Sometimes we pastors can start studies on certain themes, but, try as we can, some of them never really fell into place enough to give that “Yes...that’s it!” feeling.
For a preacher that can be scary. After all, what does a pastor do when people are looking to him for something?
Friends, especially pastors, if the Lord is silent, never think that you have got to come up with something.
There just might be a reason.
I have sometimes stood up at a pulpit and had to discard my notes, stop thinking of what I had prepared and tune in to the voice of the Spirit of God. Always be prepared of course.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:19; Mark 13:11 and Luke 12:11 not to be concerned about what you will say when occasion arrives. He told us not to think about our welfare at the same time. His words, “take no thought” come from the original Merimnaō that talks about getting anxious, worrying, fretting and so on. The speech or words He spoke about are Laleō and most times it refers to What we say.
When it comes to public speaking, some folk seem to reach a brick wall and want to freeze up. I understand that, but sometimes this is a copout...an excuse for not totally trusting God. Everyone has some kind of testimony or story to tell.
God came into their life in some way that, by sharing it, another person can be blessed and encouraged.
We often feel totally inadequate and nervous and that’s OK, but God can and does change the situation. I know that this works by personal experience I once had such a massive inferiority complex that I could hardly talk to people and often cried with the sheer frustration.
It was only after I was saved and saw myself in a new light, that Jesus loved me wart and all; that I was accepted in the Beloved, compete in Him and that I was now a new creation, I could look at myself in the mirror and actually like the person I saw.
I could point at that man and tell him, “Hey, I like you. You’re OK”, because God liked him too and thought he was OK.
Some people baulk at the potential of what God has placed in them and always feel and act inadequate and in so doing cheat themselves and possibly cheat other people in the process.
Recognize who you are in Christ. Do not get swell headed and have too high a self opinion of yourself, but do not deny God the courtesy of boasting a little about you.
Why not read Romans 12, starting at verses 1 to 3 for a while. Paul told us to think the right way about ourselves then starts talking about how we are all different and have a unique position on the body of Christ.
OK, now go to your bathroom and take another look at the person staring at you and tell that person, “You’re OK. God loves you. I love you. We’re going to do great things together—you, me and God!”
So, next time someone asks you to do something, what are you going to do? Do it (but don’t make a show of it)!
I said a moment ago that I had a tremendous inferiority complex, but the Lord set me free from that. I was asked to share my testimony as a brand new believer by the representative of the bible society who had befriended me in an inter-denominational rally.
I had never spoken in public before and was nervous, but once I started to share, a boldness came on me that I had never experienced before. The only problem I had was not projecting my voice. There is a difference between yelling and projecting one’s voice. Don’t yell. Conversely, do not mumble—both can put people off.
If you are ever asked, check if the Lord OK’s it and then go ahead, so that you can give Him credit for what He has done in your life. Be positive. Do not talk about how difficult your life is and all that and give your life history. Talk about the Lord’s work in your life.
The Lord also came to my rescue when I was in California at a major convention. I was asked to share in an outdoor setting that was to be televised by satellite. I asked the compare how many people were expected to watch and was told, “Oh, around 12 million people”.
My heart started to pound. I started to get butterflies in my stomach. Me legs were trembling and as I watched to countdown start, I asked the Lord, “Help”.
He did. As I stood in front of the cameras, the floor manager behind was doing a silent countdown with his fingers and when he reached “5-4-3-2...the trembling stopped and then, when he reached “1”the person interviewing me said “Hello America. My guest is Robert Carter from Australia” and the rest as they say is history. That was my first time on TV.
You might never be asked to do such things, but you could be asked one day what makes you so joyful, or why are you so different. Be ready for anything, because that anything can and does happen.
Please never think that you cannot do it! You do not need to have a degree in christianity, a doctor of theology or such things (they often clutter the truth). As long as you have a B.A. Degree (Born Again degree) you qualify.
Look for a moment at the Last Supper, when Jesus told the disciples that one would betray Him. They started wondering who it was, except for one man; John the beloved. He turned to Jesus, knowing that he was not the one and asked Him who it was. Peter, as usual, the brash impetuous Peter who shot first from the hip before ascertaining the facts, blurted out, “I won’t do that. Not me! Never!”
Hours later he denied the Lord three times. I can imagine him saying, “me and my big mouth” later, going through all kinds of emotional turmoil.
What we say is a more serious matter than we realize. Your mouth can condemn you or it can bless you.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21.
That word power used here is Yād and it refers mostly to the hand. The significance is that this is the terminal part of the arm used to perform functions of man's will. It is man's hand which does normal work functions whether they be good or bad.It relates to authority, being responsible, taking care over something and having dominion.
This is the kind of thing we see in the creation account when God put man in charge of everything. God has Spoken creation into existence, then put man in the garden to be in charge or take authority, and brought all the animals He had created to Adam so that the man could give them a name. Speech therefore is vitally important and we have the power to control it; to use it constructively or destructively.
What Peter said had the potential to take him to Hell! After His resurrection, Jesus corrected that in John 21. He got Peter to undo what he had said. Three times Peter denied Jesus and three times he told the Lord that he loved Him. The Lord spoke about denial this way-
Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. Matthew 10:32-33.
Never think for a moment that this will be easy. Sometimes it will be very hard. Do not think that your own family will understand you either, or think that Jesus brings peace, peace, peace all the time. Look at this-
Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.
The Lord continued-
“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.
If anyone rejects you for sharing Jesus with them, do not get hurt, angry or confused. He had that treatment dished out to Him too and please remember that they are not rejecting you—they are rejecting Him!
Jesus asked Peter to undo the damage he had done by his own mouth, or “faith confession”. I cannot emphasis enough that what we say is what we become and what we say is what we get. This is not some blab it & get it doctrine, but a powerful force that, once activated, will do what it was released to do unless it is undone.
I know that you do not talk like this, but have you heard someone say things like, ”Why is this always happening to me?” “Why am I always struggling?” “I am always broke and always hungry!”” It’s flu season again and I always come down with the flu!”
They have what they have said—that’s why.
Me and my big mouth could be the cause.
In John 21, Peter had been so plagued with his guilt and conscience and so disappointed that things had not turned out as he had thought they would that he literally quit. This is getting onto another topic altogether in a presentation I have entitled “I’m goin’ fishin’” but he had given up and the Lord had to rescue him. They had been fishing all night, toiling hard, cold, wet and caught nothing (sound familiar?), but Jesus was warming himself by the campfire with a fish breakfast and more fish waiting in the water to be caught on His command.
Did you see what I said... “Waiting to be caught on His command?”
Never ever start feeling sorry for yourself thinking that you have nothing. You don’t and never will have a thing as long as you think and talk like that. You might not be able to see into the depths of that ocean, but Jesus can and He knows how to get supplies to you, regardless of where you live, the state of the nation or anything else.
He fed 5000 people with a small boy’s picnic lunch, didn’t He? If God is not a respecter of persons, don’t you think He can do it for you too?
He told the disciples, “here’s breakfast!” and then asked Peter it he loved Him. Three times He did that, to undo what peter had done.
Now that we have the word of God to turn to and the Holy Ghost to teach us, we do not need to fall into the trap Peter did, but if we do—fix it. Apologize to the Lord real quick, receive His correction and forgiveness and get on with it.
Peter did just that. Bold, brash, impetuous, bigmouth Peter who was afraid, lied, ran away and did all those things that we could just as well have done too was forgiven and received back into fellowship.
The Lord was with them for 40 days teaching them about the Kingdom of God (remember...this is God’s way of doing things) and then commanded them to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Ghost arrived.
This is where it gets interesting and also applies to us. It was Pentecost.
You know about Passover and how Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples before going into the garden where He was arrested, followed by his crucifixion the trial and His execution and resurrected.
These events lined up precisely with Jewish Moeds (appointed times and seasons). Passover commences this year at sunset of Friday, April 22, 2016 and ends nightfall of Saturday, April 30, 2016. The counting of the Omer starts during this festival season and everything comes to a climax on Shavu’ot that we call the Day of Pentecost some 50 days later.
Those 120 followers of Jesus, including Peter had been with the Lord for 40 of those days and then-
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.
They all started speaking in other tongues...as the Spirit gave them utterance. The Holy Spirit can give us utterance you know. This includes speaking in other tongues as well as giving us the right words to say at the right time when it is necessary! Think that through...
On that day, 120 people had a divine encounter when the Holy Spirit came—and He is still here! Everyone present began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance in the same way he gives us utterance today. Some churches deny this administration today or make all kinds of excuses to explain it away, but do not fall for that trap (which it is). I urge you to visit my web site and peruse the pages on the Holy Spirit and His gifts, Breaking the sound barrier, the Fruit of the Spirit or Working out at your spiritual gym.
Jerusalem was full of Jews who were there to observe the festival season and they came running to the 120 to find out what was happening! I seriously doubt if people will come running to a church today because God is there, but it need not be so!
Imagine it. On that day when the religious folk came to that house and asked, “What’s happening?” some genuinely curious or others blurted out, “They’re drunk” and mocked them.
Peter...who had been in denial before; who was a blabbermouth and a rash impetuous, coarse fisherman (who Jesus picked); who was unable to talk to a crowd before because he was scared, suddenly found his place in the church as a leader, stood up and spoke with such boldness, conviction and authority and preached a message that gave the Holy Spirit something to use.
You see, Jesus told us in John 16:1-11 that the Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. The Holy Spirit is the one who activates the preaching of God’s word so that people will respond, so if He is not allowed to operate, we might not get the best response. There is more to it than that of course, but I hope that you see the importance of the Holy Ghost’s work. Take Him out of the equation and all you have is human doctrine, intellectualism and ability.
Peter was energized by the Spirit of God so much that he became a changed man.
Turned from a sniveling coward into a dynamic preacher, he preached up a storm and 3000 people were saved that day! If you look at other accounts in the early church you will see similar patterns. Not long after Peter’s “What meaneth this?” sermon, 5000 people were saved, then we see that the Lord added new believers every day. All this was not to get the church started as some folk advocate, it was the start of a pattern of how things should be done.
The wonderful thing about this is that we do not have to be a rocket scientist, hold a university degree or graduate as a bachelor of divinity to accomplish what God wants. They are good and useful, but can also clutter the situation and be detrimental to the cause.
Yes, even in some bible colleges.
In acts chapter 3, Peter and John were going to the Temple at 3pm to pray and they met a lame man there.
Peter and John looked at him and Peter, the previous weakling of a failed man told him “Look at us!”
Can you see the change in the man?
Can you honestly tell a stranger, “Look at me” knowing that God can and will do something extraordinary in that person’s life? We can and we should.
That man looked at them and he expected something!
Often times people fail because they do not expect something.
That man was healed.
What happened to Peter can happen to you!
It can happen in everyday life. It can happen on the job; when you are looking for a job; when shopping; when the kids get sick or whenever.
Life is real and it is sometimes hard.
That’s the reality of things.
Often times no one else cares what happens to you. They could have problems of their own and could even be going through exactly the same things you are, so don’t expect sympathy to be there all the time.
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Replace that word temptation with testing, trial, problem or difficulty. Notice that Paul said God would give you or show you a way out, not to avoid the situations in life, but to know what to do when it is necessary.
I mentioned before how some people always seem to be going through one problem after another. There are some people who we love, but wish to God that they were somewhere else at times. They come up to you and you ask a simple friendly question, “How are you?” to be given an organ recital. “Oh, brother Robert, my lumbago is troubling me. My arthritis is paining me. I have this ache here and I have that pain there. I have a big bill to pay and don’t have enough money. The kids need such-and-such”. You have probably met them too.
To be honest with you, sometimes I wish they were leaving, instead of arriving and when they start talking, you know where they are at.
They dump their problems on you and walk off, leaving you feeling ‘ucky” and heavy.
They spoke something creative, but creative in the negative sense.
You see, everything we say can and will produce something productive. God designed it to be that way.
Paul also told us-
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
There are a few key points I want to make. He requested prayer—whilst he was in prison—that God would grant him opportunities to talk about Jesus—as clearly as possible.
Let our speech be clear and distinct so that there is no ambiguity; no “second guessing”; no “hidden agendas”. Even at work etc, we can and should talk like that, but when we are talking abut the things of God, be even more plain and clear. Point to Jesus. That’s our central core objective. We can get sidetracked onto all kinds of other and often valid matters and spend valuable time and resources on them and miss the real purpose.
Paul also told us to make the most of every opportunity. That is self explanatory as he explained-
I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom:
Finally, Paul said to ensure that what we say is constructive, conducive to create an atmosphere of faith and seasoned with salt that makes others want what you have. What is that?
Whatever is inside you will eventually come out. One way or another, it will come out and is mostly what we say. I will get onto that soon, but what made the difference between the two Peters?
That lame man at the Temple saw it. The people saw it and started to marvel at what had happened. Peter then preached again and this time held nothing back. He told the religious folk, “You are the ones who killed Jesus”! No wonder he got right up their noses and why we sometimes jar such folk. Religion cannot handle truth.
Peter and John were arrested and put into prison whilst the religious leaders discussed what to to and here we see something wonderful that can also apply to us today. Please note my emphasis.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people,
There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
f you think that you are not worth it or qualified enough, take note of what people thought of Peter. He had failed but he had also been with Jesus.
Now I am not telling you that you go around quoting bible verses all day or get onto any religious trip of any kind. What I am saying is that you can spend time with the Lord and whatever time you have with Him rubs off onto you.
The reason is that they have lived together long enough for the two individuals start to live as one, which is the bible description of a God-ordained marriage.
If we spend enough time together, we can start to think like each other, have similar likes and dislikes about certain things and even start talking like each other. How about including the Lord in this?
Obviously we cannot all spend hours studying a bible, or spending hours in prayer. We have to live in a physical world and are also beings with a physical part of our being, so to be “practical”, we have to go about everyday life.
What we can do however is start taking Him into our everyday life. I often ask Him what he wants, or make a comment, “Did you see that?” to him when observing something. I am not being a religious freak. I do not pray every day. Some days I do not even open a bible, but my thoughts cycle continually to include Him in everything I do.
You can adopt a similar principle for your own life...as it applies to you.
There are times however when we must and I stress Must, put a special emphasis on togetherness with Him.
At such a time, we are building the relationship, think of a man and a woman who fall in love and want nothing other than to be with each other, strolling down the beach, hand in hand and have no eyes on anything else than each other. They are fully aware of their surroundings, but focus their gaze on each other.
Did you know that God desires such intimacy too? He came to the garden in the breezy part of the day to commune with Adam. He thinks so much of us, that He calls us the apple of His eye. See Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 17:8; Lamentations 2:18 and Zechariah 2:8. That last reference is powerful. Nobody gets off lightly if they touch the apple of His eye!
If you have not seen this before, one of the meanings of Apple of the eye is a pupil, such as the pupil our eye.
Try an experiment to see if what I say is true or not. Get close to someone and gaze into their eye. If you get close enough, you should see your own reflection there.
God desires such a close and intimate relationship with us that, as we draw close to each other, He can see His own reflection there!
How about that!
This does not happen by accident of course, which is why I major on putting effort into cultivating this relationship. Sometimes it is plain hard work, especially when in the ministry and many people do not make the effort. But when you do take that step towards Him, He reciprocates.
Proverbs 7:2 illustrates some of this.
Follow my advice, my son; always treasure my commands.
Another translation says to keep His law as the apple of your eye.
It is not talking about keeping the legalistic aspects of His many commandments, but it is talking about getting to know what this lover of our souls says; what He likes and dislikes; how to please Him and how to respond to his (dare I say it like this?) romantic overtures.
Think again of those two people strolling down the beach, wanting nothing other than to be with each other for as often as possible and sharing their lives together.
Before Marjorie and I were married, we had numerous telephone conversations. If my telephone rang and I answered, all she had to do was say, ”Hello” and I instantly knew it was Marjorie. Her voice rang in my ears and it was pure delight to hear her.
OK—Put yourself in this scene and imagine it was God calling! Please keep reminding yourself that this is a two way relationship. What’s in it for Him?
I’ve dwelt long enough on those matters and now want to put it together, or to sum up in ways that we can apply these things in everyday life.
Obviously we are not always in a church environment, or with other believers, where it’s easy to “be Christian”, talk the talk, dress the part, carry a big bible and smile at he person greeting you at the door, tell him or her that you have had a wonderful week and so on.
What happens however when you walk out the door, into a busy traffic jam, the engine in your car blows up, your child is bitten by a dog and has to be taken to hospital who send you a big bill for shots. One of our readers took his child to hospital for that reason and had another child in a delirious state because of malaria.
He needs a miracle. Because of the distance between us and the political state, it is all but impossible to send finances in time, so what does someone like this person do?
I know what I am talking about here. My daughter Karen could have lost her eye and had her throat and stomach burned because of accidental chemical ingestion. My son Gary was healed of an incurable ailment that was literally eating his left hip joint away (he is now home with the Lord). I’ve looked down the barrel of a gun pointed at my head and received an electrical shock that should have killed me (it burned a hole in my hand about the size of a pea and that hole closed up overnight).
I know what I am talking about folks so what I share is not a religious cliché.
There are times when we have no answers. There are times when we are alone (and we can be alone in a crowd). There are times when the pantry is empty (and we have been there).
In such times, the best thing to do is to shut up and not say a word. At that point, draw from the well that you should have placed deep down inside you and start to draw from that.
In John 7:37-38, Jesus said-
...If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
The next verse adds-
(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
What we would be best in doing is to start digging a well inside us so that this living water fills us up. When the bad times come, which they do, we can draw off those resources and the Holy Spirit comes to our aid—but we must first put something in there.
Nothing in—nothing out! Garbage in—garbage out. The choices are ours.
Think of Joseph in Egypt. What his brethren did to him wasn’t nice, but it fell into God’s plan. What Potiphar’s wife did was not kosher, but it fell into God’s plan. What the butler did to him by forgetting how Joseph interpreted his dream was wrong, but it fell into the plan of God. What is happening to you right not could perhaps be part of God’s plan, but it could also be happening because of your speech. You might not realize it but there is a miracle in your mouth. Joseph remained faithful in every way possible and God honored him. When the good times came, he stored up sustenance for when the bad times came.
Store up! Start putting sustenance inside you now so that if and when something bad happens, you can draw from it. I hope I have made that clear.
God might not always rescue you from a situation. Sometimes we might have to go through it, but He will show you what to do and how to handle it in the process.
All you have to do is look at events in scripture to see how this works. The people had no water, so Moses asked God what to do and He told Moses to speak to a rock! They had no food, but God told him how to collect manna! A prophet told a man what to do to rescue an axe head and that iron axehead floated on top pf the water. On another occasion the Lord told a man to cast a stick into poisoned water to purify it and it worked!
When you feel that your back is against the wall, do not say one word!
Do not open your mouth if you cannot speak correctly, because your own words will either condemn you or release you. As I said earlier, I am not talking about a blab it and grab it doctrine here. Get the mind and will of God and start saying what He says about it. Jesus said (notice my emphasis)-
...Have faith in God. (this is the God kind of faith) For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Our conversation so important because what we say has creative power. What we say is heard! Let me show you something found in the “tithing” chapter of Malachi 3. Tithing is still a very important and powerful truth, but teaching on this is often not true. The local church is not necessarily what God had in mind. Anyhow, let us see-
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!
We like that! But the people had failed and God said that they were cheating Him.
“You have said terrible things about me,” says the LORD. “But you say, ‘What do you mean? What have we said against you?’ “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the LORD of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins?
If we put this into modern day life, it is easy to fall into the trap of complaining and saying such thing as- “Why bother?” “I tried this and it didn’t work.” “I always seem to be getting in to trouble.” “Why isn’t God answering me?” Oops! Put this into personal perspective. God has been speaking to us about this ministry and going to Africa, but He has told us, “Not yet!” I could easily start saying, “When is this ever going to happen?” Some of you have similar questions. Don’t! Don’t start voicing such things, because you just might negate everything. You could have exactly what you say.
Putting it together:
Let me show you something great now.
Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.
Wow! God actually listens to us! Wouldn’t you like your name to be on that scroll? I do. I want to hear Him say, “Robert, you are mine! You are special to Me. You are one of My treasures.” Imagine Him having a conversation with Gabriel and, pointing at you, saying......(your name).......is mine!
I’ve got to put this together now and close, leaving you with some hopefully practical tips.
Ministers are often called upon to counsel others. Even before I started ministry, people often asked my advice. They must have seen something I guess. I’ve learned that, when asked something like, “What do you think about...” and name the topic, or the person, it is often best not to say, “Well, this is what I think.” Rather, say, “What does God think and say on the matter? What does He think about that person?” When I started this thing, I had a huge inferiority complex.
I couldn’t hold a real meaningful conversation with anyone and they were asking me?
I was dealing with people’s lives and did not want to play amateur psychology with them and told the Lord that. I asked Him, “Can I do that?” and He said, “You can do anything you want Robert”, so I started to stop being the speaker and became the listener!
A good counsellor is a great listener.
That’s a free tip. Listen first. Listen to the other person so that you can find out where they are coming from and as you listen to them, also listen to the Holy Spirit! If He is silent—you remain silent and if He tells you something, share that!
At time went on, I formally trained in such matters, but the best tutor is always the Spirit of God.
Whilst it is a good thing to testify, the problem is that we sometimes do not know when to stop, or share things with the wrong people. Timing is also important. You can share truth but at the wrong time, so be wise about it.
There were many signs in the Second World War telling people that walls have ears and that spies were listening to plans.
It is easy to get carried away with enthusiasm about what God is doing or telling you He is going to do but not everyone you meet will understand or agree with you.
It is possible to say too much and find that people you expected to get on side with you are actually against you. Unless God reveals the full picture, shut your big mouth! In fact, a man’s foes can be people living in the same house as you. We discovered this ourselves the hard way and only last year released some folk we though were with us, but they were not.
The next point, that I often come back to is that we need to learn how so say what God says. We cannot walk around all the time carrying a big black bible and we cannot talk bible talk every moment of the day. That’s not real.
People often tune out when bible bashers hit the scene, so be real in your conversations and be ready to share the things that really help. Your testimony is one, but keep it short, sharp and concise.
Finally, all of you be harmonious,sympathetic, affectionate, compassionate, and humble.
I said earlier “garbage in...garbage out”. If you constantly watch TV, then remember that the programs are designed to program you into their ways of thinking. Your intake is through the eye gate and the ear and make no mistake...it is real. It affects us and is designed to do so. Try it! Watch a thriller before going to bed and I am sure you will relive some of the program. It can operate like a computer virus...
What you take in, will definitely come out through the mouth eventually. This is what Jesus said defiles a man, because it goes into your spirit man, or the heart. See Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45.