We will either 'wonder at the glories of God'.....or we will 'wander...away from God'.
One way is 'Majesty with God'....
and the other way is the 'misery of the world without God'.
We served in Hawaii for about 9 years....4 years as full time pastor on the Big Island of Hawaii, then 5 years as Interim Pastor on the Big Island and Maui. These are precious memories as we reflect upon not only the beauty of the Islands, but also upon the loving people there!! We're praying for the people in the Islands as they recover from the worst earthquake in over 30 years. How we praise God that there were no fatalities, but we keep hearing from many who have suffered major damage to their homes, churches and businesses.
While pastoring at Kaumana Dr. Baptist Church in Hilo (on the Big Island), I preached a sermon entitled, "Never Lose The Wonder of it All". Hopefully it touched many hearts, but we know for certain that it reached the heart of Alan Parker, who is a member of the Praise Band at that church.
Several times through the years, Alan (who is Dir. of the Office on Aging for the Big Island) has e-mailed us about his work and family and almost always, he will remind Travis of that sermon as Alan will write "I hope I never lose the wonder of it all".
Pastors long for 'immediate results'.....
but 'long term ones' also....and Alan's comments have reminded us of that.
I have shared with you readers some of the quotes from that sermon in website article 12-4-04 if you care to go back to that.
The Bible is really a biographical Book about those who 'wondered' at the Glories of God and served Him....or....
those who 'wandered away' from God and did NOT serve Him.
The old song, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing' (by Robert Robinson) says it well:
"Come thou fount of every blessing, tune our hearts to sing thy grace.
Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
O to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my loving heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above."
There were times when I would hear a Black pastor preach and wonder....
"Lord, why can't I preach like that?"
One particular time, I heard S.M. Lockridge preach.
I have the printed sermon...and can still hear the emotion with which he spoke!
His introduction alone is worth repeating and pertinent for today!
"We are living in a day when people are killing themselves, trying to live.
1) They try to EAT their way to ecstasy
2) They try to DRINK their way to pleasure
3) They try to SMOKE their way to settle their nerves
4) They try to BUCK their way to popularity.....and....push their way to power.
I know where a poor man has a chance...
I know where a bad man can be made good....
I know where a good man can be made better....
and even, where a dead man can be made 'alive in Jesus Christ'.
A man does not have to be listed is 'Who's Who' to know 'What's What' today!"
"There is no failure in God for:
The reservoir of His resources never recede....
The wisdom of His Word never wanes....
The burnish of His beauty never blemishes....
The lust of His love never lessens....
The prowess of His power never perishes.
In the Fountain of His love is fullness which never fails."
I realized that God did not want me to preach exactly like Bro. Lockridge.
He just wanted me to preach The Word with depth of conviction and feeling...
and to never lose the Wonder of it all...and not to 'wander' from His purpose.
'Never lose the wonder of it all' is throughout the whole Bible.
It is one of God's gauges to determine if you are saved and growing.
A pastor in San Antonio was saved during a revival meeting and many people asked...
'How can this be?'
He replied, "All these years, I had the 'words of Christianity'...
but not the music!"
If this is your situation, you either need 'redemption'....or 'revival'.
The Israelites were a 'work in progress' and like we...
they had the 'wonder' of growth in faith and commitment.
However they also had times of negatives and lack of 'wonder'.
The Bible says 'at times they wandered like sheep' (Zachariah 10:2)
"They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way until God led them out."
But we know that at Kadesh-Barnia...
they believed the report of the 10 'negative nellies'...
and did not believe the report of the 2 'positive petes' (Joshua and Caleb).
They refused to enter in to all the 'wonders' that God had ready for them.
God also has many 'wonders' for us...
but we sometimes 'wander' in the wilderness of unbelief or short-sighted trust.
The Apostle Paul is one of our best studies on 'Enjoying the wonders of God'.
Here are some of his secrets:
(written from a Roman prison to the Saints at the church in Phillippi):
1) Phil. 3:10a: The wonder of having Jesus PERSONALLY as Savior and following Him as Lord.
2) Phil. 3:10b: The wonder of experiencing His POWER (the Holy Spirit)
3) Phil. 3:10c: The wonder of fellow-shipping in a PASSION
4) Phil. 3:10d: The wonder of PATTERNING our lives after Jesus
5) Phil. 3: 7-14: The wonder of having the PROPER PROSPECTIVE of forgetting the things which are behind and reaching for all that God wants to give.
6) Phil. 4:4: The wonder of rejoicing in a POSITION
('Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, Rejoice")
7) Phil. 4:5: The wonder of witnessing through PATIENCE (Gentleness)
Even while in prison, Paul witnessed (Acts 16)
8) Phil. 4:6: The wonder of making much of PRAYER
9) Phil. 4:7: The wonder of the PEACE OF GOD
("It passes all understanding or any other kind of peace!")
10) Phil. 4:11-19: The wonder of knowing and claiming the PROMISES
("My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus")
Quotes from J. Sidlow Baxter's book 'His Way and Our's':
"Here is the bank....my God
Here is the check....shall supply
Here is the amount....all we need
Here is the capital....His riches
Here is the Bank address....in Glory
Here in the signature....by Christ Jesus"
What remains for us to do?
We must put our own signature to it and....
enjoy the 'wonders' of it all and....never 'wander' from Him.
Remember, 'being' a Christian is 'being' before 'doing'...but it is BOTH.
Here are quotes from 12-4-04 article:
1) Westminister Shorter Catechism of 1647:
"The chief end of a person and the church is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."
2) Gypsy Smith (great evangelist in early 20th century) was asked the secret of his long ministry and he replied:
"I never lost the wonder of it all".
3) A waitress was asked, "Do you have the Joy of Jesus?"
She replied, "I have to work on Sundays!"
Our joy must be in a Person (Jesus) and NOT a place or whatever, whoever or wherever!
4) C.K. Chesterton:
"The world will never starve for 'wonders', but only the 'want of wonders'."
"We must really enjoy God before we will really serve Him...
and to enjoy Him, you must KNOW Him!"
5) A Prayer by Sper is appropriate:
"What once filled me with wonder lies cold upon my heart....
return, O Lord, that wonder....and may it not depart."
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Travis,Good day. I feel so blessed on reading your article. God just directed me to it. It is such a WONDERful treatment of a subject that so many of us need to hear. The reading of this article will certainly bring many from WANDERing away from the Lord. There are so many truths that you have highlighted. The Bible is truly our guide for wise living. Thank you so much for posting. I'm going to copy this article to myself.
Dearest Travis, God wanted you to be who you are and what you are. For you bring the wonders and the joys of serving Him to us in such a wonderful way. God bless you, Sharon