The following sermon illustrations can be used in topics like temptations and Lent season.
The Power of Temptation
We laugh when Professor Harold Hill in the musical Music Man warns that the boy who buckles his knickers below the knees is “on the road to degradation,” but despite the laughter there is a truth here. There’s no harm, directly, in most of life’s little misdemeanors, but they grow. An ancient rabbi said, “Sin begins as a spider’s web and becomes a ship’s
rope.” You and I add those strands that change the spider’s web into a rope; but because we add just one strand at a time, and because each one is usually so small, we don’t realize what we’re constructing. Sometimes, on the other hand, the growth seems to happen almost of its own accord. It is as if we planted a seed in the soil of the soul by some small act of sin and, without our seeming to attend it or care for it, it develops into a full-grown tree. Sometimes, verily, a forest!
J. Ellesworth Kalas, If Experience Is Such A Good Teacher Why Do I Keep
Repeating The Course?, p. 80.
Lead Us Not Into Temptation
I recently read a story about a little boy named Bobby who desperately wanted a new bicycle. His plan was to save his nickels, dimes and quarters until he finally had enough to buy a new 10-speed. Each night he asked God to help him save his money. Kneeling beside his bed, he prayed, “Dear Lord, please help me save my money for a new bike, and please, Lord, don’t let the ice cream man come down the street again tomorrow.”
Jim Grant in Reader’s Digest told about someone else who faced temptation. An overweight businessman decided it was time to shed some excess pounds. He took his new diet seriously, even changing his driving route to avoid his favorite bakery. One morning, however, he showed up at work with a gigantic coffee cake. Everyone in the office scolded him, but his smile remained nonetheless. “This is a special coffee cake,” he explained. “I accidentally drove by the bakery this morning and there in the window was a host of goodies. I felt it was no accident, so I prayed, ‘Lord, if you want me to have one of those delicious coffee cakes, let there be a parking spot open right in front.’ And sure enough, the eighth time around the block, there it was!”
All of us know what it is to enter the wilderness of temptation. Temptation is part and parcel of the human condition.
Lee Griess, Taking The Risk Out Of Dying, CSS Publishing Company
I Am Baptized
In some churches when babies are baptized they are given a candle; it is to be lit each year on the anniversary of their baptism. Those candles are given as a visual reminder to them, and to others in the family, that he or she is a child of God. It’s a sign of assurance of who we are – or better, whose we are. Maybe there isn’t anything more important that we can do for our children than to keep reminding them of who they are, and whose they are. They belong to Jesus. He chose them. And he chose you.
And glory of glories, he chose me. Me! Christ claims that you and I are worthy of being one of his dearly beloved – worth dying for, and worth returning for, in order that we might be his … forever.
When Martin Luther became depressed, he saw it as a temptation of Satan and he would turn to his ancient foe and cry out, “I am baptized. I am baptized.” He needed the assurance of his identity, that he belonged to Jesus. If he were going to carry out the great work God had given him to do he needed to be sure that even though his faith might waver, God’s all-encompassing love would not. He needed the assurance that he was held, held firmly in that mighty grip of mercy.
John M. Braaten, The Greatest Wonder of All, CSS Publishing Co.
In Death Valley there is a place known as Dante’s View. There, you can look down to the lowest spot in the United States, a depression in the earth 200 feet below sea level called Bad Water. But from that same spot, you can also look up to the highest peak in the United States, Mount Whitney, rising to a height of 14,500 feet. One way leads to the lowest and the other way to the highest. From that point, called Dante’s View, any movement must be in one or the other direction.
There are many times in life when we stand where the ways part and where choices must be made. It is often easier to trip along downhill than to walk the steady, or maybe rocky, uphill path. But the path uphill leads to a cross — an empty cross. And the one that walks beside us is the one who hung there and defeated it.
Glenn E. Ludwig, Walking To…Walking With …Walking Through…, CSS Publishing Company
The Savior Is There
I think of Mother Teresa, ministering to those often left by others to die. I think of the press coverage on Mother Teresa’s long dark night of the soul, as she wrote with weary familiarity of an arid landscape from which, seemingly, the Deity had disappeared.
Is that the more convenient time? Or is it the senior years, when the reality of age rudely intrudes into your personal fantasyland? When the temporary exuberance of youth has surrendered to the inexorable advance of old age with its cynicism, if not possible disillusionment? When the fumes of yesterday’s zeal and vision may be all that is left in an empty spiritual tank?
As I sort through all that, I arrive at the inescapable conclusion, to know that opportune time might be helpful, but what you and I really need to know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, is not the “when.” The focus of our attention ought to be, whenever the enemy’s opportune time—despondency, sickness, failure, waning stages of life, whenever—the victorious Savior is there.
Benjamin Reaves, What You Need to Know
Raised In The 16th and Kicked Out In The 21st
The complaint is sometimes made about clergy or parochial school children that they don’t live in the “real” world. Often there is the attempt to protect people from the “real” world — the world of evil and temptation, gangs and death, alcoholics and addicts. I had a 20-something lady tell me, “My mother raised me in the sixteenth century and then kicked me out in the 20th — and I wasn’t ready for it.” Jesus knows this “real” world of temptations, and undeserved suffering and death.
We Haven’t Been Up To Bat Yet
Temptation tries to blind us to other possibilities. A business man driving home from work one day, saw a little league baseball game in progress. He decided to stop and watch. He sat down in the bleachers and asked a kid what the score was. “We’re behind 14 to nothing,” he answered with a smile.
“Really,” he responded. “I have to say you don’t look very discouraged.”
“Discouraged?” the boy asked with a puzzled look on his face. “Why should we be discouraged? We haven’t been up to bat yet.”
Brett Blair, www.eSermons.com.
Lent: Spring Training For Christians
When I was a boy, I was told, “Baptists don’t do Lent.” No one knew why. I suspect that it was an anti-Catholic thing which I pray we are over. It was the old argument, “whatever they do, we don’t!” – a curiously convoluted, twisted and unhealthy way to decide on religious practices.
Whatever the reason for “not doing Lent,” I think it is a great loss for any Christian not to prepare for Good Friday and Easter. Every spring the baseball players prepare for the season with spring training; every spring ordinary people prepare for summer by doing “spring cleaning.” So why shouldn’t Christians prepare for the most important events in Jesus’ ministry – what he did for us on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, what he did for us on Golgotha’s cross and at the empty tomb?
If it helps you, think of Lent as a kind of Christian spring training and spring cleaning.
John Ewing Roberts, Remembering and Forgetting