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WE'LL STAY OUT OF THE WAY
The Call to Worship had just been pronounced starting Easter Sunday Morning service in an East Texas church. The choir started its processional, singing "Up from the Grave He Arose" as they marched in perfect step down the center aisle to the front of the church.
The last lady was wearing shoes with very slender heels. Without a thought for her fancy heels, she marched toward the grating that covered that hot air register in the middle of the aisle. Suddenly the heel of one shoe sank into the hole in the register grate.
In a flash she realized her predicament. Not wishing to hold up the whole processional, without missing a step, she slipped her foot out of her shoe and continued marching down the aisle.
There wasn’t a hitch. The processional moved with clock-like precision. The first man after her spotted the situation and without losing a step, reached down and pulled up her shoe, but the entire grate came with it! Surprised, but still singing, the man kept on going down the aisle, holding in his hand the grate with the shoe attached.
Everything still moved like clockwork. Still in tune and still in step, the next man in line stepped into the open register and disappeared from sight. The service took on a special meaning that Sunday, for just as the choir ended with "Allelujah! Christ arose!" a voice was heard under the church shouting, "I hope all of you are out of the way ’cause I’m coming out now!"
The little girl closest to the aisle shouted, "Come on, Jesus! We’ll stay out of the way."
Fulton J. Sheen has written these words from the heart, “The human heart is not shaped like a valentine heart, perfect and regular in contour; it is slightly irregular in shape as if a small piece of it were missing out of its side. That missing part...may very well man that when God created each human heart, he kept a small sample of it in heaven, and sent the rest of it into the world of time where it would each day learn the lesson that it could never be really happy, never be wholly in love, and never be really wholehearted until it went back again to the timeless to recover the sample which God had kept for it for all eternity.”
My daughter, Lauren, often uses her creativity to draw pictures when she expresses her love for Jesus. One afternoon she decided to write out John 3:16, adding colorful doodles and designs to bring it to life. Once she finished, she brought her finished masterpiece to me and I looked at it with utter amazement.
The verse was John 3:16 alright, but she inadvertently ran two words together and gave new meaning to this ever familiar verse. Instead of writing, “For God so loved the world…”, she wrote, “For God solved the world…” Lauren was unaware of her linguistic error, but quickly admitted that God did solve the world by giving us his son.
Remember that God has already prepared for our failure and has atoned for our sin. All he requires is a whole-hearted commitment of trust and belief.
1 Corinthians 13 - church version
“If our church could hold services in five languages or our members could speak three, but we didn’t love others, we would be all talk and no action.
If our church really expressed it’s spiritual gifts with wholehearted service and we became spiritual giants, but we did not love others, what good would we be?
If our church had such faith that resulted in great healings and great miracles taking place, but we really did not love others, what would be the point? If we gave 50% of our budget to various missions across our nation and around our world so that a great deal of spiritual and physical poverty was alleviated, but we did not love others, why would we do it?
Our church is patient and kind. Our church is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Our church does not demand its own way. Our church is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. Our church is never glad about injustice but rejoices when the truth wins out. Our church never gives up, never looses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
God and His love will last forever. But, our church’s pronouncements and decisions and giftedness and abilities will all disappear. Our church now knows only a little but when the Lord returns, our church will know everything.
It’s like this, “When we were still new believers, our church spoke and thought and reasoned like a new believers. But as we grew up, we beca...
If some of you are like me, you’ve been waiting with a bit of anticipation for the final segment of J.R.R. Tolkiens, The Lord of the Rings, to be released to movie theatres some time in the near future. If you’ve been following the story on the screen or reading it from the pages of a book, you’ve been introduced to a rather unique character by the name of Gollum, who once possessed a ring forged by the evil Sardon, and now in the possession of Frodo Baggins, who knows that it ultimately must be destroyed in order to spare the world untold evil and destruction. The trouble is the ring has a history of driving those who possess it raving mad, a truth beginning to show itself in Frodo, but clearly witnessed in Gollum who appears totally consumed with the ring, calling it, as others owners have, “His precious.”
It’s really quite despicable to see a creature so absolutely driven and obsessed with something so evil. Perhaps it’s even more troubling when we recognize that this is us, every time our sinful human nature brings us to speak with a sharp and bitter tongue or act out our hateful or lustful desires which we’ve concluded to be more “precious” than the will of our God.
But I want you to keep that image of total consumption, of whole-hearted attention, of obsession in mind. Keep it there because as much as humanity is caught-up in sin, as negatively consumed and driven as Gollum was towards that symbol of evil; our God is positively consumed with us. In God’s eyes our lives are to be treated with the utmost care, so that even our deaths are a precious thing. “Precious in your sight, O Lord, is the death of your saints.”
Our God is not consumed with personal gain, but with ours. He’s not consumed with His own well-being, but with ours. He’s totally wrapped up in the troubles that confront us, death being the culmination of them all. He’s completely devoted to pouring out its remedy. Our life and that which threatens to destroy it completely in hell has our Lord’s whole-hearted attention. It’s His precious.
Sermon Central Staff
RICHARD CALSON ON FORGIVENESS
Let me conclude with in the words of Dr. Richard P. Carlson, Professor of Biblical Studies at Gettysburg Seminary: "God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ is a scandal. It goes out to sinners regardless of their religious or social standing. It breaks into human existence without prior invitation. It transforms who we are, whom we understand God to be, and how we are to live our lives and utilize our resources...It seeks to generate not just an intellectual acknowledgement or a polite thank you but blubbering, messy, wholehearted, continual devotion. It is not something that we control, but something that slams into our lives and takes control. It is not given to us as a result of our love but generates love in us toward God and toward one another."
(From a sermon by Ronald Harbaugh, Table Fellowship Is For Sinners, 6/12/2010)
Sermon Central Staff
J. C. RYLE ON ZEAL
Recently I found a book by Bishop J.C. Ryle, the first bishop of Liverpool, England on the subject of zeal. He wrote:
"Zeal is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. A zealous man is preeminently a man of one thing. He is more than earnest, hearty, uncompromising, wholehearted, and fervent in spirit. He sees only one thing, cares about one thing, lives for one thing, swallowed up in one thing, and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives or dies, has health or has sickness, whether he is rich or poor, pleases people or give offense, whether he is thought wise or foolish, gets the blame or the praise, whether he receives honor or is given shame, He burns for one thing, and that one thing is to please God. Such a one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, he will work and give money, he will cry and sigh and pray. If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, he will hold up the hands of Moses until the battle is won."
(From a sermon by Robert Stone, The People God Can’t Forget: Nehemiah, 5/28/2011)
Basketball practice was a challenge by the coach to turn half-hearted players into whole hearted players. My coach would not be happy unless we had floor burns on our knees. My coach placed a bucket on each end of the court for players to throw up in. We would run until we threw up, drink water and run again. Any half-hearted attempt at a pick, a pass, or getting position for a rebound was answered by the coach with running. He didn’t care about talent, he cut a lot of talent, what he cared about was HEART, a wholehearted attempt at basketball AND LIFE. I still love the man today and would hug him and thank him if I saw him.
There is a tradition among the guards who serve at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Whenever they salute a commissioned officer they say in a loud voice. “Line six, sir!” That is a reference to line six of the Sentinel’s Creed. In 99 words this creed captures what it means to be a guard at the Tomb. It states, “My dedication to this sacred duty is total and whole-hearted.
In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter. And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection. Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability. It is he who commands the respect I protect, his bravery that made us so proud. Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day, alone in the thoughtful peace of night, this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.”
From: Michael Otterstatter’s Sermon: Live Your Life Worthy of the LORD!