On this 17th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, let us remember those families whose lives were impacted forever on that day and let us pray for our nation as we continue to move forward.
I think it is fitting on this day that we pray that God would help us as followers of Jesus Christ to seek out opportunities to serve Him by serving others. Perhaps today would be a good day to pay for someone’s coffee or meal or maybe even their groceries. Perhaps you could offer to cut your neighbors grass or bake them something sweet. Today look for opportunities to pray with a co-worker or a friend at school or a public servant like a police officer or a fireman.
Every year, the Salvation Army gives an award to one worthy person called the “Others Award.” It is given to an individual who lives a life not for self, but for others. This award honors the Salvation Army’s founder, William Booth. One time when it was time for him to send out his annual Christmas greeting to members all over the world, William Booth discovered that there was not enough money to send the normal message by telegraph because telegraphs charged by the number of words used. Because of this, William Booth sent this one word message: “Others.”
Today, on this special day in America, let’s remember his simple message.
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? Romans 10:13-14
A classic children’s activity at school is “Show and Tell.” Kids bring in their favorite toy or stuffed animal or souvenir from a trip and they get to show it to everyone. But if it ended there, that wouldn’t be that great would it? The best part about show and tell is getting to hear the child tell about his item. Understand this, we need to show people Jesus Christ by our life. The way we live should back up what we say we believe. But people also need to hear our words as we tell them the Good News of Jesus. It’s been said that Saint Francis of Assisi used to say, “Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words.” I like that statement, but here’s the deal. It is necessary to use words.
No one is “good enough” to let his or her life speak solely for Christ. Sometimes we say, “I’ll share with them when I’m good and ready.” Child of God, it is time for us to be good and ready. The time is urgent and people are waiting to hear. Thom Rainer of Lifeway and Rainer Research found that 65% of all previously unchurched people were in fact witnessed to personally by a church-going Christian before actually coming to Christ and joining a church themselves. That lets us know that sharing with others actually works.
When John Mark was younger, he would often want to take something with him to school to show everyone. I would always ask him if they were playing “Show and Tell”? He would typically say, “No, I just want to bring it anyway.” Today, I am praying that even if it seems the world doesn’t want to hear the Gospel, you and I will bring it anyway!
When Jesus had finished this sermon, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, because He was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes. Matthew 7:29
Obviously, there were other good teachers during Jesus’s day. But there was something different about Jesus’s teaching. The Bible describes it as the fact that He taught them as one who had authority. Jesus taught them as one having authority? What does that mean? It doesn’t mean that when He spoke, there was a thunderous echo in His voice. It doesn’t mean that when He spoke, a heavenly dove descended over the crowd. It doesn’t even mean that when He spoke, the people thought He was God. What it does mean is that His life was the very embodiment of everything He taught. It wasn’t just words from His mouth,. He didn’t just read sentences off of a page. He actually lived what He spoke and taught. His life backed up everything that came out of His mouth. He could talk with authority about loving others because He had touched a leper that nobody else would go near. He could talk with authority about forgiveness because He forgave a sinful woman that the crowd wanted to stone to death. He could talk with authority about loving your enemies because He allowed Judas Iscariot to walk with Him for three years. He could talk with authority about giving life because He raised Lazarus, and at least a couple of other people, from the dead. Jesus Christ is the perfect example of time and time again loving others and meeting them at the point of their human need in order to get them to see how much God loved them and is the only One who could meet their spiritual need. Here’s the kicker. He didn’t soften His message or compromise Scripture. His message was tough. His way was difficult. But His love was infectious. Because it was, people followed Him and people still follow Him today. This morning, I want to remind you that you are an important part of the body of Christ. May your love be infectious and may people want to follow Jesus because of the way that you are following Him. May they know His infectious love through you.
Search me God and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me. Psalm 139:23-24
In the verses above, David is asking God to search his heart. In these verses, the heart is referring to David’s motivation behind everything that he does. David is trying to make sure that everything he says and does is for the right reasons. Satan has tried to come and unload a big pile of garbage (of David’s own making) right in David’s living room and he was doing a pretty good job of it. But David finally came to his senses and wanted God to clean him up knowing that God was the only One who could. These verses say something special about David. He wanted to be pure. But they say something even greater about David’s God. He can be trusted with our hearts. If there is any impurity or offensive way in us, He will give us grace and mercy and wash us whiter than snow. If we are His children, He will remind us that He has already dealt with our sin. It is good to remember that God will haul the garbage of our sin away and He will never throw us on top of the garbage heap. Today, as your pastor, I am praying for you to have a pure heart. May the God of grace and mercy create in you a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within you.
Today, I want to remind you of the practical application of the message from Part 2 of our series, Ripples, from this past Sunday. In Acts 1:8, Jesus told his disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We are His witnesses. That means we tell others of what we have seen and heard. We tell others about Jesus and what He has done in our lives. We tell others about His grace and mercy. Jesus then told the disciples that their witness would be ever expanding. Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to the ends of the earth. This past Sunday, we focused on our Jerusalem and Judea. We focused on those who know us best and those who are around us the most. Think about your community. Your family community. Your neighborhood community. Your work or school community. Now think about those that you need to put on what we are calling a “Ripple List.” This is three to ten people that perhaps God is calling you to be a witness. Now once you list these people, pray for them. Then try to start and cultivate a relationship with them. Try to discern needs that you or the church can meet. Finally, look for opportunities to share the Gospel with them.
As a church, if we each will commit to a Ripple List of people that we are praying for, building a relationship with, meeting the needs of, and sharing the Gospel with, I believe we will find our city being filled with Gospel ripples that will turn into crashing waves in our world.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
After spending some time in Uganda, one of the things that struck me was how each home and each school had a big pile of garbage behind it that would be burned each evening. It made for a messy place and it also caused a big smell as well. It’s a smell you don’t easily forget! We aren’t used to that in America. We have places to which our garbage gets hauled away. Aren’t we thankful for that? I wonder how often our lives resemble the trash in Uganda though. Here’s the deal. We all have garbage. That’s just a part of life as a sinner. But how many times do we just try to haul it out back to hopefully deal with later? In the meantime, it causes a mess and stinks out lives up quite a bit. In Uganda, that’s really all most people can do. They don’t have a service that picks it up on Tuesdays and Fridays like we do (or whatever days you have garbage pick-up service). But in our lives, we can do better than Ugandan style can’t we? We have a God that forgives and forgets. He sent His Son because we couldn’t dispose of our garbage on our own. He sent His Son so that we didn’t have to leave our garbage around to be all messy and smelly. Today, give your garbage to Jesus. Let Him dispose of it. You can’t get rid of it on your own. Praise God, you don’t have to.
The Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me–a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8
Sir Isaac Newton once said that he could take his telescope and look millions and millions of miles into space. Then he said, “But when I lay it aside, go into my room, shut the door, and get down on my knees in earnest prayer, I see more of heaven and feel closer to the Lord than if I were assisted by all the telescopes on earth.” Wow! What a beautiful statement reminding us this morning that prayer connects us to the very heart of God. The psalmist describes an ongoing, personal relationship with God. The Lord is his love during the day and his song in the night. Notice the title that the psalmist uses for God. He doesn’t reference Him as the God of his Sunday or the God of his hour. Rather, he calls Him the God of his life. This speaks volumes about the psalmist’s relationship and total surrender to the Lord. This is a picture of true worship–allowing Christ to live in and through every aspect of your life. E.M. Bounds, a 19th century pastor, wrote the following: “What the Church needs today is men whom the Holy Spirit can use–men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men–men of prayer.” As the pastor of The Station Church, may we be a church full of prayer warriors.