New Hope Notes
Pennies from Heaven
Pastor Richard Waialeale
I would like to thank Pastor Elwin Ahu who is such a big supporter and has encouraged me a lot over the years. I would also like to thank Pastor Wayne for giving so many of us pastors the opportunity to speak in front of all of you. But my main supporter in every way is my wife Mary.
Anyway, welcome everyone. I am the Pastor at New Hope Oahu - South Shore. As I was preparing to start-up the South Shore church, God was showing His wondrous signs to me and I will share them with you today. As I share my story, you will see how God was preparing me to lead that church and minister to the needy and homeless in that area.
God started to share His heart with me one day as I was getting into my truck. I stepped over a coin on the ground like I have done a million times before (after all, at my age it is getting tough to bend over!) but this time God put a funny feeling in my heart. So I stood over that penny and thought about it. Finally, I picked it up because the Lord spoke to my heart. He said …
1. “IT’S STILL ONE.”
What He was telling me was that although it was only one [cent], it still was one and therefore had value just as every other one. Just as God had shown me that each and every penny has value, I realized that He was also sharing with me how each and everyone single one of us is valuable, even if we’re just one – God values us.
There are lone people out there who are lost just like that penny. And like that penny, they are still valuable like that penny which still had value. So began my journey of gathering pennies...
My wife and I went to Ala Moana Shopping Center and although I usually do the shopping at Longs based on a list that she provides for me, on this particular day, I did not have a list so I decided to sit on the benches by Sears (where the old men sit) while my wife shopped. If you know the area, you know the benches there are against the wall and therefore they cast shadows on the ground. As I walked toward them, I noticed a penny on the sidewalk in the shadows of the bench & wall. Initially I thought about not picking it up because with so many shoppers around, I thought surely someone would see me and think that I must be on hard times to pick up a penny. Sooooo, I smoothly in one motion sat down and as I was lowering myself I simply stooped a little lower and scooped up the penny in one hand and quickly stuck it into my pocket. It turned out that even though I was initially embarrassed to pick up the penny because of what others might think of me, the reality is that no one even took any notice of me. From this penny incident, God seemed to be pointing out the fact that oftentimes we don’t associate with pennies (or people) because of what we’re afraid that others will think but the reality is that people probably would not think any less of us if we associated with more poor pennies/people.
In another (the third) instance, I found a penny on the top of our dryer at home. I’m the laundry guy at our house and one day as I was washing clothes when I found a penny on the dryer. I asked my wife where it came from (at this point, she did not know anything about the pennies I was collecting and the work God was doing with me)? She said it was not there before so it must have been in my clothes that went through the whole wash and dry cycle before coming out. There again, there are so many people who – like that penny – have been through so much yet they are still retain their value (in God’s eyes). I added the penny to my collection.
On another occasion, I went for a walk and was crossing a very busy intersection and so I had to run across the street. As I ran by, I noticed a coin in the middle of the road but did not stop to pick it up. When I reached the other side though, I stopped and thought about it. There sure were a lot of cars whizzing by; and if I went back to pick it up, again, someone I know might see me and think I was on very hard times. But I went back and picked it up. Sure enough, it was a penny but it was barely recognizable. It looked like it had been run over countless times and bore many scars. I bet that some cashiers probably wouldn’t even accept it as payment. They’d say it was worthless, but I could still hear the Lord saying that it was “still one,” and therefore valuable even though messed up. So I added it to my penny collection.
When God has a message for you, He’ll make His point whenever, wherever He needs to! I landed at Sea-Tac Airport in Washington and it sure was a dirty place. There was trash all over the airport and you can just imagine what the bathroom must’ve looked like. But I had to use the restroom so I went in. Sure enough, I spotted a penny amongst all that filth. I hesitated before picking it up, but again, I knew that God wanted me to rescue that penny so I practically emptied out the paper towel dispenser to get a wad of towels that I could use to pick up that penny. Then I almost emptied out the soap dispenser to clean off that penny! By the time I was done, that penny was all shiny and looked like new. God can do that for us too, rescue us from the filth that surrounds us and restores us to new.
God using a coin to make a point is not a new thing. He’s used coins in the Bible to teach us lessons. In fact, Jesus spoke of a lost coin. He told us a parable of the woman who lost a coin from her necklace and then later finds it. He said, "And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:9-10). The parable was not so much about the practical value of the coin but about the joy of the woman at recovering it. The story is about how God feels when …
2.What was once LOST is now FOUND.
To illustrate this point, Jesus taught us about the Prodigal Son. This was a son who demanded his inheritance early from his father and then squandered it all in a foreign land. Upon returning poor and in disgrace, rather than his father chastising or rejecting him, his father celebrated his return with a lavish party. The jealous older son confronted his father over the seeming unequal treatment so his father said, "'My son,’ the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’” (Luke 15:31-32). By telling this story, Jesus wanted to show us …
3. The HEART of the FATHER.
It is written, "As He looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 'I tell you the truth,’ He said, 'this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on’” (Luke 21:1-4). Even though to most people those two copper coins were not worth much, to the woman they meant everything. Jesus was telling us that while others may not value us, we mean everything to God. You can tell that He values us because He sent Jesus to sacrifice His life for us.
Some people are like the penny in the shadow by the wall that either goes unnoticed or the rest of us may be embarrassed to have anything to do with that penny/person but the Lord says to pick those people up anyway because they’re still of value…they’re still one. Some of us are like the penny that went through the wash and ringer – to have been through so much – but God still sees that we have value and are worth saving. Or maybe you’re the worthless penny that has been run over so many times that you’re barely recognizable or you’re the filthy penny that you think will never be clean again. In all cases, God will pick you up and keep you because you are valuable in His sight. God will always reach for you, no matter where, when, or the circumstances we’re in. He loves us.
My last story…As I was coming to the end of my jog one day and I saw a homeless guy with a piled up shopping cart crossing a busy intersection. I ran past him but just as I did, I heard a crash and clattering behind me. I knew that his top-heavy load had toppled over into the street. I hesitated. If I stopped, would people think I was WITH this homeless guy? He was homeless and filthy, did I want to be touching his things? His things were just junks, did I want to waste my time helping him collect all of those worthless things. Then I felt God in my heart again…still one. I turned around and helped him pick all that he had in the world.
If your heart is open, God will show you pennies/people who need to be rescued or just picked up. If you listen to Him, He will reward and bless you. Remember, all of you are still one of His, no matter what condition you are in. And all of you can help to rescue others who may not know their worth in His sight.
No matter what, you are still one of God’s creations and therefore very valuable. He will rejoice wholeheartedly when you are found or come back to Him.
1. Describe some of the “pennies” you’ve passed by over the years.
2. Name a penny you’re aware of now and what you think God would have you do with that penny.
3. Assuming we’re all pennies, why does God value us?
4. What were your original reactions to the parables of the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son?
5. What do you think about God’s messages of the Lost Coin and the Parable Son?
6. What does it mean to keep your heart open for God and how can you do that?