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I want to read to you the opening story from David Platt's book "The Radical Question" (Multnomah Press).
Imagine a scene that took place in Asia not so long ago:
A room in an ordinary house, dimly lit, all the blinds on the windows closed. Twenty leaders from churches in the region sit quietly in a circle on the floor, their Bibles open. They speak in hushed tones or not at all. Some still glisten with sweat; others' clothes and shoes are noticeably dusty. They have been walking or riding bicycles since early morning when they left distant villages to get here.
Whenever a knock is heard or a suspicious sound drifts in, everyone freezes while a burly tough-looking man gets up to check things out.
These men and woman have gathered in secret, arriving intentionally at different times throughout the day so as not to draw attention. In this country it is illegal for Christians to come together like this. If caught, the people here could lose their land, their jobs, their families, even their lives.
I was in that dimly light room that day, a visitor from America. I huddled next to an interpreter, who helped me understand their stories as they began to share.
The tough-looking man--our "head of security"--was first to speak up. But as he spoke, his intimidating appearance quickly gave way to reveal a tender heart.
"Some of the people in my church have been pulled away by a cult," he said. Tears welled up in his eyes. "We are hurting. I need God's grace to lead my church through these attacks."
The cult that had been preying on his church is known for kidnapping Christians, taking them to isolated locations, and torturing them, my interpreter explained. Many brothers and sisters in the area would never tell the good news again. At least not with words. Their tongues had been cut out.
BE LIKE MIKE...?
Gary Thomas, in his book Authentic Faith, describes a friend of his named Mike. He met Mike when he went to college. Mike was a leader among students. He had everything: a contagious personality, athletic ability, good looks, and natural appeal. And everybody wanted to be around Mike. Everybody wanted to be Mike.
But a few years after college, Mike suffered a brain hemorrhage, and, as a result, he lost everything: his handsome appearance was gone, his voice was slurred, he couldn’t teach any more. Everything that others admired in Mike was now taken from him.
His treatment required months of grueling therapy, but eventually he was able to function again. The devastating effect on his body was paralleled by an equally powerful change in his spirit. He still attracted followers, but he was no longer focused on himself. He was focused on God. Gary Thomas says, "In college, when I was around Mike, I wanted to be like Mike. Now, after spending time with Mike, I want to be more like Jesus."
SOMETHING BETTER DOWN THE ROAD
A football game was being played in Badger Stadium in 1982 in Madison, Wisconsin with more than 60,000 fans in attendance. The home team was losing. But out of the blue during time outs, when play was a at stop, the fans would jump up and roar with excitement. Why?
Many of those in the stadiums were listening to a game being broadcast on the radio from 70 miles down the road. What they were listening to was the Milwaukee Brewers beating the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the 1982 World Series. Their team on the field was losing, but they were turned into something better down the road.
The Christian life is like that for us today. Our circumstances are bad at times but we must be tuned into something better down the road. We must place our hopes not in this world but in heaven.
(From a sermon by Tommy Burrus, "Dealing with Discouragement" 7/1/2009)
THE CONCEPT OF GRACE
There is a great article that illustrates the concept of grace written by Charles Stanley.
“One of my more memorable seminary professors had a practical way of illustrating to his students the concept of grace. At the end of his evangelism course he would distribute the exam with the caution to read it all the way through before beginning to answer it. This caution was written on the exam as well. As we read the test, it became unquestionably clear to each of us that we had not studied nearly enough.
The further we read, the worse it became. About halfway through, audible groans could be heard through out the lecture hall. On the last page, however, was a note that read, "You have a choice. You can either complete the exam as given or sign your name at the bottom and in so doing receive an A for this assignment."
Wow? We sat there stunned. "Was he serious? Just sign it and get an A?" Slowly, the point dawned on us, and one by one we turned in our tests and silently filed out of the room.
When I talked with the professor about it afterward, he shared some of the reactions he had received through the years. Some students began to take the exam without reading it all the way through, and they would sweat it out for the entire two hours of class time before reaching the last page.
Others read the first two pages, became angry, turned the test in blank, and stormed out of the room without signing it. They never realized what was available, and as a result, they lost out totally.
One fellow, however, read the entire test, including the note at the end, but decided to take the exam anyway. He did not want any gifts; he wanted to earn his grade. And he did. He made a C+, but he could easily have had an A.
This story illustrates many people’s reaction to God’s solution to sin. Some people look at God’s standard--moral and et...
THE LUKEWARM SHEEP
Now, for the sake of my illustration, I want to break a flock of sheep down into 3 groups.
1. The first group of sheep had DECIDED to look to Shepherd & follow Him wherever He leads.
These are the "Good sheep" who follow the "Good Shepherd. Jesus said: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 KJV
2. The 2nd group wants nothing to do with the Shepherd. They want to run their lives their own way and they deliberately DECIDE to walk away from Him. These are the pagans and atheists of society. They don't want to hear Jesus' voice... they don't want to follow.
3. But the 3rd group DECIDES that they like the Shepherd. They want to hang out with Him... but they don't want to get TOO close to Him. They still want to keep their options open. They want to look for their own grass once in a while. They want to nibble at a little of this and a little of that....
George Orwell once observed: "On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time."
That's the problem with this 3rd group of sheep.
They like being close to Jesus... just not too much, and not just all the time. And because they have this "loose" connection to the shepherd they're the ones who end up wandering off. They're the ones that end up getting lost. They're just close enough to the Shepherd to feel secure. And just far enough away to not hear His voice.
"My sheep hear my voice... and they follow me." says Jesus. John 10:27
And so, they wander off into their own little world, and they end up getting hurt and making bad decisions. And those bad decisions cause them pain and heartache.
As Proverbs 13:15 says, "...the way of transgressors is hard." (KJV)
Because they've chosen NOT to listen to the Good Shepherd and to follow Him closely, they are without the protection of that Shepherd and open to the attacks of Satan and this world.
September 2007 in Hampshire Rosemary Edwards left home without leaving any word or taking her things and has been missing all week. It was as a result of a her losing her job and her dads word which came to her explaining she would no longer be able to continue horse riding as a result the girl has run away from home – the Father since that day as been seeking his daughter on national radio and TV with an emotional appeal for the safe return of his daughter.
We can be like Rosemary with God – God may say something, do something, expect something and we don’t like it we want things how they are (comfort zones) and so we run. But like the love of the father who is pursuing his daughter. God will pursue you, as he pursued Jonah because when it comes to the will of God in our lives we can run and spend our whole lives running but we cannot hide from God.
By Aubrey Vaughan Jonah chapter1:Hide and seek. sermon c
There are many things I don’t enjoy. One of them is taking my vehicle to the dealership to have it serviced. Then there’s the wait for a ride back to the office (or sit in the waiting room drinking terrible coffee). I lose the rhythm in my day.
This past week was an absolute nightmare on Wednesday morning. I dropped the vehicle off and waited thirty minutes for the shuttle to get a ride back to the office. When I got to the office I was already thirty minutes late for a meeting, only to realise I had to leave at 11am for a meeting in London but wouldn’t have my vehicle! Our two staff kindly agreed to hike back to the dealership and get my un-serviced vehicle while I looked after my meeting at the office. THEN, when I finally left for London I was an hour late, and a call led me to turn around and come home because they figured the meeting would be nearly finished by the time I got there! And all because my vehicle needed to be serviced!
But I know it’s a necessary process, otherwise the vehicle will get ‘sick’ and have far more problems later on.
Sometimes I feel like my vehicle! There’s plenty of slug in my thoughts and grit in my spirit. But when I get together with God’s people, I get a tune-up!
There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance.
He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note.
The note read: "pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need". Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find. Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed. Now the note also said: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveller.” The man refilled the jug and added to the note: “ Please prime the pump, believe me it works”!
We have the same choice to make...
Sermon: THE DAY BEFORE ETERNITY
Scope: This sermon should challenge every listener to examine their relationship with Christ.
Summary: In light of the fact that we may be living in the day before eternity we should use our time, talents, and treasures to glorify God.
Segue: I want to share some truths with you that will prepare you for life and eternal life.
Introduction: John was born in 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts. He attended school at Harvard University. He was the author of two books. One was his thesis at Harvard, which was entitled Why England Slept. The other was Profiles in Courage, which won him a Pulitzer Price.
He was the Captain of a PT boat in World War II, and was decorated for his heroic rescue of the crew of his PT -- 109 after it was sunk. He was sunk. He was nominated for the Presidency with Lyndon Johnson as his running mate in 1960. His platform was formed from this statement: "We stand today on the edge of a new frontier."
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was elected as the 35th President of the United States. JFK was 43 years old when he became president making him the youngest man to ever be elected president. We all know the rest of the story. While traveling through Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 President Kennedy was assassinated.
I didn't know John F. Kennedy. I was not even born when he was assassinated. All I have to go by is what history has recorded for us. However, there is one thing I am pretty sure about this man. I am pretty sure he never intended for November 22, 1963 to be the day before eternity.
Robert Green was born June 5th, 1935. After high school he joined the US Navy from which he retired. He was a good husband, a wonderful father of two children, and the best uncle a boy could have ever had. After retiring from the Navy, Uncle Bobby settled his family in Panama City Florida where he worked as a Cable Television Technician. On September 16th, 1982, at the age of 47, Uncle Bobby fell dead from a heart attack while at work. I knew my Uncle Bobby very well. He was a man who rarely got sick. I know that he never expected September 16th, 1982 to be his day before eternity.
Lester Lecroy was one of twelve children. He grew up in a home of very meager means. He was a rambunctious, but dependable young man. While cooling off after a hard days work in a creek at a little place we called the Iron Bridge on Cotton Hill Road in Eufaula, Alabama Lester Lecroy lost his life at age 16. I knew Lester Lecroy. I know that he never thought that dreadful day would be his day before eternity.
Whether well-known or unknown, we are no different than any of the three men mentioned earlier. God's Word tells us that no one of us is promised tomorrow. In fact we do not know what the next breath may bring.
Psalm 94:19 - When doubts filled my mind
The doubts of this verse concern a multitude of realities as offered by John Gill. There are thoughts of the majesty of God and how we relate to him. It is offered that we sense security yet an uncertainty at the same time. We believe we have hope but are consumed with hopelessness; saved but lost; sure but doubtful at the same time. It is a struggling desire to be all God created us to be, realising we can never attain to that image; waiting for heaven but never sure it will come.