In Trouble? Get Closer
The secret of spreading the gospel is to have the Lord Jesus doing something in your own life.
Alright, thank you very much. It’s my joy to be back with you and to open the Word of God and see whether we can put a handle on it for you, something you can get hold of and use all day long. Paul and Barnabas have been speaking in the synagogue in Antioch. Their first Sunday or Saturday Sabbath service was a great success, and a week later, the crowd was so great that the Bible says almost the whole city was gathered together to hear them. They got some opposition, they got some flack, as we would say it today, from people who were envious of this big crowd. And so they became bold under this kind of persecution and said, “Well, we’re gonna turn to the Gentiles.” And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the Word of the Lord, and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. This is a great mystery and I’m only gonna go to stop on it momentarily, because I could get into a mighty fine argument with some of you, and I don’t wish to do this. The Bible definitely says that God knows who’s going to be saved, and he’s made his plans on that basis. In other words, God reserves the right to make his plans on the basis of what you are going to do by your own free will.
And so we have to hold these two concepts in a kind of a dynamic tension. You my friend, are absolutely responsible for your choices. There is no question but that God holds you and me responsible for our choices, but there is also no question but that God reserves the right to make his plans from all eternity on the basis of what he knows you are going to do by your own free will.
And so it says, “As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.” Ordained, why? Because down from the very foundation of the world, God foresaw that when they heard this blessed message they would choose to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Now, this is both a sobering thought and a great comfort. It’s a sobering thought in that you know that God reserves the right to be God, whether or not you trust him. He’s still going to be God. He’s gonna make his plans on the basis of what he knows you’re going to do. But second, when you trust the Lord Jesus Christ, you have the solid comforting awareness that you are part of the eternal purpose of God, and he has made plans for you, because he knew that you would believe. Today, as you trust your Savior, settle back into to the solid relaxation of being in the will of God. If you want God’s will today, you may have it. If you want the strength to do God’s will, you may experience it. If you want the protection from evil that you need while doing God’s will, you may claim it. And if you want the thrill of seeing the results of doing God’s will, you may achieve those results by faith. Today, you could be part of the eternal plan of God.
Oh, rejoice in it, my dear friend. You don’t have to try to be in God’s will, just yield yourself to him and let him guide you in his will. Now, it says, “The Word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” How? Because these people when they opened their hearts to the Lord Jesus, couldn’t help talking about it. It said, they heard it, they were glad, they glorified the Word of the Lord and they believed, and the Word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. Now, this is the formula that you will find everywhere where the church is growing. What is it? People hear the message, they’re glad, they glorify the Lord, they believe on Christ and they talk about him as a result all over their area. You my friend, to have a public. That is to say, you have a group of people who listen to you now and again, who look at you, and who consider you to be a person of some worth. You have your public, you have your following, we might say.
Now then, when the Lord Jesus Christ becomes real to you, you will communicate that holy excitement to your following. You may not reach across half a world, but you can reach across half a block with the holy excitement and thrill of trusting the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, the reason that many people are not hearing about Christ is that so-called Christians are not excited about the Lord Jesus. They’re not glad, they’re not believing, they’re not publishing the Word of God. They’re not doing anything but sitting and singing themselves into sanctified bliss. Dear friend, do remember that when the Gospel is really working, this is the procedure. What is it once again? People hear the message, they’re glad, they glorify the Lord, they believe and the Word of the Lord is published throughout all their area. Ask yourself this question, how many of my friends and I myself, how many of us are really glad enough about Jesus that we’re publishing the news about him throughout the area? Interesting how people talk, isn’t it?
I live in a little town, of course, Briarcliff Manor. It’s just a village, actually. It’s a very fine little village and I’m proud to be a resident of this lovely little place. We have one of the finest Police Departments and Fire Departments in all the world, I think; wonderful, wonderful men. And it’s always a joy to interact with the town fathers and to work with them on things that involve the college and the village. But I’m amazed at how news of anything, of practically anything, spreads. I’ll give you an illustration. I was sitting in the barber chair one day getting my nine hairs trimmed. There’s fewer hairs every day and it takes longer to cut them. I don’t know why, but that’s how life is. While I was in the barber shop, one of the barbers asked me, he said, “How do you like your car?” I said, “I like it fine.” And I said, “I like it so well that I think I’ll get another one just like it as soon as the new model comes out because I have to have a fairly new car, because I drive so many miles every year in the business of the college, and on my speaking engagements.” And that’s really about all I said.
Do you know that within a few hours I had a couple of people in my office saying, “Say, we heard that you’re gonna sell your car and we wonder if… ” [chuckle] I said, “Well, how did you hear that?” I said, “I haven’t gotten my car up for sale.” “Oh well, we heard.” I said, “How did you hear?” “Well, we heard it from so and so… ” “Well, how did he hear?” “Well, he heard it from so and so.” “And how did he hear?” “He heard it from the barber.” [chuckle] Oh, how the news gets around. Isn’t that something? As a matter of fact, I’m still driving the same car and I think I will for a good while yet until I get just enough miles on it to make it the right time to change. But boy, the news gets around, doesn’t it? Oh, yeah. [chuckle]
Now, listen, has there been anybody that was thrilled enough with something going on in your life that they talked about it in your village or your city or the city block where you live or whatever? You see, the secret of spreading the Gospel is a holy excitement. Is anything happening in your life because of Jesus that you’re excited about? Huh? I’ll tell you, the way to kill most parties is just to start talking about the Lord. Somebody’s having a great time, and somebody’s told a joke and we’re all laughing uproariously, and all of a sudden I say, “Well, let’s talk about the Lord Jesus. He’s so wonderful.” And everybody looks at you as if to say, “Oh, boy, did you ever kill it.” Now that’s strange, isn’t it? Strange that we’re conditioned to put on a long face and look faintly ill when somebody mentions the Savior.
Or take a different illustration. Somebody’s just been brought to the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s so filled with joy that he can’t help talking about his Savior and he bursts into a conversation where somebody may be talking politics or whatever, and he says, “Oh, hey, it’s so wonderful. Look what I found in the Word this morning.” And he starts to share with you a verse, and people look at each other and shrug ever so slightly and the group breaks up. They’re all professing Christians, but they’re bored, and they’re not really thrilled with somebody who’s just excited about the Lord Jesus. Now, why is that?
Well, I’ll tell you, friend. The secret of spreading the Gospel is to have the Lord Jesus doing something in your own life. I find it much easier to talk of Christ to people if I’ve had a meeting with him in the early morning hours. Any day that I don’t get on my knees and seek my Lord, that day is a lost day. I don’t really function as I should. Oh, I do my best and I try to do my work. But oh, the thrill of being able to talk to people freely about the Lord Jesus, because you’ve met him, as you started your day, and you have talked with him and he’s talked with you by his word. Oh, that’s great.
Right now, I’m plowing through 2 Chronicles, verse by verse, for my own soul, and I write down some of the things that the Lord whispers to my heart and then I pray them back to him, and oh, what a thrill it is. Just yesterday, I think it was, I was looking at 2 Chronicles 3, where Solomon is starting to build the house of the Lord. This is a house for worship, and you know what the Lord whispered to my heart about that? Worship is compounded of two elements. They’re all there in that first verse of 2 Chronicles 3. Worship is compounded of two elements. First, the presence of the Lord. How do I get that? Solomon built the house in Jerusalem at the place where God appeared, appeared to David. Huh? The presence of the Lord. That’s the first factor in worship.
“Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David.” Alright? Second, “In the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” And that is a throw back to 2 Samuel 24:24, where David said to Araunah. “Nay, but I will buy it of thee at a price for God forbid, for I will not offer he said unto the Lord offerings, burnt offerings of that which cost me nothing.” There’s costs. Now, two elements in worship of our blessed Lord. One: The presence of God; Two: The cost of obedience. You don’t really worship until you do something that costs you something in the presence of God and in the sight of God. The presence of God and obedience that costs. This is worship that really counts. Now, that’s what I got the other morning, ’cause I was just waiting on the Lord, and I’ll tell you, I shared that with two, three people all day long, and it just blessed me every time I did it.
Excitement. Oh, they heard the message, they were glad, they glorified the Lord, they believed and the Word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. Listen, friend, you’re not all that busy that you can’t take seven minutes in the morning and get on your knees and say, “Jesus, do something in my life that’s worth talking about all day long.” He will. Now, it says the people who are envious and the opposition, it says, “They stirred up the devout and honorable women and the chief men of the city and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them out of that whole area.” They stirred up devout women and chief men. It is possible to take good people and mislead them. You be careful that you’re never a party to that. It’s a whole lot easier to start a riot than to quell one. It’s a lot easier to start opposition than to stop it. And these people knew how to agitate. They stirred up devout and honorable women and the chief men of the city and raised persecution.
Well, the only answer to it was to go to the next place, and that’s exactly what they did. We’ll take that up the next time we get together. Meanwhile, it’s time to quit for today and I need to pray with you, let’s bow in prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father, make us more bold when persecution comes. Give us more faith when testing comes and make us more holy when temptation comes. Help us to move ahead for God every time there’s opposition and help us to do it today, in Jesus’ name I ask, Amen. Amen, God bless you, dear friend, all the way. That’s all for now.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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