By Zac Poonen
Take Up the Cross Daily
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “ You have circled this mountain long enough” (Deuteronomy 2:2,3). If we are always at the same level spiritually, we are going around in circles. We should be making progress in overcoming sin – and not be constantly defeated by the same old sins that defeated us many years ago. We should not be losing our temper or lusting with our eyes after women, as we did 10 years ago. If we are still defeated in these areas, then we are going around in circles. The Lord is now calling us to move forward. Did you take up the cross yesterday? Perhaps you did. But that was sufficient only for overcoming the evil of yesterday (Matt.6:34). Today is another day. And you have to offer up your body and your self-will as a sacrifice again. Today you have to die to your lusts, to your anger, to your pride, to your love of money, to your love of man’s honour, to your bitterness etc. These lusts are present in our flesh and will be with us as long as we live. That is why we need to have “a daily cross”, right until the end of our earthly lives. Is there this daily sacrifice in your life? If not, then the spirit of the Antichrist has certainly deceived you.
Believe in God’s Ordering of All Things
Job knew that all that he had – children, property and even health itself – were all God’s free gifts to him and that God had every right to take them all away if He so desired. And so when he lost all of them, he worshipped God and said, “”The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:20-22). One cannot truly worship God until one has forsaken all – that is, given up the right to possess anything as one’s own. Job also said: “God KNOWS every detail of what is happening to me” (Job. 23:10 – Living Bible). Today we can go even further than Job and say (on the basis of Romans 8:28) that “God PLANS every detail that concerns me.” If we love God and seek to fulfil His purpose alone for our lives, then everything that God allows to come across our path is planned by Him in perfect wisdom and love – and His power is almighty enough to make all of them to work for our growth into the likeness of Christ ( Rom.8:29). God could point out Job to Satan as a perfect and upright man in his time. God should be able to point us out to Satan even more – as men and women who will never complain or grumble under any circumstance, but who will only give thanks for all things at all times ( Eph.5:20).
Seek to be filled with Love
The unmistakable mark of the fullness of the Spirit is LOVE – as Romans 5:5 makes plain. What a difference it would have made in Christendom if love had been emphasized more than “speaking in tongues” – if Romans 5:5 had been emphasized as the identifying mark of the Spirit’s fullness and not Acts 2:4. God’s Word says that even if we have the gifts of tongues, prophecy and faith to move mountains, we are still azero in God’s eyes, if we don’t have love ( 1 Cor.13:2). On the other hand, even if we don’t speak in tongues, never prophesy and never move any mountains, we can still be approved by God, if we have love. Jesus received the approval of His Father at His baptism (“This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well-pleased ”), before He had exercised any of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit in His life. He was full of the Spirit for 30 years – filled with love for His Father and love for others. That is how He pleased the Father. Love is the greatest – for it is the very spirit of heaven . Jesus said, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). And He tells us, “ As the Father sent Me, so send I you” (John 20:21). So, as the Body of Christ, we should be able to say today, “If you have seen us, you have seen a little bit of what Jesus is like. If you live in my home, you will taste a little bit of what heaven is like. If you fellowship with me you will taste a little bit of what Jesus is like and a little bit of what heaven is like”. That should be our testimony. We may preach, evangelise and teach the Bible, but if we do not manifest the life and love of God in our daily lives, our testimony for Christ is a failure. This is the tragedy in Christendom today.
Learn to Give
It is certainly a great blessing to receive God’s gifts. But God wants us to have something more – a greater blessing, Listen to this word of Jesus:”It is more blessed to give than to receive” ( Acts 20:35). If you obey that word, you will experience this greater blessing – the blessing that comes through giving. The Bible says “the one who waters others will be watered himself ” (Prov.11:25). When we bless others, God blesses us even more. Our Adamic flesh is naturally selfish and thinks only of itself. We do not naturally like to give what we have – either to God or to others. The Holy Spirit wants to deliver us from this selfish, self-centred life of Adam and to make us like Jesus. And one way He does that is by prompting us to give and give and give. Listen then to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in this area – and you will find a blessing that you have not experienced so far. This is the way to the abundant life.
Be Free from Curiosity
Curiosity is a sin that most believers have not recognised as a Satanic evil. Our flesh has a great longing to know many details about other people that are unnecessary and that have nothing to do with us. The flesh loves to listen to gossip about the sins of others – which are often shared by some believers as “prayer-requests”!! But such information will never do us any good. On the contrary it will pollute our minds, prejudice us against others, make us evil-minded, and hinder our witness and our ministry for the Lord. That is how Satan leads many believers astray. The Bible says, “Do not suffer as a busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Pet.4:15). In other words: Mind your own business – MYOB !! You must never allow anyone to tell you about his past sins, even voluntarily. Everyone must confess his sins to God alone, and not to any human being. Sin must be confessed only in the circle in which it was committed. Sins of the thought-life and those committed in private that hurt no-one but ourselves, must be confessed ONLY to God. But sins that hurt another person, must be confessed to God as well as to that other person. Sins committed against a church must be confessed to God as well as publicly in the church-meeting. We must follow this rule strictly, if we are to keep our minds pure and un-polluted.
Always Choose the Creator Instead of the Created
Man becomes a slave when he chooses what God has created over God Himself. Most men love money and sinful pleasures more than God. Thus they become slaves of money and slaves of sinful pleasure and thus destroy themselves. Jesus came to deliver us from this slavery. A true conversion will deliver man from such slavery. Most human beings are enslaved also to the opinions of others – and so they are not able to serve God freely. God created man to be like the eagle that flies high in the sky. But everywhere we find man in bondage, unable to conquer his temper and his lusts. Jesus came, not just to forgive us our sins, but also to deliver us from every form of slavery to the lusts and desires of the flesh. Most of the quarrels that take place in homes are over earthly things. Such quarrels arise because both husband and wife choose created things above God Himself – and they reap the consequences of their choice. They sow to the flesh and they reap corruption. Your home can be supremely happy if you refuse to make the choice that Eve made of choosing what God created over God Himself. Say to the Lord, ” Lord, I don’t want Self to be in the centre of my life, I want everything in my life to be centred in You alone”.
This is the way to the abundant life that Jesus came to give.