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One day Hudson Taylor was traveling on a Chinese junk from Shanghai to Ningpo. He had been witnessing to a man named Peter who rejected the gospel but was under deep conviction. In the course of events, Peter fell overboard, but no one made any effort to save him. Taylor sprang to the mast, let down the sail, and jumped overboard in hopes of finding his friend. But no one on board joined Taylor in his frantic search. Taylor saw a fishing boat nearby and yelled to them to help, but they wouldn't do it without money. Finally, after bartering for every penny that Taylor had, the fishermen stopped their fishing and began to look for Peter. In less than a minute of dragging their net, they found him, but it was too late. They were too busy fishing to care about saving a drowning man.
We can easily condemn the selfish indifference of those fishermen, but by indicting them, we may condemn ourselves. Are we too busy with our jobs and other activities to take the time to rescue those who are perishing without Christ?
(Kenneth Cole, The Crucial Message. From a sermon by Gerald Flury, Why Are You Standing Around? 8/16/2012)
YOU’RE GOING TO PLAY BASEBALL THIS SUMMER
Joshua 14:12, James 2:26
A little boy named Jimmy was about 13 years old. He grew up with his brother in a very poor family not too far from downtown. Their dad was very sick and could not work. They had food to eat every morning and evening, but he and his brother wore jeans with holes in their knees. Both boys had paper routes so that they could have some lunch money at school.
One day in early spring, Jimmy’s dad called him into his room. “Son,” he said, “your mother and I have been saving up money all year so that you can play on a baseball team. I just wanted you to know that you’re going to play baseball this summer.”
Jimmy jumped to his feet and hugged his dad. He could hardly believe it. But, he knew that playing baseball cost a lot of money. He needed baseball shoes and a glove. He knew that his dad couldn’t afford all of that. He couldn’t believe that his dad had the money for the signup fee. But he knew his dad said that he would get to play baseball this summer. It was all too wonderful.
Jimmy immediately ran to the neighbors to see if he could cut their lawns and sweep their driveways. It didn’t take too long for him to have enough money to buy some cleats. So he went to the store and came home with a brand new pair of baseball cleats. He tried them on to show his dad. He was so excited.
Next, he saw a baseball glove at the corner drug store and began to work and save his money for that. It wasn’t long until he had it. Now he could begin practicing.
Every day after school, he threw an old tennis ball he had found against the side of the garage so he could practice being a baseball player. He thought he could be a pitcher so he drew a square on the garage wall out of chalk and began throwing the tennis ball at the square.
Soon he could put the ball in the square every time. Finally, the day came for signups. He and his dad walked down to the park and waited in line. The boy looked at all the coaches and wondered who would pick him to be on their team. He was the happiest boy at the sign ups. He loved his dad.
That was the last time Jimmy’s dad would take him to the park. Right after signups, he got extremely ill. He would lie in bed and wait for Jimmy to get home after every game so he could hear all about it. Right after baseball season ended that summer, Jimmy’s dad died. He never got to see him play in one game. But Jimmy never forgot about the day his dad told him, “This summer you’re going to play baseball.”
Because his dad told him that, Jimmy believed it. He trusted his dad. Then he worked hard toward what his dad had told him. Finally, he received what was promised.
Jimmy played baseball that summer. Later on, he played in high school and college.
Faith and works. James 2:26 in action.
Sermon Central Staff
1 John 5:14-5:15
1 Peter 1:3-1:10
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Ruby Hamilton, a businesswoman in her fifties, was stunned at the loss of her husband of 32 years in a car accident. Her anger and disappointment went deeper than a more typical expression of grief though. She had become a follower of Christ in her late twenties, but her husband didn't share her newfound interest in spiritual things. Nonetheless, she had set about praying for him feverishly and unceasingly that he would come to know the Lord. And one day when she was praying, she felt a wave of peace wash over her, and that still small voice assuring her that her husband would be okay. She eagerly awaited the day when her husband surrender his life to Jesus. And now this.
What do you do when faith doesn't make sense? When God doesn't seem to be answering or opening doors or being found? Ruby Hamilton stopped living for God.
Roger Simmons was hitchhiking his way home. He would never forget the date - May 7th. His heavy suitcase was making him tired and he was anxious to take off that army uniform once and for all. Flashing the thumb to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped.
The passenger door swung open. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. "Going home for keeps?"
"Well, you're in luck if you're going to Chicago."
"Not quite that far - do you live in Chicago?"
"I have a business there, the driver said. My name is Hamilton."
They chatted for a while, and then Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to share his faith with this fiftyish, apparently successful business man. But he kept putting it off, till he realized that he was now just 30 minutes from his home. It was now or never.
"Mr. Hamilton, I would like to talk to you about something very important." Then he simply told Mr. Hamilton about the plan of salvation and ultimately asked him if he would like to receive Jesus as his savior and Lord.
The Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger expected that he was about to get thrown out of the car. Instead, the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger "This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me."
Five years went by. Roger married, had a couple of kids and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a trip to Chicago he found a small white business card that had been given to him by Hamilton five years previous. In Chicago, he looked up Hamilton enterprises. The receptionist told him that it was impossible to see Mr. Hamilton, but he could see Mrs. Hamilton. A little confused, he was ushered into a beautiful office where he found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties.
She extended her hand "You knew my husband?"
Roger told her about how Hamilton had picked him up while he was hitchhiking home after the war. "Can you tell me what day that was?"
"Sure it was May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army."
"Anything special about that day," she asked.
He hesitated, not knowing if he should mention how he shared the message of Jesus with her husband. "Mrs. Hamilton, I explained the gospel to your husband that day. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day."
Explosive sobs shook her body. Finally getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, "I had prayed for my husband's salvation for years. I believed God would save him."
"Where is your husband, Ruby?"
"He's dead. He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see, I thought God had not kept his promise. I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought God had not kept his word!"
(Considerable influence for this message came from John Piper's "The Spring of Persistent Public Love", DesiringGod.org. From a sermon by Bret Toman, Power to Live the Golden Rule, 1/3/2011)
Dr. S.M. Lockridge was the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, San Diego CA from 1953 - 1993. He entered heaven in 2000. He is well-known for a passage out of his sermon titled “He’s My King”:
“He’s enduringly strong, He’s entirely sincere, He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. He’s God’s Son. He’s a sinner’s savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s preeminent. He’s the loftiest idea in literature. He’s the highest idea in philosophy. He’s the fundamental truth in theology. He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He guards and He guides. He heals the sick, He cleans the lepers. He forgives sinners, He discharges debtors, He delivers captives, He defends the feeble, He blesses the young, He serves the unfortunate, He regards the aged, He rewards the diligent, He beautifies the meek. Do you know Him?
Well, my king is the king of knowledge, He’s the well-spring of wisdom, He’s the doorway of deliverance, He’s the pathway of peace, He’s the roadway of righteousness, He’s the highway of holiness He’s the gateway of glory, He’s the master of the mighty, He’s the captain of the conquerors, He’s the head of the heroes, He’s the leader of the legislators, He’s the overseer of the overcomers, He’s the governor of governors, He’s the prince of princes, He’s the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
His life is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Well. I wish I could describe Him to you. But He’s indescribable. Yes. He’s incomprehensible. He’s invincible, He’s irresistible. I’m trying to tell you, the Heavens cannot contain Him, let alone a man explain Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him, and you can’t live without Him. Well. The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. Pilate coul...
Sermon Central Staff
Two golfers stepped up to the first tee on the St. Andrews course in New York. The older golfer was a kindly man who played a thoughtful, deliberate game. The younger golfer was full of pride and impatience.
On the first hole he sliced, lost his ball in the tall grass, hit another one, & had a score of 8 instead of 4 or 5. And the next hole was even worse.
Frustrated, he began hollering at the caddy: "Keep your eyes peeled. I'm not here to do your job for you!" Thereafter, every bad shot was the caddy's fault! At the end of the first 9 holes, the younger golfer was so upset that he discharged the caddy & carried his own bag. "That caddy made me nervous. He doesn't like me, & I blankety-blank sure don't like him! I say good riddance to him!"
After several more holes had been played without a word, the older golfer broke the silence: "Several years ago a little kid from Yonkers came up here & became a caddy. He was a sweet-natured boy; quick-witted, willing, & had a nose for golf. Everybody liked him. His name was William; he had a clubfoot. But that didn't affect his caddying. It was a pleasure to go out with him."
"A famous doctor, a member of the club, became interested in William & took him South that winter & operated on his foot. When William returned, he went back to caddying. The doctor, however, had to give up golf shortly after that because of his health. And it wasn't long after that when he died.
"Months later I was playing a round with William carrying my bag. It was Spring, & the fields & hedges were alive with blossoms. William stopped several times to gather flowers until he had quite a bouquet. 'Who's the girl, William?' I asked. 'I haven't any girl, sir,' he said. 'They're for my friend, the doctor--twice a week I take flowers to his grave.'
"Now that's a caddie worth having," the younger golfer said. "What ever happened to him?" The older man paused & then replied, "For 9 holes he was carrying your bag."
(From a sermon by Melvin Newland, Thanksgiving and Praise, 11/24/2010)
Sermon Central Staff
KEEP THE SPRINGS PURE
The family’s water supply came from a spring just a few feet from the house. The pure, cold, sweet water bubbled up through a large pipe about the size of a barrel that had been sunk in the ground. One morning two huge frogs were found in the spring. No one wanted to drink from the water until the frogs had been removed, and the water had been allowed to flush over the sides for the rest of the day. Everyone wanted to make sure it was clean and pure again.
You can make a parable out of the incident. Those frogs could represent bad thoughts, and the spring is man’s heart. If our thought life is evil, the words and deeds that flow from within will be contaminated. Jesus said that the blasphemous statements made by His enemies revealed their inner selves. They spoke the way they did because they had allowed evil thoughts to take control of their minds.
(From a sermon by Dennis Davidson, Guard Your Heart, 9/1/2011)
Redemption and Restoration in Real Life
I conclude this morning with a story about what happened since a tragic event that took place 9 months ago around Christmas time at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. I share it because I think it makes a point about moving beyond the 'Who, Them?' To THEM!
The event was the shooting of several people in the church parking lot and building that left three dead and three wounded. The young man, who had done the shooting, killed himself after being shot by a security guard. Earlier that day, he had entered Youth with A Mission Headquarters in suburban Denver, shooting four and killing two. His name was Matthew Murray, and he had been raised in a Christian home.
The tragedy shook the church that had just started to come out of the painful and very public story about their former pastor's, Ted Haggard, sexual sin. Now they were faced with this terrible tragedy.
In a recent Christianity Today article, it was told that after granting the interview to talk about that day and its after effects, it was revealed that Brady Boyd, the current Senior Minister, called Murray's parents and asked if they would like to come to New Life and see where 'their son had passed away.' They said they had wanted to, but had refrained from do so because of their concerns for the church. They were also asked if they would be willing to meet with members of the family who had lost two teenage daughters that morning. They said yes. The same invitation was extended to the victim's family, the Work's. They said yes.
After showing the Murrays around the church where the tragic events took place, they met with the Work's in Boyd's office. "What happened there in the two hours in my office ... was the most significant ministry moment I've experienced, maybe in all of my life," Boyd said. When they first entered the office, the two families embraced. They sat, wept, and cried together, Boyd said, for "I don't know how long." Then they prayed together.
Later Jeanne Assam [the security guard who shot Murray] was invited to join them. When Jeanne, who had undoubtedly saved many lives but had been forced to shoot the Murray's son, walked into the room, "the Murrays embraced her and hugged her and released her from any guilt and remorse. The dad looked at Jeanne and said, "Please know we're so sorry that you had to do what you did. We're so sorry."
The article concludes with these words from Boyd, "We can talk philosophically about repentance and redemption and going forward with God," Boyd said, "but what I saw in that room in my office was the greatest testimony of forgiveness and redemption that I have ever seen. It was a testimony that God really can restore and redeem."
THE POWER OF GIVING THANKS
Something to reflect on as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner:
If you had been a Pilgrim, would you have given thanks?
Consider what they had been through, the men and women who broke bread together on that first Thanksgiving in 1621.
They had uprooted themselves and sailed for America, an endeavor so hazardous that published guides advised travelers to the New World, "First, make thy will." The crossing was very rough and the Mayflower was blown off course. Instead of reaching Virginia, where Englishmen had settled 13 years earlier, the Pilgrims ended up in the wilds of Massachusetts. By the time they found a place to make their new home - Plymouth, they called it - winter had set in.
The storms were frightful. Shelter was rudimentary. There was little food. Within weeks, nearly all the settlers were sick.
"That which was most sad and lamentable," Governor William Bradford later recalled, "was that in two or three months’ time, half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases.... There died sometimes two or three of a day."
When spring came, Indians showed them how to plant corn, but their first crops were dismal. Supplies ran out, but their sponsors in London refused t...
Sermon Central Staff
THE STOLEN BABY JESUS SYNDROME
A few years back, Wellington, FL had their baby Jesus stolen two years running. This was a wealthy community and their Jesus was worth around $1800. The third time around they put a GPS inside and traced the thief to her home.
But the baby Jesus doesn’t have to be expensive. In 2008, in Eureka Springs AK, the thieves not only stole a plastic baby Jesus; they also took the concrete block and chain meant to keep that from happening
It’s called the “Stolen Baby Jesus Syndrome.” Some take the babies as a joke. Others do so because they want to protest Christmas. When found, the babies are often defaced with profanity or Satanic symbols (AP Dec. 10, 2008)
But the thief doesn’t always have bad intentions. About 6 years ago, Chicago Police say an art student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was arrested for stealing a figure of the baby Jesus from the Nativity Scene at the Daley Plaza. Two witnesses saw him pull the three-foot figure from the manger and just walk away with it. When questioned about the theft, the man said he took the figure because he saw it and wanted it.
(http://www.14wfie.com, Baby Jesus Stolen - Again, 12/6/04. From a sermon by Jeff Strite, A Reason to Party, 12/26/2010)
GOD JUST NEEDS A VOICE
John Stott, a well-known British pastor and theologian, was invited to preach at the University of Sydney in Australia; but after he got there, he lost his voice. He describes his experience as follows:
"What can you do with a missionary who has no voice? We had come to the last night of the [evangelistic campaign]. The students had booked the big university hall. A group of students gathered around me, and I asked them to pray as Paul did, that this thorn in the flesh might be taken from me. But we went on to pray that if it pleased God to keep me in weakness, I would rejoice in my infirmities in order that the power of Christ might rest upon me.
"As it turned out, I had to get within one inch of the microphone just to croak the gospel. I was unable to use any inflection of voice to express my personality. It was just a croak in a monotone, and all the time we were crying to God that his power would be demonstrated in human weakness. Well, I can honestly say that there was a far greater response that night than any other night. I’ve been back to Australia ten times now, and on every occasion somebody has come up to me and said, "Do you remember that night when you lost your voice? I was converted that night."
God doesn’t need eloquence to reach people. He just needs a voice, your voice, with a living, vital connection to Him in prayer.
I like the way Luci Swindoll once put it. She writes: "A friend of mine was caught in an elevator during a power failure. At first, there was momentary panic as all seven strangers talked at once. Then my friend remembered the tiny flashlight he had in his pocket. When he turned it on, the fear dissipated. During the 45 minutes they were stuck together they told jokes, laughed, and even sang. [The Bible] says we are that flashlight. Just as the flashlight draws power from its batteries, we draw power from Jesus. As light, we dissipate fear, bring relief, and lift spirits. We don’t even have to be big to be effective. We just have to be ’on.’"
(Source: Student Leadership, Spring 1993, p. 32. Luci Swindoll, "Heart to Heart," Today’s Christian Woman. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, "The Power of His Presence" 7/10/2009)
For more from Chuck, visit http://www.insight.org