Greg Laurie — The Power of One!
It was 1994. I just signed a book with a major Christian publisher. This was a first for me and I suddenly found myself surrounded by some very well-known authors and speakers who had been writing for quite a long time. So this publishing company wanted to do a little bus tour. Actually it was more like a metaphorical bus tour because we only had one stop. They thought that would be kind of a clever thing. We're all in a bus together and so we all boarded the bus. Me and the other well-known Christian authors. And an older African-American woman was boarding the bus and she looked familiar to me and I asked someone who is that lady and they said that is Rosa Parks.
Well Rosa had written a book with all of us as well. I said wait. Rosa Parks? You mean Rosa Parks. The civil rights legend? Yeah. I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to talk to the stupid preachers. I wanted to talk to Rosa Parks. And so here's the irony. I'm talking to Rosa Parks on a bus. And if you know your history of course she distinguished herself. It was in 1955 when the south was segregated. Black people were forced to use separate drinking fountains and separate restrooms. They would have the sign colored over them. Horrible time in the history of our country. And they were expected to sit in the back of the bus.
Well Rosa Parks courageously refused to sit at the back of the bus and she took a rightful place in the front of the bus and she made history. She was later called the first lady of civil rights and she was also awarded the congressional gold medal, by the way, the highest honor given to a civilian. So here I am with Rosa Parks on a bus. We weren't in the back. We're in the middle actually. But I had to hear the story. And she was very gracious and took the time to talk with me. What I was not aware of was her very strong faith in Christ. And in fact, in one of her books that she wrote called quiet strength she wrote these words. Every day before supper before we went to services "On Sundays my grandmother would read the Bible to me. My grandfather would pray. We even had devotions before going to pick cotton in the fields". She says, "Prayer and the Bible became a part of my everyday thoughts and beliefs. I learned to put my trust in God and seek him as my strength".
So that's what gave Rosa the courage to make a stand. You know it's been said character is not made in crISIS, it is revealed. I thanked her for the stand she took. I wish I got a photo. I have one in my mind. She has since gone on to be with the Lord. But it just made me stop and think about the power of one. How one person can make a difference? There's a song from years ago. The lyrics are one is the loneliest number that you will ever know. That all depends because one with God is a majority. One Christian making a stand in a given situation can change everything around them. I once heard it said I am only one but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do by the grace of God I will do.
Listen to this. One godly man or woman in the darkest situation can make a dramatic difference. Jesus said, you are the salt of the earth. One person can make all of the difference out there. Here's the thing. I don't know where you are right now, but maybe you're in a place you don't necessarily want to be. You don't know why you are in the setting that you're in right now. Why did I end up in this neighborhood with that neighbor? Why did I end up in this classroom with that teacher? Why did I end up in this workplace with this boss or this person that works next to me? Why did end up where I am? I wish I wasn't in this place. Did it ever occur to you that God put you right where you are for a reason?
A beautiful young woman found herself as the queen of Persia at a strategic time in the history of the Jewish people because the plot was hatched for them all to be exterminated and she was oblivious to this and her uncle Mordecai said the queen Esther who knows that God has not placed you where you are for such a time as this. And I suggest the same is true of you and the same is true of me. We want to go out there and make our stand. And trying to get out of where we are to borrow a 60's saying bloom where you are planted. Except that I'm here because God has put me here and I'm going to do the best job that I can to shine my light for Jesus Christ.
How many of you have heard of Billy Graham? Raise your hand. Most of you. How many of you have heard of bill bright? Not as many. He founded campus crusade for Christ. I had the privilege of getting to know Bill Bright and of course Billy's Graham as well. And so here's another name. How many of you have heard of Henrietta Mears? Raise your hand. Almost no one. Okay. Who was Henrietta Mears? Okay she's an interesting lady. She felt called by the Lord to teach a Sunday school class at the first presbyterian church in Hollywood in 1928. Under her direction, her class grew from 400 to 4,000. That's a big Sunday school class. Everybody wanted to hear her speak. She ended up founding Gospel light publishing and the forest home conference center. What's interesting about the impact of Henrietta Mears is over 400 young people entered full-time Christian service as a result of the impact of her life including bill bright and Billy Graham. Maybe you're not a Billy Graham but you could be a Henrietta Mears. A little light goes a long way. One life can make a difference.
I want to look now at the power of one. One-man who impacted millions of people. One man who through his godly life of integrity kept 2 1/2 million from turning to idolatry. I'm talking about Moses the man of God. That's how he was described. Moses, the man of God. May that be said of us. Not just by casual acquaintances, but by our family and close friends. Those who know us well. If someone who meets you once and says they are a man of God. That's one thing. But if your wife says you are a man of God man you're doing well. If your kids say you are a man or woman of God that is significant. If people that know you well and spend time with you say it that is the highest compliment that can be paid. Moses, the man of God. He was a godly man of personal integrity. He kept over 2 million people from idolatry by living a godly life.
Let me ask you this. Do you have personal integrity? Do you have character? I didn't ask you if you are a character. I ask if you have character. D. L. Moody, the great evangelist defined character as what you are in the dark. I actually came across an interesting article in Forbes Magazine, which is really oriented toward those in business. And the headline was success will come and go but integrity is forever. I thought that that was a good opening statement so I read this article. And it said, among other things, integrity means doing the right thing at all times under all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It goes on to say, building integrity takes years, but it only takes a second to lose. How true. Building integrity takes years, but losing it can take only seconds.
Billionaire Warren Buffett when he is looking for people to hire looks for three qualities: Number one. Integrity. Number two. Intelligence. And third energy. He says, if they don't have the first one the other two will kill you. I mean you can have energy. You can have intelligence, but if you don't have integrity, you don't have really much at all. Moses had integrity. He was Moses, the man of God. When God came to Moses and said I want you to go to the Pharaoh and demand the release of my people. Moses was like no way Lord. I'm not a good speaker. I have a speech impediment. I don't want to do this Lord. I tell you what, I'll make you a deal Moses said to God. Let me bring Aaron with me. He is smooth. He is articulate. He has the gift of gab. He can do all the talking.
The Lord said all right. So he agreed, but this was not God's real plan. And now when Aaron is left charge he was like the worst babysitter ever. So here is Aaron left in charge of the Israelites. Okay Aaron look. God's calling me up to mount Sinai up yonder there. I am going to go there and received the commandments. Can you take care of things? No problem Moses. I got it covered. And so while he's gone the people come to Aaron and say hey you know we need something we can worship. And Aaron says bring me all of your gold. Bring me all of your bling. Okay. So he takes all of the gold and melts it. He makes it in the shape of a calf and says this is your God that brought you out Egypt.
Now meanwhile here is Moses up on the mountain and he is getting ready to return and this is what he sees. Exodus 32:21. Moses comes down and demands what did these people do to make you bring such terrible sin upon them. Hey, don't be so upset Aaron says. You know how evil these people are. They said make us God who will lead us. We don't know what happened to this fellow Moses who brought us from the land of Egypt. So I said whoever has gold Jewelry take it off and they brought it to me and I threw it into the fire out came this calf. Yeah. That's exactly how it happened. What a lie. He was the one that says you bring your gold. He was the one that melted it. He was the one that made it in the shape of a calf. And he was the one that said, here is your God Israel worship it.
You say I don't understand why are they worshipping a golden calf? Because they came from Egypt and Egypt was like idol central. So they had all these images that they worshiped and they were used of this sort of thing. And so they reverted back to this. Really. Aaron also shows the power of one. But he shows the power of a bad example. See one man living a godly life had a great influence. One man living a compromised life had a horrible influence. First he lies. He says well we threw it into the fire and out came this calf. What? Does he think Moses of the complete idiot? That's not even a good excuse. It was George Washington. He said, "It's better to offer no excuse, than a bad one".
Aaron initiated it. He was responsible and that's the second thing. He didn't take responsibility for his actions. It was his watch and he helped the people with this idolatry. He should've stopped them cold and refused. And to make matters worse, he wrapped it in religious jargon to do away with the guilt. Look at verse five of Exodus 32. He made a proclamation and said tomorrow is a feast to the Lord. Wait a second. A feast to the Lord. You are going to worship an idol and you are calling it a feast to the Lord. And then we read in verse 6 they rose early and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. They sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. This still happens. We will do our little token spiritual thing. I'm amazed. People go our meal is here. We better say grace. Some people freak out if you forget grace. You didn't say grace. Oh sorry. Let's pray. Thank you Lord. I mean, I encourage you to say grace. I encourage you to give thanks for your meal. But it not the end the of the world if you do at the end of the meal.
In fact maybe you should wait till the end of the meal to see if it's worth thanking God for. I am joking. I have had some burnt offerings come my way. I am joking. It's good to give thanks before. You can give thanks during. You can give thanks after. You know chill. Okay relax. Just give thanks. That's the main thing. People will fixate on something like that. Then they will go commit gross sin. I am going to take this girl out and have a meal. Let's pray. Lord bless the food. But wait. What's happening the rest of the night? See if your plans for the night is to go get drunk and maybe to have sex God doesn't want to hear your grace. God wants you to repent. You see my point. Oh it is a burnt offering to the Lord. The Lord is saying I'm not here in the burnt offering. All I'm seeing is you guys worshipping a golden calf.
There is fascinating passage over in Amos 5:23 were God says take away from me your noisy songs and your stringed instruments. I don't want to hear them anymore. Did you know there can come a point where you are singing praises to the Lord and God would say stop already. I don't want to hear it. But I'm singing so beautifully. I don't care because your lifestyle is contradicting what you're singing and what you're doing is offensive to me you see. It offends me. God is actually saying. So that's what's happening here. There are worshipping a golden calf. But we offered a burnt offering. God is saying I don't want your burnt offering. I actually don't want you to worship false Gods. I want you love me with all of your hearts.
You see what a contrast Moses and Aaron are. Moses sets an example that the people can follow. Aaron sets a bad example. Moses is known for his decisiveness, conviction, and doing what is right. Aaron is known for his indecisiveness, his weak will and wanting to fit in. You see, he didn't want to offend anyone. Sometimes we're afraid to make a stand because we don't want to offend. Well you know I am not going stand up for that. You just kind of go along with the program. Don't do that. Make a stand. The power of one, Rosa Parks. Henrietta Mears. Billy Graham. Moses. Make a stand. Do what is right not what is easy. Sometimes when you do what is right it's very hard. It's been said, "A good leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go but when they get there they are glad they went".
A leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go when they get there they are glad they went. A leader does what is right. A man or a woman of integrity does the right thing if someone is watching or not. Again to quote that statement. I'm only one but I am one. I cannot do everything but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.
How many of you have heard of Sammy Mason? Raise your hands. Almost no one. Well okay Sammy Mason was a stunt pilot and a committed follower of Jesus Christ and he would teach people to fly out of the Santa Paula airport. One day a man came to him and said he wanted to learn to fly. This man had bought an antique stearman biplane. And it turns out that this man's name was Steve McQueen. And at that point Steve McQueen was the number one movie star in the world. And he had conquered auto racing and motocross and now he wanted to learn how to fly. And it also turns out that Steve had been searching for his entire life for the meaning and purpose of life.
He was raised by an alcoholic mother that had little to no time for him. He also never knew his biological father. He spent time at the chino boys republic because his parents or especially his mother wanted nothing to do with him. He lived a crazy life. He ascended to the top of the hill in the world of Hollywood and was making millions of dollars and had everything a person could want. There was a big hole in his heart. And it just came at the time when he wanted to learn how to fly. So he spent hours in the cockpit with Sammy Mason. Sammy Mason was a man's man. A salt of the earth guy. And Steve admired him. And Steve asked Sammy what is your secret. You are different. You seem to get a peace. And Sammy told Steve about his faith in Jesus Christ. And Sammy's faith was so strong.
Steve actually asked can I go to church with you. I found that interesting. Not that Sammy invited him. Steve said can I go to church with you. Sammy agreed. They ended up at the Ventura missionary church in Ventura, California. And the pastor there Leonard Dewitt who I have met and interviewed spoke and preached the Gospel. And at the end of the services he would invite people to Christ just like we do. So one day after a few weeks had passed he heard McQueen was coming to his church. He just told the people leave him alone. Don't bother him. Don't ask for autographs. McQueen came and said I want to talk with you and he had an extended conversation which resulted in Steve McQueen committing his life to Jesus Christ.
Okay. So the power of one. So you have heard of Steve McQueen. You probably haven't heard of Sammy Mason. You have heard of Billy Graham. You haven't heard of Henrietta Mears. It doesn't matter. We all have a part to play. We all have something to do. We all have a sphere of influence. We want to do what we can do while we can do it because you may be the only Christian that some people will ever know. You're the only one. And you are a representative of Christ. It's been said Christians are walking epistles written by God, and read by men. You may be the only Bible some people ever read. Look. There is nothing this world offers that can fill a hole in your heart and your life that was designed to be filled by God and God alone. You are sort of pre-wired this way and this is why everything we're looking for is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. And Jesus came to this earth. He died on the cross for our sin. He rose again from the dead. Now he stands at the door of each of our lives and knocks and says if will hear his voice and open the door he'll come in.
You know, maybe you're here because you came with your wife or your husband or your parents or somebody else. You don't even really want to be here that much, but you're here. And here's what I'm saying. Are you ready to really come into a relationship with God? You can't live off someone else's relationship with God. God has no grandchildren. Only sons and daughters. And the way you become a child of God is by believing. The Bible says, for as many as received him, he gave them the power to become sons of God. You have to receive him. You have to ask him to come into your life. You need your own relationship with God. And you can have it today.