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Contributed By:
Martin Dale
 
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THE RED BARON AND TEMPTATION

Manfred, Freiherr von Richthofen was a famous German First World War fighter pilot.

He was better known as the Red Baron because he flew a distinctive a red Fokker aircraft.

He shot down more combat planes than any one else on either side in the first World war

His known kill tally was 80.

On 21st April 1918, he began chasing a Canadian plane - that was trying to escape the battle over the Mor-lan-court Ridge, near the river Somme.

As the Red Baron pursued his prey, he strayed behind Allied lines.

He dived too low into the enemy lines

And he also he missed a Canadian pilot (Arthur) "Roy" Brown coming up on his tail to help his comrade.

We will never know whether it was a shot from the ground - or a shot from Brown that killed Richthofen.

But what we do know is that the "Red Baron" came to his end because he made the mistake of pursuing that Allied 'plane "too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory" (as one report so succinctly put it)

And many committed Christians have been shot down because they have followed temptation for too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory.

And as with Richthofen -- they are then caught unawares and then have to deal with the conseqences.

 
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So if the kingdom of heaven is so valuable, why doesn’t everybody do everything they can to be a part of it? I think it’s because value is often in the eye of the beholder. What has value and what doesn’t is really up to personal interpretation. What some people think are valuable have no value at all to others. Several years ago I used to heat our house with wood. Every fall I would go out and cut wood with my friend Roger Raether and Bob Bosma. I never liked cutting wood because it was a lot of back breaking work but I liked the price. It was free except for the labor so we would take a Saturday here and there in the fall to cut wood and pile it up for the winter. In addition to cutting wood I used to get the wood scraps from a store called “The Wooden Bird.” They make beautiful hand carved bird decoys and animal decoys out of wood. Every decoy costs from 50 to 250 bucks and they are really nice decorative pieces to put on the mantle. Their shop used to be right here in St. Boni so every couple of weeks I would stop in and pick up their leftover wood scraps to burn in my wood burner. Right before Thanksgiving I stopped in to pick up a load of scraps. I walked in the front door and told them I was there to pick up the wood. The man wheeled out two bins like usual to the loading doors and helped me load them in the truck. Usually the wood was just chunks of pine but this time they looked like decoys. I asked him if he was sure that he was giving me the right wood because they were unpainted decoys. I noticed that they had a few cracks in them so I figured they were throwing them away because of the cracks. The man insisted that I had the right stuff and waved me goodbye. I took my load of wood and promised that I would bring his carts back as soon as I got the chance. He told me there was no hurry and I could even bring them back after Thanksgiving. I went home and unloaded the decoys in a big pile in the basement. The wood burner was low so I grabbed a handful of decoys and threw them in the furnace. That dry pine burned nice and hot so I threw in a few more to ward of the cold. Then I went back to work. After work I went home and reloaded the furnace with decoys and had just enough time to bring back the carts before they closed for the long weekend. When I pulled up in my truck two men ran out of the building and demanded that I bring back the decoys. I asked why and with urgency in his voice he told me that I had taken their entire inventory of Christmas decoys worth tens of thousands of dollars by mistake. He went on and on about calling the police and trying to find my vehicle and driving around for the past three hours in a complete panic because I had taken their entire Christmas inventory of decoys worth thousands of dollars by mistake. I pointed at the guy who gave them to me and he just gave me the deer in the headlights look and walked back into the building. Then the manager said do you still have them because they are incredibly valuable. Each decoy had taken them over a week to make and they needed to get them back. Rather stunned I told them that I had burned a few of them but would bring the rest back. Then I went home and carefully loaded a few hundred decoys back into the bins and brought them back to the Wooden Bird. Value is often in the eye of the beholder. The decoys had no value to me other than a little heat. But to the Wooden bird, the decoys were worth tens of thousands of dollars.

 
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WHEN THINGS GO WRONG

Several years ago, Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Bob Patterson described one of his pitches, which the Cincinnati Reds’ Barry Larkin hit for a game-winning home run: "It was a cross between a screwball and a change-up. It was a screw-up." (Wall Street Journal, 7/9/96; Leadership, Vol. 17, no.3)

That describes our lives sometimes, but what do we do when we screw-up? What do we do when we fail? What do we do when life doesn’t go as we planned?

(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Lessons from Failure, 6/22/2012)

 
Contributed By:
Harvie Neatherlin
 
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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...

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Contributed By:
Robert Kohl
 
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PARABLE OF THE CANDLES

There was a blackout one night. When the lights went out, I fumbled to the closet where we keep the candles for nights like this ... I lit four of them. I was turning to leave with the large candle in my hand when I heard a voice,
"Now, hold it right there."

"Who said that?"

"I did." The voice was near my hand.

"Who are you? What are you?"

"I'm a candle."

I lifted up the candle to take a closer look. There was a tiny face in the wax. "Don't take me out of here!"

"What?"

"I said, Don't take me out of this room."

"What do you mean? I have to take you out. You're a candle. Your job is to give light. It's dark out there."

"But you can't take me out. I'm not ready," the candle explained with pleading eyes. "I need more preparation."

I couldn't believe my ears. "More preparation?"

"Yeah, I've decided I need to research this job of light-giving so I won't go out and make a bunch of mistakes. You'd be surprised how distorted the glow of an untrained candle can be..."

"All right then," I said. "You're not the only candle on the shelf. I'll blow you out and take the others!"

But right then I heard other voices, "We aren't going either!"

I turned to the other candles, "You are candles and your job is to light dark places!"

"Well, that may be what you think," said the first one, "You may think we have to go, but I'm busy ... I'm meditating on the importance of light. It's really enlightening."

"And you other two," I asked, "Are you going to stay, too?"
A short, fat, purple candle with plump cheeks spoke up. "I'm waiting to get my life together, I'm not stable enough."

The last candle had a female voice, very pleasant to the ear. "I'd like to help, "she explained, "but lighting the darkness is not my gift ... I'm a singer. I sing to other candles to encourage them to burn more brightly."

She began a rendition of "This Little Light of Mine." The other three joined in, filling the closet with singing.

I took a step back and considered the absurdity of it all. Four perfectly healthy candles singing to each other about light but refusing to come out of the closet.

Here is a question for you--when was the last time you shared the gospel to someone? This world is full of darkness, with many people stumbling around trying to find their way. You can be a light for them, and believe me, there's a light waiting for you. It can all happen with something as sharing the faith, to just a smile across the room, to a quick hello to a forgotten friend. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE BEFORE MEN THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS, AND GLORIFY YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN." Matthew 5:14-16

- Author unknown

 
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IS YOUR NAME IN THE BIBLE?--THE CASE OF A NEW YORK CITY BAG LADY

Years ago, there was a bag lady in New York City who attended a preaching service at a Manhattan Rescue Mission. Afterwards in the line to receive soup, she mentioned to the preacher she was now ready to give her life to Jesus. She said, "I never knew until today that my name is in the Bible."

The preacher smiled and said, "What's your name?"

She said, "Edith. My name is Edith. And my name is in the Bible."

The preacher said, "I'm sorry ma'am but you must be mistaken. The name Edith never appears in the Bible."

She said, "Oh yes it does, you read it a few minutes ago!" He opened his Bible and she pointed her dirty finger to Luke 15:2. The preacher had been using the King James Version, and it says, "This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them." She said, "There it is! Jesus receiveth sinners and Edith with them!"

And indeed, the good news is Jesus does receive sinners, and Edith, and David, and Jane, and Mary, and John and anyone else who comes to Him! We've seen a wonderful picture of what God is like. He is a God who regrets your rebellion, who runs when you return, and who restores you when you repent.

(From a sermon by Fred Markes, What is God Like?, 8/30/2011)

 
Contributed By:
Nathan Johnson
 
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Dr. Thomas M. Carter, an ex-convict, tells a thrilling story of his mother who constantly followed him with her prayers. On one occasion while he was in prison, she received a telegram stating that he was dead and asking what she wanted done with his body. Stunned by the news, she opened her Bible and laid the message beside it. "Oh, God," she said, "I have steadfastly believed that You are a rewarder of them who diligently seek You. I felt sure that I would live to see Tom saved and preaching the Gospel; and now this wire says he is dead. Lord, which is true, this telegram or Your promises to me?" When she rose from her knees, having won the victory, she sent this note to the prison: "You must be wrong. My boy is not dead!" There had been a mistake -- Tom Carter was alive! He was later converted and lived to preach!

 
Contributed By:
Dru Ashwell
 
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In Bill Gates’ new book Business @ The Speed of Thought, he lays out 11 rules that students do not learn in high school or college, but should.
He argues that our feel-good, politically correct teachings have created a generation of kids with no concept of reality who are set up for failure in the real world.

RULE 1 - Life is not fair; get used to it.
RULE 2 - The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
RULE 3 - You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone, until you earn both a high school and college degree.
RULE 4 - If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
RULE 5- Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping, they called it opportunity.
RULE 6 - If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
RULE 7 - Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills; cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try "delousing"
the clothes in your own room.
RULE 8 - Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they wil...

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Contributed By:
Daniel DeVilder
 
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Max Lucado (Angels were Silent)

Describes how in a similar way we cry out for something to cut through the clutter of life, turning to faith and religion to give us simplicity, instead finding things just as complicated:

Enter, religion. We Christians have a solution for the confusion don’t we? “Leave the cluttered world of humanity,” we invite, “and enter the sane, safe garden of religion.”
Let’s be honest.

Instead of a “sane, safe garden,” how about a “wild and woolly sideshow”? It shouldn’t be the case, but when you step back and look at how religion must appear to the unreligious, well, the picture of an amusement park comes to mind.

Flashing lights of ceremony and pomp. Roller-coaster thrills of emotion. Loud music. Strange people. Funny clothes.

Like barkers on a midway preachers persuade: “Step right up to the Church of Heavenly Hope of High Angels and Happy Hearts ….”
• “Over here, madam; that church is too tough on folks like you. Try us, we teach salvation by sanctification which leads to purification and stabilization. That is unless you prefer the track of predestination which offers …”
• “Your attention, please sir. Try our premillennial, non-charismatic, Calvinistic Creed service on for size … you won’t be disappointed.”

A safe garden of serenity? No wonder a lady said to me once, “I’d like to try Jesus, if I could just get past the religion.”

He goes on to tell a favorite story of his where this simplicity was found:

Once a bishop who was traveling by ship to visit a church across the ocean. While en route, the ship stopped at an island for a day. He went for a walk on a beach. He came upon three fishermen mending their nets.
Curious about their trade he asked them some questions. Curious about his ecclesiastical robes, they asked him some questions. When they found out he was a Christian leader, they got excited. “We Christians!” they said, proudly pointing to one another.
The bishop was impressed but cautious. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard of it.
“What do you say, then, when you pray?”
“We pray, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’ ”
The bishop was appalled at the primitive nature of the prayer. “That will not do.” So he spent the day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. The fishermen were poor but willing learners. And before the bishop sailed away the next day, they could recite the prayer with no mistakes.
The bishop was proud.
On the return trip the bishop’s ship drew near the island again. When the island came into view the bishop came to the deck and recalled with pleasure the men he had taught and resolved to go see them again. As he was thinking a light appeared on the horizon near the island. It seemed to be getting nearer. As the bishop gazed in wonder he realized the three fishermen were walking toward him on the water. Soon all the passengers and crew were on the deck to see the sight.
When they were within speaking distance, the fisherman cried out, “Bishop, we come hurry to meet you.”
“What is it you want?” asked the stunned bishop.
“We are so sorry. We forget lovely prayer. We say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name …’ and then we forget. Please tell us prayer again.”
The bishop was humbled. “Go back to your homes, my friends, and when you pray say, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’ ”





Those three fisher men had encountered that you don’t have to be too complicated in your faith, you don’t have to get it all right.

Instead, they had hearts that were focused and strengthened by simple trust in God.

The two men in our story in Luke—like so many of us searching for strength and security and sense in a complicated and confounding world—ended up finding their answer in a remarkable man that cut through all of their confusion.

 
Contributed By:
Steve Gladwell
 
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Think of a husband and wife in a car, the wife tells her husband to turn right at the next junction and by mistake, he turns left. When he realises what he has done, he says to his wife “I’m sorry love, I went the wrong way.” But if that is all he does, it isn’t enough. His saying sorry isn’t getting them any closer to where they want to be; it isn’t even stopping them getting further away. To get where they want to be, he needs to stop the car, turn it around and go back on to the correct road that his wife told him to take in the first place. That is repentance.

 
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