His Glory Alone
Point to Jesus, give Him the glory. He must increase, I must decrease.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, friends. How in the world are you? Doing alright today? Oh, I trust so. Bless your heart. Glad to be back with you, This is your good friend, Bob Cook. We’re looking into the Gospel of John, we’re in chapter 3. Precious verses, we were walking around there for awhile in the passages surrounding 3:16, “God so loved the world… ” Interestingly enough it says the problem with unsaved people, the crisis point, the turning point with unsaved people is that they love sin. “Men loved darkness,” and that word ‘loved’ is the very same Greek verb that is used in 3:16, “God so loved the world,” an all compelling, all giving, all pervading love. And so men loved darkness rather than light. Interesting, isn’t it?
Well then, we came on in verse 22 to this dialogue where they came to John the Baptist and said, “Rabbi, the one you introduced is now your competition. What are you gonna do about that?” Let me ask you something, what do you do about competition in Christian work? You’ve been pastor of the First Church of I Will Arise, or whatever you call it, for 20 years, doing your best, going along, modest growth, nothing outstanding but nothing to be ashamed of either. Now, there comes a young preacher to town and starts a work down the street from you, and people flock to him. Some of your own congregation show up missing in your services and you hear through the grapevine that they were down there at this new church here listening to this new preacher. How do you feel about that? [chuckle] It’s pretty hard to pray for him, isn’t it? Hard to pray, “Lord, bless him,” when you think he’s stealing your sheep.
Well, nobody forced them to go there, you didn’t force them and he didn’t. Did he? So what are you gonna do about competition? They were saying that to John, they said, “The fellow you introduced is now your competition, and he’s got bigger crowds than you. And there’s more money in his offering. We know, ’cause we counted.” [chuckle] Oh, boy. People always are glad to give you the bad news, aren’t they?
When I was president of Youth for Christ, I was president from ’48 to ’57, a little while ago, but human nature hasn’t changed much, I assure you. When I was president, every May, that’s the month we’re in, [chuckle] I called it ‘vulture month’ because all of the buzzards, the evangelical vultures, would gather around and wait for Youth for Christ to die, and they’d sorta pick at the bones, so to speak, in anticipation. They’d come and sit in my office. My pet peeve is when anybody has nothing to do, I don’t want them to do it in my office. They’d come and sit in the office and say, “Well, Bob, we’re sorry, Youth for Christ is dying.” [chuckle] Oh, boy! That blessed me to death.
Well, I would tell them, I would say, “Well, if it’s dying, it’s a pretty lively corpse.” And I still have to say that today after the years have passed. Ted Engstrom, and Kelly Bihl, and Sam Wolgemuth, and Jay Kesler, and now our Brother Wynn, all of them outstanding leaders in the work of Youth for Christ. Earl Schultz, as he oversees the North American missionary outreach of the work. Great leaders. And the thing is very much alive. But always, there are people that are willing to be evangelical buzzards and come and be the gloom and doom sayers, and point out the fact that things may not be going as well as you think. That’s what they were doing to John the Baptist. “Yeah, the man you introduced, he’s your competition now. He’s getting more people in these crowds and there’s more people singing in his choir, and there’s more money in his offering. What are you gonna do about that?”
John the Baptist zeroed in to a truth that will help you if you’re a pastor, an evangelist, a Sunday school teacher, or just a garden variety Christian, like most of us. He zeroed in on a truth that will help you greatly if you had put it to work. He said, “A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven.” A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven. Now there’s two ways to apply that: Number one, what you have, the place where you are, where you are, what you are, and what you have is God’s gift to you, use it. Don’t gripe about it, use it. That’s the first thing. The second thing is, what the other fellow has is something God has permitted and given to the other person. John pointed out, he said, “Ye yourselves bare me witness that I said, ‘I’m not the Christ, I’m sent before Him.’ He that hath the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom… ” We’d call him the best man today. “The best man stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. This, my joy, therefore, is fulfilled. He must increase.” He’s the bridegroom. “I must decrease.” You never saw the best man being congratulated at a wedding, did you? They don’t throw rice at the best man. [chuckle] John had it right. “He must increase.” Why? Because He’s the one.
What do you do about competition? Number one, realize that where you are is where God put you. Use what He’s given you. You spin your wheels and waste your energy when you complain. My father used to say to me, “Boy, it doesn’t take any brains to complain.” He was right. You spin your wheels and waste your energy when you complain. What you are, where you are, and what you have is what God has given you, use it for His glory. You say, “I’m unhappy in my job. Things are going wrong. The boss doesn’t understand me and doesn’t… And other people get the credit, and all that.” I know. The Bible says, pray about your job, and things will change. “Commit your work unto the Lord, and your thoughts shall be established.” Have you prayed about your job? Have you asked God to help you do a better job? Good idea, wouldn’t you say?
Competition. Where you are, what you are, and what you have is God’s gift to you. A man can receive nothing except it be given him from Heaven. But apply that that also now, beloved, to your competition. Somebody else down the street seems to be having a better time of it, an easier time, a more profitable time of it. What are you gonna do about that? Thank God for him, or her, or them, and ask God to bless. You’ll find that it helps you do a better job when you pray honestly for somebody else. He said, “Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another that ye may be healed.” You get better when you pray for somebody else. You will preach better when you pray for somebody else. You will be more effective as a Sunday school teacher, or a Christian worker, or a garden variety Christian when you pray for somebody else. And always, and always, remember that the one who gets the glory is the Lord Jesus Christ.
I think it was T. W. Wilson whom I met years ago when he had just come along with others back from a meeting of the Billy Graham team. Now, I have known our brother Graham since the early 1940’s. I know him to be a dear, wonderful man of God, absolutely straight and true, and honest, and sincere. And he has never changed from the fine preacher and person that he was when I first met him. He was the first speaker that we had in 1944 in Chicagoland Youth for Christ, preached on Belshazzar’s feast, “Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting,” great, convicting, gospel sermon. A lot of people saved that night, there in that first rally in Orchestra Hall as Torrey Johnson led it. And I was the song leader, and Billy was the preacher. And so as the years went on, 1948 he started his Evangelistic Association, and was catapulted into nationwide and worldwide fame very shortly thereafter as the Hearst newspapers began to report on his activities, and God continued to bless him. All through these years, he’s kept steady and kept clean, and there has been no hint of financial finagling, or moral hanky-panky, or anything else. Good godly man, bless him. I love him.
Every now and again, he gets his team together, and they go on a retreat somewhere, and he opens his heart to them, and they have times of prayer and planning. So, as I was saying I think it was T. W. Wilson whom I met right after one of these team meetings. Well, I said, “T, how did you do? What went on?” “Oh”, he said, “It was a tremendous time.” “Well,” I said, “I know it was tremendous. Well, what really impressed you?” He said, “You know, Bob, Billy always talks to us out of his heart, and he said, ‘There’s one thing I want you people to remember, you must never, never touch the glory. Always give God the glory. Don’t ever take any credit, don’t take any glory for yourself. Don’t touch the glory, give God the glory.'” When it comes right down to it, that’s the way to handle success. It’s the way to handle your competition. It’s the way to handle every day’s living for your blessed Lord. Point to Jesus, give Him the glory. He must increase, I must decrease.
I’m pleased, of course, when people enjoy my sermons, anybody would be, but I’m delighted when somebody goes away saying, “I met the Savior.” That’s when your heart is just filled with joy. He must increase. Oh, listen, what are you preaching for? What are you teaching for? What are you aiming for? You want people to say you’re the greatest? I remind you that public acclaim is a very fickle thing. The crowd that shouted, “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord!”, was the same crowd that shouted, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” a few hours later. Public acclaim is a very fragile, volatile, fickle thing. Is that what you’re after? To have people say you’re the greatest? Give you 15 years, and folk won’t even know your name. No, you better specialize in pointing to Jesus.
In your conversation, find a way to talk about Him. When people give you praise, turn it to Him. When people give you criticism, tell Him about it. He must increase. Now, how do you accomplish that when you say, “He must increase?” What do you mean? How do you accomplish it? Number one, have Him on your mind, so you think about Him. Number two, realize that everything you’ve got comes from the Lord, give Him thanks and credit for it. Number three, depend upon His touch upon your life so that you do produce something worthy of eternity. And four, when it’s all over make sure that you thank Him and praise Him and give Him the glory. “Whoso offereth praise,” says the Bible, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me.” God says you can glorify Him when you praise Him, so be sure you give Him all the praise and honor and glory.
Dear Father, today, help us to give Thee all the glory. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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