Let Us Pray

We find ourselves today in the third chapter of Exodus. However, the story of Moses began in the first chapter of Exodus. You remember the story because you have seen the movie. Joseph’s descendants, the Hebrews, were living in Egypt. They went to that foreign land to escape a great drought as favored people, but, in time, that status was replaced by slavery. The lives of God’s Chosen People were hard, and they cried to God for help. Little did they know their relief would come from one of their own. Moses was born a Hebrew, yet he was raised in the palace of the Pharaoh. He should have had a good life, but it didn’t happen that way. He takes a life and runs into the wilderness to escape the law. That is where we find him today.

According to the text, Moses had to re-established himself in that foreign land. He is married and working for his father-in-law. His occupation is a shepherd. One day while at work, he leads the sheep to a remote area. It is in that secluded area that the miraculous happens. There was a burning bush that was not being consumed by the flames. When Moses goes to examine the bush, God, Himself, began to speak to him. The Almighty tells Moses three things. First, he tells Moses to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. Second, he tells Moses he is the God of his ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.  Third, he tells him he has heard the cries of his people, who are enslaved in Egypt. Let me say that another way. God heard the prayers of his people, who are enslaved in Egypt. That means God’s Chosen People had not been praying to a deaf God. The Almighty heard their prayers and He hears your prayers too. This is the problem, God may hear our prayers, but he does not always answer our prayers in a way we desire.

Luis Palau (born 1934) is an international evangelist, who had a close relationship with Billy Graham (1918-2018). He was born in Argentina, but today he lives in Portland, Oregon. He writes for Christianity Today. He says there are five different ways God answers our prayers. Consider these with me.

Yes, I thought you would never ask. Sometimes God answers our prayers yes, I thought you would never ask. Ron Wheeler is a Christian cartoonist. He prayed for a new computer to create his own evangelist tracts. Two weeks later, a friend offered him a new computer. A short time later The American Tract Society called to offer him a job. Wouldn’t it be great if God answered our prayers that way all the time? Sometimes God answers our prayers yes, I thought you would never ask.

Yes, and there is more. Sometimes God answers our prayers yes, and there is more. David Smallbone was a bankrupt musician in Nashville, Tennessee. One day, he, his wife and six children prayed for help. It was at that moment things began to change for the better. They started to receive things to survive. However, the best change came through his fifteen-year-old daughter, Rebecca. She received a recording contract. Today, David promotes his daughters sold out concerts. Rebecca St. James is a bright light in Christian music. Sometimes God answers our prayers yes, and there is more.

Yes, but not what you expected. Sometimes God answers our prayers with a yes, but not in the way you expect. Sherman Smith was a Christian running back for the Seattle Seahawks. He was a local celebrity in Seattle, which made his trade to the San Diego Chargers hard to accept. A few weeks after the trade, he hurt his knee, and Smith wondered why he was traded. He got his answer when he led fellow player Miles McPherson to Christ. McPherson became a youth evangelist and has led thousands of youth to Christ. Sometimes God answers our prayers with a yes, but not in the way you expect.

Yes, but wait. Sometimes God answers our prayer with a yes but wait. Recently, I read a story about a young woman, not yet thirty years old, who suffered daily with seizures. Her husband felt helpless and prayed for a healing daily. One night he was out in their backyard pacing and praying. At one point he fell to his knees and asked God to help his wife. Suddenly a doctor’s name popped into his mind. He found the doctor and made an appointment for his wife. That doctor discovered her seizures were cause by a certain chemical imbalance. Today, that woman lives seizure free. Sometimes God answers our prayer with a yes but wait.

No. Sometimes God says, “no,” because our prayers are ridiculous and selfish. We pray to win the lottery, or we pray for a date with a special love interest, or we pray for our favorite team to win. Sometimes, God says, “no,” and our prayers are genuine and heartfelt. How many healing prayers have you uttered for a sick loved one and the person dies? It is at that time we have no other option, but to trust God. The spiritually mature accept no, because they know death is a better option than life. The spiritually immature grow mad at God. The Apostle Paul was spiritually mature. When he wrote Philippians 1:23, he was torn between what was better, life or death? Do you remember that verse? It says, “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is by far better. Sometimes God answers our prayers with a no.

This is the problem. Many misunderstand prayer. Prayer isn’t about getting what you desire. God does not need our advice about running the universe. You are not going to change God’s mind. Prayer is about spending time with God and if you spend time with God you will change. Are you more interested in changing God’s mind or changing yourself?

Your attitude about prayer should be the same as Bobby Richardson (born 1935). He played second base for the New York Yankees from 1955 to 1966. He was once asked to speak at a meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He prayed this short and poignant prayer:

Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen.

However, let’s be honest. Isn’t it wonderful when God answers yes!

There is a story which echoes through the halls of this church late at night. It changed this church and it changed me. It all began on an Easter morning. After the final service I stood in the back and dismissed everyone. When the last few remained, a young couple walked up to me. They were strangers, with a little girl in tow and a baby in arms. Physically spent, the father asked me to pray for his son. I will be the first to admit, I didn’t completely understand the medical condition. In layman’s terms, the baby head was growing too fast. All the father wanted was for his son to live a full normal life. In the next few minutes, I prayed with the couple and arranged a home visit. A few days later I was in their home and prayed for the child once again. They thanked me for my time, and I said, “We can do better. Can you bring the child to church, so the entire congregation can pray for him?” They agreed and a few days later they arrived at church. Before I uttered the pastoral prayer, I told the congregation the baby’s story. I confessed, I really didn’t know the family well, but the baby needed our prayers. I looked at the congregation and said, “I was looking for prayer warriors to help this baby.” I didn’t know how the congregation would respond. Their response surprised me. It seemed like the whole church stood up to pray for the infant. I remember laying my hands on his head and others pressed forward to touch him. Those who could not touch the baby placed their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. The spirit was so genuine, the Holy Spirit began to leak into our prayer. When we ended with the Lord’s Prayer, the Holy Spirit poured over us. When the prayer ended, we all returned to our seats and I prepared to preach. My message was not necessary that day, because we all had experienced God and knew God had touched the baby. Can I tell you the truth? That has been my most humbling experience in the ministry. How powerful was the Holy Spirit that day? The next week, a woman came up to me and asked, “I wasn’t here last week, but what happened? I feel the change in this church.” She was right. This church had changed. I changed too. I can still feel the Holy Spirit in this place.

The day after the miracle, I had a funeral in the morning, so I drove to Cleveland for the baby’s surgery in the afternoon. By the time I arrived, the surgery was over. I was told by the woman at the information desk his room number. When I found the room, I was there alone. A few seconds later they wheeled the baby in a crib into the room. I was expecting to find all the intimidating hospital equipment, but there was none. The only sign of a procedure was a small band-aide on the back of his head. The baby reached through the bars of crib and stuck out his finger to touch mine. When I touch his finger it was like touching God’s finger. Later, I was told the doctors were shocked he was treated so easily. I wasn’t surprised because I knew God had heard our prayers. Do you know where that baby is today. The father got what he wanted. His son is living full normal life. In the last few months, the baby, now a man, graduated from college and last week he began a new job as a chemist.

I can’t guarantee God will always answer your prayers with a yes. However, I can guarantee you that God hears your prayers. God heard the prayers of the Hebrews and he hears our prayers too. Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, and social critic. Do you remember what Kierkegaard said? He once said, “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” I know that quote is true because it happened to me.

How Available Are You?

We are instructed today from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. The name Isaiah means “The Lord Saves.” He is one of the Major Prophets. His book is sixty-six chapters long. Isaiah began his ministry about the year 740 B.C., which makes him a contemporary of Amos, Hosea and Micah. He lived in politically stormy times. The Assyrian Empire was expanding; Israel was declining. Maybe that is why the people are hungry for God. People always look for God when life is hard. The major themes of this book are judgment and salvation.

Our scripture reading for today is a vision. In the vision, Isaiah has a trip into the temple of God. Everything about the temple is impressive. God is seated high and exalted, with a long flowing robe which fills the entire temple. Heavenly creatures are flying around. They are proclaiming the holiness of God. Their message is so powerful the temple shakes and is consumed by smoke. Yet, hiding in some corner of this impressive temple is an insignificant man, Isaiah. He feels out of place. In comparison to God, he is nothing. In comparison to God, his sins are obvious. He thinks he is well hidden but the Almighty sees all. In the end, God saves Isaiah from his sinfulness. One of the flying creatures approaches him with a hot coal, placing it on his lips. The man, Isaiah, is a changed man, atoned and guilt free. Humbled by this experience, Isaiah has no other option, so he spends the rest of his life serving God.

The calling of Isaiah is one of the greatest pieces of scriptures in the Bible. I have preached on it several times. However, this time one theme really stuck out. Look at the scripture with me one more time. The scripture doesn’t say Isaiah changed in any tangible way. The scripture doesn’t say Isaiah got taller. The scripture does not say Isaiah’s IQ score jumped. The scripture does not say he got better at mathematics. The scripture does not say he was given miraculous powers or suddenly had the ability to fly. Isaiah didn’t change in any tangible way, but Isaiah did change. The only thing that changed about Isaiah was his availability. After experiencing God, he became available to God. It sounds like nothing, but it really is something. How available are you making yourself to God? Making yourself available to God is very important in the Christian faith. It has been that way from the very beginning.

The disciples were not exceptional when Jesus called them. Not a single disciple was educated or well connected. Each one had their own flaw. You can say Simon Peter was emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, placed personal interest above the group. Thomas demonstrated a questioning attitude that undermined morale. As a tax collector, Matthew had a questionable past. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus had radical leanings, and both could have been manic-depressive. Even the greatest missionary the church has ever known, the Apostle Paul came with baggage. They make the point that God is not interest in our abilities or our inabilities, but that God is interested only in our availability. This is the question you must answer today.

How do you make yourself available to God? There is no single answer. The answer is found in the balance of these four things. Consider these four things with me:

If you want to be available to God’s service, then be faithful. If you are not faithful to God, then you are probably not going to be available to God. If you have ever read the Bible, then you know faithfulness is important. In the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and the goats. The sheep are told they are going to heaven because they had been living the Gospel. They had been visiting the incarcerated. They had been feeding the hungry. They had been clothing the needy. In verse 21 of that chapter, Jesus says to the sheep, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” If you want to be available to God’s service, then be faithful.

If you want to be available to God’s service, then be teachable. I do not want to shock you, but you don’t know everything. Everybody has something to learn. It has been said learning takes three stages. The first stage is learning the right answers. The second stage is learning the right questions. The third stage is learning what questions are worth asking. What do you think God is trying to teach you today? If you want to be available to God’s service, then be faithful and teachable.

If you want to available to God’s service, then be flexible. This is one of those things time has taught me. God is different from us in many ways. One of those ways is the way we view time and money. We are far more preoccupied with schedules and budgets, than God. Sometimes the greatest ministry moments happen in the most inconvenient times. Jesus understood that divine truth. Jesus was interrupted all the time. Jesus was interrupted while speaking to a great crowd. Jesus was interrupted in sleep. Jesus was interrupted in prayer. Jesus interrupted while healing someone. Jesus was even interrupted while traveling. Jesus was interrupted many times, but Jesus never cared, because he saw those interruptions as an opportunity to minister. Do interruptions bother you? If you want to be available to God, then be faithful, teachable and flexible.

If you want to be available to God’s service, then be humble.Humility does not mean you lack skills or self-worth. Humility means you are using your skills and self-worth to God’s glory. The great missionary to China Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) understood humility. He was scheduled to speak at a large Presbyterian church in Melbourne, Australia. The moderator of the service introduced the missionary in eloquent and glowing terms. He told the large congregation all that Taylor had accomplished, and then presented him as “our illustrious guest.”  Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying, “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.”  If you want to be available to God’s service, then be faithful, teachable, flexible and humble.

God is not interested in our abilities and our inabilities God is only interested in our availability. If you make yourself available to God, who knows what will happen.

When Kathryn and I return to Estonia next summer, it will be her twenty-seventh trip to the former Soviet Union. I have been to Eastern Europe about twenty times, but who is counting? We have traveled to Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Estonia. The trips have always been a balance of building maintenance and children. When I think of the people who have traveled with us through the years, they have very little in common. They all had different skills and interests. However, they all had a passion for people and made themselves available to God. The oldest person to go was a man in his eighties.

The youngest person to go was a fourteen-year-old boy, Colin, from Wooster, Ohio. He was a big strong good-looking young man. He traveled with his father. They made and sold caramel corn to fund their trip. When I told someone we were taking a fourteen-year-old boy to Saint Petersburg, Russia on a mission trip someone scoffed. They asked, “Why are you taking a kid on the trip? He is wet behind the ears and he has no skills. I bet he is a picky eater and he will get homesick.” That negative person was wrong. When I look back on that trip, I remember Colin being one of the most valuable members on that team. Do you know what made Colin so valuable? He was a fourteen-year-old young man, who was strong and good looking. I liked Collin, but the fourteen-year-old girls from the orphanage found him fascinating. Colin was our passport into the social circles of that orphanage. Because of Colin, we had instant creditability. Because of Colin, we had a special connection with those orphans, who we came to help. Colin was a gifted young man with a good heart, but that didn’t really matter. The only thing that really mattered was that Colin made himself available and God did the rest. There is an old quote that says, “God does not ask about our ability or inability, but our availability.”

God Calls Jonah

We find ourselves today in the book of Jonah. He is one of the twelve Minor Prophets. They are not minor because they are not important, they are minor because their books are brief. Tradition tells us Jonah was written by the prophet, himself. The date it was written is approximately 600 BC. One of the most intriguing elements of this Old Testament book are the New Testament undertones. For example, the name Jonah means “dove,” the New Testament symbol of the Holy Spirit. Also, Jonah was saved by a great fish, which is the New Testament symbol of the Christian faith. However, what is important to us today is the basic storyline. Everyone knows the story of Jonah.

His calling comes in the very first verse of the book, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah.” That was a common phrase, when the prophets were called. It is found in other places in the Old Testament as well. Never forget, prophets were called to speak on behalf of God, not predict future events. The problem is not that Jonah doesn’t understand his calling, but that the word Jonah received was clear and exact. The problem was Jonah didn’t want to deliver the divine message. God tells him to go to Nineveh and preach a message of repentance. That is the last thing Jonah wanted to do. This is the truth, he really didn’t care for the Ninevites and he wanted them to perish. You know the story, Jonah headed to the coastal town of Joppa and bought a ticket to take him to Tarshish. Geography is important in this story. The two cities, Nineveh and Tarshish, represent the opposite ends of the commercial world in ancient times. Nineveh was located on the Tigris River in modern day Assyria and Tarshish was located on the coast in modern day southwestern Spain. Jonah may have been a prophet, but his theology was poor. Jonah forgot it is impossible to run away from God. The Almighty is omnipresent. However, there is more to the story than God’s omnipresence. There is also the human factor.

The two great holidays in the Christian faith are Christmas and Easter. At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the incarnation of God. At Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The third great holiday in the Christian faith is Pentecost. You remember the story. It is fifty days after the Passover. The Jews are celebrating the festival of the harvest. We call it Thanksgiving. They called it Pentecost. They don’t have a clue what is about to happened. As instructed by Jesus, the disciples are still in Jerusalem. Without warning, the wind begins to blow, and the Holy Spirit is unleashed on the believers. Before it is over the believers are speaking in a foreign tongue, and the disciples are transformed. No longer confused, the disciples are spiritual giants. According to Acts 2:14, Peter stood up and addressed the crowd. He reminds them of two things. First, he reminds them of Joel’s prophesy (Joel 2:28) about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Second, he reminds them of the ministry and resurrection of Jesus. He concludes his Pentecost sermon with a challenge. They are to repent and believe in Jesus. Those words did not fall on deaf ears. According to Acts 2:41, 3,000 people accepted Jesus on that day. It was one of the great moments in the history of the early church. The doors of the Kingdom of God were wide open on that day. Today, the doors into the Kingdom of God can be much narrower. Can I ask you a personal question?

How many souls have you won for Jesus Christ? Did you know, according to various sources, only 1% of all Christians have won a soul for Jesus Christ? That means 99% of us have never won a soul for Jesus Christ. Maybe that is why so many know the story of Jonah. It is not that we are fascinated with fish. It is that we can relate to Jonah. He was to go to Nineveh and call them to repent. He refused to go. We are to win the world for Jesus Christ, but we refuse to evangelize. How many souls have you won for Jesus Christ? Here is a question you must answer.

Why aren’t Christians evangelizing? That is the question Steven Lee tried to answer. He is a pastor in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In a website called Desiring God, he says there are four basic reasons why Christians don’t evangelize. Maybe you will find yourself on this list.

  1. Ignorance How many times have you heard the Gospel message in sermons, books and conservations. You have heard the Gospel message, but do you know the Gospel message. Could you share the Gospel message in sixty seconds, right now? Some don’t evangelize because of ignorance.
  • Discrimination That is Jonah’s story. He didn’t want to go to Nineveh because he didn’t like the Ninevites. It may have been the way they looked. It may have been the way they lived. It may have been their language. We understand discrimination, because, sad but true, discrimination is a big part of our society. How many groups do you belittle? Some don’t evangelize because of ignorance. Some don’t evangelize because they are apathetic. Some don’t evangelize because of fear. Some don’t evangelize because of discrimination.

Can I give you some relief?I believe, the 99% statistic is wrong. I believe, many more than 1% of all Christians have won a soul for Jesus Christ. I believe, that statistic is wrong because the question, itself, is flawed. The question, have you won a soul for Jesus Christ, reminds us of Billy Graham’s great evangelistic crusades. At the end of every service an altar call was given, and countless people emotionally came forward to accept Jesus. Evangelism is not limited to altar calls. Evangelism is not limited to a one-time experience. Evangelism is anytime we share Jesus. How many times have you shared Jesus with your words or actions? Let me tell you a little story.

My mother-in-law, Teresa was a strong Methodist. She was raised in the Okmulgee Methodist Church in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, home of the fighting Bulldogs. When she married and moved to Cleveland, she joined the Broadway Methodist Church. When she bought a house in the suburbs, she joined the Bedford Methodist Church. In 1968, the Bedford Methodist Church became the Bedford United Methodist Church, when the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren denominations merged. She had a special place in her heart for the church in Bedford, for she raised her family there. Passing the faith on to her children was important. I am confident there were many fine Sunday school teachers during those years.

However, the best Sunday school teacher at Bedford United Methodist, in my wife’s humble opinion, was a woman by the name of Carol. She did not work outside of the home. She stayed at home to raise her three sons. She wanted the best for them and the best she had to offer them was Jesus. It was for this reason she taught the high school class, which included her sons and my wife, Kathryn. Every Sunday morning at 9:30, she was with a group of high school students talking about Jesus. Not a single student in that class questioned her sincerity, she had known Jesus for years. Not a single student in the class questioned her commitment to them. She wanted the best for them and the best for them was Jesus. A reliable source tells me, Bedford once received a boring dry preacher. Carol knew the teenagers wouldn’t get any spiritual guidance from him, so she packed up her students in her station wagon and took them to worship at the nearby Baptist church. She wanted them to hear about Jesus. It was during one those beyond the extra call of duty activities my wife heard the call the ministry.

As a loving husband, I have to say, Carol changed my wife’s life. When Kathryn was in high school, Carol made her feel special. When Kathryn was in college, Carol prayed for her regularly. When Kathryn was in seminary, Carol invited her to come back to the church to speak to a small group of women. It was a way to encourage her. When Kathryn took those first United Methodist appointments, Carol saw her potential. When Kathryn and I moved to the Cleveland area, Carol visited our churches. When our children were young, Carol watched them in her home. When we travel back to Bedford to remember the life of a lost saint from that church, Carol is there and is hungry to hear about our ministries today. She wants to know what Jesus is doing in our lives now. When our daughter, Anna, gets married next May, guess who is going to be invited? Ask Carol if she saved Kathryn’s soul for Jesus Christ and she will say, “No!” She is too humble, but she evangelized to Kathryn for years.

Evangelism is a funny thing. It has been said, evangelism is like serving a meal. You may make it look appealing, but it is God who gives the appetite. I can give you a big list of things Carol is not. She is not young. She is not a super model. She is not rich. She is not a great singer or entertainer. Yet, she maybe the finest person I have ever known. You can’t help but admire her. She has always brought the best out in other people because she always wanted the best for them. She knew the best she could offer them was Jesus. Can I ask you a question?

Who led you to Jesus? Who was the Carol in your life? It is safe to say, that person did not have an advanced degree in evangelism. It is equally safe to say, that person knew Jesus and wanted the best for you. The best we can offer people is Jesus. Luis Palau (born 1934) is an international evangelist, who lives near Portland, Oregon. He must have known Carol. He once said, “Evangelism is not an option for the Christian life.”

Can You Hear Me Now?

We find ourselves today in the third chapter of First Samuel. The first two chapters give us some important background information. There was a woman by the name of Hannah, who had a difficult time conceiving a child. She prayed so earnestly for a child Hannah caught the attention of a priest named Eli. Once he hears her story, the priest had compassion on her. He prays for her and, in time, she becomes pregnant. When the child is born, she names her son Samuel, which means “the Lord heard.” She is so thankful for his life; Hannah dedicates Samuel to the service of the Lord and entrusts his care to the priest Eli. According to our reading for today, Samuel stayed with Eli many years. This takes us to the scripture reading for today.

According to the text for today, God began to speak to Samuel when he was a boy. The term boy is vague. The great historian Josephus tells us, God began to speak to Samuel when he was twelve years old. That is a significant age in that culture because at twelve years old Samuel was considered a man. According to the text, Samuel was lying down in the temple when God began to speak to him. Samuel heard his name being called and assumes it was Eli who is summoning him. How rare was the word of the Lord? It took God three tries to get Samuel’s attention. This is an interesting question. How many times would it take God to get your attention? I don’t want to sound critical of Samuel. You really can’t blame him. How can you expect him to hear God?

We have a hard time hearing one another. Sometimes, we don’t hear one another because our ears are broken. Have you ever watched television with someone who is hearing impaired? The volume is turned up all the way up. It is deafening. Did you know thirty-five million Americans are considered hearing impaired? That is 11.3% of our national population. Only 28.5% of hearing-impaired Americans use hearing aids. Sometimes, we don’t hear because our ears are broken. Sometimes, we don’t hear another because we are preoccupied. I will be the first to admit, I am guilty. I will be standing next to someone, but my mind is a million miles away. I say it regularly. “I’m sorry. What did you say?” Sometimes, we don’t hear one another because we suffer, from what my dad called, selective hearing. There are somethings we simply just don’t want to hear. How many times has the doctor told you to lose weight and go on a diet? You can’t blame Samuel for not hearing God. We have a hard time hearing one another. However, the story is not about hearing other people. The story is about not hearing God.

Look at the text with me one more time. It is the middle of the night and the characters in the story are down for the day. God calls out to the boy not once, but three times. Each time, the boy assumes it is the priest. Each time, the boy breaks the silence of the night. It is on the third time the priest begins to understand. He instructs the boy to go back to his bed and wait for God to call again. If the Lord speaks to him again, then answer, “Your servant is listening.” What is Eli doing? The aging priest is positioning Samuel, so he has the best possible opportunity to hear God. He didn’t tell him to take a bath. He didn’t tell him to tell the neighbors. He didn’t tell him to start his chores. He told him to lay in the silence of his bed and listen for God. One of the reasons Samuel heard God was he was in perfect position to hear the Almighty. So, this is the question you must answer.

Are you putting yourself in the best possible position to hear God? The people at Beliefnet say there are eight ways to discern God’s will for your life. This list speaks to me and I hope this list speaks to you too.

  1. – If you pray daily you are not alone. According to the Pew Research Group, 55% of Americans pray daily. They also tell us 23% of Americans never pray. If you want to hear God pray!
  • – The Bible is God’s word. Don’t read the Bible to study it. Read the Bible for the edification of your soul. Lifeway Research tells us 9% of American have read the entire more than once. 11% of Americans have read the entire Bible at least once. 10% of Americans have never read a single word in the Bible. If you want to hear God read the Bible!
  • – Have you ever tried to find complete quiet. It is hard. Our world is filled with noise. The music is always playing. The television is always on. Someone is always talking. Someone is always cutting down a tree or mowing the lawn. It is hard to hear God through all the noise. If you want to hear God find a quiet place!
  • – The Christian faith is more than 2,000 years old. God has touched every generation, and, in every generation, people have written about their experiences with God. They have written about their insights into God’s ways. Read what Augustine had to say. Read what Calvin had to say. Read what Knox had to say. Read what Wesley had to say. If you want to hear God read spiritually rich material!
  • – At Group Work Camps, they call it a God sighting. If you train yourself to look for God in this world, you will find him. It may be in the beauty of nature. It may be in the kindness of a friend. It may be in the generosity of a stranger. When was the last time you looked for God? If you want to hear God look for God!
  • – The Christian faith was never meant to lived out in isolation. It is a community experience. That is why church is so important. In the true church we don’t complain and criticize. In the true church we encourage and support. In the true church we are honest with one another and hunger for what is best. If you want to hear God talk to other believers!
  • – Worship is a great opportunity to hear God. It may be in the words of the message? It may be in the words of the music or at a time of prayer. God speaks to many during worship or attend worship regularly. Did you know, according to the Pew Research Group, 37% of Americans attend church regularly? If you want to hear God worship!
  • – Sometimes our own self-image makes us deaf to God. Do you remember this statistic from last week? According to NBC News, 85% of Americans suffer from a low esteem. Maybe one of the reasons we don’t hear God, is we don’t like ourselves? If you want hear God know yourself!

This is the point. Eli positioned Samuel to hear God. There was no guarantee. However, it heightened the opportunity. Are you giving yourself the best possible opportunity to hear God?

It has been a month since Kathryn, and I returned home from Scotland. I will admit I miss that special land. I miss the history, the landscape and the Scottish people. I have told you this in the past. I occasionally need an adventure. Part of the adventure in Scotland was traveling by train. Every day, I would check the train schedules. We traveled during non-peak hours, so it would be easier. Nearly every day, we would sit together on the train and soak up the scenery. One day, the car was full, and we were forced to sit apart. She sat with a couple from Sweden and discussed the royal family. I sat next to a young man, who was lost in thought. When I first arrived, he seemed annoyed. He was forced to move his sack lunch from my seat. I apologized and introduced himself. He told me his first name and said he was a local. I began to tell him how impressed I was with Scotland and told him about how fortune he was to live there. I told him about were our travels took us in Scotland. I told him where we were going to travel in Scotland. I told him about where I live in America. I told him about my job. I told him about my family. I told him about all the rain we had in the spring. I told him about my passion for baseball. I told him I missed my dog, Macy. I told him everything. Then, it hit me. I had been doing all the talking. I stopped talking and looked at him for a response. He was a million miles away. When he finally looked at me, he pushed his shaggy hair back and pulled his earbuds out. He looked at me and said, “Did you say something? I can’t hear anything when I am listening to my music.” I simply said, “That is fine”, and I stopped talking. Why waste your breath if someone isn’t listening? Why waste your breath if someone doesn’t want to listen? Could that be our story?

God is talking to us, but we just aren’t listening. It isn’t a matter of our ears being broken. The thirty-five million hearing impaired Americans are not excluded from divine communication. It could be we are just too busy to hear God. We live in an incredibly fast paced society. There just isn’t enough time to get everything done. I’m guilty. I don’t waste time, but I misuse time. They say without rest our health will decay. I say fast pace living will impede your spiritual life. Could it be we are so preoccupied with life, we don’t have time to listen for God? Or, could it be we don’t want to listen to God because we are afraid of what God is going to say. We want God to say he loves and accepts us. We don’t want God to say, we are sinners who need to repent. We don’t want God to say, we are a disappointment. This is the question you must answer.

Are you putting yourself in the best possible position to hear God? I hope the answer is yes, because best-selling author Bryant H. McGill isn’t wrong. He once said, “One of the sincerest forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

What Is Your Purpose?

We find ourselves today in the twelfth chapter of Genesis, the beginning of Patriarchal History. It is not our first introduction to Abram, later Abraham. He was mentioned in the previous chapter. According to that chapter, Abraham’s father was named Terah. The entire family lived in Haran, until Terah’s death at the age of 205. Some things don’t change. The death of a loved one is always hard, and many make major changes during a time of lose. That is what happened to Abraham.

The twelfth chapter begins with Abraham making major changes in his life. However, Abraham does not initiate the changes. It is God, who initiates the changes. At seventy-five years old, the Almighty instructs Abraham to move to a new land. The name of the land is not identified, but it will be a land that will be remembered for the generations to come. And, in time, it will be filled with Abraham’s descendants, too many to count. Never forget it. Abraham means “the father of the multitude.” How special are Abraham’s descendants? They are so special they will be a blessing to the entire world. For within this race of people, Jesus will be born. Never forget it. Abraham is our spiritual ancestor too. I love this story because Abraham started the greatest challenge of his life at seventy-five years old. This is also true. I am jealous of Abraham because he heard God clearly and discovered his purpose? That leads us to an interesting question.

Have you discovered God’s purpose for your life? Several years ago, Rick Warren wrote a book called The Purpose Driven Life.”  Many churches and Christians read that book. The reason is simple. Many wanted to discover their purpose. About the same time, Warren wrote another book called The Purpose Driven Church. We read that book here. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not knocking the books. They helped many. However, you don’t need to read the books to discover your purpose. All you need to do is read Abraham’s calling. If you want to discover your purpose, then you must do what Abraham did. If you want to remain clueless about your purpose, then don’t read it. So what did Abraham do? Abraham did three things.

First, Abraham trusted God. Look at the text with me. Prior to our reading, we are told Abram had a good life. It was a stable calm life with his father. Abraham was rooted in that community and there was no sign that Abraham was interested leaving it. He had prospered in that land. He had every reason to stay. It was God who initiated the move. This is the key line. There is no sign Abraham questioned God because he trusted God and was open to God’s leading. How far does Abraham trust God? Beyond our reading, we are told the first thing Abraham did in that new land was build an altar to God. It was the first of several altars Abraham would build to God. Abraham built an altar anywhere he had a spiritual mountaintop experience. Moving to a new land made no logical sense, but Abraham did it because Abraham trusted God. This is the question. How far do you trust God? If you want to find your purpose, then you must trust God.

Second, Abraham trusted others. Look at the text with me again. Verse four tells us Abram didn’t travel alone. The scripture tells us he took with him his nephew Lot and his wife Sarai. He took with him his possessions and the people he had acquired in Haran. Some of those people may have been employees and some of those people may have been slaves. This is the point. When Abraham accepted God’s call and moved, it did just affect his life. It affected many lives, including the people who stayed behind. If Abraham was going to maximize his purpose, then he had to trust the people in his life. How far do you trust the people in your life?

One of the great concerns in this church is not knowing everyone. For some reason that is important to many. This is not Cheers where everyone knows your name. This is the church of Jesus Christ. This is the truth. This is not a single cell church. It is impossible to know everyone, especially with three worship services. The only thing that unites this church is the mission, making disciples for Jesus Christ, and the budget, our common enemy. However, knowing everyone isn’t really that important to me. I am more concerned about everyone trusting one another. This is a fair question. How far do you trust your fellow church members? Let me ask you two more questions. Have you ever overworked yourself at church because you want it done right? Experience tells me it will get done, just not by you. You just don’t trust someone else to do your job. Have you ever criticized someone for doing something differently than you would have done it? The issue is what they are doing. The issue is trusting. Trust is a big issue within the life of the church. We will never maximize our efforts as a church until we trust one another. Consider this with me.

One of the great scenes in the Bible is the Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-28. You remember the scene. Earlier in the chapter, we are told Jesus had been resurrected. The pain of Calvary is in the rear-view mirror. The Master’s earthly ministry is complete. The only thing waiting for Jesus is the perfection of heaven. Jesus’s work is done, and he is passing the mantel to the disciples. Jesus tells them to go and make disciples in all nations. I hope you don’t miss the next line. Jesus is turning the work over to eleven men, Judas Iscariot is gone, and Mathias has not yet been chosen, who have been a disappointment to this point. They are pre-Pentecost disciples. They have been unable to understand the simplest concepts, and they failed to do the simplest task. Regardless, Jesus trusted the immature disciples with the ministry. If Jesus could trust the disciples, then you should be able to trust a fellow church member. If you want to find your purpose, then you must trust God. If you want to find your purpose, then you must trust others.

I only have one regret in the ministry. I have found my purpose for life. I am glad I stayed here for twenty-five years and I am glad this place because my home. My regret revolves around a three-year period before I went into the ministry. When I graduated from college, I had a secular job. I met many fine people at that time, but the work seemed superficial. It wasn’t that I didn’t hear God’s calling. It was I tried to ignore God’s calling. I was terrified of public speaking and I knew my eyes were problematic. I failed to see my strengths, because I was so insecure. I failed to answer my calling, my purpose for living, because I didn’t trust myself. How far do you trust yourself?

Third, Abraham trusted himself. Look at the scripture with me one last time. God calls Abraham to move to a new land to start a new race. Abraham goes because he trusts God and Abraham goes because he trusts the people in his life. Abraham goes because Abraham believes in himself. There is no sign in the scripture Abraham doubted himself. Abraham believed in Abraham. According to NBC News, 85% of people have a low esteem. Do you believe in yourself? If you want to find your purpose, then you must trust God. If you want to find your purpose, then you must trust others. If you want to find your purpose, then trust yourself.

George Sanders (1906-1972) was a true Hollywood star. In 1951, he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the movie All About Eve. He seemed to have it all, both fame and fortune. He should have been a happy man, but happiness was not part of his life. History tells us George Sanders checked into a hotel near Barcelona, Spain. He checked in but he never checked out. On April 23, 1972, he took his life. He had a heart attack caused by an overdose of barbiturates. When his lifeless body was found, and a suicide note was also found. This is what the note said:

Dear world, I am leaving because I am bored. I have lived long enough. I am leaving you and your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck!

How can a man with so much have so little? According to the world, Sanders had every you needed to be happy. He had everything he needed to be happy, but he lacked a purpose. There is more to life than collecting things. There is more to life than purchasing things. There is more to life than going to a party. God doesn’t call us to be consumers. God calls us to make a difference in this world. So let ask you the question of the day again.

What is your purpose? Your purpose in life is not necessarily your vocation, the way you pay your bills. Your purpose is your passion. Your purpose is the intersection where your personal interests meet human need. What is that one thing you enjoy doing that benefits someone else? I am convinced there are as many purposes as there are individuals. Your purpose could be helping the young advance in school. It could be helping the aged fill out their income taxes. It could be volunteering at some none-profit which helps some social ill. It could be keeping an eye on your lonely neighbor or traveling the world to help a stranger. It could be raising your children or watching after a parent near the end of their life. I am convinced there are as many purposes as there are people. Abraham’s purpose was to be the father of new nation. What is your purpose? Helen Keller (1880-1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was also the first blind-deaf person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1904, she received that degree from Radcliffe College. She once said, “True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”

Our Living Hope

We find ourselves today in the forty-second chapter of Job. It is the last chapter of Job, so let me remind you of his story one last time. Much has already happened. When our story began, Job had a good life. He was rich in resources and relationships. He feared God and shunned evil. He was considered the greatest man in the East. Even God was impressed with Job. That is when everything seemed to go wrong. God may have been impressed with Job but not the Dark One. He is convinced his pious ways would pass once hardship entered his life. Sad but true, God grants Satan permission to test Job. The tests are not easy, they are hard. Over a short period of time, he loses everything. Job loses his money. His oxen, donkeys and lambs are taken by foreign raiders, who killed most of the servants. His loses his relationships. All ten of his children, seven sons and three daughters, are gone in an instant by a mighty wind from the wilderness, while partying at the eldest son’s home. He loses his good looks. He is covered with painful boils from head to toe. He loses everything, except for his charming wife. She adds nothing to his life. Too bad the raiders didn’t take her too. Thank goodness for his friends. Job was fortunate. He had three true friends. At first, they say nothing, but in time they begin to speak. Their words are not helpful, they are damaging. They offer Job nothing but bad advice. Job rebukes them and begins to question God. Last week, God reminded Job not to cross the line in his questioning. The one thing God will not tolerate is arrogance. Do the people in your life consider you arrogant? That takes us to today.

We find ourselves today in the forty-second chapter of Job. It is a significant chapter because Job’s good life is restored. The scriptures tell us God blessed the later part of his life more than the former. He reconnects with his extended family, who are generous with him. He once again has ten children, seven sons and three daughters. The unknown author goes out of his way to tell us of the beauty of his daughters. It was not required, but Job put them in the will. God granted Job a long life. He lived another one-hundred and forty years surrounded by many happy children. The story of Job, which had grown so dark, has a happy ending. Can I be honest with you? I considered ending this series last week, but I couldn’t do it. I could not leave Job surrounded by problems, poor, lonely and covered in painful boils. I had to give Job some relief, and you. The scripture lesson for us today reminds us there is always hope with God. Let me state the obvious. Hope is extremely important.

How important is hope? Marian Zimmer Bradley (1930-1999) once said, “The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to travel than the road built in despair, even though both lead to the same destination. It all comes down to a simple choice: You can dwell on the negatives of life or you can look for the positive. Do you see what you have, or do you only see what you want? Here are five reasons you should stay hopeful. This list came from the Dream Achievers Academy.

  1. With hope, we can continue living.
  2. With hope, we can live through tough times.
  3. With hope, we gain strength and become energized.
  4. With hope, we are open to new possibilities.
  5. With hope, we act.

This is the problem. We know of too many people who left this world surrounded by problems. How many examples do you need?

Walter was one of the best men I have ever known. You may remember him. He was in involved in Boy Scouting as an adult leader for over fifty years. This troop met in this church building. His scouts were not boys, they were men who had limitations or challenges. Walter’s son, Tommy, was one of those scouts. Over a short period of time, like Job, Walter lost two significant people in his life. I was at the hospital both times. Tommy died first, then his wife, Velma, died a month later. To fill the void of their passing, Walter began to travel. In time he would travel to every continent. Walter traveled to Russia with us twice on mission trips. The orphans in that orphanage were children like his scouts, challenged. It was on those trips, we became friends. We were roommates. It was a sad day, when Walter told me he had jaw cancer. Surgery would be required, and his chances were not good. I was at Walter’s last scout meeting. Everyone present, both scouts and civilians, laid their hands-on Walter as I prayed. When the prayer ended everyone was crying. I stood with the scouts as his daughter drove him home. The next day Walter had his surgery. It was the beginning of the end. Throughout that beautiful fall, Walter, who loved the outdoors, laid in a hospital bed failing. When the end came, he was suffering. I spoke Walter’s funeral. I admitted he was my substitute father. Everyone agreed, he deserved better. Do you know of anyone who deserved better? I am not mad that Job had a happy ending. However, this is my question, why don’t happy endings happen more often? Why did Water, and so many others, die surrounded by their problems?This is the answer to that question.

Job was an Old Testament character and we are New Testament people. That does not sound important, but it means a great deal. In the Old Testament there is no great understanding of the afterlife. The idea of heaven and hell are undeveloped. You received your rewards and punishment in this world, based on the merit system. Your rewards came in the form of financial success, the abundance of happy children, especially boys, and happiness. That is why the Promised Land is so importance in the Old Testament. The suffering you experienced in this world was your punishment for living a sinful life. That is why Job’s friends said he was suffering, his hidden sin. That is why the disciples questioned Jesus about the man born blind. “Did he sin in the womb or did his parents sin?” Job was an Old Testament character with Old Testament understandings. You received your reward and punishment now.

We are New Testament people with New Testament understandings. In the New Testament, the idea of heaven and hell are well developed. There is no merit system. In the New Testament, we are saved by grace, and by grace alone. It all revolves around Jesus. Who was Jesus? He is more than an historical character. Jesus was the very incarnation of God. He left the perfection of heaven to slum it with people like us. That is why we celebrate Christmas. For a three-year period, beginning at the age of thirty, Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God, healed the sick to underscore his message, and showed us how to live. We are supposed to be practicing today what we are going to be doing for eternity. Jesus had problems too. He did nothing wrong, but on a horrible Friday afternoon he was executed. His corpse was laid in a tomb, but the tomb could not hold him. You know the story. Jesus walked out of the tomb early on a Sunday morning, conquering death. He was resurrected and that resurrection changed everything. Jesus conquered death, itself. The resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith. That is why we celebrate Easter. Jesus is our living hope.

Consider this fact with me. Of the four religions that are based on personalities rather than philosophies, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder. In 1900 B.C. Judaism’s Father Abraham died. In 483 B.C. Buddhist writings say Buddha died. Islamic writings say on June 6, 632 A.D. Mohammed died. The only one that is alive is Jesus. Let me make this more clear. In 33 A.D. Jesus died but came back to life appearing to over 500 people over a period of 40 days. How important is the resurrection of Jesus? The resurrection of Jesus separates us from the rest the world! Jesus is our living hope. Romans 10:9 is my favorite Bible verse. It says, “If you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” If that is true, then the opposite is equally true. If you don’t believe in the resurrection then the doors of heaven are closed to you.Being an Old Testament character Job got his reward in this world. Walter got his reward in heaven, thanks to Jesus. May we never forget what Jesus has done for us.

When George Bush (1924-2018) was Vice President of the United States, he represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev (1906-1982). Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow, Viktoria. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband. Jesus was his living hope. In the end, Jesus is our living hope. Desmond Tutu (born 1931) is a South African Anglican cleric known for his work in human rights. He once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”

Never Forget

On May 9, 1864, one of the forgotten names of the Civil War was lost at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. His name was Union General John Sedgwick (1813-1864). History tells us he was inspecting the left flank against the Confederate defenses. His officers suggested he stay low out of the range of the Confederate sharpshooters. He refused and stood upright. They were 1,000 yards away. He boldly proclaimed, “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” He never finished that sentence before a sharpshooter hit him under his left eye. He dropped dead. He never knew what hit him. Can I ask you a question? What killed the general? Did the confederate sharpshooter kill the general? Did the general’s arrogance kill the general? One thing God won’t tolerate is arrogance. That leads us to this morning’s scripture lesson.

We find ourselves today in the thirty-eighth chapter of Job. Much has already happened. We have looked at the story in the past. When our story began, Job had a good life. He was rich in resources and relationships. He feared God and shunned evil. He was considered the greatest man in the East. Even God is impressed with Job. That is when everything seemed to go wrong. God may have been impressed with Job but not the Dark One. He is convinced his pious ways would pass once hardship entered his life. Sad but true, God grants Satan permission to test Job. The tests are not easy, they are hard. Over a short period of time, he loses everything. Job’s money is gone. His oxen, donkeys and lambs are taken by foreign raiders, who killed most of the servants. His relationships are gone. All ten of his children, seven sons and three daughters, are gone in an instant by a mighty wind from the wilderness, while partying at the eldest son’s home. Even his good looks are gone. He is covered with painful boils from head to toe. He loses everything, except for his charming wife. She adds nothing to his life. Too bad the raiders didn’t take her too. Thank goodness for his friends. Job was fortunate. He had three true friends. At first, they say nothing, but in time they begin to speak. Their words are not helpful, they are damaging. They offer Job nothing but bad advice. Job rebukes them and begins to question God. All this takes us to this morning’s scripture lesson.

The thirty-eighth chapter is significant because it is the first time God, Himself, speaks. The first eleven verses are His opening words. Those words set the tone for the entire discussion. To say the least, God puts Job in his place. God reminds Job that he created everything and brought order to the universe. That means God is in charge and has the final word. Mankind is only a temporary fixture in this world, but God is eternal. God is God and Job is nothing. Some things don’t change. God is still God and, we are nothing. It is a humbling thing to compare yourself to God. When was the last time you compared yourself to God? Can I state the obvious? We live in arrogant times.

One of the things we must guard against is arrogance. Proverbs 16:5 says, “God detests arrogance of the heart; Be sure of this: they will not go unpunished.” There is a world of difference between confidence and arrogance. Webster defines confidence as, trusting in our own abilities, qualities and judgement. Webster defines arrogance as, exaggerating one’s own worth. You can be confident and humble. It is impossible to be arrogant and humble. Confident people can use their gifts to the glory of God. Arrogant people only promote themselves. There is a world of difference between self-confidence and arrogance.

Many believe, including me, we live in extremely arrogant times, especially in America. Many believe we simply don’t need God because our world supplies all our needs. Just think about it for a moment. From the moment we are born, we are told America is different from the rest of the world. We are told Americans is better than the rest of the world. We have an economy that is healthy and a military that is powerful. We see people trying to come into America illegally because they want what we have, opportunity. Our patriotism tells us to be proud of America, but when does our national pride turn into national arrogance? That is a hard question to answer. It is hard not to be arrogant, when you considered all the modern advances we have made.

We have advanced when it comes to communication. Years ago, Kathryn would travel to Eastern Europe and I would stay home with the girls. During those early trips, we would hear nothing from her for two weeks. We used to joke CNN will tell us if something goes wrong. Over the years, those trips have changed. Today, we travel together, and communicate daily with people at home. Sometimes, it is a text. Sometimes, it is an email. Occasionally, it is phone call. Some call me when I’m out of the country and they think I’m in the country because the signal is so clear. It is an incredible evolution. It is a good time to be alive. We have advanced when it comes to communication.

We have made advances in transportation. Did you know it took the Pilgrims 66 days to sail to North America in 1620? That is over two months. The Wright brothers had their first successful flight in 1903. That experience changed our world. People fly regularly today. When Kathryn and I flew to Scotland a few weeks ago we were there in less that twelve hours, including layovers. Did you know, according to FlightAware, there are 9,728 planes are in the air on an average day carrying 1,270,406 people? It is a good time to be alive. We have made advances in transportation.

We have made advances in medicine. Did you know Mary Queen of Scots married Francis II of France at sixteen years old in 1558? Did you know he died two years later making Mary a widow at eighteen years old? His death was tragic. He died because he got an ear infection. They didn’t know how to treat ear infections in 1560. That sad fact illustrates a simple point. We have made advances in medicine. We are making medical advances regularly. It is a good time to be alive because the medical world has advanced.

Don’t misunderstand what I am about to say. There is nothing wrong with patriotism. There is nothing wrong with advances in communications. There is nothing wrong with advances in transportation. There is nothing wrong with medical advances. There is nothing wrong with any of those things, until they lead us away from God. It is a great time to be alive, but it is a dangerous time to be alive spiritually. Each one of our blessings, each one of our advances tells us a lie. Each one says we don’t need God anymore because we have evolved beyond Him. In many ways we are like every other generation in history. Mankind always has and always will need God. Never forget, God is God. It is God who placed you in the United States of America. It is God who developed the world’s languages. It is God who gave us the minds to develop modern transportation and medicine. It is the same lesson Job received years ago. Mankind is only a temporary fixture in this world, but God is eternal. How easy it is to be arrogant in our time. Never forget, God hates arrogance.

The date was September 11, 2001. Do you remember that day? It started like every other day, but it would become a day we would never forget. You know the facts by now. There were four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group Al-Qaeda. Using commercial aircraft, they were successful on two of the attacks, the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC. They failed on a third, the White House or the Capital Building. That plane crashed in western Pennsylvania, thanks to the bravery of the passengers. In the end, 2,996 people died and over 6,000 more were injured. There was over $10 billion in property damage. Let me state the obvious. Our country changed on that day. Any innocence we had as a country was gone. For a short time our country united and swore we would never forget. It has been nearly eighteen years and we haven’t forgotten. If you were alive on that day, I don’t know how you could forget. Some things are unforgettable.

One thing you should never forget as a disciple of Jesus Christ is that God is God. That is unforgettable. In comparison, we are nothing. When was the last time you compared yourself to God? It has been said, “Humility is the greatest quality that man can have, and arrogance is undoubtedly the worst.”