Selfless Goals

There's always something you can do, Beloved, in setting a goal that is not self-centered.

Scripture: Mark 8:35-38, Romans 5:5, Galatians 5


Alright thank you very much, and hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing all right? Oh, I’m fine, thank you. I’m singing bass this morning, but then it’s very early in the morning. It’s pretty hard to be anything but a basso profundo early in the morning, if you’re like me, but I’m fine, thank you and happy to be back with you, bless your heart.

Look with me at Mark chapter 8 verses 35 and onward. I don’t know how far will get in this broadcast but we’ll start. Now the verses, 35,6,7,8 are of a kind of an explanation of what He says in verse 34, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me”. See? “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself”. Verse 35 explains that, “Whosoever wants to save his life”, keep everything for himself in other words, shall lose it. “Deny himself, take up his cross”, that means, that means values, you know. What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his own soul”, and then, “Follow Me. Whosoever therefore”, this is verse 38, “whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the son of man be ashamed when He cometh in the glory of His Father”.

See, the contrast is between this adulterous and sinful generation, and the glory of the Father. So, you have comparative goals, verse 35, comparative values verses 36, 37, and comparative loyalties, verse 38, and all that is an explanation, as I said, of Mark 8:34, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me”. You see how that works out? Alright, do you want to talk about it?

Let’s talk about comparative goals. “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it”. Every success book you’ll ever read, there’s lots of them of course in the bookstores, every book on self-help and success and how to be successful in this and that, will tell you that you come to your greatest effectiveness when you lose yourself in some cause greater than yourself. As a matter of fact, medical people tell us that many of the problems that are experienced by people who are burdened our depressed or ridden with various complexes, many of these problems find a solution when the individual loses himself or herself in a cause or a project that is greater than the individual.

John the Baptist, I think, is a shining example of this. He said, “I’m not the Christ. I’ve come to announce Him”, and he said, “The friend of the bridegroom is not the one that has the bride, it’s the bridegroom. I’m the friend of the bridegroom. I stand around and see what He does. This my joy”, said he, “this my joy is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” Now, that’s a hard truth because most of us, if not all of us, are chronically self-centered. If you want to prove that to yourself, let me ask you this question: Whose face do you look for first in any group photo? You know who you look for in any group. We are chronically self-centered, and so all of living for the average, garden-variety human being, is centered on, what is it going to do for me?

My favorite deacon, back in the days when I was Pastor in Philadelphia at Weston Memorial Baptist Church was John Houtkamp, and he had a number Pennsylvania Dutch sayings, which he retailed to me. One of which was: Ash comish, den comish, noch hine mal. Den comsih du longeny. First me, then me, after that you, but not for a long time. That’s human nature isn’t it? Somebody from Lancaster County wrote me and said, “We have a little addition to that. First me, then me, after that my dog, then you, but not for long time”. All right, whatever.

So the problem that you face here is, as a Christian, what is going to determine my goals in life? Am I going to try to see how much I can get for myself? How much influence? How much money? How much power? How much popularity? How much enjoyment? You know, and even how much love I can have coming toward me? We’ve all heard the illustration of the mother who says, you don’t come to see me, you don’t call me. After all I’ve done for you, why don’t you love me more? Well, the complaining person, you know that wants to get things, loses them. Isn’t it true? So, quite apart from any religious connotation here, you leave the spiritual part of it aside momentarily, it is a psychological fact that if you grab for yourself, you tend to lose out, ultimately. But if you specialize in giving and helping and sharing, you tend to be enhanced, enriched in your life scope enlarged. “Whosoever will save his life”, the more you grab, the less you have. Do you believe that? It’s one thing for me to say it to you and it’s another thing for it, for the truth really to penetrate into our lifestyle. Today, would you pray that God would help you to share your life with others? Share thoughtfulness, share even through the business of noticing people. Oh how people like to be noticed.

When I first came to the college, I found folk, many of whom were apathetic and listless and didn’t really care what was going on, because they were discouraged, bless their hearts, and I began a one-man campaign among students, as well as faculty and staff, a one-man campaign to notice people, and I would speak to them and call them by name and smile, and at first some of the student clowns may a little fun of that, you know they thought this was something that the new president was putting on, but after a while they began to receive it as being genuine and to enjoy the process. Oh how people like to have you notice something about them.

Joe Ankerberg was a faithful witness for our Lord through many years in the Chicago area. Many of you people, my Chicago friends and listeners remember Joe Ankerberg, used to call him “Halleluiah Joe” because unpredictably in the middle of a sermon he might shout out halleluiah. Halleluiah Joe Ankerberg. A great soul winner and a great brother and a great father. His boys have gone on to be preachers and serve the Lord. Anyhow, he had one of the largest classes, Sunday school classes in all of Chicago, and someone asked the secret of his success. Now, he certainly wasn’t a highly trained person. Pedagogically, he probably made some mistakes in his approach to teaching, but the boys loved him, they worshipped him, they were, they were so fond of him, and he had a large, large class of boys. Someone said, What’s the secret? And the answer came back from someone who knew him very well, said, “Joe will notice something about a boy even if it’s only one new shoelace”. Now, I can, I can identify with that because when I was a boy, we were poor and you didn’t use a whole pair of shoelaces, you just replaced the one that broke, and you save the other shoelace for when something else would break. Do any of you remember that? Well, Joe would notice something about a boy, even if it were only one new shoelace.

Notice people, share yourself with them. Share love. Now, you say, how can I love somebody when I don’t love him? Now, that’s a good question. You can’t kid yourself can you?But, read Romans 5:5, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who was given unto us”, and read Second Corinthians 5:14, “The love of Christ constrain us because we thus judge that if one died for all then were all dead, that he died for all that they which live should not live unto themselves”, that means for themselves alone, “but unto Him for Him who loved them and died for them”, and so it comes down to a matter of living for the Lord Jesus and trusting the indwelling Holy Spirit to show love through you. I pray every day before I start these messages that God’s love might be in my voice. I don’t of it is, but I hope so, because it’s in my heart. I pray that God’s compassion and God’s wisdom and understanding, as well as His truth and His holiness and His power and inspiration might be in what I say, and I trust the indwelling Holy Spirit to answer that prayer because there He is, He lives within you, believer, to manifest the very life and attributes of the Lord Jesus Christ, and “The fruit of the Spirit” as we read in Galatians 5, “is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance”. You see how that works? And, so how are you going to go about this matter of setting your goals in life? Number one, make the Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of your life. Number two, start depending upon the indwelling Holy Spirit to manifest the life of Christ through you. Number three, when you look at individuals see them as objects of Christ’s concern. How does the Lord Jesus feel about this person? And it may be a very unlovely and unpleasant and practically impossible person, but you know, if you think about it, that God loves that person, and so you come down to the phrase that’s often used by another television preacher, “God loves you and so do I”. Yes, you can express love. You can notice people, you can express love, and then and then in next place, you can help where there’s help needed. “Don’t just stand there”, is the old saying, “do something”. Well, there’s always something that you can do in any situation of need. Did you notice that? There’s always something you can do. It may not be very much, but there’s something.

I was driving many years ago now, shortly after we came to Westchester County, to the work at the college. Driving along one of the parkways which is patterned after a small river that flows along side of it, and I came on a scene where a group of sisters from the Catholic Church had been driving in this sedan, and had lost control of the vehicle. It had gone into the river and turned over, and they were busy then, climbing out of the windows on the side of the car, which was partially submerged, thoroughly wet, and shaking, it was a chilly day, and I came up just in time to see a young man take his coat off, and tenderly place it around the shoulders of one of these dear sisters, as she came out of the overturned vehicle. Now, he couldn’t right the vehicle, he couldn’t he couldn’t do anything more than that, but instinctively he did what he could. He took off his coat and put it around her shoulders. There’s always something you can do, beloved, in setting a goal that is not self-centered. Notice people, show love to them, do something for them. “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, whosoever shall lose his life that is invested for My sake, will save”. We’ll talk about that a little more when we get together again.

Dear Father today, I pray that the goals for our lives may be wrapped up in Thy will and the needs of others, 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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