Illustrations

Subject: Putting Christ First

The Unfinished Painting

In a Berlin art gallery is a painting by German painter Adolf Menzel (1815-1905), only partially finished. It was intended to show Fredrick the Great speaking with some of his generals.

Menzel painted the generals and the background but left the king until last. He drew the outline of Fredrick in charcoal, but died prior to finishing the painting.

Many Christians come to the end of life without ever having put Christ into his proper place; center stage.

Marching Orders, Karl Laney via Ted Matamis

Subject: Servanthood

It Wasn't Important

Milt Rood worked for years and years in Spokane as a car salesman. He was also very active with the Union Gospel Mission work with juvenile delinquents.

Week by week he'd patiently teach the Word and pray with young boys in trouble.

One week Milt went into the hospital for exploratory surgery. The doctors found he was full of cancer. They sewed him up again and sent him home. He died within a week.

After the funeral, Ron Kinley remarked, "It's interesting that at the funeral no one ever asked how many cars he had sold!"

John Underhill, Spokane, via Ted Matamis

Subject: The Light of the World

Shoot the Moon

On March 5, 1998, NASA excitedly made it known that its unmanned spacecraft Lunar Prospectus discovered water on the moon. Data collected and sent back suggested that there were between 11 million and 330 million tons of frozen precipitation in the craters surrounding the north and south lunar poles.

What did all that mean to these scientists? Well, some of them believed that a water resource would be a useful provision in the colonization of the moon. You have got to be kidding! Just look at how man has destructively treated Planet Earth. Imagine what would happen if there were truly a "man in the moon."

Billions of dollars and endless research are directed at the moon, in hopes that one day it will help solve man's problems. Frankly, scientists could research God's Holy Scriptures at no cost, and truly solve every one off the world's worries.

The moon is just a passing fancy to our Creator. In His celestial city, the Bible says: "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp" (Rev. 21:23). God has all the wattage it takes to be spiritually enlightened, for now and the next world.

J. Kenneth Bassett
Timeless Signatures, © 2003

Subject: Prayer

Electric Horseman

The late John R. Rice wrote in Prayer: Asking and Receiving, 1970, about once visiting a home in Chicago, where he saw an "electric horse" exercise machine. Since he had long experience of riding horses in his youth, the evangelist was easily persuaded to try out this mechanical version. "I got on," he wrote, "pressed the button, and presto, I galloped a fine imitation of the gallop of a horse." But then, he recorded, that after he pressed the stop button, "I got off exactly where I got on! I had not been anywhere at all!"

Then Dr. Rice commented: "That is exactly like the prayer of [so many]-purely for exercise, not to get things from a prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God."

Found in Practical Illustrations-Galatians-Colossians, by Leadership Ministries Worldwide

Subject: Submission

Dead Men Walking

In 1981, Jawad Amer Sayed began running from Saddam Hussein's police. But instead of fleeing into exile, he stayed at home and hid behind a false wall. He decided to hide for as long as it would take; he had no idea it would take 22 years. But on April 10, 2003, the day after Hussein fell from power, Sayed emerged from his hideaway to the amazement of relatives and friends. Only his mother, younger brother, and two sisters were aware of what had happened to him; everyone else thought he was dead.

Unlike Sayed, the Prodigal Son ran away from his troubles but he was hiding out all the same. Jonah also ran away, first hiding out in the belly of a ship and then in the belly of a whale. Another thing the two men had in common was that they were both running from God. Sayed, on the other hand, was running from the hand of evil. In these latter days, it appears people are once again running from God. Many of these are running to the devil. God have mercy!

John Gillmartin; sheepcribone.blogspot.com

Subject: The Power of Letters

Reviving a Dying Art

These days letter-writing is being systematically killed off by the cell phone, the fax machine, the Internet, jet travel, etc. And yet, I love to get letters. They are more personal than a fax or e-mail. They are more permanent and cannot be deleted. A good letter gets read again and again, and in many cases will outlive us. The letters of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are still around, being bought and sold and treasured.

I once wrote a letter to a college student who had visited our services with his girlfriend, a member of our church. I told how he could receive the Lord Jesus as his Savior. Next day, he picked up his mail on his way to art class, and-according to his story-was so impressed, he read the letter to everyone in the room. The next time he came home with his girlfriend, he committed his life to Christ and was baptized. For the last 20+ years, Don and Rose McCain have been missionaries in Portugal. It was not the letter alone which did all this, obviously, but it played a key part.

On another occasion, I was studying for a seminary class late one night and kept hearing in my mind the voice of Martha, a choir member from our church back home in Birmingham. Two years earlier, she had sung the aria "He shall feed His flock like a Shepherd" from Handel's Messiah, and the memory of it lingered, blessing me. I put down my books and wrote Martha. Six weeks later, a letter from her came, telling what had happened. She said, "I had been to the doctor that morning. He told me I had to have surgery on my vocal chords and might never sing again. I was so distraught. Before going into the house, I picked up the mail, and there was your letter. It was a letter from God, not you, telling me that everything was going to be all right and to leave it to Him." Martha did sing again.

Scripture commands, "Therefore encourage one another and build up one another" (1 Thess. 5:11). Can a letter do that? A letter carries great power. Write!

Adapted from a message from Joe McKeever, currently director of missions of the Greater New Orleans Baptist Association.

Subject: Commitment

He Gave Up 2 Careers

Albert Schweitzer was an acclaimed theologian and an accomplished musician. He toured Europe, giving organ concerts. In the midst of a stellar career, he gave up both professions to study medicine. He wanted to go and be of service in Africa. The people there could never have appreciated the choices he had made. Later in life, when asked by a reporter why he was willing to make such a sacrifice, he simply replied, "Because Jesus asked me to do it."

God's plan requires our willingness to obey. Each of us needs to let Jesus show us ways to serve Him. It might not be a big thing. Something as simple as showing kindness to a fellow worker, or encouraging a neighbor, might be what needs to be done. Start with small steps of obedience. Who knows, Africa might be next!

"If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

Thanks to Ted Matamis

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