thorns. I deserved to feel the warm trickle of blood upon my brow. I deserved the pain. He took my crown of thorns-—but without compensation. He offers to me instead His crown of life, the crown of His righteousness conferred to you and me; the crown that fadeth not away.
(From a sermon by Chris Surber, "The Pilgrim’s Path 4 Thirsting For God" 1/20/2009)
TEARING OF THE VEIL
QUOTE: Note 194 “This veil, which was the thickness of a palm breadth, was sixty feet long and thirty broad, and separated the Holy and Most Holy Places. Various attempts have been made to explain this strange phenomenon on naturalistic grounds, such as the earthquake, or as Jerome’s comment on the Gospel according to the Hebrews, by the fall of the huge lintel of the Temple broken by the earthquake. But this veil was of such tough fabric and so woven that it could not have been rent in twain by an earthquake or the falling of a lintel. Matthew connects the phenomenon directly with the death of Jesus, calling attention to the fact that it was rent ‘from top to bottom’ by God’s hand, throwing open thus the Most Holy Place to all men.”
(Shepard, The Christ of the Gospels, p. 604.)
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NO KING BUT JESUS
Did you know that the colonialists wanted to make George Washington a king? But he refused. Because George and many of the colonists believed that there was only one king, and it was not King George III.
On April 22, 1774, before the Revolutionary War, a report was sent to King George III of England, and in it the governor of Boston exclaimed, "If you ask an American who is his master, he will tell you, he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ."
In April 1775, when a British major called the colonialists, villains and told them "lay down your arms, in the name of George, the sovereign king of England," the immediate response was "We recognize no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus."
This became the battle cry and motto of the revolutionary war. No king but king Jesus.
(From a sermon by Michael Deutsch, The Beginning of the End, 8/29/2011)
THAT'S WHAT THE WIND IS FOR
A few years ago I planted a row of spruce pines to the east of our home for a couple of reasons. One to keep the dust from a neighboring field from blowing onto our house. The other reason was to keep the wind down.
They were just about 3 feet high when I bought them, because the smaller the tree, the smaller the price. It was early Spring and the March, and the wind was really aggressive. To keep them from blowing over I drove wooden stakes beside them and tied them up with string. I returned to the Garden Center where I bought them to pick up some other shrubbery and told the salesman I had to stake those spruce pines up because of the wind blowing them over. He said that they didn't need to be sup...
Sermon Central Staff
AN ART GALLERY TESTIMONY
There is the story about an old English farmer who went to London and visited one of the great art galleries in the city. There he was attracted by a painting of the crucifixion. He sat before it, studying each detail with intense interest. At last, forgetful of his surroundings, he cried out, "Bless Him! I love Him!"
Others nearby, startled by his words, came to see what was wrong with the old man. From different parts of the gallery they gathered around him. They saw the tears flowing down his bronzed cheeks. They too looked at the painting of the crucifixion. After a while, one man in the group with tearful eyes, reached for the farmers hand and said, "And I love Him too!" Then another and another and still another took the old man's hand until there was a sizable group of sobbing believers rejoicing in front of the painting of Christ's crucifixion and declaring, "We love Him too!"
Will you join the centurion in his confession, "Truly this Man is the Son of God?"
(From a sermon by John Lowe, The Face of Faith: The Centurion, 6/13/2012)
The Battlefield Wounds Of Christ
Matthew 27:28-31 says, "They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked Him. 'Hail, king of the Jews!' They spit on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him away to crucify Him." The prophet Isaiah enlightens us with this description of our Lord's battlefield wounds, "Just as there were many who were appalled at Him -- His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness" (Isaiah 52:14).
The Word of God gives us numerous details of the "Battlefield Wounds of Christ" which were inflicted upon the Savior of the World. "Jesus came to rule in the hearts and souls of man, and the rebellion of man's soul wounded Him. He came to rule the wills of His people and the resistance of self-will hurt Him. He came in righteousness to cast out unrighteousness and the wickedness of the world turned against Him." (unknown)
Though the Roman soldiers inflicted Him with a crown of thorns meant to cause pain, mockery and morbid enjoyment, God was allowing the proclamation of some powerful truths. Thorns were introduced with willful sin and were part of the curse spoken by God, "Cursed is the ground because of you [Adam]... It will produce thorns and thistles for you..." (Genesis 3:18). Figuratively, thorns signify affliction, the adversities of the wicked and the evils that spring up in the heart to choke out truth (Numbers 33:55; Proverbs 22:5; Matthew 13:7). Jesus' "crown" represented all our sin that He came to die for.
Another battlefield wound that was laid upon Jesus was flogging. Among the Romans it was customary to viciously whip a slave or criminal to cause even more excruciating pain for the victims about to be crucified.
The power of sin puts a person into bondage and causes him to become a criminal before the eyes of God. All sins are acts of rebellion against God's laws and decrees. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin" (John 8:34). Sin is in the heart of every criminal and unsaved sinner. Therefore, Jesus was stripped and flogged, His body afflicted because of our sin.
A third battlefield wound that was laid upon Christ was crucifixion itself. On the cross Jesus saw two classes of people, those whose hearts will remain hard and those who would repent and call out to Him. He not only bore the physical pain, but also the entire torture and suffering that are the consequences of human cruelty.
In Isaiah 53:6 we read that, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." Through the Battlefield Wounds of Christ sinners are offered forgiveness. Which class of people will you be in? Be like the repentant thief; put your trust in Christ for the salvation of your soul and receive Him into your life.