Great Comeback!

Tiger Woods celebrates

On Sunday, April 14, 2019, many people watched one of the greatest comebacks in sports history when Tiger Woods won the Masters golf tournament. His victory ended a long personal dry spell. Woods, once acknowledged as the best golfer in the world, had gone 11 years without winning a major tournament. During that time he endured four surgeries to rebuild his left knee. His injured back required four surgeries, the last one out of desperation because he could barely walk, much less play golf. Add to this the well-documented personal struggles in his life. Tiger had to overcome a lot of adversity to make such a comeback. Yet come back is exactly what he did, to the amazement of many.

There is another great comeback story that draws people’s attention this time of year. It is the fact that Jesus came back from the dead. After he was crucified to pay for the sins of the world, he did not stay in the tomb in which they laid him. God raised him from the dead, thus putting his stamp of approval on Jesus, his beloved Son, the risen Savior of the world.

Conquering death! Now that is quite a comeback!

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.”—Romans 6:8-9

 

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The Way the Story Really Ends

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, a great man, nevertheless could not accept the miraculous elements in Scripture. He edited his own special version of the Bible in which all references to the supernatural were deleted. Jefferson, in editing the Gospels, confined himself solely to the moral teachings of Jesus. The closing words of Jefferson’s Bible are these: “There laid they Jesus and rolled a great stone at the mouth of the sepulcher and departed.”

Thank God that is not the way the story really ends!

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”—1 Corinthians 15:19

 

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Beyond the Cross

Every year thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the “stations of the cross” to stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought through the rough thicket and, to his surprise, came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolized the empty tomb. It was neglected. The brush had grown up around it. Almost everyone had gone as far as the cross, but they stopped there.

Far too many have gotten to the cross and have known the despair and the heartbreak. Far too few have moved beyond the cross to find the real message of Easter. That is the message of the empty tomb.

“He is not here; he has risen! …”—Luke 24:6

 

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Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

A woman who had been living a very high-pressured life moved with her family from the city to the country. The family had resolved to reduce the stresses and tensions that they had been under by embracing a more easy-going lifestyle.

A neighbor came over to visit the mother one day and noticed something that had been pinned on the family bulletin board. She asked about it and the mother said, “Oh, that’s a poem that represents what our moving here was all about. The poem starts out, ‘Lord, slow me down…’ But I haven’t had time to read the rest of it.”

I suppose we all struggle at times with being too busy. We should take seriously the need to slow down a bit.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”—Mark 1:35

 

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Now I Understand

A business offered a new pension plan that called for a small employee contribution. The company would pay the rest. Everybody but Sam had signed up for the plan. Unfortunately, 100 percent employee participation was needed. Otherwise the plan would not be adopted.

Sam’s boss and his fellow workers pleaded with him, but to no avail. Sam said the plan would never pay off.

Finally the company president called Sam into his office. “Sam,” he said, “here’s a copy of the new pension plan and here’s a pen. I want you to sign the papers, and if you don’t you are fired immediately.

Sam took the pen and signed the papers.

“Now,” said the president, “would you mind telling me why you couldn’t have signed earlier?”

“Well, sir,” Sam replied, “nobody explained it to me quite so clearly before.”

Let’s make sure we explain the Word of God clearly.

“They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.”—Nehemiah 8:8

 

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Communication after Many Years

A golden anniversary party was thrown for an elderly couple. The husband was moved by the occasion and wanted to tell his wife just how he felt about her. She was very hard of hearing, however, and often misunderstood what he said. With many family members and friends gathered around, he toasted her: “My dear wife, after fifty years I’ve found you tried and true!”

Everyone smiled their approval, but his wife asked, “What did you say?”

He repeated louder, “AFTER FIFTY YEARS I’VE FOUND YOU TRIED AND TRUE!”

His wife shot back, “Well, let me tell you something—after fifty years I’m tired of you, too!”

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”—Ephesians 5:25

 

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Prone to Wander

A preacher friend of mine tells a story about a boy who made a decision to follow Jesus at church camp. The young fellow was baptized into Christ in the afternoon. At the campfire worship service later that evening, the same young man came forward at decision time and announced that he needed to rededicate his life to Jesus!

My friend isn’t sure what happened in those few hours to make a rededication necessary, but like it says in the old hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, we are “prone to wander”.

Let’s try to do our best to stay on the straight and narrow way.

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”—1 Corinthians 11:1

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In All Things

Nobody likes kidney stones, right? It would be far better if you never had them, don’t you agree?

A friend of mine might differ with you on that matter. He had some acute pain, so he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with kidney stones. His case was so severe that he had to have surgery. In the course of the surgery, it was discovered that my friend also had bladder cancer. Had he not had the kidney stones, the cancer would not have been discovered until much later, perhaps too late to save his life.

My friend was glad that he had kidney stones!

God often makes something good happen from a bad situation. We see it happen time after time. It just goes to show that Romans 8:28 is true—“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

 

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Offering Hope

Years ago a submarine was accidently rammed by a ship off the coast of Massachusetts. It sank immediately, trapping its entire crew at the bottom of the ocean.

Every effort was made to rescue the crew, but all attempts ended in failure. Near the end of the ordeal, a deep-sea diver thought he heard tapping on the wall of the sunken sub. Placing his helmet against the hull, he realized that someone was tapping out a message in Morse code. The message? “Is…there…any…hope?”

Those without Jesus find themselves trapped under an ocean of sin. They are wondering if there is any hope for them. The message of Christians everywhere should be—“Yes! There is hope! The crucified and resurrected Jesus gives hope to all who trust in him! This hope is not just for this life, but for all of eternity!”

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”—Romans 5:1-2

 

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Complete Trust

“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.”—Luke 23:46

These words that Jesus spoke from the cross fulfilled a prophecy from Psalm 31:5—“Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.”

To make such a statement at the time of one’s death is a beautiful expression of complete trust. Jesus was putting his life completely in the hands of his heavenly Father.

This is the kind of faith we all need to strive for. Such a complete faith defines the life of a believer, and it understands that death is merely a welcome reunion with our heavenly Father.

 

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