6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: In this sermon based on a chapter from Max Lucado's book Just Like Jesus, we learn how to have a hope-filled heart like Jesus.


A. Peter Robinson, former speech writer for Ronald Reagan, wrote a book titled How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life.

1. Robinson relates a lunch meeting he held with Edwin Meese, who had served in many official capacities within the Reagan administration, including Attorney General.

2. Robinson asked Meese about one of Reagan’s favorite jokes.

3. Meese replied. “Sure I remember it. If I heard him tell it once, I heard him tell it a thousand times.”

4. The joke concerns twin boys.

5. Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities — one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist — their parents took them to a psychiatrist.

6. First the psychiatrist treated the pessimist.

a. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys.

b. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears.

c. “What’s the matter?” the psychiatrist asked, baffled. “Don’t you want to play with any of the toys?”

d. “Yes,” the little boy bawled, “but if I did I’d only break them.”

7. Next the psychiatrist treated the optimist.

a. Trying to dampen his out look, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure.

b. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist.

c. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands.

d. “What do you think you’re doing?” the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist.

e. “With all this manure,” the little boy replied, beaming, “there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

8. “Reagan told the joke so often,” Meese said, chuckling, “that it got to be kind of a joke with the rest of us. Whenever something would go wrong, somebody on the staff would be sure to say, ‘There must be a pony in here somewhere.’ ”

9. So chapter one of Robinson’s book is titled, “The Pony In the Dung Heap - When Life Buries You, Dig.”

B. William Rathje likes garbage.

1. This Harvard-educated researcher is convinced we can learn a lot from the trash dumps of the world.

a. Archaeologists have always examined ancient trash to study ancient civilizations.

b. Rathje does the same; he just eliminates the wait.

c. The Garbage Project, which is what he calls his organization, travels across our continent excavating landfills and documents our eating habits, dress styles, and economic levels.

d. Rathje is able to find meaning in our garbage.

2. I wonder what it is like to be a garbagologist?

a. Are his speeches are filled with “trash talk.”

b. Do his staff meetings include rubbish reviews.

c. Are his business trips are called “junkets.”

d. And when he is daydreaming about his work, does his wife have to remind him to get his mind out of the garbage.

3. Though I prefer to leave the dirty work to Rathje, his attitude toward trash is helpful for us.

a. What if we learned to have a similar attitude about the garbage that comes our way?

b. After all, don’t we endure our share of rubbish? Snarled traffic, computer crashes, and automobile mishaps.

c. There are days when a dumpster couldn’t hold all the garbage we face: hospital bills, divorce papers, pink slips, and heartbreaking betrayals.

4. On Rathje’s office wall is a framed headline he found in a paper. It reads “Gold in Garbage.”

a. He finds his treasure in trash, and Jesus did the same.

I. Jesus Had a Hope-Filled Heart

A. What everyone else perceived as calamity, Jesus saw as opportunity.

1. Whether it was the man born blind or being caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw what others didn’t and found what others missed.

2. Jesus taught that, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Mt. 6:22-23)

3. In other words, how we look at life determines how we live life.

4. Jesus did much more than articulate this principle, he applied it in His own life.

B. On the night before his death, a veritable landfill of woes tumbled on Jesus.

1. The period between the Gethsemane prayer and the mock trial contained one of the darkest scenes in the history of human drama.

2. Even though the entire episode couldn’t have totaled more than five minutes, the event had enough badness to fill a thousand dumpsters.

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