Now I just love that word adjustment. Adjustment. I know it is uncomfortable and disconcerting to have the sense that everything you thought you knew is wrong (or at best, incomplete), and God shows you a different way, a more excellent way, and usually that “way” is not a way that you would have chosen or come to on your own. It is not a process that anyone particularly enjoys going through.
Even so, we are all in need of a major adjustment. I have a saying that has served me well through the years, and I’d like to share it with you now: the purpose of revelation is not to SUBSTANTIATE your illusions, but to ELIMINATE them. Do not seek confirmation from God as to your thoughts and your perception of things, but seek instead to be disillusioned; seek to be rid of all your illusions about God, all your misperceptions and misconceptions about Who He is and what He is doing. Seek to know Him and His Will no matter how contrary it seems to everything you have heard and learned and experienced up to this point.
The Bible calls us to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus; and this growth is only possible through revelation. With this revelation comes adjustment, and that adjustment is continuous and it is ongoing, until we are perfectly and completely aligned with God’s heart and mind, His purpose, His Will, and His Kingdom.
Repentance, in its truest sense, is an adjustment of the heart, an adjustment of the mind, the thoughts, and the attitudes of the soul; and this leads (or should lead), to an adjustment in terms of things we used to do that we no longer do, or things we have not been doing that we begin to do. It is a revelation of something that leads to a change of heart, which causes a change of mind, which results in a change of behavior and must result in a change of direction. That is repentance. Not this crying of tears and making of resolutions, only to go out and do the same things over and over again. But repentance is an utter adjustment to God – an adjustment to His Purpose, His mind, His heart, His will.
Because, you understand, that God will never – and has never – adjusted Himself to us. That is to say, that God will never settle for something less than His full thought, His full intention. He is after something, and He will never compromise Himself or lower His expectation to better suit our wishes. Obviously God’s Kingdom and God’s Will is not going to be centered around what we want, or what we expect. And that is why we pray, “Your Kingdom come, and Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” I have found it is impossible to pray this every day, and make this the focus of your prayer life, and still expect things to go according to your own will. It’s just not possible. Prayer is adjustment, and if you are not adjusted through prayer then you haven’t really prayed.
“Not my will but Your will be done” – that is the ultimate in adjustment. Even Jesus found Himself in an agonizing situation where He found it necessary to utter these words to God in prayer: “Not My will but Your will be done”. I have never once heard the Lord say to me, “Well Chip, I hadn’t thought about that. You make a good point. Now that you bring it up, your way does sound better after all! I’m going to adjust Myself to your will.” Never once has He done that, and I know Him well enough by now to say unequivocally that He will never adjust Himself to suit my expectation and He will never adjust Himself or adjust His eternal purpose to suit you or your expectation either. Instead, He will constantly challenge us to deny our own will, and our own thoughts, and our own perceived wishes and wants and needs and to be adjusted to Him; to leave our ground altogether and come onto His ground.
Now, if you have ever experienced this adjustment from the Lord, then you know that it is a continual process. You and I are in constant need of being adjusted to God. We tend to be double-minded and unstable. Our scattered thoughts are often troubled and conflicted. Our foolish hearts are filled with self-centeredness and self-seeking.
Even in our holiest moments, when we think we are really pursuing God and really doing His will, so many times we are really pursuing our own agenda and it just so happens that what I want, and what I think God wants, are the same thing! But you know, that can be so deceptive. Is there a single Christian on the face of the earth that doesn’t believe, truly believe, that the thing they are doing is God’s will? Would you ever intentionally do something that you knew was not God’s will? Well if you did you would know it was sin, but I’m referring to the many good things that we do and in particular I’m speaking to those of us who feel called of God into some kind of ministry capacity.
Is there a single person pursuing their ministry who does not believe one hundred percent that this is God’s will for them? Well, the thought never crosses their minds, “God called me and this is the thing I am pursuing for Him.” Now, I’ve done it, many of you have done it, and may I say that puts us in a very precarious position. It puts us in a place where we are so sure, so positive, so certain that we are doing the right thing, that we are no longer adjustable.
The work of the Lord becomes more important to us than the Lord of the work. And some people cannot even tell the difference between the two; to them, the work of the Lord and the Lord of the work is one and the same thing. Well, I am saying that there is a difference between the two; between the work of the Lord and the Lord of the work. And I have to confess that I have spent most of my life, since the time I was twelve years old, pursuing this thing called “the ministry”.
God began to radically adjust me over ten years ago and that adjustment was so severe, so penetrating, that I was forced out of the denomination I had been a part of for sixteen years. You’ve probably read or heard my testimony before; I’m not going to bore you with it again now. The point is that God began a process of adjustment in us and that process is on-going. It is continual. But you have to be open to that process of adjustment – and so few people are. They cannot and will not be adjusted by me, by God, by anyone else. Maybe they are called, maybe they are gifted, but the very thing that God calls them to, the very thing that they are gifted in, becomes a snare to them. It becomes a trap. It becomes a distraction from Jesus.
Now, how many people do I have to bring up from the Bible to get you to see this? You can look at Abraham. There is the son of promise, Isaac, and in Isaac rests everything God has called Abraham to do and to be. And then God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, “Yes, you heard Me correctly: give him up. Give him back to Me.” And the argument, of course, would go along these lines: “Well God, you gave me this son, this son is a miracle! This son represents Your covenant and Your promise and everything is riding on Isaac. Now You say ‘Sacrifice Isaac to Me as a burnt offering.’ It doesn’t make sense! This can’t be You! How could You do this to me?” Now Abraham didn’t say a word, he just began to carry out the instructions, but if he was a human being he certainly had thoughts along these lines. Is there anyone listening to me now that would not question God’s will if it called for you to give up your only child or any of your children? Are you so pious and spiritual that you would accept it without question and begin to carry it out? No, you would question it and so would I! And it’s very doubtful that we would do it.
But what is the principle? That the very thing that God calls you to, the very thing He gives you, can become a snare. I don’t know one man in ten thousand, myself included, that would do what Abraham was called to do. What is the application to you and to me? That God demands we give up the thing we love most. The thing we love most, even if it is a good thing, even if it is something He gave to us, can become an idol if we permit it. And that is the sad legacy and tragedy of many churches, ministries, works done for God. They will all be burned up and revealed as nothing but straw.
Now there’s nothing wrong with Isaac. Isaac was good, faithful, obedient – the joy of his father’s heart. And in the same way there is nothing wrong with the call of God and the gift of God; nothing wrong with having a ministry if it is a true expression of Christ. It has nothing to do with the ministry, it has everything to do with the minister. The message may even be a good message but often the messenger leaves so much to be desired. The prophecy may be technically correct, but the prophet, the person, is absolutely out of order.
I experienced this a few weeks ago, “Brother Chip, read my prophecy, tell me what you think.” Well, that is a dangerous thing to ask me to do, especially when you aren’t really looking for the truth. I would rather not tell you what I think about anything because more times than not, that will be the end of a friendship. But she said, “Brother Chip, read my prophecy and tell me what you think.” I didn’t know her very well so I said, “Okay, I’ll read it and I’ll tell you what I think.” And the Spirit of the Lord gave me discernment. Not only did I see it the way He saw it, I knew that this person would not accept my counsel. And actually that made it easier for me, I knew then I could just tell her the truth, she could reject it and we could go our separate ways. So here’s what I said. I said: “The prophecy is technically correct. The Scriptures are in order. There’s nothing wrong with the prophecy; nothing wrong with the word per se, but there is much that is lacking in the prophet.” And I went through step by step and gave her three or four areas that were out of order in her life: the way she was going about her idea of ministry; her religious spirit; her hypocrisy; all of that. See, I didn’t deal with the word, I dealt with the person giving the word. And predictably, she rejected all my counsel, called me a lot of ugly names, and in doing so she fulfilled everything I had spoken over her and didn’t even realize it. Well, she got more than she bargained for, didn’t she? I think she could have handled my criticism of her word but she could not handle any kind of adjustment upon her heart, her mind, or her actions.
Now maybe you can understand why I do not speak in churches any more, and hardly ever speak to homegroups any more. That is the kind of penetrating adjustment that few people are willing to submit themselves to. They will offer God anything except what He asks them for. They will protect Isaac with their last breath if necessary, rather than sacrifice him. Isn’t that the natural instinct? “Well, this is the promise of God! This represents a ministry that will bless the nations. We’ve been meeting in homes for twenty-five years or this church is one hundred years old and God forbid that we would ever sacrifice it or let it go or even question its existence. Our whole life has been poured out to bring us to this place and now we have what God has promised and you’re saying that we have to give it up. Well we will not give it up. We will not sacrifice Isaac.” And at that moment it dies. Why? Because it no longer has the mark of the Cross upon it.
The mark of the Cross means we willingly sacrifice whatever God requires of us and we trust Him to raise it from the dead in a time and season of His choosing, or, to resurrect something else, something better in its place. And if you read the story of Abraham you see that is exactly what happened. He gave Isaac back to God and God renewed His covenant with Abraham and gave Isaac back to him. Well, if you know anything about the principle of the Cross then you can easily see the lesson here with Abraham and if not, then I pray God will open your eyes to the truth. “Unless a corn of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, if it dies, if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” Where does the fruitfulness come from? It comes from the dying, the laying down of Self.
God brings life out of death and to get us onto resurrection ground He must take us through the work of the Cross. Never mind your ministry, or your gifts, or your calling, if the mark of the Cross is not on your life, on your very being, then everything you do is tainted with Self. It isn’t pure. There is a mixture. And those of us who are being dealt with along these lines can easily see that impurity in other people. Why? Because God is constantly dealing with that impurity in ourselves.
Well, take a look at Moses. If ever there was someone called and gifted of God, it was Moses! But here’s what you need to understand; hear what I’m saying: the gifts and callings of God are not the issue. The issue is the one who is gifted and called. Can this person be adjusted to God or will they expect everyone and everything else, including God, to be adjusted to them? Will they submit to the Cross or will they tenaciously cling to their self life? Finding gifted brothers and sisters, finding called brothers and sisters is not that difficult. The difficult thing is finding crucified brothers and sisters; people who have accepted that principle of the Cross and have died to their own way.
Moses had God’s gifts. Moses had God’s calling. But he wanted to go about things in his own way. So you see, there was an impurity there. So many are gifted and called, but that does not qualify a person. I would rather see a plain, ordinary person with no discernible gifts and no sense of extraordinary call, but they are broken! They can be adjusted. God can use someone like that; He can do something with someone like that. But called and gifted people have to be broken first before they can be used. You don’t like it, I don’t like it, but there it is in the Word of God.
Moses acted in the strength of his personality. He was true to his gift and true to his calling but God said, “That is not enough. Your gift and your calling is not enough. You need some time in the desert. You’ve been living as a prince of Egypt for so long and you’ve got to stop thinking and behaving like an Egyptian if you want your gift and calling to find its purest expression. The desert will provide you with that adjustment you so desperately need. I want you to know I’m in no hurry. I will not be rushed. I will not work along the lines of your schedule and your timeframe, Moses. Ten years, twenty years, forty years – it makes no difference to Me. I want something from you, and I’m not going to rest until My purpose comes to maturity in you. Then, and only then, can I send you forth as a deliverer of My people, as someone who is not just called but chosen!”
Well, Moses fled Egypt and he had nowhere to go except the wilderness. It was not something he would have chosen for himself. He had to be driven away. And it was all part of the sovereign dealings of God with him. It was very severe. It was very penetrating. And it was very revealing. Moses had a lot of garbage to get rid of. He had a lot of unlearning to do. He spent forty years hidden away in the desert working as a shepherd. In today’s society it would be like saying he was a garbage collector for forty years. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s certainly not glamorous. It’s honest work, but it’s not glamorous. It’s hot, dirty, smelly work, and it’s work most people don’t want to do – especially people who feel called to the ministry, it’s something that they would look down upon. They want a position in a church some place! That’s their training; carry the pastor’s Bible around or do something important! Preach a couple of sermons. See? They haven’t been to the desert. They haven’t spent any time in the wilderness. There’s no death, burial and resurrection operating in their life; still seeking something for them, thinking the whole time that they are really seeking what God wants. And it’s very difficult for someone like that to be adjusted to Something and to Someone other than their preconceived ideas of what the ministry consists of.
The ironic thing is that Moses would turn out to be the greatest prophet in the Old Testament but Moses had to be adjusted first and at the end of those forty years in the desert he was saying “Lord, I can’t speak. Please send somebody else.” And that’s the kind of person that God can use. Forty years of building up, forty years of tearing down and now after eighty years he was broken, and humble, and meek, and pliable, and flexible, and adjustable. That’s the kind of person God can use, someone who does not seek the things but is content to just be hidden. God can trust someone like that. But it never fails that the ones who are so often pushing themselves to the front, wanting to speak, are the ones who don’t have anything worth saying and don’t have anything worth listening to. They’ll crawl halfway around the world to preach a sermon, but they won’t walk across the street to listen to one. There’s no deep secret history with God in the desert. They just have a lust for preaching, or a lust for pastoring, or a lust for being in charge of something. Do you think God is going to endorse that carnal lust for spiritual things? Does that represent the spirit, character and nature of the Lord Jesus?
Jesus says, “That which is of the flesh, is flesh”. And the truth is that many will come to Jesus in that day and say, “Lord, Lord, we did all these things for You” and He will judge all those works as fleshly, carnal, self-serving and self-seeking works. He calls them “workers of iniquity” yet they all call Him Lord! And they are all very busy; out doing things that most ministries do – prophesying in the name of Jesus, casting out demons in the name of Jesus, working miracles in the name of Jesus – if that isn’t ministry then what is it? Isn’t that what Christians so eagerly seek? Prophetic words, power, signs and wonders… isn’t that what we get all excited about? So why isn’t Jesus impressed with that? The bottom line is the work of the Lord became more important than the Lord of the work. “I never knew you” He says, and the point of that is there is no abiding relationship with Jesus. No intimacy. No communion. No prayer life. No seeking the Scriptures. No seeking His will or His kingdom – only a carnal seeking for themselves and for their so-called “ministries”. It doesn’t stop them from doing works in His name, but if those works do not lead anyone into a deeper knowing of Christ, then in God’s estimation they are workers of iniquity, because you cannot lead anyone else to a place that you have never been to yourself.
Well, it’s something to think about and I’m not suggesting that I am perfectly adjusted to God’s purpose and intention as it relates to true spiritual ministry. I still need that adjustment on a daily basis. But I apologize to Him and I apologize to you for those times when I have failed to represent Him properly. I have repented of that and I will continue to seek His face and His will until I am perfectly adjusted to Him in every respect. The truth is, I am not a pastor. I am not someone who can bring you a message every week. I am not a theologian who can untangle all the doctrinal nuances, and unravel all the different opinions and questions people have along the lines of theology or doctrine. I am a watchman first, and a teacher second. And I can only speak what God gives me to say, when He gives it to me.
The idea of having a daily word or a weekly webcast or a monthly teaching is good, and it’s noble, but truthfully I think it reflects back upon a pastoral mindset that God has not called me to. It’s like I’m afraid if I don’t keep putting something out there then somebody’s going to slip away; slip away from God or slip away from me I don’t know which, but either way, I’m not responsible for your spiritual growth and development. I am responsible to point you to Christ and to proclaim God’s eternal counsels and purposes concerning His Son, and to be an instrument of adjustment in your life. That is the public side of this ministry.
The private side, the hidden side, is to minister to the Lord with prayer. Period. I’m called to be with Jesus. That’s my calling. My gift is Christ Himself. He is my Gift. That is what I want to be reduced to.
Now all these other activities have their place but those activities are not Christ, and those activities can very well take the place of Christ if we are not careful. I think if you sum it all up, I sense the absolute necessity for me – and for you, because we’re just the same – we need to be governed by the Holy Spirit. That is the key: governed by the Holy Spirit. Now that answers all the questions about what to do, where to go, what to say, when to do this thing or that thing, or if to do this thing or that thing. It is not a question of schedule or time, or the demands and expectations of other people. If that is what I am to be governed by, then I may as well take a church someplace, announce my sermon a week in advance and follow a predictable path. But that, in my opinion, is not what it means to be governed by the Holy Spirit.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is one thing. But being governed by the Holy Spirit is something else.
I have been filled with the Holy Spirit for most of my life. I can point to a day and a time when I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts that accompany that Spirit baptism. That does not mean that I have always been governed by that indwelling Spirit. Now how about you? You may be filled with the Spirit but you may not be governed by the Spirit, and that explains why charismatic people, prophetic people, are some of the most carnal people you will ever meet in your life.
The Bible says we must be continually filled with the Spirit. Paul says, “Be not drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit”. And that word “be filled” is a verb of continual action in the Greek. It means to continuously be filled, be being filled, or be continuously filled. Same thing with eating or drinking Christ: “He who continues to eat My flesh and continues to drink My blood will have Life” He says. This isn’t a matter of having some kind of an experience at the altar or some kind of supposed manifestation of God’s presence in your flesh. It is a matter of continuous living and abiding and dwelling and continuing in Christ moment by moment. And if you will come under the government of the Holy Spirit, He will bring you back around to this principle of abiding in Christ and accepting the work of the Cross over, and over and over again. That is the path the Holy Spirit brings you back to.
Now that is the direction of the Spirit and He will work with you a good long while towards that end, but if you continually refuse that government, then the Spirit is grieved and will eventually depart. And I think that accounts for those multitudes of people who call Jesus “Lord” and do things in His name but don’t really know Who He is. If your only evidence of a Spirit-filled life is something you experienced back in 1968 in a camp meeting someplace then something is seriously wrong. A Spirit-filled person is either under the government of the Holy Spirit or is moving towards that government. Standing still or going back is not an option. Be continuously filled with the Spirit. And you can believe whatever you like about works but the bottom line is the fruit of the Spirit or the lack thereof, demonstrates whether we really are who we say we are.
Jesus said a good tree does not produce bad fruit and a bad tree does not produce good fruit and it’s by the fruit that you will know them, not by their leaves. Good or bad, for better or for worse, you’re going to produce something. So the question is not if you will produce fruit, but what kind of fruit you will produce.
So, as we place ourselves beneath the government of the Holy Spirit, it means we will try to go to some places just like the apostles did, but the Spirit will not permit it. Or, we will try to remain silent or stay in one place and be hidden, but the Spirit will compel us to say something or to take action. Or, we may seek to avoid certain people or places or things, but the Spirit will say, “Go here, and doubt nothing because I am sending you.” And He doesn’t always send you into something that looks successful! It may look like a failure. Crucifixions never look successful on the outside. But see, this is something totally different from setting some goals for yourself and saying you want to do such-and-such by such-and-such a date and you’ll go here and there and do this and that; you don’t see that in the Bible. You see them increasingly coming under the government of the Holy Spirit. And they soon learned that to obey the Spirit means Life and Peace, if not outwardly, inwardly. As long as He is doing it and He is initiating it, all is well. But the moment we lay our hand to it, we defile it. Time and time again.
So for me, that means we may, or may not, have a daily message, or a weekly webcast, or twice monthly meetings in our home, or any more workshops, or gatherings or conferences. I’m not concerned for those things any more. I am only occupied with this one thing: whether I go or stay, whether I speak or remain silent, whether I write something every day or never write anything again, whether I appear to be active or appear to be inactive, am I being governed by the Holy Spirit? Because that is the only real basis of spiritual ministry.
Now, if this concerns you at all and bears witness to your heart, you may be asking yourself: How do I know the difference? How do I know if I am led of the Spirit or led of my own self-centered nature? Well, don’t ask me, because I can’t tell you. I can’t give you the answer to that. I would play it safe and assume that I am probably more selfish than spiritual, but you’ll have to do the same thing I have to do: get before God and ask Him to search you and reveal it to you.
When you get into those hard to discern places, you are compelled to get before God and search it out and that’s how you learn. That’s part of your growth. I’ve identified a condition in Christians that I call ‘Spiritual Googleism’. Spiritual Googleism! And this means instead of getting before God, and humbling ourselves and getting answers from the Throne, we hop on the Internet, Google our problem, and try to get answers that way. Well it’s quick, it’s convenient, it’s fast and you’ll definitely get something, but I believe that offends the Spirit of the living God. Why? Because He wants you to come to Him and learn of Him and it takes time and it takes patience and that’s why most people don’t do it and that’s why most people, even for all of their searching and seeking after answers, they are still no further along than when they started. I’m not going to be led by Google, and I’m not going to be led by what Watchman Nee did, or what T. Austin-Sparks did. They served their generation well, but they’ve passed on. The issue is not “What did the Lord say to So-and-so?” That can only take us but so far. What does the Lord say to me, now? That is present truth that meets God’s need at this very moment.
I want to be continuously adjusted to God and continually governed by the Spirit of God. And in that way I can satisfy the heart of God. And it is beside the point whether or not that satisfies everyone else or even if it makes sense to everyone else. And so I invite you to join me in this journey, it begins with a willingness to be adjusted to God, embracing the principle of the Cross and being governed by the Holy Spirit. The end result is a purity that cannot be achieved through any carnal means.
I hope you will make this message and this word a matter of prayer.