Are You Living Your Best Life Yet?

December 16, 2014

Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey | Pastor
First Baptist Church, Spanish Fort, AL

Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), shares the following in My Utmost for His Highest, “Our Lord’s teaching is always anti-self-realization. His purpose is not the development of man; His purpose is to make a man exactly like Himself, and the characteristic of the Son of God is self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain, but what He pours through us that counts.”[1] Augustine of Hippo (354-430) warned, “If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”[2]

Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) said, “The pioneers of the gospel trod the way of blood and tears. Of the three hundred and eighteen delegates to the Council of Nice there were not more than a dozen who had not lost an eye or a hand, or who did not limp upon a leg shrunk in its sinews by the burning iron of torture. They remembered that their Lord invited men to self-denial and a cross.”[3]

In 1709 Dr. Isaac Watts (1674-1748) penned the following words:

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?[4]

 

Allow me to ask three questions.

I. Are you adjusting to the Word of God in your life?
The Word of God is like the “plumbline” mentioned in Amos 7:7-8. Here, Amos writes, “Thus He showed me: Behold, the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand.  And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line.’ Then the Lord said: ‘Behold, I am setting a plumb line In the midst of My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary a “plumb line” is “a tool that consists of a small, heavy object attached to a string or rope and that is used especially to see if something (such as a wall) is perfectly vertical.” Sometimes the Word of God reveals a need for major adjustments in our lives. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reads, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Oswald Chambers explains, “God’s Book is packed full of overwhelming riches; they are unsearchable—the more we have the more there is to have.”[5] Romans 7:7 reads, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’” Paul confessed that the Word of God corrected him.

Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) shares, “Years ago, I read of a man who always wanted a barometer. So, he bought one, a very expensive model from Abercrombie and Fitch, a very expensive, minutely calibrated barometer, to tell the weather. He wanted to set it somewhere in his house, perhaps on his mantle; so, he carefully unpacked it. And, he looked at it, and the needle was pointed to the sector that says hurricane. Well, he shook it. It still didn’t adjust. He shook it again, but the needle just stayed that way. He said, ‘Well, as much as I paid for this thing, and now I have a defective barometer.’

He lived on Long Island, and on his way into the city—he was a commuter—he sat down, and he wrote a scathing letter to Abercrombie and Fitch for sending him a defective barometer. When he arrived back at Long Island, the barometer was gone, and so was his house, because that was 1938, and the great hurricane had come through. There was nothing wrong with the barometer; he just refused to believe that a hurricane was coming. And, may I tell you, my dear friend, there’s nothing wrong with the Word of God: it doesn’t need adjusting; it needs believing.”[6]

Rev. Simon Harvey shares, “On Friday 27 April in 1739, George Whitefield [1714-1770] wasn’t welcomed at St Mary’s of Islington, so he preached in the churchyard instead. He is recorded as saying, ‘It is a poor sermon that gives no offence; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.’”[7] Regrettably, many preachers are adapting their message to please the listener. Every God-called preacher should be more concerned about pleasing the Lord because we will give an account to Him for the stewardship of the Gospel and we are to preach “the whole counsel of God.” Paul the apostle told the Ephesian elders, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). 2 Peter 3:10-18 reads, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.  Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,  looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;  and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,  as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;  but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”

Dr. Harold L. Willmington shares the following on “The Position of Liberalism—Probably the most famous liberal of the twentieth century was the late Harry Emerson Fosdick [1878-1969]. He has written the following words which typify the liberal attitude:

When one moves back to the Scriptures with a mind accustomed to work in modern ways he finds himself in a strange world. . . . Knowing modern astronomy he turns to the Bible to find the sun and moon standing still or the shadow retreating on a sundial. Knowing modern biology he hears that when Elisha had been so long dead that only his bones were left, another dead body, thrown into the cave where he was buried, touched his skeleton and sprang to life again, or that after our Lord’s resurrection many of the saints long deceased arose and appeared in Jerusalem. Knowing modern physics he turns to the Bible to read that light was created three days before the sun and that an axe-head floated when Elisha threw a stick into the water. Knowing modern medicine he finds in the scripture many familiar ailments, epilepsy, deafness, dumbness, blindness, insanity, ascribed to the visitation of demons. . . . We live in a new world. We have not kept the forms of thought and categories of explanation in astronomy, geology, biology, which the Bible contains. We have definitely and irrevocably gotten new ones.[8]

Dr. Norman Geisler shares the following “Postscript” from the pen of Harry Emerson Fosdick: “Fosdick had some serious second thoughts about his view of Scripture. Here is what he wrote a generation later:

Today, however, looking back over forty years of ministry, I see an outstanding difference between then and now with regard to what is standard and who must do the adjusting. What man in his senses can now call our modern civilization standard? It is not Christ’s message that needs to be accommodated to this mad scene; it is this mad scene into which our civilization has collapsed that needs to be judged and saved by Christ’s message. This is the most significant change distinguishing the beginning of my ministry from now. Then we were trying to accommodate Christ to our scientific civilization; now we face the desperate need of accommodating our scientific civilization to Christ.[9]

Remember, we must adapt our lives to the Word of God!
II. Are you adopting the ways of God in your life?
Psalm 81:8-16 reads, “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O Israel, if you will listen to Me! There shall be no foreign god among you; Nor shall you worship any foreign god. I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. ‘But My people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, To walk in their own counsels. ‘Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways! I would soon subdue their enemies, And turn My hand against their adversaries. The haters of the Lord would pretend submission to Him, But their fate would endure forever. He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat; And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you.” Isaiah 55:6-9 reads, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Romans 11:33-34 reads, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?’” Psalm 103:7 reads, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.” How many Christians attempt to determine the ways of God without the Holy Spirit! They merely try to guess about the ways of God and hope they are correct. 1 Corinthians 2:11-13 reads, “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” Proverbs 16:7 reads, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” At this point is important to remember Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Romans 10:17 reads, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” We must never deceive ourselves into thinking that our ways please the Lord if they are contrary to the Word of God.

Revelation 15:3 reads, “They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!” Rev. George Whitefield warns, “If you hate the ways of God, and cannot spend an hour in his service, how will you think to be easy, to all eternity, in singing praises to him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever.”[10] Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) exhorts, “Let us pray for many of our fainting churches—our brethren that are growing weary in the ways of God, that they may be helped, supported, sustained, invigorated by a look.”[11]
III. Are you advancing in the will of God in your life?
My friend, Dr. Michael Ford, former Dean, West Georgia Resident Center of Covington Seminary, and founder of Jonsquill Ministries, Bremen, Georgia, recently shared the following: “Various theologians have different terms they use to describe aspects of the will of God but I like the format expressed in three P’s. It is easier to remember and explain. Those who have great lists concerning God’s will, can actually file them into the three categories I use concerning His will. These are God’s Perfect Will; Preceptive Will; and Permissive Will.

From what we learn in Scripture concerning sin’s impact on Creation we could say not even the cosmos works within the realm of God’s perfect will. But the fact all things exist and remain held together are an expression of perfect will. Most of what we see and experience are within the boundaries of permissive will.  Peter’s statement that God is not willing any should perish but that all come to repentance is an expression of God’s perfect will dealing with man’s imperfect situation. (2 Peter 3:9) The fact man can refuse to obey God’s perfect will for their lives and not become part of the whosoever will of John 3:16 is because God allows man to exercise his will. It falls within the framework of God’s permissive and it is a demonstration of God’s love even in those that perish.”[12]

Romans 12:1-2 reads, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Here are three instances in Scripture where we find the phrase “this is the will of God.” For example, 1 Thessalonians 4:13 and 17 reads, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication. . . . For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reads, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Peter 2:15 reads, “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” When Scripture explicitly says something is the will of God, we must obey, if we are to please God. Remember, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Drs. Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby affirm, “The fundamental premise of Christianity is that God knows what is best better than we do.”[13] Matthew 26:36-39 reads, “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’  And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.  Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’ He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” If Jesus prayed, “. . . nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will,” how much more should we! Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). This is what Jesus would do in every situation, the will of God.

 

Dr. Peter Kreeft said, “The national anthem of hell is, ‘I Did It My Way.’”[14] To go to heaven, you must do it God’s way! “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Paul the apostle writes, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Elvina Mable Hall (1820-1889) penned these wonderful words in 1865:

 

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.[15]

French theologian and pastor, John Calvin (1509-1564), states, “For, until men feel that they owe everything to God, that they are cherished by his paternal care, and that he is the author of all their blessings, so that nought is to be looked for away from him, they will never submit to him in voluntary obedience; nay, unless they place their entire happiness in him, they will never yield up their whole selves to him in truth and sincerity.”[16]

On Monday, April 19, 1742, David Brainerd (1718-1747), the great missionary to the Indians of North America, set apart the day for fasting and prayer. In his journal he recorded, “I felt a power of intercession for the advancement of the kingdom of my dear Lord: and withal, a sweet resignation, and even joy, in the thoughts of suffering hardships, distresses, yea, death itself, in the promotion of it. . . . My soul was drawn out very much for the world; I grasped for multitudes of souls. I had more enlargement for sinners than for the children of God, though I felt as if I could spend my life in cries for both. I never felt such an entire weanedness from this world, and much resigned to God in every thing. Oh, that I may always live to and upon my blessed God.”[17]

Dr. Bob Holman, visiting professor of Social Policy at the Universities of Glasgow and Swansea, explains, “In his last years, [Dr. F. B. Meyer (1847-1929)] declared, “If I had a hundred lives, they should be at Christ’s disposal.”[18]

Are you living your best life yet?

 

[1]Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, “The Sacrament of Sacrifice,” (John 7:38), (London, 1927), September 2 Reading.[2]Chancellor Carlyle Roberts II, We Believe: A Commentary on the Nicene- Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 A.D., (Baltimore, MD: PublishAmerica, 2013), Chapter 15.
[3]Walter B. Knight, Knight’s Illustrations for Today, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1970), 234.
[4]Amos R. Wells, A Treasure of Hymns, (Boston: United Society of Christian Endeavor, 1914), 82-84.
[5]Edythe Draper, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World, #656, “Bible,” Oswald Chambers, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1992), 36.
[6]Adrian Rogers, “Satan’s Superman,” Sermon Notes, (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
[7]Simon Harvey, posted on Friday, April 27, 2012, St. Mary Islington, Accessed: 10/12/14, http://www.stmaryislington.org/2012_04_01_archive.html .
[8]Harold L. Willmington, Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1981), 794.
[9]Norman Geisler, Decide for Yourself: How History Views the Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982), 67-68.
[10]George Whitefield, “A Penitent Heart, the best New Year’s Gift,” Sermon Notes, (Luke 13:3).
[11]Charles H. Spurgeon, “A Comprehensive Prayer,” Sermon Notes, (Psalm 84:9).
[12]Michael Ford, “God’s Will,” Jonsquill Daily, Friday, October 3, 2014, jonsquillministries, (Bremen, Georgia, Jonsquill Ministries, 2014).
[13]Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby, Experiencing God Day by Day: A Devotional and Journal, October 8 Reading, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 1997), 282. Database © 2003 WORDsearch Corp.
[14]Good Words for Today: Peter Kreeft, Accessed: 09/26/14, http://www.keepbelieving.com/2014/09/26/good-words-for-today-peter-kreeft/
[15]Elvina Mable Hall “Jesus Paid It All,” (1865).
[16]John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, A New Translation by Henry Beveridge, Esq., Book One, Chapter 2, “What It Is To Know God – Tendency of This Knowledge,” Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
[17]David Brainerd, The Life of David Brainerd, Missionary to the Indians, with an Abridgement of his Diary and Journal from President Edwards, ed. John Styles, First American Edition, (Boston, MA: Samuel T. Armstrong, 1812), 38.
[18]Bob Holman, F. B. Meyer: If I Had a Hundred Lives, They Should be at Christ’s Disposal, (Christian Focus, 2007), Product Description, Accessed: 10/06/14, http://books.google.com/books/about/F_B_Meyer.html?id=y4FiGQAACAAJ .