Life Sermon Illustrations

Life Sermon Illustrations

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The great Battle of Blenheim was fought at the village of that name on the Danube, August 13, 1704. The commander of the British and Austrian armies, which defeated the French and the Bavarians, was the Duke of Malborough, an ancestor of Mr. Winston Churchill. Many years after the battle, as related in Southey's famous poem, a little lad brought to his grandfather, Caspar, a round, smooth object which he had found near the brook by which he had been playing. The old man exclaimed to the lad that this was the skull of a soldier who had fallen in the Battle of Blenheim. The boy wanted to know about the battle, and the old man took him on his knee and told him the story of the battle. When he was through with his tale, the lad questioned the old man:

"But what good came of it at last?"
Quoth little Peterkin.
"Why, that I cannot tell," said he;
"But 'twas a famous victory."


When Jesus told the disciples to launch out into the deep and let down the nets, Peter said, "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing." (Luke 5:5.) Yet it was in those same waters that they made the great haul of fish.
We are sometimes inclined to think that if we could have a different line or net, get into a different place, have a new environment, all would be different with us. But remember what Jesus said to those disciples, in the same waters, with the same burdens, the same temptations, the same occupation, the same trials—there or nowhere must be our victory.


In the mountain country during the summer months you have awakened in the morning to find the horizon a wall or curtain of mist and fog, hiding the whole landscape. Then after an hour or two the curtain of vapor began slowly to lift and rise, disclosing the realities, the abiding things— trees, fields, the river flowing melodiously away, the everlasting hills. So it is in life that the thought and vision and reach of man are often centered on those things which are but vapor and mist, and which veil the great realities of our existence.


At Bangkok, in Siam, the Buddhists have a celebration on the river in which they set adrift miniature illuminated ships laden with thank offerings. As the flaming ships drift down with the current, the priests chant, "Short is the life of mortals and full of pain— a flame launched upon a deep sea, drifting to the inevitable dissolution; for whatever has origin also has an end."

So far as the transiency of life is concerned the flaming ship, drifting with the tide and soon extinguished in the darkness, is a true figure of our life. But it is not a true figure of the meaning and the length of life summed up, not in years, but in character, in faith and hope and love.


Edwin Booth once wrote to Adam Badeau, Grant's secretary and biographer, "Be brave and struggle, but do not set your heart on anything in this world. If good comes to you, take it and enjoy it; but be ready always to relinquish it without a groan."

That is sound advice. It is wise for us to recognize clearly the transiency of human life and that our relationships in time are but for a little. Our stay here is brief and our hold on life is fragile. Edward Young in Night Thoughts said,

The spider's most attenuated thread
Is cord, is cable, to man's tender tie
On earthly bliss; it breads at every breeze.


God has something for everyone to do. This legend is incribed on the Brashear Home, in Pittsburgh: "Somewhere under the stars there is a work waiting for you that no one else in the world can do but you."


Have you ever watched a grower irrigate his grove, or a farmer his land? When he opens little gates to irrigation furrows there rushes in a life-giving flow of water which, in time, will result in beautiful trees and flourishing plants. Our lives are like that. Each of us is given a furrow into which flow power, wisdom, energy, and health from a divine source. Like the trees and plants, we thrive—or dry up—according to the degree to which our gates are opened. But there is this tremendous difference. Cod lets every man be the keeper of his own gate!—R and R Magazine


Every great song, story, painting, sculpture, invention or humanitarian work has come out of the "still place." The creators of the world's work and men of genius know how to be still. In that stillness a new idea comes to mind, and they work to bring it into visible form.

Thomas Edison lived and worked in the "still place" twenty hours out of the twenty-four. He slept little and talked seldom. He said he was glad to be deaf, for he did not have to listen to the chatter of people. He took no credit to himself for his electrical inventions and discoveries. "Had I not been there to get it," he said, "someone else would." He knew he was just an instrument for divine power and wisdom to work through, but he kept the dial of his mind tuned to the universal station.

George Washington Carver contacted that same creative power that is always ready and waiting to be used. It was a rule of this great scientist to rise at 4:00 a.m., and go out into the woods or fields. In the stillness of the dawn he asked what he was to do that day, and waited for God to tell him He took the humble peanut to his laboratory and reverently asked God what a peanut was and why He made it, and it yielded more than three hundred more useful products and increased its yield 500 percent.—Friendly Chat


I remember once hearing a new golf game called "Drink and Smell." The rules were to have two players, two caddies, two bags of clubs, and one large bottle of whiskey. After the first hole the winner got a drink and the loser just a smell; the same procedure on the second and thereafter. If the same lost 3 or 4 holes in succession, he would be bound to win the next. So it is with life, even without the bottle and the golf game. Life is a game of alternate victories and defeats.


Admiral Byrd, the explorer, one day was passing through the lobby of a hotel when a large company of people commenced cheering him Two men were joining in the salutation, when one was overheard remarking to the other "He is the last of the explorers; there is nothing left for the rest of us to explore."

The companion replied: "This is the greatest age of adventure, perhaps, that the human race has ever seen. It is easier to conquer the unexplored seas, or forest, or aerial regions than to conquer the crowds that jostle at your elbow.

"One looks at the ever moving humanity, and it is just a mass. One looks at a profession or a trade, and it is just a mass. But now and then one, or two, or three out of the mass emerge, because in their own souls they have found the meaning of personality.

"The great adventure today is not to travel to Little America, on the edge of the southern pole, but to emerge from the crowd that is about to trample you, or to suffocate you, or to mold you as a part of it. You can emerge only by the strength of your personality—a personality that is independent in every temptation and supreme in every victory."—A. E. Coax, Sunshine Magazine

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