YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Minister John R. Ramsey once wrote, "For some time I have had a person provide me with a rose boutonniere to pin on the lapel of my suit every Sunday. Because I always got a flower on Sunday morning, I really did not think much of it. It was a nice gesture that I appreciated, but it became routine.
One Sunday, however, what I considered ordinary became very special. As I was leaving the Sunday service a young man approached me. He walked right up to me and said, "Sir, what are you going to do with your flower?" At first I did not know what he was talking about, but then I understood. The boy said, "I would like it if you are just going to throw it away." At this point I smiled and gladly told him that he could have my flower, casually asking him what he was going to do with it.
The little boy, who was probably less than 10 years old, looked up at me and said, "Sir, I'm going to give it to my granny. My mother and father got divorced last year. I was living with my mother, but when she married again, she wanted me to live with my father. I lived with him for a while, but he said I could not stay, so he sent me to live with my grandmother. She is so good to me. She cooks for me and takes care of me. She has been so good to me that I want to give that pretty flower to her for loving me."
When the little boy finished, I could hardly speak. My eyes filled with tears and I knew I had been touched in the depths of my soul. I reached up and unpinned my flower. With the flower in my hand, I looked at the boy and said, "Son, that is the nicest thing I have ever heard, but you can't have this flower because it's not enough. If you'll look in front of the pulpit, you'll see a big bouquet of flowers. Different families buy them for the church each week. Please take those flowers to your granny because she deserves the very best."
If I hadn't been touched enough already, he made one last statement and I will always cherish it. He said, "What a wonderful day! I asked for one flower but got a beautiful bouquet."
2. How often do you brighten up the lives of others with special acts of kindness? How often do you look for opportunities to touch lives?
3. Brethren, you can make a difference in the lives of people. You can make a difference in this world. You don't have to be perfect, rich, highly educated, in good health, or exceptionally intelligent. Regardless of who you are, where you live, or how often you have failed, you still can make a difference.
THIS MORNING, I WILL PRESENT TWO POINTS ON MAKING A DIFFERENCE.
I. WHY SHOULD WE BOTHER MAKING A DIFFERENCE?
1. There are many reasons why we should bother to be difference makers, but here are three that are utmost importance.
A. FIRST, WE SHOULD BE DIFFERENCE MAKERS BECAUSE OUR WORLD DEPENDS ON IT.
1. Our world would never survive if people did not help one another. We need each other to survive.
2. Where would this world be without good Samaritans? What would have happened to the robbed, beaten, and half-dead man if the Good Samaritan hadn't stopped to help?
3. Where would we be without the mother Teresa's of the world, who help the dying, poor, sick and afflicted children.
4. Without compassionate people, the world would disintegrate into chaos.
5. We need to be difference makers because our world depends on it!
B. SECOND, WE SHOULD BE DIFFERENCE MAKERS BECAUSE OUR FULFILLMENT IN LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.
1. Jesus never told His audience how the Good Samaritan felt when he left the inn and continued on his journey. But I am sure that he felt fulfilled because he had done something useful and good for his fellow man.
2. Can you imagine how Paul felt when he finally delivered the money to the famine, stricken church in Jerusalem? I am sure he was glowing inside.
3. When we help others, we help ourselves. A deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment floods into our lives when we take the time and energy to do something worthwhile for others -- just to lend them a hand.
A Thanksgiving Day editorial in the newspaper told of a schoolteacher who asked her first graders to draw a picture of something they were thankful for. She thought of how little these children from poor neighborhoods actually had to be thankful for. But she knew that most of them would draw pictures of turkeys on tables of food. The teacher was taken back with the picture Douglas handed in… a simple childishly drawn hand.
But whose hand? This class was captivated by the abstract image. "I think is must be the hand of God that brings us food," said one child. "A farmer," said another, "because he grows the turkeys." Finally when the others were back at work the teacher bent over Douglas's desk and asked whose hand it was. "It's your hand, teacher," he mumbled.
She recalled that frequently at recess she had taken Douglas, a scrubby, deserted child, by the hand. She often did that with the children. But it meant so much to Douglas. Out of all the things he could he been thankful for thanksgiving, he was most thankful for his teacher's hand.
4. Perhaps we can learn that is it not necessarily material possessions that people are in need of. They need a hand that reaches out to them with love of Christ.
5. Remember this: There is no better exercise for strengthening the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.
C. THIRD, WE SHOULD BE DIFFERENCE MAKERS BECAUSE GOD EXPECTS IT.
1. Some of the last words that Jesus spoke while on earth are recorded in (Mt. 28:18-20).
"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Mt. 28:18-20).
2. Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told His disciples to go into the world and make disciples.
3. To me, He commissioned all of us to go out into our homes, our neighborhoods, and our workplace and make a difference in the lives of people. Because you and I know that if we bring others to Jesus, He will make a difference in their lives.
4. I want you to notice that He didn't say go and serve yourself. He didn't say go and make as much money as you can. He didn't say go and do what ever you want to do. No, Jesus gave us an assignment. Go and make a difference! Go and turn the world upside down with Christianity.
5. Why should we be difference makers?
a. Because our world depends on it.
b. Because our fulfillment in life depends on it.
c. Because God expects it.
II. WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE DOES GOD USE TO BE DIFFERENCE MAKERS?
1. Most of the people who made a difference in the Bible were not well known. They were not all that talented. Most of them did not appear qualified for the work that God had given them.
A. IN FACT, SOME OF THE DIFFERENCE MAKERS IN THE BIBLE EVEN RESISTED AT FIRST.
1. When Moses stood in the wilderness in front of the burning bush, he must have been glad to learn that God was about to rescue the oppressed Israelites from their Egyptian captives. But when God said, in (Ex. 3:10) "I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt," Moses started making excuses. The man many people consider to be Israel's greatest leader tried to get out of being a difference maker.
B. SOME OF THE DIFFERENCE MAKERS IN THE BIBLE WERE UNQUALIFIED.
1. The apostle Paul, who probably brought more people to Christ than any other person on earth, was not an eloquent speaker.
"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power…" (1 Cor. 2:2-4).
Paul wasn't a great speaker, but God used him in a mighty way to make a difference.
2. David was such a great difference maker that he is mentioned more often than any other person in the Bible. But he started life as a shepherd boy, so unqualified that he father forgot to mention him when Samuel came looking for someone to be the king of Israel.
3. Rahab was used by God even though she had worked as a prostitute.
4. Mary was a simple peasant girl who pleased God and became the mother of the Messiah.
5. God doesn't always use people who are wise, influential, or of noble birth to do his work. Instead, "God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are" (1 Cor. 1:27, 28). He has often selected the unlikely people of this world to be his special difference makers.
C. SOME OF THE DIFFERENCE MAKERS IN THE BIBLE GOT OFF TO A WRONG START.
1. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach against their wickedness, but he went in the opposite direction and ended up in the belly of a fish. So God gave him another chance and he eventually made a difference.
2. David had fought a number of battles and was finally king when he slid into bed with Bathsheba one night and got her pregnant. In an attempt to cover up his immoraltiy, David--who is described elsewhere as man after God's own heart--lied and murdered. But God gave David another chance and he was a difference maker.
3. Peter was chosen to be one of the apostles, but he later denied Jesus three times on the eve of the Crucifixion. When he left the courtyard of the high priest, weeping bitterly, Peter probably thought that he was finished as a disciple. But Jesus offered forgiveness and gave Peter a second chance. A few weeks later, the disciple preached the first gospel sermon on the day of Pentecost and became a leader in the early church.
4. What can we learn from these biblical examples? Of course, God works through people who are highly educated, consistently faithful, well prepared, and in important positions. But more often, God uses ordinary people to be his difference makers. He uses people who initially resist, people who seem unqualified, and even people who have blown it previously.
5. Brethren, God uses people like us.
Larry was a truck driver, but his lifelong dream was to fly. When he graduated from high school, he joined the Air Force in hopes of becoming a pilot. Unfortunately, poor eyesight disqualified him. So when he finally left the service, he had to satisfy himself with watching others fly the fighter jets that crisscrossed the skies over his backyard. As he sat there in his lawn chair, he dreamed about the magic of flying.
Then one day, Larry Walters got an idea. He went down to the local army-navy surplus store and bought a tank of helium and forty-five weather balloons. These were not your brightly colored party balloons, these were heavy-duty spheres measuring more than four feet across when fully inflated.
Back in his yard, Larry used straps to attach the balloons to his lawn chair, the kind you might have in your own back yard. He anchored the chair to the bumper of his jeep and inflated the balloons with helium. Then he packed some sandwiches and drinks and loaded a BB gun, figuring he could pop a few of those balloons when it was time to return to earth.
His preparations complete, Larry Walters sat in his chair and cut the anchoring cord. His plan was that after he enjoyed some flying time to lazily float back down to earth. But things didn't quite work out that way.
When Larry cut the cord, he didn't float lazily up; he shot up as if fired from a cannon! Nor did he go up a couple hundred feet. He climbed and climbed until he finally leveled off at eleven thousand feet! At that height, he could hardly risk deflating any of the balloons, let he unbalance the load and really experience flying! So he stayed up there, sailing around for fourteen hours, totally at a loss as to how to get down.
Eventually, Larry drifted into the approach corridor for Los Angeles International Airport. A Pan Am pilot radioed the tower and told the air traffic controller that he had just passed a guy in a lawn chair at eleven thousand feet who had a gun in his lap.
Eventually, a Navy helicopter dropped a rescue line over Larry, and gradually hauled him back to earth. As soon as Larry hit the ground, he was arrested. But as he was being led away in handcuffs, a television reporter called out, "Mr. Walters, why'd you do it?" Larry stopped, eyed the man, then replied nonchalantly, "A man can't just sit around."
1. Larry's statement has a message for us. We can not sit around any longer. We need to go out and make a difference in the lives of others. We need to offer our hands to those in need. We must look for ways to help others.
2. God uses people like us. But we must be willing to allow God to use us.
3. This morning, Jesus can make a difference in your life. If you would like to have your sins cleansed this morning, come and be baptized into Christ as we stand and sing.