One Step At A Time
This is what we mean by the commitment. It's the jump. It's a step of faith. That's what the theologians call it: The step of faith.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright? Well, I trust everything’s alright at your house. Many of you will be hearing this on a day that happens to be my birthday, June 7. Now, sometimes the program gets changed around, but that’s what it’ll be for many, I’m sure. And I’m glad I was born to grow up, to get to know the Lord Jesus, to be reared in a Christian home and trained in Christian schools, marry a born-again girl. It’s been 53 years now since we said, “I do.” Have a Christian family and have you, my precious friend, with whom I made fellowship by way of radio as we share the word of God. I’m grateful. [chuckle] Glad I was born. Oh, yes.
Well, we’re in 1 Thessalonians 2, and we’ve come to Verse 13. “For this cause,” Paul says, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because… ” Now, what’s he thankful for? “Because, when you receive the word of God which ye heard from us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” You heard the Word of God. Now, what’s the process here? How does God’s Word work? Well, it comes to you through a human instrument oftentimes, either in the printed page, somebody had to print it, or spoken. In either case, you receive it. That’s the first thing, when you received the Word of God. Now, how do your receive anything? You bring it into your mind as a concept. You think about it, you turn it over, you meditate on it, and oftentimes, you apply that concept to daily life. You receive it.
Now, he said, “You receive it as truly being God’s word.” Not just from people. You received it as being the Word of God. I think we need to dwell on this just for for a moment, if you please, my friend. Many people read the Bible. Some actually study it. But I find very few who have that awesome sense of God speaking to them from the Bible. This is God’s Word. How often in 18 years and in the pastorate full-time people would say to me as I dealt with them, “I know that’s what the Bible says, but… I know that’s what the Bible says, but I wanna do this or I wanna do that.” And what they’re actually saying is, “My opinion is more important than what is written in the Word of God, and what I want is more important than what God wants.” Oh, they wouldn’t say that, but that’s what they actually are putting out.
And so Paul says, concerning these people in Thessalonica, “When you heard the message, you took it as being from God.” Now let me suggest something to you. The next time you sit down with your Bible and you read it, first whisper a prayer and say, “Oh God, this is your Word. Speak to me from it. ‘Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law,’ the psalmist prayed. Oh God, this is your Word. Speak to me from it.” And then you read the Bible in terms of what is God saying to me? I can assure you, you will be… Well, you may be shaken up a little by what the Lord says to you. You will be blessed, you’ll be challenged, and I can guarantee you that over a period of time, your life, your very lifestyle, and your attitudes will be changed in a way to conform more fully with God’s plan and purpose for you. He said, “You received it, and you received it as being from God.” Next time you take up your Bible, you whisper a prayer and say, “Oh God, this is your Word. Talk to me now. Speak to me from your Word.”
I learned from Stephen Olford back in the 1940s the little formula that I later put into my book “Now That I Believe.” Many of you have seen that little book, put out by Moody Press. And it is this. Stay with any passage of Scripture, whether it’s a few verses or a chapter or whatever. Stay with any given passage of Scripture until it says something to you. Second, write it down. Third, pray it back to God until your heart gets warm and tender with the truth. And fourth, share it with somebody as soon as you can that very day. That procedure has stood me in good stead over many years and I’m grateful to our brother Olford for sharing with me that secret. I’ve used it, and I’ve preached it, I’ve passed it along in book and so on. And it does work. Stay with any passage ’til it says something to you, write that down, and pray it back to God until your heart gets tender with the truth, and then share it with somebody that very day.
Oh, oftentimes in days that were unspeakably busy, when I would have five, six, seven meetings or more. I think there was one day when I had 13 meetings. [chuckle] That’s enough for anyone, isn’t it? But in those busy, busy times, to have something that God said to me early morning hours that I could share was a lifesaver, because it came from His heart through mine to other people.
So you receive what you read in the Bible as being from God. Then he said you received it not as the word of men but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. “Effectually worketh.” It’s an interesting verb, energeo. Energeo is the verb in your Greek New Testament, which means… It’s a verb which means to work, and then it’s got the prefix “in”, “to work in”. But when it’s used with the dative, it means to work effectively, to show it. To work so effectively that it shows. You look it up in your Thayer’s Lexicon, you scholars, you’ll find that it’s right in there. To work so effectively that it shows. Now, that’s what he says here, “which worketh effectually in you.”
What is the proof of having been in the Word of God? That you can spout Scripture from memory? Well, that’s good. I am grateful for verses that I’ve memorized which I can quote from time to time. But that isn’t the proof that anything really happened. The devil can quote Scriptures. That doesn’t prove a thing. It says “effectually worketh”, which means it works in you so that it shows, makes a difference. The proof of having gotten anything good from the Bible is that it makes a difference in my life. It’s that simple and yet that profound. Can you point to any difference in your life, or your lifestyle, or your attitudes, or your feelings that has come about from feeding on the Word of God? Well now, don’t make a federal case of it. I don’t mean that all of us should sit around and take our spiritual temperature all the time. But if you want to know really, beloved, whether or not you’re really growing in the Lord, just ask yourself this question. How am I different from what I was a year ago through having studied, and read, and fed upon the Word of God?
Well, now, what makes the difference? He says, “Effectually worketh in you who believe.” That word “believe” is a familiar word, it occurs all the way through the New Testament, and it’s a word that means commit. You not only believe in terms of a mental assent. I believe it is going to rain. I believe two plus two equals four. That’s mental assent. That’s included, of course, but it’s more than that. It means commitment, to trust yourself into the control and in the hands of something or someone. That’s what it means. You who believe. The Greek verb pisteuo, which means to trust, to commit yourself. Now we have the secret of a difference being made in my life by the Word of God. I receive it, I receive the Bible, God’s Word as being truly God speaking to Bob Cook. And it begins to work in my life, but how does it work? It works in direct proportion to the amount of commitment that takes place by me in the light of God’s Word.
That’s a difficult matter. It’s so, so easy to draw back at points where I want my own way. Have you had that experience? So easy to draw back and say, “Well, yeah, Lord, I know.” But you draw back. It’s like jumping off the top of the garage roof when you were a boy. You girls didn’t do that, I know. [chuckle] But there used to be a shed out back of the apartment house where I lived with a family called the Hebeckers in Cleveland, Ohio when I was a boy. I was a motherless boy, so I had the privilege of living around in different homes. [chuckle] And in the back of that apartment house on Cedar Avenue in Cleveland, there was a shed there, and we would take turns jumping off the roof. And there was a moment when people said, “Come on, Cook! Come on, jump, jump, jump! Come on!” And then you said, “Alright, I will.” And you launched yourself out from that roof on down to the ground some 10 or 12 feet below, and once you had taken that launch, that step, you couldn’t go back and do it over. You couldn’t say, “Oh, wait just a minute.” No, you had made the decision. This is what we mean by the commitment. It’s the jump. It’s a step of faith. That’s what the theologians call it. The step of faith. Stepping out there and saying, “Alright, Lord, if you say so, I’ll do it.”
It’s not easy, and as I say, all of us human beings have the tendency to draw back or we have the tendency to get scared. Simon Peter, when he saw the Lord Jesus walking on the waves, said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come to thee on the water.” And the Lord Jesus said, “Alright, come on.” And Peter went out of the boat and walked on the water to go to Jesus, but when he saw the wind and the waves boisterous, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried, “Lord, save me.” And Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him and said, “Oh, thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” We get scared, and we draw back, and we start to sink in our own unbelief. It’s true, isn’t it? Well, what do you do about it? Number one, make up your mind that the Bible is God speaking to you. Number two, pray over what He says to you. When God says something to you, talk it over with Him until your own heart is tender and your will is pliable. I have found that if I’ll pray about something that bothers me and on which I’m unwilling to come to a decision, if I’ll pray about it and talk to God about it, He works in me to make my will pliable. And that of course is a fulfillment of Philippians 2:13, “It is God which worketh in you both to will,” that takes care of the want to, “and to do,” that takes care of the action, “of His good pleasure.”
So, receive it, think about it, pray about it, and then, as God enables you, take a step at a time. You don’t have to do the whole journey all at once. Just take a step at a time of obedience as God enables you, and He will see you through.
Dear Father, today, respond to your Word with real obedience as you enable us. 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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