“Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love; may each soul be rekindled with fire from above. Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Hallelujah! Amen; Hallelujah! Thine the glory; Revive us again.”
Do we want Revival?
Are we willing to do what is necessary to have it?
II Chronicles 16:9a – “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.”
The word “perfect” in this word is a Hebrew word that means “full, complete, and whole.” It means a person who holds nothing back from God; a person whose “all” is the Lord!
From the very outset tonight I want to ask and I want you to consider:
- Are you the person for whom God is looking?
- Is this church the church for whom God is searching?
- Can we as Southern Methodist be the people the Lord uses to bring the next great Revival to this land?
We began on the first evening laying the foundation by
Defining Faith – The Condition of Our Salvation.
Last night we took the next step in our walk of faith as we began Defeating Sin – The Call for Our Separation.
This evening we are going to encourage you toward the third step of
Declaring Surrender – The Challenge for Our Service.
On our final evening, tomorrow, we are going to lead you into
Discovering Communion – The Channel for Our Strength.
I want to encourage you to not miss our final evening together, for I promise that you will never again look at The Lord’s Supper in the same way. I will also challenge you to prepare for this special service by joining me in a fast. For those of you not accustomed to the practice of fasting, let me briefly explain the what, the why, and the how of fasting. Discern the knowledge of the people pertaining to fasting, then explain accordingly.
Declaring Surrender – The Challenge for Our Service
Tell the story of “Free to Serve God” giving the seven principles by name and subtitles.
1. The Mystery of Our Death in Christ – Freedom from Sin
2. The Mind of Humility in Our Cross – Freedom from Pride
3. The Majesty of Christ in Our Comparisons – Freedom from Worldliness
4. The Miracle of Focus in Our Commitment – Freedom from Distractions
5. The Mark of Determination in Our Calling – Freedom from Wandering
6. The Message of Faith in Our Contentment – Freedom from Anxiety
7. The Might of Christ in our Challenges – Freedom from Self-sufficiency
This evening we are going to examine the third principle:
“The Majesty of Christ in our Comparisons.”
Philippians 3:7-8 KJV: But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ…
Are there any coin collectors here? Ask who would take a 1916-D Mercury Dime in XF condition over a $100 bill? What about a 1951 Mickey Mantle baseball card in mint condition over a $1000 bill?
Discuss the concept of comparing value as it is used daily: trading cars, applying for a job (education vs. experience), buying a home close to city or in the suburbs, etc.
It has been said that the value of anything is what someone is willing to pay for it. But value is not always determined by what an item is worth in the marketplace: a broken watch belong to one’s grandfather, a favorite book read to your children, or a picture taken with a parent right before they passed away.
Sometimes value is awarded to what turns out to be the wrong thing (give personal illustration of my eight year old experience with the rocks, dinosaurs, and baseball cards).
Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, had much upon which he placed value. He was a Hebrew of the tribe of Benjamin, very intelligent, highly educated, a religious leader, a Pharisee, and most likely a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling court of the Jews. As with most people in his position he would probably have been considered wealthy by the standards of his day. He was zealous for God, so much so that he worked tirelessly to stamp out those of “the way.”
But in Acts 9:3-5 we are told how one day on the road to Damascus Saul’s life changed forever. Here on the dusty road to Damascus Saul met Jesus. You probably know the story so I will not go into the details, but the end result was that Jesus called Saul (whose name was changed to Paul) to become the Apostle to the Gentiles. To accept this call would mean Paul would have to turn his back on everything in his life. He would be disowned by his family, and he would lose his friends. He would be stripped of his position as a religious leader and Pharisee and would no longer be a ruler of the Jews. His name would be ruined, and instead of being the hunter of those in “the way,” he would become the hunted. The righteousness that is of the law, while blameless in its keeping, would mean nothing. Every thing Paul owned would be forfeited, every person Paul loved would forsake him, and every accomplishment Paul had earned would be forgotten.
Once Paul met Jesus, he became as zealous for Christ as he was for the Pharisees. All the things he stood to lose by accepting the call to become a servant of God, Paul lost. But in our opening Scripture text we see Paul’s attitude toward all the things he had lost. Most of us, having lost so much, would be prone to self-pity, become depressed, or at least complain to God. But here Paul declares, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but dung, that I may win Christ…” EverythingPaul had lost he counted as dung (a good KJV word that gets the point across very nicely), refuse and waste. Paul took into consideration all he loved, all he owned, all he had accomplished, and all he stood to gain as a ruler of Israel. He then compared these things to Jesus, and by comparison, all else was worthless. He freely gave up everything for the knowledge of Christ and for a relationship with Him!
*** Most people never complete this stage of their journey because of an unwillingness to compare the majesty of Jesus with the things of this world.
Read the story of The Pearls found on page 31-32 of
Free to Serve God.
Why is it so hard for us to give up our little treasures? Why do we hold on so tightly to things that have only momentary value? Perhaps it is because we have never stopped to compare their worth to the value of knowing the majesty of Christ. It has been said that God will never ask you to give up anything of value that He will not give you something far better in return. I believe that is true. The return may not necessarily be just in this life. We are going to spend eternity with Him, and as Paul tells us in II Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen, nor has the ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for them that love Him!” (Paraphrase)
If we are going to be free to serve God we must be free from worldliness. This does not mean that every person will have to give up everything they have. I am not espousing that we all must take a vow of poverty in order to serve God. What I am saying is that we must be willing to surrender anything and everything if necessary to fulfill the call of God on our lives.
In Matthew chapter 19 Jesus told one wealthy young man who came to Him and asked, “What good thing must I do to gain eternal life?” After Jesus quoted a few of the commandments to him, the young man said he had kept all of them. Jesus perceived that this particular young man took great pride and comfort in his wealth. When Jesus suggested that he sell all he had, give it to the poor, and come and follow Him, we are told, “But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, because he had great possessions.” When this man considered his possessions in comparison to Jesus, he was not willing to surrender all for Christ. Have you ever thought about what that particular young man thinks of his decision today?
Because we live “in time” it is difficult to think in light of eternity. But we must realize that every temporal decision we make affects our eternity. That is why James tells us, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away” (4:14). What are our few brief years on earth in comparison to eternity? What are our earthly treasures in comparison to the majesty of Christ?
The last recorded letter of Paul, the second letter to Timothy, is written from a Roman prison cell. The time of Paul’s execution is close at hand and Paul is encouraging Timothy to carry on the work of the ministry with all faith and diligence (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
After these words of instruction and challenge to Timothy, Paul records his final thoughts – reflections on his life’s work. These words stand as a lighthouse for every Believer. They shine in a dark world to guide each of us safely home. They are words that every child of God should be willing to pay any price to say…
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day. (2 Timothy 4:6-7)
To me, the saddest thing that could ever happen would be to reach the end of my life, look back, and say, “If only!” If only I had made better choices. If only I had lived a better life. How sad would it be to know I could never change the choices I had made, and the choices that I made were not the ones with eternal value?
When Paul reflected on his life, he was able to say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” A short time after these words were written Paul’s earthly life ended. Immediately he stood in the presence of the Lord, for he had already told us that to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). There is no doubt that when he saw Jesus he fell at His feet. I can see Jesus reaching down to take him by the arm, lifting him up and pulling him close, and with a smile on His face saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV). If ever there was any doubt in the heart and mind of Paul as to whether His life for Christ was worth all he had lost, all he had sacrificed, and all he had suffered, that question was answered at that moment.
What better reward than to hear our Lord say, “Well done!”
In a day soon to come we all will stand before Jesus. For some of us it may be immediate; for others it may be several years. But that day is coming. When you reflect on your life as that day approaches, can you repeat the words of Paul? When you stand before Jesus, will you hear Him say, “Well done!”? The choices you and I make today will determine the outcome. What is it that keeps you from being free to serve God?
All to Jesus I surrender;
all to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
in his presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
all to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
Words by Judson W. Van DeVenter
When you sing this hymn, Do You Mean It?
What is your most valuable possession?
What is your most precious dream?
What is the most secret desire of your heart?
Now…Compare these to Jesus!