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Pastoral Resources

Sermon Illustrations Archive

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A Doctor's Testimony

Here is the testimony of a medical doctor: "In an anatomy room, a dead body meant nothing to me. I could not visualize the man or woman it might have been. Life left few records on the immobile face. For weeks I worked, and each day the wonder grew. Then one day I was working on an arm and hand, studying the perfect mechanical arrangements of the muscles and tendons, how the sheaths of certain muscles are split to let tendons of other muscles through, so that the hand may be delicate, small and yet powerful. I was all alone in the laboratory when the overwhelming belief came: a thing like this is not just chance but a part of a plan, a plan so big that only God could have conceived it. Religion had been to me a matter of form, a thing without conviction, but now everything was an evidence of God-the tendons of the hand, the patterns of the little butterfly's wings-all are a part of God's wonderful design."

A Dollar for Your Child

"Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Eph 6:4).

His name was Rusty, and he was barely 11 years old. He still had the look of a little boy. He was homeless, not old enough to be hardened, but certainly old enough to be frightened. His mother lived in town, but she didn't want him.

Rusty lived in the alley behind the shop of one of our church members. He slept in a cardboard box.

In an effort to get legal custody transferred to a Christian foster home, a little group met in an attorney's office: Rusty, Rusty's mother, the social worker, the attorney, and a pastor. They were severing all legal ties between Rusty and his mother ...and she did not care. The attorney carefully explained to Rusty's mother what was happening. He wanted to make sure that she understood that, in effect, she was losing all rights to her boy. Everyone was on the verge of tears-all except Rusty's mom.

Then came the question. The attorney worded it carefully, "Mrs. Brown, do you understand that when you sign this form, you are signing over all legal custody to the designated children's home?" She nodded her head in the affirmative. "Mrs. Brown, do you have any questions?" She had only one. "Do I get any money for this?" she asked. Everyone seemed dazed by this sledgehammer query. There was a long pause. Finally, 11-year-old Rusty pulled out his pocket book, extracted a dollar he had earned sweeping floors, and gave it to his mother. And she took it!

In less obvious ways, all over America, there are parents who are trading their parental responsibilities for the almighty dollar. Kids shouldn't have to grow up by themselves. Let me paraphrase: "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world ...and loses his own children?"

A Dream
I heard of a Christian who did not succeed in his work so well as he used to, and he got homesick and wished himself dead. One night he dreamed that he had died, and was carried by the angels to the Eternal City. As he went along the crystal pavement of heaven, he met a man he used to know, and they went walking down the golden streets together. All at once he noticed everyone looking in the same direction, and saw One coming up who was fairer than the sons of men. It was his blessed Redeemer. As the chariot came opposite, He came forth, and beckoning the one friend, placed him in His own chariot-seat, but himself He led aside, and pointing over the battlements of heaven, "Look over yonder," He said, "What do you see?" "It seems as if I see the dark earth I have come from." "What else?" "I see men as if they were blindfolded, going over a terrible precipice into a bottomless pit." "Well," said He, "Will you remain up here, and enjoy these mansions that I have prepared, or go back to yon dark earth, and warn these men, and tell them about Me and my kingdom, and the rest that remaineth for the people of God?" That man never wished himself dead again. He yearned to live as long as ever he could, to tell men of heaven and of Christ.
Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations
A Drop in the Bucket

Let's not refuse to give the little we have; God will multiply it. I remember an elderly man who was giving very little, but it was truly sacrificial. He had a younger friend who was always making fun of him. "Such need in the world, and yet you think that with your few dollars you will make a difference! Old friend, what you give is only a drop in the bucket." But the old man with rejoicing in his face turned to his friend and said, "Yes, all that God expects of me is my drop and He will see to the filling of the bucket."

A Drunkard Speaks to a Drinking Christian

A young lady went to a rescue mission to help out with the inquirers who would respond to the Gospel. As she approached one derelict in order to help him make a decision for Christ, he said to her, "Do you play cards, or dance, or go to the theater, or drink socially?" "No, not now," she replied. "Well, then you may talk to me; but I will not listen to one word from you fine Christian folks who are doing on a small scale the very things that brought me a poor wretch to where I am." This young Christian woman later confessed that she had greater joy in leading that young man to Christ than the exercise of all the pleasures that many Christians hold on to simply because they have not yet been ruined by them.

A Dying Infidel's Confession
I want to read to you a letter which I received some time ago. I read this to you because I am getting letters from infidels who say that not an infidel has repented during our meetings. Only about ten days ago I got a letter from an infidel, who accused me of being a liar. He said there had not been an infidel converted during our meetings. My friends, go up to the young converts' meeting any Monday night, and you will see there ten or twelve every night who have accepted Christ. Why, nearly every night we meet with a poor infidel who accepts Christ, But let me read this letter. We get many letters every day for prayer, and, my friends, you don't know the stories that lie behind those letters. The letter I am about to read was not received here, but while we were in Philadelphia. When I received it I put it away, intending to use it at a future day:
Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations
A Fasting Father Takes a Meal

Siamese Bettas are called "fighting fish" because the males will fight each other to the death. Usually, if only one of the species is kept in a fish tank, it gets along well with the other fish. Yet in reproduction, it is the male that makes the nest. Using its saliva and air, the male builds a nest of tiny bubbles, each smaller than a BB-shot. When the nest is about the diameter of a coffee cup, the male mates with the female and the eggs fall. The male gathers the eggs and places each one in an air bubble.

After mating and during the gestation period, the male remains under the bubble nest, not eating. He carefully catches each developing egg when a bubble breaks and places it in a new bubble. He continues this effort around the clock under a forced fast for about two weeks. When the young hatch out, they usually are too small to be seen by the naked eye, but the male fighting fish cares for them until they begin to leave the nest and adhere to the sides of the breeding tank looking like little shards of broken glass.

Suddenly the time of parenting is over. It is as though an alarm goes off inside the fish, as it turns from minister to marauder. If the breeder is not alert, he may lose all the young to the hungry father, who then eats up the very ones he so diligently cared for.

How fortunate is man that God has designed parents so that though the young may become independent and venture in life on their own, unlike these fish, ours are not short-term parents, but lifetime parents, even as God is our eternal parent.

A Father

His shoulders are a little bent,

His youthful force a trifle spent,

But he’s the finest man I know,

With heart of gold and hair of snow.

He’s seldom cross and never mean;

He’s always been so good and clean;

I only hope I’ll always be

As kind to him as he’s to me.

Sometimes he’s tired and seems forlorn,

His happy face is lined and worn;

Yet he can smile when things are bad:

That’s why I like my gray-haired dad.

He doesn’t ask the world for much—

Just comfort, friendliness, and such;

But from the things I’ve heard him say,

I know it’s up to me to pay.

For all the deeds he’s done for me

Since I sat rocking on his knee;

Oh, not in dollars, dimes, or cents—

That’s not a father’s recompense.

Nor does he worship wealth and fame—

He’d have me honor Jesus’ name.

Source unknown
A Father’s Example

I read about a small boy who was consistently late coming home from school. His parents warned him one day that he must be home on time that afternoon, but nevertheless he arrived later than ever. His mother met him at the door and said nothing.

At dinner that night, the boy looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water. He looked at his father’s full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent. The boy was crushed.

The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took the boy’s plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front of the boy, and smiled at his son. When that boy grew to be a man, he said, “All my life I’ve known what God is like by what my father did that night.”

J. Allan Peterson

Source unknown
A Father’s Love

There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in Madrid newspaper. The ad read: “Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.”

On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, p. 13
A Father’s Prayer 1

A teardrop crept into my eye as I knelt on bended knee;

Next to a gold haired tiny lad whose age was just past three.

He prayed with such simplicity “Please make me big and strong,

Just like Daddy, don’t you see? Watch o’er me all night long.”

“Jesus, make me tall and brave, like my Daddy next to me.”

This simple prayer he prayed tonight filled my heart with humility.

As I heard his voice so wee and small offer his prayer to God,

I thought these little footsteps someday my path may trod!

Oh, Lord, as I turn my eyes above and guidance ask from Thee;

Keep my walk ever so straight for the little feet that follow me.

Buoy me when I stumble, and lift me when I fail,

Guard this tiny bit of boy as he travels down life’s trail.

Make me what he thinks I am is my humble gracious plea

Help me ever be the man this small lad sees in me!

Source unknown
A Father’s Prayer 2

A careful man I ought to be,

A little fellow follows me.

I do not dare to go astray

For fear he’ll go the selfsame way.

I cannot once escape his eyes,

What e’re he sees me do he tries.

Like me he says he’s going to be—

The little chap that follows me.

He thinks that I am good and fine,

Believes in every word of mine.

The base in me he must not see—

The little chap who follows me.

I must remember as I go,

Thru summer’s sun and winter’s snow

I’m building for the years to be—

That little chap who follows me.

Source unknown
A Father’s Will

One of the worst cases of hatred I have ever come across is found in a will written in 1935 by a Mr. Donohoe. It says, “Unto my two daughters, Frances Marie and Denise Victoria, by reason of their unfilial attitude toward a doting father, … I leave the sum of $1 to each and a father’s curse. May their lives be fraught with misery, unhappiness, and poignant sorrow. May their deaths be soon and of a lingering malignant and torturous nature.” The last line of the will is so vicious I shudder to quote it. It reads, “May their souls rest in hell and suffer the torments of the condemned for eternity.”

Our Daily Bread, February 18, 1994
A Father's Love

Would you like to marry someone whom your parents chose for you? Dr. Joyce Hardin in her book, Three Steps Behind, recounts a conversation with a Korean young lady. Dr. Hardin expressed surprise at the custom of arranged marriages and questioned how a woman could ever marry a person whom her father picked out. The Korean replied that her father loved her and knew her better than she knew herself. She was convinced that her father would never do anything to harm her and would make only the best choice for her. Besides, she added, she had the right to reject his choice, but doubted that she would.

Are we willing to trust God as much as some trust their parents? If we are willing to completely surrender ourselves to Him we can believe that He will give us what is the very best for us (Rom 8:28). What more comfort could we ask than to believe that even when we do not understand life's happenings, we can know that our Father loves us?

A Father's Love for his Boy

A number of years ago, before any railway came into Chicago, they used to bring in the grain from the Western prairies in wagons for hundreds of miles, so as to have it shipped off by the lakes. There was a father who had a large farm out there, and who used to preach the gospel as well as to attend to his farm. One day, when church business engaged him, he sent his son to Chicago with grain. He waited and waited for his boy to return, but he did not come home. At last he could wait no longer, so he saddled his horse and rode to the place where his son had sold the grain. He found that he had been there and got the money for his grain; then he began to fear that his boy had been murdered and robbed. At last, with the aid of a detective, they tracked him to a gambling den, where they found that he had gambled away the whole of his money. In hopes of winning it back again, he then had sold his team, and lost that money too. He had fallen among thieves, and like the man who was going to Jericho, they stripped him, and then they cared no more about him. What could he do? He was ashamed to go home to meet his father, and he fled. The father knew what it all meant. He knew the boy thought he would be very angry with him. He was grieved to think that his boy should have such feelings toward him. That is just exactly like the sinner. He thinks because he has sinned, God will have nothing to do with him. But what did that father do? Did he say, "Let the boy go"? No; he went after him. He arranged his business, and started after the boy. That man went from town to town, from city to city. He would get the ministers to let him preach, and at the close he would tell his story. "I have got a boy who is a wanderer on the face of the earth somewhere." He would describe his boy, and say, "If you ever hear of him or see him, will you not write to me?" At last he found that he had gone to California, thousands of miles away. Did that father say, "Let him go"? No; off he went to the Pacific coast, seeking the boy. He went to San Francisco, and advertised in the newspapers that he would preach at such a church on such a day. When he had preached he told his story, in hopes that the boy might have seen the advertisement and come to the church. When he had done, away under the gallery, there was a young man who waited until the audience had gone out; then he came toward the pulpit. The father looked and saw it was that boy, and he ran to him, and pressed him to his bosom. The boy wanted to confess what he had done, but not a word would the father hear. He forgave him freely, and took him to his home once more.

I tell you Christ will welcome you this minute if you will come. Say, "I will arise and go to my Father." May God incline you to take this step. There is not one whom Jesus has not sought far longer than that father. There has not been a day since you left Him but He has followed you.

Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations
A Father's Love Trampled Under Foot
I once heard of a father who had a prodigal boy, and the boy had sent his mother down to the grave with a broken heart, and one evening the boy started out as usual to spend the night in drinking and gambling, and his old father, as he was leaving, said: "My son, I want to ask a favor of you to-night. You have not spent an evening with me since your mother died. Now won't you gratify your old father by staying at home with him?" "No," said the young man, "it is lonely here, and there is nothing to interest me, and I am going out." And the old man prayed and wept, and at last said: "My boy, you are just killing me as you have killed your mother. These hairs are growing white, and you are sending me, too, to the grave." Still the boy would not stay, and the old man said: "If you are determined to go to ruin, you must go over this old body to-night. I can not resist you. You are stronger than I, but if you go out you must go over this body." And he laid himself down before the door, and that son walked over the form of his father, trampled the love of his father under foot, and went out.
Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations
A Father's Mistake

There is a little story that has gone the round of the American press that made a great impression upon me as a father. A father took his little child out into the field one Sabbath, and, it being a hot day, he lay down under a beautiful shady tree. The little child ran about gathering wild flowers and little blades of grass, and coming to its father and saying, "Pretty! pretty!" At last the father fell asleep, and while he was sleeping the little child wandered away. When he awoke, his first thought was, "Where is my child?" He looked all around, but he could not see him. He shouted at the top of his voice, but all he heard was the echo of his own voice. Running to a little hill, he looked around and shouted again. No response! Then going to a precipice at some distance, he looked down, and there, upon the rocks and briars, he saw the mangled form of his loved child. He rushed to the spot, took up the lifeless corpse, and hugged it to his bosom, and accused himself of being the murderer of his child. While he was sleeping his child had wandered over the precipice. I thought as I heard that, what a picture of the church of God!

How many fathers and mothers, how many Christian men, are sleeping now while their children wander over the terrible precipice right into the bottomless pit. Father, where is your boy to-night?

Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations
A Father's Prayer

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will realize that to know Thee and know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenges. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fall.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.

Then, I, his father, will dare to whisper, "I have not lived in vain."

A Fence or an Ambulance

A certain community was near a dangerous highway curve where several cars had misguided the curve and fallen over a cliff. Great discussion took place in the town over what to do about the situation. Some in the discussion group thought it a good idea to station an ambulance at the bottom of this cliff to give immediate aid to the victims. Wiser heads suggested it might be better to erect a fence around the curve on top of the cliff.

To us, such a discussion is ridiculous. We know it is much better to prevent accidents and deaths than to treat them after the fact. Let us not overlook the truth that this principle also has much spiritual merit.

We need not debate whether Christians sin. The New Testament speaks plainly. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar, and His Word has no place in our lives. The Apostle John immediately follows this truth with a powerful statement of assurance. "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One" (1Jo 2:1-2).

Although forgiveness and grace are abundant, Jesus does not intend for us to just focus on these. He not only provides forgiveness, He also gives us the power to keep from sin. How much better that we focus on the "fence" at the top rather than on the "ambulance" at the bottom.

A Firm Stand for Christ

A wealthy unbeliever who had spent much money on the education of his daughter, returned home from a business trip to be informed by his wife that the girl had gone forward and accepted Christ at an evangelistic meeting. When she ran to greet him, he struck her several times and told her to get out and never come back. She took shelter in a friend's home and spent the night in prayer. Early next morning the repentant father sent for her to come back. He met her at the gate, saying, "I give you my heart and hand to go with you to heaven." The mother followed, and all rejoiced in the saving power of Christ. A firm stand for Christ did it all.

A Fisherman

During the first and second centuries, the symbol of Christianity was the fish. A present-day Christian decided that a fishhook would be the proper emblem for a soul-winner to use for winning people to Christ, so he had a little golden fishhook made to be worn on the lapel of his coat. When people asked him what it meant, he told them that he was a fisher of men. A little newsboy from whom he bought a paper one day said to him, "Mister, do you belong to a fishing club?" "Yes, I do," said the Christian, "and I think fishing is pretty nice, don't you?" "Oh yes," the little fellow replied, "Do you ever catch any big ones?" "I have caught 250 pounders," replied the man. "Go on!" said the lad incredulously. "Yes," said the Christian, "I have caught a 250-pound fish." "Those sure are big," marveled the boy. Then leaning over, the Christian said, "Sonny, to tell you the truth, I would rather catch small fish than big ones." He exclaimed. "No!" "Yes, about your size." The little boy looked down at himself as if he were thinking, "I am not so small." Then the Christian told him that he was a fisher of men, seeking to win souls, and that if he would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ he would be saved. The newsboy took him at his word and came to Christ. Here was a fisherman for Christ who used a gold fishhook on his lapel to catch souls with. You may have some other kind of hook. It makes no difference as long as you catch fish.

A Forked Tongue

This is told of a Christian man whose most intimate friends could not find out anything about his religious affiliations. One day a friend of his, on being told that he belonged to the church, exclaimed, "Why, I have known him intimately for some years, but I never dreamed he was a Christian!" He could not possibly conceive how the mouth that spoke so violently and indecently of his fellow men could be opened in church to praise and bless God.

A Founder of SIM

“It is the impassioned pleading of a quiet little Scottish lady that linked my life with the Soudan,” wrote Rowland Bingham (a founder of S.I.M.). “In the quietness of her parlor she told how God had called a daughter to China, and her eldest boy (Walter Gowans) to the Soudan. “She spread out before me the vast extent of those thousands of miles and filled in the teeming masses of people. Ere I closed the interview she had place upon me the burden of the Soudan.”

A year and a half later Bingham returned to Canada, alone. Walter and Thomas Kent lay buried in Nigeria’s interior. “I visited Mrs. Gowans to take her the few personal belongings of her son,” he recalled. “She met me with extended hand. We stood there in silence.

“Then she said these words: ‘Well, Mr. Bingham, I would rather have had Walter go out to the Soudan and die there, all alone, that have him home today, disobeying his Lord.’” Our success in this venture means nothing less than the opening of the country for the gospel; our failure, at most, nothing more than the death of two or three deluded fanatics. Still, even death is not failure. His purposes are accomplished. He uses deaths as well as lives in the furtherance of His cause.

Walter Gowans, 1983, a founder of SIM. On Dec. 4, 1893, Walter Gowans and Rowland Bingham of Toronto, Canada, and Thomas Kent of Buffalo, N.Y., landed at Lagos, Nigeria. Their aim was to establish a witness among the 60 million people of what was then commonly known as the Soudan, the area south of the Sahara between the Niger River and the Nile. Gowans and Kent died in the first few months. Bingham returned to Canada, formed a council, and went back to Africa in 1900. That attempt, too, was unsuccessful. In 1901 Bingham sent out a party that succeeded in establishing the Mission’s first base, at Patigi, 500 miles up the Niger River. When these first SIM pioneers landed in Nigeria, Gowans was 25 years old, Bingham was two weeks away from his 21st birthday, Kent was 23.

Source unknown
A Friend Is...

A push when you're stopped,

A guide when you're searching,

A song when you're glad,

A word when you're lonely,

A smile when you're sad.

A Future Perfection

Probably you've heard of the group who were supposed to have arrived in heaven and been met by St. Peter. In a beautiful meadow they saw some people assembled and asked Peter who they were. Peter replied, "They are Presbyterians." They walked on a distance to a beautiful brook, and one asked, "Who are the people gathered over there?" And Peter answered, "They are Lutherans." Then they came to a tremendously high wall and one asked, "Whose are the voices we hear behind that wall?" "Shh!" said Peter. "Please be quiet!" Then he whispered the name of that denomination and said, "They think they are the only ones up in this place, and we don't want to disillusion them. If they find out that others have made it up here, too, how will they feel?"

A Generation of Mules

"The church today is raising a whole generation of mules. They know how to sweat and to work hard but they don't know how to reproduce themselves."

It's not known who said that, but it is a statement of incredible insight. Mules are hard workers. They have carried supplies, plowed fields, pulled wagons and transported people. The only problem is that they are almost always sterile and thus cannot reproduce. They are hard workers, but they are the end of the line. They do not produce more like themselves.

The church is full of hard workers. They teach classes, serve the physical needs of others, clean up and mow the grass, cook, move tables, organize social activities, visit and even write letters and cards, and do a host of other things. There is just one problem. They don't "reproduce." They don't teach the gospel to the lost so others can become hard workers. They are the end of the line.

The real job the Lord gave us is to go into the world and "reproduce ourselves" by making disciples of others (Mat 28:18-20). It is a tough lesson to realize that you may have worked hard and yet still haven't gotten the job done. Let us say it plainly. If we are not evangelizing, we are not doing the job completely. If we are nothing more than a generation of mules, we are on the road to extinction. Hup, Mule! Gee-Haw!!!

A Generous Concession

A man bought a field next to a farmer who had been engaged in a long-standing dispute with the former owner about the exact boundary line between this field and his own property. When the new owner saw the farmer near the fence one day, he greeted him with the words, "I'm your new neighbor; and I would like to talk to you about the boundary line between our properties." The farmer assumed a belligerent attitude and said, "What about it?" "How much of this field do you claim as belonging to you?" asked the new owner who was a Christian. "I claim that your fence is a good two feet over on my property," replied the farmer. "Well, then, I want you to reset the fence four feet back on my side," said the Christian. This completely took the fight out of the farmer and was the beginning of a new spirit of concession on his part also.

A Gift for My Neighbor

If my neighbor needed a cup of sugar,

I would give it to him;

But what if he needed a friend?

If my neighbor needed bread,

I would share with him;

But what if he needed love?

If my neighbor needed shoes,

I would provide them for him;

But what if he needed compassion?

If my neighbor needed water,

I would dig him a well;

But what if he needed God?

God grant me the wisdom

To give my neighbor

What he really needs.

A Glorious Body

In the days when any country boy could stand in front of a blacksmith's shop and watch with fascinated eyes what happened there, something analogous to the resurrection of the body occurred. The smith would put a rusty, cold, dull piece of iron into the fire, and, after awhile, take that identical piece of iron out of the fire, but now bright and glowing. Thus it will be with our bodies: they are laid down in the grave, dead, heavy, earthly; but at the general resurrection this dead, heavy, earthly body shall arise living and glorious.

A God-Given Emotion

Anger is a divinely implanted emotion. Closely allied to our instinct for right, it is designed to be used for constructive spiritual purposes. The person who cannot feel anger at evil is a person who lacks enthusiasm for good. If you cannot hate wrong, it’s very questionable whether you really love righteousness. - Dr. David Seamands

Source unknown
A Good Excuse
If you have got a good excuse don't give it up for anything I have said; don't give it up for anything your mother may have said; don't give it up for anything your friend may have said. Take it up to the bar of God and state it to Him; but if you have not got a good excuse--an excuse that will stand in eternity--let it go to-night, and flee to the arms of a loving Saviour.
Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations
A Good Leader

Leadership is the ability to put the plans into practice, and to accomplish the specified objectives through the skillful management of people, time, and tangible resources. A good leader is one who is able to motivate people; one who is capable of making good decisions, even under pressure or in conditions of uncertainty; one who can guide people through actions as well as words.

How to Find Your Church, George Barna, pp. 104-105
A Good Manager

Actually, a manager needs the ability not only to make good decisions himself, but also to lead others to make good decisions. Charles Moore, after four years of research at the United Parcel Service reached the following conclusions:

1. Good decisions take a lot of time.

2. Good decisions combine the efforts of a number of people.

3. Good decisions give individuals the freedom to dissent.

4. Good decisions are reached without any pressure from the top to reach an artificial consensus.

5. Good decisions are based on the participation of those responsible for implementing them.*

Source unknown
A Good Marital Testimony

Not long ago a Hindu woman was converted chiefly by hearing the Word of God read. She suffered much persecution from her husband. One day a missionary asked her, "When your husband is angry and persecutes you, what do you do?" She replied, "Well, sir, I cook his food better; when he complains, I sweep the floor cleaner; and when he speaks unkindly, I answer him mildly. I try, sir, to show him that when I became a Christian I became a better wife and a better mother."

A Good Reason for Politeness

"My boy," said a father to his son, "treat everybody with politeness, even those who are rude to you; remember, you show courtesy to others, not because they are gentlemen, but because you are one."

A Good Reason to Scream

…the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord. Gen. 13:13

There’s an old story about a man who tried to save the city of Sodom from destruction by warning the citizens. But the people ignored him. One day someone asked, “Why bother everyone? You can’t change them.” “Maybe I can’t,” the man replied, “but I still shout and scream to prevent them from changing me!”

Lot was a righteous man (2 Peter 2:7) who should have done some screaming. The record of his life reminds us of how our sense of moral indignation can be dulled by the world. Lot chose to dwell in cities where there was great wickedness (Gen. 13:12,13). When Sodom was invaded by hostile kings, he was captured. Even after Abraham rescued Lot, he was still drawn back to that wicked city (Gen. 19:1). And the last chapter of his story is an account of heartache and shame (Gen. 19). What a contrast—this nephew and his uncle! Abraham trusted God, prayed for the righteous, and lived a moral life. But Lot was “oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7). Although the sin of his day bothered him, he apparently said little about it.

There’s much immorality in today’s world—sex before marriage, homosexual behavior, taking the life of the unborn, and pornography. Out of our love for people and a deep concern about the influence of sin on society, we protest! Even if our screaming does little to change society, we do it anyway because we don’t want society to change us—and we just may help others. - D.J.D.

If we would love what’s good and right,

We must be pure within;

But if we compromise the truth,

We lose our sense of sin.

- D.J.D.

The man who cannot be angry at evil lacks enthusiasm for good.

Our Daily Bread, Sunday, January 5
A Good Relationship Made the Difference

A girl who received a book from a young man, read it and said, "What a tiresome book!" The young man said, "Did you notice who wrote it?" She looked at the front page and saw that her lover was the author. She began to read it again, and at the end she said, "I never read a greater book." What made the difference? Her relationship to the writer. Look at God. Is He good or evil? It all depends on whether you are single in heart or evil in heart. If you look at Jesus, you may see Him either as a deceiver or as a Savior. What makes the difference? Your attitude, your eye.

A Good Road

A missionary society wrote to David Livingstone and asked, “Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you.” Livingstone wrote back, “If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.”

April, 1985 Good News Broadcaster, p. 12
A Good Teacher and a Great Teacher

"Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go" (Mat_8:19).

A number of years ago a Johns Hopkins University professor asked his graduate students to locate 200 boys, ages 12-16 and research their family backgrounds. The assignment was then to predict their future. The students were sent to the slum area of the city to find the boys. The conclusion reached by the graduate students was that 90 percent of those researched would spend time in jail. The final chapter of this study would not completed until 25 years later.

When the 200 original students were sought after, some 25 years later, John Hopkins sent the researchers into the slum area again. Some of the group still remained in the slums, others had moved away, a few had died. In all they were able to locate 180 of the original 200. What they found amazed them. Only four had ever been to jail (remember the prediction had been 90 percent of 200)!

What caused this figure to be so low when all indications pointed to a larger number? When the researchers began to ask this question they found that they were getting the same answer, "Well, there was this teacher...." Pressed further, the researchers found that the teacher in all cases was one and the same. The boys had all been influenced by the same teacher.

The graduate students traced down the teacher, now living in a retirement home, and inquired about her remarkable influence over a group of boys who were headed for a life of crime. She really could not think of any reason why she would have this kind of influence. She did mention that "I truly loved my students."

A Gracious God

An atheist said, “If there is a God, may he prove himself by striking me dead right now.” Nothing happened. “You see, there is not God.” Another responded, “You’ve only proved that He is a gracious God.”

Source unknown
A Gracious Reproof

John Wesley once had for a fellow-passenger in a coach an officer who was intelligent and agreeable in conversation; but there was one serious drawback-his profanity. When they changed vehicles, Wesley took the officer aside, and after expressing the pleasure he had enjoyed in his company, said he had a great favor to ask him. The young officer replied, "I will take great pleasure in obliging you for I am sure you will not make an unreasonable request." "Then," said Wesley, "as we have to travel together some distance I beg that, if I should so forget myself and swear, you will kindly reprove me." The officer immediately saw the motive, felt the force of the request and smiling said, "None but Mr. Wesley could have conceived a reproof in such a manner." It worked like a charm.

A Grandma is…

A grandma is a lot like a mom,

Except her lap is a little softer

And maybe—

there’s a little more of it.

She always has a cookie for me

In her cookie jar,

And a quarter for me

In her purse.

Grandma likes to sing to me

And read to me,

Almost as much as she

Likes to play with me.

When I have breakfast

At Grandma’s house,

She always asks me,

“What would you like to eat?”

And that’s what we eat!

Grandma likes to shop with me

And I like to shop with her

Because she almost always

Buys me something I want.

My mother says

Grandma spoils me.

But I think she just loves me.

When I go to bed at night,

I know that Grandma prays for me.

I’m glad you’re my grandma.

There’s no one quite like you

In all the world.

Thanks, Grandma,

for being my grandma.

Source unknown
A Grandpa is…

A grandpa is a lot like a dad

Except he always spoils you

And never spanks you.

He has whiter hair than a dad,

But not as much of it.

A grandpa asks me questions

About me.

He wants to know

What other people don’t even care about,

And what makes me such a good boy.

A grandpa likes to say yes

And hates to say no.

When I’m with Grandpa,

I’m the most important person

In the world.

A king or prince

Would not get more of Grandpa’s attention

Than I do.

When I go to bed at night,

I know that Grandpa prays for me.

I’m glad you’re my grandpa.

There’s no one quite like you

In all the world.

Thanks, Grandpa,

for being my grandpa.

Source unknown
A Grateful Friend

A gentleman had found a shelter for a ragged, homeless boy and was walking down the street with him. He was stopped by another gentleman who, after a short conversation, said, "You are surely not walking through the streets with that dirty boy?" "Why not?" said the gentleman. "He is my friend." Overhearing the first remark the lad was slinking away, but the answer made him the life-long, devoted follower of his new-found friend. God calls us His friends. Can we ever express enough gratitude and honor to Him?

A Great Anything

One day a man met Spurgeon on the street, took off his hat and bowed, and said, “The Rev. Mr. Spurgeon—a great humbug!”

Spurgeon took off his hat and replied, “Thank you for the compliment. I am glad to hear that I am a great anything!”

Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, W. Wiersbe, p. 221
A Great Man

One of the finest descriptions of a magnanimous man is Emerson's brief characterization of Abraham Lincoln: "His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong."

A Great Motivator

Love reaches for the hurt and takes bold steps without self-interest. It can accomplish unbelievable things merely because it is so void of self-interest.

Some time ago, a teenager, Arthur Hinkley, lifted a 3,000-pound tractor with bare hands. He wasn’t a weight lifter, but his friend, Lloyd Bachelder, 18, was pinned under a tractor on a farm near Rome, Maine. Hearing Lloyd scream, Arthur somehow lifted the tractor enough for Lloyd to wriggle out.

Love was the real motivation.

Calvin Miller, “Rethinking Suburban Evangelism,” Leadership, 1988, p. 68
A Grinder and a Mechanic

For an extraordinary pitcher he performed few extraordinary feats. Though a veteran of 21 seasons, in only one did he win more than 20 games. He never pitched a no-hitter and only once did he lead the league in any category (2.21 ERA, 1980). Yet on June 21, 1986, Don Sutton rubbed pitching elbows with the true legends of baseball by becoming the 13th pitcher to win 300 games. His analysis of his success is worth noting. “A grinder and a mechanic” is what he calls himself. “I never considered myself flamboyant or exceptional. But all my life I’ve found a way to get the job done.”

And get it done he did. Through two decades, six presidential terms, and four trades, he consistently did what pitchers are supposed to do: Win games. With tunnel vision devotion, he spent 21 seasons redefining greatness. He as been called the “family sedan” of baseball’s men on the mound.

Source unknown
A Happy Home Was Restored

The Thames, flowing through London, was at low tide, causing the freighter to be anchored a distance from shore. The long plank, which led from the ship across the mud flats to the bank, suddenly began to jiggle precariously. The smallish man who was carefully pushing his barrow across the plank from the freighter to the shore lost his balance and found himself tumbling into the muddy waters. A roar of laughter erupted from the dockers and from the tall worker on board ship, who had jiggled the plank. The muddied man’s instinctive reaction was anger. The fall was painful; he was dripping wet and knee deep in muck. “This is your opportunity,” a voice whispered in his heart.

The victim, unknown to his tormentors, was a clergyman disguised as a docker in hopes of getting to know how the dockers felt, lived and struggled. Perhaps as he gained their confidence and made friends, he could tell them of the love of the Savior, who died to give them new life and hope and joy.

George Dempster came up laughing. A docker made his way to where Dempster had been dislodged, dropped some empty boxes into the slush and jumped down to help him out.

You took that all right,” he said as he helped Dempster clamber back to the boxes he had dropped. His accent was not that of a cockney. He was no ordinary docker.

Dempster told the story of this unusual docker in Finding Men for Christ. He recounted the ensuing events:

“Did I? Well, what’s the use of being otherwise?” I replied and followed this by a challenge.

“You haven’t been at this game long.”

“Neither have you,” he retorted.

“No! And I shan’t be at it much longer if I can help it.

Tell me your yarn, and I’ll tell you mine.”

I was watching his face as well as I could with my eyes still half full of mud. He was trying to scrape some of the slime from me and meanwhile becoming almost as filthy as I was. We agreed to exchange yarns. I therefore proposed that we should adjourn to a coffee shop nearby and over a warm drink exchange the story of our experiences, and how we came to be “down under” life’s circumstances.

we journeyed through Wapping High Street, up Nightingale Lane to London Docks and so “To where I dossed” (slept).

When we reached the Alley and I indicated the door he said, “Do they let beds here?” “Well,” I replied, “I sleep here, come in and see.”

“Oh! I’ve often passed this place but did not know they put men up here.”

We entered and I instructed that a cup of coffee and something be brought for my friend, while I disappeared without explaining to anybody exactly how I came to be so inelegantly decorated. Mud baths had not yet become a prescribed treatment for certain human ailments, but never could such a remedy, however well prepared or appropriately prescribed, prove so effectual as this one. It had been involuntarily taken it is true, but for like results who would not undertake even such drastic treatment daily? “His ways are higher than our ways.” His permissions are all for somebody’s good, and in this instance the reason for His permission was not long unrevealed.

A hurried bath soon put me right. After donning my usual attire, while seeking Divine guidance I hastened to return. “Here we are, now for our yarns,” I began. He was staring in amazement and was for a few moments lost for reply. “This is your yarn, is it? What do you do this for?” The first part of his question needed no reply, but I did not hesitate to answer the second. “To find you.”

He looked perplexed as we sat gazing at each other; then dropping his eyes before my inquiring look, shook his head sadly and rose as if to depart. Restraining him I said cheerily: “Now, friend, a bargain is a bargain. Thank you for helping me out of the river and thus giving me the privilege of meeting you, but you promised, you know, and I want that story of yours. You can see mine.”

He was a tall, well-built man in middle life. There were indications beyond his speech that his years had not been spent in his present conditions and surroundings. His features gave evidence of intellect, and the obvious deterioration was recent. His expression was softening even as we stood facing each other. The previous callous demeanor was giving place to something finer. I pursued the question, feeling certain now that here was the purpose of my adventure.

“Come now, tell me if I can be of help to you.”

Very decisively he answered at once, “No, you cannot.”


“Because I’ve gone too far.”

As I prayed silently, presently he looked me squarely in the face as if measuring whether he could trust me and confide. No words came, so I continued. “Does it not appeal to you as a very remarkable thing,” I asked, “that we should be sitting here like this if you have really gone too far?” No answer.

“Was it an accidental thing that I happened to get a job alongside you at that particular wharf this morning? Was it mere chance that those rascals chose me for their rather cruel joke? Is it pure coincidence that of all the crowd you should be the one to fish me out? Or—did Someone know where to find you and is even now answering someone else’s prayer for you?”

From the pocket he drew hastily two photographs. “These are mine,” he said, laying them gently upon the table. One was the picture of a fine-looking lady, the other bore the figures of two bonnie young girls of nearly equal age, obviously the daughters of the elder woman. I was looking closely at them when I heard a groan and then a sob as my friend again dropped his head upon his arms.

“Yours! And you here like this? Why?”

It was a sad story, but, alas, only too familiar. Bit by bit I got it from him; although several times with an almost fierce “it’s too late,” he would have left me. He was a fully qualified medical man with a fine record. He had married into a well-known family where there was no lack of money. Having conducted a splendid practice in the south of England, all went well for him for years. Two girls were born to them, and it was a happy home with a very wide circle of friends. But as so frequently happens, the allurements proved too strong for the man whose gifts and natural endowments made him a popular and welcome guest wherever he went. He was too busy to continue his regular attendance at church; gradually he ceased altogether and always had plenty of excuses to offer when his wife urged him to accompany her.

The girls were sent away to school where they were educated with a view to following a medical career, but he who should have been their guide and helper failed in his obligations because he had become addicted to drink. At first this fact was hidden, but the habit grew stronger until it mastered him. His practice as well as his home and family were neglected. This naturally led to great unhappiness and depression. In spite of the loving devotion and care of his wife and daughters, he went from bad to worse and finally decided to disappear. So by a number of subterfuges he effectually vanished from the world which knew him and became a wanderer.

After years of wander in America and Canada, he returned to London. He had never been discovered; he had never communicated with his kin. Down, down he went, living the life of a casual hand, sometimes finding a job, sometimes literally begging for food. He slept out at night, often in lodging houses with those with whom he had nothing in common save a degraded and sinful way of life. When he could get drink, he took all he could obtain to drown his sorrows.

Once he was lodged in the Tower Bridge Police cells but was discharged and warned. He had simply been found “drunk and incapable,” and his identity had not been revealed. Now this thing had happened, and it could not be explained away by saying it was a coincidence. There was more in it than that. “Someone” had known where to find him. Suppose those three whom he had so shamefully deserted had been all the time praying for his recovery? Recovery that he had so foolishly resisted—so often longed for—so often dreamed of.

Suppose it were true that God was now “causing all things to work together for good to them”—those three—“that love Him”? Suppose that He was at this moment giving him another—possibly a last—chance to return?

Such, he later admitted, were his thoughts, and he began to pray for himself. He had known in past days the comforts and consolations of worship. Now he began to pray very deeply and truly as he heard from a friend the old, old message.

Presently he said calmly, “I see,” and kneeling by the table, he and I talked with God. Never can I forget his prayer.

At first the halting, stumbling petition of a brokenhearted repentant sinner who felt acutely two things. First, his base ingratitude to a merciful God Who had not cut him off in the midst of his sins, and then the cruelty of his conduct toward those who loved him on earth. As he confessed his feelings in these ways, he seemed to become capable of clearer utterance.

How long we thus communed I do not know, but we were both much moved as we stood to shake hands. I seemed to feel again his grip on mine as I now record these happenings. “And you will stand by me?”

“Yes,” I answered, “as well as another man can.”

“Then I’ll prove what Christ can do.”

We then fell to considering whether it would be advisable to write at once to his wife and tell her the news. “No! Not yet. Please God we’ll try and improve matters before we do that. I must find out more about the position there first. There are the girls to think about. I must not spoil their careers. About now they must be in the midst of their exams. No! Please wait a while until by God’s help I am a little more like a father they need not be ashamed of—then!”

So we planned. With the aid of a friend who had influence in a certain large, well-known company, he was found a berth in the warehouse, packing drugs and chemicals. In a few weeks, the results were surprising. He was found to be so useful that a better paid job was offered him. Soon it was discovered that he knew a great deal about the contents of the packets he was handling, and when he admitted that the work of a dispenser was not strange to him, he was again promoted.

It was then that he agreed to my suggestions to write to his wife and inform her that he was alive and well. Very carefully I wrote, telling her something of the events above recorded and suggesting that if she would like to see me on the matter I would gladly arrange to meet her.

A letter came back, breathing deep gratitude to God for His wonderful answer to prayer and for His mercy. An expression of appreciation for the human agency He had provided, and an explanation that the two daughters were facing some difficult hospital examinations. It would therefore, she thought, be best to defer any meeting until they were through. But would I please keep her informed of his progress. It was a wonderfully understanding and gracious letter considering all the circumstances.

I showed him the letter.

He was deeply moved as he carefully and eagerly read it, then returning it to me he said quietly, “I must ask you to honor her wishes. Painful as delay is to me, I must submit. I deserve it and much more. Will you now pray with me that I may prove worthy of her confidence and their love?”

months passed, each day bringing continuous evidence of the “new birth” and of his loyalty to Christ. There was no wavering or falling back. Whatever struggles he had with the enemy, no one saw the least evidence of any weakness. In every way he was proving that he was “a new creature,” that “old things had passed away.”

Two brief notes had come from the wife asking more details than my letters conveyed. I gladly told her all she desire to learn.

Then one day there came a letter asking me to arrange a time for her to visit me. This was soon done, and without telling either of them what I had planned, I made my own arrangements. He was not informed of the impending visit but patiently awaited developments.

In due time the day arrived, and the wife kept her appointment. I instantly recognized the lady of the photograph, and to my intense delight she had brought her elder daughter with her. Both were much affected as I told them as much as I deemed needful of the facts. I felt it would be wise to leave the husband to give his own version of affairs.

Then, at a suitable moment, I said, “Would you like to see him at once?” I had not revealed to them that I had him in an adjoining room. But when the wife and daughter said eagerly together “Yes, please,” I opened the door and led them in to him. The lady had approached her husband with a smile of welcome and had kissed him; the daughter had put her arms about her father’s neck, and I heard just two words, “Dad, darling.”

It was no place for an outsider, so I made for my study and there lay the whole case again before the Father, asking that His will should be done. He heard and answered.

For an hour I left them alone. Then he came to fetch me. His eyes were very red, and I thought he walked with a new and firmer step. No word was said, but he looked his deep gratitude as he beckoned me to return with him.

As I entered the room, the wife approached me with an eager look which spoke eloquently of the tense feelings she had. When, after a few moments, she found voice, it was to tell me that it had been arranged to await the second daughter’s examinations, which were just pending. This girl did not yet know the purport of her mother’s visit to London that day with the sister, who now told me on top of her own success in the exams, she was overjoyed at finding her father.

“Do dare not tell Margery yet. She is rather highly strung, and as Dad says, it might interfere with her progress. But won’t she be just delighted. You know she has never ceased praying for this.” So spake the daughter, still holding her father’s hand, as if unwilling to part again. It was a most affecting scene, and one felt that there was Another present, rejoicing with us. “If all goes well we shall, please God, make home again when Margery is through, and oh what a day that will be.”

The mother was now feeling the stress of it all and needed rest and refreshment. A happy little meal was prepared, and thanks were given to Him Who had thus brought His promises to fulfillment. But the best was yet to be.

A happy home was restored.

Source Unknown
A Hard Thing

Some think it hard that there should be nothing for them but ruin if they will not believe in Jesus Christ; but if you will think for a minute you will see that it is just and reasonable. I suppose there is no way for a man to keep his strength up except by eating. If you were to say, “I will not eat again, I despise such animalism,” you might go to Madeira, or travel in all lands (supposing you lived long enough!), but you would most certainly find that no climate and no exercise would avail to keep you alive if you refused food. Would you then complain, “It is a hard thing that I should die because I do not believe in eating?”

It is not an unjust thing that if you are so foolish as not to eat, you must die. It is precisely so with believing. “Believe, and thou are saved.” If thou wilt not believe, it is no hard thing that thou shouldst be lost. It would be strange indeed if it were not to be the case.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892, Around the Wicket Gate, Ch. 10
A Healing Spirit

Labour mightily for a healing spirit. Away with all discriminating names whatever that may hinder the applying of balm to heal your wounds...Discord and division become no Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous.

Thomas Brooks, quoted in Credenda Agenda, Volume 5 Number 2, p. 3, I.D.E. Thomas, A Puritan Golden Treasury, Banner of Truth, 1989, p. 304
A Healthy Exercise

There is a new kind of philosophy nowadays which teaches that it is a very healthy exercise to pray, because it teaches us submission. God doesn’t change in His plans for us; we won’t get anything more by asking, but then just ask, it is healthy exercise! A mother in New York has lost track of her boy. She is wandering around the streets seeking for him. You know that the boy is dead, but still you tell her to keep on seeking—it is healthy exercise. What downright mockery it is for any one to talk such stuff as that!

Suppose that in the dead of winter, when the thermometer is down at zero, a man who has been stuck for twenty-four hours in a drift manages to get to my house at midnight, and rings the bell. I go to the window, and say: “Who is there?” “Mr. … I have been in a snowbank twenty-four hours, and I am dying. Won’t you help him?” “Well,” I say, “I have a fixed rule never to open my door until morning, but you just keep on knocking; it will do you good; it is a healthy exercise.”

That is a fair illustration of the way some people would have us look at prayer. Christ said, “Ask, and ye shall receive.”

During the war a man came to me at Nashville, a great, big six-footer, and he was shaking all over and crying like a baby. I thought he must have delirium tremens. He pulled out an old, soiled letter and said: “Chaplain, read that, will you?”

It was a letter from his sister, saying that every night as the sun went down she fell on her knees and prayed God to save her brother. The soldier said: “Chaplain, I have been in a number of battles, and have been before the cannon’s mouth without trembling a bit; but the moment I read that letter I began to shake. I suppose that I am the meanest wretch in the whole Cumberland Army.” I took a copy of the letter and went to another division of the army, thirty miles away. The next day I got up before the men and read it, and told how that man had been saved in answer to the prayers of his sister six hundred miles away. When I closed, a fine-looking man got up and said:

“That letter reminds me of the last letter I got from my mother. She said, ‘My boy, when you get this letter, won’t you go off behind a tree and pray to your mother’s God that you may be converted? Now, my son, won’t you become a Christian?’” He said he put the letter in his pocket, and expected to pay no more attention to it, as he thought he would get a good many more letters from her; but a few days later a dispatch came saying that his mother was dead. Then he took her advice, and went off behind a tree and cried to his mother’s God; the prayer was answered, and he said: “This is the first time I have ever confessed Jesus Christ.”

There were two men, one who had a sister pleading six hundred miles away, and the other whose mother had brought him on his knees and into the Kingdom of God. My dear friends, never stop praying; do not be discouraged. God wants us to “pray without ceasing.”

Moody’s Anecdotes, pp. 54-56
A Healthy Inner Eye

After referring to Himself as the light and life of men, our Lord goes on to say that, for the apprehension of light, a corresponding and appropriate organ is required. This organ is the eye. The eye that receives light for the whole body gives light to the whole body-the light in which all its activities are carried on-and may therefore be called the lamp or candle of the body. But the amount of light received and distributed depends on the power and accuracy of the eye that receives it. The organ may be diseased. It may prevent the access of the light or pervert it so that we do not see things as they are, or even in extreme cases do not see them at all. If this solitary candle is put out, how profound must be the darkness in which we walk! If it is obscured or distorted, how radical and misleading must be the errors into which it betrays us. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that we should keep the one organ which receives and imparts light-the light of all our seeing, all our working, all our progress-in a healthy condition.

In all this we have been dealing only with the application of the passage of Luk 11:33-36. For while speaking of the eye of the body, it is obvious that it was the eye of the soul that our Lord had in mind. The spiritual part in us has its perceptive faculty as does the physical part, and it is even more important that the spiritual candle should be lifted to its due place and kept burning brightly than that the physical candle should be placed on the lampstand and not hidden in a cellar or under a bushel basket.

If then we turn from the physical to the spiritual application of the passage, what is it that our Lord is teaching us in these words? I believe He is saying that a healthy, trained, unprejudiced understanding is required for the due apprehension and appreciation of spiritual truth, and that the health and power of the understanding by which we receive and impart the truth depends mainly on the establishing of right attitudes toward the hearing and sifting of God's Word as revealed in the Scriptures. A desire to know and follow the truth at whatever cost is a prerequisite to "seeing" the truth.

A Heart for Praise

Louis Albert Banks tells of an elderly Christian man, a fine singer, who learned that he had cancer of the tongue and that surgery was required. In the hospital after everything was ready for the operation, the man said to the doctor, “Are you sure I will never sing again?” The surgeon found it difficult to answer his question. He simply shook his head no. The patient then asked if he could sit up for a moment. “I’ve had many good times singing the praises of God,” he said. “And now you tell me I can never sing again. I have one song that will be my last. It will be of gratitude and praise to God.” There in the doctor’s presence the man sang softly the words of Isaac Watts’ hymn,

I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve Breath,

And when my voice is lost in death,

Praise shall employ my nobler power;

My days of praise shall ne’er be past,

While life, and thought, and being last,

Or immortality endures.”

Our Daily Bread, January 15
A Heartfelt Experience

Somebody was asked how he knew that he was converted. "Why, bless your heart," was the answer, "I was there when it happened!" When Jesus Christ comes into our hearts, we know it, and others will, too.

A Heavy Draw on Alexander the Great
There is a story told of Alexander the Great. A general in his army was a great favorite with him, and he told him to draw anything from his treasury that he wanted. Well, he presented a bill to the treasurer, and the treasurer wouldn't honor it. It was for such an enormous amount that the treasurer was astonished. The General went rushing to the Emperor and told him, and he called the treasurer and said, "Didn't I tell you to honor the draft of the General." "But," replied the treasurer, "do you understand its amount?" "Never mind what it is," replied the Emperor, "he honors me and my kingdom by making a great draft." And so we honor God by asking for grace in abundance. I tell you, my friends, it is a pity there are so many half-starved, mean Christians around when God says, "Come and get all you want."
Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations
A Higher Honor

When an important building was about to be erected, a certain artist begged to be permitted to make one of the doors. If this could not be permitted, he asked that he might make one little panel of one of the doors. Or if this, too, were denied him, he craved that he might at least be permitted to hold the brushes for the artist to whom the honor of doing work should be awarded. If so small a part in a work of earth were esteemed so high a privilege, it is a far higher honor to have even the least share with Christ in His great work of human redemption.

A Holy Minister

We must heed the memorable words written by Robert Murray McCheyne to the Rev. Dan Edwards on 2 October 1840 after his ordination as a missionary to the Jews: ‘I trust you will have a pleasant and profitable time in Germany. I know you will apply hard to German; but do not forget the culture of the inner man,—I mean of the heart. How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God’s sword,—His instrument,—I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God’.

John R. W. Stott, The Preacher’s Portrait, Some New Testament Word Studies (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1961), p. 120
A Hymn of Marriage

The question is asked, "Is there anything more beautiful in life than a boy and girl clasping clean hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage?" And the answer is given, "Yes-there is a more beautiful thing; it is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled but still clasped; their faces are seamed but still radiant; their hearts are tired and bowed down but still strong. They have proved the happiness of marriage and have vindicated it from the jeers of cynics."

A Hymn to God the Father

Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun,

Which is my sin, though it were done before?

Wilt Thou forgive that sin through which I run,

And do run still, though still I do deplore?

When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,

For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won

Others to sin? and made my sin their door?

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun

A year or two, but wallowed in a score?

When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,

For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun

My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;

Swear by Thy self, that at my death Thy Son

Shall shine as he shines now and heretofore;

And, having done that, Thou hast done,

I fear no more.

- John Donne, 1623

Source unknown
A Joyful Meeting

A young woman who lay dying sought to console her father who was overcome with grief. "Dad," she said, "don't be so broken up. If I had received an offer of marriage from someone who was all you could desire for me, and whose station in life was far superior to mine, but who wanted to take me to live in a remote part of the world, don't you think you could have borne the separation, knowing all the advantages it would bring to me? But I am now being promoted to a situation incomparably beyond anything that could have happened to me in this world. Then why this reluctance to let me go? Our next meeting will be in far more wonderful circumstances, joyful, and everlasting."

A Judgmental Character

A man said once to Mr. Dawson, "I like your sermons very much, but the aftermeetings I dislike. When the prayer meeting begins, I always go up into the gallery and look down, and I am disgusted." "Well," said Mr. Dawson, "the reason is, if you go on the top of your neighbor's house and look down his chimney to examine his fire, of course you get only smoke in your eyes."

A Kind Teacher

F. W. Farrar tells how, when Dwight L. Moody was an ignorant, ragged, shoeless boy in the streets of Chicago, he found his way to a Sunday school by one of those unseen providences that men call chance. He was shy and sensitive and very nervous lest the other boys would laugh at him because he could not find the places in the Bible. The teacher observed his embarrassment, and with gentle, silent tact saved him from his shame by finding the places for him. But for that little nameless act of love and sympathy, a career of memorable beneficence might have been lost to the world.

A Kingdom Implies a King

The kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven seem to be variations of the same idea. A kingdom implies a king. Our king is Jesus. Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). Jesus’ authority did not come from man but from God (Luke 22:29).

Entrance into the kingdom of God is by a new birth (John 3:5), repentance (Matt. 3:2), and the divine call (1 Thess. 2:12). We are told to seek the kingdom of God first (Matt. 6:33) and to pray for its arrival (Matt. 6:10). “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). It is also a future kingdom where full rulership in the actual presence of the king Jesus will occur when He returns to earth.

An expression first used by Jesus, although the idea that God reigns is everywhere in the Old Testament. The coming of the kingdom of God was the most frequent topic in the teaching of Jesus (Mark 1:15). It expresses the truth that God is a great God who does what he wills in human affairs. Specifically he wills to save people through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. In one sense the kingdom of God is a present reality. People enter it now (Matt. 21:31). In another sense it is future (Matt. 16:28). God’s control is plain in both aspects, and in the end his sovereign will will be perfectly done (1 Cor. 15:28).

The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook, Walter A. Elwell, Editor, (Harold Shaw Publ., Wheaton , IL; 1984), p. 352
A Leader Is…

Peter Drucker, perhaps the most noted authority on leadership in the 20th century, says:

A leader is one who has followers. An effective leader is not someone who is loved or admired. He is someone whose followers do the right thing. Popularity is not leadership, results are. Leaders are highly visible. They, therefore, set examples. Leadership is not rank or privileges, titles or money. Leadership is responsibility.

Quoted in Focal Point, summer, 1997, p. 19
A Leaf of White Paper

Life is a leaf of paper white

Whereon each one of us may write

His word or two, and then comes night.

Greatly begin! though thou have time

But for a line, be that sublime—

Not failure, but low aim, is crime.

James Russell Lowell

Source unknown
A Lesson from a Silver Cup

A servant who had received a silver cup from his master accidentally dropped it into a vat of acid. The servant was dumbfounded when he saw the whole cup disappear. He immediately went to a fellow servant and told him that the silver cup was lost forever. "It can't be recovered. You can't even see it." The master, an educated man, came on the scene. He infused salt water into the acid, which precipitated the silver from the solution. Then by melting it and hammering the metal he restored the cup to its original shape. A skeptic who saw this was so struck by its analogy to the resurrection, which he had rejected as impossible, that he now believed it most credible.

A Lesson From a Terrapin

One brother said that during his childhood in the country, he once found a terrapin. When he started to examine it, the terrapin pulled in its head and closed its shell like a vice. This displeased the boy, and he picked up something and tried to pry it open. His uncle saw all this and said: "No, that is not the way! You may kill it, but you will not get it open."

The uncle took the terrapin into the house and set it on the hearth. It was not but a few minutes until it began to get warm. Then the terrapin pushed out its head, then its feet, and began crawling. "Terrapins are like that," the uncle said, "and people, too. You cannot force them into anything. But if you first warm them up with some real kindness, more than likely they will do what you want them to do."

A Lesson From Nature

A man standing on the bank of the Niagara River saw a dead sheep being swept down by the current. An eagle lighted upon that sheep. The body sank for a moment under the weight and then came to the surface again. The day was bitter cold and the wool wrapped around the talons began to freeze. Meantime, the sheep was being swept more and more rapidly toward the falls. But the eagle had not the slightest fear. Had you shouted a warning, he would probably have laughed at you. He would have said, "Do not disturb yourself. Do you not see these great wings? There is not the slightest danger."

By this time, the great falls were but a few feet away. The time for action had come. The eagle spread his great burnished brown wings and fanned the air. But the wings did not lift him. The frozen wool held his talons fast, and while his great wings frantically beat the air, he was swept to his death.

Now there was a time when the eagle could have saved himself. He was not made for such a terrible death. But he held on to the sheep so long that, in the end, he could not let go.

Do not hold on to the world so long that you will not be able to let go!

A Lesson From Suffering

A bird had no interest in learning the song its master wanted to teach it while its cage was full of light. Its master covered the cage to darken it. He then whistled the same song over and over until the bird learned it by heart. When it could repeat it note for note, the owner uncovered the cage and the bird sang it beautifully. This is an illustration of the way God sometimes deals with us. He darkens the cage of our lives in order to teach us some divine song.

A Lesson from the Gulls

Some time ago in Reader's Digest there was a short article about a group of sea gulls that was starving to death in St. Augustine. They were not starving because of a food shortage but because they had forgotten how to fish. For years they had depended on the shrimp fleet operating out of the harbor to toss them scraps from the nets. When the shrimp fleet moved to Key West, they began to starve. They had lost their natural ability to fish because they had not been using it.

This is a rule of nature. If you do not use what you have, it will be taken from you. This is the lesson in the parable of the talents. The servant who did not use the one talent had it taken from him.

A Lesson From the Palm Tree

One can readily recall the words of Exo 15:27 which reads, "And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters." Think what a wonderful sight a grove of palms must be to the wary and thirsty traveler on the desert! These trees not only mean shelter from the blistering sun, but water to slake the thirst. Palms grow where there is water, and they send down their trap roots to water. Thus this tree is never without its testimony.

Those familiar with this most famous of all Bible trees know that it Bears Fruit in Old Age. The palm never stops bearing fruit, even though it grows to a very old age. Psa 92:14 states, "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age." The tree is never on the retired list. Too many of us are retired Christians. We get to the place where we imagine we have done our share, so someone else can take over and carry on the work. Recall the spirit of the old pioneers of Tombstone, who were willing to die with their boots on, working and toiling to the very last. Just as the palm grows for the ages, so should it be with all the children of God. We are not shrubs, but trees. "He shall be like a tree"-that which abides.

Who among us is not familiar with the fact that the Branches Are Symbols of Victory. In Rev 7:9, the Apostle John caught the vision of the mighty multitude which no man could number, standing "before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands." There were they who had come out of great tribulation, and victory was theirs in the presence of their Lord. It was a time of rejoicing. Are we symbols of victory? Do men look at us and see some blessed evidence of the power of God operative in our lives? Or must they behold evidences of defeat? God forbid!

I exhort you, be a palm-tree Christian, the praise and glory of His grace. What a blessing we can be to others by living the upright palm tree life!

A Letter from Satan to His 'Friend'

Dear "Friend,"

I visited your Sunday school service and was overjoyed to see that many of your class members were absent. I was thrilled to see that those who came were late, or tired and sleepy during the Sunday School lesson and also the sermon.

I rejoiced in hearing some of the lessons that were not well-prepared, and that many of you just did not care. Of course, it is devilish to see some of you leave after Sunday school and not get your souls fed in the worship service.

Sunday is always one of my favorite days because that is the day I do some of my best work-getting Christians to stay home and watch television, or getting involved in sports and all sorts of "recreation."

I howl with laughter each time I see many of you fail to give much of your tithes and offerings; you make the board and minister squirm and fret over tight budgets and this takes away some of their effectiveness for the Enemy.

I hope you will miss services again this Sunday. Stay home where it is warm, and it will help you get used to the future climate. And one thing more-do not let them get you to become a "born again" Christian!


A Letter from Satan to His 'Friend'

Dear "Friend,"

I visited your Sunday school service and was overjoyed to see that many of your class members were absent. I was thrilled to see that those who came were late, or tired and sleepy during the Sunday School lesson and also the sermon.

I rejoiced in hearing some of the lessons that were not well-prepared, and that many of you just did not care. Of course, it is devilish to see some of you leave after Sunday school and not get your souls fed in the worship service.

Sunday is always one of my favorite days because that is the day I do some of my best work-getting Christians to stay home and watch television, or getting involved in sports and all sorts of "recreation."

I howl with laughter each time I see many of you fail to give much of your tithes and offerings; you make the board and minister squirm and fret over tight budgets and this takes away some of their effectiveness for the Enemy.

I hope you will miss services again this Sunday. Stay home where it is warm, and it will help you get used to the future climate. And one thing more-do not let them get you to become a "born again" Christian!


A Lie Is Forever

A little girl come to her mother, saying, "Which is worse, Mama, to tell a lie or to steal?" The mother replied that both were so sinful she could not tell which was worse. "Well, Mama," replied the little one, "I've been thinking a good deal about it, and I think it's so much worse to lie than steal." "Why, my child?" asked the mother. "Well, you see, Mama, it's like this," said the little girl, "If you steal a thing, you can take it back, unless you've eaten it, and if you've eaten it, you can pay for it; but a lie is forever."