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1 Peter 1:3-1:10
1 John 2:3-2:9
2 Thessalonians 2:13-2:17
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)
There was a king who had all his world could afford. The thing he loved most, however, was to laugh.
Once while being entertained a jester came along wishing to join in the festival of activities and also wishing to perform for him. His opportunity came and he put the best comical show together he had ever done and the king never laughed so hard.
Once the activity was all over the king wanted to hire this jester to be his personal jester. Once hired the king in humor handed him a small stick and said, "You are the most foolish man alive. When you find someone more foolish than you, then you give them this stick," and the king laughed hartily.
After many years had passed by the king lay sick on his death bed ready to go at any moment. He called for his jester, for he wanted to laugh one more time before he died. When the jester was through he asked to speak to the king personally.
Once alone with the king the jester asked, "king where are you going?" The king responded, "on a far journey." The jester asked again, "and how do you plan to get there?" Again the king responded, "I don’t know." Then the jester pulled the stick from his back pocket and handed it to the king. The king was stunned and asked why he had given him the stick. The jester replied, "King today I have found a more foolish man than I. For you see, I only trifled with the things of life, but you have trifled with things of eternity!"
Chuck Swindoll in his book, Improving Your Serve, gives a memorable illustration:
Let’s pretend that you work for me. In fact, you are my executive assistant in a company that is growing rapidly. I’m the owner and I’m interested in expanding overseas. To pull this off, I make plans to travel abroad and stay there until the new branch office gets established. I make all the arrangements to take my family in the move to Europe for six to eight months, and I leave you in charge of the busy stateside organization. I tell you that I will write you regularly and give you direction and instructions.
I leave and you stay. Months pass. A flow of letters are mailed from Europe and received by you at the national headquarters. I spell out all my expectations. Finally, I return. Soon after my arrival I drive down to the office. I am stunned! Grass and weeds have grown up high. A few windows along the street are broken. I walk into the receptionist’s room and she is doing her nails, chewing gun, and listening to her favorite disco station. I look around and notice the wastebaskets are overflowing, the carpet has been vacuumed in weeks, and nobody seems concerned that the owner has returned.
I ask for you and someone in the crowded lounge area points down the hall and yells, “I think he’s down there.” Disturbed, I move in that direction and bump into you as you are finishing a chess game with our sales manager. I ask you to step into my office (which has been turned into a television room for watching afternoon soap operas).
“What in the world is going on, man?”
“What do ya’ mean?”
“Well, look at this place! Didn’t you get any of my letters?”
“Letters? Oh, yeah – sure, got every one of them. As a matter of fact … we have a letter study every Friday night since you left. We even divide all the personnel into small groups and discuss many of the things you wrote. Some of those things were really interesting.
You’ll be pleased to know that a few of us have actually committed to memory some of your sentences and paragraphs. One or two memorized an entire letter or two! Great stuff in those letters!”
“Okay, okay – you got my letters, you studied them and meditated on them, discussed them and even memorized them. BUT WHAT DID YOU DO ABOUT THEM?”
“Do? Uh – we didn’t do anything about them.”
For more from Chuck, visit http://www.insight.org
The movie King Arthur retells the legend of the great warrior king who ruled England in the dark ages. Arthur (Clive Owen) is a Christian of Roman origin, but his knights are all pagans who were forced into service at a young age. Arthur has won over their allegiance by his selfless leadership, but they have retained the religion of their youth.
In this scene, Arthur is preparing his supplies in a dimly lit stable. He’s about to lead his knights on their last perilous quest before they will each be granted their freedom. Arthur, who is yet be king, is frustrated that his superiors would send his knights on such a dangerous mission just before they are to be released from duty—so he takes his discouragement to God. He sets down the saddle he’s carrying and bows in prayer. Lancelot, emerging from the darkness, overhears him.
Lancelot asks, “Why do you always talk to God and not to me? Pray to whomever you p...
Next time you’re in an airport notice the difference between passengers who have confirmed tickets and those on standby (Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray 113). Those who have confirmed tickets are relaxed, their confident and expectant. Those on standby hang around the ticket counter, they pace and smoke, pace and smoke, pace and smoke…all because of uncertainty. God offers us freedom from the burden of uncertainty, so we can know for sure where we stand with God.
WE CAN OVERCOME
Take for example Egyptian hieroglyphics. In seminary I had plenty of brilliant folks for classmates, just amazing people. One man, Kevin was with us on our trip to the Holy Land. Kevin finishing his M.Div at Princeton and was soon on his way to Harvard for a Ph.D. in biblical languages. Kevin knew the standard Greek, Hebrew, Latin, German, French, Spanish and Ugaritic, but in his spare time Kevin taught himself Aramaic and Egyptian hieroglyphics. Egyptian hieroglyphics? This guy could read the stuff on the tombs and temples in Egypt. How cool was that? In fact, at one point he got into an argument with the Egyptian guide in Luxor about the meaning of a text. The guide became furious and then broke out in laughter - Kevin was the first person in 30 years of being a guide who could read the hieroglyphics. They were inseparable after that.
Kevin said that in the past, it was assumed that each glyph, or picture, stood for an idea or a whole thought. Wavy lines were assumed to mean ’water,’ a round disc to mean ’sun’ and an image of a bird flying meant ’flight.’ However, scholars now know that each glyph, or picture, stands for a sound. For example the image of a round disc stands for the sound ’Ra.’ It turns out that Egyptian hieroglyphics are just a complicated ancient alphabet, Egyptian hieroglyphics are simply ancient Egyptian Coptic language written. Kevin said that "all" he had to do was learn Egyptian Coptic, and then Egyptian hieroglyphics were easy.
I’m sure, just a piece of cake.
Yet, Kevin learned by imitation--once he knew the sounds, it was easy. Once we know the one who is love, even the most difficult thing can be overcome.
(From a sermon by Peter Loughman, "Old Is New" 1/28/2009)
FRIEND OF THE SON
Rick Warren talks about Ron Dunn, a friend of his, who took his young son to a carnival one time for his birthday. His son had picked six boys to go with him, so Ron bought a roll of tickets. Every line he'd come up to, he'd pull off seven tickets and give them to all the kids. When they got to the Ferris wheel, all of a sudden there was an eighth little kid with his hand out.
Ron said, "Who are you?"
The kid said, "I'm Johnny."
Ron said, "Who are you, Johnny?"
Johnny said, "I'm your son's new friend. And he said you would give me a ticket."
Ron asks, "Do you think I gave him one? Absolut...
“The Discipline of Delay!” 1 John 5:13-14 Key verse(s): 14:“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will he hear us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him.”
I don’t have time for this now! There is not a day in my life when that phrase, if not passing over my lips, is flitting about my consciousness like a careening moth. The internet is slow. “I don’t have time for this now!” The car won’t start. “I don’t have time for this now!” The dog needs to go out. “I don’t have time for this now!” “Dad, can you help me?” “I don’t . . .”
The internet is slow and you just can’t do the research that you wanted to do. So, there you sit. Eyes fixed on the monitor as that obnoxious “wheel” slowly grinds away. With each little revolution you can feel the heat beginning to rise through the narrow gap between neck and collar. Time is pushing itself past you and you can feel it literally escaping like hot gas. Like Mona Loa, each blurp and hiss of time literally heats the air around you. The eruption is near. Time is about to blast forth, wasted and useless it will lurch into space and there is no way of hanging on to it. It’s on a mission and you’re not booked. What a frustration. The time you had so carefully plotted out to “get something done” has escaped once again. A new allocation of time has appeared from out of nowhere and it isn’t the one you wanted or anticipated. “But, I was in a hurry and I wanted that time. This is no good! I don’t have time for THIS time!”
Everyone is in a hurry these days. Things are carefully planned out and allotted for their timeliness. Christians are no different. There is a “time” for everything. Everything, that is, except the reallocation of that time. That would require great patience and the ability to adapt and multi-task one’s way through life. For many of us, we simply don’t have the time to be delayed. In a hurry? Here’s some good advice from a recent article in Our Daily Bread. “The 19th-century preacher A.B. Simpson: ‘Beloved, have you ever thought that someday you will not have anything to try you, or anyone to vex you again? There will be no opportunity in heaven to learn or to show the spirit of patience, forbearance, and long-suffering. If you are to practice these things, it must be now. Yes, each day affords countless opportunities to learn patience. Let’s not waste them.’
God wants us to see results as we work for Him, but His first concern is our growth. That’s why He often withholds success until we have learned patience. The Lord teaches us this needed lesson through the blessed discipline of delay.” (Our Daily Bread)
For me, the worst part of delay is not the work that I don’t get done or the enjoyment that must be put on hold. The worst part of delay is that in the hold of that delay I fail to apply the time it affords me to do something else. Internet down? Why not take a trip over to the encyclopedia. Dog...