Take Courage

Take all of that to your heart and take courage as you begin again to live for your Lord. Let your light shine, let the Spirit of God pour love out of your heart and see what God will do – even in painful situations.

Scripture: John 19:38-42, 3 John 9


Alright. Thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? [chuckle] Are you’re doing alright? I trust so. Bless your heart. Nice to be back with you.

Come with me now to the wind up of our discussion about how to live openly for Christ. This grew out of our consideration of John 19:38-42. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, secret believers. A small thought here. Even though you may not have come out openly as you really think you should and as ultimately you will, believe me. Even though you may not have come out strongly and openly as perhaps you wish you could, there is always something you can do to honor your Lord. Look for the things you can do to honor your Lord, even though your own official position may be somewhat foggy. You follow me?

The reason I said that is that Joseph of Arimathea was a disciple, but secretly. Nicodemus was also keeping his faith under wraps. But they came and they did what they could at that point. They asked permission to remove the body of our Lord Jesus from the cross, tenderly took it down, and buried his body in Joseph’s new tomb in the garden. So that’s just a little thought for somebody here today. Your official position regarding the Lord Jesus may be a little foggy. You may not have come out as clearly for Him as you wish you could or and as ultimately I’m sure you will, but there’s always something you can do to honor your Lord if you really love Him. Okay? Somebody needs that, I’m sure.

Well, there was one other, or maybe two, other things I wanted to say about this matter about how to live openly for Christ. It’s the initial commitment. Let your lights shine with the good works. A clean life that gives no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed. See, if you fail and if I fail, they blame our Lord Jesus. They get a bad idea of Who and what Christ is if we fail. So he said, “Giving no offense in anything, that the ministry,” that’s your ability to share God with people, “be not blamed.”

And then love is a conquering factor. That’s what we talked about the last time we got together. A small word of warning at this point- avoid showing off or being pushy in your attempt to establish your Christian turf. You want people to know that you’re a Christian? Well, don’t make a federal case of it.

Percy Crawford, I believe, the fellows told me when they were traveling with him, and he would give them an idea of doing something, he would say in his somewhat nasal tone, “Don’t make a project of it, fellows.” He believed in doing things simply and quickly and expeditiously, as indeed I do too. Don’t make a federal case of your testimony. Just be yourself shining for the Lord.

I looked up again in thinking about this broadcast. The verse in 3 John verse 9, where John the Apostle talks about Diotrephes “who loveth to have the preeminence” among them. You don’t have to be chairman of the committee. And you don’t have to lead the parade. You don’t have to make the speech. You don’t have to be anything, but faithful. Has that occurred to you?

Ellie Maxwell said years ago in a meeting, which I attended, he said, “Fellows, remember, we don’t have anything to promote but Jesus.” And you keep that clearly in mind, and it will eliminate a great deal of the cross currents of tension that we oftentimes find hindering us in our Christian walk. Don’t make a federal case of it. Don’t be concerned with how and what you’re going to say and how you will appear and how people will receive or react to you. Let the Lord handle that. He’s big enough. You just be yourself, full of the Spirit of God, full of the love of God, clean through the blood of Jesus. That’ll do it.

Then the sixth thing I had to remind you about was, now, this is for people who are trying to live openly for the Lord Jesus in the face of persecution and opposition. Well, prayer. Prayer. Paul said, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” Prayer.

George Muller, I guess it was, who prayed for 40 years and more for several individuals concerning whom he was burdened, burdened that they might become Christians- before he died, two of them came to Christ, and one just after he died. God answers prayer. I told listeners, I suppose a year or two ago, a story that always lingers in my mind in this connection, and that has to do with Paul Rader’s father. The Rader family, there was Paul and Luke and Lyle, and I don’t know who else, but the three of them I knew about. And not one of them was a Christian.

When the old man, the father, fell ill in his last illness… now people are unspeakably cruel, as you know, and thoughtless. And so some neighbor came in, a Christian neighbor came in and said to the old man, he said, “Father Rader, doesn’t it bother you that you’re dying ad none of your children are saved?” He looked up sweetly and he said, “No,” he said, “I’m trusting in God’s Word, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house. I’m trusting in His promise,” said he.

And so he died triumphantly trusting the promises of God. No one of those children was yet a Christian. But within a year or so, all of his family had been saved. And Paul Rader became a world renowned evangelist and radio broadcaster as well. Luke and Lyle both found their place in a very fruitful and productive work in ministry. No question about it that God answers prayer.

So if I’m talking today with someone who is up against a very thorny situation. And it seems as though the harder you try to live for the Lord, the worse things get, and the more people pick on you. You’re a saved wife and your husband sees all of the things to pick on, or you’re a saved husband and your wife constantly complains about you, or whatever it may be. Now, listen, commit all of that to God in prayer. Day by day and moment by moment and situation by situation. The Bible says, “Cast thy burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain thee.” When I came struggling up 18th street from Bernbaums Grocery, as a lad of, I suppose, six, five or six, my arms full of groceries that I’d been sent to the store to get. And just about barely making it, my father would see me coming and with his great outdoorsman stride, brought up on the farm,( he never lost that mile eating stride of his) he’d come down the street and pick up me and the groceries and carry us on in to the place where we lived.

“He shall sustain thee, cast thy burden on the Lord.” It doesn’t say He’ll pick up the burden. It says He’ll sustain you. God carries you and the burden. Yes, He does. And so if you’re facing something that’s just impossible today, and many of you are, I know that. And it’s not easy. No amount of preacher talk is going to make it easier or make it go away. I know that.

But I also know that you and I can take these painful and burdensome and sometimes frightening experiences, and we can turn them by faith over to the Lord and let Him handle them and us in the process. You wanna do that today? I hope you will. I hope you will. Prayer relieves you of the burden because God is carrying you and the burden. Prayer actually gets the forces of Deity at work in the life of the person for whom you’re praying. Prayer gets the forces of Deity at work in the life of the one for whom you’re praying. You want God to work? Alright, let Him. Start praying specifically about someone.

Many years ago, the Youth For Christ clubs used to have what they call the Bell Prayer Meeting. That is to say they would covenant together, that they would pray for a given individual every time the school bell rang. They would pray briefly for that person. So every time the bell rang for change of classes, there would be 50 to 100 people praying by name for some individual that they wanted to see brought to Christ. Well, one of the days, they had a Youth For Christ club meeting, they held them in a bus in those days in Kansas City, and laughingly they named the bus for a presidential candidate that they were not sure whether or not he would run. They said, “We called it that ’cause we’re never sure it’ll run or not.” [chuckle]

Well, anyhow, there they were in this big old school bus having their meeting, and in burst this little red haired guy, and he said, “Say! Either you people have to stop praying for me or you have to show me how to get saved.” Well, they showed him alright. Prayer puts God’s pressure on human lives. Use prayer to lift the burden. Use prayer to leverage the challenge. Alright?

Well, these are some of the things that I just wanted to share with you because I know many of you, dear ones, are up against the situation that, well, it’s rough, and it’s risky, and it hurts. And you’re oftentimes rebuffed. And a lot of cruel things are said and done just because you’re a Christian. I know. And God knows. And He understands in terms of feeling how you feel. We have a High Priest, we read in the book of Hebrews, Who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows how you feel. And He cares. Casting all your care upon Him for He careth for you. And He never leaves you. He said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” And He goes with you through the darkness. “Yea though I walk through the valley, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me.” Take all of that to your heart and take courage as you begin again to live for your Lord. Let your light shine, let the Spirit of God pour love out of your heart and see what God will do even in painful situations. Good idea?

Well, now we’ve come to the end of John 19. Our Lord Jesus has been, His body has been, laid tenderly in Joseph’s new tomb there in the garden. And a night of unutterable pall and gloom and sorrow must have swept over all those hearts. Judas had already committed suicide. Peter was out somewhere crying his heart out because he realized he had denied his best friend. The other disciples were in hiding because they didn’t want to suffer the same fate as their Master had. They didn’t wanna be caught and identified under charges of actually what amounted to treason. And so they were discouraged. The world had fallen in on them. The one whom they’d followed for three years was gone. And what was left? A gloomy, nameless fear of tomorrow and blasted hopes.

But, you see, [chuckle] Sunday is coming, as the Philadelphia preacher says in his famous sermon, “Sunday is coming.” The first day of the week. The first day of the week, Mary Magdalene finds the grave empty. And I wanna tell somebody who is right now in the gloom of Friday night, God isn’t dead. Jesus is alive. Sunday is coming. And the sun will shine for you.

Precious Father, we love Thee. We want to serve Thee. Keep us on the job. Keep us shining. 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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