Giving It Up
Opposition can't be licked by your human smartness — don't try it. Instead, turn it over to your blessed Lord.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? Doin’ alright today? Bless your heart, I hope things are alright at your house. And if, as I sometimes tell you, if you’ve struck a rough time, well just look up and say, “Lord Jesus, see me through this one” and He will. For He hath said, “I will never, never that is, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” So that we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper.”
Well that’s a great passage, and I depend on day by day. Nice to be back with you. This is your friend Bob Cook, and we’re going to spend a few moments talking about what it means to pray for people. He says, “Brethren, pray for us.” At this point I go over to 2 Thessalonians, chapter 3. And we were talking about verse 1 the last time we got together. “Pray that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified.â€Ÿ
Then you go into verse 2. He says, “And pray that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked menâ€Ÿ. Unreasonable and wicked men. What’s the point here. Are you praying against people, Paul? Well, maybe not. But the fact is that if you’re in the work of the Lord, you’ll soon find that, that people oppose you. And they oppose you as Paul says, for two reasons. One is that they’re unreasonable, they are unreasonable. They just do not reason. “That we may be delivered from wicked and unreasonable menâ€Ÿ.
That unreasonable has to do with the lack of logic, the lack of logic and reason — they just don’t have it. I suppose nothing is more frustrating than someone who will not follow the logic of what you’re trying to put across. This is a favorite ploy of course, of those who are agitators. They’ll, they’ll throw in a non-related issue to muddy the waters. This of course is done every day. Granted that, that there may be some malice there. We lay that aside momentarily and say there’s some folk who just don’t seem to be able to, to grasp what you’re trying to put across. And so they stand in your way without any good reason for it except they’re against it.
And Paul said, “Just ask that God will deliver us from folk like that.” — people who stand in the way not for any good reason, but just because they, they will not and can not see the truth of the Word of God. Then wicked is, is something that actually means intrinsically evil — base, and evil, and vile — that’s what that word is. People who are evil and vile. Strangely enough, the human heart when it’s steeped in sin is, is committed to opposition to God. And because you represent Him, it centers on you.
One of our young men who led Youth for Christ in France many years ago, was caught in a riot where he nearly lost his life. And as people by the hundreds were, were surging around and jostling, and he was being mauled and beaten, he said to the leader of all of this, “Why do you hate me so?” And the leader pointed to the Bible, which our man still held in his hand and he said, “Because you preach that book!”
You take your stand for the Lord Jesus, and you’ll find that the devil’s crowd is lined up against you because they are against the Word of God and against the God of the Word. And so he says not everyone has faith. A lot of people are, are committed to faithlessness, are committed to their sins. And of them Paul says in Romans 1, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they wish to do such are worthy of death, not only do them but have pleasure in them.”
Commitment to sin ends in an irrevocable opposition to God and to His Word. Well, what do you do about it? Well Number 1, don’t fight it yourself. There isn’t any mileage, beloved, in trying on your own, to outwit the devil’s crowd — believe me. You try by public relations, you try by one-on-one conversation, you try by some kind of finagling of one sort or another, you try by applying pressure through higher-ups — there isn’t any mileage in it, youâ€Ÿre not going to make it.
The only answer to opposition from the devil’s crowd is prayer. And Paul knew that, and so he asked people to pray for him that he might be delivered from the devil’s crowd who opposes the Gospel.
Would you take that for yourself today? I know many of you are in difficult situations. Maybe you’re the only Christian in your office. And every time people gathered around the water cooler are exchanging dirty jokes, they see you coming and they point their fingers and snicker and say, “Oh here comes the deacon.” And you know, they sort of disperse, and you feel left out. I know. You’re the only Christian in the office.
And should you make a tiny mistake they say, “Yeah you’re a fine Christian, look at that! You forgot to dot the I” or something like that, you know? Oh that’s rough. You get blamed for all sorts of things because the devil’s crowd has to be against you. The unsaved, unbelieving heart cannot rest. My friend Dave Morkan used to say, “The unbelieving heart cannot rest until it is organized in opposition to God.”
And so you’re in a rough situation, what are you going to do? Well don’t get fussed about it. When you let it get to you that becomes your problem instead of theirs. As long as it’s outside of you, it’s their problem. But when you let it get inside, then it’s your problem, huh? Oh yes. I said one time to General William K. Harrison, who was in charge of the truce negotiations at Panmunjom, years ago. A frustrating business because of the, the intolerable attitude of those with whom he was negotiating, where they would constantly change the ground rules and constantly come up with reasons why things couldn’t be done and all of that.
And so I said to him, “Well General, you certainly must have had lots of problems and heartaches.” He looked at me and he said, “Well, problems yes, but heartaches no.” He said, “A problem is something you look at from the outside. But if you let it get inside, it becomes a heartache.” He said, “I take my problems to Jesus, and he keeps them from being heartaches.” Isn’t that good?
Well see that is what we’re talking about. You don’t try to fight this battle on your own. You don’t allow it to get to you. Many a preacher has, has hindered his own ministry by letting his troubles get into his sermons. And he was, he was then inflicting his woes on the whole congregation. (Laughs)
I remember what happened one autumn morning in, in a town in Iowa. I think it was Des Moines if I remember rightly — it’s a good many years ago now, back in the 1950s. But it was, it was hunting season. And that Sunday morning happened to be the opening day of hunting season. And as a result we had maybe half our crowd, because all the men — and some of the ladies as well — were out in the fields, hunting. (Laughs) Pheasants you know, and small game, and what not, out there in Iowa.
Well, the dear preacher had, he felt, lost some face in giving me only half a house when he had advertised this meeting widely. And it got, he got fussed. And so when he got up to make the announcements, he said, “I want to tell you, listen,” he said, “I’ll tell you whatâ€Ÿs wrong with this church. You know what’s wrong with you?” And the dear people you know, sat there stunned. He said, “You know what’s wrong with you? Half of you are out hunting today, that’s whatâ€Ÿs wrong with you” (Laughs)
Well, the folk that were in the crowd you know, they slunk down in their seats ’cause he was, he was preaching to the wrong crowd. He, he got fussed. He’d let it get to him. So when I got up I said, “Pastor, let’s not scold the folk who are here, God bless ’em. Weâ€Ÿre grateful for the ones God gave us. Let’s, let’s seek Him for His blessings.” So I tried to heal it up a little, and went out and preached. (Laughs)
But oftentimes you know, we preachers let our, let our personal troubles get into our preaching because we’re human, you know. I suppose that’s it anyway. And as a result it hinders the effectiveness of what we’re trying to do for God. Don’t let the opposition of people — even if you’ve got someone on the Board of Deacons that always votes “Noâ€Ÿ — or maybe that’s the only time he has to say “Noâ€Ÿ. Maybe he canâ€Ÿt say “Noâ€Ÿ anywhere else. (Laughs) Maybe you got somebody who’s against you personally, and who stands in your way. Or maybe your, your Board has, has, has killed a pet project, there’s something that you wanted very much to do.
I remember I spent hours and hours with another young man in laying out a Church newspaper. It was beautiful. And I brought the first issue to the deacon’s meeting and spread it before them and said, “Brothers, this is what I’d like to be doing here. We need a Church newspaper, and this is a sample of what we could do.” The Chairman took one look at it and he said, “My brother, we brought you here to preach the Gospel, not to fool around with a printing press. Now the next item.” And that was it.
Oh boy, I was so hurt. Well listen, don’t, don’t let these problems get inside. Instead, take them to the Lord in prayer. “Oh what peace we often forfeit. Oh what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayerâ€Ÿ, says the songwriter. Pray that we may be delivered.
Opposition can’t be licked by your human smartness — don’t try it. Instead, turn it over to your blessed Lord. Good idea? Yes, a good idea. And then he adds in verse 3 of Chapter 3 in 2 Thessalonians, “Pray that we may be delivered from wicked and unreasonable men. But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and keep you from evil. You can always count on the faithfulness of God.” When you come to end of yourself, when you come to the end of your resources, when you come to the end of whatever strength you have, you can’t put one foot ahead of another — you’re so tired, when you come to the end of your ideas and you can’t dream up anything else, he says the Lord is faithful.
Great is Thy faithfulness said the prophet. God is not about to drop you. Now he didn’t bring you this far to dump you. No. For He hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” My friend Merv Roselle told about the old deacon who quoted that verse and got his tongued tied up a little. And he said, “He’ll never sake me, nor forleave me.” Well, however you say it, it’s still true. God is there — He’s the God who’s there. And He is not going to drop you now. Go to prayer about these things. Go to prayer about the opposition you face. Go to prayer about the problems — be sure that you keep them outside so they don’t get inside and become your problem. Let Jesus handle them. Amen.
Dear heavenly Father, we love Thee, we want to serve Thee, we want to turn things over to Thee, we want to give Thee the privilege of handling our problems. Make us do that 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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