Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: When life seems hopeless: beleieve in Jesus even when none of your friends do; believe in Jesus even if he delays his help; and believe in Jesus even in the face of death.

Women’s Issues (Mark 5:21-43)

William Alexander, in his book, The $64 Tomato, asks the question, “If you were doomed to live the same life over and over again for eternity, would you choose the life you are living now? The question is interesting enough,” he says, “but … the point of asking it is really the unspoken, potentially devastating follow-up question. That is, if the answer is no, then why are you living the life you are living now? Stop making excuses, and do something about it.” (William Alexander, The $64 Tomato, Algonquin Books, 2007, p. 245; www.PreachingToday.com)

I like the sentiment, but what do we do when there is nothing else to do? What do we do when there are no other alternatives? What do we do when life seems hopeless?

Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Mark 5, Mark 5, where a father finds himself in just such a predicament.

Mark 5:21-24 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. (NIV)

What do you do when life seems hopeless? You do what this father did. me to Jesus, and trust Him with your problems. BELIEVE IN HIM. DEPEND ON HIM, even if all your friends despise Him.

As one of the synagogue rulers, this man was responsible for the physical management of the synagogue building and the worship services. He was a respected leader in the community. But unlike the other religious leaders that wanted to kill Jesus (Mark 3:6), he looked to Jesus for help when he had a need. He didn’t care what his peers thought. His little girl was dying, and Jesus was his only hope.

His desperation led him to depend on Jesus, and that’s where our desperation needs to lead us, as well. We can’t worry about what our friends think. We just need to trust Jesus if we’re going to see our lives change.

Boyd Clarke and Ron Crossland, in their book, The Leader’s Voice, talk about the U.S. standard railroad gage. It is four feet, 8½ inches. That’s because that’s the width English railroad workers brought with them to America.

So why did the English build them this wide? Because the first British rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used. Why did they use that gauge? It’s because the same people who built the tramways also built wagons which used the standard wagon-wheel spacing, and wagon-wheel spacing was standardized due to a very practical, hard-to-change, and easy-to-match reality. When Britain was ruled by Imperial Rome, Roman war chariots, in true bureaucratic fashion, all used a standard spacing between their wheels.

Over time, this spacing left deep ruts along the extensive roads that the Romans built. If British wheel spacing didn’t match Roman ruts, the wheels would break. The Roman standard was derived after much trial-and-error to accommodate two horse butts, and that was four 4 feet, 8½ inches. Thus the United States standard railroad gauge is a hand-me-down standard based upon the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

But this doesn’t end at the railroads. There are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank that blasts the space shuttle into orbit. Thiokol makes these solid-fuel rocket boosters, SRBs, at its Utah factory. The engineers who design the SRBs ship them from factory to launch site by train. The railroad from the factory runs through a mountain tunnel only slightly wider than the railroad track. Even if Thiokol engineers wanted fatter SRBs, the railway gauge limits their design. So even Modern space shuttle design follows horses’ butts. (Boyd Clarke and Ron Crossland, The Leader’s Voice, Select Books, 2002; www.PreachingToday.com)

Conformity is the name of the game in our world, but if all we do is conform to what others think and do, then we’ll never see change in our own lives or in our world.

John Stott talks about a trip he made to India where he heard of a little Hindu girl brought up in a strict Hindu family. Then she met some Christians, and somebody asked her what she thought a Christian was. She thought for a few moments and replied, “Well as far as I can see, a Christian is somebody who is different from everybody else.” Stott comments, “Would that it was true.” (John Stott, “Christians: Salt and Light,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 109; www.PreachingToday.com)

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