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Who Gets the Credit

Scripture: Genesis 3:8, Daniel 2:28, Daniel 4:1-37
Date: 10/31/1998 
The battle between good and evil was instigated when Lucifer wanted the credit, he wanted recognition, he wanted to be God. Sin causes low self-esteem and we follow in the steps of the devil instead of giving all glory to God. The story of Daniel interpreting the king's dream shows credit needing to go to God. This is true with Joseph who interpreted the Pharaoh's dream and gave glory to God.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

Welcome to Central. Happy Sabbath. Morning. I hope you’ve enjoyed participating in some of the Net ’98 programs. I’m praising the Lord for the benefits of having channel 27 here in town. Karen and I are able to watch the programs about two hours before they show here at the church at home. And that’s been very nice because once I get to the church I can visit with people and hob-nob because I’ve already seen the presentation. If you haven’t enjoyed Net ’98 we encourage you to come to the church tonight about 7, 7:15 is when the broadcast begins. Well, actually, if I’m not mistaken we’ll be showing the church service at 6:00 here. And so if you’d like to see the church service of Net ’98 that they aired this morning, I’ve already seen it; it’s good. Learn how to add 11.5 years to your life. Six o’clock here and then we’ll have a second matinee of a new program at 7:15.

A frog graduated from tadpole to frog there by a pond one day up in the woods. He slowly developed a very warm close relationship with a couple of the geese that also frequented the pond. When the weather started getting cold the frog says, “What do you do?” And the geese said, “Well, we fly south where the weather’s nice and warm and we swim in warm water.” The frog said, “I understand I’m supposed to dig down in the mud and hang out in the mud all winter.” He said, “That doesn’t sound very appealing to me.” The geese said, “Well, we’d love to have you come. Can you fly?” The frog said, “No.” He said, “Can you hop?” And the geese said, “Not that far.” The frog said, “I have an idea. If you each put a stick in your mouth, one stick between you, then I wrap my tongue around it. You get a running start, I can go with you.” The geese said, “Well, we like to have you around, you’re a lot of fun.” So they went and they found a long straight stick and the geese put one end in each of their mouths. The frog wrapped his long tongue, because you know frogs can’t grab well with their hands, wrapped his tongue around the stick. The geese went flapping down the pond, frog kicked his feet, pretty soon they were airborne. They circled the pond a few times to gain altitude and as they were going by a couple of farmers out in the field nearby saw this incredible sight. Two geese flying with a stick in their mouths and a frog hanging by his tongue in between. And one farmer said to the other, “Well, I’ll be. I’ve never seen anything like it. That’s amazing.” The other farmer said, “I wonder which one of the three of them thought of that.” And the frog went, “Mm mmm.” And the farmer said, “I think the frog’s trying to say something. He says, “Mm mmm.” “I think the frog’s saying they did.” And at that point the frog couldn’t stand it any longer. He let go with his tongue and he said, “I thought of it,” and fell to the ground, splat.

You know the battle between good and evil revolves around who gets the credit, who gets the credit. You are the servants of the one you obey and we give the credit to the one we obey. We discredit the one we disobey. You know, if you look in the New Testament, during the temptation of Christ there were three specific temptations. The third temptation the Bible says, verse 8, Matthew 4, “Again the devil took him up on an exceeding high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory.” He didn’t show him the slums and the shanties, showed Him all the glorious parts of the kingdom. “And he said to him, All these things I will give you if you fall down and worship me.” “They’re mine to give to whomsoever I will.” “And Jesus said, Away with you, Satan: for it’s written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” The battle revolved around who gets the worship. In the Lord’s Prayer first thing that we’re encouraged to do is to honor God’s name, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom, thy will.” He gets the glory, it’s His kingdom, it’s His will that’s to preoccupy us. The battle between good and evil was instigated because the devil said, “No, I want the credit. I want to be God.” And it’s a battle over who gets the credit. Now credit is not always good. It depends on what the credit is for.

Look in your Bibles in the book of Genesis chapter 3, please. You know right in the very beginning trying to figure out who gets the credit became an issue. Genesis 3, after man and woman sinned, they ate the forbidden fruit, they were ashamed, the light went out, they discovered they were naked. They tried to cover their nakedness with fig leaves that began to wilt and the Lord called for them. Verse 8, chapter 3 of Genesis, “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees. And the Lord called to Adam, and said, Where are you? And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And God said, Who gets the credit for your being naked? Who told you you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree, of which I commanded you should not eat?” Instead of the man saying, “Yes, I did. Lord, I’m sorry,” he said, “The woman that you made,” it’s called a diversionary tactic. He was trying to ricochet the blame from himself to the woman and ultimately to God. He said, “It’s the woman that you made.” He said, “God, I’m going to give you the credit for sin. I’m giving you the credit for my sin.” “The woman you made to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” Well, the Lord turns to the woman and He said, “What have you done? She said, The serpent,” he gets the credit. All of a sudden the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on because he never says anything, in more ways than one.

Now credit can be very good and credit can be very bad. I’m not talking about credit cards, but that still holds true there, too. Amen? Can be very good, they can be very bad. If you are given credit for discovering a cure for some terrible disease you’d probably be thankful for that. If you’re credited with the Oklahoma bombing you wouldn’t want that credit. Right? People like to take credit. It comes from our root problem with pride. We want to be; you know, sin causes low self-esteem. Are you aware of that? We try to increase our self-worth by taking credit for our accomplishments, for our possessions, right? For who we are. But the problem is as soon as you do that you begin to follow in the steps of the devil. To God be the glory. God is the one to be worshipped. He deserves the credit. He’s our creator. It’s really absurd when you think about the creation boasting in its being when it had nothing to do with it. Turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Daniel, Daniel chapter 2.

You know there’s an interesting story; King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. He has a couple of dreams in the book of Daniel. Nobody understood the dream. His wise men couldn’t tell him what the dream was. Daniel asked for a little time for the king, he’d pray about it. Well, pretty soon Daniel goes to the guard and says to the guard, “Take me to the king,” this is Daniel 2:25, “I can tell the king his dream.” “Then Arioch,” who’s the captain of the king’s guard, “he brings Daniel before the king, and he says to him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, to make known the king the interpretation.” The captain of the guard, Arioch, he makes it sound like he had his SWAT team scouring Babylon to find somebody who could translate the king’s dream. He had nothing to do with it. Daniel found him, but he wanted the credit. You know when the Pharaoh had a dream and Joseph was brought out of prison in Genesis 41:15, “Pharaoh said to Joseph, I’ve had a dream, and there’s no one who can interpret it: but I have heard that you can understand a dream to interpret it.” That would have been a really good place for Joseph to say, “Yes, I have these powers and I’d like a raise,” make the most of this opportunity. You know what Joseph said, evidence that he was a man of God? He said, “It is not in me: God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” And when Daniel interpreted the king’s dream he said, “There is a God in heaven.” God is the one who gives these things.

See, this is one of the characteristics of a person who really belongs to God is they are not afraid to relinquish credit. They give the credit where the credit’s due. Now you know what made me think of this message? I struggle with this. I like getting credit. You probably do too. You may not think about it, but. A few weeks ago I was driving in my car, I told you I listen to Christian radio, right on the corner of Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks I stopped at the light. I was listening to a sermon from a famous radio minister, most of you here would recognize. And he began to share a sermon illustration that I wrote. It’s not like an illustration everyone’s heard and pastors have passed around. I sat up one night and I wrote it and I shared it years ago in several sermons. And all of a sudden he started sharing my illustration on the radio. And I’m looking around to see if anyone else is listening to the same station. And I was so upset because history was being made and I knew what he was going to say next. He was repeating word for word my illustration. Now I don’t know if he heard it on a tape or something someone gave him, or he heard another minister use it and he used it. I don’t know how it happened, but I felt robbed that there was nobody to tell. And so I decided not to tell anybody, until today. Now I’m telling the world. But I thought, “What is it in me that is so desperate to be recognized and to get the credit?” And then the question came into my mind. It’s a good illustration; I’m not going to tell it to you right now. It’s a good illustration. I thanked the Lord for it when I got it, but when I heard someone else using it I wanted the credit. You know what I’m saying? We forget who is the source of all blessings. We like for them to stop and rest a while with us so we get the credit for them.

Go back to Daniel. Daniel 4, you know this story. King Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, has a dream about a tree. The tree reaches up to heaven and all the beasts find shade and food underneath that tree and the birds lodge in its branches and it’s this flourishing tree that blesses the world. And then all of a sudden the tree is cut down and Nebuchadnezzar wonders, “What does this mean?” And pretty soon his wise men again are impotent, they can’t help understand his dream. Daniel is brought before the king, he tells what the tree, the dream means. Incidentally, principally, literally that tree was a symbol of Nebuchadnezzar who would be cut out of his throne. He had been the nation that was creating the gross national product for the world back then, the golden empire of Babylon. But there’s more to it. I believe there’s a spiritual application. I’m not going to go very far, but suffice to say in prophecy what is a tree a symbol of? A nation. Remember Jesus said in Matthew 24, “Behold, the fig tree”? “Look,” He says, “behold, the fig tree and all the trees.” There are several parables in the Bible where one nation talks to another nation, they compare themselves to trees. I think that tree that was to feed the whole world, that all the nations and beasts were to be blessed by, was God’s church, His people. And when they failed in their mission they were temporarily cut down, but they sprouted again.

That’s another study for another day. But that is a spiritual application. I’m not wanting to deal with that. I’m wanting to deal with the literal reason that Nebuchadnezzar was dethroned. Daniel advised Nebuchadnezzar after warning him, “This dream means that you’re going to lose your throne. You’re going to be robbed of your reason.” He gave him some counsel. Verse 27, Daniel 4, “Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you, break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; perhaps there may be a lengthening of your tranquility,” your prosperity. And evidently Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by this and he tried to be good for a few months, but pretty soon he slipped into his old pattern. He was a very proud, raging monarch. And it says in verse 28, “All this came upon king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months,” God gave him a year’s mercy, “he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon.” Surveying the wonders of the world. You know they had the walls of Babylon that were wide enough for several chariots to run abreast around the top of the walls, hundreds of feet wide I understand at the base. River Euphrates ran through the city. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon he built for his queen, Cimeramus. I mean it was a gorgeous, glorious, golden kingdom. Even Daniel said, “You are that head of gold.” Gold was everywhere. And he surveyed, he was a frantic builder. Had all these monuments and palaces. And he supposedly rebuilt the tower of Babel into a step pyramid, a temple. So he’s looking and surveying all this and he says, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power, and for the honor of my majesty?” “I, my, my,” watch out for those words. You know it was the devil who said, “I, I, I would be like the most high. I will exalt my throne.” Nebuchadnezzar took credit for his prosperity. And it said, “While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven, king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken; the kingdom is departed from you. And they’ll drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: and they shall make you eat grass like oxen, and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and he gives it to whomsoever he chooses. That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar: he was driven from men, he ate grass like the oxen, his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” That king who had been well manicured became unkempt. He had long dirty fingernails and his hair was matted and gross. That’s the biblical word. And why did it happen? He lost his mind. Now when you’re created, when you’re inspired, when you’re gifted is it because you are gifted or is it because it’s one of the gifts of the spirit that God has given you? How many of us abuse the gifts that God has given us by taking credit for what is not really ours? This story is there to illustrate Nebuchadnezzar had done a lot because God had done it through him. The book of Job illustrates you can lose everything in one day. You can lose not only your health and your possessions; you could lose your mind, just like that. Your reason is a gift of God. And the intelligence and inspiration and strategy that God had given Nebuchadnezzar was a gift. And as soon as you and I begin to be proud of and take credit for the gifts that God gives us you can lose it. Turn with me in your Bibles to Isaiah, please. Another king, this is a king in Israel. Isaiah 39. Remember Hezekiah was sick unto death. God worked a miracle, God healed him, He lengthened his life. Made the sun go back 10 degrees, added 15 years to his life. And supposedly some of the stargazers in Babylon saw this astronomical wonder and they wanted to find out what God did this. They did a massive inquiry. They found out that it was the God of Israel. They send ambassadors to learn more about God to Hezekiah. Theses ambassadors come, Hezekiah says, “Ooo, from Babylon, ambassadors to here to see me?” No, they weren’t there to see him. They were there to find out about God. But he forgot who is the source of every blessing. “At that time Merodachbaladan, the son of Baladan,” that’s Isaiah 39:1, “king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he heard he had been sick, and recovered. And Hezekiah was pleased with them, and he showed them the house of his treasures, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious ointments, and all his armory, and all that was found among his treasures: there was nothing in his house, or in all his dominion, that Hezekiah did not show them.” The word, “God,” does not appear in that passage. They came to find about this God that could make the sun stand still, indeed go backwards, and instead he showed his stuff, so that he could get the credit for the miracle. “Look at all my greatness. Look at my possessions. That’s why the sun went backwards. I am the center of the universe.” You know, some of us think that. All children think that. They must be taught that they’re not, right? Some of us have not yet learned that. But little children are born thinking the world revolves around them. “I’m hungry. I’m wet.” They cry and want everyone to take care of them. They don’t know there’s other people with feelings out there. And Hezekiah was saying, “Me, me, me, my, my, mine.” “And Isaiah the prophet went to Hezekiah,” I’m in verse 3, “and said, What did these men say? and where did they come to you from? And Hezekiah said, They came to me from a far country, from Babylon. He said, What have they seen in your house? Hezekiah said, Oh they’ve seen all that’s in my house: there’s nothing among my treasures I’ve not shown them.” “My house.” “Then Hezekiah [Isaiah] said, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, for which your fathers have accumulated until this day, will be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And they’ll take some of your sons who will descend from you, who you will beget,” and Daniel was among those princes, incidentally, “and they’ll be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” He took credit for everything he had instead of giving it to God and he lost it all, just like Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind. When you forget to give credit to where credit is due you lose what you do have. God sometimes in order to remind us that He is the fount of every blessing, when we start taking credit for the gifts He’s given us, and that would not just include the mental gifts and the miracles and the providence. He’s given you temporal gifts, hasn’t He? He’s blessed us to different degrees with physical possessions. Sometimes we forget that God owns 100% and we’re reluctant to return 10. Amen? And that stands as a warning that when we forget to give Him credit that all things belong to Him you can lose it all. He can’t bless what you have. On the other hand, like Joseph, if you give God credit; when Joseph answered Pharaoh’s dream he gave God the credit and pretty soon Joseph was prime minister. God could trust more to Him because he knew how to give the glory back to God. And if we understand this very basic principle that if you’re trying to grasp what belongs to God and take credit for it you’ll lose it. But if you see yourself more as a mirror, the moon to reflect the light from the sun [Son?] of righteousness then you shine all the brighter. We’re all anxious to make sure that we get the credit. Hey, you know, I don’t want to leave this concept of the kings. Let’s go to I Kings 3. I’ve given you two bad examples; let me give you one good one. I Kings 3, you know Solomon. Chapter 3:3, I Kings, “Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David: except he still sacrificed and burned incense in the high places.” They had not yet built the temple. “Now the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for there was a great high place: Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. And at Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give you. And Solomon said, You have shown,” notice this, “You have shown great mercy to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in truth, and righteousness, and uprightness of heart with you; you have continued this great kindness to him, and you have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king instead of my father David: I’m just a little child: I don’t know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to your servant,” he doesn’t even say his name, “an understanding heart to judge your people, that I might discern between good and evil: for who is able to judge this great people of yours?” Do you notice a difference in attitude between Hezekiah and Solomon? Hezekiah is, “My, my, my, my, my,” and he lost it all. Solomon is saying, “It’s your people; it’s your kingdom and I’m your servant. All the glory and credit belongs to you,” and what does God do? It says the Lord was pleased because Solomon said, “Give me wisdom to judge your people.” And God said, “You know, because you know where the source of wisdom is I can trust you.” And He showered wisdom upon Solomon unlike any of the monarchs before or after. Why? Because Solomon, at that time, knew who got the credit. He was willing to give the credit where credit was due. You know why evolution is such a toxic teaching? Evolution robs God of the credit that belongs to Him for creation. You know it aggravates me because I like nature programs. I like some of these science programs. I like the pictures in National Geographic. You read those things and you look at these incredible, intricate miracles of nature and then they go and disgust you by saying, “Isn’t it amazing how these things evolved and we wonder how they evolved.” What an insult to God to rob the credit for the genius of the Almighty and give it to happenstance. It’s an insult. You know why idolatry is forbidden? Idolatry is taking the credit that belongs to God and giving it to an inanimate, porcelain, ceramic figurine. What an insult, to take the glory and the wisdom of the Almighty, living God who’s light unapproachable and give it to a piece of plastic. We misplace credit sometimes, don’t we? And we take the credit and the glory that belongs to God and we try and take it upon ourselves. I Corinthians 4:7, this is a good one to underline. I Corinthians 4:7, “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast, as though you did not receive it?” We all want to take the credit. We want to be noted. Now is it appropriate to appreciate people? Is it? Yes. You want to be sure to appreciate people and I think that’s a Christian virtue, to acknowledge gratitude and thanks is something that we should, we should be sensitive about. But as a Christian you don’t want to be going on a safari all the time to make sure that you’re getting the appropriate amount of appreciation and attention and credit for what you’ve done and your accomplishments. Because you know what? If you do that your expectations will be dashed and you will be unhappy and irritable because you will be feeling like people are not appreciating you and you’re not getting the credit that’s due you. Yes, Christians should appreciate one another, but I’ve got news for you. This world is not very thankful. This world is very selfish and grasping and if you are easily hurt because you are not appreciated and you don’t get the credit that you think you deserve you’re not going to make it because the world is very selfish. The world’s very forgetful. The world will take advantage of you. That’s why a Christian needs to be meek. Don’t be demanding your credit. Don’t be demanding your rights and appreciation. If you don’t expect any, the Bible says Jesus said, “Give expecting nothing in return.” If you get something then you’re really happy, right? But if you give expecting everybody to appreciate, notice and. You know I remember a couple of years ago when we videotaped an evangelistic series in Redding. My sons Micah and Daniel helped with the production. Micah was on camera part-time. Daniel was what they call a cable-boy. You know when they run these cameras they’ve got these cables and the cameramen are focusing, they’ve got someone to keep them from tripping. And Daniel was a cable-person. Matter of fact, if you’ve seen that old video you’ll see Daniel going back and forth, he looked for every opportunity he could think of to get in front of the camera. He’d go by to get a cable. Then at the end of the program they typed in the names of Micah and Daniel Batchelor in the credits for production crew. My kids would sit there for an hour and a half while Dad preached; they wouldn’t hear anything I said. They kept waiting for the credits. The credits would come on; I’d get ready to, they’d say, “Wait, the credits, Dad. There’s our name, in lights.” “Micah, Camera. Daniel, Cable.” And they were so thrilled. [They] didn’t care about the sermon. They wanted to see their name on TV. And you think, “Well, that’s a childish trait.” How many struggle with that trait? That’s right, we want to be recognized. We want to be appreciated. We want to be valued. We want to have others think about our worth. Turn to Matthew 6 please. Matthew 6, we’ll start with verse 1. Jesus in His initiation sermon He says, “Take heed,” warning, “do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them.” What does that mean? In order to get the credit. “Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” If we’re doing what we do so we get credit we’re doing it for the wrong reason. “Therefore when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and the streets.” You know they had some of the wealthy religious leaders who would assume an air of piety and they’d have their servants blow a trumpet there in the market place then everyone would turn and look and there’d be some poor beggar and they’d say, “Watch this.” Drop some money in their little can so they could get the praise of men. Did they care about the beggar? It wasn’t a deed that impressed them at all. They wanted the glory for what they were doing. Jesus said, “But I say to you.” No, I’m reading the wrong one. Verse 3 rather, “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” You know why it says left hand and right hand? Left is a symbol of the carnal nature. It represents disfavor. Right is the symbol of the spiritual, the favor of God. “Do not let your lower nature take advantage of what your higher nature has done.” You might, for the right reason, do a good deed. As soon as you do that good deed, even though you’ve done it for the right reason, the wrong side of you is going to want to capitalize on that and say, “Now make sure and tell somebody. Make sure and get the major amount of mileage out of that good deed as you can.” Kind of like the old Scotsman who, he was a little bit thrifty and when the plate was going by in church one day he pulled out a coin and tossed it in. After he tossed it in he realized it was a quarter and he meant to toss in a penny. And the deacons kept moving. He said, “Wait a second. I meant to toss in a penny. Let me have that back.” And the deacon said, “No.” He said, “But I meant to toss in a penny.” He said, “You tossed in a quarter.” The Scotsman realizing he’d lost the battle said, “Oh well, I’ll get credit for it in heaven.” Deacon said, “Nope, nope. You’re going to get credit for a penny. Because that’s what you meant to toss in.” The Lord looks on the heart, right? And he goes on to say, “That your charitable deed may be in secret: and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” In other words, if you’re going to get credit do not do it yourself. Do not vie for it, strive for it. Let the Lord do it. I’ve seen this principle work so many times. When, by God’s grace, I keep my mouth shut and I don’t vie for the chief seats it never fails that God then does something on His own that surprises you. I went to this last ASI meeting in Palm Springs. And the year before I was the speaker. This year I was the nothing, I just went. I sat in my booth and shook hands. And all the other bigwigs paraded and preached. And I thought, “Boy, you know whenever there’s a crowd I like to preach.” Matter of fact, that’s the only thing I like about a crowd is when I preach to them. And you can ask Karen; I try and get as far away from crowds as I can unless I can preach to them. So I sat there and I’m going through this little thing, “Boy, if I had a crowd like this what I’d say.” And I’m thinking like that and I’m thinking, “All right Doug, cut it out. Why do you think you’ve always got to talk whenever there’s people around. Why do you think you’ve always got to be the center of attention?" I think I told you that Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter said about her father. He struggled with that. She said, “Dad always wants to be the corpse at every funeral and the bride at every wedding.” And you know that really struck me as funny because I thought, “I can relate, I’ve got that problem.” And so I’m sitting there and I’m thinking, “Just be good, be quiet.” And while I’m sitting there I’m finally finding peace and just being still and letting God be God. All of a sudden the people up front started talking about our evangelistic programs. And I thought, “Well thank you, Lord. I appreciate that.” I began to squirm a little, people turned and looked at me and I got a little credit. I felt better again. But it was God doing it. You see what I’m saying? Instead of me doing it. And I’ve discovered that he who exalts himself will be humbled. But if you humble yourself you’ll be exalted. Let God take care of those things. Whenever we strive for the highest position it backfires on us and we end up getting sunk. Speaking about backfiring, you know in Africa they have this technique for catching monkeys. They catch these monkeys and they sell them and they train them to do different things. And it’s not very nice, but this is what they do. They take these very hard gourds, they’re like a shell, they drill a little hole in the gourd and just big enough for a monkey to squeeze his hand in. They fill it with nuts and different things that monkeys like to eat. They chain the gourd to a tree or stake it to the ground and they go away for the night. They come back and two or three monkeys are there with their hands in the gourd screaming and chattering to try and get away. And all these guys have to do is come up and throw a net over them and capture them. And the thing is, they reach their hands in, they grab the nuts or whatever it is, they make a fist. The hand will go in empty, but coming out full they can’t get away. And because they won’t let go of the nuts they get caught. And so many of us have been trapped by the devil because we want the credit. You know in Southern California, I forget where this happened, but I heard it on the news and sometimes you just hear things. They had a sting operation in Southern California because they were having so much problem with this gang graffiti. You heard about that? And so they had this crew that went into a gang ridden neighborhood and they had judges that were wearing ribbons and they advertised through the community that they were going to award the best gang art, gang graffiti. They went out and they took their cameras and they told everyone where the meeting would be and when they were handing out the awards and who had the best gang graffiti. All these teenagers showed up. They said, “Here are the,” and what they did is they took the pictures of the stuff that was everywhere, the most prolific artists’ material and they took pictures of it and they said, “Now here we’ve got first place, second place and can you help us? Who gets these awards?” And then they said, “We understand,” and they named some fictitious names, “that so-and-so’s responsible for this one.” And the real artists were outraged someone else was getting credit for their gang graffiti. They said, “That’s mine! I did that!” And they had several of them come forward accepting recognition for their gang graffiti and they’d pin ribbons on them and then handcuff them and hauled them off. And then they used them to capture some of the artists. They knew human nature, that people want credit. Especially people that are so twisted they feel like they’ve got to paint on every building. Now those people really want to be noticed, right? Something about human nature. Turn with me in the book of Judges 7:2. You remember when the Lord was going to use Gideon to conquer the Midianites and He said that Gideon had a problem. You know what that problem was? Oh, no wonder that doesn’t make sense. That’s Joshua not Judges. There we go. Well I’ll start with verse 1, “Then Jerubbaal, that’s Gideon, and all the people who were with him, rose early, and encamped beside the well of Herod: so that the camp of the Midianites was on the north side by them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. And the Lord said to Gideon,” now Gideon’s got about 32,000 people. And the Midianites covered the earth like a plague, like the sand, like locust. They’re way outnumbered and then God says something like this, “The people who are with you are too many.” And Gideon goes, “Lord, did you say few, too few?” The Lord said, “No, they’re too many.” “You mean they’re too many and our army’s too few.” And God says, “No, your army is too many.” Gideon couldn’t understand that. He said, “Your people are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself.” You know what that word glory means? Credit. If I give victory to your army now with 32,000 then you’ll take the credit and say, “We were a real SWAT team. We went in there and we did our kung-fu and we defeated the enemy.” And God said, “No, I’ve got to make this so ridiculous you’ll know it wasn’t you.” “You’ve got too many. You’ll take credit for the victory.” “You’ll say, Mine own hand has saved me. Now proclaim in the hearing of the people, Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn away and go back.” And he eventually whittles the army down from 32,000 to 300 and those 300 technically did not do any fighting. They blew trumpets, they broke pitchers, they shouted. And the Midianites self-destructed. You know how many stories there are in the Bible where the Israelites, when they fought with the enemy, God did something miraculous where the Lord fought for them? And so many times in the Bible God tried to emphasize again and again, “I can give victory to the ones who know that I am the one giving the victory.” Let me say that again. The Lord emphasized through all these Bible battles, “I can give victory to the one who knows that I am the source of victory.” Now is there a battle in your life? Do you struggle with sin and temptation? Have you ever taken credit for resisting temptation? You probably have. You know there’s so much a person; can people quit smoking who don’t have the Lord? Yes, there are some people, sure. My mom and dad both quit smoking and they did it by willpower. And they took the credit. Let me tell you what they’d take the credit for. There are people out there who have managed by God’s grace, though they may not recognize it, to make changes in behavior. I think I told you; my grandfather smoked Lucky Strikes for years. And then he was in the hospital with an abdominal problem and the person in the bed next to him was smoking cigarettes through a hole in their throat. My grandfather got the victory. He quit smoking back then, he’s never smoked since. Well he didn’t quit smoking so much because of the grace of God and God’s power and his relying on Him. He quit smoking because he was afraid that would be him. So some people accomplish things sometimes and they take the credit for it.

Side two… and victory over temptation. You can’t take the credit. You’ve got to give God the glory. If He gives us the glory, and you know this illustration here in Gideon where God says, “You’ve got too many men,” have you noticed that sometimes when it comes to struggling with some besetting sin or some problem you have to reach the bottom? Did you hear me? You’ve got to reach the bottom, it looks hopeless and then the Lord flexes His muscles and sets you free. You know why God does that? Sometimes God waits until it looks like it’s hopeless. You know why He does that? He whittles us down to 300 so we’ll give Him the credit. We know it wasn’t me. I was hopeless. I was in the gutter. I couldn’t do anything to deliver myself. And when I was at the bottom God then worked a miracle and He gets the credit. He gets the glory. “Two men went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, the other was a Publican. The Pharisee stood and he prayed thus with himself, Lord I thank thee that I’m not as other men. I fast twice a week, I pay tithes of all that I have, and I’m not an extortioner like this Publican back here. Then the Publican would not so much as lift up his eyes, but he bowed his head, he beat on his breast, and he said, Lord have mercy on me a sinner. And then Jesus said, Which of these two do you think went down to his house justified?” The one who took credit for his righteousness, or the one who realized his weakness? The one who recognized how weak and helpless he was. You ever see a person praying where they smite on their breast? That’s repentance. He is forgiven. See, the Lord can release and activate His power in the life of a person who realizes how weak and helpless they are, who knows who should really get the credit. Luke 22:24-26, “Now there was also a dispute among the disciples, which of them should be considered the greatest.” Is this a new problem, a new dynamic of people wanting to know who is better than the other? Who gets the credit? “And Jesus said, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those who exercise authority of them are called benefactors. But not so among you: on the contrary, he who is great among you, let him be as the younger; he who governs, as he who serves.” Christian principle that the Lord wants us to emulate is one of humility not striving for the attention, not clamoring for the credit. The disciples were fighting among themselves which of them was the greatest. Does that happen in churches? It happened in Christ’s church, didn’t it? You know when the Lord poured out the Holy Spirit? When they were ready to let God have the glory. After they prayed together and humbled themselves there in the upper room for 10 days, they put aside their differences; they deferred credit and greatness to one another. Then the Lord was able to pour out the Spirit. They were not so full of themselves. They weren’t wanting their names in a marquee. You know Jesus set a good example. He would heal a person who was falling apart with leprosy and then He’d say, “Don’t tell anybody.” He’d raise someone from the dead and say, “Shh.” Now if it were me, you know I’ve often thought before, I still believe in miracles, don’t you? I mean I think that God can raise the dead and heal lepers and do all kinds of wonderful miracles. And I’ve thought, “Lord, how will I ever know if you want me to try this?” And I think the Lord said, “Doug, when you get to the place where you’re not going to call a press conference then maybe I could use you to do something like that.” But I look at Christ, you know when He did this and I’d get on the phone and call the newspapers and say, “Hey, get the photographs. You don’t want to miss this!” Because I’d probably want to rob credit that belongs to God. There’s no limit to what can happen in an organization when people are creative and working together and they’re not striving for credit. You know in the world that’s a big problem. Everybody wants to know who has credit for this idea, this program. So they get the promotion, they get the bonus. In the church the Lord is saying there’s no limit to what I could do through you if you know who gets the credit. All the glory belongs to God. I heard, this man was 99 years old and he was being interviewed and they said, he was in robust health and they said, “To what do you credit your long life and your vitality?” And he said, “I’m not sure right now. My lawyer’s negotiating with two cereal companies. To see who we’re going to credit with my long life. Whichever one gives us the greatest financial settlement, that’s who gets the credit.” I’d like to read something to you. Luke 7:36, here’s a story that summarizes where we’re going. Ooo, I love to hear those pages turn. You remember when Mary went to the feast and she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with the hair of her head and she kissed his feet, anointed His head with oil? And Simon saw this and he thought this woman, verse 39, Luke 7, “He said, This man, if he were a prophet, he’d know who and what manner of woman this is who’s touching him: for she’s a sinner.” And of course you want to ask yourself well, how did Simon know this so well? “And Jesus answered and said to him,” He knew what he was thinking, “Simon, I’ve got something to say to you. And he said, Teacher, say on. And Jesus said, There was a certain creditor,” you notice that word, “who had two debtors: one owed five hundred denari, the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them do you thing will love him more? Simon answered and said, I suppose the one whom he forgave more. And he said to him, You’ve rightly judged. Then he turned to the woman, and he said to Simon, Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet: but she’s washed my feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave me no kiss: but this woman has not ceased to kiss my feet since the time I came in.” You know I don’t like to miss the chance to remind you that the Bible records two people kissing Jesus. Judas kissed His face and betrayed Him. Mary kissed His feet and served Him. She started at the bottom. Judas tried to start at the top. “You did not anoint my head with oil: but this woman has anointed my feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Very important principle. All right, let me see, I want to do a survey. Let’s grade sin on a scale of 1 to 10, OK? One being the minimal sinners, you’ve been in the church all your life and you’ve not, you know, committed any felonies. So you’re the minimal sinners. And then of course we’ve got the people who are like serial killers, that would be your 10, right? OK. How many number 10 sinners do we have in here? Boy, I had no idea. I’m a number 10. Paul said he was a chief; he did actually participate in the murder of Stephen. Paul said, “I am the chief of sinners.” How do you gauge yourself as a sinner? Jesus isn’t saying that in order to really appreciate Him and serve Him well and love and adore Him you’ve got to be a really bad sinner then repent. Because everybody’s a bad sinner. What He’s saying is your concept of how much you’ve been forgiven from the Creditor that’s how you’ll love and serve. Some of us take credit for our own forgiveness because we think we’ve overcome in our own strength. But to the same extent you realize that, “I am a big sinner and He has poured out a great deal of forgiveness on me,” to that extent you will love and appreciate, adore and serve Him. But those of us who think that we’ve done any part of it ourselves, when you steal the credit that belongs to God he loves little. Did you get that? When we start taking the credit that belongs to God those people love the least. So who gets the credit? The Bible says in Isaiah 53, “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities.” He took credit for our sin that we might get credit for His righteousness. So what do we have to glory about? Everything, we deserve death. We’re alive. Why? Because God had mercy on us. We don’t deserve anything. “Every good and perfect gift comes from Him.” Christ was treated as we deserve that He might be treated; No, Christ was treated as we deserve that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins in which He had no share that we might be justified in His righteousness in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours that we might live the life that was His. With His stripes we are healed. That’s Desire of Ages, Page 25. He gave us credit for His goodness and He took our badness. So what do we have to brag about? That doesn’t make any sense. “For by grace you have been saved,” Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it’s a gift of God: not of works, lest any man should,” take credit, “should boast.” “I have saved myself.” To the same extent we realize how helpless we are and that we are doomed under a death decree without the mercy and grace and blood of God without His blood and without His stripes our case is hopeless. And it’s, you know it’s very liberating. There’s a great freedom and peace that comes when you say, “I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. I don’t need to get credit. I don’t need to get glory. Let Him get the glory.” And you know you can save yourself a lot of misery when you have that kind of attitude. Revelation 5:12-13, what did the redeemed declare? Very much like the song of Moses when they crossed the Red Sea, giving glory to God for saving these nation of slaves that could do nothing to save themselves. What do the redeemed declare? Revelation 5:12-13, “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which was in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, be to him who sits on the throne,” the Father, “and the Lamb for ever and ever.” Those in heaven give the credit to God. If you want to be in that number we need to learn to give Him the credit now for our salvation. We need to give Him credit for taking our bad credits and for giving us His good credit. For changing places with us. If this morning you’d like to say, “Lord, I’m willing to learn how to relinquish that credit and give it where it belongs, to you,” reach for your hymnal, turn to 341, To God be the Glory. And John, I know you’re gifted. Don’t mean to give you credit, but drop that a key. If you can drop, transpose that down just a little bit so Pastor Doug can sing along. Let’s stand together as we sing and give God glory for all of His blessings. Amen?

Verse one

There are no little sinners in this building. Some of you when I asked that question earlier you might have thought, “Well, I’m not a one, but I’m probably a three.” No threes here. All the sinners here deserve death. He who has offended in one point’s guilty of all. Amen? And we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Christ would have had to come and die and suffer just like He did for any one of you. Amen? No matter how miniscule you may think your sins are. We are all big sinners. And he who is forgiven much loves much and when we give God credit for suffering for our sins and we realize how big a sinner we really are we will love much, we’ll serve much, we’ll adore Him more. How many big sinners do we have here today? How many believe we have a big Savior? Then let’s give Him the glory for our victory. Amen? As we sing verse two.

Verse two.

Before we sing the last verse I’m going to invite you to come to the Father through Jesus His Son and give Him the glory for the great things He’s done. You know the great thing He did? He gave you credit for His righteousness and He took your bad debts. You ever co-signed for somebody and then have them default? I did. And I got credit for their debt. Jesus willingly moved in knowing that we were all bankrupt and He took our penalty of death. Because He loved us He took our place. Some of us maybe have been trying to share the credit with Jesus for our accomplishments. Whether they’re spiritual, intellectual, temporal, but everything you are and everything you have God deserves the credit and the glory. It’s by His wisdom; by His providence He’s allowed you to enjoy any of the gifts or blessings you have. Have you been robbing God? I’m not just talking about tithes and offerings. Some of you need to think about that, but have you been robbing God of the credit that belongs to Him? Have you been taking credit maybe for some of your victories over sin, or apparent victories? As we sing the last verse some of you maybe have not even made a decision yet to accept Jesus’ transaction of giving you His righteousness and taking your sin. It comes from understanding that He gets the glory for your salvation. As we sing the last verse if you’d like to come to the Father through Jesus the Son we invite you to come to the front. We’d like to have special prayer for you. Some maybe have been robbing God of His glory. Come now and let’s give Him the glory.

Verse three.

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