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The Cross Connection: How Love Flowing From the Cross Changes Us and Our Patients

Mark Finley

Description

On Sabbath evening Pastor Mark Finley will share how Christ’s healing grace first changes us then changes how we relate to our patients. He will share how a theology of the cross influences not only who we are but everything we do. Although witness is a conscious act, it also involves a sort of subtle, unconscious influence in the lives we live and the words we speak. An atmosphere of God’s grace flowing through committed medical practitioners impacts patients in ways we will never know until eternity. 

Presenter

Mark Finley

Assistant to President for Evangelism at the General Conference

Conference

Recorded

  • October 31, 2015
    7:30 PM

Series

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The Cross Connection: How Love Flowing From the Cross Changes Us

and Our Patients

 

Mark Finley 

 

My topic tonight is the Love That Flows From The Cross and How it Impacts Us or I might have called it “Genuine Fakes Won't Do.” We had just walked out of the ruins of Ephesus and thoughts of the Hadrian's Odeon theater and the Celsius Library and the 1500-seat Ephesian amphitheater were racing through my mind. And as we walked out of those authentic ancient ruins, we walked through a series of booths with Turkish merchants, cooking wares everywhere. They were selling everything from bottled water to camel rides. Then one sign caught my attention. Here was the sign “Genuine fake watches for sale.” Now, I knew this, if I was going to buy a fake watch, I didn't want a fake, fake watch. If I was gonna buy a fake watch, I wanted a genuine fake. So, one of my business friends that I wandered over. And here is my genuine fake Rolex watch. Now, this is an oyster perpetual Rolex. It's a genuine fake. My friend who collects watches had a genuine genuine-oyster perpetual Rolex watch. We put our two watches together. My genuine fake and his genuine-genuine. He wanted to be a little careful because they were so close that I might get his and he might get mine. Now, there's only one difference between the two. The retail price for his is 8,446 dollars and my genuine fake was less than a hundred. 

 

I thought about that sign for a great while and I've thought about it a lot in fact. And I thought what if there were a church that said this: “Genuine fake Christians worship here.” They have the appearance of the real thing. They look like the real thing but something is tragically missing. Now, one thing is for certain - genuine fake Christians will not have an impact on the world for CHRIST. Difference makers in this world are those that have an authentic genuine heartfelt experience with CHRIST. They're committed to living HIS life - the sacrificial service and unselfish love. 

 

People all around us look for those that are authentic, those that are real, those that are not fake, those that are not artificial, those that are not make-believe. If ever there was a time in a world of shame and hypocrisy, in a world of the artificial and the make- believe, if there is ever a time that the world was looking for a genuine authentic Christianity - that world, that time is today. 

 

But what is authentic Christianity? How would it look like or lived out in the 21st century? What indeed is the essence of the real thing? 

 

There is a story in the book of Matthew that JESUS outlines in the final days of His life. Matthew the 20th chapter. And if you have your Bibles, I invite you to take them in turn to Matthew, the 20th chapter. And we're gonna look there at Matthew chapter 20 and study verse 20 through 28. Matthew 20:20-28. JESUS was on HIS way to Jerusalem for the final time. HE tried to explain to HIS disciples the essence of true Christianity. HE tried to explain that HE would be rejected and tried and falsely accused and crucified. But for some reason, their pre-suppositions of the MESSIAH and HIS work in ministry had clouded their vision. It kept them from understanding the nature of HIS work. They filtered everything that JESUS said through their own personal ideas of and mistaken ideas of early earthly greatness. Their ideas of prominence in a new kingdom and worldly greatness with the basis of a mother's requests that we find here.

 

In Matthew 20:20, “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons…” Now, we pause there. Who was the mother of Zebedee’s sons? Who was she? Well, if you take all of the gospels,  and I cannot prove this to you but the evidence points in this direction. If you take the name Salome and you trace it through. She was likely Mary's sister. And very likely James and John were the cousins of JESUS. So you can understand something about this request. Salome comes and she basically says, “Look, won't you do a little bit something special for your cousins. I mean James and John and Peter of course were part of the inner circle and YOU have given them special access. So now, when you sit on YOUR throne in the coming Kingdom. Obviously, JESUS, you're going to Jerusalem. We have seen YOU touch the eyes of the blind: they're open. We've seen YOU touch the ears of the deaf, and they’re unstopped. We've seen YOU touch the withered man's arm: it was healed. We've seen YOU touch legs and the cripple have jumped and run again. We've seen YOU raise the dead to life. We have seen you multiply the bread. We've watched these miracles, JESUS. And YOU are going to Jerusalem to announce YOU’re messiahship and won't YOU give James and John the privilege of sitting one on YOUR right hand and one on YOUR left.” 

 

Now, if you look at Mark's gospel, it is a little bit different and I want you to turn there. Keep your marker or a finger in Matthew 20, but go over to Mark's gospel and you'll see something just a little bit different. In Matthew's gospel, Salome comes to JESUS; but in Mark's gospel, James and John come themselves. And so if you're looking there in Mark's gospel, you're going to look at Mark 10:35. 

 

Mark 10:35, “Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to HIM saying, Teacher, we want YOU to do for us whatever we ask.” What a misunderstanding of Christianity? This seems like the health, wealth and prosperity gospel which is really no gospel at all. They say, “LORD, we want YOU to do for us whatever we ask.” They want to bend GOD's will to their will rather than bending their will to GOD's will. 

 

Now, it is rather fascinating to me if you compare verse 35 in Mark 10 with verse 45. In verse 35, James and John say to JESUS, “we want YOU to do for us whatever we ask.” In other words, LORD, we have a certain idea in our minds, we have a certain wish in our hearts, we want glory, honor, prestige, we want to sit with YOUR on your throne; but in verse 45, JESUS comments and HE says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give HIS life a ransom for many.” Here, JESUS is speaking to them. The disciples requests and JESUS response are distinctly different. They contradict one another. 

 

I like what John Stott says in his book, The Cross of CHRIST, Stott says this. They speak a different language. They breathe a different spirit. They express a different ambition. James and John want to sit on thrones of power and glory. JESUS knows HE must hang on a cross in weakness and shame. The prayer of James and John is the exact opposite of true prayer. John Stott after he puts it again. The world, even the church, is full of James and Johns - go getters, status seekers, hungry for honor and prestige, measuring life by achievement and everlastingly dreaming of success. They are aggressively ambitious for themselves. 

 

The call of the crucified one. The challenge of Calvary. The call of the community of the cross is radically different. It's a call to sacrifice not selfish ambition. It's a call to service not power. It's a call to suffering, not comfort. It's a call to giving oneself that risks all for the cause of CHRIST. This is the very essence. This is the very heart of the Christian faith. And we find this outlined so well in Philippians chapter 2. We're going to go back to Matthew 20 later. 

 

But let's take a detour to Philippians chapter 2. Some have titled this passage as the cascade of GOD's love. It is probably one of the clearest passages in the entire New Testament on the essence of the Incarnation. Philippians the second chapter. We're looking at verse 5. “Let this mind be in you that was in CHRIST JESUS.” In other words, “Let this attitude be in you that was in CHRIST.” In other words, “Let this thinking process be in you that was in CHRIST.” 

 

What is the mind of CHRIST? What is the attitude of CHRIST? What is the essence of CHRIST thinking process? 

 

Verse 6 – “Who being in the form of GOD…” Now, the Greek word for ‘form’ the word ‘morphe.’ And the word ‘morphe’  is the very essence of GOD. So JESUS was the in the very essence of GOD. HE was in the very form of GOD. HE existed with the FATHER from the ages of eternity. There never was a time that JESUS was not. HE is eternal everlasting CHRIST. At HIS very word, angels wing their way to worlds of far. HE spoke and worlds came into existence. JESUS’ word was a creative word. ‘My word’ is a declarative word. I can say, ‘that's the sun.’ I can point at what is it. JESUS can point out what is not, and what is not becomes what is. Because when CHRIST says, “It is so.” Even if it were never so before. Because the Creative Word of CHRIST, not only declares what it is but it creates what is not. And so, JESUS speaks and worlds come into existence. HE speaks, and the earth is carpeted with living green. HE speaks and rivers flowed. HE speaks and flowers bloomed. HE speaks and creates life on a planet called Earth. So HE is the everlasting CHRIST. He is the eternal CHRIST. HE is in the very essence of GOD, the Eternal One that has existed from eternity. 

 

Verse 6. “Who being in the form of GOD did not consider it robbery to be equal with GOD.” The reason HE didn't think it robbery to be equal with GOD is because HE was GOD but made HIMSELF of no reputation. The Greek word ‘of no reputation’ is ‘HE emptied HIMSELF’. HE emptied HIMSELF of the privileges and prerogatives as GOD’s equal. And HE took the form, the ‘morphe’ of servant. So we have the form of GOD. HE empties HIMSELF with the privileges and prerogatives with GOD. HE empties HIMSELF of the worship of the angels. HE empties HIMSELF from sitting on a throne. HE comes and HE takes the form of a servant. And HE comes in the likeness of men. 

 

Now notice, JESUS doesn't only become a man become becomes a servant. Now, the word for servant is ‘doulos.’ HE becomes a slave. And the scripture here says, not only did HE become a slave; but if you look there in verse 8, “And being found in appearance of man, HE humbled HIMSELF and became obedient to the point of death.” So JESUS, the divine Son of GOD, the ONE who has spoken, and the world came into existence, emptied HIMSELF of the privilege and prerogative of GOD's equal. HE became a man but not any man and HE did not sit on a throne. HE didn't become a king or a prince. HE became a servant. But not only any servant, HE became a humble servant. But not only any humble servant, HE became obedient servant. And then the scripture says, HE died a what? Death. But HE didn't only die a death, HE died the cruelest form of death -the death of the cross.

 

So, JESUS, the divine Son of GOD that existed with the FATHER from eternity, tabernacled in human flesh. HE became a humble obedient servant. HE hung in a cruel cross with nails through HIS hands and a crown of thorns upon HIS head, and blood running down HIS face. And that moment of self-sacrifice, shouted to the world, “This is what GOD is like.” GOD is a GOD of love and care. And GOD would rather die HIMSELF in CHRIST than have one person be lost. And so the cross reveals to a waiting world and a watching universe, the self sacrificing love of JESUS CHRIST. The cross reveals that CHRIST would rather do anything than have you or me lost. The cross speaks of service rather than power, of humility rather than pride, of sacrifice rather than self-promotion, of giving rather than getting. The Cross calls us not simply to give our time, not simply to give our money, not simply to give our energy, but the cross calls us to give our lives in self-sacrificing service. 

 

Dr. Harry Miller, missionary Doctor to China, illustrates this life of self- sacrificing service so well. Harry Miller, Dr. Miller, China doctor, was 12 years old living in Ohio when his parents became Seventh Day Adventists. And it changed their lives. He went to Mount Vernon Academy and later felt the call of GOD to become a medical missionary, a physician, enrolled in Battle Creek College. And John Harvey Kellog often was looking for a young protégé, a successor. And he spotted this young, brilliant resident at the hospital. He encouraged him to go on to Chicago to attend the same Rush Medical Clinic in Chicago. So when Harry Miller finished his time at Battle Creek College. He went on to the Rush Medical Center and Clinic in Chicago. Dr. Kellogg groomed him. And Dr. Kellogg said to him, “I'm looking forward to giving you a very prominent position here at Battle Creek.” At that time Battle Creek Sanitarium was the famed sanitarium in the world. And kings and queens and royalty were coming. But as Dr. Miller was praying, something was stirring in his heart – “Go to China. Go to China.” It appeared to be absolutely foolish that a young physician, so brilliant, so forward-looking will throw his life away and go into central China at the time. It appeared absolutely ridiculous. But he could not shake that conviction, that he could not live in comfortable convenience, when those in China needed medical care. 

 

Now, I am not suggesting that the only way to serve is as an overseas missionary; but what I am suggesting is follow the conviction that GOD puts in your heart. 

 

Dr. Miller in 1903 get on the Indian Empress and began to sail with a small group and his prized possession was a Franklin printing press because he knew that when he get to China that they got to print literature. It took 3 weeks in those days to get to China. And Dr. Miller got so seasick, he said, “I'm never making this journey again.” Never making it again. But he had actually made it four more times in his life. Two years into his stint in China, his wife Mod died. And he labored on alone, translating into a Chinese Sabbath school lessons, working with translators to translate as much Christian literature as he could. He started his medical practice. He saw children dying in China, was able to develop the soymilk industry in China, and was able to save the lives of thousands of children. He became the personal physician of Shankai Shek in China. He became the personal physician of royalty throughout China. He started 19 hospitals in the Far East. In addition to that, included in that number, about 8 or 10 hospitals in China. He became a pastor, an evangelist, a medical missionary physician and inventor. He died at 97 years old, still doing medical missionary work for JESUS CHRIST. 

 

When I read the story of Dr. Miller, this thought came to me, ‘we have 450,000 Seventh Day Adventists in China today. We have well over 5,000 churches in China. The seeds that Dr. Miller started have grown and sprouted. And today, his life of self-sacrificing service is bearing a harvest that is unimaginable, that he will only know in eternity, some day in the land called Glory, someday in a place called eternity, some time in a time called heaven; men and women are going to walk down streets of gold, with tears streaming down their face and throw their arms around this godly medical missionary physician Dr. Harry Miller and say, “Thank you for leaving your comfortable convenience. Thank you for stepping out from ambition and wealth and pride. Thank you for giving your life for me because I'm here in heaven because of your sacrifice. 

 

And I believe that there will be scores in heaven because of AMEN physicians who have given their lives unstintingly in sacrifice. They have prayed with their patients. They've had Bible studies in their offices. They have had Bible studies in their homes. They have sensed that they've called not to do medical work; but to do medical missionary work. They have sensed this calling of GOD. They've had placed in their heart, the moving of the spirit that they've seen everybody that walks through the door of their office as a candidate for the kingdom of heaven. They have not been pushing, they have not been arrogant. They have not tried to cram the gospel down people's throat; but sensitively, they've been praying. They look for opportunities and GOD has worked miraculously. 

 

In Matthew, 20th chapter, we go back to our story. Matthew the 20th chapter. When here in Matthew chapter 20. JESUS is teaching one of HIS most valuable, one of HIS most important, one of HIS most significant lessons to HIS disciples. HE's teaching them about true discipleship. HE's teaching them about self-sacrificial service. HE's teaching them about the way of the cross. HE is teaching them about the principles of CHRIST’s Kingdom. Now, the disciples were obviously distressed over this attempt of James and John to elbow their way into first place in the kingdom. 

 

Now, you shouldn't be surprised at the misunderstanding of the disciples. Because we should go back to Matthew the 19th chapter. Because Matthew chapter 19 is really the preclude to Matthew 20. And there in verse 28, JESUS had made a statement. And you can understand why the disciples misunderstood in Matthew 20 if you read the statement Matthew 19. 

 

Matthew 19:28, So JESUS said to them, Assuredly, I say to you that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed me will also sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. So you can see why the disciples misunderstood. They say, JESUS said, we're going to sit on thrones. HE's going to Jerusalem to announce the Messianic Kingdom. This is the time for us to sit on thrones with HIS. JESUS had a lesson to teach them. 

 

And so Mary comes, the sons come. And JESUS says, verse 22 and onwards, “JESUS answered and said, You don't know what you're asking about. Are you able to drink the cup that I'm about to drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I'm baptized with? They said, we are able to. So HE said, you will indeed drink my cup.” 

 

James and John did drink the cup because James, the first one, beheaded by Herod and John exiled to that lonely island of Patmos. They did drink that cup. HE said, You will drink the cup. Are you able to drink the cup?

 

Verse 23. And HE said, the cup of suffering. “You will indeed drink MY cup and be baptized with the baptism I'm baptized, but to sit at my right hand and on my left is not MINE to give but it is for those whom it's prepared by the FATHER. When the 10 heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brothers. Then JESUS called them to HIMSELF and said…” 

 

Now notice CHRIST's words, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them.” The world respects power. The world respects wealth. The world respects those who are in a dominant position. “You know that the Gentiles lord it over them. And those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be among you. But whoever desires to become great among, let him be your servant.” And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave. Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life a ransom for many. 

 

So the cross, the ransom of CHRIST on the cross is a model of medical missionary work. Because on the cross, we see the essence of self-sacrifice. So it's not medical mercenary work; it is medical missionary work. And the motive of medical missionary work and the motive of medical mercenary work is dramatically different. One is profit-driven and the other is service-driven. And the heart of the true medical missionary is the heart of Calvary. It's the heart of one who gives with no thought of anything in return. It is the love that flows from Calvary that prompts that medical missionary Physician.

 

The principle of the world is grasping, the principle of CHRIST Kingdom is giving. The principle of this world is self-promotion. The principle of Christ Kingdom is self-sacrifice. The principle of this world is ‘look at me at how great I am.’ The principal of CHRIST’s kingdom is to focus on others. 

 

JESUS knew what was going on in the disciples’ mind. And HE spoke to the very heart of the Christian life. It was like JESUS said something like this out in the world. It's quite true that the great man is the one that controls others. The man, who is the master, the word at his command others must leap. The man, who with simply a word can command service. His slightest need supplied. Out in the world, JESUS is saying, it's the Roman emperor with his regalia, in his retinue, the eastern Potentate with his slaves. The wealthy merchant with his servant. The landholder with his the states. That is the way of the world. The world counts men and women great based on their wealth, based on their position, based on their power, based on their dominance; but JESUS said, “CHRIST’s assessment of service alone is a badge of greatness.” Greatness this not consist in commanding others to do something for us. Greatness consists in our doing things for others. This is the Christian revolution. It's a complete reversal of this world’s standards. Now, it’s a new set of values. This is a community of the Cross. The community of the cross is a body of believers so committed to Calvary that they give their lives in self sacrificial service, like the MASTER did. 

 

Ellen White puts it this way, “In the kingdoms of the world, position, meant self-aggrandizement. The people were supposed to exist for the benefit of the ruling classes. Influence, wealth, education, were so many means of gaining control of the masses for the use of the leaders…CHRIST was establishing a kingdom on different principles.”

 

When JESUS hung on the cross in self-sacrificial love, giving not simply HIS time or HIS money or HIS talents, but giving HIS life for the life of the flesh is in the blood. And when JESUS hung on Calvary's cross, HE modeled what medical missionary work is all about. HE modeled the selfless sacrifice of the life. 

 

I continue with this statement in the Desire of Ages page 550, if you're taking notes. “CHRIST was establishing a kingdom on a different principles. HE called men, not to authority, but to service, the strong to bear the infirmities of the weak. Power, position, talent, education, placed their possessor under the greater obligation to serve his fellows.”

 

And then this statement. In the 18th volume of Manuscript Releases page 175. This is a classic one I had been familiar with. “CHRIST went about doing good, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, comforting the downcast. None in need of succor [or help] went from HIM without finding sympathy.” 

 

‘Oh, JESUS help me be like that. May everybody that my life touches / may not one person that my life touches go away without feeling that I've been sympathetic and caring about their needs. When you see 30, 40, 50 patients a day in the office. That's not easy that everybody that walks that door is a child of GOD. Everybody that walks through that door is a blood-bought soul. GOD sent them to you for a reason. Listen. “CHRIST went about doing good, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, comforting the downcast. None in need of succor went from HIM without finding sympathy.” 

 

Sympathy is shown not only in word but in deed. In HIS presence, every stricken, sorrowing heart was soothe and lightened. HE did not think of HIMSELF or seek HIS own interests. HE lived to benefit others, to bring relief to the suffering and the oppressed. The unwearied servant of man's necessity. [Now, this sentence is amazing.] HE was blessed HIMSELF in relieving others. 

 

JESUS found new energy. He found new strength. He found new blessing of others. HIS heart of love was a fountain of blessings that ever flowed forth to gladden hearts. 

 

The Cross calls us to a life of self-sacrificial service. It calls us out of the claustrophobics confines of the darkened chambers of our minds to the glory of HIS wealth and sacrifice for others. It costs us to a life of service.

 

Now, an amazing example of this is Kagawa. I don't know if you've read any thing very much about Kagawa of Japan. His story really has inspired me. Kagawa was living a life of middle-class Japanese comfort, had a beautiful little home; good position. And he became a Christian. And he said, ‘I must give my life in self-sacrificial service.’ Now, GOD calls us in different ways, but Kagawa felt the touch of GOD's hand in HIS life. HE sensed the grace of GOD in leading him to make an unusual sacrifice. So, Kagawa left what he had and he went to the slums of Japan. And in those slums, he would stand in the rain telling about GOD's love to the poor. And pretty soon he thought, ‘They are not going to listen to me unless I do something for them.’ So he took off his robe and gave it to a homeless man. He said, I must live among them. And he was living in a 6x6 little hut. And this guy came in coughing and sick, and he said, Mr. Kagawa, I have no place to stay. Can I stay with you?” And Kagawa said, “How could I let that filthy, dirty old man stay with me.” But he said, “I have made a commitment to live a life of self sacrificing love.” He took the man in. Kagawa would speak in the streets. He would go to home after home and minister to them, simple ministry to them; bathe the brow of  those sick; pray with those that were dying. And pretty soon the rough and tumbling of the streets learned to respect this man and the light of CHRIST’s love with shining there. 

 

Union Theological Seminary in New York City invited Kagawa to come to New York and give a lecture to the seminary students. The place was packed and Kagawa walked in there, a very humble, robe on, very slender, very thin. And he began to talk, very gently about his ministry and work. He was about 20 minutes through the lecture. When two seminarians were sitting in the third row, and one seminarian looked the other and cynically said with a smirky smile, “He's not saying much anyway, is he?” A lady in the front row who knew Kagawa’s ministry and work heard what these students had said, “He’s not saying much, is he?” And she simply turned around and said, “A man hanging on a cross doesn't need to say much either, does the?” 

 

The greatest demonstration of self-sacrificing love in the universe flows from the cross of Calvary and before we get out of this world alive, there will be something more important than wealth, something more important than academic degrees, something more important than prestige, something more important than the number of the credit cards we have in our pockets. Before we get out of this world alive, Revelation 18:1, The glory of GOD will be repeated. And what is GOD's glory? GOD's glory is HIS character of self-sacrificial love. 

 

The world can argue with our theology. They can debate over text. But when somebody comes to them with no ulterior motives, simply desiring to serve or simply reaching out in self-sacrificial love. When the cross becomes incarnate in our lives, hearts are too much and the lives are changed. 

 

Remember what JESUS said to a group of Greeks came to him. John the twelfth chapter. John chapter 12. The Greeks came to JESUS. In the twelfth chapter of the book of John. JESUS shared with them this fact that the reality of the Christian life is not living, it is dying. The reality of the Christian life is not being served but serving. The reality of the Christian life is not having but giving. And here in John, the 12 chapter, these Greeks come to JESUS. John chapter 12. “Now, there were certain Greeks among those [verse 20] who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip and who was from Bethsaida of Galilee and asked him saying, Sir, we wish to see JESUS. Philip came and told Andrew. And Andrew and Philip told JESUS. But JESUS answered them saying, the hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” 

 

Now, don't miss this. All through the gospel of John, the hour of CHRIST’s greatest glory is the hour of the cross. Why? Because it's a revelation of the self-sacrificing love of the FATHER. So the hour of the church's greatest glory is not the biggest institutions we build that are multimillion dollar institutions, the hour of the greatest glory of the Church is when CHRIST in the cross incarnate in medical missionaries who go out in self-sacrificial love to meet the needs of others. Here JESUS says, “The hours come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” The cross reveals the self sacrificial love of CHRIST so it's the hour of HIS greatest glory that’s revealed before the universe. 

 

Now verse 24, 25. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and it dies it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces grain. He who loves his life will lose it. And he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves ME, let him follow ME.” JESUS says the grain of wheat must fall to the ground and if you take that single grain of wheat and you bury it, let it die, it multiplies. So there must be a Friday afternoon before there ever can be a Sunday morning. There must be a bloody cross before there ever can be an empty tomb. There could never be a resurrected body until there first was a crucified body because to truly live we must die. 

 

The model of Christianity is not the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. The model of Christianity is a cross where we throw our lives into the furrow of this world in need and the seed of our life that we plant in self-sacrificial loving service, following in the footsteps of the MASTER bears fruit abundant fold through all eternity.

 

Deltar, missionary to Africa, tells an amazing story about the Sahara desert region. That’s Savannah that stretches four thousand miles wide under the Sahara burning. un. Now, in the Sahel, moisture comes in a 4-month period – May, June and July and August. And that's when you have to plant, but then after those 4 months, 8 months of burning raging sun. The sand is blown by the Sahara wins and it gets in your teeth. Once the harvest is reaped in October / November, these a beautiful months, the granaries are full, the harvest has come. People are singing and dancing and they eat two meals a day. But soon the food is running out. December comes the granary starts to recede. Many families omit the morning meal. And by January, one family in 50 is eating two meals a day. By February, the evening meal diminishes. The meal shrinks even more during March and the children succumb to sickness because you don't stay well in half a meal a day. 

 

… April is the month that haunts my memory. In it, you hear the babies crying in the twilight. Most of the days are past with only evening cup of grain. And that cup of grain has to be eaten until the harvest is planted and the next harvest reaped. But often in May sometime, a little child will run out into the shed and say, “Daddy, Daddy, we have more grain. I found it in a leather bag. Daddy we have more grain. Have mommy cook it. Have her mash it, and make up the grill so our stomachs will be full. Daddy we have more grain.” And Deltar says that the father looks at the child, and says, “son, we can't do that because that's our seed grain and if we cook that grain and eat it, we will die of starvation.” African farmers, when the rains begin to come take that grain and those men know that their wives have only very, very little, enough to sustain the family to the next harvest on a half a cup a grain. 

 

But those men take that grain and they go out into the fields with tears running down their faces and they plant those seeds. And when the seed goes into the ground, it dies and it will bear fruit. 

 

Why did they do that? For one reason, they believe in a harvest. Why give your life in self-sacrificial service for medical missionary work? Why stretch? Why step beyond the conveniences? Why does GOD push us to do more, more for HIM? What does HE bring us to an AMEN meeting like this? To challenge us that whatever we have been doing for CHRIST, and I praise GOD for what we've been; but has GOD has been stretching you this weekend? Has GOD leading you beyond the sometimes comfortable life? Has GOD given you this weekend a new vision of what HE wants you to do for HIM. Does the cross of Calvary move you to self-sacrificial service, to let every ounce of your energy and moment of your time, be given to the ONE who died for you? Like a seed, will you put your life in the soil of this world's need because deep within your heart there will be a harvest. Someday, somebody will come up to you and say, ‘Thank you Dr. Thank you as a dentist. Thank you as a nurse. Thank you as a medical professional. I had given up hope. I had lost hope. But in your office, I found hope when you prayed for me. I find hope when you shared me that Bible text. I found hope in your life of service of love. And because of you, I’m in eternity.’ 

 

Would you like to say to JESUS again tonight, ‘I want to re-dedicate my life to one thing, not to giving my time, not to giving my money, not to giving my talent, I want to dedicate myself to giving my life to the self-sacrificial ministry of CHRIST.’ I don't know what that means for you tonight. It may mean different things. GOD may prompt some young resident here to get involved in one of our mission hospital. GOD may prompt you. HE may stir you. GOD may move on you to be more actively involved in a prayer ministry, a Bible study ministry, some outreach health ministry. I don't know what GOD's going to do for you. But if you play fair with GOD, GOD will shake you up. If you play fair with GOD, GOD will take you from wherever you are today to something greater, broader, larger for HIM. If you play fair with GOD and get on your knees and say, ‘JESUS, YOU know that I've given my whole life to YOU. But LORD, if there's a broader vision in my practice, show it to me. If there is another step for me to take in self-sacrificial service, reveal it to me. If there is a vision of medical missionary avenue that I haven’t see, LORD, show that to me. If you play fair with GOD, GOD will give you a vision far beyond what you can imagine.’ Would you like to say to JESUS, ‘JESUS, I would play fair with YOU.’ ‘JESUS, I'm simply going to tell you that my life is YOURS and whatever pathway you lead me, I'm going to follow that.’ Would you like to say that tonight?

 

FATHER in heaven, the cross challenges us. As JESUS said to the disciples, the Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give HIS life a ransom for many. The principles of this world, of ambition, of self-aggrandizement, of striving for power, and wealth, we see them tonight in the light of the cross and we see their cheapness. We see the tawdry pleasures of the world in the light of the glory of eternity. We see tonight the ONE who calls us to self-sacrificial service. We see the ONE tonight who calls us to Calvary. And we want to see every patient, everyone that walks the door of our office as one that CHRIST has purchased and redeemed on HIS cross. FATHER, give us eyes to see, and ears to hear, and hearts to comprehend. Move upon us LORD. Stretch us. Enlarge our vision. Help us never be comfortable with what is, help us always to think of what can be through JESUS. Help us to see CHRIST in all of HIS beauty, in all of HIS fullness. And may the cross lead us to the loving service of the SAVIOUR; and may the glory of GOD be revealed in a final generation and may the world stand back amazed that YOUR love revealed through YOUR PEOPLE. In CHRIST’s name. Amen. 

 

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