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Summary: 8 of 10 of the series, Supernatural Transformation. Jesus faced many difficult times in His ministry here on earth but probably none were more dark than the hour He was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yet, in this experience we find that Jesus had

HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS

Romans 12:12

Read at beginning of service:

Romans 12:12 (NIV)

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

INTRODUCTION

Matthew 26:46-56 (NIV)

46 Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!" 47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him." 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for." Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" 55 At that time Jesus said to the crowd, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

William Rathje likes garbage. This Harvard-educated researcher is convinced we can learn a lot from the trash dumps of the world. Archaeologists have always examined trash to study a society. Rathje does the same; he just eliminates the wait. The Garbage Project, as he calls his organization, travels across the continent, excavating landfills and documenting our eating habits, dress styles, and economic levels. Rathje is able to find meaning in our garbage.

His organization documented that the average household wastes 10 percent to 15 percent of its solid food. The average North-American produces half-a-pound of trash per day, and the largest landfill in North America, located near New York City, has enough trash to fill the Panama Canal. According to Rathje, trash decomposes more slowly than we thought it did. He found a whole steak from 1973 and readable newspapers from the Truman presidency. Rathje learns a lot be looking at our junk.

(quoted in Just Like Jesus, by Max Lucado, p. 127-128)

What do you think it would be like to be a garbologist? When he gives a speech, is the address referred to as "trash talk"? Are his staff meetings designated as "rubbish reviews"? Are his business trips called "junkets"? When he daydreams about his work, does his wife tell him to get his mind out of the garbage?

While some of those questions are humorous in the asking – there are some questions for which the question would not be so humorous. For example, "Would this job smell?"

Rathje’s attitude toward trash is intriguing. Think about it for a moment. Rathje doesn’t view garbage the way you and I view it. To him garbage is more than trash.

What if we learned to do the same? What if we changed the way we view the garbage that comes our way? After all, don’t you endure your share of rubbish? Snarled traffic. Computer foul-ups. Postponed vacations.

And then there are the days that we all face sometimes when the dump couldn’t hold all the garbage coming our way: hospital bills, divorce papers, pay cuts, betrayals, income tax returns! What do you do when an entire truck of sorrow is dumped on you? When a terrible tragedy is dumped in your lap?

On Rathje’s office wall is a framed headline he found in a paper: "Gold in Garbage." Rathje, the garbologist, finds treasure in trash. Jesus, our Savior, does the same. When everyone else perceived a great calamity, Jesus saw an opportunity. Remember this: Because Jesus saw what others didn’t, he found what others missed.

Early in his ministry, Jesus said this about our vision:

Matthew 6:22-23 (NIV)

22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 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!

In other words, how we look at life determines how we live out life. But then, Jesus didn’t just say this – He lived this.

Consider for a moment the darkest most bleak time of your life. What was running through your mind? Despair and confusion mixed with the mind set of giving up? Now consider the darkest night in history, the night before the death of Christ.

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