Scripture reading, II Chronicles 20:1-29
'These things have a way of purifying us!”
This is what a Roman Catholic priest in Peru had to say when looking at the destruction of the church building where he served. An earthquake had destroyed the building, but the people still came to worship in the street in front of the rubble. I think the devil has been working on tearing this little church down, too, and I think he’s got a reason for it.
At such a time as this, we can look around us and see for a fact that the Gospel needs to go out today just as much as it did a hundred and fifty years ago, as much as it did back when the Wesleys were preaching,, back even in old Paul’s day when the Holy Ghost started off with 120 people (down from over
500 ten days before!) out of about 45 million in the Roman Empire.
Well, we know that before too long there were thousands in Jerusalem, and then in Antioch, and when Paul and Silas showed up in far-off Thessalonica the devil raised up a riot, with people shouting, “These that have turned the world upside down have come here also!”
The Lord wants to raise up a work in this church for such a time as this. Now, for the most part we call ourselves “Protestant.” The whole Protestant thing started when Martin Luther protested against sin in the Church. Today, one church body just voted, among other things, to increase biblical
literacy, and to avoid disciplining clergy who were behaving in such a way that is a shame to even mention in the Church. Another is doing worse than that. I’m not saying this to be shaking a finger at them- those are our sister churches just the same as Israel and Judah were sister nations. We need to be praying for the folks there, because “there, but for the grace of God, go I!” We are in a real battle, with a real enemy throwing real bullets at us. Right now we can see the effects of the enemy fire as some of the churches go so far as to endorse sin, and so many others make out like it really
We can see that we’re under attack. We know that the Lord has assigned us to move out, not just to stay in the bunkers. And we know that He has promised us that, as we move out on the attack, that Hell’s gates would not hold up against us, and that He is with us always.
We have our orders-
“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” What we need is a battle
plan. Let me suggest three steps for us to take.
First, just Love God. Some folks might remember Corrie Ten Boom. The Lord blessed her to survive one of Hitler’s worst concentration camps, after she and her family were reported for hiding Jews. In her speaking ministry later she would often say, “Don’t struggle, snuggle! Jesus said, “Come to me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” “ Come into His gates with thankgiving, and enter into His courts with praise! Be thankful unto Him, and bless His Name!” And when we do, we will,
Love each other: If we really love God, the first way that’s gonna show is our care for each other. John the beloved wrote,, as we looked at last week in John 15:8,
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” And, John 13:35,
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. And Jesus prayed, in His “High Priestly prayer before His arrest, I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
As well as I can understand this, what He is saying is not just that our love for one another, our unity in Christ, proves to the world that we belong to Him- that we’re the real deal, but it is also proof to the world that Jesus is the real deal. On the flip side, if it’s not happening, it’s the same as telling the world that we’re not the real deal, and neither is Jesus!
Love our neighbors: Now we can have all the answers, and praise God we do have all the answers; but we can be right, and prove we’re right, about every thing from godly living to the age of the Universe and not see a single soul won to Jesus; but we could be dead wrong about everything in the world and stuff this building like a sardine can by proving we love folks. How many people here ever get in a hurry to go where they’re not welcome? A lot of us probably even go so far as not going where they’re not personally invited, just to play it safe!
But how many folks might go some place they really weren’t planning on going, just because they got invited? They might say, “Well, there might not be anybody there I thought of as my friend, but somebody thinks enough of me to invite me, so they must be some pretty good folks there!
And don’t let’s be particular! Jesus gave us that message in the story of the Good Samaritan. What was good about him? That he put what was right ahead of how he felt. This was an extreme message back then. Those Jews hated the Samaritans for a lot of reasons, and the Samaritans hated being hated. The first thing that crossed that man’s mind might’ve been, “Oh, good! One less of ‘em!” but he knew what was right, and he did it- He went out of his way to help somebody that probably would not have lifted a finger to help him. And Jesus ended the lesson, saying, “’So that’s how you do it.” He really made it a lot easier for us than that, because He sent the Holy Ghost to confirm to us, and in us, all that Jesus said and did, and Jesus laid down His life for the sins of the whole world. So if the Spirit gives you a nudge during the week to be a neighbor, or to invite somebody to be your guest on Sunday- Just answer any doubt the enemy might throw your way, “If they’re good enough for Jesus, they’re sure good enough for me.
And one last thing, Say His Name!
For one thing, there are a lot of do-gooders and nice folks out there, who don’t mind getting the credit for doing good, and folks do tend to get the idea that it’s all about just being nice. I think if the Church hadn’t set the standard long ago with the whole idea of the “Golden Rule” and all that that most folks wouldn’t even consider stopping to help somebody in need, or carrying folks a casserole when they lose somebody; But the world needs to see the effect of one person who is willing to give Jesus the praise without wanting a share for themself.
Second, it reflects and confirms whose we are. Paul wrote it down in Romans that “..if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Now this verse makes me just a little nervous for the “undercover Christians” who say they believe, but let it stop right there. A word we don’t think about too often, maybe, is sacrament. It’s just a short way of saying the outward sign of an inward grace. What God does on the inside, we live on the outside, to be cooperating with the Holy Spirit. 1st Corin tells us,
“We having the same spirit of faith, ..we also believe, and therefore speak.”
Third, when we give God the praise we are doing something in the Spiritual by stepping out of His way so He can “be God” in that situation. It’s not “about us” anymore, but the Lord of All is now Lord right here and now, and He will honour His Name. Some folks make almost a superstition out of it, but the truth is there, that “God inhabits the praises of His people. What was the “secret weapon” that Israel used in taking the cities of Canaan? --- What group led the armies when they went to war? What weapon did Jehoshaphat use to conquer?
He listened to the Lord's preacher.
And once everybody was in agreement, they all continued to praise the Lord, and watch Him do mighty things to the salvation of His people, and the glory of Holy Name!