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2 Corinthians 3:13-3:18
1 Peter 1:1-1:9
2 Chronicles 7:1-7:4
1 Peter 1:4-1:4
2 Peter 1:4-1:4
1 Peter 1:22-1:22
1 John 2:2-2:2
2 Peter 1:3-1:11
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2:4
2 Corinthians 3:1-3:11
In a speech made in 1863, Abraham Lincoln said, "We have been the receipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prospertiy; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."
Sermon Central Staff
HANNAH AND MICHAEL: FINDING WHAT WAS LOST
Let me tell you what happened to Ted Forbes back in 1984.
While walking down a street in Chicago...Ted found a wallet. Being an honest Christian man he wanted to return it to its owner. So he opened it to look for identification. The wallet contained just $3.00. No driverís license...no Social Security card...no pictures...nothing to indicate who owned the billfold.
Looking through the wallet a little more, Ted found and an old envelope. It was wrinkled and looked as if it had been carried there for years. The only part of the writing on the envelope that could be read was the return address.
To find more information, Ted opened the envelope, and to his surprise, the letter was dated June 6, 1924. The letter had been written nearly 60 years before. It was a "Dear John" letter. It was written to a man named Michael, and it was from a woman named Hannah.
She explained that though she loved him, and she would always love him, her parents had forbidden her to see him any more.
Ted Forbes wanted to locate the owner of the lost wallet. He drove to the location listed on the return address. He parked the car and walked up to the door.
A woman answered the door. Ted asked the lady if she knew a Michael or a Hannah. He was told that 30 years ago she had purchased the house from a family whose daughter was named Hannah. She said that Hannah had placed her mother in a nursing home just a few blocks down the street.
Ted drove down to the nursing home. He explained the story to the Nursing Supervisor. She told Ted that the lady he was trying to find had died. However, she gave him a telephone number where he might locate Hannah.
Calling that number he learned that Hannah was not living there anymore. The person answering the phone said Hannah was now in an apartment house for the elderly.
Ted began to wonder why he was making such a big deal out of an old, lost wallet which contained only $3.00 and a crumpled up old letter. But he decided to keep looking until he ran into a dead end.
He finally tracked down Hannah and went to visit her at the elderly apartment house. She had an apartment on the 3rd Floor. Ted knocked on the door. A gray-haired, alert, bright eyed lady with a warm smile on her face answered the door. Yes, it was Hannah Marshall.
Ted told her about finding the wallet and, showing her the letter, asked if she knew someone named Michael.
Hannah took the letter. Tears filled her eyes. She told Ted that the letter was the last contact she had with Michael. She said that she had never married because she never met anyone she loved as much as Michael. Then she asked Ted if, when he found Michael, he would tell him she still loved him and that she thought about him every day.
Ted thanked her and left. As he was walking down the apartment house hallway, he was carrying the wallet in his hand. The janitor saw the wallet and stopped Ted in the hallway. "Let me see that wallet."
Ted handed it to him. "Why, thatís Mr. Goldsteinís wallet. Iíd know it anywhere. Heís always losing it." Ted asked where he could find Mr. Goldstein. The janitor said he lived in Apartment 6 on the 8th Floor.
So, Ted quickly made his way to the eighth floor. He found Apartment #6 and knocked on the door. Sure enough, an old man named Michael answered the door. Ted showed the wallet to the old man. He asked if it was his. Yes, it was. Ted admitted reading the letter to seek identification of the owner.
Mr. Goldstein asked, "You read it?" Then he told Ted that his life nearly ended many years ago when he lost Hannah. He had never married and had never stopped loving her.
Then Ted said, "Mr. Goldstein, I think I know where Hannah is."
The old man became very excited. Ted simply took him by the hand, led him to the elevator and down to the third floor to Hannah Marshallís apartment door.
When she opened the door, they looked at one another in disbelief. Michael Goldstein walked slowly to Hannah. He took her in his arms. And the 60-year separation evaporated in the warmth of their love.
About three weeks after Michael and Hannah were reunited, Ted got a call asking him to be their best man. They were to be married after years of separation.
It must have been some sight: a 79-year-old man and a 76-year-old woman acting like teenagers. A perfect ending to a tragic separation. They had every reason to celebrate.
(From a sermon by David Rigg, When a Lost Person Is Saved, 3/30/2011)
The soldier walks 21 steps. On the 21st step he turns and faces the tomb he is guarding. He does this for 21 seconds. The soldier then turns to head back the other direction. He moves his rifle to his outside shoulder away from the tomb. After 21 seconds he walks 21 steps and repeats the process again and again.
Since July 1, 1937 a relatively small number of hand picked soldiers have stood guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The tough duty is not for everyone. Over 80% of the soldiers who tryout for guard duty at the Tomb do not make it. Each soldier must have strong military bearing, discipline, stamina, and present an outstanding soldierly appearance. Each Sentinel must be able to flawlessly perform seven different types of walks, honors, and ceremonies. They must retain vast amounts of knowledge concerning the Tomb, Arlington National Cemetery, the United States Army, and their unit. They can have no military or civilian convictions for violating the law. They must score a minimum of 250 on the Army Physical Fitness Test. Their height must be within 5í11Ē Ė 6í4.Ē They need a 30-inch waist and be able to present a soldierly appearance in the Army Blue Uniform.
The Tomb Guards make personal sacrifices to have the honor of serving in their special role. They work on a team rotation similar to firemen at a firehouse. Those soldiers who serve well for at least nine months are rewarded with a special badge to wear on their uniforms that acknowledges their service at the Tomb of the Unknowns. If they ever bring shame on the tomb that they guard or otherwise fail in their duty they are stripped of the badge and the honor that goes with it.
From: Michael Otterstatterís Sermon: Live Your Life Worthy of the LORD!
THE EVOLUTION OF MOTHERS
Being a parent changes everything. But being a parent also changes with each baby. Here are some of the ways having a second and third child is different from having the first.
1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your doctor
confirms your pregnancy.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.
Preparing for the Birth
1st baby: You practice your breathing
2nd baby: You donít bother practicing because you remember that last
time, breathing didnít do a thing.
3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your 8th
1st baby: You pre-wash your newbornís clothes, color-coordinate them,
and fold them neatly in the babyís little bureau.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes
are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.
3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, canít they?
1st baby: At the first sign of distress--a whimper, a frown--you pick
up the baby.
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your
3rd baby: You teach your 3-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.
1st baby: If the pacifier falls on the floor, you put it away until you can go home and wash and boil it.
2nd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you squirt it off with some juice from the babyís bottle.
3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it back in.
1st baby: You change your babyís diapers every hour, whether they need it or not.
2nd baby: You change their diaper every 2 to 3 hours, if needed.
3rd baby: You try to change their diaper before others start to
complain about the smell or you see it sagging to their knees.
1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.
2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.
Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Zaire (formerly the Belgian Congo), told the following story: A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby. We tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle we had was beyond repair. So during devotions that morning we asked the children to pray for the baby and for her little sister who was now an orphan. One of the girls responded, "Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead. And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she wonít feel so lonely." That afternoon a large parcel arrived from England. Eagerly the children watched as we opened it. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle Immediately the girl who had prayed so earnestly started to delve deeper, exclaiming, "If God sent that, Iím sure He also send a doll." And she was right The Heavenly Father knew in advance of the childís sincere requests, and 5 months before, He had led a ladies group to include both of those specific articles. Although many of our prayers are not answered so dramatically, God is always aware of our needs. ďAre not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Donít be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrowsĒ (Luke 12:6-7). Letís thank Him regularly for His loving responses to our needs.
Sermon Central Staff
Unity is not simply an intellectual exercise. We can believe the same things, recite the same creeds, belong to the same denomination, but that does not mean we have unity.
In his book Soul Talk, Larry Crabb writes:
"Which is worse? A church program to build community that doesnít get off the ground or one person sitting every Sunday in the back of the church who remains unknown? A Sunday school class that once drew hundreds but has now dwindled to thirty or a Sunday school teacher whose sense of failure is never explored by a caring friend? A family torn apart by the fatherís drinking, his wifeís frustration, and their third graderís learning disabilities or a self-hating dad, a terrified mom, and a lonely little boy, three human beings whose beauty and value no one ever discovers? A national campaign that fails to gain steam for the pro-life movement or a single woman on her way home from an abortion clinic in the backseat of a taxi, a woman whose soul no one ever touches?"
We may notice the unknown pew sitter, we wonder how the teacher of the now small class feels, we worry over each member of the torn-up family, and we feel for the guilt and pain of a woman who has ended her babyís life. But we do whatís easier. We design programs, we brainstorm ways to build attendance, and in our outrage over divorce statistics and abortion numbers we fight for family values.
These are all good things, but we donít TALK to the pew sitter; we donít ASK the teacher how heís feeling; we donít INVITE the dad to play golf, the woman to lunch, or the little boy to play with our children; we donít let the aborting woman know we CARE about her soul.
That response to hurting people, I would label disunity. Disunity is not just fighting over personal preferences. Itís not just leaving the church because someone hurt your feelings. Itís not just gossip that tears down other members of the body. Itís leaving needs unmet. Itís failing to love people the way God would have us love. Unity is lived out in caring concern for others.
(From a sermon by Bret Toman, Unity For the Glory of God, 1/3/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
COMING TO GRIPS WITH THE SOVEREIGN WILL OF GOD
I want to tell you a story about my friend, Jim Pence. Jim is an author who has written several books. But his first novel was titled "Blind Sight" and was published by Tyndale a number of years ago. Jim wrote this book, but he really didn't think it was all that of a success. Many writers write their first book and it's a springboard to others. It's a great book, but it wasn't his favorite work.
But for some reason, he wrote this book. Recently Jim emailed this story to me about his book:
"This past spring, two young men broke into Terry C's home before dawn. They shot him and killed his wife, and then went upstairs and murdered the couple's two young sons. They then set fire to the house and left the family for dead. Although he had been shot five times, Terry escaped through the bathroom window and crawled three hundred yards to a neighbor's. To make matters worse his daughter was implicated in the crime. Overnight, Terry lost his entire family.
"A few months later, Terry went back to his property. The remains of the house had been bulldozed and little was left. Torn with grief, and unable to understand why God had taken his family and allowed him to survive, Terry cried out to God, "Why did you take my family? Why didn't you take me, too? I don't understand."
"As he stood there, Terry noticed a scrap of paper stuck to the trunk of a nearby tree. He went over and picked it up. The paper was part of a page from my novel, "Blind Sight." The edges of the page were scorched and it was difficult to read. But the words were like a direct message from God:
"'I couldn't understand why You would take my family and leave me behind to struggle along without them. And I guess I still don't totally understand that part of it. But I do believe that You're sovereign; You're in control...and I know that You've brought Justine and those children into my life. And they need me. Lord, You could have taken my life that day, but You spared it. And You've gone on sparing it. It doesn't matter what happens to me now, but if I can help them, please let me do it.'
"Those paragraphs turned Terry's life around. He found the strength to go on and is now sharing his testimony in churches around the country. When he speaks, he brings the page from my novel, now preserved in a frame, and shows it to the congregation.
"Not only had the house burned, but the site had been bulldozed and the debris hauled off. What little was left had been exposed to the weather for months. And out of a nearly 400 page book, all that remained was a brief passage where a man who had lost his family came to grips with the Sovereignty of God and decided to move forward.
That scrap of paper lay there against a tree trunk as if waiting for Terry C: a man who had lost his family and desperately needed to come to grips with the Sovereign goodness of God.
(From a sermon by Daniel Darling, Joseph, The Unsung Hero of Christmas - Message Two -- 2008, 2/17/2011)
George Muller was born in Prussia on September 27, 1805. His father was a collector of taxes and George seemed to inherit his fatherís ability with figures.
When Muller was converted to Christ he was impressed by the many recurring statements of Jesus for us "to ask." At this point in Mullerís life he and his wife launched into a daring experiment. First, they gave away all of their household goods. The next step was even more daring, he refused all regular salary from the small mission he had been serving. He then set out to establish an orphan home to care for the homeless children of England.
The first home was dedicated in a rented building on April 21, 1836. Within a matter of days, 43 orphans were being cared for. Muller and his co-workers decided their experiment would be set up with the following guidelines:
1- No funds would ever be solicited.
2- No debts were ever to be incurred.
3- No money contributed for a specific purpose would ever be used for any other purpose.
4- All accounts would be audited annually.
5- No ego-pandering by the publication of donorís names.
6- No "names" of prominent people would be sought for the board or to advertise the institution.
7- The success of the orphanage would be measured not by the numbers served or by the amount of money taken in, but by Godís blessing on the work, which Muller expected to be in direct proportion to the time spent in prayer.
When the first building was constructed, Muller and his friends remained true to their convictions. The public was amazed when a second building was opened six months after the first. They kept concentrating on prayer and eventually there were five new buildings, 110 workers, and 2,050 orphans being...
Sermon Central Staff
IF WE'D ONLY JOINED HANDS SOONER
A number of years ago in Canada, a little two-year-old girl wandered away from her neighborhood. It was a cold, winter day. Her parents alerted the neighbors and they saw some tracks in the snow, but there were a lot of other tracks, so for several hours the searchers went in all different directions calling her name. They didnít find her. A little before sunset one of the men said, "Instead of all working separately, letís join hands and form a long line and walk through the field together. That way we cannot miss a square foot."
Thatís what they did. They joined hands and together walked as one long line calling that little girlís name. Tragically, they found her frozen body curled up. One of the men said with great anguish, "Oh, if we had only joined hands sooner.
(From a sermon by Bob Joyce, Like Lucy, 8/4/2011)
POEM: ďI Am Just a RaindropĒ
The following poem was heard on Paul Harveyís broadcast in 2004:
I AM JUST A RAINDROP
I am just a raindrop
I was born in the sky and settled into a hillside
there to dance in the sun and sparkle
And nourish green and growing things
But there are other raindrops on the hillside
and they invite me to join them for a downhill romp,
and we become a chain of raindrops.
Thus able to travel faster and what do you know
soon others join us until we become a stream
now remember Iím still just a drop of rain.
And yet the other drops say
Iím important to them and they are important to me
and together we hasten downward toward the beautiful forest.
The grass bends in our path
the soil beneath us begins to crumble
until my companions and I are carving out a pathway
farther and deeper
until we are tearing little gullies in the earth
and then big gullies.
Iím just a little drop of rain
its my friends who have the power
Iím just along for the ride
Ahead a towering tree
stands majestically at the edge of the forest.
And soon my friends and I
are playfully ripping the soil from the roots
and its roots from the rocks
and low and behold the great tree comes crashing down in front of me.
For a long moment the tree lies motionless:
Facedown, defeated, dying.
But then my friends and I are under, and lifting, and moving the great tree
carrying it before us as a huge battering ram.
Nothing can stop us now.
I wonder if I can stop myself now, or, if I even want to.
Into the forest we plunge my friends and I
and our battering ram tree.
Other trees grouped together stand their ground,
from us they can see there is strength in numbers.
And our numbers are greater.
Our battering ram is sideways now.
We raindrops get behind;
we push with all of our might.
My friends and I are learning the strength and the weaknesses of trees.
Erode the soil, denude the roots, and you leave them with nothing to hold to.
So, soon, we are a raging torrent.
And they and we and the turncoat tree are thundering toward the sea.
And I am freighted.
Iím just a little raindrop,
but Iím soiled now.
How did I become a part of this?
I never wanted to conquer, nor to destroy
I only needed to be needed.
I only needed to be one of the crowd.
Down there ahead, at the end of the valley
Dear God thatís a town!
I will not be a part of this any longer.
Now my friends have gone too far.
Far too far.
Iím stopping right here right now.
But I canít. I canít stop.
I am no longer me.
I am something different then I ever meant to be.
It took a thousand million gallons of water they say
to drown that town that day.
So donít blame me.
Iím only one little drop of rain.
From Donald Tabbererís Sermon: An Empty Frame