Where Do We Find Hope?
Sept 11, 2011
Scripture: Matt 7:24-29
OK youre probably wondering if I picked this Scripture because of what weve been experiencing this week with this record flooding from rain rain rain. The truth is no Ive had this planned for weeks because I wanted to talk about what happened 10 years ago on this date 9-11. This is the passage I used on the 1st Anniversary and I went back & looked at that to be reminded of that time and MY response to it as I talked to the church I was serving back then.
I found that what I talked about where we find hope is applicable to us in any difficult experience whether world-wide national local or individual. Thats really the point I want us to get today that it is from JESUS and His word & wisdom that we find hope in any and every situation.
Theyve been showing pictures and interviews on TV News from 2001 and for me, at least, its easy to remember what it felt like when the events of 9-11 took place.
I happen to be somewhat of a news junkie I get up & watch the news in the morning I watch it at/after supper time & I watch it again at 11 PM. On that September morning in 2001 I was watching the Today show getting ready to drive to seminary in Myerstown when the planes flew into the twin towers I SAW it on TV. I still got ready & started driving & got a call on my cell from a classmate who was already there she told me classes were cancelled so I went back home.
A new and dangerous world, the new reality, the world since 9/11 . . . all expressions we heard on TV after 9-11. And over these last 10 years a lot of things have happened. The acute fear and discomfort that we felt back then has subsided - and life has returned to some semblance of normalcy. But it IS a new normal. There are differences in our world because of what happened that day.
Weve seen over the years continual developments in airport security many more cameras in public places emergency plans being made and an underlying sense that the world is different than before that day Sept 11 2001.
For most of us - as we see the images of that day replayed on TV or reprinted in magazines or newspapers, it may return our memory to that day. 9-11 is truly an event that we can say we remember where we where when . . . , in the same way many did that Dec 7 when Pearl Harbor was attacked or Nov 22 when Pres. Kennedy was shot. 9-11 is like a flashbulb memory in many of our minds.
Events like this truly rock our world in so many ways. Physically, emotionally, economically, psychologically, and spiritually.
Interestingly, when 9-11 occurred
people flocked to churches immediately.
The small church I served 10 yrs ago, in rural Lanc. Co was named
When 9-11 happened a phrase
appeared on bulletin boards and signs everywhere a song that echoed from every
radio station, every TV show and most everyones mind it was God Bless
In the weeks following 9-11 sales of Bibles and religious literature skyrocketed. Church attendance rose. People who never lifted a word to God before prayed. WHY? Because people were looking for answers and instinctively many turned in one form or another to God.
When something rocks your world the way 9-11 rocked ours where else can you turn? There seems to be something inside many of us even those who are not very religious we look to heaven.
On the other hand there was an equally strong reaction in the other direction. While 9-11 directed many people toward God it also caused many to lose their faith and many who were already non-believers to become very vocal against religion because those who carried out the 9-11 attack were radical RELIGIOUS people albeit Muslim not Christian. 5:15
There arose in the following year, a movement referred to as The New Atheism, led by at least 4 best-selling writers, 3 of whom are scientific or philosophic academics the other a professional writer.
2004 - The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris, 2006- Letter to a Christian Nation,
2006- Richard Dawkins -The God Delusion
2006 - Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel C. Dennett
2007- God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens
Thats a story for another day I only mention it to say not everyone was looking to God for help when 9-11 happened there was a backlash to it as well.
But for the MANY who did turn to God - one of the deepest needs we have as a result is cared for by God, and his Word we find a resource that ALL of us need without which I am convinced we would not make it we all need HOPE.
The Apostle Peter wrote to the believers who were scattered throughout
I Pet 1:24-25
For, "All men are like grass,
As Jesus tells his followers about the signs of the end of the age when he will return to earth, in Matt 24, after he describes many things that will happen things that will bring great difficulty and tribulation to the believers in that day, nations rise against nations, earthquakes, famines, other disasters . . . he says, 34I tell you the truth, this generation [the one living at that time] will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
These passages suggest and I have found the same thing true in my own life when trials come I mean real rough times the times when words, logic and rational thought just evaporate in a haze of grief, pain, fear and uncertainty just like we all experienced 10 years ago when we watched the scenes from that day on TV - I have found as so many millions of others agree the only place to go is to God and to his Word!
King David in the OT was another one who went through some really tough situations not the least of which was Saul chasing after him, trying to kill him before he even took the throne. David needed to remind himself of what was solid and true, in the face of fear and uncertainty and as we can see if we read through his Psalms -- he turned always to God.
David would pour out his honest emotions he didnt hold back all the fear, the doubts the where are you God = why dont you answer me how long before you do something feelings -- and in Psalm 27 he reminds himself what is really important.
Turn with me to Psalm 27:1-6 READ
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold1 of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh
my adversaries and foes -- they shall stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.
4 One thing I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock.
6 Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
David is saying: when Im in an impossible situation - Im turning to you, God
Vss 7-14 READ 7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
8 "Come," my heart says, "seek his face!" Your face, LORD, do I seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger,
you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!
. . . . . 13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! 10:00 10:26
David pleads with God to answer and he is confident God will!
The very next Psalm he begins by calling on the Lord as his ROCK! Throughout the Psalms that is one of Davids favorite expressions for God His Rock.
Turn back to Psalm 18 Listen to the introduction then to vss 1-3
<To the leader. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:>
1I love you, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield,
and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, so I shall be saved from my enemies.
You can read the whole thing for yourself David knows who to count on when tragedy and fear rock your world God the Rock.
Psalm 62:1,2 David writes, My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
I wonder if Jesus had a bit of that thought in his mind when he told the story in Matt 7 that was read for us earlier.
Jesus uses the example of a rainstorm as something that rocks our world. How well THAT has been brought home to us in these last weeks!!! We have seen and experienced - the power of the wind and the rain! We can remember other hurricane & flood stories that we have been reminded of by all this water this past week. And only a few weeks ago we felt the earth shake beneath us not seriously but certainly a reminder of how nature is so far beyond our control!
As we think of Sept 11 and everything since; right after 9-11 there was the anthrax scare the increased terrorism in Israel two wars, first in Afghanistan, then Iraq and the volatile state of our economy the Recession that resulted in stock market losses long-term unemployment bankruptcies, mortgage foreclosures All these circumstances of our world are like continually pelting sheets of rain, wind and sometimes hail, inundating the houses of our lives.
Then add each of our personal struggles illnesses, life changes, relationship struggles, sometimes seemingly overwhelming responsibilities, financial pressures and we begin to feel like the scene Jesus describes: The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house
And the point of Jesus story is a comparison of 2 houses one built on sand and one built on the ROCK!
God is that Rock David said God is MY rock, my fortress, my deliverer! Thats what Jesus says here everyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock!
Isaiah, Peter, JESUS all said Gods word will stand forever never pass away His Word and Himself are the ONLY absolutely trustworthy thing in this world. He is the only ROCK that will stand and when your house, your life is built on him well, he said it so perfectly, Matt 7:25: The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the ROCK!
The events that occurred on 9-11 rocked our world for many reasons. And since that time all the other circumstances and events I mentioned have continued to affect our balance. For most of us the effects have not been nearly as devastating as for the families and friends of those who died the survivors who lived through it and those who were directly affected. Some folks even in the flooding this past week- have lost everything and whole cities are so devastated it will take a long time and much effort and money to rebuild.
We need to be in prayer for these people for strength, comfort, healing and all that God the Rock can give them to continue on in life.
There is no doubt that for all of us when 9-11 occurred our view of life changed. Some would call it a loss of innocence for the young whove never seen tragedy like this before. For our country after 9-11, a loss of the sense of security weve had that weve never been attacked on our home shores like that the uncertainty of realizing we dont know from whom, or where or how - another attack may come the world no longer seems safe as it used to be.
Since then there have been numerous other terrorist attacks in other countries as well. This just adds to the uncertainty as we see the threat is worldwide.
SO how do we cope, how do we adjust how do we make sense of the unease we feel because of the uncertainty - because of the realization that there are seemingly unthinkable situations that we have seen actually happen and therefore, there may be others similar or of different kinds we havent yet thought of?
In addition there are all the personal struggles and situations that happen to all of us.
I suggest what we read in Scripture what David did we go to the Rock Jesus and we take his words to heart that we be among those who build our lives on the foundation of the solid rock of Jesus Christ and his words for they are the only thing as we read earlier that will stand forever.
Several of Jesus statements are important to remember and to understand when tragedy strikes when grief, pain, fear and uncertainty grip us whatever the reason:
If you need comfort and reassurance John, chaps 14-16, when Jesus talks to his followers immediately before his arrest, can help.
[14:1] Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
[14:27] Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
[16:33] I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
And we remember the scripture from last week; [Matt 11:28] Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
This is the Rock that we can go to Jesus Christ.
Earlier I mentioned that in the aftermath of 9-11 the phrase &
the song God Bless
I took note of how the usual reserve in the media was put aside and for the moment it was OK to bring GOD into the conversation. After all, our nation WAS founded on Christian principles and though we may debate the fine points of the personal faith commitments of our founding Fathers our govt was set up to ensure freedom OF religion not freedom FROM religion.
MY thought in the midst of all the God Bless
The God we honor and worship is the God who gave us all these precious promises Jesus Christ!
Another statement he made in John 14 is [14:6] I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
To come to the rock that is Jesus means to come to him in faith. Not just calling out to God who is up there somewhere when youre in a crisis it means a very deliberate and honest decision to trust in Jesus Christ alone in who he is the very incarnation of God himself.
He did not say, Ill SHOW you the way he did not say, Ill TELL you the truth, he did not say, Ill explain the life HE SAID: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
HE is the ONLY one who can truly give you the peace you need in the most trying circumstances in life.
I always go back to Pauls instruction how to have peace: Phil 4:6-7. 6 Do not be anxious [worry] about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.b 7 And the peace of God, which transcends [surpasses] all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phi 4:6-7 NIV)
If you dont know these vss or where they are write this down this is real-life HELP!! This has saved my sanity more times than I can count as it is a reminder of what to do where to go FIRST rather than a last resort when everything else has failed & youre at the end of your rope and its fraying fast!
I KNOW there are some folk here who NEED this peace either because of a situation right now OR because of an underlying struggle something right below your consciousness that keeps you in a state of un-ease a lack of deep peace . . .
Im saying this is where you can lay it down you can go to the one who is :THE ROCK and find peace so your house will stand not in your own strength in HIS!
Let us pray . . .
© 2006-2011 Hibernia United Methodist Church, Chester County, PA - All Rights Reserved