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A number of years ago, Dr. Waltke, a seminary professor, & three pastors, one of which was Charles Swindol toured the mother church of the First Church of Christ Scientist in downtown Boston. The four were unknown to the elderly lady who was going to give them a tour. They didn’t tell her who they were, at least not at first. She showed them several interesting things on the main floor. When they got to the pipe organ she began to talk about their doctrine & especially their belief about no judgment in the life beyond. Dr. Waltke waited for just the right moment & then very casually asked: "But, Ma’am, doesn’t it say somewhere in the Bible, ’It is appointed unto man once to die & after that, the judgment?" The scholar could have quoted Hebrews 9:27 in the Greek, but he was so gracious & tactful. Swindol confessed he was thinking, "Go for it Bruce. Now we’ve got her where we want her!" Without a pause, the lady simply ask, "Would you like to see the second floor?" Dr. Waltke said, "We surely would, thank you." She smiled, somewhat relieved, & started to lead the men up a flight of stairs. Swindol recalled he couldn’t believe it. He was thinking, "No, don’t let her get away. Make her answer your question!" He pulled on the scholar’s arm & said in a low voice, "Hey, why didn’t you nail the lady? Why didn’t you press the point & not let her get away until she answered?" Swindol said he replied, "But, Chuck, that wouldn’t have been fair. That wouldn’t have been very loving, either- now would it?" Swindol said, "Wham, the quiet rebuke left me reeling. I shall never forget that moment. And to complete the story, you’ll be interested to know that in less than 20 minutes he was sitting with the woman alone, gently speaking to her about the Lord Jesus Christ. She sat in rapt attention. He, the gracious servant, had won a hearing by being kind.
TALE OF TWO KINGS
Two of the greatest love stories ever told. The one, at Camelot; the other, at Calvary. Two of the noblest kings ever to live. The one, King Arthur; the other, King of the Jews. The one is adorned with a jeweled crown; the other, with a crown of thorns.
The comparisons and contrasts between Camelot and Calvary are many, but one scene from Camelot illustrates a great theological dilemma that only the cross could resolve.
Prior to His appointment with destiny on the brow of that fateful hill, Jesus agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Lk. 22:42).
Understand, on an emotional level, that this is the pleading of a son to his father. If your child came to you in such agony, wouldn’t you do everything within your power to grant the request?
But this Father, this time, didn’t respond as expected. And that’s the theological rub. He denied the request of His Son, His only Son, His beloved Son. In Gethsemane, that Son was asking:
"Is there no other way?"
The Son is betrayed, arrested, deserted, denied, beaten, tried, mocked, and finally crucified. Tacitly, the Father answers:
"No, there is no other way."
But why? Why was there no other way?
We find the answer to that question in a scene from Camelot, where the adulterous relationship between Queen Guenevere and Arthur’s most trusted knight, Sir Lancelot, has divided the Round Table. When the scheming Mordred catches them in a clandestine encounter, Lancelot escapes. Guenevere is not so fortunate. She faces a trial. The jury finds her guilty and sentences her to the flame.
As the day of execution nears, people come from miles around with one question in their minds: Would the king let her die?
Mordred gleefully captures the complexity of Arthur’s predicament:
Arthur! What a magnificent dilemma!
Let her die, your life is over;
Let her live, your life’s a fraud.
Which will it be, Arthur?
Do you kill the queen or kill the law?
Tragically but resolutely, Arthur decides: "Treason has been committed! The jury has ruled! Let justice be done!"
High from the castle window stands Arthur, as Guenevere enters the courtyard. She walks to her unlit stake, where the executioner stands with waiting torch. Arthur turns away, emotion brimming in his eyes.
A herald mounts the tower where Arthur has withdrawn: "The queen is at the stake, Your Majesty. Shall I signal the torch?"
But the king cannot answer.
Arthur’s love for Jenny spills from his broken heart: "I can’t! I can’t! I can’t let her die!"
Seeing Arthur crumble, Mordred relishes the moment: "Well, you’re human after all, aren’t you, Arthur? Human and helpless."
Tragically, Arthur realizes the truth of Mordred’s remark. Being only human, he is indeed helpless. But where this story ends, the greatest story ever told just begins.
Another Execution Scene.
Another time. Another place. Another king.
The setting: A world lies estranged from the God who loves it. Like Genevere, an unfaithful humanity stands guilty and in bondage, awaiting judgment’s torch.
Could God turn His head from the righteous demands of the law and simply excuse the world’s sin? If not, then could He turn His head from the world He loved? Would the king burn Guenevere?
Like the wicked Mordred, Satan must have looked on in delight:
God! What a magnificent dilemma!
Let them die, Your life is over;
Let them live, Your life’s a fraud;
Which will it be, God?
Do You kill Your world or do You kill the law?
Without even waiting for His Guenevere to look up in repentance, the King stepped down from His throne, took off His crown, laid aside His royal robes, and descended His castle’s polished steps into humanity’s pockmarked streets. Paul’s words in Philippians are thought by some scholars to be the lyrics of an ancient hymn, singing about the King of kings.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Phil. 2:6-8
That scene in the movie was an epiphany of understanding. Suddenly, it all made sense. We know now why He had to die, why there was no other way.
When love and justice collide, only the cross offers a happy ending.
Source: Abridged excerpt from Ken Gire’s book Windows of the Soul. Copyright © 1996 by Ken Gire, Jr. Zondervan Publishing Houses.
ANTIVIRUS: HOLY SPIRIT
Jesus said in verse 7 of John 16, "For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."
Jesus was God in the flesh, of course. He could have spoken this world out of existence at any given time, but, I would like to use an illustration of the Holy Spirit to those who use the computer and realize what a great tool it is for the cause of Christ.
Before you accept Christ as your Saviour, you are full of sin without any hope of living the life that Jesus calls more abundant. You have been given a death sentence. While you are here on this Earth, you learn and fill your memory full of things--even good things--that will get you nowhere with God. It’s like a computer with no protection and full of viruses and things that are not useful and headed for self destruction.
Satan, the extreme virus that invades your mind. (Hard drive) When you accept Jesus as your Saviour, there are a few things that happen when you do:
First of all, God sends the Holy Spirit to live inside you. Jesus said He comes: he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. The Greek word for "reprove" is elegchô which means "to convict."
Number 1. He convicts us of our sin. (He scans us and calls for removal)
Number 2. He was raised from the dead that you and I could not only have our sins subtracted, but so we could have His righteousness. added. (Sin is deleted and the antivirus takes over)
Number 3. He convicts of judgment: It’s not the judgment that is to come. This world has already been judged, and it’s guilty of sin. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. We are guilty, and the Holy Spirit speaks to us and shows us that we are only filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) in the sight of God, but because of Jesus, we are accepted and forgiven by His grace and mercy. (We see the need for a antivirus because we are vulnerable to all)
Once you ask Jesus into your heart, it’s as if you would download a file in your computer for an antivirus program, except this is a living holy being called the Holy Spirit and the subscription will last forever.
It’s the third of the trinity, Father (God), Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit (indwells the believer) We need the Holy Spirit as our computers need an antivirus. There are many brand names of the program, but there is only one that works. There is only one that never needs updating, always the same yesterday, today and forever. Best of all its free for the asking. Romans 10: 9-10
The only way truth and life, Jesus Christ our Lord.
THE MAN WHO’D DIE FOR HER-- COMMUNION MEDITATION
On the southern border of the empire of Cyrus, there lived a great chieftain named Cagular who tore to shreds and completely defeated the various detachments of Cyrus’ army sent to subdue him. Finally the emperor, amassing his whole army, marched down, surrounded Cagular, captured him, and brought him to the capital for execution. On the day of the trial, he and his family were brought to the judgment chamber - Cagular, a fine looking man of more than 6 feet, with a noble manner about him - a magnificent specimen of a man. So impressed was Cyrus with his appearance, that he said to Cagular: "What would you do should I spare your life?"
"Your Majesty, if you spared my life, I would return to my home and remain your obedient servant as long as I lived."
"What would you do if I spared the life of your wife?"
"Your Majesty, if you spared the life of my wife, I would die for you."
So moved was the emperor that he freed them both and returned Cagular to his province to act as governor thereof. Upon arriving at home, Cagular reminisced about the trip with his wife. "Did you notice," he said to his wife, "the marble at the entrance of the palace? Did you notice the tapestry on the wall as we went down the corridor into the throne room? And did you see the chair on which the emperor sat? It must have been carved from one lump of pure gold."
His wife could appreciate his excitement and how impressed he was with it all, but she only replied: "I really didn’t notice any of that."
"Well," said Cagular in amazement, "What did you see?"
His wife looked seriously into his eyes and said, "I beheld only the face of the man who sai...
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CHRYSOSTOM ON ECCLESIASTES
Eutropius had fallen into disgrace. As the highest-ranking official in the Byzantine Empire (late fourth century), he served as the closest adviser to the emperor Arcadius, then ruling in Constantinople. But Eutropius abused his imperial power and aroused the anger of the empress Eudoxia, who orchestrated a campaign against him that resulted in a sentence of death.
Desperate to save his life, Eutropius slipped away from the palace and ran to the Hagia Sophia, where he clung to the altar and claimed sanctuary. Soon an angry mob of soldiers surrounded the great church, denouncing Eutropius and demanding his execution. Eventually, the crowds dispersed, but the next day was Sunday, and so they returned the following morning to see whether the pastor would give in to their demands for the execution of Eutropius.
The pastor was John Chrysostom, the famous preacher who served as the Bishop of Constantinople. As he mounted his pulpit, Chrysostom could see a church crowded with worshipers and thrill-seekers. They, in turn, could see Eutropius groveling at the altar. The great man had become a pitiable spectacle, with his teeth chattering and hopeless terror in his eyes.
The dramatic sermon Chrysostom preached that day may have been the finest he ever preached. For his text Chrysostom took Ecclesiastes 1:2 ("Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity"), and for his primary illustration he used the decline and fall of Eutropius.
Here was a man, Chrysostom noted, who had lost everything--position, wealth, freedom, safety. Only days before, he had been the second most powerful man in the world. But it was all vanity, as events had proven, for now Eutropius had become "more wretched than a chained convict, more pitiable than a menial slave, more indigent than a beggar wasting away with hunger." "Though I should try my very best," Chrysostom said, "I could never convey to you in words the agony he must be suffering, from hour to hour expecting to be butchered."
Chrysostom did not stop there, however. His purpose was not to condemn Eutropius but to save him, and also to give his listeners the gospel. To that end, he challenged his listeners to recognize the vanity of their own existence. Whether rich or poor, one day they would all have to leave their possessions behind. They too would face a day of judgment--the judgment of a holy God. Their only hope then would be the hope that they should offer to Eutropius now--mercy at the table of Christ.
The sermon must have hit its mark, for as Chrysostom came to a close, he could see tears of pity streaming down people's faces. Eutropius was spared--a life saved by the preaching of Ecclesiastes.
Because Ecclesiastes is the Word of the living God, it can have the same impact in our lives today. Ecclesiastes teaches us that there is more to life than what we can see with our eyes. Ecclesiastes warns us to live our lives in light of eternity. Ecclesiastes teaches us how to live a meaningful life.
(From a sermon by Freddy Fritz, Introduction to Ecclesiastes, 7/11/2010)
The playlet entitled ‘The Long Silence’ says it all:
At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne.
Most shrank back from the brilliant light before them. But some groups near the front talked heatedly – not with cringing shame, but with belligerence.
‘Can God judge us? How can he know about suffering?’ snapped a pert young brunette. She ripped open a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. ‘We endured terror … beatings … torture … death!”
In another group an African-American boy lowered his collar. ‘What about this?’ he demanded, showing an ugly rope burn. ‘Lynched … for no crime but being black!’
In another crowd, a pregnant schoolgirl with sullen eyes. ‘Why should I suffer’ she murmured, ‘It wasn’t my fault.’
Far out across the plain there were hundreds of such groups. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering he permitted in his world. How lucky God was to live in heaven where all was sweetness and light, where there was no weeping or fear, no hunger or hatred. What did God know of all that man had been forced to endure in this world? For God leads a pretty sheltered life, they said.
So each of these groups sent forth their leader, chosen because he had suffered the most. A Jew, an African-American, a person from Hiroshima, a horribly deformed arthritic, a thalidomide child. In the center of the plain they consulted with each other. At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather clever.
Before God could be qualified to be their judge, he must endure what they had endured. Their decision was that God should be sentenced to live on earth – as a man!
‘Let him be born a Jew. Let the legitimacy of his birth be doubted. Give him a work so difficult that even his family will think him out of his mind when he tries to do it. Let him be betrayed by his closest friends. Let him face false charges, be tried by a prejudiced jury and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let him be tortured.
‘At last, let him see what it means to be terribly alone. Then let him die. Let him die so that there can be no doubt that he died. Let there be a great host of witnesses to verify it.’
As each leader announced his portion of the sentence, loud murmurs of approval went up from the throng of people assembled.
And when the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence. No-one uttered another word. No-one moved. For suddenly all knew that God had already served his sentence.
A father and son were driving down a country road and saw a watermelon patch a little way off the highway. The father said to the boy, "Keep a lookout here while I go get a melon." He snuck into the patch, lifted a choice melon from the vine, and then called to the boy, "Is anyone coming? Look both ways." The little fellow wisely responded, "But Daddy, shouldn’t we look up too?" ( Our Daily Bread , April 18, 1999)
John A Boor- I had an opportunity to work in a bakery while going to high school. I remember one particular day when the telephone rang and one of the ladies went to answer it. She put down the phone like it was hot and yelled, “He’s coming!” I wondered what in the world was going on. The ladies ran for their hair nets and men ran for clean aprons and clean caps. The boss told me to sweep the floor, and cover all the containers. There was a wild and excited look in his eyes. Everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I thought to myself, “Who is coming?” Suddenly through the front door entered a man in a suit with a case under his arm. As I observed him he began to walk around and check the bakery for any health hazards. I then realized that he was the state inspector for the Board of Health. After he left everyone breathed a sigh of relief and went back to work. One of the ladies told me that all the places of business always watched out for each other. The first one to see the inspector coming would then call the other business. They had a system of warning. When Jesus comes again there won’t be time to prepare a ...
DL Moody was a great evangelist from Chicago. He went to England once and met a young man there that wanted to preach in his church. Moody agreed thinking that he would never see him again. To his dismay he recieved a letter that said the young man would be in his town shorlty and wanted to take him up on the offer. Moody was going out of town that week and agreed to let the man preach, but he warned the deacons to be ready in case it was a real flop. When Moody returned from his business his wife informed him that revival had broken out in his church and that "he needed to be converted". The young man preached every night on the same text, John 3:16, speaking of the love of God, from his heart. Moody went and he said he was indeed converted. He said I used to preach the judgment side of the cross, now I focus on the grace side of the cross, I used to preach mainly on the wrath of God, now I preach he said on the love of God. His life and ministry were forever changed. We need to experience a renewal of the Love of Christ in our Lives.
A. Todd Coget
[Good Won’t Get You There, Feda H. Babinski]
I’m standing there in front of gates like none I’ve ever found
They shine like golden ribbons as they glide across the ground
I see the stairs that never end how brilliantly they glow
I start to climb and realize there’s nothing down below
Then suddenly the two appear yes they must be my guide
They didn’t speak or show their face while they were by my side
We reached the top and I was placed in line with everyone
The two so quickly disappeared I guess their job was done
Such purity was all around so it just had to be
The day that would determine where I’d spend eternity
The line moved very slowly but since I’d been good and kind
I knew where I was going so I really didn’t mind
I watched so many walk away with wings as white as snow
The others were escorted out to where? I didn’t know
My turn had come to face the Lord but much to my surprise
I didn’t feel so confident when I looked in his eyes
I felt His power all around and nothing was the same
He opened up this golden book and asked me for my name
He said, "Where your name should appear there’s just a vacancy"
I said, But God I’ve been so good please look again for me"
God closed the book and tiny angels wiped his tears away
He said, "I hope you’ll understand what I’m about to say
Do you recall that poor old man who asked you for a dime?
You hurried passed and said to him that you did not have time
There also was a little child who wanted you to play
Again you didn’t have the time and pushed the child away
In line while at the grocery store she tried to hurry so
You grumbled as you passed her by because she moved too slow
You see, I came so many times but you turned me away
So now I don’t know who you are I’m sad for you today
If I’m not living in your heart you can’t be free from sin
So being good is not enough you must be Born Again"
The two appeared just like before they stood close by my side
This time I saw their faces and became so terrified
Through tears I was escorted to my final destiny
I had no one to blame at all except for one, just me
Then suddenly a ringing sound completely filled my head
I opened up my eyes and found that I was still in bed
Through sweat and tears I realized how real our dreams could be
And then I wondered just how long that God would wait for me
That night I gave my heart away I’m Born Again through prayer
God proved to me with so much love that "Good Won’t Get You There"