Part 1- Right Thinking and Extraordinary Books
Have you ever read biographies of great Christians?
· You know the Bible is full of biographical information
· What do we know about Abraham for example?
· What do we know about the Apostle Paul?
· So, reading biographies of great or prominent Christians is a good godly thing to do.
o You should read in this area.
o You will learn some things about God while reading biographies of great Christians. Also, it will inspire you to possibilities that are available in God.
o Mark it down the dedication of these men will inspire you to examine your own degree of commitment and challenge you to bring up the level of your game.
· Here are some great Christians you might consider reading.
o John G. Lake (1870-1935)
§ Missionary to South Africa. Walked away from a salary estimated into today’s market at over 1.25 million dollars a year in order to win people to Jesus. God translated him in the Spirit realm much like Ezekiel and he saw explicit details of South Africa while praying in America. So much so that when he landed in South Africa, he needed no guide to take him around. He had already seen the land before he ever landed. He had a phenomenal healing ministry.
o Marie Woodworth Etter (1844-1924)
§ Her book, ‘A Diary of Signs and Wonders’ is a classic. One of the most famous signs in her ministry were the trances that Maria herself would fall into hours at a time. During some of these trances she would often hold a pose of one hand pointing up to Heaven and one pointing down to Hell. It is recorded that she once fell into a trance during mid-sentence and remained in a frozen position for three days. During this time, all her bodily functions were suspended. Men tried to move her but could not. Thousands of people filled into the building to look at her as they would a corpse at a funeral. After three days, she suddenly picked up right where she left off and finished her sentence and her sermon, like nothing had ever happened!
o David Brainerd (1718-1747)
§ An American missionary to Native Americans, specifically the Delaware Indians of New Jersey. Brainerd was an intense prayer warrior to such an extent that he would literally sweat while praying even while kneeling in snow. He prayed for a breakthrough among the Native Americans and God’s power visited them mightily.
§ Here is a quote from his diary:
· July 21, 1744, on hearing that the Native Americans were planning to hold an idolatrous feast and dance the next day, he spent a day and night in prayer. He writes: “This morning about nine I withdrew to the woods for prayer. I was in such anguish that when I rose from my knees I felt extremely weak and overcome, and the sweat ran down my face and body … I cared not where or how I lived, or what hardships I went through, so that I could but gain souls for Christ. I continued in this frame all the evening and night.” The result of this season of prayer was that there was no idolatrous feast – it was cancelled and instead they were willing to listen to him preach the gospel an entire day, something completely unheard of among this group of people.
o John Nelson (Praying) Hyde (1865-1912)
§ Missionary to the Punjab (Pakistan and India). An intense person of prayer – in 1899 he started praying entire nights, a practice which continued for years. In 1904, he shared, at a conference, a dream he had of one soul being saved every day. A year later, there were 400 coverts. He came to be called “Praying Hyde” for his passionate prayers to reach lost souls. He prayed so much, that his heart had moved from its normal position (in the left) to the right. He was known for the phrase that he uttered much while in prayer, “Give me souls or I die”.
o Robert Murray McChennye (1813-1843)
§ Scottish minister known for his deep piety
o Rees Howells (1879-1952)
§ Great intercessor known for his intense prayer ministry during World War 2. He would literally pray out some of the battles in advance. During the Battle of Britain, German warplanes with clear numerical air superiority all of sudden turned and went home.
o Evan Roberts (1878-1951)
§ Catalyst of the Welsh Revival.
o Andrew Murray (1828-1917)
§ Authored 240 books and was instrumental in the South African revival of 1860.
o Charles Finney (1792-1875)
§ His revivals produced the greatest retention rate for salvations at over 80%. In Finney’s revivals, converts got saved and stayed saved! He was a man of deep prayer. He started his day by routinely praying for 3 hours from 4-7am.
o Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947)
o Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003)
· This series, for the next five weeks, is about some of the ‘holy habits’ of highly effective believers.
Right Thinking and Extraordinary Books
· Thinking and books go together because what makes a book exceptional is exceptional thoughts.
o A good book has good thoughts
o A great book has great thoughts.
o You cannot be effective for God and think junky thoughts.
· Most people do not do their own thinking. They parrot what other people have said. They have a second hand experience of God.
· I want to challenge you today in this.
o In fact if I may go a bit further without trying to offend, push the envelope out some more if you will, let me challenge you this morning with this statement.
§ “Most Christians want their ministers or their teachers to…
· find God for them,
· access His things for them,
· pray His blessings down for them
· usher His anointing’s in for them
· and the most important thing…
o serve all that up in a nice tidy package in under an hour.
o You read these biographies and you will find out that that is not how it is.
§ I challenge you today to do your own seeking of God.
§ Have a firsthand continual experience
§ Stop being content with just having correct doctrine.
§ And the most important thing
· Get over the time thing!
God Believes In Books
· He inspired 66 of them to be written in order that He may have an avenue of revealing Himself.
· Here is something that may surprise you, the word ‘book’ is mentioned 165x in the Bible.
o Which does away with the argument that has been proposed that, ‘We do not need any books except the Bible.’
o God Himself does not believe that. Because He personally has books other than the Bible!
Malachi 3:16 (KJV 1900)
16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: And the LORD hearkened, and heard it, And a book of remembrance was written before him For them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
Psalm 56:8 (ESV)
8 You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?
o Smith Wigglesworth was one of these people in the early part of his ministry who did not believe in books. In fact, young ministers who were trying to emulate the great man of God, went home and burned their libraries. But, a funny thing happened with him – someone went and collected a bunch of his sermons and published them into a book called – ‘Ever Increasing Faith’! Wigglesworth used the sales of that book to fund missionary outreaches. He changed his tune on books later on.
o Let’s make it clear, we are not saying that all books are equal, they absolutely are not.
o Books, simply, are a medium of communication. If we do not need books, then we do not need CD’s, DVD’s, Christian television, or any other medium designed to communicate.
o Let me close this point out by asking you a rather silly question just to make a point about God’s thinking about books.
§ Do you think that God inspired Guttenberg to make the printing press in order that man-kind might have access to porn and trashy novels?
o You certainly could not think that God gave man this witty invention called ‘books’ so that atheists and God-haters would have a medium to express their opinions?
o No, God inspired the creation of books that men may come to know God for themselves.
Acquiring Worthy Thinking from Books Means Reading Books Correctly.
· There is a way to read them correctly.
· It starts first with finding books of quality. How do you find it?
· Start with the right kind of book!
o You are not going to know God reading romance novels, New York Times Bestsellers, and epic sci-fi series.
o You need to read godly spiritual material.
· Pick an author you know is anointed.
o There is a thinking that people need to read broadly. I disagree – read narrowly, according to how you are led.
o Pick your authors carefully especially if you are young in the things of God.
o Here is my personal line in the sand.
§ I read after people that are prayers.
§ Build your spiritual life around people that are people of prayer.
§ Prayer takes discipline and self-sacrifice
§ There is absolutely something tangible about the thoughts expressed by people that have spent a lot of time in God’s Presence.
· While reading, observe your spirit.
Galatians 3:3 (ESV)
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
o If you want spiritual edification, do not read a book mentally or with your mind only.
o What strikes your heart?
o I can tell you from personal experience that God uses books to communicate, to education, and to edify. Look for it.
o Look for something that registers on your heart.
o Those things that register are what you preach or communicate.
§ When you do it this way, what you say will have anointing on it.
· Read with the Right Motive
o Your motive should be to help someone else.
§ There is absolutely something wrong with the term that is popular today – self-help!
§ Self-help means it is all about you.
§ “Yes but I have problems!”
· For Those Who Say They Are Not Readers
o I have heard people say, I do not read because “I am not a reader’.
§ Let me try and help you with this
· Someone told you a lie and you believed it!
§ It is a lie because God wrote a book for you to read – the Bible!
· That means, you do like to read, you just have not found it out yet!
§ God did not write the Bible for people who just like to read, He wrote it for everybody.
o If you find the right author and read the right type of book and read it with the right motive, and you still do not like to read then something is absolutely wrong with your spiritual experience!
§ Because at the very minimum…
· The right author is God
· The right book is the Bible
· The right motive is the love of God.
§ If you cannot hook into these three things, something is very wrong with your experience.
Bible Truth and Giving Credit
· People sometimes get confused here.
· Here is the question, if you hear a Bible truth that is outstanding to you, should you give that person, minister, preacher the credit for what you heard?
o Like ‘You know I heard this from so and so…’
· The answer to that is a resounding No!!!
o People get hung up on all kinds of things.
o In reality, if you do, you will ALWAYS end up giving the credit to the wrong person – 100% of the time!!!
o The credit should not go to anyone except the Holy Spirit – all of the time!
o If a truth registered in your spirit from a book you were reading, it was not that author that put that truth there.
· Only the Holy Spirit can impart truth.
John 16:13 (ESV)
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
o It is impossible (cannot be done) for a man to impart truth to your spirit.
o Only the Spirit of God can impart truth.
o If you could impart truth on your own, you would have had your relatives straightened out a long time ago!!!
o If something dawns on your heart, it is the Holy Spirit who did it and He should get the credit.
o It was not the author of the book that did it. It is not the speaker on the CD or the DVD or the minister or the Sunday School teacher that caused that truth to be real to you.
· Secondly, You Have Never An Original Thought In Your Life
o Now, it may original to you but it is not truly, to the bone, original.
§ Everything you have ever learned, you learned from someone else.
§ Every worthy thought strings back to God – every thought!
o If you really want to get technical about this idea of giving credit, understand that your whole knowledge base is, in reality, a copyright infringement!!!
§ Because everything you have ever learned, you learned from someone else.
o If the Spirit of God deposited a truth in your heart, that truth is now your truth, not that speakers truth!
o Give the credit to God and don’t get hung up over small things!