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Posts Tagged ‘Spirit’

“ Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” (Psalms 105:15)

I think it is no secret that Satan would try anything to destroy the Church. To keep the flock from straying under Satan’s influence, the Lord has placed the church under the authority of the pastor. Deacons and elders play a subordinate role in most churches, and we are supposed to be subject one to another, but the truth is, most often the pastor is fully in charge and the flock is supposed to submit unto him.

But who does the pastor answer to?

I have heard Benny Hinn say that we should not reprove the pastors because we are not to “touch His anointed”, using David and Saul as the example. Let me remind you that while David would not come against Saul, Samuel had no such inhibition, nor did Nathan, Micaiah, Amos or any other prophet of God.  The king may be in charge, but by God, he’d better listen to the prophet!

That scripture, however, has nothing to do with reproof of a pastor. It is about protection from the enemy. David is speaking in Psalms 105 about how God protected Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from those who would come against them. He was not talking about reproving pastors and holding them accountable.

So who holds our pastors in check or guides them when they stray? That is the job of a prophet.

A true prophet has a solitary walk. In order to be able to reprove kings, his message cannot be influenced by anyone. He must remain separate, consecrated unto God alone. His job is to stand in the gaps (Eze. 13:5) and call the church, and most especially the leadership, back to a place of repentance. He is not called to be popular or make friends. Jesus said that no prophet is honored in his own country and among his own people. Why? Because he doesn’t tell them what they want to hear. When you do see a prophet that is honored in his own country, it is most likely because he is a prophet of “peace and prosperity”.

Modern prophets of peace and prosperity in this generation like to lean heavily on the scripture in 1st Corinthians 14:3 in their effort to “speak unto us smooth things” (Isa. 30:10), but they never call us to repentance.  According to Jeremiah, however, that call to bring the church to a place of repentance is the litmus test of a true prophet of God (Jer. 23:22), a test that many of today’s blessing prophets fail.

Prophets are called, as the priest in chapter 14 of Leviticus to scour and cut out the leprosy in the house. If the leprosy is cured, then the house can remain. If it is not, then the entire house and everything left in it are to be burned outside the camp. When the leadership of any church is not able to be reproved, leprosy will grow unabated in that house. Satan is ecstatic because he can continue to lead the pastor away without the terrible interference from God’s prophet. It is now only a matter of time before that church falls.

The real losers in this are the unsaved. Sinners will not flock to altars that have lost their anointing.

And that was Satan’s goal all along.

“And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”  (1Kings 19:10)

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[This is a re-post from 2015]

Touch the Cross

Jesus on the Cross“If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.”  
– Bildad the Shuhite, (Job 8:6).

“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” 
– Paul, (Philippians 1:29)

There has been a shift in our view of the personality of God.  I noticed it taking hold of the evangelical church world about 30 years ago, and it has established itself more firmly ever since.

The old fashioned view of a God of judgment has been mollified to one of a kinder, gentler God who was more attuned to a loving relationship with His children.  The old brush arbor revivalists are considered too hard in their outlook, mocked in Hollywood films, and are brushed aside as narrow-minded zealots who did not understand the mercy of God.  We have assumed that we have a better understanding of God because we are somehow more enlightened.

We have shifted our focus to the blessings, the love and mercy, and the goodness of God.  Yes, judgment is still there, but has been relegated more to the shadows off-stage than out in the spotlight.  The Fear of God, although undeniably written throughout the Word of God, has been analytically digested and presented as being more by the precept of men (Isaiah 29:13) than the emotionally charged issue of actual dread and fear (Isaiah 8:13).  God is now our Daddy.

Because there has been no momentous outpouring of the Holy Spirit in recent memory, we, like the Israelites of Sinai, feel that Moses had taken too long to come down from the mountain, so we’ve fashioned our own gods that have supposedly delivered us out of Egypt.

Seems to work pretty well.  It certainly feels much better, and is much more palatable than walking around under the cloud of intense holiness like our forefathers did.  It makes much more sense to the carnal mind.  After all, if you get saved, God will love you and pour out His unconditional Love all over you, right?.  No more dark valleys to walk through, no more refining fire to strip away your flesh, and no more sufferings of the Cross to bear.

It made sense to Bildad the Shuhite.

But not to Paul.

We are inundated with an easy Gospel that promises a wonderful time in Jesus.  We proclaim that there will be a great revival soon, and we sing and dance to the rhythm of the message, but we have not considered the price.  Our pastors who have taken over the pulpits in the last 20-some-odd years have regurgitated the message they heard in Bible College and are not even aware that something is missing.  But hey, it sure feels good, doesn’t it?

So we continue to sing and dance and line up for someone can touch us so we can fall down on the floor in euphoria, but we never notice our lack of depth and brokenness, nor do we consider that old crucified walk that our fathers trod to establish the Church.

We want to touch the Cross; but not bear it.

 

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When I think of the two gospels that I see in America, I sometimes think of that Robert Frost poem, “two paths diverged in a yellow wood …”. One gospel is so well accepted that not many people today even know that there is another one. Sure, they’ve heard of it, but often with criticism and distain. They are much more enamored with a kinder, gentler gospel that has been tailored for this generation. It is almost universally accepted today as a much more enlightened view of the love of God than those old fashioned folks that used to preach about fear and hell. They don’t even remember anyone who has preached that old gospel.

I must be older than I thought. I’ll be 70 in a few weeks, so I guess I am. I still remember that old-time gospel. It was what I got saved with. And it was the message that we saw thousands of others get saved with. Our altars were full every single night and twice on Sundays. People were repenting on their knees in the church, on the phone, on the streets, and over the radio. In the course of ten years, we saw close to 100,000 souls get saved, and it was with that old fashioned gospel of hell, fire, brimstone, and the fear of God.

It sure seemed like it was working to me, but then, hey, what do I know? Nowadays, these kids have titles and degrees and fancy diplomas to hang on the wall that certify that they know stuff. All kinds of stuff.  And lots of it too.  I guess eating off the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil can really fill you up because the Bible says that “knowledge puffeth up”.

Leonard Ravenhill once said that we used to have preachers with no degrees but lots of heat, but now we have preachers with lots of degrees and no heat. I wonder if there is a connection.

Those who pursue ecclesiastical paths rarely see their divergence from the message that their forefathers preached, and when they do, they dismiss that old fashioned gospel as old, caustic, and unnecessarily hard. And yet, you would think that the vast difference in results would give them a clue. The altars of those old-timers were hot and on fire. They won thousands of souls on a continual, daily basis, whereas the altars of this generation are bare and cold with mere handfuls of repentant souls. When we need it the most, we have the least response.

Perhaps our ears are so full of “church” that we can’t hear.

“… and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked”. (Revelations 3:17)

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Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” (John 12:3)

Praise contradicts pride. If you are praising God, He becomes your focus, not yourself. The fragrance fills the room and the presence of this world and its hold on you is squeezed out. Pride melts away along with your attention on self. You – your position, your title, your benefit and welfare, your prosperity and blessings, even your place in God – dissolves in the cloud of unfettered praise carried in the beauty of holiness.

Pride is really nothing more than putting yourself above everyone else, including God. It has a ravenous appetite and will take over every place it enters. Just as the flesh wars against the Spirit, so pride is the antithesis of praise., and just as sin separates us from God, so also is grace unable to function in the presence of pride.

If you do not let go of your pride, your praises to God will ring hollow, and it will not be long before you are bored with repeating the meaningless phrases of “praise you Jesus, thank you Jesus”. The flesh takes precedent over lifeless words and renders your praises impotent. Your connection to the Holy Spirit is then broken and your feet remain planted in this world.

How then do we anchor our praises in the Spirit, break the stranglehold of the flesh, and release true praise and worship? The answer, as always, is to immerse yourself in the Word. All power comes from the Word of God. The Word of God created the universe. It cleanses you, gives you light and understanding, and because it is the source of faith, it gives you the power to pray. And prayer is the key that opens the door to praise.

There is one more step, however, in releasing the full power of praise. You have to break your heart. Mary broke the alabaster box that held the ointment. In so doing, you break open the bars that hold praise captive, and liberate it to fill the room.

The power of praise is one of the secrets to answered prayer. You “enter His courts with praise” (Psalms 100:4). Praise opens the door to the Throne Room of God. When you are totally immersed in praise and worship, the Holy Spirit will cover you and carry you into the presence of God. Once you are standing before Him in all His glory, nothing else matters.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
(Helen H. Lemel)

 

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Introduction

In the 1970s, God swept across California with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit like had not been seen for years. Many of the older generation who had experienced the revivals of the 40s and 50s rejoiced to see the Spirit of God moving again. Their pulpits had grown cold over the years, their altars had been abandoned, and the Church world had settled into the same religious environment that they themselves had revolted from in their generation. The excitement was gone, and church had gone back to its normal sedate self.

But here, finally, was a brand new move of God.  It didn’t come the way they expected, nor to whom they expected – God came to the Hippies, the disaffected youth who were searching for Truth in any way they could find it. But the fire of God was undeniably burning, souls were getting saved again and God was on the move.

I got saved during those early days of the Jesus Movement.  We were so full of the Spirit that nothing else mattered to us. Every night, the lost would pack the church to hear a message of the power of God unto Salvation. The Holy Spirit would descend in such an overwhelming presence that there were times that the air literally shimmered from the glory of God. Lives were immeasurably changed as souls flocked to the altar to give their lives to Jesus Christ.

Night after night, week after week, year after year, we immersed ourselves in the flow of the Holy Ghost. We fully expected that the Lord’s return was surely imminent and we would ride this great wave of revival until He came to catch us up into Heaven for Eternity.

But as things always go, the revival dissipated after about 10 years, even sooner in other places, and we were left wondering what happened. People went back to their different paths of Life, pursued forgotten careers, raised families, and settled once again for a normal, sedate Christian life.

Many of us, however, never let go of the dream that had been kindled in our hearts during those heady days of revival. We never forgot what it was like to feel that power flowing through us during services, and we never let go of the great calling that we knew had been placed on our lives.

Winding the clock ahead 30 years, I’ve watched the Church in America slide into an plastic rendition of what we once had, trying to imitate the excitement of those days with upbeat modern music, Hollywood-like presentations on stage, and “feel good” messages designed to comfort rather than convict.

I now know how those old-timers felt as they watched the holiness and glory drain out of the movement that had been ignited by the old Brush Arbor revivals. I can now understand how they must have cried out to God on worn-out knees to send another outpouring of His Holy Spirit. The glory had departed and they were left with only a slim ray of hope that it would return.

For years, I had been preaching a message of revival on radio and in newspaper columns, but in 2004, I felt the Lord lift the burden and begin to turn my attention overseas. Even though I had little to show for all those years of preaching, it was hard to abandon what I had been doing for so long. I felt as if I had been dropped off in a desert with no direction. But all the while that I was wondering if I had simply been dismissed, God was making other plans.  He sent me to Africa.

I am not an accomplished evangelist, a learned theological scholar, nor a well-trained missionary. In fact, when I first headed to Africa, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no plans, no organization supporting me, and no expectations. I just showed up, believing that the God who had sent me would also show up.

What the Kenya Diaries relates is the beginning of an incredible journey. What started as a step of blind faith has led to a resurgence of hope in the power of God. The excitement that I have felt must have been just like what those old-timers experienced back in 1970 when they saw the Jesus Movement rise up. God had turned to a new people that the established Church had never expected, so that He could bring life in the Gospel back to the Church.  He is doing the same today. America brought the Gospel to Africa, but I believe that Africa will be bringing it back to America.

As you read the Kenya Diaries, I hope you get a sense of the same excitement that I had as I followed the leading of the Spirit in a journey that led into a growing move of God. I have no doubt that this new move of God will result in a blaze of revival that will be so hot that it will be felt around the world.

The Kenya Diaries is the start of that journey.

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“For Demas hath forsaken me …” (2 Timothy 4:10)

How must that have felt to this old warrior who had struggled and fought to establish this Gospel that he knew was the only answer to saving the world from Hell. He had fought with demons and deacons, priests and princes. He had endured beatings, mockery and the threat of prison and death for this cause. He could have been wealthy and powerful, one of the ruling class in Jerusalem, but he turned it all away because he had met the Nazarene on the road to Damascus.

Paul knew what was at stake – Heaven for those who accepted this new revolutionary doctrine, or Hell for those who did not. Jew and Gentile alike faced the stark reality of a judgment that he must have known the utter devastating reality of. While Peter was given the ministry to the Jews, he was handed the enormous task of the rest of the Gentile world. And with that commission was the understanding that salvation would come to the Jews through the Gentiles as they fulfilled their dispensation. He had to succeed; he could not stumble and fail. Too much was hanging in the balance.

And then Demas forsook him.

I don’t suppose Paul was a soft-spoken kind of guy. Maybe he was a little too tough on Demas, or maybe he was too intense for him. He had a sharply divided sense of right and wrong, and he did not mince words to comfort hurt feelings. Rather, he made his points clear and blazingly lucid.

“Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

In other words, tell them truth! Quit pussy-footing around. Do it in love, but stay true to the doctrine. Why?

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables.” (2Timothy 4:3,4)

I wonder if Paul self-examined himself first when Demas left. “Was I too hard on him? Did I not consider his feelings? Do I have a bad attitude?” All questions we ask of ourselves when a good friend abandons us.

But at some point, his prophetic spirit had to take back control and say no. Even if his attitude was not socially gracious, the truth is that we are engaged in an insanely ferocious war of eternity. The destiny for billions of souls is at stake.

True love, then, is not the creamy smooth gospel that most people find so alluring. It is the stark and sometimes sharp declaration of truth that cuts away the shrouds of death to liberate the soul to walk in true righteousness in the fear of God – a doctrine that is often not the favored choice of many.

Somebody has to take that stand. Paul did. Demas did not.

 

Brother Dale

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“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly …” (Jonah 2:1)

I imagine it was a bright sunny day – blue skies, birds singing, gentle breeze blowing in from the sea. It must have been a beautiful day. At least it was for Jonah. After three days of hell, he had finally been delivered out of the belly of that whale.  He might have been slimy and acid-eaten, but he was standing on dry ground … alive!  Yes, it must have been a beautiful day.

But this ordeal wasn’t about Jonah. The survival of 120,000 people was depending on this. I’m not sure if Jonah did not want God to deliver the Assyrians, or if he was just plain scared to walk into the midst of this fierce, merciless people and tell them they were going to hell. The point is, he didn’t want to go.

But God did.

Acts of mercy that we perform are generated, not from our own wells of charity, but from the heart of God. He just allows us to participate. And it is prayer that unlocks the door to that mercy.

It may be hard for us to believe that our little tiny prayers could move continents and drop mountains into the sea, but are we limiting God or ourselves?  James 5:16 says that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Much – as in, a lot, because prayer unties the hands of God so that our works of faith become His works of action. True, there are conditions that God requires for effective prayer, but there are no limitations. If you can imagine it, God can do it.

Prayer is an act of mercy.  Mercy, even unintended, is still mercy. We may be praying for something entirely different – Jonah was certainly not praying for the Ninevites – but the effects of prayer, like the random twists and turns of a stream on its way to the sea, can often take circuitous routes to reach God’s intended purpose. We are just required to pray. And prayer moves God. And it may not be in the way you intended.

The works of faith can move mountains. They may not be the mountains you were concerned about, but sometimes God puts you into a situation where you have to pray your heart out, often for your own deliverance, just so He can work through your prayers to bring about unintended consequences and move in ways that you could not have imagined.

Including saving 120,000 people who you never intended to save.

 

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