Sermon Illustrations on security


Control Issues

In their excellent book Invitation to a Journey, M. Robert Mulholland and Ruth Haley Barton describe the foundation of life as being spiritual in nature. This means we are constantly be “formed” spiritually, whether for good or evil:

Almost from the moment of birth we engage in a struggle for control of that portion of the world we live in. Can we get our parents to provide for our needs and wants when we want and how we want? Can we get our playmates to play our way, or will they control us to play their way? Can we control situations and others to fulfill our agenda, or are we manipulated into serving others?

Can we create enough of a security structure around our lives that we will be able to control life’s adversities? Or, to put it in very contemporary terms, why shouldn’t a woman’s control of her life allow her to terminate the life of her unborn child? Why shouldn’t my control of my life allow me to choose the time and means of its end?

Why shouldn’t we provide free contraceptives to our youth so their sexual behavior can be under their control and not under the control of the fear of sexually transmitted diseases? If you do not believe that control is a major issue in your life, study the ways you respond when someone or something disrupts your plan for the day.

Taken from: Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation by M. Robert Mulholland and Ruth Haley Barton. Copyright (c) 2016 by M. Robert Mulholland and Ruth Haley Barton. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

Goes Without Saying

In a culture, the most important things usually go without being said. We Westerners don’t talk all the time about being individualists or about the importance of efficiency or why we prefer youth over old age. Those values just go without being said. Yet to the discerning eye, they are in the undercurrents of billboards and commercials and even influence our everyday decisions.

In Paul’s world, there were also things that went without being said. Caesar promised peace and security. When Jesus said he didn’t bring peace like the world did (Jn 14:27), he didn’t need to connect the dots. It went without being said what he meant. Caesar promised peace, but so did Jesus. They were kings offering competing kingdoms.

Taken from Misreading Scripture with Individualist Eyes by E. Randolph Richards and Richard James Copyright (c) 2009 by Ruth Haley Barton. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.


Christ Will Hold Me Fast

Robert Harkness (1880-1961) was an Australian pianist influential in the transition in churches from organ to piano music. Early on, he traveled with evangelist R. A. Torrey and played at his evangelistic rallies. One night in Canada, he met a young convert, preoccupied with the fear that he might lose his faith. Harkness was moved by the encounter. He wanted a song that would encourage believers that they could succeed in the Christian life, so he reached out to London songwriter Ada Habershorn (1861-1918), asking her to help with a song. She wrote seven songs! One of these was “When I Fear My Faith Will Fail,” to which Harkness wrote the music:

When I fear my faith will fail, ⁠Christ can hold me fast; ⁠When the tempter would prevail, ⁠He can hold me fast…. ⁠He’ll not let my soul be lost, ⁠⁠Christ will hold me fast; ⁠Bought by Him at such a cost, ⁠⁠He will hold me fast.

William Rowley, source, David Mathis, “He Will Hold Me Fast,” (2018).

God Can Care for Us, Reputation and All

There is a story of a medieval monk who was being unjustly accused of certain offenses. One day he looked out his window and saw a dog biting and tearing on a rug that had been hung out to dry. As he watched, the Lord spoke to him saying, “That is what is happening to your reputation. But if you will trust me, I will care for you—reputation and all.” Perhaps more than anything else silence brings us to believe that God can care for us—“reputation and all.”

Richard J. Foster, Seeking the Kingdom: Devotions for the Daily Journey of Faith, HarperOne, 2010.

Goliath on the Beach

A few weeks ago, when I was out surfing, there was no one else in the water. In fact, there was no one around at all, except a guy the size of Goliath doing tae kwon do on the beach. After I’d been out a little while, a tiny wisp of a kid came paddling up out of nowhere—I couldn’t believe he was out there by himself. He pulled his little board right up next to mine. He was so small he hardly needed a board. He could have stood up in the ocean on a Frisbee. Anyway, he started chatting with me like we were old friends.

He told me his name was Shane. He asked me how long I’d been surfing. I asked him how long he’d been surfing. “Seven years,” he said. “How old are you?” I asked. “Eight.” He asked me about my kids and my family. Then he said, “What I like about surfing is that it’s so peaceful. You meet a lot of nice people here.” “You’re a nice guy, Shane,” I said. “That’s why you meet nice people.” We talked a while longer. Then I asked him, “How did you get here, Shane?” “My dad brought me,” he said.

Then he turned around and waved at the nearly empty beach. The Goliath doing martial arts waved back. “Hi, Son,” he called out. Then I knew why Shane was so at home in the ocean. It wasn’t his size. It wasn’t his skill. It was who was sitting on the beach. His father was always watching. And his father was very big. Shane wasn’t really alone at all. Neither are we.

John Ortberg, I’d Like You More If You Were More like Me: Getting Real about Getting Close, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

The Safest Place on Earth and the Spirit

The Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway bills itself as “the ultimate insurance policy for the world’s food supply,” storing 1,214,827 seed samples from every nation on Earth. The seeds are stored at -18°C (about 0°F) in a concrete bunker deep underground. Because of its location in the far north, it stays cold outside all year, and because of the permafrost, even if the power goes down, the seeds will stay cold. The location was picked because of its remoteness, lack of tectonic activity, and altitude (which means that it is not threatened by even a dramatic sea level rise). It is quite possibly the safest place on Earth for the collection.

The seeds are safe as they can be, in case a manmade or natural disaster wipes out a food crop, it can be started over again from the samples in the Vault.

Our sealing in the Holy Spirit makes safer still.

Summary by William Rowley, source, Max Lucado, Help Is Here: Finding Fresh Strength and Purpose in the Power of the Holy Spirit (Thomas Nelson, 2022).



Thanking God for Places of Peace

Think back over your life and try to remember a place where you felt safe and at peace, a time when you felt relaxed and okay. It could be an outdoor place—like on a beach or sitting in a tree. Maybe it’s an indoor place like a quiet reading chair or a kitchen table.

Close your eyes and remember this place as completely as you can. Imagine yourself being there, noticing the sights, sounds, feels, smells, tastes. Notice what it feels like in your body to be there. Spend a minute enjoying this place using your imagination. Notice what it feels like to be safe and at peace. Then take some time to thank God for this place, no matter how small or normal it might seem.

Joy is experienced in the same part of the brain where our sense of identity is built.

Taken from Does God Really Like Me?: Discovering the God Who Wants to Be With Us  by Cyd and Geoff Holsclaw Copyright (c) 2020 by Cyd and Geoff Holsclaw. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

Togetherness & The Genius of the Gold-Saddle Goatfish

The gold-saddle goatfish is a small fish native to Hawaiian reefs with a distinctive coloring. In the past few years, divers in Hawaii have come across a fascinating phenomenon. During their regular dives, they’ve begun to notice a large fish with the same brilliant colors as the gold-saddle goatfish. Upon closer inspection, the divers realized this wasn’t one large fish, but in fact a school of gold saddle fish swimming together in such impressive unity and in such a perfect fish-shaped pattern as to appear like one imposingly large fish, not to be trifled with. It turns out, when the gold-saddle fish feels threatened, they join together, unified in fish formation to appear much larger.

The gold saddle goatfish provides an important lesson for those facing threats. Do we turn inward, trusting only ourselves? Or do we “huddle up” with our neighbors, our friends, or even our churches to face the oncoming storm, be it a global pandemic or something of a local variety?

Stuart Strachan Jr.

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