They say Ronald Reagan had a sign on his desk declaring there is no limit to what can be accomplished so long as who gets the credit is not an issue.
Today, I read about a wonderful revival in a church where I preached a series of meetings recently. In the weeks since our meeting, the church has added 47 new members, with 25 of them first-time believers in Christ. The pastor recently baptized 18 in a local river. “Things are really hopping at our church,” the pastor said. “There’s been an explosion.” (Bear in mind this is a church which typically runs less than 100.)
What I find fascinating about this is that in our revival meeting–and they were precious, hospitable, and responsive–I don’t recall anyone being saved or joining the church.
The pastor said, “We even had a prayer vigil asking the Lord to send revival no matter what the cost. We were asking the Lord to pour out a blessing on us, and we were really seeking His face.”
It would appear that out of their hunger for revival, they scheduled the four days of services with me as the preacher, and afterwards, kept on praying.
I love that they did. Sometimes church people think of “revival” as a week of meetings, and if nothing happens during that time, they should chalk it off as a failure. Not this church.They kept praying.
And God sent the harvest.
Now, if anything I did contributed to that spiritual awakening and ingathering, I’m grateful. If not, then I’m grateful that nothing I did got in the way. In either case, we give Him thanks for what He is doing in that fine church.
God alone knows the instruments He used, those He used mightily, and those He had to work around..
But He does know, make no mistake about that..
Yesterday in our church–the First Baptist Church of Kenner, Louisiana–worship leader Ron Laitano called Stephanie Screen to the platform. She didn’t have far to walk, since she plays the violin in the instrumental group backing up our hymns and choruses.
Ron interviewed Stephanie about a surprising ministry God has given her which is resulting in lives being transformed by Christ’s power. Students from an Asian country come to New Orleans to attend a local college, and some way or other, Stephanie befriended them. As they spent time together, she led several to the Lord. Then, when they went home, they told the new students from their country heading our way to “be sure to look up Stephanie Screen. She will take care of you.” After all, traveling halfway around the world to attend college where you know no one can be a frightening thing.
Ron says Stephanie is now hosting the third or fourth rotation of these Asian students. When a new one arrives, he/she texts Stephanie: “Julie Chu said to let you know when I arrive. I’m here.” Stephanie brings them to her home for a meal, helps them adjust to our culture, and in time, talks to them about the Lord. (I needto say she is a precious young woman, not long out of college herself, and greatly loved by everyone who knows her.)
“Why do you do this?” Ron asked her.
Stephanie’s first answer was “This is what I was taught to do.” She pointed out Jim and Gail Smith in the balcony. “Eighteen months before I was born, Jim and Gail visited our home and led my mom and dad to the Lord. Over the years, our home has been a place of great hospitality. Whenever people come to see us, my dad always shares the gospel with them, no matter who they are. So I learned well.”
Her second answer as to why she does this was, “For the glory of the Lord. Telling others about Jesus brings glory to Him. When these new believers return to their homes across the world, the Lord gets more and more glory.”
I looked up in the balcony and thought, “I’ve known both these families for over 20 years, and did not know God had used Jim and Gail to reach the Screens.”
Today, Monday, when I bumped into Gail (she works in our church office), I bragged on her and Jim. She said, “Oh, listen, we hardly did anything. The church was having a bring-your-neighbor-to-church Sunday and they came. They were like low-hanging fruit. Anyone could have led them to Christ.”
“Maybe so,” I said, “but you did it.”
Some members of the Corinth Church were choosing up sides. Some preferred Apollos’ preaching, others liked the special touch Peter brought to the messages, and some thought Paul was more powerful. In his first epistle to that church, Paul points out that they don’t have to choose one, but all these ministers are theirs. Furthermore, these are merely human instruments for the work Almighty God is doing. He gets all the credit.
“I planted, Apollos water, but God was causing the growth.” (I Corinthians 3:6)
He adds, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”
God did it. All praise and honor and glory be unto Him.
Once in a while I’ll get a note from someone who is borrowing a sermon of mine. They add, “I’ll be sure to give you the credit.” Usually, I respond with something like: “Thank you, I’m honored. But you pray over those concepts until the Lord makes them your own, and after that preach that message without any thought as to where you took some of the ideas.”
In other words, leave me out of it.
Warren Wiersbe likes to say, “I milk many cows, but I make my own butter.”
There is no limit to what can be accomplished, so long as it does not matter who gets the credit.
Amen to that.