Sun, 16 April 2017
Amazing Grace is perhaps the best loved hymn of all time. Here are the words to the first verse: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found. Was blind but now I see.” The author of the hymn was, by his own admission, a “wretch.” He was a slave trader, a blasphemer, a rebel, an immoral man, and a torturer.
As a boy, John was captivated by the adventure and risk of life on the high seas. When he was eleven, young John Newton launched into that exciting life of voyaging, sailing, and living his dream. But the dream turned out to be a nightmare.
Later in life he wrote, “I sinned with a high hand, and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others.” Newton lived a hard life with hard consequences. God got his attention though. In 1748, Newton’s slave ship was nearly wrecked by an intense storm. Surrounded by crashing waves, ferocious winds, creaking timbers, and the cries of onboard slaves, John fell to his knees and pled for mercy, and for grace.
God’s grace, which reaches anyone, anywhere, saved a wretch like John Newton. Newton wrote the song years later while serving as a pastor in Olney, England. Today, its lyrics still inspire, encourage, and instruct people about the radical reality of God’s amazing grace. It gives “wretches” like us hope.
The summation of Newton’s testimony is this: “was blind, but now I see.” What was true spiritually of Newton was literally true for a man that we will meet in the Scriptures this morning. He was blind from birth. But by God’s grace he was given physical and, more importantly, spiritual sight and life! God wants to do the same for us.
Signs: So You May Believe
“Was Blind but Now I See”
Sun, 9 April 2017
One of my favorite characters in J. R. R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings triology is Samwise Gamgee [show pic]. He is the ever loyal sidekick of Frodo Baggins. From Samwise comes a saying that has made its way into our vernacular. I think you’ll know it. Please finish this familiar expression: “Where there’s life, there’s .”
Yes. Where there’s life, there’s hope.
The idea is that, no matter how grim the circumstance are, so long as there is life, there is hope for victory. Once death comes, however, all hope is lost.
Where there’s life, there’s hope.
But this does not do justice to the good news of Jesus. The good news goes much further. The world says, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.” Jesus says, “Where there’s death, there’s hope.”
Because of Jesus, even death itself has no claim on believers. We have hope in this life and after this life!
How can we have hope when death comes knocking? Turn in your Bible to John 11 and we’ll show you the source of our hope. It is found in him who is the resurrection and the life—Jesus!
Read 11:1-7 and 34-44.
Transition to first point: Where there’s death, there’s hope. This hope is only and wholly because of Jesus. In our story today we are going learn more about Jesus and how he works in our lives. Knowing him and his ways better should strengthen our hope, even in the darkest of days. Now to be sure, there are times when his ways can be mysterious and even frustrating to us. The first thing that stands out in the story of Larazus is that Jesus waited. . . .
Signs: So You May Believe