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Sermon Central Staff
GOD MADE HIMSELF UNDERSTANDABLE
I read of a story from the famous Danish philosopher from the mid 1800s, a Christian theologian named Soren Kierkegaard. It is a familiar story, a story rewritten by many over the ages in many different forms, yet it is still relevant today. Here’s what he wrote:
A prince wanted to find a maiden suitable to be his queen. One day while running an errand in the local village for his father, he passed through a poor section. As he glanced out the windows of the carriage, his eyes fell upon a beautiful peasant maiden. During the ensuing days he often passed by the young lady and soon fell in love.
But he had a problem. How would he seek her hand? He could order her to marry him. But even a prince wants his bride to marry him freely and voluntarily and not through coercion. He could put on his most splendid uniform and drive up to her front door in a carriage drawn by six horses. But if he did this he would never be certain that the maiden loved him or was simply overwhelmed with all of the splendor.
The prince came up with another solution. He would give up his kingly robe. He moved, into the village, entering not with a crown but in the garb of a peasant. He lived among the people, shared their interests and concerns, and talked their language. In time the maiden grew to love him, because of who he was and because he loved her first.
This very simple, almost childlike story is what John is describing here--God came and lived among us. He had to reveal Himself to us in an understandable way, and this is precisely what Jesus did--became flesh just like you and me. He made Himself understandable.
(From a sermon by Rich Anderson, Love Came Down At Christmas, 12/16/2010)
Bishop Lalachan Abraham
SHOW US GOD
The Greek philosopher Socrates made this statement: "Oh that someone would arise, man or god, to show us God." In the minds of scholars, here's one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived; and yet he, himself, had beating in his own breast--and he admitted it--oh that god could come in a man and show the world god in human form.
Plato, who was one of the great students of Socrates, said, "Unless a god man comes to us and reveals to us the Supreme Being, there is no help or hope."
If you give a street drunk a bottle of expensive alcohol, he will appreciate it the same as he would a cheap bottle of booze. Why? He does not know what he has. Likewise, whoever eats and drinks the Lord’s Supper in ignorance, fails to enjoy the true richness of what she is consuming!
There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance.
He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note.
The note read: "pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need". Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find. Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed. Now the note also said: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveller.” The man refilled the jug and added to the note: “ Please prime the pump, believe me it works”!
We have the same choice to make...
Sermon Central Staff
I once read about a certain Mr. Wahlstrom who purchased an old bombsight and took it apart to see what made it work. As he began to put it back together, he decided to add to it some spare parts he had from other projects. Over time, friends and neighbors took an interest in the matter and started bringing him parts and pieces, which he incorporated into his contraption. Over a period of about ten years, he added to his machine hundreds of wheels and cogs, belts and whistles and gears and who knows what all until the thing became "a marvel to behold." He would throw the switch, and the machine’s thousand parts would begin to move. Wheels turned, lights flashed, bells rang, and belts whirred. The device came to be known as "Wahlstrom’s Wonder." It was incredible. The only thing is: It didn’t do anything! It just went through the motions. (Gene Bartlett, The Audacity of Preaching, 1962, pp. 64f.).
It makes you wonder: Is that what we’re doing? Are we just go through the motions? The church has been commissioned by Jesus himself to make disciples, but do we do that?
(From a sermon by Isaac Butterworth, Showing Up at the Gym, 12/17/2010)
There was a art contest held in a local school one Christmas season a few years ago in East Texas. One of the prize winners was a picture drawn by a nine year old boy showing three men, offering gifts to the baby Jesus in his manger. What made the picture unique is how the three gift presenters arrived – there was fire truck on the side of the picture.
The principle asked the boy about his decision to draw the truck and the boy, in his heavy East-Texas accent, was quick to reply: “Well, the Bible says the wise men came from a-far.”
A. Todd Coget
[How God’s Children Change, Citation: Craig Barnes, author and pastor of National Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C.; from sermon "The Blessed Trinity" (5-30-99)]
When I was a child, my minister father brought home a 12-year-old boy named Roger, whose parents had died from a drug overdose.
There was no one to care for Roger, so my folks decided they’d just raise him as if he were one of their own sons.
At first it was quite difficult for Roger to adjust to his new home—an environment free of heroine-addicted adults!
Every day, several times a day, I heard my parents saying to Roger:
"No, no. That’s not how we behave in this family."
"No, no. You don’t have to scream or fight or hurt other people to get what you want."
"No, no, Roger, we expect you to show respect in this family."
And in time Roger began to change.
Now, did Roger have to make all those changes in order to become a part of the family?
No. He was made a part of the family simply by the grace of my father.
But did he then have to do a lot of hard work because he was in the family?
You bet he did.
It was tough for him to change, and he had to work at it.
But he was motivated by gratitude for the incredible love he had received.
Do you have a lot of hard work to do now that the Spirit has adopted you into God’s family?
Certainly. But not in order to become a son or a daughter of the heavenly Father.
No, you make those changes because you are a son or daughter.
And every time you start to revert back to the old addictions to sin, the Holy Spirit will say to you, "No, no. That’s not how we act in this family."
History records for us an interesting footnote. It was during the dark winter of 1864. At Petersburg, Virginia, the Confederate army of Robert E. Lee faced the Union divisions of General Ulysses S. Grant. The war was now three and a half years old and the glorious charge had long since given way to the muck and mud of trench warfare. Late one evening one of Lee’s generals, Major General George Pickett, received word that his wife had given birth to a beautiful baby boy. Up and down the line the Southerners began building huge bonfires in celebration of the event. These fires did not go unnoticed in the Northern camps and soon a nervous Grant sent out a reconnaissance patrol to see what was going on. The scouts returned with the message that Pickett had had a son and these were celebratory fires. It so happened that Grant and Pickett had been contemporaries at West Point and knew one another well, so to honor the occasion Grant, too, ordered that bonfires should be built.
What a peculiar night it was. For miles on both sides of the lines fires burned. No shots fired. No yelling back and forth. No war fought. Only light, celebrating the birth of a child. But it didn’t last forever. Soon the fires burned down and once again the darkness took over. The darkness of the night and the darkness of war.
The good news of Chris...
Theologian Charles Hodge explained the relationship between divine grace and the human heart. “The doctrines of grace humble a man without degrading him and exalt him without inflating him.”
Most Christians believe the Virgin Birth is true. According to George Barna, 85% of those surveyed believe that Jesus Christ was born to a virgin. He also found that even 75% of the people who do not embrace Jesus as their Savior believe that he was born to a virgin. (Fresh Illustrations, http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)