THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 3-6-11
LESSON TITLE: “LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE: AMBITION”
A beautiful old hymn we sing says, “Love one another, thus says the savior!” Let me ask us to consider this morning, do we love each other as God commands? Furthermore, do we show our love to God by keeping this and other laws which He has required of the faithful?
Good morning! Let me welcome each of you to our program this morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us to hear the Living Word of God. We are excited that you have chosen to give this time of sacrifice to our Creator. Won’t you take advantage of every opportunity this morning to give your own reverence to the Lord, as we together offer this time of worship to Him. May all things be done, to God, for God and unto His glory. Let’s begin our offering to God with a prayer!
Our first song of the morning reminds us that our Redeemer is truly alive and well. So, won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives?”
(SONG # 1)
As we continue our thoughts on loving one another, I am reminded of many verses that teach us this great command of God! In Matthew 22:39, Jesus said the second great commandment was to “love your neighbor as yourself!” Again in John 13:35, Jesus confirmed, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” In fact, the very golden rule itself, teaches us to treat all men as we want to be treated. No doubt this requires a love for our fellow man. And not only those who we like or those who are our friends, but even a love for our enemies.
Now I would like to focus on why we must do this! Doesn’t John tell us that God is love? Not only does John proclaim this in 1 John 4, but he also teaches us that we must love as God has loved! Read verse 8 with me from that same text, there it says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” You see that basis for our love for one another and our fellow man is that God first loved us!
Finally, let’s consider to what extent God was willing to go in order to love us. Perhaps Romans 5 and verse 8 deals with this thought better than any other. Notice what Paul says there, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God loved us and made the ultimate sacrifice for us, even though we were still in sin! Now I ask you to consider just how far your love must go for your brethren, as well as your fellow man. Brethren do we really love one another as God commands?
As far as our main study of the day, we will be continuing our study entitled, “Let Your Light So Shine.” Our specific lesson of the morning will deal with “Ambition”. So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will be leading us in our main thoughts of the day. But for now let’s join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour.”
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
In Acts chapter 26, Paul speaks with King Agrippa and he begins to make a defense in relationship to who he is and where he has come from. I find it interesting there in verse 4 of that chapter that he speaks this. He says, “My manner of life from my youth which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem all the Jews know. They knew me from the first if they were willing to testify that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee and now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our father.” Paul here speaks about the fact that as he grew up, he was raised a Jew. He was raised a Jew in Jerusalem like maybe hundreds and even thousands were in his day. And as he was raised there in Jerusalem and even being trained at the feet of Gamaliel and other distinctive things we know about his life from the Bible, we find that he was one who seemed to excel. In fact, in some passages Paul makes such statements as, “I was a Jew of Jews,” or a chief individual who really was striving to not only accomplish what God said but to really get out there and do even more than the average Jew.
I find that very interesting because it shows us something that we want to talk about today. What is it that distinguished Paul, at that time Saul, from a lot of his other peers in his day? Even as a small boy or as he grew up, what distinguished him? Well I think there might be any number of things we could mention, but what we would like to focus on today is the fact that Paul because of his upbringing or his training or because of what he had learned or because of the Word of God itself being in him was ambitious. You know there were many Jews in that day who had no doubt heard the Word of God and knew the Word of God and even were believing the Word of God and following the Word of God, and going to the temple and accomplishing many of those tasks that God commanded through the Old Covenant, but yet do you know what distinguished Paul, who at that time was Saul? He was ambitious. He was one who not only wanted to live it but he said, “I want to be a Jew of Jews. I don’t want to be just satisfied with being just another Christian or being a follower of God. I want to be someone who stands out, who gives their life for the sake of God.” In fact, we know that Paul never became a husband. He was never married or had children. So it shows even more about his desire to be completely focused on the things of God and not just to give some to God or a lot to God, but give everything to God. He was ambitious. He had a great ambition about him in relationship to the things of God. No wonder he was chosen there by God to become the apostle. No wonder on the road to Damascus God approached him in a bright light and he said, “Yes Lord.” And no wonder when he went into the city and when he heard all those things concerning God from Ananias did he respond and in Acts 22:16 was he baptized to become now a Christian, a follower of the Christ whom he had persecuted and the church that he had tried to destroy as a Jew. But do you know what God saw in Paul, who at that time again was Saul? What He saw was his ambition, his commitment, his zeal, his energy, his willingness to take whatever was given to him and if he could believe in it and if he could get behind it, guess what Paul was going to do. Everything possible! He was a guy you couldn’t hold on to. Man, he would squirm and get away from you! He was so ready to accomplish the task, and not just to get by with what he could, but to do even more and to be known.
With that in mind, I want us to think about this concept today of being ambitious. Are we those as Christians who are ambitious? Are we those who look at the opportunities that are available and are we those who sees them and not just one or two, but we seize every opportunity, every privilege that we can to serve our God? Well that might be clearly evident in your life. I am just asking a few questions. How faithful are you to your attendance when you have opportunity to go and worship God? That might give you right off the bat a good idea whether you just want to be somebody who gets by or somebody with true ambition. What about those people that ask you religious questions maybe at work, or maybe a friend or neighbor or even a family member who wants to have a study but yet you don’t have time to do that? What about the different situations that avail themselves to you in life that really you do not seize and take hold of to the glory of God or the sake of God, but really you’re just happy knowing that you go to church sometimes and you do love God and you hope you get to heaven? Well ambition! Where is that force, that drive? Where is that again zeal and enthusiasm? Where’s that ability to understand we don’t just have to do what God says. We have to do it with all of our heart! Is that not what God Himself said? We have to love not just God with our heart, but He says, “Our heart, our soul, our mind, our strength, every facet of our being.” You see God doesn’t want just some obedience. He doesn’t want just some acceptance of His Will. He wants all or nothing. Ambition! Do we have that ambitious spirit to really seize and take hold of what God has asked of us?
I think there are some other examples we certainly can find throughout the Bible. One such as found back in the book of Proverbs and chapter 6. You might recall there actually a discussion about an ant. How interesting it is to see that of all the different types of animals that could be used what is chosen is an insect and perhaps one of the smallest insects. Do you know what is always true about an ant? How many ants have you seen just being lazy? Or how many ants do you just see in one place and not going anywhere? Well if you ever go to an ant hill or you find a trail of ants, they are frantic in their business. They are moving as quickly and as perfectly as possible to get from one point to another to accomplish the task. The writer here in Proverbs, Solomon, says, “Oh don’t slumber, oh sluggard.” Don’t be one who really is not accomplishing that task or someone who is not giving their best, but really be that one who is willing to do what God needs of you. Be that one, as he says here to look to the Overseer, the Captain and the Ruler, Jesus Christ, and find that courage we need to do it, that boldness we need to stand up.
You see sometimes we lack those things. We lack those things because either we are not interested in growing or we are not interested in putting in the time that we need to in what God has asked us. And you know brethren and friends; the fact is that in life we have two choices. We are either growing and becoming stronger in Christ or we are dying. Well you might say, “But Ray, I have always been somewhere here in the middle.” Well guess what, if you’re just in the middle and you’re just not maturing as it says there in Hebrews chapter 5 and 6 and you’re not growing as Peter commanded us through the Holy Spirit, if you’re not becoming someone everyday who is better for Christ, you’re dying! You’re dying! You need to again grab hold of that ambitious spirit, that willingness to say, “I am going to do what it takes and I’m going to use my talents to the best of my ability to glorify my God and to accomplish those things that He has asked of us.
Another text that I find interesting is there in Nehemiah chapter 4 and verse 6. You might note there as we think about the great things happening in Nehemiah’s days, they were again becoming reinvigorated for God after many years of basically doing nothing in captivity, after many years of really not being excited as a people and thanking God would be with them that they might again rebuild Jerusalem or those things pertaining to worshipping God. Do you remember what it was that verse says? It says that “when they were told what to do, the people had a mind to work.” Boy, they had grabbed hold of it. They knew what God wanted for years. But now in the moment when everything was happening, when the chance was present to accomplish it and to do finally they knew what God had always wanted them to do, they were excited and ambitious and they weren’t looking around and saying, “Would anyone be willing to help do this or do that?” They were everywhere reaching out to accomplish the tasks of God. They had a mind to work. They had a desire, a zeal, enthusiasm to work in the things of God. Their ambition was to the glory of God, to lift Him up and to show forth that certainly God is worthy of such.
From another standpoint we can also see that same teaching. In fact we can go to the New Testament and we can find there as Paul spoke to the church at Thessalonica there in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3. He makes the statement and gives us the idea that we must be willing to work with our hands if we expect to gain some sort of increase, if we really want to be able to accomplish again what God wants of us. In verse 10 in that text as you see, “For even when we were with you we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Why? “For we hear that there are some who walk among you disorderly and not at all according to what God has said, but as busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” Then he finally says in verse 13, “Do not grow weary in doing good.” Do not lose that ambition to accomplish the task.
I know how it is. I’ve been a Christian many, many years and many of you have as well, maybe you can say for 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years you’ve been a child of God. And doesn’t it become easy at times to start going through the motions? Doesn’t it become easy at times to become so confident or satisfied that we really say, “Well, I used to do those things. I used to accomplish that task, and so certainly God is happy with what I did in the past.” Is there a moment or a place in time that we begin to lose that ambition that we once had? I always think back to the day I became a child of God and how exciting that was to me as a young boy there about 9 ˝ years old. I remember the water was freezing cold down in Alabama and I was dropped in the middle of that baptistery by an elder because I was afraid to get in it. It was too cold! But after I came out of that water and I knew that I had done what God had asked me to do; I knew that I was right. I had an ambition to lead singing or to pray or to even at that age to do whatever it was that I could for my God. I had an ambition to talk to my friends and to let them know what I know what I had done. I had a love and a desire for years after that. Often I found that later. I saw moments and times when my faith wasn’t as strong. Do you feel the same thing at times? Where is that ambition? Where is that drive? Where’s that motivation? Where’s that zeal? Let me tell you where it is. It is in Christ. It is in Christ because He has given us what we need in and through His Word and promises and furthermore He has given us the privilege to know that when we do it right, when we get it right and we accomplish His tasks we will be made rich. It may not be the kind of riches we want, those earthly riches. But we will be rich spiritually in God. We will be blessed with, yes, those things we need now, but those things even greater of an eternal nature.
I recall there in Proverbs 10 and verse 4 where it says that, “The diligent man is made rich.” The one who not only knows the task, but is committed to it and endures and sees it through and accomplishes it with that fervor and that desire. That individual is blessed by God. Why? Because they have put their God first.
From time to time I think of those verses that are maybe my favorite in the Bible and really if you get down to it there’s so many that I say are my favorite that sometimes I forget which ones are, but certainly one of my favorites ties in beautifully with the concept of a zealous spirit that we are talking about here with the ambition that we share as Christians. There in 1 Corinthians 15, verse 58 the Bible says, “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immoveable always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Boy that verse there is enough for a whole discussion on a Sunday morning here, but as we look here it says what? Be steadfast, focused, moving forward and firm in our direction in where we are going for God. What? Immoveable! We can’t be taken off course or shaken by anything. Always working and abounding in that work. Notice what work. In the Lord! Knowing that it won’t be in vain. Why? It is in the Lord! Make sure brethren, that as we strive to be those who are ambitious that it is not about ourselves or about others. It is not about a religion or about a group, but it is about God. Are we ambitious for God in the Lord? In His Will? Knowing that when we are those that are ambitious not only can we be found justified through the obedience of His Word, but also we can know of those promises we have spoken about already today because when we do God’s things in God’s way, He will bless us as His children.
So would you do what is required today for God that you might be found eternally in the home that is prepared for you because all those who give their best will certainly receive the reward which He has promised.
(SONG # 3 - “I Know Whom I Have Believed!”)
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this worship to God!
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May we all strive to be more ambitious in this life for our Creator. The reality is, there is much to do as a child of God in the work of the Lord on a daily basis. So, won’t you give your best to God today?