Encouragement - "turn to pg 296"
The message I discovered that Dad carefully wrote in his little New Testament Bible is so simple and yet so precious. It is precious to me, of course, because my own Dad wrote it; but he wrote it for himself, not me. It is only God's grace that inspired the Apostle Paul to write his encouraging letters to the church in Corinth, and only God's divine hand that preserved His Word for centuries to encourage us today. Dad was only His instrument; just like Paul.
So, Dad circled verse 17 of I Corinthians 9 on page 296 in his Bible: For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. The Apostle Paul explained this statement in detail clear to the end of chapter 9. We all pretty much understand “of my own will”. Paul was a free man. He was a Roman citizen, which guaranteed him certain rights under Roman law to live his life the way he pleased. He was slave to no man. Americans enjoy similar freedom under our “Bill of Rights” today. Paul chose to share his faith in Jesus. He was not under force to witness - But what about reward?
Paul explained that all participants run a race, but only one wins the prize (verse 24). If the race is run willingly, then the participant is much more likely to win. Win what? In this case, SOULS. Yes, more saved souls are the reward! It’s not for heavenly crowns, positions of honor, medals or status as an Apostle or church leader. Paul’s message of “running the race” for Christ was written in order to encourage every witnessing believer by teaching 1the proper way to do it and 2the right reason for doing it. I don’t know about you, but I am vastly more encouraged by success than by failure. The Apostle Paul is basically saying: Join up and run, but run smart; don’t just run because you learned about “The Great Commission” and feel compelled to serve Jesus. Yes, it is a very big deal, because Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” ~ Mark 16:15
That makes it the highest priority in this life for the believer. Jesus wants us to know that the stakes are high. I firmly believe that Dad was keenly aware of it. Obviously, he was determined to stay the course not only to win the race, but like Paul, to bring more lost souls across the finish line with him.
But do we share our testimony as just a duty, or willingly? Paul cautions, “if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission.” In other words, our Master has commissioned us to perform this duty regardless. Our efforts have less chance of winning souls for Jesus if people see that our words lack enthusiasm. There is no fire in the belly; no burden for the lost. Instead of achieving reward for more souls saved, we are diminished by the less. “I am entrusted” means each believer is accountable either way.
Are our hearts truly burdened for the lost? Even though we have been freed by the blood of Jesus, have we made ourselves a servant to all? Don’t be timid in sharing God’s Word. We can’t all be missionaries serving in foreign lands. God knows that we can sow seeds and reap a harvest for His kingdom right in our own communities. God will provide opportunity because Jesus gave His life for this message to be shared with all who will listen – or not listen. Seize opportunities that the Holy Spirit creates for witnessing. Remember that believers are only responsible to act on opportunities; and then let the Holy Spirit do His work. II Timothy 1:7 is the most encouraging verse to the timid believer: For God has not given us a spirit of fear (timidity in some Bible translations), but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Consider the “Parable of the Pounds” in Luke 19:12-27: A certain nobleman traveled to a far country to receive a kingdom and then return (Jesus). He left ten pounds of money (Gospel) with ten servants. When he returned, he found that nine had increased the master’s money (Shared the Gospel), but one servant had not. He had hidden the master’s pound in a napkin (gotten saved and then kept the Good News all to himself), saying, 21“For I FEARED thee, because thou art an austere man” (excuses and blaming the Master!). The master judged the servant by taking the pound (Gospel) he had entrusted to him and giving it to the servant who had increased his master’s one pound by ten pounds (Evangelist) - Sort of like taking away what few souls may have surrendered to Jesus as a result of one timid believer, and crediting those souls to Billy Graham’s service record. AYIYIYI! When the other nine servants questioned the master’s judgement, 26"He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away.'"
I think I have written somewhere previously that God sets aside those who do not serve Him. After repeated attempts by the Holy Spirit to energize a person to live for the Gospel, that person may resist; won’t let his light shine; has no salt. This grieves the Holy Spirit until God just sets that person aside to live out the rest of his or her life in worldly pursuits; thereby suffering spiritual loss.
I don’t want to be set aside. Thank you, Dad, for circling verse 17 on page 296 of your Bible. Your witness is still bearing fruit!
“If we have Christ, we have nothing to fear when sharing the Gospel. We may not be trained speakers, gifted salesmen, or educated preachers or teachers. But if we’re empowered with the Spirit’s love, we’ll be effective. We can’t win others through our personalities, persuasive techniques, or promotional campaigns, though the Lord can use some of those things. The real secret is the Spirit-empowered love and power, and a sound mind that presents a hope-filled Gospel to a downtrodden world.”
~ Dr. David Jeremiah
Lord, may my witness be as powerful as the blasting shofar; and full of Your love, not “words as a tinkling cymbal”. Give me a fearless and sound mind; that I may recognize and respond to the opportunities for witnessing that You set before me today; and know that I believe in Your call. I am your willing servant. Thank you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
There is more coming soon of Dad’s New Testament message on Encouragement – “see pg 317”. Don’t miss the next part of the message!
Original post at Importantstuff.live on 12/17/2016