The Cost of a Move of God

Recently I sensed the Lord speak to me about many in ministry who have first-hand knowledge about the cost of a move of God and that knowledge now serves as a barrier to them experiencing a move of God in their lives today.

2 Samuel 6 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims. 3 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. 4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark. 5 And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. 6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. 8 And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day. 9 And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me? 10 So David would not remove the ark of the LORD unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite. 11 And the ark of the LORD continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the LORD blessed Obededom, and all his household. 12 And it was told king David, saying, The LORD hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom into the city of David with gladness. 13 And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings. 14 And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

As David was attempting to move the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, those who were carrying the Ark encountered a bump in the road. Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark so that it would not fall from the cart. What he did seemed like the logical, sensible, and even right thing to do. He was not, however, honoring God’s presence, but was choosing to approach Him in the wrong manner. Immediately God struck him dead.

The judgment came quickly in response to the irreverent approach of Uzzah. Perhaps he acted in a manner God called irreverent because he took God’s presence for granted. Uzzah was the son of Abinadab, at whose house the Ark was dwelling at the time David retrieved it. Uzzah likely lived in the house where the Ark was dwelling, but there was still an unfamiliarity or irreverence involving exactly what the Ark represented. David and those with him were celebrating the move of God without understanding the seriousness of or the guidelines that are expected to facilitate the move.

It was never God’s intent for the Ark of the Covenant to be transported in any other fashion. During their forty year journey in the wilderness, it was the responsibility of the Levitical priests to transport the Ark. When God brought the children of Israel to the Jordan in Joshua 3, it was the Levites who first stepped into the Jordan carrying the Ark, after which the rest of the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry ground. God’s instruction demanded that the Ark of His presence be handled in the right manner. The only time we read of a different method of moving the Ark was when it had been captured by the Philistines and they sent the Ark back to Israel on a cart pulled by two cows.

God is specific in how He desires to be honored. Following three months of the Ark being stationary at the home of Obed Edom, David decided to return and finish the move he had started. This time, however, he went about things in God’s prescribed manner. We find that when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. This was much different from before when the Ark was placed on a cart to be pulled by animals. Now the Ark was being borne by people.

When David brought the Ark successfully to Jerusalem he did so in the prescribed manner, with it being transported on the shoulders of men. Along the way they offered sacrifices, offerings to the Lord, and they celebrated Him through worship. The first time around they acted with excitement and zeal; the second they operated in reverence and honor. As a result, God’s presence was brought back to the His people and given a place of prominence in their lives.

And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites, for Uriel, Asaiah, and Joel, Shemaiah, and Eliel, and Amminadab, and said unto them, “Ye are the chief of the fathers of the Levites: sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, they ye may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it. For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.” 1 Chronicles 15:11-13

Consider those who were tasked with moving the Ark and what their names mean and represent.
Zadok = just or righteous
Abiathar = the Great One is Father or father of abundance
Uriel = flame of God
Asaiah = made by Jehovah
Joel = the Lord is God
Shemaiah = heard by Jehovah
Eliel = my God is God
Amminadab = my kinsman is noble

Those who were given the responsibility to handle the move of God’s presence were those who represented God’s character and power. The Philistines were not judged for moving the Ark on a cart, because they did not represent the God of the Ark. The people of God, however, must properly represent Him if they hope to see His presence move in their lives and on their behalf.

God’s presence must be handled differently when moving than when stationary, because everything is different when the presence of God is moving. Uzzah was familiar with the stationary ark as it was at the home of his father Amminadab. When the ark was moving, however, he reached out to steady it and handle it as had likely done before. He was struck down by God.

Many people cry out to God for a move of His presence, but I am not sure how many truly count the cost or fully understand what it is going to take to handle a move of His presence. We must understand Him and the manner in which He has outlined being handled and approached. We cannot assume to know, we must be confident in our understanding. To approach God’s presence from our own understanding is extremely difficult and dangerous to us and to those who are with us.

5 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship with the Holy Spirit

John 16: 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Jesus told His disciples that it is to their advantage that He go away from them and return to the Father. The departure of Jesus would bring the person of the Holy Spirit to work in each of their lives. Jesus was emphatic about the importance of each believer’s relationship with the Holy Spirit. He had told them in John 14 that the Spirit of God that had been with them would soon be in them (John 14:17). He was clear in His desire for His disciples to have relationship with the Holy Spirit. That remains true today.

Is it possible, however, for a person’s relationship with the Holy Spirit to become unhealthy? Can we actually see this beneficial relationship become harmful? The answer is yes. If we choose to approach or manage our relationship with the Holy Spirit in the wrong way it can move from being our greatest asset to our biggest hurdle. How? Consider the following signs of how our relationship with the Holy Spirit can become unhealthy.

1. Needing to feel His presence to feel His love.

If we find ourselves in a position of needing to feel or experience His presence to know that He loves us then we have stepped into a dangerous place. We must understand that His presence is a result of His love, but it is not proof of His love. It is imperative that we understand that His love for us is secure regardless of what we do or no not feel. This can lead to a very unhealthy place in which we constantly need to feel or experience some manifestation of presence in order to validate who we want ourselves to be. It may even cause us to forego discernment and respond to any feeling as being from God.

2. Wanting others to hear about what He does to or through us instead of seeing what He is doing in us.

If we place more emphasis on outward manifestation than inward transformation then we have stepped into an unhealthy place. Exalting visible gifts above tangible fruit is a major misunderstanding of the person of the Holy Spirit. It is a dangerous place when we want others to see how the Spirit works through us more than we want them to taste the fruit of the Spirit that is being produced in us.

3. Wanting different things for ourselves than we are willing to accept for others.

What a dangerous place to be when we want all of what we perceive to be the great things of God for ourselves or for nobody at all. If we are unwilling to accept God’s graciousness for others if it seems better than what we personally have or experience then we are in an unhealthy place. If we would rather find a way to discount what God is doing in someone else than to rejoice with them, then we must understand that we are not operating in the Spirit of God.

4. Knowing only His acts and not His ways.

If we are only able to recognize what is God based on what we have personally experienced then we only know His acts. This causes us to discredit anything even remotely different from what we have encountered. Psalm 103:7 says that God made His acts known to the children of Israel and His ways known to Moses. Moses was able to flow with anything God chose to do because He knew who He was. The Israelites, on the other hand, were limited by what they had experienced. Anything that did not align with their ideal was discredited as not being from God.

Jesus encountered this often from the scribes and the Pharisees. They were unwilling to accept what He did as being from God, because they were looking only through the lens of personal experience and understanding. It is very unhealthy for us to limit God to our finite minds. The Holy Spirit wants us to know who He is which will allow us to understand that He is much bigger than any one manner, method, or manifestation.

5. Comparing testimonies rather than sharing testimonies.

This relates closely to number three. It is extremely unhealthy for us to need to compare our stories with one another. This leads to competition within the body rather than a healthy and harmonious competing with for the sake of the same Kingdom. Consider when Miriam and Aaron complained that they too had heard from and spoken for God and it was not just Moses (Numbers 12). An unhealthy heart will exalt who it is that God is using more than God and what He is doing. One with an unhealthy relationship with the Holy Spirit would rather God do nothing at all than God do something through someone else they deem as better than what God has done through them.

As you know this is not an exhaustive list and the order is not necessarily delivered in a ranked manner. At any point we can see any of these signs manifest in ourselves or in others. It is so important for us to recognize and take captive every thought that would try and exalt itself against the knowledge of God. Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is designed to lead us into all truth and to glorify Jesus Christ in and through our lives. Anything else lends itself to danger. May we never allow our own agenda to replace God’s purpose. May we forever walk in healthy relationship with the Spirit of God and not fulfill the desires of our flesh. May the healthy relationship we enjoy with the Holy Spirit bring all glory and honor to Jesus Christ.

Keep Your Edge

In ministry there are moments when we recognize the need to go further than we are currently and to build and expand to better accommodate what God is doing. In those moments we find ourselves stepping by faith into unchartered territory, needing to ensure that we have the heart of God before we embark on the new journey. Each step of faith in the process is often done with caution and precision. It is imperative that we know God by His presence is accompanying us and that we have not set out on our own.

In those moments when we know that God is both directing and accompanying us we often encounter obstacles, setbacks, and moments along the journey that seek to steal our edge or our sharpness; moments that attempt to stop our effort and service. The key in those times is to stay focused on what we are doing and pay close attention to the circumstances or situations that may try and steal our edge. Consider the account of the floating axe head from 2 Kings 6 to further understand this important principle in ministry.

2 Kings 6:1 And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. 2 Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.” So he answered, “Go.” 3 Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.” 4 So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5 But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.” 6 So the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. 7 Therefore he said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out his hand and took it.

1. The sons of the prophets saw the need for expansion – to go deeper.

The servants of the Lord realized that it was time for growth and expansion. They recognized that they had maxed out their current situation, and to remain stationary was going to be more detrimental than beneficial. They realized they were both spiritually and naturally land-locked and therefore needed to enlarge their tents (see Isaiah 54).

The sons of the prophets recognized that with Elisha (representing God’s presence) with them they were never going to get smaller or less significant. They understood that the presence of God always expands and claims more ground, and they were taking the approach of being proactive so as to prepare for the expansion. They saw the need and were willing to take the steps in advance. The eyes of the prophet will always see what is coming well before it fully arrives, and it will lead him to build and make provision for what may currently be unnecessary.

2. They moved forward under the direction of the Spirit of God.

The sons of the prophets consulted with Elisha about what they saw, and with his blessing they began to move forward. They were unwilling to move forward without the assurance from the Spirit of God that it was the right direction and decision. While the prophet will see what needs to be done, he must be wise enough to not move forward until he has first consulted with God and obtained an understanding the heart of God for the matter at hand.

3. Elisha, the prophet and the representative of God’s presence, accompanied them in their service.

The greatest desire of the sons of the prophets was that if they were going to move forward in the expansion of their territory it was going to be necessary that Elisha accompany them. They were unwilling to move ahead in the matter without the presence of Elisha. I liken this to when Moses informed God that unless He went with them into the land of promise the Israelites were unwilling to go. Even if you know the direction to go, and you know it is God’s heart for you to go that direction, it would be foolish to move forward if His presence does not go with you.

4. As they were being faithful, one lost his edge.

The sons of the prophets did not just set out to expand and then watch as the work was done. They walked and served faithfully. Just because you can see what needs done and you have God with you does not mean that your work is done. It takes effort and hard work to accomplish the plan of God. And that work is always going to be met by resistance and opposition.

This move forward required much cutting and removing of what was currently in place and it took its toll on the edge of one servant. As he was wielding his axe he encountered enough resistance to cause him to completely lose his edge and his sharpness. He quite literally lost his ability to do the work. We like to think that once we set out to do what God has called us to do that everything will simply fall into place. This servant, however, found out this is not always the case.

For many of you reading this you can picture or remember a time when you hit against something that did not want to be cut away and you felt as though you lost your edge and your effectiveness. Some of you are perhaps even there now. It may not involve a cutting down of a tree, but the principle is still applicable. These men were clearly walking in the direction of the Lord and they were accompanied by His presence. Nonetheless, the resistance was strong enough to steal the edge of at least one.

I interact with ministers all the time who have lost their edge. They hit against tradition within the ranks of where they are trying to expand what God is doing; they find themselves being verbally attacked, being spiritually resisted, or in some cases even being physically threatened. In those moments it is easy to lose your edge of effectiveness and wonder if you are even doing what you are supposed to do.

5. Elisha challenges the man to go to the place where his edge was lost.

When the servant who lost his edge cried out to Elisha he was told to go back to the place where his edge was lost. Elisha did not tell him to simply get a new edge, to change his course of action, or to give up altogether. He told him to get his edge back by going back to where he lost it.

For some of you reading these words the Lord would tell you the same thing Elisha told this servant – go back to where your edge was lost and reclaim it. In the height of the days of revival in the mid to late 90’s we often sang “Enemies Camp,” declaring that we went to the enemy’s camp and took back what he stole. This is the word the servant was given. We must not allow circumstances, situations, or resistance to steal our edge and render us impotent or ineffective. We have the authority to go back to the place where the edge was lost and to reclaim it.

For some of you that is going to involve reliving some painful moments and releasing them unto the Lord. For some it may involve confronting something you hoped would forever lie dormant. For some it is going to require you to face head on the same fear, insecurity, and rejection that always seems to steal your edge. You are going to have to go back to where the edge was lost, point it out clearly to God, and allow Him to do miraculous work of restoring your edge.

6. Elisha restored the edge back to the servant and the work was able to continue.

The edge resurfaced. The servant had declared the edge was borrowed; he understood that it was not his but that he was responsible for its care. The edge that you and I carry is the anointing of and gift of God that He has entrusted to our care. God is not honored when we allow people or circumstances to dull or destroy the edge that has been given to us by Him.

I have personally began to realize that there will be people in my life who are hungry for the things of God that He has entrusted to me, and He desires that I be sharp and able to freely give to those what He has freely given to me. At the same time there will be people in my life who desire to dull or remove the edge or sharpness of what God has entrusted to me, but I must not allow them to steal away what He has given to me.

As servants of God we must stay sharp and continue to cut away the obstacles and the things in place that would prevent the expansion of His Kingdom. We cannot allow those things that resist the expansion to cause us to lose our edge. We must not back away or stop the pursuit of God’s best for anyone or anything. If you have lost your edge, go back to where it was lost and get it back and resume the work. If the Lord is on your side and directing the steps you are taking then He will restore your edge back to you and enable you to finish that which you have been commissioned to do. Do not shrink back or be discouraged. Stay sharp and stay on point. Keep your edge and keep cutting away the resistance. The Kingdom of God is being advanced with the help of your sharpness, so do not let it go.

Six Lies that Destroy Covenant Relationship

Jesus made a startling declaration to those gathered around Him in John 8 as they were trying to declare themselves to be the descendants of Abraham. They were staking claim to the inheritance of God, but Christ boldly declared their true identity.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
John 8:44

In his letter (1 John) the Apostle John expounds upon six lies that are destroying the church, destroying the identity of our inheritance. These lies are believed by those who have assumed an inheritance they simply do not possess.

Lie #1: Those who claim to have fellowship with God yet are walking in darkness.

If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 1 John 1:6

This lie is born out of religion, but will lack true relationship and fellowship with God. An individual may be able to fool those around them, but not the One who looks at the heart. Jesus Himself declared that many will say “Lord, Lord,” but Jesus will say that He never knew them.

God is not a perfect balance of light and darkness; He is completely light and good at all times. Those who claim to have fellowship with Him will walk in His light at all times. We cannot claim fellowship with Him while trying to balance the light and darkness in our lives. Darkness that is only occasionally exposed to the light will return to its true nature. We must remain in the Light.

Lie #2: Those who claim to be without sin – have not the capacity for it.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8

This lie is born out of the belief that one is above the capacity or nature to sin. This one feels as though he is above sin and cannot possibly get caught up in it. This lie will justify sin by calling it our nature. We have replaced the sin nature with the thought of human nature and falsely assumed and believed it was not a big deal.

The word “sin” here is used in the noun form and not as a verb. This is not speaking of action but of nature. John is likely combatting those who contend that actions or sins are a result of nurture or surroundings and therefore not to be the responsibility of the person. In truth, however, sin is more a principle of human nature than of human action. In Christ I am no longer a sinner, but to be poor in spirit is to recognize the capacity for sin within me and therefore continue in His truth to empower me to live free of the action of sin.

Lie #3: Those who claim to have not sinned.

If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1:10

This lie is born out of the belief of being good enough and having done nothing deserving of punishment or hell. By the very nature of this lie, we show that we feel the cross to be unnecessary and God to be a complete liar.

If we do not recognize the sin nature, the capacity for sin in which we have been shapen, we will discount the need for true repentance. If I genuinely believe I have not sinned I will see no need for repentance, and therefore nullify the possibility of forgiveness for my sin.

Lie #4: Those who claim to know Him, yet they disobey Him.

The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 1 John 2:4

This lie is born out of the belief that God carries us along and we have no responsibility as His children. We like to scoff at and put down men and women of the Bible for their blatant disobedience to what God said, but are we often very different? We are often more guilty of disobedience in the things that we do not as much as we are in the things that we do.

In John’s day there were antinomian teachers who taught that forsaking a life of sin was optional for the believer in Christ. They taught that one can legitimately claim to “know” God in a saving relationship and at the same time be indifferent to God’s will and His commands, and disobey them. The attempt to be justified through faith in Christ without a commitment to follow Christ is doomed to fail. Our love for God is made complete as we obey His Word. We cannot operate as believers outwardly if we do not allow His Word to first transform us inwardly.

Lie #5: Those who claim to be in the light and love God but hate their brother/sister.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 1 John 2:9

If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20

This lie is born out of the belief that my salvation is personal and I can deal with or view others in any way I desire. For those with hatred or ill feelings in their heart toward another person, the love of God cannot dwell in the same heart. All hatred or ill feelings toward another can be traced to hurt and unforgiveness. God has told us that if we are unable to forgive others, we will ourselves not be forgiven.

If we claim to be in the light yet we hate our brother then it is clear that we are still in the darkness. When the true light is already shining it will overflow as love toward God and toward one another. “Nearness to Christ will draw us nearer to each other.” Andrew Murray

“Love must be the distinguishing mark of Christ’s followers. This agape love is basically a self-giving and sacrificial love that seeks the good of another. Thus, the relationship among all believers must be characterized by a devoted concern that sacrificially seeks to promote the highest good of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Christians must befriend each other in trials, be careful of each other’s feelings and reputation, and deny themselves to promote each other’s welfare” (Full Life Study Bible).

Lie #6: Those who deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22

Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 1 John 5:10

This lie is born of the belief that all roads eventually lead to Heaven or that there is no eternity at all and Jesus is a myth. This is the number one hang-up for every person who is unsaved. To believe that Jesus is the Christ means that one must also accept the gospel. The very foundation of the church is built upon the understanding of who Jesus is – the Son of the Living God.

No one who denies the Son has the Father. This is the ultimate goal and work of the antichrist spirit – the dismissal of the Person and Truth of Jesus Christ. It is both temporarily and eternally destructive to turn away from the Truth of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

In John’s letter he is not trying to teach truth to people who do not know truth. He is writing to remind believers of the truth because he recognized that lies were coming in to steal away their inheritance. We must never abandon or turn away from the foundational truth taught by Christ and His apostles.

We have an anointing from Christ – His Spirit – and therefore we know the truth. We have been given the Holy Spirit to help us know, discern, and understand truth. Others in our lives may be teachers of the Word, but we have no need of anyone to teach us how to know God’s Word. His Spirit is He which guides us into all truth. As we remain in Him, His Spirit will continue to teach us. Error becomes more likely when we turn away from Him and begin to rely more upon man.

How a Spiritual Father Sees You

What does it mean to be a spiritual father? Paul told the church in Corinth they may have thousands of teachers but they have not many fathers (1 Corinthians 4:15). There are many keys and factors that go into a person being a spiritual father in someone’s life, but for today I want to zero in on one important aspect of this key relationship.

A spiritual father does not look at the condition of the people who come to him; he sees their potential and leads them in a way that draws that potential out of them.

I am going to use David as our biblical example for this key component of drawing out potential in spiritual sons. Look at this account:

David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men. 1 Samuel 22:1-2

It is interesting to note those who came to David in the cave. Those who were in distress, those who were in debt, and those who were discontented gathered themselves to him. This is a picture of the position the people found themselves in under the leadership of Saul, under the authority of a father void of spiritual understanding, insight, or authority. They were hurting and essentially like sheep without a shepherd.

These men desperately needed someone to help them, but the only way anyone could describe them was in ways and with words that seem hopeless. These men were not in a positive position in life and they were likely struggling to find anywhere they could fit in or be accepted. I cannot help but wonder if David was their last option, their last hope of finding anyone who could see past their condition. Not only did David see past their condition of seeming hopelessness, he brought out of them greatness and victory.

Over the course of time David and his men brought great victory to many against the hands of the Philistines. He invested in the lives of these four hundred and turned them into mighty warriors. It is quite likely that most if not all of those referred to as David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23) came from this group of men. These men did great exploits, and it is due to the fact that they had a spiritual father who was able to see in them and bring out of them potential for kingdom greatness.

The point is never where you are or where you start; the point is how you finish. A spiritual father in your life is going to be a person who can see the finish for you and help you to properly navigate toward that goal. And his doing so will not be with his own motive or agenda in mind, but so that you can maximize your potential for greatness and overcome all of the previous conditions of defeat. When David met these men they were in debt, in distress, and discontented. As David fathered them, however, they became victorious warriors walking in the security of their true identity. Again I say,

A spiritual father does not look at the condition of the people who come to him; he sees their potential and leads them in a way that draws that potential out of them.

The heart of the Father in Heaven sees where He is taking you; and He gives us spiritual fathers on earth to see us with His eyes. My prayer is that each of us will be blessed to have a spiritual father see in and draw out of us all of the Kingdom potential our Heavenly Father has deposited in our lives. It is time to step out of the false conditions and into our true position.

Are You Walking According to Your Soul?

The balance between our spirit, our soul, and our flesh can be a huge barrier to allowing His divinity to shine through our humanity. How often do we hear the call to walk in the Spirit? Jesus did it and encouraged it. The first apostles did it and encouraged it. Paul did it, taught it, and encouraged it. Today we talk about it, but do we do it?

We have come to the place where we are convinced a person either walks in the Spirit or they walk in the flesh. That causes us to believe that as long as we are not pursuing and constantly gratifying our flesh then we must be walking in the Spirit. But is that true? How much of what we call walking in the Spirit is really walking in our souls? How much is driven by the soulish side of us – that which makes up our feelings, our will, and our emotions?

We may be free of providing for our flesh and the lusts thereof, but what about our selfish desires and our emotionally driven will? We can easily become tied to our soul nature, where every circumstance of life establishes our spiritual condition. Yet we call that walking in the Spirit. We tell ourselves to break through in prayer, but the feelings and drive of our soul may become strong enough that we superimpose our own will into our prayer and what we hear from God. We find ourselves basing God’s leading on our own false pretense, and we allow our desire to become our word from God.

The answer to this challenge is found in God’s Word. The writer of Hebrews says it this way:

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power (making it active, operative, energizing, and effective); it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and (the immortal) spirit, and of joints and marrow (of the deepest parts of our nature), exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (Amplified Bible)

The Word of God divides the soul and the spirit. It brings us to a place of reckoning. It causes us to have our minds renewed. It transforms our lives to a place that is beyond us and our natural ability. It brings us in line with God’s will, as that is always found in His Word. God’s Word possesses the power to move us away from our soulish, selfish desires and into alignment and agreement with His purpose for our lives. We often find ourselves operating in the soul nature of life because we have not learned to be content as the person Christ has made us to be. We must allow His light and divinity to shine through our humanity. This comes from our striving to be something we assume we need to be. As we talked about at the end of the chapter on Honor, God simply wants us to be faithful to Him, and to allow Him to work in and through our lives. He does so with our humanity as we submit it to Him, moving ourselves beyond the flesh and the soul.

How does a person know if he is walking according to the soul? Here are some common characteristics I have observed in those who are walking more according their soul than after the Spirit of God.

1. A person walking according to the soul will have a roller coaster life with high peaks and low valleys. The peaks and valleys will often happen rather closely together. This person will struggle with living on an even plane.
2. A person walking according to the soul will quickly neglect sound biblical truth that does not align with their will, desires or feelings.
3. A person walking according to the soul will pull away from or distance themselves from anyone who speaks truth that is opposed to their stance.
4. A person walking according to the soul will attract others by appearing strong, spiritual, and authoritative. In their opinion others need what they have.
5. A person walking according to the soul will assume their desires and wishes are the voice of God in their life as they have superimposed their will into their prayers.
6. A person walking according to the soul will navigate to and return to whatever gives them the highest peaks on their roller coaster ride of life. It is similar to a junkie looking for his next hit.


Again, the key is the Word of God, where we find the sword which divides the soul and spirit. We can choose to crucify or deny our flesh, but only God’s Word can bring that separation from our soul. That is a huge step in recognizing, embracing, and effectively serving God in our humanity. I do not want to stop short in my soulish approach and miss what is available to me by walking in the Spirit. When I walk in the Spirit I realize and find greater freedom, for where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. It does not mean I become any less human, but I learn to focus my attention on God’s power instead of my own.

(This entry is taken from my book, Sustaining God’s Presence, Chapter 5 – Humanity)

False Prophets and the Five Strongholds that Accompany Them

Jesus gave a clear and stern warning about false prophets in Matthew 7:

Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

The nature of false prophecy is destructive yet it nearly always finds place among the people of God. In studying two passages from the book of Jeremiah I noticed there are five spiritual strongholds that accompany the work of false prophets. These prophets bring a destructive spiritual atmosphere along with their misguided words and actions. We must be on our guard to properly understand what God is truly saying. He who has ears let him hear what the Spirit is saying to His people.

“Then said I, Alas, Lord God! Behold, the [false] prophets say to them, You will not see the sword, nor will you have famine; but I [the Lord] will give you assured peace (peace that lasts, the peace of truth) in this place. Then the Lord said to me, The [false] prophets prophesy lies in My name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, nor have I spoken to them. They prophesy to you a false or pretended vision, a worthless divination [conjuring or practicing magic, trying to call forth the responses supposed to be given by idols], and the deceit of their own minds. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the [false] prophets who prophesy in My name–although I did not send them–and who say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land: By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword; and they shall have none to bury them–them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their wickedness upon them [and not on their false teachers only, for the people could not have been deceived except by their own consent].” ‭‭‬‬‬‬‬‬
Jeremiah‬ ‭14:13-16‬ ‭AMP‬‬

“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets: Behold, I will feed them with [the bitterness of] wormwood and make them drink the [poisonous] water of gall, for from the [false] prophets of Jerusalem profaneness and ungodliness have gone forth into all the land. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the [false] prophets who prophesy to you. They teach you vanity (emptiness, falsity, and futility) and fill you with vain hopes; they speak a vision of their own minds and not from the mouth of the Lord. They are continually saying to those who despise Me and the word of the Lord, The Lord has said: You shall have peace; and they say to everyone who walks after the stubbornness of his own mind and heart, No evil shall come upon you. For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord, that he should perceive and hear His word? Who has marked His word [noticing and observing and giving attention to it] and has [actually] heard it?” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭23:15-18‬ ‭AMP‬‬ ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

1. Stronghold of Lying
The [false] prophets prophesy lies in My name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, nor have I spoken to them.

This first one is obvious – they speak lies. Many people do so, but a false prophet will do so in the Name of the Lord. When we attach the Name of the Lord to something we must be cautious to ensure it is truly something from the Lord. Just because someone says, “Thus saith the Lord . . .” it does not mean it is from the Lord. First and foremost it must align with the written Word of God. I would encourage everyone to read, Thus Saith the Lord by John Bevere as he covers this quite extensively and well. God warns,

1 Timothy 4 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.

There will be those so bound in deception that they refuse to listen to or heed the truth. Lies and deception will grow in strength the longer we allow them to hang around. Those who refuse the love of the truth or refuse to accept the truth will be deceived and deluded to accept all that is antichrist.

The motives tell a lot about those who teach or prophesy. Why are they doing it? Results are not a mark of genuineness. God tells us to look at the fruit to really know and test someone. Character still counts. We have to bear in mind that we know people by their fruit and not by the perceived fruit of their ministry. Ministry and life flow from the vine, but the fruit of the Spirit must be produced through the branches.

2. Stronghold of Divination
They prophesy to you a false or pretended vision, a worthless divination [conjuring or practicing magic, trying to call forth the responses supposed to be given by idols], and the deceit of their own minds.

False prophets will draw on a supernatural power that does not come from the Holy Spirit. They will operate through divination, some even charging a fee for their ability to speak or give words. This is clearly demonic and destructive. Heed this warning.

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 18:10-13

Often the strongest and most dangerous reality of divination is mixing the holy with the profane. The woman in Acts 16 was attempting to associate herself with the things of God as she followed Paul and Silas around making declarations about God. Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8 wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit because to him it looked like a golden ticket. Some ministries want you to believe that they have all that anyone needs. If you add what they have to Jesus you can be someone or something special. True prophetic ministry, however, will draw out of you what Jesus has already placed in you. It will build on the foundation of Christ. Divination on the other hand will seek to manipulate and control.

3. Stronghold of Death
By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword; and they shall have none to bury them–them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their wickedness upon them [and not on their false teachers only, for the people could not have been deceived except by their own consent].

A stronghold of death seeks to destroy as many as possible. When we consent to what is prophetically declared we consent to the ramifications. False prophets bring death with and through their word. In 2 Kings 4 Elisha raised the Shunammite’s son to life. Death had been defeated over one young man and next we find death coming against the sons of the prophets, against a gathered group.

2 Kings 4:38 And Elisha returned to Gilgal, and there was a famine in the land. Now the sons of the prophets were sitting before him; and he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.” 39 So one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered from it a lapful of wild gourds, and came and sliced them into the pot of stew, though they did not know what they were. 40 Then they served it to the men to eat. Now it happened, as they were eating the stew, that they cried out and said, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. 41 So he said, “Then bring some flour.” And he put it into the pot, and said, “Serve it to the people, that they may eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.

False prophets and false prophecy will bring death as opposed to the life intended by and through the truth of God’s Word. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; and He is the spirit of prophecy. We must guard against the death that accompanies false prophets, for as we give consent to their false words we embrace the death they bring.

4. Stronghold of a Perverse Spirit
Behold, I will feed them with [the bitterness of] wormwood and make them drink the [poisonous] water of gall, for from the [false] prophets of Jerusalem profaneness and ungodliness have gone forth into all the land.

False prophets will be accompanied by a perverse spirit, causing many to err and follow after things they normally would not follow.

The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit. Isaiah 19:14

This is the only time this word perverse appears in the Bible. It means distorting, perverting, or warping. The root of the word means to bend, to twist, or to distort. It is the same root as in the word iniquity which refers to crookedness. Perverse means showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences. A perverse spirit will cause a person to justify his thoughts or his actions. It will cause the individual to make things fit into the shape he wants them to be.

Proverb 15:4 says that a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. There are many who live with a broken or crushed spirit as a result of the perverse spirit that is speaking through the false prophets. The tongue of a false prophet speaks in a manner designed to overthrow or ruin. The truth is perverted and leaves the hearer in despair, despondency, or destruction. Peter warns about false prophets and false teachers in a strong manner:

1 Peter 2:18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.

It is imperative that we discern truth and not allow prophetic perversion to trap us to the point of becoming slaves of corruption.

5. Stronghold of a Seducing Spirit
They teach you vanity (emptiness, falsity, and futility) and fill you with vain hopes; they speak a vision of their own minds and not from the mouth of the Lord.

A deceiving or seducing spirit means wandering, raving, or misleading. It means to be led into error by an imposter or a deceiver. To seduce means to attract someone to a belief or into a course of action that is inadvisable or foolhardy. We must be careful that we do not place a greater emphasis on charisma than we do on character. Jezebel was a woman of charisma, volume, and influence, but she is obviously not someone you would want giving you a prophetic word. How many like her, however, are embraced today as being a prophetic voice? In Revelation Jesus rebukes the church in Thyatira for allowing Jezebel to remain in a place of authority and to lead many astray.

It is necessary that we know the Truth of God’s Word. Those without a solid and strong foundation of truth will be more easily deceived. If you do not know the truth, you cannot recognize a lie. We have gotten to the place in the Church where lies are more easily received than truth. Truth is often considered judgmental. This is quite a high point of deception.

The seducing spirit will accompany false prophets causing people to be more drawn to the apparent signs than they are to Jesus Himself. Jesus warned in Mark 13 that there would be many false teachers and false Christs in the last days that would deceive even the elect if possible. Satan has always been subtle and seductive in his approach toward leading man away from the truth of God. This has not and will not change. We must discern what is truly taking place when someone declares a prophetic word. Do not allow the false prophet to speak or lead you to a place of death through his seductive work. The Holy Spirit will enhance what Jesus has begun in you. Do not be deceived.

The bottom line is that false prophets will operate on their own authority and with their own agenda. They will speak and they will act as though directed by God but the fruit will prove otherwise. We must walk in discernment and understand what God is and is not saying. In conclusion, consider God’s declaration from our Jeremiah passages:

For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord, that he should perceive and hear His word? Who has marked His word [noticing and observing and giving attention to it] and has [actually] heard it?”

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.