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Sermon Central Staff
AN UNUSUAL BAPTISM ON THE MISSION FIELD
Some time back, a retired missionary dropped by our church. She had served faithfully in Africa, and one day, she happened upon a small baptismal service. A fellow missionary took three new converts to the center of a shallow river, and dug a hole in the sand so there would be enough water for the baptism. Even then, the new believers were forced to sit in the sand so there would be enough water to cover them for the important ceremony.
The missionary telling the story saw what she'd expected. A few friends and family members gathered to watch, and the missionary in the river raised his hand, repeating familiar scriptures before baptizing the converts. When the first convert came up out of the water, he began an excited and joyful time of shouting. The quiet service was silent no more! The second convert did the same. The final convert also came up from the shallow water shouting for joy.
Afterwards, the missionary watching the process asked about the unusual tradition. Why all the shouting?
"I haven't been able to completely communicate in this tribe's language," said the younger missionary. "They heard the scripture I gave them, but they didn't understand the symbolic nature of it. When I told them that they would be "buried with him through baptism into death ... and raised to walk in the newness of life" (Romans 6:4) they actually thought baptism would kill them! We chuckled as we heard the story, until the missionary froze us with her gaze. "Let me ask you a question," she said. "If you thought baptism would kill you, would you be willing to get in the river?"
Following Jesus means we recognize the royal nature of the one we serve. Yes, he has saved us. Yes, he loves us and wants us in his royal family. But yes, he is King of Kings, and we owe him our very lives. There is no other appropriate response.
(From a sermon by Fred Markes, Fix Your Eyes Upon Jesus, He is King of Kings, 8/30/2011)
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)
Jesus calls us to be people who
Live in present-tense.
An average person¡¦s anxiety is focused on :
40% -- things that will never happen
30% -- things about the past that can’t be changed
12% -- things about criticism by others, mostly untrue
10% -- about health, which gets worse with stress
8% -- about real problems that will be faced
Stop trying to grapple with the what ifs¨ and let God take care of it. You simply make that long term investment in God’s kingdom day by day.
While touring Italy, a man visited a cathedral that had been completed on the outside only. Once inside, the traveler found an artist kneeling before an enormous wall upon which he had just begun to create a mosaic. On some tables nearby were thousands of pieces of colored ceramic. Curious, the visitor asked the artist how he would ever finish such a large project. The artist answered that he knew how much he could accomplish in one day. Each morning, he marked off an area to be completed that day and didn’t worry about what remained outside that space. That was the best he could do; and if he faithfully did his best, one day the mosaic would be finished.
Today in the Word, September 5, 1995, p. 32.
Faith honors God and God honors faith! A story from the life of missionaries Robert and Mary Moffat illustrates this truth. For 10 years this couple labored faithfully in Bechuanaland (now called Botswana) without one ray of encouragement to brighten their way. They could not report a single convert. Finally the directors of their mission board began to question the wisdom of continuing the work. The thought of leaving their post, however, brought great grief to this devoted couple, for they felt sure that God was in their labors, and that they would see people turn to Christ in due season. They stayed; and for a year or two longer, darkness reigned. Then one day a friend in England sent word to the Moffats that she wanted to mail them a gift and asked what they would like. Trusting that in time the Lord would bless their work, Mrs. Moffat replied, "Send us a communion set; I am sure it will soon be needed." God honored that dear woman’s faith. The Holy Spirit mo...
In 1858, a man named John Gray was buried in old Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh, Scotland. His grave levelled by the hand of time, and unmarked by any stone, became scarcely discernible; but, although no human interest seemed to attach to it.
The sacred spot was not wholly disregarded and forgotten. For fourteen years the dead man’s faithful dog kept constant watch and guard over the grave until his own death in 1872. James Brown, the old curator of the burial ground, remembers Gray’s funeral, and the dog, a Skye terrier called "Bobby", was, he says, one of the most conspicuous of the mourners. The grave was closed in as usual, and next morning "Bobby", was found, lying on the newly-made mound.
This was an innovation which old James could not permit, for there was an order at the gate stating in the most intelligible characters that dogs were not admitted. "Bobby" was accordingly driven out; but next morning he was there again, and for the second time was discharged. The third morning was cold and wet, and when the old man saw the faithful animal, in spite of all chastisement, still lying shivering on the grave, he took pity on him, and gave him some food. This recognition of his devotion gave "Bobby" the right to make the churchyard his home; and from that time until his own death he never spent a night away from his master’s tomb.
Often in bad weather attempts were made to keep him within doors, but by dismal howls he succeeded in making it known that this interference was not agreeable to him, and he was always allowed to have his way. At almost any time during the day he could be seen in or about the churchyard, and no matter how rough the night, nothing could induce him to forsake that hallowed spot, whose identity he so faithfully preserved.
That concludes the story of the life of Greyfriars’ Bobby. A life that was later commemorated by the erection of the statue and fountain by Baroness Burdett Coutts. The figure which was unveiled, without any ceremony, on November 15, 1873
Gladyce, a widow, attended church faithfully every Sunday. She would get there about 20 minutes early to sit and pray. This was her ritual. Just her and Jesus. She had been doing this for years. Then one Sunday a new family sat behind her. This was disturbing. She said, “Oh, well, they’re visitors and they may not be back next week anyway.” She thought she could put up with the small feet kicking at her back and the toy cars being driven on the top of her pew and loud whispers for lifesavers and trips to the bathroom that interrupted her prayer for one Sunday. Much to her dismay, one week turned into two and two into a month and she realized that they were here to stay. She weighed her options. She could change pews, but “no, that was where she and her husband had always worshiped.” She wasn’t willing to give up her pew. She could turn around and glare at them. She could pray at home for 20 minutes. One Sunday before worship was really bad. “Church was for quiet meditation and reflection,” she thought. She looked at the parents and the squirming children. She realized that the parents looked tired. “Perhaps I should just let them be,” she thought. Instead of yelling, she managed a small smile. The next Sunday she took lifesavers and offered them. The next Sunday she asked their names. She found out the oldest liked horses, the youngest liked cars and the middle one liked books. The next Sunday she was disappointed that they weren’t there. It didn’t seem like church without the tap of little feet at her back. Next week she invited the family over for Sunday Brunch and from there on a fast friendship grew.
Self-righteous service comes through human effort. True service comes from a relationship with the divine Other deep inside.
Self-righteous service is impressed with the "big deal." True service finds it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service.
Self-righteous service requires external rewards. True service rests contented in hiddenness.
Self-righteous service is highly concerned about results. True service is free of the need to calculate results.
Self-righteous service picks and chooses whom to serve. True service is indiscriminate in its ministry.
Self-righteous service is affected by moods and whims. True service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need.
Self-righteous service is temporary. True service is a life-style.
Self-righteous service is without sensitivity. It insists on meeting the need even when to do so would be destructive. True service can withhold the service as freely as perform it.
Self-righteous service fractures community. True service, on the other hand, builds community.
Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, "The Discipline of Service
There is a legend which recounts the return of Jesus to glory after His time on earth. Even in heaven He bore the marks of His earthly pilgrimage with its cruel cross and shameful death. The angel Gabriel approached Him and said, "Master, you must have suffered terribly for men down there."
"I did," He said.
"And," continued Gabriel, "do they know all about how you loved them and what you did for them?"
"Oh, no," said Jesus, "not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know."
Gabriel was perplexed. "Then what have you done," he asked, "to let everyone know about your love for them?"
Jesus said, "I’ve asked Peter, James, John, and a few more friends to tell other people about me. Those who are told will in turn tell other people about me, and my story will be spread to the farthest reaches of the globe. Ultimately, all of mankind will have heard about my life and what I have done."
Gabriel frowned and looked rather skeptical. He knew well what poor stuff men were made of. "Yes," he said, "but what if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? What if way down through the centuri...
Henry P. Crowell, affectionately called “The autocrat of the Breakfast Table,” contracted tuberculosis when a boy and couldn’t go to school. After hearing a sermon by Dwight L. Moody, young Crowell prayed, “I can’t be a preacher, but I can be a good businessman. God, if you will let me make money, I will use it in your service.”
Under the doctor’s advice Crowell worked outdoors for seven years and regained his health. He then bought the little run-down Quaker Mill at Ravanna, Ohio. Within ten years Quaker Oats was a household word to millions. Crowell also operated the huge Perfection Stove Company.
For over forty years Henry P. Crowell faithfully gave 60 to 70 percent of his income to God’s causes, having advanced from an initial 10%. [7700 illustrations]
John Williams III
"While visiting in Leningrad, a woman heard the story of 900,000 people who perished in the long siege of Leningrad during World War II. At one point they were trying to save the children from both the nazis and starvation---so they placed them on trucks to cross a frozen lake to safer locations. Many of the mothers, sure that they would never see their children again, yelled to them as they got on the trucks, "Remember your name. Remember your name." By our baptism, we commit ourselves to faithfully remember who we are". (Herb Miller. Actions Speak Louder Than Verbs. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989, p. 103). We remember our baptismal commitment of who we are by living our lives in such a way that we bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8).