Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Download MP3 (right click to save)
At first, they were frightened even bruised faces appearing on Iraqi TV. Early in the Iraq War, there were seven American soldiers and pilots who had been captured by Saddam Hussein's forces and then they were paraded on television for all the world to see. After that, none of us could be sure whether they were hurt or healthy, or dead or alive. Since then there have been way too many scenes like that. Retreating enemy soldiers informed American troops of the place where these particular POWs were being held. As the heavily armed soldiers burst into the room, they first shouted for everyone to lie down on the floor. And then, they yelled out an unmistakable command: "If you're an American, stand up!" Seven prisoners stood up, and they were free.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Finally - Time to Stand!".
I believe Jesus is issuing a command to you and me that sounds very much like what those POWs heard. Except it's not about being an American-oh no, it's something much higher, much more eternal. Jesus is saying to all those who claim that they belong to Him, "If you're a Christian, stand up!"
Why? Because so few really are. I mean some surveys show that 90% of those who know Christ never tell anyone else about Him. Something is really wrong in this picture. Listen to Paul's challenge in our word for today from the Word of God in 2 Timothy 1:7-8, "God did not give us a spirit of timidity (or it says fear in other translations), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord..." Thank God, our Lord wasn't ashamed of us when He died publicly on a cross for us. He expects us to stand up. Why are so many of us lying low instead?
This willingness to identify ourselves openly with Jesus is so important to Him that He actually says in Mark 8:38, "If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father's glory..." For your relationship with Jesus to remain a secret is just not acceptable in light of the price He paid for you. To have information that can save a life and then keep that information to yourself, that's criminal negligence.
To know that Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead is a person's only eternal hope, and then fail to tell that to the people you know, that's quietly issuing them a spiritual death sentence. You could have rescued them. You left them to die without knowing how they could have lived.
Standing up for Jesus means more than just telling about Him. You've got to live for Him. Like they say in first grade, you've got to show and tell. And there may be compromises you're making or sins you won't relinquish that are discrediting Jesus to some lost person who's watching you. It could be said that your sin is killing them.
We've all been to enough funerals to know that the people around us aren't going to be there forever. And they can be gone so quickly; gone into an eternity that they're either ready for or fatally unready for. If you know Jesus, you know how to help them get ready. But just because you're a nice person doesn't mean they're ever going to figure out that Jesus died on the cross to pay for their sin. You have to tell them that. They're not going to say, "Oh, Joe's such a nice guy, I'll bet Jesus died on the cross for my sins." They won't figure that out. You have to tell them.
Ask God to open up some natural opportunities to bring up your relationship with Jesus. He'll give them to you. Ask Him to open the heart of the one you're talking to. Ask Him to open your mouth; to give you the approach to use, and the words, and the courage to speak. This is life-or-death stuff, and God has placed you in the life of someone who desperately needs His Son. He's placed you there so you could show them Jesus so you can tell them about Jesus.
So, if you're a Christian, stand up!