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Mel Gibson's powerful new movie has grossed over $240 Million dollars, on target to be one of the top three movies of all time. No preacher should miss addressing this important film. The new Lenten Series from eSermons.com "The Passion of the Christ" follows the movie's themes complementing the current events and topics that will be in the press these next two months. Here is the series:

     THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST

     Lent 1: His Triumphal Entry

     Lent 2: His Clearing of the Temple

     Lent 3: His Teachings

     Lent 4: His Last Supper & Betrayal

     Lent 5: His Trial

     Lent 6: His Death

     Easter: His Resurrection

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Sermon for Lent 4:

             Luke 15:1-3, 11-32  -  Dealing With The Pain of Rejection
                              
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There is no pain in the world quite like it: the awful pain of feeling rejected. It hurts! It crushes the spirit and breaks the heart. Let me show you what I mean with a true story.

Pastor James Moore tells a story about a girl named Jessica. She was a tall, slender, sixteen-year-old blonde girl, who looked like she might grow up to be a model or president of the P.T.A., or a corporate executive. She was attractive, outgoing, personable, radiant, and happy. She was an only child and her parents were devoted to her and so proud of her. A member of his church she did a youth "speak-out" in an evening worship service. Her words were inspired and thoughtful from the pulpit that night. She was so wholesome, so clean-cut, so full of life.

But, the next morning, an urgent ringing of the telephone. It was Jessica’s mother alarmed, concerned, frightened saying that Jessica had been taken to the emergency room during the night and had been admitted into the hospital as a patient. When Moore got there and walked into that hospital room, it was a stark, gloomy situation. The drapes were closed, the room was dark, heavy despair was in the air we breathed. There was Jessica only hours before happy, radiant, full of life but now, lying there in a hospital bed, weak, pale, listless, almost the picture of death. She was emotionally drained, completely wrung out, so much so that she literally did not have the strength to lift her arms, she could not walk, she could hardly hold up her head. They talked for a moment, prayed together and then he left the room. Jessica’s mother came out into the hallway. Her mother said, "After we got home from church last night, Jessica had a phone call. Just as she hung up the receiver she fainted and when we revived her, she was physically unable to walk… she was so weak. We called an ambulance and brought her here to the hospital." Moore asked, "Do you know of anything that might have caused this?" The mother blinked as tears flooded into her eyes, she looked away and said, "Well, yes, that telephone call last night was to notify Jessica that she had been "black-balled" by the sorority she wanted to join."

Now, here was a young girl, sixteen years old, an only child, who for all of her life had had almost everything she wanted. At that particular moment what she wanted more than anything was to be accepted into that sorority and somebody had rejected her. One person for some unknown reason had "black-balled" her and the trauma of that blatant rejection was too much for her. She couldn’t handle it. She was not faking. The doctors were sure of that. She was just so hurt that it crushed her emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Here we see dramatically the awful pain of feeling rejected. Now I want to leave Jessica in the hospital for just a moment. We are going to get her out later, but right now the point is clear. The pain of feeling rejected can be devastating.

Sometimes we "feel" rejected when we really aren’t being rejected. We only think we are. Have you heard about the man who had to quit going to football games because every time the team went into a huddle he thought they were talking about him! Now, he wasn’t being rejected, but he thought he was. Let me hurry to say though, that even when imagined the pain is just as real!

That’s what happens in Jesus’ parable. Remember how the younger brother runs away to the far country, squanders his money in riotous living, but then ashamed and penitent he returns home. The father is so overjoyed. He had feared the worst that his young son might be dead! But here he is alive and well and home, safe and sound. The father is so happy that he calls for a great celebration. But when the elder brother hears of it. He is hurt, jealous, confused, and angry. He feels sorry for himself, but more than that and worse, he feels that the father has rejected him! Of course, we know better! We know that the father has not rejected him at all. In fact, the parable is misnamed. Instead of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, it should be called the Parable of the Gracious Father! Because, you see, the theme of the parable is not the revelry of the Prodigal, nor is it the bitterness of the elder brother, no; the theme here is the goodness of the father, the faithfulness of God. The message here is that God cares and that He wants both of His sons (all of His children) to come and be a part of the celebration.

But the elder brother missed it. He mistakenly felt rejected and it deflated and crushed him and left him spiritually bankrupt. The feeling of rejection can do that to us. But the Christian faith has good news for those who feel rejected, the good news of healing and wholeness. So when you feel rejected, here are a few simple guidelines to remember.

1. Feelings are temporary, so go and talk to somebody
2. The person rejecting you is the one with the problem
3. Remember how to laugh and don’t take yourself too seriously
4. Remember that God accepts you.

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eSermons.com offers thousands of illustrations like the one below:

What Is Unique About Christianity?

The story of Jesus sitting and debating the Law with rabbis reminds me of another debate that took place in a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God became incarnate in human form. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, armful of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what's all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We're debating what's unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that's easy,” answered Lewis, “it's....

 

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