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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)
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...
The Hebrew writer wrestled with that question too: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6). Recently I had telephoned my mother to tell her that I was going to be having a "colonoscopy" at the end of the month to be precautious about some symptoms that I was having. Within days I learned that my brother Chris was having some terrible symptoms that the Doctor thought might be Lupus. He is still undergoing tests this week as I write this article. On Saturday, as I spoke with my mother, she began to cry. I responded by saying, "Mother, its going to be alright". Through tears of a mother who lost one son nearly 27 years ago, she said "But now I have to worry about both my boys". I responded immediately "Mother, you don’t have to worry about me, I’m in God’s hands". And this is true! I have no fear, I have faith. Should I be facing illness, or should the Surgeon report to me that all is well, I am living by faith. I am trusting in the sweet assurance of the things that I have only hoped for, because the reality of Jesus Christ, is the way by which we must walk. (note: My brother’s symptoms all went away, and my colonoscopy results were great!)
Though I pray that I live many more years, I do hope that when that day comes somehow the words that Paul wrote to Timothy will be the reassurance of my life: "As for me, I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Tim 4:6-8). Now how did Paul write such eloquent words? Because he had "Faith!". "And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Sampson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouth of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to fight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again...Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and chains of imprionsonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword..." (Hebrews 11:32-37) So how much more faith should we have, who have heard for ourselves about Jesus the Christ?
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 ...
IF I SURVIVE, I'LL BE OK
John Ortberg tells the story of going to a dude ranch in Arizona at the instance of his wife who felt the vacation was not complete without "the exhilaration of a truly challenging horseback ride." (His exact words.)
The first time he went out at the ranch, he did so with no trouble and thought that he had tamed the art of riding a horse. However, the next day he and five of the trail hands took a herd of horses on a three-mile trip out to pasture.
As he went to the stable to get his horse, he thought about the name of his horse. Would it be 'Stout' or 'King' or 'Knight?' No, oh no. The name of his horse was 'Reverse.' It was called 'Reverse' because he had the habit of going in reverse when you pulled on his reins.
The trip out to the pasture was uneventful. The trip back to ranch and stable was not. One of the hands decided to start a race back to the stable.
Here, in Ortberg's own words is the rest of the story: "His [one of the five ranch hands] horse took off at full gallop and the other four immediately started racing to catch up with him. Reverse started to make his move. Instinctively, I pulled on the reins as hard as I could. Reverse rose up on his hind legs and took a few steps backward--just as Silver used to do under the Lone Ranger--and then took off like a bat out of... a cannon.
For the better part of a mile, Reverse ran a dead heat (the word dead sticks in my mind). We were not sauntering or trotting--this was an all out sprinting as in a scene from a movie... Reverse and I passed four of them. I say "Reverse and I, " but the truth is, he was doing most of the work. I was waiting to die... Exodus 15:1 came to mind, "I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea."
(Source: John Ortberg, If You Want to Walk On Water, You Have Got To Get Out of the Boat. © 2001, Zondervan)
Ortberg goes on to say that he begins to realize that he is probably going to survive this high-speed romp through the Arizona desert and he then begins to enjoy the ride and safely finishes the race back to the ranch.
Sermon Central Staff
LOVE ME FIRST, THEN WITNESS TO ME
In our lesson we have seen that faith without works is useless. It cannot be demonstrated, it cannot change a person, it is not perfected, and it is dead! Our faith does not help us, or others, until it causes us to act.
Once a chaplain walked up to a wounded soldier who had been lying on the ground some time without anyone treating his wounds.
The chaplain asked, "Would you like for me to read to you from the Bible?" "No!" came the angry reply. "Is there anything else I can do for you?" the chaplain asked.
"I'm thirsty!" the soldier said. The chaplain gave him a drink from his own canteen.
"Anything else?" he asked. "I'm cold!" came the reply. The chaplain took off his coat and spread it over the soldier.
"Anything else?" he again asked. "My head is uncomfortable!" was his reply. The chaplain took off his cap and arranged it under the soldier's head.
The chaplin asked again, "Anything else?"
The soldier looked up at him and tears came to his eyes as he said, "I think now I'd like for you to read to me from the Bible."
(From a sermon by John Wright, Abraham's Faithful Work, 2/1/2010)
An old Scotsman operated a little rowboat for transporting passengers. One day a passenger noticed that the 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 this. The old man, being a well balanced Christian and glad of the opportunity for testimony, said, “I will show you.” So, he dropped the oar named “faith” and pulled the other called “works.” They went around in circles. Then he dropped the oar named “works”and began to pull the oar called “faith”, and the little boat went around in circles again---this time the other direction, but still in a circle. After this demonstration the old man picked up Faith and Works, and pulling both oars together, sped swiftly over the water, explaining to his inquiring passengers, “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. (Illustration 1492 in Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations. edited by Paul Lee Tan)
From Leland Patrick’s Sermon: Understanding Faith
“A Boulder With Your Name On It!” Numbers 13:25-29 Key verse(s) 27:“They gave Moses this account: ‘We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But . . .”
Sometimes the things that we are able to do surprise even ourselves. Have you ever had the experience of accomplishing something that you thought you would have a very difficult if not impossible time doing and then, do it? The feeling is utter exhilaration. The first thing that you want to do is to look around to see if anyone saw you do it. “Did you see that? Did you see what I did? I just can’t believe that I could do that. I’ve been trying to do that for years and now, well, I’ve done it!”
A number of years ago I was putting in wash posts for my wife. We had just moved into Beech Springs and this was one of the duties right at the top of my list. “Need wash posts!” My father-in-law had been kind enough to make a set of welded steel posts that we had used for a number of years at our previous home. They traveled with me to our new house because no one makes things like my father-in-law. They would stand the test of time and, when the Lord comes to call us home, they might be one of the last elements to concede destruction under the fires of heaven. As I was scouting the side yard for a likely place into which the posts could be restored, I discovered to my dismay that there was but one place that would get enough sunlight and was open to the breeze; and that site had a huge boulder smack dab in the middle of it. Having the aid of both pry bar and a medium size diesel tractor with a front-end loader, I figured that, although it would take some time and sweat, eventually I would be able to budge the rock and move it elsewhere with the bucket of the loader. Unfortunately, the more I dug around it, the more of it I revealed. Like a giant iceberg, the bulk of it lay below the ground, concealed and stubbornly refusing to budge. My first thought was that although the site was perfect for my wife’s wash posts, there just had to be another one somewhere that was better. I really didn’t think that I would be able to move that boulder. But, as I soon discovered, God had put it there several thousand years ago with my name on it and, since there is no use trying to circumvent Him, I went back to work.
Several hours later, sweaty and tired, I had uncovered a very large erratic boulder. I am not sure what it weighed but suffice to say it would not relent to the pry bar. Eventually, after several more hours of digging, I was able to cut a channel below the rock through which I was able to slip a very sturdy chain. Connected to the bucket of the diesel loader, I hoped that in the very least I would be able to turn it enough so that I might be able to get the lip of the bucket under it and pry it out of the hole. I started the tractor and gently hit the hydraulics that controlled the bucket. It strained and groaned as the steel arms and bucket strained under the sheer weight of the rock. Finally the rock turned in the hole and I had my chance. Detaching the chain I positioned the bucket in the hole, crossed my fingers and pushed on the hydraulics. The rock moved and then it moved again. Finally, after about a half hour’s coaxing, it rolled out of the hole. Now all I had to do was get the bucket under it, lift it a few inches above the turf and move it out into the woods. Again, creaking and groaning all the way, rear tires sometimes leaving the ground due to all the up-front weight, the boulder with my name on it found a new home about a hundred feet away. When it dropped from the bucket there was both a sense of relief and unbelief. The rock that couldn’t be moved, had been moved.
That rock moved not merely because of the pry bar and the diesel (although it wouldn’t have moved without them). It moved because of the ha...
The words, "Not by sight but by faith" adorn the walls of Billy Blanks training center -- a testament to his faith in Christ to overcome many obstacles. "Faith without works is dead" -- is another scripture which adorns the training center walls. "I was the one who wasn’t going to be someone," Billy says. Billy is the fourth of 15 children born to Isaac & Mabelline Blanks. His father was a steel foundry worker by day and drove a garbage truck at night. His mother was a homemaker. They were a poor but hard-working couple from Erie, Pennsylvania.
Billy says his parents raised him with love and discipline. "Not a day goes by that I don’t recall my father telling me, ‘Billy, you have to work hard for everything.’" Billy had a hard time academically. He struggled with dyslexia, a condition not diagnosed until he was 37 years old. Additionally he was born with an anomaly in his hip joints that would impair his movement, and a clumsiness that earned him the taunts of his siblings and caused his coaches to believe he’d never accomplish much.
Billy found his answer to these challenges in karate. At age 12 he saw martial arts great Bruce Lee on TV and decided he wanted to be a world martial-arts champion. The discipline of the program began to transform his body. In 1975 he became the first Amateur Athletic Union champion, a title he won five times. By age 16, he had earned a black belt in karate and went on to earn a spot on the U.S. Karate team which won 36 gold medals in international competition -- becoming the captain in 1980. His hopes of Olympic glory were dashed when President Carter announced a U.S. boycott of the games in Moscow.
After teaching children for many years, in 1988 Billy moved his family to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. He found a job in security, and soon landed a job as bodyguard to Catherine Bach who starred on "The Dukes of Hazzard." While guarding her on location in the Philippines in 1989, Billy was cast in his first movie role.
He went on to land parts in over 28 films. It was during this time in his life that Billy committed his life to the Lord.
As his competitive karate career slowed down, Billy stayed dedicated to physical fitness. It was while training in his basement gym that he began to combine his karate moves with dance music to create his innovative exercise technique, which he named Tae-bo. Billy is an active member of Crenshaw Christian Center. He normally goes to his fitness center every day except for Sunday when he attends church, and on Tuesday night when he’s at Bible study.
"You have it within your power to overcome almost any obstacle and achieve any dream," says Billy, who trains disabled people in addition to a long list of Hollywood celebrities. "All you need to do is believe in yourself and find the way to ‘Walk with faith and not sight.’"
Have you ever thought of peace as a defensive measure? Peace is the nucleus of your and my spirit, is the entryway of our inner private thoughts, always defending, safeguarding us and permitting us to have tranquility in midst of hardship. You say, "Pastor Paul, does that mean that I can have peace in my life even when I’m going through a dreadful moment, regardless of my inward distress?" I’m saying that’s exactly the peace that we’re speaking about biblically this morning.
This morning in this service I can see a precious couple here that has been through the mill during this past summer with a daughter who has been plagued with cancer, undergoing treatment and not knowing the outcome until recently. This passed week they have had to experience the passing of very close family members due to an accident. They wonder, “When will all these awful things that is plaguing our family come to an end? We need some peace, Lord!”
I can see a lady that is very active with her family, the individuals here in this church and at the work place, that she and other family members were injured by a drunk driver in an accident while far away from home. Then following that she has had to undergo treatment for a racing infection of a joint in her body and is now home still administering antibiotics to herself through a pick line. She wonders, “Why me, Lord? Why am I the one who deserves this mistreatment? Isn’t there anyone else more deserving who is disobedient to Your Word and teachings? When will I have enough peace in my life to move on?”
I can see a great man of faith being worn down by antagonizing back pain to the point at times he wonders if he is going to be able to move. Presently he is subjecting himself to spinal injections just in order to find some relief. And he wonders, “Is this really going to work like the doctor says it will? Lord, as the Great Physician, please bring me enough peace amid the pain to cope with my day-to-day living.”
I can see one of our elderly ladies weakening before my eyes. She is a woman of great faith and has been a very active soul in the life of this church. It has even come to the point that she has reluctantly considered backing out of a few things. Also, she has become a deep concern of her spouse of many years who also is no longer able to be as active as he used to as well. I am sure the two of them wonder, “After all we have been faithful to you and your kingdom. Isn’t there any way that our golden years can be that of your peace in our souls and a strengthening of our physical well-being?”
I can see one individual who actually does not know the activities or the exact whereabouts of a drug addicted, prodigal daughter. Wondering everyday whether or not the next phone call she gets is going to be the good news that her daughter is headed home to seek rehabilitation for her disease or the worst news she could ever hear, her daughter is dead. Mom wonders, “When will she finally understand who Jesus really is and give her life to You? That’s the only place that I know she will find real inner peace.”
I can see a man who has had to deal a number of years with pain and loss of ability to keep up his stamina. He has had to take excessive amounts of prescribed medication just to cope with all the stress his physical body entails. He now realizes that part of his life is missing due to some of these medications. He is a man who truthfully wants to be a great part of his family, but feels robbed of that due to his physical condition and emotional stability. After visiting and talking with him I know that he often wonders, “What about all these emotions I am feeling, God? Can I make it without the medications I’ve been dependent upon for years? All I seek is just a little peace and comfort in my life; will that ever come to be?”
I can see another lady in our midst today that has the knowledge that her place of employment is closing. Not only that, she like many other women of this church is a widow and trying to keep her home. Even though she has accepted the inevitable, I know she still has to wonder, “Okay, I’ve been able to make it this far with Your help, God. But, what about next week, next month and next year, Lord? Will I be able to have the peace that all things will work out for my best and Your glory?”
I know of families that are in the midst of strife and discontent where personal problems have magnified into marital malfunction or in the crux of things driving family members apart. They wonder, “Can’t we just get along and find some peace once again?”
I visit in the home of a man that barely can get about his home due to arthritis. Being crippled by this dreadful disease of the joints and boney tissue of the body he still maneuvers as best as he can to fix his own meals and do what chores he can. Yet, from hearing him speak to me, I know he often wonders, “Where will I be tomorrow, Lord? Will I still be here at home or am I finally going to have to give in and return to that nursing facility to have a peaceful existence?”
I can see a number of widows that have experienced the loss of her mate. I know that many of you struggle day-to-day with loneliness, being able to make ends meet and not knowing if your family will always be in the area to care for you. I often wonder, “Are they able to know that they are not alone, that they know that someone is watching over them and that He will never leave nor forsake them and that He will always be sure that their well-being is of great importance to Him? Please God, will You grant them Your peace in their minds, souls and hearts.”
Now I’m trying to share with you about a peace that transcends the human mind. I’m doing my best, with a God-given ability, to articulate about a peace that is beyond the grasp and the contact of humanity. I’m attempting to confer that the peace that God gives is one that the world cannot remove from its place or strip away or pilfer. I’m speaking, this morning, about a peace that only God can give. It’s a peace that will ultimately change any person’s life! Including yours and mine!