Faithlife Sermons


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To Illustrate



ccording to a Jan­uary 15, 1989 arti­cle in the Lexington Herald-Leader, the family living in a home in West Palm Beach, Florida, told a film crew it was okay to use the front lawn as a set for an episode of the "B. L. Stryker" television series. They knew cars would be crashing violently in front of the house.

While the front yard was being blown up, the owner of the home was tipped off and called from New York demanding to know what was happening to his house. It seems the people who were living in the house were only tenants and had no right to allow the property to be de­stroyed as the cameras rolled.

Many times we live our lives under the mistaken impression that they be­long to us. Paul tells us we were "bought with a price." We must live as those who know God will call us to account for the ways we have used this life entrust­ed to us.

— Kevin S. Bidwell Vanceburg, Kentucky



uring one service I was complaining to the Lord about the lack of attendance: "Lord, attendance is just not what I'd like it to be." This was the Lord's re­sponse: "My son, atten­dance is not what I'd like it to be in heaven."

That was the last time I complained to the Lord about lack of attendance.

— Harvey Koelner Fort Lauderdale, Florida



olumnist Herb Caen wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle: "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."

Spurgeon wrote likewise: "If you are not seeking the Lord, the Devil is seeking you. If you are not seeking the Lord, judgment is at your heels."

In the Christian life, it's not enough simply to wake up. We are called to run, to become more like Christ, to press ahead in godliness.

— BUI Effler San Mateo, California



on McCullough writes in Waking from the American Dream: "During World War II, Eng­land needed to increase its production of coal. Winston Churchill called together labor leaders to enlist their support. At the end of his presentation he asked them to picture in their minds a parade which he knew would be held in Picadilly Circus after the war. First, he said, would come the sailors who had kept the vital sea lanes open. Then would come the soldiers who had come home from Dunkirk and then gone on to defeat Rommel in Africa. Then would come the pilots who had driven the Luftwaffe from the sky.

"Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miner's caps. Someone would cry from the crowd, 'And where were you during the critical days of our struggle?' And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, 'We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.' "

Not all the jobs in a church are prominent and glamorous. But it is often the people with their "faces to the coal" who help the church accomplish its mission.



 former park rang­er at Yellowstone National Park tells the story of a ranger lead­ing a group of hikers to a fire lookout. The ranger was so intent on telling the hikers about the flowers and animals that he con­sidered the messages on his two-way radio distract­ing, so he switched it off. Nearing the tower, the ranger was met by a nearly breathless lookout, who asked why he hadn't re­sponded to the messages on his radio. A grizzly bear had been seen stalking the group, and the authorities were trying to warn them of the danger.

Any time we tune out the messages God has sent us, we put at peril not only ourselves, but also those around us. How important it is that we never turn off God's saving communica­tion!

— Harold M. Wiest

Dawson Creek,

British Columbia, Canada



astor Mark Thomp­son of Faribault, Minnesota, suffered terrible knife wounds from an assailant in his home, in October 1988. One of the many consequences of his difficult recovery was be­ing forced to miss watch­ing his son Chris run in the state cross-country cham­pionship meet. Pastor Thompson commissioned his brother Merv to go in his stead.

According to the account in the St. Paul Pioneer Press & Dispatch, Mark told his brother, "I can't be there to

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see Chris run. So I want you there at the beginning of the race. Holler a lot. . . . Then at the end, I want you to really cheer loudly. And I want you to make your voice sound like mine."

Merv heeded the advice, and Chris ran a strong race, finishing second. Merv, also a pastor, dis­cerned the theological truth in the story. "That's what Jesus wants us to do," he said. "Make your voice sound like mine."



while back on "The Merv Griffin Show," the guest was a body builder. During the interview, Merv asked, "Why do you develop those particular muscles?"

The body builder simply stepped forward and flexed a series of well-defined muscles from chest to calf. The audience applauded.

"What do you use all those muscles for?" Merv asked. Again, the muscu­lar specimen flexed, and biceps and triceps sprouted to impressive proportions.

"But what do you use those muscles for?" Merv persisted. The body builder was bewildered. He didn't have an answer other than to display his well-devel­oped frame.

I was reminded that our spiritual exercises — Bible study, prayer, reading Christian books, listening to Christian radio and tapes — are also for a pur­pose. They're meant to strengthen our ability to build God's kingdom, not simply to improve our pose before an admiring audi­ence.

— Gary Gulbranson Glen Ellyn, Illinois



 friend who lives in a forested area found his home overrun with mice — too many to ex­terminate with traps. So he bought a few boxes of D-Con and distributed them around the house, including one under his bed. That night he couldn't believe his ears; below him was a feeding frenzy.

In the morning he checked the box and found it licked clean.

Just to make sure the plan worked, he bought and placed another box. Again, the mice went for the flavored poison like piranha.

But the tasty and popular nighttime snack did its deadly work. In the days that followed, all was quiet. Just because something is popular doesn't mean if s good for you. It can be deadly — like sin.

— Craig Brian Larson Arlington Heights, Illinois



ne of the classic baseball television shots comes from the 1975 World Series, in which nbc captured Carlton Fisk, jumping up and down, waving his arms, trying to coax his hit to stay fair. It did — for a home run. That colorful close-up would have been missed had the cameraman followed the ball with his camera, as was his responsibility. But the cameraman inside the Fenway Park Scoreboard had one eye on a rat that was circling him. So instead of focusing the camera on the ball, he left it on Fisk. Sometimes we encounter problems like that rat. We have no idea how they will be resolved, but because of them, we may see God work in a way we never would have without the problems.

— Richard C. Kauffman, Jr. Tionesta, Pennsylvania



illiam Poteet wrote in The Pentecostal Minis­ter how in 1903 the Russian czar noticed a sentry posted for no apparent reason on the Kremlin grounds. Upon inquiry, he discovered that in 1776 Catherine the Great found there the first flower of spring. "Post a sentry here," she commanded, "so that no one tramples that flower under foot!" Some traditions die hard.



ohn  Killinger retells this story from Atlan­tic Monthly about the days of the great western cattle ranches:

"A little burro some­times would be harnessed to a wild steed. Bucking and raging, convulsing like drunken sailors, the two would be turned loose like Laurel and Hardy to pro­ceed out onto the desert range. They could be seen disappearing over the hor­izon, the great steed drag­ging that little burro along and throwing him about like a bag of cream puffs. They might be gone for days, but eventually they would come back. The lit­tle burro would be seen first, trotting back across the horizon, leading the submissive steed in tow. Somewhere out there on the rim of the world, that steed would become ex­hausted from trying to get rid of the burro, and in that moment, the burro would take mastery and become the leader.

"And that's the way it is with the kingdom and its heroes, isn't it? The battle is to the determined, not to the outraged; to the com­mitted, not to those who are merely dramatic."

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