There was once a shoemaker who was very religious. All day long as he worked on his shoes, he would say to himself,

"If only God would send me someone who could show me the way. Yea, if God would but reveal himself to me clearly, and fill me with his Spirit, I would cheerfully close my shop and go to China as a missionary."

One day there walked into his shop a stranger with a book.

"I have come in answer to your heart's desire. I have come to open God's will for your life."

For six months the stranger came every evening at seven o'clock and opened scripture to the eager shoemaker. Finally one evening the teacher closed the book and said,

"Now, my friend, the time has come when you must act. God doesn't want you to go to China. God doesn't want you to leave this city. God wants you to change your life right here in your shoemaker's shop with your wife and children."

The shoemaker was crestfallen.

- He had hoped to go to China.

- He had pictured himself reviving thousands in that poor heathen land.

But God put his finger on the one thing needful:

"What I want from you, Mr. Shoemaker, is a godly life right where you are.

I want my glory in your eyes,

my word on your lips,

my love in your heart, right there in your shoemaker's shop."

I suppose we're all like that shoemaker. We want a visit from God.     If only God would come into my life and fill me so full that I could rise above this humdrum day-to-day living and go out and really do things for him.

That's how the city of Jerusalem was feeling - Jerusalem was expecting a visit from God. For hundreds of years Jerusalem had been waiting for God to come as the prophets had said.

One day there appeared in the temple a man who claimed to be God's Messiah.

- The touch of his fingers would open the eyes of the blind.

- With a few words he could cast a demon out of a man.

- When he stood up to teach, what gracious words came out of his mouth.

"Perhaps this is the Messiah. Surely no one ever spoke like this. Surely no prophet before was filled with such power."

For three-and-a-half years Jesus came and went from the Holy City, teaching, opening scriptures. He had everyone in suspense.

"Is he the Messiah? Will he redeem us? Will he lead us forth into freedom from our oppressors?"

But then the whole thing died out. And do you know why?

Because instead of leading the people forth in battle, instead of giving them something dramatic to do, Jesus called the people to change their lives right where they were.

"What must we do that we may work the works of God?"

"This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he hath sent."

"All I want you to do is follow me, live the way I do, imitate me. I don't want an earthly kingdom. I want disciples who share my life."

This was too simple, too definite, too down-to-earth. They didn't want to change their lives. So the son of David - the Christ of God - for whom Jerusalem had been waiting and crying for seven centuries stood on the hillside above the Holy City and wept for it.

"If thou hadst known, at least in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace, but now they are hid from thine eyes."

Jerusalem was finished.

Jerusalem was about to be destroyed in the bloodiest siege that ever came to any city. Because when God came, she refused to do the one thing needful: she refused to receive God's beloved son into her heart and change her life right there.

What a lesson in this for you and me! What a warning! You have cried to God to visit your life.

"Fill me with power! Give me a work to do."

Friend, God has heard your heart-cry. God has visited your life. God has come to you in exactly the same way as he came to Jerusalem of old.

- Not in a blinding flash.

- Not in a vision.

- Not in earthquake, hail, and fire,

but in flesh and blood. God is visiting you this very second in the person of his beloved son, Jesus.

"All I want you to do my child is to let me into your life right where you are. Will you let me come in and be Lord over your heart? Will you let me have control of every thought and desire? I will instruct you and teach you the way that you should go - if you will only let me in."

God doesn't ask how many hours you put in on church work this week. He asks,

"Do you love my Son? Do you love him enough to walk in his steps out there in the world where you have to work? Do you love him enough to reflect his goodness toward the people you ride the bus with? Do you love him enough to visit the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry? Do you love him enough to confess him before other men?"

We all wish we could be doing more to build up the church. But it's not all our doing that builds up the church. God isn't standing by with a whip and saying, "Make me bricks! Make me bricks!"

"This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."       

Just love Jesus and soon Jesus will start working his works in you.

If you love Jesus you won't be lazy.

If you love Jesus you won't waste time on things that displease him.

If you love Jesus you'll simply start being like him right where you are.

Imagine the miracles that will happen when you start being like Jesus in your home. His patience, his compassion, his peace.

How quickly some of your friends, and enemies, will be converted when you start living like your Lord in your daily life with them. And oh what spiritual life you will have when you start imitating your Master at prayer when God finds you on your knees early in the morning or late at night.

Perhaps you have gone to church for many years. You've heard hundreds of sermons. You're trying to be halfway decent out there in the world. But let me ask you the one question which determines your salvation:


Friend, you haven't even had a sip of christianity until you can say,

"I do. I love him. He's my Lord."

If you love Jesus, you won't have to go to China to prove it. Your life will show it right where you are.

"If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter that he may abide with you forever."

Everything else will take care of itself. If you love Jesus,

But without love for him, your whole Christian life is as hollow, and tinny, and joyless, and weak, as a piece of counterfeit money.

Simon Peter was an enthusiastic man. He was ready to make big sacrifices - prepared to suffer danger. He had big ambitions for his Lord. Do you remember Jesus' last conversation with Peter?

"Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?

Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?

Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"

Three times. Why? Because Peter's answer to this question would make or break his life.

- you'll       have the Holy Spirit,

        - you'll       bear fruit,

        - you'll       win converts,

        - you'll       build up the church.

Jerusalem said no - "We don't care about you."

Peter said, "Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee."

What do you say? What's your answer?

- He will try you.

- God will try you.

- Even the devil will try you.

And if you can prove that indeed you do love Jesus more than these - more than anything in the world - then you are saved, and you will live a saved life.

And the God who saved you will keep you until the day when your Lord will come out from behind the invisible and reward your love with glory unspeakable and unending.