Seven Habits of Highly Effective Believers
Seven Habits of Highly Effective Believers Bill Johnson? BethelHow many of you know that one of the most basic cries of an individual is for significance? It's a God-born drive. It's a value that's not a wrong desire--it's just in us. There are certain essential ingredients that make up a happy person, and one is affirmation. Everybody needs to be affirmed and loved. Every person needs to have some measure of significance.
Now understand, when I talk about significance, I'm not referring to being famous or popular. You can be very famous and be totally insignificant. Significance has to do with effect on humanity. There's a book out, I've not read it, but I understand it's a great book, it's called, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" That title triggered something in my heart, and I thought what I'd like to do today is talk to you about "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Believers." These are people whose names are synonymous with history-makers; those who have altered the course of human history by their life. Because of their offering of themselves, they literally altered the course of human history. We're going to examine seven individuals and do it as quickly as we can. Probably it would be a whole lot smarter to take seven weeks and do a decent job, but at least we'll get a peek at it. We will be talking about the habits, the things that are seen in these individuals' lives that were fundamental in shaping their values and decisions.
Now, before we open this, let me just remind you as well: do you understand that the greatest tests you and I face in life, we don't know about when we're facing them? When you are under pressure for a decision, those are tests, but they're not as big as the ones you're unaware of. What is really valuable is examining my values, for example, as David talked about "being tried in the night." How can you be tried in the night? You're sleeping. It's just that the Spirit of God is working on the heart of the person; working to discover what the makeup and the value system is that's been ingrained into that individual.
My favorite story in this regard is with the king that was given the arrows, and the prophet said, "Strike the ground"; he did so three times and when he was through, the prophet said, "If you only would have done it five or six times you would have annihilated the enemy. But now you're going to just have three temporary victories." What happened in that story was the king didn't know he was being tested. How many of you know, after you hit the ground three times and you find out, oops, now you're not going to wipe out the enemy, then you know it's a test? You'd like to take it over: "Watch me hit the ground now!" But the test was over because the prophet was looking for the passion level of that leader. To hit the ground three times reveals a small measure of passion, and passionless leaders cost everyone who follows them. It's very costly to be a leader without passion. So there's just a simple example.
Some of the great tests that we go through in life really have to do with how fast we drive through town at night, when nobody's looking, or when nobody's there in the hotel room and we've got the TV changer to see what entertains us. The tests are when we don't know we're being tested. When someone tells us a rumor, what do we do with that rumor? It's the little things that are the most significant. So, what I want to talk about today is seven habits that shaped the lifestyle of world-changers.
Let's start with David. Go to Psalm 16. There is a passage here that is also quoted in Acts 2. I'm going to read both of them to you. Verse 7: "I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel. My heart also instructs me in night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved." Look at verse 11: "You show me the path of life. In Your presence is fullness of joy. At your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Back to verse 8: "I have set the Lord always before me." And because of that, "I shall not be moved." I'm stable and circumstances are not going to move me.
Now in Acts 2 it's quoted this way: "David says concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face." The New American Standard says, "I saw the Lord always before me." To me this is a huge principle and the reason I have it as number one. In this particular passage David is saying, "I set the Lord before me." But how many of you know, you can't set God before you? What you can do is set your eyes on the presence of God Who's before you. You can't bring Him and put Him here; He's here. What you can do is adjust your heart until you realize that He's already here. The ongoing realization of the presence of the Lord is probably one of the most, if not the most, vital elements to the Christian life. It is the awareness of God in me, upon me and with me.
David became the great leader over Israel and led them into their greatest hours of prosperity and blessing. They had the greatest military victories. They finally got all the land that was promised to them through David. All the years from Joshua onward were just dormant until David came and brought them into their inheritance. He was the greatest of warriors; he was the greatest of worshippers. He wasn't even a Levite, but he was the ultimate priest. He was at the top of his game in all these important areas. Notice this one thing he said, "I always, every day, I set Him before me. Every day, I set my eyes on the presence of the Lord who is with me." Now, the confidence level of people skyrocket when the presence of the Lord becomes more manifest to us. How many of you know that if you saw a fiery cloud up here and heard a voice coming out of it saying, "I'll heal whoever comes into the cloud," all of us would be climbing over the chairs to get into that fiery cloud? The more clear the manifestation of His presence is, the greater the dimension of faith we operate by. To live by the theory of His presence is wrong. It is not good enough to say, "Well, I know He's always with me." No. That truth must launch you into an experience or you're violating the truth. The truth was not given to equip us with concepts and ideas to debate and to discuss. The truth was given as invitations for divine encounter so we would know by experience that God is upon me and He is with me.
David's entire life as a warrior, as a priest, was focused on this one thing. This is one hint we get out of his life. This is also what I do every day. I take time before Him until I can see Him. I don't mean that you somehow see an image or a form. Obviously, if He shows up and He talks to you in physical form, that's wonderful! I've never had it happen. That's not the point. Neither is that the ambition. The ambition is, "Since I can't imagine a place where He isn't, I might as well imagine Him with me." The imagination, we've been warned by the church for the last thirty years, is an open door for deception. You know, that's ridiculous. God's your Father. He's creative. The imagination is a part of the tool that He uses to express Himself in and through you.
When we hired an architect to build our beautiful prayer house, I didn't go to one who had no imagination, or we would have several doublewides lined up out there. That's fine, but you don't need an imagination for it. The imagination is to be harnessed and yielded to the Lord so that in the process of yielding, it becomes sanctified, and the sanctified imagination is positioned to perceive Him. The Bible goes so far as to say, "Having our senses trained to discern good and evil," which allows us to recognize the presence of the Lord. So David gives us the key, which was the absolute heartbeat of his life. It's kind of like he's saying, "This is how I made it. Every day I beheld Him with me."
I've had individuals tell me they've seen things, and they are people I know and trust who are not flaky. They've seen things around me or in the sanctuary. I had someone recently see a manifestation of the presence of the Lord on me, but I didn't tell anyone I was experiencing what they saw. I didn't tell anyone, so nobody was trying to imagine for me. They just came with a word for something I had experienced, yet I had no words for. I don't know if this makes sense to you. This is what I feel; I feel like everybody in this room not only has the privilege but the responsibility to turn your awareness toward His presence, and in doing so, you invite the increase of that manifestation. I don't have to have goose bumps and feel things to obey; I just obey because He says to do it. But something happens in the realm of courage and faith when we become more aware of His presence. I don't know if this is smart to even talk about, but I have this fire that just comes and rests on my shoulder, and I've always wondered what it was. I finally got to talk to someone who knew. Bob Jones. Who else? And he said, "When that comes, it's because the Lord is marking that moment for His authority. "Now how many of you know if you have a sensation, I don't care what it is, but this thing that you know happens only when you recognize the presence of the Lord is strong, you learn through trial and error, and you learn through the process of walking with Him that when this happens, He wants to heal the sick. Or, when this happens, the spirit of prophecy comes on you, somebody's there that needs to be born again, or whatever else it might be, but your confidence level rises as your awareness of His presence increases. I feel like this is just so huge. I wouldn't mind taking an entire week just to talk about this one thing: learning to become aware of Him, of His presence. How do you do that? I take time. I take time throughout any day or the middle of the night. Constantly, I just take time to turn my affection toward Him, and once again just calibrate the values of my heart, to set my heart on the ultimate absolute, and that is, He said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." Just to calibrate my heart, all my values, my emotions, everything, and make sure that I'm dialed into the presence of the Lord. I could teach you; I could take ten of you right now into another room, and teach you principles about healing. We could come out here, we could line up sick people, and I could find ten of you who have never prayed for the sick before. We would pray for the sick, and many, many people would get healed. I do it all over the country. I know, because God honors His word. But there's far greater success and far greater joy when we minister not out of principles but out of His presence. Now when it's tough to track on it, maybe you're going through a difficult day or it's just one of those times when the heavens seem to be brass, it's fine. I don't stop ministry then. I go back to the principles and function out of the principles. But my hunger and my craving is for the manifest presence of the Lord, because that is my joy. How did David finish the psalm? He said, "At Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore." It's His presence with me that is the source of all my joy.
Let's go to the second person, to Joshua. Go to Exodus 33. Now, this chapter is one of the most famous chapters in the Bible having to do with the presence of the Lord and His uniquely chosen servant, Moses. This is Moses' high point. This is where he gets to see the presence of the Lord in a way no one had ever seen before. But there's another character in this chapter, Joshua, who I want to talk about briefly. In verse 9 it says, "It came to pass when Moses entered the tabernacle that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle and the Lord talked with Moses." Man, that's amazing. Moses wasn't even born again. I mean, how much more has the blood of Jesus made available for us. "And all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshipped, each man in his tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle."
Joshua became known as a great warrior because He led Israel into the land of promises that they couldn't go into with Moses. Moses wasn't allowed to take them in. (Joshua is kind of like Moses' servant, his right-hand man, his assistant. Moses is mentoring him in life.) The presence of the Lord would come and Moses would go outside the camp. (Intimacy with God is always outside the camp. It's where Jesus went to die, outside the camp. It's never a part of a popularity contest or a move of the masses. All intimacy, even if you go with a thousand people, is a one on one issue.) And Joshua, who was Moses' right-hand man, goes to the tent door and he just waits there and he hears God talking inside with Moses. I can't imagine what it was like to lie facedown at the door while God was talking with anybody. I mean, all of Israel saw it. They would fall on their face and just stay there till Moses recovered and came out to talk to everyone. How many of you know, everybody wanted to know what Moses had to say? They could hear the thundering and see the lightning and hear the voice of the Lord in there. Moses comes out, and he's heavily under the influence. God is all over there, and he has a fresh message from God.
If he were the kind of guy who wanted fame, position, popularity, Joshua would be right at Moses' side, saying, "I work with this man. He just met with God face to face, and I'm his friend." Joshua doesn't even show up in the story because he stayed back in the tent. I would like to suggest to you, it's the actual reason the Lord chose Him. There were other assistants in Scripture that did not get chosen to succeed their master. There were other assistants who were in the right place at the right time. Look at some of the prophets and those who were around them to assist, who never stepped into their promotion, never stepped into their destiny. I would like to suggest to you that the value ingrained in Joshua's heart that made him stand out head-and-shoulders above everybody else around him was that he wasn't in it for the recognition of man. He was not in it for the popular vote. He wasn't in it even for the thrill of hearing a stirring message. When Moses went to deliver the message, Joshua stayed at the tent. There's something about devotion to prayer and intimacy that can only be seen when a choice has to be made.
Let me describe this. Several years ago I was with Randy Clark in Argentina and had the privilege of meeting Omar Cabrerra, Sr. (he's in heaven now), who was one of the twelve great revivalists of that nation. Omar Cabrerra, Jr. would translate for us. He went to ORU and was very fluent in English. He's a great man of God in his own right. He would travel around with us and was a lot of fun to be with. Because he speaks English so well, we had a really good time. We sat around one day and the subject went to Benny Hinn, because Omar translates for Benny when he goes down there, and I think Mario Cerullo and some of the other people who do Latin American ministry crusades. So Omar was telling us about Benny Hinn. He said,
"He is just like every body else. He likes to have fun. He's really kind and just generous. But to really show you what he's like, we were sitting at dinner. We were just talking and joking around, and suddenly, the presence of the Lord came upon the entire group at this table, and everybody was almost frightened because of the manifested presence of the Lord that came upon the entire group. Then they all just stopped talking. Benny put his fork down beside his plate and said, "I have to go now." He got up from the table in the middle of the meal, didn't finish, and walked across the street to his hotel to meet with the One who just summoned him."
Joshua knew that he could choose the best, or he could choose the second best. Joshua was the one who had the heart like Mary to sit at the feet of the Master and not just perform, or get the recognition of man, but to choose the best. There's something in that habit that made him the great courageous leader he became. The Lord spoke to him over and over again in Joshua 1 about not fearing, not being dismayed, establishing that anchor of the promise of the Lord and the presence of the Lord over his life. Jenn wrote it in a song just as good as it's ever been written, where the Lord just spoke to her and said, "Just stay a little longer. Just a moment longer." Does that make sense to anybody? I'm praying, I've had a great time, I'm over at the prayer house, I've had communion, reading promises, I've been praying about good things, and I'm ready to go. And then I think, "Just a moment longer." Joshua, I'd like to suggest to you, had the discipline of "Just a moment longer."
Let's go to the third person. I want you to go to Acts 16. I don't know how the apostle Paul's personality appears to you. He's just always seemed like a hard-nosed guy to me. It's probably his conflict with Barnabas and the fact that he didn't want Mark to follow him because he "flaked out" on him. It might have something to do with that. But, if you take a deep look into Paul?s life, there's one glaring habit, one glaring value in him that dwarfs everything else. We could talk at great length about things we admire. Here's a guy who's been beaten to a pulp so many times we can't count. He's been shipwrecked, whipped, stoned and left for dead. He's gone through so much just to pay a price to preach and declare the gospel. Everywhere he goes there are persecutions, mockery and difficult situations. Yet, there's one silver thread, one factor that just seems to take him from the beginning to the end, and it's the habit of a highly-effective believer.
In 1986, Beni and I went with some of the folks from our church, to Israel and Italy. One of the places we visited was a hole in the ground. Literally it was a hole about this big with a dungeon down inside. It's a prison. It's the actual prison where the apostle Paul spent time and wrote the book of Philippians. The book of Philippians is marked with a theme that is the most unusual theme to ever be written about by a man in prison. In fact, scratch your picture of prison. Think,"hole in the ground, wet, musty, cold and damp." There's a little water gadget inside. The prisoners were literally dumped down there. The apostle Paul wrote the book of Philippians with the theme of joy. The theme of joy is honestly one of the primary themes of the entire book of four chapters. When you get to Chapter 4:4, you see this phrase, "Rejoice always. Again, I say, rejoice!" In Acts 16, verse 22, it says,
"The multitude rose up together against them. The magistrates tore their clothes off and commanded them to be beaten with rods. When they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were open and everyone's chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awakened from sleep, seeing the prison doors open and supposing the prisoners fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. And Paul called with a loud voice, "Do yourself no harm. We are all here."
Now, I don't know about you guys, but if I'm in prison and there's an earthquake, the chains fall off my arms and legs and the door flings open, I would say, "Jehovah Jireh. God has provided for me again. I'm out of here!" I would be out of there as fast as you can imagine. I'm gone because it's obvious it's the will of God. "Praise God! My worship worked again. It shook that thing. That poor guard, he's going to die because I got out of here, but you know, oh well. He shouldn't have been keeping me in prison in the first place." That's what I'm thinking, but not this guy. He's worshipping God and the earthquake comes. That's quite an earthquake, to knock those locked chains off your wrists and feet; it knocks him to the ground and the doors fling open. That's weird all by itself. The doors fling open and Paul senses, "I wasn't a prisoner when I was put in here. Opening the doors doesn't make me freer. I'm smelling harvest. I smell some fish that are about to be caught. Since my primary goal in life is to catch fish, I'm going to stay in the most unusual fishing hole I've ever been in. Uh, sir, about to kill yourself? You'll notice that we're all here." That was enough of a witness. This guy had to know the same Jesus. He surrendered immediately to Christ. Then his entire family got saved.
There is something enduring about joy. I could have chosen this habit out of a number of saints in Scripture, but this is one of the most unique and remarkable illustrations in the Bible.
Probably ten to thirteen years ago now, I just really felt impressed to take six months and work on three verses of the Bible to see if I could learn how to apply the instructions to my life. It's out of 1 Thessalonians 5. It says,"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks." I thought, "You know, those three commands are all-inclusive. If I could learn to do those three things, I'd have everything else in my life come together." So I would quote it throughout my day. I'd think about it as I was going about my day, "Rejoice always." That's real demanding, because that means in everything! That means I just have to choose joy and express it in every situation. Some situations are easier than others. Then there's the "pray without ceasing;" that's really demanding, too. Man, this is all or nothing here; I've got to stay in communion with the Lord constantly. Then, "In everything give thanks." No room for error here. Do these three things all the time. Always be thankful and happy, and pray about everything. So I came to the conclusion, if I could learn those three things, I'd be a saint.
People come to me and say, "I just need to know God's will for my life."
I tell them, "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks." The next phrase is, "For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
"Yeah, but I need to know whether to take this job or whether I should live in Portland or I should live in San Jose."
"It makes very little difference, if you rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks."
"Yeah, but I don??t know what to do for my occupation."
"Pump gas or be a doctor, it doesn't matter to me. But just rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks. This is the will of God. Everything else is trivial."
"Yeah, but I don't know if I should go to the School of Ministry or go to college." "I don't care. It's a win-win situation. Just rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything, give thanks."
Go to Luke 2. This is about Mary, the mother of Jesus. I consider her to perhaps be the greatest revivalist in Scripture. Some of you have had the presence of God touch you in a way that embarrasses you. How many of you had something happen when God showed up that was wonderful, but it was a bit embarrassing? Oh good. It's so nice to be among friends. You know, you start trembling and go, "I don't know why this is happening. What's going on with me?" Somebody comes along and says, "God's doing that." "Why?" Or a person's lying on the ground. "Why?" "Because I couldn't stand." It might be laughter, weeping or something else. All of us have had things happen, yet none of us have had what Mary had. I can at least find where someone trembled in Scripture and say, "I'm not the first." I can find joy in the Scripture and say, "I'm not the first to get really happy," or "People got laid out on the ground because of God's presence." But I can't find anyone who got pregnant by God until Mary's story was written. Can you imagine the questions that were posed to her? She's called the "mother of the illegitimate child" her whole life. Not even her husband believed her, so he almost divorced her, (graciously, because he loved her, but he didn't buy into the story). It wasn't until he had a personal visit from an angel that he changed his mind. She carried something that changed the world, and that's what a revivalist does.
It's important that you're mocked for what you carry. She had a visitation from God in Luke 1. The angel of the Lord appeared to her. She said in verse 34, "How can this be? I don't know a man."
The angel answered and said, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you. Therefore also that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."
Verse 37: "For with God nothing will be impossible."
Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed.
We don't find this response hardly anywhere in Scripture. She embraced what she didn't understand.
She asked, "How can this be?"
The angel said, "The Holy Spirit will come and overshadow you."
Did that answer her question "No, what I meant was, you said I'm going to get pregnant. How's that supposed to happen?"
"Well, the Holy Spirit will come and overshadow you."
"Okay. All right. Just be it unto me according to your word."
Jump over to Chapter 2 verse 16, and you find what she did when the shepherds showed up and told her the message that the angel spoke to them. They came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the babe, "And when they had seen him they made widely known the saying which was told them about this child. All who heard it marveled at those things which were told by the shepherd. Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." She treasured these things that God said and pondered them. She put them in a safe place. Look at what the verse before that says, "Everybody heard. Everybody marveled. But Mary treasured these things in her heart and pondered them." How many of you understand that a lot of people marvel at what God says, but in this story, one out of a multitude treasured what He said. This is a defining moment. This is a distinguishing factor in the life of somebody who contributed, if you will, to shape the course of history. She embraced what she did not understand and she treasured whatever God spoke.
Thirty years later Jesus is still alive. He's at a wedding and she turns to Him and says, "They have no wine." Why did she do that? She has been carrying this word about the destiny of her son for thirty years. For thirty years she's been waiting for the unveiling, she's been waiting for it to unfold so the world would see the answer, the Redeemer, the King of Glory who would come to save them. She's been waiting for the unveiling of the miracle worker her entire life and she's at a wedding and sees a prime opportunity.
She says, "They have no wine."
Jesus says, "This isn't my time."
She was pregnant with the promise for so many years. Why? She had treasured and pondered them. She did not briefly consider them or give a little golf clap to applaud God for the great and marvelous things He had said. Everyone else in the crowd marveled. She embraced what He said, held it dear, and became pregnant with promise. Then she listens to her son saying, It's not my time," and she is so overwhelmed with a moment of opportunity and she's bursting so much with expectation that she can't contain it any longer.
She says to the servants, "Do whatever He says. We'll see if this is the time or not." The Father was so moved by that that He shifted the moment when His Son was to be unveiled as the miracle worker. What's the point? Nothing will be impossible for people who carry what God says even though they don't understand it. The revelation of this is actually in the first chapter where he says, "Nothing will be impossible with God." The word "nothing" is actually two words in the Greek. It's "no rhema," and "rhema" is the freshly spoken word of God. No freshly spoken word of God will be impossible. The word "impossible" means "without ability." So, no freshly spoken word of God, which comes from His mouth, will ever come to you that does not contain its own ability to perform itself. Her relationship to the Word of God came before she met the Word of God, her son, the Word made flesh.
Now look at Daniel, Chapter 6. This is a bizarre story, certainly worthy of more time than I'm going to give it. There were men who were jealous of Daniel. They wanted him dead. Daniel had so much favor and the king wanted to make him his right-hand man. People were vying for the position Daniel had. They finally came to the conclusion that they couldn't find anything wrong with Daniel to bring an accusation against him, so if they were going to find something wrong, it was going to have to do with his love for God. How many of you know that's a nice problem to have, if nobody can find anything wrong with you except that you're just completely addicted to Jesus!
So, in a weak moment, they had the king create a decree to say that if anyone prays to anything but this false god they will be killed. The king says, "Yeah, that's a good idea," not thinking. (He went brain-dead for a moment and forgot about his right-hand man, who he knows serves God.) So Darius signed the decree in verse 9. Verse 10: "When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home, and in his upper room with his windows open towards Jerusalem he knelt down on his knees three times that day and prayed and gave thanks before his God as was his custom since early days." (A lot of people change their lifestyles when pressure comes.) They give the announcement: "Anyone who prays to any god but the god the king has ordained will be killed." So Daniel waited until the decree came and then he went and opened his bedroom window and knelt down right by the window and he said, "Oh God, this is awesome. Another dumb decree has been given, and someone is going to have to push the right buttons. I'm not going to change my relationship with You for anyone; I will gladly push those buttons." We see him right in front of his window for everyone to see, and he just simply continues to kneel before the Lord three times per day. He had a discipline as a young man of doing this. He was probably taken at the age of fifteen from among the Jews. He was made a eunuch. I believe his parents were killed and he had no family left. He was put into the service of a king. He's a man who has every right to become the bitterest man on the planet in the natural, yet he learned how to keep tender by just kneeling before the Lord and giving thanks and praying three times per day.
What was it about Daniel? Daniel had read the prophecy given by Jeremiah. The prophecy said God was going to restore Israel after their time of captivity. What was it that brought Daniel to his knees day after day after day, all the years from childhood into a being an elderly man? It was the fact that he was possessed by a promise. He was a man commissioned to work in the most evil empire known to man, as the assistant of the most evil emperor. He was to position himself to pray for the day when God would restore all He had promised. He was a prisoner of promise, and every day he had an attitude of thanksgiving. How many of you know that if you pray for fifty years for something to happen and it hasn't happened yet, you're not as likely to be thankful? Yet, he always found something to be thankful for. Then he would kneel. He was always praying in the direction of Jerusalem because that's where his focus was. Jerusalem is synonymous with the community of the redeemed and God healing His people.
How many of you know there's a great healing that is going to happen with the body of Christ in this land? It is the healing of the church. In Isaiah 62 it says, "Take no rest for yourselves and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth." Natural Israel, natural Jerusalem? Fine. But also pray for the redeemed because the redeemed are to be a praise in the earth. He (Daniel) was possessed by a vision for the healing of the redeemed. I would like to suggest to you that what he did from childhood all the way into adulthood is what kept him safe and secure in great difficulty. Even when his life was threatened, it had become part of his routine and he would have gladly laid down his life to see the fulfillment of the promise of what God had said. When the time came for Israel after seventy years, you find him praying, "God, we're not ready. You said it would be seventy years. It's now the seventieth year and we haven't been healed up. But in your mercy, please release us anyway." It's an amazing prayer and God honored it.
Moses. This may be an awkward verse to define a man??s life. Exodus 26:30: "You shall raise up the tabernacle according to its pattern which you were shown on the mountain." Now, Moses' encounters with God on the mountain have become almost parabolic. They've become lessons in high points of a person's life. "Mountaintop experience." You've heard the phrase? That's where we get it. It's somebody meeting with God, which changes everything else afterward. The problem was, he's on the mountain, he speaks with God, sees the presence of the Lord, comes down ignited with this passion for God, but walks into the middle of a people he's supposed to be leading into the land of promise, having an orgy. They're worshipping a false god. There are horrific things going on with the very people he's supposed to be leading. How many of you know that if you're a leader who just got a fresh vision from God, it becomes a challenge to do in the valley what you saw on the mountain. Most everyone in this room has had mountaintop experiences and the chances are pretty high that many of us saw things, had visions, and burdens that we forgot when we got down into the nitty-gritty elements of life. This is just absolutely huge, because it's when the air is clear, so to speak, and all the other activities are gone, maybe we're at a conference, a camp, or wherever it might be, there's just a time where the Lord seems to be downloading. Yet, so few people actually build what they saw on the mountain. So few actually produce what they caught a glimpse of, because up there, there's no enemy, no opposition, only idealistic dreams of what will happen. When we get down into the nitty-gritty aspects of life, of having to work it out with people, we've probably sacrificed the vision to accommodate the circumstances that we've walked into. Moses is my hero because of this phrase: "he built according to what he saw on the mountain." He succeeded at duplicating the heavenly vision in the valley with a group of rebellious people.
The last one is Esther. I'm just going to mention her situation. She was not raised by her parents, but rather by her cousin Mordecai. I'm assuming her parents were dead. I don't remember much of the story, but when the king was looking for a new queen, she was in a vast number of beautiful young ladies that could potentially become the next queen. Mordecai counseled her. Not only did he raise her into adulthood as though this young lady was his own daughter, he counseled her in her seasons of preparation. He would tell her what to do. He still gave spiritual oversight to her in this opportunity to become queen of the nation. Then after she became queen, Haman sent out a decree to kill all the Jews. Mordecai got a message to Esther that all the Jews were going to be killed. What did she do? She submitted herself. She's now queen of the land. Not only is she an adult, she is now living in her destiny. If there were ever a time you think you don't need the influence of spiritual mothers and fathers it's when you're living in your destiny. They helped get you there, but now you are on your own. Quite honestly, it was the counsel and the prayer support of Mordecai that helped her find the destiny in her destiny. The position wasn't her destiny. The purpose for the position was. Let's use this for an illustration: maybe somebody was called from childhood to be a pastor. So, people work with that person and help him step into the place of being a pastor, counselor or whatever it might be. Then he's finally there. Has he reached their goal? No. She's queen, yet she hasn't arrived, because there's a purpose for the position. You've not arrived when you sign the contract and get the paycheck. You've not arrived because you got the bonus or you signed a five-year deal with the 49ers. No, you've not arrived until you've found the purpose for the position. I'd like to suggest to you that Esther's respect, fear and value of her spiritual parent, Mordecai, is not only what kept her alive and got her into the throne room, but it saved the entire nation of Israel. The honor of spiritual mothers and fathers should continue as long as you're breathing.