sermons


Prayer Asks for Help

Psalm 121:12

Central Theme:  Prayer is a cry for help.

Introduction–I have a friend who has a poster.  It says,  “When things are so bad or scary that you don’t know what to prayer, memorize this prayer and pray it:  HELP!  God gives us prayer so that we can ask for help.

                  Have a member read Psalm 121:12.

I.     Tell the story of Samuel and the Philistines (I Samuel 7:4-11)

A. God sent the Philistines to punish the Israelites.

B.  The Israelites repented and Samuel prayed for help.

C. God sent lightning and thunder and the Philistines were scared and ran away.

  II.     Praying for help is usually what we do best but somethings keep us from asking for help.

A. We have sin in our lives and we don’t want to talk with God.

1.  This can be subtle and sneaky.

B.  We think we can handle the mess ourselves because we are prideful.

C. We are looking to other people for all our help–professionals and parents.

Conclusion  Prayer is a great tool when we need help.

What is real Power?

Acts 3:6

Central Theme:  The power to effect lives is real power.

Introduction–I called up a young couple with a new baby and we had a baby dedication.

I.     Have a member Read Act 3:6.

A. Tell the story of Peter and the man who was sitting at the temple gate and he could not walk.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter prayed and God healed the man at the gate of the temple.

              B. God wants us to effect and change lives in the same way that Peter was able to effect the man who was healed.

C. Peter said, “I don’t have any money but what I have I can give.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.  Peter gave what he had.  In the same way, God wants us to give what we have.

II.     Not many of us will do this kind of miracle.

A. But we can do a miracle that is just is great.

B.  We can effect the lives of other people.  Baby Liz will grow up needing people who love her.  We can do that.

C. Love has the power to change lives.

III.     Don’t spend your lives looking for something big to do.

A. Spend your lives looking for someone to love.

B.  We can love the unlovely–not just the people who are pleasing, like this little baby.

C. We can reach out as Peter did and touch others.

Conclusion–Reach out to the little ones, the hurting people and do a miracle through your love.

God Gives Us what we Need

Philippians 4:19

Central Theme:   God gives us what we need.

Introduction–I have an adding machine that can add up numbers and do all kinds of complicated math.  I sometimes use the adding machine to add up all the money I have.  But I cannot always know what I need.  God knows and God knows that he will provide for all our needs. Have a member read Philippians 4:19.

I.     I will show the book that I found with a letter in it that I had written to God about 20 years before.

1.  It had a list of all our bills and a letter asking for God to help.

2.  I don‘t remember how that prayer/letter was answered but I do know that it was.

3.  I learned during those hard years when our finances were short that God provides for us what we need.

4.  We had to do our part–turn off A/C, live on rice and beans, no movies, I went to work.

II.     Tell the story of Elijah and the widow (I Kings 17:1-16)

A. Elijah had told the King that there would not be any rain for three years.  And there was not.

B.  God provided for Elijah by sending birds to feed him and he lived by a small brook.

C. Then God sent him to a widow with a little boy and told her to make him a cake with the last of the oil and flour.  She obeyed and made the cake for Elijah and they all lived until the drought and famine was over.

III.     Jesus knows that we have needs.

A. He personally promised to give to us what we need.

B.  As I have loved him over the years, I have seen he does that for us.

Conclusion:  God gives to us what we need and sometimes he does it in supernatural ways.  Sometimes he does it supernatural ways that seem very normal and natural.

Some of the most active entries on this blog is our devotion that appears  each Sunday.  I get feedback from people who enjoy the devotion who don’t share it with anyone.  Others tell me that they use the devotion occasionally to teach or share with a group.  This week, I wanted to share one about two of my favorite subjects–the resurrection and my mother.

He Is Alive

Matthew 28:6

Central Theme:  Jesus is not dead; he is alive.

Introduction–Tell the story from Matthew 28:1-15  Two  women were coming.  There was an earthquake.  An angel appeared.  The stone was rolled away.  The soldier saw the angel.  They fainted  The women came up and the angel told them.  He is Alive!  Go! Tell the disciples.”  As they went back to the disciples, Jesus appeared.   Have a member read Matthew 28:6

I.     Before my mother died I struggled with my prayers for my mother.

  • A. She was an amazing woman, the best Christian I ever met.
  • B. I love her and I will miss her everyday.
  • C. But when she died, she went to be with Jesus.

1.  That will makes her happy.

II.     Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we have great hope.

  • A. I know that Jesus lives.
  • B. I know that Jesus has taken the stringer out of death.
  • 1.  Did you know that when a bee stings, it looses its stinger and dies
  • C. Jesus took the stinger from death and we don‘t have to worry anymore.

III.     Jesus was alive and the women knew it.

1.  His resurrection changed their lives.

Conclusions:  Jesus’ resurrection changes our lives, too.

God is Patient

II Peter 3:9

Central Theme:  God is patient with everyone.

Introduction–  Bring branch from the jassmine vine.  Tell about the other one getting killed in the storm.  I was sad because it was beautiful and large and provided shade for the back yard.  Do you think a man of God should be more concerned about a dead plant or a city like Vero Beach (Melbourne), Florida?

I.     Have a member read II Peter 3:9

A. Tell the story of Jonah.

B.  Show a dead plant.

C. Jonah wanted God to kill all the people in the city.  However,  he was so angry when the plant that had grown over night had died that he said he wanted to die.

II.     God is patient with everyone.

A. He does not want anyone to have an unhappy life or die without Him.

1.  Tell about getting angry with some people who were spreading terrible gossip about you.  At times you wanted them to disappear.  I didn’t really want them to die but I wished they would just be gone.

2.  God helped me to love them because he loves them.

B.  This is how God  helps me be patient with people I don’t want to be patient with.

1.  God can help me remember that he loves that person as much as he loves me.

2.  God can help me find good things about that person.

3.  God can help me love that person when they are not with me.

A. Many times when we are not with a person, we think about what the other person did or said and then we get angry.

Conclusion–God is patient and he can help me to be patient also.

It is probably true that you will be asked to do a funeral for one of your members at some time in your ministry.  There are specific things which I have observed from pastors who are successfully able to capture the essence of the person and still glorify Christ in a funeral sermon or eulogy.  Here are some of those things which you may find helpful.

  1. First, find a hook.  This is something about the person that seems to embody their personality or mission in life.  It may be a phrase, a sentence or an observation.  Most often this should come from the family.  In trying to find a hook for one man that I had never met, every person I spoke to said, “He was a good man.”  I kept trying to find something else about this man until I realized:  This was a truly good man and that was what family wanted to said about him.
  2. Interview as many members of the family as possible to be able to grasp what is meaningful to them.  Ask probing questions.   What is the thing you remember most about Phil?  What did he do during his free time?  Tell me a little bit about his life.  When did he become a Christian?
  3. Everyone has some humor in his or her life.  Try to find it and use it.
  4. The deepest, most moving memories are best wrapped with a glimmer of humor, if possible.
  5. Don’t be afraid to share deeply personal things that the family has given you permission to share.  This is a time for them to hear their words echoing back to them in a positive message of hope.
  6. If the person is not a Christian, amplify some good traits.  Then emphasis that if she could stand before you today, she would want each person present to know Christ.  We know this is a true statement without saying things which are not true.
  7. Use a Thesaurus in finding different words to express what you want to say.  Don’t limit yourself or your imagination in your sentence structure or your vocabulary.
  8. Use Scriptures to say the things you desire to say about the resurrection.  Then don’t forget to speak about the hope of the resurrection of Christ in each sermon or eulogy.  That, after all, is why we have sermons at funerals.
  9. Keep it short.  Limit yourself to a maximum of 10 minutes of sermon.  I also try to limit the Scripture readings to five to 10 minutes.  Intersperse the Scriptures throughout the service.  Find my favorite Scriptures here.  

Remember, above all, you are speaking the heart of the family and the heart of Christ.  When the two are in harmony, it’s a wonderful union.  When they are divergent, God will help you to find ways to honor both.

God loves the broken hearted and desires to heal those who grieve.  It is a wonderful opportunity to show the love of Christ to people who are wounded and hurting.

If you are sharing with a family of a mentally challenged person who has died, this is especially important to remember and acknowledge their grief.  God wants to touch this family in a real way and you can be His instrument.

Here is a eulogy that hopefully will help you to see how these steps can be put together.

Eulogy

Leslie Ann 

          The Apostle Paul writes in the Holy Scriptures that the joy of the Lord is our strength.  Proverbs reminds us that a merry heart is as good as any medicine.  On December 19, 1972, God gave to us an ambassador of laugher and giggles when Leslie Ann  was born to Priscilla.

Raised in a strong Catholic family, faith and commitment to the Lord were the backbone of her existence.  As a natural outgrowth of that love for the Lord, her first communion was a joyous time shared with her mother, grandparents, her Uncle Jack, his two children and the community of believers.

Later, as Leslie matured into adulthood, reaching out became an anchor of her commitment to the Lord as she endeavored to share her faith.  Each Christmas at Special Gathering, we collect gifts for the Haitian children.  Leslie was the first one to bring her gifts.  But she didn’t stop there.  Sunday after Sunday, she would bring toys and school supplies for the young children who have so little.

Of course, Leslie understood the value of money.  The best presents she received were always money or gift cards.  No birthday was complete without a card filled with big bucks. Yet, she never totally comprehended the complete concept.  After obtaining her first job came the wondrous first paycheck.  Excited by this new found wealth, Leslie wanted to put it in the bank as the first installment toward buying a new Corvette.  Somehow the fact that it was only $4 escaped this young financier.

Leslie had a knack for remembering names and addresses. She remembered the full name of everyone she met.  But phone numbers were her specialty.  She spent hours on the phone with her various boyfriends.  Mark from New Jersey was her first real boyfriend.  For more than ten years, they conversed every evening until it was time for them to go to bed.  Last July, when Leslie and her mother went back to Jersey, Mark begged them to come back in the spring because he needed a date to the prom.  “You know my girl’s down there with you,” Mark told Priscilla pensively.

Though she seldom complained, at times her disability would hinder her from doing the fun activities that the other family members enjoyed.  One day, Elaine, her step-sister-in-law, could no longer take her mournful expression as the other young adults scooted around on jet skis.

“I’ll take you,” Elaine volunteered.  Leslie was in her mid-twenties but not too old to giggle.  Unfortunately, in her enthusiasm, Leslie leaned too far and tipped over the jet ski.  In an effort to save herself, Leslie quickly grasped the closest thing to her–which was Elaine’s throat.

Her mother was following her in a boat.  She and the driver of the boat scooped Leslie up from the water within a few seconds.  And Elaine is still thankful.

Leslie never liked being left behind.  And she didn’t like losing when she played games.  After her great nephew, Colin, was born, she would spend hours coloring and playing games with him.  He was her little buddy.  But her competitive nature didn’t die easily and she didn’t enjoy losing, even to him.

Vincent, Colin’s dad and her cousin, was two years younger than she.  He, naturally, was her big buddy.  As children the cousins etched together a life-long bond.  They spent hours building towers with blocks.  After the construction was felled, they would head for the hallway and a ball game.  For Leslie, the fun with Vincent was never in the game or the competition but in the giggling.

About ten years ago, after moving from Jersey, Leslie began attending Special Gathering.  Later, she joined the choir. Her commitment to the choir was remarkable and we came to lean heavily on her strong–though never pitch-perfect–voice.

Every Saturday evening, she’d ask her mom, “Do I need to wear my choir uniform to Special Gathering?”  Her mom would explain that the choir wasn’t singing at another church, only practicing.  “Are you sure?”  Leslie would enquire suspiciously.

One of Leslie’s favorite songs was a selection from our choir.  Often before practice, we would sing it as our prayer.

Change my heart, Oh, God.

Make it ever true

Change my heart, Oh, God,

May I be like you.

 You are the potter, I am the clay

Mold me and make me.

This is what I pray.

Change my heart, Oh, God.

Make it ever true.

Change my heart, Oh, God.

May I be like you

As Leslie slipped into eternity last Saturday, I believe she met the Lord giggling.  You see, her disability and pains are gone.  She isn‘t hurting or afraid anymore.  (show the crystal bowl and the paper cup)

On the Friday evening that Leslie was admitted to the hospital, she was in agonizing pain.  Her stomach had ripped and her lungs were full of pneumonia.  She would code three times before they could get her into surgery.  Fighting frantically to save her life, the technician began taking X-rays.  Explaining to her what they were doing, the tech said, “We are going to hold up this piece of metal and take your picture.”

Leslie weakly nodded her understanding.  As the technician put up the metal sheet to her chest, ready to click the X-ray, Leslie said, “Cheese” and grinned for the picture.  With each X-ray she said, “Cheese” and smiled.  As we remember Christ’s ambassador of giggles, we cannot weep for her, though we will often shed tears for ourselves.  She would demand that we gratefully grin and say, “Cheese.”

The Bible teaches us

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching  (II Timothy 3:16).

Central Theme:  God‘s word is our teacher.

Introduction–Have everyone hold up their Bibles.  We have learned that the Bible is a wonderful treasure and that it is true.   But we also need to know that God’s word teaches us how to live.

I.     Paul and Timothy were good friends.  Paul was a lot older than Timothy so Paul helped Timothy learn about God‘s truth.  Paul wrote two letters to Timothy that became part of the Bible

A. Have a member read II Timothy 3:16.

B.  Timothy was a pastor and Paul was helping him with some of the problems he was having.  They were practical problems, like stomach problems and problems in his church.

II.     The scriptures are used for four things.  The scriptures are some part of the Bible.

A. To teach us.

B.  To show people what is wrong in their lives

C. To correct faults in our lives

1.  Naturally curly hair is not a virtue.

2.  Hanging onto things that are a sin; just because they are part of who I am is also not a virtue. ex.  When we get angry and try to hurt other people, we are sinning.  To say that we have a bad temper because we are English is an excuse.  It is not a virtue.

3.  If we are born with something wrong with our bodies that can be fixed, we need to fix it.

a.  my teeth were not straight.  I was able to straighten them by pushing them around.

D. The Scriptures are used to teach us how to live right.

1.  We all have question about what we should do or not do.

2.  The Bible helps us to see the areas of our life that are right and how we can improve our lives.

Conclusion–There is no way we can live a successful life without following the teachings in God‘s word.

« Previous PageNext Page »