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Sermon Central Staff
THE GRADUAL ROAD TO HELL
In C.S. Lewisí book The Screwtape Letters, we read the story of an older demon counseling a younger demon. At one point in the book, we read these words:
"You will say that these are very small sins, and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy [God]. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to keep the man away from the Light.Ö Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual oneóthe gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."
(From a sermon by Billy Ricks, Perspective: The Destructive Power of Sin, 8/14/2011)
Catherine Marshall wrote:
"My friend Marge had an experience aboard a plane bound for Cleveland, waiting for takeoff. As she settled into her seat, Marge noticed a strange phenomenon. On one side of the airplane a sunset suffused the entire sky with glorious color. But out of the window next to her seat, all Marge could see was a sky dark and threatening, with no sign of the sunset.
"As the planeís engines began to roar, a gentle Voice spoke within her. 'You have noticed the windows,' He murmured beneath the roar and thrust of the takeoff. 'Your life, too, will contain some happy, beautiful times, but also some dark shadows. Hereís a lesson I want to teach you to save you much heartache and allow you to abide in Me with continual peace and joy.
"'You see, it doesnít matter which window you look through; this plane is still going to Cleveland. So it is in your life. You have a choice. You can dwell on the gloomy picture. Or you can focus on the bright things and leave the dark, ominous situations to Me. I alone can handle them anyway.
"'And the final destination is not influenced by what you see or feel along the way. Learn this, act on it and you will be released, able to experience the peace that passes understanding.'"
Sermon Central Staff
A BOY WAITS FOR THE BUS
There's an old story of the boy who stood on a sidewalk, waiting on a bus. A man walking by spotted the boy, and gave him some gentle instruction. "Son," he said, "if you're waiting on the bus, you need to move to the street corner. That's where the bus stops for passengers."
"It's OK," said the boy. "I'll just wait right here, and the bus will stop for me."
The man repeated his argument, but the boy never moved. Just then, the bus appeared. Amazingly, the bus pulled over to where the boy stood, and the child hopped on. The man on the sidewalk stood speechless. The boy turned around in the doorway and said, "Mister, I knew the bus would stop here, because the bus driver is my dad!"
When you've got a family relationship with the bus driver, you don't need a bus stop. If your mother is a US Senator, you won't need an appointment to slip into her office. If you've given your heart to the King of Kings, you're in a royal family of unspeakable proportions.
(From a sermon by Fred Markes, Fix Your Eyes upon Jesus, He is King of Kings, 8/30/2011)
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...
Sermon Central Staff
Thereís an old story about Dr. Benjamin Warfield. He was a theology professor at Princeton Seminary. While he was still at the height of his academic powers, his wife got sick. And she became an invalid. He took care of her for ten years. During that ten year period, he never spent more than 2 hours away from his wife. Even though she was handicapped, she still loved to read. And so Dr. Warfield would sit at her bedside day after day. And read to her. He was always gentle and caring with her.
One day, someone asked him, "Have you ever thought about taking your wife to an institution?" Then you could write bigger books and have a bigger ministry." But Dr. Warfield said, "No way. My wife is my ministry. I will never leave her side. I am going to love her and take care of her as long as God grants us life."
Thatís how the Lord Jesus feels about us. He will not walk away from us. He will not abandon us. He will not throw us away like yesterdayís news.. He will minister his love and his compassion to us just as Dr. Warfield did for his wife.
(From a sermon by Marc Axelrod, Justice and Compassion For All, 8/16/2010)
"Most everyone knows of the newspaper comic strip called ďFamily CircusĒ. It pokes fun in a gentle way at the typical family life in a home with several very young children.
I remember one that started out with the mother giving the oldest boy, who appears to be about 6, something to take to the neighbor next door. Then the next frame is from a birdís-eye view, and there is a dotted line showing the route the boy took to get next door. The line takes him across the street, through a park, stops at a swing set and slide, moves on to a brick wall that he apparently scaled and walked like a tightrope, around several other houses, stopping to talk to little boys and girls in the neighborhood, and finally stops at the front door of the next door neighborís house with the item he was to deliver.
I think that sometimes our days are much like that, except that at the end we havenít delivered anything of value at all. I wonder how fruitful and prosperous, both for ourselves and the Kingdom of God, our lives would be if we prayed well into the night for the Fatherís direction for the coming day?" -c.e.t.
While I was working in the V Corps Chaplainís office in Frankfurt, Germany; I came in contact with many wonderful Christian individuals. One of the most inspiring was a German by the name of Carl Scholz. In speaking to him one day, he related to me of how that during the Second World War he served as a Nazi soldier, but not believing fully in what they were doing, he tried to desert, but failing in his attempt, was captured and thrown into prison. He was accused as a deserter, and thus was sentenced to die before a firing squad along with another of his conrades.
When the day came they were both marched to the outskirts of the town, and the spot where they were supposted to be executed. Not hearing the change of orders, Carl didnít realize that all rifles were to be turned to his conrade instead, letting him live. Rifles fired, and in shock, he also fell to the ground. They picked him up and again was placed in prison. The months passed, and finally Carl was set free. The war had also ended, and not having any place to go to, he went from war-torn village to the next. One last hope was his only living relative, his mother...and by the time that he found her, he realized that she was entombed in the communist side of Berlin. Again lossing all hope, he made his dwellings in the bomb stricken buildings, drinking more and more with each passing day.
Finally receiving word that his mother had been killed while trying to escape the communist, he felt his last hope fly out of his body. He said to himself, "Now, whatís the use of living!" So, he went down to a near-by river hoping to drown his sorrows by throwing himself into the river. As he was about to jump he heard soft singing coming from a near-by wooden building. He could well remember the words...
"When Jesus comes the tempterís Powír is broken,
When Jesus comes, the tears are wiped away;
He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory,
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay."
Hearing such sweet words, he came closer to the building wanting to hear more about this Jesus. As he approached the door, he read those gentle words which have meant so much to millions of individuals throughout the ages...
"Gott Ist Liebe - God is Love;
Gott Ist Leben - God is Life!"
He went inside, and there for the first time he heard the wonderous love that God had for him. And how He send his only Begotten Son to die on the cross so that he could have life - and have it more abundantly! Eternal Life! Praise God! Carl found Christ at that moment! The young missionary said, "Christ says, íCome unto me all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give ye restí" Carl said to himself, "If there is anyone here burdened down itís me! I am tired of this life I am living." And that night, Carl went to the altar and said, "Lord, if itís true that you can change the worst sinner like this missionary says, change me! If itís true that you can give rest...give it to me! If itís true that you can straighten out the most twisted life...straighten out mine!" And that night the Christ that had saved Carl from the firing squad also broke the chains of bondage of sin that had his life captive, and he got up from that altar a new person. Christ had saved him...he had forgiven his many sins.
And now, Carl has been preaching and helping in the Berean Missionary Fellowship in Erzhausen, Germany, and bringing others to Christ with his wonderous testimony of salvation.
Brian La Croix
PEARLS FROM GOD-- COMMUNION MEDITATION
The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. With her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. "Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!"
Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girlís upturned face. "A dollar ninety-five. Thatís almost $2.00 If you really want them, Iíll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthdayís only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."
As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.
Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere -- Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.
Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"
"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."
"Then give me your pearls."
"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess -- the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. Sheís my favorite."
"Thatís okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.
About a week later, after the story time, Jennyís daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"
"Daddy, you know I love you."
"Then give me your pearls."
"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."
"Thatís okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss. A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? Whatís the matter?" Jenny didnít say ...
Sermon Central Staff
CAN'T WIN FOR LOSING
A man named Fred inherited a huge land grant, but the will provided that he could choose land in either Chile or Brazil. He chose Brazil. Unhappily, if he had chosen Chile, he would have received his inheritance in land on which they had recently discovered uranium, gold and silver. But he chose Brazil.
When he arrived in Brazil he had to choose between receiving his inheritance in a coffee plantation or land with Brazil nut trees. He chose the nut trees, and immediately the bottom fell out of the nut market, but coffee futures went up two dollars a pound. The government took control of the nut farm for back taxes, and Fred was left destitute.
Fred pawned his Rolex watch for the money he needed to fly either to New York or Boston. He chose Boston. When the plane for New York taxied up, he noticed it was a brand new super Concorde with red carpets. After several hours delay, the plane for Boston arrived. It was a 1928 twin engine plane held together with bailing wire, and it was filled with cigar smokers and unattended crying babies.
Over the mountains one of the engines fell off, and Fred, frightened by his earlier bad choices and fearing for his life, asked for two parachutes. He jumped. As he fell through the air, he tried to make up his mind which ripcord to pull. He pulled the cord on the left, but nothing happened. He pulled the cord on his right, but it broke.
In desperation the poor fellow cried out, "St. Francis, save me!" A great hand from heaven reached down, seized him by the wrist, and left him dangling in mid-air. Then a gentle but inquisitive voice asked, "St. Francis, Xavier or St. Francis of Assisi?"
(Source: Dick Meyer, An Anchor in a Sea of Change, Faith@Work, Spring 2000, p.23; www.PreachingToday.com)
The poor guy couldnít win for losing, but thatís life sometimes. Life is risky, because itís full of choices where we donít always know the outcome.
Itís the same with choosing to follow Christ. There is great risk involved, because we donít always know how people are going to respond to that choice. Some may appreciate the choice because of the changes it brings into our lives. But others may very well reject us for choosing to follow Jesus, because they resent those very changes.
(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Take A Risk, 11/5/2009)
Gen. Douglas MacArthur wrote this prayer for his son. He prayed: "Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, & brave enough to face himself when he is afraid. One who will be proud & unbending in honest defeat, & humble & gentle in victory.
"Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds - a son who will know Thee, who is the foundation stone of knowledge. Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease & comfort, but under the stress & spur of difficulties & challenge.
"Here let him learn to stand up to the storm. Here let him learn compassion for those who fail. Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high, a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men, one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.
"And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor so that he may always be serious but never take himself too seriously. Give him humility so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, & an open mind of true wisdom, & the meekness of true strength.
"Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, `I have not lived in vain.’"