Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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This morning were going to study, Service Rectified. Service Rectified or made right. I had wanted to deal with five case studies in regard to this. I may not finished all of these, but actually the last one is the most important one.
The first one is a very familiar servant. Its from the Old Testament, the servant Jonah; and I think that youre familiar with him, and Im not going to try to do an entire study of the book. I simply want to give you an overview of the book. Now I like to outline the Word of God, and I think it helps us to hold the pieces together, if we have some pegs on which we can hang points. I remember when I was a student, our homiletics teacher said, One way to outline the book, Jonah, is to call him the Running Prophet. In chapter one, you have him, Running from God. Chapter two, Running to God. Chapter three, Running with God. Chapter four, Running Ahead of God. Did you get all those? All you have to know is the prepositions: From, To, With, Ahead of. There you have the whole outline of the book of Jonah.
If you want a D outline: In Chapter one, you have his Difficulty; Chapter two, his Deliverance; Chapter three, his Delivery; and Chapter four, his Displeasure.
But I sort of like to call Jonah The Displeased Prophet., because you find in each chapter, hes displeased with a different thing. Chapter one, hes displeased with his call., and this is what I want to emphasize in verse l,Now the Word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. [What did Jonah do?] He rose up to flee unto Tarshish... He went in the opposite direction. You know, its amazing to me through the years in counseling with young people to hear them tell me so often that certain things are the will of God, because they are so very evident to them. Now if you read about Jonah, you will find here in verse 3 when he went down to Joppa, and he found a ship going to Tarshish, [just going right in the direction that he decided to go]. Ive had so many students come to me and say, Oh, I just got a great job, and now I know that its the Lords will not for me to continue in school but to take this job. You know one thing Ive told them Be sure its not a ship headed for Tarshish. Not every thing that is readily available is the will of God. Not every open door is Gods open door. Jonah had one open door after another, heading him in the wrong direction; and he headed out in the wrong direction and he headed into trouble.
Now I called Jonah, the Recalled Servant; because after he got into trouble, he then was displeased with his crisis. And, if you are displeased with the call of God, eventually youll be displeased with the crisis that comes into your life. Maybe you wont end up at the bottom of the sea like Jonah did, but youll end up somewhere in great distress and difficulty, and youll learn some things. Jonah, in Jonah 2:9, he learned that he better sacrifice unto the Lord with the voice of thanksgiving [thats his sacrifice]. Then he learned that hed better do service for the Lord, I will pay that that I have vowed. Im going to do what I should have done; and he learned something about the sovereignty of God, Salvation [or deliverance] is of the Lord. And I like the beginning of chapter 3:1, And the Word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time. He was Recalled. And, I thank God, folks, that our God does recall, even those who turn aside from the way and head off in the wrong direction The Word of the Lord came...a second time to Jonah. Here was Service Rectified, made right. He was turned around, and then headed in the right direction, and he goes to Nineveh; and in chapter 3, he is no longer displeased with his call, no longer displeased with his crisis because hes been delivered from it, but hes displeased with the condition of Nineveh. I think, folks, we ought to be displeased with the condition of this world, and we ought to speak out even as Jonah did concerning the judgment of God. People do not like to hear much about judgment, but judgment is a very real thing. Were seeing evidence of it this very day. We have seen it in recent days Judgment! And yet the possibility of repentance, and these people repented, and God spared them of the judgment that would have come.
In the fourth chapter, Jonah is displeased with the consequences of his preaching. Thats a strange thing, isnt it? Now actually, you have to remember that what Jonah prophesied didnt come to pass. He said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. Now the Ninevites were really an ungodly people. They were a wicked people. They were a fiercesome people. They were the sworn enemies of the Israelites, and here God shows favor to those rascals! while Israel, herself is having all sorts of problems. And, Jonah sits out there on the edge of the city, and he sees that the city is spared. Then his air conditioning went off then he really lost his cool, literally and figurativelyand he just was displeased all over the place. In fact, the whole chapter ended up that way with sort of an admonition from the Lord. He should have known better, but he still ends up apparently displeased.
You know folks, in working with the servants of God, as I have had opportunity to do now for more than twenty years Its sad but true, even the servants of God become displeased and discouraged, even after the Lord has used them. This was true with Elijah. Right after he had this great victory, then he goes down into the slough of despondency, Lord, it is enough. Take away my life.
I never forget what the late Dr. Tozer said in regard to victory. He said, We sing, Each victory will help you some other to win. I say that in one respect thats true, but in one respect thats not true. He said, Its not the victory that helps you, its the Lord. And, youre just as weak and helpless after youve had a victory as you are before you had it. True? Its not the victory, its the Lord! And we need to recognize that. Its only by the grace of God that were able to serve, and its only by the grace of God that there is any measure of success in any direction in regard to our ministry for the Lord. Poor old Elijah, he was really down in the mouth. You know, part of his problem was physical. The Lord let him sleep, gave him something to eat, let him sleep again, and then got him up and got him going. Maybe I shouldnt say this, but there are times when you shouldnt even pray about something. You say, Oh my, youre really unspiritual. Sometimes the problem with some of you is that you need, rest just need some rest and relaxation, like Vance Havner has said, If sometime you dont come apart, you will come apart. And even in regard to Jonah, Jonah had a rough time going through that city. It was a big city. He walked through and yelled this out everywhere he went, he came back and he was tired. He was over there....he was upset....but yet God had recalled him and used him, even though Jonah himself had a problem afterwards. And, dont be too hard on the servants of the Lord. Any and all of us who serve, whether in what we call a full-time capacity or you as a servant of God, are just as susceptible to failure as anybody else.
Ill never forget, I was talking to my good friend, Dick Seume about a great servant of God that I knew that had fallen. He said, Stuart, never forget, great men have great weaknesses. And many times, this is true. Jonah had, Elijah had, Moses had, Abraham had Yet, God recalls His servants. The Word of the Lord came again to Jonah.
Now, A Repentant Servant, and this is a very brief case-study Im going to present from Matthew 21 beginning at verse 28, But what think ye? [Think about this.] A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not [Im not going to, Dad.]: but afterward he repented and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: [Ill go, Dad. Oh, no. He didnt go.] and went not. Whether of them twain [Which of these two sons] did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first [and that was obvious]. Jesus saith unto them [and He makes an application to those who would receive the truth], Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots [and these were the most looked down upon people in that day] go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came in unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye have seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
I find that it is very hard to get proud people to be a servant. Oh, they might say, Yes. Ill do it. but they dont do it. More often than not, its people who resist the call or maybe have a problem accepting it and might say, No. I wont but repent afterwards, and go and serve. Here again folks, is the sovereignty of God. Its not of our power or of our ability, but of Him that calleth you that we serve. And if you said, Im not going to serve the Lord, dont let that ever stand in the way of your serving the Lord. Repent that word means to change your mind. Say, Ill go, even though I said I wouldnt. This servant did. This servant, notice, was a son. From the very outset of these series, weve been emphasizing that you cant really be a servant of God, unless you are a son. And heres a repentant servant.
Now with this is another parable that youre all familiar with. In Luke 15 beginning at verse 11, The Restored Son. This is the story of what we call The Prodigal Son. Like the previous parable in Matthew 21, this one begins similarly, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divideth unto them [both his sons] his living. [My pastor, Dr. Stoll says this that he doesnt believe that Christian colleges ought to be too thoroughly endowed. He says that hes found through the years that when schools have become endowed, they usually end up like the prodigal son they go into the far country.] Now this son got endowed. He received the portion of his inheritance, and he went into the far country. And, little bit like Jonah, he found that it wasnt very pleasant when he headed off in the wrong direction. He ended up down at the bottom of things; and [notice] when he came to himself [verse 17], he said How many hired servants of my fathers have bread enough and to spare [and here am I a son], and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven [That means against God], and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. Notice at first, he said, Give me. Now he says, Make me. I wish more of us would come to that desire, not just Give me, but Make me. Make me as one of thy hired servants, just to do what You want me to do, for whatever remuneration You see fit to give me. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinner against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants [Thats bond servants], Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now whatever application you want to make to this The one I want to emphasize this morning is that this son was restored to a place not only of service but of privilege. And, I want to emphasize that serving God is a glorious privilege because we are His sons. And He, remember, does not call us, servants; but He does call us sons. Notice, the father does not say, OK servant. No,....this my son has returned. And, service was rectified when the son realized his position, that he really was what his dad said he was, his son. Now do you think, therefore, he never served his dad? Oh, no. Im sure he served him more faithfully than the elder brother, because here was a son restored to be a true servant!
Now in Onesimus, in the book of Philemon [and I remember talking on that one time], and one of my people, at the church that I was pastoring, said, Boy, I really appreciate that study in fillet mignon; and its amazing what people get out of the Word, but she really did. I dont know whether she was kidding or not. She didnt even smile. I guess she felt that thats what I said. But Philemon is the account of Paul sending a letter to his good friend, Philemon on behalf of a slave, Onesimus, who had run away from Philemon, his master and come across the apostle Paul who had led him to Christ. Here is a Regenerated Servant. Verse 10 of Philemon, I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds... Heres a servant that had previously been an unbeliever, not a christian, and in spite of the fact that his name, Onesimus meant profitable, he was actually unprofitable, as verse 11 indicates, Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me. And then, he says, Im sending him back to you, Philemon. Verse 16, Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? A brother, beloved! Isnt that tremendous? Now Ive heard some people say some very disparaging things about working with Christians. Ive even heard some Christians say, I will never work again for a Christian employer. Ive heard Christian employers say, I will never again hire born again people. How tragic! How unfortunate! And yet, in some cases, how true. But, I want to say folks, most of my activities are involved with working with Christian people. Now you think that it is easy, and you think that there are no problems, youve got another think coming. I must return to campus today, and I hope youll pray for me. One of our faculty members resigned just a week ago, effective the end of this month, so he gets paid without doing any work this summer; and he doesnt teach at all, but he gets a whole summers pay for nothing and were left without a professor and my Dean is lining up interviews with profs that we need to replace this fellow, so Ive got to return to campus today, and may be on hand, tomorrow. So, Ill be back, Lord willing, tomorrow night. I dont have much choice. Im a servant too, you see. But working with Christians isnt always easy, but I still think that its better than working with the unsaved because I look at all my colleges as brothers and sisters beloved. And, I cant help but wonder if the problem with some of our Christian employers and Christian employees is that they forget that theyre part of the brotherhood and what is involved. Now one of the problems is that when you work with Christians, you say, Well, its OK to owe a Christian employer. I wouldnt owe an unsaved man, but Ill owe a Christian. Dont you dare do that, folks! If righteousness ought to be expended anywhere, it ought to be evident in the family of God; and dont take advantage of someone just because hes a brother beloved. Do all you can for that one, and demonstrate righteousness. Now he says, If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, put that on mine account.
The last case-study is the one that I really wanted to spend the most time on, but Im just going to have to give you a real quick outline of this fellow, and thats John Mark. Many of you are familiar with him. He, by the grace of God wrote the second gospel that we have The gospel according to Mark, not his gospel alone, but the gospel of the grace of God.
Im just going to give you six things in regard to Mark, if you study his life that will help you pull them together. Number one, according to Acts 12:12, he had a Prayerful Parent. In Acts 12:12, it indicates that the disciples and the followers of Christ met together at the house of Mary, the mother of John, whose surname is Mark; where many were gathered together praying. He had a good background. The next thing we see of him is in Acts 12:25 and 13:5 where he is a Partner of Paul, laborer together with the great apostle, Paul and Barnabas. In Acts 13:13 [Thats interesting Thats a double thirteen. Sometimes the number thirteen, maybe is unlucky, even though Im number thirteen, thirteenth in a family of thirteen. I just finished thirteen years as President of our School] ...In Acts 13:13 you have John Mark going back, leaving the work. [I dont have time this morning to go into the reasons for that. Theres a number behind that] And, this caused a parting from his partners. [By the way if you want a lot of Ps on that: A Parting from Partners at Pergamum Pamphylia. How do you like that? That gives you a lot of Ps in that pod!] And this led in Acts 15:36-41 to a Parting of Partners, namely Paul and Barnabas and they break up and go their separate ways. But, you know, John Mark didnt end up lost to the ministry. Somewhere along the line and some way, he got back on the track. Now apparently he didnt get along well with Paul; but it appears somewhere along the way he ended it up hitting it up OK with Peter; because in I Peter 5:13, Peter refers to him as Mark, my son. I want to say this to you, my folks, there may be times in the work of the Lord that youll find some people that you dont get along with too well. You may work with them for a time, and then you end up going somewhere else and they going some other place, but thank God even for that. But, I believe God will lead you to some one you can work with, as I believe Mark did with Peter; and I believe it was from Peter that he learned much of what he wrote in the book of Mark. Finally, he ends up as Profitable to Paul. [First he was Peters Prodigyand then, Profitable to Paul] In Colossians 4:10 theres reference to this. He says this, Marcus [thats Mark], sisters son to Barnabas (touching whom you received commandment: if he come unto you, receive him). And then in II Timothy 4:11, Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. Here is a Reclaimed Servant, who got back on the track, probably because Barnabas ministered to him and then later Peter ministered to him.
Now, a concluding portion of the Word that I want to share with you in regard to this matter of restoration. Its over in Hebrews 12:11, Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous [and whatever chastening God brings you into when you get out of line in serving Him]: nevertheless afterward [when the restoration comes] it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let is rather be healed [or restored]. Follow peace with all men [See, everybodys either a peacemaker peace or peacemaker] and the holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God [Now, that ties in with II Corinthians 6:1, That ye receive not the gift of God in vain in regard to service] lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. Ah, folks, dont get bitter. Dont allow anything come up in your life that would cause you to be cast out of the way, and dont get bitter with others when they get out of the way. Follow peace, and try to restore them. Reclaim them. Rectify them as servants of God.
FATHER We commend to Thee the study in Thy Word. We trust You will use it, for someone may be here today who has turned aside from service that such an one might be reclaimed or someone who knows of a brother or sister who is turned aside. May we serve as those who help others to be restored. Enable us to do this, we pray in Jesus Name. Amen.