April 9, 1967
“The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life” , also known as the “Street Sweeper Speech”, was a variation of a theme he went back and forth to over the years. He gave this particular speech to New Covenant Baptist Church in Chicago, IL, on April 9, 1967.
No man ever spoke like this Man! —John 7:46
A US congressman, John Lewis, was 23 years old when he participated in the historic 1963 civil rights “March on Washington” led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Half a century later, journalist Bill Moyers asked Lewis how he was affected by Dr. King’s I Have A Dream speech that day. Mr. Lewis replied, “You couldn’t leave after hearing him speak and go back to business as usual. You had to do something, you had to act. You had to move. You had to go out and spread the good news.”
Many who encountered Jesus found it impossible to remain neutral about Him. John 7:25-46 records two different reactions to Jesus. While “many of the people believed in Him” (v.31), the religious leaders tried to silence Him by sending temple guards to arrest Him (v.32). The guards were likely present when Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (vv.37-38). The guards returned without Jesus and were asked, “Why have you not brought Him?” (v.45). They answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (v.46).
The words of Jesus compel us to act, and to move, beyond business as usual.
Jesus was in Jerusalem at the temple when He gave the teaching of John 7. Observant Jews came to the temple to celebrate three annual harvest festivals (Ex. 23:14-17; Deut. 16:1-17): Passover (together with the Feast of Unleavened Bread), Feast of Harvest (Weeks or Pentecost), and Feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles or Booths). As a devout Jew, Jesus faithfully kept these annual feasts (v.37; Luke 2:41-42; John 2:23).
So let our lips and lives express
The holy gospel we profess;
So let our works and virtues shine,
To prove the doctrine all divine. —Watts
Jesus’ death forgave my past sins and inspires my present obedience.
By David C. McCasland
Once we receive Jesus as Savior, His Spirit indwells us permanently. Yet there is a difference between having salvation and actually walking with the Lord. Being saved involves the forgiveness of sin and the blessing of eternal security, whereas walking with God is a privilege that we live out day by day.
To understand this idea more fully, let’s consider the example of Noah. Genesis 6:9 identifies him as a man who followed the Lord in a God-pleasing way. In other words, he lived by faith. Surely Noah did not understand God’s direction to build an ark. After all, there had never even been any rain, let alone a cataclysmic deluge. Until the flood, mist would rise from the ground to nourish vegetation. But because the Almighty spoke, Noah believed and obeyed.
For us, walking by faith need not mean something as monumental as building an ark to save wildlife from destruction. Instead, it’s likely to involve something more commonplace, such as living with godly priorities, spending time in the Word, or holding to God’s values in a world that belittles them. In fact, it is frequently when there is no crisis or quandary to motivate us that our true character is revealed. When we are faithful with the simple, mundane things, our heavenly Father will entrust us with more.
Believing God and acting accordingly is an important aspect of following Him. Do you have such trust that you obey even when His directions are difficult or confusing? Ask Him to increase your faith, and renew your commitment to follow wherever He leads.
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (Genesis 6:5-6)
These two verses, describing the incurable wickedness of the antediluvian world which finally brought on the global Flood, contain the first two of over a thousand occurrences of the word “heart” in the Bible. Note the contrast: man’s heart was evil; God’s heart was grieved.
Both the Hebrew and Greek languages treated the heart as the center of a person’s being, the seat of all feelings and thoughts, and we do the same in English. The writers knew that the heart was a physical organ, with its function of circulating the blood as basic to physical life. Leviticus 17:11, among other Scriptures, notes that “the life of the flesh is in the blood,” but only rarely was the word used thus in Scripture. Nearly always the word is used symbolically in reference to the deep essence of a person’s being. It is also used occasionally to refer to the innermost part of physical objects (e.g., “the heart of the earth,” as in Matthew 12:40).
In this first occurrence it refers to the “thoughts” of the heart. Somehow, before one thinks with his mind, he thinks with his heart, and these deep, unspoken thoughts will determine the way he reasons with his brain. Jesus confirmed this in Mark 7:21: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts.”
How important it is, then, to maintain a heart that is pure. In fact, in sharp contrast to the first occurrence of “heart” in the Old Testament referring to man’s evil thoughts, the first occurrence in the New Testament is in the gracious promise of Christ: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). HMM
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. —Psalm 5:3
Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it be only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place). Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God’s presence envelops you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it. Stop trying to compete with others.
Give yourself to God, and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few. Don’t try to know what will be of no service to you. Avoid the digest type of mind—short bits of unrelated facts, cute stories and bright sayings. Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work. Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility.
Pray for a single eye. Read less, but read more of what is important to your inner life. Call home your roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul. Practice spiritual concentration.
Lord, direct me today to those things that would most enhance my walk with You, and enable me to serve You better. Amen.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me… and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. John 14:21
The final test of love is obedience, not sweet emotions, not willingness to sacrifice, not zeal, but obedience to the commandments of Christ!
Our Lord drew a line plain and tight for everyone to see. On one side He placed those who keep His commandments and said, “These love Me.” On the other side He put those who keep not His sayings, and said, “These love Me not.”
The commandments of Christ occupy in the New Testament a place of importance that they do not have in current evangelical thought. The idea that our relation to Christ is revealed by our attitude to His commandments is now considered legalistic by many influential Bible teachers, and the plain words of our Lord are rejected outright or interpreted in a manner to make them conform to religious theories ostensibly based upon the epistles of Paul.
The Christian cannot be certain of the reality and depth of his love until he comes face to face with the commandments of Christ and is forced to decide what to do about them. Then he will know!
I think we should turn for a while from finespun theological speculations about grace and faith and humbly read the New Testament with a mind to obey what we see there. Love for Christ is a love of willing, as well as a love of feeling, and it is psychologically impossible to love Him adequately unless we will to obey His words!
But without faith it is impossible to please him. HEBREWS 11:6
Too many Christian leaders, acting like enthusiastic promoters, are teaching that the essence of faith is this: “Come to Jesus—it will cost you nothing!” The price has all been paid—”it will cost you nothing!”
Brethren, that is a dangerous half-truth. There is always a price connected with salvation and with discipleship.
God’s grace is free, no doubt about that. No one in the wide world can make any human payment toward the plan of salvation or the forgiveness of sins.
I take issue on Bible grounds with the statement that “everyone in the world has faith—all you have to do is turn your faith loose.”
That is truly a misconception of what the Bible teaches about men and God and faith. Actually, faith is a rare and wonderful plant that lives and grows only in the penitent soul.
The teaching that everyone has faith is simply a form of humanism in the guise of Christianity. I warn you that any faith that belongs to everybody is not the faith that saves. It is not that faith which is a gift of God to the broken and contrite heart!
Lord, I praise You for extending Your grace so freely to me. I repent of any sins I have committed, both knowingly and unknowingly. Help my faith in You to grow today.