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BECAUSE I'M A GENTLEMAN

A middle-aged business executive once approached the front entrance of the office building in which he worked. A young feminist came up at the same moment, so he stepped back and held the door open for her to pass on through. She looked at him and said with annoyance, "Don't hold the door for me just because I'm a lady."

To her surprise, he looked right back and replied, "I'm not. I'm holding it open because I'm a gentleman."

(Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. From a sermon by Matthew Kratz, The parable of the Faithful & Wise Servant, 7/17/2010)

 
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WHO SAVED ME?

During a terrible storm at sea that threatened every moment to carry the ship to the bottom, one of the ship’s crew was doing something on the deck when a great sea struck the ship and went fairly over the deck, striking this man with great force, disabling him and carrying him into the mad waters.

Although he was a good swimmer, he was so disabled that he could only keep above water. They saw him lifting up his imploring hands through the white foam, signifying his desire for help. But the Captain said, "Don’t lower a boat, for no small boat can live in this sea, in this terrific storm. We cannot save the man. The most we can do is to save the ship."

The vessel was bearing farther and farther from the helpless man. Once more they saw his imploring hands come up among the white caps further off, which moved all hearts that witnessed it. Still the Captain said a small boat must not be lowered, as it could not live a moment among these wild billows.

But one man who was an expert swimmer, was so moved by the imploring signals of the drowning man, that he threw off his loose garments, saying: "I will save that man, or die with him."

So plunging into the surging deep, he struggled so bravely with the mad waters, that he reached the poor man just as his strength had gone; he had given up and was filling with water, and sinking down unconscious. He grasped him, and strange to tell, he brought him so near the ship that a small boat was lowered, and both men were taken up and laid down upon the deck. The one that had been swept overboard, entirely unconscious and his deliverer nearly so. Appliances were used and both were brought to consciousness.

As soon as the rescued man opened his eyes and found he was not in the ocean, his first words were: "Who saved me?"

He was pointed to his deliverer still lying on the deck in his wet clothes. He crept to his deliverer, and putting his arms around his feet, and in the most tender and heart moving tone of voice cried out: "I’m your servant, I’m your servant." He felt that he could never do enough for him.

Let me ask all who read this incident, would you not put your arms about the bleeding feet of your great Deliverer and say from a full heart: "Jesus, I’m your servant, I’m your servant. Ask anything of me, Jesus, and I will do it the best I can."

(From a sermon by Jimmy Haile, My Father’s Business, 9/29/2011)

 
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THE DANGER OF SPIRITUAL PROCRASTINATION

There is a fable which tells of three apprentice devils who were coming to this earth to finish their apprenticeship. They were talking to Satan, the chief of the devils, about their plans to tempt and to ruin men. The first said, "I will tell them that there is no God."

Satan said, "That will not delude many, for they know that there is a God."

The second said, "I will tell men that there is no hell."

Satan answered, "You will deceive no one that way; men know even now that there is a hell for sin."

The third said, "I will tell men that there is no hurry."

"Go," said Satan, "and you will ruin men by the thousands."

The most dangerous of all delusions is that there is plenty of time.

(William Barclay: The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 2 [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], p. 317. From a sermon by Matthew Kratz, The parable of the Faithful & Wise Servant, 7/17/2010)

 
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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 Cynthia’s 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 Joe’s 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 professor’s 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 don’t want one if I can’t do my own." Dr. Christian turned around and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push ups so Scoot can have a donut he doesn’t want." Scott said, "hey! I said I didn’t 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 don’t want it." And he put the donut on Scott’s 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 doesn’t 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, didn’t know what was going on and came in to see. The class yelled, "Go away! Don’t 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 doesn’t 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...

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Gordon Curley
 
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MOODY'S SERVANT'S HEART

A large group of European pastors came to one of D. L. Moody’s Northfield Bible Conferences in Massachusetts in the late 1800s. Following the European custom of the time, each guest put his shoes outside his room to be cleaned by the hall servants overnight. But of course this was America and there were no hall servants.

Walking the dormitory halls that night, Moody saw the shoes and determined not to embarrass his brothers. He mentioned the need to some ministerial students who were there, but met with only silence or pious excuses. Moody returned to the dorm, gathered up the shoes, and, alone in his room, the world’s only famous evangelist began to clean and polish the shoes. Only the unexpected arrival of a friend in the midst of the work revealed the secret.

When the foreign visitors opened their doors the next morning, their shoes were shined. They never know by whom. Moody told no one, but his friend told a few people, and during the rest of the conference, different men volunteered to shine the shoes in secret. Perhaps the episode is a vital insight into why God used D. L. Moody as He did. He was a man with a servant’s heart and that was the basis of his true greatness.

[Gary Inrig, A Call to Excellence, (Victor Books, a division of SP Publ., Wheaton, Ill; 1985), p. 98]

 
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Michael McCartney
 
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BLACKABY: WHAT DOES A CALLING LOOK LIKE?

Henry Blackaby shares from his book "The Power of the Call" pages 10-14 a clear picture of what one looks like who is called by God into pastoral ministry:

1. The pastor is chosen
2. He is chosen by God
3. He is chosen by God to be His servant
4. He is chosen by God to shepherd His people
5. He recognizes that God’s people are His inheritance, that they are God’s “special treasure” (Exodus 19:5-6).
6. He has integrity of heart.
7. He recognizes that his assignment will require “skillfulness of his hands” (hard work, consistent with his heart).
8. God calls his servants to be stewards (Acts 20:28-31)
9. God calls his servants to be spiritual leaders
a. You cannot do Kingdom work with the world’s methods.
10. The people are your ministry not the means you use to fulfill your ministry.

 
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Lynn Malone
 
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Reinhold Niebuhr, a famous American Protestant theologian in the 20th century, served as both a working pastor in Detroit and a respected professor at Yale University. He told the story of a flatland farm boy who, all his young life, dreamed of being a sailor on a tall-masted sailing ship. He slipped away from home, made his way to a port city, and enlisted as an apprentice sailor. The third day out to sea, the captain commanded that he assume the watch in the crow’s nest. The boy climbed halfway up the mast and then froze, going neither up nor down. He took an option that was not an option. He feared the ridicule of the seasoned sailors on the deck beneath him, so he would not go down. He feared the heights above him, so he would not go up. He froze between the options and took neither. He is the very illustration of the one-bag servant. The servant neither risked the money nor threw it away. He simply kept it and did nothing with it.

 
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STUBBORN JOY--Communion Meditation

"No man had more reason to be miserable than this one – yet no man was more joyful.

His first home was a palace. Servants were at his fingertips. The snap of his fingers changed the course of history. His name was known and loved. He had everything – wealth, power, respect. And then he had nothing.

Students of the event still ponder it. Historians stumble as they attempt to explain it. How could a king lose everything in one instant? One moment he was royalty; the next he was in poverty.
His bed became, at best, a borrowed pallet – and usually the hard earth. He never owned even the most basic mode of transportation and was dependent upon handouts for his income. He was sometimes so hungry he would eat raw grain or pick fruit off a tree. He knew what it was like to be rained on, to be cold. He knew what it meant to have no home.

His palace grounds had been spotless; now he was exposed to filth. He had never known disease, but was now surrounded by illness.

In his kingdom he had been revered; now he was ridiculed. His neighbors tried to lynch him. Some called him a lunatic. His family tried to confine him to their house.

Those who didn’t ridicule him tried to use him. They wanted favors. They wanted tricks. He was a novelty. They wanted to be seen with him – that is, until being with him was out of fashion. THEN they wanted to kill him.

He was accused of a crime he never committed. Witnesses were hired to lie. The jury was rigged. No lawyer was assigned to his defense. A Judge swayed by politics handed down the death penalty.

They killed him.

He left as he came – penniless. He was buried in a borrowed grave, his funeral financed by compassionate friends. Though he once had everything...

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Contributed By:
Greg Warren
 
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In an earlier century, there lay a large boulder in the middle of the roadway. Traveler after traveler walked past the boulder, veering off the side of the road to get around it. All the while, they were shaking their head and muttering, "Can you believe that? Someone should get that big thing out of the way. What an inconvenience!"

Finally, a man came along and, seeing the boulder, took a branch from a tree and pried the boulder enough to get it rolling and rolled it off to the side of the road. Lying underneath the rock, he found a small bag with a note. The man picked up the note and read it. It read as follows:

"Thank you for being a true servant of the kingdom. Many have passed this way and complained because of the state of the problem and spoken of what ought to be done. But you have taken the responsibility upon yourself to serve the kingdom instead. You are the type of citizen we need more of in this kingdom. Please accept this bag of gold that traveler after traveler have walked by simply because they didn’t care enough about the kingdom to serve."

I wonder what "bags of gold" we’re missing each day, simply because we don’t bother to get involved in serving our heavenly kingdom. Are we the type of heavenly citizens our Father needs more of?

 
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Joel Pankow
 
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POSSUMS AND THE GRAVE

I have heard that possums are smart animals. You wouldn’t think so because you hardly ever see one except when it’s dead on the road. There’s a joke that goes, “why did the chicken cross the road? To prove to the possum that it could be done!”

But possums, it turns out, are smart. They won’t enter a hole if there’s just one set of tracks going into it. They know there’s something in there. But if there are two sets of tracks. The possum will enter and not be afraid.

The message of Easter is that we can enter the grave - we don’t have to fear death because there are tracks leading out of the tomb. Paul preached the proclamation of Easter: "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"

This is the message that we need to hear this Easter. Jesus is risen!

 
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