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Sermon Central Staff
VACANT HOMES, VACANT LIVES
TIFTON, GA ó The most interesting thing about Tifton is an abandoned Victorian house filled with thousands of bats. Tift County declared the once-elegant house in the townís historic district off limits after a bat specialist said that maybe 20,000 bats had moved in, apparently for good.
Now, teenagers call it the bat house. People talk about the smell, which is an unholy mix of animal urine and decaying wood. "In the summer, ooh, does that place reek," said Linda Turner, 69, a retired nurse and neighbor. "You ainít smelled nothing until you come back here on a hot day."
Brothers and Sisters, Iím not going to visit that bat house. WHAT A SIGHT AND WHAT A STINK IT MUST BE! Vacant houses get infiltrated with all kinds of creatures and probably not just bats. And many of these creatures make a mess, create a big stink, and eventually ruin that dwelling.
But it doesnít just happen with vacant houses, it also happens with vacant lives! If a person doesnít fill their life with good stuff, the bad stuff and sometimes, the evil stuff will move in and take over.
Whatís going on in your house? That is, the house you live in, the fleshly body you live in? Who has moved in? Who has taken over your residence and controlling your life? God wants us to stay clean in this world and that will only happen when we let Him move in, that is, when we fill our lives with worship, prayer and service.
Thy word have I hide in my heart that I might not sin against thee! Ps. 119:11. The Bible will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Bible!
(From a sermon by Steve Shepherd, Our Walk in This World, 4/4/2011)
Easter is so much more than learning how to face death without fear, with courage and dignity. After all, even philosophers, poets, and scientists can do that. I remember the astronomer Carl Sagan mention in an interview that he was looking forward to death as “the last great adventure.” Walt Whitman, who wrote a beautiful poem upon the death of Lincoln entitled, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” wrestled with the thought of death in his verses. In the end, he decided that all we can do is embrace it like a friend: “Come, sweet, soothing death. Undulate around me, arriving, arriving..” His contemporary, the poet William Cullen Bryant wrote what some have called the most beautiful American poem, “Thanatopsis,” (which is Greek for “A View of Death”). And what was his view of death? In beautiful, flowing verse with elegant words, his bottom line was that the best we can hope for is that our body, placed in the earth, will by its decay help some other form of life spring forth. Our death helps produce life.
I’m sorry. No matter how elegant the language, that message is depressing. God has so much more planned for us that merely to be fertilizer for ferns. That doesn’t dignify human beings. Jesus, however, gives us the highest dignity; he rose from death as our REDEEMER TO GIVE YOU ETERNAL VICTORY.
Sermon Central Staff
CHEAP PURCHASE--HIGH PRICE
In Decision magazine some time ago, Karen Morerod wrote about shopping in a store for a sweater. She was looking for one at minimal cost, so she went to the clearance rack. As she flipped through the sweaters, one caught her eye. It was the right color and the right size, and best of all, the price tag was marked $8.00. Without much more thought, Karen made her purchase.
At home she slipped on the sweater. Its texture was like silk. She had made her purchase so quickly that she hadnít noticed how smooth and elegant the sweater was. Then she saw the original price tag: $124.00!
Karen writes, "I gasped. I had never owned any clothing of that value. I had come home with what I thought was a 'cheap buy,' but the original price was quite high. I had been oblivious to its value."
Then Karen concludes her article with these words: "Just as with my sweater, I have often treated the power of Jesusí blood like a 'cheap purchase.' [Godís] grace, though free to me, carried a high price tag Ė the life of his very own Son."
My friends, when we realize the price God paid to set us free from a wasted life, we canít help but want to live lives worthy of such love.
(Karen R. Morerod, "Lesson Learned from a Sweater," Decision, November 1999, p. 39. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, The Holiness of Grace, 4/29/2011)
His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of
college. He is intelligent. Kind of esoteric and very, very bright.
He became a Christian while attending college. Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students, but are not sure how to go about it.
One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair.
The service has already started, so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat. The church is completely packed and he canít find a seat. By now people are really looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Bill gets closer to the pulpit, and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, this had never happened in this church before!)
By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.
About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, and
a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and, as he starts walking toward this young man, everyone is saying to themselves that you canít blame him for what heís going to do.
How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some
college kid on the floor?
It takes a long time for the deacon to reach the young man...
Many years ago there was an emperor who was so fond of new clothes that he spent all of his money on them. He did not give himself any concern about his army; he cared nothing about the theater or for driving about in the woods, except for the sake of showing himself off in his new clothes. he had a costume for every hour in the day, and just as they say of a King or an Emperor, "He is in his council chambers," they said of him, "The emperor is in his dressing room."
One day 2 strangers came into to town, they were con men who passed themselves off as master weavers. And they said that they knew how to make the most exquisite clothes. Not only were the colors and patterns uncommonly beautiful, but the clothes were made of stuff that had a peculiar property -- that of being invisible to every person who was unfit for the office he held or who was exceptionally stupid.
"Those must be valuable clothes" thought the emperor, "By wearing them I should be able to discover which of the men in my empire are fit for office... And I will be able to distinguish the wise from the fools. So the emperor paid the 2 scoundrels a handsome sum of money in advance, as they required. Now the 2 men pocketed the money and pretended to be weaving.
As time passed the emperor was getting anxious about his new clothes -- but as he reflected that the clothes reveled those who were unfit or stupid, he wasn’t sure that he wanted to go. So he sent his top aide. Well of course when this aide went to where these men were busy about their weaving, he saw nothing, but not wanting to be judged unfit or stupid -- he said "Oh, it is most elegant and beautiful, what a fine pattern and what fine colors. I will certainly tell the emperor how pleased I am with these fine cloths.
As time passed the emperor sent more aides all of who brought back the same reports.....Finally the day came and the emperor with the help of his stewards after taking off his old clothes, pretended to put on and button his new outfit....
And as he marched down the streets, his attendants were behind him acting as though they were carrying his long train and everyone in the streets was shouting, "What beautiful clothes, how splendid...." though in fact they saw nothing, but they didn’t want to be judged as being unfit or stupid. Until that is, a little child said, "But he has nothing on..."
Some speeches I have heard remind me of a turkey with his tail feathers spread. He makes an elegant impression but the feathers dont represent much meat.
VIDEO: YOUTUBE: Joshua Bell; Washington Post in Metro DC, Length 2:44
Gene Weingarten from the Washington post writes: "HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE LíENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin.
Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play. It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by."
Weingarten says: "No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made.Ē
But on that Friday in January, Joshua Bell, the international acclaimed virtuoso, playing a seventeenth century violin valued at 3.5 million dollars was just another noisemaker competing for the attention of busy people on their way to work.
He can command as much as $1,000 per minute for his skills with the violin, but on this average busy day only a handful of people actually stopped to listen. After his masterful 43 minute performance, he managed to amass a whopping $32 dollars and seventeen cents. The Washington Post arranged this experiment to find out if musical genius would be recognized by the masses if it were played in an ordinary place. It was not. (www.startribune.com/465/story/1110380.html)
Two women who were having lunch in an elegant hotel were approached by a mutual friend who asked the occasion for the meal.
One lady replied, ďWe are celebrating the birth of my baby boy.Ē
ďBut where is he?Ē inquired the friend.
ďOh,Ē said the mother, ďyou didnít think Iíd bring h...
Like most of us, I am sure that you can remember the scenes of brutality made against Jesusí character in that film; the derided trials of Caiaphas, Pilate and Herod; the shredding of His flesh and muscle through the scourging by Roman centurions; the excruciating crucifixion between two common criminals. Mel Gibson sought the poignant emotions of all those who viewed the movie to become familiar with the deep agony and throbbing pain that had been felt by Jesus, the Christ. And most of us unquestionably did.
But yet, today, the crosses that beautify our churches are elegant and adorned many times with gold and silver embellishments or encrusted with sparkling jewels. Often they are placed in conspicuous places and at times worshiped for their beauty and style. Long forgotten is the factual significance behind this symbol due to our shrouding it with our so called ďartistic interpretations.Ē
These optimistic icons are in profound contrast to the crosses of the Romans government in the times of the Christ. They were known to split rough wood for their crosses which certainly including those found upon Calvary. Thus the surface of these implements of punishment was irregular, filled with splinters, and perhaps even crawling with insects. When the scourged backside of the Christ was forced onto His cross, the full weight of His body exposed Him to the tortures of the wood. He was bearing the repulsive pain of our sinfulness. Letís take a few seconds to sit in silence and picture these agonizing moments for the Christ.
THE JOY OF HER SILENCE
Listen to this case history that appears in Dr. Paul Tournier's book, "The Strong and the Weak." It is the story of a family in which there were father, mother and several children. The father had a problem with one of his daughters, a little girl who was very quiet, very shy, unable to express herself outwardly. The father was an outgoing person and most of the other children were too. And he was puzzled and bewildered and confused about this, but he tried to understand. On one occasion he gave his quiet little daughter a present. It was an elegant little glass elephant on a gold chain, to put around her neck. He put it down on the table in front of her and said, "Iíve brought you this present." Well, she was just overwhelmed! Her mouth dropped open and she stared at this beautiful, beautiful thing. As Dr. Tournier said, "It shone more beautifully than any star of Bethlehem because it symbolized her fatherís love for her." She sat there for several minutes, staring at this thing, unable to speak. Then she got up and went into the other room to try to tell her mother what had happened. When she came back she was thunderstruck because she saw her beautiful little elephant dangling from her sisterís neck. The father said, in a kind of offhanded way, "Well, you didnít want it so I gave it to your sister." Didnít want it? He wasnít listening! He wasnít listening to the joy of her silence.
He hadnít listened enough to this child to know who she was and how she expressed herself. And years later she was in therapy, trying with her analyst to trace back to the tragic feeling she had that no one was listening down through the years.