It Always Matters
Don't get routine about eternity or God, but always be real with Him. Everything you do matters, no matter how small it is.
And hello, radio friends. How in the world are you? [chuckle] Yes, that little greeting establishes the fact that this is your friend, Bob Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you.
We’re looking at Mark, Chapter 14. A very sad passage now, one that breaks your heart if you stop to think about what it meant to our blessed Lord to have His people in the hour of His extreme agony, when He was trying so hard, humanly speaking, to pray His way through the pre-trial and pre-crucifixion agony that He had.
The agony of a perfectly sinless being, now about to be subjected to the weight of all of the sin and woe of a fallen world. What it meant to Him to have His companions, who had traveled with Him for three years, to go a sound asleep three times when He asked them to watch and pray with Him. And then to have Judas come and use the sign of loving greeting as a sign of betrayal. It was pitch dark and it would be easy to mistake a person in the darkness, but Judas knew his master.
And he said, “I’ll give him the customary kiss of greeting and you’ll know that he’s the one that you should arrest.” Small thought here, while it occurs to me. The essence of betrayal is to use religiously familiar routines without heart. The essence of betrayal of your Lord is to use religious routines and rituals and forms with which you are familiar, to use them without heart. This happens every day across the world, as you know. Jesus, our Lord, quoted the old testament passage, “This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
And He said to us, as recorded in Matthew 7, “Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father, which is in Heaven. Many shall say unto Me in that day… “, that’s Judgment Day. “Many shall say onto me on Judgement Day, ‘Lord, Lord have we have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name cast out demons and in thy name done many wonderful works?’ Then will I profess onto them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity”
It is possible to be religiously active and spiritually corrupt. What a tremendous lesson that is for every one of us starting with yours truly. I pray everyday that God may keep my heart warm and tender toward Him. I don’t want to get routine about the things of eternity and neither indeed do you, my dear friend. Oh, the saddest thing in the world is the Judas Iscariot syndrome. And many people, without knowing it, are placing themselves precisely in his class because they are using familiar religious routines to identify themselves and others, but they’re doing it without heart. It’s an empty form only used as a means of identification.
It’s quite a thought, isn’t it? Make sure, beloved, that what you do religiously is real. If you go to pray, really pray. And if you’re going to worship, really worship. If you’re going to witness for Christ, make it a Spirit-filled witness. Whatever you do, let it be real with God and with people. [chuckle] I remember just now as I’m talking with you a childhood memory. For a number of years my father and I went to a church in Cleveland, Ohio. It was presided over by a man who was… Well, he was a singular person, I think the Lord broke the mold when he made this dear pastor.
He had a tremendous speaking voice and a personality to match it. Everything he did was done with dispatch and definiteness and enthusiasm and force. And so he really never could put up with anything religiously feeble or half-hearted. I remember this was a church where they had a mourners’ bench; the old-fashioned prayer bench at the front of the auditorium. And I remember those times when people would be gathered around the mourners’ bench, the prayer bench, praying and the pastor would be walking from one to another listening in on the prayer. And when he found someone who was feebly, half-heartedly praying and really not getting anywhere, he would just as like as not clap that person on the back with a hearty thwack and say, “Amen, brother. Pray.” [chuckle]
And I tell you, you either had to pray or shut up. [chuckle] I learned as a boy that if you’re going to pray you need to get down to business with God immediately. Don’t make a fancy speech to God, that bores Him. He says so in Isaiah, Chapter 1. “Your long speeches and all of that,” He said, “I’m weary of them.” They bore Him, they weary God. Get down to business immediately and talk with Him with a seriousness that befits the importance of the occasion. You’re talking to the ruler of the universe.
Alright. Now, the essence, I said, of betrayal is to use religious forms as a means of identification without heart. Now, we had been talking the last time we get together about our Savior’s remark, “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” What were the temptations that the disciples faced? The first was simply to fall asleep on the job. To take it easy in a time when you should be using all of your efforts in obeying God’s will, that’s a temptation. And sometimes you do get so tired and so weary that the best thing you think you can do is just to take it easy. Well, in this case, it was the wrong thing to do. He came and found them asleep, and He said, especially to Peter, “Hey, Peter, are you asleep, too? You’re the one who said you’d even be willing to die for me.” And He said, “Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” And He went away again and prayed and spoke the same words, when He returned, He found them asleep again. And then the same thing happened, He came the third time, here they were still sleeping. He said, “Alright now, go ahead, sleep if that’s what you want. But now the person who is about to betray me is here, so you better get going.”
Well, the temptation just to take it easy. Don’t fall prey to that temptation. You, my friend, and I, are dealing with eternal matters. When you pray, you’re touching the power that rules the world. When you contact another human being, you have the possibility of sharing God with that human being in a way that will change the other person’s life. In other words, you are an agent of eternal destiny, as you walk through this world. And there never is a time when you’re not on the job, not on stage, so to speak. You’re always on. There never is a time when you can say, “It doesn’t matter now.” Because it always matters.
Dick Hillis tells the story of traveling with an interpreter concerning whom he had some doubts as to the man’s salvation. But being determined to reach a certain tribe, and knowing that this man was the only one who understood their language and could interpret for him, he hired him as his interpreter for this trip. The trip proceeded, and they went through a number of experiences. And one day this interpreter, concerning whom Dick Hillis said he had had his doubts about the man’s salvation, the interpreter came to him and said, “I am a Christian. I am now a Christian. Your Father is my Father. Your God is my God. I have trusted Christ as Savior.”
Well, Hillis said to him, “Now that’s wonderful. When did that happen?” “Oh,” the man said, “Do you remember that night, we came into such and such a village in the mountains, and there was no place to sleep?” “Yes,” he said, “I remember.” “And do you remember we went from one farmhouse to the other and asked whether we could sleep, and no one would take us in?” “Yes,” he said, “I remember.” “And he said, “Do you remember that finally there was a farmer who said we could sleep in his barn? And so we laid down in the barn and there was just one blanket, it was yours?” “Yes,” he laughed, he said, “Yes, I remember.” And he said, “Do you remember,” the interpreter continued, “Do you remember that in the morning it was cold and I had the blanket, and you were cold, without the blanket?” “Oh,” he laughed, he said, “Yes.” And the interpreter said, “And you weren’t even angry. You didn’t even get angry.” He said, “That was the day I decided that Christ was real, and I became a Christian.”
So simple matters as the sharing of a blanket with your buddy on a trip. So simple a matter as keeping your temper in control when irritating things happen that might cause you otherwise to blow your top. So elemental a matter as watching your words with people with whom you may be quite familiar, like members of family and close friends. You’re always on, beloved, there never is a time when you are not on the job. You are an agent of eternal destiny as you walk through this life. That’s an awesome concept, isn’t it? So, let’s resist the temptation just to let down and say, “It doesn’t matter now.” It always matters. Always.
There’s the temptation… This is review, but I thought we’d just touch base for somebody who may just have tuned in. There’s a temptation to take drastic, self-willed action. This was Simon Peter drawing his sword. Give him credit for wanting to follow through on his promise. Give him credit for being brave enough in a day when it was an offense, a crime, to possess a weapon. If you were an Israeli, you didn’t have the right to bear arms. Only the Romans, your conquerors, had that right. And so this was a contraband item. This was a forbidden item that he had, this sword. And so, give him credit for being courageous, and for wanting to follow through on his promise to stick with the Savior. But the action was poorly timed and done in the wrong place, in the wrong way. He drew his sword, made a swipe at the nearest person and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. My father used to tell my that story and say with a chuckle, “If that man hadn’t been a good dodger, he would have lost his head instead of his ear.” [chuckle]
Luke, the beloved physician, tells us that the Lord Jesus picked up the ear and put it back on, healed it with His divine touch. The temptation to drastic, self-willed action is there and you’re always wrong when you lash out in self-will. You can put it down, whenever you lash out in self-will, you’re always wrong. There’s a right way to do God’s will and it does not include the drastic, violent, thrashing about that comes from trying to do it on your own. Much better, ask God to lead and guide you and then to obey Him. Right? Then of course, there’s the temptation to run away. It says, “They all forsook Him and fled.” “I’m gonna get outta here. I’m gonna save my own skin.” We’ll talk about that the next time we get together.
Dear Father, today, keep us from failing Thee, either through our own laziness or self-will. 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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