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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)
Why would God go to all the trouble to endure our bad choices and our flagrant sinning in order to have relationship with us? Hear the story of the lost son from the modern setting as told by Philip Yancey in his book What’s so Amazing about Grace.
Yancey tells the story of a prodigal daughter who grows up in Traverse City, Michigan. Disgusted with her old fashioned parents who overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, the length of her skirts, she runs away. She ends up in Detroit where she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. The man with the big car – she calls him “Boss” – recognizes that since she’s underage, men would pay premium for her. So she goes to work for him. Things are good for a while. Life is good. But she gets sick for a few days, and it amazes her how quickly the boss turns mean. Before she knows it, she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, and all the money goes to support her drug habit.
One night while sleeping on the metal grates of the city, she began to feel less like a woman of the world and more like a little girl. She begins to whimper. “God, why did I leave. My dog back home eats better than I do now.” She knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to go home. Three straight calls home get three straight connections with the answering machine. Finally she leaves a message. “Mom, dad, its me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, I‘ll understand.” During the seven hour bus ride, she’s preparing a speech for her father. And when the bus comes to a stop in the Traverse City station, the driver announces the fifteen-minute stop. Fifteen minutes to decide her life.
She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect. But not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepares her for what she sees. There in the bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of forty brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and a great-grandmother to boot. They’re all wearing goofy party hats and blowing noise-makers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads – Welcome Home!
Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She stares out through the tears quivering in her eyes and begins her memorized speech. He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. We’ll be late. A big party is waiting for you at home.”
Sermon Central Staff
JACK NICKLAUS AND REPENTANCE
Jack Nicklaus is considered by most as the greatest golfer who has ever played the game. Once, when he was at the top of his game, he quit playing for 30 days to correct something with his game. He couldn’t correct it. He tried but to no success. Then he went back to his coach that taught him golf--and his game straightened out. He went on to win more major tournaments than any golfer in history.
What’s repentance? It is going back to the Lord and the cross. It’s telling Him you are absolutely dependent on Him to change and be forgiven. When the Prodigal Son came back home he didn’t just get a ring, a robe and shoes. The greatest thing he got back was his father.
(From a sermon by Ed Sasnett, Guard Your Heart, 4/13/2011)
A FATHER'S FORGIVENESS
In his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace , Phillip Yancey tells the story of Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway grew up in a very devout evangelical family, and yet there he never experienced the grace of Christ. He lived a libertine life that most of us would call "dissolute"… but there was no father, no parent waiting for him and he sank into the mire of a graceless depression. A short story he wrote perhaps reveals the grace that he hoped for. It is the story of a Spanish father who decided to reconcile with his son who had run away to Madrid. The father, in a moment of remorse, takes out this ad in El Libro , a newspaper. "Paco, meet me at Hotel Montana, Noon, Tuesday… All is forgiven… Papa." When the father arrived at the square in hopes of meeti...
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There were 3 preachers in a Barnie’s Coffee shop were discussing the time when life began. They each gave their opinion of when life begins.
One preacher said "Life begins when the child takes his/her first breath."
The other said "NO," then he finished, "It begins when the child is conceived."
But the last preacher said "You both have the wrong answer! Life begins when the last child leaves home and the dog dies!"
WHEN DOES LIFE REALLY BEGIN?
I am glad to say that life begins when you give your sins to Jesus. And when you come to an altar of repentance and you say... I NEED THEE O LORD! I NEED THEE!
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The story is told (by Ernest Hemingway) of a father and his teenage son who had a relationship that had become strained to the point of breaking. Finally the son ran away from home. His father, however, began a journey in search of his rebellious son. Finally, in Madrid, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in the newspaper. The ad read: “DEAR PACO, MEET ME IN FRONT OF THE NEWSPAPER OFFICE AT NOON. ALL IS FORGIVEN. I LOVE YOU. YOUR FATHER.”
The next day at noon in front of the newspaper office, 800 “Pacos” showed up.
THE FATHER’S REACTION TO THE PRODIGAL SON AND HIS ELDER SON MIRRORS THE ANSWER ABRAHAM LINCOLN GAVE TO A QUESTION HE WAS ASKED ABOUT HOW HE WOULD TREAT THE ALL THE CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS ONCE THE CIVIL WAR WAS OVER.
EXPECTING VENGEANCE AND EVEN THOUGHTS OF EXECUTION BECAUSE OF TREASON, LINCOLN SURPRISED ALL OF THEM BY SAYING, "I WILL TREAT THEM AS IF THEY HAD NEVER BEEN AWAY."
Haddon Robinson says it best, "With Him the calf is always the fatted calf; the robe is always the best robe; the joy is always unspeakable; and the peace passes understanding. There is no grudging in God’s goodness. He does not measure His goodness by drops like a druggist filling a prescription. It comes upon in flo...
When he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984, Harmon Killebrew said, “My father taught me and my brother to play ball in the front yard. One day my mother came out and told him we were ruining the lawn. My father told her, ‘We’re raising kids, not grass.’”
Robert Robinson had been saved out of a tempestuous life of sin through George Whitfield’s ministry in England. Shortly after that, at the age of twenty-three, Robinson wrote the hymn Come, Thou Fount.
Come, Thou Fount of ev’ry blessing,
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Sadly, Robinson wandered far from those streams and, like the Prodigal Son, journeyed into the distant country of carnality. Until one day—he was traveling by stagecoach and sitting beside a young woman engrossed in her book. She ran across a verse she thought was beautiful and asked him what he thought of it.
Prone to wander— Lord, I feel it—
Prone to leave the God I love.
Bursting into tears, Robinson said, "Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then." Although greatly surprised, she reassured him that the "streams of mercy" mentioned in his song still flowed. Mr. Robinson was deeply touched. Turning his "wandering heart" to the Lord, he was restored to full fellowship.
—Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories, p. 52