BEWARE OF FALSE EMPTY NEW YEAR PROPHECIES AND THE SATANIC NATURE OF THE AMERICAN GOSPEL

I’ve written a book about it (The Real Gospel). I’ve written numerous articles on it. To me, it is the greatest spiritual American tragedy that I must put you in remembrance of again lest it drift from you and slip from your mind.

There is a gross revision of the gospel being spewed from preachers’ mouths today in our nation that is so far beneath the mind of Christ and the way of His kingdom.

We live in a day when popular church culture is being shaped by a cacophony of strange voices all vying for our loyalty – from America’s most popular television preachers and mega-church pastors toning down on the moral demands of the gospel to many professing Christian athletes and celebrities who unworthily and irreverently refer to God as the “supreme power” and “man upstairs”, and whose faith is more often than not detached from their lifestyles. The height of their knowledge of God and that of many American Christians seems to be that He reigns in heaven for their own personal happiness and the fulfillment of their own dreams and careers.

I swear the next time I see an athlete beat their chest and point to the sky and declare how their deceased loved ones are watching him play and going crazy over the touchdown they just scored or home run they hit in their honor I am going to scream!

“God and your deceased loved ones are not watching you play sport and cheering for you to score! They are not honored by your self-adulation and misplaced zeal for things you are ignorant of. Your loved ones are now in eternity and they are only interested in having eternity stamped in earthly men’s hearts and seeing them convicted of their sins, gloriously saved, and truly living for the Lord Jesus Christ. If they could live again they would scream that to you, too!

“Your view and perspective of the kingdom of God is so carnal and skewed and most unworthy of Jesus’ holy sacrifice. You are like a pig stomping around in the king’s palace. You need your stinking thinking renewed and elevated to a higher order. If you are really a Christian and want to use your God-given talents to glorify Christ, then use the platform He has given you to be a living witness of the real gospel. Then you will see what it means to suffer even a little for the Savior you claim to follow. That’s also when you’ll find out if you’re living for your fan’s applause or the Master’s approval.

“If you’re really as tough as you seem to be on the football field or wherever you display your talents, and you sincerely seek to please God and honor those who’ve gone on into eternity, instead of pleasing and appeasing your fan base, why not preach the gospel? Instead of saying “God this”, and “God that”, why not be radical and say “Jesus this” and “Jesus that”? It’s the Name of Jesus that scares demons and induces persecution. You will not glorify God until you can at least identify in a simple clear way with His Son.”

I know, I know, I’m ranting now.

The problem with many of these professional athletes and professing Christian celebrities is they have no solid mentors in their lives. They model their lives after famous hipster rappers or sissified celebrity pastors who appear cool and hip and preach a fashionable perversion of faith, but don’t live holy and can hardly make any demon tremble.

The modern gospel proclaimed today differs from the gospel that was preached just one half century ago in that man and not Jesus Christ is the center of it. Today’s American gospel elevates the fulfillment of self and the promotion of one’s passion for pleasure and fame. It is a gospel that has been stripped of its more challenging demands, its sufferings and sacrifice, to a comfortable, customized, and carnal version that none of the early apostles and believers would’ve recognized.

What popular church culture needs to understand is that the doorway to the life that Jesus offers us is death. Our gospel bids us to come and die to sin, the flesh, and the world. Jesus did not just die to forgive your sins. He died to purchase you and own you! (2 Cor. 5:15) The only gospel that is worthy of the reward of Christ’s sacrifice is the one that is detached from the deification of man and attached to the death of him.

Jesus taught Peter this lesson.

“But Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him, Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way [an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me]; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men” (Mt. 16:23).

Peter rebuked Jesus for saying that He would suffer and be killed. Jesus recognized this rebuke as being of a Satanic nature. This is one compelling example of Jesus guarding His death more than He did His life. In a word, this is the way of the cross, which every true Christian is called to bear and every minister to exemplify (Mt. 16:24-25).

The cross-less gospel is the greatest lack in Christianity today and the reason for many of the church’s failures and the biggest reason why it is becoming increasingly difficult in many places of the world to tell the difference between a real Christian and non-Christian. It is also the most common place where men are duped into thinking that there can be a shortcut to revival and the power and glory of God.

“The way into glory is through the flesh being torn away from the world and separated unto God.” — Smith Wigglesworth

The major cause for failure in ministry today for those who profess Christ’s Name is the same – not knowing the true nature and quality of God. Unless we understand and know the nature of the gospel and of our God, we will continually sacrifice His life on the altar of convenience and serve God on our own terms. It is those men like Wigglesworth in every generation who have risen above this pretense and lived out the real gospel that have changed the world.

Until the American Church gets back to that, no real and lasting change is forthcoming. You can listen to all the New Year prophecies that speak of what a great year this next one is going to be for the church and how you will prosper and be favored. You can listen to empty promises and predictions of the how the glory and power of God will be made manifest – how this will be the year of revival and awakening – even how the next president will lead the nation back to God (those prophecies have already started).

I believe God’s promises are true, and I am all for instilling hope in people, but sometimes the best thing the church can hear are the warnings, rebukes, and roadblocks of what is actually hindering His promises from coming to pass.

There is a new gospel and new prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing, running through the land. They speak peace to all those who have itching ears for something new and exotic and they cause them to trust in a lie, and subtly supplant within their hearts rebellion against the Lord (Jer. 28:15-16). But the word I hear remains the same year after year.

Return to the gospel. Return to the traditions of your forefathers. Get back to the cross. Get back to the blood. Get back to holiness and repentance. Get thrilled with the Word and the basics of our faith. Get thrilled with soul winning. Get excited about making disciples. Until the basics of our faith come alive in our hearts we are dead and need reviving. If these things are not appealing to you and do not bring you joy then you are in need of repentance.

Another word that leaves us in our deadness and full of ourselves is not a word from God. Beware of false empty New Year prophecies and promises. Beware of the Satanic nature of another gospel. It’s a Trojan horse intended to undermine our faith and keep us trapped and powerless in our anemic version of Christianity.

2016: THE YEAR THE MORTAL ENEMY OF PREVAILING OPINION WILL NO LONGER MUTE US

Some months ago I heard that People magazine had named actress Sandra Bullock the world’s most beautiful woman of 2015. I wonder what the criterion was for that honor and distinction. Out of the billions of women in this world People magazine somehow determined that Bullock was the most beautiful. I don’t have anything personal toward Sandra Bullock, but isn’t that a bit arrogant for People magazine to make that distinction? Did they consider every single woman in the world?

It is just a formulated opinion that they made, isn’t it? And like so many opinions today it is a personal, stereo-typed, biased-based, often twisted, and seen through a lens of one’s own experience. If Sandra was homely I doubt she would’ve got the vote. To most us who have loftier values, physical beauty would not be at the top of the list of life’s most important attributes. My Bible tells me that beauty is vain.

And then there’s the case of transgender Bruce, I mean, Caitlin Jenner who won some kind of award for most courageous or heroic. Among many of our brave soldiers, veterans, firemen, policemen and others who lay their lives on the line each and every day Jenner received this award – proving once more how warped our value system is.

Read this historical recording from the Bible about the opinion of the enemies of Jesus (the most important man to ever walk the face of the earth).

“Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men” (Mt. 22:15-16).

Interesting that someone’s enemies would still share this type of opinion about Jesus:

1. You are true
2. You teach the way of God truthfully
3. You do not care about anyone’s opinion
4. You are not swayed by appearances

Wow, these are some powerful credentials! This creates a water mark for all Christians to measure themselves by.

So whose opinion really matters – the general populace or God’s?

Jesus was true. He taught the way of God truthfully. He did not care about anyone’s opinion. He was not swayed by appearances.

Men are writing books today that teach repentance is no longer needed, hell doesn’t exist, and gay marriage is a part of God’s plan. Churches are opening their doors to seducing doctrines of demons.

Our land is filled with thousands, yes, you heard me right, thousands of false prophets who tell you how wonderful you are and how Daddy God will make you rich and help all your dreams come true.

We have our popular church growth conferences that tell you things like: “If you want growth you have to tone down on tongues and the Holy Spirit, shorten and liven up your services with contemporary songs, and for heaven’s sake, don’t preach against sin or tell people how their lives are wrong. Just tell the people about God’s love. Do these things and prepare for growth by enlarging your sanctuary”.

Interesting they didn’t tell the early disciples that. On the day of Pentecost 3,000 people were saved and they continued in the faith (Acts 2:41-42). A short time later, another 5,000 were added (Acts 4). Funny how they still didn’t have a sanctuary. Everything they heard was exactly opposite of the instructions I just listed and what many are hearing today.

Interesting they didn’t tell John the Baptist that when multitudes showed up in the wilderness to hear him preach.

The problem is we listen to the opinions of our popular elevated teachers who have big crowds and large buildings and sound so eloquent with their cute and clever phrases, but honestly, much of what they say is the wisdom of men. Too many professing Christians put their confidence in the wisdom of such men.

Listen to what the Holy Spirit said through the apostle Paul:

“And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom [using clever rhetoric], but [they were delivered] in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit [operating through me] and of [His] power [stirring the minds of the listeners and persuading them], so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom and rhetoric of men, but on the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4-5 – Amp).

Dear friends, much of our Christianity is off target today. Our confidence is in the wisdom of men and not the power of God – the reason being that the power is not being demonstrated and a great void exists in the heart of this next generation.

Let us bury popular prevailing opinion that has seduced so much of the Church and made us powerless. Let us go back to the Bible and prayer.

Fellow ministers, let us preach what the Bible says unapologetically, and live as Jesus intended for us to live. Cast off those voices who would tell you that you are too harsh, too judgmental, and too condemning. Don’t let the barking dogs mute your voice.

If every preacher and professing Christian did that, it would be enough for a nation sweeping revival in our land. May it begin in 2016.

LACK OF CONSECRATION LIMITING ANGELIC MINISTRY TO BELIEVERS

“The curse causeless will not come” (Pr. 26:2).

“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:30-31).

I say this with pain in my heart, but too many believers are sickly, die prematurely, are involved in tragic accidents, and suffer great calamities, often to the point of the destruction of their own homes and families. Our hearts are made heavy at such times when we discover that some of these bad things happen to good Christian people. The Bible also shares many examples, both positive and negative, which are full of wisdom and tell both sides of the story – the successes and the failures in people’s lives. We are to learn from both examples.

The problem today is that many ministers are only telling the success side of things. They tell you what God will do for you through His goodness and grace regardless of how you live and your level of character, obedience, and consecration.

Lack of consecration can greatly limit angelic ministry to the heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14). For example, the angels are encamped around about those who fear the Lord to keep them in all their ways (Ps. 34:7). This scripture is conditional. Walking in the fear of the Lord is the condition believers must meet to ensure angelic protection for their lives. The manifestation of the fear of the Lord is obedience.

Not only to angels minister protection, but they are also called to minister provision for the believer. When believers are not consecrated, they move outside of God’s path and God’s plan for their lives thus hindering the angels from moving on their behalf. Angels will minister very little provision to those who are not endeavoring to follow God’s plan for their lives.

We tend to forget about those angels. They are mighty. They excel in strength and hearken to the voice of God’s Word (103:20). They are sent by the Lord to minister to us, but very often our lack of consecration limits them.

Notice how angels ministered to Jesus after He overcame the temptations of Satan in the wilderness (Mat 4:11). Every time Jesus was tempted He spoke the Word of God. That’s what the angels hearken to. But what we fail to often see about these verses is the consecration that Jesus made at the beginning of His ministry. He spent 40 days and nights in prayer and fasting and overcame every temptation the devil threw at Him. The angels then came and ministered to Him.

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him” (Mat 4:10-11).

That word ‘minister’ generally means to do anyone a service and care for someone’s needs. Here’s something we may not have seen before. Angels are not only committed to the Lord and His Word. They are committed to those who speak His Word and obey it. In a certain sense angels are drawn to a believer’s consecration and their surrender to the Lord’s will.

Notice another example of how angels ministered to Jesus at the end of His ministry in the garden of Gethsemane as Jesus battled to fulfill and complete our redemption. Once again we know what a difficult trial this was for Jesus. In the garden He prayed the same prayer of consecration three times as Matthew records it, and so intense was the struggle that Jesus sweat great drops of blood (Mt. 26:44). We see here one more time the correlation between the angels and the consecration Jesus made. Angels honor the word of the Lord and they are activated by a believer’s consecration and surrender.

“Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him” (Luke 22:43).

Not only do angels minister protection and strength to us, but they minister preparation and provision for us also in many different areas. A minister received the following vision from the Lord that wonderfully illustrates this and agrees with scripture.

THIS VISION TELLS THE WHOLE STORY

The vision was about a young mother with two small children whose husband had left her. At this time she was without a job, her car was broke down, she had no money to provide day care for her children, and she was living with her parents and complaining to the Lord about the lack of provision in her life. The Lord then showed this minister two pathways into this woman’s future symbolized by two assembly lines. The first pathway was all lit up and showed angels darting in and out while others stood on the side arranging things. This represented the perfect will of God for her life for the next two years. All the provision the woman had been praying for and needed had already been commanded by the Lord and prepared by the angels.

The other pathway was not lit up very well and there were only one or two angels on it looking rather inactive. This was the path the woman was currently on which was outside the will of God.

The woman was facing some decisions in her life that required growth and character and a stronger consecration and obedience from her. But she was emotionally unwilling to surrender and do what was right. She was looking for answers but in the wrong place. For example, she was in her parents’ church instead of another church that the Lord was leading her to. In that other church God had commanded three different people to bless this woman. One was to fix her car, one was to give her a job as a receptionist, and the other was to babysit her children. All this provision had been prepared by the angels for her to walk in, but due to her disobedience she was not receiving it.

Remember the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16). The Lord had commanded this widow to sustain Elijah, but when he arrived there the lady was preparing what she thought was her last meal, unaware that a miraculous provision had been commanded from heaven. Both her obedience and Elijah’s obedience to the word of the Lord manifested the provision.

Angels are sent by the Lord to make preparations for our provision, but we’ve got to stay consecrated to the will and the plan of God to receive it. Angels have no authority to change God’s plans nor to give people slack or forgive their disobedience. They are simply sent to do a job and they have no emotional attachment to people.

ANGELS WORK WITHIN THE LORD’S TIMETABLE

When my family and I moved from Florida to New England years ago I was conscious of the Lord’s timing and provision. Our house in Florida had been on the market for a number of months and hardly anyone was even looking at it, much less interested in purchasing it. Suddenly the second person that viewed the home purchased it, and we made a trip to New England and found a new home to purchase there within 3 days. Things had been so slow to develop up until that point, but then they happened so quickly.

I’m convinced that the angels had a definite timetable they were working with. We wanted to be in New England by the spring but the angels had prepared for late summer. It didn’t matter how much we spoke the Word or believed God for our home to sell at a certain time. The angels have no liberty to change God’s plans or timetable. Often we push things and try to force something to happen outside of the timing of the Lord. Part of our consecration is not only to God’s plans but His timing also.

I could list a number of other examples from my own personal life where my obedience accelerated provision and where my disobedience to God’s plans or timing caused delays. Let’s judge ourselves in these areas of consecration.

Are you walking in love toward others, especially your family and members of the body of Christ? Is there any un-forgiveness in your heart toward anyone? Do you want others to succeed as much as you want to succeed? Are you free of pride and selfish motives? Why do you want God’s blessings? Why do you want financial peace and independence? Are your motives worthy of God’s favor? Are you consecrated to the will and plan of God for your life whatever that may be? Are things in order in your heart?

FEED YOUR SPIRIT!

There are days when I am on social media and will take some time to read interesting articles on what is happening in the world and in the church today. As a writer and a blogger it is a part of what I do to stay current. Lately, though, with all the negativity in the press and in the church world, as well as the opinions of so many people, I’ve noticed a restlessness in me.

On the one hand, from an intellectual standpoint my mind seems to be satisfied in the knowledge it is accumulating, but on the other hand, as I look within and check my spirit it feels slighted and cheated. The fact is that many Christians go along like this for days and weeks, and some for a lifetime, not fully realizing how drained their spiritual lives have become.

There are too many things going on in the world that are totally unedifying and even depressing. If you focus too much on those things you will subtly start absorbing some of the hopelessness and despair that’s in the world. And eventually you will get depressed. If you focus on what’s wrong with your own life you will get depressed. Fear and doubt will begin to cloud your mind. You will have the feeling of walking around in a fog. Your thinking will lose its sharpness and clarity.

You see, everything around us in this natural world is trying to pull us back to a walk that is dictated by human knowledge, reasoning and logic, and intellectual prowess. Many times everything in our home life and personal affairs will produce the same effect. It is so easy to live life on such a natural plane instead of in the Spirit. It’s so easy to slip into walking only by sight and not by faith. If you’re not careful even the church you attend will take faith out of you instead of putting faith into you.

Please take time to feed your spirit and to feed your faith on the Word of God and with what God says. Allow your spirit the privilege of having true fellowship with the Lord. Let the strength of your spirit supply strength into your mind where decisions are made.

Get out of the natural. Get in the Spirit. Get your eyes off man and what man is doing and saying, and get your eyes on the Lord and what He is doing and saying. As soon as you do you will note the difference. Discouragement will dissipate and disappear. Edification will come. Peace will settle into you. Joy will spring up from within. Victory will be seen.

As one radio and television voice use to say, “feed your faith and starve your doubts to death”.

Be encouraged today and shout unto God with a voice of triumph!

MY FIRST BIG STEP IN THE LIFE OF FAITH

I’ve been thinking this week about my personal journey of faith.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).

Without faith we cannot please God. Without faith there is no agreement with heaven. Without faith we can’t be saved. Without faith we can’t receive answers to prayer and the blessings of God in our lives. Without faith there is no activation of God’s power (Mk. 5:30, 34).We are called to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). We cannot walk in the Spirit without walking in faith.

The sum whole of our lives is faith. It’s so easy to forget that and live our lives purely on a natural level. It reminded me of the simple faith I began to walk in early in my Christian life.

Shortly after I was born again I had a strong desire to learn the Bible. Knowing of my desire, the precious brother who led me to the Lord wrote me a letter informing me of a place he called a “Heaven-Studded School” – one he thought would be a great place for me to receive training. When he wrote the words of the school in big capital letters – RHEMA BIBLE TRAINING CENTER my heart leapt within me. I knew that is where I was to go.

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma? Besides a trip to Canada the only other part of North America I had been to and lived was New England. I had no clue about Broken Arrow. To my ears it sounded like a wild western town with dirt roads, cow pastures, and tepees where the Indians lived, but it sounded so cool and exciting to me.

I was still single and ready for an adventure in the Lord so I started making plans to move. I didn’t know one soul in Oklahoma, much less Broken Arrow. I didn’t have a reliable car that could drive me that far. So I did the next best thing and purchased a bus ticket from Providence R.I. to Tulsa, Oklahoma. I packed up all my belongings, which consisted of mainly clothes and some miscellaneous items in 5 suitcases, and off I went.

I remember it like it was yesterday. My parents and brother who were all devoutly Catholic at the time, and wondered whether I was following a cult, went to see me off at the bus station. I remember how sullen and downcast my parents’ countenances were. They were very concerned about me and just didn’t understand. I smiled and waved good-bye to them from the bus window, but as soon as I was out of sight I began to weep almost uncontrollably for their spiritual condition and lack of understanding.

After about 40 hours of bus travel the bus pulled into Tulsa. It was a very hot early August morning and I had no idea where or what I was going to do upon arrival. I had no wheels, knew not a soul, and had no contacts or a place to go. Not even a referral. But I did have some cash I saved up from working two jobs, so I thought it would be in my best interests to try and find an adequate car to buy.

I walked to two or three dealerships in Tulsa and shopped around until I found a  car I could afford. It was a big bright red 1970 Catalina with a dented side door and a cracked windshield. But it ran pretty good (smile).

From that dealership I drove off to find Broken Arrow and Rhema Bible Training Center. It was still the afternoon on a weekday, so I thought there might be activity on the campus. When I finally saw the campus that I had only seen in their ministry magazine I was so thrilled and excited. I knew there would be someone who could direct me and perhaps help me find a place to stay.

Healing school was just getting out and I met a young man in the parking lot who led me to his apartment complex. There was an opening for a roommate there. Very shortly thereafter my new roommate got me a job working in the same fast food restaurant he worked at, and the rest is history. The Lord ordered my steps and my faith found a new home.

When I reflected on those early days of my Christian life I realized the simple but vibrant faith I was walking in. Some people would say that moving halfway across the country without any prior arrangements being made for a car, housing, and a job is illogical and foolish, but there was a force called faith working in a young man’s heart. God honored it and blessed me.

Those two years at Rhema were two of the best years of my life. I was grounded in the living Word of God and was launched into my calling and ministry of now 30 plus years. If I had never acted on simple faith my life would be much different today.

Check up on your life. Are you walking strictly by what the natural circumstances are dictating to you? Are you walking only by what you see and feel? What are you believing God for? What has He told you to do? Do the words of your mouth line up with what you are believing for? What areas of your life have you stopped applying your faith?

God is faithful. There is something about the Lord that responds to faith. He will overlook a million people to get to the one who is truly standing and walking in faith. When you start moving in faith it sets God’s plan in motion in your life and activates His power and blessing.

A HOLY SPIRIT INSPIRED UTTERANCE: WHERE THE SPIRIT IS MOVING TODAY

Here is a word from the Lord that a minister friend of mine received in a visitation. My spirit bears witness with its accuracy. I submit it to you for prayer, reflection, and meditation and how this fits into your own situation. May Jesus Christ be glorified in His Church.

“Do not look at the TV and larger media ministries to try to understand what I am doing in my body today. They have a part to play, but they are the visible to the eye veneer of the body that people see. Those who are carnal and immature see the outward appearance and are impressed, thinking that these are the height of ministry and where the Spirit is concentrating today. But they are mistaken.

See what I see, many small churches and ministries investing in relationships, walking in love, pouring their lives into each other; this is where the Spirit is moving today. There is a revolution taking place in my body, a revolution of relationships, discipleship, and love. This will affect whole communities and economies.

See what I see, many churches all over the world in which people are accountable to one another, working through conflicts, walking in love, and growing as my disciples. That is where my Spirit is moving today.

Many are running to and fro asking, ‘Where is the next move; what is the next season of the Spirit?’ And I say to you that it is under their very noses. They stumble at the supernatural work in their midst and refuse to humble themselves and be taught because they seek the sensational and that which appeals to the outward man. They fail to recognize the true move of God because it must be spiritually discerned.” — John Fenn

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR HEART AND BE LED BY THE SPIRIT

It was lunch time. He was hungry. But instead of eating he went up on the housetop to pray. Why? Because he had a burden. Those who know of this account in Acts 10, know we are speaking of the apostle Peter.

“The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry” (Acts 10:9).

As Peter began praying he fell into a trance and received a marvelous vision of the purposes of God to open the door of the gospel to the Gentile world. This vision changed the course and the entire landscape of Christianity in the early Church and beyond. What if Peter had not been paying attention to his heart? What if he had not taken time to pull aside and wait on the Lord? He would’ve missed the plan of God and probably not received the messengers that Cornelius sent who were on their way to the house.

Peter paid attention to what was going on in his heart. He pulled away from the distraction of food and eating and the Spirit of God met him. What a great lesson we can learn from this! Often the Lord is trying to get our attention but we are distracted by too many things. All the time He is endeavoring to speak to us, to lead us, and to impart some needed wisdom to us, but we are too busy to stop, wait, and listen.

Then when bad things happen to us, or we experience the awful consequences of poor decision making, or we make a false step, we blame God. But all the time God was trying to alert us and secure our attention, but our minds were on other things.

God’s Spirit works with the one whose mind is set on Him (Is. 26:3). He who searches the heart knows what is the mind of the Spirit (Rom. 8:27). We must learn to use our minds to pay attention and search out the activity in our hearts. That’s what Peter did.

We live in two worlds – the physical and the spiritual world. The Lord wants to train our physical senses to perceive what is happening in our spirits. While processing physical information we need to learn to perceive what is going on spiritually in us and around us. Jesus did this in His earthly walk.

But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me” (Lk. 8:46).

When the crowd was thronging Jesus and pressing against Him He perceived that virtue or power had gone out of Him (Lk. 8:46). The woman with the issue of blood touched Him with her faith and He knew it. Jesus was receiving information with His physical senses while keeping His mind on what was going on spiritually.

The apostle Paul did this.

“And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: the same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked” (Acts 14:8-10).

While Paul was speaking to a crowd and very aware of his physical surroundings his eyes became fixated on this crippled man. He was sensitive to his spirit and perceived this man had faith to be healed, and he commanded him to rise to his feet. The man was healed and leaped and walked.

Here is another excellent example of Paul paying attention to his heart and the activity in his spirit.

“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16:6-9).

After being forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the gospel in two different places Paul was searching for direction of where to go. His mind was on the Lord scanning His heart for direction. A vision containing direction from the Lord was given to him and off he went.

Visions and direction are often given in prayer. Many times any vision or direction you receive has to do with the gospel, with people, and advancing the kingdom of God. If you are engaged in God’s purposes He will include you in His plan. But if your mind is constantly on the world and other things you will disqualify yourself from receiving guidance, wisdom, and direction.

Here is a Holy Spirit inspired utterance given to my wife and I recently in prayer that speaks to the heart of this matter.

“Who’s in front of you? Who’s in your life? Pay attention to the heart of God for them. So much is missed because we’re not sensitive and paying attention. For if you look at them and you see them in the condition they are so much will be missed.

People who are caught up in the logistics of a meeting or the routine of life miss opportunities multiple times every day to touch a life. Look into the heart of God for a person because the Lord has never had a negative thought toward anyone. See them through the finished work of the cross like the Lord does.”

Let me bring this down to a very practical level because while looking for the spectacular we so often miss the supernatural that is there all along. We look for the lightning, we listen for the thunder, but we miss the still, small voice in our hearts, which is really the  voice of our own conscience.

When we lived in Florida I remember a neighbor’s dog kept coming in our yard and doing his duty. I’m not going to lie to you, I was outraged every time he did this. I had vengeful imaginations of taking the dog’s poop and plastering it on the man’s front walkway, or house, or even the front door. While being aware of all this physical activity that was irritating me my thoughts began paying more attention to the activity of my heart. The love of God was constraining me (1 Cor. 5:14) and softening my heart.

These neighbors were not saved. God’s purpose for every human being is first and foremost salvation. If I followed my vengeful imaginations I would’ve ruined my witness for Christ and disqualified myself from being a candidate in bringing my neighbors to salvation. My poor witness could also turn these neighbors off permanently to Christianity. Thank God I refrained from my carnal imaginations and maintained kindness to my neighbor. We did later put up a fence, though (smile).

Think of the opportunities we miss to be a witness for the Lord and to touch lives all around us because we see something about them that irritates us or rubs us the wrong way. But there is always a root to why people are the way they are  and behave the way they do.

First of all, they are bound by a sinful nature and are powerless against sin. They cuss, they drink, they smoke, and are involved in promiscuous sex and shady business deals because their nature is all wrong. Their greatest need is to be born again.

Secondly, people have major problems, messes, and are carrying heavy physical and emotional baggage in their lives, that in most cases, stems all the way back to their childhood. There is a lot of dysfunction in our society today and we must be moved toward people by the love of God that has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Rom. 5:5).

If you learn to follow the love of God He will share His wisdom with you in every situation because you will be on His wavelength. God’s wavelength is love. God’s love is not selfish. Why would God share His wisdom with a selfish person?

Let us train our minds to be in a continual search mode shifting our attention between the natural and the spiritual world, between what our physical senses tell us and the activity in our spirits. Then, by reason of use or exercise, we will have stronger discernment to know good and evil and the ways of the Lord.

“For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:13-14).

 

PROPHETS OR FORTUNE TELLERS: IT’S ABOUT TIME WE LEARN THE DIFFERENCE

There is a growing false prophetic movement in this country that must be addressed and confronted. Unsound doctrine and counterfeit prophecy are diluting the manifestation of God’s presence and power and polluting the landscape of Christianity today.

“Son of man, prophesy against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Say to them, ‘Listen to the word of the LORD” (Ez. 13:2 – NLT).

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they run around claiming to speak for me. I have given them no message, yet they go on prophesying. If they had stood before me and listened to me they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds” (Jer. 23:21-22 – NLT).

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1).

While I do believe in the valid ministry of the prophet and have been a personal beneficiary of such ministry, I have also been increasingly alarmed at what passes for true prophetic ministry today.

Here is a typical word of what passes for prophecy today.

“I have called you to a high calling, says the Lord, and I will lift you up to a place of great glory, and money will no longer be a problem for you for I will move on people’s hearts who will contribute to your own wealth. You will no longer minister in small circles, but soon television will open up new arenas to you, and your ministry will be greatly sought after. In that day you will know the favor of your Daddy God and He will increase you more and more.”

Have you heard of a similar word in today’s marketplace of Christianity? A word like that is clearly carnal, man-exalting, and flesh pleasing. It feeds pride, covetousness, and the inordinate affection for recognition and influence that are in people’s hearts. It is the basest form of idolatry.

Examples of such prophecies are numerous in this day, and sadly, the norm. Usually they will address one of three areas in a person’s life: Ministry, money, or marriage. They will speak to a person’s discontentment and need for recognition and promotion or their strong desire to be blessed and happy through possessing the riches and comforts of this life.

Now compare that prophecy to this one.

“I am going to prepare you for the coming days by a hard path that will cause many to cry out continually unto Me. For when the going is easy men do not seek Me, but rejoice in a temporary blessing. And when that blessing is removed they so often turn this way and that way but do not come to Me. I am showing you these things in order that you may seek Me continually and with great diligence. As you seek Me I will open up truths to you that you have not seen before, and these very truths will be such that will enable you to stand in these last days. As you are persecuted, reviled and rejected by your brethren then you will turn unto Me with all your heart and seek Me for that spiritual life that you need.”

This one speaks of the trials that are part of our Christian walk and grants hope of the sustaining spiritual life of the Lord as we seek Him.

The former example speaks of ease, comfort, and the presumed blessing of great ministry and financial prosperity. Due to the abundance of counterfeit prophecies in this day you hardly hear the latter kind any more.

I wouldn’t pay a nickel for that first word. There is nothing in it.

It is not that the Lord is opposed to His people being blessed and happy, but such prophecies are dangerous when they feed impure motives already resident in the heart. The true prophetic should direct people’s hearts toward God and not our own selfish and soulish desires.

Do you know how many desperate single women have been prophesied to about a future coming husband who never came? Many of them grew bitter with time and their wounds led them into severe depression. Evil spirits attached to such words of divination hang around them for years.

I know of young men who went into the ministry because of a prophecy and it wasted years of their lives and nearly ruined them. Others abruptly changed the course of their previous plans to pursue a prophetic word that pointed them in a different direction. These types of prophecies are like fortune telling that cause great damage to the body of Christ and pollute the land.

Here are three basic differences between the real and the counterfeit prophecies that will help you discern:

1. The counterfeit is man centered and brings excessive attention to the recognition and greatness of man. The real reveals the true heart of God and directs our hearts toward Him.

2. The counterfeit feeds the idolatry in our hearts, which is covetousness (Col. 3:5), and feeds our carnal desires for selfish gain and a satisfaction that’s unattached to God’s will and heart for us. Real prophecy will offer hope and encouragement during hardship but often with an exhortation toward humility and praise, or a warning to guard against the selfish motives and the lack of character in our hearts.

3. The counterfeit will drift from the pure written Word with a mixture of flesh/soul, with some spirit added in. But the real will contain within it a solid Scriptural foundation that acts as a sword dividing the flesh/soul from the spirit, or our own desires from God’s will.

The root of most prophetic abuses is the covetousness in the hearts of both the giver and recipient of such. False prophets can easily get over into a performance mode that even familiar spirits will accommodate. Familiar spirits know things about people and possess knowledge of their past and present. Some prophecies can also be accurate because those prophets may have a genuine gift but are operating with wrong motives.

Be very careful.

People’s love for power will cause them to pursue it more than purity, thus defiling their own hearts. False prophets are like fortune tellers that lead people into deeper idolatry.

We must understand that if there is idolatry already in someone’s heart it will only be strengthened by the dainty prophecies that appeal to their flesh and to their pride. That was the problem in Israel when the majority of the prophets were speaking peace and prosperity and victory, but the Lord saw the idolatry and wanted His people to turn from it.

Any prophecy that feeds our carnal and fleshly motives needs to be questioned. Deception will work in us when we receive and embrace words that are not from God.

A true prophet carries an anointing to turn the hearts of the people from sin, self, and idolatry toward the Lord. And frankly, that is what the Church needs most in this hour.

Therein lies a great key that will help you tremendously in your discernment. What is happening to your heart when the prophecy is being given? Is it strongly being drawn to the Lord or does it merely make you feel special, superior, and even elite? Does it draw you to the Lord or to the person giving you the prophecy? Does it feed your humility or your pride?

The bottom line is that much of what passes as prophetic ministry today, although done in the Lord’s Name, is not done by His Spirit or according to His heart.

In this 21st century quagmire of idolatrous worship and ministry may we truly be among the remnant that will be taught of the Lord.

WELCOME TO THE SCHOOL OF THE INNER MAN

This is a word from God I received some years ago after a time of extended payer and fasting. I included it as part of a book I wrote called, “THE JOURNAL OF A JOURNEY TO HIS HOLINESS”.

I wrote this book mostly in the first person and it outlines what the Lord said to me during this extended time of prayer. I highly recommend it, especially to ministers and those aspiring to leadership in the Church. Here is what others have said after reading the book.

“After 28 years in ministry this is the most powerful heartfelt message I have ever read.” M.R.

“This journal, so profoundly written will not only encourage all who embrace it, but particularly shepherds who want to understand how they can become more effective leaders in ministry, and the humility necessary to achieve it.” J.W.

“I found this book to be a strong refreshment to my soul. Many of the personal words and instruction spoken by the Lord to the author resonated with me affirming things the Lord has been speaking to me over the years.” S.R.

Start…

After indulging for a number of weeks praying in other tongues here is the very first piece of revelation the Lord gave me. It was here that I entered into a new grade of fellowship and another room in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit led me to know that this was the beginning of the interpretation of the mysteries I had been praying in the Spirit all that time.

Welcome to My school of the inner man. Welcome to the instructions of My counsel. Welcome to the classrooms of My Holy Spirit. Welcome to the school of discipline which you were enrolled in, but have not yet graduated from. You thought the time of testing was over. You thought that only man had done this to you, but I say again that I have allowed it.

And so you are still in My school of discipline and I am requiring you to be dumb as a lamb before its slaughter. I am requiring silence from you…silence with joy…silence with kindness…silence with peace. I will not allow you to be frustrated or aggravated any more.

Personal comments: At this particular time in my life and ministry I was going through some severe trials and I was constantly complaining and murmuring about things. There was a work of meekness the Lord desired to do in me that required mortification and my cooperation.

See that picture that’s been in your spirit. See that image. You are now in between classrooms. You are leaving one room and entering into another. You are entering a new room. You are leaving the room of your youthful and unharnessed soul and you are entering into the room where your inner man shall rule. You are leaving the room of your unharnessed soul that has not had understanding and you are entering the room of greater understanding in the Spirit. You are leaving the room of the unharnessed soul and entering the room of My voice and My counsel. There will be an accuracy in hearing Me now for I am opening your ears. My counsel shall now be easier for you to receive for you have positioned yourself well.

You are moving from the classroom of man’s counsel and of your own mind into the classroom of My counsel and My mind. Keep on moving. Go through that door and move on in. I have been waiting for you. I am your Counselor. I am your Instructor. I am the Ancient of Days and I know all things. I am He who taught your forefathers of faith long ago. I am ancient and yet in Me there is no time. I am He who is the wisdom for all ages and the wisdom for all times. I am beautiful for all situations. I am the joy of those who have sought me in the past and who seek Me in the present. Listen to me and do what I say and you will always succeed. I am the prosperity of all My servants. I never fail.

The work that is presently being done in you is to make you completely one with your message. Your message must be mirrored by your life.

Personal comments: I still fall so short of this word, but it has become a plumb line for me all these years – the standard of the Lord.

You are entering a new grade of fellowship. As in school when you pass from one grade to another, even now you are moving to another grade of fellowship and instruction. I am requiring you to pass and admitting you entrance.

And you have said, “Lord, this is hard. I can’t take this any more.” You have looked at others and said, “Why don’t you test them? They need to be tested. Those men need to be tested. They need to be purged. They need to be held back.” I say to you as I said to Peter when he asked about John. What business is it of yours what I do with these other men? They are my sons and servants, too and I will do with them as I please. And so you see why you have not yet passed this test? Your unharnessed soul must be subjected to My will and My counsel if you are to fulfill My high calling. Full purging is required to graduate from My school of discipline.

I know where I am leading you. And I alone know what your future holds, and I will not allow you to graduate until you have fulfilled My requirements and possess the credentials of mature son-ship.

Yield to the purging process. Move on to periodical fastings even as I’ve put in your heart. Move on to a more complete mortification of your flesh that is executed through fasting. Move on to an increased time of the reading and meditation of My Word. Follow these promptings that are in your heart. For you are in My school of discipline and this work must be done in you. It is a work of My love. It is a work of My protection…the protection of your calling and the longevity of your race in Me.

It’s a new day. I am taking many of My ministers who are saying yes to my high calling and taking them into My school of discipline. I am taking them into My burning furnace. I am taking them into My hot fires…the fires of purging and renewal and revival in their hearts.

It is time for My leaders and those who are called My priests to be the example that I’ve called them to be. It is time for the right kind of impartation to be made through them by My Spirit to the people they minister to. It is time for holiness in the hearts of every man who would bear the vessels of the Lord, who would be entrusted with the sacred work of the building up of My Church. It is time for the full consecration of all of My servants who would desire My high calling.

Let us make a new consecration as we near the end of yet another year and the beginning of a new one. Grace and peace be multiplied to each one who loves and the Lord in sincerity.