New Life, New Love
By David Berg
The instantaneous, miraculous, and supernatural change of mind, heart, and life which occurs by the power of God's Spirit when we receive His Son Jesus into our hearts is so drastic that God's Word likens it unto spiritual rebirth. The newborn child of God then enters for the first time into the whole new world of a whole new life in the incredible spiritual kingdom of God.
Such "rebirth" or "conversion" experiences have been a very common miracle of God throughout history. Jesus called it being born again of His Spirit, and Paul called it the new birth in which "old things are passed away and all things are become new," and "ye are become new creatures in Christ Jesus." The Bible also calls it "putting off the old man and putting on the new," and it is often such a remarkable transformation and actual personality change that God's Word likens it to the death and burial of the old and a resurrection of the new to an entirely new life and way of living (John 3:1-8; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22-24; Romans 6:3-11).
For "except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Therefore "ye must be born again" (John 3:7), in spirit: First, by believing the words of God; then, recognizing your own need of a Savior from your sins, by receiving the spirit of Jesus Christ Himself into your own heart personally in a definite individual decision, forever thereafter proclaiming Him as the Son of God and your Savior, as well as the Savior of all those who will believe and receive Him and His words.
His coming into your life not only renews and purifies and regenerates your spirit, but it also renews your mind, literally breaking old connections and reflexes, and gradually rebuilding it and rewiring it into a whole new computer system with an utterly different outlook on life, a new way of looking at the world, and with new reactions to nearly everything around you.
So do not be surprised if you actually feel different and even think differently and are happier than you have ever been before.
You're born again, a new man, God's new child. Usually when this happens, the new man frequently testifies that he even feels better physically, He now likes to face life and finds a thrill in his newfound tasks and the greatest of pleasure in the fellowship of his newfound family of fellow believers and the greatest of satisfaction in his newfound faith.
His whole life, nature, mind, heart and all is changed. His whole outlook, desires and aims in life are usually much different than before. I have often heard some even claiming that the grass actually looked greener, the sky bluer, the trees more beautiful, the sunshine more glorious and golden, and they feel like they've entered a whole new world of heaven on earth compared to the lives that they were living before. It's just that wonderful!
But of course, like all new babies, you have a lot to learn and a lot of growing to do. So don't be discouraged if you don't understand everything all at once about your new life and the whole new world in which you live and your great new family of faith.
The "milk of the Word"
If you imbibe the milk of His life-giving words from the Bible, you will begin to grow in faith and understanding. "As newborn babes," His Word tells us, "Desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). If you will read His words and put them in your heart, they will be a "lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path" and a guide to you in your new life, your new experiences and your new relationships (Psalm 119:105).
The Bible is God's personal word to each of us. In it you can find the answer to almost every question and every problem you will ever have in life. Just ask God for the answers, search the Scriptures, and let Him speak to you through His Word.
This is also where your faith will come from: "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). It's not a sudden boom. Faith is something that is built by faithful study of God's Word. Faith comes--it grows by hearing the Word of God. So read the Bible and you will find a constant and continual greater revelation of more and more truth, fitting more and more missing pieces into the great and puzzling picture of God's complete and perfected and final overall design.
Nothing will ever take its place! There's nothing on earth more powerful than the Word of God--inspired, beautiful, and poetic, just the naked Word of God. The only reason I and others have to write anything at all is to help others understand it and relate to it.
The true plan and foundation of God as outlined in the Bible has been almost totally buried under the rubble of churchianity and the traditions of man. As Jesus told the Pharisees, the religious leaders of His day, "In vain do ye worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, … making the Word of God of none effect through your traditions" (Mark 7:7, 8, 13).
Many people today have put the stories of Jesus and His disciples way back in the past. They're looked on as fairy tales; they've no real reality to them. But when suddenly it's brought up to you in the present, the fact that the things of the Lord can still happen today--that He's just as real and can still do the same, and even more so (see John 14:12)--that's what shakes and wakes people up!
We've got to try to clear away the rubble to try to uncover once again what the Bible really says and means, what Jesus taught, how He lived, and what the disciples were really trying to show by their example. In other words, we're rediscovering what God's plan was. It's been there all the time and is as good as ever, but we can't build on that foundation again till we get rid of all the rubble of the rabbis.
Besides, we are living in a new day and we have to know how to follow God under present circumstances. Today many churches condemn any new messages from God. They as good as say that God doesn't speak anymore. Well, such a God would be a dead God. Thank God He still speaks today!
So read and study His words, "old and new" (Matthew 13:52), for it is His Word by His Spirit in His love that makes you strong. Please do not neglect it, for it is food for your soul and gives you strength for the battle. Read, study, memorize, and enjoy it, and you shall have strength for your souls.
Holy Ghost power
Shortly before His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus promised His disciples that He would send them a comforter, the Holy Ghost, to strengthen, empower, lead and guide them in their spiritual lives and relationship with Him. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you … I will send Him unto you … and when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 14:26; 16:7, 13).
Receiving the full anointing, infilling, or "baptism" of the Holy Spirit is usually a subsequent experience to that of salvation (when we decide to believe on and receive Jesus). This is why the apostle Paul inquired of certain disciples that he met, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" (Acts 19:2). The Scriptures also say that "they that believe on Him (Jesus) should receive the Holy Ghost" (John 7:39).
Like a mother, tender and gentle with a little baby, the Holy Spirit will hover over the newborn child of God, waiting, comforting, nursing, and nurturing. We all certainly need this baptism of God's love and power and to be filled to overflowing with His precious Holy Spirit in order to have the strength to pull through.
You cannot do the Master's work without the Master's power. And the means of power that God has provided for His children is His Holy Spirit. Christians really need the power and boldness of the Spirit. As Jesus told His disciples, "Ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto Me" (Acts 1:8).
This is the primary purpose of the power: for witnessing (telling others about Jesus). The greatest thing that happened on the Day of Pentecost (when the first disciples received the Holy Spirit) was not that they merely had miraculous manifestations of the "gifts of the Spirit," but that those gifts resulted in the salvation of 3,000 souls. (See Acts Chapter 2.)
However, we should not belittle nor neglect the "gifts of the Spirit." As His Word tells us, "covet earnestly the best gifts" (1 Corinthians 12:31). The most common gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, other tongues and interpretation. These are all gifts from a loving heavenly Father to His children to help communicate understanding of Himself and His will, a mere sample of glorious realities to come.
You not only need the infilling of the Holy Spirit to have the power and strength to witness to others, but also to help you in your own personal communication with the Lord. When you get baptized and start communicating with the Lord, such as speaking in tongues, for example, there's a real yielding. You'll then know the spiritual ecstasy of which the physical is just an illustration. You'll have a much closer relationship with the Lord.
You can then pray in the Spirit--and your prayers will have more effect because you pray by the Spirit Himself, by His power, which is exactly what God wants. "Likewise the Spirit helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us … according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26, 27).
It's like the Holy Spirit is the power of our prayers. Just like a radio cannot transmit a message unless it is plugged into an electric current, your prayer transmission won't have any power at all unless it's plugged into the current, the Holy Spirit, God's power. But if you're in tune, the Holy Spirit empowers and directs your prayers.
By the supernatural, miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord can even give you downright, outright, upright revelations, heaven-right, straight from Him, to show you exactly what to do when you need His guidance. "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:6). So "be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18), so you can have the power and boldness to witness, and so you can experience the exciting sights, sounds, visions, voices, and even resultant physical thrills, like talking in tongues--and the many other ecstatic joys of the world of His Spirit, where God Himself dwells.
Have you received the miraculous infilling of the Holy Spirit since you believed? If not, all you have to do is open up your heart and simply pray and ask Jesus to fill you with His Spirit--and He will. His Spirit will flow in to you in all His power. Jesus said, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." (Read Luke 11:9-13.)
Heavenly communication--hearing from God
The greatest thing that each new generation of God's children has to learn for itself is to follow God and hear from Him fresh every day. Moment by moment learn something new every day, because only God is way out there in front and knows what's going to happen and is able to lead you and guide you and show you what to do.
Every day should be a new day, a new experience, a new listening to the voice of the Lord. You can hear from God every day, and you should be hearing from Him every day. God expects His children, those who know Him personally and know His will and His Word, to touch Him personally, directly, and make a direct contact with Him, not through somebody else's faith or prayers.
This is what is most important: our fellowship with God--hearing from the Lord. Contrary to popular opinion, prayer is not just to get down on your knees and speak your piece, but to let God speak His, too. And wait until He answers. You've got to get not only in prayer, but you've got to get in the Spirit. If you do, He'll tell each one of you what you're supposed to do.
You just have to have faith. Jesus speaks anytime, anywhere, if you believe. So when you ask the Lord for an answer, expect an answer, and take the first thing that comes. If you really believe and ask the Lord, and you want to hear or see, you won't be disappointed. And that thing you see or hear with the eyes or ears of your spirit, that's the Lord--and it will be such a comfort to you.
Expect God to answer. Just open up your heart and let the sunshine in. If you really want to hear Him, He'll talk to you. In fact, He's more willing to give than we are to receive. He just keeps sending and broadcasting as long as we are willing to receive.
The power's always on and the message is always there. God's Spirit is like a broadcasting station broadcasting all the time. All you have to do is throw the switch of faith and tune in. If you're really desperate and crying with your whole heart and are asking Him, He'll answer.
It doesn't have to be out loud; it doesn't have to be with an audible voice. It can just be in that "still small voice" that you feel inside (1 Kings 19:12). Sometimes it's not even words, just an impression that you have. God doesn't have to communicate in words. He can just give you a feeling or a picture or an idea.
He'll solve a lot of your problems before the day even starts if you listen to what He has to say. But if you go plunging into all your problems and troubles and your work without stopping to talk to the Lord and get directions from your Commander in Chief, then you're going to be like a soldier who's trying to fight the war all on his own without listening to headquarters. You need to learn to pray and listen to the Lord.
True, God has set down the general rules for the war in His soldier's handbook, the Bible, but He has also furnished us with an excellent means of communication with headquarters: prayer. So whenever you can't find the answer or solution to a specific situation in your Rulebook, all you have to do is call heaven and they'll let you know what to do.
God's children, His army, have got to be mostly directed from their headquarters in heaven, by the communication of the Holy Spirit, since our ground communications are very slow and very poor and extremely inadequate and frequently disrupted. But if you follow the Lord, you'll never go wrong. He's right out there with you, and He knows exactly what to do, and all you've got to do is ask Him, and you can get an answer in a split second.
Have you heard from the Lord lately? You can and ought to be hearing every day. Keep in touch with heaven. Jesus never fails.
Some prayer principles
Prayer is powerful! When we pray, things will happen and things will be different. God will answer prayer. He says, "Call unto Me and I will answer thee" (Jeremiah 33:3).
You'd be surprised how much God depends on your prayers--how concerned you are and how interested you are. He wants you to show concern and pray about things, and be specific about them. If you really believe, every prayer is heard and answered. But if you don't pray, it is not.
A lot of people have sort of a lazy attitude and seem to think the Lord will do it all no matter what. But the truth of the matter is, an awful lot depends on us, our faith and our prayers and what we want done. If we stir ourselves, then God will stir Himself. The very intensity with which you pray and really mean it or desire it is reflected in the answer.
If you only cry with half a heart, you may only get half an answer. But if you cry with your whole heart, you get a wholehearted, strong answer. If you turn it on real strong, then it reflects strong. Like a beam of light focused on a mirror, prayer will reflect or be answered with the same intensity as it originates. It will bounce back with as much power as it began with.
He says, "In the day that you call upon Me with a whole heart, I will answer thee" (Jeremiah 29:13). Our little prayers are sincere and we mean them, but we also need to really get desperate in prayer about serious situations or anything that needs it.
Jesus never fails. He will always answer when we stir ourselves to call upon Him with a whole heart. However, He does not always answer us right away, which sometimes tests our faith and draws us closer to Him as we are driven to His Word to try to find some answers from what He has already said while waiting for more direct and specific answers in prayer.
But if you stay close to Him, He'll never fail you. He'll never forsake you. He'll never let you down. His delays are not denials. Even though He may not always answer just the way we'd like, keep trusting Him and He'll never fail. Even "if we believe not, yet He remaineth faithful: He cannot deny Himself" (2 Timothy 2:13). And He cannot break His Word--He is going to see you through.
God has made promises in His Word, so when you pray, bring those promises with you to remind Him. When you remind God of His Word, it shows you have faith in it. It's a positive declaration of your faith and your knowledge of the Word which pleases Him. (See Hebrews 11:6.) It's like a lawyer in a courtroom reminding the judge of the law of the land.
"Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these (His promises) ye might be partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). The Lord even says, "I will give thee the desires of thine heart"; "No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly"; "And our God shall supply all your needs" (Psalm 37:4; Psalm 84:11; Philippians 4:19).
You have to quote the terms of the contract (the Bible) to the contract maker (God), and hold Him to it. So it's important to familiarize yourself with His Word. Faith is built on the Word; that's the contract and the law. That's why you can claim it and hold the Lord to His promises.
He is bound by His Word. So remind Him of it, cling to His promises, memorize and quote them continually, and never doubt for a moment that God is going to answer--and He will. He wants to! Trust Him. And thank Him for the answer, even if you don't see it immediately.
But always remember His conditions, His terms of the contract: faith and obedience. For "without faith it is impossible to please Him: For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). And "if ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land" (Isaiah 1:19).
Faith and obedience come first, then God answers prayer. If we are obeying the Lord and are faithful and trusting and believing, then God's got to bless and answer. He can and wants to give you what you need in every area. But if He's not, it's not His fault. Something's wrong somewhere.
If you're not fully obeying the Lord, then you can't have faith for God to bless you. How can God bless disobedience? He cannot protect, prosper, or bless you when you are out of His will and running around outside of the secret place and from under His shadow--His wings--and His fortress of perfect fellowship with Him. (See Psalm 91.)
But if you delight yourself in the Lord most of all and truly want to do His will, it is His delight to also give you the desires of your own heart, because He's the one who puts them there when we're pleasing Him (Psalm 37:4). He gives us what we have faith for. So "seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and then all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).
"Fighting the good fight" (1 Timothy 6:12)
A lot of people seem to think that as soon as they receive Jesus they'll really get happy and all their problems will be solved and they're never going to have any more and things are going to go real smoothly.
Just because they won one battle, salvation by grace, a God-given victory, they think they have some kind of permanent victory. Well, the battle for their soul is won and it is a permanent victory of salvation forever; they will never have to fight that one again, thank God!
They're saved, they have the Lord, they've got the Holy Spirit, they've got the greatest power in the world. You've got eternal life; you're not going to hell; you don't have to worry about death anymore; you don't have to worry about life anymore, and you've got the Lord on your side, or you're on His side.
The Devil can't get you back once you're saved--you're the Lord's forever. (See John 6:37; 10:28-29.) But he tries hard to keep you from serving God, so he gives you a lot of trouble. If the Devil can't keep you from being a Christian, he'll try to keep you from being a revolutionary Christian. He'll try to make a dead one out of you instead of a real live one!
He'll try to put you to sleep and put you out of action, so you at least won't get in his way. He'll try to keep you from being a good or effective witness or a good testimony. If he can't destroy you, he'll try to destroy your testimony.
The biggest thing the Devil will try to do is defeat you from being a good example to win others, because he knows now he's going to lose others from his clutches because of you. You've already gotten there, but he knows he's now going to lose others too through you.
If he can scare you out before you begin, then you'll never even get started and you'll never accomplish what God wants you to do. So for God's sake and the sake of others and your own sake, don't let the Devil frighten you or bluff you out of what the Lord wants you to do before you even get started. That's when he attacks you the worst and that's when the Lord allows him to attack you the worst, because the Lord is testing you to see if you really mean business.
It's like in the old days of World War I trench warfare: Things were usually comparatively quiet in no-man's land--the unconquered territory between two enemies--until one or the other of them decided to attack. Then the other side really opened up and let them have it with all barrels. The minute you go over the top, the Devil starts shooting!
The Lord lets the Devil do it to keep us humble and close to Him. Because you can be almost as sure as shooting that the Enemy doesn't start shooting until you start charging into his territory and attacking him. Then he really starts socking you back.
We're fighters. We're at war! So get tough and fight the Devil and his forces, and if you keep fighting, he cannot win. He can only win if you surrender; he can only win if you chicken out and quit and wave the white flag of sickening surrender.
You can't let the Devil say "boo" and scare you out and make you run. You have to stand up and fight him and attack him and resist him so he will run and flee from you! "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).
When the Devil tempts you to get down and discouraged, fight! Don't even listen to him, much less surrender. He's a liar and the father of them, the father of deceit, the father of lies, Jesus said, so why should we listen to him (John 8:44). Why listen to his doubts and fears and lies when he says terrible things and tries to scare you?
So don't just stand there; do something! Sing, shout, praise the Lord, quote scriptures. Sock it to him with the Word. That's the way Jesus did it when the Devil tempted Him and lied to Him. He just quoted the scriptures: "It is written." (See Matthew 4:1-11.) The Devil is a liar and the father of it, and he can't take the Word. Resist the Enemy and he'll flee from you. He'll turn tail and run!
Take up that white-hot sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and cut the Devil to the heart. "For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword." Instead of surrendering, attack! Conduct an aggressive warfare. "Greater is He that is in you (Jesus), than he that is in the world (the Devil)." So "fight the good fight of faith" and "neither give place to the Devil." "Put on the whole armor of God." "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." Don't give up. (Hebrews 4:12; 1 John 4:4; 1 Timothy 6:12; Ephesians 4:27, 6:11-19; Romans 16:20.)
When things go wrong
We know that God does not fail and will never let us down if we are trusting and obeying Him and operating according to His will and what He knows is best. Therefore, when things begin to go awry, we usually know that either He's trying to show us something or we're missing the mark somewhere, failing in some area or being mistaken in some way about the way we're doing things, or not moving in the right direction in the way we're going about it.
With those of us who really love the Lord and are doing our best to serve Him as best we know how, often at considerable personal sacrifice and even some measure of suffering, inconvenience, discomfort, or simple dissatisfaction, we know that God loves us and is doing His best to help us if we're doing our best to help Him.
So if things aren't going quite right, we certainly know it's not God's fault, but that we must just not be getting our signals straight somehow or our wires are crossed somewhere in some way that's not suitable or pleasing to Him.
So of course, the first thing to do is to look around and see and ask Him what we are doing wrong or how we could do it better or if we're making some kind of mistake, or even in some way actually disobeying Him.
God always has a reason, and I believe nothing happens by accident to one of His children. I have found in my own life, and that of many others, that He always has a purpose for them, although it is not always revealed immediately. He gets some of his greatest victories out of seeming defeats!
Sometimes things happen to draw us much closer to the Lord--to keep us humble and more dependent on Him--such as chastenings or spankings from the Lord. He says in Hebrews 12, "Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth" (Hebrews 12:6).
Like any good father, it hurts Him to see His children be bad, because He loves them, and He knows their badness hurts them, so He tries to correct them. When we won't keep His commandments or heed His loving warnings, in love He is forced to chasten us with the rod to rescue us from the ruin of our folly.
Although God's spankings are sometimes hard to take, they're a token of His love, His intolerable compliment, and are good for us if we learn our lesson thereby, and are thus brought into harmony and happiness with Him and His creation and each other through truth, faith, love, repentance, confession, forgiveness, and restoration.
"Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all" (Psalm 34:19). And this is one thing that helps keep us so righteous: our many afflictions. "But if ye be without chastisement, then are ye bastards, and not sons." So thank God for the rod. It's always good for us, and "yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:5-13).
"The trying of your faith" (1 Peter 1:7)
Another reason the Lord allows these things to befall us is to test our faith--to see how much we really love the Lord and what price we're willing to pay to serve Him.
God tests our faith to see if it's real gold faith and if we'll still believe and obey Him no matter what happens. He says that "the trying of your faith is more precious than gold"--the testing of it. "Yea," He says, "than much fine gold." Gold will go through the fire and still come out pure gold, even purer gold, if it is real gold. (See 1 Peter 1:7, Psalm 19:10.)
Real gold--no matter how hot the fire or how long the fire, how hot the test or how long it lasts--will still come out gold, even finer gold. "Yea, than much fine gold." Because the fire burns away all the dross and the impurities.
Real faith can stand the test and go through the fire and still come out better than ever before, like gold. But faith that cannot stand a test is no faith at all. If it doesn't go through the fire, it's not faith. If it doesn't come out as pure gold, it's not faith. Because real faith stands the test--whatever it may be.
So "think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings" (1 Peter 4:12-13).
When things look darkest, don't look down. Look up! Don't murmur and complain. Start praising the Lord, and you'll often praise your way right out of the pit into which the Devil is trying to cast you. The Lord loves praise; the High and the Holy One dwelleth in the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3).
Doubt, fear, discouragement, and murmuring kill. Look at all that murmuring older generation of Israel who died in the wilderness for their lack of faith. (See the book of Exodus.) But faith, trust, courage, and praising the Lord "maketh alive" (1 Samuel 2:6). If you want to knock the Devil for a loop, just start praising the Lord no matter what happens. "In everything give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The Devil just can't stand it. He turns tail and runs. "Resist the Enemy and he shall flee from thee" (James 4:7).
So let's try to be able to take our testings and our temptations. The Lord says He will never give you more than you're able to bear and that He will always make a way of escape. Somehow He'll make it easier for you or at least help you to bear it.
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Keep your eyes ahead on the goal, like those in Hebrews 11, the faith chapter. By faith, by faith, by faith--they looked ahead, they looked forward. They weren't satisfied with being a citizen of this world; they looked for a country made by God, a heavenly country, a heavenly city, built by the Lord.
They were willing to go through all the trials and tribulations and be strangers and pilgrims here and people without a country, because they knew they had one coming. And they knew it was worth fighting for, living for, and dying for.
So keep going for God. Keep believing and obeying, no matter what happens. The outlook may not always be easy, but the uplook is great. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).
The breaking process
My mother once asked the great evangelist, Paul Rader, "Why are the laborers always so few?" And he replied: "They can't seem to be broken fast enough, and God can only use truly broken men and women." How true! God only uses broken men and women--no others will do. Others are too self-confident in their own flesh.
God has to break them, melt them, and mold them again in the hands of the Potter to make them a better vessel--but He won't force it. The breaking depends upon you and your yieldedness and willingness to be made willing, total humility, which is synonymous with total love, so you're willing to go anywhere, anytime, and do anything, for anybody, and be nobody, to please Him and help others.
He even uses our mistakes as a way to keep us humble and often gets some of His greatest victories out of seeming defeats--victories of brokenness, humility, and more utter dependence on Him, which you must have to be able to truly inspire and lead others.
In fact, the list is almost endless of all the people throughout the Bible that God had to humble before He could use them--of all the leaders God had to bring down to the depths before they could stand to be exalted--lest they would have taken credit to themselves and not given God the glory. Because, by the time God's ready to make you really great, He makes absolutely nothing out of you, so there's nothing left of you at all--and it's only Jesus.
For unless you have been broken, humbled, humiliated, and come to the end of yourself and have nothing left but God, He will never be able to use you as greatly as He would like. But when He can get you out of the way, then He has a chance.
"That the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." "When we are weak, we are strong, for then His strength has a chance to be made perfect in our weakness"--to show it's God, and not us, that He may be glorified (2 Corinthians 4:7; 12:9-10). Sometimes the weaker you get in the flesh, the stronger you are in the spirit. When you're so weak you don't feel capable or sufficient, then God has a chance to take over and do things to suit Himself. When you become nothing but a tool and a channel, then He can really use you.
All glory be to Jesus! He's the one that does it all. We're merely His yielded instruments, vessels of clay in the hands of the potter (Isaiah 64:8).--Merely doing His will and serving His purpose, for which we were called and foreordained before the foundation of the earth. (See Ephesians 1:3-6.) It is God that gives us the strength and God that has done it all (Philippians 2:13). We are the work of God--the work of His fingers. So give Him all the glory.
The minute you start patting yourself on the back, God will see to it that you're humbled to bring you out of it. He's a jealous God and He wants and deserves the glory and will have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:5). So you'd better not start admiring your own arm of flesh or you're apt to lose it. Give God all the glory!
The biggest failures in the Word of God were the big-shot boys who thought they could do it in their natural wisdom and went out and fell flat on their faces. The danger only came when they thought they themselves were doing it, and that it was their strength that was saving them, their arm that was saving them.
One of the biggest dangers you have is to begin thinking it's you. It's God's anointing. If He withdraws it, you're just as flat as ever. "Pride cometh before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). For unto him who truly hath what it takes it shall be given, but from him who thinketh that he hath and boasteth of it, it shall be taken away from him even that which he thinketh that he hath (See Luke 8:18).
So for God's sake, be honest with yourself. Confess to yourself continually how hopeless you are without God. Give Him all the glory for anything good about you. "What hast thou that thou didst not receive?" (1 Corinthians 4:7). "Every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from above" (James 1:17). Give God all the glory.
Give God all the credit all the time at every turn for every little thing, and He will never fail to continue to prosper you and empower you, and protect you and keep you.
Sainthood: Pious perfection versus honest humility
God's idea of saintliness is not sinless perfection. It's a sinner saved by grace, a sinner who has no perfection, no righteousness of his own at all, but is totally dependent on the grace and the love and the mercy of God by faith. Believe it or not, those are the only saints there are--there are no others.
King David was one of the worst sinners that the world had known, but he was also one of the greatest saints, because he knew he was totally dependent on the love and the mercy and the grace of God for forgiveness. In other words, he gave God all the glory. He knew it was all the Lord and that he was a hell of a mess and blew it every time, except for the Lord.
God knows you're anything but perfect and can't be perfect and never will be perfect, and usually you're pretty much of a mess, like the rest of us. The only question, the only standard is: Do you depend on the Lord totally, trust Him and His grace and His love and His mercy, and give Him all the glory and all the credit?
Most people don't realize what God's idea of righteousness is. Their idea of righteousness is so different from God's. When you feel so righteous and good, it's because you are self-righteous and not closer to God, but closer to yourself! It's a perverted idea of righteousness--a kind of "sinless self-perfection."
If you're trusting so much in your own righteousness, your own perfection, it's almost impossible to confess your own mistakes and shortcomings, because it destroys your self-confidence and it nearly shatters your self-reliance, because it proves you're not perfect--but you hate to even admit it to yourself.
This is one reason why we really need to confess our sins--because it helps keep us humble. It helps you to be honest with yourself. And if you're honest with yourself, you will be honest with the Lord, your loved ones, and those around you.
This takes humility of the kind that only God can give, because the flesh is not willing to do these things. It's always vindicating itself, protecting itself, justifying itself, and trying to prove it can do it. The flesh likes to think of itself as all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, and that there are no alps. Because it's just the inborn sinful nature of man to want the glory and so be unable to confess.
So the hardest one to confess our faults to is ourselves. We hate even to admit to ourselves our own mistakes, sins, and shortcomings, it is sometimes so discouraging, humbling, and humiliating. So we try to excuse ourselves to ourselves, and defend ourselves from ourselves, and exonerate and absolve ourselves from all sin, so that we can stand to face ourselves.
This only tends to make matters worse, because when we're not honest with ourselves and we keep trying to fool ourselves, we try to do the same with God and others, and the result is one awful mess. You make a mess of your own life, hurt all those associated with you, and hurt God most of all, as well as hinder your testimony and ministry to others who need you.
So may God help us all to be honest with ourselves, others, and God. It will help us to keep from being false to any man. Falsification is the product of pride, an effort to hide the awful truth of which we are ashamed.
Confessing that you're a sinner, really exposing yourself and your sins, reminds you that you're no picture of purity and innocence. Although you no longer feel quite as angelic, you're a whole lot more saintly according to God's idea of saintliness. The person who knows he's a sinner and therefore gives God all the glory if anything good comes of what he's done--that's what the Lord looks on as saintliness. As Paul said, "I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18). There's nothing good about us or our flesh; it's only the Lord.
In fact, every one of us is a hell of a mess, and if we don't keep our eyes on the Lord and our mind on His Word, we're doomed to defeat, doubt, disillusionment, and final failure. None of us can stand the sight of ourselves. We're a mess and nothing without the Lord, and only He can do it, if we will just yield to Him. As Jesus said, "without Me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).
When Peter walked on the water and started looking at himself, he started to sink. If you start looking at yourself, you're going to sink sink sink, when you think think think, because you stink stink stink! You have to keep your eyes on Jesus. Let go and let God. You can't do it yourself. You can't get the victory. Only God can give it. You can't earn it, work for it, work it up, pray it down, pray it through, and become so wholly sanctified that you're some kind of sinless saint.
So let's forget about trying to be perfect, because we never will be. Let's just follow the Lord and do the best we can. Amen?
Changing the world with love
Our job, the job that God has given to each of His children, is to give His Word and His love to others, to preach the Gospel, to sow the seed, to witness. That's what God has called us for. Jesus commanded His disciples to "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel (Good News) to every creature" (Mark 16:15). And we must do the same. For "the harvest (of hungry, searching souls) truly is plenteous, but the laborers (the workers who will gather them in) are few" (Matthew 9:37).
But perhaps you're discouraged and think, "Well, who am I? What can I do? It all seems so hopeless and impossible. It looks like there's nothing that one person can do to change things for the better, so what's the use of trying? What's the use of doing anything?" And maybe you're tempted to just give up and let the world go to hell, which it sometimes seems to deserve.
Although you may not be able to change the whole world, you can change your part of the world. Don't ever think that because there's so much darkness, it's no use to have just a little light, because even one candle can be seen a mile away when it's dark. (See Matthew 5:14-16.)
Everybody has influence. Your life is bound to affect others. No man is an island. Everybody's influencing somebody--even when you seem to be all alone. "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself" (Romans 14:7). Whether we live or die, we have some effect on others and the world. You're either going to pull people up to your level or drag them down to yours--one or the other. It's up to you!
The place to start is with you--your own heart, your own mind, your own spirit, your own life. If you can change just one life, even your own, you have changed a part of the world, and you have proven that there is hope that it can be changed. The very atmosphere around you will be changed if you even change yourself by the power of God's love.
Then change not only your own life but also those of your own family, of your own home. You'll have a new home, a new family, with new lives, new minds, new hearts, new spirits, filled with the truth and the love of God, the life of God, the Word of God. Then your little family can start trying to change the people you contact from day to day.
You can even go out and make a special effort to reach lonely, hungry, needy hearts, seeking love, seeking truth, seeking they know not what, but seeking happiness, desperately seeking to satisfy their longing, yearning hearts.
You will find that there are many around you who are lonely and longing for love, just waiting for you to make the first move. So many poor folks today who are always seeking genuine love, seldom, if ever, find it simply because there are so few of God's people who are willing to show them His love and manifest it by action, to help them with their physical needs.
It is not enough to merely say to them, "I love you," and yet not try to help them physically in whatever way they may need--food, clothing, shelter, companionship, and so on--this is not love. True, the need for real love is a spiritual need, but it must be manifested physically in works--"faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6).
The only love of God they may see is the love they see in you, and if you don't show them the love they can see and feel, they're going to have a hard time believing that there is someone up there whom they don't know and that He really loves them.
So step out by faith and talk to someone today about God's love. Be a faithful witness and testimony of what has happened to you, what God has done for you personally, and you can start changing your part of the world.
If you want to know how to witness personally, just read the Gospels. See how Jesus handled personal witnessing, how He handled questions. It is just beautiful!
If we preach Christ and God's love to others and they receive it as such, then they will be saved. Those you win to the Lord will be your brothers and sisters forever. They'll be thankful to you for all eternity that you told them about Jesus and showed them His love.
What everybody needs is love. The first and most important thing to show them is that you love them. The greatest need of all is love. "The greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13). So love someone today. Find out what wonders love can do!
You'll find a whole new world of love you have only dreamed of. There are wonders of love that you can enjoy along with some other lonely soul if you will only try. If you give love, you'll get love. So love! "For God is love" and "Love never fails" (1 John 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13:8).
Giving your all to God
When you have yielded your life to God on His altar of sacrifice and asked Him to take it, He will--and He will try to use it for His glory as much as you will let Him. (See Romans 12:1.) You are His, and He loves you and will do His best for you in trying to make you useful and happy in His loving service for others, that you might bring them life and happiness too, as you have found it in Jesus. Since He has been preparing you for His service all of your life, He will undoubtedly use what you've learned in the past, your hidden talents, at some time or other, sooner or later, for His glory. (See Matthew 25:14-30.)
Life, liberty, and the giving of happiness to others: these are things that only God can give, and the only things that will ever truly satisfy your spirit. So if you want to be happy and make others happy, "seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).
For He desires your love and for you to love Him first of all, above all, and seek first His kingdom. If you do, He's happy to add all these other things unto you, including every desire of your heart--as long as you delight yourself in Him. "Delight thyself in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Psalm 37:4).
All He asks is for us to commit ourselves. He'll do everything else for us--give us strength, power, wisdom, life, and love. Only God can do this, but we must be willing and yielded to Him, and make the decision to put Him first without reservations.
Only then can we find the fullness of faith that we seek, when we really begin to forsake all and follow the Lord. When we're willing to "take up our cross and deny ourselves" (Luke 9:23), and yield our pride and will and follow Him, all the rest will come, because He'll give us the power as we surrender to Him.
We've simply got to do the obeying. We've got to do what we know God has told us to do. We have to first of all do the forsaking, the dedicating to God, the commitment to God, and then He will do the rest. Do what you can do and He will do what you can't do.
So don't make the mistake of putting the cart before the horse. The blessings don't precede obedience. You can't say, "Lord, You bless me and do this or that for me, then I'll obey." God tests you first to see if you'll obey, and then He can bless you. It's such a common mistake people make.
If you obey what you know God wants you to do, then He will show you more truth; and when you obey that, He'll give you a little more, and step by step, as you follow Him, He shows you more and more. The trouble with some Christians is that they stopped obeying the little truth they did have, and as a result, God hasn't been able to give them any more.
He can make something out of nothing--even you--if you'll just yield, trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey. Are you willing to do both? The one cannot go without the other. You can't obey without trusting, and you can't trust without obeying.
If you're willing to be what God wants you to be--not what you are, but what God wants you to be--then He can mightily use you. In fact, there is no limit to what He can do with a man who is yielded and willing to do His will.
"Choose this day whom you will serve. If the Lord be God, then follow Him. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (1 Kings 18:21; Joshua 24:15).
You are no fool to give a life you cannot keep for a love you will never lose. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: But whosoever will lose his life for My sake," Jesus said, "the same shall save it" (Luke 9:24). May God bless you with a new life and a new love in Him.