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A Nation of Bible Illiterates
George Barna wrote The State of the Church in 2002. Barna conducted a survey of self-pronounced Christians and here’s what he found about their knowledge of the Bible. These are Christians.
• 48% could not name the four Gospels.
• 52% cannot identify more than two or three of Jesus’ disciples.
• 60% of American Christians can’t name even five of the 10 Commandments.
• 61% of American Christians think the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.
• 71% of American Christians think “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse.
George Barna said, "Americans revere the Bible, but by and large they don’t know what it says. And because they don’t know it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates."
Just as the people in this Barna poll are woefully biblical illiterate, Christians are far too ignorant of the Word of God. No wonder 21st century Christians are failing to finish their marathon race. No wonder Christians by the thousands are falling prey to the false teachers of our day. They are being feed junk food and don’t feed themselves on the Word of God. They are desperately in need of a solid diet of good food, Scripture. We need to get into "spiritual shape"!
Sermon Central Staff
AN UNUSUAL BAPTISM ON THE MISSION FIELD
Some time back, a retired missionary dropped by our church. She had served faithfully in Africa, and one day, she happened upon a small baptismal service. A fellow missionary took three new converts to the center of a shallow river, and dug a hole in the sand so there would be enough water for the baptism. Even then, the new believers were forced to sit in the sand so there would be enough water to cover them for the important ceremony.
The missionary telling the story saw what she'd expected. A few friends and family members gathered to watch, and the missionary in the river raised his hand, repeating familiar scriptures before baptizing the converts. When the first convert came up out of the water, he began an excited and joyful time of shouting. The quiet service was silent no more! The second convert did the same. The final convert also came up from the shallow water shouting for joy.
Afterwards, the missionary watching the process asked about the unusual tradition. Why all the shouting?
"I haven't been able to completely communicate in this tribe's language," said the younger missionary. "They heard the scripture I gave them, but they didn't understand the symbolic nature of it. When I told them that they would be "buried with him through baptism into death ... and raised to walk in the newness of life" (Romans 6:4) they actually thought baptism would kill them! We chuckled as we heard the story, until the missionary froze us with her gaze. "Let me ask you a question," she said. "If you thought baptism would kill you, would you be willing to get in the river?"
Following Jesus means we recognize the royal nature of the one we serve. Yes, he has saved us. Yes, he loves us and wants us in his royal family. But yes, he is King of Kings, and we owe him our very lives. There is no other appropriate response.
(From a sermon by Fred Markes, Fix Your Eyes Upon Jesus, He is King of Kings, 8/30/2011)
BELIEVING IN ANYTHING
G.K. Chesterton once said, "It is often supposed that when people stop believing in God, they believe in nothing.
Alas, it is worse than that. When they stop believing in God, they believe in anything."
Without God the only standard of TRUST - of right and wrong - is what appeals to you. And that's a shifting standard. It all depends on what I want, what I like, what I accept, what pleases me.
But scripture says: "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" My standards are all warped. My morality is riddled with impurity. And if I base what I TRUST on that warpedness/ impurity, then I'm going to embrace whatever gods allow me to do what I want to do.
It's insanity. When I stop trusting in the God of Scripture... I'll believe in anything, and eventually that will lead me to destruction.
But now, by contrast, if I trust in the God of Scripture I'm no longer led by MY righteousness and holiness. Instead I'm trusting a God who is so holy and so righteous that my tendency will be to build my life around Him (rather than Him around me).
I'll use His standards of right and wrong -- not mine.
I'll build on His morality in my life -- not mine.
I'll build on His expectations for me... not mine.
AND I know if I trust in Him in these matters... I will be blessed.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13:8
CYMBALA'S EASTER STORY
Jim Cymbala preaches at a church in the slums of New York. He tells the following story: It was Easter Sunday and I was so tired at the end of the day that I just went to the edge of the platform, pulled down my tie and sat down and draped my feet over the edge. It was a wonderful service with many people coming forward. The counselors were talking with these people.
As I was sitting there I looked up the middle aisle, and there in about the third row was a man who looked about fifty, disheveled, filthy. He looked up at me rather sheepishly, as if saying, “Could I talk to you?”
We have homeless people coming in all the time, asking for money or whatever. So as I sat there, I said to myself, though I am ashamed of it, “What a way to end a Sunday. I’ve had such a good time, preaching and ministering, and here’s a fellow probably wanting some money for more wine.”
He walked up. When he got within about five feet of me, I smelled a horrible smell like I’d never smelled in my life. It was so awful that when he got close, I would inhale by looking away, and then I’d talk to him, and then look away to inhale, because I couldn’t inhale facing him. I asked him, “What’s your name?”
“How long have you been on the street?”
“How old are you?”
“Thirty-two.” He looked fifty--hair matted; front teeth missing; wino; eyes slightly glazed.
“Where did you sleep last night, David?”
I keep in my back pocket a money clip that also holds some credit cards. I fumbled to pick one out thinking; I’ll give him some money. I won’t even get a volunteer. They are all busy talking with others. Usually we don’t give money to people. We take them to get something to eat.
I took the money out. David pushed his finger in front of me. He said, “I don’t want your money. I want this Jesus, the One you were talking about, because I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die on the street.”
I completely forgot about David, and I started to weep for myself. I was going to give a couple of dollars to someone God had sent to me. See how easy it is? I could make the excuse I was tired. There is no excuse. I was not seeing him the way God sees him. I was not feeling what God feels.
But oh, did that change! David just stood there. He didn’t know what was happening. I pleaded with God, “God, forgive me! Forgive me! Please forgive me. I am so sorry to represent You this way. I’m so sorry. Here I am with my message and my points, and You send somebody and I am not ready for it. Oh, God!”
Something came over me. Suddenly I started to weep deeper, and David began to weep. He fell against my chest as I was sitting there. He fell against my white shirt and tie, and I put my arms around him, and there we wept on each other. The smell of His person became a beautiful aroma. Here is what I thought the Lord made real to me: If you don’t love this smell, I...
Bernard Martin, writes the following story in his book If God Does Not Die.
One day a pastor was called from a children's party at the Sunday school to visit a young woman whose world had collapsed into an acute depression following the death of her husband in an auto accident. She had withdrawn from everyone and shut herself in her bedroom with the blinds pulled, and she didn't communicate with anyone, including her children, because she said they reminded her of her dead husband. The minister left the party in a show of confetti which the children had thrown at him. He brushed it out of his hair and from his coat as he prepared to call on the depressed woman.
When he arrived at the woman's house, he entered her darkened bedroom and told her who he was, but there was no response. He could faintly see her pitiful form lying motionless on the bed. He tried to carry on a conversation with her, but she was unresponsive. He reached out to touch her hand, but it lay lifeless in his. So he just sat with her in the dark silence for a time.
Then he decided to act. He wanted to see the woman face to face,
to read Scripture and pray. So he turned on the bedside lamp.
The woman blinked and stared at him blankly. As he took out his Testament which he carried in his handkerchief pocket of his jacket,
and opened it, confetti fell from it all over the bed. After an anxious and flustered moment, the minister burst into laughter.
And that did it. First a smile appeared on the woman's face, and then she broke into quiet laughter. She reached out her hands to the minister in the joy of resurrection. They prayed together and she left her darkness to return to the light.
When the wise men come to Jesus, they bring three gifts: Gold, which is the gift for royalty, a gift for a king. Incense, which was for divinity, a gift you give a God. And myrrh, which is a funeral gift, a gift used for burial. Their gifts show amazing insight.
At first hearing, you might think these gifts were a lucky coincidence. They’re not. God set up the events of Christmas in such a way that you would know that He was carefully orchestrating each element of it, years in advance. Nine months before Christmas, God sent an angel to tell Joseph and Mary about the birth of His Son. Christmas night, God sent angels to communicate with shepherds about the birth of His Son. Hundreds of years before Christmas, God sent a holy man – Daniel – to the eastern peoples to prepare their highest caste, their wise men, (court advisors to the king) to respond to the birth of His Son. God communicated to the wise men that the Messiah would be king and God, and that He would come to die. Through a combination of Daniel’s leadership, Hebrew Scripture, and the tailor-made revelation of a star, these wise men knew as much or more about the nature of the Messiah as the Jewish people.
The Thirst for Water
Prop: (1) A bottle of water (2) an outline of the human body (3) a bottle of water to give to each child.
Hello everybody! It’s good to see you this week. Please pardon me while I set here and drink my water. Yum! This is good water! I sure wish you had some because it is sooooo good … and important too.
Did you know that you have to drink water if your want to live? If you do not drink enough water your body will go into a drought (we call it dehydration) and you will die.
Did you know you can live for weeks without food, but only days without water? Next to oxygen, water is the most important element that you can give your body.
Did you know that most of your body is made up of water? We think it is mostly skin or bone but its really water.
Look at this outline of the human body for a second. Did you know that when you were a baby in your mother’s womb that you were almost 93% water!? That would be this much of your body.
And now you are still at least 80% water. That is at least this much of your body.
You see your body is mostly water. That is why you get thirsty very easily because you body does not want to quit working and it must have water to work right.
Yep, your body lets you know when you are about to go into a drought (dehydration) by asking your for something to drink (thirst).
The same is true spiritually too. If we are ever going to be spiritually healthy we need to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus calls himself “the water of life.” Listen to what he says:
John 7:37-39 (portions): "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
People all over the world are spiritually thirsty. They are trying all sorts of things to make them happy but the only thing that will really satisfy them is a friendship with Jesus. Jesus says whenever we are friends with Him he will satisfy that thirst in the heart. I hope you will ask Jesus to be your friend and to quench your spiritual thirst.
Before you leave I want to give you something – a bottle of water. You can drink it after church whenever your parents say its okay. But when you do I want you to think about how important it is to your body and how important Jesus is to you inner self. Okay? Let’s pray.
This sermon is provided by Dr. Kenneth Pell
Potsdam (New York) Church of the Nazarene
HE WAS HEALED
Tony Campolo tells a story about being in a church in Oregon where he was asked to pray for a man who had cancer. Campolo prayed boldly for the man’s healing.
That next week he got a telephone call from the man’s wife. She said, "You prayed for my husband. He had cancer." Campolo thought when he heard her use the past tense verb that his cancer had been eradicated! But before he could think much about it she said, "He died." Compolo felt terrible.
But she continued, "Don’t feel bad. When he came into that church that Sunday he was filled with anger. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God. He was 58 years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up. He was angry that this all-powerful God didn’t take away his sickness and heal him. He would lie in bed and curse God. The more his anger grew towards God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him. It was an awful thing to be in his presence.
But the lady told Compolo, "After you prayed for him, a peace had come over him and a joy had come into him. Tony, the last three days have been the be...
THE HEART IN SCRIPTURE
Heart is used in Scripture as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is the part of our being where we desire, deliberate, and decide. It has been described as "the place of conscious and decisive spiritual activity," "the comprehensive term for a person as a whole; his feelings, desires, passions, thought, understanding and will," and "the center of a person. The place to which God turns."
(Fan The Flame, J. Stowell, Moody, 1986, p. 13 — 10,000 Sermon Illustrations)
Holman Bible dictionary states the HEART is the center of the physical, mental, and spiritual life of humans. This contrasts to the normal use of kardia ("heart") in Greek literature outside the Scriptures. The New Testament follows the Old Testament usage when referring to the human heart in that it gives kardia a wider range of meaning than it was generally accustomed to have.