Action Follows Commitment
God wants us to mean what we say and commit to it. Action follows commitment. It has to be that way.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing alright? Well, I’m fine, thank you. Hallelujah! Got so much to be thankful for and no complaints to bring to the complaint desk of Heaven today, believe me.
Well, I trust all is well with you and that the blessing of the Lord is rich and full in your own life. If you’ve struck a rough day, remember, look up and say, “Lord Jesus, see me through this one,” and He will. “Yea though I walk through the Valley,” He said, “I’ll fear no evil.” God brings you through every time. He says, “God makes us always” – not sometimes, but always – “to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the fragrance of His knowledge by us in every place.” Always a winner, always with a life that is like God’s perfume in a situation. Beautiful thought, isn’t it? And it’s all true.
Last time we got together we were dealing with this concept of unfeigned faith, which is found in 1 Timothy, chapter 1, and verse 5. “God’s objective,” says Paul, “is a heart full of love, a conscience that’s clean, and actions that substantiate our profession.” Unfeigned faith. Now, when we just were going off the air, I was telling you how, as I understand it, you can achieve this kind of lifestyle – unfeigned faith. Number one, there has to be a genuine commitment on your part. You have to mean it.
A good friend of mine, some years ago, would always answer my question about his addiction to tobacco with a smile and say, “Oh yeah, Brother, I’ve tried so many times to quit, but I just can’t seem to.” Finally, one day I confronted him in typical Cook fashion. I said, “My friend, I don’t think you really want to, do you? I think you enjoy what you’re doing, don’t you?” Then he was shocked for moment and he said, “You know, Cook, you’re right.” Well, there came a day when the doctor told him if he wanted to keep on living, that he had to give up piling this nicotine into his body, and – do you know – he stopped. Now, why? Because for the first time in his life, he was faced with a genuine commitment to something that involved his very life.
Now, you want to just bring that over into your own life on Main Street and, and walk around with it for a moment? You see, our problem oftentimes is, that we say that we want the Will of God, but we really don’t want to. It’s like a little girl that Clyde Narramore told about who said, “Let’s not talk about it. Let’s let me have my way.” Oh, we say that to God the Father: “Lord I want Your Will, but please let me have this.”
Like a lady said to me many years ago, she said, “Can’t I divorce my husband and marry this other man, and then ask the Lord to forgive me?” She had it all figured out, didn’t she? Has to start with a genuine commitment where you, in your deepest heart of hearts, say and mean it: “Yes” to the Will of God.
Now, that doesn’t mean that your conduct is going to be perfect, because none of us is perfect. They make erasers on lead pencils because of that. I’m not talking about sinless perfection. I am talking about a heart that’s committed. You understand the difference?
I have solemnized a good many marriages as a clergyman through the years. When I was in the pastorate for 18 years, I had a lot of different weddings, as the rest of you pastors do. There’s a phrase in that day, and of course the fact that I mentioned that there today, it’s 52 years since I said “I do,” that brought back this remembrance. There’s a phrase in that ceremony that is ordinarily used: “This woman that stands by your side and who holds you by the right hand, and forsaking all others, keep thee only unto her, so long as you both shall live,” and you say, “I do.” What are you doing? You’re saying, “Oh look, this is it.” You may have been dating a different girl every night in past months and years, but now you’re saying “This is it. This is the one for me.”
Now, that doesn’t mean that as the years go by, you know, that you won’t have some disagreements or maybe some rocky times in the interpersonal weather. Anybody who’s always smiling and always happy is probably lying about something. What it does say is you’ve made a commitment that you really mean, and I think we have to start there in the matter of living for the Lord. How deeply do you mean it when you say, “I want God’s Will in my home”? “I want God’s Will in my own personal life and character.” When you say, “I want God’s Will in my profession.” When you say, “I want God’s Will in my business,” what does it mean? Well, I have to tell you, if you really want faith that’s unfeigned – genuine – that is faith that has to be a sincere commitment where you mean it when you say “yes” to God.
Now, what else? Then there is that constant awareness, moment by moment, of our need for His touch upon our lives. Paul says, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, Who hath made us able ministers of the New Testament.” That’s God’s new relationship with people, and made manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place. He’s made us able ministers. Why? Because we learned to depend on the one that can make you an able person. Not that we’re sufficient of ourselves.
I remember praying with a man who had just finished an attack of the DT’s. He’d just come off of a terrific drinking binge. His physician had sent me to call on him, and when I called on him, his home looked like a cyclone had hit it and he was in bad shape physically, but conscious enough to realize that he was in bad shape and needed some help. And so I explained to him the way of salvation and prayed with him there, and he prayed, receiving Christ into his heart. He was happy after he got up off his knees and was smiling through the mist of tears in his eyes, and I said, “Now remember, you have to trust the Lord Jesus Christ to keep you moment by moment.” “Oh, I’ll make it alright, Brother Cook. I’ll make it.”
Well, you know what happened. He “fell off the wagon,” as we say. So, I went back to go over the ground again. This time there was a different attitude. He knew now that he couldn’t trust himself and he couldn’t keep himself. He couldn’t gain victory by himself, and so he began that process of trusting the Lord – every moment of every day – and he made it then. And he stayed sober and kept on living for the Lord.
Now, this is where it’s at, beloved. First of all, the step of absolute commitment. You have to mean it. Second, the process of constant correction, always looking heavenward. He said, “I will guide thee with mine eye.” The psalmist quotes God as saying to the saint, “I will guide thee with mine eye.” How can you be guided by somebody else’s eye? Well, every married man knows that when you’re out at dinner and you look across the table and your wife gives you a certain look, you know not to take a second helping of something. Isn’t that true? I know. You see, you have to look at a person to be guided by his eye. So He says, “I’ll guide thee with mine eye,” and Paul says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” So it’s that constant heavenward look. Pray your way through the day.
Red Harper, who worked for some years with Billy Graham in the early years of our Brother Graham’s ministry, was sort of a singing cowboy, and he was telling what happened right after he became a Christian. We had him in some of our Youth for Christ rallies in those early days, back in the late 40s and early 50s. He said, “You know, when I first became a Christian, I thought I was going to be alright. And so I went right on and, and said, ‘I’m a Christian, everything’s going to go alright,’ and I didn’t pray about things,” he said. “I soon got into great difficulty.” Then he said, “I made up my mind that Jesus was going to run my life.” He said, “Friends,” he said in his, in his cowboy way, he said, “friends, today I don’t even go through a revolving door without saying, ‘After you, Lord.’”
Well, there’s the point. Let the Lord go through the doorway first. “When He put forth His own sheep,” Jesus said, as recorded in John 10, “When He put forth His own sheep, He goeth before.” Let Him go before you through the doorways of life. Let Him lead you in the small details as well as the great decisions. Pray your way through the day; that’s what I used to tell the young people at the college. Pray your way through the day. Pray for God’s intervention in the ordinary things of life so that there will be that constant correction of your course, keeping you headed in the direction of the Will of God. You follow that?
Faith unfeigned; faith that is followed by substantial action that corroborates and substantiates your profession. Paul talked about people who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. A form of godliness. Many people are willing to pray, but not obey. The old song we sang in Sunday school, and still do from time to time, said, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Not just say the prayer, beloved. That’s good, but to follow the prayer with the act of obedience. Now, what that means to you I can’t tell because the circumstances of life vary so greatly from one person to another. For you to pray for God’s Will today might result in going next door and, and getting right with your neighbor with whom you’ve been carrying on a feud. I don’t know.
When the revival came some years ago to a number of the campuses in the Christian college campuses in, in our country, the evidence of it was a flurry of letters back home apologizing for things that the young person had said and done. When revival came to a certain community up in Canada, the evidence of it was that there was a bunch of, of people coming to department stores and returning or offering to pay for things that they had taken, shoplifted. Action follows commitment. It has to be that way. So I don’t know, I say, what action is involved with you. I only know me because I live with me. I know that as I pray, God whispers to my heart things I need to do. Let’s follow what He says today: unfeigned faith. That’s God’s plan for you.
Dear Father today, make us real with Thee in our profession, and in our commitment, and in our action, 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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