Spiritual Life #25
Spiritual Work and Life
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I’d like to try to talk about spiritual work tonight. And maybe it would be good just to back track very quickly on the subject of the past few Sunday evenings. We’ve been talking about what a spiritual man or a spiritual woman is. And because we have so many wild ideas of what a spiritual man or spiritual woman is — some of us thinking a spiritual man is one who can say the Lord’s Prayer backwards, the spiritual woman one who can say it forward. I couldn’t resist that. [Audience laughs.] But really, a spiritual man or a spiritual woman is one who works from the inside out. That’s it. And a carnal man or a carnal woman is one who works from outside in. That’s it, you know.
So a spiritual man or a spiritual woman is one who really lives off God’s love. That is one who really gets all their sense of security from God, who really isn’t all shaken when their best friend tears them apart because they get their sense of security not from the approval of their best friend but from God himself. They’re people who get their sense of importance in this world from what God has given them to do. And so they’re not all worried when somebody overlooks them, or ignores them; they don’t mind. They have an inner certainty, a rock like steadiness that comes from knowing what God has put them here to do, knowing that they are important to him and therefore, it doesn’t matter who else ignores them.
A spiritual man or spiritual woman is a person who gets all their happiness from God. That is, they get other optional happiness as extras from other people but they don’t depend on it and they don’t need it. And so if they don’t get to go out skiing this week they aren’t all cast down. If they don’t get a vacation they aren’t all depressed. Their real happiness comes from their enjoyment of God’s friendship. So loved ones, that’s what a spiritual man or a spiritual woman is. A person that gets all they need from God’s love and therefore can share that with other people and so they move from the inside out.
You can see that’s very different from the way the world operates and the way those of us who are carnal Christians operate. Because there are many of us, I think you’ll agree, that do have Jesus’ Spirit within us but we still are utterly cast down when some Christian brother or sister speaks disparagingly of us, or reproves us in some way. Many of us have Jesus’ Spirit within us but we still get a good deal of happiness from the little outings and the little picnics, and the little canoe trips and if we’re not invited along to one we’re really, really disappointed.
You see, that’s the emphasis, loved ones. It’s not that you can’t get happiness from those things — but it’s when you depend on those things for happiness that you’re obviously living from the outside in and of course you’re the plaything of everybody who chooses to ignore you. You’re the play thing of every disappointing event that Satan decides to throw at you. So you’re a very vulnerable person. A spiritual man or spiritual woman is one who lives from the inside out; who is utterly satisfied with God. Now, that does not come easily and it does not come through reading lots of books about renewing your mind, or retraining your emotions, it doesn’t. Because those of you who have tried to rewrite your personalities know how frustrating it is. You say to yourself, “I don’t care what others think of me, I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.” And then somebody says something critical of you and you do care.
And you keep on thinking, “Oh, it’s just a matter of retraining my mind, it is. I don’t care what they think of me. You’re the only one Lord whose opinion I care about.” And yet it doesn’t work because loved ones, it’s a miracle. The turning around of your personality is a miracle. It’s a miracle that has been wrought by God in Jesus. It isn’t a thing you bring about yourself by all kinds of retraining, and rewriting your mind, and reading the right books on temperament. It is a miracle wrought by God in Jesus. God placed you in Jesus. That miserable old carnal personality that is enslaved to people’s opinions, that is enslaved to the right events for its happiness, is enslaved to enough food, shelter, and clothing for its security — he turned it around in Jesus. He turned it around so that it can actually depend on God only.
Now that’s what happened, loved ones. And the only hope for you and me becoming a spiritual man or woman as opposed to a carnal man or woman is the work that God has done upon us in Jesus. And it’s that work that is the basis of the transformation that can take place in you tonight. So it’s not a transformation that you bring about, it’s not a transformation that some psychologist brings about, it’s a transformation that God has wrought in Jesus.
Maybe you’d just suffer me turning you to one verse because I think there are some of you who haven’t been here on previous Sunday evenings. It’s 2 Corinthians, those of you who know it can just say it by heart but it is a great verse loved ones. 2 Corinthians 5:14, is the basis of the transformation that can take place in us, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.” Now please, I know you’re fed up some of you hearing it, but do you see that “all have died” means that Brezhnev [Soviet Leader] has died?
See, you can’t get Brezhnev out of it. You can’t exclude the person who has just murdered someone in New York City. That verse says clearly, “One has died for all; therefore all have died.” And the truth is that every personality in the whole universe has died in Christ and has been crucified, and has been resurrected in him, and has been turned around in him, and all that person has to do to have that realized in their life is to believe it and to submit to it, and that’s it. And that’s the basis loved ones, of the work that God has done in Jesus and it’s the basis on which the Holy Spirit operates.
Now, do you see that? If God has not done that in Jesus the Holy Spirit can do nothing in you, nothing with Brezhnev, nothing with the murderer. No. Unless God has actually done that in Jesus, the Holy Spirit cannot do a thing because the Holy Spirit’s only power is to take up the things of Jesus and make them real in us. He cannot create anything; he can only make real in this present time and space world what God has done in Jesus. And so the foundation work is Jesus.
I could liken it to a story that I had to read for, oh I think we call it Junior Certificate in Ireland, but you do it at 15 years of age. And we read this short story, I forget who wrote it, but it was about a customs official in the days when of course, there was a lot of smuggling on the coast of Dublin and Cornwall in England. And these smugglers, of course, were surprised by the customs official. And unfortunately, he was absolutely on his own so it was just a matter of minutes before they turned the tables completely and they took him over to the edge of a huge cliff. There are great cliffs there in that part of England, hundreds of feet high.
And they took him over to the cliff and blindfolded him and then he felt himself being lowered and lowered, and he felt the side of the cliff up against his chest, and then they put his fingers on
the edge of the cliff. And he held himself there and they laughed and left him. And he realized that all he had to do was ease his finger hold a little and he’d be dashed on the rocks below. And he hung there and perspired and perspired and could not pull himself right up, all he could do was hang on. And he hung on for half an hour, and then three quarters of an hour, and then an hour, and of course you can realize the fingers were beginning to lose all feeling.
And then after an hour and a half he realized, “This is the end, I can hang on no longer.” And at last he gave himself up to God and just let go and he dropped one foot and fell on to the ground. And you know that of course they hadn’t put him on the edge of the cliff at all, they had taken him over to a little bit of an edge that was just about seven feet above the ground. But do you see the agony that he endured because he believed he was hanging over the cliff. Not only the agony he endured, you can see the results it had in his life. All kinds of consequences came about inside his being, and his emotions, and his mind, and his heart because he believed that he was somewhere where he wasn’t.
Now, that’s the situation with us. Many of us believe we have not been crucified with Christ. Many of believe that we have not been turned around. Many of us believe that we have not been placed into Jesus by God. And the moment it dawns upon you that you have been placed into Jesus that moment you realize, “But all of Jesus then is available to me. In fact, Jesus is inside me and all around about me and he himself is rising up inside me and he loves his Father with all his heart and is utterly satisfied with his Father and of course, so am I.” And as you realize that, the Spirit of Jesus lifts you up into a new realm of spiritual life.
Now, that’s how a person comes into spiritual life. A person believes the truth at last and submits to it; that their whole life has been turned around. That just as Jesus was immune to the blows and the insults of the Roman soldiers, so they are now in him and so they are immune because they are in him and he is around about them, and all that he is has become theirs. That’s how a man or woman becomes a spiritual man or woman, loved ones. It’s a miracle wrought by faith in what God has done to you in Jesus.
You’re lost of course, if you don’t believe that God has already done it. You’re lost. You’ll wear yourself out trying to think yourself into Jesus. The only hope is that you believe that word in 2 Corinthians 5:14 that, “If one has died for all; then all of us have died.” That includes you and me. Now, that’s the basis of becoming a spiritual man or spiritual woman and interesting enough, that’s the basis of spiritual work.
Now, maybe you’d look at that loved ones in 1 Corinthians 3:11. It’s the basis of all spiritual work, “For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Now, that’s the foundation you see, what God has done in Jesus. That’s the only foundation. Everybody who does spiritual work builds on that foundation and that’s why Paul says in Verse 10, “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it.”
And spiritual work is based on what God has done in Jesus. And spiritual work is very simply one thing; it’s trying to get everybody else in the world to believe that they’re not really hanging on a hundred foot cliff. That’s what spiritual work is. Spiritual work is getting everybody else in the world to realize that they have been turned around in Jesus, that they have been utterly changed in Jesus, that they’ve been crucified in him and resurrected new, able to live depending on God only. That’s what spiritual work is.
And a spiritual man or a spiritual woman has received spiritual life to do spiritual work, to awaken others to the miracle that they themselves have experienced. That’s why God has given you spiritual life. And a spiritual man and a spiritual woman has no concern about anything else but that. They have no concern about their own happiness because they have now died with Jesus. They have no concern about their own futures, about their own pleasures, they care only about one thing, “Oh, I want everybody to know what God has done in Jesus for them. I want everybody to know what Jesus has done for them. I want everybody to know what a change has been wrought in them. I want Brezhnev to know that he doesn’t need to be scared of what people say about him, he doesn’t need to be frightened of what people can do to him. He has been turned around; he is capable of receiving and depending only on God’s love.”
And there’s a great desire in a spiritual man or a spiritual woman for everybody to know that and they live only for that. Now loved ones, if you want to be the person that God has created you to be, that’s actually what you have to be willing for. So it’s important for you to see there’s no place for self in all spiritual work. I mean, there’s no place for wanting something for yourself. If you’re going to live the way God intended you to live, it’s the kind of life that Jesus lived. He’s going to come inside you and live exactly his life over again in you and he’s not going to be any more concerned about himself and his own marriage that he was 1900 years ago. So he’s not going to be concerned about how happy you are, or how pleased you are. He’s concerned and he believes you are concerned only about getting others to realize what he has done to change them and transform them.
And so spiritual work is an utter preoccupation with getting people to realize that God has changed them in Jesus. It’s little to do with big crowds, and all the fuss here, little to do with that. Little to do with Campus Church or Billy Graham campaigns. Spiritual work can be carried on inside those contexts but it itself doesn’t have much to do with all that falderal that we see when groups of us get together in Jesus. Spiritual work is a very personal quiet attitude in your heart believing Jesus for some other soul who doesn’t know it. That’s what spiritual work is.
You can see it if you look at Galatians 4:19, “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you!” That’s what spiritual work is. It’s travailing in prayer until Christ is fully formed in another person. And that’s the only kind of spiritual work that will last. I don’t know if you remember how 1 Corinthians 3 goes on but you remember Paul talks about let each man be careful how he builds on the foundation of Christ Jesus because some build with wood, hay and stubble and others build with precious stones that last.
And you get wood, hay and stubble built on the foundation of Jesus when spiritual men and spiritual women fail to travail that Christ be fully formed in others. Because that’s what it is loved ones, it’s travailing in prayer that the Holy Spirit will enlighten your friend, or my relative, or our colleague at work to see the particular facet of Jesus that he wants to work in them. Spiritual work is a fine personal intuitive combination of praying, exercising faith, and a little talking, and a lot of loving. That’s spiritual work.
And the Holy Spirit wants to work through you individually with the people that you know. Individually, it’s a very individual thing. Oh, it has little to do with tarring everybody with the same brush, you know. It has little to do with that and little to do with who says hallelujah and who says amen, and little to do with those who can talk well, or those who show a lot of joy, or those who seem to have a great time in Bible study. It has little to do with all those external
things. Spiritual work is the Holy Spirit giving you real discernment about what is the next step into Jesus that this friend of yours has to take and you then drawing together with the Holy Spirit in faith, and believing that, and when one little fly — one of us here on earth — believes the same thing as the Holy Spirit, at that moment God is able to make a break. That’s it. Do you know that?
You see, Jesus knows exactly what he wants to do with your friends, or your mum, or your dad, or your colleague, or your fellow students. He knows exactly what he wants to do but he cannot do it until one of you discerns that and align your will with his. You understand why? Because God will not steamroll over the top of our free will, you see. So God sees all kinds of things that need to be done here in this room tonight and he sees what one person needs over there and what another person needs over there but he’s not going to just apply the benefits of Calvary, overwhelming the human free will. He requires somebody here to believe for that particular thing in another person’s life.
And that’s why I think it was Wesley that said, “Nothing happens in a person’s life unless someone believes God for them, someone prays for them.” Now, that’s what’s supposed to happen, you know. The rain comes upon the just and the unjust and God pours many things upon all of us without prayer. But the benefit of redemption comes to us only as somebody believes God for us and so spiritual work takes place that way.
And so loved ones, when you talk about spiritual work you’re not talking about all the external things of meetings like this, or maybe the many books that are written. You’re talking about the individual ministry of the Holy Spirit through you to another person and it’s a very individual thing. Now, all of us here have certain functions in the body of Christ in connection with the begetting of people in Jesus. And you see, that’s what it is, it’s the begetting of people in Jesus, or it’s the begetting of Jesus in people because it’s both and. It’s not only you surrounded by the ocean but it’s the ocean right inside you as well. So it’s not only being surrounded by Jesus but it’s Jesus’ Spirit in you as well.
And spiritual work is the forming of Jesus in a person, it’s the begetting of a person in Jesus. That’s why you remember, Paul says in I Corinthians 4:15, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” So spiritual work is begetting a person in Christ through the Holy Spirit. It’s being a good midwife, it’s being a good midwife that is there to do just what is needed all the time realizing that you cannot create the birth. Only the Holy Spirit can actually regenerate the person. Only the Holy Spirit can actually enlighten them to see that they are in Christ.
Your place is to be a midwife, putting your hand there at the right time, praying at the right moment, saying the right thing at the right time, always directed by the Holy Spirit. And all of us have a special place in Jesus’ body in connection with that begetting. That’s right; there isn’t one of us here that, apart from our secular vocation, doesn’t also have a special vocation here in Jesus’ body. And maybe it’s good just to realize that loved ones, and you can see it if you look at 1 Corinthians 12:7. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” So to each of us you see, is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good and each of us have a special function.
And you can see it there in Verse 18, “But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose.” And so each one of us here have a special function in Jesus’ body in
connection with spiritual work. And that’s the important thing, of course, to find out. It’s important to put the tracts on the tract rack and those things have to be done, and it’s important to open up the doors and those things have to be done, and important to have microphones that work, and those things have to be done. It’s important to preach, and to sing, and those things are important but actually, those aren’t the heart of the work. The heart of the work is the invisible working, and revealing, and enlightening that the Spirit of Jesus is doing up and down each row at this moment. That’s the heart of the work.
All this other is just the framework. But the heart of spiritual work is the Spirit of Jesus, just as Jesus used to walk through the villages and speak and tell Zacchaeus what he was thinking, and tell the Syrophoenician woman what she was thinking. So the Spirit of Jesus is walking up and down the rows of this room and he’s speaking to different spirits but he’s only able to do it because certain other spirits are believing him to do it. And that is the heart of the spiritual work and all of you have certain functions in Jesus’ body in connection with that work.
So some of you are carpenters, some of us are electricians, some of us are administrators, some of us are business people, some of us are psychologists, some of us are teachers, but all of us here have functions in Jesus’ spiritual body apart from the obvious things we do. Some of us lay out the hymn books, some of us put the tracts in the racks, some of us arrange the seating but apart from those things we each have a function in Jesus body. That’s the vital function to discover, loved ones, and the only way you’ll ever discover it is by doing with all your heart what Jesus has given you at this moment.
So maybe you don’t get talking much in your body of Christ. Maybe you don’t have much opportunity or you don’t feel you can pray aloud but God is allowing you to be an usher, or he is allowing you to come and clean the church. Do that with all your heart. Do that as unto the Lord. Do that as your spiritual reasonable service to God. Do it with all your heart and gradually the Holy Spirit will begin to show you what particular spiritual function you have in the spiritual work God is intent on doing and he will bring it to you.
But don’t get caught up with “your ministry”. Some of us take the other route, and we say, “Oh, I wonder am I a prophet? I think I’m a prophet. Ah, I’m a prophet. No, that wasn’t such a good prophecy, I mustn’t be a prophet. I’m a seer, I’m a seer. No, I speak in tongues.” That’s dumb, that’s dumb. That is so filled with self, self consciousness, preoccupation with our value, our worth — that Satan will get into the middle of your heart and destroy you. Don’t get caught up with those things. Be preoccupied with Jesus, your Savior. Be preoccupied with resting in him, with enjoying his Father as he enjoys him, with praising and loving them both, and with doing all that comes to your hand — and the Holy Spirit will gradually reveal to you what your particular function is in spiritual work.
Now, maybe it’s just important to say that for spiritual work you need spiritual power. And that is why the Holy Spirit was given, loved ones. The Holy Spirit is not given to make you happy. And a lot of us get into real trouble seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit because we say, “I want the Holy Spirit so that I won’t have so much trouble with myself. I am sick and tired of my bad temper and I don’t want to have to put up with it any longer so I want to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Well, you will never be baptized with the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is given for only one purpose and you find that in Acts 1 if you’d like to look at it.
Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,” and you will have
much less trouble with your bad temper. No, “And you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” The Holy Spirit is given so you’ll be a witness, so you’ll actually be – a witness you remember, is a martyr. “Martureo” in Greek is “to witness” and it gives us our word “martyr”. So it’s a person who’s died with Jesus so that they could live only unto God and for others. And so the Holy Spirit is given so that you’ll witness to others and so that you’ll minister.
So loved ones, in order to have spiritual power there has to be absolute freedom from self. In other words there was no Pentecost until after Calvary. You know that, don’t you? Pentecost followed Calvary. The Holy Spirit was poured out after Jesus died, so it is in your life. Only after you’ve died with Jesus can there be a Pentecost. Now, you find that even back in the Old Testament. There’s a symbol that is used in the Old Testament for the Holy Spirit and it’s the anointing oil that they use to anoint the kings in Old Testament times.
And you’ll find in Exodus 30:32, one verse that clearly indicates that the Holy Spirit cannot come upon ordinary men or ordinary women. He cannot come upon men or women who are caught up with strife and jealousy and who behave like ordinary people. It cannot in other words come upon flesh. Exodus 30:32, “It,” the anointing oil which stands of course for the Holy Spirit, “It shall not be poured upon the bodies of ordinary men, and you shall make no other like it in composition; it is holy, and it shall be holy to you.” And so the Holy Spirit cannot come upon a person who has not died to living for themselves and determined to live only for God and for building up Jesus in others.
And if you say, “Can the Holy Spirit not come upon a person who has not been in Calvary?” Well, no probably the truth is in the next verse Exodus 30:33, “Whoever compounds any like it,” any other oil, “Or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.” No probably a person who has not come to a death to self with Jesus may be experiencing some other kind of spirit, some other counterfeit spirit — but not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes upon a person who is willing to be holy, willing to be set aside for God’s use and God’s use alone.
Now, could I just bring that home to you again? Because, I think so many of us are used to the idea, “Well, can I not live for my girl and do a little work for Jesus on the side? I mean, she is really nice and boy she means a lot to me. And I’ll tell you if she gave me up boy, I just don’t know what I’d do.” And then those of us who are married can say the same thing, “Well, I mean I want to live for Jesus and I want to be used to beget him in other people but boy, I really love my wife.” “I really love my husband and if they didn’t go with me in this I just couldn’t do it.” Well then you can’t do it actually.
There’s only room for one person on Calvary Road and that person has to be ready to go that way whether their partner goes with them or doesn’t go with them, whether their girl goes with them or their guy doesn’t go with them. Loved ones, it’s a deep thing this business of spiritual work and honestly you can experience all kinds of lighthearted successes in witnessing or apparent successes in witnessing. You can experience all kinds of apparent changes in your friends. You can see them starting to come to church, you can see them even starting to read the Bible, getting enthusiastic about Charles Colson’s [prison evangelist] film, all kinds of things. But, Jesus will only be formed fully in them if you have given yourself to that and that alone in your life.
And so it isn’t a casual thing and if you say, “Oh well, I mean I want to be successful financially. Now, as long as I can be successful financially or professionally, then I do also want to do this that you say because I realize that’s what I’m made for.” No loved ones, it can’t be both and. God
may add finance on to you, he may add a happy marriage on to you, he made add all those things but those have to be things that he adds out of his good grace. But you, yourself, will only experience real spiritual work if you come to a death to everything but Jesus only. And seeing the world realize that it has been crucified in him.
Only when you become overwhelmed with your love for this dear Savior who has taken every evil heart and allowed it to be destroyed inside himself, only when your heart is utterly caught up with that dear Savior’s heart so that you care only for him, only then will the Holy Spirit begin to be able to use you to do spiritual work. And brothers and sisters, you have to see that. Otherwise, you’re going to be caught up in this circus. You know there’s a circus going on, do you? There’s a religious circus going on in the nation. Some of it is okay but a lot of it is just circus life, it is. A lot of the stuff is so light, is so caught up with social pressures that it doesn’t deserve to be called by the name of spiritual work.
And that’s what you’re going to get caught up in unless you have died to everything but Jesus only and seeing him fully formed in people’s lives. And of course, only the Holy Spirit can lead you into that work. It’s very important that you come absolutely under his direction. Do you see it doesn’t matter whether you’re a pastor or not? Don’t you see that? It doesn’t matter whether you’re a missionary in the traditional sense of the word. It doesn’t matter whether you are full-time or part-time. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Fish Enterprises [a Christian business] or Campus Church, or Jesus People Church — it doesn’t matter what you are that way. The heart of the matter is, do you live only to see Jesus fully formed in your friends? Do you live for that? Do you travail in prayer so that that will take place? Then loved ones, you’re going to be a father and a mother in Jesus. Then on the final day you’re going to see many of your sons and daughters coming through the gates of heaven and they’ll look at you and say, “Father, thank you for begetting me in Christ. Mum, thank you for begetting me in Christ.”
But loved ones, if you don’t come into that kind of travailing spiritual work, you’ll just skid along the top surface of religious work and you won’t be used by God to form Jesus in anyone. So spiritual work is a deep thing. It comes from a person who is a truly spiritual man or woman, and it is intent on seeing Jesus fully formed in a person. And therefore of course, it’s a daily concern and a daily burden that you bear. So I’d ask you to pray about it and you know where you are. You know if you’re even willing to be a spiritual worker or not. And that’s what you have to settle first, are you willing to sell everything in order to become a spiritual worker?
And then, if you are, are you ready now to begin to be led and mastered by the Holy Spirit so that he will tell you when to initiate your work and when to stop it? And that’s important; a lot of us think spiritual work is something that we just do when we feel like it. No, you’re absolutely under the direction of the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit comes to Philip and he says, “Alright, you’ve done enough here in Samaria. Now, go to the desert road that leads to Gaza.” You’ll find throughout the Acts of the Apostles that they were utterly dominated, and ordered, and directed by the Holy Spirit. They weren’t people who went to see what they could do. They were people who were sent by the Holy Spirit to do definite things. They worked with a sure touch. They went exactly where he wanted them to go.
The Holy Spirit will guide you as to what you have to do and when you have to do it. It will vary; sometimes you’ll be one who plants, sometimes you’ll be one who waters, sometimes you’ll be one who just sits quietly. And it’s vital to know what the Holy Spirit wants you to do. Sometimes you won’t be able to minister anything because of the situation and at that time it’s important to know
that you can stand quietly in Jesus and believe in God. You can’t affect the situation in anyway, you just stand. But the Holy Spirit will teach you these things and only he can do it. Otherwise, if you don’t do it you’ll be trying – if you don’t listen to him you’ll be involved in spiritual work when you should be quiet, or you’ll be trying to do spiritual work and the Holy Spirit will not be giving you grace to do it.
So it’s important to be led by him both in the initiation of the work and in the cessation of the work. In order to be used by the Holy Spirit, you really have to be free from every other burden, that’s true. I don’t know what your thinking would be like if I came on to this stage all concerned about the state our business (Fish Enterprises) was in or was not in. You know it would be hopeless, it would just be hopeless. I mean, I would be all taken up inside with the problems, there would be no flow of Jesus’ spirit at all. But, it’s the same with you, when you go out in the morning you have to have left all of your problems and all your own concerns firmly in Jesus’ hands and you have to go out with a light and a happy heart. That’s right.
You have to go out free from your own concerns. And that applies to all of us, you know, and if you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, “Brother if you knew my financial difficulties you would know.” Loved ones, we’re all in the same boat. We all have things that are crushing and are incredibly heavy, and we have to leave them in Jesus’ hands and say, “Lord, I’ve given myself to your work and I believe that you will add all other things on to me if I seek first your kingdom.” So to be used in spiritual work your heart has to be free.
It’s a bit like a surgeon, I don’t know if you saw those Lifeline programs but you know those dear fellows, when they get into the middle of somebody’s brain they can’t be all caught up with what the wife is doing at home, or what the children are doing, or thinking whether he’s turned the light off in his study, he’s utterly intent on what is going on in that operation. So it is with us you see, we’re involved with something far more serious than physical saving of life, we’re involved in spiritual transmission of the life of Jesus the son of God to people and of working so that he’s fully formed in them. It’s vital that then you’re free from all other concerns.
So one of the marks of a spiritual worker is that they are happy people, really are joyful people. And they’re people at peace and they’re people free because they have no problems? No, no, because they left them firmly in God’s hands and are willing for God to work them out whatever way he wishes. So loved ones, spiritual work is a delight but it is a deep work of God’s Spirit and it is something that you need to be taught by the Holy Spirit and before he can teach you he requires that you want that above everything else. And I think in a group of our age – maybe that’s the thing to go back to, because many of us further on in life realize very quickly that there aren’t many things worth living for. But, at the beginning of life, it’s sometimes tricky to decide when the Yamaha and the Honda is there and all the other things.
But loved ones, you do have to settle that. You have to settle, “Lord Jesus you gave everything up at 33 for me, am I willing to take part in that giving up?” Am I willing in other words, to stay in you? Because, that’s all it means. You are already in him. To refuse to give up everything you have to step out of him. So I’d say the only question is, are you willing to stay in Jesus and give everything up but that one task of seeing him fully formed in others? I feel we have a great responsibility here in this room. I think we have.
Because, we have here the guts of a mighty spiritual revival if each one of you would become a spiritual worker. If you’d become a spiritual worker, then we would see loved ones fully formed in
Jesus. But you know that what’s killing us. What’s killing us in this religious circus that’s going on, what’s killing us is people that take the name of Jesus upon their lips but don’t have his spirit at all in their hearts. You know, it’s destroying us. You know all the talk, talk, talk, but the Bible says, “The kingdom is not a matter of talk but of power.” And you and I know that there are too many people who talk like Christians but aren’t Christians because nobody has ever travailed in prayer for them.
And loved ones, if we all here would begin to travail in prayer that Jesus would be fully formed in people in this body here, those of you who belong to it, this would be transformed completely and utterly. And numbers have nothing to do with it, numbers would grow but that isn’t important, it would become like Jesus. And those of you from other bodies, those would become like Jesus and the world would beat a path to our doors because of the beauty of Christ in us. That’s what spiritual work is about. So I pray that you’ll begin to undertake it.
Let us pray. Holy Spirit, we are overwhelmed when we see how closely we must work with the mighty miracle that our Creator has wrought in our dear Savior Jesus. We are overwhelmed Holy Spirit that we should be allowed to work in the precious body of Jesus. And just as those surgeons touched with their instruments sacred parts of a person’s brain, so we here are given the inestimable privilege of touching with our hands and our spirits the very inward parts of Jesus.
Oh, Holy Spirit, we cannot believe that we are allowed to do this and we apologize for the crude ways in which we have tried to rearrange his blessed body. And oh we see that we are working with holy and sacred miracles that have already taken place. And Holy Spirit we need your guidance and your light and we would give ourselves to you. Blessed Spirit, we hardly know how to look at the loved ones that we’ve been praying for so temporarily and so transitly. Holy Spirit we ask you now to give us light to see what Jesus wants to do with them — whether it’s our mother, or our dad, or our brothers, or sisters, or our roommates.
Oh Holy Spirit, forgive us for the crude proud ways in which we’ve decided what they need and the ways we’ve preached at them. Holy Spirit, will you reveal to us what Jesus wants to reveal to them so that we can pray for that and begin to love them and want them to see what God has done to them in Jesus. Want them to realize that Jesus is in them and able to rise up inside them and rejoice in them, and love in them. Holy Spirit, we want that for them above everything else.
We ask you to increase that desire in us so that we can begin to be used to travail in prayer until Christ is fully formed in them. We ask this Holy Spirit, so that we may not shame our Lord Jesus by building on him with wood, hay, or stubble — things that will be burned up in the time of little persecution; so that we may build with precious stones. We ask this in his name. And the grace of our Lord Jesus and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and throughout this coming week. Amen.