Sermons

“DON’T  DIE ON THIRD”
Mark 12: 28-34

l. The incident was a baseball game that took place years ago between Cleveland and Detroit.  It could happen in any baseball game.  The score was tied and it was the last half of the ninth inning with two men out.  The entire outcome of the game rested with a Tiger runner on third base. Both teams stood up at their benches and the spectators in the stadium bent forward in tense expectancy.  The man on third base for Detroit was George Joseph Moriarty.  He had gotten there in a very ordinary way.  He had gotten a single. The next batter had bunted and sacrificed him to second. Then, a long fly had advanced him to third.  Now, there he was on third base, every nerve and muscle ready to move. His mind was racing as to what he should do to score the winning run.  Much as it meant to have advanced that far, third base runs are not marked up on the score board. Third base is not a destination; it is the station on the road home.  No time for self congratulations standing on third.  So, there on third stood Moriarty.  If he failed, he was not alone; the team would fail with him.  Concentrated on him at the moment were the hopes and fears of thousands who seemed to hold their breath,  The great ball park was so still, that even the breeze seemed to forget to blow.  One way to get off third is to wait for someone to bat him in.  Another way, to get off third was to use your own initiative.  Moriarty chose the latter.  He knew the game. He excelled at stealing bases. He watched the catcher and the pitcher.  The pitcher was throwing high to the batter, Mullin.   Also, the pitcher was a left hander, so he could not watch the base runner on third as easily.  Moriarty knew all the ins and outs of his job. Luck might lie in the lap of the gods but preparation, knowledge, judgment, and initiative were with the player. If Moriarty waited for Mullin to bat, Mullin might fail, ending the inning and the opportunity to win, leaving him to die on third. One opening remained, making home, between the moment the pitch was begun and the moment the ball struck the catcher’s mitt.  Yes, steal home, in the fraction of a second that Mullin’s hit or miss hung in the balance.  That would be a contest of speed between a five ounce ball delivered with all the force of a superb pitching arm and the hundred and seventy pound body of Moriarty.  It would be an unequal contest, for the pitched ball travels only sixty feet while the runner from third base must hurl his body over a distance of ninety feet. As Moriarty was on third, he thought out how he would steal home in every detail. Now, the Cleveland pitcher was poising  for the throw.  Moriarty crouched like a tiger ready to spring.  NOW, there was a streak for the plate and then, a cloud of dust at home plate. The umpire stood over it with hands extended, palms down, he was safe. Moriarty had scored the winning run. The old baseball park echoed and reechoed with a thunderous roar of acclaim.

2. Well, that was only a run made in the cause of a baseball game, but it has been a saying to us these many years, “DON’T DIE ON THIRD.”  You may be put out, but it need not be from your own inaction.  If the run must die, let it die trying.                                                                   

I. Christ teaches this, “Don’t die on third.”         

Isn’t this what Jesus is saying to a young man?  The Scribe, along with others, was asking Jesus questions, that perchance they might catch Him in a wrong answer.  So, the Scribe tried his hand at it as he asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments which is the most important?”  Jesus answered without hesitation, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  But, Jesus does not stop with this, but goes the second mile as He says, “The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”    The Scribe acknowledged that Jesus was absolutely right and said, that such complete love to God and neighbor “is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”   Jesus was moved by the answer of this Scribe, seeing that he understood so well what Jesus had just said. Jesus then said to this young man, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”  Is not Jesus saying, “Don’t die on third?”  You’re close to home, don’t stop, and keep coming.  But, as far as we know, the tragic note here is that this Scribe did die on third.  For it appears as if this ended the matter, and no man dared ask Jesus any more questions.  What an opportunity, this man had, but he died on third.  Just to acknowledge that Jesus speaks great truth is not sufficient for entrance into the kingdom of God.
   
II. Life is like a baseball game. 

1.  Life can be likened unto a baseball game.  Life is a game, the most serious, deadly serious, contest of all.  Life has its spectators, those people watching in the stands all around us as we play the game of life.  The Hebrews writer declares, “We are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.”  Hebrews 12:1   We are encouraged by the people in the stands watching us. We do not play the game of life alone.  It is very true “that no man is an island.”  We continually are influenced by others, as well as we influence them.  Life has to be a team effort.  Those on our side, who play with us, are our team. They work with us to win the game of life.  Where ever we are in the game of life, we did not get there by ourselves. The way a lot of us have gotten around to third base is by the sacrifices of others. They have made hits for us to advance us in life’s game. What we are, we have not arrived at alone, much credit belongs to all who have helped us. If we are to win in the game of life, it must be by a team victory.  No team can be successful that does not play together to help one another.  There may be a few outstanding players, but they would nothing, if it were not for all the supporting players.  We need each other and must help one another to win in the game of life.    
2. Then, there is the opposing team, doing everything possible to make us die before reaching home.  The least little mistake we make, those against us put us out. They glory in our fumbling and delight in our failure to make a hit.  They are glad when everything in our game of life goes wrong. We dare not surrender to the pressure of the opponent. Jesus told Peter, “that the devil desired him, to sift him like wheat, but Jesus had prayed for him.”    The devil takes unfair advantage of us to make us losers in the game of life.
3. There are umpires in the game of baseball who watch the playing to see that we play according to the rule book.  A player is immediately ejected from the game if the player refuses to play as the umpire says.  It is futile to argue with the umpire, for he has the final word. In the game of life, there are rules and regulations by which we must live. The great umpire for life’s actions has stated in His rule book, the Bible, how we should play the game of life.  To ignore or reject His rules is to leave us stranded on third, unable to reach home.                    
4. The game is not over until the last out is made in the bottom of the 9th inning.  No one can count victory until the complete game is played.  There is no resting on past achievements in the game of life. We must continue to struggle and grow in the things of Christ, if we would gain home, eternal life with God.  It is the end of our faith that is the salvation of our soul.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “That he had not attained, nor counted himself perfect but he pressed on for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Someone asked Leroy “Satchel” Paige the secret of his many successful years as a great baseball pitcher and Satchel said, “I never look back someone might be gaining on me.”    No matter the failures, the outs, we have made in past games, the game of life is not over.  We are in the game now and will be until we leave this world. We must do our very best and leave with God the rest.  Jesus said, “No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.”  Undivided loyalty and singleness of purpose enables us to keep on coming home.                                                                           
5. However, differing from the game of baseball with the game of life, is that in the game of life, we can know the final outcome for us.  Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”  Mark 16:16   The Hebrew writer wrote: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  12:1    God promises us ultimate victory with Him in Heaven, if we just play, as best we can, with His help, the game of life.  We can rest assured of the outcome of our game of life, if we believe and are obedient to God’s dear Son, Jesus.

The baseball world was shocked the morning of January 28, 1958, when Roy Campanula’s car turned over on an ice streaked Long Island road and left him paralyzed. Up to this time, Roy Campanula had the world in his powerful palms, riding high as the best catcher by far in the National League.  He was living one of the great American dreams, but how swiftly this all changed. The once robust athlete was imprisoned in a mummy like world. He could turn his head slowly and stiffly, he could raise and lower his arms, limply.  Otherwise, he was totally paralyzed.  Roy was forcefully removed from the game of baseball.     Yet, I wonder,  how many of us permit the slow death of paralysis to overtake us and we become inactive, indifferent in the game of life.   Perhaps, we meant well, maybe even there was a time when we really tried to live right, but now, we are stranded on third base, not caring if we ever get home.  The Hebrew writer stated, “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great  salvation?”  2:3    We must be actively involved in playing the game of life to win and gain the Crown of Life.  We can, if we just don’t allow ourselves to die on third.              

The story is told of Lew Gehrig batting in a very crucial ball game. The count was three balls and two strikes. He prepared himself for the pitch.  He watched it come and let the ball go by.  The ump cried, “Strike three, you’re out.”  Lew turned and said something to the umpire. This was very unlike Lew. Everyone wanted to know, what Gehrig said to the ump.  Finally, Lew was asked about his remark and he answered, ” I said, I would give ten bucks to get that pitch over again.”

We must take advantage of the opportunities which come to help us to become what God would have us to be. He has given us Jesus, to save us.  He has given us the Bible, to read.  He has given us Prayer, to talk with Him.  He has given us the Church, where we can fellowship with His people.  He has given us His Spirit, to guide and comfort us.  He has done everything possible for our salvation. It is up to us to respond to God’s gifts.  “Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people.”  The invitation is to come, as we are, but we cannot stay as we are.  We must be different.  We must discipline ourselves to be a ‘Jesus person.’
“Don’t Die On Third,” come home.                                                                                        
  

By Max E Smith

——————————————

HEAVEN: PROMISED, PREPARED, PROVIDED
John 14: 1-4

I want to tell you about a victory that is out of this world. I want to attempt to share with you the greatest victory banquet of all and that’s with our Lord in Heaven. There is a lot of confusion about exactly what heaven will be like.

Several years ago a leading magazine asked grade school children: “What do you think about heaven?” As you can image their responses were both surprising and original. 8 year old Steve said, “Heaven is where you go when you die and God takes care of you like your mother did when you were alive. Except God doesn’t yell at you all the time.” 9 year old Judy said, “Only good people go to heaven, all others go where it is hot all the time, like Florida.” 7 year old Allen described it this way, “In heaven there is no homework. Unless of course your teacher ends up there, but that’s not likely.” Or here is a 7 year olds prayer concerning heaven, “Dear Lord, My grandma just went to heaven, please take care of her. By the way, her name is grandma.”

But, you know, children aren’t the only ones confused about heaven. I think the reason for some of the confusion is that although the Bible talks a great deal about heaven it does so in generalities. Scripture is not real specific about exactly what heaven will be like and sometimes it is difficult to know what is to be taken literally and what is to be understood figuratively.Even though there may be some confusion concerning what heaven is like, there ought not to be any confusion as to its reality.

Let me tell you what Jesus had to say about the matter by citing His words to His followers in JOHN 14TH CHAPTER, VERSES 1 – 3. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me for in My Father’s house are many mansion, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am, you shall be also.”

Here Jesus gives us 1.A PEACE PROMISED, 2.A PLACE PREPARED, and 3.A PATHWAY PROVIDED…

These 3 scripture verses are my favorites. In fact, when I had my tonsils out, it was in a doctor’s office in Bourbon, Indiana September 1948. I came out of the anesthetic quoting these verses.When I finished, I said to Jo, “Did good, huh?”
Let’s look in some depth as to what Jesus is saying in these verses…

First, A PEACE PROMISED…

l. Jesus knew the realities of this world. He was continually confronted by trouble, pain, sin, which He talked about and dealt with. Even as He stood face to face with death, what did He think and talk about? What do most people think about upon death’s door? Would it not be safe to say, that most of the time, those last hours would be about self.  What will happen to me? Where am I going?  Am I ready to die?  Crucial questions all of them, But, this was not the case for Jesus. His concern was not for Himself but for His followers, those He was going to leave behind at His death. Jesus knew of their troubled hearts. 

He knew that their life in this world would be one of trouble and turmoil, of heartache and heart break, of frustration and futility, of unrest and uncertainty. They were in for troubled times. Jesus had already told them that one would betray Him, that Peter would deny Him and that all of them would desert Him.  So, when Jesus says to them, “Let not your heart be troubled.”  He is not stating some nice sounding platitude. He is not whistling in the dark. He not talking about some kind of escape, avoidance of these troubles. Jesus is not talking about affliction of a physical heart.  Then what is He saying?

2. What Jesus said He said to comfort, to fortify, to encourage, to strengthen His followers.  He offered to them as He offers to us in the midst of an imperfect world–PEACE.  That’s that we need isn’t it; peace, inner rest? We are so restless.  Even when we lie down at night for rest, many times we are lying down on the outside but standing up on the inside. We just can’t turn off the cares of this world. This is a special kind of peace offered by Jesus.  He said later in this 14th chapter, “My peace I give you, not as the world gives, give I unto you.”  Jesus’ peace is not without conflict, trouble, persecution, trials.  Jesus’ peace has to do with relationship with God that brings inner assurance, triumph and victory.  

3. This inner peace from Jesus has to do with faith, trust.  We must believe in God.  There can be no ground for comfort without an intelligent belief in God. All who come to God must believe that He is and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently search after Him.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”  But, in order to make this mysterious, vague God real, Jesus insist on belief in Him. It is not enough to merely believe in God, you must believe in Jesus.  Believe in Jesus as the Teacher come from God. Believe in Jesus as Deity, God in flesh, the one who came to make God known. Believe in Jesus as the “Lamb of God, who takes away sin.”  Believe in Jesus as the resurrection and the Life who promised “Because I live, you can live also.”  There is no way to the Father except by Jesus.  This we must believe. 

4. We do not place our  trust in doctrine, nor a system, nor an organization, nor the wisdom of  man but in Jesus the Christ. He alone can offer us true peace in the midst of a troubled world. Nothing grander can come from human lips than confession from the heart, “I believe in Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In order to have inner peace, you must trust in Jesus.

Secondly, THE PLACE THAT IS PREPARED…

l. Jesus goes further to tell the disciples concerning His preparation for their peace.  Jesus not only tells them that He is going to leave them, but He tells them where He is going and what He is going there to do. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so I would have told you. For I go to prepare a place for you.”

There are those who speak of Heaven as a state or condition of the mind.  We do not manufacture heaven.  Heaven is a prepared place. Perhaps the disciple were feeling sorry for themselves because now they would be alone and homeless upon Jesus’ departure. They had given up all to follow Him. So the Master gives the sorrowing disciples a vision of immortality. It is to be a place of ample room to receive all who will come. No housing problem in heaven. The Apostle Paul tells us that “if our earthly house be dissolved, that is our body, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”  

This is exactly what Jesus is saying to His troubled followers that there is a perfect place prepared for them to which they can go. For the beauty of Christ’s promise is, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also.”
 
Jesus is promising that there will be no permanent separation.  We will be with Him in heaven.

2. Just think, we, the Christian, can be sharers with Jesus in God’s spacious Home. A home of the living; Where there is no death, decay, graves or cemeteries.  There forever free from sin, sickness suffering, sorrow, and tears.  Dr. James M. Gray put it beautifully in a song which he wrote, saying, “Who could mind the journey, when the road leads home?”

The assurance of a heavenly home at the end of life’s troublesome road enables us to endure and overcome the obstacles and battles along the way. Jesus promised, that those who suffer poverty, hunger, sorrow and ill-treatment in this life are “blessed” because their “reward is great in heaven.”  (Luke 6:20-23)  The Bible describes heaven as a place of unimaginable majesty and grandeur. We can’t begin to fathom its beauty.  But, oh won’t it be great when we get there.

Many beautiful songs have been written about Heaven and perhaps one of the finest is:

  “When all of my labors and trials are o’er,
And I am safe on that beautiful shore:  Just to be near the dear Lord I adore,

  Will through the ages be glory for me.
Oh, that will be glory for me…When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.”
  

3. It is comforting to know that Jesus physically leaving this world was not to be a permanent separation. He has gone to arrange a special and better place where we can be together, never to be separated.  Jesus has not gone to build or create such a n institution as Heaven. Rather, He has gone to make arrangements for the residence in that celestial city. It is like writing ahead for a hotel-reservation.  You don’t expect the owner to build more rooms for you, but to reserve a place for you, the expected guest.  JESUS IS TAKING RESERVATIONS FOR HEAVEN.  He is going to make certain of our arrival by coming to get us.  Jesus will return in final triumph to claim His own. He is our forerunner, our pioneer, He leads the way home.  All of this so that we may be with Him, “that where I am, there you may be also.”  We do not need to speculate on what Heaven will be like. It is enough to know that we will be forever with Jesus and our Heaven Father.   You remember Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus, opening his eyes.  What a sight as Bartimaeus saw, he saw the face of Jesus.  The Christian shuts his eyes in death and opens them in glory and sees Jesus. We will be forever with Him.  No greater hope could be ours.  With this glorious promise of being with Him in Heaven, we need to realized that heaven is a prepared place for prepared people.  No one goes to heaven except through Jesus.  There is salvation in none other. 

       Thirdly, A PATHWAY PROVIDED…

l. Jesus provides the way through Himself. It seems like Jesus makes a wrong assumption, stating that the disciple understood where He was going and why.  Thomas is brave enough to admit ignorance for he said “we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way.”    This is too grave a matter to wonder about.  Thomas must know, so he asks.  In answer Jesus spoke that amazing truth saying, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one goes to the Father except through me”.

Ponder the meaning of these words:  Jesus is the way to God, He makes access unto the Father.  We ask for directions home and Jesus not only told us but He shows us the way.

Jesus is the Truth about God.  Jesus is God in person, in flesh. Pilate asked, “What is truth?” and there He stood. We can only know God through revelation and that is exactly what Jesus did. He said, “When you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”

Jesus is the Life.  You want to know what life is all about, look at Jesus.

Here is an argument against the modern notions ‘that it does not matter what a person believes. That all religions or beliefs will lead men to heaven if they are only sincere and that God is so gracious that none will be lost.’ These notions are not true, Biblically. 

2. Denominations, sectarianism, materialism, science, communism and all other ‘isms of our day plead for our allegiance.  But, only Christ with authority speaks God’s will as He points all mankind to the way to Heaven through Himself. We must keep our eyes upon Jesus.  We must listen to Him, He alone has the words of life.

Only in Christ is there comfort in sorrow, hope in death, and a glorious immortality in Heaven.

 

Willie White tells of two missionaries who had spent 25 years serving in Africa.  They came home on the same boat that President Teddy Roosevelt was on returning from a Safari.  When they docked in New York there were bands, confetti and crowds cheering for the President.  But there was not one person to greet these veteran missionaries.  The husband said to his wife, “Isn’t that something? The President goes overseas to kill animals and he comes home to a great welcome.  We are over there 25 years trying to save souls to Christ and there is no one to meet us.”  His perceptive wife looked at him gently and said, “Yes, but remember, we are not home yet.”                 

      “JUST THINK”

Of stepping on shore and finding it Heaven.

Of taking hold of a hand, and finding it God’s.

Of breathing a new air, and finding it Celestial.

Of feeling invigorated, and finding it immortality.

Of passing from storm and tempest to unbroken calm.

Of waking up, and finding it HOME.

 

Hear Jesus anew as He speaks to our troubled hearts, “Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.”

 

You can have the PEACE CHRIST PROMISED, THE PLACE HE PREPARED IN HEAVEN if only you will FOLLOW THE PATHWAY HE PROVIDES.   

———————————————————————-

SEARCH FOR HAPPINESSS
Scripture – Philippians 4: 10-13

Happiness is that for which all of us are seeking.  In the American Constitution, “the pursuit of happiness” is a basic human right.  In economic theory, the greatest happiness of the greatest possible number of people is the purpose for human action. In the fairy tale, “they lived happily ever after.”
Radio and Television have emphasized the ceaseless struggle for happiness.  I remember listening, with my mother at the noon hour when we were home from school, such stories as:  “Our Gal Sunday”, “Ma Perkins” and “Helen Trent”.  Today, such TV shows as:  “As the World Turns,” “The Guiding Light,” “The Young and the Restless,” and others are watched by many.   I was given this little verse:  “When the world was “Young and Restless,” we all worried about the “Days of Our Lives,”  God said, you are “All My Children.”  Let me be “Your Guiding Light” and I will take you to “Another World.”
Why are we so fascinated by these shows?  Why are they so popular?  The following may be some possible reasons:
1. We enjoy the plight of others and laugh at their woes.  We have a sordid sense of humor.  Most humor is a take-off on someone’s dilemma.
2. We are curious about how other people live, especially the intimate things of their living. It is like peaking through the window of the home next door without any danger of getting caught.
3. Misery likes company.  We find a sense of relief in seeing the shame, guilt, troubles that others go through.   We live out these shows vicariously. 
The theme of all these shows seems to be that no matter what happens be it divorce, defeat, destruction, death, disaster, through it all one should and has the right to be happy.  I wonder if this is a basic feeling of ours, that no matter what, we deserve to be happy?  If we can’t find happiness with one church, we seek for another, if one mate does not satisfy us, we seek for another, if one job does not give us what we think we deserve in the way of happiness, we hunt for another job.  No matter what the cost or who it hurts, we must have happiness.  We have made happiness the end and goal of our lives.
We strive for happiness in the accumulation of things such as:  money, pleasure, power, popularity. 
 Our search for happiness is interesting because in the Bible nothing is said that man must be happy. Instead the Bible teaches that happiness comes as a result of right living.  This is one of the strangest contradictions of our faith that God’s message, the Good News, has proved itself to be the most important factor for the happiness of mankind. Look at the Gospel and see that the central figure is the Man of Sorrow, who was despised and rejected by men.  His outstanding victory came in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He surrendered His will to do the Will of His Father.  The greatest miscarriage of justice was Calvary, Christ’s crucifixion.  Yet out of the story of Jesus, where grief seems to be crowed, true happiness for man is to be found.

I want to take as an example, two men in the Bible and learn from their “Search for Happiness” that happiness comes from within.  It is not in outward circumstances.

I- First man, the Author of the book of Ecclesiastes.
Traditionally, the preacher of the Book of Ecclesiastes, who writes this message, is Solomon.  This man of God is in search for an adequate purpose for life. He longs for satisfaction, for happiness and does anything to endeavor to obtain it.
First, he seeks for happiness in wisdom.  He gave himself to seek and search out all things. He made himself a slave to learning. Yet, the conclusion of all his searching after knowledge was “Study is a weariness of the flesh and the writing of many books there is no end.”   He found that knowledge only increased responsibility.  There is no end to the gaining of knowledge, so it just leads to sorrow.
Secondly, Solomon searches for happiness in pleasure.  This is a big jump from the pleasures of learning to the gratification of the senses. He leaves his study, his library, his laboratory and goes into the park and play houses.  He exchanges the company of the scholars and philosophers for the company of the wit and merry makers. He tried laughter and pleasure to see if this would bring him happiness, but it ends in boredom.
Thirdly, he turned to drugs.  He forced himself to become attached to strong wine, but found this to be foolishness.  He said, “Wine is a great cheat, a mocker, making it impossible for a person to say, I will give myself to it this far and no farther.”  It will become your master, if wisdom is not applied to taking drugs.
Fourthly, Solomon turned to labor.  He lost himself in the building of houses, making gardens and orchards, increased his servants and took up ranching with many cattle. But, he could not find happiness in activity.
Fifthly, he thought wealth would do it for him. Because of his wealth, neighboring kings and rulers sent him their richest presents in order to obtain his favor.  He concluded that, the more money you have the more you want. There is no deep satisfaction in wealth itself.  Solomon said, “That the sleep of a laboring man is sweet whether he eat little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”  He realized that “naked came we from our mother’s womb and naked we shall return”  taking nothing with us which our hands can hold.
Six, Solomon’s downfall was his 700 wives and 300 concubines.  These heathen wives led him astray. As recorded in 2 Kings 11: 3-4  “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God.”   He found sexual pleasure to be a slippery slope.
Thus, we see that Solomon, who took a realistic view of life, discovered that the real purpose of life was not found in those things which are so superficial, yet considered by most to be so important.  He, like so many, sold his soul for a mess of pottage.
Do not miss Solomon’s conclusion for life, “Fear God and keep His commandments.”

 2. The second man, I want you to see is the Apostle Paul
Let’s turn from the palace to a prison, from riches to rags, from Solomon to the Apostle Paul.   What a complete contrast.  How differently Paul lived than Solomon. Now Paul, while still Saul of Tarsus, could have had everything that Solomon counted dear. But, he refused it all to be a Christian.  Just think of the hardships he suffered as a   Christian.                                                                              
He was thrown into prison often, he received floggings (whippings),  stoned, left outside the city of Lystra as if dead, lied against, beaten and tortured.  Paul left a wealthy life, a career of position and prestige as a rabbi, among the Jews, to become a follower of Christ.  Paul said, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ…I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.”  (Philippians 3:7)
Yet, in all this, Paul is happy with a happiness the world can neither give nor take away.
Paul is a prisoner in Rome and he writes in the Philippians letter such words as these:  “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, Rejoice.”   “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  “I rejoice in the Lord greatly.  I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
This sounds like a man who is truly happy.  Yet, outward circumstances have not contributed to this happiness.

 Can we learn that happiness is not in outward circumstances but is gained as a  by-product?  That is, if a person makes happiness the one end and aim of his life, he is sure to miss it.  But, when we fill our lives with noble interests and Christ like living, happiness comes unexpectedly. Living for Jesus is the secret of Paul’s happiness.

This poem preaches a great sermon:  “DON’T WHINE”
“Today, upon a bus, I saw a lovely girl with golden hair, Envied her, she seemed so gay and wished I were as fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle; She had one leg and wore a crutch; and as she passed, a smile.
O God forgive me when I whine.  I have two legs. The world is mine.

And then, I stopped to buy some sweets. The lad who sold them had such charm. I talked with him, he seemed so glad.  If I were late ‘twould do no harm.
And as I left he said to me: “I thank you. You have been so kind. It’s nice to talk with folks like you. You see,” he said, “I’m blind.”
O God forgive me when I whine. I have two eyes. The world is mine.

Later, walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue. He stood and watched the others play. It seemed he knew not what to do.
I stopped a moment, then I said: “Why don’t you join the others, dear?”
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew, he could not hear.
O God forgive me when I whine. I have two ears. The world is mine.

“With legs to take me where I’d go.  With eyes to see the sunset’s glow. With ears to hear what I would know.
O God forgive me when I whine.  I’m blessed indeed. The world is mine.”
                                                                        Anonymous…
What a terrible mistake we make when we search for happiness in the outward things and in the extraordinary things.  Selfishness produces unhappiness.  The truth is that happiness is within the reach of each one of us.  We desire happiness so much, because we feel the emptiness of our living.  We are bored with life and the pain of  boredom hurts. We are empty and bored, because we lack relatedness.  God made us for Himself and each other.  We need Him and each other. Living is worth while when we live for worthwhile things.  Happiness will come, when we live for the highest and best that we can know which is knowing Jesus Christ.  We are truly happy, when we become an heir of God and joint heir of eternity with Christ.  We experience this, when we know His promise of immortality, living eternally in His presence.  Our trust in God, through faith in Jesus, will give us the right to be children of God.  This will bring us happiness. Search no farther. True happiness is found in Jesus.    

—————————————————                

“SEEING GOD”
Scripture: Isaiah 6: 1-9a

l. Our greatest need is to see God. Philip asked Jesus, “show us the Father and we will be satisfied.” To see Him would be sufficient. Jesus said, “Have I been so long time with you that you do not know Me, he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” So, the heart’s cry of man is, “Sir, I would see Jesus.” When the Greeks came asking such a question, Andrew took them to Jesus. The Apostle Paul had a vision of Jesus at the city gate of Damascus. Jesus spoke to Saul of Tarsus (Paul) telling him, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Paul’s whole life was turned around. The success of his life was as he said, “I was not disobedient to that heavenly vision.”

2. Understand that to see God is what worship is all about. To see God, is what the Bible is all about. To see God is what Jesus is all about. To see God is what life is all about. To really see God is to know Him, to know Him is to love Him, to love Him is to obey Him and to obey Him is to be saved.

3.Here comes Isaiah stating, “I SAW THE LORD.” What an encounter. What an exciting declaration. LISTEN TO THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT IN ISAIAH THE SIXTH CHAPTER VERSES ONE THROUGH THE FIRST PART OF VERSE 9…

Verse 1…The time this happened Isaiah tells us is “IN THE YEAR THAT KING UZZIAH DIED.”
Uzziah was an outstanding king. He led Israel in prosperity. He was the greatest king that had held the throne since Solomon. But, as so often happens, success went to Uzziah’s head. He became intoxicated with his own importance. He became inflated with pride. One day, under the spell of his conceit, he went into the temple and stretched forth his hands to a holy task that God had reserved only for His priests. Therefore, Uzziah was stricken with leprosy. The fatal disease dragged him from his throne to his grave. The death of Uzziah and the vacancy of the throne broke Isaiah’s heart. He felt that all hope for Israel was dead. Under the burden of this great sorrow, Isaiah went into the temple. He was in the right place to find answers for his sorrow. He went to church to worship God. It was absolutely necessary that Isaiah have this vision of the Lord. Isaiah was preoccupied with the death of King Uzziah. Isaiah’s gaze was so fixed on an earthly king that he failed to see the King Eternal.

In the temple, Isaiah saw the LORD. He saw Him high and lifted up. He saw Him exalted, above all, reigning supreme as the everlasting King.

I am indebted to Dr. R.C. Sproul in his book, “The Holiness of God” for some of the insights that I share with you.

Isaiah does not use the personal name for God, “YAHWEH” because that is too sacred to even pronounce. He uses the title, “Adonai” meaning the supreme Sovereign One. It is the same title given to Jesus when He speaks of Himself as Lord meaning Master.

God was dressed in the clothing of Monarchs. God’s robe filled the temple. His garments were magnificent.

Verse 2…Angelic creature called Seraphim ministered in the immediate presence of God. They had six wings. With two wings they covered their face. They shielded their eyes from the direct gaze on the face of God. You cannot look upon God’s face and live. Even Moses when he asked to see God’s face was allowed only to see his back side. Impossible for us to see God in His pure essence. Before that can ever happen, we must be purified. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

With two wings, the Seraphim covered their feet. Feet are a manifestation of creatureliness. We say, “feet of clay” meaning our humanity, our weakness.

Verse 3…With two wings, the Seraphim did fly. They were singing, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD ALMIGHTY”. What a song of honor and glory. They acknowledge God to the highest heights. They lifted Him to the superlative degree. No where is this degree given to any other attribute of God. No where does it say God is love, love, love or mercy, mercy, mercy. But, here it states that God is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY meaning completely separated from and exalted above all creation. He is perfect.

Verse 4…All were moved by the presence of God. The whole building shook The temple was filled with smoke, indicating the presence of God filled that place.

Verse 5…Isaiah was moved. Isaiah saw the living God in all of His holiness and cried out. “WOE IS ME.” When he saw God, he saw himself. When he saw God in all of His perfection, he saw himself in all of his imperfection. Out of sinful guilt, he cried out a curse against himself. Woe is the opposite of blessed. It is an announcement of doom. He pronounced the judgment of God upon himself. He was calling down the curse of God upon his head.

Isaiah cried, “I AM UNDONE.” He is saying, “I am ruined, I have come unraveled, I am coming apart at the seams. It describes the experience of personal disintegration. His self esteem was shattered. He was humbled in the presence of the Perfect One.

Isaiah cried, “I AM A MAN OF UNCLEAN LIPS”. Strange statement. We would have thought that he would say, “I am a man of unclean habits.” Instead, he calls attention to his mouth. I have a ‘dirty mouth’. Jesus said, “It is not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles a man, it is what come out of his mouth that defiles him.”

Isaiah understood that the whole nation was infected with dirty mouths. Isaiah had a new understanding of sin. For the first time, he understood who God was. At the same instant, for the first time, he really understood who he was. He was naked and alone before God. Guilt overwhelmed him.

Verse 6 and 7…God took immediate steps to cleanse Isaiah and restore his soul. He commanded one of the Seraphim to jump into action. The angelic creature flew to the altar with tongs. He took a glowing coal and pressed it on the lips of Isaiah, searing them. Isaiah felt the holy flame burning his mouth. The dirt in his mouth was being burned away. He was cleansed throughout, forgiven to the core.

Verse 8…Forgiven, Isaiah hears the voice of God asking, “WHOM SHALL I SEND? AND WHO WILL GO FOR US?”

Isaiah understood the challenge to be a spokesman for God. God was looking for a volunteer to serve Him. Isaiah responded, ‘HERE AM I SEND ME.”

True worship requires such a response. Look no further; I will go, send me. We enter to worship and we depart to serve. We are saved to save others by sharing the Word. We are either a missionary or a missionary field. A Christian is a beggar telling another beggar where to find food.

Verse 9a…God said, “Go and tell this people”. God was able to take a shatter man and send him into the ministry. He took a sinful man and made him a prophet. He took a man with a dirty mouth and made him God’s Spokesman

God did that with Isaiah, He can do the same for us. He can speak to us and through us. In order for that to happen, WE MUST SEE GOD. And we can, IN JESUS, GOD’S SON. We are without excuse, we can see God. He has given us the revelation of Himself in the written Word, the Bible and the living Word, His Son, Jesus.

As Bernard Lea Rice said it in his poem, “SEEING GOD IS AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART”.
“I could see God tonight, if my heart were right.

If all the rubbish of my soul were cleared away, my being whole.
My breast would thrill in glad surprise at all the wonder in my eyes.

If my heart were right, I could see God tonight,
And in the radiance of His face,
I’d flame with light and fill this place with beauty and the world would know
The face of God down here below—tonight.
If only my dull heart were right.”

Seeing God is an affair of the heart.
It does not matter the style of worship. The trappings of the service do not necessarily make for true worship. We must fill our worship forms with substance. True worship only happens when we can say, as a result, “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and lifted up.”
True worship produces a response, “HERE AM I, SEND ME”.

See God, see yourself and hear his challenge to Go with the Good News to the whole world. Be a volunteer in the Lord’s service. God needs and can use humbled people. A person who realizes what God has done for him will share Him with others. Availability is more important than ability.

God appears, man repents.
God forgives, God sends.
From brokenness to mission is God’s way with man.
You have not worshipped today, if you did not see God. When you truly see God, you will see yourself sinful in need of His forgiveness. When you accept His forgiveness, you will share that Grace with everyone.

By Max E Smith

7 Responses to “Sermons”

  1. It has been too long since I’ve heard one of your sermons,,,,keep up the good work,,,and give Jo a hug from us.

  2. Truly enjoyed the sermon, Search for Happiness.
    Excellent job. Was a great one for reading.
    Thanks.

  3. I became a preacher because of your love in Christ and love for Him and his word. I could have not preached it better. HA! HA! The blessing on God on your knew work.

  4. Keep up the good work. Enjoy your sermon. Hope Jo is feeling better.

  5. Max,
    Thanks so much for all the devotionals and the sermons. I have saved every one of them and use them on a regular basis. This is a great website. Lynette and I miss you guys and love you very much.

  6. Dad, I’ve used your “Don’t die on third” the other day for a Nursing Home devotional. But now I can see what I had forgotten about the illustrations. Thanks for putting this up. I’ve cut and pasted it so I can rework it into a sermon of my own. Thank you! — Love to you and Joann, Dan

  7. Max,
    I was a member of Oceanside Christian at one time. I now have joined FCCC. I love both churches and have been very fortunate to hear you preach. I just did my devotional this morning and read many of your sermons. My intent was to read one but could not stop. There is a reason for that I’m sure. I thoroughly enjoyed your sermon on happiness. Thank you.

    Andee

Leave a Reply

*
To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image