The life story of David Brainerd is an exciting thing to read. I read that he had met his Lord when he was 18 years old and died at the age of 28. The ripe old age of 28! I read that he used to kneel in the snow when it was up to his chin, and, prayed! He said, “I’d pray from sunrise to sunset. I couldn’t touch the snow with the tips of my fingers. The heat of my body melted the snow.” He had tuberculosis and when he sneezed, he sprayed the snow with his blood. Is that too extreme for you? Maybe, but some believers are called to such extremes (and many times it is self-imposed). But growing up, there was a restaurant that made the best fried chicken and the company was called, “Chicken Coop.” I remember on every container you could read: “You have only one life. T’will will soon be passed. Only what is done for God will last.”
So let me ask you, when you are on your deathbed, how glad will you be if the “lamp of your life” has been burned out for Him. We need to die to self-seeking. Die to public opinion. Die to ambition. God does not use men that are alive—he uses men that are dead. He does not use sober men—he uses drunken men. He will not use a “somebody”—he only uses a nobody.
I was thinking about the trials of Job. God taught him and he knew that the time of testing must come. When it finally came, he found himself shrinking back from it and being afraid of it. He confessed that despite outward peace of his life, he was troubled. He knew that the furnace was inevitable, and now all the things of life were being consumed, and he was falling away.
The testing will come if the life anyone who wishes to pursue the Master! What form it takes for you I have no any idea. It might be physical, maybe emotional. It could be a lying down of your own plans for school, marriage or even ministry, or wealth. For Abraham it was sacrificing his only son and only heir. In fact, it was sacrificing the very thing that the Lord had given him!
Everybody looks at the story of Isaac and thinks that it wasn’t so hard for Abraham to offer Isaac. After all, the Lord “stayed Abraham’s hand” and he didn’t really have to sacrifice his son. However, Abraham did not know that! He fully intended to kill his son! That’s why the angel had to step in and hold his hand back from killing his son. The Lord may actually call you to make a sacrifice and there is no guarantee that when the Lord demands you sacrifice something very important, even something He has clearly given you, that he will “stay your hand.” You may never be able to have those plans again. What difference does that make? It shouldn’t matter anyway! If you laid that sacrifice on the altar, it is no longer yours! You no longer have any claim to it.
I do not know what words to use to drive the reality of this home. Your Father will accept nothing less than absolute surrender to His will. A.W. Tozer once said that there are three characteristics of a dead man. First, he is facing in one direction. Second, he does not look back. Third, he is not making any plans of his own.
Have you died? Well, it’s simple to figure out . . . are you facing in one direction? Are you still looking back? Are you still making plans of your own?
I have met some that were waiting for a call to ministry when the Lord wanted them first to finish college. Some are waiting for a mate, when maybe the Lord has other plans for them and is waiting for them to stop wanting. There are some who are complaining about their profession—instead of being quiet and letting the Lord lead it . . .
The point I am trying to make is that we must simply lay ourselves—our lives; our plans; our desires; our dreams; our ambitions—everything!—on the altar and let the Lord do as he desires.
In my opinion, one of the biggest problems in many churches is too many people want to be somebody and not enough people who couldn’t care less if they are even noticed. Their only desire should be to be true to the Lord and fulfill His will and not their own.
My only desire, if I fall asleep before the Lord’s return, is that they can write on my tombstone, Acts 13:36: that Nickolas “served the purposes of God in his generation, then fell asleep.” I simply want to fulfill the Lord’s plan for my own life, nothing more, nothing less. If that means no one ever reads a word of my teachings or knows who I am—then glory to God, I am content with simply honoring him.
Everybody wants to preach and teach but nobody wants to sit and serve. That’s what Paul was trying to get people to understand when he was saying that the eye is no more important than the ear—they simply serve a different purpose.
The hand is no more valuable than the foot. Both serve a very important function, but people are able to survive without either. Where is true humility, that which says: “The Lord is the vine and I am the branch. Without Him, I can do nothing! If He sees fit to use me, I will obey with great joy and enthusiasm. If not, I’ll obey with great joy and enthusiasm.”
I don’t know who said it, but someone very wisely stated, “There is no hierarchy in the gifts of God. The ministry of the church does not rest on status but on service. No gift that serves others is little. God uses both stars and candles to light his world.”
The issue to God is not who are the stars and who are the candles. What he is concerned with is His light coming forth. Sometimes we are hung up on the stars and we forget that a star only shines at night—one designated time—but a candle can shine at any time and anywhere.
The times of testing will come. Do not shrink back from it. Do not be afraid of them. The result will be a purity of heart and inner strength to endure all things. In fact, as I already reminded you above, you should consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds . . . so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. When you stand the test, you will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
Paul admonishes us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” We are to “endure the hardships as discipline because it is for our good that we may share in His Holiness.” He admitted that “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.” “Later, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those that have been trained by it.” However, if you refuse that training it will cause resentment and misery.
Paul said, “In all these things . . .” Where is your point of defeat? —Is it prayerlessness? —Is it lack of love? —Is it self-pity? —is it Self-seeking? —or Self-glory? —Self-promoting? What is it? —You may be the one key holding up revival. I have no idea. I want to tell you, though, Your Father can put an end to all these things and you can leave the spot where you are right now, free, if you obey Him. You can be more than conquerors by the indwelling of His Spirit—the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. However, you will have to confess it. I cannot confess it for you. If I could repent for you, I would be down there right now repenting for you. I cannot do it. You have to do it. God cannot do it for you. You have to do it.
Your repentance, your humility, your sincere seeking God for that cancer within your soul, whatever it is, will bring the compassion and love of God, the cleansing in the Blood, and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome