Friday Studies Ministries-The First Church on the Internet

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Sermon - 7/7/02    
Jeremiah 9:24 - Helpless But Not In Seattle

Helpless But Not In Seattle

“Let him who boasts, boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:24)

Before leaving Long Beach for New York, we were racing along the coast toward San Diego.  The phone call had come and now we knew: Tricia had an 8 pound, 1 ounce boy, and I was a grandfather again!  What a joy – in just another hour we would see them all in person.

But then everything changed.  Instead of traveling 75 miles per hour toward a variety of places, eight lanes of traffic slowed and then stopped – the freeway was closed!  Drivers were out of their cars, looking ahead to whatever had caused the delay.  We had told my son Chris by telephone that we would see him in an hour and twenty minutes, over four hours before!  And we still weren’t there!

Everyone’s engines were turned off and most were trying to call somebody-or-other on a cell phone.  My mother was with us, patiently waiting in the back seat and it was a concern, because we had little water for her, no food, and we did not know how long this would last.  We were out of cell phone range or maybe it was because we were next to a military base - we did not know.

We asked drivers in other cars if we could use their phones but theirs weren’t working either.  We were stuck and people started wandering around on the road.  We were drivers who had unexpectedly become pedestrians.  An occasional skate boarder or jogger passed between the cars, on the way to whatever had stopped traffic.  There was an eerie quiet and most spoke in hushed tones.

Genevieve was looking at the ocean and was a couple of lanes over, telling another driver (one who was anxiously trying to find a cell phone that worked) that we were on our way to the birth of a grandson.  He scoffed at that, saying, “Well, I’m losing a $300,000 deal and I can’t call anybody to tell them about it!”

It was an interesting moment in time.  Most had cell phones, but, as mentioned, they did not work.  We had homes but could not go to them; and fast cars that did not go anywhere.  Our schedules and intentions were at an end and we could only stand around and look at each other, wondering how long this helplessness would last.

It was a reminder that our intentions, our plans, ourselves – can be STOPPED in a moment; and for some, never go again.  But now we finally, ever so SLOWLY left the freeway onto a street called Las Pulgas, and we were again headed south, literally thousands of us; this time across Camp Pendleton guided by uniformed Marines at an average speed of about three miles per hour.  And just a few hours later, we were holding baby Blake Beckham in our arms.

“Let him who boasts, boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:24)Hannah Whitall Smith, speaking about our verse for today, asked, “Have any of us ever come to the place where we have honestly ceased to glory in our own possessions?  Never, I believe, until we have been deprived of them.  Human nature is so constituted that while it possesses it can hardly help glorying in it.  As long as a Christian feels wise or strong or rich in spiritual things, that Christian will almost inevitably glory in his strength, wisdom or riches.  But if these are taken away, he will be driven to glory in the Lord alone, simply because there will be nothing else to glory in.

For decades, I taught small, sporadic Bible studies that lasted for a few months or a couple of years, and then vanished, as the attendees went on to other matters.  And then nothing!  I knew the call of God in my heart and wanted to serve Him.  I wrote Bible studies into my journal, even when there was nobody to read or hear them.  Like so many, I NEEDED to express the working of the Holy Spirit within.  Finally, I gave up even the writing, for I at last understood that I was powerless to “make” ministry happen, in my life or yours.

That which you cannot do, He can do, and He longs to act through your life and mine.  As seen in our Scripture verse for today, you’ll PLEASE Him by understanding Him, knowing Him personally, and by placing your faith in His abilities instead of your own.  You can express HIS kindness, justice and righteousness into the lives of those around but only through His strength and His love.

“My” Bible studies, “my” abilities – none of this “mine” stuff really matters, for it is not our talents or skills the world needs but instead HE is needed, and He is indeed kind, just and righteous in all His ways.  Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35) but we tend to offer “bread” of our own making.  We wonder, “Why are they not satisfied with what I have given them?” and feel hurt when they reject our gift.

Reading the labels of most bread products, we find the chief ingredients are sugar and white flour, which pleases the lips but does not satisfy the need.  The world needs Jesus Christ and Him only.  He can make us thrive in the worst of circumstances and He can change our worst to His best.  We need His “kindness, justice and righteousness”, and by trusting in Him, we become USEFUL to others.

Lord, we have trusted far too much in ourselves and too little in You.  Many claim “faith” but trust in their own abilities.  Lord, we received an email requesting prayer for a lady who “thinks she is a Christian because she is a good person, and has worked hard for and earned everything she has.”  So many believe that way, but we need to trust in You.  We give up this self-centered reliance on ourselves and receive You now.  We love You, Lord Jesus.  Help us and help the lady who “thinks” she is Yours.  Thank You for coming into our hearts and lives.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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