WILL SHINE LIKE THE STARS FOREVER
ONE OF VAHRAM'S MESSAGES
The account of Vahram's life and ministry would not be complete without a sample of his plain and pithy preaching. Its originality, personal application and liveliness are evident. Preaching vague theories was not his way to use the trust of the pulpit. He would preach on Biblical truths that had become incarnate in him. When he spoke it was as if he were crying out: "See how the Holy Spirit has worked in my life. He wants to do the same in you. Bow to his authority." The following message was given in the colloquial Turkish of the day. The style of today’s Turkish is very different.
A LEAKING CUP AT A FOUNTAIN IN DAMASCUS
A hot summer day in 1955 found me sharing the good news of the Gospel in Damascus. The drinking fountains of Damascus flow with an abundance of cold, fresh water. Attached by a chain to one of the fountains I saw a splendid tinned-copper cup that reminded me of similar cups we used to drink from when I was a child back in Turkey. "I'll have a drink," I thought. Rinsing the cup a few times before use, I held it under the water a good while to fill it. No one was with me at the fountain. But however much I tilted it to my mouth, I could not get at the water - it somehow trickled away. To find out the reason for this I examined it carefully and saw that the cup had a hole in it. I tried to snatch a drink from it as fast as it filled up, but the water was draining away too quickly. Right there God taught me a lesson.
A lot of believers are like this. They are being filled with the Holy Spirit but there are holes in them and they quickly become empty. I know this from personal experience. From time to time God has filled me with the Holy Spirit; for example when I have been studying the Bible or praying or enjoying fellowship with believers or visiting hospitals and prisons. But because there were holes in me I became empty.
What are these holes that prevent us from being permanently filled with the Spirit? There are two verses that have had a great impact upon my life. The first is: "...no man can tame the tongue" (James 3:8), and the second is: "...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22,23).
The Holy Spirit showed me that because I am not taming my tongue, I am losing the power of the Spirit. That is to say, I am finding fault with someone, or I'm judging, or I'm getting irritable and insisting on my rights. Because of this and similar causes I'm losing my joy. My spirit of prayer and witness, my zeal and my love are weakening and my appetite for reading the Bible is waning.
The prophet David had this experience. He prayed, "Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD, keep watch over the door of my lips!" (Psalm 141:3). David realised that he could not tame his tongue. And none of us can. And in James 3:8, I saw that I am actually incapable of taming my tongue. I began to pray the same prayer and my life was entirely changed. Praise be to God. What we lose through our tongues is far more costly than what we lose in any other way. O LORD, have mercy upon me and tame my tongue! Amen.
Why was our Savior permanently filled with the Holy Spirit? (John 1:32). His secret was this: 'He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth..." (Isaiah 53:7). Our Savior defeated Satan by silence and was an example to us. I wrote out this verse and hung it up in my room so that on entering and leaving, I would read it. I pray always that I will not insist on my rights over other people and that God will tame my tongue. God is doing it in me.
I also hung a picture on my wall − Jesus Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. His mouth is opened not towards men but towards God, His Father (Luke 22:41). If I insist on my own rights from men and say, "Why are you acting like this?" there will be no end to my 'whys'. "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth..." (Isaiah 53:7). Oh God, keep my mouth always shut towards others. Keep my mouth hungrily open towards you! In Jesus' name. Amen.
I had a problem with a brother and it was not possible to resolve it by meeting him and talking things over with him. God showed me that I should just pray about this matter. Every time I heard him saying bad things about me, I took it to God in prayer and carried on with my work. One day there was a knock at the door of my room. I opened the door and there was the brother who had been saying bad things about me. I let him in. Taking my hand he said, "Brother, forgive me, I was wrong. I should not have said those bad things about you." So Satan was defeated, the Holy Spirit rejoiced and we prayed together. God poured out a spirit of love upon us. Hallelujah!
Now, here is a Scripture that for many years has been a great blessing to me: Galatians 5:22 and 23. The Apostle Paul here lists the fruit of the Spirit. The last and greatest is self-control. It is wonderful that the greatest work of the Spirit is self-control, because nobody is able to tame his own tongue. According to James 3:8, only the Holy Spirit can, because self-control is His fruit. With a new understanding of this truth, I again committed my tongue to the Holy Spirit. Let us always pray; "Oh Holy Spirit, do control my tongue, because self-control is your fruit. In Jesus' name. Amen."
What benefits do we gain if the Holy Spirit controls our tongue?
1. We do not wound another's heart. As a Turkish proverb goes: "Swords' wounds soon heal, but tongues' wounds never heal!" (Ephesians 4:26)
2. The Spirit will not be grieved. In Ephesians 4:30 it is written, "Do no grieve the Holy Spirit."
3. We do not find ourselves saying, "Oh, if only I hadn't said that!" regretting something we've said.
4. We shall not be judged. "Judge not, that you be not judged" (Matthew 7:1). "The judge stands at the door" (James 5:9). This door is the door of our lips. Words are often on the tip of the tongue, but the Holy Spirit controls our tongues and keeps us from the condemnation of the Judge who stands at the door. Sometimes, when it happens that we are not under control of the Holy Spirit, all of a sudden Satan trips us up and hands us over to judgment. So let us keep our tongues constantly under the rule of the Holy Spirit.
5. We are able to perform our duties with all our might. It is Satan's ploy to keep us always busy, preoccupied with one another, so that God's work is neglected. The evil one does not want souls to be won for Christ. It is written in John 21:22, 'What is that to you? Follow me."
6. If we tame our tongues we are, by the help of the Holy Spirit, immune from certain illnesses. A lot of illnesses afflict us because we lack self-control. When Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses, God was angry and struck Miriam down with leprosy (Numbers 12:1-15).
7. If we bring our tongues under the control of the Holy Spirit, we are ready to pray, "Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!' (Revelation 22, 20), and our hearts are always filled with the spirit of prayer. And with full hands we shall meet our Bridegroom and be found worthy to receive our crowns from his nail-pierced hands.
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