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1 John 2:4-2:5
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What Does Hope Do For Mankind?
Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
Hope energizes when the body is tired.
Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.
Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.
Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
Hope endures hardship when no on is caring.
Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.
- John Maxwell from Think on These Things –
DEAREST JESUS, HOLY CHILD
Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth.
SOURCE: Martin Luther
There’s a famous painting by Rembrandt’s of The Three Crosses. Those who view have their attention drawn first to the centre cross on which Jesus died. Then they look at the crowd gathered around the foot of that cross, impressed by the various facial expressions and actions of the people involved in the awful crime of crucifying the Son of God. At the edge of the painting there’s another figure, almost hidden in the shadows. Art critics say this is a representation of Rembrandt himself, for he recognised that by his sins he helped nail Jesus to the cross.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13:8
CYMBALA'S EASTER STORY
Jim Cymbala preaches at a church in the slums of New York. He tells the following story: It was Easter Sunday and I was so tired at the end of the day that I just went to the edge of the platform, pulled down my tie and sat down and draped my feet over the edge. It was a wonderful service with many people coming forward. The counselors were talking with these people.
As I was sitting there I looked up the middle aisle, and there in about the third row was a man who looked about fifty, disheveled, filthy. He looked up at me rather sheepishly, as if saying, “Could I talk to you?”
We have homeless people coming in all the time, asking for money or whatever. So as I sat there, I said to myself, though I am ashamed of it, “What a way to end a Sunday. I’ve had such a good time, preaching and ministering, and here’s a fellow probably wanting some money for more wine.”
He walked up. When he got within about five feet of me, I smelled a horrible smell like I’d never smelled in my life. It was so awful that when he got close, I would inhale by looking away, and then I’d talk to him, and then look away to inhale, because I couldn’t inhale facing him. I asked him, “What’s your name?”
“How long have you been on the street?”
“How old are you?”
“Thirty-two.” He looked fifty--hair matted; front teeth missing; wino; eyes slightly glazed.
“Where did you sleep last night, David?”
I keep in my back pocket a money clip that also holds some credit cards. I fumbled to pick one out thinking; I’ll give him some money. I won’t even get a volunteer. They are all busy talking with others. Usually we don’t give money to people. We take them to get something to eat.
I took the money out. David pushed his finger in front of me. He said, “I don’t want your money. I want this Jesus, the One you were talking about, because I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die on the street.”
I completely forgot about David, and I started to weep for myself. I was going to give a couple of dollars to someone God had sent to me. See how easy it is? I could make the excuse I was tired. There is no excuse. I was not seeing him the way God sees him. I was not feeling what God feels.
But oh, did that change! David just stood there. He didn’t know what was happening. I pleaded with God, “God, forgive me! Forgive me! Please forgive me. I am so sorry to represent You this way. I’m so sorry. Here I am with my message and my points, and You send somebody and I am not ready for it. Oh, God!”
Something came over me. Suddenly I started to weep deeper, and David began to weep. He fell against my chest as I was sitting there. He fell against my white shirt and tie, and I put my arms around him, and there we wept on each other. The smell of His person became a beautiful aroma. Here is what I thought the Lord made real to me: If you don’t love this smell, I...
“Life is war. That’s not all it is. But it is always that. Our weakness in prayer is owing largely to our neglect of this truth. Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief. It is not surprising that prayer malfunctions when we try to make it a domestic intercom to call upstairs for more comforts in the den. God has given us prayer as a wartime walkie-talkie so that we can call headquarters for everything we need as the kingdom of Christ advances in the world. Prayer gives us the significance of front-line forces, and gives God the glory of a limitless Provider. The one who gives the power gets the glory. Thus prayer safeguards the supremacy of God in missions while linking us with endless grace for every need.” (John Piper, “Let the Nations Be Glad”)
What is servanthood? It’s a question we have to answer because today the concept has largely been abandoned by our culture. In his book, The Jesus Style, Gayle D. Erwin described servanthood this way:
"A servant’s job is to do all he can to make life better for others - to free them to be everything they can be. A servant’s first interest is not in himself but others … Servanthood is a loving choice we make to minister to others."
Gayle D. Erwin, The Jesus Style, 48
The second law of Thermodynamics, in basic lay-people terms says that, the most probable state for any natural system is one of disorder.
All natural systems degenerate when left to themselves. “Things fall apart.”
According to this law, the universe should fall apart – but it does not! What this verse says is that Jesus is the glue that holds it all together. Jesus did not create the world, and then exit, leaving us to our own devices to keep it together, no, he created the universe, and he sustains it!
The book “Will Daylight Come?” by Richard Hoefler, illustrates the truth, that forgiveness frees and unforgiveness enslaves.
A little boy visiting his grandparents was given his first slingshot. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit his target. As he came back to grandma’s back yard, he spied her pet duck. On an impulse he took aim and let it fly. The stone hit its target.
The boy panicked. Desperately he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to look and see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.
After lunch that day, Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” But Sally said, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you, Johnny?” And she whispered to him, “Remember the duck!” So Johnny did the dishes.
Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing. Grandma said, “I’m sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper.” Sally smiled and said, “That’s all taken care of, Johnny wants to do it.” Again she whispered, “Remember the duck.” Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing.
After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s, he could...
Sermon Central Staff
Spurgeon use to tell a story about two men in a boat. They were caught in a very, very severe rapids and they were going to a place where there was a waterfall and even worse rapids and there was really no way, if they ever hit those rapids, that they would ever live. And they began to struggle for their lives. And as they were carried swiftly down stream, they were carried toward the perilous rocks and the falls and some men on the shore saw them and tried to save the two men and they threw a rope out. By this time the men had fallen out of the little boat, were struggling in the current.
One man caught the rope and was saved. At the same instant, said Spurgeon, the other man who could have seized the rope, in the panic of the moment, grabbed onto a log that was floating by and that was a fatal mistake. One man was drawn to the shore because he had a connection with the people on the land. The other clinging to a log was carried down through the rapids and never found again.
Now, you see, what faith does is faith gives you a connection with the shore. Faith gives you a connection to Jesus Christ. Grabbing a hold of anything else is grabbing a log. It doesn’t go anywhere but along with you to your doom.
(From a sermon by Tim Vamosi, Grow, Part Two, 8/18/2011)
The name Stradivarius is synonymous with fine violins. This is true because Antonius Stradivarius insisted that no instrument constructed in his shop be sold until it was as near perfection as human care and skill could make it. Stradivarius said, "God needs violins to send His music into the world, and if any violins are defective God’s music will be spoiled." His work philosophy was summed up in one sentence: "Other men will make other violins, but no man shall make a better one."
Antonius Stradivarius expected his workers to do their very best in producing violins.
How much more should we as Christians strive for excellence in the work assigned to us!