Summary: This sermon helps delve into the key theme of Titus: that the Gospel of Jesus makes a real difference. Specifically in this text, it is the tranforming, lasting, beauty of his word.
God’s Word: It’s a Beautiful Thing
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. . . what is beautiful to you?
For Tony Conza, it is a 6” sub.
(Short story of the Blimpie Guy)
Tony Conza embodies what American Dreams are made of. He started off small, working on Wall Street, but with no money, connections, or mentors. But with time, hard work, and taking some risk with a couple of college buddies, he created a 2100 store chain, where you can buy the famous Blimpie sub.
Even when financial troubles and poor management threatened to put Blimpie out of business; even with his own bank account depleted and his insurance policies cashed in, Conza found a way to survive.
He did it for the love of his dream, which is encapsulated in the Blimpie slogan:
Blimpie -"It’s a Beautiful Thing"-
For him, “It’s a beautiful thing” appeals to the heart as well as to the mind. It is also the Title of the book that details the achievement of his dream. It wasn’t money that motivated him, but the desire to see his dream fulfilled fueled the hard work necessary to achieve it.
(adapted and excerpted from http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471381470.html)
What is beautiful to you? Perhaps more than a 6 inch sub? Is it the spiraling football thrown by Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, or the gritty scrambling and last minute dishes of Bret Favre? Is it a shiny new set of tools, or a diamond necklace? Is beauty wrapped up in the beaming face of your spouse, or the Sunday school craft of your children?
Your definition of beautiful can be many things, and many things ARE beautiful. Beauty is bound within the nature of God and how he works, even transforming what appears useless into something useful.
God is in the habit of making things beautiful
In his book An Unstoppable Force, Erwin McManus shares the story of how prayers resulted in what can only be called a miraculous re-creation.
While ministering in South Dallas, McManus’s small congregation began to grow. Looking for a place to build a larger church building, the leadership spotted an acre of land for sale. Given its location near downtown Dallas, it seemed strange that the property was available. Excited at their good fortune, this small group of people—many on welfare—began to pray that the site would soon be theirs. Eventually, they were able to purchase the property after receiving financial help from an association of churches.
As the congregation began the process of obtaining building permits, they discovered the property had been declared "unbuildable." The acre of land in a prime location was nothing more than a worthless landfill. McManus grieved over this waste of precious time and money. He writes:
We had bought an acre of garbage. Several core samples were taken. From what I understood, they went at least twenty-five feet deep and found nothing but trash…All I could do was ask our congregation to pray with me and believe that God was with us and that he would even use the worst of human mistakes to perform the greatest of miracles.
After months of prayer, a woman from the congregation told McManus that since they had asked God to turn the land into something useful, surely it had been taken care of. Feeling God’s confirmation of her words, McManus asked for more core samples to be taken. This time the researchers found soil. McManus writes:
How did this happen? Was it because the core sample was in a different part of the land? Or could it be that God had actually performed a miracle and changed the landfill to good land? What I do know is that the same realtor who sold the property to me came back and offered me three times the amount he had sold it for once he heard the clearance to build had actually come through. What I do know is that the previous owners could not build on the property, but we could. What I do know is that we were told the property was worthless and unusable. What I cannot tell you is what happened beneath the ground at 2815 South Ervay Street. All I can tell you is what I know—and that is that God took my failure and performed a miracle. Today Cornerstone worships on that acre of land in a sanctuary built by our own hands. (Erwin McManus, An Unstoppable Force (Group, 2001), pp.151-153; submitted by John Beukema, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania)
Transition: Last week we took a look at Santa Claus and Jesus. We learned that Santa Claus was NOT really coming to town, but Jesus did, is, and will.
• Did, because he was born in Bethlehem and buried in Jerusalem: “When the grace of God appeared . . .”