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Sermon Central Staff
"PLEASE COME BACK"
Max Lucado tells us about a girl named Christina. She lives in a small dusty village in Brazil. She’s bored. She feels like her strict parents have cheated her out of the joys of life. She longs for the excitement of the big city of Rio.
One morning her mother Maria finds Christina’s bed empty. Maria knew immediately where her daughter had gone. So she quickly throws some clothes in a bag, gathers up all her money, and heads for the bus station.
On her way, the mom enters one of those photograph booths in a local drug store and takes pictures of herself. She puts the pictures in her purse and takes the next bus to Rio de Janeiro.
She puts up pictures of herself all over town. But she can’t find her daughter. The weary mother gets back on the bus and weeps all the way home.
Months later, Christina slowly walks down the hotel stairs. She’s already worn down by life. Her young face is tired. Her brown eyes no longer dance with youth but speak of pain and fear.
A thousand times over she longed to go back home. She remembered the warm secure feeling of love and acceptance she had experience back with her mum in their little village. But she thought it was too late to turn back.
As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes notice a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina’s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back were these words: "Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home." And she did.
Christine’s mom pulled out all the stops to get her child to come back home, and this is exactly what God is doing for His children. It’s not His will for anyone here in this room to perish. "Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come back to Jesus."
(From a sermon by Maarc Axelrod, Crazy About His Kids, 2/9/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
WHO MADE ME?
I love the story of the boy sitting on his father's lap as they were looking into a mirror. The boy said to his dad, "Dad, who made me?"
He said, "God made you, son."
He said, "Dad, who made you?"
He said, "God made me, son."
He said, "Dad, who made granddad?"
He said, "God made him, son."
He said, "Dad, who made great-granddad?" He said, "God made him, son. Why do you ask?"
The boy took one look back in the mirror and said, "Well, it just seems to me He's been doing a better job in recent years!"
Laugh as we might and should, the boy was right. God so starts at conception to develop a child that unborn children have detectable heartbeats at just 18 days.
(From a sermon by Larry Moyer, What Does God Say about the Sanctity of Life? 1/5/2011)
THE TROUBLE TELESCOPE
Most of you have seen the wonderful images from the Hubble Space Telescope. From the far reaches of space, we're able to see God's most breathtaking creations. Do you remember that in the beginning the Hubble Space Telescope was not the wonderful machine that it is today. After lots of excitement, the telescope was launched several years ago and the first images were blurry. There was a flaw in the mirror. It was a terrible disappointment. That problem was later corrected, but at the time there was a joke making the rounds that said the only thing NASA learned from the Hubble Telescope was to never name a project that rhymed with "trouble." It was a huge embarrassment.
The self-centered life is just like the early years of the Hubble Space Telescope. It makes everything out of focus so that you don't see truth and reality -- you just see a blurry image of it. The self-centered life makes you think that you are the most important thing in the universe -- but you're not.
Have you ever wondered what makes the difference between a spotlight and a laser beam?
How can a medium-powered laser burn through steel in a matter of seconds, while the most powerful spotlight can only make it warm?
Both may have the same electrical power requirements.
The difference is unity.
A laser can be simply described as a medium of excited molecules with mirrors at each end.
Some of the excited molecules naturally decay into a less excited state.
In the decay process they release a photon, a particle of light.
It is here that the unique process of the laser begins.
The photon moves along and “tickles” another molecule, inviting another photon to join him on his journey.
Then these two photons “tickle” two more molecules and invite two more photons to join the parade.
Soon there is a huge army of photons marching in step with each other.
It is this unity that gives the laser its power.
A spotlight may have just as man...
The royal palace in Tehran, Iran has one of the most beautiful entrances of all palaces in the world today. As one enters the royal palace the doomed ceilings, sidewalls, and columns seemed to be covered with diamonds. When the Royal Palace was planned, the architects sent an order to Paris for mirrors to cover the entrance walls. The mirrors finally arrived in their crates. When they took the crates apart, all the broken pieces fell out. They were all smashed while being transported. They were going to throw them all away when one of the men had an idea to see how the broken pieces would look if they fitted them together. The result is an enormous distortion in reflections, and it sparkles with diamond like rainbow colors.
Broken to be more beautiful!
That is exactly what God can do with the broken pieces of our lives if we will just turn it over to Him.
G. Gert Behanna, converted at age of 60, went around the country speaking, wrote book THE LATE LIZ, in an interview “You know I travel around speaking for God and in the process I’m forced to use gas stations restrooms which are almost always filthy. I used to complain about that to God. I’d say, ‘Lord, If I’m your servant, how come I’ve got to use these dirty restrooms?’ One day in the midst of this kind of complaint, He seemed to say, ‘Gert, I come into this restroom too, right after you. (Mat 25:40 NIV) "The King will reply, ’I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” From that moment on, she said she never left a public restroom without cleaning a mirror, wiping the tile sink and picking towels up off the floor. After all that, she’d say, “There You are, Lord. I hope it’s clean enough for You.” Thereafter, instead of bemoaning the mess she found, she began to think of the person who would be coming after her.
Max Lucado, in No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, tells the story of Maria and her daughter Christina. Longing to leave her poor Brazilian neighborhood, Christina wanted to see the world. Discontent living at home having only a pallet on the floor, a washbasin, and a wood-burning stove, she dreamed of a better life in the city. One morning she ran away, breaking her mother’s heart. Her mother knew what life on the streets would be like for her young, attractive daughter, so Maria quickly packed to go find her daughter. On her way to the bus stop, she went to a drugstore to get one last thing—pictures. She sat in the photograph booth, closed the curtain, and spent all the money she could on pictures of herself. With her purse full of small black-and-white photos, she got on the next bus to Rio de Janeiro. Maria knew Christina had no way of earning money. She also knew that her daughter was too stubborn to give up. Maria began her search. Bars, hotels, nightclubs, any place with the reputation for street walkers or prostitutes. At each place she left her picture--taped on a bathroom mirror, tacked to a hotel bulletin board, or fastened to a corner phone booth. On the back of each photo she wrote a note. It wasn’t too long before Maria’s money and pictures ran out, and Maria had to go home. The tired mother cried as the bus began its long journey back to her small village. A few weeks later, Christina was coming down the stairs in a seedy hotel. Her young face was tired. Her brown eyes no longer danced with youth but spoke of pain and fear. Her laughter was broken. Her dream had become a nightmare. A thousand times she had longed to trade all those countless beds for her secure pallet. And yet the little village seemed too far away. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina’s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back Maria had written this: "Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home." And Christina went home. God is the same way. He wants us to come home. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. It doesn’t matter what we’ve become. We can always come home to Him. It is like Maria, reaching out for her daughter even when her daughter didn’t realize it. It is like God reaching out to us while we are living a life of sin and we are lost and yet, Christ is there...reaching....longing...desiring to bring us home. It is prevenient grace—it has kept us, as Newton writes, “safe thus far.”
After being away on business, a man thought it would be nice to bring his wife a little gift. “How about some perfume?” he asked the cosmetics clerk.
She showed him a bottle costing $50.00. “That’s a bit much,” he said, so she returned with a smaller bottle for $30.00. “That’s still quite a bit,” he complained. Growing annoyed, the clerk brought out a tiny $15.00...
Dave Dravecky: After he underwent surgery to remove his arm up to his collarbone. His cancerous left arm had been amputated. As he looked in the mirror he said "Okay God. This is what I have got to live with. Put this behind me; lets go forward."
A couple of days later he was walking the hospital corridor pushing his IV, came to the visitors lounge where a whole family has gathered. The wife sitting there worried, her husband has cancer throughout his whole body and the prognosis is not good. Dave sat down near her, the son came to him and asked him "Where do you get your peace?" Dave told him that Jesus Christ was the source of his peace, the entire family listened as he shared his testimony and his faith. He heard the complaints of the family, my father was a good man and he is in there suffering with cancer, while bad people run around healthy. He told them, "It is hard to understand suffering in this life, but you can't blame God for it. Sooner or later this earth is going to burn up, the only thing that will matter is if we go to heaven or not. I believe in miracles, I believe that God can and does heal people, but more important than that, I believe in the eternal hope of heaven, when I die, that's where I'm going, because heaven is my home."
From Richard White's Sermon "Peace That Surpasses"
My first staff position in a church was as the Associate Pastor of The Kirk Community Church in Dunedin, Florida. I normally arrived at church early but on this particular morning my wife and I had arrived just a few minutes before the worship service was to begin. As my wife Christina unbuckled the baby from his car seat, I straightened my tie in the mirror and watched something which is really rather commonplace in a rather uncommon way.
I have seen people go in and out of church many times. That morning though, it was as though veil had been removed from things I had never before seen. It was one of those moments when something that has always been right in front finally comes into focus. Were I a painter, I would love to paint this image the way that it appeared to me that day. I paint a portrait of people walking as if unencumbered yet clearly overloaded with piles and piles of clutter on their shoulders.
It was as though God was allowing me to see the burdens that we carry with us every day and bring with us into the doors of the church every Sunday. It was as if He wanted me to know just how heavy and cumbersome those burdens are. As I watched the people filing into the church building from their sedans, trucks, and minivans, it occurred to me that each person carried his own invisible burden.
Some carried the burden of guilt for past sins. These people hoped that by regularly attending church they would convince God to forgive them. Some of them carried the burden of fear, depression, and anxiety. These people came to into the church hoping to find peace – even if only for an hour on Sunday morning. Whatever their burdens were, one thing became clear to me; most of us, all of us, carry burdens that we were not intended to carry alone.
As I sat watching all of these people, many of whom I knew well, making their way into the church that Sunday, I was struck with the sense that so many of us come to church and generally live out our Christian faith out of what is largely a sense of obligation rather than of love. We fill our lives with repetitious, albeit well intentioned, deeds in order to fulfill our obligations rather than living a life which flows from the love of God working in and through us.
Imagine the folly of a man who chooses day in and day out to hoard and heap burdens upon his shoulders which are not his to carry alone. Imagine the woman who works diligently to earn the forgiveness which she has already received.
Dear Saints of God, if we are ever to learn to live lives which are filled with the grace of God, if we are ever to live the grace-filled life, we must let go of obligation and embrace love. We do not do good works to earn God’s favor; we do good works because we have received His favor. Good works, duty, stoic obligation are not what is pleasing to God. While people tend to be mostly concerned with the outward appearance of things, God is concerned with our hearts. (I Samuel 16:7)