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WE CAN'T DO IT ALL BY OURSELVES!
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
27 MAY 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Peter 5:6-7
Preparation Verse: (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.
We can't do it all by ourselves!
We cannot enter heaven by our own works, and we can't plead our own case before the Righteous Judge.
And we cannot even be truly successful and happy without some help.
We need a Savior to save us from our life of sin, and an advocate to plead our case for us.
And since we are unworthy in our sinful state to say anything in our own defense, we must wholly rely upon Jesus to plead our case.
We must stand on faith.
None of our worldly wisdom and reason can do us any good, when it comes to approaching God.
For without Jesus and the Holy Spirit, all that we say is as if spoken in a foreign language which no one can understand; for they are our only translators, because they speak in true holiness and righteousness.
As we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes and abides with us, giving us, as it were, an internal translator; so that what we say will be in the language of God, and be heard and accepted.
Thus, not only are our prayers of repentance heard, but also our prayers for assistance and direction, so that we may glorify our Father.
Remember, that the key to true success is being able to glorify God in the process.
We glorify God by loving Him with every part of our being, which includes loving the whole of His creation (every other human being, all the animals, and the world we all live in).
And when we truly love some one in this way, we protect them and so no harm, which should be the desire of our heart.
In our Scripture lesson for this morning, from John 17:1-11, we hear Jesus praying for His disciples on the evening before He was crucified.
1. These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee,
2. even as Thou gavest Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom Thou hast given Him, He may give eternal life.
Jesus, at this time being all God yet at the same time all man, prays for His own strength as a man, in order that nothing He will do or say, while suffering death, would cause anyone to doubt; and that while being seen as a man, He would show his Godliness, and glorify His Father who sent Him.
And that in so glorifying His Father, he would demonstrate His authority, and by that authority bring in to eternal life all who have believed in Him.
Note that He doesn't pray for everyone. He prays only for those that the Father has given Him – all those who truly believe.
3. "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.
If we are believers, we will know God.
From Greek, we see that this word "know" means to have absolute knowledge – to know without doubting.
Therefore, if we truly believe and know, we will glorify God in all that we do, because we know what pleases Him.
We will know that we cannot accomplish everything by ourselves, but that with God, we can accomplish all things.
We never reach a status in our lives when we don't need the Lord's intercession on our behalf.
In fact, if we are truly honest, the more important our position upon earth becomes, the more dependant we must become upon God, so that we wouldn't bring dishonor upon Him.
Let me give you an example.
One hundred twenty six years ago, Abraham Lincoln was spending the evening at the Soldiers Home, a government institution about three miles from the White House.
He was sitting in the living room, when a friend of his, Joshua Speed, came in and noticed that he was intently reading his Bible.
Approaching President Lincoln, Speed said with some sarcasm, "I am glad to see you are profitably engaged."
"Yes," agreed Lincoln quietly, "I am profitably engaged."
"Well," asserted Speed, more in surprise than in anger, for he could not reason out the messages of the Bible, "If you have recovered from your skepticism, I am sorry that I have not."
Lincoln arose, looked Joshua Speed earnestly in the face, and placing his hand on his shoulder, said emphatically, "You are wrong, Speed; take all of this book upon reason that you can, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier man." (1)
(1) Pindell, Watson E., Milestones to Immortality: The Pilgrimage of Abraham Lincoln, (Baltimore, MD, Role Models, Incorporated, 1988), 139.
Even though Speed's first name was Joshua, the Hebrew form of Jesus, he did not know Him.
Abraham Lincoln's testimony to him was a sign of his knowledge of Jesus Christ and his dependency upon Him.
And Lincoln's stand on freeing the slaves did bring glory to God.
Isn’t this similar to what King David sang in Psalm 68:1-10?
1. Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered;
And let those who hate him flee before Him.
2. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
As wax melts before the fire,
So let the wicked perish before God.
3. But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God;
Yes, let them rejoice with gladness.
4. Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
Cast up a highway for Him who rides through the deserts,
Whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him.
David is praying For God's intervention in the ways of the world: that the wicked would be removed, and that the righteous would not be oppressed.
And the righteous, in turn, would glorify the Lord.
Let's listen further, as David continues:
5. A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
Since God is also faithful to His word, and has promised to dwell within all true believers, then we should be doing the same for those in need.
6. God makes a home for the lonely;
He leads out the prisoners into prosperity,
Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
With God with us, we can make a difference in this world, and bring gladness to the oppressed and glory to our Father who sent us.
Can you remember that good feeling you had inside, the last time you were able to help in a similar way?
Then David sings forth his thankfulness and praise.
7. O God, when Thou didst go forth before Thy people,
When Thou didst march through the wilderness, [Selah.
8. The earth quaked;
The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God;
Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9. Thou didst shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God;
Thou didst confirm Thine inheritance, when it was parched.
10. Thy creatures settled in it;
Thou didst provide in Thy goodness for the poor, O God.
We don't know what passage of Scripture Abraham Lincoln was reading that night at the Soldiers Horne, but wouldn't it be interesting if it were this Psalm or our passage from John?
Neither David nor Abe could have done it on their own; and they knew it.
Even Jesus prayed for strength.
Jesus knew that His disciples couldn't continue on their own; thus He prayed for them on that night before His death, so that his life would remain alive in them and give them strength.
Let's go back to John 17 and continue with verse 4.
4. "I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do.
If we know God our Father because we know Jesus, His Son, then we should also be able to say this.
For each of us must ask our self, "Do I truly glorify God because I have done all that He prepared for me to do?"
And if we can joyfully say "Yes!" then we most likely have glorified God.
5. "And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.
So much for those people that think Jesus was created; for only God existed before the world and, therefore, He is truly worthy of this glory.
Then Jesus goes back again to pray for His disciples. Listen carefully to see if He is praying for you.
6. "I manifested Thy name to the men [and women] whom Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me, and they have kept Thy word.
7. "Now they have come to know that everything Thou hast given Me is from Thee;
8. for the words which Thou gavest Me I have given to them; and they received them, and truly understood that 1 came forth from Thee, and they believed that Thou didst send Me.
Do you see Jesus' intercession for those who believe?
Do you see His intercession for you?
And did you notice that He doesn't say anything about the past sins or forgiveness.
He talks only about the believers’ worthiness because of their faith in Him.
Thus Jesus continues:
9. "I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine;
Jesus is not interceding for those who don't believe and follow Him.
But He keeps acknowledging the believers’ faith.
10. and all things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.
Do you hear what Jesus is saying?
Just by believing in and following Jesus, we glorify Him.
11. "And I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are."
Jesus continues in His prayer for us.
If we want the joy of living, and even dying, to be part of our lives, then we must heed what Lincoln told Speed and what David sang about: that we must separate ourselves from the worldly influence and reason that is all around us and, instead, start living in faith.
None of us can do it alone, but with Jesus praying for us, how could we ever fail to succeed?!
Reach out for Jesus!
Truly seek to know Him!
And you will know the glory of heaven, even while still here.
Your Comments are welcome
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