A few years ago I was scheduled to preach a service at a prison in Chino, CA. I was covering for the Chaplain that Sunday. This was a prison I had served at for many years. It is a great privilege to serve the Lord, and the way we do that is by serving others. And until you serve the least, you have not served the Lord. Jesus spoke of serving saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me” (Matthew 25:45).
The prison chapel was a small room that held about 20 prisoners. The officers would bring them in and lock them into that room with me. I love serving these men. This was a prison yard where every week we would get a new group of men. For some of them, this would be their first time in a Church.
Never squander a divine encounter. If the Lord saw fit to put somebody in front of you, be ready to minister to them. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season…” (2 Timothy 4:2). Your ministry is located wherever you are. Your ministry is always in the present tense.
I sat in the back praying while the men were brought in. How much more we could accomplish by simply praying to the One Who can accomplish so much more. How much time we waste expending our own energy.
After the men sat down, I saw one man from the back that I knew would be saved that day. It was an instant knowing, as if the Lord had spoken it aloud, yet I did not hear His audible voice. But I knew it was from Him. The more we know the Lord, the more we know all that comes from Him. If you want to hear a word into you, you must first have lived your life in the Word.
I had this “knowing” of who would be saved happen to me many times before, more than I can count. It is a precious word of knowledge from the Lord, a knowing of what would be. “…for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit…” (1 Corinthians 12:8). Never limit what the Holy Spirit may do based on your limited understanding. God is not limited by the imagination of man.
The man I saw who would be saved was a particularly rough looking man with tattoos all over his body and head. In my natural, I look at some people and don’t think they can ever be saved. But there was a time when people said the same thing about me. Don’t doubt what the Lord can do.
Learn to look through your spiritual eyes. Friends, whatever we see on the outside, the Lord can have us look right through it to see what is on the inside. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). Never judge a book by its cover, but by its author. God is the Author of all.
I spoke a short uneventful message and then gave an altar call. We don’t need a show to save souls, we need the Holy Spirit. We don’t need more words of man to move a man, but a word from the Lord that might change him.
I prayed in the spirit for anyone who was ready to be saved by the blood of Christ to come up front. We need to get people to move, not just sit in their seats. Right off a man stood up and came to the front. It was the wrong man! So I kept praying. Praying is good, persevering in prayer is better.
I prayed that the men would not let the Devil hold them down in their seats, and that they would just stand up. Right then two more men stood up. Still not the right one! The work of the Lord is never easy and never operates by our estimation of how things should go. But just keep serving anyway.
Stop expecting that ministry would be easy, because it never will be. One of the greatest hindrances in serving God is your false idea that He is going to make it easy for you. He will always be with you, that is enough.
So I just kept praying. I knew what the Lord had shown to me, the exact man who would be saved. The Lord has never failed me. Friend, He will never fail you. If He gives you a word, that word will come to pass. So I prayed and I prayed, and they kept standing and they kept coming forward. But every one of them was the wrong one.
We were down to only three men left in that Chapel still sitting. We had some big men standing up front, so I had to get up on my tippy toes to look over their shoulders at the man I knew would get saved that day. Right when I looked at him, he stood up and came forward. Sometimes we need to look a man or woman in the eye to stir up their soul.
We had 15 of the 17 men at that service up at the altar to be saved that day. Before praying a prayer of salvation, I asked everybody, “who is here for the very first time getting saved”? We have many in the ministry that are repeats at the altar, backsliders who keep coming back to the altar. Oh the Lord is always waiting for those that would return to Him. I will always pray for those doing a recommit, but I want to pray differently for a man getting saved for the first time.
So on this day there was only one of the fifteen men standing that was there to be saved for the first time. It was the last man who stood up. It was the tattoo covered man that the Lord had shown me before the service had begun. It was the one that in my natural nobody would think he could saved. His name was Jason, and on that day in the chapel on bravo yard, he got saved.
Never doubt all that the Lord can show you. “Now the Lord gave me knowledge of it, and I know it; for You showed me their doings” (Jeremiah 11:18).
When you do an altar call, you don’t have to know who will get saved. And even if nobody comes up, the Lord is still doing a work. Often times all you are doing is preparing the heart of a man or woman for another day. So be that one who prepares. It does not matter how many we would introduce to the Lord, but how many we would influence to the Lord in however we are called to serve.
If you want to hear a word from the Holy Spirit, you need to be in a place of holiness. If you want to be used by God, you have to be willing to give up the right to yourself.
Never think you need to be anything in yourself, and in fact you cannot be anything in yourself to be used of God. You are but the utensil through which He might pour out His power onto a fallen world.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13). Jesus said the Holy Spirit would speak to us, are you ready to hear Him?
Pray that you would hear the Holy Spirit. Then be still, and listen.
Blessings to you,