Stanley Sharpe - Sri Lanka Convention - 1983

Nicodemus was a religious man who instructed others.  He came to Jesus by night, he was too proud to come during the day.  He asked Jesus about salvation, and Jesus told him that except he was born again, he would not see the kingdom of Heaven.  He asked Jesus how he could be born again.  He had been religious, but he realized that he had never begun. Sometimes people have a car that they are not very happy with, so they look for another car.  Then it begins:  how much am I going to get for the old car, they want the most trade-in value.  Some people want the most trade-in value for their old religion, but when they see that they have to start at the beginning, it is a shock to them.

Luke 17:10, tells us of ten men who were lepers whom Jesus met.  They had no future, they were outcasts, and they had no hope.  Jesus healed these ten, and one came back to give thanks, and Jesus said, "Where are the nine?"  Then He said to this man, "Arise, go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole."  God has given us all good health, and no one thinks much about the one who has given good health.  This man had the spirit of appreciation, which opened the door for Jesus to give him a blessing, that made his life complete. God wants to add to our lives that which will make life complete.  In Canada there are squirrels, and in winter they have all their nuts in the tree, in the store-house, and they are very satisfied. This is the picture of a lot of people in this world.  They have a home, a family, a store-house of food, money in the bank, and this means they will not have to work later.  This is the expectation of most people, but unlike the squirrel, human beings have a soul.  God wants their fellowship throughout all eternity.  A man will spend thousands of dollars to build a house now and be comfortable, and will live until he has attained that.  But he will not spend one dollar for his eternal house, he will not spend one dollar to make a home in his heart for the spirit of God, where God can dwell.  God looks down and loves the world.

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  This is the love of God.  The same heart that loves this world is hungry for love from this world.  There was a man who had a son, who lived away from home and had not seen his father for some time.  The father got sick, and was not expected to live very long.  He wrote to his son and asked him if he could come home. The son replied and said "Father, I am too busy to come, but here is a cheque for $1,000." That was not what the father wanted.  Long years before that father had poured out his love for his son, and all the son wanted to do was to pay him out.  God has poured out His love on mankind, and all that people want to do is give Him money.  The religious world thinks this, that we need to do something for God, but God wants from people some of the divine love that He has showered upon them.  God has showered blessing upon blessing on us; on the judgment day, will He have to say, "You did not love Me?"

In November in Canada, it gets very cold, and the ice starts to form, but is still thin and is dangerous.  A mother we knew had three children, and she loved them. They were inside the house playing, but they wanted to play outside, and she said no.  They kept on and on until their mother gave in, and let them go out to play. She told them not to go anywhere near the pond, which had a thin covering of ice over it.  After a while she went to see where the children were, and there was a hole in the ice and the children were drowned.  At the funeral, we saw those three little caskets, they were nice little children but now they were separated from the one they loved and the one who loved them, because they failed to obey the voice of the one who loved them.  She gave the warning, what not to do, but they failed to obey, they were separated forever.  We are separated from God when we fail to obey the voice of the One who loves us, we need to respond to His touch.

In Amos, God was showing a plumb line.  He asked Amos what he saw.  He did not see the wall, but he saw the plumb line, and this plumb line represents Christ.  The plumb line is a simple tool that is used by a carpenter.  It is not used to measure, but is used to see that the building is upright.  God gave the invitation to the whole world that He was going to establish a plumb line that was upright. Amos did not see the wall, but he saw the plumb line.  People in the world see the wall, they see that the gospel is going to separate those whom they love in this world, those whom they are involved with, and they turn away.  A woman came to the meetings who had tried everything in this world, and said there is nothing in it.  The first revelation she got was, it is so right, she saw the plumb line, she did not bother about the wall but she could see that it is right.  The honest heart will see the beautiful way.  The wall only separates from association that would leave us outside forever.  In Noah's day, God brought in a flood.  After the flood, God put a rainbow of hope in the sky.  This was His covenant that He would never do it again.  This rainbow has never been touched or changed by man, and no man has made five cents out of it.

In Hebrews 8, we read that Christ came, and He was a better covenant.  Moses and Abraham had the old covenant, but now there was the new covenant, the way of Jesus.  In spite of all the religions in this world, in spite of all the muddy footprints, in spite of all the buildup of financial systems, God's true and beautiful way is still untouched by man.  Jesus never collected five cents from anyone.  "As My Father hath sent Me, so send I you. " We can be glad today that in spite of all that is in the world, we still have God's beautiful way.  The rainbow is still as beautiful today as it was in Noah's day.  We have no confidence in human nature, or human ability, or having a big number of people, our hope is not in clever preaching, our only hope is having God's favour upon us.

John 15 tells of a wonderful relationship between Jesus and His disciples.  He said, "Ye are My friends.  From henceforth I will not call you servants."  It was a great honour for the disciples to be the servants of Jesus, but Jesus wanted them to have a greater relationship.  A servant does not know what his master is doing, the master does not tell all his business to his servant, he just tells the servant what to do.  A relationship between master and servant is easily established, and easily broken.  He called them, "My friends."  This relationship was much closer than master and servant.  We who are not worthy to be a servant, He wants us to be His friends.  We need to act in keeping with a relationship like that.  There are to be no secrets, no closed subjects, nothing that God could not speak to us about.  A person will tell a friend things they will not tell others.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray to His Father, He said, "For the Father Himself loveth you."  He gave them confidence in prayer, because God loved them.  He did not want them to pray to a God who was not concerned, but to a God whose delight it was to help them in their need.  In the Old Testament, the twelve spies went into the promised land, and they were all agreed on one point that it was a good land, but ten said that the enemy were too strong.  Two reasoned in a different way They saw the big walls, the saw the strong people, but one thing that mattered to those two men, was, "If the Lord delight in us, we are well able to go in."  The only thing that mattered to them was having the favour of God, and God could do what they could not do.  Let us fear anything that would cause God to withdraw His favour from us.  We have a past full of mercies, a present full of privileges, and a future full of hope.  We do not all have the privilege of giving the strength of our youth, but we can all give the best that we have.

Proverbs 30:15; "The leech hath two daughters crying, 'Give! Give!'” They cry.  Satan does not want us to have joy.  He is saying, "Give, Give."  The cares of this life are crying, "Give, give us your time, your strength."  The pleasures and achievements of this life say, "Give, give."  They are sucking the blood, taking the very life out of us.  It will leave us with nothing at the end of life, no treasure in Heaven, no hope beyond.  Satan is cruel.  God has a heart full of love, and He encourages us to give, and make our life richer.

Ecclesiastes 11 is a chapter of giving.  "Cast thy bread upon the waters."  When we give, we are always richer.  The little that we have, when we give it, we end up with more.  Jesus lived for others.  He had a right spirit, He kept giving, and it came back and was so worthwhile.  We read of lives like Joseph, like David, they cast the bread of mercy and kindness.  David cast the bread of kindness to Saul, and after many days it made him richer.  Paul and Silas were in prison, with their backs bleeding, had the bread of thankfulness, and cast it upon the waters.  They sang praises. Before the night finished, they saw a man receive salvation, and they were more thankful than ever.  Cast thy bread upon the waters.  It may take many days, but it will come back.  "Give a portion to seven, and also to eight."  Giving to seven speaks of our duty, things in our service to God that are our privilege and duty, and we give that gladly.  But giving to eight is something beyond that, it is the little bit extra and this is where our joy is found, going a little bit further than we have to go, that's what gives joy.  "For thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth."  Putting the extra in today, for we don't know what tomorrow will bring.  The woman that brought the ointment did not realize that this was her last chance to do this for Jesus.  We need to press our best into today for we do not know what evil will come, when time and opportunities are finished. Everything we do is like a little seed, one day there will be a harvest.  God wants to teach us the joy of giving so that our joy might be full.  Many people may make fun of us, and laugh at us, but it is good for us to realize that they do not understand.  I was at a bazaar one day, and a man with a fruit cart had put the fruit out so nicely.  A man came along and bumped the cart, and upset the fruit. The owner was angry, he stepped out to speak to this man, when he saw that the man was blind.  He could not see, he did not understand.  People say and do things against us that hurt us, but they are blind. Let us take no notice, let us not get upset.

While David was in rejection, as the rejected king, Mephibosheth had the marks of one who was mourning.  He had not washed his clothes or dressed his feet all the time his king was away.  Our part is to remain faithful to our king until He returns, to show us the glory of the kingdom.  Ziba slandered Mephibosheth before the king, but this did not matter to him.  This man bore the marks of one who was mourning.  He bore in his body the marks of loyalty to the king.  The King said to him, "You and Ziba divide the land."  Mephibosheth said, “Let him take it all,” he was not concerned about a natural inheritance, all he wanted was his king to return in peace, this meant everything to him.  Proverbs 14:35, "The King's favour is toward a wise servant."  Our wisdom is being loyal and true to the king. Those wise stewards received the talents according to their various capabilities, they used their wisdom in being profitable with what was entrusted to them.  We may not be as capable as many, but we can be as faithful as any.