What Being With Jesus Can Do For You
Some months ago the Marine Corps of the United States of America had an advertising campaign designed to increase the number of young men enlisting in their ranks. No doubt you remember seeing the attractive poster and media ads that said: “The Marines are looking for a few good men.” It was designed to appeal to the mind that wants to be a part of American military history. One young woman in her late twenties paused to read the poster and was heard to say, “I can beat that; all I want is one good man!”
The Church that Jesus Christ is building on earth has no such limited objective. It reaches out to enlist all peoples of the earth. Christ wants all to follow Him and become good persons as they work together to build His Kingdom on earth.
One of the most exciting books of the Bible is the Acts of the Apostles. Its human author was the only Gentile writer of a New Testament book or letter. He was Dr. Luke, the physician-historian who accompanied the Apostle Paul on several of his missionary ventures.
One of the dramatic accounts of the behaviour of the followers of Jesus as they confronted the first hostility of the established religious power of the Saducees is recorded in the third and fourth Chapters of Dr. Luke’s treatise. Peter and John were going into the Temple through the gate known as beautiful. At the gate lay a crippled man who had been born that way, and who was now begging coins from the people entering the Temple to worship. When the beggar saw the two men he either spoke to them in asking some token of their mercy, or held up his receptacle to receive their expected gift. They then said to the beggar that hey had no silver or gold but what they did have they would give him. Taking his hands in theirs, they said, “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk!” He took a faltering step and didn’t fall. Then he leaped, ran, and shouted glory to God as he followed Peter and John.
The commotion caused by the incident came to the attention of the Chief Priest who was of the Saducees, the party of the Jewish faith that did not believe in life after death, and certainly could not accept a wild tale such as resurrection from death for Jesus of Nazareth. The High Priest asked, “By what power, or by what name, have you done this?” Peter, in great boldness in the power of the Holy Spirit, replied to their question by declaring the miracle was done in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
The Priests were amazed and could not explain the words and courage of Peter and John. They could only conclude that they had been with Jesus.
Think on some of the things that being with Jesus can do for a person.
Being With Jesus Can Make One Sensitive To The World About Them Jesus was most sensitive to, and observant of, the world in which He walked. He spoke of birds of the air, lillies of the field, foxes with their hiding places, and farmers that sowed their seed. He was also sensitive to people about Him. Sensitive that in the midst of a crowd jostling Him on every side, He could feel the trembling touch of a woman as she reached for the hem of His garment in her search for healing. So sensitive that He would take little children in His arms to bless them.
When John and Peter were going to prayer and saw the lame beggar, they too were sensitive to the man and his need.
One of the stories of the compassion of the world famous heart surgeon, Dr. Michael DeBakey of Houston, Texas, was told me by my late friend and fellow pastor in Houston, Dr. Herman Westmoreland. Dr. Westmoreland had suffered a heart attack and was recovering in the coronary care unit of Methodist Hospital. Early on one morning, he was awakened by a hand placed on his. As he opened his eyes he saw Dr. DeBakey. When the famed doctor was sure Dr. Westmoreland was awake, he said, “Don’t be alarmed, you do not need my services as a surgeon, but because you and I both love Jesus Christ, I just stopped to pray for Him to bless you today.” Being with Jesus can make us sensitive to our needy world and sensitive to the saving power of Jesus Christ.
Being With Jesus Can Make One Bold in Standing For Right
Peter and John were the same men who had fled when Jesus was on trial before the Chief Priest a few weeks prior to the healing of the lame man. Now they spoke with boldness that the leaders could not explain apart from them having been with Jesus.
Peter and John could point to the man that was healed as their exhibition of the healing power and love of Jesus. Their judges had no answer except they had been with Jesus.
Being With Jesus Can Give Us Perfect Security
The judges of Peter and John threatened them as they warned them to stop preaching in Jesus’ name, yet the disciples made it clear to the Chief Priest that they were going to obey God rather than men. Their security in life and death was in loyalty to God.
One of the great preachers of France during the oppressive reign of Louis XI was Milliard. He preached with such fervor against the sins of the day that the King sent word for him to stop preaching in that style or he would have him thrown in the river to be drowned. Milliard replied to the King’s messenger, “Tell the King that I will reach heaven sooner by water than he will reach it with fast horses.”
Dr. Samuel Johnson, famous in British literature, is recorded to have said to the physician attending him in his last illness, “Believe a dying man, there is no other salvation but in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. In that I am secure.”
“What Kind of A World Needed A Savior?”
One of the most popular contemporary songs lyrically declares “tonight there is the sound of lovers all over the world.” I truly wish the sentiment expressed in the song was an accurate description of our time, but, I fear the opposite emotion of haters hating is the sound that has drowned the melodies of love all over the world.
Our world displays many of the characteristics in human behavior that marked the times immediately preceding the birth of Christ into the human family. Perhaps we can better understand some of the forces at work in our day when we carefully examine those days the Apostle Paul called “the fulness of time” when God sent forth His Son to redeem the world.
I. The Fulness of Time
The times just before Christ was born were marked by unprecedented advances in the technologies of the times. Engineers of the Roman Empire had developed the tools of war to the point where the Emporer’s legions had conquered the lands surrounding the Mediterranean. Systems of travel and communication combined to bind vast land areas into a cohesive unit for political administration from the proud capital of Rome. Some historians report that the Emperor’s engineers used ten thousand laborers in the making of the vast system of roads, some of which are still in use today.
But, even with the rise of technology, there was an uneasiness in the Empire, rulers then feared that enemies would use those same technologies to invade, and perhaps, defeat Rome.
To make such statements to a 20th century man is easy, for it has a ring of truth familiar to the ear. Twentieth-century man, just as man living in the year 1 B.C., lives in a world that needs a Saviour. In the fulness of time, God sent His Son to be our Saviour.
II. The Moral Unrest
The fulness of time was a time when morals were so polluted by permissiveness that everywhere the best of spirits were in despair. If you want a true picture of the moral unrest of the times read Pauls letter to the Romans, Chapter One.
The first and the 20th century society meets on common ground. The permissiveness granted the immoral, the pornographic, has made bizarre persons and events acceptable.
And yet, there is again a vague, gnawing the conscience of the noblest people of our society that these things ought not so to be
III. Religious Unrest
The time when Jesus came was a time of dead religion — both pagan and Hebrew. James Stewart has written of the time, “The old gods of Rome were either dead or dying. To fill the gap, two expedients were tried. On the one hand, a whole new batch of gods were imported from the East, outlandish, oriental deities brought in to stir Rome’s jaded senses — ’til among the philosophers the overcrowding of Olympus, where gods were supposed to dwell, became a standing joke. On the other hand, the strange phenomenon of Caesar worship appeared; the emperor himself was accorded divine honors. But all expedients failed. What was a whole pantheon of gods worth is they had nothing to say to a man with a broken heart? What could the divinity of Caesar say to a soul stabbed with the remorse of sin? When everything had been done that could be done, the hungry hearts of men were hungry still.”
And yet, there was a strange sense that something was about to happen.
Again, for 20th-century man to Jiear about dead religions, the importations of oriental philosophies, and the deifying of some men, is for him to hear very familiar things. The James Jones syndrome was not destroyed in Guyana with the drinking of the poisoned cup. Oriental philosophies flourish in our day as Moonies, Hare Krishna, and others such as Zen Buddha claim the allegiance of many.
The beautiful part of the “fulness of time” was that all who received Jesus Christ as God’s Son sent to redeem disturbed mankind, were redeemed. No longer did they fear technology. Immorality became abhorrent to them. Expectancy became fulfillment as Jesus Christ became the Saviour their world needed.
That same fulfillment can be Ours–when Jesus is received into our lives through faith in His saving power. Yes – you and I live in a world that needs a Saviour and God has sent His Son to meet our needs. Let Him in today.
“How Shall They Hear?”
When you and I place a listening ear to the Bible, we hear the sobs of God and His servants as they weep for the lost people of every generation.
One of the most impressive truths concerning the sobs of God for the lost is that He was never satisfied to just weep. His tears did not cause Him to cease His search for ways to reach the lost with His saving grace. When people did not listen to the pleas of God made through Ezekiel, God raised up other prophets. When Jerusalem refused Christ, He voluntarily went to the cross bearing the sins of us all, and praying for forgiveness for all who nailed Him there. When Paul’s kinsmen refused his message of salvation in Christ, Paul turned to the rest of the lost world with God’s invitation to eternal life through Jesus Christ.
We are confronted with the same conditions that existed for the Apostle Paul as described in chapter ten of his letter to the Romans.
God’s plan of salvation is and always has been very simple. That which Paul said to the Romans is still true today: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (10:9).” He proceeded in his presentation of the simplicity of God’s plan of salvation by saying, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (10:13).” Paul was most anxious that every person on earth know they can be saved.
How can anyone call upon the name of someone they can’t possibly believe in — because they have not even heard his name? Further, how can they hear that powerful name without someone telling them? And how can the messenger deliver the good news unless he is sent to those who have not heard? Paul then recalled Isaiah 52:7 as he spoke of the beauty of the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things.
How Shall They Hear? I Will Tell Them The Message
The Apostle was so committed to every person hearing the good news of Jesus Christ that he travelled constantly to reach people with the message.
The apostle Pauls, the David Livingstons, the Bill Wallaces, were once church members as we now are.
Perhaps God is speaking to some of us here today.
How Shall They Hear? I Will Write Them The Message
It is interesting to learn that Paul did not get to visit all the places mentioned in his letters found in the New Testament. Yet, we know they heard the good news by receiving his letters.
The late Dr. Truett often wrote letters to people for whom he prayed to be saved. He held a revival in Atlanta, Georgia and while there met a prominent banker who was not a Christian. When he returned to Dallas, he wrote his banker friend a letter in which he devoted one paragraph to urging him to accept Christ. When the banker made public his profession of faith he told the pastor that Dr. Truett’s letter made the decision for him. How shall they hear? Write them!
How Shall They Hear? I’ll Send Others Where I Cannot Go With The MessageWhen you read the letters of Paul, note the times he said to the churches: “I am sending Timothy to you.” or Titus, or some other of his trusted associates in the work of the gospel. Paul had no hesitancy in sending others to tell the good news where he could not go. He personally raised funds, and encouraged the churches to give monies, to send messengers to take the gospel to places where they could not personally go.
How shall our world hear? I will help in sending others to those people I cannot personally reach. I will pray and I will give my money through my church, that all the people of the earth may hear the matchless name of Jesus and believe in Him for eternal salvation.
“The Secret of the Radiant Face”
Shakespeare in Hamlet says, “God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another.”
That observation by Shakespeare was the same as the author of Psalm 34 in verses 4 and 5 when he wrote,
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to Him and be radiant;
so your faces shall never be ashamed.”
Karl Barth, in commenting on this verse said, “Look up to Him and your face will shine! What an announcement! What a promise and assurance! People, very ordinary human beings, with illumined faces! Not angels in heaven, but men and women on earth! Not some lucky inhabitants of a beautiful island far away, but people here, here in this house! Not some very special people among us, but each and every one of us.”
This great promise is not contingent on whether our daily experiences are good or bad, but the Psalmist makes clear that the truth came to him at a time of personal trouble. He also stated that he knew that the righteous were subject to many afflictions but the Lord to whom we are invited to look will deliver those who look to him out of them all.
It seems to me that we are now in a time in our nation and world when we as Christians need to lay hold on this magnificent promise and truly let our faces be radiant even though there is uncertianty and anxiety all about us. Economic conditions are troublesome. Political affairs are confusing. International tensions are frightening. But, let us discover anew the truth that they who look to the Lord will be delivered out of them all and will have the radiant face through the experience.
The Bible records the experiences of two other men who dramatically demonstrate the truth of the radiant face.
Moses experience is recorded in the 34th chapter of Exodus.
In that never to be forgotten encounter with God, the Lord revealed His anger against Israel and threatened to wipe them out and renew His covenant with Moses alone. It was then that Moses prayed to God not to destroy the people, but that if He were determined to wipe their names out of the book of life — he wanted his name included in the lot. God heard the plea and did not destroy the nation. When he descended from the mountain his face was radiant even though he did not know it.
The experience of Stephen is found in the 6th and 7th chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. Stephen was witnessing to his faith in Jesus Christ before the angry council from the religious leaders of Jerusalem, and as they looked at him they “saw his face as if it had been the face of an angel.”
God has given us one face, and we can make ourselves radiant as we look to Him. Perhaps we should now ask two pragmatic questions that are good in any discussion. How can I appropriate the secret of the radiant face? When should I?
How Can I Appropriate The Secret of the Radiant Face
The Psalmist, Moses, and Stephen reveal the truth that their faces became radiant in a time of face-to-face prayer to God.
You and I can appropriate the secret of the radiant face as we pray.
Helen Keller, that great soul who overcame so many handicaps to become one of the most productive persons of any age, was a giant in her prayer life. She said, “Dark as my path may seem to others, I carry a magic light in my heart. Faith, the strong spiritual searchlight, illumines the way, and although sinister doubts lurk in the shadow, I walk unafraid toward the Enchanted Wood where the foilage is always green, where joy abides, where nightingales nest and sing, and where life and death are one in the presence of the Lord.”
Look unto the Lord and be radiant!
When Should I Appropriate The Secret of the Radiant Face?
Surely there are none here who need to be reminded that the time to look unto the Lord for salvation is at the moment you know you are lost.
Moses realized his people were worthy of being wiped out — off the face of the earth — out of God’s book completely — and he couldn’t do one thing about it. He looked unto the Lord and the people were spared and his face was radiant. Stephen realized he would likely die for his declaration of Christ the Saviour but he knew the people would die in their sins without a Saviour. He looked to the Lord at that very moment and his face was that of an angel.
Each one of us here today can have faces made radiant by the Christ if we pray right now for Him to come into our lives to be Saviour and Lord of our lives. God has given you one face; will you let Him light it with His radiance today?
“The Greatest Wonder Of The World”
1 John 4:7-11
The first time Billy Graham stood in the completed Astrodome sports stadium in Houston, Texas, he called it the eighth wonder of the world. When the first astronaut descended the ladder from his space ship to place his feet on the surface of the moon, those of us watching by means of television experienced amazement over this wonder wrought in God’s world through enlightened technology.
The greatest wonder of the world is not limited by any historical dating devised by man, for it is overarching and undergirding all ages. The greatest wonder of the world is that “God loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.” If each of us will tune our receivers to their finest, we hear that statement read: “God loved me and sent His Son to be the expiation for my sins.”
I. The Greatest Wonder of The World Is The Love Of God Because It Reveals What We Need To Know About God
William Barclay stated the thought when he wrote that love is unconquerable benevolence, invincible good will. It is not simply a wave of emotion; it is a deliberate conviction of mind issuing in a deliberate policy of life.”
When we understand that our God is that kind of love, we begin to gain some insights into some things that otherwise are mysteries.
Alexander MacLaren said; “How do we know what a man is? By seeing what a man does. How do we know what God is? By knowing what God does. John does not argue with logic, either frosty or fiery, but be simply opens his mouth, and in calm, lucid utterances sets forth the truths an leaves them to work. ‘I do not argue with you; I simply say, Look at Him; Look, and see that God is love.”
Why did God create a world that would need constant care? God could have created a machine that would have needed no watching, but had He done so He would have been lonelier than the Maytag repairman is. Because He is love, He follows His act of creation with His constant care that sustains, the world.
When man rebelled against Him, why did God redeem fallen man? The very fact that God is love means that He will seek and save the lost. He sent His Son to become sin for us that through Christ we can know redemption.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were ev-ry stalk on earth a quill,
And ev-ry man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry.
II. The Greatest Wonder Of The World Is The Love Of God Because It Reveals What We Need To Know About Ourselves.
Man’s obsession with problems of anxiety, meaninglessness in life, and his mortality have but one good answer–John said it is in knowing a new birth in God, as God is love. Though man by his rebellion deserves death, God wants to give him life and for that purpose sent His Son.
Since I by faith received Jesus, I have identified with Philip Bliss in the words of his hymn that reads:
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me;
I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves even me.
III. The Greatest Wonder Of The World Is The Love of God Because It Reveals How We Can Properly Respond To What God Is and Does
If is is true, and I think it is, that we know what God is by what God does, I further believe that I can also know what God wants me to be and do. I likewise believe God will know me by what I am and what I do. Dr. C.H. Dodd said a profound truth when he wrote: “The energy of love discharges itself along lines which form a triangle, whose points are God, self, and neighbor.”
Believing you are known by what you are and what you do–are you a loving person who has responded to God’s love by openly accepting His Son as your Saviour? Have you in an act of will and commitment done what you know God’s will to be for the rest of your life? Allow the greatest wonder of the world to be revealed in you as you respond to your God who is love.
What Being With Jesus Can Do For You