It’s great to be back. I always love to be at Sojourn. Great to see everybody. There’s a lovely spirit of worship in the house. I’m, One of the reasons people always dread having me to come and preach is I analyze everything. It’s, I’m an inveterate analyzer of church work. And so I was analyzing the worship this morning.
[00:00:18] Felt very intimate and I appreci. So good to see you, each of you. I usually have brought a new book of mine every time I’ve come here. Not every time, but many of the times I brought a new book. I didn’t bring a book of mine, but this morning I want to advertise somebody else’s book. This is Pastor Your own pastor’s book.
[00:00:41] Shot in the Dark. Wasn’t that a Peter Stellar’s movie? I think wasn’t, it wasn’t that a Pink Panther was a shot in the dark. I think it. So this is your own version of Peter Sellers right here. Hey, this is Nifty book. If you haven’t got it, you ought to get it. You ought to read it, and if you have, you ought to buy some for friends of yours, getting them to read.
[00:01:00] It’s a powerful book and I appreciate it. I got to see the manuscript before it went to the publisher. And on page three, there is my endorsement right here, which is worth the price of the book
[00:01:17] You’re a jolly crew. I like that. You should go. You should travel with me. Go to some of the churches I go to where laughter has never graced this face . So a jolly church means you have a jolly Pastor. If you have your Bibles, if you’ll take those and turn if you will, to two Kings chapter seven, while you’re turning there on tonight or this.
[00:01:41] At six is the second service tonight. But are we preaching this morning? A very simple message, but tonight I wanna speak on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. So I hope that you’ll be here. But in addition to that, you may have friends who maybe have not grown up in the broader spear filled world.
[00:02:00] Maybe they’re either interested. Or not interested in ought to be either way. But why don’t you invite them to come with you tonight at six o’clock I’ll be speaking on the Holy Spirit. Now, Acts chapter no, sorry two Kings Chapter seven, two Kings chapter seven. I’m gonna begin reading. Verse three.
[00:02:20] The guys in the in the sound booth asked me what version I was gonna read from . I said, Boys, exactly the way Jesus. When he sat down with a ballpoint pen and wrote the Old Testament. No, I’m, You understand? I’m teasing you, right? I’m teasing you. I’m not hung up on the version of the Bible. I like the King James Bible.
[00:02:45] We’re gonna read King James. I’m old. I grew up on the King James version. I, the young guys at people at the universities, I was the president of two different universities over 16 years, and the students always used to ask President Rowland, Why do you always read outta the King James Bible? I said part of it is loyalty.
[00:03:03] I went to high school with King James . We called him Jimmy. Wasn’t a king in high school. Jimmy. The other thing is, Flowery Shakespearean language of the King James Bible. All the theses and dos that outrage everybody else they appeal to my theatrical spirit. I like that sound. I can’t get used to all the modern versions where Jesus comes down to the Sea of Galilee and says to the disciples, Sating dudes, it’s just me.
[00:03:35] So I’m gonna read from King James. But you feel free to follow me in whatever cheap communist imitation you
[00:03:46] I’m teasing
[00:03:52] two kings, chapter seven, verse three in following, and there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate and they said one to another. Why sit we here until we die? If we say we will enter into the. Then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. If we sit here, we die also. Now, therefore, let us fall under the host of the Syrians.
[00:04:17] If they save us alive, we shall live. If they kill us, we shall but die, and they rose up in the twilight. Please make note in the Twilight Evening supper time, and they rose up in the twilight to go into the camp of the Syrians and when they would come under the uttermost part of the camp of the Syrian.
[00:04:36] Behold, there was no man there. For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host, and they said one to another. Lo, the king of I, the King of Israel, have hired against us, the kings of the hitite and the kings of the Egyptians to come upon us.
[00:04:59] Therefore, they arose and fled in the twilight. There it is. It and left their tents and their horses and their asses and the camp as it was and fled for their life. And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent and did eat and drink and carried from then silver and gold and Raymond means expensive clothing, and went and hid it and came again and entered into another tent and carried this also and went and hid that.
[00:05:30] And then they said one to. . We do not. This day is a day of good tidings and we hold our peace. If we Terry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us. Now, therefore, come that we may go and tell the king’s household. So they came and called under the porter of the city and they told them saying we came to the camp of the Syrians.
[00:05:54] And behold, there was no man. Neither voice of man, but the horse is tied. The as is tied, the tents as they were, and he called the porters and they told it to the king’s house within. Put your hands on your Bible, if you will, and let’s pray. Father, with our hand up on the word and our hearts and minds as open as we know how to get them, we’re asking you to do all the rest.
[00:06:18] Speak to us, Oh Lord. Brush aside. All our carefully constructed mechanisms of self. And speak directly into the inner person of us. We’re not asking that you make it easy. We’re asking that you make it real. In Jesus name, the strong son of God. Amen. Even in the light of the possibility of global nuclear warfare, For sheer horror on an ongoing basis, there is hardly anything as shocking and devastating as ancient siege warfare.
[00:07:01] Siege warfare was a war of attrition. The cities of the ancient world built massive, virtually impregnable walls. So when an army came from another country, often across very forbidding terrain or even desert, they couldn’t bring with them massive war machines that could puncture or tear down those walls.
[00:07:23] So in, in an alternative to that, they would simply ring the cities about, circle it with their arm. And they would try to starve the people out inside. It was horrible. These seeds would last months and even years. If you remember from your studies of Greek mythology, the Trojan War lasted 20 years. . So these cities would stockpile massive amounts of non-perishable food, and then they would dig wells either within the walls or like at Medo, outside the walls and tunnel under to the wells so that they could try to outlast the people on the outside.
[00:08:06] So for the attacking, The hope was that the people would starve or break or finally surrender and open the gates for the people in the city. Their hope was that something would happen and make the attacking, enemy withdrawal, maybe a rebellion at home and they had to go home and fight that war. Or perhaps some kind of some kind of affliction, a plague or something would hit, or these people would simply get tired of living away from their home and families and living in tents and rebel and go.
[00:08:37] These things lasted and became horrible. Here in two Kings, Chapter seven, we are at the end of an enduring siege on the Northern Israel capital of Samaria. They have been besieged by the Syrian army, and it has lasted for months and months until in the chapter before this we didn’t bother to read.
[00:09:01] In the chapter before this, there’s this horrifying and gritty little story, which is very difficult to even talk about in Sunday morning, where two women, mothers of babies enter into a horrible contract to kill and eat the first baby, and then when the flesh of that is gone to killing, eat the second.
[00:09:22] they do indeed cook and eat the first baby. Then when it comes time to eat the second baby, that woman renigs and will give up her baby. The other woman then goes to the king’s court and sues her for a breach of promise to so that the king will make her give her baby up to be cannibalized when the king hears the case.
[00:09:49] He is so horrified. That the Bible tells us. He walks the walls of some area in sack cloth and throwing ashes on his head, saying, Is this what we’ve come to? This is the horror of what this siege has done to our city, that now we’re at the point of such starvation that not only death but cannibalism has entered into the city.
[00:10:12] It is at that point that we encounter these four men with leprosy. They are. Outside the closed gates of the city, but they are inside, under the covering of this great massive ancient city gate, and so they’re huddled there. If cannibalism has entered into the general population, think how horrible the circumstance is for people with leprosy In the ancient world, leprosy peoples with lepers, with leprosy, were not even allowed to come into.
[00:10:49] They had to live in Lepro colonies and caves away, and people might give them some moldy bread or leftovers or something, but they lived at the grace of the people in the city. If the people in the city are starving, they’re not gonna give left. There’s no leftovers to give the lepers. And so these four now come to a point of stark reality.
[00:11:12] They say, we’re dying if we go in the city, Even if they would let us. . There’s starvation in the city. We’ll die there. If we go out to the Syrians and they kill us, okay, fine, it’s over with. But maybe they will let us pass through their lines and go into the countryside and forage for some food. Perhaps they will even have pity on four old lepers and give us some food.
[00:11:44] So they go. Toward the picket line, the century line, the guards that are guarding the camp of the Syrians. And as they go out, they’re calling out because think what they’re terrified of is that some century has fallen asleep on guard duty. And as they approach him, they step on a TWI and wake him up, and before they can tell him who they are.
[00:12:10] Jerks out an AK 47 and bust a cap in them. So they’re terrified. So they’re coming out saying, We’re coming out just four old lepers. We’re coming out. Don’t kill us. We’re coming out. And they get out to where the guards should be and there’s nobody there. And they think to themselves, these Syrians are over confident.
[00:12:32] There’s always the. That the people in the city will wait until the camp falls asleep and they’ll charge out and attack ’em. They didn’t even post guards. So as they come down over the hillside the tents of the Syrians cover the valley, a massive army, and they can see it all. It’s twilight, it’s evening supper.
[00:12:58] The supper. Fires are curling into the evening sky. These starving men can smell the food cooking and they see everything stacked. All the armaments there. Over here’s the motor pool, armored personnel carriers, and half tracks and tanks are over here. Jeeps in a row over here. All the light. All the light ordinances stacked, automatic weapons back over.
[00:13:22] There’s some black hawks parked with the, with. With the blades silent, everything is there. They come down yelling don’t kill us. We surrender. We’re just four lepers. We don’t arm, We’re not armed. No answer, no sound. And they realize the camp of the Syrians is deserted. Where’s the first place they’re gonna go?
[00:13:47] The officer’s. So they go into the officer’s dining room, they go into the officer’s tent where the officer’s food would be, and it’s all there prepared for them. It’s the tables are burdened down with food. There’s big plates of poor chops and fried chicken collar greens and cornbread. These are southern Syrians , and they come in and realize the banquet table is spread.
[00:14:11] It’s all theirs. They have no idea what’s. . They just know the feast is theirs, the victory is theirs, everything. The Syrians are gone, the enemy’s defeated, and they own everything that the enemy owned. They dive into that food. They are, they’re eating mashed potatoes and it throw green beans in the air and dance underneath it, and they’re just eating everything and then somebody else, food fights and they start throwing hush puppies at each.
[00:14:44] They’re laughing and having a great time, and they just finally to eat until they can’t eat anymore. And then they look over in the side and their chest of gold and silver, a king’s ransom because of all the cities that the Syrians have lood on the way to get to Samaria, and that’s all. There’s too.
[00:15:06] And then there’s cabinets full. The Bible tells us of expensive remnant, $1,500 suit. Hands on Italian loafers, $695 a pair. This is fantastic. They’ve never worn anything like this in their lives. The food is theirs, The gold is theirs, The Raymond is theirs. And then they think, Wait a minute. Those people in that city find out about this.
[00:15:31] They’ll come out here and take it away from us. So they decide to bury it. They haul the chest of gold out, they bury it. They wrap the clothes up, they bury. By that time, they’re hungry again. They go in the dessert tent. There’s huge bowls of banana pudding, boxes of vanilla wafer stacked blueberry cobbler.
[00:15:54] It’s all there. They eating and laughing, and then they look at each other and they’ve got pearls stuck to the mashed potatoes on their face and diamonds in the grease between their fingers and one of them. Brothers, we’re not doing the right thing here. There are people dying in the city there. There are women cannibalizing their own babies.
[00:16:23] There’s spiritual confusion, nightmare starvation in the city, and it’s twilight. If we wait till a morning to go tell them about this, we’ll be responsible for all the people that die in the night. We’re gonna be held. That there are people in that city that are dying starving, and we know the victories win one, and we’re not telling them.
[00:16:48] Now, brethren of the household of faith, that is exactly where the church is. That is exactly where the church is in the 21st century. That is exactly where the church is in America in the 21st. . We are those poor lepers saved by a miracle work of God when we didn’t deserve it, don’t understand it, and just inherited it.
[00:17:11] The cross of Jesus Christ and his shed blood and his resurrection saved us. You didn’t vote on it. You didn’t think of it, and let’s just be honest with each other. The fact of the matter is you can’t even really explain it. That’s right. You just know the enemy’s defeated. That’s what we. That’s what we sang this morning.
[00:17:31] We celebrated, we worship it. The victory is ours. Everything that Satan would steal from us, God is restoring. We are blessed, We are victorious. It’s all ours. But there are a lot of people in Carrollton, Texas that are not in on the victory. If we come in here and celebrate the victory and pull the doors too behind us and don’t tell anybody, we’re gonna be held accountable.
[00:17:58] I I wanna point out to you that not once, but twice in this story, it speaks of it as being twilight. I am neither a prophet nor the child of a prophet. I am, however, something of a observer of history, and I believe it’s twilight in the West. I believe it’s twilight in America. Yes I hate to prophesy gloom and doom, but I think before the sun comes up, it’s gonna get.
[00:18:25] And darker, and we know that there is victory in Christ. We know that Jesus died for us. We know that if we were to die right now, we’d be in heaven. We know that we can feast on the things of God. Can you, have you been in the Christian room so long that you can’t remember what it was like when you first came in?
[00:18:44] Can you go back to that? Can you remember? I remember particularly, and I’m gonna preach on tonight, I remember particularly, When I came into the baptism of the Holy Spirit, my Christianity become dull and boring and weak and powerless. And when I received the Holy Spirit, I remember opening my Bible, the Book of Psalms.
[00:19:02] I said, Oh that tastes good. Oh, ax, wow. I didn’t even know that was in there. I said, Man, they have changed the Bible. Amen. That victory, that feast, that joy, that delight, that’s all ours. The enemies defeated. They’re gone. What had happened was that God had caused a miracle. The sound of an attacking army had come against the series.
[00:19:30] No army, just the sound. They heard jets screaming through the sky. They could smell napalm. There’s nothing like the smell of napalm in the morning. And they could hear the rattle of 50 caliber machine gums, box barrages going off from mortars in the distance. And they said, We don’t even have time to get in our Jeeps.
[00:19:50] We can’t even crank the black hawks. Everybody just drop your guns and run. And they ran every and everything. They had everyth. Belong to these four lepers. That’s right where we are. God did a miracle of victory over Satan through the blood and through the salvation that Jesus has brought and through his resurrection.
[00:20:12] Our names are in the Lamb’s book. We are there with saved by Grace, but now there’s darkness and coming night and starvation in the city. And we know. We know that the victory has been won. Amen. Now. Why won’t we talk to people about it? This sermon today, pastor asked me if I would come and take part in your month or series, however long it’s lasting of harvest soul’s harvest.
[00:20:39] So this is the direction that I felt the Lord took me in. Why won’t we take part in the harvest? I’m not talking about Pastor Chris or Pastor Terry us. Why won’t we? Carpenters, plumbers, electricians, business owners. Why won’t we be warriors in the. Why won’t we go back to the King’s household within and tell them the victory is already won?
[00:21:03] One reason is we’re afraid of, we’re afraid of rejection. Fear. Nobody grooves on rejection. Yes, Fear. Fear paralyzes us. We don’t know what it’ll be like. Look, yes, somebody may reject it, but you gotta know. When somebody rejects the gospel, they’re not rejecting you, they’re rejecting Jesus. You don’t have to take up an offense for Jesus.
[00:21:26] He can take care of himself so they’re not rejecting you. But if they do, what if they do? What if they do? What if they say, Get away from me? Oh, that’s stupid. I don’t believe in any of that. Okay? You have warned them. You have told them you have shown love sometimes. It’s not gonna be as bad as you think if you have a sense of humor about it.
[00:21:51] I was on an airplane one time, and this guy next to me, he turns to me out of the blue and he says, What do you do for a living? I said, I’m a pastor, and you just crank him up. He says I’m an atheist. I said, Look, I didn’t even know that was a job I do. Do they pay you for that? I didn’t. And he said, No, that’s not my job.
[00:22:15] I said, Look, you asked me what my job is. I told you. You told me you’re an atheist. He said I just wanted to, I didn’t want you to be talking to me. I don’t believe in God. I’m believing Jesus. I don’t believe in all that stuff I said. I did not bring this up . You asked me what I do for a living. I’m a pastor.
[00:22:35] I do believe in God. I do believe in Jesus. He said I don’t wanna talk about it. I said, Great. Later on the plane got in some turbulence. You know what I’m talking? You know what I’m talking. It got. And the pilot came on and he said, I’m gonna ask the flight attendants to stop service. It’s gonna be very bad for a while.
[00:22:55] Put your seatbelt on. Everything. And it got worse and worse. And then the plane hit one of those. I don’t know what to, I’m know nothing about aeronautics, I always have called it an air pocket. I don’t know what it is. So it’s this place where the plane just drops. Have any of you ever been in a plane that does that
[00:23:11] It’ll snap you awake, won’t it? . And the plane just dropped. It felt like it fell. Several hundred feet. I don’t know. And then the bottom of that, it, I don’t know what it hits. Solid air, something. And it. Boom. Like that. This guy says, Jesus
[00:23:26] I couldn’t help myself. I just started laughing, and first he looked over at me like, Then finally I gotta hand it to him. I gotta hand it. He laughed. He said, Okay. I see what’s funny about that, . As a man, an atheist with a sense of humor. He’s very close to salvation, really.
[00:23:40] Sometimes we just let this fear or in insecurity paralyze us when it shouldn’t. I talked to the guy the other day a layman at a big church in Georgia. He was telling me about his brother-in-law who’s a crack. And he is moved out in the woods, in the forest. He’s in a abandoned trailer in the woods with no power, no nothing, just living like an animal out in the woods.
[00:24:05] I said, My friend, go and tell him about Christ. Witness to him. Invite him to church. Bring him to church. And you know what he said to me? He said, I’m afraid if I get too aggressive, I’ll run him off. No, he’s off. No, he is. You can’t get any more off than that. No. You know what he’s afraid of? He’s not afraid.
[00:24:30] He’ll run him off from God. He’s afraid he’ll run him off from him. If you care more about what people think of you, then you do care about their eternal destiny. That is not Christian Love. So if we love people and care about them, That teenager, that your neighbor’s teenager lives next door to you, has a motorcycle that he revs up at three in the morning instead of praying for him to die with leprosy.
[00:24:58] Why? Why don’t you invite him to church? Why don’t you witness to him about who Christ is? Another reason that we don’t do it is because we think everybody else is saved. We just take it for. I was preaching at a men’s convention one time and a guy came forward and gave his life to Christ and he was a wreck.
[00:25:17] He had been through several marriages. He was an alcoholic, just a, his life was just a mess. And he got saved and I stayed with him through the years I, through the months in the months after that. Now just occasionally we’d make a phone call or something and got to be phone friends anyway, and he was really making progress.
[00:25:37] One day he called me and he was very upset. He said, Dr. Mark, something awful has happened. I need to talk to you. I thought, Oh man, he’s falling off the wagon. And he, I said, What is it? He said, I went to a barber. I used to go two years ago, and while he was cutting my hair, I thought, this is my chance to witness to him.
[00:25:57] So I said, Look, Howard I wanna tell you what’s happened to me. I’ve received Christ as my. I’ve been born again. I’ve given my life to Christ and he’s taken alcohol outta my life. I’m, I’ve got a job. I’m beginning to rebuild my life. He said, the barber spun my chair around and looked at me and said, Do you think for one minute that I don’t know this?
[00:26:18] He said I’m a Christian. I go to the First Baptist Church, and he said, Dr. Mark, it just flew all over me. He said, I pulled that cloth off and jumped outta that chair and said, You. You knew all about this and you never said a word to me. He said, I’ve sat in this chair drunk as Cooter Brown. He said, My liver’s the heart of a baseball.
[00:26:40] My children hate me, and you knew about Christ and you never told me. He said, Now, Dr. Mark, here’s my question. Do I owe him an apology? I said, I don’t know. You’ll have to work that out with God. I don’t know if you owe him an apology. What I do know, He owes you an apology. And I don’t want that. I don’t want that in my own life.
[00:27:04] I don’t want the day of the rapture of the church to come and we cast off gravity and rise to meet him in the air. And as we leave, I don’t want my next door neighbor rushing out in the yard and saying, Why didn’t you warn me? Why didn’t you say anything? Yeah we are gonna be held. Not just simply for what we do, but we are gonna be held accountable for what we don’t do.
[00:27:25] That’s what it says. If we wait till the morning light, we’ll be held accountable for this. Sometimes we won’t act because we simply don’t know what to do. We think we have to be Chris McCray or Terry Moore, Billy Graham or something. But there are people that you can reach to whom you have. That the pastors have no access.
[00:27:50] What can happen is that on the plane, when you say you’re a minister, it can end the communication. When you say you’re an engineer, then you’re on the equal footing and you can talk. There’s access that you’ll have as a layperson that the minister won’t have. So you say, I don’t know what to do.
[00:28:05] I’m gonna teach you. It is so simple. You just simply say to somebody, Hey friend, can I ask you a. If you were to die right this minute, are you a hundred percent sure you’d go to heaven? Here’s the amazing thing. This is amazing. I’ve had people tell me they’re an atheist and answer that question when I ask ’em no, I’m not sure.
[00:28:29] They say I don’t believe in heaven, but probably there is one and I’m not going. It’s amazing how people will be honest with you. If you were to die right now, are you a hundred percent sure you’d go? It’s as simple as that, and then they answer you and you can pray with them right then if they’ll take it right that minute, say, Look, let me lead you in a prayer.
[00:28:50] And you say, Oh I don’t even know the prayer. There isn’t a sinner’s prayer That’s not even in the Bible. The phrase of sinner’s prayer is not in the Bible. If you are faithful and true to God and they are sincerely wanting to be. And you pray together. I promise you, you can’t do it wrong. God will be okay.
[00:29:08] Do you think for one moment God said no. They use the wrong words. He’s out
[00:29:15] No God. God loves that person. So you just say, Lord Jesus, I open my heart. Come and live in me. Yes. Take away my sin. Write my name. In your book, I receive you as my savior. And Lord, I repent of my sin so that when I die, I. I’ll be in heaven with you. It’s not complicated and you don’t have to memorize some for formula.
[00:29:37] Your best friend while you have coffee, ladies to ask her, if you were to die right now, are you sure you’d go to heaven? Beyond that, let me give you an easier route. What about just inviting people to church? Why won’t people do that? Just invite somebody to come to church with. the UN and not all Christians.
[00:30:00] Yes. Okay. You should invite Christians to church, but is everybody in Carrollton, Texas saved? Is there not a heathen in this county? How about you invite somebody to church who’s not saved? How about if we did that? I was preaching in a Methodist. And a revival service when I was a very young preacher, right?
[00:30:21] It was right at the end of the Civil War, I remember, and , it was very rude to laugh at me and I was gonna preach Sunday morning and then five nights. So I decided to preach the Sunday morning about inviting people to Christ. Just something like what I did this morning and I just if you have a conscious memory of somebody who came to Christ in the last year because of your witness or testimony, would you raise your hand?
[00:30:48] Nobody did. I said what about in the last five years? Nobody did. So I just dropped it. But afterward, this elderly lady came to me and she was cranked up. I thought she was mad at me. She was humili. She said, That’s the most humiliating question I’ve ever had in my life. She said, I’ve been a member of this church for 60 years.
[00:31:09] She said, I was baptized when I was 12. I’m 72 years old, and she said, I cannot think of one single person who has ever come to Christ or even to church, because I invited him. She said, That’ll change the night. When I came to church that night, she was sitting right on the front row and with her was the dirtiest little girl.
[00:31:29] I’ve. I just went down and said hi there. I said, Is this your granddaughter? She says, Not my granddaughter. She said, I went to the most dangerous trailer park in this county today, and she said, I knocked on 42 trailers before somebody would loan me a child, . And she said, Now I got her here. And she said, Now do your job
[00:31:54] So I gave the altar call that night for salvation, and that lady brought that little girl and I prayed the little girl to receive Christ. The next night there was a teenage boy with him, and I just went down. I said, Hey, who? Who’s this young man? And the little girl said, This is my big brother. And the old lady said,
[00:32:14] So that night, the teenage boy got saved and the next night there was a woman with him. And I said, Who’s this? The kids said, This is our mother. And the old lady,
[00:32:28] that night, the mother got saved. In those four nights, those four worship services, an entire family found the redeeming victory of Christ. Because one old lady overcame her fear.
[00:32:45] So if you feel like you just can’t ask anybody if they’re saved, just invite ’em to church. Bring ’em up to pastor here before the service and say, Chris is my next door neighbor.
[00:32:59] Then let Chris do his job, but he can’t do his job. If you don’t do your job. You can’t keep lighting fire with the same wood. Amen. God and Jesus and Chris will light the fire, but you, some of you have got to start toting wood. Amen. Amen.