This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- This Week’s Sermon


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

HELP ME, HELP ME!

by Steve Shepherd

Romans 15:30-15:33

We all need help in life, even the best of us. God allows us all to get to that point in life even though we’d like to be as independent as possible.

The soldier’s first article of faith is summed up in an 1865 letter from Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman to U.S. Grant: “I knew wherever I was that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight place you would come–if alive.”

If you were alive you would come and help me. How great is that?! And it seems to me that this should be our article of faith as Christians or better yet, OUR CODE OF ACTION IN LIFE! We come to the aid of one another if at all possible!

Galatians 6:9-10 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

People need people. The mother said: Laurie was about three when one night she wanted me to help her get undressed. I was downstairs and she was upstairs, and … well. “You know how to undress yourself,” I told her. “Yes,” she explained, ‘but sometimes people need people anyway, even if they do know how to do things by themselves.”

Yes, even though we know how to do many things for ourselves, we still need help occasionally from others.

Some years ago I bought an old used riding mower from a man who was probably 85 years old at that time but he kept that mower spotless. He would even wipe the engine clean after mowing and I don’t know of anyone who does that. I figured it had to be a good mower. The only problem was that he said you had to run the mower with the choke pulled out, otherwise, it just wouldn’t run. He didn’t know why and I didn’t know why but I took him at his word and ran the mower just like he said.

Well, finally after several years that mower started to give me some trouble. It died on me and wouldn’t start. I had to replace a fuel filter that was apparently clogged with dirt. I thought I had it cured and ran it for some time. Well, it finally quit on me again and once again, I replaced the fuel filter because it had particles of rubber than came out of the gas tank. Still, I couldn’t get it started so one day I asked one of our men if he could look at it. I know a few things about gasoline engines and mowers, but I figured he knew a lot more about them. AND HE DOES.

When he came to house, the mower started. But he said that I shouldn’t have to run that mower with that choke pulled out all the way. He said he thought he knew what was wrong it. He took it home and blew out carburetor and it now it works like it’s supposed to do…and better than it ever did since I bought it.

EVERYBODY NEEDS HELP OCCASIONALLY EVEN IF THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING OR SEEM TO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. And Ray is a good fix-it mower man!

In our text, the apostle Paul appeals to his brothers and sisters in Christ to help him in various ways. Is it wrong to ask for help? No, but pride may keep us from asking at times, that is, until we get between a rock and a hard place and then we may proclaim clearly, “Help me, help me!” “Can somebody help me?”

We can learn to help one another through Paul’s experience about asking for help. Here is what I see in this text:

1- We must be motivated by Christ to help one another

2- We must struggle with one another in prayer

3- We must rescue one another from evil

I. WE MUST BE MOTIVATED BY CHRIST TO HELP ONE ANOTHER

I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. What moves you in life? What motivates you to get going and/or do anything good in life?

For some it’s this way: “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go.” No, it’s more like: “I owe, I owe so it’s off to work I go.”

Money does motivate most people to work, so we can buy cars, houses, play things, take trips, eat out, etc. Without a certain amount of money you can’t do these things. Unless you charge everything and there will eventually come an end to that. The love of money and love of material things can consume a person and lead them into a lot of trouble.

I Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Either you have your money or your money has you. You control your money or it controls you. True with material things. Either you use them or they control your life.

But isn’t there something more or better to motivate us in life to serve and do good to others? We don’t do everything for money or shouldn’t.

Bible scholar/commentator (it took him 40 years to write his Bible commentary), Adam Clarke was, in early life, a notoriously dull scholar. He was dumb. He could hardly learn the alphabet, and became discouraged through the severity of his teachers. His teacher presented him to a stranger as a grievous dunce.

Laying his hand on his head, the stranger said, “This lad will make a good scholar.” After that, he wet his books with his tears. One day, after a terrible rebuke from a teacher, he felt as if something had given way in his head. Ever since that time, he was able to master any lesson. INTERESTING.

What did that stranger do by laying hands on him? Did he just lay hands on him or he did lay hands on him and pray for him? That’s what I suspect he did, in the sense of asking God’s blessing on him in a special way.

II Timothy 2:6-7 “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Is there something special about the laying on of hands? Well, yes, if nothing else it’s a union of believers praying over someone for some particular reason, asking for God’s blessing, etc.

I was ordained to preach by the elders of the Fairview Christian Church of Carthage, MO, on February 4, 1968. The preacher gave me the charge to preach as he read scripture from Paul to Timothy. The elders then came up front, had me kneel down, and they all laid hands on either my head or my shoulders and each one prayed for me.

DID IT DO ANY GOOD? Well, yes, but I never felt any special empowerment but I most certainly felt more motivated to do my work, knowing that these men believed in me and prayed for me.

Where do we get our motivation for doing good to one another? Actually, it should come from the Lord and His Spirit. I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.

Philippians 2:1-4 “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

If you are united with Christ and have any fellowship with the Holy Spirit (allowing Him to work in you) then serve one another! Do we recognize how God can work in us through Christ and the Holy Spirit? We should.

II. WE MUST STRUGGLE WITH ONE ANOTHER IN PRAYER

I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do you think we should pray for one another? Is God still God? Is Jesus still the Savior?

Bob Stacy was my English teacher at Ozark Christian College in the 1960’s. I now wish I’d had him for some other classes. I was never really close to Bob until the last few years when we reconnected via email. One of our mutual friends had sent him a sermon that I had written and preached. Bob got my email address from him and wrote he. He wrote, “Did you write this sermon?” Like, ‘YOU DID THIS!”

He wrote in some surprise but at the same time he wrote to commend me. I guess he didn’t think that I could write anything that good having had me in English class! But that email note got us reconnected and now we communicate almost every day by email. And Bob is my excellent prayer-partner and prayer-supporter. If I have any special need or person that I would like to have him pray for, HE WILL. And I will for him as well. ISN’T THIS THE WAY IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE?

Ephesians 6:19-20 “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

Pray for me whenever I open my mouth.

I guess you could look at that several different ways! Like, “Lord, help him to know when to stop preaching.” However, the text is indicating that we pray for those speak God’s Word to speak it boldly, not fearing anyone but always preaching God’s Word powerfully and accurately.

I have a preacher friend who is the Sr. Minister of the Madison Park Christian Church in Quincy, IL. Their attendance is averaging around 1,000 or more. I have written him, saying something like, “You are a very good preacher. There’s no need to pray for you.” That’s like saying, “Mama is a good cook. We don’t need to pray over her food.” Well, yes, we do, we should. And we should pray for one another regardless of how they are or how talented we might consider them to be.

Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Spiritual prayer is praying for one another.

Matthew 26:36-41 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Jesus asked his disciples to watch and pray but instead, they literally fell asleep. Are we asleep on the job when it comes to praying for one another?

III. WE MUST RESCUE ONE ANOTHER FROM EVIL

Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.

An elderly man lay dying in his bed, suddenly death’s agony was pushed aside as he smelled the aroma of his favorite homemade chocolate chip cookies coming up the stairs.

Gathering his remaining strength, he lifted himself up from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and down the stairs. In labored breath, he leaned against the door frame, gazing wide-eyed into the kitchen. There, spread out on the kitchen table were literally HUNDREDS of his favorite chocolate chip cookies!

Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself toward the table, landing on his knees with one hand on the edge of the table. About that time, he looked up to see his wife, holding her spatula in hand and she said, “Stay out of those cookies! They’re for the funeral.”

What’s the moral of the story? I guess it could be several things. Don’t cross your wife. Or forget about cookies when you are dying. Or maybe, just maybe, that some people who are close to you may turn out your enemy in some form!

Remember what Job’s wife said to him after they lost their wealth and all ten of their children and then Satan afflicted Job with painful sores from the sole of his feet to the crown of his head?

Job 2:9-10 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

It sounds like Job’s wife was not very sympathetic with him. “Just go ahead curse God and die!” It sounds like she was playing the devil’s advocate. She was certainly not spiritually in tune with her husband or the Lord.

Many times in life there may be people around us who are actually unbelievers in some form and may fight against us.

II Thessalonians 3:1-3 “Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

Not everyone has faith. And some of those who don’t have faith in the Lord will fight against everything we try to do for the cause of Christ. And sometimes, these people who have no faith may even be in the church, but God forbid!

II Timothy 4:10 “For Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.”

II Timothy 4:14-15 “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.”

III John 9-10 “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.”

What we should do when we find people fighting against us or again a brother or sister whom we know is doing what is right and good? We support them in prayer, asking for protection from evil and that God would bless their service in spite of opposition.

A preacher friend works full time at his job, but preaches at a church on Sundays and teaches on Wednesday nights. He is run to death with his regular General Manager’s job, but still spend tons of time with his church and ministering for his. He doesn’t even keep the salary that the church pays which is a meager salary at only $15,000 a year and the church averages probably 120 or so. He even gives back to them more than they pay them. That’s how devoted he is and of course, he makes a good salary or else he couldn’t that. And I don’t know of many preachers more devoted to ministry than he is and yet, he will at times find some of his people questioning what he is doing or questioning his motives.

He is true servant of the Lord and is doing things that humble me. He does things for the cause that I have never even thought about doing. And I don’t know how anyone could ever question his work, his motives or his faith. God help him. God bless him. We should support one another in prayer and especially, we see a brother or sister being attacked by some who claim to follow Christ but act like the devil’s advocate.

Help me, help me! I’ll scratch your back and you scratch my back! No, I’ll pray for you in your work and ministry and you pray for me in mine. I’ll support you and you support me. And in the end, the Lord will be the winner!


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