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Posts Tagged ‘brokenness’

The Requirement for Usefulness

November 13th, 2017

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” (Acts 9:15-16 ESV)

Several people mentioned to me yesterday how much they appreciated the sermon on Joseph’s promotion. For years he had been locked up in confinement, and seemed to maintain his faith and servant attitude, but suddenly he was catapulted into national prominence. Yet this promotion did not go to his head, he did not become proud. Rather he learned to listen to others rather than speak himself. He was humble and wanted God to get the glory from his life.

Most of us can handle adversity easier than we can handle success. We learn to worship and serve the Lord, even though we are personally going through a difficult time. But when we receive a promotion, when God blesses our job or our ministry, then we are tempted to pride. We are tempted to lord it over others, to forget God, to become selfish and stingy. The one who tithes sacrificially on a meager salary, will be tempted to give less than a tenth when he gets a raise. We far too easily forget God’s goodness to us, and imagine that we do not need Him any more.

Joseph did not do this. His faith was as remarkable when he was experiencing advancement as when he was undergoing adversity. He was humble, God-centered, ready to serve others, not lustful over attention or the praise of men.

A requirement of all who God will use is a broken spirit. Jesus said:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:24-26 ESV)

When God called Paul, along with the call was a prophetic statement, “For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” We are unsure how much money Paul had - we know that sometimes he was in significant financial hardship, but we also know that he was always like this. Paul himself said, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil. 4:11-12). He had learned - by the Spirit’s work in his life, by his challenging life calling, by the examples of other believers around him - the art of dealing with all circumstances.

Kipling has this marvelous line in his little poem “If” - “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.” Paul learned, as we all should learn, that disaster does not remove God’s hand from our lives, and triumph does not remove our need to remain humble and faithful before Him. In all situations and conditions, the Christian’s goal must remain the same - that God would be glorified in and through our life.

There is no person in Scripture that God used in any significant way that He did not also break. He broke strong wills, egotistical mindsets, hedonistic lifestyles, self-centered agendas. He broke people that He might use them, and bless them. Brokenness leads to greater usefulness and greater joy than selfishness does. The selfish person is a miserable person. Harry Overstreet made the profound observation: “The ungiven self is the unfulfilled self.” We are made by God not to live selfishly for our own glory, but to be broken, humble, and poured out before Him.

Daily Devotions , ,

Brokenness

May 14th, 2016

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Luke 9:23, NKJV)

Rarely do I write on Saturday night - I am usually getting ready for Sunday - but tonight I feel compelled to put down something in print.

We are in the midst of taking surveys of our congregation - seeking to gain insight on how we can be more effective for Christ. Most people have been very gracious and very supportive of what we are doing at present. A few people - and only a few - have been critical. I found myself this evening trying to formulate answers to explain why some ideas would not work, and, to some degree at least, to try and justify myself. It is easy to be tempted with pride, to answer unkindly and pridefully the few who seemed proud and unkind to me.

God put it on my heart tonight to read Calvary Road by Roy Hession - you can find it free in a pdf. file online. It is a classic book on personal revival that I have often turned to. But it has been gathering dust lately on my shelf.

Immediately, God put on my heart and brought to my attention the one thing that I should not do - respond in pride! This was, of course, the very thing I was beginning to do in my heart. Hession himself started  the book in his own preface with giving a similar testimony. He wrote of a time when he was also too proud to experience revival.

IN April, 1947, several missionaries came at my invitation to an Easter Conference which I was organising. I invited them to come as speakers, because I had heard that they had been experiencing Revival in their field for a number of years, and I was interested in Revival. What they had to say was very different from much of what I had associated with Revival. It was very simple and very quiet. As they unfolded their message and gave their testimonies, I discovered that I was the neediest person in the conference and was far more in need of being revived than I had ever realised. That discovery, however, only came slowly to me. Being myself one of the speakers, I suppose I was more concerned about others’ needs than my own. As my wife and others humbled themselves before God and experienced the cleansing of the precious Blood of Jesus, I found myself left somewhat high and dry - dry just because I was high. I was stumbled by the simplicity of the message, or rather the simplicity of what I had to do to be revived and filled with the Spirit. When others at the end of the conference testified of how Jesus had broken them at His Cross and filled their hearts to overflowing with His Holy Spirit, I had no such testimony. It was only afterwards that I was enabled to give up trying to fit things into my doctrinal scheme, and come humbly to the Cross for cleansing from my own personal sins. It was like beginning my Christian life all over again. My flesh ” came again like that of a little child,” as did Naaman’s when he was willing to humble himself and dip himself in Jordan. And it has been an altogether new chapter in life since then. It has meant, however, that I have had to choose constantly to die to the big ” I,” that Jesus might be all, and constantly to come to Him for cleansing in His precious Blood. But that is just why it is a new chapter. (Roy Hession)

There is a danger that any of us who have had training and experience and successful ministries can fall into - the sin of thinking that our knowledge and experience are enough, that we do not need to humble ourselves and let Christ have us. It is easy to think that we are enough in ourselves without him. Pride begats pride - pride in one person promotes pride in another, and before you know it people are arguing among themselves, using the name of Christ and good causes, but in reality it is a group of people who need spiritual revival.

When we begin to think like this, we are most blind to our need. We never reach a point in ministry that we can usurp the throne of Christ and put ourselves in his place. Our experience will never be an adequate substitute for a single minute for Christ.

Furthermore, there is the temptation to see our situation as our will versus the will of those who are not in agreement with us. This is always the wrong approach to take in Christian work. The only will we should seek to know and follow, is the will of God. We need to be broken by him, to take up our cross and follow him, to deny ourselves and let him be himself in us.

Let me encourage you in dealing with whatever challenges you are facing. Do not see them as you versus others, your will or theirs. Seek instead to know the will of God and let His will be your one and only goal. Take the burden off of your shoulders and place it upon Christ. You will not be sorry, rather through your surrender to Christ,  you will be allowing Christ to bless others. The first step in becoming a more useful Christian to God is the step of brokenness - dying to sin and self and living to Christ, letting him be himself in us.

The Deeper Christian Life , , ,