Faithlife Sermons


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To Illustrate







hen Apple Com­puter fell on dif­ficult days a while back, Apple's young chairman, Steven Jobs, traveled from the Silicon Valley to New York City. His purpose was to con­vince Pepsico's John Scul-ley to move west and run his struggling company.

As the two men over­looked the Manhattan sky­line from Sculley's pent­house office, the Pepsi executive started to decline Jobs' s offer.

"Financially," Sculley said, "you'd have to give me a million-dollar salary, a million-dollar bonus, and a million-dollar severance."

Flabbergasted, Jobs gulped and agreed — if Sculley would move to Cali­fornia. But Sculley would commit only to being a con­sultant from New York. At that, Jobs issued a challenge to Sculley: "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want to change the world?"

In his autobiography Odyssey, Sculley admits Jobs's challenge "knocked the wind out of me." He said he'd become so caught up with his future at Pepsi, his pension, and whether his family could adapt to life in California that an oppor­tunity to "change the world" nearly passed him by. Instead, he put his life in perspective and went to Apple.

Many people don't rec­ognize a chance to change the world. Part of the Chris­tian  message  is  letting people know what a differ­ence the gospel makes. — Greg Asimakoupoulos Concord, California

| R |

oger Storms, pastor of First Christian Church in Chandler, Arizona, tells this story: "One Sunday, a car had broken down in the alley behind our facilities, and the driver had jacked up the car and crawled underneath to work on the problem. Suddenly, we heard him scream for help. The jack had slipped, and the car had come down on top of him.

"Someone shouted, 'Call 9-1-1!' " and a couple of people ran for the phone. Several of our men gathered around the large car and strained to lift it off the trapped man. Nurses from our congregation were rounded up and brought to the scene. Somehow the men were able to ease the car's weight off the man, and he was pulled free. Our nurses checked him over. He was scratched up and shaken, but otherwise okay. "When this man was in peril, people did all they could to help — risking themselves, inconveniencing themselves. Whatever was necessary to save this man, they were ready to try. How we need this same attitude when it comes to rescuing those in greatest peril — the danger of losing life eternally!"



n June of 1955, Winston Churchill, who was then near the end of his life, was asked to give a commencement address at a British university. At this time he was physically infirm; he had to be helped to the podium. Then he held on to the podium for what seemed an interminable amount of time.

He stood with his head down but then finally raised that great leonine head of his, and the voice that years before had called Britain back from the brink of de­struction sounded publicly for the last time in history: "Never give up. Never give up. Never give up."

With that, Churchill turned and went back to his seat.

I'm told there was silence, and then, as if one person, the whole audience rose to applaud him, because he was a man whose life and words were together. Again and again throughout Churchill's political career, he had known setbacks. Three times, his career apparently over, he was sent off to oblivion, and yet somehow he had a sense that there was still something left after the worst.

— John Claypool Birmingham, Alabama

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n old story tells of a desert nomad who awakened hungry in the middle of the night. He lit a candle and began eating dates from a bowl beside his bed. He took a bite from one and saw a worm in it; so he threw it out of the tent. He bit into a second date, found another worm, and threw it away also. Reason­ing that he wouldn't have any dates left to eat if he continued, he blew out the candle and quickly ate the rest of the dates.

Many there are who pre­fer darkness and denial to the light of reality.

— George Maronge, Jr. Birmingham, Alabama



on Rand writes in For Fathers  Who Aren't  in Heaven: "Michael usually takes his family out each week to see a  movie  or sports event.  When they come home, they make a fire in the fireplace and pop pop­corn.

"During one of these eve­nings, little Billy made a real pest of himself in the car on the drive home, so he was punished by being sent to sit in his bedroom while the rest of the family had pop­corn. After the family had the fire going and the pop­corn ready, Michael went back to Billy's room and said, 'You go out with the others. I'll stay here and take your punishment.' Through Michael's action, the entire family experi­enced a vivid example of what Jesus did for every­one."

— Terry Fisher San Diego, California










loyd H. Steffen wrote in The Christian Century how when King Frederick II, an eigh­teenth-century king of Prussia, was visiting a pris­on in Berlin, the inmates tried to prove to him how they had been unjustly imprisoned. All except one. That one sat quietly in a corner, while all the rest protested their innocence.

Seeing him sitting there oblivious to the commo­tion, the king asked him what he was there for. "Armed robbery, Your Honor."

The king asked, "Were you guilty?"

"Yes, Sir," he answered. "I entirely deserve my punishment."

The king then gave an

order to the guard: "Release

this guilty man.  I don't

want him corrupting all

these innocent people."

— Donald W. Brenneman

APO Miami, Florida



he article "What Good Is a Tree?" in Reader's Digest ex­plained that when the roots of trees touch, there is a substance present that re­duces competition. In fact, this unknown fungus helps link roots of different trees — even of dissimilar species. A whole forest may be linked together. If one tree has access to water, an­other to nutrients, and a third to sunlight, the trees have the means to share with one another.

Like trees in a forest, Christians in the church need and support one another.

— Blair F. Rorabaugh Uniontown, Ohio

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 traveler, between flights at an airport, went to a lounge and bought a small package of cook­ies. Then she sat down and began reading a newspaper. Gradually, she became aware of a rus­tling noise. From behind her paper, she was flabber­gasted to see a neatly dressed man helping himself to her cookies. Not wanting to make a scene, she leaned over and took a cookie herself.

A minute or two passed, and then came more rustling. He was helping himself to another cookie! By this time, they had come to the end of the package, but she was so angry she didn't dare allow herself to say anything. Then, as if to add insult to injury, the man broke the remaining cookie in two, pushed half across to her, ate the other half, and left.

Still fuming some time later when her flight was announced, the woman opened her handbag to get her ticket. To her shock and embarrassment, there she found her pack of unopened cookies! How wrong our assumptions can be.

— John Ross Cranleigh, Surrey, England



n July 15, 1986, Roger Clemens, the sizzling righthander for the Boston Red Sox, started his first All-Star Game. In the second inning, he came to bat, something he hadn't done in years because of the American League's designated-hitter rule. He took a few uncertain practice swings and then looked out at his forbidding opponent, Dwight Goo-den, who the previous year had won the Cy Young Award.

Gooden wound up and threw a white-hot fastball past Clemens. With an embarrassed smile on his face, Clemens stepped out of the box and asked catcher Gary Carter, "Is that what my pitches look like?"

"You bet it is!" replied Carter.

Although Clemens quickly struck out, he went on to pitch three perfect innings and be named the game's most valuable player. From that day on, he later said, with a fresh reminder of how overpowering a good fastball is, he pitched with far greater boldness.

Sometimes we forget the Holy Spirit within us and how powerful our witness can be. The gospel has supernatural power — when we speak it in confi­dence.

— Craig Brian Larson Arlington Heights, Illinois

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or years, the opening of The Wide World of Sports television pro­gram snowed "the agony of defeat" of a painful ending to an attempted ski jump. The skier appeared in good form as he headed down the jump, but then, for no apparent reason, he tum­bled head over heels off the side of the jump, bouncing off the supporting struc­ture.

What viewers didn't know was that he chose to fall rather than finish the jump. Why? As he ex­plained later, the jump sur­face had become too fast, and midway down, he real­ized if he completed the jump, he would land on the level ground, beyond the safe landing area, which could have been fatal.

As it was, the skier suf­fered no more than a head­ache from the tumble.

To change one's course in life can be a dramatic and sometimes painful under­taking, but change is better than a fatal landing at the end.

— Ron Jensen Dodge, North Dakota

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