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Sermon Central Staff
"DROP THAT BABY!"
A pastor called on a lady from his church and found her very despondent and feeling that God had forsaken her. Looking at the baby in the womanís arms, the pastor said to her, "Drop that baby on the floor." Startled by the suggestion, she looked at him in disbelief. "Well," he said, "for what price would you drop it?"
Indignantly she replied, "Not for as many dollars as there are stars!"
He then said kindly, "Tell me, do you really think that you love your child more than the Lord does His?" That truth broke through the womanís despair.
Perhaps you feel, like that woman, that God has forgotten you or no longer cares. You need look no further than the cross of Calvary to see that God loves and cares and sent His Son to die for your sins.
(From a sermon by Tim Spear, Youíre in Good Hands, 9/1/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
THE VOICE OF THE SHEPHERD
There once was a shepherd that lived in the Scottish highlands. This shepherd had a daughter and he would take her with him when he went out on the moors to take care of the sheep. The thing that the little girl liked best was to hear the call of shepherd. His voice sounded so free and beautiful as carried across the valleys of the moors.
As the years passed the little girl became a beautiful young woman and went off to one of Scotland's great cities--Edinburgh or Glasgow. It was there that she was determined to build a life. On her arrival, she would write back home to her parents every week. But as life began to take her by the hand, her letters soon dropped off in their frequency and soon there were none.
Rumors begin to filter back home to that shepherd and his wife that their daughter had started hanging out with some unsavory characters and they were having a very negative influence on her life. One day one of the boys from back home ran into her in the city streets and she acted as if she did not even know him. When the old shepherd heard this, he gathered a few things together and dressed in his rough shepherdís clothes went to the city to find his daughter.
For days on end he looked for her. He looked everywhere; the slums, the rows of houses, the markets, the taverns, and everywhere in between to no avail. So after all of this searching he became very discouraged with the thought that he had lost his daughter to the evil city.
As he started the long trek back home, just as he was on the outskirts of the city, he remembered that his daughter had always loved to hear the voice of the shepherd calling out to the sheep.
So he turned around and on this quest motivated by his sorrow and his love, he began to stalk the streets. His voice rang out the shepherds call. The citizens of the city all looked at him as if he had lost his wits. It wasnít too long as he walked the streets of one of the degraded neighborhoods that inside of one of those houses, his daughter sitting among the vermin who had led her astray, heard his voice. With great astonishment on her face, she heard that call of the voice of the shepherd, the voice of her father calling out to her. She leaped up and rushed out to the street and ran into the arms of that old shepherd, her father. It was then that he took her back home to the highlands of Scotland and brought her back to God and to decency and modesty.
This is a moving example of what happens to those who can hear the voice of a shepherd.
(From a sermon by Philip Harrelson, The Voice of the Shepherd, 8/6/2010)
According to psychologist William Damon, respect for the parent who exercises proper authority leads to respect for legitimate social institutions and to respect for law. In his book The Moral Child, Damon writes, ďThe childís respect for parental authority sets the direction for civilized participation in the social order when the child later begins assuming the rights and responsibilities of full citizenship.Ē Damon calls this respect ďthe single most important legacy that comes out of the childís relations with the parent.Ē
Michael G. Moriarty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following Godís Commandments in a Post Modern World, p. 112
AN ARM AROUND ME--COMMUNION MEDITATION
Jackie Robinson was the first black person to play major league baseball. Breaking baseballís color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. Players would stomp on his feet and kick him.
While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he made an error. The fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. Then, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.
We are sometimes like Jackie Robinson, full of shame. Sometimes, like Jackie, our shame is from nothing we've done. Sometimes our shame is from our own sin and guilt. And like Pee Wee Reese, Jesus comes and slips his arm around us, and bears our shame for us. ...
TALE OF TWO KINGS
Two of the greatest love stories ever told. The one, at Camelot; the other, at Calvary. Two of the noblest kings ever to live. The one, King Arthur; the other, King of the Jews. The one is adorned with a jeweled crown; the other, with a crown of thorns.
The comparisons and contrasts between Camelot and Calvary are many, but one scene from Camelot illustrates a great theological dilemma that only the cross could resolve.
Prior to His appointment with destiny on the brow of that fateful hill, Jesus agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Lk. 22:42).
Understand, on an emotional level, that this is the pleading of a son to his father. If your child came to you in such agony, wouldnít you do everything within your power to grant the request?
But this Father, this time, didnít respond as expected. And thatís the theological rub. He denied the request of His Son, His only Son, His beloved Son. In Gethsemane, that Son was asking:
"Is there no other way?"
The Son is betrayed, arrested, deserted, denied, beaten, tried, mocked, and finally crucified. Tacitly, the Father answers:
"No, there is no other way."
But why? Why was there no other way?
We find the answer to that question in a scene from Camelot, where the adulterous relationship between Queen Guenevere and Arthurís most trusted knight, Sir Lancelot, has divided the Round Table. When the scheming Mordred catches them in a clandestine encounter, Lancelot escapes. Guenevere is not so fortunate. She faces a trial. The jury finds her guilty and sentences her to the flame.
As the day of execution nears, people come from miles around with one question in their minds: Would the king let her die?
Mordred gleefully captures the complexity of Arthurís predicament:
Arthur! What a magnificent dilemma!
Let her die, your life is over;
Let her live, your lifeís a fraud.
Which will it be, Arthur?
Do you kill the queen or kill the law?
Tragically but resolutely, Arthur decides: "Treason has been committed! The jury has ruled! Let justice be done!"
High from the castle window stands Arthur, as Guenevere enters the courtyard. She walks to her unlit stake, where the executioner stands with waiting torch. Arthur turns away, emotion brimming in his eyes.
A herald mounts the tower where Arthur has withdrawn: "The queen is at the stake, Your Majesty. Shall I signal the torch?"
But the king cannot answer.
Arthurís love for Jenny spills from his broken heart: "I canít! I canít! I canít let her die!"
Seeing Arthur crumble, Mordred relishes the moment: "Well, youíre human after all, arenít you, Arthur? Human and helpless."
Tragically, Arthur realizes the truth of Mordredís remark. Being only human, he is indeed helpless. But where this story ends, the greatest story ever told just begins.
Another Execution Scene.
Another time. Another place. Another king.
The setting: A world lies estranged from the God who loves it. Like Genevere, an unfaithful humanity stands guilty and in bondage, awaiting judgmentís torch.
Could God turn His head from the righteous demands of the law and simply excuse the worldís sin? If not, then could He turn His head from the world He loved? Would the king burn Guenevere?
Like the wicked Mordred, Satan must have looked on in delight:
God! What a magnificent dilemma!
Let them die, Your life is over;
Let them live, Your lifeís a fraud;
Which will it be, God?
Do You kill Your world or do You kill the law?
Without even waiting for His Guenevere to look up in repentance, the King stepped down from His throne, took off His crown, laid aside His royal robes, and descended His castleís polished steps into humanityís pockmarked streets. Paulís words in Philippians are thought by some scholars to be the lyrics of an ancient hymn, singing about the King of kings.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Phil. 2:6-8
That scene in the movie was an epiphany of understanding. Suddenly, it all made sense. We know now why He had to die, why there was no other way.
When love and justice collide, only the cross offers a happy ending.
Source: Abridged excerpt from Ken Gireís book Windows of the Soul. Copyright © 1996 by Ken Gire, Jr. Zondervan Publishing Houses.
Some years ago at a drawing-room function, one of Englandís leading actors was asked to recite for the pleasure of his fellow guests. He consented and asked if there was anything special that his audience would like to hear. After a momentís pause, an old clergyman present said: "Could you, sir, recite to us the Twenty-third Psalm?" A strange look passed over the actorís face; he paused for a moment, and then said: "I can, and I will, upon one condition; and that is that after I have recited it, you, my friend, will do the same." "I," said the clergyman, in surprise. "But I am not an elocutionist. However, you wish it, I will do so." Impressively, the great actor began the psalm. His voice and his intonation were perfect. He held his audience spellbound; and as he finished, a great burst of applause broke from the guests. Then, as it died away, the old clergyman arose and began the psalm. His voice was not remarkable; his intonation was not faultless. When he had finished, no sound of applause broke the silence, but there was not a dry eye in the room, and many heads were bowed. Then the actor rose to his feet again. His voice shook as he laid his hand upon the shoulder of the old clergyman and said: "I reached your eyes and ears, my friends; he reached your hearts. The difference is just this: I know the Twenty-third Psalm, but he knows the Shepherd."
(from "The War Cry")
I sat down and looked through some magazines this past week. I discovered that if I want to feel right, I need to get a NordicTrack. I donít have a NordicTrack, just a membership down at the gym, so I suddenly realized that I didnít feel as healthy as I thought I did.
I then read that if I wanted to be stylish, I would need to buy a Toyota Camry. Our family van was in the shop, so I had been driving our old Mercury Sable. That felt bad enough. Real men drive SUVs or bright red sports cars. Iíve got four kids, so I donít have the luxury of driving what real men drive. So I found out that I couldnít be stylish with the cars I owned.
Then I saw that if I wanted to really feel the spring season, I had to dress for the spring season, and the only place for that was at Dillardís. I knew I wouldnít have a chance to go to Dillardís that week. Suddenly the beautiful weather just didnít seem that beautiful. I just wasnít dressed for it.
It didnít get any better. I learned that I needed to be opening my mail with knife from Oneida. I only had a two-dollar letter opener from Office Depot. Now even my mail was disappointing. On top of that, I discovered that I couldnít have a good meal if I wasnít in Texas Ė at least not a meal that would satisfy me. So much for my Lean Cuisines. Then I read that if I wanted to be a man, at least a manlier man than my neighbor, I had to drive a Yard-Man mower with a Briggs and Stratton engine. At least it was cheaper than a new SUV.
I like my house until I saw the new developmentís ad. I thought my family and I were close until I realized we didnít have season passes to the amusement park. I even thought I loved my wife, but since I hadnít bought her a diamond necklace from the jewelry store, I was informed that I didnít. I found out that I canít even be romantic with my wife unless we use Sylvania light bulbs. Wouldnít you know, we have GE.
By the time I got finished with those magazines, I wasnít just depressed Ė I needed counseling. Ever felt that way? We all have. Itís the sad fruit of living life that covets.
James Emery White, You Can Experience an Authentic Life (Nashville: Word Publishing, 2000), 139-140
KIDNAPPED BY HATRED
On February 9, 1960, Adolph Coors III, millionaire head of Coors Company, was kidnapped and held for ransom. Seven months later his body was found on a remote hillside. He had been shot to death. Adolph Coors IV was then fifteen years old. He lost not only his father, but also his best friend. For years Adolph Coors IV hated Joseph Corbett, the man who was sentenced to life for the slaying of Adolph Coors III.
In 1975, almost 15 years later, Adolph Coors IV became a Christian. Yet, his hatred for Corbett, the murderer of his Dad, still consumed him.
Adolph Coors knew he needed to forgive Corbett as Jesus Christ forgave him. So he visited the maximum-security unit of Coloradoís Canon City penitentiary to talk with Joseph Corbett. Corbett refused to see him.
So Coors left Corbett a Bible with the following inscription: "Iím here to see you today, and Iím sorry that we could not meet. As a Christian I am summoned by ou...
Warren Wiersbe, theologian and writer, tells a story as taken from a source. ďA miserable looking woman recognized F.B. Meyer (preacher and teacher) on the train and ventured to share her burden with him. For years she had cared for a crippled daughter who brought great joy to her life. She made tea for her each morning, then left for work, knowing that in the evening the daughter would be there when she arrived home. But the daughter had died, and the grieving mother was alone and miserable. Home was not "home" anymore. Meyer gave her wise counsel. "When you get home and put the key in the door, say aloud, íJesus, I know You are here!í and be ready to greet Him directly when you open the door. And as you light the fire tell Him what has happened during the day; if anybody has been kind, tell Him; if anybody has been unkind, tell Him, just as you would have told your daughter. At night stretch out your hand in the darkness and say, íJesus, I know You are here!í" Some months later, Meyer was back in that neighborhood and met the woman again, but he did not recognize her. Her face radiated joy instead of announcing misery. "I did as you told me," she said, "and it has made all the difference in my life, and now I feel I know Him."
Sermon Central Staff
MY SHEEP KNOW MY VOICE
Do you all know much about Emperor Penguins? I was not very familiar with these birds until a few years ago when the documentary, March of the Penguins, came out. And as I watched this documentary, I learned many intriguing facts about this largest of the penguin family.
For one thing, Emperors are monogamous; a relatively unique feature in the world of animals; they have one mate for life. Perhaps even more interesting than that, though, is the fact that it is the male Emperors who care for the egg until it hatches. Thatís right, every year, when mating season is over, the female Emperors take off for the ocean; all of them together in one huge flock traveling hundreds of miles so that they can fish and get plenty to eat to sustain them and their new chick for a year. Meanwhile, back at their home, the male penguins are caring for the eggs. Each male tucks his egg between his feet to keep it from breaking and to keep it warm in the cold, harsh, winter winds.
But hereís the thing that is perhaps most interesting. When all those females return from the ocean, hundreds, perhaps even thousands of them, how do you think they find their mate in the equally large crowd of males? Itís not that they can just walk up to the doorstep of their nest and step inside. No, there are no nests. The Emperor penguins always find their mate and their children by the sound of their call, their voice. It seems impossible for a flock of thousands of penguins to sort themselves out by the sounds of their voices, but they do it. In our view, itís nothing short of a miracle!
I suppose such a feat shouldnít surprise us too much. Perhaps all human voices sound alike to birds, just as bird calls (especially within a single species) all sound the same to humans. Yet, we humans do have some selective hearing; a father or mother will recognize their childís voice in a crowded room and vice versa. But those of us who donít have much to do with the bird and animal kingdoms on a daily basis are often startled at just how much animals can distinguish between different people as well as between others members of their own species. To this day, in the Middle East, a shepherd will go into a crowded sheepfold and call out his own sheep one by one, naming them. They will recognize his voice and come to him.
An Anglican priest toured the Holy Land many years ago. One day on his travels, he saw several different groups of sheep converging together on a watering hole. As he watched the meeting, he thought to himself, "Now, there will be trouble. Theyíll all get mixed up. The shepherds wonít like this." But the sheep continued to come together, until they formed one big flock of sheep. They all looked alike--a big mass of white wool. "What will they do now?" the priest thought. "How will the shepherds ever separate them out?"
The priest was intrigued enough to stay for a while. And when the sheep had finished drinking, he was amazed at what he saw. Each shepherd gave out a cry. Each let go his unique call, and almost by magic, the sheep divided back into their original herds.
(From a sermon by Clair Sauer, A Call in the Cacophony, 5/11/2011)