GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN
TABLE OF CONTENTS
GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN
VISION, VALLEY, FULFILLMENT
DIGGING YOUR DITCHES
DON’T DOUBT in the DARK
MOSES TURNED ASIDE
KEEP on PLODDING
INVEST in YOUR VISION
FINANCED by FAITH
LORD of the BREAKTHROUGH
THE CROSS, THE CUP, THE YOKE, and THE WILL of GOD
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?
PUTTING the CROSS to WORK in YOUR LIFE
DARK, UGLY, STINKY THINGS
ASKING for ALL THESE THINGS
FROM GLORY to GLORY GOD is CHANGING ME
DAVID and JONATHAN
AND NOW a WORD from the LORD to YOU
THE BEST THING for ME is NOT ALWAYS PLEASANT
WHERE HE LEADS ME I WILL FOLLOW
A THREE STEP PRAYER for GUIDANCE
WHAT GOD SAYS ONCE, HE SAYS AGAIN and AGAIN
A DAILY PRAYER of CONFESSION
I CAN ONLY DO MY PART
DO NOT LAY THEM AGAIN
OBEYING OUT of the MUDDLE
DO YOU HAVE a GOAL?
GOING BACK to NINEVEH
THE END of the SACRED and the SECULAR
WALKING in REALITY
GO AHEAD…TAKE the RISK!
I AM NOT an EYE
DEEPER LEVEIS of PRAYER
THE DEATH of SELF
GETTING LOOSE from
WALKING THROUGH YOUR WILDERNESS
THE END of the STRUGGLE
THE BIRTHING PROCESS
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.
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,
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 . . .
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.
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
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,
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
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
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.
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.’”
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.
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.
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
"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
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
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
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
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,
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.
FINANCED BY FAITH
The call to
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
In the above passage we see,
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."
"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."
"One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty."
"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."
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!
As David and his men fought the enemy, the Lord gave them a mighty victory.
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
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
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.
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.
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?"
If you need a breakthrough in some other area, go before God and ask him a direct question.
THE CROSS, THE CUP, THE YOKE, AND THE WILL OF GOD
Jesus taught us to pray,
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.'"
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' yoke is His will. He is really saying,
The Cup also speaks of the will of God. Jesus prayed in the garden the night before He was crucified,
The Cross also speaks of the will of God embraced and carried at all times.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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."
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,
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
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,
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:
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."
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.
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.
"NEVER GIVE UP!"
"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,
"After all these things do the Gentiles seek."
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,
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,
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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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.
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:
You may be saying,
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?
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,
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.
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,
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,
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."
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,
Paul later wrote to Timothy and said,
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,
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,
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.
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:
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:
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,
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."
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."
"He leads me in the paths of righteousness."
"He will send His angel before you."
"Be not unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is."
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches."
"A voice behind you saying, 'this is the way, walk in it "'
"While I was in the way the Lord led me."
"The sheep listen to His voice and follow Him because they know His
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:
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,
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,
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:
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,
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
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
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
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
After Paul had the vision of the man in Macedonia
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,
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.'
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
Ask any sincere believer if he knows he should pray more than he does. The answer is always the same.
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.
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
"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
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!
When I was eleven years old I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
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,
Concerning works, Paul said,
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
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.
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.
He expresses it another way in Galatians;
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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:
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,
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 . .
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,
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
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."
"The Lord provided a great fish."
"The Lord commanded the fish."
"The Lord provided a vine."
"God provided a worm."
"God provided a scorching east wind."
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
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:
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
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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,
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
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,
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,
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,
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!
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
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,
This may be acceptable in the world, but we are not of that system. We are of the
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
It is a "red letter" day in the life of the believer when he can say with freedom and release,
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,
The apostle Paul said,
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,
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
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
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:
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,
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,
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,
"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."
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,
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;
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,
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
The brazen serpent which was at one time an instrument of God's
On the Mt. of Transfiguration after a tremendous spiritual experience, Peter said,
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."
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,
With his calling burning inside him even at that young age,
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
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
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,
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."
"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."
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
"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."
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
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
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
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.