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Illustration results for good deeds

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Mark Brunner
 
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“Aunt Bessie’s Pickled Beets!” 2 Corinthians 7:2-13 Key verse(s): 10:“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

The worst part of doing wrong is being found out. We’ve all been caught doing wrong in life; especially when we reflect back on our childhoods. And there are many things about doing wrong that are hurtful. First and foremost is the pain and suffering that we bring to others in our wrong-doing. This is the impact of wrong-doing that reverberates. Wrong has a way of broadcasting and spreading out, making a little mistake into a much bigger one. Take a lie for example. What started out as a fib can easily become the initiator of all manner of hurt, none of which was our intention in the first place. Certainly the effect of our wrong-doing on others is preeminent in our concern for doing right. But, there are other consequences attached to our wrongful behavior; not the least of which is the regret that becomes our lot when we are discovered in our sins.

I really hate the feeling of regret. There is simply something grinding and gnawing about it. Regret has a way of packaging itself so that it stays fresh for a very long time. Just when you think that you have put it away for good in some safe place where it can slowly but surely dissipate into the farthest and deepest reaches of your consciousness, some little reminder of the deed that spawned the regret in the first place creeps into your life. And that’s when regret pops up. It’s the jar of Aunt Bessie’s pickled beets that you pushed to the back of the fruit cellar shelf in hopes that in the darkness it could be forgotten that, despite the accumulation of years of dust and perhaps a little rust around the rim, stares back at you fresh and beckoning to be opened. Unless you empty the contents and wash the jar, Aunt Bessie’s face will always be popping up in the cellar no matter how many times you push it to the back of the shelf. You can’t live with regret no matter how hard you try. It will never be tamed or transformed because, like pickled beets, regret always tastes and looks the same. You can’t “salt” it or tincture it to make it more palatable. Pickled beets will always taste pickled.

“In 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the Middle East and Europe gave Borden a burden for the world’s hurting people. Writing home, he said, ‘I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.’ When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: No Reserves. Turning down high paying job offers after graduation from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: No Retreats. Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month. A waste, you say! Not in God’s plan. In his Bible underneath the words No Reserves and No Retreats, he had written the words No Regrets. (Daily Bread, December 31, 1988.)

There is only one way to deal with regret. You need to remove it from your life completely. Aunt Bessie’s pickled beets are always going to be there unless, of course, you eat them, wash the jar and return it with thanks to Aunt Bessie. Regrets don’t go away unless you decide in the first place that there is simply no room for them among the provisions in your heart. You may not like pickled beets but one thing you can be sure of, the beets marinated in that pickling solution are suspended in a state of freshness that will preserve them for a very long time. It is not likely that they will self-destruct any time soon requiring you to dispose of them with a clean conscience. No, Aunt Bessie pickled them for a reason. She wanted them preserved as a memorial to her garden and she had every intention of insuring that their survival would even exceed her’s. You might as well eat them and get it over with.

 
Contributed By:
Chris Surber
 
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My first staff position in a church was as the Associate Pastor of The Kirk Community Church in Dunedin, Florida. I normally arrived at church early but on this particular morning my wife and I had arrived just a few minutes before the worship service was to begin. As my wife Christina unbuckled the baby from his car seat, I straightened my tie in the mirror and watched something which is really rather commonplace in a rather uncommon way.

I have seen people go in and out of church many times. That morning though, it was as though veil had been removed from things I had never before seen. It was one of those moments when something that has always been right in front finally comes into focus. Were I a painter, I would love to paint this image the way that it appeared to me that day. I paint a portrait of people walking as if unencumbered yet clearly overloaded with piles and piles of clutter on their shoulders.

It was as though God was allowing me to see the burdens that we carry with us every day and bring with us into the doors of the church every Sunday. It was as if He wanted me to know just how heavy and cumbersome those burdens are. As I watched the people filing into the church building from their sedans, trucks, and minivans, it occurred to me that each person carried his own invisible burden.

Some carried the burden of guilt for past sins. These people hoped that by regularly attending church they would convince God to forgive them. Some of them carried the burden of fear, depression, and anxiety. These people came to into the church hoping to find peace – even if only for an hour on Sunday morning. Whatever their burdens were, one thing became clear to me; most of us, all of us, carry burdens that we were not intended to carry alone.

As I sat watching all of these people, many of whom I knew well, making their way into the church that Sunday, I was struck with the sense that so many of us come to church and generally live out our Christian faith out of what is largely a sense of obligation rather than of love. We fill our lives with repetitious, albeit well intentioned, deeds in order to fulfill our obligations rather than living a life which flows from the love of God working in and through us.

Imagine the folly of a man who chooses day in and day out to hoard and heap burdens upon his shoulders which are not his to carry alone. Imagine the woman who works diligently to earn the forgiveness which she has already received.

Dear Saints of God, if we are ever to learn to live lives which are filled with the grace of God, if we are ever to live the grace-filled life, we must let go of obligation and embrace love. We do not do good works to earn God’s favor; we do good works because we have received His favor. Good works, duty, stoic obligation are not what is pleasing to God. While people tend to be mostly concerned with the outward appearance of things, God is concerned with our hearts. (I Samuel 16:7)

 
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REVENGE VS. FORGIVENESS

There was once a man who was bitten by a dog, which was later discovered to be rabid. The man was rushed to the hospital where tests revealed that he had, in fact, contracted rabies. At the time, medical science had no cure for this disease and so his doctor faced the difficult task of informing him that his condition was incurable and terminal. "Sir, we will do all we can to make you comfortable. But I cannot give you false hope. There is nothing we can really do. My best advice is that you put your affairs in order as soon as possible."

The dying man sank back on his bed in shock, but finally rallied enough strength to ask for a pen and some paper. He then set to work with great energy. An hour later, when the doctor returned, the man was stilling writing vigorously. The doctor commented "I’m glad to see that you’re working on your will."

"This ain’t no will, Doc." Replied the dying man, "this is a list of the people I’m going to bite before I die."

This story reminds me of a movie released in 2000 called Pay It Forward that tells the story of a boy named Trevor. Trevor has been given an assignment by his social studies teacher to come up with a plan that will change the world. His plan is to "pay it forward" by doing a good deed for three people who must in turn each do good deeds for three other people. The boy becomes disheartened by the adults in his life who resist changing their own lives to make the world a better place.

How insightful of Jesus to use money and forgiveness in the same parable! Two of the most difficult areas for people to submit to God are their possessions and their hurts.

(From a sermon by Tommy Burrus, Pay It Forward, 10/14/2009)

 
Contributed By:
Bruce Ferris
 
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My wife and I recently saw a television show on The History Channel titled, “The Man Who Predicted 911.” We were both moved by this hour presentation and its focus on one man by the name of Rick Rescorla. Long before September 11th, Rick Rescorla, the 62-year-old head of security at the Morgan Stanley Bank, developed an evacuation plan for the bank. The bank’s offices were situated high up in the South Tower at the World Trade Center. Rescorla was convinced that Osama Bin Laden would use jet planes to try and destroy the World Trade Center. The plan and its preparation were hugely unpopular with the Morgan Stanley staff, many of whom thought Rescorla was mad.

On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 hit World Trade Center Tower 1 at 8:46 am. Rick Rescorla ignored building officials’ advice to stay put and began the orderly evacuation of Morgan Stanley’s 2,800 employees on 20 floors of World Trade Center Tower 2, and 1,000 employees in WTC 5. Rescorla reminded everyone to "be proud to be an American ... everyone will be talking about you tomorrow", and sang God Bless America and other songs over his bullhorn to help evacuees stay calm as they left the building. Rescorla had most of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 employees as well as people working on other floors of WTC 2 safely out of the buildings by the time United Airlines Flight 175 hit WTC 2 at 9:07 a.m.

After having reached safety, Rescorla returned to the building to rescue others still inside. He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains were not recovered. As a result of Rescorla’s actions, only 6 of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 WTC employees were killed on September 11th, 2001, including Rick and three of his deputies who followed him back into the building.

The remainder of this very moving broadcast focused on Morgan Stanley Bank employees who now in tears were praising and acknowledging Rick Rescorla for saving their lives from total destruction that day. Many felt so guilty and apologetic they had thought Rick foolish to keep preaching and standing for what he believed would happen if they were not ready. Those interviewed said they would never forget Rick Rescorla. He was their hero.

Mr. Rescorla left behind a widow, Susan Rescorla, and two children that day. Since 911, a memorial stone was erected in Rick’s hometown of Hayle, Cornwall, to commemorate his life and the sacrifice he made to save others.

James 5:19-20 says, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” As sinners saved by grace, we must have a “Rick Rescorla Attitude.” He was convinced people entrusted to his care would perish if his plan of escape were ignored. Rick Rescorla stayed the course even when unpopular and ridiculed because he believed what he was doing would save lives.

Sadly, many Christians today have a “Cain Attitude” when it comes to rescuing the perishing and having a consistent witness. Unlike Rick Rescorla, they say by their actions: “I am not my brother’s keeper.” How this must grieve the heart of Almighty God who has left us here as His Beloved Children to sh...

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Contributed By:
John  Williams III
 
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"The Great Russian writer Dostoyevsky tells the story of a woman who found herself in hell and she felt she did not belong there. She could not bear the suffering and cried out in agony for the mercy of God. God listened and was moved with pity. "If you can remember one good deed that you did in your lifetime, I will help you." said God. Wracking her brain, she remembered that once she had given a starving neighbor an onion. God produced the onion complete with stem. The woman grabbed the onion, and God began to pull her up and out of hell. But others, damned (condemned) with her, began to grab hold of the woman’s skirts to be lifted out, too. The stem of the ’ onion held and would have saved them all, but the woman began to kick and scream for them to let go. Thrashing about trying to dislodge her friends was too much for the onion and the stem snapped, plunging them all back into the depths of hell. So with us, holding on to our onion stems, our denarii of good works, we lash out jealously at those who have not done as much as we have for God". (Richard Carl Hoefler. The Divine Trap. Lima: The C. S. S. Publishing Co., 1980, pp.81 - 82).

 
Contributed By:
Jim Kilson
 
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A wealthy man before leaving on an extended vacation said to a contractor, "While I am away, I want you to build me a fine new home according to these plans. Be sure you work with extreme care, and use the best of everything. Tell me the cost as soon as you have it and I’ll send you a check." During the process of construction the contractor discovered many opportunities to substitute inferior materials; he put in his own pocket the money he saved. His employer would never know the difference, and he himself would profit. But he soon regretted his dishonesty, for the wealthy man upon his return inspected the finished home and said: "You have built it exactly as I wanted it, and I’m sure that you used the best of everything in its construction. Now, in appreciation for your long years of service to me, I am giving you this new home for your very own. Here’s the deed!" Church, we are building for eternity. Do we build with inferior materials or do we build with choice materials on the foundation of Christ? Don’t ever forget, the house we will have later on depends on the material we are using now.

 
Contributed By:
David  Yarbrough
 
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The fact that our good deeds are not good enough to get us into heaven is no more cruel than it’s cruel for you to tell the fish in the water (I hope your not talking to the fish in the water) “I just can’t breath in your environment.” To say that, is not a cruel statement it is just a statement about your nature. You can’t breath under water. To say that my good deeds to God is like water to my lungs is not to say anything cruel about God it’s just the facts. God can’t tolerate us. And that’s not mean and it’s not cruel it’s just the facts. And in the world of our modern celebrities who seem to represent the thoughts of our culture, they in essence want us to believe that God can hang with sin. That God, the perfect God can somehow tolerate imperfection. And God can look at people like you and me, people who’s lives are out of sink and say “you know what, it’s OK”. But God would cease to be God the day He said that. You don’t want a God who accepts sin. Because a God who accepts sin is not a holy perfect God. It’s like when Grocho Marks said “I will never join a club who will accept me as a member.” And in reality we don’t want a God who looks at us in our sinful fallen state and say, “it’s OK your alright your in.”
The fact that you can’t breath underwater isn’t entirely true. People can breath underwater when equipped with scuba apparatus. You can conquer the environment but it’s going to take something, something you don’t have inherent in yourself. And that is what Good Friday is all about. Good Friday is about what we have in a bloody cross that allows us to live in God’s environment. And God says I’m going to provide the oxygen tanks for you, I’m going to make you acceptable in my sight. But you must recognize that there is an exchange that has to take place; your life for my Son’s. You take His life and you trade yours in for it and you can be with me. God will accept us but as the Bible puts it He will only accept us in Christ. I don’t want to just be accepted in David, I want to be accepted in Christ. That retains God’s perfection and makes me understand that I cannot be accepted aside from Jesus Christ. What I need I can’t provide, God is going to have to provide it for me.
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is (scuba gear) eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:26) God says in effect you put on the scuba gear; put on Christ and you can survive in my environment.

 
Contributed By:
John Gerald
 
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In spite of the fun and laughter, 13 yr. old Frank Wilson was not happy. It was true, he had received all the presents he wanted, and he enjoyed the traditional Christmas Eve reunions with relatives for the purpose of exchanging gifts and good wishes..........but Frank was not happy because this was his first Christmas without his brother, Steve, who during the year, had been killed by a reckless driver. Frank missed his brother and the close companionship they had together. He said good-bye to his relatives, and explained to his parents that he was leaving a little early to see a friend, and from there he could walk home. Since it was cold outside, Frank put on his new plaid jacket. It was his FAVORITE gift. He placed the other presents on his new sled, then headed out, hoping to find the patrol leader of his Boy Scout troop. Frank always felt understood by him. Tho’ rich in wisdom, his leader lived in the Flats, the section of town where most of the poor lived. His patrol leader did odd jobs to help support his family. To Frank’s disappointment, his friend was not home. As Frank hiked down the street toward home, he caught glimpses of trees and decorations in many of the small houses. Then, thru one front window, he glimpsed a shabby room with limp stockings hanging over an empty fireplace. A woman was seated nearby....weeping. The stockings reminded him of the way he and his brother had always hung theirs side by side. The next morning, they would be bursting with presents. A sudden thought struck Frank--he had not done his "good deed" for the day. Before the impulse passed, he knocked on the door. "Yes?" the sad voice of a woman asked. Seeing his sled full of gifts, and assuming he was making a collection, she said, "I have no food or gifts for you. I have nothing for my own children." "That’s not why I am here," Frank replied. "Please choose whatever presents you would like for your children from the sled." "Why, God bless you!" the amazed woman answered gratefully. She selected some candies, a game, a toy airplane and a puzzle. When she took the Scout flashlight, Frank almost protested. Finally, the stockings were full. "Won’t you tell me your name?" she asked, as Frank was leaving. "Just call me the Christmas Scout," he replied. The visit left Frank touched, and with an unexpected flicker of joy in his heart. He understood that his sorrow wasn’t the only sorrow in the world. Before he left the Flats, he had given away the rest of his gifts. His plaid jacket had gone to a shivering boy. Now, Frank trudged toward home, cold and uneasy. How could he explain to his parents that he had given his presents away? "Where are your presents, son? asked his father as Frank entered the house. "I gave them away," he answered in a small voice. "The airplane from Aunt Susan? Your new coat from Grandma? Your flashlight?? We tho’t you were happy with your gifts." "I was......very happy," Frank said quietly. "But, Frank, how could you be so impulsive?" his mother asked. "How will we explain to the relatives who spent so much time and gave so much love shopping for you?" His father was firm. "You made your choice, Frank. We cannot afford any more presents." With his brother gone, and his family disappointed in him, Frank suddenly felt dreadfully alone. He had not expected a reward for his generosity, for he knew that a good deed always should be its own reward. It would be tarnished otherwise. So he did not want his gifts back. However, he wondered if he would ever again recapture joy in his life. He thought he had this evening....but it had been fleeting. He thought of his brother.....and sobbed himself to s...

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Contributed By:
Russell Brownworth
 
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In a sermon several weeks ago I referred to a man I couldn’t reach. John was ex-Navy, a heavy drinker and a violent man. He was very personable when you first met him; when he drank enough beer the demons took over. I must confess that, until I met John I always thought people were born with a good nature, and, if they wound-up on the wrong side of things, had just somehow made a wrong turn. John taught me better.
John had married Rosemary only a few months before I met him; it was his fourth time at the marriage license bureau – her second. A few weeks after Rosemary joined our church, John came down the aisle also. We baptized him and it seemed they would escape the divorce statistic hanging over multiple marriages. Rosemary thought she could get John to quit drinking; she was wrong. It seems I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t reach John.
The crisis came less than a month after John’s baptism. The honeymoon had ended and John began drinking again. One night, late, Rosemary showed up at the parsonage door. She was bruised and scared. Elizabeth and I took her in, and I went to see John the next day. When I drove up to their front yard I was greeted by a strange sight. John had stuck empty beer cans on the end of every branch of the small orange tree in front of their trailer. The sign at the bottom of the tree read: This is for you, preacher man.
John was very drunk but still somewhat coherent…and very loud. He greeted me at the front door and invited me in. I only asked, John, how can I help? John talked angrily for the next twenty minutes. Finally, he looked at me with a hatred that wasn’t his own and said, I’m going to make a minister out of you.
Later that day Rosemary asked if we would accompany her to the trailer to get her clothes. We drove up and I went in first. He was calm and seemed reasonably sobered. He agreed to let Rosemary come in and get her belongings. When she came in he immediately began to threaten her. At one point he went to get his pistol. I urged Rosemary to forget her clothes and leave; it was a bad idea to come back. She was determined to get her clothing. When she went to the closet, John re-entered the room waving a pistol – a very BIG pistol! (I must say it looked a lot bigger from the wrong end of the barrel). After several tense moments John allowed us to return to the car where Elizabeth was waiting.
Several months later we got a letter from Rosemary thanking us for our help, and saying that she had settled in another state. Not long after that we heard about John – on the evening news. He had threatened people outside a K-Mart store with his pistol, and when the police showed up he committed suicide. A painfully tortured mind and life came to a wasted end.
Was John saved? I don’t know; I am not equipped to judge that. He made a profession of faith and was baptized, but his behavior never changed. That leads me to an opinion he never really believed – never really trusted Christ. It is only an opinion – God knows the real truth. Beyond opinion, however, it is true beyond any doubt that saved people have a Savior; John’s savior, what he really seemed to trust-in was Budweiser.
Now the point of John’s story, a painful reminder of my own failure, is that we cannot save ourselves – and, without Jesus, I’m just the same as John. Many people would say that the only difference is that alcohol made John do the things he did; John’s problem was alcohol, not sin. The alcohol only loosened-up John’s inhibitions to do those things which were already on the inside. The reality is we all have those things on the inside; the doctrine of total depravity teaches us that! Every human being on the face of this planet who has ever lived was/is capable of doing whatever horrific deed you can dream up. This is why we need a Savior.

 
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AIMING AT THE RIGHT TARGET

Some of our deeds are of great value, especially those done in dependence upon God for His glory and honor. Some of our deeds are worthless. They accomplish nothing of eternal value and will be quickly forgotten after we are gone.

Matt Emmons had the gold medal in sight. He was one shot away from claiming victory in the 2004 Olympic 50-meter three-position rifle event. He didn't even need a bull's-eye to win. His final shot merely needed to be on target.

Normally, the shot he made would have received a score of 8.1, more than enough for a gold medal. But in what was described as "an extremely rare mistake in elite competition," Emmons fired at the wrong target. Standing in lane two, he fired at the target in lane three. His score for a good shot at the wrong target? -- 0. Instead of a medal, Emmons ended up in eighth place. (David Mordkoff, American Emmons Misses Out on Gold by Firing at Wrong Target, www.Sports.Yahoo.com, 8-22-04)

It doesn't matter how accurate you are if you are aiming at the wrong goal. My friends, I'm afraid many of God's children are going to get to the end of their lives and find that they have been aiming at the wrong goal. They have been aiming for a comfortable life, and they may have hit the bull's eye, but there will be no medal. Oh, they'll get into heaven because of their faith in Christ, but there will be no reward from a Father who will fairly evaluate the value of each one's work.

(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, The Holiness of Grace, 4/29/2011)

 
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