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Experiencing God

Jim Ayer
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Jim Ayer

Vice President for Advancement, Adventist World Radio



  • June 23, 2011
    2:30 PM
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Well, it is good to be with you. It has certainly been good to be with you all week, and, as you said, I did and have saved the best for the last, actually. Not that every day hasn’t been good, but they all build up, and they all lead up to tomorrow. So, I would ask and hope that you’d be my emissaries, as it were, and grab people out of their tents, grab people, wake them up, make noise, do something, get everybody out here because tomorrow’s message I believe is so critical to the Adventist Church and our understanding of the real righteousness and power that Jesus Christ has for each one of us.


Now, because I’ve been here all week, many of you, I’ve had an opportunity to talk with many of you, and many have said, “Where did you live? Where did you come from?” Of course, I’m in Washington, D.C.; I work at the General Conference at this point in time, but I want it, if they can put up the slide. Here is where I was born. If they can get that there. That little ugly place, it’s a 14,161-foot volcano in Northern California, and you can maybe see the little teeny white piece there, kind of in the middle there; that’s the town, and a big population, 3500 people, so I’m a country boy. And that’s why I can say “om-nee-POE-tent” rather than “om-NIP-oh-tent” when we talk about God’s power.


The ABC would like me to announce, I’m sure, that today 4 to 6 p.m., I’ll be having a book signing with some of my books, Second Chance, the one in which I’ve shared parts of our story. My wife also wrote some parts in there. And until she wrote, sometimes she would write those, and I said, “Really? That’s how you felt, huh?” And we never really talked until we wrote in the book.


I’ll share one quick story with you. She said, you know, I don’t know, we were married about five or six years, something like that, and she says, “You know, our marriage had just gone stale. There is just nothing fun in our marriage anymore.” “Uh, okay.” She went into the bathroom to go take a shower. I went to the cabinet, and I got the jar of honey, and I spread honey all over the vinyl floor right in front of the bathroom. And I thought, she’s going to come out of there, right, get stuck to the honey, and then we’ll laugh and have a good time.


This is on film; maybe I shouldn’t say this, but she came out of that bathroom soaking wet, drying off with a towel at that moment. Her wet feet hit that honey, she flipped upside down flat on her back, and, you know, in her birthday suit. She was not a happy camper. So, we’ve got a few interesting stories in there. I hope, if you get a chance, come on over. See you at 4 o’clock today.


Today, “Experiencing God,” experiencing God, this study came from some studies I did and from some studies that really brought me back to God, that touched my heart in such a way that I really realized that it’s all about a powerful relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s the only way, that’s the only way we’re going to gain victory. And so, I have that interspersed today, sometimes in quotes, sometimes not, some of those things, but it is a study I believe today we all need. “I am the vine,” Jesus said, “you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear” (how much fruit?) “much fruit; apart from Me, you can do nothing,” nothing, absolutely nothing. Only as we are connected in the vine, only as we receive the nourishment from the roots, from God’s vine, can we ever hope to do anything good.


There is nothing good we can do apart from God – nothing, nothing, zero. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” There are many things, you know, it’s kind of like the army. You tell them what you’re going to tell them, you tell them, and then you tell them what you’ve told them. And sometimes this week there have been some of those things with you that are so precious to me, I work them in over and over again in some of these slides because knowing God, having a personal friendship with Him, is what it’s all about.


And knowing God does not come through a program or method. Knowing God does not come through a program or method. It’s a relationship with a person. It’s a love relationship with God. Through this relationship, God reveals His will and invites you to join Him where He is already at work. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”


Notice Jesus didn’t say, “Follow Me, and I’ll show you the way.” He said what? “I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the door.” On and on and on and on, it is all within God. Everything is within God. Pilate stood there and said, “What is truth?” And before Jesus could answer and tell him that, “You’re looking at truth,” he changed the subject and off he went. He lost out in an incredible way. God is the embodiment of all these things.


He doesn’t take you, understand, He doesn’t you and say, “Come on, let me go show you where truth is,” no, no, no, no. When you have an encounter with God, when you’re there with God, when you’re studying here, you have encountered truth; this is truth. And so, as truth begins to live in you, truth begins to change your life. As the way lives in you, you begin walking in the way because the way is God.


The disciples spent three and a half years with the Master Teacher, but mere learning is never enough, even if the instruction comes from Jesus. What they lacked was a what? A relationship. They lacked the indwelling presence of God. Can you imagine spending three and a half years with Jesus Christ, and they didn’t know Him yet because their minds were fixated on so many other things. On the kingdom, they were really looking for the kingdom to be established on Earth, and each one of them were going to sit on the throne. They were going to be there with God. They were going to rule the planet.


They were so blinded. Jesus said, “Oh, you know, there are things that I’d like to tell you right now, but you can’t bear it. Things I want to share with you, but you’ll never see it.” And even those that He did share, they didn’t see because they didn’t have a relationship. They weren’t focused on the things that really mattered.


Mary Magdalene, on the other hand, finally she got it, took a while, cast out seven demons, but finally she got it. She got what was the most important thing, sitting at the feet of the Great Teacher, learning from Him, falling deeply in love with Him.


The purpose of this presentation then is to lead you to an encounter with the living God, the Creator God of the universe. The Re-Creator for those who choose to allow Him to change you from a sinner to a saint, from a loser to an overcomer. That’s what God wants to do with every single one of you. (Can you say amen?) It’s powerful. God can and will do it if you choose to walk with Him, side by side with Him, learning of Him.


“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” spiritually discerned. Jesus was working on a whole spiritual level; they were working on a carnal level. “Lord, it’s time to eat. You’ve got to eat something. You’ve got to do this, Lord.” “No, no, no, don’t you see? I’m about My Father’s work, and I have more important things than feeding the physical body.”


Anything significant (how much?) anything that happens in your life will be a result of God’s activity in your life. He is infinitely more interested in your life than you or I could possibly be. “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Wow, what an incredible statement. “Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” God has so much more for us. We need to hunger and thirst after that righteousness, after that incredible God. We need to pant as the deer panteth by the waters, so my soul longeth after Thee. God has so much for us, brothers and sisters, more than we’d ever imagine.


If I follow Jesus one day at a time, this is a question now, if I follow Jesus one day at a time, I will be right in the center of God’s will for my life. True or false? True. Got one true. Any false? Well, it is true. One day at a time. There’s a song, right, “One day at a time, sweet Jesus, one day at a time.”


If today you pray, “God, lead me, take all of my life today, take everything in me today. I want to serve You fully today,” and if you’re here today, then that’s where God wants you today. If tomorrow God wants you someplace else, and you’ve prayed, and you’ve opened your heart and life to do whatever God wants, then tomorrow you’ll be there. So, it’s just one day at a time, one day at a time laying your life completely out for God.


And I used to teach five-day plans to stop smoking, when they were five-day plans; then they went to ten-day plans, and I think they ruined it, but, five-day plans. And, you know, these dear folks, you would see them come in, and they were panting, and they were puffing and everything else. And they can’t hardly breathe. And you see they want a cigarette so badly, and you say, “Look at your watch. If the urge really comes up, say, ‘I choose not to smoke for one minute.’ Can you make one minute?” “Yeah, I can make one minute.” We say, “Well, if the urge is still there after one minute, then choose one more minute. Can you make one minute?” “Yeah, I can make one minute.” Okay, and then the urge tends to die down.


The Christian walk, choose, just today, just today, you don’t have to focus on what’s going to happen, “Oh, if I do this, I see this path, and I see this path. Oh, that might lead here. Oh, I’m scared about that.” No, just today, choose to serve Jesus Christ with 100 percent of your life and heart today. Can you do that one day? Can you do that one day?


You know, maybe even for some of you, one day could be scary, but it will have eternal rewards. What kind of rewards? Eternal rewards.


“Abram, Abram, I’ve got a great work for you to do. You see, I’m creating, I’m creating a whole nation, and I’d like you to come join Me in nation-building. Would you do that? Look, I’m not telling you where you’re going. I know you’re 75 years old, but just pack up, leave everything you’ve known in your whole life and go for Me. Would you do that?” Wow. Are you ready to follow God in that way? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”


Question: What is God’s will for my life? Well, I’d submit to you that that’s probably the wrong question. You say, “What? Let’s back up.” What was the question again? What is God’s will for my life? It sounds like a legitimate question, but what is the right question? What is God’s will? That’s the right question: What is God’s will? When I figure out what God’s will is, then I’m able to join Him in what He’s doing because I’ve discovered what His will is, and then I simply choose to join Him. A whole different situation because then I adjust my life to go with God.


Now, here’s Jesus’ example of what He did while He was here on Earth, “The Father has been working right up until now. Now, He has Me working. I do nothing on my own initiative. I watch to see what the Father is doing. I look around to see where the Father is at work, and then I join Him there. You see, the Father loves Me. He shows Me everything that He Himself is doing.” Interesting.


My life: I will look to see what God says and how He works in Scripture. I will make my decisions and evaluate my experiences based on biblical principles. The Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy are to be my guide for faith and practice, nothing else; we don’t need any other guides. The right question is, “What is God’s will?” Watch to see where God is at work and then join Him at work. And God is always at work around me. You believe that? God is always at work around us. God has an ongoing work around the universe and here, His special focus on planet Earth. He has an ongoing work.


“The Word which came to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying, ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My Words.’ Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he was working on a wheel. And the vessel that he made in clay was ruined in the hand of the potter; so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of Jehovah came to me, saying: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?’ says Jehovah. ‘Behold, as the clay in the potter’s hands, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.’”


 God paid the price for us. God owns us. God can do anything God wants to do with our lives. That may be a shocking statement for you to hear, but that’s reality. What’s a servant? Somebody tell me, share with audience, what’s a servant? What? “He who helps.” Anybody else? (Ma’am, we’re babbling, we’re in tongues this morning here almost, and I’m getting old; I can’t hear. Okay, what?) “He does what the master says.” Anybody else? You’re not going to be graded, okay. Anybody? What? “Goes where the master sends.”


Okay, let’s look at a couple of things here. “Every soul who claims to be a servant of God is called to do His service as if every day might be the last.” Wow. “The whole life of Christ had been a life of unselfish service. ‘Not to be ministered unto, but to minister,’ had been the lesson of His every act.” Based upon Scripture and our little, short discussion here, are you God’s servant? In other words, are you allowing Him to mold you and shape you for the work He is doing all around you? Personal question this morning: Are you God’s servant?


Our best example, of course, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.” Are you God’s servant?


The servant, you see, can do nothing of kingdom value apart from the Master. John 15:19, “The Son can do nothing by Himself.” John 15:5, “Apart from Me, ye can do nothing.” Jesus was our example on how it was done. He followed the Father only as He saw the Father, and joined the Father in His work. Could He do anything of kingdom value? And now Jesus said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” Nothing, nothing that’s worthwhile in God’s Kingdom.


You get to this situation where, when Jesus comes, as the story goes here, these people say, “Lord, Lord, what about us? We’ve done all these mighty things in Your name. We’ve cast out demons. We’ve healed the sick. We’ve done all these things, Lord.” And He says, looking down the list, “Who are you? Who are you? I don’t know you. I don’t know you.” “Lord, we’ve got our name on the church books, and, Lord, we’ve taught all these people. We’ve brought food to the hungry.” “Who are you?” You see, you can do all these good things, but unless you know, unless you have a relationship, a personal friendship with God, it’s worthless. One is works. One is a relationship.


With God working through the servant, he or she can do anything God can do. Think about that. Wow. You do not get orders and then go out and do them. You relate to God, respond to Him, and adjust your life to Him so that He can do whatever He wants to do through you. Amazing thoughts. You relate to God. You respond to Him. You adjust your life as God shows you and tells you, “This is the way, walk ye in it,” so that He can do whatever He wants to do through you, through you. You are God’s emissary. You are the one God wants to work through and to gain the blessing for the salvation of souls, our mission.


God’s vision is to have a friendship with you, a relationship with you, so that He can dwell in you and you can be His hands, His eyes, His feet, His mouth, everything here on planet Earth. That you can glow for God like Moses when Moses came down off the mountain. He had been so close in a friendship and a relationship with God that God was shining out of him.


One time, and I don’t share this out of ego or anything else; it was amazing to me. This fellow used to come in my business when I first became a Christian. He’d come in my business, and I’d talk with him about Jesus, and I’d share Jesus. And he’d sit down, and we’d talk for quite a while. And one day, he said, “Oh, Jim,” he says, “I know.” He says, “I know you love God so much.” He said, “I know you’re so excited about God,” he said, “because I actually,” he said, “I actually…you glow when you talk about God.” He said, “I actually see there’s almost a light that glows from you.” And I thought, “Wow. Wow.” And I wonder, you know, do we glow for God? In our experience, our relationship today at this camp meeting, do you glow for God because you’ve been so close to Him? You’re so in love. He can do whatever He wants to do through you to shine to the world.


Elijah, did Elijah bring down fire from heaven, yes or no? Good. God did, didn’t He? It was God who brought the fire down from heaven. So, what did Elijah do? What was his part? Being obedient and allowing God to do the work through him. That’s what really occurred. God brought the fire. Elijah was the vehicle that God worked through.


Now, here are a few think-it-through items: To be a servant of God, I must be moldable and must remain in the Master’s hand. What must we do? Moldable and remain in the Master’s hand. Apart from God, I can do nothing. With God working through me, I can do anything God can do. When I find out where the Master is, then I know that is where I need to be also. I come to know God by experiences. I obey Him, and He accomplishes His work through me.


Now, what’s that mean in a concrete way? I used to think…I was in a New Age area for a long time, and this New Age area, you know, they just, oh, in the morning, I’d get up and “Ohmm,” you know, I’d become one with the universe, and the universe guides me that day. Whatever’s going to happen that day just happens. And I used to say, “Oh, come on, give me a break. Cut me some slack.” But then, you know, I started realizing there is a piece of truth to this.


Example, I’m on my way to work. There are no subways around here, but let’s picture you’re working someplace else. You’re down with me somewhere, D.C. or something, and you’re on the subway that morning, and you know you’ve got a certain time. You’ve clocked it; every day it’s like clockwork. You know you’ve got to get on that subway at a certain time. You get off, you’re going to walk a couple of blocks, and you’re going to be at the office. And right on time you open your door, and there you are, just as the clock turns right up to 7 o’clock, 8 o’clock, whatever it might be.


You’re on the subway, you’re sitting there, and you’re reading your newspaper. You’re doing something, and the person next to you is reading the newspaper, and all of a sudden they way, “Wow! What is this world coming to? There is just so much going on. I wonder if there really is a God.”


What does that tell you? That tells you that God is at work in that person there. God revealed Himself to you that He’s at work in that person. Now, the question is, “Now what?” Now what? When God reveals Himself to you that He’s at work, that’s our invitation to join God at work.


Now, do I miss my station and begin talking with this person about God, or do I say, “Well, man, sorry, yeah. It is amazing. It amazes me; there really is a God,” and get off at your stop and go to work. Interesting question, isn’t it? You’ve got to work that one out in your own life because, remember, it’s not about this world, it’s not about this life; it’s about eternity with our Best Friend.


You can’t stay where you are and go with God. There are changes, there are sacrifices. There are things that have got to happen in our lives as we follow God on His mission. Our mission is His mission. When God is about to do something through you, He has to get you from where you are to where He is. So, He comes and tells you what He’s doing. In this case, working in the young person right next do you who says, “Maybe there is a God.” Invitation to join God at work.


Therefore, you can’t stay where you are and go with God. Is that understandable this morning? It takes a change in life. We can no longer be the same. We can no longer just come to camp meeting once a year and be the same person.


Seven realities of experiencing God: God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal. God is always at work around you. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, Spirit of Prophecy, circumstances and the church to reveal Himself His purposes and His ways. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He’s doing.


(It got quiet. You can hear a pin drop in here right now, couldn’t you?)


You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.


I’m going to pause just for a moment. I love mission work, and one time I was putting together a team of medical folks, and I talked to this dentist. I said, “You need to come with me on this mission trip. It’s two weeks. We’re going to be doing evangelism and health clinics. You need to come.” “Oh, Jim,” he said. I knew him a little bit. He said, “Oh, Jim,” he said, “I can’t do that.” He said, “I’ve got so much work to do. I have so many people that depend on me, my office staff, everybody, you know. I have such a large nut to crack there and pay the bills and insurance and overhead,” and he went on and on and on and on and on. I said, “Doc,” I said, “would you do one thing for me.” I said, “Would you at least pray about it and ask God what God wants you to do?” “[Sighed] Okay.”


Three weeks later I get a phone call. He said, “Jim,” he said, “I’m going.” I said, “Praise God!” A month later, a month after that I get a call, “Jim! Jim!” He was so excited. “Jim, you’ll never believe this!” I said, “I probably would, but go ahead, tell me.” He said, “It’s so amazing.” He said, “The work that I had been doing in the office, you know, as a dentist,” he said, “these particular procedures,” he said, “I rarely do them. They’re so expensive.” He said, “I’ve done six already this week.” He said, “Just those six,” he said, “paid my office expenses for,” he said, “more than a month.” He said, “I can go with no problem.” It’s very interesting when we choose to serve God and join Him in the work that He wants us to be doing.


God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief which requires, what? Faith and action. Let me read that one again because it’s so important: God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action. Action, action, action.


“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached” (where?) “in all the world.” Jesus said, “I’ve got all power, now, you go.” Requires faith and action.


Moses, man, Moses reads, you know, or kind of studies or, not reads but understands he is the deliverer. Man, he grabs the reins. He goes out, and he kills one Egyptian. Wow, what a deliverer. He barely escapes with his own life where he spends 40 years in the desert, 40` years getting a relationship with God. God was already at work around Moses. God pursued a continuing love relationship with Moses that was real and personal. God invited Moses to become involved with Him in His work. It took 40 years, though, for Moses to really start getting all this together. God spoke to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways. God’s invitation for Moses to work with Him led to a crisis of belief that required faith and action. Moses had to make major adjustments in his life to join God in what He was doing. Moses came to know God by experience as he obeyed God and God accomplished His work through Moses.


Now, burning bush, wow, what is that? He comes up to the burning bush. “Hey, Moses, I’ve got this ongoing work, Moses. I’m delivering the children of Israel. Would you come join Me?” There’s a difference there, isn’t there? Who had the ongoing work? God did. “Moses, I’d like you to come join Me in my work of delivering the children of Israel.” Crisis of belief, “Bu-bu-bu-but, Lord, I ca-ca-can’t talk. Man, it’s been a long time. I don’t remember the language. They’re liable to kill me. I’ve been…I can’t lead a nation. I’ve been a shepherd now for 40 years out in the desert. I can’t do this. I’m getting to be an old man, you know, I’m 80 years old.”


Crisis of belief. You can’t stay where you are and go with God. He had to make a decision. What can one ordinary person do? Moses was an ordinary shepherd, basically, wasn’t he? But, as he joined God in His work, delivered the entire family of Israel, not one person was lost. Not one person was lost because it was God’s work.


Why is it we sit in church board meetings, and we spend so little time in prayer trying to determine what God wants, what God is doing, so we can join God in His work. We come up with all these plans, these ideas. We do this, and we do that. You know, that’s why I love Jerry Page. You know, Jerry is now Ministerial Director, and Jerry, the first time at the conference in California, they spent an hour in prayer and study before they started the meeting. Some of the people did not like that. They thought, you know, “We don’t have time for all that.” Jerry said it was amazing, though, after awhile, as more people joined in and said okay, they would get all of their work done in a tenth of the time. I’m just putting the tenth in there. I’m not certain, but it was just in no time at all.


A really concrete example, we created the Revival and Reformation document for all the divisions last year at Fall Council and shared that and spent time in study, in prayer, more than normal because the agenda normally is wall to wall. From one end to the other, it’s just agenda, agenda and items and all the work of the world field, and there is debate and discussion. And so much time was spent in prayer and study and discussing revival and reformation and testimony time. And there were tears shed and things happened in an incredible way. The Holy Spirit was moving in an amazing way, and it got down to the last day, and Elder Wilson said, “Guess what? We’re virtually done with our agenda. We have extra time.”


It’s amazing when you allow God to work, and you join God in His work because God’s already laid out all the groundwork. He’s got everything prepared. We just have to drop in and join Him. Why don’t we do that in our board meetings more often? Brothers and sisters, you can be the emissaries to your churches to take back and say, let’s spend more time in prayer and study before we just hassle and deal with everything and work it out. Why is it we spend…I’m getting ahead of myself here, but why is it we, in Sabbath Schools, we say, “Well, you know, in my opinion, this ought to be this way, and this should do this, and we ought to do this…”? Let’s have a little more of God’s Word, what God says. I don’t care about my opinion. You shouldn’t care about anybody else’s opinion. What does God have to say? Let’s find out what God has to say and bring that to the discussion.


Let’s determine what God wants. And, you know, what can one ordinary person, each one of us, what can we do? What can we do for God? Well, “Elijah was a man of like passions as we are,” wasn’t he? He was of like passions. And look what God could do through him, bringing fire down from heaven even. Abraham? Abraham was a liar, and God created an entire nation, an entire nation. Moses? He was a murderer and a shepherd. Look what God did through Moses, amazing stuff. Peter and John, they were fishermen. They were just fishermen, and look what God did through them. It took awhile. Look what God did through them. John the Baptist, his ministry was only six months long, and Jesus said there was none greater, none greater, a six-month ministry. Elder Gallimore, it’s hard to believe, in a six-month ministry and the greatest preacher that ever lived. Wow.


Noah, he was the world’s worst evangelist, preached for 120 years, only got his own family. Praise God he got his family but only his family. That’s a miserable evangelist. He would not hold a job in any conference today for sure.


Lazarus, Lazarus was dead. What kind of excuse do you have? Lazarus was dead, and he’s still preaching today.


Dwight L. Moody, Dwight L. Moody was a shoe salesman, a shoe salesman! Moody one day heard Henry Varley preaching, said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” And, Moody, when he heard that, determined, he said, “I will be that man. By God’s grace, I will be that man.”


How about you this morning? “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” What did Moody do? In a 40-year period, he won a million souls to Christ, founded three Christian schools, launched a great Christian publishing business, established a world-renowned Christian conference center, inspired literally thousands of preachers to win souls and conduct revivals. One man who said, “I want to be God’s man. I want to allow God to work in me, do whatever God wants to do with me. I want to be God’s servant.”


When you believe that nothing significant can happen through you, you have said more about your belief in God than you’ve said about yourself. Do you realize that? Don’t measure your life by the world’s standards, brothers and sisters.


There was a fellow that had such a stammering problem, just drove everybody crazy. And he came to the conference one day and says, “I want to be a colporteur,” only he didn’t say it that way, right? He said, “I-I-I-I-I wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa I want tuh-tuh-tuh-to b-b-b-be a colporteur.” You know what the answer was. “Oh, brother.” “Puh-puh-puh-puh-please.” Oh, finally, just to get rid of him, they said, “Okay, okay. Here are the books and things.”


And pretty soon it was amazing. The orders started flowing in and flowing in and flowing in, and pretty soon they send somebody out in the field to check on what this guy is doing. It’s amazing! And he’s selling Bibles. He’s selling Bibles just by the boatload. And the conference fellow gets together one day with him and says, “I want to travel with you and go with you to the sales.” Okay, so they’re heading down the road, and all of a sudden, before they come to the house, the fellow ducks behind a bush, and he says, “Puh-puh-puh-puh-pray.”


They have a prayer. He goes to the door [knocks], “heh-heh-heh-hello. I-I-I-I-I’m seh-seh-seh-selling Bibles, and, and, and, and, I-I-I-I I want to, I want to, I want to read you, I want to read you, I want to read you a chapter.” “No, no, no, I’ll buy right now.” You see, God can do anything with and for and through a man who is wholly and fully committed to Him. God can do mighty things.


John Wesley, the early Methodist meetings that he was holding with lay preachers, they had limited education. They just didn’t have too much, but they had a love for God, and on one occasion, such a preacher took his text, Luke 19:21, “Lord, I feared thee because thou art an austere man.” Now, this dear fellow thought he said he was an “oyster man.” Well, his preaching was so incredible that night, 12 men were converted by this ignorant man.


Afterwards there was somebody who complained to Wesley. He said, “Wyatt is so bad. It’s so inappropriate. You’ve allowed these ignorant preachers to get up there, and they destroy the meaning of the text.” And Wesley simply said, “Nevermind, the Lord has gotten a dozen oysters tonight.”


You know, human understanding, human thinking, doesn’t apply when it’s talking about what God wants in your life. The Division Ministerial Director over in the West African Division one time, I was there, and he shared a story with me. He said, “Jim,” he said, “This fellow came over from the United States to preach.” He said, “That man read his presentation continually, continually. Drove me crazy. Oh,” he said, “I was feeling so bad for God.” He said, “The final evening and he has a call, and he reads his call. He never looks up one time. He never ever breaks contact. He doesn’t even raise his voice or give any inflection – nothing!” Two hundred and fifty people came forward that night to accept Jesus Christ. He said, “I realized at that moment, it was not about him, it was all about God.”


What does God want to do in your life? Mighty things, great things, tremendous things, to reach people all around you, to change lives around you, to change your family, your friends, your neighbors, as they see Jesus glowing from you.


If you feel weak, limited, and ordinary, you are the best material through which God can work. What do you say? The best material. The very best material. “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner,” that’s the kind of person God wants, not, “Lord, I’m so good. Man, I am educated. I’ve got every doctorate in the world. I can do all things.” No, God’s looking for each one of us to allow God to work in us to change us and transform us.


“As the will of man,” remember this statement? “As the will of man cooperates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent.” That’s all God. “Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength.” God is a Winner Man. And, as I shared with you the other day the old African song, you know, “Jesus is a Winner Man, a Winner Man, a Winner Man. The devil is a loser man, a loser man, a loser man.”


“All His biddings are enablings.” What? Repeat that one with me. “All His biddings are enablings.” He’s speaking to you and to me. To know and to do the will of God, you must deny self and return to a God-centered life.


Here’s a self-centered life: Life focused on self. Proud of self and self’s accomplishments. Self-confidence. Depending on self and one’s own abilities. Affirming self. Seeking to be acceptable to the world and its ways. Looking at circumstances from a human perspective. “Lord, there are giants in the land. We’re like grasshoppers.” Selfish and ordinary living.


Here is God-centered living. Check this out. See if there is any difference: Confidence in God. Dependence on God and His ability and provision. Life focused on God and His activity. Humble before God. Denying self. Seeking first God’s Kingdom and righteousness. Seeking God’s perspective in every circumstance. Holy and godly living.


See a difference between those two? Like night and day, right?


God will accomplish more in six months through a people yielded to Him than we could do in sixty years without Him. Ellen White says, “If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one.”


God’s vision: Changing our lives into His image. His mission: Humble in drawing hundreds into Him. Wayne Hooper, remember how he transformed this into music? “If we would humble ourselves before the Lord. If we would humble ourselves before the Lord. Be kind and courteous, tenderhearted, pitiful, there would be 100 conversions to the truth where now there is but 1.” Take that song with you today. Think about that. You can convert a hundred with God.


Successful evangelism is: doing things God’s way. I am God’s servant. I adjust my life to what He is about to do. Understanding what God is about to do where I am is more important than telling God what I want to do.


We come up with all the plans at board meeting. We run out, and say, “Come on, God, bless me. Bless what I’m doing.” You never find that in Scripture. God does not work that way. We tend to work that way in church. God does not work that way. It’s time to change. It’s time to change.


You will never find a story that shows the servant dreaming up work for God, going out and doing it, and asking God to come along and bless it. It isn’t there.


If the Holy Spirit was removed from the church today, could we tell the difference? I asked you that question the other day.


George Muller, interesting man, German who moved to England. During his ministry in Bristol, England, George Muller started the Scriptural Knowledge Institute for the distribution of Scripture (he distributed over 400,000 Bibles and New Testaments, in another, I think, were 127,000 pamphlets) and for religious education. He started an orphanage that took care of over 10,000 orphans. Distributed over 8 million in U.S. dollars in answer to prayer. He never asked for money, never asked, but God always provided it for him.


We get so focused in the church, “I’ve got to have this.” “We’ve got to do this, and get this money.” And, “Well, if I do this, this ministry may get the money.” Come on, folks, we’ve got to join together and press together, press together, press together. As we see ministries coming together, as we see God’s people coming together, certainly we will know it’s the end of time here.


He started over 117 schools and helped educate 120,000 children. How did he do it? What did he do? Well, let’s check it out. In his own words, “I never remember…a period…that I ever sincerely and patiently sought to know the will of God by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of the Word of God, but I have always been directed rightly.” Patiently, sincerely searching the Scriptures, asking God to speak to him from the Scriptures. It is God’s Word. It is God’s truth. It is life because it’s getting to know Him.


He says, “But if honesty of heart and uprightness before God were lacking, or if I did not patiently wait upon God for instruction, or if I preferred the counsel of my fellow men to the declarations of the Word of the living God, I made great mistakes.” Hmm, there we go back to Sabbath School, “I think this,” and, “I think that,” and “I think this.” Let’s give Scripture, let’s give Scripture.


He allowed God to use all there was of George Muller. This is where his success was. He understood the statement, “God’s revelation of His activity is an invitation for me to adjust my life to Him and join Him in His work.” Now, on the subway, you better pass your stop, you better spend time with that person. God will take care of the rest. “I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter.” “I do not leave the result of feeling or simple impression.” “I seek the will of the Spirit of God through or in the connection with the Word of God.” There is his success.


God has a right to interpret my life, brothers and sisters. He is the Lord. When I accept Him as Lord, I give Him the right to help Himself to my life anytime He wants. We’ve kind of forgotten that these days. The devil has done a good job of clouding the situations.


“Let a living faith run through like threads of gold through the performance of even the smallest duties. Then all the daily work will promote Christian growth. There will be a continual looking unto Jesus. Love for Him will give vital force to everything that is undertaken. Thus, through the right use of our talents, we may link ourselves by a golden chain to the higher world. This is true sanctification; for sanctification,” listen to this, “consists of the cheerful performance of daily duties in perfect obedience to the will of God.”


“However small your talent, God has a place for it. That one talent, wisely used, will accomplish its appointed work. By faithfulness in little duties, we are to work on the plan of addition,” and I love this, “and God will work for us on the plan of multiplication.” He’s God, the Creator of the universe. He can do that! “These littles will become the most precious influences in His work.” Wow! A promise from God, the little things that we do will become the most precious in all of His work.


May you find today spiritual peace and abundant blessing as you go with God. How many today want to go with God, change your lives, allow God to work in you, become His true servant? Amen. Let’s have a prayer.


Father, I want to thank You so much today for Your incredible love. Lord, we want to be Your servants. The devil has blindfolded us and masked what You really want. But today, Father, You have revealed to us a true servant, one who allows You to take full control, allows You to take over. Thank You, Father, so much. Be with each one of us today. Take control. Change us. Mold us into Your image. Use us in the way that You want us to go, Lord, please. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


I’ve got to share one more story with you, quick story. A fellow is driving down the road, going down the road. He sees a hitchhiker. He stops; he opens the door. He says, “Come on, get in.” The hitchhiker says, “No, no, no, no, no.” “Come on, get in. You wanted a ride, didn’t you?” “Yes.” “Well, come on, get in.” “No, no, no, no.” “Well, what do you want?!” The hitchhiker says, “I want to drive.” Brothers and sisters, God wants to drive your life. He doesn’t want to be a passenger.


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