What Comes Before God?
Serve God being mindful of the Second Coming. Live in such a way that you are ready.
Alright thank you very much, and hello again dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, this is your friend Bob Cook, and we are back once again together. Halleluiah for that privilege, I am so grateful that you are there and that I have the privilege of speaking with you day by day, and we are looking at 1 Thessalonians 1.
“And Paul has been saying, ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, and that other people became followers of you, and your faith sounded out throughout all Macedonia and Achaia, and every place your faith to God were to spread abroad; so we don’t need to say anything about you.”
You don’t need somebody to promote your faith if it is real. The word gets around if you are real with God. Now, we go on. “He said they, that is the people who hear about you, show of us what manner of entering in we had to you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for your Son from Heaven whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come.”
It is quite a mouthful there, and we won’t get through it in this broadcast for sure, but we’ll start, won’t we? He said, “They showed what manner of entering in we had unto you.” Now preacher, never be content unless somebody is turning to God in some way because you gave out the Word. What manner of entering in we had, in other words, what kind of a ministry we had with you people of Thessalonica? What happened? You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.
Never be satisfied merely with saying something pleasant, or would say I gave them the truth. Well, of course you did. Most ministers intend to preach the truth of God. There may be a few who specialize in in book reviews, and whose theology is tied to the philosophy of tentativeness or whatever seems right at the time and all that. But most ministers, and many of you are my dear friends, I know you want to preach the truth of God from his inherent inspired Word, the Bible. So keep on, but never be satisfied unless something happens when you preach. Preach for the verdict.
He said, “When I came in to you, you turned.” Does that mean you have given invitation at every service? Well, it might be good idea. I was interim pastor for a little while at Calvary Baptist Church in New York City, and I told the dear friends there, I said, “Now if you got Bob Cook here, you’re going to have a gospel invitation.” And so morning, and evening whenever I preached, I gave a gospel invitation. People came, and were saved, and backsliders are restored, Christians were helped, and all of that.
So it might be a good idea, I don’t know. You have to; you have to tell what kind of a congregation you have. If you are preaching to, to farm folk for instance, you have the same people in the congregation every time, and so unless you go out and win some souls, and have them ready to confess Christ publicly when you give the invitation you are going to find that it gets a little tiresome if you have the same people all the time so you will have to be guided on what you do.
The point is, unless folk are perceptively turning in their attitudes, and conduct as a result of the Word of God, you didn’t get any mileage out of it. Will you remember that, preacher, unless, and Sunday school teacher as well, missionary, mission worker, whatever?
Unless people are perceptively turning to God in some way as a result of your presentation of the Word, you didn’t get any mileage out of that at all, all right? That may be a little rough and if it is forgive me, but I feel so deeply about it. We are not called to dialogue, and we are not called to be orators. We are called to give the Word of God out in power, aren’t we? Okay.
He said, “Our entering into you was like this – You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for your son from heaven.” To God from idols, to serve, and to wait. This is a as a beautiful formula, and that involves what happens when one becomes a Christian, and starts a Christian life.
The first is you turned God-ward. It also involves repentance. You turned away from sin, you turned to God from idols. I think I may have been the first person back in the early 1940s to have used the term easy believism. I don’t believe I have heard it anywhere before that time. By that, I meant the idea of professing Christ without really repenting of sins, and forsaking them and going God’s way.
Now, there is room for the occasional slippage of one’s life because we are human beings. But John says in his first epistle, epistle, “He that is born of God does not practice sin.” And so that is the line that God draws, and you and I have to live by it. You turn to God from idols.
You don’t worship God on Sundays, and then go back to your idols on Monday. It doesn’t work that way. Turn to God from idols. I often quote that verse from a song, “The dearest idol I have known, what art that idol be, help me to tear it from thy throne, and worship only thee.”
There may be areas in our lives very frequently are, where we are protective of something that we are unwilling to expose to the merciless glare of God’s truth, and which I know, not that not that room, not that corner, not that closet, not that sealed package, not that.
But turning to God involves letting His light shine. “He that is of God, we read in John 3, cometh to the light that his deeds may be made manifest, that they wrought in God.” Let the light shine. “If we walk in the light,” John says, “As He, Christ is in the light, be with then have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son keeps on cleansing us from all sin.”
Walk in the light. Let God’s light shine the light in. Turn to God from idols. Is there any, is there any idol somewhere? One of the saddest verses in the Old Testament is, “They feared the Lord, and served their own gods.” The combination of the worship of Jehovah, and then the casual idolatry of the culture which had crept in from around them – they feared the Lord, and served their own gods. Oh boy.
Well, that is a challenge to me. I am as much of a human being as you are, and maybe more. And every day, you and I need to ask the blessed Lord to cleanse our hearts, and to tear away from the throne of our lives, anything that would take precedence over His sovereign control of our lives. Let God be sovereign in your life. “Let God be God,” Paul Rader used to say.
Turn to God from idols. Now he said to serve the living and the true God. Word serve, you notice the interesting word that means serve like a slave, serve like a slave, doulio. Serve living and the true God, then wait for Son from Heaven.
How do you serve God? Well, I think it is very simple. Paul says, “Whatsoever therefore you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him, and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, psyched up, excitedly, psyched up, do it heartily as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” I have just quoted to Colossians 3:23 and 27.
Now, how do you serve God? You start doing what you do for Him – that is how you do it. You start doing what you do for Him. That is very simple, isn’t it? Well, it may not be quite that simple in practice but you start it. Colossians 3:17 and 23, I want to get those references right, I gave them wrong a moment ago. “Whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God, and whatever you do, do it heartily, psyched up, excited because you are working for Jesus and not for people.”
That is the formula. Do what you do for God. Enjoy working for Him, excited. Do it in terms not of what you will get now but the reward that is coming, knowing that of the Lord, you shall receive the reward of the inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God. See, those words living and true are in contrast to the word idols – dead, material. Idols cannot speak, cannot respond. I think of the sadness I have seen in the eyes of people who are worshipping images as I’ve travelled here and there, across the world.
Sadness and despair, praying before an image, hoping that something may change. You sit down and talk with these people, and say do you really believe that that, that that stone image or that wooden fetish can hear you? Oh no, no, no, it is the spirit behind it. And so actually what is going on is across the world, in many countries people are praying before images and idols, and various types of inanimate objects, and they know that they are trying to be in touch with the spirit world. They are afraid, they are not happy but they hope that something may happen. It is a life of fear and frustration.
How different, how different when you learn to pray to the true and living God, the true, the living, and true God. He is alive, and He is true. There is no falseness in Him, no disappointment in Jesus. Now he said you, you turn from your idols to this, this living, and true God to serve Him.
How do you serve Him? Get down on your knees, listen to His voice, read His Word, and then do what you do for Him in obedience to the commands He gives you. Is that too simple? Well, I took it right out of God’s Blessed Word. That is how it is.
Everywhere you touch, the lives of people who are, who are written about in the Bible, you will find them following the simple rule of obedience. Every place there is disobedience, service is marred. Paul talked about, about being careful that we don’t give offense, that the ministry be not blamed. What is the ministry? The process of giving God to people through His Word, and through His blessed Holy Spirit.
When I disobey, I hinder the process of communicating God to people in a saving and keeping way. So how do you serve God? Down on your knees, get your heart right, listen to what He says to you in His Word, and then start doing what He tells you. He takes care of the rest, doesn’t He? Oh yes, he does.
Turn to God from idols to serve, and then He says and to wait. Now it’s hard to wait. I am an impatient sort of a person. I found myself many times praying something on the order of, Lord, hurry up. (Laughs) Hard to wait, but He says, “And to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come.”
Your service of God is in the light of the fact that Jesus is coming again, and I don’t hear too much preaching about the second coming. It goes in cycles, I guess. Some years ago, there was a lot of it. Now, there’s not quite so much anymore. But Jesus is coming again! And we are getting down to the end of the age of grace, aren’t we?
Israel is back in the land, and iniquity is abounding, and the nations are at unrest, and war is everywhere, and so on. Jesus is coming. Lift up your eyes, and look. He is coming. Get ready, and live in a manner that will make you ready.
Dear Father, today, Oh may we obey Thee by serving our Lord. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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