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A wealthy man before leaving on an extended vacation said to a contractor, "While I am away, I want you to build me a fine new home according to these plans. Be sure you work with extreme care, and use the best of everything. Tell me the cost as soon as you have it and Iíll send you a check." During the process of construction the contractor discovered many opportunities to substitute inferior materials; he put in his own pocket the money he saved. His employer would never know the difference, and he himself would profit. But he soon regretted his dishonesty, for the wealthy man upon his return inspected the finished home and said: "You have built it exactly as I wanted it, and Iím sure that you used the best of everything in its construction. Now, in appreciation for your long years of service to me, I am giving you this new home for your very own. Hereís the deed!" Church, we are building for eternity. Do we build with inferior materials or do we build with choice materials on the foundation of Christ? Donít ever forget, the house we will have later on depends on the material we are using now.
TO WHOEVER FINDS THIS...I LOVE YOU
Several years ago there was a girl in an orphanage. She was unattractive and had mannerisms that were not very attractive either, and so she was disliked and shunned by the other children and was not liked by her teachers. The head of the institution looked for a reason to send her off to some other place.
One afternoon the opportunity came. She was suspected of writing unapproved, illicit notes to someone outside the institution. One of the little girls had just reported, "I saw her write a note and hide it on a tree near the stone wall."
The superintendent hurried to the tree and found the note. He then passed it silently to his assistant. The note read, "To whoever finds this, I love you."
In essence, someone else also wrote a note and put it on a tree outside a city wall at another place a long time ago. Of him, too, it was written "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men" Isaiah 53:2, 3, NIV.
They sought to get rid of Jesus. They took him out to Calvaryís hill where they crucified him. They nailed him to a tree. But when men get there, they find a note on that tree that reads, "To whoever finds this, I love you."
HUMILITY: THE BALLOON GAME
Robert Roberts writes about a fourth grade class in which the teacher introduced a game called "balloon stomp." A balloon was tied to every child's leg, and the object of the game was to pop everyone else's balloon while protecting one's own. The last person with an intact balloon would win.
The fourth graders in Roberts' story entered into the spirit of the game with vigor. Balloons were relentlessly targeted and destroyed. A few of the children clung to the sidelines like wallflowers at a middle school dance, but their balloons were doomed just the same. The entire battle was over in a matter of seconds, leaving only one balloon inflated. Its owner was, of course, the most disliked kid in the class. It's hard to really win at a game like balloon stomp. In order to complete your mission, you have to be pushy, rude and offensive.
Roberts goes on to write that a second class was introduced to the same game. Only this time it was a class of mentally handicapped children. They were given the same explanation as the first class, and the signal to begin was given. But the game proceeded very differently. Perhaps the instructions were given too quickly for children with learning disabilities to grasp them. The one idea that got through was that the balloons were supposed to be popped. So it was the balloons, not the other players, that were viewed as enemies. Instead of fighting each other, they began helping each other pop balloons. One little girl knelt down and held her balloon carefully in place, like a holder for a field goal kicker. A little boy stomped it flat. Then he knelt down and held his balloon for her. It went on like this for several minutes until all the balloons were vanquished, and everybody cheered. Everybody won.
Who got the game right, and who got the game wrong? In our world, we tend to think of another person's success as one less opportunity for us to succeed. There can only be one top dog, one top banana, one big kahuna. If we ever find ourselves in that enviable position, we will fight like mad to maintain our hold on it. A lot of companies fail to enjoy prolonged success because the people in charge have this "balloon stomp" mentality. In the church, the rules change. Jesus Christ gets top billing. We're just here to serve his purposes, and we do that most effectively by elevating others and humbling ourselves.
A Religion Professor named Dr. Christianson taught a required survey of Christianity course at small college. Every freshman was required to take the course regardless of his or her major. Although he tried hard to communicate the gospel, students viewed the class as nothing more than a waste of time.
One particular year Dr. Christianson had a student named Steve. Steve was the Center for the college football team and also a strong Christian who intended on going to Seminary. One day Dr. Christianson had an idea and he asked Steve to stay after class. "How many push ups can you do?" He asked. Steve said, "I do 200 every night." The professor asked Steve if he could do 300. "I have never done 300 before" Steve said, "but I think I can do it." "Good," the professor said, and he proceeded to tell his plan to Steve.
Friday came and Steve got to class early. Dr. Christianson came in with a large box of fluffy, cream filled doughnuts. The class was excited, it was Friday the last class of the day, and they could start their weekend early. Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the row and asked, "Cynthia would you like a donut?" "Yes," she said. Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?" "Sure." Steve jumped down out of his desk and counted off ten push ups. Dr. Christianson laid the donut on Cynthiaís desk. Joe was next. He asked Joe the same question and Joe said "yes." Steve did 10 more pushups and the professor laid the doughnut on Joeís desk. And so it went all the way down the first row and half way down the second until it came to Scott. He was a basketball player and friendly to female companionship. Scott replied to the professorís question by saying, "I want the doughnut if I can do my own push ups." Dr. Christianson said, "No Steve has to do the pushups." Then Scott said, "Well I donít want one if I canít do my own." Dr. Christian turned around and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push ups so Scoot can have a donut he doesnít want." Scott said, "hey! I said I didnít want one!" Dr. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts, Just leave it on the desk if you donít want it." And he put the donut on Scottís desk.
Steve had begun to slow down a little and sweat had began to form on his cheeks. Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?" Sternly, Jenny said, "NO!" Then Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve, would you do ten more push ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesnít want?" Steve did ten-Jenny got a doughnut.
By now a sense of uneasiness had filled the room. The students were all beginning to say "no." There were uneaten donuts on every desk. Steve was now putting forth a lot of extra effort to get the pushups done for each doughnut. A small pool of sweat was on the floor, his face was red, and you could see the sweat soaking through his shirt.
Dr. Christianson asked Robert, the most vocal unbeliever in class, to watch to make sure Steve did the full ten. Dr. Christianson started down the forth row. Students from other classes had came in and were sitting along the side of the room watching on. When the professor saw them he counted and saw that there were now 34 people in the room. He was worried about Steve, "Could he do that many push ups?" Jason, a recent transfer student, didnít know what was going on and came in to see. The class yelled, "Go away! Donít come in!" Steve picked up his head and said, "let him come in." Jason was asked and he said "yes." "Steve will you do ten push ups so Jason can have a donut?" Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great struggle. Jason, confused, was handed a donut and he sat down. Dr. Christianson then finished the fourth row and began on the visitors. Steves arms were shaking uncontrolably with each push up. By this time sweat was pouring off of his face and arms. The very last two students were cheerleaders. "Linda, do you want a donut?" Linda cried and said, "no thank you." Professor turned to Steve, "Steve would you do ten push ups so Linda can have a donut she doesnít want?" Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push ups for Linda. The last girl was Susan. "Susan would you like a donut?" Susan was full of tears and did n...
Sermon Central Staff
THE HARVEST IS RIPE
The Harvest is ripe -- Here's proof:
Wycliffe: Vision 2025
Translation projects started in every language on the planet by 2025.
In "The Faith Equation," Dr. Marvin Bittinger, Professor of Mathematics at Purdue University and author of over 175 college math textbooks, claims that by 2033 every person on the planet capable of understanding the gospel will have been presented the gospel, according to modern evangelism trends.
34,000 converts each day in South America
28-37,000 Chinese converts daily
23-25,000 African converts daily
16,000 Muslims come to Christ daily - the following stories are all quoted.
"In December 2001, Sheikh Ahmad al Qataani, a leading Saudi cleric, appeared on a live interview on Aljazeera satellite television to confirm that, sure enough, Muslims were turning to Jesus in alarming numbers. "In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity," Al Qataani warned. "Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity." Stunned, the interviewer interrupted the cleric. "Hold on! Let me clarify. Do we have six million converting from Islam to Christianity?" Al Qataani repeated his assertion. "Every year," the cleric confirmed, adding, "a tragedy has happened."
Stories from Muslim countries: Iraq -- thousands of new Christians since Saddam was overthrown, many new churches started, Egypt -- some reports say 1 million Egyptians have trusted Christ over the past decade or so. The Egyptian Bible Society used to sell about 3,000 copies of the JESUS film a year in the early 1990s. But last year they sold 600,000 copies, plus 750,000 copies of the Bible on tape (in Arabic) and about a half million copies of the Arabic New Testament. The largest Christian congregation in the Middle East, meets in an enormous cave on the outskirts of Cairo. Some 10,000 believers worship there every weekend. A prayer conference the church held in May 2005 drew some 20,000 believers, Afghanistan -- only 17 Muslim converts to Christianity before 9/11/01, but now more than 10,000, Kazakstan -- only 3 known Christians in 1990, but now more than 15,000, Sudan -- more than 1 million Sudanese have converted to Christianity just since 2000, and some 5 million have become Christians since the early 1990s, despite a radical Islamic regime and an on-going genocide that has killed more than 200,000.
Seminaries are being held in caves to train pastors to shepherd the huge numbers of people coming to Christ. Why such a dramatic spiritual awakening? "People have seen real Islam, and they want Jesus instead," one Sudanese evangelical leader said, Iran -- in 1979, there were only 500 known Muslim converts to Christianity, but today Iranian pastors and evangelical leaders say there are more than 1 million Iranian believers in Jesus Christ, most of whom meet in underground house churches. One of the most dramatic developments is that many Muslims are seeing dreams and visions of Jesus and thus coming into churches explaining that they have already converted and now need a Bible and guidance on how to follow Jesus."
Worldwide: 174,000 converts daily -- David B. Barret and Todd M. Johnson of the Global Evangelism Movement.
This is truly the most exciting time in all of history to be alive and a part of His Great Commission. The opportunity has never been more dramatic and the need has never been so huge:
All of history has built up to this point.
Global impact in your hometown.
Transportation and communication impacts.
Current end time events.
Israel, wars and other events.
The 4th qtr., bottom of the 9th, the end-game.
(From a sermon by Nate Herbst, The Great Commision -- Discussion, 11/21/2009)
BE LIKE THE SPIDER
There was a man who was cleaning up his desk one Friday afternoon when he noticed an envelope that had been opened. Someone must have placed it there while he was on the phone. He opened it and read it, and to his shock and dismay it was a notice of being terminated, being laid-off from his job. His entire department was being eliminated along with his position. After all the years he had given to his corporation, he found himself filled with resentment and the sense of being victimized. The man sat slumped in his chair in utter despair.
He began to think of all the terrible things that were going to happen to him. His entire lifestyle would have to be altered. He thought, "I'll have to sell my house; I'm too old to get another job; I'm useless; I'm all washed up."
At that moment, the man noticed a spider on his desk, and without thinking he brushed it off. He was amazed though as he watched as the tiny creature automatically spin a strand to bear its weight and swing gracefully to the floor.
He pondered: If this tiny creature could draw forth from within itself some reserve of resources to meet its emergency, why could he not do as much? For many hours, he sat deep in troubling thoughts that turned gradually to creative mediation.
The man moved from the anxiety of what he lacked to the abundance of the God-given inner resources he had been blessed with. He thought: "My security is not in my job or in my money or in my house but in my connection with the God of grace who has seen me through all circumstances in my life. They might take me off the payroll, but no one can take away the flow of God's abundance in my life."
This man had secretly been longing for an opportunity to tap into his creative ability and interest in writing. Now here was the opportunity before him. A whole new way of thinking possessed him. He thanked God for the new door that had opened before him and even blessed his termination from his job. He left the office with an enthusiasm and zest for life that surprised even himself.
To make a long story short, the man had some writings published and earned some money. Now he didn't become a financial giant but more importantly he had a new found faith in the abundance of God and became less anxious about what he lacked in his life.
Source: Adapted from a story told by Eric Butterworth
THE RIGHT SIDE
The story is told of a little girl who had lived her life in the city and was acclimated to the many street lights at night. She had opportunity to go to the country on a vacation. One starlit night, she and her mother stood gazing up into the sky without any street lights to conceal its aura.
The child was awestruck by its sparkling beauty. She exclaimed, "Mama, if heaven is so pretty on the wrong side, I wonder what it looks like on the right side!"
In Bill Gatesí 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 wonít 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 wonít 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 doesnít 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, itís not your parentsí fault, so donít whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
RULE 7 - Before you were born, your parents werenít 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 parentsí 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...
ILL. Let me read a part of the list that several housewives compiled. They wrote that they were especially thankful:
"For automatic dishwashers because they make it possible for us to get out of the kitchen before the family comes back in for their after-dinner snacks.
"For husbands who attack small repair jobs around the house because they usually make them big enough to call in the professionals.
"For children who put away their things & clean up after themselves. Theyíre such a joy you hate to see them go home to their own parents
"For teenagers because they give parents an opportunity to learn a second language.
"For Smoke alarms because they let you know when the turkeyís done.
APPL. Now our list might not be the same as theirs, but Iím convinced that if we began to make a list, we would find that we have much more for which to be thankful than just our material possessions.
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, and Ryan, 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. "If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ’Let my brother have the first pancake; I can wait."
Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, "Ryan, you be Jesus!"