Index

Thursday

Visual Illustrations in Christianity

INTRODUCTION

Every illustration in "Visual Illustrations" is designed to be
highly attention getting and easy to obtain and prepare. Each
illustration has been used successfully in various types of worship services with very good results.
There are many strengths in using visual illustrations. One is
that they help communicate very abstract ideas that are hard to
understand. Another is that they get and hold attention. They help people to remember, by association, the teaching points they
illustrate. Yet another strength is that they help children and
youth to be more interested in what you are teaching them.
"Visual Illustrations" is a book that can be used by pastors,
teachers, youth, and older children workers, camp workers, parents teaching their children in the home, and etc.
The temptation may be to see this book as just another
collection of children's sermons. The value of this book is that it can aid in teaching adults as well as children and youth. You can use this book to find introductions and illustrations for sermons and Bible studies, devotional talks, youth sermons, and children's sermons. No matter who your audience is or how you use these illustrations, one thing is very important, you must rehearse and practice them before you use them in public. They do take a little work, but the results are worth it!
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GOD'S POWER

This is an illustration that will get many comments. You
will need a match stick or a book match, a nickel, a small pinch of modeling clay, and a plastic rod (such as a plastic magic wand) or comb. I prefer to use a plastic magic wand and do this as a magic trick. You can purchase a plastic wand at a novelty shop, magic store, or many toy stores. This illustration works on the principle of static electricity.
To set up, place the magic wand under your arm while wearing a
coat or sweater. The wand needs to be touching cloth. The bulk of
the wand needs to be sticking out back. Use the piece of modeling
clay to stand the nickel on its edge. Balance the match stick on the edge of the nickel so that it lays like a compass needle and will easily move.
At the appropriate time you will slide the plastic rod, or wand,
straight forward and out from under your arm. As you do, bear down on the rod with your arm so that as you pull it out it receives a static electric charge. Be careful, if the cloth is damp, it will not charge the rod with the necessary electricity.
Another effective way to secretly charge the plastic rod is to
have it wrapped in a cloth inside a box or bag. Hold the cloth
tightly around the wand with one hand and draw the wand out with your other hand. If you choose this option and if you wish to do this illustration as a magic trick, be careful that your group does not see the cloth.
If you prefer just to tell your group that you are going to use
static electricity to move the match, you could use a plastic hair comb. Run the comb through clean dry hair a couple of times and it will receive a charge. This will give the comb the same type of static electric charge.
Once you have charged the plastic device, slowly move it a
couple of inches over the top of the match. The match will move and fall off the nickel. If the match does not move, try rubbing the wand with different fabrics. Some fabrics work better than others in giving an electric charge.
::




TRUTH ILLUSTRATED:
We can see God's reality in the powerful mighty works He
performs.
MESSAGE:
[Begin by setting up the match and nickle as described above.]
I am going to move this match without touching it, blowing on it, or hitting the table. I am going to move it using an invisible force. [Use your electrically charged device to move the match.]
Did you see the force that moved the match? No, because it was
a force not visible to the human eye. But, obviously there was some invisible force that caused the match to move off the nickel. We know there is a force because we see its effects.
That's kind of the way it is with God. We can't see God with
our eyes, but we see the evidence of His existence and power by the results. In Romans 1:20 the Apostle Paul points out that since the creation of the world, God's invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature, has been clearly seen through what He has made. We see His powerful works of creation all about us. We see how people's lives change when God's spirit comes to live in their hearts. We can't see the invisible force that moved the match, but we can see that there is a force. In the same way, we see the evidence of God's existence by all the beautiful results of His powerful hand.
::




SERMON IN A SOAP BUBBLE

One of my favorite visual illustrations involves soap bubbles.
To get people's attention start off by not saying a word. Open a
bottle of bubble maker and blow some bubbles. It will get some
chuckles and, believe me, you will have everyone's attention.
TRUTH ILLUSTRATED:
Every person is a priceless, unique creation of God put here for
His purposes.
MESSAGE:
Have you ever noticed that people have some things in common
with soap bubbles? In Genesis 2:7 it says that God breathed into man and he became a living soul. Just as these soap bubbles are
dependent upon me, and my act of breathing them into existence, we are all the result of God's deliberate work of creation. It was His love that moved Him to create us and breathe life into us. Some people feel that they are a mistake, that they never should have been born. Remember this, a perfect God never makes mistakes. If you were not supposed to be here, God wouldn't have created you. You are a beloved creation of a good God.
[Blow a few more bubbles and watch them for a moment.] There is
another thing people have in common with soap bubbles. At first they seem to all look the same. They do have many similarities, but if you look closely you will notice how every bubble is unique. Some are large, some are small, they each have different patterns of color swirling around them. Sometimes we make the mistake of seeing our differences as weaknesses or flaws. Some people feel like they aren't as good as everyone else because they are not like someone they admire. The truth of the matter is that God has made each one
of us beautifully different and unique for His special purposes.
You are His handiwork. Take joy in the thought that you are an
original masterpiece crafted for some special purpose that God has for you.
[Blow a few more bubbles.] People have at least one other thing
in common with soap bubbles. Notice how brief a time they last.
They appear, float along for a few moments, and then they are gone. Our time on earth is brief also. The Bible tells us in James 4:14
that man's life is like a vapor or puff of steam rolling off boiling water. It appears, and is gone. We haven't much time to fulfill the purposes for which God created us. It is important that we accept what we are: each one of us is a loving act of creation. It is important that we accept who we are: each one of us is a unique individual designed for God's special purposes. Once we settle these things in our own minds we can be about our Father's business.
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STIR UP THAT GIFT

Here is an illustration that will create a lot of excitement.
All you need is a small bottle of plain club soda and a dish tub.
TRUTH ILLUSTRATED:
The power for good in the lives of God's children must be
stirred up through Bible study, prayer, worship, and obedient
service.
MESSAGE:
A fun thing to do with carbonated drinks, is to shake them up,
and watch them fizz! I have got a bottle of carbonated water right here. I use carbonated water because if any of it gets on you, it's not sticky like sweet soda pop.
There is a lot of power resting in a bottle of soda like this.
If you just let it sit, and do nothing to it, it's not very exciting, nothing happens. However, if I were to shake it up . . . [Hold your thumb over the opening and shake the soda while you talk. If your audience is children or youth, let some water spray over them. This will crete a lot of excitement, and the kids love it! If this is not appropriate for your audience then have a dish tub to catch the water as it foams over the top of the bottle.] There is so much power being released that I can't hold it anymore! Look at all that activity and action! That's exciting! Something's happening, where before it was just boring.
I want you to consider that this is how it is with Christian
people. The Apostle Paul, in II Timothy 1:6, tells Timothy, " . . .
stir up the gift of God, which is in you . . . " Each believer has the gift of God's spirit within him. There is a tremendous power for good in every child of God. But like this soda, we have to stir up the gift within us, to release that power. We can do this by praying, studying the Bible, and obeying what God tells us to do. If we don't, our Christian lives will be like this soda, sitting here full of power but not very exciting. [Start shaking the soda again.]
But if we worship and praise God, pray, study the Bible, and obey
God's word to us, things will start happening. Power will be
released, and you will discover the exciting joy of serving and
walking in a power filled Christian faith!
::
GOOD OUT OF BAD

This illustration is just one example of what you can do with
what I am going to show you. With a little imagination you can come up with several different ways to use the materials in this lesson to make exciting visual aids for your teaching ministry.
There are basically two ways you can get the phenolphthalien
solution you need for this lesson. The first way is to go to your
local drug store and purchase over the counter laxative pills that have as their active ingredient phenolphthalien (some say yellow phenolphthalien). Crush up and dissolve two 90 mg. pills (or equivalent) in 2 ounces of rubbing alcohol. The other way to get phenolphthalien solution is to purchase it from a business that sells laboratory supplies.
To prepare the rest of what you need, mix 2 1/2 teaspoons of
iodine in 1/4 cup of water. Fill a spray bottle with half water and half clear household ammonia. Use a 1/2 inch paint brush (water- color paint brush is best) to paint the word GOOD in large capital letters with your phenolphthalien solution onto a white paper towel. Have another towel underneath the one you are painting. After it dries, the word GOOD will be invisible. Put a clean paper towel behind the one you have prepared and tape or tack the paper towels onto a board.
This is what you are going to do for your presentation. Using
the iodine solution you prepared, you are going to paint the word BAD
with your paint brush over the invisible word GOOD. At the
appropriate time you will spray the paper towel with a fine mist of diluted ammonia. The ammonia will cause the iodine to disappear and the phenolphthalien to appear. In this way you will bring GOOD out of BAD.



TRUTH ILLUSTRATED:
We never need to despair over what happens in life because our
mighty God is at work bringing good out of bad.
MESSAGE:
We live in an imperfect world where bad things are happening all
the time. This thought can cause people to live afraid, stressed,
and apprehensive. But the exciting thing I want to share with you is that we have a God who is so powerful that He can bring good out of bad.
This is one of the things we can learn from our Lord's death and
resurrection. As I explain what I mean by this, I want to show you a
little demonstration to help you remember this beautiful truth. [As
you talk about the bad things that happened to Jesus, paint the word
BAD as described above.] Jesus was betrayed by a friend named Judas.
He was arrested and accused of crimes that He did not commit. He
was mocked, humiliated, and tortured by men who liked to hurt people
just for the fun of it. Then He was slowly killed on the cross, all
because the Jewish leaders were jealous and afraid of Him. Pilot,
the Roman governor, ordered the crucifixion because he didn't want to have trouble with the people. The cross event happened because of man's sin.
The people who loved Jesus were heart broken. All they could
see was the bad that was happening. They were feeling like we feel
when terrible things happen to us. They were afraid, hurt, confused,
and angry. Their lives were in turmoil. Then, something wonderful
happened. Our powerful, sovereign God took what could have been the
most terrible thing to ever happen and made it the most glorious
thing that ever happened. He caused Jesus to rise from the grave!
Because of the resurrection, God turned all the pain and sorrow into
joy. By the power of God, the horror of the cross became the
beautiful hope of humanity. It is the means by which we can be
saved.
Our God is still a god of resurrection. [As you say this next
sentence, use your spray bottle to "bring GOOD out of BAD."] He can
take any bad situation and bring good out of it. The Psalmist says
in Psalms 30:5, " . . . Weeping may last for the night, but joy
comes in the morning." So the next time you struggle with bad
situations that come into your life, take comfort in the knowledge
that God is at work. He is at work making even the bad that people
do, somehow, work out for the good of all who follow Him.
::




TREASURES IN HEAVEN

Here is an illustration that is so powerful that it might elicit
a gasp from your listeners. You will need to find a store that sells magician supplies and equipment, and purchase some flash paper. You will need to use a piece approximately 2 by 3 inches. Next, cut a piece of white 20 lb. paper the same size as the piece of flash paper. Soak the piece of 20 lb. paper in a strong solution of alum and water for half an hour; then let dry. Repeat this process one more time and you will have made the paper fire resistant. It is a
good idea to prepare an extra set of these special papers so that you have one set to practice with. You will also need a candle and a black felt tip marking pen.
This is how the lesson goes and what you need to practice. At
the appropriate time during the lesson, use a felt tip pen to write SELF on the piece of flash paper. Write OTHERS on the piece of fire resistant paper.
Touch the flash paper to a candle flame. The flash paper is
highly flammable and will burn very quickly and brightly. As the
flame nears your fingers, give the last bit of paper a slight toss into the air and the paper will completely vanish.
Next, practice passing the alum treated paper slowly through the
candle flame. You don't want this paper to burn, so get an idea of how slowly you can pass it through the flame without it catching
fire.
TRUTH ILLUSTRATED:
Living a selfish life will leave a person bankrupt for eternity.
Living a life dedicated to serving God and others will make us rich forever.
MESSAGE:
A common philosophy of life that many people follow, says, "You
only live once, so grab all you can of what this world has to offer."The problem with this approach to life is that if we spend our days trying to obtain what this world has to offer, we end up bankrupt for eternity. Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-20, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."
Nothing that we save up for ourselves in this life is safe or
permanent. There are no guarantees that we will ever be satisfied
with what we have. The one thing that we can count on is that
whatever we do manage to get and hold onto will be left behind when we leave this life.
The wise thing for us to do is to spend our lives storing up
treasure in heaven. Whatever we have in heaven we will be able to
keep and enjoy for ever and ever. The way we store up things in
heaven is by using what we have now to serve God and help people.
The Bible tells us in I Corinthians 3:13-15 that there will come a day when our work will be tested by fire. It says that if our
work remains we will receive a reward.
Let's say that these two pieces of paper are two people's lives.
As we begin our life it is like receiving a blank sheet of paper; we can write anything we want on it. [Hold up the flash paper.] This person has chosen to live his whole life for himself. Whatever he has done has always been with an eye toward how it could get him more of what he wants in this life. I am going to write SELF on his "life."
[Hold up the alum treated paper.] This person has chosen to
give his life to serving God. He sees all his talents, abilities,
possessions, money, and all that he has as tools available to him to help people. Please don't misunderstand, he has fun too. He takes care of himself and enjoys the good things of life, but he considers how his actions will effect others as well as himself. I am going to write OTHERS on his "life."
First we will let the fire test the life lived for self. I am
going to pass this "life" through the flame and see if anything
remains. [Pass the flash paper through the flame of a candle as
described above.] WOW! Where did it go? There's nothing left, not
even ashes. Remember what it says in I Corinthians 3:15, if a
person's work is burned up, he will suffer loss.
Now we will let the fire test the "life" lived for others.
[Pass the alum treated paper through the candle flame as you
practiced.] Look at that. The fire didn't destroy it! Don't
forget, the Bible says in I Corinthians 3:14 that if a person's work remains, he will receive a reward.
The choice is ours. We can foolishly live for today in a flash
of pleasure that lasts for a moment, but leaves us bankrupt for
eternity. However, the wise choice is to live with an eye toward the future realizing that anything we do to the glory of God is treasure to be enjoyed forever.
::
THE OLD RUGGED CROSS

One thing that I like about this illustration is that you can
use it like a conversation piece. Let it lie around on your desk or a shelf where people visiting you can easily see it. The
conversation that it provokes is one that can easily be centered on the cross of Christ and its significance to people. In other words, it can be used as a witnessing tool.
The materials you will need are very simple and inexpensive.
Following the dimensions given in the illustration, cut out a cross of corrugated cardboard. [Press F3 to see the illustration.] Remove about one inch of the corrugation in the center of the cardboard at the very foot of the cross. Take a one ounce lead fishing sinker and flatten it with a hammer. It needs to fit into the space that was created when you removed the corrugation. [Press F3 to see the illustration.] When hammering the lead sinker, be sure and use proper eye protection.
Trim and shape the lead and/or remove more corrugation so that
you can hide the lead in the foot of the cardboard cross. When the weight is ready, glue it in place with rubber cement. This will shift the center of gravity of the cross. When you balance it on the edge of a glass tumbler or off the edge of a table, the bulk of the cross will stick out into space. It is a real eye catcher.
TRUTH ILLUSTRATED:
The cross is special to God's people because Jesus gave His life
on it. His death on the cross makes it possible for us to find
forgiveness and salvation.
MESSAGE:
[Hold up your cardboard cross.] This cross, cut out of old
cardboard, doesn't look very interesting. It's plain, drab, and
rugged. But there is something special about it. Watch what it can
do. [At this point balance the cross off the edge of a tumbler or
some such pedestal.]
Now that is unique, isn't it? This old rugged cardboard cross
has something that makes it an interesting curiosity. The thing
that gives this cross its unusual qualities is a one ounce lead
weight hidden in the foot. The weight has shifted the center of
gravity and has made something special out of something crude and
ordinary.
There is another cross that was rugged, drab, and unimpressive.
It was an old wooden cross. The cross that Jesus died on. Jesus is
the Son of God and He gave uniqueness to the cross. I think we could
say that He gave "weight" to the cross. Before Jesus died on the
cross it was just two pieces of wood used to execute common criminals
and slaves. After Jesus died on it and after He victoriously arose
from the grave, it became something truly special.
The cross has become the symbol of our Christian faith. When we
look at the cross in light of Christ's sacrifice we see the depth of
God's love for us. The Apostle Paul, in Romans 8:32, put it this
way, "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us
all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (KJV)
This little cardboard cross is a curiosity made special by a
lead weight. The cross of Christ is a wonderful mystery made special
by the weight of our God's love. This love is so pure and complete
that He would not even spare His own Son so that we might find
forgiveness of our sins. With forgiveness, we have peace with our
God.
::
VICTOR OF CIRCUMSTANCES

For this exciting illustration you will need a candle and two
good quality round balloons. Fill one balloon with water; leave the
other deflated until you give the message.
TRUTH ILLUSTRATED:
Problems come to everyone. Those without God in their lives
will be at the mercy of their circumstances. Those with God in their
lives will triumph over their circumstances.
MESSAGE:
[Begin by lighting the candle, and then blow up the deflated
balloon. Keep the water balloon hidden until you need it.] There
are things that come into a person's life that are very painful.
There are circumstances and situations that, like this flame, can
hurt and even destroy us. Take for instance this balloon. Let's say
it represents a person's life. If we bring this balloon into the
fire it is destroyed. [Touch the balloon to the flame, and it will
pop. This will get everyone's attention, and children love it!]
Many people, when their lives come into contact with fiery trials and
hardships, can often be destroyed "under the circumstances." [You
may give examples of circumstances that plague people today, and
elaborate in this way if you wish.]
[Take out the water balloon.] When I put the balloon into the
fire, it popped. What if I put a water balloon into the fire? [This
will really get attention, and kids will be "all eyes" and so will
the adults.] There is a scientific principle that will allow me to
put the water balloon into the flame without it bursting. The water
dissipates the heat so that the balloon will not pop. [Hang the
water balloon over the candle flame, while holding the stem of the
balloon, for about ten seconds. Experiment with this before doing it
in public. You will want to make sure your balloons perform as you
expect.]
How about that? It didn't break. Jesus said, in John 7:37-38,
that if we come to Him, He will give us living water. Romans 8:28
tells us that when Christ is our Lord and Savior, that all things
work to the good. The water inside the balloon is protecting it.
We too, if we have the living water of Jesus in our lives, will be
victorious over the circumstances of life that seek to destroy us.
::
PROVE ALL THINGS

For this fun and exciting lesson you will need a quart jar with
a lid that has a slightly raised rim around its top. You also need
a dish tub or something to catch water. Fill the jar about
two-thirds full of water. Practice putting the lid upside down on
the jar; hold it firmly in place with your index finger in the middle
of the lid and then turn the jar upside down. Once you have the jar
upside down, gently let go of the lid. The lid will stay in place
keeping the water in the jar.
If the lid slides, and lets the water out, try a different jar
and lid. You must find one with enough of an extension around the
rim of the lid to keep it from sliding and thus hold the water in the
jar. I have found the Weight Watchers reduced calorie mayonnaise jar
and lid to work best for me.
Be sure and practice before you do this lesson. Be sure to have
a tub of some type under the jar to catch any water that might leak
out while turning the jar over.
::
TRUTH ILLUSTRATED:
Failure to check what you believe and what you are taught, with
God's word, could have eternal consequences.
MESSAGE:
[Take out the jar of water with the lid off.] This is a jar of
water. Let me ask you a silly question. Which way does the lid go?
[Put the lid on upside down.] Does the lid go on this way? [Put it
right side up.] It goes this way, doesn't it?
If I were to put the lid on upside down and then turn the jar
upside down, what would happen? Do you think all of the water would
spill out? [The people will nod in the affirmative.]
Have you ever tried it? Well let's see what will happen if we
do. [Hold your water jar over a dish tub and execute the procedure
you practiced, as described above.] How about that? The lid is
holding the water in the jar, though it has no visible means of
support. It works because the air pressure pushing up on the lid is
greater than the pressure pushing down on the lid. The air is
actually holding the lid in place.
When I asked you what would happen if I put the lid on upside
down and turned the jar over, you thought that all the water would
spill out. You believed that, although you had never tried it.
Here is an important lesson for us. There are many ideas we
have about ourselves, God, life, and people, which we accept as true
simply because it seems true. There are many ideas we accept
as true because someone we trust said so. But as we have seen, with
this illustration, there are obviously some things that we think to
be true, which are not. If we were to examine carefully what we
think and believe, we might find many things we thought were true, to
be in error.
One example of a serious error many people make is to believe
that because God is love that He will just let everyone into heaven.
Because of their belief they give little or no thought to the way
they live or what God wants for them. This is a belief we can't test
by trying it out. We have to go to God's word to see if it is
correct. In Matthew 25, Jesus is clear that when He returns
everybody who has ever lived will stand before Him and be placed in
one of two groups. He tells us in verse 46 that those who had a
right relationship with God will enter eternal life with Him. Those
who did not, will enter eternal punishment.
It is a very dangerous thing to rely on what seems right to us.
It also can be very dangerous just to believe what we are told
without questioning it. There are false teachers and even well-
meaning people who are mistaken, telling us things that are not true.
I Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to examine everything carefully.
We must be careful to examine what we think, what we are taught, and
what we believe, against the truth of God. As we turn to God in
Christ we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free!
::
SEASONED WITH SALT

This illustration is always fun to do because it involves food
and audience participation. To set up, place a bowl of unsalted
potato chips labeled BRAND A and a bowl of salted potato chips
labeled BRAND B on a table.
TRUTH ILLUSTRATED:
As representatives of God and His kingdom, it is important that
Christians strive to relate to those who are outside the faith in
such a way as to attract, not repel.
MESSAGE:
As you can see, there are two bowls of potato chips on this
table. What I want to do is have a taste test to see which brand is
more flavorful. Would someone please volunteer to come up and taste
these two brands? [You can have people of each age group come
forward and sample the chips. It is important to make sure that your
volunteers try the unsalted chips first. If they try the salted
chips first, they will have a hard time telling any difference
between the two. As they taste the chips, caution your samplers not
to say anything about the chips; just have them point to the brand
that has more flavor.]
It looks like BRAND B is the winner. Does anyone, who didn't
get to try the potato chips, want to guess what the difference is?
The difference is salt. BRAND B is salted and BRAND A is plain with
no salt added.
Most people would agree that food seasoned with salt tastes
better. The apostle Paul used this ability of salt, to add flavor to
food, as an illustration. He used it to illustrate how God's people
should deal with and relate to those who are outside our Christian
faith. In Colossians 4:5-6 Paul says, "Conduct yourselves with
wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let
your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so
that you may know how you should respond to each person." (NAS)
It could be said that every believer is an ambassador
representing God's kingdom. As His representatives we are to
communicate God's love and grace to those who do not know Him. When
we talk to people who have not given their lives to our Savior we
should never give the impression that we think we are better than
non-Christians. We should not be argumentative or critically
judgmental. Plus, we do not want to give people the false idea that
the Christian life is a bland boring life that is humorless,
uninteresting, and dull.
Paul's instruction to us is that when we talk with people who do
not share our faith, we are to communicate in a way that makes people
feel good about Christianity. We do not want to act in such a way
as to "turn people off." It is also appropriate to use wit and
charm. Be pleasant. Be polite. Be funny. But don't make the
mistake of thinking that this lesson is saying that we should
compromise our beliefs. I am not saying that we should approve of
everything that people do or say.
Think about the potato chip taste test. When you talk with
people outside our faith, strive to be salty, not bland. Be
respectful, kind, and friendly. Be witty and charming, and always be
yourself in Christ, reflecting His spirit.
::
HE WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN

This baffling illustration will have people scratching their
heads. You will need two lengths of flexible, white rope each 3 feet
long and a lady's solid ring bracelet. Use a permanent black felt
tip marking pen to cover one of the lengths of rope with black
streaks. If you have problems with the rope fraying at the ends, dip
the ends into some white all purpose glue, and let dry.
When you have everything ready, this is what you are going to
practice. String the white rope through the ring and then hold the
ends of the rope, one in each hand. Bring your hands together and
cross the end in your right hand on the side of the end in your left
hand that is nearest you as shown in illustration A. [Press F3 to
see the illustrations.] Hold the rope at the point where the ends
cross with your left-hand thumb and index finger. With your right
palm facing up and your fingers pointing away from you, take hold of
the ring on the side nearest you. Bring it up to the place where the
rope ends cross as shown in illustration B. [Press F3 to see the
illustrations.] If you did the motion of bringing the ring up
correctly, your palm and fingers will be pointing away from you. Now
take hold of the rope end crossed on the side farthest from you with
your right hand and the other end in your left hand. Pull them
apart so the rope is stretched out in front of you. The ring will be
caught and held by the rope.
Next, take the black rope and string it through the ring and
cross the ends just as you did before. Here is where you are going
to do something different. As you bring the ring up to rest on the
place where the rope ends cross, turn your hand so that the side of
the ring that was nearest you will be the side farthest from you as
it rests on the crossed ends. If you did this step correctly, your
palm and fingers will be pointing toward you. [Practice this move
until you can do it smoothly and naturally in one fluid motion. The
people will not notice that you did anything different.] Take hold
of the rope ends and pull them apart just as you did before; the ring
will appear to have passed through the rope, and fall to the floor.
TRUTH ILLUSTRATED:
Those who trust sinful ways to make life safer and better, will
be terribly disappointed. God, however, promises abundant life to
all who follow Him, and He never lets us down.
MESSAGE
There are basically two spiritual forces in the universe that
contend for our loyalty and devotion. One force is the force of
evil, the way of the devil. The other force is the force of good,
the way of God. Jesus promises in John 10:9-10 that if we put our
trust in Him and live for Him that we will have an abundant life.
The devil promises, through temptation, that his methods are the best
way to make it through life.
We have to chose whom we are going to trust. Proverbs 29:25b
says, " . . . whoever puts his trust in the Lord will be safe."
God will never let you down; the same, however, cannot be said of the
devil.
[Take out your white rope and ring, but keep the black rope
hidden.] This white rope represents the trustworthiness of our
righteous God. This solid ring represents a person. Watch as I
thread this rope through the ring, and cross the ends, with the end
in my right hand crossed on the side nearest me. Now I am going to
bring the ring up to rest on the crossed ends. When I pull the ends
apart and stretch the rope out, what happens? The rope keeps the
ring from falling. This is a picture of what is said in Psalms
37:1b, " . . . the Lord upholdeth the righteous."
Living a life devoted to honoring God and living by His rules is
difficult at times. For example, it can seem hard to tithe when we
could spend the money on ourselves. It can be hard to be honest when
lying and cheating make it easy to get what we want. Saying no when
everyone else is saying yes is especially difficult for young people.
Loving people who hurt us seems impossible when all we want to do is
make them feel as bad as we do.
[I like to use a little theatrics when I do this next part. It
adds to the power of the message.] I have another rope that is kind
of repulsive. I don't even like to touch it. [Reach in and pick up
the rope with your thumb and index finger like it is something
disgusting that you really don't want to touch. When you look at
it, you can shudder and grimace.] This rope represents evil,
wickedness, the devil.
What will happen if a person puts his trust in the ways of the
devil and decides to use sinful methods to deal with things? Let me
show you. Notice that I am stringing the rope through the ring. I
am crossing the ends the same as before, with the end of the rope in
my right hand crossed on the side nearest me. I bring the ring up to
sit where the ends cross. Now remember, the devil will tempt us to
sin with the promise that we will not be hurt. He will try to get us
to think that we will get more of what we want out of life by taking
the easy, more natural way. He will want you to trust him to never
let you down. Watch what happens to those who do. [Pull the ends
apart and let the ring fall to the floor.]
It says in Proverbs 11:5b that the wicked shall fall by his own
wickedness. The devil is a liar. Even though the temptation to lie
instead of admitting our mistakes seems the better way to go. Even
though going along with the crowd instead of standing up for the
right seems the easier thing to do. Even though being selfish
instead of doing without to help others seems the best thing for us
to do. These are the ways of sin and the devil. These are the ways
that will bring us down to despair.
Don't ever forget, God can be trusted. He wants what is best
for us. Even though doing things His way can be difficult, He is
always with us to help; He will never let you down.

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