AGING – Potential for service
“When Winston Churchill returned to 10 Downing Street for the second time in 1951, there was some criticism about his advanced age. A year later a reporter cornered the 78-year-old prime minister and asked him if he was going to make his announcement to retire soon.
“Churchill growled, ‘Not until I’m a great deal worse and the Empire a great deal better’,” (from James C. Humes, Churchill: Speaker of the Century, 1980; submitted by David W. Perkins, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Gonzales, LA)
ATTITUDE – Positive
Did you hear about the man who was both a veterinarian and a taxidermist? His motto was: “Either way, you get your dog back!”
BARGAINS – Not always
A man used to go to a place twenty miles out of town to drink beer. A friend asked why, and he answered that this place was ten cents less than the places in town.
“But it costs twenty cents a mile to drive out there,” the friend responded. “You’re losing money!”
“No,” said the man, “because I keep on drinking till I turn a profit.”
BELIEF – Result of loss
“When people stop believing in God, they do not believe in nothing; they believe in anything.” (G. K. Chesterton)
CHARACTER – Greatest defense
U.S. Representative Dan Daniels from Virginia told the National Prayer Breakfast some years ago: “One of the insidious dangers that constantly threaten the American people is that we shall give all of our time and resources to building a wall around the free world, forget the moral foundation of life, and thus be defeated from within.
“The Great Wall of China was a massive structure, and when completed it gave outward evidence of maximum security. Yet within a short time of its building, it was breached three times by the enemy — not by direct assault, but by bribing the gatekeeper. The collapse of the Wall did not imperil the country, but a failure in character brought about its downfall.
“On the other hand, in fourth century BC Greece, the ruler was asked why, of all the city states of Greece, Sparta alone had erected no walls. He turned to a group of young men nearby and said, ‘Sir, there are the walls of Sparta, and every man a brick.’
“So while recognizing the imperative for maximum physical strength, we must see anew that the ultimate security and all that we cherish and hold dear lies in the moral fiber, the spiritual, dynamic strength of our people.” (submitted by Derl G. Keefer, Three Rivers (MI) Church of the Nazarene)
CHRISTIAN LIFE – Takes practice
Eugene Griessman points out that “Patterns stored in memory are the key to competence in any field.” A chess master learns to recognize from 15,000 to 50,000 possible patterns on a chess board.
The Christian life also involves developing patterns of obedience that become a natural part of our daily walk.
“I know when Jesus died,” five-year-old Joshua exclaimed. “It was when He went to hang the powerlines.”
Joshua had been shown a picture of Jesus carrying the cross. Since it looked just like the utility poles in his yard, Joshua assumed that Jesus was at work for the electric company. When his Sunday school teacher corrected him, explaining that this was a picture of Jesus on His way to die, Joshua simply combined the ideas: Jesus dies when He was hanging powerlines.
Joshua hit upon an important truth. Jesus’ death and resurrection did establish a powerline for us. John 1:12: “But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God.” (submitted by David Fillingim, Ph.D. student, Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville)
In Lorraine Hansberry’s play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, Iris is a dreamer — indeed, she has so many dreams that she can’t decide which she wants most. She is married to Sidney, also a dreamer. He wants to use the little weekly newspaper he edits to destroy the powerful political machine in New York City.
One night neither can sleep, so he plays the guitar softly while Iris paces aimlessly around the room, talking about all the unfilled dreams and longings buried deep within her. Finally she exclaims, “Something is happening to me, changing me…. You know what I want, Sidney? I’m 29…. I want to make it, Sidney! Whatever that means and however it means it! That’s what I want!”
ENCOURAGEMENT – Sort of
Hudson Baggett, editor of The Alabama Baptist, shares some words of encouragement that might have been better left unsaid. Like the woman who told her preacher: Every word you said applied to someone I know. Or the man who told his preacher: “Your sermon was to me like water to a drowning man.”
On a test paper during fall final exams at seminary, the student wrote these words: “Only God knows the answer. Merry Christmas.” With that, he went home for the holidays. Upon his return to school, he received his graded test paper, on which the professor had written: “God gets an A. You get an F. Happy New Year!”
Ralph Waldo Emerson and his son once spent a half hour trying to force a calf into the barn so they could close it for the night. They pushed and struggled with that calf, all to no avail. When they finally gave up, an amused farmhand walked over, put his finger in a pail of milk, and placed it in the calf’s mouth. The calf, seduced by this maternal imitation, peacefully followed the man into the barn! (submitted by John Killinger, Samford University, Birmingham, AL)
Some of the most effective evangelism comes from a life so winsome and attrractive that it draws other people to follow after it.
JOY – Often comes through struggle
A group of modern-day “treasure hunters” were recently exploring for the wreck of a ship that had gone down centuries ago off what is now the shore of New Jersey. Modern explorers have the advantage of sophisticated sonar equipment that helps locate such wrecks. At first they were able to find a variety of small coins and metal pieces, but couldn’t locate the large gold stash they had expected; even with their sophisticated equipment, nothing turned up. The next day, however, a diver was able to locate the “buried treasure” because parts of the outer coating of the treasure boxes had been stripped away by years of pressure sitting on the ocean floor.
That is also true in life. Sometimes the greatest joy and satisfaction can only enter our lives when the pressures and difficulties have made their impact on us. (submitted by Eric S. Ritz, Pastor, Calvary United Methodist Church, Easton, PA)
Early in the nineteenth century there was a move in Philadelphia to adopt a 60-hour work week — ten hours a day — rather than the 72-hour work week which was standard for the craftsmen and artisans of the city. There was outrage among many in the “city of brotherly love” that workers should be so lazy as to demand a 10-hour workday. Maybe things aren’t so bad now after all! (submitted by Wayne Rouse, Pastor, Church of the Brethren, Astoria, IL)
LOVE – Seen in service
John Killinger tells of a companion who was with Henry Moore, the great British sculptor, as Moore was unpacking his suitcase in the hote. The friend commented on how neatly Moore’s wife Irena had packed it for him. “That’s what true love is all about,” replied Moore.
Love is seen in the small gifts of service that make life special.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” (Calvin Coolidge)
View more sermon illustrations for inspiration for your next message.