Self Effort or Faith

But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)

The message Paul preached was not one he learned in seminary. It was not something that he had heard another preacher teach. Paul taught the “revelation of Jesus Christ” that he received from the Holy Spirit during the time he was hidden away in Arabia. The time we spend alone with the Holy Spirit will make the difference between our being a voice in the earth or just another powerless echo.

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. (Galatians 1:15-18)

Far too many preachers today have become an echo of what someone else has said. There are even services that will provide weekly sermon notes for a minimal monthly fee. Many denominational ministers take advantage of these services because their schedules do not allow the time necessary to properly prepare a weekly sermon. Paul did not preach from a sermon prepared from someone else. He preached the revelation received while spending time in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Our hearts are in the right place. The seeming lack of power in most churches today tells us that something is not right. Our priorities are out of place if our schedule is too full for time in prayer and meditation in the Word.

Paul exhorts us to present our bodies as living sacrifices in Romans 12:1. It we are not completely surrendered to God He will not be able to trust us with His plans for our lives. He may reveal parts and pieces of it but we will never discover the full plan without full surrender. Jesus told His disciple to not depart until they received the power of the Holy Spirit. We will only create a mess if we try to accomplish the plan without the anointing. Jesus knew this and this is why He told them to wait before launching out. They did wait and thousands were added to the Church immediately after the first sermon was delivered as a result. The person who does not wait will not be able to stand against the strategies of Satan. Jesus told us that the enemy will work in our lives to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). When we discover the plan of God, we will have a target placed on us. The enemy will work to destroy us. He will succeed if we are impatient and run out without the anointing.

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)

Satan is focused on people who successfully discover and step into the plan of God. They are the ones who will do the most damage to his Kingdom. God is not hiding His will from us. He will only reveal it in the amount we are able to handle though. This is why many people struggle with the journey of discovering His plan. They try and skip the time needed to prepare their hearts to receive and therefore can only handle bits and pieces. God does not want to reveal His plan when we are spiritually unable to receive it because He knows that will result in us launching out in our own abilities. Self-effort will never enable us to accomplish the plan of God. This journey will require a complete dependence on the Holy Spirit. This requires us to be completely surrendered.

Walking in the plan of God will require faith. Faith is dependent on the Word of God. If we are not walking in faith, we are walking in self-effort. Spiritual strength accompanies strong faith that is built on the foundation of God’s Word. God wants us to succeed and accomplish His plan. It is not easy to wait. God loves us more than any of us can imagine. He will move by His Spirit in accordance to our faith. God is love (1 John 4:8). Everything that we receive from Him comes through His love for us. He is not a hard taskmaster like Satan. Satan will use us up and then discard us. It is possible to achieve some level of success without God. This will not result in us living fulfilled lives. If we achieve success by riding on someone else’s coattail or by knocking open door we are not ready to walk through, we will be dooming ourselves to failure. Our society is becoming more and more focused on instant gratification. This is not the way of God. Waiting goes against the grain of the world’s system but it is the way that leads into the plan of God. The Holy Spirit will increase our capacity to receive as we wait in His presence.

The first step in our journey of discovering the plan of God is to present our bodies as living sacrifices. If we are unable to surrender to Him then we will not succeed in our journey. Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices means we die to our self-nature and selfish ambitions. The old timers called this “dying to self”. It is not an easy path, but it is the path that will lead us into the plan of God. People pray for God to open doors and use them. The doors may not have been opened though because we have not taken the time to prepare ourselves. Death is never a popular subject. The flesh wants to be seen. It wants people to talk about how wonderful it is. Our flesh craves attention from other people and gets offended when it does not get it. Paul told us to present our bodies as living sacrifices. A sacrifice is placed on the altar. Can you imagine a sacrifice changing its mind after it arrived on the altar? The sacrifice is at the mercy of the person presenting it. We present our bodies as living sacrifices. We have a freewill and have been given the right to choose to either keep our flesh on the altar or to let it off. The flesh will cry and moan as it dies. Can you imagine a sacrifice being placed alive on an altar and not crying and moaning as it dies?

We were all born with our self-nature. This can be seen in a newborn baby. Babies are sweet but they are also completely focused on their needs. They will never think twice about keeping their parents awake at night. Babies are one hundred percent self-centered from the day they are born. It is sad that so many people have never grown out of this self-centeredness! If we are going to succeed in our journey, we will have to place our flesh on the altar. This is key to being able to overcome the flesh.

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