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Pastoral Resources

Sermon Illustrations Archive

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A Preoccupied Father

One day a small boy was taking a walk with his father. When they passed an unusual looking truck, he said, "What is that, Daddy?"

"I don't know," his father said.

Then they came to a large, old-fashioned warehouse, "What's in there, Daddy?" the little boy asked.

"I don't know," his father replied.

After they had walked on a short way in silence, the little boy turned to his father and said, "Daddy, do you mind my asking you so many questions?"

"Of course not," commented his father proudly. "How else are you going to learn anything?"

A Present Possession

A quantity of life (John 10:28) used with reference to believer’s future destiny (John 3:36, 5:29, 12:25).

A present qualitative aspect (John 10:10) Jesus has life in himself and is a source of life to others (John 5:21, 24, 28).

Christ grants eternal life as a present possession to those who believe.

In John 17:3 eternal life - an intimate, personal, growing knowledge of the Father and the Son.

Source unknown
A Prisoner of His Own Appetite

Thomas Costain’s history, The Three Edwards, described the life of Raynald III, a fourteenth-century duke in what is now Belgium. Grossly overweight, Raynald was commonly called by his Latin nickname, Crassus, which means “fat.” After a violent quarrel, Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room. This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter. When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.”

Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year. . . a prisoner of his own appetite.

Dave Wilkenson
A Privilege and an Obligation

A privilege and an obligation of the Christian where we communicate with God. It is how we convey our confession (1 John 1:9), requests (1 Tim. 2:1-3), intercessions (James 5:15), thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6), etc., to our holy God. We are commanded to pray (1 Thess. 5:17).

Some personal requirements of prayer are a pure heart (Ps. 66:18), belief in Christ (John 14:13), and according to God’s will (1 John 5:14). We can pray standing (Neh. 9:5), kneeling (Ezra 9:5), sitting (1 Chr. 17:16-27), bowing (Ex. 34:8), and with lifted hands (1 Tim. 2:8).

Source unknown
A Psychiatrist's Confession

I am a psychiatrist, but I can attest to the fact that all truth-including psychological truth-is already written in the Bible. All of the "findings" of the social scientists and psychologists have their basis first of all in the Bible. A person could visit three different psychiatrists and get three different approaches to his problem! He could visit them again a few years later and discover they have shifted their views even more. Those of us who believe the Bible have an unchanging foundation on which to build.

A Pure Heart

A girl in Sunday school had read the Beatitudes in Matthew. She was asked which of the things mentioned she would most like to have. She said, "A pure heart." When asked why she preferred that, she said, "If my heart were pure, I believe I would have all the other virtues mentioned in this chapter."

A Question for the Preacher

When the Rev. George Pentecost had finished a discourse in the city of Edinburgh, Horatius Bonar put his hand upon his shoulder and said, "You love to preach to men, don't you?" and Dr. Pentecost answered, "Yes." Then Mr. Bonar said, "Do you love the men you preach to?"

A Re-created Body

While it is literally true that our bodies shall live again, Scripture does not require us to believe that God has to take exactly the same particles of all the physical substances of which our bodies are made and put them together again like a jigsaw puzzle. Let's not be like that woman who blithely stated that she did not believe in the resurrection of the body, because as the result of an accident she had left one leg in England, and she fully expected to die in the United States. If you expect the same atoms to be brought together again, how would you expect this to happen in the case of a man eaten by cannibals? His flesh would have been digested and become part of the bodies of those very ones who dined upon him. In the resurrection, would their bodies be robbed of the necessary particles to reconstitute the man they had devoured? Do you see to what ridiculous extremes we would be led by an insistence that God work in accordance with what we believe must happen? Of course, nothing is impossible with God. I would not find it difficult to believe that God is able to gather every fragment of bone, flesh, muscle, and sinew that made up our earthly bodies, to make up our glorified resurrection bodies. Men might conceive this impossible, but God can do it. The only reason I declare that it is not going to be so is that God's Word reveals that it will be otherwise (1Co 15:37). He, an omnipotent God who created our bodies in the first place, can recreate them at the resurrection.

A Real Bad Dude

An old fellow had been in the north woods for weeks by himself, camping out. Each night at dusk he built a campfire, boiled water for coffee, and took out his skillet to fry up some bacon for dinner. As he was sitting by the fire one night, the water boiling and the bacon sizzling, he heard a tremendous racket in the brush. The sound was like a roaring freight train, and as trees fell over and branches snapped, the biggest bear he’d ever seen lumbered into the clearing. On the bear’s back was a tough-looking hombre holding a seven-foot live rattlesnake in his hands.

The man shouted and screamed as he brought the bear to a skidding halt, bit the head off the rattlesnake, and flung it into the brush. Then he slid off the bear’s back, turned, and hit him between the eyes, knocking him unconscious.; The camper was speechless as this wild-eyed renegade walked over to the fire, tossed the boiling coffee down his throat, drank the hot grease from the skillet, and ate all of the bacon in one bite. As he wiped his hands with poison ivy and slapped the bear back to consciousness, he turned to the camper and said, “Partner, I’m sorry I can’t stay around and visit with you a while, but I’ve got to keep moving ‘cause a real bad dude is chasing me!”

From Bad Beginnings to Happy Endings, by Ed Young, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publ., 1994), pp. 94-95.
A Real Conversion

Two little children, a boy and a girl, who played together a great deal, received Christ and were converted. One day the boy came to his mother and said, "Mother, I know that Emma is a Christian." "What makes you think so, dear?" "Because she plays like a Christian. If you take everything she's got, she doesn't get mad. Before, she was selfish, and if she didn't have everything her own way she would say, 'I won't play with you; you are a mean little boy.' " That's what the world sees, the result of our possessing part of the fullness of God. If we have God, then we must act like Him.

A Relationship that Makes Life Complete

There is a relationship which makes life complete. Without that relationship, there is a void, a vacuum in life. Many people, even those who are well-known, can attest to that void.

For example, H. G. Wells, famous historian and philosopher, said at age 61: “I have no peace. All life is at the end of the tether.” The poet Byron said, “My days are in yellow leaf, the flowers and fruits of life are gone, the worm and the canker, and the grief are mine alone.” The literary genius Thoreau said, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.”

Ralph Barton, one of the top cartoonists of the nations, left this note pinned to his pillow before taking his own life: “I have had few difficulties, many friends, great successes; I have gone from wife to wife, from house to house, visited great countries of the world, but I am fed up with inventing devices to fill up twenty-four hours of the day.”

Morning Glory, May 29, 1993
A Remarkable Case
I may relate a little experience. In Philadelphia, at one of our meetings, a drunken man rose up. Till that time I had no faith that a drunken man could be converted. When any one approached he was generally taken out. This man got up and shouted, "I want to be prayed for." The friends who were with him tried to draw him away, but he shouted only louder, and for three times he repeated the request. His call was attended to and he was converted. God has power to convert a man even if he is drunk.
Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations
A Remarkable Conception

Sir Fred Hoyle has never made any pretense about the personal philosophical motivation behind his cosmological models. In the introduction to his 1948 paper, he makes this statement:

“This possibility [steady state] seemed attractive, especially when taken in conjunction with aesthetic objections to the creation of the universe in the remote past. For it seems against the spirit of scientific enquiry to regard observable effects as arising from ‘causes unknown to science,’ and this in principle is what creation-in-the-past implies.”

Hoyle rejected the idea that God must be invoked to explain the existence of the universe. In his book The Nature of the Universe, written in 1952, though he admits that “there is a good deal of sociology in the Bible” and that “it is a remarkable conception,” he writes off all religion as a “desperate attempt to find an escape from the truly dreadful situation in which we find ourselves” and Christianity, in particular, as “an eternity of frustration.”

.Through the years, Hoyle has increasingly broached theological subjects in his writings. In his undergraduate text on general astronomy written in 1975, Hoyle attacks Friedmann’s relativistic model on what seem to be wholly theological grounds:

“Many people are happy to accept this position [Friedmann’s] ... without looking for any physical explanation of the abrupt beginning of the particles. The abrupt beginning is deliberately regarded as meta-physical — i.e., outside physics. The physical laws are therefore considered to break down at t=0, and to do so inherently. To many people this thought process seems highly satisfactory because as “something” outside of physics can then be introduced at t=0. By a semantic maneuver, the word “something” is then replaced by “god,” except that the first letter becomes a capital, God, in order to warn us that we must not carry the enquiry any further ... I do not believe that an appeal to metaphysics is needed to solve any problem of which we can conceive (emphasis in the original).

In 1982 he declares his rejection of God by defining the universe as “everything there is,” and the first letter of the word universe becomes a capital, Universe. There is no need, then, to look beyond the universe itself for anything. By so deifying the universe, Hoyle must, of course, argue against its finite age: The attribution of a definite age to the Universe, whatever it might be, is to exalt the concept of time above the Universe, and since the Universe is everything this is crackpot in itself. I would argue the need for the Universe to take precedence over time as a knockout argument in favor of a negative answer to the above question. [That question: Did the whole Universe come into being, all in a moment, about ten billion years ago?] ... One could then dismiss cosmologies of finite age because they were offensive to basic logical consistency.

In further support of his semantical proof for “God is identically equal to the universe” (i.e. God is the universe, and the universe is God), Hoyle points out that oppression, suffering, and death are expected, even guaranteed, if strictly natural biological evolution operates, but not if an all-loving, all-powerful God is in charge. There must not be, then, an independent, transcendent being. Like Einstein, he rejects Almighty God for want of a solution to the paradox of sin and suffering.

Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God; Promise Publishing Co., 1991, pp. 76-77.
A Repentant Heart

Believers dare not come to the table except with a repentant heart. “Whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner,” as Paul puts it, “drinks judgment to himself.” That should be a sobering warning, especially when the apostle adds that because of this offense many have fallen ill or died. Any pastor who takes the Word of God seriously should never administer Communion without adequately warning partakers. Those who are unrepentant should flee the table rather than trivialize the sacred.

And God does not view this sacred act lightly. Pat Novak, pastor in a nonsacramental denomination, discovered this when he was serving as a hospital chaplain intern just outside of Boston several years ago.

Pat was making his rounds one summer morning when he was called to visit a patient admitted with an undiagnosed ailment. John, a man in his sixties, had not responded to any treatment; medical tests showed nothing; psychological tests were inconclusive. Yet he was wasting away; he had not even been able to swallow for two weeks. The nurses tried everything. Finally they called the chaplain’s office.

When Pat walked into the room, John was sitting limply in his bed, strung with IV tubes, staring listlessly at the wall. He was a tall, grandfatherly man, balding a little, but his sallow skin hung loosely on his face, neck, and arms where the weight had dropped from his frame. His eyes were hollow.

Pat was terrified; he had no idea what to do. But John seemed to brighten a bit as soon as he saw Pat’s chaplain badge and invited him to sit down.

As they talked, Pat sensed that God was urging him to do something specific: He knew he was to ask John if he wanted to take Communion. Chaplain interns were not encouraged to ask this type of thing in this public hospital, but Pat did.

At that John broke down. “I can’t!” he cried. “I’ve sinned and can’t be forgiven.”

Pat paused a moment, knowing he was about to break policy again. Then he told John about 1 Corinthians 11 and Paul’s admonition that whoever takes Communion in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself. And he asked John if he wanted to confess his sin. John nodded gratefully.

To this day Pat can’t remember the particular sin John confessed, nor would he say if he did, but he recalls that it did not strike him as particularly egregious. Yet it had been draining the life from this man. John wept as he confessed, and Pat laid hands on him, hugged him, and told John his sins were forgiven.

Then Pat got the second urging from the Holy Spirit: Ask him if he wants to take Communion. He did.

Pat gave John a Bible and told him he would be back later. Already John was sitting up straighter, with a flicker of light in his eyes.

Pat visited a few more patients and then ate some lunch in the hospital cafeteria. When he left he wrapped an extra piece of bread in a napkin and borrowed a coffee cup from the cafeteria. He ran out to a shop a few blocks away and bought a container of grape juice.

Then he returned to John’s room with the elements and celebrated Communion with him, again reciting 1 Corinthians 11. John took the bread and chewed it slowly. It was the first time in weeks he had been able to take solid food in his mouth. He took the cup and swallowed. He had been set free.

Within three days John walked out of that hospital. The nurses were so amazed they called the newspaper, which later featured the story of John and Pat, appropriately, in its “LIFE” section.

The Body, Charles W. Colson, 1992, Word Publishing, pp. 139-140
A Responsibility

Even though we may have a hard time sharing our faith and, yes, some people have a gift for sharing, the Bible clearly indicates that evangelism is for everyone; in fact, it is considered to be a fruit of the Spirit! Most of us associate the fruit of the Spirit with Galatians 5:22-23, where Paul describes fruit as godly character. But Paul indicates that fruit also involves leading unbelievers to Christ (Romans 1:13, 1 Corinthians 16:15, Colossians 1:6).

Considering that Jesus called us to produce lasting fruit (John 15:16), that we glorify God by being fruitful (John 15:8; Colossians 1:10), and that God despises unfruitfulness (Matthew 21:10,43), Christians cannot relegate the activity of evangelism to a group of “specialists.” Everyone is challenged to be prepared in and out of season to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2) as well as to give an answer to everyone who asks us for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15).

The responsibility for evangelism, then, is for all believers who are instructed to bear fruit and are challenged to be prepared. It is not an issue of personality type, nor should it be an issue of personal comfort. It is an issue of obedience.

Jeffrey J. Schutz, “A World in Need: The Multiple Dimensions of Christian Relevance in Society,” Focal Point, summer 1997, p. 9
A Responsible Position

A young man, a skilled mechanic, was driving a visiting clergyman from his home town, fifty miles across the country, to another city. En route, they passed a huge factory consisting of perhaps twenty buildings scattered over several hundred acres. "Do you see that red brick building over there behind this gray stone one?" the mechanic asked. "I work on the second floor on the south side. There are seventy-four of us in that department, and as far as I know, I am the only one in all that crowd who ever goes to church or tries to live a Christian life. Sometimes I have to remind myself that, as far as that department is concerned, I am all there is of the Christian Church. If I don't do good work, then the Church has failed as far as those men are concerned. If I can't be relied upon, then the Church is undependable. If I am careless, then some poor unfortunate soul may have to pay for the Church's carelessness. It is pretty serious business being the Church in the midst of seventy-four other people."

A Restless Heart

Warren Wiersbe makes the observation, “The ability to calm your soul and wait before God is one of the most difficult things in the Christian life. Our old nature is restless…the world around us is frantically in a hurry. But a restless heart usually leads to a reckless life.”

Men’s Life, Spring, 1998
A Reward for Results

After a preacher died and went to heaven, he noticed that a New York cabdriver had been given a higher place than he had. “I don’t understand,” he complained to St. Peter. “I devoted my entire life to my congregation.” “Our policy is to reward results,” explained St. Peter. “Now, what happened , Reverend, whenever you gave a sermon?” The minister admitted that some in the congregation fell asleep. “Exactly,” said St. Peter. “And when people rode in this man’s taxi, they not only stayed awake, they prayed.”

Ray Heit, in Reader’s Digest
A Rewarding Life

The closer to God we are, the more peace and happiness we shall experience. A baker never expects to get a better cake than the ingredients he puts into it. Yet many people who complain that life is not as rewarding as they expected it to be, forget that in leaving out God they have left out that which alone can give life its glory, hope, love, and joy.

A Rich Conversion

A certain titled gentleman was converted. He loved the Lord a great deal, but he was not well taught in the Scriptures. He thought that he could continue in some of his worldly engagements and still bear a good testimony. On one occasion some weeks after he gave his heart to the Lord, this man accepted an invitation to a rather worldly party. Upon his arrival, one of the guests greeted him with these words: "I'm so glad to see you and to know that it isn't true." "I beg your pardon," he replied, "but I don't think I quite understand you." "Why, " said the other guest, "rumors were around that you had been converted a few weeks ago; I'm so glad you're here and to know the rumor was unfounded." "But it is true!" the man exclaimed. Hesitating a moment, he added, "I see that you think this party is no place for a Christian to be, and you are right. You will never again see me at such an affair, nor will anyone else."

A Rich Father visits his Dying Prodigal Son in a Garret and Forgives him

There is a story told of Mr. William Dawson, which I would like to relate. While preaching in London, one night at the close of his sermon, he said that there was not one in all London whom Christ could not save. In the morning a young lady called upon him and said: "Mr. Dawson, in your sermon last night you said that 'there was no man in all London whom Christ could not save.' I find a young man in my district who says he cannot be saved, and who will not listen to me. Won't you go and see him? I am sure you can do more with him than I can." Mr. Dawson readily assented, and went with the young lady to the East End--up one of those narrow streets there, and at the top of a rickety staircase found a garret, in which a man was stretched upon straw. He bent over him and said, "Friend." "Friend!" said the young man, turning upon him, "you must take me for some other person. I have no friends." "Ah," replied the Christian, "you are mistaken. Christ is the sinner's friend." The man thought this too good; "Why," said he, "my whole family have cast me off; every friend I had has left me, and no one cares for me." Mr. Dawson spoke to him kindly, and quoted promise after promise--told him what Christ had suffered to give him eternal life. At first his efforts were fruitless, but finally the light of the gospel began to break in on the young man, and the first sign was his heart went out to those he had injured. And, my friends, this is one of the first indications of the acceptance of Christ with the sinner. He said: "I could die in peace now if my father would but forgive me." "Well," replied the man of God, "I will go and see your father and ask him for his forgiveness." "No, no," was the sad answer of the young man, "you cannot go near him. My father has disinherited me; he has taken my name from the family records; he has forbidden the mention of my name in his house by any of the family or servants in his presence, and you needn't go."

However, Mr. Dawson obtained the address, and went away to the West End of London; ascended the steps of a beautiful villa, and rang the bell. A servant in livery came to the door and conducted him to the drawing-room. There was everything in that house for comfort and luxury that money could purchase. He could not help contrasting the scene of poverty in that garret with the scene of luxuriant elegance everywhere around him. Presently a proud, haughty-looking merchant came in, and as he stepped forward to shake hands with Mr. Dawson that gentleman said: "I believe you have a son named Joseph?" and the merchant threw back his hand and drew himself up. "If you come to speak of him--that reprobate--I want you to go away. I have no son of that name. I disown him. If he has been talking to you he has been only deceiving you." "Well," replied Mr. Dawson, "he is your boy now, but he won't be long." The father stood for a minute looking at the Christian, and then asked: "Is Joseph sick?" "Yes," was the reply, "he is at the point of death. I only came to ask your forgiveness for him, that he may die in peace. I don't ask any favor; when he dies we will bury him."

The father put his hands to his face and great tears rolled down his cheeks, as he said, "Can you take me to him?" In a very short time he was in that narrow street where his son was dying, and as he mounted the filthy stairs it hardly seemed possible that the boy could be in such a place. When he entered the garret he could hardly recognize his son, and when he bent over him the boy opened his eyes and said: "O, father, can you--will you forgive me?" and the father answered: "O Joseph, I would have forgiven you long ago if you had wanted me to." That haughty man laid his boy's head on his bosom and the son told him what Christ had done for him; how He had forgiven his sins, brought peace to his soul; how that Son of God had found him in that poor garret, and had done all for him. The father wanted the servant to take him home. "No, father," said the boy, "I have but a short time to live, and I would rather die here." He lingered a few hours, and passed from that garret in the East End to the everlasting hills.

Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations
A Rich Man’s Tomb

On February 15, 1947 Glenn Chambers boarded a plane bound for Quito, Ecuador to begin his ministry in missionary broadcasting. But he never arrived. In a horrible moment, the plane carrying Chambers crashed into a mountain peak and spiraled downward.

Later it was learned that before leaving the Miami airport, Chambers wanted to write his mother a letter. All he could find for stationery was a page of advertising on which was written the single word “WHY?” Around that word he hastily scribbled a final note. After Chambers’ mother learned of her son’s death, his letter arrived. She opened the envelope, took out the paper, and unfolded it. Staring her in the face was the questions “WHY?”

No doubt this was the question Jesus’ disciples asked when He was arrested, tried, and crucified. And it was probably the questions Joseph of Arimathea asked himself as he approached Pilate and requested the Lord’s body (v.58). It must have nagged at him as he wrapped the body in a linen cloth, carried it to his own freshly hewn tomb, and rolled the massive stone into its groove over the tomb’s mouth.

In the face of his grief, Joseph carried on. He did what he knew he had to do. None of Jesus’ relatives were in a position to claim His body for burial, for they were all Galileans and none of them possessed a tomb in Jerusalem. The disciples weren’t around to help either.

But there was another reason for Joseph’s act of love. In Isaiah 53:9, God directed the prophet to record an important detail about the death of His Messiah. The One who had no place to lay His head would be buried in a rich man’s tomb.

Joseph probably didn’t realize that his act fulfilled prophecy. The full answer to the why of Jesus’ death was also several days away for Joseph and the others. All he knew was that he was now a disciple of Jesus—and that was enough to motivate his gift of love.

Today in the Word, April 18, 1992
A Road 5 Miles Into the Wilderness

About 350 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?

Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision.

With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without it, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries.

Lynn Anderson
A Room Nobody Wants

When Sammy Morris, a Kru boy from Africa, came to America to be trained for Christian service, he presented himself for matriculation at Taylor University. He revealed a spirit all too rare among Christians. When the President of the University asked him what room he wanted, Sammy replied, "If there is a room nobody wants, give that to me." Of this incident the President later wrote: "I turned away, for my eyes were full of tears. I was asking myself whether I was willing to take what nobody else wanted. In my experience as a teacher, I have had occasion to assign rooms to more than a thousand students. Most of them were noble, Christian young ladies and gentlemen; but Sammy Morris was the only one of them who ever said, 'If there is a room that nobody wants, give that to me.' "

A Rum-Seller's Son Blows his Brains Out
Look at that rum-seller. When we talk to him he laughs at us. He tells you there is no hell, no future--there is no retribution. I've got one man in my mind now who ruined nearly all the sons in his neighborhood. Mothers and fathers went to him and begged him not to sell their children liquor. He told them it was his business to sell liquor, and he was going to sell liquor to everyone who came. The saloon was a blot upon the place as dark as hell. But the man had a father's heart. He had a son. He didn't worship God, but he worshiped that boy. He didn't remember that whatsoever a man soweth so shall he reap. My friends, they generally reap what they sow. It may not come soon, but the retribution will come. If you ruin other men's sons some other man will ruin yours. Bear in mind God is a God of equity; God is a God of justice. He is not going to allow you to ruin men and then escape yourself. If we go against his laws we suffer. Time rolled on and that young man became a slave to drink, and his life became such a burden to him that he put a revolver to his head and blew his brains out. The father lived a few years, but his life was as bitter as gall, and then went down to his grave in sorrow. Ah, my friends, it is hard to kick against the pricks.
Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations
A Sacrificial Death

Why did the Father will the death of his only beloved Son, and in so painful and shameful a form? Because the Father had “laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). Jesus’ death was vicarious (undergone in our place) and atoning (securing remission of sins for us and reconciliation to God). It was a sacrificial death, fulfilling the principle of atonement taught in connection with the Old Testament sacrifices: “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22; Lev. 17:11).

As the “last Adam,” the second man in history to act on mankind’s behalf, Jesus died a representative death. As a sacrificial victim who put away our sins by undergoing the death penalty that was our due, Jesus died as our substitute. By removing God’s wrath against us for sin, his death was an act of propitiation (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2,; 4:10 —“expiation,” signifying that which puts away sin, is only half the meaning). By saving us from slavery to ungodliness and divine retribution for sin, Jesus’ death was an act of redemption (Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). By mediating and making peace between us and God, it was an act of reconciliation (Rom. 5:10-11). It opened the door to our justification (pardon and acceptance) and our adoption (becoming God’s sons and heirs—Rom. 5:1,9; Gal. 4:4-5).

This happy relationship with our Maker, based on and sealed by blood atonement, is the “New Covenant” of which Jesus spoke in the Upper Room (1 Cor. 11:25; Matt. 26:28).

Your Father Loves You by James Packer, (Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986), page for December 27.
A Sad and Singular Story
When I was a young boy--before I was a Christian--I was in a field one day with a man who was hoeing. He was weeping, and he told me a strange story, which I have never forgotten. When he left home his mother gave him this text: "Seek first the kingdom of God." But he paid no heed to it. He said when he got settled in life, and his ambition to get money was gratified, it would be time enough then to seek the kingdom of God. He went from one village to another and got nothing to do. When Sunday came he went into a village church, and what was his great surprise to hear the minister give out the text, "Seek first the kingdom of God." He said the text went down to the bottom of his heart. He thought that it was but his mother's prayer following him, and that some one must have written to that minister about him. He felt very uncomfortable, and when the meeting was over he could not get that sermon out of his mind. He went away from that town, and at the end of a week went into another church and he heard the minister give out the same text, "Seek first the kingdom of God." He felt sure this time that it was the prayers of his mother, but he said calmly and deliberately, "No, I will first get wealthy." He said he went on and did not go into a church for a few months, but the first place of worship he went into he heard a third minister preaching a sermon from the same text. He tried to drown--to stifle his feelings; tried to get the sermon out of his mind, and resolved that he would keep away from church altogether, and for a few years did keep out of God's house. "My mother died," he said, "and the text kept coming up in my mind, and I said I will try and become a Christian." The tears rolled down his checks as he said, "I could not; no sermon ever touches me; my heart is as hard as that stone," pointing to one in the field. I couldn't understand what it was all about--it was fresh to me then. I went to Boston and got converted, and the first thought that came to me was about this man. When I got back I asked my mother, "Is Mr. L-- living in such a place?" "Didn't I write to you about him?" she asked. "They have taken him to an insane asylum, and to everyone who goes there he points with his finger up there and tells him to "seek first the Kingdom of God." There was that man with his eyes dull with the loss of reason, but the text had sunk into his soul--it had burned down deep. Oh, may the Spirit of God burn the text into your hearts to-night. When I got home again my mother told me he was in her house, and I went to see him. I found him in a rocking chair, with that vacant, idiotic look upon him. Whenever he saw me he pointed at me and said: "Young man, seek first the kingdom of God." Reason was gone, but the text was there. Last month when I was laying my brother down in his grave I could not help thinking of that poor man who was lying so near him, and wishing that the prayer of his mother had been heard, and that he had found the kingdom of God.
Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations
A Saga of Suffering

If you were born after 1950, you might not know the story of Ben Hur. This classic book written by a Civil War general, Lew Wallace, in 1899, was turned into a movie starring Charleton Heston, which won the Academy Award for best movie in 1959. It is a towering story of love, of suffering, of the struggle of good against evil, and finally of triumph. Judah Ben Hur, the story’s hero, grows up with his boyhood friend, Marsalla. They are ancient, Mideastern Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Judah is, of course, a Jew, and Marsalla, a Gentile. Judah is the heir of a very great and wealthy house in Jerusalem. Marsalla is a promising military man who trained in Rome as a soldier, then returned to Jerusalem as the leader of the Roman occupation forces.

During a parade, a tile falls from the roof of Judah Ben Hur’s house and strikes the new Roman ruler of the area. Judah is falsely arrested and sent to row as a slave in a Roman military ship. Marsalla knew it was an accident and could have prevented Judah’s arrest, but because of his lust for power, didn’t. In addition, Judah’s mother and sister are imprisoned in Jerusalem.

Judah hates Marsalla, and while in the belly of the military ship, providing the power for naval warfare, he vows that he will live, return to Jerusalem and free his mother and sister. Slaves in such ships rarely lived for more than a year. Judah had been rowing for three years when, in the heat of a naval battle, his ship was sunk. He saved the commander of the ship, and as a reward, was given his freedom and adopted by the commander, who was the top naval officer in the Roman navy, a very powerful and wealthy man.

He returns to Jerusalem with all the wealth and power of his new identity, and confronts the astonished Marsalla, who assumed he had been dead for years. Ben Hur demanded that Marsalla find and release from prison his mother and sister. Marsalla finds them in prison, but they have leprosy, so he whisks them away to the leper colony outside Jerusalem to live out a pitiful existence. Ben Hur is told that they are dead. His hate for Marsalla grows, and in a chariot race in which Marsalla and Judah Ben Hur are the primary figures, Marsalla is killed. With his dying breath, Marsalla, out of spite, tells Judah the truth about his mother and sister.

Judah’s hate now no longer has an object to focus on. He generalizes his hatred and becomes a bitter shell of his former self. Finally, in desperation he goes to the leper colony to get his mother and sister to take them to Jesus, this great preacher who has been performing miracles. When they get to Jerusalem where they think they will find Him, they discover that He has just been crucified. Now, all hope is gone, and despair settles over them. However, in the hours and earthquakes rocked the city, Judah’s mother and sister are healed of the leprosy, and Judah’s heart, along with his mother’s and sister’s, is turned to Jesus. Their faith, their health and their lives are restored.

It is a towering story, deeply moving, and an exquisite portrayal of the power, grace and love of Jesus. Why did I tell you about Ben Hur? Because of this interesting twist. As Paul Harvey would say, this is “the rest of the story.” When Lew Wallace set out to study the life of Christ, he was not a Christian. In fact, writing a story such as Ben Hur was the farthest thing from his mind. Wallace was antagonistic toward Christianity, and determined he would study the life of Christ so thoroughly, and then write so convincingly, that he would be able to kill the story of Christ. He wanted to prove that Jesus, if He had lived, was not God, but merely a man, that He never rose from the dead, and that Christianity was a hoax.

So he studied. This great and enormous subject drew him further and further into his research until the evidence overwhelmed him. He dropped to his knees and cried out to Jesus to be his Savior and Lord. Then, instead of writing a book to prove to the world that Jesus was not God, he wrote Ben Hur, to try to prove to the world that Jesus was God.

Max Anders, Jesus, Knowing Our Savior, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publ. , 1995), pp. 98-100
A Sense of God's Goodness

One night during an evangelistic meeting, a paralytic was wheeled down the aisle and placed near the platform. In the preliminary part of the service, the song leader caught sight of him and asked, "What is your favorite hymn?" He immediately answered, "Count Your Blessings!" There was no wail of complaint from the handicapped man, just a vivid sense of the goodness of God. Our submissiveness to God spells satisfaction for our lot on earth. This is the lesson of this Beatitude, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." This paralytic is surely heir to a greater part of earth than many a millionaire. Meekness, in this sense, is a power-the power to feel satisfaction with what God gives, the power not to merely endure it but to enjoy it to the fullest and to use it for His purpose.

A Sense of God's Goodness

One night during an evangelistic meeting, a paralytic was wheeled down the aisle and placed near the platform. In the preliminary part of the service, the song leader caught sight of him and asked, "What is your favorite hymn?" He immediately answered, "Count Your Blessings!" There was no wail of complaint from the handicapped man, just a vivid sense of the goodness of God. Our submissiveness to God spells satisfaction for our lot on earth. This is the lesson of this Beatitude, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." This paralytic is surely heir to a greater part of earth than many a millionaire. Meekness, in this sense, is a power-the power to feel satisfaction with what God gives, the power not to merely endure it but to enjoy it to the fullest and to use it for His purpose.

A Sermon Lived

A minister preached a powerful sermon on the surrendered life. As he made an appeal to his hearers to make the surrender, a woman sitting near another woman said, "That is excellent preaching, but I wonder if such a life is possible?" The other woman smiled back at her and said, "Well, I know the preacher lives such a life because I happen to be his wife."

A Sermon without the Gospel

The story is told of three people who went into a church. The first was a business man who had failed and was contemplating suicide. The second was a prodigal youth, deep in sin, who was planning a robbery. The third was a young woman who was tempted to depart from the path of virtue. The service started. The choir arose and sang an anthem about building the walls of Zion. The minister addressed an eloquent prayer to the Lord and then preached on the theme, "Is Mars Inhabited?" Afterward, the businessman committed suicide, the boy stole and landed in jail, and the young woman began a life of moral shame. What might have happened if only the gospel of personal salvation in Christ had been preached!

A Servant’s Heart

A businessman I know once asked his Bible study group, “How can you tell if you have a servant attitude?” “By the way you react when you are treated like one,” was the reply.

It’s not easy to find an attitude like that. But for a disciple, servanthood is one of the keys to growing in Christlikeness. Describing His own ministry, Jesus said: “For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).When we give Jesus Christ His rightful place as Lord of our lives, His Lordship will be expressed in the way we serve others. Therefore, one of the best ways we can demonstrate our love for God is by showing love for our fellow man. We demonstrate love for others by helping them, by sharing their problems, and by doing what we can for them. II Corinthians 4:5 says, “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” Another way of displaying servanthood is in evangelism. In I Corinthians 9:19, Paul says, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all....” Why does he say that? “...that I might win the more, “he continues. Paul knew that he would win more friends by being a servant. Although he was free from all men, he voluntarily decided to serve those he wanted to influence for Jesus Christ. Take a look at Acts 27:14-28:10. Paul was under arrest, traveling under Roman guard. The passage describes the day when the veteran missionary was shipwrecked on the island of Malta—a very cold day.

There in Acts 28:3, the Holy Spirit takes care to say that “Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks....” The Apostle Paul went out and gathered firewood. He did his part. He wasn’t going to wait for the others to do it. Servanthood then, is an attitude. It is also the mark of a leader. Think of Jesus Christ in Philippians 2:6,7 “, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.”

Why should we serve? For Jesus’ sake. Pick up a bundle of sticks...for Jesus’ sake. Look on the things of others...for Jesus’ sake. Be liberal with your time and ideas...for Jesus’ sake. Serve one another...for Jesus’ sake.

Lorne Sanny, Daily Walk, April 1982
A Share In America

In the 1950s, marketing whiz Stanley Arnold was working at Young & Rubicam, where he was asked to come up with a marketing campaign for Remington Rand. The company was among the most conservative in America. Its chairman at the time was retired General Douglas MacArthur. Intimidated at first by a company that was so much a part of America, Arnold also found in that phrase the first inspiration for a campaign.

After thinking about it, he went to the New York offices of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Beane, and placed the ultimate odd-lot order: “I want to purchase,” he told the broker, “one share of every single stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange.” After a vice president tried to talk him out of it, the order was finally placed. It came to more than $42,000 for one share in each of the 1098 companies listed on the Big Board at the time. Arnold now took his diversified portfolio into a meeting of Remington Rand’s board of directors, where he argued passionately for a sweepstakes campaign with the top prize called A Share in America.

The conservative old gentlemen shifted around in their seats and discussed the idea for a while. “But Mr. Arnold,” said one, “we are not in the securities business.” Said another, “We are in the shaver business.”

“I agree that you are not in the securities business,” said Arnold, “but I think you also ought to realize that you are not in the shaver business either. You are in the people business.”

The company bought the idea.

Peter Hay, The Book of Business Anecdotes, in Bits and Pieces, Oct., 1990
A Sheep, Not a Lamb

Twas a sheep, not a lamb,

that strayed away in the parable Jesus told.

A grown-up sheep that had gone astray

from the ninety and nine in the fold.

Out on the hillside, out in the cold,

‘twas a sheep the Good Shepherd sought;

And back to the flock, safe into the fold,

‘twas a sheep the Good Shepherd brought.

And why for the sheep should we earnestly long

and as earnestly hope and pray?

Because there is danger, if they go wrong,

they will lead the lambs astray.

For the lambs will follow the sheep, you know,

wherever the sheep may stray;

When the sheep go wrong, it will not be long

till the lambs are as wrong as they.

And so with the sheep we earnestly plead,

for the sake of the lambs today;

If the sheep are lost, what terrible cost

some of the lambs will have to pay!

Source unknown
A Shepherd

A shepherd…

1. feeds

2. guides (sheep go astray)

3. guards (against wolves)

4. heals (the wounds of injured)

J. R. Stott, Between Two Worlds, p. 120.
A Shining Light

In the Alps in Switzerland nestles an obscure village, with a castle and a church of rough, hewn stone, reached by worn steps up the mountainside. The peculiar thing about this church is that it has not a lighting system nor has ever had one.

A traveler there heard a church bell ringing and saw folks coming out of the narrow streets, each bearing a quaint little bronze lamp filled with oil and having a wick. She approached a worshiper and said, "Please, I am a stranger here, will you tell me why you carry a lamp to church?"

The woman replied, "Why, yes, I would be happy to. Years ago a duke lived in that castle. He built the church, endowed it, and asked that each worshiper bring his own lamp." The traveler replied, "I should think that would keep folks from attending the evening services."

"Oh, no, it works just the other way. It is called The Church of the Lighted Lamps. Everybody that goes makes it a little brighter and when anybody is tempted to stay at home or go somewhere else, he just remembers that the dear old church needs everybody's lamp, and if your lamp isn't there, there is so much less light."

A Sign for Unbelievers

Well over three hundred verses are concerned with the subject of Jesus’ resurrection in the New Testament. We are told that this event is a sign for unbelievers (Matt. 12:38-40); cf. John 20:24-29) as well as the answer for the believer’s doubt (Luke 24:38-43). It serves as the guarantee that Jesus’ teachings are true (Acts 2:22-24; 1 Cor. 15:12-20) and is the center of the gospel itself (Rom. 4:24-25, 10:9; 1 Cor. 15:1-4). Further, the resurrection is the impetus for evangelism (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 10:39-43), the key indication of the believer’s daily power to live the Christian life (Rom. 6:4-14, 8:9-11; Phil. 3:10) and the reason for the total commitment of our lives (Rom. 7:4; 1 Cor. 15:57-58). The resurrection even addresses the fear of death (John 11:25; 1 Cor. 15:54-58; cf. Heb. 2:14-15) and is related to the second coming of Jesus (Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7). Lastly, this event is a model of the Christian’s resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:2; 1 Cor. 6:14; 1 Thess. 4:13-18) and provides a foretaste of heaven for the believer (Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Peter 1:3-5). For a popular treatment that addresses these and other aspects, see Gary R. Habermas, The Centrality of the Resurrection, forthcoming.

Immortality - The Other Side of Death by Gary R. Habermas & J. P. Moreland, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992, p. 245.
A Sinner Who Didn't Think

A young man once said to a preacher, "I do not think I am a sinner." Then the preacher asked him if he would be willing for his mother or sister to know all he had done, said or thought, all his motives and all his desires. After a moment the young man said, "No, indeed, I certainly would not like to have them known-not for all the world.

A Slothful Man

Sloth is not to be confused with laziness. A lazy man, a man who sits around and watches the grass grow, may be a man at peace. His sun-drenched, bumblebee dreaming may be the prelude to action or itself an act well worth the acting.

A slothful man, on the other hand, may be a very busy man. He is a man who goes through the motions, who flies on automatic pilot. Like a man with a bad head cold, he has mostly lost his sense of taste and smell. He knows something’s wrong with him, but not wrong enough to do anything about. Other people come and go, but through glazed eyes he hardly notices them. He is letting things run their course. He is getting through his life.

Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking, A Theological ABC, (Harper, San Francisco, A Division of Harper Collins Publishers, 1973), pp. 89-90
A Slower Group

A first-grader wondered why her father brought home a briefcase full of work every evening. Her mother explained, “Daddy has so much to do that he can’t finish it all at the office.” “Well, then,” asked the child innocently, “why don’t they put him in a slower group?”

Our Daily Bread, August 8, 1989
A Small Handprint On The Wall

By the time the Lord made mothers, he was into the sixth day working overtime. An Angel appeared and said "why are you spending so much time on this one?" And the Lord answered and said, "have you read the spec sheet on her? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic; have 200 moveable parts, all replacable; run on black coffee and leftovers; have a lap that can hold three children at one time and that disappears when she stands up; have a kiss that can cure anything from a scraped knee to a broken heart; and have six pairs of hands."

The Angel was astounded at the requirements for this one. "Six pairs of hands! No Way!" said the Angel. The Lord replied, "Oh, it's not the hands that are the problem. It's the three pairs of eyes that mothers must have!" "And that's on the standard model?" the Angel asked. The Lord nodded in agreement, "Yep, one pair of eyes are to see through the closed door as she asks the children what they are doing even though she already knows. Another pair in the back of the head, are to see what she needs to know even though no one thinks she can. And the third pair are here in the front of her head. They are for looking at an errant child and saying that she understands and loves him or her without even saying a single word."

The Angel tried to stop the Lord. "This is too much work for one day. Wait until tomorrow to finish." "But I can't!" The Lord protested, "I am so close to finishing this creation that is so close to my own heart. She already heals herself when she is sick AND can feed a family of six on a pound of hamburger and can get a nine year old to stand in the shower."

The Angel moved closer and touched the woman, "But you have made her so soft, Lord." "She is soft," the Lord agreed,"but I have also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish."

"Will she be able to think?" Asked the Angel. The Lord replied, "Not only will she be able to think, she will be able to reason and negotiate."

The Angel then noticed something and reached out and touched the woman's cheek. "Oops, it looks like you have a leak with this model. I told you that you were trying to put too much into this one." "That's not a leak." the Lord objected. "That's a tear!" "What's the tear for?" asked the Angel. The Lord said, "The tear is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her disappointment, her pain, her lonliness, her grief, and her pride."

The Angel was impressed. "You are a genious, Lord. You thought of everything for this one. You even created the tear!" The Lord looked at the Angel and smiled and said, "I'm afraid you are wrong again, my friend. I created the woman, but she created the tear!"

Source unknown

One day as I was picking

the toys up off the floor,

I noticed a small hand print

on the wall beside the door.

I knew that it was something

that I’d seen most every day,

but this time when I saw it there,

I wanted it to stay.

Then tears welled up inside my eyes,

I knew it wouldn’t last,

for every mother knows

her children grow up way too fast.

Just then I put my chores aside

and held my children tight.

I sang to them sweet lullabies

and rocked into the night.

Sometimes we take for granted,

all those things that seem so small.

Like one of God’s great treasures....

A small hand print on the wall.

Source unknown
A Smaller Part

“Doc, you’ve got to help me!” came the frantic call to the psychiatrist. “The guy next door thinks he’s in an opera. He sings day and night at the top of his lungs. It’s driving me crazy!”

“Send him to me,” said the shrink.

A week later, the caller phoned again, sounding much calmer, “Doctor, I don’t know how you did it, but he’s not singing anymore. Did you cure his delusion?”

“Not exactly,” the psychiatrist replied. “I just gave him a much smaller part.”

Kevin Shay, in Reader’s Digest
A Snail’s Pace

“At a snail’s pace” The fastest land snail on record is a specimen named Colly, who in 1970 traversed a 2’ piece of glass in 3 minutes; a speed of .00758 mph.

Book of Lists, #2, p. 142
A Soldier's Wish

By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that fact, but I am prouder to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father never destroys. The one has the potentialities of death; the other embodies creation and life. And, while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle, but in the home, repeating with him our simple daily prayer, "Our Father Who art in Heaven...."

-General Douglas MacArthur

A Solemn Agreement

A solemn agreement, such as the pact between Jacob and Laban (Gen. 31:44). God’s love and grace are shown in the readiness to make covenants with people. When God promised Noah that he would not again destroy the world with a flood, he made a covenant with him (Gen. 6:18; 9:9-17). A very important covenant existed between God and Israel (Exod. 24:1-8), which is pictured in the book of Hebrews as the “old covenant.” When the people repeatedly broke that covenant, God promised a new covenant based on forgiveness and the writing of his law on people’s hearts (Jer. 31:31-34). Jesus inaugurated this new covenant with his blood (Mark 14:24; 1 Cor. 11:25).

The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook, Walter A. Elwell, Editor, (Harold Shaw Publ., Wheaton , IL; 1984), p. 348
A Solitary Grain

In April, the Sunday school teacher asked all eight children in her class to hide within an empty container a small object that represented life in the spring.

Not wanting to embarrass eight-year-old Stephen, whose mental retardation was becoming more manifest, the teacher suggested that the children all place their unlabeled containers on her desk. Since she feared that Stephen might not have caught on, she decided that she should open them.

The first had a tiny flower. "What a lovely sign of new life!" "I brought that one!" the donor exclaimed. Next came a rock. "That must be Stephen's," the teacher thought, since rocks do not symbolize new life. But Billy shouted that his rock had moss on it, and moss was new life. The teacher agreed.

A butterfly flew from the third container, and another child bragged that her choice was best of all.

The fourth container was empty. "That has to be Stephen's," thought the teacher, quickly reaching for the fifth.

"Please, don't skip mine!'Stephen interjected. "But it's empty." "That's right," said Stephen. "The tomb was empty, and that is new life for everyone."

Later that summer, Stephen's condition grew worse, and he died. On his casket at the funeral, mourners found eight containers. They were ALL EMPTY.

A Somebody with God

Joel C. Gregory writes:

"How many times have we had to reach the end of our own resources before we remembered to trust in God, the one steadfast resource of our lives? We're all in need of a spiritual exodus day by day. When our faith causes difficulties, our first response is to fall back on our familiar resources-people, things, self -and only when these do not help can we truly lean only upon God for our needs.

"I like what Dwight l. Moody said about Moses in this connection. Moody, not a very erudite man, had an unusual insight into Scripture. He said that Moses spent forty years in the king's palace thinking that he was somebody; then he lived forty years in the wilderness finding out that without God he was a nobody; finally he spent forty more years discovering how a nobody with God can be a somebody.

"And he was right. When Moses and the people found out they were nobodies without the resource of God, that's when the exodus began."

A Song in the Heart

Every Christian should have a song in his heart. In Ephesians 5:19 the apostle Paul speaks of “singing and making melody” in our hearts to the Lord. This verse should encourage everyone who finds it difficult to carry a tune that’s suitable for listening ears. Whether with the lips or in the heart only, singing can characterize our lives, even under the worst of circumstances. Many times that is precisely when God gives us a song to sing.

American pastor and author James H. Brookes told of visiting a friend’s house and hearing the music of a bird singing. It was not the ordinary sound of chirping; instead it resembled the strains of a lovely melody. At first Brookes didn’t know where it was coming from; but when he glanced around the room, he saw a beautiful bullfinch in a birdcage. The lady of the house explained that it had been taught to sing that way at night. The teacher would repeat the notes time and again until the bird was able to mimic them. But this was possible only because it was dark and the bird’s attention would not be diverted.

How often we learn our sweetest songs when the blackness of trial closes in around us. This was David’s experience. Cast down and almost despairing of life, he said,” the night His song shall be with me.” Elihu spoke of God giving “songs in the night” (Job 35:10).

Oh, friend, let’s not despair when the darkness of trouble descends upon us. God is with us; God will help us; God will give us a song.

Our Daily Bread, Monday, May 23.
A Song in the Night

During the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God’s provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour.

Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord’s presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. “Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day.”

It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope.

Are you facing a great trial? Take heart. Put yourself in God’s hands. Wait for His timing. He will give you a “song in the night.”

Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992
A Spiritual Grace

Roy L. Smith says that the art of forgiving is a spiritual grace every Christian should develop. Because this is so difficult to put into practice, he offers the following suggestions:

1. Begin by assuring yourself that compared to Christ’s suffering you haven’t been seriously wronged at all.

2. Recall the many kind deeds that have been shown to you, perhaps even by the person who has harmed you.

3. List the benefits you have received from the Lord.

4. Thank Him for blessing you with His love and forgiveness each day.

5. Make an honest effort to pray for the one who has injured you.

6. Go even further by looking for an opportunity to help him.

7. If the offense is especially hard to forget, try to erase the memory by thinking gracious and generous thoughts.

8. Finally, before you fall asleep at night, repeat slowly and thoughtfully that phrase from the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Some people try to punish themselves for their sins. They do not stand on the promises of forgiveness and Christ’ propitiation.

- Roy L. Smith

Source unknown
A Spiritual Lesson

A preacher was watching an old man trout-fishing, briskly pulling them in one after the other. "You manage it cleverly, old friend," said the preacher. "I passed a good many fishermen below who don't seem to be catching anything." The old man lifted himself up and stuck his rod in the ground. "Well, you see, sir," he said, "there are three rules for trout fishing: first, keep yourself out of sight; the second is, keep yourself farther out of sight; and the third is, keep yourself still farther out of sight. Then you'll do it."

A Spiritual Photograph

Spurgeon says: "We have the likenesses of our boys taken on every birthday ... so that we see them at a glance from their babyhood to their youth. Suppose such photographic memorials of our own spiritual life had been taken and preserved; would there be a regular advance, as in these boys, or would we still have been exhibited in the perambulator? Have not some grown awhile, and then suddenly dwarfed? Have not others gone back to childhood? Here is a wide field for reflection."

A Story Moody "Never will Forget"
A few years ago, in a town somewhere in this state, a merchant died, and while he was lying a corpse I was told a story I will never forget. When the physician that attended him saw there was no chance for him here, he thought it would be time to talk about Christ to the dying man. And there are a great many Christians just like this physician. They wait till a man is just entering the other world, just till he is about nearing the throne, till the sands of life are about run out, till the death rattle is in his throat, before they commence to speak of Christ. The physician stepped up to the dying merchant and began to speak of Jesus, the beauties of Christianity, and the salvation he had offered to all the world. The merchant listened quietly to him, and then asked him, "How long have you known of these things?" "I have been a Christian since I came from the East," he replied. "You have been a Christian so long and have known all this, and have been in my store every day. You have been in my house; have associated with me; you knew all these things, and why didn't you tell me before?" The doctor went home and retired to rest, but could not sleep. The question of the dying man rang in his ears. He could not explain why he had not spoken before, but he saw he had neglected his duty to his principles. He went back to his dying friend, intending to urge upon him the acceptance of Christ's salvation, but when he began to speak to him the merchant only replied in a sad whisper, "Oh, why didn't you tell me before?" Oh, my friends, how many of us act like this physician? If we don't practice in every particular the professions we make, and try to influence the lives of others, and lead the lives of Christians according to Christian precept, the world will go on stumbling over us.
Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations
A Story of Faith

Pete had become lost in the desert and had been chasing mirages. He thought to himself, I'll follow this last one. It was a deserted town with a well in the very center. His mouth parched from the intense heat, he ran to the well with his last ounce of energy.

He vigorously pumped the handle only to find that no water came forth. Then, he looked up to a note nailed to the post. It instructed its readers to "look behind the rock where a five-gallon container of water will be found" and warned against drinking or using it for anything besides priming the pump. Every ounce was needed, and not even a drop could be spared, the note emphasized.

"After pouring the water down the pump, pump the handle vigorously and all the water you desire will come forth," the note said. One last instruction was to please fill the water can and place it behind the rock for the next weary soul who might happen to come along.

How hard it is for people to give up a "sure thing" for something they cannot see at the time. Pete had a sure thing in the bucket of water and yet was instructed to pour it "all" down the pump.

A Strange Birthday Celebration

If the following story were not true, it would surely be unbelievable. It is true, however, as you yourself will agree when you have read it.

There was once a great king. His love for his people knew no limits. Although the kingdom was very large, the king knew every person by name. Everything the people of the kingdom had was a gift freely given by the loving king.

So, to show their love and appreciation to the king for all he had done for them, the people decided to have a great celebration to honor his birthday. Everyone agreed it was a marvelous idea. Preparations for the celebration were very elaborate. No expense was spared by the people. They adorned their homes with lights, decorations, and expensive ornaments. There were parties, dinners, and celebrations throughout the kingdom.

All the people brought gifts for their friends and family. Many of the gifts which the people gave each other were quite expensive, involving considerable indebtedness. In fact, the people spent more on the birthday celebration than they spent at any other time of the year.

Many who were not citizens of the kingdom, and who did not even know the king, joined in the celebration. Their celebration of the king's birth was marked by excessive drinking. Since they did not know the king, they invented a good-natured, fat fellow in a red suit. He laughed a lot, but never said anything. But that didn't matter because they were too busy celebrating to listen anyhow.

The great day of celebrating his birth finally arrived, and some of his people did come bringing gifts and thanking him for his goodness to them. But to his dismay, most of the citizens never came to his house at all on the day of celebration. And the gifts brought to the king by those few who came were very meager when compared with the gifts they had given themselves.

For the most part the people said they had been so busy with all the celebrations and personal plans that they had forgotten about the king. Several said they had thought of him, but really could not work it into their schedules or budgets to come see him or bring a gift. A few were known to be quite put out when it was suggested that going to the king's house or remembering him with a gift was important.

Those people who did come to his house and who brought their loving gifts were welcomed and blessed by the king. But when they had gone and he was alone again, the king fell to thinking of the vast numbers of his people who had forgotten and forsaken him. How could they have forgotten? Had he not loved them all? How could so many of his beloved people who had found the time and money for shopping and feasting and partying and decorating and all sorts of celebrations-how could they possibly be so thoughtless, so ungrateful or selfish? Did they not know that he, too, had feelings? Was not the purpose of the birthday celebration originally planned to honor him?

When the king was alone, pondering these questions, he felt the tears well up in his eyes. And in his loneliness, he wept.

One thought brought some hope and consolation. Even though they had forgotten him, he had not forgotten them.

A Student

In Bible times, a student. Whereas a student today studies a subject (law, architecture, or whatever), a disciple in olden days learned from a teacher. Attachment to a specific teacher was the essence of discipleship. The Pharisees and John the Baptist had disciples (Mark 2:18). The Jews saw themselves as disciples of Moses (John 9:28). The term is used often in the Gospels and Acts of the followers of Jesus. They learned from him and attached themselves wholeheartedly to him. It meant putting Christ before family and possessions. It meant taking up the cross (Luke 14:26-33). Today, too, to be a disciple of Jesus means total commitment.

The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook, Walter A. Elwell, Editor, (Harold Shaw Publ., Wheaton , IL; 1984), pp. 348-349
A Stumbling Block

A missionary society was deeply impressed by the courageous devotion of David Livingstone who worked single-handedly for God in Africa. The society wrote to Livingstone: "Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to send other men to join you." Livingstone replied, "If you have men who will come only if there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all."

A Successful Shock Treatment

A young military officer was traveling by train from Newark to New York City. He constantly introduced profane language into his conversation as he conversed with another passenger beside him. His profanity greatly annoyed a young lady who sat not far away.

At last, unable to tolerate his language further, the offended passenger leaned over and inquired politely, "Sir, can you converse in a foreign language?" "Yes," was his reply in a slightly surprised manner, "Then," she continued, "if you wish to swear anymore, you would greatly oblige me-and, no doubt, the rest of the passengers-if you would swear in another tongue."

Astonished at her suggestion as well at her audacity, the young officer was speechless momentarily. However, he finally resumed his conversation; he did not swear again-neither in a "foreign language" nor in English.

A Sucker or a Worker?

One day a peasant drove his sturdy ox through the village on the way to work the fields.

A flea sat on the ox's nose. At the end of the day, the ox and peasant trudged back through the village, the fields now plowed, and the flea still perched on the ox's nose.

The peasant and the ox trudged by the villages in silence. The flea, however, bowed grandly to every side, proclaiming "We've been plowing."

A Superior's Superior Attitude

Bruce Barton told of an incident in the life of Abraham Lincoln which illustrates a winning spirit. Lincoln, in search of firsthand information on the progress of the Civil War, sought out his general, George B. McClellan. McClellan was not at home when the President and a cabinet member arrived, so Lincoln waited an hour. At last the general returned, but instead of greeting Lincoln, he went upstairs and retired for the evening, sending a servant to explain that he was too tired to see the President.

Lincoln's companion exploded in rage, but the President laid his hand gently on the man's shoulder: "There, there, do not take it so hard. I will hold McClellan's horse if he will only bring us victories."

In his words we hear echoes of Paul's comment: "...I will not be enslaved to anything" (1Co_6:12).

A Superior's Superior Attitude

Bruce Barton told of an incident in the life of Abraham Lincoln which illustrates a winning spirit. Lincoln, in search of firsthand information on the progress of the Civil War, sought out his general, George B. McClellan. McClellan was not at home when the President and a cabinet member arrived, so Lincoln waited an hour. At last the general returned, but instead of greeting Lincoln, he went upstairs and retired for the evening, sending a servant to explain that he was too tired to see the President.

Lincoln's companion exploded in rage, but the President laid his hand gently on the man's shoulder: "There, there, do not take it so hard. I will hold McClellan's horse if he will only bring us victories."

In his words we hear echoes of Paul's comment: "...I will not be enslaved to anything" (1Co 6:12).

A Sympathetic Body

In our physical bodies a toothache makes the whole body react in sympathy; the cessation of that ache makes the whole body give a sigh of relief. Why can't it be that way in the Church? Is it because we're so blind to the close and sympathetic union that Scripture enjoins between the members, that we allow the folly of selfishness to take the place of the wisdom of unselfishness?

A Talent Is a Terrible Thing To Waste

As a pastor, a husband and a father, I have a dread of burying someone else’s talents, particularly those bestowed on women. Accordingly, I have tried to scrutinize my views, the place of tradition, the thrust of theology and the force of my prejudices. Repeatedly, I have come back to this fact: If the Lord has given gifts, I had better be careful about denying freedom for their exercise. More than that, I need to ensure that the women in my life have every encouragement from me to be what He called and gifted them to be. A major part of my life must be spent as a man caring for, nurturing, encouraging and developing gifted women because they aren’t the only ones who will give account for their stewardship. As a man in a male-oriented church, I may one day be asked about their gifts, too. I would like to be able to say I did considerably more than burying. A talent is a terrible thing to waste.

Stuart Briscoe
A Test of Belief

Two boys stood at the edge of a frozen pond. One of them said to the other, "Billy, I believe it will bear our weight." "Do you?" asked the other. "Yes." "Then get on it." "No," said he, "I don't want to." "Then," said the other, "you don't believe it will bear you."

A Test of Character

A number of years ago the Douglas Aircraft company was competing with Boeing to sell Eastern Airlines its first big jets. War hero Eddie Rickenbacker, the head of Eastern Airlines, reportedly told Donald Douglas that the specifications and claims made by Douglas’s company for the DC-8 were close to Boeing’s on everything except noise suppression. Rickenbacker then gave Douglas one last chance to out-promise Boeing on this feature.

After consulting with his engineers, Douglas reported that he didn’t feel he could make that promise. Rickenbacker replied, “I know you can’t, I just wanted to see if you were still honest.”

Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 22
A Test of Faith

God sometimes allows us to enter into discouraging situations for the primary purpose of testing our faith. At such times we must refuse to give up in despair. Like Jonah in the belly of the great fish, we must turn to the Lord when our soul is fainting within us, trusting Him completely. James H. McConkey wrote, “What can you do when you are about to faint physically? You can’t DO anything! In your weakness you just fall upon the shoulders of some strong loved one, lean hard, and rest until your strength returns. The same is true when you are tempted to faint under adversity. The Lord’s message to us is ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10). Hudson Taylor was so feeble in the closing months of his life that he said to a dear friend, ‘I’m so weak that I can’t work or read my Bible, and I can hardly pray. I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child and trust.’ And that is all the Heavenly Father asks of you when you grow weary in the fierce fires of affliction.”

Our Daily Bread, Monday, March 26.
A Time to Keep Silence

What did Solomon mean when he spoke of “a time to keep silence” in Ecclesiastes 3:7? One writer answers this question by pointing out that there is “a foolish silence, a sullen silence, a cowardly silence, and a despairing silence. None of these is to recommended. However, there is a prudent, holy, gracious silence to which Scripture enjoins us.”

If we do not learn to practice this kind of restraint, we will speak injurious words that stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1) and use harsh, uncontrolled language (Prov. 21:23). Unguarded lips always lead to serious consequences. Someone has listed six mischievous “Misses” that result: Miss Information, Miss Quotation, Miss Representation, Miss Interpretation, Miss Construction, and Miss Understanding. They are the result of talking when we should be quiet.

What power there is in the silence of self-control! John Wesley observed this in a disagreement between two women. One was speaking vehemently and gesturing wildly, while the other stood perfectly still—tranquil and unperturbed. Finally the first woman stamped her foot and shouted, “Speak! so I can have something more to say to you!” Wesley commented, “That was a lesson to me: Silence is often the best answer.”

H.G.B., Our Daily Bread, May 9
A Time to Laugh

In William Barclay's daily devotional Daily Celebration, appears this little story:

"There was a little Indian girl at school today," announced my son proudly.

"Does she speak English?" I asked.

"No," came the quick reply, "but it doesn't matter because she laughs in English!"

Laughter is the universal language. You can laugh in any language and it will be understood. Keep laughing!

If you can laugh at it, you can live with it. Laughter is to life what salt is to an egg. Laughter is the cheapest luxury man has. It stirs up the blood, expands the chest, electrifies the nerves, clears away the cobwebs from the brain, and gives the whole system a cleaning rehabilitation.

A Tithing Testimony

Many years ago a lad of 16 was obliged to leave home because his father was too poor to support him any longer. So he trudged away with all worldly possessions in a bundle dangling from his hand, resolving as he journeyed to set up in business as a soapmaker in New York.

When the country boy arrived in the big city, he found it hard to get work. Remembering the last words of his mother and also the godly advice given him by the captain of a canal boat, the youth dedicated his life to God, determining to return to his Maker an honest tithe of every dollar he earned.

So, when his first dollar came in, the young man sacredly dedicated ten cents of it to the Lord. This he continued to do. And the dollars rolled in! Soon this young man became partner in a soap business; and when his partner died a few years later, he became sole owner of the concern.

The prosperous businessman now instructed his bookkeeper to open an account with the Lord and to credit to it one tenth of all his income. The business grew miraculously. The honest proprietor now dedicated two-tenths of his earnings; and then three-tenths, four-tenths; and finally, five-tenths. It seemed as if his sales increased in exact proportion to his generosity, so that soon his brand of soap became a household word throughout the world.

The late William Colgate was this man whom God so singly prospered in return for his faithfulness to his Maker.

A Title of Jesus

This is a title of Jesus. It implies His deity (John 5:18) because the title is one of equality with God. In the O.T. it was figuratively applied to Israel (Ex. 4:22). In the N.T. it is applied to Christ (Luke 1:35). It has many facets, for example: It shows that He is to be honored equally with the Father (John 5:22-23). That He is to be worshipped (Matt. 2:2,11;14:33;28;9; John 9:35-38; Heb. 1:6); called God (John 20:28; Heb. 1:8); prayed to (Acts 7:55-60; 1 Cor. 1:1-2).

Source unknown
A Toast

Admiral Heihachio Togo, whose brilliant tactics had destroyed the Russian fleet at the battle of the Sea of Japan in 1905, visited the United States shortly after the Russo-Japanese War. At a state dinner in Admiral Togo’s honor, William Jennings Bryan was asked to propose a toast. Because Bryan was well known as a strict teetotaler, it was feared that an embarrassing breakdown of protocol was about to occur. But as Bryan stood to propose his toast, he held up his glass and said, “Admiral Togo has won a great victory on water, and I will therefore toast him in water. When Admiral Togo wins a victory on champagne I will toast him in champagne.”

Today in the Word, September 17, 1992
A Tongue's Soliloquy

I am your tongue! I am an important fellow. The Bible mentions me about 215 times (Pro 18:21; Pro 21:23, etc.). When I speak kind, thoughtful and true words, there is happiness; when I speak mean, untrue, angry or complaining words, there is trouble.

A Tool

The best carpenter in the county was asked, "Which is your best tool?" Instead of pointing to a costly power saw or drill, he picked up a simple square and said, "This is the best tool; it makes all the others work."

Let us not overlook our best tool; the simple gospel (Rom 1:16). In this verse, Paul gives four reasons why the gospel is our most effective weapon:

First, it is power. The original word is similar to our word for dynamite.

Second, it is of God. Though Rome with her imperial power was great, the power of God was greater. However sincere the motive, any alteration or substitution of that power only weakens it.

Third, it is unto salvation. In addition to being a past event and a future hope, salvation is a present reality. It can turn hate into love, despair into hope, and defeat into triumph.

Fourth, it is for everyone. The saving power of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is for all!

A Touch of His Presence

It is said that the Eastern shepherd, as he brings his sheep back to the fold each night, stands at the door and counts each one. As he does so, he puts his hand on the head of each animal. He makes a habit of touching each one of them. If he were to grow careless and neglect to habitually touch his sheep, it would soon turn its head away when it heard his voice! This, of course, could be very serious, for with such a broken habit would follow the animal's actually ignoring the warning shout from the shepherd and subsequently could be disastrous for the sheep.

If we are experiencing the Shepherd's touch daily in our lives, then we will recognize His voice when He warns of impending danger. This will mean "practicing His presence" daily. It we do not practice His presence then we have probably been practicing the presence of our enemy. Our Lord awaits the moment to "touch" our day with His presence.