God Is Calling With a Message for You 10/26/03

James 4: 7-10

JESUS CHRIST, the resurrected Lord of new life, said to the church in Philadelphia, in ancient Greece, that which is applicable to our church today: “I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it…” (Revelation 3:8).

Together, we the redeemed of the Lord who constitute the membership of this fellowship are called “the church”. What is applicable to the church is related to the individual.

First, a word about us. Then a word about you. For how you respond affects all of us, the church.

The Lord is swinging wide the door of opportunity for us to take bold dramatic steps of ministry and service. In His wisdom He is choosing to challenge our faith. In His love He is granting us an opportunity to think big and act bold. No person can shut the door. We can with cowering and timid spirit fail to go through it. Our negative nature can cause us to question and quibble. We alone can cause what the Lord has in mind to fail. We are often our own worst enemies.

God is setting before this church an open door of opportunity. Months ago this church prayed and sought God’s will in selecting a Pastor Search Team. Thus, this process was begun in prayer. It should be concluded that the Lord composed this team in answer to the prayers of all who sought His will.

For months they have prayed, researched, traveled, and interviewed many people seeking God’s will. This church assigned them the task of finding the person they believe to be His minister for this hour. In light of their prayerful search it is reasonable to conclude they have found the will of the Father in this process. For a ?? person team to reach unanimity is a miracle in itself. They now in one accord with great enthusiasm are ready to recommend the person they are convinced is God’s man to lead this beloved church.

If you believe in prayer you have to trust the process and product.

Opportunity will be provided for persons to meet him and his wife and hear him.

The church on September 17 by unanimous vote gave the Pastor Search Team the authority to set the date and time for a special conference to hear and vote on their recommendation. That decision has been entrusted to them and they have exercised there responsibility to the church by setting the date and time.

I want to appeal to every member to focus on what we are doing and not become divided by how we do it. It is being done by the responsible group in the way they are responsible for doing it. Opinions might well differ on how it should be done. Let’s support those responsible for the decision and their decision.

If we are going to be ready to consider moving as a body through the open door we need to be ready spiritually.

James 4: 7-10 lists some steps of preparation we each need to take. Therefore, now comes the practical personal part of this new year’s challenge.

To be ready to go through the open door of opportunity there must be:

A. First, positively. You must “Submit yourselves therefore to God.”

This calls for a conscious willful action on your behalf. It requires you making a choice. Some persons arrogantly refuse to submit themselves. Each of us must respond to the self asked question: “Whom shall I serve, God or myself? Shall I make it my chief concern to do the will of my Heavenly Father, or shall I demand and assert my own way?”

It is said that when Aaron Burr, one of the most controversial personalities in early American life, reached the age of 21, he squarely faced the issue of whom to serve. Resolutely he decided to turn his back on the God of his fathers. As a disgraced murderer, tried for treason and executed his body was laid to rest at the foot of the grave of his grandfather, Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was one of the most revered clergy/statesman of his era. The graves of the two illustrate the difference between one who seeks first the kingdom of God and who chooses slavery to self.

B. Second, negatively. “Resist the devil…”
The devil and his allies, the world and the flesh, have designed and do desire your spiritual destruction.

Resist the devil: Through prayer, Bible study, Regular public worship, Association with friends who are committed Christians

A. “Cleanse your hands” = outward actions

B. “Purify your hearts” = inward attitudes.
Medical science had not progressed in that day. A common concept was that blood carried in it ideas. They became conscious thoughts when the blood flowed through the brain. It was known that the heart pumped the blood. Therefore, it was thought that the heart was the point of origin of all creative thoughts. Hence, an appeal to cleanse the heart was a directive to change the thought pattern. Don’t let your mind dwell on evil ideas. Purify your thoughts by driving out the wrong concepts and ideas with Bible oriented ideas.

A critical negative spirit needs to be purified. If you are going to think the Christ thoughts the mind must be purified of negativism.

A study shows that for every one negative input eleven positive inputs are necessary to counteract it.

There is a new book entitled “The Theory of Twenty-One.” The author shows as a result of research that out of every 21 people, 20 think negatively about everything. Only one is a positive person.

In another book by a different author entitled “Hide-N-Seek”, persons are urged to inventory their 16 closest relatives. Be objective who among them was negative and who are positive. Most persons will conclude they were reared in a negative environment.

Pray to be the “one” among 21.

III. CONTRIBUTION “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep…” (v. 9)
These are 3 evidences of repentance. Don’t waste your pain. Let it be used of the Lord to draw you to Him.

Kuhino Diamond

IV. COVENANT “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord”(Vs 10)
The word “covenant” means an agreement or testimony. Actually, our Bible is divided into a new and old testament, literally, new and old covenants. A covenant is an agreement. Therefore, agree with the Lord that you are going to “humble yourself.”

It can result in a new beginning. “The Land of Beginning Again” by Louise Fletcher Tarkington:
So I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again
Where all out mistakes and all our heartaches,
And all our poor selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old cost at the door
And never put on again.

A renewed covenant will result in guidance.

King George VI of England during World War II made the following words vital in his new year’s address: “I said to a man who stood at the gate of the year – ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.'”

The Lord will guide persons who made a covenant with Him.

Again I say this calls for a willful personal commitment from you. You are called on to make a choice.

George Beverly Shea, a name well known in Christian music, had to make such a decision as a young man. He was offered a significant secular recording contract and a major media job. During the time he was wrestling with this decision the Lord used his Godly mother to help make the decision. She copies 2 verses of Scripture and placed them on the piano. Shea came in and found them and sat for a time meditating on them. Slowly his fingers began to wander across the keyboard as ever so gradually his commitment as expressed in his newly emerging song beloved by millions. He wrote and sang:
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-scared hand.
Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

Beverly Shea made a covenant with God. He decided to follow Jesus and that decision has influenced every other decision he has made.

Make your decision today. “Boast not thyself of tomorrow” (Proverbs 27).

God has set before us an open door in ’01. No person can shut it. You can refuse to go through it, however. Likewise, you can choose to go through it.