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1 John 5:14-5:15
1 Peter 1:3-1:10
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Ruby Hamilton, a businesswoman in her fifties, was stunned at the loss of her husband of 32 years in a car accident. Her anger and disappointment went deeper than a more typical expression of grief though. She had become a follower of Christ in her late twenties, but her husband didn't share her newfound interest in spiritual things. Nonetheless, she had set about praying for him feverishly and unceasingly that he would come to know the Lord. And one day when she was praying, she felt a wave of peace wash over her, and that still small voice assuring her that her husband would be okay. She eagerly awaited the day when her husband surrender his life to Jesus. And now this.
What do you do when faith doesn't make sense? When God doesn't seem to be answering or opening doors or being found? Ruby Hamilton stopped living for God.
Roger Simmons was hitchhiking his way home. He would never forget the date - May 7th. His heavy suitcase was making him tired and he was anxious to take off that army uniform once and for all. Flashing the thumb to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped.
The passenger door swung open. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. "Going home for keeps?"
"Well, you're in luck if you're going to Chicago."
"Not quite that far - do you live in Chicago?"
"I have a business there, the driver said. My name is Hamilton."
They chatted for a while, and then Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to share his faith with this fiftyish, apparently successful business man. But he kept putting it off, till he realized that he was now just 30 minutes from his home. It was now or never.
"Mr. Hamilton, I would like to talk to you about something very important." Then he simply told Mr. Hamilton about the plan of salvation and ultimately asked him if he would like to receive Jesus as his savior and Lord.
The Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger expected that he was about to get thrown out of the car. Instead, the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger "This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me."
Five years went by. Roger married, had a couple of kids and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a trip to Chicago he found a small white business card that had been given to him by Hamilton five years previous. In Chicago, he looked up Hamilton enterprises. The receptionist told him that it was impossible to see Mr. Hamilton, but he could see Mrs. Hamilton. A little confused, he was ushered into a beautiful office where he found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties.
She extended her hand "You knew my husband?"
Roger told her about how Hamilton had picked him up while he was hitchhiking home after the war. "Can you tell me what day that was?"
"Sure it was May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army."
"Anything special about that day," she asked.
He hesitated, not knowing if he should mention how he shared the message of Jesus with her husband. "Mrs. Hamilton, I explained the gospel to your husband that day. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day."
Explosive sobs shook her body. Finally getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, "I had prayed for my husband's salvation for years. I believed God would save him."
"Where is your husband, Ruby?"
"He's dead. He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see, I thought God had not kept his promise. I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought God had not kept his word!"
(Considerable influence for this message came from John Piper's "The Spring of Persistent Public Love", DesiringGod.org. From a sermon by Bret Toman, Power to Live the Golden Rule, 1/3/2011)
What’s Wrong With Same Sex Marriage, a new book from Crossway by D James Kennedy & Jerry Newcombe, is packed with revealing and insightful data that can help jolt many believers out of their complacency on this core cultural threat. Netherlands researchers (where homosexual marriage has been legal the longest) found “marriage” between 2 men lasts an average of 1.5 years and during that time the men had an average of 8 other sexual partners per year. In the U.S., 57% of heterosexual married couples report being faithful to their vows, not the other around as our media constantly implies. Why do homosexuals want all the legal entanglements of marriage? They don’t, what they really want is to make us like them and to open the door to all kinds of sexual chaos that may force acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle on everyone whether or not we agree with it. Michelangelo Signorile, a homosexual writer and activist states the real agenda; “It is also a chance to wholly transform the definition of family in American culture. It is the final tool with which to dismantle all sodomy statutes, get education about homosexuality and AIDS into public schools, and, in short, usher in a sea change in how society views and treats.” This vocal minority (3.2% of adults) is bent on forcing its views on the majority. In fact for about the last 10 years, this group has spent $200 million a year on litigation to destroy marriage as a man and a woman. (What’s Wrong With Same-Sex Marriage? Kennedy & Newcombe, Crossway, ‘04)
IT WAS PENTECOST SUNDAY. As the congregation filed into church, the ushers handed each person a bright red carnation to symbolize the festive spirit of the day. The people listened attentively to the reading of the Pentecost story from the Book of Acts about how the disciples had heard “what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven”; about how the Holy Spirit had appeared “like tongues of fire.” Then came the sermon: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon us,” the preacher began. “Like the powerful wind from heaven!” shouted a woman sitting in the first pew. Then she threw one of the red carnations toward the altar. The preacher began again: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon us.” The same woman’s voce rang out again, “Like the tongues of fire, the tongues of fire!” Again, she threw a red carnation toward the altar. The preacher looked straight at her and said, “Now throw your pocketbook.” To which the woman replied, “Preacher, you have just calmed the wind and put out the fire.”
We laugh at stories like these, but the truth is, the whole issue of stewardship is no laughing matter, is it? This is serious business. Today, I want to approach the subject of giving from a positive perspective.
My wife and I recently saw a television show on The History Channel titled, “The Man Who Predicted 911.” We were both moved by this hour presentation and its focus on one man by the name of Rick Rescorla. Long before September 11th, Rick Rescorla, the 62-year-old head of security at the Morgan Stanley Bank, developed an evacuation plan for the bank. The bank’s offices were situated high up in the South Tower at the World Trade Center. Rescorla was convinced that Osama Bin Laden would use jet planes to try and destroy the World Trade Center. The plan and its preparation were hugely unpopular with the Morgan Stanley staff, many of whom thought Rescorla was mad.
On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 hit World Trade Center Tower 1 at 8:46 am. Rick Rescorla ignored building officials’ advice to stay put and began the orderly evacuation of Morgan Stanley’s 2,800 employees on 20 floors of World Trade Center Tower 2, and 1,000 employees in WTC 5. Rescorla reminded everyone to "be proud to be an American ... everyone will be talking about you tomorrow", and sang God Bless America and other songs over his bullhorn to help evacuees stay calm as they left the building. Rescorla had most of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 employees as well as people working on other floors of WTC 2 safely out of the buildings by the time United Airlines Flight 175 hit WTC 2 at 9:07 a.m.
After having reached safety, Rescorla returned to the building to rescue others still inside. He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains were not recovered. As a result of Rescorla’s actions, only 6 of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 WTC employees were killed on September 11th, 2001, including Rick and three of his deputies who followed him back into the building.
The remainder of this very moving broadcast focused on Morgan Stanley Bank employees who now in tears were praising and acknowledging Rick Rescorla for saving their lives from total destruction that day. Many felt so guilty and apologetic they had thought Rick foolish to keep preaching and standing for what he believed would happen if they were not ready. Those interviewed said they would never forget Rick Rescorla. He was their hero.
Mr. Rescorla left behind a widow, Susan Rescorla, and two children that day. Since 911, a memorial stone was erected in Rick’s hometown of Hayle, Cornwall, to commemorate his life and the sacrifice he made to save others.
James 5:19-20 says, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” As sinners saved by grace, we must have a “Rick Rescorla Attitude.” He was convinced people entrusted to his care would perish if his plan of escape were ignored. Rick Rescorla stayed the course even when unpopular and ridiculed because he believed what he was doing would save lives.
Sadly, many Christians today have a “Cain Attitude” when it comes to rescuing the perishing and having a consistent witness. Unlike Rick Rescorla, they say by their actions: “I am not my brother’s keeper.” How this must grieve the heart of Almighty God who has left us here as His Beloved Children to sh...
COMMUNICATION: A COWBOY NAMED FRED
A cowboy lay sprawled across three entire seats in the posh Amarillo Theater. When the usher came by and noticed this, he whispered to the cowboy, "Sorry, sir, but you're only allowed one seat."
The cowboy groaned but didn't budge. The usher became more impatient: "Sir, if you don't get up from there I'm going to have to call the manager."
Once again, the cowboy just groaned. The usher, realizing he’s dealing with an impaired individual, marched briskly back up the aisle, and in a moment he returned with the manager. Together the two of them tried repeatedly to move the cowboy, but with no success.
Finally they summoned the police. The Texas Ranger surveyed the situation briefly, then asked, "All right buddy, what's your name?"
"Fred," the cowboy moaned.
"Where ya from, Fred?" asked the Ranger.
With terrible pain in his voice and slowly pointing one finger painfully toward the ceiling, Fred replied, "...The balcony..."
Effective communication is essential in some circumstances, but communication with God is essential in every circumstance.
In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during his student days he read the Gospels seriously and considered converting to Christianity. He believed that in the teachings of Jesus he could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India. So one Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby church and talk to the minister about becoming a Christian. When he entered the sanctuary, however, the usher refused to give him a seat and suggested that he o worship with his own people. Gandhi left the church and never returned, “If Christians have caste differences also, “ he said, “I might as well remain a Hindu.” That usher’s prejudice not only betrayed Jesus but also turned a person away from trusting Him as Savior.
The following illustrates that point. "In a stately church a noticeably untidy man visited the church for the first time. He was met by one of the smartly-dressed ushers who immediately ushered him to a back pew so that his unkept appearance and foul odor would not upset the decorum of the church.
Another first time visitor stood in the foyer. He was neatly groomed and made a striking appearance in his dark pinned stripped suit. One of the ushers strode proudly down the aisle with him and seated him in the front of the church.
Following the service, the president or the congregation invited the man to dinner at his home.
As they were seated around the table, the food was passed. The visitor helped himself to the delicious looking potatoes placing them on his plate. But then he did a strange thing, he scooped the potatoes into his suit coat pocket. The family watched as he proceeded to do the same with the carrots and the meat. Unable to keep silent any longer the father asked, "Why are you pouring the food into your coat pocket?" The visitor smiled and answered politely, "Judging from where you seated the visitor who came in before me I gather that you invited my suit to lunch so I’m feeding it."
HOW I WANT TO GO
An old preacher was dying. He sent a message for his Doctor and his Lawyer, both church members, to come to his home. When they arrived, they were ushered up to his bedroom. As they entered the room, the preacher held out his hands and motioned for them to sit on each side of the bed. The preacher grasped their hands, sighed contentedly, smiled and stared at the ceiling.
For a time, no one said anything. Both the doctor and lawyer were touched and flattered that the old preacher would ask them to be with him during his final moment. They were also puzzled; the preacher had never given them any indication that he particularly liked either of them. They both remembered his many long, uncomfortable sermons about greed, covetousness and their avaricious...
In the Congo, poor people who have nothing to give when the Church offering is taken will dip their hand in the offering plate to symbolize the giving of themselves. There’s also a story of a little crippled girl with a crutch who came to church and saw everyone place their offerings in the offering bag. She had no money on her but wanted to give to God so much, that she gave the usher her crutch!
An interviewer once asked a famous movie actor & comedian:
"What’s it like when you kiss a girl in a movie? Do you ever get emotionally involved?"
"Oh," he said, "I once kissed a very beautiful actress on the screen, and it meant nothing to either of us. Of course, the ushers pulled me down off the screen and made me go back to my seat... But aside from that..."