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Blockbuster 4: “Aladdin”

Blockbuster Lessons from the Movies

“Aladdin”

July 20-21, 2019

Introduction:

Good morning and welcome to New Hope Mililani! If we haven’t met, I’m Pastor Mark, and I’m so glad that you’re joining us for our [Time] service. We are in week 3 of our Blockbuster Lessons from the Movies series and our movie today is Disney’s Aladdin.

Aladdin is the story of a kind-hearted street urchin whose adventures begin when he unknowingly rescues and falls in love with the Princess of Agrabah – Jasmine. The law states, however, that Jasmine must be married to a prince. But things take a turn when Aladdin discovers a genie’s lamp and is granted 3 wishes.

Undoubtedly, every single one of us in this room has fantasized about what it would be like to receive 3 wishes. I’d also be willing to bet that every one of us has wished for things at some point in our life. Perhaps you were looking up at the night sky and a shooting star zipped across your view. Maybe you were standing in front of a fountain tossing pennies into the water. How about the time you blew out your birthday candles making sure you got them all in one breath. I remember sitting on Santa’s lap whispering my wish list in his ear (It was just last year). Whether it was a wishbone, a wish list, or a dandelion, all of us have expressed secret desires that we believed would make our lives better or bring us happiness.

But as many folk stories, including Aladdin, warn, we should be careful what we wish for because it just might come true. In these stories there are often underlying consequences to getting everything your heart desires.

It reminds me of a husband and wife in their sixties who were coming up on their 40th wedding anniversary. Knowing his wife loved antiques he bought a beautiful old oil lamp for her. When she unwrapped it, a genie appeared! He thanked them for freeing him and granted them each one wish. The wife wished for an all-expenses paid, first class cruise around the world with her husband. Shazam! Instantly, she was presented with tickets for the entire trip including expensive side trips, dinners, and shopping. When it was the husband’s turn, however, he wished for a wife who was 30 years younger. Shazam! In an instant he turned 93 years old. See! You have to be careful what you wish for. [Faceapp]

If given 3 wishes, what do you think most people would wish for? Hundreds of people were surveyed and these were the top 3 answers. The #1 wish on the board – survey says: Happiness. #2 – survey says: Money. And the third wish – survey says: Freedom. Is it any wonder that our founding fathers believed we have a universal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? It’s what all of us want.

But as wonderful as magic wishes sound, guess how many times the Bible mentions them. If you guessed zero, you’d be right. The Bible doesn’t once talk about granting wishes but it talks a lot about something even better!

  1. THE GENIE’S LAMP GRANTS WISHES, BUT GOD’S LAMP GIVES HOPE.

“Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path,” (Psalm 119:105 NLT).

How many of us know there is a profound difference between wishing and hoping? Wishes are instantaneous and reflect our timing. Hope is enduring and waits on God’s timing. Wishes reflect our wants and desires. Hope reflects God’s will in our lives. Wishes can be undone. Hope is everlasting. Wishes rely on luck or superstition. Hope relies on the supernatural power of God. As Christians, we are not called to be a people of wishful thinking but those who place their hope in the Lord. So wishes come from our wants and desires but where does hope come from?

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I took the kids camping at Malaekahana Beach Park with some friends. I have to give my wife props because she brought both of our kids tent-camping with cold-water showers and no electricity. This wasn’t glamping it was camping. There’s some lighting around the bathrooms and along the main path but in order to get around the campgrounds you definitely need a flashlight. 

The Bible says that navigating through life is like groping in the dark. Without the Word of God to light their way many people just follow their instincts or their desires. You want to know what guides most people today? [Their Phone] Most people take their directions from this right here. I mean literally, it has a GPS built into it. But how many look to their phones for directions in life as well? We wake up in the morning and what’s the first thing we check? “What’s so-and-so doing?” “Oh I like what they’re wearing. I want that.” “What? I’ve always wanted to go there!” “I want that, I’m going there, I’m doing that.” And we’re driven by this comparison culture trying to keep up with everyone around us thinking it will make us happy but it’s a hopeless pursuit because “If everything you’re searching for remains outside of you, you’ll spend your entire life chasing.” Searching for happiness in the things around you is like trying to hit a constantly moving target. Just when you think you’ve arrived it moves a little bit further. You know they finally discovered the amount of money that makes people happy. Do you know how much it was? Just a little bit more.

So many people are fumbling in the dark, stumbling in the many pitfalls of life, because they can’t see the way. But God’s Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Some people say, “When I read the Bible I don’t get a lot out of it.” That’s ok. God doesn’t guide us year-to-year or even month-to-month. He guides me step-by-step. “I don’t need to get the whole picture today, God just show me enough to take the next step. I trust You see everything down the path so I just need to see what’s next.” What happens when I step? The light moves. I step again. The light moves again. This time the light shows me a ditch in front of me so I go around. Now the light reveals a stumbling block so I go over. But step-by-step, moment-by-moment, day-by-day, I go to the Word because Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. This light gives me hope in the midst of the darkness. But I need to be in the Word. This isn’t like Apple terms and agreements where I just scroll to the end and hit ‘agree’. I need to be in the Word in order for it to guide me. If you have trouble reading the Word, try listening to it. I’ve spent many car rides listening to the Word.

So rather than just sitting around wishing our situation might change we instead go to God’s Word, which gives us hope.

 

  1. GOD IS SEARCHING FOR A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH.

In the movie Aladdin, untold riches and treasure await any who are willing to brave the Cave of Wonders. But the cat-like guardian of the cave proclaims that only one may enter – a ‘diamond in the rough.’

The phrase, ‘diamond in the rough’ refers to someone who possesses exceptional qualities or potential but requires refinement or polishing. In other words, all diamonds begin their existence as a rough stone. In its original state it isn’t worth as much. When was the last time someone showed you their diamond ring with a rough, uncut, diamond in the setting? It must go through a rigorous process in order for its greater qualities to shine.

From the outside, people wrote Aladdin off as a worthless street rat. He was born a street rat. He would die a street rat. And only his fleas would mourn him. But despite his tattered clothes, his dilapidated house, and his primate best friend, he was the diamond in the rough, the chosen one, who could enter the Cave of Wonders.

In the same way, the Bible says that each of us possesses extraordinary unimaginable qualities, and God is looking for men and women who are willing to endure the rigors of life with Him so that those invisible qualities may shine!

3 But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. 4 And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. 5 And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!” (Romans 5:3-5 TPT).

See the problem is that not only do we live in the age of comparison; we also live in the age of the instantaneous. Technology and the digital age have shortened waiting times in nearly every area of life. Growing up, if I wanted to watch a movie, I would have to put the VHS tape in a rewinding machine, wait for it to finish rewinding, and then put it in my VCR. Along came DVDs and now I could walk to my movie cabinet, pull out any movie, pop it in, and start watching instantly. Now, I don’t have to get off the couch. I can watch all my movies from one place and if that little swirly loading icon takes too long I’m furious! Before, people used to write letters and wait days, even weeks, to hear back from a friend. Then we would call each other. If they didn’t pick up we would leave messages on their answering machines. Now we just text incoherent sentences at each other all day and if they don’t respond instantly we’re furious! I know you read that! But the Bible says the pressures of life produce patient endurance, which refines our character that produces hope. Many of us want hope but when it comes to producing patient endurance we’re like, “How long is that going to take God, I’ve got season 3 of Stranger Things to binge.” So many times, in life, or in Church, we look at the amazing qualities of a person and think, “I want that” but what you’re looking at is the result of refining, and pressure, and polishing.

Sadly, a lot of Churches today are preaching what I call a “Six-second Gospel”. Remember that fitness fad from the early 2000s, Six-second abs? “Do you want sleek washboard abs in time for summer? Six-second abs!” Our family bought one of those and it took about six seconds for it to end up in the trash. That’s why I think fitness programs like P90X and Crossfit are so popular right now, because they’re telling people the hard honest truth that we’ve inwardly known all along – if you want real results that last, there are no shortcuts, no gimmicks, just good old fashion hard work. In the same way, books, videos, podcasts, are great and those things can help but they will never substitute your own personal journey with the Lord through good times and bad as He sustains you through the valleys – that’s where the true refining and polishing takes place.

We live in the age of comparison and instant gratification. It’s all about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. But sometimes God will have us forego certain pleasures and endure painful seasons in order to grow into the people He needs us to be. Some of you young people are called to a season of singleness right now. Everyone around you is getting into relationships but you know God is calling you to focus your heart on Him. Don’t take the easy way out. It’s through this season of pressure and refining that God will produce those diamond-like qualities in you. Maybe some of you are married and you’re not “feeling” it anymore. You know God is calling you to fight for your marriage but it seems easier to just walk away. God is going to use this season to refine you and shape you. You will come out of this season stronger, and brighter, and more hopeful because you’ve seen Him work in your life. A common myth in the Church is that God won’t give you more than you can bear. Did you know that’s actually not in the Bible? You want to know the truth? Sometimes, God will give you more than you can bear. That’s the only way we grow. But He will never give you more than He can bear. When we depend on the Lord in our seasons of pressure, and don’t take the easy way out, He strengthens us, and refines us, and fills us with His hope.

So let’s commit to trust in the Lord and put our hope in Him through every season knowing that He is producing diamond qualities in our lives.

  1. THE KING HAS FULFILLED THE LAW SO THAT YOU COULD BECOME A PRINCE/PRINCESS.

At the end of the movie, Aladdin learns that answered wishes are not the answer. No amount of wishful thinking will change his reality. The only way he can truly become royalty is if the king himself intervenes. Only the king has the power to pull him out of his old life and grant him a new life, a new title, and a new purpose. 

The Bible says our King, the King of kings, has done that for each and every one of us.

9-10 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted,” (1 Peter 2:9-10 MSG).

You and I have been chosen to God’s royal ambassadors to proclaim His goodness.

Some time ago the Washington Post ran a story about a woman named Peggy who was born in Ghana but moved to the United States. She lived in a one-bedroom condo and worked in different administrative positions throughout the years. One day, at 4 am she received a phone call from an Uncle in Ghana who addressed her as ‘Nana’ over the phone. “What do you mean ‘Nana’?” Peggy asked, since that is a title reserved only for royalty. The news was unbelievable. The 90-year-old king had just died and after a long process it was decided that Peggy would succeed him as the new king. She would be heir to the throne. Peggy spent many sleepless nights wrestling with whether she would accept the throne or not. She kept asking, “Why me?” The turning point occurred one morning as she drove to work, moments before grabbing coffee for those at the office, when a voice said, “God alone makes kings, He must have chosen you.” Peggy decided to step into her destiny. When she stepped on the plane to Ghana she was simply Peggy but the moment she stepped off the plane in Ghana she was royalty.

The Bible says you and I have been chosen by God to be royalty. We are called to spread the good news of what He has done in our lives. We may wrestle with this identity and ask, “Why me?” The answer is that God makes kings, and He could have picked anyone, but He chose you.”

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