“Highway to Hope!” – Beware of detours & distractions!
Real change comes when you put your hope in Jesus!
Certainly every calendar is filled with “normal” holidays like President’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But nowadays calendars are starting to promote special awareness days like… January 21: Squirrel Appreciation Day
March 10: National Napping Day
3rd week of March: National Clutter Awareness week
May 23: World Turtle Day
September 19: Talk like a Pirate Day
What is a pirate’s favorite letter of the alphabet? ARRRRG! What’s a Pirate’s favorite holiday? Arrrrrrrrbor Day! What's a pirate's favorite restaurant? The Olive GaRRRRRRRRRRden! His favorite branch of the military? Arrrrmy National Guarrrd![i]
October 28: Plush Animal Lover’s Day
December 18: Bake Cookies Day
December 27: Visit the Zoo Day[ii]
And one more April 29 was Distracted Driving Awareness Day[iii] I’m curious? Are you easily distracted? Are you a distracted driver? When I was maybe 10, my parents took our family to Florida for vacation. We drove there in a packed Station Wagon. It took like 21 hours. We finally arrive – Fort Myers, Florida where my grandparents were living and we start taking in all the sights. My Dad turns on to this road which leads to the Fort Myers Beach. My Dad is watching everything just like the rest of us but forgets that he’s driving and all of sudden my Mom has one of those blood curdling screams (“BILL”) and my Dad has no time to brake he just swerves left as hard as can because if he had not – we would have driven right off the pier – right into the ocean.
I’ll ask again? Are you a distracted driver? The Virginia State Police called on all citizens in Richmond, Virginia last April asking them to DRIVE SMART. They asked people to make a pledge to “pay attention while driving.” According to a study done by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute – “nearly 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve driver inattention within three seconds of the crash.”[iv] Janet Brooking of Drive Smart Virginia said, “Drive Smart Virginia created this day of awareness to help people recognize the danger they put themselves in when they drive distracted. A person who would never consider drinking and driving may not hesitate to text while driving…”[v]
Let’s get specific when it comes to distracted driving. Driving distracted would include activities like personal grooming, eating, reaching for something in the car, cell phone talking and cell phone texting. A person talking on a cell phone is “4 times more likely to get into a crash. 6 times more likely is you are texting.”[vi]
Obviously, distractions are not limited to driving. It’s easy to get distracted in class at school. It’s easy to get distracted in meetings at work. It’s easy to get distracted in church as the preacher drones on and on. Believe it or not but distractions are so powerful they can even lead you away from God. Turn in your Bibles to Paul’s first letter to Timothy - 1st Timothy 1:1. DO YOU NEED A BIBLE? Last week we began a seven week series called Highway to Hope. The purpose of last Sunday’s message was to explain the basics of hope. Just like the dot on the map at the mall – YOU ARE HERE! You are here right now – whether you are 8, 11, 32, 46, 66 or 80. We are all journeying through life. And life’s journey has a direction. You can experience heaven on earth or hell on earth? It’s up to you. How Greg?
A mom, Mary, was almost crazy with her three young kids. She complained to her best friend Judy, "My kids are driving me nuts! They give me no rest! I'm going out of my mind!"
Judy suggested to her, "What you need is a playpen."
So Mary bought a playpen. A few days later, Judy called to ask how things were going. “It’s awesome. I can't believe it. I hide inside that play pen with a good book and the kids leave me alone for hours!”[vii]
Sorry Moms, hiding in a playpen will not bring you peace. Hope will though. How can you experience heaven on earth? It’s all in whom or what you put your hope in! Notice again what Paul says to his pastor friend Timothy. (READ 1:1)
Bible hope is different than our version of hope. Bible hope is a person. Our thoughts of hope are often filled with doubts and gloom. “I HOPE the check arrives today, but it probably won’t!” Bible hope is just the opposite. Since hope is a person there is now expectation, and not just expectation, but confident expectation. We confidently expect something good because Jesus is our hope. BUT – Jesus often gets replaced, by a cheaper model of hope. Satan tempts us to put our hope in someone or something other than Jesus. LIKE??? A few examples come to mind - sports, your health, your career & Caesar for them – government for us. Paul has an example. I think his is the best example. Turn now to 1st Timothy 6:3. (READ 3-5) I wish false preachers wore clothes that glowed or had teeth that were blue or they smelled like garlic – something that would give them away. But they don’t. BUT – you can still sniff them out. They smell like money. False preachers really like money. They become self absorbed. If you get allot in this world – you should give allot and if you don’t – Satan has fooled you! Listen to Paul’s warning. (Read 6-9a) Rich means “to have an overabundance in possessions.”[viii] Being rich is not bad, but it comes with a ton of temptation. (Read 9-10)
That’s not what God wants for Timothy – look at verse 11a. That’s not what God wants for you or me! Drop down to verse 17a. Command those who are rich… RICH? Well, that means this command is not for me. I’m NOT rich! Maybe Paul’s talking to Nero or Bill Gates or Warren Buffet but not to me. Don’t kid yourself. You are rich. How do we know? Go back to verse 8. If you eat three meals a day – you are rich. If you have more than one change of clothes – you are rich. If you have clean drinking water - you are rich. If you have a roof over your head – you are rich. Look again at verse 17. …hope in wealth… There is it! There’s Paul’s example – what do most of us put our hope in – wealth-our money!! Money drives us or what money can buy lures us into thinking, “I’m good. I have no worries in the world. I am set financially. Nothing can stop me now!”
Paul gives us two reasons why putting our hope in money is really foolish. Let’s finish verse 17. Wealth is so uncertain. Did anyone’s 401k or investments (retirement) take a hit this year? I bet your hit or my hit was less than Bill Gates! Forbes Magazine reported that in one year Bill Gates when from 58 billion to 40 billion. He lost 18 billion in one year. Warren Buffett was worse. Warren Buffett went from 62 billion to 37 billion. He lost 25 billion in less than one year.[ix] And I know what you’re thinking, “Greg, they’re still billionaires!” And I would agree. But do you think Gates and Buffett are feeling as secure this year as they were in 2008? If your hope is in your stuff you place confidence in only what you see. When that starts to disappear, so does your faith. The Bible says in Proverbs 23:5 - Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
Uncertainly is one reason why we can’t put our hope in our abundance of stuff. Arrogance is another. Did you catch Paul’s “in between the lines” comment in verse 17? I believe Paul came across some rich people who were oozing with arrogance. I’m curious? Do you remember Gilligan’s Island? Growing up the question I always heard was – who would you rather date? Ginger or Mary Ann. Well, I have another question? Who would you rather hang out with? Thurston Howell III or Gilligan? Hands down for me – it’s Gilligan. The guy may be a goofball, but he’s anything but arrogant. The temptation for people who have money is to be arrogant. Arrogant people often think - they are up here while everyone else is down here. Value is determined by how much you own, not in who you are as a person.
So what are we to do? Look again @ verse 17. All of us are on this highway called life. Some of us are young; some are not so young. Some are male; some are female. Some are rich and some are poor. But for all of us money can be a huge detour - a major distraction. Can I go back one moment to that driving distracted story I told you. What I thought was comical about the article I read were the top ten tips to minimize distracted driving. Stuff like – manage your time better – your car is not your dining room - reduce the use of technology – they could have summed up all 10 suggestions by saying “DO THIS - keep your eyes on the road!” Tell me the first word Paul uses in both verses 17 and 18! COMMAND! A command is not a suggestion. If you do not make Jesus your hope – you will be disappointed, frustrated and confused about life. Where your hope is so is your treasure. Find verse 17b-19. It’s so easy to forget. That’s why we have 9/11 remembrance services. Have you forgotten what Jesus did? He lost all his rights. His life wasn’t his own. All his blood was shed. He took all our guilt and shame. He deserves to be our eternal hope in this world. My wife and I have concluded that everything we have in this world is just icing on the cake once you know Jesus.
[vii] Email from Good, Clean Funnies.com/Sept 11, 2009/Peace in the Playpen
[viii] Logos Bible Software, The ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear/Rich