Illustrations aid sermon comprehension

ANXIETY -- Destructiveness of
A state university in New York conducted an experiment in which sheep were given electric shocks to see what level they could tolerate. As the sheep began to anticipate upcoming shocks, they became anxious -- and many actually died as their systems became devastated by fear.
Fear is one of the most destructive forces that can enter our lives.
CHRIST -- Divinity of
"If Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God in the experience of those who trust and love Him, there needs no further argument of His divinity." (Henry Ward Beecher)
COMMITMENT -- To God's call
"Maybe you need to do as missionary John Gaston's wife urged him to do, as he tried to get her medical assistance as she lay critically ill. He started down river with her on a hand-built raft; she became too weak to go any farther. She asked John to pull the raft over to the bank. As he cradled her dying body in his weary arms, she whispered one last sentence in his ear. He buried her and, setting his face like a flint, went back upstream to his mission station. What did she say? 'Go back, John ... go back to where God has called you'." (Jim Henry, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Orlando, FL)
CROSS -- Impact of
"Never does human nature seem so courageous and so wicked all at once as when we stand before the cross of Jesus! The most enthusiastic hopes, the most profound humiliation, have found their inspiration there." (Phillips Brooks)
DISCIPLINE
Learning discipline is tough. One group arrived for the first session of their new weight-loss class. At the start of this first meeting, the instructor held up an apple and a candy bar.
"What are the benefits of this apple?" she asked, and someone replied, "It's low in calories and has lots of fiber."
Next she began reciting a litany of evils about the candy bar, and summarized with this point: "Not only are apples better for you, they're less expensive. Would you believe I paid fifty cents for this candy bar?"
Quickly a voice shot back from the back row: "I'll give you a dollar!"
EASTER -- Offers hope
Samuel Johnson once told of a man who had had a miserable marriage -- yet shortly after his wife's death, he remarried. Johnson observed that this was "the triumph of hope over experience."
As Donald Strobe points out, "Easter for the earliest Christians was the triumph of the experience over hope. It was this experience of hope which transformed the early Christian community from a bunch of defeated disciples into flaming witnesses for Christ." (Strobe is Minister of First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI)
EASTER -- Quotations
"The Easter message tells us that our enemies, sin, the curse and death, are beaten. Ultimately they can no longer start mischief. They still behave as though the game were not decided, the battle not fought; we must still reckon with them, but fundamentally we must cease to fear them any more." (Karl Barth)
"The story of Easter is the story of God's wonderful window of divine surprise." (Carl Knudsen)
ETERNITY
Billy Sunday was visiting in New York City, and joined a group stepping onto the elevator of one of the great skyscrapers. As they began to move, one of the other occupants commented, "If the elevator cable broke, I wonder if we'd go up or down." Billy Sunday responded, "It all depends on the life you've been living."
INCONSISTENCY
"To be inconsistent is like fishing with broken nets -- the best ones always get away from us." (John Killinger, Fundamentals of Preaching)
JUDAS
Still as of old
Men by themselves are priced --
For thirty pieces Judas sold
Himself, not Christ. (Hester H. Cholmondeley)
MARRIAGE -- None perfect
For more than thirty years, Ann Landers has been counselor to a nation. She has received over a million letters and written over 10,000 columns on marriage, sex, relationships, and other issues. Her columns are read daily by some 70 million people in over 1,000 newspapers.
Yet in 1976 she announced in her column that after 36 years of marriage, she and her husband were divorcing. "How did it happen that something so good for so long didn't last forever?" she wrote. "The lady with all the answers does not know the answer to this one."
No marriage is perfect. They all require hard work and commitment.
MISTAKES -- Can be used for good
An up-and-coming executive at IBM led the company's efforts to enter the photocopier market. Those efforts turned out to be disastrous, with the company losing more than $11 million.
The executive was called into the office of Thomas Watson, IBM's president. As Watson talked he noticed increasing anxiety in the man, and finally said, "What's wrong? You're not hearing me."
The young executive replied, "Well, it's obvious you're going to fire me."
"Fire you?" Watson exploded. "We just contributed $11 million to your education."
PRAYER -- Involves submission
"Spread out your petition before God, and then say, Thy will, not mine, be done.' The sweetest lesson I have learned in God's school is to let the Lord choose for me." (Dwight L. Moody)
PRIORITIES
Adweek magazine recently provided a list of "Who Made What in '88." Here's an excerpt:
George Bush $200,000
Cher $6 million
F. Ross Johnson $53.8 million
(former chairman of RJR/Nabisco)
Eddie Murphy $25 million
Willard Scott $1.9 million
Bryant Gumbel $2.0 million
Arnold Schwarzeneggar
$43 million
Larry Bird $1.8 million
Vanna White $30,000/speech
Oliver North $25,000/speech
Barbara Walters $20,000/speech
One can often tell where our priorities lie by the amount of money we spend on things. What does such a list indicate about the priorities of contemporary American society?
SALVATION -- Result of
John Huffman tells about the man who bought an expensive painting of Jesus. When he brought it home he couldn't decide the right place to hang it, so he hired a decorator, then an architect. They both concluded there was no place in the house for this magnificent picture of Jesus. What was needed was a brand new house.
"Christ in your life makes a difference. His holiness permeates your being. He is in the business of building you into a new house.
"George McDonald imaginatively built on this metaphor, declaring that when he invited Jesus Christ into his life, he needed drastic repairs. He had the leaky roof of gluttony and broken shutters of a ferocious temper. He said that Jesus made no repair whatsoever. He simply tore the house down and built it over." (Huffman is Minister of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, CA)
VISION
"Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for, because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything." (Peter Marshall)