"Only God is Great"
“Only God is Great”
Compiled by Paul R. Blake
“Only God is great.” That was the solemn and unexpected declaration of Jean-Baptiste Massillon as he began his sermon at the funeral service of King Louis XIV. The king, who liked to be referred to as Louis the Great, had ruled France from 1643 to 1715 with absolute power and incredible splendor. His funeral was held in a magnificent cathedral that was lit by a single candle alongside the elaborately ornate coffin. When it was time for Massillon to speak, he reached out and extinguished the flame. Then he broke the silence with the words, “Only God is great.”
We recognize and admire some of our fellow humans who are considered to be great thinkers, great scientists, great inventors, or great achievers in every field of public or private endeavor. In many ways they excel beyond most people, but they still have the same needs as everyone else. They experience aches and pains. They have troubled minds, hungry hearts, weak moments, and flashes of temper. They cannot avoid illness, stave off death, nor guarantee life beyond the grave.
Only God is truly great -- great enough to meet all our needs, great enough to forgive all our sins, and great enough to carry us through the dark valley of death into eternity, to be with Him forever. So declares the psalmist: “Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord; Nor are there any works like Your works. All nations whom You have made Shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And shall glorify Your name. For You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God. Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forevermore. For great is Your mercy toward me, And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.” (Psalm 86:8-13).
Minding Your Own Business
By Kent Heaton
After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus spent forty days with the disciples exhorting, encouraging and admonishing them about the kingdom of God. It was a flurry of activity as the Lord prepared to return to the Father, leaving in the hands of twelve men to carry the gospel to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles. One of the missions of Jesus was to spend time with the man who denied his Lord three times that he knew Him or had any association with the man from Nazareth. Peter had gone out and wept bitterly after his denial. There is little doubt that when he realized Jesus was dead the incredible guilt that swept over him as he had failed his Lord in His most pressing time overshadowed his heart with grief. After the resurrection, was there an awkward moment with Peter, as he rejoiced to see his Lord and then realizing what he had done to Jesus, caused some consternation and concern? When Jesus appeared to the eleven the third time, they shared breakfast together by the sea of Tiberias (or Galilee). After breakfast, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. The apostle responded each time with the affirmation of his love for Jesus. In response Jesus tells Peter three things: first, He exhorts Simon to feed His lambs or tend His sheep (speaking in a spiritual sense). Secondly, Jesus tells Peter how the apostle would die. There will come a time when he will be bound and taken where he did not want to go. Finally, Jesus tells Peter to follow Him.
Peter could not have fully comprehended the meaning of Jesus’ words and how his life would change so dramatically in just a few weeks at Pentecost. In his own impetuous manner, Simon Peter upon hearing the words of Jesus looks over at the apostle John and inquires from the Lord what would happen to him. What Peter missed was the impact of the Lord’s statement about his own life and he ignores the impact of how he would die and wants to know what will happen to John. Jesus rebukes Peter and tells him that if it was the will of the Father for John to never die that is God’s business but Simon Peter needs to mind his own business about his own affairs. The Lord was trying to restore the confidence of the man who denied his Lord three times and Peter could not help but open his mouth at the wrong time about things that were of no consequence to him. What Peter needed to be concerned about was himself and the challenges that he would be facing in the coming months and years. Whatever would happen to John was of no matter to Peter. Simon needed to follow Jesus and feed the disciples the word of truth as instructed by the Lord. Others would misunderstand the meaning of Jesus’s words thinking that John would never die and like Peter were mindful about matters that belonged to the mind of God and not men. Peter was martyred and according to Jewish tradition was crucified upside down. John would die of old age having seen the incredible revelation of Jesus Christ as he was exiled on the Isle of Patmos. Jesus returned to the Father where He has been seated at the right-hand ruling over His kingdom.
Men like Peter are still trying to mind the affairs of God. Everything a man needs to know about salvation is revealed in the Bible. This great book contains sixty-six books that tell the history of the world, beginnings of civilization and the tragedy of a sinful world. For many millennia there was no joy in the world as the darkness of sin held sway over the hearts of men. Then joy came to the world in the birth of a child in Bethlehem that would grow to the stature of a man who lived without sin and was murdered by His own people. The light of the world came on the first day of the week with Jesus rose from the dead. Salvation had come to a lost and dying world. All of this is found within the pages of Holy Writ. There are many questions that remain unanswered. Men have mused over questions that have no meaning and are without profit. Like Peter, they want to know about this matter or that matter failing to realize all that mattered concerned their own lives and how they shared in a relationship with Jesus Christ or not. The great reality of life is that all men will stand before God in judgment with every person that has ever walked on the face of the earth and they will be standing before the Lord alone. Peter needed to realize that accountability was an individual choice. It did not matter what happened to John but it really did matter to Peter whether he would follow Jesus and do his will. The Bible is written to instruct the individual in their walk before God to be found pleasing regardless of what other people say or do. Salvation is a unique experience where the accountability of the individual is the basis of eternal life through the grace of God. What matters most to my life is whether I am saved and thereby by the love of God help others find their own accountability as Peter would say at Pentecost, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”
Jesus Loves Me
(Verses written for aging soldiers of the cross)
Jesus loves me, this I know,
Though my hair is white as snow,
Though my sight is getting dim,
Still He bids me trust in Him.
(Chorus) Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
The Bible tells me so.
Though my steps are oh so slow,
With my hand in His I’ll go
On through life, let come what may,
He’ll be there to lead the way. (Chorus)
When the nights are dark and long,
In my heart He puts a song,
Telling me in words so clear,
“Have no fear, for I am near.” (Chorus)
When my work on earth is done,
And life’s victories been won,
He will take me home above,
Then I’ll understand His love. (Chorus)
I love Jesus. Does He know?
Have I ever told Him so?
Jesus loves to hear me say,
That I love Him every day. (Chorus)