Monday, May 22, 2006

The Applause of God

Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching at a church in Atlanta that is currently between pastors. I preached from Heb. 11:1-6 on "The Applause of God". When I preach, I am always prayerful that God will have someone in the congregation who is particularly needful of the word I deliver and is acutely aware of that need. Well, by God's grace there was such a person. After the message, a lady came up to me to let me know that she was a missionary on furlough from China. Since she had been back, she was dealing with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, as many of those around her were asking her about her financial and estate planning. Their concerns were more about her being established for her life here in the states than they were about her labors among the Chinese people. This had been a source of discouragement because she felt inadequate to discuss such matters. She was beginning to sense that maybe her focus was wrong and that she should focus on the approval of her American friends. To my thankful surprise, she informed me that my sermon was of particular encouragement to her as she once again became convinced that it is the Applause of God we seek, not the applause of the world.

You see the writer of Hebrews reminds us that God can be pleased and that we are capable of pleasing Him (11:6). When we please God we receive the commendation of God, or the applause and approval of God. The means by which we receive this applause is "faith;" the faith to know and trust that God will reward us if we diligently seek Him and His applause and not the applause of this world. Apparently the preached word had its intended affect as this missionary was encouraged to continue to labor for God's applause, and not the applause of her comfortable and secure American friends. I am praying this morning for this missionary. I hope you will pray for her as well. I am also thanking God for the gracious privilege and pleasure of being able to preach His Word to His people. If I might paraphrase Eric Liddell, "God made me to speak. And when I preach I feel His pleasure."

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