A DIFFERENCE THAT RINGS TRUE
2Ti 4:9-11 “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.”
Intro: How different Christians are. But we are all made of the same basic stuff. All of us are spirit, soul, and body. All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Everyone needs to be saved. That is why Jesus came to this earth, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cruel cross and was buried. He rose again on the third day just like the Scriptures said He would. We needed a sinless sacrifice and Jesus was that sacrifice that was promised in the Garden of Eden to Adam after he plunged the human race into sin.
However, it is obvious from personal experience as well as from the scripture reading that some people succeed in living faithfully for the Lord Jesus Christ, and some fail. Some converts become outstanding Believers, and some fall by the wayside. Some are like Luke, who stayed with Paul to the end, and some are like Demas, who forsook Paul, having loved this present world. In the scripture, Mark was mentioned as a disciple who once left Paul, but later returned and was profitable to him in the ministry.
What makes the difference? Why do some people get saved and make such good progress, while others do not? There should not be a difference. The same Lord saved them. The same Holy Spirit indwells them. So what’s the difference?
I. THE DIFFERENCE IS IN A PERSON'S DELIGHT IN THE WORD OF GOD.
Psa 1:1-2 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
A. The blessed man REVERES it, besides reading it.
1. He reveres its principles. Psalm 119:32 “I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame.”
Its principles are the only true guide in life. Man’s philosophies mostly will lead us astray.
2. He reveres its power. Heb 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
No other book tells the complete truth about us as this book. It is not magic. But it is God’s inspired Word. He created us, so He knows us better than we know ourselves.
3. He reveres its purity. Psalm 119:140 “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.”
NO other book can claim total purity except the Holy Word of God.
B. The blessed man is REVIVED by it, as well as listens to it.
Jas 1:22-23 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass.”
C. The blessed man REVIEWS and REMEMBERS it, while talking and thinking about it. Deut 6:4-7 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
It will serve us well to review the Word of God and remember what it says on every subject. No matter who says differently, the Word of God is always right. We live in a time of tolerance for certain sins and philosophies. It is wise to remember what Paul tells us in Romans 3:4 “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar”. We live in a time when some desire to make us think that there are no absolutes. But, This Bible is the absolute of all absolutes.
The difference is in a person's delight in the Word of God.
II. THE DIFFERENCE IS IN A PERSON'S DEDICATION TO THE WAYS OF GOD
2 Tim 2:5 “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.”
A. The ways of God may not always seem profitable. They may require you to refuse a promotion, or refuse a transfer, or take a job that would put you in a compromising situation.
B. The ways of God may not always seem popular. The ways of the world are nearly always against the way of God. Unsaved people will not go God's way. That is one reason why some churches are so different from the N.T. examples, and have the problems that they do. They are filled with members who are not saved and you cannot expect unsaved people to do what the Bible says. It is like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. You may get it in but you change the shape greatly.
Most professed Christians in America are going the way of the world. The way of godliness does not appeal to them so long as the world accepts their chameleon form of religion, go to church on Sunday, then live like the devil the rest of the week.
I John 2:15 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
One of the most miserable people in the world today is a believer who is trying to play both sides of the fence. He cannot and will not please either group.
Matt 6:24 “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
We are meant to be a peculiar people. Not weird peculiar, but set apart unto him, peculiar! De 14:2 “For thou [art] an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that [are] upon the earth.” Tit 2:14 (Christ) “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
C. The ways of God may not always seem possible. That is because our ways are more mundane than HIS ways.
Isa 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
So why try? WE must try because He has left a clear path and example that we can follow. I Peter. 2:21 “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” Matt 4:19“And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
What looks impossible to us is VERY possible to God!!! Jere 32:17, 27 “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?”
With God ALL things are possible! In fact, God specializes in doing the impossible!
+ The creation was impossible. + The flood was impossible. + The parting of the Red Sea was impossible. + The halting of the sun was impossible. + The virgin birth of Christ was impossible. + The miracles of Jesus were impossible. + His bodily resurrection was impossible. + But, praise God, He did them ALL, because He specializes in the impossible !!!
The difference is in a person's delight in the Word of God and in a person's dedication to the ways of God.
III. THE DIFFERENCE IS IN A PERSON'S DESIRE FOR THE WISDOM OF GOD
Jas 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
A. We must avoid the way of the unbelieving.
Jer 10:2a “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen...”
Cols 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
Prov 14:7 “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”
This world wants to ruin us for the Lord. We are to be in the world, but not of the world. John 17:14-16 “I have given them (his disciples) thy word; and the world hath hated them (the disciples), because they (disciples) are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
B. We must ask for the wisdom of heaven. It would wise to follow Solomon's example at the beginning of his reign as king. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! We get wisdom from God's word. We get wisdom from being around those who HAVE wisdom Prov 13:20 “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Which one of those companions do each of us keep?
C. We must apply God's word to our hearts. This is shown by our choice of a church to attend. It is also seen in our faithfulness to the church services. It can be seen in our prayer life and in the time spent in reading God's word and in our attentiveness to the preaching and teaching of this Book!
Why are there differences? Because of a person's delight in the Word of God, the ways of God, and the wisdom of God.
IV. THE DIFFERENCE IS IN A PERSON'S DEDICATION TO THE WILL OF GOD
Psa 84:10 “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
Finding and doing the will of God comprise success. Here’s how we can be a success: Find God’s will and do it. In doing that, we will stumble into wisdom, success, and happiness.”
To find the will of God means to:
A. Find the right task. Many people want the place of leadership. I have found in the past 55 years plus as a pastor that most successful believers who are great leaders usually start out on the bottom. They work and are faithful to God and He gives them the right task. Finding the right task belongs to the Lord. Remember Psa 4:10 “blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” He moves us into the right positions of service.
B. Find the right time. Moses was always the right person to lead the children out of the land of Egypt. But Moses tried to do it in the energy of the flesh and it almost cost him his life. If he had not been raised in Pharaoh’s palaces, the penalty that Pharaoh would have given Moses would have been death for killing of the Egyptian.
For forty years Moses thought he was something. For the next forty years, he thought he was nothing and the last forty years, he learned that God can take nothing and make something useful for Himself.
In the right time, Moses led the children of Israel out of the land. The Lord made the land of Egypt so disgusting to the children of Israel they were ready to leave.
C. Find the right territory. Find the place God wants you and plant yourself there. Sometimes this is easier said than done. But if a person desires with his whole heart, God will show him the place. May we always be in the right place doing the right task at the right time for Him! We need to put ourselves in the way of blessings. We need to tell the Lord that we desire nothing else but Him and His perfect will.
Conc: So what makes the differences in the quality of church members that belong to churches? There is NO DIFFERENCE in our SALVATION. If we are saved, we were SAVED by GRACE through Faith in the Jesus Christ when he reached down and granted us repentance unto life. The difference is in the degree of each persons desire. Oh that we would every day desire Him more than any other worldly thing in life. I told you recently, that we can lead a horse to water but we can’t make him drink, unless we give him salt first. Lord, please set the salt before us today!
So, what makes the difference between Church members is the person's delight: in the word of God; the ways of God; the wisdom of God; & the will of God.
Our lives need to be like Paul’s who said in Phil 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death”.
We need a thirst after God like the Psalmist “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God”
Is our life different now from the day we first claimed we had been saved? If no difference can be seen, we are not saved. If no godly changes occurred in us, we were a lost sinner only to become a religious lost sinner and perhaps a lost church member.
There will always be good changes when Christ truly lives within us. 2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
May we desire God’s will more than anything else! It will take desire, old-fashioned determination and discipline. This world needs us to be different. It is tired of phonies. Be the genuine article for the Lord Jesus so that one day when we stand before Him who died in our stead, we will be able to stand without embarrassment or regrets.
So, why do some QUIT attending church? Why do some LEAVE church and never return? Why do they deny the need of it? They may have made false professions, or they are so far backslidden that they would need a ladder to look a snake in the eye!
I have given you Several Detailed Reasons… All of Them Can Be Summed up in this One Statement…. Those People who never quite live up to the name “follower” of Jesus Christ, Made a Decision to Listen to Satan, Society, Self, and Those Three Do Not Have Any Knowledge of Anything but Sin…. And Sin Causes Slackness…..
If a Person Quits church or follows after the world along the way, They Do Not Lose Their Salvation, God’s keeps his own elect no matter what…. But They Do Lose the Many Blessings of Serving the Lord Here in these earthy bodies…and Will Lose The Rewards for all the good deeds and great sacrifices for Jesus that they have done while here on this earth.
1 Cor 3:15 “If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.. 1 Cor 5:5 “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
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