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Sermon Central Staff
NO RUNS, NO HITS, NO ERRORS
In one little Midwestern town, Miss Jones had the distinction of being the oldest resident in town. So when she died, the editor of the local paper wanted to print a little article remembering this dear old lady, except he couldn't think of anything to say when he sat down to write the article. Miss Jones had never done anything terribly wrong. She had never spent a night in jail or had ever been drunk. On the other hand, she had never done anything significant.
With this still on his mind, the editor went down to the local cafť, and there, ran into the local funeral director. He too was having the same trouble. He wanted to put something on Miss Jones' tombstone besides "Miss Nancy Jones, born such-and-such a date and died such-and-such a date," but he couldn't think of anything to write either.
The editor decided to go back to his office and assign the job of writing up a small article for both the paper and the tombstone to the first reporter he saw. When he got to the office, he ran into the sports editor, who got the assignment. So somewhere in some little community in the Midwest there is a tombstone which reads:
Here lie the bones of Nancy Jones,
For her life held no terrors.
She lived an old maid. She died an old maid.
No hits, no runs, no errors. (C. C. Mitchell, Let's Live!)
I'm afraid to say, "That's the way many Christians live their lives." They've never done anything terribly wrong, but they never accomplish anything significant for the Lord.
(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Take a Risk, 5/25/2012)
MATTHEW HENRY SAID, “When Christ died He left a will in which He gave His soul to His Father, His body to Joseph of Arimathea, His clothes to the soldiers, and His mother to John. But to His disciples, who had left all to follow Him, He left not silver or gold, but something far better—His PEACE!
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A few years ago I conducted a funeral for a dedicated Christian man. His wife approached me and said, “He’s the lucky one—I wish I was going to heaven today. Why couldn’t it have been me?” We don’t usually envy people who’ve died, unless we know where they’re going, and where we’re going. On his deathbed, a minister told his son, “Don’t worry about me. I’m feeling somewhat better today. But should I slip away while you’re gone, you’ll know where to find me.” Christians never say good-bye for the last time.
Dr. W. A Criswell, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas Texas, said on one occasion on an airplane flight he found himself seated beside a well-known theologian. He desperately wanted to start a conversation and they did get to talk. The man told Dr. Criswell about how he had recently lost his little boy through death. Dr. Criswell listened as he told his story: He said he had come home from school with a fever and we thought it was just one of those childhood things, but it was a very virulent form of meningitis. The doctor said we cannot save your little boy. He’ll die.
And so this seminary professor, loving his son as he did, sat by the bedside to watch this death vigil. It was the middle of the day and the little boy whose strength was going from him and whose vision and brain was getting clouded said, "Daddy, it’s getting dark isn’t it?" The professor said to his son, "Yes son it is getting dark, very dark." Of course it was very dark for him. He said, "Daddy, I guess it’s time for me to go to sleep isn’t it?"
He said, "Yes, son, it’s time for you to go to sleep."
The professor said the little fellow had a way of fixing his pillow just so, and putting his head on his hands when he slept and he fixed his pillow like that and laid his head on his hands and sai...
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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 manís 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 Grayís 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 masterís 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 Greyfriarsí 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
Sermon Central Staff
HOW TO GIVE THANKS IN THE MIDST OF LOSS
When you've lost something or someone precious, it is easy to forget that "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away." He doesn't owe us a reason.
John Claypool was a pastor in Louisville, Kentucky many years ago. He and his wife lost their daughter, Laura Lou, to leukemia. He later explained his loss by telling a story from his childhood.
During WWII his family didn't own a washing machine, and since gas was rationed, they couldn't afford to drive to a laundry. Keeping their clothes clean became a challenge. John's neighbor went into the service and his wife moved in with her family. They offered to let John's family use their Bendix wringer washer while they were gone. They reasoned it would be better for it to be used than to sit rusting on the porch.
John helped with the family's laundry, and he said he developed a fondness for that old green Bendix. When the war ended his neighbors returned, and they reclaimed their washing machine. Over the course of the war, young John had actually forgotten the machine was loaned to them, so when the neighbors removed it, John was upset and angry that they would take his washing machine. His mother sat him down and said, "John, you must remember that the washing machine never belonged to us in the first place. That we ever got to use it at all was a gift. So, instead of being mad at it being taken away, let us use this as an occasion to be thankful that we ever had it at all."
John Claypool would say years later he struggled with the death of eight-year-old Laura Lou, until he remembered that old green Bendix. He wrote: "When I remember that Laura Lou was a gift, pure and simple, something I neither earned nor deserved nor had a right to; and when I remember that the appropriate response to a gift, even when it is taken away, is gratitude, then I am better able to try and thank God that I was ever given her in the first place." (Steps of a Fellow Struggler)
That's exactly how Job felt. He knew every good thing in his life had come from God, and God had the right to take anything away. That's the kind of attitude that will keep you from becoming bitter when you face loss.
(From a sermon by Fred Markes, Praise God, 8/30/2011)
Heaven, an Inheritance
Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going... I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:1-4, 6)
The Holy Scriptures teach clearly that heaven is a real place, a permanent place, a personal place and a holy place. It is also an inheritance for those who say "yes" to Jesus Christ.
In his gospel, the beloved John conveys a powerful truth of what one must become in order to inherit eternal salvation. "...I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." (John 3:3) And once more, "...You must be born again." (John 3:7) Twice Jesus tells Nicodemus, already a Pharisee and religious leader, "I tell you the truth..."
The truth for you is that a preacher saying nice things, nor beautiful hymns being sung at your funeral, nor the local paper announcing that you were a member of such and such church, nor even being in church nearly every Sunday will gain you entrance into heaven. Being truly born again is a necessity.
Many Scripture passages tell what God will do for a person who through repentance accepts Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Ezekiel 36: 26, 27 is one of the most clear. It has been used frequently by Dr. Billy Graham to explain what God wants to do in the hearts and lives of those coming forward to receive the forgiveness found only in Christ. The verses say, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep my laws."
A "heart of stone" is inflexible, unyielding and insensitive. It is not apt to receive from or have any devoted affection toward its Creator. A man with a heart of stone has no fellowship with the Lord. He does not do the will of God, thus, he does what seems right in his own eyes which will lead to his own destruction. God alone gives physical life and He alone can give spiritual life in what Jesus says is being "born again."
When God supernaturally gives a repentant person a "heart of flesh" and puts His Spirit in a new believer, that person becomes sensitive and alive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Only then can he determine and do the will of God. This enables him to know the joy that comes from obedience to the Word of God. Once the Holy Spirit of God has entered the heart and life of a repentant person, they are never the same! Guaranteed! The Bible says they are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Jesus made these truths very clear to Nicodemus, and He desires to make them crystal clear to all who will hear even now. In heaven there will be only those who are born again, those who have trusted Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord.
The Holy Spirit moved the apostle Paul to write to (and about) authentic Christians, "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." (Romans 8:9)
Will you receive Christ today?
IF TOMORROW STARTS WITHOUT ME
If tomorrow starts without me,
And Iím not there to see;
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me;
I wish so much you wouldnít cry
The way you did today,
While thinking of the many things,
We didnít get to say.
I know how much you love me,
As much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me,
I know youíll miss me too;
But if tomorrow starts without me,
Please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name,
And took me by the hand,
And said my place was ready,
In heaven far above,
And that Iíd have to leave behind
All those I dearly love.
But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye,
For all my life, Iíd always thought,
I didnít want to die.
I had so much to live for,
So much yet to do,
It seemed almost impossible,
That I was leaving you.
I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad,
I thought of all the love we shared,
And all the fun we had.
If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for a while,
Iíd say good-bye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile.
But then I fully realized,
That this could never be,
For emptiness and memories,
Would take the place of me.
And when I thought of worldly things,
I might miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow.
But when I walked through heavenís gates,
I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,
From HIs great golden throne,
He said "This is eternity,
And all Iíve promised you."
Today for life on earth is past,
But here it starts anew.
I promise no tomorrow,
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Origin of Taps -
“Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison’s Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach, the captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.
When the captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.
The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status.
His request was only partially granted. The captain had asked if he could have a group of army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say he could have one musician play.
The captain chose a bugler, and he asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth’s uniform. This wish was granted, The haunting melody we now know as “Taps,” used at military funerals, was born.
Source: Pulpit Helps (July 2001) article written by:
Diane O. Sides
Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO
Over 25,000 Americans commit suicide each year. Over one million will try but only one out of fifteen will succeed. It is the tenth highest killer in the U.S. More will die by suicide than by murder. The model age for attempting suicide is 32 for men and 27 for women. The model age of succeeding is 50-54 for men and women. Men kill themselves twice as often as women, but women attempt suicide twice as often as men. There are over 5,000 suicides among teen-agers each year. Some 10,000 college students will attempt suicide in a year. It is the second highest cause of death among young people aged 15-24 surpassed only by accidents. Thirteen young adults each day consider life not worth the living. That is twice as many as ten years ago and three times as many as twenty years ago. One report indicated that as many as 12 percent of all school-aged children will contemplate suicide at least once in their formative years.