Sermon Illustrations

When I was in the military ministry I knew a retiree friend that worked at a local antique shop. I ran into him at a local furniture store one day and he proceeded to tell me the secrets to separating the true antiques from the clever reproductions.

He showed me a four drawer dresser and he challenged me to tell him whether it was real or fake. It was dark cherry red and it looked very old. I gazed over the workmanship and the ornate carving into the wood. I ran my hands over the finish and looked under the legs. I opened all the drawers and slid them out and examined them. I unscrewed the knobs and looked at the metal screws that connected them to the wood. After my thourough searching I could only conclude this was a genuine article.

My buddy smiled and told me that the average consumer was accustomed to the look of modern machined furniture and often were fooled by their preconceived notions. A smooth finish was a dead giveaway that modern power tools were used. A shallow scratch showed the pale raw wood underneath. My friend told me that milk paint was used to coat antique furniture which would seep deep into the wood for an enduring finish. A slight scratch would not reveal naked wood. The dresser drawers I examined were finished with a nice stain even to the backs. Old furniture makers never bothered to coat the areas that would not show. My friend had demonstrated to me that clever forgeries exist and to be on the watch for them. Later that week I went into another antique store and after applying my friend’s techniques I found to my amazement that most of the "antique furniture" was fraudulent.

The Bible speaks to us in Matthew 25:31 about fraudulent children of God. In this vivid account of the last judgement the true children are called sheep and the frauds are called goats. The measure that God used to determine the difference was their actions. The sheep clothed the...

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