The Lord placed it in my heart to share with you all today when I heard a whisper of the Holy Spirit that changed my life forever. When I was an active duty Marine in Okinawa, Japan, I received orders to Austin, Texas. During that time my wife and I fell apart from the church and my PTSD was really bad. So bad, that when my kids would try to hug me I was dodging them and go into a room because I would have an anxiety attack. My marriage was falling apart and I was an alcoholic. I drank around a bottle of Courvoisier every night to calm my nerves and to help me forget about my problems. Out of pride, I would not accept that I needed help and intercession, and because of this, my life was spiraling out of control. Then one sunny afternoon I was driving between bases in an alley and I prayed a very simple, yet sincere prayer to the Lord. I laid my pride at the foot of the cross and I spoke to Him as the loving Father that He is. I told God that I was failing as a husband, a father, and as a Christian. I told Him that I needed help and I knew that I can’t handle my problems on my own. I told God with all sincerity that I would do whatever He wanted from me and I meant it. I gave it all to him. My anxiety, my depression, my relationship with my wife and my parenthood.
Then I heard a whisper from behind me and my entire body froze and felt at peace. I heard two words that would change my life forever. I heard “stop drinking.” At the time I could not understand the significance of these words but I said: “yes Father.” I ran home and told my wife what I heard and that I submitted myself to the Lord. I told her that I quit drinking and that I needed to change. However, this is not the end of my story. Shortly after coming back to the United States, I required my third shoulder surgery and the day I got off convalescent leave I was sent to a logistics chief conference in Houston, Texas. During that week conference, I was feeling severe back pain and was rushed to the emergency. It turns out that my right kidney was four times the size of my left kidney and the majority of my urine was blood. They originally thought I had cancer, however, the urologist in Austin found out different. It turns out that I was having kidney failure and required emergency surgery to not die within the week.
In the questionnaire from the doctor, he was looking at my blood test results and said that I was lucky that I was no longer drinking. He said that if I would have had one beer, a shot, or even a glass of wine, they would not have known why I died until my autopsy because my toxicity levels were so high. You see, the funny thing about hearing a word from God is that you never know when or why He tells you something or places something in your heart. However, if I did not hear and receive His message and act out of faith and obedience, I would not be alive today. Since then, I have been fully transformed by the power of the blood of Christ and have dedicated my life to help others hear a word from God.
Now that I shared with you all a little bit of my testimony, I would like to share with you how not only to transform your life for the better but how to build a stronger relationship with the Lord so that you can hear His voice in your heart. There are five simple steps that if adhered to, will allow you to be transformed and renewed daily.
The first step is to engage the Lord is through prayer. According to 1 John 5:14, God always listens to our prayers. Not only does He listen to our prayers, but we can also have confidence that he hears us. What this means is anyone can listen to what you say, however, only someone that truly cares about your well-being will hear you. God cares so much about us that He hears ever petition that we make to Him. Regardless of where you are in your walk, He wants to hear from you. He wants to fellowship with you through His Spirit. Therefore, prayer is the first step to hearing from God. You are opening a line of communication with Him.
The second step is to reflect on your problem and repent of it. Often times, this is the most difficult part of the process, especially if you are already saved. This is because you are too busy worrying about everyone else’s sin that is worse than yours that you cannot see the log in your eye (Matthew 7:1-5). Our harsh judgment of others and our pride will always get in our way. Another common problem at this stage is being able to fully reflect on your problem. Often times we tend to give the Lord symptoms of our problems and when we don’t see a resolution in our lives we can think that the Lord is not listening to our problems. However, that is a lie because 1 John 5:14 tells us differently. In this stage, you really need to dig deep and find the root of your problem. If you are feeling depressed or anxiety on an issue, what was the original cause of that problem that initialed a void needed to be filled in your heart? If your children are not walking with the Lord, are you praying for their lives to change, yet you are not living a life of example? It takes deep meditation and reflection to identify the root causes of either your sins and problems. It may be ugly, but it is needed. This is why Christ died on the cross. He takes our sins and our problems and exchanges them with righteousness allowing the Lord to take hold of our situations (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The third step is to fully leave the problem at the foot of the cross. God has your problem once you have fully given Him the root of the problem. It is His now and no longer yours. At this point, you need to renew and transform your mind (Romans 12:2). If you keep thinking about your issues, then you have not fully given it to the Lord. You see, your mind is a very powerful thing. How you think will either give you blessings or take them away. So, get up every morning and give a prayer of Thanksgiving to the Lord. Start your day on a positive note and you will see what it does to your soul. Get up and tell the Lord thank you for taking away your depression, your anxiety, your addictions, for fixing a troublesome relationship. Thank Him for the healing and restoration that He has granted over your life. When you can get up and honestly proclaim the victory, the victory will come.
The fourth step is to listen and receive a word from God. On a daily basis, challenge yourself to read a chapter of the Bible. Think about what it is teaching and how you can apply His word into your walk that day. As you start to do this, you will start to see more of the transformation from the outside. Your relationships with people will get better and the healing you are petitioned for will come. When we walk in the Spirit, your desires of the flesh are no longer gratified (Galatians 5:16-18). When you walk in the Spirit, you are claiming the fruits of the Spirit in your life. You will be filled with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). With these fruits in your life, there is no problem you honestly worry about. There will be no room in your life for fear and stress.
The last step is to act in faith. You will see as your life is filled with the Holy Spirit, the Lord will place something in your heart or in your mind. It may make you uncomfortable at times, but you must trust His voice and act in faith. It can be something as simple as paying for someone’s cup of coffee or helping a single mother with her children or as complicated as walking up to a stranger that the Lord tells you to pray for. Even if they are mean looking, follow where the Spirit is guiding you. When we do this, we are not only being obedient to the Lord, but He will be able to use us to do His will. You never know if you are the answered prayer for that person. That person could have been praying for a sign that God is there to not commit suicide or that someone cares for them. Your lack of acting in faith can cost them their life or even their soul. I know it may sound extreme but brothers and sisters, this is an everyday reality. It is when we can be trusted like Job that your fellowship with God can change lives. He will be able to use you and speak to you because you are transformed and ready to do His will on earth.
Now, the reason why I shared my testimony is to share with you all that you do not have to hit rock bottom to finally give your problems fully to the Lord. I shared my story with you to show you that you can hear from the Lord in your everyday life. This process that I shared with you all has taken me years to get to where I am today. This process is known as the “sanctification” process. This does not happen overnight, however, it can be done and your relationship with the Lord can grow from the process. I am living proof. Even though we all fall short sometimes does not give us the excuse to not try. Give this process a try and see how much freedom you will feel when you fully cast your burdens on the Lord (Proverbs 16).
I would like to finish this lesson with a simple prayer. It was a simple prayer and two simple words that the Holy Spirit gave me changed and transformed my life forever. Heavenly Father, I pray that everyone reading this can receive the message you are trying to share with them. I pray that their suffering, their addictions, their unforgiveness, and their pride can be submitted to you at the foot of the cross. I pray that every one of us can honestly reflect on our lives and submit our struggles to you. I also pray that everyone can be filled by the Spirit and overcome by your peace. I also pray for you to place a transforming word in their hearts or minds. It is on that word that they can fully come to know and understand their purpose in life. I also pray for everyone here today to see themselves not as they see themselves but how you see them. An heir to the kingdom of heaven and a child of the most high God. So, loved that you brought your begotten son Jesus Christ down to earth to be beaten, humiliated, and die for their restoration. It is upon this sacrifice that we have the gift of your Spirit to guide our daily lives. Father, I know that we are not worthy and that we fall short of your glory. However, I am grateful for your son’s sacrifice and I pray that you give us all the strength to live up to that sacrifice, Amen.