Years ago while ministering in the Philippines, I met a man that I deeply respect. He has built an incredible ministry, started over one thousand churches, trains and launches hundreds of leaders out every year and conducts crusades across his nation in a tireless fashion that would rival the hardest working minister in the world!
I was so impressed with his ministry. As we sat under the palms discussing our dreams for the Kingdom of God, he told me the story of his challenging beginning.
Early in his ministry, he struggled to build a work that was free from the control of American money and influence. He realized that pastors in third world countries sometimes look to American ministers for support more than to God. He wanted a ministry that could be true to its calling and he taught all his Pastors to raise support from their own people. That in itself is an incredible mindset and a daunting feat.
He managed to build a building that would serve as a local church and a base for his outreach ministry. At the height of experiencing some degree of success, someone burned down his facility. All the resources were gone, the people were discouraged and it looked as if it could be the end of his dream.
In typical fashion, believers around him defaulted to their superstitious mindset. Like many believers, they assumed that things going wrong were an indicator that he was in sin, God was not blessing him, or he had opened the door to the devil. Those who had sought an occasion to find fault began entering the ministry of “Job’s comforters”.
In the midst of what seemed to be total failure, he found hope and peace that didn’t make sense. He demonstrated the heart of a true overcomer; he refused defeat. He marched into the middle of a pile of ashes that was once a church building and mounted a sign that said, “Out of these ruins a church triumphant will arise.” That man went on to become one of the most influential National, Christian leaders in his country.
He understood Kingdom Living. He did not look to the outside to validate his sense of identity. He looked inward into his heart and found the strength of God. He connected with the grace of God. In Kingdom living, we can never determine success by circumstances. We look in our heart and sense the peace that comes from following God in our heart.
We all have or will face trouble. It may be a tragedy that threatens all we hold dear. Or, it may be the hundreds of common issues that face all men. But Jesus said that it’s impossible to reach a place in life where offenses do not come (Luke 17:1). The question we must ask is this, “Will I look into my heart and connect with God; or will I try to use force, control or some carnal means to respond to the problem?”
As I come to the end of this year, I am reflecting on the past year…. Never as a way to fret, worry, condemn or judge. I am looking at the year gone by and attempting to make it valuable. Any experience, good or bad, finds its ultimate value only when it becomes a learning experience. There is no greater learning experience than an honest heart. God speaking in our heart can teach us more about life and success than a thousands books.
No matter what the past has been, we can learn from it, grow in grace and knowledge, thereby expanding my capacity to share in His divine life. 2 Peter 1:3 is one of my all time favorite scriptures. As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. The knowledge it speaks of in this verse is an experiential knowledge. This is where we learn from our experiences. Every situation good or bad, can allow me to experience the Divine power that brings life and Godliness, if I allow it to plunge me deeper into my knowledge and understanding of God.
This past year may have been great for you, but some of you; like me, may have endured a very difficult year. The last three years, since my automobile accident, have been some of the most difficult in my life. I have rarely faced so many onslaughts at one time. The last three years were consummated by last year being one of the most difficult I have ever seen.
But as one the scriptures I quote most, although slightly out of context says, It came to pass… Nothing comes to stay; it always passes. All I have to do is not waver while I’m waiting and I will always outlast the problems. Paul said it this way; You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. … but the Lord delivered me from all of it (2 Tim 3:11, NLT). However, as overcomers we don’t just outlast them, we grow in the midst of them. We conquer and are transformed in the process.
Jesus called us overcomers. An overcomer is not someone who develops some extreme level of faith that prevents them from ever facing challenges. There is nothing that will usher us into a Utopian world. The Bible warns that there are many persecutions and afflictions that face the Righteous. The power of sin is at work in unbelievers, carnality is at work in Believers. The world can be a frightening place. But an overcomer is a person who faces the challenges, trusts God, walks through it and emerges victorious… a better person!
My message to you is the same one that has been proclaimed from the beginning. Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you (1 Peter 4:12-13, NKJV). But the great news is this: God didn’t bring the trouble, God will deliver you from the trouble and even if it’s your fault, He will still deliver you. Listen closely, No matter why the problem came, the growth is in the deliverance! It’s not the trouble that makes us grow; it is listening to and yielding to God that makes us grow!
As we face the world, trusting and committing ourselves to Kingdom reality, we experience the peace of God in our hearts, regardless of what’s happening outside. While we have little control over circumstances, we know we can follow God and always emerge completely victorious! We grow in the grace of God that makes us able to stand and win! We develop our character and our trust in the love of God abounds… all through the process of overcoming!
he greatest thing that comes from yielding to God in a crisis, is that we gain such grace, wisdom, confidence and experience that we will never struggle with that problem again. The next time we are tempted to go down a destructive path we won’t go. Or the next time that crisis arises we will have total peace and confidence. But this only happens when we go into our heart, learn from God and grow in grace. This is how we live in the Kingdom while in this world!
When you face trouble, Job’s comforters will always show up. There are those that will say, “This is the proof that God is against you, that you have failed in some way; or their favorite is, you have some secret sin!” And I hope you are not among those saying such destructive lies to yourself!
When you have your feet rooted in the Gospel of Peace your first reaction is, “God is for me. This is not from God. I will emerge victorious.” Peace between you and God becomes your foundation for standing through every assault! But I say, “The problems we face do not define us or our spirituality. The way we respond to those problems is the proof that God is with us and that we are a person of character.”
I have never moved forward without incredible opposition. When I first started conducting crusades I would get prophecies before every meeting telling me how I would die on the mission field. Every time we have made a significant move forward a new batch of rumors would arise. As often as not, they do not arise from our enemies, they usually arise from people who disagree with our decisions; they arise from people who seek to control us by opposition. I can’t remember a time when as many attacks have been made on me as this past year…. But God!
God prepared us for these challenges by giving us the tools in advance. In Gal 6:9 He says, And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Every time I have stood, in the end I was not only delivered, I emerged triumphant… And so will you!
Stop listening to and thinking about anything, that anyone is saying or doing against you. Think only about how you will follow God in the situation. Enter the realm of the Kingdom by believing the truth in your own heart. Only allow yourself to think of last year’s failures and successes in a way that you focus on how you will respond next time. Don’t let defeat be a repeat, but turn it into a Godly feat, by making new choices.
Remember, the Bible says you find when you seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking, ask and keep on asking (Matt 7:7). Don’t keep asking because you think you’ve got to persuade God. This is talking about a mentality that won’t give up. God started moving to deliver you before you knew there would be a problem. If you believe God is for you, always wants to deliver you and always wants you to have the best; and if you believe you are qualified for all the promises through Jesus, you will not give up. You will not surrender to the circumstance. Neither will you succumb to the pressure of the world’s system. When you know these things and grasp the principles of the Kingdom, you will go into your heart to find God and His solutions. You will rest in peace as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death!
Last night, in the wee hours of the morning as I was praying I sensed the voice of God saying, I am turning your mourning into joy. I knew that what I had sensed all along was becoming a reality. God was turning the curse into the blessing.
Through all of this, I have refused, in the face of health challenges, emotional pain, more than adequate betrayal and financial challenges, to stop moving forward. We kept planting seed in the garden of the Kingdom and I know in my heart we are entering a new time of sowing. But this was not a surprise or news to me. I knew this moment would come. I had already seen the end in my heart. I had no doubt, because in the Holy of Holies (my heart) I had met with the King on a daily basis.
Don’t let the clutter of external chaos, threats and noise get you so tense you run around in a panic. Go into your heart and find God! Hear His voice. Experience entering into that realm that is wonderful, beyond human logic and imagination. That peace that surpasses all understanding.
Chaos is a distraction. It causes us to look outward instead of inward. We get the idea that if we take our eyes off the problem it will get worse. It like flying in an airplane and thinking you’ve got to stay awake and pray to keep the plane in the air! If you’re focusing on the problem, you’re not seeing God.
Once while facing a major problem I began to do all that I was taught. I bound, I loosed; I confessed; I spoke the Word. As I did all those things, I realized I wasn’t doing any of that because I actually trusted God. I was doing that to get God to do something. All of which was a testament to my unbelief about what He had done in Jesus. The Lord spoke this verse to me, Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength (Is 30:15, NLT).
This truth defied my Charismatic upbringing. I was taught to go to war, get active, and do something to solve the problem. In this situation, God showed me that I wasn’t acting out of faith. I was acting out of fear.
Just the other day while facing an obstacle, and feeling such peace, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Do you remember how you used to do all that spiritual stuff because you didn’t believe, and now you do nothing because you do believe? It’s not that I do nothing. It’s the fact that I do externally what I feel led to do after communing with God. Thank God for freedom from formulas, and the reality of a relationship!
The Message Bible says it like this, Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me — The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.
All year I have introduced new series about Kingdom Living. When we begin to deal with our own heart, it always leads us to Kingdom living. Since the Kingdom is within, we must enter the realm of the heart to experience it. This is the place where all God’s promises really work. This is the place where life becomes better than anything we’ve ever seen, heard or imagined. Make the investment in your own heart and live in the Kingdom promises… today! Let this be your year to live in the Kingdom promises God prepared for you!