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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 –
D. Greg Ebie
We can see in our national headlines the power of unity to fulfill a common goal. Each of us will never forget what happened September 11, 2001. Out of that terrible day we saw our nation join together in unity. President George W. Bush had the support of the nation as he led the nation into the war against the terrorist who murdered so many innocent Americans. Let’s go get ’em!
But now nearly 9 month later we’ve started pointing fingers. What did our president know before the attacks? What could the government have done to prevent the terrorist attacks? The unity that was born through terror is unraveling. We have forgotten who our enemy is.
The same happens within the church. We can so easily begin to point fingers at other "sheep;" we become critical of the "shepherd." All the while we forget that we have a common enemy outside the walls of the church. Satan seeks to "steal kill and destroy". Let’s not forget who the enemy is.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could.
To where it bent in the undergrowth,
Then I took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Has choosing the Christian life made all the difference for you?
The Assyrians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans had their many gods—gods of war, gods of industry, gods of agriculture, gods of cities, gods of towns, and various others. But in all of paganism’s galaxy of gods, there never was one called “god of hope.” That is scarcely surprising. For in that ancient world, hope had become a despised delusion, long before our Lord was born in Bethlehem. The f...
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BENNIE DEMERCHANT: GOD IN OUR DESPERATE PLACES
Brother Bennie Demerchant tells the story of an incredibly desperate place in his book Full Throttle in the chapter called "Extinguished Candles." The work in Brazil had been very productive with churches being established and converts being won. But in August 1976 he would face one of the darkest trials of his life.
He was invited to come and preach at a rally 165 miles east of Manaus and the only way to get there was by his seaplane. So on the afternoon of August 31, 1976, Brother Demerchant, Sister Margaret Calhoun, and a young preacher, Jose Cinque, boarded the plane to go to the rally.
About eight miles away from the city, a rain shower along with heavy winds, overtook them soon after takeoff. In the middle of that storm, the engine stalled and the plane plummeted toward a bay of water. The storm was whipping the winds into six-foot waves and down the plane bolted toward them. He managed to land upright but the storm surge caught one of the wings and cartwheeled the plane. The plane begins to sink with all of them trapped in the plane. Somehow Brother Demerchant made it to the back of the plane and punched out a window and swam to the surface. But Jose and Sister Margaret could not get out and drowned despite their efforts to get them to the surface.
Unable to free them, a boat from the shore managed to tow the plane to the shore. Brother Demerchant said that when they unloaded the bodies of this young man and young woman they had to lay them on a boat ramp until the police and fire department arrived. He said that it seemed like an eternity before they finally got there.
The next three days were difficult at best as he went through all the arrangements of taking care of Jose's funeral and shipping the body of Margaret Calhoun back to the states. But during this time the media in Brazil had a field day. Some creative reporter wrote the crash had been on purpose for the sole reason of collecting insurance settlements. Others dreamed up other stories that were meant to totally destroy Brother Demerchant in Brazil.
He felt so betrayed because some of the prominent members of the community whom he had helped to fly many thousands of miles for medical reasons turned their backs on him. The loss of those two lives exhausted him and he could not sleep and discouragement shouted at him to give up and quit!
But in the early morning hours of September 3, he wept and prayed earnestly as he questioned God. "Why, why, why, Lord, would You allow this to happen when it seemed the future was so bright?" Suddenly a tall man in white appeared in the door of the room. He approached Brother Demerchant, turned sideways, and slightly bent his shoulders. He looked down at Brother Demerchant as he placed his hand on his shoulder.
"Have I not called you to this country to preach the Gospel? I am pilot-in-command of your life. Get up and go on with the work. I will bless you and the work as never before!" He turned and went out the door.
Brother Demerchant wrote that a calmness and relief came over him. A tremendous load had been lifted. He felt light on his feet and even giddy in believing what that man had told him. Fearlessness buoyed him. He knew that thousands had heard of the accident and were praying for them, but this incident engraved itself permanently in his mind.
There is more to the story but needless to say, God always meets us in our desperate places and it will be for the ultimate glory of God!
(From a sermon by Philip Harrelson, Desperate Places, 8/6/2010)
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THE MISSION OF DAVID LIVINGSTONE
The modern missionary movement really got started about 150 years ago with people who were concerned about the continent of Africa. There was a Scottish preacher by the name of Robert Moffatt who was serving in South Africa. He returned to Scotland to try to enlist more missionaries. On a cold, rainy night, he went into a little church in Scotland. To his dismay, the only people in the service that night were women. Back in those days, women didn't go alone to the mission field. He started to cancel his message, because there were no prospective missionaries there, but instead he preached to them about the need for the Lord of the harvest to send forth more laborers. He made this statement, "Every morning when I get up and look at the horizon, I see the smoke from a thousand villages where the name of Christ has never been heard."
Robert Moffatt didn't know there was a teenager in that service. He was hidden up in the organ loft where his job was to pump the bellows for the pipe organ. This teenage boy, standing up in the organ chamber, heard every word he said, and he was haunted by that phrase, "The smoke from a thousand villages where the name of Christ has never been heard." So this young man decided he would become a missionary. His name, by the way, was David Livingstone.
He became a medical doctor and went to Africa. He was not content to stay in South Africa, where there were few native Africans; instead he explored the inner continent. He was a great missionary and a great explorer. He was the first white man to traverse the continent of Africa from east to west. He discovered Victoria Falls. He traveled over 29,000 miles and mapped one million square miles of previously uncharted territory.
When David Livingstone first began his ministry there, some of the native tribes opposed him. One particular warlike tribe said they were going to kill him and everyone in his party. One afternoon as they were setting up camp, word was out that these warriors had been tracking him all day, and they were outside the camp and they were going to attack and kill everyone when it got dark. I have the words David Livingstone wrote in his journal that night on January 14, 1856.
"It is evening. I feel much turmoil and fear in the prospect of having all of my plans knocked on the head by savages who are just now outside the camp." Those who studied his handwriting said you could even see the fear in the way he wrote the letters. He wrote, "But Jesus said, 'All power is given unto me in heaven and earth, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the ends of the earth.'" Livingstone wrote, "This is the word of a gentleman of most strict and sacred honor, so that's the end of my fear. I feel quiet and calm now." Even his letters are straight now.
They didn't attack that night. Later the tribe was brought to faith in Christ. A couple of years later, David Livingstone asked the chief of the tribe, "Do you remember the night you were tracking my party?"
"We had heard rumors you were going to attack us."
The chief said, "That's right, we were ready to attack the camp that night and kill you and everyone else."
David Livingstone asked, "Why didn't you attack?"
The chief said, "When we got close to the camp, we looked and saw 47 warriors surrounding your camp with swords in their hands."
David Livingstone was baffled. They didn't have any guards, any warriors.
Later when he was on furlough in Scotland, he shared this story at a church that was supporting him. A man came up to him afterwards with his prayer journal. He said, "Look, I wrote it down, January 14, 1856, was that the night?" David Livingstone said, "Yes." The man said, "That night a group of men came to pray for you. We prayed for your protection. I wrote it down. There were 47 men praying that night for you."
David Livingstone got so immersed into the Dark Continent most people thought he was dead because they had not heard from him for years. The New York Times hired Henry Stanley, an explorer, to search out Africa and find him. Finally Henry Stanley ventured in on this one camp, and there was the only white man for miles and miles around. In that classic statement, he walked up to David Livingstone and said, "Mr. Livingstone, I presume?"
Henry Stanley was a journalist, not a Christian, but he developed a friendship with Livingstone and was led to Christ. I love what Stanley said about Livingstone. "He converted me to Christ, and he wasn't even trying to do so." What a mark of a Christian man.
Stanley tried to get Livingstone to return back to civilization to receive medical treatment, but he refused. He wrote, "I am a missionary, heart and soul. God had only one son, and he was a missionary and a physician. A poor, poor imitation of him I am, or wish to be. In this service I hope to live; in it I wish to die."
Some of you, have been to London, England and perhaps have toured Westminster Cathedral. There in the floor David Livingstone, this great missionary explorer, is buried. What few people know is that that's just his body. His heart is not buried there, because not long after Stanley left, when Livingstone was 60 years old, the people in his camp heard a noise in his tent and went in at 3 a.m. There was Livingstone on his knees in prayer, dead. According to his wishes and his written instructions, his heart was removed from his body, and his heart was buried in Africa. Because, he said, "My heart has always been here, and this is where I want my heart to stay." They shipped his body back, and it is buried in Westminster Cathedral, but his heart will always be buried in Africa.
(From a sermon by Bob Joyce, Putting Your Heart Where Your Money Is, 8/4/2011)
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IF WE'D ONLY JOINED HANDS SOONER
A number of years ago in Canada, a little two-year-old girl wandered away from her neighborhood. It was a cold, winter day. Her parents alerted the neighbors and they saw some tracks in the snow, but there were a lot of other tracks, so for several hours the searchers went in all different directions calling her name. They didn’t find her. A little before sunset one of the men said, "Instead of all working separately, let’s join hands and form a long line and walk through the field together. That way we cannot miss a square foot."
That’s what they did. They joined hands and together walked as one long line calling that little girl’s name. Tragically, they found her frozen body curled up. One of the men said with great anguish, "Oh, if we had only joined hands sooner.
(From a sermon by Bob Joyce, Like Lucy, 8/4/2011)
Goodness or Just a Smelly Gas! (08.23.05--Under Pressure!--Romans 15:14)
I’ve always been intrigued by LP gas tanks. I guess that it is that mystery of the unseen and the unanticipated that causes the mystique.
Around Beech Springs we have a number of them. There’s one in my workshop tied to the heater we use in the winter to warm the garage. Then there’s the smaller canister connected to the barbecue. And, finally, there’s the even smaller tube connected to the soldering gun. In each case there’s this mystery substance called LP gas contained under pressure within the tank just waiting to blast out and provide heat and light. Is it a liquid inside of the tank or already a gas? What makes the tank heavier when it is filled? When you shake a full tank you don’t here any sloshing. Yet, since when does a gas weigh so much?
I suppose if I were up on my chemistry or physics I would have had this figured out long ago. Nevertheless, never having had the occasion to investigate it beyond speculation, I will be content to remain mystified and satisfied by what happens when I simply open the valve.
In a way each one of us is like those LP tanks. Sometimes the only way of knowing what is on the inside is to rely on what the evidence indicates when, under pressure, some event or circumstance turns the valve and releases the pressure we so often feel on the inside. Robert Schmidgall writes: “The Scriptures often exhort us to be filled with various godly virtues--which means what? How do we know if we are “full of goodness” (Rom. 15:14), for example?
Think a moment about a water-saturated sponge. If we push down with our finger even slightly, water runs out onto the table. We immediately know what fills the interior pockets of the sponge. The same is true of ourselves. We can tell what fills us on the inside by what comes...
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TRESPASSES AND DEBTS
The story is told of two congregations that were located only a few blocks from each other in a small community. They thought it might be better if they would merge and become one united, larger, and more effective body rather than two struggling churches. Good idea ... but they were not able to pull it off. The problem? They could not agree on how they would recite "The Lord's Prayer." One group preferred "forgive us our trespasses," while the other group demanded "forgive us our debts."
So, as the local newspaper reported, "One church went back to its trespasses while the other returned to its debts."
(From a sermon by Bob Joyce, It's About the Kingdom, 8/4/2011)
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"ALI KISSED 'EM!"
Former boxing writer Harold Conrad visited a women's prison with heavyweight fighter Muhammad Ali. "All the inmates lined up," wrote Conrad. "They were ooh-ing and aah-ing as he went along. There were some good-looking ones. But he kissed only the ugly ones." After they left the prison, Conrad asked the fighter to explain why he chose to kiss only those women. "Because no one ever kisses 'em," responded the man who called himself The Greatest. "Now they can remember that Ali kissed 'em!"
Every human being needs to be loved. Surely the church should be the one place where love is evidenced by warm affection for one another.
(From a sermon by Freddy Fritz, Final Greetings, 5/25/2012)