By Melody Mason
I will never forget, a number of years ago, as I was preparing to lead a prayer service for a large event, how the Holy Spirit convicted me of something specific in my life that I needed to make right with God. Overwhelmed, I sank to my knees on the floor that night as I prayed, ?Oh Lord, please forgive me…?
However, while I confessed my sin to God, certain steps were necessary to make proper amends. But I couldn?t take these steps immediately, so I wasn?t sure what to do. Should I still go forward with my prayer ministry responsibilities or should I get someone else to fill in for me until I had made things right?
As a respected leader in ministry, it was very humiliating to think of admitting to others that I had failed God in a specific area. I didn’t want to make a stir and appear spiritually weak to my teammates, or to the many strangers that were in attendance at the meetings. So, with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes, I went to sleep that night, determined that I would just ask someone else to lead the prayer service the next day.
However, the next morning as I set out to find someone to take my place, God stopped me in my tracks as the Holy Spirit began speaking to my heart. “Melody, you need to lead the prayer service this morning. Don?t get someone to replace you!?
?Wait God?You can?t mean this?? I said as fresh tears came to my eyes. But the Holy Spirit continued to speak to my heart.
?Yes, I want you to lead, however, you are not to lead it as the person you want everyone to think you are. Don?t you see? I?m not looking for people to lead who cover up their sins and go on as if everything is okay. I?m looking for yielded broken vessels; vessels that will humble themselves to such a degree that pride is gone. Only then can I really use them for My glory. I know this hurts, but you need to share with the congregation what I convicted you of last night. Be honest about how you?ve failed Me! Then invite them to come with you to the cross to put away all sin and compromise. You see, if people wait to come until they have everything in order, they will never come.?
Again, I began to protest. ?I can?t do this, Lord! What will everyone think when they see how I?ve failed You??
The Holy Spirit spoke softly to my heart as He turned my eyes toward heaven. ?It doesn?t matter what they think. This is not about protecting your reputation. This is about bringing glory to God. But, if He is to work, you must humble yourself.?
Oh, how I did not want to obey the Holy Spirit?s promptings that morning. If I could have run away like Jonah, or crawled in a cave, I would have done so immediately. But I knew what I must do. I had to obey.
Shaking and with tears in my eyes, I went before hundreds of people that morning and shared what the Lord had laid on my heart. You could have heard a pin drop in the room as everyone listened. ?Jesus tells us to come as we are,? I said softly, as I continued to the wipe tears away from my eyes. ?So, I?m coming as I am and I?m inviting you to join me at the foot of the cross.?
At this invitation everyone got out of their chairs and came forward to the front of the room. There was soft weeping here and there as different people asked God?s forgiveness for those areas of sin and compromise that had crept into their lives. And the Holy Spirit was there. In the book Steps to Christ we are told:
?If you see your sinfulness, do not wait to make yourself better. How many there are who think they are not good enough to come to Christ. Do you expect to become better through your own efforts? ?Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.? Jeremiah 13:23. There is help for us only in God. We must not wait for stronger persuasions, for better opportunities, or for holier tempers. We can do nothing of ourselves. We must come to Christ just as we are.? (Steps to Christ, p. 31)
In hindsight, I think this was one of the most sweet, sacred prayer services I?ve ever experienced, for God did a deep work of cleansing among all of us that morning. Many hearts were broken, but how beautiful and healing the brokenness was. In Psalm 51:17 the Bible tells us, ?The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart?These, O God, You will not despise.?
What offering are you seeking to bring to God these days? Is it your best works, your best prayers, your best attempts to be a strong witness even in the midst of life-shattering events? Our best offering has nothing to do with our works, but is the complete brokenness of self, of pride and all self-sufficiency as we come to the foot of the cross. As the famous hymn Rock of Ages says so beautifully, ?Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.? Let?s cling to that cross today!
Melody Mason is coordinator for the United in Prayer program for the General Conference. She also assists with resource development for the Revival and Reformation website and initiatives and is the author of Daring to Ask for More: Divine Keys to Answered Prayer. The story in this week?s devotional has been taken from her brand-new book just released in April titled, Daring to Live by Every Word: Loving God with Heart, Body, Mind and Soul.
HEART QUESTIONS: Where does God dwell (see Isaiah 57:15) and what are the results of godly sorrow (see 2 Corinthians 7:9-11)? What did David ask for in his prayer of repentance (see Psalm 51:1-19)? Contrast that with how Saul responded when reprimanded for his sins (1 Samuel 15:1-30). Which biblical character do you most identify with when you are shown your sins?the one who seeks to justify himself and to maintain honor with the people, or the one who openly acknowledges his sin with a broken heart of genuine repentance?
ACTIVE HEART CHALLENGE: Prayerfully read through the ?Beauty of Humility? as you go through this coming week. It?s not something we should evaluate just at the beginning of our spiritual journey, but all along the way. As you go through this heart challenge, ask God if there?s any pride in your life that you have yet to surrender, or anyone in your sphere of influence (family, friends, work colleagues) of whom you need to ask forgiveness. Then obey the Holy Spirit?s leading. (Psalm 66:18, Matthew 5:23-24, Proverbs 28:13, Matthew 6:14-15)
?. . . however trifling this or that wrong act may seem in the eyes of men, no sin is small in the sight of God. Man?s judgment is partial, imperfect; but God estimates all things as they really are. The drunkard is despised and is told that his sin will exclude him from heaven; while pride, selfishness, and covetousness too often go unrebuked. But these are sins that are especially offensive to God; for they are contrary to the benevolence of His character, to that unselfish love which is the very atmosphere of the unfallen universe. He who falls into some of the grosser sins may feel a sense of his shame and poverty and his need of the grace of Christ; but pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give.? (Steps to Christ, p. 30)
Going Deeper – Additional Reading Suggestions for this week:
- The Beauty of Humility – (Attached to this week?s reading)
- Melody Mason, Daring to Live by Every Word: Loving God with Heart, Body, Mind and Soul.
- Marlynn W.: ?We praise the Lord that during the 100 Days of Prayer for the pandemic God has secured us with jobs, food, and shelter. The Lord has also convicted us to move out to the countryside. Additionally, He has given me an opportunity to witness to the Muslim community.?
- Moses M.: ?Thank you to for praying for us. The Lord has heard your prayers! It is amazing! During the national lockdown period in Namibia, about 1100 people have enrolled in studying Bible lessons, 70% of which are not Seventh-day Adventists.?
- Pray for students around the world who are unable to work due to the lockdowns. Pray that God will provide them with the financial means to pay for tuition.
- Pray for victims of domestic violence around the world.
- Pray for the family of Alexander Ostankin, a pastor who was murdered as he was ministering. Pray that God will turn the blood of this martyr into the seed of the gospel.
- Pray for those who are currently struggling with Covid-19. Pray for their full recovery.