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The Sunflower is probably the most amazing flowers God created. They literally follow the sun. No I don’t know about you, but one the most amazing things I have seen is a field of sunflowers. Watching one follow the sun through is cute. Watching hundreds in absolute unison follow the sun is actually quite incredible. Something I found out recently, is that Sunflowers continue tracking the suns direction long after sun set. Through 360 degree’s they ensure that they are always oriented in the direction of the sun. Their unity is totally dependant on one thing. Their relationship to the sun.
"Leslie Weatherhead tells of a little boy who was admitted to an orphanage after his parents were killed. One of the first items on the agenda was to find him a new set of clothes. He was given a new pair of pants, a new shirt, and a pair of shoes that shinned as he saw his face in its glow.
Lastly, he was offered a new hat. But he refused to take it. He hung on to his worse- for the-wear—hat. Finally the Sister was able to coax him into trying on the new cap. He tried it on, liked it, but then did something very funny. He reached inside his old cap and tore the lining out and placed it in his pocket.
Noticing the Sister had a puzzled look on her face, he said said, "The lining is a part of my mother’s dress; it’s all I’ve got left of her and somehow it seems to bring her back."
I used to be petrified of making ‘phone calls; so it seems funny that I should later spend 5 years doing ‘phone based mortgage arrears collecting (91 to 96)! I can remember being 16 or 17, picking up the phone, knowing that I needed to dial, not knowing what I would say when the phone got answered at the other end, panicking, and then eventually not even making the call at all. I think sometimes I am a bit like that when it comes to telling people about my faith in Jesus. I know I want to do it and I know I need to do it but I worry about what I will say, worry about the reaction I might get and then sometimes do nothing.
Peter & John couldn’t have faced a more hostile group.
Open Our Eyes...?
I have a book called 'Tall Tales of a Big God' written by a man called Maurice Smith. Maurice is (or at least was) an international Christian Speaker travelling all over the UK, and Europe and particularly the USA. And his book is a compilation of some of the most embarrassing moments of his ministry.
He says that there was one time when he was speaking at a meeting in Glasgow -- and he was always accompanied by his guitarist friend called Dave -- who would lead the worship at these meetings.
And at this particular meeting as he was giving out their 'Hallelujah' Song sheet so that people could sing along, he came to this young woman, who in spite of several attempts, refused to take a chorus sheet from him. All she would say, very sweetly, was 'no thank you... no thank you'! He says that she didn't open her eyes but was obviously in that state of smiling ecstasy so well known to swaying charismatics. But Maurice was nothing if not persistent and he kept on insisting that this young girl take a chorus sheet from him. Until that is one of the leaders whispered into his ear, 'She's blind, Maurice'.
"MAYBE IF YOU LISTENED..."
In the middle of an argument, my Mum would say something like this - "Maybe if you LISTENED for a change, you would understand what I am trying to tell you!" So often I am not so much listening but simply waiting for the other person to finish so that I can get across my point of view. Not really a very teachable position to be in.
In Matthew 13 Jesus says "LISTEN!" with even greater authority than my Mum, and that's saying something. He addresses this problem of how different people are responding to Him. I can get caught up in all the arguments, but the real issue is to do with LISTENING. MAYBE IF I LISTENED... He is obviously about to mention something important, but as I read, it doesn't seem all that significant. Just a simple story. The question is "Am I going to miss what He is trying to tell me because of my preconceived ideas about Him or my own points of view?"
I read the story of a man who got saved years ago in South Georgia. But as he grew up and moved away, he got away from the Lord. Later on in his life, he went back to his home and visited the old county Church that he used to attend. As he went into the Church alone, memories flowed his mind and soul about the time he was saved in the Church during a Revival. He reminded good times he had experienced in the Church. He the, began, to cry out, “Rekindle my fire Lord, Rekindle my fire, Lord, do it again.”
This ought to be the cry of every Christian today, rekindle our fire, Lord, do it again.
True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. Helen Keller
You will never be happier than you expect. To change your happiness, change your expectation. Bette Davis
Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords. Samuel Johnson
Happiness is man’s greatest aim in life. Tranquility and rationality are the cornerstones of happiness. Epicurus
He taught that the point of all one’s actions was to attain pleasure (conceived of as tranquility) for oneself, and that this could be done by limiting one’s desires and by banishing the fear of the gods and of death. Epicurus’ gospel of freedom from fear proved to be quite popular, and communities of Epicureans flourished for centuries after his death.
Sermon Central Staff
COMING TO GRIPS WITH THE SOVEREIGN WILL OF GOD
I want to tell you a story about my friend, Jim Pence. Jim is an author who has written several books. But his first novel was titled "Blind Sight" and was published by Tyndale a number of years ago. Jim wrote this book, but he really didn't think it was all that of a success. Many writers write their first book and it's a springboard to others. It's a great book, but it wasn't his favorite work.
But for some reason, he wrote this book. Recently Jim emailed this story to me about his book:
"This past spring, two young men broke into Terry C's home before dawn. They shot him and killed his wife, and then went upstairs and murdered the couple's two young sons. They then set fire to the house and left the family for dead. Although he had been shot five times, Terry escaped through the bathroom window and crawled three hundred yards to a neighbor's. To make matters worse his daughter was implicated in the crime. Overnight, Terry lost his entire family.
"A few months later, Terry went back to his property. The remains of the house had been bulldozed and little was left. Torn with grief, and unable to understand why God had taken his family and allowed him to survive, Terry cried out to God, "Why did you take my family? Why didn't you take me, too? I don't understand."
"As he stood there, Terry noticed a scrap of paper stuck to the trunk of a nearby tree. He went over and picked it up. The paper was part of a page from my novel, "Blind Sight." The edges of the page were scorched and it was difficult to read. But the words were like a direct message from God:
"'I couldn't understand why You would take my family and leave me behind to struggle along without them. And I guess I still don't totally understand that part of it. But I do believe that You're sovereign; You're in control...and I know that You've brought Justine and those children into my life. And they need me. Lord, You could have taken my life that day, but You spared it. And You've gone on sparing it. It doesn't matter what happens to me now, but if I can help them, please let me do it.'
"Those paragraphs turned Terry's life around. He found the strength to go on and is now sharing his testimony in churches around the country. When he speaks, he brings the page from my novel, now preserved in a frame, and shows it to the congregation.
"Not only had the house burned, but the site had been bulldozed and the debris hauled off. What little was left had been exposed to the weather for months. And out of a nearly 400 page book, all that remained was a brief passage where a man who had lost his family came to grips with the Sovereignty of God and decided to move forward.
That scrap of paper lay there against a tree trunk as if waiting for Terry C: a man who had lost his family and desperately needed to come to grips with the Sovereign goodness of God.
(From a sermon by Daniel Darling, Joseph, The Unsung Hero of Christmas - Message Two -- 2008, 2/17/2011)