Remember, Only God is the Greatest

Remember, Only God is the Greatest

Written October 15, 2015

Muhammad Ali will always be known as one of the greatest heavyweight boxing champions of all time. He was one who had a larger than life persona who uttered many a memorable remark during his time in the spotlight. He was flamboyant, provocative, and one who knew how to entertain in and out of the ring.

He is known for many memorable phrases such as his catchphrase “I am the greatest,” as well as “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” Through the passing of time Ali has had a conversation attributed to him that is my personal favorite. Whether he actually said it remains up in the air but I like to think these events actually occurred.

The story is told that Ali and his entourage had boarded a plane and just before takeoff the stewardess reminded Ali to fasten his seat belt. Upon hearing this Ali replied, “Superman don’t need no seat belt.”

Without missing a beat the stewardess retorted, “Superman don’t need no airplane either.”

I love that story. I first heard it in a sermon given by a Christian Apologist named Ravi Zacharias. He used this story as a very fitting illustration to the way we sometimes live our lives.

How often do we our lives like we are the masters and commanders of all that is around us. We think we have it all together with our jobs, our family, our faith, our schooling, and our health. We live life much like Muhammad Ali proclaiming “I am the greatest.” Yet how many times has this perfect picture we have of our life shattered when the curve balls of life come our way.

Back while I first started seminary things in my life were looking very good. I was a newlywed, I was studying to get my masters, I had just started in the ministry, my family was proud of me and I was doing great. Right around that time my paternal grandfather had to be rushed to the emergency room. At first we didn’t think much of it because my grandfather was never one to be sick and living a long time seemed to run in the family. Because of this visit the doctors did some tests and found out his body had been overrun with cancer. They were fairly certain it started in his hip and simply spread throughout his body. With that diagnosis a pillar in my life was shaken and I couldn’t do anything about it. A little over 3 months later he went home to be with the Lord.

Fast forward a little over 2 years later. Life again is going fairly well. Allison and I are healthy and happy. I am in my last semester at seminary. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and my days of schooling are soon going to be over. I remember that I had come home one day and there was a message on the answering machine. It was my uncle telling me my father was in the hospital, that there had been a wreck and I needed to come and get their. I dropped everything and made my way to the emergency room and found out what was happening. My father in the past couple of months had gone through some very difficult times and because of these things had tried to take his own life. He was in a coma and the doctors we unsure which way things were going to go. Again in an instant my life was shaken to its core. Now the Lord was very good in that my father is doing very well now and God ended up using this situation for His glory.

What situations like these make realize is that we are frail and weak creatures in this world when it comes to the trials and tribulations that come our way and unless we have One who can carry us through these times of trouble we will be as helpless as Muhammad Ali trying to fly without a plane.

That’s really what it comes down to, understanding our great and utter need to be grounded in God and seeing His strength in our life. David in Psalm 31 put it this way.

O Lord, I have come to you for protection;

don’t let me be disgraced.

Save me, for you do what is right.

Turn your ear to listen to me;

rescue me quickly.

Be my rock of protection,

a fortress where I will be safe.

You are my rock and my fortress.

For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger.

Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me,

for I find protection in you alone.

I entrust my spirit into your hand.

Rescue me, Lord, for you are a faithful God.

David, in an hour of distress looked to the Lord for protection, strength and deliverance. I think though that we should take these lessons a bit further than that. God never intended Himself to be a life vest in case our boat was sinking or that last “break glass in case of emergency” option. God desires us to seek Him every moment of our days and to continually live in His presence in complete dependence on Him. Matthew 5:6 states that those that hunger and thirst for righteousness (God’s righteousness, goodness, in essences Himself) will be satisfied. The idea that Jesus was conveying that satisfaction is found in God and that we would constantly be looking to the Lord for guidance, direction, comfort, and strength. Psalm 42:1 says this – As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. That’s the key to living life grounded with our feet firmly planted in reality.

Back during my sophomore year in college I had a roommate named Victor. He was a music major just like Allison and had tremendous heart for witnessing. in the two semesters we shared a dorm I noticed that he was meticulous about how he cared for his teeth. Brushing, flossing, and gargling with mouthwash was as much a part of his regular routine as eating lunch. I remember him telling me once that he had learned this from his dad and that was just the way he was and that his teeth were so clean and well taken care of that dentist wouldn’t know if hadn’t brushed his teeth for a month. I’m pretty sure he was pulling my leg about that but when you think about it developing and nurturing our spiritual life ought to be as regular as my roommates teeth brushing.

The way we get to a Muhammad Ali “Superman don’t need no airplane” mentality is by neglecting our prayer life, Bible study time, devotions, church life, and fellowship with Christians. These are the things that ground us in the truth of God and allow us to experience the grace and mercy of God each day. It is these simple practices that we get to experience a wonderful blessed life with the hands of God carrying us through the most difficult parts of our life.

I was amazed to discover an unusual fact. In 2011 some 10 bouncy castles were reported to have collapsed or blown away. During these incidents more than 40 people were reported injured. The reason why these castles crashed were because they were not properly tied down. For all their size these huge bouncy castles are very prone to being caught up in the winds and being blown down. They look big and sturdy but in reality they are quite fragile and prone to falling if they are not anchored to something much stronger.

That’s a pretty accurate description of us isn’t it? For all our strength if we are not anchored to God we are prone to flying away when the winds of life blow. So how tethered are you? Are you securely tied down to the Savior? Is you life rooted in the Truth of His Word or have you let the knots slip over time. Let me give some simple questions to help you check your lines?

First, how is your prayer life? The Apostle Paul wrote many times words like this in his epistles. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,” (Philippians 1:3) in his epistles Paul constantly made reference to the prayers he made for others and in 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul spoke of how we were to pray continually and without ceasing. Let me ask how is your prayer life? Does it have a secure place in your life? Is it where you run to first in times of trial or is it a last resort? At night before bed Allison, Grace, and I have adopted a new ritual in our home. We all gather together in our bedroom and I read a chapter of a book out loud to Grace. At the moment we are reading her favorite book “Ivy’s Ever After.” After reading we all pray together, first Allison, then Grace, and then I close in prayer before we go off to bed. The new part is that we have changed the venue from Grace’s room to ours. The reason why this ritual is so important is that it gathers us together as a family and we pray together. You see one of the things I want to be instilled in Grace is the necessity and power of prayer. That it should not be something that feels awkward or out of place but rather natural in her life. My hope is that to be prayer-less would feel grossly out of place in her life as it should for all Christians for prayer is our lifeline to God. Prayer keeps us grounded in our faith, humbled in our spirit, and focused on the One Who carries us through the storms of life.

Second is, how is your praise life? A easier way of putting this is what comes into your ears and out of your mouth? If we are not praising our Savior in our minds, with our lips, and filling our minds with the good things of God our tendency will be to move away from God and forget all His goodness. I need to have my radio tuned to a Christian station to be reminded of all the great Christian music that is out there but also to allow myself to praise God throughout the day. I need those songs to encourage me of the the greatness of our God that I will rest in Him and I will praise Him in the storms of life. The Psalmist says it this way in Psalm 71:14-15 (ESV).

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.  My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.

Matt Maher said it this way in a beautiful song.

Lord I come, I confess

Bowing here I find my rest

Without You I fall apart

You’re the one that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh I need You

Every hour I need You

My one defense, my righteousness

Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more

Where grace is found is where You are

And where You are Lord I am free

Holiness is Christ in me

Yes where You are Lord I am free

Holiness is Christ in me

So teach my song to rise to You

When temptation comes my way

And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You

Jesus You’re my hope and stay

And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You

Jesus You’re my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh I need You

Every hour I need You

My one defense, my righteousness

Oh God, how I need You

Finally, where is your peace? Where do you find yourself at perfect peaceful rest and solace. For some it is found when everything is going their way. For others it is found in financial gain or when the craziness of life has finally calmed down and they can catch their breath, For Christians we are called to find rest and hope in something far different. David wrote in Psalm 20:7-8 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. The greatest foundation we can ever be tied to is that of our great God. Riches may come and go in life, our schedule will be barren or be filled to capacity, tragedies can be present or absent but regardless of what comes our way if we find ourselves anchored to God holding fast to His Word we will find peace and help through the most difficult times in our lives.

When my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and when my father was in the hospital time seemed to slow down just a bit. To be honest I wasn’t completely sure what to think. These two things came out of the blue and I was not ready for them. I was not ready to lose my grandfather, I couldn’t fathom life without my dad. One thing grounded me throughout these ordeals and that was that God was in control. Through it all regardless of whether it was heartache or uncertainty I knew that I could face tomorrow because I knew God was in control. This is what I was tethered to and held to throughout these difficult times. I didn’t understand these trials and I know I couldn’t see the reason God allowed these things to happen but I knew my loving and caring Savior was in control and the He was holding me close. These are the things that brought me through.

Let me asked again, are you anchored fast to God? Is you life firmly secured to our Savior so that when the wind blows you will be secured. I hope and pray that your life is firmly committed to the Lord and that you know the peace that passes all understanding by having your heart and trust placed in Him.

Father in Heaven, truly You are mighty and powerful but You are also the great Comforter and Shield to Your people. I thank You that You give peace to Your people through the difficult times of life and that You see us through so many difficulties. Thank You for being that sure foundation on which to anchor our lives. Help us now to rely on you for the temptation is so great to try and cast You off and proclaim ourselves as masters and commanders of our world when in reality we are but frail and weak creatures compared to all of what life can throw at us. Help us to cast off this temptation and to see You for Who You are as our Rock and Fortress on to which we can hide ourselves in times of trouble. Help us to know Your strength and power in this world. Help us to praise you with great passion and assist us in filling our ears and minds with your praises that they might flow from our mouth continually. Please remind us Father that true peace comes only from You. Help us to know that worldly peace is but a fleeting thing that can be taken away in an instant but those that would fix their minds and lives upon You would know eternal peace. Thank You Lord for Word, Your love, and Your Promises. Thank You for Christ and the relationship we are able to have with You through Him because of the cross. Guide Lord and help us as we trust in You.


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