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Friday, October 29, 2010

Jesus: The Greatest Life of All

One of my favorite authors, Chuck Swindoll hits another homerun with his book, Jesus: The Greatest Life of All. I know you will enjoy reading the quotes below:

Jesus didn’t come to earth to establish a new religion. He came to restore a broken relationship. He came to make the primary, primary again. The secondary activity of obedience to the law of God was always intended to serve the primary activity: to love God and enjoy Him forever. When that is primary, the secondary becomes a labor of love, a joyful; “easy” burden to bear. This is what Jesus meant when He said,
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew11: 28-30. p. 84
He is all-powerful, He is also utterly sovereign, God has the right to do whatever He chooses, for whomever He chooses, and whenever He chooses to do it. He answers to no one. p. 130
The best prayers often come after we have exhausted our pleas for deliverance. p. 135
Express your sincere desire for the complete restoration of the suffering. Pray that he or she will experience less pain and will avoid the debilitating effects of fear. Pray that the illness will yield surprising, unexpected benefits. But submit your requests to the sovereign care of God in complete confidence that He is impeccably good and unfailingly right. As Jesus Himself prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42) p. 137
The will of God is paramount; respect it. p. 138
Even as we pray, we must remember that God is right in all His ways, including our afflictions. p. 138
Intercessory prayer is God’s commandment; obey it. p. 138
Jesus, the healer, did not come to prolong our earthly existence or even to make it more pleasant--at least not pleasant in the selfish, pampered way we would prefer. He came to give us healing from the disease that threatens eternal life, and to give us joy, which surpasses mere happiness by eons and light years. pp. 140-141
“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away.” Many versions of the Bible translate a key Greek term in this verse as “takes away,” “removes,” or even “cuts off,” but its primary definition is “to lift from the ground.” The word can and often does mean “to lift with a view to carrying, to carry off or put away.” In keeping with the metaphor, Jesus most likely referred to the vinedresser’s practice of lifting a sagging branch and tying it to the trellis—a procedure called “training.” The vinedresser also carefully prunes the branches to encourage healthy growth. pp. 148-149
Note that Jesus never commanded believers to produce fruit. Fruit is the purpose of the branch, but it is not the responsibility of the branch. The branch cannot produce anything on its own. However, if it remains attached to the vine, it will receive life-sustaining sap, nourishment, strength, everything it needs. If it remains connected to the vine, it will inevitably hang heavy with grapes. p. 149-150
The focus of a Christian’s activity is not to work hard enough to make fruit, but to keep his connection to Jesus Christ clean and strong One way to do that is to absorb the teaching of God’s Word, the sixty-six books of the Bible. Read God’s Word…think about it, apply it, talk about it with others, ask questions, commit sections of it to memory. Strength and productivity come from staying connected. p. 150
Knowing your mission will help you stay focused on the goal. Jesus clearly understood the reason for His coming to earth and never allowed popularity, success, opposition, threats, or even dissention within His ranks to distract Him. p. 169
Encountering evil requires confrontation. Few people enjoy confrontation, but standing for the truth against evil will inevitably require it. And sometimes what must be said will be difficult to say as well as difficult for others to hear. p. 169
Boldness in the course of a noble fight is worth the risk. Standing for truth requires boldness. Some will be offended by it, so expect to be criticized for style when the opposition can find no fault with content. Furthermore, boldness may require strong action to accompany strong speech. You may have to quit a job, end a relationship, confront a powerful opponent, cope with a fear, deal with threats, perhaps even face certain defeat. Don’t back down. If you stand on truth, you’ll only regret your timidity later, but you’ll never regret being bold. p. 169
Truth telling offers no guarantee of victory. We live in a world that does not operate according to God’s rules. The present world system punishes good deeds and rewards those who choose evil. In the words of James Russell Lowell, “Truth forever on the scaffold; wrong forever on the throne.” pp. 169-170
Association with godliness is no guarantee that we will become godly. Joining a healthy church and cultivating relationships with spiritually mature people should be a priority. We need healthy influences. However, associating with mature believers will not nourish the soul any more than merely sitting at a table in a restaurant will nourish the body. To grow wise and to develop spiritually, we must personally take in what Jesus has offered. For that to occur, we must submit to the truth we receive through His Word. Otherwise, we deceive ourselves and become our own worst enemy. p. 184
Moral corruption in secret is deadlier than visible moral corruption. There is no cancer deadlier than one that goes undetected. The same is true of sin. Keeping our sinful nature carefully concealed keeps us from applying the remedy Jesus provided through the gift of salvation. One of His disciples later wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Failure to confess and receive forgiveness forces us to cope with the deadly effects of sin in ways that are sure to cause more damage later. In the case of Judas, it consumed him. p. 185
Satan and his demons are looking for any opportunity to work against the Lord. Several passages of Scripture teach that the person who bears unresolved sin is an ideal vessel by which the Devil can attack the people and plans of God. p. 185
No sorrow can compare to the remorse of one who discovers too late that he’s misunderstood Jesus and spurned His love. Satan’s primary tool is deception, which he uses to twist unresolved sin and selfish motivation to serve his purposes. And once he’s finished using someone, he cruelly unmasks the truth to reveal the consequences of his or her foolish choices. p. 185
Jesus recognized a basic fact of life: words are wasted on people who have no desire for truth. p. 208
He tilted His head back, pulled up one last time to draw a deep breath and cried, “Tetelestai!” It was a Greek expression most everyone present would have understood. It was a accounting term. Archeologists have found papyrus tax receipts with “Tetelestai” written across them, meaning “paid in full.” With Jesus’ last breath on the cross, He declared the debt of sin canceled, completely satisfied. Nothing else required. Not good deeds. Not generous donations. Not penance or confession or baptism or…or…or…nothing. The penalty for sin is death, and we were all born hopelessly in debt. He paid our debt in full by giving His life so that we might live forever. p. 224
Jesus looked for very different qualities in the men He chose to carry out His vision. He chose men with little formal education, though most would have learned to read and write in the synagogue. He chose men with obvious flaws, though none except Judas Iscariot was steadfastly dedicated to evil like the corrupt religious leaders. He chose men whose wills could not be easily bent, but could be or would be divinely compelled to follow. The eleven disciples were extraordinary people, yet for no other reason than their passionate pursuit of Christ and His calling. pp. 270-271
He would prepare His followers in two mountaintop meetings. At the first meeting in Galilee, Jesus gave them the plan (Matthew 28:16-20); at the second in Judea, He gave them His power (Acts 1:3-11). p. 274
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