JESUS CHRIST: THE EPITOME OF…

A Peacemaker

What do The National Dialogue Quartet, Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the European Union, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman, Lui Xiaobo, and Barack Obama all have in common?

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You would probably say that Barack Obama is the only name that you definitely know. And before my research for this message, I would almost have to agree with you.

Empty Promises of Peace

What the above list of people have in common is something that is likely very familiar to all of us. You see they, the first-named being the most recent, are the Nobel Peace Prize winners of the past seven years.

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JESUS CHRIST: THE EPITOME OF…

Pure Heart Perception

In Matthew 18:3, Jesus promised us that unless we turn from our sins and become as little children, we will never get into the kingdom of heaven. In John 3:3-5 we see Jesus speaking to Nicodemus, telling him that without being born-again, not only will we be unable to enter the kingdom, but (verse 3), we won’t even be able to see the kingdom.

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This is why we look to the heart of an innocent child to remind ourselves of the child-like faith Christ requires of us in order to truly perceive and possess the things of God. A child’s heart is pure in the sense that it can still believe the unbelievable, imagine the impossible, and thereby be determined to do the undoable.

Give them something or someone great to believe in, and they will be all-in! This is the perception of a pure heart–a heart which yet has no reason to doubt. Doubting God has been the fatal flaw that has, from Adam’s first sin, kept us in the dark hindering our ability to see God.

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JESUS CHRIST: THE EPITOME OF…

Mercy Most Given And Least Received

Have you ever felt like your back was against the wall with someone who refused to forgive you or show you mercy? No matter how much you do to try to either win their approval or show them that you are sorry, they continue to be as cold and harsh towards you as ever. When it comes to you, they simply have no mercy. So it seems that you have only one of two options. You can either fight back and become as bitter as they are. Or you can helplessly stay there and mentally or emotionally die under the weight of their condemnation.

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Well, my friend, take heart! There is a third option. You can do what Jesus did. He was also up against it with His detractors. Yet He never fought back. He interceded for them to His Father, and then even went on ahead and died for them.

Thankfully, Jesus paid the penalty of death for all of our sins, so we do not have to die like Him. But when we so die to ourselves for Christ’s sake through continually praying for and remaining ready to love and show mercy to our un-forgivers, we are living by the resurrection power of Christ that enables us to press on with zero condemnation. It is one of the awesome benefits of the fact that whoever the Son sets free is truly free! Yes my friend, mercy works both ways. And neither one of us–the offender nor the offended–truly deserves it.

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REMEMBERING THE WAY WE WALK

One Key Thing To Never Forget About Peter's Brief Water-Walk

Peter’s short-lived water-walk in Matthew chapter fourteen is a very familiar passage of scripture to most Christians. We know that the storm caused Peter to become afraid and start to sink. But by a casual reading of the story we can easily miss another very significant principle that we must apply to our own lives of faith.

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When Jesus came walking on the water in the midst of a raging storm, not only was He proving that He was God, He was also showing His disciples and us how to really walk. For Jesus Christ, the Creator, the water itself was purely incidental, yet, it became a bit more significant when the Lord also allowed Peter to walk on it.

At that point in his life, Peter had no formal theological education, however, as a fisherman by trade, he knew full-well that people don’t just walk on the surface of water. This is why we can be sure that in that instance, Peter received the sort of inspiration that could have only originated with God; as the Bible says, the Spirit gives to each of us a measure of faith.

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JESUS CHRIST: THE EPITOME OF…

A Heavenly Over An Earthly Appetite

A couple of times per year, while visiting my home state of New Jersey, I look forward to enjoying White Castle hamburgers. Of course I know that they might not be the most healthy food choice, but for me its all about nostalgia and taste. I practically grew up at a White Castle restaurant while working for my uncle who had a retail clothing business in the area.

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So, those crazy little square sliders packed with their own peculiarly delicious flavor have sort of become a semi-annual staple for my family and me. And while today, I am not much of a soda drinker, I have to say that there also was something deliciously different about the sweetness and taste of White Castle’s Coca Cola. My mouth waters for that combination even as I fondly reminisce over the last time I enjoyed it—so let’s move on!

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JESUS CHRIST: THE EPITOME OF…

Meekness In A World Of Weakness

Maybe you’ve heard of him; maybe not. But Stephen R. Stafford of Georgia started triple-majoring in pre-med, computer science, and mathematics at Morehouse College at the ripe old age of 11! He is expected to graduate from medical school by the age of 22!

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Stafford, who started out as a homeschooler who’s acumen continually outpaced his mother’s ability to challenge him with increasingly advanced subjects, was also voted one of the world’s 50 smartest teenagers.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much God is able to put into these fantastic yet flawed human minds of ours. Yes, despite the original sin of Adam and humanity’s resulting wickedness to this very day, God still shows us glimpses of His great glory through the genius of people like Stephen Stafford. None of us can know exactly what he will become in life. But one thing’s for sure, we can see that wrapped up in the body of an unassuming teenager is the potential to even become a leader of the free world.

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JESUS CHRIST: THE EPITOME OF…

Mourning A Messed Up World

In his book, Ministering To The Mourning: A Practical Guide for Pastors, Warren Wiersbe wrote, “like guards in a death camp, people can see and hear so much that is horrible and inhuman that they get used to it, to the point where they’re able to tell jokes as they stack up the corpses.” I fear that this is where even many of us as Christians find ourselves.

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Wiersbe further quotes poet Robert Burns who wrote, “Man’s inhumanity to man / Makes countless thousands mourn,” to which Wiersbe adds, “but it also makes countless millions lose the ability to mourn.” And how increasingly evident this truth is becoming in our world today as death and destruction make up the vast majority of our news and entertainment.

Death should cause us grief, but we must remember that it remains merely a symptom of the ultimate sickness called sin, which infects us all.

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