Saturday, September 30, 2017


The first time I gave a word of knowledge in public was to a lady at a health club in Chapel Hill, NC.  I had never met her before. She was a doctor and her husband was an anesthesiologist. I stumbled around very awkwardly with my words, but managed to get them out. I told her the Lord had given me a word to encourage her. I then said, "You are married to your second husband. Your children are from your first marriage. There is tension in the home because your husband and the children do not get along.” She answered, “That’s right. My husband is rather immature." 
I then told her the Lord wanted to encourage her and help her and her family.
My presentation was not polished, but I was relieved to know the Lord had used me in spite of my uncertainty.
Every Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit should be moving in the Holy Spirit to minister to others. My book, Spiritual Power for Everyday Living, gives definitions and examples of spiritual gifts and helps the reader to better understand them. I encourage everyone to go to to order a copy.
The paragraphs below give some practical instruction in how to step out and see the Holy Spirit at work. You don’t have to be a spiritual superstar; you simply have to present yourself by using your feet, hands, and voice in very simple ways. If you follow the instructions below, you will be surprised at how the Holy Spirit will work through you as you open your heart to Him and others.      ---Billy Long

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…” Isaiah 52:7
“Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold he is praying.’”  Acts 9: 10-11

Make an Approach.
Go to someone. You may not know what to say or do. But don’t worry. You must make your approach. Sometimes it’s like diving for the first time---jump off the board and figure it out on the way down. It is okay if you “belly-flop” or hit the water at a bad angle. You learn by doing. Peter sunk in the water, but he was the only one who got out of the boat. Who is the Lord most pleased with…the ones safely in the boat, or the bold one struggling to walk on the water? Even sinking, he was ahead of the others.

“Arise and Go.”
When Jesus appeared to Ananias with instructions for him to minister to Saul of Tarsus, He told him to “Arise and go” (Acts 9: 10-16). Sometimes the first act of faith is to simply get out of the chair and walk over to someone who needs ministry. Sometimes we miss out on the presence and power of God among us because we remain at a physical distance.
In approaching Saul, Ananias had to overcome more fears than we face in our gatherings. He responded to the Lord’s bidding and went to Paul, and the power of God worked through him. We will never minister unless we actually go to the person and make an approach.  It may mean stepping across the room, going to someone’s chair, walking to the front of the room, going across the street, or even across town. The power and the substance of what God wants to give will be given to us as we arise and go. We show faith and courage in simply stepping out.

“A Certain Disciple”
God will use you. You don’t have to be someone special. Ananias was not an apostle or some eminent person. He was like most of us. The Bible simply calls him “a certain disciple.” A true disciple is one who learns, follows, and commits to growth and usefulness in his walk with the Lord. When the Lord spoke to Ananias, his response was “Here am I,” which is equivalent to “Yes, Lord.” The Lord is pleased when we say, “Yes.”

“For Behold He is Praying”
We should be encouraged by the fact that the Holy Spirit works on both ends of the transaction. While the Lord was prompting Ananias to arise and go to Saul, Saul himself was praying and waiting before the Lord. He needed the touch and healing that Ananias was bringing. If we could glimpse into the spiritual realm and really see the needs, hopes, concerns, cries, and agonies that lie beneath the surface, hidden inside the hearts of the people around us, if we only realized how much God in His love desires to speak to, touch, encourage, and bless His children and those with whom we come in contact every day, we would be more motivated to reach out boldly with confidence and faith.

Use Your Hands
Implications of the Touch
If you don’t think you’re spiritual enough to say anything or move in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, you can at least walk over and lay your hand on someone’s shoulder. A touch can say a lot. The laying on of hands can signify sympathy, love, and caring when Christians pray and minister to one another. Reaching out to touch someone when praying for him or her can be a powerful channel for the Holy Spirit. The physical touch on the arm, shoulder, or head seems to break down the “walls” and helps people to open their hearts to receive. The touch implies compassion in the one ministering and receptivity in the one being ministered to. And the Holy Spirit does His work.

A Means of Impartation
Our hands represent the hands of Jesus when we reach out in His name. In the New Testament the laying on of hands was not just a liturgical, ceremonial activity. It was, and still is, a means of impartation. The Lord intends that something substantial and real actually happens. In the New Testament the laying on of hands was a means of…
a.    … imparting blessing. Matthew 19: 13-15; Genesis 48:13-15.
b.    …imparting the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Acts 8:17; 19:6
c.    …imparting healing. Mark 16:18; Luke 4:40.
d.    …commissioning ministries. Acts 6:6; 13:3.
e.    …imparting spiritual gifts. 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1: 6; Rom 1:11.
f.      …releasing God’s purpose. Acts 9: 12-18.

An Instrument of the Holy Spirit
Your hand becomes an instrument of the Holy Spirit when you reach out in faith and compassion. Laying your hand on someone releases the flow of God’s power. The efficacy is in the touch. The woman who had been sick for twelve years said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made whole.” (Matthew 9: 21). Because of her faith, the power of God went into her body when she touched Jesus.

No matter where you are in your spiritual growth, you can always reach out and touch someone. You can allow your hand to be the instrument through which Jesus touches others, especially if you have been filled with the Holy Spirit.

Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”
So the Lord said, “Who has made man’s mouth....Have not I the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” −Exodus 4: 10-12

Speak up
The purpose of this segment is to encourage Christians to speak up in ministering to one another, especially in house groups and in one-to-one relationships. People are more likely to actively participate and interact with one another in a living room setting. Small groups, therefore, should be designed as a platform for openness and communication, a setting where people are at ease and comfortable enough to let down their walls, to listen, and to speak. We quench the Spirit when we are closed and silent. We allow the Holy Spirit to move when we remove the walls and open our hearts to one another. Churches need small groups that allow for relational interaction rather than always being centered around some agenda or a mini version of the large groups where people sit theater style listening to someone up front.

You don’t have to be a pastor to minister a word to others. The man Ananias whom Jesus sent to Saul was only a “certain disciple.” He held no ministerial office. A large portion of the church (except the apostles) was scattered abroad during time of Stephen’s persecution. They were not primarily preachers. They were Christians who had a testimony and went out “speaking” the word (Acts 11:19). The word “speaking” in this verse is not the Greek word for “preaching,” but simply the generic term “speaking.” The term implies individuals sharing their life and testimony in daily conversation with people they met every day in informal settings. They were willing to open their mouths and say something.

You don’t have to preach a sermon. You can share your testimony, tell someone what the Lord did for you or said to you. You can share the impression you received while listening or praying. As we interact with one another the Holy Spirit will use us in any of the following ways:
1.    Prayer. To simply walk over to someone and pray for them.
2.    Exhortation. To compassionately advise, encourage, or stir people to action.
3.    Prophecy. To speak a word from the Lord by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
4.    A word of knowledge. To share a revelation of some fact or issue.
5.    A Word of faith. A confident word that brings God’s answer or stirs others to faith.
6.    A word of wisdom. A word given to help in a difficult situation or time of perplexity.
7.    A word of comfort or encouragement.
8.    An expression of love and care
9.    A simple word to let a person know you are there and that you care. (You don’t have to have all the answers. People often just need to know someone is standing with them.)
10. Weeping over someone. Our tears are effective in touching the  
     hearts of others.

Our ministry to one another does not have to be thunderous or overwhelming. The power is in the still, small voice as we share the life of the Lord through humble and encouraging words or prayers. Even if we have little to offer, we must realize that the Lord will multiply our “bread” as we step out in faith and share it. He touches people with His love as we present ourselves to be instruments of His love.

What’s in the heart is what flows forth in our speech. The mouth functions properly when the heart is cultivated properly. The Christians who are most effective in ministry to others are those who have a genuine relationship with Jesus, who fellowship with Him in daily Bible reading and prayer, and who desire to reach out to others.
Therefore, when you approach someone who has requested prayer or ministry, you must remember that the Holy Spirit is with you and “the word is very near you, even in your mouth and in your heart.” You must simply step out in faith and share it.

"The Lord has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.”    Isaiah 50:4

Saturday, August 12, 2017


(The following article is stern in it's words to the industry, but God is merciful to individuals who call upon him. He forgives and heals. --- Billy Long)

Excavations of pre-Israelite Canaan uncovered a large number of jars containing the remains of children sacrificed to Baal. Other excavations discovered many jars containing the remains of infants who had been sacrificed to Baal during King Ahab’s time. These jars bring to mind the photos of garbage cans filled with baby parts at abortion clinics. I showed one of these pictures to a high school girl once. Her reply was, “That’s just propaganda.” She was not able to bring herself to face the fact she was looking at actual babies dismembered and thrown away. Her political position would not allow her to accept the fact that these babies went through torture and excruciating pain as they were being killed and taken from their mother’s wombs.

The religious rites of Baal worship were noted for their sexual and immoral indulgences and for child sacrifice. Our own culture with its rampant sexual promiscuity has produced over 60 million abortions. The sexual practices of Baal worship and the promiscuity of our own current culture show that unbridled sexual activity outside of marriage leads to the death of children, whether sacrificed in religious worship to a pagan god or dismembered inside a mother’s womb to the god of convenience. In either case, the remains of infants are left behind in jars and garbage bins.

Statistics show that a large percentage of women/girls who are allowed to see the ultrasound of their baby will choose not to go through with the abortion. They see a child in the womb and not a blob or mass of cells. That’s why the abortion industry lobbies so hard to block any legislation that requires them to show the ultra-sound to the mother. The child in the womb recoils in pain from the sharp instruments of the abortionist. One well-known video showing the ultra-sound of an abortion was appropriately titled “The Silent Scream.” If the same procedures were performed on a baby outside the womb the cries of that same child would be heart-wrenching.

The practice of partial-birth abortions proves the evil and callousness of the industry. It is absolutely astounding that any normal adult would not grieve and be repulsed at idea of partial-birth abortions. In this practice the live child is first pulled from the womb and into the birth canal, except for the head. The abortionist then punctures the base of the skull, suctions out the brains, and removes a dead baby from the mother’s body. If the entire body of the child were to be removed first, this practice would legally be considered murder. It is foolishness to say that location determines life. The practice of partial birth abortions proves that the debate over when life begins is a waste of time when dealing with avid abortionists. The evidence seems to show they do not really care.

Our culture has degenerated to the point that sexual promiscuity is prevalent, encouraged, and expected. In this atmosphere there will be growing numbers of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. The operative word is “unwanted.” Abortions are given not for medical reasons, but rather for the convenience of the mother and because of economic factors in her life. The mother does not want the child, and the abortion industry is making millions and millions of dollars.

Murder, whether it is on the street or in the womb, causes the land to be defiled and “guilty of blood.” The moral issues do matter. A godly and righteous nation might survive even with bad economic policies, but an immoral nation filled with ungodly practices will inevitably face the judgments of God, unless there is repentance. Where are the cries from the church and from the pulpit?

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. It is in the womb that God first breathes life into a person. We should stand in awe and reverence at this divine and mysterious process. We should also be afraid to trample upon that which is so sacred and wonderful.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Roy Rogers   Billy Long   1967
It was September 1967, my freshman year at ORU. There was a prayer chapel on the ground floor of the men’s dorm. It was a small room with an altar and a few short benches. I would often enter it at night to pray. The only light I needed was coming from the lobby and shining through the stain glass windows of the door.

The first time I went in there to pray, I discovered there was another student, Roy Rogers, lying on the floor at the altar. He was wrestling with God much like Jacob in Genesis 32 and was in deep intercession and literally groaning before the Lord. I don’t think he realized I was there. He was passionate but not emotional. His spirit was in travail and crying out to the Lord regarding some serious issue. His intensity reminded me of the agony Jesus went through in the Garden of Gethsemane. His prayers were deeper than simple intellect or the shallowness of typical prayers we often hear. We became good friends. I found that it was not uncommon for Roy to be in intercession even as he carried on his daily activities. I remember more than once, while standing around talking with friends, I noticed Roy’s lips moving slightly and almost imperceptibly as He prayed in the Spirit under his breath. He was not aware that we noticed it. Even in the crowd he was in “the secret place” with the Lord.

I believe those prayers were the reason for the very obvious presence of the Lord that filled the room whenever Roy sang. I remember the holy hush that fell over the auditorium as he lifted his voice in praise and worship. His anointing did not manifest in some affected style or hype. He simply stood there calmly and sang, and Jesus walked through the auditorium.
I received a message today that Roy went on to be with the Lord this morning. My heart is sad for our loss, but rejoice that he is with the Lord and, I am sure, singing in heaven’s choir.  ----Billy Long

Monday, July 31, 2017


“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” -Genesis 1:1.

Life is infinitely too complex to have come into being randomly and by itself. There are so many interdependent systems that are necessary for the existence of life on earth; and the degree of refinement, accuracy, and perfection in the coordinated performance of all these operations necessary for life are too complex to exist apart from design. They are independent yet dependent and interdependent, and their functions must be exactly precise and with perfect timing. These dynamics testify to the existence and reality of God.
I see the reality of God in many simple, subtle, and yet so obvious aspects of life that we often take for granted. For example, look at your nose. It is located in a most beneficial and practical place on your body. The nostrils point down so you don’t have to cover them to keep rain from falling into your sinuses. It is just above your mouth so that the sense of smell can work together with your sense of taste to help you enjoy your food. I can think of other more unpleasant places your nose could have been located. Your ears have their own little “satellite dishes” on the sides of your head to help capture sound. Your eyes are in recessed sockets to help protect them. They are located in the front of your head so you can see where you are going. Your feet point in the same direction as your eyes. The size of our moon, its distance from the earth, the tilt of the earth’s axis, the distance of the earth from the sun: If you change any of these in the smallest degree you will end life on earth. This is also true of the numerous systems that operate in the human body: Skeletal, circulatory, reproductive, pulmonary, muscular, neurological, etc.

Life is just too orderly to have come into being without design. Everywhere you look you see evidence of design. The necessary interacting, interdependent, and coordinated operations of the systems required for life, from biological to geological to astronomical are so exact and precise that it is impossible for life to have developed on its own by chance.
And what about sex? I could rest my case on that point, but will continue my thoughts. Male and female. In terms of species development the world could not have seen reproduction without the complete and fully developed male and female. If you could have reproduction without these, then there would have been no need for male and female. So how could this have possibly evolved---two separate systems made to be completely separate and absolutely compatible, and yet totally interdependent with neither being able to carry out the reproductive function without the other? There would have been no births, no reproduction without fully developed reproductive systems. “SOMEBODY” had to design this, and it had to begin fully functional. And then there is the fact of consciousness and self-awareness that everyone has at birth. This in itself shouts the reality of God. A mindless process of evolution could never create consciousness, even over millions of years.   

This law of “irreducible minimums” eliminates the possibility of evolution. Scientists have discovered that there is no such thing as a “simple cell” to start with. [Just get a scientist to explain the complexity of the DNA in any single cell]. I recently saw a documentary on TV in which a scientist described the complexity even in the single-celled amoeba. Too many complex, separate, yet interdependent systems have to be in operation at the same time for life to exist. If you eliminate any one of them, life would cease to exist. In other words, for life to exist, all of these systems would have to be created simultaneously.

Evolution is almost treated as a god by its proponents. It is referred to as if it thinks, plans, and intentionally designs. It is, in fact, a very awkward and yet convenient way for people to try to avoid God. Evolution itself is foolish, but if you do away with God, evolution is about the only thing you are left with to explain how we got here. So the very concept of “evolution” is a product of intellectual “devolution,” i.e., what you arrive at by default when you reject the reality of God. A few years ago I was reading a book in which the author had recorded his conversation with a prominent evolutionist. The evolutionist told him, “We did not evolve from anything. Life is too complex to have evolved, but I prefer to believe in evolution than to believe in God.”
I prefer to believe in God. It is more comforting to believe in God, that there is a power beyond and greater than our comprehension who created us as finite beings with limited capacity to understand the created universe, and who created us with no capacity within ourselves to comprehend or grasp the infinite realities beyond our created universe, but Who also desires to introduce us to Himself and take us beyond what we see and know. As the Bible says, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love Him."
If there is no God, then we face the most depressing prospects, a meaningless procession of people heading into an eternal oblivion. But there is a God and this gives us hope for eternal life. The very issues raised in the paragraphs above echo the words of the psalmist who tells us that the heavens, the earth, and all creation testify to the glory and existence of God. This means that there is more to life than this life. This is only the beginning, not the end. To see and understand this, one must look up to the One who is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ our Lord who brings us to the Father.
"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him." -Colossians 1: 16.
"For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. -Romans 11: 36.
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead..."            -Romans 1: 20.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the expanse of heaven His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their sound has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." -Psalm 19: 1-4.

Friday, July 14, 2017


Take note…and be sure your sin will find you out.   Numbers 32:23
I once saw a fellow falling asleep during a college lecture. To hide it from the professor he rested his chin on one hand with his elbow propped on the desk. He held the pen in the other hand and moved it every once in a while to make it appear he was writing. His plan was working until he began falling into a deeper sleep. His head sagged lower and lower until he was sound asleep with his head lying flat on the desk with his right hand still holding the pen to the notebook and against his head. Every now and then the pen would oscillate as if he were taking notes. Asleep, he thought he was fooling the professor.

A seminary professor once told us of an experience he had in a college Latin class. Students had copies of Caesar’s Gallic Wars written in Latin and were being called on to read and translate paragraphs in class. One fellow was cheating. He had written the English translation in very small fine print just above each Latin word. The professor called on him, and he began reading as if he were translating the Latin. There is one point in the chapter where Caesar sees crows fly over the river. When the student got to this sentence, he continued reading his small, hand-written print, and said, “And the cows flew over the river.” The whole class then burst into laughter. The young man being puzzled, stopped for a second, and then resumed reading, “And the cows flew over the river.” Once again the whole class burst into laughter. Getting very frustrated, the student yelled out, “What is everyone laughing at?” To which the professor responded, “You Jackass, you can’t even read your own writing! It’s ‘the CROWS flew over the river,” His sin was evident to the entire class.

My father and Uncle Norwood, when they were children in the early 1900s, planted corn by walking down each row in the field carrying a bag of kernels, poking holes with a stick, and dropping a kernel of corn into each hole. Uncle Norwood knew that the sooner he ran out of corn the sooner he could leave the field and go play. Assuming he had the perfect plan, he buried a handful of kernels at the end of each row so he could get rid of them quicker. No one would know. But when the corn began to sprout through the soil my grandfather found large clumps of corn plants growing at the end of many rows. The “sin” that was hidden beneath the soil “shouted” its presence in the light of the sun as seed grew through the soil. The lesson here is that the deed may hide as seed, but the sprout will surely shout.

I read a story in Readers Digest years ago about two defendants in court being tried for armed robbery. The prosecutor, addressing a person on the witness stand, said, “You saw two men running out of the store carrying guns and a large bag of money.” The witness said, “Yes.” The prosecutor then, turned toward the people in the courtroom as he again addressed the witness, “Now are these two men in the courtroom today?” Before the eyewitness could respond, both defendants raised their hands. 

All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.  Hebrews 4:13

He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore, whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.”    Luke 12: 1-3

Monday, July 10, 2017


 “…there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies….”  2 Peter 2:1

In 1972 I was on staff at a church in Southern California that had sprung up during the Jesus Movement. The spiritual hunger of those days produced a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit causing churches to overflow with young people and hippies who had surrendered to Jesus Christ. There was also a rise in false religions, new age, and occult practices. One of the heresies of the day was the Moonies. A few of them visited our fellowship one evening and tried to convince me that their group’s beliefs were based on the Bible. I quoted the Bible pointing out a number of their teachings that contradicted scripture. They seemed a little stunned and had no real answer, except that they would discuss these issues with their leader. The next week they returned. But this time their argument was that “the Bible is just another book and full of errors,” and they had revelation higher than the scripture.

This is the pattern of deception. The leaders tell the unstable, unlearned, and gullible that their teaching is biblical and based on scripture, or they keep secret their position of departure from scripture. But the further the person goes into it, he is subtly, and often imperceptibly, lured away from the Bible. The Moonies' leader initially told their converts they stood on scripture. But when confronted with Biblical objections, the leaders then told their followers to ignore the Bible. Heresies have to ignore either all or parts of the Bible.

When I was at seminary, a student who was pastor of a mainline denominational church returned from officiating a funeral. As he walked from his car to his apartment he turned to me and said, “I just preached a funeral. It’s hard to stand in front of people and say things you don’t really believe.” This man stood at the pulpit every Sunday and “preached” to his congregation without really believing the Bible. The members of that church were dying of spiritual malnutrition without being aware of it. It is an indictment against the pastor for deceiving the church into thinking he believed the Bible. It is an indictment against the church for not having enough spiritual life, knowledge of scripture, and discernment to recognize the situation.

Heretics usually lull the vulnerable, the gullible, and the unstable by gradually leading them off track and into error. There are four euphemism for unbelief used by leaders who do not believe the Bible. A “euphemism” is a more agreeable or less offensive term used as substitute for a word that might suggest something unpleasant. I am listing four concepts that on the surface sound innocent, but which carry disastrous consequences. You will know people have problems believing or understanding the Bible when they approach it saying it has many interpretations, questioning whether or not it is literal, saying it "contains" the word, or that we can be selective in reading it.

The Bible is rich in depth and layers of truth, but it does not have many interpretations. The word is true as presented. When people try to interpret the Bible they are usually trying to avoid the apparent word, principle, or command that is given. The apostle Peter said, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  2 Peter 1:20-21. The Bible was given to us by God Himself. It has definite, clear, and absolute meaning. It is to be taken at face value.
“Is it to be taken literally?”
People who make an issue of literality are usually avoiding the issue of truth. People who say the Bible can’t be taken literally are actually saying they do not believe it is true. Again, this question is often used to avoid accepting certain truths or principles, or commands that are given. The Bible is true, not symbolic.

“It contains the word.”
This concept has been taught in liberal seminaries. Basically it means that the actual written text of the Bible, its history, stories, and messages are not necessarily actual fact and are not in themselves the word of God. They say the Bible is not the word of God, but rather contains the word of God. This heresy allows people to ignore the obvious truth of scripture and simply draw from it whatever they feel God might be saying in it.
This allows persons to ignore the obvious message and find something more palatable to their tastes.
“Being selective with scripture.”
This is the belief that we can be selective or pick which parts of the Bible we choose to believe. This is an arrogance that allows us to judge the Bible instead of allowing it to judge us.

We cannot deny the scripture and claim to believe and obey God. The New Testament has many exhortations to know and believe God’s written word. It is also filled with admonitions and warnings about ignoring it, despising it, or twisting it. You cannot hide or escape the true and real word of God. The word of God will not be indifferent to you, and it is a mistake to think you can be indifferent to it. You might laugh at it, despise it, underestimate it, and think it is gone. But it will come back, and it will get you…either in your surrender, or in your judgment.

“If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”   John 5: 46-47

“If they do not believe Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.”  Luke 16: 31

“…our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.”   2 Peter 3: 15-16

Sunday, April 30, 2017


In our darkest moments we often think we have failed or that we have not lived up to our potential. To some degree this may be true for most of us. But ultimately we must do our best... and leave the judgment to God.
In a dark dungeon and about to be beheaded, John the Baptist sent word to Jesus saying, “Are you the ONE or do we look for another?” These sad words express the despair of one who, for a moment, thought he had failed. Jesus responded with words of reassurance letting John know that the work he started was going forth gloriously with signs and wonders, and that John had correctly pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world.
A friend who was struggling with a sense of failure recently sent me the following message:
"Here is my question, Billy Long: If I can’t see that I have accomplished much with my life thus far for the Kingdom, and certainly not what I may have expected to back in our salad days at ORU, how realistic is it to believe my story is going to dramatically alter and start counting for something at 60 years old~?! (And don’t even get me to speculate as to whether I would be willing to endure anything like what R____ has in order for that dramatic change to occur.)" ---L. P.
We must serve Jesus Christ in the present. Obedience now (today) is not based on what we accomplished “yesterday.” We walk with Him NOW. Tomorrow is in His hands. The fruit and the results are also all in His hands. I don’t obey and walk with Him today based on what I think I will have accomplished tomorrow. I don’t obey today based on whether or not I did yesterday. I reach out and take His hand today, and follow Him “now.”
Fruit and accomplishments are also His to judge and deal with. Pick any Israelite family during the 400 years in Egypt when God was silent, and all they knew was the routine daily trudge and toil as slaves. Subjectively it would have felt like the biggest waste and futility of life. But they HAD to just BE THERE. Even when empty, desperate, half-dead, and hurting, they had to just simply be a link in the lineage, a holder of the baton until the fullness of time came and Moses arrived to take them to Canaan. There had to be physical lineage links from Jacob and Joseph to Moses and Canaan.
David completed his course and served the purpose of God in his generation (Acts 13: 36) even though his life was not perfect. There were many incidences in his life in which he could have been called a failure, yet he still went on to fulfill God's purpose and was called a man after God's heart. David's example shows us that God, while not condoning sin and irresponsibility, does factor in our mistakes, failures, and short-comings. He probably makes more allowances for these things than we do. "He knows our frame; He remembers that we are but dust" (Psalm 103: 8-14). Therefore, He extends great mercy and abundant grace to those who sincerely desire and seek to do His will.
There are examples in the Bible of people who genuinely failed in God's service, but generally these failures are indicative of heart problems rather than competency issues. King Saul is an example. He was disqualified and removed from the throne, not because he lacked skill at being a king, but because he did not have a heart to obey the Lord (Acts 13: 22; 1 Cor. 9: 27). He failed in his obedience and faith, and he refused to surrender to the will of God. The issue comes back to the heart. A person who is rebellious at heart will fail and then use his failure as an excuse to further disobey. A person who has a heart after God may stumble but will get back up and persevere in his attempt to please God and do His will.
God is the ultimate judge of success and failure. In one phase of ministry I felt I was riding a graceful and beautiful thoroughbred. In another phase I felt I was riding a bucking bronco, tossed and thrown. A third situation felt like sitting on an old sway-back, gray mule who could barely stand up. The first seemed a success, the second a partial success and a partial failure, while the third started off slow and then gradually tapered off—basically it failed. But things are not always as they seem. Man and God do not always esteem things the same, and the mysteries of His will are not always known to us. Therefore, in all circumstances, we should endure and hold to Jesus in faith. We should do our best and let God be the judge. Sometimes we succeed in God's plan while failing in our own, while at other times we fail in our own while succeeding in His. What we think is failure may not be failure at all. But when the failure is real, God is able to work redemptively and turn our shame into double honor.
“Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.” Psalm 25:20