Odds & Ends: March 2017
Wonder of wonders
The world is filled with wonders, writes Nathaniel Olson. Consider chemistry: Salt is formed by two poisonous substances (sodium and chlorine). The alnico magnet, the world’s strongest, contains three nonmagnetic substances (aluminum, nickel and cobalt). And water consists of oxygen (which is flammable) and hydrogen (which burns easily); yet water puts out fires!
That pales in comparison to the wonder of salvation through Jesus. Every day, Olson writes, Jesus transforms filthy, hopeless sinners into new, forgiven creations. “On the skid rows of our cities, in wealthy and poor homes, in jungles … whenever any soul wants Christ, the wonder of the new birth is taking place.”
Our God is the true Wonder of wonders. “None can compare” (Psalm 40:5).
The key of the day
Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night. — George Herbert
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who served as pastor of London’s Westminster Chapel for almost 30 years, couldn’t speak at the end of his life. Days before dying, he wrote, “Do not pray for my healing. Do not hold me back from the glory.”
The Apostle Paul was torn between staying on earth and going to heaven: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. … I am hard pressed between the two” (Philippians 1:21, 23).
Neither of these men feared death; nor should any Christian. As Haddon Robinson said, “For those who trust Jesus Christ, death is not a sheriff dragging us off to court but a servant ushering us into the presence of a loving Lord.”
Pray without ceasing
“Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to the body. How a person can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a person can believe and not pray is past my comprehension, too.”
— J.C. Ryle
Belief about or belief in?
An aerialist, who specialized in riding a bicycle on a tightrope across waterfalls, set up his equipment across Niagara Falls. A great crowd gathered to watch him ride across the roaring waters. Not only did he complete the trip over, but he returned riding backwards! The crowd was in awe of his ability. He asked the crowd, “Do you believe I could do it again with a person sitting on my shoulders?”
“Yes,” they all shouted as one.
“Which one of you will ride with me then?” he asked.
No one spoke up. That’s the difference between believing about Jesus and believing in Jesus. When we believe in him, we trust our whole life to him.
• “The rich man is not one who is in possession of much, but one who gives much.”
— St. John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom was an early church father who lived in Constantinople in the fourth century A.D. He spoke plainly against all kinds of iniquity. Unfortunately, his preaching made immoral people uncomfortable, so he was exiled from the city.
When Chrysostom wrote letters to people who had befriended him, he ended every letter with the words, “Praise God for all things!”
Faithful souls truly do praise God for all things. After all, it is life’s hurtful, painful blows that compel us to seek his mercy and guidance. God’s love enables us to praise him for everything — no matter what.
• If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each person’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The greatest news
Death carries with it a certain dread. It has always been the enemy, the great, mysterious monster that makes people quake with fear. Death stalks the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated. Death is no respecter of race, color or creed. Its shadow haunts us day and night. We never know when the moment of death will come for us. Is there any hope? ….
The greatest news that mortal ear has ever heard is the news that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, as he had promised. … Because Christ lives, we also shall live. The greatest truth that you can ever hear is that Jesus Christ died but rose again, and that you, too, will die but can rise again into newness of life.