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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 –
On the Australian coat of arms is a picture of a emu and a kangaroo. These animals were chosen because they share a characteristic that appealed to our forefathers. Both the emu and kangaroo can move only forward, not back. The emu’s three-toed foot causes it to fall if it tries to go backwards, and the kangaroo is prevented from moving in reverse by its large tail. Those who truly choose to follow Jesus become like the emu and kangaroo, moving only forward, never back (Luke 9:62).
Years ago, Leslie Flynn penned a book called, Great Church Fights. In it he chronicled the way people in different churches would go after each other – all in the name of Jesus Christ. A young father heard a commotion out in his backyard, he looked outside and saw his daughter and several playmates in a heated quarrel. When he intervened, his daughter called back, “Dad, we’re just playing church!”
Salvation is free, ... but discipleship will cost you your life.
“August 22, 1741, was a sweltering day in the city of London. An elderly stooped-shouldered man wandered through the streets. His nightly aimless wandering through the streets of the city had become a familiar ritual. His angry mind raced back to the memories of great adulation and then looked at a future of seemingly hopeless despair. For forty years the bachelor had written operatic music which was the rave of royalty in both England and the entire continent. Honors had fallen at his feet. He was in demand everywhere. Then things changed quickly and drastically. Fellow musicians became jealous and bitter. Members of the royal court reacted strongly to his abrasive manner. A rival gained great success, and envy began to grow. As though that were not enough, a cerebral hemorrhage paralyzed his right side. He could no longer write. Doctors gave little hope for recovery.
The old composer traveled to France and began to soak in baths rumored to have miraculous powers. Doctors warned him about staying in the scalding water for such long periods of time but he ignored their advice. At one point, he stayed in for nine hours at a time. Gradually his weakened muscles began to receive new life. As his health improved, he once again began to write. Soon, to his amazement, his works were being received with rapturous applause. Honors again began to flow. Life seemed to be heading for the stars. But then he found himself in the pits once more.
Queen Caroline, who had been his staunch supporter, died. England found itself on hard economic times. Wasting heat to warm a theater was viewed as ridiculous. His shows were canceled. And now he found himself wandering aimlessly through the streets once again.
Having wondered where in the world God was, he wandered back home. Opening his door, he found a wealthy gentleman waiting in his living room. The man was Charles Gibbon, who had startled England by rewriting Shakespeare.
Gibbon explained that he had just finished writing a text for a musical that covered the entire Old and New Testament. He believed that the gifted musician was the man to set it to music. He gave the manuscript to the composer and challenged him to write. As he walked out the door, Gibbon turned long enough to say, ‘The Lord gave me those words.’
The great maestro scoffed at the audacity of the young man. No one had ever challenged George Frederick Handel to write something he had not thought of first. Handel’s temper was violent and he was a dominating presence among his enemies. Why had Gibbon not brought an opera that was more the composer’s cup of tea.
Indifferently he began to read. Suddenly portions of the passage leaped from the page. His eyes fell on such words as ‘He was despised, rejected of men…he looked for someone to have pity on him, but there was no man; neither found he any to comfort him.’ His eyes raced ahead to ‘He trusted in God…God did not leave his soul in hell…He will give you rest.’ And finally the words stopped at ‘O know that my redeemer liveth…rejoice…hallelujah.’
He picked up his pen and began to write. Music seemed to flow through his mind s though it had been penned up for years. Putting music to the script, he finished the first part in seven days. The second section was completed in six days and two days were given to fine-tuning the instrumentation. Thus, at the age of fifty seven, Handel completed the Messiah in a mere twenty-four days.
Many know that when the classical work was first performed in London, and the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ was reached, King George II stood because he was so moved. To this day people still rise to their feet as a sign of worship of God and admiration of this great work of art.
Handel, like Joseph, had to deal with the pits of life. But the strength to do so came from knowing the One who can overcome all of the pits. How about you? Do you know the God who is able to rescue you from the cisterns of life? Do you see His hand even in the pit in which you may find yourself? Perhaps the pit is merely a brief stopping place on the road to greatness.”
[As quoted in Robert E. Reccord. When Life is the Pits.(Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1987.) pp.44-46]
“Graffiti With Meaning!” Matthew 14: 22-24 Key verse(s): 23: “After he had dismissed the, he went up on a mountainside by himself to prayer. When evening came, he was there alone . . .”
“Isolation is not all that bad . . . it just depends on who you spend it with.” At first glance this seemingly contradictory phrase sounds a bit trite. But, when you examine it closely, it may contain more truth in just fifteen words than many volumes on the psychology of isolation can ever reveal. The author is unknown but I do know that it was a man and that he probably enjoyed camping and had spent a lot of time, perhaps alone, around the old campfire. The reason is, I discovered this wisdom some years ago scrawled in pencil on a the walls of a men’s vault toilet in a national forest camp grounds. I was so taken by it, that I went back later to copy it down in a notebook.
Most such “lavatory treasures” are there for purposes other than wisdom. However, this one struck me differently. I smiled as I read and reread it. Finally, I became intrigued. I began to search for the meaning that lay beneath the surface. Was the author of this graffiti glorifying self? Was he so possessed with his own image and being that he preferred his own company to that of anyone else? It gave me pause to think. I began to feel that the message had a deeper meaning, one that I was supposed to discover; one that I was supposed to understand and apply to my own life.
Of all the places to pray I had never imagined a vault toilet to qualify as one. But, when you think of it, it does provide the quiet and solitude that our Savior so often searched for when He needed to spend time alone with His Father in prayer. I guess after all that not all isolation produces paranoia, suicidal thoughts or aggressiveness. Not when it is time spent in the company of the Holy Spirit. It really just depends on who you are sharing your time of isolation with!
It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.
Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five. The biggest shark...ten feet long. But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred.
In Captain Eddie’s own words, "Cherry," that was the B- 17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, "read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off."
Now this is still Captian Rickenbacker talking..."Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food...if I could catch it."
And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice. You know that Captain Eddie made it.
And now you also know...that he never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset...on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast...you could see an old man walking...white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls...to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle...like manna in the wilderness. "The Old Man and the Gulls" from Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story by Paul Aurandt, 1977, quoted in Heaven Bound Living, Knofel Stanton, Standard, 1989, pp. 79-80.
We pause a moment to remember those who have given fully for the cause of our country today and those who have placed their lives on the line for each of us.
We know of another who gave His life a ransom for sin…let’s see what kind of warrior Jesus calls us to be.
CAN'T JUST SIT AROUND
The following is a true story. Larry Walters led a fairly boring normal life as a truck driver in southern California until the fateful day of July 2nd, 1982. On that day, Larry turned himself into a legend.
You see, ever since he was a boy Larry had dreamed of flying, but the US Air Force had turned him down from becoming a pilot due to his bad eyesight. After he was discharged from the military, he sat in his backyard watching jets fly overhead. It was torture to a man who felt the need to fly.
One day he could stand it no longer and so he hatched a scheme while sitting outside in his Sears lawnchair. He went out and purchased 45 weather balloons from an Army-Navy surplus store, tied them to his tethered lawnchair which he dubbed the Inspiration I. He then filled the four-foot-diameter balloons with helium. Then he strapped himself into his lawnchair with some sandwiches, a six-pack of Miller Lite, and a pellet gun. He figured he would pop a few of the many balloons when it was time to descend.
Larry's plan was to sever the anchor and lazily float up to a height of about 30 feet above his back yard, where he would enjoy a few hours of flight before coming back down. But unfortunately, Larry knew a lot more about truck driving than physics, and so things didn't work out quite as Larry planned. When his friends cut the cord anchoring the lawnchair to his Jeep, he did not float lazily up to 30 feet. Instead, he streaked into the LA sky as if shot from a cannon, pulled by the lift of 42 helium balloons holding 33 cubic feet of helium each. He didn't level off at 100 feet, nor did he level off at 1,000 feet. After climbing and climbing, he finally leveled off at 16,000 feet.
At that height he felt he couldn't risk shooting any of the balloons, lest he unbalance the load and really find himself in trouble. So he stayed there, drifting cold and frightened with his beer and sandwiches, three miles above the ground for more than 14 hours.
He crossed the primary approach corridor of LAX. Imagine the surprise of the air traffic...
"Those who doubt most, and yet strive to overcome their doubts, turn out to be some of Christ's strongest disciples."
Sermon Central Staff
Brian Simo is a race car driver, and most of you have probably never heard of him. However there is one thing about him with which you are probably familiar. In 1985 he created the "No Fear" clothing line and found an idea that appealed to many Americans.
We have a lot of respect for bravery and for those who are willing to take challenging risks. But when does "No Fear" really mean "Darn Fool"? Last week a woman fell to her death on a very steep day hike at Yosemite National Park. The hike does not require any special expertise, but it is challenging, and it should never be attempted if there is any chance of rain. The granite dome becomes very slick and dangerous in rainy weather. Still many hikers attempt the climb ill-prepared, over confident of their skills and of the weather conditions.
Today's Gospel lesson teaches us that "No Fear" is not just a decal or a T-shirt. It is not just a spirited hope of getting lucky. It is not at all about taking foolish risks. The real "No Fear" lifestyle is found in those, who like the Apostle Peter would say to Jesus, "Lord, Save me!"
(From a sermon by Michael Walther, Lord, Save Me!, 8/8/2011)