Illustration results for Faithfully
CICADAS: SPIRITUALLY DEAD
I grew up in West Texas and there were a lot of Cicada insects. They’re not technically locusts but we called them that. During the hot summer days the loud, shrill sound that the males made would fill the air. You would usually see them in the trees. At times you would come across the lifeless shell they had shed. It was just an empty form of the living creature that had once been there. If you put the slightest pressure on that empty form it would crumble. That’s what I think of when I hear the phrase "a form of godliness." It bears some resemblance to the real thing. But there’s no life in it.
Is there a chance that spiritual decline in Israel’s history could repeat itself in Christian churches? Is there a chance today, that people could be faithfully going through a form of religion that bears resemblance to the real thing; but in reality is dead and lifeless?
Sermon Central Staff
POOR MAN'S PHILANTHROPIST
In 2005, when Thomas Cannon died of colon cancer in a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, he was 79. Thomas described himself a "poor man's philanthropist."
When Thomas was three years old, his father died. Once Thomas' mother remarried, the family of six lived in a three-room wooden shack without running water or electricity.
As an adult, Thomas went to work with the postal service. He never made more than $25,000 a year. Upon retirement, he and his wife lived in poverty. Yet over the course of 33 years, Thomas gave away more than $156,000. His gifts were mainly in the form of $1,000 checks given to people he read about in the newspaper who were going through hard times or who especially exemplified courage or kindness. A youth worker in a low-income apartment complex, a volunteer faithfully serving at an elementary school, a Vietnamese couple wanting to return home to visit, and a teenager abandoned as an infant were some of the recipients of Thomas' benevolence.
Thomas' motivation came from an incident that happened as a young man while away at a Naval signal school. When an explosion at Chicago's Port took the lives of many of his shipmates, Thomas concluded, "He had been spared to help others and be a role model." This led to his passion for giving.
Cannon biographer, Sandra Waugaman, comments, "Not many people would consider living in a house in a poor neighborhood without central heat, air conditioning, or a telephone, and working overtime so that they could save money to give away."
["Thomas Cannon had Little Money to Give," Omaha Sunday World Herald (July, 2005), p. 13A; Margaret Edds, "Cannon's Canon," HamptonRoads.com (7-24-05); submitted by Ted De Hass, Bedford, Iowa. From a sermon by Terry Blankenship, Running and Serving with Passion, 5/16/2011]
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)
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...
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.
SOWING THE SEED: A COMPARISON
In the 13th Century, Nicolo Polo (father of Marco Polo) was visiting the court of the grandson of Ghengis Khan - Kublai Khan.
Kublai Khan was the Emperor of China and he had never met Europeans before. He was delighted to meet this visitor from Venice AND he was strongly impressed by the religious faith of this man; therefore, he sent a letter back to Europe urging that some educated men be dispatched to instruct his people in the teachings of Christianity.
But, because of political upheaval and infighting that was taking place in Europe, there was a long delay in anybody coming. In the end, only 2 representatives of Christianity were sent and even they lost heart soon and turned back.
Because of the failure of the church of that day, Kublai Khan turned instead to Buddhism and that has been the predominant religion in the area from that day to this.
By contrast, just last Sunday, we baptized a father and son into Christ – Bill & Isaac. Bill was not the most promising of candidates for salvation. Most people pictured him more as the stony or weedy soil. He’s lived a hard life and had held God at bay for a number of years. His wife had faithfully planted seeds in his life, as have others in this congregation. But until last Sunday it seemed fruitless. But now he’s surrendered to Christ, and tonight he’s bearing fruit.
In Bill’s neighborhood, there have been a number of boys that Bill had created a “paintball” club for. But once Bill gave himself to Christ, he wanted to give Christ to these young boys he’d been working with. Three of them are being baptized tonight, and more may be turning to Christ in the near future.
SOURCE: Jeff Strite in "You Can’t Reap them All" on www.sermoncentral.com
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
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...
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