Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Go and Serve the Lord!

Go and Serve the Lord!
by John Edwards

"All things are possible to him which believeth" (Mark 9:23).

I was driving to work one day, just like any ordinary day.

I'd just had the motor reconditioned, the mag wheels polished, the air-conditioner restored and a sound-system with a five-band graphic equalizer installed – so I was feeling quite good about my car.

Then unexpectedly the words came to me, “...give it away...”

I tried ignoring it and kept driving.

But the words came again: “Give it away.”

So I said, “Ok Lord, I'll give it away – on the weekend”.

“No, after work today will be fine,” He said.

And I knew who I had to give it to.

Then after I got to work, God started speaking to me again:

“It’s time you gave notice in your job.”

“What do you want me to do?” I asked.

Straightaway He showed me a vision of Australia with pathways criss-crossed all over it.

“Just go wherever I tell you to go, and preach the Gospel,” He said.

“How am I going to live without an income?” I said, “I'm not going to chuck-in a perfectly good job and go on the dole!”

“You won't need to. Just trust me - I'll provide everything,” He said.

So I gave notice in my job, agreeing with my boss to work just two more days. Then after work I drove over to my friend's house who I felt led to give my car to.

I knocked on the front door. But no-one was home!

“Well there you go – this wasn’t God after all,” I thought to myself, “Pity about the job – but at least you've still got the car.”

I sat back in my car, wondering what to do. I still felt sure it was God who had been leading me. So, surely I shouldn’t go home now and just forget the whole thing? It made me wonder what was going to happen next.

And would you believe - the car wouldn't start!

So I got out and lifted the bonnet, and phoned for breakdown service.

The mechanic arrived, and pretty soon got the motor running again. And just as he was leaving - just as we were closing the bonnet again - my friend arrived home.

“Oh John, what are you doing here?” he asked.

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” I thought to myself. (I didn’t quite know how to tell him that I was there to give him my car, so I didn’t mention a thing about it yet.)

My friend invited me in, and the very first thing he said to me was:

“John, my wife and I have been praying - we're really asking God to give us a car.”

That was so good to hear! A confirmation.

So I threw him the car keys and said, “She's all yours then”.

He smiled and threw the keys back.

“You've prayed for a car – so it's yours,” I explained, and I threw the keys back to him again.

“Very funny,” he said, handing the keys back to me.

There we were, handing the keys backwards and forwards – yet I couldn't convince him I was serious.

So I said, “Look, come out, sit in the car – there’s a few things I'll need to show you.”

Sitting in the driver's seat, he looked up at me and said one last time, “You are joking – aren’t you?”

So while my friend was praising God for the answer to he and his wife’s prayer, I caught a bus and a train home, feeling full of joy at the way God was leading me.

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy telling my parents what I’d done.

After I arrived home, I asked my mother if she would drop me down the road the next morning.

“I’m getting picked-up for work in the morning by a friend,” I explained.

“Why - where’s your car?” she asked.

“I’ve given it away – and I’ve quit my job,” I said.

It wasn't any easier telling my father - it took me a couple of days. One afternoon dad was lying on his bed watching sports on TV. I finally walked into his room, and began nervously:

“Dad, there's something I need to tell you. I’ve quit my job and given my car away – I’m going to go and do something for God.” (I was glad he was already lying down.)

Then he said, “That's nice son - it'll be good for you to do something different”.

And he didn’t even take his eyes off the TV the whole time.

So I had nothing to worry about after all!

I had a sense in my heart that I was to go to four towns, on my first trip - and that I was to take five weeks to do it.

The only problem was – I didn’t know anyone in any of the towns, except for the last town.

So I had no idea where I would stay, how I would eat, whether or not I’d be given any opportunities to preach anywhere, or how I’d even be able to travel from town to town.

I would simply have to step out in faith, trusting God alone for everything.

So I decided to really go out on the edge – and I started giving all my cash savings away. I was on a real roll!

I even thought about selling my house and paying out the loan, then giving away whatever was left. But on the inside, God seemed to say, “Stop – keep the house.”

At first I felt relieved. But then it dawned on me what this would mean. Somehow, somewhere, I would need to find the money each and every week for the loan repayments. I realized it was going to take more faith to keep the house than it would to give it away.

“But if I ever miss one repayment on my house, I’m going back to work,” I resolved.

Rather than step-out straightaway, I spent the next few weeks preparing my heart. I remembered Jesus’ words:

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish…So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:28-30,33).

I knew I would encounter various challenges along the way on this new journey of faith – so I decided to prepare my heart by deciding ahead of time what my response should be to any imaginable challenge that might come.

I also came across some biographies of men and women who started great things for God from similar, small beginnings. I noticed that each of them heard directly from God, then stepped-out in faith – often without any visible means of support.

While I was packing my tent into a backpack, it was suggested that I would need a new pair of shoes before too long.

But on the inside of me I felt, “It will be provided.”

I also wanted to take a guitar – but again on the inside I felt, “No – it will be provided.”

I also decided that I would never ask anyone for somewhere to preach; nor ever ask anyone for money for my personal needs. This new lifestyle of faith was entirely God's agenda – not my own – so I decided I could leave those needs with God also.

The day came where I bought a one-way bus ticket, and with the moral support of my family, my pastor and friends – I said goodbye, and left.

I was really looking forward to literally proving the Scripture:

“Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat” (Matthew 10:9-10).

And I felt like Abraham, where it says:

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles [tents]…” (Hebrews 11:8,9).

It was nighttime when I arrived, and I didn't know a single soul in town. I found the local caravan park, and put up my tent.

As I lay back in the tent that night, I started thinking about everything I'd just done. I'd left my job, my car, my savings, my family, my friends, and a promising ministry, I still had a mortgage to pay-off - and I've come out here where nothing's organized, just because I believe the Lord sent me.

"If this wasn't God, I'm an....." I thought to myself.

Inside, however, I felt completely at peace. I was soon to find-out that God had everything organized.

Seeing I had no regular source of income, I was trusting the Lord to provide someone who might welcome me to put-up my tent on their property - rather than pay caravan-park fees every night.

So in the morning, I decided to look for someone to tell about Jesus. And the very first person I met - a young man who happened to have just got out of jail - thought his mother might like to meet me. So I went with him to their house, and after talking about the Lord, they invited me to put-up my tent in a vacant block just beyond their backyard, where I wouldn't have to pay caravan-park fees. God so quickly provided for my first need!

One day they took me to visit a friend of theirs, and I noticed a guitar leaning up against the wall. I picked it up, and began to sing the song:

To get a touch from the Lord is so real!
To get a touch from the Lord is so real!
If you draw nigh to Him,
He will draw nigh to you.
To get a touch from the Lord is so real!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus is passing, is passing your way.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus is passing your way.

Their friend felt so touched, she began to weep. With tears in her eyes she said, “I want you to have that guitar. And wherever you go, sing for the Lord, and remember me.”

God provided my second desire - a perfect-size guitar for travelling! But even better than that, the lady also received Jesus into her heart for the first time.

A few days later, the people near whose house I had put-up my tent, began to feel that it was no longer a suitable place for me. So I needed to find another arrangement. On the inside, I felt the Lord leading me to go and stay with the woman who gave me the guitar, the lady who had just received the Lord.

I might have felt a little hesitant to ask, had I not remembered the story where Jesus said to the tax collector:

"Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down, for today I must abide at thy house" (Luke 19:5).

So I went to the woman to ask if I could stay at her house. She answered that she had already desired to ask me, but she thought a “man of the cloth” would refuse to stay in her house. She and her adult son were more than happy to have me move-in and stay with them at their house.

God quickly moved me from the tent to a house - and I never again needed to stay in the tent.

Another person also asked me to move to her house - but I felt no peace about it. Even though it may have seemed like it could have given me the opportunity to avoid imposing on one household for too long, I remembered the Scriptures where the Lord instructed His apostles:

"And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence" (Matt 10:11);

"And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house" (Luke 10:7).

So I stayed with the lady and her adult son, whose heart the Lord had opened to receive Him, and who had given me her guitar - for the remainder of my time in town.

The other person became irritated when I decided to remain in the house where I was. And there was also another reason why I ended-up feeling that I'd made a good choice.

News began to spread quickly that this hardened old lady - who apparently had a bit of a reputation around town - had not only given away a gift (her guitar), but had also received a preacher into her house. Quite a few of her acquaintances became interested to come to the house and see what had gotten into her. I had the opportunity to share the love of God with each one who came.

Pretty soon we ended-up with enough people to hold a home-meeting. So I found the number of a local Pastor in the phonebook, and invited him to come and look after them all. When he came, he rejoiced to see how many people were gathered.

The Pastor had a youth-meeting the following Saturday, so he invited me to speak. The youth were really rejoicing when they got filled with the Holy Spirit.

So the Pastor invited me to preach in his church on Sunday morning. And then he took me to speak at a mid-week meeting in a hired-hall in a neighbouring town.

All these doors to preach started opening up. There was a lot of joy as the Holy Spirit gave me a prophetic word for the church, and as the Holy Spirit manifested with other gifts in every meeting, and as people came to the Lord and were saved.

After two weeks in town, I felt the time had come to move-on to my next destination. It felt hard to leave the many new friendships I'd made. The day before I planned to leave, the young man who just got out of jail came to say goodbye. He and his mother gave me a box full of groceries - and a pair of shoes, which fitted me well.

So God provided my shoes, just as He said he would.

I got up early the next morning, and went outside for a short prayer time before leaving on my journey. The next town that I felt led to go was more than 25km away, and I thought I would have to travel the distance by foot. So after praying for about an hour, I thought I better start going.

But immediately I felt an inner resistance, which seemed to say, "No, pray another hour."

So I prayed a second hour, and then I said, "Well, Lord - I better go now."

But again I felt the same inner resistance, "No, pray another hour."

So I prayed a third hour, and then I said, "Okay, Lord - I really better get going now." I didn't want it to be dark when I arrived in the next town.

But still I felt that firm, inner resistance, as if He was saying, "No, pray another hour."

So I prayed a fourth hour - and by the end of it, I knew there wasn't enough time left in the day to travel. So I went back inside the house, not knowing why the Lord had seemed to interrupt my plans.

But that night, at the house where I was staying, the lady and her adult son received a visitor. It was the youth leader from the church - and he happened to mention that he would be working the next day in the very town where I felt led to go to next.

So I said, "Oh, I'm going there tomorrow."

"How are you getting there?" he asked.

So he offered to give me a lift.

Then I realized why it seemed like God had been holding me back from walking there - He had a better idea all along.

The Lord was teaching me that the quickest way to get to where the Holy Spirit is leading me to go, often requires laying down my own understanding and plans.

The next morning, while I was packing my things to go, I thought to myself, “I’d really like a pair of brown, leather, lace-up shoes to go with these jeans.”

The brother and I travelled to the next town, and as we were arriving, he said, "So where would you like me to drop you?"

This little town was even smaller than the one I'd just left. It had only one traffic intersection - with a post office on one corner, a shop on another corner, and a pub and a phone booth on the other.

“Well I'm working at a house just up the road - why don't you just come with me first..." he offered.

We arrived at his work-site, and just as we were stepping out of the car, the lady of the house, with her daughter, said to me, "Hi! It's so good to see you! We've been waiting for you.”

I wasn't quite sure if I'd met them before or not.

So she said, “Don’t worry - you don't know us. But we know you! We are Christians, and we were praying, and the Lord showed us your face in a vision, and He told us you'd be wearing a red shirt and that you'd be coming soon, and that we are to look after you. Where are you staying?"

I was wearing a bright, red shirt that day.

While I was wondering whether this was the Lord's provision, she asked, "By the way, what size shoe do you wear?”

What a strange question, coming from a stranger, I thought.

“Size eight. Why?”

When I said size eight, the woman and her daughter both burst out laughing. The lady sent her daughter upstairs, and when she returned, she said, “Here, try these on”. And she handed me a pair of brown, leather lace-up shoes, which fitted me perfectly. It was exactly what I'd desired, before leaving town.

The lady explained that when she was shopping a few weeks earlier, she saw these shoes in the shop, and the Lord said to her, "Buy them".

But she said, "What for Lord? No-one in my family can wear that size."

And the Lord answered, "Because someone's coming soon, and when he does, you're to give them to him - and you're to look after him when he arrives."

That was three weeks before I even got there. Before I asked, the Lord answered me.

After some good times ministering around that area, God again provided my way to the next town. I didn't know anyone when I arrived, but less than two hours later, I was standing behind the pulpit of the local Uniting Church in their Sunday night service. The presence of the Holy Spirit touched the congregation. And the elders arranged a place for me to stay.

A number of people were saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues, including an elder in the church. I was also given the opportunity to speak in mid-week meetings and in a High School, and word started to get around about the healings that occurred.

I noticed a feeling of deep satisfaction in my soul. Before starting this trip, I had always thought I was serving God. But now that I was hearing more specifically from God and obeying His voice, the feeling of fulfillment and joy was deeper than anything I'd felt for some time. It felt as if now I was really serving God, the way I was meant to. .

The Lord again provided someone who was driving to the last town – this time the only town where I already knew someone. We hired a hall for revival meetings and advertised in the local newspaper.

The Lord provided all my food, clothes, shelter, shoes, money, the guitar, transport, and opened more doors for me to preach than I could ever have imagined - and I met many wonderful people. And guess how much of my own money I needed to spend during the whole five-week trip? Not one cent.

Now Jesus has sent me to many places and countries, each trip lasting either a few days, a month, or over a year. In every place people said to me, “God sent you to us.” I experienced fulfillment in ministry. And I never missed one repayment on my house.

God has a wonderful tailor-made plan specifically for your life too. If you ask for it, and if you are willing, you will find it. Accept that He has a unique plan for you. Often we need to lay aside our own plan and ask, before He reveals His plans for us.

Ask God today, “What do you want me to do?”

And expect an answer within two weeks!

Four steps towards you destiny:

1. Hear directly from God

2. Maintain right relationships

3. Get the timing right

4. Step out in faith

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