Following His Cues
Don't be concerned about who leads or who gets the credit for things, leave all that in God's hands to do as He pleases.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello, radio friends. How are you? Believe me, there is nothing in all the world so wonderful as opening up the Word of God to people who are waiting to get something special from God, from His Word. I feel so complimented and honored and privileged to have this opportunity just to be with you day by day. Thank you for making it possible through your letters and your backing.
We are in the 15th chapter of the Book of Acts. And it said, after Simon Peter had pointed out that God had been doing some things, and that salvation was by grace through faith, regardless of whether a person were a Jew or a Gentile. Then it says, “The multitude kept silence and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul.” And the last time we got together, I reminded you that if you want people to listen to you, one way to do it is to specialize in lovingly, and in the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, telling the truth. This will be such a shock to folk who are used to arguments and hypocrisy in the kind of combination we have in our culture. Such a shock that they’ll listen to you.
I remember speaking with a newspaper man, good many years ago, who brought his usual journalistic bias to the interview. He was sure that I was just one other religious racketeer, and treated me that way. He asked me a number of probing questions, some of which were about the finances of the work which I was then associated with, of faith work. And of course we took offerings and we tried to raise money and all that. So he asked me some of these probing questions about finances, and sponsorship, and I just told him the truth. We were sitting in the sitting room of a large Chicago newspaper, and all of a sudden he looked up and said to nobody in particular, but in a voice that carried the whole length of the sitting room, he said, “Holy smokes, this guy is honest.” [chuckle] He was so surprised. Well, I tell you, if you want people to listen to you, tell the truth in love. Specialize in being transparently honest, not naive. You don’t have to have a high coefficient of gullibility to be a Christian, you don’t have to be an easy mark, a push over, you don’t have to be naive and childish, but you can be child-like, you can be honest, you can be spiritually guided while you are being honest. You can be filled with the Holy Spirit of God, and thus your honest words can be enabled and empowered by Him.
And the net result of it is that it is so refreshing to people living in this corrupt world, that they’ll wanna hear some more of you. Now, I know that to be a fact. And I’ve tried it both ways, really, I have. I’ve tried to impress people in different situations and come off beaten. And then I’ve been in other situations where I just told the truth without trying to impress anybody. I just came out with the truth, I didn’t try to sell anything, didn’t try to convince anybody, just told the truth, and I found people asking more questions, and asking more questions, and asking more questions, because their hearts were hungry. And all of a sudden, they felt safe with somebody who was obviously not trying to impress them, or put one over on them. Why don’t you try that today? Specialize in honesty today, and see how God the Holy Sprint will bless you.
So Barnabas and Paul declared what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. Did you notice something? When they got to Jerusalem, it was Barnabas and Paul. When they were over in Antioch of Pisidia, it was Paul and Barnabas. Now, stop long enough to realize that in some situations, a man’s natural gifts will give him the leadership. That’s what happened in Antioch, and Pyrga, and Pamphylia, and Derbe, and Lystra; it was Paul, number one, Barnabas, number two. And Barnabas was a great enough spirit to let God decide who was gonna do the leading and go along. Barnabas didn’t have any problem with this at all. I think John Mark did. I think at the point where Paul took over, John Mark said, “This is it. If my uncle isn’t gonna lead the team, I’m not gonna go on.” And he went on home.
But not so with Barnabas, he was large-hearted enough to survive a change in leadership without letting it sink him emotionally. When they got back to Jerusalem, there was a little different set up, and now it was Barnabas and Paul. Why? Because in the eyes of the Jerusalem church, Barnabas was the one who had introduced Paul, Barnabas was the one who had sponsored Paul, Barnabas was the one who had gone over to Tarsus to seek Paul and brought him back to Antioch and Syria, and put him to work for God. And so he, Barnabas, had the precedence, he had the leadership in this situation.
Now, learn something from this; learn that if you are in leadership in one place, it does not necessarily follow that you will be in leadership in another place. Will you learn that? You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache. Yes, you will. I had to learn that back in the days of Youth for Christ. I was President of Youth for Christ International, an organization with headquarters in the United States of America, financed entirely with American dollars, and populated largely with American personnel. We had some Canadian friends, bless them, some of the most wonderful people in all the world, and we had some representatives here and there across the world, comprising a quasi-missionary organization, which since has taken on all the aspects of a full-fledged missionary society, and is stabilized, I’m glad to say, in its missionary procedures. In those days, it was highly volatile, and people everywhere across the world were starting up Youth for Christ.
As a result, I would travel widely and I would get into various countries, and I soon learned that simply because I was the leader of a work with headquarters in Chicago, or near Chicago at Wheaton, Illinois, simply because I was the leader of an American organization did not mean that God was going to give me the leadership in another country. And I have found that I found myself taking second and third and fourth and fifth and 16th place in some countries. Yes, indeed. Why? I’ll put it this way, simply because you have been in leadership in one place, do not expect that God is always gonna make you number one every place. God has some other people that He wants to use, God has some other people that He wants to give leadership and recognition. You don’t have to be number one always. You do have to be faithful always. There is a difference.
Yes, it was Paul and Barnabas in Pisidia, and in some of these other areas. But in Jerusalem, bless your heart, it’s Barnabas first, and Paul. Why? Because that’s the way God set it up at that location. Now, are you willing to be second fiddle? Are you really? Are you willing to play second fiddle, willing to play second fiddle, willing to not have top billing, as they say, willing for somebody else to get the limelight, and the plaudits, and the recognition? Huh? [chuckle] Human nature is wonderful.
I was sitting besides somebody one day in a rally, and the recognitions were being made, and the chairman was saying, “And we want to recognize our Brother So-and-so, who’s outstanding leadership has made this occasion possible.” You know how they go on. And this fellow who was sitting next to me, he just did a slow burn, he poked me in the ribs and he said, “Why doesn’t he tell the truth? You did most of the work.” [chuckle] I said, “Forget it, Brother, forget it. Let God have the glory.” Listen, it’s amazing how much fun you can have if you don’t care who gets the credit. Did you know that? It’s amazing how much blessing and fun and joy you can have if you don’t care who gets the credit. God can be glorified, Jesus can be honored, the Gospel can be preached if you don’t have an attack of apoplexy every time somebody leaves your name out of the list. You don’t have to have your name on the list. God knows all about you. Isn’t that true? Of course. [chuckle]
Oh, I remember the day when I sat and grumbled to God about this whole matter. I had at that time a little basement office, it was damp. In the summer time, the dampness would come in there and all of the drawers in the desk and the file… I had a wooden filing cabinet. They all were these wooden drawers, would swell up and stick, and you couldn’t get them open, and when you got them open you couldn’t get them closed. And the tiles would come up from the floor ’cause they’d work loose with the dampness, and the mold would multiply inside the panelling, in between the furring and the panelling. And I just was, “Oh boy, what a place.” Well, it was nice enough, but it was damp. And then, to add insult to injury, I was working, I thought, pretty hard, although I guess I didn’t know then what hard work really means. I’m working harder now than I ever did before, and enjoying every minute of it.
But I was working pretty hard, and I was doing the best I could to put this whole matter over. I was engaged in promoting a section of the Lord’s work, and doing my best, pastoring a church, preaching a couple of times on Sunday, and sometimes during the week, and working with this youth organization as well, Youth for Christ, and broadcasting and whatnot, the whole mix. And with it all, somebody else was getting all the recognition. I thought I was doing the work, somebody else was getting the recognition. And so, on one of these days, I was tired, and the office was damp, and things were stuck, and I was upset with that, and I knew that I wasn’t really getting very much credit for the work I was doing. This was my set up, I was miffed about it, and fed up. And so I remember sitting at my desk and bowing my head and just grumbling to God. [chuckle]
Did you ever do that? You know, in the middle of that prayer, it was as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder, it was just as though the blessed Spirit of God was standing beside me, personified momentarily in a visible and palpable form, and it was as though a hand were laid on my shoulder, and God said to me, “Listen, you do what I told you to do, I’ll take care of the sunshine. You do what I told you to do, I’ll take care of the sunshine. I’ll give you the recognition you need when you need it.” Well, that was such a blessing to my own heart because I took it as from the Lord, and immediately it relieved me of the stress and the sweat and the irritation and the resentment that had been piling up in my heart. And since that time, many, many times since I have backed off from a situation and say, “Now Lord, let me make sure that I’m doing what you told me to do. That’s what’s important. I wanna do what you told me to do, and I know you’ll take care of the results.” And you know something? He does, He does.
So, here at Jerusalem, it was Barnabas and Paul. Over in Derbe and Lystra, and Antioch of Pisidia, it had been Paul and Barnabas. But now it’s Barnabas and Paul. Be willing, will you? Be willing for God to call the signals, be willing for God to change the leadership mix, be willing for God to say who’s going to lead the parade, be willing for God to say who’s gonna be chairman of the committee, be willing for God to determine how much sunshine, how much recognition you’re gonna get. Because He knows how much you can stand, and you’re safe in His hands.
Well, it says they all kept silence and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. When God does something for you, it is no sin to let people know it. The problem with many of us is that nothing has been happening in our lives, and so we don’t have much to say. Between now and the next time we get together, would you give some thought and prayer to the answer to this question: What has God been doing through my life that’s worth talking about? You might be surprised with the answer. Now, let’s pray.
Dear Father, watch over my dear friends, and keep us close to Thee. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen. God bless you, dear friend, all the way.
That’s all for now, until I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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