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A FREE GIFT FOR CLERGY
Positive Written Sermons is a FREE service of Positive Christianity to those ACTIVE IN CLERGY MINISTRY to ease your burdens in ministry. Each positive sermon is non-denominational; feel free to tailor to your denominational needs, or personal style. We consider our sermons to be 90% complete; they await your personal stories and anecdotes.
I’m going to take you, in your imagination to a scene in the country. The focus of the scene is an old, shabby barn that hasn’t been used for anything for a long time except housing the mangiest of animals. I want to tell you a story about the transformation of a man.
Innocent children discovered the hardened criminal sleeping in the hayloft of this barn. He had fled from the city where his crime was committed and had taken refuge in the barn. The children did not know of his misdeed.
“Who do you think he is?” the little girl asked her brother.
“I don’t know … Who do you think he looks like?”
“Well, he has long hair and a beard.”
“And he’s about as old as Daddy.”
“And he has sandals on”
“Maybe he’s Jesus!”
“Do you think he could be?”
“Well, that’s what the Sunday school teacher said Jesus looked like!”
“Yes! l bet it is him!”
“Oh, aren’t we lucky to have Jesus come to our very own town!” The criminal awakened at that point. He sat up, startled. He was about to flee when he heard the girl calling, “Jesus, gentle Jesus, will you stay and play with us for a little while?”
“We will take care of you!” promised the little boy.
“Yes!” echoed his sister. “We will bring you food and blankets and we won’t tell anyone you are here!”
“Oh please, gentle Jesus, will you stay with us?”
The criminal began to understand what was happening. He thought it over. It seemed like a safe bet, for a while at least. Yes, he would stay. Over the next days and weeks, the children brought him food and clothing and even wine for him to bless. And with these things, they brought their innocent love and their adoration for the sweet and kind savior. The criminal felt safe with them, and the weeks turned into months. The children came to him every day and asked him to tell them parables and to bless them and their families.
So he did. As the summer went on he actually began to enjoy playing the role of the Man of Love. It was, of course, only an act, but there was something that felt good about it, something that he had not felt in many years, perhaps since he was a child and his grandmother would tell him stories of Jesus and the children.
As the man basked in the warm love of these children, he learned to love them, too. He began to look forward to the times when they would come, when he would tell them parables about the wonders of heaven’s kingdom and the importance of loving our neighbors. One day he even found himself telling a parable that no one had ever heard, and this made the children so happy to hear a parable directly from their Gentle Jesus, one that was not even in the Bible.
The man’s feelings about people about the world, about life, began to soften, and he became gentle and kind. He read the Bible when he was alone, and something happened within him, something like a long-locked door opening to admit morning sunlight.
One evening he came upon the story of the prodigal son, and he began to weep. “Yes, this is the Truth, he thought to himself. In that moment he realized ever so clearly that it was he who was the prodigal son, and he became aware of how wrong his actions were. He knew, too, that his consciousness could not be cleansed until he made restitution for his crime. So he decided to return to the city and confess.
The next time his beloved children came, he took them in his arms and drew them close to his breast.
“My dear ones, he quietly began, ‘it is now time for me to leave you.” “But where are you going?” the little ones asked with tears streaming down their soft cheeks.
He gathered both of them closer to him and embraced them even more strongly.
“I must return to my Father,” he explained, fighting back his own tears.
“Then, will you give us something to remember you by, gentle Jesus?”
He looked into their faces and said, “I leave you with the gentleness that you have given to me. This is my peace that I give to you.” And the son arose, and went to his Father.
My story is from the hit Broadway play “Whistle down the Wind” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman. It shows what can happen in any man or woman when surrounded and in filled with the love of God.
2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,
We are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
Each moment of love,
Each moment of giving,
Each moment of joy,
Is a moment of living.
Each moment of anger,
Each moment of lying,
Each moment of resentment
Is a moment of dying.
All our moments add together,
Like the digits in a sum
And the answer tells us plainly
Whether life or death shall come.
An artist once drew a picture of a snow scene in black and white. It was a cloudy day. There were no leaves on the trees. There were homes in the background, but it was all dark and gray and dreary. The clouds were in the sky. It was a typical winter scene.
Then with a stroke of his brush, the artist added a bit of yellow paint in one of the panes of the window, showing a light that was coming from inside one of the homes. The whole picture was miraculously transformed. It was no longer gray and bleak. It had hope. The birth of spirituality is such a light into a world that sometimes sees nothing but grays and blacks.
So often in adulthood our lives become clouded. So often our lives no longer see the magic and wonder that a child sees. So often we get too old, too wise to have that love for another human being in our life because we’ve been hurt. We are wise to the harmful ways of the world, and we too often withhold our love.
Yet, every day we let God’s love in, there is a transformation; there is a light that comes on. But in order for that love to come, we have to allow it to come through us. We have to accept the gift that God is giving to us.
If you have a closed door in your life, you can bet that God is on the other side of that door, knocking, and saying, “Open up. The wonder is still here. The love is still here. The peace is still here. All the good is still here.” If you have become blind to it, you have closed the door. If you will reopen it, you’re going to find that wonder of a child. We can learn a most important lesson from the faith of the child. Instead of trying to lessen the faith of the child in the unseen helper, it would be more vastly beneficial to us if we learned from him or her on how to ask, stretch forth the empty hand, and find it filled by God. But this is just seeing with your surface eyes. You have to look beyond to what this meant when your eyes are opened.
Have you ever received a gift in which you did not perceive its value? And it took many years until you truly appreciated the gift and used it? Perhaps this is such a gift in your life. This spiritual gift comes with something that will bring you a feeling of joy; something that will last in you long after your hurts and pains are forgotten and the past is put away.
I want to tell you about what this spiritual package contains. The first gift is the gift of Jesus Christ heritage. It’s a very big gift. God says to you, “You are my child. You are heir to all the good that I have, if you accept it. The gifts of God require action on our part in order for them to work in us. It’s like gasoline in an automobile engine. Gasoline of itself is nothing. It has to go into the engine and the engine has to use its potential.
John 13:13-17, ” You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. You have been given the gift of being alive. That is a gift of life. You are to use this gift to feel fully alive. You are to give the gift of life to others. How do you do that?
A woman was visiting a hospital. The man she was visiting was quite seriously ill. There was one person in the hospital room that was beginning to secretly make funeral arrangements for the man. It is important that we give the gift of faith, but the faith in want? Do not give the gift of death. Give the gift of life.” Hold in your mind the potential – of what God can do. This woman gave the gift of faith to both of the people in that hospital room. The man recovered and is home now, he said, “faith was the most valuable treatment I received in the hospital.”
Give the gift of life. Always hold the highest thoughts in your mind. Know what God can do. Know in your own life and in the lives of others. Speak the words of life and healing. Behold the healing life of God in the one for whom you pray.
So often in our prayer times we do not pray this way. We say, “Oh God, here is a man who is on his deathbed. Please give me faith, because I believe he is going to die. He looks so bad. Please give me the strength to stand here. I’m so afraid he’s going to pass while I’m standing here.” Instead, muster up everything inside of you and say, “God, I know that you are a God of miracles. I know what I see with my human eyes, but I know that my human eyes are limited. I know that there is much more going on than just what the doctors and nurses are doing. I know that YOU can bring about a healing that seems impossible to humankind. I’m here to stand up and behold life. I’m going to sit by this patient. I might not even say a word, but I’m going to think thoughts of life. I’m going to become life in this room. If it is YOUR will, I am here to bring about that life to this patient.”
God’s faith coming through you has the power to transform others. 2 Corinthians 11:1, ” Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” What about for yourself? How about when you are down or even depressed?
How about when things do not go well at work? Are you giving yourself the gift of life? Or are you downcast or feeling that life won’t ever get any better? God is with you. You are not alone. The message of Jesus Christ is alive in you today. Yes, life will get better every moment. That leads to the next spiritual gift – peace. Peace is a gift that was brought by Jesus Christ into a world that had a religion of an eye for an eye – “If you do something to me, I have to get back at you.” This was the religion that existed throughout the world. You can become a peacemaker, just like the hardened criminal did. You can take Jesus’ message inside of you and let it live; let it overtake your life.
What about situations in your job, or your home; where people are not very peaceful? You have a choice.
You can go down to the human level, put on your boxing gloves and try to be the last person standing. Or you can take off the gloves and radiate peace to the whole situation and become the living example of the love of Jesus Christ.
Peace in the world begins with you and me. We have God’s peace to take with us into those difficult situations. You will make a difference because of the teachings of Jesus Christ coming through you as you.
Ephesians 5:1, 2 – “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
The teachings of Jesus Christ brought another gift to you – joy. One of the most important gifts of any religion is that as a Christian you have the right to be joyful. You don’t have to be solemn. You don’t have to carry your burdens. You don’t have to feel like the world is an unjust place and that you must wear your heavy burden. You don’t have to suffer to be a good Christian.
This day holds a message for you that no matter what is going on in your life presently, God’s there. You can look beyond your present challenges and know that God is eternally there. You can have joy in your heart. You do not have to walk around depressed, half asleep, or half dead to your former happiness. You can have Christ awareness well up inside of you. The journey of Christianity is allowing that hope to rise in you.
This joy is from the core of your being.
It is your choice. Which do you choose to do today? You can choose to have the full joy of Christianity in you. It is the teachings of Jesus. Those teachings are the teachings of spirituality made alive in you! Spiritually, you are given a profound knowledge of wisdom because you know that your mind can be a receiver of God’s Divine inspiration.
Divine ideas enter your mind the same way they entered Jesus Christ’s mind. You can just become still in prayer and accept all that God has for you to receive. The ideas and guidance will come to you clearly. You’ll know the way to proceed. It is unfailing, and that gives you profound courage. to stand up in adverse situations. That may be in the hospital when the doctors have told you that you are not going to do so well. It may be when you need so much of the stuff of God inside of you that you have to call on that, and it comes to you and you get up again. You say, “Yes! I do have faith because I’m not alone.”
Maybe it is because you are experiencing what this outer world calls a downturn in your personal economy. Maybe you’re not getting the pay you used to get or possibly you have been laid off. Possibly you’re seeking work and haven’t been able to find it yet. I tell you that God is with you. You are not alone. This is the time to call on God. When you do, instantly that Divine help will be given to you. It’s never held back as long as we keep the door open with our faith and our belief. The message of Divine approval came from Jesus Christ. That is a huge message. You are a child of God – Jesus Christ tells you that you are a child of God, with the potential to do what he did. He says to you throughout His messages that you are accepted by God, you are an heir to God, and you have Divine approval.
You say, “What about the criminal in the barn? Did he have Divine approval?” Yes he did. Have you ever had a child nearby whom you loved with all your heart, but the child was causing havoc your home? You do not appreciate what the child is doing at the moment and you scold the child. You correct the child. But you still love the child. And inside you have an approval for the potential that child will become.
Using the power of God, the criminal went back and said, “I’m here a changed man. I’m here right now, knowing that I am going to have my punishment. I am here because I have been guided by God” How was he guided by God? The first way was through the love of God coming through people surrounding him. The second way: it was the love of God coming through his own reflections and prayers. The third way: God came through him – through his actions.
If you want spiritual realization, use the power of God through you. Take the attributes and the gifts of God and allow them to become you. You will know quickly about the action, the truth, and the activity of God.
The knowledge of Christ is a continuing gift. We have to make the message a part of our daily lives, allowing the message of the messenger in us to be reborn.
It is reborn into the animal consciousness of human thinking. It is reborn in hospital rooms where others are telling us that we can’t get well. It is reborn into a society that tells us we can’t get work. It is reborn into the lowest of limited human thought. But it is reborn. And like that picture, mentioned earlier, it is a light in our window of hope. We look toward that light and we find our answers. Nothing could be more marvelous – every gift of God has its invisible source in spiritual realms that are accessible to each one of us. Romans 8:29, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
You have a potential that is predestined, to put on the Christ, and wear it for all to see, feel, and comprehend.
I want to close with something that I think says it all. Garfield, the cartoon cat, often depicts the confusion and frustration that we humans experience. He is asked, “Garfield, what do you really want in life?” Garfield comes running and thinks, “What I REALLY want is. Oh, I guess it’s kind of hard to gift wrap: sleep and food, I get food all year round. And my friends … “Garfield snuggles up to his human friend and thinks, “What I really want is a second helping of everything.” You have already been given everything as well as a large second helping. The reason you are here today is because you want that second helping. And it is my prayer that you get it … along with third and fourth helpings.
God bless you.
PRAYER / MEDITATION_______________
Let us pray:
Whoever you are, wherever you are, God loves you. Never again will you need to feel alone. Never again will you feel unloved, misunderstood or unappreciated. You are now enfolded in God’s total love. You are lifted up. You are blessed through the love of God.
The great commandment of Jesus Christ is that we love God and that we love one another. At times this may seem difficult to do, or even impossibility. Though we may be unaware of it or unwilling to express it, within us – is the ability to love.
We consider now the words of the apostle John. We know and we believe the love God has for us. God is love and he or she who abides in love abides in God; and God abides in them.
Think about those words. Think about God abiding in you. And if God abides in you, God expresses through you. And now, in this moment, realize God can express through you as love.
Rest in the silence of prayer …
The human heart longs for love. It has been written that love is the principle of existence and its only end. You, dear friend, are blessed with a great capacity for love – for loving God and for loving God’s children. And you have the capacity to respond with warmth and affection to those who love you.
Jesus said, “The Father, Himself, loves you.’ Now, during this prayer time, you are able to open your heart as never before. You are able to open your entire life to the all-encompassing, boundless love of God. It flows into you and through you in a mighty, unending stream. You receive the love of God now. And you let it radiate from you in thought and feeling toward others – those near at hand and those far away.
Rest in the silence of prayer …
You pray for yourself and others that all abide in God’s love. Repeat aloud, “I ABIDE IN GOD’S LOVE.”
I feel God now. I feel love now. I am filled with God’s love. My body temple is a temple of the love of God. I feel the love of God in every cell of my being. I am a vessel for the love of God.
The love of God will radiate from me like a broadcasting station. Everyone who comes close to me will feel the love of God. And they will feel better for coming close to me. All those who come close will feel a change, even though they may not perceive what it is. I pray that I radiate God’s love to all like the sunshine radiates its warmth.
Rest in the silence of prayer and prayerfully affirm that this is true right now for you.
Rest in the silence of prayer …
Divine love never fails you. Divine love fulfills your every need. Divine love harmonizes the situations of your life. Divine love manifests itself in you as light and wisdom. It guides you in the ways of peace and joy. Diving love works through you to enrich you and expand your life. You attract the blessings you seek.
The Christ Spirit instructs and guides you in developing a spiritual consciousness of Divine love. Love is quickened in your heart. You express it in thought, in word and in your every act. You are forever set free from loneliness and depression. You are joyous because the love inside of you is joyous, and perfect Love casts out your fears.
Rest in the silence of prayer …
You have an attitude of expecting this. You have an attitude that draws to you people and experiences that will contribute fully to your life’s enrichment and happiness. God loves you. You joyously express God’s love. Your life is filled with meaning, goodness and companionship. We have prayed, to become a sample of the Great Example – Jesus Christ: to follow Jesus Christ by living His teachings and becoming His teachings. Truly, spirituality is alive in us.
Thank You, God. . Amen.
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GOD BLESS YOU,
Christopher Ian Chenoweth