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Friday, October 17, 2008
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Today's message begins with a sport's illustration; skip down here if you prefer not to read it.
"The Greatest Comeback"
"But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him" (Acts 2:24).
I'm a baseball fan, particularly in the postseason. Having lived in New England for over seven years in the nineties our family became Red Sox fans, although their recent success in winning two world series came after we moved from that area. This year they are again in the American League championship series and last night was an elimination game for them against Tampa Bay as they were down three games to one.
I watched until the top of the 7th inning when Tampa Bay scored two more runs making it 7-0. A comeback from this deficit was extremely unlikely and the Tampa Bay team was on a roll, tasting the thrill of victory and ready for celebration. The Boston team was showing the agony of defeat, with despair on their faces. Watching anymore of this game seemed pointless so I went up to bed.
Imagine my surprise when I checked the score early this morning and Boston had come back to win the game 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth!
I know people feel strongly about their teams and we now live where most follow Philadelphia Phillies, who will be in the World Series. I don't know whether Boston will go any further this year as Tampa Bay has an outstanding team, but in the last several years Boston has demonstrated several remarkable comebacks, most famously being down three games to none in the 2004 American League Championship series before winning four games in a row to win the series.
These comebacks can be encouraging to sports fans everywhere and remind us that it really isn't over till it's over. But of course I see a spiritual application as well!
In our daily verse Peter is preaching to the curious crowd gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Fifty days earlier he was among the first witnesses to the greatest comeback in history. Apostolic preaching emphasized the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was and ever will be at the very heart of the Gospel. A faithful witness will always, "earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3).
Peter, who had infamously denied the Lord at His trial, now makes a great statement of faith concerning Christ. "God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death." Christ had experienced the agony of death and apparent absolute defeat. To His enemies a comeback now was an impossibility.
But Peter goes on to say, "It was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him." He surely recalled the teaching of Jesus he had heard time after time. Early in His ministry Jesus had said, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days" (John 2:19). After Peter had made his great confession of faith, Jesus clearly taught that He would "suffer many things, be killed, and be raised again the third day." Even his enemies were aware of the claim and had made provision for a guard at the tomb (Matthew 27:62-66).
But no paltry Roman guard was going to stop this Comeback! Death had forever lost its sting. Jesus Christ mounted the greatest comeback ever recorded in history; His resurrection from the dead. Today we indeed serve a risen Savior. Let us rejoice in this truth and live for the One who once died and now lives forever, for it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him! It is for this truth that we must earnestly and faithfully contend!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You defeated physical death when You resurrected our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of that wondrous miracle of miracles we no longer have to face death with cringing fear, but in confident hope of the eternal life we will inherit. Thank You for Jesus, our anchor and our hope, that holds us steady in the daily challenges of this life. Keep us longing for that which is yet to come and keep us faithful until that joyous hour. Amen.
As I prepared today's message I also considered great personal comebacks in the Bible:
I've witnessed a lot and just recently rejoiced in one as I visited with a friend I had not seen in several years. Many years ago I helped him through a marital crisis and things really looked hopeless at that time. Infidelity was destroying his marriage and trust was broken. But I saw restoration at that time and I asked him how he was doing now. He reported that the great marital healing has endured. His marriage made a great comeback!
I received word this morning that a local Christian speaker I knew through CBMC graduated to heaven yesterday. Charlie "Tremendous" Jones was a terrific motivational speaker and it's hard to forget his colorful and engaging message. When I heard him he was so high energy it made my style seem laid back. (Most would not describe me as a laidback speaker.) Here's a video just before he died with a powerful punch, victoriously telling the reporter that he "was tired and I've got to get out of here!" That's quite a perspective when facing death.
Actually Boston's comeback victory last night was the second greatest in postseason baseball history. The greatest postseason comeback goes all the way back to October 12, 1929 when the Philadelphia Athletics overcame an eight-run deficit to defeat the Chicago Cubs, 10-8, in Game 4 of the World Series.
The timing when these encouragements are delivered varies due to our schedule and how fast the preparation comes along. Today Brooksyne was out all morning and I wanted her to review the message and share in the podcast together as is our custom. As I waited for Brooksyne I took a favorite walk between the corn rows across from our home. Within an hour the harvester came and began to harvest the field!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to play)
"Resurrection" Video Video with words This song has a powerful comeback theme and speaks of the need for a personal spiritual resurrection. By Nicol Sponberg, originally with Selah. A wonderful song and an earnest voice. The Sponberg's recently lost their infant son and are themselves dealing with the mysteries of God's providence. See here.
"My Savior Lives" Audio
"Be Still My Soul" Video Here's another song by Nicol Sponberg based on a theme I had been working on until I changed to today's "Comeback" theme. I especially like the way it transitions to another hymn I love and it brings tears to my eyes. It's great to serve Christ!
Doris High has posted some beautiful autumn photos from our area on her blog.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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