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The Spirit of Power that we receive is not like the human power that we recognize as strong. It’s a power unlike anything we can do on our own.
A young man growing up in the wrong part of Houston became a bully. He would get in fights in school, in the neighborhood, and began mugging people to get spending money. He even beat up people just for the sake of doing it.
He learned to box, and became pretty good at it. He began to make a lot of money and could have almost anything he wanted. One day, during his training session for an upcoming bout, he heard his mom talking to his sister on the telephone about his favorite nephew. The young boy had had a seizure and now lay in a coma in the hospital. Doctors said he would probably die, but that if he came out of the coma he wouldn’t be able to move his limbs, or speak, or do any of the human functions we consider part of living.
He ran into the room where his mom was on the phone and shouted, “Momma, call the hospital and tell those doctors to give him the best of everything. Tell them I’ll take care of all the bills, to fly in the best doctors from wherever they have to. Tell them who I am, and that I’ll take care of everything — whatever it costs.”
His mom spoke to the doctors, and then told him, “Son, you’re just going to have to pray.”
He realized then how grave the situation was. When someone tells you the only thing you can do is pray, things are looking pretty bad.
Then it hit him. All of his money, his fame, his influence, his friends — none of that could solve this problem. It was out of his hands, out of the doctor’s hands, out of everyone’s hands. For the first time, he was totally powerless.
And for the first time, George Foreman dropped to his knees and prayed.
He wasn’t sure God existed, but he knew that when all else failed, people prayed. He asked God, if he really existed, to help his nephew. Then he got back in bed. A few seconds later, he got back on his knees and offered to give up all his wealth if God would heal his nephew. Then he got back in bed again. A few seconds later he got back on his knees a third time and got angry at God for letting this happen to his nephew, a child who hadn’t experienced life yet. George told God to take his life instead. Let the boy live and take George’s life instead.
The next morning George’s sister called from the hospital. His nephew had woken up and could move his eyes, but the doctors said he wouldn’t ever walk again.
She called later that day, and the boy had begun moving his toes. The next day the boy was talking, and a week later he was on his way home, “walking, talking, and back to normal.” The doctors had no logical explanation. But George Foreman knew God had just given him a miracle.
Three months later in March 1977, George Foreman died in his locker room after fighting Jimmy Young. He collapsed in a heap, and entered what he describes as “a deep, dark void, like a bottomless pit.”
In his book, God in My Corner — A Spiritual Memoir, George wrote “I knew I was dead, and that this wasn’t heaven. I was terrified, knowing I had no way out. Sorrow beyond description engulfed my soul, more than anyone could ever imagine. If you multiplied every disturbing and frightening thought that you’ve ever had during your entire life, that wouldn’t come close to the panic I felt. …
“ I screamed with every ounce of strength in me, ‘I don’t care if this is death. I still believe in God.’
“Instantly, what seemed to be like a giant hand reached down and snatched me out of the terrifying place. Immediately, I was back inside my body in the dressing room.”
George accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and devoted himself to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. He realized his human power, his money, his prestige, were worthless in the next life, and meant to be used as tools to lead others to Jesus during this one.
He went on to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World twice. He was ordained as an evangelist in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and became pastor of a small church. He also became involved in prison and hospital ministries.
You probably know him best for the George Foreman Grills that continue to sell around the world. And he recently baptized his own 23-year-old daughter who finally decided to dedicated her own life to Jesus.
That’s God’s idea of power.
Sermon Central Staff
OUR NEED FOR PAIN
There is no tougher dilemma in the Christian life than the problem of pain. It could be the pain of broken relationship, the pain of rejection, or the pain of insults. Or it could just be plain old physical pain. Nothing tests the faith like pain.
It was physical pain that became a life's work for a man named Dr. Paul Brand. Perhaps nobody studied pain like Dr. Brand.
I became acquainted with his work through the writing of one of my favorite authors, Phil Yancey. He and Dr. Brand wrote several books together including, In His Image, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, and The Gift of Pain.
Dr. Brand died in 2003 at the age of 89. I want to read a little bit from an article in Christianity Today about him:
"Born to missionary parents in the mountains of southwestern India in 1914, Brand attended London University, where he met his wife, Margaret Berry. The two surgeons returned to Vellore, India, to teach at the Christian Medical College and Hospital. While working as the school's first Professor of orthopaedics and hand research, Brand pioneered surgical work with those suffering from Hansen's disease, a bacterial infection more commonly known as leprosy. He was the first surgeon to use reconstructive surgery to correct deformities caused by the disease in the hands and feet, and developed many other forms of prevention and healing from the disease.
"Before Brand, it was widely believed that those suffering from Hansen's disease lost their fingers and feet because of rotting flesh. Instead, Brand discovered, such deformities were due to the loss of ability to feel pain. With treatment and care, he showed, victims of the disease could go indefinitely without such deformities.
It was on this issue that Brand's work with Hansen's disease met with his theological reflections on what he viewed as 'the most problematic aspect of creation: the existence of pain.' Pain, Brand believed, was not antithetical to life, but a requisite for it. God designed the human body so that it is able to survive because of pain,' he later wrote."
Dr. Brand's research helped him form a theology of pain. He compared the body's need for pain, to alert it to danger, to the soul and the spirit's need for pain to alert it to danger and help it to survive.
You see, as Christians, we believe, that our trials, our pain, our deepest hurts, have a purpose beyond our comprehension. This dovetails nicely with what we find in the opening pages of the book of James.
(From a sermon by Daniel Darling, The Purpose of Your Pain, 2/2/2011)
You’re probably familiar with the book "Moby Dick". Even if you’ve never read it, you know the story: Captain Ahab goes in search of a great while whale, and is finally killed when the whale attacks and destroys his ship. But you probably didn’t know that this scene in Herman Melville’s novel was inspired by an actual event in the year 1820 - the sinking of the whaling vessel "Essex" in the South Pacific. Just like the ship in "Moby Dick", the Essex was rammed by a whale. As it sank, the captain and crew abandoned ship and climbed into the three whaleboats. These were twenty-five foot seqgoing rowboats that were normally used to chase and kill whales. But now they would be used to carry the survivors of the Essex more than three thousand miles, over a period of 93 days, to the coast of South America.
It is difficult to comprehend the torments and extreme agonies these men must have suffered, constantly exposed to the brutal rays of the sun, having very little to eat or drink and both starving and dying of thirst. In fact, many of the men did not survive the trip. But those who did described the voyage as three months of constant torture. As the first mate, Owen Chase, recorded in his journal, "The privation of water is justly ranked among the most dreadful of the miseries of our life. . . The violence of raving thirst has no parallel in the catalogue of human calamities." On the twenty-third day after the sinking of their ship, he wrote, "[Our] thirst had become now incessantly more intolerable than our hunger, and the quantity then allowed [half a pint per day] was barely sufficient to keep the mouth in a state of moisture, for about one third of the time. . . In vain was every expedient tried to relieve the raging fever of the throat. . . Our suffering during these . . . days almost exceeded human belief." ["In the Heart of the Sea," p. 116]
As Nathaniel Philbrick writes in his book about the disaster,
"The Essex survivors had entered . . . the ’cotton-mouth’ phase of thirst. Saliva becomes thick and foul-tasting; the tongue clings irritatingly to the teeth and the roof of the mouth. Even though speech is difficult, sufferers are often moved to complain ceaselessly about their thirst until their voices become so cracked and hoarse that they can speak no more. A lump seems to form in the throat, causing the sufferer to swallow repeatedly in a vain attempt to dislodge it. Severe pain is felt in the head and neck. The face feels full due to the shrinking of the skin. Hearing is affected, and many people begin to hallucinate. Still to come . . . were the agonies of a mouth that has ceased to generate saliva. The tongue hardens into . . . ’a senseless weight, swinging on the still-soft root and striking foreignly against the teeth.’ Speech becomes impossible, although sufferers are known to moan and bellow. Next is the "blood sweats" phase, involving ’a progressive mummification of the initially living body.’ The tongue swells to such proportions that it squeezes past the jaws. The eyelids crack and the eyeballs being to weep tears of blood. The throat is so swollen that breathing becomes difficult, creating [the] terrifying sensation of drowning." [ibid, pp. 126-127]
As terrible as their suffering was, there’s something even worse. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man is in torment in hell, while Lazarus is with Abraham. And the rich man begs, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’" The description of the agony of thirst suffered by the crew of the Essex gives us just a glimpse of the torments of hell. But even this is only an approximation. The reality is even more intolerable, for Jesus says, " Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.." (Matthew 10:28) In other words, the worst bodily suffering possible on this earth is still less terrifying than suffering under the wrath of God for ever and ever, throughout eternity.
THE MEANING OF THIRST
Do you know the importance of water to our physical bodies? When our bodies fail to retain the right amount of water, dehydration sets in. It is the water in our body that determines the vitality, strength, and energy associated with daily living. Think about these facts associated with our body and water:
Ø The human body is ⅔ water.
Ø The body absorbs cold water faster than hot water.
Ø By the time you are 70-years-old, you will have
required 1½ million gallons of water.
Ø Studies show that increasing water consumption can
decrease fat deposits. Water is a natural appetite
Ø If you loose 2% of your body’s water supply, your
energy will decrease by 20%. A 10% decrease in water,
you will be unable to walk, and a 20% decrease – you’re dead.
Well, I think you get the point. And what is true of the physical is also true of the spiritual. Because God has made you with a spirit, soul, and body ...
Philip Makari has a little to say about giving which is good, “Here I speak of a special type of giving, the giving of our total selves first to God. It is the giving of body, soul and spirit for God’s use that we may achieve, for ourselves and for others, the higher ends of God.
This is not, as you can see, charity giving. This is dedication giving. It is the giving of who and what we are. It is the type of giving expressed in a an engraved picture on one of the ancient cathedrals in Europe where an apostle stands between an altar and a plough, the symbols of dieing and serving, with the inscription, ‘READY FOR EITHER.”
This rule of sacrificially giving of ourselves that we might prepare the way of the Lord is like the case in all the experiences of life.
It is a common- sense rule that applies to all the situations of life:
Without serving that which we need to achieve, we simply can’t achieve it.
Life is a series of giving’s that we might gain.
Only where there is input can we expect an output.
Only when we deposit, can we expect return.
Don’t participate, don’t expect. No pain, no gain.
Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could.”
Here I speak of a special type of giving, the giving of our total selves first to God. It is the giving of body, soul and spirit for God’s use that we may achieve, for ourselves and for others, the higher ends of God. This is not, as you can see, charity giving. This is dedication giving. It is the giving of who and what we are. It is the type of giving expressed in a an engraved picture on one of the ancient cathedrals in Europe where an apostle stands between an altar and a plough, the symbols of dieing and serving, with the inscription, ‘READY FOR EITHER.” This rule of sacrificially giving of ourselves that we might prepare the way of the Lord, is like the case in all the experiences of life. It is a common- sense rule that applies to all the situations of life: Without serving that which we need to achieve, we simply can’t achieve it. Life is a series of givings that we might gain. Only where there is input can we expect an output. Only when we deposit, can we expect return. Don’t participate, don’t expect. No pain, no gain. Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could.
I have been married to the same lovely woman for over 25 years. That’s 25 years of eating together, laughing together, crying together, holding hands, sleeping together in a queen sized bed.
A couple of weeks ago she left one Saturday afternoon to spend a Mother-Daughter week in Puerto Valarta, Mexico with our firstborn. I expected a call from my wife that night which was very late (well after midnight) in coming. Even after the call -- and the "miracle" of her familiar voice though a thousand miles away -- I tossed and turned all night long. Our bed felt like an empty, lonely, unfamiliar and alien place. I tried sleeping in the guest room, and then on the couch -- no better. My body, mind, heart and soul longed for my wife’s familiar presence.
I also learned something about my relationship with God that long night. The Spirit seemed to remind me of Psalm 68, and as if He were speaking, the Lord asked: "When did you last toss and turn all night awaiting My call? How long since your soul thirsted, and your body longed for My presence?" I am sure that is what God wants his children (and what the Bridegroom wants his bride) to feel when we wander from His intimate presence as well. "O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you ... on my bed I remember you; I think of you through the long watches of the night ... my soul clings to you."
Gene A. Getz, in his book, The Measure of a Church, asks the question, "What is the measure of maturity in the church?" And he lists what others believe are the measure of maturity:
1. An active church (involving people in meetings and programs)
2. A giving church (supporting the church and efforts financially)
3. A growing church (new people coming and staying)
4. A soul-winning church (leading unbelievers to faith and baptism)
5. A smooth-running church (efficient and orderly)
6. A missionary-minded church (supports missionaries around the world)
7. A Spirit-filled church (enthusiastic, emotional)
8. A big church (large attendance, with many programs)
God used Paul to give us a different measure for maturity of the church. Paul says that the church is mature when it functions like one body, where Jesus Christ is the Head.
When Esther was a newborn, we could see her eyes wanting to reach for a toy, but her hands and arms were not yet able to cooperate. As she became more mature, her body parts began to do what her "head" wanted her to d...
Our Body. Makes me world conscious. If we are walking down the street, how do people recognize you? Do they know you by your spirit? By your soul? No, by your body which includes your face.
In 24 hours the average adult accomplishes much:
Your heart beats 103,689 times
Your blood travels 168,000,000 miles
You breathe 23,040 times
You inhale 438 cubic feet of air
You eat 3 1/2 pounds of food
You drink 2.9 quarts of liquid
You lose 7/8 pound of waste
You speak 4,800 words
You move 750 muscles
Your nails grow .000046 inch
You exercise 7,000,000 brain cells It’s no wonder you feel tired! Psa 139:13-14
How to hear the voice of God!
Your body contains:
Enough iron to make a small nail,
Enough salt to fill an ordinary shaker
Enough sugar to fill a small bowl
Enough lime to whitewash a small chicken coop
Enough phosphorus to make a dozen matches
Enough fat to fill a twelve-pound pail
Enough albuminoids to replace the whites of one hundred eggs.
Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul
Because of what Christ has done for me, and as his disciple, God’s own child, I am to let the peace of Christ RULE in my heart.
I was CALLED to PEACE. YOU were CALLED to PEACE.
And we find that in Pennsylvania, these people, that many in the world would describe at best “different” or “odd,” and at worst, would ridicule them for their uniqueness (dress, customs), these people with whom we find ourselves SEPARATED from, these people have now invoked our amazement at the LOVE they show, that flows from their CONVICTION of PEACE. PEACE that they themselves know in the Lord.
Since the shooting,
• not only have members of the Amish community attended the funeral of the killer in support of his wife and two little children, but they
• have said they forgive Charles Carl Roberts IV
and the walls of HOSTILITY were broken down.
THEY REMEMBERED, and the two have become one.
His (the shooter’s) wife, who herself is reportedly an active Christian, active in her church, hosting women’s groups at her house (EVEN as her husband was tormented in soul and angry and hostile toward God)
responded to this outpouring of these “odd” Amish by writing this to them.
"Please know that our hearts have been broken by all that has happened," Marie Roberts wrote. "We are filled with sorrow for all of our Amish neighbors whom we have loved and continue to love."
"Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need," she wrote.
"Gifts you’ve given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. ...
Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you." (cited from an AP story)
"We know there are many hard days ahead for all the families who lost loved ones, and so we will continue to put our hope and trust in the God of all comfort, as we all seek to rebuild our lives," she wrote.
The Amish remembered.
Marie Roberts remembered.
We can remember:
13 have been brought near
14 who has made the two one
15 create in himself one new man
16 in this one body to reconcile both of them to God
18 through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
[this illustration was from an AP story, and I am not sure, since I didn’t buy it, if it can be used. I don’t understand the legalities. But if it can be used, it should be, it is pretty powerful]