Faithlife Sermons


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eports the Denver Post: "Like many sheep ranchers in the West, Lexy Fowler has tried just about everything to stop crafty coyotes from killing her sheep. She has used odor sprays, electric fences, and 'scare-coyotes.' She has slept with her lambs during the summer and has placed battery-op­erated radios near them. She has corralled them at night, herded them at day. But the southern Montana rancher has lost scores of lambs — fifty last year alone.

"Then she discovered the llama — the aggressive, funny-looking, afraid-of-nothing llama. . . . 'Llamas don't appear to be afraid of anything,' she said. 'When they see something, they put their head up and walk straight toward it. That is aggressive behavior as far as the coyote is concerned, and they won't have any­thing to do with that. . . . Coyotes are opportunists, and llamas take that op­portunity away.' "

Apparently llamas know the truth of what James writes: "Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you" (4:7). The moment we sense his attack through tempta­tion is the moment we should face it and deal with it for what it is.

— Barry McGee Denver, Colorado

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uarterback Tony Rice led Notre Dame's foot­ball team to a national championship in 1988. Before the season, sportswriters wondered whether Notre Dame could beat the tough teams with a quarterback like Rice, whose passing often was inaccurate.

They didn't know that coach Lou Holtz had bought Rice a dart board and told him to practice throwing darts an hour a day. Rice didn't see how that would help his passing, but he did as his coach said. Soon he began to throw passes with more accuracy and confi­dence — both of which were evidenced in a banner season.

Christians likewise find the practice of sharing a sentence or two of testimony or prayer on a regular basis can sharpen those skills. Any activity will im­prove with practice.

— Richard C. Kauffman, Jr. Tionesta, Pennsylvania



astor Clifford S. Stewart of Louisville, Ken­tucky, sent his parents a microwave oven one Christmas. Here's how he recalls the experi­ence: "They were excited that now they, too, could be a part of the instant generation. When Dad unpacked the microwave and plugged it in, literally within seconds, the microwave transformed two smiles into frowns! Even after reading the directions, they couldn't make it work.

"Two days later, my mother was playing bridge with a friend and confessed her inability to get that microwave oven even to boil water. 'To get this darn thing to work,' she exclaimed, T really don't need better directions; I just needed my son to come along with the gift!' "

When God gave the gift of salvation, he didn't send a booklet of complicated instructions for us to figure out; he sent his Son.



he Handbook of Magazine Article Writing con­tains this illustration by Philip Barry Osborne: "Alex Haley, the author of Roots, has a picture in his office, showing a turtle sitting atop a fence. The picture is there to remind him of a lesson he learned long ago: 'If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know he had some help.'

"Says Alex, 'Any time I start thinking, Wow, isn't this marvelous what I've done! I look at that picture and remember how this turtle — me — got up on that post.' "

— Sandy Reynolds St. Catharines, Ontario

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n Pulpit Digest William H. Willimon used this illustration: "Philip Haille wrote of the little vil­lage of Le Chambon in France, a town whose peo­ple, unlike others in France, hid their Jews from the Nazis. Haille went there, wondering what sort of courageous, ethical he­roes could risk all to do such extraordinary good. He interviewed people in the village and was over­whelmed by their ordinari­ness. They weren't heroes or smart, discerning peo­ple. Haille decided that the one factor that united them was their attendance, Sunday after Sunday, at their little church, where they heard the sermons of Pastor Trochme. Over time, they became by habit peo­ple who just knew what to do and did it. When it came time for them to be courageous, the day the Nazis came to town, they quietly did what was right. One old woman, who faked a heart attack when the Nazis came to search her house, later said, 'Pastor always taught us that there comes a time in every life when a person is asked to do something for Jesus. When our time came, we knew what to do.' "

True habits of the heart are there when they are most needed.



n a sermon at Immanu-el Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, Gary Wilburn said:  "In 1636, amid the darkness of the Thirty Years' War, a Ger­man pastor, Martin Rin-kart, is said to have buried

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five thousand of his pa­rishioners in one year, an average of fifteen a day. His parish was ravaged by war, death, and economic disaster. In the heart of that darkness, with the cries of fear outside his window, he sat down and wrote this table grace for his children: 'Now thank we all our God / With heart and hands and voices; / Who wondrous things hath done, / In whom his world rejoices. / Who, from our mother's arms, / Hath led us on our way / With count­less gifts of love / And still is ours today.' "

Here was a man who knew thanksgiving comes from love of God, not from outward circumstances.

— Don Maddox Sherman Oaks, California



n Discipleship Journal, Don McCullough wrote: "John Killinger tells about the manager of a minor league baseball team who was so disgust­ed with his center fielder's performance that he or­dered him to the dugout and assumed the position himself.

"The first ball that came into center field took a bad hop and hit the manager in the mouth. The next one was a high fly ball, which he lost in the glare of the sun — until it bounced off his forehead. The third was a hard line drive that he charged with outstretched arms; unfortunately, it flew between his hands and smacked his eye.

"Furious, he ran back to the dugout, grabbed the center fielder by the uni­form, and shouted, 'You idiot! You've got center field so messed up that even I can't do a thing with it!' "



n his book of sermons The Living Faith, Lloyd C. Douglas tells the story of Thomas Hearne, who, "in his journey to the mouth of the Coppermine River, wrote that a few days after they had started on their expedition, a party of Indians stole most of their supplies. His comment on the apparent misfortune was:  'The weight of our baggage being so much lightened, our next day's journey was more swift and pleasant.'

"Hearne was in route to something very interesting and important; and the loss of a few sides of bacon and a couple of bags of flour meant nothing more than an easing of the load. Had Hearne been holed in somewhere, in a cabin, resolved to spend his last days eking out an existence, and living on capital previous­ly collected, the loss of some of his stores by plunder would probably have worried him almost to death." How we respond to "losing" some of our resources for God's work depends upon whether we are on the move or waiting for our last stand.

— Eugene L. Feagin Sharon, South Carolina



his piece was heard on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" on November 2, 1988: "In 1958, America's first commercial jet air service began with the flight of the Boeing 707. A month after that first flight, a traveler on a piston-engine, propel­ler-driven DC-6 airliner struck up a conversation with a fellow passenger. The passenger happened to be a Boeing engineer. The traveler asked the engineer about the new jet aircraft, whereupon the engineer began speaking at length about the extensive testing Boeing had done on the jet engine before bringing it into commercial service. He recounted Boeing's expe­rience with engines, from the B-17 to the B-52. When his traveling companion asked him if he himself had yet flown on the new 707 jet airliner, the engineer replied, 'I think I'll wait until it's been in service awhile.' "

Even enthusiastic talking about our faith doesn't mean much if we aren't also willing to put our lives where our mouth is.

— L. Nishan Bakalian San Francisco, California



lovis Chappell wrote in his book of sermons Feminine Faces: "When Pompeii was being excavated, there was found a body that had been embalmed by the ashes of Vesuvius. It was that of a woman. Her feet were turned toward the city gate, but her face was turned backward toward some­thing that lay just beyond her outstretched hands. The prize for which those frozen fingers were reach­ing was a bag of pearls. Maybe she herself had dropped them as she was fleeing for her life. Maybe she had found them where they had been dropped by another. But, be that as it may, though death was hard at her heels, and life was beckoning to her be­yond the city gates, she could not shake off their spell. She had turned to pick them up, with death as her reward. But it was not the eruption of Vesuvi­us that made her love pearls more than life. It only froze her in this attitude of greed."

— N. Bruce Creswell, Jr. Hinton, West Virginia

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