“Highway to Hope!” – What’s at the end of your highway?
The words, “it’s great to see you again” just are not good enough. You folks look good. It was great to go and it’s great to be back home. The trip was both exciting (nearly 120 people came to Christ – we baptized 24 children last Saturday morning) & exhausting (Africa is a long way away). Thank you for sending us. Thank you for praying for us! John McGuire took nearly 3500 pictures. I promise to show you just a few. Pictures of new found friends and pictures of old friends. Pictures of how hard people work in Zimbabwe. Pictures of beautiful children. And is this true conversion or what? Dan Price sent these OSU shirts and hats over to several teenagers who touched his heart in 2007. They were grateful for his gift. They were grateful for all our gifts.
Let me give you a word of advice. If you are ever going to go to another country it is beneficial to know a little bit of the language. This is not Rosetta Stone, but here are a few important Shona phrases. Tatenda means “Thank you”
Chimbuzi means “bathroom”
Zvakanaka (Zsha ka na ka) means “good, alright or OK”
Huku means “chicken”. Because everyone in every language needs to be able to say, “It tastes like huku!”
Your greeting to someone in Zimbabwe is important. Its one thing to say hi, but most people greet each other by saying Manguanani (mang gwana knee) which means “Good morning.” They’ll end the day by saying Manheru which means “Good evening!”
The Apostle Paul also understands the importance of a proper greeting. Turn in your Bibles to Titus chapter 1. Do you need a Bible this morning? The Apostle Paul was inspired by God as he wrote letters to people and to churches. Titus is first a person. He’s a Greek believer. He was led to Christ by the Apostle Paul. But Titus is also a pastoral letter. Paul gives instructions to this man Titus as he leads churches on the island of Crete. Here is Paul’s greeting. Let’s read verse 1-4. (vs. 2)
Again the Apostle Paul cannot help himself. He has to speak about hope. 70 times Paul refers to hope in his letters.[i] Today we conclude our Highway to Hope series. Remember, hope first of all is a person. The person of Jesus. And since hope is Jesus then we can confidently expect God to keep his word. Look again at verse 2. Here’s my question for you this morning? What is at the end of your highway? What are you chasing after in this world? What would make life worth living? What is worth our life’s devotion?
Eight years ago, Hajnal Ban decided she was tired of being what she considered short. The 5’1” Australian woman had been made fun of most of her life, and she was convinced her height was the sole reason she wasn’t being taken seriously in the professional world. But what do you do about something as seemingly set in stone as your height?
Ban found a solution in Russia. Russian doctors agreed to “break both her legs in four places and stretch them slowly for 1mm every day for nine months. After all the breaking and the stretching, Ban then wore plaster casts for three additional months to make the changes permanent. The whole process cost her $40,000.
In the end Ban gained 3 inches. She went from 5’1” to 5’ 4”. She insists she gained respect. When asked if she would pursue further cosmetic enhancements she said, “I haven’t made a decision on whether I will in the future or not. I know I’ll get wrinkles and put on weight, and I’ll even shrink as I get older, so we’ll see what happens. But I’m not fixated on self image.”[ii] $40,000 says she is!
A N. Y. Times article tells the story of Diane Knorr, a former dot-com executive. "The first time I got a call way after hours from a senior manager, I remember being really flattered" and thinking, Wow! I'm really getting up there now.
But gradually, her work and family life became a blur with hours that were hard to scale back. "If I leave at 5:00PM and everyone else leaves at 6:30, I might look like the one who is not pulling his weight…”.
In college, Ms. Knorr set a goal of making a six-figure salary by the time she was 49. She reached it at 35, and "nothing happened; no balloons dropped," she said. "That's when I really became aware of that hollow feeling."[iii] Let me ask the question one more time. What’s at the end of your highway? What are you chasing after in this world? Paul emphatically answers that question with “the hope of eternal life.” The hope of eternal life is what enables Paul to keep preaching. The hope of eternal life enabled Titus to keep leading. The hope of eternal life puts death in perspective. The hope of eternal life enables us to remain faithful.
BUT maybe you are thinking, “C’mon Greg. How do I know that eternal life really exists?” How do we know that when this world ends - all of life ends? Why don’t we just live for ourselves? Our purpose in this life doesn’t have to be Love God, Love People. Let’s make it simpler – how about “it’s all about me!” We are smack dab in the middle of a dilemma – some people say there is eternal life, but others say that’s a bunch of bull! So who’s right? Go back to verse 2 in Titus 1.
God doesn’t lie but people do! People lie everyday. Paul gives Titus an example. Drop down to verse 10 in Titus 1. (Read 10-12) Will anyone here admit that while driving you became lost? A study was done to determine reasons why drivers ages 18 or older get lost while driving. The top five reasons were… 5) Unclear or missing highway signs, 4) Detours, 3) The map was confusing, 2) The driver became distracted and 1) The driver received bad directions.[iv]
Beware of bad directions in this world. Let’s ask two basic questions. #1) Is there a God? #2) What’s the purpose of life? There are many people in this world who will emphatically say to you. There is NO God! The majority of professors on university campuses today teach with the premise that there is no God! Someone’s wrong! Someone’s misinformed. Someone’s lying. And eternity weighs in the balance. We all have minds. We have the ability to think and then make a rational decision. I cannot reasonably accept that this world just happened by chance instead of by design. A car doesn’t come together by chance – it’s designed. Would that not also be true of this planet? Jim Russ sent me this Honda car commercial. (CLIP)
All the parts needed for making a Honda Accord are carefully thought out and then designed. They just didn’t BANG into existence. But many are truly convinced that’s exactly how this planet came to be – I’m not buying it! I pray you won’t either. God can’t lie. He’s the embodiment of truth. Satan lies all the time. It’s his native language. And people can and often do lie. All types of people. Husbands & wives, parents & children, friends & family, bosses & co-workers. Why do we lie? Why lie to cover up. We lie because we are afraid! We lie because we do not want to appear stupid! We lie because we do not want to get into trouble! Go back to verse 1 of Titus 1.
Who are you listening to in this world? Are you listening to godly people or to people who could care less about God? Who do you take advice from or seek counsel? If you are struggling in your marriage make sure you speak to someone who knows the answer to our 2nd basic question – What is the purpose of life?
What do you think is the typical answer? What is the purpose of life? The purpose of life is to be HAPPY! Period! Nothing more, nothing less. June Hunt has a ministry called Hope for the Heart which includes a radio call in show and she received a call from a man named Mark. Listen to their conversation for just a few seconds. (CD) Did you hear what he was saying? “I left my wife of 29 years, but I expect to be happy.” I’m totally lost why this new relationship isn’t working! I want to live for God but I do not want to die unhappy!”[v] Someone has fallen for a lie. I find it so bazaar that people think they can take God out of the equation of their life but still end up happy! It’s not possible.
The Apostle Paul knows the answer to our question. Look again at verse 1. Did you notice how he describes himself? Paul is a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus. Paul became a servant and a messenger. What’s the purpose of this life? It’s to serve God. Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, is the only book I know that starts off by saying, “It’s not about you!”
And it’s not. It’s not about you or me. It’s all about God. If there is no God than living life has no purpose except to cling to the temporary. Check this out. Have you ever seen a 10 billion dollar bill? This currency was not even in use when we were in Zimbabwe, but when it was $10 billion would buy you maybe one loaf of bread. Christians in Zimbabwe are not interested in the temporary. They want something more. They want what’s eternal. Do you? That’s what God offers. And what is eternal life? Jesus said this in John 17:3. Do you know God? Do you believe in Jesus?
[i] Logos Bible Software, Hope
[ii] www.preachingtoday.com/Goals Woman Chooses Painful Route to Gain Respect
[iii] www.preachingtoday.com John Schwartz, "Sick of Work," NewYorkTimes.com (9-5-04)
[v] June Hunt, Hope for the Heart, Volume 5/Mark’s call