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2 Timothy 2:8-4:15
2 Timothy 2:8-2:15
GREED: THE CAT AND THE VASE
A man wanders into a small antique shop in San Francisco. Mostly it's cluttered with knickknacks and junk. On the floor, however, he notices what looks like an ancient Chinese vase. On closer inspection it turns out to be a priceless relic from the Ming dynasty whose value is beyond calculating. It is worth everything else in the store put together.
The owner clearly has no idea about the value of this possession, because it's filled with milk and the cat's drinking out of it. The man sees an opportunity for the deal of a lifetime. He cleverly strategizes a method to obtain the vase for a fraction of its worth.
"That's an extraordinary cat you have," he says to the owner. "How much would you sell her for?"
"Oh, the cat's not really for sale," said the owner. "She keeps the store free of mice."
"I really must have her," the man countered. "Tell you what--I'll give you a hundred dollars for her."
"She's not really worth it," laughed the owner, "but if you want her that badly, she's yours."
"I need something to feed her from as well," continued the man. "Let me throw in another ten dollars for that saucer she's drinking out of."
"Oh, I could never do that. That saucer is actually an ancient Chinese vase from the Ming dynasty. It is my prized possession, whose worth is beyond calculation. Funny thing, though; since we've had it, I've sold seventeen cats."
"Leslie Weatherhead tells of a little boy who was admitted to an orphanage after his parents were killed. One of the first items on the agenda was to find him a new set of clothes. He was given a new pair of pants, a new shirt, and a pair of shoes that shinned as he saw his face in its glow.
Lastly, he was offered a new hat. But he refused to take it. He hung on to his worse- for the-wear—hat. Finally the Sister was able to coax him into trying on the new cap. He tried it on, liked it, but then did something very funny. He reached inside his old cap and tore the lining out and placed it in his pocket.
Noticing the Sister had a puzzled look on her face, he said said, "The lining is a part of my mother’s dress; it’s all I’ve got left of her and somehow it seems to bring her back."
Minister, Funny: THE CHAIN LETTER
The chairman of the Church Board received the following chain letter in the mail:
"This chain letter is meant to bring you happiness. Unlike other chain letters, it does not cost money.
"Sit down and make a list of five other churches that are tired of their ministers. Send a copy of this letter to all five churches on the list. Then send your minister to the church on the bottom of the list. In one week you will receive 15,625 ministers, and one of them should be a hit! Have faith in this letter.
"P.S. Please don’t break the chain. In fact, one church broke the chain, and they got their old minister back."
SIGN FOR THE BATHROOM DOOR
Attention Everyone: The Bathroom Door is Closed!
Please do not stand there and talk, whine or ask questions.
Wait until I get out.
Yes, it is locked. I want it that way.
No, it is not broken; I am not trapped.
I know I have left it unlocked, and even open at times, since you were born,because I was afraid some horrible tragedy might occur while I was in there.
But it’s been ten years, and I want some privacy.
Do not ask me how long I will be.
I will come out when I am done.
Do not bring the phone to the bathroom door.
Do not go running back to the phone yelling, “She’s in the bathroom!”
Do not begin to fight as soon as I go in.
Do not stick your little fingers under the door and wiggle them.
This was funny only when you were two.
Do not slide pennies, Legos, or notes under the door,
Even when you were two, this got a little tiresome.
If you have...
Two little boys got into a fight. But the next morning Johnny took his cap and headed for Bobby’s house again. Surprised, an older member of the family said teasingly, "What! Going to play with him again? I thought you had a fight last night and was never going to have anything more to do with him? Funny memory you have." Johnny looked a little sheepish, dug his toe into the carpet for a moment, then flashed a satisfied smile as he hurried away. "Oh! Bobby and me’s good forgetters!" .
A couple of years ago on America’s Funniest Home Videos, a young boy was shown on Christmas morning. He came down to see a large present beside the tree and ran over to tear it open to see what was inside. The paper went flying and suddenly he broke into a dance and jumped around the room saying, “Wow Just what I wanted I really love it. Wow ” After awhile he went over to look at it again and said with a puzzled look on his face, “What is it?”
On that first Christmas the angels announced the birth of a new child. The heavens were opened and all the company of heaven broke into praise. Shepherds went racing to Bethlehem to see what it was all about. And for two thousand years we have been jumping up and down saying, “Just what I wanted Exactly what I needed ” But in the next breath we look again inside the stable and ask, “What is it?” We are puzzled by God’s gift.
Sermon Central Staff
JOY AND PHYLLIS DILLER
A thirty-eight-year-old scrubwoman (cleaning lady) would go to the movies and sigh, "If only I had her looks." She would listen to a singer and moan, "If only I had her voice." Then one day someone gave her a copy of the book, The Magic of Believing. She stopped comparing herself with actresses and singers. She stopped crying about what she didn’t have and started concentrating on what she did have. She took inventory of herself and remembered that in high school she had a reputation for being the funniest girl around. She began to turn her liabilities into assets. A few years ago Phyllis Diller made over $1 million in one year. She wasn’t good-looking and she had a scratchy voice, but she could make people laugh.
The great Christian devotionals writer, Oswald Chambers, once wrote, "Laughter and weeping are the two most intense forms of human emotion, and these profound wells of human emotion are to be consecrated to God."
In Psalms 126:2 it says, "Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them." (NIV) The life of the believer is one which is rightly characterized by joy, peace, and yes laughter.
Laughter is a great gift from God. We are not only called into a life of reverent piety, we have been given the great gift and joy of knowing God!
(From a sermon by Chris Surber, Feast of Purim, 10/20/2009)
In a recent NCAA cross-country championship held in Riverside, California, 123 of the 128 runners missed a turn. One competitor, Mike Delcavo, stayed on the 10,000 meter course and began waving for fellow runners to follow him. Delcavo was able to convince only four other runners to go with him. Asked what his competitors thought of his mid-race decision not to follow the crowd, Delcavo responded, "They thought it was funny that I went the right way." Delcavo was one who ran correctly. In the same way, our goal is to run correctly; to finish the race marked out for us by Christ. We can rejoice over those who have courage to follow, ign...
Sermon Central Staff
FEAR AND THE DECEITS OF THE HEART
I think Edward Welch chose brilliantly the title for his book on overcoming the fear of man: When People are Big and God is Small. Maybe you can relate to his personal awakening to this problem when he was a high-school senior:
"I had always been shy and self-conscious, controlled by what my peers thought (or might have thought), but I never considered it seriously until the day of the awards assembly. I was up for an award, and I was scared to death I would get it!
"The auditorium bulged with over two thousand high-school juniors and seniors. From the back, where I like to sit, it seemed a good mile or two up to the platform. All I could think of was what my classmates would think of me while I walked to the front. Would I walk funny? Would I trip going up the stairs? Would one person -- I prayed it would not be a girl I liked -- think I was a jerk? What about those who were also nominated or who thought they were deserving? What would they think of me if I won instead of them? What would I ever say for a brief acceptance speech? 'God, please don't let me get this!' I prayed.
"After a number of lesser awards were announced, the vice principal went to the podium to introduce the winner. He began with a short, somewhat cryptic biographical sketch. It did not sound exactly like me, but it was generic enough to fit. I was starting to sweat, but I sat motionless for fear that someone would think I was getting interested. Finally the announcement came: 'And the winner of this year's senior award is...Rick Wilson.
"Rick Wilson! I could not believe it! Of all people. No one even thought he was a candidate!
"You can imagine my reaction. Relief? No way. I felt like a total failure. Now what would people think of me? They knew I was up for the award, and someone else was chosen. What a loser I was.
"Immediately my mind began spinning out justifications. If I had worked at all this year, I would have won. I certainly had the potential, I just didn't want to win. I'm a late bloomer; when I get to college, I will show them. I was ashamed to go back to class. Pitiful, isn't it?"
Dr. Welch describes well the deceit of the heart. Many fear success, for it would put us on display; yet we also fear failure, for then we are shown to be less wonderful than we had hoped. The Bible mentions often this heart-struggle. Almost 600 verses contain the word, "fear" and related synonyms. One of the profound comments comes through the prophet Isaiah: "And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. [So God promises to restore and revive his people, to protect and deliver them. Then he says,] 'I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth?'" (Isaiah 51.11-13).
(From a sermon by Glenn Durham, How Fear Controls People, 5/31/2010)
Have you ever heard of the woman who hated Mother’s Day? According to the Toronto Star’s website, there was such a woman. If you think the spirit of Mother’s Day has been spoiled by the commercialism of cards, flowers and once-a-year sincerity, you stand united with the woman credited with giving us the annual event.
West Virginian Anna Jarvis was so horrified by the monster she helped create in 1914, she spent most of her later years campaigning to have the second Sunday in May removed from the calendar as the day to honour your mother.
In the end, Jarvis lost the fight. The woman, who was never a mother herself, exhausted her financial resources and ruined her mental health in that fight. She died alone in 1948 in an asylum at the age of 84. Just before her death Jarvis told a local reporter: "I devoted my entire life to Mother’s Day and the racketeers and grafters have taken it over."
"She simply wanted a day to honour and remember mothers, but in her mind it didn’t turn out that way," says William Pollard, an archivist at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., where Jarvis bequeathed her letters and other writings.
In 1914, Jarvis spearheaded a campaign to help persuade U.S. president Woodrow Wilson to set aside May’s second Sunday as a national day for recognition. She orchestrated a letter-writing campaign to Wilson, lobbied influential politicians and clergymen and distributed brochures arguing about the importance of a national day for mothers.
Jarvis’ cause came from admiration for her recently deceased mother, Anna Maria, and others like her who had been an inspiration. But by the early 1920s, she was sickened by the commercial circus she had helped create. She felt the day had nothing to do with celebrating the real achievements of women.
Jarvis spent her latter days crashing floral company conventions to protest and urging card companies to give the money they made from Mother’s Day to the poor. At one Mother’s Day convention where flowers were being sold she was arrested for disturbing the peace. She even launched a lawsuit to stop a Mother’s Day festival from being held. (Story fr. Thestar.com)
For Jarvis, her mother was an inspiration, she wanted to honor her. And I believe it is the same kind of inspiration that drove Isaiah to write, for he sees something in mothers that shows us what God is really like. He wanted his readers to know that God cares, and he knows the power of a word picture and he chooses mothers, to picture for his audience, the kind of God who is totally committed to their welfare.