It’s not easy to do these days. In his epochal work Death in the City (pp. 70-71), Francis Schaeffer talks about how to speak Christian truth in the twentieth century. He says you’ve got to begin by telling people that they are truly fallen even though they are made in the image of God. They are truly fallen. They are morally guilty in the eyes of God. That’s where gospel presentations have to begin. You don’t start by telling them the good news that Jesus died for them. You have to make them understand that they truly are sinners before God. In one place he discusses what he would do if he were riding a train and got into a discussion with a “modern man” about the gospel. What would he say if he had only one hour to talk with that man? He said, “I would spend 45 minutes of that hour convincing him about sin and judgment and his true moral guilt before God. Then I would spend the last 15 minutes sharing the good news about the gospel of Jesus Christ, because until men see themselves as sinners they will never see their need of a savior.”
Most of you know that my Dad lives in a Care Facility. He is 86 years old and has a few health issues. He had his right leg removed a few years ago after suffering through poor circulation. Dad also does dialysis three times a week for kidney failure. He is a tough old guy! I can tell he is struggling, but he continues to carry on good solid conversations almost every time I see him. I try to see him on days when he does not have dialysis.
I want to share with you what he tells me when I get ready to leave him. He almost always says, “Be a good boy.” Yes, he is eighty-six and I am sixty-four, but I still like to hear him say it! “Be a good boy,” sounds good to me, I enjoy hearing him say those words. It reminds me a little of how he used to introduce me to his friends at his garage. He would say, “This is my son Mike; he’s a preacher.” I always enjoy hearing him say that too. I could tell he was proud of me, even though he didn’t say it!
The reason I am sharing this is really pretty simple. It’s bigger than my father and son connection. First, I want to bring honor and glory to the Lord. He is worthy! I, in no way want to shame the name of Jesus! I want to please Him! Secondly, I represent a Christian congregation, and I do not want to embarrass them or bring reproach upon my church family! When a pastor is embarrassed for whatever the reason, his church is embarrassed as well. Thirdly, How could I ever let down my wife of forty plus years? Cheryl has supported me and loved me through two careers, one as a teacher and coach and now as a minister of the Gospel. Fourthly, My two sons and their wives look up to me as do my five grandchildren. But that is enough about me! What does this have to do with you?
Over the past forty two years I have served with a number of fine young men. You, no doubt, have many of the same reasons I mentioned above to “be a good boy.” You may not be able to relate to my connection with my Dad, but you have other reasons for living out a holy life for the Lord. First, Remember that everyone is not on your side. For whatever reason, everyone doesn’t want you to succeed. This has been true in my ministry. I wish I could say that everyone has been for me, but I would be lying if I said that! Romans 8:31 makes this clear, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Secondly, Satan wants you to fail. He is a loser and a liar. Put on the whole armor of God, and go to war against the Devil and his strategies. Pray above all! Thirdly, Live your life above reproach. Your testimony and credibility as a Christ follower is absolutely essential if you are to be used of the Lord. I know you want to be used. I do too! Stay away from anything that would raise questions about your loyalty to Jesus, His church or your family, especially your wife! What Paul told his brothers and sisters at Thessalonica is just as important now as it was then. Paul said, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Paul mentored numerous young men as well as pastors and teachers. His counsel is as good today as it was the day he wrote it! Let’s make a brotherhood pact and follow what he said.
As I mentioned earlier, I have served Jesus with a number of fine young brothers. Sadly, some are no longer in the ministry. They made poor choices! Some settled for less than fruitful ministries because they choose to do what they wanted to do without thinking about those around them. Focus your best attention and deepest affection upon Christ and the family He has given you. Reproach and shame can be unbearable! God has called us to glorify His Son, Jesus Christ. Grow up as a man of God and let pass anything that could in any way jeopardize your calling! Being happy is not as important as you think. Being holy, as He is holy, is where your testimony and credibility rest! 1 Peter 1:15-16 underscores the importance of this truth, “But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
“Be a good boy” is important to me because it is how my Dad encourages me and blesses me. But being holy for the Lord is the cry of my heart! Brothers, keep your eyes on Jesus and He will use you for His honor, glory and praise! God bless you!
Romans 11:36 For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom be glory forever. Amen.
Recently I heard a politician say, “White people don’t know what it means to be poor!” I surely didn’t grow up rich and neither did Cheryl. I guess we both would have been raised in the lower class. The irony is neither of us grew up thinking about being rich or poor. Our parents provided what they could but we in no way were raised with money! In the Lord’s sovereign grace He provided for us and blessed us and continues to do so at this very moment! At the age of sixteen things changed for me! I became a wealthy teenager. When the Lord saved me He gave a bountiful inheritance, the riches of Christ Jesus my Lord! The Apostle Paul grew up with the finest of Jewish privilege. He thought he had it all! Then he met Jesus and realized he was truly a poor man and not a genuinely rich man. He put it this way in Philippians 3:8, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Now that’s wealth! I trust you understand what I am saying. Wealth for Christians is not measured in dollars and cents but in our relationship with Jesus Christ. When we understand this it is easy to see why Paul penned Colossians 3:2 “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” So then, I am rich, rich in Christ Jesus my Lord and so are you! Consider this healthy reminder from Paul in Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Psalm 50:10 will bless you, “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” Wow!
Our Easter Celebration is just over one week away. Our prayers are crucial if we are to see the Lord work among us and in those around us. Zechariah 4:6 says, “… Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” Prayer works because God has promised to hear us when we cry out to Him! I believe the Lord is working among us in the area of prayer. Our Sunday evening SESSION has been packed for the past two Sunday evenings. Striving in prayer is not easy! Try praying and you will soon agree with me. My point is this. Pray every day for our services. Pray with your families. Pray at work with other believers. Pray for their services with them. Pray for those you intend to bring with you to the Easter Celebration. They will no doubt thank you for it. Lord, teach us to pray!
Let me close with this good word. God is faithful! I have struggled this week with brothers and sisters who are experiencing tough times. As I have prayed, the Lord has reminded me that HE alone is our strength and refuge! He is at work! Get alone with the Lord and share with Him your deepest burdens. When people won’t listen, He will! Cry out in your weakness; He will be your strength! Paul highlights this truth in 2 Corinthians 12:10 “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” Keep your eyes on the Lord; you belong to Him and He belongs to you!
Worshiping a Risen Lord!
Salvation is not God’s response to your best effort! Salvation is a gift from God. In Romans 5:15 Paul highlights “the gift by grace.” Salvation is given to you by God out of His …
Source: The Gift!