Subject: Christ's sacrifice/forgiveness

Massive Debt

The National Debt Clock in Times Square, New York shows the current amount of outstanding debt owed by the United States. At the moment, it reads over $10.8 trillion. Let's express that in digits-$10,800,000,000,000. Your personal share of that is over $35,000. It will have increased even by the time you've finished reading this.

If you had to pay $1 million per year, it would take you over 10 million years to pay it off by yourself. You can't do it! It is an insurmountable debt.

This is what Jesus was discussing in Matthew 18:21-35 as He explained forgiveness. The king felt compassion for the slave and released him and forgave him the debt. That slave could not pay back the debt. Neither can we repay the debt of sin we are under.

"He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay." Thank God for His compassion in releasing us from our indictment and forgiving us of the insurmountable debt of sin. We can never pay it on our own (Gal. 2:21), but Christ paid it for us on the cross.

Bulletin Digest

Subject: The Crucifixion

Christ's Work on the Cross

Rembrandt Van Rijn, the famous Dutch artist, once painted a picture of the crucifixion. Vividly he portrayed Christ writhing in agony on the cruel cross. Vividly he depicted the various attitudes of those around the cross toward their suffering Savior by their facial expressions.

Apart from the Savior's death, the most significant thing about the painting is the artist's painting of himself, standing in the shadows on the edge of the onlookers. This was Rembrandt's way of saying, "I was there, too! I helped to crucify Jesus."

We too were there, standing with Rembrandt in the shadows; our sin nailing Him to the tree. Christ suffered in our place, and dissolved the shadows of sin with the light of His love through His death and resurrection.

Leadership Ministries Worldwide
Practical Illustrations: Galatians-Colossians

Subject: Focus

It Depends on What One Looks at

One ophthalmologist said that there were more nearsighted people in New York than in any other city in the country. His reasoning was that people were always down among the skyscrapers, hemmed in by the walls of high buildings which, in turn, limited their field of vision. For many, the only opportunity for distant vision was to look up at the sky, and very few did. Thus, he said, the constant use of the eyes for short distances tends to lead to nearsightedness and dissatisfaction.

Often, our eyes can be so focused on the immediate that we lose sight of the ultimate.

From The Story File by Steve May, copyright 2000 by Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Subject: Patience/Trust

Almost There

In this day and age, if you were to ask most people off the street to define Palm Sunday, they would be clueless. Most often, the day is lost in the festive swatch of the retail Easter fabric.

A few days before the Jewish celebration of Passover, Jesus made his final journey into Jerusalem. Almost everyone, including some of his most intimate disciples, saw Jesus as someone who would save them instantly from Roman occupation and oppression.

In kingly fashion, they cast palm leaves and their valuable coats in front of the plodding colt on which the He was mounted. Many shouted "hosanna", meaning "save us now we pray." All the religious hoopla, joy, and expectancy, though, would turn to disappointment for His followers at His trial and crucifixion later that week. Because they misunderstood His timeline, they became discouraged.

Don't give up! The resurrected Jesus is truly coming to free the world from Satan's chains and reign as the King of kings! And we will reign with Him. 1 Peter 1:6 says, "In this you greatly rejoice, even though for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials." Palm Sunday reminds us that there is still some suffering ahead for those who are truly committed to Christ, but each day brings us closer to His coming reign!

J. Kenneth Bassett
Timeless Signatures

Subject: Salvation

The Door of God's Grace

One warm summer day, a bird flew through the open door into a chapel where services were being conducted. Full of fear it flew backward and forward near the ceiling and against the windows, vainly seeking a way out.

In one of the pews sat a lady who observed the bird, thinking how foolish it was not to fly out through the open door to liberty. At last the bird's strength was gone; it rested a moment on one of the rafters. Then, seeing the open door, it flew out into the sunshine, venting its joy in a song.

The lady who had been watching the little bird thought to herself: "Am I not acting as foolishly as I thought the bird was? How long have I been struggling under the burden of my sin in the vain attempt to get free, and all the while the door of God's grace has been wide open."

Then and there, she decided to enter in.

Aquila Webb
1,000 New Illustrations

Subject: God's Forgiveness

A Sufficient Savior

There was a Scotsman who had formerly been a notable character: a prize fighter and gambler. Changed by the grace of God, he became a mighty soul-winner, and the Lord was greatly blessing his message.

Just before he got up to speak at one service, someone sent an envelope up to the platform. Opening it, he found a long list of sins and crimes that he had committed in that very city.

At first he felt that he must run away, but stepping boldly to the front of the platform, he said, "Friends, I am accused of crimes and sins committed in your city. I will read them to you." One after another, he read these charges, and at the conclusion of each he said, "I am guilty."

When he had finished the whole list, he paused for a moment and then said, "You ask how I dare come to you and speak of righteousness and truth, with a list of offenses like that against my name? I will tell you: It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all" (1 Tim. 1:15).

via Knight's 3,000 Illustrations

Subject: Faith

Lashed to Christ

Loose objects on the deck of a ship will be blown or washed overboard when a storm comes. The only way to keep them firm is to lash them to something fixed. Whatever pitching and rolling the boat endures will not cast them loose if they are well fastened.

It is not the bit of rope that gives them security, but rather the stable object to which they are firmly tied.

Lash yourself to Christ by faith, and whatever storm or tempest comes, you will be safe, standing firm and immovable on the Rock of Salvation.

Adapted from Alexander MacLaren
via MacLaren's 1,024 Best Illustrations

Subject: Sin's Bondage

A Buried Past

"The truth," Jesus said, "shall make you free" (John 8:32).

On the night in 1838 that Jamaica's slaves received word that the British Empire had officially outlawed slavery, a group of the newly freed men made a mahogany coffin and dug a grave.

Into the coffin they crowded all the various relics and remnants of their previous bondage and sorrow. The placed the whips, torture irons, branding irons, coarse work clothes, handcuffs, and other objects in the coffin and screwed down the lid.

At the stroke of midnight on the day of emancipation, the coffin was lowered into the grave. Then the whole throng of thousands celebrated their redemption from slavery by singing the Doxology.

Christ has set us free from the chains of sin. When we have accepted Him, we bury the reminders of our former life and praise Him for His miracle of salvation.

Knights 3,000 Illustrations

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