Zac Poonen: Principles Of Serving God
Copyright - Zac Poonen (1999)
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1. Principles of Serving God
2. God Needs Men
3. Some Important Truths That I have Learnt
PRINCIPLES OF SERVING GOD
(A message given
to evangelical Christian leaders at the
conference on “The church's mission and leadership training”
- December 17,
I'd like to turn to the Word of God in Revelation Chapter 4.
After the Lord had given John a revelation of Himself in Chapter 1, He gave
John an insight into the actual state of many of the churches in that part of
the world - in Chapters 2 and 3. As you know, many of those churches were in a
very backslidden state. Then the Lord said to John in Chapter 4:1: "Come
up here!". What a lovely word that is!
When we see the state of things around us, and encounter problems for which
we do not have a solution, it is good to hear the Lord saying to us, "Come
up higher! Come and see things from My standpoint - and not from the low
earthly level from which you have been looking at these things". I believe
this is a word that we need to hear constantly - "Come up higher!”.
Paul said, "One thing I do - forgetting what lies behind, and reaching
forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the
upward call of God in Christ Jesus". He had heard the call to come up
higher and he was never satisfied, no matter how high he had reached.
The danger in Christian leadership is that we stand so much in front of
people. We are acclaimed. We even have media coverage now. We have titles
before our names and degrees after our names!! What more do we need! I'll tell
you what we need : “We need to get closer to the heart of God! We need to go
God did not create Adam because He needed a servant. He did not create Adam
because He wanted a scholar. And He did not create you and me because He needs
servants or scholars. He already has enough servants in the millions of angels.
He created Adam first of all that Adam might have fellowship with Him. That's
why, for Adam, the law was NOT: "Six days you shall work and the seventh
day you shall rest". No. That came through the Law of Moses later.
Adam was created on the sixth day. And so his very FIRST day - the seventh
day for God but the first for Adam - was a day of rest and fellowship with his
Creator. It was from that day of fellowship with God that Adam was to go out
into the garden and serve God for the next six days.
And when we forget that order - when we forget that fellowship with God must
always take precedence over our going out into His vineyard to serve Him - then
we've missed the primary purpose of our creation and of our redemption.
We can be so taken up with the need around us - and especially in a country
like India - that we have no time for fellowship with God. We may feel that's a
waste of time, when there is so much need around us. But what is the result of
need-based work? Perhaps plenty of work - but the quality will be poor.
Statistics are deceptive. You've probably heard the statement that there are
three types of lies - black lies, white lies and statistics!! Statistics are
deceptive. The Jehovah's Witnesses have statistics, the Mormons have
statistics. And these are among the fastest growing groups in the world today.
Islamic fundamentalists have their statistics too. Everybody has statistics
these days. But Jesus never bothered about statistics.
There are times in my life when I have been through certain crises. One was
very early in my life when I sought to serve the Lord and I found that although
I knew the Word, I lacked power! And so I sought God for the baptism in the
Holy Spirit - to be endued with power from on high. Now, I know there are
different views on this - and I am not trying to convert anybody. I am just
saying that I was born again and baptized in water, but "rivers of living
water" were not flowing out of my life. Yet I knew that Jesus had promised
that everyone who believed in Him would have rivers of living water flowing out
of their life - they'd never be dry. But I found myself dry, many times. Even
though I knew the Word, and even though I was preaching, I was dry. Very often
my service for the Lord was like pumping a hand-pump. You know what that means
- you pump and pump and a few trickles of water come out. It is certainly not
like a river. Yet I saw the word of Jesus clearly: "Everyone who believes
in Me, out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water".
All I can say is that I sought God and He met with me. And that changed the
direction of my life. I didn't join the Pentecostal church. I do not consider
myself to be a Pentecostal or a charismatic. But God met with me and filled me
with His Holy Spirit.
And then years later, I came to another crisis in my life. That was a crisis
that dealt with the issue of reality - whether what I was preaching was
actually true in my inner life, and whether the burden that I appeared to have
when I spoke to people was something I really carried in my heart as well.
It was nearly 28 years ago that we had the first All-India Congress on
Evangelism at Deolali. I presented a paper there. I was young then - just 30
years old. And you know how it is when we are young. I wanted to impress
everyone. And my paper was impressive, because I had worked hard on it. My
ministry continued with traveling to speak at deeper life conferences in
Australia and Singapore etc., And everywhere, my aim was to impress people.
Then the Lord spoke to me once and asked me, "Do you want to impress
people or do you want to help them?" I said, "Lord, I want
to help them". Then the Lord said, "Stop trying to impress them
then". I came to a place then in my life, where I had to say, "Lord, my
inner life does not correspond with what I am preaching". Externally, I
had a good testimony. But my thought-life and my attitudes - my attitude to
money - were not Christ-like. I was proclaiming Christ with my mouth but the
Spirit of Christ was not ruling my thoughts. And I was honest about it with
I believe that the first step to God is to be honest.
By then I was fairly well-known. I was writing books that had a wide
circulation. I had a weekly radio programme. I was invited here and there. One
day the Lord spoke to my heart and said, "Are you willing to stand up in
front of that congregation that respects you and tell them that you're not
genuine, that you're not real". I said, "Yes, Lord! I don't care what
people think of me. I want you to do something for me. I ask you only for one
thing: That my inner life will correspond with what I preach".
That's what I asked the Lord for 23 years ago. God met with me again. He is
a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. And the Lord said to me,
"Come up higher".
Fellowship with God has now become the most precious thing for me - during
the last 22 years. It has changed my life and taken away discouragement and
depression from my life altogether.
I have found the secret of walking with God. And that's made my service
joyful! It is no longer dry!
All your service depends on your personal walk with God. You remember when
Jesus was in the house of Mary and Martha. He said to Martha, "You are
worried and bothered about so many things". What was Martha worried about?
There was a need there. And she was serving the Lord, unselfishly and
sacrificially, sweating away in the kitchen - not cooking food for herself but
for the Lord and His disciples. What greater service could she do than that? It
was totally unselfish! And she didn't do it for money or for a salary, as many
Christian workers serve today. No. It was totally unselfish! And yet the Lord
told her, "You are bothered about so many things". She had thought
that Mary was selfish, sitting there at the Lord's feet and not doing any work,
but just listening. And Jesus said, "That's the important thing. That's
the ONE THING needful".
There is a beautiful paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 4:2 in The Living Bible
that reads like this: "The most important thing about a servant is that he
does just what his master tells him to." That has brought so much rest to
my heart. What am I to do when I see a needy world? Get all worked up with the
need? There are plenty of manipulators in Christendom who are ready to work me
up. But I say to the Lord, "I want to hear You". There are plenty of
Marthas who will criticise me, saying, "Tell him not to waste his time
listening, when there's a needy world perishing in sin."
We must certainly look at the world's need. Jesus said, "Lift up your
eyes and look at the harvest". We must see the need and we must point out
the need to others too. Yes. But the call must come from God - not from man. I
have discovered that.
Jesus sat in heaven for 4000 years while the world lay dying in need of a
Saviour. Nobody could pressurise Him to leave heaven before the Father's time.
But "in the fullness of time", He came. And when He came to earth, He
sat making stools and benches for 30 years - while the world lay dying! He
would not be moved by the need alone. But when the right time came, the Father
said, "Go". And He went. And He did more in three-and-a-half years
than others could do in 3000 years. The most important thing about a servant is
NOT running around doing this, that and the other for God, but listening to
Him. It's difficult to listen.
I used to be in an assembly in my younger days where we studied the
Scriptures, and fasted and prayed regularly. Every morning we were taught to
have a "Quiet Time" - a good habit that I would recommend to
everyone. But in spite of all the hours apparently spent in the presence of
God, people were still sour, bitter, hard-to-get-along-with, judgmental,
critical and suspicious..... Something was wrong somewhere. I have known times
when I have spent just 10 or 15 minutes with a godly man, and I have been
challenged and inspired. Can you imagine then what spending 10 or 15 minutes
with God Himself can do? How is it then that all of us were not being changed?
The Lord showed me that I was not spending time with Him in my Quiet
Time. I was spending time with myself. I was just studying a book - whether the
book in front of me was the Bible or a chemistry book didn't make a difference.
I wasn't spending time with God - listening to Him. I was just studying a book!
Jesus said concerning Mary, "One thing is needful....to listen".
From that flows everything else. And that's a very efficient way of serving God
because He can tell you what He wants you to do!
The Father told Jesus what to do. Once Jesus was prompted by the Spirit to
walk 50 miles from Galilee to Syrophoenicia, outside the borders of Israel. I
don't know how many hours it took Him to get there - probably a whole day.
There He met a Gentile woman, whose daughter was demon-possessed. He cast out
that demon and pointed out to His disciples the great faith that woman had when
she asked for just the crumbs that fell from the children's table. Then He
walked back to Galilee. That was how Jesus lived. He went all that way for just
ONE soul. That wasn't impressive - statistically!! But it was in the will of
Jesus served like that for three-and-a-half years. And at the end of that
period He said, "Father, I have finished the work which You gave Me to
do" (John 17:4). Had he met all the need there was in the world - in
India, in Africa? No. He hadn't. But He had finished the work the Father gave
Him to do. And He did not desire to live on earth for a single day longer The
apostle Paul too could say at the end of his life, "I have finished my
You have a different calling and I have a different calling in Christ's
Body. But we must all understand what God wants us to do. One of the main
reasons for our becoming deaf to the voice of God is the unreality there
is in our lives - the dishonesty and the pretense.
The Pharisees could not hear what Jesus was saying because they were living
a life of pretense. They gave others the impression that they were godly. They
stood up there in front of the people as the leaders and scholars of their
time. If you had met Peter or John, four or five years before they had met
Jesus, and asked them, "Peter, John, could you tell me the name of some
godly man whom you know?", they would have mentioned the name of some
Pharisee who was an elder in the local synagogue. Because that was their
understanding - that people who studied the Scriptures, fasted, prayed, carried
little boxes of Scripture-verses on their foreheads and looked so holy and
pious, were truly godly people. Then you can imagine the shock they got when
they heard Jesus lambasting those elders in the synagogue as a bunch of
hypocrites who were candidates for hell.
When Jesus selected His disciples, he did not select even one from any
Bible-school. There was a Bible-school being run by Gamaliel in those days in
Jerusalem. But Jesus didn't go there to select His disciples. He picked them up
from the lakeside in Galilee - uneducated men - and made them His apostles. And
they wrote books, which Bible-seminaries now give to people to study, for a
doctorate in theology!! Isn't that amazing?? I think Peter himself would not
have been capable of getting a degree from any of our seminaries. Perhaps only
one of the disciples would have been able to get such a degree - Judas, the
cleverest and smartest of the lot.
Why did Jesus pick such people? They were simple-hearted and willing to
listen to Him. What a stir there was when these simple men went to any
synagogue and preached. They did not preach the routine messages that the
people there had always heard. They were prophets. And people have never liked
prophets. In the 1500 years of Israel's history, as Stephen said, "Which
of the prophets did they not persecute?"
Those apostles were not diplomatic speakers. They were prophets. And I believe
that our country could do with a few prophets at this time, so that we could
hear what God is saying. God doesn't care for that which is big and great in
the eyes of men.
I am not against meetings like this. But I stopped going to such meetings more
than 20 years back. I turn down such invitations now. I know that such meetings
can make you famous. You get media exposure. But I have discovered as I have
traveled in the villages of our land - where most of my ministry is now - that
the people who do the real work are not at a conference like this one. They are
unknown and out there in those villages. They can't speak English and they
certainly don't know what it is to present a paper. But they are filled with
the Spirit, they love the Lord and they go out and bring lost souls to Christ.
Praise God for such people. Others organise their missions and become known as
mission-leaders and get the honour. But many who are first now will be last
when Jesus comes back. So it is good for us to be humble. It is good for us to
have low thoughts about ourselves. Perhaps we are not so great in God's eyes as
other Christians think we are, because of our degrees and our titles. These may
impress men, but not God. In fact they don't impress the devil either. The devil
fears a holy man, a man who is genuine, a man who is the same inside as he is
on the outside, and a man who never preaches what he does not practice.
People ask me, "Brother Zac, why don't you urge people to go to North
India?" I reply, "Jesus taught only what He first did" (Acts
1:1). I haven't lived in North India. So I cannot tell others to do it. I'm not
saying that it should not be done. I'm only saying that I cannot preach what I
But then I'm not the whole body of Christ. I'm only one part of it. I am an
imbalanced member of the body of Christ. I will always be imbalanced. The only
balanced man that ever walked on earth was Jesus Christ. You are imbalanced and
so am I. Let's not think that any one of us is more than just one part. Every
part is needed - the evangelist, the teacher, the shepherd, the prophet and the
apostle - for people to be made members of the body of Christ and for that Body
to be built.
What is our calling? It is to make someone who is not a member of the Body
of Christ a member of that Body. Isn't that our calling basically? I think
we'll all agree on that.
Since the Holy Spirit uses the word, "Body", let me use an
illustration from the physical body. Let us say there is a plate here, with a
potato (representing an unbeliever), that has to become a member of my body.
How does that happen? It happens first of all through evangelism - the hand
reaching out and taking that potato.
Evangelism is always the first ministry in this task. That is why I never
devalue evangelism. I value it very highly - and especially those who are
engaged in this ministry in the heat and dust of North India. I am interested
in reading their magazines - I get a number of them in my home - to read about
the ministry of these dear brothers of mine who are labouring there. I have
been up there now and then to meet some of them too.
Here then is my hand taking the potato from the plate. That potato will
never become a part of my body if the "evangelist" (my hand) does not
go out and do "evangelism" (put the potato in my mouth) .
But is that all there is to it? If I just keep that potato in my mouth, will
it become a part of my body? No, it won't. After a while it will get rotten in
my mouth and I will spit it out. That is how some converts get rotten in some
of our churches! They are taken in and kept inside the mouth!
But something more has to happen to that potato. It has to be chewed and
crushed by my teeth. The potato can then imagine that everything is over. But
all is not over! The potato goes down to my stomach, and there finds that acids
are mercilessly poured on it. That is a picture of prophetic ministry in the
church. You know it's not comfortable when acid is thrown on us. The gentle
ministry of being picked up from the plate was so nice. But when acid is thrown
on us, that is far from pleasant. The potato is now broken down completely and
it no longer looks like a potato. But in a few weeks, lo and behold, it has
become blood and flesh and bones - a very part of my body!
Now, whose job was the most important in this task. What ministry do any of
us have that we did not receive? If we are humble, we will confess that we are
imbalanced. The hand is not more important than the stomach. They complement
each other. Unfortunately in Christendom there is this perpetual competition
between the members - the hand building its own kingdom, the stomach building
its own kingdom, and the mouth building its own!! What do we have then? Not a
body, but an "Anatomy Laboratory", with a mouth over here, a stomach
over there, a hand here and a leg there. That's not a body!
What do we need most of all? Yes, it is true we need instruction. But we
need humility more than anything else. We need to recognise that we are all
equally important - every member in Christ's body. And the great mission leader
is no more valuable in this ministry than the poor brother who can't speak
English properly, but who goes out and brings souls to Christ. They are all
part of the same body.
"Come up higher", the Lord says, "and look at things from My
viewpoint." Things look very different when viewed from God's viewpoint
than from an earthly viewpoint.
Why is it that so many Christian workers have such a high opinion about
themselves? Be honest. What are the thoughts you think about yourself, when you
are all by yourself? Are they thoughts of humility, recognising that you
yourself are nothing?
There are times when I sit outside and look at the stars. I know there are
millions of stars and that the whole earth is just a tiny speck in this
universe. And I say, "O God, how great You are! How great this universe
is! I am such a small little speck of dust on this speck called Earth. And here
I am claiming to represent You and preaching such great matters. Please help me
to have a sober estimate about myself." I would recommend that all of you
say that to God.
God gives grace to the humble. Anybody can have knowledge. But only the
humble can receive grace. We need grace far more than we need knowledge.
I have thought of the young people who come to the Lord and who are
persecuted by their families for their faith. When such a person comes to one
of our churches, what does he see? Does he see the spirit of Jesus Christ
there? People around us have such a wrong impression of Christianity.
I've long believed that the first principle of all effective ministry -
whether evangelism or whatever - is found in Hebrews 2:17, where it says that
Jesus "was made like His brothers in all things ". I want to meditate
on that - He was made like His brothers in everything.
How can I serve others? I have to be made like them in everything. I have to
descend to their level.
Why is it that I cannot communicate with a little ant crawling on the floor?
Because I am too big. If I go to that ant in human form, it will be terrified.
The only way I can communicate with that ant is by my becoming like it first of
all. The only way that God could communicate with us was by His becoming like
us. We can all understand that. But let us remember that in our ministry to
others too - whether in a local church or in an unreached area - the first
principle is this - to be made like them in all things, "to sit where they
sit", as Ezekiel said (Ezek.3:15).
That means, for example, that we don't want to exalt ourselves above others
in any way. This was why Jesus told His disciples never to take any titles like
"Rabbi", "Father", or any other title. Because a title will
exalt you above the people whom you serve. You will overawe them with your
greatness, instead of being one like them.
In spite of such a warning, we still have lots of people with titles in
We think we can serve God better by adopting the methods of the world. But
that is just not true.
In the Old Testament, we read that the Philistines captured the ark of God
once. But they had a problem with it, and so they sent it back on a bullock
cart. Years later when David was about to move the ark, he thought, "Hey,
that's a good idea. The way that the Law taught, of the Levites carrying the
ark on their shoulders, is all right for short distances. But for long
distances, the Philistine method is certainly better." And so he too put
the ark on a bullock cart. And you know what happened. The oxen stumbled and
Uzzah stretched forth his hand to steady the ark. God was angry and smote Uzzah
dead on the spot, because he was not a Levite. God wouldn't change His methods.
Then David was greatly disturbed. But where did it all begin? It began with
David imitating the Philistines. And death came in.
Death always comes in when we imitate the ways of the world, when Christian
churches are run the way business enterprises are run, and when money becomes
the Number One factor in Christian work.
A good question we could ask ourselves is whether the church or organisation
that we are running will survive, if all money stops coming in. Or will the
whole thing come crumbling down then? A true work of God may use money
but will never be dependent on money. It will be dependent only on the
The Bible says that the Spirit is jealous (Jas.4:5) - jealous when something
else or someone else takes His rightful place in the church. It could be music.
I'm not against music. I believe we should have the best possible music in our
churches, without imitating the world. But we must not depend on music.
For example, at the end of a meeting, if we think that by getting the organ
to play softly, we can move people to make a decision, what is that? It is
psychological manipulation, not Holy-Spirit power.
If the Word of God is preached in the power of the Spirit, like Jesus
preached it and like Peter preached it, you won't need any organ playing softly
at the end. You can have it if you like, but it's not going to help. But if you
haven't got the power of the Holy Spirit, then you will have to manipulate
people psychologically to make them take a decision. But you will discover in
the long run that such decisions are only emotional and superficial.
The Holy Spirit is jealous for His rightful place in the church. You can't
replace Him with theology. You can't replace Him with music. You can't replace
Him with money. Thank God for all these things. Use them all. Jesus used money.
So how can we be against it. It is written that Jesus sang a hymn. In Hebrews
2:12, we read that Jesus Himself is the One Who leads the church in praising
the Father. So when we praise God, we are only following our Leader. So how can
we be against music. We are not against any of these things. But it's a
question of what we depend on.
Do we depend on great personalities or great preachers? No. The Holy Spirit
Jesus became a servant. Every Christian leader speaks about a servant
life-style and being a servant and many books are written about it too. But
what does it mean in practical terms? Let me ask you: How do you treat your
coworkers? How do you treat your junior-most coworker, who joined your group
just yesterday? Is he really a brother to you or does he live in awe of you? If
so, then even if you preach about servanthood until doomsday, I'd say you
haven't understood it. You haven't seen Jesus.
Jesus was so simple. He never overawed people. He said, "I am a son of
man" - and that means, "an ordinary man". He was the pure and
holy Son of God Who had lived from all eternity with the Father. But He came
and lived on earth as an ordinary man. He became like His brothers in all
For us to become like our brothers in all things, something in us has to
die. It says about Jesus that "He humbled Himself to the point of
death". Death is the perfect proof of our humility.
The grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies is guaranteed much
fruit. That was one of the things that I discovered when I had this crisis of
reality with the Lord 22 years ago. I understood that the greatest work that I
could do for the Lord in India was to fall into the ground and die - die to my
will, to what people thought about me, to my ambitions, to my goals, to my love
of money, to everything - and especially to my Self - so that thereafter Jesus
alone would be everything to me, so that I could look up to Him every day and
honestly say (like the psalmist), "Whom have I in heaven but Thee and
there is nothing and no-one I desire on earth beside Thee" (Psa.73:25).
There are times when I lie down on my bed and say to the Lord, "Lord,
my ministry is not my god. You alone are my God. Nobody will ever take Your
place. You are everything to me. You can take away my voice, paralyse me or do
whatever you like with me. I will still love You with all my heart." Nobody
can take away my joy - because in God's presence there is fullness of joy. It
is from that fount alone that the rivers of living water can flow through us.
One last thing: Many, many years ago, when I was a young Christian, the Lord
spoke to me from 2 Samuel 24:24, where David said, "I will not offer to
the Lord that which costs me nothing".
What the Lord spoke to my heart that day was that when He came to earth, He
had offered that which cost Him everything. And if I was going to serve Him, I
would have to serve Him in that same spirit. Every service of mine must cost me
How is it with your service for the Lord? Has it cost you something? We have
many people in Christian work in India today, who are earning five to ten times
what they would have been earning if they had been in a secular job.
Is that sacrifice?
I made a decision when I quit my job in the Indian Navy, 31 years ago, that
I would never receive any money that would raise my monthly income to more than
what I would have earned in my secular job. That decision has preserved me for
We don't have to judge others. And I am not here to judge you. I don't know
many of you and so it is easy for me to say this: Ask yourself what you would
have been earning today if you had been in a secular job.
John Wesley used to tell his co-workers, "Let it never be said that you
have become rich by preaching the gospel."
Do you know where Christian work suffers the most? Right here, in this area.
You cannot serve God and money. That's the issue that we need to deal with
first of all. We can spend our time here talking about every other subject
under the sun. But if we don't deal with this problem of the love of money, all
our service will be useless.
People relocate their residence from one place to another. There is nothing
wrong with that. Jesus also relocated His residence from heaven to earth. But
when He relocated, it was a step down. And it was because He had a
genuine concern for people here on earth.
Why have you relocated?
Again I'm not judging you. I'm only asking.
Did you relocate your residence, because you felt that from your new
location you could serve the Lord more effectively in India - the land for
which you seem to have such a great burden? Do you have a genuine burden?
Can we live in the comfort of South India and have a burden for the villages
of North India? Maybe you can. But I don't see how I can do that myself.
Can you live in the United States of America and have a burden for India?
Yes - but only on paper. On paper you can have a burden for anything!
The devil is a great deceiver. He deceives us thoroughly. He makes us feel
that we have a great burden for something when in actual fact we have nothing
but hot air!!
I want you to be honest with yourself.
I'm not presenting a paper here. I'm sharing my heart.
And I hope it is God's heart too.
I'm not judging you, my brothers and sisters. God told me years ago,
"If you judge others you will destroy yourself."
I stand before God today and say that I'm not judging anyone. I judge
myself. And I repent. My life is one of daily repentance - because I see
un-Christlikeness in many areas of my own life. I repent and say, "Lord, I
didn't speak kindly to that person. I want to learn how to speak".
The man who cannot control his tongue - his Christianity is worth zero, as
James says (James 1:26).
And I want to keep that verse before me always.
Paul said something about his coworkers once. When he was looking for someone
to send to Philippi, he said he could find only Timothy, because all the rest
who were with him then, were seeking their own!! (Phil.2:19-21). Note that Paul
did not say this about the heathen but about some of his coworkers. Getting on
to Paul's team itself was an honour, for Paul was the type of person who would
not permit even a John Mark to continue on his team, because he felt John Mark
was not radical enough. Yet Paul felt that most of his coworkers were seeking
Today, many are preaching the gospel and appear to be burdened for souls,
but they are really seeking their own gain and comfort. They are promoting
They are promoting their children and their family members - to take over
their work when they retire!!
Saul also wanted to promote Jonathan. But God said, "It's not Jonathan
but David who has to take over as the next king." That made Saul furious
and he tried to get rid of David, in order to promote his own son.
Do you think that such things are not happening in Christendom today? They
When we serve the Lord and speak the truth, we are not going to be popular.
But if we seek to please men, we cannot be servants of Christ.
I want to thank God for every brother and
sister - and especially for those who labour in difficult situations, who have
made sacrifices that we will not know about until Jesus comes again, who are
not known in Christian circles, whose names are not heralded and who have no
media coverage, but who are God-fearing, humble people, sacrificially spreading
the gospel of Jesus Christ in our land. I want to salute them. I praise God
with all my heart for such people. I stand nowhere, when compared to any of
them. Many of them are working in our churches and our organisations. Let us
follow in their footsteps.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Amen.
GOD NEEDS MEN
God needs men today -
· men who will stand before His face and hear
His voice daily;
· men who have no desire in their heart for
anyone or anything other than God Himself;
· men who fear God so greatly that they hate
sin in every form and love righteousness and truth in all their ways;
· men who have overcome anger and sexually
sinful thoughts, and who would rather die than sin even in thought or attitude;
· men whose daily life-style is one of taking
up the cross and pressing on to perfection, and who are constantly working out
their own salvation with fear and trembling;
· men full of the Holy Spirit, who are so
rooted and grounded in love that nothing can ever move them into an unloving
attitude towards another human being, however great the provocation;
· men who are so rooted and grounded in
humility that neither human praise nor spiritual growth, neither a
Divinely-endorsed ministry nor anything else will be able to make them lose the
awareness of their being less than the least of all the saints;
· men who have an understanding of God's
nature and purposes through His Word, and who tremble at that Word so that they
will not disobey even the smallest commandment or neglect to teach it to
· men who will proclaim the whole counsel of
God and expose religious harlotry and unScriptural human traditions;
· men who have the revelation of the Holy
Spirit on the secret of godliness, on Christ having come in the flesh and
opened a new and living way through the flesh;
· men who are diligent and hardworking, but
who also have a sense of humour, and who know how to relax and play with
children and enjoy God's good gifts in nature;
· men who are not ascetics, but who at the
same time live a disciplined life and who are not afraid of hardships;
· men who have no interest in expensive
clothing or sight-seeing and who will not waste their time in unprofitable
activities or their money in unnecessary purchases;
· men who have mastered their desire for fancy
foods and who are not enslaved to music or sport or any other legitimate
· men who have been disciplined successfully
by God in the fires of affliction, abuse, tribulation, false accusation,
physical sickness, financial hardships and opposition from relatives and
· men full of mercy, who can sympathise with
the worst of sinners and the worst of believers, and have hope for them,
because they consider themselves to be the foremost of all sinners;
· men who are so deeply rooted in the security
of the love of their Heavenly Father that they are never anxious about
anything, or afraid of Satan or evil men or difficult situations or anything;
· men who have entered into God's rest, believing
in the sovereign working of God in all matters for their best and who therefore
give thanks always, for all men, for all things and in all circumstances;
· men who find their joy in God alone and who
are therefore full of the joy of the Lord, having overcome all bad moods;
· men of living faith, who have no confidence
in themselves or their natural abilities, but complete confidence in God as
their unfailing Helper in all situations;
· men who live, not by the promptings of their
own reason, but by the leading of the Holy Spirit;
· men who have been genuinely baptized in the
Holy Spirit and fire by Christ Himself (and not just thrilled by some emotional
counterfeit or convinced by some theological argument);
· men who are living constantly under the
anointing of the Holy Spirit, endowed with the supernatural gifts that He has
· men who have revelation on the church as the
Body of Christ (and not a congregation or a denomination), and who give all
their energies, their material wealth and spiritual gifts to build that church
· men who have learnt to bridle their tongues
through the help of the Holy Spirit and whose tongues are now aflame with the
· men who have forsaken all, who are not
attached anymore to money or material things, and who desire no gifts from
· men who can trust God for all their earthly
needs and who never hint about their material needs or boast about their
labours, either in their conversation or through letters and reports;
· men who are not stubborn, but gentle, and
open to criticism and eager for correction from older and wiser brothers;
· men who have no desire to dominate or advise
others (although ready to give advice when asked for), and who have no longing
to be considered as `elder' brothers, or leaders, but who only desire to be
ordinary brothers and servants of all;
· men who are easy to get along with, and who
are willing to be inconvenienced and taken advantage of by others;
· men who will make no distinction between the
millionaire and the beggar, the white-skinned and the dark-skinned, the
intellectual and the idiot and the cultured and the barbarian, but who will
treat them all alike;
· men who can never be influenced by their
wife, children, relatives, friends or other believers to cool off even slightly
in their devotion to Christ or their obedience to God's commandments;
· men who can never be bribed to compromise,
by any reward that Satan may offer (whether honour or money or whatever);
· men who are fearless witnesses for Christ,
fearing neither religious heads nor secular rulers;
· men who desire to please no human being on
the face of the earth, and who are willing to offend all men, if necessary, in
order to please God alone;
· men for whom God's glory, God's will and
God's kingdom always take priority over mere human need and their own comfort;
· men who cannot be pressurised either by
others or by their own reason into doing `dead works' for God, but who are
eager and content to do the revealed will of God for their lives alone;
· men who have the discernment of the Spirit
to distinguish between the soulish and the spiritual in Christian work;
· men who look at things from a heavenly
viewpoint and not an earthly one;
· men who will refuse all earthly honours and
titles offered them for their labours for God;
· men who know how to pray without ceasing,
and also how to fast and pray when needed;
· men who have learnt to give generously,
cheerfully, secretly and with wisdom;
· men who are willing to be all things to all
men, so that by all means they might save some;
· men who have a longing to see others not
only saved, but also made disciples of Christ, and brought to a knowledge of
the truth and to obedience to all of God's commandments;
· men who have a longing to see a pure
testimony established for God in every place;
· men who have a burning passion to see Christ
glorified in the church;
· men who do not seek their own in any matter;
· men with spiritual authority and spiritual
· men who will stand ALONE for God in the
world, if need be;
· totally uncompromising men, like the
apostles and prophets of old.
God's work in the world suffers today, because such men are few in number.
Determine with all your heart that you will be such a man for God, in the midst
of a sinful and adulterous generation and a compromising Christendom. Since
there is no partiality with God, it is possible for you too to be such a man,
provided you yourself earnestly desire to be one. Since God demands commitment
and obedience only in the conscious area of one's life, it is possible for you
to be such a man, even though the conscious area of your life may be limited.
(That area will keep increasing as you walk in the light and press on to
perfection). There is no excuse then why you cannot be such a man.
Since nothing good dwells in the flesh, we have to seek for grace from God
to have the virtues listed above. Cry out to God daily then, that He will give
you grace to be such a man in these the closing days of the age.
SOME IMPORTANT TRUTHS THAT I
During the 40 years that I have been a born-again Christian, I have learnt
some important truths that have encouraged me and given direction and purpose
to my life. I share them here with you with the hope that they will be an
encouragement to you as well.
1. God loves us as He loved Jesus
"Thou didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me" (John
This is the greatest truth that I have discovered in the Bible. It changed
me from an insecure, depressed believer to one who has become totally secure in
God and full of the joy of the Lord - always.
There are many verses in the Bible that tell us that God loves us, but only
this one that tells us the extent of that love - AS MUCH AS HE LOVED JESUS.
Since there is no partiality with our heavenly Father in the way He loves
any of His sons, He will certainly be willing to do everything for us, His
sons, that He did for His firstborn Son, Jesus. He will help us as He helped
Jesus. He will care for us as much as He cared for Jesus. He will be as
interested in planning the details of our daily life as He was in planning
Jesus' life. Nothing can ever happen to us that will take God by surprise. He
has already planned for every eventuality. So we need no longer be insecure. We
have been sent to earth with as definite a purpose as Jesus was.
All this is true for you too - but only if you believe it.
Nothing works for the one who does not believe in the Word of God.
2. God delights in honest people
"If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship
with one another" (1 Jn.1:9).
To walk in the light means first of all that we hide nothing from God. We tell
Him everything, exactly as it is. I am convinced that the first step towards
God is honesty. God detests those who are insincere. Jesus spoke against
hypocrites more than He spoke against anyone else.
God does not ask us to be holy or perfect first of all but to be honest.
This is the starting point of true holiness. And from this spring flows
everything else. And if there is one thing that is really easy for anyone of us
to do, it is to be honest. So, confess sin immediately to God. Don't call sinful
thoughts by "decent" names. Don't say "I was only admiring the
beauty of God's creation" when actually you lusted adulterously with your
eyes. Don't call "anger" as "righteous indignation". You
will never get victory over sin if you are dishonest.
And don't ever call "sin", "a mistake", because Jesus'
blood can cleanse you from all your sins, but not from your mistakes!! He does
not cleanse dishonest people.
There is hope only for honest people. "He who covers his sin will never
Why did Jesus say that there was more hope for prostitutes and for thieves
to enter God's kingdom than for religious leaders (Matt.21:31). Because
prostitutes and thieves make no pretence of being holy.
Many young people are turned away from churches because church-members give
them the impression that they themselves have no struggles. And so those young
people think, "That holy bunch of people will never understand our
problems!!" If this true of us, then we are unlike Christ Who drew sinners
3. God delights in a cheerful giver
"God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor.9:7).
This is why God gives man total freedom - both before and after conversion,
and after being filled with the Spirit.
If we are like God, we also will not seek to control others or pressurise
them. We will give them freedom to be different from us, to have different
views from ours and to grow spiritually at their own pace.
All compulsion of any sort is from the devil.
The Holy Spirit fills people, whereas demons possess people. The difference
is this: When the Holy Spirit fills anyone, He still gives that person freedom
to do whatever he wants. But when demons possess people they rob them of their
freedom and control them. The fruit of being filled with the Spirit is
self-control (Gal.5:22,23). Demon-possession however, results in the loss of
We must remember that any work that we do for God that is NOT done
cheerfully, joyfully, freely and voluntarily is a dead work. Any work done for
God for a reward or for a salary is also a dead work. Any money given to God
under pressure from others has no value at all, as far as God is concerned!!
God values a little done cheerfully for Him far more than a great deal done
under compulsion, or done merely to ease one's conscience.
4. Holiness comes by looking unto Jesus
"Let us run the race....looking unto Jesus" (Heb.12:1,2).
The secret of godliness is found in the Person of Christ Who came in our
flesh (as 1 Tim.3:16 makes very clear) - and not in the doctrine that Christ
came in our flesh. It is through His Person and not through a doctrinal
analysis of His flesh, that we become holy.
Any amount of self-effort will never make a sinful heart holy. God has to do
a work within us, for that to happen.
Holiness (eternal life) is God's gift - and it can never be attained by
works (Rom.6:23). The Bible states that God alone can sanctify us (make us
holy) entirely (1 Thess.5:23 says that so plainly that no-one can mistake it).
Yet multitudes of believers are struggling to deny themselves in order to be
holy. They become Pharisees instead.
"The holiness which is no illusion" (Eph.4:24-Philips) is attained
by faith in Jesus - in other words by "looking unto Jesus".
If we keep looking only at a doctrine we will become Pharisees. The purer
our doctrine, the greater the Pharisees we will become.
The greatest Pharisees I have met on earth were among those who preached the
highest standards of holiness through self-effort!! We have to be careful that
we don't end up as one of them!
What it means to look unto Jesus is very clearly explained in Hebrews 12:2.
First of all we are to look at Him as One Who lived on earth "enduring His
cross" daily - "tempted in all points as we are and yet without
sin" (Heb.4:15). He is our Forerunner (Heb.6:20), in Whose footsteps we
are to run. Secondly, we are to see Him as the One Who is now "at the
right hand of the Father", interceding for us and ready to help us in
every trial and temptation.
5. We must be continually filled with the Holy Spirit
"Be (being) filled with the Spirit" (Eph.5:18 - Literal).
It is impossible to live the Christian life, as God wants us to, if we are
not continually filled with the Holy Spirit. It is impossible to serve God as
we should without being anointed with the Spirit and receiving His supernatural
gifts. Jesus Himself needed to be anointed.
The Holy Spirit has come to make us like Jesus in our personal lives as well
as in our ministry (See 2 Cor.3:18). God fills us with the Spirit in order to
conform us to the likeness of Christ in our character, and to equip us to serve
as Jesus served. We do not have the same ministry that Jesus had, and so we
won't be able to do what Jesus did in His ministry. But we can be as fully
equipped to serve God as Jesus Himself was - to fulfil OUR OWN ministry.
All that is required is an adequate thirst and faith, on our part, for
rivers of living water to flow out through us (Jn.7:37-39).
We must earnestly long for the gifts of the Spirit if we are to have them(1 Cor.14:1).
Otherwise we will never have them.
A church without the gifts of the Holy Spirit is like a man who may be
living but who is deaf, blind, mute and lame - and therefore useless.
6. The way of the cross is the way of life
"If we died with Him, we shall also live with Him" (2 Tim.2:11)
There is no way for us to have the life of Jesus manifested in our body
other than by accepting death to our Self-life in all the situations that God
plans and arranges for us (2 Cor.4:10,11).
We must "consider ourselves dead to sin" (Rom.6:11) in all
situations, if we are to overcome sin. We must "mortify the deeds of the
body through the Spirit" if we are to live (Rom.8:13). The Holy Spirit
will always lead us to the cross in our daily life.
We are sent by God into situations where we are "slaughtered the whole
day long" (Rom.8:36) and "delivered to death for Jesus sake" (2
Cor.4:11). In such situations, we must accept "the dying of Jesus" (2
Cor.4:10), so that the life of Jesus may be manifest in us.
7. Man's opinions are fit only for the garbage bin
"Stop regarding man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for why should
he be esteemed? (Isa.2:22)
When a man's breath leaves his nostrils, he is no better than the dust that
we walk on. So why should we value man's opinion.
If we are not rooted and grounded in the fact that the opinions of ALL human
beings put together are only fit for the garbage-bin, we will never be able to
serve the Lord effectively. If we seek to please even one man, we cannot be
servants of Christ (Gal.1:10).
Every man's opinion is worthless compared to God's opinion. One who is
convinced of this will thereafter seek only God's approval over His life and
ministry. He will never seek to impress people or to justify himself before
8. God detests all that this world considers great
"That which men esteem highly is detestable in God's sight"
The things that are considered great in the world, not only have no value in
God's eyes, but are actually an abomination to Him. Since all worldly honour is
an abomination to God, it must be an abomination to us too.
Money is something that everyone on earth considers valuable. But God says
that those who love money and long to get rich will suffer the following eight
consequences sooner or later (1 Tim. 6:9,10).
(a) they will fall into temptation,
(b) they will fall into a trap,
(c) they will fall into foolish desires,
(d) they will fall into harmful desires,
(e) they will plunge into ruin,
(f) they will plunge into destruction,
(g) they will wander away from the faith and
(h) they will pierce themselves with many a pang.
I have seen this happen again and again to believers everywhere.
One of the main reasons why a prophetic word from the Lord is hardly ever
heard these days in our land, is because most preachers are lovers of money.
Jesus said that the true riches (the prophetic word being one of them) would
not be given by God to those who were unfaithful with money (Lk.16:11). This is
why we hear so many boring sermons and so many boring testimonies in
church-meetings and conferences.
9. Nobody can harm us except we ourselves
"Who can harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?"(1
God is so powerful that He makes ALL THINGS work together for the good of
those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose - that is, for
those who have no ambition on earth outside of His will for their lives (Romans
8:28). One who has selfish ambitions cannot claim this promise. But if we
accept the will of God totally, we can claim this promise every minute of our
life on earth. Nothing can harm us.
Everything that others do to us - good or evil, accidental or deliberate -
will go through the filter of Romans 8:28 and will come through working for our
very best - conforming us each time a little more to the likeness of Christ
(Rom.8:29) - which is the good that God has planned for us. This filter works
perfectly every single time for those who fulfil the conditions listed in this
Further, 1 Peter 3:13 tells us that no-one can harm us if we are
"zealous for what is good". Unfortunately this is not as well known a
verse as Romans 8:28 is. But we must popularise it now. However, this promise
too is applicable only to those who are zealous to keep their hearts good
towards all people. It will be impossible for any demon or human being to harm
such a believer.
So whenever any Christian complains that others have harmed him, he is
indirectly admitting that he does not love God, is not called according to
God's purpose and has not been zealous for what is good. Otherwise, whatever
those others did to him would have only worked for his good, and then he would
not have had any complaints at all.
Actually, the only one who can harm you is you yourself - by your
unfaithfulness and your wrong attitudes to others.
I am nearly 60 years old now and I can honestly say that no-one has ever
succeeded in harming me in my entire life. Many have tried to do so, but
EVERYTHING they did only worked for my very best and for the good of my
ministry. So I can praise God for those people too. Those who have opposed me
have been mostly so-called "believers" who have not understood God's
ways. I am giving you my testimony only to encourage you to believe that this
can be your testimony too - always.
10. God has a perfect plan for each of our lives
"We are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared
beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph.2:10).
Long ago, when God chose us in Christ, He also planned what we should do
with our earthly lives. Our duty now is to find out that plan - day by day -
and to follow it. We can never make a better plan than God's.
We must not imitate what others do, for God's plan for each of His children
is different. God's plan for Joseph, for example, was for him to stay in the
palace in Egypt and to live in great comfort for the last 80 years of his life.
On the other hand, God's plan for Moses was for him to leave the palace in
Egypt and to live in great discomfort for the last 80 years of his life - in
the wilderness. If Moses had followed Joseph's example, through the love of
comfort and ease, he would have missed God's will for his own life.
In exactly the same way today, God may want one brother to live all his life
in comfort in the U.S.A., and another brother to toil all his life in the heat
and dust of North India. Each must be convinced about God's plan for his own
life instead of comparing his lot with that of the other brother and being
jealous of him and criticising him.
I know that God called me to serve Him in India. But I have never demanded
that anyone else should have my calling.
We will, however, never be able to find God's will, if we are seeking our
own honour or if we love money or comfort or the approval of men.
11. Knowing God intimately is the secret of being strong
"The people who know their God will be strong" (Dan.11:32)
Today, God does not want us to know Him second-hand through others. He
invites even the youngest believer to know Him personally (Heb.8:11). Jesus
defined eternal life as knowing God and Jesus Christ personally (John 17:3).
This was the greatest passion of Paul's life and must be our greatest passion
One who desires to know God intimately, will have to listen to Him always.
Jesus said that the only way man could keep himself spiritually alive was by
listening to EVERY word that proceeded from God's mouth (Matt.4:4 ). He also
said that to sit at His feet and listen to Him was the most important thing in
the Christian life (Lk.10:42).
We must develop the habit that Jesus had of listening to the Father from
early morning every day (Isa.50:4), right through the day; and then to be in a
listening attitude in the hours of night when we are asleep too - so that if we
ever wake up from our sleep at night, we can say, "Speak, Lord, Your
servant is listening" (1 Sam.3:10).
Knowing God will make us overcomers in all situations - because God has a
solution for every problem that we face - and if we listen to Him, He will tell
us what that solution is.
12.The new covenant is far superior to the old covenant
"Jesus is the Mediator of a better covenant" (Heb.8:6).
Many Christians do not know that there is a fundamental difference between
the old and the new covenants(Heb.8:8-12). The new covenant is as much superior
to the old, as Jesus is to Moses. (2 Cor.3 and Heb.3).
Whereas the old covenant could purify only a person's external life through
the fear of judgment and the promise of reward, the new covenant changes us
from within, not through threats and promises, but through the Holy Spirit
giving us the nature of Christ - a nature that is totally pure and loving.
There is a vast difference between a pig being kept clean through being
restrained by chains (fear of punishment under the Law), and a cat that keeps
itself clean because that is its inner nature. That example illustrates the
difference between the two covenants.
13. We are called to be rejected and persecuted by men
"All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be
persecuted." (2 Tim.3:12)
Jesus told His disciples that in the world they would face tribulation,
(Jn.16:33); and He prayed to the Father NOT to take His disciples out of the
world (Jn.17:15). The apostles taught believers that only through much
tribulation they could enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:23).
Jesus said that if people had called the Head of the house Beelzebul, the
members of His household would be called by worse names (Matt.10:25). It is
thus that we know we are faithful members of His household. Some of the names
that I have been called, by other "believers", have been:
"Devil", "Son of the Devil", "Evil spirit",
"Antichrist", "Deceiver", "Terrorist",
"Murderer", and "Diotrephes". It has been a great honour to
be identified thereby as a part of Jesus' household. All who serve the Lord
faithfully will experience this.
Jesus also said that a true prophet would not be honoured by "his own
relatives" (Mk.6:4). Jesus Himself was not accepted by His family members.
Every true prophet of God will be rejected and dishonoured by his own
relatives, even today. In the same way, a true apostle will also be
"slandered and treated as the scum of the world and the dregs of all
things" (1 Cor.4:13). Suffering and rejection have always been the
appointed lot of God's greatest servants.
The teaching that the church will be raptured before the "great
tribulation" is a popular one with most believers because it comforts
their flesh to hear it. But Jesus made it very clear in Matthew 24:29-31 that
He will return to take His elect only AFTER the great tribulation.THERE IS NOT
A SINGLE VERSE IN THE ENTIRE NEW TESTAMENT THAT TEACHES THAT THE CHURCH WILL
ESCAPE THE GREAT TRIBULATION BY BEING RAPTURED OUT OF IT. This doctrine was
invented by man in England in the mid-1800s.
We must now prepare the church in our country for persecution.
14. We must receive all whom God has received
"God has placed the members in the Body just as He desired...that
there should be no division in the Body" (1 Cor.12:18,25).
God has raised up men at different times in different lands to restore a
pure testimony for Him. But after those men of God died, their followers have
made their groups exclusive and cultistic.
But the body of Christ is larger than any group. And we must never forget
that. The bride of Christ is found in many, many groups today.
So we must seek for fellowship with all whom the Lord has accepted, even
though we may not be able to work together with many of them, because of
differences in interpretation of the Word of God.
15. We must treat every human being with dignity
"With our tongue, we curse men, who have been made in the likeness
of God. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way" (James
Any word or action that degrades a human being is never from God. It is
always from Satan who forever seeks to demean and degrade people.
We are commanded to speak "with gentleness and respect" (1
Pet.3:15) to all people - whether they be our wives, our children, younger
people, beggars or enemies. All men must be treated with dignity. For example,
when giving a gift to a poorer brother, we must do so, without robbing him of
his dignity as a human being. We must be his brother and not his benefactor.
16. We must reveal our financial needs only to God
"God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in
Christ Jesus" (Phil.4:19).
Full-time Christian workers must trust God for all their financial needs and
must reveal those needs only to Him. God will then prompt His children to
supply their needs . They must not live "by faith in God and hints to
other believers", as many live today.
"The Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living
from the gospel" (1 Cor.9:14). So those who serve the Lord fulltime are
permitted to receive gifts from other believers. But they must never receive a
salary . There is a vast difference between gifts and a salary. Gifts cannot be
demanded, whereas a salary can be demanded. Here lies the cause for the
backslidden condition of most Christian churches and institutions today.
We must however, never receive any gifts for our personal or family use from
people who are poorer than us. If such people give us gifts, we must either
give the money away to someone poorer than them or put the money into the
offering-box for the Lord's work.
Here are "Ten Principles" on money that all fulltime
workers will do well to take heed to:
1. Never make your financial needs known to anyone but God
2. Never accept money from unbelievers (3 John 7).
3. Never expect any gifts from anyone (Psa.62:5).
4. Never allow anyone to control you or influence your ministry by
giving you money.
5. Never accept money from those who don't receive your ministry.
6. Never accept money for your personal or family needs, from anyone
poorer than you.
7. Never be dependent on any man for your financial needs.
8. Never handle God's money in a way that would cause others to
suspect mishandling (2 Cor.8:20,21).
9. Never be excited when you receive money.
10. Never be depressed when you lose money.
I hope these truths will not
only encourage you, but liberate you as well. If you are serious about your
walk with the Lord and your ministry, you should take all these truths
seriously in your daily life.
Copyright - Zac Poonen (1999)
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