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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.
Today I wish to give you some wisdom. These are the golden rules for living:
If you open it, close it.
If you turn it on, turn it off.
If you unlock it, lock it up.
If you break it, admit it.
If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.
If you borrow it, return it.
If you value it, take care of it.
If you make a mess, clean it up.
If you move it, put it back.
If it belongs to someone else and you want to use it, get permission.
If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.
It it’s none of your business, don’t ask questions
It isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
If it will brighten someone’s day, say it.
If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, keep it to yourself.
If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, keep it to yourself.
Those are simple rules.
Today I am going to talk about your life odyssey. I am going to talk about taking control of your life and living your life fully. Not just the overall picture of where you want to go, but day by day living your life and finding enjoyment in it; more than enjoyment, finding magic in your life in the moment.
This is what life is supposed to be.
John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, `I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’ … ” We have to follow on the Way.
We have to live in the Truth of God and be totally alive in the Life of God.
Henry Miller once said, “Every man has his own destiny; the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him or her.”
In Proverbs 3:5-6, it talks about the lead we all should follow. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge God, and God will make straight your paths.”
So many times, from human mind we have our own insight. We think we should go this way or that way. Yet if we go apart for a while in prayer to discover what God wants us to do with our life, we are going to find something very powerful – the correct path for us to be on. That path will guide us around the negative potholes of all kinds.
What you can do today as one person following the path of God is GREAT. It concerns me that so many are giving so much attention to the negative, There are millions of people right now with smiles on their face and doing the right thing, wanting to create a better world through positive focus. There will always be one person who can cause havoc and gains media attention. Over time we tend to give the squeaky wheel the grease.
There also can be one person who creates light. One person can make a huge difference in the world.
We have committed to the one-person way of God, to allow our own light to shine, to become all we can become in the world. We can never be pulled down by the little bit of negative because the good always overwhelms the negative. It does right now. Literally the good is millions to one.
I have a story to tell you of one person, an ordinary woman by the name of Florine Thornhill in Roanoke, VA.
She was 73 years of age when this story took place.
She walked to town with an extraordinary request of city hall. She wanted to borrow a lawn mower to make her part of the city better. For some time, she had passed an overgrown lot. One day she passed the lot and she noticed a woman was passed out in the high grass. She walked on. When she was having breakfast that morning, she said to herself, “Wait a minute, how could I walk on? There was a woman there who was unconscious in the high grass.
Have I become so accustomed to the blight of the neighborhood that doesn’t bother me anymore?”
She asked herself the question, “What would Jesus do in this instance?” She walked to city hall and asked a very suspicious clerk, “Could I borrow a lawnmower, so I can cut the grass?” She took the lawnmower back and with the help of her son she woke up this lady who was passed out and took her to the hospital.
Then she cut the grass on this one lot.
The neighbors started to watch what this 73-year-old woman was doing, and they started to wonder what this was about.
Then they told her, “You are just one person. You can’t make a difference. There are drug dealers on every corner of this neighborhood. It is going downhill and there is no way you as one person can fix this up.”
She went on and said, “Well, you can join me or not, but I am going to do what I can possibly do as one person.”
This 73-year-old lady had nine children, including one child with mental disabilities. She borrowed the mower and cleaned that one lot. By next week, 15 middle-aged and elderly residents were picking up trash and mowing vacant lots around the neighborhood. In city hall within weeks, the officials started to notice the once declining neighborhood had begun to shine. In 1980, Roanoke city officials asked Thornhill and her Gibner neighbors to join in a pilot project with three other city neighborhoods. It would allow them to set goals for their city, to show the officials how to turn their poor, urban areas around.
The experiment was successful, thanks to Thornhill and other ordinary people like her. Over 25 neighborhoods are working in the system to improve Roanoke. Other Virginia cities have followed Roanoke’s lead. The model is being studied across America, as government officials try to involve the people they serve. Thornhill and her group, the Northwest Neighborhood Environmental Organization, won the 1994 President’s Volunteer Action Award for volunteer efforts that changed a community. Thornhill said her real measure of success was not in the White House recognition. It is in the children playing at a fully equipped park that was once an open-air market for drug dealers. It is in the homes her group was able to buy and rebuild with housing grants they tracked down and won with the help of city officials. It is in the professionals they have been able to entice into helping.
Friends, the good overwhelms the bad. But in order for it to happen in this country, we have to be willing to be brave enough, to dare enough, to stand up and be willing to let our light shine.
When we do, things change.
When we do, we become leaders and people follow and they help.
People have an innate desire to do good. They are just waiting for someone to follow to do that good. People do not want to follow the bad. They want to make a difference in this world. Everyone in this room can make a difference in some way. Life is a real adventure and, today, live that adventure.
The best adventure in the world is called your life.
As a child, Mary Groda did not learn to read and write. Experts labeled her retarded. As an adolescent, she “earned” an additional label, “incorrigible” and was sentenced to two years in a reformatory.
It was here, ironically, in this closed-in place, that Mary – bending to the challenge to team – worked at her task for as long as 16 hours a day. Her hard work paid off. She was awarded her GED high school diploma.
But more misfortune was to visit Mary Groda. After leaving the reformatory, she became pregnant without benefit of marriage. Then, two years later a second pregnancy resulted in a stroke, erasing her hard-earned powers of reading and writing. With the help and support of her father, Mary battled back, regaining what she had lost.
In dire financial straits, Mary went on welfare. Finally, in order to make ends meet, she took in seven foster children. It was during this period she started to pray. She asked God, “I have tried to do this with my own mind, but I am asking now for your path and your direction for my life.” She received the idea to take classes at a local community college. On completion of her course work, she applied to and was accepted by the Albany Medical School to study medicine.
In the spring of 1984 in Oregon, Mary Groda Lewis – she’s married now – paraded in full academic-regalia across the graduation stage. No one can know what private thoughts went through Mary’s mind as she reached out to grasp this eloquent testimony to her self-belief and perseverance. Her diploma announced to all the world here stands on this small point of planet Earth a person who dared to dream the impossible dream, one person who confirms for all of us our human divineness. Here stands Mary Groda Lewis, M.D.
Life is an odyssey; it is extended, adventurous, and wandering.
Napoleon Hill once said, “Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the children of your soul; the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.”
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip spanning the continent.
We are traveling by train. Out of the windows, we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn acid wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and villages.
But uppermost in our mind is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour, we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there, so many wonderful dreams will come true, and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.
How restlessly we pace the aisles, waiting, waiting for the station!
When we reach the station, that will be it. When I’m 18, that will be it. When I buy a new Mercedes Benz, that will be it. When I put my last kid through college, that will be it. When I have paid off the mortgage, that will be it. When I get a promotion, when I reach the age of retirement, then I will live happily ever after.
Sooner or later, we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all.
The true joy of your life is in the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out-distances us.
Relish the moment is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalms 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
It isn’t the burdens of today that drive humans mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.
So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
An effective way to make your life an adventure is to look at your experiences in terms of a book, a novel, or a story. You don’t necessarily have to write a book, but if you begin to view your days as if they were going into a book then every circumstance and every event takes on a brand-new dimension.
One day a South Dakota school teacher complained her job was getting her down. She had recently been caught in a blizzard in her isolated schoolhouse and was snowed in for seven days with thirteen pupils. I said to her, “What a story!”
She said, “What do you mean what a story? I almost went out of my mind.”
I said, “Think of the dramatic material – snowed in with thirteen pupils in a 12 by 20 room for a solid week.
Think of the people who would envy you for such an adventure. Think of the human interest, the things the kids did and said, the resourcefulness you had to demonstrate, the funny as well as the sad things that must have happened.”
“Well,” she confessed, “I wouldn’t give up the experience for anything, but I don’t want to go through it again.”
This is exactly the point. The highlights of life have a price tag. If they did not, we would soon forget them. We should look at the extraordinary situations in our life as a writer looks at her life or his life, then the events take on a brand-new meaning.
There was a coal turner from Harlan, Kentucky who said he just hated his work. He was given this idea, to go in as if he were a writer. Over the next six months, his life totally turned around.
As a matter of fact, it so turned around he was having a spiritual experience every time he went into the mine at night.
He was saying, “Even though it is dark down there, the night is different. It is as if the Earth stretches and groans. When the dust would fall around me it was like stars falling from the sky.”
He said that he would always go in and God became so real as he was writing the story of his life day-by-day. It was as if he could hear the voice of God. What happened? He became happy. His burdens were taken away.
When your burdens are taken away, it does not necessarily mean the load is lifted from your shoulder of what you do. Your attitude changes. Your whole outlook on life changes. You may do the exact thing you are doing now, but you are going to do it with a new mind and new eyes.
If we were to go right now to Yellowstone Park, we would see signs everywhere we went. The signs say, “Do not feed the bears.” You would think because these signs are all around it is because the bears are dangerous to the humans. Not so, months after we depart from Yellowstone Park, the bears so dependent on us for food die. They forget how to do it themselves.
We have to realize God gives us a great power to do what we are to do. It is up to us to enjoy
the moment in the doing. We can if we will but try.
by Margaret Finefrock
What in the world would our life be like?
If no one ever tried?
What if Columbus let others convince him
He would fall off the other side.
Where would we be if the Wright Brothers
Decided man couldn’t fly?
Or if Thomas Edison just gave up
And thought his goals too high?
What kind of life if Martin Luther King
Had not kept on with courage?
What if Eleanor Roosevelt had quit?
The first time she became discouraged.
What kind of life can I create for myself?
If I never even, try?
Everything is possible if I know
My abundant Source of supply.
The strength to try is my very first step.
I know I can do and be
All things necessary for my highest good
Through the Presence of God in me.
I was in a plant nursery a while back buying some plants for my yard.
I saw a sign there I loved:
“The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. The next best time is today.” Ten years of constant devotion to spiritual disciplines would be ideal. If you haven’t done that over the past decade, then the next best ideal is a commitment this morning to begin. What a difference your journey will be over the next 10 years!
In the world of academics there is a specialty I used to specialize in. It is called “cramming.”
It is the practice of procrastinating on studies until the last possible moment. When the day of reckoning arrives, the coffee pot is stoked, and we duct tape ourselves to our desk for an all-night journey with our books.
Cramming is a phenomenon unknown in the agricultural world.
Farmers don’t cram. They can’t delay planting crops in the spring and then hit the ground really hard in the fall to do it all in one day. If a harvest is expected in the fall, planned and scheduled procedures must take place throughout the year. Maybe this is why Jesus used so many agricultural illustrations. Spiritual growth doesn’t come like grades that are salvaged by intense periods of last-minute cramming. Christlikeness comes from a lifetime spent seeking God in the moment, not just on Sunday morning and not just in a night of intensive cramming. God can, and God will come to you.
God will come as you.
Jesus has said, “You are the salt of the earth … ” (Mt. 5:13) There are 14,000 industrial uses for salt.
You might say, “Well, I’m doing this, but I am not really doing the Lord’s work.” Who says?
When God works through you, you are doing God’s work.
I remember in 1981, the whole country was saddened when President Reagan was shot. Thank God he was OK, when the President went through the attempted assassination, our government did not stop.
It continued on as if nothing happened.
However, the very same year, the garbage men of Philadelphia went on strike for three weeks and brought the city to its knees. Although most would say the Presidency is far more important than domestic sanitation, it was the trash men who proved to be indispensable. Likewise, right where you are no matter if you are the garbage man or the president of a major corporation – if you allow God to come through you, you are going to be a light to your world.
John Maxwell has said, “History’s greatest accomplishments have been made by people who excelled only slightly over the masses of others in their field.”
Perhaps you have an idea from the mind of God. It does not exactly fit what you are doing.
I am going to ask you today in your life odyssey to act on that idea. Some of the greatest inventions of all time have been made by people who prayed for an idea and then got an idea and acted on it.
There was a veterinarian who was caring for a horse someone had brought to him. He was really struggling and disliked his career path, but during the struggle he had an idea for a tubeless tire.
It was kind of out of his field. His name was John Dunlop.
A cork salesman named King Gillette had an idea for a safety razor.
There was a bookkeeper who was struggling and not doing well at all. He had already gone bankrupt once and he prayed for an idea to better his life. He was the founder of Kodak, George Eastman.
When we go to God, God comes through us every step of the way.
There is a legend told in every generation and every culture. It tells how the gods on Mount Olympus once met to determine where they should hide a human’s divinity.
“For,” said the gods, “a human’s greatest adventure will be the search and discovery of this elusive factor.” One god suggested that it be hidden in the sea, another in the clouds, and a third proposed that it be buried deep within the earth. It was then that the oldest and the wisest of the gods proclaimed, “Let us hide a human’s divinity in the heart of the human, herself or himself. For that is the last place they will ever look.”
Life is a matter of an approach, an attitude, a point of view. We are not to be controlled by circumstances. This mental attitude works, and it will bring about a direction in our fives, a channel of our highest good.
We can be “content” with our lot in life or we can rise above it. We can stay where we are, or we can go on to greater things. We can be mastered by situations, or we can master them.
The whole point of your life odyssey is to make it an adventure. You have been given one of the greatest gifts from God, a lifetime to live. This is the whole idea: coming to terms with yourself in your life. No one can do it for you. No one will take the incentive for you. No one will step forward and say, “I want to carry the load for you.”
Even the tantalizing words which are at the heart of the Christian Gospel, “Come unto me … “(Mt. 11:28 KJV) imply there is work to be done on our part.
Life continually evolves and gets better. It involves assignments and we should not ask to be spared from them if we would live fully and richly because we are all in a school and it is called life.
Look about you, see for yourself how the adventurous spirit changes people, how it spells the difference between a zest for life and a bored acceptance of life, how it spurs humans on to great achievements while others stand still, how it fills people out of the commonplace, makes every day a new beginning, transforms human’s jobs, gives them something to live for and makes the world a thrilling place to be.
Why are we here if not to make the most of our life, to some the hidden beauty? to explore the hidden depths, to unlock the hidden doors. Why are we here in a? universe still waiting to be discovered and an inner life still waiting to be known and secrets upon secrets still waiting to be solved, if not to be challenged by all of the potentials which are ours? How quickly the years pass and, with what remorse, we will look back upon our past if we don’t co-work with God? Co-working with God is the workable plan. Life changing ideas will come. It is apparent everywhere, in everything you do, in everything you say, you can find a partnership with God, a great directive for your life.
I want to close with this piece of poetry:
When God made the earth,
God could have finished, but God didn’t.
God left it as raw material to tantalize us,
To start us thinking and experimenting
And risking and adventuring,
And therein ties life’s greatest meaning.
God gave us an unfinished world
So that we might share with God
The joy and satisfaction of creation.
A partner with God in the joy and satisfaction of creation – It is a most wonderful approach to living an integrated life.
Let us pray.
This day I release the past and begin a new life in Christ. Christ is my strength and my power to overcome all adversity. Christ is my answer. Through the Christ spirit’s help, I am free to begin a new life and to realize that each moment is a stepping-stone to joy.
Dear God, build in me the understanding that I have a place and a purpose in Your universal plan. And You will work through me and make me shine right where I am planted. Dear Christ, bring me new life, new purpose, and meaning. I open my heart; I open my mind to Divine guidance. I know I am going to be directed on a right path. I decree in Jesus Christ’s name as you prepare to leave and go home that you are renewed and made whole through your awareness of God’s presence in your life.
In Jesus Christ’s name it is affirmed … Amen.
Prayer / Meditation_________________
In this prayer time, I ask you to join me in prayer.
Allow our minds to agree as I decree God’s Truth about you and about the success in your life. I decree that God’s law of success is the basic pattern of your being. Asleep or awake, God’s law of success is the rhythm and right action of the divine plan and purpose of your life.
I decree in Jesus Christ’s name that success precedes you. It is your essence and follows you everywhere you go. You are in God’s law of success in every detail of your life.
You love God. You love success. You think success. You practice and bring success into every department of your life. Through the power of God in prayer you claim your success and press your claim.
Rest in the silence of prayer …
Your success claims you. It is impossible for you to escape the success on every hand which your God has ordained for you. Success is the constant, continuous nature of your being and all being.
Knowing the power of success in you, you are always keen, poised, accurate, and alert.
There is a level-headedness, a common sense, a spiritual value in you which keeps you success oriented, safe oriented, secure oriented, and stable. God is your source. God is the substance and power of your success. You acknowledge God in all ways as the reason, cause, and effect of every bit of your success. In truth and love you are successful in everything you do.
You attract, radiate, and express success on every occasion. The sunshine, sparkle, and vitality of success flow through everything you think, do, and say. More and more successful God ideas come to you and arrange themselves in right application to pass on into successful right action.
Rest in the silence of prayer …
You expect the best, love the best, know the best, and give your best always. You are specific, definite, and positive about your success. You have an inner indestructible conviction in every atom and fiber of your being that God’s power of success is the absolute law of your being.
Business beliefs come, business beliefs go, but your success in God shall never pass away.
Rest in the silence of prayer and accept this God truth as the basic permanent pattern of your being …
In Jesus Christ’s name … Amen.
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GOD BLESS YOU,
Christopher Ian Chenoweth