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Grace and Truth
by Dr. Jack Hyles
BE A CHILDISH, JUVENILE ADULT
A child is not a complete person. He cannot enjoy many things that maturity will allow him to enjoy. For him many wonderful, enriching experiences yet wait that he cannot enjoy until he reaches adolescence and adulthood.
The adolescent is not a complete person, for there are many rich and satisfying endeavors that can be enjoyed only by adults.
The adult may or may not be a complete person; that choice is up to him.
The child-adolescent-adult is a complete person. This is a person who, when he became an adolescent did not substitute adolescence for childhood, but ADDED adolescence to childhood. Then when adulthood came, he did not substitute adulthood for adolescence but rather added adulthood to adolescence and childhood. He retained his childhood enjoyment and added to it the enjoyments of adolescence. He then retained his childhood and adolescent enjoyments and added to them adult enjoyments. He then became the complete person with a complete set of appetites, delights and fulfillments.
Why riot make a list of all the enjoyments unique to childhood. Have you retained them, or did you trade them for the enjoyments of youth? Everyone enjoys a teenager who, while possessing the maturity of youth, still possesses the excitement, exuberance and warmth of a child. We all know of adults who have added adolescence to childhood and adulthood to adolescence. This may be what charisma really is. There is a bit of little boy in every attractive adult male personality. There is an obvious pleasance or a bit of adolescence in every adult male personality. Likewise the attractive woman has a bit of little girl in her. She also has retained the flavor of adolescence in her mature, adult personality.
In many of our schools the best teaching is done in the lower grades. Such teachers can appeal to a child because they have retained a bit of childhood in their personalities. The same is true with a youth worker. Perhaps a youth worker is one who has kept his youth while becoming an adult. He was not willing to sacrifice youth for maturity and adulthood, but rather chose to retain his youth while adding the maturity of adulthood.
Think for a moment of some people whose presence you enjoy the most. Notice carefully and you will see that these people are childish, juvenile adults. This is why little children enjoy their presence. This is the reason that young people love to be with them and that other childish, juvenile adults enjoy their company. To be sure, such a person may draw criticism from incomplete people. The suave teenager may not like the teenager who has retained a touch of childhood. The drab adult may not enjoy the presence of the childish, juvenile adult. Perhaps the incomplete man will even develop a jealousy for the complete man. This perhaps is prompted by envy and covetousness.
All of us know of a young person who has gone off to college and has come home a different person, much to the dismay and disappointment of his parents. We also know of a young person who has gone off to college to return the same person who is just more mature and able to enjoy more of life. Such people bring delight and satisfaction to their parents. A farmer worked hard to send his son to the state University. While working in the field one day a neighbor asked him if he had noticed any difference in his son since he had been to the university for a fear The farmer replied, "Yep. You ain't never seen so much change in one young'in'. Before he went to the university, when he would plow, he would say to the mule at the end of the row, 'Whoa, Reb. Turn around and giddup.' Now that he has been to the university for a year he says, 'Halt, Rebecca, pivot and proceed.'" (It is the opinion of this author that "the mule walked on.")
The childish, juvenile adult enlarges his potential for service to mankind. He is not a specialist able to work just with children, nor is he a specialist able to work just with teenagers, nor is he limited to working only with adults. He has enough child in him to work with children, enough youth in him to work with young people and enough maturity to work with adults. Fortunate is such a person and fortunate are those privileged to be near him.
I am thinking now of a great preacher whom I found one day playing hopscotch with some children. I think Of another great man of God whom I found One day Playing marbles with some junior boys. Such IL Person makes a better pastor, for he can appeal to all ages. He makes a better parent, for he can have the proper rapport with his children at every stage of development. He will have a richer life, for he will be able to enjoy the company of any age. He will be a better leader, for he will know the heartbeat of each follower. He will be a more desirable person, for all ages will enjoy his presence. He will be more versatile in that his appeal will span all of life. He will never really grow old, for even in his senior years, he will still in some ways be a little boy and a young man.
I think of my mother, who at this writing is 86 years of age; yet every time I talk to her I see the twinkling eye of a child, the mischievousness of childhood, the optimism and expectancy of a teenager, the glamour of a young woman, the endurance of youth and the wisdom of adulthood wrapped up in one personality. This is why she, at the age of 86, attracts little children and teenagers as well as adults. There are people in their forties who are older than Mother. She is a childish, juvenile adult who refused to trade the joys of childhood for the joys of adolescence, or the joys of adolescence for the joys of adulthood. She has retained them all and in so doing has kept her appeal to others and her enjoyment of others regardless of the age.
In 11 Peter 3:18 we are admonished to grow in grace. The word "grow" could be better translated "increase." It means to keep what you have and add more. It is like a growing tree. While the tree adds branches, it keeps its trunk. While it adds leaves, it keeps its branches. It is like an army which takes ground. It does not give up what it had; it adds new land to the land that already has been conquered. In other words, growing in grace is "adding to," not "substituting for."
1. Do not exchange poverty for riches. The wise person will add riches to poverty. There are some enjoyments that are unique to poverty. How tragic it is when one gives up these enjoyments that are so rich that they cannot be bought with money in order to exchange them for things less valuable which can be bought with money. Such a person becomes poverty stricken because of his riches and trades that which cannot be bought by money for that which can be bought by money. This type of individual can be the poor rich man or the rich poor man.
I think of my good friend, Russell Anderson, from Ypsilanti, Michigan. Though his wealth enables him purchase whatever he would want, his wife Maxine still sews for the children and makes their clothes. She often trades at discount stores where the common person trades. They often raise a garden. In other words, because they were once poor they learned the enjoyments of the poor. Now that they are wealthy they have kept their poverty and have doubled their enjoyment rather than substituted one for another.
2. Do not trade simplicity for profundity. Though every Person should strive to become as profound in profession and field as he possibly can, he should not with the acquiring of profundity discard the pleasures of simplicity. In reality no one can be profound who has not retained his simplicity, for he will be completely unable to transfer his profundity to others. Simplicity is the tool with which profundity is transferred. Simplicity is the conveyer by which profundity is transported. Without simplicity, profundity is a house built upon the sand.
Our Lord was the master at adding profundity to simplicity. He could take the deepest and most profound truths and wrap them with the simplest of terms. The deepest of doctrines were conveyed to us by such stories as a boy running off from home, a lady losing a coin, a lamb getting lost from the flock, a man going out to plow, a farmer sowing in the field, etc.
When one becomes profoundly simple, richly poor, simply complicated, discerningly naive, weakly strong, conservatively aggressive, excitedly serious, unpredictably stable and unknowingly educated, he has arrived at a place to where he can live the rich life of being a childish, juvenile adult.
DON'T RUSH THE WASHING MACHINE
Recently I was looking at the washing machine in basement and noticed what an amazing piece of machinery it is. The thing is almost human! All you have to do is turn it on; it does the rest. It fills, washes, refills, rinses and spins again. To miss any one means that the clothes will not be done properly. For example, suppose that after the clothes wash, the machine were to jump the rinse cycle. Then you would have soapy clothes to wear. Suppose it were to jump the refill cycle before rinsing. Then there would be no water with which to rinse. The clothes cannot be their best unless they take the full time for each cycle.
Life is that way. It is divided into cycles. There is infancy, childhood, teenage, college age, young adult, adulthood, middle age and old age. For one to reach out too soon and grasp one of those cycles or to reach back too far for a missed cycle does not make for a complete, happy and fulfilling life. This is why Mom and Dad do not ride tricycles. This is why teenagers do not drink milk out of a bottle with a nipple. It is foolish for one who has passed a cycle to reach back to a former cycle.
It is equally foolish for one who is not yet to a particular cycle to reach far out and grasp it prematurely. For example, each young person has a right to receive the fullest of each part of life. Sometimes a teenager will want to marry prematurely. Perhaps a young lady will marry and in a year or so have a baby. She loves her husband and she loves her baby, but she should have waited a few years until the cycle for marriage came. While she should have been in college experiencing dormitory life and enjoying that part of life's cycle, she couldn't wait. She reached out and grabbed a part of life for which she wasn't ready, thereby missing a part of life that will cause her regrets as long as she lives.
Life is short, but it can be enjoyed to its fullest only when we five it as it comes to us as God planned it. Of course, young people should look forward with anticipation to marriage, but they should remember they are now living in days to which they looked a few years ago. They should enjoy the present. We should all let life's cycle give its fullest at every position. Don't grasp prematurely the next stage in life. Live this one until it has run its course, and then the next one can be enjoyed to its fullest.
We can all take a lesson from the washing machine. If we want to turn out to be our best, our cleanest, and our most useful, we must take life as it comes, not reaching forward to that for which we are not ready, not reaching backward to that which we have passed, but living today as God planned it for us.
There are several dangers involved here. Of course, one is jumping over a cycle or shortening it by marrying too soon, by quitting school and getting a job, etc. This is caused by an intense desire to grab the future rather than enjoy the present. The type person that does this seldom enjoys any phase of life, for he is so desirous to reach out and grab the next that he does not enjoy the present one.
Still another danger is causing one's mate to miss one of the cycles of life. Sometimes a young man, because he has improper counsel and because he wants to marry prematurely, will marry a younger causing her to miss some of the most wonderful of life. Of course, the young lady must also share responsibility of the mistake, but whatever the cause she still misses all or a portion of a vital part her life.
There is still another danger, that of holding off a cycle. A young person may decide to put off college a year so he can work for money with which to his college tuition. This is also dangerous. In most this person never gets to college. He becomes accustomed to a certain life-style from which he must retreat if he goes to college. More often than not he never enrolls in college.
There is also the danger of going too fast in one cycle and too slow in another. A teenage couple may get too close too soon so that their romance will ripen before they are ready for marriage. The wise young couple will prepare to marry at the end of their college training. They will, therefore, pace their degree of closeness according to the number of years that will elapse before college graduation. This means that their love will ripen so as to reach its peak on their wedding day. If this is not the case, one of three things will happen. (1) They will break up because they have gone too far too fast and are emotionally and physically ready for marriage at a time that is premature. (2) They will do wrong because they have not saved anything for the remaining days before marriage. (3) They will marry prematurely cheating themselves of both the enjoyment of the present phase of fife and the proper preparation for the next phase.
The Boy-Girl Relationship Cycle
There is another of life's cycles which deals with human relationships. For a girl it is as follows: parents, girls, girls and boys, boys, a boy.
For a boy it is as follows: parents, boys, boys and girls, girls, a girl.
As a child, one is occupied primarily with his parents. He then comes to the next phase of his life where he is occupied basically with members of his same sex. Boys have their clubs and circle of friends. Girls have the same. At this time in life all boys plan to live a life that is single and each boy covets the presidency of the girl-haters club and all girls think that every boy is a nuisance and a bad invention.
In a few years, however, something begins to happen. Nature does its work and there is a period when boys become attractive to girls and girls to boys. This is the boys and girls cycle. During this cycle the normal girl will retain her closeness with her girl friends and yet will begin to show an interest in boys in general. Boys, likewise, continue to spend time with each other but also become involved with girls.
It isn't long until another cycle is reached. Girls like to be around boys and boys like to be around girls. During this stage it is unwise for one to settle down with one member of the opposite sex. Soon, however, the normal young person will find the one for him and enter into what for a girl is the boy stage 'and for a boy is the girl stage. When the right one is 41mmd, then the romance must be paced according to number of years between the finding of the right and college graduation or the suitable wedding
Now it is important for the happy, well-rounded to enjoy each phase of life in its completeness. All of us know some who have missed a phase or have too long in a phase. For example, we all know people who have stayed tied to Mama's apron strings. We know other young people who dated too and settled down with one member of the opposite sex too soon, etc. The wise young person will enjoy each stage to its fullest while readily accepting the new one when it is time for it to come.
This cycle is for a purpose. If followed carefully it make it much easier for a young person to find "right one." If these cycles are abbreviated, it leads young people to become so emotionally prematurely that they will have to do get married or break up. This is sad, for in cases the two would have married and should married, but had to break up because of premature emotional involvement and forfeited each other for life. The wise young person will accept life's cycles as they come, not prolonging one or reaching out to grasp one prematurely, but will accept each one as it comes, enjoying it to its fullest and happily going to the next.
HOW NOT TO CHANGE
Several times in the Bible we are admonished not to remove the ancient landmarks which our fathers have set. The Psalmist said, "I shall not be moved." All of us know institutions such as churches and schools that have changed and deteriorated with the passing of the years. The sad thing is that this deterioration takes place unknowingly. The Bible says that Samson did not know his power was gone from him. The reason for this is that Satan does not change us suddenly or dramatically. He moves the landmarks a little at a time until we change unknowingly. As slow as the hands move on a clock so Satan leads us to deterioration and apostasy. If we do not succumb to his tactics, it will be because we have a carefully planned program of resistance. Many things should be a part of that program.
1. Analyze and know ingredients. When a victory is won, carefully relive the ingredients of victory. When a defeat is suffered, carefully analyze the ingredients of defeat. When a person has a good day he may or may not know why he had a good day. All of us have come home at night living on top. Before retiring it would wise for us to analyze the day. If the ingredients of day made for a good today, they will no doubt for a good tomorrow.
When one has a bad day he should not just mark it until he analyzes carefully what he did, how he it, where he went, with whom he was, etc. He can by avoid such a combination of ingredients tomorrow all the tomorrows.
When we know the ingredients of both success and we will be able to place together the proper If this recipe is used regularly, victory can be regularly. Institutions as well as individuals reexamine and investigate the means and circumstances that led to success and plan the future accordingly.
2. Know your pattern of behavior. Usually we react the same way to the same stimulus. There are certain that make us mad; there are certain things that us sad; there are certain things that make us If we can intelligently relive our sadness, our and our gladness, we can utilize the stimuli us to react with some degree of consistency. This will enable us to continue using the same stimuli, just as we continue using the aforementioned recipe. The individual or the institution thereby be somewhat predictable because he has learned the way to arrive at a desired end. To be sure, we are
human, and human beings do not always react to the same stimulus the same way. However, there are basic stimuli that will usually cause the same reaction and the same response. We should know these and avoid those that cause us to change for the bad. We should make friends with those which have done us good before.
3. Do not judge by the changing of others. Far too many of us judge right or wrong on the basis of our distance from wrongdoers. Hence, as the world changes we change, staying exactly the same distance behind the world, for to us right and wrong is a relative thing in comparison with those who do wrong and with those who do right. For example, it is sad to see the skirt lengths of Christian young ladies rising just because the skirt lengths of the world are rising. We are very careful, however, not to be like the world. We just want to stay the same distance behind them. In doing so we change! As the world gets worse and worse we can find ourselves the same distance from the world and yet be worse now than the world was before. If it was wrong for young ladies to show their thighs 10 years ago, it is wrong today. This is only an example. There are many others. Because of this philosophy, we change and don't know we are changing, because we are judging ourselves by the distance we keep from the world's standards and not by what is right and what is wrong to do.
4. One should not expect to change. Do not accept the philosophy that it must be done in these days and that since it is harder to live right, we cannot live as we always lived. The very fact that one expects to change is a part of the changing.
5. One should know the difference between improvement and change. Improvement comes on purpose; change usually comes unknowingly. Improvement is usually enjoyed by the careful whereas change is enjoyed by the careless. Institutions do not deteriorate because they plan to deteriorate. They deteriorate without realizing that the process is taking place. They are like a boat without an anchor. It place. They not appear to be moving until we find it far from shore. There are certain anchors that the Christian institution should lower. The anchor of the Bible, the anchor of the deity of Christ, the anchor of will of God, the anchor of soul winning and other such anchors will help to keep us from drifting.
Improvement comes by making a habit of the good. Change and deterioration come by just supposing that everything must be all right.
6. One should weigh himself every day. The clock s a minute a day will in 60 days lose an hour not set daily. The individual or institution is not weighed daily and whose compass is not daily will soon find itself way off course and spiritual health. One should check his position to be sure that he is not off course.
One of the sad things about the Christian life is that not become dissatisfied with a little bit of The best housewife hates a speck of dirt. The best mechanic hates a spot of grease. The best husbandman hates one locust. The best preacher hates hates one sin. The best judge hates one crime. The best athlete hates one defeat. The best doctor hates one germ. The best botanist hates one weed. The best musician hates one unharmonious note. The best writer hates one grammatical error, and the most consistent Christian hates to veer one degree off course. Because of this, the land must be surveyed every day. Our spiritual height must be measured everyday. Our course must be charted every day. Think of all the things the Apostle Paul did daily. He died daily, and he buffeted his body daily. The wise Christian will make a daily check on his position. The wise Christian institution will check its position every day, not in its relation to other institutions, but in its relation to what it was when God blessed it most and to its nearness to the purpose of its founders.
Look at the great liberal universities which were founded by fundamental people and financed by fundamental dollars. Their change did not come dramatically. It was a slow, gradual evolution. Even the most astute of its leaders did not realize a change was taking place. The landmark was moved so slowly it could not be seen, and yet one day the institution awakened to find itself asleep, came alive to find itself dead, found enough fight to find itself in darkness, walked straight enough to find itself crooked, had just enough health to find itself incurably diseased and had just enough strength to find itself too weak to recover. Beloved, let us not let Satan do this to our institutions. Let each of us that is connected with a Christian school or church check itself constantly to see if just a little deterioration has set in. Let us go to the doctor before we get cancer. Let us cure its pimple when it first begins and not lament its death later.
All of this is to say that we should hate mistakes; we should hate wrong. Clean the garment the moment it is spotted. See the doctor at the first sign of temperature in order that we may avoid following the path of institutions who were founded as we were founded and who one day held the exact position that we now hold and yet who gradually and unknowingly died.
7. Before eliminating a weakness one should see what is on the other side connected to it. It may be that the very weakness which we eliminate is not a weakness at all, but rather a necessary part of For example, one who is tenacious may appear to be stubborn. One who is confident may appear to be cocky. One who is zealous may appear to proud. One who has conviction may appear to be bigoted. So often in our sincere desire to improve ourselves we roll into spiritual surgery to remove something that appears to be bad but which is connected to the very thing that makes us unique and successful. This is often caused by egocentricity and is self-introspection. Many institutions and individuals deteriorate because they become disenchanted with the very qualities that are necessary for success. Let us say with the Psalmist, "I shall not be moved," and let us guard daily the landmarks lest they be moved so gradually by the enemy.
Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out
Numbers 32:23, "But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out."
Most preachers with evangelistic fervor have preached from this text. The normal interpretation is that overt sins will be found out and that the day will come when sins will be uncovered. This is a Bible truth, but it is not the primary teaching of this passage.
The Israelites were about to cross over Jordan and enter into the Promised Land. The tribes of Rueben and Gad came to Moses and asked special permission. They asked if they could stay on the east side of the Jordan where the land was fertile and was very suitable for the cattle and sheep possessed by these two tribes. They said, "Bring us not over Jordan."
Moses realizing that God had commanded them to drive out the enemy from Canaan refused to grant this permission. He said, "Shall your brethren go to war and ye sit here?" He would not let them avoid the battles on the west side of the Jordan in order to enjoy the luxury of the fertile land on the east side of the Jordan.
The problem was resolved by the men agreeing to a over Jordan and fight. They would build sheepfolds for their cattle and cities for their families. The wives, children and cattle would remain on the east side of the Jordan while the men crossed the Jordan to the battle. The agreement was that when the war was over the men would return to their families and cattle. Moses accepted this plan but warned them that if they did not go forth to battle, if they did not cross the Jordan River, if they did not fight, God punish them. He said, "Be sure your sin will. out."
Some of the members of the tribes of Gad and are still alive today. In fact, America is full of these loafers who say, "We are tired of fighting. Let our victories in the wilderness. It is time for and enjoy the fertile plains on the east side ." Oh, these people still go to church. don't want to fight. To be sure, on Sunday be fed. They want sermons to feed their y eat the fat and drink the sweet. They .1he table for the best wine. They tuck their napkins around their necks and say, "Feed I Feed me! Feed me!" but they do not want to fight. The battle rages on the other side of the and while the fighting is going on they want to stay on the east side and "feed the sheep." They love their conferences, their worship services, their sevenfold amen and their anthems. They even love their Bible studies and deeper-life conferences, yet they never turn a hand to do anything in the battle. They gird no armor, grasp no sword, hurl no spear, throw no stones, shed no blood, render no sweat and weep no tears.
If a church has no invitation, they shriek in horror, yet if all the converts who came forward were theirs, there would be no need for an invitation. If the church cancelled all its visitation program, they would be angry, but they never show up for one. If the church never baptized any converts, they would classify the church as being dead, but they never lead a convert to the baptistry.
These goldbricks talk about being crucified with Christ, yet they have no scars in their hands, no spear in their side, no jeering mob, no angry critics, no thorns on their brow. They have no pain. They suffer no heartache. They do not want to be called fanatics, and yet they glibly talk about being crucified with Christ.
This crowd of deserters often know much about the Bible. They often know truths that God doesn't even know, and they find things in the Bible that God didn't put there. They can tell you all the types concerning what the beasts stand for; they can tell you the symbolic meanings of the leg on the beast, the foot on the leg, the toe on the foot, the nail on the toe and the polish on the nail. They want victories with no battles and crucifixion with no pain.
One of these AWOL's came to me in Toccoa, Georgia, one time, looked at me through spooky eyes and said, "Dr. Hyles, you strike me as being a very deep Bible teacher. Do you know what 'the horse' in Revelation 19 stands for?"
I said, "Yes, I do."
She excitedly asked, "What?"
I replied, "A horse."
She looked through dejected eyes and said, "It mentions that the horse is a white horse. Do you know what the spiritual significance of that color ?
I replied, "Yes"
She excitedly said, "I knew you would! I knew you would! I knew you would! What does the word 'white' mean ?
I replied, "That's the color of the horse."
All across America these loafers are causing trouble in soul-winning churches. Practically every faithful, soul-winning, Bible preacher is hounded by these hoards. They gravitate to committees and shun soul as though it were a plague. If a preacher fights sin, he is a legalist. If he leads as Moses did, he is a dictator. If he loves souls, he is shallow. If he has zeal, he possesses wild fire.
These Monday-morning quarterbacks never make a tackle, never complete a pass, never kick a field goal, never block a kick, never make a first down and never win a game. They simply sit in the stands and cheer those who run off sides, are guilty of unnecessary roughness and boo the one who makes the touchdown. These modern Korahs would think the of the Red Sea too spectacular. They would hate sensationalism of Joshua making the sun still. They would suggest that the feeding of 5,000 was carnal and certainly would classify Pentecost as an emotional experience not worthy of a morning worship service. These Diotrophes grow nurseries of weeds, sow spiritual crab grass in the Of all the soul-winning churches in America. They are watch-gazers during the invitation. They are notoriously against the bus ministry. They oppose being scattered abroad everywhere, and if 3,000 got saved today, it would be no Pentecost, it would be a holocaust
They are termites who eat away at the foundations c.' our churches. They are buzzards circling the field to pull at the carcass of new converts. They are parasites who live on other's toil. They are polecats who spray their odor on every church member who gets close to them. They are serpents who shoot deadly venom at every soul-winning church and pastor in America and cockroaches who infest every member of the church on whom they can crawl.
The truth is no Christian has a right to be at peace during the war. No Christian has a right to stay on the east side of Jordan and enjoy the luxury of the fertile plains while the rest are fighting on the west side.
Should I be carried to the skies, On flowery beds of ease,
While others fight to win the prize, And sail through bloody seas?
No, I must fight if I would gain, Increase my courage, Lord!
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word.
Am I to receive and never give? Am I to eat and never feed? Am I to wear and never clothe? Am I to drink and never offer a cup?
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a war on! On which side of the Jordan do you dwell? We, like the Israelites, are to cross the Jordan and fight the battles until the battle is over and we can return to our families and see the face of our Saviour and hear Him say, "Well done."
HOW NOT TO BE OFFENDED
Psalm 119:165, "Great peace have they which love and nothing shall offend them."
churches and schools are plagued with and by who are easily offended. Each of us should be on guard against this deadly enemy of , the school, the Christian and the Saviour.
1. Stay in the Word of God. Psalm 119:165 teaches there is a way that we can rise above being Notice the words, "nothing shall offend them." Read the Word, memorize the Word, love the Meditate upon the Word, live in the Word and can be had over this adversary.
2. Do not look at criticism as being personal. Years ago I learned a little exercise that has helped me tremendously. I decided to look upon my critics as broken rather than as bad. When my watch breaks I do not fight back and throw it against the wall. When my radio breaks I do not become angry at it. I decided that when people criticize me, it is not because they are bad; it is because there is a broken part. This does not mean that they should be discarded any more than the radio should be discarded. They need to be fixed.
Then I also realized that I too sometimes am broken.
3. Do not love because of the object. Love should be caused by the condition of the heart of the lover, not the attributes of the loved. God does not love us because of what we are; He loves us because of what He is. May He help us to be like Him in this respect.
Being human, it may be somewhat difficult for us to love the unlovely as much as we love the lovely, and the degree of our love may be determined by the degree of loveliness. However, the presence of our love should not be so determined.
4. Do not want things or position. Most of our hurt feelings are caused by disappointments in not receiving things, acclaim or position that we had wanted or craved. The less one wants the less he will be offended. The more one wants for others, the less he will be offended. The only real want or craving a Christian should have toward others is an intense desire to help others. Remember, Christ has no alternative but to love the unlovely, the unloving and often the unloved.
5. If your critic is your inferior, allow that he has not been privileged to know what you know. Give him some leeway.
I am a very criticized man, probably one of the most criticized preachers of this generation. I try to allow that a person can dislike me and still not be bad. We are so constructed that a person could be mean to the rest of the world and good to us and we think he is good, or he could be good to the rest of the world and mean to us and we would think he is bad. There are many people who have not had the teachings that you and I have had. They do not even know the truths that we are now sharing. No one criticizes because he cannot ride a bicycle or a child he doesn't know trigonometry. Why should we have our feelings hurt by those who have not been privileged to learn not to be critical?
6. Do not have a lot of unplanned fellowship. Do sit around and talk. Soon it will lead to talking people. Someone has said that great minds talk ideas, good minds talk about things, and weak talk about people. When planning to get to-with other Christians, plan the activities. Do not sit idly and talk idly. There is a grave temptation too much about people. Maybe this talk is not bad, but once we idly talk we are tempted to talk about people, and once we start talking about people, we are tempted to say bad things about them.
7. Do not retaliate to those who try to offend you, unkind to you or who criticize you. I was in Tampa, Florida, at the airport. I had a couple of hours and decided to eat a bite. When I entered the coffee shop a waitress asked me if I wanted a booth.
I said, "Yes, ma'am."
She asked me if I wanted a menu.
I said, "Yes, ma'am."
She came in a few minutes and asked me if I was ready to order.
She looked at me, threw her pad down on the table and said, "Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am! Don't you know any other words besides 'yes, ma'am'?"
I looked up and replied, "Yes, ma'am." She stormed off and from then on treated me as rudely as I have ever been treated. Finally she came back and literally threw my bill at me. The bill, as I remember, was nearly $2. In fact, I think it was $1.67. 1 left a $5 tip on the table. As I was paying my bill, the waitress came running with the $5 and said, "Mister, you dropped some money as you left." She handed me the $5 bill. I looked at her and said, "Dear lady, don't they tip at this restaurant?" Her lips quivered. Her eyes moistened as she said, "Do you mean, sir, that you left me a $5 tip after I had been so mean to you?"
I said, "Little lady, you are not a bad woman. I can tell you have a burden, you have a heavy heart. I hoped that I could brighten your day." She began to weep and tell me a story of how her husband had left her. She had no money and had to go to work as a waitress to make ends meet and to feed the children. I told her of a Saviour Who loves her, and she received Him as her Saviour.
About an hour later I was walking through the airport and happened to meet this waitress. She smiled and said, "Hello."
I asked her, "Do you feel better now?" whereupon she said, "Yes, ma'am!"
Memorize Psalm 119:165. Believe it. Practice it and let nothing offend you.
HEAR AND DO
Deuteronomy 30:11-14, "For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
Verse 12 closes with the words, "that we may hear it." Verse 13 closes with the words, "that hear it, and do it." Verse 14 ends with the t thou mayest do it." Notice that the hearing is left off there. Perhaps the dear Lord is saying to us that He has told us twice to hear and do and that is enough hearing; it is now time to do!
America is full of these who hear and never do. Hundreds of thousands of our church members have heard until their ears must ache, but they do nothing for God. Beloved, the Gospel is not a treasure to be buried, but a treasure to be carried. The Gospel is not an anchor to hang in the boat house; it is an anchor to carry on the boat and be used. It is not food to store in the cellar but food to share with others. It is not a garment to hang in the closet but rather a robe of righteousness to give to others. It is not a weapon to display in a museum; it is a sword to be used in battle. The Gospel is not a lagoon for the feeding of ducks; it is a river that is to flow to the entire world. It is not a relic to be examined; it is a redemption to be spread. It is not an ascetic experience to be enjoyed; it is an estatic experience to be shared. It is not a request to come, but a command to go. It is not a small reading light, but a bright headlight.
Listen to the Word of God. Psalm 143:10, "Teach me to do Thy will, 0 God." Notice this does not say, "Teach me to be in Thy will, 0 God," but "Teach me to do Thy will, 0 God."
Philippians 4:13 reminds us that we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us. The Apostle does not say, "I can bear all things through Christ." He did not say, "I can be all things through Christ," or "I can know all things through Christ." Certainly these are also true, but he carefully chose to say, "I can do all things through Christ."
In Acts 9:6 the newly converted Saul of Tarsus, who is someday to become the great apostle Paul, asks, "What wilt Thou have me to do?" His first question was not, "What wilt Thou have me hear?" "What wilt Thou have me to learn?" or "What wilt Thou have me to be?" but "What wilt Thou have me to do?"
In James 1:22 we are admonished to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. In James 4:17 we are told that to him who knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
John 14:12 reminds us, "Verily, verily, I say unto e that beheveth on Me, the works that I do do also; and greater works than these shall he I go unto My Father." Note that we are works of Jesus. God's people are to do some did not say the facts that He learned we are the teaching He taught we are to teach, the that He went we are to go. Now these are true t the great fact is that we are to do what He 1:1, "The former treatise have I made, 0 , of all that Jesus began both to do and notice that Jesus began to do and to teach. to do and to teach. Notice the do comes before teach. Beloved, the Word of God is not an be defended; it is a weapon to be used.
We have enough great preachers; now we need doers. We have enough great teachers; now we need some great doers. We have enough great singers; now we need some great doers. Perhaps we ought to change the ordination paper of a preacher from "Ordained to preach" to "Ordained to do."
We have many Christians whose favorite Scripture is Psalm 23. Perhaps we need some whose favorite is Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatsoever thy hand do, do it with thy might; for there is no device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."
We have many Christians whose life's verse is Romans 8:28. Maybe some ought to choose as their life's verse, Matthew 28:19, 20. Perhaps we ought to life verses like Daniel 12:3; Proverbs 11:30 and John 9:4, "I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work."
Maybe we have preached enough on the Sabbath Day, and it is time to emphasize the other six days. Perhaps we have stressed too much the day of rest when we ought to stress more the six days of work. Maybe our favorite song ought to be, "We'll Work 'Til Jesus Comes," instead of "Asleep in Jesus." Maybe we ought to sing less of "Sweet Peace, the Gift of God's Love," and more of "Sound the Battle Cry, See the Foe is Nigh, Raise the Standard High for the Lord." We have emphasized the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, and well we should. Why doesn't somebody now emphasize the power of the Spirit!
We have dwelt on the woman at the well. Now perhaps we ought to dwell on the woman in town who left the well and went soul winning. Maybe we have talked too much about David's harp and not enough about David's sling. Maybe we have emphasized to our young people too much the importance of making a straight "A" instead of making a straight way to tell sinners how to be saved.
Maybe we have been holding the fort too long; we should take some forts. Maybe we have been gathering around the Word too much when we ought to get the Word and gather around sinners.
We have heard and heard; row it is time to do. What are you doing for God? How long has it been since you won a soul to Christ? Do you teach a growing Sunday school class? Do you have a bus route? Do you go soul winning every week? We have heard. Now it is time to do.
HIS NAME IS JEALOUS
The Italian leaders once asked Leonardo daVinci to submit drawings for a public building. They also asked a young man named Michaelangelo to do likewise. The authorities were pleased at the paintings submitted by Leonardo daVinci. They were overwhelmed by the beauty of those presented by Michaelangelo. It is said that Leonardo daVinci became so jealous that it almost wrecked his life. Though jealousy is not acceptable or admirable in the life of a good Christian, it is, however, an attribute of God. Exodus 34:14, "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, Whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God."
Several times in the Scriptures we find that God is jealous. See Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24; and Joshua 24:19. God was constantly reminding His people of His jealousy. He reminded them thusly as they began their journeys to Canaan, when they built God's house, as they prepared to enter the land of milk and honey, and when they possessed the land. Nahum 1:2 reminds us that God is jealous. Zechariah 1:14 tells us that He is jealous for Jerusalem. Zechariah 8:2 reminds us that He is jealous for Zion. He is jealous when we give others His titles. Matthew 23:8-10. He is jealous as He sees idols, as He sees us counting beads, going to confessionals, kissing toes, climbing sacred stairs, bowing at worship centers, having formal services and putting other things and people in His place. He is jealous of other gods. Since He is the only God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, He cannot endure any creature to wear His crown, sit on His throne, hold His sceptre or wear His royal robe.
Put yourself in His place. Suppose you made the heavens and the earth and then the creatures you made were more interested in worshipping dead wood or a frog or a beetle or the vermin of a muddy river than they were in worshipping you. God once saw such and with holy contempt said, "They have mouths but speak not. They have eyes but see not. They have ears but hear not. Noses have they but smell not. They have hands but handle not. They have feet but walk not, neither speak they through their throat."
Do you wonder at His jealousy? Look at Dagon falling before the ark of the covenant. Look at the plagues of Egypt when God paralyzed the objects of their worship. Look at Baal being broken. See Jerusalem burning and people going to battle because of idolatry. See the walls of cities falling because God's people turned to other gods. Look at Ashtaroth being consumed by fire. See the temple being leveled and Mount Zion trodden under foot by the Gentiles because of idolatry. Search the ruins of Babylon and pagan Rome. Behold the heaps of Nineveh and stare at the broken temples of Greece. God is full of indignation when He sees relics, images and shrines. He is angry when He sees people bowing before images, praying before a crucifix or adoring a rotten bone. Much of the world is a graveyard of temples, shrines and yesterday's religions because God will not share His throne with another.
Yet one does not have to go to far away pagan lands to find idols. The crib is made a shrine. A wife can reign as goddess. A husband can wear God's crown. Young people can bow at the altar of pleasure. The businessman can idolize his money. The athlete can worship his sports. Pagan universities can bow before the humanistic god of the mind. A preacher can bow before his denomination.
What is that thing or that person in your life which makes God jealous? Is it clothes? A girlfriend? Education? Family? Church? Denomination? God wants all of you, and He is jealous if He does not have all of you. God will not be "King for a day." He will not be the hors d'oeuvres; He wants to be the entree. He will not be the introduction: He must be the entire book. He will not be a vestibule; He wants to be the building. He will not be an ornament; He wants to be the wardrobe. God will not be a moon-lighting king on a part-time throne. His palace cannot be a duplex.
God wants us. Why He does only He knows. He loves us. He is jealous for us. Let us give Him our all.
When I was a student at East Texas Baptist College, I took a course in Pastoral Theology taught by the President of the college in the college chapel. It was basically for preacher boys.
Every Monday morning we would give a report of our activities for the weekend. On this particular Monday morning, I was as happy as a young preacher can be. I had accepted my first pastorate the day before. It was the Marris Chapel Baptist Church of Bogata, Texas. It had 19 members and my salary was $15 every two weeks.
That particular Monday morning I situated myself on the front row at the end of the row so I could be asked first for the weekend report. Sure enough, the teacher looked at me and said, "Mr. Hyles, what did you do over the weekend?"
I stood to my feet and said, "Dr. Bruce, yesterday I was called to pastor a little church up in the country." Dr. Bruce said, "Sit down, Mr. Hyles!"
I couldn't understand what I had done wrong. Each preacher who had a report to give spoke until the reports were over. With tears in my eyes I looked at Dr. Bruce and asked what I had done wrong. Why had he told me to sit down and rebuked no one else?
Dr. Bruce looked at me very soberly and said, "Mr. Hyles, you said that you were called to pastor a, 'little' church up in the country. Mr. Hyles, there are no little churches!"
I learned something that day that I have never forgotten. May I share it with you today.
1. God uses little people. Who killed Goliath? David, the least likely son of Jesse. Who led the Israelites with a band of 300 men to defeat the enemy? Gideon, the smallest boy of the smallest family of the tribe of the smallest nation in the world. Who gave birth to the great Moses? A little slave lady named Jochebed. Who pointed Naaman, the captain of the host of Syria to Elisha? A little maid who attended Naaman's wife. Who rimmed the Mediterranean Sea with the Gospel and became the greatest missionary the world has ever seen? Paul, whose name means "little." Who was the greatest giver mentioned in the Bible? A little widow who gave her two mites, but they were all that she had. Who took two continents and lifted them closer to God? Dwight L. Moody, with a ninth grade education and saved when he was a shoe store clerk in Boston. Who brought revival to America at the turn of the century looked like all was lost? A drunkard named Billy Sunday, who stumbled into the Pacific Garden Rescue Mission and received the Saviour.
There were many wealthy and great men living in Palestine at the time of the birth of our Saviour, yet His birth was announced to humble shepherds watching their flocks by night. There were many of various and profound learning living in and around Bethlehem; yet it was the ears of simple men who heard the announcement first. It was to humble sheepherders that Heaven's choir sang.
There were many ascetics who had left home to fast and pray in the desert, yet it was not their ears that heard the announcement. It was not their eyes that saw the angels, it was not their arms who cradled the Christ child. It was not their lips that kissed His brow. It was not their home where He was born or at their table where He sat. The greatest news the world was ever given or ever heard was sung to lowly shepherds as they watched their flocks on Judean hills.
2. God uses little places. At the birth of our Saviour there were palaces, estates, hotels and universities, yet it was a manger that cradled the Christ child. It was hay that padded His crib.
Where was the last supper eaten? In an upper room. Where was the power of Pentecost prayed down? From that same upper room. Where was David found? Tending sheep. Where was Gideon found? Behind the winepress threshing wheat. Where was Jesus buried? In a borrowed sepulchre. Where were most of the epistles written? From a jail cell. Where was Moses when he was called? On the back side of the desert. Where was Dwight L. Moody discovered? In a shoe store.
Yes, God uses little places and does great things in them.
3. God uses little things. Someone came to Michaelangelo one time as he was painting and asked him why he spent so much time on trifles. He replied, "Trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle." Little things are important. God used the little lunch basket of a little lad to feed 5,000 people. He used an ox goad in Shamgar's hand to slay 600 Philistines
and win the battle. He used the rod of Moses with which to part the Red Sea and bring water from the rock in Horeb. Jesus used mud from which to make medicine to heal blind eyes. Jochebed used an ark in which to protect the greatest of all the Israelities.
Years ago Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., came to our house. Becky, who is now married and the mother of two children, was three years old at the time. She came toddling to the living room. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., reached in his pocket and took out a carton of assorted Lifesavers and gave it to Becky. She reached into her breast and took her heart and gave it to Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. He took time for her that day. She loved him. She never forgot that gracious deed performed by this great man. She often spoke of Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. and that package of assorted flavor Lifesavers. Ten years passed. I was speaking at Bob Jones University for a few days. Dear old Dr. Bob was getting up in years and was getting rather senile. He was me and came to me. He asked, "How is Becky?" I couldn't believe my ears. Could he remember her name after ten years? Could he who is now getting senile remember a little three-year-old girl?
I replied, "Dr. Bob, Becky is fine. She will have her thirteenth birthday next Saturday. By the way, Dr. Bob, you are her
favorite preacher. She has loved you ever since you visited our house that day and gave her a package of assorted flavor Lifesavers." A tear moistened his eye, and I think I saw a quiver in his lip.
The next Saturday on Becky's thirteenth birthday a package came addressed to Miss Becky Hyles. It was postmarked from Bob Jones University, Becky excitedly opened it and what did she find? A carton of assorted flavor Lifesavers! Little things are important.
When our Saviour rose from the dead, He took time to fold the graveclothes. When He died on the cross, He took time to be sure His mother was cared for.
4. Little tasks are important. Everything was important to Jesus. He could have preached a sermon on the mount every morning, but He did not choose to do so. He could have stilled a storm every evening, but He did not choose to do so. He could have been transfigured every day, but He did not so choose. Every day He could have fed 5,000 people, but this He did not do. He could have ascended to Heaven every night and come back the next morning for His work on earth, but He decided against such a procedure. He took time to talk to one woman beside the well, to one man at midnight, to one Zacchaeus up a tree, to one blind Bartimaeus beside the Jericho road.
Yes, every task is important. You say, "But I'm only a mother. I'm only a Sunday school teacher. I pastor just a small church." Remember, God can use little people in little places with little things doing little tasks to perform great works and miracles!
KEEPING BUZZARDS AWAY
Rizpah had lost two sons in death. In order that the fouls of the air did not eat their bodies, she positioned herself by the dead bodies of her sons and protected them from the carnivorous creatures who were circling with inflamed appetites. II Samuel 21:10.
When God told Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son, God wanted to confirm it, so He told Abraham to take a heifer three years old, a she goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle dove and a pigeon and lay them side by side on the altar. This Abraham did. God was going to confirm His promise by allowing fire to fall and consume the sacrifices.
Abraham takes the sacrifices and lays them side by side on the altar, but wait! He sees vultures. Where could they have come from? This he did not know, but he saw them hastening to their prey. Look at old Abraham spring into action. With the vigor of his youth he drives them away and positions himself to protect the sacrifice. We too are to protect the sacrifice and are to drive away the buzzards.
1. The sacrifice of Christ. These vultures who are after the sacrifice on the altar are not all dead. Let a church spring up carrying the message of Calvary, and watch these carnivorous creatures collect to criticize. Let a preacher become aflame with evangelism, and watch these buzzards buzz and burn and bellow and bark. Let a church find its altars filled with new babes in Christ and its buildings begin to bulge, and watch these fouls flock to flay.
This is the great object of attack by our enemy. He attacks the sacrifice of Christ. Beloved, we may differ on baptism and still be brethren, but we cannot differ on Calvary and still be brethren. We may differ on communism and still be brethren, but we cannot differ on Calvary and still be brethren. We can differ on prophecy and still be brethren, but we cannot differ on Calvary and still be brethren. We can differ on predestination, healing, sanctification, or even denomination and still be brethren, but we cannot differ on Calvary and still be brethren.
Notice Genesis 15:11 calls them fouls. These who would take away the bloody sacrifice are not called reverend but fouls. They are not called brethren but fouls. They are not called rabbi or pastor or father or minister, but fouls. God calls them what they are. May we do likewise to these who have disarmed God's infantry, sealed the gates of hope and nailed shut the windows through which the light of the Word of God wants to shine.
Notice that we are to chase them off. We are not to join their church, belong to their ministerial association, share communion with them, attend their schools or call them reverend. We are to chase them off.
Some of these buzzards are found in college classrooms. Others are found behind high school desks. Still others wear seminary robes. Some even stand behind pulpits. They lodge in the branches of the kindergarten waiting to destroy the faith of our children. They hide on the limbs to deceive the lambs. They hover the trees in our high schools to destroy the teens. They wait at the matriculation desk at the university to shipwreck our youth. They hide with flocks of doves and appear as doves in order to peck away at the sacrifice.
One of these kites called me on the phone one day. He is a pastor of a church. He asked me if I could spend some time with him instructing him on how to build a Sunday school. I asked him if he believed in the virgin birth.
He said, "No."
I asked him if he believed in the vicarious death of Christ.
He said, "No."
I asked him if he believed the verbal inspiration of the Scripture.
He said, "No."
He asked me if I would instruct him about Sunday school growth. I said, "No!"
He replied that I had a bad spirit. I told him I did not have a bad spirit toward him but toward his work. I told him, "I am set for the defense of the cross and the Christ of the cross." I told him if he ever had a flat and I saw him on the street, I would help him fix the flat. If he were hungry, I would feed him. If he were naked, I would clothe him. If he were in trouble, I would help him, but I told him when he got up to preach the next Sunday and denied the Bible, the virgin birth, the new birth, the blood atonement, and the cardinal truths of God's Word, I hoped he would get hiccups!
When I was a little boy my mother used to hold the Bible up before me and say, "Son, this is the Word of God." She would make me repeat it after her several times. She would say, "Son, say, 'The Bible is the word of God."' I would say it over and over again, night after night, week after week, month after month.
Several years ago I was asked by a nationwide Christian magazine to debate with a liberal and have that debate published in the magazine. This I did. When the debate was over, the liberal preacher complimented me by suggesting that I had a pretty sharp mind. He then asked me how a man with a mind like mine could still believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus is God's Son.
I looked at him frankly and said, "Because I'm scared of Mama!" Then I said, "If you had a mother like mine, you wouldn't be a heathen either!"
Beloved, when these ravens come to pick away at the sacrifice of Christ, make light of His Word, His atonement, His virgin birth and the foundations of the Gospel, we ought to love them but their false teachings and their works should make our blood boil, our cheeks flush, our eyes moisten and our fists clench!
Let us stay at the sacrifice and fight off these fouls who teach an earth with no creation, a Gospel with no good news, an altar with no sacrifice, a cross with no atonement, a Christ with no deity, a Bible with no inspiration, an eternity with no Heaven, a Jonah with no whale, a Noah with no flood, a Daniel with no lions' den, \a Hell with no fire, a kingdom with no King, a death with no resurrection, and a salvation with no regeneration!
There is, however, a danger. We can become so enchanted with fighting off the buzzards that we spend our entire life chasing buzzards only to find ourselves away from the sacrifice. Abraham was not in the buzzard-chasing business He was in the sacrifice-protecting business. Let us never forget the reason we are to keep the fouls away from the sacrifice is to keep the message straight so it can be preached and people can be saved.
Recently while preparing these thoughts I was flying from Philadelphia to Chicago. The stewardess brought a meal. As I began to eat, a fly circled the landing strip with a desire to sit at my snack bar with me. I drove him away. Why? I was protecting the food. I had nothing in particular against the fly. I didn't even know him and as long as he would leave my food and me alone, I would leave him alone. However, he so irritated me by continuing to share my lunch that I tried to kill him. Soon I forgot I was protecting my lunch and got busy trying to kill the fly. I even turned around to try to get him. I did get him only to find when I turned back to my food that two other flies were feasting because of my folly.
This is what so often happens to preachers. We get busy fighting communism off the sacrifice and we leave the sacrifice and chase communism. We get busy fighting the sex education program off the sacrifice and we spend our hives fighting the sex education program. We leave the sacrifice in order to fight its enemies and leave it unguarded. Let us not leave the sacrifice or other birds will come.
2. The sacrifice of self. Romans 12:1, "1 beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." No sooner is a Christian off his knees at the altar until some buzzard offers him a drink, tells him a dirty joke, offers him some dope or a cigarette, or laughs at his Christian faith. No sooner does a person receive the Saviour until he finds some raven criticizing his church or some kite showing him the kingdoms of this world and offering them at a reduced rate.
Beloved, let us give our lives to the guarding of these sacrifices-the sacrifice of our Saviour on Calvary and the sacrifice of our bodies on the altar of service for Christ.
IS TEENAGE LOVE REAL LOVE?
"Oh, that's just puppy love."
"I felt that way about a lot of boys when I was your age."
"You'll get over that; it's just a passing thing." "I know how you feel; I was your age once." "You're not old enough to love really; it's just teenage infatuation."
These are statements every teenager has heard many times, and most teenagers hate to hear them. A few days ago I was talking with one of our teenagers and this subject was brought up. The young lady asked me if a teenager could have real love or is it true that all love by teenagers is puppy love? I answered that I definitely believe that a Christian teenager can have real love. I do not agree for a second that a teenager cannot have the real thing.
I proceeded to talk with the young lady about teenage love. Now, I am not talking just about love for a boyfriend; I'm talking about love for God, love for friends, and, yes, love for a boyfriend or for a girlfriend. I do believe that a teenager can have the real thing.
What is the difference between the love of a teenager and the love of an adult? The difference is only in the quantity, not necessarily in the quality. Two people can be drinking orange juice. One can have a small 4-ounce glass; another can have a large 12ounce glass. They have the same thing quality-wise, but there is a difference in the quantity. The teenager can have the same quality love as the adult. Of course, with the passing of years he can increase his quantity of love. The teenager's devotion to Christ, to his friends and to his family can be just as real as it will be in adulthood. He will find, however, that he will get more of this real love as the experiences of life allow his container to become larger.
Many times I ask young folks to wait to get married until they are out of their teens. This does not mean that it is impossible for them to love the young man or the young lady with real love. It does mean that it would be better for them to wait until they have more love to offer each other. This is why the writer wrote, "More love to Thee, 0 Christ." He did not write, "Better love to Thee, 0 Christ." To be sure, there are many people who have "puppy love," infatuation, etc., but these people can be adults as well as teens. All of us need to be sure that we examine our love for its quality, but this examination should not be conducted only by teenagers; it should be conducted by people of all ages.
Yes, teenager, your love for Christ, for your family and for your friends may be immature, but it does not have to be. You can love Christ with a love as real as the love I have for Him. You have the privilege before you of having your cup grow larger so that you can give to love's objects even more of that pure love which you now have.
This means that teenagers should refrain from certain expressions of love such as holding hands, kissing, embracing, becoming engaged, getting married, etc. until they have as much love as possible to offer love's object. It does not mean, however, that we should minimize the love of a teenager because the quantity is not at its fullest.
THE HAIR OF HIS HEAD BEGAN TO GROW
judges 16:22, "Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven."
Samson was not a Jewish "Jolly green giant." He was no gullible Goliath. He was no retarded Hercules, nor was he an overweight Romeo.
The truth is Samson was one of the great spiritual giants of the Bible. No wine nor strong drink ever entered into his mouth. He belonged to the most consecrated group, the Nazarites. Of him it is said, "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him," more than of any other man in the Old Testament. He was brilliant. He thought of the idea once of tying the tails of 300 foxes together. He set them on fire and let them loose in the grain fields of the Philistines.
He was strong. He once took the jawbone of a donkey and slew 1000 men.
He was a great leader. He ruled Israel as a judge for 20 years. No president has ever held office that long in the United States.
Yet, sad to say, he fell into sin. He lost his hair and his power. The Philistines put him on exhibit at a great festival and public sacrifice to Dagon, their pagan god. The great temple of Dagon was filled to capacity and 3000 were on the roof. They gouged out the eyes of Samson, bound him and made him grind at the mill.
Picture Samson going round and round at the mill. Suddenly he feels the top of his head. With complete shock and delight, he becomes aware that his hair is growing again. He begins to feel stronger. The load seems lighter. Though his eyes will never see again, his hair can grow again, his strength can return and his power can come back to him. He will never be the Samson he once was but God can use him again. He is weak now, but he will fight again.
Peter is cursing and denying the Lord now, but he will preach at Pentecost and see 3000 people saved. Job is proud now because he stood for God and went through the persecution, but he will be revived and once again give God the glory He deserves. Jonah is running now, but he will return and preach one of the great revivals in history in the city of Nineveh. John Mark is in Pamphylia now, turning back and leaving the first missionary journey, but he will feel his hair growing again and regain his power and write one of the four Gospels. Jacob is cheating now but he will return to ask forgiveness and become a prince in the sight of God. Thomas is doubting now, but he will return and believe that Jesus is his Lord and his God. He will give his life in service in the country of India. David is committing his awful sin now, but he will return and become the greatest king ever to sit on the throne of Israel. James and John are seeking the best seats now but they will rise again and become pillars in the New Testament church. Abraham is lying about Sarah being his wife now, but he will return from Egypt to become the friend of God.
The gushing wells may be stopped for a season, but soon the living water will gush through again. The beautiful tree in the forest will lose its leaves, but when spring returns, it will begin to bud.
Samson feels his hair growing again. He laughs and cries and prays and laughs and cries and prays for one last victory. The hair does grow. The power does return. The time comes when he asks a lad to lead him to the two middle pillars of the heathen temple. He gives one last prayer to God and he asserts one last lunge. He drags the pillars; the roof falls and all the people are killed. Samson also is killed and as he looks in the face of his Lord he possesses victory.
Is someone reading this who was a Sunday school teacher but lost his power? Feel the top of your head. The hair may be beginning to grow again. Is there one who was a soul winner but has drifted from God? God can use you again. Is there one who was a bus worker who now is on the shelf? Maybe your hair is beginning to grow again. Rise up, ye Samsons, and enjoy other victories. God has them for you!
THE FIRST STEP TO GETTING
I am grateful to God that many years ago as a young preacher I learned how to get things from Him. During my early college days, in addition to taking a full academic load in school, I pastored a country church which was located 100 miles from the campus and also worked 40 hours a week at the J. C. Penney Company in Marshall, Texas. There was a young lady named jean who worked in the hosiery department and was also a fine Christian young lady. One day jean came to me and asked if I would speak the following Sunday at a small church where she attended. She then informed me that the church was pastorless and that the following Wednesday they were to vote between two brethren, both of whom had candidated. She informed me that I would not be a candidate, but that the church was in need of a supply preacher for the following Sunday. Since the church was close to Marshall I agreed to fill the pulpit the following Sunday. Of course, I had absolutely no intentions of candidating for the church since I was told emphatically that the membership would vote the following Wednesday evening to call one of the two brethren who had candidated.
The following Sunday I preached with liberty and blessing and assured the people that I would pray with them concerning which of the two brethren they should call. To my complete surprise the voting went as follows: Candidate # 1-17 votes; Candidate #2-9 votes; Jack Hyles-27 write-in votes. However, there were some unusual circumstances surrounding the election. Only one adult voted for me and that was Jean's mother. I received 26 votes from children and teenagers, one from a lady and none from the adult men. The teenagers had secretly launched a campaign to elect me as pastor. The moderator was so infuriated that he delegated to the teenagers and the one lady who voted for me the responsibility of informing me as to the result of the election. It was late at night when the kids accompanied by the one chaperone bounced into our apartment to announce that I had been elected pastor of the church by a vote of 27 to 26.
Though the vote was certainly an unusual one, it was nevertheless according to church rules, and with the passing of every day I felt more and more that God was leading me to accept the call, even though at the same time I had a unanimous call to a larger church. After several days of prayer and deliberation and after much warning and threatening from certain leaders of the church, I felt God calling me to give an affirmative answer and to become pastor of this small church.
The first day as pastor, I slipped into the pastor's study with apprehension mingled with hope. I had never had a study before. I opened my Bible quite casually and my eyes fastened on Ephesians 3:19, " .. . that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." Realizing that was exactly what I needed, I fell to my knees and began to thirst for something that I knew I needed in order to be what God wanted me to be as a young pastor. I was thirsty, so thirsty, and the longer I pastored and the more I preached, the more thirsty I got. I realized that I needed something upon my ministry that I did not have. I did not know it then, but I know now that the first step to getting things from God is to get thirsty.
1. Thirsty for the power of God. There are many prerequisites for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the first of these is to be thirsty. Isaiah 44:3, "For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring." I went to the Word of God with my thirst and found that the men that He had used in the Bible were men who had the power of the Holy Spirit upon them. I read the story of Jacob in Genesis 32. 1 was impressed as I read the account of his all-night prayer meeting and his fervent wrestling with God for His power. I was arrested especially by verse 26, " . . . And he Jacob) said, I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me." Jacob had pleaded with God all night and soon the blessing came. God's promise to him was that he would no longer be called Jacob, but rather "Israel," which means "a prince." Jacob became a prince with God because he prayed for the power of God. As I read this my heart began to burn for the power of God to be upon my ministry.
As I continued my search through the Scriptures, I affixed my attention on judges 6:34, "But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon . . . " judges 14:6, "And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him (Samson)." I Samuel 11:6, "And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul." I Samuel 16:13, " . . . and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David." Isaiah 40:31, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." My heart continued to burn, and my soul became even more thirsty than ever.
I searched the New Testament and found that Luke 3:16 records the message of John the Baptist as he said, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." I was impressed to learn from Luke 4:1 that even Jesus had to be filled with the Holy Ghost. I then began to read such phrases as, "the promise of the Father," in Acts 1:4; "filled with the Holy Ghost," in Acts 2:4; "baptized with the Holy Ghost," in Acts 1:5; "be endued with power from on high," in Luke 24:49; "the Holy Ghost is come upon you," in Acts 1:8; "1 will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh," in Acts 2:17; "Be filled with the Spirit," in Ephesians 5:18. 1 realized that God was simply making me more and more thirsty all the time.
A quarter of a century later that thirst still builds. On the mirror of my bathroom at home I have the words, "Pray for power." just inside my briefcase the same words are found. On the windshield of my car I have the words, "Pray for power." I have placed the same words on the desk at my office and on the mirror in my office. Thousands of times a week I pray for the power of God.
Still thirsting I went to the college library and began to read the lives of great men upon whom rested God's power. I read of Savonarola, who in Florence, Italy, sat in his pulpit for five hours refusing to preach until the power of God came upon him. The power did come and the people were convicted by his Spirit-filled preaching.
My heart began to burn and the thirsting increased as I read of the great George Fox, who began to thirst for something he did not have. He went to a priest and sought his help, then to another and another. One priest suggested he try marriage. Another offered the solution of joining the army. Another said he should try tobacco and hymns. Nothing seemed to satisfy; the thirsting remained until this founder of the Quaker movement went alone for 14 days. There he fasted and prayed until the power of God came upon him. People who saw him upon his return said that there was a heavenly glow about his face and a heavenly power about his manner. Again my heart burned and my soul hungered and thirsted for something I did not have.
An old country preacher was once praying for the power of God. He cried, "Lord, give me the unctim.90
Someone asked, "What is the unction?"
He answered, "I don't know what it is, but I know what it ain't!"
This was my plight. I did not know what the unction was, but I knew what it wasn't, and I knew that I did not have it. Hungering and thirsting for something, I began to read the life of John Wesley. I read how that on October 3, 1738, Wesley had an evening meal with George Whitefield and 60 other preachers. After the meal they went to prayer and prayed until three o'clock in the morning. Wesley said that it was there that the power of God came upon him, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Again I thirsted. Then I turned to George Whitefield for instruction. I noted from his biography that on June 20, 1736, he was ordained. It was at his ordination that he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He said that when Bishop Benson laid hands on him there was such a surrender in his own soul that he knew for the first time the power of God was upon him and that he was filled with the Spirit.
I fell on my face and said, "Oh, God, whatever it is, I hunger and thirst for it."
Then I read the biography of Dwight Moody. My heart burned as he related his experience of being filled with the Spirit. He told how that he was walking down Wall Street one day and was overcome with the power of God. He asked God to withhold His power until he could get alone. He borrowed the room of a friend and there saw his life completely transformed and the fruitfulness of his ministry multiplied. I then read of George Mueller, who said that he was filled with the Spirit the first time he saw Christians on their knees in prayer. He fell to his knees and God's power came upon him. I read the great biography of Charles G. Finney, who said that he was filled with the Spirit on the same night as his conversion. Peter Cartright told of how he was anointed as he preached his first sermon. Christmas Evans was riding on horseback as an old-fashioned circuit-riding preacher when suddenly the power of God came on him. He fell off his horse, knelt and was anointed. My soul craved to know in reality the great power of God that is available for His people.
I heard of the great Billy Sunday and how he was filled with the Holy Spirit. It is said that on his pulpit his Bible was always opened to Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
I read of the life of R. A. Torrey and of others who spoke of an anointing of God upon their ministries. Soon I found myself praying all night. I found myself wandering through the East Texas pine thickets crying, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" I was begging and pleading for God to do something to me. I did not seek for tongues. I did not seek for perfection. I sought for some supernatural power that would move men while I preached and bring them down the aisles professing faith in Jesus Christ. Finally one morning at daybreak I fell on my face after praying all night and cried to God saying, "Dear God, whatever the price, I'm willing to pay it. I must have the power of God!"
In just a few hours my phone rang. It was a long distance call from Dallas, Texas. A male voice said, "Reverend Hyles, my name is Smith. Your dad just dropped dead with a heart attack." (My dad was a drunkard, and today is buried in an alcoholic's grave.) I slumped to my seat and remembered that just a few months before, my dad had promised me that he would be saved soon, and now all hope was gone! After his funeral I went back to his grave. There I fell on my face and promised God that I would wait before Him on the grave of my dad until I was endued with power from on high. I do not know how long I stayed, but I do know that it was for many hours. Some have even suggested that it was for a few days.
I lost all awareness of time as I begged and pleaded with God for His power. I know not all that happened. I do know I did not speak in tongues. I know I did not become sinlessly perfect, but I do know that for the first time in my life, soul-winning power came upon my ministry, and for the first time in my life I knew what the apostle meant in Ephesians 5:18, be filled with the Spirit."
The blessed and wonderful truth about all of this is that it is available for everyone. Joel 2:28, 29 says, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit." Note the words in verse 28, "1 will pour out My Spirit on ALL Flesh." Notice in these verses that it is for sons and daughters, old men and young men, servants and handmaidens. All cannot be dynamic, but all can be thirsty. All cannot be attractive, but all can be thirsty. All cannot be humorous, but all can be thirsty. All cannot be learned, but all can be thirsty. The promise is in Isaiah 44:3, "1 will pour, water upon him that is thirsty."
Once a fine young couple went to adopt a child from an orphanage. Their eyes focused on one little girl who was so lovely. Their hearts were knitted to hers immediately. Soon she came to their home to live. She had her own room, her own bed, her own toys. The first afternoon her mother called her in and offered the little girl a big glass of milk.
The little girl held it in both hands and looked up to her mommy and asked, "Mommy, how deep may I drink?"
As a tear rolled from the mommy's eye, she said, "Sweetheart, you are not an orphan anymore. You have a mommy and daddy. You have a home. Drink it all, and when that is gone there is plenty more where that came from."
Far too many of us look up to God and say, "Dear God, how deep may I drink?" His heart yearns for us to drink it all and be filled with the Spirit.
In a southern city there was a pastor who received word that an old lady in his neighborhood was near starvation. He went to her home to check on her condition, only to find that there was no fuel, no electricity and no food. She was literally starving to death. The pastor began to inquire concerning her family. He found that she only had one son and he lived in South America. The pastor asked the lady if the son ever wrote her, whereupon she replied, "No, he never writes."
"How long has it been since you have heard from him," asked the pastor.
She answered, "Oh, I get a green card from him the first of every month, but he never writes."
The pastor then excitedly asked, "What did you do with those cards?"
"Oh," she said, "I papered the back bedroom walls with them. That is all they were good for."
"Let me see the walls," asked the pastor. The old lady feebly led the pastor to the back bedroom. He took one look at the walls and said, "Lady, you are rich and don't know it. These are money orders. For years you have been papering your bedroom with them. If you just had known, you could have cashed them in. You are wealthy and do not realize it."
Such is the case with every Christian. God has so much for us. He has so many blessings to give us, so many souls to win through us, so many battles to see us through. Most of us are rich and don't know it. Oh, for the breath of Heaven to settle upon us, and for us to cash in what is rightly ours as we thirst and thirst and thirst for the power of God!
2. Thirsting for success. Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Of course, success inevitably follows the power of God, for that is the purpose of the power of God. The fullness of the Spirit is not to give us some kind of a happy feeling. (Of course, the happy feeling will come as a by-product.) The fullness of the Spirit is not to give us some kind of self-edification. It is to give us the power of God that we might win people to Jesus Christ and thereby have success in His work. There is a real need for God's people, and especially God's preachers, to thirst for success. Of course, this is not a selfish thirsting, but rather a thirsting for trophies to throw at Jesus' feet.
Dr. Greg Dixon is Pastor of the famous Indianapolis Baptist Temple. Many years ago he became the pastor of a little handful of people in Indianapolis, and this handful of people has become one of the largest churches in the world. One day while talking with Dr. Dixon I asked him what he felt caused the success. He said with real humility, "Dr. Hyles, I wanted it more than anything in the whole world. I wanted more than life itself to build a great work for God in Indianapolis and to reach hundreds and thousands with the Gospel. It had been my entire life." No wonder God is giving him such blessings; he was thirsty!
One night some years ago I was preaching in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at the Salem Baptist Church. As I was speaking, two handsome young men walked in. They were impressive in their appearance and carriage. After the service they came to the front. One of them reached out his hand and said, "Dr. Hyles, my name is Jerry Falwell. I am Pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church of Lynchburg, Virginia. Could we take you to the airport?" I answered him in the affirmative. As we drove to the airport Pastor Falwell asked me question after question. I began to realize that he was thirsting to do a great work for God. He invited me to his church and again I saw this same hungering and thirsting and quest for the work of the Lord. Other pastors have testified that they saw this same attribute in Pastor Falwell. He was thirsting to be blessed of God and to build a great work. He did not claim to have all the answers, but in his humility, he inquired of every successful man he met as to the causes for success. It is no wonder that he has built under God the great Thomas Road Baptist Church which is one of the world's largest. He was thirsty, thirsty for success, thirsty for God's blessings.
I have pastored five churches. Three of them were great churches. The Grange Hall Baptist Church of Marshall, Texas, was a great country church. I pastored there for three years and three months. The first Saturday night after I became pastor of this church I knelt at the altar and opened my Bible to Psalm 1:1-3. "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." My eyes were fixed upon the last five words, "Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." I then promised God that I would walk not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful. I promised Him that I would delight in His law and meditate therein day and night. I then claimed His promise that whatsoever I did would prosper. I claimed a great church out in the country. God gave us that great church after days and weeks of thirsting, all-night praying and pleading with God.
The same procedure has been followed through the years as I have thirsted for success to the glory of God.
ON BEING A MAN
Most Americans agree that one of our great needs is to develop men of decision and leadership. This article will not attempt to exhaust the information on this subject nor will it even be repetitious of other articles this au' thor has written along the same line. It will just be a few thoughts gathered one morning while thinking and walking and walking and thinking. Maybe these thoughts will help some boy to become a man, or for that matter, some man to become a man.
1. The man should fill every need that he sees. Men should be need-fillers. Any need should become a challenge.
In the army some men become officers because they attend Officer's Candidate School and still others become officers because of an emergency that arises on the battlefield. Perhaps the commanding officer is suddenly killed or injured. At that point some enlisted man rises to the occasion, takes the place of leadership and spontaneously fills the position of an officer. This kind of promotion is usually the wisest one, for to be a leader one must consider every need a challenge and must become a need-filler.
2. A man should correct every mistake he sees. A leader is always a fixer. Something broken should become a challenge. Bill Harvey once said to me, "Brother Jack, do not go to Italy." I couldn't understand what he meant. I asked him, "Why shouldn't I go to Italy?" He said, "The Leaning Tower of Pisa is there, and you will try to straighten it up." Of course, he was kidding and yet in a sense this should be the reaction of every leader. If something is broken, fix it. Do not ever enjoy seeing something broken. If a 2' x 4' is in the road, move it. Accept it as your own responsibility to fix everything you see broken. This will help one to become a man.
3. A man should do well everything that he does. No job is an unimportant job. The right kind of leader is a perfectionist.
It would be wonderful for every Christian, and especially every leader, to take Ecclesiastes 9:10 as his life's verse. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." What the writer is saying is that everything we do, we should do it with all our might. Certainly this should be true about the leader, whether it is playing sports, working at a job, rearing children, building a church or whatever it is, we should give it all that we have. This is masculine and will help one become a man of decision and leadership.
4. Strength will listen to and consider the advice of others. One of my preacher boys once said, "I'm old enough now not to need counsel or advice. I don't need to ask Brother Hyles what he thinks any more. It is time I became man enough to make my own decisions." This statement itself is a statement of weakness. Weakness cannot stand up in the face of counsel. It must avoid counsel. Strength can stand counsel and insists upon receiving it. This does not mean it will always be taken, but it does mean that it will always be considered. Certainly this is part of becoming masculine and a manly leader.
5. Masculinity insists on being the giver, not the receiver. When I think of this I think of my late Uncle Harvey Harris, who was a dear friend and a wonderful man of character and leadership. He wouldn't eat if he couldn't pay the bill. He couldn't enjoy a meal if someone else paid for it. This to an extent is true in the case of any strong leader. He gets more joy in giving than receiving. Of course, this goes back to the same teaching of fixing things that are broken, providing for things that are needed, etc. Leadership is on the fixing end, the giving end and the supplying end; leadership enjoys it more than being on the receiving end.
6. The leader would rather do the work than get the title. Accomplishment is always better than title or position. Recently while I was in a college class I picked out one of the most famous churches in America, one with history and tradition. I asked the college class to tell me the name of the pastor. Less than 10 percent knew his name. I then called off the name of a church that is just a few years old that has had phenomenal growth. I asked the members of the class to tell me the name of that pastor. All of them knew his name. This was to illustrate that it is far better to do the work than to get the position. One man had done a great work and was well known. The other man had accepted the pastorate of a church with great tradition and history and consequently held a great position but was not so well known. Real men are not desirous of position or fame. They are desirous of an opportunity to do something for God and for others.
7. To be a real man one must obey himself. He must develop his will in order to make his body and mind obey his will. The most rebellious person to me is me. The leader must obey his will. He must say to his body in the morning, "Get up." He must say to his body sometimes, "You can't eat now." Other times he must say, "You can't eat that particular food." He certainly cannot rule others until he can rule himself. This is why the wise man said that he is greater that ruleth his own spirit than he that conquereth a city.
8. A leader should not use as his ONLY right for leadership the fact that the Bible gives him authority. For example, the Bible does say that servants should obey their masters; citizens, their leaders; wives, their husbands; and children, their parents, but the wise leader will accept his place of responsibility, not only because it is given to him Scripturally, but he will want to be strong enough to merit the place of leadership.
These thoughts are nowhere near exhaustive; they are simply a few thoughts I had while meditating down a path in the woods one day.
GIVE ME THY HEART
Proverbs 23:26, "My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways."
Isn't that a strange request? God is using the words, "Give Me." Usually, we are the ones who say, "Give me," and now the table is turned. This is not the creature saying to the Creator, "Give me," but rather the Creator is saying to the creature, "Give Me." The great Benefactor becomes the petitioner. The great Giver becomes the receiver. The Landlord becomes the tenant. The Provider becomes the beggar. The Satisfied becomes the seeker. The Door seeks entrance. The Living Water thirsts. The Bread of Life is hungry. The Way gropes for your heart. The Prince of Peace fights to get you. God wants your heart.
Why does God want our hearts? There is only one possible reason: He loves us! There is nothing that He needs that we have apart from our love. He is too rich for us to make Him richer. He is too great for us to make Him greater. He is too good for us to make Him better. He is too strong for us to make Him stronger. He is too glorious for us to give Him more glory. If we gave Him all of our goodness, it wouldn't make Him any better. If we gave Him all of our riches, it wouldn't make Him any richer. If we gave Him all of our strength, it wouldn't make Him any stronger. If we gave Him all of our wisdom, it wouldn't make Him any wiser. If we gave Him all of our knowledge, it wouldn't make Him any smarter. If we gave Him all of our glory, it wouldn't make Him any more glorious. If we gave Him all of our greatness, it wouldn't make Him any greater. If we gave Him all our power, it wouldn't make Him any more powerful. He simply seeks after our love. That is why He made us. He wanted somebody to love Him and to fellowship with Him voluntarily. It seems so strange that we should not gladly accept this offer when the great omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent God wants our hearts.
It is so necessary that the Christian give his heart to God first. To give wealth without giving the heart is abomination. To pray without giving the heart is mockery. To sing without giving the heart is sounding brass and tinkling symbol. To work without giving the heart is insult. To teach without giving the heart is ignorance. To preach without giving the heart is hypocrisy. To serve without giving the heart is fraud. To witness without giving the heart is perjury.
Years ago I faced the reality that I would never be a great orator or scholar and that I did not have great talent. I did, however, realize that I could do one thing as well as anybody. I could give God all my heart. He has a right to my heart and He has a right to your heart, for He gave His heart to us. When He died on the cross, a soldier pierced His side, and the Bible says there came forth blood and water. Doctors tell us that this means the heart had ruptured. He died of a broken heart. He gave you His heart; He wants yours. He says to you today, "Give me thy heart." The happy Christian responds in the affirmative.
DO IT WITH JESUS
Song of Solomon 5:1, "1 am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, 0 friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, 0 beloved."
The most important word in the Song of Solomon is '.communion." The entire book is written to tell us of the Saviour's delight in being with us and in the delight we should enjoy in being with Him. He reminds us that He loves to do things with us. He reminds us that He likes to do things for us. We are His delight. When He saw us coming to Himself, with the first gleam of faith, He rejoiced. When we got to Him He called all of His friends and neighbors for a feast of rejoicing. He cannot be happy alone. He will not eat unless we eat. He will not drink unless we drink. He loves to do things for us. We are His own.
He reminds us also that He loves to do things to us. As a mother loves to feed her baby and dress her daughter, as a father loves to teach the son, as a lover loves to stir emotion in the object of his love, as a gardener takes pleasure in the growth of his choice plants, and as a doctor delights in a cure, so does our Saviour delight in doing things to His own.
In this beautiful picture we find at least four things the Saviour likes to do with us. Notice He mentions sharing with us myrrh, honey, milk and spice.
Could not the myrrh represent the bitter of life? Jesus is telling us that He wants to share with us the bitter things of life. He wants to go into the operating room with us. He wants to walk the hall and wait with the anxious loved one. He wants to sit with you at the funeral when the dearest of life is taken. He wants to walk with you to the grave. He wants to help you with your financial burdens and sit by you when the baby is sick. He wants to share the room with you at the rest home. He wants to share the bitter.
He also wants to share honey or the sweet with us. He wants to be included in your graduation plans. He wants you to take time to spend with Him on your wedding day. He wants you to share with Him the engagement, the wedding, the coming of the new baby, the new house, the new car.
He then mentions that He likes to share milk with us. This represents the routine of life. He wants to be with the lady as she washes, cooks and keeps house. He wants to be included in the schedule of the man who works at the steel mill, the factory, the office or the shop. He wants to go to school with the child and share the social activities of the youth. He wants to sit and talk to you. He wants you to include Him as you look at a sunset, go to the store, mow the yard, feed the baby, take a test, get a haircut or take out the garbage.
Then He mentions He wants to share spice with us. This could represent the special parts of life. He wants to walk across the platform on graduation day. He wants to go to the locker room and share the victory with you. He wants to rejoice with you when you receive your discharge from the army. He wants to congratulate you when you are promoted at work or get a raise of pay.
It is wonderful that He loves us. It is more wonderful that He wants to be with us. Life will be more enriching for us if we will do it with Jesus.
THE SIMPLE PLACE
I Chronicles 21:28, "At that time when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there."
I Chronicles 22:1, "Then David said, This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of the burnt-offering for Israel."
David was commissioned to build a house for God. There must be a place where the people meet God. David searched for years for just the right place. Finally he rejoiced that he could find it. When he had paid the price, the angel of justice went to a certain spot with his sword sheathed and revealed to David that this was the place.
The amazing thing was that the place was a threshingfloor. It was a large flat rock, probably about 50 feet in diameter, where the oxen trampled out the kernels of the wheat. Could it be true that God is going to build His dwelling place among men on a common threshingfloor? Could it be true that the great temple of Jerusalem would be built on a large, flat rock? Could it be true that the high priest will someday enter into the Holy of Holies on a spot where oxen had trampled wheat? Yes, it is. It seems that God is showing us the dignity of toil and the importance of the simple place. God is saying He needs man at any place. There is no ground that is not holy. There is no day that is not sacred. There is no place where God will not meet man. God met Abraham under a tree, Moses by a bush, Noah in an ark, Adam in a garden, Jonah in a fish, Paul by the roadside, John Bunyan in jail, Jacob on a pile of stones, and Zacchaeus in a tree.
No arch can compare with God's rainbow. No ceiling can compare with the azure blue of the sky. No lamps can compare with the sun and the moon. No chandelier can compare with the stars at night. No masonry can equal the city whose twelve foundations are precious stones.
Make your place a holy place. However common it may be, God wants to meet you there. Meet Him.
THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY
Psalm 91:1, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
In England there used to be a man called "Jack the Huckster," who used to sing constantly, "Im a poor sinner and nothing at all, but Jesus Christ is my all in all." He seemed to have constant composure. They would ask him if he ever doubted, whereby he would say, "I'm a poor sinner and nothing at all, but Jesus Christ is my all in all." Someone would ask him if he ever had any ups and downs. He would simply reply, "I'm a poor sinner and nothing at all, but Jesus Christ is my all in all." He came to church a-rid the pastor asked him to prove his salvation whereupon he replied, "I'm a poor sinner and nothing at all, but Jesus Christ is my all in all." Someone asked him one time if he ever got proud. He answered, "I'm a poor sinner and nothing at all, but Jesus Christ is my all in all. " He was once asked what he did for his needs. His reply was, "I'm a poor sinner and nothing at all, but Jesus Christ is my all in all."
He was right. God has provided for all of our needs. In telling us of these provisions, He uses the figure of speech of a shadow. It is used so often. There are at least four times a shadow is mentioned in the Bible.
1. The shadow of a rock. Isaiah 32:2, "And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." This is the kind of shadow that has to do with hiding in a cave. It is the shadow of salvation.
When I was a kid I used to play in a creek near our house. There was a cave made in a big rock. I would go there in case of a storm. I found safety and refuge. This is the only place the individual can find salvation-in the shadow of the Rock. That Rock is Jesus. Someone has said, "Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me bide myself in Thee." Another has written, "I am hiding in the shadow of the Rock." Someone else said, "On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."
2. The shadow of His hand. Isaiah 59:2, "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear." This is the shadow of security. This takes us to John 10:27-30, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, Which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one." Then it takes us to Revelation 1:16, "And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." We are safe in the shadow of the Rock. We are secure in the shadow of His hand.
When our children were young they would hold onto my index finger as we walked down the street. Sometimes we would come to a mud puddle or a dangerous place and I would hold onto their hands. Sometimes Becky would say, "Daddy, I want to hold onto your hand." She would do so until she stumbled and lost her grip. Finally she realized the best thing was for her to let Daddy hold her hand. This is the case of the Christian. Our security is in the shadow of His hand.
3. The shadow of His wings. Psalm 63:7, "Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice." This is the shadow of safety and it makes us rejoice. David was banished to a barren land. During the storms he saw the birds as they would fly. As he saw them lift their wings high he reminded himself that he was safe in the shadow of God's wings. Oh, busy mother, you can be a child again. Busy father, you can be a child again. Busy pastor, you can be as a tender child of God hiding in the shadow of His wings.
4. The shadow of His tree. Song of Solomon 2:3, "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste." This is the shadow of sustenance. The tree provides shade. The tree also provides fruit.
Ah, praise the Lord, He has for us a shadow of salvation, a shadow of security, a shadow of safety and a shadow of sustenance. Yes, He will supply all of our needs. Let us rejoice in the shadow of the Almighty.
THE CHRISTIAN'S HATE LIFE
General Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, once said he feared the day when the Salvation Army would have a salvation without regeneration, faith without repentance and Heaven without Hell. He could have added "love without hate," for it is impossible to have true love without hate. One cannot love flowers without hating weeds. He cannot love health without hating disease. He cannot love God without hating Satan. He cannot love peace without hating war.
The truth is there is no quality without its opposite. There is no high without low, no hot without cold, no large without small, no tall without short, and no in without out.
There is no merit in a plus without the potential of a minus. There is no true patience without the potential of impatience. There is no true good without the potential of bad. There is no courage without fear, no true gentleness without strength, no admirable kindness without the potential of temper, and certainly one cannot love if he does not hate its opposite and its enemy.
Patience without potential impatience is laziness. Courage without potential fear is recklessness. Gentleness without potential strength is pacifism. Kindness without potential temper is weakness. A smile without a potential frown is unawareness. Love without hate is hypocrisy and is not love at all.
The truth is that one loves as much as he hates. The more a mother loves her child, the more she hates the cancer that would take its fife. The more a gardener loves his flowers, the more he hates the weeds that surround them. The more a mechanic loves his cars the more he hates the rust that paralyzes them. The more a judge loves justice, the more he hates the crime. The more a doctor loves his patients, the more he hates the germs. The more a Christian loves God, the more he hates sin and the things that are antiChrist.
Now what should the Christian hate? He should hate what God hates.
1. He should hate quitting. Psalm 101:3, "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me."
2. He should hate every false way. Psalm 119:104, "Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way." When someone says a person can go to Heaven by good works, the Christian should hate it. Now he should not hate the person who says it but he should hate the false way. When someone says that one can go to Heaven by taking of the sacraments, joining the church or getting baptized, the Christian should find hatred swelling in his heart for the false way. There is no way to love God's way to Heaven without hating Satan's false ways to Heaven.
When I was in college there was a fellow student who was married and had six children. He had not been saved for long and had been saved from a life of extreme wickedness. His vocabulary had been something less than Christian in his past life. Soon after he came to college a small country church called him to be its pastor. One Sunday morning he was preaching on Calvary. He was describing what they did to Jesus on the cross. He blamed this on the devil. He got so mad at the devil that he began cursing him with the most profane language that one can imagine. He cursed and cursed and cursed as the people sat stunned in disbelief.
Suddenly he realized what he was doing. He closed his Bible and walked quietly out: the door, got in his car and drove off. For several minutes the congregation sat silently until the chairman of the board of deacons who was sitting on the front row rose to his feet. He looked at the people, cleared his throat and said something like this: "Folks, I heard what you heard. I have never in my life heard such a display of profanity. However, I have been sitting here for several minutes thinking about what our Pastor said. I have come to the conclusion that he expressed perfectly my opinion of the devil. Now we all know our pastor lived a wicked life before he was saved and though he used words he should not have used, at least we do have a Pastor who hates the devil. Why don't we vote to give him a raise in pay and keep him as our Pastor!"
The congregation enthusiastically endorsed this action. (Now I would not suggest that pastors who read this attempt to secure a raise in this manner.)
I myself do not think the pastor should have used these words, but I do have more respect for a preacher who will curse the devil than I do for one who will ask him to lead in prayer on the platform.
3. He should hate empty ritual. Amos 5:21, "1 hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies."
4. He should hate an evil heart against his neighbor. Zechariah 8:17, "And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord."
5. He should hate lying. Psalm 119:163, "I hate and abhor lying but Thy law do I love."
6. He should hate idolatry. Jeremiah 44:4, 5, "Howbeit I sent unto you all My servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense to other gods."
7. He should hate vain thoughts. Psalm 119:113, "1 hate vain thoughts: but Thy law do I love."
8. He should hate a proud look, a lying tongue and hands that shed innocent blood. Proverbs 6:16-19, "These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
One Sunday morning one of our fine ladies brought a visitor to the services. While I was preaching the visitor looked over to the member and asked, "Who is he mad at?" whereupon my member assured her that I was not mad, it just appeared that I was. After the service I heard about the conversation and I announced that I was preaching the next Sunday on, "I Am Mad, Too." In the sermon I said that the Christian should hate. He should hate the narcotics which is ruining our young people. He should hate the liquor which destroys so many lives and homes. He should hate communism which is dedicated to the destruction of our Christian society. He should hate the atheism and humanism that is pervading our college campuses. He should hate the nudity that is destroying our morals. He should hate the permissiveness which is ruining our youth. He should hate the adult bookstores, the sensitivity parlors, the dirty movie industry, and for that matter, even the sin of his own life that causes him so much heartache.
Yes, the Christian should have a hate life. God does
WHEN LEADERSHIP IS WEAKER THAN FOLLOWSHIP
Years ago when I was in college, some of us preacher boys made a weekly visit to an old, retired missionary who lived near our town. We would listen to him by the hours as he taught us and gave us bits of wisdom and advice.
One day I went to him to tell him that I was quitting school. He asked me why. I told him that I was quitting because so many of the faculty members were weak and seemed spiritually dead. He gave me some advice I've never forgotten.
He said, "Mr. Hyles, I want you to be a complete man. You may already be more of a complete man than any individual faculty member. Perhaps none of the faculty members are complete men, but each of the faculty members is an expert in his own field and there is at least one area where each excels you. If you can learn from each man in his own field, then you can become the well-rounded complete man that I want you to become."
One of the hardest things that followers, especially teenagers, face is the realization that they must sit under people who in many areas are their inferiors and who sometimes can be unreasonable and illogical in their leadership. There are times when a leader is not as good a Christian as the follower. There are times when the leader is inferior to the follower. However, the wise follower will fill his place and follow the leader who has a position that is superior to his.
Every man knows something that I do not know. I must find what it is and learn it. Hence, all men are my teachers. All men are my teachers, for all men know something I do not know.
I have often defined leadership as being one who collects ideas from the followers, compiles them and sends each follower a copy.
When a restless follower shrinks from his obligation to follow his leader, he can develop a bad attitude which will hurt his opportunity for service and harm his future. If he accepts his place of followship, even under a weaker leader, he can learn a tremendous lesson in self-control.
Every follower must realize that it is God's plan for us to have human leaders. If each follower will assume his rightful place, respecting at least the office of his leader, it will help him to become a better leader as God places him in a place of larger responsibility.
HOW LONG DID SHE LIVE?
Several years ago I had two funerals in one day. One was of a sweet, dedicated soul-winning Christian teenager. The other was of a lady who had passed away at the age of 83. She wasn't a Christian, and she had wasted her life in ignoble matters. Someone said at the end of the day, "What a tragedy that the teenager had lived such a short life when the 83-year-old lady was privileged to live such a long one."
I replied, "The teenage girl lived longer than the old lady."
The person with whom I was talking could not understand this. "How long did the teenager live?" I was asked.
"Sixteen years," I replied.
"Well, didn't the old lady live 83 years? asked the other person.
"No," I said, "the old lady lived only a few days. Oh, to be sure, she served more time, but she did not live as long. She breathed longer, but she lived less."
Paul wrote, "But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." I Timothy 5:6. Consequently, the 16-year-old had lived longer than the 83-year-old because she had lived 16 years with a full, packed life.
How old are you? How long have you lived? These answers are not necessarily the same.
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