Opportunity Sermon Illustrations

Opportunity Sermon Illustrations

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One of the old Saxon kings set out with an army to put down a rebellion in a distant province of his kingdom. When the insurrection had been quelled and the army of the rebels defeated, the king placed a candle over the archway of the castle where he had his headquarters and, lighting the candle, announced through a herald to all who had been in rebellion against him that those who surrendered and took the oath of loyalty while the candle was burning would be spared. The king offered them his clemency and mercy, but the offer was limited to the life of the candle.

Every great offer of life and of time has its candle limitations. This is true of the offer of fortune and prosperity, or knowledge, or health, or affection. There is a limited period of time in which to make use of the offer and the opportunity. This is true most of all of the greatest offer ever made to man—the offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ his Son.

The Parthenon at Athens had a gateway, the Propylaea, the ruins of which show it to have been of almost equal splendor with the virgin's temple itself. So the door of repentance and faith is in keeping with the splendor of the house and temple of heaven. At what a cost that door was opened! The stars halted to admire it, the angels wondered in sore amazement at the cost of opening; and nature groaned and the sun veiled his face while He the great Redeemer died. What a door opened for sinners!

Strange that with that door open men should choose any other door. The door has stood open through the ages. So long has it been open that it does not seem that it could ever close. But at length, when Christ comes again, when the whole earth shakes with the cry, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh" (Matt. 25:6), the door will close for the whole human race.

But now, long before that, and for men in this life, that door is always closing. While there is life there is hope; but when the door is shut, and the acceptable clay is passed, it opens not again. Prayer we think of, and rightly so, as the mightiest weapon that man can use. But we have it on the authority of Christ himself that there comes a time when prayer itself is without power. "Lord, Lord, open to us." (Matt. 25:11.) Those who had permitted the door to close against them prayed, but the door opened not.

Deep in the heart of Texas, a rancher was brought to the hospital desperately ill. For days he lay in a coma. Then one morning, revived a little, he asked his nurse what time of the year it was. The nurse answered, "Why, it is springtime."
"Springtime!" said the man. "Then I can't die now, for it is plowing time!"

Make use of your plowing time!

In the Bible we have the history of men like Herod, Felix, Agrippa, and the rich young ruler—men who had sincere interest in Christ and were visited with conviction. But, just as ships at sea will sometimes emerge for a moment from the shadows as they cross the pathway of the moon and then are lost again in darkness and gloom, these men appeared for a moment in the light of conviction and opportunity and then disappeared forever. The only time to which God binds himself is Now. Great things can be done in a moment of time; but tonight you have just 10,080 fewer minutes of time than you had at this hour a week ago, and 524,162 fewer minutes of time than you had before you on this day last year.

One of the best-known figures in American public life half a century ago, an able lawyer and statesman, and an eloquent orator, was William M. Evarts. In his last years in the Senate he suffered from an affliction of the eyes which made it impossible for him to read or to recognize any but the most familiar faces. On a trip to Europe he went to consult an eminent physician, who told him there was not the slightest hope. Darkness would certainly, though gradually, settle down upon him. Evarts received the sentence with composure. But he said he had long wished to see Raphael's famous Virgin at Dresden, and that he would go to Dresden to see it before the night set in and it was too late. This he did, and the face of the lovely Virgin was no doubt a consolation to him in the long darkness. While he had the light he walked in it.

Once on the rocky coast of Scotland a man was lowered by a rope from the top of a cliff to a ledge in order to gather the eggs of wild sea fowl. In a careless moment he let the rope slip away from him. Realizing his great peril, and seeing the rope come swinging toward him again, and knowing that its second swing would be shorter than the first, he waited till it reached the end of the swing and then leaped to seize it—and was drawn up the cliff to safety. In a moment of time he had to choose and act. That will often be so in the destiny of the human soul.

The astronomers tell us of those heavenly bodies whose orbits draw them nearer and nearer together, until they approach the point of closest approximation and then turn away, and every second, every hour, every day, every year, every century, every aeon, finds them farther and farther apart.

There is something like that, too, in the destiny of a human soul. It may be that there are those here tonight who are near to Christ, and from now on will come nearer and nearer—or from now on will drift farther and farther from God.

Today is the key that opens the door to the chamber of success. Today is the ladder by which men climb to fame and power. Today is the sunlight by which men follow the path that leads to happiness. Today is the sword with which men smite temptation. Today is the vision in the light of which men follow their dream. Today is the voice that calls men out of fatal slumber. Today is the word that is written over the gates of heaven, flaming with jewels—the ruby, the topaz, the jacinth, the chrysoprase, the emerald, and all the precious stones. Today is the word that on the lips of the redeemed in heaven blends with the other word, Eternity.

John Morley on a holiday in the Highlands met with a well-educated and unusually able young minister. The minister expressed regret to Morley that he was isolated in this bleak region, far from libraries and the stimulus of London. But Morley encouraged him by saying that London or the Highlands made little difference in his intellectual life, as a minister depended upon what he did in his own study. "Here, or nowhere, is thine 'America,' he said to him, quoting the expression of Goethe when he rebuked restless souls in Germany who thought that they could change all their life by migrating to America.

"Here, or nowhere, is thine America." It is not the country but the man, not the sword but the man behind the sword. Your true America, your land of opportunity, is in your heart. As a man "thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7.)

The Road of Opportunity

When the Children of Israel crossed into Canaan, it was on the Jericho road that they wrought that miraculous capture of Jericho by encompassing the city day by day as they had been directed. It was on the Jericho road that Zaccheaus climbed up into the sycamore tree to see Jesus as He passed by, which resulted in having Him in his home and heart. It was on the Jericho road that the sons of the prophets were working on their building and the head of a borrowed ax fell into the water, and was rescued by a miracle by the prophet. It was on the Jericho road that two blind men called to Jesus as He was passing, and had their sight restored. It was on the Jericho road that a certain man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho and became in need of help. The Jericho road is the road of opportunity, and it runs by your home, and your shop, and your office, and there is always "a certain man" there.Sunday School Times.

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