Make A Difference!

Hebrews 11:23-27

One single person can make a difference!
Never doubt that!
One person can make an impact.

The phone rings. Your husband is calling to say,
"Don't cook. I'm going to take you out for dinner."

In the hospital your loved one recovers from a life-threatening, pneumonia.
You flip a switch and a light comes on and lights up a dark room chasing away
your child's night-time fears.

Three separate events, yet a common thread is woven through them all.
Each is the result of one person making a difference.

Alexander Graham Bell made possible that phone call.
Alexander Fleming developed the cure for your loved one's recovery.
Thomas Edison invented the light bulb illuminating your child's room.

Scientists are not the only ones who can make the world a better place.
You, too, can make a difference in the lives of those around you.
And every Christian should make that a priority.

You can be the one who brings people together.
You can be the one who brings encouragement to the discouraged.
You can be the one who shines the light of truth that brings light to those
in the darkness of doubt and fear.

God can use you with the abilities He has already given you to make a difference.
With His help, you can make a difference.
There is a roll call in Hebrews 11 of men and women who made a difference:
Abel...Enoch...Noah...Abraham...Isaac...Jacob...Joseph...Moses...
and the list continues until this day.
You can add your name to that list.
You can make a difference!

God asks something great of every one of us.
Not something easy.
Not something that comes naturally.
Not something that will cost us nothing.
But something great!
Then, we can also join that great roll call of those who have made a difference!

The years ahead of us will become increasingly difficult years in which to minister.
You can count on it!
We will face temptations like never before.
In the exhausted heat of the battle, it is easy to forget that our God will fight for us.
Under the cynical eye of critics and of those who disregard God, it is easy to throw a pity-party
and cry out with Elijah, "I, alone am left."
When those times hit us and we feel like giving up -- look to God's Word!

Look with me at Hebrews 11:23-27:

"By faith, Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents,
because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict
."
(Verse 23)

It is so easy to be afraid of the people around us.
We are so intimidated by what others will think of us, and what they will say to us,
and what they will do to us.
And, often, what we think they might think, say or do -- they might not.
When we do this, we ascribe mythical, superpowers to them which they do not have.
They are merely humans, like us, with their own weaknesses and failures.

Moses' parents took the first steps in instilling greatness in their son
by modeling courage before him.
This is a trait that would come to shape Moses' own life.
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
Choosing rather to endure affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect
unto the recompence of the reward.
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured,
as seeing Him who is invisible
.”
(Hebrews 11:24-27)

Those last few words hold the key to greatness.
Those last few words tell us how we can make a difference.
Here is the key -- his eyes were on God.
This is how he was able to endure.

Moses had staying power.
He kept his eyes on the goal, and not on the obstacles.
Moses had staying power -- even with all the changes that challenged him.

He kept his eyes on God, not the obstacles.
He endured in his eighties, in his nineties, and on into his hundreds.
He endured despite the contempt of Pharaoh.
He endured the stubbornness of the Hebrews who grumbled, maligned him,
complained, and rebelled.
He endured amidst the criticism of those closest to him: Miriam, his sister; Aaron, his brother;
Dothan and Abiram, his companions.
"He endured! As seeing Him who is unseen."
He fixed his eyes on the Lord, and never looked back.
You and I can do the same!
We can endure by fixing our eyes on our Lord.

Then we will be courageous:

Even when conspirators seem to prosper.
Even when the wicked seem to be winning.
Even when the pressure seems to be unbearable.
Even when the critics won't shut up.
Even when big people act contemptibly small.
Even when we feel as though we're all alone.
Even when wrong is enthroned and truth is fighting for existence.
Whatever it is you are facing - look at Christ!

As you stand on the edge of a new change, a new challenge, a new commitment
-- look at Christ!
We must fix our eyes on our unchanging Christ:

Moses endured!
He made a difference!
He made a difference because he fixed his eyes on His invisible Lord!

Every one of us can make a difference!

Whatever it is you are facing - stand strong!
Walk in quiet confidence, not in veiled pride.
Be firm without being untouchable and stubborn.
Be enduring, but not discourteous.
Be full of truth, balanced well with grace.
If you keep your eyes on Jesus, you can make a difference!

Ministry is making a difference in someone's life.
That is the purpose of ministry.
If you want your life to be meaningful, then invest it in the lives of others.
When you make a difference in someone's life, you create a chain reaction.

In 1858 a Sunday School teacher, Mr. Kimball, led a Boston shoe clerk to give his life to Jesus Christ.
The clerk was Dwight L. Moody who became an evangelist.
In 1879 while preaching in England the heart of a pastor named F.B. Meyer was set on fire,
who later came to an American college campus to preach.
Under his preaching a student by the name of Wilbur Chapman was saved.
He engaged in YMCA work and employed a former baseball player named Billy Sunday,
to do evangelistic work.
Billy Sunday held a revival in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Because the revival stirred the hearts of many, some 30 business men wanted to devote
a day of prayer for Charlotte.
In May of 1934 a farmer lent the men some land to use for their prayer meeting.
The leader of the business men, Vernon Patterson prayed,
"Out of Charlotte the Lord would raise up someone to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth."

The business men then called for another evangelistic meeting asking Mordecai Ham,
a fiery Southern evangelist who shattered the complacency of church-going Charlotte.
The farmer who lent his land for the prayer meeting was Franklin Graham
and his son Billy became a Christian during the meeting.

Another illustration is that of the true story of Teddy Stallard.
Teddy described himself as an unattractive, unmotivated little boy.
He was difficult to like, especially for a schoolteacher who all daylong had to look
at his deadpan, expressionless, unfocused stare.

Although his fifth grade teacher said she loved all her students,
Miss Thompson had to admit that deep down she wasn't being honest.
She didn't like him, and she even received a certain perverse pleasure
in marking his papers with red ink and writing the F's with a flair.

Her view of him was already distorted by her perspective, but she should have known better.
As his teacher, she had his records and she knew more about him than she wanted to admit.

His records read like this:
First Grade: Teddy shows promise with his work and attitude, but he has a poor home situation.
Second Grade: Teddy could do better. Mother is seriously ill. He receives little help at home.
Third Grade: Teddy is a good boy but too serious. He is a slow learner. His mother died this year.
Fourth Grade: Teddy is very slow but well behaved. His father shows no interest.

At Christmas, her class all brought her presents in pretty wrappings and gathered around
to watch her open them.
She was surprised when she received a gift from Teddy.
It was crudely wrapped in brown paper loosely held together with tape.
When she opened it, out fell a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing
and a bottle of cheap perfume.
The children began to giggle, but she put on the bracelet and apply some of the perfume
on her wrist.
She asked the class, "Doesn't it smell lovely?"

When school was over and the children had left, Teddy had lingered behind.
He slowly came over to her desk and said softly, "Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother.
And her bracelet looks real pretty on you too. I'm glad you liked my presents
."

When Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and asked God to forgive her.
The next day when the children came to school, they were welcomed by a new teacher.
Miss Thompson had become a new person.

She was no longer just a teacher; she had become an ambassador for God.
She had a new attitude.
Now she was committed to loving her children and doing things for them
that would live on after her.
Because of Miss Thompson's loving attention, by the end of that school year,
Teddy showed dramatic improvement and had caught up with most of the students.

Miss Thompson did not hear from Teddy for a long time, after he left her class.
Then one day she received a note that said:
"Dear Miss Thompson: I wanted you to be the first to know.
I will be graduating second in my high school class. Love, Teddy Stallard
."

Four years later, Miss Thompson received another note. It read:
"Dear Miss Thompson: They just told me I would be graduating first in my class.
I wanted you to be the first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it.
Love, Teddy Stallard
."

Finally, Miss Thompson received another note:
"Dear Miss Thompson: As of today, I am Theodore Stallard, MD. How about that?
I wanted you to be the first to know.
I am getting married next month, the 27th to be exact.
I want you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were alive.
You are the only family I have now; Dad died last year.
Love, Teddy Stallard
."

Miss Thompson went to that wedding.
In Teddy's eyes she deserved to sit where his mother would have sat; she had earned that right.
She had done something for Teddy that he could never forget.
By a small act of love and kindness, she had changed the course of his life.
She had exercised the power of love.
She had become an agent of God.

When you understand the purpose of ministry is to touch the lives of people,
you will begin to have a passion for ministry.

To be used of God we must depend upon His power.
"To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me."
(Colossians 1:29 NIV)
Paul learned the secret of living in the power of God.
And so must we!

"O, dear Father, enable me to make a difference for You in my life and in my world!

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White