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Mike Breaux, when he was the Sr. Pastor at Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY, made this point in a dramatic fashion. On the day he was to preach on the very text we’re studying, from James 2, Mike dressed up as a destitute bag lady and entered the Church service just as it began. He was dressed in such a fashion that no one was able to recognize him. He had put on several layers of old, sweaty clothing including a dress, and then put on a straw hat that he pulled down over his face. He stumbled into the service carrying numerous bags, his odor was not pleasant and he sat down in the middle of the auditorium. Now, Southland is a great church but on that day no-one spoke to him as the bag lady. In fact, several cast disgusting glances his way, and some actually got up and moved several seats away from him. When it came time for the sermon there was an awkward silence because nobody knew where Mike was. But all of sudden the bag lady got up and walked toward the platform. When he got to the pulpit he slowly began to take off his garments revealing who he was. The congregation sat in uncomfortable silence. And then Mike said, "Would you please listen as I read James 2:1-4?"
I recall a story about a man who had to cross a wide river on the ice. He was afraid it might be too thin, so he began to crawl on his hand and knees in great terror. He thought he might fall through at any moment. Just as he neared the opposite shore, all exhausted, another man glided past him nonchalantly sitting on a sled loaded with pig iron.
How like some Christians! Headed for Heaven, they tremble at every step lest the divine promises break under their feet. By resting completely upon Him and taking His promises at face value, we can drive out the paralyzing fear that hinders our effectiveness in serving Christ.
Sermon Central Staff
When DAVE THOMAS died in early 2002, he left behind more than just thousands of Wendy’s restaurants. He also left a legacy of being a practical, hard-working man who was respected for his down-to-earth values.
Among the pieces of good advice that have outlived the smiling entrepreneur is his view of what Christians should be doing with their lives. Thomas, who as a youngster was influenced for Christ by his grandmother, said that believers should be "roll-up-your-shirt sleeves" Christians.
In his book Well Done, Thomas said, "Roll-up-your-shirtsleeves Christians see Christianity as faith and action. They still make the time to talk with God through prayer, study Scripture with devotion, be super-active in their church and take their ministry to others to spread the Good Word." He went onto say they are "anonymous people who are doing good for Christ may be doing even more good than all the well-known Christians in the world."
That statement has more meat in it than a Wendy’s triple burger. Thomas knew ab out hard work in the restaurant business; and he knew it is vital in the spiritual world also.
Let’s Roll-up-our-shirt sleeves, there is plenty to do.
(Source: Dave Branon, Our Daily Bread. From a sermon by Dennis Davidson, Authentic Faith Works, 10/26/2009)
A LIGHT NAMED AL
On the morning of September 11, Jeannie Braca switched on the television to check the weather report, only to hear that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center.
Jeannie’s husband, Al, worked as a corporate bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. His office was on the 105th floor of Tower One.
Al had survived the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and had even helped a woman with asthma escape from the building.
Jeannie knew that Al would do the same thing this time, “I knew he would stop to help and minister to people,” she said, “but I never thought for a minute that he wouldn’t be coming home!”
A week later, like so many others who were in that building, Al’s body was found in the rubble. Al’s wife, Jeannie, and his son Christopher were devastated!
Then the reports began to trickle in from friends and acquaintances. Some people on the 105th floor had made a last call or sent a final e-mail to loved ones saying that a man was leading people in prayer.
A few referred to Al by name.
Al’s family learned that Al had indeed been ministering to people during the attack! When Al realized that they were all trapped in the building and would not be able to escape, Al shared the gospel with a group of 50 co-workers and led them in prayer.
This news came as no surprise to Al’s wife, Jeannie.
For years, she and Al had been praying for the salvation of these men and women. According to Jeannie, Al hated his job and couldn’t stand the environment. It was a world so out of touch with his Christian values, but he wouldn’t quit.
Al was convinced that God wanted him to stay there, to be a light in the darkness, and although Al would not have put it this way, to be a hero!
Al was not ashamed of Christ and Christ’s words…and he paid the price of taking up his cross daily. Al shared his faith with his co-workers….many of whom sarcastically nicknamed him “The Rev.”
And on that fateful day…on September 11, in the midst of the chaos, Al’s co-workers looked to him—-and...
"Earlier that same year, 1885, three Christian boys had shed their blood for Christ in Uganda. The king had ordered the arrest of these page boys in an effort to stamp out Christianity. The eldest was fifteen and the youngest was eleven-year-old Yusufu. They held fast their faith and staked their lives on it, though people were weeping and their parents were pleading with them. At the place of execution they sent a message to the king: ‘Tell his majesty that he has put our bodies in the fire, but we won’t be long in the fire. Soon we shall be with Jesus, which is much better. But ask him to repent and change his mind, or he will land in a place of eternal fire and desolation.’ They sang a song which is now well loved in Uganda as the ‘martyr’s song.’ One verse says, ‘O that I had wings like the angels. I would fly away and be with Jesus!’ Little Yusufu said, ‘Please don’t cut off my arms. I will not struggle in the fire that takes me to Jesus!’ Forty adults came to Jesus the day the boys died. This was a new kind of life, which fire and torture could not control. We have a memorial near Kampala where these youngsters are remembered as the first Christian martyrs of Uganda. By 1887, the end of the first decade of the church, hundreds had died. There were martyrs out of every village that had believers. They were only beginners, they knew little theology, and some could barely read, but they had fallen in love with Jesus Christ. Life had taken on a completely new meaning. The value of living and of living eternally had been discovered. They were not hugging their lives, but ready to give them for Jesus. During these dangerous days, there was an immediate and steady increase in the number of those embracing Christ."
“Ken Walker writes in Christian Reader that in the 1995 college football season 6-foot-2-inch, 280-pound Clay Shiver, who played center for the Florida State Seminoles, was regarded as one of the best in the nation. In fact, one magazine wanted to name him to their preseason All-American football team. But that was a problem, because the magazine was Playboy, and Clay Shiver is a dedicated Christian.”
“Shiver and the team chaplain suspected that Playboy would select him, and so he had time to prepare his response. Shiver knew well what a boon this could be for his career. Being chosen for this All-American team meant that sportswriters regarded him as the best in the nation at his position. Such publicity never hurts athletes who aspire to the pros and to multimillion dollar contracts.”
“But Shiver had higher values and priorities. When informed that Playboy had made their selection, Clay Shiver simply said, ‘No thanks.’ That’s right, he flatly turned down the honor. ‘Clay didn’t want to embarrass his mother and grandmother by appearing in the magazine or giving old high school friends an excuse to buy that issue,’ writes Walker. Shiver further explained by quoting Luke 12:48: ‘To whom much is given, of him much is required.’”
“I don’t want to let anyone down,” said Shiver, “and number one on that list is God” (Larson, p. 53).
An official of a Mission Board, who knew that it takes more than desire to make a missionary, was appointed to examine a candidate. He told the young man to come to his house at 6 in the morning. The young man went at 6 in the morning to be examined, and the examiner kept him sitting in the room until ten. Then he went down to him and said abruptly, “Can you spell? Can you spell God?” “Yes, sir,” came the answer calmly. “Can you write your name? Do you know what your name is?” “Yes, sir,” again he replied. He put him through a series of questions of that kind, and then went to the Missionary Board and said, “He will do. I tried his patience for four hours, and he did not break down: I then insulted him, and he did not lose his temper. He will do.” That is the way to prove Christianity. If a man answers all abuses with patience, a fortitude, a gentleness that cannot be violated, depend upon it, Christ’s love has conquered his heart, and the Christianity that has made him what he is vindicated by the very quality of his character. Such a Christian causes men to say, “Well, after all, you’ve got to say something for a religion that produces a man like that.”
THE MOST IMPORTANT FREEDOM
Patrick Henry was a famous statesman and orator of colonial Virginia. In 1764 he was elected to the House of Burgesses where he became a champion of the frontier people, supporting their rights against the arrogant exercise of power by the aristocracy.
In 1774 he was a delegate to the First Continental Congress. In 1775, before the Virginia Provincial Convention, which was deeply divided between those who supported England and those who desired freedom, he uttered his most famous words, "Give me liberty or give me death!"
During the Revolutionary War he became commander-in-chief of Virginia’s military forces, a member of the Second Continental Congress, helped draw up the first constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and was largely responsible for drawing up the ammendments to our Constitution known as the Bill of Rights.
He became Virginia’s first governor, and was re-elected four times. Then he retired from public life, but despite his strong objections the people went ahead and re-elected him Governor for the 5th time. But he meant what he said, so he refused to take the office.
He was offered a seat in the U.S. Senate, and posts as ambassador to Spain and to France. President George Washington asked him to join his cabinet and become Secretary of State, and later wanted to appoint him the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But he refused all such honors and recognitions.
Listen to these words from him: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians - not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Chris...
MORE THAN A CENTURY AGO, TWO SPORTSMEN WERE SAILING along the coasts of Scotland. They anchored their yacht in the harbor at Iverness and went ashore to roam the beautiful countryside. Soon they became lost. Darkness was approaching and they couldnˇ¦t find their way back to the harbor. They knocked at the door of a peasantˇ¦s cottage, asking for a meal and lodging for the night. The farmer viewed them with suspicion and sent them away. Knocking at the door of a neighboring farm, the owner welcomed the strangers into his house. He sat them at a table laden with food. He gave them a bed and breakfast. Only in the morning did he discover that one of the two was the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward V. Imagine the shame and disappointment of the first farmer who closed his door against his king!
This story begs a question. Have you opened the door of your heart to the King of kings? If not, see Him weeping over you. He wants to be your Savior and Kong.
. We must give practical help to the disadvantaged, perhaps by supporting a Christian relief agency. When John Wesley visited his congregations he would question his assistants as to their progress in the faith. He would often ask if their Christianity had affected their pockets? That can be an acid test of our values.