Uncommon Courtesy

Courtesy is still in fashion in heaven. Courtesy is still something that God likes to see -- so be courteous, tactful, and sensitive in the living of the Spirit of God.

Scripture: Ephesians 4:13-16, 1 Corinthians 12


Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, my dear radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright? Oh I’m okay, happy in the Lord, glad to be back with you. The miles drop away and I’m sitting beside you in the car, as you drive to work or we’re sitting across from each other at your kitchen table, or maybe you’re just waking up and groaning and saying, “Oh boy, do I have to get up today? Well, whatever it is, wherever you are, bless your heart, may God’s Word, be rich and sweet and useful to you in these next few moments. What we try to do is to put a handle on the passage so that you can get hold of it for yourself.

We’re in Ephesians Chapter 4, and we came to that concept of building up the body of Christ. Everything you do, God enabled certainly every gift you have has been given to you by our blessed Lord. He listed these gifts here in Ephesians 4, prophets, evangelist, pastors, teachers, apostles he lists other gifts for example, in Corinthians 12, apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. So on. He lists in Romans 12, I think it is, other gifts, quite similar however, in the listing. Here, you are. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us whether prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhorting, giving, ruling, showing mercy, and love” Now see, these are all things that God has put into your life and made available to you for you to use, but for a purpose.

What purpose? For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Now we went over that territory a day or so ago. And I won’t repeat myself on it today, but then we stopped on this word edify. Build up, building up like you build up a dwelling for someone. Oikodomeo. Building a house. The edifying of the body of Christ. When you edify, you build up. How do you do that? Well, then he said, “we come in the unity of the faith, the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

“We come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Henceforth, no more children tossed to and fro, but speaking the truth in love, grow up.” Alright, now how do you edify? Where do you fit in personally in this matter of building up the body of Christ? Last time we got together we talked about the unity of the faith and we also commented on this word about the knowledge, the knowledge of the Son of God. That isn’t just a head knowledge.

Do you remember? It’s a personal experience of. Never be satisfied until you know that God has spoken personally to your heart through His Word and by the indwelling Holy Spirit, a personal experience with God is the only satisfying one. Every other human experience leaves you spent and needing something else, but when you have a personal experience with your blessed Lord Jesus, you’re satisfied, you’re fulfilled, and you are not in need of anything else. The knowledge of the Son of God. Now you see your exercise, we have to tie this all together God has given you some gifts hasn’t he? You have at least one gift out of these many, some of you are highly gifted, and you have several gifts. We envy you, the rest of us pions. [chuckle]

Be that as it may, whether you have one, just one gift or whether you’re highly gifted with many different abilities, God given. The purpose for using them, the purpose for using them is the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry and the building up of the body of Christ. So whatever you do, you’re doing it for that. So we come in the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. What you do with others’ needs to put them in personal touch with Christ. Early in life I was influenced by people who had as a way of life, the practice of praying with people, and so I’ve done this myself through the years.

You see, the only fulfilling experience is an experience with God, not you. You may be ever so charming, ever so capable ever so gifted ever so skilled, but after you’ve been through a situation with another person there still is something lacking, unless that person has been put in touch with Almighty God. TJ Bach as I’ve told you once or twice prayed for me right in the middle of a book store in Chicago many years ago. And I’ve prayed with people on trains, and in rickshaws, and in various places and bars and what-not, prayed with people, put them in touch with God. See?

This is so important, it not only establishes you as a resource person, but it satisfies some deep God hunger, in other people’s hearts. You know how uncertain you feel, when you come into a new setting, a new situation. And so, that was true of me, as I first came to the college, in 1962, the people were kind to me but we were strangers to each other, obviously, they didn’t know me, I didn’t know them, and so we were… Well, faculty of course are traditionally wary of anything or anybody new. But I was treading lightly as well. You may be sure. And so it was that we got together in someone’s home, a group of faculty, maybe 25 or 30 of them, came for a little… “little coffee and”, that someone had scheduled in connection with my first or second to visit to campus.

Now, it was an open secret that a lot of the people at the faculty and administrative level had some doubts about me because they thought I would proceed to change what was then a Liberal Arts college, change it into a Bible institute, because of my background. Of course, I did the opposite, I got the thing accredited under God, and that was great. But anyhow, they were afraid of that and they were wary and so everybody knew that that was their feeling including me, I knew it. Well, we got together, we talked, small talk, this and that, and had a nice little “coffee klatch.”

So it came time to break up and just instinctively, I lifted my hand. I said, “Friends. Let’s talk to the Lord together, we belong to Him, Let’s have prayer together.” And so, I just lifted a loving and warm, and earnest prayer to God for these people and said Amen. Well, lo and behold, as I was greeting one another, then after that just before I left, here are people with tears in their eyes and saying, “Oh, I’m so glad you did that.” [chuckle] Well I didn’t know there was anything that was going to trigger the flow of tears but there it was.

Oh, I’m so glad you did that. Well, don’t be afraid to pray with people. See what we’re talking about is the knowledge of the Son of God. Yes, you get to know Him through the word. Jesus said search the scriptures, for in them, you think you have eternal life and they are they which testify of me. You wanna get to know Jesus read your Bible and pray over it. The knowledge of the Son of God. You don’t really know your Savior until you start obeying Him as well. Get into the Word of God, pray over it, let the Spirit of God, who indwells the believer, speak to you, and then get busy obeying what God whispers to your heart.

But now when you’re dealing with other people, get them as well in touch with the Lord. And one of the nice ways to do it is just to pray with them so that the presence of God is real in their lives. AJ Gordon. I guess it was. Wasn’t it? That coined the phrase, “practicing the presence of God.” It was either him or some other old-timer, “practicing the presence of God”. When you walk into a room, people should feel God’s presence, that’s the norm for the Christian. The knowledge of the Son of God. That’s part of your work in building up others, get them in touch with God.

Now you don’t force the situation, the Holy Spirit has to lead you. There’s sometimes, as Dr. Trumbull pointed out in his book, it’s now out of print, so don’t ask me where you can get it, but it’s entitled “Taking Men Alive”, and I’ve got one copy of it, and I cherish it. But in that, he points out that there are some times when you don’t have the right to intrude your religious beliefs and he cited one illustration of taking an ocean journey and running into a storm where the Captain himself spent many long weary hours on the bridge personally in charge of this ship, which was pitching and tossing in the waves. A profane man, the captain was and as he wrestled with the storm there, he was also swearing and Dr Trumbull as I recall, remarked that it would have been a very poor thing, for Him to bring up the subject of salvation just then, but later on the storm subsided and the ship proceeded on its way and the good doctor was invited to have a meal at the Captain’s table. This was a single honor to eat at the captain’s table, and there he was, and the Captain himself brought up the subject, and said, Oh, you’re a religious person.

Ah well now then the door was opened and Dr. Trumbull, then could follow his lifelong rule which was… “Whenever I am justified in choosing the subject of the conversation, I will mention my Lord and endeavor to bring others to the knowledge of Christ.” That was his life-long rule. See, there are some time, you don’t make a federal case of it, you don’t barge in like a big bulldozer, and knock everything over. Courtesy is still in fashion in heaven, courtesy is still something that God likes to see. And so be courteous and be tactful and be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit of God, but when you can and every time you can get people in touch with God, one of the simplest ways is just to have a word of prayer with them.

And you’ll see, blessing after blessing after blessing. Yes, sometimes you… You may be rebuffed. I remember making a hospital call, many years ago now, upon a lady who was quite ill and I went to see her, and she was cheerful and upbeat in her attitude and everything was gonna be fine. And so after a short visit I said, “Well let me pray with you”, and without thinking, I just bowed my head and closed my eyes and prayed briefly for this dear lady. When I opened my eyes, she was nowhere to be seen, she had pulled the sheet clear up over her head and finally after what seemed a long time, she lowered the sheet to show her face and said, “Don’t you ever do that again.” You’ll find times some people are not quite ready for the Lord’s presence but in most cases you’ll be able to build them up if you’ll have some prayer with them.

Heavenly Father, in Jesus’ name, we ask that You’ll help us to build people up today, and especially by getting them in touch with you in the name of the Lord Jesus, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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