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I_Live_For_Jesus_Eng_Cover.pdf 1 2010/08/12 09:32:13 AM

I live for Jesus Do you sometimes feel like the Christian life is just a long list of do’s and don’ts? As a faithful church-goer, are you trying with all your might to be good, only to end up failing to keep your promises time after time?

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CM

MY

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CMY

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Alejandro Bullón simply and profoundly presents episodes from the lives of various biblical characters to draw out lessons that can be applied to our modern Christian walk. We are inspired by Joseph’s devotion to the God he loved, David’s determination to prove to the world that ‘there is a God in Israel’, and Samuel’s eagerness to hear God’s voice. We are warned against the rebellious self-sufficiency of Cain and Esau’s disdain for the things of God. And we are encouraged by God’s providence in the life of Moses, His tender concern for the banished Ishmael, and His patience and forgiveness toward a deceitful Jacob. These and many other wonderful insights will help you to finally learn what the abundant Christian life is all about, a discovery which will inspire you to declare, ‘I live for Jesus’.


Alejandro Bullon


I LIVE FOR JESUS Original edition title: Vivo por Jesus Copyright © Alejandro Bullon English version: I Live for Jesus Copyright © Africa Publishing Company Africa Publishing Company PO Box 111 Somerset Mall 7137, Western Cape, South Africa Tel: +27218527656 Cell: +27848144888 Fax: +27218519992 Email: info@africacopublishing.com

First English Edition September 2010

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Full or partial reproduction by any form or by any means whatsoever is prohibited. The violation of copyrights is a crime established by the criminal code. Unless otherwise marked, Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. ISBN: 978-0-9869799-0-3 Publisher: Marcos Cruz Assistant Publisher: Jeremi Sterley Translator: Mirian Lima Editor: Cindy Hurlow Designers: Shawn Lochner Design Guru Wanderley Knaak Published in South Africa


Pastor Alejandro Bullon is an international speaker and a well-known spiritual leader who travels all over the world presenting Jesus as the only source of salvation and hope. Pastor Bull贸n has written a number of best-sellers.


Contents Introduction .....................................................................7 1. Living for Jesus............................................................9 2. For a minute of pleasure?..........................................19 3. Who are you?.............................................................27 4. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening..................35 5. When all else fails......................................................43 6. Why obey?..................................................................51 7. God’s dream for you..................................................59 8. Gaining the victory......................................................67


Introduction Life is a constant learning process. The day you stop learning it is as if your life stops too; no longer a living fountain but instead a pool of stagnant water. You will stop growing and slowly begin to get lost in the dust of mediocrity. It is as though you have annulled yourself and simply disappeared. God has a better plan for your life. He wants you to stretch your wings and fly toward the infinite blue that covers your dreams. For this to happen you need to grow, but there’s no growth without learning. The Holy Bible shares with us stories of men and women who, at critical moments in their lives, had to make decisions for good or for bad. Those who made wise decisions lived happy and fulfilled lives. The others became lost in the winding road of anonymity; some of them did not even have their names recorded. This book reveals hidden lessons that we can learn from these biblical lives. It will also help you to recognise the positive and negative consequences of making certain choices. Above all, you will be given a close encounter with the Creator of the Universe which, I hope and pray, will lead you to proclaim, “I live for Jesus.”

Alejandro Bullón 7


1 Living for Jesus “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9

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ichael looked around furtively. He wanted to be sure that no one he knew could see him. His heart was thundering in his chest with such intensity, he was sure others could hear it. Never before had he been to such a place. Deep inside, he was afraid, yet he didn’t understand the reason for his fear. Fear of discipline in church? Or fear of what his parents would think of him if they found out where he had been? The above verse from Genesis presents us with the story of a biblical teenager named Joseph. At a particular moment in his life, this young man had an experience very similar to Michael’s, yet he knew how to make his decision. His story occupies many pages in the book of Genesis. However, in this chapter we are going to concentrate on only one episode of his life and one of the most inspiring stories in the Bible. Joseph was a young man who discovered what 'living for Jesus' means. The Bible tells us that Joseph had found favour in Potiphar’s sight and as a result, Potiphar made him the overseer of his house and put everything he possessed under Joseph’s authority. However, Potiphar’s wife started lusting after Joseph, coming close to him in a tempting way. We read, ‘And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he 9


has committed all that he has to my hand”’ (Genesis 39:7). Notice the respect that Joseph had for others. He lived the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But the last part of verse 9 presents a question which this extraordinary young man asked himself in the face of temptation. This will form the main theme of this chapter: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” In the midst of temptation, Joseph’s concern was not: What will my parents say? What will Potiphar think? He was not primarily concerned with the earthly consequences. Instead, his question was: How could I sin against God? In other words: How could I break my God’s heart? My friend, I want to tell you that Joseph had discovered the secret of Christian living. His life was based on love and companionship with God. When tempted, his main concern was to avoid at all costs betraying the trust of his loving Father. “How could I break my God’s heart?” he asked himself. The title of this chapter could well have been: 'What does it mean to be a Christian?' or 'What is Christianity all about?' Christianity has Jesus Christ as the centre of its message, and Christians have this marvelous Christ who gave His life on the cross as the center of their daily lives. To be a Christian means nothing more than to simply fall in love with Jesus Christ. There must be a love relationship between you and Christ; a love relationship which is cultivated by spending time daily with Him, through the study of the Bible, prayer and witnessing. A relationship which is built day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, year-by-year. Many young people don’t understand what Christian living is all about, and as a consequence, they are not very happy. They go to church and dutifully obey the moral and behavioural codes of their faith. They also know what they must not do: don’t smoke, don’t drink alcoholic drinks, don’t steal, don’t do this, don’t do that. Yet they don’t have Jesus as the center of their experience; their Christian life is limited to a desperate effort to behave well. 10


The problem is that no matter how hard you try, you can’t do what you know you are supposed to do. And you end up doing everything that you’re not supposed to do. Most of the time nobody knows about it. The church doesn’t know, your parents don’t know, the pastor doesn’t know, but deep in your heart you know. Then, when night comes, you can’t sleep, you have no peace. Your heart is like a volcano about to erupt. If you were asked: “If Christ came this very moment, would you be saved?” you might immediately think about your actions and conclude that you are lost. Why? Simply because you haven’t realised what Christian life is about. You relate salvation to good behaviour. You ignore the fact that salvation is not through your merit, but through the wonderful grace of Jesus. The Christian life is living the most beautiful love story with Him. What do couples who are dating do? When they wake up, the first thing they think about is their partner. When they go to sleep, the last thing they think about is their partner. When they see beautiful clothes in a shop window, they think about that special person. When they see delicious food, they think about that special person. When they are in school, they think about that beloved person. No matter what they do throughout the day, they are thinking of that beloved person. In other words, they live for each other. They are in love! The Christian life will be fascinating when you fall in love with Jesus and a wonderful love experience starts to develop. Then, when temptation comes, you will not think of the discipline in church, the punishment from your parents, nor the human consequences of your sin. You will ask yourself the same question Joseph did: How could I sin against my God? How could I break the heart of my Lord Jesus? The key point is that if you don’t love Jesus, you may attend church and even somehow keep all the norms and commandments, but you will never be happy because a person who lives with someone that he or she doesn’t love cannot be happy. 11


Once an elderly lady came to me and said, “Pastor, can you see that elderly man with gray hair over there? He’s my husband; we’ve been married for 60 years. All this time I’ve been a perfect wife. According to traditional expectations, I’ve been a very good wife: the food is always ready, the clothes are clean, the house is tidy, our children well raised. But I’ve never been happy.” I asked, “Why do you think you’re not happy?” She replied, “Because I don’t love my husband.” I exclaimed, “Why did you marry him if you weren’t in love?” The lady, looking sad, told me her story. “Pastor, when I was 15 years old girls could not choose their husbands. Instead, our parents made the choice for us. One day, my father said, ‘Daughter, you will marry my friend’s son in a few months.’ They started preparing the church, the clothes, the bridal gown, the banquet, everything. But I didn’t know my fiancé. Two days before the wedding I went to the bus station to meet my fiancé who was arriving in the city. They showed him to me, I looked at that man, but didn’t really like him. Two days later I had to marry him. Before the wedding my mother had told me, ‘Daughter, a good wife does this, this and that. And a good wife also does not do this, this, or that.’ During these 60 years of marriage I’ve tried and I’ve been a good wife, but I’m not happy.” Let me relate the experience of this elderly lady to the spiritual life. Baptism is a sort of marriage with Christ. Perhaps today you might be able to say to Jesus, “Look, Lord, I’ve been married with You, I got baptised 3 or 4 years ago. All this time, You know that with self-control and will-power, I’ve done everything right, I’ve obeyed all Your commands, I’ve tried to be faithful. But, you know Jesus, I’m not happy.” Do you know why you’re not happy? Because you aren’t in love with Jesus. Even though, as a Christian, you are an obedient young person, your first prayer to Jesus shouldn’t be: “Lord, help me keep Your commandments.” Your first prayer should be: “Lord, help me to love You; give me a heart that is able to love You.” Do you know why this should be your prayer? Because 12


the heart that you were born with is not able to love Jesus. The heart with which you came into this world only wants to love yourself and that which gives you pleasure. Your heart is naturally a ‘heart of stone’ (Ezekiel 36:26). It needs to be changed into a sensitive heart, capable of loving the Lord Jesus Christ. Only after you have fallen in love with Him, after you have given him your heart and He has become the center of your life, will you enjoy doing His will. Then you will be happy to keep the commandments, because you’ll be doing it for someone whom you love very much. For this reason, Jesus said: “My son, give Me your heart and let your eyes observe My ways” (Proverbs 23:26). He doesn’t want your eyes to observe His ways before you give Him your heart. First He wants you to fall in love with Him, to love Him. Then, and only then, may your eyes observe His ways. It was Jesus Christ Himself who said: “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). In other words, “If you don’t love me, I don’t want anything from you.” This statement by Jesus (which I’m obviously paraphrasing) may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. Jesus does not want obedience just for obedience’s sake, or because your parents want you to obey, or the church also wants you to obey. It’s as though nobody cares whether you love Jesus or not; what matters is that you obey. With Christ it’s different. He wants your obedience only if it’s the result of your love for Him. If your obedience is the result of anything but love, He doesn’t want it. It was Jesus Christ who said that human justice or human obedience, without love, is like a dirty rag (Isaiah 64:6). He doesn’t accept it. It may have social or religious value, but no spiritual value. Obedience only has spiritual value when it is the result of your love for Christ. The story of Joseph is a story of dreams. The Bible calls him 'Joseph, the dreamer' and at the center of his dreams was God. That afternoon when his brothers sold him into slavery and he was taken to Egypt, a far-away land, when he saw his father’s tents disappear over the last hill, he made a promise to God: “Lord, I don’t know where I’m going, or where I’m being taken to, but whatever may happen, 13


whatever it may cost, I will not stop loving You. People may take away my freedom, destroy my dreams, and even take me away from my family. I’m going to a country where I have no friends and no one knows me. I’m going as a slave, maybe to start off by washing dishes and cleaning toilets. But, my God, I’m going with You and whatever may happen, I’ll never stop loving You.” The love of Christ inspired Joseph’s life every day. He was sold as a slave but remained faithful even as he faced the most difficult temptations. And what was the reward for this loyalty? Prison. In this world, loyalty does not always bring Heaven as a reward. On earth, sometimes loyalty will bring hunger, poverty, hopelessness and even scorn from your friends. But don’t worry. If Jesus is with you, if you have given your life to Christ, wherever you go the Lord will go with you. Whether in prison, in a dungeon, or in disgrace, He will raise you up and turn you into a prince, because you are a child of the kingdom. You were born to be so, and will eventually be. Joseph was a man who never stopped loving God. Because of his love for God he not only experienced the depths of pain and suffering but was also taken to the highest peaks of joy and fulfillment. He eventually became the most powerful man in Egypt, a pagan nation. God caused him to prosper in a foreign land. If you fight for a better future, if you love Jesus and never stray from His love but keep your love and loyalty to Christ even when everything seems to be going wrong, I am certain that God will lift you up to the highest positions. He never abandons his faithful children, those who surrender and trust in Him. That is why the center of your experience has to be Christ. Let’s imagine that a beautiful young lady works in a laundromat. She washes the clothes out of duty; after all, this is her work and she gets paid to do it. She simply washes the clothes. The shirts have neither face nor personality, they are only shirts. This lady does her duty as an obligation, and that is all. 14


Now, imagine that one day she falls head over heels in love with a young man and gives him her heart. As it so happens, his shirt is taken to this laundromat and comes into this lady’s hands. What does she do? She won’t simply take the shirt and throw it in the washing machine. She’ll be gentle with it, washing, drying and folding it carefully. She might even kiss the shirt or add a drop of her own perfume to it. Why? Simply because she loves the owner of that shirt. Before, she did her duty as part of a routine. But now she does it happily because she’s doing it for her beloved. This is the difference in the Christian life. When you don’t love Jesus you might do everything right: go to church, keep the commandments, obey the rules, et cetera. But you do it only out of obligation, because you’re afraid of eternal death, because you want to be saved, because you’re afraid of hell or you don’t want to be disciplined in church. You do your duty only as an obligation. But when you fall in love with Jesus Christ, everything changes. Now you don’t simply stick to the rules, but you do it out of love. You are delighted to do your Father’s will because you have given your heart to Him. The Lord Jesus Christ needs to change your heart. When He died on the cross it was because of His love for you. Before creating the world He already had a wonderful plan for you because He loves you. The initiative of salvation is not human, it’s divine. It’s not because you want to be saved but because He wants to save you. However, our natural hearts urge us to run away from God, to escape, to hide. This is what happened to Adam in the Garden of Eden. God had to call him: “Adam, where are you?” He was hiding behind a tree. As sinful humans we feel the need to run away from God, but Jesus doesn’t get tired and He comes seeking after us. It is not only to Adam that He says, “Where are you?” but also to Michael, Mary, Matthew, Rose: “Where are you? Why are you hiding? Don’t be afraid of Me, come to Me. I can remove your heart of stone, I can give you a heart capable of loving Me, and when you fall in love with Me, you’ll see that it’s not difficult to obey Me. You will do it with 15


joy, you will find pleasure in walking in My ways. Child, give Me your heart and then your eyes will observe My ways.” Throughout history the Spirit of God has worked in many hearts. There was once a man who came into a one of my church service totally drunk. For his whole life he had been enslaved to his addiction, beating his wife, mistreating his children and squandering his money on drink. However, one evening, he saw the church open and, since he felt tired, he came in, sat down and fell asleep. However, in the midst of the darkness and sleepiness of his conscience, the Spirit of God used my words to touch his heart. And when I invited people to stand up and come forward, this man, although still drunk and unsteady on his feet, came forward. Everyone thought that the decision of a drunkard wouldn’t count. “Why would we write down his name? He doesn’t even know what he is doing.” But the Spirit of God had touched his heart, and although he wasn’t totally aware of what was happening, he believed that Jesus could perform a miracle. The following evening he came back to our meeting, but this time he wasn’t drunk. And he came again the next evening, and the next and the next. When our evangelistic campaign finally came to an end, that ‘drunkard’ had studied the Bible and given his heart to Jesus. Jesus changed his life completely, removed the heart of stone and gave him a heart of flesh. He was able to apologise to his wife and children for the hard life he had given them. When his family asked: “What happened? What is happening to you?” he said, “Come with me and you’ll see what is happening”. One evening he came to church with his wife and children. And when I invited people forward, his wife and children also attended the call. When this evangelistic campaign finished, the whole family were baptised. Today, they are a happy family. One of his children grew up and went to study to become a pastor. One destroyed life, ruined by sin, was transformed at the moment that this drunkard, in the unconsciousness of his drunkenness, cried out to God: “Lord, take my heart of stone and give me a heart capable of loving You.” That ex-drunkard lived the rest of 16


his life transformed and in love with the Lord Jesus Christ, witnessing and telling others what Jesus had done in his life, because when Jesus comes into your heart, nothing makes you happier than telling others what He has done for you. The love story between Joseph and God was so powerfully beautiful that even today we are talking about it. There are many chapters in the Bible about the life of this man. How many sermons have been preached! How many songs have been written! If you surrender to Jesus and fall in love with Him, one day you also will be able to tell the story of the miracle Jesus has performed in your life. Therefore, surrender your heart to Jesus. May He give you a heart capable of falling in love with Him and then, and only then, may your eyes observe the ways that God has established for you.

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I_Live_For_Jesus_Eng_Cover.pdf 1 2010/08/12 09:32:13 AM

I live for Jesus Do you sometimes feel like the Christian life is just a long list of do’s and don’ts? As a faithful church-goer, are you trying with all your might to be good, only to end up failing to keep your promises time after time?

C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

CMY

K

Alejandro Bullón simply and profoundly presents episodes from the lives of various biblical characters to draw out lessons that can be applied to our modern Christian walk. We are inspired by Joseph’s devotion to the God he loved, David’s determination to prove to the world that ‘there is a God in Israel’, and Samuel’s eagerness to hear God’s voice. We are warned against the rebellious self-sufficiency of Cain and Esau’s disdain for the things of God. And we are encouraged by God’s providence in the life of Moses, His tender concern for the banished Ishmael, and His patience and forgiveness toward a deceitful Jacob. These and many other wonderful insights will help you to finally learn what the abundant Christian life is all about, a discovery which will inspire you to declare, ‘I live for Jesus’.

I Live for Jesus