Sunday, 21 July 2013

Go and Serve the Lord

Go and Serve the Lord!
by John Edwards

"All things are possible to him that 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 pretty good about my car.

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

I ignored 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 exactly 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,” He said.

“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'm not going to chuck-in a perfectly good job and go on the dole,” I said.

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

So I gave notice in my job.  Then after work I drove over to my friend's house who I felt led to give my car to.

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

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

I got back in my car and sat there wondering what to do. I still felt sure it was God who had been leading me.  

"Surely I shouldn’t go home now and just forget the whole thing?" I thought to myself, as I turned the key in the ignition. 

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

So I got out and lifted the bonnet and phoned for RACQ roadside assistance.  The breakdown mechanic arrived, and pretty soon he got the motor running again.  And as we were closing the bonnet again - just as the mechanic was leaving - my friend arrived home.

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

I didn’t quite know how to tell him I was there to give him my car, so I didn’t mention it.  

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” I thought to myself.

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 thought I was only joking and threw the keys back.

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

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

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.”

After I finished showing him over the car, he looked up at me from the driver's seat and said, "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. 

Chapter 2

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

I'd told my boss I'd work two more days. So when I arrived home, I asked my mother if she could drop me down the road in the morning.

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

“Why - where’s your car?” asked mum.

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

It was even harder telling my father.  It took me a couple of days! 

One afternoon dad was lying on the bed watching sports on TV.  Finally I walked into his room and said 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.”  As I waited for his reaction I was glad he was already lying down!

 But all he said was: “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'd had nothing to worry about after all.

I had a sense in my heart that I was meant 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, how I’d be given any opportunities to preach,  and 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 I'd really go out on the edge – I started giving all my savings away.  I even thought about selling my house and paying out the loan then giving away whatever was left. I was on a real roll!

But at that point, God said, "Stop. Keep the house."

At first I felt relieved. But then it dawned on me what this meant: it meant that somehow I would need to come up with the money each and every week to make the loan repayment. 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. But I already knew God would never fail me.

Instead of stepping-out straightaway on my journey, I decided to spend some days strengthening my heart.  I knew I would be certain to face some challenges to this new lifestyle of faith along the way, so I decided to spend some time imagining every possible challenge I might encounter, and decided ahead of time what my response should be. 

As the Lord Jesus said:

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

So I decided two things: I decided I would never ask anyone for money for my personal needs; and I decided I would never ask anyone for somewhere to preach. Since it was God's idea not mine that I step out in this new lifestyle of faith, I decided I could leave those matters to Him too. 

While I was packing my backpack one day and thinking about what to take with me, my dad pointed-out that I might soon need a new pair of shoes. Straightway on the  inside of me I sensed, “It will be provided.”

I also desired to take a guitar.  But again on the inside I sensed, “No – it will be provided.”

I reached a point where 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

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

I felt like how I imagined Abraham may have felt, when 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 night time when I arrived in that first quiet country town.  I didn't know a single soul.  I found a caravan park and put up my tent.  

As I lay back in my tent that first night, I started thinking about everything I'd just done. 

"I've given-up my job, my car, my savings, my family, my friends, and ministry; I've still got a mortgage to pay-off; I don't know where I'm going to get money or food from; and I've come out here where nothing's organised - just because I believe the Lord sent me. If this wasn't God,  I'm..." I thought to myself.  

But on the inside I felt completely at peace.  And I was soon to find-out that God had everything organized. 

Chapter 3

The first need I had was to meet someone who would allow me to put-up my tent on their property, so I could avoid paying caravan-park fees every night. But first thing in the morning, I decided to look for someone to talk to about Jesus.  

The very first person I met was a man who told me he had just gotten out of jail and was now staying with his mother. After listening to me he said, "I think my mother would like to meet you."

So he took me to their house. They both listened as I shared about the Lord. Then they invited me to put-up my tent in a vacant block just beyond their backyard. 

The Lord provided for my first need through the very first person I met.

One day they took me to visit some friends of theirs. I noticed a guitar leaning up against their lounge room wall.  I picked it up and began to sing: 

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 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.” And they received Jesus into their heart.

God provided a guitar, just as I'd sensed He would - and it was a perfect-size guitar for travelling. 

After several days, my new friends felt it wasn't suitable for me to continue to put-up my tent in the vacant block near their house.  I needed to find an alternative arrangement. 

I felt the Lord lead me to go and stay in the house of the woman and her adult son who had received the Lord and given me the guitar. 

I remembered when the Lord Jesus took the initiative to approach Zacchaeus the tax collector and said:

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

So I went to the house and asked the woman and her adult son. The woman answered that she already felt that she wanted to invite me, but she thought a “man of the cloth” wouldn't want to stay at their house.   

God provided a house for me. I never needed to stay in the tent again.

After a couple of days, another woman asked me to come and spend some time also staying in her house. I wondered whether spending some time elsewhere might save me from becoming a burden on one family.  But I felt no peace about moving. 

I remembered the Scriptures where our 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 decided to remain where I was, and the family was content. I stayed there until the day I left town. 

But when the other woman got the message that I'd decided to remain where I was, she became angry. I soon learned that staying where I was protected me and positioned me for what God had planned.

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.  Some of her friends became interested to come to the house to see what had gotten into her.  This gave me 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.  I realized someone would need to look after them all, after I left town.  So I found the number of a local Pastor in the phonebook, and told him how the lady had received the Lord, and invited him to come and meet everyone.  When the Pastor came, he was thrilled to see how many people were gathered.

He invited me to speak at his youth group the following Saturday.  That night, God filled the youth with joy and with the Holy Spirit. 

Then the Pastor invited me to preach on Sunday morning in his church.  God gave me a prophetic message which encouraged the congregation.   

Next the Pastor took me to preach at a mid-week meeting in a hired hall in a nearby town.  The Holy Spirit blessed many people by the manifestation of His gifts. 

All these doors started opening up!  God gave me some wonderful friendships.  I started feeling attached to the people.

After two weeks in town, I felt it was time to move-on to my next destination. 
The young man who just got out of jail came to say goodbye.  He and his mother gave me a box full of groceries for my journey - and a pair of shoes, which fitted me well. 
God provided my shoes, just as He said he would! 

The next morning, I went outside for a short prayer time.  After praying for about an hour, I thought I better get going, because I had thought to travel on foot to the next town.

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 seemed to interrupt my plans.

That night, a visitor came to the house where I was staying.  It was the youth leader from the church.  He happened to mention that he would be working the next day in the very town where I felt led to go.

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

"How are you getting there?" he asked.

So he offered me a lift.

I understood then why it was that the Holy Spirit had seemed to be holding back - it was only because He had a better plan all along.   

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

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

Then my friend arrived to pick me up.

We went on our way. Again I didn't know where I was going to spend the night. I was about to find-out whether God would meet my needs all over again in yet another town.

                                                                Chapter 4

When we arrived in the next town, the brother asked, "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.

He must have noticed my uncertainty.

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

We arrived at the house where he was to do some work - and as soon as we stepped out of the car, the lady of the house, and her daughter, came up to me and she said, "Hi! It's so good to see you! We've been waiting for you.”

But I couldn't remember whether I'd met them before.

 “Don’t worry," she said, "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 you'll 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 about it, the woman asked, "By the way, what size shoe do you wear?”

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

“Size eight. Why?”

When I said size eight, the woman and her daughter both burst out laughing.  The lady sent her daughter upstairs, and in no time she returned, she said, “Here, try these on”.  She handed me a pair of brown, leather lace-up shoes, which fitted me perfectly - exactly what I'd desired.

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".

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

The Lord answered her, "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."

Before I asked, the Lord answered me!

I shared God's love with a number of families in the area.  

After about four days, I felt it was time to move to the next destination.  I had no idea how I would get to the next town, but I felt I was meant to travel on a specific day of the week.   

Once again, it so happened that someone I had come to know had planned to drive to the very town where I felt led to go, on the very day I felt led to travel. 

He dropped me in the main street of town.  It was a larger town.  But once again, I didn't know a single soul in town. 

Less than two hours later, I was standing behind the pulpit of a local church, in their Sunday night meeting.  The presence of God could be felt - at the close of the meeting, it seemed no-one in the congregation wanted to move from their seat.  And the elders of the church arranged a place for me to stay.  That's how quickly God opened the door.

They asked me to minister in mid-week meetings - and people got saved, and filled with the Spirit - and one of the elders of the church spoke in tongues for the first time.  I also spoke in an outreach in the local State High School - and word started spreading about some healings that occurred.

One day I went for a walk down town, and I noticed I was feeling such a deep feeling of fulfilment in my soul.  I'd been serving God for years - but  now that I was hearing more specifically from God and being led by His Spirit and obeying, I felt a joy such as I hadn't felt for a long time.  Now it felt like I was really serving God.

The Lord again provided someone who happened to be driving to the last town where I felt led to go.  This was the only town where I stayed with a family which I already knew.

I hired a hall belonging to a local church, and advertised revival meetings in the local paper.

By the time I arrived back home, I'd been away five weeks - exactly as I'd felt I would.  In that time, the Lord provided all my accommodation, all my clothes, food, shoes, money, the guitar, and transport from town-to-town; He provided more opportunities for me to minister than I could ever have imagined; He gave me so many lasting friendships - everything I had given up, He gave back to me a hundred-fold. 

And guess how much of my own money I needed to spend during the whole five-week trip? Not one cent.

I thanked God for everything He'd done.  It gave me such a desire to yield to all of the ways and leadings of the Spirit of God.

                                                            Chapter 5

Since then, the Lord Jesus has sent me to many other places and countries, each trip lasting either a few days, a month, a few months or a year.  Everywhere I went, people said to me, "God sent you to us".  He showed me things more wonderful on each trip.  And I never missed s single repayment on my house.

There's another part to this story.  Fourteen after giving away my car, I woke up one morning, and I sensed God was going to give me a car.  While I was still thinking about it, the phone rang - it was a friend, and he said that while he was praying that morning, he felt God was telling him to give me a car. 

A couple of hours later, my friend came to my house, and when I walked outside, there I saw a car - exactly the make as the one I'd given away, only the year of this car meant that it would have been a brand new car in the year the Lord asked me to give mine away.

God has a wonderful tailor-made plan specifically for your life too. If you ask Him to tell you what it is, He will speak to you.  The only real way to achieve our desires, is to lay down our way of achieving them, hear directly from Him, and step out in faith and obedience.

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

And expect an answer within two weeks!

Four steps towards your destiny:

1. Hear directly from God
2. Maintain right relationships
3. Get the timing right
4.  Step out in faith