Ministry of Love

The intention of this blog is to share Biblical messages at least on a weekly basis. Any response is appreciated. I do not expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of Biblical passages. I will try to respond with love and thoughtfulness.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting or Giving, Your Choice, by John.

Getting or Giving, Your Choice!

I've had ample time to look back on my life, and I've discovered that two purposes dominated my past. From the time I was born, I actually lived for what I could get. I wanted knowledge. I wanted ability. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to be like Tarzan! Yep, I wanted to be a super-hero! I went to Sunday School and Worship every Sunday because it was the thing to do, not because I knew God had a claim on my life. At age 12, I joined the church with a friend who was within a few hours of being my exact age. Neither one of us had any real idea of why we were joining. It was just the thing to do.

I left for the Navy full of high ideals such as being patriotic, serving my country, maybe becoming a hero. That last thought didn't last long because the atomic bomb dropped on Japan, and for the most part, there was no more fighting.

I faced the question of purpose in living, and I really didn't know what it was. I thought I should get out of the Navy and get a college degree, make a good living, get married and raise a family. That was about the general order I thought those things should be done, and after all, it was the thing to do.
On liberty in California, I met an air force vet who was going to Biola University. The name is an acrostic of Bible Institute of Los Angeles. He really befriended me. His name was Myron T. Hayter. He began to talk with me about Jesus. Others at the Christian Service Organization did, too, and we attended The Old Fashioned Revival Hour. There I heard wonderful Christian music, and some interesting sermons by Charles E. Fuller. Every time he preached and gave an invitation, I went forward. Someone always dealt with me personally, but they were speaking words I didn't understand. Oh, I knew the words, but I didn't really have a concept of salvation.

We put to sea and went to Yokosuka, Japan. On the way, I was able to put together what Myron was talking about as I read the beautiful Bible he bought for me. I gave myself to God trusting Jesus for my salvation. It was probably the most unselfish gift I had ever given. Oh, I gave my parents, and my brother and his wife gifts, and I gave gifts to my friends on their birthdays, things like that that were expected of me, but this gift to God was different. I gave Him my old really sinfully selfish self, worthless as far as I could tell. I expected eternal life from Him, and I knew I received it.

I went through a period of about three months of intense New Testament Bible study. I underlined everything I thought was important for me to remember. About the only thing I had ever memorized were the songs my teachers taught me in grade school, the national anthem, and a few nursery rhymes. I dreaded trying to memorize anything, but when I returned to San Pedro and Long Beach, California, Myron introduced me to Dawson Trotman's memory cards, and I memorized as many as I could. At that time, I believe they had three sets of 35 cards each, but I had a print shop cut some stock to the same size, and I bought a little box that would hold them in order. I think was still going when I used all the four hundred cards in that

It wasn't long until I experienced God calling me to serve Him. I interpreted his call as a call to preach. I was dead sure about it, but later I did have doubts. I was sure no one ever was as scared of public speaking as I already knew I was. Still later, I discovered my life purpose had changed dramatically. I still want things, but now in addition, I want to give to others, to use what I have to help other people spiritually and physically. Later, I told an older Mississippi pastor, Brother Ledbetter, about it. With a twinkle in his eye and a chuckle, he said, "God changed your 'want to,' didn't He?" I thought about it, and I agreed with him. He was a life long friend by the way. He was the primary reason I began to serve as pastor the first Sunday in November 1947. I served for several years trying get everything straightened out without a lot of success, then things again began to become crystal clear. My ministry was to be to share the love of Jesus in word and in person. That has been my goal ever since. I say goal because I have not accomplished it yet. That old selfish nature keeps popping up, and it takes prayer and renewed dedication to get back on track.

I have to judge myself daily. I ask myself, why do you want to do that? Is it for yourself? Is it for you and your friend, loved ones? Is it for the Lord? By the time those things run through my mind, there's usually an inner urge, perhaps God's Spirit telling me the right way to go. The problem is, like Paul says in Romans 7, that old nature fights hard, and sometimes I am the loser. I sympathize with Paul in Romans 7:24,25 when he said, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
I've had a number of people express concern that they couldn't "hold out" as a Christian. I can't either, but I don't have to. Romans 8:1 gives me assurance that God holds me: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."

Loving and giving are the two paramount actions of a Christian while confidence in the Love and Goodness of God is paramount in a Christian's mind, heart and life. We don't "belong" to a spiritual church! We are "The Church of Jesus Christ" regardless of any other name we may give it. The only boundary Christ's church knows is the boundary of unbelief. Once you've believed to the point of giving yourself to God, you are His child by His action, not your own. You are a new creature and your creation continues to develop as long as you live on this earth. I firmly believe that perfection will continue to be perfected throughout eternity.

Put simply are you a "getter," or a "giver?" Determining that will determine whether you live beyond this life, or not.


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