February 10th, 1988                                       "Being Strong in Spirit"                                          Bro. Joshua Daniel

Luke 1:80

"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel." When we talk of somebody growing, we like to know how tall the person has grown, how muscular he is and so on. But here the Bible speaks of waxing strong in the spirit. I have been seeing very carefully how when people wax strong in their purses or wallets, they become weak in spirit. The father of faith Abraham was not like that. God blessed him materially but it did not mean that there was any neglect on his part of his spiritual life. I see a very great danger to us here. When a man is converted he says, "How I have wasted so much money on smoking and drinking. Now God has given me a new heart, I will be careful with my money." He is careful not only with his money, but with his time too. He gives one tenth of his income to God, and that brings more blessings. There will not be room enough to receive the blessings. Handling the blessings of God needs another training. Seeing our indebtedness to God we ought to say, "God has given me so much, I am all the more indebted to God." In the case of John the Baptist, we are not told of any worldly blessings at all. From the earthly stand point, he was a poor man. His food was very simple, so was his clothing and where he lived. All his youth, till almost thirty years he lived in the desert. He did not seem to have any special earthly privileges. But the Bible says, "He waxed strong in the spirit." Sometimes our prayers do not appear to be answered. We wonder, "Where is my prayer going?" When your prayer seems to be stopping at the roof, what must you say? God has promised, "Call on Me and I will answer you and I will show you great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." I will not walk by my feelings or even by fast answers to my prayers. I will walk by the promises of God. This calls for great spiritual strength. Otherwise we tend to get discouraged, depressed. But when you walk by the promise of God, "God has said it," is your stay, your spirit gets stronger. When the spirit became strong in John the Baptist, he did not care for the things of this world. He did not say, "But I must live in a city." He did not say, "I do not have this, I do not have that." No, no, no. He had a message for every class of people. Now that to me is a wonder.

Sometimes I feel I do not have the right message for a certain class of people. Some people in the West are so full of the world, so full of the flesh, with no thought about God. I say, "I do not seem to have the right message for these people." That means my spirit is not really strong. I had a great chance in this Fellowship to grow strong in spirit: the example around me and the word of God given. I ought to have been full of God’s Word for all kinds of people. John the Baptist had a message even for King Herod. He did not bother about the consequences. That is one of the marks of those that are strong in the Spirit. If we are strong in the Spirit we are not afraid of consequences of taking stand for righteousness. When God blesses us materially, we are tempted to buy this and that and be a little more comfortable. Every such accumulation of material things will only make your spirit weaker. I do not know how many people are going to tell the Lord, "Lord, because of the TV I lost my prayer. Because of TV, my spirit became weak." Everywhere people have become weak because of these material acquisitions. As far as I am concerned, I am prepared to lose everything if my Bible is safe- losing all my boxes, all my things. It will not bother me at all. Everywhere people are becoming weak in spirit. Their houses are full of things and new things. But the spirit is weak. What did John the Baptist have of things? Nothing. He had the word of God. Sometimes I feel very sad that the Fellowship is slipping. The Fellowship is becoming weak. By this time there should have been people who have walked in the streets of heaven and come back to their bodies like Sundar Singh, people who knew the deep things of God. Somehow when responsibilities increase our spiritual strength seems to decrease. No. When responsibilities increase, our spiritual strength should also increase. But unspiritual and soulish people whose Christianity is just their own effort—they are the people who when responsibilities increase find their spiritual strength decreases. With soul power, we cannot do spiritual work. When a Fellowship becomes large, some develop the strength of good habits and good discipline. Their souls become stronger. But they are not necessarily spirit-led people. They enjoy good sermons, they have no strength. What is the use of being like that? John the Baptist, grew and waxed strong in the spirit.

Luke 2:40, "And the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom." The same thing is said of our Lord Jesus Christ here. When a child is growing we never speak of strength of spirit. He is a good runner, good tennis-player, hockey player, and so on. But when a child or a boy is growing, who talks about his spirit growing? Sometimes when we see a fellowship growing, we think, "Oh, there are three hundred people! Oh, there are ten thousand people! Oh, it is growing." No! It may be dying. What is the use of ten thousand dead people? How many are strong in spirit? That is what matters. Some people want land, land. I hate lands. The history of missions will show, wherever there were big lands, the ministry broke down quickly. So the strength of buildings and lands are not indications of strength. How do we talk with God? How closely do we walk with God? How strong is our spirit when we face temptations? How many words can we speak that bring encouragement and blessing to others? These are the things that indicate strength in the spirit. May God help us.