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I like the story about 3 prospectors who found a rich vein of gold in California during the gold rush days. They realized what a great discovery they had, & decided, "We’ve a really good thing going here as long as no one else finds out about it." So they each took a vow to keep it secret.
Then they headed for town to file their claims & get the equipment necessary to mine the gold. True to their vows, they didn’t say a word to anybody. They filed their claim, bought the equipment, & headed back to their mine. But when they did, a crowd of people followed them.
And the reason was because the expression on their faces had given them away. Their faces were aglow in anticipation of the wealth that soon would be theirs. People knew that they must have found something very special. So a crowd followed them out of town.
A young man wrote this to his girlfriend. “Sweetheart, if this world was as hot as the Sahara desert, I would crawl on my knees through the burning sand to come to you. If the world would be like the Atlantic Ocean, I would swim through shark infested waters to come to you. I would fight the most fiercest dragon to be by your side. I will see you on Thursday if it does not rain.”
At the library a couple of weeks ago, where I often go to study, I saw a car with a bumper sticker. This car was parked in the first space, so it was unmistakable – you saw it the moment you pulled into the parking lot, and it confronted you as you walked to the parking lot from the library. It read, in large, loud letters, “Nothing fails like prayer.” Nothing fails like prayer. Now, it is one thing not to believe in prayer, or to think those of us who do pray are misguided or even foolish. But to go to such lengths to ridicule and discourage prayer is something else altogether. And I wondered, what happened to this person? What prayer didn’t get answered the way they wanted it to and caused this crisis of faith? What had happened to cause their faith to fail? Perhaps it wasn’t their faith that failed initially, perhaps it was someone else’s…
THE BEST COMMENT ON FAITH IS ACTION
The Apostle Paul spoke of "faith working through love" (Gal. 5:6). The apostle John wrote "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear Children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth (1 John 3:17-18). We indicate what we believe not so much by what we say but by what we do.
Samuel Bradburn, an ASSOCIATE OF JOHN WESLEY, was highly respected by his friends and used by God as an effective preacher. On one occasion he was in desperate financial need. When Wesley learned of his circumstances, he sent him the following letter: "Dear Sammy: ‘trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.’ Yours affectionately, John Wesley." Attached to the letter was a 5-pound note (then worth about $10).
Bradburn’s reply was prompt. "Rev. and Dear Sir: I have often been struck with the beauty of the passage of Scripture quoted in your letter, but I must confess that I never saw such a useful ‘expository note’ on ...
I Don’t Want a ‘Shicken Sandich’! (06.13.05--The Tie That Binds--1 John 3:13-18)
“Well, what do you want?” The young frustrated mother blurted out to her little boy as he pouted in the fast food line. “We’ve been standing here for five minutes and I’ve told you everything on the menu. What is it that you DO want?” He winced and for the first time he felt embarrassed standing in front of all the people waiting in line behind him. “Mommy? I know that I don’t want a ‘cheesyburg and fwies’. I know I don’t want a ‘shicken sandich’. And, I know I don’t want something with ‘fishes’ in it. I can tell you what I don’t want. I know I want something, Mommy. I just can’t tell you what!”
I watched with curiosity from a table across the room. The little guy just couldn’t find what he wanted. He was hungry and anxious by the way he pranced back and forth around his mom. He wasn’t there because she had somehow cajoled him into being there. He was hungry and he wanted something to eat. His little tummy was sending out the right signals but his brain wasn’t connecting the signals with anything that his mom was telling him.
“Fish? Hamburger? Chicken?” His little brain told him that was food and it was good to eat. But, his brain also told him that it wanted something specific and particular. It was something that he couldn’t put into words, a feeling that had to be fulfilled but couldn’t be quantified. Finally, after a few more tense moments at the front of the line, the frazzled mother told the clerk to “Just give him a hamburger with everything on it.” She paid the clerk and dragged her little guy along behind, cup in hand, over to the drinks dispenser. The little boy took one last, long look at the menus above the counter and shrugged. That special feeling was still there but he just couldn’t put his finger on it.
It’s a feeling, but we just can’t seem to put it into words. It’s a kind of longing for something, whether that be food, entertainment or just the right thing to read before going to bed. Our brain tells us to get something but it doesn’t fill in all the blanks. When it comes to the love of our God, it’s kind of like that as well. We know what we don’t want. Our hearts tell us that we don’t want the run-of-the mill “love-stuff” the world has to offer. There are a lot of “love” things on the menu down here but none of them is really totally satisfying. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, our hearts cry out to be filled with that special “something” that we just can’t quite put our finger on but know we want really bad. It’s a love, as Martin Luther put it, “caught up high above all things in the invisible God who surpasses all feelings and understandings.” (Commentary on Romans.) It’s a hard thing to put into words but one thing we do know it’s a longing that can’t be filled by any old “shicken sandich.”
HOPE OF MARIA
Hope weans God’s people from seeking and trusting this world.
The story is told of Maria. She lived in a small town in southern Kentucky. She did not see or hear from her husband for years. Edward was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division during the Korean war and captured when the Chinese overpowered their positions in North Korea in February 1951.
Maria remembers very vividly the day the military officers visited her home. She knew what this meant, and tears were flowing before they ever made it to the front porch. Edgar could not be accounted for; he was missing in action and presumed to be a prisoner of war. But Maria held out hope, even though she knew the chances of his survival were grim.
As the war dragged on, she felt grief at times. But she never gave up and never even considered moving on with life and living as if Edward was dead. No, she remained steadfast, faithful and hopeful for two long agonizing years.
Then, in 1953 without warning, the officers showed up on her doorstep again. But there was something different this time … there was a spring in their step. Maria could sense this was joyful news! And, sure enough, she was told that Edward was alive. He was part of a prisoner exchange in Panmunjom. He was on his way to Walter Reed Hospital for some treatment and nourishment, and then he would be returning home!
In a similar way, hope gives us the incentive to remain faithful and pure knowing that there will be a reunion with our loving Lord.
1 John 3:2-3 says, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure."
Sermon Central Staff
WHO DO YOU SAY I AM--IN ENGLAND?
A teaching assistant accused of looting. An 11 year old girl appears in court and admits breaking windows in Nottingham. Teenagers appear before Magistrates with no parent in attendance. Magistrates ask, "Where are their parents?" Two girls interviewed by the BBC at 9.30 a.m. in the morning, drinking Rosé wine stolen from a shop the night before. They say, "It's about showing the police and the rich people that we can do what we want." In Gloucester Park the Fire Brigade are pelted with missiles whilst putting out a fire -- and people ask, "Why is this happening? What's wrong?"
A BBC website offered up 10 reasons: Welfare dependence, Social exclusion, Lack of Fathers, Spending cuts, Weak Policing, Racism, Gangsta Rap, Consumerism, Opportunism and Social Networking.
David Cameron tells parliament about "deep moral failures" in our country, and I want to say, "The one under-lying reason for this week's riots is Sin; and sin is humanity's rejection of God. It's because men, women and children have forgotten who they are, and it's because we have forgotten who God is. It is because human-kind does not know the answer to the question that Jesus asks: "Who do you say I am?"
(From a sermon by Warner Pidgeon, Have you forgotten who you are? 8/12/2011)
HIS LAST THOUGHTS WERE OF HIS CHILDREN
A Union sergeant was killed on the first day of fighting in Gettysburg. He was just one of more than 3,000 Union soldiers who died in the three-day conflict. When his body was found later that week, lying in a secluded spot in Gettysburg, he was holding a photograph -- and on it were the faces of his three children: 8-year-old Frank, 6-year-old Alice and 4-year-old Freddie. Somehow, this unknown soldier had managed to drag himself to this patch of ground after he had been wounded, and was looking at his children’s faces when he died.
This Union soldier might have faded into obscurity, because there was nothing on his body to identify him and the few soldiers from his unit who survived the battle had moved on before his body was found.
Somehow, the image of his children ended up in the possession of Dr. John Francis Bourns, a 49-year-old Philadelphia physician who helped care for the wounded at Gettysburg. Months after wrapping up his volunteer work there, he decided to try to find out the identity of the children’s father.
His efforts produced a wave of publicity that swept the North and became the People magazine cover story of its day. On Oct. 19, 1863, the Philadelphia Inquirer published a story under the headline: "Whose Father Was He?"
The article stated, "After the battle of Gettysburg, a Union soldier was found in a secluded spot on the battlefield, where, wounded, he had laid himself down to die. In his hands, tightly clasped, was a picture containing the portraits of three small children ... and as he silently gazed upon them his soul passed away. It is earnestly desired that all papers in the country will draw attention to the discovery of this picture, so that, if possible, the family of the dead hero may come into possession of it. Of what inestimable value will it be to these children, proving, as it does, that the last thought of their dying father was for them, and them only."
When the article appeared, newspapers were not able to publish photographs, and so the story, reprinted in dozens of newspapers and magazines throughout the North, had to rely on a detailed description of the children. The eldest boy, it said, was wearing a shirt made of the same fabric as his sister’s dress. The younger boy in the middle was sitting on a chair, wearing a dark suit. It estimated their ages at 9, 7, and 5.
One of the reprints appeared in the American Presbyterian, a church magazine. That is where Philinda Humiston, living in Portville, N.Y., first saw word of the picture and the dead soldier. She hadn’t heard from her husband since weeks before Gettysburg. When she saw the description of the children, she fear...
Sermon Central Staff
Unusual Laws in Kansas
Laws are important in any society in order to keep peace and order. But there are laws and then there are laws. Here are some laws that are still on the books in our state of Kansas.
• In Derby, it is illegal to hit a vending machine that stole your money.
• In Dodge City, it is illegal to spit on the sidewalk.
• In Lawrence, it is illegal to wear a bee in your hat…and all cars entering Lawrence must sound their horn to warn the horses of their arrival.
• In Topeka, it’s illegal to sing the alphabet on the streets at night…and dead chickens cannot be hauled across Kansas Ave…and finally, in Topeka, you cannot yell at haunted houses.
• Oh…one more…In Wichita, before proceeding through the intersection of Douglas and Broadway, a motorist is required to get out of their car and fire three shotgun rounds into the air. That is if you can get to that intersection with a loaded gun in your car, now-a-days.
There are some pretty silly laws that are still on the books, and I’m sure there was a reason for each one of them at the time. I’m also sure there are lots of people breaking these laws each day in those towns…probably at this very moment…law-breakers whether they know it or not.
And usually, Christians don’t think of themselves as law-breakers, but believe it or not, followers of Christ have been and still are people who will break the law.
From a sermon by David E. Watters, Breaking the Law...For God’s Sake, 8/14/2011
"Our Lord never taught us to deny sin: sin must be destroyed, not denied..." -Oswald Chambers