Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just One More Time Lord?

In a recent letter from evangelist Billy Graham, the world-famous and extremely frail preacher has expressed an inner desire to proclaim the Good News of Christ just one more time. No one in history has preached to more people than Graham and only in heaven will the results of his ministry and the 6 decades of his organization be known. The number of those who found Christ may well be in the millions!

Despite his poor health and birthday number 92 around the bend, Mr. Graham is preparing one last message that he hopes to deliver if God gives him the strength to do so. He admits that his poor health may prevent his burning desire. But he boldly noted that James 5:16 declares that prayer is “powerful and effective” as he invited all to pray as co-workers in his dream.

He concluded his letter stating, “The result of your prayers and gifts is that people who once were lost now follow the Lord. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:13) May God bless you in all the ways you serve Him.”

It is inspiring and downright amazing that Billy Graham would attempt to do something so obviously difficult at this stage in his life. But it is also striking how he ended his letter. His final words to those he addressed were again, “May God bless you in all the ways you serve Him.”

Serving God has been, and apparently still is, what life is all about for the world’s most famous evangelist. And his closing words were more than just a simple way to end his prayer letter. He assumed that those he wrote to were likewise serving their Lord and that they would be blessed as a result.

In Paul’s first letter to a young Thessalonian church, he offered what could be viewed as the ultimate compliment. In chapter one he stated, beginning in verse 8, “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

The faith, love, testimony and Christian service was so obvious and evident in this early assembly that Paul and his fellow-workers needed to add nearly nothing concerning the faith. When people thought of this church, they were immediately reminded of a people whose faith resulted in clear and outward action on behalf of the One who had saved them. Their faith was genuine and their lives confirmed it!

When anyone becomes a believer in Christ, a new life of eternally significant choices related to serving Him begins. Matthew 6:24 makes it abundantly clear that Christian service is not optional, part-time, nor can it be. Jesus himself confirmed this when He stated, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The Psalmist revealed what is to be the attitude of God’s people toward their Creator, including the aspect of serving Him fully. Psalm 100:2-5 declares, “Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.“

Paul, in Galatians 5:13, spoke of the new life in Christ and its relationship to serving through Christian love. “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

The Christian life is first and foremost about serving God. Some believers never seem to get that. And Scripture assigns no visible limits concerning it. Therefore it should be done as long as you can, as well as you can, and using whatever gifts and opportunities you can.

The early Thessalonian church got it right. The Apostle Paul got it right. And Billy Graham apparently still has it right! The only question is, “Have you and I gotten it right?”

Bill Breckenridge

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