In this presentation, Barry Grant gives a rousing call to awake from spiritual slumber.
Sleeping is tricky: you can accidentally fall asleep, and you cannot wake yourself up. We talk the talk, we sing the songs, and we pray the prayers – but where is God? With Judgment Day honesty, are you confident Jesus will not deem you lukewarm on the last day?
The more the enemy comes into our face with things we never thought we could face, the closer we get to God. Are you in the fight against evil? Are you confident in walking in the light – not only while in church, but while you’re among your peers in the world?
The sleeping church doesn’t face persecution. When the church rises up forsaking all, the battle begins. Does Satan laugh at your spiritual commitment?
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God bless you all here tonight. My prayer is that the Lord has free reign here, that God can move. If you were here this morning – maybe you didn’t notice, but after the message this morning, I went and sat by my wife, and I asked her a question that I ask her many times after I’m done preaching. And the question is this: “Was I too hard?” I don’t know what you think of that. I don’t know what I think of that. But after I got converted, something began to burn within me. I’ve often been told that I’m too hard. I want you all to know that that’s not my desire – to be too hard or be too bold. But I told God ten years ago that I would say what He’d have me to say. And that’s my desire here tonight. But I want you to know something – I’m not here and you’re there. I think that is the reason why some people have issues with hard preaching, because they feel like the preacher is somewhere that they’re not. I believe that we’re in this together. We’re a group of Christians at a certain age at a certain time. God has put us here. A lot of my burden comes from reading the Martyrs’ Mirror and reading books of the early Christians, and the Waldensians and how they fought for the Truth. They gave their lives, they shed [their own] blood for the faith. And now it is our turn. Are we going to leave the same testimony behind when we’re gone?
Maybe we could open our Bibles to Romans 13 just for some opening verses.
- Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
- For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
- Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
- And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
- The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
- Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
- But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
There were two men speaking. One man was – I don’t even know if he was a Christian, but he was speaking to a plain person in a plain community, and he was asking him some questions. He was a bit confused. He was asking this plain person about the diversity amongst the churches. And this plain person responded, “You know, these people do this, and these people do that, and it boils down to this, that you have liberals and conservatives.” (I’m just saying what he said.) “You have liberals over here and they tend to live like the world, and you have conservatives over here that have no life.” And this man looked at him and he said, “So where are you?” He said, “I’m right in the middle.”
Too often that’s where we put ourselves, is it not? We look at everyone else and we see their faults; we see where they are, but we put ourselves right in the middle. We go through life trying to do what’s right. We justify our wrongs, but we do little of justifying others’ wrongs. My burden tonight is: What if we’ve missed it?”
In Matthew 7, there are some verses I read early on in my Christian journey, and they’ve formed how I believe today. The Lord Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 says,
Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
This is Jesus speaking here.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Now when I read these verses, I don’t know what you think of. But these people, it sounds to me like they’re up on Judgment Day, and they’re shocked because Jesus Christ is not pleased with them. They feel like they’re going to make it to heaven. They’re convinced that they’ve done things right. And all the sudden, the tables have changed, and for the first time, they realize that they’re going to go to hell for eternity. And they don’t just accept that, but they try to plead their case with Jesus. “But Lord, we’ve done this and we’ve done that.” I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed it here, but the things that these people have done are pretty remarkable. Can you imagine a group of people doing these things today? They’re prophesying; they’re preaching the Gospel; they’re casting out demons and devils; they’re healing the sick; they’re raising the dead. They’re doing many wonderful things in the name of Jesus Christ. But on Judgment Day, the Bible says that Jesus will tell them, “I never knew you.” I never did know you; you never were converted. Yes, you did all those things.
And if we look at our churches today; if we look at Christianity today, how can we feel good about the Day of Judgment? What are we doing? What are we going to say? “Lord, Lord, I went to church on Sunday.” “Lord, Lord, I went to Sunday School.” “Lord, Lord, I wanted to do that.” Do we feel like we’re going to just walk into heaven?
One of the reasons that these verses mean a lot to me is that before I was a Christian I was a wicked person. I remember a time when the police were looking for me, and I was evading them. And one night, I was in a little room, and the door busted open, and the police came in, and before I had a chance to do anything, there were policemen standing all around me. And what did I do, but try to justify myself? I began to tell these policemen that they had the wrong person. “You don’t know who I am. I’m a good person. I do good things.” And I continued to do that desperately while these officers stood around me without saying a word. And I continued. I continued to try to prove a point to them that they had the wrong person, that I really was a good person. But it wasn’t affecting them at all. Finally, they stood me up and put handcuffs on me and walked me outside. There were police cars lining the street, and they put me in the back of one of those cars. And I continued to say to the driver of that police car, that they had the wrong person. “You can’t take me to jail. You don’t know who you have. I’m really a good man.” I remember – I’ll never forget the panic that was in my heart. They took me to the jail. They opened this iron door. They put me inside, and they shut the door. And when that door shut, everything changed. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have done that! Give me another chance! If you just give me another chance, I won’t do it again! I’ll respect my authority. Please, sir, let me out of here.” He turned around and he looked at me with sad eyes. He said, “I’m sorry, but it’s all over.” I remember the feeling that I had that night. I can only imagine having that feeling on Judgment Day. I can only imagine how much worse that feeling will be on Judgment Day.
You know, preaching a message like this, the title is called, “Awake, O Church!” When you preach a message, called, “Awake, O Church,” you’re supposed to be preaching to sleeping people – am I right? But maybe there are people not sleeping here. I don’t know most of you.
But I would like to tell us here tonight that Sleeping is tricky.
There are two reasons that make sleeping tricky. First, you can accidentally fall asleep. I think we can all relate to that, but if not, there are 328,000 accidents every year because someone fell asleep at the wheel. There are over 1,500 deaths every year because someone fell asleep while driving an automobile. That should tell us today that even when our life is on the line, we can still fall asleep. The second thing that makes sleeping tricky is that we cannot wake ourselves up. Does this not sound dangerous? We can accidentally fall asleep, even if we’re trying as hard as we can to not fall asleep, and we can’t wake ourselves up. Something or someone else must wake us up.
But there’s a problem. We don’t like it when people wake us up. We have gotten soft and easily offended. Often when someone is woken up, they will deny that they were ever sleeping. But it’s serious! And if we deny that we were ever sleeping, we’re not looking at it as seriously as we ought to look at it. Because one day, the possibility is that you’ll fall asleep and you never will wake up – until that great and terrible day. Often times we can say, “He’s not talking about me; I’m not sleeping. I’m the one in the middle there.”
I’ll read a few verses in Revelation 3. Starting at verse 15.
- I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
- So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
- Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
It’s a serious thing to know that you can fall asleep and stay there forever.
There were two men that were out on the town having a good time. And about 2:00 in the morning the bartender said, “It’s closing time.” But the one man said, “I’m not ready to go. Surely there’s another place that’s still open.” His friend said, “Yes, down the road there is another place that’s open.” So they got into their vehicle and they started to drive down the road, and the driver began to get very sleepy. The passenger noticed that the car was beginning to go off the road, so naturally, he looked at the driver, and he saw him sleeping! Now what do you think his reaction was to that? [Did he think] It’s not me. I don’t want to offend him. I don’t want to step on his toes. What do you think his reaction was? He panicked, and he began to shake this man that was sleeping behind the wheel, and he began to cry out, “Wake up! You have to wake up! If you don’t wake up, we’re going to die!” And you can just hear the importance in his voice. You can tell that it really mattered to him. You can tell that it was important, that his life depended on it!
Brothers and sisters, we look around here in America at our churches. We look around at our country. We look around at the state of humanity, and we look at the church, and it’s sleeping. What are we going to do about it? It’s serious. It’s life or death!
There were two men, two good friends that were in the civil war together, and the one friend got word that his friend was going to be executed the following day because he had fallen asleep on duty. This brought great sorrow to the friend, and he went to where they were holding him. His friend there began to say that they were wrong, and that he was not sleeping. He said, “I was not sleeping. I don’t deserve to die.” His friend just looked at him and he said, “You know, it doesn’t really matter whether you were sleeping or not. Tomorrow you’re going to be executed because they believe you were sleeping. But the reality is, my friend, you weren’t doing what you were supposed to be doing.”
Brothers and sisters, if we were out doing what we were supposed to be doing, would people be calling us to wake up? Would we need messages like tonight if we were out doing what we are supposed to be doing? If we had a burden for the lost, if we had a burden for our churches, for unity amongst us; if we had a burden to seek out and to witness to people that are looking for truth and they can’t find it; if we were truly the hands and feet of Jesus, would we be questioning tonight right now as we sit here, “Am I asleep?”
Are we pursuing the Kingdom of God, building the Church, or are we pursuing the things of this world? Where are our affections? We talk the talk, we sing the songs, and we pray the prayers. But where is God? You know, you don’t need God to do those things. I want to remind us of that. You don’t need God to do those things. Eighty percent of America is doing that. But you do need God to live in obedience to the Word. You need God to love your enemies. You need God to not care about the things of this world. You need God to be able to say, “No” to the wrong things. You need God to be the one that everyone can look at and say, “There’s something about him. There’s something about him; I’m drawn to him. I’m drawn to her.” We need God for those things.
The day in Haiti that I went to talk to the witch doctor – maybe you’ve heard this story before – but it was a wake-up call to me. This witch doctor had a lot of power. In America, we don’t understand that. I didn’t understand it before I went to Haiti, but they had a lot of power. They were doing things that most people wouldn’t believe. But he looked at me and I looked at him, and we understood where each other stood; we understood that the differences between us were far greater than what someone could say. There was a spiritual battle there!
Finally, the Lord called me to go to his house, and as I walked up this long lane, there were statues of dragons. And this man, a very bold man, would go up to the mountains and preach to his people, and you could hear him for miles away, like he had a sound system. But when he saw me coming, he began to laugh. The closer I got, he began to laugh more hysterically, until he was actually bent over in laughter. I walked right up to him, and he looked at me, and he said, “Are you a Christian?” I said, “I am.” He said, “You Christians are all the same. You go to church and you have your good times. You sing your songs. You do your thing. But when you need something supernatural, you come to me.”
I can say that I don’t think I’ll ever be the same after he told me that. I preached to him for over two hours that day. (I don’t know about you, but I’m not ok with that. I’m not ok with the devil looking at the Church and saying, “You have no power. Yes, you have a form. Yes, you look this way, or do this thing, but when you need some power, you come to me.” God is greater than that!) And I told him that day, “You can take advantage of these poor people; you can do whatever you want. But you can do nothing to me. You can do nothing to me!” He pulled a revolver out of his pants and stuck it to my head, and said, “Are you sure I can do nothing to you?” I said, “Nothing! Nothing!”
Do we believe that today? Do we believe that God is greater? Do you believe that the gates of hell will not stand? Do we have that confidence? Because that’s the confidence that the world is looking for. They see it in the cities. They see it in the homosexuals. The world is more confident today of their wickedness than they’ve ever been, in my opinion. But where is the Church? Are we sleeping behind the wheel, as the devil gains ground each and every day? Can we please wake up? Can we wake up? There’s too much at stake. I have small children. We have generations following us. Brothers and sisters, can we wake up and face the call, like the verses in Romans 13:11-13 say, Put on the armor of light. It’s daytime. Let’s awake from our sleep and begin to fight this fight. It’s a real fight!
I’m telling you something from experience. The harder that fight gets, the closer we get to God. The more the enemy comes into our face with things we never thought we could take, the closer we get to God. That peace that passes all understanding – it comes from that fight! It comes from standing in the face of evil. It comes from KNOWING that what we have is greater. If you’re converted here today, you have what the world needs. You have what everyone needs. Is that pride? No! It’s faith! Do we believe it today? Are we ashamed? Are we ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? We go to church and we’re not ashamed, and we sing and raise our hands. But when we’re in the world, we’re not so bold. There’s a reason for that. There’s a reason for that.
The world is staggering around. It’s amazing what the world is doing today. The world doesn’t seem to know what’s right and wrong. What is the Church doing about that? What are WE doing about that? What are YOU doing about that? Are you waiting for someone else to stand up and do something about it, or are you willing to do that? To stand in the gap, to put your neck on the line like so many have done before us, despite the cost.
We look at the Word; we look at the Bible. I picked out a few verses here.
2 Timothy 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.”
Romans 8:36 “For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Matthew 10:22 “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.”
Matthew 24:9 “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”
Is that us today? Is that us today? Or was that just talking about them? Do those verses line up with our lives? Or are we sleeping, and no, they don’t line up with our lives. Are we sleeping? People say persecution is coming, but I am one that disagrees with that. The devil wants to persecute the church that’s fighting, not sleeping. The sleeping church will be left alone – until it dies.
Brothers and sisters, if we rise up, if we awake, because it is day and the time is now, we’ll see persecution come, and we’ll see the Church rise up, and it will draw the world to it. People get excited. You preach a message about turning the world upside down, and people get excited about it. But in reality, we’re not ready to die. We’re not ready to forsake all. We stand there with all of our things, and we say, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come.” But it’s Jesus Who tells us to come! And we have to leave it all behind; we have to forsake everything. Can we do that? Are we prepared to do that? When we don’t forsake all, when we still love our lives, we go out into the battle very unprepared. And as soon as the bullets start flying, we run. It’s happening. It’s happening. We must get a hold of God, whatever the cost.
In Acts 21, you probably know what I’m going to read here. Acts 21:10-13
- And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
- And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
- And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
- Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
And that’s what Paul did! He never really saw freedom again. Are we willing to do that? Are we willing to be spent for the Lord Jesus?
I have here Some practical reasons why the Church is sleeping today.
First thing – Maybe we’re not getting converted. (Am I allowed to say that?) Maybe we’re not getting converted. We join church, and all the expectations are laid out for us. We know what to wear; we know what to do; we know what we can do and what we can’t do, and we slide right in. And we do our best – without God. We put on a form, and we get good at it. But there’s no power. Do we still believe in the verse in 2 Cor. 5:17 that says,
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Do we believe that today? Do we expect that today? I think we forget that when we get converted, it’s God that converts us. We’re not doing it ourselves; if we did it ourselves, then we could sit here and complain about how poor we are. We could sit here and complain about how great of a sinner we are. But it’s God that saves us.
I’ll never forget it. I was addicted to many things. Many terrible things had a grip on my life, and I wanted to be free. It was destroying my life. But I had no power. I had no power. There were things that you couldn’t just go to church and figure out. They had a grip on me. There I was on a jail cell floor, and God opened my eyes. I remember crying out to God there on that floor. “I can’t do it! I can’t do it! I hate that man! I hate him, and I want him to die. But I can’t do it. You’re going to have to do it for me. You’re going to have to take me and change me.”
Brothers and sisters, that’s what God did! It’s what He did! I told Him, “If You do it, if You change me, I’ll do whatever You want me to do. I’ll go where You want me to go. I’ll say what You want me to say.” I hated that person. I didn’t want to live another day being that person!
I’ve learned a lot since then. And I’ll learn a lot from now on. But God changed my heart. I became a new creature. Old things were passed away. I had a testimony to say. I come into the Church. I’m excited. My sins have been forgiven. They’ve been cast as far as the East is from the West. I come into the Church, and all I hear is, “We’re all sinners.” And I don’t understand it! Where’s the power of God amongst us?
There’s an analogy I came up with years ago, and maybe you’ve heard me say this before. I didn’t plan on saying this here tonight, but I’ll say it. And just think about it in regard to this point here – not getting converted. There was a woman with her children driving down the road in some other country maybe, and the children wanted a pet dog, and they were telling their mother that they wanted a pet dog, a puppy. Well, there weren’t very many puppies in this land, and as they were driving, they saw an animal on the side of the road, and the children said, “Stop, mommy, stop. Let’s pick up that animal and maybe it’s a puppy. They didn’t even know what a puppy looked like. They had heard some stories about puppies. So they pulled over and picked up this animal and took it home. And they started to wonder what they had. The mother said, “Tomorrow I’ll go to the vet’s office and I’ll ask the vet if he can help us to know what kind of an animal we have here.”
She goes to the vet’s office the next day and tells the vet what happened, and the vet kind of chuckles, and says, “Yes, I’ll ask you a few questions, but I’m pretty sure we can tell whether you have a dog or some other animal.” He said, “By the description of it, it’s probably either a dog or a cat.” But he asked this lady, “Does this animal bark?” She said, “No, it doesn’t bark.” He asked, “Does this animal run and chase cars as they drive by?” She’s beginning to get disappointed. “No, it doesn’t chase cars.” He says, “When you get home from work, does this animal jump up and lick your face? Is it excited to see you?” She’s disappointed as ever. “No, it doesn’t do any of those things.” The vet says, “Ma’am, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you don’t have a dog. You have a cat.” She said, “No, I’m very good with animals. I’ll go home, and I’ll train this cat how to bark. I’ll train this cat how to chase cars, and how to get excited when I get home. I’ll do it.” And the vet said, “Ma’am, you can try that, but that cat will always be a cat unless it has been transformed into something else.”
Do we believe that today? Do we believe that today? She went home, and she began to train this cat, and over the period of some years, working with this cat, she got this cat to bark, and as the time passed, the barking became better barking. She got this cat to chase after cars, and as time passed, it became so good at chasing cars that it was outrunning the neighborhood dogs. It jumped up on her when she got home from work. But brothers and sisters, it was still a cat, was it not? And when she left, it went back to being a cat, because it naturally was a cat.
Is that where we find ourselves today? We want to be something that we’re not. And when we’re around God’s people in a setting like this, we can do things pretty well, but we realize that when we’re out in the world, we fit in more there. We want to be like them. We want to look like them. We want to act like them. We like what they do, and the songs that they sing. And we have this battle going on, and we call it spiritual warfare, but it’s not. It’s not.
In John 3:6, Jesus says it very clearly to Nicodemus. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Do we ever think about those words? That which is flesh is flesh. We’re born in the flesh, are we not? The old man is wicked; it cannot please God. Paul talks about it in Romans 7 very clearly. We want to do good, but we can’t. But when we go to the cross, like what Brother Dale was talking about today, we crucify the flesh. We die! And we’re born again of the Spirit. And that which is spirit is spirit; it is not flesh. And that which is flesh is flesh; it is not spirit. Have we combined the two? Tonight, have we combined the two? Today we’re in the flesh; tomorrow we’re in the spirit. That was in the flesh; that was in the spirit. I don’t believe the Bible speaks that. Are we born of the Spirit of God? The Spirit of God! Oh, the power in those words! Has God quickened us by His Spirit, and we’re a new creature. The old things are passed away; all things are become new.
I remember getting out of that jail and it wasn’t long before people said, “What happened to that man? He’s a different person!” My mom went to the sheriff and said, “Did you hear what happened to Barry?” He said, “Yeah, I’m sorry. I did hear he passed away.” She said, “No, he’s still alive, but he’s not the same person.” Do we believe in the power of God tonight? It’s here for us. God wants to change every one of us. He wants every one of us to have a testimony of being born again, born of the Spirit of God. And we have a passion. I found it very odd when I got converted and people were telling me, “Yeah, I was like you, too, when I first got converted. But you’ll cool off.” I understand that to the aspect of maturing, but do we want to cool off, or do we want to burn hotter? Do we want to be more aflame? Do we want to be used of God in ways that this world hasn’t seen? Do we want God to use us? When we’re born of the Spirit of God, we have power to walk in victory and in humility. Do we believe that tonight, that we can actually walk in victory and humility? Humility is not walking in defeat. And victory is not pride.
Second reason [why the Church may be sleeping] – We’re born again, but we’ve been drawn away by the things of this world.
Money, entertainment, pleasure. I have to say, I marvel at God’s people who are infatuated with the things of this world: amusement parks, ski lodges, lakes, social media, YouTube, and you name it. What do we want? Do we want God or not? It’s up to us. Do we want to try to hinder the Spirit of God? If I ask for a show of hands of how many people have something in their life that they wish they could get rid of so God can do a better work in your life, there would be many hands that would go up, including my own hand. But can we do it? Can we cut it off? We’ll never regret it. We’ll never regret that. I promise.
We get infatuated with all these things, and no wonder we stop studying God’s Word, and no wonder it’s a difficult thing to read our Bibles. No wonder it’s difficult to pray. We read stories of people a hundred years ago that prayed till their knees bled. Where are those men today? Did they want it more than us? Yes. Did they have a greater burden than we do? Yes. It’s that simple. It’s the same God that did a work in them that wants to do a work in us. He wants to drive us to some mountain or some prayer closet and stay there until we catch a burden. Stay there until we catch a fire, something that can change this world, and change our churches.
Third reason – We’ve bought into the worldly church’s way of minding our own business.
You do what you want, and I’ll do what I want. You don’t look at me, I won’t look at you, and we’ll just live happily ever after. I went to a Protestant church for two years before I was converted. I didn’t know anybody in that church. Nobody knew anybody. We stayed out of each other’s lives. We need each other, brothers and sisters. We need to look into each other’s eyes. We have to be open to each other. We have to be. Because if I fall asleep, I need someone to wake me up! And then when I’m awakened, don’t let me say that I wasn’t sleeping. Let’s humble ourselves and say we were sleeping, and we don’t want to do it again. What can we do? Let’s get up and get to work. Because we can’t afford to fall asleep again.
We have this mindset that we want everyone to come in. I pass church signs and they say, “Everyone welcome.” Is that really the heart of Jesus and the Church? “Come everyone! All come in.” The wheat and the tares – they raise together in the church. It was never meant to be that way. The field is the world. The sheep and the wolves – they mingle together for only so long because, guess what’s going to happen? There’s going to be only wolves left. It has to happen that way. A little leaven will leaven the lump. The wolves will eat the sheep. But guess what. When you’ve been eaten, you’re still there, and you’re still singing, and you’re still praying (at least in front of people.) It’s a dangerous thing! We become scared to call sin sin.
Fourth reason, as to why the church falls asleep – There’s no fear of God.
The fear of God removes hypocrisy. When we fear God, we do it for God. That’s what calls us to do what we do for God. Without the fear of God, we do what we do for men. We want people to think something of us. And I guarantee you, that if that’s where we are tonight, that’s why we’re not praying in the closet. That’s why we’re not giving till it hurts. That’s why we’re not burning out in secret for the Lord Jesus. Because we’re really in it for ourselves, and there’s no fear of God. How is your secret life? Is it full of intimacy with your God? Or is it shameful? You know what? If it’s shameful, let’s awake. Let’s admit it, and let’s change it. It’s what God wants; it’s what we were created for. You weren’t created to make money. You weren’t created to look good. You weren’t created to be popular. You were created to glorify God and have fellowship with Him. That’s why each one of us were created. Let’s fulfil that! And then reap the blessings of that life: peace, joy, and happiness.
I want to close with a story.
After I was converted, there were people that didn’t like me. I didn’t understand why. I thought everybody would be happy for me. But that wasn’t the case. I started a job working at a steel mill. I knew a lot of the people that worked there, and I was scared. I was scared. I didn’t want to be there. Can I say I was ashamed? I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t want to be there. All these employees on a Monday morning gathered in a big circle, and everybody was looking at me. Everybody knew who I used to be. Everybody knew now who I was saying that I was. A lot of people doubted it. Then I began to hear God speak to me, “I need you here. There’s work to do right here.” – No! Not here! I began looking around the circle, and there was a man standing over there. He was a Harley man, a very large man. He had a long beard; he had a bandana; he had dark glasses – safety glasses. He had both his hands in his front pockets. His mouth formed a frown. I looked at him and quickly looked away. And God said, “That is the man!” – No! Anyone else!
Do we believe that God wants to use us? Do we believe that God will put you somewhere for a specific reason? Does God love people that much?
I wandered over to that man later and asked him what his name was. He looked at me and he said, “My name is Ted, and I don’t want to talk to you.” I said, “Well, Ted, I really don’t want to talk to you either, but I feel like God has called me to come talk to you.” He said, “Don’t talk to me about your God. I don’t believe in God.” I said, “Well, can I ask you a question. Did you grow up going to church?” His head snapped, and he looked at me, and he said, “How did you know?” (I found it in my day that people that hate God grew up in some sort of church, and they got tired of the hypocrisy.) He said, “Yes, I had to go to church every Sunday and every Wednesday night as a boy. And I watched my parents fight. And they’d go to church, and they’d put on a different face; they’d act like good people. They’d get back in the car, and they’d fight all the way home. They were hypocrites. God did nothing for them. I’ll never believe in a God like that.” I said, “What about the other people at church?” (hoping that there was someone there that was godly). He said, “Everyone was the same.” He walked away from me.
I went home that night, and I said, “Lord, I spoke to Ted.” He said, “You need to talk to him again.” The burden was still there.
Do we allow God to put burdens in our lives, and then we follow those burdens? When we don’t follow the burden that God puts in our life, He’s not going to give us another burden. He’ll give it to somebody that will follow it.
The next day I walked back over to Ted. He said, “No, I don’t want to talk to you.” I said, “Please, Ted, just because you had a bad situation in your childhood does not mean that you should say there is no God, because I’m a living testimony that there’s a God, and I want to tell you about it.” He said, “No! I don’t want to hear about it. I’ve heard about you.”
Next day I go back. He storms off. I go back. This went on for several days until finally he got madder and madder each day, until finally my supervisor said that he was going to move me to a different part of the plant. It was actually in a different building. I’ll just be honest; I was relieved. He took me over there to this new machine, and he said, “Just wait here a little bit, and there will be someone here to teach you this machine in just a moment.” I waited for about 10 minutes. Then up walked Ted. He looked at me and he slammed his hand on the counter. He said, “I can’t believe it! Listen. I don’t care that you’re a Christian. Be a Christian. I’ll leave you alone. But you have to leave me alone! I don’t want to hear about your God. I don’t want to hear about your life. Keep it to yourself.”
I began to cry. I turned around, and there were two big garage doors where semis would back in and get loaded. I said, “Ted, let me just tell you something. Let’s just say that there is a God. And Jesus Christ just came back right now. It’s all over. Everybody that’s going to heaven is going to be lined up behind this door here, and everybody that didn’t believe in God, they rejected God, is going to be lined behind this door. And as we look here at these two doors, Ted, do you know which line you’d be in? And Ted, I think you know which line I’d be in. And if you’re in that line, the door opens and fire comes out. People are screaming! It’s agony!” (I’m telling you what, brothers and sisters, I don’t think we can imagine how bad it’s going to be.) “Nobody wants to go in. People are clawing at the door, trying to not get thrust into this door. Screams are coming out. People are weeping, gnashing their teeth. And over here at this door, it’s the exact opposite; there people are smiling, and they’re full of joy and happiness. And Ted, if I never said anything to you about Jesus, and you looked over and you saw me in that line, what would you think of me? We worked together, and now it’s Judgment Day, and I kept my mouth shut like you asked me to. What would you think toward me?” And now it was Ted’s turn to start crying. He said, “You can talk to me all you want. I’m listening.”
Why do I tell that story? The world is looking for genuine Christianity, truly born-again believers that have a burden in their heart, who listen to the voice of God and act upon it. We shun the world. We’re at war with the world and the kingdom of this world, and we lift high the standard of Jesus Christ, and we proclaim it as something that we truly believe in. We awake out of our slumber if we’re sleeping. We wake up!
God wants us to wake up. And let’s get into the battle. There’s a lost world out there. And they need us! They need us! Let’s please wake up and get to work! There is still hope. Let’s pray for each other. God bless you.