I’ve had many mentors in life, but most of them had departed this life when they taught me their greatest lessons. They’ve lined the walls of my study and filled my bookcases with their words of wisdom. I enjoy good books and have profited immeasurably from reading biographies. As you may have noticed, lots of these timeless antidotes show up in my sermons and writings.
To me, reading a good biography is like entertaining a great soul in my home. He or she may live in a different age, speak a different language, and face a different set of challenges; but when I open their stories, I’m sitting down with them for a pleasant visit. In the process, I learn about a world not my own, and I live in times that expand my experiences.
A truly well-written biography is a rare treat; but the best biographies are found in God’s Book. The Bible is filled with great and unvarnished stories of individual history. Think of the men and women we encounter between Genesis and Revelation. When we get to heaven, we’ll already know Abraham, David, Peter, and Paul. Some of us have studied their lives for years, and meeting them will be like greeting an old friend. Think of the Heroes of the Faith described in Hebrews 11—men and women “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38). Their lives should inspire us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and … run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Looking Unto Jesus
It’s “looking unto Jesus” that I really want to talk about. In an unmistakable sense, the entire Bible is the authorized biography of Jesus Christ. He’s the seed of woman in Genesis, the Passover Lamb of Exodus, the Burnt Offering of Leviticus, the Smitten Rock of Numbers, the prophet-like-unto-Moses in Deuteronomy, the Captain of the Lord’s army in Joshua, the Kinsman Redeemer in Ruth, the Fourth Man in the furnace in Daniel, and the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. The shadow of Jesus falls over every page of the Bible from the first hint of His coming in Genesis 3:15 to His glorious return and eternal reign in Revelation 22.
It’s in the Gospels, however, that we meet Him face-to-face and study His earthly life from conception to ascension. In reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John we’re able to kneel with the Magi in Bethlehem’s stable, join Christ for His baptism in the Jordan, hike with Him through Galilee, hear His teachings on the mountainside, watch Him debate in the temple courts, and join Him on that “hill far away.” These scenes become so ingrained in our minds it’s as if they’re part of our own biographies.
As we study the story of Jesus, there’s one thing we know for certain: He perfectly fulfilled the will of God. He said, “I have come—in the volume of the Book it is written of Me—to do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7). In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). His every moment was a continuous personification of God’s perfect will.
The Will of God in Christ Jesus
Just as Jesus perfectly fulfilled His Father’s will in the realm of His own personality, He now does so through you and me by His Holy Spirit. When we rejoice, it’s Jesus rejoicing through us. When we pray, it’s our Lord Jesus Christ prompting and empowering our prayers. When we give thanks, we’re reflecting His own emotions.
The life of Jesus can be viewed through the prism of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: He carried out the will of His Father, demonstrating perfectly what it means to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all things.
Now He does the same through us, and that’s the significance of the final line in verse 18: “For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Our personalities don’t have enough self-contained power to do these things in our own strength. We can’t rejoice always without the joy of Jesus. We can’t pray without ceasing unless the Lord helps us. We can never learn to give thanks in all things unless Jesus’ own perspective is foremost in our thoughts. He is our example to knowing and following God’s sure and certain will.
When our own biographies are finished and our stories are told, may those who knew us say: That was a person who rejoiced always, prayed without ceasing, and gave thanks in all things; that was a person who carried out the will of God in Christ Jesus.
David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God, and serves as
Senior Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information about Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org.
If you have seen the inspiring film Chariots of Fire, based on the life of Scottish missionary and Olympic runner Eric Liddell, you will probably remember these wonderful words that he spoke: “I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” He spoke those words as a response to being criticized for pursuing his interests in track and field before going to the mission field.
I believe we could easily substitute the word “joy” for “pleasure” in Liddell’s statement without changing the meaning at all, for God takes joy and pleasure when His creation manifests its God-given purpose. And if God finds pleasure and joy when we excel in desires that honor Him, shouldn’t we feel the same pleasure and joy? Of course, we should.God Loves You
Let me tell you about a boy whose love for his mother changed history. This fellow grew up dreaming of joining the British Navy. His brother was a Navy man, and his tales and enthralled young George. The lad began dreaming of a career on the high seas. As soon as he was of age, he signed up. George’s widowed mother opposed the idea, but she reluctantly gave her consent.
But when the day came for goodbye, it was too much for his mother. Seeing him in his dashing uniform, with his belongings on the ship and his vessel ready to sail, she sobbed. She begged him to renounce his plans and to assist her with her burdens in life.Your Handprint on the World
If you are a parent with children who’ve attended college, then you have likely sent “care” packages—a box full of toiletries, socks, cookies, new (clean) underwear, and a bit of extra money, too. Or if you support missionaries overseas, you’ve probably mailed care packages to them as well with goodies from home that they can’t find on the mission field. When disaster strikes, Aid organizations rush in to meet the need for people who are hurting, lost, and in need of rescue.
Aid organizations have been around for centuries, but the last several decades have seen an explosion of aid movements around the world. Regardless of an aid organization’s purpose, founder, focus, and constituents, they all begin with two things in common: a need and an idea. Somebody, in the face of a crisis or just lying in bed and thinking late at night, had an “Aha!” moment: “I can do something about that!” They shared the need and the idea, got others involved and excited, and a campaign was born.
When you see a need, do you immediately volunteer to help? Or do you wait to be asked? Dr. David Jeremiah says the church needs both kinds of helpers, as long as they have the genuine heart of a servant.All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah