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Slugging It Out with Caustic Critics, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
September 22, 2021 7:05 am

Slugging It Out with Caustic Critics, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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September 22, 2021 7:05 am

The King’s Commission: A Study of Matthew 21–28

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When Jesus conducted His ministry on earth, not everyone loved Him.

In fact, His escalating popularity seemed to parallel the escalation of critics. Defiant voices grew louder and more convincing as these naysayers attempted to sabotage the credibility of Jesus. Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll reminds us that even the harshest opponent can be won over by God's Spirit. Chuck is teaching from Matthew chapter 21, and today he'll include a true story about one man's dramatic conversion from darkness into light.

Chuck titled his message, Slugging It Out with Caustic Critics. Man-made effort done with a lot of cliches and a lot of emphasis on what you do for God, that kind of religion, goes nowhere with God. He takes greater delight in the tax collector and the prostitute who says, I have nothing in the world to offer. I'm an absolute and abject sinful individual. I am corrupt. I am immoral.

I am ashamed of my family. The truth is, I'm sinful to the core. But if you offer me hope, I will take it. And Jesus will take anyone who will come like that. He's not turned off by these things. What turns him on is that we will believe in him and not deny the fact that we are, for whatever reason, sinful and we acknowledge it. Let me tell you a couple of lingering lessons, and then I want to tell you another story, not from scripture, but from life.

Some of it you're familiar with, others, other part of it you're not. The first lesson I learned from this is that God is very patient. Think how long he has put up with Israel. Over the history of the Old Testament, how often they wander, how often they leave their monotheistic walk with the living God and move into idolatry, how often they turn against the prophets, how often they went their own way. And he patiently worked with them and patiently sent leaders that would bring them back. He sent judges that would relieve them and deliver them. And then he sent kings that would do that and prophets that would do that. How patient God is. God's wheels grind slowly but exceedingly fine.

Before I stay in just the scene of the scriptures, let me say it to every one of you and to me. God's patient with us. Look back over your life.

Do a flashback on your past. Check out your own faithfulness or lack of such. How gracious God has been not to give us what we deserve.

Why? Because God is patient. He patiently waits to carry out his plan. He waits for us to change. He waits for us to open our hearts to his will, to stop being so selfish and stubborn and letting him have his way. He patiently waits during the time we didn't know him and we were struggling with the gospel message. And he patiently waited those years as we wrestled with the truth and weren't ready to accept it.

Here's the second lesson I learned. God's patience has a limit. Oh, he loves us.

He loves us with an infinite amount of love. Never doubt it. But the other side of that coin is God's justice. There comes a day when that long suffering patience runs out and justice lands hard.

Justice, as the prophet writes, rolls down. Some of you have gone through it. You could tell the story yourself.

And it was a very unpleasant experience. Where are you in this? Are you on the patient side of God's waiting or is it turning a corner and things are going against you and you still haven't trusted in his son as your savior?

As I was planning this message, the Lord laid it on my heart to really drive home the gospel today. I want to do that, not through my story, but through the story of Chuck Colson, now going to be with the Lord. It's a name from the past that some of you are too young to even connect with our country, unfortunately. Chuck Colson served a hitch as a Marine officer and then afterwards was chosen by President Richard Nixon to be his special assistant and he was that. Access to the Oval Office right there in the middle of the action during the Vietnam War and right there when the whole mess of Watergate took place and there was a cover up of the truth. Some of us were so confident that our government would never go there, we couldn't believe it and we wouldn't believe it. Certainly not men like a former Marine, Chuck Colson, or a man who has finally become president, Richard Nixon.

Certainly not somebody, and you could name them, Kalmbach and others who were there dedicated to the cause. The Vietnam War was looming large and the shadows were getting heavy. And it was increasingly less popular war and lives were being lost and on and on. Anyway, the whole cover up kicked in and Nixon was behind it and Chuck Colson was involved in it and the others in that administration were engaged in it. And finally it came to the surface and we couldn't deny the evidence and they were found guilty of the cover up. Right in the midst of all this before Chuck served time, God began to get a hold of his heart. It didn't make the headlines at the time, but a friend named Tom Phillips spent some time with Chuck Colson at his home along the Maine coastline, the rugged coast of the northeast. And Tom Phillips witnessed to Chuck Colson, who was at that time lost, and a proud man and a selfish man, a self-made man. It was said of Colson, he would have run over his own grandmother to carry out Nixon's wishes.

Committed to the core, the problem was the commitment was misplaced. He didn't know it at the time. Tom Phillips is a believer and he gives Chuck Colson in his home there on the Maine coastline a copy of C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity and he says to Chuck, you need to read this. This man writes your language. You'll appreciate what he says. His name is C.S.

Lewis. Chuck was fingering the book. He didn't say much because he said if I had said much at that moment, having heard the gospel, which I did not believe, my voice would crack. But I had the strong feeling that I needed to read that little book. So he left with the book in hand and he got in his car in Tom Phillips driveway. This is where I pick up the story from Chuck's book, Born Again, his first among many fine books he wrote.

Listen to Chuck's words. Outside in the darkness, the iron grip I'd kept on my emotions began to relax. Tears welled up in my eyes as I groped in the darkness for the right key to start my car. Angrily, I brushed them away and started the engine.

What kind of weakness is this? I said to nobody. The tears spilled over and suddenly. I felt I had to go back into the house and pray with Tom, but they were turning the lights off in the house and he realized they were going to bed.

So we stay in this car and he says. As I drove out of Tom's driveway, the tears were flowing uncontrollably. There were no street lights, no moonlight. The car headlights were flooding illumination before my eyes. But I was crying so hard it was like trying to swim under water. I pulled to the side of the road, not more than 100 yards from the entrance to Tom's driveway. The tires sinking into soft mounds of pine needles. With my face cupped in my hands.

Head leaning forward against the steering wheel. I forgot about machismo. About pretenses, about fears of being weak. And as I did, I began to experience a wonderful feeling of being released. Listen to these words. Feelings of being released. Then came the strange sensation that water was not only running down my cheeks, but surging through my whole body as well. Cleansing and cooling as it went.

They were tears of sadness and remorse of joy, but somehow tears of relief. Listen to the patience of God in Chuck Colson's life. Patently waiting.

Patently waiting. And then I prayed my first real prayer. God, I don't know how to find you, but I'm going to try. I'm not much the way I am now, but somehow I want to give myself to you. I didn't know how to say more, so I repeated over and over the words, take me. Take me. Take me.

Take me. I stayed there in the car, wet eyed, praying, thinking for perhaps half an hour, perhaps longer, alone in the quiet of the dark night. Yet for the first time in my life, I was not alone at all. Back at the end, doubts about my motives continued to nag at me. Was I seeking a safe port in the storm? A temporary hiding place?

Was that what happened in Tom Phillips' driveway? Did I hope that God would keep my world intact? A bit of my doubts, I suppose. Certainly many people would accuse me of copping out in time, trouble. But could I make a decision based on how the world might judge it?

No. I knew the time had come for me. I could not sidestep the central question. Louis, or God, had placed squarely before me. Was I to accept Christ without reservation? Was I to accept Jesus Christ as Lord of my life? It was like a gate before me. There was no way to walk around it.

I would step through it, or I would remain outside. A maybe, or I need more time, was kidding myself as something pressed that question home. Less and less was I troubled by the curious phrase that Tom had used, accept Jesus Christ. It had sounded at first both pious and mystical.

Language of the zealot, maybe black magic stuff. But to accept means no more than to believe. Did I believe what Jesus said? If I did, if I took it on faith or reason or both, then I accepted. Not mystical or weird at all, and with no in-between ground left. Either I would believe, or I would not.

And believe it all, or none of it. The search that began that week on the coast of Maine, as I pondered it, was not quite as important as I had thought. It simply returned me to where I'd been when I asked God to take me. Take me in that moment of surrender on that little country road in front of the Phillips's home. Now listen closely.

And so early that Friday morning, while I sat alone staring at the sea I love, words I had not been certain I could understand or say fell naturally from my lips. Lord Jesus, I believe you. I accept you.

Please come into my life. I commit it to you. With these few words that morning, while the briny sea churned, came a sureness of mind that matched the depth of feeling in my heart. There came something more. Strength and serenity. A wonderful new assurance about life. A fresh perception of myself and the world around me.

In the process I felt old fears, tensions, and animosities draining away. I was coming alive to things I'd never seen before. As if God was filling the barren void I'd known for so many months.

There's the patience of God. Listen to it. Filling the barren void I'd known for so many months.

Filling it to its brim with a whole new kind of awareness. It was my pleasure to get to know Chuck Colson in the years following his conversion. We not only had the Marine Corps in common, which we often shared together, and we had the Savior in common. I spoke at a couple of gatherings where Chuck also spoke, and it was a pleasure to have him in our church where I served at the time. And I got to see the man behind the scene. And I got to hear the real Chuck Colson. A man without pretense.

A man who, if he's committed to something, goes for it with his whole heart. And there was not a doubt that Chuck and Christ were together. And because of his receiving the Savior, he now was filled with the presence of Jesus. It was beautiful to behold.

Having read about one side of him, which he never denied, I now saw the other side that had changed from the inside out because he had trusted in Christ. That is my offer to you today. God's patience is giving you time to wrestle with the issue. But his wheels grind slowly and exceedingly fine. Someday, the patience will end. And for you, it will be too late. This past Friday, I buried a friend, only 62 years old, filled with cancer. Sweetest man, wonderful heart, had been with us in our church for years. And he said to me over lunch the day that he and I met, and we talked about his condition and his death, he said, I'll tell you one thing, Chuck, I have no fear of dying. I have a home prepared for me because of Christ. It was a remarkable thing to visit with him and his wife and then later to be a part of the service when we laid him to rest. And I remembered those words that came from a man whose life had been changed because of Christ. I want you to bow your heads right now and close your eyes.

We've done this before, but for some of you, you have yet to trust in Christ. Today, you must not put that off. Just as Colson realized, now is the time.

Today is your time. You have no idea what your body is carrying around in it. You have no idea what disease may be diagnosed in the next month or year.

May I even say, or week. We don't know what a day will bring forth. So rather than risking, let's right now deal with the truth. You're lost. The only way for you to be found is through Christ who died for you. You come before him with simple words, just like Chuck. Lord God, I acknowledge I am lost.

I'm not able to save myself. So I come to you. Thank you for giving me your son who paid the penalty for my sins. I accept him now. If you know the Lord, I want you to pray for those sitting around you who may not know the Lord. Pray that they will make this decision.

Right now, trust him. We want to help you in your journey from earth to heaven. We want to help you prepare for whatever God's plan may include. For Chuck, it was several years of life before the Lord finally took him home.

For my friend, it was 62 years. God patiently worked through him, brought him to himself. I don't know how long it will be for you, but you trust him. We will help you. As you begin your walk with Christ, that is what we will help you do. You can contact our ministry and ask for assistance, and we'll connect with you and help you know what it means to have eternal life, relief, and the joy of sins forgiven. Thank you, Father, for the hope there is in Christ and only in Christ.

Thank you for the story that lives on, though Chuck is gone. Thank you for preserving it in this book for all of us to hear again. I pray for anyone today who hears these words and has never trusted in your son, may that be a reality today. Work with them, bring them to the awareness of that need, and may the sun not set tonight before they have trusted in your son as their Savior.

This I pray in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Master, and everyone said, amen. As Chuck Swindoll relayed this dramatic true story about his friend and colleague, the late Chuck Colson, perhaps you feel God's prompting you to make some changes in your life. At Insight for Living, we applaud any decision to step forward to God.

And if you've made a decision to trust Christ as your Lord and Savior for the first time today, or you've simply made a decision to pursue Christ in new and meaningful ways, I'd like to point you to a free resource that will guide you. Insight for Living produces a daily devotional that's sent by email. Chuck's down-to-earth writings cover a variety of everyday topics that are intentionally designed to help you navigate the pressing issues of life. And you are invited to receive the free devotional email from Chuck by following the simple instructions at insight.org slash devotional. And then you often hear us say that Insight for Living is made possible through the voluntary contributions from our monthly companions and all those who give a one-time donation. Well, in recent months, we've been pleased to add new members to our team because these new friends understand the impact of their investment in Insight for Living. As a result of the steady support from our monthly companions, we're empowered to touch more and more people through the daily program and the wide variety of resources made available to anyone who wants to know more about God and the Bible.

Perhaps today is the day you'll become a monthly companion. In this role, God will use your gift to help us reach a hurting world with His compassion, truth, and grace. Here's the number to call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or sign up online at insight.org slash monthly companion. Thank you for generously supporting the nonprofit ministry of Insight for Living. And when you reach out today, be sure to let us know how we can be praying for you and your family this year.

Once again, you can connect online at insight.org. In March 2022, Insight for Living Ministries is hosting an unforgettable journey to Israel. Carefully plan to deepen your understanding of the Bible and draw you closer to God.

Chuck Swindoll. For thousands of years, no place has been more meaningful to God's children than the land of Israel. The rugged landscape reminds us to find refuge in God alone. The fertile valleys invite us to follow our shepherd. Jerusalem's position at the very center of the world announces the good news of Christ to every nation. And now you can see Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries March 6 through 17, 2022. Every time I've visited the Holy Land, I've returned home with a refreshed heart for God and a renewed vision for the world.

Really, I mean it every time. And so I want you to have the same life-changing experience. To learn more, go to insight.org slash events. Or call this number 1-888-447-0444. Insight for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend.

I'm Wayne Shepard sitting in once again today from my friend Dave Spiker. Chuck Swindoll describes what he calls a dialogue with deceivers Thursday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, slugging it out with caustic critics, was copyrighted in 2017 and 2021. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-20 14:05:15 / 2023-08-20 14:13:42 / 8

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