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Contributed By:
Todd Leupold
 
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J. Vernon McGee once pointed out:

"Martha believed in a resurrection. But listen, it makes less demand upon faith to believe that in a future day we shall receive glorified bodies than it does to rest now on the assuracne that they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. It is easier to believe that the Lord is coming and the dead will be raised than it is to believe that tomorrow I can live for God. It is so easy to comfort people who are mourning and say, 'Well, you'll see your loved ones someday.' That doesn't take much faith. It takes a lot of faith to say, 'I have just lost my loved one, but I am comforted with the assurance that God is with me and He does all things well.' You see, although Martha knew from the Old Testament that there would be a resurrection from the dead, she didn't believe that Jesus could help her now."

(Source: Thru The Bible, Vol. IV, pg. 439).

 
Contributed By:
Paul Dietz
 
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Friends

The year: 1994. The date: September 22nd. The debut of a new American sitcom: Friends. The plot: Six twenty-somethings, on their own and struggling to survive in the real world, find companionship, comfort and support they get from one another to be the ideal solution to the pressures of life.

Created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman the show became a staple of the NBC Thursday night line-up. It was a huge success during its ten year run, during which all the members of the cast achieved household celebrity status. Actors Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer let us know exactly what the theme song of the series said was definitely true: "I'll be there for you."

The final episode of the show was watched by an estimated US audience of 51.1 million. It still attracts good ratings for its episodes in syndication and is broadcast in one hundred countries. During its ten year run, the show won 6 Emmys, a Golden Globe, 2 SAG Awards and 56 other various awards with 152 nominations.

Friends has definitely made some notable contributions to various areas of our popular culture, particularly in fashion. The sitcom was noted for its great impact on our everyday fashion and hairstyles, especially that of Aniston's hairstyle nicknamed after her character: "The Rachel."

LeBlanc's character, Joey, coined the all familiar catchphrase "How you doin'?" has become a very popular part of our Western English slang and often is used as a pick-up line or when greeting a close friend.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Why did this sitcom become so popular in its time and now still lights up the screens of millions of television sets even yet today? Why had its DVD set sold millions of copies worldwide? Why did we get to know each character personally to the point of knowing not only their successes but also their hardships and failures as well?

I tend to believe it all stems from our inborn instinct to want to have personal relationships with other people and to be able to know them as close friends. We love spending quality time with our friends. We all truly believe and practice the concept of this popular television series: "You can never have enough friends."

 
Contributed By:
Fr Mund Cargill Thompson
 
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MOTHERS LIVE FOR OTHERS

We've got all sorts of people here this morning. One thing we have got a lot of is mothers. Some of you, your children are long grown up. But you have the experience of having been a mother. So? Well, every mother lives her life for another. And that is what the church is meant to be like. As former Archbishop of Cantabury William Temple put it, "The Church is the only society that exists solely for the benefit of it's non-members." Or as Jesus put it "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you"

Every Mother lives her life for another. Those of you who have been mothers - for the love of your child you have been through the excruciating pain of labour. For the love of your child you had yoru sleep broken as you wake to feed your baby and change her nappy. For the love of your child, you have massively reduced your social life - think how much more you used to go out before you had your child than you did when your child was young. For the love of your child, you structured our entire day around things like School drop off and School pick up times. And on top of all the practical things you did for your child, you spent your time constantly thinking about what would be best for her or him. Every mother lives her life for another.

Now, not all of us in this church are mothers. I, for example, have never been a mother. And of course there are other forms of self sacrifice too. But the mothers here are an inspiration to the rest of us. Every mother exists not for her own benefit but for the benefit of her children. We need to put that into practice in a different context. Every mother exists not for her own benefit but for the benefit of her children. We need to learn more and more to exist not for our own benefit but for the benefit of our non-members.

Of course - it's easy to romanticise being a mother. Frequently you will have thought "I don't want to do this", "I don't want to do that", "Do I have to?" - especially when it comes to having your sleep broken in the middle of the night. "Do I have to?" Yet for love of your child, you got out of bed, comforted her, fed her and changed her nappy. For love of your child you did not what you wanted but what was best for her. As a church too, there will frequently be times for each one of us when we say "I don't want to do this", "I don't want to do that", "Do I have to?" yet, if as parents we can do things we don't want because we love our child, then as Christians, for love of God and love of those who haven't yet come to faith, we will do not what we want but what is best for them.

 
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AWL FOR THE GOOD

In 1809, Simon Renee Braille and his wife Monique welcomed their fourth child into the world-- a lively boy named Louis. They lived in a small stone house near Paris where Braille was the local harness maker. Leather working tools are dangerous, so the toddler had been instructed not to go into his father's shop alone.
But when Louis was still small, he slipped into the shop, and with curiosity started to handle all the fascinating tools. As Louis was inspecting an awl, the sharp tool used to punch holes in leather, he slipped and punctured a part of his eye with the tool. The injured eye became infected. The little boy could not keep his hands from rubbing and scratching the wound, and soon the infection spread to his other eye as well. When Louis was only 4, he became completely blind.
Louis was fortunate enough to study at the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris. He excelled as an organist, and at twelve years old began asking the question “How can the blind read?” Over his summer break at home, Louis was determined to find the answer. As He moved and groped around his father’s shop in search of the right tool for his task, the awl presented itself as perfect for the job. The awl would make the raised dots he had seen in the French military system of “night writing.”
And with the very instrument that had blinded him, Louis worked and worked until he had created a syste...

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Contributed By:
Bill Butsko
 
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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."

(author unknown)

 
Contributed By:
Michael McCartney
 
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John Ortberg states:

"The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort. This means that to be a follower of Jesus, you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life. And that’s sobering news to most of us, because we’re into comfort...but water walkers master failure... Did Peter fail?...Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event. Failure is not something that happens to us or a label we attach to things. It is a way we think about outcomes...Did Peter fail? Well, I suppose in a way he did. His faith wasn’t strong enough. His doubts were stronger. 'He saw the wind.' He took his eyes off of where they should have been. He sank. He failed. But here is what I think. I think there were eleven bigger failures sitting in the boat. They failed quietly. They failed privately. Their failure went unnoticed, unobserved, uncriticized. Only Peter knew the shame of the public failure. But only Peter knew two other things as well. Only Peter knew other things as well. Only Peter knew the glory of walking on water. He alone knew what it was to attempt to do what he was not capable of doing on his own, then feeling euphoria of being empowered by God to actually do it. Once you walk on water, you never forget it--not for the rest of your life!"

(Ortberg, If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat, page 21-23).

 
Contributed By:
Ken Pell
 
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MOODY AND THE FILLING OF THE SPIRIT

One of the great preachers in U.S. history is D. L. Moody. He pastored in Chicago and there is still a wonderful Bible College there that bears his name and values. Mr. Moody was a successful minister, but by his own admission, he lacked the power in his ministry. One day two women came up to him after a service. They said, "We have been praying for you."

"Why don't you pray for the people?" he asked.

"Because you need the power of the Spirit," they said.

"I need the power! Why?" said Mr. Moody

In relating the incident years after he writes, "I thought I had power. I had the largest congregation in Chicago, and there were many conversions."

Moody also said that in a sense, he was satisfied. He was in a comfort zone. But these two praying women rocked the boat. They told him that they were praying for an anointing by the Holy Spirit. Mr. Moody could not get this off his mind and he wrote, "There came a great hunger in my soul. I did not know what it was and I began to cry out to God as never before. I felt I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service."

Rev. Moody began crying out for God to fill him. He withdrew, prayed, and sought it over a period of time. He writes the following: "Well, one day, in the city of New York -- oh, what a day! -- I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world."

 
Contributed By:
Martin Dale
 
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OUR COMFORT, OUR HOPE-- COMMUNION MEDITATION

Recently I came across a true story that happened during the Holocaust of the Second World War.

Solomon Rosenberg, his wife and their 2 sons were arrested, together with Rosenburg's mother and father for the crime of being Jews. They were placed in a Nazi concentration camp.

It was a labour camp, and the rules were simple.

"As long as you can do your work, you are permitted to live. When you become too weak to do your work, then you will be exterminated."

Rosenberg watched as his mother and father were marched off to their deaths. He knew that the next would be his youngest son, David - because David had always been a frail child.

Every evening, Rosenberg came back into the barracks after each day of hard labour and searched for the faces of his family. When he found them they would huddle together, embrace one another and thank God for another day of life.

One day Rosenberg came back and didn’t see those familiar faces.

He finally discovered his oldest son, Joshua, in a corner, huddled, weeping and praying. He said, "Josh, tell me it’s not true."

Joshua turned and said, "It is true, Dad. Today David was not strong enough to do his work. So they came for him."

"But where is your mother?" asked Mr. Rosenberg.
"Oh Dad," he said, "When they came for David, he was afraid and he cried. So Mum said, 'There is nothing to be afraid of, David,' and she took his hand and went with him."

That illustrates a mother’s love-- a love so strong that it chooses to give up life so her child can be comforted.

This is also a picture of the sacrificial love Jes...

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Sermon Central Staff
 
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FEAR AND THE DECEITS OF THE HEART

I think Edward Welch chose brilliantly the title for his book on overcoming the fear of man: When People are Big and God is Small. Maybe you can relate to his personal awakening to this problem when he was a high-school senior:

"I had always been shy and self-conscious, controlled by what my peers thought (or might have thought), but I never considered it seriously until the day of the awards assembly. I was up for an award, and I was scared to death I would get it!

"The auditorium bulged with over two thousand high-school juniors and seniors. From the back, where I like to sit, it seemed a good mile or two up to the platform. All I could think of was what my classmates would think of me while I walked to the front. Would I walk funny? Would I trip going up the stairs? Would one person -- I prayed it would not be a girl I liked -- think I was a jerk? What about those who were also nominated or who thought they were deserving? What would they think of me if I won instead of them? What would I ever say for a brief acceptance speech? 'God, please don't let me get this!' I prayed.

"After a number of lesser awards were announced, the vice principal went to the podium to introduce the winner. He began with a short, somewhat cryptic biographical sketch. It did not sound exactly like me, but it was generic enough to fit. I was starting to sweat, but I sat motionless for fear that someone would think I was getting interested. Finally the announcement came: 'And the winner of this year's senior award is...Rick Wilson.

"Rick Wilson! I could not believe it! Of all people. No one even thought he was a candidate!

"You can imagine my reaction. Relief? No way. I felt like a total failure. Now what would people think of me? They knew I was up for the award, and someone else was chosen. What a loser I was.

"Immediately my mind began spinning out justifications. If I had worked at all this year, I would have won. I certainly had the potential, I just didn't want to win. I'm a late bloomer; when I get to college, I will show them. I was ashamed to go back to class. Pitiful, isn't it?"

Dr. Welch describes well the deceit of the heart. Many fear success, for it would put us on display; yet we also fear failure, for then we are shown to be less wonderful than we had hoped. The Bible mentions often this heart-struggle. Almost 600 verses contain the word, "fear" and related synonyms. One of the profound comments comes through the prophet Isaiah: "And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. [So God promises to restore and revive his people, to protect and deliver them. Then he says,] 'I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth?'" (Isaiah 51.11-13).

(From a sermon by Glenn Durham, How Fear Controls People, 5/31/2010)

 
Contributed By:
Troy Borst
 
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ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
1. Materialism
2. Pride
3. Self-centeredness
4. Laziness
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
6. Envy
7. Gluttony
8. Lying

Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).

 
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