Author: Ron Graham

Challenge and Change

A Sermon in My Pocket
—How the preacher got out of trouble


The preacher got into the pulpit, reached into his pocket for his sermon outline, and behold it was not there. He had other things in his pocket, so he used them for a sermon outline instead.

1 A Bunch of Keys

Matthew 16:19

"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you lock up on earth will be what heaven forbids. Whatever you unlock on earth will be what heaven permits."

Often when I use my bunch of keys around the home, I am reminded of this amazing promise that Jesus Christ made to Peter and all who follow Jesus. The wonderful “good news” which Jesus and the Holy Spirit revealed to his apostles was a “new covenant” by which the world could know God’s will, especially how he can protect us from evil and set us free from condemnation.

2 A Handkerchief

Revelation 21:4

"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will no longer be any death, sorrow, crying, or pain. The first things have passed away."

One of the many uses of a handkerchief is to wipe away tears. The lovely promise here in Revelation is the end result of God’s binding and loosing. He will lock up our troubles and loose his joy, and that forever. We all cry many tears and suffer many tribulations. But one day God will bring us to his kingdom in heaven and wipe our eyes of every tear.

3 A Pencil

John 20:30-31

"Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these few have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and by believing you may gain life in his name."

A pencil is among the humblest of writing instruments, although it is a relatively recent invention able to store and slowly release sufficient graphite to make a line 100km long. Whatever method or tools they may use, humans have always been able to record information. And the most important information they have recorded is their stories. Often when I take hold of a pencil to write or draw, I remember the greatest story ever told and ever written. It is the story of Jesus the Son of God who makes the promise of happiness in heaven possible. The Bible was written to unfold that story from creation until now, and into the future until “the end”. We are fortunate indeed to possess that story, and wise indeed to listen to it and believe it.

4 A Coin

1Corinthians 6:20

"Don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you as a gift from God, and you don't belong to yourself? You have been bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."

In our day, coins have lost most of their value. Our most valuable coin is only two dollars —it won't even buy a decent loaf of bread. When I was a boy, my grandad gave me half a crown. That coin would buy a lot. In Jesus’s day there was a coin called a denarius. Its value was a whole day’s wages! Of course no amount of coin could ever buy the thing we need most —to be redeemed out of slavery to sin and Satan. Only Jesus, by his sacrifice, could provide the price.

5 A List of Things to Do

Acts 2:38

"Repent and be baptized every one of you. Do this in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

The things we've been reminded of, are all great things that God has done. But does God have a list of things for us to do? For example when Peter preached the keys of the kingdom, people asked him, “What shall we do?” He gave them a to-do list of things they had not yet done, and needed to do, to have the shackles of sin loosed from them. Some people cross baptism off the list before they have done it —because they don't want to do it. They should cross it off the list only after they have done it, for it has been bound in heaven.

6 A Mobile Phone

Philippians 4:6

"Don't be anxious about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Plead humbly with thanksgiving when you make your requests known to God."

Our new systems of communication today are truly amazing. But much more wonderful is our ability to communicate with God —a blessing as old as creation. Prayer is another item on the to-do list God has given us. We need no telephone or satellites to talk to God. The only equipment we need is an honest and humble heart willing to trust and obey.