How can we attract the favour of God on our lives? Bill Hogg looks to Paul’s closing advice to Timothy.
I think it’s fair to say that Billy Graham lived a life that got God’s attention. There are plenty of examples we could look at from his life and that might tell us why, but I want to go one step further and look to the apostle Paul.
The author Bobby Clinton writes, ‘Only 20% of leaders finish well.’ Maybe they drag their wounded carcass across the finish line, or they arrive embittered and barren. Or maybe they stop running the race.
It’s in 2 Timothy 3 and 4 that Paul sees his finish line. The letter gives us a window into the apostle’s mind as he was preparing to die. As he reflected on his own life, he gives Timothy three ways to increase his capacity as a vessel that God can use and live a life that God’s face might shine on. He calls him to keep going, keep pressing on, keep running the race.
Stay true to your calling
‘Continue in what you have learned,’ writes Paul in 2 Timothy 3:14. He goes on in 4:5: ‘Keep your head in all situations… do the work of an evangelist, discharge the duties of your ministry.’
The work of an evangelist – that’s making much of Jesus. It’s stewarding the gospel and proclaiming Christ again, and again, and again, and again. It’s not caring who gets the credit, no matter how competitive we might be!
We saw this in Billy Graham’s life and ministry. I remember being at an event in Jacksonville, Florida not too long ago, where he preached for 30 minutes as a man in his eighties. He definitely wandered off topic a couple of times, but his gospel appeal was incredible. He never wavered from his calling as an evangelist.
Getting God’s attention involves looking only to heaven, not looking for man’s attention. We must stay true to our calling as evangelists to live a life that matters.
On the face of it, it’s strikingly simple – three steps to attracting God’s favour. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy
Honour the word of God
You probably know 2 Timothy 3:16 well – ‘All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.’ This is Paul’s second priority for living a life worthy of God’s notice.
Isaiah 66:2 reminds us that God looks on those who tremble at his word ‘with favour’. In other words, the people who get God’s attention are those who handle his authoritative word with reverence
There was a point in Billy Graham’s ministry where he came against challenges to the integrity of God’s Word. He found himself arguing with a ministry colleague, Chuck Templeton, about ‘theories and systems and approaches’ that undermined his view of scripture. He writes, ‘O God, there are many things in this book that I do not understand, many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. I cannot answer some of the problems that Chuck and others are raising.’
But the man who went on to be known for a catchphrase, ‘The Bible says…’ recalls an evening where, feeling the pressure, he took his Bible to a clearing in a place called Forest Lawn and prayed, ‘Father, I am going to accept this as thy word – by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be your inspired word.’
Lose your life
Here’s the punchline. Stay true to your calling and honour with trembling the Word of God – but if you really want to get God’s attention, you must lose your life.
Paul describes himself as ‘being poured out like a drink offering’ (2 Tim. 4:6). His was a fully surrendered life with no
2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us that ‘the eyes of the Lord range throughout the Earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.’ God is actively looking for those who all in for him.
The great evangelist D.L. Moody – who it’s estimated depopulated hell by close to 2,000,000 people in his lifetime – was spoken about in this way at his funeral: ‘The first thing that accounts for God using him so mightily was that he was a fully surrendered man.’
God’s not looking for comedians, he’s looking for people who will faithfully communicate his word
The aroma, energy and anointing of the Holy Spirit comes on those who fully surrender their lives to him.
Some of us are part-time or vocational evangelists. But are we full-time Christians? Jesus is looking for full-time, sold-out followers who preach him ‘in season and out of season’ (2 Tim. 4:2). The parable of the kernel of wheat in John 12 gives Jesus’ perspective: ‘if it dies, it produces
On the face of it, it’s strikingly simple – three steps to attracting God’s favour. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy. That’s why we’re given people to run alongside.
Psalm 133 is a beautiful reminder of the impact we can have when we go low and lock arms for the sake of the gospel. Who are you running the race with today?
If you’re passionate about evangelism, join our Advance network and be part of Advance 2020. Find out more at advance2020.org