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The Shadow of Jesus

There is no one who cannot return to God, because he can do everything we cannot.


Well over a hundred years ago, Robert Robinson wrote a hymn that resonates with many of us. One line reads like this: "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love." Robinson was born in 1735, and when he was only 14, his mother sent him to London to apprentice as a barber. At age 17, he and his friends went to hear the famous preacher George Whitefield, intending to heckle him. Instead, Robinson was converted and eventually went into the ministry. He was only 23 when he wrote the famous hymn, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing."

Robinson died when he was just 55, and his final years were difficult. It is said that Robinson once traveled in a coach in which a young woman sat across from him, humming a hymn. She asked him what he thought of the song, not knowing he was the composer. With tears running down his cheeks, he said, "Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds—if I had them—to enjoy the feelings I had then."

There are times in every believer's life when we feel that way—as if the best years of our lives are behind us, because we've wandered far from God. First Samuel 12:20–25 records a sermon preached over 3,000 years ago that explains how we find our way back to God.

Samuel was the last great judge of Israel. In chapter 12, he condemns Israel for asking for a king, because God has always been their deliverer. Then he gives them a stunning demonstration. In the middle of harvest season, when it seldom—if ever—rained, Samuel prays for rain, and within moments God sends a devastating downpour. The Israelites are shaken. Not only are they moved by God's ...

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Lee Eclov recently retired after 40 years of local pastoral ministry and now focuses on ministry among pastors. He writes a weekly devotional for preachers on Preaching Today.

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Sermon Outline:


What do you do when you've rejected God's control over your life, but now have come to your senses fearing that you've passed the point of no return?

I. Reorient your life to God.

II. God will do everything we can't.


There is no one who wants to come back to God who cannot.