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"PLEASE COME BACK"
Max Lucado tells us about a girl named Christina. She lives in a small dusty village in Brazil. She’s bored. She feels like her strict parents have cheated her out of the joys of life. She longs for the excitement of the big city of Rio.
One morning her mother Maria finds Christina’s bed empty. Maria knew immediately where her daughter had gone. So she quickly throws some clothes in a bag, gathers up all her money, and heads for the bus station.
On her way, the mom enters one of those photograph booths in a local drug store and takes pictures of herself. She puts the pictures in her purse and takes the next bus to Rio de Janeiro.
She puts up pictures of herself all over town. But she can’t find her daughter. The weary mother gets back on the bus and weeps all the way home.
Months later, Christina slowly walks down the hotel stairs. She’s already worn down by life. Her young face is tired. Her brown eyes no longer dance with youth but speak of pain and fear.
A thousand times over she longed to go back home. She remembered the warm secure feeling of love and acceptance she had experience back with her mum in their little village. But she thought it was too late to turn back.
As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes notice a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina’s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back were these words: "Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home." And she did.
Christine’s mom pulled out all the stops to get her child to come back home, and this is exactly what God is doing for His children. It’s not His will for anyone here in this room to perish. "Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come back to Jesus."
(From a sermon by Maarc Axelrod, Crazy About His Kids, 2/9/2011)
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)
1 John 2:15-2:17
1 Kings 3:16-3:28
2 Corinthians 9:12-10:1
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ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
1 Corinthians 13:1-13:8
CYMBALA'S EASTER STORY
Jim Cymbala preaches at a church in the slums of New York. He tells the following story: It was Easter Sunday and I was so tired at the end of the day that I just went to the edge of the platform, pulled down my tie and sat down and draped my feet over the edge. It was a wonderful service with many people coming forward. The counselors were talking with these people.
As I was sitting there I looked up the middle aisle, and there in about the third row was a man who looked about fifty, disheveled, filthy. He looked up at me rather sheepishly, as if saying, “Could I talk to you?”
We have homeless people coming in all the time, asking for money or whatever. So as I sat there, I said to myself, though I am ashamed of it, “What a way to end a Sunday. I’ve had such a good time, preaching and ministering, and here’s a fellow probably wanting some money for more wine.”
He walked up. When he got within about five feet of me, I smelled a horrible smell like I’d never smelled in my life. It was so awful that when he got close, I would inhale by looking away, and then I’d talk to him, and then look away to inhale, because I couldn’t inhale facing him. I asked him, “What’s your name?”
“How long have you been on the street?”
“How old are you?”
“Thirty-two.” He looked fifty--hair matted; front teeth missing; wino; eyes slightly glazed.
“Where did you sleep last night, David?”
I keep in my back pocket a money clip that also holds some credit cards. I fumbled to pick one out thinking; I’ll give him some money. I won’t even get a volunteer. They are all busy talking with others. Usually we don’t give money to people. We take them to get something to eat.
I took the money out. David pushed his finger in front of me. He said, “I don’t want your money. I want this Jesus, the One you were talking about, because I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die on the street.”
I completely forgot about David, and I started to weep for myself. I was going to give a couple of dollars to someone God had sent to me. See how easy it is? I could make the excuse I was tired. There is no excuse. I was not seeing him the way God sees him. I was not feeling what God feels.
But oh, did that change! David just stood there. He didn’t know what was happening. I pleaded with God, “God, forgive me! Forgive me! Please forgive me. I am so sorry to represent You this way. I’m so sorry. Here I am with my message and my points, and You send somebody and I am not ready for it. Oh, God!”
Something came over me. Suddenly I started to weep deeper, and David began to weep. He fell against my chest as I was sitting there. He fell against my white shirt and tie, and I put my arms around him, and there we wept on each other. The smell of His person became a beautiful aroma. Here is what I thought the Lord made real to me: If you don’t love this smell, I...
1 John 2:4-2:5
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What Does Hope Do For Mankind?
Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
Hope energizes when the body is tired.
Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.
Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.
Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
Hope endures hardship when no on is caring.
Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.
- John Maxwell from Think on These Things –
One of my all-time favorite scenes out of Hollywood. (They are few and far between for me...) It’s a scene from one of the Star Trek TV series. Worf, the Klingon, is captured by the evil Dominion. They intend to use him as a practice dummy in hand-to-hand combat for their lethal ground troops, and so they do. They bring out soldier after soldier to take Worf on and they go at it. It’s never very long before the bad guys get tired of getting beat up, and they "tap out" and quit. So, after Worf’s been taking on all comers for most of the day, they finally bring out their biggest and baddest, the one warrior they know will be able to win. They begin to battle, and Worf is just too weak from the day’s struggles. He is little more than a punching bag for the bad guy to work out on. But Worf will not "tap out" like all the other beaten soldiers. He keeps getting up, no matter how many times he is knocked down, no matter how injured he is. He simply will not quit. It is obvious that this valiant warrior has won the respect and admiration of all the Dominion troops, including the one now beating him up. They all begin to beg him to tap out and quit, but he will not. Finally, out of sheer exhasperation, the warrior who is beating him stops and "taps out" himself. When asked by his enraged commander why he has done this, he says, resigned, "I cannot defeat this man. I can only kill him."
Think about that for a moment. I cannot defeat this man. I can only kill him. I don’t know about you, but my goal is to hear the devil himself say those words about me some day. I will not tap out. How about you?
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A man has been lost and walking in the desert for about five days. One hot day--actually, they’re all hot--he comes to the home of a preacher. Tired and weak, he crawls up to the house and collapses on the doorstep. The preacher takes him in and nurses him back to health. Feeling better, the man asks the preacher for directions to the nearest town. The preacher tells him the directions, and offers to lend him his horse to make it. The preacher says, "However, there is a special thing about this horse. You have to say ’Thank God’ to make it go and ’Amen’ to make it stop."
Anxious to get to town, the man says, "Sure, okay" and gets on the horse. He says, "Thank God" and sho ’nuff, the horse starts walking. A bit later he says louder, "Thank God, thank God," and the horse starts trotting. Feeling really brave, the man say, "Thank God! Thank God! THANK GOD!" and the horse is soon up to a full run!
About then he realizes he’s heading for a huge cliff and yells "Whoa!" But the horse doesn’t even slow! It’s coming up REAL QUICK and he’s doing everything he can to make the horse stop. "Whoa, stop, hold on!" Finally he remembers "AMEN!!!"
The horse stops a mere two inches from the cliff’s edge, almost throwing him over its head. The man, panting and heart racing, wipes the sweat from his face and leans back in the saddle. "Oh!" he says, gasping for air, "Thank God."
AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
An old couple was sitting by the fireside. He looked over at her, had a romantic thought, and said, “After fifty years, I’ve found you tried and true.”
The wife’s hearing wasn’t very good, so she said, “What?”
He repeated, “After fifty years, I’ve found you tried and true.”
“After fifty years, I’m tired of you too,” she re...
A. A Kentucky mountaineer fighting overseas in WW1 kept getting nagging letters from his wife back home. He was too busy fighting to write letters, even to his wife. At last, angered by his wife’s scolding letters, he sat down and wrote her: "Dear Nancy: I been a-gittin yore naggin letters all along. Now I want to tell ye, I’m tired of them. For the first time in my life I’m a-fightin in a big war, and I want to enjoy it in peace as long as it lasts."
16. Our Thinking vs. God’s Promises.
a. We say- It’s impossible. God says- All things are possible with Me.
b. We- I can’t do it. God- You can do all things through Christ.
c. We- I’m too tired. God- Come to Me, I will give you rest.
d. We- I’m always worried and frustrated. God- Cast all your cares on Me.
e. We- I can’t go on. God- My grace is sufficient for you.
f. We- I can’t figure things out. God- I will direct your steps.
g. We- I’m not able. God- I am able.
h. We- It’s not worth it. God- It will be worth it.
i. We- I can’t manage. God- I will supply all your needs.
j. We- I’m afraid. God- I have not given you a spirit of fear.
k. WE- I don’t have enough faith. God- I’ve given everyone a measure of faith.
l. WE- I’m not smart enough. God- I give you wisdom.
m. We- I feel all alone. God- I will never leave you or forsake you.