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.
Over the last several days, we have focused on the important characteristic of humility. Humility is vital to our prayer lives. The best way to ensure our humility is to continually be mindful of how great God is. When we were children, one of the first prayers we learned started with these words: “God is great, God is good.” While this is considered a children’s prayer, these two statements are great theological truths that we need to remember for all of our lives. This morning, let’s focus our thoughts and our prayers on the greatness of God.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the word of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2
Avery Willis gives us a picture that I want to share with you this morning and I pray it leads you to a place of amazement and worship.
“Step on a rocket with me and catch a glimpse of the greatness of God. We shall travel at the speed of light, 186,282 miles per second. As we blast off, our seats afford us a clear view of earth. One second later earth has dropped away until it appears no larger than a huge balloon. In two seconds we have shot past the moon and stolen a glance at the now-famous moon shot of earth. Eight and one-half minute later we pass the sun. Earth appears to be a speck 93 million miles away in the darkness of space. Five hours later we leave our solar system and can no longer distinguish earth from myriads of other planets and stars. After four years of travel at the speed of light, we zip by the nearest star, Alpha Centauri. For almost 100,000 years we travel across the Milky Way, our own galaxy. After that, we travel another 1,500,000 years before we reach the Great Nebula, most distant of the six other galaxies in what astronomers call the Local Group. . . . In the great vastness of space we must travel at least 4,500 million years at the speed of light before we begin to reach the area of the universe that cannot be seen with telescopes from our planet. And who know how much lies beyond? Yet Isaiah says God “hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span. He measures space by the width of His hand.”
Wow. Truly, God is great.
The four traits of humility that we have looked at so far are:
1. Humility Gives God all the credit
2. Humility Is based in the Gospel.
3. Humility Recognizes that everything we have is a gift from God.
4. Humility Serves Others.
Today, let’s talk about a fifth trait: Humility Knows What Greatness Really Is.
Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. But it is not so among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you will be a slave to all. Mark 10:42-44
Humility knows that true greatness is found in serving others and not in being served and true humility is glad about that! John Piper said, “If God would work this humility in us–oh, how freely we would serve each other!” One of the times I learned true humility was in Uganda on the morning of our court date for Paul and Matthew’s adoption. We weren’t sure what to expect in Ugandan court, but friends had done their best to prepare us. We knew that we all needed to look our best. We got up early and got cleaned up and all seven of us dressed in our finest clothes. Paul and Matthew were excited to look smart (the Ugandan way of saying “you look handsome”). We were all getting in the van but I could not get Paul to hurry and get in the van. I finally got him outside to the front porch where his shoes were. As he was putting on his shoes, he told me that they were dirty and that they needed to be shined. While I was trying to tell him to just get in the van, he ran back inside the house. After a few moments, he came back outside with the cloth to clean his shoes. As he knelt to the ground to shine his shoes, I stood a foot away losing my patience knowing we did not need to be late to court. Then it happened. Paul finished shining his shoes and before I could demand him to get in the van, he immediately reached over and began shining my shoes. My anxiety of possibly running late melted right there on that front porch. Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched this young boy who would soon be my son shine my shoes. As he finished, he rose to his feet and looked at me and said, “I want to make sure you look good for the judge too.” Follower of Jesus, if we want to be great, let us humble ourselves and shine the shoes of everyone around us. Let’s make sure that we do everything we can to make sure that others look good for the Judge.
Last week we began looking at different characteristics of humility. So far we have learned that humility:
1. Gives God all the credit
2. Is based in the Gospel.
3. Recognizes that everything we have is a gift from God.
Today, let’s talk about a fourth trait of humility: Humility Serves Others.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited.Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant,taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. Philippians 2:3-8
Humility serves. Humility gets down low and lifts others up. For the last few months, Susan and I have been going to F45, a new gym in Hoover, to workout in the mornings. We do lots of cardio and lots of strength training. Whenever we have to lift something from the floor, our trainer always tells us to lift with our legs. To do this, you can’t bend at the waist. That can cause a lot of pain and it is bad for your back. Plus, you can’t lift nearly as much that way. Instead, you have to bend at the knees. This helps you to get down lower and allows you to lift even more weight than you thought you could. Let me connect this with humility. Often times we want it to look like we are serving the Lord by serving others but all we are really doing is bending at the waist. It’s half-hearted effort and we can’t lift up others like we should with that kind of effort. Plus, it is harmful to ourselves. As servants of Christ, we need to make sure that we bend at the knees in prayer and in real humility. Let’s kneel down as low as we can putting others above ourselves. When we do this, we might just be amazed at the weights that we can lift off of others when we serve them with bended knees. Need some encouragement to do that? Just look again at the verses above and remember just how low Jesus bent to lift you up.