Which Road Will You Travel On?
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, enough is enough. Well, you can use that for a whole bunch of things. But today, when I think about that statement, I get to thinking about how much more information, teachings, Bible studies, conferences, consultations and counseling do we need before we will walk in the reality and in truth. You see, when I first came to the United States, of all the places I happened to be here in Dallas, Texas. To my great surprise, I learned that there are over fourteen full-time Christian radio stations, twenty-four hours, preaching every kind of doctrine you can imagine, music of every kind, some music that is old and hymns and then contemporary Christian music. And then you have the latest Christian rock and I mean I still don’t know what they are singing but it’s kind of loud and kind of you know I sometimes think it blows your brains out you know kids like it I guess but whatever it is I mean I can’t believe it. One time I heard a guy saying, if you send me twenty dollars I will send you the information and anointed oil, you can put it on your head and your hair will grow and your problems will be resolved and of course you know you laugh about it.
Believe it or not it’s unbelievable the amount of information we have here, over the Christian radio station from the most conservative, evangelical, radical Christian teachings and preaching, exposition of the Scripture, to some of the most liberal goofy stuff. But when you think about people living in the Indian sub-continent or in mainland China or the Muslim nations, you can’t even imagine that most of these nations do not allow a Christian radio station in their country.
It’s a wonderful thing that today, Gospel For Asia, we are able to air 110 languages, broadcast, to forty nations. And believe me like the people of India we cannot air the gospel from within India but we have to do it from outside the country. Well, the thing I am trying to tell you is that how blessed we are, we cannot even imagine that a nation such as this, that we have such opportunities and freedom and liberty to air the gospel, listen to the gospel.
Well you know I think about something quite interesting. Some years ago we sent out a letter to our friends saying that, if you have books sitting around, Bible commentaries, dictionaries and devotional books and whatever that you are not using, will you send it to us and we will send it to the mission field. You couldn’t believe it, within a few months we had over a hundred thousand volumes, people sending into our office here. And I was quite amazed by that. Just imagine, I mean think about it, how many Bibles do you have in your home? I imagine half a dozen. But would you believe if I told you that possibly half of the world today have never seen one page of the Bible?
So let me go back to the first statement, enough is enough. So the question I ask, how much more teaching and preaching and singing and all the books that are given to you. How much more stuff, spiritual teaching, do we need before we will learn to walk in obedience. As a matter of fact I am quite concerned about it, that is, for a lot of people, information has become spirituality. Knowing about spiritual things they think that will make them spiritual. Interesting isn’t it.
Pharisees in Christ’s day, they knew their Scriptures quite well. As a matter of fact they wrote so many commentaries its unbelievable. We talk about them often and Jesus talked to these people and said, you guys, all of you are going to hell. Well I’m paraphrasing it. The reason he said, you search the Scriptures, you study it, you memorize it, you explain it you teach it and you do all these things thinking that by doing all these things you will find life. But the Scripture talk about me. And you do not want to come to me.
You see my dear brothers and sisters, somehow we as Christians, we often live in this world of illusion, that is, everyday we need to take a few more pills of some spiritual truth to keep us going till the next day. It’s a kind of coffee and a lot of people are addicted to coffee. They just need to drink that thing to keep them going and I know a guy, actually, who seems to walk around always with a coffee cup in his hand. And it kind of keeps them alive, so it is with a lot of people.
Christ of the New Testament calls us to obey and follow in his footsteps. Now the question is this. Why are we not able to do that?
Why after knowing all the truth about prayer, we are not able to take a day or two to be alone with God in prayer?
Why after all the learning about mission work, the unreached people groups, Afghanistan with twenty million people with less than maybe a thousand Christians in that country, no known church. Over a billion people of the world are people of Islamic, Muslim faith. Hard and difficult barriers and one of the most impossible groups to penetrate. And half of the nation of India, five hundred thousand villages still don’t have a missionary nor a church and I mean information like that on and on.
So the question is why are we not moved to tears and have a broken heart to pray and fast and make it our number one priority to get the gospel out through our feeble lives.
I’m not saying, ok give a whole bunch of money that is going to be the answer to world evangelism, no.
I think it is a life commitment of a believer knowing that in a few years I am no more living here on earth. I am a stranger and pilgrim on this earth, I’m walking through this earth and I want my life to count. M
And the model I have is Jesus Christ who is my Lord. And asking the question, how he lived on earth and what is it he’s asking me, and how I must live.
No I’m not trying to put you on a guilt-trip or condemnation-trip or any of those things, but don’t you agree that somehow obedience today is misunderstood as legalism.
Therefore we say, you know what, I don’t want anybody forcing me to do anything, I don’t want to be put on any kind of trip so we reject the whole thing. Well, I want to ask you a simple question, what do you think about the saying of Christ, unless you love me more than father, mother, son, daughter, and your own life, you cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).
In the King James you read, unless you hate your father, mother and so on and all that, who wants to accept those things.
And then one time he said, “unless you drink my blood and eat my flesh you cannot be my disciple” (John 6:53).
One young man came to him who seems to have a lot of money and security Christ said, oh by the way, you can just keep the clothes that you are wearing and sell all the rest, give it away, then you come and follow me, if that’s what you want. Of course, you know he didn’t do that.
No, I’m not trying to promote a legalistic religion. Again, I’m trying to communicate something very simple. That is, we cannot experience the authentic Christianity as its described in the New Testament without embracing the cross, without saying no to the flesh, without saying no to reputation and honor from other people, without saying, you know, enough is enough.
I am going to say no to myself and start paying the price.
Let me say this to you also, in the book of Philippians chapter three, Paul said this: I do not seek my own righteousness, that means, reading the New Testament, or knowing the requirement of our Lord for those who are following him. We can get into the place of working these things out in our own flesh and thus come under the old covenant, which is legalism, which is more dangerous and worse than anything else. So no, I’m not saying, now you say one, two, three, four, five, six, I’m going to do all these things, one, two, three, four I will not do these things, no, I’m saying, being a follower of Christ means, the love of Christ and commitment to him as a person is so pure, so motivating, so energetic, so compelling, that no sacrifice is too much. As a matter of fact, there is such joy in serving him.
By the way, you remember this guy in the Old Testament, his name is Jacob, who can forget him. He fell in love with Rachel, beautiful girl, and he wanted to marry her. Of course the price he must pay was seven years of labor, hard work. Laban, Rachel’s dad said, alright, you can have Rachel but this is what you should do, and Jacob served him like a slave for seven years, and then of course he gets married to find out he got the wrong girl. It was Leah her sister, who was not that good looking, and he gets mad. He said, what on earth have you done to me? Laban says, son don’t worry about it. You want Rachel, ya you can have her but seven more years. So the poor man in love, deeply in love with this beautiful girl, spent fourteen years of his life like a slave working. But the scripture says, all those years looked like just a day because he loved Rachel (Genesis 29:20).
So when you hear about suffering in Afghanistan, or Africa, or the unreached people groups in the Middle East, how do we respond to that? Well, you turn the alarm clock on to wake you up at one o’clock in the morning, not out of, oh man why do I have to do it again, no, you do it saying, Lord, I’m so blessed to have this energy, this freedom, this opportunity to get up and spend a few hours on my knees, praying and interceding for the lost. And you say Lord, I’m so glad that I did not have to take this vacation and spend four thousand dollars climbing the rocks and going to all these weird places, no I have the privilege to give this money to put for Bibles, and send missionaries, and print your Word, and send more radio broadcasts to the unreached people groups. And Lord, these two weeks of vacation I am going to be home in a comfortable setting and be praying that you will do wonders in my world.
You see, it all depends on how we look at our life, and what we are called to do. Are we going to look at it from a carnal perspective, or are we looking at it from His perspective. Amy Carmichael, you know her name, someone who was so devout to Christ, gave her life to serve Christ in India, oh the years she spent in agony, battling illness, pain and suffering, yet she would continue serving her Master without giving up. And what was the motivation? It was not legalism, it was not forced or compulsion or guilt, no, it was her understanding of her Master. No wonder why she said one time, “we have seconds to work, and eternity to enjoy”.
In one of her poems she wrote these words, a prayer by the way:
“From prayer that asks that I may be, sheltered from winds that beat on Thee, from fearing when I should aspire, from faltering when I should climb higher, from silken self, O Captain, free, thy soldier who would follow Thee. From subtle love of softening things, from easy choices, weakenings, not thus are spirits fortified, not this way went the Crucified, from all the dims thy Calvary, O Lamb of God, deliver me.”
My dear brothers and sisters, when we make a commitment to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, may I remind you, you may not have all the friends in the world to inspire you and encourage you because the majority of so called Christendom is still like the world. Yes they are so happy to have their sins forgiven and think about some day in heaven but their lives are just like anybody else in the society, no difference. They gather together for Bible study, of course, study a few words, but the chit-chat and the little things they enjoy, the house, the carpets, the new things they’re buying and selling and you know, all the stuff. No, I’m not against all this stuff but I’m simply asking you, when was the last time someone broke down weeping, saying that, I just saw on the news of people that got killed for the sake of faith in Orissa. I just heard of over a thousand houses being destroyed that belong to the people of God, and I just can’t handle it, let us pray, let us do what we can to touch the lost world.
And again, this is not something that you can make a legal statement and say now you do this you don’t do this. Rather, I would encourage you, to take a few minutes and read through the four Gospels with a pencil in hand and look at the statements of Christ, the kind of life He is asking us, the way we should live. Then if you will, go to second Timothy and read that brief four chapters that Paul writes to this young man, his son in faith. And you know, I read second Timothy I don’t know how many dozens and dozens of times from the age of eighteen I’ve been reading it forever. When you read it you get a sense, in Paul’s writings, Timothy you may be the only person who will do this, but be willing to do it. Let others do whatever they want to do, things are not going to be as you think, but for you my son, stand alone. Count the cost. Be disciplined. Be willing to cleanse yourself from all these dumb, stupid things and be that individual fit for the Master’s service and for His glory.
So today, I ask you, thank God for all the radio broadcasts and television programs and books and concerts and Bible teaching, the open door we have here for the Gospel, don’t reject any of these things, they are all good and wonderful, but may I ask you also to consider these feeble words of mine, maybe a lonely voice somewhere in the wilderness, please listen to me. A hundred years from now, nothing really matters much. Who cares about what degrees you got, how much money you made, what people thought about you, the impression you are trying to make on people and all the other stuff that we worry about.
Hey listen, take more time to be alone with the Lord, learn the art of meditation and be His so completely.
Ask him to break your heart for the things that break His heart. And ask him, oh Lord, let my earthen vessel, this little life, be so completely yours, whatever you want in my generation Lord, do it in me and do it through me.
And if that be the case, I can tell you after forty years of serving my Lord, every single day I realize, today is another day, hundreds of thousands of people will die without knowing my Lord, without ever hearing the first Christmas story, and I must pray for them. I must do whatever I can and make whatever sacrifice, out of joy, knowing that some day I will meet them also in heaven. And our children, our families, our relatives, our neighbours, people that you work with and wherever we are, we are their hope. Our prayers, our life, our words, and our kindness our mercy, our boldness, and whatever we are, let that be Christ for them. And I know you will take it serious and I appreciate your willingness to listen to these words and my prayer is that the Lord will give you grace as you continue to walk with him, and He will, Amen.