Copyright - Zac Poonen (1982)
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A life of constant triumph
The absolute necessity of faith
Taking God’s Word seriously
God’s dealings are all in love
God loves us as He loved Jesus
God has a purpose in every trial
You cannot be tested beyond your ability
God gives His grace to the humble
God controls our circumstances
Faith in God - or faith in money?
God helps those who are weak
Appendix 1 -
The Secrets of Victory
Appendix 2 -
What God Did For Jesus....
Appendix 3 -
Words of Wisdom
A LIFE OF CONSTANT
God’s will for our lives
is constant victory. This is clearly taught in a number of
Consider just a few:
“Thanks be to God Who always leads us in His triumph in Christ” (2
“In all these things we
overwhelmingly conquer through Him Who loves us” (Rom.8:37).
“I am writing these
things to you that you may not sin” (1 Jn.2:1).
In spite of these and
other Scriptures, it is still a difficult task to convince many believers that
God wants them to live victorious lives.
If we take Scripture
just as it is written and believe it simply, as a little child, then this message
will come through to us clearly. But if we rely on our reason, we may find many
convincing arguments why such a life is not possible in this evil world.
Many unbelieving “believers” will then add their testimony to what our
reason tells us. And then we will convince ourselves that a victorious life is
impossible in this world.
Unless we are convinced
first of all that God wants us to live in continuous victory, we will never be
able to have faith for such a life. And without faith, it is impossible to enter
the victorious life. Everything in the Christian life is utterly dependent on
faith. And faith is based on the revelation that God has given us in His Word.
Even if you have lived
in defeat for many years, it makes no difference. If only you can see this
truth of a life of constant victory clearly in God’s Word, it would be the
first step towards a victorious life.
THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY
1 John 2:6 says, “The one who
says he abides in Christ ought himself to walk in the same manner as he
How did Jesus walk? Was
it in victory some of the time, or most of the time or all the
time? We know the answer. He was tempted in all points as we are, but He never
“We do not have a high
priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted
in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb.4:15).
We are now told to walk
even as He walked. Is that possible here on earth? Would God tell us to do
something that He knows very well we cannot do? No. That is unimaginable. Even
earthly fathers do not make unreasonable demands on their children. How much
Some of the saddest
words written in the New Testament are found in Matthew 13:58 - “He did not
do many miracles there because of their unbelief”.
The parallel passage in Mark
6:5 states, “He could not do any miracle there”.
He had wanted to
do great things for those people in His home-town. They needed those
miracles too. But He was limited by their unbelief.
Unbelief ties the hands
of Almighty God so that He cannot do for us the things that He wants to.
I wonder if there have
been miracles that God had wanted to do for you, but which He could not
do, because of your unbelief. At the judgement-seat of Christ, will any of us
have to hear these words, “I could not do all that I wanted for you and through
you, because of your unbelief?” What regret there will be in our hearts if we
discover that, at the end of our earthly life! It is good to think about it
My early years as a
born-again Christian were spent among a group of assemblies that majored on the
study of the Scriptures. I am, in one sense, thankful to God for this, for it
enabled me to have a good basic knowledge of the Scriptures. But their study
was mostly through human reason, without the revelation of the Holy Spirit. We
studied the Bible like students study chemistry in school. We discovered the
meanings of the Old Testament types etc., but we were still defeated by sin in
our lives. I knew that God had forgiven my sins; but I didn’t have faith for
When I saw the truth of
the baptism in the Spirit in the Word and began to seek God for it, I found
that I just couldn’t believe. I fasted and prayed and was willing to pay any
price for it, but I found it extremely difficult to believe that God had heard
my request and granted it. Jesus taught that whenever we prayed we were to
believe that we had already received what we had asked for.
“I say to you, all
things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and
they shall be granted you” (Mk.11:24).
It took me a long time -
many years - to come to simple, childlike faith in that statement. Finally, by
God’s grace, I did break through to believe that God had heard my prayer and
granted it. I was baptized in the Spirit, by faith. The gift of tongues that unexpectedly
followed, was then only a confirmation of what I had already received by
As I look back now over
those years of struggling, I see clearly that what hindered me was unbelief.
The same principle
applies in entering into a life of victory over sin. We can fast and pray and
thirst - and still never get anywhere - until we believe that God can
and will lead us into such a life. Satan knows that you can’t
get anything from God except through faith. So you can imagine how he will try
to fill your heart with unbelief. Unbelief is a greater danger than lying or
adultery, for these latter are easily recognized as sins, whereas unbelief
Hebrews 3:12 says, “Take care,
brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in
falling away from the living God.”
An evil heart of
unbelief can cause us to fall away from God. Unbelief is the root cause of all
the other sins - as we shall see in a subsequent chapter.
Romans 6:14 states, “Sin shall
not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.”
There the Holy Spirit
tells us very plainly that if we are under grace, sin cannot have dominion over
us. That is so plainly written that
even a child can understand it. In spite of that, many believers still do not
believe in the possibility of living a life of victory over sin.
God wants you to live in
victory. It doesn’t matter how dirty your thought-life is, or how long you have
been defeated by anger. The Lord can set you completely free and give you aa
pure heart. But He can’t doit for you until you believe.
The Bible says that what
we believe in our heart, we must confess with our mouth. Rom.10:10 states,
“With the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth
he confesses, resulting in salvation”.
This is an important
principle - for it is through the confession of our mouth that we give
expression to our faith. This in turn leads to deliverance from sin’s power.
And so we must speak the word of our testimony to Satan, saying, “I believe
that God is going to lead me into a life of victory over sin.”
“They overcame him (Satan) because of
the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did
not love their life even to death.” (Rev.12:11).
Keep making that
confession, each time you fall, until victory becomes a reality in your life.
Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come overnight. God will surely honour the
confession of your mouth. You too can overcome Satan.
TAKING GOD’S WORD
A bad habit that many
believers have is that of taking God’s Word lightly. Take Jesus’ words in Matthew
12:36, 37 for example: “Every careless (idle) word that men shall speak,
they shall render account for it in the day of judgement. For by your words you
shall be justified and by your words you shall be condemned.”
Most believers do not
believe that they will have to literally give an account for every single
useless word that they have spoken. When we really believe this, all
backbiting, gossiping, evil-speaking and anger will be eliminated from our
lives. All who take these words of Jesus seriously will be radical in cutting
out useless words from every part of their speech.
Jesus says here that we
will be justified by our words. We all know about justification by
faith. But faith without works is dead, and a faith that does not
cleanse our speech is a dead faith.
Think of all the words
that you have spoken (or written) during the last three months - at home and in
the office, to husband, wife, children, servants etc., Would a tape-recording
of your speech prove that you are a justified child of God, different from the
world around you? Or would your words be similar to the speech of unbelievers?
The speech of many
believers has not been cleansed, because they have not taken the words of Jesus
seriously. This in turn is because they do not fear God. They fear men more
than they fear God. We cannot hope to make spiritual progress in our life if we
don’t develop the habit of taking God’s word seriously.
James 1:26 says, “If any one
thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives
his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.”
If a man cannot control
his tongue, his Christianity is worthless - for, as Jesus said, the words we
speak show what our heart is like. “The mouth speaks out of that which fills
the heart.”(Mt.12:34). The way we use our tongue is one of the clearest
indications of our spiritual condition.
Here is another example:
God’s Word says that husbands should never be bitter against their
wives. “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against
What does that
mean? Does it permit a husband to be
bitter against his wife even once?
We know that when God’s Word forbids adultery or murder, we must not
commit such sins even once. Yet when we read that a husband should not
be bitter against his wife, it does not hit us with the same force. Why is
that? It’s because we pick and choose which commands of God’s Word are serious
and which are not. We don’t realise that all of God’s Word must be taken
Those who take every
word of God seriously will mourn over their sin, each time they fail. Thus they
will find the comfort (strength) of the Holy Spirit, and be led into a life of
victory. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (strengthened).”(Mt.5:4).
Here then is another
secret of victory: Take every Word of God seriously and mourn over your sin
whenever you come short of God’s standards.
Thus you will prove that
you fear God - and the fear of God is the beginning of that wisdom that leads
to a victorious life.
God looks with grace and
favour at those who are broken and contrite in their spirit and who tremble at
“To this one I will
look, declares the Lord, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who
trembles at My Word” (Isa.66:2).
GOD’S DEALINGS ARE ALL
God has always required
obedience from man. Under the old covenant, the Israelites were given
commandments to obey. But they discovered that they could not keep God’s laws
Under the new covenant,
God promises to write His laws in our hearts and minds so that we will not only
obey Him but love to obey Him. God’s promise is: “I will put My
Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful
to observe My ordinances.”(Ezek. 36:27)
It is only through
obeying His commandments that we can have fellowship with God.
Obedience however is
something that many believers have not understood. Most believers have so
misunderstood ‘grace’ that they consider obedience to be an Old Covenant
requirement. God’s commandments, as a result, are considered to be a heavy
burden. This is a Satanic deception. It is the result of an ignorance of God’s
love. All of God’s commandments are for our good and are meant to set us free.
They all originate in the heart of a God Who loves us perfectly.
Moses says (concerning
God giving His laws to Israel at Sinai), “At God’s right hand there was a
fiery law for His people - indeed (this proves that) He loves His
people” (Deut.33:2,3 - margin). The fact that God gives us His laws is a
proof of His intense love for us.
Some of God’s
commandments may require self-denial on our part. But in the long run we will
discover that they are for our very best. A father doesn’t give commands to his
children to burden them or harm them - but only to help them. This is how we
need to see the commands that God gives us too. To have faith is to believe in
a God Who is perfect in love. When we have such faith, we will delight to do
God’s commandments, at any cost.
Here lies the reason for
so much of our defeat. The Devil has convinced people that God’s commandments
are either unnecessary, or a burden. If we don’t understand why God calls us to
do something, that only proves our own immaturity. One day, when we are a
little more mature, we will understand.
When children are
compelled to go to school, they may not understand why their parents won’t
allow them to stay at home and play. They may think their parents are being
very hard towards them. But it is love that makes those parents compel their children to get an education.
Like those little
children, we too don’t often understand God’s ways. But if we believed in His
love, we would obey all His Word and submit to all His dealings, without any
Consider the matter of
suffering. Why does a God of love allow us to go through suffering? That’s
because suffering is a part of the syllabus in our spiritual education. It is
through suffering that God leads us on to maturity. If you have not had much
opportunity to suffer, you certainly could not have learnt much in life that
has any spiritual value.
Perhaps you grumbled and
complained so much the last time you had a little suffering, that God now
allows you to go your own way. That is sad, when God puts you on the shelf like
that. I’d rather go through suffering every day of my life than be set aside by
God on a shelf.
It is foolish to compare
ourselves with others, when God leads us through suffering. That would be like
your children wondering why they have to go to school when the poor children in
the slums can play in the mud all day. All of God’s dealings with us are in
perfect love. He wants us to be happy - not with the superficial, frothy
happiness of the world, but with that deep, everlasting happiness that comes
through holiness of life. And there is just no way to be holy except through
“He disciplines us for
our good, that we may share His holiness.”(Heb.12:10).
Jesus was the happiest
man Who ever walked on this earth. Yet He was the One Who suffered the most.
His happiness came out of doing the will of His Father - not by having an easy
way through life. He knew His Father as perfect love and so He joyfully
submitted to all that the Father sent His way. That was the secret of His life.
GOD LOVES US AS HE LOVED
The root cause of all
our spiritual problems lies in our not knowing God as a Loving Father and a
One truth that has
revolutionized my Christian life is the glorious revelation that Jesus gave us
that the Father loves us just as He loved Him,
Jesus prayed to the
Father, “.....that the world may know that Thou didst love them, even as
thou didst love me” (Jn.17:23). Jesus
prayed here that the world around us might know this truth. But it has to grip
our hearts first, before the world can realise it.
All Christians believe
theoretically in a loving Father in heaven. But the fact that they are often
worried and anxious and so full of insecurity and fear, proves that they don’t
believe it deep down in their hearts.
There are very few who
would dare to believe that God loves them as much as he loves Jesus!
None of us could dare to believe such a truth if Jesus had not plainly told us
that it was so.
Once your eyes are
opened to this glorious truth, it will change your whole outlook on life. All
murmuring and depression and gloom will vanish from your life altogether. I
know this can happen, for it happened to me.
I lived in bondage to
depression for many years and was defeated. That was not God’s will for me; but
I just couldn’t break free from it. Things have been different for me ever
since my eyes were opened to the truth that God loves me just as He loves
Jesus. I now see that everything that comes my way has come from the hand of a
loving Father. I’ve seen that He cares for me as the apple of His eye; and so
no circumstance in life can ever make me grumble or get depressed now. I have
learnt, as Paul says, the secret of being content and praising God in all my
“Rejoice in the Lord
always; again I will say, rejoice!........Not that I speak from want; for I
have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”(Phil.4:4,11).
“In everything give
thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”(1 Thess. 5:18).
This is now the
unshakable foundation of my life: GOD LOVES ME AS MUCH AS HE LOVES JESUS.
It’s not because you
don’t fast and pray sufficiently that you are not entering into the victorious
life. Victory comes, not through self-effort but through faith. “Faith in
what?”, you may ask. Faith in God’s perfect love for you.
Many believers live
under the condemnation of Satan who keeps telling them, “You are not fasting
enough. You are not praying enough. You are not witnessing enough. You are not
studying the Bible enough”, etc., etc., They are constantly being whipped up by
such thoughts of self-condemnation into an endless round of activity and into a
multitude of dead works.
Do you realise that all
your self-discipline, fasting, praying, tithing and witnessing are dead works,
if they do not originate in love for God? And they cannot originate in love
unless you are secure in God’s love first.
Paul’s prayer for the
Christians at Ephesus was that they might be rooted and grounded in the love of
God. “.....that He (God) would grant you, according to the riches of
His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being
rooted and grounded in love.........”(Eph. 3:16,17).
The Ephesian Christians
were already converted and baptised in the Spirit. Yet they needed to be
strengthened by the Spirit in the inner man so that they might be rooted and
grounded in God’s perfect love for them, understanding the length, breadth,
height and depth of that love. It was only after that, that Paul went on to
speak of the gifts by which the body of Christ can be built up. “To each one
of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.......and He
gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some
as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of
service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”(Eph.4:7,11,12).
That perfect security in
the love of God must be underneath us always. We must be rooted and grounded in
it, if our ministry is to be effective.
Elsewhere, the New
Testament speaks of this as “entering into rest”. “We who have faith (in
God’s perfect love for us) enter into His rest”, the apostle says (Heb.4:2).
He then urges us to strive with all our hearts to enter this rest: “Let
us be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same
example of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11). It
is easy to fall away when we are not ‘resting’ in perfect security in
the love of God.
The world is full of
people who are looking for someone to love them. Many Christians go from church
to church, wanting to be loved. Some seek for love in friendships and some in
marriage. But all this search can end in disappointment. Like orphans, the
children of Adam are insecure and as a result are again and again overcome by
bouts of self-pity. The sad thing is that even after conversion, many still
remain insecure, when there is no need for them to be so.
What is the answer of
the gospel to this problem? The answer is to find our security in the love of
Jesus repeatedly told
His disciples that the hairs on their head were all numbered and that a God Who
fed the millions of birds and clothed the millions of flowers would certainly
take care of them.
A greater argument than
all of that, is: “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up freely
for us, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things “ (Rom.
As God cared for Jesus,
He will care for you too.
One reason why God
allows us at times to be disappointed with our fellow human beings is so that
we might learn to stop leaning on man. He desires to free us from such idolatry
(for it is a form of idolatry to depend on man), so that we might learn to lean
wholly upon Him alone. And so when God orders your circumstances in such a way
that you are disappointed on every side, that shouldn’t discourage you. It is
just God weaning you away from the arm of flesh so that you might learn to live
by faith in Him. Learn to find your security in the fact that God loves you as
He loved Jesus.
All competition and
jealousy among Christians arises out of this same insecurity. A man who is
secure in the love of God and who believes that God made no mistake in making
him the way He made him, and in giving him the gifts and talents He gave him,
can never possibly be jealous of another or compete with another. All problems
of relationships among believers are also basically due to this same
Just think how many of
your problems will be solved when your eyes are opened to this one truth - that
God loves you exactly as He loves Jesus.
GOD HAS A PURPOSE IN
Life becomes wonderful
when we see that God has a purpose - a glorious purpose - in everything He
permits to come into our lives. When He says ‘No’ to our prayers, that too is
an answer that comes from a heart of perfect love.
When God sent fiery
serpents to bite the Israelites in the wilderness, was that out of love? “The
Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many
people of Israel died.” (Num. 21:6). That was certainly an act of love, for
that was the means that God used to make those Israelites repent and turn back
to Him so that He could bless them. He wanted to bless them, but He could not
do so until they had repented.
“I know the plans that I
have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for calamity -
to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11).
One reason why God has
permitted this world to be an uncomfortable place to live in - with disease and
sickness and poisonous snakes etc., - is so that people may turn to Him in
their distress - so that He might bless them. And so we can see how God uses
even the evil (that Satan causes), to work for the furtherance of His purposes.
When we meet the
ransomed in eternity, and hear their stories, we will discover more fully how
God used snake-bites, financial difficulties, cancers etc., to turn people away
from sin to become His children. We will also hear how God used suffering to
sanctify His children so that they might partake of His nature.
In that day, we will
thank God for many things that we could not understand here on earth. But the
man of faith does not have to wait until that day. He believes in God’s wisdom
and love right now - and so he has already begun to give thanks for everything.
The ultimate purpose
in all of God’s dealings with us is that we might partake of His nature.
God works all things together for our good - the good being that we might be
conformed to the likeness of His Son.
“God causes all things
to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called
according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become
conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many
Why does God allow us at
times to lose money accidentally, or to be cheated by unscrupulous people. Many
of us have had the experience of having our pockets picked in crowded trains
and buses. I’ve always made it a point to pray for the thief or the cheat on
such occasions. But apart from that, God also desires to detach us from an inordinate
attachment to money and material things. He doesn’t want us to be so
calculating, that we worry over every rupee that we lose and rejoice over every
rupee that we gain! He wants us to find our joy in Him - a joy that cannot be
increased by any material gain or decreased by any material loss.
Jesus walked on earth
like that - and we are called to walk even as He walked. The Bible says, “Have
this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus “ (Phil. 2:5).
If someone had given
Jesus a gift of ten thousand denarii, out of gratitude for His ministry, that
would not have increased Jesus’ joy even slightly. His joy was already full and
overflowing in His Father.
At the same time, Jesus’
joy would not have decreased through any material loss either. Judas Iscariot
was often pilfering much of the money that came in as gifts to Jesus. Jesus
knew about it; and although He must have felt sorry for Judas, He was never
disturbed over the loss of the money itself.
What a different story
it is today, with many preachers, and their attitudes to the offerings of God’s
people! But let us leave the preachers alone! What about us? Can our joy be
increased or decreased by material things? Then we certainly need to work out
our salvation from such an attitude, by judging ourselves.
If you are really
earnest about partaking of the life of Jesus, God will allow a thousand-and-one
things to happen to you, in order to deliver you from the love of material
things, from seeking the honour of men, from self-pity and many other
He won’t compel you to
go that way if you don’t want to. If you are content to live the substandard,
defeated life that most believers around you live, He will leave you alone.
But if you are thirsting
for God’s best, He will deal with you ruthlessly, cutting out the cancers that
are ruining you and destroying the idols that corrupt you. He will allow you to
suffer pain, disappointment, loss, shattered hopes, humiliation, unjust
criticism etc., in order to bring you to that place of stability - where you
can’t be shaken any more.
Then it won’t make any
difference to you thereafter, whether you are rich or poor, criticised or
praised, honoured or dishonoured. Having gone down into the death of Christ to
everything of this world, you would have partaken of the life of Jesus that
causes you to walk like a king on this earth.
“Always carrying about
in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested
in our body”(2 Cor.4:10).
Few find this way to the
abundant life in Christ because few are willing to pay the price - of total
death to Self. We cannot live by faith if we do not die to Self. If we are not
willing to be crucified with Christ, our knowledge of God’s perfect love will
always remain theoretical. We cannot be the disciples of Jesus, if we do not
forsake everything of this world,
Jesus said, “No one
of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”(Lk.
We looked at John
17:23 earlier: “I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in
unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them,
even as Thou didst love Me.”
Jesus wasn’t praying
there for the world or for carnal Christians. He was praying for His eleven
disciples who had forsaken everything to follow Him. Those disciples could find
a security in the Father’s love that carnal Christians and worldly people could
Why is any Christian a
carnal Christian? Isn’t it because the Devil has deceived him into thinking
that he can be happier if, instead of yielding himself totally to God, he tries
to get “the best of both worlds” (as they say). But this is a deception.
If we believed in God’s
perfect love, we would gladly give up everything for Him, unreservedly. We
would then be totally free from anxiety.
Philippians 4:6,7 commands us: “Be
anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,
which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in
Carnal Christians are
always wondering whether their boat will sink in the middle of the storm. Jesus
could sleep right through the storm, because He was secure in the love of His
Father. He knew that the Devil couldn’t drown Him so easily. His Father was
watching over Him all the time. How wonderful life becomes when we realise that
the extent to which the Father loved and cared for Jesus, He loves and cares
for us too.
When we finally see God,
we will be surprised to discover how much greater His love for us was, than we
had ever imagined. We will then realise how foolish all our anxieties were.
But what will be the use
of realising it then? Now is the time to have our eyes opened to
the fact of God’s love and to live by faith.
YOU CANNOT BE TESTED
BEYOND YOUR ABILITY
1 Corinthians 10:13 is a glorious verse.
There is a tremendous comfort in it for all of us. It says, “God is
faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able,
but with the temptation (trial) will provide the way of escape also,
that you may be able to endure it.”
People often say that
they are going through unbearable trials and sorrows. That may be true for the
children of Adam; but it certainly cannot be true for the disciples of
Jesus - for God watches carefully over every trial and temptation that comes
Satan and those who hate
us, may desire to trouble us in many ways. But they cannot get at us
without God’s permission. Even in the Old Testament, Satan realised that God
had put a hedge around Job, so that no evil could touch him.
Satan told God, “Hast
Thou not made a hedge about Job and his house and all that he has, on every
side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have
increased in the land.”(Job 1:10).
But for Job’s
sanctification, God allowed that hedge to be opened up, and Satan was permitted
to attack him. The extent of the opening in the hedge was however determined by
God. It was opened a little bit initially (Job 1) and a little
more later on (Job 2). The Sabeans and the Chaldeans who stole Job’s
property had all come through the opening that God had made in that hedge. “The
Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of
the sword..... The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels
and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword.”(Job 1:15,17).
The storm that blew down
the house on Job’s children, also came through that same opening in the hedge.
The opening however was
not wide enough for disease to come through to attack Job’s body. But later,
when God opened up the hedge a little more, disease too could come through and
afflict Job. Job didn’t realise initially that God was in control of everything
that was going on. He realised it much later - at the end of the story. But we
can’t blame him, for he did not have the written Scriptures, as we have. But
now we have the Word of God to show us Who controls the opening in the hedge.
The hedge is actually
God Himself as a wall of fire around us. “For I will be a wall of fire
around her, and I will be the glory in her midst, says the Lord” (Zechariah
But, as we read in the
Old Testament about Elisha’s servant, our eyes are often blind and we don’t see
the wall of fire that surrounds us. Elisha however saw it and so he had no
fear. “When the attendant of the man of God (Elisha) had risen early
and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city.
And his servant said to him, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ So he
answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are
with them.’ Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he
may see.’ And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw; and behold, the
mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”(2 Kings
The servant was
terrified because he couldn’t see what Elisha saw. When Elisha prayed for him,
his eyes were opened. Then he came to rest. We need to have our eyes opened
God knows when to close
up the hedge too. He controls our circumstances very carefully and exactly,
according to our spiritual capacity and according to our eagerness to press on
to His highest.
When we are spiritually
immature and weak, God won’t allow us to be tempted by any massive temptation.
Neither will He allow Satan to attack us too violently. At the same time, if
God sees that we are not interested in His purpose for our lives, He will allow
us to have an easy way through life. The loss will then be ours in eternity.
It was because Job was
one of God’s chosen servants that God allowed him to face such intense
suffering. God won’t allow that in everyone’s life, for few have matured to the
place where they can bear it. Very few are interested in such spiritual
maturity, in any case.
Jesus was taken by His
Father through every possible temptation that we can ever face. It was thus
that He became perfect.
See Hebrews 4:15 :
“We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but
one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
Look at Hebrews 5:7-9
as well : “In the days of His flesh, when He offered up both prayers and
supplications with loud crying and tears to Him who was able to save Him from
death, and who was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He
learned obedience from the things which He suffered; and having been made
perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation”.
That’s how Jesus
completed His education as a Man and became perfect. There is no other
way for us to be perfect either.
The fact that God won’t
ever allow us to be tempted or tried beyond our ability is the reason why we
can be sure that we can live in victory all the time. If it were not for
God’s guarantee given to us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, we could not have
had such confidence.
God guarantees that
every trial and temptation that comes our way is conquerable. Why then do we
Because we don’t take
the way of escape that God offers us in each trial and temptation.
What is that way of
It is to humble
ourselves - even to the death of the cross, as Jesus did. “He humbled
Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a
This is the narrow way
to the abundant life, that few find. Pride is so deeply rooted in the flesh,
that few find this glorious way of humility - or even understand what it means
to humble oneself. This is indeed a mystery - but God will reveal it to all who
We may think that it is
the pressures of life that make life unbearable for us. Actually, it is our
pride - the high thoughts that we have about ourselves - that make life
I have meditated on this
at times when I have had to travel in a crowded, unreserved compartment in a
train. Not having a seat to sit on, I’ve had to sit on the floor in a corner,
or at times to stand. The compartment is packed with people and luggage, right
at the starting station. It gets worse at each station along the way, with more
people and more luggage coming in. The pressure constantly increases. And then
I’ve thought, “If only I could become the size of an ant here, there would be
no more pressure on me.” I find the pressure too much, because of my size as a
human being. A fatter man would certainly find it worse! It all depends on our
size. An ant however, would find that crowded compartment quite spacious, and
wouldn’t be complaining about the pressure at all.
That anyway, is the
answer spiritually. When the pressure increases from the outside, if I can
become smaller and smaller in my own eyes, the pressure eases and gradually
disappears. God desires to reduce us. He has to reduce us to nothing in
our own estimation, before He can fulfil His purpose through us.
Why, for example, do we
get offended with others? Isn’t it because we have a high opinion about
ourselves and about our rights? We feel that people are not giving us the
respect that we deserve, or perhaps that they are taking away our rights.
We feel hurt when people
speak evil about us behind our backs. It is our bloated pride that causes us
such suffering. Prick that balloon of pride and when we are truly deflated,
we’ll find that there is no pressure at all.
That is the secret. May
God open our eyes to see it.
While people around us
are complaining about a thousand-and-one things, we will have no complaints
whatsoever, because we have taken the way of escape - of humbling ourselves.
GOD GIVES HIS GRACE ONLY
TO THE HUMBLE
There is yet another
reason why God wants us to humble ourselves - and that is, in order to give us
His grace. God cannot violate His own laws - and one of the laws that He has
bound Himself by, is to resist the proud and to give grace to the humble (1
Pet. 5:5). However much He may love us, He cannot give us His grace, if we are
proud. And if we don’t get grace from God, we cannot live in victory. The power
of temptation can be overcome only by the power of God’s grace.
“The Law came by Moses
but grace came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Under the Law (the old covenant), people
struggled and struggled against temptation in their hearts, but were always
Saul of Tarsus lived a
perfect life according to the external standards of God’s laws. In Philippians
3:6, he gives his testimony concerning his own life, “As to the
righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless”. Yet he found that he
was powerless against lust and covetousness in his heart. He says in Romans
7:8, “Sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting
of every kind.”
The Law could not enable
people to keep their hearts pure from lust. It was not meant to. The Law was
meant to show man his sinfulness and his helplessness against the lusts of the
flesh, and to keep him from external sin through the fear of punishment. A man
could have a perfect life externally, in the eyes of men, through the Law. Yet
his heart could be like a sewer of sin! That was the best that the Law could
But the good news of the
new covenant through Jesus Christ, is that what the Law could not do,
grace can. God’s grace is not just His undeserved favour forgiving our
sins. It is more than that. It is God’s power that can enable us to overcome
In 2 Cor. 12:9,
‘grace’ is equated with ‘power’, for the Lord says,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
This grace (power) comes
to help us when we are tempted. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us draw near
with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace
to help in time of need.”
“It is good for the
heart to be strengthened by grace” (Heb.13:9). Then we can keep our
heart from being defiled by lust and covetousness. This is the good news of the
In Hebrews 8:10 God
says, “I will put My laws into their minds and I will write
them upon their hearts”. Under the old covenant (the Law), God told man, “Thou
shalt….” and “Thou shalt not…”. But notice (in this verse) that
under the new covenant, God Himself takes the responsibility saying, “I
will put…”, “I will write…”. God does His work in our minds and hearts
through the Spirit of grace.
Through grace, “God
works in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure”
(Phil.2:13). Thus “the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled inside
us” (Rom. 8:4). This was the main purpose with which God poured out His
Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It was `the Spirit of grace’ that
God “poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem on that day” (Zech. 12:10).
That river is still
flowing as a waterfall from God’s throne to earth today. The inhabitants of
God’s heavenly Jerusalem (the church) may still come under that waterfall and
be drenched with God’s grace.
Then the promise in Romans
6:14 will be fulfilled, “Sin shall not be master over you, for you are under
grace, and not under law.”
There is only one condition,
in order to come under this waterfall - and that is that we humble ourselves.
Grace can exalt us over
sin, over our circumstances, over depression, over bad moods, over Satan, over
bitterness, over hatred, jealousy, lust and every other evil. “Humble
yourself therefore under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you “
(1 Pet. 5:6).
What is “the mighty
hand of God” that we are to humble ourselves under? It is the hand that
orders all the circumstances and people that cross our daily path. To humble
ourselves is to gladly submit to all of God’s dealings with us - in all our
circumstances - even when He allows people to ride over our heads.
We need never fear that
this will become too much for us to bear, for God watches the gap in the hedge
and knows how much to open at a time. He also knows when to close it.
If we are overcome by
any sin, there can be only one reason for our being defeated - our pride. We
cannot overcome sin if God does not give us grace. And God does not give us
grace, when we are proud. Each time we find ourselves defeated, we need to go
to God and say, “Lord show me where the pride lies in me that hindered You from
giving me grace to overcome.” If we are quick to judge ourselves in each
failure, like that, victory can be ours in a very short time.
Victory over sin is our
birthright under the new covenant. Don’t let Satan deprive you of it through
ignorance or pride. If it takes time to get victory, it is because it takes
time for God to humble us. It takes time for God to shatter that
self-confidence that we as children of Adam are filled with.
One form of pride is to think
that we have the strength to overcome sin. We think that all we need is a
little more determination, a little more self-discipline, a little more prayer
and fasting and a little more Bible-knowledge. When we read about victory in a
book like this, we can think that now that we have grasped the doctrine
clearly, victory will be easy.
We go forth with great
confidence, but we don’t realise yet that our confidence is still in ourselves
and not in God’s grace. And lo and behold, we fall so miserably.
But do you think that we
learn the lesson with one fall? No, we don’t. And so God has to allow us to
fall again and again - repeatedly - until one day we give up all hope of ever
getting victory, because we have fallen so often, despite all our good resolutions.
That is the zero-point, at which God can lead us into the promised land of
In the Old Testament,
God brought the Israelites who left Egypt, to the borders of the promised land,
two years after they had left Egypt. But they could not enter in, because of
their unbelief (See Numbers chapters 13 & 14). And so God allowed
those proud, self-confident Israelites to wander in the wilderness for another “thirty-eight
years, until all the men of war (symbolising the strength of Self) had
perished” (Deut.2:14). Then they came to a zero-point. And then they could
enter in. Then the Jerichos fell before them, without any effort on their part.
God has to reduce us to
zero, before He can do His work in and through us. It doesn’t have to take
forty years. You can enter in within a year or two, if you are radical, and if
you are determined to humble yourself at any cost.
As long as we keep
blaming our circumstances or other people we can never hope for victory. But if
we humble ourselves, believing that God controls all our circumstances, and
that no temptation will ever be too much for us to overcome, then victory is
GOD CONTROLS OUR
For our faith to be
unshakable, it must rest securely on three facts concerning God - His perfect
love, His absolute power and His perfect wisdom. If we are convinced about His
love, we must be equally convinced about His sovereign power as well.
That’s why Jesus taught
us to preface our prayers by addressing God as “Our Father Who art in
“Our Father” reminds us of His perfect
love; and “Who art in Heaven” reminds us that He is the Almighty God
Who rules over everything that happens on earth in absolute sovereignty.
Being God, He is also perfectly wise, and so orders our ways perfectly
according to His wisdom.
“As for God, His way is
wisdom is perfect)..... and He makes my way blameless. (He orders my
circumstances perfectly)” (Psa. 18:30,32).
If God were not perfect
in love, power and wisdom, our faith would not have an adequate foundation to
rest on. But because He is all three, we need never be shaken.
Faith is the leaning of
the human personality on God in total confidence in His perfect love,
His absolute power and His perfect wisdom.
We will all readily
acknowledge that God’s wisdom is perfect. His ways are as much higher than ours
as heaven is above earth.
“For My thoughts are not
your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens
are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My
thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa.55:8,9).
That’s why we can’t
often understand the way He works or the way He orders our affairs. If a child
cannot understand all the ways of his father, then it is not surprising if we
cannot understand all of God’s ways either. As we grow spiritually and partake
more of the Divine nature, however, we will begin to understand more and more
of God’s ways.
The total sovereignty of
God over all people and circumstances, is a matter concerning which many
believers remain in doubt. They may give lip-acknowledgement to it, but they
don’t believe it “works” in the situations of daily life. Yet the Scriptures
are full of examples of how God worked sovereignly on behalf of His people -
and often in the most unlikely ways.
Many of us are familiar
with the obviously miraculous ways in which God worked on behalf of His people
- such as the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt etc. But we have often
missed seeing the greater miracles by which God turned the tables on Satan when
Satan attacked God’s people.
The case of Joseph is a
classic. God had a plan for that eleventh son of Jacob to make him the second
ruler in Egypt by the time he was thirty.
Joseph was a God-fearing
lad and therefore he was hated by Satan. And so Satan instigated his elder
brothers to get rid of him. But God ensured that they didn’t take Joseph’s
life. They managed, however, to sell him off to some Ishmaelite traders. But
where do you think those traders took Joseph? To Egypt, of course! That was the
fulfillment of Step One in God’s plan!
In Egypt, Joseph was
bought by Potiphar. This too was arranged by God. Potiphar’s wife was an evil
woman. Taking a fancy to Joseph, she tried to entice him again and again.
Finally when she found that she could not succeed, she accused Joseph falsely
and had him cast in jail. But who do you think Joseph met in the jail?
Pharaoh’s cupbearer! God had arranged for Pharaoh’s cupbearer also to be jailed
at the same time so that Joseph could meet him. That was Step Two in
God’s third step was to
allow Pharaoh’s cupbearer to forget about Joseph for two years. “The chief
cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. It happened at the end of
two full years that Pharoah had a dream.... Then the chief cupbearer spoke to
That was the time,
according to God’s time-table, for Joseph to be released from prison.
Psalm 105:19, 20 says, “Until the time
that His word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. Then the king sent
and released him and set him free.”
Joseph was now 30 years
old. God’s time had come. And so God gave Pharaoh a dream. And God reminded the
cupbearer also of Joseph as the interpreter of his dream. Thus Joseph came
before Pharaoh and became the second ruler in Egypt. God’s timing of events in
Joseph’s life couldn’t have been more perfect!
We would never have
thought of arranging things the way God did. If we had the power to plan
Joseph’s life, we would probably have prevented people from doing him any harm.
But the way God did it was better.
It’s a far greater
miracle when the evil that people do to us is turned to fulfil God’s purposes
for us! God takes great delight in turning the tables on Satan, so that all
things work together for the good of His elect.
Let’s apply these events
to our circumstances.
What should our attitude
be to evil men, to brothers who are jealous of us, to women who accuse us
falsely, to friends who promise to help us but forget, or to being thrown into
Do we believe that God
is sovereign enough to use all these people and everything they do - whether
done deliberately or accidentally - to work together for the fulfillment of His
purpose for our lives? If He did that for Joseph, won’t He do it for us too? He
certainly can and He will.
But I’ll tell you who
could have messed up God’s plan for Joseph’s life. Only one person - and
that was Joseph himself. If he had yielded to Potiphar’s wife’s
enticements, he would certainly have been set aside by God.
There is only one person
in the universe who can spoil and frustrate God’s plan for your life - and that
is you yourself. No one else can do it. Not your friends and not your enemies.
Not angels and not Satan. Only you. Once we see this, it will liberate
us from a great many of our fears and from wrong attitudes towards those who
Let us look at one more
example from the Old Testament, so that our minds are firmly established in
In the book of Esther,
we read of how God rescued the Jews from being slaughtered as a race. But it is
amazing to see how God did it - through one small incident - that the king
could not sleep one night. Haman and his wife had been plotting one night to
get the king’s permission to hang Mordecai on a gallows the next morning, as a
prelude to destroying all the Jews. But while Haman and his wife were making
their wicked plans, God was working on behalf of Mordecai too. “The Keeper
of Israel never slumbers or sleeps.”(Psa.121:4).
God prevented the king
from sleeping that night. “During that night the king could not sleep so he gave
an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read
before the king.” (Esth.6:1). The king listened to his nation’s history for
many hours, until the day began to break. Then the reading came to the place
where it was recorded that Mordecai had once saved the king from being
assassinated. The king asked his servants what honour had been bestowed on
Mordecai for this, and they replied that nothing had been done.
God’s timing of events
was again perfect. At that very moment Haman walked in, planning to ask the
king for permission to hang Mordecai. Before Haman could open his mouth, the
king asked Haman what he thought could be done for one whom the king desired to
honour. Haman, conceited man that he was, thought that the king was referring
to him, and so suggested a great parade of honour for such a man. “Go and do
that for Mordecai, quickly,” the king said.
How wonderfully our God
can turn the tables on Satan. Haman finally hung on the very same gallows that
he had made for Mordecai. As the Bible says, “He who digs a pit (for
another) will fall into it (himself). And he who rolls a stone (at
another) will find the stone rolling back (to crush him)” (Prov.
Haman, in this story, is
a type of Satan who is always planning some evil against us. God won’t stop
him, because God has a far better plan. He wants to turn the tables on Satan.
The pit that the Devil digs for us will be the one that he himself falls into
Zephaniah 3:17 says (in one
translation) that “God is silently planning for us in love”, all the
While Mordecai was
sleeping peacefully that night, quite ignorant of all the wicked plans that
Haman and his wife were making against him, God was also planning to protect
Mordecai. So Mordecai could have slept just as peacefully, even if he had known
of Haman’s wicked plans. Why not? If God was on his side, who could be against
Peter too could sleep
peacefully in prison, the night before he was to be executed by Herod, knowing
that God was silently planning for him in love. At the right time, God’s angel
came and woke up Peter and set him free (Acts chapter 12).
We too can sleep
peacefully each night, irrespective of what people or demons may be trying to
do to us - if we believe in the total sovereignty of God over everything and
Once we have seen the
sovereignty of God, we will stop blaming people for anything. We’ll no longer
be afraid of Satan, fearing that he might harm us in some way. We won’t be
afraid of sickness or disease or anything else in this world.
The Bible tells us to
give thanks for everything, in all circumstances and also for all
“Always giving thanks for
all things in the name of our Lord Jesus to God, even the Father” (Eph.
give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).
“First of all then I
urge that thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men “ (1 Tim. 2:1).
We can do this
meaningfully, only when we have seen the absolute sovereignty of God.
God cares for us as He
cared for Jesus. The same grace that helped Jesus, the same power of the Holy
Spirit that enabled Him to overcome, is now available to us.
Judas betrayed Jesus,
Peter denied Him, His disciples forsook Him, the multitude turned against Him,
He was unjustly tried, falsely accused and led out to be crucified. And yet on
the way to Calvary, He could turn to the multitude and say, “Stop weeping
for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Lk. 23:28).
There was not a trace of
self-pity in Him.
He knew that the cup
that He was drinking had been sent by His Father. Judas Iscariot was only the
messenger who had brought the cup. And so He could look at Judas with love and
call him “Friend.” You won’t be able to do that, unless you have faith
in the total sovereignty of God.
Jesus told Pilate, “You
would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above” (Jn.
It was this assurance
that enabled Jesus to walk through this world as a king, with dignity. He lived
with that spiritual dignity and died with that same spiritual dignity.
Now we are called to “walk
as Jesus walked.” As He “testified a good confession” before Pilate,
we too are to make our confession before an unbelieving generation.
Paul tells Timothy in 1
Timothy 6:13,14 “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all
things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before
Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach,
until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As we have already seen,
the ultimate good that God is working towards is to make us partakers of His
nature, of His holiness. In His marvelous sovereignty, He makes use of everyone
who crosses our path, to fulfil His purpose. That’s why we can give thanks for
Why does God allow that
troublesome neighbour, that nagging relative and that tyrannical boss to keep
harassing you? He can easily remove them elsewhere or even take away their
lives, and thus make life more comfortable for you. But He doesn’t do any such
thing. Why? Because He wants to use them to sanctify you. He may even want to
save them - through you.
Praise God that our
victory is never dependent on the type of people we are surrounded by - whether
in our home or office or anywhere else. Our victory is entirely dependent on
God’s grace. And that grace can be ours in every situation, if we humble
FAITH IN GOD - OR FAITH
Money is the great power
in this world. That’s why Jesus said that there were only two masters seeking
for our devotion - God and Mammon.
“No servant can serve
two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he
will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon”
The world believes in
the power of money and says, “Money can do anything.” We, as
believers say, “God can do anything.” But in most cases, those
unbelievers have more faith in their god (money) than we have in the true and
Since we are dealing
with money matters everyday in this world, we need to get the victory in this
The world believes that
money can do wonders. What about us? Can’t our God do greater wonders than
money can? But God can’t work on our behalf if we don’t have faith. Jesus said
that there were two persons in the universe to whom nothing was
impossible. One is God. The other is the believer who has faith.
“All things are possible
with God.........All things are possible to him who believes” (Mk.10:27; 9:23).
Nothing is impossible - for
God and for the person with faith.
This is fantastic. But
such is the power of faith - it connects us to the almighty power of God. With
such faith, we are to demonstrate to the world around us that our God is
greater than money.
I remember the time when
we had to get a permit from the Government for purchasing cement for the
construction of our meeting-hall in Bangalore. I went and saw the concerned
clerk in the government-office and he told me to come back the next week. I
went back the next week and he told me to come back later. This went on for
sometime, until someone who was wiser to the ways of government-offices told me
that what the clerk was asking for, indirectly, was a bribe!
There was no question of
giving a bribe. We prayed instead. I kept going back again and again to the
office and acquired a lot of patience thereby! Finally, after some months, we
got our permit. I had applied only for cement. But I got patience as well! God
always give us more than we ask for!! Hallelujah!!
How wonderful that God
could use a corrupt official to enable me to partake of the Divine nature -
patience! If I had given that man a bribe, I would have got the cement earlier.
But I wouldn’t have got any patience. Such is God’s way. If we honour Him, He
will honour us.
“Those who honour Me I
will honour”, says the Lord (1 Sam.2:30).
If we have no ambitions
in our life outside of the will of God, we will never have any problems.
As far as we were
concerned in the church at Bangalore, at that time, we wanted the cement, only
if God wanted us to have it. We didn’t want a meeting-hall if God didn’t want
us to have one. Neither did we want the hall before God’s time. And so, if the
permit for cement took four years to come, we were quite prepared to wait.
God’s timetable is always perfect. He is always on time - and never late. The
date that God had determined for us to get the cement would be the date that we
would get it. No power on earth could stop us from getting it according to
God’s timetable. So, if we are prepared to wait for God’s time, we will find
that He deals with all the officials involved, in His own way - and in His own
Through impatience, Saul
lost the kingdom. Read this: “He (Saul) waited seven days, according to the
appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people
were scattering from him. So Saul said, ‘Bring to me the burnt offering and the
peace offerings.’ And he offered the burnt offering. And it came about as soon
as he finished offering the burnt offering, that behold, Samuel came; and Saul
went out to meet him and to greet him. But Samuel said, ‘What have you done?’
And Saul said, ‘Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that
you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were
assembling at Michmash, therefore I said, “Now the Philistines will come down
against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord.” So I forced
myself and offered the burnt offering. And Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have acted
foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He
commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel
forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for
Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over
His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.’” (1
Through impatience, many
have missed God’s best. No-one can hinder God’s plan for your life, if you take
a stand for truth and righteousness, and are willing to wait for God’s time.
“Through faith and
patience, we inherit the promises” (Heb.6:12).
The same principle
applies in the matter of finances for our home-needs. Our faith is in God - not
in money. If you run your home according to the principles of God’s kingdom,
you will always have enough money for your needs. You may never become rich, but
you certainly won’t have to beg. David said, “I have been young, and now I
am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging
Jesus said, “Seek
first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these (material)
things shall be added to you.” (Mt.6:33).
Many Christian “full-time
workers” who started out in faith, have ended up as dignified beggars,
having to send out monthly “prayer-letters” (which is often just another name
for “begging-letters”) that hint cleverly about their financial needs.
Why do you have to hint
about your needs to men, if you really have a loving and almighty Father in
heaven? If God can’t be depended on for a such a small thing as our monthly
needs, then we might as well stop serving Him altogether! It is in such
situations that both God and Mammon claim our loyalty. Whom are we going to
If our interests are the
same as God’s we will have no problem whatsoever. If we have no desire to buy
or possess anything that God doesn’t want us to have, we can always be at rest
- for God will always supply our needs - if need be, miraculously. But if we
yield to the desire to buy many unnecessary things to satisfy our material
lusts, then we shall run into problems all the time.
The same principle of
faith applies in the matter of finding a life-partner: “A father can give
his sons homes and riches, but only the Lord can give them understanding wives
“ (Prov. 19:14-Living Bible).
If God has planned some
person to be your life-partner, is there any danger of someone else marrying
him/her? Not if you believe in the
sovereignty of God?
You don’t have to be
impatient then, and you don’t have to grab. God is well able to keep that
person for you. You can afford to be at rest.
Adam did not have to run
frantically around the garden of Eden looking for someone to marry! He wouldn’t
have found anyone, even if he did! What did God do? He put Adam to sleep. And
it was when Adam was at rest that God prepared his wife for him. Then God woke
him up and gave him Eve.
God loves you as much as
He loved Adam and He will certainly lead you to the right person too, if He has
planned marriage for you. But you must trust Him. Waiting, without
faith will only lead to disappointment.
If you have no ambitions
outside the will of God, if you are willing even to be single, if that be the
will of God, then you need have no fear at all.
“The eyes of the Lord
move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose
heart is completely His”. (2 Chron. 16:9). What a wonderful God we have!
“This is the victory
that overcomes the world - even our faith” (1 Jn.5:4). If you have faith - in God’s perfect wisdom,
love and power - you will always overcome this world, and its prince and its
powers (mammon, pleasure, honour, etc.)
If however, you don’t believe in God’s sovereignty or in His love,
you’ll find yourself being dragged along with the children of Adam into a life
of misery, ungodliness, compromise and frustration.
GOD HELPS THOSE WHO ARE
The world says that God
helps those who help themselves. But the Bible says that God helps those who
are unable to help themselves. He is the God of the weak and the
helpless. He calls Himself the God of the widows, orphans and strangers.
Deuteronomy 10:17,18 says, “The Lord your
God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the
awesome God who does not show partiality, nor take a bribe. He executes justice
for the ORPHAN and the WIDOW, and shows His love for the ALIEN by giving him
food and clothing.” He doesn’t call Himself the God of the rich and the
mighty - because they have access to human and financial help. He is the God of
the weak and the helpless, who have no access to human or financial help. God
is on the side of the weak. That’s why He has to make us weak before He can
God gave Paul a thorn in
the flesh to make him weak, so that Paul might know the power of God resting on
his life always.
In 2 Corinthians
12:7-10, Paul says, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the
revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given
me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me - to keep me from
exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might
depart from me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for
power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore I will rather boast
about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am
well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions,
with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
As long as you are
depending on your wealth and your influential friends to see you through life comfortably,
God will leave you to your own devices. He won’t even answer your prayer for
help - for He sees that your confidence is in the arm of flesh - your bank
account and the influential men you know.
But if you could only
come to the place of weakness - where you are no longer depending on human
resources or people - then you would be the most blessed person on the face of
the earth. For then, God Himself will be your support. It is blessed to be weak
and helpless, for then we can trust in God for everything.
King Asa of Judah was a
man whom God had helped more than once. Yet when he had a severe disease of the
feet, he depended on his doctors, and not on the Lord, to heal him. We read
these sad words about him that, “in the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa
became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he
did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. So Asa died” (2 Chron. 16:12, 13).
Because he was the king,
Asa had enough money to pay for the best doctors in the land. But all his
influence and his wealth could not heal him of his disease. How much better it
would have been if he had trusted in the Lord!
There was nothing wrong
in his being treated by the doctors. There was everything wrong in his depending
It is best to be in the
place where you have the Lord alone as your Helper. If you are one of those who
desires God’s best in life, you will find that God weans you away, again and
again, from leaning on the arm of flesh. He will make you weak, so that you
might lean only on Him.
Consider how God dealt
with Elijah. When there was a famine in Israel, God fed Elijah through crows
and a brook. “The word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Go away from here
and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the
Jordan. And it shall be that you shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded
the ravens to provide for you there.’ So he went and did according to the word
of the Lord, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the
Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and
meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook.”(1 Kings 17:4-6).
Twice a day the crows
brought him bread and meat and there was always enough water in the brook. This
happened so regularly that Elijah was in danger of depending on the brook and
the crows rather than on God. And so God decided to change the channel of
supply. “It happened after a while, that the brook dried up, because there
was no rain in the land.”(1 Kings 17:7)
One morning, Elijah went
down to the brook and found that it had dried up. God was teaching His servant
to stop depending on crows and brooks. He Who could make a meat-eating crow to
go against its own nature to provide meat for His servant, could well be
trusted to provide an alternate means of supply now.
So God told Elijah to go
to Zarephath. And there God was going to take care of His servant - not through
a rich businessman, but through an old, helpless, poverty-stricken, non-Jewish
widow. She was the last person in Zarephath whom we would have selected for
such a task.
But God’s ways are
different from ours. He delights to use the least likely channel of supply, so
that our faith might rest, not on the channel, but on God.
“God has chosen the
foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak
things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things
of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that he
might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.”(1
It will be a wonderful
day in our life when the crows that have fed us for so long, stop coming. Then
we can start trusting in God alone.
When the person who has
promised to help you lets you down, don’t complain against him. God must have
stopped him from helping you, so that you can learn to lean on the living God.
God is a jealous God and
He will not share His glory with another.
“I am the Lord...I will
not give My glory to another.” (Isa.42:8).
“Thou shalt have no
other gods but Me” is
a word that we need to hear again and again, for our flesh has a tendency
towards idolatry - to lean upon human and financial resources. God wants us to
be dependent on Him alone for all our needs. Then we can live in victory all
The sum and substance of
all that we have been saying thus far is that all of our salvation is by
grace and through faith.
“For by grace you
have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the
gift of God.” (Eph.2:8).
We began our Christian
life - receiving forgiveness of sins and the baptism in the Spirit - by grace,
through faith. One day when Jesus Christ our Lord returns in glory, we will be
caught up to meet Him in the air. That too will be by grace and through faith.
So, the beginning and
the end of our Christian life on earth are by grace and through faith. What we
need to learn is that everything in between, is also to be received on the same
principle. By grace, through faith, we can overcome everything evil, and fulfil
our God-appointed task on earth.
God knows all the
future. There is nothing that is going to happen to us tomorrow or next week or
next year that can surprise God. He knows the end from the beginning. This
should give us great comfort. For if God knows that you are going to be faced
with a massive trial or temptation tomorrow or next week, He will certainly
give you grace to cope with it.
The Lord told Paul, “My
grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”(2 Cor.12:9). His
grace IS sufficient for every need.
“God is able to make all
grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may
have an abundance for every good deed.” (2 Cor.9:8).
Grace is available in
abundance to help us in our time of need.
“Let us draw near with
confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace
to help in time of need.” (Heb.4:16).
Whatever your need might
be, God’s grace is available to help you meet it. We are therefore invited to
come boldly to the throne of grace to receive that grace.
We have been defeated in
the past, because we have not received that grace. The story can be different
in the future. If we humble ourselves and cry out for grace in our time of
need, God will not disappoint us.
The Bible says that
those who receive abundance of grace will reign in life through Jesus Christ.
“For if by the
transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more then those
who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign
in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Rom.5:17).
That was God’s will for
Adam - that he might have dominion and rule over everything. Genesis 1:26 says,
“ God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let
them rule over all the earth.’”
prevented that from being fulfilled in his life. But now God has raised up a
new race on earth - the sons of God who live by faith in Jesus Christ - who are
to live with the dignity of kings, and reign on earth.
No sin need any longer
have dominion over you, if you will humble yourself and receive God’s grace.
No fear or anxiety need
ever again enter your heart.
No one on earth can make
life miserable for you any more - not your boss, not your neighbour, not your
relatives, not your enemies, not Satan, no one - for you have learnt the
secrets of victory.
Thanks be to God Who
always leads us in His triumph in Christ.
How wonderful it is to
live under God’s new covenant of grace!
The promised land lies
open before you!
Go in and possess it!
THE SECRETS OF VICTORY
1. God wants to help you to live in victory at all
times. Believe this with all your heart.
2. God gives you commandments because He loves you.
Therefore take each of them seriously.
3. God loves the disciples of Jesus as much as He
loves Jesus. Find your security in this love.
4. Every trial has a Divine purpose. God will never
allow you to be tempted or tested beyond your ability. Believe this with all
5. Jesus was tempted in every point exactly as we
are. Yet He never sinned. Look at Him as your Example, when you are tempted.
6. God gives grace only to the humble. So take up
the cross and humble yourself at all times.
7. God will control all your circumstances so that
they work together for your very best. Believe this with all your heart.
8. Depend on God alone as your unfailing Helper in
all situations. Ask Him to wean you away from dependence on anything or anyone
9. God can give His power only to the weak. So allow
Him to break you and to reduce you to a ‘zero-point’.
WHAT GOD DID FOR JESUS
HE WILL DO FOR YOU
1. When bowed with burdens and with care,
Your soul is in
have to fear,
God is very
He loves you
as He loved His Son
He will help you too;
trust His word of promise
And He will see you through.
It is no secret what God can do;
He’s done for Jesus He’ll do for you;
With mighty power He’ll strengthen
It is no secret what God can do.
2. Though sin and evil fill this world
And you are
God’s Word is true -
can’t reign o’er you.”
when temptations’s pull is strong
grace will be your stay;
you can walk like Jesus
vict’ry every day.
3. When pain and sickness come to you
touch your loved ones too,
knows how you feel -
has power to heal.
Father will provide your need -
faithful and He’s true;
as He cared for Jesus
will care for you.
4. O what a glorious comfort this -
you have come to know
as your Lord
Elder Brother too.
all God has is now your own
He won’t let you go;
now that God is for you
can be your foe? -
WORDS OF WISDOM
1. If we keep the letter of the law but deny its
spirit, we have a form of godliness without its power.
2. A humble person is thankful to God and to
man for the smallest things.
3. If we are overcome by any sin, the root cause is
pride somewhere or the other.
4. If we are truly humble, it is impossible not
to receive grace from God.
5. A humble person can never be overcome by
people, Satan or the flesh.
6. If we humble ourselves, we will be protected by
God’s almighty hand.
7. It is impossible for two people to become one,
unless both are poor in spirit.
8. The poor in spirit are those who are conscious
of their own need and who therefore judge themselves constantly.
9. To have revelation is to see things, people and
circumstances etc., from God’s point of view.
10. The beam in our eye is an unloving, judgemental
attitude towards the brother who has a speck in his eye.
11. The Law gives us commands, but gives us no
ability to keep them. Grace calls us to a higher level, but gives us the
power to reach it.
12. Each day we have the opportunity either to do
the will of God or to waste the day.
13. Obstacles in our way are not usually signals to
retreat, but challenges to our faith.
14. He who walks after the flesh makes demands on
others, but he who walks after the Spirit bears with their weaknesses and
15. He who is secure in the love of God will not
judge or envy others or compete with them.
16. All glory that is not glory to God is empty
17. If we live selfishly now, the memory of that
life will cause us regret throughout eternity.
18. God allows us to be in need and to receive help
from others, to teach us our mutual dependence in the Body of Christ.
19. When we give a gift to another, we must do so
without robbing him of his dignity as a human being.
20. The real value of our life lies in what we have given
and not in what we have received.
21. What we receive by Divine revelation is our real
wealth. The rest is mere knowledge and is as worthless as counterfeit
22. Faith can be based only on the word that we have
heard from God. Man must live therefore by every word that proceeds from God’s
23. God has to bring us to a zero-point before He
can lift us up and fulfil His purpose through us.
24. We are called, not to imitate Christ, but
to follow Him and to partake of His nature.
25. To fear God is to be faithful in our hidden
26. No-one other than we ourselves can spoil God’s
perfect plan for our life.
27. To be faithful in the use of money is a
vastly higher thing than being just righteous in money matters.
28. True spirituality consists in denying our own
will and doing the will of God.
29. To build on sand is to understand the
doctrine and to be excited about it. To build on rock is to obey
the Word of God.
30. To be spiritual, one must give up not only what
is wrong but also what is unprofitable.
31. To have spiritual gifts without Divine love is
to be like an uninsulated electric wire, that brings death instead of light.
32. Jesus was crucified - not because He lived a
holy life, but because He exposed religious harlotry. Let us follow His
33. No true prophet in the Bible ever came out of a
Bible-school; only the false prophets did.
34. All our human abilities and earthly
qualifications have no value at all in the sight of God.
35. The highest archangel became the Devil through
pride in his beauty, his wisdom and his position. We must
always beware of such pride.
36. The law is like an ointment that keeps
our sores under control. Grace is like an antibiotic that kills the
germs causing the sores.
37. The unmistakable mark of faith is praise and
thanksgiving to God.
38. God gives us material things to be used -
not to be loved or possessed.
39. True Christianity lies midway between asceticism
40. We can be like Jesus only when He returns
in glory, but we can walk as He walked even now.
41. Jesus grew in wisdom in his own home and
in his place of work (carpentry-shop). We too can grow in wisdom in the
same two places.
42. When we accuse the brothers, we become
co-workers with Satan; when we intercede for them, we become co-workers
43. If we make ourselves a necessity to
others, we hinder their walk with God.
44. Everything that does not originate in love will
perish one day.
45. Our spiritual maturity is tested by our attitude
towards those who do not see eye-to-eye with us.
46. To have a pure heart is to desire nothing and
no-one but God.
47. If Jesus could not serve His Father without the
anointing of the Spirit, neither can we.
48. A church without the gifts of the Spirit is like
a paralyzed man - he may have life, but he cannot serve others effectively.
49. There are two persons for whom nothing is
impossible - God and the person with faith.
50. If we die to ourselves, we can ‘Rest in
peace” at all times and in all situations.
Copyright - Zac Poonen (1982)
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