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Sermon Central Staff
COMING TO GRIPS WITH THE SOVEREIGN WILL OF GOD
I want to tell you a story about my friend, Jim Pence. Jim is an author who has written several books. But his first novel was titled "Blind Sight" and was published by Tyndale a number of years ago. Jim wrote this book, but he really didn't think it was all that of a success. Many writers write their first book and it's a springboard to others. It's a great book, but it wasn't his favorite work.
But for some reason, he wrote this book. Recently Jim emailed this story to me about his book:
"This past spring, two young men broke into Terry C's home before dawn. They shot him and killed his wife, and then went upstairs and murdered the couple's two young sons. They then set fire to the house and left the family for dead. Although he had been shot five times, Terry escaped through the bathroom window and crawled three hundred yards to a neighbor's. To make matters worse his daughter was implicated in the crime. Overnight, Terry lost his entire family.
"A few months later, Terry went back to his property. The remains of the house had been bulldozed and little was left. Torn with grief, and unable to understand why God had taken his family and allowed him to survive, Terry cried out to God, "Why did you take my family? Why didn't you take me, too? I don't understand."
"As he stood there, Terry noticed a scrap of paper stuck to the trunk of a nearby tree. He went over and picked it up. The paper was part of a page from my novel, "Blind Sight." The edges of the page were scorched and it was difficult to read. But the words were like a direct message from God:
"'I couldn't understand why You would take my family and leave me behind to struggle along without them. And I guess I still don't totally understand that part of it. But I do believe that You're sovereign; You're in control...and I know that You've brought Justine and those children into my life. And they need me. Lord, You could have taken my life that day, but You spared it. And You've gone on sparing it. It doesn't matter what happens to me now, but if I can help them, please let me do it.'
"Those paragraphs turned Terry's life around. He found the strength to go on and is now sharing his testimony in churches around the country. When he speaks, he brings the page from my novel, now preserved in a frame, and shows it to the congregation.
"Not only had the house burned, but the site had been bulldozed and the debris hauled off. What little was left had been exposed to the weather for months. And out of a nearly 400 page book, all that remained was a brief passage where a man who had lost his family came to grips with the Sovereignty of God and decided to move forward.
That scrap of paper lay there against a tree trunk as if waiting for Terry C: a man who had lost his family and desperately needed to come to grips with the Sovereign goodness of God.
(From a sermon by Daniel Darling, Joseph, The Unsung Hero of Christmas - Message Two -- 2008, 2/17/2011)
YOU'LL FIND JESUS THERE
"Tomorrow morning I'll open up your heart" the surgeon said to the 8 year-old-boy.
"You'll find Jesus there," the boy said.
The surgeon continued, "I'll open your heart and check the damage."
"You'll find Jesus there," the boy said.
"When I see the damage, I will suture you back up and then think about the next step," said the surgeon.
"You will find Jesus in my heart because my Sunday school teacher told me so. She said it says so in the Bible. Besides that, our Sunday school songs say He lives there," said the boy.
The surgery took place the next day. After the surgery the surgeon began to make notes of what he found. In his mind there was no hope and no cure. The little boy would die within a matter of months.
The thought began to get to the doctor and all of a sudden the doctor shouted to God, "Why did you do this to the boy? Why can't he live a normal life?"
God spoke to the surgeon's heart and said, "The boy is a part of my flock and will always be a part of my flock. When he is with me there will be no more suffering and pain. He will have comfort and peace. One day his parents as well as you will join him and my flock will continue to grow."
The next day the surgeon went to the boy's room and sat down with the parents beside the bed.
In a moment or two, the boy opened his eyes and asked very quietly, "What did you find in my heart?"
With tears flowing down his cheeks, the surgeon said, "I found Jesus there."
1 Peter 4:10-4:10
1 Peter 4:1-4:11
1 Peter 4:8-4:8
1 Timothy 2:1-2:10
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO PRAY
I heard a story of a ship that was sinking in the middle of a storm, and the captain called out to the crew and said, "Does anyone here know how to pray?"
One man stepped forward and said, "Yes sir, I know how to pray."
The captain said, "Wonderful, you pray while the rest of us put on life jackets--we're one short."
Author unknown. Taken from pastorlife.com.
A LITTLE GIRLíS PRAYER
One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do she died, leaving us with a tiny premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator) and no special feeding facilities.
Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. "And it is our last hot water bottle!" she exclaimed.
As in the West it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.
"All right," I said, "Put the baby as near the fire as you safely can; sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm."
The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died.
During the prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. "Please, God," she prayed, "send us a water bottle. Itíll be no good tomorrow, God, as the babyíll be dead, so please send it this afternoon."
While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added by way of corollary, "And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so sheíll know You really love her?"
As often with childrenís prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, "Amen"? I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything. The Bible says so. But there are limits, arenít there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home; anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!
Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nursesí training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the veranda, was a large twenty-two pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box.
From the top, I lifted out brightly colored, knitted jerseys; eyes sparkled as I pulled them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas --- that would make a nice batch of buns for the week...
Bishop Lalachan Abraham
GOD PURSUES YOU
God is constantly initiating and seeking man to come to him.
Malcolm Muggeridge, socialist and philosophical author, wrote, "I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued."
C.S. Lewis said he remembered, "...night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England."
Lewis went on to write a book titled, "Surprised by Joy" as a result of knowing God.
A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.
As I grew up, I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of God. Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening.
He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies, and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didnít seem to mind but sometimes Mom would quietly get upówhile the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway placesóand go to her room and read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave. My Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them.
Profanity was not allowed in our houseónot from us, our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge, the stranger was never confronted. Dad didnít permit alcohol in his home. But the stranger enlightened us to other ways of life. He often offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished.
He talked freely about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.
I believe it was only by the grace of God the stranger did not influence us even more. Time after time he opposed my parentsí values. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave. More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive.
But if I were to walk into my parentsí home today, I would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name? We always called him TV.
Sermon Central Staff
WHOSE HANDS ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR?
"A Thanksgiving Day editorial in the newspaper told of a school teacher who asked her first graders to draw a picture of something they were thankful for. She thought of how little these children from pour neighborhoods actually had to be thankful for. But she knew that most of them would draw pictures of turkeys on tables with food. The teacher was taken aback with the picture Douglas handed in... a simple childishly drawn hand.
"But whose hand? This class was captivated by the abstract image. 'I think it must be the hand of God that brings us food,' said one child. 'A farmer,' said another, 'because he grows the turkeys.' Finally when the others were back at work the teacher bent over Douglas's desk and asked whose hand it was. 'It's your hand, Teacher,' he mumbled.
"She recalled that frequently at recess she had taken Douglas, a scrubby forlorn child, by the hand. She often did that with the children. But it meant so much to Douglas. 'Perhaps this is everyone's Thanksgiving, not for the material things given to us, but for the chance, in whatever small way, to give to others,' she thought"
(Author Unknown, Stories from the Heart (Multnomah Books: Sisters, Oregon, 1996), 52). From a sermon by Eric Lenhart, Helping Hands, 8/12/2010
GOING NO WHERE FAST
In his book "Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life", the author Charles Swindoll tells a story about the 19th Century agnostic Thomas Huxley (some of you might know that it was Huxley who promoted Darwinism and Humanism in his attacks on Christianity). Huxley was in Dublin and was rushing to catch a train. He climbed aboard one of Dublinís famous horse drawn taxis and said to the driver -"Hurry, Iím almost late ... drive fast". Off they went at a furious pace and Huxley sat back in his seat and closed his eyes. After a while Huxley opened his eyes and glanced out the window to notice that they were going in the wrong direction. Realizing that he hadnít told the driver where to take him he called out Ďdo you know wher...
Sermon Central Staff
THE HARVEST IS RIPE
The Harvest is ripe -- Here's proof:
Wycliffe: Vision 2025
Translation projects started in every language on the planet by 2025.
In "The Faith Equation," Dr. Marvin Bittinger, Professor of Mathematics at Purdue University and author of over 175 college math textbooks, claims that by 2033 every person on the planet capable of understanding the gospel will have been presented the gospel, according to modern evangelism trends.
34,000 converts each day in South America
28-37,000 Chinese converts daily
23-25,000 African converts daily
16,000 Muslims come to Christ daily - the following stories are all quoted.
"In December 2001, Sheikh Ahmad al Qataani, a leading Saudi cleric, appeared on a live interview on Aljazeera satellite television to confirm that, sure enough, Muslims were turning to Jesus in alarming numbers. "In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity," Al Qataani warned. "Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity." Stunned, the interviewer interrupted the cleric. "Hold on! Let me clarify. Do we have six million converting from Islam to Christianity?" Al Qataani repeated his assertion. "Every year," the cleric confirmed, adding, "a tragedy has happened."
Stories from Muslim countries: Iraq -- thousands of new Christians since Saddam was overthrown, many new churches started, Egypt -- some reports say 1 million Egyptians have trusted Christ over the past decade or so. The Egyptian Bible Society used to sell about 3,000 copies of the JESUS film a year in the early 1990s. But last year they sold 600,000 copies, plus 750,000 copies of the Bible on tape (in Arabic) and about a half million copies of the Arabic New Testament. The largest Christian congregation in the Middle East, meets in an enormous cave on the outskirts of Cairo. Some 10,000 believers worship there every weekend. A prayer conference the church held in May 2005 drew some 20,000 believers, Afghanistan -- only 17 Muslim converts to Christianity before 9/11/01, but now more than 10,000, Kazakstan -- only 3 known Christians in 1990, but now more than 15,000, Sudan -- more than 1 million Sudanese have converted to Christianity just since 2000, and some 5 million have become Christians since the early 1990s, despite a radical Islamic regime and an on-going genocide that has killed more than 200,000.
Seminaries are being held in caves to train pastors to shepherd the huge numbers of people coming to Christ. Why such a dramatic spiritual awakening? "People have seen real Islam, and they want Jesus instead," one Sudanese evangelical leader said, Iran -- in 1979, there were only 500 known Muslim converts to Christianity, but today Iranian pastors and evangelical leaders say there are more than 1 million Iranian believers in Jesus Christ, most of whom meet in underground house churches. One of the most dramatic developments is that many Muslims are seeing dreams and visions of Jesus and thus coming into churches explaining that they have already converted and now need a Bible and guidance on how to follow Jesus."
Worldwide: 174,000 converts daily -- David B. Barret and Todd M. Johnson of the Global Evangelism Movement.
This is truly the most exciting time in all of history to be alive and a part of His Great Commission. The opportunity has never been more dramatic and the need has never been so huge:
All of history has built up to this point.
Global impact in your hometown.
Transportation and communication impacts.
Current end time events.
Israel, wars and other events.
The 4th qtr., bottom of the 9th, the end-game.
(From a sermon by Nate Herbst, The Great Commision -- Discussion, 11/21/2009)
T. Ray Cole
PARABLE OF THE CANDLES
There was a blackout one night. When the lights went out, I fumbled to the closet where we keep the candles for nights like this ... I lit four of them. I was turning to leave with the large candle in my hand when I heard a voice,
"Now, hold it right there."
"Who said that?"
"I did." The voice was near my hand.
"Who are you? What are you?"
"I'm a candle."
I lifted up the candle to take a closer look. There was a tiny face in the wax. "Don't take me out of here!"
"I said, Don't take me out of this room."
"What do you mean? I have to take you out. You're a candle. Your job is to give light. It's dark out there."
"But you can't take me out. I'm not ready," the candle explained with pleading eyes. "I need more preparation."
I couldn't believe my ears. "More preparation?"
"Yeah, I've decided I need to research this job of light-giving so I won't go out and make a bunch of mistakes. You'd be surprised how distorted the glow of an untrained candle can be..."
"All right then," I said. "You're not the only candle on the shelf. I'll blow you out and take the others!"
But right then I heard other voices, "We aren't going either!"
I turned to the other candles, "You are candles and your job is to light dark places!"
"Well, that may be what you think," said the first one, "You may think we have to go, but I'm busy ... I'm meditating on the importance of light. It's really enlightening."
"And you other two," I asked, "Are you going to stay, too?"
A short, fat, purple candle with plump cheeks spoke up. "I'm waiting to get my life together, I'm not stable enough."
The last candle had a female voice, very pleasant to the ear. "I'd like to help, "she explained, "but lighting the darkness is not my gift ... I'm a singer. I sing to other candles to encourage them to burn more brightly."
She began a rendition of "This Little Light of Mine." The other three joined in, filling the closet with singing.
I took a step back and considered the absurdity of it all. Four perfectly healthy candles singing to each other about light but refusing to come out of the closet.
Here is a question for you--when was the last time you shared the gospel to someone? This world is full of darkness, with many people stumbling around trying to find their way. You can be a light for them, and believe me, there's a light waiting for you. It can all happen with something as sharing the faith, to just a smile across the room, to a quick hello to a forgotten friend. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE BEFORE MEN THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS, AND GLORIFY YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN." Matthew 5:14-16
- Author unknown