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Sermon Central Staff
COMING TO GRIPS WITH THE SOVEREIGN WILL OF GOD
I want to tell you a story about my friend, Jim Pence. Jim is an author who has written several books. But his first novel was titled "Blind Sight" and was published by Tyndale a number of years ago. Jim wrote this book, but he really didn't think it was all that of a success. Many writers write their first book and it's a springboard to others. It's a great book, but it wasn't his favorite work.
But for some reason, he wrote this book. Recently Jim emailed this story to me about his book:
"This past spring, two young men broke into Terry C's home before dawn. They shot him and killed his wife, and then went upstairs and murdered the couple's two young sons. They then set fire to the house and left the family for dead. Although he had been shot five times, Terry escaped through the bathroom window and crawled three hundred yards to a neighbor's. To make matters worse his daughter was implicated in the crime. Overnight, Terry lost his entire family.
"A few months later, Terry went back to his property. The remains of the house had been bulldozed and little was left. Torn with grief, and unable to understand why God had taken his family and allowed him to survive, Terry cried out to God, "Why did you take my family? Why didn't you take me, too? I don't understand."
"As he stood there, Terry noticed a scrap of paper stuck to the trunk of a nearby tree. He went over and picked it up. The paper was part of a page from my novel, "Blind Sight." The edges of the page were scorched and it was difficult to read. But the words were like a direct message from God:
"'I couldn't understand why You would take my family and leave me behind to struggle along without them. And I guess I still don't totally understand that part of it. But I do believe that You're sovereign; You're in control...and I know that You've brought Justine and those children into my life. And they need me. Lord, You could have taken my life that day, but You spared it. And You've gone on sparing it. It doesn't matter what happens to me now, but if I can help them, please let me do it.'
"Those paragraphs turned Terry's life around. He found the strength to go on and is now sharing his testimony in churches around the country. When he speaks, he brings the page from my novel, now preserved in a frame, and shows it to the congregation.
"Not only had the house burned, but the site had been bulldozed and the debris hauled off. What little was left had been exposed to the weather for months. And out of a nearly 400 page book, all that remained was a brief passage where a man who had lost his family came to grips with the Sovereignty of God and decided to move forward.
That scrap of paper lay there against a tree trunk as if waiting for Terry C: a man who had lost his family and desperately needed to come to grips with the Sovereign goodness of God.
(From a sermon by Daniel Darling, Joseph, The Unsung Hero of Christmas - Message Two -- 2008, 2/17/2011)
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."
Sermon Central Staff
EATING A BALD EAGLE
A forest ranger is making rounds in a remote part of the wooded reserve when he comes across an unkempt man, sitting at a make-shift campfire, and, to the ranger's astonishment, eating a fish and a bald eagle.
The man is consequently put in jail for the crime. He was soon brought to trial for his crime. The Judge asked the man, "Do you know that eating a bald eagle is a federal offense?"
"Yes, I do, Judge," replied the man, "but if you will let me argue my case, I'll explain what happened."
"You may proceed."
"I got lost in the woods and hadn't had anything real to eat for two weeks," the man explained. "I was so hungry, I was eating plants to stay alive. Next thing I see is a Bald Eagle swooping down at the lake grabbing a fish. I thought 'If I startled the eagle, I could maybe steal the fish.' Low and behold, the eagle lighted upon a nearby tree stump to eat the fish. I threw a stone toward the eagle hoping he would drop the fish and fly away. Unfortunately, in my weakened condition, my aim was off, and the rock hit the eagle squarely on his poor little head, and it killed him. I thought long and hard about what had happened, but figured that since I had killed it, I might as well eat it, since it would be more disgraceful to let it rot on the ground."
The Judge says he would take a recess to analyze the defendant's testimony. Fifteen minutes goes by, and the Judge returns.
"Due to the extreme circumstances you were under and because you didn't intend to kill the eagle, the court will dismiss the charges." The Judge then leans over the bench and whispers: "If you don't mind my asking, what does a bald eagle taste like?"
"Well, Your Honor, it is hard to explain. I guess the best comparison I can make is, it's a bit more tender than a California Condor, but lacks the tang of a Spotted Owl."
(From a sermon by J.D. Tutell, He Prepares a Table, 2/3/2011)
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...
What would you be willing to do for $10,000,000-00? In their book, The Day America Told the Truth, James Patterson and Peter Kim reveal some shocking statistics about how far people in this country are willing to go for ten million.
Would abandon their entire family (25%)
Would abandon their church (25%)
Would become prostitutes for a week or more (23%)
Would give up their American citizenship (16%)
Would leave their spouses (16%)
Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
Would kill a stranger (7%)
Would put their children up for adoption (3%)
Kurt Warner’s testimony: “Before accepting Jesus as my Lord I lived my life for only me. I never asked God what he wanted for my life. I was living only for what I wanted. When I was 25 years old I realized I was nothing without Jesus and that I was separated from Him because of sin. I asked Jesus to come into my life and show me His way. He did! Jesus became first in my life and a great change took place.”
W.H. Griffith Thomas scourged Christians this way, “There is no greater foe to Christianity than mere profession. There is no greater discredit to Christianity today than to stand up for it, and yet not live it in our lives. There is no greater danger in the Christian world today than to stand up for the Bible, and yet to deny that Bible by the very way we defend it. There is no greater hindrance to Christianity today than to contend for orthodoxy, whatever the orthodoxy may be, and to deny it by the censoriousness, the hardness, the unattractiveness with which we champion our cause. Oh this power of personal testimony ?with the heart filled with the love of Christ, the mind saturated with the teaching of Christ, the conscience sensitive to the law of Christ, the whole nature aglow with grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.?(Listening to tthe Giants, 149-50, Warren Wiersbe, Baker 1980)
JESUS DIED FOR MARY TOO--Communion Meditation
Mark Lowry, a Christian comedian observed that Mary’s silence at the cross always amazed him. If he were being crucified in the middle of town, his mother would have "Pitched a fit", but Mary never said a word. Lowry wondered if maybe what made the difference for her was remembering back to that 1st Christmas. Remembering touching his little hands and feet and counting his fingers and toes.
On a serious note, Lowry says:
"I wonder if she realized then that those were the same fingers that
had scooped out the oceans and formed the seas.
Mary probably counted those little toes- I wonder if she realized
that those were the same feet that had walked on streets of gold and
had been worshipped by angels.
Those little lips were the same lips that had spoken the world into
When Mary kissed her little baby, she wasn’t just kissing another baby - she was kissing the face of God.
33 years later she’s standing on a hillside watching blood pour from His veins, from the side of her own son... and she didn’t open her mouth. What a great testimony to the fact that
“Dr. Garl Restored My Sight!”
There was this soft-spoken man who was a commuter on the Long Island Railroad—on the five o’clock local. Every evening, after the train had left the subway, he would begin a journey through the car from front to back. At each seat he would stop and say, “Excuse me. But if any of your friends are blind, tell them to consult Dr. Garl. He restored my sight.”
Why don’t we have that same courage and conviction and boldness?
We know that 80% of the town of Meulaboh in Aceh, Indonesia was destroyed by the Tsunami waves and 80% of the people also died. This is one of the towns that was hit the hardest.
But there is a fantastic testimony from Meulaboh. In that town are about 400 Christians. They wanted to celebrate Christmas on December 25th but were not allowed to do so by the Muslims of Meulaboh. They were told if they wanted to celebrate Christmas they needed to go outside the city of Meulaboh on a high hill and there celebrate Christmas.
Because the Christians desired to celebrate Christmas the 400 believers left the city on December 25th and after they celebrated Christmas they stayed overnight on the hill.
As we all know the morning of December 26 there was the earthquake followed by the Tsunami waves destroying most of the city of Meulaboh and thousands were killed. The 400 believers were on the mountain and were all saved from destruction.
Now the Muslims of Meulaboh are saying that the God of the Christians punished them for forbidding the Christians from celebrating Christmas in the city. Others are questioning why so many Muslims died while not even one of the Christians died there.
Had the Christians insisted on their rights to celebrate Christmas in the city, they would have all died.
Pastor Calvary Life Fellowship in Indonesia.