Make sure that when you go into God's house, you're not looking for reasons to find flaws and to criticize.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, this is your friend Dr. Cook and I’m delighted for the privilege of being with you once again to share from God’s Word. I think the one thing I enjoy most in life is opening the Word of God and having it talk to me and then sharing it with someone else. God is gracious to us in that He speaks to us through His inherent Word, and we can have communion with our blessed heavenly Father in prayer and in the Word in an ongoing miracle of divine intervention in our own human lives. It’s great, isn’t it?
Now, you and I are looking at the gospel of Mark. Just by way of review — you remember the questions that the Pharisees were asking in, as recorded in Mark chapter 2. “Who can forgive sins but God only? How is it that He eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast but Thy disciples fast not, and why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful?” His answer was, “The Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath, He’s Lord of forgiveness”, nobody can forgive sins but God. He does it because He’s God in the flesh. He’s Lord of the transformed life. “He eateth and drinketh with sinners”. He is Lord of the new wine, not dependent on the old routines. And He’s Lord of the Sabbath — that is to say, He in Himself and in His cross in His redemption has fulfilled all of the old Mosaic pictures and types. And now, “We are complete”, Paul says, “in Him who is the fullness of Him that filleth all in all”. And so he says in Colossians 2, “Let no man judge you then in respect of the new moon, the meat or drink, or a holy day, the new moon or the Sabbath, which are a shadow of things to come, but the body of Christ, holding the head from which all the body by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered and it together increase with the increase of God. Why be subject ordinances — touch not, taste not, handle not –which all or to perish with the using? Ye are complete in Him who is the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. He is the head of all principality and power”.
So, the Lord Jesus Christ is Lord of all. “God hath given Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow and every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father”. And so we have no need today to go into a man-made temple — there to offer sacrifices, the shedding of blood, of sacrificial animals. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us and we can come boldly to the throne of grace — there to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hallelujah, what a Savior. He’s Lord.
Well, anyhow — we go on into chapter 3 of Mark. It says, “He entered again into the synagogue”. Our Lord Jesus was a church-going person. I think we ought to remind ourselves that the Bible says, “Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is and so much the more as you see the day approaching”. The closer we get to the end of this age, the more we need to get together with other Christians to pray and to fellowship and to serve. And so, “He came again into the synagogue”.
Now, there’s somebody there with a need. Small thought here. When you go to church, remind yourself that the purpose of being there is not only that you should be taught our blessed or inspired, but that you yourself should help to meet somebody else’s need — not only in church, but also in every other situation in life. Of course, people whom you meet will be hurting — and they will be in need in some way. And perhaps by the grace of God, you’ll be able to meet that need. Now, don’t make a federal case of it and say, “Brother I’m going to be a blessing to you!”. Well, people will run away from you — they’ll stay away by the thousands. Officious Christianity is deadly, but spontaneous love — the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Spontaneous Christian love is life-giving. And so when you go to church, look for somebody that has a need. It may be very simple matter — so simple as handing somebody a songbook that doesn’t have one. Or so simple a matter as showing someone to a seat where he or she is looking on, certainly not knowing where to be seated. And you could graciously welcome that person and usher him or her to a comfortable place in the auditorium. Or if someone comes in who has arthritis and can’t sit in the straight up pews that the old Puritan fathers designed to keep people awake — you can find an easy chair for that person to sit in.
You know, these are very small thoughtfulnesses, very small thoughtfulnesses. Thoughtful deeds which in themselves may be almost insignificant add up to a great deal of blessing. Look for some way to be of help, will you, when you go to church. And if course, if you’re a Sunday school teacher or a group leader or indeed if you’re the pastor — then your opportunity is magnified a thousand-fold because people are waiting to hear something from you that may help to ease their heart ache or help to encourage them or strengthen them or inspire them or guide them. And so you need to depend, you and I, on the blessed Holy Spirit of God who in dwells the believer — and who can speak through us in the miracle of the ministry where God talks through a human throat. Oh, look for people with a need and ask God to help you fill that need as you meet them day by day. I used to tell the students at the college, everybody you ever meet will be hurting somewhere. Find out where the hurt is and help to heal it and you will have been a great blessing.
Well, it says, “He entered into the synagogue” — we’re looking at Mark chapter 3 verse one now, aren’t we? “There was a man there which had a withered hand”. Whatever had happened, the nerve force had been cut off, through some either accident or a genetic defect, and the hand was withered — there was no strength there — just skin and bones, “and they watched Jesus — whether He would heal him on the Sabbath day in order that they might accuse Him”.
Small thought here. A lot depends upon your motivation when you’re evaluating other people’s spirituality. You know that? I sat behind a minister many years ago in one of Billy Graham’s Crusades. In fact, it was his first Pittsburgh crusade — and that’s a long time ago. I was still president of Youth for Christ, and I sat in the crowd behind this gentlemen, who it turns out, was a local pastor. And I noticed that he was busy taking notes and watching carefully everything that went on. And as the service now is drawing to a close, I heard him say to someone sitting by him, “Well”, he said, “I don’t understand why this man is so great. I’ve taken note of everything that’s been said and done and I can do a lot better myself”. Bless his heart. He missed the point, didn’t he? The anointing of God, the blessing of God, and the call of God upon individuals, makes all the difference. And you can watch people, critically, to see whether you can find some fault, and all that will result will be that your own soul will be embittered. And you will have missed all of the blessing that was there for you while God was working in other people’s hearts. While that man was taking notes and criticizing, hundreds — literally hundreds of people — were being swept into the Kingdom of God. But he missed all of that. The same thing is true, I recall, in some of the great campus movings that the Spirit of God has produced in the days past.
A good many years ago now, there was a wave of revival that swept across the college campuses of America. And I recall hearing some dear professor say, rather acidly, “Revival? What revival? All I saw was a lot of emotion”. There was a sort of the built-in sneer in the words. Well, that dear person had missed the working of the Spirit of God in people’s hearts. While that kind of academic evaluation was going on in one heart, others were being moved to make things right; and then write letters of apology; and return stolen articles; and yield their lives for missionary service. Oh, the moving of the Spirit of God in those days. But one person that was coldly evaluating says, “All I saw was a lot of emotion”. Well, dear friend, of what I’m telling you is — it is dreadfully possible to be in church and be looking at things and evaluating things with entirely the wrong motivation. Make sure that when you go into God’s house, you’re not looking for reasons to pick flaws and to criticize, but your heart is open and you are willing for God to minister to you and through you to others in His blessed, wonderful, loving way through the Holy Spirit of God. Good idea?
It said, “They watched Him whether He would heal this man, in order that they might accuse Him”. They didn’t care about the man — they wanted some ammunition for their accusations. So Jesus, unto the man who had the withered hand said, “Stand up, stand forth here, come forward”. And then Jesus said, our Lord said to the people around Him, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days or to do evil? To save life or to kill?”. But they didn’t say anything. There isn’t any answer to a question like that, obviously. There are rules — it said you may not give medical attention on the Sabbath day except in matters of life and death. And the Lord Jesus posed this larger question, “Is it right to do good or do evil, is it right to save life or to destroy it?”. See the options and we’ll close with this now will get at it again the next time we get together. The options that God gives are always built on the dimensions of eternity. Be sure that the rules on which you operate your life and on which you build your destiny, are God’s dimensions. Jesus amplified the rule, and in so doing, linked what He was doing to the eternal purposes of God. Something to chew on there — for you to think about.
Dear Father today, help us to get our eyes on the eternal dimensions, not on people’s flaws. 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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