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H. YOU HAVE PROBABLY HEARD THE OLD STORY ABOUT THE LATE, GREAT DR. A. J. GORDON, A FAMOUS PREACHER FROM ENGLAND WHO CAME TO A VERY DEAD, DULL, FORMAL, CHURCH IN DOWNTOWN BOSTON, MASS. I. HE WAS A FIERY PREACHER, WHO REFUSED TO WEAR A ROBE, WHICH WAS MANDATORY IN THAT CHURCH AND HE PREACHED “JESUS” TO THOSE PEOPLE WITH SUCH FERVOR, THEY SAT OUT THERE SHELL-SHOCKED, AND AFTER A MONTH, THEY WERE READY TO FIRE DR. GORDON. J. ONE SUNDAY HE PREACHED A SERMON CALLED “THE FUNERAL OF THE CHURCH” AND THIS IS WHAT HE SAID, “ECCLESIASTICAL CORPSES LIE ALL AROUND US. THE CASKETS IN WHICH THEY REPOSE ARE LINED WITH SATIN AND ARE DECORATED WITH SOLID SILVER HANDLES AND ABUNDANT FLOWERS. LIKE ALL CASKETS THEY ARE JUST LARGE ENOUGH FOR THEIR OCCUPANTS WITH NO ROOM FOR CONVERTS. THESE CHURCHES HAVE DIED FROM THE DISEASE OF FORMALISM AND HAVE BEEN EMBALMED IN COMPLACENCY. IF BY THE GRACE OF GOD THIS CHURCH HAS ANY LIFE LEFT IN HER, I WARN YOU THAT THOSE THAT BURIED THY SISTER CHURCHES WILL BE AT THY DOOR TO CARRY THEE OUT, BECAUSE I PREDICT THIS CHURCH, WILL BE DEAD SOON, BECAUSE I HEAR THE DEATH RATTLE” M. AFTER HE PREACHED THAT SERMON, SIX MEN CAME THROUGH THE BACK DOORS CARRYING A CASKET, AND HE HAD THEM PUT IT AT THE FRONT OF THE CHURCH AND OPEN IT AND THEN HE ASKED EVERYBODY IN THE CHURCH TO WALK BY AND SEE THEIR DEAD CHURCH. O. AS THEY WALKED BY, THEY LOOKED IN THE CASKET AND YOU GUESSED IT–THEY WERE LOOKING AT THEMSELVES, IN A MIRROR
. I REMEMBER AS A BOY GOING WITH MY GRAND DAD TO AN OLD GRIST MILL ON THEN SALADO CREEK, WITH A BIG WATERWHEEL THAT TURNED WITH THE WATER FROM THE CREEK. I. GRAND DAD WENT THERE TO HAVE HIS CORN GROUND INTO CORN MEAL AND ONE MORNING WE DROVE TO THE MILL AND THE WATERWHEEL WAS NOT TURNING BECAUSE THERE WAS ONLY A SLIGHT TRICKLE OF WATER. J. THE MILLER KNEW THERE WAS A PROBLEM UPSTREAM, BECAUSE THERE WASN’T ENOUGH WATER TO TURN THE BIG WHEEL, SO HE AND GRANDAD WALKED UP THE CREEK, 1. UNTIL THEY FOUND THE DEBRIS THAT HAD DAMMED UP THE WATER. 2. DID YOU KNOW THAT’S TRUE SPIRITUALLY?? K. IF THERE IS SOMETHING HAYWIRE IN YOUR LIFE, YOU NEED TO GO UPSTREAM AND CLEAR AWAY THE DEBRIS, LIKE JEALOUSY, MEDIOCRITY, IMMATURITY AND SOUR ATTITUDES, SO THERE WILL BE POWER IN YOUR LIFE AGAIN
A youth minister was attending a Special Olympics where handicapped children competed with tremendous dedication & enthusiasm. One event was the 220-yard dash, Contestants lined up at the starting line, & at the signal, started running as fast as they could. One boy by the name of Andrew quickly took the lead, & was soon about 50 yards ahead of everybody else. As he approached the final turn he looked back & saw that his best friend had fallen & hurt himself on the track. Andrew stopped & looked at the finish line. Then he looked back at his friend. People were hollering, "Run, Andrew, run" But he didn’t. He went back & got his friend, helped him up, brushed off the cinders. And hand in hand, they crossed the finish line dead last. But as they did, the people cheered, because there are some things more important than winning. My goal as your Pastor is to develop not just a winning attitude, but a caring attitude. Because if we care, we win.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13:8
CYMBALA'S EASTER STORY
Jim Cymbala preaches at a church in the slums of New York. He tells the following story: It was Easter Sunday and I was so tired at the end of the day that I just went to the edge of the platform, pulled down my tie and sat down and draped my feet over the edge. It was a wonderful service with many people coming forward. The counselors were talking with these people.
As I was sitting there I looked up the middle aisle, and there in about the third row was a man who looked about fifty, disheveled, filthy. He looked up at me rather sheepishly, as if saying, “Could I talk to you?”
We have homeless people coming in all the time, asking for money or whatever. So as I sat there, I said to myself, though I am ashamed of it, “What a way to end a Sunday. I’ve had such a good time, preaching and ministering, and here’s a fellow probably wanting some money for more wine.”
He walked up. When he got within about five feet of me, I smelled a horrible smell like I’d never smelled in my life. It was so awful that when he got close, I would inhale by looking away, and then I’d talk to him, and then look away to inhale, because I couldn’t inhale facing him. I asked him, “What’s your name?”
“How long have you been on the street?”
“How old are you?”
“Thirty-two.” He looked fifty--hair matted; front teeth missing; wino; eyes slightly glazed.
“Where did you sleep last night, David?”
I keep in my back pocket a money clip that also holds some credit cards. I fumbled to pick one out thinking; I’ll give him some money. I won’t even get a volunteer. They are all busy talking with others. Usually we don’t give money to people. We take them to get something to eat.
I took the money out. David pushed his finger in front of me. He said, “I don’t want your money. I want this Jesus, the One you were talking about, because I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die on the street.”
I completely forgot about David, and I started to weep for myself. I was going to give a couple of dollars to someone God had sent to me. See how easy it is? I could make the excuse I was tired. There is no excuse. I was not seeing him the way God sees him. I was not feeling what God feels.
But oh, did that change! David just stood there. He didn’t know what was happening. I pleaded with God, “God, forgive me! Forgive me! Please forgive me. I am so sorry to represent You this way. I’m so sorry. Here I am with my message and my points, and You send somebody and I am not ready for it. Oh, God!”
Something came over me. Suddenly I started to weep deeper, and David began to weep. He fell against my chest as I was sitting there. He fell against my white shirt and tie, and I put my arms around him, and there we wept on each other. The smell of His person became a beautiful aroma. Here is what I thought the Lord made real to me: If you don’t love this smell, I...
Sermon Central Staff
QUOTATIONS ON HOPE
Malcolm Muggeridge was a very famous and highly respected British journalist who for many years was an ardent atheist. His opinions and thoughts were coveted by American publishers and he occasionally wrote the editorial page for Time magazine. Toward the end of his illustrious career as the Dean of British broadcasters, he became a Christian.
Several years ago he was a guest at a breakfast in Washington, D.C. where he shared his life story. When he had finished his testimony, he made a number of comments about world affairs, all of which were very pessimistic. One of those present asked, "Dr. Muggeridge, you have been very pessimistic. Don't you have any reason for optimism?" He replied, "I could not be more optimistic than I am, because my hope is in Jesus Christ alone."
He allowed that remark to settle in for a few seconds, and then he added," Just think if the apostolic church had pinned its hopes on the Roman Empire!"(Halverson/ The Living Body)
Immanuel Kant, said that there are three questions that everyone asks:
"What can I know?"
"What shall I do?"
"For what shall I hope?"
Ravi Zacharias said, "Hope is that indispensable element that makes the present so important. Significantly, the absence of future hope has an amazing capacity to reach into the present and eat away at the structure of life, as termites would a giant foundation."
Dr. Emil Brunner said, "What oxygen is for the lungs, such is hope for the meaning of human life." Take oxygen away and death occurs through suffocation, take hope away and humanity is constricted through lack of breath; despair and hopelessness set it."
From a sermon by Dan Cormie, Getting to Know Him 2, 11/24/2010
Dr. Larry Petton
TEARING DOWN THE NAME OF JESUS
When I was in college at Dallas Baptist University, I drove through Dallas on the way to my classes. I would always see a huge sign of a dynamic church in the area that said, "Lifting Up the Name of Jesus!" It was very impressive.
One day while I was driving to school, I noticed that workers were tearing down the church sign. As I drove by, I saw the name of Jesus being ripped off the advertising board. It hit me so hard. I think it was a God moment. I thought to myself, "Lord, is this what we are doing in the Church today? Are we tearing down the Name of Jesus by our mediocre lives? You have lifted His Name above all names so high for the world to see. God help me and help every one in the Body of Christ to be a good advertisement so that others may see Jesus and not us."
It was a moment that I have never forgotten.
The Spirit of Power that we receive is not like the human power that we recognize as strong. It’s a power unlike anything we can do on our own.
A young man growing up in the wrong part of Houston became a bully. He would get in fights in school, in the neighborhood, and began mugging people to get spending money. He even beat up people just for the sake of doing it.
He learned to box, and became pretty good at it. He began to make a lot of money and could have almost anything he wanted. One day, during his training session for an upcoming bout, he heard his mom talking to his sister on the telephone about his favorite nephew. The young boy had had a seizure and now lay in a coma in the hospital. Doctors said he would probably die, but that if he came out of the coma he wouldn’t be able to move his limbs, or speak, or do any of the human functions we consider part of living.
He ran into the room where his mom was on the phone and shouted, “Momma, call the hospital and tell those doctors to give him the best of everything. Tell them I’ll take care of all the bills, to fly in the best doctors from wherever they have to. Tell them who I am, and that I’ll take care of everything — whatever it costs.”
His mom spoke to the doctors, and then told him, “Son, you’re just going to have to pray.”
He realized then how grave the situation was. When someone tells you the only thing you can do is pray, things are looking pretty bad.
Then it hit him. All of his money, his fame, his influence, his friends — none of that could solve this problem. It was out of his hands, out of the doctor’s hands, out of everyone’s hands. For the first time, he was totally powerless.
And for the first time, George Foreman dropped to his knees and prayed.
He wasn’t sure God existed, but he knew that when all else failed, people prayed. He asked God, if he really existed, to help his nephew. Then he got back in bed. A few seconds later, he got back on his knees and offered to give up all his wealth if God would heal his nephew. Then he got back in bed again. A few seconds later he got back on his knees a third time and got angry at God for letting this happen to his nephew, a child who hadn’t experienced life yet. George told God to take his life instead. Let the boy live and take George’s life instead.
The next morning George’s sister called from the hospital. His nephew had woken up and could move his eyes, but the doctors said he wouldn’t ever walk again.
She called later that day, and the boy had begun moving his toes. The next day the boy was talking, and a week later he was on his way home, “walking, talking, and back to normal.” The doctors had no logical explanation. But George Foreman knew God had just given him a miracle.
Three months later in March 1977, George Foreman died in his locker room after fighting Jimmy Young. He collapsed in a heap, and entered what he describes as “a deep, dark void, like a bottomless pit.”
In his book, God in My Corner — A Spiritual Memoir, George wrote “I knew I was dead, and that this wasn’t heaven. I was terrified, knowing I had no way out. Sorrow beyond description engulfed my soul, more than anyone could ever imagine. If you multiplied every disturbing and frightening thought that you’ve ever had during your entire life, that wouldn’t come close to the panic I felt. …
“ I screamed with every ounce of strength in me, ‘I don’t care if this is death. I still believe in God.’
“Instantly, what seemed to be like a giant hand reached down and snatched me out of the terrifying place. Immediately, I was back inside my body in the dressing room.”
George accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and devoted himself to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. He realized his human power, his money, his prestige, were worthless in the next life, and meant to be used as tools to lead others to Jesus during this one.
He went on to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World twice. He was ordained as an evangelist in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and became pastor of a small church. He also became involved in prison and hospital ministries.
You probably know him best for the George Foreman Grills that continue to sell around the world. And he recently baptized his own 23-year-old daughter who finally decided to dedicated her own life to Jesus.
That’s God’s idea of power.
AN EASTER PARABLE: EDITH EASTER
Edith Burns was a wonderful Christian who lived in San Antonio, Texas. She was the patient of a doctor by the name of Will Phillips. Dr. Phillips was a gentle doctor who saw patients as people. His favorite patient was Edith Burns. One morning he went to his office with a heavy heart and it was because of Edith Burns.
When he walked into that waiting room, there sat Edith with her big black Bible in her lap earnestly talking to a young mother sitting beside her.
Edith Burns had a habit of introducing herself in this way: "Hello, my name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?" Then she would explain the meaning of Easter, and many times people would be saved. Dr. Phillips walked into that office and there he saw the head nurse, Beverly. Beverly had first met Edith when she was taking her blood pressure. Edith began by saying, "My name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?" Beverly said, "Why yes I do." Edith said, "Well, what do you believe about Easter?" Beverly said, "Well, it's all about egg hunts, going to church, and dressing up." Edith kept pressing her about the real meaning of Easter, and finally led her to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Phillips said, "Beverly, don't call Edith into the office quite yet. I believe there is another delivery taking place in the waiting room."
After being called back in the doctor's office, Edith sat down and when she took a look at the doctor she said, "Dr. Will, why are you so sad? Are you reading your Bible? Are you praying?" Dr. Phillips said gently, "Edith, I'm the doctor and you're the patient." With a heavy heart he said, "Your lab report came back and it says you have cancer, and Edith, you're not going to live very long." Edith said, "Why Will Phillips, shame on you. Why are you so sad? Do you think God makes mistakes? You have just told me I'm going to see my precious Lord Jesus, my husband, and my friends. You have just told me that I am going to celebrate Easter forever, and here you are having difficulty giving me my ticket!" Dr. Phillips thought to himself, "What a magnificent woman this Edith Burns is!"
Edith continued coming to Dr. Phillips. Christmas came and the office was closed through January 3rd. On the day the office opened, Edith did not show up. Later that afternoon, Edith called Dr. Phillips and said she would have to be moving her story to the hospital and said, "Will, I'm very near home, so would you make sure that they put women in here next to me in my room who need to know about Easter."
Well, they did just that and women began to come in and share that room with Edith. Many women were saved. Everybody on that floor from staff to patients were so excited about Edith, that they started calling her Edith Easter; that is everyone except Phyllis Cross, the head nurse. Phyllis made it plain that she wanted nothing to do with Edith because she was a "religious nut". She had been a nurse in an army hospital. She had seen it all and heard it all. She was the original G.I. Jane. She had been married three times, she was hard, cold, and did everything by the book.
One morning the two nurses who were to attend to Edith were sick. Edith had the flu and Phyllis Cross had to go in and give her a shot. When she walked in, Edith had a big smile on her face and said, "Phyllis, God loves you and I love you, and I have been praying for you." Phyllis Cross said, "Well, you can quit praying for me, it won't work. I'm not interested." Edith said, "Well, I will pray and I have asked God not to let me go home until you come into the family." Phyllis Cross said, "Then you will never die because that will never happen," and curtly walked out of the room.
Every day Phyllis Cross would walk into the room and Edith would say, "God loves you Phyllis and I love you, and I'm praying for you." One day Phyllis Cross said she was literally drawn to Edith's room like a magnet would draw iron. She sat down on the bed and Edith said, "I'm so glad you have come, because God told me that today is your special day." Phyllis Cross said, "Edith, you have asked everybody here the question, 'Do you believe in Easter?' but you have never asked me." Edith said, "Phyllis, I wanted to many times, but God told me to wait until you asked, and now that you have asked..."
Edith Burns took her Bible and shared with Phyllis Cross the Easter Story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Edith said, "Phyllis, do you believe in Easter? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is alive and that He wants to live in your heart?" Phyllis Cross said, "Oh I want to believe that with all of my heart, and I do want Jesus in my life." Right there, Phyllis Cross prayed and invited Jesus Christ into her heart. For the first time Phyllis Cross did not walk out of a hospital room, s...
Sermon Central Staff
THE MISSION OF DAVID LIVINGSTONE
The modern missionary movement really got started about 150 years ago with people who were concerned about the continent of Africa. There was a Scottish preacher by the name of Robert Moffatt who was serving in South Africa. He returned to Scotland to try to enlist more missionaries. On a cold, rainy night, he went into a little church in Scotland. To his dismay, the only people in the service that night were women. Back in those days, women didn't go alone to the mission field. He started to cancel his message, because there were no prospective missionaries there, but instead he preached to them about the need for the Lord of the harvest to send forth more laborers. He made this statement, "Every morning when I get up and look at the horizon, I see the smoke from a thousand villages where the name of Christ has never been heard."
Robert Moffatt didn't know there was a teenager in that service. He was hidden up in the organ loft where his job was to pump the bellows for the pipe organ. This teenage boy, standing up in the organ chamber, heard every word he said, and he was haunted by that phrase, "The smoke from a thousand villages where the name of Christ has never been heard." So this young man decided he would become a missionary. His name, by the way, was David Livingstone.
He became a medical doctor and went to Africa. He was not content to stay in South Africa, where there were few native Africans; instead he explored the inner continent. He was a great missionary and a great explorer. He was the first white man to traverse the continent of Africa from east to west. He discovered Victoria Falls. He traveled over 29,000 miles and mapped one million square miles of previously uncharted territory.
When David Livingstone first began his ministry there, some of the native tribes opposed him. One particular warlike tribe said they were going to kill him and everyone in his party. One afternoon as they were setting up camp, word was out that these warriors had been tracking him all day, and they were outside the camp and they were going to attack and kill everyone when it got dark. I have the words David Livingstone wrote in his journal that night on January 14, 1856.
"It is evening. I feel much turmoil and fear in the prospect of having all of my plans knocked on the head by savages who are just now outside the camp." Those who studied his handwriting said you could even see the fear in the way he wrote the letters. He wrote, "But Jesus said, 'All power is given unto me in heaven and earth, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the ends of the earth.'" Livingstone wrote, "This is the word of a gentleman of most strict and sacred honor, so that's the end of my fear. I feel quiet and calm now." Even his letters are straight now.
They didn't attack that night. Later the tribe was brought to faith in Christ. A couple of years later, David Livingstone asked the chief of the tribe, "Do you remember the night you were tracking my party?"
"We had heard rumors you were going to attack us."
The chief said, "That's right, we were ready to attack the camp that night and kill you and everyone else."
David Livingstone asked, "Why didn't you attack?"
The chief said, "When we got close to the camp, we looked and saw 47 warriors surrounding your camp with swords in their hands."
David Livingstone was baffled. They didn't have any guards, any warriors.
Later when he was on furlough in Scotland, he shared this story at a church that was supporting him. A man came up to him afterwards with his prayer journal. He said, "Look, I wrote it down, January 14, 1856, was that the night?" David Livingstone said, "Yes." The man said, "That night a group of men came to pray for you. We prayed for your protection. I wrote it down. There were 47 men praying that night for you."
David Livingstone got so immersed into the Dark Continent most people thought he was dead because they had not heard from him for years. The New York Times hired Henry Stanley, an explorer, to search out Africa and find him. Finally Henry Stanley ventured in on this one camp, and there was the only white man for miles and miles around. In that classic statement, he walked up to David Livingstone and said, "Mr. Livingstone, I presume?"
Henry Stanley was a journalist, not a Christian, but he developed a friendship with Livingstone and was led to Christ. I love what Stanley said about Livingstone. "He converted me to Christ, and he wasn't even trying to do so." What a mark of a Christian man.
Stanley tried to get Livingstone to return back to civilization to receive medical treatment, but he refused. He wrote, "I am a missionary, heart and soul. God had only one son, and he was a missionary and a physician. A poor, poor imitation of him I am, or wish to be. In this service I hope to live; in it I wish to die."
Some of you, have been to London, England and perhaps have toured Westminster Cathedral. There in the floor David Livingstone, this great missionary explorer, is buried. What few people know is that that's just his body. His heart is not buried there, because not long after Stanley left, when Livingstone was 60 years old, the people in his camp heard a noise in his tent and went in at 3 a.m. There was Livingstone on his knees in prayer, dead. According to his wishes and his written instructions, his heart was removed from his body, and his heart was buried in Africa. Because, he said, "My heart has always been here, and this is where I want my heart to stay." They shipped his body back, and it is buried in Westminster Cathedral, but his heart will always be buried in Africa.
(From a sermon by Bob Joyce, Putting Your Heart Where Your Money Is, 8/4/2011)
During construction of Emerson Hall at Harvard University, president Charles Eliot invited psychologist and philosopher William James to suggest a suitable inscription for the stone lintel over the doors of the new home of the philosophy department. After some reflection, James sent Eliot a line from the Greek philosopher Protagoras: "Man is the measure of all things." James never heard back from Eliot, so his curiosity was piqued when he spotted artisans working on a scaffold hidden by a canvas. One morning the scaffold and canvas were gone. The inscription? "What is man that thou art mindful of him?" Eliot had replaced James’s suggestion with words from the Psalmist. Between these two lines lies the great distance between the God-centered and the human-centered points of view.