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Sermon Central Staff
WHAT A CONTAGIOUS CHRISTIAN LOOKS LIKE
Bill Hybels, Becoming a Contagious Christian: "Recently, I saw a letter written by a relatively new Christian to the person whose life had influenced hers so greatly. She actually lists about a dozen qualities she found contagious in the life of this older Christian. Listen to some of what she wrote:
'You know when we met; I began to discover a new vulnerability, a warmth, and a lack of pretence that impressed me. I saw in you a thriving spirit--no signs of internal stagnation anywhere. I could tell you were a growing person and I liked that. I saw you had strong self-esteem, not based on the fluff of self-help books, but on something a whole lot deeper. I saw that you lived by convictions and priorities and not just by convenience, selfish pleasure, and financial gain. And I had never met anyone like that before. I felt a depth of love and concern as you listened to me and didn’t judge me. You tried to understand me, you sympathized and you celebrated with me, you demonstrated kindness and generosity--and not just to me, but to other people, as well. And you stood for something. You were willing to go against the grain of society and follow what you believed to be true, no matter what people said, and no matter how much it cost you. And for those reasons and a whole host of others, I found myself really wanting what you had. Now that I’ve become a Christian, I wanted to write to tell you I’m grateful beyond words for how you lived out your Christian life in front of me.'"
(From a sermon by Michael Luke, Discussing the Deacons, 5/5/2011)
GOD’S GLORY AT MARANATHA
At the 2009 Kansas high school state track championship, an unusual thing happened. The team that won the girls 3,200-meter relay was disqualified. But what happened next was even more unusual. The team that was awarded the state championship by default turned right around and gave their medals to the team that had been disqualified.
The first school, St. Mary’s Colgan, lost first place because judges ruled that a runner had stepped out of her lane as she handed off the baton. That meant the second team, Maranatha Academy, moved up to first. After receiving their medals, the girls from Maranatha saw the downtrodden looks on the faces of the St. Mary’s girls, so they gave them their individual medals.
Why did they do this? As Maranatha’s coach Bernie Zarda put it: (Illustration by Dave Branon, Our Daily Bread)
A law on drunken driving in Louisiana is now one of the toughest in the nation. There is a mandatory prison sentence for anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated. Getting it passed was a major victory for various groups against drunk driving. They could not have gotten it passed it if were not for the help of one particular state legislator who sponsored the bill.
Not long after the new law took effect the first person to be arrested for DUI was brought before the judge and found guilty. He was sentenced to a prison term. Who was he? The same legislator who sponsored the bill! Jesus said, “For the way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure it shall be measured to you.”
STUBBORN JOY--Communion Meditation
"No man had more reason to be miserable than this one – yet no man was more joyful.
His first home was a palace. Servants were at his fingertips. The snap of his fingers changed the course of history. His name was known and loved. He had everything – wealth, power, respect. And then he had nothing.
Students of the event still ponder it. Historians stumble as they attempt to explain it. How could a king lose everything in one instant? One moment he was royalty; the next he was in poverty.
His bed became, at best, a borrowed pallet – and usually the hard earth. He never owned even the most basic mode of transportation and was dependent upon handouts for his income. He was sometimes so hungry he would eat raw grain or pick fruit off a tree. He knew what it was like to be rained on, to be cold. He knew what it meant to have no home.
His palace grounds had been spotless; now he was exposed to filth. He had never known disease, but was now surrounded by illness.
In his kingdom he had been revered; now he was ridiculed. His neighbors tried to lynch him. Some called him a lunatic. His family tried to confine him to their house.
Those who didn’t ridicule him tried to use him. They wanted favors. They wanted tricks. He was a novelty. They wanted to be seen with him – that is, until being with him was out of fashion. THEN they wanted to kill him.
He was accused of a crime he never committed. Witnesses were hired to lie. The jury was rigged. No lawyer was assigned to his defense. A Judge swayed by politics handed down the death penalty.
They killed him.
He left as he came – penniless. He was buried in a borrowed grave, his funeral financed by compassionate friends. Though he once had everything...
Sermon Central Staff
It's easy to be misunderstood. Misunderstanding happens all the time. It is very, very easy to be misunderstood.
One way to be misunderstood is to be vague and hazy. Just mumble under your breath and utter ambiguities, and I guarantee that you will be misunderstood. Some of you are devotees of the mystery show, "Rumpole." Rumpole is a lawyer in a British courtroom, and he has a way of voicing unflattering opinions of the judges. But he always does it under his breath, with a carefully chosen mumble, and with words which can easily be switched around, just in the nick of time. The judge kind of thought he heard him saw, "Blithering old idiot"; but when challenged Rumpole explains that he really said, "Blizzard in the thicket."
You can be misunderstood, if you like, by being vague and hazy.
Or, you can be misunderstood if you speak in formalities and technicalities. If you persist in using specialized, technical jargon, you can be misunderstood by us lesser mortals, who are not initiated in the ways of your world.
There was the lawyer in a personal injury suit, for example, who asked the plaintiff, "And is it true that you were shot in the lumbar region?" The answer came back, "No sir, we weren't in the woods at all."
The follow-up question, "Well, sir, I understand you and the defendant were involved in an altercation". "Oh, no sir, he's not my tailor."
Let's try again, "But didn't he shoot you in the fracas?" "Well, I would say it was about midway between the fracas and the navel!"
If you insist in speaking in technicalities, you can easily be misunderstood.
There are other possibilities, if you are interested in being misinterpreted. You can talk to people who are so woodenheaded and distracted, that they don't really hear you. They hear you but they don't hear you. Richard Nixon was shaking hands at an airport one day, and a little girl asked, "How is Smokey doing?" Nixon looked puzzled, and so an aide whispered in his ear, "Smokey the Bear, National Zoo". At that the president's face brightened, he stuck out his hand, and grinned, "How do you do, Miss Bear?"!
It's easy to be misunderstood, if you choose the wrong audience!
But what if you as a person are misunderstood? What if someone deeply, profoundly misunderstands you? Not just what you say, but who you are? What if you find that your motives are suspect and your character is called into question? What if they say that you are ineffective at what you are doing, and they devalue you as a person? What then? What do you do about it if you are deeply and profoundly misunderstood? You really don't want that!
Jesus faced such a situation. Jesus was misunderstood.
From a sermon by Joseph Smith, Friend of the Misunderstood
During a trial, in a small Missouri town, the local prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand. The witness was a proper well-dressed elderly lady, the Grandmother type, well spoken, and poised. She was sworn in, asked if she would tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, on the Bible, so help her God.
The prosecuting attorney approached the woman and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?’” She responded, “Why, yes I do know you, Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, cheat on your wife, manipulate people and talk badly about them behind their backs. You think you’re a rising big shot when you haven’t the sense to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper-pushing shyster. Yes, I know you quite well.”
The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?”
She again replied, “Why, yes, I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He’s lazy, bigoted, has a bad drinking problem. The man can’t build or keep a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. Yes, I know him.”
The defense attorney almost fainted. Laughter mixed with gasps, thundered throughout the courtroom and the audience was on the verge of chaos.
At this point, the judge brought the courtroom to silence, called both counselors to the bench, and in a very quiet voice said, “If either of you morons asks her if she knows me, you’re going to jail.”
I WILL PAY THE FINE
Let's say you where caught speeding down this highway in front of the church. You were doing 100 mph, obviously slightly out of the acceptable speeding window. You go to court and just as the judge is about to throw the book at you, someone steps forward and says, "I will pay the fine. I will take the punishment." And you get off, without paying the fine, without any punishment at all. You have been justified, Made right in the eyes of the law. It doesn't change the fact that you were speeding, but the court sees you as innocent. That is what Christ did for us.
THE EMPTY GIFT
"I was enjoying 1st grade to the fullest until one day in December when the little girl behind me set "it" on her desk. It was the tiniest Christmas present imaginable, less than an inch on each side with white glossy paper tied up with a sliver of red cellophane. Immediately I was captivated. I had never seen anything so exquisite. Day after day the tiny gift caught my eye, and my active imagination tried to guess what miniature treasure might be inside. It had to be something wondrous beyond description.
I longed for that object with all the power a 5-year-old can muster. Finally, I became convinced that it should be mine. I deserved it because I desired it. Since I rode an early bus to school, it was a simple matter to slip into the empty classroom one morning. My hands eagerly tore open the tiny present. Inside I found - nothing.
Staring at the destruction in my hand, anticipation dissolved into disappointment and confusion. Gradually my stunned mind grasped the fact that the little package had been nothing more than a hollow decoration. I sat at my desk with the empty paper and an empty feeling, sickened by the knowledge of my guilt.
Little did I know that morning that this scene would repeat itself many times in my life. As I grew up the world enticed me wi...
Sermon Central Staff
EATING A BALD EAGLE
A forest ranger is making rounds in a remote part of the wooded reserve when he comes across an unkempt man, sitting at a make-shift campfire, and, to the ranger's astonishment, eating a fish and a bald eagle.
The man is consequently put in jail for the crime. He was soon brought to trial for his crime. The Judge asked the man, "Do you know that eating a bald eagle is a federal offense?"
"Yes, I do, Judge," replied the man, "but if you will let me argue my case, I'll explain what happened."
"You may proceed."
"I got lost in the woods and hadn't had anything real to eat for two weeks," the man explained. "I was so hungry, I was eating plants to stay alive. Next thing I see is a Bald Eagle swooping down at the lake grabbing a fish. I thought 'If I startled the eagle, I could maybe steal the fish.' Low and behold, the eagle lighted upon a nearby tree stump to eat the fish. I threw a stone toward the eagle hoping he would drop the fish and fly away. Unfortunately, in my weakened condition, my aim was off, and the rock hit the eagle squarely on his poor little head, and it killed him. I thought long and hard about what had happened, but figured that since I had killed it, I might as well eat it, since it would be more disgraceful to let it rot on the ground."
The Judge says he would take a recess to analyze the defendant's testimony. Fifteen minutes goes by, and the Judge returns.
"Due to the extreme circumstances you were under and because you didn't intend to kill the eagle, the court will dismiss the charges." The Judge then leans over the bench and whispers: "If you don't mind my asking, what does a bald eagle taste like?"
"Well, Your Honor, it is hard to explain. I guess the best comparison I can make is, it's a bit more tender than a California Condor, but lacks the tang of a Spotted Owl."
(From a sermon by J.D. Tutell, He Prepares a Table, 2/3/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
RUBY BRIDGES ON DOING WHAT'S RIGHT
"A federal judge had ordered New Orleans to open its public schools to African-American children, and the white parents decided that if they had to let black children in, they would keep their children out. They let it be known that any black children who came to school would be in for trouble. So the black children stayed home too.
"Except Ruby Bridges. Her parents sent her to school all by herself, six years old.
"Every morning she walked alone through a heckling crowd to an empty school. White people lined up on both sides of the way and shook their fists at her. They threatened to do terrible things to her if she kept coming to their school. But every morning at ten minutes to eight Ruby walked, head up, eyes ahead, straight through the mob; two U.S. marshals walked ahead of her and two walked behind her. Then she spent the day alone with her teachers inside that big silent school building.
"Harvard professor Robert Coles was curious about what went into the making of courageous children like Ruby Bridges. He talked to Ruby's mother and, in his book The Moral Life of Children, tells what she said: 'There's a lot of people who talk about doing good, and a lot of people who argue about what's good and what's not good,' but there are folks who 'just put their lives on the line for what's right'"
(Lewis Smedes, 1001 Quotes, Illustrations and Humorous Stories for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers, 221. From a sermon by Eric Lenhart, Thursday -- "Sleepy Heads" 8/13/2010)