Sunday Night Live Sermons
My Favourite Scripture Passages
Fay Overton, a long time member, staff member and volunteer to Wesley Mission, passed away early Tuesday morning. Fay was a member of our Sunday Night Live congregation and will be dearly remembered by her friends of Wesley Mission as an extremely dedicated, devout and committed lady who served us well. She was not well known by many people as she was the supreme example of a self-effacing servant of all who was prepared to work quietly in the back room.
Fay trained and worked as a legal secretary for thirty years, but she was also the publisher of Christian Endeavour study materials, secretary to more than a dozen executive committees and church organisations, a key worker in the Billy Graham Crusades, a fund raiser for busses for disabled children on the Northern Beaches, an organiser of travel holidays for disabled adults, a leader in a seniors ministry, Sunday school teacher, aunty to nieces and nephews, to godchildren and a multitude of other peoples’ children, baby sitter to our children, who in tribute to her unbelievably fast typing skills called her “machine gun fingers”, donor to her World Vision orphans, prayer convenor to the Sudan Interior Mission, and a dozen other Christian activities. Fay was secretary to two Superintendents of Wesley Mission. Firstly, as Rev. Alan Walker’s secretary, and later as mine for many years. She is warmly remembered by many staff for her dedication, the many “extra” activities she undertook and the gentle way in which she dealt with everyone she met. After she retired Fay continued to be involved within the life of the Mission volunteering on a weekly basis. In our Pastoral Services offices, she typed our mid-week Orders of Service.
Fay was physically strong, loved needle craft, was extremely fit and committed to many good causes. With all of that, you would be surprised to know that for years she battled cancer, underwent surgery and chemotherapy. Even when illness forced her to remain at home or in hospital, Fay retained her interest in the Mission “family” and its many activities. A Service of Thanksgiving was held for Fay at her local Castlecrag Uniting Church on Thursday. The church was packed with people whose lives she influenced and served in her manner. Many people spoke of her strength in serving others. What was her secret? Her general fitness? Her wide interests? Her sensible diet? Everyone would agree, that she had amazing inner power. What was the source of that inner power?
All kinds of ordinary people want to find the secret of inner power. The poor lack power over their situation and want inner power to control their own lives. People with debt problems realise they need inner power to enable them to reduce their outgoings in line with their cash inflow. People wanting to reduce their intake of food, alcohol, caffeine or other drugs know they must have inner power to enable them to take control of their own lives. Aborigines know their future is bleak unless they can gain inner power to overcome all the forces against their race. One of the greatest needs of our time is to find the secret of inner power. The Bible reveals that secret of finding inner power to all who take it seriously. It teaches three steps: it involves us in having the right attitude, right belief and right commitment. Each without the other helps, but inner power at the max. requires right attitude, belief and commitment.
1. A RIGHT ATTITUDE GENERATES INNER POWER.
One of the great discoveries of the twentieth century is that a right attitude generates inner power. For years as a Probation Officer, I dealt with teenagers and young men in trouble with the law, facing punishment or released from prison on parole. All of them had a low self-image and poor self-esteem. We would work to change their attitudes to themselves, the community and God. With right attitudes they discovered inner power to change their behaviour patterns from destructive to constructive, from negative to positive, from being part of the community’s problem to part of the community’s answer. Miracles occurred in ordinary lives because a right attitude generates inner power. A right attitude can overcome all kinds of disability.
I read of a boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident. What hope had he? But he had the willingness to learn and the attitude that said he would succeed. The boy took lessons with an old Japanese judo master. But the boy was impatient that the old Master spent almost all of his training time on one move. “Sensei,” the boy finally said, “Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?” “This is the only move you’ll ever need to know,” the sensei replied. Believing in his teacher, the boy kept training. Eventually the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals. This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced.
For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. But his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy won the match and the tournament. On the way home, the boy and sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind. “Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?” “You won for two reasons,” the sensei answered. “First, you’ve mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defence for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.” With the right attitude the boy’s weakness had become his strength.
Jesus said, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and cast into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” Mark 11:23 It is amazing to have the power to have “what you say” and this power is available to “whoever believes”. The operation of spiritual power requires the attitude of faith and trust. This verse says ‘whoever’. There is power in our words when we believe in our hearts and don’t doubt. For the Christian, someone who belongs to Jesus Christ and is submitted to Him, spiritual power is a command, not an option. “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” Ephesians 6:10 Spiritual power is a key to waking up sleeping Christians. Power to achieve, to build, to create, always starts with a new attitude towards the problem, a new dream for the world. Without the attitude nothing happens. People have to dream impossible dreams. As the Bible says, “Without a vision the people perish.”
The dream grows into attitudes of optimism, faith, hope, confidence, perseverance. Impossibilities are created; improbabilities occur; miracles happen. Right attitudes generate inner power. Jesus Christ taught people to seek the miracles within that can be released by inner power when people get the right attitude to themselves, to others and to God. In reflecting upon this John said: “To as many as did receive Him, to them He gave power to become the children of God.” John 1:12 A right attitude to yourself, others and God generates inner power. Jesus had it right. The right attitude towards God generates the inner power enabling you to become His child; the right attitude to yourself generates power enabling you to become a brand new creature; the right attitude to others generates inner power to keep you happy and healthy.
2. A RIGHT BELIEF GENERATES INNER POWER.
Isaiah in one of the most loved chapters of the Bible, encourages the Israelites while they were captives in Babylon, by remembering that God is the powerful creator of all and is able to empower them. Isaiah 40:21–31 God gives strength. Old Age takes it from us. We do not dream the dreams we once did, nor see the visions. We become weak and tired, and some fall exhausted. “But those who trust the Lord for help find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.” What a promise of inner power! I was interviewing our son David, Senior Pastor of Belconnen Baptist Church, one of the fastest growing churches in Australia. While he was talking so well and so clearly on television I thought of all the years when he needed speech help at school.
I thought of the difficulty of a young man who wants to be a preacher but who suffers from speech impairment. Today he preaches to hundreds of people in Canberra, a very sophisticated city, who every night watch polished people deliver newscasts, reading from Teleprompters. Here he stands, before the people, with hardly a note. The preacher who is walking with God has a communicative tool unavailable to any other communicator on earth, and that is the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can take a stammering preacher’s message and use it to bring about miraculous changes in the lives of others.
3. A RIGHT COMMITMENT GENERATES INNER POWER.
A right attitude, right belief and right commitment generate inner power. Lance Armstrong is an American cyclist famous for recovering from cancer to subsequently win the Tour de France a record six consecutive times. This week he is leading in the 2005 Tour de France towards his seventh victory. In 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to His lungs and brain. His doctors told him that he had a fifty-percent chance of survival. After His recovery, one of His doctors told him that His actual odds of survival were considerably smaller say 3%. Armstrong recovered after invasive surgery to remove brain lesions and a severe course of chemotherapy. Lance’s comeback came in 1999, when he won His first Tour de France. Lance trains Spain for the year leading up to the Tour, and fully analyses and rides the Tour course. His riding style is distinctive. Pedalling very quickly, often in a lower gear than His competitors, he can maintain a cadence of 120 cycles per minute on the flat, and rapidly accelerates away from his rivals who use higher gears.
But in over 300 random drug tests, he has never proved positive to any illicit drug. This week Armstrong may win his seventh straight Tour de France. The race is the most gruelling challenge in sports: more than 2,000 miles over almost a month at speeds up to 70 miles an hour, up and down mountains in all weather. But he expects to win. His yellow LiveStrong bracelets are on wrists all over the world. He says, “What’s really scary is crashing in a race. The first week of the Tour is the worst. You’ve got 200 guys who want to be at the front, and it’s aggressive and gnarly and windy. I look straight ahead, just waiting for some kook in front of me to crash. Then the race goes on, and you add rain or cobblestones. Last year on the cobbles I was so scared I felt like a child, just terrified. Two things scare me. The first is getting hurt. But that’s not nearly as scary as the second, which is losing.” Lance Armstrong has the right commitment that generates inner power.
Inner power is generated by your right attitude, right belief and right commitment. They generate inner power. No commitment is greater than that to Jesus Christ. Commit yourself to Jesus Christ now! Paul said, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12–13. Paul had learned the secret of trusting God in every situation. His was no Stoic philosophy, tracing his resources to inner fortitude. Instead, his strength for “everything” lay in the One who continually empowered him. The apostle knew that Christ would give him the inner power for whatever might come.