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Harry Houdini, the famed escape artist issued a challenge wherever he went. He could be locked in any jail cell in the country, he claimed, and set himself free quickly and easily. Always he kep his promise, but one time something went wrong. Houdini entered the jail in his street clothes; the heavy, metal doors clanged shut behind him. He took from his belt a concealed piece of metal, strong and flexible. He set to work immediately, but something seemed to be unusual about this lock. For 30 minutes he worked and got nowhere. An hour passed, and still he had not opened the door. By now he was bathed in sweat and panting in exasperation, but he still could not pick the lock. Finally, after laboring for 2 hours, Harry Houdini collapsed in frustration and failure against the door he could not unlock. But when he fell against the door, it swung open! It had never been locked at all! But in his mind it was locked and that was all it took to keep him from opening the door and walking out of the jail cell.
Theologians tell a story to illustrate how Christ’s triumph presently benefits our lives: Imagine a city under siege. The enemy that surrounds they city will not let anyone or anything leave. Supplies are running low, and the citizens are fearful. But in the dark of the night, a spy sneaks through the enemy lines. He has rushed to the city to tell the people that in another place the main enemy force has been defeated; the leaders have already surrendered. The people do not need to be afraid. It is only a matter of time until the besieging troops receive the news and lay down their weapons. Similarly, we may seem now to be surrounded by the forces of evil—disease, injustice, oppression, death. But the enemy has actually been defeated at Calvary. Things are not the way they seem to be. It is only a matter of time until it becomes clear to all that the battle is really over.
Uncommon Decency, Richard J. Mouw, pp. 149-150
Sermon Central Staff
WE NEED CHRIST IN GOOD TIMES AND BAD
Presbyterian minister of the 19th century, J. R. Miller, once wrote that "We need Christ just as much in our bright, prosperous, exalted hours as in the days of darkness, adversity, and depression. We are quite in danger of thinking that religion is only for sickrooms and funerals, and for times of great sorrow and trial--a lamp to shine at night, a staff to help when the road is rough, a friendly hand to hold us up when we are stumbling. This is not true. Jesus went to the marriage-feast as well as to the home of sorrow. His religion is just as much for our hours of joy as for our days of grief. There are just as many stars in the sky at noon as at midnight, although we cannot see them in the sun's glare. And there are just as many comforts, promises, divine encouragements, and blessings above us when we are in the noons of our human gladness and earthly success, as when we are in our nights of pain and shadow. We may not see them in the brightness about us, but they are there, and their benedictions fall upon us as perpetually, in a gentle rain of grace."
(Heartwarming Bible Illustrations, QuickVerse 2010) From a sermon by Chris Surber, Like The Stars, 8/10/2010
THE SONG OF JESUS
One night while conducting an evangelistic meeting in the Salvation Army Citadel in Chicago, Booth Tucker preached on the sympathy of Jesus. After his message a man approached him and said, "If your wife had just died, like mine has, and your babies were crying for their mother who would never come back, you wouldn’t be saying what you’re saying."
Tragically, a few days later, Tucker’s wife was killed in a train wreck. Her body was brought to Chicago and carried to the same citadel for the funeral. After the service, the bereaved preacher looked down into the silent face of his wife and then turned to those attending. "The other day a man told me I wouldn’t speak of the s...
Sermon Central Staff
THE KEY TO THE SPIRITUAL LIFE
At age 16, Madame Jeanne Guyon (1648-1717) was forced into an arranged marriage with an invalid 22 years older. She found her marriage to be one of utter humiliation. Her husband was often angry and melancholy. Her mother-in-law was a merciless critic. Even the maid despised her. In spite of her best attempts at devotion to her husband and family, she was subjected to relentless criticism.
Forbidden by her husband to attend church, she sought God in His Word and worshiped Him in secret. She learned that even in the midst of her dreary circumstances she was "perfectly fine--within the safe hands of God." In her book Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ, she wrote, "Abandonment [to Christ] is the key to the fathomless depths. Abandonment is the key to the spiritual life."
How can we respond to difficult circumstances with acceptance and abandonment? Mary's response to the angel in Luke 1: 38 shows us. The only way to have that same attitude is to believe that God's will is "good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12: 2), and to lay down our will and patiently submit to Him day by day.
(From a sermon by Ajai Prakash, In The Safe Hands of God, 12/22/2010)
Do not become deceived by the world with the Top Down Attitude management style in your leadership instead be servant leaders.
a. Use the leadership style that Jesus role modeled.
i. Finzel states, “When it comes to servant leadership there is no better model than that of Jesus Christ. On the night he was betrayed, Jesus showed His followers just how much he loved them. We read John chapter 13, verse 1 and he ‘knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of His love.’ At that point Jesus begins to give his final and ultimate demonstration of servant leadership: he washes the disciples feet” (30)!
b. Quote from Finzel: Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make
i. He states, “The top-down approach to leadership is based on the military model of barking orders to weak underlings. It goes something like this: ‘I’m in charge here, and the s...
STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN TALKS ABOUT HIS TRAGEDY
Two months after the tragic accident that claimed the life of his five-year-old daughter Maria Sue, Steven Curtis Chapman appeared with his wife and three oldest children on CNN’s "Larry King Live" Aug. 7 to testify to the solid hope believers have in Christ.
One of the most pressing questions King wanted to ask was whether Chapman lost his faith at any point during the ordeal. "You know, at that moment, I’ve got to say, Larry, I mean it was--I was crying out to my--to my Father," Chapman said. "I was crying out to the guy that I know as my Heavenly Father."
Chapman told about a discovery he made in the hours after the accident that has provided comfort in the days since. "Maria had the morning of the accident drawn a picture of a flower and had written a word that she had never written before. She knew how to write her name, that was all I had ever seen, and maybe ’I love Dad’ or ’I love Mom,’" Chapman said. "But she had never written any other words. And when she first died, Caleb and I especially kept saying if we could just see, if we could just have a dream--something, God--we’d believe it. If we could just see something that would tell us that she’s OK.
"And the day after the accident, we went home to get some clothes for the funeral, for the memorial," he said. "Sitting on the art table was this little ...