A New Year prayer: “Teach us Lord, to number our days, so that we can present to Thee a heart full of wisdom” (Psalms 90:12)
Spiritual growth and transformation into Christlikeness do not happen overnight. It happens slowly – day by day and little by little. As we sing in the chorus: “Little by little and day by day; little by little in every way, my Jesus is changing me; I am not the same as I was last year; and though the picture is not quite clear, I know He is changing me; Although it’s slow going, this I am knowing – that one day like Him I shall be”. So, let us yield ourselves to the Lord every day this year, so that He can do that work of transformation in us.
Transformed by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word
When the Holy Spirit is allowed to be Lord in our lives, He will liberate us first of all (2 Corinthians 3:17) – freeing us from the power of sin, from the love of money, from the traditions of men that are contrary to the Word of God, and from being enslaved to the opinions of people. The Holy Spirit will then show us the glory of Jesus in the Scriptures and seek to transform us slowly into that likeness, by changing our way of thinking so that we begin to think the way Jesus thought (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 12:2). The Holy Spirit wants to do that work in us this year. So, submit to Him.
Transformed by Praise and Thanksgiving
“Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:18-20). The Holy Spirit wants to give us a spirit of thankfulness that frees us from all gossip, slander, bitterness, and anger. In the seven glimpses of heaven that we see in the book of Revelation, we find that the inhabitants of heaven are constantly praising God. The atmosphere of heaven is one of constant praise, without any complaining or grumbling. The Holy Spirit wants to bring this atmosphere into our hearts and into our homes this year. So, submit to Him.
Transformed by the Grace of God
“The grace of God enables us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live in a righteous, godly way in this evil world” Titus 2:11-12. God wants to transform our thought-life through His grace and make our speech so gracious that it blesses everyone we meet this year (Colossians 4:6). God’s grace also wants to transform the way husbands and wives behave towards each other this year (1 Peter 3:7). And in every trial that we face this year, God can give us grace that is sufficient to meet the need (2 Corinthians 12:9). So, humble yourself in every situation this year – for God gives His grace only to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).
Transformed by Obedience
We are told that Jesus “learned obedience through the things He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). Anything that His Father said “No” to, Jesus also said, “No” to. That involved the suffering of denying His own will always. After years of such self-denial, “Jesus was made perfect” (Hebrews 5:9). “Perfect” here means “complete”. In other words, Jesus graduated from the school of obedience and got His degree. This is the degree the Holy Spirit wants us to get too. So, He will take us through many tests. If we fail in any test, He will give us a chance to do it again! He wants us to get the same “degree” that Jesus got and to make us overcomers (Revelation 3:21)! This is the most important degree that we can ever get. So, this year, let us say “No” to our own will and “Yes” to God’s will in every situation, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Transformed by Encouragement from God
“God wants to encourage us in all our trials, so that we can encourage others with the same encouragement that He gives us in our trials” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). We are surrounded by people who are facing many trials and problems. If we want to help them to overcome, we have to go through many trials and problems ourselves first and overcome. The strength and encouragement that God gives us to overcome in our trials will then be what we can offer to others. God wants to make us a blessing to every person and every family that we meet this year (See Galatians 3:8-9, 14). He wants us to encourage someone or the other every day of this year (Read Hebrews 3:13). May it be so.
Without this transformation of the heart, these fruits can’t be produced and in this case, you are just a false convert on your way to hell unless you truly repent.
7 Fruits Of Repentance You Need To Have
Here are the 7 fruits of repentance that every repentant and genuinely born-again Christian shows when they become saved.
Willing To Forsake One’s Sins.
New Life & New Birth.
New Desire For Righteousness.
1. Godly Sorrow
One of the most important fruits of repentance that will show that your repentance is genuine will be godly sorrow for your sins that lead to salvation and the forgiveness of one’s sins (2 Corinthian 7:10).
Godly sorrow simply means feeling sorry and remorseful for your sinful actions and deeds against God because you now realize that sin hurts God.
And it’s this godly sorrow of your sins that will want you to repent and turn away from your sins once and for all because you will now realize that you don’t want to offend the Lord Jesus Christ as sin is offensive to Him.
Without godly sorrow for one’s sins, true repentance that leads to salvation and eternal life cannot occur as this still shows that one is still in love with their sinful lifestyle and has no intention of turning away from it.
It’s quite amazing that even some people laugh when they go to the altar call to repent when they must be weeping and feeling remorseful for their evil deeds.
And such people can never have real repentance in their lives unless they change their attitude and become serious with God they are offending with their sins. Have godly sorrow if you want to be truly saved as real salvation only comes through godly sorrow that leads to repentance.
2. Willing To Forsake One’s Sins
If your repentance is genuine, you will be willing to forsake your former sinful life to start now following after righteousness and holiness instead.
No longer will your past sinful lifestyle be as appealing and attractive anymore as it was when you were not saved. Living a life of holiness that is above sin is what will become appealing to you now.
Remember, the bible in Proverbs 28:13 states that it’s the one who is willing to repent, confess and forsake their sins that will receive mercy and pardon for their sins.
Sadly, most people only repent but aren’t willing to forsake the old sinful lifestyle that is just leading them to eternal damnation in hellfire as sin only brings death to one’s life (Romans 6:23).
And such people haven’t yet experienced the saving faith of our Lord Jesus Christ as they are not truly pertinent to their sins which is why they return to their old vomit just a few minutes after denouncing them on the altar call in church.
God’s forgiveness of one’s sins will only be made available to those who are willing to turn away from their sins because this is what real repentance is all about.
You can’t say you have genuine repentance in your life if you are still in life with your sins because if you have truly repented of your sins, you will bring forth the fruits of repentance that John the Baptists talks about in Matthews 3:8.
3. New Life & New Birth
Genuine repentance always comes with new birth and a new life one inherits at salvation when one truly repents of their sins.
This new life and new birth in Christ is made possible by the transforming and renewing power of the Holy Spirit that regenerates one’s life to conform to the image of Jesus Christ.
You can’t talk about real repentance without having this new life and birth in Christ Jesus because having a new life is what being born again is all about.
It’s this new birth in Christ that will now make you want to follow after righteousness and holiness of which without, no one will see the Lord or make it for heaven (Hebrews 12:14).
The bible also says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that if any man is in Christ is a new creature and the old things have passed away and all things have become new.
Implying that as a new creation in Christ, you will have a new life characterized by holiness and righteousness and you will no longer live your old life of sin.
And if you have truly repented of your sins, you will have this new life in Christ that makes you want to live godly in this present evil word by God’s grace that brings salvation to all men and teaches us to deny all forms of ungodliness and worldly lusts(Titus 2:11).
4. Eternal Life
Eternal life is by far the most important fruit of repentance you must have because, without it, you won’t be saved from the coming wrath and Judgment that will come upon all unrepentant sinners.
True repentance can’t be without eternal life and if that’s the case then your repentance is fake and a signal that you are not genuinely saved yet with real salvation that always produces fruits of repentance.
If repentance had no eternal life, then it will be futile and useless because in that case, it wouldn’t save you from God’s wrath to come.
And since real repentance always leads to salvation and then eternal life, it, therefore, follows that every truly repentant sinner has eternal life obtained after the forgiveness of their sins at salvation.
So, if you claim to be saved, ensure that you have this eternal life because, without it, you will be eternally doomed in hellfire with the devil and his angels forever.
If you don’t have this eternal life in your life, then you need to closely and carefully examine your Christian life to ensure that you haven’t missed the mark because if you do dear, it’s game over.
5. New Heart
A new heart is also among the most important seven fruits of repentance that will manifest in your life if your repentance is genuine.
Having a new heart, in this case, means that you now have a new Christ-like heart that will make you want to follow after righteousness and live a holy life that is free from sin.
The Lord in Ezekiel 36:26promises to give us a new heart and a new spirit that will make us love and serve Him as well as cleanse us from all the idols that hinder us from serving Him with all our hearts.
It’s this new heart the Lord promises to give us after truly repenting and confessing our sins on the altar call that will enable us to live godly in this present evil world by abstaining from all appearances of evil and worldly lusts (2 Thessalonians 5:17-19).
Naturally, we all have sinful and wicked hearts that make us do bad things we know we must not do due to the sinful nature we all have that we inherited from our first parents when they fell from grace by eating the forbidden fruit.
But after genuine repentance that leads to salvation and thereby eternal life, Jesus will give you a new heart that will be pure and hate sin. Instead of desiring sin, you will now desire righteousness only and no longer walk according to your former sinful lusts of the flesh.
If your repentance is fake, you won’t have this new heart that will make you hate sin and live a life of holiness and purity of heart of which without, you won’t ever see God or go to heaven.
It’s just a matter of fact that you will want to be baptized to be filled with the Holy Ghost after getting saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the author of our salvation.
Even God’s word says in Acts 2:38 that true repentance is always followed by baptism in the Holy Spirit that helps us live victorious Christian lives that are above sin.
Without the Holy Spirit that is obtained by baptism in water, you will struggle big time in your Christian life in overcoming evil.
While baptism alone doesn’t save one from sin contrary to what some believe, it signifies that you are now alive in Christ and dead to sin or the old nature that made you sin in the first place.
And this is why you must be baptized after you have obtained mercy and forgiveness of your sins so that you can show to the world that you are now a disciple of Christ.
Secondly, baptism is a commandment from our Lord Jesus Christ as He was baptized in river Jordan by John the Baptist.
If you aren’t willing to be baptized after repenting of your sins, then something is wrong about your repentance that you need to critically examine to see if you are truly saved.
7. New Desire For Righteousness
Wanting to follow after righteousness is another vital fruit of repentance that will manifest if your repentance is genuine.
And this new desire to live a holy life and hate all manner of evil that you once loved will be because of the new heart the Lord has given you at salvation.
If you don’t have this desire to follow after righteousness, then you have not truly repented of your sins or experienced the new birth in Christ to help you live a godly life of holiness.
It’s one of the most important signs that will show if you are truly born again. If you are not saved, you won’t desire to live a holy life, and evil in this case will be more appealing to you.
Sadly, most people claim to be saved but are still in love with their evil ways of unrighteousness but these people are just deceiving themselves, unfortunately.
But if you are truly born again, you will hate and detest the sins you once loved in your old sinful nature and shun them at all costs.
Instead, you will now dedicate your life to living godly in this present evil world which is possible by God’s grace that is more than sufficient for you to do so. Just say no sin, dear.
These are all the seven fruits of repentance you need to know to help you know if your repentance is genuine or fake.
And if you aren’t exhibiting the above fruits, it clearly shows you aren’t truly saved yet but if you want to be saved and be sure of your salvation, check out this post on how to be saved today.
In closing, if you found this post useful, kindly share it with others so that they can benefit as well just as you have. Thanks and stay blessed.
I want to speak today on grace and power in the Holy Spirit. I want to begin with the first promise in the New Testament. Yesterday I mentioned, that when we come to the Word of God, if we don’t come with an open mind, we may not see new truths. We’ll see the old truths again and again, and perhaps new illustrations to explain the old truths. But if I come to God’s Word thinking that I’ve already understood everything God has to show me, I can miss something new God has for me. And one of the things I decided many years ago was that I’d always let God change my thinking if there was something I had not understood properly, that He would correct it and lead me into that, which was correct; that He’d help me to understand His ways, even if it brought me into conflict with a lot of, what is known as Christianity.
Now you’ve got to be willing to pay that price… if God sees in any of our hearts, the desire to find security in people around us and not in Him alone, He won’t lead us on. If He sees in us a slight desire to please someone……do you know what the Word of God says? “If I seek to please men, I cannot be the servant of Christ.” So I want to invite you, to open your minds, as you hear and say, “Lord, show me, is this your Word or not? Correct my thinking. Lead me, in the path which is right.” And let God convince you. Very often when I speak to people, they say, “Yes, I’m gripped….” And I say, “Hang on. You’re convinced because I said it. And you’ve got some respect for me. Take that before God. You got it second-hand from me. Take it before God and make it first-hand. Let Him convince you from His Word. And then you’ll never shake.”
Okay, the first promise in the New Testament, is found in Matthew 1, in verse 21. The very first promise in the New Testament, where the angel told Joseph that this little baby that is going to be born to Mary, “His name shall be called Jesus,” because, “He will save His people from their sins.” That’s the first promise in the New Testament. “He will save His people from their sins.” And that’s why His name is Jesus. Many people who use the name Jesus don’t know why He is called Jesus. Here the angel explains it. “His name shall be called Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.” Now we use the word “save” very frequently. And very often, we equate being “saved” with being forgiven. Now that’s not true. And that’s the distinction I want to make here. This is a new covenant. As soon as you come to this, the previous page says, New Testament. It’s a new covenant. This is something new! Which they didn’t have in the Old Testament. They had forgiveness in Old Testament. Psalm 103, a thousand years before Christ was born, David said, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and forget not all His benefits; One who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who crowns your life with good things….” That’s material blessing. They had forgiveness from sins, healing from sickness, material blessing, in the Old Testament. What they didn’t have, was being Saved from sin. That’s why the New Testament begins, with this as the very first promise. This is the distinctive feature of the New Covenant! David could not say, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, who saves me from sin in my life….” No…He could only say “God forgives me.” What is the difference of me being forgiven and being saved from sin? Now very often when we talk about being saved, we talk about being saved from the wrath of God. That’s in a moment, when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. Without any works… “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling…” That’s the only way to be saved from the wrath of God. That is salvation from the penalty of sin.
But now there is another salvation, from the power of sin. And that’s what it’s speaking of here. One day in the future, we’ll be saved from the presence of sin, altogether. That’s future. But right now, in between the time I was born-again, and the time Jesus comes again, I am to be saved from the power of sin. That’s what’s being spoken of here. To use a illustration – If my little five-year old son was going outside the house, and I said, “Son, be careful, they’re digging up the road there, they made a big, huge eight-foot pit there and don’t go anywhere near it.” And like little boys are, they disobey. And he falls into the pit and says, “Daddy!” And I come running and I say, “What’s the matter son?” And he says, “Well Daddy, I’m sorry, I disobeyed you.” He’s there in the pit… And I say, “Okay son, you’re forgiven, goodbye.” I want to ask you a question. Have I forgiven him? Have I saved him? That’s the difference. That’s the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
In the Old Covenant, they were forgiven, but they will still in the pit. They had to keep offering sacrifices everyday. But now with One Sacrifice, it says, it’s all over. We cannot only be forgiven, we can be saved. “You shall call His name, “Jesus”, because, it’s not He will forgive their sins, but “He will save His people, from their sins.” He will save His people from their dirty thoughts, and lustful thinking, and from their anger and from their bitterness against their wives and from jealousy and strife and every other form of evil. That’s why we call Him, Jesus! That’s the message of the New Covenant! And if you haven’t experienced it, it’s because the god of this world, the devil, has blinded our eyes, to the full gospel.
See, this is an expression that is used a lot in the world today, “Full Gospel”. People say we’re a “Full Gospel” Church. But what’s the full gospel? It’s being saved from our sins. It’s no use saying we’re a “Full Gospel” Church if people living inside there are still defeated by sin. Whatever gift of the Spirit they may have. Jesus came to save us from sin. That is the Full Good News. That I’m not only saved from the wrath of God, but I can be saved from this, wretched, sinful flesh of mine that has kept pulling me down, down, down, for so many years. You know, I have heard of a particular lunatic asylum, where they give a little test to see whether a man has come back to his senses or not. They put him in a room with a tap open, a faucet open, and the water flowing, and they give him a bucket and a mop to dry the floor. And if he tries to dry the floor without first closing the tap, they know he still needs to stay there a little longer. It’ll never end! He’ll be mopping the floor all his life! But you know, that’s what Christians do with the Blood of Jesus Christ. It never ends! We’re mopping, and mopping , and mopping….. well, that’s at least good news that we’ve got a mop and a bucket, but I want to say, the gospel is even better to use than that. God can do something about that “tap”. Otherwise, it really wouldn’t be “Good News”! If all that God could say to me was, “Well, you’re going to be forgiven, but you’re going to be defeated by the same old lusts, all your life.” I’d say, “Well, thank you Lord, but I’d hoped it would be better than that.” And it is better than that. “You shall call His name, “Jesus”, because He shall save His people from their sins.” The very first promise, as soon as you turn, to the pages of the New Testament. But we missed it! We thought it was all genealogy. “Somebody begat so and so, and somebody begat so and so…..” And you didn’t come to this verse. And you turned over, and rushed through. But this is the very first promise in the New Testament. Salvation from sin.
I want to turn to Hebrews in chapter 4, we read verse 15 and 16; “We don’t have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,…” In other words, to put it in a positive way, “We have a High Priest, who can sympathize with our weaknesses. Why? “…because He was tempted in all points, as we are, yet without sin.” Now I’m sure that God can sympathize with us, even without having become a man. Because He’s God. But, you know, we’d always feel, “Well you don’t really understand what I’m going through.” You know it’s like a really wealthy man, goes to a slum and says, “Well, I really feel sorry for you folks, and here’s a little money.” They’ll never feel that he understands what they’re going through. “He lives in his palace up there; he’s a multi-millionaire…what does he know about living in the slums?” He may be a sincere person. Very affectionate, very compassionate. But those people in the slums will never feel that he understands them. And that’s why God became a man. He came into this slum. That’s the Good News. He loved us so much. That He came into this filthy slum, and lived here, and….. Wonder of Wonders; “He was tempted in all points,” as you and I are. I remember the first time my eyes were open to this truth. And interestingly enough, it was about fifteen years after I was born again. You know, Jesus once spoke about the ladder that Jacob saw. Jacob once had a dream where he saw a ladder going up to Heaven and the angels of God descending and ascending upon that ladder, and in John chapter 1 when Jesus spoke to Nathaniel, He said that that ladder was Himself. He said, “I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” And I always thought that that ladder, which came all the way from Heaven, stopped a little short, of down at my level. I thought, “Jesus couldn’t possibly have come right down to my level, to be like me…” And the day my eyes were open to that glorious truth, that, like it says in Hebrews 2:17, “He had to be made like His brothers, in all things.” He became like me. I wept tears of joy. I said, “Lord, I never knew you loved me so much. I never knew, that you loved me, to become exactly like me, to lift me from the pit in which I was. That last rung of the ladder came all the way down to earth. It didn’t stop, some ten feet above me. Now many people can’t think of that; that Jesus could become just like me. That He could be tempted just like me. They feel it robs Him of some of His glory. It’s not true. I live in a country that’s had a lot of Godly missionaries that have come from Western countries, including the United States, and I praise God for Godly men and women who’ve come there, and who’ve sacrificed and suffered for people in my country. And I’ve said to people in our land, I said, “Supposing a missionary from the United States where they live in such great comfort, comes to our land and lives in a five-star hotel, and visits the slum everyday, and preaches the gospel…well, that still would be a sacrifice. But think of another missionary who comes from a similar wealthy background and comes and lives in that slum. Whom would you admire more? Would you despise this person because he lived in the slum? No.” The glory of Jesus became greater, when I saw that He became just like me. And that He was tempted like me, on every single point…..I wouldn’t believe it, if it were not written in scripture, and He didn’t sin. Now I don’t want to try and analyze that. I just want to find the comfort I get from that. That when I’m tempted, I could now say, “Lord Jesus, sometime in your walk in Nazareth, in those thirty years you were tempted just like I am being tempted right now. Give me the grace to react and resist this temptation the way you did, when you walked in Nazareth.” You know in the Old Testament, the Old Covenant/New Covenant differences, the many differences, one of them is this: The Old Covenant was full of commandments, “Thou shalt….Thou shalt not….. Thou shalt…. Thou shalt not….” And so on. That was good. But in the New Covenant, God gave us an example, who said, “Follow Me..” Now supposing, none of you knew how to swim. And here I wanted to teach you how to swim, and there are two ways to teach you. One is to draw diagrams on the blackboard – how to move your hands and legs, and then say, “Okay fellows, go jump in the river now and remember what you saw on the blackboard……” That was the Old Covenant. Absolutely accurate – those diagrams were perfect! How to move our hands and how breathe in and out and everything….Wouldn’t it be better, the second method, where I say, “Come along with me to the river,” and I jump in and say, “Follow me”. That’s the New Covenant. That’s why Hebrews says the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant. Jesus never gave us a lot of commandments like Moses, He said, “Follow Me…I’ve been tempted like you…” There’s not a single temptation any of us can ever face, which He hasn’t faced, and He overcame; He never sinned! Now, we’ve got to read scripture carefully – It doesn’t say He faced all the circumstances we face; no…. He didn’t have a drunken father….He didn’t have a nagging wife….He didn’t have difficult children…. He didn’t face the temptations to impatience we face, with other drivers on the road. It’s the same in India by the way – it’s actually worse. We have cows and dogs and everyone on the road – and we’ve got a lot more patience then you all over here. He didn’t face our circumstances. The Bible doesn’t say; it’s not necessary. But the temptations that come in those circumstances – He faced them. You don’t have to face the same circumstances. The temptation to be irritated, the temptation to be impatient, the temptation to be angry; He faced them all, and He overcame. And He says, “Follow Me…..Look at my example”. And I want to say , in my personal testimony, in the last twenty-five years, since I saw this truth; And I’m sorry that it took me fifteen years after I was born again to see it; is when I am tempted, I say, “Lord, you were tempted like this, exactly like this…..” Maybe a temptation to compromise, maybe a temptation to please some man; it may be a temptation to lust, it may be a temptation to get angry, it may be a temptation to anything…..I go to Hebrews 4, “You were tempted like me and you didn’t sin. I want to do the same thing. I want to see your footsteps. And I want to plant my feet in your footsteps the way you walked in Nazareth.” And I want to tell you, it works.
Now I want to go to the next verse, Hebrews 4, verse 16, because it goes on from there. He says, “Therefore,” And like someone said, whenever you see a therefore in scripture, see what it is there for. What’s a therefore? Why does it say therefore? Because it’s connected to the previous verse. “Therefore, let us, (because we have a high priest, who can sympathize with us,)” who has walked this way, who was tempted like us, who became like us in everything, and who understands the struggle, who understands the need to resist sin unto blood, like it says in Hebrews 12:3, who faced such a great contradiction of sinners against Himself, Hebrews 12:3, 4. Let’s look unto Him and run this race. “Let us therefore draw near with great boldness, to the Throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy, and that we may find grace.” We need two things: Mercy and Grace.
Mercy is an Old Covenant word. You don’t find grace in the Old Covenant. Even in the one or two places where it says, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” What it means is he found favor. It’s not speaking about that grace which only came through Jesus Christ, according to John 1:17. There was no grace in the Old Testament. There are people who say grace means the “undeserved favor of God”. Now I beg to disagree with that definition, because everyone in the Old Testament got the undeserved favor of God. Nobody gets favor that they deserve. Every human being, right from Abel’s time, got undeserved favor. Grace means more than that. Mercy, that’s an Old Covenant word, it refers to forgiveness. Jesus never needed mercy. We need mercy. Because we’ve all sinned. The best of us have sinned, and we will probably sin until Jesus comes again, in one way or another – we could slip up anytime. We don’t have to, but we might and we often do. We need mercy; that’s the first thing we need when we come to God – mercy – that deals with our past. But we now need something that deals with our future, and that’s grace. Now for many years, I never knew the difference between mercy and grace; I thought these were just interchangeable words. I’ve discovered, they’re not interchangeable words. Mercy is Old Covenant and grace is New Covenant. We have mercy and grace in the New Covenant. And so, mercy, first of all, to blot out my past, so that the guilt of my past doesn’t hang over my head, mercy that justifies me , and justification is another word, which is more than forgiveness! I never understood the meaning of that for a long time. To be forgiven, that was wonderful, but to be justified…..And this is how the Lord showed that to me. It’s like I’m standing in a court, accused of thousands of wrongs, and crimes that I’ve committed, and the judge listens to all that the prosecutor has to say against me – the Law of God is the prosecutor. And I’m guilty of all of them. And the judge has mercy on me and says, “Okay, you’re forgiven.” I walk out, happy. But as I walk out, and as I see the crowd outside the courthouse, I walk out happy, but with my head hanging down, because I’m a criminal. I’m a murderer, an adulterer, a thief. That’s forgiveness, I’m forgiven, I’m free. I don’t have to go to jail. Now, consider another scenario. Here I am, standing before the judge, and he examines carefully, all the charges, he examines all the witnesses, and says, “These are all false charges! There’s nothing wrong with this person, he never did any of these things! He can go free.” This time I walk out of the court hall with my head lifted up. That’s the meaning of justification. It’s unbelievable! That God Almighty, against whom I’ve committed so many sins, could not only forgive me, but declare me righteous. Look upon me as though I’ve never sinned in all my life. It’s unbelievable, but it’s true! And if you believe it, you will say, “My glory and the lifter of my head!” That’s what God is! He lifts up our head. There’s no need for a single sinner forgiven by Jesus to walk with his head hanging down, no. We’re not only forgiven, we’re justified. And never forget that, brother and sister. Today God delights over us with shouts of joy! We’re forgiven, justified. But there’s more….. what about this flesh of mine? That’s always dragging me down, and down, and down. Is there an answer for that? There certainly is. God offers us grace. I want to go back for a moment to Matthew’s gospel again. We looked at the first promise in the New Testament. Do you know what the second promise in the New Testament is? That’s also interesting. The first promise is “He will save His people from their sins.” The second, Matthew 3:11, ” He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Do you know that the New Testament begins with two promises? The very first two promises of the New Covenant – don’t miss either of them. 1. “He will save His people from their sins.” And 2. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” And the devil has made sure he’s got people scared of both. If somebody talks about being saved from sin, “Oh – holiness, this is dangerous teaching, perfection”. Baptism of the Holy Spirit, “Oh – those are those fanatics who go do crazy things”. And what’s the result? He’s killed two birds with one stone. He’s got some people off on a fanatic extreme, and he’s got other people reacting to that, and not wanting this truth at all. I remember what God said to me once concerning different doctrines. What the Lord said to me was, “Don’t let your understanding of a doctrine, ever be a reaction to the extremes you see in certain Christians.” Get your understanding from God’s Word. Forget the extremes and the fanaticism that you see in others. Because I got turned off from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, because I saw a lot of fanaticism. I’m not a Pentecostal, I’m not a Charismatic, I never have been, I’ve never belonged to those churches. I always wanted to be a Christian, experiencing everything the New Testament offers. I remember once, when I was seeking God for this, I said, “Lord, I don’t want what I see around here. I want what Peter, James and John got on the day of Pentecost. I want that.” That’s the second promise of the New Testament. It’s for me. Let a million people go to the fanatic extremes; I’m not bothered! I get what God’s Word promises me, what Peter, James and John got on the Day of Pentecost, which transformed their lives and I said, “I want that. I want power.” And do you know the Holy Spirit is called a Spirit of Grace, in Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 29, He’s called a Spirit of Grace. And that is, grace comes to us through the Holy Spirit. What is baptism? Baptism is immersion, to be immersed in the Spirit of Grace. Why should anyone be afraid of that? That’s the very thing we need! I need an immersion! A drenching of the Spirit of Grace! There are two ways we can be immersed: One is, you go into a river, and the other is, a flood of water, falling down from Heaven. If I stand under a river flowing down, I can be drenched. And that’s what the Holy Spirit is….. The River of God, flows down from Heaven and I stand under it, and I get drenched, and it’s grace, all the way. Grace, Grace, Grace. And grace is not “Undeserved favor”. Grace is power . Now I want to show you that from scripture. I don’t want you to ever believe what I say if I cannot show it to you from scripture! 2 Corinthians , chapter 12. Paul says about a time in his life when God allowed him to suffer a thorn in the flesh. And he asked the Lord to take it away from him, and the Lord said to him, 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is perfected in weakness.” What is my grace? It’s my power. It’s the same thing. “My grace is enough for you because my grace, or in other words, my power, is made perfect in your weakness.” And Paul understood that. He says, “Well, then I’m okay. I’m alright because the power of Christ is going to rest on me.” That’s what grace is. And when God says , “My grace is sufficient for you,” what it means is, “My grace is sufficient to handle anything that you’ll ever face in your life.” If I send my son to the shop to buy something worth five dollars, I give him five dollars. But If I send him to the shop to buy something worth a hundred dollars, he can’t buy it with five dollars, he needs a hundred dollars. So I give him a hundred. That’s what it means when it says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Exactly according to what your need is. Is the pressure very great? Grace is going to be very great. Is it a hundred dollars you need? You’ll get that. My grace is sufficient for you. I praise God for this, that there will never be a situation, I ever face in life, where the Lord won’t give me enough to pay the bill. Praise the Lord for this! This is the Good News! There is no temptation that’s going to be too strong for me. There’s no giant in Canaan’s land, that’s not going to come under my feet. Not one. Sin shall not have dominion over you, because you are not under law, but are under grace! You’re not under the Old Covenant, you’re under the New Covenant. You’re not just one receiving mercy, but you’re receiving grace. I want to show you another verse. It’s not so well known, unfortunately, as , “My grace is sufficient for you.” “My grace is sufficient for you” has been popularized throughout the world. It’s a very famous verse on grace. But I’ve discovered another verse, which is a much fuller statement on grace, and I think it’s the most wonderful statement on grace in the whole Bible. I don’t know how many of you have noticed it, in 2 Corinthians 9:8, it says here that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always, having all sufficiency, in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” Here are seven times, you get a picture of totality, do you notice that? All grace, abound, always, all sufficiency, everything, abundance, every good deed. I’ve never seen a verse like this in the whole Bible. Seven times! All grace, is going to abound to you! Always, not just sufficiency, but all-sufficiency. Not just in most things, in every thing. And, for every good deed, He’s going to give me two-hundred dollars, when I need only a hundred. An abundance! This is the Gospel! That’s why a Christian is to be an over comer, in every situation.
You know, how Ephesians 6 describes the Christian? Beautiful! Ephesians 6:13, it says, “Having overcome everything, you’ll be able to resist in the evil day, having overcome everything, to stand firm.” No matter what the situation – sister, are all your six children sick at the same time? “God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that always , having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” for all those six children, and still be able to greet your husband with a happy face when he comes home from work. That’s grace. Is it possible? No? Well, according to your faith, be it unto you. But if you say, “YES!” According to your faith, be it unto you. The answer is the same. I think of that story, where two blind men went to Jesus, and Jesus asked them, you know the story, in Matthew chapter 9, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, and they said, “We want our eyes to be open.” And then he asked them a question, “Do you believe, that I am able to do this for you?” He didn’t ask them, “Do you believe that if you just try a little harder, you could see a little bit?” That’s not what He asked them. “Do you believe that if you just try a little harder, you could overcome that sin?” That’s not what He’s asking! That’s like asking a blind man, “Can you just try, try opening one eye just a little bit, see if you can see a little?” That’s not the gospel. Do you believe that Jesus said that, “I am able to do this for you.” It’s got nothing to do with your ability. It’s got to do with whether you are willing to let Jesus do a work in your life or not. And I’ve thought, one blind man goes first into the room and he says, “Well, Lord, I mean, I’ll be happy if you’ll open just one eye. That will be enough for me, I could see the road and I could walk around and I believe that you can open one eye.” And the Lord says to him, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” And he goes out with one eye open, and he’s so happy! Now the other blind man goes in, and the Lord asks him, “Do you believe I can do this for you?” He says, “Sure! I want both eyes open!” And He says, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” And He goes out with two eyes open. Now you have these two blind men. And now this first man says, “Hey, this is heresy! Jesus opens only one eye…..how in the world did you get two eyes open?” Does Jesus give forgiveness and victory? No! Only one eye. And he starts the One Eye Denomination. And he gets a whole lot of people who have faith that Jesus can open one eye, in that church. And here’s this other one, it’s usually smaller, of a few people, who’ve got both eyes open, and they are dubbed as heretics and false teachers, because they preach that Jesus opens two eyes. This is what’s happened for two thousand years.
Now I want to say to you, brothers and sisters, you can have your choice – which one you want to join. According to your faith; not according to Jesus’ ability, No….. If it were according to Jesus’ ability, we’d all have both eyes open! But it’s according to your faith, be it unto you. For years, I belonged to the One Eye Denomination; after I was born-again, I was on my way to heaven, my sins were all forgiven. But that was about all. I had the mop, I had the bucket, and the tap was always open. Till God had mercy on me.
You know, I’ve discovered one thing; you don’t understand scripture, you don’t get new revelations on scripture by study. You get new revelation of Jesus, when you have a new need in your life! It’s not by sitting and studying Greek, and Hebrew……I don’t know Greek and Hebrew, but I have needs in my life. And I said, “Lord, is there an answer to this need in my life?” And without any knowledge in Greek and Hebrew, He showed me that, “Sin need not have dominion over me.” And I want to say to you, my brothers and sisters, I don’t care what sin it is in your life; Jesus can deliver you from it. It doesn’t matter which it is. I just told you yesterday , how as a young man I struggled with lustful thoughts, and nobody ever told me what I could do about that, and as I told you yesterday, I thought everybody preaching up there had no problems with lustful thoughts, and I thought it was only me. That’s what I thought! I thought, “Oh my, why me? Why am I always struggling with these thoughts? Is it because I’m a maniac?” It’s because I didn’t know the way. I was forgiven. The tap was open, and I was mopping, mopping, mopping, mopping…….’til I found something better. That Jesus could not only forgive me, He could deliver me from the power of sin. When I was too weak to deliver myself. Through the Holy Spirit! And I thought of this, you know, this verse came to me at that time; God delivers only people who seek for victory like this; I want you to read this verse, in Exodus, Chapter 2, in verse 23, in the middle of that verse, it says, “The sons of Israel sighed, because of their , and they cried out. And their cry for help, because of their , rose up to God.” I want to ask you, my brothers and sisters, how many of you have sighed, because you were defeated by sin? Wept at night and said, “Oh Lord……there I lost my temper again. Lord! There I lusted with my eyes again.” Who sighed! There are a lot people who don’t sigh! No wonder they don’t get delivered! The children of Israel sighed. You know sighing is more than crying; it’s crying and saying, “Oh……when will I ever be free from this ?” “And their cry for help, rose up to God”. And it rises up, even today. And it says, “And God heard their groaning,” and He hears the groaning even today. Here and there…..not among many of his people. Most believers are content in their defeated position. But here and there He hears some……crying out for an immersion, a baptism in the Holy Spirit of Grace and Power. Verse 24, “And God remembered His covenant, in that day with Abraham,” and today, through Jesus. Through the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant. God remembers that. “And He saw the Sons of Israel, and He took notice of them, and He delivered them.” And He’s the same today. But He waits……for us to sigh, and cry.
Now I want to turn back to Hebrews, in chapter 4, where we saw, “that we may receive mercy,” That’s what He does for us, first of all, and then, “that we may find grace to help us in our time of need.” And our time of need is, in the context of verse 15, when we are tempted! My need is not for more money, to get a better car, or better house….. These are the stupid things being preached, in Christendom today, unfortunately. My need is to be delivered from this wretched nature I inherited from Adam, from sin. And when I’m delivered from that, all the other things will fall into their proper place. So, “Help in time of need,” is when I’m tempted! Now, imagine, a mountain climber. Someone, who feels he’s an expert at climbing mountains, and at one particular place, he slips, and he’s hanging on by his fingers, over the cliff….but he’s too proud to ask for help, because, “I’m an expert.” And he falls to the bottom. Then he has to ask for help, and the ambulance comes along and picks him up. That’s forgiveness of sins. We fall, we say, “Oh Lord, please forgive me.” And the ambulance is always there, Mercy. Takes me, fixes me up, and I go mountain climbing again. And again, I �m hanging by my fingers one day, I’m still too proud to ask for help, and I fall again. And the ambulance comes. And this is the cycle. That so many Christians live in – always the ambulance. Thank God for the ambulance. Isn’t it good news that there’s an ambulance when you’ve fallen? Mercy is available, forgiveness…… But think, if this person, the next time he’s about to fall, is a little humbler. And says, “I’m not such an expert.” Please, help me now. Then he will find grace, lifting him up in his time of need, and making him stand. Now which is his time of need? I agree, his time of need is there when he’s fallen and broken his bones. But there was another time of need prior to that. Before he fell. Now what I want to ask you, brothers and sisters, is when do you want God to help you, after you’ve fallen, or before? That’s the question. When is our real time of need. When are we going to break out of the cycle of always falling and getting the ambulance and falling and getting the ambulance. Are you sighing? Is there a sigh because, “Lord, I’m sick and tired of this. I want a better life.” There is a better life. You know, not everyone can come to Jesus. Jesus said, “come to me, all those who are weary and heavy laden.” Those who are sick and tired of their defeated lives, “come to me…..” In another place He said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me.” That means, if anyone’s thirsty for a better life than he already has….If anyone acknowledges that there is a dryness in his life, a deadness in his life, and he’s thirsty, let him come to me……and drink! There’s plenty of water there. And not only to satisfy you, it can flow out from you in rivers of living water to bless other people. This He spoke about the Holy Spirit. But you’ve got to thirst….. That means you’ve got to have a longing for something more than you have right now, and it’s got nothing to do with how many years you’ve been a believer. You may have been born again yesterday, and you can have a thirst and God can fill you with His Holy Spirit. But if you don’t have a thirst, even after twenty-five years, you’ll just be in the same old condition. You’ll be going around with the mop and the bucket, �til Jesus comes. But all I’m saying is, there’s a better way. I’m not forcing you, I’m just saying, “Come up higher, brother.” You’re invited, it’s free, but it’s up to you. If you’re satisfied down at those low levels, you can stay there. But Jesus invites you higher. So that’s our time of need. When we are about to slip and fall, and He can keep us. (Editor’s note, see Jude verse 24) Now if you don’t believe this, I can give you a little homework. The next time, you are tempted, think of the area where you are falling most of the time, where the ambulance has had to come and pick you up, and what particular area…. You know how it speaks about in Hebrews 12, about “the sin, that so easily besets us.” And that may be different in different ones. Okay, what’s the one in your case, is it anger? Is it sexually, lustful thoughts? Whatever it is, think of it now. The next time, that could be tonight, it could be tomorrow morning, you won’t have to wait long for that, for “the sin that so easily besets us.” But the next time you find yourself tempted in that area, when you’re about to fall, try this…. Come boldly to the Throne of Grace, humble yourself, you’re not such an expert mountain climber, just humble yourself and say, ” Well, Lord, I’m just a failure. Now Lord, show me that this really works! Give me grace! “Let’s come boldly to the Throne of Grace, to receive mercy for my past failures,” Okay, we’ve got that, but to find grace now, to help me in this particular moment, in my time of need.” And you know what’ll happen? After a few moments you’ll find, “Hey, I didn’t lose my temper! Hey, I could resist that evil though!” This is the Gospel. It’s a message of deliverance. Jesus came to set the captives free! He came to open prison doors. He came that we might walk as free people, no longer as slaves to sin. Never again in our life. And that’s why he gives us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Grace! People ask me this question, “What is the mark of the baptism of the Holy Spirit? What’s the sign, of being filled with the Spirit?” I say the same thing that Jesus said, I can’t say it better than Him; Acts 1:8, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and you shall receive power….” Power! What’s the evidence? Nothing else! That is the evidence. If you don’t have that, whatever else you’ve got, you’ve missed it. You need power. Power, to be a witness for me, Jesus said. Not just to bear witness. I hope you know the difference between being a witness and bearing witness. Bearing a witness is included in being a witness, but being a witness is more than bearing witness. “You shall receive power, and you shall be….”Not you shall “do”, “you shall be.” There’s a lot of emphasis in the Christian world today on “doing.” “What are you doing for the Lord, brother?” I’m being; and from being, I’m doing. You can “do” without “being”. But I want to “Be” first and then “do”. “You shall be witnesses, unto me, in every part of the earth.” America, India, everywhere…..God needs people who are witnesses and I need power for that! I need power, I need grace, this grace which is power. This which comes through the immersion in the Holy Spirit. Praise God for such a wonderful Gospel! And that can take care of all my needs. You remember that Old Testament story? I think it’s in 2 Kings, chapter 6, where this widow came to Elisha and said, “The creditor has come. I’m in debt and the creditor has come to take my sons away captive” I don’t have time to turn to it, you can read it sometime. And Elisha asked her a question, “What do you have in your house?” And she says, “Your servant has nothing, except, a vessel of oil.” It’s like saying, “We have nothing, except the Holy Spirit.” And Elisha said, “What do you mean nothing? That’s the answer to all your debt! That’s the answer to all your problems! Go and get as many vessels as you can and keep pouring.” And it says, she got vessels from all around her neighbors, and she kept pouring and it never finished. That’s a picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. They couldn’t experience it in the Old Covenant. We heard about our debt the other day; our debt of love. Every person we meet, we’ve got to recognize, “I owe this man something. I owe him something.” Even if it’s a stranger. I owe him something. Perhaps, just a smile, okay? But I’ve got to clear a debt. And how do I clear this debt? That was exactly the question this widow asked Elisha! How can I clear this debt, I’m in terrific debt! Do you recognize that you’re in debt? Most of us don’t….most of us don’t recognize that God, because He loved us so much, has permanently placed us in debt, to every single human being we meet on the face of this earth. That was the crime of the Levite and the Priest, when they saw that man laying on the ground and didn’t do anything to help. That’s the answer. And we say, we’ve got nothing. You think you’re going to clear the debt by going to one more meeting? Listening to one more message? Reading another book? No brother, you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The answer is there. Ask God to fill your heart with the Holy Spirit. And like it says in Ephesians 5:18, “Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.” That’s the answer. And God wants to give that to every single one of us. That’s the second promise in the New Testament! “He will save His people from their sins, He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit and with Fire.” But, like everything else, we’ve got to acknowledge our need. I couldn’t get forgiveness of sins, �til I confessed I was a sinner. Why is it the Pharisees couldn’t get forgiveness of sins? Because they pretended that they were not sinners. And Jesus said, “Well then I didn’t come for you, you fellows are healthy. I came for these poor, sick people.” I’ll apply the same logic of the same steps, to being filled with the Holy Spirit. Here, Jesus comes offering, what is the first thing? Forgiveness of sins. And here are a bunch of people who say, “We’re okay.” The Lord says, ” Okay, I didn’t come for you.” Here are some people who say, “Lord, we really need this, we’re sinners.” Okay, they get it, forgiveness of sins. And now He comes in the fullness of the Spirit, and here are a whole bunch of Christians who say, “Ah, we got it, we got it when we were saved,” and they were convinced doctrinally about something or the other. The Lord says, “Fine, you’re okay, I’ll leave you alone.” But here are these other, thirsty, hungry Christians, who say, “LORD, I DON’T CARE WHAT DOCTRINE, I’M DRY! I’M DEAD! I DON’T NEED A DOCTRINE, I NEED POWER! They get it! You know why you haven’t got it so far? Because someone convinced you about a doctrine. I know there’s a lot of doctrinal disputing about Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I don’t get into this at all. I remember when I was born-again, and I was in a brethren assembly where they didn’t preach about being filled with the Holy Spirit. They told me I got everything when I got converted. But I said, “Lord, I don’t know what it is, but I certainly, to be honest, I can’t say that Rivers of Living Water are flowing out from me.” No! My experience is more like a hand-pump. You know, in India, we have some hand-pumps. You pump and pump and pump and pump and a few trickles of water come out. And then when you’ve recovered a little bit, you pump some more, you pump some more and a few trickles come out. Yeah, a little bit comes out. A little bit was coming out of my life, but it was certainly not a river, certainly not many rivers. And Jesus said, “He who believes from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” I just had to be honest. I said, “Lord that is not true in my life.” And I don’t want anyone to convince me doctrinally about something, which is going to make me miss the most important thing in the Christian life, and discover at the judgment seat of Christ, that I missed something God had for me. I don’t want that tragedy. “So I seek you Lord, I don’t care about terminology, call it what you like, it doesn’t matter to me, I want Rivers of Living Water flowing out of my life.” That’s how I began to seek God. And I want to say, God met with me. He changed my life. He changed my ministry. My ministry was such a strain before that. Oooh, a struggle, struggle, struggle. A few drops would come out. I said, “Lord, that’s not how it’s meant to be, that’s not how Jesus ministered. That’s not how the apostles ministered. I want my ministry to be Rivers of Living Water! Flowing in many directions!” Now if you knew what I was, when I was converted, a shy, fearful, timid, introverted, reserved type of person, who wouldn’t like to stand anywhere, I know God changed me. And I believe that He can change anyone. But it’s according to your faith, be it unto you. If you continue to believe that Jesus opens only one eye, that’s all you’ll have til the end of your life. “According to your faith, be it unto you.” I’m not asking you to have faith for better cars and better houses and things God has not promised. I’d like to have hair on my head, but I don’t try to trust God for that. I’ll get it one day when Jesus comes again. But there are other things. You know, all the books on faith you’ll find on Christian bookshelves, are the type of books which tell you how you can get hair on your head, and new teeth, where your teeth have fallen off, better cars and better houses. I tell l you, I’m not interested. What’s the use of getting a better house, or a better car if I’m defeated by anger in my life? What’s the use of that? What’s the use, of even speaking in other tongues, if I lose my temper in my mother tongue. That’s no use. You mean, the Holy Spirit can only control other tongues and He cannot control the mother tongue? Well, that must be another spirit. I say if the Holy Spirit cannot control my mother tongue, I don’t want other tongues! Let me deal with my mother tongue first. And let Him teach me how to have the law of kindness in my mouth, when I speak to my wife. If that isn’t there.. I got sick and tired of these believers who would praise God in other tongues on Sunday morning and shout at their wives in their mother tongue Sunday afternoon. This is not the Holy Spirit! And I said, “Lord, I want that tongue of fire that was on top of those believers, that made the Holy Spirit control my speech, twenty-four hours a day. Control my tongue. That is what we need! Victory over sin! Along with other gifts God wants to give us! I believe that the devil has done a tremendous work in confusing people in this area, because he knows this is a very vital area in the Christian life. He’s made a lot of people go to one extreme, and he’s made a whole lot of other people fall over the cliff on the other side, going to the other extreme. And it doesn’t matter to the devil which side of the cliff you fall over, so long as you reach the bottom.
Dear brother and sister, let’s shame the devil, and let’s say, “Lord, I’m going to seek you for what you’ve promised; I’m not going to seek you for things which are not promised in the Word, which are not going to help me in eternity, and which are not going to help me to be a more effective witness for you here on earth! But I do want to trust you, for that which I need to make me a more effective witness for you, here on this earth.” I want you to turn to Luke, chapter 11, “The disciples once came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And do you know the answer to that? Now you ask most questions, what answer did Jesus give when they asked Him this question – “teach us to pray…” They only say the Lord’s prayer. Well, they asked Him to teach them to pray, and He said, “When you pray, say verse two, Father, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, and so on……” But did it stop with that? No! He went on and that’s what I want to show you today. He taught them to pray like that and then He said, He’s still answering the same question, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And He told them what to pray for, and He says, in verse 5, “Supposing one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight, and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves for a friend of mine has come, and I’ve got nothing to set before him”, and from inside he answers and said, “Don’t bother me, the door is shut, my children are in bed and I can’t get up.” “I tell you, even though he’ll not get up, and give him anything because he’s a friend, yet because of his persistence, He’s still answering that question, “Teach us how to pray,” “With persistence He will get up and give him as much as he needs. And I say to you, ask like this, and it will be given you. Seek, like this man sought, and you will find. Knock, like this man knocked, and it will be opened to you; for everyone who asks like this, receives, and he who seeks like this, finds. And he who knocks like this, it’ll be opened. Because supposing, one of you fathers, your son asks for fish, will he give him a snake? No, never. If he asks for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? And now we come to the final point, “How much more, will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.” If you don’t ask….. How should we ask? Like this! That’s the point, it’s all the answer to that first question, “Lord, teach us to pray…” What do you need to pray for? This is what we need to pray for. What is the meaning of this man going to his neighbor, saying, “Give me three loaves….” Jesus said, “Ask the Father for the Holy Spirit, for the power of the Holy Spirit, for grace, ask.” And how shall I ask? Supposing I don’t get it immediately? Keep knocking. Keep seeking. Keep asking. “Lord, I’m not going to give up till you give me power.” There’s one more thing, which is very, very important, which I want to mention here. See here, He’s primarily speaking about our ministry. And He’s talking about somebody whose come to us in need. I told you about clearing the debt. Here is a man who has come to me in need, and I’m surrounded by people with need, in this world. And when I see their need, I can do one of two things. You know when this fellow came, this chap comes to my house at night, just imagine I’m the person here; he comes to my house at night and I ask him, “Well, have you eaten?” He says, “No, I’m hungry.” “Well, I’m sorry brother, refrigerator is empty right now, we already had our meal. Let’s just praise the Lord, and go to bed, and we’ll see how it is in the morning.” That’s not what he did. He felt, “He’s hungry. I must meet his need. I must do something about it!” That’s where it begins, that’s where a real seeking after God for the power of the Holy Spirit begins, when I see the need of another person, and I’m trying to help him, and I don’t have it within me, what it takes to help. Then what do I do? I can ignore and say, well I can’t help everybody in the world, I’m okay myself. I’ve eaten my meal and I’m alright. That’s how most Christians live. That’s why they never experience the genuine power of the Holy Spirit. And a lot of people who are so called, “seeking” for the power of the Holy Spirit today, you know what they’re seeking for? They’re not seeking for power to help others, oh, no! They’re seeking, because someone got up and gave a testimony, that they got tickled down their spine when the Spirit came upon them, or they got thrown into some corner, or they began to mutter something…..They’re seeking for some experience like that other testimony they heard in that meeting. They’re seeking for something for themselves; they’ve not got one single thought about somebody else in need! Whereas, Jesus said, “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you’ll be my witnesses to all those needy people, in the outermost parts of the earth!” And if people had sought God with this parable in mind, for the power of the Holy Spirit, like He said, they’d have gotten the genuine experience, and they’d have gotten the genuine Power. And it would have made the church like an army, terrible with banners; like it says in the Song of Solomon. But it isn’t. Why is the church so weak? You know, when we sing that song, “Hold the fort for I am coming…..” I tell you, I have little bit of a reservation about that. It’s a picture of a beleaguered church, struggling and the devil somehow – “Oh Lord, please come, we’re about to be defeated!” That’s not it. That �s not the church, an army, terrible with banners….. There is no “Hold the Fort, for I am coming,” anywhere in the New Testament. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell,” See, we’re attacking the gates of Hell! They’re the fellows that are going to cry out for help! “The gates of Hell, will not prevail against this church!” Don’t reverse it and say, that “The gates of the church will somehow survive, when the forces of Hell are attacking it!” I am not holding any fort. We go full steam against the devil with the promises, the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church! The church is triumphant. Satan will not be able to make inroads into our church and destroy people. He will not be able to get into that family and destroy those children. Because we’re going to stand and deliver that family, from the power of the devil! That’s what we’re here for. That’s what God’s servants are here for. We’re not here just to preach messages. Anybody can preach a message….. Just go read some books, listen to some messages and you’ve got material to preach for next Sunday. That’s not a servant of God. A servant of God is called to do what Jesus did; it says, “He went about doing good and delivering people who were oppressed by the devil.” And we are surrounded by them. There are needy people in our churches whose families are suffering, the devil has got inroads into those families. Are the gates of Hell going to triumph or not? No! The church must go against them! We’ve got to bind the Strongman, and spoil his goods! Deliver people who are under the captivity of Satan. For that, we need the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why we need the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I give you authority over all the power of the enemy. Nothing shall be able to stand before you. Over serpents, scorpions, over all the power of the enemy.” This is how we should be, brothers and sisters! But, here we are, praying, “Heal my backache, and I want a better car, and I want a better house,” and all these stupid things that believers are praying. I say, forget whether my backache is healed or not, I’m going to chase the devil out of that home.
I believe we need to have our vision lifted. We need to see what the Lord is calling us to in these Last Days. I want to encourage you my brothers and sisters, forget doctrinal differences. Forget terminology – call it what you like – But ask God to set you on fire! And if you don’t like the term, “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”, okay, drop it. Ask God for Rivers of Living Water, to flow out from you! Ask God to set you on fire! Is there anything wrong with that? Anything doctrinally wrong with that? And if you don’t like tongues, drop it, that’s not the most important thing. Ask God to set you so much on fire, that you’ll be able to deliver people who are oppressed by the devil around you. That’s the most important thing. And if He gives you other gifts, take them, but don’t go seeking after them. Seek for that power which will help you to deliver other people around you who are in need. I know, for thirty-five years, consistently, I have prayed one prayer. I have earnestly coveted to prophesy. Because the Bible says so. Earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit. Why have I coveted to prophesy? There’s hardly a meeting, that I come to, where I don’t see God before, and say , “Oh God, I want to prophesy. I want to give a word, that will go straight to the hearts of people. And I don’t have it within me. I don’t have the loaves. My refrigerator is empty. There are people in need. I come to you, Lord, give me that, which I can give to them.” And then it becomes easy. You remember the way the five thousand were fed? The disciples didn’t have to produce the loaves, Praise the Lord. I always say, I’m only in the distribution business, I’m not in the production business. I can’t produce! I can’t produce a message! But I can distribute if the Lord gives it to me. And when my basket is empty, I just go back to the Lord and say, “Lord, there are a few more people hungry out there, you got some more?” “PLENTY. PLENTY FOR EVERYONE!” It’s distribution we’re called to, not production. Don’t waste your time, cramming your head, trying to produce something. And you fill your head with knowledge, that’s what happens in a lot of pulpits. People are busy preparing on Saturday, for what they’re going to give on Sunday. It’s like getting a lot of things in and vomiting it all out on Sunday. That’s not what people need. They need food. And you cannot produce it. That’s the first thing you’ve got to recognize. In my younger days, I thought I could produce it. Gave out, what I would call vomit. What I had taken in, digested and vomited out. But I found a better way; I began to seek God, like this man here, for prophesy, for words, that would exhort, edify, comfort, build up, God’s people. And I want to encourage you to seek God a little more. I’m not saying intellectual preparation is wrong, but all I’m saying is spiritual preparation is much more important. That’s all I’m saying. You’ve got to walk with a clear conscience before God. You’ve got to walk in humility, and God gives his grace on ly to the humble. Keep your face in the dust before God and say, “Lord, I’m empty. Help me to deliver people who are in need.” I believe our churches are full of such people. They need help. They need to be delivered. And we need to give that which will set them free. I want to encourage you to seek God, to set you on fire. There is no respecter of persons with God. What He’s done for one, He’ll do for another. But He wants us to have faith. Faith, that He will, “Give us grace to help us in our time of need”, so that we don’t fall in to sin; Faith, that He’ll give us that power, those loaves…..to feed that needy person, who has come to us in his need. Let’s pray.
“Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this, thirsting of my soul. Lord, we want to come to you with open hearts. With hungry hearts; seeking you for that, which only you can give. We don’t want to be satisfied with experiences and thrills. We want Rivers of Living Waters to flow out from us, in these Last Days. To quench the thirst of needy people all around us. Help us Lord we pray. Help us to honor You, that we might be a church, like you want us to be, an army against which the gates of Hell will never prevail, in our local church situations. Give us grace we pray, as we cry out to you, there are needy hungry people here. Thirsty. I pray, Lord, you’ll satisfy the longing of their soul. In Jesus’ name. Amen”
** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / Photo by Felix Mittermeierfrom Pexels
“Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he’s in trouble…..And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Eccl. 4:9-12-TLB).
You may remember the story from Aesop’s fables, where an old farmer taught an object lesson on unity to his three children, who were constantly quarreling among themselves. Taking a number of weak sticks, he showed them how the sticks could quite easily be broken individually, but when tied together in a bundle were almost impossible to break. Even the children of this world realise that there is strength in unity and fellowship. “The locusts”, the Bible says, “though small are unusually wise, for though they have no leader, they stay together in swarms (Prov. 30:27-TLB). Therein lies their safety and their power. In the church of Jesus Christ, we need to relearn this lesson.
The unity that the New Testament speaks of, is the unity of the members of Christ’s Body with one another, under the Headship of Christ – an organic unity and not an organisational one. It excludes those who are outside of the Body of Christ, even if they have the label `Christian’. There can be no union between the living and the dead. Those made alive in Christ through the new birth can find their spiritual unity only with others who have been similarly regenerated by God. Christian unity is forged by the Holy Spirit Who alone makes us members of Christ’s Body. The Bible exhorts us to “strive earnestly to guard the harmony and oneness produced by the Spirit” (Eph. 4:3-Amplified). Any unity formed by man is worthless.
Satan is a cunning foe and he realises that he cannot overcome a united Christian fellowship that lives under the authority of Christ and His Word. His strategy for warfare, is therefore, to begin by sowing discord, suspicion and misunderstanding among the members of a fellowship, so that he can paralyze them individually. Jesus said that the powers of Hell would not be able to overcome His church.
(Matt. 16:18). It is the church, the Body of Christ, that is promised victory in the battle against Satan. A believer standing in isolation from other believers may find himself defeated. Satan attacked Christ constantly during Christ’s life on earth, but was unable to prevail. Finally at the cross, Satan’s power over man was taken away from him by Christ (Heb. 2:14; Col. 2:15).
Today, Satan cannot attack the Risen Christ. His attacks are therefore directed at Christ’s Body, the church. Victory over Satan is possible only as we stand united against him, as a Body under the Headship of our Lord. In a fellowship of Christians, even if one member is not fulfilling his function, the power of the Body is, to that extent, weakened. Satan knowing this, seeks continually to isolate individual members of a group, or to divide the group (or church) into cliques. Either way, he succeeds in his aim. This is why we must be constantly on our guard against the wiles of Satan, lest he weaken the links between us and other members of the Body of Christ.
Jesus made many promises in relation to individual believers praying to God. But in Matthew 18:18,19, we have a promise made to a section of Christ’s Body praying in unison: “Whatever you bind on earth”, Jesus said, “is bound in heaven, and whatever you free on earth will be freed in heaven. I also tell you this – if two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask for, my Father in heaven will do it for you” (TLB). The word translated “agree” in verse 19, is the Greek word “sumphoneo”, from which our English word “symphony” is derived. Jesus was referring in these verses to a unity among even two of His children that would be like a musical symphony. This implies more than just saying “Amen” at the end of another’s prayer. Symphony implies a deep harmony of spirit between those who are praying together.
When the fellowship of even a small group of Christians is like the symphony produced by a well-conducted orchestra, then (Jesus said) their prayers will have such authority that anything they asked for would be granted. Such a group of Christians would have authority to bind Satan’s power and to liberate Satan’s captives. The reason why such a fellowship could exercise such authority was explained by Jesus: “For”, He said, “wherever two or three are gathered together into My Name, there I AM in the midst of them” (verse 20-Amplified). Christ the Head is present with all His authority in the midst of such a fellowship, and therefore the powers of Hell can never stand against it. One reason why the church described in the “Acts of the Apostles” knew the reality of this authority was because they had this unity in their fellowship. “All of these (the 11 apostles) with their minds in full agreement devoted themselves steadfastly to prayer….. “And all who believed were united and together…..and day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose…… “And they (the apostles and other believers)… lifted their voices together with one united mind to God… (Acts 1:14; 2:44,46; 4:24-Amplified). Because they were integrated into one Body under the authority of Christ, they could exercise the Lord’s authority in prayer. They were not highly educated, they had no social influence and no financial backing, yet they turned the then-known world upside down for Christ. When Peter was locked up in prison, all of Herod’s forces could not stand against the power of that early church on its knees before God (Acts 12:5-11). Satan’s kingdom was shaken to its foundations by that church as it went forth as one Body, registering the victory and authority of Christ in human lives all over the Roman Empire (See Acts 19:11-20 for one example of this).
Today Satan ridicules the efforts of a disunited church trying to oust him from his strongholds by gimmicks, gadgets, conferences, theological knowledge, eloquence and trained choirs. None of these are of any avail against Satan. The church needs to know again the reality of being one Body united under the Headship of Christ. A fellowship of Christians properly related to each other, growing in love for one another and living in obedience to Christ and His Word is the greatest threat to the kingdom of the Devil on earth. Satan dreads nothing else as much as that.
Let us make it our prayer that the Lord will help us to live each day in the light of the glorious truth of our being one Body in Christ. As more and more Christians throughout the world begin to understand and to live by this truth, we shall assuredly see the church, though small in number, restored to her pristine glory, an instrument in God’s Hands to rout the forces of darkness and a channel of blessing to a needy world.
** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / Photo by Aigars Neļķefrom Pexels
Timothy was a young man in the church in Ephesus, and there were many older people in that church. So Paul tells him not to let anyone look down on him because of his youth (1 Timothy 4:12). A young preacher can feel intimidated by older people in his church, particularly if some of them are rich and influential people. Paul urges Timothy not to allow them to intimidate him, but to be an example by his life, in the godly way he speaks, in the way he conducts himself, in his love for them, by his faith in the midst of all his trials, in the purity he has in his life and in every area. This is in direct contrast to what Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:1-4. False teachers merely teach, whereas true teachers teach by example. False teachers teach theories. True teachers teach by their lives. 1 Timothy 4:13 emphasises public reading of the Scriptures, because in those days, believers did not have Bibles. So the one who had a Bible had to read out large sections of it for the people to hear. Today, believers can read large sections of the Scripture at home.
Then Paul reminds Timothy that he needs something more than a good life and Scripture-knowledge. “Be a good example and give attention to Scripture” (1 Timothy 4:12, 13). That is good. But “don’t neglect the gifts of the Holy Spirit” (1 Timothy 4:14). Paul reminds Timothy that he had laid hands on him along with other elders to impart a spiritual gift to him. We need the gifts of the Spirit also to serve the Lord. We must “earnestly desire to prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:1) – that is, to speak in such a way that our words go home to people’s hearts like an arrow, like the words of the prophets in the Old Testament, like the words that go out of God’s mouth that never return empty (Isaiah 55:11). To minister like that, we need the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus needed it and we all need it too – all the time. This is not something we can get once for all. No. We must seek to be anointed at all times.
Young people: Don’t feel that you have to wait until you are 40 years old to serve the Lord. I was born again when I was 19 and baptised when I was 21. And I started preaching immediately. I didn’t know much then. But with the little I knew, I could teach the “A, B, C…” of the Christian life to those who knew less than me. As I grew up I could teach people more. A first-standard student can teach a kindergarten-student. Why do you have to wait until you are old before you start to preach God’s Word? The moment you are converted, start sharing with those who know less than you – especially with those who are not yet converted. Always be ready to share God’s Word and to seek God for the power of His Spirit to share it effectively.
In 1 Timothy 4:15, Paul urges Timothy to “take pains with these things.” A businessman takes a lot of pains to earn money and to establish his business firmly. If you are serious about the Christian life, you will take a lot of pains to study the Scriptures, seek for the gifts of the Spirit and cleanse your life from everything impure. One translation of this verse reads, “Be absorbed in them.” When you are absorbed with these things your progress will become evident to everybody.
Let me give you a negative example of what “being absorbed” with something can mean. A family was watching a popular television programme in their home and totally absorbed with it. Some thieves who knew that the family was thus occupied, quietly got into their house and stole whatever they could! And the family never knew about the theft until the TV programme was over.
In the same way, but in a positive sense, we can be so absorbed with Jesus Christ and His Word that the temptations of this world don’t attract us so much. And we won’t be chasing after the many things that worldly people chase after. If you live an “absorbed” life like that, you will make progress constantly. Every year you will be a better Christian and a more effective servant of the Lord.
In 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul urges Timothy to pay close attention to two areas: his life and his teaching. These are the two areas that we must watch constantly. Our life and our teaching must both be pure. Paul says that if we persevere in these two areas, we will save ourselves and others as well. We first need to save ourselves. Only then can we save others. What that means is: If you yourself have not been saved from some sinful habit, how will you be able to save others from it? If you preach above the level of your life, you will be a hypocrite and God will not bear witness to your words. We must be serious about our Christian life, just as businessmen are serious about the way they run their businesses. They are wholehearted about making profits. In the same way, we must persevere and give ourselves wholly to living for God and serving Him.
^*Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / by sculpies/Shutterstock/
The title “prayer warrior” describes a Christian who has a strong affinity for and gifting in this area. Though all believers are called to pray, certain people turn to God more quickly and confidently in response to the ups and the downs of life. And they are willing to ask for others as well as themselves.
I’ve been blessed to know several prayer warriors in churches I’ve attended over the years. Each of them made lifting up praises and concerns a priority and a habit that was as natural as breathing. They all ended up doing a unique kind of ministry in and beyond the church walls.
What Does it Mean to Be a Prayer Warrior?
The word “warrior” usually conjures up an image of someone in a military uniform of some type, whether armor or fatigues. We picture them carrying offensive and defensive weapons. And we assume the person has been trained in fighting and hopefully in strategic thinking as well.
It might not seem like this image could be associated with prayer. But the Apostle Paul dedicated a section of his letter to the Ephesians to this analogy. He wanted us as followers of Christ to understand that we are indeed engaged in a war.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).
Paul goes on to list the pieces of armor and the weapons we have in Christ to overcome the enemy’s attacks. Then he finishes with an appeal for us to use prayer as a way to gain victory in battle.
Characteristics of a Prayer Warrior
The prayer warriors that I have known share a few similar traits:
– They are worshipful, seeking to glorify the Lord.
– They are God-centered, focused on His greatness and mercy.
– They are empathetic, able to meet and accept people where they are.
– They are persevering, determined to repeatedly lift up requests.
– They are loving, wanting to help bring about God’s will for others.
I’ve also noticed a mindset that these warriors tend to have:
They are alert and ready, being sensitive to needs and acting quickly.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18).
They trust in God’s goodness, lifting up requests knowing He always answers.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
They submit to God, calling on Him with a sense of awe and expectation.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
Prayer Warriors in the Bible
“Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God” (Psalm 4:1).
“Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).
“You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me. Listen to the cry of my people from a land far away: ‘Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King no longer there?’” (Jeremiah 8:18-19).
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).
“…we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:11-12).
5 Ways to Become a Prayer Warrior
God may be calling you to become more of a prayer warrior in your church or family. Ask Him to confirm that in your heart. Let Him change your spirit and shift your attitudes to align with Him. Then, be obedient to do your part in the process:
1. Have More of a Hunger for God
“‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know’” (Jeremiah 33:3).
Warriors I’ve known absolutely love being in God’s Word and seek to be in His presence daily. They want to gain knowledge of Scripture to be able to speak it in their prayers. And they base their confidence partly on their own experiences with the Lord.
2. Have a Greater Desire to Be Used by God
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).
I’ve seen people who were natural prayer warriors, and people who in time grew into the role. But all of them started with a love of prayer, and an eagerness to serve God. They didn’t have to know everything – they just had a stirring in their spirit to follow the Lord’s call.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).
Even the most seasoned Christians find themselves not knowing what or how to pray on occasion. Warriors rely on the Holy Spirit to lead them. Even when they do have something in mind to lift up, they have the wisdom to ask the Spirit to join with them.
4. Feel a Greater Sense of Concern for Others
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
Prayers are impactful when they are motivated by love. True warriors approach every request with care and respect. And they see the value in lifting up needs, whether they know the person being prayed for or not.
5. Learn How to Rely More on God for Strength and Endurance
A former pastor used to call prayer one of the “front line ministries” of our church. Those who become warriors learn quickly that it is both satisfying and demanding. So, to avoid burnout, they acknowledge God as the source for their ability and energy to do the work, and lean on Him rather than themselves.
God calls us to see prayer as a powerful tool – a way to relate with our Heavenly Father, a way to express our need for Him, a way to show the Lord devotion and trust, and as a tangible way to support others.
In addition, prayer warriors learn how to use prayer as an effective weapon in spiritual warfare. They make a lifestyle of turning to God, lifting up requests, waiting in expectation.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
In Ephesians 1:17, 18, Paul had prayed that the Christians at Ephesus might receive revelation from the Holy Spirit. At the end of this first half of Ephesians, in chapter 3:16, Paul prays that they might receive power from the Holy Spirit. These are our two greatest needs – revelation and power. The Holy Spirit alone can give us both. The entire Christian life is dependent on the Holy Spirit. First of all, the Spirit gives us revelation on what God has done for us in Christ. Then, He gives us power to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, obeying all that the Lord has taught us.
In Ephesians 3: 18 & 19, we see that we can experience the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ (there are four dimensions there and that itself goes beyond human knowledge!!) – only along with ALL the saints. We can never grasp the love of Christ all by ourselves. We need the other members of Christ’s Body. And further, we need ALL the members of Christ’s Body, not just those in our own little group. That is why our hearts should always be open to ALL believers, even to those who don’t agree with us, and even to those whom we would consider a bit extreme. We may not be able to work with all of them, and we certainly will not be able to meet all of them on this earth. But our hearts should be open to all of God’s children. Our hearts must have room for as many brothers and sisters as God has children – both barbarian and cultured.
That is why we need to be open to read the writings of ALL godly people – and not just to the writings of our favourite authors. Let me warn you, in advance, that in my lifetime, I have found very, very few believers who have such an open heart. But those are the few who are truly spiritually wealthy. The remainder carry on with their poverty-stricken, sectarian attitudes and live and die as Pharisees, missing out on the wealth that could have been theirs if they had been humble enough to accept all whom God had accepted.
Let us meditate carefully on the first three chapters of Ephesians and ask the Holy Spirit to give us revelation on these glorious truths. Once you have got revelation, you will be ready to seek the Spirit for His power to live an overcoming life, full of purity, humility and love. Then we will be able to put away ALL unwholesome words from our speech, and ALL anger and ALL bitterness from our hearts (Eph.4:29, 31).
Then wives will be able to submit to their husbands as the church is to Christ, and husbands will be able to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph.5:22, 25). Then we will be able to overcome Satan at all times (Eph.6:11-13). And then we will have the power to “become imitators of God” (Eph.5:1).
God is able to do far more in us and through us than we can ask or think.
To Him alone be all the glory (Eph.3:20, 21).
** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / Photo by Avery Nielsen-Webb at Pexels
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Gen. 1:27).
Countless millions of women around the world faithfully strive to honor God in all their vocations in life. Here are twelve wonderful responsibilities God has given to women:
1. To Love, Believe, and Respect the Lord
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. (Prov. 31:30-31)
And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. (1 Cor. 7:34)
2. To Support the Gospel Work of the Church
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. (Rom. 16:1-2)
Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil. 4:3)
3. To Be Diligent in Her Vocations
And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. (Exod. 35:25)
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. (Prov. 31:16)
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. (Prov. 31:20)
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. (Acts 9:36)
One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. (Acts 16:14)
4. To Be a Wife
And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen. 2:22-24)
He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt. 19:4-6)
5. To Be a Mother
And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Gen. 21:6-7)
Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice. (Prov. 23:25)
Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. (1 Tim. 5:9-10)
6. To Care for Her Household
The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (Prov. 14:1)
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. (Prov. 31:15)
So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. (1 Tim. 5:14)
7. To Be a Helper to Her Husband
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Gen. 2:18)
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (Prov. 31:28-29)
For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. (1 Cor. 11:8-9)
8. To Love and Respect Her Husband
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph. 5:33)
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (1 Pet. 3:1-2)
So train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:4-5)
9. To Submit to Her Husband
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor. 11:3)
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Eph. 5:22-24)
10. To Be Respectable
“And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman.” (Ruth 3:11)
Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. (1 Tim. 2:9-10)
Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (1 Tim. 3:11)
Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. (1 Pet. 3:4-6)
11. To Learn Quietly in Church
The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. (1 Cor. 14:34)
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (1 Tim. 2:11-13)
12. To Teach What Is Good
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (Prov. 31:26)
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:26)
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5)
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:7-14 (KJV).
“A garden requires constant weeding and caring, if it is to be guarded against weeds and nettles – and so does the human soul.” This is the testimony of a mature Christian towards the close of a rich and full life. Thirty years had passed since Paul’s conversion. During those years God had used him to establish many churches, mightily attesting his ministry with signs and miracles. From the first Paul had spent himself unstintingly in the work of the gospel, travelling constantly and undergoing great hardships. He had come to know the reality of victory over sin as he grew in likeness to his Lord. And among his many joys he had had one unique experience of being, as he put it, lifted up into the third heaven to receive remarkable revelations of spiritual truth.
Yet at the end of all this, he states that he still has not attained to all that God had purposed for his life. Here is one of the greatest Christians of all time saying towards the end of his life that he still needs to press on to the goal. To most believers, alas, salvation begins and ends with the new birth and its assured escape from Divine judgement. Not so for the apostle, nor indeed for anyone else who seeks like him to be a true disciple of Christ. Here in this passage he declares his firm belief that Christ had laid hold of him with a purpose. He, in return, was determined to lay hold of that purpose at any cost. This is a tremendous and solemn truth, that when the Lord lays hold of us at conversion, it is with a purpose extending far, far beyond just the saving of our souls out of hell fire and into heaven. If so mature a man as the apostle Paul had to say at the end of thirty years of untiring Christian service that he had not yet attained, but had still to strive to fulfil all of God’s purpose for his life, what a vast thing that purpose must be.
Paul goes even further in this passage. To him everything that the world considers as precious is worthless rubbish, when compared to this supreme objective of grasping the purpose of God and fulfilling it. He considers this a prize worth the giving up of everything in the world (verse 14). When we look around us and see believers coveting worldly possessions and clinging to material things, giving these a greater place in their lives than the things of God, we are forced to conclude that their Christianity is very far removed from Paul’s.
It is a mark of spiritual infancy to think of salvation only in terms of an insurance policy to escape the flames of Hell. When we mature spiritually, we realize that God has saved us in order that we might walk each day in the pathway that He has already planned for each one of us from eternity (Ephesians 2:10). That pathway was what Paul called God’s purpose for his life. If we are satisfied with having received His grace but are uncommitted to fulfilling His will for our lives, then no matter how thoroughly evangelical we may be, we shall go through life without accomplishing anything of lasting value to God. Of course the Devil’s first aim is by one means or another to blind people to the grace of God in Christ Jesus, thus preventing them from being saved (2 Corinthians 4:4). But if he does not succeed there, then his next aim is to blind that new believer to the fact that God has a very definite plan for him. To a large extent he has succeeded here. There are thousands of true believers who never seek the will of God with any degree of earnestness, even in major decisions that they make in their lives.
The Christian life is depicted in this passage in Philippians chapter 3, as one in which we have to be continually pressing on. No degree of spiritual maturity attainable on earth will ever absolve us from this need of constant urgency. It is because many believers have neglected this lesson that they have no living testimony. Their only testimony relates to an experience in the distant past when on a blessed day they perhaps raised their hand or signed a decision-card in some evangelistic meeting. That was wonderful, but nothing has happened since! Proverbs 24:30-34 with its picture of a garden gone to waste, describes the condition of the man who relaxes after his salvation. A garden requires constantweeding and caring, if it is to be guarded against weeds and nettles – and so does the human soul.
** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at cfcindia.com / Photo by Markus Winkler at Pexels
In many parts of the world today, it can be easy to live a comfortable life as a Christian. Certainly where I live—in Orange County, California—this is the case. But is that a good thing?
I’d like to suggest that the Christian faith is inherently uncomfortable. To be a disciple of Jesus is to deny oneself (Matt. 16:24), to take up a cross (Luke 14:27), to be subject to persecution (John 15:20; 2 Tim. 3:12), to give up the creature comforts of home (Luke 9:58), to forsake the priority of family (Luke 9:59–62; 14:26), to be willing to give up all material possessions (Matt. 19:21; Luke 14:33), to be crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). And this is just the beginning.
C. S. Lewis once said, “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
But comfort-seeking is our default mode in a consumerist society, so we often find ourselves in “comfortable Christianity” without even knowing it. What are some indicators that our Christianity has become too cozy, more like a pleasant bottle of port than the uncomfortable, sharpening faith the New Testament envisions?
Here are eight signs that your Christianity might be too comfortable:
1. There’s absolutely no friction between your Christianity and your partisan politics.
If you’re all-in with one political party and never feel any tension whatsoever with your Christian faith, it probably means your faith is too comfortable. Whether you’re a lifelong Democrat or a diehard Republican, a robust Christian faith should create dissonance with politics at various points.
A faith that aligns perfectly with one political party is suspiciously convenient and lacks prophetic witness.
A faith that aligns perfectly with one political party is suspiciously convenient and lacks prophetic witness.
2. There are no paradoxes, tensions, or unresolved questions.
If you never ponder or wrestle with the mind-boggling tenets of Christian theology (e.g., the Trinity, the incarnation, God’s sovereignty coexisting with human action, the Holy Spirit’s presence, to name just a few), your faith is probably too comfortable.
A healthy, uncomfortable faith constantly rocks you, prods you, and blows your mind. It’s a faith that leaves you restless to want to know more, not satisfied you’ve grasped all there is to grasp about God.
3. Your friends and coworkers are surprised to learn you’re a churchgoing Christian.
A sure sign your faith is too comfortable is if nothing in your life sets you apart as a Jesus follower, to the point that even those who know you well can’t tell you’re a Christian.
A comfortable Christian is one who easily blends in, looking and talking and acting just like his or her lost neighbors.
4. You never think about or even remember the Sunday sermon on Monday.
If Sunday sermons at your church are so forgettable (or you’re so disengaged) that you rarely recall them after you leave church, your Christianity is probably too comfortable.
Biblical preaching shouldn’t leave us apathetic or unchallenged. The Word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
5. No one at your church ever annoys you.
If you go to church with people who are always easy to talk to, always fun to be around, and always closely aligned with your opinions, tastes, and preferences, your Christianity is too comfortable.
One of the glorious things about the gospel is that it creates a new community out of disparate types of people who, in many cases, wouldn’t otherwise choose to spend time together.
6. You never feel challenged, only affirmed.
If your Christian faith never confronts your idols and challenges your sinful habits—but only ever affirms you as you are—this is a sure sign of a too-comfortable faith.
Healthy faith doesn’t just celebrate you as you are, but relentlessly molds and refines you into the likeness of Christ.
Healthy faith doesn’t just celebrate you as you are but relentlessly molds and refines you into the likeness of Christ, which is a beautiful but necessarily uncomfortable process.
7. You’ve never had to have a ‘truth-in-love’ conversation with a fellow Christian.
It’s always more comfortable to just “live and let live” when there’s an offense or sin that needs to be called out. It’s more comfortable to just shrug when we see others in our community making unhealthy decisions.
But this isn’t true Christian love.
Love isn’t opposed to truth, and if your faith doesn’t include the capacity to speak hard truths in love, it’s too comfortable.
8. No one in your church could comment on any area of growth they’ve seen in you.
To believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ is to believe in change. Though not always linear, the Christian life should be marked by growth, forward momentum, and change for the better.
If you’re a Christian who’s grown so little that no one in your church could identify any area of improvement, your faith is too comfortable.
Why is it important that we avoid falling into comfortable Christianity? Because comfortable Christianity is far from the costly, inconvenient, idol-crushing, cross-shaped path for disciples of Jesus. Comfortable Christianity has little prophetic to say to a comfortable, consumerist world. Comfortable Christianity has little urgency in mission and little aptitude for growth.
Uncomfortable Christianity, however, leads to life and transformation. It leads us to rely on God and not on ourselves; to serve rather than be served; to live lives marked by sacrifice. It leads us to do hard things, to embrace hard truths, to do life with hard people for the sake and glory of the One who did the hardest thing. It may be uncomfortable, but it will be worth it. On the other side of discomfort is delight in Christ.
**Editors’ note: This is an adapted excerpt from Brett McCracken’s book, Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community, Uncomforta, and is published in partnership with Crossway / Photo Francesco Ungaro at Pexels
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