Questions that Only You (And the Lord) can Answer – Lamentations 3:40

 

When I was in school we could expect to be tested at the end of the semester or at the end of the chapter. But sometimes the teacher would give us quizzes before the big final test. Those quizzes were not as important as the final, but they did become a small part of the grade. And at the same time they were important in preparing us for that big test. Yes, sometimes they painfully pointed out how ignorant we were, but their purpose was not to hurt us but to prepare us.

I would like to give you a little quiz this evening for no other purpose than to prepare you for the final. I brought this lesson 18 years ago, and it was so popular, I thought to bring it to you once again. It is a good idea to periodically remind ourselves that as Christians we are going to have to stand before God and give an account of the way we have lived our lives. It is a good idea to test ourselves now and then, before we have to stand before the Bema of Christ. I can’t tell you that these will be questions on the final, but they could be.

Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” As David says, we need the Lord’s searching, but what is wrong with US getting personally involved in that search? Why leave it all up to the Lord? Some of us are too lazy to make such a search, and others are too afraid what the search will turn up. We’re like the man who went to the psychiatrist for an IQ test, but he didn’t want to know the results unless it was really good, because he knew deep down, that he wasn’t really that smart. “Search me O God, but don’t tell me unless your find me among the upper 10% of Christian society.” A part of the problem is that we forget that God doesn’t have to test us at all, He knows us. What David was doing, in effect was saying, “Lord REVEAL to ME what you know about my heart.”

Here are twelve questions that only you can answer. And again, they are questions for which the Lord already has the answers. We had just better learn the material.

How much TIME do you spend in PRAYER and BIBLE STUDY each week?

Tonight I’m not going to try to convince you that you should pray and read your Bible. I hope that you realize these needs. I could give you scripture after scripture, but that is not my purpose. I’m simply asking the question.

Do you know the pages of God’s word as well as you do your FaceBook page? Do you have more eye strain from the computer screen or from the desk lamp over your Bible? Should you expect the your contractor to know the State Electrical Code more thoroughly than you know the Gospel of John? The question is not – “Are you a genius or a Biblical theologian,” but simply, how much time do you spend prayerfully reading God’s Word each week?

Second, What is there in your life that you definitely would NOT sacrifice to the Lord?

Paul told the Philippians, “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count ALL things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Make a list: What things do you enjoy so much that you would never give them to Christ if He asked? How long is that list? How many things are there on that list which other people would think are really important? Ten years from now, or a hundred years from now, would the list be any different? Would it be different after your death?

Jesus told His disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Would you sacrifice your father and mother, your health, your nation, or your life if the Lord asked you? Try to keep that in the context of the Lord’s statement in John 15:13 – “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Question #3: Do you spend YOUR MONEY as if it was the Lord’s money?

Of course, the Lord Jesus didn’t have very much money or wealth at all. He didn’t charge for His miracles, His speaking engagements, or the books that He wrote. But how often did He give to strangers in need? And how often did he give to extra-biblical charities? How often did he buy lottery tickets? How much money did Paul give or collect for the work of missions – or for other Christians?

How much of the stuff that you buy, do you really need? How much of the stuff you buy will be classified as “wood, hay and stubble” at the Judgment Throne? Do you tithe? Do you tithe joyfully? Do you give to missions? I once heard a missionary say that a man will some day be ashamed if he spent more money on his dog than he did for missions. That is probably true.

Question #4: Are you praying and working for the SALVATION of ANYONE in particular?

Among all the biographies I have is that the autobiography of Andrew Fuller. It is very interesting to hear about what sort of things Christians were arguing 250 years ago. One of the things that set Fuller apart from most of his contemporaries, was whether or not the unsaved should be invited or encouraged to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. That man came to the realization that the Bible was filled with exhortations to the lost, and that he had the responsibility to preach the gospel to those people. I happen to agree with him.

So does that mean that I should hire a missionary to preach the gospel on my behalf? Is it your opinion that as long as you pay the pastor’s salary and encourage him to preach the gospel every now and then that you have taken care of your responsibility towards world evangelism? Have you asked the Lord to burden your heart for some specific lost person? Are you striving to evangelize that person? Anyone?

Question #5: Is there anything in your life which might be a STUMBLING BLOCK to someone else?

This is language of the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Be honest and ask God to reveal these sorts of things to you. Turn to Matthew 18:1-10: “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

What sorts of things might be included in a list of genuine stumbling blocks? I say “genuine” stumbling blocks, because the wicked will stumble at anything, including righteous things. But what about your personal appearance: do you look like a Christian, like a slob or a heathen? Some Christian men demand that their wives wear dresses twenty-four hours a day, but they wouldn’t dress up to come to church if Jesus Himself was to preach that day. Did you know that offends some people? I believe that every time we come to the house of God, we should dress with respect for the Lord. It should look like we are going to meet with the King; we’re not putting out the garbage; we’re not going to Walmart, where anything goes.

And what about other personal habits? Paul said, “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” “Take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” Do you go into places where Christians ought not to go? Do you watch, read and hear things that cause others to turn away from your testimony of Christ? And then we come to attitudes like anger, gloominess, despair, and murmuring.
Question #6: Are you DOING MORE or LESS for the Lord than you were doing a year or 5 years ago?

I’m talking about public acts of service like teaching, singing, serving, and ministering in some sort of way. I know that circumstances and health changes, but with all things being equal, are you still as energetic for the Lord as you were 2 years ago? I know a man who buys one particular rare and somewhat expensive book to give to his Mormon friends, praying that the Lord would open their eyes to the truth. Others try to find homeless people to encourage and help. Others look for people they could bring to church. Some try to forward sermons and messages to others who might be blessed by them. And we could ask the same thing about private service as well. What was the last Christian book that you read?

Question #7: Are you using your TIME wisely for the Lord’s glory?

The Bible talks quite a bit about the subject and the use of time: “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Does your life have the right blend of rest, recreation, work and worship? The older I get, the more I find that time speeds up; the clock is spinning faster. The older I get, the more I realize that time is a limited quantity. But the truth is – we all have exactly the same number of minutes in a day.

Question #8 is related: How do you think that the Lord wants you to spend THE NEXT 24 HOURS?

Are there responsibilities that you have been shirking, delaying and postponing? The flesh, of course, has things it would like you to do. And I suppose the Devil might have his plans and hopes for you as well. But what would the Lord have you to do in those moments when there is nothing else pressing?

Question #9 How many BIBLE VERSES have you MEMORIZED in the past three months?

If you did memorize some scripture did you really learn and apply what they were saying? By the way, these questions are pointed at me as they are for anyone else. I haven’t memorized any scriptures in quite some time. I vowed when I first started out, to memorize every text from which I preached. That didn’t last very long.

Question #10: Do you know what are your GREATEST WEAKNESSES and sources of TEMPTATION?

I have an 8½x11 sheet of paper filled with subjects for prayer, which I keep in my Bible and pull out regularly. Perhaps I should have another with a prayer-filled list of my weaknesses. Perhaps they should be a part of my prayer list. We need to know our weaknesses, in order to avoid the problems which spring out of them. In this perhaps the alcoholic has an advantage on the rest of us – he knows his weaknesses.

Question #11: Is there UNCONFESSED SIN in your life.

The residual effects of sin can be disastrous, like a clog in a drain. Maybe a more appropriate illustration could be a blood clot in your leg. That thing could break up and give you a stroke, a heart attack or a pulmonary embolism – death. We need to deal with our sins on a day-to-day basis to stay spiritually healthy. I take a baby-aspirin to keep my DVT in check, but I’m not as consistent in dealing with the sin clots in my heart.

And finally, question #12: Are you in any way a HYPOCRITE.

By that I mean, are you only an actor, a pretender about certain aspects of your life, and as a result a deceiver? Are you a different person in public than you are in private? Are you one person at home, but another person in church?

The answers to these questions may be somewhat discouraging, but that hasn’t been my purpose.

It’s better to flunk the quiz and learn the right answers, than to never open our eyes and flunk the final. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Nearly all diagnostic tests are uncomfortable, and some are even painful, but they are necessary. If the results come back and the doctor says that we’re healthy, then praise the Lord. If the results are negative, then it’s time to make some changes. “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”

What a joy it will be to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” The only way that is going to happen is if we deliberately take the steps to make it happen. Yes, we are saved by grace alone. But there will be rewards based on our service and the state of our hearts in this life.