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Sermon Central Staff
AN OLD FEUD AND A NEW BRIDGE
There were two old geezers living in the backwoods of the Ozarks: Rufus and Clarence. They lived on opposite sides of the river and they hated each other. Every morning, just after sunup, Rufus and Clarence would go down to their respective sides of the river and yell at each other.
"Rufus!" Clarence would shout, "You better thank your lucky stars that I can’t swim, er I’d swim this river and whup you!"
"Clarence!" Rufus would holler back, "You better thank YOUR lucky stars that I can’t swim, er I’d swim this river and whup YOU!"
Every morning. Every day. For 20 years.
One day the Army Corps of Engineers came along and built a bridge. But the insults went on every morning. Every day. Another five years.
Finally, Mr. Rufus’ wife had had enough. "Rufus!" she squallered one day, "I can’t take no more! Every day for 25 years you’ve been threatenin’ to whup Clarence. Well, thar’s the bridge! Have at it!"
Rufus thought for a moment. Chewed his bottom lip for another moment. "Woman!" he declared, snapping his suspenders into place. "I’m gonna whup Clarence!"
He walked out the door, down to the river, along the river bank, came to the bridge, stepped up onto the bridge, walked about halfway over the bridge, then turned tail and ran screaming back to the house, slammed the door, bolted the windows, grabbed the shotgun and dove under the bed.
"Rufus!" cried the missus. "I thought you was gonna whup Clarence!"
"I was, woman, I was!" he whispered.
"What in tarnation is the matter?"
"Well," whispered the terror-stricken Rufus, "I walked halfway over the bridge and saw a sign that said, 'Clearance, 13 feet, 6 inches.' He ain't never looked that big from the other side of the river!"
That’s what happens sometimes to the people of God. We look at things from a distance and make plans but when we get closer to doing what God wants us to do we think that the task is too monumental and we resort back to the safety of what we have always done. We circle the wagons and stand our ground. We stay right in our comfort zone.
(From a sermon by Horace Wimpey, Christian Attributes of Action, 8/15/2012)
An elderly lady was asleep in her bed one night, when she was awakened by a strange noise from the living room. Cautiously, she walked in and discovered a burglar in the process of stealing the stereo. Overcome with fear, she whispered a desparate prayer, "Help me Jesus!" The burglar heard her and started towards her. Without a thought she put up her hand and shouted a favorite scripture reference: ACTS, 2:38! The burglar immediately froze. The lady dialed 911, and within minutes, police were on the scene, and took the burglar to the police station. As the police were questioning him, one of the detectives said, "I’m curious, you could have ran and got away, why did you stay frozen in that one spot?" The burglar answered, "Man, if you knew that old lady was packing an axe and two .38 revolvers, you would not have moved either!"
It’s not easy to step up against the authorities. Let me illustrate: During his years as premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev denounced many of the policies and atrocities of his predecessor, Joseph Stalin. Once, as he reproached Stalin in a public meeting, Khrushchev was interrupted by a shout from a heckler in the audience. "You were one of Stalin’s colleagues. Why didn’t you stop him?"
"Who said that?" roared Khrushchev. An agonizing silence followed as nobody in the room dared move a muscle. Then Khrushchev replied quietly, "Now you know why."
Survivor Eva Hart remembers the night, April 15, 1912, on which the Titanic plunged 12,000 feet to the Atlantic floor, some two hours and forty minutes after an iceberg tore a 300-foot gash in the starboard side: "I saw all the horror of its sinking, and I heard, even more dreadful, the cries of drowning people."
Although twenty life-boats and rafts were launched-too few and only partly filled-most of the passengers ended up struggling in the icy seas while those in the boats waited a safe distance away.
Lifeboat No. 14 did row back to the scene after the unsinkable ship slipped from sight at 2:20 A.m. Alone, it chased cries in the darkness, seeking and saving a precious few. Incredibly, no other boat joined it.
Some were already overloaded, but in virtually every other boat, those already saved rowed their half-filled boats aimlessly in the night, listening to the cries of the lost. Each feared a crush of unknown swimmers w...
A nationwide survey of 2200 seven to eleven years old by the Foundation for Child’s Development indicated that most American children feel good about their lives, their families, and just being themselves. But more than two-thirds are also afraid. Afraid of “someone bad” skulking around their neighborhood, waiting to break into their homes, afraid that they will be attacked when they go outside, afraid of “shoot ‘em ups” and violence.
If power could deliver us from fear, then Joseph Stalin should have been fearless. Instead, this infamous Russian premier was afraid to go to bed. He had seven different bedrooms. Each could be locked as tightly as a safe. In order to foil any would-be assassins, he slept in a different one each night. Five chauffeur-driven limousines transported him wherever he went, each with curtains closed so no one would know which contained Stalin. So deep-seated were his apprehensions that he employed a servant whose sole task was to monitor and protect his tea bags. Stalin; Ian Grey (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979), 457
Illustrate FEAR: Dr. Walter Cannon, a pioneer researcher in psychosomatic medicine at Harvard Univ., describes what happens to the human body when it becomes angry or fearful: "Respiration deepens; the heart beats more rapidly; the arterial pressure rises; the blood is shifted from the stomach and intestines to the heart, central nervous system, and the muscles; the processes of the alimentary canal cease; sugar is freed from the reserves in the liver; the spleen contracts and discharges its contents of concentrated corpuscles, and adrenalin is secreted." You don’t want to hold all of that in! It will make you sick!
WHAT'S ON THE OTHER SIDE
A sick man turned to his doctor, as he was preparing to leave the
examination room and said, "Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side."
Very quietly the doctor said, "I don’t know."
"You don’t know? You, a Christian man, does not know what is on the other side?"
The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side of which came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.
Turning to the patient, the doctor said, "Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened he sprang in without fear."
"I know little of what is on the o...
Sermon Central Staff
I'VE GOT A FLASHLIGHT!
Ann Beck of North Carollton, Mississippi, talks about the days when her husband and she taught 2- and 3-year-olds in Sunday school. A Bible verse they helped the pre-schoolers memorize was Psalms 56: "When I am afraid, I will trust in you." Their preschool son, Mark, was one of their pupils.
Well, one stormy night, as lightning flashed and thunder boomed, the electricity suddenly went off. "I'm not afraid," Mark assured his parents as they groped in the dark for candles and matches. Expecting him to quote the Bible verse he recently learned, Ann Beck proudly prompted him, "And tell us why you aren't afraid."
Little Mark simply replied, "Cause I've got my flashlight."
(Ann Beck, North Carollton, MS, Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart;" www.PreachingToday.com)
Who needs the Lord when you have a flashlight?
(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Angels and Promises, 2/23/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
FEAR AND THE DECEITS OF THE HEART
I think Edward Welch chose brilliantly the title for his book on overcoming the fear of man: When People are Big and God is Small. Maybe you can relate to his personal awakening to this problem when he was a high-school senior:
"I had always been shy and self-conscious, controlled by what my peers thought (or might have thought), but I never considered it seriously until the day of the awards assembly. I was up for an award, and I was scared to death I would get it!
"The auditorium bulged with over two thousand high-school juniors and seniors. From the back, where I like to sit, it seemed a good mile or two up to the platform. All I could think of was what my classmates would think of me while I walked to the front. Would I walk funny? Would I trip going up the stairs? Would one person -- I prayed it would not be a girl I liked -- think I was a jerk? What about those who were also nominated or who thought they were deserving? What would they think of me if I won instead of them? What would I ever say for a brief acceptance speech? 'God, please don't let me get this!' I prayed.
"After a number of lesser awards were announced, the vice principal went to the podium to introduce the winner. He began with a short, somewhat cryptic biographical sketch. It did not sound exactly like me, but it was generic enough to fit. I was starting to sweat, but I sat motionless for fear that someone would think I was getting interested. Finally the announcement came: 'And the winner of this year's senior award is...Rick Wilson.
"Rick Wilson! I could not believe it! Of all people. No one even thought he was a candidate!
"You can imagine my reaction. Relief? No way. I felt like a total failure. Now what would people think of me? They knew I was up for the award, and someone else was chosen. What a loser I was.
"Immediately my mind began spinning out justifications. If I had worked at all this year, I would have won. I certainly had the potential, I just didn't want to win. I'm a late bloomer; when I get to college, I will show them. I was ashamed to go back to class. Pitiful, isn't it?"
Dr. Welch describes well the deceit of the heart. Many fear success, for it would put us on display; yet we also fear failure, for then we are shown to be less wonderful than we had hoped. The Bible mentions often this heart-struggle. Almost 600 verses contain the word, "fear" and related synonyms. One of the profound comments comes through the prophet Isaiah: "And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. [So God promises to restore and revive his people, to protect and deliver them. Then he says,] 'I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth?'" (Isaiah 51.11-13).
(From a sermon by Glenn Durham, How Fear Controls People, 5/31/2010)