Pray The Change
People are never encouraged to seek God by your scolding them.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends, how in the world are you? You doing alright? Well, it’s my joy to be back with you once again. I cherish these moments that we can invest together around the Word of God.
And so it is that today we come to the beginning of the book of Romans Chapter 14, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye but not to doubtful disputations,” says Paul. Now, first of all, let’s recognize that there are people who are what Paul calls weak in the faith. That is to say, in your life as a Christian, you will find other people who are not either as far advanced as you or as well-taught as you are in the word of God. And what are you going to do with them? The tendency, generally speaking, the tendency for most folk is to criticize those who are weak in faith, or to ostracize them, or to lecture them, or just to do nothing and say, “Well, that’s too bad.” None of these is indicated as you can see plainly but from the Word of God. “Him that is weak in the faith,” that’s the fact, there are such people, “receive ye.”
I think that as I remember my Greek New Testament, it’s a Greek verb katalambano which means reach out and pull him to you, reach out and take him in, a beautiful expression, really. You find somebody that’s weak in the faith, reach out and take him in, but not… Here’s the second thing you’re supposed to remember, not to doubtful disputations. Don’t argue with him, love him. Don’t argue with him.
The founder of the YMCA a good many years ago had a saying that he used constantly. Don’t argue with the young man. Take him to dinner and win him to Christ. There’s a good deal of homely wisdom in that kind of advice, isn’t there? What do we mean when we say weak in the faith? Well, you’ll meet a lot of people who aren’t even sure whether or not they’re saved, weak in assurance. They hope that everything is all right with them, but they’re not sure. And what do you do with such a person? You take Him into your own life, and you teach him in the Word of God. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Strengthening one’s faith has to begin with strengthening one’s content, so to speak, of the Word of God.
Start in the Word and your faith will be strengthened. So, you meet someone who is not really sure where he or she stands in relationship to the matter of salvation. Am I really a Christian? Have I really been born from above? Am I sure that I’m a child of God? These questions trouble more people that you realize. It’s quite unfashionable in evangelical circles, even to admit that there’s any doubt in one’s heart. And so, most people keep still about it, but down in their hearts, there still is that nagging question, “Where do I really stand in all these matters?
Well, you find a person like that, don’t lecture him. Open up the Word of God with him or her and show from God’s Word, the basis for real assurance. Gilbert Howell was a friend of mine, a good many years ago. He had a ministry that was especially suited to service men and He originated a little tabernacle work just outside of the army base at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, some of you are familiar with that. Now, this little work progressed, not too fast, not too big a work, but God was using it. My good friend said that he sometimes would get permission to go into the base itself and go into the barracks, and visit with the GIs who were there. This was an embarkation point, from this point that people were shipped overseas during war War II.
So it was then that he was going through the barracks just visiting and he came upon a young man sitting upon his cot, looking quite dejected, head in hands bowed, hunched over, quite dejected. And Gilbert Howell said, as I recall his telling me, he said, “I sat down beside him and I said, ‘What? You wanna talk?’ No, he didn’t wanna talk. ‘Well, what seems to be the trouble?’ ‘You can’t help me.'” Well, they finally established some bit of rapport and the boy began to talk and poured out his heart. He said, “I’m scared. I’m scared.” He said, “I’m due to be shipped out tomorrow, and I’m scared and I don’t know where I stand with God and I’m afraid to die but I don’t know what to do.”
And then sensing that my friend was a minister, he said, “You’re a preacher. I know what you’re gonna tell me to do. You’re gonna tell me to pray.” He said, “Look at the knees in these fatigues, and look at that crucifix up there on the wall.” He said, “I have worn out the knees of my pants and I’ve worn out the paint on the crucifix.” He said, “I’ve been praying.” He said, “I’ve done the best I know how, and I’m still scared.”
Now, what are you gonna do with a boy like that? Well, Gilbert Howell was led to open up the gospel of John, and turned to John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” And he had the boy read that verse out loud from the Bible. And then he showed him that the one thing God wanted him to do was to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and as his Savior. And what God asked him to do was to trust Jesus to do what his name means, even to them that believe on His name, actually indicates that you and I are to trust Jesus to do what His name means. His name means savior, Matthew 1:21 says that. “Thou shalt call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins.” His name means savior, and so if you believe on His name, you’re gonna trust Him to do what His name means, that is, you’re gonna trust Him to save you from your sins and make you a child of God.
So, there were two things then that were explained to this young soldier. First, God is asking you to receive Christ as your Lord. And second, God is asking you to trust Christ to do what His name means, to save you. Then God does the rest. “To them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” And so, after they had spoken a while, the boy seemed to understand it, they knelt beside the cot there. And this young soldier said, “Jesus, I do receive you and I do trust you to do what your name means, to save me from my sins and from my fears.”
And after the prayer was over, they got up from their knees, sat once again on the cot, and Gilbert Howell now opened the Bible again to John 1:12 and he said, “Now read the verse again out loud.” And the boy read, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name,” John 1:12. And Gilbert said, “Are you in that verse anywhere?” The boy looked a little blank. He said, “Read it again.” And so, the boy read it again out loud, “As many has received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” And again came the question, “Are you in that verse anywhere?” And suddenly, it dawned upon the boy. He said, “Of course, I am.” Well, he said, “Why? What makes you think you are?” “Why,” he said, “I received Christ and I trusted him, and God has made me His child.”
His face lit up. He was overjoyed with the realization, that he now was indeed sure of where he stood with Almighty God because he had done what God said in His word. And Gilbert said as he was leaving the barracks, the boy followed him on out to the door and he said, “You can tell anybody you talk to that there’s one GI that was afraid but isn’t afraid anymore.” [chuckle] Well, hallelujah. It’s the Word of God that brings assurance. Find a way to refer wobbly, uncertain people to God’s word. The way to establish a person is not the lecture him, but to expose him to the world of God. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Find a way to get people in touch with God’s Word, and you will at the same time strengthen them in the faith.
Isn’t that a great truth? Mark it down, will you, my dear friend, in the notebook of your mind. Find a way to get people in touch with God’s Word and you will at the same time strengthen them in their faith. Him that is weak in the faith receive you. Other people that you meet may be weak, not in the matter of assurance. They know that they’ve trusted Christ, they know that they are born from above, but they’re weak in their own prayer and devotional life. And as a result, their spiritual condition is starved and emaciated and also weak.
Now, you meet this type of person all the time. What are you gonna do? Say, “Hey, you’re neglecting… You’re neglecting your devotions, you better get with it.” Oh no, don’t do that. No, don’t do that. People are never encouraged to seek God by your scolding them. What you do is, you get them into a time of prayer with you. I learned the value of all night prayer meetings that way. Russell McNamara, who ran at that time, ran the Chicago Gospel Mission. In Chicago, there on West Madison Street, he said to me one night after the Friday evening service was over, he said, “Cook,” he said, “We’re gonna have an all-night prayer meeting and pray the bootleggers out from upstairs. They’re such a nuisance to us and we’re gonna pray ’em out. You wanna stay?” Well, nobody was waiting up for me. Home sweet home, at that time, was a Sunday school room in Messiah Baptist Church, which I had to put all my personal belongings away every Sunday, so that it could be used as a Sunday school class and then for the rest of the week, it was mine to occupy while I went on to college and all of that.
So, nobody was waiting up for me, and I said, “Sure I’ll stay.” Well, my eyes were opened at that point to the value of specific and protracted praying, because you not only prayed once and made your best speech to God, but pretty soon, people had prayed around and it was your turn again. And now, what were you going to say? Well, before very long, you discovered the value of real praying. And my heart was warmed with the realization that God the Holy Spirit was indeed guiding our praying and we were together approaching the throne of grace, and that we would indeed God’s answers.
As a matter of fact, we did. The gangsters upstairs of that mission moved out suddenly within a few days and Russell McNamara rented that whole second floor as a haven for people who wanted to get a new start in life. Prayer, you find somebody who’s weak in his prayer and devotional life, get with him in a time of active effective praying. You’d be surprised what God will do in the other person’s life, as well as in yours, when you pray with people.
Dear Jesus, we love thee and we worship Thee. We thank Thee for Thy blessings. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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