The Greatest Message I’ve Ever Heard
February 14, 2009
When I first started in full time ministry, it was in the summer of 1991. Since that time, I have watched the Lord take care of me supernaturally, although it has not been always easy or without great challenges along the way. In January of 1992, I went to Israel for the first time. It was truly life changing. I met a man who hosted this trip. His name was Rev. Loran Helm. He was an old man in his late 70’s, I believe, at the time. One night he sat in a chair on the platform and gave a message. I want to share this message with you, for it was the greatest sermon I ever heard. Now, this isn’t word for word what he shared, but rather what branded itself into my heart. I was never the same after that night.
“Do you want to become great in the Kingdom of God? The only way to do that is to become totally obedient to every prompting of the Holy Spirit. Why are there so few that really obey God? If you don’t learn how to obey God, you can never really be pleasing to Him. We obey from our hearts – it is in the interior life that we always choose from moment to moment whether we are going to obey or not to obey. God will never make you obey Him. To become great in God’s Kingdom we must become totally obedient to Him.
Write these two sentences down and place them where you can see them every day. Put them on your mirror in your bathroom, or somewhere else where you can be continually reminded of them. These two sentences contain the very heart of the New Testament. But they are very hard to hold on to. Like a slippery greased pig at a county fair, these will slip out of your inner life very quickly if you do not make a very determined daily commitment to them. Here is the first one:
“Deny yourself; forsake all; take up your cross every day and follow Jesus.”
What does it mean to “deny yourself”? The world and most popular Christian preachers don’t preach this: but that is what Jesus preached. Jesus never promised you that you would gain fortune, fame, power, or pleasure in this life if you became His disciple. He did promise “the abundant life”. This “abundant life”, however, is a life that comes as a result of denial of self. We don’t need to “find ourselves” or “be a better me” or “fufill ourselves” or “be happy, rich, famous, or gratify the lusts of the flesh” in order to live this abundant life. A life lived to please self is a dead end: it is the very opposite of that which Jesus calls us to. He called us to die to self, not to cultivate self. To deny yourself means to abandon everything that self wants, and instead live for others. It means to give up and not to gain. It means to leave all that is dear to self and become a love slave to God. It isn’t finding your life. It is losing your own life so that Jesus can live His life through you. Jesus wants to walk in your feet; touch through your hands; think through your mind; speak through your mouth; look through your eyes; and love through you with the very love of the Father for sinners. If you want to live this…you have to die in the interior life from moment to moment.
What does it mean to “forsake all”? It means that when you give your heart and life to Jesus, you are no longer your own. You now choose to become a slave, even though God has made you His son or daughter. You commit to following Jesus and forsaking all others that would vie for your thoughts, your time, your money, your position, and your every motivation. All that matters is what Jesus your Master wants you to do each day. It is turning over the TOTAL responsibility of your life to Him. In short, it means that you are NO LONGER IN CHARGE OR IN CONTROL anymore: He is. All means all. Everything that once mattered to you must now be replaced with what He wants for you.
What does it mean to “take up your cross ever day and follow Jesus”? Jesus was our example. He took up His cross and died in our place. Now, we don’t have the same cross as He did in the sense that we are not qualified to bear the sin and the curse of fallen man like He did. He led a sinless life and is the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the whole world. But each of us has our cross. A cross is a violent instrument of death and torture invented by Satan through ancient Rome to kill and inflict as much pain as possible. We have also been given a cross that we can choose to pick up each day, or not to. To die daily on that inner cross is extremely painful, also. That is the life of self-denial and love. It is turning the other cheek and forgiving when others abuse or betray us. It is putting our fleshly lusts and pleasures to death every day, even though it seems that only a few are doing it. It is choosing to abandon everything that we could do to promote ourselves, or that would make us better in any way, if it would hurt anyone else. It is choosing to die daily so that we can obey God. It means we willing make ourselves a slave to both God and all others in our world, so that God’s love can be seen and demonstrated through our lives.
The second sentence is:
“Become like a little child, and instantly obey every leading of the Holy Spirit”.
What does it mean to “become like a little child”? It is interesting that we never stop being God’s “little children”, no matter how old we are or how mature we become spiritually. The truth is, that is what we all are like on the inside. We must stop pretending and take our religious masks off. What is a little child like? I believe that a little child has primarily three characteristics: (I want to acknowledge Dave Roberson for this revelation from his teaching series: True Exaltation)
1.A little child is 100% teachable.
2.A little child is 100% trusting.
3.A little child is 100% forgiving.
Now, it is also interesting that Jesus said that to become great in His Kingdom, we had to be like little children. So, greatness has nothing to do with our own attempts at attaining it. It must be daily lived out as Jesus fully takes over our total lives.
How is a little child 100% teachable? If I took my daughter outside to look at the moon when she was about 3-4 years old, and I told her, “Rebekah, did you know that the moon was made out of Gorganzola cheese?” She would have probably said, “Really, Daddy? Does it taste good when you eat it?” She believed everything I said. Why? Because little children are 100% teachable. She knew somehow that if Daddy told her something, it must be right, because after all, he’s DADDY!
How is a little child 100% trusting? If I took Rebekah to the swimming pool when she was 3-4 years old and I jumped in the water, and then turned around with my hands stretched out and said to her, “Come on, Bekah, jump in the water. I’ll catch you!” She may be afraid of the water, but if her Daddy said, “Jump in and I’ll catch you!” She would just close her eyes and LEAP by faith into the pool. She just totally trusts her Daddy to catch her.
How is a little child 100% forgiving? Let’s say that my son Josiah was about 6-7 years old. Maybe he had a friend down the street from us that he played with every day during the summer. They were best friends. They did everything that little boys like to do together. Let’s say his name was Johnny. Well, one day they were playing in the sandbox, and Johnny wants the shovel and pail and Josiah won’t let him have it. So they get into a little fight. Johnny hit Josiah in the nose and it starts to bleed. Then Josiah runs into the house crying with his nose all bloody and screams, “Mommy, Mommy, Johnny hit me in the nose!” As Mommy cleans Josiah’s nose, she says under her breath, “That Johnny. How dare he hit my son!! What’s wrong with his parents? Don’t they teach him anything?” She was so angry about it that she calls Daddy and they both are angry with Johnny’s parents for the next six months and refuse to speak to them. But, later that afternoon, Mommy looks out and there is Josiah and Johnny playing again in the sand box again. They are laughing and building a sand castle together. In less than two hours, they have totally forgotten what happened. You see, little children are very quick to forgive: they are 100% forgiving.
When we “grow up” and become adults, very often this has led to our pretending to be different than we really are on the inside. We hide behind different masks so that we can pretend to be what others expect and want us to be. We have to take all of the masks off and be totally vulnerable and genuine if we want to become great in God’s Kingdom.
What does it mean to “instantly obey every leading of the Holy Spirit”? I have run into hundreds of Christians that have asked me, “How can I hear the voice of the Lord speaking to me?” or I have heard some ask, “How do you hear God speaking to you?” or some simply are too scared to even believe that God speaks personally to us at all, and just live in a mental religious realm where they feel safe. Well, by God’s grace, I have been able to help so many to hear God’s “still, small voice” speaking to them. Following intuitively the inner leadings of the Holy Spirit is only possible AFTER you have done what is written above. Why should the Lord speak to you if you either can’t hear Him or would refuse to obey if you did hear Him? So, I think that many believers have a very shallow relationship with the Lord primarily for those reasons.
Actually, God is constantly speaking to us. We just haven’t been tuned in to the right frequency. One of the most amazing things for me has been to discover how much God actually will talk to us. He longs for a close relationship with all of His children. He is speaking…we just haven’t been listening.
Remember, God ALWAYS wants to love others through you. So, the majority of the time, He asks you to do something to express His love to those around you. So, sister Susie might be in her kitchen baking and extra apple pie to freeze and eat another time. She is getting ready to pull both apple pies out of the oven. They look so good and fill her house with that wonderful “apple pie” smell. Then, as she is opening the oven to pull them out, she suddenly hears inside of her, “Why don’t you give the extra pie to sister Gertrude? You know what a difficult time she’s been having with her son being so ill. It would cheer her up if you would take it over to her this afternoon.”
“But Lord, that’s my special pie that I always bake for freezing.” “That’s OK. I’ll give you lots more pies if you’ll just remember sister GERTRUDE.” Then comes the CHOICE. Will she obey or not? THAT is the question.
Now, listen to what I heard Rev. Helm say:
“Every time that we obey a leading of the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God advances and souls are won for God for all of eternity. Every time we miss a leading of the Holy Spirit and fail to obey, the Kingdom of God retreats, and souls are lost to God and they burn in hell forever.”
Now, that’s heavy, I know, but it is the absolute truth. We must hear and obey, so that God can fully live and demonstrate his love through us into this dying world. It is the only hope the lost have. Let Jesus shine His light through you.
Now, I have learned that once you start stepping out by faith to obey these inner leadings, there are two things that will happen. One is, sometimes you may feel foolish or embarrassed, especially at first. It’s kind of scary to dare to obey if it is public or controversial in any way. That is why it is so important to obey INSTANTLY. Don’t think about it: just DO IT as soon as possible. Make it your #1 priority to follow through with whatever it is.
What happens if it isn’t God? After living this way for nearly 20 years, there have been some times where I have missed it, or I wasn’t sure it was God or just me, etc. I have learned by experience, however, that the moment by moment leadings are overwhelmingly from God. It is kind of like archery. Sometimes you may miss the target, but you get better and better the more you practice. If I miss it, I just say, “Please forgive me if this wasn’t right, but I just wanted to bless you.” You’ll be surprised that God even uses your mistakes if your heart is right in even greater ways than you can imagine. The more you step out in obedience, the stronger and the clearer God’s inner voice becomes. Of course, the more time you spend with the Lord in the Word and in prayer, the easier it is to discern and obey in you life.
Beloved, it is all about other people. Determine to make this kind of obedience your #1 priority. You too can become truly great in God’s Kingdom if you will.
Rev. Helm would often say this: “Walking with Jesus is romance, thrills, and adventure. You never know what is going to happen, but it will always be good!”
Dare to step out of the boat and live this wonderful Jesus life!
Love in Our Messiah,