Believe God for a new start, and a new touch, and a new blessing, and a new vision, and a new commission; and He’ll give it to you.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello, friends, how are you? Doing all right today? Well, I trust so. We wanna continue in the 15th chapter of the Book of Acts. Now, the last time we got together, I was remarking to you that any problem will yield to more facts and to prayer. And so, the church at Antioch decided to send Paul and Barnabas up to Jerusalem to see whether they could settle this problem that had been raised by certain people who said, “Look, you have to become a full-fledged member of the Jewish community before you can be saved and follow all the regulations of the Mosaic law.”
Well, interestingly enough, on their journey, they stayed on the job. Small thought here: What do you do when you go on a trip? Do you take a vacation from God as well? It’s amazing how many people, when they are on their way somewhere, get this detached feeling as though nothing matters now. I’ve seen this happen on trans-Atlantic flights and also on ships. The very dignified gentleman who boards the ship and is seen off at the dock by his friends and family, after the three mile limit has passed, proceeds to become the number one ship’s wolf, so to speak. And the very fine charming looking lady who gets on the boat and seems so dignified and so gracious, turns out to be the ship’s lush, she’s stoned for the rest of the journey. And somebody else gambles all through the trip.
It’s hard to figure that out because they didn’t seem to be that kind of person on the dock, but after the journey is underway, they get this feeling of, “Well, it doesn’t matter now.” And you can see them settling down again when they are within sight of land, so to speak, just before the ship docks. They put on their mask again, and they become the person that they seemed to be when they got on the boat.
Same thing is true only in a smaller segment of time on a flight over an ocean or from one country to another. People get this detached feeling, and you notice it, of course, when a group goes on a long drive. Maybe you’re taking a vacation trip with the family or whatever, and you think, “Well, nothing matters now. It doesn’t matter, for instance, that we have family worship. It doesn’t matter that we either look or act or dress or talk like Christians. It won’t be still important to go to Sunday school this Sunday. After all, we’re on vacation.” And as a result, you get to the end of the trip feeling depleted spiritually. Has that ever happened to you? Well, now what do you do about it?
Notice Acts 15:3, “Being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles.” See, they’re preaching right along, see? “And they caused great joy unto all the brethren.” They brought joy, they preached the Gospel, they kept right on with the job God had given them, although they were on a journey. And I think you and I can learn from that. Can we not? You’re gonna take a trip today, you’re going to get on an airplane and fly somewhere today? You’re going to drive somewhere today? A little later on, are you going to plan a vacation? Let’s just remember that, wherever you are and however you’re traveling, you’re still very much on the job. And never is a time when you can say it doesn’t matter now, because it always matters and you’re always on the job for the Lord. Okay?
Have you ever noticed how the snow turns blue at sunset? I’ve taken snow for granted through the years, but I just noticed the other day as I looked out across the Palisades toward the sunset from this window where I prepare these broadcasts, that the snow gets a bluish tint to it, it’s beautiful. And I began to understand the expression that is found in one of those songs we used to sing, “He’s fairer than the glory of the golden purple dawn.” The hills are actually purple at sunrise and sunset, aren’t they? Beautiful. God made a pretty world, didn’t He? Oh yes, He did.
Well, we’re in the 15th chapter of the Book of Acts. It says, “When they were come to Jerusalem,” this is Verse 4, “They were received of the church and by the apostles and elders, and they declared all the things that God had done with them.” Interestingly enough, this is different from the last time Paul had gone to Jerusalem. Do you remember that? When Saul was come to Jerusalem, he tried to join himself to the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. And believed, not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and how he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And then he was with them coming in and going out of Jerusalem. Well, it’s a little different this time. They’re getting a better welcome, aren’t they? You have to give God time with people. Have you learned that? Have you learned to give God time with people?
Not everybody realizes that you’re as nice as you really are. [chuckle] That’s right. They just don’t. And sometimes, they’ll hold you at arm’s length, so to speak. They won’t really open their hearts to you, and you feel left out, and you feel estranged, and you feel snubbed, and you feel offended as a result. Now, don’t try to force a relationship, just keep on being a blessing. All you have to do is specialize in being a blessing and let God bring people around to you, and He will.
You can’t force an apple to get ripe, and you can’t force a friendship to get ripe, but you can be a blessing to people. You can stay on the job for the Lord Jesus. And the word finally gets around that you are the real article, that you can be trusted, and that God does walk in your shoes, and then you’ll find people opening up to you and being friendly. A little time had passed and God had worked in the lives of these two, especially in the life of Saul of Tarsus, now called Paul. And so, they got a different reception this time.
Would you be willing to give God some time with the people that have maybe irritated you, because they didn’t treat you the way you thought they should? Give God time. And as the months and the years go by, you’ll see Him working wonderfully in the lives of people, but give Him time. And in the meanwhile, specialize in being a blessing. That’s what you and I need to do. Well, it says they were received by the church and the apostles and elders, and they declared all the things that God had done with them, not all the things they had done for God, but all the things that God had done with them.
Reorient your life from this point of view: What has God done with my life? Not what have I done for God, but what has God done with my life? You’d be amazed at the difference that it makes. Some of the things that you’ve been emphasizing will be completely lost sight of. Other things that you have been de-emphasizing will be brought out into sharp focus. Everything depends upon who’s getting the glory, doesn’t it? Oh yes, oh yes. All the things that God had done with them. Make a list, my friend, of what God has done with you. I’m so grateful as I think of what God has done with my life.
He had me be born of praying parents. I’ve told you years ago on these broadcasts about the fact that there were two Christian ladies that joined with my mother to pray for this little baby that was on the way. Every morning at a certain hour, these three ladies prayed for the baby that was on the way, me. If there’s any blessing in my life today, it’s because God had me be born into a praying home. And of course, my mother died before I could get to know her. She was gone when I was… I was born in June, and she died the following October, a year. So that’d be, say, 16 months, wouldn’t it?
Well, I didn’t remember much about her, but my father, oh what a praying man he was. I’ve told you how I would wake up at 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning, and hear him praying softly for his boy, “God, bless my boy today. Hold on to him and guide him and keep him from sin. Have him grow up to be a man of God.” Oh, how he’d pray for me. God has done a great thing with me in having me be born into a home like that, in guiding me to the Moody Bible Institute right after high school so that I could get a Bible foundation for my later studies, in allowing me to go to a Christian college, where my faith would be strengthened there at Wheaton College, and on into seminary, and on into the pastorate, and guided from one place to another. And then into Youth for Christ, and then into religious publishing, so that I would learn something about management before I came to be here at the King’s College. How good God has been to me, hasn’t He? Oh, how I praise Him, praise Him for giving me a faithful godly wife. When I see the heartaches that people have because of broken homes, how grateful I am for a Christian home. Oh yes, wonderful, wonderful.
You know, when you stop to think of all that God has done with you, all that He has done with you, your point of view becomes altogether different, doesn’t it? And you wanna praise Him. You don’t look for credit to yourself. You don’t look for glory to yourself. You don’t look for somebody to pat you on the back and say, “Well, that was great.” Oh, what you want them to say is,” God has been working. This is the Lord’s doing, and it’s marvelous, marvelous in our eyes.”
So, Paul and Barnabas declared all the things that God had done with them. And I’m sure there must have been a wrapped and attentive audience when Paul was telling how they stoned him, dragged him out of the city, and how God raised him up, and what God said to him during those moments. And he told how the message was received, and he told about Elymas, the sorcerer, and how God smote him, so clearly demonstrating the power of God as victorious over every demonic force in the world. Told about all these different things, must have been great.
You know, one thing I have wondered is, where in the world was John Mark? John Mark went back into Jerusalem. It says in Acts 13:13, he went back to Jerusalem, but it doesn’t say that he came to these meetings. I wonder, I wonder where he was. Do you think he came around? Well, I don’t know. He’s mentioned later on in the 15th chapter, when Barnabas decides that he’s going to take Mark and go to Cyprus, and Paul went a different way. But I wonder where John Mark was. You know, I’d like to drop a suggestion. I’m talking to somebody who may have failed, just like John Mark did. Maybe you quit on the job for God somewhere, or maybe you’ve made some dreadful mistake that has closed the door of opportunity to you somewhere, and so you’re just sort of hanging around the edges, wistfully wishing that you might once again have the blessing of God.
Listen, brother, sister. Come on in. Don’t hang around the edges of the crowd. Come on in, get people to pray for you. Get some kind-hearted Barnabas to take you once again under his wing. Believe God for a new start, and a new touch, and a new blessing, and a new vision, and a new commission, and He’ll give it to you. There was a second chance for Jonah, and there was a second chance for John Mark. There’s a second chance for you. Don’t give up. It’s always too soon to quit.
Yes, we miss John Mark here, but later on, he shows up and God uses him. And later on, years and years later, Paul, the aged Apostle is writing, and he says, “Take Mark and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” The young fellow that once was considered of no use to Paul, now he says he’s profitable to me. So don’t hang around the edges of the crowd, friend. Come on in and get some kindly Barnabas to pray for you and take you along, and get you started again.
Dear Father, help us to stay on the job for you today. Whatever we do and wherever we are, help us to keep right on telling people about Jesus. I ask in His name. Amen. Amen. God bless you, dear friend, all the way.
That’s all for now. Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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