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


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

May God Be Gracious To Us

by Steve Shepherd

Psalms 67:1-67:7

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, 2 that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.

Warren Wiersbe wrote: “The author this Psalm is unknown, but it was someone who had a vision for the whole world.”

T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) once said, “All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds awake to the day to find it was all vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for the many act out their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible…”

Do you dream at night? Probably. Good dreams, bad dreams or strange dreams? Probably all of the above. The best and greatest dreams involve not just ourselves, but all people of the world. We don’t think only of ourselves, but rather the whole world. This is God’s kind of thinking since Jesus died for all mankind and God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Are you a visionary kind of dreamer? Do you have a vision or a dream for your life, your children’s lives and the whole world? We should and it should involve God’s will because that’s the best and only way to live. It’s the only way to be blessed by God and experience the best kind of life on earth.

It started like so many evenings. Mom and Dad at home and Jimmy playing after dinner. Mom and Dad were absorbed with jobs and didn’t notice the time. It was a full moon and some of the light seeped through the windows. Then Mom glanced at the clock. “Jimmy, it’s time to go to bed. Go up now and I’ll come and settle you later.”

Jimmy went straight upstairs to his room. An hour or so later his mother came up to check if all was well, and to her astonishment found that her son was staring quietly out of his window at the moonlit scenery. “What are you doing, Jimmy?” “I’m looking at the moon, Mommy.” “Well, it’s time to go to bed now.” As that reluctant boy settled down, he said, “Mommy, you know one day I’m going to walk on the moon.”

Who could have known that the boy in whom the dream was planted that night would survive a near fatal motorbike crash which broke almost every bone in his body, and would bring to fruition this dream 32 years later when James Irwin stepped on the moon’s surface, just one of the 12 representatives of the human race to have done so? TALK ABOUT DREAMS AND A DREAMER! Few of us could dream such a great dream and then work to fulfill it.

But please remember than any good and great dream can never be without the grace of God! Every good and perfect gift comes from above!

James Irwin had quite a dream. I don’t know if it was a spiritual thing or not. Perhaps he thought that by walking on the moon he could bless all mankind. Perhaps so. I think all our dreams should include the idea of blessing mankind. This is why God put us on earth; not to serve ourselves but to serve and bless others.

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us.

Consider what will happen when God is gracious to us.

1- His face will shine on us

2- His ways will be made known on earth

I. HIS FACE WILL SHINE ON US

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us.

It is said that when Abraham Lincoln was President of the U.S. he was advised to include a certain man in his cabinet. When he refused he was asked why he would not accept him. “I don’t like his face,” the President replied. “But the poor man isn’t responsible for his face,” responded his advocate. Lincoln replied, “Every man over forty is responsible for his face.”

I don’t know about that but I do believe that we are somewhat responsible for how we look or perhaps how we look at others. Lincoln himself was not a good looking man, not in my book. In all the pictures I have seen of him he appeared to be a very stern, serious-looking man and not jovial. And I think a smile goes a long way to enhance a person’s appearance and personality.

People who smile and laugh a lot are attractive. People who appear serious all the time are not so attractive.

It was said that when Holiday Inn was looking for 500 people to fill positions for a new facility they interviewed 5,000 candidates. The hotel managers interviewing these people excluded all candidates who smiled fewer than four times during the interview. This applied to people competing for jobs in all categories.

Job 9:27 “If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile,’

We all need to forget our complaining and try smiling. That can be only done with the Lord’s help.

Philippians 2:14-15 “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

Job 29:24 “When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them.”

Value of a Smile

It costs nothing, but creates much;

It enriches those who receive,

Without impoverishing those who give;

It happens in a flash,

And the memory of it sometimes lasts forever;

None are so rich they can get along without it,

And none so poor but are richer for its benefits.

It creates happiness in the home.

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us. Could this mean that God is smiling on us? I would prefer God to smile on me or at me rather than frown at me or have an angered look at me. Wouldn’t you also prefer His smile?

A Union soldier, bitter in his hatred of the Confederacy, lay wounded at Gettysburg. At the close of the battle General Lee rode by, and the soldier, though faint from exposure and loss of blood, raised his hands, looked Lee in the face, and shouted as loudly as he could, “Hurrah for the Union!”

The General heard him, dismounted, and went toward him, and the soldier later recalled: “I thought he meant to kill me. But as he came up, he looked at me with such a sad expression upon his face that all fear left me, and looking right into my eyes, he said, ‘My son, I hope you will soon be well.’ If I live a thousand years, I shall never forget the expression on General Lee’s face.”

God has also looked down on all mankind and said, “My children, I hope you will soon be well. I hope you will soon be saved.”

I Timothy 2:3-4 “God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

And beyond this, God still smiles on us or makes His face to shine on us. When does this happen? When we walk with Him. When we trust Him fully. When we obey Him. When we seek to do His will and not our own thing in life.

II. HIS WAYS WILL BE MADE KNOWN ON EARTH

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, 2 that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.

In other words, we’ll spread His Word. When God’s grace touches our hearts we’ll make known His will, His ways, and His word. We will preach the Word! You and I have a ministry to perform. We must preach whether we want to or not! It’s a divine command from God.

A guy at a Church conference was asked what he did for a living. He said, “I’m an ordained plumber.” What he meant by that was he was a plumber but also ordained by God as a witness for Christ and we all are ordained by God to witness whether we realize it or not. Once the gospel has come to you, it’s your responsibility to share it with others.

Like someone said: Any man who has a religion is bound to do one of two things with it: change it or spread it. If it isn’t true, he must give it up and if it is true, he must give it away.

If we truly believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ we have only one option: we must give it away whenever we have the opportunity. We must not be shy nor selfish with the gospel!

Preacher D.L. Moody once met a young man on a train. This young man was bubbling over with the prospect of going to Africa and being a missionary for Christ. Moody asked him a very pertinent question, “How many souls have you brought to the Lord here at home?” After a brief pause, he answered truthfully, “I don’t know of one soul that I have won.”

If we don’t do it here why would we do it overseas? The only advantage of preaching in some foreign lands is that they are more open to the gospel of Christ than American people are.

It seems like most Americans are either Christians (in some form) or else they are hardened to the gospel. Why are they hardened? Because they don’t need God. They have money and material things and time off from work. Why would they need God in this lives? They may not say this, but I think it’s true. People have substituted the “good life” and everything else under the sun for God and Christ.

Matthew 10:5-7 “These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.'”

This is the first commission to Christ’s disciples. They were to go only to the Jewish people. “As you go, preach.”

We Americans are going somewhere, all the time. We go to the Mall, the bank, Wal-mart, the grocery store, you name it. The idea in scripture is: As we go anywhere, we must preach. We must look for opportunities to preach or witness.

I have often had people ask me one or two questions: 1- What’s your name? Or 2- What do you do for a living? Of course, this opens the door for me to tell them about the church and invite them. “My name’s Shepherd, just like it’s spelled in the Bible and I’m a preacher. Do you go to church anywhere?”

Now the door may be opened more easily for me than for you but we all need to look for opportunities to speak for Christ and His church. And we need to constantly be aware of our witness in this world. People are watching us. And if you have a “Honk if you love Jesus” sticker on your bumper people won’t care if you honk or not, but they will care about how you drive. People are watching to see how we live in this world. How we drive. How we talk. How we live. How we work.

When I worked for Safeway grocery store back in the 1960’s we had a checker named Helen. I don’t know if Helen was a Christian or not. I want to believe she was because she certainly acted like a Christian. She was a hard worker, not a slacker and she was very nice and helpful to the customers and to the other employees. She was a shining light in that store. We, too, are to be shining lights in this dark world.

I Peter 2:11-12 “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

I Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Howard Hendricks (professor at Dallas Theological Seminary) said, “In the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering.” Or else we’re not talking at all. Just about things we want to talk about. When we’re excited about something we’ll talk about that!

I think that most of the time we are far too hesitant to speak for Christ. We forget that the gospel is the power of God to salvation to everyone that believes.

Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

When we witness and present scriptural truth, God’s power goes to work on the heart of the listener or the hearer. If that truth finds fertile soil then it will begin to grow in their heart and hopefully, in time it will bring forth fruit and they will give their life to Christ. But nothing can happen if we don’t sow any gospel seeds!

CONCLUSION

3 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. 4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. 5 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. 6 Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. 7 God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

This the result of what will happen when God makes His face shine on us and we make His Word known on earth.

People will come to believe in Christ and all people will praise Him and all the nations will be blessed!

A man once said to his neighbor, “Friend, you are so tightfisted that God himself couldn’t pry your hand open to put a blessing in it.” And this is what has happened in our world. But we are worst than tight-fisted, we are fist-fisted.

Right now, people all around the world are rioting, fighting and warring with one another. If they would only acknowledge God as God and Christ as the Savior of the world and bow down to them, blessings would come their way.

May God make His face shine on us and may we make His ways known to the world so that will blessings will come to the whole world.


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