Lewis’s is a large department store in Birmingham, England, which made plans to expand. In the way of their expansion plans was a tiny Quaker chapel — a Friends’ meeting house.
The store sent a letter to the leaders of the congregation: “Dear sirs. We wish to extend our premises. We see that your building is right in the way. We wish therefore to buy your building and demolish it so that we might expand our store. We will pay you any price you care to name. If you’ll name a price we will settle the matter as quickly as possible.”
A return letter was received promptly by the store’s management. It read: “We in the Friends’ meeting house note the desire of Lewis’s to extend. We observe that our building is right in your way. We would point out, however, that we have been on our site somewhat longer than you have been on yours, and we are determined to stay where we are. We are so determined to stay where we are that we will happily buy Lewis’s. If therefore you would like to name a suitable price we will settle the matter as quickly as possible. Signed, Cadbury.”
Of course, the Cadbury’s are the great candy company of England, and could very well have purchased Lewis’s many times over. The point is that it is not the size of the building that counts but who signs the letter! And as Paul told the Corinthian church, “You are a letter from Christ … written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Cor. 3:3). (Maxie Dunnam, The Communicator’s Commentary, Vol. 8; submitted by Wayne Rouse, Pastor, Astoria Church of the Brethren, Astoria, IL)
CONFIDENCE — in face of adversity
As he was carrying his baseball and bat into the backyard, the little boy was heard telling himself, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!”
He tossed the ball into the air, swung mightily, and missed completely. “Strike One!” he cried out, then — as he again tossed the ball into the air — he said, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” Once again, he missed: “Strike two!”
After looking over the ball and bat, he reminded himself: “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” He tossed the ball in the air, swung with all his might, and missed again.
“Strike three!” he exclaimed. “I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!” (submitted by Wayne Rouse, Pastor, Astoria Church of the Brethren, Astoria, IL)
DESIRES – Determine results
Rick Brand tells about the man who had attended an evangelistic tent meeting. He had to listen to the sermon before he could get a hot meal. When he came out of the meeting with a big smile on his face, his buddy asked why he was so happy.
“I just heard something really great. They told me that a man reaps what he sows. That means if I sow wine, women and song, I’ll be able to reap wine, women and song!”
It works that way, but that is the curse of it. You never get any better than you want. God so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that we might want better than we have, (submitted by Rick Brand, Pastor, Bethel Presbyterian Church, Bethel Park, PA)
An Indianapolis school teacher had the duty of telling her nineteen second-graders the results of their state-required progress test taken earlier that year. Unfortunately, not all of them had passed the test.
As the teacher spoke with each one, it was easy to tell which ones had passed — their facial expressions told the story. Those who failed walked quietly back to their seats. For one little boy, it was all too much. Though he tried to hold back the tears, they began to flow.
Then the unexpected occurred. One by one, the children came to the crying boy’s desk to comfort him. They patted him on the back, hugged him (as only seven-year-olds can hug), and told him not to worry — he would get another chance in summer school. They shared love and encouragement with a friend when he needed it most. Those children passed an even more important test that morning, (submitted by David L. Chancey, Pastor, Carmel Baptist Church, Carmel, IN)
EXPECTATIONS — We live up to
Three Eastern European immigrants were being processed at Ellis Island. Unable to pronounce or spell their names, the clerk recorded their names as Glass, Diamond, and Taylor. After being processed, the three friends went their separate ways.
Years later, they met again as retirees in Florida. They compared notes on how each had made out.
“I did very well,” said Mr. Glass. “I started a company and I have branches everywhere. Look in the yellow pages under Glass Installers — that’s me.”
“I started my own company, too,” Mr. Diamond explained. “We sell jewelry. Go into any decent-sized town and you’ll find a Diamond Jewelers.”
The third man said, “Well, because my name was Taylor, I started a clothing store. The first store failed. I opened another one in another town. That failed, too. I had a family to support and no money and no job. I prayed, ‘Lord, help me to bear this burden. Help me to open another store — one that will grow and prosper. If you do that, Lord, I’ll give you half the profit’.”
“How did you make out?” the two men inquired.
“Are you kidding?” he responded. “Haven’t you ever heard of Lord and Taylor?” (submitted by Edward Chinn, Pastor, All Saints’ Church, Philadelphia, PA)
FUTURE — Quotations
“It is the business of the future to be dangerous.” (Alfred North Whitehead)
“No one can walk backward into the future.” (Joseph Hergesheimer)
“The trouble with our time is that the future is not what it used to be.” (Paul Valery)
Lawyers speak of a mens re — a Latin phrase meaning “guilty mind.” A criminal is not only one who commits an act he knows violates the law; a criminal can be one who knows what he does is wrong even if he knows of no particular law against his act. (James B. Stewart, The Prosecutors, p. 38)
By this standard, every person stands condemned before the heavenly court. Guilt does proceed from a guilty mind; we all commit acts we know are evil even if we do not know the statute which forbids the act. (submitted by Rick Davis, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Midlothian, TX)
OPPORTUNITIES — Must be claimed
Arthur Caliandro, who succeeded Norman Vincent Peale as senior pastor of New York’s Marble Collegiate Church, was faced with an administrative decision. He put off making the decision, hoping it would take care of itself or that someone else would handle it.
A friend, Amos Parrish, invited Arthur to lunch. During the meal, Amos asked the pastor, “Do you know the game of baseball?”
Arthur said he did, so Amos asked, “What does the pitcher do?”
“He throws the ball to the batter.”
Amos said, “Then tell me what the catcher does.”
Arthur answered, “He stands behind the batter and catches the balls the batter either misses or chooses not to hit.”
Amos went on to explain: “Some people are pitchers. They take charge of things. They throw the ball. Others are catchers. They don’t make decisions. They are on the receiving end. They catch whatever is thrown at them. When you want to do something with your life, be a pitcher!” (submitted by Edward Chinn, Pastor, All Saints’ Church, Philadelphia, PA)
Judith Viorst, in her book Necessary Losses, comments on our unrealistic expectations for our children: “Because we believe ourselves to be better parents than our parents, we expect to produce ‘better’ children than they produced…. Letting our children go, and letting our dreams for our children go, must be counted among our necessary losses.” (submitted by David W. Richardson, Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Dexter, MO)
POTENTIAL — Can rise above
Bear Bryant, who coached the University of Alabama to several national football championships, once commented: “I’m a good coach of a boy who isn’t a champion but doesn’t know it. My walls are filled with photos of boys who weren’t champions but never found out.”
A Japanese businessman and an American businessman were both taken hostage. After all efforts failed, they were told they’d be shot — but each would get one last wish.
The Japanese businessman said, “I’d like to deliver one more lecture on the superiority of Japanese management techniques.”
The American responded, “I’d like to be shot first so I don’t have to listen to it!”
SALVATION — Quotations
“The way to be saved is not to delay, but to come and take.” (Dwight L. Moody)
“We are saved by someone doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.” (Donald Lester)
“Souls are not saved in bundles.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Chuck Swindoll quotes a cartoon showing a grandson saying to his grandfather: “In your day you didn’t have all these social diseases. What did you wear to have safe sex?”
Grandfather answered, “A wedding ring.” (Swindoll is Senior Pastor of First Evangelical Free Church, Fullerton, CA)
Edward Chinn tells of the two men who happened upon an ancient lamp. When one of them rubbed it, a genie appeared before them and said to each of them, “I can grant you one wish.”
The first man said, “I want to be the smartest man in the world.” The genie said, “So be it.” Then the genie turned to the second man and asked, “What is your wish?”
“I want to be smarter than the smartest man in the world.” The genie said, “So be it — and turned him into a woman! (Chinn is Pastor of All Saints’ Church in Philadelphia, PA)
View more sermon illustrations for inspiration for your next message.