Read an Excerpt
Tony Evans' Book of Illustrations
Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More Than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking
By Anthony T. Evans, Christopher Reese
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2009 Anthony T. Evans
All rights reserved.
A DINNER plate left out overnight will be hard to clean in the morning. An alternative to scrubbing is soaking the dish in hot water and dishwashing liquid. Letting a dish abide in the solution will allow a hard cleaning job to become a lot easier. This is what abiding does for Christians. We are much easier to clean up when we've been hanging out in the right environment.
Religion says "Scrape off the dirt." It tells us to apply elbow grease to fix a problem. Relationship says "Soak." Just sit in the hot water for a while. Abiding will set you free.
Eph. 2:8–9; 2 Cor. 11:3
SADLY, these days there are many young ladies who are being coerced indirectly into bad situations because they meet somebody over the Internet. Even thirteen-year-old girls can be lured to a location to meet somebody they don't know because they "fell in love" over the Internet. Their initial relationship with this stranger is only by reading. Both parties sit at the computer and read each other's words, but after awhile, the words take on life because behind the word is a real, living person. Those words for a young girl grow into emotions and then turn into actions as she figures out how to sneak out to meet him. Those words take on life because the girl spent time abiding in the presence of someone she couldn't now see.
You can't see the Living God. He's a spirit, but He's written to you and wants to have an eternal love affair with you. If you hang out there with His words, next thing you know you'll be packing your bags to meet Him. You'll have fallen in love with Him and have become transformed by abiding in His presence.
[Transformation; God's Presence] John 3:16; 15:3–5; Rom. 12:2
THE PLANET Mercury is hot. Pluto is cold. Why is Pluto cold and Mercury hot? Mercury is really close to the sun and Pluto is a long way off. The farther you get away, the colder things become, but the closer you get, the hotter things are. You may say that you are not a Pluto Christian or a Mercury Christian. Maybe you are an Earth Christian where things get hot and cold. You may be a seasonal Christian who has changes depending on whether it is wintertime, summertime, springtime, or fall.
God is looking for some Mercury Christians. He is looking for some folks who want to get close and stay hot all the time because they stay close to the S-on.
[Discipleship] James 1:8; Rev. 3:16
I WAS talking on my phone one day and it began going "beep, beep, beep." The beeping noise indicated that the battery was low. After a couple of minutes, I heard a clicking noise. The battery had died because it had been off its charger too long. In other words, it was putting out with no refill and so it lost its power. It lost its "anointing." It lost its ability to function at the level it was designed to function at because it had stayed away from its source too long.
We can't keep running on spiritual empty and wonder why we're only limping along in the Christian life. We are regularly caught unexpectedly on empty because we don't stay close to our source of strength on a regular basis.
A LOT OF people talk about how hot it is in Texas. The heat doesn't really bother me, though, because everything is air-conditioned in Texas. Your car is air-conditioned. Your house is air-conditioned. Every building you go in is air-conditioned. So while you do sometimes have to be under the sun, and while you're in it, it's hot, most people here just don't hang out in the sun.
Actually, I'm a hot-weather person. The hotter it is, the nicer it is for me. Where some people like air conditioners blasting in their cars, I prefer to roll down the windows. I'd rather have hot air than cold air-conditioning. It's just my particular temperament, and I know something is wrong with me, but that's just the way it is. I don't mind hanging out in the sun.
That said, most people I know don't want to hang out in the sun. They just want to pass through the sun. What a lot of people want to do with the s-u-n they want to do with the S-o-n. They just want to pass through.
When you hang out in the sun, you're going to sweat. Why? Because you can't be under that much power and it not affect you. If you hang out under the S-o-n, you're also going to sweat. You're going to sweat His commandments. You're going to sweat pleasing Him. You're going to sweat His Word because you can't hang in His presence without Him rubbing off on you.
The way you know He's rubbing off on you is that you begin to walk as He walks. You begin to pick up some of His habits. You begin to pick up some of His direction. You begin to pick up some of His influence.
[Discipleship] Luke 6:40
I HAVE abided over the last twenty years with American Airlines. They have been my airline of choice, and as a result I have been awarded a level of intimacy. That level of intimacy is called Platinum. They have awarded my consistency with them. That Platinum card affords me various privileges that come simply because I have the card. I can ride first class if the first class seats haven't been purchased. I can get bumped up simply because I have this Platinum card and I've flown two million miles with American over the years. They've given me a card that says I'm a preferred customer. They send things to my house because they appreciate the fact that I have abided with them. They like the fact that they can pretty much count on me to fly American when I travel.
When I walk up to a booth, if people are ahead of me, and first class is full, they have a waiting list. If they tell me they have Gold members in front of me, I pull out my Platinum card. My status bumps me to the top of the list. I take precedence because I have a deeper, longer, and more regular relationship with American than the Gold members do.
However, once a man behind me asked the clerk if there were any first class seats. The clerk told him there were, but then added that the first person was a Platinum member and would be awarded the upgrade first. The man reached into his pocket and pulled out an Executive Platinum card. I felt like slapping him. To remain Platinum you have to fly fifty thousand miles a year. To be Executive Platinum you fly one hundred thousand miles a year. When I walked up to the counter, they let me know they liked me by putting me first. When he came up they let me know they loved him. His level of abiding was deeper.
Some Christians are satisfied with Gold status, others are happy with Platinum, and yet others are after Executive Platinum. What kind of Christian are you? We need to know that until we are ready to make the commitment of abiding, we will never get all the benefits that occur with ongoing intimacy.
[Commitment; Intimacy, with God]
SUNFLOWERS are beautiful flowers that start off as tiny sprouts. The reason sunflowers are called sunflowers is because they follow the sun. The sun rises in the east, the sunflower will point east. The sun sets to the west, and the flowers will point west. These flowers throw off a lot of seeds. They are productive because they are always looking for the sun. They always locate the s-u-n, and because they always are looking for the s-u-n, they're always growing.
When you and I look for the S-o-n, like the sunflower looks for the s-u-n, then we will find the effects of His rays softening our hearts so we can throw off new seed, new life. It is our response to the Word that determines our productivity. Abiding in our relationship with the S-o-n will result in the transformation and growth that many Christians are looking for.
[Transformation; Spiritual Maturity, Growth] Rom. 6:4
THERE ARE two ways to drink tea. Some people are dippers. They dip their tea bag up and down in the mug. A lot of Christians are like that. They dip in on Sunday morning then dip back out. They dip back in on Wednesday night then they dip back out. But there's another way to drink tea and that's to be an abider. It involves the act of just dropping the tea bag in the water and letting it stay there. Without touching the bag an amazing thing will happen. The color of the water begins to change as the influence of the bag in the hot water effects change in the cup. A person can just sit and watch the transformation take place because of the act of abiding.
When you are a dipper you've got to make things happen by your own effort. You've got to move the bag up and down, dip a spoon in and out of the cup, wrap the string around the spoon, jerk, and then pull. It can require a lot of human effort. But when you are abiding, the water changes all by itself.
Once I was meeting with a guy and we were both drinking tea. He was dipping and pulling away. I just let my tea bag sit. He told me that he couldn't let his tea bag sit in the bag like that because his tea would get too strong. That's exactly what happens when you abide. The depth of your abiding will determine the rate of your progress in the spiritual life. Jesus wants you to stay there and experience the full strength of His presence.
A WHILE back I went to McDonald's and ordered a value meal. The cashier asked me if I wanted to supersize my order. He wanted to know if I wanted my order to be bigger. I told him no; I just wanted my regular-sized order. He asked me again to make sure I didn't want my order supersized. I told him no thank you, got my regular-sized order, and drove off.
If you're tired of regular or ordinary living, God is offering you supersize.
A POW IS a prisoner of war. He or she is a person who has been captured by the enemy and is held hostage in the context of a conflict. The situation is where the opposition or the enemy now controls the movements, the actions, or the reactions of the person who has been captured.
Many Christians are POWs, prisoners of spiritual warfare. The Enemy has captured them, and there appears to be no way of escape. They feel trapped by situations and circumstances that the world calls "addictions." Whether it's drugs, sex, pornography, alcohol, codependency, gambling, or food, they feel trapped, and there seems to be no way out.
IN ORDER for God to bring out the best in His children, He brings about scenarios in our lives to build strength and character.
When building our physical bodies, development takes on the form of pumping weights, running on a treadmill, and participating in activities that require tennis shoes. Workouts involve some sweat, heavy breathing, and perspiration because something is being developed. God allows trials and adversity to put us in gymnasium situations. Just like the Father did with His Son Jesus, He creates a workout scenario that includes a difficulty that we must work through.
A lady came to work out at the gym. Everything about what she had on said she was going to go for a killer workout. She wore the typical attire, the headband around her head, wristbands around her wrists, and had a water bottle on her side. She stepped into a clear area and bent down to touch her toes in order to stretch. This woman looked very serious about working out. She grabbed some dumbbells, walked over to a bench, and sat down. Lifting the weights, she did a couple of bicep curls, put the weights down, and wiped herself off with a towel. In an exasperated voice she said, "Whoof! That's enough for today!" This lady looked the part but she had not truly come to the gym for a workout.
Many Christians come to church every Sunday looking like they are ready for a workout. We wear the right clothes, sing the right songs, and talk the right talk, but building real strength requires real effort and a little sweat.
God figures that we will not voluntarily go to a spiritual gym so He brings the gym to us. Adverse circumstances, cross-bearing situations, difficult scenarios, and problematic encounters all serve as opportunities for Christian growth.
[Trials; Tests; Character, Importance of] Prov. 3:11; Phil. 2:12; Heb. 12:6; James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6–8
A CATERPILLAR is ugly, slow, slimy, and it takes all day to go two feet, but when it undergoes the process of metamorphosis and the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, something beautiful is born. Metamorphosis is the process of something at work on the inside trying to show up on the outside.
There's only one reason a butterfly can fly: its wings are strengthened by the work it does to break through the cocoon. If a bystander were to slit open a cocoon prior to the butterfly breaking itself loose from the cocoon, it wouldn't fly. Its wings are developed through the struggle. No struggle, no flight.
Every Christian is a butterfly waiting to happen. A saint may feel like a caterpillar or even think they look like a caterpillar, but the idea is to work out their salvation in the midst of adversity because God is at work within them to do His good pleasure.
[Transformation; Trials; Tests; Spiritual Maturity, Growth] Phil. 2:12–13
AMERICA has ambassadors. Ambassadors are in a foreign land that is not their own. They go away temporarily to a foreign land to spend time away from home. Ambassadors have to learn the language and learn the customs, but they're never to belong there. They are just to live there in order to carry out their mission.
In order to carry it out, they've got to live there. In order to carry it out, they've got to talk the language. To carry it out, they've got to function in the context of the people, but they are to never forget it's not where they belong. The Bible says your citizenship is in heaven.
What good is an ambassador who doesn't represent the homeland? The problem is that today we've got a generation of ambassadors who like the foreign country. In fact, they have fallen in love with the foreign country.
[Ambassadors, for Christ] Phil. 3:17–21; 1 Peter 2:11
WHEN HURRICANE Katrina hit New Orleans, thousands of people were displaced. Thousands of people had to leave their homes and move to other places. Some moved to other cities in Louisiana, others moved to Houston, other people moved to Dallas, not knowing when they could return home.
Months later, many people could still not return home and they were frustrated. Although they had places to sleep, food to eat, and clothes on their backs, they were not happy. Although they had opportunities for new lives, new jobs, and a new start, they were not excited. Although the victims of Katrina had the ability to send their kids to new schools, to see new places, and to do new things, they were not thrilled. No matter how great the new places were, many Americans displaced from New Orleans were frustrated. Why? Because they were not home. It didn't matter how wonderful Dallas or Houston could be, these cities were not New Orleans.
As Christians, we should never be satisfied with the things that this world holds. We should never be thrilled with the things this world has to offer. No matter how wonderful this world is, for the Christian, it will never be home. We are aliens in this world.
[Ambassadors for Christ] Heb. 11:12–14
AMBASSADORS, FOR CHRIST
I USED TO love the television show Charlie's Angels. First there was a TV show, and then there were the Charlie's Angels movies. These three young ladies would go in harm's way for Charlie. What's interesting is, they had never seen Charlie. Charlie was invisible to them, yet they were willing to do his bidding. They would get a call and receive information about what Charlie wanted them to do. They would go out to represent Charlie's interests, even though it meant difficult times for them. They were Charlie's Angels.
The word angel in the Bible means messenger. The original Greek word is angelos. It means to be a messenger for someone else. Now if invisible Charlie could get three ladies to go in harm's way for a man they had never seen, how much more should Jesus' angels, messengers for Jesus Christ, be willing to go in harm's way to represent somebody they've never seen? Even though we haven't seen Him, we should be ready to fulfill His mission and share His love with others.
[Witnessing] 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Peter 1:8–9
Excerpted from Tony Evans' Book of Illustrations by Anthony T. Evans, Christopher Reese. Copyright © 2009 Anthony T. Evans. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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