"LESSONS FOR LIVING!"
Written and preached by David P. Nolte
They say, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Be that as it may, it
is no excuse for people, old or young, to quit learning. You are not an old
dog, and it is not merely new tricks you ought to learn. We need to learn
lessons that impact on our parenting, that alter our personal relationships,
that keep us from making the same foolish mistakes time and again. We need
to learn lessons that improve the quality of life for self and others around
us. We need to learn lessons that change the meaning of our years from mere
existence to genuine living. Some don't want to learn anything new. Learning
moves us out of our stale routines. Learning demands discipline. Learning
may mean that we have been wrong and have to change! Learning is threatening
to the status quo. Learning is sometimes difficult. But learn we must, or
stagnate we will. And in all your learning, remember that we are greatly
ignorant if we have failed to learn from Jesus Christ. His teaching amazed
some, angered some, and motivated others. He taught with authority and didn't
merely echo the teaching of others as did the Scribes. Some obeyed Jesus'
teaching and some did not obey it. Listening to and doing what Jesus
taught makes all the difference in our "house" standing or falling.Though
some of you are being honored as you graduate, remember that graduation means
you have reached a level, not the final level, from which you need to keep
progressing, striving and learning. There are many lessons we ought to learn
from Jesus. I will call some to mind this morning. The list is by no means
exhaustive but should be suggestive.
- WE NEED
TO LEARN SELF-DENIAL:
- Jesus said, in Matthew 16:24, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and
take up his cross, and follow Me." To deny self means to learn to say, "No!"
to your selfish desires and motivations and to mean it!
- You can trace nearly every sin back to a failure to
deny self and to pander to selfish desire.
- Consider Lucifer himself. He was created to be the highest
cherub. But note how his ego got him into disaster: "How you have fallen
from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down
to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart,
'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. I will
ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most
High.'" Isaiah 14:12-14.
- Consider Absalom. The spoiled king's kid who wanted
to throw David out, even by death if need be, to become king.
- Consider Ahab. The evil king who went along with Jezebel's
plot and murdered Naboth to secure his vineyard.
- Think about this: self-centeredness is destructive:
- It ruins marriages.
- It destroys friendships.
- It breeds dishonesty, cheating and even crime.
- It leads to greed, covetousness and other forms of
- It sparks hostility, enmity and war. James said, "What
is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your
pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you
commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.
You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because
you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures." James 4:1-3.
- Awhile back I read a piece dealing with childish logic.
It truly reflects the "me first" attitude.
- If I think it's mine, it's mine.
- If it used to be mine and I gave it to you but want it back, it's
- If it looks like mine, it's mine.
- If you laid it down for a minute, it's mine.
- If I didn't want it until you wanted it, it's mine.
- A few months ago, my granddaughter, Alisha, e-mailed
me this thought: "Dear Grandpa, Hi!!! I had no idea how many viruses there
are, kinda like sin huh, if you download the wrong stuff you start to do
more stuff bad, and spread it onto others, it's so sad, but if we spread
God's news on we can kill some of the viruses (sin) huh, I was just thinking
about and thought of sending you this letter, You could use this as one of
your sermon things if you want to, I think it could be a good sermon, and
I won't get upset if you don't. You can even read this letter, or delete
it. I love you!! Alisha C." The point: Selfishness is one of the worst viruses
we'll ever encounter. We need to kill it or it will kill us. To kill it,
we need to learn the lesson of self-denial.
- WE NEED
TO LEARN COMPASSION:
- Jesus said,
- "By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another." John 13:35.
- "But go and learn what this means, 'I DESIRE COMPASSION,
AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 9:13.
- Paul wrote, "And so, as those who have been chosen
of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other,
whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so
also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect
bond of unity." Colossians 3:12-14. So, compassion means to
- have pity, to feel distress for the problems of others,
- Be patient and kind in their failures,
- be loving and gentle in their weaknesses
- be forgiving when they wrong you.
- Show kindness or good will towards the suffering and
afflicted, and it is to couple it with a desire to help them.
- To put that into action, seek out
- The lonely and overlooked and forgotten. Be a friend.
- The one who everyone picks on or taunts and who is
lowest on the pecking order. Be a defender and advocate.
- The one who is grieving, sorrowful and sad. Be a healer
- The one who is desperate, at wits end and discouraged.
Be an admonisher and encourager.
- The weak, stumbling and failing. Be a lifter, give
- The newcomer to the community, school or church. Make
- Seek them out - not to add to their difficulty but
to alleviate it!.
- Despite his busy schedule during the Civil War, Abraham
Lincoln often visited the hospitals to cheer the wounded. On one occasion
he saw a young fellow who was near death. "Is there anything I can do for
you?" asked the compassionate President. "Please write a letter to my mother,"
came the reply. Unrecognized by the soldier, the Chief Executive sat down
and wrote as the youth told him what to say. The letter read, "My Dearest
Mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty, and I won't recover. Don't
sorrow too much for me. May God bless you and Father. Kiss Mary and John
for me." The young man was too weak to go on, so Lincoln signed the letter
for him and then added this postscript: "Written for your son by Abraham
Lincoln." Asking to see the note, the soldier was astonished to discover
who had shown him such kindness. "Are you really our President?" he asked.
"Yes," was the quiet answer. "Now, is there anything else I can do?" The
lad feebly replied, "Will you please hold my hand? I think it would help
to see me through to the end." The tall, gaunt man granted his request, offering
warm words of encouragement until death stole in with the dawn. That's compassion.
That's a lesson we ought to learn!
Lessons for living. Learn self-denial. Learn compassion. Learn to put Jesus
first. If you succeed in learning those lessons most other things will come
into place. When we learn those lessons we learn to say no to lustful and
immoral desires. We learn to deal with people as Jesus would deal with them:
forgiving those who wrong us, helping those in need. We learn to value what
Jesus values and to hate what He hates, to walk in ways that emulate Him
and avoid ways that break His heart. We learn how frequently we fail, and
how mercifully He restores. We learn how unworthy we are, and how gracious
He is. We ought to learn that while we cannot do anything to put ourselves
right with God, that Jesus has already done that. We ought to learn that
we come into right relationship with God by receiving Christ by faith. Believing
Him, trusting Him, and obeying Him. The Master Teacher says, "Come, learn
of me." Will you come? Will you show that you are willing to learn from Him
by trusting and obeying?
- WE NEED TO LEARN TO PUT JESUS FIRST:
- We read of an instance that illustrates this in Luke's
gospel: "Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village;
and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister
called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord's word, seated at His
feet. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up
to Him, and said, 'Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do
all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.' But the Lord answered and
said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many
things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has
chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.'" Luke 10:38-42.
- Martha, not sinfully, was occupied FOR Jesus.
- Mary, not lazily, was occupied WITH Jesus.
- Jesus wants us occupied for Him, but not if it interferes
with being occupied WITH Him.
- Many times
- We hustle and bustle, hurry and worry, fuss and muss
about a thousand things but don't take time with Jesus.
- We are busy and dizzy, rushed and flushed, uptight
and affright about this world's activities, but are neglectful about Jesus.
- We have time for school, work, play, sports, amusements,
hobbies, newspapers, TV and a lot of other pursuits, but are negligent about
- How significant is Jesus to you? How important, how
central, how prime in your activities, thoughts, and life?
- Let me tell you about an African girl to whom Jesus
was number one! She saw others bringing offerings to the missionary and had
nothing to give. One day she came and handed the missionary a single coin.
He knew of her poverty and asked, "Why, where ever did you get this coin?"
She said, "I went to a neighboring plantation owner and sold myself to him
as a slave for that coin. I wanted to give Jesus an offering which satisfied
my heart." No question who was first in her life.
Lincoln and Coin stories from Knight Illustration Books
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