A Grounded Life

Make your plans in the presence of the Lord and then don’t hesitate when you’re interacting with other people to let them know where you stand.

Scripture: Romans 15:16-24


Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing all right? Bless your heart. I hope everything is all right at your house. I want to go on with you, if I may, in looking at Romans chapter 15. Paul said that God had given us special grace to Him that he should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles ministering the gospel of God in order that the offering up, that is to say our prayers and worship and service, of the Gentiles might be acceptable being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

So he says, “I do have therefore something of which I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea,” he said, “so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: But as it was written, to whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

For which cause I have been much hindered from coming to you. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you; When I take my journey to Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. Now I’m going Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.” I read that whole portion there because it’s sort of hangs together, doesn’t it?

Now Paul is a combination of realism and humility. Every now and again he says, “Look, if I wanted to brag about anything, I could. But I’m not going to.” That’s about the way he puts it. You remember in Philippians what he says? “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” What’s he talking about? “Why,” he said, “I might also have confidence humanly speaking. If any man thinks he has whereof you might trust, I more”. Why,” he said, “I’m the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless”.

Why, he said, “I got something to brag about if I wanted to, but,” he said, “what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord: for Him I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him.” That’s Paul. “Here again,” he says, “I do have some things that I could brag about.” This word “glory” means just “to do a little bragging,” you know.

“I have some things,” he says, “whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ.” He said, “I’ve preached the gospel from Jerusalem and roundabout until Illyricum. I have been all through the whole territory and fully preached the gospel of Christ. As a matter of fact,” he said, “I’ve tried not to build another people’s foundation. I’ve tried to pioneer. So,” he said, “I’ve helped to fulfill that passage from the Scriptures from Isaiah.” “To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.”

He said, “I’ve helped to fulfill that Scripture.” Now, he’s a realist. Small thought here: you do not have to be self-effacing in order to be humble. There’s many a person who thinks that in order really to be spiritual, you have to cut yourself down, you have to sort of shrink away from any recognition of what the Lord is able to do through you. Now, I think that’s a mistake. It’s also a mistake, heaven knows, to brag about it and be proud of yourself because you don’t have anything that you can really be proud of because of the grace of God.

But I think it’s a mistake to cut yourself down and shrink away and say, “Oh, well, I can’t do anything,” and all of that. I flinch a little; I wince a little when somebody sings that song “I would be nothing, nothing, nothing.” Well, I don’t think the Lord wants you to be just nothing. He wants you to be something but He wants you to be something by His grace. Don’t you agree? Paul says, “Hey, I’ve done a thing or two, too. But,” he says, “it’s been by the grace of God.” Over in Corinthians he said, “By the grace of God, I am what I am.”

Over in 2 Corinthians he said, “God said unto me my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in your weakness.” So Paul goes on to say, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” There is a blessed combination of realism in appraising what you can do and in giving God the glory. I would like to see that happen in all of our lives, wouldn’t you? I think many of us fail to develop our true potential because of whatever fear it is- fear of being thought too aggressive, too forward, or whatever it is, not spiritual enough. We fail to develop our true potential on one hand and on the other hand when we do have some gifts and talents we get in danger of depending on them and not giving God the glory.

We need a balance along that line and Paul the apostle, I think, is showing us the way. Along a different line Paul said, “I’ve strived to build where the gospel where Christ was not named lest I should build upon another man’s foundation.” He said, “I’ve tried to go some place where there was a real need.” Now, many of you business people know the difference between sales and marketing. Sales says, “We have 1 million widgets. Get out there and sell them. Don’t care who you sell them to or what use they make of them but just get out there and sell them.” That’s sales.

Marketing says on the other hand, “What do people need? Let’s find out what people need and then let’s meet that need.” That’s marketing. Now businesses learned that in the last few decades as you know. And it’s a pretty good idea. There may not any longer be a market for buggy whips. Any of you old timers remember that socket on the corner of the buggy? When you drove the buggy to town and there was a socket on the one side of the dashboard there. And that was to hold the buggy whip.

And you would flick that whip out over the ears of “old dobbin” and make him trot a little faster, either on the way to town or on the way home. Then came the automobile and the market for buggy whips died out, didn’t it? Now, sales says, “Keep on making those buggy whips and get out there and sell them. Somebody will buy them. Get out and sell them.” But marketing says, “What do people need?” Why, people think they need an internal combustion engine that will drive a four wheel vehicle that’s called the automobile. Let’s make that.”

And so along then came your Henry Fords and some of the others and they made what people needed and made it available to them at a price they could pay and the economy prospered as a result. Well you know that. Now you say, “Well, Brother Cook, why are you going into all that?” Simply because that same principle applies if you’re going to serve God. I come into a city sometimes and just count the number of churches and the distance between them. In some towns, the churches are less than a block apart and they’re all clustered together.

And each one of them is scrambling for a few extra church members and they’re all highly competitive trying somehow to keep up with each other. A pity, it seems to me. Why not start a work where there isn’t quite so much, not only not so much competition but where there’s a greater need that is not being met. You young preachers that are listening to me, why try to compete with somebody else in a crowded field? Why not start a work someplace where there’s a need that ought to be met? You’d be surprised what the Lord will do for you if you simply apply Paul’s principle here.

He said, “I tried not to build on somebody else’s foundation. I tried to go out where there was a real need and meet it.” That’s real pioneering. Try that in your visitation. Look over your neighborhood, preacher, Sunday school teacher, Christian worker. Look over the neighborhood that is yours to cover — your market, so to speak — and find out where there are areas that have been neglected either because people didn’t like to get in that kind of a neighborhood or for whatever reason.

Find areas that have been neglected and you specialize in meeting the needs there. You’ll be surprised what the Lord will do. The same thing is true in school, high schooler and college aged person. We tend to click together with friends who are our friends and we let the rest go by. This coming week, when you go to school, look for people who don’t have any friends. Look for the lonesome pigeon that just skulks along the side of the hallway on the way to classes. Look for the people who are discouraged. Look for the people who think nobody cares about them and they’re right because nobody does, and befriend some of these people and speak to them of your savior.

You’d be surprised at what God will do for you if you follow Paul’s principle. He said, “I tried not to build on somebody else’s foundation. I tried to get out there where there was a real need.” So in school, look for people who think nobody cares about them and it’s probably true that no one does. You be a friend to some of these friendless folk. You be an encouragement to some of these discouraged people. You give a lift to some of those who are burdened down with the burdens of life. Don’t just compete with somebody else for the few folk that are already being ministered to. Good idea?

He said, “I’ve tried to preach the gospel not where Christ was named lest I should build upon another man’s foundation.” Now is it ever right to say what you want as a Christian? Is it ever right to say, “I’d like to do this?” Is that a little bit unspiritual, would you think? Well, some folks think it is. They think it’s really unspiritual for you ever to say what you’d like. And so you say, “Well, what do you want for supper?” “Well, it’s quite all right. Everything would be fine,” you know. And you just wonder, “Well, what would they really like?”

Paul had no hesitation in saying what he wanted. He said, “I’ve wanted to visit you,” and he said, “Now, I’m on my way to Jerusalem and when I get through with this task that I have in ministering to the saints of Jerusalem,” he said, “then, I want to come to you with joy by the will of God.” Make your plans but make them in the presence of the Lord. Do you ever pray about your plans? Do you pray about when to take your vacation and where? Do you pray about where to get the car serviced? Do you pray about where to buy a dress or a suit or a pair of shoes? Do you pray about where to send Junior to school? Do you pray about whom to locate to fix the roof?

Now, these are things that we have to do. But make your plans in the presence of the Lord and then don’t hesitate when you’re interacting with other people to let them know where you stand. A person who lets you know where you stand is a whole lot easier to get along with, isn’t that true? You don’t have to be so spiritual that you have no preferences. Say what you want but make your plans on your knees with the Lord. Good idea? Pray before you open a letter. You don’t know whether it’s a check or a bill or a threat. Pray before you answer the phone. You don’t know if it’s somebody to make a date or break one. Pray your way through the day and when the day is over, you can turn out the pocketful of memories and say, “Lord, I’m yours.” Oh, what a blessed thing it is to live a whole day with the Lord.

Dear Father God, today make us good people. Make us people who are building on the solid rock, the Lord Jesus Christ. Make us people who are pioneering and meeting a need, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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