When I first thought of doing this talk. I was going to start with a story of a blind mule called Claude, and then go on to the core message which would be about how you and I as individuals, and the Church as a body, should be encouragers of others.
Showing you how you could be building people up, helping the young and the old to dream dreams, and to see all that they could achieve in life, both within the Church environment and outside.
To be there encouraging others to be constant in their love for Christ. To be active in the service of Christ. To be tireless in your good works.
And then I thought, there I'd be laying more on you again. Giving you another job to do, to lift up the spirits of others. You probably have a hard enough time keeping your own spirits up with the trials that you are facing, and there comes this guy giving you another load to carry!
Instead of that why doesn't he try to encourage me!
We are living in an age of the big corporation and big business and big missions and it's hard to see what difference one person can make.
So why doesn't he give us a "for instance or two" to lift our spirits up?!
OK then, that's what I'll try to do!
First from the bible.
Noah was only one man. A preacher of righteousness as it says in 2 Pet 2:5.
Genesis Chapter 6: Indicates that he preached about 100 years after being told by God that He would destroy all sinful men from the earth. Noah, unlike the others in the world all around, believed God and acted to bear a witness. But he spent 100 years preaching, How long would you spend before you thought you weren't getting anywhere?
Next God told him to build an ark to save his family and all the animals. Let's read this bit.
(Read Genesis 6:13-16)
Gen 6:13-16 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.
This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks.
He obeyed and started building. 450 feet long! 75 feet wide! 45 feet high! 3 floors! Rooms! Something like a big car ferry! This took 40 -50 years according to some commentaries. Preaching and building! Preaching and building. No rain in all that time! Would you have thought he was crazy?
But what was the result of this one man's work? A powerful witness to the world and mankind saved through him and his family. So can one person make a difference?! YES!!!
So there's our word of encouragement in God's work; God is working something out here below, and your part will make a difference! It may not seem to for a long while. But remember Noah and think how the LORD has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.
And if you are a lady think of Queen Esther and remember that the LORD has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope!
the scripture for today is Jeremiah 29, verse 11.
Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.
Now what about an example from this age. I decided to tell you a story after all but not about Claude. A story about daffodils. Now it's written by a woman about what happened to her, and it's told in the first person, so bear that in mind as I read. I've left the story as it was though. The lady should get the credit for making the point.
THE DAFFODIL PRINCIPLE..
Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive.
"I will come next Tuesday, " I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call.
Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!"
My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all the time, Mother." "Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her.
"I was hoping you'd take me over to the garage to pick up my car."
"How far will we have to drive?"
"Just a few blocks," Carolyn said. "I'll drive. I'm used to this."
After several minutes, I had to ask, "Where are we going? This isn't the way to the garage!"
"We're going to my garage the long way," Carolyn smiled, "by way of the daffodils."
"Carolyn," I said sternly, "please turn around."
"It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand-lettered sign that read, "Daffodil Garden." We got out of the car and each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped.
Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes.
The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns - great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres (20,000 sq metres) of flowers.
"But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn. "It's just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well kept "A-Frame" house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house. On the patio, we saw a poster.
"Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking" was the headline.
The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read.
The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and very little brain."
The third answer was, "Began in 1958."
There it was, The Daffodil Principle. For me, that moment was a life-changing experience.
I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun - one bulb at a time - to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world. This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of indescribable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.
The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time - often just one baby-step at a time - and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.
"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!"
A goal in Christ's work or to help others or a personal goal.
My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. "Start today!" she said.
And the message for all of us is this. ‘Don’t despise small beginnings. You CAN make a difference; just look out for the opportunities God shows you, where he can push forward His plans for you’.