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Sermon Central Staff
I COULD HAVE DONE MORE
The film Schindler's List chronicled the heroic efforts of a German industrialist named Oskar Schindler. Through his unselfish activities, over a thousand Jews on the trains to Auschwitz were saved. After Schindler found out what was happening at Auschwitz, he began a systematic effort to save as many Jews as he could. For money, he could buy Jews to work in his factory which was supposed to be a part of the military machine of Germany. On one hand he was buying as many Jews as he could, and on the other hand he was deliberately sabotaging the ammunition produced in his factory. He entered the war as a financially wealthy industrialist; by the end of the war, he was basically financially bankrupt.
When the Germans surrendered, Schindler met with his workers and declared that at midnight they were all free to go. The most emotional scene of the film was when Schindler said good-bye to the financial manager of the plant, a Jew and his good and trusted friend. As he embraced his friend, Schindler sobbed and said, "I could have done more." He looked at his automobile and asked, "Why did I save this? I could have bought 10 Jews with this." Taking another small possession he cried, "This would have saved another one. Why didn't I do more?" (James Forlines, Men's Beat of Free Will Baptist Foreign Missions, April 1999, 4.)
One day Jesus is going to split the eastern sky and come for His own. It will not matter then how much money we have in a mutual fund or how many bedrooms we have in our homes. The temporary satisfaction we have in vacations and nice cars will be gone. Only what we have done for the cause of Christ will matter. The Privilege we have only now, is to use God's resources for things that eternally matter.
(From a sermon by Matthew Kratz, The Grace of Giving, 6/11/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
WHAT A 95-YEAR-OLD WOMAN WORRIES ABOUT
A ninety-five year old woman at the nursing home received a visit from one of her fellow church members.
"How are you feeling?" the visitor asked.
"Oh," said the lady, "I'm just worried sick!"
"What are you worried about, dear?" her friend asked. "You look rather well and healthy today. Are they taking good care of you here?"
"Oh, yes, they're taking very good care of me."
"Are you in any pain?" she asked.
"No, I'm not in any pain at all."
"Well then, what are you worried about?" her friend asked again.
The lady leaned back in her rocking chair, sighed a heavy sigh, then slowly explained her major worry. "Every close friend I ever had has already died and gone on to heaven. I'm afraid they're all wondering where I went."
The word worry in the Greek, means to be divided. The Greek word is formed by two root words "divided" and "mind." To worry means to be pulled in many different directions.
(From a sermon by Jimmy Haile, Consider the Lilies!, 12/25/2010)
Sermon Central Staff
One day Hudson Taylor was traveling on a Chinese junk from Shanghai to Ningpo. He had been witnessing to a man named Peter who rejected the gospel but was under deep conviction. In the course of events, Peter fell overboard, but no one made any effort to save him. Taylor sprang to the mast, let down the sail, and jumped overboard in hopes of finding his friend. But no one on board joined Taylor in his frantic search. Taylor saw a fishing boat nearby and yelled to them to help, but they wouldn't do it without money. Finally, after bartering for every penny that Taylor had, the fishermen stopped their fishing and began to look for Peter. In less than a minute of dragging their net, they found him, but it was too late. They were too busy fishing to care about saving a drowning man.
We can easily condemn the selfish indifference of those fishermen, but by indicting them, we may condemn ourselves. Are we too busy with our jobs and other activities to take the time to rescue those who are perishing without Christ?
(Kenneth Cole, The Crucial Message. From a sermon by Gerald Flury, Why Are You Standing Around? 8/16/2012)
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...
So if the kingdom of heaven is so valuable, why doesn’t everybody do everything they can to be a part of it? I think it’s because value is often in the eye of the beholder. What has value and what doesn’t is really up to personal interpretation. What some people think are valuable have no value at all to others. Several years ago I used to heat our house with wood. Every fall I would go out and cut wood with my friend Roger Raether and Bob Bosma. I never liked cutting wood because it was a lot of back breaking work but I liked the price. It was free except for the labor so we would take a Saturday here and there in the fall to cut wood and pile it up for the winter. In addition to cutting wood I used to get the wood scraps from a store called “The Wooden Bird.” They make beautiful hand carved bird decoys and animal decoys out of wood. Every decoy costs from 50 to 250 bucks and they are really nice decorative pieces to put on the mantle. Their shop used to be right here in St. Boni so every couple of weeks I would stop in and pick up their leftover wood scraps to burn in my wood burner. Right before Thanksgiving I stopped in to pick up a load of scraps. I walked in the front door and told them I was there to pick up the wood. The man wheeled out two bins like usual to the loading doors and helped me load them in the truck. Usually the wood was just chunks of pine but this time they looked like decoys. I asked him if he was sure that he was giving me the right wood because they were unpainted decoys. I noticed that they had a few cracks in them so I figured they were throwing them away because of the cracks. The man insisted that I had the right stuff and waved me goodbye. I took my load of wood and promised that I would bring his carts back as soon as I got the chance. He told me there was no hurry and I could even bring them back after Thanksgiving. I went home and unloaded the decoys in a big pile in the basement. The wood burner was low so I grabbed a handful of decoys and threw them in the furnace. That dry pine burned nice and hot so I threw in a few more to ward of the cold. Then I went back to work. After work I went home and reloaded the furnace with decoys and had just enough time to bring back the carts before they closed for the long weekend. When I pulled up in my truck two men ran out of the building and demanded that I bring back the decoys. I asked why and with urgency in his voice he told me that I had taken their entire inventory of Christmas decoys worth tens of thousands of dollars by mistake. He went on and on about calling the police and trying to find my vehicle and driving around for the past three hours in a complete panic because I had taken their entire Christmas inventory of decoys worth thousands of dollars by mistake. I pointed at the guy who gave them to me and he just gave me the deer in the headlights look and walked back into the building. Then the manager said do you still have them because they are incredibly valuable. Each decoy had taken them over a week to make and they needed to get them back. Rather stunned I told them that I had burned a few of them but would bring the rest back. Then I went home and carefully loaded a few hundred decoys back into the bins and brought them back to the Wooden Bird. Value is often in the eye of the beholder. The decoys had no value to me other than a little heat. But to the Wooden bird, the decoys were worth tens of thousands of dollars.
In his best selling book called, "Into Thin Air," Jon Krakauer relates the hazards that plagued some climbers as they attempted to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Andy Harris, one of the expedition leaders stayed at the peak too long and on his descent, he became in dire need of oxygen. Harris radioed the base camp and told them about his predicament. He mentioned that he had come across a cache of oxygen canisters left by the other climbers but they were all empty. The climbers who already passed the canisters on their own descent knew they were not empty, but full. They pleaded with him on the radio to make use of them but it was to no avail. Harris was starved for oxygen but he continued to argue that the canisters were empty.
The problem was that the lack of what he needed had so disoriented his mind that though he was surrounded by something that would give him life, he continued to complain of its absence. The lack of oxygen had ravaged his capacity to recognize what was right in front of him.
Friends, what oxygen is to the body, the Bread of Life is to the soul. Some of us are suffocating and starving and we don’t even know it. Jesus is offering life to us while we run around trying to appease our appetites. We will never be filled until we take of the Bread and Water of life, Jesus Christ.
"Valentinus was the name of a young man who lived in Rome during reign of Claudius II when Christians were being persecuted. Although he was not a Christian, he helped them, but he was caught and put into prison. In prison he became a believer in Jesus. Because of this, Valentinus was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs, stoned and finally beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269. After his death, this gate was known as Porta Valentini. While he was in prison he sent messages to his friends saying, "Remember your Valentine!" and "I love you."
Even Valentine's Day, like Halloween, has Christian beginnings, but the world has taken them over and removed any trace, like it is trying to do with Easter and Christmas, as well.
NO GREATER LOVE
It was February 1941, Auschwitz, Poland. Maximilian Kolbe
was a Franciscan priest put in the infamous death camp for helping Jews escape Nazi terrorism.
Months went by and in desperation an escape took place. The camp rule was enforced. Ten people would be rounded up randomly and herded into a cell where they would die of starvation and exposure as a lesson against future escape attempts.
Names were called. A Polish Jew Frandishek Gasovnachek was called. He cried, "Wait, I have a wife and children!" Kolbe stepped forward and said, "I will take his place."
Kolbe was marched into the cell with nine others where he managed to live until August 14.
This story was chronicled on an NBC news special several years ago. Gasovnachek, by this time 82, was shown telling this story while tears streamed down his cheeks. A mobile camera followed him around his little white house to a marble monument carefully tended with flowers. The inscription read:
IN MEMORY OF MAXIMILIAN KOLBE
HE DIED IN MY PLACE.
Every day Gaso...
Se cuenta que cierto emperador chino, cuando le avisaron que en una de las provincias de su imperio había una insurrección, dijo a los ministros de su gobierno y a los jefes militares que lo rodeaban: "Vamos. Seguidme. Pronto destruiré a mis enemigos." Cuando el emperador y sus tropas llegaron a donde estaba los rebeldes, él trató afablemente a éstos, quienes, por gratitud, se sometieron a él de nuevo. Todos los que formaban el séquito del emperador pensaron que él ordenaría la inmediata ejecución de todos aquellos que se habían sublevado contra él; pero se sorprendieron en gran manera al ver que el emperador trataba humanitariamente y hasta con cariño a quienes habían sido rebeldes. Entonces el primer ministro preguntó con enojo al emperador:
"¿De esta manera cumple vuestra Excelencia su promesa? Dijisteis que veníamos a destruir a nuestros enemigos, los habéis perdonados a todos y a muchos hasta con cariño los habéis tratado.
Entonces el emperador, con actitud generosa, dijo:
-os prometí destruir a mis enemigos; y todos vosotros veis que ya nadie es enemigo mío: a todos los e hecho mis amigos."
It is said that a Chinese emperor, when told that one of the provinces of his empire had an uprising, told his government ministers and military chiefs about him: "Come on. Follow me. Soon I will destroy my enemies." When the emperor and his troops arrived to where the rebels were, he treated them graciously, who, in gratitude, were subjected to it again. All who were the emperor's entourage thought he would order the immediate execution of all those who had rebelled against him, but was greatly surprised to see that the emperor treated humanely and even loving those who had been rebellious. Then the prime minister angrily asked the emperor:
"This way your Excellency met their promise? You said you were coming to destroy our enemies, you have forgiven everyone."
Then the Emperor, generous attitude, said:
"I promised to destroy my enemies. You see that nobody is my enemy. I've made them all my friends."
Sermon Central Staff
Unity is not simply an intellectual exercise. We can believe the same things, recite the same creeds, belong to the same denomination, but that does not mean we have unity.
In his book Soul Talk, Larry Crabb writes:
"Which is worse? A church program to build community that doesn’t get off the ground or one person sitting every Sunday in the back of the church who remains unknown? A Sunday school class that once drew hundreds but has now dwindled to thirty or a Sunday school teacher whose sense of failure is never explored by a caring friend? A family torn apart by the father’s drinking, his wife’s frustration, and their third grader’s learning disabilities or a self-hating dad, a terrified mom, and a lonely little boy, three human beings whose beauty and value no one ever discovers? A national campaign that fails to gain steam for the pro-life movement or a single woman on her way home from an abortion clinic in the backseat of a taxi, a woman whose soul no one ever touches?"
We may notice the unknown pew sitter, we wonder how the teacher of the now small class feels, we worry over each member of the torn-up family, and we feel for the guilt and pain of a woman who has ended her baby’s life. But we do what’s easier. We design programs, we brainstorm ways to build attendance, and in our outrage over divorce statistics and abortion numbers we fight for family values.
These are all good things, but we don’t TALK to the pew sitter; we don’t ASK the teacher how he’s feeling; we don’t INVITE the dad to play golf, the woman to lunch, or the little boy to play with our children; we don’t let the aborting woman know we CARE about her soul.
That response to hurting people, I would label disunity. Disunity is not just fighting over personal preferences. It’s not just leaving the church because someone hurt your feelings. It’s not just gossip that tears down other members of the body. It’s leaving needs unmet. It’s failing to love people the way God would have us love. Unity is lived out in caring concern for others.
(From a sermon by Bret Toman, Unity For the Glory of God, 1/3/2011)