Time Alone With God
Value your time in prayer. Mind your own business, yet show concern for others. Be careful when giving advice.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing alright today? Yes, I know some of you answer me, and sometimes you have to answer, “Oh, not so good,” or “Don’t ask,” or whatever. I know. Well, if you’ve struck a rough day, look up, trust the Lord, and He’ll see you through. And if you’re happy, share that with Him, too. Do you ever think about sharing your happiness with the Lord? Say, “Thanks, Lord; I feel so good today, and I’m happy,” and praise Him. “Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth Me,” the Bible says. Do you want to glorify God? Start praising Him. Share your happinesses and your joys with your Lord as well as your burdens.
Well, this is your friend, Bob Cook, and we’re looking at 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 4. The subject of that first section of the chapter is pleasing God. He said, “We exhort you that as you received of us, so you ought to live every day and to please God, and I want you to abound more and more.” It is possible to have a life that grows in the capacity to please God. Don’t ever stop growing spiritually and pleasing God. He said, “I want you to abound more and more.” In what? In pleasing God.
The first thing that pleases God is a holy life (Verses 1-8.) “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.” And that word sanctification means “set apart for God to use.” That includes your body and your mind and your actions, your decisions, your relationships, your daily work, all that you are: set apart for God to use. That doesn’t mean that it will all be religious. It’s impossible to be religious about cleaning out a sewer, or putting a new roof on the garage, or something that is not at all related to piety. But it is possible to do that as unto the Lord, and in the process, honoring Him by the attitude and the spirit with which you do it. Pleasing God: a holy life where everything is set apart for Him to use.
That’s a big order. I discover constantly (and I’m no youngster anymore, as you know) areas of my life where God needs to be put into control. Have you found that true of you? The faithful Spirit of God continues to work with yours truly on matters that I had maybe not even thought about before, and I’m glad He does. I keep praying, “Lord, don’t quit. Don’t leave me alone to myself; keep working on me.” And He does. Faithful is He that calleth you Who also will do it, says the Bible. That’s the first thing.
The second part of this section on pleasing God has to do with our treatment of fellow believers: brotherly love. “Ye yourselves are taught by God to love one another.” And indeed, he says, you do. “You love all the brethren in Macedonia,” and he says “I just want you to keep on and increase more and more.” It’s possible to have a life that grows in the capacity first to feel and experience, and second to demonstrate divine love. It is possible to have a life that grows in the capacity for divine love. Do you want to think about that for awhile? I know this is all review, but I just wanted to stop on it long enough to remind myself along with you, beloved, that God isn’t limited in the amount of blessing He can pour into our lives. It’s possible to grow in one’s capacity for divine love.
You know because I have told you that I pray every day that God would fill my heart with His love and put it into my voice as well, so that if you’re hurting somewhere as you listen, you can sense there’s somebody there that does care and that my ministry to you may perhaps be a connection with the great loving heart of God. That’s what I pray. But I want you to know that my goal for you as well as for myself is that there might be a constant growth in our capacity. He said, “I want you to abound more and more; I want you to increase more and more.” In what? In brotherly love. In that unreserved, unqualified, no-strings-to-the-bargain, positive regard of other brothers and sisters in Christ, because they belong to Him and to us. May God increase our capacity along that line. Amen?
Well, then, he said, “Study to be quiet,” and just before we went off the air last time we were talking about the value of a quiet time with God. I’ve proved that ever so many times. Traveling into other countries, of course, one experiences what they call “culture shock,” and along with that, as a child of God, you experience spiritual shock as well when you move into an area that is dominated by the powers of darkness.
Now, India is a beautiful land, and the Indian people are a wonderful, wonderful people. When an Indian smiles, the whole world lights up. No doubt about that, and I left part of my heart there when I had some ministry in that great land. The fact is, however, that it is not pre-eminently a Christian land, and there are millions upon millions of people who worship the spirits, and for them, life is not a source of joy, but rather, their religion is an oppressive and fearsome thing. They are afraid. Others, of course, have other forms of religion in that great land of India. And some, as I observed them, were quite calm and seemed quite well-adjusted in their religious life.
Be that as it may, I was there back in 1948 (forty-one years ago, how about that?) and it was just after what they called “partition,” when India and Pakistan had been separated, and there had been a good deal of bloodshed, and there was still a good deal of latent hatred and resentment in the air, and all of that. So as I moved into a land that was not predominantly Christian, but predominantly, as you would say, pagan, and when I found that so many people of the populace were the victims of what had just happened (some of them had suffered great injuries and loss and were bitter about it), that kind of atmosphere hit me as though I had run smack into a wall. Do you know what I had to do? In order just to maintain my own spiritual life in those days, I had to get up well before dawn and seek my blessed Lord.
And I did! Day after day, I was up praying and seeking God by four o’ clock in the morning. And about five-thirty I was, as you may say, “fit to live with.” I had found a touch from God for my life for that day as well as the heart of some messages that I might give in the many meetings that we were scheduled to address. A busy time; you had to have something from God every day. I felt as though I had run right smack up against a spiritual wall when I entered that atmosphere. I had to be quiet before God and pray in order to get ready for any kind of ministry. Do you follow me? My heart warms with the memory of some of the dear people in India who did know the Lord Jesus. Oh, wonderful people. Open hearted; warm, hospitable, loving, and thoroughly committed to their Savior. I had some wonderful times of fellowship with the folk there. It all comes back with a rush of blessed memories.
Do you ever pray for people in countries like India, for instance, and China (over one billion people, most of whom have never heard the name of Jesus, let alone the gospel.) Do you ever pray for those great countries? Do you ever pray for Russia, or the Soviet Republics that comprise what we call Russia? Do you ever pray for the great countries south of us in Central and South America? These are wonderful people; when you get to know them, every nation has its own special characteristics. But oh, when you bring them in touch with the Lord Jesus Christ, what a transformation. And He takes their national characteristics and beautifies them, and glorifies them, and uses them. Let’s you and I be more faithful in praying for the millions across the world that need the Lord, shall we? Well, that wasn’t in the text, but I just sort of brought it in.
A quiet time is very important. Structure; plan for some time each day to be quiet before God, even if you have to just go in the bathroom and lock the door and get down on your knees and say, “Oh, God, I haven’t got any time, but I want to talk with you for a minute.” Get quiet before God, day after day, and He will reward you with His presence and His blessed miraculous touch upon your life.
It’s interesting to me that Paul said, “Mind your own business.” I don’t know why he had to say that; you would think anybody would know that, but then, some of the most obvious things are passed over by those who belong to our Lord. For example, in the Book of Ephesians is a letter that Paul wrote to what many people think was probably the most spiritually advanced church in all of the New Testament times: the Church at Ephesus. And yet, in the Book of Ephesians, Paul said, “Don’t lie to each other.” Lie to each other? You would think Christians would know better than that. And then he said, “Let him that stole steal no more.” Stealing? You’d think you wouldn’t have to tell Christians that.
The point is, we are all human beings and we all need to be reminded of some of these things that oftentimes we just pass over. And here’s one of them: he said, “Mind your own business.”
Does that mean that I’ll be unconcerned about others? No. Paul wrote, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” You and I have to learn to become vulnerable to other people’s needs and wants and hurts and burdens if we’re going to fulfill a Christian ministry. But sharing another person’s burden is one thing; meddling in another person’s business is quite another. He said, “Mind your own business.”
Be slow to talk about someone else’s difficulties, and be slow to give advice about somebody else’s problems. Share their burdens, care about them, pray with them, weep with them. Paul says, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with those that weep.” Share with people and love them, but mind your own business. Pretty good idea, isn’t it? We’ll get at the rest of this when we get together again.
Jesus, we worship and adore Thee. Help us to live for Thy glory today. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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