2 Chronicles 19:1-4
No Regrets: Moving On
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

2 Chronicles 19:1-4 (Holman) Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned to his home in Jerusalem in peace. Then Jehu son of Hanani the seer went out to confront him and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Do you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the Lord’s wrath is on you. However, some good is found in you, for you have removed the Asherah poles from the land and have decided to seek God.” Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, and once again he went out among the people from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim and brought them back to the Lord God of their ancestors.

King Jehoshaphat of Judah did a stupid thing. He helped God’s enemy, wicked King Ahab of Israel, in a battle. Ahab was killed. As Jehoshaphat returned home, a prophet scathingly rebuked him. To the King’s credit, he did not use his royal prerogative to punish the preacher, but accepted the reprimand. As a result, he left the fiasco behind, and moved on, leaving no regrets in his rear view mirror.

The purpose of these “No Regrets” sermons has been not to crush us, but to spur us to action, to prompt us to deal with regrets, and then move on with a clear conscience. This lesson deals with three vital matters our church highly values. I want us to leave behind no regrets in all three: mentoring, missions, ministry.

One, mentoring. Second values the younger generation. We have for years been calling younger staff members. They are blessing us immeasurably. We hope we are blessing them too. We are passing the baton to them.

We often say the Christian life is not like a 100-yard dash, but more like running a marathon, because we have to stay committed to the race for the long haul. I’m learning another metaphor applicable to our life. Our race is a relay.

I remember running the 440-relay on my high school track team. I can feel the baton sliding down my left arm into my hand, switching the baton from left to right, and running with reckless abandon. Then comes a unique feature of a relay. At the peak of your run, when your adrenaline is flowing, your legs are churning, and you feel you are at your fastest peak, you have to start thinking about the next leg of the race. At a precisely timed moment, you have to yell “Go” at the top of your lungs, hit the baton against and down someone else’s left arm, and while still running begin to fade away as his hand firmly takes what was your baton.

As believers, our life-race is a relay. Moses passed the baton to Joshua; Jesus to the Twelve; Paul to Timothy. Are we investing our lives in anyone? Social networking with many is fun. I enjoy Twitter and Facebook. But nothing can replace time invested in a few. Who is going to take our place?

Earl Creps’ book, “Reverse Mentoring,” encourages preachers my age to enlist the help of ministers half our age to help us know how to engage our culture effectively. This relationship also lets us pour our lives into younger ministers.

Two years ago I visited here at church with Vern Armitage, Pastor at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty, Missouri. He had begun passing the baton to younger ministers, an idea I was having trouble with. I asked why he decided to do it. He said he knew he had to either suffer or let his church suffer.

That moment sealed the deal for me. Has letting go been tough? Yes! Was it the right thing to do? Yes! Would I like to preach to 1000 every Sunday in a contemporary service? Yes, but we made the right choice. Would I enjoy preaching to 300 college students every Wednesday? Yes! Is it best I not? Yes!

We don’t want to end our race still holding the baton, with no one to hand it to. Batons don’t make good grave ornaments. Are we replacing ourselves, making sure our shoes will be filled when we are gone? Will our absence leave in Christ’s kingdom an unfilled hole? Are we living a life that will leave a hole important enough to be filled? No regrets.

Two, mission. Has our witness stirred the baptismal waters lately? Have we fulfilled our GIC mission pledge to pray, give, and go? We don’t want to falter in our duty to unbelievers. We want to stand before God with no regrets in this enterprise, because it matters hugely to God.

We may want to withdraw from an unpleasant, sinful world, but we have to seek the lost, talk with them, and listen until we earn the right to be listened to. In the USA, unbelievers are generally receptive to discussing spiritual issues. In fact, America has become a topsy-turvy society where prechristians are often more willing to talk about spiritual things than Christians are. There are lost people in our own city more eager to hear the Gospel than we are to tell it.

The world’s interest in the spiritual has made religion a hot topic. It is in the news every day – Islamic fundamentalism, the religious right, individual beliefs of national politicians. TV networks regularly air religious programming. On two days this week, I checked Fox News headlines to test my thesis. In only two days time they had at least five religion headlines: Offender challenges church ban, One in four is Muslim, Supreme Court to hear case of cross on public land, Man walks from Texas to DC with 12-foot cross, President won’t meet with Dalai Lama.

Has a spiritual awakening taken place in the news media? No. They are reading surveys that show people are hungry for religious talk.

Folks are fascinated by, and are talking about, spirituality. Much of this talk is worthless, but the important point is, people are willing, yea almost eager, to talk about religion. Ironically, at the very time our culture is gabbing about God, conservative Christians have become eerily silent. We should be jealous for Jesus.

We alone can tell the world what they desperately need to hear, for only Christians know the truth. We need to jump into this cultural conversation and talk, talk, talk about Jesus. Let’s not miss this golden opportunity. No regrets.

Three, ministry. One remarkable Sabbath evening in Capernaum, Jesus’ hometown, He showed us what He meant by ministry (Mark 1:32-34). Jesus gave His neighbors an indescribably wonderful gift.

On the Sabbath, news of Jesus’ healing power spread like wildfire through Capernaum, but its citizens were frustrated and restrained. Healing on Sabbath was illegal. It was a day of rest, and since healing made God work, the sick that lived near Peter’s house waited. It was illegal to travel more than two-thirds of a mile on a Sabbath. Thus, the sick that lived on the outskirts of town waited.

It was unlawful to carry a load on Sabbath; people couldn’t lift a sick person on a stretcher, in their arms, or on their shoulder. Thus, caregivers sat by sick loved ones and waited, longing for sunset, which marked the end of Sabbath.

There being no clocks, to make sure no one fudged and infringed on the end of a Sabbath Day, Jewish law ruled the Sabbath was not officially over until three stars could be seen in the sky. As Saturday afternoon drew to a close, sick people and their caregivers all over Capernaum were whispering, “Do you see a star yet?” “Are there two?” “Tell me when you see a third.”

Suddenly it happened. Star three was seen, and the greatest day in Capernaum’s history began. I call it Hospital Sunday, Jesus’ gift to His hometown. A wife took her blind husband by the hand, they started walking. A father motioned to his deaf daughter, beckoning her to follow. A mother picked up her crippled son, and straining under the load, ran with all her might.

Once the third star appeared, the people’s desperation could not be restrained. An eerie impulse directed a tidal wave of sickness toward Peter’s home. On Hospital Sunday, Peter’s house became an emergency room, streets became hospital hallways, sidewalks hospital wards, and pallets hospital beds.

Jesus received them every one, healed them all, loved them all, defining by His life who our neighbor is, every living, breathing human being within the orb of our lives and influence. By following His example, we leave no regrets behind.

Jesus ministered not only to favorites or a few select, refined, saintly souls. He did good everywhere everyday to everyone. To each, He carried His own sunshine and springtime. Jesus was wonderful and the people knew it (Ivor Powell). Jesus healed and helped all. Thus, we should, too.

Directives sent down from a sequestered castle of asceticism and piety do not become us. Debates of philosophy accomplish little apart from deeds of philanthropy. As we approach a lost, dying world, we must initially come on more as secular benefactors and less as theological belligerents (David Thomas).

Christ takes on Himself obligation to help every hurt, and shares this duty with His body, the Church. Every human pain hurts Jesus, and should hurt us too.

He sends us, His followers, to engage in a battle against pain. We are to engage in a practical conflict, opposing all sufferings and maladies of humanity.

The love of God extended to every need of every individual is the most compelling assertion of our faith. Believers are given the duty of proving with their deeds that what we say about the love of God for all people truly is genuine.

God kindly lets us share in this beautiful, meaningful work. It is our God-given chance to make sure our lives count. Don’t miss the opportunity. No regrets.