Sermon for Sunday May 13th, 2012


Life After Graduation by Steve Shepherd

2 Timothy 3:12-3:15

INTRO.- ILL.- Physics Teacher: "Isaac Newton was sitting under a tree when an apple fell on his head and he discovered gravity. Isn’t that wonderful?"

Student: "Yes sir, if he had been sitting in class looking at books like us, he wouldn’t have discovered anything."

Do we really learn anything from school and/or college? Well, yes. Some things, for sure. Like what? Like reading, writing and arithmetic. Those were the basics of what we learned in elementary school, anyway. And these have stuck with me. What about you? Can you add, subtract, multiply, and divide numbers? Some people can’t! Or else they’ve stopped working at these things. USE IT OR LOSE IT, as they say.

ILL.- One time many years ago when my mother was still living in her home in Webb City, MO, but suffering from the effects of Parkinson’s disease I found an envelope on the arm of her chair. I picked it up and asked mom, “What’s this? What are all these numbers?” She said, “It’s where I was balancing my checkbook.” I said, “But mom I bought you a calculator.” She said, “I don’t use it. I’m trying to keep my mind active, etc.”

I think I got out my calculator and checked her figures and yes, they were correct! However, I’m not sure many people do things like this today in order to keep their memory sharp or be able to keep doing math.

I have discovered, however, than many kids have trouble with math and everything else that was taught in grade school!

I have often thought that if cashiers didn’t have computerized registers that counted the money for them then they wouldn’t be able to make change for the customers!

Now, as far as college is concerned, I would hope that young people are learning something. I sometimes wonder if the college courses that are offered actually help students after they graduate.

ILL.- When I went to Ozark Christian College in the mid-60‘s the main emphasis at that college was on Christian service. If you were a young man they encouraged you to get involved in either preaching ministry, youth ministry or missions ministry. I took a number of class that dealt with preaching. How to preach. Expository preaching, etc. We were drilled over and over on how to prepare sermons and make sermon outlines from the scriptures. But I’ve continued to learn a lot more about preaching since college!

One thing is sure: Life doesn’t stop after graduation. In reality, life starts after graduation. No matter what you learn or don’t learn in school or college, life continues on.

PROP.- Let me share some goals for life after graduation.
1- Seek the Lord
2- Continue your education
3- Concentrate on people
4- Go to work

I. SEEK THE LORD

Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Above all. Above everything else seek the Lord in life. Seek the Lord first. What is your major goal in life? Is it knowing yourself or knowing God?

ILL.- 77 year old Actress Shirley MacLaine wrote one time: “The most pleasurable journey you take is through yourself, the only sustaining love is with yourself...” I BEG TO DIFFER! Some years ago she wrote a book entitled, “Out on a Limb” and some people thought she was “out of her tree” or else the limb broke off and she hit her head, because she was dabbling in transcendental meditation and other such weird stuff.

One time fellow actor, Anthony Hopkins, worked with her and said, “she was the most obnoxious actress I have ever worked with."

The reason she had so many troubles in life, with men and otherwise, and the reason most people have trouble in life is because they are so self-absorbed and self-focused. But when we get our eyes off us and on God, life changes for the better.

As Chuck Swindoll wrote: “I am more convinced than ever that life’s major pursuit is not knowing self but knowing God.”

The more we seek Him and come to know Him, the better off we’ll be in all areas of life. Knowing Him is the key to a better life! So how can we get to know Him? We do it privately and congregationally. We worship at home and at church.

Psalm 1:1-3 “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”

Psalm 119:1-2 “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.”

ILL.- On the night of his graduation from medical college, Dr. Howard A. Kelly, world-famed surgeon and gynecologist of the early 1900‘s, wrote in his diary: “I dedicate myself, my time, my capabilities, my ambition, everything to Him. Blessed Lord, sanctify me to Thy uses. Give me no worldly success which may not lead me nearer to my Savior!” What a doctor!

Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

It sounds like the smart thing to do in life is to always seek the Lord and His will for our lives.

II. CONTINUE YOUR EDUCATION

II Timothy 3:12-15 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Notice that Paul said: CONTINUE IN WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED AND FROM THOSE WHOM YOU LEARNED IT. We must continue to learn even after school or college.

- Mark Twain said: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” We may well learn much more outside the classroom than in the classroom, at least about life.

- Aristotle: “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

Out of the overflow of the heart comes many things, Jesus said. (Matthew 12:34, etc.) I think one of the best ways to continue our education after college is by learning from people. Books, newspapers, yes, but people even more.

ILL.- Otto and Elsie Murphy were an elderly couple in a church in Iowa where I preached from 1969-1974. It’s a small town in west central Iowa and a farming community.

Otto had previously been a small farmer but was retired. He and Elsie didn’t have much materially-speaking. They lived in an old house in town. They didn’t do much socializing except for the church but they were very faithful to Christ and to the church. They never missed a service, a Bible study, a concert or even a calling night. If we announced that we were having a call night Otto and Elsie were the only ones in the church who showed up.

Old Otto couldn’t sing on tune to save his life, but he’d still sing a solo occasionally. Both Otto and Elsie were willing teachers. If no was willing to teach a men’s class or a women’s class, they would. They weren’t bossy and didn’t try to run the church. They were there to serve anyway they could. I can still hear Otto pray, “Lord, we know not what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow.”

Otto died of a heart attack while going to pick up a blind man for church on Sunday morning. Now there’s a man I looked up to and learned from!

ILL.- Ralph Riemensnider was an elder in the church in Iberia, MO, where I ministered from 1974-1984. Ralph was willing to do anything to help the cause of Christ in the church and outside the church. Ralph had a good singing voice and would often lead the congregational singing and he also sang in duets and trios.

Ralph knew God’s Word and was an excellent teacher. He taught a Sunday School class and also taught our Thursday night study. Ralph and Imogene were faithful in giving and serving. Any time we interviewed a young man as a prospective youth minister Ralph and Imogene offered for them to stay in their home.

Whenever some manual labor needed to be done at the church, Ralph was there to help. Ralph was president of a local bank and any time I needed to borrow money, Ralph gladly loaned me the money. He even co-signed at least one loan for me. How many people do you know would loan a preacher money and then co-sign the loan? Was that Christlike living or what?!

I never heard Ralph say an unkind word about anyone or do an unkind deed. He always had a smile and a greeting for everyone in the church and he laughed a lot. And yet, Ralph had a burden to bear. His mother committed suicide years earlier. I never did know the story of what happened but you know that was a heavy burden to bear.

We must continue our education even after we get our education and we can learn most of all from godly people.

III. CONCENTRATE ON PEOPLE

Matthew 22:36-39 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

We are to love God and love people. And the more we love Him, the more we’ll love them. We are to live for others regardless of the vocation we choose in life.

It doesn’t make any difference what you do in life, God put us here to honor Him by blessing people. And we can bless people by being nice to them, being polite, being helpful, being quick to serve them or give them good service.

ILL.- My older brother Larry now has 55 years in the grocery business. He’s the manager of a large Price Chopper store in the Lenexa, KS, area and still works over 60 hours a week. He’s in the serving business and I know that he tries hard to meet the needs of his customers. He knows how to treat people and works at it. I once asked him, "What’s the hardest thing you have to do in your business?" He said, "Deal with my employees."

It’s sometimes hard to deal with people in life. There will be those who are hard-nosed or maybe hard to get to know or maybe hard get along with. But still, we must think about how we can bless others.

Perhaps we can think of ourselves as business owners who are selling a product. In a sense, we are. We own Christ in the sense that He owns us. And He wants us to sell Him to others. In fact, He’s the best product that we have to sell to others.

ILL.- Thomas Monaghan was the founder, president, and chief executive officer of Domino’s Pizza, Inc. From 1970 to 1985, Domino’s grew from a small debt-ridden chain to the second largest pizza company in America.

When asked to account for the phenomenal growth of the company, Monaghan explained, “I programmed everything for growth.” And how did he plan for growth? “Every day we develop people—the key to growth is developing people.” Not special cheese, not a tasty crust, not fast delivery schedules, but people! THE EMPHASIS WAS ON PEOPLE!

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”

Galatians 6:9-10 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Don’t live for self. Live for others because that’s exactly what Jesus did and we need to follow in His steps. It is more blessed to give than to receive! (Acts 20:35)

IV. GO TO WORK

ILL.- A father was talking to his son. He said, “Why don’t you get yourself a job?” Son: “Why?”
- Father: “So you could earn some money?” Son: “Why?”
- Father: “So you could put some money in the bank and earn some interest.” Son: “Why?”
- Father: “So that when you’re old you use the money in your bank account and you would never have to work again.”
Son: “But I’m not working now!”

God doesn’t care much for lazy people. God is a worker and He wants us to work as well.

II Thessalonians 3:5-10 6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

While many people want to relax and/or avoid work as much as possible, God’s people should always be devoted to work in general and their specific type of work.

ILL.- Smith goes to see his supervisor in the front office. "Boss," he says, "we’re doing some heavy house-cleaning at home tomorrow, and my wife needs me to help with the attic and the garage, moving and hauling stuff."

"We’re short-handed, Smith" the boss replies. "I can’t give you the day off." "Thanks, boss," says Smith "I knew I could count on you!"

It doesn’t make any different what kind of work you have to do, but do it, you must!

ILL.- Are you a 1 mile worker or a 2 mile worker? Do you do only the bare minimum or do you go the 2nd mile and leave the mark of excellence on your work? People always remember second-mile-worker.

Listen to this story: Around 1920 a pharmacist bought a drug store in south Chicago. Soon he became bored with his job and began to dream of ways to make it more exciting. It was during a time when people were just beginning to call in their orders by phone, so the man decided to challenge himself by seeing how quickly he could deliver orders. When someone called, he repeated the order aloud, including the name and address. As he spoke with the caller, his assistant filled the order and a driver left to deliver it. The druggist kept the customer on the phone chatting until the order arrived. Most of the customers lived nearby, but this kind of prompt service was revolutionary. As word spread, it became the busiest pharmacy in Chicago and within a few years, Charles Walgreen revolutionized the pharmacy industry because he decided to go the second mile.

Are you willing to go the second mile in your work? We should be. We should always do more than is expected of us. By doing this we will be an even greater blessing to people!

ILL.- Before each performance, the famous magician Howard Thurston used to stand for a minute in the wings and say, “I love this audience. I’m going to give my best to them and they are going to respond splendidly.” We should always want to do our best whether people respond splendidly or not.

CONCLUSION---------------------

Life after graduation:
- Seek the Lord always and in all things
- Continue your education and especially, by learning from godly people.
- Center your on serving others, not yourself.
- Go to work and do the best you can no matter what you do.

Steve Shepherd, Jonesboro Christian Church, AR