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YOU’RE GOING TO PLAY BASEBALL THIS SUMMER
Joshua 14:12, James 2:26
A little boy named Jimmy was about 13 years old. He grew up with his brother in a very poor family not too far from downtown. Their dad was very sick and could not work. They had food to eat every morning and evening, but he and his brother wore jeans with holes in their knees. Both boys had paper routes so that they could have some lunch money at school.
One day in early spring, Jimmy’s dad called him into his room. “Son,” he said, “your mother and I have been saving up money all year so that you can play on a baseball team. I just wanted you to know that you’re going to play baseball this summer.”
Jimmy jumped to his feet and hugged his dad. He could hardly believe it. But, he knew that playing baseball cost a lot of money. He needed baseball shoes and a glove. He knew that his dad couldn’t afford all of that. He couldn’t believe that his dad had the money for the signup fee. But he knew his dad said that he would get to play baseball this summer. It was all too wonderful.
Jimmy immediately ran to the neighbors to see if he could cut their lawns and sweep their driveways. It didn’t take too long for him to have enough money to buy some cleats. So he went to the store and came home with a brand new pair of baseball cleats. He tried them on to show his dad. He was so excited.
Next, he saw a baseball glove at the corner drug store and began to work and save his money for that. It wasn’t long until he had it. Now he could begin practicing.
Every day after school, he threw an old tennis ball he had found against the side of the garage so he could practice being a baseball player. He thought he could be a pitcher so he drew a square on the garage wall out of chalk and began throwing the tennis ball at the square.
Soon he could put the ball in the square every time. Finally, the day came for signups. He and his dad walked down to the park and waited in line. The boy looked at all the coaches and wondered who would pick him to be on their team. He was the happiest boy at the sign ups. He loved his dad.
That was the last time Jimmy’s dad would take him to the park. Right after signups, he got extremely ill. He would lie in bed and wait for Jimmy to get home after every game so he could hear all about it. Right after baseball season ended that summer, Jimmy’s dad died. He never got to see him play in one game. But Jimmy never forgot about the day his dad told him, “This summer you’re going to play baseball.”
Because his dad told him that, Jimmy believed it. He trusted his dad. Then he worked hard toward what his dad had told him. Finally, he received what was promised.
Jimmy played baseball that summer. Later on, he played in high school and college.
Faith and works. James 2:26 in action.
ANGELS OF RECONCILIATION
With his life in disarray, Steven Lavaggi sat on his bedroom’s wooden floor, and began searching his Bible for answers. His wife had just left him to marry a writer for The Rolling Stone Magazine. Ten days later, Steven discovered his son was stricken with Juvenile Diabetes. Then he lost his graphic art business. Unemployed, abandoned, and worrying about his son, Lavaggi turned to God’s Word.
As Steven read, he skipped over the black letters, only wanting to read the words of Jesus. The Risen Christ emerged from the pages. Lavaggi gave his life to Jesus. As a new Christian, he clung to Psalm 91:11: "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways."
Out of his brokenness, came a passion to create a message of hope. He discovered his passion was to minister through fine art. He moved to California, to influence the people who influence the world--Hollywood. He is doing just that.
The response to his work is overwhelming. Inspired by the Psalmist’s words he painted an angel. When a friend encouraged him to make the image three dimensional, he collaborated with a sculptor, and together they cast the angel.
While speaking to a crowd of 3500 natives in Soweto, South Africa, Lavaggi held a 20" sculpture of a black angel above his head. When he did, the crowd erupted with enthusiasm. A man on the stage told him that just a few days before, a preacher had declared that God would soon send an international artist who would express the love of God to their culture by doing something like "painting Angels in black!" When Lavaggi heard this, he grabbed a 20" white angel, held it above his head and said, "these angels were created to be like brothers and sisters, even as we are supposed to be." Those sculptures became known as, "The Angels of Reconciliation."
Today, he is known as the artist of Hope. It propelled him into creating an incredible series of spirit-inspired paintings, sculptures, figurines, and prints. Steven’s message would not exist without his passion! Through his passion, today he is touching and changing the world fopr Jesus Christ.
Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again -- until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.
William Booth in The Founder’s Messages to Soldiers, Christianity Today, October 5, 1992, p. 48.
SERVICE REQUIRES ACTION
A man fell into a pit and couldn’t get himself out.
A subjective person came along and said, "I feel for you down there."
An objective person walked by and said, "It’s logical that someone would fall down there."
A Pharisee said, "Only bad people fall into pits."
A mathematician calculated how deep the pit was.
A news reporter wanted the exclusive story on the pit.
An IRS agent asked if he was paying taxes on the pit.
A self-pitying person said, "You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my pit."
A fire-and-brimstone preacher said, "You deserve your pit."
A Christian Scientist observed, "The pit is just in your mind."
A psychologist noted, "Your mother and father are to blame for your being in that pit."
A self-esteem therapist said, "Believe in yourself and you can get out of that p...
Sermon Central Staff
When DAVE THOMAS died in early 2002, he left behind more than just thousands of Wendy’s restaurants. He also left a legacy of being a practical, hard-working man who was respected for his down-to-earth values.
Among the pieces of good advice that have outlived the smiling entrepreneur is his view of what Christians should be doing with their lives. Thomas, who as a youngster was influenced for Christ by his grandmother, said that believers should be "roll-up-your-shirt sleeves" Christians.
In his book Well Done, Thomas said, "Roll-up-your-shirtsleeves Christians see Christianity as faith and action. They still make the time to talk with God through prayer, study Scripture with devotion, be super-active in their church and take their ministry to others to spread the Good Word." He went onto say they are "anonymous people who are doing good for Christ may be doing even more good than all the well-known Christians in the world."
That statement has more meat in it than a Wendy’s triple burger. Thomas knew ab out hard work in the restaurant business; and he knew it is vital in the spiritual world also.
Let’s Roll-up-our-shirt sleeves, there is plenty to do.
(Source: Dave Branon, Our Daily Bread. From a sermon by Dennis Davidson, Authentic Faith Works, 10/26/2009)
Sermon Central Staff
PULLING ON BOTH OARS
An old Scotsman operated a little rowboat for transporting passengers. One day a passenger noticed that the good old man had carved on one oar the word "Faith" and on the other oar the word "Works." Curiosity led him to ask the meaning of these oars. The old man, being a well-balanced Christian and glad for the opportunity to testify said, "I will show you."
Then he dropped one oar and plied the other called Works, and they just went around in circles. Then he dropped that oar and began to ply the oar called Faith, and the little boat just went around in circles again - this time the other way around, but still in a circle.
After this demonstration the old man picked up Faith and Works, and plying both oars together, sped swiftly over the water, explaining to his inquiring passenger. "You see, that is the way it is in the Christian life. Dead works without faith are useless, and faith without works is dead also, getting you nowhere. But faith and works pulling together make for safety, progress, and blessing."
(From a sermon by Dennis Davidson, Authentic Faith Works, 10/26/2009)
R. Kent Hughes, in his book, James—Faith That Works, shares this story.
"It is said that Napoleon, while looking at some papers, let slip the bridle of his horse, which reared so that the Emperor was in danger. A corporal of the grenadiers leaped forward and caught the bridle, bringing the horse under control. Napoleon saluted the corporal and said, “Thank you, Captain.” “Of what company, Sire?” asked the corporal. “Of my guards,” replied Napoleon. The young corporal picked up his musket, hurled it aside, and walked across the field toward the emperor’s staff, tearing of his corporal stripes as he went. When he took his place among the officers, they asked him what he was doing. He replied that he was a captain of the guards. “By whose order?” queried one of them. “The Emperor’s order,” he replied. A man of less faith might have picked up his musket, stepped back into the ranks, and boasted for the rest of his life that Napoleon had called him a captain. This describes the difference between mental assent and true faith, which takes God at His word and acts upon it"(Hughes, p. 120).
An old Scotsman operated a little rowboat for transporting passengers. One day one of the passengers noticed that the good old man had carved on one oar the word "Faith," and on the other oar "Works." Curiosity led him to ask the meaning of this. The old man being a well-balanced Christian and glad of the opportunity for testimony, said, "I will show you." So saying, he dropped one oar and plied the other called Works, and they just went around in circles. Then he dropped that oar and plied with the one called Faith, and the little boat went around in circles again---this time the other way around, but still in a circle. After this demonstration the old man picked up Faith and Works, and plying both oars together, sped swiftly over the water, explaining to his inquiring passenger, "You see that is the way it is in the Christian life. Dead works without faith ...
When I was in Bible College I meet an interesting young man by the name of Shannon. What made him interesting were his looks. His hair was a different color each week, his ears were loaded with earrings, and he wore the big loose grunge style clothing. But the most interesting point of style was his shorts, and he always wore shorts regardless of the weather. What made his shorts so odd was the way he wore them. You see he always wore his shorts backwards. As you could imagine anyone who dressed like that at a Bible College stuck out like a sore thumb. One day I couldn’t stand it any longer and my judgmental sarcasm got the best of me and I had to make a crack about his shorts. To my surprise he was ready for my criticism. Shannon turned to me and said, “I’ll tell you Grand Saline (that’s what everyone called be in this certain class) just like I tell everyone else who ask me why I wear my shorts backwards. I tell them that God turned my life around so fast that my shorts couldn’t keep up. Something interesting happened as that semester progressed I began to see through Shannon’s actions, class participation, research papers and prayers that he was a very spiritual man. My initial reaction to Shannon was on of rejection, but when I saw past my bias to his heart, my rejection soon turned to respect.
A young boy was sitting on the front row watching a ventriloquist perform with his dummy on his lap. Interacting with the boy, the dummy proceeded to ask the boy questions and talk with him. Thinking that the boy had found a new friend, he approached the dummy after the show to ask him to come over and play. The ventriloquist continued to decline the boy’s requests until the boy became frustrated. Responding to the boy, the ventriloquist said, "Well, he doesn’t DO anything, he just talks." Faith without works is dead...