“Elijah was a man…and he prayed…”
Young person, this is the most important chapter of this book. I tremble and seek to shy away from writing on such an important subject, yet you need to hear it. In your walk with God, you must be, before you can do. If you are converted, you have all it takes to be available in Christ; so this is not an excuse not to do.
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
I’d rather one would walk with me, than merely show the way
The eye’s a better pupil, and more willing than the ear.
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear.
The best of all the preachers are the men that live their creeds;
For to see good put in action, is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it, if you’ll let me see it done.
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
The lectures you deliver may be very wise and true;
But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do.
I may not understand the high advice that you may give,
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
Do you know my fellow Christian all the time and every place,
Men are looking for the image of the Master in your face?
And the image you’re reflecting is distorted or is fair,
Just according to the measure of the time you spend in prayer.
The poets are right. Prayer is the key to the Christian life. Before you can preach powerfully, you need to pray powerfully. Samuel Chadwick remarks that “Prayer is the acid test of devotion.” Another has said that “Apostasy begins in the closet”, and indeed it does. R.A. Torrey gives us what he believes are the three causes of failure among preachers: 1) A message other than the message that the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Word is taught; 2) The Spirit’s message, the Bible, is studied without the Spirit’s illumination; and 3) The Bible is taught to others with “enticing words of man’s wisdom”, and not “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” How are these pitfalls to be avoided except through prayer?
You must pray powerfully before you can preach powerfully! You cannot bless others until you’ve been blessed of God. You will not win others until God has won you. America is too young to die, but preaching alone will not save her — we must pray!
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Notice the requirements for true prayer: Salvation, humility, hunger for God, and repentance. I have found in my own life, that prayer either makes me, or the lack of it breaks me. I am nothing, and my nothingness blossoms before the whole world when I have neglected to spend the proper time in prayer.
The key phrase concerning prayer is “patient continuance”. When I surrendered my life to Christ, I wanted to be a powerful man of prayer. I read books on prayer. I read prayers in the Bible, and spent much time to learn to pray. I am still doing those very same things, and still I am just beginning to learn what true prayer can really do. I am definitely not an authority on prayer, but I trust that the Holy Spirit will give you something in this chapter that will cause you to make prayer the business of your life. If prayer is the business of your life, your life has been well spent.
Is prayer a necessity? O, reader, if you only knew the longing in my soul to justly answer that question. I could simply say, yes; but that would never give the proper impact. Yes, Yess! It is necessary! In the life of a Christian, prayer is just as necessary as God was in the creation of the universe. Look at the life of Jesus — God in the flesh — and see how necessary it was in His life:
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Jesus knew that He could not make it without prayer, why do we seem to think different? Would Peter have overcome had Jesus not prayed for him when Satan desired to have him and sift him as wheat? In Luke 5:15 we see Jesus becoming more famous, and the people just flocking to where He is. It says that great multitudes came to Him, but notice in verse 16 what He does: “And He withdrew Himself into the wilderness, and prayed.” How beautiful! How precious! What an example for us when we seem crowded and pressed by the world! A brother once told me after I emerged from my prayer closet, “I like it when you pray, it brings you back to your old self again.” When the pressures of life steal my flame, the power of prayer gives me fresh oil. Jesus needed it, I need it, and you need it!
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26,27
Do you really want to be a man or lady who will be known by heaven, earth, and hell as a person who is powerful in prayer? The Holy Spirit is the only qualified teacher available; and He even wrote the textbook, the Bible. Right now He is living inside you, if you’re converted, just waiting to give the first lesson. Almost every time I pray, I first ask the Holy Spirit to please teach me and pray through me. I do not know what to pray for as I ought; but, when I claim Romans 8:26,27, I can rest assured that the Holy Spirit is taking care of my infirmities.
In prayer, I believe that quality is more important than quantity; yet I also believe that you will never have quality, unless you have quantity. Jesus preached against vain repetition, and depending on “much speaking” to make you successful in reaching God; yet Jesus spent many nights in prayer. The problem was with people getting on their knees and blurting out some religious clichés, but never really thinking about what they were saying.
“Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to the Word of God, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God”. John Bunyan’s definition of prayer.
God has created us all with unique personalities; therefore, each of us will have a different relationship with the Father. We will also pray and approach God in unique ways. I even pray different as the battle changes — let me illustrate. Sometimes when I go to prayer, I try to picture myself in the throne room of heaven like a knight coming before his king. I am God’s knight: I wear His armor, I fight His battles, and He is my King. Could you imagine a knight coming before the king, and jabbering out some herd of syllables, but never thinking about what he was saying - Just repeating memorized phrases? If you really believe that God is listening to you, it will cause you to carefully choose your words and thoughts.
Yes, there are times when approach the Lord as a faithful knight would approach his king. At other times, though, when I get a fresh view of my own sinfulness, I worship and praise Him as my merciful Savior. Additionally, when I feel all alone in the confusion of battle, I seek Him out as my friend — the Mighty Counselor who understands, yet pushes me onward. All of these are precious times; but the most personal in my own life is when this warrior realizes he is only a child — overwhelmed by life’s challenges. When I feel I’m crushed and broken and can’t go forward; I call out to my Abba, Father as a child to it’s Papa, and feel for His loving arms and soft assurances.
Ps 61:2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
What does it mean to ask in Jesus’ name? Does it mean that you just tag “In Jesus name” on the end of your prayer? No. In fact, I believe that it actually determines what you pray, not just how you pray. When an artist signs his name at the end of a painting, it is because he painted it. When that picture is photographed, the artist’s signature is still there, but the artist didn’t paint the photograph. Our prayers should be like photographs of Jesus’ prayers; therefore we can legally sign His name to them. We should not want to pray for anything that Jesus would not pray for himself, if He were in our circumstances. If we pray, being led by the Holy Spirit, and we pray as Jesus would pray; then we can rightfully sign His name to our prayer as we send it to heaven. His name is our authority and assurance. His name is what gets our prayers through the gates of heaven. God promised to answer every prayer that reached heaven in this manner. Another aspect of praying in Jesus’ name, other than the content, is the motive. Are you operating on the same motives that Jesus’ did? If you are committed to God’s reputation and truth, then you have found the key to effective prayer.
The two gifts God gave us for successful prayer are the Holy Spirit and the Bible. When you and the Holy Spirit take God’s Word before the throne of heaven, and confront God with His own promises, He is overjoyed. That is why He put so many great promises in the Bible. God loves for His children to come boldly to the throne of grace and claim the promises of Scripture.
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
When Jacob wrestled with God, he was praised and blessed for his boldness. When God was on earth, He preached much on prayer with such encouragement as: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened.” Would God say it just to tease us, like a hotdog in front of our nose? I don’t believe so. Proverbs 15:8 tells us that the prayer of the upright is God’s delight. How marvelous! Glory to God! What a privilege! I’m not the biggest nuisance heaven ever saw! God actually delights in this needy child wanting so much love and attention! “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.” (Psalms 40:17)
God so wants for His children to pray, that He considers it sin when we don’t, and it is! When you are not faithful in prayer, you are not faithful in anything. I have found that those who pray little think they pray much; while those who pray much think they pray little, or at least know they do not pray enough. Live in the Scriptures for your prayer food. Quote verses in prayer. Quote phrases from other prayers in the Bible; and use the Psalms for personal expression. Romans 8:29 tells me that I am to be conformed to the image of God’s Son; so I pray, “Dear God, conform me to the image of your Son.” Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”; so I pray, “Dear Lord, let that mind be in me which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:15 tells me, “…and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal this unto you”; so I pray, “God, if in any thing I be otherwise minded, please reveal this unto me.” Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure”; so I pray, “Lord, please work in me both to will and to do of thy good pleasure.” I quote Daniel in his prayer, “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.” When my heart can be expressed in the words of Daniel’s prayer, I use it. I substitute “church” for “city”, but God doesn’t mind. After I pray for something that might bring glory to me, I like to use the Psalmist’s words in Psalms 115:1; “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” When I pray right out of God’s Word, I know I am praying in God’s will; and, therefore, am assured of an answer.
When you spend much time in prayer, and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you; you will find Scripture come into your mind as you pray. The Holy Spirit will remind you of something you have read, so you can have power in prayer. The best place to gain new insights in God’s Word is on your knees. I recommend that you always have a pen and paper ready as you pray. Have a prayer journal where you can record blessings, insight, encouragements, answers, requests, vows, and ideas that you gain while communing with Christ. If you think that you will remember your new insight later, you will forget it and regret it. God has taken the time to teach you something, the least you can do is take notes.
“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray…” Luke 11:1
After listening to the master pray, the disciples realized they did not know how to pray. When they asked Jesus to teach them to pray, I find it interesting that they did not receive a long dissertation on the subject. He merely gave them some basics, and told them not to give up. How did the disciples become experts in prayer? They took the basics and then spent much time praying. The outline that Jesus gave is excellent for us to use in our daily prayers. We should start our prayer with worship and praise. We should prepare our minds by realizing who we are talking to; how holy He is; that His will is all important; and that we are subjects of His kingdom. When we have spent much time fellowshipping with, and worshipping the Lord; we can move on to our needs, our sins, and our struggles. If we first focus on God’s omnipotence, our impotence will not be so frightening.
When Jesus taught them to pray for bread to give to others, He stressed that they persevere. If you really want something, you will keep coming back and knocking at heaven’s door; but if it is just a passing whim of yours, you will not press the issue long. I believe sometimes God just wants to see how important this request is to us. Do we really hunger for it, or can we live without it? When you just drop off your request at the doorstep of heaven, and never come back to see what happened to it, God may not bother with it either. Lest you be ignorant as to the hindrances to your prayers, let me share what the Bible says will hinder your prayers:
1. Wavering: The double minded man cannot expect God to answer his prayers — James 1:6,7
2. Asking amiss to gratify your own lusts — James 4:3
3. Regarding iniquity in your heart: Anything in your life that grieves the Holy Spirit is iniquity — Ps. 66:18
4. Practicing Sin: You are not a Christian if you are practicing sin — Is. 59:1-3; Jn. 9:31; James 4:17; I Jn. 3:6
5. Hypocrisy — Job 27:8,9; Matt. 6:5
6. Pride and arrogance — Job 35:12,13; James 4:6
7. Refusing to hear the Word of God — Prov. 28:9; Zech. 7:11-13
8. Refusing to forgive — Matt. 5:23,24; 6:12-15; Mark 11:25,26
9. Forsaking God — Jer. 14:10-12
10. Having idols in your heart — Jer. 11:9-14; Ez. 8:15-18
11. Robbing God — Mal. 3:8-10
12. Offering unworthy services to God — Mal. 1:6-10
13. Discord in the home — I Peter 3:7
14. Refusing to hear the cry of the poor — Prov. 21:13
If you are innocent in all of these areas, and you are following the principles in this chapter; you will soon find out the glory of prayer. Young Elijah, every man of God started from the beginning where you possibly are right now. They sought the Lord while He could be found, and they found Him. When I was at that youth camp, or shortly after coming home, I came across Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” I used that as an anchor, and started seeking God with all my heart. He promised that if I would seek Him with all my heart, I would find Him, and I did. I am still finding more and more of Him every day, but I can say with joy and peace in my heart that I found Him. Hallelujah! Glory to God! What are you waiting for? Let’s arrange our lives around the mighty business of prayer — prayer for ourselves, others, and for every promise of God — that the Father may be glorified in the Son! Hallowed be His name. Amen.
“…men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” --Jesus Christ
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” I Cor. 9:24-27
While driving back from Springfield Missouri in my VW Rabbit after taking Anthony to college, I ran into a very bad winter storm. It stretched from Springfield MO, all the way through to Albuquerque NM. I drove through it all night long. I am still amazed I did not break down or wreck between Joplin, MO and Santa Rosa, NM. I had never seen such terrible road conditions before. They closed the highways in MO right after I got through. All the way though Oklahoma I followed the top lights on the back of a semi trailer, because I couldn’t see the road due to blowing snow. When the Semi passed people I stayed in his tracks, or I would be plowing snow with my car. I just hoped He was going where I was going. I had to crash through snow drifts on the interstate; and sometimes had to turn off my headlights so I could see something besides snow. I tried three times before I could get close enough to the gas pump to fuel in Amarillo TX; and then after filling with gas, I thought I wouldn’t get going again in the deep snow/slush hole I had stopped in when I got close enough to the gas pump. In Tucumcari, NM, the snow was packed on the highway about 6” deep and then it had “pot holes” in it, so I couldn’t go very fast. It was so cold my accelerator cable began freezing in the sleeve. I let off the gas, and the pedal stayed the same. Then I pushed on the gas and let off to get it to idle; but it only stuck on full throttle. I had to quickly turn off the key, and reach down and pull up on the pedal. It was a fight all the way. I should have stopped, but I could barely get to the fuel station, and I didn’t see any hotels — it seemed safer to stay on the road. It was far to cold to sleep in the car. I was determined to get through, and “so drove” that I did not break down or crash. I had my nerves set on “super keen”, and my fingers were leaving prints in the steering wheel. My whole body was praying for God’s help.
When I arrived in Santa Rosa, NM, I sighed, and took a deep breath. The sun was beginning to rise over the cold clear horizon; and I had only 100 miles between me and my pillow. Now the storm was past, and the roads were not half as bad as what I had just come through. I relaxed in my seat, set my nerves back down on “normal sensitive”, and began to cruise down the open highway. I went 10 miles and ended up in the ditch half covered with snow! What happened? I’ll tell you what happened: I was no longer “so driving”. I became confident with my past success, and thought there was no need for such caution. I tried to get by on minimum effort! The same thing Satan will try to get you to do when you’ve got a little success behind you, and you’re tired.
So run! So walk! So pray! So preach! So witness! So Fight! That you win! What is it that you are trying to obtain? Do You have a goal? Just as Jesus preached and lived His whole life in the light of Calvary; we need to live our whole life in the light of our Lord’s coming. We need to have a plan. If a runner doesn’t quite know where the track is, or where the finish line is; how is he going to “so run”?
I also want you to notice in this verse that it says those who strive for the incorruptible crown are temperate in all things. Christian, if your mind is set on “obtaining”, and you “so run”; you will not have a problem with discipline! You will not whine about church standards. You will realize that all the discipline is only helping you run faster and farther. You will welcome anything that gives you efficiency, and will help streamline your walk with God. You will want to abstain from all appearance of evil (I Thess. 5:22). You will be thrilled to give up something that may weight down your testimony or cause a weaker brother to stumble. So run! So fight! That you obtain! If you are not obtaining, fight harder! If you are not winning, run faster!
One key to fighting is to have good aim. You may have a powerful punch; but if it doesn’t light on the fellow’s nose, you won’t faze him much. Paul said he didn’t just beat the air when he swung. You must know what you are fighting for; you must know who it is you are fighting; you must know what weapons are in your arsenal; you must know how to use those weapons; you must know who you are fighting for; you must know the prerequisites for victory; and you must know your power source; or you will never obtain the crown!
You must have fire, fear, and fervent love. If you fight with God’s fire burning in your heart; the fear of God directing each move; and the fervent love of God keeping you aimed at the target; you will not be easily sidetracked. The fear of God keeps the fire from becoming wild fire; the fire in your soul will keep the fear of God from becoming the fear of man; and the fervent love of God will not allow you to use your strength in battle for anything other than the glory of God and salvation of souls. Onward Christian soldiers!
Render It Consistent
“For I am the Lord, I change not;” Malachi 3:6
I can tell you the secret to God’s cooperation in prayer, witnessing, guidance, comfort, Spirit fullness, and every other area of your Christian life in three words: RENDER IT CONSISTENT. God has never changed, and never will. If God must be inconsistent to answer your prayer, it will not get answered. If God must change in order to bless you, you will not be blessed. If God has to lower His standards to fill you with His Spirit, you will not be filled. If God must add a new concept to His ways to use you in His service, then friend, you will not be used of God. You may be used, but not of God. Don’t blame or question God for not doing something in your life until you have rendered it consistent for Him to do so. “While men are looking for better methods, God is looking for better men” — Bill Gothard.
There is no new way to serve God. What does Galatians 1:8,9 say? “But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” If someone comes up with a “new kind of Christianity”; whether in music, dress, worship, interpretation of the Bible, or any other area of the faith, it is not of God. If God must ignore a portion of the Bible to be pleased with your life, He will not be pleased!
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Heb. 13:8
“…the Father…with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17
“The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” Psalms 33:11
Render it consistent for God to move, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to bless, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to answer, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to forgive, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to fill, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to guide, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to comfort, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to help, and He will!
Render it consistent for God bring revival in your life, and He will!
Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen
“It is not how much skill you possess, but how you possess what skill you have.”
Look at Luke 6:21, “Blessed are ye that hunger now; for ye shall be filled.” Now look at verse 25, “Woe unto you that are full! For ye shall hunger.” Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Many are called, but few are chosen — Why? It is just like at camp when the dinner bell rings: the bell rings for everyone, but only those who are hungry respond! Many are called to revival, but few have revival! Many are called to holiness, but few live holy lives! Many are called to serve God, but there are few who serve God! Many are called to salvation, but there are few that be saved! Why?
God only gives to those who are hungry. Luke 6:21, “Blessed are ye that hunger now, for ye shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Isaiah 44:3 , “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty,” Isaiah 55:1, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters”. John 7:37, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Psalms 107:8,9, “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”
How was the woman from Samaria saved? When she met Jesus at the well, she said, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not,” She got it! Did the great men of God thirst?
· Moses: “…show me thy way, that I may know thee…”
· David: “O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is: to see thy power and thy glory…” “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: When shall I come and appear before God?”
· Paul: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death:”
Isaiah 8:21 tells us, “…and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves…” Do we fret that we have no fear of God in our society? Do we fret at the lethargy in our churches? Are we hungry? Proverbs 27:7 says, “The full souls loatheth an honey comb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” The reason that we are not fretting in hunger is because we are too full of other things! We are full of the world’s entertainment! We are full of the world’s materialism! We are full of humanistic religion! We are full of our own ways (Proverbs 14:14), and there is no room in our over stuffed hearts and minds for the things of God!
Read Matthew 22:1-4, and tell me why those lost people would not get saved. They were not hungry! They were filled with their “merchandise”. Now, look who was chosen out of all who were called — it was those who were hungry! What happened to those who were not hungry for the Lord’s salvation?
Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.
Look at Luke 14:16-24. What did their excuses consist of? There were already full! Watch what God says in verse 24, “For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” When a person is called, they had better respond! In Revelation 3:14-19 we find some Christians with the exact same problem. They were not hungry for the Creator, because they were already full of the creation. They were not hungry for the giver, because they were worshipping the gift. They were full of riches, goods, and material items; but were starving to death spiritually. God said that they made Him sick, and had better repent. Repent for not being hungry? Yes, repent for not being hungry — that should tell us something. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!
Young Elijah, when you feel your hunger start to subside, repent, and pray for a fresh hunger. The day that you are no longer hungry for more of God, you have just lost God’s power in your life! The day a preacher isn’t hungry for more of God’s power and working in his own life, his church will stagnate! The day a parent loses their hunger for God, their children will stray from Him also.
Look at Jesus on the cross. Was He satisfied with what He had accomplished? No! He still had to save on last soul on the cross next to Him. He still had to take care of His earthly mother. He still prayed for the soldiers who were crucifying Him. And, in John 19:28, just before He dies in verse 30, He says, “I thirst”. What did He thirst for? Well, he wasn’t satisfied with what they gave Him. I believe He was thirsty for the Father.
If God poured out revival, salvation, or power on someone who was not hungry, they would not appreciate it, or take proper care of it. When Israel lost their appetite for the Word of God, the Lord sent a famine in the land. Amos 8:11,12 tells us it was “…not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” God knows how to make us hungry. Are you hungry? Why? Why not? Will God have to make you hungry? I hope not. If you read Luke 16:19-31, you’ll see a man who was full all his life. He never thirsted for God. God had to make him thirsty, but it was too late! A genuine Christian will automatically thirst for God in greater and lesser degrees. Therefore, if you have no thirst for God, you must repent, and let God give you a new heart. If your excuses override God’s call, you will experience eternal thirst that will never be quenched.
How To Be A Successful Fanatic
“For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.
For the love of Christ constraineth us;” 2 Cor. 5:13,14a
Originally, the name Christian was given to us by the unsaved world (Acts 11:26). Since the name categorized us as “little Christs”, or as being “adherent to Christ”, we gladly adopted it. The name Fanatic hasn’t been proudly worn, yet it is not such a bad name either. Webster defines a fanatic as, “A person having a stubborn, unshakable, violent, and unreasoning belief in or enthusiasm for, some opinion, cause, or doctrine.” As I understand it, that is exactly the way this spiritually blind, lost world has labeled all God’s faithful saints. I’m sure they thought Jesus was violent and unreasoning when he made a small scourge and drove the money changers out of the temple. In Mark 3:21,22 His friends said he had lost His mind; while the Jews accused Him of having a devil! Jesus was accused of having a devil in Him many times:
“The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil” John 7:20
“Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” John 8:48
“There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?” John 10:19-21
“Jesus! You’re crazy! We don’t want to hear it! You are a fanatic!” They tried to stone Him and throw Him over a cliff head first to stop His preaching; but He continued until He was finished. Hey! Young preacher, let me share with you a sobering thought. In Matthew 10:25, Jesus told us that, if we lived like Him, we would be called the same names He was called. That means, if the world is not treating us like it treated Jesus, we are not living like Jesus lived.
Did Paul follow in Jesus’ footprints? In Acts 26:24-29 we find him preaching his heart out telling King Agrippa and Governor Festus how he met Jesus and was born again! Right in the middle of the sermon, Governor Festus interrupts with a loud voice, saying, “Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.” Paul! You are crazy! You are a fanatic! Paul didn’t mind; he had been called those names before.
The disciples in Acts 17:6 were accused of turning the world upside down with their message. In Luke 19:37-40 the Pharisees got embarrassed and asked Jesus to make His disciples be quiet. Stephen would not quit preaching in Acts 7. He told that council of religious hypocrites that they were stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, and that they always resisted the Holy Spirit just like their fathers did. Go get ‘em Stephen! They were so angry that they stopped their ears, trampled him, drug him out of the city, and stone him to death!
What was it that these men had that we do not have? How do we get from where we are to where they were? How were they so filled with this stubborn enthusiasm that they never gave up? Jeremiah was so filled with holy fire that he could not stop preaching, even though he sometimes wanted to (Jer. 20:9).
I Corinthians 1;18 tells us that the “preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;” The world says, “Shut up!” The world laughs and mocks…until most of us are ashamed to preach with holy flame. How do we get that holy endurance that was in Jeremiah’s heart? What will it take before we can answer the world’s complaints with the unashamed confidence that the Holy Spirit does in Jeremiah 47:6,7, “O thou sword of the LORD, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? Put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still. How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge…?” How can we be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given us a charge? Yet, too often, we are.
How did David, as a young man, have the courage to go out to the battle and volunteer to fight Goliath? How did he have the boldness to answer his critics with a simple, “Is there not a cause?” David, boy! God home! What do you think you are doin’ out here? “Is there not a cause?” What was his secret?
There is a secret to becoming a successful, unshakable, fanatic just like Jesus. Look with me to Luke 10:38-42:
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Now, look with me to Luke 8:35-39:
Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again. Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.
Every day of your life there are many things that scream for your attention; but Jesus tells us that only one thing is “needful”. Mary had to ignore the cries that Martha answered, so she could choose that “good part”. Why is that “one thing” so needful? Listen close, this is the key to the whole chapter: The ONLY thing you have to give to others is what YOU get while “sitting at Jesus’ feet”. The only real message you and I have to give is, “how great things the Lord hath done for us.”
Where did David get the power to conquer Goliath? He got it on a lonely hillside gazing up into space and fellowshipping with its Creator! Probably one of those evenings is where he penned the nineteenth Psalm, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork…” Where did Paul get the power and courage to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ? He got it at the feet of Jesus! God’s plan for winning a lost world full of proud, rebellious, sinners has never been though worldly wisdom. The world can only know God through faith in Jesus Christ, not academics. God’s plan is laid out for us in I Corinthians 1:18-31: God takes a nobody, transforms his life, and sends him out into the world preaching “how great things the Lord hath done for him”. What did the woman at the well preach that brought revival to the city of Sychar? She proclaimed, after sitting at Jesus’ feet, “Come see a man, which told me all things that ever I did”. What was the message, out of all his great sermons, that Paul chose to preach before King Agrippa, Governor Festus, and that great council of people? He preached, “My Conversion Story”. He told them how Jesus saved his soul…changed his life… and what a friend he had in Jesus! He told them what he received while sitting at Jesus’ feet! He told them, “how great things the Lord had done unto him! Glory Hallelujah!
Where do you get that holy flame in your soul that just makes you preach? In Acts 4:13, after Peter stood and boldly proclaimed Christ to the Sanhedrin, it says, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Yes, sir! That is right! Now, let’s watch them as they go back for a fresh dose:
And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Praise God! We can find boldness just as they did! Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:12 how he could endure all the persecutions, yet not be ashamed of the Gospel:
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
In Ezekiel 36:22-36, God promises rebirth to the people of Israel. He tells them that for His holy name’s sake, He is going to give them a new heart, a new spirit, and make them a holy, fired up, God fearing people. But in vs. 37 He says, “Thus saith the Lord God: I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them”. They could only get all these great promises by “sitting at Jesus’ feet”.
Young Elijah, God will only spoon feed us at the beginning; then He expects us to come on our own and sit at His feet. If you don’t, you will soon burn out! Why do you think Paul, in Acts 20:13, after preaching all night, wanted to walk alone to As’-os? He needed to get alone with Jesus! You do not have anything to give to this world except what YOU get while “sitting at the feet of Jesus” You will become over taxed, frustrated, and dependent upon fleshly methods if you do not spend time at the throne of Grace! This old world doesn’t need your learning! They don’t need your great personality, and don’t want your looks. You get a hold on God! Sit at the feet of Jesus until He fills your cup so full it splashes on everybody you meet! This world needs the living water you get daily at the feet of Jesus! This, my friend, is the only way one becomes a successful fanatic.
A fanatic you say, that’s what I am?
I’m nuts, I’m weird, I’m a Jesus fan?
Well, friend, you don’t look very wise;
O, I know, you saw it in my eyes.
Yes sir, you’re right; I have flipped my gourd.
A state of insanity — I’m crazy for my Lord.
I preach, I sing, and shout Hallelu!
I cry out in prayer, until I pray though.
Jesus, my Savior, alone will I follow.
Is He hated today? Then I tomorrow.
What’s that world? “Shut up!” do you shout?
O, if I would, the stones would cry out!
You don’t understand, though it seems so clear;
Because of His love, I have no fear.
The Word of the Lord, as a sword, will pierce;
And will endure through onslaughts fierce.
Your hearts are wicked, O human race;
Yet, you too, someday, will see His face.
Then, as you before God’s Son do fall,
You’ll see….I wasn’t crazy after all.
In Jesus’ Love,
I Cor. 9:16