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In his best selling book called, "Into Thin Air," Jon Krakauer relates the hazards that plagued some climbers as they attempted to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Andy Harris, one of the expedition leaders stayed at the peak too long and on his descent, he became in dire need of oxygen. Harris radioed the base camp and told them about his predicament. He mentioned that he had come across a cache of oxygen canisters left by the other climbers but they were all empty. The climbers who already passed the canisters on their own descent knew they were not empty, but full. They pleaded with him on the radio to make use of them but it was to no avail. Harris was starved for oxygen but he continued to argue that the canisters were empty.
The problem was that the lack of what he needed had so disoriented his mind that though he was surrounded by something that would give him life, he continued to complain of its absence. The lack of oxygen had ravaged his capacity to recognize what was right in front of him.
Friends, what oxygen is to the body, the Bread of Life is to the soul. Some of us are suffocating and starving and we don’t even know it. Jesus is offering life to us while we run around trying to appease our appetites. We will never be filled until we take of the Bread and Water of life, Jesus Christ.
Sermon Central Staff
ATTITUDE NOT APTITUDE
Jesus' message here is that everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. Dave Stone says that "service is the language of grace."
One day a couple of church members were out distributing loaves of bread in a low-income housing complex. They came to an apartment where they heard arguing through the door, but they decided to knock anyway. A man opened the door and asked what they wanted. One of the visitors said, "We don't want anything. We just wondered if you know anyone who could use some loaves of bread?"
"Why are you doing that?" the man asked.
"Just to let people know that God loves them."
"What did you just say?" the man asked, rather anxiously.
"We're just handing out loaves of bread to let people know that God loves them."
The man stared and said, "I can't believe this. We just buried our three-week-old son yesterday, and now here you are at our door."
The visitors offered to pray with them, and the couple accepted their offer. As they were leaving, and the door was being closed, they heard the husband say to his wife, "See, honey? I told you God cares. We thought he wasn't paying attention to us, but he sent those people here to make sure we knew."
Too many people make excuses as to why they can't serve. Can you bake a cake? Can you cook some food item? Can you cut someone's grass? Can you call people and give them an encouraging word? Can you do housework? Can you do handy work? Can you donate anything of value? Can you stop along your way and give a smile? Can you take an interest in someone else's life?
The big thing is that you have to be ready to serve. You have to open your eyes and your ears to the needs of others. 1 Pet. 4:10 -- "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."
(From a sermon by Michael Luke, The Demonstration Factor, 5/5/2011)
‘Twas the month after Christmas, and all through the house, nothing would fit me, not even a blouse.
The cookies I’d nibbled, the fudge I did taste, all the holiday parties had gone to my waist.
When I got on the scales there arose such a number! When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber).
I remembered the marvelous meals I’d prepared, the gravies and sauces and beef nicely rare.
The pies and the cakes, the bread and the cheese, and the way I never said, "No thank you please."
As I dressed myself in my husband’s old shirt, and prepared once again to do battle with dirt---
I said to myself, as I only can "You can’t spend the winter disguised as a man!"
So away with the last of the sour cream dip, get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip.
Every last bit of food that I like must be banished, ‘till all the additional ounces have vanished.
I won’t have a cookie, not even a lick, I’ll want only to chew on a long celery stick.
I won’t have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie, I’ll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.
I’m hungry, I’m lonesome, and life is a bore --- But isn’t that what January is for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot ... Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet!
REMEMBERING JOSEPH BAU--COMMUNION MEDITATION
When someone dies, we remember—we remember all the stories that filled their life. Last week a man named Joseph Bau died. It’s a name you probably don’t know, but a story worth hearing.
Joseph Bau was born on June 18, 1920, in Krakow, Poland. He became a young man just in time to experience the German invasion of Poland. He was one of three boys in a prosperous middle-class family that lived in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods. Joseph had always been good at art, and at the age of 18, he enrolled in the University of Plastic Arts at Krakow.
But the war interrupted his studies. His family was forced to move to the Jewish Ghetto, and then later to the Plaschow concentration camp. Because of Joseph’s partial education in Art before the war, and because of his talent for Gothic lettering, the Nazis employed him in producing maps and signs for the camp.
Joseph’s job also enabled him to save more than 400 Jews by forging false documents and identity papers that secured their release from the camp. When asked after the war, why he did not forge documents for himself, he replied, “Then who would have done it for the other Jews?”
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, we hear a similar question, “He saved others; He cannot save himself?” And Jesus answers, “What shall ...
About 25 years ago, Cruz and Debbe Santiago met at Coney Island beach in New York City. They were homeless. They were addicted to drugs. They were experimenting with witchcraft. They were involved in gangs. They lived in the meager shelter underneath the Coney Island boardwalk. That was their home, except when they were in jail. Jail was their second home—their home away from home.
Then, one evening when Debbe was in jail, something happened. It was a little thing—such a little thing that you wouldn’t think it would make a big difference—but it did. The little thing that made a big difference was a Bible. A jail matron handed Debbe a Bible.
What about that matron? Did she expect her two-dollar Bible to make a difference? She had given Bibles to prisoners before. She had seen them leave without changing. She probably felt like you and I feel sometimes—that we do our best, but nothing happens. Perhaps she still feels that way, because Debbe didn’t change either—not right away.
While she was in jail, Debbe read the Bible. She read it every day. It fascinated her—and what else did she have to do? But then she fell into using drugs again. She ended up in the hospital in a coma. She woke up to the hissing rhythm of the respirator at death’s door. She woke up to the path of death on which she was walking. She had been there before. But this time it was different, because she had been reading the Bible. This time she knew what to do. This time, she asked God to release her from the drugs—and He did. This time, she dedicated her life to Christ—and Christ made the difference.
When she was released from the hospital, Debbe went to the jail to visit Cruz. Cruz noticed the difference. He said, “She was clean. She talked about the Lord. She left me a Bible.” Cruz became a Christian. In 1988, Cruz and Debbe were married.
But there’s more! (If Paul Harvey were telling this story, he would say, “And now the rest of the story!”) The rest of the story is that Cruz and Debbe started the “Salt and the Sea Mission” near Coney Island. They’re helping people just like the people they used to be—homeless, addicted, headed for jail. They preach the gospel. They feed anyone in need—60 on an ordinary day—hundreds at Thanksgiving. They operate a latchkey program. They help 350 children in a nearby welfare hotel. Every Sunday after church, they walked down to the beach—and poke into the secluded places—and give people a piece of bread—and give them the Bread of Life.
All because a jail matron gave a Bible to a junkie. All because a woman kept on handing out Bibles! God will bless our loving service.
It was an unusually cold day for the month of May. Spring had arrived and everything was alive with color. But a cold front from the north had brought winter’s chill back to Indiana. I sat with two friends in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town squire. The food and the company were both especially good that day. As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There,
walking into town, was a man who appeared to be caring all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read "I’ll work for food." My heart sank. I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him.
Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief. We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back into my car. Deep within me, the spirit of God kept speaking to me: "don’t go back to the office until you’ve at least driven once more around the square." And so with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square’s third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the storefront church, going through his sack. I stopped and looked, feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from god: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town’s visitor. Looking for the pastor? I asked. Not really, he replied, just resting. Have you eaten today? Oh, I ate something early this morning. Would you like to have lunch with me? Do you have some work I could do for you? No work, I replied. I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to! Take you to lunch. Sure he replied with a smile. As he began to gather his things, I asked him some surface questions. Where you headed? St. Louis. Where you from? Oh, all over; mostly Florida. I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark and clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, "Jesus is the never ending story." Then Daniel’s story began to unfold. He had seen rough times earl in life. He’d made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a big tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought. He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God. Nothing’s been the same since, he said, I felt the lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now. Ever think of stopping? I asked. Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me. But god has given me this calling. I give out bibles. That’s what’s in my sack. I work to buy food and bibles, and I give them out when the spirit leads. I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a minute and then I asked: what’s it like? What? To walk into town carrying all your things on your back and to show you a sign? Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn’t make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people’s concepts of other folks like me. My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused. He turned and said," come ye blessed of my father and inherit the kingdom I’ve prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in." I felt as if we were on holy ground. Could you use another bible? I asked.
“Passing Through The Shadows!” 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 Key verse(s): 26:“‘For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’.”
“Smile and the world smiles with you! Cry and you cry alone.” Walking through life with a smile on our faces is something to hope for, isn’t it? Life it far too short to be all gloom and sadness. Like the old song says, if you smile you draw crowds. When you cry you draw isolation and loneliness.
From an early age on we are taught not be be gloomy. There’s something about being around a person who is sad that simply repels us. Most of us will resort to nothing less than our best efforts to either avoid the gloom or change it somehow. Recently I returned home from a long day at the office dragging pretty much everything that I had encountered that day behind me. As I slipped in through the garage door into the entry way, so slipped in the meeting that had not gone well, the invoice that turned out to be more than I had planned, and the angry telephone call I had taken. Plop, they landed on the floor right beside my briefcase. Somehow I knew they were still there because even when I tried to refocus my thoughts on home and family, all I could think of was the office. I guess it was pretty evident on my face as I walked into the kitchen, shuffling across the floor in my slippers, mostly looking past my children and wife. They could see it written all over my face. “Had a bad day, huh?” “Yeah, the worst!” And I plunged into a lengthy dissertation on the woes of the day; moving back and forth between diatribe and regret. They had had a great day but now, as they listened to my woes, somehow their days had not been as good as they had thought. In fact, it wasn’t long before they were able to match woe for woe with the “king of woes”. My sorrow had magically become their sorrow. My sorrow like a drop of black ink in water slowly spread its inky murk throughout their clear and sunny day. “Gloom and doom, meet happy and promising!” Like that bothersome gab that grabs your hand and makes it serve as a sort of freeway for their emotions, gloom and doom simply won’t let go until they have poured themselves into you completely.
Carry our sorrow and laying it on others is not a very good idea. Yet, how can one be happy all the time? Isn’t there ever a place for sorrow, at least to balance out the brilliance of the light from time to time? In northern Chile, between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, lies a narrow strip of land where the sun shines every day! Clouds gather so seldom over the valley that one can say, “It almost never rains here!” Morning after morning the sun rises brilliantly over the tall mountains to the east. Each noon it shines brightly overhead, and every evening it brings a picturesque sunset. Although storms are often seen rising high in the mountains, and heavy fog banks hand their gray curtains far over the sea, Old Sol continues to shed his warming rays upon this “favored” and protected strip of territory. One might imagine this area to be an earthly paradise, but is far from that! It is a sterile and desolate wilderness! There are no streams of water, and nothing grows there.
We often long for total sunshine and continuous joy in life, and we desire to avoid the heartache that bring tears to our eyes. Like that sunny, unfertile part of Chile, however, life without clouds and even an occasional downpour would not be productive or challenging. But though showers do come, they will also end, and the sun will shine again. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). (Our Daily Bread.)
Total sunshine in life? Let’s face it. That is never going to happen. In fact, there will always be a proper place for sorrow in life. I’m not talking about the impertinent spreading of your own personal gloom on people. Nobody needs that. No, I’m talking about the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and forgiveness of sins. When Jesus passed the cup to his disciples and broke the bread between his fingers at that last communing supper together, His soul was filled with a kind of sorrow that was truly appropriate and necessary for the moment. His soul was, as Martin Luther put it, “empty, single, and hungry”. His soul was prepared for the task ahead and He was demonstrating to His disciples how that sorrow could and would turn into joy. But first it must pass through the shadows and dwell in the darkness of sin. Here the soul must weep and by that invisible cleansing be able to behold more clearly the land of sweet light and happiness that awaits it if only it can endure the sorrow for but a short time longer. Yes, there is a time for sorrow when we rightly park our joy and walk some distance away from the light toward the shadowland where we find the source of that nagging that is constantly beating upon the doors of our souls. Here we too shall find the emptiness that makes preparation for being filled.
THE BREAD OF COMFORT
In his book entitled God’s Psychiatry, Charles Allen tells this story:
As World War II was drawing to a close, the Allied armies gathered up many hungry orphans. They were placed in camps where they were well-fed. Despite excellent care, they slept poorly. They seemed nervous and afraid. Finally, a psychologist came up with the solution. Each child was given a piece of bread to hold after he was put to bed. This particular piece of bread was just to be held—not eaten. The piece of bread produced wonderful results. The children went to bed knowing instincti...
Sermon Central Staff
When DAVE THOMAS died in early 2002, he left behind more than just thousands of Wendy’s restaurants. He also left a legacy of being a practical, hard-working man who was respected for his down-to-earth values.
Among the pieces of good advice that have outlived the smiling entrepreneur is his view of what Christians should be doing with their lives. Thomas, who as a youngster was influenced for Christ by his grandmother, said that believers should be "roll-up-your-shirt sleeves" Christians.
In his book Well Done, Thomas said, "Roll-up-your-shirtsleeves Christians see Christianity as faith and action. They still make the time to talk with God through prayer, study Scripture with devotion, be super-active in their church and take their ministry to others to spread the Good Word." He went onto say they are "anonymous people who are doing good for Christ may be doing even more good than all the well-known Christians in the world."
That statement has more meat in it than a Wendy’s triple burger. Thomas knew ab out hard work in the restaurant business; and he knew it is vital in the spiritual world also.
Let’s Roll-up-our-shirt sleeves, there is plenty to do.
(Source: Dave Branon, Our Daily Bread. From a sermon by Dennis Davidson, Authentic Faith Works, 10/26/2009)
Sermon Central Staff
"I Just Want Bread"
There was a beggar who came and sat before a baker. "I want bread," he said.
"How wise you are," the baker assured him. "Bread is what you need. And you have come to the right bakery." So he pulled his cookbook down from his shelf and began to tell the beggar all he knew about bread.
He spoke of flour and wheat, of grain and barley. The baker's knowledge impressed even himself as he cited the measurements and recipe. When he looked up, he was surprised to see that the beggar wasn't smiling. "I just want bread," he said.
"How wise you are." The baker applauded his choice. "Follow me, and I'll show you our bakery." Down the hallowed halls he guided him, pausing to point out the rooms where the dough is prepared and the ovens where the bread is baked.
"No one has such facilities. We have bread for every need. But here is the best part," he proclaimed as he pushed open two swinging doors. "This is our room of inspiration."
The baker knew the beggar was moved as they stepped into the auditorium full of stained-glass windows. The beggar didn't speak. The baker understood his silence. With his arm around his shoulder, he whispered, "It overwhelms me as well."
Then the baker leaped to the podium and struck his favorite pose behind the lectern. "People come from miles to hear me speak. Once a week my workers gather, and I read to them the recipe from the cookbook of life."
By now the beggar had taken a seat on the front row. The baker knew what he wanted. "Would you like to hear me?"
"No," he said, "but I would like some bread."
"How wise you are," The baker replied. And he led him to the front door of the bakery. "What I have to say next is very important," he told him as they stood outside. "Up and down this street you will find many bakeries. But take heed; they don't serve the true bread. I know of one who adds two spoons of salt rather than one. I know of another whose oven is three degrees too hot. They may call it bread," the baker warned, "but it's not according to the book."
The beggar turned and began walking away. "Don't you want bread?" the baker asked him. He stopped, looked back, and shrugged, "I guess I lost my appetite."
The baker shook his head and returned to his office. "What a shame," he said to himself. "The world just isn't hungry for true bread anymore."
(From a sermon by Douglas Phillips, I Am The Bread Of Life, 1/25/2010)