Raising Heroes for Christ
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 10, 2012
(Adapted from sermon preached at McClendon Baptist Church - Feb. 25, 2007)
*George Washington is called the “Father” of our country, and rightly so. What a hero he was. Historian James Flexner called Washington "the indispensable man." Richard Smith said, "If George Washington had not existed there arguably would have never been an American Republic." (1)
*Ron Hutchcraft described Washington’s leadership this way: "King George and his army must have been having a good laugh. George Washington and his Continental Army had been whipped in battle after battle in their campaign to become independent from Britain. British troops had driven the Americans out of New York City, across the Hudson River, across New Jersey, and finally into Pennsylvania.
*Then came the winter of 1777, at a place outside of Philadelphia called Valley Forge. On Dec. 19, 1777, Washington's poorly fed, ill-equipped army staggered into Valley Forge, weary from long marches. Winds blew as the 12,000 soldiers prepared for winter's fury. Only about one third of them had shoes, and many left a trail of bloody footprints. The army was ravaged by sickness and disease that killed 2,500 men that winter.
*“Discouragement and defeat may have been their worst enemies. But General Washington wasn't about to let those enemies win. He fought back by ordering his soldiers to begin fortifying their camp. Then the drills began, while Washington worked on getting more recruits and building his army into a real fighting force.
*Many historians believe that the outcome of America's battle for independence was decided at Valley Forge more than in any battle . . . One army went into the winter at Valley Forge - divided, discouraged, demoralized. Another army emerged from that winter. They were unified, fortified, and confident . . . (2)
*Washington was a great hero who trusted in our great God. Once he prayed this prayer: "Bless O Lord the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy Son, Jesus Christ." (3)
*Our children may never be great Presidents like Washington, but they can certainly be great heroes for Jesus Christ. Jesus can turn our children into heroes for His Kingdom. And we can help. Let’s look into the Word of God and see how.
1. First, make the sacrifice for our children.
*You have to read between the lines here to see the sacrifice here, but somebody made a sacrifice for this boy. Think about this most unusual situation. It was an enormous crowd, 5,000 men plus women and children, maybe 15 or 20 thousand people in total.
*The Book of Mark tells us they were out in the country in a deserted place. Jesus and the disciples had gone there trying to be alone for some needed rest. But the people saw them leaving, and many ran to follow them.
*Why the rush; why the excitement? -- John 6:2 tells us that it was because they had seen the Lord’s signs or miracles. Many had been healed, -- even people who were paralyzed and blind, even people with leprosy. Demons had been cast out. People had even been raised from the dead!
*So there was this mad rush to get to Jesus, and in that rush, almost no one had brought food. Mark 6:34-36 sets the scene:
34. And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.
35. When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, "This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late.
36. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat."
*Jesus knew that he was going to feed those people. But He tested Philip’s faith and that’s when Andrew brought this little boy to Jesus. In vs. 9, Andrew said, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?"
*This was the only food in the whole crowd. Where did it come from? -- Probably from the boy's parents. But one thing is sure: It had to come from someone who cared. And I believe they gave that boy their best, because they must have been in the crowd that day too, without any food of their own.
*Would you let your little boy go wandering off alone to the middle of nowhere? Would you let him go alone in that crowd of people? Somebody was there with that boy, and they had given him their best.
*That’s what God wants us to do for our children: Give them your best. I’m not talking about paying $200 for a baseball glove or $3,000 for a set of golf clubs or giving them a BMW for their 16th birthday. I am talking about giving your best, living your best, sacrificing yourself, sacrificing your selfish wants and wishes for what really matters, caring for children the way Jesus cares for them.
*In Matthew 10:42, Jesus said, "Whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward."
*And in Matthew 18:5-6, Jesus said:
5. "Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
6. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
*Make the sacrifice for our children: The children in your family, the children in our church, and the children in our community.
-Jesus can turn our children into heroes, but we can help, so sacrifice for them.
2. And see their potential.
*We have to realize that our children have something to offer God. Yes, they have great potential for the future, but God can even use them today, just like He used this little boy.
*Right now what they have may seem very small, like those 5 little barley loaves and 2 sardine-sized fish. But a little is a lot in the Hands of God! That was true of the lunch, true of this little boy, and true of our children too!
*We have to recognize that our children have something great to offer God:
-They can offer Him themselves.
-They can give their hearts to the Lord. (That’s what He wants more than anything else.)
-And they can have a great impact on God’s Kingdom right now.
*Wallace Chappell tells the great story of a little girl who came down front after one of his revival sermons. This shy, little girl told the preacher about a phone call she received the day before. The call was from a lady who was visiting in the city from out of state. She had dialed the wrong number.
*The little girl didn’t know her, but she began to talk to her, and she even invited the lady to her church. Then the little girl got excited as she told the preacher, "The lady said she hadn't been inside a church in 20 years. But she was at church tonight! I talked to her. And when you asked for people to accept Jesus, she was one of those who came forward!" (4)
*And I know we don’t usually want our children to talk to strangers. But that lady from out of town got saved! She was from out of state, and she had a dozen reasons not to go to church. But God used a little invitation from a little girl to help that lady come to Jesus!
*That woman will spend forever in Heaven, because God was able to use that little girl. And He can use our children too.
3. Jesus can turn our children into heroes, and we can help. So sacrifice for them, see their potential, and steer them to the Lord.
*Do everything you can to help steer children to the Lord. In vs. 8&9, when they began to search for food:
8. One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him,
9. "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?"
*Andrew brought this boy to Jesus in vs. 8&9, but there was someone else: Maybe Dad or Mom, maybe a grandparent, maybe older brother or sister, maybe a neighbor or friend. Someone made sure this little boy got close to Jesus.
*When my wife Mary was a little girl, her parents didn’t go to church, but Mr. and Mrs. Ault across the street did. They took Mary with them, and she trusted Christ as her Savior. What a difference for all eternity!
*Do everything you can to help steer children to the Lord.
 Why do we need to steer children them to Jesus? -- First, because He is our Provider.
*Jesus miraculously provided food for all of those people. And ultimately, the Lord has provided every bite of food we have ever eaten. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. James 1:17 tells us that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights." And in Phil 4:19, Paul made this great promise to Christians: "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
*Jesus Christ never runs out of what we need! He always has more than enough. So vs. 12&13 tell us that when the people were full, Jesus
12. . . said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost."
13. Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
 We need to steer children to Jesus, because He is our Provider, and because He is the miracle-working, Son of God.
*Jesus can feed 5,000 or 50,000 with no trouble at all! He can calm the storms, walk on water, heal the sick and raise the dead! Nothing is too hard for Jesus! As Luke 1:37 says, "With God nothing is impossible."
 We need to steer children to Jesus, because He is the miracle working, Almighty Son of God, and because He is the King of kings.
*After Jesus miraculously fed that enormous crowd, many of those men wanted to take Jesus by force to make Him the king of their country. But they did not understand. So John 6:15 says, "Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone."
*Those misguided people were setting their aim way too low. Jesus Christ is not just the king of any one country, He is the King of the whole universe! Jesus Christ is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords!
 Why do we need to steer children to Jesus? -- Because He is the King of kings, and most of all, because Jesus is the one and only Savior.
*Jesus got away from that mob, and spent some time alone on the mountain. No doubt, He was talking to our Heavenly Father. Listen to what happened next, starting in vs. 16:
16. Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,
17. got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.
18. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.
19. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.
20. But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."
21. Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
*The following day the people caught up with Jesus, but not because they wanted to follow Him, not because they wanted to trust in Him as Savior and Lord. No, they were simply trying to get another free meal. But Jesus wanted to give them so much more. He wanted to save them! He wanted to give them everlasting life.
*Listen to what Jesus told them in vs. 27-35:
27. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."
28. Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"
29. Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
30. Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?
31. Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'HE GAVE THEM BREAD FROM HEAVEN TO EAT.'"
32. Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
33. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
34. Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."
35. And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
*Jesus Christ is the Bread of everlasting life. If you will believe in Him, if you will receive Him as your Lord and Savior, then He will forgive your sins and give you eternal life. Jesus can do that because He died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins, and 3 day later He rose again.
*Nothing in life is more important than for us to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior! Nothing is more important for our children than that they trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!
*Another one of our great American heroes was Patrick Henry. He was the Virginia patriot who in 1775 spoke his most famous words, "Give me liberty or give me death!"
*During the Revolutionary War Patrick Henry became commander-in-chief of Virginia’s military forces. Later he helped establish the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. Patrick Henry became Virginia’s first governor, and was re-elected four times. Then he retired from public life, but despite his strong objections the people went ahead and re-elected him Governor for the fifth time. But Patrick Henry meant what he said, and refused to take the office.
*He was offered a seat in the U.S. Senate, and posts as ambassador to Spain and to France. President Washington asked Henry to join his cabinet and become Secretary of State. Later Washington wanted to appoint Henry as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but Patrick Henry refused all such honors and recognitions.
*Patrick Henry knew what was most important in life. Listen to these closing words from his Last Will and Testament: "I have now given everything I own to my children. There is one more thing I wish I could give them and that is Christ -- Because if they have everything I gave them and don’t have Christ, they have nothing." (5)
*Patrick Henry knew what matters most in life: We must have Jesus. This is what matters most for our children, and most for us all.
*Is Jesus Christ in your life?
-Do you have a personal relationship with Him?
-Do you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord?
*Trust in the Lord! -- Then you can help Jesus turn children into heroes, and you should.
-Sacrifice for them.
-See their potential.
-And do everything you can to steer children to Jesus.
*Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.
1. Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner, Back Bay Books - (Don’t know source for Smith quote)
2. Adapted from - KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 30351 - SOURCE: A Word With You By Ron Hutchcraft #4982 - TITLE: Using Your Winter To Win Your Battles - AUTHOR: Ron Hutchcraft - DATE: 21406 - Other Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_forge
3. Excerpt from SermonCentral illustration contributed by Terry Laughlin
4. Adapted from Larry Powell, Blow The Silver Trumpets, C.S.S Publishing Co., 1991. (Found on sermonillustrations.com)
5. SermonCentral illustration from Melvin Newland, Central Christian Church, Brownsville, Texas.