The Secret To Greatness
Tie your decisions to God's Will and insist on doing things right. Pleasing God — that will build greatness into your life.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? [chuckle] Are you doing alright? Oh, I trust so. It’s your good friend, Bob Cook. I’m back with you for another few moments of sharing from the Word of God.
Last time we got together, we were talking about the value of knowing when to run away. Don’t stop and have a discussion or a prayer meeting, there are some times when you need to learn to run. Learn that lesson. But in your running, and we wound up with this thought, I think, the last time we were together, in your running, run to God. “I flee unto Thee to hide me. God is my refuge. He’s my hiding place,” said the psalmist.
Now just one other thought here before we leave that whole area and that is, Paul says, “Flee these things, but follow, follow after righteous.” So you got three verbs there, remember, flee, follow, and fight. Flee these things, follow righteousness etcetera, fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life. Man, it makes good preaching fellows and girls, those of you who do some preaching. You wanna get hold of that for yourself. What to run away from, what to pursue, and the kind of fighting that you’re supposed to do. Flee, follow, and fight. That word “follow” is our word “pursue.” It’s the kind of a word that you have where you’re pursuing an enemy in warfare, or like, to take a ridiculous down on the farm example, like a hound dog pursues a rabbit. Run, run, until you catch. That’s the verb there, pursue.
And so he says you need to be just as earnest in the pursuits of your life as you are in your desire to avoid failing God by falling under temptation. So he says you learn when to run away, but he says learn what to pursue. You follow that?
And so he gives us a list of things and nearly duplicates the list in II Timothy, adding one word: He says pursue righteousness. Now righteousness is something that is imputed, reckoned to you by faith the moment you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. “Even the righteousness of God which is unto and upon all them that believe, the righteousness which is by faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.” See, that’s a reckoned righteousness, an imputed righteousness. That’s righteousness that’s put to your account because Jesus bought it for you with His precious blood.
But there is an actual experiential righteousness as well, you know that. I think that’s what he’s talking about here. Righteousness, pursue the concept of right- justness, which is the element of goodness in action. When a thing is right, it’s the element of goodness in action. He says, you pursue that. How often during years passed in my experiences, passed over church and heading up Youth for Christ, working with the dear friends at Scripture Press there for five years, and then nearly a quarter of a century in Christian higher education-through those years, I’ve had, again and again, to stop and say to people, “Now listen, let’s ask God to give us the knowledge of what the right thing is to do. Not the convenient thing, but the right thing.”
It’s so easy to serve your own convenience and say, “Well, this will get us off the hook.” Oh, boy, that’s always a mistake. You realize that? It’s always a mistake to try to just ease the pressure and get yourself off the hook. Instead, ask the harder question, “What’s the right thing to do? What will I wish I had done a million years from now when memory is still operating? When I look back, what will I wish I had done?” Let me do the right thing. Follow after, said he, righteousness.
Oh, make that a rule of your life, would you, beloved friend? It isn’t what feels good. It isn’t what sounds good. It isn’t what looks good. It isn’t what is convenient. It isn’t what removes the embarrassment. These are not the criteria. The real measurement is, is it right? Righteousness.
Then he says Godliness, and that of course is the quality of God in the ordinaries of life. That’s my little Cook-ism definition of Godliness. The quality of God in the ordinaries of life, Godliness. And the idea being that onlookers should be able to recognize the Presence of God in your everyday living. The way you drive, the way you answer the phone, the way you take care of your obligations, the way you conduct yourself at home, the way you consummate a business deal, the way you keep your obligations. Onlookers should be able to identify the Presence of God in your daily lifestyle.
Well, that’s a big order, isn’t it? And you find yourself heaving a sigh and say, “Oh, who can do that? I got things to worry about, I get busy, and I can’t always be religious.” No, no, I didn’t say you should be religious. Trying to be religious all the time just makes a guilt-edged hypocrite out of you. God never requires you to be pious all the time. There’s a commercial that says you haven’t got time for the pain- well, there’s some times when you haven’t got time to be pious! [chuckle] You’re too busy just living and existing and trying to make it through the day, but you can always be Godly. You can always be under the control of your Heavenly Father because of the indwelling Holy Spirit Who manifests the Lord Jesus Christ in your life.
See, life is not all religion. Life is answering letters and diapering babies, and scrubbing floors, and putting up storm windows, and changing the oil in a motor, and writing a contract, and calling on clients, and embalming a body, or taking care of a patient, or operating on somebody, whatever it is. Life has all of these different things that people have to do.
No, you can’t be religious all the time, but you can be Godly. Yes, you can. And you can whisper a prayer before you answer a phone. You can whisper a prayer before you open a letter. You can whisper a prayer certainly before you answer one, or before you make a decision, or before you go on a trip, or before you start some job of work at your desk or at the shop or whatever it may be. You can whisper a prayer before you correct Junior. God knows whether you should love him or spank him or both and in what order. Oh, boy, yes, God knows. Godliness! The quality of God in the ordinaries of life. People who are onlookers should be able to identify the Presence of God in the way you live in your everyday life. You pursue that. He says, “Run after it. Just work on it until you have achieved it.”
He says, “Pursue faith.” That’s strange, isn’t it? Many people say, “If I only had more faith.” Well, use what you have. Pursue faith. What does it mean to pursue faith? “Now, I can understand pursuing righteousness and I can understand pursuing Godliness, but what does it mean to pursue faith?” It means to be completely committed to the idea of trusting God for the situation. Risking the situation on God. He says, “You tie yourself to that. You pursue that concept, and tie every one of your decisions to the idea of risking the situation on doing God’s Will. That’s faith.” Oh, that’s a big order, isn’t it? [chuckle] See the “what if” factor comes in there. What if things don’t work out? What if I trust God and things don’t work out right? Oh, the old element of unbelief. What if? What if?
The ennoblement on whose arm the King leaned there during the siege of Samaria, after the prophet had said to Martha there’d be bargain prices in the gate of the city. There’ll be lots of food sold tomorrow. And the nobleman said, “Behold, if the Lord might make windows in Heaven could such a thing be.” And Elijah said, “You’ll see it but you won’t taste it.” And so it fell out the same way he said. But oh, unbelief, what if? What if? No, Paul says you run after faith, you pursue it, you tie your thinking, and your deciding, and your acting, to the whole idea of risking the situation on God’s Will and on believing God and on trusting God in a situation.
I’m gonna tell you something that will put an element of greatness in your life that nothing else would produce. Oh, yeah. You could have the highest IQ in the seminary or you could be the smartest pastor in the denomination, but without that quality of risking the situation on God, you turn up to be a pretty mediocre, nondescript, religious hack.
But even though, on the other hand, you might lack some of the mental brilliance and intellectual acumen of the other people, if you dare to believe God and to obey Him no matter what, beloved, I’m gonna tell you, God is gonna put the element of spiritual greatness in your life. And people will be beating a path to your door because they know God is working in your life. They took knowledge of them. It says, concerning the apostles, “They took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.” You spend some time with your Lord and you tie your decisions to God’s Will and you insist on doing things right to please God. It’s gonna build greatness into your life.
Well, you have these other words that’s for you to pursue, time is going and we won’t have a chance to comment on them. As we wrap up our study of I Timothy, follow after faith, follow after love, that’s Calvary love, agape love. Don’t be satisfied with anything less than the love of God, the John 3:16 love of God, in your heart and in your relationship with others. You pursue that, and then patience, that’s the… We call it “hupomone,” stay down, don’t pop up, or blow up, or give up. Learn to wait on God.
And then meekness, be willing to play second fiddle. Pretty hard, isn’t it? When you do all the work and somebody else gets the praise, doesn’t that gall you? When you have knocked yourself out to do a good job and somebody else is commended and made chairman of the committee or whatever it is, oh, boy, that’s hard to swallow. Meekness, willing to play second fiddle.
Willing to do your best without being patted on the back. Meekness. He says, “Work on that.” See, you don’t drift into meekness, and you don’t drift into faith. You don’t drift into holiness. You don’t become a Godly person by accident, you gotta work at it. That’s the point we’re making. Work at it.
And then of course, he says, “We want to follow all of these things. And in addition, peace.” Over in II Timothy 2, he says, “Flee also youthful lust but follow righteousness, faith, love, peace.” Peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Work on being a peaceful person and in creating peaceful situations.
The morning paper today, ’cause you won’t hear this for a month, but today’s morning paper commended a certain university official in that he was an expert at easing tensions and creating peace. That’s very nice. It’s a good quality. As a Christian, work at being a peacemaker.
Dear Father, today, keep us in Your Will. Help us to work at these qualities that build spiritual greatness into our lives and ministries. Keep us from sin. Keep us in Your Will. In Jesus’ name, I pray this. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today, and be a blessing!
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