Derek finishes this week’s study by looking at the prophetic word that he would be a teacher of the Scriptures in truth and faith and love which are in Christ Jesus for many. This became his life’s goal and through the years God brought it to fruition in Derek’s life. He discovered the order was just the way it needed to be, culminating in knowing God’s love and producing it in other people.
My primary calling was to be a teacher of the Scriptures. And that’s been my calling ever since. Everything else in my life has come out of the teaching of the Scriptures. So I have learned all through my life that God has a plan and you don’t have to work it out. You just have to be in God’s plan. From that time onwards I did my best to be the best teacher of the Scripture that I could be. I’m not comparing myself with anybody else but I did everything I could. And particularly I’ve always guarded my mind because I’m one of those people if it comes into my mind it’s going to come out of my mouth. And so I set a guard on my mind. I don’t read anything, if possible, I don’t listen to anything that is not edifying, that isn’t positive. And if I do, I end up in trouble because sooner or later it’s going to come out.
Well, let me say two things about that interpretation. The interpretations that God has given me are so perfect. He said two things, He said in truth and faith and love. And looking back now over approximately 50 years I can say that was the order. Being a former philosopher, the first thing I wanted was truth so I went after truth. Then in due course I realized truth doesn’t do much good if you don’t have the faith to apprehend it and apply it. So I began to become very occupied with faith. And some of you who have listened to my cassettes over the years can probably trace this development. But now, I don’t know, for perhaps a decade, I have seen that the thing that really matters is love. The thing that I’m most concerned about producing in people is love.
Most of you have been to church, you have known about the love of God. Have you ever believed it? Most of you haven’t. It’s just a theory, just a doctrine, you’ve never really believed that God loves you individually and personally with a love that you simply cannot measure. I have learned in recent years the hardest thing for Christians is to really believe that God loves you with a passionate love. It’s much easier for us to tell God that we love Him. That’s not so difficult. But, to really believe that God loves you, most Christians have not arrived there that I know today.
We have a dear friend who is well known to Sally here. And this man who is just a little younger than I am told us with tears in his eyes, “You know, I’ve never had God speak to me personally.” We could hardly believe that would be true. He said, “I’ve always majored on achievement.” He said, “I’ve achieved. I wish God would speak to me personally.” We all prayed and took him on our hearts. About two or three days later he stood up and he was weeping. A man of about 75. He said, “God has spoken to me today.” We asked, “What did He say?” He said, “I love you.” To think that he’s had to be a Christian for 70 years before he really knew that God loved him.
And there are many, many of you like that. You’ve never really believed the love that God has for you. God is love. John said we have known. Lots of us know, we all know John 3:16 (most of us). But, have you really believed that God loves you personally, passionately, individually, unconditionally? You don’t have to earn His love, you don’t have to qualify, you’ll never be good enough. But if you can believe it you can receive it.
I’m the strangest person to tell you this because as I’ve said, I was brought up in the school of the stiff upper lip. You’ve never met anybody, you probably never will meet anybody more a product of that British military tradition than I am. But I want to say to each of you, God loves you. He really loves you. And all your efforts and service for Him He values but the thing He’s most interested in is not your service but you. God is not so much interested in what we do, He’s much more interested in what we are.
In this prayer conference we spent several days, some of us, just waiting on the Lord. No agenda, no program, no prayer list—waiting to see or hear what God would say.
I want to tell you about one woman, Mary, the sister of Martha, because I want to make her a pattern for you. Martha was the active, serving woman, a very good woman. She was busy. It says in the King James she was “cumbered with much serving.” How many of you are cumbered with much serving? You’re so busy serving you don’t have time for the Lord. But, Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and heard His word. Martha said, “Lord, why don’t you tell her to come help me?” Jesus said, “She has chosen the better part and it shall not be taken away from her.”
I want to tell you the better part is sitting at the feet of Jesus, having no agenda, not a prayer list, not singing choruses, just waiting to find out what the Lord has to say. Do you know, He’s been waiting a long while to speak to some of you. You’ve never had time to listen to Him.
And then the beautiful end of this story is in the home of Lazarus, after Lazarus had been raised from the dead, they were all eating at the table, including Lazarus. Along comes Mary with this alabaster vase containing this precious ointment which was worth about eight month’s salary. She broke it. It was irreplaceable, you couldn’t do anything with it, you couldn’t mend it. She poured the contents on the head of Jesus and all these good religious people, including all the apostles, said, “What a waste! This could have been sold for so much and given to the poor.” Especially Judas. But John carefully explains the reason why he was so interested in the poor was he kept the box and took the money.
What I want to say is the pouring of the ointment on the head of Jesus was an act of worship. Jesus said, “Let her alone, she’s done a good thing. The poor you always have with you.” And that’s true today. You can do them good whenever you will. “But me you won’t always have.” And then He said this, “She has anointed me to the burial.” I believe that Mary was the only one amongst all the disciples who knew that Jesus would have to die. She came and she anointed Him while she had the ointment and while she had Jesus.
The other women didn’t know. They watched Him die, mourned and went to the tomb on Sunday morning with all their ointments and He wasn’t there! So, all that labor was wasted. The only one who didn’t waste her labor was Mary. I believe that we need to come into the place where we’re content to sit at the feet of Jesus.
Some of you know Brother Johannes Facius from Denmark. He’s the international leader of International Intercessors. He calls it wasting time on Jesus. The people said, “Why was this ointment wasted?” Jesus said, in effect, “Anything you put on me is never wasted.”
Some of you have never had a real personal encounter with Jesus. You can join a church, sign a pledge, shake a pastor by the hand, make good resolutions and not be changed. But you cannot meet Jesus without being changed. If you’ve never been changed I doubt whether you’ve ever met Jesus. I was changed overnight. I want to say by no means was I perfect but I was different. You cannot know Jesus personally and stay the same as you were.
I want to ask you to ask yourself, “Do I really know Jesus personally? Is He number one in my life?” And if not, well, you can get to know Him tonight here. He’s not far away. He’s not remote. He’s not disinterested. He loves you. He died for you. He longs to reveal Himself to you.
And then there are those of you who are really Christians, your lives have been changed, you know what it is to know Jesus, but you’ve never really known and believed the love that God has for you. You believe it doctrinally but you don’t believe it personally.
I’ve dealt recently with very mature Christians. And I’ve seen the hardest thing for most Christians is to let Jesus say, “I really love you.” We can tell Jesus we love Him but it’s quite different to accept His love for us.