“Highway to Hope!” – You are not the only driver!
I hate pointing out the obvious, but did you see the tractor trailer parked out front? It’s really is hard to miss. World Vision created one HUGE rolling advertisement! And what a great way to get people’s attention concerning Step into Africa. Now World Vision is not the only organization using this type of advertisement. Take Pringles for instance. Their hot & spicy chips will not only sizzle your taste buds, but apparently they also incinerated the entire contents of this truck. OR so it would seem. Pringles isn’t the only rolling optical illusion. Is this the biggest tote bag you’ve ever seen in your life?
John Holmgren from Shafer, Minnesota is often pulled over by State Troopers because they want a picture of him and his truck. John had all 2819[i] names of those who died on 9/11 painted on his truck and trailer so people would not forget. I think that’s pretty inspirational, I imagine you do too. Speaking of inspirational – watch this 30 second commercial for me. A tractor trailer fully equipped with washers and dryers so volunteers can clean people’s clothes. “13,871 loads of laundry were cleaned between Nov of 2005 and Sept of 2008 in New Orleans in the wake of two separate hurricanes - 1088 loads of laundry were cleaned over the course of six days in Baton Rouge, LA after Hurricane Gustav in September of 2008.”[ii]
Did you catch what they call this program? LOADS of HOPE! How do you feel when you put on clean clothes? People can go from hopeless to hope filled all because of someone else’s kindness! Today is the third week of a series we’re calling Highway to Hope! The Apostle Paul has helped us see HOPE in a whole new light. Paul can’t help himself. He’s constantly talking about hope. Turn in your Bibles to the first of two letters from Paul to Timothy. Normally I ask right now - DO YOU NEED A BIBLE? But I can’t today because we left all our Bibles in the Family Life Center. Be my guest to pick one up after worship. Let’s take a quick tour of 1st Timothy. Here’s what hope is. (1:1) Hope is confident expectation. (Go to 3:14!) Hope is not - wishful thinking. The reason Bible hope is not wishful thinking is that our hope is only as good as what we put it in. Paul says put chapter 4 - your hope in a living Almighty God not a dead lower g god or an inanimate object. LIKE money! Find chapter 6:17.
Do you know who this is? That’s the Papa John of Papa John’s! This is John Schnatter. John was in the news recently. He wanted to find his 1971 Chevy Camaro Z28. He’d been looking for it for 20 years. He sold it in 1983 for $2800 to help rescue his Dad’s business and then used the rest to start his pizza empire.
John sold his Z28 to the Sloane family and they sold it to Jeff Robinson of Flatwoods, KY. Schnatter bought it back from Jeff Robinson for $250,000 and he also gave $25,000 to the Sloane family for helping him locate the car. John was so happy to get his car back he gave out free pizza to all Camaro owners on August 26. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have that much money. But I also wonder – would I handle it right? Money – allot of money – can tempt people to do crazy things. You start thinking you’re invincible. You start thinking you have no real tangible needs. I’m so financially security I don’t even have a need for God!
Paul shows us someone who desperately needs God. Turn to 1st Timothy 5:3. Let’s go from one person who has tons of money to someone who has practically no money! It might be hard for you and I to grasp what it means to make God your real hope, but not for these women. (Read verse 3)
There are 1st century widows and 21st century widows. I see these verses differently today because my Mom is now a widow. Widows in Jesus’ day had nothing. No insurance, no social security, no savings accounts, trusts, 401ks or inheritance. Inheritance went to the children. She also had no means for income because women were not permitted to work. So what’s a widow to do? Find verse 5. Do you believe God actually helps people? Absolutely – sometimes that help is an angel – sometimes he sends the sound of an army, sometimes he sends hornets – sometimes he sends a pillar of fire – sometimes he sends a prophet – sometimes he sends a child. God is still in the helping business today. In the case of a widow she has two options for help! Two separate people but the same results. Option #1: Her own family. Find verse 4 & 8. Her help from God comes in the form of her family. I will take it even farther than that. Her family becomes her hope! Option #2: Her church family. This section on widows goes from verse 3 to verse 16. Look at verse 16. If she has no family she turns to her church family and again her church family becomes her hope!
Whoa. Back up the truck, Greg. You said Jesus is to be our only hope. Yes I did, but let’s get our facts straight. Last time I checked - Jesus went that way! Jesus went to heaven! But his body, the church, is not in heaven yet. We are right here in this world. And what does Jesus want his body to be - his hands and feet. What does he want his body to do? Dispense hope. Become hope shakers. Just like TIDE - dump out loads of hope on people. HOW?
This is what Paul told Christians living in Rome. Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what Paul challenged Christians at Colosse. Colossians 1:27: To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
God doesn’t care if Gatorade is in you. But he does care if his Son is IN you and IN me! How does that become obvious? Go back to verse 4. If you have begun to grasp what Jesus did for you, you will put into practice what it means to love God and to love people. (Please watch this commercial Bored Driver)
Jesus is the ultimate of anti-boredom! Life is filled with opportunities to put your religion into practice – to dispense hope. Look at these pictures.[iii] Is it a hand or is it a bird? Is it a hand or is it a cheetah? Is it a hand or is a giraffe? If you give someone a meal – a hug – a kind word – if you give them hope - you’ll blend in with Jesus. They won’t be able to tell where your life starts and where Jesus ends. They’ll think you’re JESUS!
As we journey on the highway of life – it’s easy to think we are the only drivers on the road. People are all around us and they need hope. Here’s the SO WHAT? Jesus is HOPE and God commands us to be his hope shakers. How? How do we dispense hope? It’s not as hard as you might think it is. Start simple. Smile – make eye contact & be kind. Smiles are contagious. It draws people in. Most folks are busy so we walk right past people without even looking up, so when you actually make eye contact another connection has been made. Be kind. Start by saying hi. Say hi to as many people as you can. Don’t be a car salesman – be normal. It draws people to you and to Jesus.
Being kind and engaging gives you leverage. It gives you a foot in the door. 1st Peter 3:15 tells us to “give to people the reason for the hope that we have.” Take advantage of any opportunity. Your friend may be going through a divorce but what they want is hope. Your neighbor’s child might be sick, but what they want is hope. If you want to dispense hope go on a mission trip. Look inside your newsletter and find a booklet called the Hope of the World. I asked people here maybe eight months ago – have you ever experienced a short term mission trip? And some told me. People have been many, many places. From Honduras, Mexico, Morrow County, Ohio to Portugal. Talk to anyone who has ever experienced short term mission work – you are not just repairing a house or digging a well or teaching VBS – you are offering hope!
Now if you physically cannot go on a mission trip why not send someone who can. Please look at the front of your newsletter. Team Africa leaves for Zimbabwe this coming Friday afternoon. 12 people. Would you pray for us? Everyday? The team collected money and you gave money and because we all gave - a house will be built. A bb goal will be raised. 100 bags of cornmeal will be given away along with 50 bags of a protein enriched drink. Hundreds will make Jesus their ultimate hope because the church got it right! Do you still need perspective? Then walk the life of an African child! Go through the exhibit. Would you consider financially supporting a child living in Tanzania through World Vision? Your support gets them good medicine. Your support gives them good food and water. Your support gives them an education. Your support helps them come to know Jesus as God’s only son. What’s worst than having Aids? It’s having Aids and not knowing Jesus. What’s worst than being hungry – it’s thinking no one cares that you are hungry. There is no plan B! We become their hope because Jesus is our hope! Jesus optical illusion[iv]