Here are a number of sermon outlines and/or starter illustrations from Pastor Phil Roland.

Click on the topic to go to the beginning of that choice.

Beholding Christ

Born From Above

Israel, God's Timepiece

Pressure-cooker living

Reconciliation and Peacemaking


Born From Above

Sermon Starter


I was raised as an evangelical, but I’m not a very good evangelical. I grew up kicking and screaming about the rituals of the evangelical church. I saw the Baptist preachers of my youth as God’s high pressure salesmen, making their pitch before each end-of-service altar call. They were God’s sort-of “holy hawkers” barking at passers-by with their megaphones to “repent and get saved.” When queried about what that meant, I was answered with another, ‘You must be borned again!’” More confused, I pressed a few of them, “But how is this accomplished?” Some would get impatient, “You know, have your heart washed by the blood of the lamb!” Disturbed by these images, I continued, “I’ve heard these phrases before, but what do I do?” Then, with a gleam in their eye, some would point me down the Roman Road to salvation: Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:8-10; and Rev. 3:22. Then, they would attempt to lead me into a familiar ritualistic prayer, the sinner’s prayer of acceptance of Christ as personal savior.


I spent my first 11 years preaching in a church of deists who didn’t believe in a God who was interested in their personal, every day affairs. I faithfully made the salvation pitch each Sunday, never actually seeing any fruit from these altar calls. There would be an icy stoic-ness following each service. Often I was the only person kneeling at the altar. My practice was to kneel there so that the altar wouldn’t be empty at the conclusion of each service.

The Chairman of our Official Board did walk the aisle after one Sunday’s service. He asked for the microphone and said, “I’m tired of coming to church feeling good and leaving feeling like a dirty sinner! I’m just as good as the rest of you!” Then he defiantly closed the service by singing the Lord’s Prayer without a piano accompaniment. (Ironically, the man’s son owns and operates a bar just down the street from my ministry center. “Seth” loads them up with liquor and we mop up the aftermath through our counseling center.)

What happened over the years as a result, for me, personally, is what I refer to as “evangelical burn-out.” Statistically, it takes the evangelical world in a typical traditional church about SIX years to burn-out their converts. Charismatic and Pentecostal churches take a little longer. The sociologists say it takes them an average of NINE years to burn-out their converts.

What is the problem? Salvation through the born-from-above experience is not the end-of-all-things pinnacle from which we sit until the rapture, our own physical deaths or the second coming. This sermon is about a believer’s entrance to a life-long love affair with Jesus Christ and about the total surrender and dedication of oneself to Him.


THEISM – A vague belief in an undefined God or God-force. Interestingly, an alpha, “a” in front of a Greek derivative word, negates the word. Thus, “a”theist becomes a person who believes in no god at all.


DEISM – The theology of the Masonic Lodge. It involves a belief in a Creator who set up the universe and its laws, but who is not personally present to care about or intervene in the personal affairs of creation.



I spent the first fifteen years of my religious experience in performance-oriented Southern Baptist Churches. During that period of time, not one pastor, deacon or lay person ever told me they loved me. Essentially, I was never allowed to feel I was accepted. I was 32 years old before a non-family member who was a Christian believer ever told me they loved me.

I was 32 years old and had been away from the college scene for some 6 years.  I felt God’s call to train at a small Bible College that had just been founded in Anaheim, California.  I was certain it was the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit that sent me there.  I swaggered onto the campus of this brand new school.  After all, I graduated 13th high in a class of over 900 students in Mira Costa High School.  Wasn’t I a lifetime “Member of the National Honor Society” and a “Seal Bearer” at that?  Academics were my piece of cake.  Eat your heart out God!  Here I am!

          For my first class in Melodyland School of Theology, I chose New Testament Greek I.  Since the classes were summer classes, it was announced we would hold classes twice a week and finish in FIVE WEEKS!  I had never taken a language class before and didn’t comprehend the intensive amount of time that was required between classes.  In two and a half weeks, I was flunking.  It was the most humiliating academic experience of my life.  I felt shame and disgust with myself. 

          The telephone rang at the busy engraving shop I managed in Long Beach, California.  It was 2:30 in the afternoon.  Presses were banging all around me.  I heard the voice of my Greek professor, Lyle Storey.  To that point in my life I had been taught by scores of teachers both gifted and those who simply put in their time.  Never had I received a personal call from a teacher.

          “Phil?  This is Lyle.  I know you’re having a hard time with the class.  I don’t want you to drop out.  I believe in you.  I think you have the right stuff.  Just don’t quit.  Phil, I love you.”  He said goodbye, and I was stunned.  No one in my 32 years to date apart from my wife and mother had ever told me they loved me.  No one in my church told me, no pastor, friend or church member ever said they loved me: no one.  I sat down as hot tears sprang from my eyes.  I turned away from my coworkers and slowly hung up the phone.

          I took an audit on the class for that summer.  I re-enrolled in the class that fall, and received an “A.”  I took three more semesters of Greek under Lyle after that and grew to love the study of the original language of scripture.  But what I received from that early summer class was another confirmation on my call to humility and love.



For years I’ve had recurring dreams about being in church without my shoes. Occasionally, something else would be missing, like a coat, tie or even a shirt. Mainly, however, the dreams would find me ready to go into the pulpit without my shoes. The very morning I was to preach this sermon I had the dream again. There are three possible sources of the images of a dream. First, there is your own flesh/self. Your deep inner self may be experiencing a conflict over something you’re not willing to consciously face. Second, God’s Holy Spirit may be attempting to communicate with you, but you’ve tuned Him out and become spiritually hard-of-hearing. Thirdly, the enemy who is often referred to as “the accuser” may be planting subtle thoughts to seduce you away from your love and allegiance to God.  

In this situation of my repetitive dreams I believe God has been attempting to speak to my “burned out, hardened” heart and ears. I was so evangelically burned out when we drew up our Bi Laws for the Sheepfold, that I completely left the word, “church” out. IRS required the word in our bylaws to establish the fact that we were a church.  Grudgingly, I wrote the word “church” once in the bylaws so we could pass IRS’s strict guidelines for acceptance.

This Spring I’ve repented and asked God to forgive me for my bias and I’ve dedicated myself to making the Sheepfold and myself more salvation oriented. Oh, yes, my dream is about Ephesians 6:10-18, having my feet shod with the shoes of the Gospel of Christ’s peace. With God’s help I will accomplish this as He leads me.

Pastor Phil   <><<


July 2, 2006
Sheepfold Ministries - Pastor Phil Roland
Born From Above
JOHN 3:1-21
"Spiritual rebirth is the BEGINNING of a Christian's walk with Jesus Christ, it is not the end or completion of things.  It is an entrance to new beginnings with God." Pastor Phil

"Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."    John 3:5 


=GEN-AY-THAY A-NO-THEN=Born From Above
          A. Cannot SEE the Kingdom until Re-Birth - John 3:3
                   1. Not Physical Rebirth- John 3:4
                   2. Spiritual Rebirth
        B. Cannot ENTER The Kingdom until Re-Birth - John 3:5
                   1. Born of Water - Two Parallels
                             a. Physical Birth
                             b. Spiritual Birth / Water Baptism
                   2. Born of Spirit
                             a. Human Spirit
                             b. Holy Spirit thru Miraculous Birth from Above
        A. Moves at its own will - 3:8a
          B. Verified Empirically
                   1. Hear the sound of it   
2. Feel the breath of it
                   3. See the effect of it
          C. The wind is within us / Operates w/in us the same way
          A. He Himself was “Born From Above” - He came from heaven
          B. He must be lifted up like the brazen serpent - Num. 21:4-9
              1. Sons of Israel were required to Look  to Live
              2. We are required to Look at Jesus Crucified and Live
          C. Give up our clinging to the flesh of this life
                   1. Receive His Gift of Love
                   2. Believe in Him to Receive Eternal Life

3:1  There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
2  This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."
3  Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
4  Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"
5  Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6  "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7  "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
8  "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
9  Nicodemus answered and said to Him, "How can these things be?"
10  Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?
11  "Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.
12  "If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
13  "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
14  "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
15  "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
16  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17  "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18  "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19  "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20  "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21  "But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."



June 27, 2004
Sheepfold Ministries / Pastor Phil Roland
Israel: God’s Timepiece

Psalm 84

“God has made an eternal promise to Abraham and to the land of Israel. God never forgets and always keeps his promises. A curse is promised to those who divide the land .” Pastor Phil
Four modern Israels could fit into the USA’s state of Florida.  It is small but becomes the focus of world attention again and again.


          A. Diaspora began in 70 AD with Roman genocide against Jews
            B. Renamed Palestine by Romans
                        1. Palestine HAS NEVER EXISTED as an autonomous entity
                        2. Ruled by Rome, Islamic, Crusaders, Ottoman Empire & British


          A. Abraham given God’s Promise - Genesis 15:12-21
                        1. Buried Sarah in the cave of Machpelah - Genesis 23
                        2. Abraham, Isaac, Rebeccah, Jacob, Leah buried there, also
            B. Land was never to be sold - Lev. 25:23
“The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.”
                   1. Both Israel and US have sinned against God
                        2. Land cannot be traded for peace - David Ben Gurion quote

            C. Jacob received a new name from God Himself - Genesis 32:28

“Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”


            A. Then and Now - Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and So. Lebanon
            B. Philistines - Gaza Strip today



          A. June 5, 1967 - Six Day War
1. The United Arab Republic was joined by Jordan, Syria, Iraq,
Algeria, Sudan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco.
2. This unholy confederacy was unsuccessful
B. Those who oppose her oppose God

Israel: God’s Timepiece, Texts:

Psalm 83

1Do not keep silent, O God!  Do not hold Your peace,
    And do not be still, O God!
2For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
    And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
3They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
    And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
4They have said,
    “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
    That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”
5For they have consulted together with one consent;
    They form a confederacy against You:
6The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; 
    Moab and the Hagrites;
7Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek;
    Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
8Assyria also has joined with them;
    They have helped the children of Lot.
9Deal with them as with Midian,  As with Sisera,
As with Jabin at the Brook Kishon, 
10Who perished at En Dor, Who became as refuse on the earth.
11Make their nobles like Oreb and like Zeeb,
    Yes, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12Who said, “Let us take for ourselves
    The pastures of God for a possession.”
13O my God, make them like the whirling dust,
    Like the chaff before the wind!
14As the fire burns the woods,
    And as the flame sets the mountains on fire,
15So pursue them with Your tempest,
    And frighten them with Your storm.
16Fill their faces with shame,
    That they may seek Your name, O LORD.

17Let them be confounded and dismayed forever;
Yes, let them be put to shame and perish,
18That they may know that You, whose name alone is the LORD,
Are the Most High over all the earth.

Genesis 15:12-21

12Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. 13Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.
15Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you
shall be buried at a good old age.
16But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
17And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.
18On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—
19the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites,
20the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”



B E H O L D I N G   H I M


A family member read the New Testament completely through before his tenth birthday. He “saw Jesus” as a result of that initial study. He NEVER saw Jesus in the traditional church he was raised in. He saw hypocrisy and incredible inconsistencies between how people talked about Jesus and how they lived their lives. Disillusioned, he kept his faith to himself, and made it a part of his intimate personal life. He lived his life according to the model and ethics of Christ, but never publicly revealed to anyone the beauty of this early vision of Christ.

It’s easy to say that after BEHOLDING HIM, he was transformed. His reaction to mankind’s religious reality was as strong as the pure vision of Christ he received as a child. I believe that no one can walk away from that sacred look and be the same. Even a glimpse of Him changed my life forever as a young man and has given my life since that event purpose and meaning.

I saw an incredible painting of the face of Christ in the cafeteria of Asbury Seminary in Asbury Kentucky. Having never seen the painting before, it was still familiar. I was drawn to the eyes. When I went to the school book store I saw a duo-tone of the incredible work. I immediately bought one for my study and had it matted and framed. I have included this amazing reproduction in this file.

August 27, 2006 - Sheepfold Ministries
Pastor Phil Roland

B E H O L D I N G   H I M

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:5
“It’s difficult to see Jesus through the televangelist’s lens or the stain-glass windows of the traditional church. Our hearts long to see Him as He is.”
Pastor Phil

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (NIV)  2 Cor 3:18
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  (KJV)

            Busyness / Heavy activity schedules/Cell Phones / I-Pods          Television/Computer Addictions / Easy Access Porn
            Vocational Activities / Family Responsibilities
I.  SPECIFIC PRAYER - Matt.  21:22 
          “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
A. Ask God for Specific Things - James 4:2 - Have not/Ask not
          B. Visually see Him answering the prayer
                   1. No need to do self-injurious things to get God’s attention
                   2. No need for vast amounts of time
“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy
place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul
to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.”
          A. Worshipping Him with Clean Hands -
B. Worshipping Him with a Pure Heart
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” NIV
A. Dialogue Prayer - Speak for Yourself / Speak for God
          B. Go Beyond Inspiration
          C. Come to the Living Word of God as a Person - John 5:39,40
"You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these
are they which testify of Me. "But you are not willing to come to Me that you may
have life.”

IV. PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT - Ephesians 6:18
“Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert
and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.” NLT
          A. Leaving Ecclesiastical Prayers Behind
          B. Spontaneous Prayer from the Heart – 1 Cor. 14:15
”So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my
mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” NIV
                   1. Can Be a Known Tongue
                   2. Can Be an Unknown Tongue
V.  SILENCE - Psalm 46:10
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be
exalted in the earth!”
    A. Solemn, holy gaze into the Heart of God
          B. Adoration / Poem / Transparency

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
13  We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.
14  But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
15  Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.
16  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
17  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
18  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
4:1  Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
2  Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
3  And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
4  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
5  For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.

The  Eyes  of  Jesus

See how they penetrate!
        I dare not stare!
So full of compassion,
        Of mercy, love and care.
They see my faults and failures
        And yet they look beyond,
Beyond to what I could become,
His Eyes!   The Eyes of Jesus!

See how He knows
        My past and all my secrets,
My thoughts, my innermost desires.
        He knows my every private plan,
All my ambitions, and yet He draws
        My eyes to His,
To His to see His love.

Those Eyes!   Those Eyes!
        The Eyes of Jesus!
I can’t bear it!
        All that love,
The love of God.
        And yet He beckons me
To raise my head,
        To meet Him full aface,
And look for all eternity into. . .
        Those Eyes, those Eyes. . . .
The Eyes of Jesus!

                                                                        Lynn Ashman






        At my local pastors’ prayer meeting this past week a pastor friend brought up his church’s need for healing from the damage a disgruntled church member caused over five years ago. I am amazed at the lack of empathy and conscience disgruntled people exhibit when they feel they have suffered an injustice at the hands of a pastor or church. Two verbs that accurately describe their actions are “rip and tear.” They will irresponsibly rip and tear at the delicate fabric of a congregation’s membership in attempt to get even with the real or imagined injustice.

        My pastor friend wanted to initiate some type of peacemaking in this person’s direction. I asked him if the individual involved showed any signs of remorse or overtures toward reconciliation. The answer was “no.” “Then,” I replied, “It is best to let sleeping dogs lie.” “How can you make peace with someone who still has a war going on in their heart?”


        My friend, Jim Mashburn, offers this illustration. You have just put a brand new carpet into your living room. It is expensive and it is beautiful. An acquaintance comes at your invitation into your living room. You assume he knows to either take off his shoes or wipe his oily, muddy feet. The person takes no consideration and tracks oily mud all over your new carpet with no apparent sense of responsibility our awareness of what has been done.

        You are heartbroken. You spend the next three days on your hands and knees meticulously cleaning the stained carpet. It isn’t the same, but it is passable.

        A week later, the acquaintance rings the doorbell again and wants to come in. The question is “Do I forgive the offense and ask the person in to repeat the behavior again?” “What should I do?” The correct answer to this dilemma is obvious. Tell the person they may enter again, but FIRST take off their muddy shoes!


        I thought the pastors’ prayer meeting urge toward reconciliation was an individual thing. However, the Lord revealed to me that He is doing something in the area of reconciliation in our region. I refer to the phenomena as “The sweeping Hand of God.” It is as though God sweeps His Hand across a region and speaks to many hearts on the same subject at the same time. My long time ministry-friend, Alan Langstaff refers to this unusual manifestation of God’s Presence as “the Stream of God’s Spirit.” Finding and getting into that stream is crucial for God’s leaders.


        Bob and Marta Nagle were with us when we started the Sheepfold back in 1991. They decided to start their own house church in 1995. They left us and we parted company. Eleven years we have been apart. Thursday, I was approached by Marta and for the first time I heard the possibility for reconciliation and peace between us. Are these two recent events a coincidence? I don’t think so.

The flow of God’s spirit through reconciliation and peacemaking is like that. There is a difference, however, between the two. This sermon explores that difference.


Pastor Phil   <><<

September 3, 2006

Sheepfold Ministries / Pastor Phil Roland



2 Corinthians 5:20

“We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

“People often confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. There is a difference; one starts in the human heart the other in the heart of God. ”                                       Pastor Phil

RECONCILLED = Greek: KA-TAL-LAS-SO = “To Change Mutually.”

“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:10


          A. Forgive all injustice from the heart – Matt. 5:44,45

            "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your

enemy.' "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do

good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and

persecute you, "that you may be sons (and daughters) of your Father in heaven;”

  1. Start from your own heart, and pray for those who hurt you
  2. Release them to God
  3. Forgiveness calls for the help of God to do the impossible

B. Forgiveness is a Process that begins with Obedience

                        1. You may need to forgive yourself.

                        2. You may need to forgive another an injustice.

                        3. You may need to forgive God.


  1. Reconciliation Involves Two Parties

"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother

has anything against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.

First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. "Agree with

your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary

deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be

thrown into prison.”  Matthew 5:23

  1. Reconciliation between two parties calls for both to seek God
  2. Inhibitors to Peace with God: Stubbornness; Pride; Rebellion;Arrogance; Envy
  1. We must confess our (own) sins, first – 1 John 1:9

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to

cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


  1. Unregenerate Mind has to change
  2. Unrepentant Mind has to change



Closing Illustration:

The Rabbi’s Gift

        A certain monastery had fallen into hard times. Once a great order, as a result of antimonastic persecution in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the rise of secularism in the nineteenth, all its branch houses were lost and it had become decimated to the extent that there were only five monks left in the decaying mother house: the abbot and four others, all over seventy in age. Clearly it was a dying order.

        In the deeper woods surrounding the monastery there was a little hut that a rabbi from a nearby town occasionally used for a hermitage. Through their many years of prayer and contemplation the old monks had become a bit psychic, so they could always sense when the rabbi was in the hermitage. “The rabbi is in the woods, the rabbit is in the woods again,” they would whisper to each other. As he agonized over the imminent death of his order, it occurred to the abbot as one such time to visit the hermitage and ask the rabbi if by some possible chance he could offer some advice that might save the monastery.

        The rabbi welcomed the abbot at his hut, but when the abbot explained the purpose for his visit, the rabbi could only commiserate with him. “I know how it is,” he explained, “the spirit has gone out of the people. It is the same way in my town. Almost no one comes to the synagogue anymore.” So the abbot and the old rabbi wept together. Then they read parts of the Torah and spoke of deep things. The time came when the abbot had to leave. They embraced each other. “It has been a wonderful thing that we should meet after all these years,” the abbot said. “But I still have failed in my purpose for coming here. Is there nothing you can tell me, no piece of advice you can give me that would help me save my dying order?”

         “No, I am sorry,” the rabbi responded. “I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you.”

        When the abbot returned to the monastery his fellow monks gathered around him to ask, “Well, what did the Rabbi say?” “He couldn’t help,” the abbot answered. “We just wept

and read the Torah together. The only thing he did say, just as I was leaving---it was something cryptic---was that the Messiah is one of us. I don’t know what he meant.”

        In the days and weeks and months that followed, the old monks pondered this and wondered whether there was any possible significance to the rabbi’s words. The Messiah is one of us? Could he possibly have meant one of us monks here at the monastery? If that’s the case, which one? Do you suppose he meant the abbot? Yes, if he meant anyone, he probably meant Father Abbot. He has been our leader for more than a generation. On the other hand, he might have meant Brother Thomas. Certainly Brother Thomas is a holy man. Everyone knows Thomas is a man of light. Certainly he could not have meant Brother Elred! Elred gets crotchety at times. But come to think of it, he’s a thorn in people’s sides. When you look back on it, Elred is virtually always right! Maybe the rabbi did mean Brother Elred. But surely not Brother Phillip! Phillip is so passive, a real nobody. But then, almost mysteriously, he has a gift for somehow always being there when you need him. He just magically appears by your side. Maybe Phillip is the messiah. Of course the rabbi didn’t mean me. He couldn’t possibly have meant me. I’m just an ordinary person. Yet supposing he did? Suppose I am the messiah? Oh God, not me! I couldn’t be that much for You, could I?

        As they contemplated in this manner, the old monks began to treat each other with extraordinary respect on the off chance that one among them might be the Messiah. And on the off off chance that that each monk himself might be the Messiah, they began to treat themselves with extraordinary respect.

        Because the forest in which it was situated was beautiful, it so happened the people still occasionally came to visit the monastery to picnic on its tiny lawn, to wander along some of its paths, and now and then to go into the dilapidated chapel to meditate. As they did so, without being conscious of it, they sensed this aura of extraordinary respect that now began to surround the old monks and seemed to radiate out from the place. There was something strangely attractive, even

compelling about it. Hardly knowing why, they began to come back to the monastery more frequently to picnic, to play, to pray. They began to bring their friends to show them this special place. And their friends brought friends.

        Then it happened that some of the younger men who came to the monastery started to talk more and more with the old monks. After a while one asked if he could join them, then another, and another. So within a few years the monastery had once again become a thriving order and, thanks to the Rabbi’s Gift, a vibrant center of light and spirituality in the realm.


Pastor Phil   <><<


P.S. After this service an older teen asked if she could teach our Sheepfold kids Bible lessons on Sunday morning. My wife and I had been praying about this for some time, and had told no one. I guess the Lord heard the concern of our hearts and spoke to one willing and submitted young person who heard and obeyed.





Pressure Cooker Living (sermon)

Various Texts

“And beside those things that are without; there is the daily (inescapable pressure) of my care and anxiety for all the churches.”  2 Cor. 11:28  (Amplified)


Marital Pressure - 1 Cor. 7:29-35

Suffering and Testing - 1 Peter 4:1; 12-19

Caring For Others - 2 Corinthians 11:28

Our response:

Paul’s Admonition: Put On - Stand Firm - Pray - Ephesians 6:13-18            

Paul’s Exhortation - We are not crushed, despairing, abandoned, destroyed - 2 Cor. 4:8,9

Perplexed - GREEK ROOT - mirizw - MIR-IDZ-O - To separate into different parts - To cut into pieces - To be pulled into different directions


1. Matthew 13:18-23 - Worldly cares and concerns choke the Holy Spirit’s operation

2. Matthew 6:25-34 - Worry about tomorrow                              


1. 2 Cor. 11:28 - Paul’s Deep Concern for his churches

2. 2 Cor. 12:25 - Paul’s Fears about Divisions in Christ’s Body


A. Luke 12:50 - Pressure from the Baptism of Fire

     See also 1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Cor. 11:23-28

B. 1 Cor. 9:27 - Pressure from possibilities of personal failures

          See also Acts 4:20; Jeremiah 20:9

      C. John 9:4 - Time Pressures

Where are my “Ministry Pressure” stress points?













Pressure Cooker Living, TEXT:

1 Corinthians 7:29-35

 29What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep;

31those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

32I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man   is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please         the Lord.

33But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—

34and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.

35I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.


1 Peter 4:1; 12-19

1Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.

12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.

13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

 4If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are
          blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God;
          and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

18And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

19So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.


2 Corinthians 11:28

 I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently,     been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.

24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus       one.

25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three   times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the    open sea,

26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger
          from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my      own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the   city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in    danger from false brothers.

27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I         have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.


Ephesians 6:13

13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your    waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and        with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the   gospel of peace.

16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which   you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,        which is the word of God.

18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.


 2 Corinthians 4:8,9

 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;         perplexed, but not in despair;

9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not        destroyed.

10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so      that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

MATTHEW 13:18-23

18“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the

20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns
is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful

23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces
a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Matthew 6:25-34

 5“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not
much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow
will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own

2 Cor. 11:28

28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

1 Cor. 12:24b,25,26

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it,

25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.