Stanley Sharpe - Sri Lanka Convention - 1983

One of the reasons we are gathered together is that there is something about us that can't absorb all that we hear in meetings.  I got to figuring one time to work out how much water it takes to grow wheat, and I calculated an average rainfall, an average yield, and I was surprised that it takes 13,000 gallons to produce one bushel of wheat.  If you grew some wheat in a pot and just added water when necessary, it would not take very many gallons.  That is because when wheat is grown in the field so much water runs through, so much runs off, and not very much is absorbed.  That is so with the living water from above.  If we could absorb, in the first few months all the truths of Jesus, and follow them, we would have enough to save us.

But then there is so much that runs right through, so much evaporates, we do not take it in, so we need this continual watering of the living water.  We need to take more and more.  We need to remember that this life that we live is not so important.  Sometimes we think our lives are a big thing, but our lives are so small, and how small is our offering, at best.  If we were able to add up all the ages of the people who are living now, and add it to the ages of all the people who have ever lived, it would be a tremendous number, and that would be just like one day of one eternal life.  So this makes our life look so very small.  It is so hard for us to grasp the length of eternity, it is so worthwhile to obtain what God holds out to us.

There are some words I never like to hear and they are the words, "I don't care." These are words that affect our work, whatever we do.  Remember that God sees us as a people who do care.  We are examples, we are serving God, and we are not to get the feeling that it doesn't matter.  These are terrible words to say.  I think of one man who was doing some questionable work, and someone said "Why do you do that kind of work?"  His answer was, "I've got to live," but I say, "Must you live?"  He said those words as if the world would stop if he did not live. We all can be useful, and it is an honourable thing in the eyes of the Lord for us to be so, but we do not have to live, none need to live, God can do without anyone of us.  God gave Noah instructions how to build the ark, and this was for Noah's future.  God's plan of salvation was not depending on Noah.  God's will and plan for this world will go on without us, it does not depend on any of us, but our future depends on God, and on us obeying Him.

Psalm 100, tells us of seven things that we need to do, and there are eight things mentioned that belong to God, that are His.  This 100th Psalm can keep a person fully employed; if a person does those seven things they won't have any spare time.  If we do them, we will appreciate the things that are His, that belong to God.  "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him."

 

The "will of God" is a common term but what is the will of God?  In Thessalonians it says, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you." A person could be confined to bed, could be old, and say, "I can't do the will of God now," but it tells us here about the beginning of a day, and if we are thankful, we have done the will of God.  If we are handicapped we can rejoice, and go through the day being thankful, and we will have done the will of God.

When Jesus had the last meal with His disciples, He took the cup, the fruit of the vine and said, "This is My blood."  He broke the bread and said, "This is My body," and He gave thanks.  It was not human nature that made Him thankful.  If a person was condemned to death and someone came to take his place so that he could go free, the man who took his place would not say, "Thanks very much, I'll do that," no, that would not happen.  It took the divine love of God to give thanks for the privilege of dying on Calvary.  We may not be thankful in the same manner as Jesus was in dying on the cross.  In life, we like things to go smoothly, with no shadows, but the dark experiences will do more for us.  When they gather roses for perfume, they gather them in the night, because they know that 50% or 60% of the fragrance is lost in the sunshine.  Some people are afflicted with bad health, others are handicapped, but it has been the right thing in their lives, it has sweetened their lives.  It is good for us to accept the dark experiences, not to shun those times but be glad for them.

Paul wrote of the need of dying daily.  "For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God."  He was not telling them that they had stopped breathing, but now they were dead.  When you hide something, you do not see the thing that is hidden, but the thing that it is hiding in.  These people's lives were hid with Christ in God, and they were dead.  In Manitoba, there is a friend with a lot of pigs on his farm, and one thing about a pig that is different to a cow and horse is that a cow is used for milk; a horse is useful while it is living, but a pig is no use until it dies.  A pig is despised in many ways.  The way we are most useful to God is when we are dead to all that there is in this world.  We may see things that others are enjoying, we may wish we were part of it, but we should not live wishing to have what the world has, but we should be living so that the world wants what we have.

Psalm 107:4, "They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way, they found no city to dwell in.  Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.  Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses.  He led them forth by the right way that they might go to a city of habitation." There is a mystery in the human heart, and it is that no life is complete without God. I once read a letter from a man, who said that the time came when he owned all the land that he could use, and he did not owe any man any money; he had all the machinery he wanted, he had a good wife and children; he felt he had everything he needed but felt there was something missing, until the gospel came, now he feels his life is complete.  There was a vacancy, a place that could never be filled except by God.  We cannot bear the load of life alone, we need the one who will walk beside us, who will walk the same road, and help us bear our load, walking side by side.

Psalm 46:4, "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God."  There is a lot in the Bible about rivers.  Some rivers start high in the mountains, in the melting snow, and it is a crystal clear stream, going ever downward and accumulating more and more filth as it goes down.  This is a picture of children, born so innocent, and as they get older and live in a world that is so dark, stains come upon their lives as they are going ever downward.  The stream becomes more polluted, and children at 13 are further from God than they were at ten.  We read of Paul when the Lord appeared to him, he was going downward, there was murder in his heart and the Lord stopped him.  Acts 26:17, "Delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me."  God appeared to Paul for this purpose, to deliver him from the Gentiles and from the people, and then to prepare him and send him back to them.

In California, there are millions of acres of ground, dry, barren country, and around it is billions of tons of water, but this water does not bless the land.  There are the lakes of water, the swamps, and they do not bless the land around, but the Lord draws the water from the sea, and leaves the salt.  The Lord draws the water from the lakes and leaves the mud; and draws the water from the swamps, and leaves the slime.  It is this water, the rain that blesses the land. God sent His Son into the world to gather out a few people, just a part of this world that was innocent and pure, and sent them to the same people, the same men, water that had been raised up from a dirty swamp.  This is God's story.  We may be this water that is pure and innocent, and by this love and by this spirit we can help other men. Jesus' last words when He was dying on the cross, when men did not deserve one kind word, He said, "Father, forgive them."  They had a need for forgiveness. At the end of life, it will not matter how much land we have, how much money we have, how much we have travelled, or how famous we have become, but the one thing we will need more than anything else is forgiveness.

In the world, there are some very famous rivers:  the Ganges, the Nile, the Amazon. But there is a stream that is different to any other stream, it is called the Gulf Stream. It carries a thousand times more water than any other river.  It does not have banks of clay, it is a warm stream that begins near the Gulf of Mexico, and it is a warm current running through a cold ocean.  It is like the stream of God's love in this world, that no one can explain; it is a picture of God's love and care. Scientists do not know where the Gulf Stream begins or where it ends, but they cannot deny its presence.  The same as scientists do not accept there is a God, but they cannot deny the effect of the love of God.  God's way works mysteriously, it changes lives.  We might think that the Lord cannot do very much with us, but if you go to the beach and find a piece of driftwood, it may be scarred, weather-beaten bounced around with the waves , a carpenter would not look at a piece of wood like that, he would throw it in the fire.  When he needs timber, he goes to the yard and gets a straight piece of timber.  I have seen driftwood made into a thing of beauty.  When Jesus looked out on this world, He did not look for the most dignified people, but He saw lives that were scarred, twisted.  Jesus saw possibilities when He hung on the cross.

There was one thief beside Him, and all he wanted to do was get down from the cross, but Jesus could see that the other thief had a different attitude; He saw that he was twisted and scarred, but He saw the possibilities in his life.  When God looked upon us, He saw possibilities.  Sometimes we give the wrong opinion to others and we say that we are this and we are that, and every one of us is like that, we are good for nothing, but the Lord has taken us in His hand, and God can beautify us.  Before, we were living wasted, Godless, selfish lives, hopeless lives, and God touches us and He changes the picture, and we are thankful for life. Sometimes we may not be satisfied with the job we have, the health we have; we may have the job someone else has, we may want to live in a different place, and we may wish a lot of things but one thing we should be thankful for, and that is that we have got life.  We are still living.  Some kings, some world leaders, who have passed on, would give anything to have life.

We see the picture of Lazarus and the rich man.  The rich man neglected the opportunities in life time, but Lazarus had the best pall-bearers a man could have,  the angels carried him.  The rich man now wished that he had more time, yes; it was now a different picture.  Millions pass from this life wishing they had what we had, as they look back they are wishing for a few months only so they could live different to how they have lived on the earth, but they never have the chance. We should be thankful for the life that we have:  we have opportunity.  I remember a man who was away all summer, and had some very exciting experiences, a man who did not think seriously about life, but now he was dying, and things were different now.  He wasn't thinking now how grand to be doing the things he had been doing.  Those who have tried the world and come out of it, they appreciate life.  The road of life is long, but it perfectly possible to arrive safely, but we need to remember this, that we are never very far from ditch.  Even though we may be travelling on the centre of the highway, we are never far from the ditch.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."  There are by-ways which are off the highway.  We need to remember that we are never very far from the ditch. There was a little boy, three years of age, and his mother had a harness around him which she would tie to a tree or a post, but Jimmy resented this harness.  He promised his mother that he did not need it, that he would be a good boy and would not go away, so after a long time his mother took the harness off. Sometime later she heard a noise, and went to look for Jimmy and there he was in the mud.  Here was Jimmy before, promising that he would stay there and not go away, but he did not understand that inside Jimmy was a desire to do wrong.  We need to remember that we have a human nature.  We read of the colt whereon never man sat, and we know that horses - that have not seen a man - will kick and fight when they are being broken-in.  The horse does not understand that the man wants to be his best friend.  The man could shoot the horse, and there would be no more kicking, no fighting.  God does not remove human nature, He wants a people who will be broken and submissive to Him.