Illustration results for wise men
HISTORY IS STORY OF UNFORSEEN
In the introduction to his A History of Europe, H.A.L. Fisher writes:
"Men wiser and more learned than I have discovered in history a plot, a rhythm, a predetermined pattern. But these harmonies are concealed from me. I can see only one emergency following another, as wave follows upon wave--there can be no generalization. There is only one safe rule for the historian--that he should recognize in the development of human destiny the play of the contingent and the unforeseen."
ó Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations ó
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1 Thessalonians 5:12-28:28
THE DANGER OF SPIRITUAL PROCRASTINATION
There is a fable which tells of three apprentice devils who were coming to this earth to finish their apprenticeship. They were talking to Satan, the chief of the devils, about their plans to tempt and to ruin men. The first said, "I will tell them that there is no God."
Satan said, "That will not delude many, for they know that there is a God."
The second said, "I will tell men that there is no hell."
Satan answered, "You will deceive no one that way; men know even now that there is a hell for sin."
The third said, "I will tell men that there is no hurry."
"Go," said Satan, "and you will ruin men by the thousands."
The most dangerous of all delusions is that there is plenty of time.
(William Barclay: The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 2 [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], p. 317. From a sermon by Matthew Kratz, The parable of the Faithful & Wise Servant, 7/17/2010)
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"A little boy is on the beach. On his knees he scoops and packs the sand with plastic shovels into a bright red bucket. Then he upends the bucket on the surface and lifts it. And, to the delight of the little architect, a castle tower is created.
"All afternoon he will work. Spooning out the moat. Packing the walls. Bottle tops will be sentries. Popsicle sticks will be bridges. A sandcastle will be built.
"Big city. Busy streets. Rumbling traffic.
"A man in his office. At his desk he shuffles papers into stacks and delegates assignments. He cradles the phone on his shoulder and punches the keyboard with his fingers. Numbers are juggled and contracts are signed and much to the delight of the man, a profit is made.
"All his life he will work. Formulating the plans. Forecasting the future. Annuities will be sentries. Capital gains will be bridges. An empire will be built.
"Two builders of two castles. They have much in common. They shape granules into grandeurs. They see nothing and make something. They are diligent and determined. And for both the tide will rise and the end will come.
"Yet that is where the similarities cease. For the boy sees the end while the man ignores it. Watch the boy as the dusk approaches.
"As the waves near, the wise child jumps to his feet and begins to clap. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. He knew this would happen. He is not surprised. And when the great breaker crashes into his castle and his masterpiece is sucked into the sea, he smiles. He smiles, picks up his tools, takes his father's hand, and goes home.
"The grownup, however, is not so wise. As the wave of years collapses on his castle he is terrified. He hovers over the sandy monument to protect it. He blocks the waves from the walls he has made. Salt-water soaked and shivering he snarls at the incoming tide.
"'It's my castle,' he defies.
"The ocean need not respond. Both know to whom the sand belongs...
"And I don't know much about sandcastles. But children do. Watch them and learn. Go ahead and build, but build with a child's heart. When the sun sets and the tides take -- applaud. Salute the process of life, take your Father's hand and go home"
(Max Lucado, More Stories for the Heart (Multnomah: Sisters, Oregon, 1997), 224-225. From a sermon by Eric Lenhart, Seasons of Life, 8/16/2010)
GETTING PAST YOUR PAST
Consider Charles Colson, the aide to Richard Nixon who was sent to jail for Watergate. As as a result of his experience as a convicted felon, Colson founded Prison Fellowship, now the worldís largest Christian outreach to prisoners and their families. Prison Fellowship has more than 50,000 volunteers working in hundreds of prisons in 88 countries around the world. A ministry that has blessed millions of people got started twenty-five years ago because Charles Colson committed a crime. Godís eternal purposes for that man included even the sin that sent him to prison. It was a part of Godís plan from the very beginning.
But the story that matters most to you isnít Peterís, or Paulís, or even Charles Colsonís. Itís yours. And what I want to say to you this morning is that the story of your life has not been ruined, not by your sin or anyone elseís. Godís good plan for your life is not buried under the mistakes of the past. God has a plan for your life, a good plan, a wise plan, a loving plan, a sovereign plan, and that plan is still in effect. You havenít missed it. He is working ...
Whenever a farmer in western Kansas buys a new truck or combine or something, they are hesitant to bring it out or tell anyone about it. Iím not quite sure why that is - but I think a part of it is they donít want the other farmers to get jealous over what theyíve got and they donít want to come off as arrogant. So they keep it to themselves as long as possible, or just donít buy new trucks so as not to come off as being better than their neighbors. It seems rather ridiculous to a point - almost like a false modesty. If God has blessed you with the ability to get a new truck and you are still generous with your offerings and giving, why canít you let people see your gift from God? Why canít you use it? As long as you arenít arrogant and flashy about it, why not enjoy it? Let them look at it and do the ďoohs and aahs.Ē
Mary realized that there is no way she could keep this gift hidden in a garage - that it wasnít just a gift for her - but for the world. She had to admit the bare truth of the matter - she had been given a wonderful gift. She said, From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for meó holy is his name. Soon after she gave birth, she would realize what a PUBLIC thing this was. Shepherds first came and then told all kinds of people about it. So they came and saw the baby. Then Wise Men came some months later. Here she had all these strangers coming in their house and visiting the manger on the same night as the birth, but she didnít say, ďcome back tomorrow - I just gave birth for crying out loud.Ē She knew that all generations would know about this birth, but she didnít want to be arrogant and flashy about it. She wanted to make sure that they kept the praise where it belonged - to the Mighty One - for doing great things for her. She didnít want any of the credit.
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Ravi Zacharias told about doing a lectureship several years ago at the Ohio State University. As he was being driven to the lecture, they passed what was then the "new" Wexner Art Center. The driver commented, "This is a new art building for the university. It is a fascinating building designed in the post-modernist view of reality."
Zacharias described this fascinating building. He said, "The building has no pattern. Staircases go nowhere. Pillars support nothing. The architect designed the building to reflect [the post-modernist view of] life. It went nowhere and was mindless and senseless.
Zacharias said, "I turned to the man describing it and asked, 'Did they do the same thing with the foundation?'" And the man laughed [and answered]: "You can't do that with a foundation."
Jesus says that the person who builds on the firm foundation is "wise." Prov. 4:7 -- "Wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding." Prov. 9:10 -- "The fear of the LORD is the beginning, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
How does Jesus define the person who is a wise builder? He describes the wise builder as a person who hears the word of God and is then faithful in doing the word of God.
(From a sermon by Michael Luke, Building Your Life in the New Year, 5/5/2011)
THE WEAK WILL SHAME THE WISE
We have to come to the realization that life is much more than brokenness. According to Godís word, we are vessels of honor which contain the power and glory of the Christ. I, too, have had a problem with such thinking throughout the years. How can I, a vessel of honor for God, be fractured and imperfect?
But then I recall biblical characters such as King David. Truly he was a vessel of honor. He was a man after Godís own heart. He embodied the tenacity and fortitude to lift honorable praise and adoration to his fortress and shelter, God. But yet I can also recall that even David had his failures and his times of disgrace. He, too, was known for his immorality in the forms of adultery, conspiracy, murder and concealment of the facts. Even so, God still used David for his glory and honor by allowing him to pen such beautiful words as the Psalms. Beyond that, after seeking forgiveness and repenting openly, God permitted him to continue as Israelís greatest leader of all times.
Then there was Moses, a mighty man of valor. A man that took great thought towards his leadership capabilities and the responsibility he had as a caretaker. So overwhelmed with his job that he, too, overstep his bounds and crossed the line. Through a moment of anger he slew the life of a fellow human being and then ran to hide from his crime. Yet, God saw fit, after years of softening his heart in the fields of shepherding, to call him forth as a powerful deliverer of his own people, Israel.
Even during that journey from Egypt to Canaan, along with those he was leading, was disobedient to a gracious God and still had to suffer a few consequences for those choices. Yet, God never left them helpless and alone.
There is also the Saul who thought that he was confident he was doing God justice by persecuting the early church and its leadership; sometimes even leading to stoning to the death those who called themselves ďChristians,Ē followers of the Christ. He felt warranted to do such inhumane mistreatment by Godís mandate to sustain his cases of harassment against these so called ďperverters of the Law of God.Ē
But once blinded by the light of the Christ on the road to Damascus and a definite change of heart, Saul became Paul, one of the greatest apostles of all times. He was encouraged to found numerous churches throughout Asia Minor and credited for such, even in Spain. He also was granted the right to author several letters that made their way into the canon of writings that now make up the New Testament.
And we certainly canít overlook the ladies either. Mary Magdalene, even though her life apparently started out on the wrong foot and she most likely had chosen a questionable livelihood, she still became one of the most prominent disciples of Jesus. She was so thankful for his life-giving and life-changing teachings, that she relinquished her past and became a new person in and through him. And then she finally was privileged to be one of the first evangelists that early Easter morning after speaking to her Lord in the garden.
Listen carefully again to a portion of our text for today: ďGod has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen.Ē
Yes God has always used worn, broken clay vessels for his honor and glory and still does. God has not changed, he still takes what we given him, our imperfections and flaws and remakes us into useful earthen pots that contain the precious gospel on the Christ. He then grants you and me the tenacity and fortitude to lift honorable praise and adoration to his fortress and shelter, God. He has given to us the call to be deliverers of those bound in the chains of sinfulness through the use of the message of salvation entrusted to us. In His fullest of intentions, God also wants you and me to be great messengers of the faith, telling all those about us of the justifying acts of God through his own Son, Jesus, the Christ. He has privileged us with the ability to become evangelists beginning in our own homes, families and neighborhoods, sharing the Good News that Jesus is alive and well and that he still wants to be their and our friend, no matter where we may have come from or what kind of life we have lived.
Remember, God is still using our foolish lives to discredit those who are pretentious and haughty. He has selected those who think of themselves ineffectual and inadequate to amaze those who believe they are immovable and invincible. He elects to use those the world often classifies as infamous and unlovable.
Persian Legend - Pour Water Into Basket
A certain king needed a faithful servant and had to choose between two candidates for the office. He took both at fixed wages and told them to fill a basket with water from a nearby well, saying that he would come in the evening to inspect their work.
After dumping one or two buckets of water into the basket, one of the men said, "What is the good of doing this useless work? As soon as we pour the water in, it runs out the sides."
The other answered, "But we have our wages, havenít we? The use is the masterís business, not ours. He is a wise King, and must have his own purpose that we do not understand."
"Iím not going to do such foolís work," replied the complainer. Throwing down his bucket, he went away.
The other man continued until he had drained the well. Looking down into it, he saw something shining at the bottom - it was a diamond ring....
A man by the name of Max DePree related the following heart-touching story:
Esther, my wife, and I have a granddaughter named Zoe, the Greek word for life. She was born prematurely and weighed one pound, seven ounces, so small that my wedding ring could slide up her arm to her shoulder. The neonatologist who first examined her told us that she had a 5 to 10 percent chance of living three days. When Esther and I scrubbed up for our first visit and saw Zoe in her isolette in the neonatal intensive care unit, she had two IVs in her navel, one in her foot, a monitor on each side of her chest, and a respirator tube and a feeding tube in her mouth.
To complicate matters, Zoe’s biological father had jumped ship the month before Zoe was born. Realizing this, a wise and caring nurse named Ruth gave me my instructions.
"For the next several months, at least, you’re the surrogate father. I want you to come to the hospital every day to visit Zoe, and when you come, I want you to rub her body and her legs and arms with the tip of your finger. While you’re caressing her, you should tell her over and over how much you love her, because she has to be able to connect your voice to your touch."
God knew that we also needed both his voice and his touch. So he gave us not only the Word but also his Son. And he gave us not only Jesus Christ but also his body, the church. God’s voice and touch say, "I love you."
During the American Civil War fought between the years 1861 - 1865, over
600,000 soldiers from the South died, but a heartfelt prayer that survived
was the Prayer of the Unknown Confederate Soldier, a soldier°¶s unrequited but
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey...
I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity that I might do better things...
I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty that I might be wise...
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God...
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things...
I got nothing that I asked for- but everything I hoped for,
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men, most richly blessed.