Part 4: Lift Up
Proverbs 17:22; Ephesians 4:29;
Galatians 6:10; James 5:16
Sunday, May 6, 2018
Pastor Morris Brown
So, over the past few weeks we’ve been sharing a worship series entitled, Up. In this series, we are looking at 7 things our faith says we can do to live our lives more effectively. We began with a message entitled, “Get Up.” Our faith reminded us that if we want to have a great day we have to begin our day well. Our faith offered us some excellent suggestions for doing that. The second week our faith said that to live our lives more effectively we need to “Listen Up,” to be good listeners. We learned some ways to do that. Then, last week on Confirmation Sunday, Pastor Virginia shared a message entitled, “Stand Up.” She taught us that when we stand up for Jesus our lives are forever changed.
Well, today we come to the fourth message in our series. The title of today’s message is “Lift Up!”
You see, if we want to live our lives more effectively we need to be people who are lifting up the people who cross the paths of our daily lives. Why is that? Well, as Booker T. Washington once put it, “When we lift others up, we get lifted up!” In other words, when we lift others up it not only blesses their lives, it blesses our lives as well. So, how can we be people who are lifting others up? Well, this morning’s scriptures suggest four simple, but important ways.
One way we can lift people up is with our words of PRAISE.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up.” Here, we’re reminded that a word of encouragement or a word of support can make an incredible difference in a person’s life.
Those of you who are football fans are probably familiar with the name Shaquem Griffin. In case you’re not, Shaquem is a standout linebacker at The University of Central Florida who was drafted in the 5th round by the Seattle Seahawks. What is interesting about that is the fact Shaquem only has one hand. You see, as a fetus, Shaquem suffered from amniotic band syndrome, a condition during pregnancy that does not allow the fetus to fully form. As a result, when he was 4 years old Shaquem’s left hand had to be amputated. And yet, like his older brother Shaquem loved football and as a kid dreamed of playing in the NFL.
As he was growing up, however, there were plenty of people who told him that was not possible. As Shaquem put it,
“It started when my Pee Wee coach sat me down one day and said ‘football is for two-handed players’! Basically, this man who was supposed to be giving kids an encouraging word, was doing the opposite. Fortunately,” Shaquem continued, “I had other people in my life, who told me different - especially family and friends. They constantly surrounded me with words of encouragement and support. They constantly told me that - with a combination of hard work and a belief in myself - I could do anything I wanted. Now, because of their encouraging words, their words of support, my dream of playing in the NFL has come true!”
Maya Angelou said, “Words have the power to build up and tear down. So, let’s use our words to heal, to build up, to share love and to change lives!” Maya’s right! We need to use our words to lift people up!
Second, our faith says we can also life others up by having a POSITIVE attitude.
Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful disposition is good for your health, but gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.” And it’s true, isn’t it? I mean what happens when we’re around a person that has a good attitude, a positive disposition? It usually makes us feel better! Lifts our spirits! Charges us up! On the other hand, when we’re around a person who has a negative spirit, a pessimistic attitude, a gloomy outlook, what happens? It usually dampens our spirit. Brings us down. It wears us out! Just by our attitude we can lift others up or bring them down!
Earlier this week I was reading an article by John Maxwell entitled, “What You Say Before You Say a Word.” In the article he said,
“Everyone can choose to use words that lift up, encourage, and express a positive vision. And those words can make an incredibly big difference in the lives of the people we speak too. But, it’s very important to remember that every time we enter a room, before we ever say a word we’re communicating something – positive or negative – through our attitude. If we enter a room and slam the door? If we walk into the office without smiling at our co-workers? If we begin a meeting with a scowl on our face? We’re communicating one kind of attitude. And if we enter a room with a spring in our step? If we walk into the office with a smile on our face? If we begin a meeting with a joyful tone? We’re communicating a different kind of attitude! And the attitude we communicate will have an effect on everyone we encounter!”
We have a staff member at Christ Church who understands this well. His name is Bob Donovan. Bob, who’s better known as “Bob the Builder” by the boys and girls in our Child Enrichment Center, is our part-time maintenance assistant. Each day he walks the halls of Christ Church cleaning what needs to be cleaned. Fixing what needs to be fixed. But, Bob doesn’t just clean things and fix things. Bob does something else. With his warm smile, his kind spirit and his cheerful, “How are you today?” Bob lifts the spirits of every person who crosses his path – his fellow staff team members, our church members, and even guests on our campus.
Perhaps one of our CEC teachers put it best. When I asked her about Bob she said, “When Mr. Bob walks in you can feel the energy in the room change. Smiles appear on the faces of all the boys and girls. Mr. Bob gets smothered by hugs. And we all feel lifted up! Mr. Bob is an example for all of us follow!” Just by his presence, just by being a cheerful person with a good attitude, Bob Donovan lifts the people up! And the truth is, we can too! You know, the difference between a thermometer and a thermostat, right? A thermometer can measure the temperature in a room. But, a thermostat can change the temperature of a room!
If we want to be people who “lift others up” like Bob, we need to be thermostats and not thermometers! We need to realize that having an attitude that is positive, optimistic and joy-filled we literally bring light and life to the lives of the people we encounter each day. It can literally lift them up whatever’s happening in their lives.
Third, our faith reminds us that we can lift people up with PERSONAL acts of compassion.
The apostle Paul reminded us of this in Galatians 6:9-10 when he said, “Let us not become tired of doing good. As we have the opportunity, let us do good to everyone - especially those who are a part of the family of faith.” When people who are down, when people are discouraged, when people feel completely defeated by life, one simple act of compassion, one small act of support, one tiny act that offers encouragement on our part can make an incredible difference in their lives. It can turn defeat into victory, pain into hope, suffering into joy.
Let me give you an example. In 2003 the Portland Trailblazers and the San Antonio Spurs were about to play an NBA playoff game on national television. Just before the game a 13-year-old girl
named Natalie Gilbert was supposed to sing the national anthem. As the music started, however, the unthinkable happened. Natalie, who had never sung on television, went blank. She forgot the words! There was a moment of awkward silence, and Natalie was totally embarrassed. But then, Maurice Cheeks, the coach of the Trailblazers, did something amazing. He walked over to Natalie, put his arm around her and began to sing with her. Although he was out of tune, he encouraged the players and crowd to join in. And they did. Soon, over 20,000 people helped Natalie finish the song. When the song was over Maurice Cheeks smiled at Natalie and said, “Don’t worry kid, everyone has a bad game once in a while.”
It was a simple act of compassion. But, through that simple act Maurice Cheeks turned Natalie’s Gilbert’s anguish into joy. And now, 15 years later, Natalie is a successful singer and actress living in LA. As Natalie put it in a recent interview, “What Mr. Cheeks did for me that night not only lifted me up in an embarrassing moment. It saved my career!”
You know, we may not have the opportunity to help a kid sing the national anthem on television. But, if we will pay attention we’ll discover that each day God gives us many opportunities to lift people up with simple acts of compassion! Simple acts of compassion that can have life-long results for those we lift up!
So, we can lift people up by our words, our attitudes and our actions. Finally, however, our faith says we can lift people up with our PRAYERS.
The other day I ran across a list of prayers that had been offered by kids. For example, one little girl’s prayer said, “Dear God, thank you for my new baby brother. But, what I really asked for was a puppy!” A little boy’s prayer said, “Dear God, could you please split Jesse in two? That way half of him can do his homework and the other half can come out and play?” Finally, there was the little girl who said, “Dear God, could you please put a holiday between Christmas and Easter? There’s not a good holiday in there now!”
Now, I don’t know if the things these children prayed for are all that appropriate. But, I do know that these children believe in the power of prayer. They believe that when they pray good things can happen. It can make a difference in their lives and the lives of those they pray for. James, the brother of Jesus, knew that too! And he reminded us in the last scripture lesson we heard this morning. James 5:16 says, “pray for one another.” Why? “The prayers of a righteous person can accomplish great things.”
Praying for others makes a difference. It unleashes the power of God in people’s lives. In her book Jesus, CEO, Laurie Beth Jones tells about a friend who is an executive in New York. “Each day” she says, “my friend participates in an interesting ritual. On her walk in to work, she stops by the local Catholic Church and lights a candle. She then spends a few minutes praying for employees and her clients. She prays for the effectiveness of her employees and the success of her clients.”
Jones then makes the following statement, “Imagine,” she says, “what kind of world this would become if every leader spent as much time praying for their employees and clients as they did pouring over their budget reports?”
The point is simply this. One of the greatest things we can do for another person is to lift them up in our prayers. For when we pray for others we are inviting the power of the living God to be active in their lives. And when we do that, good things happen. So, if we want to be a blessing to others we need to take the time to lift them up in our prayers.
So, do we want to live our lives more effectively? Our faith says we can. If we will “lift people up!” We should lift people up with our words of praise, with our positive attitude, with our personal acts of compassion, and with our prayers! As we come to the Lord’s table, let’s ask God to help us do that in the week to come!