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Why would God go to all the trouble to endure our bad choices and our flagrant sinning in order to have relationship with us? Hear the story of the lost son from the modern setting as told by Philip Yancey in his book What’s so Amazing about Grace.
Yancey tells the story of a prodigal daughter who grows up in Traverse City, Michigan. Disgusted with her old fashioned parents who overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, the length of her skirts, she runs away. She ends up in Detroit where she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. The man with the big car – she calls him “Boss” – recognizes that since she’s underage, men would pay premium for her. So she goes to work for him. Things are good for a while. Life is good. But she gets sick for a few days, and it amazes her how quickly the boss turns mean. Before she knows it, she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, and all the money goes to support her drug habit.
One night while sleeping on the metal grates of the city, she began to feel less like a woman of the world and more like a little girl. She begins to whimper. “God, why did I leave. My dog back home eats better than I do now.” She knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to go home. Three straight calls home get three straight connections with the answering machine. Finally she leaves a message. “Mom, dad, its me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, I‘ll understand.” During the seven hour bus ride, she’s preparing a speech for her father. And when the bus comes to a stop in the Traverse City station, the driver announces the fifteen-minute stop. Fifteen minutes to decide her life.
She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect. But not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepares her for what she sees. There in the bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of forty brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and a great-grandmother to boot. They’re all wearing goofy party hats and blowing noise-makers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads – Welcome Home!
Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She stares out through the tears quivering in her eyes and begins her memorized speech. He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. We’ll be late. A big party is waiting for you at home.”
A striking Christmas card was once published with the title "If Christ Had Not Come". It was founded upon our Savior’s words "If I had not come." The card represented a pastor’s falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come. In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out to the street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Savior had disappeared. The doorbell rang and a messenger asked the preacher to visit his poor, dying mother. He hastened with the weeping child, and as he reached the home he sat down and said, "I have something here that will comfort you." He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended with Malachi. There was no Gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair. Two days later he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service. There was no message of consolation, no hope of heaven. What a terrible dream What a terrifying nightmare How much worse are those who know Christ came yet live as though he did not.
"Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." This charge could be summarized by saying, "If Jesus is coming back, what’s taking Him so long?"
This is a question that has been asked not only by skeptics, but by believers who have assumed that Jesus would return very quickly. It seems that some of Jesus’ contemporaries thought He would return within their lifetimes.
That idea has been with us throughout history, it seems. Christopher Columbus thought that his discoveries were part of God’s plan for the end times, since he followed Augustine in thinking that the world would come to an end 7,000 years after its beginning, which by the reckoning in Columbus’ time meant that there were only 155 years left!
Ignoring the Warnings.
Several years ago, a close frind gave me a old hand bill. It was one of thousands that were supposed be dropped over Japan before the first Atomic bombs were droped. One side was a picture of bombers dropping thier deadly cargo. The other side was in Japanese and the third section was an English translation.
The consequences for those who ignored these warnings were devestating. How more tragice will it be for those who Ignore Gods warnings?
The translation follows:
"ATTENTION JAPANESE PEOPLE
Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, the military installations of some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. . We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So," in accordance with America’s well-known, Humanitarian policies, the American Airforce which does not wish to injure innocent people now gives"you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives.
America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military cliq...
Sermon Central Staff
FASTER AND FASTER
Does anyone here know who "Million Dollar Bill" is? If you guessed Bill Gates, then you would be wrong. Another nickname is "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville." In the year 1987, at Talladega Motor Speedway, Bill Elliot set the fastest recorded speed for a qualifying lap at 212.809 mph. This was the fastest miles per hour recorded for qualifying in a NASCAR event. The cars ran so fast that they literally began to lift off the speedway, creating a major safety issue. The speeds were so fast, and they really could not handle the cars.
NASCAR would implement the restrictor plate. If you are not a race fan, or not a car person at all, here is what a restrictor plate does: The device limits the power output of the engine, therefore slowing the acceleration and the overall speed. The horsepower of these machines is phenomenal. In 2004, Rusty Wallace tested a car at Talladega Super Speedway without a restrictor plate, and reached a top speed of 228 mph in the backstretch, and had a one lap average of 221 mph. Wallace would describe the experience as "out of control," and he also said that "there is no way that we could race at those speeds." The restrictor plates have slowed the cars’ speeds significantly, and they now average around 187 mph- still very fast for most of us.
But is it really? We all seem to be going faster and faster, until we actually find out--as Rusty Wallace said-- that we are out of control. The things that we are doing are no longer fun, and have become extremely dangerous.
We have become a society of "I want it now." I mean, look back, say 25-30 years. The cell phone was straight out of Dick Tracy comics, or the Jetsons’ TV phones to see the person on the other end. A computer was something that no one needed. But now, something that used to take up a city block will fit in your shirt pocket, and you can access the world from about anywhere at any time. The speed of things today is more than most of us can imagine. If there was a contest for the most popular virtue, I guess that "fast" would beat "best." Many parts of the world seem to be obsessed with speed- but the fast craze is getting us nowhere, fast.
In Carl Honore’s book, "In Praise of Slowness," he says, "The time has come to challenge our obsession with doing everything more quickly. Speed is not always the best policy."
According to the Bible, he’s right. Peter warns that in the last days, people would doubt God because he is slow, "Slack," in fulfilling his promise to return.
(From a sermon by Ricky Hurst, Patience- Stop and Smell the Roses, 5/31/2011)
If we are to be truly born again, one of the first things we have to do is to acknowledge our weakness and our helplessness. We cannot sustain a spiritual life by ourselves. If we are to grow spiritually, we must learn to rely on God and trust him to provide all that we need for spiritual growth.
"It is not enough to say ’Thy Kingdom Come’. Each day we should move some pebble from its pathway." -F.B. Meyer
IF I BELIEVED...
An atheist once told William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, "If I believed what you Christians say you believe about a coming judgment and that impenitent rejecters of Christ will be lost, I would crawl on my bare knees on crushed glass all over London, warning men, night and day, to f...
Sermon Central Staff
Of the many stories this summer on the environment, one that has continued to draw attention is the story of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit. The interaction and hiding of findings of the unit became known as "Climategate." The Oxburgh Inquiry was supposed to review the scientific work of the research unit. The Inquiry examined a short list of papers chosen by the university itself, it held no hearings, only interviewed CRU scientists, took no evidence from critics, kept no notes of interviews, released a five-page report after only three weeks of work, then destroyed all its records. When it later emerged that CRU scientists admitted that their work was far more uncertain than was previously acknowledged, Ronald Oxburgh was asked why he did not report this. He replied that "the science was not the subject of our study."
(From a sermon by Matthew Kratz, The Signs of Divine Judgment, 7/24/2010)
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UNBELIEVERS AT THE SECOND COMING
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great Victorian preacher, said in a sermon entitled ‘Secret sins’ preached in 1857: "When Christ comes a second time, there will be a marvellous change in the way men talk. Me thinks I see him; there he sits upon his throne. Now, Caiaphas, come and condemn him now! Judas! Come and kiss him now! What do you stick at man? Are you afraid of him? Now, Barabbas, go! See whether they prefer you to Christ now. Swearer, now is your time; you have been a bold man; curse him to his face now. Drunkard, stagger up to him now! Infidel, tell him to his face that there is no Christ now that the world is lit with lightning and the earth is shaken with thunder. Tell God there is no God now; now laugh at the Bible, now scoff at the minister. Why, men, what is the matter with you? Why can’t you do it? Ah! There you are: you have fled to the hills and to the rocks. ‘Rocks hide us! Mountains fall on us! Hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne.’ ‘Ah! Where are now your boasts, your vaunting, and your glories? Alas! Alas! For you in that dread day of wonders!’
(C. H. Spurgeon, The New Park Street Pulpit 1857, Pilgrim Publishers, 1975, p. 80. From a sermon by Matthew Kratz, The Signs of Divine Judgment, 7/24/2010)