Wild Oats

Scripture: Galatians 6:7, 2 Timothy 4:10, Acts 13:1
The most glorious days of history are before us. Jesus Christ will soon return. There is a great work to be done by strong young leaders. Will the youth of today be prepared to step into place of spiritual responsibility? This broadcast discusses the principle of sowing and reaping.
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We live in an age which is violently different from any other which man has ever known before. It is an age of change, a drastic departure from the rules and conventions of the past. Every phase of our twentieth-century society is in a state of surging ferment. I do not suppose the world has ever known a time when so much depended upon the young people of one generation. In every part of the earth today men's hopes seem to center upon what can be accomplished by the next set of leaders. In government, politics has become exceedingly corrupt. Men are very scarce who will stand for truth and justice under all circumstances. Nations are facing a crisis because of war and destruction threatening on numerous borders of the world. New leaders, young leaders, are expected to arise and lead out in this vast confusion.

In the church there is also a crisis of an entirely different nature. The end of all things is rapidly approaching and Christ will soon return to this earth again. There is a task which must be done that only strong young people can accomplish. What a picture we have before us. A dying world, confused, distressed, and then a church with a message to proclaim. Friends, I believe with all my heart that the most glorious days of history are just ahead of us. The most important events will soon take place before our very eyes. There is no question but that strong leaders are needed to step into the gaps to finish God's work on the earth. But the great burning question of the hour is this: Will our modern young people be prepared to step into these places of spiritual responsibility? The task requires tremendous preparation. No one can throw away those precious formative years of childhood and youth and then expect to be ready for great leadership roles.

Here's a text in Galatians 6:7 which has a special application to this point. Listen. It is one of the truest verses in all the Bible. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Now, I find many young people today with good intentions, but they're wasting precious time and opportunity. They seem to want a place in God's work and yet they seem also to be building in the wrong direction. Too many of them move by impulse instead of principle. Decisions are made very thoughtlessly. Every day little things face these young people. Little decisions need to be made. By making proper choices in those little decisions, the character is molded and built. I think about Joseph as a perfect example of building the right habits in the right way. I've often wondered how he felt as that caravan led him across the sand dunes down toward Egypt. Perhaps he could even look back and see the top of his father's tent in the distance. He must have realized that this was the turning point in his life. He had to make a decision right then to determine his future. He was all alone now. He would have nobody to consult about the choices of life. He could either decide to live for self, sow his wild oats, and have a good time as it was possible to do, or he could make a decision to serve God regardless of circumstances.

I'm thankful that Joseph drew a line that day right through the middle of his life and decided to make God his refuge and helper. He decided to obey the Lord in spite of all possible circumstances that could arise. And if you'll follow Joseph's life, my friends, you'll find that he was the same in Potiphar's house, in prison, even as the Prime Minister on the throne. It made no difference to him what circumstances built up around his life, he had determined to be faithful to his God. Public opinion made no difference at all to him. In that way, he was also a type of Jesus who came later as a babe in Bethlehem. You know, Jesus was never affected by what men said or did. Public opinion is usually one of the strongest influences upon any person's life. Individuals are afraid to be different. Young people generally do things because everybody else is doing them. But what an example we have in Joseph who stood firmly for the right in the face of tremendous opposition. He had a backbone which seemed to be fused with steel. What a contrast with Pilate, the Roman Governor, who made his greatest mistake for fear of public opinion. In Mark 15:15 you'll read that Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified because he wanted to please the people. Listen to the text. "And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified."

Now most of us would certainly call Pilate a spineless individual and yet Pilate is no worse than modern Christians who will forsake the truth for fear of being different. Those who take part in wrongdoing today because of what others might think or say, are simply participating in the same sin which nailed Jesus to the cross. Every time we sin because of public opinion we are actually crucifying the Son of God afresh.

Now I realize that it is not always easy to be different from the crowd. I know also that there's plenty of wild oat sowing among the young people of this day. The Bible has a very interesting story about a youth who is not well known at all by name to us. This boy faced one of the greatest decisions that anybody could face. Thousands of others have had to choose as he did, but this is an outstanding account of a heroic boy. His name is found in Acts 13:1 and this is the only time, by the way, in all the Bible that we find this name recorded. "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch." Now friends, here is the name of the boy. His name is Manaen. Notice how he was brought up with Herod the King. The margin of your Bible will give this account. "Herod's foster brother." Now we know, of course, who Herod was. He was the cruel Roman tyrant who persecuted God's people and had John put to death.

If you want to know what conditions prevailed in this wicked oriental environment just read Mark 6:19, 20. In fact, let's begin reading here with verse 17. "For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly." Now there you have the picture of John being in prison. Herod respected the Baptist a great deal because he recognized what a good and holy man he was, but Herodias hated John and wanted to kill him. Finally, according to the Bible records, she found an opportunity when her daughter, Salomi, danced before the King. Herod promised the girl anything she would ask for, and the mother instructed the girl to ask for John the Baptist's head.

It was under such influences as these that Manaen grew up in the Roman court. It is also very probably true that Manaen stood by and heard those conversations between Herod and John. The Bible says that the King heard him gladly. There must have been quite a bit of dialogue and communication between the men as John came into the throne room and talked to the King and the others gathered there. And this young fellow, Manaen, who stood by, the foster brother of the King, undoubtedly listened in to those discussions about Christianity.

Now we do not know what happened or when but later on this same young fellow, Manaen, decided to quit the court and become a Christian. He actually joined the little church at Antioch. Oh friends, I would love to know the details of that decision and how it was made, wouldn't you? I am sure of one thing, it was no easy change for Manaen to make. He had all the inducements of the palace before him. It was good living in those days. He had the opportunity of becoming a famous individual. And what an uproar it must have caused when he announced he was going to be a Christian. Perhaps a feast had been planned for that very night. All the beautiful princesses would be present for the occasion. And by the way, Manaen had probably sown plenty of his own wild oats. He had taken part in many of the riotous parties of the palace. There were also plenty of young friends around to tell him what a fool he would be to give it all up and join the obscure Christian family. Yes, it took tremendous courage for him to make that decision. If he remained in the court, he had every promise and assurance of becoming a famous person, perhaps even the next King. If he left the court and became a Christian he had no hope or promise of being remembered at all in history. But friends, even though his name is not recorded as one of the great heroes of Rome, his name has been inscribed above as one of the great Princes of Israel and an overcomer for God.

Now I would like you to contrast Manaen with another youth whose name is mentioned only once or twice in the Bible. I'm reading it now from 2 Timothy 4:10. "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica." Alright, friends, who was Demas? Who was Paul writing about? He was a young preacher who associated with Paul in his ministry and as long as things were going well, Demas was a faithful, loyal disciple. But when they came to a place of conflict and trouble, Demas forsook the imprisoned Paul and went back home. Apparently he also turned his back on the Christian life and went back into the sinful practices of the world. Paul said, "He hath forsaken me, having loved this present world."

Now think for a moment about these two young men. Manaen, brought up in a palace, brother to a King; and Demas, a young preacher, brought up no doubt in all the traditions of a religious environment. The wild, worldly youth made his decision to be a Christian. The boy who had been brought up in the faith made his decision to live for the world. We don't know anymore about their future in this world than what we have spoken today. Apparently, Manaen was one of the local elders or deacons of the small church at Antioch. The name of Demas appears no more in either sacred or secular history. But let me ask you a question today, friends. Which was the wiser of these two boys?

Do you realize that every young person must also come to that place of decision. He must sit down and decide which way to go, which side he will be on. Like Joseph, that question must be settled. Is it really worthwhile to follow the truth? There must finally be a crossroad for each individual. God calls for people to stop serving two masters. We must either go one way or the other. Oh what a tremendous thing it is to see a youth make his decision to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. How wonderful for a boy or girl to throw his strength into the service of God. It will require strong effort and decision. It may involve sacrifice and suffering. It definitely will lead you to draw a line right through the middle of your life. On that line you must stand uncompromising, unwavering; by one decision alone you can decide to live for principle instead of impulse. You need to do it today. Many of you are standing at the crossroads of life. Don't hesitate to give yourself without reservation to the cause of the Lord Jesus. n

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