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Some seem to expect the Word of God to hit them like a jolt of adrenaline each time they read or study it. Although the "jolt" may hit us periodically, the benefits of the Word of God act more like vitamins. People who regularly take vitamins do so because of their long-term benefits, not because every time they swallow one of the pills, they feel new strength surging through their bodies. They have developed a habit of consistently taking vitamins because they have been told that, in the long haul, vitamin supplements are going to have a beneficial effect on their physical health, resistance to disease and, general well-being The same is true of reading the Bible. At times it will have a sudden and intense impact on us. However, the real value lies in the cumulative effects that long-term exposure to God’s Word will bring to our lives.
ďAunt Bessieís Pickled Beets!Ē 2 Corinthians 7:2-13 Key verse(s): 10:ďGodly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.Ē
The worst part of doing wrong is being found out. Weíve all been caught doing wrong in life; especially when we reflect back on our childhoods. And there are many things about doing wrong that are hurtful. First and foremost is the pain and suffering that we bring to others in our wrong-doing. This is the impact of wrong-doing that reverberates. Wrong has a way of broadcasting and spreading out, making a little mistake into a much bigger one. Take a lie for example. What started out as a fib can easily become the initiator of all manner of hurt, none of which was our intention in the first place. Certainly the effect of our wrong-doing on others is preeminent in our concern for doing right. But, there are other consequences attached to our wrongful behavior; not the least of which is the regret that becomes our lot when we are discovered in our sins.
I really hate the feeling of regret. There is simply something grinding and gnawing about it. Regret has a way of packaging itself so that it stays fresh for a very long time. Just when you think that you have put it away for good in some safe place where it can slowly but surely dissipate into the farthest and deepest reaches of your consciousness, some little reminder of the deed that spawned the regret in the first place creeps into your life. And thatís when regret pops up. Itís the jar of Aunt Bessieís pickled beets that you pushed to the back of the fruit cellar shelf in hopes that in the darkness it could be forgotten that, despite the accumulation of years of dust and perhaps a little rust around the rim, stares back at you fresh and beckoning to be opened. Unless you empty the contents and wash the jar, Aunt Bessieís face will always be popping up in the cellar no matter how many times you push it to the back of the shelf. You canít live with regret no matter how hard you try. It will never be tamed or transformed because, like pickled beets, regret always tastes and looks the same. You canít ďsaltĒ it or tincture it to make it more palatable. Pickled beets will always taste pickled.
ďIn 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the Middle East and Europe gave Borden a burden for the worldís hurting people. Writing home, he said, ĎIím going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.í When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: No Reserves. Turning down high paying job offers after graduation from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: No Retreats. Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month. A waste, you say! Not in Godís plan. In his Bible underneath the words No Reserves and No Retreats, he had written the words No Regrets. (Daily Bread, December 31, 1988.)
There is only one way to deal with regret. You need to remove it from your life completely. Aunt Bessieís pickled beets are always going to be there unless, of course, you eat them, wash the jar and return it with thanks to Aunt Bessie. Regrets donít go away unless you decide in the first place that there is simply no room for them among the provisions in your heart. You may not like pickled beets but one thing you can be sure of, the beets marinated in that pickling solution are suspended in a state of freshness that will preserve them for a very long time. It is not likely that they will self-destruct any time soon requiring you to dispose of them with a clean conscience. No, Aunt Bessie pickled them for a reason. She wanted them preserved as a memorial to her garden and she had every intention of insuring that their survival would even exceed herís. You might as well eat them and get it over with.
A striking Christmas card was once published with the title "If Christ Had Not Come". It was founded upon our Saviorís words "If I had not come." The card represented a pastorís falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come. In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out to the street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Savior had disappeared. The doorbell rang and a messenger asked the preacher to visit his poor, dying mother. He hastened with the weeping child, and as he reached the home he sat down and said, "I have something here that will comfort you." He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended with Malachi. There was no Gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair. Two days later he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service. There was no message of consolation, no hope of heaven. What a terrible dream What a terrifying nightmare How much worse are those who know Christ came yet live as though he did not.
THE REFINER'S FIRE
The story is told of a group of women that met for Bible study. While studying in the book of Malachi, chapter three, they came across verse three which says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." This verse puzzled the women and they wondered how this statement applied to the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out more about the process of refining silver, and to get back to the group at their next Bible study.
The following week, the woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him while at work. She didnít mention anything about the reason for her interest, beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.
As she watched the silversmith work, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire, where the flames were the hottest as to burn away all the impurities.
The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot, then she thought again about the verse, that "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."
She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the entire time the silver was being refined. The man answered yes...
Sermon Central Staff
IF YOU WANT IT BAD ENOUGH
When a person first comes to faith in Christ and gets a taste of His grace, they canít get enough of the Bible.
Pat Summerall, the well-known sports announcer, trusted Christ with his life and overcame alcohol in the late 60ís. As he describes his life with Christ, he says, "Itís like an alcoholic looking for a drink. If he wants it bad enough, he can find it Ė no matter what. Iím like that when it comes to finding prayer services and Bible studies. No matter where I am working, I know that theyíre out there and I can find them."
(Art Stricklin, Sports Spectrum, Nov/Dec 2001, p. 27. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Love and Longing, 5/13/2011)
Ridgecrest is a large Baptist-run assembly ground, nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina. All summer long, every year, thousands of Christians come to Ridgecrest for training, inspiration, Bible study, and challenge.
A few years ago, during a conference, people began to notice a man hanging around the grounds. He did not look like he had just stepped out of your typical Sunday School class. His clothes were tattered and torn; they looked like something even the Salvation Army would throw away. His face had not been visited by a razor for a long time. His shoes could best be described by the title of Hymn No. 2 in the book – “Holy, Holy, Holy”! And worst of all, there was the BO. You know about BO? Let’s just say that when you got close, you did not get a whiff of Chanel No. 5. This young man was clearly “not one of us”, not the kind of person you normally see at Christian campgrounds.
What did he do? Not much, really. He did not approach anyone. He did not harass anybody. He did not ask for money. He mostly just hung around. When chapel services were held, he would walk across the front and sit down. When classes were under way, he would lie down on the grassy slopes nearby. And when meals were being served, he would stand on the dining hall porch, not far from the long lines of people clutching their meal tickets. No begging, no demands, just standing around.
At the end of the week they announced that there would be a special speaker for the closing service, and that he would speak on the theme, “Inasmuch as you have not done it unto one of the least of these, you have not done it unto me.” They promised that the audience would truly remember this message. The hymns were sung, the prayers were prayed, the choir sang, and the special speaker approached the podium. Who do you think was that special speaker? Who brought that memorable message?
That scruffy young man! That hangaround bum with the worn-out clothing, the messy beard, and the offensive BO! It turns out that he was a young pastor who had been asked to play a part by the organizers of the conference. And his message stung as he said to the crowd, “No one tried to include me in anything. No one asked me if I needed help. No one invited me to the dining hall. No one sat down to listen to my story. A few put religious tracts into my hand. One or two pulled out a dollar bill and gave it to me. But most of you turned your eyes and pretended not to see me. My appearance offended you, and you left me out.”
Appearances are deceiving. He looked like a beggar and a bum, but he was a pastor. (Please don’t anyone say that’s all the same thing!).
Dr. Bruce Emmert
Just before the outbreak of the First World War, a small ship named the Endurance set sail from Briton with a crew intent on being the first to cross the South Pole. The ship reached Antarctica, but became ice bound in the Weddle Sea. Soon they had to abandon their ship and the 28-man crew took to their lifeboats. They were trapped on the ice for over a year. A desperate decision was made to take four men in a 20-foot lifeboat across the roughest sea in the world to a whaling station on South Georgia Island some 800 miles away. At the helm was a man named Worsely. All he had to guide them that 800 miles to South Georgia Island was a map, a watch, a sexton, and a compass, but it was all he needed if he used them well. A mistake as minor as being off by only one degree would have proved disastrous. The four men in that boat endured seas that raged higher than a ten-story building. They were constantly cold and wet from the waves that constantly drenched the boat. They had only the most meager of rations. The journey did not take days, but two weeks. But Worsley, whose most sophisticated tool was a compass, managed to get that lifeboat the 800 miles to South Georgia Island and eventually the entire crew of the Endurance was saved. As a result, Worsley was a hero. The whaling captains who sailed those waters considered him one of the wisest navigators in the world. Worsley was brilliant, but all of his brilliance would have been worthless if he not used the compass. Worsley was wise because he used the compass to guide him. The ancients believed that there are two types of people in the world: people who are fools and people who are wise. Being wise is a matter of using the compass youíve been given to get where you need to go. Fools choose not to use the compass.
EVERYTHING I NEED
ďI have everything I need for joy!Ē Robert Reed said.
His hands are twisted and his feet are useless. He canít bathe himself. He canít feed himself. He canít brush his teeth, comb his hair, or put on his underwear. Strips of Velcro hold his shirts together. His speech drags like a worn out audiocassette.
Robert has cerebral palsy.
The disease keeps him from driving a car, riding a bike, and going for a walk. But it didnít keep him from graduating from high school or attending Abilene Christian University, from which he graduate with a degree in Latin. Having cerebral palsy didnít keep him from teaching at St. Louis Junior College or from venturing overseas on five mission trips.
And Robertís disease didnít prevent him from becoming a missionary in Portugal.
He moved to Lisbon, alone, in 1972. There he rented a hotel room and began studying Portuguese. He found a restaurant owner who would feed him after the rush hour and a tutor who would instruct him in the language.
Then he stationed himself daily in a park, where he distributed brochures about Christ. Within six years he led seventy people to the Lord, one of whom became his wife, Rosa.
I heard Robert speak recently. I watched other men carry him in his wheelchair onto the platform. I watched them lay a Bible in his lap. I watched h...
When Rembrandt’s famous painting, The Night Watch, was restored and returned to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, the curators performed a simple, yet remarkable experiment. They asked visitors to submit questions about the painting. The curators then prepared answers to over 50 questions, ranking the questions according to popularity.
Some of these questions focused on issues which curators usually don’t like to include:
How much does the painting cost? Has this painting ever been forged? Are there mistakes in the painting? Other questions focused on traditional artistic issues: Why did Rembrandt paint the subject? Who were the people in the painting? What techniques did Rembrandt pioneer in the particular work?
In a room next to the gallery which held the painting, the curators papered the walls with these questions (and answers). Visitors had to pass through this room before entering the gallery.
The curious outcome was that the average length of time people spent viewing the painting increased from six minutes to over half an hour. Visitors alternated between reading questions and answers and examining the painting. They said that the questions encouraged them to look longer, to look closer, and to remember more. The questions helped them create richer ideas about the painting and to see the painting in new ways. (Source: Bits and Pieces)
In her book, THE HIDING PLACE, Corrie Ten Boom relates an incident that taught her to be thankful for things we normally would not be thankful for. She and her sister, Betsy, prisoners of the Nazis, had just been transferred to the worst prison camp they had seen yet, Ravensbruck. Upon entering the barracks, they found them extremely overcrowded and infested with fleas. Their Scripture reading from their smuggled Bible that morning in 1 Thessalonians had reminded them to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances. Betsy told Corrie to stop and thank the Lord for every detail of their new living quarters. Corrie at first flatly refused to give thanks for the fleas, but Betsy persisted. Corrie finally agreed to somehow thank God for even the fleas.
During the months spent at that camp, they were surprised to find how openly they could hold Bible study and prayer meetings in their barrack without guard interference. Several months later they learned that the guards would not enter the barracks because of the fleas.