Posts Tagged ‘Gospel’

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QUOTE (Frederick Buechner)

April 21, 2020

“But to preach the Gospel is not just to tell the truth but to tell the truth in love,and to tell the truth in love means to tell it with concern not only for the truth that is being told but with concern also for the people it is being told to.”

 ~ Frederick Buechner, “Telling the Truth”

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QUOTE (James Beattie) – August 18

August 18, 2014

 

“There is not a book on earth so favourable to all the kind, and to all the sublime, affections, or so unfriendly to hatred and persecution, to tyranny, injustice, and every sort of malevolence, as the GOSPEL. It breathes nothing throughout but mercy, benevolence, and peace…. Such of the doctrines of the gospel as are level to human capacity appear to be agreeable to the purest truth and soundest morality. All the genius and learning of the heathen world, all the penetration of Pythagoras, Socrates, and Aristotle, had never been able to produce such a system of moral duty, and so rational an account of Providence and of man, as is to be found in the New Testament.”

 
~ James Beattie

In honor of James Beattie, a Scottish poet and philosopher, who died on this day in 1803.

Resources:
This Day in History for 18th August
James Beattie Quotes

 

 

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QUOTE (John Newton) – July 24

July 24, 2014

John Newton, slave trader, abolitionist, minis...

“The glorious Gospel of the blessed God, with respect to its dignity, depth, and importance, may seem a fitter theme for the tongue of an angel than of a man; but angels never sinned; and though they might proclaim its excellency, they could not, from experience, speak of its efficacy. In this respect sinful worms are better qualified to preach to others, concerning him by whom they have, themselves, been healed and saved. Their weakness, likewise, is better suited to show that the influence and success of the Gospel is wholly owing to the power of God. It has, therefore, pleased God to ‘put this treasure into earthen vessels,’ [2 Corinthians 4:7] and to commit the ministry of his word, not to angels, but to men.”
~ John Newton

In honor of John Newton, former slave ship captain, Pastor, and author of “Amazing Grace”, who was born on this day in 1725.

Resources:
July 24 – Today in Christian History
John Newton Quotes

 

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QUOTE (John Berridge) – May 14

May 14, 2014

English: Cover portrait of Rev. John Berridge ...

“Run, John, and work, the law commands,
yet finds me neither feet nor hands,
But sweeter news the gospel brings,
it bids me fly and lends me wings!
~ John Berridge

In honor of John Berridge, Anglican evangelical revivalist and hymnist,who preached his first outdoor sermon on this day in 1759.

Resources:
Today in Christian History
John Berridge

 

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RADIOACTIVE HOLINESS – Mar. 7

March 7, 2014

“Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are – the Holy One of God.” Luke 4:34

I know  there are many who live by the K.I.S.S. principle – Keep It Simple Stupid.  It is a good principle, in so far as it is possible.  However, we can delude ourselves in simplicity as avoidance to the difficulties of the complex.  We live in a complex world that has layers of intricacies that are scarcely understood.

digitalbob8 / Foter / CC BY

I sit here reading my Bible and writing my thoughts from those scriptures.  I can tell you that I just read my Bible and I thought about it.  However, I don’t know how my brain did that.  I don’t know how my eyes absorbed light, how my optical nerves transformed those electrons into electrical impulses, how those impulses made it to the correct segments of my brain, how my brain recognizes electrical impulses as letters, words, paragraphs, language, ideas…I really don’t know how my brain then thinks about those translated impulses in abstract ways.

The complexity of simply reading and thinking is amazing.  I think we have a tendency to over-simplify the familiar.  We look past all that is normal and fail to gaze deeply upon all that is so very amazing in our everyday lives.

I have a tendency to over-simply the holiness of God. 

God the Father 11

God the Father 11 (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)

Holiness is a term we Christians throw around with a casual familiarity that belies the complexity of its reality.  We are told to be holy, because God is holy (1 Peter 1:16).  In my simple mind, I tend to think of holiness in terms of following Christ in obedience.  The fruit of the Spirit that results from setting my mind on the things of the Spirit and living according to the Spirit is how I can be holy because God is holy.

I believe that is a tremendous over-simplification of holiness. 

The holiness of God is terrifyingly dangerous.   It probably is the single most destructive element to the flesh of man in the entire universe.  Consider the precautions  the Nation of Israel had to take, to be in the proximity of holiness without dying.

A specially designated and clothed person had to go into the tabernacle to cover all that the holiness of God was upon.  This priest covered the items with blue cloth and goat skin so that the selected clan of the Levites could carry the items without dying.

Nadab and Abihu, two of these specially designated and clothed priests, offered unauthorized fire before the Lord and were immediately consumed by fire.

Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God when the oxen stumbled and he was immediately struck down by God for taking hold of an item that was holy to God.

The priest of the Temple would go into the holy of holiness with a rope tied to his ankle just in case he was struck dead in the presence of God’s holiness, his body could be drug out.

thejaymo / Foter / CC BY-NC

That is what happens when raw and revealed holiness is exposed to a fallen mankind.  Being in the presence of God’s holiness, simply touching His holiness is like being exposed to the core of a nuclear reactor.  Handling the core material of a reactor is complex.  Special clothing and precautions are necessary because human cells cannot withstand the high energy of that sort of radiation.

The holiness of God is so much more radioactive and destructive to fallen human flesh.  The demon Jesus confronted, understood this reality.  The Holy One of God stood before him.  His question was “have you come to destroy us”.  It is a reasonable question because that is what happens when holiness comes into contact with unholiness.  Holiness destroys unholiness.

It is a terrifying thing for the unholy to fall into the hands of the living and holy God Almighty.

The fact that this demon was not immediately consumed by the fire of God by being in the presence of the Holy One of God, reveals a complexity beyond the description.

The fact that the Holy One of God could walk this world in human form, interacting with sinful man, reveals an intricacy that escapes understanding.

The fact that the Holy Spirit can be within those who are His, while we still do unholy acts defies a simple explanation.

The fact that redeemed souls will spend eternity in the presence of the holy Lord God Almighty is unfathomable when we appreciate God’s holiness.

The holiness of God is amazing.  It is not something that God turns on or off.  It is who He is – holy is His name (Luke 1:49).  We should not allow our familiarity with Christ to over-simplify His holiness.  Our familiarity with our precious Lord and Savior should result in more awe, honor, and reverence because we know how unholy we are.  We know that Christ has made a way for us to exist within a fallen sinner’s most destructive environment.  We can live as loved children of our holy Father without dying because He sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.  (Romans 8:3)

Schub@ / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

God did the complex,
transforming the unholy into holy,
through His amazing mercy,
He gave life rather than destruction.
That should astound us!

May we join the host of Heaven in our praise of God for what He has done –
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory”.
(Isaiah 6:3)

PRAYER: Father, thank you fo protecting me from your righteousness and holiness.  Thank you for sending your own Son to condemn the unholy sin in my flesh so that your righteousness might reign in me.  Forgive me for taking your holiness for granted.  Forgive me for over-simplifying all that you have done for me.  Forgive my lack of awe and honor of how truly spectacular you are and what you have done.  Lord, I praise your holy name.  You truly are worthy of all praise and honor.  The whole earth is full of you glory.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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“WORSE THAN A SCAB-PICKER” – Mar. 2

March 2, 2014

“For no one who has a blemish, shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.”  Leviticus 21:18-20

caribb / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

My last business trip involved an airplane ride to Sacramento, California.  I was acutely aware of all the engineering involved in the optimizing of economy class passenger seating.  I am not a particularly tall person but I am at the limit of the “design passenger” used to arrange seats on airliners.  My knees just fit within the space allotted.  However, I often feel as if my fellow traveling companion in front of me is in my lap when he reclines his seat.

caribb / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

This was particularly awkward on my last flight.  The passenger ahead of me was a business man judging from his attire.  He had a nice business suit and leather briefcase.  He was attentively groomed with hair cut close enough to reveal his scalp.

His scalp became of particular interest to me about half way through our flight.  I became aware of a habitual hand motion to the back of his head.  Through the flight, he continued to reach to the back of his head with a scratch, pick, pinch and rub ritual.  Due to his short haircut, I could easily observe the source of his discomfort.

He had two massive zits at the base of his neck, just inside the hairline.  It was apparent that these twin mountains of acne had been bothering this polished business man for sometime since they both had thick scabs.  However, my traveling mate had no intention of allowing his sores to heal properly.

I squirmed in the limited confines of my seat each time I watched his hand reach back.  A couple picks around the edges and then would come the pinch and my real concerns.  With each pinch, I cursed the airplane designers for placing me in the splash zone of this man’s clogged pores.  Obviously, the scenario that I was experiencing was not accounted for in their calculation because if either of those inflamed cannons burst, my flight was going to get really bad.

Airplane seating

Fortunately, the flight mercifully ended without fluids erupting into the air or onto me.  The scab-picker stood from his seat and straightened his suit while he retrieved his briefcase from the overhead compartment.  He gave a pleasant glance in my direction, completely oblivious to the duress he had caused me.

He had no idea how gross he was.

I completely understand God’s prohibition of scab-pickers from the priesthood.

For no one who has a blemish, shall draw near, a man blind or lame, … or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.  (Leviticus 21:18-20)

I don’t know anything about the man who sat in front of me but I did find the blemishes on the back of his head and his chosen remedy very unclean.  I can understand why God would not want him to approach His altar.

However, I realized that I was equally disqualified by the very same passage.  Thankfully, my testicles are fine but my sight is not so good.  I have the blemish of nearsightedness.  While I might be able to argue that my blemish is not as bad as scab-picker’s blemish, I have to concede that at least his blemish will heal if he were to leave it alone. My eyesight is only going to get worse with age.  Therefore, I am forever disqualified from coming before God in my physical condition.

That is a rather shocking revelation.  God does not accept blemished people and it does not matter whether they were born with the blemish or if it was their own fault.  We live in a blemished world so I think it is difficult to understand God’s insistence upon perfection.  I don’t think any of us understand how blemished we really are in comparison to God.  Scab-picker did not know how blemished he was.  I had never really thought of nearsightedness as a disqualifying blemish.  Yet, the standards of God’s law are so exacting that no one is qualified to stand before the altar of God on their own merit.

Herein lays the good news of the Gospel.  Christ came to fulfill the standard for us.  He is the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 2:2)  Christ is the sacrifice to God that takes away the enmity of our blemishes (sins) that stand between us and God.

We should never deny our blemishes because the glory of the Gospel comes from the reality that in Christ we are new creations, pure and blameless.

…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  Do all things without grumbling and questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…  (Philippians 2:13-15)

It is in Christ and Christ alone where we will be without blemishes.  It is only when we are blemish- free that we can enter our rest in the presence of the Lord.

Therefore, I don’t want to feel good about my blemishes.
I don’t want to be convinced that my blemishes can be overcome by thinking positively.
I refuse to live like my blemishes are irrelevant to God’s love.

My blemishes remind me of my need for a Savior.  My blemishes draw me close to my Lord, Jesus Christ because without him I am without hope.  I leave my blemishes at His feet, emerge, cleansed in His blood, and live in the joy and hope of a new life founded in Christ and Christ alone.

To God alone be all glory.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for making me pure and blameless.  Thank you for cleansing me of all my blemishes.  Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ to be my propitiation.  Thank you for making a way for me to come before your altar.  I praise and glorify your name for all that you have done for me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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QUOTE (Mahalia Jackson) – Jan 27

January 27, 2014

Mahalia Jackson, 16 April. 1962

“Faith and prayer are the vitamins of the soul; man cannot live in health without them.”
~ Mahalia Jackson

In honor of Mahalia Jackson, known as the “Queen of Gospel”, who died on this day in 1972.

Resources:
Today in History – January 27
Mahalia Jackson – Biography
Quotes and Poems.com

Related Videos
Mahalia Jackson – O Holy Night
Mahalia Jackson – Move On Up a Little Higher
Mahalia Jackson – Precious Lord Take My Hand
Mahalia Jackson – His Eye is on the Sparrow

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