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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Oct. 10, 2008

  • 2008 Oct 10
  • COMMENTS
 

Living For Jesus

 

 

The Good Heart Accepts the Word

Mark 4:1-20

 

 

Open with me to Mark 4:20 where Jesus explains that the Good Heart – Accepts the Word.

 

With the death and burial of our 40th President there was a national resurrection of discussions about the greatness of Ronald Regan’s life. Perhaps the single greatest event he is remembered for is breaking down the walls of Communism and opening freedom to so many. The Iron Curtain enslaved millions largely because of the incredible dedication of the few. Those devoted followers of this atheistic philosophy were able to captivate much of the world in one generation.

 

Communism rapidly conquered much of the world because of the total dedication of a few. In 1903, one man with a handful of followers began communism. His name was Vladimir Lenin (1870–1924). In 1917 he overthrew the Russian government with only 40,000 Communist Party members. His movement became the fastest growing system in the history of the world. By the 1950’s his followers controlled about 62 percent of the world—and brutally held on to their power.

 

Communism triumphed largely because of the complete devotion of its followers. Their dedication was typified in an actual letter written by a young communist to his fiancée, breaking off their engagement.  The girl’s pastor sent the letter to Billy Graham, who referred to it in a crusade message a number of years ago. The communist wrote:

 

There is one thing, which I am in dead earnest about, and that is the communist cause.  It is my life, my business, my religion, my hobby, my sweetheart, my wife, my mistress, and my bread and meat.  I work at it in the daytime and dream of it at night.  Its hold on me grows, not lessens, as time goes on; therefore, I cannot carry on a friendship, a love affair, or even a conversation without relating it to this force which both drives and guides my life.  I evaluate people, looks, ideas, and actions according to how they affect the communist cause, and by their attitude toward it.  I’ve already been in jail because of my ideals, and if necessary, I’m ready to go before a firing squad.

 

That is total dedication. Without divine help, God’s Grace, the Spirit’s power, or Christ's love – look at the intense devotion humans can produce. Can you imagine what God does when He finds this level of dedication in our hearts, minds, and wills as His children? To answer that question, turn with me to the life of another man. In 1917 as Lenin was master to his deeply devoted revolutionaries, God was at work in the heart of one of His servants – drawing him to deeply devote himself to Jesus. This man was being mastered by the Master of Heaven and Earth – at the very same time Lenin was starting his destructive revolution.

The words of ‘Living for Jesus’ were written when the author was 51, unable to finish the career he studied to do, weak and sickly, unemployed, and trying to make ends meet selling things door to door.

This hymn was his testimony of how he made it through life when it seemed everything was going against him, and the world around him was crumbling. He wrote the hymn in 1917.

What was happening in the year 1917? Lenin was conquering Russia and World War I was grinding on across Europe. Hundreds of miles of trenches oozed with millions of fighting men in a river of death, gas warfare, and plagues. Now look at those words written in some of the darkest hours of human history. And from those times come one of the greatest hymns of our time!

“Living for Jesus”

  • Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that I do, yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free—this is the pathway of blessing for me.
  • Living for Jesus who died in my place, bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace—such love constrains me to answer His call, follow His leading and give Him my all.
  • Living for Jesus thru earth’s little while, my dearest treasure the light of His smile, seeking the lost ones He died to redeem, bringing the weary to find rest in Him.
  • Chorus: O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee, for Thou in Thine atonement didst give Thyself for me. I own no other Master—my heart shall be Thy throne: My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

Where did such a confession come from? A 1st Century saint? No, just from a man who was too weak and sick to do what he wanted to do in life. He had to leave full time vocational ministry and do a door-to-door sale job just to stay alive and eat. His name was Thomas Obadiah Chisholm. Born in a humble log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky, on July 29, 1866; without the benefit of high school or advanced training, he began his career as a schoolteacher at the age of sixteen in the same country schoolhouse where he had received his elementary training.

Because of a weak body, poor health, and limited finances – Tom spent most of his long life indoors seated at a writing table. Writing, however, was always Mr. Chisholm’s first love, and he wrote more than 1,200 poems, of which 800 were published. 

At 51 Tom wrote out his personal testimony of consecration in song. This poem, prayer, and consecration hymn has been the pathway of thousands who have sought to deepen their devotion to Jesus. “Living for Jesus” was published that same year in a hymnal, in 1917.  Mr. Chisholm concluded a long and fruitful ministry on February 29, 1960, at the Methodist Home for the Aged in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

 

How do we cultivate that level of dedication to Jesus? In Mark 4:20 Jesus calls this “accepting” the Word – welcoming into our hearts and lives His Word and His way as our own.

 

What does a heart look like that accepts the Word? How is a life lived that welcomes as its own Jesus Christ the Word of God? The Gospels capture six elements from the very lips of Jesus which we will consider tomorrow.

 

 

For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit  discoverthebook.org.

 

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