The More Things Change, The More Things Stay the Same

Billy Graham

Billy Graham

I have been enjoying on Satellite Radio the preaching of Billy Graham. I have noticed several common denominators in Graham’s preaching. Regardless of his subject, he made, as some have said, “a straight line to the cross.” Whether his subject was heaven, hell, sin, or a topic like loneliness, Graham made his way to the cross as soon as possible.

Another thing that I have noticed is how Graham used contemporary events. Graham was truly a man like the ones spoken of in 1 Chronicles 12:32, who “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”

One other thing I have noticed, that I knew already, but I have paid special attention to it, is that Billy Graham closed all of his messages in essentially the same way. He called people to a decision. Not only did he call people to a decision, but he used almost the exact same words every time. He called people to believe, and then he explained what Biblical belief is. And then, he called people to repentance, and he explained what repentance is. Repentance is a change in your view about God, in your view about yourself, and in your view about sin. He called people in repenting to make a change.

I remember reading years ago of Graham’s answer to a reporter’s question about the difference in preaching at the beginning of his ministry and the end of his public ministry. His answer is classic:

Nothing has really changed in terms of the needs of people. Whenever or whatever you preach, you must remind them of their sin, speak to them about Heaven and Hell, show them to the cross, and urge them to come to the Savior.

Truly, the more things have changed, the more things have stayed the same.

Showing Kindness

Think with me about 3 questions.

  • What does it mean to be kind?
  • What is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?
  • What can you do to show kindness to someone else

In 2 Samuel 9:1, newly anointed King David posed this question: “Is there anyone remaining from Saul’s family I can show kindness to because of Jonathan?” If you read the rest of the story, you will discover that the someone is Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was the almost forgotten son of Jonathan that carried with him the horrible tag, “lame in both feet.” However, because of the kindness of David, “the one lame in both feet” spent the rest of his days always eating at the king’s table. Mephibosheth’s story is a great story of grace. When I think about his story and my story as a recipient of God’s grace, two principles are abundantly clear.

First, those who have experienced grace (kindness) ought to exhibit great grace.

Second, the greatest acts of grace target those who could never repay with their own act of grace.

Now, take these two principles and go show kindness to someone today—not for Jonathan’s sake, but for Jesus’ sake!

Excelling in Love

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,
1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 NIV

A group of 4-8 year-olds was asked, “What does love mean?” Here are some of their answers:

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore so my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis, too. That’s love.”

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”

“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.”

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.”

Our world struggles to define real love. But even when we can define love correctly, we still struggle with being loving.

These two verses teach us several principles about love.

God’s example of love sets the standard.

The only way to love as He loves is to let Him love through us.

God puts no restrictions on the people we must love.

The first part of verse 10 reveals the Thessalonians love for all. Again, here is an example of a church with a vibrant testimony. They loved all the brothers. Some people are harder to love than others, but we must love those folks too.

God puts no limits on how much we should love. 

We are to excel in love. Regardless of how much we love, we can always love more.

Find someone today who needs love.