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“Passing Through The Shadows!” 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 Key verse(s): 26:“‘For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’.”
“Smile and the world smiles with you! Cry and you cry alone.” Walking through life with a smile on our faces is something to hope for, isn’t it? Life it far too short to be all gloom and sadness. Like the old song says, if you smile you draw crowds. When you cry you draw isolation and loneliness.
From an early age on we are taught not be be gloomy. There’s something about being around a person who is sad that simply repels us. Most of us will resort to nothing less than our best efforts to either avoid the gloom or change it somehow. Recently I returned home from a long day at the office dragging pretty much everything that I had encountered that day behind me. As I slipped in through the garage door into the entry way, so slipped in the meeting that had not gone well, the invoice that turned out to be more than I had planned, and the angry telephone call I had taken. Plop, they landed on the floor right beside my briefcase. Somehow I knew they were still there because even when I tried to refocus my thoughts on home and family, all I could think of was the office. I guess it was pretty evident on my face as I walked into the kitchen, shuffling across the floor in my slippers, mostly looking past my children and wife. They could see it written all over my face. “Had a bad day, huh?” “Yeah, the worst!” And I plunged into a lengthy dissertation on the woes of the day; moving back and forth between diatribe and regret. They had had a great day but now, as they listened to my woes, somehow their days had not been as good as they had thought. In fact, it wasn’t long before they were able to match woe for woe with the “king of woes”. My sorrow had magically become their sorrow. My sorrow like a drop of black ink in water slowly spread its inky murk throughout their clear and sunny day. “Gloom and doom, meet happy and promising!” Like that bothersome gab that grabs your hand and makes it serve as a sort of freeway for their emotions, gloom and doom simply won’t let go until they have poured themselves into you completely.
Carry our sorrow and laying it on others is not a very good idea. Yet, how can one be happy all the time? Isn’t there ever a place for sorrow, at least to balance out the brilliance of the light from time to time? In northern Chile, between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, lies a narrow strip of land where the sun shines every day! Clouds gather so seldom over the valley that one can say, “It almost never rains here!” Morning after morning the sun rises brilliantly over the tall mountains to the east. Each noon it shines brightly overhead, and every evening it brings a picturesque sunset. Although storms are often seen rising high in the mountains, and heavy fog banks hand their gray curtains far over the sea, Old Sol continues to shed his warming rays upon this “favored” and protected strip of territory. One might imagine this area to be an earthly paradise, but is far from that! It is a sterile and desolate wilderness! There are no streams of water, and nothing grows there.
We often long for total sunshine and continuous joy in life, and we desire to avoid the heartache that bring tears to our eyes. Like that sunny, unfertile part of Chile, however, life without clouds and even an occasional downpour would not be productive or challenging. But though showers do come, they will also end, and the sun will shine again. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). (Our Daily Bread.)
Total sunshine in life? Let’s face it. That is never going to happen. In fact, there will always be a proper place for sorrow in life. I’m not talking about the impertinent spreading of your own personal gloom on people. Nobody needs that. No, I’m talking about the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and forgiveness of sins. When Jesus passed the cup to his disciples and broke the bread between his fingers at that last communing supper together, His soul was filled with a kind of sorrow that was truly appropriate and necessary for the moment. His soul was, as Martin Luther put it, “empty, single, and hungry”. His soul was prepared for the task ahead and He was demonstrating to His disciples how that sorrow could and would turn into joy. But first it must pass through the shadows and dwell in the darkness of sin. Here the soul must weep and by that invisible cleansing be able to behold more clearly the land of sweet light and happiness that awaits it if only it can endure the sorrow for but a short time longer. Yes, there is a time for sorrow when we rightly park our joy and walk some distance away from the light toward the shadowland where we find the source of that nagging that is constantly beating upon the doors of our souls. Here we too shall find the emptiness that makes preparation for being filled.
On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, 350 Japanese war planes bombed Pearl Harbor. 18 battle ships were sunk or destroyed. 200 airplanes were put out of commission. 3, 581 servicemen were either killed or wounded.
Thus America’s war cry as she entered World War II was this motto: “Remember Pearl Harbor”.
At the Lord’s table today, we too have a battle cry and it is: “Remember Jesus Christ.”
DR. TOM LONG, WRITES OF THE UNFORGETTABLE STORY OF VISITING A SMALL, BUT IMPRESSIVE PRAYER CHAPEL, THAT FEATURED A LIFE-SIZED RENDERING OF JESUS, WITH A SIGN ON IT FROM MATTHEW 11:28-30 WHICH SAYS, “COME UNTO ME ALL YE THAT ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST. TAKE MY YOKE UPON YOU, AND LEARN OF ME; FOR I AM MEEK AND LOWLY IN HEART: AND YE SHALL FIND REST UNTO YOUR SOULS. FOR MY YOKE IS EASY, AND MY BURDEN IS LIGHT.” G. TWELVE CHAIRS HAD BEEN PLACED IN A SEMI-CIRCLE FACING THE PAINTING TO PROVIDE A PLACE FOR PEOPLE TO FOCUS ON IT AND EACH CHAIR WAS LABELED WITH THE NAME OF ONE OF THE DISCIPLES. H. DR. LONG WAS STRUCK BY THE FACT THAT ONE CHAIR, AMONG ALL THE OTHERS, SHOWED THE SIGNS OF MOST FREQUENT USE, AND IT WAS THE ONE MARKED “JUDAS.” I. IT’S HARD TO UNDERSTAND ASHLEY SMITH OR, THE INFINITELY LARGER WONDER OF JESUS FORGIVING THOSE WHO CRUCIFIED HIM – “IF” WE HAVE NEVER SAT IN THE CHAIR OF JUDAS, FIGURATIVELY SPEAKING J. HOWEVER, SOME PEOPLE NEVER SIT IN THAT CHAIR, BECAUSE THEY GO THROUGH LIFE LIKE DENNIS LEE CURTIS, AN ARMED ROBBER ARRESTED IN 2002. K. IN HIS WALLET THE POLICE FOUND A PAPER ON WHICH WAS WRITTEN THE FOLLOWING PERSONAL CODE: “I WILL NOT KILL ANYONE UNLESS I HAVE TO. I WILL TAKE ONLY CASH AND FOOD STAMPS -— NO CHECKS. I WILL ROB ONLY AT NIGHT AND NOT WEAR A MASK. I WILL NOT ROB MINI-MARTS. IF I GET CHASED ON FOOT, I WILL GET AWAY. IF CHASED BY A VEHICLE, I WILL NOT PUT THE LIVES OF CIVILIANS ON THE LINE. I WILL ROB ONLY 7 MONTHS OF THE YEAR.” L. DR. BRIAN BURRELL WRITES THIS ABOUT DENNIS LEE CURTIS, “THIS THIEF HAD A SENSE OF MORALITY, BUT IT WAS FLAWED. HIS FOCUS WAS ONLY ON THE WAYS THAT HE WAS ACTING HONORABLY, AND THAT KEPT HIM FROM SEEING THE WAYS HE MIGHT HAVE ACTED EVEN MORE HONORABLY. MR. CURTIS DID NOT UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN HE STOOD BEFORE THE COURT, HE WOULD NOT BE JUDGED BY THE STANDARDS HE HAD SET FOR HIMSELF, BUT BY THE LAWS OF THE STATE.
BUT A RECENT GALLOP POLL COMMISSIONED BY THE SUNDAY SCHOOL BOARD SAID, “FIFTY NINE PERCENT OF 3700 PEOPLE RANDOM SELECTED WHILE LEAVING 217 CHURCHES BELIEVE, THEY COULD STAND BEFORE GOD ON THEIR OUR OWN MERITS, AND THAT IN THE END, GOD WILL BE FORCED TO GRADE US ALL ON THE CURVE ANYWAY.”
PERHAPS YOU HEARD ABOUT THE 26 YEAR OLD KOREAN GRADUATE STUDENT WHO WAS STUDYING POLITICAL SCIENCE,
H. AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, WHO WENT OUT TO MAIL A LETTER, BUT BEFORE HE COULD GET BACK TO HIS APARTMENT, HE WAS ATTACKED BY A GANG OF VIOLENT TEENAGERS LOOKING FOR MONEY TO GO TO A DANCE, AND THEY ROBBED AND KILLED HIM, WHILE A DOZEN PEOPLE WATCHED AND DID NOTHING
I. THIS YOUNG MAN HAD BEEN A MODEL SON AND A EXEMPLARY CHRISTIAN AND THOSE WHO COMMITTED THE CRIME,
1. WERE CONTEMPTIBLE DIRT BAGS.
2. THIS YOUNG MAN’S WIDOWED MOTHER, HAD EVERY RIGHT TO BE FILLED WITH HATE AND ANGER FOR THEM, BUT REMARKABLY, SHE WASN’T
J. THE MEMBERS OF HER CHURCH IN KOREA, TOOK UP AN OFFERING TO PROVIDE FUNDS FOR HER TO COME TO THE UNITED STATES, SO THAT SHE COULD HELP THOSE WHO HAD COMMITTED THE CRIME AGAINST HER SON.
K. WHEN THE YOUNG CRIMINALS WERE TRIED, FOUND GUILTY AND SENTENCED TO DEATH AND LIFE IN PRISON, SHE GOT DOWN ON HER KNEES BEFORE THE JUDGE AND PLEAD FOR THEIR LIVES TO BE SPARED AND THOSE ANIMALS STARTED WEEPING LIKE BABIES, AS DID THE POLICEMEN WHO HELD THE YOUNG OFFENDERS IN CHAINS.
L. THAT GRIEVING MOTHER, BECOME A CHRISTIAN, BECAUSE YOU AND I, THROUGH OUR TITHES, PAID A SALARY TO A SOUTHERN BAPTIST MISSIONARY, WHO GOD LED TO SOUTH KOREA.
M. SHE WAS LIVING OUT WHAT PAUL SAYS IN EPHESIANS 4:31-32, “GET RID OF ALL BITTERNESS, RAGE, ANGER, BRAWLING AND SLANDER, ALONG WITH EVERY FORM OF MALICE. BE KIND AND COMPASSIONATE TO ONE ANOTHER, FORGIVING EACH OTHER, JUST AS CHRIST FORGAVE YOU.”
A. SANDWICHED BETWEEN THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR -- WAS AN EVENT THAT OCCURRED ON MARCH 5, 1938, WHEN THIS NATION NEEDED A MESSAGE OF HOPE AND ASSURANCE
B. PEOPLE ACHED FOR THE STRENGTH TO GET PAST THE ECONOMIC DEVASTATION THEY’D EXPERIENCED, AND THEY LONGED FOR THE FORTITUDE TO FACE THE PERSONAL, CHALLENGES THAT LAY AHEAD.
1. THAT’S WHY MILLIONS STOPPED THAT SPRING DAY TO LISTEN TO ONE MAN SPEAK.
C. IT WAS THE UNMISTAKABLE VOICE OF PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, SPEAKING ON THE OCCASION OF BEGINNING HIS SIXTH YEAR AS PRESIDENT.
D. WITH THIS COUNTRY COMING OUT OF AN ECONOMIC DEPRESSION AN...
In Peggy Noonan’s book When Character Was King, she tells about a meeting between President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. It was their first meeting as world leaders and Bush wanted to be sure they connected-- that they looked for depth of soul and character, not simply had a political meeting. Bush brought up a story he had read about the Russian president. Putin’s mother had given him a Christian cross that he had had blessed while in Jerusalem. Bush had been touched by the story. Putin told a story in response. He had taken to wearing the cross, and one day had set it down in a house he had been visiting. Strangely, the house had burned down, and all Putin could think about was that his cross was lost in the rubble. He motioned for a worker to come to him, so he could ask him to look for the cross. The worker walked over to Putin, stretched out his hand, and showed him the already recovered cross. Putin told Bush, “It was as if something meant for me to have the cross,” inferring that he believed in a higher power. Bush replied, “Mr. Putin, President Putin, that’s what it’s all about—that’s the story of the cross.” --The story of the cross is that God intended it just for you.
THREE PIECES OF BREAD: PASSOVER
In a Jewish home (at Passover) the Father places three pieces of matzot bread inside a cloth. The middle of the three pieces is broken. Part is wrapped in cloth with the remaining two, and the other broken part is hidden.
Jewish people have many views as to what the symbolism might be, but for Christians, and also for Messianic Jews who worship Jesus as Messiah, there is no confusion as to what it symbolises. Three pieces of bread – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – one of them is broken – Jesus, and it is hidden in a cloth – reminding us of the grave clothes used to wrap the body of Jesus.
LOVED, TO BE LOVE
One of the neatest gifts I've ever received was this little, hand towel. I was given this during my seminary commencement, and have cherished it ever since. The towel has a little saying on it: "Blessed to be a blessing" Isaiah 61:1. Isaiah 61:1-2 says: "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives... to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn."
Days after we arrived here, I unpacked my boxes, and placed this towel on my bookshelf. I've kept it there to serve as a reminder of God's calling on my life. And, as I gazed upon this towel these last, few days, I've thought, Yes, I am blessed, and for that I need to be a blessing to others. But more than this, I am also so loved by God, and because I am loved by him, I need to love because of him. For, without the love of Christ, what does it mean to be a blessing anyway?
You know, in some ways, I think it would be equally fitting if the towel read, "Loved, to be love" (John 13:34).
I WILL TELL YOUR NAME- COMMUNION MEDITATION
Roland Allen tells about a veteran missionary who came up to him one day after he had delivered his sermon. The missionary introduced himself and said, "I was a medical missionary for many years in India. And I served in a region where there was progressive blindness. People were born with healthy vision, but there was something in that area that caused people to lose their sight as they matured."
But this missionary had developed a process which would arrest progressive blindness. So people came to him, and he performed his operation. They would leave realizing that they had been spared a life of blindness because of this missionary.
He said that they never said, "Thank you," because that phrase was not in their dialect. Instead, they spoke a word that meant, "I will tell your name." Wherever they went, they would tell the name of the missionary who had cured their blindness. They had received something so wonderful that they eagerly proclaimed it.
Communion is also a time of proclamation. At this table we proclaim the most important event in human history-- the event that saves us from a life of spiritual blindness. And when we take these elements, we ’Tell of His name’ and proclaim our gratitude for...
Near the end of his life, the great emperor Napoleon was talking to a historian. The historian said, “What was the happiest day of your life? Was it the day of your victory at Lodi? Was it the day you entered Vienna? Was it the day you marched through Berlin in triumph? Or was it the day you were crowned emperor?” Napoleon said, “It was none of these things. The happiest day in all my life was the day of my first communion. I felt so close to God. I’d do anything to get that feeling back again”
Some congregations, I understand, have even dropped the communion service from the regular morning worship hour, just inviting those who wish to partake to go to another room for the Lord’s Supper after the service or serving it during the week. The reasoning, I’m told, is that the strange practice of taking the loaf and cup frightens away “seekers” (formerly known as sinners).
Don’t they realize that the Lord’s Supper is the greatest evangelistic tool we have? Paul says through the proper observance of the Supper “you proclaim the death of the Lord till He comes” (I Corinthians 11:26). The Communion service is certainly a greater aid to evangelism than a cross on a church building, on the baptistery wall, or on a necklace.
Robert Tinsky was reared in Judaism. Dissatisfied spiritually, he visited a Christian Church for the first time, seeking some religious truth. He was astounded by the observance of the Lord’s Supper. He didn’t understand it. He asked some young people seated near him what it me...