30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
November 19, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
"No Room For Christ, Yet Room For Us"
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, located at 407 W. Hwy 131 in Clarksville. I want to thank each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine another truth of God's word.
It is my hope and prayer that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things that are pleasing to our almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour, "No Room For Christ, Yet Room For Us", I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you. Remember, the Bible clearly states that we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). It is my hope that each one of you this morning will have the kind of heart that the Bereans did back in the first century. It was said of them that"These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Also the apostle John warns us that we should "....not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). By looking at the Bible passages, you can see for yourself that what I am teaching this morning can in fact be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in the Bible. This is so vitally important as we strive to do only that which is authorized by God and not what some man may say about a given subject. Now I invite you to please have your Bible, pen and paper ready and let's study together another truth of God.
May we all bow our heads in gratitude to him who is our Rock and Savior. At this time, I would like all the members of this radio audience to turn their attention to a simple and yet a world-shaping incident of the long-ago. Luke records it in the first seven verses of the second chapter of the gospel according to Luke: "And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
We are carried back on the wings of thought to a time when the world shook with the wail of sorrow and oppression, when ambition had waded through slaughter to a throne, and in the words of the great poet, had "shut the gates of mercy on mankind." The imperial government of Rome was enacting taxes to pay for the high cost of war. The poor and the oppressed of earth, as always, had to carry the load, and the decree went forth from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed, for in that day the black hand of Roman imperialism had covered the world and encircled it with bands of steel. A humble carpenter was forced to turn his face back to the city of his birth, to Bethlehem, a little village of a few hundred souls. We might correctly suppose that all the pleasant relations Joseph had with this village in the days of his youth had perished with the passing of time, for there were no loved ones to take him in. Sadder still, he had to take his wife, who was in no condition to make such a journey, for she was pregnant. How we are reminded today and every day of this great event, even in the world we live in today. I do not know whether or not we are prepared this morning to grasp the full force of the statement in Luke2:7: "And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."
In times of great stress and duress the minds of some men cannot grasp the greatness of so humble a statement as this, and the question "Is there any room for Christ" can pass unnoticed in the mad turmoil of day to day life and world affairs. Yet I believe that the destiny of this world and of all that is in it, yes the destiny of every man, of every nation and, of every generation, depends on their willingness to make room for Christ. Bethlehem was the city of David and signified the city of bread, yet in this little village there was no room for Jesus. Bethlehem knew nothing of the cold indifference of the clanging thousands of city streets, and yet no man could be found who could share his home with a mother great with child. And so it was that in a manger for the beasts of the field the Savior of the world opened his eyes to the light of a sacred star that was to guide men wiser than the kings of earth to his feet to pay him homage. Jesus, the Son of God was no stranger to borrowed things. He was born in a borrowed manger and was buried in a borrowed tomb. He made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, and gave the Lord's supper to his disciples in a borrowed room. It is not therefore for his sake alone this morning that we plead with men to make room for Christ. He is already the proud conqueror of all earthly things. It is for ourselves, for our fellowmen, and for our nation today, that we sound the cry, "Make room for the King."
We need to make room for Jesus in our own hearts. The men and women of Bethlehem could find no room for Christ individually. Any one of them could have provided better quarters than a manger for the expectant Mary. This would be true, regardless of how humble the home, for even a peasant's cottage would have been a palace compared to a stable stall. The Bible teaches that Christ is within us. It was the Son of God who said, "I stand at the door and knock." Thus he pleads for entrance into the hearts of all men. Let's take a moment and turn in our Bible to hear the expression of this great principle in the third chapter of the book of Revelation. There it says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." It seems strange that sinners should refuse to make room for him who knew no sin, but rather carried all of our sins with Him to Calvary's tree.
If there ever was a friend of sinners it was the Son of God. He was concerned over them in the very hour when he paid the awful price, and said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."It should never be forgotten that he died a sinner's death, between two malefactors. And though he was the friend of sinners, Christ was never the friend of sin, and no man can make room for Christ without first weeding out the seed of sin that he may plant the fruitful seed of righteousness. What a strange contrast it is, that while sinners will not receive the sinless Christ, the sinless Jesus is always ready to receive sinful men.
This love story should warm the hearts of ALL men, yet in many cases, does not even faze them! The love of Christ for fallen man ought to radiate hope and courage in human hearts from the poor to the rich. Now, more than ever before, he should be regarded as the bright and morning star. Boys and girls need him when they are far away from those they love. The mother needs him when she sits by the window or stands by the door waiting for that day when her boy or girl will come home. Ah, yes, above all, the family needs Christ, as they kneel by their bed in prayer, pleading for the safety of their family each day. Jesus truly loves each and every one of us. He has offered to all of man His great invitation which says, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."Fathers, mothers, husbands and wives, can we do any better this day than to put our hands in the nail-pierced hands of the Savior and say, "Where you lead me I will follow?"
Certainly any of the mistreated of earth today could not find a better friend, for we can see him mocked and scourged to satisfy the cruel whims of hatred. Surely this morning the poor of earth could not have a better companion than he who had no place to lay his head. Those who are heavy-hearted by separation of kindred hearts can find a common fellowship with Jesus who gave up all the sweet associations of this world that they might live. Even individuals in our military today who may be called upon to make the supreme sacrifice, could they find any better friend than he who by the grace of God tasted death for every man? It was Peter of old who said, concerning any other savior,"Lord to whom shall we go; thou hast the words of eternal life." Friends, we need to come to him who is the one and only bread that has come down from heaven, and the water of everlasting life. We need to put on Christ in his way, not in a way that seems good to us, for this will not do, but rather in the manner given on the pages of God's word. We need to become children of God by obedience and faith in him. Listen now the words of the apostle Paul in Galatians 3:26-27: "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." There never was a man so mighty that he did not need Christ. There never was a soul that did not need his saving blood. There never was a dying earth-life that did not need him to point the way to life eternal.
But we need to make room for Christ in our own hearts, not only for our own sake but for the sake of others. It was the Master who declared that others are influenced by our example. In Matthew 5:13-17, he gives this beautiful illustration:
Matt 5:13-16 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
Have you ever given serious thought to the great part you as a believer in the Son of God will be called upon to play in the world in which you live? Let me suggest that by making room in your heart for Jesus Christ today, you can help others find that same Christ in all his glory tomorrow. We need to broaden and deepen our spiritual lives now that we may take others by the hand when they are searching and say, "Come with me and I will help you plant your feet in the path of peace and righteousness." If there is ever banqueting in Hell it must be on the black days when man declares war on his fellowmen in any capacity, and if there is ever a day that offers opportunity and challenge to the children of God it is the day when men beat their swords into plowshares and attempt to live in peace.
Fathers, if you have wayward boys and should they return home, will you be able to say, "Come with me and I will show you the old paths and the good ways of God?" Mothers, will you be able to say in that happy day of peace, "Son come with me, I have enough faith to share with you?" Can you, by your lives and influence, put the evil of yesterday far away?
Members of the church need to remember that others this very day are asking why to the questions of life. Many have had enough of hypocrisy and empty ceremonies. Some will be searching for something sound and basic instead of something petty and sectarian. What will we have to offer ? Is it not time for man to abandon the ways of sin and death, and turn to the New Testament to make room for the universal Christ? As another day ends and a new day begins tomorrow morning, will we see the gladness that we have imparted toward others? We need to always be prepared so that the sentiment of the following grand old hymn can still sweeten the lips of our friends, loved ones, acquaintances, children and their children after them:
Faith of our fathers! living still
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
how our hearts beat high with joy,
When-e'er we hear that glorious word.
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children's fate
If they, like them, could die for thee!
Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee too, as love knows how,
By kindly words and virtuous life.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to thee till death.
O, how our great land this morning needs to make greater room for Christ. If history teaches any lesson, it teaches that no nation can long endure upon a foundation of corruption and sin. God gave a warning to Israel through his servant Joshua in the long-ago that we need to read over and over again. It is found in the farewell speech of that great man who led the people of God across the river and into the land of milk and honey. He tells them that they cannot be disloyal to God and have him bless them. Please take a moment and turn now in your Bible to Joshua 23:11-14: "Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the LORD your God. Or else, if indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations--these that remain among you--and make marriages with them, and go in to them and they to you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you. "Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed."
We could say this morning, "Take heed America, love the Lord thy God or you will perish from off this good land that the Lord has given you." When we as individuals begin to depend more upon might than right, and love pleasure more than God, we are but passing down that road upon which the empires of this world, from Babylon to France, have passed in sad review. Our papers are filled with crime, and our streets are not very safe to be on late at night. The divorce courts are jammed with men and women who care nothing for God's teaching on the sanctity of the home, and our children are left to find their morals on the street corners and in the bath rooms. Right thinking men have raised their voices in warning after warning, but we are slow to act and dull of hearing. We need to make room for Christ in our great cities this day. America needs to take Christ for an ally who never broke a single promise, and who never entertained a single selfish thought. We need to be filled with the spirit of God instead of with the liquor that flows through our country like water. We need to teach Christ to our children instead of setting example after example that will lead them down the broad way that leads to destruction. If we could defeat any army in the world this very day and subdue every power on the face of the earth that might raise their hands against us, and be the winner of the resources of the earth, to govern them, but leave no room for the Christ Child of Bethlehem, we would be the most miserable conquerors of time.
There really is something to "In God We Trust." If we are to trust in God to protect us and help lead us down the path of righteousness, then we have to ensure that we are making room in our heart and nation for the God of heaven who has the power to destroy us or lead us. May we all be determined to walk in the counsel of our Lord, the Saviour of man that has promised to give us a more abundant life (John 10:10) if we will trust in Him and be obedient to Him.
Let's resolve today to be baptized into Christ that you may put on Christ and be a child of God, then do your part to help the world find room for Jesus.
In closing this morning I would like to leave you with a few Bible passages. First, notice what the apostle Paul says concerning those that not only practice evil, but condone those who do:
A country, a people that does not retain God in their mind, will eventually go down the path of destruction. That is why Jesus urged all to: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt 11:28-30).
This is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"