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Contributed By:
Glen O'Brien
 
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Jesus took the deaf mute man aside, away from the crowd, stuck his fingers in the mans’ ears and spat on his tongue. What Jesus was doing here of course was touching the affected areas. He put his fingers in the man’s ears because this was the location of his disability. He spat and touched his tongue because it was here that the secondary effect of deafness was located- his inability to speak clearly. He wasn’t completely mute but his deafness had made it impossible for him to speak well.

These were invasive procedures, as healing cures often are. No one likes to go to the doctor and be prodded and probed but we submit to it because our health is at stake and we want to be well again. When I first met with an orthopaedic surgeon regarding my hip replacement I found him impersonal, gruff and downright unlikeable. I mentioned this to my GP who is quite the opposite kind of doctor and he said, ”Yes, surgeons; are often like that; They prefer their patients unconscious.”

Well Jesus is the perfect combination of GP and surgeon. He knows how to show understanding and compassion. He prefers his patients, not unconscious, but alive and well. At the same time he knows every medical procedure in the book, and he has all the specialist information to address whatever it is that ails you.

 
Contributed By:
Thomas Cash
 
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GO BEYOND THE CROSS

Every year, thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the "stations of the cross" to stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought through the rough thicket and, to his surprise, came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolized the empty tomb. It was neglected. The brush had grown up around it. Almost everyone had gone as far as the cross, but there they stopped.

Far too many have gotten to the cross and have known the despair and the heart break. Far too few have moved beyond the cross to find the real message of Easter. That is the message of the empty tomb.

(Lavonn Brown, "The Other Half of the Rainbow," submitted by Michael Adams, First Baptist Church, Union City, TN.)

 
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Sermon Central Staff
 
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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)

 
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THE MAN WHO’D DIE FOR HER-- COMMUNION MEDITATION

On the southern border of the empire of Cyrus, there lived a great chieftain named Cagular who tore to shreds and completely defeated the various detachments of Cyrus’ army sent to subdue him. Finally the emperor, amassing his whole army, marched down, surrounded Cagular, captured him, and brought him to the capital for execution. On the day of the trial, he and his family were brought to the judgment chamber - Cagular, a fine looking man of more than 6 feet, with a noble manner about him - a magnificent specimen of a man. So impressed was Cyrus with his appearance, that he said to Cagular: "What would you do should I spare your life?"

"Your Majesty, if you spared my life, I would return to my home and remain your obedient servant as long as I lived."

"What would you do if I spared the life of your wife?"

"Your Majesty, if you spared the life of my wife, I would die for you."

So moved was the emperor that he freed them both and returned Cagular to his province to act as governor thereof. Upon arriving at home, Cagular reminisced about the trip with his wife. "Did you notice," he said to his wife, "the marble at the entrance of the palace? Did you notice the tapestry on the wall as we went down the corridor into the throne room? And did you see the chair on which the emperor sat? It must have been carved from one lump of pure gold."

His wife could appreciate his excitement and how impressed he was with it all, but she only replied: "I really didn’t notice any of that."
"Well," said Cagular in amazement, "What did you see?"

His wife looked seriously into his eyes and said, "I beheld only the face of the man who sai...

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Contributed By:
Christopher Lanham
 
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PUTTING THE DOG IN DOGMA

The pit bull, as you may know, is bred to be a fighter. But what you may not know is what they were originally bred to fight with. The pit bull is a actually a mutt that made good -- having terrier and mastiff breeds in its line. From the mastiff side of the tree, they are descended from bulldogs, which in pre-industrial England were farm dogs. You know what they were used for? To protect the farmer from the bull when he was trying feed, castrate or breed him. If the bull turned to gore the farmer the bull dog would subdue the bull "by biting the bull on the nose and holding on until the bull submitted. Because of the nature of their job, bulldogs were bred to have powerful, muscular bodies, and the resolve to hold onto a violently-struggling bull, even when injured."

That's the sort of picture that Paul is drawing for Timothy here with words like "keep," "guard," and "entrust." Timothy, grab hold of this Gospel, this doctrine, this dogma and do not let go no matter how violently life shakes. Latch on to it as if your life and the life of those you shepherd depend on it; like a bulldog protecting the farmer from the bull. Put the dog in dogma, Timothy.

 
Contributed By:
Jim Butcher
 
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When Rembrandt’s famous painting, The Night Watch, was restored and returned to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, the curators performed a simple, yet remarkable experiment. They asked visitors to submit questions about the painting. The curators then prepared answers to over 50 questions, ranking the questions according to popularity.
Some of these questions focused on issues which curators usually don’t like to include:
How much does the painting cost? Has this painting ever been forged? Are there mistakes in the painting? Other questions focused on traditional artistic issues: Why did Rembrandt paint the subject? Who were the people in the painting? What techniques did Rembrandt pioneer in the particular work?
In a room next to the gallery which held the painting, the curators papered the walls with these questions (and answers). Visitors had to pass through this room before entering the gallery.
The curious outcome was that the average length of time people spent viewing the painting increased from six minutes to over half an hour. Visitors alternated between reading questions and answers and examining the painting. They said that the questions encouraged them to look longer, to look closer, and to remember more. The questions helped them create richer ideas about the painting and to see the painting in new ways. (Source: Bits and Pieces)

 
Contributed By:
Scott Weber
 
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TOO LATE IN A TERRIBLE WAY

You can’t read the article that appeared in the Atlanta Journal, June 5, 1997 without some remorse and sympathy for Clarence Jackson.
"The clock struck midnight, and Clarence Jackson didn’t turn into a millionaire." Jackson, who is 24, works in a small cleaning business in Hartford, Connecticut to help support his elderly parents. He won the Connecticut Lotto jackpot in October 1995. It was worth 5.8 million dollars. He submitted the ticket three days after the one year deadline.
He had given the ticket to his ailing father and didn’t realize it was a winner until fifteen minutes before the deadline. He didn’t know he could verify the ticket at his local lotto dealer. Instead, he waited until Monday to redeem the ticket at lotto headquarters. It was too late. The Connecticut House of Representatives voted 82-63 to award Jackson the money. Senator Alvin Penn refused to allow the bill to come to the floor of the Senate, and thus the bill died. Representative Michael Lawlor said, "Give the guy the money . . . You say we can’t change the rules. That’s all we do here is change the rules! We’re the Legislature." Jackson left the Connecticut State Capitol a dejected man.
What’s it like to be too late and lose 5.8 million dollars? I don’t know - but it would be devastating. But it wouldn’t be nearly as devastating as being too late for the return of Jesus.

SOURCE: Scott Weber. Citation: Atlanta Journal, June 5, 1997.

 
Contributed By:
Mark Brunner
 
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“Mercy Resting Upon Wrath!” John 8: 12-20 Key verse(s): 16: “‘But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.’”

The young man sat before the bench, head held low, hands hanging loosely at his side. His crime had been serious and parents, family and all who knew him had been shocked by what he had done. The jury had found him guilty on all charges and now all that remained to be done was for the judge to pass sentence. As the judge entered the courtroom and order was called, those present, including the young man, arose. As everyone returned to their seats, the young man heard the words that he had been dreading: “The defendant will rise and face the court.” The moment had come and he knew that his entire future now rested in the hands of the man he was now facing.

The judge repeated the charges and reiterated the finding of guilty by the jury on each charge. The young man winced as each charge and finding was repeated. “On the charge of aiding and abetting a criminal act involving the transportation of stolen goods, the defendant has been found guilty. On the charge of evading an officer, the defendant has been found guilty. On the charge of possession of a fireman, the defendant has been found guilty. On the charge of . . .” The charges, six in all, echoed throughout the young man’s mind. How would he ever be able to face his parents, his friends, and especially his girl friend again? Would the judge be lenient since he had never been in trouble before? Would he receive prison time and, if so, how much? What would prison be like? As the judge rattled on, the scene in the courtroom became surreal, almost like a bad dream. He lifted his face toward the bench as the judge finished his recitation “ . . . you have been found guilty” and paused.

The judge brought his eyes directly into focus on the defendant as he began his sentencing. “I hope that you know the seriousness of what you have done. James Rogers, you have affected the lives of your parents and everyone who loves you. The law is very specific in demonstrating how serious your offenses are. The penalties it calls for in these circumstances are not lenient. However, this is your first offense and I believe that you are sorry for what you have done. You have shown great remorse in the course of this trial. The character witnesses that were called in your defense spoke highly of you. I have spoken with your parents and have come to the conclusion that there will be no repeat of this behavior. Therefore, I sentence you to one year of probation and two hundred hours of community service.” With those words the young man suddenly felt a cooling sense of relief filter down from his head to his toes. His knees wobbled and he grabbed for his attorney’s coat sleeve feeling that in a moment he might collapse under the strain of the situation.

Following these comforting words, the judge’s merciful countenance slowly began to change. With a stern look toward the young man he added, “It is my job to protect society from those who seek to harm her. It is also my job to uphold the law and punish those who disobey that law.” He then asked the young man to approach the bench. James wondered if there would be additional punishment since the judge was deliberately writing something down on a piece of paper. He folded it and placed it within an envelope. “James, within this envelope are the penalties that I could have brought to bear on you today. I want you to go home and read them over with your parents. And, remember, even though it is my job to show mercy when I feel that it is warranted, if you disregard that mercy I will be forced to do exactly what is written on this sheet of paper....

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Former heavyweight boxer James (Quick) Tillis was a cowboy from Oklahoma who fought out of Chicago in the early 1980’s. Years later, he still remembers his first day in the Windy City after his arrival from Tulsa. "I got off the bus with two cardboard suitcases under my arms in downtown Chicago and stopped in front of the Sears Tower. I put my suitcases down and I looked up at the Sears Tower and I said to myself, ’I’m going to conquer Chicago.’" "When I looked down, my suitcases were gone." Submitted by Robert Jarboe, Wabash, Indiana (crosswalk.com)

 
Contributed By:
Joel Vicente
 
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SAILING AWAY
A personal testimony.
Inspired by His calling, Joel Vicente. -------


I was secure at home when I heard the voice from the Captain exclaim,
"Come follow me. Go where I send you. No need to fear. I will be with you."
I asked, "But Captain, may I remain here on the shore where it is safe and help other sailors discover their way?" The voice echoed,
"Come after me. You’ll reach distant lands. No need to fear. You’ll be in my hands."
My plans did not include a journey to a strange land, so I again questioned the Captain. "How can I travel so far away if I am not skilled? What will I discover there?" The Captain advised me,
"This is my plan. Adding wisdom to your measure. Abide with me. You’ll find a hidden treasure."
I announced my venture as I said farewell to my yesterdays. These yesterdays included my family, friends, and dreams. The memories from home were cherished. Nevertheless, I would never return to repeat them. My departure became certain as I abandoned everything I knew to be familiar. So we sailed southward; I was unaware of my destination. Suddenly, I heard a roaring from the wind. I felt the crashing of waves and heard a whisper from the Captain say,
"Trust in Me. Do not fear. I’m with you. I’ll be near.”
The winds viscously forced me off the ship. The waves violently embraced me. I struggled in the grip of darkness. Below me was an endless void of despair. I yelled, "Captain, help me before I drown!" I heard no response. I reached for the ship and an outstretched arm took hold of mine and lifted me to safety. I appealed to the Captain, "You said do not fear. You said you would be with me. Why did I fall?" The Captain replied,
"Submit to My purpose. Surrender to My plan. Endure what surrounds you. With My strength you can."
The ship sailed on until it came to a sudden stop. I noticed that the anchor was launched. Ahead of the ship was an immense storm. I asked the Captain, "Why don’t we turn away from the storm?" The Captain replied,
“Keep watch for the calm. Storms are mysteries. Listen close to their secrets. In them are victories.”
At that moment, the storm leaped on me knocking me to the lower deck. The winds swept me back and forth like a pendulum. I had nothing to hold on to. I again shouted for the Captain. “Save me, before I go under!” As I glanced into the Captain’s quarters, there He slept as if the storm was my imagination. Ultimately, the storm would cease. I asked the Captain how He could sleep in the middle of the storm? Again I was replied to with silence. The Captain appeared to look right through my examination. Then the Captain handed me a compass. I read the engraved message, "Follow my direction, and do not fear for I am with you. When you don’t see Me, trust Me, when you don’t hear Me, remember my promises." I looked intently at the compass and the Captain appeaed to be gone. I felt alone on the ship. Just then, I saw someone else drowning in the same waves, so I reached out my hand and lifted him to safety. The lost gentleman thanked me and asked where my courage came from. I was beginning to discover the mysteries that the Captain was displaying. While we spoke, I noticed that another ship was headed toward the same storm that I just survived. So I jumped from my ship and anxiously swam to the other vessel. I yelled as if my volume would exceed that of the coming storm. I warned them of their direction into danger and they turned to safer shores. I then discerned the secrets that the storm was revealing. I found the victory in saving others. This was my hidden treasure!

 
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