BEWARE OF HYPE

“I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1).

Are these popular ministerial personalities great in the sight of the Lord or only in the sight of man? Are they really known in heaven or only on the earth? Are they God anointed or self- appointed? Is it ministry they deliver or another subtle form of hype?

“Many who are great in the sight of the Lord are living in cottages and hovels, and are scarcely known, unless to a few neighbors equally obscure.” (William Jay)

Believers, especially Christian ministers, need a baptism of clear seeing and holy discerning. Our ministry marketing budget may be soaring high, but our perception can sometimes be so low. Our motives need refinement. The refiner’s fire is near the door. Will you open it? Can you see the narrow way to holiness? Or is all the smoke blocking your view?

Before me now I see the impression I saw months ago. There are two scenes. One is of a clear and sunny horizon lined with an endless row of people. The other is of a vast forest. Dense fog covers the forest, and out of the fog comes the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ, for the most part, is not found among the general populace. People have to really look to recognize Him.

Think about it. Our Savior was not born in a big metropolis, but in the small town of Bethlehem. And He grew up in the despised country of Galilee. He was not born in a palace where kings are, but in a lowly stable. The wise men had to really search and diligently follow the star to find Him. When Jesus entered into ministry, it is written that He had no place to lay His head (Lk. 9:58). He did not have a ministry headquarters. He died a criminal’s death on a cross, naked and nearly alone. His grave was a borrowed tomb. His throne was an invisible one hidden from the multitudes of those who were healed and delivered through His ministry. He was called meek and lowly; certainly not the description fitting for a king. But today, ministry is so different.

A church brings in a special speaker. He’s known all over so the people flock to hear him. They come from everywhere, every night. At the meetings they jump, sing, and shout. They hear the newest revelation proclaimed with jubilation. The people are saying of the special speaker:

He’s on T.V.
I love his personality
His ministry is so big,
His clothes I really dig
He’s so wonderful!
And his wife looks so smart
Her latest hit song
Is at the top of the chart
Oh, I love to hear him speak,
And I hate to see him go
Maybe he’ll stay another week,
Or speak again on his daily show.

The same church brings in a name unknown. The people stay away by the droves. A few faithful gather to hear the Word of God. They long for holiness and a vision of Jesus. With a broken heart, the little “no name” preacher weeps for lost souls as he delivers a word from God.

The big personality was sent by man. The little “no name” was sent by God. The crowds who came from miles away came to hear a man. The smaller group came seeking Jesus. One set of meetings produced much excitement but no fruit of holiness. The other smaller meetings generated far less excitement but resulted in a brokenness and a lasting work of holiness in those who came. This may seem like an extreme example, but it makes the point.

Just because someone or something is big doesn’t mean it’s godly (and it is also understood that bigness is not tantamount to ungodliness either). In fact, it’s a greater test of our devotion to be big (whatever “big” means to us) and yet remain holy, than it is to be small (whatever “small” means to us) and holy. And let’s not forget that smallness is not equivalent to godliness either. Discerning the difference between hype and holiness is what’s important. But we are so often fooled by the “big” while being unaware and undiscerning of the “small.”

Holiness is not only sought but bought: “Buy of Me gold tried in the fire that you may be rich” (Rev 3:17). Have you been tried in the fire? Have you tested your teachings? Have you experienced and even suffered for the truth you believe? Truth is to be bought, not sold. We sell the truth when we sell our souls to pleasure, profit, and earthly popularity. We buy the truth when we are tried and found true, when we suffer with godly sorrow the pains of our personal Gethsemanes, and yet remain private about them. When we allow God to strip us of all glory seeking and subtle pride, we are buying the truth.

Too many today are selling messages they never bought. When we minister forth from what we’ve personally experienced or suffered, the Spirit will produce a far greater effect of holiness in the hearers. The deeper the suffering is, or has been; usually the more perfect the obedience. The more fiery the trials, and the deeper the burning, the purer and the richer the vessel becomes.

This is what we must understand: God’s measuring gauge and standard of holiness is so different than man’s. Bigness and smallness are terms not found in Christ. Here is the criterion for holiness: Is Christ made visible? Is He seen and heard? Is the ministration of Christ being imparted? Is His word being made manifest? Are the people changed more into His likeness? Is it producing a spirit of holiness and an increase in the fruits of righteousness? Are they paying less credence to men and personalities and reverencing God?

The problem with today’s generation is that we elevate the teachings of popular Christian teachers and we have a tendency to place greater value on them than the Scriptures. We elevate their charisma, their eloquence, their humor and wit, their style, and even their cuteness and good looks. We even sow our finances into the same.

Beware of hype. Beware of those who glory in appearance void of substance. Beware of emotional excitement that lacks depth. Beware of hypnotic smoke with no holy fire.

Hype fakes the happening while delaying true holiness. Hype is infinitely more dangerous than we can ever imagine because it lies to us and tells us that something great is happening, when in fact, there is very little going on.

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THE DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF GOD: ARE YOU AN AQUARIUM KEEPER OR AN OCEAN SWIMMER?

“And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, hat your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4-5).

I had a dream last night of a pastor who was worshipping the Lord in a service but all around him there were distractions, people were not paying attention, and hardly anyone was focusing on the service. Then the Spirit of the Lord showed me that there was no expectation in the service because the pastor had built a low ceiling. This is the present hour situation in many churches today, and this is an important word for ministers and saints.

The Word alone is not enough to equip the saints. The demonstration of the Spirit and power of God is necessary, too. Why else would God set them in the Church?

When the Spirit is released and the power of God is demonstrated it ignites the saints to do the work of the ministry. This is when a body of believers is the strongest. The demonstration of God’s Spirit and power even ignites the service gifts and what is commonly called the ministry of helps. A leader won’t have to constantly ask the people to serve or arduously recruit volunteers. The joy of serving and moving with God is ignited through the demonstrations. The people are always willing in the day of God’s power (Ps. 110:3). The hungry and thirsty will be drawn in.

Sarah is an example. When we ministered in the Spirit in her church she received an impartation. She was ignited with expectation and excitement. She was touched, filled, and something changed in her. This type of thing is to consistently happen in the hearts of the saints.

Even as far back as the beginning of the Church age the seven men chosen to wait on tables were to be men filled with the Spirit (Acts 6:3). The apostles’ quality decision to stick with the unwavering devotion to prayer and the Word kept them in a place of always ministering the Spirit. This is where the focus of ministers needs to be.

Not only will it help ad ignite the saints when the demonstration of the Spirit is on, but it helps the preacher and teacher and prophet for they, too, are ignited in their spirits. God’s workings affect their utterances and there is a greater kick and umph in their ministry, and their words are freighted with the Spirit’s authority.

When pastors make the choice to back away or turn off the move of the Spirit it diminishes the power of God to fill every heart, and it opens the door to other things where people have to be entertained because their hearts are not satisfied and fulfilled in the Lord.

Years ago during a Holy Ghost meeting the head pastor of a large Charismatic church shut off the lights and closed the meeting down on a guest minister. There was joy manifested in the meetings and the saints were having visions of going on the streets to evangelize. All kinds of spiritual activity happens like this when God starts moving. To abruptly and irreverently shut down a meeting where God is moving, even when there are excesses, is to slap God in the face. What shortly followed in this church was tragic, as marriages went sour, divorce and adultery became rampant, heretical doctrines surfaced and many people backslid. This is what happens when pastors stop or hinder the move of the Holy Spirit, or refuse to move into it.

I call this the aquarium effect. Studies have shown that if you put a certain species of a large fish in a small aquarium it will not grow beyond the size of the tank. When a pastor puts too many limitations on a service or on the church, it not only quenches the Holy Spirit, but it limits the expression of the kingdom and it limits the growth and freedom of the people and who they are. There must be an expression of extravagance or you will kill the anointing through formality. You might say: “What if chaos breaks out? After all, Paul told the Corinthians to do things decently and in order?”

Here is the simple answer to that concern. Paul laid out some guidelines and protocol for their gatherings. What we must ask ourselves is this: is it Holy Ghost chaos or it is fleshly chaos? Does it minister edification or confusion? The Spirit’s wisdom is always liberty with limitations.

In a kingdom mind-set each one has something (1 Cor. 14:26), the Ephesian 4:11 ministries are free to demonstrate the Spirit and power of God, and each joint makes its supply. When everything has to be sifted through the pastoral mind-set people will reach a ceiling. Pastors who are only concerned with their vision and how they want things done will produce an aquarium effect. Those who are truly following God’s plan are kingdom builders and moving in an ocean with no confinement or ceiling. Their pulpits are submitted to the Spirit of the Lord, and the world is their stage.

I am thinking of two pastor friends right now who fall on the godly side of this example. In their churches there is much liberty with some limitations. Actually, knowing both of them well, I would venture to say that if they had to err they would err to the side of liberty, rather than having too many limitations that would quench the joy and liberty of the Spirit. Their churches buzz with excitement and the joyful activity of the saints. As a result, more increase keeps being given to them.

There is an awakening to the Spirit of God in pastors right now, especially upon those who are listening and paying attention to the Lord. They know something is missing. They know they made a wrong turn somewhere. They are about to retrace their steps and move back into the will and plan of God for their lives, ministries, and churches.

Pastors of local churches who sincerely desire the plan of God will have soulical ties removed from their make-up where they won’t be able to go back to familiar settings. It will be more difficult, however, for denominational pastors or those in controlled settings to wade out into the waters of the move of God. Once a man comes under a system or humanly designed agendas, where the wisdom of man has preeminence and man’s traditions are esteemed higher than God’s plan, there will be attachments and restrictions in that organization.

Do you want to be an aquarium keeper or an ocean swimmer? The Brownsville revival and its legacy were brought to a halt for this very reason. The president of the Bible school, where I was also one of the teachers, was an ocean swimmer, but the denomination tried to make him an aquarium keeper. The whole thing unraveled when man put his restrictions on it. When the reputation of man becomes more important than the glory of God, there will always be a spiritual abortion. Any minister who comes under a man or an organization that has many restrictions will be hindered if their calling is to be an ocean swimmer instead of an aquarium keeper.

There is coming an exodus of hungry saints from churches that have restricted and hindered the demonstration of the Spirit and the power of God. The expectation of spiritually hungry people whose leadership have constructed low spiritual ceilings will collide with the raw power of God and demonstration of the Spirit they know is available.

It’s time to get out of the aquarium and into the ocean now before the rude awakening comes. It’s time to wade out into the deeper waters of God’s ocean and start swimming in the Holy Ghost. You’ll be glad you did.

THE IGNORANCE ON THE SUBJECT OF TONGUES IS MIND-BOGGLING

I’ve included a few of the many public comments from my last blog, which was also published by Charisma, to expose the blatant ignorance there still exists in the Church and among professing believers on the subject of tongues. Here are some remarks from that article:

I mentioned three pioneers of the faith who said that tongues was the making of their ministries, and that mention was met was great irreverence by one individual.

“John G Lake was a known fake healer who was also a financial huckster. His inability to heal led to death of a girl named Hannah Anderson, and almost crippled another girl who had a fractured thigh.

Oral Roberts: His shameful attempts to get rich off of his “ministry” are well known. Anyone remember him saying God would kill him if people didn’t send him 8 million dollars?

Kenneth Hagin: Spread the Word of Faith heresy and plagiarized Kenyon.

If these people are examples of what comes from speaking in tongues, I think I’ll stick with regular English, thanks.”

What can I say? Such disregard and disdain for some of God’s choice servants will utterly corrupt any life. It is difficult for me to understand such professing Christians. This is eerily equivalent to the Pharisees and religious leaders calling Jesus a devil and attributing His works to demons (Mt. 12:24).

#2

“Tongues? You think it is the be all and end all. But really, it’s just laziness. God doesn’t want mindless drones – otherwise he wouldn’t have given us free will. I mean really – do you honestly believe that God (Who knows everything) would require some random person to babble things they don’t understand in order to save someone? Next time you pray – don’t take the easy way out. Actually talk to your Father.”

Wow! Just half a scripture refutes this person’s stupid statements. “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God…” (1 Cor. 14:2a). The apostle Paul also travailed (this includes praying in other tongues), which is the very opposite of laziness and requires intense labor in the Spirit to bring forth birth (Gal. 4:19) and spiritual growth.

#3

“Paul said in the Bible that tongues was one of the least of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I believe some have that gift, but does one have to have it to be more spiritual than those that do have it, or does one have to have that gift to be saved? No, the Bible does not say that.”

This person missed the entire point of the article. He chose to fixate his thoughts and words on traditions he had been brainwashed with instead of rightly dividing the word of God.

This person makes three errors in his brief statements. First of all, the devotional exercise of praying privately in other tongues is never called a gift in Scripture. The gift is the Holy Spirit, also called the promise of the Father, or the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is available to every person in every generation (Acts 2:39). The word gift is never associated with tongues until 1 Cor. 12 when it is called divers kinds of tongues. It is the public ministry gift of tongues that needs to be interpreted for the edification of the hearers.

Secondly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues is for personal edification which should add to our spirituality in the sense that it makes us more effective witnesses. How many Christians can you name who do not speak in tongues but move in the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Not many. Why? Because they’ve not received the baptism in the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent.

Thirdly, the gift of the Holy Spirit with tongues is separate from salvation. They are two distinct experiences so we should not confuse the two. Jesus spoke of salvation as a “well of water” (Jn. 4:14), and the baptism in the Holy Spirit as “rivers of living water” (Jn. 7:38). Simple. If these individuals would stop trying to interpret Scripture through their traditionally colored glasses and listen instead of speak they would learn something. The problem with many of them is they’ve been religiously brain-washed instead of New Testament taught.

#4

This next person makes the same mistake while adding another statement that increases his confusion.

“Speaking in tongues is not the only gift of the Holy Spirit. There are many others that are just as important if not more. I would think there would be a practical application of speaking in another language for guests who may not understand the local language quite as well.”

Once again, tongues, as in divers kinds of tongues, is a gift, but he is confusing this gift with the simple gift of the baptism in the Spirit with tongues for personal edification. This is the most common error among those who do not believe this experience is for every Christian.

Secondly, he confuses the sign at Pentecost when the tongues they spoke were actual languages the nations at Jerusalem understood, with the private use of tongues for personal edification. There are different purposes and uses of tongues. Actually, there are at least four uses/purposes of tongues.

1. They are for personal edification (1 Cor. 14:4).
2. They are a gift for public use with interpretation (1 Cor. 14:27).
3. They are a means of prayer and intercession (Rom 8:26-28).
4. They are a sign to the unbeliever when understood in their own language (Acts 2:7-12).

The sooner we understand these different uses and purposes of tongues the quicker we will understand spiritual things.

#5

“Paul said tongues was the least, not the first, yet some people think tongues is the first and a must-have to be holy. I don’t agree, but it is one of the gifts not a have to have to be right with God and holy.”

This individual is another who confuses the simple gift of tongues for edification with the public gift that needs an interpretation. But he goes a step further and confuses tongues with holiness. Tongues is not a prerequisite for holiness. The fruit of holiness is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and every born again believer has the Spirit within them so that they can produce the fruit of holiness in their lives. The Corinthians were enriched in the gifts (1 Cor. 1:4-7), but Paul said they were yet carnal because there were strife and divisions among them (1 Cor. 3:1-3). This proves that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not primarily to produce holiness in our lives but power (Acts 1:8).

#6

“Tongues are not to be turned on and off by people but given utterance by the Holy Spirit.”

This next individual seems to imply that speaking in tongues is controlled by the Holy Spirit. This may be true for the public gift of divers tongues that requires an interpretation, but it is not true for the private use of tongues, which a believer receives when he is baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Paul said he could pray or even sing in tongues at will (1 Cor. 14:15).

#7

This next person seems to be quite sure of his position and even acts as the expert teacher who wants to give me a Bible lesson.

“Bert, your article on tongues is based on cheerleading without a shred of authentication. You rely on stories instead of the Word. I pray in tongues. I have for 40 years. When it wants to come up, I go with I.”

We’ve already covered this. He believes you need to wait for a spirit of ecstasy before you can speak in tongues.

But I do not ascribe miracles to tongues that are not found in Scripture. When you make tongues a cure-all, you are way out of bounds, encouraging us to live in la-la land.

A thorough study of Romans 8:26-28 in the Greek will shed much light on how praying with groanings, which includes tongues, is indeed connected to miracles of healing and salvation and even spiritual growth and gives birth to such.

Consider this: for all the praying in tongues that Pentecostals and Charismatics (PCs) have done over the eons, it has not stopped America from sliding into the muck of immorality and godlessness. America as a nation has gone to hell in a hand-basket while PCs prayed in tongues, believing it is a cure-all for all of our problems. The Church has seen a great falling away from the Word while we prayed in tongues. You must stick with Scripture, Bert, when you speak of the benefits of tongues, or you’re teaching error.

I concur with the reverse of what this person is stating – that the very reason America is in bad shape is because the Church has done too much mental praying in English and not enough spiritual praying in other tongues.

Please consider this: when you make tongues the answer for everything, you become part of why so many leave tongues alone. Tongues were given to spread the Gospel to those speaking foreign languages. They were meant to awe those who heard it, as they knew those speaking didn’t know their language. It was a sign given by God to them to persuade them to believe in Jesus, but PCs have made getting people healed. That’s nonsense.

The nonsense here is that this Christian takes the preposterous position that tongues is for preaching in other languages, but we have already seen that this is only one use or purpose of tongues and is subject to the will of the Spirit. It is only a sign to the unbelievers. The main use of tongues is for personal edification and prayer.

You have no scripture for that. You’re teaching us to live by what we think, not by the Word. The only reason I pray in tongues is because it sometimes wants to come up, if I don’t know how to pray, so I let it fly, but since I cannot know what I am saying, I cannot put faith in my tongues to fix the problems at hand. It is the prayer of faith in Jesus that saves the sick, and tongues cannot be prayed in faith, believing for healing, as you know not what you say. Stick with scripture, Bert, so those who read you will not live by illusions and fantasies.”

What else can be said? This individual is all muddled up and tangled up in seeing tongues from only one angle. He is the one who actually is living by illusions and fantasies. I never said that tongues will fix all our problems but it will sure fix many of our problems because you will be dealing with life’s issues from a place of personal edification and revelation. Revelation is another wonderful benefit of the private use of speaking in tongues. Furthermore, speaking in tongues does not give you faith for everything, but it stimulates the faith you already have from the Word (Jude 19-20). My advice to this commentator is that he needs to learn the Scriptures.

#8

“Tongues were given as a ministry tool but we made it a private prayer language and changed it from a true language to praying in English syllables, calling it a language of the heart. Where do we find scripture for that?”

The same error keeps being repeated. Can you see that? Several of these believers are not distinguishing the difference between the private and public use of tongues. It is a ministry tool and it is also a private prayer language.

“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries” (1 Cor. 14:2).

Jesus said that “out of your belly (He is referring to the spirit or the heart of man) shall flow rivers of living water” (Jn. 7:38).

These many comments to my last Charisma blog revealed again to me that ministers who are schooled in these things need to teach more on the topic of tongues so that believers can exercise their faith in utilizing their personal use of it. There is too much confusion in this area that needs the light of the Scriptures to bring clarity and understanding.

WHY DO SO MANY PENTECOSTALS/CHARISMATICS NOT SPEAK IN TONGUES ANY MORE?

This is an important word for those who believe in tongues. If you don’t believe in them, or you believe they are not important, or that they are a gift for a chosen few, or that they’ve passed away and are no longer relevant for today, then this word is not for you. You can stop reading right here. But if you are under leadership who do not believe or speak or emphasize this supernatural language, you may want to consider getting out of the ditch your leadership has dug for you, especially if you are young and the better part of your life is still in front of you.

Let me start strong. Tongues was the making of such world changing ministries as John G. Lake, Oral Roberts, and Kenneth E. Hagin. Someone asked Lester Sumrall how often he prayed in tongues, which generated this terse respond: “When I’m not preaching.” The apostle Paul told the Corinthians that he prayed in tongues “more than all of them put together,” one translation says. Yet modern churches who seem to know better are departing from this sure way.

I travel to churches for a living so I see firsthand how much of a diminishing emphasis there is on praying in tongues these days. There is a marked difference between now and just 20-30 years ago. Even in the back room in pre-service prayer there seems to be less and less of praying in tongues. And singing in tongues is even rarer and almost unheard of. More and more Christians seem to be uncomfortable and unfamiliar with this realm. This neglect is hurting the Church. This de-emphasis is diminishing her power and effectiveness. And this is exactly what the devil wants.

The use, value, and scope of tongues is so vast that it is difficult to sometimes put into words. If we are not careful some of these things will fade away in this new generation. I’m seeing it. There are certain elements of prayer, for example, that will be lost to our youth if those who are older and more experienced in these areas fail to pass them on.

There is a book in my library I often refer to. It is called, Tongues: Beyond The Upper Room, by the late Kenneth E. Hagin. Every believer should have that book. Every church should teach thoroughly from it. Every minister should read it regularly. There are certain men of old like Hagin and many others who were sent by God with light from heaven for their generation. The challenge with each new generation is to keep the light these men brought to us from the Holy Ghost. There is a new church methodology that is making it easier to lose this light. There is new ministry philosophy that is content to let it slip away because according to their wisdom, it doesn’t bring in the numbers or the big bucks.

In the aforementioned book, there are some mind-blowing testimonies of the miracle working power of God that was manifested through those who strongly believed and practiced praying in tongues. One testimony is told of one Brother Boley, a missionary to Africa. He would travel by sail boat to some primitive islands to preach the gospel to unreached tribes. One night on his return to the mainland a storm arose at sea. This was at the turn of the 20th century when they had not light or navigation equipment.

The storm was so bad that they reached a point of two choices. They could stay out at sea and be swallowed up by the turbulent waves, or direct the boat toward shore through the coral reef, where in all likelihood it would be smashed to pieces. Either way, barring a miracle, there would be loss of life to all on the boat.

Unbeknownst to Brother Boley, one of his helpers back at the mission station on the mainland, had a burden to pray that night. Not knowing the situation or even quite what she was sensing, she prayed in tongues for about two hours. Then the burden lifted and she had a note of victory that the answer had come. The Old Pentecostals called this “praying through” – something so few Christians know anything about today. This is one of the elements modern Charismatics are losing.

Kenneth E. Hagin heard Brother Boley in person share this testimony, or else I would’ve had a hard time believing it myself. Around the same time that the burden of prayer lifted off this woman the boat took off in the air like an airplane and sailed over the dangerous reef and landed in the harbor where the waters were calm and peaceful. There was much rejoicing and not a life was lost.

Why are we not seeing and hearing more testimonies like this today? It’s simple. Because we are not praying very much in other tongues. The next wave of God’s Spirit is dependent on the prayers of God’s people. Ministers who know and have experience in these areas need to teach more on the Holy Ghost and prayer, and then demonstrate some of it to the people. The Lord told Kenneth E. Hagin that the greatest move of God would come through the combination of the solid foundation of the Word that’s been built over the last few decades and the power of the Holy Ghost that will be manifested as we learn to enter into this deeper realm of prayer.

Here is a powerful quote from Hagin in the book I referred to here:

“Oh yes, we’ve seen the power of the Holy Ghost in a limited fashion, but a wave is coming that will bring His power on a higher level and in a far greater measure than we have ever seen before. I can see that wave out yonder in the deep waters. It’s coming!

“Don’t stay on the old wave of yesterday’s move of the Spirit. Swim out to the deep waters of the Spirit realm by praying in the Holy Ghost , and get on the next wave of God’s purposes for this hour. Then keep on praying so you can ride that new wave as it builds in divine power and glory.

“I’m convinced the wave that is coming will be twice as high as the healing wave, the Charismatic wave, or the faith wave. In fact, it will be twice as high as all of them put together! I believe it is going to be the wave that sweeps us right on into the shores of the Glory World!”

It is surely not a time to back off from the Holy Ghost and praying in tongues. Instead, it time to double up and triple up in praying in other tongues so that we can see our mighty God display His great power in this gross time of darkness in the earth.

 

HOW TO BE ON FIRE FOR GOD

This article is not what you think. I’m not going to tell you to read the Word more, pray and worship more, share Jesus more, or repent. Those things are great and should be a regular part of our Christian lives, but I am going to unlock a mystery to the fire of God that perhaps you’ve never thought of or known before.

My 20 year old college son coined a phrase when he was in public high school, and it is this: “When Jesus becomes real, everything changes.” That phrase registered real strong in my spirit when my son spoke it, and we included it in a father-son book we wrote together (My Son, My Son).

Think about the individuals that Jesus touched, healed, and revealed Himself to. Most of them exploded with fire at the personal revelation, of not only what Jesus did for them, but ultimately Who He was.

For example, the woman at the well exploded with the revelation of Jesus as Messiah and testified with fire to the men of her city.

“The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’” (Jn. 4:28-29)

The leper, after being cleansed and made whole, and told to keep quiet about it, instead exploded with fire and blazed abroad what Jesus had done for him.

“But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter” (Mk. 1:45).

After the crucifixion and death of the Lord Jesus Christ the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were set on fire when Jesus revealed Himself to them at the breaking of bread.

“Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us? So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, ‘The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon. And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread” (Lk. 24:30-35).

The hearts of these two disciples burned at the revelation of Who Jesus was. But notice what they did.

It was late in the evening and they had just walked about 7 miles from Jerusalem that day. They were tired. But when Jesus was revealed to them in the breaking of bread they were energized and set on fire. So what did they do? They went all the way back to Jerusalem to testify of the risen living Jesus. And I bet you they didn’t walk back. They ran.

The bottom line for getting on fire for God is a heart rending revelation of the Lamb of God. You might say, “I’ve already had a revelation of Jesus and I’m saved. But I’ve lost my fire.”

The bottom line for staying on fire for God is to be continually filled and baptized into the implications of Who Jesus is to you personally.

The love of God was demonstrated throughout Jesus’ ministry, but the height of that love was demonstrated on the cross. The cup Jesus prayed over in the garden of Gethsemane (Mt. 26) (Mk. 14) (Lk. 22) and eventually drank is the climax of the cross of Jesus Christ.

We tend to forget about that cup. It was filled with the wrath of God’s fury against all sin. God rolled the sin of the ages and the sin of all mankind upon Jesus. Visiting that reality of the spotless and innocent Lamb of God should pierce your soul and reignite your fire again.

The Western Church has had a veil over the eyes of their heart because they’ve wandered from the purity of the gospel of the cross. The cup is a part of the cross and it what acts like a sword that cuts away the scales that cover our spiritual eyes so that we can see more of Christ.

When we see the fearfulness of God’s wrath and the exceeding sinfulness of our sin in that cup and how Jesus drank it, we will be awakened and compelled to live solely and wholly for His glory and the reward of His sacrifice.

In the garden, Scripture tells us that Jesus sweat great drops of blood (Lk. 22:44). It was not just a trickle of blood, but the Greek bears forth the meaning of “large, thick drops of clotted blood” falling to the ground. This happened before He even went to the cross.

In the garden Jesus was not agonizing over the physical suffering of the crucifixion that He was soon to face, but the fierceness of God’s wrath that was about to be poured upon Him for our sin. He knew the Old Testament Scriptures concerning the lambs being offered up as burnt offerings for the sins of the people. He knew about the fire of God’s wrath that consumed those burnt offerings.

He knew of the Father’s plan that He had agreed to in eternity past to become the Lamb offering for man’s sin. He knew the Scriptures concerning the “cup of horror and desolation” (Ez. 23:33), that “was filled with the wine of God’s wrath” (Jer. 25:15). He knew Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 53 of how He would “be stricken and smitten by God and afflicted” with the punishment for our sins.

He was wrestling in the garden with these images flowing and reeling in his mind.

He purposed to do the will of the Father and drink that cup. Why did He do it? Because He saw you and me. He didn’t want us to have to drink it.

He didn’t want us to drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out in full strength into the cup of the Father’s indignation. He didn’t want us to be tormented with fire and brimstone in His presence and in the presence of God’s holy angels forever (Rev. 14:10). He didn’t want us to “stagger and go mad from drinking the cup of God’s wrath” (Jer. 25:15).

This He did…all for you and all for me.

This glorious revelation of His amazing love is what God has chosen to transform you and set you on fire.

Now take a deep long look at the cup and be ignited with an unquenchable fire and passion for the Lamb and for the reward of His sacrifice.

Can we give Him any less?

CEILINGS AND FLOORS, ROOMS AND DOORS: HOW TO MAKE SPIRITUAL PROGRESS

A ceiling represents a limitation but it also represents the height of an opportunity and strength of God’s favor, increase, and anointing. The late Lester Sumrall said that the anointing ought to double every generation. One man’s ceiling should be another man’s roof. We should start where the last generation left off. Often we fail to because we don’t pick up what the last generation ran with. We don’t guard the light and walk in the light that our forefathers received from God.

I’ve heard it said that if you put a baby shark in an aquarium it will not grow beyond the size of the aquarium. Sharks belong in the ocean. God has also prepared an ocean of spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus for us according to the riches of His glory and the exceeding greatness of His power. We are to swim in God’s vast ocean and never revert to an aquarium again.

When leadership suppresses the people entrusted to them, when they use them to fulfill their own personal vision, when they keeps things confined, and when the liberty of the Holy Spirit is quenched it produces an aquarium effect. Many people stay in an aquarium all their lives instead of moving out in God’s ocean of abounding grace.

FLOORS

On the other hand, a floor represents a foundation. You can’t have a ceiling without a floor. Furthermore, the higher the ceiling is the stronger and more stable the floor (foundation) should be.

Years ago during an extended time of prayer and fasting I had an experience with the Lord where I kept seeing a glass ceiling. On the other side of the ceiling was increase, favor, opportunity, and anointing. While I was looking at the ceiling, however, God directed me to the floor and to my foundations.

Without a strong foundation of character and stability in your life, the higher you go, the longer and harder the fall will be. A wise man does not reach for the ceiling but is more concerned about the floor. He does not reach for authority and fame, but for responsibility and obscurity.  The wisest of men do not desire the limelight and care not to be seen or heard from except to obey the Master. God furnishes us with favor, anointing, and increase but we furnish ourselves with character.

Here is a marvelous word I received from the Holy Ghost years ago:

Purging and pruning is a work of the Spirit in our lives that is very necessary because the vision we have for our lives and ministry is often ahead of the maturity of our character, the fullness of our calling, and the season of expected harvest.

Mighty men have fallen because they lacked character at the height of their opportunity and calling. This should be a lesson to us to continually work on our character. “Follow after love, and then desire spiritual gifts” (1 Cor. 14:1).  Take heed to yourself and then you shall save yourself and others who hear you (1 Tim. 4:16).

ROOMS AND DOORS

In the Spirit there are also rooms and doors. “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor. 16:9).

Your prayer life, your associations, and faithfulness to your calling and assignments/seasons in life and ministry is what determines the doors you enter through and the rooms you’re in. The late Kenneth E. Hagin said that the Lord told him that 90% of all ministers live and die without even making it to the first phase of their ministry. That word makes me tremble.

Here is some counsel to help your spiritual progress:

1. Prayer life: The spiritual order and progress of your life begins and moves forward first in prayer, especially as you cultivate your surrender in worship, and in praying in the Holy Ghost. One old definition from an 1800’s Webster dictionary of the word “edify” means to organize or order. Thus one translation of 1 Cor. 14:4 says, “he who speaks in an unknown tongue organizes or orders himself.”

When I began to pray in other tongues at length as a young Bible school student, long before I even understood the depths and full benefits of using my prayer language, I was organizing and ordering my life in the Spirit. I was accessing certain mysteries of my life and calling, and God put me on the fast track because of my prayer life. One of the main ways we make spiritual progress in our lives comes as a result of the leading and direction of the Lord that you receive through prayer especially praying in the Holy Ghost. It is time to double up and triple up in praying in other tongues, and get the order and organization of your life and ministry from the Spirit of God. Let Him speak to you. Let Him give you clarity.

2. Associations/Divine hook-ups: We tend to miss this. Why do we never again hear of Barnabas after he separated from the apostle Paul (Acts 15:36-40)? In a short word, because Paul was Barnabas’ divine connection put together by the Holy Ghost (Acts 13:1-3). Barnabas placed more emphasis on his relative John Mark than he did on his Holy Ghost connection, the apostle Paul. He was guilty of breaking up what God had joined together. You never hear of Barnabas again. That is sad because Barnabas was a good man who was instrumental in helping Paul get started in his Christian life and walk.

I believe the reason Paul did not want to take John Mark was because he was still too young and immature and Paul wanted to protect him. Paul really did have John Mark’s best interests at heart. He didn’t have any personal conflict with him. He was just wanting to protect him. Sometimes we put young ministers in positions that they are not ready for and we set them up for failure, and sometimes they never recover.

What happened soon after Paul chose Silas to replace Barnabas and they moved on? In Acts 16 they suffered great persecution at Philippi and were beaten and thrown in jail. What would’ve happened if John Mark was there? Since John Mark had already deserted Paul once, this experience could’ve ruined him for good. Sometimes older ministers can create unnecessary hardships for young ministers by placing them in positions prematurely.

The main point I’m making, though is that Barnabas missed God by leaving his divine connection and association. Your closest associations need to be guarded. Don’t let the desire for your own ministry pull you away from your spiritual hook-ups and your power supply. What do I mean by power supply? Elijah was Elisha’s power supply. Paul was a power supply for many young sons in the faith. Pastors are power supplies for the sheep and families. When sheep leave their God appointed sheepfold and shepherd and begin to follow others they can be confused and scattered very quickly. I’m not saying you cannot be fed by other ministers; I’m just saying your main supply needs to be from your divine associations. It’s not necessarily about a man but a plan.

Earlier in my Christian life and ministry I would travel a thousand miles to go to a conference where my main supply is. I will still go to great lengths to get in Holy Ghost atmospheres that enhance my own life, calling, and anointing. As a missionary I’ve been to Holy Ghost missions conferences. I go to seminars where the Holy Ghost moves in the demonstration of His gifts. Now I receive much from DVD’s and CD’s and books, but there’s something about that face to face meeting that releases greater impartation.

Rom. 11:1 — For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established.

1 Thes. 3:10 — That we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith.

That are certain impartations that you won’t get until you see someone’s face. Impartations happen mainly through preaching and teaching, conversations, and laying on of hands. For example, I’ve received the most invaluable pieces of wisdom and impartation from just sitting around a table with seasoned pioneers of the faith sharing about the things of God. I’ve driven for miles to spend a day or two in a hotel room with men of God whom I look to for coaching and mentorship. I know of one young prophet who followed the late Kenneth E. Hagin around for one year until his anointing was greatly increased. That’s why Elijah told Elisha that if he saw him go (2 Kings 2:10) he would receive the double portion of his spirit he asked for. If you can get all these things from God alone then why did He give us the fivefold ministry?

I’m talking to you about spiritual things that so few Bible school students understand. This instruction will cause a divine acceleration in your life, ministry, and calling.

3. Faithfulness — This is so basic but so many trip over this point. If you are not faithful in the small things, in the small obediences, how shall the Lord entrust you with more? If you cannot rule over your own house well, how are you fit to rule over the house of God or the people of God? If you’ve not been faithful long enough to another man’s ministry, how can the Lord entrust you with your own? Sit down and take care of the little things before you launch out into your worldwide ministry. In your zeal to have your own ministry make sure you don’t leave the protection and counsel of your divine associations and mentors.

This is one of the biggest reasons why 90% of all ministers never even enter the first phase of their ministry. They are not faithful in the little.

I’ll use my own life as an example. I served in the ministry of helps in the local church for a number of years. If I had not been faithful in that phase of my life and development, I would’ve never entered into the next phase of ministry that God had for me. Most people who know me think I’ve always been a preacher, but I was in the helps ministry for sometime. I swept floors, vacuumed carpets, dusted furniture, dug ditches, mowed lawns, cleaned toilets, drove trucks, set up tents, set up other ministers meetings, etc. etc. etc. That was part of my training ground. I didn’t do this for a few months, but for a few years. And I loved it! It was one of the greatest joys of my life to just serve God in a local church and a ministry. I did it joyfully as a volunteer and then as a paid staff person.

Faithfulness gets you through doors and into other rooms in the Spirit. Faithfulness gets you Holy Ghost promotions. Be willing to serve wherever you find yourself. Think of no duty as to lowly for you. Now in the season of life and phase of ministry I’m presently in it would be disobedience for me to go back into the ministry of helps. I could shorten my life that way. But for some it is a lifelong calling. For others who are called to the preaching/teaching ministry it is a phase.

Guard your prayer life. Stay close to your divine associations. And be faithful. In the end you’ll be glad you did. It will be worth it all when you stand before Jesus and give account.