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Illustration: At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like the president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn’t really know Him. But later on when I recognized this Higher Power, It seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that God was in the back helping me pedal. I don’t know just when it was that he suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since—life with my Higher Power, that is. God makes life exciting! But when He took the lead, it was all I could do to hang on! He knew delightful paths, up mountains and through rocky places—and at breakneck speeds. Even though it looked like madness, he said, “Pedal!” I worried and was anxious and asked, “Where are you taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into adventure. When I’d say, “I’m scared,” He’d lean back and touch my hand. He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance, and joy. They gave me their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, God’s and mine. And we were off again. He said, “Give the gifts away; they’re extra baggage, too much weight.” So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and our burden became light. At first I did not trust Him in control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it. But He knows bike secrets—knows how to make it lean to take sharp corners, dodge large rocks, and speed through scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places. I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant Companion. And when I’m sure I just can’t do any more, He just smiles and says, “Pedal!”
James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 247-248.
Sermon Central Staff
THE AUTHORITY OF THE BELIEVER
In Santa Cruz there's a strip called Pacific Avenue, and there's a number of bars. And I remember walking down Pacific Avenue, and it was getting a little rowdy. And there was two or three very burly guys in kinda tight T-shirts that looked like they could kill you, and were very tall, very large. And if they weren't on steroids, then they were pumping a lot of iron and doing all kinda other stuff. And they looked like -- boy, I would not mess with these guys. And there was a bouncer there who was trying to get things under control, and they were drunk and they were getting pretty, really out of control, and so they called the police.
And so I just happened to be walking by, and these things were happening, and a police car pulls up, and I'm thinking -- you know, I'm human -- "I'd like to watch this and see what happens, you know?"
So I kinda get over here like this and, you know, see how this is gonna play out. And -- so help me -- door opens and, ladies, I don't mean this is in any, like, sexist way at all. But, you know, this guy's trying to handle these big, burly guys. The door closes and about a 4'11" police officer who's a female steps out. And I'm thinking to myself, "If I was the guy trying to get these big, burly drunk guys under control," I was, like, hoping for, like, a 6'5" weightlifting police officer, not a 4'11" woman.
And so I thought, "I'm gonna kinda watch how this whole thing plays out," and I could've not been more wrong, 'cause, you know, the issue is not your size or your strength. The issue is your authority and your power. Watch this carefully. I watched this happen.
This very confident 4'11" officer walks out. "Gentlemen, do we have a problem here?"
"No, we're good here. Get outta here."
"Excuse me" -- and she had this badge on right here -- "I'm authorized by Santa Cruz County to enforce the law. I'd like both of you to know that -- understand right now -- over against the car. Do you understand?" And they both started to balk a little bit, and she put her hand on her revolver. It was a .45.
And you know what? I've never seen two big, strong drunk guys get sober so fast, and it was like, "I think she might use it, you know." And pretty soon I get this 4'11" little gal and two guys, you know, like this, and she's going boom, boom, boom, boom, "Spread 'em out."
You know why? She has a badge that has a position of authority that says "I have all right and authority vested in me to exercise that. You must do what I say. And if there's any problem with that, I have some power on my leg that can enforce it immediately."
You are a child of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Your badge is your position in Christ. And you have on your side the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. And demons must believe and obey and respond to the authority of every child of God who takes the Word of God and shoots the bullets of God to the specific issues. And you don't have to be strong or spiritual or go to seminary or know a whole lot. What you have to do is claim who you are and act on what is true, and they must obey.
(From a sermon by Chip Ingram, How to Do Battle With the Enemy and Win, 6/11/2010)
If a man is filled with anger, than anger controls his life.
If a man is filled with greed, then greed dominates his life.
If a man is filled with lust, then lust governs his life.
If a man is filled with love, then love influences all he does.
And if a man is filled with the Holy Spirit, he is controlled by the Spirit - it is, if you will, "control by consent."
John Wesley provides the most convicting analysis on what it means to be a true servant: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.”
A wealthy man once called his faithful assistant into his office and said, “I’ve put you name in my will, and you will get $10,000 when I die. As it may be some time before you get that legacy, I want to make you happy by paying you each year the legal interest on that amount. Here is a check for $600 as a starter.” The clerk was doubly gratified. The prospect of the inheritance was good news, and the money he received in advance assured him of the reality of his joyous hope for the future.
Malcolm, a man with a terrible temper, was playing a round of golf with his pastor. After leaving three straight putts on the edge of the cup, Malcolm exploded. "I missed!" he screamed. "How could I miss?" With that he heaved his putter into a nearby lake, kicked a wheel on the golf cart and drove his fist into a nearby tree.
Pastor was shocked. "I have never seen such a terrible display of anger," he said to the poor man. "Don’t you know that God doesn’t like it when we are angry? I have heard that there are angels whose one assignment is to search out people who express their anger so ferociously and to send lightning bolts from heaven to burn them to a crisp."
Malcolm was embarrassed. Heeding the warning of Pastor, on the next few holes, he managed to control himself. However, on the last three holes his putting failed him again. When the last putt veered off to the right just in front of the hole, Malcolm went crazy. "I missed!" he screamed. "How could I miss?" He broke his club across his knee and threw it as far as he could, he kicked up several large clumps of dirt on the edge of the green, and once more drove his fist into a nearby tree.
Suddenly the sky grew dark as an ominous cloud passed over. There was a clap of thunder and an awesome burst of lightning-and the pastor was burned to a crisp!
An eerie silence filled the golf course. All that could be heard was a quiet voice from heaven: "I missed! How could I miss?"’
Contributed by David Lansdown
When my mother used to make jam, I would watch her pour wax over the top of the preserves until it was at the brim of the jar. She would then carefully wipe some wax around the rim itself, and place the rubber lined lid on tight. The wax and the vacuum caused by the cooling preserves would seal that jar so tight that it could have sat on a basement shelf for years, and the jam would have been good when finally opened. Sealed, preserved, protected.
In our house, the dust didn’t have time to gather on those jars; but they could have lasted a long time if necessary.
Paul, under the inspiration of this same Holy Spirit of God, has written to us that after listening to the message of truth, the good news of our salvation - HAVING ALSO BELIEVED, we were sealed in Him (Christ) by the Holy Spirit of promise”.
A seal of God’ ownership was placed over our lives, and unlike Pilate’s seal, no power in Heaven or earth can break that seal...a seal that DOES mean a great deal to God. He shut us up tightly. We are set aside for His use...for His eternal fellowship. Preserved, protected until the day of the redemption of our bodies (or glorification).
Perhaps Daniel Defoe gave us some good advice through his fictitious character Robinson Crusoe. The first thing that Crusoe did when he found himself on a deserted island was to make out a list. On one side of the list he wrote down all his problems. On the other side of the list he wrote down all of his blessings. On one side he wrote: I do not have any clothes. On the other side he wrote: But it’s warm and I don’t really need any. On one side he wrote: All of the provisions were lost. On the other side he
wrote: But there’s plenty of fresh fruit and water on the island. And on down the list he went. In this fashion he discovered that for every negative aspect about his situation, there was a positive aspect, something to be thankful for. It is easy to find ourselves on a...
Jeannette George tells a story about an experience she had on a short flight from Tucson to Phoenix. Across the aisle from her sat a young woman and her baby, both dressed in white pinafores. The baby had a little pink bow where there would eventually be hair. The mother was smiling, as the baby kept saying "Dada, Dada," every time someone walked down the aisle.
The mother said Daddy was waiting for them after they had been gone for a few days. She was so adorable – quiet – that all passengers enjoyed watching her.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of turbulence, making the flight extremely rough, which of course was hard on the baby. But the mother had some fruit and a little Thermos with orange juice in it. Every time the baby cried the mother fed her a little bit more orange juice and a little more fruit.
While this seemed like a good idea at the time, the turbulence seemed to spread from the air around the plane right down to that baby’s gastro-intestinal system, and pretty much all of the fruit that had gone down came up.
However, the process of coming up was considerably messier than the process of going down had been. It also seemed to have increased in volume tremendously between the going down and the coming up, so that not only were the baby and the mother pretty much covered in it, but so were most of the passengers within a significant radius of the baby, including Jeanette George, who was telling the story.
Fortunately for the mortified mother, all of the passengers were gracious and tried to help her and tell her it was OK. After all what could she do about it?? The baby was crying, and she looked awful. Even though they didn’t cry, her fellow passengers looked – and smelled – pretty awful, too. The mother was so sorry about it.
As soon as they landed, the baby was fine and returned to calling: "Dada, Dada." The rest of the passengers didn’t recover quite so quickly, being covered as they were in pre-digested fruit. Ms. George said, “I had on a suit, and I was trying to decide whether to burn it or just cut off the sleeve. It was really bad.”
Waiting for the plane was a young man who had to be “Dada.” He was wearing white slacks, a white shirt, and he carried white flowers. Now what do you think that clean Daddy all dressed in white did when he saw his baby who had that sticky, smelly stuff all over her clothes and her face and her hair?
He ran to the young mother, who handed the baby over pretty quickly so she could go get cleaned up. That Daddy picked up that baby, and he hugged her and he kissed her and he stroked her hair. As he held her close, he said, "Daddy’s baby’s come home. Daddy’s baby’s come home."
All the way to the luggage claim area, he never stopped kissing that baby and welcoming her back home.
Ms. George thought, Where did I ever get the idea that my Father God is less loving than a young daddy in white slacks and white shirt with white flowers in his hand? [Jeannette Clift George, "Belonging and Becoming," Preaching Today, Tape No. 93.]
Jeff Calendar’s three year old daugh-
ter along with the rest of her family
was observed opening Christmas packages.
As is often the case, Jeff’s wife had
recycled some bows from previous times,
and their daughter grabbed one and then
placed it on top of her head. The old
tape left on it caused it to stick to
her hair. That sight caused everyone to
begin laughing which excited her. In
the midst of their laughter, she cried,
"Look, I’m a present!" [And, in the
end, aren’t we all? On the otherhand,
are we ’a present’ worth keeping and
using in the Kingdom of God?]