Hey guys, and welcome back to this series on “How to Fulfill Your Calling”. We’re now in episode 8, and in the last episode we looked at how to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit – how to use the gifts that God has given us to fulfill His supernatural work and His calling on our lives. And if you remember, one of the things I said was that you can do the action of your gift, but actually do it in the flesh. And we need to learn how to yield to the Holy Spirit so that we’re not only doing what God has called us to do, but we’re doing it in the way He’s called us to do it, with the gifts that He’s given us and actually, that we’re operating in such a way that we know that it’s not us but it’s His power working through us. And I gave you lots of practical tips. And I just want to remind you, if you’ve got the gift of encouragement, ask God, “God, who do you want me to encourage? What do you want me to say?” If you’ve got the gift of giving and generosity, ask God, “Who do you want me to give to? How much do you want me to give?” Because it’s as we are led by His Spirit that we really find the miraculous power of the Spirit working through us in ways that we could never do if we were just encouraging or giving, or using our gifts in the way that we think is best with our own natural mind. So you might be thinking, ‘David, I want to use the gifts of the Spirit, I want to fulfill my calling but I feel like there are some things in my life that are holding me back”. And actually I gave my life to Jesus when I was 17 years old, and six years before that I had been introduced to pornography. So when I became a Christian I was already addicted to pornography. And I just want to say, there are some things like that and there are a few other things I’m going to talk about in this episode that really can hold us back, and I want to help you to get free from some of those things. So let’s get straight into episode 8: overcoming the things that could hold you back. And the first thing I want to talk about is a feeling of failure. Sometimes when we know we’ve sinned or we’ve done something wrong, we can feel like we’ve failed God and that actually He doesn’t want to use us anymore, and I just want to tell you that that is a lie – that God has not given up on you. And I know that for two reasons, and the first thing is that it’s not His character to give up on you. Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, O Lord, are a God full of compassion and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth”. He’s full of compassion and patience and He’s full of mercy, and it’s simply not His character to give up on us if we make a mistake. The second thing is that He promises something very different from giving up on us and in 1 John 1:9 it says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” And all God is waiting for us to do is just fall to our knees and say, “God, I’m sorry”. And as we do that with humility, we’ve also got to say, “and God I’m so thankful that you sent your son to die on the cross for me. If I had no sin in my life, I wouldn’t need a Savior, but you are a wonderful Savior, and I receive that forgiveness now”. And then we have to get up and we have to say, “God, I believe now that you have cleansed me from all unrighteousness and I am free to serve you”. And I just want to say that it’s never too late and I really want to encourage you to reject the lie that God can’t use you anymore. So, let’s move on to the next thing. The next thing is pride. Sometimes pride stops us fulfilling God’s call on our lives because we’ve got too much confidence in ourselves. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor (or grace) to the humble.” And we need to humble ourselves. We need to recognize what Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” We need to recognize that apart from Him, actually I’m capable of nothing of significant value. And I just also want to say, don’t strive to be somebody that you’re not. Often that’s where pride comes from – we try to be somebody that actually we’re not, and I want to encourage you just to keep your eyes on Jesus, pray that you would get to know Him better and become more like him. Why do I say that? Well, in Matthew 11 verse 29, Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” So say, “Jesus, I want to keep my eyes fixed on you. I don’t want to put my eyes on myself, I don’t want to be self-confident, and actually Lord, I’m asking you that you would help me to know you better and to become more like you”, because as we become more like Him, actually we become more humble, and actually that opens the way for God to do much more through our lives than we ever could if we were trusting in our own abilities and being proud. The third thing is fear. Now fear speaks and fear comes as a direct attack on the call of God on your life. And I remember one day I’d received an email from one of the biggest Christian radio stations in the UK and the email was asking me if I would come and do a live interview on the topic of freedom from fear. And as I was just standing in my kitchen thinking about this email that I’d received, I heard these words in my head, “David, what have you got to say about fear that’s going to help anybody? You’re not qualified to do this, you want to go and find somebody else who can do that and go and ask them to do it instead of you”. And all of a sudden I realized that the very topic I was being asked to speak about was the thing that was actually attempting to stop me. And I know that the call on my life is to speak God’s truth because that’s when people get revelation and people get set free, and you know God says so many times in his Word, doesn’t He, “do not fear”. He does not want us to be in bondage to fear, but here was fear speaking to me and telling me that I shouldn’t do it – that I should go and ask somebody else, and it was coming as a direct attack on the call of God on my life. And I could have easily just shrunk back or ran away, or given that opportunity to somebody else, but what God wanted me to do is to step forward in faith. And a few months before that He had given me a scripture, and it was Joshua 1 verses 5 to 6 and it says, “I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will always be with you; I will never abandon you. Be determined and confident”. And what I did when I was standing in my kitchen is, I took that word like a sword, you know, the Word of the God – the Word of God says that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. And I took that word and I said, “God’s gonna be with me. I will be determined and confident”. And as I did that, it was like I was cutting those lies to pieces with the word of God – the sword of the Spirit, and of course it was the Spirit that reminded me of that scripture in that moment and sometimes it’s that simple. All you need to do is say, “God, give me a scripture that contradicts this lie”. And you just speak it out and you declare it, and you stand on it and actually very quickly the fear dissipates. Now, if you have a fear that just keeps coming back – it always seems to come back, you need to understand a little bit about how fear works. You see, behind every ungodly fear is a lie. But we have to ask ourselves, “Why do I believe that lie?”. Sometimes these are things that we believe about ourselves or that we believe about God – ‘God is not faithful’, ‘God will not protect me’, ‘God will not sustain me in that situation’, ‘God will not provide for me’. Whatever the lie is, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I can’t do that’, ‘I’ve never been good at public speaking’, ‘I’m just not that kind of person’. Whatever the lie is, we have to understand that that came into our lives somehow. And often, you know, behind the fear is a lie, and often behind the lie is a wound. And if we had not been wounded in that area in our lives, we probably wouldn’t believe that lie. And so actually it’s not just standing against the lie with the sword of the Spirit, sometimes we need healing on the inside. The wonderful thing is that Jesus is the healer of the broken hearted. And then we need to replace the lies that we believe with God’s truth, and that’s how we get completely free from fear. And Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” – that’s when you get the lies out and the truth in. Now how do we get the lies out and how do we receive healing from that wound? Well, the healing comes as we forgive those who have hurt us, because it’s often through those painful experiences that the lies have come into our lives. But then we must actively seek to take captive any thoughts that do not agree with the Word of God that have got into our minds, and push them out – lies out, truth in. And one of the things you’ll notice is that when you get the truth in place of the lie, there’s a peace and there’s a clarity. You see, fear brings confusion but truth brings freedom, and it brings with it peace and clarity. Sometimes we need to ask God to teach us the fear of the Lord, because the opposite of ungodly fear is the fear of the Lord. It’s when we only care about what God thinks and not what anybody else thinks. Sometimes we need to say, “God, teach me the fear of the Lord so that I won’t be afraid of man and I won’t be afraid of the things that this world brings before me, but I’ll fear you and I’ll obey you, and I’ll overcome fear as I walk with you”. You see, you cannot fulfill God’s call on your life if you’re controlled by fear. Now, we could ask ourselves the question, couldn’t we: is it possible to be completely free from ungodly fear? Well let’s see what king David said. In Psalm 34 verse 4, David said, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” So there’s a point that you can get to in your walk with God where you can say, “I used to have those fears but you know what, I sought the Lord with all my heart and he delivered me from every single one of them”. And I want to encourage you, if you’ve got a fear, seek the Lord ask him to deliver you. And actually maybe some of the things I’ve just spoken are answers for you, and actually it’s not the fear that you need to work on, it’s identifying what are the lies that I’m believing and how did those lies get into my life. First of all you need healing, and then you need to reject those lies. Take hold of God’s truth and you can ask Him, “God, would you give me a scripture that I can stand on when that particular fear tries to get into my mind”. So I want to encourage you not just to seek the Lord and ask Him to deal with your fear, but ask Him to reveal to you where the fear comes from – what is at the root of your fear, and He will be faithful to do that as you seek Him. And always be ready to forgive those who have hurt you or taught to you to fear. You see, some people have taught us to fear through their words or through their actions – it could even be that your parents were very fearful and they demonstrated fear to you, and you learned to fear. Or it could have been that the actions of certain people in your life have taught you to be afraid and you need to be ready to forgive those people and to let go of the lessons that you learned and take on God’s truth. Okay, the fourth thing that can hold us back is idolatry. Sometimes we have idols in our hearts, and an idol is something, could be anything, that has become more important to you than God is. Now this is very dangerous, as often we don’t realize that something has become more important to us than God. We don’t realize that we’ve actually got an idol in our hearts, and we can sometimes even think that we’re following God’s leading when actually we’re being influenced by the idols in our hearts. And Jeremiah 17 verse 9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” When you read a verse like that, that the heart is deceitful above all things, it can seem a bit hopeless – like, well, how can I avoid being deceived by my heart? But actually God has given us something by which we can check our hearts. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” And sometimes we can be thinking and we can be praying, and we can do all kinds of different things and not see the idols of our hearts. But there’s something about the Word of God – as we read and take on board the Word of God and we open up our hearts to God in sincerity, His Word can come down like a sword and just divide what is from you and what is from God. And of course, at that point we have to choose to reject the thing that comes from the flesh and take hold of what is coming from His truth and His Spirit. You see, the idols, if you allow idols to be in your heart, they will cause you to live in deception. And we could say, “well how then can we avoid that?” “How can we be free from the idols of our hearts?” Well, first thing we have to understand is Exodus 20:20. It says, Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” Okay, so we need to ask ourselves, “Is there any behavior in my life – any sin in my life, that does not line up with scripture”. I’m not talking about your opinion, I’m not talking about where you think your heart is. You could say, “Yeah, there’s some sin in my life but my heart is right”. Well let’s not talk about our hearts because we can be deceived by our hearts, let’s look at our behaviour. You see, sometimes we can think that we’re doing everything right before God but that is not a good judge of whether we’re doing everything right before God or not, because in Matthew 7:20-21 Jesus talks about the biggest deception ever. And he says this, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Can you see this? This is people who think that they’re genuine believers, that they’re, they’re calling Jesus “Lord” with all their hearts but in reality they’re deceived. Jesus says, “they’re not going to heaven”, and actually Jesus goes on to say “I never knew you”. Can you see this? For some reason Jesus was not really their Lord but the only thing that showed it was their actions. It wasn’t their opinion, it wasn’t what they believed, it wasn’t what they thought, it wasn’t even what they said. It was their actions that proved it. Now, if you went up to one of these people and you asked them, “Is Jesus Christ your Lord?” Emphatically they would say “Yes!”. So we’ve got to ask ourselves if, in some area of my life, I am not walking in obedience to the Word of God which is objective – not subjective, objective. There must be something in my life that I fear more than Him. There must be something in my life that’s more important to me than Him because the fear of the Lord would keep me from sinning. Many times I’ve spoken to Christians who really believe that God has been speaking to them and they’ve been acting on the things that they believe that God has said to them, but when I listen to their story and I look at the fruit of what is happening in their lives, and I compare it to the Word of God things don’t add up – things are not quite right. And there’s something very dangerous about idolatry and being deceived by your own heart, and I’m going to try and explain it briefly. You see, all through scripture we read that idols do not speak – you know, idols are made by human hands and our God speaks but these idols don’t speak. And Psalm 135 is an example of this. It says, “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see.” And then we get to Zechariah 10 verse 2 and it says something interesting. It says, “The idols speak deceitfully, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for a lack of a shepherd.” So somehow idols can speak, and they speak deceitfully. They deceive people. And I just want you to know that in my experience it’s the idols of the heart that speak. Wooden idols don’t speak but the idols of the heart speak. And Ezekiel 14:4 says something I think we really need to take notice of. It says, Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry.” And it seems here that God was actually speaking to people in accordance with their idolatry, and it seems that that was His punishment for the disobedience of idolatry. And of course these people thought that they were receiving counsel from a prophet and that this was God’s word to them, but actually the idols of their heart were causing God to say something to them that was different to what He would have said to them if they didn’t have idols in their heart. And all I can say is: check your heart – keep your heart free from idols. Just make sure that there’s nothing in your heart that is more important to you than God. And you know, some of the idols that are most difficult to identify are what I can call the the “christian” idols. You know, things like family, which are so important, marriage which is so important, even ministry. These things, we know that they’re very important, but actually we mustn’t let any of those things become more important to us than God Himself. And actually, we can check ourselves against the Word of God which is objective, and we need to do that because we are prone to deception. So, we can look at all the things in our lives and all the things that we want in our lives, and we can ask ourselves, “If I lost everything that I have and if all my future holds is Jesus, is that enough for me? Am I okay with that?” And if you don’t do that, you might find yourself on dangerous ground. I think Psalm 62 verse 6 is a wonderful encouragement when we’re on this topic. It says, “He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Sometimes we find ourselves being shaken by things that go on in our lives and I think that that is a sign that He alone was not my rock – there were a few other things, maybe just one other thing, that I’ve been putting my hope and trust in that is not Him. And I want to encourage you to make Him alone your rock, because in 1 John 5:21 it says, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” And actually, Jesus is the good shepherd and He wants to be our shepherd, and it says “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” When He’s really in charge, when He’s really leading, there’s nothing missing from our lives. Okay, the fifth and final thing I want to talk about in this episode is unresolved issues. That could be sinful behavior – for example addictions, like I said – pornography was an issue for me. It could be smoking, it could be alcohol, it could be problems with food, it could be things like depression. And these things are usually rooted in pain from our past. And you might be thinking, ‘but David, I thought God loved us just as we are’. Well He does love us just as we are but He loves us too much to leave us as we are, and He’s a great healer and deliverer, and He wants to remove these things from our lives so that they won’t hold us back. And there’s an aim in all of this, you know – God wants to make you more like Jesus. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever- increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” And I’m just so glad that Jesus was not addicted to pornography or alcohol and Jesus was not struggling with depression, because if I’m going to become more like Him, I’m going to get free from those things and so are you. And of course the more we become like Jesus, the better we will reflect him to the world around us. But this can be a process of getting free from these things and it can involve kind of digging up stones and pulling out weeds and and we call this process sanctification. It’s when God takes the unholy things in our lives out of our lives. So He makes us more holy, He makes us more like Himself. And when we’re talking about this process, I just want to say, don’t underestimate the power of confession and repentance. We try so many different things to try and get free from some of the addictions and struggles in our lives and sometimes we forget how powerful confession and repentance are. And I also want to say that often the problem that you are facing is on the surface but actually there’s often a root behind the problem, and God knows what the root is. And in my experience when we confess, we just say, “God, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry for that behavior. I don’t want to do this anymore, would you help me turn from it”. What I’ve noticed is often it’s then that God begins to show us where that problem comes from and He begins to do a deep work of healing and deliverance in our lives. And in the next episode we’re going to talk about the biggest root of pretty much all the problems that we struggle with in our lives. But I just want to say this section that I’m talking about now, about unresolved issues, it comes with a warning. Because some people can become so focused on getting their healing that it can become a wrong focus. And sometimes we can be focused on our own problems and other times we can be focused on where we think we need to be, and actually that’s not where we’re supposed to have our eyes. And if we have our eyes in one of those two places instead of moving forward with God, we find ourselves either actually going backwards or going round in circles. Now scripture refers to the “sanctifying work of the Spirit”. That 2 Peter, sorry, first Peter 1 verse 2. So actually sanctification is not a work of the flesh, it’s not something that we can do purely by ourselves. It’s something that the Holy Spirit does and there are two things we need to know. The Holy Spirit leads the process. Why is that important? Well, that means that you must not make your own plan of sanctification for yourself and you also mustn’t let anybody else in your life make a plan of sanctification for you. Often people have their ideas of what needs to change in your life and you have your ideas of what you think needs to change, but actually the Holy Spirit is going to lead this process. He will show you the areas that need to change when it’s the right time to address those areas. The second thing is that although He leads the process, we need to participate. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” So, whenever God puts His finger on something in our lives, we need to say, “God, I’m going to choose to purify myself. I want to get this thing out of my life”. We respond to His leading and 1 John 3:3 says, “All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” So it’s not that we just sit there and go, “Okay then God, would you purify me”. No, He leads the process – he convicts us, and then we have to respond. So one thing I just want to say is, conviction is not the same as condemnation, okay. Sometimes we feel terrible about ourselves because of something we’ve done wrong and we feel, ‘I’m just bad, I’m useless’, and that’s condemnation. That’s not what the Lord does. Condemnation is often very general and you just feel generally discouraged, whereas conviction is specific – it’s when God puts His finger on something very specific in your life, and your job is to respond with confession and repentance, and then seek the Lord. And it might be that He starts to show you the roots of the problems in your life, and you’ll probably find that He’ll lead you to forgive certain people in your life, and we’ll talk more about that in the next episode. But our focus should be on Jesus. So, instead of our focus being on our problems or where we think we need to be, we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. That’s what the Bible says. We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and what we do is we wake up each morning and we say, “God, what do you want to say to me today?” We listen. See, sometimes we’re so busy telling God about our problems, we’ve stopped listening – we’re not listening to the one who could heal us and set us free. So we need to listen and once we’ve heard, we need to obey, one step at a time. Let’s simplify this whole process down to two things: listen and obey. Listen and obey. Today, just do what He’s asking you to do today. And tomorrow just do what he’s asking you to do tomorrow. And you’ll find that you will move way beyond where you even thought you needed to be as you follow his leading. And there are some times in our lives when we really feel like God is drawing our attention to certain things, to certain unresolved issues in our lives, and that could be a significant time of preparation for what is ahead. There are a few comments I just want to make that might be helpful for you. If you’re struggling with addictions or eating disorders – like I said, often emotional pain is behind those things, and you might not even realize it but you’re looking for the comfort and release that those things – whether it’s pornography or masturbation, or food or whatever – the comfort and release that those things bring. Probably because there’s emotional pain that hasn’t been resolved inside of you. When it comes to depression, often that can come from a loss or a perceived loss, something that’s not been fully grieved yet in your life. Or it can come from carrying a lot of emotions that you’ve not properly expressed. You see, in our relationship with God we’re supposed to express our emotions and share with Him how we feel about things, and sometimes we just let things build up and we’ve not expressed them to God and those can be two keys for getting free from depression. If you’re struggling emotionally, it could be that you’ve been badly betrayed or rejected, and that’s still unresolved. And of course you’re going to need to forgive the person who rejected or betrayed you – perhaps it was a divorce or perhaps it was just somebody that you really trusted who did something that you never thought they could possibly do and you’ve been badly hurt, and the process of healing will begin with forgiveness. And sometimes that forgiveness needs to happen in layers. If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, suicidal thoughts don’t just come out of nowhere. Often it starts with rejection. And when somebody’s been rejected, often they will go into self-rejection and start to reject themselves, and if they’re repeatedly rejected and really go into deep self-rejection, the result is self-hatred. And once you get to self-hatred, of course it’s very easy to think, ‘Well it would be better if I wasn’t even on the earth’, and then suicidal thoughts come. So always remember that the problem that you’re facing today might not really be the root of the problem. And as you listen to God, He will start to show you how to get free from the unresolved issues in your life. And sometimes past abuse can be bearing fruit many years later, but I want to tell you wholeheartedly, through my own experience and what I’ve seen God do in the lives of many other people is this: healing is possible. Healing comes in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth – He’s the healer – not only of our bodies but of the broken hearted, and He will lead you into healing if you walk closely with Him and follow Him. And like I said in the next episode, we’re going to look at what we can do to play a part in getting free from our past and also staying free. And as we come to the end of this episode, I want to leave you with this scripture: Psalm 147 verse 3, it says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Let me pray for you. Father, I just want to thank you Lord, that you don’t only save us but you heal us and you set us free. And I just want to thank you that, for anybody who you are bringing up issues in their lives right now, that’s because you’ve got a purpose for them, and you want to resolve the unresolved things in our lives so that we can fulfill your calling on our lives. I just pray right now that you would soften hearts that might have become hard, especially those who have been hurt by others, and I pray, Lord, that you would reveal roots of the problems in our lives and you would lead each one of us to freedom. We thank you that what is impossible with man is possible with God and I just pray you’d prepare us now for episode nine, Lord, and you would prepare us for everything that we’re gonna learn, Lord – the biggest key that there is to healing and freedom. Would you teach us from your Word, Lord and would you use that truth to heal us and set us free in Jesus’ n ame, Amen. I’ll see you in episode 9.