GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN

BY:  ROBERT FITTS

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

TITLE

PAGE

FOREWORD

1

GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN

2

VISION, VALLEY, FULFILLMENT

3

DIGGING YOUR DITCHES

4

DON’T DOUBT in the DARK

5

MOSES TURNED ASIDE

6

KEEP on PLODDING

7

INVEST in YOUR VISION

8

FINANCED by FAITH

9

LORD of the BREAKTHROUGH

10

THE CROSS, THE CUP, THE YOKE, and THE WILL of GOD

12

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?

13

PUTTING the CROSS to WORK in YOUR LIFE

15

DARK, UGLY, STINKY THINGS

16

ASKING for ALL THESE THINGS

17

FROM GLORY to GLORY GOD is CHANGING ME

19

DAVID and JONATHAN

20

AND NOW a WORD from the LORD to YOU

21

THE BEST THING for ME is NOT ALWAYS PLEASANT

22

WHERE HE LEADS ME I WILL FOLLOW

23

A THREE STEP PRAYER for GUIDANCE

25

WHAT GOD SAYS ONCE, HE SAYS AGAIN and AGAIN

26

A DAILY PRAYER of CONFESSION

27

PRAYING ALWAYS

28

I CAN ONLY DO MY PART

30

DO NOT LAY THEM AGAIN

31

OBEYING OUT of the MUDDLE

32

DO YOU HAVE a GOAL?

33

GOING BACK to NINEVEH

34

THE END of the SACRED and the SECULAR

36

WALKING in REALITY

37

GO AHEAD…TAKE the RISK!

39

I AM NOT an EYE

40

DEEPER LEVEIS of PRAYER

41

THE DEATH of SELF

42

GETTING LOOSE from  a RELIGIOUS MIND

43

WALKING THROUGH YOUR WILDERNESS

45

THE END of the STRUGGLE

46

THE BIRTHING PROCESS

49

AFTER WORD

49

 

Some of the quotations from the Bible in this book, are synopsized to clarify their application to the context without compromising the meaning of the text.      

       

FOREWORD

 

Prayer is the fountainhead of everything else, the spring from which all else flows. Ministry and vision for new ministries are birthed in prayer if they come from God. God does not get excited about our “good ideas” unless He is the one who provoked them. God’s order is with us as it was with Israel. We must follow the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The cloud does not follow us. (Exodus 13 and 14)

 

Over the years, my first step in any project has been prayer, not only praying myself, but recruiting others to pray with me. A part of this strategy has been to keep in touch with our fellow workers who pray for us, work with us, and help support the work we are doing. Over the years I have sent out a prayer letter periodically and in that letter I have included a teaching that ministered to my life. That was when I was sending out letters by regular mail, before I learned to use electronic mail . . . e-mail. 

 

More recently, after being launched into e-mail, I have sent some of these teachings out and the response has been gratifying. Some have suggested that I compile these teachings and send them out as a book. This is the story of how this little book came to be. And so here is a compilation of those teachings that are calculated to help you climb the mountain God has given you to climb.

 

I trust you will give these truths an opportunity to work in your life and in your walk with Jesus. God bless you and encourage you as you read the following pages. If these truths bring encouragement, strength, hope, faith, light, or revelation to you, please pass them on to someone else.

 

"GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN"

 

Caleb was an old man now. Forty five years earlier he and Joshua were two of the twelve spies sent into Canaan to spy out the land. Both Joshua and Caleb had given a good report and recommended that Israel go up and take the land at once. But the other ten spies gave an evil report that struck fear into the hearts of God's people and as a result they did not have the faith to enter the land God had given them. For forty years Israel wandered about in the desert under the until that entire generation below the age of 20 died . . . all except Joshua and Caleb.

 

After Moses left the scene and Joshua had led Israel into Canaan, where for five years they won victory after victory, one day Caleb approached Joshua and said, "You know what the Lord said to Moses concerning me at Kedesh-Barnea after we had spied out the land. And now God has kept me alive these forty-five years, and Moses gave me a word at that time that God would surely give me the land upon which my feet had trod. Therefore give me this mountain. For the Lord will surely strengthen me to drive out the inhabitants thereof." (Joshua 14)

 

There are seven things about this story that stood out to me and impacted my life:

 

First, here was a man of God who at the age of 85 was holding on to a word he had received 45 years earlier. Has God spoken a word to you that will require the same tenacity and courage to bring it to pass, even though the years have passed over you and the word you received seems to have died out there on the desert somewhere?

 

Second, the mountain Caleb had in his heart to possess was something his feet had already walked upon, the word of the Lord had only confirmed what was already in his heart concerning that mountain when Moses said, "Surely the land whereon your feet have trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever because you have wholly followed the Lord my God." The faith to possess that mountain came to Caleb by seeing and touching the land and by hearing the word of the Lord concerning what he had seen and touched. True faith is not arbitrarily choosing a goal and then trying to speak it into being. It is only as we see it in the spirit and know that it is the will of God that we will have the faith to receive it, or to declare it, or to achieve it, or to just wait for it in quietness and in confidence.

 

Third, this mountain was given to Caleb because of one single act of obedience. He had fully obeyed God in one particular instance and it secured to him a reward that would not be denied to him though it did not come to him for forty-five long years. Many of the blessings that we now enjoy are the rewards of certain acts of obedience that we fulfilled in the past. A very big door will swing on very small hinges. The seemingly insignificant little acts of obedience we do from day to day may be the hinges that govern the outcome of important and weighty matters in the future. This was the case when Abraham offered Isaac on the altar. Once that was done it never had to be done again. Abraham passed the test and the blessing was pronounced that would never be nullified. You may be right on the verge of entering into blessings that are rewards for some act of obedience completed years ago, or you may be in a test today that will yield benefits later if you will obey now.

 

Fourth, Caleb realized that he would have a part in bringing the promise to fulfillment. He had to go out and take the land that had been promised him. He went, he warred and he won! It is a rare thing for God to bring to us a ready-made victory that does not require of us some act of faith. Most of the time we find ourselves in the boat with a word from the Lord like Peter heard that stormy night . . . "Come." Jesus bid him step out of the boat and walk on the water with Him. Peter had to get down out of the boat and walk on the water by his own faith. It was not Jesus' faith, otherwise Peter would not have sunk into the sea.

 

Has the Lord called on you to leave the comfort zone of your boat and do something that will require miracles to accomplish? If he says, "Come!" it is safe to get out of the boat. Even if you do sink, he is there to rescue you and get you back to safety. The only way you will ever walk on water is to take the risk of getting wet. Peter did get wet, but he also walked on water. 

 

Fifth, Caleb did not allow his age to become a negative factor. "Lo, I am this day 85 years old, but I am as strong this day as I was the day Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now . . . " Many spiritual giants in the Body of Christ down through the years did not get started in their life's calling until they were well past their youth. Smith Wigglesworth started his worldwide miracle healing ministry at age 55. Overholtser was past 50 when he started Child Evangelism Fellowship. Moses was 80 when he received the call to go to Egypt. Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 when Isaac the son of promise, was born. 

 

God will use you without regard to your age. He is calling men and women of all ages to step out of their comfort zone and walk on water with Him to help disciple the nations. Do you hear the call?

 

Sixth, Caleb's obedience brought blessing upon his children unto many generations. None of us know how many of the good things we now enjoy are the direct result of some act of obedience on the part of our fathers or forefathers. Conversely, many of the hang ups and bondages we struggle with may be because of some act of disobedience on their part? 

 

Seventh, Caleb served with his brothers to secure the land of Canaan for the entire nation before he made mention of his own individual portion. His example speaks for itself. God wants us to concentrate on how we can be a blessing to others and not always to be thinking about our own things. As we do this, God will secure to us our mountain and fulfill our dreams, and in the process will bless our children and their children unto a thousand generations.

 

VISION, VALLEY, FULFILLMENT

 

Everything starts with vision! Somebody, somewhere saw something and pursued their vision. Now we all see it because they did not give up while in the valley phase of the process. Before anything is seen with the natural eye, it is first seen with the eye of vision. This is true in the natural realm as well as in the spirit realm. Without visionaries, we would not have electric lights, the airplane, the computer, the automobile, and every other invention of the past centuries.

 

God gives vision. Every great movement of God had its beginning in the heart of one of his children intent upon hearing from God and doing his will. It came into the heart of Moses to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage. Joseph had dreams of being used of God as a deliverer. David was anointed to be king of all Israel when he was just a shepherd boy. In his old age Abraham heard the voice of God giving promise of a son through whom a nation would come forth. 

 

In all four lives mentioned above there was a fulfillment of the vision, But . . . there was a big, long, dark, ugly valley between the vision and the fulfillment. Abraham was in the valley for 25 years before Isaac, the son of promise, arrived. David waited 13 years to see his prophecy fulfilled, Joseph walked through a 13 year valley, and Moses endured a 40 year valley on the backside of the desert. All of these men had a vision as to how God was going to use them and they kept that vision alive in their hearts through a long and painful trial of their faith.

 

Has God spoken a word of promise to you about how he wants to use you? Have the years come and gone without any sign of fulfillment? Have you been sorely tempted to give it all up as a silly, selfish dream or an "off the wall" prophecy? Don't give up too easily. You might still be in the "Valley" of preparation! It is in the valley where God forms the man and purifies the vision.

 

Between every vision and its fulfillment lies a long period of preparation, testing, molding, discipline, purifying, teaching, purging, scalding, scourging, beating, blasting, breaking, healing, peeling, adjusting, correcting, grooming, tearing, ripping, humbling, stumbling, moaning, groaning, crying, screaming, screeching, sobbing, sighing, agonizing, praying, wailing, weeping that is called . . . The Valley!

 

Are you in the valley? The duration and severity of the valley is usually an indication of the significance and importance of the job the Lord has called you to accomplish. In most cases the greater the task, the longer and more difficult the valley.

 

It is in the valley where God prepares his instrument. The vision can come in a period of a few minutes or even seconds, but the fulfillment of the vision may require years or even decades. Have you noticed something else about these four men? They were all called to be a deliver. Moses delivered Israel from slavery. Joseph delivered Israel from starvation. David delivered Israel from the heel of the enemy and into their inheritance, and Abraham was called to bring forth a nation through which the GREAT DELIVERER would come. 

 

If you have a vision that exalts self and self interest, BEWARE! While God may give a man or woman unusual favor in the eyes of people at times, they are raised up to accomplish a work of great deliverance, not necessarily to be greatly admired.

 

The Lord gave me a vision forty years ago that is just beginning to come to pass. Forty years ago in June of 2009 the Lord put in my heart a vision of disciples in every country in the world. I knew that could only be done through the principle of multiplication and I knew it would take a long time to see it come to pass, but I did not know it would be forty long years of preparation before it would begin to take on shape and form!

 

I was looking at the project, but God was looking at the instrument he had to work with to accomplish the project. I am glad he chooses the foolish things to confound the wise and the weak things to confound the mighty, and base things, and things which are despised, and things which are not to bring to naught things that are. Thank God, I qualify on all counts! My! Those words have a sweet ring to them! "foolish, weak, base, despised." I'm glad God likes to use such things. Aren't you?

 

What do you do while in the middle of the valley? 

 

Don’t doubt in the dark what God gave you in the light!

 

Keep on plodding! Keep a steady gaze on Jesus and an occasional glance at the vision. Remember that in every case cited above when these men did anything to help God create or manufacture the fulfillment of the vision it only landed them in a mess!

 

Moses tried to bring deliverance to Israel before God's timing and failed miserably. Abraham tried to speed up the process and produced an Ishmael that caused nothing but problems. David and Joseph waited on God and He brought forth the fulfillment of their vision in his own way and in his own time.

 

So just wait in faith. Obey God moment by moment and know that he is working. He is always on time. He who gave you the VISION will also bring the FULFILLMENT when he is through forming you in the VALLEY. 

 

DIGGING YOUR DITCHES

 

Have you considered the importance of digging ditches? It may someday be the most important work you will ever do! I am referring to the story in II Kings 3, of King Jehoshaphat, King Jehoram and the King of Edom who were going to war against the King of Moab. Their armies had journeyed seven days when they ran out of water. They had lost their way and there was no water for the men or for the cattle.

 

But Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there a prophet of the Lord here?’ And one answered, ‘Elisha is here.’ And Elisha said, 'Bring me a minstrel.' And it came about, when the minstrel played, the hand of the Lord came upon him. And Elisha said, 'Make this valley full of ditches. For thus says the Lord, You shall not see wind nor rain, yet this valley shall be filled with water so that you shall drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts.' And it happened in the morning about the time of the offering of the sacrifice that the country was filled with water."

 

Such a miracle of provision! But it was a co-operative miracle between God and man. God sent the water, but men dug the ditches. If they had not dug the ditches, the water would have been quickly swallowed up by the thirsty desert sand. The word of the Lord came to them through the prophet. The promise was plain, "This valley shall be filled with water." But their preparation was to dig ditches in anticipation of the fulfillment of the promise. This was their act of faith.

 

At the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus said, "Fill the water pots with water and take them to the governor of the feast." The men obeyed and filled them with water. While they carried them to the governor, the miracle occurred! The water was changed to wine! This was another example of how God works with men to bring forth miracles. They provided the water pots and the water—Jesus made the wine.

 

Brother Andrew, God's Smuggler, tells how in the early days of his walk with Jesus, he was given a word of prophecy telling him to take driver's training to learn how to drive a car. He couldn't understand why because he did not have a car nor did he have any access to a car. This was soon after the Second World War and automobiles in Holland were scarce. However, after some hesitation, he believed this was indeed a word from the Lord, so he began taking driver's training. Within a short time after having completed his training, he received as a gift a Volkswagon Sedan. This was the car he used to begin his ministry of smuggling Bibles behind the iron curtain. He was faithful to dig his ditches and God met all his expectations . . . and more!

 

He never dreamed he would ever own an automobile. Several years ago the Lord spoke to me to take a flight training course and get my private pilot's license. He assured me that this was a necessary part of my preparation for the work He had called me to do. I waited on the Lord for further instructions since I did not have an airplane or any money to take the training and flight training is expensive! After a few weeks a businessman came up to me and told me the Lord had instructed him to pay for my pilot's training. So in obedience to the Lord's clear leading, I began to study and train. In less than a year I not only had my pilot's license, I also had my own airplane to expedite the ministry of traveling and teaching. When God gives you a promise, start digging your ditches!

 

Several years ago, while living in Southern California, the Lord gave my wife and me what I call a "divine discontent” with the house we had lived in for more than fifteen years. He spoke to us that He wanted to bless us with a bigger house and a better house in a better location. He kept encouraging us to "dig our ditches." In a little more than a year, we had purchased land and built a bigger house and a better house in a better location. God had spoken, we dug our ditches, and we experienced the miracle of a new house with twice the space for our growing family.

 

Has God given you a promise? Has He planted a seed of faith in your heart? Has he given you a vision of some "impossible dream?" Perhaps you feel it is altogether too big for you ever to accomplish? But if God has planted the dream in your heart, your part is to do what you are able to do (dig the ditches) and it is His part to send the rain in the highlands which will eventually reach your desert where you have been faithfully digging your ditches and waiting for the floods to fill them up to the brim!    

 

DON’T DOUBT IN THE DARK

 

The ancient mariner used to navigate by "dead reckoning." He had none of the sophisticated electronic instruments that we have today. He would take a directional reading by sighting the sun or the stars through a navigational instrument called a "sextant." If a storm obscured the sky, he would continue to sail by that reading, no matter how long the sky was covered, until he came out into clear skies. Often the storm would be on them for many days and weeks, but they would continue to sail by the most recent sighting of the sun or stars.

 

Perhaps you are sailing now by "dead reckoning." God has given you a certain word of direction for your life, but now the storm is upon you and you are at the point of wavering. God has a word for you! Don't doubt in the dark what God gave you in the light!

 

The Englishman, William Carey, is called "the father of modern missions." He opened the door to India for the Gospel in the face of overwhelming obstacles at a time when there was little sympathy for his vision. He said, "In his later years he said, "If those who review my life have anything to say about my effectiveness as a minister of Christ, let it be said that the asset that has helped me most is the fact that I am a plodder. If I know that the project is from God, I will keep on plodding day after day until the job is done, no matter what!"

 

It was by doggedly plodding on day after day that Carey was able to translate the entire Bible into one of the Indian languages and thereby make it possible for hundreds of future translations in India and other lands. The sufferings and setbacks he endured are almost unimaginable, but he kept on plodding! The life of Carey will forever ring out the call to persevere in that which the Lord has called us to do in spite of the hardships, inconveniences, sufferings, and difficulties. When you know the will of God beyond any doubt, keep on going in spite of all that Satan can throw against you.

 

God is continually revealing His will and His direction to those who really want to do His will and walk in His ways. He has given the Bible, the church, divinely ordered circumstances and His deep inner peace to keep us from going off track. We have an obligation before God to weigh all the evidence before we come to a conclusion as to His will in any given matter. Wait on Him until all the facts are in and then make your decision in the light of all His confirmations.

 

We can always know two things about the will of God; first, it is always good for us; and, second, it is possible for us to do it by His enabling power. It was a great day in my life as a young Christian when I settled it in my mind that God would never lead me into a situation that I could not handle by His grace.

 

For a long time I wrestled inwardly as I struggled against a full surrender of my life to God. I was only seventeen, I had a girlfriend, and I was afraid that if I yielded myself completely to God he would take her away from me and send me to some dark jungle as a missionary where I would never see her or any of my friends and loved ones again.

 

When I ceased struggling and gave myself unreservedly to Him, I discovered that He had planned the most exciting and fulfilling experiences I could imagine. How I praise Him for being so patient with me!

 

Father, be relentless with me. Keep working with me to draw me into the fullness of your will for my life. You know my heart. I truly desire to do your will! I thank you for being patient with me until I see clearly what you desire for me. Don't give up on me, Jesus, until all your purposes for my life are fully accomplished.

 

MOSES TURNED ASIDE

 

"Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight-why the bush does not burn up. When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’” (Exodus 3:1-4) 

 

Sometimes God has to get our attention before he gives us a word of direction for our future. And sometimes He has to put us in a quiet place before he sets a bush on fire to draw our attention. Moses had heard the word of the Lord forty years earlier that he would be used to deliver the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, but he didn't take the time to wait on God for just how that was to be done. He assumed that all he needed was to know what to do and to immediately go about doing it to the best of his ability. It is not enough to know what God is calling me to do, I must wait on God for his timing, his method, his helpers, and his plan. “He who believes shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28:16)

Sometimes God only gives us a "one step" command, such as he gave Abraham when he told him to leave his home, his country, and his people and move to a place that he would show him . . . later. But even in that mode, we are totally dependent on God for all the future steps.

 

Has God put a word in your heart as to what he wants you to do? Then wait on him for his mighty arm to clear the way for you. When Moses heard the voice of God speaking to him from the burning bush, he was not even willing to take the first step to do what he heard God telling him to do. He had to go through a time of prayer and conversation with God about how unqualified he was to take on such a gigantic responsibility! When he was forty years old, he felt he was totally prepared and qualified. Now that he was eighty years old, he knew he did not have what it takes to do the job of bringing Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land. In his heart he knew he needed something from God he did not have before. And God met his need. He gave him a rod of authority that brought the dimension of miracles into his life.

 

Let God give you, not only the general call, but also the specifics as to how, what, when, who, and where. God will surely put the pieces all together and make it abundantly clear as you wait on him in prayer, faith, and patience. The one thing that Moses did not have when he first tried to deliver the Children of Israel out of bondage was the Rod of God. This time he waited till he was given that rod of power and authority. That rod of God for us in our time is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. “When He comes upon you, you shall receive POWER!” (Acts 1:8)

 

KEEP ON PLODDING

 

Have you felt like giving up lately? Has God given you promises that have not yet been fulfilled? Have you been wondering if you heard correctly when you stepped into your present situation? God has a word for you. Will you open your heart to receive it? Here is his NOW word to you:

 

"Have I not said unto you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God? You have obeyed my voice and have gone to your Nineveh and have set yourself to do all my will. I see and I will honor your obedience. Only be not weary in well doing for IN DUE SEASON you shall reap if you faint not.

 

I know that you have not walked a perfect walk but you are under a blood covenant and all your sins are forgiven for Jesus sake. I have given you the sure mercies of David and though visit you with the rod, yet I will not remove my mercies from you, for I correct, I rebuke, and I discipline the one in whom my soul delights. (Psalm 89 & Hebrew 12)

 

Therefore let not your heart be discouraged, but lift up the hands that hang down and give high praise to the Lord your God who has called you and anointed you to be a blessing right where you are now! Think not in your heart that your happiness and fulfillment will come to you in another time and in another place. You are at this moment in the right place to experience fullness of joy! No created thing or circumstance has power to bring you into peace and rest. I am your dwelling place and you exceeding great reward.

 

The vision I have given to you is for a time yet to come. It is growing closer. Do not lose heart. Hold fast your confession of faith without wavering for He is faithful that promised. Remember my servant Joseph who endured the trials of many years before he saw the fulfillment of his dreams, but after his faith was tried, I brought him to the place of usefulness and influence that I had promised him while still a youth. As I took pains to prepare my servant then for such a position of responsibility and fruitfulness, even so I am preparing you. Walk through the dry places with joy and rejoicing! The fires of the present trials are upon you only to purify you as a vessel unto honor, sanctified and prepared for the master’s use.

 

You have toiled excessively to make it all happen. You must relax and let me bring it all to pass. It will not come even one day before my appointed time for then it would be too early and you would not be ready. I will wait for you that I may be gracious to you in the fullness of the time. This is a time for you to rest and enjoy Me.

 

Cease from your strivings! You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. I will fight for you and you shall hold your peace. The time will come when you will rejoice in the reality of the vision that has fully come into being all around you. But Now is the time for you to rejoice in the prospect of that which is to come. Now is the time for you to shout the shout of faith . . . by FAITH!

 

I am not impressed with activity. I am looking for the broken and the contrite heart; for the tender and pliable heart that trembles at my word and quietly remains in the place of duty in the face of severe pressures. Keep on plodding! Do not change your direction and I will surely bless you and bring to pass the fullness of my purposes for your life says the Lord Almighty."

 

INVEST IN YOUR VISION

 

Has the Lord given you a vision? Is there something that he has called you to do for him that burns in your heart to be accomplished? Are you willing to invest in your vision?

 

Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With A Mission, (YWAM) tells how that, in the early days of the mission while he and his wife, Darlene, were still living on their first YWAM base in Lausanne, Switzerland, God gave a prophetic word to one of the young people in a prayer meeting one night and said that he was going to give YWAM a farm. The next day Loren was jogging past a farm where they were selling off old farm equipment. He jogged on past then suddenly stopped, went back his house and got some money then went back to the old farm equipment sale and bought a roll of bailing wire, a few tools and an old farm wagon. He knew that he had no use for them unless the Lord did give them the farm, but he believed in his heart that God had spoken and that he must put his faith into action and make some kind of investment in the vision.

 

Within a few weeks, a large farm was given to YWAM which for many years has been used in the training and sending forth of missionaries. The old farm wagon still stands in the front of a YWAM base somewhere in Switzerland as a reminder to invest in your vision. 

 

Several years ago, my wife and I began to feel that God was calling us to take the YWAM Discipleship Training School. When I inquired I found it would cost several thousand dollars for my wife and I and our two young daughters to attend these schools and my faith staggered. I simply did not have it within me to believe for that much money. I said, "Lord, if you want us to go, send in the money and we will go." I thought that was a fair, unselfish, wise, and safe prayer. In one masterful stroke I had conveniently put the entire matter in the hands of God, so I just began waiting for him to put the money in my hands so that we could go. "Lord, the ball's in your court." I thought.

 

Several months passed and nothing happened. Something was wrong and I had a feeling it wasn't God's problem, it was mine! One day the Lord said, "What are you willing to invest in this project?" Suddenly I realized that although I was willing to go, I was not willing to make any financial sacrifice to get there. I was reminded of another incident in the life of Loren Cunningham. When he was 20 years old, one night he saw on his bedroom wall, an open vision of waves of young people flooding onto the beaches of every continent. For many months he pondered the vision and prayed about it. Then one day he knew what he had to do. He sold his prize possession, his custom made car, and a few more personal things and bought a plane ticket to go around the world to find out what it was the Lord was calling him to do to help bring to pass the vision of the waves of young people. The result is history. YWAM is now one of the largest missionary forces in the world, with thousands of full time workers on every continent. One young man was willing to invest everything he had into his vision and the Lord has brought forth out of that sacrifice a harvest of blessing that has touched every country in the world for Christ.

 

I said, "Lord, I will go and take my family to YWAM, and take this training, even if I have to borrow the money." A large part of my struggle was the fact that I had been in the ministry for over 35 years and could not understand why God would send me back to basic training! I took out all the money we had in savings and borrowed the rest and off we went to YWAM in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. It has been one of the best things we have ever done together as a family!

 

God has provided all we have needed to continue in the ministry, plus he has clarified our vision for church planting and has given us many more friends to help us fulfill the vision to help make disciples in every country in the world. 

 

Do I have immediate vision . . . something God is telling me to do right now? Peter wanted to walk on the water with Jesus, but he had to make an investment. He had to get down out of the boat and be willing to get wet, if necessary, to see his vision fulfilled. Am I willing to get wet, to suffer inconvenience, to be misunderstood, to leave my job, to change locations, to be re-trained, to suffer the loneliness of being away from my family for long periods of time, to go to a strange land with a strange language, to spend all the money I have on the vision God has given me, to even lay down my life if I am called upon to do so? Unless I can say "yes" to these questions, I will not see my vision fulfilled. 

 

The will of God and my vision must be one and the same thing. I cannot construct my own vision. It must be God-given vision. God and the will of God are so much the same that it is impossible to seek God without finding the will of God, and it is impossible to run from the will of God without running from God.

 

You may say, "But I don't know what God's will for me is." According to God's word you are responsible not only to do the will of God but also to know what his will is. I can know what the will of God is for me, not only in the decisions of daily life, but I can also know what his will is for my life . . . as a whole.

 

Read Romans 12:1-2 below, and do what it says. You will discover what he wants you to do and be. That discovery is your vision. That is where God will have you to invest your time, your talent, your money, your prayers, your resources, your all. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:1-2) NIV

 

FINANCED BY FAITH

 

The call to "Go into all the world and preach this good news . . . " automatically carries with it the promise of provision. God supplied Elijah through the ravens and through a poor widow so that he was able to accomplish the will of the Father. He will take care of your needs also. What God orders, he pays for. Joy Ridderhoff, founder of Gospel Recordings said, "We do not raise funds, we lower them." She did it though Prayer, Faith, and Patience.

 

Jesus and his disciples looked to their Heavenly Father for their supply as they went about doing the work He called them to do. Think of the lives of the early apostles in this matter of financial provision, but also of the lives of men and women of God throughout the history of the church such as George Mueller, J. Hudson Taylor, William Carey, Joy Ridderhoff, Loren Cunningham, Brother Andrew, C.T. Studd, and a host of young people in YWAM who look to the Lord for their daily provision.

 

If God is calling you into this mode, you will have to walk one day at a time. You would have to see Acts 6:4 as your calling and your labor on a daily basis. You will have to "give yourself to prayer and the ministry of the word" as the apostles did on a full time basis. As you pray and minister the word, God's supernatural provision will come in. God may dry up one stream and send you to another as time goes by, but you will know that, too. He may have you "make tents" like Paul did from time to time, but that will not be on an ongoing basis, only when circumstances warrant.

 

God will surround you with friends and family who will stand with you in this ministry of the word. He will send you out to other places and touch the hearts of people to give to your support. You will see miracle after miracle of daily provision and monthly provision so that all your needs are met.

 

Paul and his team went out trusting only in God to meet all their needs: I am including some of his thoughts on faith financing from Philippians 4:10-19 "I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

In the above passage we see, Paul was looking to God to meet his needs, but we also know he worked with his hands when necessary. There were times when he had plenty and times when he was suffering need. He was instructed to live at peace in either circumstance.

 

There was only one assembly of believers who stood with him in the matter of financial support. He knew that whoever was led to help him in financial support would be storing up in God an account with Him that would ultimately overflow to meet all their financial needs. 

 

So I encourage you to get out of the boat and walk on the water with Jesus in your finances. Since you have affirmed that God has made it clear to you both that this is His will for you at this time. Remember, His name is JEHOVAH-JIREH, the Lord our provider!

 

Notice in all the passages below how God gives the admonition to give liberally and then follows it with a promise of material blessing. The true cure for poverty is generosity with expectation. It does not honor our Father if we teach people to give without expecting anything in return as if they were being selfish. Would you feel honored if you gave promises of rewards to your children and they consistently rejected such promises as if they were being told to do something shameful? Consider the following:

 

"Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." (Prov: 3:9-10) 

 

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38 (NIV)

 

"One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty." Proverbs 11:24 (NIV) HFR

 

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NIV)

 

41 I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. Mark 9:41 (NIV)

 

LORD OF THE BREAKTHROUGH

 

In the book of II Samuel chapter 5 David was anointed king over all Israel at the age of 37. When the Philistines heard that, they immediately went up to the attack. If God gives you a position of responsibility and authority you can be sure it will be challenged by the enemy! But David inquired of the Lord, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hand?" He asked. "Go up, for I will surely deliver them into your hand." was God's word to him.

 

As David and his men fought the enemy, the Lord gave them a mighty victory. David shouted, "The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like the bursting out of great waters!" So he called the name of that place BAAL-PERAZIM which means The Lord of the Breakthrough.

 

God wants to be The Lord of the Breakthrough to you. You will need a breakthrough in your health, in your finances, in your ministry, in your family, in your job, in some relationship, or in some other area of life. If God helped David to breakthrough the enemy lines to a mighty victory, he will also help you! You can count on it! 

 

God wants you to see that you are an heir of the "Sure mercies of David" mentioned in Psalm 89. That simply means that God will deal with us in mercy as he dealt with David. Someone has said that David was the only Old Testament saint who lived in the light of New Testament truth and under the covenant of grace. It is significant that in all of David’s reign, he never fled before his enemies. He never lost a battle. This is our inheritance. This is our covenant. Paul said, "Thanks be unto God who ALWAYS causes us to triumph in Christ."

 

Even as David inquired of the Lord and got an answer, you and I can feel free to ask a direct question of the Lord and wait for an answer. He will speak to us if we have the courage to ask the question and wait for the answer. When God gives you a word to "Go up" you can go with assurance that the Lord will fight for you and give you a breakthrough. The breakthrough for David did not come until he went up and entered into the battle. But even though David was fighting, it was the Lord, not David that broke through the enemy lines and gave the victory. 

 

Here are some steps that will bring forth a breakthrough in your life. If you will set yourself in the midst of the battle by stepping out to do what God is calling you to do, He will become the Lord of your breakthrough.

 

Your financial breakthrough will come as you begin to faithfully give sacrificially to the Lord. "Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall me give into your bosom." (Luke 6:38) You may not see an immediate breakthrough, but it will surely come. "Give of the first fruits of your increase, so shall your barns be filled with plenty and your presses shall burst forth with new wine." (Proverbs 3:10)

 

Your physical breakthrough will come as you do what it says in James 5:14-16. Do it and your breakthrough will burst forth. This is God's personal word to you NOW! Call and ask your spiritual leader or leaders to anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over you. Your healing will come in the name of Jesus. "The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. The Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven." (James 5:16)

 

Your breakthrough in your job will come as you begin to praise the Lord daily for the job you now have. Pray for your employers and your superiors. Bless them in the name of Jesus. For those who need a job, your breakthrough will come by looking for a job with complete confidence that you are going to find the exact job God has for you. It will come! KNOCK! ASK! SEEK! As you invest your faith by acting on your faith, you will have a better job in a short time.

 

A breakthrough will come in your ministry as you go before the Lord in fasting and prayer for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. Do not count it a light thing that you are no longer effective in ministering the life of God to others. The Lord holds us responsible for fulfilling our ministry and he has given all of us some kind of ministry outlet to the church and to the world. 

 

A breakthrough in your family will come as you take time to be together, pray together, plan together, play together, work together and read together. A strong family is no accident. It takes a lot of time and a lot of God's grace.

 

A breakthough in that broken relationship will come as you humble yourself and admit your own shortcomings and failures and ask your loved one or friend to forgive you. Do not try to change the other person. Freely forgive them even if they do not repent and ask forgiveness. Do not generalize. Be specific! Do not say, "I'm sorry." You can say something like, "I was wrong when I . . . (be very specific and clear why you are asking forgiveness) then ask the question, "Will you forgive me?"

 

 It is worth humbling yourself in order to gain your friend. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. You do not need to tell your friend that you forgive him/her. Just tell that to Jesus and be sincere. That will seal it in the spirit realm.

 

If you need a breakthrough in some other area, go before God and ask him a direct question. "Lord, where is the battle line? I will go up to the battle and trust you for a breakthrough if you show me where to go and what to do." As you pray and wait on the Lord, he will answer that sincere prayer. He will show you in his own way; in a way that you will clearly understand. The breakthrough comes as we obey the Lord and do all he tells us to do. AMEN!

 

THE CROSS, THE CUP, THE YOKE, AND THE WILL OF GOD

 

Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done." To pray for one is to pray for the other. When we pray, "Thy will be done", we are praying "Thy kingdom come." When His Kingdom comes in me, His will is done in me, for God is then at work within me to will and to do of His good pleasure. He operates on the inside of me to make me want to do what He wants me to do. There is joy, fulfillment, fruitfulness, and happiness in doing the will of God when we take our hands off our lives and put them securely in the hands of God.

 

Jesus said, "My meat (food that satisfies) is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish the work that He gave me to do." When I am doing His will, His kingdom is established within me. To seek His rule and reign in my heart, is to seek to do what He wants me to do. I cannot separate God from the will of God. If I put God on one side of the balance scales and the will of God on the other they would come to a perfect balance. They would weigh exactly the same. 

 

God will never forcefully impose His will upon me. I must submit my will to His will and then He works His will within me. I cannot seek God without seeking the will of God and I cannot run from the will of God without running from God. When I am pursuing the will of God I am pursuing God. When I embrace the will of God, I am embracing God. 

 

"When Christ came into the world he said, 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, Here I am--it is written about me in the scroll--I have come to do your will, O God.'" (Heb. 10:5-7)

 

Jesus came to do the will of God. Throughout his entire life, He never did anything outside of the will of God. In so doing He became the most powerful, dynamic, life-changing, history changing, sought after, controversial person who ever lived. On any list of the ten most influential men of all time, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, Jesus of Nazareth heads the list, even if the list is made by an unbeliever.

 

Jesus was filled with the Spirit of God and went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil. But his ministry of miracles, signs and wonders were not the most important thing about Jesus. If he had not been faithful to do the will of God at all times He would have been a failure. 

 

Can you imagine Jesus remaining in obscurity for thirty years before He went out to do the mighty things He did? He knew the importance of staying in the will of God even if it meant the years were passing and He had not yet brought redemption to the nation of Israel and to the world. Although he knew who he was and what his calling was at the age of twelve, he waited until the fullness of the time was come and then he went out from his home in Nazareth to be baptized in the Jordan and begin His public ministry.

 

There are three symbols in the new testament that speak to us of the importance of embracing the will of God. They are the CROSS, the CUP, and the YOKE.

 

The Yoke brings two oxen together so that they are both under the same load and going in the same direction, doing the same thing. Jesus said, "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy (pleasant) and my burden is light." 

 

Jesus' yoke is His will. He is really saying, "Embrace my will. Submit your will to my will. Get into the yoke with me. Go with me and do what I am doing and you will find that my yoke is pleasant and my burden is light." It is a revelation to most believers to discover that Jesus offers a light burden and an easy yoke. Most of us were taught that while it is good to be yoked with Jesus, it would be difficult, painful, and unpleasant  most of the time. It will be at times, but that is the exception and not the rule.

 

The Cup also speaks of the will of God. Jesus prayed in the garden the night before He was crucified, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will but Your will be done." The cup on that occasion was bitter indeed, but Jesus did drink it to the last drop. It was not easy, not pleasant, not desirable, but Jesus knew that doing the will of the Father, even though it was agonizingly hard to do, would be much better than taking the easy path and missing out on the will of God. He chose to die rather than to step outside the will of God.

 

The Cross also speaks of the will of God embraced and carried at all times. Jesus said, "He who wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up His cross every day and follow me." The cross is more than the instrument of death for Jesus in His atoning work on Calvary. It is also the instrument of death for every believer. To take up my cross daily is to die to my own will in everything at all times and choose the will of God, no matter how inconvenient, difficult, or painful it may be . . . even unto death.

 

The good news is that Jesus took up His cross daily also. That means that from the beginning of His life to the end, Jesus was bearing His cross. He was committed to do the will of God at all times no matter what the cost. And yet, Jesus was not suffering all the time. Most of the time he was living in relative comfort and convenience. It is the same with us. The Devil will tell you that if you surrender to do all the will of God in your life, He will send you where you do not want to go, to do things you do not want to do, and you will be miserable most of the time. That is not the case. He will also tell you that if you are not suffering you are not bearing the cross. That is not true, either. Bearing your cross is an attitude of heart that is fixed and constant. It never changes unless you consciously decide to do something you know is not the will of God, or something you consciously choose NOT to do that God is plainly telling you to do.

 

I am bearing my cross at all times when I am fully surrendered to do the will of God at all times. And I have found that most of the time I am not suffering at all. I am rejoicing in the exciting things the Lord is doing in me, around me, and through me. The will of God is good! But if His will leads me into inconvenience, suffering, privation, and pain, I am committed to that also. And in these times of suffering and pain, the Spirit of Glory and of God is resting on me for He gives us more grace when we are called upon to walk through the fire and through the flood.

 

But how can I live continually in the will of God? Is it possible? Who is living that kind of life?. I think we have a good example of how it works in the life of Paul. He was leisurely moving along in his second missionary journey, visiting the saints and preaching the Good News. He attempted to go into Asia and experienced a divine “check” in his spirit. It does not say just how it was done but we are told that they were "forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia." So, moving right along, they tried “to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them." Then they went down to Troas and there God visited Paul in a vision by night and told them right where He wanted them to go.

 

When I totally yield myself to God and trust Him with my whole life, it is safe to do the thing I want to do because it is God working in me to will and to do of His good pleasure. The Psalmist said, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." If I should miss the mark and go in the wrong direction, He will stop me and point me in the direction of His perfect will. So, let us drink from his cup, let us co-labor with Him in his yoke, and let us take up our cross daily. There is no more beautiful, exciting, fulfilling, or fruitful life than living and working in the will of God.

 

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?

 

Not long ago I got my eyes on my faith instead of on the object of my faith. In other words, I got my eyes on me instead of on Jesus. Confusion and feelings of insecurity grew within me, but I found it difficult to trace the problem back to a cause. I honestly did not know what my problem was. For several months I had been walking in the happiest and most peaceful state spiritually that I had experienced in years, then slowly it all began to ebb away.

 

"What have I done, Lord?" I cried. "Where is my sin that I may confess it and find forgiveness through the blood of Jesus?" Having a background of tons of legalism and works oriented theology, I found it easy to condemn myself with the thought that I was not doing all that I should be doing to maintain a spiritual frame of mind. This usually leads me into fasting or planning a fast to get myself back into shape again.

 

For me, when fasting is introduced onto the scene, I begin a perfect circle of agony that looks something like this: No matter what the nature or extent of the fast, I usually come short of my goal, so I find myself under more severe condemnation than I started with. This compels me to try harder until I "get the victory" and off I go again toward more fasting and more defeat and more condemnation. To compound the problem, when I start fasting I suffer the pangs of hunger and when I start eating again I suffer the pains of indigestion.

 

My battleground usually has to do with eating . . . or not eating. Yours may be something else, but the outcome will be the same if we are drawn into Satan's snare of getting our eyes off of Jesus and onto ourselves, or onto our own circumstances and situations.

 

While in the midst of this recent struggle, I went by a friend's house and just casually, out of his mouth came the light that I needed. "Bob, God spoke a clear word to me today." Jim Hood was all excited as he shared his discovery." I was praying about the upcoming healing rally at the Holiday Inn. I said, 'Lord, what am I going to tell the people that will help them to believe for their healing?' The Lord spoke to me and said, 'Just tell them to look to me and that will be enough.'"

 

When I heard that, I was reminded of what Jesus said in John 3 about how Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness and all who were dying from the fiery serpent's bite just looked at the bronze serpent that Moses had prayed to God to give him a remedy for the snakebite that was afflicting the people because of their sin and how God directed him make a bronze serpent and lift it up on a pole in the middle of the camp so that if anyone who was bitten would simply turn their eyes toward that pole they would be healed.

 

I knew the Lord had spoken to my own need. I had been trying so hard to believe and appropriate Galatians 2:20 so that Christ would live out his life through me, but somehow it just wasn't happening. But through Jim the Lord was reminding me that faith was not a matter of force but of focus. It is not the sheer force of my determination to believe the word, but rather the simple focus of my trust that would bring the miracle working grace of God into my life. In my case, it was not a physical healing that I was expecting, but the release of the life of Christ within me to enable me to live a godly life of victory over sin and to have more miracle working power in the work of the Lord.

 

"PRAISE THE LORD, JIM!" I shouted. "God just opened my eyes! He has given me through your simple and clear words just what I needed! There is nothing so simple as a look. There is no work or effort involved. We are going to be looking at something at all times anyhow. It is just a matter of which way we point our eyes. "The simplicity of faith broke upon me as it never had before.

 

I suddenly saw that it didn't necessarily require a conscious meditation on a verse of scripture or on a certain truth in order to be walking in faith. I didn't have to be audibly confessing or praying or praising or speaking in tongues or affirming my faith in any way, though all of that will at times be a release of the power of faith. All we have to do, essentially, is to look to JESUS as our life, our healer, our sanctification, our redemption, our righteousness, our Savior, our ALL IN ALL, and he counts that as sufficient faith to secure to us all that we are looking for and all that we need in every situation of life.

 

God never meant for faith to become a work, for if faith becomes a work, it is no more faith. God both justifies and sanctifies us by faith, faith in a finished work. It is not of works lest any man should boast. And that faith is a constant attitude of trust in the indwelling Christ who has come not only to give us things, but first and foremost, to communicate his life to us!

 

He does not give us pieces of himself as if he is a bag of virtues that we would like to have in our own nature. He does not give us love apart from himself. He does not give us joy apart from himself. He himself becomes unto us love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, etc. God never meant us to have a life built out of parts of Jesus that we try to build into our own lives, one at a time. God's plan for my life is: "Crucify it, it stinks!" I will not reform it, I will put it to death through the cross of Jesus. God's plan is not to prune back and reform the old man. His plan is for us to put on a new man which is created in righteousness and true holiness. That new man is Jesus! According to His word, my old man died on the cross when Jesus died. "For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form and you are complete in Him. The "old man" is dead through a spiritual circumcision performed by Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh, the whole corrupt carnal nature with its passions and lusts." (Colossians 2:9-11)

 

Have you put on Jesus? It is one thing to take Christ as your Savior. It is something else to make Jesus your life by looking to him moment by moment in faith to live out His very own life through you. 

 

There is too much of the external in our religion! We are always looking at what we are doing for God, or what we are not doing. We measure our worth before God in accordance with how well we are doing in our Bible reading, praying, witnessing, church attendance, giving, going, doing, doing, doing. But the central question is "What are you looking at?"

 

PUTTING THE CROSS TO WORK IN YOUR LIFE

 

Have you discovered that after you come to Christ, the cross of Christ still plays a major part in your life? Of course we all agree that in order to become a Christian we must come to the cross of Calvary for the pardon of our sins and entrance into life. But many believers have forgotten that there is a cross that is to be taken up daily. "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

(Lk. 9:23)

 

Paul said, "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of Christ by which I am crucified to the world and the world is crucified to me." Paul understood that the cross has a purpose in the life of the believer, for it is by the cross that we overcome the world.

 

Several years ago I began to understand the message of our co-crucifixion with Jesus and it brought real hope into my life in my struggle with besetting sins. I was led to believe that if I would embrace the message that when Christ died, I died, that this in itself would bring me into full release from the power of sin over me.

 

I was to identify with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection and if I would hold steady in my faith as to my full identification with Christ, it would liberate me from all my sins. For many years I held on to that truth as my hope for being released from the power of sin in my life. As I preached it to others, I hoped that if I preached it long enough it would eventually penetrate my own life to the depth and bring me into the victory I so desperately needed.

 

My hope for full deliverance seemed to always be over the horizon . . . somewhere out there in the future. The message was true, but somehow it was not working for me or for those to whom I was ministering. I memorized Romans chapter six both in English and in Spanish in hopes that those great liberating truths would seep down into my soul and bring me into full victory. Still the release did not come.

 

I saw the judicial aspects of the cross but I did not see the practical part. I knew that when Christ died, I died and was buried with him, arose with him, ascended with Him and am now seated with him in the throne. But, was there something more to do other than just believe it, embrace it and confess it? For the past few years as I have sought to understand this, God has shown me how the cross works for us to release us from besetting sins. Step one is to hunger and thirst for righteousness and then believe Jesus' promise to us that we shall be filled, "He who hungers and thirsts for righteousness shall be filled." (Mt. 5:6) Do you sincerely desire to live above the power of sin in your life? And, do you believe the promise of Jesus that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled? If so, you will he interested to read on.

 

Step two is to recognize that the cross that we are to take up daily will not be convenient nor will it be comfortable. It will hurt. Remember, the cross is an instrument of death. But the good news is that hanging on a cross leads toward death and when death occurs all pain ceases in that particular area of mortification. When Paul exhorts us to mortify the flesh, it is just another way of saying, "put the flesh to death" and he makes it clear that it is something we can do and we must do. It is a command!

 

Most of our problems come through deeply engrained habits that are hold-overs from our past as we lived in sin and selfishness. God has so created us that we are creatures of habit. That is good and it can also be bad? Good, if the habit is good and bad if the habit is bad. The breaking of a bad habit is very painful at first, but as the flesh is denied its indulgence over a period of time, then comes the death of that habit. There was a time when I was addicted to smoking, but as I continued to deny myself the luxury of smoking, the day came when I no longer had any craving to smoke. I died to it and it died to me. That was many years ago. I can say today that I never ever have a desire to smoke. It is totally dead in my life. I can say the same about several other things that were once besetting sins. 

 

During those years in sin I developed a language problem. I swore and cursed a lot. As I denied myself the freedom of that kind of expression, It died, too. I buried it and had a time of rejoicing. Death has brought about a complete deliverance for me in other areas but not without a co-operation on my part to mortify (put to death) that pocket of resistance and go through the pain of dying to some abnormal appetite or habit or sin that was grieving the Holy Spirit and crushing out my joy in the Lord.

 

As we use the cross as an instrument of death to every pocket of resistance in the self life, the day will come when we will see total victory in every area of our lives and we will say with Paul, "Thanks be unto God who ALWAYS causes us to triumph in Christ! I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live. Christ lives in me and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God."

 

Are you struggling with some besetting sin in your life? Have you tried and tried to overcome it without, success? Taking up your cross is not just using your will power to stop doing something you don't want to do or to start doing something that you want to do. It is taking up the cross of Jesus which is the sentence of death to the flesh. Taking up that cross means you, in the power of the Spirit of Jesus, deny your flesh what it is crying out for, especially if that thing has you bound so that you are no longer in control.

 

Step three is to take up your cross daily. It is to go through the pain of plucking out the right eye or cutting off the right hand that causes you to sin. Do not think that you can do everything that any other Christian can do. Just because God allows another one of his children to do certain things doesn't mean he will allow you to do them. And how do you know that God is not dealing with your friend to stop doing the thing he is telling you to stop doing?

 

We have seven children and for each one of them, that awesome day came when we had to wean them from the breast or the bottle. Oh, that was a bad, sad, gloomy, stormy, unhappy, agonizing, awful day! As I watched their agony, I sometimes wished I could go through the pain for them, but it doesn't work that way! Each one of them had to go through the pain. Otherwise they would not have died to the breast or the bottle. Now, all that pain is gone and not one of our children suck on a nipple, or a bottle or anything, and they do not even have the least inkling to do so. They went through the pain of dying to a deeply ingrained habit, and they are so glad they did. Now they have gone through the pain with all their little ones. All our children are now adults and we now have nineteen grandchildren, and they all know what it means to die to that nipple!

 

Whatever binds me must be put to the cross, and that will mean a time of pain and suffering that will end in my death to it and it's death to me. 0H, HAPPY DAY when every weight has been removed, the power of sin has been conquered, and we are overcomers because we have overcome by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the pain of the cross! 

 

The wind of the holiness of God is blowing through our land these days. The church in the United States has received a prophetic word that only those who "turn their faces into this wind and allow the lord to purge them from all sin will be able to stand before Him when the next wind begins to blow." That wind will bring in a time of unparalleled harvest characterized by mighty signs and wonders and miracles. Will we be ready when that wind begins to blow? We are seeing the first signs of it now and it will become much, much stronger in the days ahead. Let us cry out to God for a holy life and take up our cross and suffer whatever pain and inconvenience is necessary until we see total victory in every area of our lives. AMEN!!! 

 

DARK, UGLY, STINKY THINGS

 

Some time ago I began to hear something in my spirit; something rather startling and yet exciting! This is what I heard: "God specializes in taking dark, ugly, stinky things and transforming them into beautiful, bright, fragrant things for His glory and for our good."

 

As I thought about it, I became convinced that it was a word from the Lord to me, but also a word that God wanted me to share with others. From that time I have spoken that word out loud to myself and to others. Later on one of my morning prayer walks I asked the Lord to give me scriptural grounds for such a statement. He gave me three: 

 

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them." (Romans 8:28) NLT

 

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and the Lord used their selfish, stinking, murderous act as a means of their own salvation, for it was Joseph who was used of Go to provide food for them many years later when they and their families were starving.

 

The most heinous, dark, ugly, stinky thing mankind ever did was when we nailed the Son of God to that cross and watched him die. But God turned that foul deed into the gift of salvation for all mankind.

 

The story is told of a survivor of a shipwreck who was washed up on a small, uninhabited Island. He prayed fervently for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but all in vain.

 

He eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his meager possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. "Oh, God, how could you do this to me?" he cried. He went to sleep that night in a state of deep grief and discouragement. Early the next day he was awakened by the sounds of a ship approaching the island. As the boat from the ship touched onto the shore he ran into the surf shouting, "How did you know I was here?"

 

"We saw your smoke signal!" they answered.

 

That which now seems to be nothing but total tragedy may be the instrument in the hands of God to bring you into total victory. C. S. Lewis said, "He who has Jesus and nothing else has no more than he who has Jesus and nothing else."

 

Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during World War II, was invited to do the commencement speech at Yale University right after the war. He walked to the podium and stood looking at the vast audience for a long moment, then began his speech. The graduates and their invited guests sat waiting to savor every word of the great orator as he began to speak. Churchill boomed out the words:

 

"NEVER GIVE UP!"

(long pause)

 

"NEVER, EVER GIVE UP!"

(another long pause)

 

"NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!"

 

The people sat in total silence awaiting his next word. Churchill stood there for a long time looking out over the audience, then suddenly turned and walked back to his seat on the platform and sat down. It was the shortest commencement address in the history of the University . . . but it might be the only one that will never be forgotten.

 

ASKING FOR ALL THESE THINGS

 

I am a firm believer in asking God for things. It has been my conviction that anything that is worth having at all is worth praying for. In many of my talks on prayer I have often used the example of Hannah who asked for a son and when God heard and granted her request she called him Samuel, which means, "asked of God" or "I asked God for him. "My point was that anything that we have in our possession, we should be able to name it "Samuel." Even if we didn't ask God for it, we could have, and if we have something that we could not, in good conscience, ask God to give us, we shouldn't have it in our possession anyhow!

 

While I still believe in asking for material things, God has begun to reveal to me a higher level of prayer. Of course, we have to remember that higher levels do not make void the reality of all the other levels of prayer. Or, perhaps you may not want to call the type of prayer that I will discuss here a higher level. You may not be convinced that it is even prayer at all. The kind of prayer that I refer to is mentioned in the Lord's prayer.

 

The essence of this prayer is embodied in the words, "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." To sincerely pray these words is to put our will on the Lord's side. It is saying, "Lord, I want only what you want me to have," Jesus said, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you," Prayer is seeking. He is saying that if we only seek for one thing, we will get all the rest. But If we reach for all these things we will find ourselves in the same boat with the gentiles who made things their grand objective. 

 

"After all these things do the Gentiles seek." If I pray for one thing, all the rest will come to me if I am making His kingdom my aim and my goal. Seeking His Kingdom means seeking his will continually; making Him King in my life. One night the Lord appeared to Solomon, right after he had been appointed king of Israel and said to him, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." 

 

Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place, Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?"

 

God said to Solomon, "Since this is your heart's desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have." 

 

The essence of Solomon's prayer was, "Lord, fulfill your promises to David, my father." This is the same kind of praying or seeking as that which Jesus refers to when he said, "Seek ye first the Kingdom, and all these things shall be added." Solomon did not ask for riches, honor, long life or the death of his enemies, but God gave him all those things. Actually, Solomon received all those things because he did not ask for them! When God saw his heart's desire was not selfish, he knew then that he could trust him with all those things.

 

Are you praying for all these things rather than for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness? If we come to understand how to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness FIRST, we will also find that, according to the promise, all these things will indeed be added to us. But is it wrong to ask for specific things when our requests proceed from a heart purged of greed and self centered ambition? It isn't easy to find true Intercessors! These are believers who pray for others. They have entered a new dimension of selflessness. They, like Solomon, are more concerned for the kingdom and for the fulfilling of the promises of God than for their own personal needs.

 

Keep in mind the words of Jesus, "Your heavenly father knows, that you have need of ALL THESE THINGS." You can trust that if your quest is His kingdom and his righteousness, He will fulfill His promise concerning all these things.

 

But how do we enter into this level of prayer? There are two foundational principles of life in the Spirit that lead us into the death of the self life: total abandonment and simple trust. Abandonment is full surrender of your will to God without reserve and trust means that we are confident that what we have given to God he has received. When He takes over, he not only fills and pervades our interior life but he orders our circumstances as well. Both of these operations (surrender and trust) are God's process of the death of the self life that the new man, which has been created in righteousness and true holiness, may emerge in his fullness.

 

This full surrender to God and trust in Him makes us capable of what has been called, "The Prayer of Silence." This prayer transcends spoken words, written words, or even the process of thought. It is a heart attitude. It is the attitude of one whose constant desire is that the will of God be fulfilled in his/her life. This unspoken prayer is rising from the heart continually. "Your will be done, Lord, every moment, every hour, every day in my life!" This prayer of silence is the basis for pure and uninterrupted fellowship in the Spirit every hour of the day and night. Other prayers will burst forth from time to time during the day, but the foundation and the cornerstone of all prayer is the silent attitude of the heart, "Lord, your will be done." This is the prayer that only asks for one thing but obtains all things!

 

FROM GLORY TO GLORY HE'S CHANGING ME

 

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (II Corinthians 3:18)-NIV

 

We all want to be changed and we are all in the process of change if we belong to Jesus. This change has a specific goal . . . to be like Jesus! This is the destiny of every believer. "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." (Rom. 3:29) - NIV

 

How does this change come? I can see three ways God brings forth this change in our lives: He changes us through TRUTH, through TRIALS, and through divine TOUCH.

 

Transformed through Truth

Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) As we walk in the truth, we walk in reality and liberty. To whatever extent we are walking in error, (untruth), we are walking in unreality and bondage. The truth about how to become a Christian frees us from the bondage of sin and guilt. Receiving the truth about divine healing releases us from the bondage of sickness. The truth about generosity and sacrificial giving breaks us loose from the bandage of poverty and debt. We must remain open to the truth whether it comes to us through a holy and esteemed prophet or through the mouth of a dumb donkey! (see Judges 22)

 

Transformed through Trials

We are also changed through trials. This includes every experience of life whether good, bad, difficult, easy, pleasant, galling, smooth, rocky, sweet or bitter. Sometimes the greatest trial is to stay true to God under very pleasant circumstances. As we yield to God in surrender and trust, we can depend on Him to engineer our circumstances. He will use them all, even our mistakes and miss steps to change us into His image. "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us." (Rom. 8:18) For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him . . . (Rom. 8:32) Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." (I Pet. 4:12-13) 

 

Transformed through a Touch

The Lord can also change us through a touch of His almighty hand. I have to confess, I like this one best! It is much easier and much faster. Peter was changed instantly and dramatically through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Before that day he was so full of fear that he lied and cursed the night before Jesus was crucified when confronted by a young girl who accused him of being a disciple of Jesus. After he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit he boldly proclaimed Jesus as the Christ before the very men who had put Him to death. From that day on he was never the same. 

 

Through an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of Christians, became a Christian himself. From that time on he was never the same.

 

Consider the transforming touch in the life of Saul, the first king of Israel: "Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him, saying, 'Has not the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance?’. . . When you leave me today . . . you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person . . . '" (I Sam. 10:1-6)

 

You may be saying, "But I have already been saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit. Is there another touch that will change me more into the likeness of Jesus?"

 

In the second chapter of Acts the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 who were waiting in the upper room. They were all touched in a powerful way when they received the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But they were all waiting again in the same place in chapter four of Acts and the same thing happened again. It was so powerful that the place in which they were assembled was shaken and they were all filled again with the Holy Spirit. 

 

Something is happening in the world today that is changing people from shy, fearful, doubting, denying Christians to bold, courageous, believing, powerful witnesses for Christ. The revival prophesied for years is moving in many places all over the earth. It will continue to expand and get hotter and louder and more powerful in the days and months ahead. The final answer to the worldwide Islamic threat is not bullets and bombs, it is JESUS!

 

Do you long for a transforming touch from the hand of the Lord? The first step is to acknowledge that in spite of all you have received from the Lord, there is still more. Do you want more? Are you willing to lay down all your prideful dignity and exalted sophistication and come to the feet of Jesus as a little child asking for another transforming touch?

 

Jesus prayed, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." (Matt. 11:25)

 

I am convinced that we are sometimes too intelligent to receive all God has for us. God has chosen to use the little things, little people, weak things, base things to confound the wise, strong, and powerful. God has more of his blessing and anointing for us if we are little enough, weak enough, childlike enough to receive it. The revival will come knocking on your door. Will you be hungry enough, thirsty enough, and small enough to invite it in? God, help us to be willing to be converted and become as little children so that we will not miss your best for us in these exciting days!

 

DAVID AND JONATHAN

 

Every child of God should be able to identify with David and Jonathan. We are all a David and we are all a Jonathan. We all need a Jonathan and we all need a David.

 

In I Samuel 18:1-4 we read, "Now it came about when David had finished speaking with Saul that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David and Jonathan loved him as himself . . . then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword, his bow and his belt . . . So David prospered." 

 

God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David as king In Israel, but that did not guarantee David would sit on the throne ruling Israel. There was a period of several years between the day David was anointed and the day he became king over all Israel. These were years of struggle, trials and preparation. Without Jonathan and others like him, David would never have come into the fullness of God's purposes for his life. He would never have ruled Israel as king.

 

God has a calling and an anointing on your life. He has designed unique purposes for you. He will also send you a Jonathan to help you come into the fullness of all that He has planned for you. In fact, He will give you as many Jonathans as you need. 

 

It was God who gave David such favor in the eyes of Jonathan. It was God who knit Jonathan's soul to the soul of David. This knitting is an inward disposition that cannot be produced by a rational process. It is like a spontaneous explosion of love and commitment. It happens in the spirit. It cannot be contrived or manipulated. It is God given and dynamic. It may flourish for awhile and then die away, according to God's wise design. The word "knit" in this passage means, "to tie or bind together as one."

 

Some years later, when Jonathan was killed in battle, David lamented over him with these words, "I am distressed for you my brother Jonathan, you have been very pleasant to me. Your love for me was more wonderful than the love of women." (II Sam. 1:26)

 

This love that God put in the heart of Jonathan for David inspired him to give David his robe, his armor, and his weapons of war. In other words, all the resources of Jonathan were laid at David's feet and became available to him as he might need them. This was no small gesture, for Jonathan was the son of a king and heir apparent to the throne of Israel.

 

For all that God has given you to accomplish in His kingdom, be assured that He will also provide the means to accomplish it. He will give you a Jonathan that He will knit to your soul in such a way that you will both move forward into the battle as one man.

 

But God will also make you a Jonathan to a David. Is this too humbling for you? Had you rather be a David only and not serve another as a Jonathan? Joshua was a great man, but his greatness grew out of the years that he was faithful to serve Moses, the servant of God. Elisha was a mighty prophet in Israel, but he started out as Elijah's servant and remained faithful right up to the moment that his master was taken up to heaven in chariots of fire. John Mark and Timothy both became fruitful servants of God for they walked as humble servants to the apostle Paul and ministered to him as unto the Lord.

 

An old Indian proverb says, "He who helps his brother get his canoe across the river will get his own canoe across in the process." Jesus said that he who is unfaithful as another man's servant will not be entrusted with his own estate. "If, then, you have not proved trustworthy with the wealth of this world, who will trust you with the wealth that is real? And if you have proved untrustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?"

 

I believe God is calling his people to function at all times both as a Jonathan and as a David; both as a servant to another and as one who is being served. As a Jonathan, we should always be helping someone to fulfill his vision and his calling; as a David, we should be sensitive in the spirit to recognize and receive those God is sending to us to help us fulfill our vision and calling. God never intended that we try to function as a "Lone Ranger" in the Body of Christ. He will always be drawing people together with the cords of love so that our labor in the Lord will be accomplished as teamwork.

 

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

 

A NOW WORD FROM THE LORD TO YOU!

 

"I am coming to you walking upon the waters of your life. Above the sounds of the storm you will hear my voice calling your name. You are never alone, for I am at your right hand. Never despair, for I am watching over and caring for you. Be not anxious. This difficult situation is all part of My planning. I am working out the details to the end that I may bless you and reveal myself to you in a new way.

 

I have opened your eyes to see and your ears to hear and you shall come to know me even as did Moses in a face to face relationship. For I will remove the veil that separates me from you and you shall know me as your dearest Friend and truest Comforter.

 

No darkness shall hide my face, for I will be to you as a bright star in the night sky. Never let your faith waver. All things shall be as I plan them, if you allow me the freedom to shape circumstances and lead you to the right decisions. I purpose to do you good. I will bring to you those who can truly help. Leave all in my hands.

 

I want you to prosper and be in health. I want you to know Me even more intimately. When difficulties come, it is by my order and for your benefit. Man would say you have trouble. I say you have testing. My peace I give you.

 

I Love you. I shed my blood to cleanse you. I made you new. You must believe it. In my eyes you are worthy of love. I have created you just as you are. Do not criticize yourself for not being perfect in your own eyes. This will only lead to frustration.

 

I want you to trust me for every step you take, one day at a time. Abide in my love and in my power and be free. Be yourself. Do not allow others to manipulate you. I will guide you. Be aware of my presence every moment. I give you my joy, patience, peace. Call upon me and I will answer you. I am your shepherd and I will guide you. Follow me, only me. Never forget this! Listen and I will show you my will. I love you. I love you.

 

Don’t be so concerned about yourself. You are my responsibility. I will change you without your being aware of it. Accept yourself and love others simply because I love you. Take your eyes off yourself. Look only unto me. I lead. I change. I work, but I will not do it if you are striving to do it yourself. I cannot fight for you if you are fighting your own battle. You are mine. Let me transform you into the image of Christ. Let me love you. Let me give you joy, peace, and goodness. No one else can do it. You are not your own. You have been bought with the blood of the Lamb of God. Now you belong to me. It is not your business how I deal with you. Your business is to seek me and me only. Never yourself. Never others. Stop struggling! Rest in my love for you! I know what is best for you and I will work it in you. I want freedom to love you freely.

 

Stop trying to be what you desire to be and let me make you what I want you to be. My love is an everlasting love, a transforming love. Receive my love. Rest in my love. Relax in my love. Revel in my love and you shall surely prosper in all your ways. And you shall be a delight to me, says the Lord your Redeemer."

 

THE BEST THING FOR ME IS NOT ALWAYS PLEASANT!

 

Being in the will of God does not make us immune to trouble. It often involves hardship and suffering, but the end result is always good. God said to Ananias, right after Saul of Tarsus was saved on the road to Damascus, "Get ready and go to Straight Street . . . and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him so that he might see again. I have chosen him to serve me, to make my name known to Gentiles and kings and to the people of Israel. And I myself will show him all that he must suffer for my sake." (Acts 9:10-16) (TEV)

 

Paul later wrote to Timothy and said, "Those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Jesus himself promised us a hard time when he said, "In the world you shall have tribulation . . ." (John 16:33)

 

Moses was in the will of God when he went to Egypt to set the Hebrews free from bondage, but it got him into a lot of trouble with the leaders of Egypt. Even the elders of Israel said, "We had it easier before you came onto the scene! At least they provided us with straw for making bricks, but now we have to gather our own straw."

 

Moses was perplexed, "God, I've been obedient to do your will and yet you have not done your part. There is only confusion and hardship, and you have not delivered Israel at all."

 

Paul and Silas were in the very center of God's will when they followed the guidance they received from the Lord in the vision of the man of Macedonia who said, "Come over and help us." They went to Macedonia in obedience to God's direction and within a very short time they were thrown into prison and beaten severely. But they were not confused. They prayed and sang praises to God in the midst of the tribulation because they knew that trouble does not necessarily mean they we are out of the will of God. On the other hand, the fact that we are in trouble does not necessarily mean that we are in the will of God, either. 

 

Jonah got into trouble because he ran from the will of God and wound up in the belly of the whale before he finally realized that it is better to suffer doing God's will than it is to suffer in our rebellion against His will.

 

Paul said, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us."

 

Peter said, "Let him who suffers according to the will of God commit himself to God as to a faithful creator." Am I willing to suffer to stay in the will of God? God’s will often lead us by the way of suffering as we have seen in the instances quoted above from the word of God. But the suffering that is inherent in obeying God will always lead to a much greater good than the suffering involved. In fact, to refuse the suffering involved in fulfilling the will of God in our lives, we find it often leads to greater suffering. 

 

I am not including suffering sickness and disease. I do not believe God’s will is that we suffer sickness and disease, but that we come to Him in full faith and confidence that it is his will to heal us. Jesus expressed God’s attitude toward sickness and disease. In every case, with no exceptions, everyone who came to Jesus for healing were healed. Jesus suffered a horrible scourging to bring healing to us. If I am suffering some form of sickness or disease, I am told clearly what I should do in James’ letter to the early church: “Is any sick among you, let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will heal the sick and the Lord will raise him up.” (James 5:14-16)

 

The fact that there is often suffering that is connected with doing God’s will is evident in Paul’s list of things which he suffered: “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once was I stoned, three times I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was adrift in the ocean,; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in sleeplessness, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside all these things, that which comes upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)

 

In spite of all these scriptures that speak of the possibilities of suffering, we are that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed to us and in us. And that glory is not just the glory that we will witness when we get to heaven. It will be revealed in us here on this field of battle, at this present time! Hallelujah!!

 

WHERE HE LEADS ME I WILL FOLLOW

 

Every believer can be led by the Spirit of God. Paul said, "They that are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. " (Romans 8:14) Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice and another they will not follow." (John 10:27) If we are the sheep of His pasture, we will certainly be able to distinguish between the voice of Satan and the voice of Jesus our Shepherd. The Psalmist said, "The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord and He delights in his way." (Psalm 37:28) 

 

God not only orders the steps, but also the stops of a good man. The only way we can claim to be good is because God has declared us righteous through the blood of Jesus. Therefore, it is safe for me to confess what God says about me. I am a good man through the blood of Jesus and God is ordering my steps!

 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path." (Proverbs 3:5-6) Trusting in the wisdom of the world will nullify God's guidance. He wants to guide us, but if we are putting our confidence in our own understanding, in principles of this world, in human advice, we will often miss God's plan for us. If I will only acknowledge Him and trust His word to me, he will direct my path!

 

The passages above and those that follow make it abundantly clear that God reveals His will to men and directs their paths:

 

"I will guide you with my eyes." (Psalm 32:8)

"He leads me in the paths of righteousness." (Psalm 23)

"He will send His angel before you." (Genesis 24:7)

"Be not unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5:17)

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches." (Revelation 2:29)

"A voice behind you saying, 'this is the way, walk in it "' (Isaiah. 30:21)

"While I was in the way the Lord led me." (Genesis 24:27)

"The sheep listen to His voice and follow Him because they know His voice and will not recognize a stranger's voice." (John 10:3-5)

 

If you are a child of God by faith in Jesus, it is your heritage and your birthright to be led of God both in the little details and in the larger issues of life. God reveals his will to us through four basic channels: 

 

1. His Word

2. His People

3. His providence

4. His peace

 

First, God reveals His will to us through His Word, the Bible. The Bible is the revealed will of God for man. By reading the Bible, we get to know God's general will for mankind. It requires interpretation, of course. This means we must rely on the Holy Spirit to show us what the written Word means.

 

Second, God reveals His will to us through His People, the church. God uses his people to speak to us through the gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, dreams, visions, tongues and interpretation. The believer who is not vitally connected to a Spirit filled Body of Christians will not have the stability he needs. We need the balance of the Body of Christ to keep us from going off on a tangent. The Bible says: "With wise counsel make war." (Proverbs 11:14) "In a multitude of counselors there is safety." (Proverbs 24:6)

 

A remarkable example of this is taking place in Youth With A Mission (YWAM). I was teaching in YWAM schools when I learned how they conducted what I call the "Three-Step Prayer for Guidance." At first I was very cautious about getting involved in it because it really seemed pretty bold and maybe even a little presumptuous. They were asking God direct questions and waiting for direct answers!

 

I remained skeptical until I learned more of the history of YWAM and got to know the founder and president, Loren Cunningham. I discovered that almost the entire organization, from the very beginning of Loren's walk with God, was built on the assumption that believers can hear the voice of God and can understand what He is saying. Not really that presumptuous when you think about it! Loren wrote a book about it and called it Is that Really You, God? It is an exciting account of how a worldwide missionary movement was started by a few dedicated young people who launched out on the proposition that it is safe to do what God tells you to do, and that it is possible to hear the voice of God so that he can tell you what to do!

 

Third, God reveals His will to us through His providence. When I make Jesus the Lord of my life I can depend on Him to order the circumstances of my life. Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost For His Highest said, "God engineers our circumstances." There are many Biblical examples of this:

 

God engineered circumstances so that Abraham's servant would meet Rebecca at the well and thus find a wife for Isaac, his master's son. The servant delightedly exclaimed, "While I was on my journey, not knowing exactly where to go, the Lord was leading me all the time." (Genesis 24) (Paraphrase)

 

God engineered Jonah's circumstances to get him to the city of Nineveh to proclaim a prophetic word to the inhabitants of that city. He provided the storm; He provided the fish to swallow Jonah and take him back to Nineveh. God even engineers the circumstances of his rebellious children to bring them into the place He has for them.

 

God engineered the circumstances of Abraham when he was about to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar by providing a ram caught in a thicket to serve as a substitute sacrifice for Isaac.

 

God engineered the circumstances of Hagar, the Egyptian handmaiden of Abraham and Sarah, when she was sent out into the desert away from Isaac. They were dying of thirst and the Lord showed her a spring of water that he had provided for her and her son. His name is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord our provider.

 

God engineered circumstances when Jesus told Peter to go fishing and the first fish he caught would have a coin in his mouth that would provide the temple tax.

 

Throughout the Word of God and the history of the church, we have many examples of how God will provide just what we need at just the time we need it. The word "circumstance" is another word for "providence." And the idea of "providence" is that God is able to control all the details and surrounding events and influences of our lives so that we will always be right where He wants us to be, doing what He wants us to do.

 

Fourth, God reveals His will to us through His peace. There is one other very important factor in receiving guidance from God and that is peace. The bottom line of guidance is peace, a deep settled confidence that we are in the will of God. When I have that peace, I know, and I know that I know that I am in the will of God! We have the privilege of waiting on God about a matter till we have peace; In fact, it is an OBLIGATION to wait on God till we have peace before deciding on weighty matters of guidance!

 

If my will is to do the will of God, I can trust that God is giving me an inner motivation to do what He wants me to do. This takes the strain out of my walk with Jesus. I no longer have to do the thing I don't want to do simply out of a sense of duty. There is bondage and legalism that arises out of such a walk with God. God is leading us into a deeper walk with Him. It is a walk based on Philippians 2:13: "It is God at work in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure. "

 

This is a walk in which I can do what I want to do because I have died to self and self interest and it is my delight to do the will of Him that sent me and finish the work he gave me to do. I can do as I please because it is my deepest desire to please Him. And He is at work in me in the deepest depths of the inner fountains of my motivation both to will and to do of His good pleasure. If what I desire to do agrees with,

1. The written Word of God;

2. The counsel of my brothers and sisters in Christ;

3. My God-ordained circumstances; and produces

4. An inward peace and certainty, then it is safe to proceed!

 

But even if I have all of the above and still it is not God's timing or maybe not the right thing to do, He will block my way or give me a "check" in the spirit, letting me know that it is not the way to go. He did this with Paul and his team in Acts 16 when they tried to go into Asia and Bithynia, as we will see in the next chapter.

 

A THREE-STEP PRAYER FOR GUIDANCE

 

When we need a word from the Lord on an urgent matter, we do not have to ask the question the kings and leaders did in Old Testament times, "Is there a prophet in our midst?" Since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the Body of Christ, the church, is a prophetic community! If we have received what the early church did on the day of Pentecost, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we have a prophetic anointing. We can minister in that anointing if we will look to the Lord in faith and expect to hear from Him on the matter before us. In the Old Testament they sought the Lord through the prophets in times of great distress, or when they were faced with a decision concerning warfare. In our day, we may need to hear from God about taking a new job, moving to a different locality, going to a particular school, becoming involved in a certain ministry, or how to pursue a particular calling.

 

Whatever the need, we can come together more or less like the early disciples did when they needed to hear from God as to who would take the place of Judas as one of the twelve disciples. They sought the Lord together and He revealed His choice to them. The following are steps to take in leading a prayer meeting in which you will be asking for specific guidance for certain individuals:

 

Begin by taking time to praise the Lord! Then spend time talking about what the Bible says about the fact that God still talks to His people. You can refer to passages in this book on guidance, or just read certain portions aloud to awaken the faith of all that God is going to communicate His will to you during this prayer time.

 

Let everyone know that this is a true Biblical way to ascertain the will of God in the lives of His children. We are basing our faith on how the early church sought the mind of God in crisis circumstances. The person who needs to hear from the Lord about a matter will be seated in the middle of the circle and will have a definite, specific question to ask the Lord, such as, "Lord, is it your will for me to continue in this job, or this relationship, or this ministry?" or “Father, should I enroll in this school?” It needs to be a very specific request. Then take the following three steps:

 

1. Bind the devil and your own imagination. The following is a suggested prayer: "In the name of Jesus we bind the devil and our imaginations and we will hear only the voice of God concerning this matter!"

 

2. Die to your own will in the matter. Have the person seeking a word from the Lord tell God that he/she is willing to do the will of God and not his/her own will. 

 

3. Ask the question and wait for the answer. Have the person seeking guidance to word the prayer himself/herself audibly. 

 

Tell the group to remain silent till the leader breaks the silence in waiting on God for the answer to the question. Give ample time for all to hear from God. The Lord will reveal his will in different ways. Some will see a vision Some will think of a verse from the Bible. Others will have a thought and share it. Still others will have a scripture reference come to their minds without know what it says. Be open for the Lord to use YOU! Be obedient and share what the Lord gives you even though you may not understand what it means.

 

It is important to remember that this is not a time of counseling. We are not gathered to hear from man but from God. If God does not impress you with any of the above, a vision, a prophecy, a scripture, a God given thought, etc., do not try to manufacture a word to give the person who needs to hear from God. Above all, be honest! If you get nothing that is what you are to share with the person receiving ministry . . . nothing!

 

As you minister to one another in this way, God will reveal many things. It is a very edifying experience for those who are ministering as well as for those receiving ministry. This is simply one way to obey the word of the Lord to "stir up the gift that is in you by the laying on of hands . . . "

 

Continue to minister until all needs have been met with regard to urgent needs for guidance. Every believer would like to have a "word from the Lord" but this is different. It is asking God for a "Now Word" in answer to a specific question as to what steps to take in a present and particular situation.

 

End your time with praise that we have a Shepherd who communicates with us and whose voice we can hear and understand! 

 

WHAT GOD SAYS ONCE HE WILL SAY AGAIN

 

What God says to us, He will fully confirm to us! He will say it more than once. He will give enough confirmation that we will have no more doubts as to His will for us in a given situation. This is what I call, "BIG AS LIFE" guidance. We need as strong a hand of guidance to leave what we are doing and move into something new as we had to move into the thing we are doing now. Anything less could be a big mistake. Paul and his team experienced this kind of guidance on his first missionary journey. 

 

"They traveled through the region of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit did not let them preach the message in the province of Asia. When they reached the border of Mysia, they tried to go into province of Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So they traveled right on through Mysia and went to Troas. That night Paul had a vision in which he saw a Macedonian standing and begging him, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us!' As soon as Paul had this vision, we got ready to leave for Macedonia, because we decided that God had called us to preach the Good News to the people there." (Acts 16:6-10) - TEV

 

Paul and his team were traveling in the direction that seemed best to them, trusting that what they wanted to do was what God was leading them to do. This they did until they were "checked" by the Spirit of Jesus who let them know that this was not the right door to enter.

 

It is very comforting to know that if we do go in the wrong direction, the Lord will correct our heading and set us in the right direction. They tell us that the rocket that landed on the moon was off course more than eighty percent of the time. The good news is that because of the many course corrections it safely landed on the moon and returned to earth. I may be "off course" a good percent of the time, but if my will is to do His will, God is able to make the necessary corrections and get me to where He wants me to be. Several years ago someone gave me the following couplet that certainly applies here:

 

If I will take care of spiritual realization,

God will take care of my geographic location.

 

When Paul and his team knew they were not to go to Asia and Bithynia they went down to Troas where Paul had a vision of a man in Macedonia begging them to "come over and help us!" If God closes one door, He will open another door. It may take some time, but if we will wait on Him in faith, He will show us the right way to go.

 

After Paul had the vision of the man in Macedonia "they gathered assuredly that they were to preach the gospel there . . . and they left immediately for Macedonia." We can only act immediately after we have gathered assuredly. That is the "principle of peace" at work. I can know with all certainty what God wants me to do and I am not responsible to move out on any kind of guidance until I have peace about it.

 

We see something else in this passage. God uses closed doors to guide our steps! Behind every "No" from God is a "Yes!" The "No" is to keep us from going astray so that we may experience the "Yes" of His perfect will for our lives.

 

In the closing years of Paul's ministry, as he made his way to Jerusalem with an offering for the needy saints, he said, "The Holy Spirit witnesses in every city that bonds and afflictions await me in Jerusalem." God revealed to him some of the things he would have to suffer and He said it more than once, in fact, "in every city! Therefore it did not surprise Paul when this came to pass. He was inwardly prepared because God had spoken to him about the matter and he was strengthened and ready to suffer through it. This is the wisdom of an ancient proverb, “Forewarned is Forearmed.”

 

God revealed to the Pharaoh of Egypt that there would be seven years of famine. He gave him two dreams that carried the same message; seven fat cows swallowed up by seven thin cows and seven fat ears of corn swallowed up by seven blasted and withered ones. Joseph said, "God has repeated the dream in order that you may know for certain that it will surely come to pass."

 

This certainty will come to me as God repeats His message to me in different ways. He will speak to me through His Word, through His people, through dreams and visions and through His providence, over and over until I understand clearly what He is saying to me.

 

The longer we walk with Him, the more sensitive we become to His "still small voice." There are those who need only a gentle nudge and they move out on that guidance with all certainty. And there are others who need several nudges before they know for certain. God knows where I am and at what level of sensitivity I am. You must not be displeased with yourself if it takes you longer than others to ascertain what God is saying to you. Keep on seeking until you "gather assuredly" before you make plans to "leave immediately." You have that right, that privilege, and that responsibility.

 

A DAILY PRAYER OF CONFESSION

 

The most powerful weapons in existence are faith words, words spoken in faith. God formed the universe with faith words. “And the earth was without form and void. And God said, ‘Let there be light‘ and there was light.” 

 

Jesus fought the devil in the wilderness with faith words. Jesus raised the dead, stilled the tempest, healed the blind, the lame and the sick with faith words. We enter into the Kingdom with words. “If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart . . . you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

 

The following is a confession of faith that will bring you out and bring you in . . . out of darkness, sickness, poverty, pain, loneliness, and into the light to establish you in strength in your daily walk with Jesus. Repeat it in faith daily till you see the changes come. Remember the words of Jesus: “Have faith in God. I assure you that whoever shall say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass, he shall have whatever he says.” (Mark 11:23)

 

Make the follow prayer of confession out loud to God often:

 

“Father, I believe the Bible is your Word; and that it has creative power. Jesus said, ‘I assure you that whoever tells this mountain to get up and throw itself in the sea and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.’ I believe that when I confess in faith what you have said about me, I establish these truths upon myself in the spirit realm and that eventually they will be evident in the material realm.

 

“Lord, I thank you that you have brought me out of darkness into your marvelous light and that I am now a child of God by faith in Jesus. I am an heir of all the promises you gave to your servant, Abraham; Abraham's blessings are mine and I receive them now with thanksgiving! You said that all the promises of God are "Yes" to us because of our union with Jesus Christ, and we shout to you our "Amen" to the glory of God. We say, 'Yes, Lord, let it be so!'

 

“I thank you that Jesus shed his blood to pay for all my sins and that I have clean hands and a pure heart by faith in his atoning work on the cross. I now come boldly before your throne of grace because I am clean, I am pure, I am holy, I am forgiven, I am justified, I am sanctified by the blood of Jesus.

 

“Father, in Christ we have all things that pertain to life and godliness. I am all that you say I am; I am filled with the Holy Spirit; I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me; I have all I need and enough to be generous to others and you are fulfilling your word to make me prosperous in all that I do.

  

“I affirm that your name is Jehovah-rapha, the Lord my healer. I receive you as my Healer and my Physician. There is nothing too hard for you to do and there is nothing impossible to those who believe. I believe it is your will to heal me and in Jesus' name I declare that no sickness or disease shall come upon me and remain upon me! Jesus heals me now!

 

“Father, Jesus suffered the agony of forty stripes so that I might be healed; I thank you for your promise of divine healing; It belongs to me! I believe it; I receive it; I confess it! I embrace it. I am healed through the sufferings of Jesus on my behalf.

 

"I confess that those who live in the shadow of the Almighty shall be satisfied with long life. I place my life in your hands and therefore when it comes my time to leave this world, I shall go in your time, in your will and in your way. In Jesus' name I affirm that I shall complete all the purposes of God for my life and that, in the end, I will be able to say with Paul, 'I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.'

 

 “Father, you said that he who lives and believes in you shall never die; that if a man keeps your word he will never see death; he will never taste of death. I confess that when I depart this life, I shall walk with Jesus through the valley of the shadow of death into the next life with loud shouts of resounding Joy!”

    

PRAYING ALWAYS

 

The desire to pray is implanted within us the moment we are saved, even before we are saved! The Spirit of God who comes to make His home in us is called the "Spirit of grace and supplication"- Zechariah 12:10. Supplication is another word for prayer or petition. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, is a praying Spirit. He stirs us up to pray. To pray . . .  always.

 

Ask any sincere believer if he knows he should pray more than he does. The answer is always the same. "O, how I need to pray more, but somehow I seem always to fail in that area of my walk with the Lord."

 

The problem is the same with us as it was with Jesus' disciples. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak . . . but the spirit is willing! Recently our church went through a study on how to pray for one hour. It was a tremendous teaching by an anointed young man who is stirring the church in America today to give itself to more prayer, both privately and corporately. I praise God for this emphasis and I fully support it. 

 

There is another word, however, that has gone out to the people of God down through the ages that is speaking to the hearts of some today who have a desire to pray not just one hour a day but to live a life of prayer. It is the kind of prayer mentioned in Ephesians 6:18. It is prayer that envelopes all the admonitions of God mentioned in that passage and ties it all together. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)

 

We tend to measure our devotion to God by how much time we pray out loud, or on our knees or with someone else. But if that be true, how is it possible to pray always? There is a level of prayer where we do not stop praying. We pray hour after hour . . . on and on and on. It is a life of prayer and it issues out of constant abiding and constant communion with God in the spirit. 

 

"But how can this be done?" someone will say. "I can't even pray 15 minutes a day and you're talking about praying all day long? Every day? Is this really what you mean to say?"

 

Yes! It is what the scriptures teach!

 

Do not think I am saying that audible or corporate prayer are not necessary! We need to have set times of prayer, both alone and with others, in their proper place and time. These are needed. In fact, they are indispensable. I am saying that there is a kind of prayer that supersedes and yet includes all other forms of prayer.

 

Paul's directive to pray always in Romans 8:26-27 gives us the same message: "Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities. We do not know what we should pray for, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." The Living Bible paraphrase of this verse reads as follows:

 

"Nor are we alone in our struggles. The Holy Spirit supports our helplessness. Left to ourselves we do not know what prayers to offer or how to offer them. But in those inarticulate groans which rise from the depths of our being we recognize the voice of none other than the Holy Spirit. He makes intercession for us and His intercession is sure to be answered." 

 

A commentary on this verse by C. H. Dodd is helpful, "This inarticulate aspiration is the deepest form of prayer and it is itself the work of the Spirit within. The Spirit pleads for us with sighs that are beyond words. When we would pray we know too little of our own needs or of God's purposes to pray aright. But not even in prayer is the human intelligence or will the determining factor. An inarticulate aspiration is itself the work of God in us, and though we ourselves may not be conscious of its meaning, God knows what it means and answers the prayer, since the Spirit pleads before God for the saints. This profound concept of prayer; of God in us appealing to God above us, is at peace with Paul's whole conception of the Christian life as one in which the divine initiative is displayed at every point." 

 

How, then, do I enter into this kind of prayer that is our response to Paul's mandate to pray always? This continual prayer is the result of a release of our spirit when we make Jesus our life as well as our Lord; when we can say with Paul, "I no longer live but Christ lives in me." It is the life of Christ that will be released through me by faith, not by my strivings or self effort, and the life of Christ is a life of prayer . . . constant prayer.

 

This life of prayer is such that you can actually know when it is going on within you and when, for whatever reason, it is being quenched. What a blessed experience to live in the knowledge of the fact that my spirit is in constant communion with the Father through the Holy Spirit! To be so one with the Lord that He is able to live in us and walk in us and pray through us unhindered!

 

Oswald Chambers, in his book, My Utmost For His Highest speaks of this kind of prayer, "We think rightly or wrongly about prayer according to the conception we have in our minds of prayer. If we think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts, we think rightly. The blood flows ceaselessly, and the breathing continues ceaselessly; we are not conscious of it, but it is always going on. We are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us perfectly connected with God, but if we are not hindering Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life." 

 

When I was eleven years old I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My very first commitment to God was, "Father, I want to pray all the rest of my life and never say 'amen" till just before I die, then I will say 'amen.'" As I look back on that prayer of an eleven year old boy, I see that, even then, in the first days of my faith in Jesus, God was working in me to pray always; to pray without ceasing.

 

Father, make this constant prayer a reality in me at all times! Without you I can do nothing. I cannot even pray without you. I certainly cannot pray ceaselessly without you. Father, I give myself to you and I believe you take that which I give to you. I trust you to set up your kingdom in my heart and rule my life from within. Make my life, above all else, a life of prayer and purity. Jesus, only you can do it. I trust you to do it. I trust you to do it now and all through this day and every day all the rest of my life! In Jesus' name. Amen

    

I CAN ONLY DO MY PART!

 

God has been speaking to me lately about the relationship between the workings of His grace within me and my responsibility to co-operate with that grace and not to frustrate that grace.

 

Concerning righteousness, we know that in our own strength we can do nothing. It is not by our determination or will power that we are enabled to live a pure and holy life pleasing to God. The Jews tried to please God in that way and Paul pointed out how futile that was. He knew by experience that the way of trying to keep the law did not work and he prayed fervently for his fellow Israelites that they might be saved. He said, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:1-4)

 

Concerning works, Paul said, "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I but the grace of God in me." Again in Philippians he says that “it is God that works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” When we see this glorious truth of Christ in you, we have the happy privilege of waiting expectantly for the Lord to will and to work through us rather than our striving to live and work for Him. What a release this has been for so many of us! It has taken the legalism and the inner strain out of our walk with God and our work in his kingdom. It has released Christ who is within us to live his life through us and to work in us to fulfill all the good pleasure of his will from an inward motivation rather than from the outward pressure of legalism. It has delivered us from being work centered and has opened up the possibility of a Christ centered life.

 

The death of the old man and the putting on by faith of the New Man which is created in righteousness and true holiness will indeed produce the life of Christ in us. Thus we begin to know by experience the reality of what Paul taught us in Colossians when he wrote about the mystery . . .“which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,” for that new man which we put on is Christ himself!

 

We have discovered that as we rest in him, he works in us and through us. This is a rest of faith, not of a disinterested passivity. It is based in the truths set forth primarily in Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians concerning our death with Christ and his resurrection life within us which is a revelation to be received by faith and to be lived out by faith.

 

It was Paul's prayer for the Ephesians that they would come to a revelation of this life of trust. "For this cause I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . that He would grant you, according to the riches of His grace, to be strengthened with might in the inner man, by his Spirit, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the  saints, the length, width, depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, in order that you may be filled with all the fullness of God . . . "

 

Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith is the key which leads to being filled with all the fullness of God, which is being filled with the Holy Spirit . . . and more. The cross is the foundation, faith is the ingredient that sets it all in motion and love out of a pure heart is the glorious result; perfect love for God and proper love for one another.

 

But what is my part in realizing this life of victory over sin? There is something we can do to work with God to bring forth a life of constant victory over the desires of the flesh. “if we, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the flesh we shall live, for if we live after the flesh we shall die.” Here we are faced with the command to take charge of the flesh. We are to put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit. We are told to do the impossible but, praise God; we are also told how to do it . . . “through the Spirit.”

 

He expresses it another way in Galatians; "Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." Many of us will subconsciously interpret that verse as follows: "When you stop fulfilling the lusts of the flesh you will be walking in the Spirit." So we set about to stop fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and end up walking in the flesh and warring after the flesh and setting ourselves up for Paul's rebuke to the Galatians: "Are you so foolish, having begun in the Spirit are you now made perfect by the flesh?"

 

How, then, do we mortify the deeds of the flesh? Paul gives a list of these deeds in Galatians 5: "Sexual immorality, fornication, uncleanness, idolatry, witchcraft, jealousy, wrath, fightings, drunkenness, orgies, heresies and such things." 

 

He gives another list in Colossians: "fornication, impurity, disordered passions, evil desires, anger, wrath, envy, dishonest words, lying, etc." These lists include not only the sinful act but also the condition of the heart that causes the act. I can no more extract these deeds from my life by focusing on them and trying to overcome them than I can build into my life the fruit of the Spirit by trying to manufacture them one at a time.

 

So then, what is my part and what is God‘s part? My part is to look to Jesus, the author and the finisher of my faith. He will do for me what I cannot do for Him or for myself. The secret of living the Christian life is the same as the secret of how to become a Christian in the first place; It is all by grace through faith . . . Jesus doing for me what I cannot accomplish myself, and he works, as I look to him in faith to do for me what I cannot do for myself. So I must stop trying to do for Jesus what he alone can do for me and through me. It is all by grace through faith! As I rest in Him, He works in me, around me, and through me. We are not only justified by grace through faith, we are also sanctified (made holy) by grace through faith.

 

DO NOT LAY THEM AGAIN!

 

I must have read Hebrews 6:1 a thousand times but not until today did I see that this passage contains an urgent command. "Not laying again the foundations" actually means, “Do not lay again the foundations! . . . Go on!" The only way we will ever be released to go on is to stop re-doing what has already been done! The "going on" will not take place until the "laying again" stops.

 

Foundation of a house is laid for one purpose . . . to build the house on. The foundation is not the vision the builder has in mind when he begins to build. A foundation is necessary, but it is not the objective. The objective is the superstructure . . . the house.

 

When my wife and I built our house, we did not get all excited about how beautiful the foundation was going to be. As a matter of fact, the foundation for our house was an absolute pain to build! It took days and days to dig down into almost solid granite . . . and guess what? No one ever saw the foundation when the house was finished. Our vision was to build a house, not a foundation. Once we finished the foundation, you can be sure we never made an effort to re-do it!

 

Some things in the Kingdom of God are foundational; the most foundational of all is the act of consecration. The word itself means to yield ourselves entirely into the hands of God. It means to sanctify ourselves. Holiness and purity and fruitfulness are the outcome. It is the laying of the sacrifice upon the altar, never to even consider taking it back again. In fact, according to Levitical law of offerings you cannot take it back even if you wanted to, and that is good news to all who sincerely want to be God's possession forever. The person who gives himself to God thereby relinquishes all his rights. He has abandoned himself to God for time and for eternity.

 

One of the most prevalent causes of confusion in the Body of Christ is the teaching that the act of consecration is to be repeated over and over again. This opens up the door continually to doubt and uncertainty . . . which opens the door to the enemy, giving him an advantage. We become like the little boy whose dad was teaching him how to raise a vegetable garden. In his excitement and impatience, he would go out every few days to dig down to see if the seeds were growing yet. Of course he never saw the seed grow and bear fruit until he learned to plant the seed and water the garden and wait patiently for the seed to germinate and grow. There are spiritual seeds that must be planted once and for all and left to germinate and grow and bear fruit.

 

According to Leviticus 27:28-29, when we devote ourselves to God, we can never be redeemed (bought back). We are His forever! . . . and are thereby declared to be “Most holy to the Lord.“ To be consecrated to God is to be laid on the altar and devoted to death. Of course this speaks of the death of the "old man" according to Romans, chapter six. This is what we are declared to be in that passage. When we were baptized into Christ, we were baptized into his death. His death is credited to our account, so that our consecration is complete and perfect and ongoing! Will you pray with me the following prayer?

 

"Lord help me to stop re-consecrating myself and accept the eternal fact of my consecration to God through my identification with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. Father, just as you have accepted my consecration, my purity, my cleansing, my justification from all things and my consecration through the blood of Jesus, I accept it and will never visit that graveyard again. From this day on, I will live out my days in the full and complete knowledge that I am accepted in the Beloved, I am complete in Christ, and I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus forever!” Amen!

   

OBEYING OUT OF THE MUDDLE

 

Are you in the middle of a muddle? A muddle is anything that clouds or confuses ones mind. You go over and over the same ground trying to find the mind of God in the matter and yet the muddle persists and your mind is still in darkness as to what you are to do.

 

You have fasted, prayed, read, meditated and sought counsel. You have worshipped and waited and gone over the ground of past confirmations. You have recalled the dreams, the visions, the words of prophecy, the signs, the guideposts and the circumstances. And yet you still don't have the faith to take the step and make the decision with confidence.

 

At such times, mental processes will never bring clarity. Thrashing about in your mind will never bring light. The only thing that will bring light in your present darkness is obedience. You must obey the Lord in that matter about which God has spoken to you. God has a controversy with you and you will not move in the light of his guidance and blessing until you have obeyed and done what he clearly told you to do over and over.

 

If you will walk in the light the Lord has already given you, he will give you more light. A simple step of obedience will bring you into light in a moment of time and accomplish what all your mental striving could not achieve. We often work ourselves into a perfect frenzy and waste months and even years because we have sought to go on to other things before we have obeyed the Lord on some specific word he has given. It is a point of obedience I cannot escape. God cannot bring me into the next thing until I have responded to him on this one specific matter and submitted to him in humble obedience, even though my obedience may bring me into difficult and painful circumstances.

 

The moment I commit to obey him. he will move heaven and earth to enable me to do the thing he has told me to do. The beginning of obedience is the beginning of blessing. The first step of obedience brings the light of his blessing upon me. The whole project may take time, but revelation and peace comes with my first step of obedience. I must do now what I will ultimately have to do anyhow!

 

The story of Jonah brings a delightful splash of light on this whole matter. God told him to go to Nineveh and proclaim to the people of that city that in forty days Nineveh would be destroyed. Instead of  obeying that command, he ran from the will of God and went off in the opposite direction. But God went out after him and he wound up in the belly of a great fish! But when he cried out in prayer in that slimy darkness, God in his mercy delivered him onto dry land again. Now Jonah was more than ready to go preach in the streets of  Nineveh!

 

Whatever the Lord has commanded you to do, cry out now to God in prayer in the belly of your darkness and pain! God will hear your prayer and enable you to walk through the steps of your obedience and give you such a victory that, as it was with Jonah, the fruit of your act of obedience could bring a multitude of  people who now sit in darkness into the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ!

 

DO YOU HAVE A GOAL?

 

A goal is an achievement to be accomplished within a specific time period. We live in a society in which goals are very important. High-powered motivational seminars are attracting thousands. "Come and we will help you fulfill your goals." Such goals are sometimes called, "The American Dream." It is the “rags-to-riches,” "Cinderella" dream.

 

How legitimate are goals for those who have come to Jesus and made him their Lord and their life? I believe there is one goal that will fulfill all others! It is found in Paul's letter to the Philippians: "This one thing I do . . . I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death." Philippians, 3:13-14 (NIV)

 

Paul had one goal, and out of that goal came fulfillment of every other purpose that God had ordained for his life. The problem of the goal-oriented life is that it causes us to focus on an accomplishment and how well we're doing in achieving that accomplishment, rather than concentrating on Jesus, the Lord of our lives. 

 

A goal is only right if it is born in the heart of God and not in our own thinking. Paul's goal was to know Jesus. Out of that came a life filled with the power of God; a life like that of Jesus himself, because the Indwelling Jesus lived unhindered and unrestricted in him and through him. This was Paul's secret . . . reincarnation! Jesus Christ living, breathing, inspiring, guiding,  counseling, directing, walking around in another body, a body totally surrendered to Him. Paul loudly proclaimed, “I no longer live . . . Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) That is Christ . . . re-incarnated in a human body, walking again among men, but in another vessel, a yielded vessel.

 

God will give us, from time to time, specific long range, short range and medium range goals, but the one goal that will lead us to fulfill all other goals, often without even being aware of it, is Paul's all consuming goal . . . “to know Jesus and the power of his resurrection.”

 

Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you." If I want to fulfill all the will of God in my life, I must seek only one thing! That one thing is that God will rule in my life unhindered. Every goal that God has for my life will be fulfilled in me and I can be perfectly happy even though I may not have any well defined goals set out before me.

 

The greatest goal, after all, is "to know Him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death." That is no small goal. And the only way I can make that my goal is to do what Paul says, "I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies; presenting all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship." Romans 12:1-2 -Amplified

 

This is a transaction as real and authentic as that of the marriage ceremony where a man commits himself to a woman and a woman commits herself to a man. It is done with words that come from a sincere heart. Are you ready to make such a life changing commitment to God? Right now? If so, pray the following prayer:

 

“Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die in my place, taking upon himself all my guilt so that I might be cleansed from all my sins. Thank you, Jesus, for coming into my life and for giving me clean hands and a pure heart though your sacrifice on the cross. I want to dedicate my life to you, body, soul, mind, and spirit. I give you my all, Lord! I ask you to come and take possession me. Make me the person you created me to be. I am yours, from this day on. And now I receive you as my very life, my wisdom, my strength, my health, my all in all! Thank you for hearing my prayer and for living your life in me and through me every moment of every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen!”

   

Don't let the word "re-incarnation" scare you! I am not talking about anyone being reincarnated except Jesus Christ, the Lord. When Jesus came as a baby, he was the incarnate Son of God. He was God in the flesh showing humanity what God is like. Now it is said of Jesus that he was the firstborn among many brothers. Paul may have been the first of Jesus' followers who had the revelation that God's plan was to have Jesus live his life again and again in a multitude of his followers. Paul said, "For me to live is Christ!" Another way he could have said that is: "For me to live is Christ living out his life in me and through me. I no longer live. Christ lives in me and the life I now live is by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave himself up as a sacrifice for me."

 

The Indwelling Christ, living out his life through me, unhindered, is secret of the victorious Christian life!

 

GOING BACK TO NINEVEH

 

"The word of the Lord came to Jonah . . . 'Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it’ . . . But Jonah ran from the Lord and headed f o r Tarshish." (Jonah 1:1-3)

 

When Jonah headed for Tarshish he was headed for trouble. The word of the Lord had come clearly to him. There was no doubt as to what he had to do. He was certain of God's will for him. Nevertheless, in the fullness of that light, Jonah deliberately stopped his ears and went another direction.

 

But God's mercy was relentless in Jonah's life. God did not give up on him because of his rebellion. Scripture says that Jonah found a ship bound for Tarshish and after paying the fare he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea. This divine intervention was only the beginning of God's special love gifts to Jonah in the midst of his rebellion. Six times in the tiny book of Jonah (which takes up only 2 pages of space in a Bible of more then 1600 pages) we read of God's direct provision in this man's life to bring him to his senses and head him in the right direction:

 

"The Lord sent a great wind." (1:4)

"The Lord provided a great fish." (1:17)

"The Lord commanded the fish." (2:10)

"The Lord provided a vine." (4:6)

"God provided a worm." (4:7)

"God provided a scorching east wind." (4:8)

 

Notice that God's dealings in Jonah's life are called "provisions." Even the hard experiences such as the storm at sea and the three days and three nights that he spent in that awful stinking darkness of the fish's belly are the gracious provisions of God to an erring son. And because of the strict, harsh dealings of God in Jonah's life, he finally made it back to shore and actually completed all that God had commanded him to do. He fulfilled the will and purpose of God, and through it an entire city turned to God and averted a catastrophe of God‘s judgment. 

 

Jonah should have been happy! In response to his preaching all of Nineveh, from the king on his throne, down to the lowly servant, all were covered with the sackcloth of repentance, crying out to God for mercy. "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”

 

Can you see yourself in the book of Jonah? Has God come to you with some hard yet specific word? Have you found yourself running from the known will of God for your life? Are you even now in the midst of the storm or in the belly of the whale? Take courage! God can and will loose you from your bondage in a moment's time! Hear the tormenting, anguishing cries of Jonah, the man of God hopelessly entangled in the captivity of his nightmare of death: 

 

“Oh, God, you hurled me into the deep,

into the very heart of the seas,

And the currents swirled about me;

All your waves and breakers swept over me.

The engulfing waters threatened me,

The deep surrounded me;

Seaweed was wrapped around my head.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;

The earth beneath barred me in forever.

In my distress I called to the Lord,

And he answered me.

From the depths of the grave

I called for help and you listened to my cry.

When my life was ebbing away,

I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you,

To your holy temple.

I said, I have been banished from your sight;

Yet I will look again toward your holy temple.

And you brought my life up from the pit,

Oh, Lord, my God.

Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

But I, with a song of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you.

What I have vowed I will make good.

Salvation comes from the Lord!"

 

When Jonah began to pray and to praise God with a heart of repentance, things began to change. His prayer was more of a paean of praise than it was a confession of repentance, for somehow Jonah caught a glimpse of the grace of God in spite of the darkness that surrounded him and he knew God saw he was now ready to turn now and go to Nineveh. So God spoke to the fish and turned again the captivity of Jonah. 

 

The writer of Proverbs reminds us that the way of the transgressor is hard. Has life for me been hard lately because I have been running from the will of God? Have I been walking in darkness, confusion, sickness, pain, poverty, and distress simply because I have not recognized God's storm upon my life and cried out to him from the belly of hell asking him to help me get back to my Nineveh, my point of obedience, and do what he told me to do?

 

Have I been so busy rebuking the devil and claiming healing and prosperity that I have been blinded to the root cause of my problems! Have I been living in rebellion and self will in the face of a clear revelation from God about what he wants me to do?

 

Are you asking these questions about your present circumstances? It may have been a word you received from God years ago? You rejected it or just neglected it and the storm began to form against you. As you looked at the awesome clouds and heard the rumble of the thunder and felt the fierce wind and rain lashing out against you, you said, "This could not be from God! This is from the Devil! I rebuke you, Satan! I belong to God! By Jesus' stripes I am healed! I believe I have received! I'm not moved by what I see! I'm a child of Abraham, and his blessings rest on me!”

 

Yet in the face of these positive confessions, which are powerful and transforming in their effect when uttered in faith by an obedient child of God, you still find yourself ensnared, trapped, bound, and held captive. There are times when our need is not to confess our faith, but to confess our rebellion, and turn to God in true repentance. If God has spoken a word to you, and you are walking away from that word, all the positive confessions, religious phrases, and faith formulas will only serve to prolong your captivity if you refuse to turn from your own way and begin to walk toward Nineveh. Your faith is only make-believe while you are headed for Tarshish.

 

Where is my Nineveh? What is my first step back to Nineveh? Jonah's first step back was to cry out to his God from the depths. This is my first step also! We can be sure that God will not put on us more than we can handle. He knows our strength. He understands where we are and the limits of our endurance. He will not allow you to undergo more than you can stand, nor will He ever command you to respond in a measure beyond your capabilities. "His commandments are not grievous." 

 

When Jonah prayed, God acted, and Jonah found himself delivered from his entanglements, and fully capable of hearing and obeying God’s clear command: "Arise and go to Nineveh and preach against it!" This time Jonah obeyed that word, and that is the pathway to blessing for me and for you!

 

And remember, the beginning of obedience is the beginning of blessing! God did not wait until Jonah had finished his assignment before He began to bless him. Jonah's blessings began at the point of his cry of repentance. God will not require you to finish the task before He rewards you. At the moment you decide you will walk in the will of God, no matter what the cost, the hand of God will enter the situation in your behalf. He will work miracles of deliverance for you and bring you into the fullness of His purposes for your life. That fullness may not develop overnight, but the blessings begin immediately!

 

And if you listen carefully in the quietness of your spirit for that special word from your loving heavenly Father, I think you may hear him speaking to you in that still, small voice saying . . . "My blessing is upon you and I will restore unto you the years that the locust have eaten."

 

THE END OF SACRED AND SECULAR

 

A few days ago, just before getting out of bed, I lay there thinking about how good the Lord had been to me the day before. I had a desire to get up and read the Bible and pray and praise God and express my appreciation and thanksgiving. I also wanted to add momentum to all the Lord was doing for me, in me, around me and through me. But there was a check in my spirit which, at first, I could not understand. I felt God was saying to me that he wanted me to get up and begin to take care of some matters that pertained to my family, such as paying bills, working in the yard, helping cook breakfast, etc.

 

As I pondered this in my heart, the message that came to me was: "Can you receive from God while involved in “secular” things as easily as you can while involved in prayer and Bible study?" I had to admit to myself that I had been trained to receive things from God primarily through such activities as prayer, fasting, worship, meditation, fellowship with other believers, Bible reading as well as other such “spiritual” activities. But as I thought through the Scripture, I realized that God's activity and intervention in the affairs of men have often come while men pursued the common, ordinary affairs of life such as farming, fishing, and tending sheep. Here are some of the instances that came to mind:

 

The Lord revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush, as he tended his flock of sheep. He was not involved in any kind of "spiritual” activity.

 

God spoke to the boy Samuel as he lay in bed one night before going off to sleep, and gave him a message for Eli, the prophet. 

 

The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon as he was threshing wheat, and revealed to him God's plan for defeating the Medianites.

 

Throughout the Bible, our Lord broke in upon the lives of men and women as they went about the common, ordinary duties of daily life. Mary, the mother of Jesus was apparently not involved in any “spiritual” activity when the angel of the Lord came to tell her she would be the mother of the Christ child.

 

Saul of Tarsus was traveling on the road to Damascus in an attitude of rage and revenge when Jesus appeared to him and brought him out of darkness into light.

 

Most of us have not been trained to receive from God through “secular” (so called) channels. We have been taught in various ways that God will meet us in the "hallowed" place, but we have not been trained to see him and hear his voice in the marketplace or on the freeway, or in the kitchen, or on the golf course, or a thousand other places we frequent daily on life's journey. Will God appear to me and bless me and speak to me and enrich me while I am involved in such mundane things as sweeping the floor, mowing the lawn, or washing dishes? We have been taught to call the place where we meet a  sanctuary” which implies that "This place is holy because, “this is where God lives.” This gives out a soft and subtle message that reinforces the secular/sacred dichotomy. God help us to remedy this awful error! 

 

Jesus made it abundantly clear that holy places would one day be a thing of the past when he said to the woman at the well, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. . . The hour is coming and now is when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” (John 4:21-24)

 

Paul said, “To the pure, all things are pure.” In the new covenant, all things are pure; all things are clean. There is no longer a distinction between “sacred and secular.“ Christ fulfilled all the types and shadows of the Old Testament, including all the holy days, which includes the Sabbath. Christ is our Sabbath!

 

However, some of us need to be re-trained in order to receive the grace of God through what we would call "secular" channels. There is a fine line to recognize and not to cross over as we come out of religiosity and into reality. Consider the following:

 

Don’t give up your quiet time.

In order to receive from God in our daily walk, we must maintain vital channels of communication with Him in set times of prayer and quietly waiting upon Him. These times will feed strength into our spirit and will cause us to be sensitive to what God is doing in us and around us. Jesus is our example. He had constant communion with the Father throughout the day, but he also had set times to go aside to pray. 

 

He arose one morning before dawn and went out to pray;

Once he spent an entire night in prayer;

He spent forty days and nights in intense fasting and prayer;

He often went out into solitary places to pray;

He went into the Garden to pray the night before the crucifixion.

 

Be listening for His voice throughout the day.

Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice." The Lord still speaks to his people, not only through the written Word or through spiritual gifts, but also by a direct voice to our spirit. Obey the slightest impulse as the Spirit gives you direction in the little things of daily life. It is amazing how often He will speak, and in how many little things He will give us direction if we are open to it and expect it.

 

Look for special providences.

It was no coincidence that when Abraham's servant went in search of a bride for Isaac, Rebecca came to the well at exactly the right time. God arranged this meeting and confirmed it to Abraham’s servant by a sign. He will arrange the affairs of our lives, too, and will show himself to us throughout each day in many personal and precious ways if we expect Him to do so. God has sanctified the common, ordinary places and activities and made them acceptable in His sight. We are to worship anywhere and everywhere in the midst of any and all activities of life. God has sanctified and hallowed every area of the life of the believer. To the pure all things are pure and to the holy, all things are holy! 

    

WALKING IN REALITY

 

I was in a hurry to get to the men’s prayer meeting. I was already five minutes late and was chaffing under the pressure as I sat waiting f o r the red light to t u r n green. It was early morning with no traffic at all, and yet this crazy light was holding me up!

 

“Why don't they make all the traffic lights in this city automatic?" I thought. This must be one of the old ones without a sensor that detects the flow of traffic and automatically changes according to the need. Finally the light turned green and I was on my way again. But as I thought about that antiquated traffic light, God began to reveal a truth to me. It was simple and yet so powerful that I shared it with the men who that morning.

 

Some Christians are like the old traffic light. They have been programmed to religiously crank out certain activities without regard to changing circumstances or present needs. Others have more sensitivity. They are in agreement that rules and principles certainly apply, but these without the Spirit, will kill us rather than bring us into life and fruitfulness. “The letter kills but the spirit gives life.”

 

We are married to Jesus, not to a system of "do's and don'ts." Once I stopped at a red light and then I saw a traffic officer directing traffic in the middle of the intersection. He waved me on through, even though the light hadn't yet turned green. What was I to do? Should I obey the light or the officer? There was really no question as to what to do. I knew the officer had more authority in that situation than the traffic light. So I broke the “law of the traffic light" and drove on through with no feeling of guilt, for a higher law was in force at the moment and that was “the law of the traffic officer.”

 

Walking in reality is not walking by rules, laws or principles. It is walking by the Spirit, who made the rules and laws, and who may direct us to break one of those rules without contradicting Himself. He may, in fact, super-impose a higher wisdom for a particular situation that appears to violate something He said previously.

 

As we walk in the Spirit, God will enable us to adjust to change, and cope with people and situations in creative ways that reach right to the heart of problems and needs without violating His perfect will. The old traffic light speaks of legalism and religiosity. The new traffic lights speak of walking in the Spirit and being real with people and problems.

 

The programmed traffic light does not relate to the real world. It cannot "sense" anything. It only operates by certain pre-determined laws. The more modern light has an inner sensitivity, and is therefore more related to the traffic as it really is in the present moment. To walk in reality demands t h a t we become realists . A realist is not an optimist who only sees the bright side of things, nor is he a pessimist who only sees the dark side of things. A realist sees both the possibilities and the problems in every situation. He looks at things as they really are, but with an ability to face reality with a positive faith and walk through it victoriously. 

 

Religiosity operates by laws, rules and principles, and not necessarily in the flow of life that surrounds us. The Holy Spirit is a real, living person, dwelling inside me, who can speak, feel, guide and motivate from within.

 

The law said, "You shall not kill." And yet God said to Abraham, "Go to the mountain and sacrifice your son on an alter." Abraham knew what that meant. He was to put his son to death in obedience to a clear word from God.

 

Paul said, "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." And yet God told Hosea, the prophet, to marry a harlot. On another occasion, as the disciples walked across a field on the Sabbath day, they plucked a few ears of grain and ate them because they were hungry. Immediately they came under attack from the Pharisees because they were breaking the Sabbath. "Look, your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath!" said the Pharisees.

 

Jesus answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the House of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priest? Or, haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and are innocent?" 

 

God will never allow us to find any comfort in a system of law-keeping. We are dead to the law and the principle of law-keeping. This does not make us lawless, but rather, relates us to a higher law that enables us to do all the will of God without being bound legally under a system of law keeping.

 

Apostle Paul says, in Romans, Chapter 8, verses 1 through 4, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” 

 

Walking in reality involves trusting God for the up-to-date, “NOW” kind of guidance. As we walk through life we will not always find our particular problem spelled out in the written word. We must hear from God directly or by prophecy or word of knowledge or a dream or a vision, or even by angelic visitation such as Paul had during the storm at sea in Acts 27. In the midst of the storm an angel appeared to Paul and gave him a "NOW WORD" from God. Paul immediately shared this with the men aboard the ship. He said, "Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve, stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have f a i th in God that it will happen just as He told me." Faith came to Paul because he had received a personal word from God. Faith comes to us by hearing from God personally, whether it be from reading the Bible or from hearing the voice of God through some other channel.

 

Walking in reality involves:

 

Being filled with the Spirit. It is only by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can properly relate to reality. Every Christian should know beyond doubt that he has received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and is presently walking in the fullness of the Spirit.

 

Making certain I have a word from God before I move out in any direction. Paul says, “Faith comes by hearing . . . the word of God." The literal meaning of this verse is, "So then faith comes by hearing from God." Disobedience to the known will of God, whether from the written word or a word from the Lord, such as came to the prophet Jonah, will extinguish my spiritual sensitivity and distort my outlook on reality.

 

Submitting my personal, subjective guidance to my fellow workers for their counsel and wisdom. It is a dangerous thing to walk independently from the body of Christ and from God’s delegated authorities. The Word of God says, "With wise counsel make war." In another place it says, "In a multitude of counselors there is safety." (See also I Thessalonians 5:12-13, Hebrews 13:17, and Ephesians 4:11- 13.) 

 

We are being driven into a corner in the matter of walking in reality. But, thank God, it is a delightful one! That corner is walking in the Spirit and taking our life, our guidance, our wisdom, our all from Jesus moment by moment. Walking in reality is walking with Jesus and facing every situation in His strength and wisdom.

 

GO AHEAD . . . TAKE THE RISK!

 

Jesus said, “If you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:24)

God is very strict in this matter of interpersonal relationships within the Body of Christ. He will not even receive my worship while I have an unresolved quarrel with my brother or sister! Almost no one likes to take the risk of going directly to the person that has offended him. I often hear, "I'm just not one to confront. I never liked that kind of thing" . . . as if some of us were born with that wonderful something built right into our system that makes us delight in confrontation? I don't like it and I don't know anyone who does!

 

The easy way around face-to-face confrontation is to go to the person's "superior." We salve our conscience by reasoning that we do not want to embarrass him so we proceed to do the very thing that drives a sword right into his heart. Jesus said, "If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately." (Mt. 18:15) Instead we go to his supervisor and pour out our complaint in hopes that he will deal with the problem and we will avoid the pain, with no thought of the pain we are causing the one who offended us.

 

This may be acceptable in the world, but we are not of that system. We are of the Kingdom of God and we must operate according to the directions of King Jesus! And don't blame it on culture, either! We're talking about Kingdom Culture! The admonitions of Jesus concerning offenses applies to every child of God in every language, and in every culture!

 

So take the risk! Just today a brother shared a matter with me that had been related to him concerning another brother who had offended a sister here on a University Campus. The sister did not want to embarrass the offender by telling him his fault privately so she took the "no risk" way out and went to a brother whom she hoped would go to the offender. He did not. He came to me hoping I would go to him and correct the offense. By the time it got to me I imagine ten people had heard of the offense and by now this brother is bleeding to death with ten arrows sticking in his back.

 

It doesn't take much to kill a brother or a sister with words; words that often come in the guise of prayer. "Oh, we must pray for sister so-and-so, did you hear what happened?. . . bla, bla, bla, bla", juicy little morsels of gossip flow freely when it goes out as a “prayer request.” Does this build up the person or tear him/her to pieces? 

 

I said to the brother who came to me, "Go to the sister who came to you and tell her to obey Jesus' words in Mt. 18:15. And if she does not have the grace to go to him then let her forgive him in her heart and forget the offense." If she does not have the grace to forgive him and release herself, then she cannot go any further with God till she does. There are times when we need to change that word, “grace”, to another word, especially in such cases as those mentioned above, and call it just plain old “guts.”

 

I AM NOT AN EYE

 

In I Corinthians 12, Paul compares the Body of Christ to the human body as he explained spiritual gifts. “The body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, ‘I am not a hand, so I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘I am not an eye, so I am not of the body.’ Is it therefore not of the body?”

 

It is a "red letter" day in the life of the believer when he can say with freedom and release, "I am not an eye,” for in admitting that he is not an eye he will begin to discover who he really is in the body of Christ. At times it is necessary to find out what we are not before we can be sure of what we are.

 

For so many years of my walk with God, in my zeal I wanted to go everywhere and do everything. A missionary would come to our church and immediately I felt the call to go to the heathen tribes in the regions beyond. A chalk-talk artist would come and minister and in my excitement I would exclaim, "I can do that!" I would witness the dynamic ministry of an evangelist and long to be out on the road for God setting up a tent on a vacant lot to proclaim the Good News to the lost. Then there was the radio pastor, the pilot, the author, the teacher.

 

I have to admit that not only did I long to try my wings at all of the above, I drew a deep breath and took the leap into everything listed and more. Needless to say, I've suffered a lot of frustration and confusion over the years. But in spite of my "zeal without knowledge" all was not a total waste. But who knows what could have been accomplished if I had not gone off in so many directions at once?

 

Over the years, after a lot of unnecessary knocks God has worked in me a measure of grace and revelation so that now I'm comfortable to say, "I'm not an eye," or "I'm not a hand, or foot." But this release has brought to me the same boldness to say "I am an eye or a hand or a foot." For the same understanding that shows me what I am not, also frees me to say what I am in the Body of Christ. And whatever I am will surely come to light, not only to me but also to those with whom I am closely related in the Kingdom of God.

 

Have you found your identity within the Body of Christ? Have those who walk with you and labor with you in the Lord given clear confirmation to this? Are you trying to function as an eye when God has not called you or gifted you to be an eye? An absurdity that is pitiful to behold is an ear trying to do the work of an eye, or a hand trying to do the work of a foot. Lest we become such an absurdity to ourselves and to those around us, here are some matters to consider in seeking to discover our gifts and callings in God:

 

Seek not a place of prominence or influence. If it comes, do not run from it. Take your place as an eye if God has indeed made you an eye.

 

Seek not a ministry; seek to minister. The world is full of needy, hurting people who need help and encouragement. The spirit of a true servant does not clamor for recognition. A servant does not need a stage or a spotlight to do his work. He only needs to love God and his fellow man, and be willing to spend and be spent serving others.

 

Always remember that within the body of Christ there are no unimportant members. There are greater and lesser gifts but there is nothing to indicate that there are greater and lesser members. Your place and function in the body is as important and necessary as the eye. There is no real need to strive to be an eye when you could just relax and be what God has already made you to be, no matter what that is.

 

Do not be content to remain in the dark as to what you are. You need to know this and you have a right and responsibility to know. Pray that God will make this clear to you and to others. A tremendous release and freedom will be yours when you find your identity and placement in the Body of Christ.

 

Normally God will work with us along the lines of our desires and inclinations. What do you want to be? What do you like to do? Where have you been most successful? What is it you do with ease that others struggle to master? Remember the words of Jesus when there was an uproar when the woman poured the expensive ointment on the feet of Jesus. Some said, “This could have been sold and given to the poor! Why this waste? Jesus’ answer to them was, “Leave her alone. She has done what she could.”

 

The apostle Paul said, "It is God at work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." To the fully yielded and trusting child of God, there is that special promise. It is God who is working inside of you to make you want to do what He wants you to do. At the same time God is giving you the power to accomplish what He has motivated you to do. Such a release!! As we fully lean on Him in surrender and trust, He begins to move supernaturally within us, stirring up desires to "will and to do of His good pleasure."

 

The very first step in discovering our place and function within the Body of Christ is to renounce all self will and self determination and trust God to produce in us the divine motivation to function according to His predetermined will. He always gives the very best to those who leave the choice to Him.

 

I may have little to offer, but I can do what I can. You can do what you can. God has gifted us all with something to do to lay at the feet of Jesus. There is something for me to do which God will enable me to do. And just as it stood for a memorial to the woman who poured out her love for Jesus in the best way she could, so will what you and I do, stand as a memorial to the grace of God in the ages to come.

 

And remember, your function within the Body of Christ does not need a college degree or a PhD! But don’t worry . . . Jesus didn’t have one either! 

 

DEEPER LEVELS OF PRAYER

 

While in a group prayer meeting recently, the Lord revealed an exciting truth to me. It was a simple word that started me to thinking. He said, "You are always receiving more in the Spirit when you pray than you can experience or express." As I thought upon this word, I was encouraged, for who cannot testify that he has often felt very dry in his times of prayer? I certainly have, even in group prayer! I should say, especially in group prayer!

 

My first teachers in the life of faith leaned heavily on logic, intellect and reason. They taught me, not in so many words, but strongly implied, that in order for anything to have any spiritual value it had to pass the test of reason, knowledge and understanding. As if anything outside the realm of our understanding couldn't possibly have any value. This is a defective teaching in the light of the fact that there are so many mysteries in God and even in nature that go beyond the reach of our intellect and our understanding.

 

How can Jesus actually come into our spirit and make His home there?

 

How can the fullness of God in the person of Jesus Christ make me His home?

 

How does He change me into His image from one degree of glory to another?

 

How can He communicate to me without the use of words or consecutive thoughts?

 

How can I commune with Him in the spirit without speaking words to Him?

 

All of these questions and many more, make it clear to me that if we wait upon our understanding to catch up with reality, we will not experience very much growth in the things of the spirit. Spiritual growth does not depend entirely upon grasping truth with our minds. The deeper mysteries of God are perceived in the spirit and embraced by faith. Paul speaks of just such an experience when he says, "When I pray with my spirit, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful . . . He that speaks in tongues, speaks not to men but to God for no man understands him, howbeit in the spirit he is speaking mysteries . . . He that speaks in tongues edifies (builds up) himself.”

 

Those who have experienced speaking in tongues will agree that this is a form of communion with God and a release in the spirit into a new dimension of prayer that was not open to them in their own language. There is an opening up into a new realm of spiritual reality as we enter into this form of prayer. 

 

There is another level of prayer that also enters into the realm of the mystical and supernatural and which also goes beyond the reach of the intellect. This is a very simple form of prayer. Some may question as to whether it is actually prayer at all. It is mentioned in Romans 8:26, "The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that we cannot express . . . he intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." This is prayer that supersedes our intellect and reason for words are incapable of expressing this kind of prayer. But we know, according to what Paul says here, that it is prayer to God and that it is intercession for us and for the saints which is always in accord with God's perfect will. It is perfect prayer birthed in our spirit by the Holy Spirit.

 

Charles Spurgeon said of this kind of prayer, “There are some prayers that break the backs of words.”

 

In Romans 8:15 Paul says, "You have received the spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry 'Abba', Father." The spirit we have received is a praying spirit. He came into us crying. which means “crying out to the Father.” The Spirit of Jesus within us is a crying (praying) spirit. And He is continually praying, non-stop if He is not grieved, resisted, or quenched. This is unceasing prayer.

 

In Galatians 4:6 Paul says, "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.'" In Romans 8:15 it is 'we' who are crying "Abba, Father" by means of the Spirit of His Son, but in the Galatians passage it is the Spirit of His Son in us who is crying, “Abba, Father.” This is a form of silent prayer.

 

Even when we are not crying, or groaning, or speaking in tongues, or in our own language, there is a silent prayer ascending from our spirit to God by means of the Spirit of Jesus within us. Some have called this, "The prayer of silence".

 

There is a prayer of silence that we can enter into by a total surrender to the indwelling Christ. He prays for us, interceding for the saints, crying out to our Abba, Father, for us and through us in a prayer of silence. (the English equivalent of “Abba” is “Daddy.“)

 

The interaction between my spirit and the Spirit of God is not limited within the boundaries of my intelligence, knowledge, or understanding. There are levels of prayer that extend beyond into the mysteries of God that go beyond felt experience, or expression in human terms. There are times when we can only exclaim with Paul: "By faith we understand . . ." (Hebrews 11:3)

 

DEATH OF THE SELF LIFE

 

It is not easy to deny self, especially if self has been pampered and coddled and cajoled for many years. When Jesus said, "If any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" he was dealing with two separate issues: self denial and self death. 

 

The denial of self takes place before the death of self. The one must precede the other. You cannot take up your cross before you deny yourself. Self will never die until it is put on the cross, but, thank God, there is hope that self will die when it is put on the cross. But what is the difference between denying self and dying to self? Self denial is taking the bottle away from the sucking child. Oh, how the little one cries and wails. It is so painful! But after awhile, the pain ceases and there is a death to the bottle. Is God weaning you from something?

 

No one expects that it will feel good to die. We always expect that dying is a thing always to be shunned and never to be desired, but that is not always true. Death can be a friend, a welcome relief to the suffering that precedes death. This is true when it comes to the death of self. The death of self is to be deeply desired, for it is the self life that is the root cause of all sin and sin is the root of all our pain and problems.

 

Paul learned by experience what it was to take up the cross. He was so excited about the cross that he gloried in it. At one point he shouted, "God forbid that I should glory in anything except the cross of Christ by which the world is crucified to me and I unto the world.“ 

 

Have we ever felt that kind of excitement about being crucified? I doubt it. Why? It is because we never hear about the place of the cross in the life of the believer. We have been taught that only sinners need the cross and that once you have received Jesus at the cross and been forgiven of your sins through the blood of the cross you leave the cross and proceed to other things. The cross is no longer applicable. We used it once and that's that! Now that we are saved, we don’t need the cross anymore.

 

That is not how Paul viewed the cross. Paul took up his cross daily. He knew what it was to die to self. The death of self proceeds out of self denial and self crucifixion. The steps toward the death of self are: self denial, crucifixion, and death. I am so glad that there is an end to the process! It was death that brought relief to the martyrs who were burned at the stake. What a horrible thought that one would continue to burn without any hope of dying and being released from that awful agony! Paul expressed this glorious release when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. He put his death with Christ in the past tense. He had gone through the process of self denial, embracing the cross and dying to self. Self had died and it was dead! Christ was now his life. He had no other life source. I am sure you are struggling with some things in your life that you would like to die to. You have habits that drag you down and cover you with guilt. You have found that you are helpless against them for you have tried over and over again to get the victory but without success. This is where the cross and the death of self comes in. You must deny your deranged appetites their ravings and cravings until the constant crucifixion brings death. Then the struggle will cease, but just as there is pain in dying there will be pain involved in the mortification of the flesh. But, thank God, when you’re dead, you’re dead, and the pain of dying is over and done with.

 

"If you live after the flesh you shall die. But if you, through the Spirit do mortify (cause to die) the deeds of the flesh, you shall live." It is only through the spirit that this can be done, but, through the spirit, it can be done! 

 

GETTING LOOSE FROM A RELIGIOUS MIND

 

George Johnson had only been converted for a short time when he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and began to move freely in spiritual gifts. He soon became an ardent soul winner and an effective minister of the Gospel.

 

One thing that caught my attention was his absolute freedom from religion. He didn't use the "churchy" phrases or the King James English. He didn't weigh everything to see if it fit into his denomination's doctrinal statement. He didn’t know they had one! He never attended Bible school or seminary. He didn't change the tone of his voice when he prayed in public, but talked to God with honor and respect just as he would talk to a close friend. He had more liberty and power in his ministry than I did in mine and I had been a minister for 20 years before he ever became a Christian!

 

The Lord spoke to me one day and said, “Draw close to this young man.” We have had a father/son relationship now for over thirty years. George is pastor of a lively church in Mason City, Iowa, and has been for many years. He is doing the same for many men and women as I did for him . . . raising up sons and daughters to love and serve Jesus.

 

During those early years together, watching George grow in grace, I became aware of many areas of my own life in which I had become "religious minded." It had built so slowly and subtly within me that I had not realized what was happening.

 

I had been a Baptist for many years but I had always seen myself as being more open-minded than most of my brother pastors. However, I soon discovered that I had a Baptist mind. I looked at things as a Baptist does and not necessarily as God does.

 

As I sought the Lord in prayer and in His Word, He began to teach me about the perils of a religious mind:

 

It was a religious mind that blinded the Pharisees and made it impossible for them to recognize God when they came face to face with Him in the person of Jesus Christ.

 

It was religion that drove Saul of Tarsus to persecute the very God he was seeking to serve. 

 

It was in the name of religion that Jesus was crucified; "Blasphemy!" cried the religious leaders, "Crucify Him!!"

 

It was the religious mind that was disturbed and angered when Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath Day, whom Satan had bound for 18 years.

 

It was a religious mind that gave King Saul the idea to make an offering to God by sparing King Agag and the fattest of the cattle. The prophet thundered his disapproval, "Does God have as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as He does in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than to sacrifice and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry." (I Sam. 15:22-23)

 

We can never substitute religious works for simple obedience. To God there is no difference between "religious things" and "secular things" because "all things" concerning our daily lives are naked and open to Him, and at every moment we are either in the center of his will or we are doing our own thing in the strength of the flesh.

 

The brazen serpent which was at one time an instrument of God's deliverance became a snare to the people when they lifted it up and burned incense to it. (II Kings 13:4) If we try to program the present move of God or reduce it to a formula to use later, we are lifting up a brazen serpent. We must flow with what God is doing now! He has not led us to burn incense to memories of the past, but continue to flow with the River of Life that is flowing now! Man tends to build monuments to spiritual experiences and deify doctrine rather than to feel comfortable with a simple walk with God in the Spirit.

 

On the Mt. of Transfiguration after a tremendous spiritual experience, Peter said, "Let us build three tabernacles!" God rebuked Peter’s “good idea” and then underscored the one thing that is needful: "This is my beloved son, hear him!" 

 

Don't marry your church, your denomination, your Bible, your books, your tapes, your orthodoxy, your own understanding! Your Husband is Jesus! Worship Him! Suppose I got all enamored with my wife’s letters, her pictures, her cooking, her sewing, and never spent time with her? We must not lift up a brazen serpent of worship, prayer, fasting, church attendance, tithing, witnessing, giving, working, etc. These are only channels of deliverance and communion. They are not God! The spiritual mind is God's answer to the religious mind. "He that has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches."

 

"Corban" was a religious word in the time of Jesus. It meant "An offering to God, in fulfillment of a vow." The phrase was often used to avoid fulfilling the obligation of children to their parents. If a person said "Corban", it meant that he was no longer obligated by law to help his parents because he had dedicated his material wealth to God. Jesus said, "And many such like things do ye." (Mark 7:11-13)

 

Peter's religious observance of a past word from God would have made it impossible for him to go to the home of Cornelius if he had not changed his mind and said "Yes" to present guidance. (Acts 10)

 

God is shaking us loose from strictly formulated doctrinal positions, neat formulas, air tight theologies, iron-clad rules, rituals, laws, and principles, and is crowding us into a corner. And when we get fully and completely crowded into that corner we will be pleasantly surprised to find nothing and no one there in that corner, except Jesus only! And out of Jesus flows everything else . . . in delightfully overwhelming abundance!

 

WALKING THROUGH YOUR WILDERNESS

 

Have you ever prayed, "Lord, be relentless with me!" and really meant it? The heart burden of that prayer is an intense desire that God will bring to completion all His purposes for your life, no matter what it costs in sacrifice or suffering or discipline or patience! If I honestly pray such a prayer I may be setting the stage for difficult times ahead. Difficult? Yes! But full of excitement, fruitfulness, and fulfillment!

 

God will not pamper me nor will He spare me the pains that are necessary to bring me up to the measure He designed for me to fill. If God has appointed for me a task of deliverance or leadership, I will, in the process of preparation, walk through a wilderness experience that might be more pronounced and intense than the common ordinary variety.

 

Jesus was in the wilderness forty days tempted of the devil, but he came forth from that intense time of testing in the power of the Holy Spirit and began to cast out demons, heal the sick, and bring deliverance to the captives. As a very young man (a Jewish boy becomes a young man at the age of twelve) Jesus felt his calling and sought to begin his spiritual ministry when he was only twelve years old. He said to his mother, "Didn't you know that I must be about my Father's business?" when she upbraided him for staying in the Temple in Jerusalem when he was expected to leave for home after the Passover festival when all the rest of his people left.

 

With his calling burning inside him even at that young age, he was willing to wait  another eighteen years before he would begin his ministry of preaching, teaching, healing and deliverance. Right after his baptism, ". . .  immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness." The word "drove" in Mark 1:12 indicates how important this wilderness experience was. This was no gentle leading. The word carries a burning urgency. Jesus was compelled by the Spirit. It was something Jesus, as a man, could not avoid if He was to fulfill all He was sent to do and to be. 

 

God gave Abraham a promise of unusual fruitfulness, prosperity, and influence, but between the time of the promise and the time of fulfillment lay a wilderness of twenty five years walking by faith with no sign of the promised blessing. This long wait was necessary to perfect Abram as the father of those who walk in faith and to help him accept the name Abraham instead of Abram. Abram means "exalted father" but Abraham means "father of a multitude."

 

Joseph, as a young man, had dreams of being used of God in a place of responsibility and authority. He saw the vision long before he was qualified to assume the role. Joseph had to walk through an agonizing wilderness of reproach, resentment, false accusation, slavery, and imprisonment before he was ready to function effectively as the Prime Minister of Egypt and the deliverer of Israel in a time of famine.

 

The apostle Paul, after he received Christ on the road to Damascus, walked through his wilderness in Arabia before he emerged as a leader among God's people in the early church. If we knew the spiritual biography of every man or woman whom God has used, we would surely see that they all had something in common. They could all point to a wilderness they walked through before they came into an experience of usefulness to God and humanity.

 

Are you faced with a wilderness experience that you have sought to avoid? Is the Holy Spirit urging you to a course of action that will result in personal development for you and deliverance for those who sit in darkness?

 

Moses became a leader and a deliverer only after he spent forty years in a lonely wilderness. When he was finally convinced that he was nothing in his own strength, then God appeared to him and called upon him to go in the strength and authority of Jehovah and deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage. If we can see the true nature of our wilderness and what God designs for us in it, we will be better able to bear the pain of walking through it. Here are some things to consider about your own personal wilderness:

 

First, your wilderness is good for you. The Spirit drives or urges you into your wilderness because it is the will of God for you and the will of God is always good.

 

Second, your wilderness will be uncomfortable. It is a time of fiery trial, testing and discipline. It is written of Jesus in the book of Hebrews that "Although He was a son, yet He learned obedience by the things which he suffered." Down through the ages, men and women of God who have been mightily used of God have gone through the fire and through the flood in some personal way. Praise God for the promise in Isaiah 43:2 that when we to through the floods He will be with us and they will not sweep us away. And when we go through the fire, we will not be burned!

 

Third, your wilderness points to an increase in power and effectiveness. The scope and measure of your wilderness and your ministry will be unique to you, but there will be a great deliverance wrought for you and for others as a result of your cooperation with God in walking patiently through your wilderness.

 

Fourth, your wilderness is a time of character building. The apostle Paul said, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us." Your wilderness will lead you through suffering, hardship, discipline, misunderstandings, and many other unpleasant experiences but God is building into your inner man patience, wisdom, perseverance, knowledge, and forbearance. 

 

Will you now accept and embrace your wilderness and walk patiently through it for the glory of God? It is important that we understand this, for if we walk complaining and murmuring with every step, we may never see the full extent of Gods plan and purpose for us. But if we will recognize it, embrace it, and walk through it with the praises of God in our hearts and on our lips, God will bring us into a large and fruitful place! You will be totally fulfilled for you will see His glory revealed in you and through you to the building and expansion of Christ's Kingdom in the earth.

 

THE END OF THE STRUGGLE

 

"They do not know God's righteousness, and since all the time they are going about trying to prove their own righteousness, they have the wrong attitude to receive His. For Christ means the end of the struggle for righteousness-by-the-law for everyone who believes in Him." (Romans 10:2-4 - Phillips)

 

"If you try to be justified by the law you automatically cut yourselves off from the power of Christ. You put yourself outside the range of His grace." (Galatians 5:4 - Phillips)

 

If deception were easy to detect, it would not be deception. Satan is the master deceiver, for he disguises his voice to sound just like the voice of the Lord. He appears as an angel of light and tells you something that is right and good, and yet it is calculated to land you in a prison house of despair.

 

I have been going through a struggle. Many years ago I thought I heard the voice of the Lord telling me that I should fast. This was to be a fast in preparation for launching out into a new phase of ministry as well as to heal me of some physical problems. I felt it was to be a complete fast of forty days.

 

How many times I have tried to comply with that "word," I cannot tell. But each time I tried, I failed. Then I would be faced with periods of guilt, condemnation and depression. Somehow, as time went on, the thought settled over me that I would never be healed or never be anointed for a powerful ministry if I didn't complete that long fast. And furthermore, I was willing to accept that thought for I felt I deserved the pain of a long fast because I believed my physical problems were somehow due to my own eating habits.

 

I had read how men and women of God had been launched into powerful deliverance ministries immediately after a long fast. So I was willing to suffer through a long fast in order to pay the price for spiritual power and to be healed of some long-standing physical problems.

 

However, as the months rolled on into years, and my struggle to achieve this fast became more intense, I began to question the source of this guidance. At times I was sure it was God, but at times I was not so sure. What I did not realize was that slowly but surely, the basis of my trust was being shifted away from Jesus to another foundation. I found myself able to believe and perform when I was fasting but crippled in my faith when I was not fasting. I can remember many times during this long struggle that I cried out in bitterness, "0 God, I wish I had never heard of fasting!"

 

Fasting had become my only hope. It had taken the place of Jesus as my Savior, and I was not enjoying my Christian life very much at all. Yet I struggled on. "Lord, I failed that time, but I'll try again!" 

 

The Devil fortified his hold on me by quoting scriptures, "Remember Naaman, the leper? He didn't get his healing until he obeyed the word of God through the prophet to go and dip seven times in the Jordan. Your word is to fast 40 days, then you will be healed. It sounded right to me. I would receive that scripture as the Word of the Lord to me as the solution to my problem and try again. But the Enemy is good at quoting scripture. 

 

Once I felt I almost made it. I fasted 14 days—the first 4 days with water only, and the next ten days on lemon and honey water and oranges. I was definitely helped physically. In fact, all my fasts have had a wholesome cleansing effect on my body, but as I look back on it now, the killing element was in the fact that it was a growing, death-dealing legalism. 

 

I had fallen into the same error into which the Galatians fell, that of having begun in the spirit, I was now seeking to be made perfect by the flesh. I had made my religious observances my Savior. Jesus had become secondary. He was there to help me, but I must do the work. If I could perform, I would be blessed. If I could fast, I would be healed, anointed, cleansed, blessed, and mightily used of God to bring life to the people to whom I ministered. It had come to the point that everything in my life depended on my ability to finish this long fast.

 

I kept hearing, "The Spirit drove [a strong word of compulsion] Jesus into the wilderness to fast." Then I would hear, “The reason you feel so strongly about this fast is because you, too, are being driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to fast. And just as Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit, so will you, and you will be able to release the captives if only you will complete the fast.”

 

Not only did my foundation shift, but my focus shifted as well. I now had my eyes on the fast, or rather on myself. If I could do it . . . if I could only do it . . . then my whole world would be brighter and happier. I began to suffer pain at night, with long hours of sleeplessness, as I fought off thoughts of self condemnation. Even when I slept, I would dream agonizing dreams, or see myself rejected as ineffective and powerless as a man of God. The words of Job so clearly expressed my plight:

 

"I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. When I lie down I think, 'How long before I get up?' The night drags on and I toss 'til dawn . . . when I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions."

 

Then in my distress I cried out to the Lord, and He heard my cry, "Where am I, Lord? Why has this come upon me? Lord, reveal to me your power and draw me out of this dark, stinking, hellish pit!" One morning after I had walked my daughter Judy to her school bus stop, I decided to take a longer walk. It was such a beautiful morning, and yet I was still under this struggle inwardly, feeling like an enemy of God rather than a friend—much less a beloved son. 

 

As I walked along, the words of an old hymn we used to sing in my youth back in Texas began to rise up in my heart and I started to sing. As I sang, the tears began to flow and I began to feel a sweet release.

 

"My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus' blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand.

 

His oath, His covenant, His blood,

Support me in the whelming flood.

When all around my soul gives way,

He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ the solid rock I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand

All other ground is sinking sand

 

When darkness seems to hide His face,

I rest on His unchanging grace.

In every high and stormy gale,

My anchor holds within the Vail.

On Christ the solid rock I stand.

All other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand.”

 

When He shall come with trumpet sound

Oh, may I then in him be found

Dressed in His righteousness alone

Faultless to stand before the Throne

On Christ the solid rock I stand.

All other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand.”

 

Oh, how I needed to hear and receive those precious words! How desperately I needed my foundation restored. It was Jesus and not fasting, not prayer, not gifts, not anointing, or any other thing. He was indeed the end of the struggle for righteousness, peace, power, healing, anointing, guidance, fulfillment, and everything else. The struggle was all a subtle snare. I had been caught up in self-effort. I was no less a Pharisee than Saul of Tarsus whose fanatical religious zeal for God took him to the extremes of murdering those who called upon the name of Jesus.

 

Praise God, the struggle is over! I have a Savior again. His name is Jesus. He is for me, not against me. He is my Healer. He is my perfect 40 day fast! It is the power of His Spirit whose anointing abides upon me. Fasting has its place and temperance in all things, yes! But it is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus who is The Fountainhead, The Vine, The Rock from whence we are hewn. All else must be an outflow from the life of Jesus within. That which issues out of a framework of law and legalism promotes death. That which proceeds from a framework of grace ministers life and peace.

 

I again received Christ Jesus as my Savior, my Lord, my Life, my Strength, my Healer, my Health, my Authority to heal, my Power to minister, and . . . I have in faith received Him as my forty day fast! The Lord reminded me that not only was his death accredited to my account, but his life also. Everything he is and everything he did has been accredited to my account, and that includes his forty day fast. In Christ I have fasted forty days! He will surely take the struggle out of my walk with him and in my service to others.

 

"For I can testify about them (the Jews) that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God, and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." (Romans 10:2-4)

 

THE BIRTHING PROCESS

 

If it has been hard for you to endure the process of giving birth to the vision the Lord has given you, It is a good sign that you are on the right track!

 

My wife, Joni and I, have given birth to seven children and we now have nineteen grandchildren, one of which Joni and I delivered ourselves, with some help from the midwife on her cell phone as she sped toward our house in the early morning hour. We know something about the birthing process. 

 

We all know that there is pain associated with childbirth. There is also some pain connected with giving birth to the vision of the Lord. Joni had "morning sickness" for almost the full nine months with all seven of our children, not to mention the labor pains at the coming forth of that new life.

 

Do not be discouraged if the will of God for you brings suffering. Hold on to the vision. It is the test of your faith that is more precious than gold. You are being shaped into the instrument God will use in bringing this vision into its fullness. The new born babe will surely come forth and you will say, "It was worth all the waiting, the praying, the changing, and the stretching necessary to give birth to the heavenly vision."

 

Joni and I both feel like we are at the river Jordan and about to enter the Promised Land. We have been walking across a very long desert that started when we moved from Riverside, CA to San Diego, CA to be closer to the fellowship with which we were connected. It was our first taste of desert life. We were part of the Discipleship Movement which ran aground in a subtle form of legalism. 

 

After withering in the desolation of that dry desert for about five years, we left and gained a measure of release, but we still had more years of "the dark night of the soul" to walk through. I cannot explain the "Why?" of all this, but I am beginning to rejoice that we are seeing the first glimpses of the birth of the vision.

 

What is the vision? In 1969 while we were on the staff of the Child Evangelism Fellowship Institute in Muskegon, Michigan, the Lord put a prayer in my heart to hold onto until it happened, even if it took years of prayer, faith, and patience to see it come forth. This was the prayer he gave me based on Psalm 2:8, “Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.” After much meditation on that promise, I began to pray, "Father, give me disciples in every country in the world." I had also read that little prayer that Jabez prayed in I Chronicles 4:9-10, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” - NIV

 

I knew that such a vision was humanly impossible to accomplish, but the Lord told me to ask for the nations and I did. I never dreamed it would take nearly 40 years of preparation, but as I look around me now and see what the Lord is doing, I am saying,“Thank you, Father, for letting me live to see the birth of the vision! Though the process was long and painful, It was worth it all!" 

 

Jesus said, "When a woman is in travail she has sorrow because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish for joy that a child is born into the world." Are you feeling birth pangs? Be encouraged! Look to Jesus, keep on pushing, and let the baby come forth! And remember that the word “push“ in the Kingdom of God, stands for Pray Until Something Happens.

 

AFTER WORD

 

Much of what I have shared above, as you have seen, has come out my own walk with Jesus down through the years. It is not just theory or theology, but real, live, flesh and blood doings, goings, victories and failings. I pray these pages will minister hope, strength, and encouragement to you in every phase of your life and your ongoing ministry to others.

 

Some of these insights will leap out at you and those are the ones to go back and read again and again. The word of God is alive and powerful to transform our lives. May God use these words to minister deeply into your heart and life is my prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN [Robert Fitts]          50

Pin It on Pinterest