On The Line

How long has it been since I risked anything in my life on the Will of God?

Scripture: Acts 15


Alright, thank you very much. And hello, friends, how are you? You doing alright? I trust so. I trust so. You know, it’s a wonderful thing to look up and turn things over to the Lord as you start the day. Why don’t you do that if you’ve never tried it before? The minute you wake up, say, “Lord, I’m yours. Guide me today. Take care of me today.” What a delicious experience it is just to rest in the Lord Jesus Christ as you start the day.

We’re studying, you and I, in the 15th chapter of the Book of Acts. Now, there’s been a regular evangelical rhubarb raised by some folks who said you have to conform to the ceremonial Jewish law, in order to be saved. And so, there was a good deal of discussion about it, and where we left off the last time, I think they had just been really discussing the matter. And I think I reminded you to let people have their say. Don’t cut them off. Discussion isn’t bad if it’s properly guided. And if a man has been heard, he is more apt to be willing to listen to you. I think I made many a mistake in days past, and still do probably, in not allowing people really to get things off their chest, as we say, and really to hear them out.

You’re not obligated to agree with everybody, but you do have an obligation to listen to them and hear them. Alright. Now, Peter rose up after a while, after, as I said, after there’s been much disputing and said, “Men and brethren, you know how a good while ago, God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel and believe in God, which knoweth the hearts bore them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost even as he did unto us. And he put no difference been between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why tempt ye God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved, even as they.”

And all the multitude kept silence and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had brought along the Gentiles by them. We’ll stop there for a minute. Every problem yields to more facts. Peter began to bring out what they knew to be the fact. He says, “Men and brethren, you know. You know that a good while ago, God did something.” Now, I’m gonna just pause here long enough to remark that it has always been of help to me in situations where I was confused or searching, it has always been of help to me to find out what it is that God has done and said, because, you see, that never changes. That never changes. If he did it, he did it. If he said it, it stands.

And so, oftentimes, I’ve found myself backing off from a situation, so to speak, and just looking at it objectively and say, “Now, what has the Lord said here? What has the Lord been doing here? What has God been giving as directives here? What does the Bible say about this in terms of God’s word and God’s will and God’s commands and God’s purposes?” Peter started at the right place, didn’t he? He said, “Look, let’s think about what God has done.” Would you try that in your own life today?

Now, it’s an unusual person who doesn’t have some problems. If you don’t have any problems, you’re either 35 cents short mentally, or else, you’re a very, very unusual person indeed. Most of us, that includes you and me, I guess, have some problems almost every day that we have to face and try to solve. Now, how do you go about it? Well, one of the best ways to approach any kind of a situation where you have a problem area is to do exactly what Simon Peter did, look back and see what God has done. Look back and see how God has guided. I’ll give you a case in point.

I don’t pastor churches any longer, but I’m very much a minister of the gospel. God called me to preach the Word of God, a good many years ago, and so I’ve been doing many times each week giving out the Word of God, either personally in public meetings, or by way of radio as I’m doing now. There came a time when I was offered a job which… Well, it had a very juicy salary to begin with. A good many thousands of dollars per year more than I was then earning. And it didn’t require me to move my home. I was then living in Wheaton. It wouldn’t require me to move my home. I could continue to live where I was living, and proceed with the buying of the little house that we called our own. And it would allow me also a good deal of freedom to preach as I wished here and there.

But the bulk of my time would be taken up with a little different activity. It wasn’t irreligious, but it wasn’t strictly Christian either. I could preach weekends and all of that, and I could maintain my local address, I wouldn’t have to move, and I would make a lot more money. And now you can see how, with growing youngsters in the home, and with rising costs and all of that, you can see how that would at least have some attractiveness, how you’d stop and think about it, and say “Well, should I or should I not?”

But you know what settled it for me? Well, really two things settled it. One was, in my own heart, I just couldn’t get a sense of peace about it, because every time I prayed about it, I just didn’t really feel easy about it. And you know the Bible says, “Let the peace of God be the referee in your heart. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you’re called.” That word rule means referee. Let God’s peace be the referee. So you know, when I prayed, I just couldn’t really feel easy about it.

And then, I had opportunity to talk with Dr. Culbertson, who as you know, is president of the Moody Bible Institute. And I have always, through the years, called him affectionately, the bishop, because he was a bishop of his denomination, the Reformed Episcopal Church in America. So I called him up one day and I said, “Bishop, this is Bob Cook. I wanna ask you something.” And I laid out for him what I’ve just told you. “I’ve got this job, I can still preach and so on, and so on.” And he said, “Well,” he said, “Brother,” he said, “I can’t tell you what to do, but,” he said, “It seems to me that that kind of activity would seem strange to the Bob Cook who has been busy giving out the Word of God all the time, all his life.” Well, that confirmed my suspicion that this wasn’t the thing for me.

And I turned the brother down. I said, “Well, thank you for your interest in me, but I don’t think I’m gonna take this.” Actually, he took a little offense at me and thought really that I had taken leave of my senses and really wasn’t appreciating all that he was trying to do, bless him. [chuckle] That’s how it is. But now, the thing was settled for me on the basis of what has God done? What has God said and done in your life? What has God done in the life of a man named Cook?

And when you look back and see what God has done, you get a profile of what he’s apt to do. When you look back and see what God has done, you get an idea of what is fitting and right in terms of his continuing purpose for you. Does that make sense? Well, try that for yourself. Simon Peter used that kind of logic as he began his talk here. We go back now to Acts 15. And Peter said, “You know that God has done something.” Now, he tied himself to this. I think probably the co-efficient of leadership is your willingness to tie yourself to what God is doing. Had you ever thought of it that way?

You know, many a person would be glad to lead in church or in his office, or shop or home or business or whatever, but he doesn’t quite achieve it, and he wonders why. Well, now, within the context of the local church, in any case, or a Bible institute, or a Bible college, or a Christian liberal arts college, such as our own, your leadership and your statements about the will and the work of God become of value when you are willing to tie your own life and destiny to them. Would you remember that? Take, for instance, in so simple matter as teaching a Sunday school lesson.

You have the material before you. You have studied the Word of God. You have your teacher’s manual, and all of the various lesson helps that are provided for you, and you’ve gone through this and you know the material very well and now you stand up before your class. And you say, “Now, class, the lesson for today is so, and so and so.” And you give out these truths that you have now learned. Let me warn you. All of your preparation and all of your presentation will fall short of effectiveness unless indeed you have tied your own life to the truths that you’re giving out. Leadership depends upon how willing you are to tie your life and destiny to what God is saying and doing. It’s that simple.

Now, would you ask yourself this question? How long has it been since I risked anything in my life on the will of God? How long has it been since I risked anything in my life on the will of God? Well, dear friend, if you answer that question honestly, it may be a little embarrassing for some of us, because you see, we haven’t risked anything on God’s will. But if indeed you have been tying your life and your destiny to God’s will as you know it, you also, I am confident, are enjoying a kind of God-given leadership, the joy of which is hard to describe. It’s the kind of thing that Peter calls joy unspeakable and full of glory. Why? Because your life is bound up with the presence and the blessing and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God, he said, made choice among us that the Gentiles by my mouth, should hear the word of the Gospel and believe. Now, God did it. God made the choice. God used my mouth, said Simon Peter, and we saw the results. God which knoweth the hearts bore them, the Gentiles, witness, giving them, the Gentiles, the Holy Ghost even as he did unto us Jews. And he put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith, and understood is, even as he’s purified our hearts by faith. Now, Peter’s logic is, God has done something and God has demonstrated his saving love and power. He did it through my own life, said Peter, but all of us have noticed that God has shown very clearly that he’s willing to save Gentiles, as well as Jews, and he purified their hearts by faith, just as he purified our hearts by faith. These then, said he, are the facts.

Now, every problem yields to facts, particularly if you will put yourself in touch with what God has been doing. Pretty good truth, isn’t it? Well, put it to work today. Now, let’s pray.

Dear Father, I pray that Thou will keep us in touch with Thy will and Thy work all day long. I ask in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Amen. God bless you, dear friend, all the way. That’s all for now.

Until I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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