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THE BEGINNING OF LEE

Lee, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and a self-professed atheist was sitting at his desk on Christmas Eve. A slow news day he found himself reminiscing about the Delgado family that he had featured while writing a series of articles about Chicago’s neediest people a few days earlier. The Delgado’s were comprised of a grandmother named Perfecta and her two granddaughters, Jenny age 13 and her sister Lydia 11 years old.

He remembered how unprepared he was when he walked into their two room apartment on the west side of Chicago for the interview; bare halls and bare walls, no furniture, no rugs, nothing but a kitchen table and a handful of rice in the cupboards. He learned during the interview that Jenny and Lydia only had one short-sleeved dress apiece, plus a thin gray sweater that they shared. On cold days when the girls walked the half-mile to school, one of the girls would start with the sweater and then give it to the other at the halfway mark. It was all they had. Perfecta wanted more for her granddaughters and would gladly have worked, but her severe arthritis and age made work too difficult and painful.

Since it was a slow news day Lee decided to check out a car and drive to Chicago’s west side to check up on the Delgado’s. When Jenny opened the door he couldn’t believe what he saw! His article on the Delgado’s had touched the hearts of many subscribers who responded with furniture and appliances, rugs, dozens of coats, scarves and gloves. The girls wouldn’t have to share a sweater any longer. There was cartons and cartons and boxes of food everywhere. They had so much food that the cupboards and closets couldn’t contain it. Someone had even donated a Christmas tree, and under it were mounds of presents and thousands of dollars in cash!

Lee was astonished! But what astonished him the most was what he found Perfecta and her granddaughters doing. They were preparing to give most of it away. "Why would you give so much of this away?" Lee asked. Perfecta responded, "Our neighbors are still in need. We cannot have plenty while they have nothing. This is what Jesus would want us to do." Lee was dumbfounded.

After regaining his composure he asked Perfecta another question. He wanted to know what she and the girls thought about the generosity that was shown to them. Again, Lee was not prepared for the answer. She said, "This is wonderful, this is very good." "We did nothing to deserve this; it’s all a gift from God. But," she added, "It is not his greatest gift, Lee. No, we celebrate that tomorrow. Jesus."

Lee was speechless as he drove back to the office. In the quiet of his car he noted a couple of observations. He had plenty and along with it plenty of anxiety, while the Delgado’s despite their poverty had peace. Lee had everything and yet wanted more, but the Delgado’s had nothing and yet knew generosity. Lee had everything and yet his life was as bare as the Delgado’s apartment prior to the article running. And yet the Delgado’s who had nothing were filled with hope, contentment and had a spiritual certainty. Even though Lee had so much more than the Delgado’s, he longed for what they had in their poverty.

(From a sermon by Bryan Fink "Christmas is for all the Lees/Leighs of the World" 12/25/2008)

 
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Matthew Kratz
 
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When Hugh Latimer was preaching one day in the presence of King Henry VIII, he reports that he said to himself, “Latimer! Latimer! Remember that the king is here; be careful what you say.” Then he said to himself, “Latimer! Latimer! Remember that the King of kings is here; be careful what you do not say.” For such unflinching faithfulness Latimer was eventually burned at the stake. But He feared failing God more than he feared offending men.

The faithful disciple values his soul immeasurably more than he values his body, and he will gladly sacrifice that which is only physical and corruptible for the sake of that which is spiritual and incorruptible.

 
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Doug Lyon
 
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Don’t divorce your unsaved husband or wife. Why? Paul gives this reason: The believer may have a positive, spiritual influence on their unbelieving mate. The unbeliever may get saved due to the believing spouse’s example and lifestyle. 1 Corinthians 7:14: “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” I think this is what Peter had in mind as well when he wrote these instructions in 1 Peter 3: “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

I think a perfect illustration of this is in the life of my in-laws—Harold and Dorothy Wills. When they got married, mom was a believer and dad was an unbeliever. And dad was content to stay married to mom so they never even considered divorce. Now, Dorothy was careful not to nag Harold with the gospel. She simply prayed for him, answered his questions about the Lord when he asked, and endeavored to live the Christian life in front of him. Finally, in 1987, after 48 years of marriage, at the age of 75, Harold Wills accepted the Lord as his Savior. And I’m convinced that my father-in-law is in heaven today because of the patient, faithful witness of his wife, Dorothy.

So let me encourage you. If you are married to an unbeliever and he or she is content to remain married to you, then don’t divorce. Share the gospel with your unsaved spouses. But don’t nag them with it. Rather, pray for them. And live an exemplary Christian life in front of them. Who knows? Maybe your example will eventually lead them to Christ.

 
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HUGE RESERVES

Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ tells this story of a famous oil field called Yates Pool:

During the depression this field was a sheep ranch owned by a man named Yates. Mr. Yates wasn’t able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch.
With little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on government subsidy.

Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills. Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract.

At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large. In fact, 30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day.

And Mr. Yates owned it all.
The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he’d been living on relief.
A multimillionaire living in poverty.
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REPENTANCE IN THE WHITE HOUSE

In 2001, Tim Goeglein started running the White House Office of Public Liaison, providing him almost daily access to then President George Bush for seven years. Then it all ended abruptly on February 29, 2008. A well-known blogger revealed the startling fact that 27 out of 39 of Goeglein's published articles had been plagiarized. By mid-afternoon the next day, Goeglein's career in the White House was over.

Goeglein, who admitted his guilt, said that this began "a personal crisis unequaled in my life, bringing great humiliation on my wife and children, my family, and my closest friends, including the President of the United States."

Goeglein was summoned to the White House to face the President. Once inside the Oval Office, Goeglein shut the door, turned to the President and said, "I owe you an..."

President Bush simply said: "Tim, you are forgiven."

Tim was speechless. He tried again: "But sir..."

The President interrupted him again, with a firm "Stop." Then President Bush added, "I have known grace and mercy in my life, and you are forgiven."

After a long talk, a healing process was launched for Goeglein, which included repentance, reflection, and spiritual growth. "Political power can lead to pride," Goeglein later reflected. "That was my sin. One hundred percent pride. But offering and receiving forgiveness is a different kind of strength. That's the kind of strength I want to develop now."

(Warren Cole Smith, "Wins & Losses," World magazine, 10-23-10, p. 11. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Love and Longing, 5/13/2011)

 
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Richard Tow
 
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CICADAS: SPIRITUALLY DEAD

I grew up in West Texas and there were a lot of Cicada insects. They’re not technically locusts but we called them that. During the hot summer days the loud, shrill sound that the males made would fill the air. You would usually see them in the trees. At times you would come across the lifeless shell they had shed. It was just an empty form of the living creature that had once been there. If you put the slightest pressure on that empty form it would crumble. That’s what I think of when I hear the phrase "a form of godliness." It bears some resemblance to the real thing. But there’s no life in it.

Is there a chance that spiritual decline in Israel’s history could repeat itself in Christian churches? Is there a chance today, that people could be faithfully going through a form of religion that bears resemblance to the real thing; but in reality is dead and lifeless?

 
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Rodelio Mallari
 
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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)

 
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In one of his meetings, D.L. Moody was explaining to his audience the truth that we cannot bring about spiritual changes in our lives by our own strength. He demonstrated the principal like this: “Tell me,” he said to his audience, “how can I get the air out of the tumbler I have in my hand?” One man said, “Suck it out with a pump.” But Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter it.” Finally after many suggestions, he picked up a pitcher and quietly filled the glass with water. “There,” he said, “all the air is n...

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There are two major bodies of water in the land where Jesus walked. One is the Sea of Galilee, a beautiful lake 13 miles long and 7 _ miles wide filled with fish and surrounded by lush foliage.

The other body of water is the Dead Sea, 50 miles long and 11 miles wide, the shoreline of which is 1300 feet below sea level. Seven million tons of water evaporate from the Dead Sea every day. The saline or salt content of the water of the Dead Sea ranges from 26-35%, making it 10 times saltier than the oceans of the world. There’s no seaweed or plants of any kind in or around the water. There are no fish or any kind of swimming, squirming creatures living in or near the water. As a matter of fact, what you’ll see on the shores of the Sea is white, crystals of salt covering EVERYTHING. According to extremescience.com, fish accidentally swimming into the waters from one of the several freshwater streams that feed the Sea are killed instantly, their bodies quickly coated with a preserving layer of salt crystals and then tossed onto shore by the wind and waves.

Both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are fed by the Jordan River There is really only one difference between these two bodies of water, really only one thing that causes the Sea of Galilee to be beautiful and alive while the Dead Sea is barren and lifeless. The Sea of Galilee has an outlet; the Dead Sea does not! Water flows through the Sea of Galilee. Water flows into the Dead Sea but not out!
Spiritual input but no spiritual output = Stagnation
If you and I have Spiritual input but no spiritual output, we will become stagnant, lifeless, bitter, and caustic.
From Johnny Creasong’s Sermon: You Are Free to Serve the Lord

 
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RUBY'S PRAYER

Ruby Hamilton, a businesswoman in her fifties, was stunned at the loss of her husband of 32 years in a car accident. Her anger and disappointment went deeper than a more typical expression of grief though. She had become a follower of Christ in her late twenties, but her husband didn't share her newfound interest in spiritual things. Nonetheless, she had set about praying for him feverishly and unceasingly that he would come to know the Lord. And one day when she was praying, she felt a wave of peace wash over her, and that still small voice assuring her that her husband would be okay. She eagerly awaited the day when her husband surrender his life to Jesus. And now this.

What do you do when faith doesn't make sense? When God doesn't seem to be answering or opening doors or being found? Ruby Hamilton stopped living for God.

Roger Simmons was hitchhiking his way home. He would never forget the date - May 7th. His heavy suitcase was making him tired and he was anxious to take off that army uniform once and for all. Flashing the thumb to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped.

The passenger door swung open. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. "Going home for keeps?"

"Sure am."

"Well, you're in luck if you're going to Chicago."

"Not quite that far - do you live in Chicago?"

"I have a business there, the driver said. My name is Hamilton."

They chatted for a while, and then Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to share his faith with this fiftyish, apparently successful business man. But he kept putting it off, till he realized that he was now just 30 minutes from his home. It was now or never.

"Mr. Hamilton, I would like to talk to you about something very important." Then he simply told Mr. Hamilton about the plan of salvation and ultimately asked him if he would like to receive Jesus as his savior and Lord.

The Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger expected that he was about to get thrown out of the car. Instead, the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger "This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me."

Five years went by. Roger married, had a couple of kids and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a trip to Chicago he found a small white business card that had been given to him by Hamilton five years previous. In Chicago, he looked up Hamilton enterprises. The receptionist told him that it was impossible to see Mr. Hamilton, but he could see Mrs. Hamilton. A little confused, he was ushered into a beautiful office where he found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties.

She extended her hand "You knew my husband?"

Roger told her about how Hamilton had picked him up while he was hitchhiking home after the war. "Can you tell me what day that was?"

"Sure it was May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army."

"Anything special about that day," she asked.

He hesitated, not knowing if he should mention how he shared the message of Jesus with her husband. "Mrs. Hamilton, I explained the gospel to your husband that day. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day."

Explosive sobs shook her body. Finally getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, "I had prayed for my husband's salvation for years. I believed God would save him."

"Where is your husband, Ruby?"

"He's dead. He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see, I thought God had not kept his promise. I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought God had not kept his word!"

(Considerable influence for this message came from John Piper's "The Spring of Persistent Public Love", DesiringGod.org. From a sermon by Bret Toman, Power to Live the Golden Rule, 1/3/2011)

 
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