Oct 25, 2009
“You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban from Closer
Oct 25, 2009
“You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban from Closer
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Philippians 3:7
When Harold Russell’s hands were blown off in an accident, he sank into depression. One day Charley McGonegal, who had lost his own hands in war, told Russell, “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else.”
Russell rallied and went on to become an ambassador for the disabled. He won an Oscar for his role in the movie, The Best Years of Our Lives. He wrote, “My weakness… has turned out to be my greatest strength. I didn’t think so at the time it happened and I don’t think I’d ever willingly lose my hands, if I had it to do all over again. But having lost them I feel perhaps I have gained many fine things…. It is not what you have lost, but what you have left that counts.”1
When we look at past losses, it provides an opportunity to recalibrate for future service. The Lord can leverage our losses for ministry. Don’t give up. Your best years are now, and your best days are ahead.
For everything you have missed, you have gained something else. Ralph Waldo Emerson
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Our life is hopeless without God. Because every person is born with a bent away from God, we continue to choose wrong paths throughout our days on earth. These unrighteous choices are known as sin, the penalty for which is death and eternal separation from God. No one is exempt from this biblical truth—and none of us can do anything to change the situation.
Enter God’s grace, His unmerited favor toward us. We can do nothing to earn it. He blesses us according to His goodness, apart from anything we’ve done.
Consider the apostle Paul, whose original intention was to persecute anyone claiming to follow Jesus. He played a significant role in the unspeakable violence aimed at Christians and, in his own words, was the “chief” of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15 KJV). Nothing he did deserved God’s love.
Divine grace led the Almighty to reach down and forgive this hateful zealot and blasphemer of Jesus’ name. God lovingly transformed him into a man who dedicated himself to sharing the gospel message. Paul’s life beautifully illustrates grace.
We are unable to do enough good deeds to earn our way to heaven. Salvation is possible only because by grace, Christ died on the cross. The one who took the punishment for our sin deserves all credit for our redemption.
Jesus’ death covered the sins of the entire world. There is no transgression too great for Him to forgive. We can add nothing to His act of atonement; all we can do is receive this free gift. If we trust in Christ as Savior, God will save us, making us His children forever.
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)
Make no mistake—those who love evil hate righteousness. Petty selfishness is often invoked to justify a host of social evils, and the sin burden constantly overlays human behavior. But an evil heart produces evil deeds and drives an evil person to commit atrocities. “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:20).
Both the apostles James and Paul made the same observation. James noted that “wars and fightings” come from the “lusts that war in your members” (James 4:1). Paul bemoaned the conflict of “laws” that he sensed in his own body and called himself a “wretched man” because he couldn’t seem to shake the “law of sin” (Romans 7:18-24).
The beloved apostle John insisted that the twice-born should never love the world or “the things that are in the world” because “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).
Once a decision is made to reject the overwhelming evidence of the “eternal power and Godhead” that the Creator has displayed for all to see (Romans 1:20), and once the personal conviction of the Holy Spirit has been spurned (John 16:7-11), nothing remains but social pressure to do good. And when that wanes (as it surely will), the individual cycles every more rapidly into a godless lifestyle, falling away “from the faith . . . having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2). HMM III
But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are me day, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. —Isaiah 64:8
There is probably not another field of human activity where there is so much waste as in the field of religion….
In the average church we hear the same prayers repeated each Sunday year in and year out with, one would suspect, not the remotest expectation that they will be answered. It is enough, it seems, that they have been uttered. The familiar phrase, the religious tone, the emotionally loaded words have their superficial and temporary effect, but the worshiper is no nearer to God, no better morally and no surer of heaven than he was before. Yet every Sunday morning for twenty years he goes through the same routine and, allowing two hours for him to leave his house, sit through a church service and return to his house again, he has wasted more than 170 twelve-hour days with this exercise in futility….
I need only add that all this tragic waste is unnecessary. The believing Christian will relish every moment in church and will profit by it. The instructed, obedient Christian will yield to God as the clay to the potter, and the result will be not waste but glory everlasting.
I don’t ever want to waste another hour just going through the motions, Father. As I worship may I do so with an attitude of obedience, expectancy and yielding—as the clay before the potter. Amen.
O death, where is thy sting?… thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57)
The prophets and the psalmists of the Old Testament wrestled as we do with the problem of evil in a divine universe, but their approach to God and nature was much more direct than ours. They did not interpose between God and His world that opaque web we moderns call the “laws of nature.”
They could see God in a whirlwind and hear Him in a storm and they did not hesitate to say so! There was about their lives an immediate apprehension of the divine. Everything in heaven and on earth assured them that this is God’s world and that He rules over all.
I heard a Methodist bishop tell of being called to the bedside of an elderly dying woman in his early ministry. He said he was frightened; but the old saint was radiantly happy. When he tried to express the sorrow he felt about her illness, she would not hear it.
“Why, God bless you young man,” she said cheerfully, “there is nothing to be scared about. I am just going to cross over Jordan, where my Father owns the land on both sides of the river!” She understood about the unity of all things in God’s creation.
At this moment, dear reader, whatever thy sinfulness, Christ has power to pardon,—power to pardon thee, and millions such as thou art. A word will speak it. He has nothing more to do to win thy pardon; all the atoning work is done. He can, in answer to thy tears, forgive thy sins today, and make thee know it. He can breathe into thy soul at this very moment a peace with God which passeth all understanding, which shall spring from perfect remission of thy manifold iniquities. Dost thou believe that? I trust thou believest it. Mayst thou experience now the power of Jesus to forgive sin!