THE KEY TO WALKING IN HOLINESS: AN UNVEILED FACE

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

One of the greatest graces one can receive on this side of heaven is to understand that when our eyes are off Jesus and on man, including ourselves, everything is veiled and we are subject to deception.

It is in the light of God’s glory that we are able to see our true condition and the way things really are. In order to be clothed with glory the Church must know Jesus as the judge. At the judgment seat of Christ “we will be revealed as we are” (2 Cor. 5:10 – Amp.), and “each one’s work will become clear” (1 Cor. 3:13). As we walk with this knowledge down here on the earth we are in fact beholding Jesus with an unveiled face.

The Church must understand that righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne. Until we see that, we cannot walk in true authority and the liberty of the Spirit. It is in “beholding the goodness and severity of the Lord” (Rom. 11:22) that we are kept free from the veils of deception.

It is in God’s light we see light (Ps. 36:9). It is in turning to the Lord that veils are removed from our eyes. The progression of our walk with God should be that we are continually receiving increased light. But until we walk in the light we receive no more light will be given.

We must see Jesus as the two disciples did on the road to Emmaus when they broke bread together (Lk. 24:30-31). In that intimate place with Jesus their eyes were opened. The veil was removed and they were transformed. Even the weariness from the day and the long walk from Jerusalem was gone as they ran back to tell the others the good news. New hope, new life, and new joy came into them.

When we turn to the Lord the veil is removed (2 Cor. 3:16).

The light that Paul received in his life and ministry resulted in him thinking more and more of the Lord and less and less of himself. He embraced his weaknesses because it caused him to continually turn to the Lord. This became his wisdom and strength.

But what often happens in times of prosperity, success, and victory is that Christians stop turning to the Lord and seeking Him. Adversity can really be our friend if it causes us to seek the Lord. When we do, light and revelation will spring forth. It is in this way that the fellowship of His sufferings is a great blessing, because Jesus is manifested as a friend who is closer than a brother.

Paul went from feeling that he was not inferior to even the most imminent apostles (2 Cor. 11:5), to finally realizing he was the least of the apostles, less than the least of all saints, and finally the chief of sinners.

“For I am the least of the apostles…” (1 Cor. 15:9).

“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints” (Eph. 3:8).

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:15).

What happened to Paul must happen to us. Paul’s revelations caused him to eventually walk in less and less self-centeredness and more Christ centeredness.
What happened to Adam must not happen to us.
Adam hid. In hiding, the veils hid God from him.

Transparency is the essence of true fellowship and freedom in the Lord. It is only in allowing your own heart to be exposed that you can walk in the light as Jesus is in the light. True fellowship with the Lord requires complete transparency. The same principle is true in our fellowship with others.

The greatest priority in my life is to be right with God – to be holy, sincere, and without guile; to stay off the road of lust, jealousy, selfish ambition, and pride – to live in the purest truth and purest love possible on this side of heaven – to never deviate from Jesus, my first love, and the glory and strength of all my days.

A number of years ago a large veil was removed from my eyes when the Lord told me that I would’ve ceased to be a man after His own heart if He had opened the doors of influence I desired Him to open at that time. It was during that encounter that I began to more fully realize that no man who understands the true nature of authority will ever seek it because of the stumbling blocks. You would be shocked to know that so many in heaven who filled high positions of authority and influence here on the earth are now in the lowest ranks of heaven, where we no longer see through a glass darkly but know even as we are known.

How can someone who accomplished great things on the earth be in the lowest ranks of heaven? It is because what they did they did for themselves and for their own name and glory. There was a level of deception that worked in them because they took their eyes off Jesus. Their earthly success caused pride and self-confidence, thus corrupting their hearts.

Beloved, seek only the Lord and His yoke. Remain small in your eyes. Be content to labor in obscurity and in doing the most humble tasks. Many who made it to heaven would live their lives totally different if they could return to the earth again.

Behold the glory of the Lord with an unveiled face and you will stay on the path of life.

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BOILING POINT CHRISTIANITY

Do you know what the word “conation” means? It is one of the rarest words in the English dictionary. One definition given is the aspect of mental processes or behavior directed toward action or change and includes impulse, desire, volition, and striving.

Has anyone ever said something nasty or degrading about your Momma? If so, what was your immediate response or reaction? I bet your blood reached the boiling point in no time at all. That is conation.

I heard the late Kenneth E. Hagin say that if you, as a believer, don’t have some kind of temper, you’re not worth a nickel. There is a truth in that statement. A righteous indignation can set many things in motion for God.

This is what happened to Jesus when He went into the temple and overturned the tables of the money-changers and drove them all out.

“And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (Jn. 2:14-16).

Apparently the disciples were there bearing witness to this righteous indignation coming forth from Jesus in wild display. The Scriptures call it the zeal of God.

Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” (v. 17)

That is conation.

We live an insipid, non-confrontational Christianity, and that is why the world is stomping down our values, taking our crosses and Christian symbols down from our public places, removing prayer and Christianity from our schools, forcing us to bow down to their gay agenda, and stealing our converts. We are powerless because we are gutless. Arise, Church!

“For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

The word “cannot” carries with it the implication of “in order to stop me you got to kill me”. That is the kind of conation it’s going to take to bring change to the Church and present day America, and win souls for Christ. Accommodation won’t get it done. Conation that leads to confrontation will.

“Truth always carries with it loving confrontation for truth demands it. If our reflex action is always accommodation regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there is something wrong.” Francis Schaeffer

In the account of David and Goliath during Israel’s battle with the Philistines we see conation characterized in David’s behavior when he “ran” to the battle. He didn’t walk, waltz, or trot – he ran!

“So it was, when the Philistine arose and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine” (1 Sam. 17:48).

When God won a mighty victory through David they brought him before Saul.

Picture this. David is escorted before King Saul by Abner, the commander of Israel’s army. He is still a teenager—small, baby-faced, and wet behind the ears, but in his hand he is carrying the head of Goliath—the head that he had just severed from his body using Goliath’s own sword. Another youngster Jonathan is listening to David responding to King Saul’s questions, while holding that big giant head in his tiny hand. Almost immediately Jonathan’s soul was knit to David’s (1 Sam. 18:1).

Can you see how this bonding happened? Jonathan is stirred from within. He identifies with the brave warrior spirit in David. “I like this boy,” he utters from within. “I like his attitude,” he muses. “I love his courageous spirit!” his heart exclaims. This is a picture of what needs to happen with churches and Christian leaders across America.

The battle of the Philistines is the kind of battle America is in today. Our nation is in a gigantic crisis. Most Christians are either lackadaisical or scared and don’t believe they can do anything. Most pastors and Christian leaders are afraid to speak out against the Goliath in the White House. Only those who are of another spirit and whose hearts are knit together by an allegiance to the Lord of hosts and the covenant our forefathers made with Him in establishing our nation on Scripture will be able to fight in this battle.

It is time for our blood to boil with righteous indignation. It is not only time to pray without ceasing but it is time for action also. It is time for our pastors and spiritual leaders to unite and arise as one against the evils of our day. It is time to proclaim the confrontational gospel without compromise. It is time to run to the battle.

It is time for some serious conation.

BREAKING NEWS: SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR OUR BLOG FOLLOWERS ONLY

I want to use this blog to share three things with you.

MY APPEARANCE ON SID ROTH, ITS SUPERNATURAL

As some of you may already know, I did an interview with Sid Roth for his show, It’s Supernatural, a few weeks ago. This show will finally air this coming week from Monday-Sunday (November 23-29). For you, our blog followers, I wanted to give you a sneak preview. The theme of the show is called, “A House On Fire”, and besides the interview and some Q & A on revival, it includes my testimony of the baptism of fire I received and miracles I’ve witnessed.

The package they offer on the show includes a revision of my book, The Real Spirit of Revival, with three additional chapters, as well as a 3 part audio series on how you and your family can live a Spirit-filled, on-fire life for God in these dark days. Sid Roth’s ministry will also give you a revival quote card. Sid loves revival quotes (smile). The man is as pure as the driven snow. What you see is definitely what you get. He is the same way privately as he is publicly with a great heart for souls and the supernatural. I encourage you to support his show by purchasing the product offered. That is how they pay for the bulk of the show. I think the entire package will sell for something like 39.99. If you absolutely cannot afford that price you can wait because I will buy any leftover product from them at cost and probably be selling it for less.

NEW WEBSITE AND CHRISTMAS BONUS

The second thing we’d like you to know is that we’ve been in a long process of upgrading and re-doing our entire website. It should be ready real soon. We wanted to give you all a heads-up so that you don’t think you’ve landed on another ministry’s site or blog section. The blog section will probably have a new look as well. Let us know what you think when it comes out.

Also, we’d like to let you know that we will be putting our books on sale for the Christmas holidays in case you wanted to purchase them as a gift for friends or loved ones. Soon we will probably offer a promo code for all those who subscribe to our mailing list and/or blog, which will give them access to discounts on products from time to time.

POSSIBLE FUTURE WEBINAR

Finally, I’d like to mention to you that Carolyn and I are prayerfully considering doing a webinar/video series. We wanted to hear some feedback from you first, since we know most of you follow our blog because of your love for truth.

Here’s the deal: The things we want to share on these videos are precious gems and pearls of truths the Holy Spirit has taught us over 30 years of ministry, especially in the last few years. At first we thought of making these public through YouTube and our social networks, but we were mindful of the scripture that says, “Do not cast your pearls before swine or cast that which is holy before dogs…” (Mt. 7:6). If we made it public we would probably set it up as some kind of school of the Spirit and render some sort of fee, where only the serious ones would sign up. And we may still do that. After all, we do live by the gospel and this new video-type format will take large amounts of our time.

This is where we would like some feedback from you because we’ve gone back and forth on this. My wife and I have never charged for our services in the gospel. Just this week a new pastor invited us to minister at his church and asked me what our financial requirements were. I had to chuckle. But then I realized that many preachers won’t go to certain churches to minister because they can’t meet their budget. We don’t want to be identified with that kind of ministry philosophy “that we may present the gospel without charge” as Paul said. I’ve written nearly 200 blogs in the last two years here and also one a week for Charisma from which I receive no compensation. But the apostle also stated that “those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar” (1 Cor. 9:13). So in regards to this webinar this is where we struggle. Here are my questions for you that could help us in making a decision:

  1. Would you be interested in having access to this type of School of the Spirit seminar (not sure what we will call it yet)?
  2. If so, would it be offensive to you in any way if we charged a monthly fee to access it?
  3. In your view, is it better to charge a monthly fee or just receive a free-will offering at the end of each webinar session? Or is it better to not do either one?

Please share your heart with us freely and give us some feedback. Send your responses to this email: bertfarias1@gmail.com

Please feel free to share any other bits of wisdom God may have you share.

Thank you in advance for those who can participate in this little survey questionnaire. And thanks for following our blog even though we may lose some followers over this letter.

Abundant grace to each of you.

MY STORY OF MOVING WITH THE GLORY

My last college roommate, Donny and I got saved around the same time. After being saved he began fellowshipping at a Baptist church and invited me to join him for a service. I went and enjoyed the solid salvation message that is common to Baptist doctrine.

Around the same time the man that had led me to the Lord invited me to attend a Pentecostal Bible study. Well, guess what? I brought my roommate with me. Like me, he enjoyed the Word but was uncomfortable with the Pentecostal exuberance and that funny language they called tongues. I was not uncomfortable at all but rather intrigued by it. I saw it laid out in the Word but Donny couldn’t see it.

The more he associated with non-Pentecostal people who criticized tongues the farther away he got from being open and teachable to accepting and receiving the baptism in the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. The big lesson here is that our associations can hinder or help us in receiving all God has for us in our Christian lives. I was a witness of this early on in my walk with the Lord.

Shortly thereafter I was baptized in the Holy Ghost and began speaking in other tongues regularly and have enjoyed that free flowing stream of blessing, revelation, and power in my life since those early days. My friend Donny went in the opposite direction and to my knowledge has never been filled with the Holy Ghost.

About 18 months later when I chose to obey God’s calling on my life to attend Rhema Bible Training Center. The folks in the area I lived warned me of associating myself with those “name and claim it” prosperity preachers. On the inside I knew those folks were mistaken and only seeing things through the small lens of the environment they were in. They were seeing the dirty bath water but I saw the baby. I also knew that most of them would never grow spiritually beyond a certain point because of their associations.

While I was at Bible school I received an impartation from the late Kenneth E. Hagin – an impartation of a spirit of faith, boldness, and the supernatural. I learned great foundational truths on the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit, healing, love, prayer, the authority of the believer, and many redemptive realities. I caught a wave of the supernatural that launched me into fruitful ministry.

In Bible school one of our first special speakers we had was the late Dr. Lester Sumrall. He was 70 years old at that time and he told the students how the Lord had allowed him to be in every major move of God throughout his life. He went on to explain how every move of God is like a wave out at sea. Every wave has an end and most Christians will ride one wave into the seashore until they dry up.

Dr. Sumrall compared many Christians’ lives to denominations that were birthed in revival but then dried up. He told us that as soon as a wave heads into the seashore you should be looking for the next one to jump on.
He even explained to us how he’d lost close friendships over these issues because some chose to stay on the same wave or denomination which eventually dried up while he kept moving on with God. Once again, associations are one of the greatest influences that determine a person’s spiritual level in God.

I totally grasped this wisdom and received it right there and then and prayed that the Lord would keep me in the center of all he was doing on the earth. After graduating from Bible school God sent me overseas as a missionary. Who would’ve known that once again Dr. Sumrall would be one of our first special speakers on the mission field at our annual Bible school convention and graduation ceremony?

While there he told us that this was one of the greatest moves of God he’d ever witnessed in all his years of ministry. I was surprised and wondered why he said that concerning our team and the ministry we planted there under the leadership of the late Russ Tatro. He said it was because he’d never seen so many denominations under one roof. He called that a great move of God. Our Bible schools had students from nearly every denomination in the country. We were in the middle of that move and didn’t even realize how great it was.

Then my wife and I moved to a Muslim country to pioneer another work. A resident pastor in this country told me if we started a Bible school there we might have 10 students. That discouraged me at first, but we had learned to pray and to walk in faith and obedience. We started with 200 students and the ministry prospered. The door to the gospel was closing in that nation, but God kicked it open through our labors in the Lord. We and our national team rode that wave for many years in that nation before the Lord sent us back to America.

In America I received a call to be a part of another great wave of revival that mounted up in Pensacola, Florida, which became known as the Brownsville Revival. Some were not too sure about this wave either as it received heavy criticism from denominations. Even some of my Rhema friends were concerned about it because it was a different wave than what they were used to. But we knew it was God and we rode it and enjoyed it while it lasted. Four million visitors came from around the world and 150,000 first time salvations were recorded. We were privileged to train and equip many who came from around the world to be there.

Many who were a part of that move are longing for the past and praying for another wave like that. But no two waves are the same. Don’t try and imitate what the Lord did in the past, but be engaged in what He is doing now.
God is always moving. Too many are moving in learned behaviors that have become a form – shaking, noises they make, things they do, and various manifestations that were a part of a past outpouring, but have lost their anointing.

Smith Wigglesworth said, “I have revival everywhere I go because I live full.” This is what Christians must understand. God’s plan under the new covenant is for every believer to live a Spirit-filled life. You cannot do that without being baptized in the Holy Ghost and speaking in new tongues.

Go back to the beginning of this article. What would’ve happened if I decided to side in with my friend Donny and his associations and resist the baptism of the Holy Ghost? I would’ve never been privileged to ride the waves I’ve ridden all these many years of ministry. Two different choices resulted in two very different destinies. I rejoice that my friend Donny is saved and probably still loves the Lord today, but how different it would’ve been for him had he embraced and received the baptism in the Holy Ghost?

Every man has as much of God as He wants. Your associations will either put something in you or take it out of you. They will make you better or worse. They will lift you up higher in God or try and keep you at or below their level. Most will attempt to create your world for you, and they will always make it too small.

Move with God, believer! Who cares what your best friend says? You are not accountable him but to God. Who cares what your favorite preacher says? I know many good preachers and theologians who know little to nothing about the Holy Ghost and moving with God in the supernatural.

What will my church think? Who cares what your dead church thinks? If it’s dead it stinks. Your church may even have started in revival, but perhaps is now only an empty shell of what it once was – a monument memorializing the past. Jesus said, “Let the dead bury the dead.” You go on and move with God.

Move with God preacher! Who cares what your dead church members say? Who cares what your peers think? It’s better to obey God than man. Who cares about the church’s traditions that contradict the Word of God? Who cares what your denominational authorities say? If you know it’s God flow with it! He will bless you for your obedience and take care of you.

If you don’t know how to move with God it is time to associate with those who do.

THE JOY OF THE LORD ACCELERATES DIVINE ACTIVITY

God wants us full of joy. In His presence there is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). When we have a need He tells us to ask and receive, that our joy may be full (Jn. 16:23-24).

These are the days of the new and better covenant based on better promises. Thus, these are days of extravagant asking so that we may experience extravagant joy from having our needs fully met and desires granted.

The Word of God speaks of joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Pet. 1:8) that begin with believing and rejoicing in the One we have not seen but whom we know is real. That in itself should cause great rejoicing.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing…” (Rom. 15:13). There is joy and peace in believing! The reality of the Lord, who is the eternal life, enriches our fellowship with Him and with one another leading to a fullness of joy in each of us who have believed (1 Jn. 1:1-4).

Under this new and better covenant we can now with unveiled face behold the glory of the Lord and be gradually changed into His image (2 Cor. 3:18), from one degree of glory to another. We are to maintain the glow of His glory that comes from a Spirit-filled life through our communion with God. Hallelujah!

The Bible speaks of the oil of joy or gladness that Jesus was anointed with (Heb. 1:9). He was the outshining of His Father just as we now are. The joy of the Lord oils our countenance. In Ex. 34:29-35 we see that Moses’ face shone with the emanating rays of God’s glory that came from his time communing with God on Mount Sinai.

One of the elements that peaked my interest in the gospel was the outshining of the person’s countenance that led me to Jesus. Then when I got saved and filled with the Holy Ghost a college friend of mine witnessed this same element in my life. “Man, it’s obvious you’re different now. Your face shines!” he said.

Not only does the Lord want our joy and rejoicing to be full, and to shine with the oil of His presence, but He wants us to walk in strength, power, and victory.

The psalmist said, “But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil(Ps. 92:10). The word horn symbolizes strength as in the strength of an ox or other horned animals. The Bible says that “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Neh. 8:10).

The Hebrew writers and speakers referred to a person’s horn being exalted (Ps. 89:24; 112:9; 148:14). The horn also symbolizes power and victory. The “breaking of the horn” also portrayed defeat and the removal of God’s presence and protection.

“In fierce anger He has cut off and destroyed every horn of Israel. He has withdrawn His right hand from the presence of the enemy” (Lam. 2:3 Amp.).

Some might argue and say, “life can’t always be happy – that’s living in fantasy land! People go through hard stuff that life throws at them and it’s not always fair.” True. But we must understand that happiness and joy are two different things. Happiness is based on circumstances, which are always changing, but joy is based on the Lord who never changes. Happiness comes from the outside, but joy comes from within.

Jesus told us to be of good cheer (joyful) even in the midst of tribulations. How can we do that? By keeping our focus on Him who has overcome the world. Jesus!!!

“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

Scripture also admonishes us that even in our trials we are to “count it all joy” so that our faith can work patience in us and maturity (Jam. 1:2-4).

Joy, joy, joy! It is one of the great manifestations and fruits of the kingdom of God.

“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

While ministering this weekend many utterances were brought forth by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. This one has sat in the forefront of my heart since I heard it and still resonates in me.

The joy of the Lord accelerates Holy Ghost activity. Not only does the Lord fill us with joy, but He responds to joy. He responds to the laugh of faith. He responds to praise. He responds to rejoicing, especially in the midst of trials and persecution as Paul and Silas experienced in the prison (Acts 16:25).

When you sing, dance, and rejoice you loose God’s hand to move on your behalf. You accelerate divine activity in your life. So instead of grumbling and complaining at the next negative report you hear, or the hardship that life’s circumstances may throw at you, lift up your voice and make a choice to rejoice and watch God come on the scene.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

 

PRIVATE WORSHIP: DO YOU WORSHIP THE LORD ALONE?

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (Jn. 4;23).

One day a man asked the Lord this question: “What is it you desire, Lord? What is on Your heart?

The Lord responded: “I enjoy it when My people just like being with Me, not asking anything of Me, just enjoying Me, for it is then that we enter into true communion and fellowship. This is my great desire; fellowship – to be with My people, that My people would enjoy Me for just being Me. This is true worship.”

Worship is communion with God. It is not about how good you make statements about God sound, or how you try to structure worship into great theological speeches, but it is the amount of heart and soul you pour into your communion and adoration of God. And may I also add that true worship involves presenting your body to the Lord daily as a living sacrifice. It also involves not being conformed to this world but being transformed through the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:1-2). We make the mistake of confining worship only to singing and/or speaking forth our love and adoration of God. That is certainly a big part of it, but not all of it. You cannot worship in spirit and in truth with the same un-renewed mind and flesh-ruled body you had before you were born again.

True New Testament worship also includes a life of thanksgiving and rejoicing.

“Rejoice evermore…In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thes. 5:16, 18)

For too many believers, worship is about a feeling or a heightened emotion. Yes, there will often be feelings and emotions attached to true worship, of course, but what do you do when there are none? Don’t listen to teachings that tell you that just because you don’t feel His presence that He’s not there, or He’s not coming, or that you’ve sinned or are doing something wrong. That dryness that we sometimes experience is nothing more than spiritual change you’re going through. This spiritual change involves moving you from a place where your flesh has had the ascendency to your spirit now having ascendency.

What makes you think that just because you don’t feel anything that the Lord is not receiving your worship? This has nothing to do with whether you’ve broken through or not. In fact, some of the times you feel His presence less could be the times you’ve actually broken through more, because you’re dealing with things in your soul or flesh that kept you from it before.

As you spend more time in worship, the operation of the kingdom of God will be more real and more alive to you than the operation of your flesh or this world.

But here is one of the greatest verses on true spiritual worship, one that I’ve cited several times in past blogs.

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…” (Eph. 5:18-19)

This is actually a command for believers to be filled with the Spirit. How? By speaking or singing (Col. 3:16) Spirit-inspired utterances. When you are filled with the Spirit you overflow with joy, thanksgiving, and even dancing and laughter. Some people are quick to say that there is no dancing, or what some call holy laughter in the New Testament, but it is perfectly Scriptural because it is an outflow of being filled. Just as a drunk man does funny and peculiar things when he is drunk even so it is in the Spirit.

These verses tell us not to be drunk with wine but to be filled or drunk with the Spirit. In other words, the part of the person that is affected by too much alcohol is their physical senses. If you saw some alcoholics sober you would not recognize them. To cope with life’s problems they sedate their physical senses with alcohol so that the reality of their life and troubles never has to settle in.

Yet in the same way an alcoholic has to deal with life by numbing his senses to it, you and I can be filled with the Spirit in private worship so that we may obtain the same effect spiritually. God’s presence moving upon your spirit sedates you from the negative input of the world that’s contrary to the promises of God.

The more you worship God, the more the Holy Spirit will be able to permeate your spirit with His presence. The ripples from your spirit will permeate your soul, and the ripples from your soul will permeate your physical senses until His presence not only surrounds your whole being, but will also permeate the atmosphere around you until even other people will become aware of His presence. This is what some men of old I’ve read about carried. The atmosphere was affected wherever they walked.

Can you imagine what this would do to a worship leader’s anointing, or to the message of a preacher? Or to the home of a believer? Emotions that could easily be charged with torment and fear can instead be charged with God’s presence.

Whereas fasting deals directly with the physical man, worship submerges and baptizes your spirit into God’s presence and can suspend it there for hours at a time. Another great benefit is that it will bring you into a whole new level of mortification and cleanse you from things that have to do with love and a deeper walk with God. Such things as bitterness, unforgiveness, intimidations, and other issues that shorten a man’s life will start to die. When these things lose their hold on you it will also take you to new levels of health you never thought possible. Praise God!

Sadly, some Christians only worship God in a corporate setting. And even then, it is often with the help of external props that come with a talented singer and band, lights, fancy staging, and other high-tech boosters. My admonition to you is to start worshipping God alone in your home or wherever you are.

 

PUBLIC WORSHIP: IS IT BRASS OR GOLD? (Part 1)

Today there is much focus and attention given to public worship. In our Christian gatherings and services great emphasis is placed on having the right worship leader, the right band, great lighting, cool sound, trendy staging, etc. These things are discussed and rehashed by senior leaders/pastors and their staff to enhance the Sunday morning worship experience for the average parishioner or visitor.

This may come as a surprise to some, but I find very little mention of these things in Scripture. Now of course there is nothing wrong with any of these things in and of themselves, but I have found that external props can actually work in the reverse to detract from the real purpose of true worship – mainly to experience intimacy with the Lord and be touched by His tangible presence, as well as open the door for the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit.

We are quick to claim that these props are indeed to help create an atmosphere for the sole purpose of drawing people to God, but sometimes the focus is so much on the external and the performance of the worship leader and the band with all its external effects, that is has the ‘feel’ of a concert rather than true worship. It morphs people into spectators and actually hinders them from experiencing more of the presence of God that comes from worshipping out of their innermost beings? Have you ever noticed that the mouths of most people during praise and worship are no longer moving?

What is it that makes for “spirit and truth” worship? Is it the music? Is it all the outward glitter and white noise? Is it the lights and the fancy staging? What’s the difference between a rock concert atmosphere and a Christian worship service? Most believers would be quick to say that it’s the anointing or the presence of God that makes the difference. But what constitutes the anointing? Is it the words we sing? Is it the emotions we feel?

“Everyone knows what the freshness of the morning is when orient pearls abound on every blade of grass, but who can describe it, much less produce it of itself? Such is the mystery of spiritual anointing. We know, but we cannot tell to others what it is. It is as easy as it is foolish to counterfeit it.” – E.M. Bounds

I’ve met with small groups of people for prayer, worship, and fellowship without any worship band or music and at times have sensed far more of the presence of God than in larger corporate gatherings with a talented band and great music. Conversely, I’ve also observed the opposite. So it is not necessarily having a band or music or a lack thereof that makes the difference.

Really, it comes down to trust. Are we trusting the Holy Spirit to manifest His presence and power or are we trusting in the talents of our singers and musicians with all their external props? One cannot manufacture the anointing of God. Counterfeits are worthless. Yet the real is precious and priceless and so needful to edify the body of Christ.

Are we trusting in the wisdom of man or in the manifold wisdom of God?

Have we forgotten the character of the wisdom of God?

For it is written: “ ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;  and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:19-20, 26-29).

We know that in the above scriptures Paul is expounding on the foolishness of the preaching of the cross, but it is a marvelous expose of the hidden wisdom of God. The Corinthians were caught away with identifying themselves with various personalities in the church (v. 11-13; Paul, Apollos, and Cephas), but Paul brought them back to Christ and the cross. He is comparing the wisdom of the world to the wisdom of God. The wisdom of the world is man-centered, but the wisdom of God is Christ-centered. You say, “what does this have to do with worship?” Everything!

Much of our worship is man-centered entertainment. Yes, we are singing the right words but oftentimes the heart of true worship is totally missing.

There is a fine line here. Most spiritually minded people may recognize the difference between flesh and spirit, or between emotion and the real anointing of the Spirit. For instance, with the natural eye it’s real easy to tell the difference between silver and gold, but not so easy to discern between brass and gold. A casual observer would be fooled.

We’ve brought the spirit of the world into our corporate worship times and most Christians cannot even tell the difference. Why?

Because they don’t have a private life of worship and prayer. They are not acquainted with the real anointing of the Holy One.

Perhaps we will deal with that in our next blog.

 

RESTORING THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT TO OUR GENERATION

A Facebook friend of mine wrote me the following, concerning the Word and the Spirit that men of old carried:

“The men and women of old knew nothing of the extensiveness of error in the cotton candy gospel of today. They nipped it in the bud. They stated without apology that without holiness we won’t see the Lord. They knew scripture far better than today’s Bible professors. Sister Pauline Parham, the daughter-in-law of Charles Parham, told me in Dallas in the early 80s that the old preachers knew the Word far better than the new generation, and powerful moves of the Spirit not seen today were common.”– (Pauline Parham was Charles Parham’s daughter in law – Charles Parham [1883-1929] was the first preacher to articulate Pentecostalism’s distinctive doctrine of evidential tongues, and to expand the movement.)

Add to that the following prophecy given to F.F. Bosworth’s granddaughter:

“The ministers of your grandfather’s day lit a Pentecostal fire that swept the world in their generation, but that fire has now died down to where only ashes and embers are left. But I am going to use your grandfather’s recordings to breathe on these embers with the wind of My Spirit, and that fire will rekindle and sweep the world again in a new Pentecostal revival.”

We are facing a huge famine today of the true word of the Lord, sound doctrine, and the genuine move of the Holy Spirit.

Our gospel lacks substance. Our salvation message is man-centered and defective. The theme of repentance is clearly absent. Excessive teachings on self-improvement and self-esteem have malnourished us. Our silence on sin and the Law of God in combination with the extreme hyper-grace and hyper-prosperity message have crippled the Church.

Many are waking up and realizing there is something terribly wrong.

Not only are we weak in sound doctrine, but the Spirit’s demonstrations and power are so uncommon. Preachers are talking themselves and their audiences to death. Have we forgotten that “the kingdom of God is not in talk but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20)?

Yes, we will always need preaching and teaching – that is foundational, but the apostle Paul said that his “preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and power of God.” This doesn’t only mean that the demonstration of the Spirit and power of God will confirm the preaching of the Word itself, but that the preaching is also to be a demonstration and that our words are filled with fire and utterances from heaven.

Where is the fire of God and Spirit-inspired utterances in our preaching?

Before Oral Roberts’ departure to heaven he was stirred by a vision from the Lord and emphatically stated, “We’ve got to get back to preaching the cross with fire in our bellies!” Men of old and past giants of the faith knew something about this.

And where is the preaching of the cross?

The constant popular emphasis on making the gospel relevant to our culture is obnoxious and misguided because it is rooted in the error that modern people must be reached on a humanistic level of their self-interest – that they are otherwise incapable of patiently hearing the gospel before becoming offended by its demands for righteousness and holiness. We must defeat that kind of thinking by showing that the real gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” for all people, for all time.

A deluge of falsehood in both the Word and the Spirit are diluting the Church’s influence and long term fruit. Additionally, the cheap imitation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the gross superficial display of personal prophecy and prophetic ministry is keeping the Church hollow and empty. Forms and formulas, hype and heresy have robbed us of the true faith of our forefathers.

Concerning prophecy and prophetic ministry, what we’ve mostly witnessed has been visualizations and imaginings and just speaking whatever pops up in our heads, and calling it prophecy. In other more serious cases, ministers have given over to familiar spirits through performance.

Anything that brings attention to flesh and the greatness of man is not an utterance from the Spirit of God. How many times have you turned on Christian television and heard some version of the following from another one of the many false prophets?

“You are about to be blessed and favored. The Lord has shown me that you are about to be wealthy beyond your dreams. You do not realize how much Daddy loves you and wants to bless you.” So many other such prophecies being touted from our nation’s pulpits through the air waves are sickeningly similar. Still others are utterly meaningless, high probability predictions.

There is a cry for the genuine gospel and the real power and demonstration of the Spirit. Many younger ministers and those of my generation who are not as young are waking up to it and realizing that what they are doing is not working. Something is missing.

“Everywhere I go, and I mean everywhere – in Europe and Africa, younger ministers are approaching me and saying, ‘This stuff we’re preaching just does not work. Tell us something that works. Tell us about how to get ahold of the old-time power your father and mother walked in’.” – Dr. Ladonna Osborn, T.L. Osborn’s daughter

The principles and power that men of old walked in are fading from this generation. One of the problems we have is the lack of wisdom to blend the old and the new.

Let us read this Scripture carefully in these two versions:

“Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things that are new and fresh and things that are old and familiar” (Mt. 13:52 – Amp.).

Then He added, “Those experts in Jewish law who are now my disciples have double treasures–from the Old Testament as well as from the New” (Mt. 13:52 – TLB)!

One of the things Jesus is saying here is that knowledge of the Old Testament provides insight into Jesus’ new message of the kingdom of God. In the same way, knowledge of what the past giants of the faith taught and practiced needs to be blended with what God is doing and saying today. The wise scribe or householder will build on each truth that is revealed.

Excesses, extremes, and abuses will surely be manifest, but we must learn to garner the wheat into our spiritual storehouses and burn up the chaff. As one wise old man used to say, “Have the sense of an old cow – eat the hay and leave the sticks.” We cannot afford to throw out the baby with the dirty bath water. This is another area where many believers miss it. For example, there are great truths on tongues and the operations of the Holy Spirit, on finances, on our authority as believers, and on faith and healing that have come to us in this generation, but because of some excesses and extremes people throw everything out. Don’t do that.

Recognizing the difference between the wheat and the chaff is the key. Being exposed to the wheat is vital in making the distinction. Just as bank tellers learn to distinguish counterfeit bills from the real by being familiar with the real, so it is with the things of the Spirit.

Blend the old with the new and have a balance of the true Word and the Spirit.

WHAT MATTERS MOST

Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, “We can’t keep some Christians from going to church. We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can’t keep them from conservative values. But we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.

“So let them go to church. Let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time so they can’t gain that experience in Christ. This is what I want to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!

“How shall we do this?” shouted his angels.

“Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered.

“Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then, borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work and the husbands to work 6 or 7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work.

“Over stimulate their minds so they cannot hear that still small voice. Entice them to play the radio or CD player whenever they drive, to keep the television, the VCR, and their CD’s going constantly in their homes. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ.

“Fill their coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogues, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering, free products, services, and false hopes.

“Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted, and unprepared for the coming week. Don’t let them go out in nature. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts, and movies instead. And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions.

“Let them be involved in soul-winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes that they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family unity for the good of the cause.”

It was quite a convention in the end. And the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments, causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy, and rush here and there.

Has the devil been successful? You be the judge.

All of us, no matter what our service to the Lord may be, must continually watch over our hearts’ affections for Jesus. I read recently about a very well-known minister. He has been all over the world and has personally prayed with over two million people to receive Jesus. His ministry is marked by great signs and wonders. He has seen the dead raised, the lame walk, the deaf hear, and the blind see. Early in his life with the Lord, he had such a sweet relationship with Him that God’s abiding presence was upon him day and night for eleven years.

But recently, in tears, he said that in the last few years he had gotten so busy with ministry that he had left that first love he once had for Jesus. Somewhere along the way, he had lost that passion for Him. He was still fervent about winning souls. He was still committed to the call of God on his life; yet he had been drawn away from Jesus Himself.

He hadn’t realized it until a few months ago when he went to conduct some meetings in another country. There he found the Christians aglow with that abiding presence of God. Their faces shone with joy and love for the Lord. When they worshiped the Lord, this minister just wept and wept because he recognized in these people the very thing he once had but lost.

You say, “How can this happen to us?” I don’t have all the answers, but I know one thing—the heart is a very vulnerable place. It needs to be guarded constantly. And the older you grow and the higher you go in your call, the more this is so. Keeping your heart is the biggest job you’ll ever have in life (Pr. 4:23).

I know two things about everyone’s life and future. If Jesus tarries, both of them will surely come to pass. One day you will die. And one day you will stand before God. You will only be known by your supreme love for Jesus.

Nothing else will matter then. Nothing else should matter now.