Once you give your life to Jesus Christ, God begins to work in and through you to accomplish His will. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:13 states, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” First Thessalonians 5:24 promises, “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.”
Submit or Resist
The choice is yours. Either you submit and say, “Here I am, Lord. Accomplish Your plan for my life.” God then molds you, leads you and enables you to achieve His purpose. Or you resist; becoming increasingly stiff-necked, obstinate, hardhearted and rebellious, struggling against the free reign of God’s Spirit in your life. But then you will not be useful in bearing fruit in Christ’s Kingdom or achieving the full potential and purpose He has for you. Will you be submissive and surrendered or resistant and rebellious?
Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” His response was, “Here am I. Send me!” (6:8). Isaiah went on to become one of the greatest biblical prophets.
When I first started our ministry, I was no speaker or writer. The odds were not in my favor; I had no hope of real potential. So I prayed: “Lord, here I am, I yield myself to You. No matter what it costs, I am willing to do Your will!” On my weekly fasting list was a plea: “Take my weaknesses and make them my strengths. Please speak and write through me.” God has molded my life and ministry over the years – often in the wilderness of adversity. He has used our publications, audio messages, speaking engagements and radio broadcasts to have an impact on tens of thousands of people around the world.
As I deal with Christians involved in a variety of questionable or clearly unscriptural practices, I find they have one of two attitudes:
First, some respond: “I really don’t care what you say or how much evidence you have concerning the potential danger or what the Bible says about it.” They become defensive and somehow try to justify or condone their involvement. As long as they have this attitude, God cannot guide and direct them to accomplish His purpose.
2 Chronicles 30:7, 8 was a warning sent throughout Israel and Judah by King Hezekiah. It stated:
Do not be like your fathers and brothers, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their fathers, so that He made them an object of horror, as you see. Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were; submit to the Lord ….
Stephen echoed a similar rebuke which resulted in his being stoned. In Acts 7:51 he cried out:
You stiff-necked people…You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
Proverbs 29:1 states:
A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy.
Many years ago David Wilkerson was speaking at a national convention I was attending. He gave an anointed message on purity of life and mind. He warned the pastors and leaders to turn off the filth on television. One of the pastors I knew said, “He’s not going to tell me what to do.” Later that night he went to his hotel room and watched an R-rated movie. Several years later, after losing both legs to diabetes he was a changed man with a true heart for the Lord. He dedicated the rest of his life to missions until He went home to be with the Lord.
The second attitude, and the one God desires us all to have, says, “Father, more than anything else I want Your will for my life. I may not see anything visibly wrong with what I am doing, but I will read and search Your Word. I will get on my knees and pray and fast and be sensitive, submissive and obedient to what Your Word and Your Spirit lead me to do.”
Speaking with non-Christians, I do not condemn their music, alcohol, smoking or sins such as sexual promiscuity or occultic activities. I may warn them about potential consequences, but I do not condemn them, because even though they cease that involvement, they are still lost without Christ. I share the overwhelming evidence for Jesus and the superior peace, joy and power that is available through the resurrected Christ!
I was training Mike, a man from California, who was accompanying me to Haiti later that month on a mission trip. It was close to midnight when we went into some rough areas of Oceanside where there are many gangs, homeless and a high presence of military recruits from nearby bases. After sharing Christ with several gang members and then about 10 Marines waiting for a bus, Mike and I moved to another place in front of a gay bar. I started a conversation with a young man who quickly proclaimed, “I am gay and an atheist!” I replied, “I am not concerned about your sexual preference.” The young man’s response was “Wow! You are the first religious person to make that comment.” I said, “First, I want you to come to know the Creator. Look into the sky and consider that there are billions of stars in billions of galaxies. Also consider your DNA and you can begin to realize how complex the universe and our bodies are. This did not happen by random chance. An intelligent Designer created us.”
I continued, “God says in the Bible that if you search for Me with all your heart, you will find Me. My main concern right now is to challenge you to search for the evidence of the God who created you. Coming to know Him will lead you to Jesus Christ. Then, by His Word and Spirit, He will deal with the other issues in your life.” As we parted, the young man seemed visibly touched by what and how I shared.
Don’t let the enemy sidetrack you regarding peripheral issues. Remember, the Lord Jesus did not enter Jerusalem and cleanse Pilate’s judgment hall or Herod’s palace, but He did cleanse the Temple! Besides, when non-Christians come to faith in Christ and are truly submitted to Him as Lord, His Spirit and Word will begin to transform their lifestyles.
However, when I deal with Christians who are involved in unscriptural activities – that is different. I let them know that they need to clean up their lives, and I challenge them to become sensitive and obedient to God’s Spirit and Word.
One Reassuring Fact
A Christian woman, involved in a questionable practice that was spiritually dangerous, felt God was leading her to quit, although she did not know why. She saw nothing outwardly wrong with it. After talking with her, I shared some facts that she was not aware of. Tears began to flow down her face as she said, “You have confirmed what God’s Spirit has been speaking to my heart.” As a result of her sensitivity and submission to the Lord, He was able to protect her from a dangerous practice and lead her in the path He desired for her life.
It is reassuring to know that when you remain yielded, available and surrendered to God, it is impossible for you to get too far out of line. If you get involved with a practice or belief that is unacceptable to Him, He will speak to your heart through His Word and Spirit, and the Great Shepherd will guide and direct you back to the path of righteousness.
The problem starts when you become insensitive, stiff-necked, obstinate and hardhearted or try to justify your involvement. Then you get out of God’s will and resist His Spirit’s dealings with you. This kind of rebellious attitude before the Lord, carries one promise – that of reaping what you have sown. But when you are sensitive and yielded to the Spirit of God and obedient to His Word, you have the promise of eventual blessing, victory and of all things working together for good. You will be aware of God working in your life to achieve the purpose and potential He has for you.
Almost Hit by Bus in the Himalayas
After speaking at a convention in the Himalayas of northern India, my team and I were making our way down the winding mountain roads as we headed to Calcutta. We stopped in the village of Darjeeling. Standing in the middle of a narrow road for a more panoramic view, my son and I surveyed this Himalayan mountain village deciding which direction to go. Suddenly a bus came speeding around a sharp curve heading straight toward us. Horn blaring, the bus maintained its speed as it rushed nearer and nearer with no sign of slowing down.
Sizing up the situation, I glanced to my right and left. Instinctively grabbing BJ, my then thirteen-year-old son, I quickly tried pulling him to the left, but his impulsive reaction was to go in the opposite direction. Adjusting my momentum to accommodate his motion, I pushed him to the right. He simultaneously responded to my initial tug by moving toward the left. There we were in the middle of the road going in circles as this massive bus came bearing down upon us. I could have jumped out of the way and saved my life, but I promised my wife I would bring our son back alive. If he was going to die, then I was going to die with him on the streets of India, so I hung on.
BJ was in near panic, and I was not doing very well myself. With adrenaline flowing and my heart pounding, thoughts of how we were both going to be killed flooded my mind, because buses in the Himalayas are notorious for not stopping for pedestrians. I personally have seen them barrel down the road, stopping for no one as young and old alike hurry to step aside or leap to safety seconds before the bus speeds by, missing them by inches.
Realizing this, our situation seemed hopeless. Fortunately, by the grace of God, the driver realized we really were in trouble, and to our amazement, suddenly slammed on the brakes and slid to a stop no more than two feet in front of us. I remember standing there in the middle of the street after it was all over, looking at the flat front of the bus directly ahead of me thinking, “I could not even have jumped on its hood to get thrown to the side. It would have hit us, dropped us in the street, and then run over us. We would have had no hope for survival!” Thank God for His mercy and protection!
The point of this illustration is that when our heavenly Father is leading us in one direction, and we insist on going in another, then dangerous and sometimes fatal consequences occur. Rather than going around in circles in your life, take your lead from the Lord.
When I was involved in the martial arts (before the Lord led me out) the easiest way for me to lead someone’s body was to lead their head. Wherever their head went, their body would follow. I used to demonstrate this with a volunteer from the audience. It was easy to lead a person who was submissive and yielded. But if they would stiffen their neck and resist, I would explain my choices:
1. I could exert more force and possibly injure his neck.
2. I could break his stiff neck.
3. I could knock him unconscious and then drag him wherever I wanted.
4. I could let him go his own way and bang his head against the wall, or against my knee, or whatever, as a natural consequence of his resistance.
When we resist the Lord’s will and refuse to submit, He also has choices:
1. He can exert more pressure in our lives to get our attention.
2. He can break our stiff necks and rebellious wills by humbling us.
3. He can knock us unconscious by not using us anymore or allow Satan to render us ineffective.
4. He can let us go our own rebellious ways and reap the consequences, until we learn and are ready to submit.
Meekness and a Strong War Horse
Throughout the Scriptures we frequently see the word “meek.” Many wrongly equate the meaning of meek with its rhyming word, weak. But that could not be further from the truth. When the Lord said in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,” He was talking about those who will rule and reign with Him.
While in Bible college, I learned that the word meek was used in the Greek in reference to a strong war horse which was prepared for battle. With just the slightest touch on the reins, the horse would go in the intended direction of the rider. It became submissive and sensitive to the rider on its back. The horse had not lost any of its drive or dynamic power as a strong stallion, but had merely been brought under the mastery of the one who rode on its back. If its spirit was broken, its strength drained or any of its dynamic qualities changed, then it would be useless for its purpose. But as it was brought under control and submission, it was said that the horse was now praus, translated meek (or prautes, translated meekness) throughout the New Testament.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary states:
It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His [God’s] dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; and as such, we do not fight … struggle and contend with Him …. It must be clearly understood, therefore, that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power. The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself; but the Lord was “meek” because He had the infinite resources of God at His command.
Isaiah 45:5, 9 declares:
I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from Me, there is no God. … Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker. … Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?”
When horseback riding as a teen, the horse I was on was determined to knock me off. It tried to smash my legs by continually running about two inches from the trees. I had to keep pulling one of my feet out of the stirrups and lift my leg over to the other side of the saddle to avoid having it smashed against a tree. When that didn’t work, the horse tried to “clothesline” me a few times by going underneath low branches. I had to keep ducking down to avoid getting knocked off.
There I was on this out-of-control horse, pulling as hard as I could on the reins in an attempt to stop it or even slow it down – so hard that its mouth was bleeding. But it would not stop; it ran even faster trying all the harder to knock me off. Finally, so upset with my trying to slow it down, the horse impulsively ran off the trail and burst through a barbed-wire fence in racing back to the corral. Its chest had multiple gashes, blood mixed with sweat streaming down. My pants were ripped and my legs had several cuts.
That horse was rebellious! I could not control or lead it. God does not want you to be like that horse because you will bring destruction on yourself. He tells us to be meek, humble and yielded so He can work in us; so He can speak to our hearts and lead us where He wants, without having to hit us over the head to get our attention or to force us to obey.
Psalm 32:9 states:
Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check…. (NAS)
The praus horse also had a bit and bridle, but to get it to obey one did not have to yank the reins and bit or bloody its mouth. Rather, one lightly pulled on the reins to guide and direct the horse. It willingly followed the master’s direction. God is not telling us to be weak or a doormat. He is saying, “Have your dynamic strength, but do not resist and fight Me. Be submitted to Me.”
Instead of being stiff-necked, obstinate, hardhearted and rebellious, let’s be praus. Let’s be sensitive, submissive, surrendered, yielded and available so God will work in and through us to accomplish His purpose for our lives!