Faithlife Sermons

Turning Crisis into Opportunity

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I am sure we all know that life is full of crises and crossroads. The decision you make during a crisis or crossroads will determine your future. As someone who made many wrong choices in life, I appreciate those smart kids and adults who have the endurance to stay in the right course when confronted with a crisis or crossroads. In Luke 21:5-19, Jesus revealed a set of spiritual principles to endure crises. Let's take a look ...

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I am sure we all know that life is full of crises and crossroads. The decision you make during a crisis or crossroads will determine your future. As someone who made many wrong choices in life, I appreciate those smart kids and adults who have the endurance to stay in the right course when confronted with a crisis or crossroads.
This reminds me of a movie that I saw many years ago, Scent Of A Woman, played by Al Pacino and Chis O’Donnell. It’s about a prep school student who was caught in a crisis, but he chose to maintain his principle and integrity risking his chance to enter an Ivy League school.
What’s memorable is a part of the speech given by Lt Colonel Frank Slade, the character played by Al Pacino, who said:
Now, I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew, but I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard. Now, here's Charlie. He's come to the crossroads. He has chosen a path. It's the right path. It's a path made of principle that leads to character. Let him continue on his journey.”
Two things caught my attention and kept me thinking ever since. The first one is, when we are at the crossroads, we know exactly which path is right. The second is, taking the right path is extremely hard.
I am sure all of us have been to some crises and crossroads in life. To make it a little lighthearted and digestible, let’s use our food as an example. Every time I go to a lunch or dinner party, I face a crossroads. I know exactly what’s good for me and what’s not, but as Colonel Slade said, choosing the right path is too darn hard, especially for someone like me who has a sweet tooth, and people often called me the Cookie Monster.
Now, I’m paying the price for that with diabetes. The good news is I have now managed not only to stop it but also reverse it. But that’s another subject.
How about the choices we made in life that are not reversible? Some crossroads and crises require a lot of mental muscles for you to stay on the right path because it’s too darn hard.
Some experts assert that we face a crisis or crossroads every second, or maybe even a split second of our life. At every second, we face a choice of putting our mind on a wrong thought process or a right one. We can easily drift into a wrong thought process because it’s easier. Just as choosing the right path, choosing the right thought is much harder.
In today’s scripture lesson, Jesus taught us how to stay the right course during crises and crossroads. He started by foretelling the spiritual crisis that was about to come.
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” (Luke 21:5-6).
It’s inconceivable for people of the day to imagine the destruction of the magnificent temple, at least not to the point that “not one stone will be left upon another.” It’s an indication of a spiritual crisis to come since the temple was the center of their faith. The first-century Jews also believe it signalizes the end of the world. The disciples wanted to know when.
They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. (v. 7-8).
Jesus told us not to be concerned about when the end time would come, even if it was told by someone who claims to be Christ himself. Then he said, we must not even use the catastrophes of the world to determine the end time. These things will happen, but they do not indicate the second coming of Christ. He said,
When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” (v. 9).
Some so-called prophecy experts like to tell people that the war somewhere indicates the end of the world is here. In this verse, Jesus clearly said that no, the end will not follow immediately. We will see the political crises such as insurrections—similar to what’s happening in Washington these days. None of these crises indicates the end time, but there would be crises that would seriously challenge your faith, character, and integrity.
Here’s the real crisis for you and me:
But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.” (v. 11).
This verse indicates the injustice you and I will face. In this verse, Jesus was talking about the persecution of the first century Christians, but it also means the Christians that are to come because a true follower of Christ is a change agent, with love and justice. Christians are a threat to the corrupt society, so they hate us overtly or covertly.
In fact, there were more Christians persecuted and murdered in the recent half a century than any time in history around the world.
Jesus said you are the light of the world. Since the darkness hates the light, sooner or later, you will encounter a crisis where you either hide your light or face persecution. Now, Jesus teaches us how to choose the right path when you face this crisis or crossroads.
There are six elements in this teaching and I put it into an acrostic CRISIS:

1. Convert Crisis into Opportunity

Jesus said, “This will give you an opportunity to testify.” (v. 13).
Some people might see the crisis dangerous, but Jesus sees an opportunity. You’ve heard that the word “crisis” in Chinese is a compound word, “危機”, meaning danger and opportunity. When you are in crisis, you have two choices: treat is as a danger or opportunity. Jesus wants you to convert a crisis into an opportunity for you to shine your light into the darkness.

2. Recount My Faith Story

What is the opportunity? Jesus said, “This will give you an opportunity to testify.” (v. 13). The word testify is translated from the Greek μαρτύριον meaning “to witness to the Truth.” It’s an opportunity for your testimony will shine the light in the darkness.

3. Ignore Preparation for Self-defense

Then Jesus said, “So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance;” (v.14). It might sound strange that Jesus wants us not to prepare for the defense. We’ve often heard that failing to plan is planning to fail, and people might advise us to get the best defense lawyer on our side. Recently, I went to court for my speeding ticket. A pretty serious one, so people asked me to hire a lawyer. I decided not to get a lawyer because I made up my mind to go there and tell the truth. When you plan to tell the truth, you don’t need preparation. Dr. Stephen Covey said that when in crisis, keep your integrity.

4. Speak From the Heart

Jesus said, “for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.” (v. 15). The reason Jesus doesn’t need you to prepare is that he himself will be your advocate. How does Jesus give you words and wisdom? He put it right into your heart. He did the same thing with Moses and his disciples. He will do it with you if you keep your integrity.

5. Imbue Myself with His Promises

Jesus continued, “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish.” (v. 16-18).
It’s easier to face the injustice from outside, but Jesus it could be worse because your own relatives would betray you. Nothing is more painful than being betrayed by your own family. However, Jesus wants you to remember his promises that he summarized into one sentence, “But not a hair of your head will perish.” Nobody can harm you, not a hair of your head.
We all know that Jesus’ disciples were all tortured, beheaded, or murdered. Why would Jesus say that not a hair of your head will perish? The next verse explains.

6. Survive and Thrive by Endurance

Jesus ended by saying, “By your endurance you will gain your souls.” (v. 19). Jesus is talking about eternal life. It is in your eternal body that you are whole. Nothing can harm your soul. Jesus said, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Mat 16:25).
Now, let do a quick review.
1. Convert Crisis into Opportunity
2. Recount My Faith Story
3. Ignore Preparation for Self-defense
4. Speak From the Heart
5. Imbue Myself with His Promises
6. Survive and Thrive by Endurance
This is how Jesus teaches us to a CRISIS. Whether it’s a small crisis or a big crisis in your life, you will survive and thrive by these principles.
Today’s our Stewardship Sunday. We all know that our church went through a crisis and we turned it into an opportunity to recount our story. We will ignore preparation for self-defense because we will speak from the heart through the words and wisdom of Jesus Christ. We will imbue ourselves with God’s promises and survive and thrive by endurance.
May God bless you all. Amen!
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