Our Message Is Salvation Through Faith In Jesus Christ. The World Needs This Message.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Matthew 28:19.
We are not saved only to be instruments for God, but to be His sons and daughters. He does not turn us into spiritual agents but into spiritual messengers, and the message must be a part of us. The Son of God was His own message— “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). As His disciples, our lives must be a holy example of the reality of our message. Even the natural heart of the unsaved will serve if called upon to do so, but it takes a heart broken by conviction of sin, baptized by the Holy Spirit, and crushed into submission to God’s purpose to make a person’s life a holy example of God’s message.
There is a difference between giving a testimony and preaching. A preacher is someone who has received the call of God and is determined to use all his energy to proclaim God’s truth. God takes us beyond our own aspirations and ideas for our lives, and molds and shapes us for His purpose, just as He worked in the disciples’ lives after Pentecost. The purpose of Pentecost was not to teach the disciples something, but to make them the incarnation of what they preached so that they would literally become God’s message in the flesh. “…you shall be witnesses to Me…” (Acts 1:8).
Allow God to have complete liberty in your life when you speak. Before God’s message can liberate other people, His liberation must first be real in you. Gather your material carefully, and then allow God to “set your words on fire” for His glory.
“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”Psalm 119:97
Driving with two young children in the backseat often requires a special kind of grace. Especially when, like on this trip, I was the parent. We were driving to Grand Rapids to hear one of my favorite pastors speak, and we were seriously stuck in traffic. I desperately studied the map for an alternate route while my 3-year-old son amused himself by teasing his 18-month-old sister. Her piercing screams got louder until my already frayed nerves finally snapped. I reached behind my seat with the folded map and bonked my son on the head, yelling, “Stop doing that to your sister!”
My son, wide-eyed, looked at me from the backseat and admonished, “Daddy, it’s not be ye kind to hit people!”
I have an advanced degree in theology and make a living teaching others the Word of God. And yet, in that moment, it took a 3-year-old’s loose paraphrase of Ephesians 4:32, to help me catch a biblical clue. Out of the mouths of babes!
That’s exactly what the psalmist is talking about in this tiny nugget of truth from Psalm 119:97-112. Advanced degrees and knowledge-laden education or even an ordination to preach, do not, in and of themselves, make one wise. In fact, some of the smartest and most talented people in this world live and act in extremely unwise ways. Paul references people like that in Romans 1:21-22 when he says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”
It’s God’s Word that makes us wise. In fact, let me be more specific—it’s knowing and applying God’s Word that makes us wise. I knew the biblical truths in my head. But in a frustrated moment, I got a solid “F” in translating God’s Word into wisdom in my life.
The beauty of God’s Word is that it is so accessible. From young children, not even yet able to read, to stellar biblical scholars, His truths offer fresh insight and perspective. In the trustworthy pages of the Bible, God actually—get this—teaches us. Instruction directly from the Author and Creator of Life! No wonder His Word “gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).
That’s why the writer of this psalm, the longest chapter in the Bible, committed to meditating on God’s law all day long. He knew that questions would surface every day for which he had no answer. He knew that the daily struggle to live with integrity and purpose would require countless moment-by-moment decisions for which he would need wise counsel. And so he steeped his mind and his heart in the truth of God’s Word, heartily trusting that it would be sufficient for every situation. His confidence was that immersion in the truth of the Law granted him wisdom—the real, rubber-meets-the-road kind of wisdom—beyond what could be learned in school.
And so, armed with sound biblical wisdom, a 3-year-old wise guy in the backseat of my car brought a much-needed rebuke to his “biblically educated” Dad. And, by the way, for the rest of the car trip, I was a little bit more “be ye kind.”
Come With Me
From: Streams in the Desert
Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Descend from the crest of Amana, from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon, from the lions’ dens and the mountain haunts of the leopards (Song 4:8)
Crushing weights give the Christian wings. It seems like a contradiction in terms, but it is a blessed truth. David out of some bitter experience cried: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! Then would I fly away, and be at rest” (Ps. 55:6). But before he finished this meditation he seems to have realized that his wish for wings was a realizable one. For he says, “Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee.”
The word “burden” is translated in the Bible margin, “what he (Jehovah) hath given thee.” The saints’ burdens are God-given; they lead him to “wait upon Jehovah,” and when that is done, in the magic of trust, the “burden” is metamorphosed into a pair of wings, and the weighted one “mounts up with wings as eagles.
—Sunday School Times
One day when walking down the street,
On business bent, while thinking hard
About the “hundred cares” which seemed
Like thunder clouds about to break
In torrents, Self-pity said to me:
“You poor, poor thing, you have too much
To do. Your life is far too hard.
This heavy load will crush you soon.”
A swift response of sympathy
Welled up within. The burning sun
Seemed more intense. The dust and noise
Of puffing motors flying past
With rasping blast of blowing horn
Incensed still more the whining nerves,
The fabled last back-breaking straw
To weary, troubled, fretting mind.
“Ah, yes, ’twill break and crush my life;
I cannot bear this constant strain
Of endless, aggravating cares;
They are too great for such as I.”
So thus my heart condoled itself,
“Enjoying misery,” when lo!
A “still small voice” distinctly said,
“Twas sent to lift you—not to crush.”
I saw at once my great mistake.
My place was not beneath the load
But on the top! God meant it not
That I should carry it. He sent
It here to carry me. Full well
He knew my incapacity
Before the plan was made. He saw
A child of His in need of grace
And power to serve; a puny twig
Requiring sun and rain to grow;
An undeveloped chrysalis;
A weak soul lacking faith in God.
He could not help but see all this
And more. And then, with tender thought
He placed it where it had to grow—
Or die. To lie and cringe beneath
One’s load means death, but life and power
Await all those who dare to rise above.
Our burdens are our wings; on them
We soar to higher realms of grace;
Without them we must roam for aye
On planes of undeveloped faith,
For faith grows but by exercise in circumstance impossible.
Oh, paradox of Heaven. The load
We think will crush was sent to lift us
Up to God! Then, soul of mine,
Climb up! for naught can e’er be crushed
Save what is underneath the weight.
How may we climb! By what ascent
Shall we surmount the carping cares
Of life! Within His word is found
The key which opes His secret stairs;
Alone with Christ, secluded there,
We mount our loads, and rest in Him.
—Miss Mary Butterfield
“When Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” Luke 19:5
Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 5:21—6: 4
“I will come into thy house and give thee a blessing.” Oh! what affection there was in that! Poor sinner, my Master is a very affectionate Master. He will come into your house. What kind of a house have you got? A house that you have made miserable with your drunkenness—a house you have defiled with your impurity—a house you have defiled with your cursing and swearing—a house where you are carrying on an ill-trade that you would be glad to get rid of. Christ says, “I will come into thy house.” And I know some houses now that once were dens of sin, where Christ comes every morning; the husband and wife who once could quarrel and fight, bend their knees together in prayer. Christ comes there at dinner-time, when the workman comes home for his meals. Some of my hearers can scarce come for an hour to their meals but they must have a word of prayer and reading of the Scriptures. Christ comes to them. Where the walls were once plastered up with the lascivious song and idle picture, there is a Christian calendar in one place, there is a Bible on the chest of drawers; and though it is only one room they live in, if an angel should come in, and God should say, “What hast thou seen in that house?” he would say, “I have seen good furniture, for there is a Bible there; here and there a religious book; the filthy pictures are pulled down and burned; there are no cards in the man’s cupboard now; Christ has come into his house.” Oh! what a blessing that we have our household God as well as the Romans! Our God is a household God. He comes to live with his people; he loves the tents of Jacob.
For meditation: What a difference Christ makes to a household (Acts 16:31-34). How do you regard him? As an occasional visitor or Head of the house?
Sermon no. 73
10 March (Preached 30 March 1856)
The sin offering
‘If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish, unto the Lord for a sin offering.’ Leviticus 4:3
Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 5:1–14
Those who would preach Christ, but not Christ crucified, miss the very soul and essence of our holy faith. ‘Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him,’ is the Unitarian cry. Anything but a crucified God. But there, indeed, lies the secret of that mystery, and the very core and kernel of our confidence. A reigning Saviour I do rejoice in: the thought of the splendour yet to come makes glad our eyes; but after all, it is a bleeding Saviour that is the sinner’s hope. It is to the cross, the centre of misery, that the sinner turns his eyes for comfort rather than to the stars of Bethlehem, or to the blazing sun of the millennial kingdom. I remember one joining this church, who said, ‘Sir, I had faith once in Christ glorified, but it never gave me comfort: I have now come to a faith in Christ crucified, and I have peace.’ At Calvary there is the comfort, and there only. That Jesus lives is delightful; but the basis of the delight is, ‘He lives who once was slain.’ That he will reign for ever is a most precious doctrine of our faith, but that the hand that wields the silver sceptre, once was pierced, is the great secret of the joy. O beloved, abide not in any place from which your eye cannot behold the cross of Christ. When you are thinking of the doctrines of the gospel, or the precepts of the Word, or studying the prophecies of Scripture, never let your mind relinquish the study of the cross. The cross was the place of your spiritual birth; it must ever be the spot for renewing your health, for it is the sanatorium of every sin-sick soul. The blood is the true balm of Gilead; it is the only catholicon [remedy] which heals every spiritual disease.
For meditation: Paul’s evangelistic principle was to present nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23; 2:2). The Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper to keep his sacrifice on the cross in the centre of our thinking (1 Corinthians 11:23–26).
Sermon no. 739
10 March (1867)