Summary: I’m convinced that if we want to have the resources we’ll need for a time of crisis, then there are some preparations that each of us must make. (*PowerPoint available - #246)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
(Changed e-mail address: PowerPoint slides used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request - #246.)
ILL. Claudia was a newlywed in her 20’s when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease & given only a 50% chance of survival. Quickly she was operated on & began cobalt treatments that transformed her almost overnight from a young, beautiful woman to a physical wreck.
Her husband was a chaplain’s assistant in a hospital & had seen many sick & dying patients. He said, "In the movies, couples who have fought for years, in the face of danger suddenly forget their differences & come together. But it doesn’t necessarily work that way in real life."
"When a couple encounters a crisis," he said, "it magnifies what’s already present in their relationship. Since Claudia & I trust God & love each other deeply, the crisis drove us closer. . . The crisis of her illness merely … intensified the feelings already present."
Claudia & her husband had no idea they would ever face such a crisis, but when it happened, they found they had already developed the strength to weather it.
(Adapted from “Hope For the Troubled heart” by Billy Graham)
Now what about us, here today? Most of us will probably never experience the enormity of the crisis that Claudia & her husband faced. But still, there will be some storms, some heartaches, some decisions, some gut-wrenching moments that have the potential for bringing us into a life-changing crisis.
What will we do then? Will we be prepared to face it? Will we have the inner resources that we need? And if not, then how can we prepare ourselves for that day?
PROP. I’m convinced that if we want to have the resources we’ll need for a time of crisis, then each of us must make our preparations for that day.
I. MAKE SURE OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
A. And the very first preparation we need is to make sure of our relationship with God, that Jesus is our Savior, & that we’re walking with Him day by day.
ILL. The Bible gives us some vivid examples: Abraham walked with God & was called “a friend of God.” Noah walked with God, & when the flood came he & his family were saved. Moses walked with God in the desert, & God prepared him to lead his people to freedom.
David walked with God as a shepherd boy, & when called upon to rule his people, he was prepared for the task. Daniel was saved from the lion’s den, & his friends were spared from the fiery furnace.
B. But God does not always pull His children out of the fire. Stephen was a young man "full of faith & of the Holy Spirit" [Acts 6:5] when he was stoned to death. But his entry into Heaven was triumphal.
Look at the fate of some of the apostles: Peter was crucified upside down; Andrew was tied to a cross with thick ropes for 3 days before he died; John was a prisoner on a desolate island; Bartholomew was beaten & then beheaded; Thomas was murdered while he was preaching.
These men literally walked with God, & they suffered. But with their lives they echoed the words of Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - & not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing" [2 Timothy 4:7-8].
Although we were not present with them nearly 2,000 years ago, we have access to the same strength they had. And as we walk with our Lord, & come to know Him better day by day, we, too, can say with them, "For to me, to live is Christ & to die is gain" [Philippians 1:21].
II. OPEN OUR BIBLE & USE IT AS A GUIDE FOR OUR LIFE
Secondly, we need to open our Bible & use it as a guide for our daily life. I wonder what has happened to Bible memorization? Children in Sunday school used to have verses to memorize in order to win a Bible. Adult Bible studies used to have passages to commit to memory. But today there are more people who know the words to TV commercials than know any words in the Bible.
ILL. Russell Morse, one of the great missionaries along the China/Burma border, was taken captive by Chinese communists in 1951, & imprisoned for 21 months.
They told him that his wife & youngest son had been killed, & for 15 of those months he was in an isolation cell, cut off from any outside contact. They broke his glasses & shoved him into that cramped cell without his Bible or any other book. Twice a day a bowl of food was pushed through a slot in his cell door, but he never saw a face or heard a human voice.