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Sermon Central Staff
THANKFUL PEOPLE ARE HAPPY PEOPLE
I read a news story once of a woman who was getting ready to jump off a 44 story building in New York City.
Witnesses said that she did not look like the type of person who would do such a thing. She was very distinguished and well dressed.
All the attempts made by the police to get the woman off the ledge had failed.
One of the officers asked if he could call his pastor in to see if he could help. When the pastor arrived, he asked permission to go to the ledge and talk to the woman.
As the pastor neared the edge the woman screamed, "Don't come any closer or I'll jump!"
The pastor took a step back and then said, "I am sorry that you believe no one loves you."
This got the woman's attention and it got the attention of the police. That was something that you don't usually say to a person who is threatening suicide.
The woman took a step towards the pastor and said, "My grandchildren love me and so does my children. My whole family loves me! I have 8 wonderful grandchildren and they love me."
The pastor took a step towards the woman and said, "Well then, you must be very poor, maybe that is why you want to take your own life."
The woman who was a little overweight said, "Do I look like I go without any meals? We live in a very nice apartment. I'm not poor."
The pastor took another step closer to her and was now 3 feet from her when he asked, "Then why do you want to kill yourself? I don't understand."
The woman thought for a moment and then said, "You know, I don't really remember."
The story ends with the pastor and the woman walking towards the elevator as she shows him pictures of her grandchildren. Eventually this woman becomes a volunteer on the city's suicide hotline, helping others choose life.
What did the pastor do to help this woman?
He helped her get her eyes off herself and onto the many ways that God had blessed her.
She learned a valuable lesson that day. She learned that thankful people are happy people.
If you don't learn anything else today, I hope you learn this valuable lesson. Thankful people are happy people.
(From a sermon by Greg Carr, Thankful People are _______ People, 12/23/2010)
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 shipís 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, "Donít 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: "Iím your servant, Iím 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, Iím your servant, Iím your servant. Ask anything of me, Jesus, and I will do it the best I can."
(From a sermon by Jimmy Haile, My Fatherís Business, 9/29/2011)
DR. HENRY BRANDT told of going to visit a friend whose wife had died. While there he shared these wonderful words of the apostle Paul from II Cor. 1:3-4, 8-11a: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers."
His friend thanked Dr. Brandt, saying that he was the first person to offer him strength and hope. All the others had said things like, "I donít know how you can stand it. I just couldnít take it. You poor thing. Oh, how awful!"
The Psalmist declared, "Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me" (Ps. 54:4). Pray with the Psalmist, "Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my help"
THE CHRISTMAS STORM: A Modern Parable by Paul Harvey
"This is about a modern man, one of us, he was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man, generous to his family, upright in his dealings with others. But he did not believe in all that incarnation stuff that the Churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didnít make sense to him and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just could not swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as man. Iím truly sorry to distress you, he told his wife, but Iím not going with you to church this Christmas Eve. He said heíd feel like a hypocrite. That he would much rather stay home, but that he would wait up for them. He stayed, they went. Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier, then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another and another. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. Well, when he went to the front door, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through his large landscape window. Well, he couldnít let the poor creatures lie there and freeze. He remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter -- if he could direct the birds to it. He quickly put on his coat and galoshes, trampled through the deepening snow to the barn, opened the door wide, and turned on a light. But the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in and he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow making a trail to the yellow lighted wide open doorway of the stable, but to his dismay the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them, he tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms -- instead they scattered in every direction except into the warm lighted barn. Then he realized they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature, if only I could think of some way to let them know they can trust me. That Iím not trying to hurt them, bu...
Have you ever heard of the woman who hated Mother’s Day? According to the Toronto Star’s website, there was such a woman. If you think the spirit of Mother’s Day has been spoiled by the commercialism of cards, flowers and once-a-year sincerity, you stand united with the woman credited with giving us the annual event.
West Virginian Anna Jarvis was so horrified by the monster she helped create in 1914, she spent most of her later years campaigning to have the second Sunday in May removed from the calendar as the day to honour your mother.
In the end, Jarvis lost the fight. The woman, who was never a mother herself, exhausted her financial resources and ruined her mental health in that fight. She died alone in 1948 in an asylum at the age of 84. Just before her death Jarvis told a local reporter: "I devoted my entire life to Mother’s Day and the racketeers and grafters have taken it over."
"She simply wanted a day to honour and remember mothers, but in her mind it didn’t turn out that way," says William Pollard, an archivist at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., where Jarvis bequeathed her letters and other writings.
In 1914, Jarvis spearheaded a campaign to help persuade U.S. president Woodrow Wilson to set aside May’s second Sunday as a national day for recognition. She orchestrated a letter-writing campaign to Wilson, lobbied influential politicians and clergymen and distributed brochures arguing about the importance of a national day for mothers.
Jarvis’ cause came from admiration for her recently deceased mother, Anna Maria, and others like her who had been an inspiration. But by the early 1920s, she was sickened by the commercial circus she had helped create. She felt the day had nothing to do with celebrating the real achievements of women.
Jarvis spent her latter days crashing floral company conventions to protest and urging card companies to give the money they made from Mother’s Day to the poor. At one Mother’s Day convention where flowers were being sold she was arrested for disturbing the peace. She even launched a lawsuit to stop a Mother’s Day festival from being held. (Story fr. Thestar.com)
For Jarvis, her mother was an inspiration, she wanted to honor her. And I believe it is the same kind of inspiration that drove Isaiah to write, for he sees something in mothers that shows us what God is really like. He wanted his readers to know that God cares, and he knows the power of a word picture and he chooses mothers, to picture for his audience, the kind of God who is totally committed to their welfare.
It was related that once when the Duke of Wellington remained to take communion at his parish church, a very poor old man went up to the opposite aisle, and reaching the Communion table, knelt down close by the side of the Duke. (Immediately, tension and commotion interrupted the silence of the church.) Someone came and touched the poor man on the shoulder, and whispered to him to move farther away, or to rise and wait until the Duke had received the bread and the wine.
But the eagle eye and the quick ear of the great commander caught the meaning of that touch and that whisper. He clasped the old manís hand and held him to prevent his rising; and in a reverential but distinct undertone, the Duke said, "Do not move; we are equal here." (Pulpit Helps 3/91)
A sobbing little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it ’was too crowded.’ "I can’t go to Sunday School," she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by. Seeing her shabby, unkempt appearance, the pastor guessed the reason and, taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday School class. The child was so touched that she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus.
Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings and the parents called for the kindhearted pastor, who had befriended their daughter, to handle the final arrangements. As her body was being moved, a worn and crumpled purse was found which seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump. Inside was found 57 cents and a note scribbled in childish handwriting which read, "This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday School."
For two years she had saved for this offering of love. When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion. He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger building.
But the story does not end there! A newspaper learned of the story and published it. It was read by a realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands of dollars. When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered it for 57 cents.
Church members made large subscriptions. Checks came from far and wide. Within five years the little girl’s gift had increased to $250,000.00 - a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century). Her unselfish love had paid large dividends.
That caring Pastor was named Russell H. Conwell. He became the founder of what is now known as Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The little girl was named Hattie May Wiatt who died in 1886.
In a sermon on December 1, 1912, which honored Hattie Dr Conwell reminded his congregation of the impact of that 57 cents –“ think of this large church,” he wrote, “think of the membership added to it – over 5600 – since that time. Think of the institutions this church founded. Think of the Samaritan Hospital and the thousands of sick people that have been cured there, and the thousands of poor that are ministered to every year. Think of how in that Wiatt house (by which 54 cents of that 57 cents was used in the first payment) were begun the very first classes of the Temple College.”
If God can do that with 57 cents think what He can do with $5.70, $57.00, $570.00, and even $5700.00. When we use the tool of treasure, of money, that God has provided us, and give, we don’t give it to programs or buildings we give it to a cause – the cause of God.
The Rich Family in Church
by Eddie Ogan
Iíll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12 and my older sister Darlene was 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.
By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.
When we got home we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. When we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didnít listen to the radio, weíd save money on that monthís electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1. We made $20 on pot holders.
That month was one of the best of our lives. Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night weíd sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so we figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.
The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change. We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before. That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep.
We didnít care that we wouldnít have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didnít own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didnít seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet. But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt rich.
When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us kids put in a $20 bill. As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didnít say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills. Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didnít talk, just sat and stared at the floor.
We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didnít have our mom and dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork that night. We had two knifes that we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didnít have a lot of things that other people had, but Iíd never thought we were poor. That Easter day I found out we were. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor.
I didnít like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed, I didnít even want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor! I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew that we were poor. I decided that I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence for...
As I was growing up with a younger brother and sister, one of our favorite games to play was baseball. We had a plastic bat and ball, and we would team up with some of the neighborhood kids and play ball in the back yard.
On one particular occasion my mom took our bat away from us because we were arguing, like all brothers and sisters tend to do. But this did not deter us from playing our favorite game. Mom took the bat, but not the ball. So we took the metal brace from the swing set (the metal bar that is used to brace two legs together on each end) and started using it as a bat.
I was at bat when I swung at a pitch and felt two distinct points of contact; one was with the ball, and the second was with my sisterís head. I didnít realize that she had walked up behind me, and on my follow through I clobbered her on the forehead with the end of the brace.
I turned around only to discover that my sister was screaming and bleeding profusely. In fact, not much of her face was really visible because she was covered in blood. I knew I was in trouble, so while my sister bled and cried, I pleaded with her not to tell momma. I figured that washing her down with the water hose to get rid of the blood would be enough to take care of the situation. Once the bleeding stopped, I would be in the clear. But in my panic to discover a way to keep from getting a good whipping, I couldnít see that the greater need was for my sister to receive medical attention. She had to be taken to the emergency room where she received several stitches to bind up her wound.
The point of this story is this. When my mom came out to find out what was going on, she didnít stop to dwell on how guilty I was for disobeying her, or to find out every detail about what had happened. As soon as she saw the blood, she swept my sister up in her arms, carried her into the house to put a bandage on her head, and drove her to the hospital so that she could get the medical attention she desperately needed. As a matter of fact, the whipping I deserved never came. My momís actions showed that her concern for my sisterís health and well-being was more important than trying to blame somebody for the accident that had caused her injuries, or for punishing the one who was responsible.
Pastors need to learn that lesson.
So many times we have been guilty of preaching on sin just so we can point a finger of blame at someone who has stumbled under the load of temptation that Satan brings to bear upon us. God forgive us for our arrogance and our shortsightedness. Forgive us for falling short of our God-given responsibility to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised (Luke 4:18). Our obligation as pastors is not only to warn people of sin and the consequences it brings, but also to bind the wounds of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have been victimized by the enemy, and to tell those who have never known the washing of regeneration that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay their sin debt, that His blood can wash away all of your sins, and that He rose from the dead to prove that He has power over death, hell and the grave.
Christians need to learn that lesson.
How many of us have been guilty of shooting our wounded? How many have kicked a brother or sister when they were down, rather than bearing their burden, and helping to restore them back into the sweetness of full fellowship with our Lord? We ought to be ashamed, for the Church is to be our refuge, our safe haven, and our place of restoration. But all too often it becomes a place of torment and ridicule because of those who have forgotten to ďconsider themselves, lest they also be tempted.Ē
Some of you this morning have been through the ringer in your battle with sin this week. Youíre battered and bloodied from the near lethal blows that Satan has inflicted upon you, and you desperately need medical attention, the kind of medical attention that only Jesus Christ can give. So I stand before you today, not with a pointed finger, but with outstretched hands, pleading with you to come this morning and be washed in the pure refreshing waters of Godís abundant grace and mercy. You need to be washed, to clean your feet. Youíve already been bathed in His loving grace and mercy. But you need to come to Jesus, confessing your sins and you will experience complete and total forgiveness and cleansing. Your fellowship will be restored, and your hope will be renewed. Youíve struggled with sin long enough. Now is the time to come back into the grace and mercy of the Lord.
Others of you may just simply be lost. Youíve washed your feet many times. Youíve turned over a new leaf only to find the same old dirty sin on the other side. Youíve attended church, and maybe even been baptized and joined the church. But youíve never trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from your sins. Friend, let me tell you, because I love you, that if you donít come to know Jesus Christ in the full pardon of sin, your eternal destination is hell. But if you come, you must come trusting in nothing but the shed blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse you all of your sins. You canít do anything to earn His favor, and you canít bring anything with you but a broken heart and a contrite spirit. You canít get better to come to Him. You can only plead with Him to forgive you as you are, a worthless sinner begging for mercy and pardon. You can only come to Jesus Christ in absolute unworthiness to ask Him for His free gift of salvation.
ď911 or You!Ē Obadiah 1: 1-14 Key verse(s): 10-11: ďBecause of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever. On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates you were like one of them.Ē
We are a people who love to watch. We watch the time, the sky, the road. We spend an inordinate amount of time watching television shows, videos, DVDís, video games and, each other. In many ways we are made for watching. Our eyes are in front not on the side. We donít even have to turn our head to watch things, everything we need to see, for the most part, is right in front of us. Our eyes take it in, our brain processes the image and supplies us with the appropriate action to accommodate the situation. Unfortunately, unlike in animals, what we see is not always appropriately responded to in the most timely or even responsible fashion. When an animal sees food, if hungry, it will eat until satisfied. If we see food we will most likely eat until it is consumed. If an animal sees danger, it will either attack or flee. If we see danger we have those same options. But, there is one added into the mix. We can always do nothing.
God created each of us to be distinct from the other ďliving thingsĒ of His creation. On the Sixth Day he also created man, a creature distinct from all other living things in that man possessed the innate ability to freely choose. Man was not driven by instinct. Man was motivated by will. This, as God foreordained from before time, would be both a blessing and a curse. Free will grants the freedom to work with God and His purposes as well as against Him. Choosing is a wonderful thing and one of the greatest blessings God has bestowed upon us. Choosing gives us flexibility, tremendous freedom and versatility. Of all Godís creation, man alone has the ability to find happiness in the midst of sorrow and reflection in the shadow of joy. Unfortunately, the ability to choose can also cause us to make wrong choices. Standing idly by while others suffer is one of those unfortunate choices.
In his book Who Cares? Rediscovering Community, author David Schwartz writes: ďWhen my friend Gerald looked out his office window, he saw the woman about to jump off the bridge. She stood on the edge, wavering. Below her the Susquehanna River flowed rapidly around the bridge footings, carrying flood logs and debris over the dam and to the Chesapeake Bay . . . Gerald stood for a minute, frozen. What should he do? He seemed to be the only person who had spotted the woman from his vantage point one story above the street. Shaking himself into movement, he grabbed the telephone and started to dial the emergency number 911. Could the police and the ambulance and the crisis intervention team possibly make it there in time? What would the woman do when she heard the police sirens speeding to her rescue? As his fingers punched the numbers, he saw a city bus rounding the turn onto the bridge. The bus drove slowly along the edge of the right lane. As it neared the woman, he saw the front accordion door open. Then suddenly--almost too fast to see if his eyes hadnít been riveted on the scene--the driver, in one continuous motion, stopped, leaned out of the open door, grabbed the womanís arm from behind, and pulled her backward into his bus. My friend sat down, shaking slightly, and replaced the telephone receiver in its cradle. He thought about what heíd seen. And because he was a reflective person, he thought about what he had done. As he explained to me later, he realized that his response to the life-or-death situation of this stranger, this woman, had been to mobilize the complex human services system set up and ready to deal with such situations. That is what anyone would do, would they not? But the bus driver had responded completely differently . . . He had seen the situation and had immediately done something himself.Ē (Who Cares? Rediscovering Community, David Schwartz, pages 1,2)
When you and I see things happening to others, whether that be imminent danger or simply the fact that they need a helping hand, we have choices. We can respond with help or deny that help. Pushing the responsibility on others, whether that be government or our neighbor, is really a poor substitute for reacting boldly out of Christian love for those in need. We live in a society that has conditioned us to react from a distance, to withhold personal contact and avoid personal responsibility. Perhaps thatís the way the Edomites felt when they saw their brothers, the sons of Jacob, being invaded and put to the sword. Even though they were not part of the cause, they could have been part of the cure. They did not lift a hand, however, to take up a sword for Jacob. Maybe they thought others would do it. Whatever the case, their choice resulted in Godís condemnation and wrath. It is not only a sin to commit harm, it is also a sin to ignore it. May our love for others always motivate action not idle good will. If not us, then who?