But as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
— Romans 8:14
It was the early 1990s — a time when supernatural doors were flying open for our TV ministry in nearly every corner of the Soviet Union. But one area that remained closed was Baku, Azerbaijan. Since this was a Muslim city, I had been strongly advised not to go there to negotiate for television time. Plus, the country of Azerbaijan was in a serious military conflict at the time. But despite what people were advising me to do, I sensed a strong leading of the Holy Spirit to go there. I simply knew that if I would put my feet on that land, God would open doors for us to broadcast the teaching of the Bible there.
We watched the news day by day to monitor what was happening with the military developments that were largely based around the capital city of Baku — where the largest TV tower in that part of the world was located. This tower was so huge, its signal covered not only Azerbaijan, but it reached all the way into the heart of Iran. For a door of this size to open would definitely require the supernatural grace of God — and it would also require divine courage to go there in the middle of an escalating military conflict!
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A single day came when a temporary cease-fire had been declared, so we quickly purchased plane tickets for two team members and me. We called to set up an appointment with the director of the national TV station, and we raced to the airport so we could board our plane to Azerbaijan. Hours later, we landed in the capital city of Baku. After being vigorously searched at the airport, a private car picked us up and drove us directly to the broadcasting company of that nation.
When we entered the broadcasting building, we were escorted to a sitting area to wait for our meeting with the TV director. We were told that we would need to be patient because the cease-fire had been broken at almost that exact moment, and there was heavy machine-gun fighting all around the TV facility. A secretary asked us if we’d like a cup of tea, and we sat drinking our tea while we could hear gunfire at the other end of the hallway adjacent to the area where we were seated! At one point, a group of soldiers carrying machine guns ran hurriedly past us, disappearing through the door to an area outside where all the action was taking place!
Soon the door opened to the national TV director’s office, and we were invited in for our scheduled appointment. To my surprise, the director was a woman. She held an unusual, very powerful position in a Muslim society. When I made my presentation about our TV programs, she responded, “Maybe you don’t understand. We are a Muslim republic. Your programs can’t be broadcast here. Plus, our signal reaches Tehran, and if we run your Bible teaching programs, it could offend our partners in Iran.”
But this broadcasting endeavor had been on my heart a long time. So rather than take no for an answer, I insisted, “We’ve come a long way today. Will you please just look at one of our programs?”
The director kindly consented. It just so happened that the random program she chose to watch was part of a series on what the Bible teaches about how husbands should treat their wives. As we watched, I could see the Holy Spirit was touching her heart with answers she had been seeking for her own marriage.
When that program ended, she asked if we had Part Two of that series with us and could show it to her. By the end of the second program, the Holy Spirit had totally melted her heart.
She said, “How often would you like to broadcast these programs and what price would you like to pay?”
Right before our eyes — with machine guns firing rapid-fire in the background — God opened a door that would not have opened if we had not had the courage to go to Baku at that critical moment in history.
That day I learned once again that it takes courage and confidence if you want to walk through a door that has never opened for anyone else. It also takes the leading of the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit who led us there on that very day — the day a great door flew open for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
In Romans 8:14, we are promised, “But as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” I want to examine this verse in today’s Sparkling Gem.
The Greek word for “led” is the word ago, which simply means to lead. But it must also be pointed out that this word forms the root for the Greek word agon, which describes an intense conflict, such as a struggle in a wrestling match or a struggle of the human will.
This illustrates the fact that although the Holy Spirit wants to lead us, our human will doesn’t like the idea of being led. You see, it’s the nature of the flesh to want to go its own way. Thus, when we choose to walk in the Spirit and let Him dictate our lives, His leadership over us creates a struggle of our will with our flesh.
An example of this kind of intense struggle is that dangerous trip to Baku. The Spirit of God inside me was telling me, “Go now — there is an open door for you today.” But the flesh ranted and raved, “You’re putting your life in danger! Don’t do what the Holy Spirit is telling you to do.”
Maybe that’s how you’ve been feeling about your own life. You want to obey God and be led by His Spirit, but your flesh is interested only in self-preservation and going its own way. However, as a child of God, you must learn to walk with Him and stay in your place — behind the Holy Spirit, following His lead. You have to defeat every fight the flesh puts up to stop you from obtaining the supernatural results the Lord wants you to have.
If you really want to live a supernatural, Spirit-led life, there is no way around it. You have to deal with your flesh! The flesh wants to control you, so you must mortify, or defeat, the flesh and allow the Holy Spirit to have His way. The struggle may seem great, but it’s the only way to live a fruitful Christian life.
I’m so thankful for that day many years ago when God empowered me by His Spirit and gave me the courage to get on a plane and fly to Baku. God knew what I didn’t know — that a great open door was waiting for me. When we arrived and found the cease-fire had been broken, we could have turned around, gotten back on the plane, and headed home immediately. But we were certain the Holy Spirit was leading us. By God’s grace, the fight with the flesh was won, and a great event occurred before our very eyes.
As we do the will of God in life, we must listen to natural advice, but we must never forget that the leading of the Spirit is the prime factor in yielding supernatural fruit and obtaining a Heavenly outcome.
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I now recognize that every time I have ever struggled to do what You asked me to do, the reason behind the struggle was that I had allowed fear and carnal reasoning to hinder me. Father, I repent for yielding to the pull of my own flesh instead of to the direction of Your Spirit. I want to live a fruitful life. Holy Spirit, right now I yield to Your strength, and I receive the courage I need to step out by faith and follow Your leading so I can obtain a heavenly outcome to the glory of God!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I obey God and I am led by His Spirit. I put to death all self-interest and every fleshly thought to make decisions based on self-preservation. I belong to God! My life is His, and His strength is mine! I refuse to allow my flesh to stop me from obtaining the supernatural results the Lord wants me to have. I choose to do the will of God. I declare right now that in those moments when the struggle to stay on track with His plan seems great because I’m tempted to let natural reasoning pull me off course, I will not fall short but will fulfill all the will of God without wavering! Greater is the courage of God within me than any fear that rants against my mind or any opposition that rises against me in this world!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Have you ever been directed by the Holy Spirit to do something that made no sense to your natural mind? When was that? How did you respond? What was the result of your obeying what He instructed you to do?
- Have you ever been in a place that seemed filled with danger, but God told you to be there, and it ended up bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God? When was that experience? What happened as a result of your obedience?
- What is God asking you to do right now that is requiring a greater measure of spiritual fortitude for you to obey Him? Have you asked Him to give you the courage and inner strength to obey what He is asking you to do?