Sermon Illustrations

My in-laws—Harold and Dorothy Wills—retired here to the Bloomsburg area back in 1987. They knew of Bloomsburg because their daughter, Kathy, married Charlie and Kay Dyer’s son, Charlie. Barb and I were living in Washington, DC when Barb’s parents moved to Bloomsburg. And so we would make an annual pilgrimage up here to Bloomsburg to visit. That’s how we got to know about Shiloh Bible Church. This was the church my in-laws were attending. And we would attend here when we came up to visit. Well, one winter—back in 1989—Barb decided to take our son Joel—who was only a few years old at the time—and come up here to Bloomsburg to visit Grandma and Grandpa Wills. Barb left on a Thursday and was to return to Washington on the following Tuesday.

Well, when Barb would go away, I always made sure I kept the apartment clean. If I dirtied a dish, I would wash it and put it away. When I finished reading a book, I would put it back in its place on the shelf. Well, this particular time that Barb went to her parents was an extremely busy and hectic time for me. Between my duties as Dean of Students at the college and seminary, and the courses I was teaching at the college, and the churches I was preaching at on the weekend, I was on the run. And I didn’t do what I would normally do. I let the apartment go. There were dirty dishes piled up in the sink, books scattered around the apartment, clothes on the floor, bed unmade—the place was a mess. On Sunday morning I looked around and said, “After I get home from church, I’ll clean the place up.” But when I got home from preaching I was so tired that I just took a nap in the afternoon instead. I got up and started getting ready to go to another church to preach in their evening service. I looked around at the mess and said, “No big deal. I’ll just come home a little early tomorrow from the office and clean the place really nice so it will look good when Barb comes home on Tuesday.” Well, just as I was about to leave to go preach that evening, the phone rang. It was Barb. I said, “Hi, honey. How are things at your mom and dad’s?” Barb said, “Everything was fine. We had a nice visit. But I decided to come back a little early.” I said, “How early?” Barb said, “Well, we’re in York right now and so we should be home in 2 hours.” I said, “Oh, isn’t that wonderful.” I hung up the phone. What was I supposed to do? I didn’t have time to go to the church, preach, and come back to clean before Barb returned. And I couldn’t call the church and cancel my preaching so I could stay home to clean. I thought that I could perhaps go to the church, preach the shortest sermon on record, drive back home and try to clean up as best as possible before Barb arrived. But I realized that that wouldn’t work. So I resigned myself to the fact that Barb would return to an apartment that looked like a tornado had ripped through it.

When I returned from church that evening, Barb met me at the door. She looked at me and said, “What in the world happened here?” And so I looked at Barb and I did what any self-respecting husband would do. I blamed her. I said, “You weren’t supposed to come home until Tuesday!” Well, we spent the rest of the night cleaning the apartment. But I mean to tell you—had I known that Barb was returning Sunday, I would have had the apartment clean on Sunday. But she came back unexpectedly, and I wasn’t ready.

Listen, Jesus is coming again. He will return. But He hasn’t told us when He will return. So we need to be ready. We need to keep our lives clean and in order at all times. Knowing that Jesus could return at any moment motivates us to live a pure life. As John says in 1 John 3:3: “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” Our position produces purity.