Summary: What will our destiny be? It will be what God designed it to be - an eternity of joy for those who love & follow Him; & an eternity of separation for those who reject His love & turn their back to Him. (PowerPoints Available - #290)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoints use with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at email@example.com & request #290.)
ILL. In 1386 there was born in an obscure village in Italy a little boy whose name was Donatello. By the time he was 3 years old, he would go into the back yard, take sand & water, & with his chubby little hands pat that sand into likenesses of his father & mother.
The neighbors said that the gods had kissed his fingers & they prophesied that some day Donatello would become famous. They were right. He became one of the best sculptors in the world.
He could take a chunk of marble, & with the artistry of his mallet & chisel, that marble would become a thing of beauty. It was said that since the days of Ancient Greece there had never lived a man so gifted as he.
The story has been told that one day the great painter, Leonardo Da Vinci, came by & looked at one of Donatello's statues & said, "This is wonderful. Why, all it lacks to keep it from being perfect is . . ." & he never finished his sentence because the friends of Donatello stopped him.
They said, "You can't talk against the master. You can't criticize him."
The week that Donatello died he sent for Da Vinci. Da Vinci came to his bedside. The master of the chisel looked up into the face of the master of the brush & said,
"Da Vinci, you're the only man in all Italy who ever criticized my statues. You said they lacked just one thing of being perfect. I wish I could have found you when I was younger. I wish I could have known the one thing that would have made my statues perfect."
Da Vinci then paid him the greatest compliment ever paid to a sculptor.
He said, "Donatello, they didn't let me finish. I wasn't criticizing you. I looked at that marvelous statue, & it seemed as if it almost breathed. What I started to say was, 'All it lacks is the power of speech.' It was a compliment," he said, "not a criticism."
SUM. I feel that I lack the power of speech to do justice to this morning's subject. Destiny! Eternity! No wonder the poet wrote, "Eternity, thou pleasing dreadful thought."
ILL. Now please don't take what I tell you now the wrong way. You see, for several years I have been contributing some of my sermons to a preacher's website called "Sermon Central." They inform me that all-together other preachers & teachers have clicked on & read one or more of my sermons nearly 9 & 1/2 million times.
And about 4 years ago we got these big TV screens & I began preparing PowerPoint slides to display the scriptures & main points of my sermons. So whenever I contributed a sermon to Sermon Central I began mentioning that the PowerPoints used with that sermon were also available.
Since then I have received nearly 18,000 emails from preachers & teachers about my sermons, often requesting copies of the PowerPoint presentations, which I have gladly sent.
As a result, I have also received many notes of appreciation, along with some questions & invitations.
However, I want to mention a couple of emails I received in the past few weeks. One writer said, "It sure is good to read some old-timey sermons again!" Another one wrote, "I love reading your sermons and the sermons of a lost and forgotten era."
Wait a minute! "Old-timey sermons," "Sermons of a lost & forgotten era." I know I'm old, but just what did they mean by that?
Well, maybe they mean the same thing that a woman in Brownsville, TX, meant who came down every year from Nebraska to spend the winter there. She is a member of a certain "main-line" denomination, but when she was in Brownsville she always attended the church where I was preaching.
One Sunday morning, while I was at the door after the service was over, she told me, "It is really good to hear the Bible being preached again!" I knew what she meant, but I replied, "Well, what else?"
She answered, "Back home my preacher always preaches from the Reader's Digest." She went on to tell me that he very seldom even mentions the Bible.
That reminds me also of a preacher I knew some years ago in St. Louis County who was the minister of a prominent church in his suburban community. He was in my office & I was showing him how I indexed & filed my sermons.
Suddenly he remarked, "According to this, you preach most of all about Jesus." Then he told me, "I have never preached a sermon about Jesus." And when I asked him why, he replied, "I don't know anything about Jesus."