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C. S. Lewis, “Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
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)
1 Thessalonians 4:13-4:18
2 Samuel 21:1-21:20
2 Samuel 21:1-21:10
1 Corinthians 15:57-15:58
TONY EVANS ON GETTING UN-STUCK
Tony Evans, a popular black preacher from down in Texas, spoke of being on an elevator in a high-rise building. He said he’d never been particularly comfortable on such elevators. There was something about riding up and down in a little box several hundred feet off the ground that has never sat well with him. He worried that something would go wrong.
One day it did. The car he was riding in got stuck in between floors way up in the higher floors. He noted that some of the people in the car became frantic. They began to beat on the door hoping to get someone’s attention. Others began to yell in the hopes that their voices would get someone on the surrounding floors to come to the aid. But nobody heard their noise or their cries.
Then Evans quietly made his way to the front of the car, opened a little door in the wall and pulled out a telephone. Immediately he was connected with someone on the outside. He didn’t need to beat on the wall to get their attention. He didn’t need to speak loudly in the phone to receive their help. He could have whispered and they would have heard him.
Evans said that - in this world, we’re going to get "stuck" in places we aren’t comfortable with. Some people begin to beat against the walls, others cry out in dismay. But the person who trusts in the power of confident prayer knows there’s someone on the other end who hears their call and comes to their aid.
Hebrews 10:19ff tells us that we now can have "boldness" (KJV) to enter into very presence of God because of the blood of Jesus. We can think this way only because Jesus has opened the way for us to approach God’s throne and earnestly ask whatever we desire according to His Will.
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...
Sermon Central Staff
WHO SAVED ME?
During a terrible storm at sea that threatened every moment to carry the ship to the bottom, one of the ship’s crew was doing something on the deck when a great sea struck the ship and went fairly over the deck, striking this man with great force, disabling him and carrying him into the mad waters.
Although he was a good swimmer, he was so disabled that he could only keep above water. They saw him lifting up his imploring hands through the white foam, signifying his desire for help. But the Captain said, "Don’t lower a boat, for no small boat can live in this sea, in this terrific storm. We cannot save the man. The most we can do is to save the ship."
The vessel was bearing farther and farther from the helpless man. Once more they saw his imploring hands come up among the white caps further off, which moved all hearts that witnessed it. Still the Captain said a small boat must not be lowered, as it could not live a moment among these wild billows.
But one man who was an expert swimmer, was so moved by the imploring signals of the drowning man, that he threw off his loose garments, saying: "I will save that man, or die with him."
So plunging into the surging deep, he struggled so bravely with the mad waters, that he reached the poor man just as his strength had gone; he had given up and was filling with water, and sinking down unconscious. He grasped him, and strange to tell, he brought him so near the ship that a small boat was lowered, and both men were taken up and laid down upon the deck. The one that had been swept overboard, entirely unconscious and his deliverer nearly so. Appliances were used and both were brought to consciousness.
As soon as the rescued man opened his eyes and found he was not in the ocean, his first words were: "Who saved me?"
He was pointed to his deliverer still lying on the deck in his wet clothes. He crept to his deliverer, and putting his arms around his feet, and in the most tender and heart moving tone of voice cried out: "I’m your servant, I’m your servant." He felt that he could never do enough for him.
Let me ask all who read this incident, would you not put your arms about the bleeding feet of your great Deliverer and say from a full heart: "Jesus, I’m your servant, I’m your servant. Ask anything of me, Jesus, and I will do it the best I can."
(From a sermon by Jimmy Haile, My Father’s Business, 9/29/2011)
SUSAN BOYLE: BEAUTY ON THE INSIDE
When Susan Boyle stepped out on the stage of "Britain’s Got Talent," people laughed at her...like the scoffers in this Psalm. They made fun of her because her outward appearance wasn’t the glitz and glamour they’d come to expect. Members of the audience could be seen rolling their eyes.
But when she began to sing, her voice was like that of the angels. People’s initial attitudes about her were changed. She had an amazing voice that was perfection to their ears. The rolling eyes changed to looks of shock at the incredible talent this woman had to offer.
The resounding applause proved she had what it took to be a star.
But her talent was on the inside.
God looks at what we’re all about; by what’s on the inside.
God doesn’t care if we have lustrous hair that shines or dingy grey, or no hair at all. God loves us just the way we are.
God doesn’t care if our eye lashes are long and full of volume.
God loves us just the way we are.
God doesn’t care if we own a limousine and driver to go with it or if we walk to church or take the bus.
God loves us just the way we are with the resources we have on the inside. And our biggest resource is our heart. It’s a heart that has a right relationship with God. It’s a heart that desires to live by God’s standards, not human beings. That is where true happiness is found.
It’s no secret formula that comes in a bottle or that you have to purchase in an exclusive limited time TV offer. No! The price has already been paid for you to be in a right relationship with God. Jesus Christ paid the price...with His life...for you! Amen!
TO WHOEVER FINDS THIS...I LOVE YOU
Several years ago there was a girl in an orphanage. She was unattractive and had mannerisms that were not very attractive either, and so she was disliked and shunned by the other children and was not liked by her teachers. The head of the institution looked for a reason to send her off to some other place.
One afternoon the opportunity came. She was suspected of writing unapproved, illicit notes to someone outside the institution. One of the little girls had just reported, "I saw her write a note and hide it on a tree near the stone wall."
The superintendent hurried to the tree and found the note. He then passed it silently to his assistant. The note read, "To whoever finds this, I love you."
In essence, someone else also wrote a note and put it on a tree outside a city wall at another place a long time ago. Of him, too, it was written "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men" Isaiah 53:2, 3, NIV.
They sought to get rid of Jesus. They took him out to Calvary’s hill where they crucified him. They nailed him to a tree. But when men get there, they find a note on that tree that reads, "To whoever finds this, I love you."
Bill Hybels tells about an interesting experience after a baptism service in their church. He writes: “I bumped into a woman in the stairwell who was crying. I thought this was a little odd, since the service was so joyful. I asked her if she was all right. She said, ‘No, I’m struggling.’ She said, ‘My mom was baptized today. I prayed for her every day for almost 20 years. The reason I’m crying is because I came this close to giving up on her. At the 5-year mark I said, “Who needs this? God isn’t listening.” At the 10-year mark I said, “Why am I wasting my breath?” At the 15-year mark I said, “This is absurd.” At the 19-year mark I said, “I’m just a fool.” But I just kept trying, kept praying. Even with weak faith I kept praying. Then she gave here life to Christ, and she was baptized today. I will never doubt the power of prayer again.”
Sometimes when we pray and pray we feel like we are experiencing the law of diminished returns — so we stop praying. We correspon...
THE HUMMINGBIRD AND THE VULTURE
Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over the desert. All vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colourful blossoms of desert plants.
The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. And they fill themselves with freshness and life.
Point is - Each bird finds what it is looking for. And so do we all!
WHY DID JESUS NEED TO BE BAPTIZED?
So why would Jesus need to be baptized by John?
Well... Jesus' baptism by John was the beginning of Jesus' ministry
Mark 1:1 starts out: "The BEGINNING of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" and then Mark starts telling us about Jesus' baptism by John.
In Luke 3:23 we're told of Jesus' baptism by John and then we read: "Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he BEGAN HIS MINISTRY..."
Obviously, for some reason, Jesus' ministry began with His baptism.
Now, at this point in Jewish history, water baptism served one of 3 purposes.
1st, there was the Baptism Of Repentance.
This was what John the Baptist's was preaching.
But of course Jesus didn't need to repent because He hadn't sinned.
The 2nd kind of baptism was for people who desired to convert to Judaism.
It was a Baptism Of Conversion.
If you were a Gentile who wanted to convert to Judaism, they baptized you in water.
ILLUS: Jamieson, Fausset and Brown explained that: "The Jews were accustomed to say of a heathen proselyte, on his public admission into the Jewish faith BY BAPTISM, that he was a new-born child."
So, baptism was used when someone wanted to convert to Judaism. But Jesus had no need to convert to Judaism. He already was one. He'd been born a Jew.
So baptism in those days could be for repentance or conversion... and Jesus did not need to be baptized for those reasons. So, for what OTHER reason would a person be baptized in water back then???
Well, the only other people who experienced baptism - in the Jewish faith in that day were priests. The Law dictated that especially the High Priest was to "washed with water." And the Temple had pools set aside for just that purpose.
In Leviticus 8:6 we're told that - by the instruction of God -- "Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water."
Then, later, during that ceremony Moses "poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron's head and anointed him to consecrate him." Leviticus 8:12
This act INITIATED Aaron's ministry as High Priest. When Aaron and his sons were washed with water and anointed with oil, they BEGAN their priesthood and were empowered to make sacrifices and to handle holy things as God's representatives.
At that point (their baptism) God put His mark of approval on the ministry of Aaron and his sons.
The Bible tells us that Jesus' ministry began with His baptism by John.
After His baptism, the Father anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit as it descended on Him in form of a dove. And the Father put His mark of approval on Jesus by loudly declaring:
"This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17
This was the beginning of Jesus' ministry as our High Priest.
Did you realize Jesus was our High Priest?
Indeed He is!
Hebrews 4:14: "...we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God..."
From the day of His baptism by John at the Jordan until His death on the Cross, Jesus (as our High Priest) prepared the ultimate sacrifice for our sins... His own body.