(Second of two addresses)
Reading: Romans 10:8-18
Text: verse 9
DO WE EXPECT GOD TO DO AS HE PROMISES, AND ANSWER OUR PRAYERS?
[*] A very dignified pastor was visiting a lady in a nursing home who was confined to a wheel chair. As he stood to leave, the lady asked him to have a word of prayer. He gently took her hand and prayed that God would be with her to bring her comfort, strength and healing. When he finished praying her face began to glow. She said softly, “Pastor, would you help me to my feet?” Not knowing what else to do, he helped her up. At first, she took a few uncertain steps. Then she began to jump up and down, then to dance and shout and cry with happiness until the whole nursing home was aroused. After she was quieted, the solemn pastor hurried out to his car, closed the door, grabbed hold of the steering wheel and prayed a little prayer, “Lord, don’t you ever do that to me again!”
(a) I don’t know how many times we say, that the Lord does NOT expect us to witness in our own strength - but yet when the opportunity comes, we shy back in reluctance - “Oh no!
Let someone else!”
(b) Part of being a Christian, IS TO BE AT GOD’S DISPOSAL
(c) When Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His followers in Acts 1, He promised them the POWER TO WITNESS! He said,
“Ye shall receive POWER after that the Holy Ghost is come
upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in
Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the
uttermost part of the earth.”
(d) To say we CANNOT DO IT, is nothing less than an INSULT TO GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT! For we are not asked to witness in our own power - God forbid! We are asked to witness in HIS POWER and HIS, GOD GIVEN ABILITY!!
(e) In God’s eyes, THE WEAKER WE FEEL THE BETTER!!
BECAUSE HE, the Bible says, in 1 Corinthians 1:27,
“Hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the
things which are mighty!”
(f) In other words, when we do not know what to say, we TRUST HIM, God the Holy spirit for inspiration!!
(a) When we are “Walking in the Spirit”, then He will REVEAL to us OPPORTUNITIES for witnessing, which we would otherwise fail to notice.
(*) I often used to drive up the new bypass road at Portobello, near Edinburgh, and I noticed one day that it is called, “Sir Harry Lauder Road”, named of course after the great Scottish singer and comedian.
He was one day asked to be a guest at a gathering of three hundred officers, during the second world war. They were all very fond of the comedian, and said, “Harry, we want you to sing for us! Sing ‘Comin’ through the rye’.” Harry turned to them, and said, “I canna sing for you boys, I canna sing.
John, my boy is dead out yonder in the field. I cannot sing today, but if you’ll let me, I’ll preach a little to you.”
He then went on solemnly, “Men, when I found John dead, the idol of my heart, John, on whom I had built, all my hopes, I had the choice of three roads: I could take the road of grief, or I could take the road of despair and commit suicide, or I could take the road of Jesus, and give up to Him, and that is what I have done.”
(1060 in 1200 N.Q.& A.)
(b) But to make effective use of our opportunities, we need the word for the occasion! In one of the verses which we read this morning in 1 John 2:20, it says, “Ye have an unction from the Holy One.”
(c) All too often, we rely on what we’ve been taught parrot fashion - you know all the hackneyed clichés we have grown accustomed to!
DARE WE SAY, SOME MAY BE WITHOUT FOUNDATION IN SCRIPTURE!
(*) In one corps where we introduced a conversational Bible Study, some people wouldn’t come, obviously because they were afraid they couldn’t speak intelligently about the Scriptures and what they believed - or were afraid of their cherished beliefs being challenged because they didn’t know the Scriptural foundation for them!
If someone’s experience is out of date, perhaps for the most part filled with clichés which ceased to thrill their souls a long time ago - THEN PEOPLE RECOGNISE IT!!
(d) THEY HAVE GOT TO SEE MORE THAN HISTORY IN A POETIC COAT!
THEY NEED TO SEE IN US, SOMETHING THAT IS AS VITAL AS LIFE ITSELF!
OUR WORDS AND OUR ENTHUSIASM HAVE GOT TO FIT IN WITH THAT PICTURE! THEY ONLY CAN, THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT’S INSPIRATION!
(e) He can also give us the INSPIRATION TO BE QUIET at the appropriate time!
A man was once given the following advice by a secretary: “It’s better to remain silent and be thought stupid than to open your mouth and forever remove all doubt.”
Many are the occasions, I have sat with people experiencing difficulties and just held their hand, or sat in an attitude
of prayer - and they have found it of enormous help!
(f) Had I felt the silence suffocating and chattered away about anything and everything, then those poor people would not have got what they needed at that moment!
(g) On other occasions I have been AT A TOTAL LOSS for anything meaningful to say - AND SUDDENLY THE SPIRIT HAS GIVEN ME JUST THE WORD FOR THE OCCASION!
(a) Billy Graham the evangelist, is now quite an elderly man, but his message has not changed either in it’s simplicity or it’s power. When he spoke to us by satellite in the School of Evangelism in Stirling University some years ago, it was an inspiration and blessing to the 500 of us who were there. The simplicity and directness of his message has not changed down through all these years. He couldn't be present with us, as his illness didn't allow him to travel.
(b) I remember a few years ago being greatly blessed, as I listened to Dr. Graham being interviewed on television.
Some very tough and difficult questions were asked in an effort to trip him up - yet his answers were calm, and very
obviously under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit, as every answer did not glorify Billy Graham or his organisation, but rather, every answer glorified God!!
(c) So too will OUR answers be, if inspired by God! They will NOT GLORIFY OURSELVES OR OUR CORPS, OR THE ARMY, but THE LORD!
(d) We should never feel self-satisfied with what we do for God! If we are TRULY FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT, then we will have an INSATIABLE DESIRE TO DO AND TO DARE FOR GOD! IT WILL BE UNQUENCHABLE!!
(e) As I said, the simplicity of Billy Graham’s message has never changed in all these years! He preaches a very simple and straight-forward message!
(f) The message of the Gospel which God has entrusted to us, is not at all complicated! It is often man who turns it into a theological argument!
(g) The Apostle Paul reminds us of the simplicity, when he says in 1 Corinthians 1:18,
“For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God.”
Again in verse 23, he says, “We preach Christ crucified.”
(h) Some try to discount the Cross, saying they do not want a ‘BUTCHER’S RELIGION’, but dear friends, this is THE VERY HEART OF THE GOSPEL - WITHOUT IT, THERE IS NO GOSPEL OR SALVATION!!!
(i) There are many gospels being preached today, and if they do not proclaim salvation through a Crucified Christ at the heart of their message, then they are NOT BRINGING PEOPLE TO SALVATION, but RATHER DAMNING THEM IN HELL!!
(j) People sometimes wonder why I have little time for wishy-washy inter-church ‘do’s’! How can we have fellowship with those who are responsible for seeing souls damned, rather than saved??
(a) I think of well documented accounts of men in Communist prisons, locked in a cell with starving rats, simply because they confessed to knowing Jesus as their Saviour!
(b) Yet others were put into boxes, and nails hammered in on every side, until they pricked the body - and then left like that for prolonged periods!! ─YET EVEN AFTER ALL THAT, THEY STILL HAD THIS INSATIABLE DESIRE TO WORK AND WITNESS FOR GOD!!