Odds & Ends: April 2017
“The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single greatest event in the history of the world. It is so foundational to Christianity that no one who denies it can be a true Christian. Without resurrection there is no Christian faith, no salvation, and no hope. ‘If there is no resurrection of the dead,’ Paul explains, ‘not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain’ (1 Cor 15:13-14). A person who believes in a Christ who was not raised believes in a powerless Christ, a dead Christ. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then no redemption was accomplished at the cross and ‘your faith is worthless,’ Paul goes on to say; ‘you are still in your sins’ (v. 17).”
Expanding our view of service
We often think of serving in terms of Matthew 25: supplying food and clothing; caring for the sick, incarcerated and other “least of these” members of society — serving Jesus in the process. But we also can serve him with our unique talents and by doing things we love.
For example, Ged King, a barber in England, devotes some of his time off to giving homeless people free haircuts. Imagine Jesus saying, “For my hair was long and scraggly, and you cut it” — or “My heart was lonely, and you played music to lift my spirits. I could no longer read small print, and you read to me. I have to work two jobs, and you invited my child to spend afternoons crafting with you. My car broke down, and you repaired it.” Then the King will say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father … whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:34, 40, NIV; emphasis added).
If the cross is the place where the worst thing that could happen happened, it is also the place where the best thing that could happen happened. Ultimate hatred and ultimate love met on those two crosspieces of wood. Suffering and love were brought into harmony.
To be “saved” requires a severance from the former life as clean and sharp as though made by a knife. There must be a wall of separation between the old life and the new, a radical break. That means death — death to the old life, in order for the new to begin. This wall of separation, this barrier, is the cross.
—Elisabeth Elliot, A Path Through Suffering
Suffer no fools
Sometimes-controversial preacher Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) once received a letter containing two words: “April Fool.” Immediately, Beecher wrote to a New York newspaper, describing the missive. “I have received many a letter where a man forgot to sign his name,” he wrote. “This is the first time I ever knew of a writer signing his name and forgetting to write a letter.”
Trusting the unseen
A gardener planted two peony bulbs side by side. In a few weeks, as expected, the first one poked a single stem through the ground. The other would soon follow, the gardener thought. But it didn’t. Many more weeks went by with no sign of life.
Then one day, to his surprise, not one but five leaf points poked through the soil at once. When the peony bloomed, its flowers were more beautiful and numerous than those of the first bulb.
John Piper said, “In every situation God is doing a thousand things that we cannot see and do not know.” When God seems to have forgotten you and hope fails, don’t despair. God is at work, and someday you will see.
“When you talk, choose the very same words that you would use if Jesus were looking over your shoulder. Because he is.”
—Marie T. Freeman
- Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength... It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.
- If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him, for you are worse than he thinks you to be.
- A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.
- When a man is saved by divine grace, he is not wholly cleansed from the corruption of his heart. When we believe in Jesus Christ all our sins are pardoned; yet the power of sin, albeit that it is weakened and kept under by the dominion of the new-born nature which God doth infuse into our souls, doth not cease, but still tarrieth in us, and will do so to our dying day.
- It's a good thing God chose me before I was born, because he surely would not have afterwards.
- God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart. When you are so weak that you cannot do much more than cry, you coin diamonds with both your eyes. The sweetest prayers God ever hears are the groans and sighs of those who have no hope in anything but his love.