Monday, February 13, 2012

Preparing Your Heart

from a sermon on Wednesday, October 4, 1989

“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Now, forget about verse one for a minute, and just look at verse two. “Yet, they seek me, daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice, they take delight in approaching to God” (Is. 58:1-2).

Now that sounds like us. Or does it? It sounds like me. I’ll volunteer. I seek God daily. I delight to know His ways. I ask of Him the ordinances of justice. I delight in approaching to God. But God wasn’t found by these people - because they didn’t prepare their heart to seek God. They sought God with an unprepared heart, and their prayers were not answered. In other words, they approached God without having the life to back it up. And God didn’t answer.

God still is like that. That’s why a whole lot of people don’t receive the holy Ghost; they seek God in mouth only. They don’t prepare their hearts to ask. Listen, if you come to God with a prepared heart to receive the holy Ghost, you’ll receive it right then, that minute! Glory to God! With a prepared heart, He will not tell you no. That’s why He doesn’t answer the people who are asking for the holy Ghost just with their mouth. But when a person finishes repenting, God gives his Spirit.

Look at this, starting at verse 6. “Is this not the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thy own flesh? Then [when you have prepared to come and ask me a thing] shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall spring forth speedily.”

Now is God a liar, or is He telling the truth? He’s telling you that your health will come forth speedily when you prepare your heart to seek your God. “And thy righteousness shall go before thee [and put fear on your adversaries]; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.” Listen: “Thou shalt call, and the Lord shall answer. Thou shalt cry out, and He shall say, ‘Here I am.’” Glory to God, hallelujah! Glory to God! Isaiah said in one place, “While they’re still asking, I’ll show up.” Hallelujah!

I’m not talking about just seeking God. The whole world is seeking God. I’m talking about preparing to seek Him. Jesus went down to the river of Jordan, and John didn’t have to baptize him but once and the holy Ghost came. You hear what I’m saying? Jesus prepared himself to go down to that river. He prepared himself to seek God. And when he opened his mouth and sought God, God came and said, “This is my beloved Son!” And He’ll come today, and He’ll still speak through you, and the essence of it is “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” He is well pleased with you before you get the holy Ghost, or you don’t get it. He’ll show up in a hurry when you prepare to seek God. Seeking God is not going to bring you your answer; seeking God is not going to do it. You answer will come when you have prepared your heart to seek God. You’ve got to get clean enough to get your answer from God. You must be clean enough in God’s sight. "The prayer of the wicked is an abomination to God." Every prayer that you’ve had answered from God was answered because you prepared to pray it. You prepared your heart. Did you know that you’re supposed to search your own heart before you approach to God? Listen to what David said: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear it” (Ps. 66:18). The man that Jesus healed from blindness said, "We know that God heareth not sinners, but if any man be a worshiper of Him, him He heareth.”

Look at this, in the middle of verse 9: “If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light arise in obscurity, and thy darkness shall be as the noon day. And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones and you shall be like a watered garden”. You’re going to be like a watered garden, bearing fruit in its season. “And like a spring of water, [you will be], whose water’s fail not.” That’s what Jesus was talking about when he declared, "the scriptures said, Out of your belly will flow rivers of living water, springing up into everlasting life.”

There’s no need to ask God anything with an unprepared heart. But with a prepared heart, you hardly even need to finish your sentence, and He’ll be there!

Friday, February 3, 2012

No Good Thing

Excerpt from a sermon on Sunday, January 15, 2012

Even with the holy Ghost you don’t know how to love people. Everybody loves something; everybody can love with a human love. But how do you love people where you actually benefit them, eternally? You love them by saying, “You need the holy Ghost.” It’s not loving that counts anything in heaven. It’s loving God’s way. He knows how to love. Now HE knows how to love. And if we’re not loving the way God loves, we’re loving in vain. If we’re not living the way God wants us to live, we’re living in vain. We’re talking in vain. God’s way is the way. That’s the value of the truth; it shows you God’s way of loving, God’s way of talking, God’s way of being a friend. God’s way of being a husband or a wife, or a son or a daughter, father, mother. God’s way of being a child of God. God’s way of functioning in the body of Christ. That’s the only - capital O, capital N, capital L, capital Y - that’s the ONLY thing that does any good.

In you, Paul said, “In me, that is in me by nature, my flesh, there dwells only 5% good things.” (Congregation says, “No!!!’) What version have you been reading? One of my professors said that World War II was started because of love. The Germans started loving Hitler. Was it God’s way of loving? The worst evils that have ever been were because of the wrong kind of love – loving the wrong thing, or loving the right thing the wrong way. That’s why we need a Savior. We need somebody to love us God’s way. To teach us to pass it on God’s way. Everything else is vain. Everything!

God help us get that in our hearts. You don’t have anything to bring to the table but you. What do I think? How am I supposed to think, God help me! Save me from my own thoughts, from the pressures of this planet to think certain ways and certain things. Let me see it. God, I don’t know what to see, I don’t know what to think, I don’t know what to feel. Proverbs says, “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to God.” It also says, “Commit your ways to God and your thoughts will be established.” God hates your thoughts. Your thoughts are not His thoughts. You ways are not His ways. Oh God, let us take that in.

That is so important for us to believe. It’s so important for us to believe that in our nature is nothing good in the sight of God. Oh, I know people can be nice; you can train a dog to be nice. Being nice is not being holy. In being holy, you’ll be nice to people, you’ll be kind, you’ll be generous, but you don’t know how to be generous. You don’t know how to be kind. Jesus said, “Get thee behind me Satan”; that was Jesus loving Peter God’s way. There’s not a Pharisee in the world that would have said that to Peter; they would have been afraid to lose a member of their congregation. Jesus didn’t even have a congregation, he had God. And God added to him and he took away. And he just stood there. He looked around and said, “The rest of you want to leave? You’re not mine; you’re my Father’s”. When he was asking them to leave, he was really asking his Father, “Do you want them to leave too? Let me see what you’ve got in their hearts.” Peter said, “We’re not going anywhere. You’re the guy with the words of eternal life. Where are we gonna go?

If he’d have thought there was one other place to go, he would have left Jesus. And the rest of the disciples, if they thought there was one other place, they would have gone to it. Except maybe John; he just liked Jesus. But in the end, they all forsook him and fled. There was nothing good in them. They didn’t even know there was nothing good in them; that’s why they got into trouble. That’s why Peter put himself in a position where he cursed and swore he never knew Jesus. He thought that there was still something good in him, that he was going to be loyal to the end. He was going to prove Jesus wrong in saying you’re going to curse and swear you don’t know me. He didn’t believe there was nothing good in him. He thought he could go all the way with Jesus.

Listen, Jesus is so different there is nobody who can go all the way with him without the holy Ghost. Nobody. Some might hold on to the garden, but you’re not going all the way with Jesus without the holy ghost. Not to the places where he goes. Not with the things he teaches. You can’t do it, you cannot do it; it’s not in the nature of man to go all the way with Jesus. Not in the places he goes; they’re too hard on the old man. Too hard on the nature of man, it can’t believe it’d be right to do that. It can’t believe it wouldn’t be right for Jesus to try to explain itself. When he was on trial for his own life – Why don’t you explain yourself?! He just stood silent. Pilate marveled. What is wrong with you, don’t you know I have power to execute you? Jesus said, “Yawwwnnnnnnn….” Mmmm, he knows when to yawn. It scared him; he frightened that mighty Pilate with his answer. Frightened him. He said, “You will have no power over me whatsoever if it weren’t given to you from my Father in heaven.” From that moment, Pilate tried to find a way to turn him loose. It says so. The Bible said that, actually said that, from then he began to try to find a way to set him free. But it was his time, and Pilate couldn’t set him free even if he wanted to. You think you’re in control? Pilate couldn’t even set him free when he wanted to.

Oh God, thank you for the mercy on our lives. Thank you for the mercy on our lives, oh God, that we’re here; that we even have an interest in the things of God. That when He’s spoken to us we believed it, we testified to it. What a great thing! I’m speechless. Just so wonderful; so wonderful.

Most of what you go through in this life is bad. That’s life in this world. But He’s given us an oasis, and when we come in here we want to hear about Jesus. We want to build each other up because we’ve got to go back out there where it’s mostly bad stuff. About half of the people we love in the Lord, and all of the rest, at least half of them, according to Jesus himself, end up in the Lake of Fire. You can’t change that. I can’t change it. But we can humble ourselves not to be a stumbling block for anybody. So that we can help those we do know.