SAFETY, REST, AND QUIET
“Neither had I rest.” (Job 3:26) This is the second thing that came to Job’s mind as he lamented the terrible disaster that had come upon him for no apparent reason. Therefore I believe it is his second priority in following God.
What does it mean? It means that Job would work for God all day, giving Him a full day of labor. Then, when the day’s work was done and it was time to quit and rest, Job did not do that. But instead, he just kept right on working, giving God that overtime. He kept working when others rested.
Right there is the cutting off place between a normal believer and one who will set their world on fire for God. OVERTIME! Right there is the cutting off place between a normal church and one that will turn the community to Christ. OVERTIME! And any time you see a Christian or a group of Christians shaking up this old world for God, rest assured that they are giving God some overtime.
Alone in intercessory prayer. Alone in Bible study. Alone in sermon preparation. Alone in thanksgiving and praise to God. Witnessing at every available opportunity. Making opportunities to witness. Visitation. Bus visitation. Rising early on Sunday morning and eating Sunday lunch after 2:00 P.M. in order to run that bus route. Out preaching in public. Passing out tracts. Cleaning the church building late at night. Cutting the grass on the church lawn early Saturday morning. Running to the hospital any time of the day or night to comfort the sick and dying. “Neither had I rest.”
When the “normal” Christian worker has finished his “normal” work day and has gone home to enjoy his evening meal, then enjoy his newspaper, T.V., magazine, novel, computer, easy chair, and such (usually along with enjoying an abundance of delicious treats to eat); the Job-like believer will be laying aside rest often into the wee hours of the night. Instead of resting and engaging in pleasure, He will be laboring for his Lord and Master. If he is like Job, he will not be at rest a lot of the time most people are.
And any time you see a church moving mountains for the cause of Christ, rest assured that there are many among the pastor, deacons, teachers, and other members who are giving God some overtime. Much of it doesn’t show on the surface. Much of it is done alone and is not boasted about. But when victories are being accomplished, rest assured there are some Jobs who are toiling away after hours. “Neither had I rest.”
Back in the late l970’s, I was listening to a recorded sermon by Dr. Jack Hyles in which he mentioned that he recently had trouble delivering his Sunday morning sermon because of fatigue. He said that the reason was because during the previous week he had not gotten more than 3 hours of sleep any night. That is one reason Dr. Hyles accomplished so much for God. He often worked for God over 20 hours a day, and sometimes 24 hours a day when he prayed all night.
He is not the only one, of course, who has labored so. Many Job-like believers do it and typically their long hours of labor go unnoticed by most people around them. Often much of this overtime is done alone and therefore not very visible on the surface to others. But our Master is always carefully looking down on it with great interest. And even if no one else knows you are like Job in the matter of rest, your God is certainly aware of it. So do strive to please Him concerning “rest.” Long after the “normal” Christian has ended his day of labor and has entered into his daily relaxation and rest, the believer who is like Job will still be going at it hot and heavy, willingly laboring for his Lord and Master. “Neither had I rest.”
Look at Job putting this second priority into practice and rising up early to intercede in prayer. “And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.” (Job 1:4) Apparently Job’s children are not much like their daddy. It appears that they are living to eat, drink, and make merry. It says here that his sons “feasted in their houses, every one his day.” That may mean that there were times when they set aside a week for partying, each of the seven sons entertained the other brothers and sisters in his house for one day, and then they rotated to another brother’s house each day of the week. But meanwhile, what is Daddy doing while all this partying is going on?
“And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” (Job 1:5) Being close to God, Job is concerned about their souls. And he knows how likely their merry feasting activities will make them careless and lead into sin, even just careless thoughts of the heart and mind that displease God. So look at Job rising up early in the morning and interceding, offering up burnt offerings for each of them. They are partying, playing, and being careless. Job knows that and also knows that there is a chance that his sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts, possibly without the guilty ones being aware of that sin. Job is not even sure that has happened. But to be on the safe side, he is going to intercede anyway, just in case. So while they are living it up and having a good time, Job is laboring for God on their behalf. “Neither had I rest.”
Christian parent, if you do not want your children to perish in eternal hell fire, then you must do much frequent and long interceding for them before the Throne of Grace. In this evil high tech world that the devil has built, there is so much sin and evil that is highly appealing to young people, cesspools of sin and evil unthought of by any person until the 1900’s. Also, this modern sin and evil brought on by man’s progress is greatly praised by so many people. It is pushed onto the youth by their educators and peers. The destroyer is certainly destroying many in our present day by many new methods unknown to mankind in the past. So to see your descendants get saved and follow God wholly, it will be necessary for you to regularly lay aside rest and intercede in prayer for them. It is not an option on your part as a Christian parent totally responsible to God for training up your children in the way they should go. It is a must for your children’s spiritual well being and for their eternal salvation.
“Heavenly Father, please help me to ever be aware of my responsibility to intercede to Thee on behalf of my children and descendants. Help me to know what an important part intercessory prayer is in training them up in the way they should go. Please help me not to shirk this responsibility or be slack in it. Please give me perseverance and stamina to intercede much for them. I pray this for all other Christian parents also. Amen”
Intercessory prayer is one of the most tiring tasks I have ever known. I do not mean praying for 10 or 15 minutes. I mean 3, 6, or 12 hours, or all day and night. Or getting alone with God for 3 days or so, and spending as much of that time praying, as you possibly can. It is a most tiring and most weary task. And if you are going to do it, you are going to have to be like Job and put aside rest from time to time.
“And he (the Lord God) saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor…” (Isaiah 59:16) God looked down to earth and wondered and marveled that there was no intercessor. So much sin and evil were abounding. But as God’s eyes searched the earth, He could not find anyone interceding to Him to stop it. Likely He sees the same today, so few intercessors. What a tragedy! How God longs to hear those intercessory cries reaching up to His Throne. How He delights to act in answer to them by pouring out His Power, sending revival, changing lives, putting down evil, and such. But because most believers are not like Job, there are few intercessors. Therefore the cause of Christ suffers because of our sin of laziness and indifference.
“Lord God, please help me to be a fervent intercessor, a prayer warrior. Help me to pray without ceasing. Help me to always pray and not faint. Give me a great burden and a broken heart for lost souls who are perishing. Give me a holy hatred against the much sin and evil in the world. Teach me and show me just how greatly intercessory prayer changes things. Give me strength and endurance to cry out to Thee long and loud, day and night. Always guide me to pray according to Thy Will. Grant me strong faith to see my prayers answered. I do want to know the close, precious fellowship with God, which comes through constant prayer and interceding with Thee. I pray this prayer for Brother Richard and for all other Christians also. Please grant these things for all of us, Lord, I pray. Amen.”
We can learn a good lesson by looking at the ratio here. Job had ten children. So we have ten people playing while one is working overtime for God. The ratio today of playing Christians compared to praying Christians is probably a lot more than ten to one. For every believer who is like Job by being an intercessor, there are probably many more than ten who are spiritual babes (children) and spend their time playing. For each person in the church who is going all out to serve God the best he can, likely there are more than ten who are going all out to eat, drink, and make merry, and do nothing for God. And if you are the one who is like Job, rest assured that there will be more than ten others Christians around you who will continually ridicule and make fun of you and tell you and everyone else that there is no need to get so worked up, excited, and go overboard about the things of the Lord. They’ll do all they can to weaken your hands and cause you to cease from the great work you are doing. And because they outnumber you more than ten to one, that fact alone will tend to make you cower under to them.
But don’t do it! Stay faithful to God. No matter how badly the lazy loafers outnumber you, do right! Rest assured that they will greatly outnumber you. Rest assured that you will have to put up with their snickering and scorning as long as you are like Job and have no rest. Rest assured that they will weary and discourage you. Rest assured that it will be “fine, upstanding” Christians and not the devil’s crowd. And rest assured that it would be much easier to slack off and live peaceably among them. And the temptation to do so will be ever so great. But don’t do it! Determine that you will be like Job, battle them as long as necessary, and on Judgment Day be able to say, “Neither had I rest.”
“Lord Jesus, please deliver me from allowing other people to hinder me from being an intercessor to Thee. Help me to not be the least bit concerned about what sinful, spiritually lazy, pleasure loving Christians think or say about my prayer life. Help me to storm Heaven with much intercession. And for those who ridicule and make light of it, change them! Give them a burning zeal to want to pray to Thee without ceasing. By Thy Power, change them into believers who will intercede like Job did, without rest. Shake them up, Lord, and awaken their careless, indifferent, backslidden, sinful souls. Amen.”
Some other godly saint of the past said, “Feed the sheep instead of trying to amuse the goats. The less knowledge and piety a church has, the more clubs, societies, oysters, ice cream and fun it takes to run it, and the faster it runs from God.” (Author unknown to me.) Amen! That is so true.
Pastor, you are most likely to fill up your church with whatever kind of people you choose to cater to. And if you schedule a lot of eating, drinking, making merry, playing, recreation, and such, on your church property; then you will end up with a gang of people who live to please self with all those earthy and worldly pleasures and who are absolutely worthless to the cause of Christ. What a stinking savour you all will be to God. And there is no chance that He will be bragging to the devil about you being “perfect and upright.”
Much of the body of Christ is plunging straight down hill because they have ceased to work overtime for God and have begun to play overtime instead. In past days, church services were typically held in simple church buildings with few or no other activities carried on at church. Now a typical “church” is an expensive, large complex of buildings, much of which was built to be used for eating, drinking, playing, and various other pleasures. “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” (I Corinthians 11:22)
While in the States on furlough in 1985, I was scheduled to speak at a church that I had attended some, back in 1970 before I came to Japan. Now, in 1985, I was to speak on a Wednesday night to the young people. Back in 1970, I had seen that church spiritually alive with a strong preacher as pastor. Now there was a different pastor and a lot of other changes also. Friends there had told me that the church had built a gymnasium since I was there last. And when we arrived together at church on that Wednesday evening, sure enough, there on the backside of the church property was that large monument raised up to the idol god of organized sports and recreation. I didn’t even get inside the church building that evening. There in the parking lot, I was told that the young people met in the gym on Wednesday nights. So I followed one of their leaders to the gym. I didn’t get to go to church that evening. Instead, I went to “gym.”
With a great concern and burden, one of my closest friends in that church had already talked to me about the church’s young people. “I hope you can do something for our young people.”
“What seems to be the problem?
“They seem so unconcerned. They show little or no interest in spiritual things. From outward appearances, some of them appear to be lost and need to get saved. I’m really concerned about them.”
“After I speak to them, do you think I should give an invitation?”
“Yes, I think it would be real good to do that.”
So I had prayed up and had gotten together a good message, which I thought would be appropriate for the situation, and was hoping and praying to see God bless with some definite results that evening. But now I was plenty disappointed at the set-up I faced. As we entered the gym, most of the boys were on the court playing with basketballs before the service started. Blap, Blap, Blap. I was met with the sound of 3 or 4 basketballs in action. It was time for “church” to start, so one of the teachers got their attention in the kindest way possible and asked them to cease playing and to move on into the side room where we were to meet. That was finally accomplished with some continual urging by the ones in charge and they all got seated with the boys huffing and with sweat running down their faces. That sort of made me wonder how well they would be listening to what I had to say. At the start of our ser- vice the youth leader read through a list of announcements of their planned social and sports activities coming up. Play, Play, and more Play. That’s what most all of the announcements were about. Then the missionary guest speaker was introduced.
I was already raging inside over this mess going on at “church.” But none of the young people there had met me before, and thereby didn’t know me. So I opened up on the friendliest note possible and tried to get acquainted with those teenagers. Then I said, “Open your Bibles to…” And I suddenly stopped, because looking at them; I quickly realized that not a one of the young people had a Bible with them. So then I just blew up inside. None of those teenagers brought a Bible to church on Wednesday nights. That burned me. I was able to control my rage as much as I wanted to, but I let some fury out on purpose. “WHAT? NO ONE HAS A BIBLE? What kind of church is this?”
Two of their teachers were present, as I think they had combined their two classes for all the young people to listen to the missionary. Anyway, those two teachers sort of smiled nervously and tucked their heads slightly in embarrassment. The youth leader frowned at me as if to say, “Well, what do you expect?”
“O.K. If you don’t have your Bibles then listen real close as I read, because I really want you to get this scripture.” So I read, “God hath power to help, and to cast down.” (II Chronicles 25:8) “Now here it tells us that God hath power to do two things. What are those two things?” And with that question, I pointed to one of the young men right in front of me. I didn’t know anyone’s name, so I just pointed.
You should have seen the surprised look on his face. He waited in embarrassed silence for a few seconds, hoping I would let him off the hook and continue talking, I guess. But he was out luck. I patiently waited till he finally sheepishly said, “I don’t know.”
“I see. Well, this passage is very important so I want you all to get it. Listen up and I’ll read it one more time. “God hath power to help, and to cast down.” Then I pointed to a different young man and asked him the same question I had just asked his “basketball team member.” “What are the two things that it says that God has power to do?”
He was just as surprised and ignorant of the answer as the other church ball player. They weren’t listening, not even to one short sentence. With a “You really expect me to be listening to what you are saying?” look on his face, he answered, “I don’t know.”
Folks, I am not talking about little kiddies. These teens were in senior high school. Little kiddies will usually listen much better than that. And this was not the Sunday morning crowd, many of who do not come to church on Wednesday nights. Supposedly the Wednesday night crowd is the “cream of the crop,” the ones who attend all the weekly church services. They were the children of the faithful Christians who were the “pillars of the church.” These teens were the ones we expect to become preachers and church leaders when they get grown. That’s why my friend had spoken to me about them with such concern.
In my opening remarks, I had said something about not talking for an awfully long time. So now I said, “I may have been mistaken when I said I wouldn’t take very long. At the rate we are going, it make take all night” And by then I had gotten mad enough about their minds being on the recreation that the church had so generously provided for them with tens of thousands of dollars of God’s money; that I was prepared to stay there as long as it took for them to remember these nine, short words for just a few seconds, “God hath power to help, and to cast down.”
So I calmly said, “I’ll read it again.” And I did. Then I pointed to a young lady and asked her what are the two things stated here that God hath power to do. Either girls are smarter than boys, or by now they were coming to realize that I was most desirous for them to listen to what I was saying, because she answered the question correctly.
So I wound up and proceeded to preach to them how that God has the power to help and to cast down and He is going to do one or the other to each of them. And they are the ones who make the decision as to which one of those things God will do to them. If they choose to obey God, then He will help them in many great and wonderful ways that only God can do. But if they choose to disobey God, then He will cast them down. And the disobedience of refusing Christ as their Saviour, would result in being cast down into Hell to be tormented in fire forever.
Even though that was a conservative, fundamental Baptist church, most of those teens were looking around wide-eyed as if to say, “What’s going on here?” That was the only Wednesday night I was there, so I have no idea what usually goes on out there in that gym during church time on Wednesdays. But I concluded that it was not anything like what I was doing. (No wonder, “we have several in our youth group who appear to be lost.”) As I preached it straight, the youth director was glaring at me with disapproval as if to say, “What do you think you are doing?”
He was the product of a Bible college that hounds the Christians in that denomination to give much money to it “to train young adults for God.” What a sinful lie I believe that to be. Because it looked like to me that he had been trained to provide recreation, amusement, and light, worthless speeches to those young souls when they came to church on Wednesday nights.
I felt so bound in my spirit as I tried to deliver the message. I tried to create an atmosphere conducive to giving an invitation but didn’t feel like I succeeded. So I finished my message, prayed, and then turned the meeting back over to their leader and he soon dismissed them. As soon as he did, the boys shot through that door, right back out onto the ball court and went at it. “Blap, blap, blap,” was the sound that greeted me when I walked into “church (?)” that night. And 20 seconds after “church (?)” was dismissed, “blap, blap, blap,” again; several basketballs in action on the court.
Likely it would only be a matter of time (and I don’t think very long) before those young people would come there and only play on Wednesday nights and have no semblance of a church service. I can readily see why several in their group would probably be lost. By the time I got finished with that stinking recreational mess that was being passed of as “church,” I was beginning to feel a little “lost” myself.) My friend had told me she hoped I could do something for those young people. I know exactly what they need to do for them. Repent of building that idol for them on the church property with God’s money, tear it down, put those teens in real church each Wednesday night, and give them some strong preaching.
It is most heartbreaking to me to witness the church sliding so rapidly downhill in these matters. Folks, we suffered monumental, tragic loss when we forsook the God-ordained method of earning our living, tilling the soil. Living on the land (in God’s created nature), it was most easy to derive enough pleasure from God’s nature simply by being in it and carrying on simple recreation there that was free of cost. But we gladly traded tilling the soil, for the “world,” the method the devil offered to us to earn our living. We made that trade because we loved the “world,” in sinful disobedience to God’s command, “Love not the world.” (I John 2:15)
We traded living on the earth amidst God’s beautiful nature, for living in the “world” amidst the devil’s ugly concrete, asphalt, steel, glass, chrome, and such; where anything we now do for recreation, pleasure, etc., is no longer free like it was in God’s nature. Rather it costs much money. Therefore the church, located in the devil’s world, responds by spending much of God’s money for recreation and such. I believe God is highly displeased with that. God’s money should be used to spread the Gospel to the lost world.
I plainly recall how that while I was growing up in God’s nature, about all I wanted my parents or any other adult to do for me regarding providing recreation, was to just turn me loose in God’s nature and I could easily find enough clean pleasure there, needless of supervision and free of charge. But you well know what happens when you turn young people loose in the devil’s “world,” they go to the devil. Therefore I understand your Christian desire to supervise them and provide them “clean” recreation for the benefit of their eternal souls. Therefore if that is your noble goal, I commend you for it and want to tell you what I think would be most pleasing to God for you to do regarding it.
Strive to keep it completely separated from God’s church in that you don’t spend God’s money on it and don’t carry it on at His church house. Looking at the devil’s world around you, you can see it is already full of man-made places to play; gyms, stadiums, playing fields, 6 Flags over Everywhere, and all kinds of places to play. So why be so stupid and foolish to spend God’s money to build more of such to clutter up the church property? You Christian adults who believe that such recreation with a money cost is presently the best option available, then get together with like-minded individual Christians, plan it all outside of church with no announcements at church and none in the church bulletin. Then do it all outside of the church, away from church, using your money only and none of the money that has been given to God. And each time you come to church, do it for the purpose of pleasing God, in worship, preaching, praying, Bible study, and singing. Cease to come to church for your own pleasures of eating, drinking, playing, and making merry. And cease using God’s money simply to heap these pleasures upon yourselves.
“Heavenly Father, this is some mighty hard and straight preaching I am reading here. Please tell me if Brother Richard has the mind of God in these things he is saying. Please show me just exactly how displeasing it is to Thee, Lord, for Thy church to spend Thy money on facilities built for our own pleasures. Show me how important it is for us to use the money, that has been given to Thee, for Thy Pleasure; mainly being that of spreading the wonderful news of Thy saving grace to the billions of lost souls so badly in need of Thy salvation. Deal with all other Christians, especially our church leaders, to do that which is most right and most pleasing to Thee in these matters. Work a great miracle and save us all from living to wallow in our own pleasure and help us to live for Thy pleasure. May our eye be single in this matter. Grant all this, dear Lord, I pray. Amen”
As I visited in other churches during my one furlough in 1985, I was shocked to see that churches which years before had met together every Wednesday night to pray and to study the Bible, had come to assemble together only for a big meal on one or more Wednesday nights a month. And about the only religious thing they did at that meeting was to pray, thanking God for that abundance and asking Him to bless their banqueting and gluttony.
Visiting one large church, I saw a new building that was an amusement and game center full of all kinds of demonic computer games and lots of other playthings. It was a large separate building, built by the church simply for recreation, costing over $100,000 (in the early 1980’s). That’s a lot of God’s money that God never got, but was rather consumed upon those people’s own lusts for pleasure.
But the real shocker to me was what one of the church members boasted about regarding that expensive playhouse. She proudly told me that the pastor had stated from the pulpit that he would absolutely not allow it to be used during church services. “Well, Amen!” That’s really doing God a favor by not providing recreation while church services are going on. That’s holding to the fundamentals of the faith, isn’t it? I can just picture the trouble they have running everyone out of it as church services begin, and the stampede back to it as soon as church is dismissed. What a tragic marvel!
Another pastor told me of taking some of his church people to Six Flags Over Georgia on a Saturday for a day of playing. Though he lived about 180 miles from Atlanta, he had seen four other church congregations from his city at Six Flags on that day. If Christians are without rest today, it is not from working for the Lord. It is from never ceasing to play.
The youth leader in so many churches is no more than a recreation leader, being paid a salary by the church to provide recreation. But we think as long as we label it “Christian” recreation, then it is pleasing to God. As long as we boast of being fundamental, then we are pleasing to God when we do away with Wednesday night’s service and instead meet in the fellowship hall and gorge ourselves on a feast. It is pleasing to God to have a church gym as long as some scripture is written on one of its walls. You can proclaim to the world that you are fundamental, have the fundamentals of the faith written in your church covenant or by-laws, have them written out and displayed in your church buildings, have every leader, teacher, and worker sign a statement affirming that they believe those Biblical facts, preach them regularly from the pulpit, teach them often in every class; and still go straight to the devil by being a church which lives to play!
“Neither had I rest.” About the only way that the present- day church is like Job in this matter is that it has no rest from playing. A temperate of playing by anyone is justifiable and beneficial. It causes the least amount of problems when it is done with family and close friends. There are two institutions on the face of this earth, which are ordained of God and have absolutely no business being in the recreation business. Those two are government and the church.
Government has absolutely no right to condemn a person’s property and forcefully take it away from him for the purpose of spending many taxpayers’ dollars to build recreational facilities on it that will be used by 10% of the people 5% of the time. Government continually taxes us heavier and plunges further into debt, because it is spending much money for recreation, welfare, and other things for which it has no business spending money. I think of how in the 1800’s, a military camp consisted of little more than rows of tents and little more than bacon, beans, bread, bullets, and bandages provided for the soldiers. Now it’s a place where swimming pools, golf courses, theaters, clubs, bowling alleys, riding horses, and all kinds of amusements and recreation abound; much of which is paid for with tax dollars.
Any nation is in grave danger when it goes hog wild over privately sponsored recreation, all the way from professional sports and olympics down to children’s sports. More disaster is invited when government gets into the act. But most important is what the body of Christ decides to do regarding playing. If the church also gets into the recreation business, then that Christian civilization is so likely to crumble.
Seriously consider just how much the church is playing. Look at how many social and recreational activities are listed in the church bulletin. I have watched in utter shock, fundamental pastors majoring on soul winning in the pulpit and then turn right around and put a higher priority on church sports.
Each time I went to Guam to do evangelistic work in the early 1980’s, I would go preach at the Flea Market most every Saturday morning. Several times, a few young men from the church I attended on Guam met me there and helped by singing together and passing out tracts to that large multitude of lost souls. Their zeal blessed me so and what joy they got from lifting high the Lord among the many heathen people there. Just when things were going so good with that evangelistic outreach, some of them quit it because the church’s pastor wanted them to play ball instead. The church had a men’s softball team and its games were played on Saturday mornings when we were out there trying to win souls. In that situation, the pastor put a greater priority on winning ball games than on winning lost souls to Christ. And he put enough pressure on those young men who could play ball well, to get them to do that and cease their soul winning out at the Flea Market. I still shake my head in disbelief.
In 1977, I sat in boredom in a pastor’s office in North Carolina for 30 minutes or so, listening to the pastor brief his associate pastor. Were they talking about soul winning, evangelistic work, or such? NO! They were planning a planning session about church sports. The associate pastor was to attend that upcoming planning session at a different location with people in charge of sports in other churches. But before the associate pastor went to that “area” planning meeting, the pastor had to brief him on some “do’s” and “don’ts.” Folks, this wasn’t a church ball game that would be played later and take up a lot of their time. This wasn’t even the planning session that was soon to take up much of the associate pastor’s time. This was just a planning session, in preparation for another planning session for their church sports, which so occupied those two pastors’ time there, while the lost world around them plunged into Hell.
I may have been too long here with too many horror stories about the church playing. But something must wake us up and make us realize that God’s church is not a recreation club. If we don’t correct our straying ourselves, God will put us under the bondage of persecution to accomplish that. Rest assured that He will. One way or the other, the days of living for earthly pleasures will end. Purpose in your heart that starting now; you will strive to be like Job in this matter. “Neither had I rest.”
“Lord God, please help me to do that. Help me to be perfect and upright like Job in this matter. Show me just what a great idol that sports and playing have become to Christians. Show me just how displeasing it is to Thee, for Thy Church to get involved in sports under the banner of Christianity and in the name of Thy Church. Please teach me plainly, what is most pleasing to Thee in these matters. Then give me a heart to do that which is pleasing to Thee, and to teach others about it also. I pray for all other Christians, that they also will do Thy Will regarding this. Help us all, Lord. Amen.”
Take an honest look at just how lazy we Christians tend to be in working for God, especially compared to the zeal and dedication we put into other things we do. Normally, the first thing we want to take it easy on, is serving the Lord. You get a burden for lost souls, get broken-hearted over the gross sin around you, then get on fire doing all you can to witness, pray, win souls, pray, bring people to church, pray, preach in public, pray, distribute Gospel literature, pray, pour every dollar you can into rescuing souls, pray, burn the midnight oil, pray, never cease to pray, be like Job and have no rest; and just see what will happen. Some Christians will say to you; “Take it easy. No need to get so excited about religious things. Calm down. Don’t overdo it. You’re going to make a fanatic out of yourself.”
HYPROCRITES! Usually they don’t think that way about any other realm of their lives. They have just the opposite attitude each day when they go to their job to earn all the fame, fortune, and prestige of this world that they possibly can. Then their philosophy certainly isn’t, “Take it easy. Don’t overdo it.” Rather it is just the opposite. They lay aside rest, working overtime to gain more unrighteous mammon. They work hard to earn that pay raise. If they have their own business, they labor furiously day and night to build it up. Ruin their health, neglect family and God; never mind. Let health, family, and God (everything that is important) go to the dogs. We’ve got to get all we can out of life. So let’s give it our all. HYPROCRITES! How can you possibly have the nerve to tell another Christian brother or sister to take it easy, when they are doing something that will last for all eternity? God have mercy on your sinful, rebuked, convicted, guilty soul for doing so.
We don’t have the attitude of “Take it easy,” when we play and madly chase after the pleasures of this world. And God intently watches our hunting, fishing, partying, playing, day and night we do it at times, and with all the zeal we have. So God intently listens as no one says, “Let’s take it easy with this.” He certainly hears you every time you don’t say that.
Parents, you don’t tell your children to take it easy when you are pushing them to make the honor roll at school, do you? People aren’t prone to have the attitude of “Take it easy,” as they fervently worship the idol god of sports. In his prep speech, does the coach tell the team to take it easy so they won’t get too tired or hurt? Do the cheerleaders lead cheers of, “Take it easy. Don’t get too excited?” Do the pleasure mad fan (atics) shout in return, “Take it easy. Don’t overdo it?” Many of them will quickly tell the Christian worker to slow down and not get so excited about serving the Lord. But if someone stood up in the heat of a ball game and yelled out, “Take it easy! Don’t get too excited. Don’t overdo it.” Then everyone would think he had gone crazy. Why? Because people are committing the sin of loving the pleasures of this world, more than they love God.
Back about 1981, one day a group of children and I were standing by the flagpole on a little square between the Tamuning Post Office and Bank of Hawaii on Guam. We would sing together for a while, then I would preach and let them rest. Sing and preach. Sing and preach, getting out the Gospel message to the people coming in and out of the bank and post office. We had been going at it a while, when it started raining. I told the children, “Let’s get out of the rain,” and I went up and got under the overhanging roof of the post office. Most of the children followed me there. But Myong Hui, Hyung Chu, and Diane, three Korean girls, stayed out there in the pouring rain, singing those old hymns to the top of their voices while getting soaking wet. How I rejoiced at that.
A Christian friend of mine was in the bank at the time, and later told me that people in the bank were making all kinds of snide remarks about how foolish the girls were to stand out there, singing in the rain. And there I was, looking so backslidden standing in the dry under the roof. But despite all appearances, I did not have those girls stay out in the rain. Rather I told them to get under the roof. They were out in the rain because they themselves chose to do that. Anyway, at that time a man walked out of the post office. He sort of disgustingly looked at those three girls, 11 to 13 years old, standing out there drenched in a pouring rain, and singing praises to God to the top of their voices. What a sight! Glory to God! Then that man looked over at me standing in the dry. And with disgust said to me, “They are going to catch a cold out there.”
I had not forced or even urged those girls to stand out there in the rain. Instead, I had told them to get under the roof. But everyone seemed to assume the worst of me and make a villain out of me, just because I had preached to those girls many times on how important it is to tell the whole world about salvation in Christ. And that resulted in them choosing, on their own, to stand out there in the rain, singing praises to God. I believe that was a wonderful thing for them to do. I so rejoiced to see them doing it and I had absolutely no desire to stop them. GLORY TO GOD!
But what that man said about them catching a cold was possibly true. Tropical Guam is hot all year, but “summer colds” are most easy to catch there. And because what he said was possibly true, I didn’t really know what to say back to him. So as I fumbled around in my feeble mind trying to think of a reply, he spoke up again. “Why don’t you get out there with them?” That heathen man was rebuking me for being backslidden. And I guess I deserved that. I guess I should have been out there with those girls, singing as loudly as I could while getting soaked and possibly catching a cold.
But that man is a sinful hypocrite. And you probably are too; if you think those girls were foolish to endanger their health by singing out the praises of God out in the rain. Just suppose you are attending your hometown high school football game on a chilly fall night. And along about the third quarter of the game, a chilling shower of rain starts falling. Will you stand up and yell, “Hey, get those players and those cheerleaders in out of the rain. They might catch a cold out there!” I doubt that you, or anyone else present, would say that, would you? Likely everyone there would just keep cheering them on, while they get soaking wet. And if one of those teenage ballplayers or cheerleaders caught their death of pneumonia out there in that cold rain, as they lay in the hospital dying most everyone in town would go to them and compliment them on what a wonderful thing they had done. And when they died, the whole town would make a martyr out of them. WHY? Because they love a little pigskin much more than they love God in Heaven. Sinful idolaters they are.
Here in Japan, I watch the Buddhists and Shintoists carve a statue out of wood or stone and then bow down to that little, lifeless object that their hands have made and worship it as God. And I marvel in unbelief at that sin, stupidity, and ignorance. But then I observe Christians in the U.S. so fervently worshipping a little zipped up bag of air, more zealously worshipping it than they worship the true God in Heaven. And how I marvel even more in disbelief at their sin, stupidity, and ignorance. (Yes, I do know that footballs aren’t made from actual pigskin. Still, that is what they are called.)
Christians who live to play are dying a spiritual death. “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” (I Timothy 5:6) The church that plays is also dying a spiritual death. It is a downhill slide with each succeeding generation of the church delving a little deeper into pleasure and recreation until they are soon destroyed spiritually by it. It will come to the place that, during a church service, many in the congregation will not even listen to 9 short words read from the Bible, like those teenagers I was preaching to in that “church” gym during a Wednesday night “church” service. Wake up. It is your own funeral. If we are not like Job regarding rest, we can expect God to send persecution our way. “Neither had I rest.” Lord, help us all to be like Job.
How God in Heaven must marvel over our hypocrisy. Many Christians exhaust much of their time and energy in a mad frenzy chasing after fun, fame, and fortune; while neglecting God and family as their fast pace of life brings on heart attacks, nervous breakdowns, mental illness, and such. And most lost people and saved people alike, will applaud them for doing so. But just get a little stirred up and excited about serving God and winning lost souls to Him, and people around you will quickly speak up and tell you, “Take it easy. No need to get so excited about that.” Take heed that God is a God Who judges hypocrites. Get your heart right in this matter and get prepared to meet God in judgment.
“Lord Jesus, please search my heart for me and show me if I love earthly and worldly pleasures more than I love Thee. Please save me from making an idol out of any of these things. By Thy Power, work in my heart to keep any of these things from ever coming between Thee and me. Work mightily in the hearts of all Christians who are taking their church body deeper and deeper into “playing” and “socializing” as a church body. Give them a heart to perceive how displeasing this is to Thee. Make Christians aware of just how far their children and grandchildren are departing from Thee, in their mad chase after sports and such pleasures. Awaken them anew to see the need to labor long and hard in the spiritual battle against evil and in winning lost souls to Thee. Please create within each of us believers a heart like that of Job who labored for Thee without rest. Do grant these petitions, Lord, I pray. Amen.”
“Increase our faith,” the disciples asked of their Lord in Luke 17:5. I’ve prayed that prayer many times for myself because, without faith it is impossible to please him.” (Hebrews 11:6) And “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23) And, the just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17) So for years I often opened my Bible to Luke 17:5 and prayed for God to increase my faith, when finally the thought occurred to me that possibly the Lord answered the disciples with some instruction as to how they could increase their faith.
So most carefully, I started reading what followed their request. It was inspiring to read how that faith as the grain of mustard seed could pluck that tree up and put it in the ocean. “And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamire tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” (Luke 17:6) Still this doesn’t tell us how to increase our faith. So I concluded that likely the answer is found in the following parable. Then it took days of prayerfully reading it and mediating on it on my knees to come up with what I believe is the answer.
“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say to him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doeth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:7-10)
This servant labored all day for his master. That is the first thing we are to do if we want our faith increased. If we are going to have the faith to see God work and do great things for us, then first, we are going to have to work for God and do things for Him. A lazy Christian is one of little or no faith. Just look at the Christians around you and you should find that to be true without any exceptions. If a Christian does little or nothing for God, how can he possibly pray to God for the salvation of lost loved ones, healing from sicknesses and diseases, and for other miracles; and have faith to see God answer those prayers? Not working for God robs us of faith to see God work for us.
I do believe that in compassion, love, mercy, and grace, God will at times answer a lazy Christian who cries out for help in time of desperation. Still, in general, this overall principle holds true; doing little or no work results in little or no faith. We see this so plainly in everyday life, in that one who does not work a job should not expect to receive a wage. “Increase our faith,” the disciples ask of their Lord. And by this parable, He shows them that if they are going to have faith, then they must be a worker.
But then the Lord goes even further with this principle. When the servant finishes a day’s work of plowing or feeding cattle and comes in from the field, he does not go and sit down to meat (his evening meal). Rather he works overtime by girding himself and serving his master while the master eats. After ending this overtime, then the servant ends his day of service. So this is the lesson the Lord gave to the disciples when they asked Him to increase their faith. You are to work overtime for the Lord, if you are going to have strong faith to see Him work for you in great ways. You are to be like Job and be without rest. Those with the strongest faith are those who work the hardest and longest for their Lord. If you want great faith to see mountains moved and trees plucked up and planted in the sea, then work overtime for your Lord. It is as simple as that. And most of us are able to do long, hard work.
Look at another important point here. “Doeth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.” (Verse 9) We should joyfully do all that our Master commands of us without expecting a word of thanks from Him or praise and thanks from those around us. We are so spoiled that we expect to be lauded by everyone each time we do the least amount of work in service to God. And many people will soon cease their labor, if they are not highly praised for it. How immature such people are.
Please don’t forget Satan’s first rebuttal when God asked him to consider God’s perfect and upright servant, Job. “Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?” (Job 1:9) Looks like the devil thinks that likely Job has to have all these riches, many children, good position in life, and the thanks and praise of man and God, to fear God and serve Him. He must think that if God takes away all these good things from Job and gives him nothing but misery, that Job would turn on God and curse God to His Face. “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. (Job 1:10&11)
But the ol’ devil was so wrong about Job, and how God delighted to use Job to prove the devil wrong. And God now wants to take just as much delight in proving the devil wrong in regard to you and me. May we be like Job and give God that delight.
“Heavenly Father, I do want Thee to have that delight, from my life also. And I must have Thy Help to enable me to be firm, steadfast, and determined to labor for Thee overtime, for nought. No pay. No reward. No thanks. No NOTHING! Nothing but misery if that is what it takes for Thee to prove to the devil that I will serve Thee for nought. But it is absolutely impossible for me to be perfect and upright like that, by my own power. I know that and Thou well knowest that. So by Thy Unlimited Power, please help me to be like that. I pray this for Brother Richard also. And I pray it for all other Christian believers too. Please help us all, Lord, with the strength and determination that can only come from Thee. Amen.”
Now going back to Luke Chapter 17, in verse 9 we see God instructing us to do what He commands of us without any thanks for it. Why? That answer is in verse 10. “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” We are not to expect thanks, because we are unprofitable servants who are simply doing our duty. In this parable, Christ plainly teaches us that putting in overtime for Him is simply doing our duty and it is not something for which we should expect thanks to be heaped upon us. May God help us to serve Him for nought. May He help us to serve Him overtime without any thanks at all. May He help us to labor without rest. May He help us to be like Job. Please grant all these requests, Lord, I pray.
God help us to never lose sight of how unprofitable we fallen creatures are, to Him our Creator. Our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in His Sight. Therefore it behooves us to clearly understand, firmly believe, and readily confess to others; that it is our just duty to do all the things, which our Lord commands us to do. In this parable, the servant was commanded to work overtime. Therefore it is no more than our duty to do the same. We are duty bound to God to be like Job and lay aside rest at times to labor long hours for Him.
And rest assured that God is not a cruel taskmaster to demand this of us. Consider our Lord’s example. He joyfully left His Throne of Glory and came to this sin-sick world. While on this earth, He rose up early to pray and at times He prayed alone all night. He would continue to receive and heal the multitudes of sick when He and His disciples were weary. Finally He poured out the last drop of His Life’s blood to provide a ransom for us lost sinners. Because He did all that and much more for our sakes, we should count it a great joy to work overtime for Him. And instead of expecting praise and thanks for doing so, we should simply count it a precious privilege and a just duty to be allowed to do all the work for Him that we possibly can. Working overtime for God and having this proper attitude toward that long, hard work is essential to having strong faith toward God.
“Heavenly Father, please help me to have the proper attitude toward serving Thee with all my might. Please teach me all Thy Truth concerning what Brother Richard is saying here. Give me a heart that will listen to Thy instructions to me regarding this, and then give me a will to zealously put into practice in my life what Thou teachest me. I pray these things for all the other people who read this. Amen.”
In December 1995, when I went back to Alabama from Japan for a short time, I requested volunteer help for some work I was doing there. A close friend of mine who is a good Christian and so pleasing to God as she works diligently for Him, asked me concerning the much work I needed to get done; “Is our Lord such a hard taskmaster that He makes us work so?”
NO! TEN THOUSAND TIMES, NO! He certainly is not. He never drives me nor forces me to work for Him. Rather I GLADLY do it purely of my own free will. And I do it with a heart full and overflowing with praise and thanksgiving to Him for showing such great mercy to me by giving His Own Life so I could be saved from the eternal punishment of my sins in Hell, have the privilege of serving Him here on earth, and enjoy eternal bliss with Him in Heaven after this life. Oh what abundant mercy and grace that all is, for which we all should be so thankful. And to think that He allows each of us redeemed the wonderful privilege of telling other lost souls about His salvation available to them. Truly all of this is joy unspeakable and full of glory! And something would be terribly wrong with me if I didn’t get more excited about working overtime for the King of Great Glory, than people get excited about a ball game or other such worldly pleasures.
The greatest privilege you have on this earth is that of serving your Creator and bringing pleasure to Him. Doing so will also give you the most fulfilled and most happy life you can have. I have learned that from wonderful experience.
“Lord Jesus, have mercy on me and help me to never, ever consider Thee a hard taskmaster just because Thou hast given such an unprofitable servant as me, the privilege of serving Thee, the One True God Who created me. Please give me the spiritual maturity to understand that all else I do in this life is nothing, compared to what I do for Thy Glory. Help me not to grumble. Help me not to complain. Rather help me to be a bright and shining testimony before all those around me, as to what a joy life is when one serves Thee with all one’s heart. Help other Christians also, to realize just what a wonderful privilege it is to serve Thee wholly and help all of us believers to do so, Lord, I pray. Amen.”
No, ten thousands times, no! Our Lord God is NOT a hard taskmaster. And don’t you ever dare to consider Him as such. Don’t ever dare accuse Him of being that because He certainly is not. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30) That is most true of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But I can give you some good examples of creatures who definitely ARE hard taskmasters. Many human employers are such. But people keep right on working for them in return for unrighteous mammon, while they hypocritically consider God a hard taskmaster because He has ordained that we unprofitable beings work for Him overtime.
Many educators are hard taskmasters as they push your children to excel and rise up in this world. But we almost never hear any criticism of them. Rather we hear them greatly praised, as they are held in such high esteem for feeding your children the knowledge of good and evil. And in many cases, the harder a taskmaster a teacher is, the more he or she is praised for it.
Most of the coaches, trainers, and such people, who keep the idol god of “sports” on its throne, certainly are hard taskmasters and you know that to be a fact. Also you know that is exactly what all those involved in worshipping this idol want in coaches and trainers. They want hard taskmasters who will produce tough athletes. And Christian parents will watch their own children, just in practice and training, being pushed to the limit by these hard taskmasters, until those young athletes literally drop. Then do those Christian parents criticize those coaches and trainers for being hard taskmasters? Almost never will they do that. Rather they typically highly praise those hard taskmasters for doing such a good job in making their children into sports idols for everyone to worship.
And it is not rare at all, for you to be a hard taskmaster on your own self. You will labor hard and long, often putting in much overtime to accomplish your own selfish goals and to gain the things of this life that you lust after, often little of which glorifies God. And all the time, you are doing it with an attitude that it is unreasonable and cruel of God to ask much from you in service to Him, you sinful hypocrite.
Many of us are heavily laden with sinful hypocrisy. And the Judge of the Universe is keeping an accurate, detailed record of our sin of hypocrisy in this matter. So each hypocrite is going meet that record on Judgment Day, as he trembles before the Throne. Prepare to meet Thy God!
“Heavenly Father, please have mercy on us all. I do regularly see this gross hypocrisy abounding everywhere in many Christians’ lives, even my own. Wake us up, Lord. Help us to see ourselves as Thou seeth us, sinful hypocrites in Thy Sight. Teach us again the terror of the Lord. Help us to repent and serve Thee with fear and trembling. Do look upon us in mercy and by Thy Power; create within us a heart that desires to do right in these matters. Help us to forsake our idolatry of working so hard to enjoy the pleasures of the world. Please give us a heart to joyfully work for Thee, long and hard. Help us to do it with thanksgiving, counting it a privilege to be allowed to serve Thee. Amen.”
Oh how God detests hypocrisy, and rest assured that you can never fool Him with it. A few pages back, I wrote of that man on Guam who scornfully told me those girls would catch a cold out there singing in the rain. But on that hot, tropical island, it is common for children to play out in the rain. I doubt if he objects to that or would be concerned about children catching a cold by playing in the rain there. If that is the case, then he was a hypocrite in what he said to me.
Think on this. If rain starts toward the end of some ball game being played outdoors by children or teenage athletes, often they play on till the end of the game. And you know how those kids come off that playing field, bone tired, soaking wet, and some of them have already caught a cold out there. Also you know how the cheerleaders come off the field, wet and their voices hoarse or totally gone, from yelling and screaming in that rain. But most important of all, you know how everyone looks upon them all, with such a spirit of admiration and praise, for giving maximum effort to that game. Their fervent zeal for sports stems from their love for it, a thing of the world. And in the same way, that man on Guam was scornful of 3 girls singing praises to God out in the rain, because he was a God hater. That’s why it rubbed him the wrong way for them not to let the rain interfere with them singing praises to God. He was just looking for a lying excuse to voice his opposition.
And if you serve God with all your heart, Christians around you who are “lovers of self,” will scorn you for the same reason; because it just rubs them the wrong way by convicting their guilty, backslidden souls. Pay no attention to their scorn. Just keep on serving the Lord God with all your heart. Don’t let sinful men control you. Do that which pleases God. Set your face like a flint and stand up for right.
Teenage athletes catch colds and pneumonia while practicing and competing out in the cold, damp, and rain. And you know how greatly they are praised and admired for it. Also, you know how their cruel taskmasters (the coaches) are also praised and admired for pushing them so hard. As little children, teens, and college kids pour out their utmost to the idol of sports, the bones snap and break. Ligaments, tendons, and muscles are strained and torn. Skin is scraped, torn, ripped, and cut. Jaws are broken. Teeth are broken, knocked loose, and knocked out. Skulls pop and brains get scrambled with concussions. Necks and backs get broken, leaving some of those young men paralyzed for life. And every year, several young people under the age of 20 die from sports injuries.
But among all their parents, teachers, and fan(atics), who will rise up and call those coaches and trainers hard task masters? Who will call on them to go easier? Usually no one will do that. That is because when you have a god that you fervently love, you just can’t do too much for that god. And as the injured kids lie on a hospital bed with limbs in traction and such, and the paralyzed adjust to life in a wheelchair, everyone comes around and praises them for the effort they put forth. And at the funerals of those who die from injuries in the sports arenas, those dead youth are eulogized and praised for serving this idol of sports with all their effort. (No one issues a warning that they had better get out of the rain.)
Go to any sporting event where the athletes are between 6 and 20 years old and just look at what has been prepared in advance in the way of bandages, antiseptics, gauze, splints, stretchers, gurneys, ambulances, medics, doctors, and such. Why is all that gloomy stuff there ready and waiting? It is because the false, idol god of sports hurts, injures, paralyzes, kills, and such. But that does not seem to faze its worshipers one bit, though it certainly does stir up the wrath of God against it.
And with all that in mind, my blood just boils over in rage when a God-hating wicked sinner scorns me about the “danger” of 3 girls out in a warm, tropical rain singing praises to God. Away with you, man. I’ll have nothing of you coming up to me and spewing out such from your wicked, God-hating heart. Glory be to God that I have stood out in public for hundreds of hours with groups of children singing praises to God and never did one of them receive any injury from it. Some of them sang till they lost their voice, which they quickly recovered. But none ever got teeth knocked out, bones broken, skin torn, paralyzed, or killed; which is what thousands of little kids get worshiping the god of sports while all the adults highly praise them for receiving all that abuse. Not a one of the girls singing out in public with me, ever died from getting struck in the head with a hockey puck, as happened to a 13 year old girl fan at an NHL game around 20 March, 2,002. But I have not heard one voice calling for banning the NHL because it kills young girls. HYPOCRITES!
That is why I have absolutely no patience with any hypocrite scorning me by saying 3 girls will catch a cold, singing praises to God out in the rain on a hot day in the tropics. The only reason he objected to them singing out there and I rejoiced over it, was because he was on the devil’s side in the matter and I was on God’s side. And with God’s Help, that is where I will stay, FOREVER! Who is on the Lord’s side?
“Lord God, please help me to always be on Thy Side. Loving Thee with all my heart. Serving Thee with all my might. And always counting it such a joy to do so. Wake up other Christians so they can see their sins of idolatry in loving and serving many other things more than they love and serve Thee. Convict us all, grant us repentance, help us to forsake our idols, and love and serve Thee with all our heart and strength. Grant this, Lord, I pray. Amen.”
In 1995, when I was in Alabama and requested volunteer help, a friend of mine there told another person that I was out of touch with the present situation there and just didn’t realize how that times have changed and there just aren’t any volunteer helpers now. I well understood what he was saying. But whether or not people answer the call for volunteer help, sort of depends on what kind of help one wants. Most social and community projects get a good response when they frequently ask for volunteers, especially if it pertains to the school and/or sports.
Ask for volunteer help with a big fundraiser to get money to buy uniforms for the high school band, and watch a multitude flock out to put in long hours for that project. Christians will volunteer in number to work hard to raise much money to buy expensive, little, skimpy pieces of shiny cloth that are to be form-fitted over part of the torso of each majorette in the band. That “uniform” is so thin and fitted so tightly that it just about completely reveals the exact shape of her entire torso as she wildly struts and flings her half-naked body around wantonly with her bare legs flying wide apart in all directions. Such a lewd, immodest, sinful scene that is, in front of many eyes filled with lust. But Christians do happily volunteer in numbers to raise the funds needed to carry on that indecent wickedness. One reason some Christians volunteer to help raise that money is because it is their own daughter out there with her nakedness on display before the whole world as her Christian parents, filled with sinful pride, proudly look onto that which is a sinful, abominable shame in the Eyes of a Holy God.
I have observed that most anyone will volunteer many long hours and do without rest to labor for and to promote that which they love. What an eternal tragedy that so many people love sin and the world, instead of God their Creator.
Though the fields of human souls are white unto harvest, the labourers are few. One main reason is because Christians’ love lieth elsewhere. Therefore their time and energies go elsewhere. There certainly isn’t a shortage of sports fans, is there? There certainly isn’t a shortage of Christians who aren’t like Job, is there? And the devil who so despised Job’s existence, just beams with glee over where many Christians’ love lieth.
But YOU do not have to be like the devil’s crowd. You do not have to be like backslidden, pleasure-loving Christians at all. You CAN be like Job and labour without rest for that which counts for all eternity. You can be like Job and not have rest from laying up eternal treasures. You can be like Job and be perfect and upright before God, if you just want to be.
“Lord God, that is what I want to be. So I now give my heart to Thee regarding this matter. Please create within it a pure love for Thee that will overcome my love for things that do not glorify Thee. Create within me a heart that delights to serve Thee and work for Thee all the time. Save me from the hypocrisy of saying I love Thee, but then spend so much time, money, and effort on what pleases me. Save all other Christians from this hypocrisy too. Smite us all with Holy conviction as to just how displeased Thou art about Christians spending much time day and night madly pursuing that which pleases them no matter how much it tires, wearies, and injures them, and all the while they make lying excuses that they do not have time to serve Thee. Please give us a clear vision of how severe Thy awaiting Judgment is to be, against such wickedness of lying and hypocrisy. Wake us up spiritually. Grant us repentance and a change of heart in these matters. By Thy Mercy and Grace, help us all, Lord, I do pray. Amen.”
My friend asked me if Christ was such a hard taskmaster to make me labor so. NO, He certainly is not! I serve Him as I do, because I delight in doing so. But come Judgment Day, many Christians will likely wish that Christ had been a hard taskmaster to them in this life. There they will stand with blood on their hands; the blood of all those whom they failed to witness to about their need for the Saviour. With bloody hands, they will watch those eternally lost family members and friends bound in chains of fire and cast headlong into the lake of fire to weep, wail, and gnash their teeth forever. Likely they will THEN wish their Creator and Judge had been a hard taskmaster to them during this present life. Likely they will THEN wish He had forced them to labor for Him without rest. What bitter remorse there will be on Judgment Day, when we see the eternal loss that has resulted from our spiritual laziness in this life. But then it will be eternally to late to do anything about it. What a tragedy that will be for believers who were not like Job.
But it is not too late right now. You have the perfect chance to change right now and be totally different for the rest of your life here on earth. You can determine that from this day forward, you will be like Job and labor without rest for your Creator God. I pray that you will do that. If you just have the desire, then Almighty God will give you all the Divine Help you need to be like Job in this matter.
“Lord Jesus, I do not want to stand in Thy Judgment with blood on my hands. So please help me, I beg Thee. Please give me courage to witness to the many lost souls around me. Please help me to cease using much time for my own selfish motives and for my own pleasure. Help me to be a dedicated worker for Thee. Please work in other Christians’ hearts also, and awaken them to just how tragic it will be for them to have the blood of lost souls on their hands on Judgment Day. Prod them, and me too, to get busy laboring fervently in the fields that are white unto harvest. Change us all and revive us in great power, dear Lord, I pray. Amen.”
Do you want to increase your faith? Do you want to be a giant of strong faith to see the fortresses of evil around you come tumbling down and great victories won for your God? “Neither had I rest.” Then make that your motto if you are desirous for the Lord to increase your faith. Anyone who is a giant in faith will be one who is giving God lots of overtime. Any Christian believer who is strong in faith will be like Job by being without rest a lot of the time. May God help both you and me to be like that. “Neither had I rest.”
“Lord Jesus, please help me to make this matter of not having rest, as important as Job made it. Please help Brother Richard to do this also. I pray that Thou wouldest deal with Thy body of believers throughout the world, to want to be like Job, and thereby to labor diligently and long in the work of Thy Kingdom. Grant this, dear Lord, I humbly pray. Amen.”
You have only one short life to live here on this earth, during which time a fierce spiritual battle rages and God calls on you to be a good soldier for Him. So do that for your Lord and Master. Make that life of yours count to the fullest for God’s Glory. Work, for the night cometh, when no man can work. (John 9:4)
“Lord Jesus, I do want to be a good soldier in Thine Army and fight for right with all my might. Help me to do that. Help me to equip myself to fight for Thee by praying much and reading and meditating on Thy Word much. By Thy Unlimited power, please enable me to render devastating defeats to Thine enemy, the devil, and to his crowd of followers also. Please equip me with strong faith to see his strongholds and bastions of sin and evil come tumbling down. By Thy Power, please strengthen me mentally and physically to labour for Thee and to fight for Thee long and hard without rest. I pray this prayer for all other Christians also. Please grant all these requests in Thy Fullest Measure and Greatest Power, Lord, I humbly pray. Lord Jesus, without Thee, we can do nothing. So please help all us believers to totally yield to Thee for Thee to work Thy Great Works within us. Amen.”
Why do you think God gave you life, energy, strength, a sound body, and a sound mind? The number one reason is for you to use them to glorify Him by serving Him during this life, mainly by labouring in His fields of harvest. Don’t you dare meet Him in Judgment, having wasted that life on selfish pleasures.
“Lord God, I do not want to waste my life on selfish pleasures. I want to live to please Thee, to serve Thee to the utmost. Please fill me with Thy Holy Spirit’s Power to enable me to do so. Amen.”
I see physically handicapped people and I wonder why I am so blessed with such good health. And I fear to waste it on self, least God take it from me. The blessing of good health and a strong body is God’s gracious gift to me. So why shouldn’t I dedicate it to Him and use it for Him.
“Heavenly Father, I now want to totally dedicate my physical body to Thee, anew. Thank Thee for creating me and giving me life to serve Thee and glorify Thee. Upon my confession of now totally dedicating my body to Thee for Thy use, I humbly ask Thee to have mercy on me and heal all my diseases and sicknesses, if that be Thy Will. Also please empower me to serve Thee even more. Amen.”
I see mentally handicapped people and pour out my heart in Thanksgiving to God for the sound mind with which He hath blessed me. God forbid that I use it to rise up and be great in the world. God forbid that I use it for my own pleasure. God help me to use it to stay in constant fellowship with my Creator, to regularly read and study His Word, to pray to Him without ceasing, and to spread His Word to everyone I can.
“Heavenly Father, I want to dedicate my mind totally to Thee. Please help me to do so. Upon my confession of dedicating my mind to Thee, I ask Thee to please heal my mind of all the worries, fears, doubts, and wrong thoughts and teachings that I have allowed to enter in to it. Please completely cleanse my mind by the power of the shed blood of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Make my mind into the perfect mind Thou intended it to be. May all the thoughts and words that proceed from it glorify Thee to the fullest. Amen.”
It only stands to reason that we creatures who are so blessed by the Creator with a sound body and mind would joyfully labor for Him day and night, most content and even joyful that we have no rest. It doesn’t make any sense at all that you can happily put many long, tiring hours into the things that bring you pleasure, such as hunting, fishing, partying, picnicking, sports, and all kinds of hobbies and pleasures; and then not be able to stay up for a watch night service or to pray all night. Hypocrite. Only one life you have to live. Make it count for God and for all eternity. All that is consumed upon “self” will be loss. Please don’t let your life be wasted.
“Lord Jesus, please help me to get my priorities in order. Help me to be temperate in pleasures for self and diligent in pouring out my life’s energies for Thee. Please give me a renewed vision of Thy Great Glory. Give me clear understanding of just how vain and fleeting are all the things of this present world. Help me to hate the world and love Thee. Grant this, Lord, I earnestly pray. Amen.”
Any time now, I am going to depart this life and meet my Saviour in Judgment, the One Who gave His Life for me. I can’t bear to think of standing before Him ashamed because my life here was wasted on the world and the things of the world. Empty handed. No souls won. No rewards in Heaven. Blood on my hands because I failed to warn the lost people around me of their approaching doom. How tragic. Forget about rest now. We can rest in Heaven. Let’s be like Job now.
“Neither had I rest.”
With passing time, my heart steadily gets fuller with joy over what God has enabled me to do for the cause of Christ. You will find that the opposite is true of worldly pleasures. The joy derived from them decreases, as one grows older. More and more, I thank God for the burning zeal He has given me down through the years, to labor for Him long hours, without rest at times.
As the return of our Lord and the end of time draweth nigh, it behooves all of us believers to go all out in this final stretch of the race. Also, we must never forget that at any moment, death could overtake us and end our life here on earth. As each day passes, the opportunities to labor for the Lord on that day also pass away forever, never to be available again.
God help us all to be diligent not to waste any one day.
“Heavenly Father, please help me to do just that. Help me to serve Thee diligently each day as if it were my last day on earth, which it may very well be. At the end of each day, help me to pause and consider that I now have one less day remaining to serve Thee in this life. Oh Lord, I don’t want to waste any day of my life. So please help me not to. I pray this prayer for all other Christians also. Amen.
In 1983, I finished writing my first book manuscript, and was most desirous to have it printed. But I didn’t have the money to pay for it. So, similar to Paul making tents, I began to work jobs to get money to print the book. In late December of 1983, I went from Japan to Guam to do evangelistic work there. As soon as I arrived on Guam, I started looking for a “paying” job also. I found a night job working from 1 A.M. to 9 A.M. six days a week. As soon as I started working that job, I asked them for more hours of work when they could use me and they gave me lots of overtime. Once, I worked that job 24 hours straight.
I also went to a Vietnamese friend on Guam who had an auto body repair shop and asked if he could use me part-time. He said he could use me for about 5 hours a day, 3 or 4 days a week; washing cars and sanding them, sweeping the floor, cleaning up the shop and such. I gladly took the job. I went to Pastor Fagan at Temple Baptist Church and asked if he could use me in the construction work he was doing on the church. And he hired me for a few hours a week.
So after working the 1 to 9 A.M. job, I usually went and sanded cars at the body shop, or went and helped with construction at the church till 3 P.M. or so. And the only reason I quit work so early was because I had a daily evangelistic service in my apartment at 4 P.M. I would rush back there, clean up, and have that service for an hour or so. At the end of it, I usually took the children out onto the apartment grounds to sing and preach to the people there. Then I sometimes went out and preached in public a while in the early evening before getting 4 hours or so of sleep to be back at work at 1 A.M.
As I had asked my night employer to give me more hours of work when available, sometimes they would call me in early, at 9 or 10 P.M. I had no phone in my apartment. I worked at a security agency, so I told the man in the office to radio their patrol car and have the officer in it swing by my place and pound on my bedroom window when they wanted me to come in early. Often that pounding on my bedroom window ended my night’s sleep long before I got 4 hours of it.
I got so weary with working so long each day that when I was able to get just 4 hours of sleep at night, that seemed like such a long rest. One night, I pillowed my head dead tired and hoped desperately to get at least 2 hours or more of sleep before I heard a pounding on the window. Each night as I lay down on my pallet most weary, I just about instantly “passed out” in sleep. And just as I got laid down on this particular night and was quickly “passing out” with hopes of lying there over 2 hours, there was a loud pounding on the window.
“Tom wants you to come in and relieve him now.”
“O.K. Tell him I’ll be right there.” And away I went to work. That night, I just got the “hope” of sleep.
Of course, no one can carry on indefinitely with little or no rest. And I do believe that God has ordained that we usually have a night’s rest following a day of labor. But the Gospels give us accounts of our Saviour going out and praying all night on occasions. That is a good example for us to follow. Job’s example of having no rest is also a good one for us to follow. Also is the servant in Luke 17:7-10, who worked over time without thanks for doing it, rather considered it his duty. Those of us who are saved belong to God twice. He made us. Then He bought us, God the Son purchasing our salvation on Calvary with the price of His Life and His shed blood. There- fore we should joyfully feel duty bound to give God our all.
“Lord God, help me to do just that. Help me to give Thee my all, holding back nothing. Teach me what a joy it is to serve Thee with all my heart, soul, and strength. Change my heart so that working for Thee becomes the greatest pleasure I know, and thereby give me greater zeal and desire for serving Thee than I have for doing anything else. I pray this for all other Christians also. Amen.”
From early January till sometime in March of 1984, I worked like that on Guam, averaging about 16 hours a day, 6 days a week on those jobs that paid a wage. In addition to that, I daily did evangelistic work. Then I returned to Japan and got rested and recovered. I had earned what money I could toward printing the first book I had written. And about 6 months later, by the grace of God I got it printed. On the cover of it in large print is: “FREE, NEVER TO BE SOLD.” In obedience to my Saviour’s command to, “Freely give,” (Matthew 10:8) those words are on the covers of all my books.
In 1986, I started a part-time business here in Japan. Adding it to my missionary work has resulted in more of, “Neither had I rest.” Since 1986, with God as my Helper, that business has provided funds to get out tons of Bibles and Christian literature, all of it free to the receiver. To God be the glory for it all.
Therefore God has taught me to stand with Him against those who merchandise Jesus and excuse it with the sinful lie that it is just not possible to always give away Bibles and Christian literature. And if we do give that away, then to finance it, we must beg people for money like crazy, and do it in God’s Name as if He were poor.
Some of those gospel merchants say they must at least recover the cost of it by selling what they have printed and recorded. But very few of them stop with just recovering the cost. While in the States in 1985, I would sometimes look at the price of books in Christian bookstores. I had just had a 400 page paperback book printed, 10,000 copies of it at one time. The printing cost was right at $1 per book for that size of a printing order. In Christian bookstores, the prices on paperback books with about 400 pages, ranged from $9 to $12 or so, the average being about $10.
Typically about 50% of that is the bookstore’s profit. It cost about $1 to print that book you paid over $10 to buy (in 1985). So above the store owner’s profit and the cost of printing remains about $4 for the author and for the publisher. The publisher must promote the book in a worldly fashion, telling how necessary that book is to you and pushing you to buy it. Merchandising the great King of Kings and Lord of Lords, crowning Him with a crown of scorn and thorns. How it robs Him of His Great Glory.
But with my eyes clearly on my Saviour’s command to “freely give,” God forbid that I ever consider cheapening Him and dishonouring Him by merchandising my Precious Lord and Master. I work till I drop to earn the printing cost (only about one-tenth of the world’s retail price). And you, who want to read my books, get to do so for free. To God be the glory! I do not tell you this to brag on myself. I do it to give God the glory for what He has enabled me to accomplish in His Wonderful Name. I tell it to you as an example of what can be accomplished when we forego rest as Job did. And I speak it to all of God’s creation to declare that there is absolutely no excuse for any sinful disobedience to Almighty God, when He commands us to “freely give.”
As these writings of mine go out, what a blessing it is to get letters from Christians who always obey God’s command to “freely give,” and also do not beg people for the money to finance that. I know that a lot of Christians do right in this matter and what great glory God receives from your obedience. By His Grace, please keep it up. And may God bless you in every way and pour out a great abundance upon you in reward for your obedience. By the way, telling people they can have your book, tape, CD, video, and such, for an “offering” of a certain amount; does not qualify as giving it away. That is selling it.
“Heavenly Father, please deal with Christians to not merchandise Thy Eternal Word. Clearly show the ones who do it that they are entirely without excuse for their sinful disobedience to Thy command, “freely give.” Cause them to cease turning Thy Glory into shame with this sinful disobedience. Show them that much can be accomplished by them laboring without rest, to fund the spreading of Thy Word. Help them to follow Job’s example of not having rest and Paul’s example of labouring at making tents to obtain the funds he needed.
Help us to shun the methods of the world in serving Thee. Please give us a new burning desire to please and glorify God, no matter how hard we have to labour without rest to do so. Please enable us to do right in these matters. Thank Thee, Lord, for the Christians who do obey Thy command to “freely give,” and do not beg people in Thy Name for money to fund what they give away free. Bless them greatly for this obedience and provide an abundance of supply to them so they can give away more. Please continue to bless Brother Richard as he freely gives. As for the Christians who labour long hours to fund their free giving, may the joy of the Lord be their strength. Please uphold and sustain their physical health and strength to enable them to continue their work for Thee. Please grant these requests, Lord, I pray. Amen.”
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Normally it is quite easy to see where a person’s heart is just by observing how he spends his money.
In 1985, I talked to a young Christian man living in rural Alabama, not a place where many rich people live. He told me that his house had burned down some time ago and that his family had lost all their possessions in their house (along with the house). At the time of the fire, his household goods were valued at $70,000 (in the early 1980’s). That amount does not include the value of his dwelling, just the “things” inside the house. So $70,000 worth of one family’s possessions had gone up in smoke. That makes expensive ashes.
On hearing that, I thought of how I hadn’t spent much over $700 for everything in my little house in Japan, and some of that included things bought for use in evangelistic work. Many of my few household goods were worn out things that missionaries and other people had discarded, and I had joyfully received for free. I had pulled a few of my household goods out of other people’s garbage. Most of my money had gone to freely giving the Gospel. Hallelujah! That is where I love to see it go, being spent on that which counts forever.
With the husband, and possibly the wife also, working a paying job, over the years just watch the house, garage, yard, and all their property fill up with tens of thousands of dollars worth of earthly treasures; while all the time they complain of just barely being able to make it financially and they only have a mere pittance to give to God. Living for self.
What each of us does with our time, talents, and money is our personal choice to make. I do not write this to dictate to you what you are to do with your life. Rather I am simply God’s messenger trying to clearly show you what a wonderful thing it is for anyone to do that which makes him perfect and upright in the sight of God his Creator.
“Heavenly Father, I do want to make this a primary goal in my life, being perfect and upright before Thee. Please help me to fully believe that with Thee all things are possible. Help me to be totally desirous to be perfect and upright before God, in order to see Thee accomplish that in my life for me. I pray that you will give all other Christians this desire also, and help them to be perfect and upright in Thy Sight. Help us all, Lord, I pray. Amen.”
I have made my own choice in the matter. And though in my weakness, I fail God so much in so many ways, I am most happy in my basic choice of wanting to be like Job and labour without rest for my Lord. And I have complete confidence that I will remain happy about that choice for all eternity. And now I write this to you to ask you to seriously think on what choice in this matter you want to live with for all eternity.
“Neither had I rest.” May God help us all to be like Job!
“Heavenly Father, please give me a heart, a mind, and a will to be like Job when he said, ‘Neither had I rest.’ Make me into a believer who delights to serve Thee with all my might. Give me a renewed burden for the lost souls around me. Break my heart over the eternal torments that await them in Hell. Help me to intercede much for them. With Thy Help, please enable me to do everything I can to win lost souls to the Saviour of the world.
Heavenly Father, I know that Thou hast a divine plan for my life here on earth, which includes certain works for me to do for Thee. Please give me Thy Guidance, Wisdom, and Discernment to know exactly what labours Thou hast ordained for me. Please show me clearly what I am to do, so I will not waste my time and efforts on my own vain plans and schemes. Please give me the physical strength and the wisdom needed to do all the works Thou hast ordained for me. Please give me a mind and will to work long and hard for Thee. Please help me to truly be able to say with Job, ‘Neither had I rest.’ I pray this prayer for all other Christians also. Please come now, Lord, and work a great and glorious work in all our hearts, I earnestly pray. Amen.”
(This is the end of Chapter Three of the book, SAFETY, REST, AND QUIET.)