Made A Blessing
God has taken every one of the experiences I had before I was saved and sanctified them, made them useful, and made them, somehow, to be a blessing.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? That little greeting establishes the fact, that this is indeed your good friend, Bob Cook. And we’re back together again, looking at the Word of God, the Gospel Of John, Chapter 17. How rich, and how wonderful, and how challenging, how convicting, and how comforting all of this is. I just rejoice in the privilege of being with you for a few moments, sharing from the Word of God. That’s the best thing I do, I think. I enjoy that so very much. And thank you for being there, if you weren’t there, wouldn’t be anybody there.
We’re looking at John 17. Jesus said, “I pray for them.” What’s He praying? Well, He says, “I’m glorified in them. I want to shine through them.” Verse 11, He says, “I pray that You’ll keep through Thine own name, those Whom Thou hast given Me.” “I pray that You’ll keep through Thine own name, those Whom Thou hast given Me.”
Now, for what? “That they may be one, as We are.” You want to think about that for a moment? His word ‘keep’ has the sense of guarding from invasion. He said, “I want you to guard them. And the way they’re gonna be guarded, is by having Your name on them.”
Now, a simple, little, homely illustration: You go shopping for furniture. You and your wife are looking through this great area of furniture, and you’re looking for a special kind of chair. Suddenly, your eyes light up and you say to her, “There it is.” You go over, you look at it, and then you turn away. Now, why? Because it had a little red tag on it with the letters S-O-L-D, “sold” upon it. That chair belongs to somebody else, so you don’t do anything about it. “Keep through Thine own name.”
When you are identified with God, there are certain things that simply do not come your way. Young people (and I know I do have a number of children, and teenagers, and folk in their 20s that are listening, ’cause I get your letters. ) Young people, listen to me for a moment very carefully. I know that temptations come your way, and they come earlier, and harder, it seems to me, than they used to. But if you are identifiably His, if you’ve got that ticket, so to speak, on you, that says, “This human being belongs to Jesus,” you are gonna save yourself a lot of pressures and temptations that would otherwise come to you.
Will you put that down in the notebook of your mind? It is an advantage, not a handicap. It is an advantage, not a handicap to be identified as belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ. “Keep through Thine own name.” You belong to Him, and when that fact is known, there are a great many things that are not gonna come your way at all.
Now, that doesn’t mean you won’t be tested, and tempted, and tried. We all are. And that doesn’t mean that out from your own heart, may not come the solicitation to evil-it may surprise you. “Every man is tempted when he’s drawn away by his own desires and enticed,” says James. “And when desire has conceived, it brings forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.” And the dreadful litany of desire, and sin, and disobedience, and death occurs oftentimes.
No, you’re a human being and you’re subject to temptation, but there are a great many tests that you will successfully avoid, if it is known that you already belong to Jesus. You follow that? Do remember it. Never flinch, never quail, never shrink from having it known that you are, indeed, a Christian and that you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll get up on a soap box and be shouting at people all the time. God made you a happy, normal human being. Stay that way. But let it be known that you belong. That this human being belongs to Jesus. “Keep through Thine own name.”
And now, what’s the purpose of being kept? Instinctively, I think, well, being kept from failing God, being kept from being besmirched by sin and evil, being kept from the attacks of Satan. That’s all true. Later on, in this very chapter, the Savior is praying that we might be kept and preserved from the evil one. That’s in Verse 15. So that’s a very important facet of the Truth. But in this verse, “Keep through Thine own name,” what does He really want? He says, “That they may be one, as We are.” He said, “I want Christians to be as close to each other in fellowship, as We, Father, You and I, are.”
Can you begin to fathom the fellowship there is in the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three persons, one God? That goes beyond the ability of our little human brain, doesn’t it? But Jesus said, “That’s the kind of relationship that I want for these folk who believe on me. I want them to be kept, because they’re identifiably yours, and because of that, I want them to have that beautiful, deep, lasting, heavenly relationship.” There’s something about human flesh that tends to spoil closeness. Have you noticed that? You get stuck in an elevator with 12 or 15 people, and after six hours, you’re heartily glad to be rid of them.
That’s not because they’re such disagreeable people. Oh, somebody may have become hysterical, and somebody else may have been boring, and somebody else may have been philosophical, tried to moralize on the situation. All different kinds of human beings. But there is something about sinful human nature that tends to spoil closeness. And so it is, that when we become believers, and we’re thrown together with other Christians, we have a tendency, naturally, to say and do things that may mar the sweetness of that fellowship.
How do you get around that? I’m being very realistic now. As you know, I’ve lived a while and I know these things. How do you get around the tendency of human nature to spoil things? Number one, you pray your way through the day. My mistakes have always been made when I rushed into situations without really praying. Number two, you depend on the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide you every step of the way. Number three, even in your weakness, you depend on God to sanctify your relationship with others. And when I say weakness, I’m covering the whole gamut of human experience. You have a short temper, you tend to be impatient, you tend to be melancholy and have the blues, you tend to trim the truth when under pressure, you tend to be proud when given a chance, you tend to be greedy, you have an innate love of money, or whatever, all of the shortcomings of human nature. Huh?
Oh, what are you gonna do? This word ‘sanctify’ means set apart for God to use, and God, in His grace, will take a situation that you and I might spoil, and He’ll sanctify it by His grace, until even the memory of it, is going to be something that you say, “Jesus, thank you for being my Savior. Thank you for loving me and thank you for seeing me through.” Do you follow that, beloved?
I was talking to Bill Carroll one day, a great bass singer, led to the Lord Jesus Christ back in the 1950s, by my good friend, Roy McCuen, out in Los Angeles. Bill was then under contract for some kind of opera, city opera, I think, in New York, and had been singing in night clubs, and all sorts of places, doing very well. He had a voice that would rattle the wind, as a tremendous bass voice and a spirit to match it.
Well, Roy led him to the Lord, and immediately, there came then that question, “Am I going to stay in show business or am I going to go into Christian work?” And Bill Carroll chose to drop the show business possibilities, and to go into Christian work, and singing. He had in his hands, at that time, a contract that was a juicy one, and he was about to sign it, but just at that time, when he found the Lord Jesus Christ, he felt he couldn’t go back into the show business world, and he returned the contract unsigned, to the dismay, I might add, of some of his loved ones, who later found Christ, and understood why he did it. But at the time, they were upset.
Well, I traveled with Bill Carroll and got to know him real well. And I said to him, one time, after meeting, I said, “You seemed a little wistful tonight, as you spoke about the fact, that through the years, you were intensely religious, so much so that the people in the city opera called you Mr. God. You were intensely religious and always seeking, but you never really found Christ, until Roy McCuen prayed with you for salvation.” He said, “That’s right.” He said, “I’ve often wished that it might be different, but you know,” he said thoughtfully, “God has taken every one of the experiences I had before I was saved, and has sanctified them, and made them useful, and made them, somehow, to be a blessing.”
It’s a remarkable thing, isn’t it? The prophet says, “I will restore unto you the years that the locust hath eaten.” And Paul says, “Now, the very God of Peace sanctify you wholly, W-H-O-L-L-Y, entirely. And I pray God, that your entire spirit, soul, and body may be preserved, blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God has a way of taking the whole package of life, and making it His, warts, and all. Hallelujah. Do you want to believe that today, beloved?
You don’t have to agonize over things in the past. You don’t have to drag them along with you, like gray ghosts in the night. You can commit it all in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. He loves you. He died for you. He paid the debt, every bit of it. He lives today to intercede for you. He names your name before the Holy Father and the indwelling Holy Spirit has the job of reduplicating the characteristics of your Savior in your life. Let Him do it. Living by faith means trusting Jesus for it all. Wrap up the whole package of life today, beloved, and turn it over to Him. It is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
Father, God, today, oh, thank You for loving us, and thank You for saving us, and thank You for putting up with us. We, by faith, we turn all of life over to Thee. 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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