God Gives Us Hope

Psalm 42:5

Central Theme:  God wants us to put our hope in Him.

Introduction

         1.      Bring soap bubbles and bubble blower.

         2.      Make and blow some bubbles.

         3.      Say, “There are some things that we understand easily.

         4.      We understand love.  We understand that when we love someone we want to have that person close to us.  We can understand God’s love. We understand power when we look at a hurricane or a rain storm. We can understand that God is powerful.

         5.      Today we are going to talk about something that we may not be able to understand quite as easily.

         6.      Blow bubbles and say, “Bubbles are fragile and we can see right through them because clear but they are real.”

         7.      Today we are going to talk about Hope.  Hope is a lot like bubbles

 

          I.      Have a member read Psalm 42:5. 

 

                  A.  The Bible tells us that without hope a person will die.

                  B.   Hope means that we want something good to happen.

                  C.  Hope is not faith but it is just as important.

                  D.  Faith is believeing that something will happen.

                  E.   But you have to hope before you can believe.

 

         II.      Show a picture frame and a picture. 

                  A.  A picture of my grandson is important to me. 

                  B.   But I cannot display it correctly without a frame.

 

       III.      Hoping comes before believing and faith.  Hope holds faith up so we can see it.

                 

                  A.  Isaiah wanted Jesus to be born but he died long before Jesus was born.

                  B.   Adam and Eve wanted Jesus to be born but they died long, long before Jesus was born.  They hoped to see him.

 

Conclusion–Hoping is a good part of our Christian life.  I know that you are hoping that something good will happen to you.  What are you hoping will happen?  You are going to live a good life if you keep hoping.  “Hope does not disappoint.”

God is Love

I John 4:7

Central Theme:  God is love so He can do nothing but love even if we do not understand his love.

 

Introduction

         1.      We talk a lot about choices.

         2.      Each of us is given the liberty of making some choices ourselves.

         3.      I chose whom I would marry.

         4.      You chose what shirt or dress you would wear today.

 

          I.      God is God but I wonder if there isn’t something that he has no choice in.

                  A.  Have a member read I John 4:7

                  B.   If God is love, can he choose not to love? 

                        1.   Has God limited himself so he must love?

                  2.   But God’s love is a perfect love

                        A.  We often hear about a soft fluffy love that will give us     everything we want.

                              1)   You know, “Ask and you will receive.”

                        B.   God’s perfect love will do everything for our best.

                        C.  We may not understand God’s love is good for us.

 

                  3.   When my daughter, Carol, my two older children could not understand why I would punish her when she put her fingers near the electrical outlets.

                                A.  They loved her but they did not understand that she could die from putting her fingers in those sockets. 

                                B.   I loved her with a more complete love and I disciplined her to teach her.

 

               II.      God said that we were to not have sex before marriage.

                        A.  We should have only one partner.

                  B.   But we think we know better than that.

                  C.  Sometimes we decide to do thing our own way.

                  D.  Now there are people dying of all kinds of diseases because they did not obey God.

 

Conclusion–We may not always understand God’s love but he loves us best and with a perfect love.  No matter what we might do, he will never stop loving us…but his love is perfect.  That means that he will disciple us when be do wrong things.

Taking time for prayer at Special Gathering

Taking time for prayer at Special Gathering

Yesterday in DeLand, I had a wonderful conversation.  Todd is a member of Special Gathering who had to interrupt an important meeting with his job coach in order to attend our 3:30pm meeting that is held atThe Arc of West Volusia.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our purpose is to evangelize and disciple persons who are intellectually disabled.  Providing transportation is an important part of what we do.

After I picked up Todd to take him to our program, we exchanged the common small talk.  “How are you?  How has your day been going?”  Then Todd asked, with great seriousness.  “Is it true that Jesus had problems with the police?”

My first gut reaction was “Of course not.”  But before I could answer, the thought crossed my mind, He was arrested.  For Todd this was no simple request.  Todd is a man of small statue.  He is extremely passive and compliant.  Todd is a hard worker and enjoys nothing more than being able to help other people.  He loves to move the tables and chairs when I’m setting up the building.  He can sweep and mop with the best. 

However, one day while working at a local grocery store, Todd had encountered an argumentative customer who couldn’t be pleased.  Todd got frustrated and angry.  The customer called the police.  When the police arrived, Todd panicked and ran.  The police officer knew nothing about the situation; therefore, Todd was apprehended, taken down, arrested and carried off to jail.

His employer and job coaches intervened and Todd was quickly released.  However, Todd lost his job at the grocery store.  He spent several months at home waiting for a job opening.  Now he is returning to work.  Of course, he is concerned.

“Yep,” I told Todd.  “There were some men in the government who didn’t like or understand Jesus.  They thought Jesus was going to hurt them and take away their power.  Even though he had done nothing wong, they had him arrested.  Then he had a trial that wasn’t legal.  It all happened in the middle of the night.  The next day, they had Jesus killed. 

“Do you know why Jesus had to die?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” Todd said, “for me.”

“That’s right.  For you and for me.  Jesus wanted us to be able to become his best friend and he wanted God, his Father, to be able to forgive us of the bad things we do.  So he was willing to be killed so that we could be forgiven.

“Todd,” I asked, “have you asked Jesus to forgive you of the bad things you’ve done?  Have you asked Jesus to be your best friend and your boss?”

“I sure have,” Todd said with a smile.  “I just want to know about Jesus’ trouble with the police. Thanks for telling me.” 

To be honest, I’d forgotten about Todd’s brush with the local police during our conversation.  Todd is the last person on earth that you would imagine to have that type of concern.  After I remember, I wished, I’d probbed a bit more about his fears.  Therefore, I did what I could,  This morning during my prayer time, I asked God to help Todd be settled in his mind and heart regarding his return to work.  I asked the Lord to take my answer and to make it what Todd needed in order for him to be able to go back to work with peace.

Have some of your members had similar encounters with the police?  Are there ways you have been able to help your members adjust as they become more and more integrated with the public?  Are there ways that we can be proactive in educating the public to the needs of our population?

Money

Savings or Reserve?

Can you imagine how confusing it is to be mentally challenged and still have to pay and juggle bills?  Each month I start out with a plan that seems great only to be side-swiped with this painfully complicated bill-paying maze.  The bill-paying maze includes my desires, needs and wants.  I juggle delayed gratification with the “I Want It Now” demand that screams from my gut and overtakes my head.

There are the emergency break downs like an air conditioner followed by the shocking sticker price.  I must include the impulse buying that jacks up the amount of the grocery bill and my Wal-Mart check-out tab.  Can’t get through the month without the necessities and the niceties.  Merging the bottom line of my checkbook with the bottom end of my appetite seems impossible to accomplish.

I am the Area Director of The Special Gathering of Indian River.  We are a ministry within the dvelopmentally disabled community. Our goal and purpose is to evangelize and disciple people who are mentally challenged. The two programs which I oversee minister to at least 100 people with disabilities each week. 

 Many of our members are either living on their own or would like to move into their own apartment as quickly as possible.  The mantra is “it’s your choice.”  Of course, there is an independent living coach who comes in once a week for a couple of hours to insure that the checkbook balances.  Yet it is the complications of finances which concern me. 

Perhaps my concerns stem from the reality of my own bank account.  I thought this would be a great month with lots of excess change in my pocket.  That was prior to a large–very large–bill appearing in the mailbox.  My phone broke and had to be replaced.  In addition, my husband and I are feverishly saving for a new/used minivan to be able to transport our Special Gathering members. 

As I peeked into the Howard banking account balances on the Internet this afternoon, I couldn’t help but wonder how our members function as well as they do. I also wondered if there is more that we can and should be doing to help teach Christ-like stewardship of funds.  Is delayed gratification a concept that should be emphasized or left alone?  In the past, we’ve not spoken much about the subject of financial stability but perhaps it’s an area of training that is needed and wanted.

What about your programs?  Are you teaching stewardship?  Where are you getting your teaching materials?  What are the scripture texts that you use?