God Of Second Chances
TranscriptAlright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, this is your friend, Bob Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you. Feeling great today and happy in the Lord. Hope you are, too. We’re looking at 1 Timothy, chapter 1, and the last time we got together we were looking at verse 11, where we were talking about the fact that you and I are placed in trust with the gospel. God gives this life-giving, life-saving, life-maintaining message to you and to me to distribute to needy hearts, and when we went off the air I reminded you that you and I need to pray about our trust. Are we fulfilling God’s mandate to us in this matter? Have we shared, in other words, this blessed, life-giving message with anybody, or are we just keeping it to ourselves? Something to pray about. Well, now we’re going on to verse 12, and I think he said, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry. I, who was before a blasphemer, persecutor and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant.” Now, the point being, God delights to take people who’ve been fighting Him and who may have been completely out of His Will, and when He saves them, He delights to put them to work for Himself. Let me speak with someone who may look back upon things that have happened in your life and you’re, you’re glum and discouraged about them. You say, "Well, I’ll never get over that, I’ll never be, will be very useful because of, of that, and I blew it there, so there - my chances are gone." You’re discouraged about the fact that, that you may not really be used of God because of things that have happened in the past. Am I talking to folks like that? I think I am. Now, please notice this as a case in point. The story of Jonah is another illustration. Jonah disobeyed God, the storm came, the sailors heaved him overboard. God prepared the great fish which swallowed him up, and while Jonah was in the innards of the fish, he repented and had a prayer meeting, and God commanded the fish to spit him up again, and gave him another chance. God is the God of the second chance, isn’t He? Hallelujah for that! And this is true, of His treatment of, of Paul. Here’s a man who was the sworn enemy of the Christian faith and Christian people in those early days of the church, and he was not only active in Jerusalem but now he was going to Damascus and see how many folks he can put in jail there because they were believers of the Lord Jesus Christ. God apprehended him and saved him. You know the story, it’s found in Acts, chapter 9. God apprehended him and saved him, and filled him with the Spirit of God, and then what? Why, it says, “He put me into the ministry.” And over in Galatians, it said, “It pleased God to reveal His Son in me.” The ministry that Paul talked about is a, is a matter of the Lord Jesus being revealed through a person. I want to stop here and talk with you a little bit about that, because see, the, the, the concept of ministry has oftentimes been relegated only to ordained people and folks who are what we call "full-time Christian workers." That’s a misnomer, because everybody’s a full-time Christian. But anyhow, we just sort of bypassed this matter of ministry, except in the case of someone who is in the public eye, someone who is a pastor or an evangelist, or who is broadcasting constantly, or whatever may be, a missionary. Ministry oftentimes has that narrow connotation for us. I want you to know, dear friend, that you have a ministry and it may well be far more important than someone who stands up in a pulpit and prays and preaches. Because to minister is to, is to allow the Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed through you, by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. The Savior said that when the Holy Spirit came, He would testify of Christ, and one of the marks of a Spirit-filled person is that he is not talking about himself or about his spirituality, but he’s talking about the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the marks of a Spirit-filled person is that he’s exalting the Lord Jesus, but back to this concept of ministry. “To reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the heathen,” people who don’t know the Lord. Do you know anything about that? “The secret that we preach among the nations,” Paul said in Colossians 1, “is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” I quoted before from Galatians 2, where Paul said, “Nevertheless I live yet nevertheless, not I but Christ liveth in me and the life which I now live in this body, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” 1 Corinthians 6, “Ye are the temple of God, God hath said, ’I will dwell in them and walk in them.’” See, the indwelling presence of God revealing what the Lord Jesus Christ is and can do, is the secret of this whole matter of ministry. You don’t minister to people by saying something or by doing something, you minister to people by being full of God and spilling over His presence into any given situation. You understand me? You don’t minister necessarily by your skills, you minister by the overflow of God from your life as it impacts any given situation. You come into a, into a room where, where there’s a family gathered and there’s, there’s, there’s been an accident and someone is very near death, and they’re in the next room, in the emergency room of the hospital, and the little devastated family is, is huddled together there. Now, do you have any skill to, to, to, to save that, to save that, that injured family member? No, you don’t. You don’t have any sermon ready, really, because it isn’t the time for a sermon anyway, is it? What do you do if you’re full of the Spirit of God? You bring the presence of God into that room and the love of God spills out of your heart and maybe out of your eyes as well, because the Bible says, “Weep with those that weep,” and people are conscious of the fact that here is somebody of which two things are true, someone of whom two things are true. Number one, this man or woman loves God. Number two, this man or woman loves us. And you minister to them by bringing the presence of God into the room full of tragedy. You follow that? "To reveal His Son in me." Yes, Paul had a brilliant mentality. He’s probably the most brilliant person in, in Christian history, and his writings prove it, but that was not the secret to his greatness, was it? No, it wasn’t. Your ministry does not depend upon your IQ. It will depend upon whether or not your life is full of the presence of God, and the indwelling Spirit of God is the one who does that as you yield to Him so that He can fill every room in your heart-house with His presence. Now that’s a little background of what Paul may have been thinking here when he said, “Thank God who counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, I obtained mercy, and the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundantly with faith and love.” What he said after that word, "ministry," modifies the truth. Let me show you. “Putting me into the ministry.” That’s verse 12, the last phrase, alright? Now what’s the next statement? “I obtained mercy.” You never minister to others until you’ve been to the mercy seat yourself. “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace,” so that we may obtain what? “Obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” You never minister to others unless you’ve bowed at the Cross and sought the mercy of God for yourself. That true humility shows up as well, as does the lack of it if you haven’t been to Calvary. “I obtained mercy,” verse 13, “then the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundantly.” The consciousness of God’s grace only comes after you’ve been to the Cross and asked for mercy. This is the timing of the way God works. The consciousness of God’s gracious provision for you only comes after you’ve been to the Cross and sought His mercy. Start your praying with confession of your faults and shortcomings and sins. Always strive for mercy, make much of the mercy of God, and you’ll have a taste - I promise you - of the grace of God. And then he said, “it was exceeded abundantly with faith and love.” When you go for mercy and God gives you His grace, then you can reach out in faith and believe Him for answer to prayer, and then you find your heart filled with love for Him. "How can I love God more?" Go to the Cross and confess your sins. Go to the Cross and receive His grace, and as you kneel there, find yourself reaching out in faith to believe God for His working in your life, and all of a sudden you’ll find your heart spilling over with love for God. You try that. Anything I tell you, I’ve been there. You can’t make yourself love God more or less. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given unto us, and love for God is a byproduct of contact with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundantly with faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus.” Now, you see what we’ve said so far? He said, “I was beforehand a blasphemer and persecuted, and injurious but God put me into the ministry.” I started out this broadcast by reminding you that God loves to take people who’ve been fighting Him and when they get saved, He puts them to work for Him. Now that’s a good principle. Many of you use it in your teaching, those of you who are teachers, and you use it in your management, those of you who are managers. You find a person who’s - as we say in the accusative case - somebody who always votes "no," somebody who’s against everything, and what you do? You find out what is interesting - he or she is interested in - and then you put the individual to work. A Sunday school teacher told me one time that there was this naughty little boy who was always doing things that were wrong. A little older than the rest of the people in the class. He was also advanced in ways of mischief, and he would scrape his chair on the floor and make obscene noises and gestures and words, and pull the girls’ hair, and throw spitballs and do everything he could to disrupt this Sunday school class. And the teacher said she felt like throwing him out, and then she said, “Well, why don’t I put him to work?” So she got him aside after the class one Sunday and she said, “You know, Jimmy, I need some help. I think that, that you might be able to help me.” Then she laid out the idea for him that somebody needed to keep order in the class, and she said, “I’d like to ask you to serve as Sgt. at Arms, Sgt. at Arms, and you just keep order.” Well, you know that transformed that youngster and he was busy making sure that everybody else behaved, and in the process he, of course, himself, was transformed into a pretty well-behaved youngster. God loves to put people to work; let Him do that for you. Dear Father today, put us in the ministry. Help us to share the Lord Jesus with others, I ask in His 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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