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BOLDLY LIVING FOR THE LORD

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
United Methodist - American Baptist

By FRANK L. HOFFMAN, Pastor

6 APRIL 1997

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Amos 7:10-17
Acts 4:23-31
Ephesians 3:11-12
Philippians 1:19-21

The act of being bold in our way of life is the result of either of two things:

that we desire the spotlight, and foolishly do whatever it takes to get attention;

or,

that we have absolute confidence, and proceed in that faith to accomplish the goal that lies ahead.

And from a spiritual perspective, the latter example is the only way.

Do you remember the prologue to the Star Trek series, "To boldly go where no one has gone before"?

Children want to grow up to be astronauts and do the same thing.

But in these cases the confidence is usually in the technology, and not in God.

We all say that we believe in God, but we do not all have the faith to boldly go and do as God directs us.

Even a simple prayer from the heart, said out loud before the congregation, causes many to tremble like a leaf in the wind.

This is the result of fear, because we focus too much attention upon ourselves, instead of realizing that we are going forth for the Lord, who made our mouths and who is with us to give us the confidence to do whatever He has set before us.

Think about how the Lord works.

He usually seeks out the humble people to serve Him, people who will act and speak in a manner that will glorify God and not themselves.

Such was the man, Amos, a herdsman and a grower of figs, who lived in a mountain community some 10 miles south of Bethlehem, in the land of Judah.

The Lord tells Amos he is to take the messages He has given him to the king and the people of the 10 Northern Tribes of Israel.

That's like the Lord speaking to one of you, and saying to you, "I want you to go to the Middle East, and speak peace to the Arab and Jewish leaders, to bring about an end to their warring madness."

Your tendency may be to say, "Tell this to Frank, for he is used to speaking to others."

But Amos didn't do this. He simply did as God directed Him, and he spoke forth some very harsh words.

He boldly went, and even put his life on the line for the Lord.

Listen to the conversation between Amos and a pagan priest (Amos 7:10-17):

10. Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam, king of Israel, saying, "Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is unable to endure all his words.

11. "For thus Amos says, 'Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will certainly go from its land into exile."'

Now, consider ourselves in a similar situation: we have gone forth for God, and spoken His words to the people, and then the king of the land is told we are speaking subversively.

The initial reaction is "Let's get out of here before we get killed."

And if this wasn't enough, listen to what this priest says to Amos:

12. Then Amaziah said to Amos, "Go, you seer, flee away to the land of Judah, and there eat bread and there do your prophesying!

13. "But no longer prophesy at Bethel, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal residence."

Surely, this would be enough to get him (or us) to move, if in a similar situation.

It's like us being told to go back and speak in our own church, yet some of us even fear to do this.

But not Amos.

He boldly stands his ground, and continues to speak forth the word of God.

14. Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, "I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs.

15. "But the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me, 'Go prophesy to My people Israel.'

In other words, "I'm not like your so-called prophets, who seek their own aggrandizement before others. I'm here because the Lord sent me."

16. "And now hear the word of the Lord: you are saying, 'You shall not prophesy against Israel nor shall you speak against the house of Isaac.'

17. "Therefore, thus says the Lord, 'Your wife will become a harlot in the city, your sons and your daughters will fall by the sword, your land will be parceled up by a measuring line, and you yourself will die upon unclean soil. Moreover, Israel will certainly go from its land into exile."'

These are very bold words for anyone to be speaking; but it is what we must do, if in fact we are the Lord's and He calls upon us.

Yet, I have heard many a Christian say, "I knew that what they were doing was not right with the Lord, but I couldn't say anything."

This is failing to do what God wants us to do, for it is the still small voice of the Lord that puts these thoughts in us so that we would boldly do what He desires us to do.

We are to be boldly living for the Lord!

Listen also to what happened after Peter and John had spoken out the truth in boldness, and after the Jewish leaders released them (Acts 4:23-31):

23. And when they had been released, they went to their own companions, and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.

24. And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, "O Lord, it is Thou who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them,

25. who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Thy servant, didst say,

'Why did the Gentiles rage,
And the peoples devise futile things?

26. 'The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord, and against His Christ.'

    27. "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,

    28. to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur.

    29. "And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Thy bond-servants may speak Thy word with all confidence,

    30. while Thou dost extend Thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Thy holy servant Jesus."

Do we really hear their prayer?

They speak forth their acknowledgement of God's power and purpose.

They pray for the confidence to speak forth these words to others; that they, too, like Peter and John, might speak with the same boldness.

And what happens?

31. And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness.

Their prayer was answered, for they now spoke forth in and with the Power of the Holy Spirit.

And this brings us back to ourselves.

What about us?

What are we going to do?

Can we speak, or do we want to speak forth, as these people did, or as Paul did (Ephesians 3:11-12)?

11. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,

12. in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

Where is our true confidence and boldness?

As Paul reminds us, it's not of ourselves, but in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Listen to something else he says (Philippians 1:19-21):

19. For I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

20. according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

21. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

And we all can and should have this same confidence and boldness, for it's all part of being a Christian.

Amen?

Amen!

Think about this as we sing our next hymn and come around the Lord's Table.

Your Comments are welcome

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