Finding His Will for Your Life

HELP! I believe God has a calling on my life . . . and I don’t know what to do. Have you been there? Are you there now? What on earth does this mean? Does this mean I am going to be one of those preachers? Does this mean I am going to Timbuktu for Jesus? Can somebody please help me?

I encounter this so often. Not with these words exactly, but definitely this sentiment. Being called of God into some level of ministry can be quite a frightening and/or confusing thing to experience. What do I do now?

Let me clarify something up front. GOD HAS CREATED EACH AND EVERY PERSON ON PURPOSE AND WITH PURPOSE. No person is here by accident or mistake. Regardless of whether or not your earthly mom and dad planned for your existence….God planned you. He and only He is the author of life. And as the author of your life He knows how the story is designed to be written. There is peace, joy, and supernatural assurance that accompanies a person who steps into and walks in God’s destiny for his/her life.

The confusing part, however, is how to get there when you sense it is time to step into that place. That part is what I wish to address for a few moments. Consider what Paul says to in his letter to the Romans:

Romans 12 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

In light of these two simple yet profound verses of Scripture let us draw on some principles to God’s will for your life.

1. Present yourself entirely to God.

First and foremost if you are called of God and you wish to walk and live in God’s will then you must present yourself to Him. This essentially is an all or nothing deal. God is looking for all-in, full-fledged commitment. During the Brownsville Revival, Evangelist Steve Hill preached a message entitled, “The Fellowship of the Uncommitted.” This paragraph comes from that message:

If you are in the Armed Forces and you are uncommitted to the service, you will be discharged. If you are a student and are uncommitted to your studies, you will flunk out. Married person, if you are uncommitted to your mate, you are headed for a divorce. If you’re a stockbroker who is uncommitted to your client, you will go broke. If you are a doctor and are uncommitted to your patients, they’ll look for a physician who cares. If you are a lawyer and are uncommitted to the law, you will be disbarred. If you are a football player and are uncommitted to the team, you will be cut. If you are a waiter and you’re uncommitted to your table, you will be tipless. If you are a Christian and are uncommitted to Christ, you are heading for serious judgment. (Steve Hill, “The God Mockers” page 85).

God is looking for commitment. One of the challenges for me early on in coming to terms with God’s calling on my life was to be gung ho one day and humdrum the next. That was dishonoring to God and even to me. Lack of commitment to God when you are sensing His calling is in essence telling Him you don’t feel He can completely do what He has called you to do with Him.

I want us to understand a principle about what God does with that which is presented to Him. Do you remember the story of the feeding of the 5,000 with the 5 loaves and bread and 2 fish? Look at the story has told by Matthew.

Matthew 14:15 When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” 17 They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

Here are the key principles. Jesus was 100% confident that the disciples could provide food for the people. He said “you give them something to eat.” The miracle of the feeding didn’t originate with Jesus, it originated with the called disciples. Jesus wanted them and us to understand that we do not have to wait until we think we have it figured out, we simply have to present to Him what we have. The challenge wasn’t whether Jesus could multiply the food, but rather could the disciples present to Him what they had even if they saw it as inadequate.

Secondly, Jesus tells the disciples to “bring them here to ME.” Now the story gets exciting. Now Jesus Himself is getting involved. Do you know what that means? That means the supernatural is colliding with the natural and Heaven on earth is about to become a reality. When the disciples committed to present to Jesus what they had, He committed to get involved. Notice that He did not see what they had, shake His head, and say, “Good luck with that.” Absolutely not. He was moved by their willingness to bring what they had. When you and I bring what we have to Jesus – regardless of how insignificant we may see it as being – He gets involved and turns a natural disaster into a supernatural situation. That is good news.

Next, Jesus is specific in how He deals with what we present to Him. He takes it. He didn’t brush it off. He didn’t send the disciples to the local McDonalds. He took the food. He took what was offered. This tells me that despite what you or I may think or what we may have heard – what we bring to Jesus is good enough for Him to take and use for making a difference. Romans 12 says that when we present ourselves to Him, we are acceptable. God accepts you. So many times, however, we desperately want the acceptance of man or others around us and miss the key component of being accepted by God. This happens as we offer ourselves to Him! And the kicker is that when you are accepted by God, He has a way of making you accepted and acceptable to others. When Jesus accepted the loaves and the fish, He made them acceptable to the masses. What a powerful principle!

The exciting part is that He didn’t just “TAKE” the food, but rather He went a bit further with it in that He BLESSED what was offered. Guess what? GOD CANNOT BLESS WHAT WE DO NOT GIVE HIM. But, when we give him what we have, when we present ourselves to Him; He adds Himself to it, His blessing and it becomes more than enough. I really like that.

Then, Jesus broke the bread. This is a key principle to understand. God is not looking to break you down and destroy you. What He is doing is removing the excess and the flesh baggage. The one who endures the humbling and breaking of God is the one who becomes nourishment for the masses. Imagine if one of the 5 loaves had become rigid and told Jesus, “Thou shalt not break me!” That loaf would have been useless. It would have dried up and become moldy and essentially self-consumed.

Finally, note that Jesus gave the food to the disciples to be given to the masses. There is a continuation of the connection, commitment, and teamwork between us and Christ. Some wrongfully assume that if they offer themselves to Christ, He is going to remove them from the picture and do everything Himself. That is simply not true. I heard Robert Gladstone (a professor I had at BRSM) say one time, “When Jesus comes into a person’s life, He enhances them as He makes room for Himself.” When Jesus gave the food back to the disciples that they had presented to Him it was at that point of greater value and usefulness. Those things that we keep in our hands and do not give unto the Lord will only retain and maintain natural value. Yet when placed in the hands of Christ, the supernatural value becomes meat for the Master’s use and food for the hungry and needy. In our own strength, there is only so much we can do. But with God all things become possible.

If you are called, if you want to step into God’s destiny for your life, you must first and foremost present yourself to Him completely. As God by sending His son has held nothing back from us, let us in like manner never hold anything back from Him.

2. Live a life of worship.

As Paul says to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. It is worship to present ourselves and what we have to God. The idea of worship is often misrepresented and misunderstood. Worship is not the allotted time at the beginning of the church service that includes a set of songs. Worship is not the bulletin that outlines the order of service. Worship is a lifestyle that involves us presenting ourselves to God, realizing we are acceptable to Him, and doing so day after day.

Living a life of worship means we don’t only do so when it is easy or feels good. It means we don’t as I mentioned early go gung ho one day and be humdrum the next. It means we love God with all our hearts day after day and offer ourselves to Him completely. I remember once when we did a youth skit at church that seems to accurately depict this idea. It involved people approaching the altar and giving God various things. Someone was portraying a rich person who had lots to give. Someone was portraying a person who was doing some but too busy to do much. And there was a final person who seemed so insignificant and unimportant. The others seemed to cringe at the mere sight of this person. He was broken, tattered, and torn and when he approached the altar he simply laid himself down as the offering. It was a complete spiritual act of worship.

My favorite example of a life of worship through presenting to God what we have is found in Genesis 22 when Abraham was being obedient to God in offering Isaac as a sacrifice.

Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” Genesis 22:5

Abraham called his act of sacrificing his son “worship.” He was willing to give anything and everything unto the Lord and he called it worship. This use of the word, more than any other, accurately portrays what worship is really about. As used here, the word “worship” literally means to bow or prostrate oneself. It is a recognizing of, responding to, and respecting of the authority of God.

3. Do not be conformed to this world – let the change be evident.

If you are going to fulfill God’s calling on your life, you must no longer follow the ways of the world that defined your past. I remember early on in youth ministry I was confronted with this by one of the students in the youth group. I was in the midst of a teaching with the teens when he asked me, “Rodney, why do you seem to talk highly of and miss your sinner days?” Then and there it hit me. I was holding on to my past just in case the “new life” did not work. I was still conformed to the patterns of the world. And I realized then and there that needed to change and change quickly.

The truth is that we cannot have it both ways. Jesus said that no man can serve two masters. James says a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. You can see how this still ties in with principle one of committing ourselves to God. We do so by a turning from the things of this world. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us to “fix our eyes upon Jesus,” and this literally means to quit looking at whatever has your eye and attention and place your focus on Jesus Christ and Him alone. I continue to be reminded that Peter only began to sink in the water upon which he was walking when he took his eyes of Jesus and saw the wind and the waves.

A person will look like and represent whoever it is that they are looking upon and to whom they are being conformed. If you have been called to represent Christ then YOU MUST spend time with Him, fix your eyes upon Him and become like Him in order to properly represent Him.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17 “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.

A separating of ourselves from the things of this world is at the same time a joining of ourselves unto God – a coming into the father – son/daughter relationship. Those God has called to serve and represent Him must unite themselves with Him in all ways and make a complete turn away from the old self and the old ways of life.

4. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

So much of the ongoing battle that we face in coming to grips or terms with God’s calling upon our lives is in our minds. Typically, mental battles are the most difficult and our minds often prove to be the biggest battlefield of all. It is not insignificant that within the context of understanding God’s will for your life there is mention of the need to have our mind renewed.

Two examples quickly come to mind. In Mark 5, as Jesus gets off the boat and is met by the man possessed by the legion of demons, the Bible points out something valuable concerning this man’s healing and deliverance. When the people of the town came out to see for themselves what had happened to this man that had them in fear before, we find that they came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened (Mark 5:15).

The life-consuming battle this man was fighting on a daily basis was going on primarily in his mind. He was literally out of his mind. No person in his right mind would behave in the manner in which this man had become accustomed to behaving. But when Jesus set him free his mind was renewed. At that point Jesus called him to go and tell what had happened to him – to go as an evangelist to his own people. This is overwhelming proof that there is hope for everyone and that the power of God to renew our minds makes all of us usable and fit for His plan.

While in our minds we may be trapped by whom and where we have been, God defines us by what He sees and where He sees us going in and with Him. I meet people all the time who are trapped within their own stinking thinking and it keeps them trapped and unable to step into or walk in God’s plan for their lives. We are constantly bombarded with unrealistic natural expectations and dreams of this world and the overwhelming feeling for many is that they are not now nor will they ever be good enough or able to measure up. In their own minds, they are worthless, hopeless, and useless. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. When our minds are renewed in Him – when we come to our senses – God can do anything in and through our lives.

This leads to the second example. There was a young man we know as the Prodigal Son. He took his inheritance early and he went out and blew it on partying and sinful living. He found himself broke, beaten, discouraged, destitute, and feeling utterly hopeless. The sin that he had given himself over to had caused him to be out of his mind. He was making decisions that were not normal. He even got to the point of desiring to eat pig slop so as to keep from going hungry. Then Luke points out something fascinating:

But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! Luke 15:17

The Prodigal Son’s life changed when his mind was renewed. He was restored to his place as a son. He was blessed by his father. Without a renewed mind we will lack effectiveness for God. This is the primary key and way of no longer being conformed to the ways and patterns of this world. Our minds must be renewed.

5. Let your life be proof of God’s will at work.

Most people spend so much time trying to find God’s will for their lives. In reality when you spend your time carrying out the previous principles God’s will is going to find you. Notice again how Paul says it in our passage from Romans:

. . . so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

By committing to and presenting yourself to the Lord; by living a life of worship; by no longer being conformed to this world; and, by having your mind transformed we put ourselves in the position to prove God’s will in and through our lives. And Paul points out three important aspects of God’s will.

God’s will is GOOD. God isn’t looking to destroy, manipulate, or disregard you. He has our best interest in mind. God’s will is good in that He will not set us up to fail. God’s will is ACCEPTABLE. God is not going to call a person to something that He hasn’t already created them for. When you step into God’s plan and will for your life it is going to be a match for your DNA….every time. God’s will is PERFECT. God has never done anything poorly or incomplete and He is not going to start with the plan He has for you. It is perfect. It will be a perfect fit for you and will perfectly meet the needs of those to whom you minister. Also, notice that the Bible does not say God’s will is good, acceptable, or perfect. It isn’t one or the other, but it is all three. A person will either be in God’s will or they will not. There has been much talk throughout church history about God’s permissive will. In reality that is simply what we have labeled us choosing to do what we want and viewing God’s permission to our free will as His will. That is simply not the case.

God’s will is not as spooky or difficult as we often make it. Most of what we are in pursuit of concerning God’s will is the 5-10% of His specific plan for us as individuals. What happens is that we focus our attention on that small part and in doing so we miss the 90-95% of His general will for everyone. His general will is that we commit to Him. His general will is that we live of life of worship and devotion to Him. This involves and includes reading His Word, praying, being faithful in church, and giving of our time, our talent and our treasure. His general will is that we look more like Him than we do like the world. His general will is that we have our minds renewed by His presence, His power, and His Word. Then, we can know and prove the specifics of His will for our lives.

I found that when I was actively involved with God in pursuit of the general things He wills for my life the specifics that He had planned for me found and overtook my life. I didn’t become a preacher because I was pursuing being a preacher or understanding what His plan was for me. I became a preacher because I was in pursuit of Him and committed myself in worship and gave Him permission and control to do what He desires in my life. By surrendering my own permissive will I was able to embrace His perfect will. That is a beautiful thing. Today is the day to step into His plan. There really is nothing to hold you back. I remember Pastor John Kilpatrick preaching a message at Brownsville that was entitled, “If you want to know God’s will, you must get on God’s wheel.” My response in all of this is, “Lord, please shape me to become what You desire I become.”

Establishing a Revival Culture

There is a growing and healthy desire among many churches and church leaders to see revival culture established in their churches, their communities, and their regions. This hunger and desire is growing, gaining traction, and becoming a voice that is being heard in Heaven and on earth. I join my voice and my desire to this push and hope for a culture of revival. Something I continue to understand, however, is that culture does not simply develop or spontaneously appear. There is a process to seeing a culture change from one of religious coldness or spiritual warmth to a culture of revival fire and heat. I want to briefly share some thoughts on this transition.

1. The atmosphere must first be changed.

Atmosphere is the pervading tone or mood of a place or situation. If the atmosphere of a church, a community, or a region is one of spiritual coldness then the fire of revival is going to be an unsustainable shock to the system. It would be dangerous for there to be a spontaneous explosion of heat and full blown revival. Instead there needs to be a change in the atmosphere. Initially this change will seem like a fad, a flash in the pan, or a temporary surge of activity. Some will comment that things are unseasonably warm or hot. It will be recognized for not being the norm.

In this sense it is imperative to continue to push for a hotter atmosphere. If you are going to see any real change it cannot happen with just an annual series of revival or atmosphere meetings. It must be a sustained effort through prayer, praise and worship, fasting, and bombarding Heaven to begin to see a new atmosphere established.

2. Prolonged change of atmosphere will reset the climate.

Climate is the weather condition prevailing in an area in general or over an extended period of time. One warm moment or day is not going to change a climate. A climate is only going to change if the atmosphere experiences consistent change. When churches or regions do not keep the intensity and heat going there will never be any lasting change. A climate is not made of a few moments or days, but an extended period of time.

When the spiritual climate has been changed you will notice the following difference – the people connected to your church or region will be more apt to notice when things in the spiritual realm seem less hot than normal. At the time those who are disconnected will feel at home in those more “calm” moments. That is an indicator that you have moved from an atmosphere that is favorable to revival to a climate that has become conducive for revival.

3. A climate that has been changed will create a new culture.

Culture is the established condition of a place that is suitable for certain types of growth. When the hotter atmosphere has caused a change in climate you will begin to see a shift in the culture. What happens in that context is that there will be things able to grow and live that were not able to grow and live in the former culture. There will also be things unable to grow and live that were able to grow and live in the former culture. There will be a whole new type of life in the newly established culture.

In a revival culture things will happen spiritually that could not normally take place in a more traditional culture. For example, when Paul was in Ephesus in Acts 19 they had stepped into a revival culture. We read that extraordinary miracles were done through the ministry of Paul. Handkerchiefs and aprons were taken from him and given to the sick and they were healed. Everything was functioning in a higher heat index, a hotter spiritual culture.

The culture of revival does not happen overnight, however. It develops through atmospheric and climate changes. There are things you want to see happen in the spirit in your churches, communities, and regions, but at this point the culture is not there. Do not become discouraged, but continue to push the atmosphere to a higher degree. Continue to pray and seek the Lord; continue to bombard Heaven and make the presence of the Lord more welcome than any person in the midst of what you are doing. God desires revival cultures and the truth is they are springing up in various places. You have every right and opportunity to become the next one. Pursue Him and see your atmosphere and climate changed; see the culture of what only God can do be established in your life and in your midst. The journey toward what you want begins with the next step. Let us turn up the heat.

The Importance of Ministry Connection

It is so important to maintain connection and accountability in ministry. The moment you step away from ministry covering is the moment you put yourself in a position to fail. The early church was marked with ongoing connection and accountability, with apostolic oversight being provided at all times. Whenever ministry would be taking place in other regions the apostolic base in Jerusalem was both aware of the ministry and available to assist as needed.

Philip had been chosen as one of the seven deacons or overseers to assist the early church in ministry. Philip had been faithful with his service and God had raised him to a new place in Him. A person should not desire to stand before people to speak without being willing to stand beside people to serve. In Acts 8 we find him ministering evangelistically in Samaria and great things were happening.

Acts 8:5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city.

People were being saved, healed, delivered, and there was great joy in the city over what God was doing. We would definitely say that Philip was having effective and successful ministry in Samaria. We even find that Simon, a sorcerer, responded to the Gospel and attached himself to Philip (verse 13).

The church in Jerusalem was made aware of what was happening in Samaria and they sent Apostles Peter and John to confirm what Philip was doing and to assist him in ministry. From this account we can see some keys to activating and accepting apostolic oversight, connection, and authority.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

1. Philip did not become jealous.

Far too many ministers and ministries have become territorial and forgotten just how much we need one another. If one can chase a thousand and two ten-thousand then why would we settle for less than what is available? I get the genuine sense that Philip was thrilled to have Peter and John join him in ministry in Samaria. They were not showing up to show off or show Philip how it was done. It was completely Kingdom motivated.

If I become jealous of what someone else can bring in ministry then I am operating in a foul spirit and not the Holy Spirit. In fact, I am allowing the same spirit to torment me as the one that tormented King Saul when the singers declared him and David’s success. Saul lost sight of the fact that Israel was blessed by the success of more than just him.

When we believe we can do all that needs to be done on our own we are dishonoring God’s plan. Even from the beginning He has declared it is not good for man to be alone. Jesus Himself sent the disciples out to minister as teams. We need accountability and connection to see all God’s best.

2. Greater and deeper ministry took place.

Peter and John walked in an anointing that was both different and complimentary to Philip’s. Philip had taken the people as far as he could take them in his calling; Peter and John took them deeper. This was possible because Number One is true. Had Philip become jealous and territorial the people of Samaria would have plateaued at the point of Philip’s anointing.

3. Peter discerned and dealt with what had become familiar to Philip.

Simon the sorcerer continued with Philip and observed with amazement everything that was going on in ministry. From Philip’s perspective Simon was a stable man of God. When Peter encountered him, however, he discerned Simon to be in the bond of iniquity. There are times that familiarity will genuinely breed contempt or the inability to discern what is truly going on in individuals or situations. Had the connection and oversight never been activated it is possible that Simon would have become a true detriment to what was happening in Samaria.

Sometimes the greatest thing that can happen in ministry is a fresh perspective and a fresh anointing to come in and see what you can no longer see. Again, without the absence of jealousy this could not have happened. Philip knew that what was happening was not about his ministry, but was about God’s Kingdom. What Peter was able to discern did not undermine what Philip had done. Instead what Peter discerned undergirded what Philip had done and made it stronger.

It has become a major problem in the modern church for there to be lone rangers in ministry. We can quickly become so self-absorbed and territorial and forget just how beneficial it can be to partner and connect with others in Kingdom service. You and I need one another. What you bring to the table will benefit what I have on the table and vice versa. I do not want to limit God through the danger of isolation. We must maintain connection and accountability. The Kingdom is built by us and not just by you or me. Let us join together to advance God’s Kingdom.

Do Not be Haughty Just Worship

A haughty spirit is extremely dangerous in the life of an individual or in the life of a church. This spirit can keep the one it controls locked into an immobilized position while deceptively causing them to assume advancement and growth. This spirit will cause the one in bondage to only agree with their own way of doing things and to ridicule or question any differing method of anyone else. Proverb 16:18 says that a haughty spirit goes before a fall. The fall is often unforeseen until it happens at which point it is often too late.

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50

Simon was showing His love and devotion to Jesus in his own way, by inviting Him to his home for dinner. This was a wonderful display of worship. Simon’s problem, however, is that he could not handle the manner in which the woman was displaying her worship. In his own heart he question Jesus and he condemned the woman. He was declaring that Jesus was not the man he, Simon, thought He was for allowing this woman to act in such an unacceptable way toward Him. And in his own heart he was declaring that this woman was too sinful to be able to worship Jesus at all. In Simon’s mind her display of worship was no different than her normal display of sinfulness. Simon was haughty.

Jesus addressed this foul spirit in Simon by asking him a question. Jesus asked Simon who he thought would love their forgiver more, the one who had been forgiven much or the one who had forgiven little. Simon rightly answered that it would be the one who had been forgiven much. With that he rebuked himself. Jesus helped him to realize that our display of worship need only be out of obedience and reverence for our Master and not with a desire for acceptance among man.

The woman who came into Simon’s house never considered how anyone else in that room might perceive her; she simply came to worship Jesus. Simon, on the other hand, was both embarrassed and angry that such a sinful woman would invade and interfere with his packaged appeal to Jesus. Simon was haughty. Instead of revealing his heart as he did, he should have been grateful that his home was a place where anyone would feel comfortable to worship Jesus out of their heart. Simon should have been appreciative of the fact that Jesus was welcome in his home and that others were welcome to display their affection for Him in any way they felt prompted to by Him. But Simon was haughty, and for that Simon was corrected by Jesus.

We all have our way of comfort in worship. When it comes to worship we all have personal preference based on both nature and nurture. We all must remember, however, that we are not the source of worship; we are simply an instrument of worship. If your role is serving a meal in your home then by all means make it a multi-course five-star meal. As you do so, however, do not condemn the passionate worshiper that may interrupt your appetizer with a seemingly to you inappropriate display of affection. Let us not be haughty. Instead let us walk in humility, with a spirit that is both teachable and correctable.

I wish we knew for sure what happened to Simon after he was corrected by Jesus. I pray he was set free from a haughty spirit. Nonetheless, we must make sure we do not pick up where he left off. We do not want to be haughty or self-righteous and miss an opportunity to learn how to worship from someone who does so a little differently than us. Regardless of what we think we still have much to learn. As one is forgiven of this their love and worship will grow.

The Spread of Revival

The following is an excerpt from my book “Carrying the Torch for Revival.” God never intends for revival to be localized or stationary, but for it to spread beyond a starting point. From the story of Josiah leading Israel in 2 Chronicles 34 we find some insight into how God desires for revival to spread.

In the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, even as far as Naphtali, in their surrounding ruins, he also tore down the altars and beat the Asherim and the carved images into powder, and chopped down all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 34:6-7

“In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them” God’s fire spread. Let us consider the significance of the spread of revival as well as the areas to which revival spread.

1. Manasseh

Manasseh means “causing to forget.” Manasseh was the first born son of Joseph and was named such as Joseph declared “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” (Genesis 41:51). A large part of revival is erasing your past and giving you a fresh start. I find it significant that the first place revival spread was Manasseh. I hear God saying, “Not only am I pouring out My Spirit, I am also making all things new for my people. No longer will you be held captive by where you have been.” Consider the promise recorded by the Prophet Joel:

“Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. “You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied and praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; then My people will never be put to shame. “Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other; and My people will never be put to shame. Joel 2:25-27

God’s promise is for the return of what has been stolen and the erasing of what has taken place. By spreading revival to Manasseh, God was once again reminding His people of this truth. The first thing revival is going to do is give you a fresh start. As we allow God’s Spirit to work in our lives and erase the past and the effects of the past, we will see fresh opportunities laid out before us.

Oftentimes many of us never progress into our destiny for today because we find ourselves anchored in our yesterday. Whether through the deception of the enemy or the unfriendly statements by others, we can feel trapped and hopeless before God. That is simply not true. By revival spreading to Manasseh first, it was God’s way of declaring that He is able to give a fresh start and to wipe the slate clean.

Manasseh screams of salvation. Nobody is a lost cause, nobody is beyond the reach of God. It does not matter where you have been, God sees and knows where He desires to take you. Allow God’s Spirit to break the hold of yesterday and bring you into today’s destiny.

2. Ephraim

Ephraim means “I shall be doubly fruitful.” Joseph’s second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Genesis 41:52). It is significant to note that before Ephraim was Manasseh. It is not possible to be fruitful when your past has you trapped.

Revival increases fruitfulness. As God is working in your life, intimacy and connection between you and Him will increase and cause more fruit to be produced through you. By spreading to Manasseh and clearing the hurdle of the past, revival was able to spread to Ephraim and bring increased fruit. Recall again that Jesus desires for us to bear fruit that lasts (see John 15). This is accomplished in revival. Revival is a blessing for you and in you, and also a blessing through you as it spreads to others.

One thing we cannot afford to forget about fruit, however, is that fruit takes time to develop. Many times in our lives, or in the lives of others, we would like to see things happening more quickly. By action more than words I have often prayed, “God give me patience, but do it now.” We are so quick to forget that God’s process is perfect, but God’s ways and timing are not like our own.

While Manasseh speaks of salvation, Ephraim speaks of a continued walk with the Lord. In the natural, fruit can only be produced when the seed is fertilized and ultimately when the seed dies. By spending time with the Lord, in His presence – in revival, we are allowing the seed of salvation He planted in our hearts to become fertilized by His Spirit. At the same time, we also are allowing our own motives and agendas to die in order that God’s fruit may be produced. Consider what the prophet Hosea says concerning Ephraim:

O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant cypress; from Me comes your fruit. Hosea 14:8

The fruit that is produced comes from God. We must learn to allow the fruit producing process to play out in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. The fruit that we allow to be produced in the right manner will be more tasty and appealing than fruit we may produce in unnatural ways.

It is also significant that after Joseph was reunited with his father Jacob, he brought his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to him to receive a blessing. The custom was for the patriarch (Jacob) to lay his right hand on the oldest or first born son, indicating he was receiving the greater blessing. When Joseph presented his sons to his father, however, Jacob crossed his arms and placed his right hand on the head of Ephraim, giving him the blessing of the first born. When Joseph tried to correct him on this apparent mistake, Jacob said,

But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations. He blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’” Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. Genesis 48:19-20

When the blessing was bestowed, Ephraim received the double portion or first born blessing. Manasseh is comparable to our experience of salvation, when our past is cleared; Ephraim is comparable to our ongoing relationship with God – a relationship that is fruitful and blessed. God desires that your days of fruitfulness be greater than your past failures. I once told our church that no matter how fruitless your past may have been, God desires your fruitfulness to be even greater through Him. This is a sign of revival spreading in your life as you continue to grow and move forward into greater places of blessing.

One more thing that I feel must be pointed out here is considering the birthright or the first born. In terms of the sons of Jacob, Reuben was the first born and the rightful heir in terms of lineage and importance within the family tree. Consider, however, this statement from 1 Chronicles:

Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright. Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came the leader, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph). 1 Chronicles 5:1-2

As a result of sin and various circumstances, the right of the firstborn was taken from Reuben and given instead to Joseph’s sons. And, with what we considered earlier, Jacob placed Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. So what we find is that of the tribes of Israel, Ephraim has been moved into the slot or place of the firstborn. God has placed fruitfulness at the top of importance. God desires fruitfulness; He desires that we be fruitful in our relationship with Him and that we be fruitful for Him because of that relationship. Revival brings emphasis and importance to fruitfulness.

3. Simeon

Simeon means “heard.” Simeon was the second son of Jacob, and when Leah bore him she declared, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon (Genesis 29:33). Jacob had labored seven years to earn Rachel as his wife. At the end of that time, he was given her older sister Leah instead. From that time Leah felt unloved by Jacob in comparison to Rachel. She felt as though she was second class. The birth of Simeon caused her to declare that God had heard her even in her perceived lowly condition.

Some reading this may have the feeling that they are second class or like Leah, they may even feel as though they are part of a package deal. “I am only around because he really wanted her.” Did Leah ever feel that? Have you ever felt that? How about the pastor’s spouse who is reading this book? Do you feel that you are only around the church and the things of God because you are married to the pastor? Trust me when I say this: that is not true.

Revival spreading to Simeon shows us that God is looking to those who feel unloved or forgotten. God is listening to their cries and their disappointment, and He is going to bring revival in their lives. For those that feel forgotten or unimportant take note that God is listening and paying attention to you. God loves to move and pour out His Spirit in places and among people that may feel or appear to be less important.

When Israel was blessing his sons, he said about Simeon, “I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel” (Genesis 49:7). As a people they were to become scattered, disconnected, and seemingly forgotten. Yet, when God sent revival during the reign of Josiah, Simeon is specifically mentioned as a place where revival spread. God is listening, God is paying attention, and God sees where you are whether you realize it or not. When revival spreads to Simeon it is God’s way of letting us know that the condition you find yourself in or have been in is not necessarily the condition in which God intends for you to stay. God is looking for an opportunity to come and bring His Kingdom to you and bless you.

4. Naphtali

Naphtali means “wrestling.” When Rachel saw that she was not bearing any children for Jacob, she gave him her handmaid Bilhah. As Bilhah gave birth to a second son Rachel said, “With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.” (Genesis 30:8). Naphtali represents fruit produced by wrestling with flesh and blood. Rachel had made her barrenness a source of contention and competition. When we make things more about flesh and blood than we do about God, we are going to be unproductive and barren.

Jacob had toiled fourteen years to have Rachel as his wife. His love for her was not based upon what she produced. He simply loved her. She felt, however, that it was necessary to do something in order to gain or maintain Jacob’s love. She took it upon herself to wrestle her way to some type of supposed victory. She was wrestling to produce in the natural – Naphtali – what God desired to produce in the supernatural – Joseph. The danger we all face is getting ahead of God, getting in His way, or trying to do His job.

By spreading revival to Naphtali, God was bringing about victory and fruitfulness in the manner in which He intended. God’s intent is to bless His people, and for His people to walk in His favor. Choosing to wrestle and fight in our own strength will keep us from receiving God’s best. In Deuteronomy, when Moses pronounced a blessing over the tribes, he said this about Naphtali:

Of Naphtali he said, “O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full of the blessing of the LORD, take possession of the sea and the south.” Deuteronomy 33:23

As revival spread to Naphtali, God was making this declared blessing a present reality. It was God bringing man’s intentions in line with His own – a picture of revival. I also find it fascinating that God was pouring out his favor and blessing upon that which had been produced by human means. God is able in the midst of revival to even bless and use that which may not have started out in the right manner. God’s ability is greater than that of man and He can rewrite and rework any situation for His glory.

5. In the Ruins

Ruins means “a place laid waste, ruin, or desolation.” God was spreading revival and bringing life where there was no life. This is God’s plan for revival. Isaiah prophesied God’s intent toward His people’s waste places:

Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and sound of a melody. Isaiah 51:3

It is not God’s plan for His people to live in ruin and desolation. Much of the church is living far below where God intends, and often settles for much less than what God has made available. Those who dwelt in the ruins in Josiah’s day must have believed they would always dwell in the ruins, but God had other plans. Revival spread to the ruined places as well. There is no situation, circumstance, or people beyond the reach of God. His promise in Isaiah is to bring comfort, fruitfulness and beauty, joy and gladness, thanksgiving and singing to the places in ruin. Revival may have started with Josiah in the palace but it spread to the desolate places; because God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).

Let me reiterate that nobody is beyond the reach of God and nobody is a lost cause. God is not looking for heroes or superstars; He is looking for available people. And He is able to find those available people in the ruins as well as in Jerusalem.

Revival is a fire that cannot be contained but by its very nature must spread. Before we continue, consider this statement used to describe the Azusa Street Revival:

The revival reached out to the rest of the world with a rapidity that is hard to imagine. It was like a fire lit in dry tinder when nobody was looking. It exploded – billowing up and scattering its sparks in every direction. (Cecil Robeck, 2006, p. 187).

God is not finished when He sends revival. His intention is for the fire of revival to spread and reach beyond the borders of its beginning. It can be easy to assume that the move of God is going to begin, live, and remain in Jerusalem, in the midst of where God’s people are living. Yet, that is not realistic or desirable in the spiritual so why should it be in the natural?

Perhaps many of you who are reading this book find yourself in that Jerusalem place and with that it may be tough for you to understand what goes with living in the other regions. But for those who are in a Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, Naphtali, or a place of ruins, I want you to understand that God wants to reach you and bless you in revival as well.

God is not controlled by boundaries – neither geographical nor circumstantial. As we allow God to move in us and through us, we can see His presence and power spread beyond any human reach.

How a Poverty Spirit Redefines You

Our lives can quickly be derailed or destroyed by a poverty spirit. It is God’s intent that His children be blessed and prosperous in Him; it is clearly documented throughout the Bible. All the proof that we need of God’s desire for our best is the fact that He sent His own Son for our redemption and blessing.

Satan, however, has fooled believers into believing that our closeness to God is based on how poor we are or how willing we to be poor in many areas. Many times we take the approach that we must be “poor in spirit” to mean that we always have to look at ourselves from a lowly, weak, defeated, or worthless perspective. When we find ourselves conforming to that exposure and lie it will destroy our potential for transformation. Romans 12:2 tells us we must no longer be conformed, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Many are wondering why they are unable to transition to the next level in God without realizing that transition cannot happen without transformation.

We must stand up, take back what the enemy has stolen from us, and accept the blessings of God without condemnation. We must know who we are and realize that God’s blessing is not only available to us but it has been given to us in Him. Consider the account of Moses sending the spies into the Promised Land and how a poverty spirit stole the possession of an entire generation of God’s people.

Numbers 13:1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a chief among them.” 3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the people of Israel. 4 And these were their names: From the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur; 5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori; 6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh; 7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph; 8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea (Joshua) the son of Nun; 9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu; 10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi; 11 from the tribe of Joseph (that is, from the tribe of Manasseh), Gaddi the son of Susi; 12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Germalli; 13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael; 14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi; 15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi. 16 These were the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua. . . 27 Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.” 30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.”

Numbers 14:2 And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in the wilderness! . . . 6 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”

The ten spies determined that they were unable to possess what God was freely giving to them. They considered their lack in light of God’s sufficiency. They allowed a poverty spirit to invade the ranks and destroy a people. I dare say had I not included the Scripture that names all of the spies many of you would have only remembered Joshua and Caleb. Why? They walked in faith and not in a poverty spirit. A poverty spirit will affect how you see God, how you see yourself, how you see your circumstances, and how you see others. It is true in the natural and in the spiritual.

When considering their place in Christ, a poverty spirit says they are a worthless sinner barely saved by grace. A middle class spirit says they are a replaceable servant working to become worthy. A Kingdom spirit says they are an invaluable son or daughter of God. A poverty spirit will keep a person from possessing the inheritance or promise given to them by Christ. Feeling unworthy or undeserving keeps people from salvation, from baptism in the Holy Spirit, from deliverance, from healing, and from walking in Kingdom identity.

I want to look at the ten spies who were controlled by a poverty spirit. I want you to realize how this spirit will cause you to redefine your identity and forfeit your inheritance. Some have been defined by a poverty spirit for so long that they no longer remember or know what their Father in Heaven says about them. The truth is that when a person questions their identity they will never receive their inheritance. The ten spies were so controlled by a poverty spirit that they declared themselves to look like grasshoppers in the sight of the enemies. They even projected their personal insufficiencies onto the inhabitants of the Promised Land. They saw themselves so weak and inferior that they even determined the enemy must see them the same way.

How exactly were these men redefined by the poverty spirit? God’s instruction to Moses was to send a man from each tribe, and that each man chosen was to be a “chief” among the people. A chief is one lifted up, a chief, prince, captain, or leader. Most often translated as prince. The men sent to spy the land were important among the people. They had position and prestige. They were royalty among them. They essentially carried God’s stamp of approval. These ten spies had natural authority but they failed to understand their kingdom identity. Authority flows from identity, but authority cannot establish identity.

1. Shammua = Renowned

Shammua means renowned, widely acclaimed, or highly honored; known or talked about by many people; famous. It is not speaking of a name that one has taken or established for self. It is a name that has been bestowed or given by God. A poverty spirit will cause one to forget they are renowned and highly honored according to God.

2. Shaphat = He hath judged

Shaphat means God has judged and declared worthy. What God says about you is all that really matters. When a person is secure in their identity in Christ he does not worry about being able to identify with what others say about him. A poverty spirit, however, will cause a person to judge themselves improperly or allow others to determine their true worth.

3. Igal = He redeems

Igal means He redeems, and the root is avenger. It speaks of having been redeemed or avenged by or through someone. In Christ you have been bought with a price; you have been redeemed. A poverty spirit causes a person to continually feel worthless and unable to overcome a debt they do not even owe because of Christ.

4. Palti = My deliverance

Palti means my deliverance and it speaks of escape with the root being delivered. It means no longer being bound or captive to something. After God delivers us from whatever our Egypt was, we must get a new attitude in order to enter into the fullness of salvation. The word salvation means more than going to church every week. It is soteria in the Greek, and it means “welfare, safety, deliverance and health.” A poverty spirit keeps an individual or a group of people bound up in lies and feelings of enslavement to the very things from which Christ has freed them.

5. Gaddiel = God is my fortune

Gaddiel means God is my fortune and speaks of the fortune we have in God. This is true in two ways in a sense of mutual worth and value. You are priceless to God because all of your value is tied to and found in Him. You are bought with a price and you are not your own. A poverty spirit, however, will convince a person of the need to prove a worth they have already been given in God.

6. Gaddi = My fortune

Gaddi means my fortune and is another reminder that God wants us to understand our value. We are above and not beneath, the head and not the tail, and we are seated with Him in Heavenly places. Everything will change when we truly realize we are children of THE KING. A poverty spirit will not allow a person to understand value in God in general let alone in their own life.

7. Ammiel = My kinsman is God

Ammiel means my kinsman is God, or I am of the One who has redeemed me. The perfect biblical picture of this is Ruth and her account of being redeemed by her kinsman Boaz. Boaz did everything right by her and what she gained was far more than anything she could have ever achieved on her own. A poverty spirit convinces a person of their need to gain what they already have.

8. Sethur = Hidden

Sethur means concealed, hidden, or protected. There is an ongoing biblical principle of being hidden in Him and protected in that place. A poverty spirit will cause a person to feel exposed and what they see will be that which is unworthy or has no value. In response to their sin, Adam and Eve hid themselves. Prior to that moment of poverty they were hidden in God.

9. Nahbi = Hidden

Nahbi also means hidden, but this name means withdrawn or hidden by choice. The picture here is of a hiding away until the right time.

Isaiah 26:20 Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. 21 For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.

There are times when God will hide a person away for protection or until the time is right. A poverty spirit, however, will cause the individual to feel eternally obscure or insignificant.

10. Geuel = Majesty of God

Geuel means majesty of God and means exalted or lifted up to a place of majesty in Him. He calls you His own. He has placed on you a royal identity and inheritance. God is obviously majestic and royal, but a poverty spirit will keep us from realizing that in Him we are majestic and royal as well.

There were two other spies sent that did not have the same poverty spirit at work in their hearts. As a result they were convinced that they could indeed possess the Promised Land. For them that was true. They truly had a different spirit about them.

11. Joshua = Salvation

Joshua means salvation, it means you have been made new and therefore God has enabled you to see things from His perspective. Joshua saw the same things the other ten saw as the spied Canaan. He, however, saw things from a different perspective. He did not allow doubts and circumstances to steal who he knew himself to be.

12. Caleb = Dog

Caleb means dog with the root being contempt or abasement; of pagan sacrifice or male cult prostitution. Based on what he was said to be you would assume he would be controlled by a poverty spirit. But just like poverty spirit will cause a person to redefine their identity, so too will a Kingdom spirit cause a person to be defined by what God says and not by what self, people, or circumstances say.

Numbers 14:23 They certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. 24 But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.

It is time that we quit being defined by a poverty spirit and instead allow ourselves to see and operate from a Kingdom mindset. We need not be held back by a poverty mentality any longer, and we need not settle for a middle class mindset either. We must know who we are in Christ and stand strong as sons and daughters of the King. A poverty spirit says we are worthless before God. A middle class mindset works to become worthy before God. A Kingdom mindset says we are valuable to God. Do not allow yourself to be trapped. Instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind; you transition awaits you.

With Leah but Wanting Rachel

Genesis 29:15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face. 18 Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her. 21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.” 22 Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. 23 Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. 24 Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. 25 So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 But Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.” 28 Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. 29 Laban also gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid. 30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years. 31 Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.” 33 Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” So she named him Simeon. 34 She conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore he was named Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.

Jacob found himself among the relatives of his mother and while there he found a woman he desired named Rachel. He agreed to work for Laban for seven years for Rachel’s hand in marriage. As the story unfolds, however, we see that at the end of the seven years he is given Leah, Rachel’s sister, as his wife instead. Jacob was obviously unhappy with what had transpired, because he was now married to the wrong and undesirable sister. How many times do we find ourselves in a similar situation of feeling we have been married to or united with the wrong or undesirable thing? How about the one in ministry who is reading this; have you felt as though you have been wrongfully wedded?

Jacob found himself married to Leah but wanting Rachel. From hindsight we know that Rachel gave birth to Joseph, the son who represents the dream, the deliverance, and the destiny. Who does not want to start at that point and be able to have Joseph birthed right away? Yet while married to Leah there was no chance to see Joseph birthed. What a difficult predicament in which to find oneself.

As a representative of the Father, however, Laban knew what Jacob needed was more important than what Jacob wanted. While Jacob had legitimate right to Rachel having worked seven years for her hand in marriage, there was a lack in him that could only be produced in union with Leah before he would be able to experience production with Rachel. The Father understands our need for Leah and what can be produced in us. What must be learned prior to fruitfulness with Rachel is faithfulness with Leah. If we do not learn the faithfulness with Leah we will be unsure of how to handle the fruitfulness with Rachel.

Leah can mean weary, impatient, grieved, or offended. She was tender eyed and not as attractive as her younger sister. She had good qualities, but she was not the favored or choice of the two, and Jacob did not hide his true feelings. Yet we find that the very thing Jacob viewed as a problem or inconvenience is the very thing God used to develop character and stability in the life of Jacob. Jacob may not have wanted Leah, but he definitely got what he needed from his relationship with Leah. We have to realize that the Father is more interested in establishing what we need in our lives before He is able to give us what we think we want. When you take time to consider what was birthed in his relationship with Leah you realize the value of what can be produced in the less desirable places or situations.

Reuben

Reuben means a gift is given. Often God will use the Leah experiences in our lives to give and develop the gifts in our lives that He can later use for His Kingdom. If you are going to see a Joseph birthed in your life you have got to learn how to father and train your gifting. When there is no affliction there is no need for gifting, but gifting that is developed in affliction is of great value in times of predicament, promise, or plenty. A person who does not learn how to parent their gift in times of Leah will not be able to handle the gift that comes through Rachel.

Simeon

Simeon means God has heard, and I see this as prayer or communication with God. Leah clearly felt unloved, but with the birth of Simeon she declared that God had heard her cry. When we find ourselves in a position of feeling alone or outcast this is the perfect place for God to develop a life of prayer and communion with Him. In our Leah times it is imperative that we learn that it is more beneficial to cry out to God than to complain to men. Not only do we need to understand how to birth and train our gift, we must learn the power and value of prayer and being heard by God. Sometimes the best way for God to get us to understand how to pray is to bring us into situations that force us to pray.

Levi

Levi means joined or attracted to and speaks of unity. The third thing developed in Jacob with Leah was learning to be united with God. We often hear talk about unity among the people of God, but unless each of us understand how to be united with God we will never know how to be united to one another. If Jacob had been given Rachel first he would have most likely found himself more united with God’s provision than he was with God Himself. The reality is that when unity with God is missing we will seek to fill that void in other ways.

Learning to be genuinely united with God will help keep us from being so caught up in or affected by the situations in which we find ourselves. The tribe of Levi did not receive an inheritance in the Promised Land, because God Himself was their inheritance. Through Leah’s third child God was teaching Jacob that it was more important to be united with Him than to have anything else that the world had to offer.

Judah

Judah means praise, and praise is not something that is based on what God does but is based on who God is. Troubles and difficulties should never be able to steal praise, because there is nothing that can change the truth of who God is; He is always worthy of our praise. Isaiah tells us to put on a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. This is our greatest weapon against the circumstances of life. God also promises that He will inhabit the praise of His people, and we see this played out in that Jesus Himself came through the tribe of praise.

Jacob received and trained his gift, Jacob was taught the value of being heard by God, Jacob learned the importance of unity with God, and Jacob gained an understanding of praise. And he did all of this in union with what he thought he did not even want. God knows better than us what it is that we need; and it can be extremely detrimental to get what we want before we have what we need.

At this point in the story we find Rachel so distraught that she decides it is time for her to help God. She gives her handmaid Bilhah to Jacob in order to produce children through her. Sometimes in our lives we can be so desperate for Rachel that we will even take anything that most closely resembles her in order to produce something.

Genesis 30:1 Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.” 2 Then Jacob’s anger burned against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” 3 She said, “Here is my maid Bilhah, go in to her that she may bear on my knees, that through her I too may have children.” 4 So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. 5 Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me, and has indeed heard my voice and has given me a son.” Therefore she named him Dan. 7 Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 So Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have indeed prevailed.” And she named him Naphtali.

Bilhah means troubled, and she represents the trouble that is produced when you try and force the issue and bring things about in a natural sense. Bilhah is a pseudo-Rachel. While as her handmaid she represented Rachel, she was not her. Jacob saw an opportunity to get closer to his desire for productivity with Rachel, but it was in a manner that was of human doing. The world will always be aware of the trouble caused when Sarah gave her handmaid Hagar to Abraham. Consider the two sons born to Bilhah.

Dan

Dan means judgment or vindication, but this represents a vindication with man more than a vindication with God. Dan was born as a natural attempt to vindicate or prove oneself worthy. Many times if we are unable to be fruitful in the way in which we want, we will do something that might at least prove us to be worthy. God, however, has already declared us worthy and vindicated. We need not always try to gain in our own strength what He has given to us freely.

Naphtali

Naphtali means to struggle or wrestle, and his birth represents the ongoing wrestling that is done to prove worth or to gain something in a way other than God’s design. We know that God opened the womb of Rachel and that a great man was birthed as a result, yet with Bilhah we see the human side of trying to make it happen sooner than God seems to be operating. God truly does have our best in mind, and He does have plans to prosper you and make you fruitful. How many times, however, do we get ourselves too involved in the mix and birth things in our ability and then hope He accepts and blesses what we have done? When barrenness is present we can at times prolong it by our own impatience and misalignment. The gift, prayer, unity, and praise are intended to establish and produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. We must be sure we do not place our gift ahead of our fruit.

Now we shift back to Leah’s final two sons.

Genesis 30:17 God gave heed to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Then Leah said, “God has given me my wages because I gave my maid to my husband.” So she named him Issachar. 19 Leah conceived again and bore a sixth son to Jacob. 20 Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good gift; now my husband [l]will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun. 21 Afterward she bore a daughter and named her Dinah.

Issachar

Issachar means reward or fair return for behavior. When Jacob went back to Leah, back to where the Father had first directed him, he was rewarded. God’s reward will far surpass anything man can ever give. It is so important to maintain faithfulness with where God has placed you. While the moments of deviation may be productive it is not guaranteed to be fruitful. Allow God to reward you for being committed to what it is He has called you to do.

Zebulun

Zebulun means to honor or be exalted. The order of what Jacob was given is gift, prayer, unity with God, praise, reward, and now honor and exaltation. It is soon after Zebulun that Joseph is finally born. How might things have turned out differently if Jacob had not learned what he did in his faithfulness to Leah? I believe the order is important. Jacob was not in a position to be rewarded, honored, or exalted until he had developed what he did with the first four things birthed with Leah. Prior to that he was trying to reward and exalt himself. It is so important for us to allow God to develop in us what it is that He knows we need.

Conclusion

Genesis 49:29 Then he charged them and said to them, “I am about to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site. 31 There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah— 32 the field and the cave that is in it, purchased from the sons of Heth.”

Jacob asked to be buried with Leah. He chose to be counted, remembered, and memorialized with the very thing he did not want in the beginning. The things he birthed, learned, and trained with Leah are the things that became the keys to his life. With Rachel it may have been love at first sight, but with Leah Jacob was eternally grateful and connected. May we never underestimate or underappreciate the places or things God does in our lives that seem undesirable. They are likely to be the very things we need. Be fruitful and multiply as you are faithfully committed.

10 Characteristics of a Nimrod Spirit

The sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan. The sons of Cush were Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. Now Cush became the father of Nimrod, he became a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Ninevah and Rehobot-ir and Calah, and Resent between Ninevah and Calah; that is the great city. Mizraim became the father of Ludim and Anamim and Lehabim and Naphtuhim and Pathrusim and Casluhim (from which came the Philistines) and Caphtorim. Genesis 10:6-14

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:1-4

1. A person with a Nimrod spirit will align with and follow natural heritage yet have a godly image.

Nimrod was referred to as a “mighty hunter before the Lord,” yet his natural heritage was that which drove him. As a hunter he was more likely to hunt for position, preeminence, and prestige, all the while having people view him in a positive manner. A Nimrod spirit represents an intense and unhealthy desire to hunt for position with impure motives while having others view you in a positive way. It works under deep deception.

Consider the natural lineage of Nimrod. He was the son of Cush who was the son of Ham. Ham was the son of Noah who had seen his father’s nakedness after they had come off the ark. There are many speculations about what happened when Ham saw Noah’s nakedness, but at the very least it is common belief that he lusted after his father. In the tent there was a twisted feeling of incestuous sodomy, if not such action.

As a result of his actions, Ham’s son Canaan – Nimrod’s uncle – was cursed to be the lowest of servants. Nimrod grew up knowing that his family had been cursed to a lowly place; therefore, his heart was driven by an insatiable desire to overcome that low place in his own strength and on his own terms. He became a mighty one on the earth, driven by a need to naturally correct what had been spiritually established. Although he may have been referred to as mighty before the Lord, the truth is that his might and strength came from himself and his perverted desires to maneuver things to his advantage.

2. A person with a Nimrod spirit will be marked by rebellious attitude and action.

The very name Nimrod means rebellion. Throughout history, the root cause of all things antichrist is rebellion. The natural order had been disturbed when Ham acted inappropriately toward Noah, and Nimrod took it upon himself to right what, in his eyes, was wrong. The heart of rebellion is a drive to save face or gain acclaim in the eyes of man at the expense of everything else. When Samuel told King Saul that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft it was in response to the king’s desire to save face before the army of Israel.

When a person is operating under a Nimrod spirit you will see their attitude and their actions laced with and motivated by rebellion. Rebellion is the clearest human manifestation of Satan that any of us can display. It began with eating the fruit in rebellion to God’s command, and for Nimrod it was rebelling against being the lowest of servants, in hopes of becoming the one most served.

We each are born under the curse of sin, but no matter how hard we try our rebellious approach toward overcoming that curse will never work. Only through Jesus Christ can that curse be broken in our lives. Rather than look to God for deliverance, Nimrod attempted to rebel and get to God on his own terms.

3. A person with a Nimrod spirit will skillfully mix the holy with the profane.

A Nimrod spirit works to mix the holy and the profane just enough to be able to blend the two together in an acceptable way. Nimrod began to build and establish his kingdom when he settled in the land of Shinar. Shinar represents a country of two rivers, and from this we understand that Nimrod took the approach that he was going to get back what belonged to him and his family by blurring the lines of the pure and the impure.

God has always had a stream or river of life that flows from Him. It is a river that flows pure and free and gives life everywhere it goes. The Nimrod spirit will come with a desire to produce a river of man that flows alongside and is heralded as being able to replace the river of God in case it runs dry. It serves as a natural ability to establish what God has put into place. Often you see this spirit work in digging and cutting a channel for a river that the person often calls the River of God. As the river flows, based on man’s planning and craftiness, the unsuspecting are led astray in an impure and polluted stream.

4. A person with a Nimrod spirit will build a kingdom based on confusion.

The beginning of his kingdom was Babel which means confusion. God is not the author of confusion. A Nimrod spirit, however, will work to establish or maintain some sense of confusion and to keep people from seeing or understanding what God is clearly doing. In connection with characteristic number one, the person will be seen as representing God; if confusion is the foundation it will automatically give people a false image or understanding of who God truly is.

It was not difficult for Nimrod to convince the people to build the city or the tower toward heaven, because he had worked so diligently to confuse and coerce the people into following his lead. A Nimrod spirit will be very convincing as it works to lead people into believing confusion is proper reality. The version of truth may seem absurd at first, but the Nimrod spirit will soon calm the concern and cause the confusion to appear normal and acceptable.

5. A person with a Nimrod spirit will extend his reign for as long as possible.

Beyond Babel Nimrod’s kingdom moved into Erech, which means long. A Nimrod spirit will motivate a person with the misconception that length is equal to strength. The mind of others will believe that if something is established long enough then it must be valuable, strong, and legitimate.

This is often a result of the amount of time taken to establish the rebellious confusion as being normal and acceptable. The longer a person is trapped in deception the more likely for that deception to become the newly established truth or reality.

6. A person with a Nimrod spirit will be subtle in his real agenda.

The next city of Nimrod’s kingdom was Accad, which means subtle. Nimrod was hunting for opportunities to make a name for himself and to take authority that did not belong to him. The enemy has convinced many that we must hunt and find our way to obtain what Christ wants to give us freely. We try to subtly reverse the curse that can only be reversed in Christ.

When a Nimrod spirit is present it often will be able to hide its true identity and agenda long enough to gain leverage and authority. In the Garden of Eden the serpent is described as being craftier than any of the other beasts or animals. He was able to get close to Eve because of his subtle approach, yet once he gained a voice, his attack was swift and destructive.

7. A person with a Nimrod spirit will operate in divination and witchcraft.

Nimrod’s kingdom continued into Calneh which was the fortress of Anu, a mythological sky-god or the god of heaven. He represented the lord of constellations. It was believed that Anu had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked.

At its core a Nimrod spirit will assume that when things are aligned properly, in the natural first, they will align supernaturally as well. God has established spiritual things first and His design is for us to operate as spirit, soul, and body. The Nimrod spirit will reverse that and put flesh or body in the place of preeminence and will use divination and witchcraft in order to do so. Consider Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8. He utilized magic powers and witchcraft in the natural to establish a place and a position. He wanted to simply add the power of the Holy Spirit to his arsenal. Peter warned him, however, that the Holy Spirit is not part of an arsenal; the Holy Spirit is the only weapon of power.

8. A person with a Nimrod spirit will expand his rule into as many territories as possible.

A continued thirst for power and control will drive the Nimrod spirit. From the land already established, he continued to move into Assyria where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth, Calah, and Resen.

Assyria means a step. Along the way the person operating in this spirit will step on, step over, or step through anyone he must to get to the place he desires for himself. The problem is when you get to a position in this manner you will never be as high as you think or expect, and will feel the need to continue to climb to your desired yet unattainable position.

Nineveh became the capital of the ancient kingdom of Assyria, and is known as the abode of Ninus, yet another Greek mythological god. Ninus is often portrayed as a centaur, which is represented by a human upper body and the lower body of a horse. As the expansion grew it continued to mix the holy and natural with the profane and unnatural. A Nimrod spirit will move further away from the things of God, increasing the confusion and causing people to exchange the truth of God for a lie.

Rehoboth was built near Nineveh and it means a wide or spacious place. It represents a feeling of comfort and wide acceptance. A Nimrod spirit will move itself and those in its control away from any notion of a narrow way and cause them to find comfort in that which is roomy, even if it is filled with wickedness and death.

Calah means vigor and Resen means a bridle. A Nimrod spirit will constantly display a balance of bridled vigor and rebellious confusion. It is a masterful spirit that works great ruin in the lives of many. It literally took God stepping down from heaven to truly expose and remove what Nimrod was doing. This is not a minor spirit or issue. This spirit works hard to establish, maintain, and expand its authority and dominion.

9. A person with a Nimrod spirit will be behind many things that oppose the people of God.

A Nimrod spirit will virtually never work alone, and this is seen through Nimrod’s natural, family heritage and his kingdom. The enemy infiltrated the lineage of Noah right after the flood and re-introduced corruption, wickedness, and evil. He found a rebellious man named Nimrod who was willing to build and establish his own kingdom contrary to God’s design.

Nimrod’s entire family operated in a natural drive to climb or attain to a position that God had simply not given to them. Nimrod’s cousin, Casluhim, is the one from which came the Philistines. We understand historically how much trouble the Philistines were for the people of God.

Babylon was the first city built and has long stood as the opposition to God’s city or Kingdom. The Canaanites founded and dwelt in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as well as Tyre and Sidon. The prince of Tyre, Eth-Baal, was the father of Jezebel. I believe that many of the things we face in the spiritual are descended from a union of the Nimrod and Jezebel spirits. Nearly every place that has stood as opposition to God’s people can be traced to or connected with Nimrod and the spirit he introduced.

10. A person with a Nimrod spirit desires a name for himself and a position of deity.

The reason for the building of the tower, and Nimrod’s ultimate goal, was to make a name and to reach heaven. The enemy has been working hard to get us to think that from creation God has turned everything over to us, and has become distant and separated from us. As a result it is up to us to do all things in our own strength to get back to the place we have lost. The building of the tower was as far away from the Garden of Eden as the people were able to move, and it was up to them to get back to God on their own. A Nimrod spirit will believe that his efforts will gain deistic acclaim.

In Isaiah 14 it is the king of Babylon who declares five “I will” statements. We often attribute these “I will” statements to Satan, and while that may have application, it was an oracle against the king of Babylon. Understanding that Nimrod was the first king of Babylon we can see that the Nimrod spirit is motivated to become something it is not and can never be. He was driven by a desire to get to a place with or above God in a way that was different than what God prescribed. When a person is motivated to build, climb, or establish themselves in their own strength they are operating in conjunction with the Nimrod spirit, with the antichrist spirit, and with Satan himself.

Conclusion

In opposition to Nimrod’s “I will” aspirations we find Jesus Christ who never said “I will” but always declared I Am. Christ, and all that is established by Him, never has to try to make a name for Himself. God has already given Him a Name that is above every name. The Nimrod spirit will ultimately try to gain what only God can give. In his best effort to become somebody Nimrod failed miserably.

The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. Genesis 11:5

God had to come down from Heaven just to get a look at what they were building. Even their best attempt was small in comparison to the magnitude of God. A Nimrod spirit will cause a person to be deceived into believing they are accomplishing great things, when in reality all they are doing is building toward their own demise and destruction.

And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. Revelation 18:2

What God establishes will end in glory; what man establishes will end in demonic imprisonment and destruction.