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Contributed By:
Timothy Smith
 
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Mike Breaux, when he was the Sr. Pastor at Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY, made this point in a dramatic fashion. On the day he was to preach on the very text we’re studying, from James 2, Mike dressed up as a destitute bag lady and entered the Church service just as it began. He was dressed in such a fashion that no one was able to recognize him. He had put on several layers of old, sweaty clothing including a dress, and then put on a straw hat that he pulled down over his face. He stumbled into the service carrying numerous bags, his odor was not pleasant and he sat down in the middle of the auditorium. Now, Southland is a great church but on that day no-one spoke to him as the bag lady. In fact, several cast disgusting glances his way, and some actually got up and moved several seats away from him. When it came time for the sermon there was an awkward silence because nobody knew where Mike was. But all of sudden the bag lady got up and walked toward the platform. When he got to the pulpit he slowly began to take off his garments revealing who he was. The congregation sat in uncomfortable silence. And then Mike said, "Would you please listen as I read James 2:1-4?"

 
Contributed By:
Ed Vasicek
 
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Tags: Gratitude (add tag)
 
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NEVER SATISFIED

Some people are never happy. A Jewish lady's grandson is playing in the water, she is standing on the beach not wanting to get her feet wet, when all of a sudden, a huge wave appears from nowhere and crashes directly over the spot where the boy is wading.

The water recedes and the boy is no longer there. He simply vanished. She holds her hands to the sky, screams and cries, "Lord, how could you? Have I not been a wonderful mother and grandmother? Have I not given to Bnai Brith and Haddasah? Have I not tried my very best to live a life that you would be proud of?"

A few minutes later another huge wave appears out of nowhere and crashes on the beach. As the water recedes, the boy is standing there, smiling, splashing around as if nothing had ever happened. A loud voice booms from the sky, "Okay, okay, I have returned your grandson. Are you satisfied?"

She responds, "He had a hat." [http://www.haruth.com]

 
Contributed By:
Paul Wallace
 
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A small congregation in the foothills of the Great Smokies built a new sanctuary on a piece of land willed to them by a church member. Ten days before the new church was to open, the local building inspector informed the pastor that the parking lot was inadequate for
the size of the building. Until the church doubled the size of the
parking lot, they would not be able to use the new sanctuary. Unfortunately, the church with its undersized parking lot had used every inch of their land except for the mountain against which it had been built. In order to build more parking spaces, they would have to move the mountain out of the back yard.
MOUNTAIN-MOVING FAITH

Undaunted, the pastor announced the next Sunday morning that he would meet that evening with all members who had "mountain moving faith." They would hold a prayer session asking God to remove the mountain from the back yard and to somehow provide enough money to have it paved and painted before the scheduled opening dedication service the
following week.

At the appointed time, 24 of the congregation's 300 members assembled for prayer. They prayed for nearly three hours. At ten o'clock the pastor said the final "Amen." "We'll open next Sunday as scheduled," he assured everyone. "God has never let us down before, and I believe He will be faithful this time too."

The next morning, as he was working in his study, there came a loud knock at the pastor's door. When he called, "Come in," a rough looking construction foreman appeared, removing his hard hat as he entered.

"Excuse me, Reverend. I'm from Acme Construction Company over
in the next county. We're building a huge new shopping mall over
there and we need some fill dirt. Would you be willing to sell us a
chunk of that mountain behind the church? We'll pay you for the
dirt we remove and pave all the exposed area free of charge, if we
can have it right away. We can't do anything else until we get the
dirt in and allow it to settle properly."

The little church was dedicated the next Sunday as originally planned and there were far more members with "mountain moving faith" on opening Sunday than there had been the previous week!

 
Contributed By:
SermonCentral 
 
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The Unbaptized Arm

Ivan the Great was the tsar of all of Russia during the Fifteenth Century. He brought together the warring tribes into one vast empire--the Soviet Union. As a fighting man he was courageous. As a general he was brilliant. He drove out the Tartars and established peace across the nation.

However, Ivan was so busy waging his campaigns that he did not have a family. His friends and advisers were quite concerned. They reminded him that there was no heir to the throne, and should anything happen to him the union would shatter into chaos. "You must take a wife who can bear you a son." The busy soldier statesman said to them that he did not have the time to search for a bride, but if they would find a suitable one, he would marry her.

The counselors and advisers searched the capitals of Europe to find an appropriate wife for the great tsar. And find her, they did. They reported to Ivan of the beautiful dark eyed daughter of the King of Greece. She was young, brilliant, and charming. He agreed to marry her sight unseen.

The King of Greece was delighted. It would align Greece in a favorable way with the emerging giant of the north. But there had to be one condition, "He cannot marry my daughter unless he becomes a member of the Greek Orthodox Church." Ivan’s response, "I will do it!"

So, a priest was dispatched to Moscow to instruct Ivan in Orthodox doctrine. Ivan was a quick student and learned the catechism in record time. Arrangements were concluded, and the tsar made his way to Athens accompanied by 500 of his crack troops--his personal palace guard.

He was to be baptized into the Orthodox church by immersion, as was the custom of the Eastern Church. His soldiers, ever loyal, asked to be baptized also. The Patriarch of the Church assigned 500 priests to give the soldiers a one-on-one catechism crash course. The soldiers, all 500 of them, were to be immersed in one mass baptism. Crowds gathered from all over Greece.

What a sight that must have been, 500 priests and 500 soldiers, a thousand people, walking into the blue Mediterranean. The priests were dressed in black robes and tall black hats, the official dress of the Orthodox Church. The soldiers wore their battle uniforms with of all their regalia--ribbons of valor, medals of courage. and their weapons of battle.

Suddenly, there was a problem. The Church prohibited professional soldiers from being members; they w...

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Contributed By:
Tim Zingale
 
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"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."

 
Contributed By:
David Simmons
 
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Why would God go to all the trouble to endure our bad choices and our flagrant sinning in order to have relationship with us? Hear the story of the lost son from the modern setting as told by Philip Yancey in his book What’s so Amazing about Grace.

Yancey tells the story of a prodigal daughter who grows up in Traverse City, Michigan. Disgusted with her old fashioned parents who overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, the length of her skirts, she runs away. She ends up in Detroit where she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. The man with the big car – she calls him “Boss” – recognizes that since she’s underage, men would pay premium for her. So she goes to work for him. Things are good for a while. Life is good. But she gets sick for a few days, and it amazes her how quickly the boss turns mean. Before she knows it, she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, and all the money goes to support her drug habit.

One night while sleeping on the metal grates of the city, she began to feel less like a woman of the world and more like a little girl. She begins to whimper. “God, why did I leave. My dog back home eats better than I do now.” She knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to go home. Three straight calls home get three straight connections with the answering machine. Finally she leaves a message. “Mom, dad, its me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, I‘ll understand.” During the seven hour bus ride, she’s preparing a speech for her father. And when the bus comes to a stop in the Traverse City station, the driver announces the fifteen-minute stop. Fifteen minutes to decide her life.

She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect. But not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepares her for what she sees. There in the bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of forty brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and a great-grandmother to boot. They’re all wearing goofy party hats and blowing noise-makers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads – Welcome Home!

Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She stares out through the tears quivering in her eyes and begins her memorized speech. He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. We’ll be late. A big party is waiting for you at home.”

 
Contributed By:
Larry Brincefield
 
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On a flight to Chicago, the pilot announced that the takeoff had been
postponed due to mechanical failure.
Later, the flight attendant announced that everyone who was heading for Chicago was to remain on the
plane.
Forgetting that the intercom was still on, the pilot was overheard in the background...he said "Whoops!"
A minute later, the pilot headed down the aisle toward the rear exit ramp,
with his hat in one hand
and his briefcase in the other.
One of the passengers saw the pilot and asked him, "Where are you going?"
The pilot told him in a low voice, "Denver."
The passenger replied, "This plane’s not going to Denver. It’s going to Chicago!"
The pilot, with his face turning red, said, "I know, I’m on the wrong plane!"

 
Contributed By:
A. Todd Coget
 
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Corrie Ten Boom and her family secretly housed Jews in their home during WW II. Their "illegal" activity was discovered, and Corrie and her sister Bessie were sent to the German death camp, Ravensbruck. There Corrie would watch many, including her sister, die.
After the war she returned to Germany to declare the grace of Christ.
It was 1947, and I’d come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. It was the truth that they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown.
"When we confess our sins," I said, "God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a Scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ’NO FISHING ALLOWED.’"
The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a cap with skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush—the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were! That place was Ravensbruck, and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard—one of the most cruel guards.
Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: "A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!" And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remembered him. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
"You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk," he was saying. "I was a guard there." No, he did not remember me. "But since that time," he went on, "I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein,"—again the hand came out—"will you forgive me?"
And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place. Could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. "If you do not forgive men their trespasses," Jesus says, "neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart.
B...

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Contributed By:
Tom Dooley
 
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Last year about this time our Tennessee Titans were involved in a heart wrenching defeat in the Super Bowl. All season they had fought back from deficits to win and it appeared as though they were going to pull off another comeback victory over the Rams. Unfortunately they came up about a yard and a half short.

The next evening when the team returned to Nashville they were bused to Adelphia Coliseum where more than 45,000 fans had gathered to greet and honor their team.

People painted their faces. They put on their Titan hats and jerseys. They screamed wildly as the team exited the bus and players were introduced.
When that tribute to the Titans team was over not one fan walked away saying, “That event was a dud. That did nothing for me.”

The event was a great success, not because of the performance, the team didn’t play. It wasn’t their speeches, because few of the players are great public speakers. It was a great success because people understood the purpose. The purpose wasn’t to please the fans. The purpose of the event was to honor the team and show how much they were appreciated.

That is what worship is about. Not about pleasing you and me, but expressing our appreciation and love to our Lord and Savior.

 
Contributed By:
Timothy Peck
 
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Even when we come across test questions that seem simple on the surface, we find that they’re often not as simple as we first thought. For instance, the answer to the question, "How long did the Hundred Years War last?’ seems obvious, but the answer is 116 years. When a test asks, "Which country manufactures Panama hats?" the correct answer is Equador. Here’s another: From what animal do we get cat gut? From sheep and horses of course. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution? November. What was King George IV’s first name? Well, everyone knows it was Albert. Ah yes...many test takers are glad to be out of school...far away from trick questions like that thought up in some teacher’s lounge.

But as far as we try to get from the rigors of the academic life, we find our lives are filled with other kinds of tests. We take driver’s tests, drug tests, polygraph tests, sobriety tests, eye tests, entrance exams. People in law enforcement have to qualify on the shooting range at least four times a year, many of you have to take a test for your chosen profession. Like it or not, tests are a part of life.

But is there a test to determine whether a person is on the right track spiritually?

 
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