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Paul Carlson
 
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A Nation of Bible Illiterates

George Barna wrote The State of the Church in 2002. Barna conducted a survey of self-pronounced Christians and here’s what he found about their knowledge of the Bible. These are Christians.

• 48% could not name the four Gospels.
• 52% cannot identify more than two or three of Jesus’ disciples.
• 60% of American Christians can’t name even five of the 10 Commandments.
• 61% of American Christians think the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.
• 71% of American Christians think “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse.
George Barna said, "Americans revere the Bible, but by and large they don’t know what it says. And because they don’t know it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates."

Just as the people in this Barna poll are woefully biblical illiterate, Christians are far too ignorant of the Word of God. No wonder 21st century Christians are failing to finish their marathon race. No wonder Christians by the thousands are falling prey to the false teachers of our day. They are being feed junk food and don’t feed themselves on the Word of God. They are desperately in need of a solid diet of good food, Scripture. We need to get into "spiritual shape"!

 
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Sermon Central Staff
 
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THE STOLEN BABY JESUS SYNDROME

A few years back, Wellington, FL had their baby Jesus stolen two years running. This was a wealthy community and their Jesus was worth around $1800. The third time around they put a GPS inside and traced the thief to her home.

But the baby Jesus doesn’t have to be expensive. In 2008, in Eureka Springs AK, the thieves not only stole a plastic baby Jesus; they also took the concrete block and chain meant to keep that from happening

It’s called the “Stolen Baby Jesus Syndrome.” Some take the babies as a joke. Others do so because they want to protest Christmas. When found, the babies are often defaced with profanity or Satanic symbols (AP Dec. 10, 2008)

But the thief doesn’t always have bad intentions. About 6 years ago, Chicago Police say an art student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was arrested for stealing a figure of the baby Jesus from the Nativity Scene at the Daley Plaza. Two witnesses saw him pull the three-foot figure from the manger and just walk away with it. When questioned about the theft, the man said he took the figure because he saw it and wanted it.

(http://www.14wfie.com, Baby Jesus Stolen - Again, 12/6/04. From a sermon by Jeff Strite, A Reason to Party, 12/26/2010)

 
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Simplicity is the answer for people tired and weary. Simplicity is marked by a contented lifestyle that rests in God’s grace. It is the commitment to clear out, scale down, and realize the essentials of what we truly need to live well. The intimate search for wholeness is not found by accumulating more things, but by entering into God’s presence every single day.

Michael G. Moriarty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following God’s Commandments in a Post Modern World (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Pub. House, 1999), 204

 
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THEY NEED A FATHER

... “almost 75 percent of American children living in fatherless households will experience poverty before the age of eleven, compared to only 20 percent of those raised by two parents. Children living in homes where fathers are absent are far more likely to be expelled from or drop out of school, develop emotional or behavioral problems, commit suicide, and fall victim to child abuse or neglect. The males are also far more likely to become violent criminals. As a matter of fact, men who grew up without dads currently represent 70 percen...

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In 1996, the Chicago Tribune ran a story on Buddy Post, a lottery winner who is “living proof that money can’t buy happiness.” In 1988, he won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery. Since then, he has been convicted “of assault, his sixth wife left him, his brother was convicted of trying to kill him, and his landlady successfully sued him for one-third of the jackpot.”
“Money didn’t change me,” insists Post, a 58-year-old former carnival worker and cook. “It changed the people around me that I knew, that I thought cared a little bit about me. But they only cared about the money.”
Post is trying to auction off seventeen future payments, valued at nearly $5 million, in order to pay off taxes, legal fees, and a number of failed business ventures.
He plans to spend his life as an ex-winner pursuing lawsuits he has filed against police, judges, and lawyers who he says conspired to take his money. “I’m just going to stay at home and mind my p’s and q’s,” he said. “Money draws flies.”

Michael G. Moriarty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following God’s Commandments in a Post Modern World (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Pub. House, 1999), 169-170.

 
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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, “The child’s 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.” Damon calls this respect “the single most important legacy that comes out of the child’s relations with the parent.”

Michael G. Moriarty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following God’s Commandments in a Post Modern World, p. 112

 
Contributed By:
D. Greg Ebie
 
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Your heart will have beat an average of 122,400 times every day. None of us want our heart to ask for a vacation or take a day off; we don’t even want to give it a short “coffee break” to skip a few beats. Doctors understand the heart is critically important to our physical well-being; it is so important doctors have developed the 10 commandments for heart attack prevention.
1. Thou shalt stop smoking.
2. Thou shalt control thy blood pressure.
3. Thou shalt reduce dietary cholesterol.
4. Thou shalt reduce dietary saturated fat.
5. Thou shalt reduce dietary sodium.
6. Thou shalt loose thy apple shaped fat distribution.
7. Thou shalt increase time to relax.
8. Thou shalt increase soluble fiber.
9. Thou shalt eat fish three times a week.
10. Thou shalt increase aerobic exercise.
The same principle holds true in our spiritual lives the condition of our heart impacts every area of our lives. Your heart is not just the physical organ pumping blood throughout your body. The heart is the center of your innermost emotions and feeling; the heart is your soul, the center and essence of life. Just as a body is lifeless without the beating of the heart, so too spiritually without the heart, life stops. THE HEART IS “THE STUFF OF LIFE.”

 
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SPENDING TIME WITH THE KIDS?

The April 6, 1990, issue of the Wall Street Journal reported that, on the average, American parents spend less than fifteen minutes a week in serious discussion with their children. For fathers the amount of intimate contact with their children is an average of seventeen seconds per day. The important role parents play in socializing children and character formation is a difficult task, but it is an impossible one if the parents fail to bond with their kids. The result is that children and adolescents are increasingly dis...

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The application of misplaced desires eventually becomes a cycle of addiction where stimulating encounters, relief, and the mad search for new experiences become ingrained in the recesses of the mind. The insatiable appetite to acquire, to own, to indulge, to take pleasure, to consume, is relentless. Rationality and moral self-control are dominated by the rising lust for power, an insidious power that becomes a sacred goal, a wholly consuming interest.

Michael G. Moriarty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following God’s Commandments in a Post Modern World (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Pub. House, 1999), 206

 
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A wonderful, imaginative short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates the necessity of having the right focus. It is entitled “The Great Stone Face.” The tale centers around a man named Ernest who grew up in a village renowned for a natural wonder that rested just outside its boundaries. Nature had majestically carved in the side of a mountain the features of a human countenance so realistic that from a distance the Great Stone Face seemed positively alive.
All the features were noble and the expression was grand and sweet. Ernest, like all children of the nearby village, was told of an ancient prophecy that at some future day a child would be born in the vicinity who was destined to become the greatest personage of his time and whose countenance, in manhood, would bear an exact resemblance to the Great Stone Face. Upon learning that the promised prophet had not yet appeared, the young Ernest clapped his hands above his head and exclaimed, “I do hope that I shall live to see him!”
Ernest, growing older, never forgot that prophecy learned at his mother’s knee. It was always on his mind. And a s he grew into manhood, Ernest allowed the Great Stone Face to become his teacher – meditating upon the countenance, looking to it for comfort, reading stories about it, speaking of it to those who would hear.
Years passed. Many came into the village claiming to be the promised one. But each time Ernest went out to meet the pretenders, he came away disappointed and sometimes almost despondent. For although these imposters claimed the honor, Ernest knew better. As a result of his devotion to the Face, he had become an expert on it. Surely Ernest, of all people, would know the one when he came. After each disappointment Ernest would return to the Face, peer into it and ask, “How long?” The granite features seemed to reassure him, “Fear not, Ernest, the man will come!”
Ernest was an old man now, his hair gray and the movement of his body slow. The one great sadness of his life was that he had never seen the prophet long foretold. One day a poet famous for his ode celebrating the Stone Face came to visit Ernest. They enjoyed each other’s company and yet each spoke sadly – for they longed to see the Face enfleshed.
The two talked long and, as the day drew to a close, it came time for Ernest’s daily discourse on the Great Stone Face. Each evening inhabitants of the neighboring village assembled in the open air for his stirring oration. There Ernest stood and spoke to the people, giving them what thoughts were in his heart and mind. Delivered with eloquence, the words were powerful because they accorded with his thoughts, and his thoughts had reality and depth because they harmonized with the devoted life he had always lived.
The poet, as he listened, grew teary-eyed. The being and character of Ernest were a nobler strain of poetry than he had ever written. The face of Ernest assumed a grandeur of expression, so imbued with benevolence, and with the Great Stone Face looming in the background, the poet suddenly realized what should have been obvious all along. For Ernest, he noticed, had a mild, sweet, beautiful countenance that looked like the Stone Face itself!
Moved by an irresistible impulse, the poet threw his arms aloft and began to shout to all who would hear – “Behold, behold! Ernest is himself the likeness of the Great Stone Face!” And with that all the people sitting about looked at Ernest and noticed that what the poet said was true. The prophecy was fulfilled! Ernest had become like his ideal.
Hawthorne’s story reverberates with a salient truth, “What get our attention gets us.”

Michael G. Moriarty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following God’s Commandments in a Post Modern World (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Pub. House, 1999), 210-212

 
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