Archive for March, 2010

The Shield of Faith

March 31, 2010

In Ephesians 6, God directs us to take up our weapons and the full armor of God to fight the enemy. The first weapon we are directed to pick up is a shield of faith.

There are two Greek names for shields used by soldiers at that time. One is a small round shield called an aspis. The second is called a thureos, which is a full-length shield of leather-covered wood that protected the whole body. Guess which Greek shield is used to describe our shield of faith…that’s right, the thureos. This shield of faith covers our entire person. And we can use this shield to defend our faith against the attacks thrown at us by the enemy.

Contributed by: Christopher Roberts

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You Must Receive, Not Just Believe

March 30, 2010

Billy Graham said: “Many people argue, ‘I do believe in Christ. I believe in the Church, and I believe in the Bible. Isn’t that enough?’ No! You must RECEIVE Christ. I may go to the airport. I have a reservation. I have a ticket in my pocket. The plane is one the ramp. It is a big, powerful plane. I am certain that it will take me to my destination. They call the flight three times. I neglect to get on board. They close the door. The plane taxis down the runway and takes off. I am not on the plane. Why? I believed in the plane, but I neglected to get on board. That’s just it! You believe in God, Christ, the Bible, and the Church—but you have neglected to actually receive Him in your heart. Your belief has been an impersonal, speculative thing, and you have not entrusted yourself to Him.”

Contributed by: Stephen Wright

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A Higher Code of Conduct

March 29, 2010

In Words We Live By, Brian Burrell tells of an armed robber named Dennis Lee Curtis who was arrested in 1992 in Rapid City, South Dakota. Curtis apparently had scruples about his thievery. In his wallet the police found a sheet of paper on which was written the following code:

1. I will not kill anyone unless I have to.
2. I will take cash and food stamps—no checks.
3. I will rob only at night.
4. I will not wear a mask.
5. I will not rob mini-marts or 7-Eleven stores.
6. If I get chased by cops on foot, I will get away. If chased by vehicle, I will not put the lives of innocent civilians on the line.
7. I will rob only seven months out of the year.
8. I will enjoy robbing from the rich to give to the poor.

This thief had a sense of morality, but it was flawed. When he stood before the court, he was not judged by the standards he had set for himself but by the higher law of the state.

Likewise when we stand before God, we will not be judged by the code of morality we have written for ourselves but by God’s perfect law.

Source: Craig Brian Larson, Choice Contemporary Stories and Illustrations (Baker, 1998), p.181; Brian Burrell, Words We Live By, (S&S Trade, 1997). Contributed by: A. Todd Coget

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The Law of Nature

March 28, 2010

C.S. Lewis, in his essay “The Law of Human Nature,” said:

“Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties do not matter; but then, next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such thing as Right and Wrong—in other words, if there is no Law of Nature—what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else?”

Source: C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 1943 Macmillan Pub Co, NY. From Clark Tanner’s sermon, “God Calls to Account

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The Wrong Horse

March 27, 2010

Two Kentucky farmers who owned racing stables had developed a keen rivalry. One spring, each of them entered a horse in a local steeplechase. Thinking that a professional rider might help him outdo his friend, one of the farmers engaged a crack jockey. The two horses were leading the race at the last fence, but it proved too tough for them. Both horses fell, unseating their riders. But this calamity did not stop the professional jockey. He quickly remounted and won the race.

Returning triumphant to the paddock, the jockey found the farmer who had hired him fuming with rage. “What’s the matter?” the jockey asked. “I won, didn’t I?”

“Oh, yes,” roared the farmer. “You won all right, but you still don’t know, do you?”

“Know what?” asked the jockey.

“You won the race on the wrong horse!”

While this situation does not occur often at horse races, it happens in every human life. Each of us, trying hard to win the race, tends to climb on the wrong horse. If we do not discover our error, we cross the finish line a triumphant failure.

Jesus labels this faulty human reflex with a noun from the Old Testament: sin. He says an Old Testament verb is the only cure for it: repent.

Source: Herb Miller. Actions Speak Louder Than Words. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989, p. 15.
Contributed by: John Williams III

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Baptism

March 26, 2010

Baptism points back to the work of God, and forward to the life of faith.
Source: J.A. Motyer

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Authority: Change for a Dollar

March 25, 2010

An army corporal needed to use a pay-phone but didn’t have change for a dollar. He saw a lower-ranking private mopping the base’s corridor floors, and asked him, “Soldier, do you have change for a dollar?”

The private replied, “Yeah, sure.”

The corporal turned red and quickly reprimanded the private, “That’s no way to address a superior officer in the army! It is ‘Sir’ and nothing else. Are we clear? Now let’s try it again. Private, do you have change for a dollar?”

The private glanced at the corporal and replied, “No, SIR!”

Source: From a sermon by Victor Yap, “Jesus is Lord” 1/24/2009

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This is Good

March 24, 2010

The story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, “This is good!”

One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, “This is good!” To which the king replied, “No, this is not good!” and proceeded to send his friend to jail.

About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way.

As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. “You were right,” he said, “it was good that my thumb was blown off.” And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. “And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.”

“No,” his friend replied, “This is good!”

“What do you mean, ‘This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?”

“If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you.”

Source: From a sermon by Robert Tallent, “Close Don’t Count” 7/19/08

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So Many Owed So Much to One

March 23, 2010

During World War II’s Battle of Britain, the Royal Air Force’s courageous defense of the skies over Britain foiled Hitler’s plans for an invasion of the British Isles. Afterward, Prime Minister Winston Churchill said in the House of Commons, “Never in the history of mankind have so many owed so much to so few.”

But when we think of the cross of Christ, and the person who died on it, what we say is: Never if the history of the universe has mankind owed so much to One.

Contributed by: From a sermon by Jonathan McLeod, “God Is Love: A Valentine’s Day Message” 2/9/2009

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He Died for Everyone–Including Me

March 22, 2010

The famed congregational preacher, Dwight L. Moody, once said:

“The great trouble is that people take everything in general and do not take it to themselves. Suppose a man should say to me, ‘Moody, there was a man in Europe who died last week and left five million dollars to a certain individual.’ ‘Well,’ I say, ‘I don’t doubt that; it’s rather a common thing to happen,’ and I don’t think anything more about it. But suppose he says, ‘But he left the money to you.’ Then I pay attention; I say, ‘To me?’ ‘Yes, he left it to you.’ I become suddenly interested. I want to know all about it.

“So we are apt to think Christ died for sinners; He died for everybody and for nobody in particular. But when the truth comes to me that eternal life is mine, and all the glories of heaven are mine, I begin to be interested. I say, ‘Where is the chapter and verse where it says I can be saved?’ If I put myself among sinners, I take the place of the sinner, then that salvation is mine and I am sure of it for time and eternity.”

Contributed by: From Chris Surber’s Sermon “Light of the World—Advent 4

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