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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 driver’s 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, that’s Mr. Goldstein’s wallet. I’d know it anywhere. He’s 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 Marshall’s 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)
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Johann Sebastian Bach was born into the musical family of Bachs in 1685. By the age of ten, both of his parents were dead. Early in his friction-filled life, young Johann determined he would write music … music for the glory of God … and this he did.
Most of Bach’s works are explicitly Biblical. Albert Schweitzer referred to him as The fifth evangelist, thus comparing him to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. At age 17 Bach became the organist at the church; soon thereafter he was given charge of the entire music ministry.
During his ministry in Weimar, Germany he wrote a new cantata every month … EVERY MONTH! And during one three-year period he wrote, conducted, orchestrated, and performed (with his choir and orchestra) a new cantata every week!
No one had any idea what a mark Bach would leave. His legacy lives on some 300 years later. You can hear his music at will.
At the beginning of every authentic manuscript one will find the letters “J.J.” This stands for Jesu Java (Jesus help me). At the end of each original manuscript you will find the letters “S.D.G.” This stands for Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God).
Bach is a reminder that one who gives his life to Jesus and serves Him does not count it a loss. Mk 8:35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Arthur Pink, a theologian from another generation, talks against those who preach about Jesus as a savior from hell rather than a savior from sin. He explained that there are many who are dangerously deceived by this, because there are many who desire to escape the flames of hell, but have no desire to be delivered from their sins. I believe he is right. So many today think they can love God and still live in their sin. It cannot be done. You have to make a choice. It must be God or your sin. You can’t have both. You can’t love both. You have to die to your sin in order to come alive to God. Jesus stated an important kingdom principle with these words: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
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...
"LIVING LIFE UPSIDE DOWN" by Russ Lee
John has a new way of looking at life
He’s tired of his job, his kids and his wife
He says the secret to his success
Was in leaving and finding himself
Now he’s someone to somebody else.
And you say we’ve risen to a new age of truth
You’re calling it a spiritual Godly pursuit
But I say, I say,
We’ve got a program for saving the earth
While unborn children are denied their right to birth
One baby’s blessed, another cursed
Have we made this world better or worse
Now that the life of a tree comes first
And you say we’ve risen to a new age of light
You’re telling me what used to be wrong is now right
But I say, I say,
What if we’ve fallen to the bottom of a well
Thinking we’ve risen to the top of a mountain
What if we’re knocking at the gates of hell
Thinking we’re heaven bound
What if we spend our lives thinking of ourselves
When we should have been thinking of each other
What if we reach up and touch the ground
To find we’re living life upside down.
"Cheer Him, Boys!"
There was a fire in the big city, and the firemen flung their ladders together, and went up in their brave fashion to the very topmost story to rescue the people that were trapped. One after another was rescued by the brave firemen.
All had been rescued, it seemed, No! As the firemen looked up they saw a white face at the most upper window. They wrapped something about one of their firemen, and, breasting the fierce flames, he went again to that window, and put a robe around the little woman and started down.
Then they saw him tremble as the fire raged around him, and it seemed that he would fall with his precious burden, but the fire chief cried to his men: “Cheer him, boys! Cheer him, boys!”
And they cheered him with words of encouragement as he came down with the precious life saved.
--George W. Truett
Sermon Central Staff
POOR MAN'S PHILANTHROPIST
In 2005, when Thomas Cannon died of colon cancer in a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, he was 79. Thomas described himself a "poor man's philanthropist."
When Thomas was three years old, his father died. Once Thomas' mother remarried, the family of six lived in a three-room wooden shack without running water or electricity.
As an adult, Thomas went to work with the postal service. He never made more than $25,000 a year. Upon retirement, he and his wife lived in poverty. Yet over the course of 33 years, Thomas gave away more than $156,000. His gifts were mainly in the form of $1,000 checks given to people he read about in the newspaper who were going through hard times or who especially exemplified courage or kindness. A youth worker in a low-income apartment complex, a volunteer faithfully serving at an elementary school, a Vietnamese couple wanting to return home to visit, and a teenager abandoned as an infant were some of the recipients of Thomas' benevolence.
Thomas' motivation came from an incident that happened as a young man while away at a Naval signal school. When an explosion at Chicago's Port took the lives of many of his shipmates, Thomas concluded, "He had been spared to help others and be a role model." This led to his passion for giving.
Cannon biographer, Sandra Waugaman, comments, "Not many people would consider living in a house in a poor neighborhood without central heat, air conditioning, or a telephone, and working overtime so that they could save money to give away."
["Thomas Cannon had Little Money to Give," Omaha Sunday World Herald (July, 2005), p. 13A; Margaret Edds, "Cannon's Canon," HamptonRoads.com (7-24-05); submitted by Ted De Hass, Bedford, Iowa. From a sermon by Terry Blankenship, Running and Serving with Passion, 5/16/2011]
One of America’s greatest poets is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The year 1860 found Longfellow happy in his life, enjoying a widening recognition, and elated over the election of Abraham Lincoln which he believed signaled the triumph of freedom and redemption for the nation.
The following year the Civil War began. On July 9, 1861 Longfellow’s wife, Fanny, was near an open window sealing locks of her daughter’s hair, using hot sealing wax. Suddenly her dress caught fire and engulfed her with flames. Her husband, sleeping in the next room, was awaked by her screams. As he desperately tried to put out the fire and save his wife, he was severely burned on his face and hands.
Fanny died the next day. Longfellow’s severe burns would not even allow him to attend Fanny’s funeral. His white beard, which so identified with him, was one of the results of the tragedy – the burn scars on his face made shaving almost impossible. In his diary for Christmas day 1861 he wrote, “How inexpressibly sad are the holidays.”
In 1862 the toll of war dead began to mount and in his diary for that year Longfellow wrote of Christmas, “A merry Christmas say the children, but that is no more for me.”
In 1863 his son who had run away to join the Union army was severely wounded and returned home in December. There is no entry in Longfellow’s diary for that Christmas.
But on Christmas Day 1864 – at age 57 – Longfellow sat down to try to capture, if possible, the joy of the season. He began:
I heard the bells on Christmas day.
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
As he came to the third stanza, he was stopped by the thought of the condition of his beloved country. The Battle of Gettysburg was not long past. Days looked dark, and he probably asked himself the question, “How can I write about peace on earth, good will to men in this war-torn country, where brother fights against brother and father against son?” But...
You might recall this recent news story… Illustration- Abdul Rahman Afghanistan’s Muslim religious and governmental leaders had demanded that 41-year-old Abdul Rahman be executed because of his conversion to Christianity more than 14 years ago. Rahman converted to Christianity while working for a Christian aid group in Pakistan in the early 1990s. He was only recently jailed after court leaders learned of his faith in a child-custody battle with his ex-wife. Rahman was freed and went into immediate hiding March 27. He is now in Italy, where officials offered him asylum. Afterwards, hundreds of Afghans protested the release, as did the nation’s parliament, believing that he should be put to death. Question- Now let me ask you a question- who is the hero in this story? Is it Abdul Rahman? Is it the nations and groups worldwide who pressure put on Afghanistan to release Abdul? Question- Or is it the Christian Aid Group who went on a mission trip to Afghanistan? • surrounded by Muslims- the church is an underground church- found in the cities only • surrounded by intense persecution- no one who isn’t Muslim survives in the rural countryside • only approximately 3,000 total Christians- only in the cities and only in secret Question- What did Abdul see in those Christian Aid workers that would make him renounce his upbringing, risk his life and convert to Christianity? Was It Something Abdul Saw That Made Him Believe- Or Was It Something He Believed That Made Him See? I believe that God put that Christian Aid Group there- to save Abdul • They were seized with an extraordinary vision • They served with extraordinary endurance; and Now Abdul will never be the same again • And it was all because a Christian Aid Group went on a Mission Trip Question- What about you? Is the extraordinary vision limited to Christian Aid Groups in Afghanistan?
Whether we are a minister, worker or believer we need to love the Lord and the way we prove it is to serve Him. To serve Him is to do His Word and to do His Word we must do his work and all of us that are saved by His grace are ministers of what He has given us in our Christian life.