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Sermon Central Staff
THE DANGER OF SPIRITUAL PROCRASTINATION
There is a fable which tells of three apprentice devils who were coming to this earth to finish their apprenticeship. They were talking to Satan, the chief of the devils, about their plans to tempt and to ruin men. The first said, "I will tell them that there is no God."
Satan said, "That will not delude many, for they know that there is a God."
The second said, "I will tell men that there is no hell."
Satan answered, "You will deceive no one that way; men know even now that there is a hell for sin."
The third said, "I will tell men that there is no hurry."
"Go," said Satan, "and you will ruin men by the thousands."
The most dangerous of all delusions is that there is plenty of time.
(William Barclay: The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 2 [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], p. 317. From a sermon by Matthew Kratz, The parable of the Faithful & Wise Servant, 7/17/2010)
W.H. Griffith Thomas scourged Christians this way, “There is no greater foe to Christianity than mere profession. There is no greater discredit to Christianity today than to stand up for it, and yet not live it in our lives. There is no greater danger in the Christian world today than to stand up for the Bible, and yet to deny that Bible by the very way we defend it. There is no greater hindrance to Christianity today than to contend for orthodoxy, whatever the orthodoxy may be, and to deny it by the censoriousness, the hardness, the unattractiveness with which we champion our cause. Oh this power of personal testimony ?with the heart filled with the love of Christ, the mind saturated with the teaching of Christ, the conscience sensitive to the law of Christ, the whole nature aglow with grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.?(Listening to tthe Giants, 149-50, Warren Wiersbe, Baker 1980)
“Linchpin for Disaster!” Romans 13: 8-14 Key verse(s): 13: “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.”
In the recent heavy rains that struck the state this past spring, of chief concern were the numerous earthen dams that dot the state and its many waterways. Would they hold? Some of these dams were constructed decades ago; some even before that. Most were designed with what the engineers at the time knew to be the average tolerances of earth to the pressure of water as measured by peak water levels at the site as well as the expected peak pressure of the water levels in the area. In essence, there is little way to adequately insure that every dam will be constructed to withstand that once in a century storm that brings once in a century peak water levels. This fact was brought out rather vividly when a nearby earthen dam began to fail and the local media began to pay attention to the possibility of a disastrous flood. Their coverage included press interviews with Department of Natural Resources engineers and representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Since many of these dams were built by the army in the course of the last fifty to sixty years, attention was focused in particular on what the army engineers had to say. In the weeks that followed and the rain continued to fall, one interview after another appeared in the local media. Most focused on the need for careful observation and the even more pressing need to be prepared if the dam was breached. Since the object of their advice was not to panic anyone but to simply prepare them for what might happen, one engineer after another appraised the situation cautiously, always underscoring that the dam had been constructed with heavy rains and flooding in mind. Then, one day, I heard an interview on a local radio station that gave me pause. It was an interview with a retired corps engineer who had been involved in the construction of the dam in the first place. He said something very interesting and very inciteful. When asked about the method by which the dam had been constructed and how integral he felt that the dam was then and would be now, he replied. “It was built to last but there is no telling where there might be just that one stone, that one stone, out of place within its mass that had been misplaced by but an inch. In that case, the whole system might be resting on one stone destined to move ever so slightly when a certain pressure is reached. That movement, however slight, might cause a breach within seconds.”
A “Linchpin for disaster”. That is what some have called jealousy. On the surface a small thing, hidden away within the dark recesses of the human spirit, jealousy should never be underestimated for its potential to cause not only difficulty but major trouble.
Dr. George Sweeting once estimated that "more than a fourth of the Bible is predictive prophecy...Both the Old and New Testaments are full of promises about the return of Jesus Christ. Over 1800 references appear in the O.T., and seventeen O.T. books give prominence to this theme. Of the 260 chapters in the N.T., there are more than 300 references to the Lord’s return--one out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 N.T. books refer to this great event...For every prophe...
Dr. Bruce Emmert
God has given us all a sweet spot—in fact, Paul says that God has given us the gift of a sweet spot so that we could serve God and produce the maximum result and maximum satisfaction both for God and for us. Mark McGwire said, “When I feel the ball hit right on the sweet spot, a home run is just around the corner.” I believe that when we serve Jesus from our spiritual sweet spot, a spiritual home run is just around the corner. Paul calls that we have a sweet spot, a spiritual gift—a special talent or ability that God has supernaturally given us so that we can produce the maximum result in making a world of difference in our community and around the globe and experience the maximum satisfaction.
ILL. Are you familiar with Bill Cosby’s book, "Time Flies"? In it, Cosby says that something happens to you when you turn 50 years old.
When his father turned 50, Cosby says that for the first time he remembers noticing his father’s "love handles," those rolls of fat which develop around your waist sometime during middle age. Cosby attributes them to the force of gravity. He can remember seeing those "love handles" on his father, & promising himself that he would never develop such "love handles."
He also remembers his father grunting & groaning every time he sat down, & every time he got up. Bill Cosby promised himself that he would never grunt & groan unless he was carrying a football & was crossing over the goal line on a football field.
But back in 1987, when Bill Cosby turned 50, suddenly his dad’s "love handles" transferred over to him, & became "hate handles" instead of "love handles." And he found himself making weird sounds every time he sat down & got up, too.
He also observed that when you begin to get old your eyesight changes. Describing the time he put on his first pair of tri-focal glasses, he said, "I put on my tri-focals, & in the top lens the door-knob appeared to be 100 yards away. In the middle lens it looked like it was 50 yards away. In the lower lens it looked like I had already walked past it." He said, "I jammed my thumb 3 times reaching for that door knob."
He has the same problem many have. He can see quite well at a distance, but not up close. People who are far-sighted & who use their glasses only for reading are often losing them because they don’t wear them all the time.
Cosby relates that once he lost his glasses. He searched for them in dresser drawers, between the cushions of the couch, all over the place. He couldn’t find them anywhere. Until, suddenly, he happened to see himself in the mirror, & there they were, on top of his head.
APPL. You see, as time passes, things change. Our eyesight changes. Our hearing changes. Our whole physical make-up changes, & we begin to realize just how fast life is flying by.
Richard Foster has said that “The Disciplines are best exercised in the midst of our relationships with our husband or wife, our brothers and sisters, our friends and neighbors” (Celebration of Discipline, 1).
Nicky Gumbel tells us of a man who sent a check to the government for back taxes with a note attached that said:
“I felt so guilty for cheating on my taxes I had to send you t...
Charles Leber, a Presbyterian missionary, was in Westphalia, Germany at a clinic for handicapped children. A wealthy businessman came to tour the facilities and said to the doctor, “These are very pathetic children. What ratio of cures do you get? How many go back to normal life?” “About 1 in 100.” “1 in 100! It’s not worth it.”
“Yes it is. If that one was your child it would be worth it.” (Bruce Larson, commentary on Luke, p. 78.)
Sermon Central Staff
A thirty-four-year-old German woman named Anna Rosmus recently told the tragic story of what happened in her hometown in Germany during World War II. Speaking at Carson-Newman College in Tennessee, she told of growing up in Passau, Germany, years after the war. As a teenager, she wrote a school essay about the postcard beauty of her hometown. The town is located near the Austrian border in Bavaria. The essay won her a national award.
The following year, on a similar school project, Anna decided to write about her hometown during World War II. She wanted to write about the stories she had heard about how bravely her town resisted the Nazis, fought against them, and rejected the political machine of Hitler.
What she discovered shocked her and the world. She found in old newspaper clippings that not only did many people in her town sympathize with the Nazis, but they actively worked and collaborated with them. She later found that eight slave labor camps were begun in and around her hometown. The camps were used by the Nazis to work Jewish prisoners to death. Instead of using gas, the Nazis killed thousands by working and starving them. Prisoners were forced to dig their own graves.
Then she learned something even more horrible. As American soldiers were entering her town on May 2, 1945, many of the townspeople were pouring gasoline on defenseless Russian Jews, strapping them to railroad tracks, and setting them on fire.
What were the churches doing during this time? Anna Rosmus stated that the swastika was on daily display in the churches in her town. The churches obeyed and supported the Nazi movement because of the biblical teaching that all authority is given from God and must be obeyed (Romans 13:1-2).
By wrapping itself in the German flag, the church lost its prophetic voice and its soul. It failed to read Revelation 13, which exhorts believers to resist governments which become evil and satanic. Civil religion .... the marriage of church and state .... always makes the church a loser.
Because Anna Rosmus found and told this story, she has been treated with contempt in her native land. She has been knocked down in restaurants. She has even received numerous death threats.
Like Anna Rosmus, we have a story to tell. Even churches have a story to share. Do we share it?
(From a sermon by Bob Joyce, What’s Your Story? 11/10/2010)