Ten years ago this weekend the world seemed to stand still in a state of total shock. Terrorists had flown two airliners into both towers of the World Trade Center. It was a direct hit on symbols representing the United States’ economic strength. A third plane slammed into the Pentagon, which represented our military power and security. Another airliner was brought down short of its intended target by truly brave passengers. Americans were moved into action with bold attempts to rescue precious lives and many lost their own. The frightened and panic-stricken ran out while the compassionate, love-filled ran in. America’s true greatness manifested. People united and prayed together and sought God. Even a divided Congress came together in public prayer on the Capital steps.
The visible humility, unity, and open, passionate prayer vigils seemed to disappear far too soon. I pray God’s people and all concerned Americans will come together at this time seeking God because it is so obvious we need His wisdom. I trust it will not take another horrific attack or total collapse to bring us to our knees.
Leadership Summit attendee Dave Stone, Pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, shared the following inspirational thoughts about the love that never fails. It is obvious many affected by the 9/11 attack never have stopped praying, stopped caring, or ceased sharing God’s love. In a special message, he shared the following thoughts, which illustrate the transforming impact that pastors and believers can have when America faces any crisis or challenge:
As you can imagine, the numbers vary based on the source, and they are both startling and staggering. The total number of people who died on September 11, 2001 was 2,992.
- 2,759 died in the World Trade Center (including 10 hijackers and 157 passengers and crew members).
- 125 died in the Pentagon(including 5 hijackers and 59 passengers and crew members).
- 44 died on Flight 93 (including 4 hijackers).
- A total of 60 NYPD & Port Authority officers died.
- 343 firefighters and paramedics were killed.
- 1,717 families received no remains.
- 3,051 children lost a parent in the attacks.
- 20% of Americans knew someone who was hurt or killed in the attacks.
- But for some reason these were more than just numbers.
- Before that day, calendar dates were memorable for celebrations: 2/14, 7/4, 12/25.
All the rest of the days, for the normal days, there was no real difference between 6/8, 7/9 and 8/10…but then came 9/11. People speculate that Al Qaeda chose that particular day because it represented 911—the number we call when we have an emergency.
Ten years ago, the percentage of Manhattan residents attending an evangelical church was 1%. Now that has tripled to 3%. That’s 30,000 people. Of the nearly 200 evangelical churches in Manhattan almost half have been started since 9/11/01. Good growth, but still lots of work to do! But how encouraging to see how God is bringing beauty from ashes. Love never fails – it always prevails.
New York City is making a comeback. Two months ago, three of our Elders went to Brooklyn Tabernacle to meet with Jim Cymbala and participate in their Tuesday night Prayer Service. Ten years ago, they were running about 300…Now over 3,000 attend. They pray and worship for two hours. That night, they had to open the doors an hour early because it was so packed that it was a safety hazard in the lobby.
9/11 didn’t take their hope, it affirmed their Hope.
9/11 didn’t ruin their spirit, it revealed His Spirit.
From what Satan intended for evil, God is able to bring good.
God says, “Empty yourself. Meet me where there are no kings or presidents, meet Me at the cross. There the ground is level, no one is a nobody, for in My eyes everybody’s a somebody. That’s Calvary, the great equalizer, we’ll call it Ground Zero—the place where your salvation was purchased by the blood of the Lamb.”
Too good to be true? No. It’s just love. And love prevails.
I got to thinking the other day…it’s been ten years. Maybe it’s time that we trade in the numbers 9/11 for three new numbers. I don’t know who can give permission on something like that. I intend to just do it and then explain it by saying, “Well, I talked to them and they said it was okay.” And when I’m asked, “Who are they?” I’m just gonna say, “They said so. And They are a very powerful group.”
So, 10 years later, let’s trade in the numbers of 9/11 for three new ones…Can I make a suggestion? How about these numbers: 3:16?
Following the tragedy, President George W. Bush said, “We will never forget 9/11.” As Americans, he’s right. We will never forget 9/11.
But as Christians we must never forget 3:16 and the inspired trail that God has left in His love letter to the world. There’s more there than you may think…
1 Corinthians 3:16 — “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” And His love will prevail.
Colossians 3:16 — “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Because His love prevails.
2 Thessalonians. 3:16 — “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” His Love prevails.
1 John 3:16 — “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” His Love prevails.
There’s one more that I think you may already know, John 3:16… “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Love prevails. 3:16 replaces 9/11. The day which claimed the lives of 3,000 people. I don’t know when you will die or when I will, but whether it’s on 9/12 or 12/9 of this year or 2020 is irrelevant—the only numbers which will matter are 3:16.
Did you know that there was another day in history where 3,000 people all died on the same day? It actually is in the Bible, in the New Testament, it was on the day of Pentecost. Peter was wrapping up preaching the first gospel sermon:
“With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2:40-41 On that day…3,000 people died to themselves. They crucified their pride that day.
What a contrast, on 9/11 there were 3,000 casualties because of a movement of violence. Acts 2 recorded 3,000 died to selfishness and pride because of a movement of love.
Maybe you feel like your life in recent months has crumbled to the ground. Well, this is what He can do for you if you’ll let Him.
He restores. He rebuilds. And He redeems.
Let’s pray while trusting God together and make another number prevalent. It is the answer to all of life’s emergencies – 3:16. God will work all things together for good to those who love Him and understand we are called according to His purpose and we are to be conformed to the image of His dear Son.