The way to reflect gratitude for what God has given you is to point straight to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Scripture: John 3:17-27, John 3:27, Romans 12


And hello, radio friends. How in the world are you? [chuckle] Yes, that little greeting establishes the fact that this is Bob Cook, and I am interested to know how you are. That’s why I wait after I’ve asked the question. That was pounded into me in my boyhood days. My father would hold me by one ear and say, “Boy, when you ask a question, give people a chance to answer it.” [chuckle] There were certain basic rules. One was, “Don’t snoosh, don’t sniffle, and blow your nose.” Another was, “Speak when you’re spoken to.” Did any of you ever get that when you were growing up? “Speak when you’re spoken to. Hold out your hand and say hello, and speak when you’re spoken to.” In other words, keep quiet at meal time. Children are supposed to be seen and not heard.

Even into high school days, when I was chief cook and bottle washer for my father, and I’d make supper for him when he came home from work, and I’d sit at the table and be wanting to tell him something about the day, he’d look at me and say sternly, “Boy, supper is for eating. Now, be quiet.” [laughter] Oh, dear. Well, there was one good rule that I learned early on and that was instant obedience. If he said come here, you better get there, or he’d help you. Instant obedience. And all of these things were good. I was brought up by a praying man who took his job as father for his motherless boy, he took that job very seriously before God. And he said to me one time, with tears actually in his eyes, “My boy, I’m responsible to God for you.” Yeah, there’s the difference. So all of this grew out of the fact that I wait a moment when I ask, “How in the world are you?” Give you a chance to answer.

You and I are looking at John 3, “He that believeth on Jesus is not condemned.” But the crisis point, the turning point, the condemnation, the thing that does you in, in other words, is what you love. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” Jesus said. Men love darkness rather than light.

Paris Reidhead, a good friend of mine, who’s now in Bible teaching work mostly, but for years was a missionary, I think, it was in Africa, actually. He was speaking for our students at the college years ago, and he told the following story. He said he went out as a young missionary full of vim and vigor and vitamins. He was gonna change things and was gonna evangelize that whole corner of the world. Well, the mission sent him out into a village somewhere, and he settled down, learned the language, began to preach the gospel, and after he’d been in that village for a while, let’s say a year or whatever, he was waited upon by the village chief and the village elders and they came courteously to his cottage and they said, “We’d like to ask a favor of you.” He said, “What is it?” “We’d like to have you leave.” Well, he said, “Why? What have I done?” “No, it’s nothing that you’ve done. But if we believe in your Jesus, we’re gonna have to live differently, and we like the way we’re living now and we wish you’d leave.”

Well, it almost broke his heart. He thought he was gonna be welcomed. He thought the gospel message was gonna be welcomed by everyone. The people were just waiting to hear the glad good news that Jesus saves. And here were people thoughtfully and courteously asking him to leave because they liked the way it was. Oh, yes, and that’s true all over the world. It may be true in your own heart. You may be making a decision between you and God on one hand, and something else that you are very, very much attached to. I don’t know, but you know because you live with you. Down deep in one’s heart, the decision, see, the crisis point, there it is. The crisis point, the turning point, the condemnation point, the thing that does you in, is that which you really, really love.

Boy, that shakes you up when you realize it, because many a person is making decisions, however you may rationalize them, making decisions based on the fact that you dearly love what you’re doing and you know that if you loved God, you wouldn’t be doing that. That’s a rough one, isn’t it? And it hits us all. It surely does. This is the crisis point. This is the turning point. This is what does you in. Men love darkness rather than light. He says, “Everyone that doeth evil hateth the light.” Why? Because the light reproves his deeds. He doesn’t come to the light lest his deeds should be reproved. You don’t want to be scolded. You don’t wanna be reproved. You don’t wanna be straightened out. You want it to stay like it is. So stay away from the light.

If the truth were known, many a person refuses to go to church because he doesn’t wanna risk getting convicted of his sin. “I don’t want that preacher to scold me, I can get that for free.” And he stays home, doesn’t go to church. Why? Well, he doesn’t wanna risk getting convicted. But he says, “He that doeth truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest.” If you’re really right with God, you’ll be glad when anything shows up.

We’ve been through some rough months in Christian work, and those who were highly visible by means of television and otherwise, when they stumbled and fell had an effect upon all of God’s work, more or less here and there. There was an interesting development, however. In one of these areas, the man in charge welcomed the folk from the newspaper, welcomed the people from the lawyer’s office, welcomed the IRS people. He said, “Come on in, take a look.” And they said, “We can’t get over this. Other people wanna hide the facts and you’ve just welcomed us in. We just can’t get over it.” [chuckle] He that doeth truth cometh to the light.

See, if you’re doing the right thing you don’t have to worry, do you? I used to tell the young fellas working with me in Youth for Christ to always tell the truth, always, that is, tell the truth, then you don’t have to worry about what you said last. Always welcome the light, because if you’re doing the right thing it’ll show you up well. You’ll look good in the light if you’re doing the right thing. “He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” What shows up well when the light is turned on? What you do for God and by His grace and power.

If this is too simple for you, I’m sorry. This is the way life is. What really shows up well when the light’s turned on? When the newspaper writes about you, when the reporters ask question about you, when somebody hands you a subpoena and you’ve gotta cough up your records, what shows up well? Then the things you’ve been doing for God and by His enablement always show up well. That his deeds may be made manifest, that it comes to the light, the light’s turned on. “That his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought,” that means done, “in God.” It’s not only for God but it’s in God. That is to say, by His enablement. Anything you do for God and by His enablement is gonna show up well when people turn on the light. It’s that simple. Anything you do just for yourself is going to be suspect.

Oh, you and I have learned that lesson and re-learned it as often as need be, because there lies the difference between people in the world who are ambitious and wanna be successful, and people in God’s work who long to serve God and equally be successful. The things you do for God and by His enablement are the things that will show up well when the light is turned on.

Now, we’re going on in John 3, he says, “After these things, the Lord Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea and there He tarried with them and baptized.” Another record said, “Although Jesus baptized not but His disciples.” In any case, there they were together, and people would come confessing their sins and being baptized. John also, John the Baptist also was baptizing in Aenon, near to Salim, because there was much water there and they came and were baptized, for John was not yet cast into prison. Now, a delegation comes to John the Baptist and said, “Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan to whom thou bearest witness, behold the same baptizeth and all men come to Him.” John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing except to be given him from heaven.” “A man can receive nothing except to be given him from heaven.” John knew what God had delivered to him to do. He also knew that any notoriety, any attention that the Lord Jesus Christ was getting in these early days of His earthly ministry was divinely provided. I wonder if you’ve applied John 3:27 to your own life. “A man can receive nothing except to be given him from heaven.”

Paul the Apostle said, “What hast thou that thou didst not receive?” We are indeed debtors to the grace of God. God has given us all that we are and all that we have. Your heritage was given to you. Generations past have been poured into your own blood and your genes reflect the influence and the culture and the habits of all those who went before you. They’ve been given to you. And then your growing up process and all of the people you’ve met and all of the things you’ve learned, the kind of person you’ve become, all of this is something that God has given you. A man can receive nothing except to be given him from heaven.

Now, that brings me then to ask you this question. What do you have that God has especially given you? Paul says in Romans 12, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given unto us.” Spiritual gifts differ, one person from another. “Because God gives to each one,” Paul says in the Corinthians, “Gives to each one severally as it hath pleased Him.” God makes you and me different from other people because that’s the way He wants it. And there are some things that He’s given you that other people don’t have.

You may be able to sing beautifully, others can’t carry a tune. You may be able to sell effectively, others can’t convince anybody to change their mind. You may be able to speak effectively and others cannot make a speech for the life of them. You may be able to write beautifully and others can’t write a paragraph that isn’t full of dangling modifiers. Whatever it may be, beloved, God has given you some special gifts, hasn’t He? A man can receive nothing except to be given him from heaven.

Now, the next step beyond that is what we’ll take up the next time we get together. Jesus must increase. Because God has given me all this, Jesus must increase and I must decrease. The way to reflect gratitude for what God has given you is to point straight to the Lord Jesus Christ, and make sure that people’s attention is focused upon Him. Give some thought to what God has given specially to you and then start to use those gifts for Jesus, your blessed Lord.

Thanks, Lord for all your blessings. We love you. 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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