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Contributed By:
Rodelio Mallari
 
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THE PUNISHMENT OF THE GOLF ADDICT

Once there was a man who was such a golf addict that he was neglecting his job. Frequently he would call in sick as an excuse to play.

One morning, after making his usual call to the office, an angel up above spotted him on the way to the golf course and decided to teach him a lesson. "If you play golf today, you will be punished," the angel whispered in his ear.

Thinking it was only his conscience, which he had successfully whipped in the past, the fellow just smiled. "No," he said, "I've been doing this for years. No one will ever know. I won't be punished."

The angel said no more, and the fellow stepped up to the first tee where he promptly whacked the ball 300 yards straight down the middle of the fairway. Since he had never driven the ball more than 200 yards, he couldn't believe it. Yet, there it was.

And his luck continued. Long drives on every hole, perfect putting. By the ninth hole he was six under par and was playing near-perfect golf. The fellow was walking on air.

He wound up with an amazing 61, about 30 strokes under his usual game. Wait until he got back to the office and told them about this! But, suddenly, his face fell. He couldn't tell them. He could never tell anyone.

The angel smiled.

(Bits & Pieces, August 22, 1991 -- 10,000 Sermon Illustrations)

 
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We can get ourselves in Trouble Fast

A burglar broke into a house one day. As he was stealing the valuables he heard a voice out of the darkness that said, "Jesus is watching you". He almost choked. He stoped and looked around and then he shook of his fear and went on stealing some more. Suddenly just as before the voice cam and said Jesus is watching you. He was trembling so bad he could hardly contain any composure. He finally approached the corner and there was a bird cage with the cover over it. The words came from the CAge, Jesus is watching you. The thief pulled off the cover and saw the parrot. He said with an angry voice, what is your name? The parrot replied, MOses. The thief replied, what kind of wierd person would name a parrot Moses? The parrot replied the same kind of wierd person that would name a Rocwieller "Jesus".

We can get ourselves in serious trouble by not paying attention.

 
Contributed By:
Joel Pankow
 
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On the TV show called the X-Files, they had a story about a family that used to keep an ugly looking creature in their basement. And what was even stranger was that people would bring their sick and dying family members over to see this creature and they would come back healthy. When Scully and Mulder went to see what was happening, they found out that this creature was able to take people’s infirmities on himself. So if they came to him and had cancer, he was able to take the cancer and his body, suffering a few days, and then vomit the cancer out. So as this creature lived on, it became uglier and uglier as it was contaminated with diseases, until it finally took on the disease of death and died. It was a strange story, but I thought it was a good illustration of what Jesus does with our sins. He doesn’t just heal us up our guilt and sin by giving us some medicine. When Jesus went to the cross, he had to take on our infirmities, our sins, our guilt, and our punishment.

 
Contributed By:
A. Todd Coget
 
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[America’s Sin of Self-Sufficiency, Citation: Richard Halverson, "The Question Facing Us," Preaching Today, Tape 46.]
In 1863 President Lincoln designated April 30th as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. Let me read a portion of his proclamation on that occasion:
"It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, who owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by a history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. The awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as ...

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Contributed By:
Oneal Stover
 
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Suppose a keg of gun powder has been placed under a man’s house right beneath the furnace where a fire is burning, but he is ignorant of its presence there. After awhile THE HEAT of the furnace causes the gun powder to burn its way through the top of the powder keg and there is a terrible explosion in which the man’s family is destroyed. Fearful as is the occurrence, no one condemns the man.

But suppose he had been told that the keg of powder was there, and saw for himself its proximity to the fire, and he went away without removing it. Then, when the explosion took place and his family were killed, everybody would condemn him and say that he was a guilty man.

So it is with sin.

 
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Commenting on Barabbas, Donald Grey Barnhouse wrote, “He was the only man in the world who could say that Jesus Christ took his physical place. But I can say that Jesus Christ took my spiritual place. For it was I who deserved to die. It was I who deserved that the wrath of God should be poured on me. I deserved the eternal punishment of the lake of fire. He was delivered up for my offenses. He was handed over to judgment because of my sins…. Christ was my substitute. He was satisfying the debt of divine justice and holiness. That is why I say that Christianity can be expressed in the three phrases: I deserved hell; Jesus took my hell; there is nothing left for me but His heaven.” - D. C. E.

Our Daily Bread, Wednesday, March 30

 
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Sermon Central Staff
 
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THE RING OF SALVATION

It began at West Point in 1835. It is a practice that has endured almost 200 years. You may have chosen to obtain one, and undoubtedly you waited anxiously for it to arrive. Others of you weren’t really that into it and decided to pass. Some of you in the room may still wear it proudly as a pronouncement of accomplishment. Some of you may have simply discarded it into a drawer to be forgotten. You may have used it is to symbolize commitment or exclusiveness. When it was returned to you it may have been accompanied by pain and even a steady stream of tears. However, you would never have ascribed the power of life and death to this high school tradition.

Who knew that this tradition would also become the story of Easter?

You know the Easter Story or you wouldn’t be here today. The story of God who sent His Son to become man to die for us. A Son who bears our burden of our sin and becomes the great sacrifice. A Son who defeats death and comes to life again.

Most of us have heard it until we have become numb to it, but perhaps if I tell you the story a little differently today.

"By all rules, Skinner was a dead man." With these words Arthur Bressi begins his retelling of the day he found his best friend in a World War II Japanese concentration camp.
The two were high school buddies. They grew up together in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania---playing ball, skipping school, double-dating. Arthur and Skinner were inseparable. It made sense, then, that when one joined the army, the other would as well. They rode the same troopship to the Philippines. That’s where they were separated. Skinner was on a rescue mission when Bataan fell to the Japanese in 1942. Arthur Bressi was captured a month later.

Through the prison grapevine, Arthur learned the whereabouts of his friend. Skinner was near death in a nearby camp. Arthur volunteered for work detail in the hope that his company might pass through the other camp. One day they did.

Arthur requested and was granted five minutes to find and speak to his friend. He knew to go to the sick side of the camp. It was divided into two sections--one for those expected to recover, the other for those given no hope. Those expected to die lived in a barracks called "zero ward." That’s where Arthur found Skinner. He called his name, and out of the barracks walked the seventy-nine-pound shadow of the friend he had once known. He writes:

"I stood at the wire fence of the Japanese prisoner-of-war camp on Luzon and watched my childhood buddy, caked in filth and racked with the pain of multiple diseases, totter toward me. He was dead; only his boisterous spirit hadn’t left his body. I wanted to look away, but couldn’t. His blue eyes, watery and dulled, locked on me and wouldn’t let go.

"Malaria. Dysentery. Pellagra. Scurvy. Beriberi. Skinner’s body was a dormitory for tropical diseases. He couldn’t eat. He couldn’t drink. He was nearly gone."

Arthur didn’t know what to do or say. His five minutes were nearly up. He began to finger the heavy knot of the handkerchief tied around his neck. In it was his high-school class ring. At the risk of punishment, he’d smuggled the ring into camp. Knowing the likelihood of catching a disease and the scarcity of treatment, he had been saving it to barter for medicine or food for himself. But one look at Skinner, and he knew he couldn’t save it any longer.

As he told his friend good-bye, he slipped the ring through the fence into Skinner’s frail hand and told him to "wheel and deal" with it. Skinner objected, but Arthur insisted. He turned and left, not knowing if he would ever see his friend alive again.

Skinner took the ring and buried it in the barracks floor.

The next day he took the biggest risk of his life. He approached the "kindest" of the guards and passed him the ring through the fence. The guard asked, "Is it valuable?" Skinner assured him that it was. The soldier smiled and slipped the ring into his pocket and left.

A couple of days later he walked past Skinner and let a packet drop at his feet. Sulfanilamide tablets. A day later he returned with limes to combat the scurvy. Then came a new pair of pants and some canned beef.

Within three weeks Skinner was on his feet. Within three months he was taken to the healthy side of the sick camp. In time he was able to work. As far as Skinner knew, he was the only American ever to leave the Zero Ward alive.

The ring elevated his position in the camp. The ring secured restoration. The ring brought provision. The common class ring brought salvation.

That is the Easter Story! Arthur’s ring is the perfect illustration of what happened at Easter. However, there is another ring account that also communicates the power of Easter to us.

Skinner attempted to refuse the very ring that would ultimately save his life. He almost declined the life-giving gift his friend could give him.

I wonder if there are some here that have refused the gift of life that Christ has tried to provide for you? It is the greatest gift a loving father could ever extend to you . . . the gift of His eternal love! If you don’t accept the great gift of His love you are doomed to death in bondage.

Skinner leveraged the ring and it gained him privileges and a new lease on life. I wonder if maybe you are here today and even though you have taken hold of the ring of salvation you have failed to leverage the authority, provision, and the freedom that such a relationship with Christ can afford? You are saved, but you are still living in the prison! The ring of Christ’s love and resurrected life can bring complete and total freedom today.

(From a sermon by Charles Sligh, Fellowship of the Ring, 4/20/2011)

 
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FREED FROM DEATH- COMMUNION MEDITATION

Paul Lee Tan writes about a horrible Roman practice:

"The Romans sometimes compelled a captive to be joined face-to-face with a dead body, and to bear it about until the horrible effluvia [vapors] destroyed the life of the living victim. Virgil describes this cruel punishment: 'The living and the dead at his command were coupled face to face, and hand to hand; Till choked with stench, in loathed embraces tied, The lingering wretches pined away and died.' Without Christ, we are shackled to a dead corpse--our sinfulness.

At Communion we celebrate being freed from death...

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Contributed By:
Daniel Becker
 
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“It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.
We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; 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.” Abraham Lincoln, Oct 1863

 
Contributed By:
Bobby Hawk
 
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Let me conclude with this brief story about Clay King Smith. Mr. Smith killed 5 innocent people, 2 women and 3 children, after tripping out one evening on drugs. In May of 2001, Clay King Smith was executed. A local news reporter in Arkansas had the chance to sit down and talk with Smith a year after the killings. While sitting in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, Tucker Maximum Security Unit, Smith was interviewed and asked why he had done this horrible crime. Even after a year Smith still had no explanation. This was a stark contrast to the man that Smith used to be. Clay King Smith was once so deeply religious that he attended Central Bible College to become a preacher.

How is that possible? I can’t understand what would cause a man to kill 5 innocent people. But I do know that Clay King Smith went from being a man in Bible college pursuing ministry, to a man on death row awaiting execution. Smith failed to live a life with no exceptions. Clay King Smith lived with regret until the day he faced eternity because of the decision that he made. Smith did repent for this horrific sin, but he would never stand behind a pulpit and proclaim the Word of God because he made an exception that ruined his future ministry.

 
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