New Year theme: On higher level. We have come to the final minutes of 2011. How grateful are we to God for this year. God has been good to us. He protected us, he provided for us. He gave us food, clothing, shelter, heath, finances, joy, peace. Let’s give thanks to God for 2011.
I prophesy 2012 is going to be an exceptional year. He is going to fulfill His promises and take you to the higher level. Tonight, I want to share with you on the challenging theme of 2012.
We are going to see how we can go to the Higher level. We are also going to see the benefits of being in the Higher Level.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Apostle Paul at this point is taking a deeper look on himself. He is looking back at his life and sees the path that he has come thus far. Apostle Paul is looking at how God has led him, changed him, and used him over the years. He is also bearing in mind his present condition. Remember he is now in a Roman prison. In the mind of people prison was almost like death. It was overcrowded without basic facilities, dark, bound in chains. In other words he was in a tough, difficult situation. The future seemed very bleak. In this condition he finally gathers all faith and looks to the future. He knew God had a higher level of call in his life. He tells he is not going to lose his grip on that hope even though his present is in chains.
I know some of you went through tough times in 2011 but God is promising that you are going to be favoured by God in 2012. The same problems that put you down this year is going to give you the push to go to the higher level next year. You have a greater future.
Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
No matter what your circumstances, no matter what is your present condition is, if you set your mind on the greater call that God has for you, you are going to be there.
Are you ready to go to the higher level? Ask the person next to you. Somebody say I am ready.
I remember going to Lalbagh as a child. We used go as a family and it was fun and I remember playing a lot of games there. But then there is a big rock on the side of the park. Not all who come to the park climb the rock. It takes people with stamina and determination to climb the rock. Those who get to that higher level know it is an altogether different experience on top; it is not the same like walking in the park. The air is different, the feel is different, and the sight is different. Remember God called us to be there on top.
Rock climbing is a good example of getting to the higher level. Sometimes it may be only you. Don’t worry if you are alone, carry on. If you can catch up the vision of the higher level, your family will soon get there in a matter of time.
I remember Abraham walking to Mount Moriah with his son Isaac. This was a walk to a higher level. For three days Abraham walked with his son and servants, but as they came to the foot of the mountain he left the servants there. Now Abraham and his son are walking up to the mountain. But the moment he reached the higher level things changed. He had an altogether different experience with God and he was on a different level from then on.
Remember in order to get to that higher level we need to turn our back on the valleys. We need to instead take the high road of uncompromising integrity so when we step into 2012 we will replace our lives, our families, and our church on the Higher level where God wants us to be.
How Do We Reach The Higher Level?
1. Individually Follow Christ.
If you want to go to the higher level you must be willing to walk alone with God.
My school was 3 km away from our house. We all friends would gather at a point and then we would walk to school together. Everyday we would talk and play and walk with our heavy bags on, but none of us would be tired of the journey and we looked forward to this time everyday. Well one day I became late. My friends thought I am on leave and left. I remember going to school that day. I was tired, sweating, weak, and wondered whether the distance had in fact become double. Walking alone is sometimes tiresome.
It is very easy to follow Christ with a group. It is easy to follow Christ with family and friends around us. Following Christ with a group does not take us to higher ground, it just keeps us moving, but in order to go the higher ground we need to walk alone with God.
How was your walk with God in 2011?
Is there anything that is in-between you and God? Is your job, habits coming in-between you and God? Remember God created us individually and Jesus is interested in your personal walk with him. Every one is responsible for his walk with God.
In Matthew 16 Jesus first asked his disciples, “What do people say that I am?” He wanted to know what the majority said about Him. Later Jesus turned the same question toward his disciples and asked, “Who do you say that I am?” See Jesus is interested in you and your personal walk. Are you following Christ because of you and your personal relation with God or because you are in a system where people believe God or because you are in a family where people force you to go to church?
My thoughts are taking me to the time when Jesus was taken on trial before Pilate before crucifixion. Do you know what Jesus asked him?
John 8:33-34 33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”
Pilate you want to sentence me to death, but are you speaking from your heart or are you speaking on behalf of someone? Are you speaking for the crowd? Are going with the majority or is it your question?
Unfortunately some of us are fearful of standing alone for Christ, we just succumb to the pressures of friends and family and forget that following Christ is an individual walk. They compromise on their walk with God. They go along with the crowd accepting what the majority say. To be on that Higher Ground you need to go against the stream.
I know the real story of 2 believers of City Harvest working in the same office and the same section. Believer one used to go for all parties, had a girlfriend, used to talk ordinary languages and slang of the common workers, and sometimes claim wrong medical bills. Believer two was just the opposite; no parties, no unwanted talk, no malpractices. He in fact shared Jesus to others. How can two people who go to the same church be so different at work?
Friends one was walking in the lower ground and walking with the crowd whereas the other one was walking on the Higher Ground of uncompromising integrity.
Let us move from the lower ground of going with the world to the higher ground of standing alone for Christ.
2. Walk By The Spirit.
Be filled with the Holy Spirit. We must understand we cannot stand alone for God and reach the Higher Ground without the power of the Holy Spirit in us. If you need to reach the height that God has for you we need to walk by the Spirit not by the flesh.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” 2012 will have its own challenges and troubles or maybe some of you are carrying some of your troubles to the next year. Maybe you are sitting here worried about your future, your disobedient child, troubled marriage, problems at workplace. Do not try to solve your problems in human capacity. We have a King and a God who is All Powerful and All Mighty, who is more than able to deliver us. Solve your problems by the Spirit. Flesh tells you do this and do that but the Bible says ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.
Listen, God’s people are the best, powerful, victorious, conquerors when we move by the Spirit. Trust God, pray, do not do things in the natural way but depend on the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
No matter who stands against you, no matter what your problems are if you decide to solve your problems by the Spirit we have a God who works supernatural things for us.
Jesus is the perfect example for a person who walked in the spirit. He came to his people but his own did not receive him. They persecuted him, oppressed him, and schemed against him. Remember Jesus had the support of the common people. He never besieged Jerusalem or floated a political party but, Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He walked by the spirit. Jesus preached, prayed, witnessed, loved, served and even to the point of death he did not use any kind of worldly force or method of conquering the world. That is the higher ground of spiritual life.
In fact he had all the heavenly angels and the army of the Lord at his disposal. Jesus had the power to bring Herod and Pilate to their knees and rule over Jerusalem, but Jesus did not do this. Jesus had the power to calm a thunderous storm in one word, with one word he made a fig tree dry but he never used any of his power for any worldly accomplishments. When the crowd came to make him king Bible says Jesus withdrew alone to the mountain. But when people came to arrest him Peter took the sword and cut the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus said, “Put your sword away!” Jesus did nothing in the capacity of his flesh. Our nature is that we think, act, and work by the flesh.
This year let us use our spiritual weapons to overcome the works of the flesh. When people rise against you do not worry, pray. If you are in a tough position pray and seek God you will find supernatural victory. We do not need the favor of the worldly people and do things like the world, we have our Heavenly Father in glory who gives us victory.
When I am thinking about the path to the heights that God has for us in 2012, I am thinking of the scripture: James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. If we need to achieve that higher level that God has for us, we need to have the humility of mind.
One of the keys of walking by the Spirit is a walk of humility. It is only when we humble ourselves can God lift us to the next level of our life.
Do you remember how James and John reacted when Jesus predicted about his humble death and the impending glory? Jesus was telling them how they would torture him, mock him, and nail him to the cross and look at the response of James and John: Lord can we sit at your left and right hand when you enter glory?
It is incredible. His disciples were always thinking about who was the greatest among themselves and every time Jesus rebuked them for the same. Because Jesus knew that humility is the only path to attain the Higher Grounds of glory.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of self ambition or vein conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
The moment we imitate James and John to exalt ourselves, magnify and pride in us, we are leaving the high ground and walk down to the barren planes of the common man but the moment we imitate Jesus Christ in his humility we walk in the higher ground where God wants us to be.
Jesus humbled himself and God exalted him.
Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Philippians 2:8-9 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.
What happens when we decide to walk on the Higher level? That is when we decide to walk with Christ no matter what the cost, when we walk by the Sprit, and when we walk in humility. God lifts us from the planes of ordinary lifestyle to the Higher level of glory destined for us.
Abraham reached the higher ground in Mount Moriah, his life was different from then on. Moses going up the mountain to receive the 10 commandments was a higher level for him. His face shone with the glory of the Lord when he returned down. Elijah on Mount Carmel was on higher level, with one short prayer fire came down from heaven. His beloved disciples said Lord let us pitch a tent here a stay. Higher level is a great experience.
When we are on the higher level, it is the secret place of God. It is where God dwells. Psalm 91:1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I do not want to stop without telling you the promises of being in the higher ground. Psalm 91 is a psalm of promises for those who stay on the higher ground. Go home and read this Psalm. It says God will save you. God will protect you under his wings. He will take your fear away. No harm will come near you. He will place his angels to watch over you. He will rescue you. God will favor you. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand but it will not come near you.
When you walk in the Higher level you are in the secret place of God. As long as you are in the secret place you are connected and no harm will come near you. David understood the Higher level very well. When David faced Goliath he never called him a giant. All Israel acknowledged Goliath as great but David said: Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God? David was telling, “I am in the Higher Ground. I am in the secret place of God. I am in God’s favor. God protects me, heaven is backing me up. You might be big but my God is great.” God gave David the victory.
Do not let 2012 pass by just like any other year. Walk in integrity, walk in the spirit, be humble and obedient to God. God will lift up to the higher level of God’s favor.
We have a few more minutes to say goodbye to 2011 but I prophesy 2012 is a year of Higher Ground in your Life.