“No man is greater than his prayer life….failing here, we fail everywhere.” Leonard Ravenhill
It is time we rebuild the altar again brothers and sisters. The Spirit of God is calling us to return to the prayer closet.
Remember the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel? Before the fire of God could fall on the offering, Elijah had to rebuild the altar of the Lord “that was broken down“.
Broken down… neglected…disused….Nobody cared enough to do something about it until Elijah came. It was a time of backsliding in Israel. Evil king Ahab was ruling with his evil wife Jezebel. Witchcraft and the occult was abounding, people were turning away from the true God and to lesser gods. Sound familiar?
And then Elijah comes to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord.
Just like John the Baptist would do later, Elijah confronted the people with his holy life, and with his words:
“How long will you falter between two opinions?”
But they answered him not a word. How sad. When God’s people no longer seek Him they lose the conviction within them for the truth, they go silent on good and evil. Things that were once detestable to them slowly start to be tolerated. It’s a recipe for lukewarm-ness.
“Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come near to me.’ So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.” 1 Kings 18:30
Notice Elijah rebuilt the altar in front of the people. His life was an example to others, just as ours should be, particularly in ministry. We can’t call others to pray if we aren’t doing it ourselves.
The altar represents prayer, coming before the Lord and offering up the sacrifice of praise.
Let’s rebuild the altar again Church so that the fire of God can once again fall!
Sensitivity to the Spirit of God is driven primarily by being able to hear Him.
“The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned” Isaiah 50:4
Again, sensitivity to the Spirit of God is driven primarily by being able to hear Him.
“He awakens my ear to hear as the learned”
This hearing happens within our spirit. This can be sometimes channelled through our physical ear as we listen to a sermon, or someone gives us an encouraging Word, but not always. But it is always through our human spirit.
What do I mean by our human spirit? When we are followers of Christ, His Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our human spirit and quickens (or makes alive) that inner part of us which was previously dead through trespass and sin. With our spirit now alive to the Lord and His Spirit dwelling within us we have the ability to hear His voice.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” John 10:27
Whether we hear a sermon, read something or feel a prompting in the spirit, we know it is of the Spirit of God when it bears witness with our spirit.
Sometimes you may listen to a whole sermon and nothing registers in your spirit. It could be an intellectual masterpiece, or it could stir our emotions, but if it doesn’t penetrate through the realm of our soul and into the spirit it is simply the flesh and profits us nothing spiritually. Another time you may hear a couple of words, a line of a song, read one verse and your spirit suddenly jumps. You know like you know that that is a Word for you. That is the Holy Spirit speaking, bearing witness to your spirit.
When that happens we need to slow down and listen. We need to allow it to really sink in and take root in our hearts because the Spirit of God is trying to tell us something. We need to wait on God. But even more than that, we need to be so intimate with Jesus that we are constantly in a pose of listening to Him. Remember Mary sitting at His feet… We are with Him where He is so that when He speaks a Word, or wants us to do something we are so close to Him that we know like we know immediately.
“He who has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches”
Jesus said something similar to this multiple times through the gospels and also repeatedly to the churches at the beginning of Revelation. Since He repeated this phrase so often there must be a reason for it.
Hearing in the Spirit Leads to Speaking Forth in the Spirit
Notice in Isaiah 50:4 it says “The Lord God has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary…”
The hearing in the spirit and the speaking forth of a word in season to those around us are connected. How do we speak forth with the tongue of the learned into people’s lives in order to minister and be a blessing? By having our ears awakened to hear as the learned! We need to hear from Him first or else we will have nothing to offer others.
The deaf-mute man whom Jesus healed in Mark 7 is a picture to us. This man could not hear, thus he could not speak. Jesus first touched the deafened ears, then spat and touched his tongue.
“Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”
Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.” Mark 7:34,35
Are you wondering why you have nothing to give others? Do you not know what to say when someone comes to you for help? Do you feel like you have failed them?
You need your ears opened by the Lord. Go wait on Him. Confess your need, confess your desire to be able to feed others with the Word and ask Him to open your ears to the Spirit. Then when He tells you to do/say something, do it. Prompt obedience to the Lord is a sure-fire way He will keep speaking to us.
Blow the Trumpet in Zion Aug ’15 conte crayons, pencil
Yesterday was the last day of the Shemitah year. Today is the first day of the Jewish civil New Year. It is also Rosh Hashanah, or Feast of Trumpets. Today is also the first day of a Jubilee Year.
The Bible connects the trumpet (or shofar) with the Jubilee Year:
“And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. 12 For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you” Leviticus 25:8-12
This is the year to make the trumpet sound throughout your land to proclaim liberty to the captives. We no longer have time on our side my friends. The Bridegroom is returning soon. We need to unashamedly lift up the trumpet (shofar) and “Blow the trumpet in Zion. Sound the alarm in My holy mountain” Joel 2:1
This is a year of restoration. This is the year where we need to ready ourselves in order to receive the returning prodigals. First we need to let the Spirit of God search us in order to check that our names are written in the Book of Life. We also need to confirm that our lives are in line with the perfect will of God. Then it is that we are to set others free around us.
This is the year that when the shofar sounds those who are captive/bound/oppressed will be set free. Truly “each of you shall return to his possession and each of you shall return to his family”. This is the year that our sons and daughters will return to us.
Yes there is harvest of wickedness ripening all around us. But simultaneously there is also a harvest of righteousness. Jesus said that the fields are white unto harvest. Go forth, go forth my brothers and sisters into the ripened fields, in the power of the Spirit, for the time of reaping is at hand.
God bless you and Shalom this Feast of Trumpets season,
There is only one antidote to the fear of man, and that is the fear of God.
The fear of God needs to overtake the fear of man. It needs to be a stronger force in our lives than the fear of man or else the FOM will keep rearing up its ugly head and dictating our lives.
Natural Vs Spiritual
We all want to be liked. We all desire the approbation of others. To be recognised, affirmed and accepted. That’s natural. I am the same as everyone else.
But that is the natural man, the old man. That man is part of the temporal, earthly order.
When we were born again our spirit-man was born from above. Now we are a part of the heavenly order of things. It’s important to remember that the temporal order is on its way out and very soon the eternal will be ushered in.
God has placed this world under judgment and there is no escaping that fact. Remember the writing on the wall? “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” (Daniel 5:25). This world has been weighed in the balances and found to be wanting (or “too light”). Therefore God has numbered the days of the kingdoms of this world and shortly they will be brought to an end.
So when our natural man focusses on the earthly, material kingdoms around us we can forget that we are a part of something far greater, far more wonderful than this temporal order. Jesus removed the blinkers from our eyes when we were saved but we must know how to see into the eternal. We should be able to see what the natural man cannot. To see that the natural and temporal are passing away and that it is the eternal that counts and that lasts.
Remember Daniel: After he translated the above words, King Belshazzar ordered him to be promoted in his kingdom and highly honoured him in the sight of Babylon. But what did Daniel want with the King’s approbation? – He’d just told him that the days of his kingdom were numbered! The promotion was meaningless!
Daniel had eyes to see. The great banquet, the flowing wine and the shine of the cups of gold did not distract Daniel from seeing the spiritual.
The way of the kingdom is a different way, a higher way. Jesus came to deliver us from the bondage of the fear of man in the natural, and to bring us into His way – the way of the Spirit.
Obtaining the Fear of God
It is only in fearing God that the fear of man is supernaturally overcome. But how to obtain the fear of God?
Consider Stephen the Martyr. Previously the high priest had strictly forbidden the apostles to teach in Jesus’ Name, they had even been imprisoned for the message they preached. It was a scary time to be preaching the gospel.
“But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:29-32
Not long after this event Stephen is accused of blasphemy and put on trial. How frightening! Other Christians had recently been killed for the faith and this was fresh in their minds.
Stephen could have kowtowed to the accusers, but he didn’t. He didn’t fear them, he could see beyond them and their threats. He could see the God of eternity. And he feared God much more than these men.
So in the fear of God Stephen, rather than cowering in a corner, rose to the occasion and preached the truth.
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit, as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?…” Acts 7:51, 52
Did Stephen fear man? No way. Did he compromise his message hoping they might let him off? Nope.
Yes, they killed him, but he didn’t fear them.
You see he had a vision of heaven. He “gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55
The difference is that God’s people are able to see. They can see beyond the temporal, physical realm. Rather than seeing man and his threats they could see the One who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
And that is the difference.
The fear of man comes from spiritual myopia – short-sighted vision that cannot see beyond this physical, material world.
The fear of God comes from a supernatural revelation of the glory of God.
Once you have seen it you are never the same.
Isaiah saw it.
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled
the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah 6:1-3
This is what this generation needs more than ever – a revelation of the glory of God.
Once you’ve had a vision of the holiness, the reverence, the majesty of God, you have a vision of eternity. Suddenly your eyes are opened to the temporal nature of everything that encompasses us. Suddenly you see that only the eternal matters.
Suddenly your eyes are also opened to your true self. Once Isaiah saw God he also saw himself.
“Woe is me, for I am undone!”
The power of self is undone in the presence of Almighty God. And suddenly how man and this world estimates you takes a second place to the revelation that there is a holy God who sees you. Only His estimation of you matters now. And now the fear of man takes second place to the fear of Almighty God.
“Lord stamp eternity on my eyeballs” Leonard Ravenhill
Oh Lord God Almighty, give us, this last generation, a vision of Your glory. Let us see You in all Your awesome majesty. Give us a heavenly vision again Lord. I am asking for such clear spiritual vision that we can see past the distraction of this world and into eternity. Father, that we may fear You alone, and not man. Let us do Your will only. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
When Jesus sent out His disciples He told them that there are two possible reactions to them preaching the gospel: either they would be received, or they would be rejected.
This is a fact, for God has given humanity freewill, and as such every one of us is free to accept or reject the prophetic Word of God. However whilst we do have this freedom, it must be acknowledged that with every exercise of our freewill, every decision and every action we take there is a consequence in the spiritual realm which alters the material world. And it is true in this case as well.
God has laid out in His Word the specific consequences for both receiving the prophetic Word and the rejecting of it. In fact, He holds the reception of His Word as so important that He has said :
“He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward…” Matthew 10:41
Why is the reception of a prophet so important to Him? And what is the prophet’s reward?
The Importance of the Prophetic
The prophet represents God. He goes forth from the presence of God and speaks what God has given him to speak. The prophet speaks the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not just speaking the Word, it is speaking it forth in the power of an anointing borne out of intimacy with Jesus Himself. The prophet is the ambassador of Christ in this world, and so the prophet and his message are inextricably linked. A true prophet cannot be separated from the message he brings.
We see this with Ezekiel. God had a message for Israel and He had His prophet to act out what he was proclaiming to Israel. He had to lie down for a certain number of days as a sign against rebellious Israel. (Ezekiel 4)
One cannot receive the prophet himself, whilst rejecting the message he brings. And vice versa is true.
Neither can the true prophet be separated from God. When God sends someone to speak forth His Word, then he/she is speaking it on God’s behalf. Rejection of the prophet and his message therefore is rejection of God and His Word.
“He who receives you receives me, and He who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” Matthew 10:40
The Way of the Flesh
The rejection of the Word of God is normal. What I mean by that is that it is the way of human flesh. The flesh always resists the Spirit. It always has and it always will. The flesh has its eyes blinded and its heart hardened.
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14
I don’t know about you, but since I was born again I left behind “normal”. I don’t want the way of the flesh anymore, I am desperate for the way of the Spirit. As followers of Christ, we who are now living by the Spirit should be able to receive and hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church regardless of whether it is a message of encouragement/edification or whether it is a message of correction/reproof. You see, the Holy Spirit wants to work in us to conform us to the image of Christ and sometimes the old needs to be torn down first before the new can be built.
Rejection of the Prophetic Word
The consequence of the rejection of the prophetic Word is judgment and death.
This may sound harsh, but there is a spiritual principle at work here.
“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” Galations 6:8
Because the Word of God is alive (Hebrews 4:12) when it is received it takes root in order to bring forth life, just like a little seed.
However when the Word of God is rejected, that place where life was meant to dwell becomes a vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum and something has to take that place. What enters in is corruption. When Christ is actively rejected after the Word has been preached, a new level of corruption enters into that individual/church/city.
Jesus told the disciples what action to take with those who reject them and their words:
“And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorra in the day of judgment than for that city!” Matthew 10:14, 15
The action of the shaking of dust from one’s feet is an act of judgment against that place.
“The Jews thought the land of Israel so peculiarly holy, that when they came home from any heathen country, they stopped at the borders and shook or wiped off the dust of it from their feet, that the holy land might not be polluted with it. Therefore the action here enjoined was a lively intimation, that those Jews who had rejected the Gospel were holy no longer, but were on a level with heathens and idolaters.” John Wesley
Jesus brings Sodom and Gomorra into the picture as a picture of God’s judgment. It was an awful judgment of fire and brimstone against awful sin. Yet they were judged apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ – it had not been preached to them. How much more severely will God judge the place to which the gospel has been sent and rejected?
It is the same with us. Now that we are followers of Christ, partakers of the grace of God, born again from death into life, how much more should we be able to hear from God?
As the Parable of the Sower demonstrates, the result of that seed of the Word not being able to penetrate and take root is
You see if God wants to speak something to you and me, then He wants us to have ears to hear it. There is always a purpose to God speaking – and that is to bring forth life. To close our hearts and our ears to Him is actually an act of disobedience. Remember Saul – he shut his ears to God’s instructions and because of his disobedience was rejected as king. Remember Lot’s wife. She was specifically told not to look back at Sodom. She did, and became a pillar of salt. Death entered in. Remember Adam and Eve. Specifically instructed not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God warned them of the consequence of disobedience : death.
“You shall not eat it….lest you die” Genesis 3:3
They ate it and death entered in.
Jesus Himself exhorts us to be able to hear. Over and again He says “He who has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”
Why? Because He knows that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. He says that seeing and hearing leads to understanding in the heart, conversion and healing. (see Matthew 13:14-15).
It Is Not Too Late
I want to encourage you that God is merciful It is not too late to hear Him.
I feel that there are some in the Body of Christ who have rejected a Word from the Lord because it didn’t sit well with their flesh. Perhaps it seemed too big, perhaps you felt inadequate to receive it. Perhaps it was a reproof against a specific sin you didn’t want to give up or didn’t know how to give up. This rejection of God’s Word has brought about a measure of death in your spiritual life and you are now stagnating.
Let me tell you that until this has been dealt with you will not move forward. If you have any controversy with God then it needs to be sorted today. Get in His presence and be honest with Him. Let go of pride, let go of inadequacy. Let go of Self altogether and just allow Him to minister to you. Confess your sin of disobedience and ask Him to open your ears. And then do what He tells you to do.
This is the way Life will flow again.
Reception of the Prophetic Word
“He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward….” Matthew 10:41
Wow – this is almost too amazing to believe! God cares so much about the reception of His Word and His messenger that whoever receives a prophet, because he is a prophet, shall receive the same reward a prophet receives.
Whilst this is amazing it is also quite logical. Considering that the rejection of God’s word is the norm of human flesh, then the one whom can receive it the Spirit of Life must already be working on in some measure. The one who can receive from God has not a hardened heart nor deafened ears. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet of God, is receiving the prophet as an ambassador of Christ. Therefore whoever is receiving a prophet ultimately receives God Himself.
“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives me receives Him who sent Me”
Once again from the Parable of the Sower: “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces, some hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:23
When the seed of the Word is received in fertile soil, God is able to move and new life springs up as a consequence.
So What is the Prophet’s Reward?
Jesus said to His disciples “He who finds His life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39
This the reward of a prophet. One who goes forth and speaks the Word of God, not fearing man but fearing God. One who stands up against the forces of evil and declare God’s truth. One who loses his reputation for the sake of Christ. One who confesses Christ in the face of persecution and rejection. One who does not bow to the pressure of man. One who puts Christ before himself. This is a true prophet and this one will find eternal life because, for the sake of the gospel, he has laid down his temporary life in this world.
And the one who receives the prophet and his words will share in his reward of eternal life because he has received him. Because rather than resisting the prophetic Word in the flesh, he has heard by the Spirit.
Because in his humility he has identified with the prophet, God will identify him with the prophet’s reward.
This is a wonderful topic with much depth. I cannot cover it all in this one post but God willing I am going to write more on this. It needs to be stated that not all “prophets” are true prophets of God. There are many false prophets in the world whom we should not receive, nor receive their words.
Next post…. false prophets and testing the spirits
One of the very first things the Lord taught me when I started street-preaching was that I am not responsible for how people respond. My work was to simply speak forth the Word
Sorry….I just had to…
of God. He showed me that I am not to consider how or even if the message will be received, I am simply to speak it forth in obedience.
If people respond well, praise God. If they don’t, praise God anyway.
I have seen many different responses to the preaching of the gospel. Sometimes there is conviction by the Spirit and sometimes reception to the Word of God. But most often it is this:
Demonic manifestations, including cursing Jesus, foul/sexual language and personal abuse
Shaking heads sadly
Turning off the PA or trying to steal my microphone from my hand
Laughing and mocking
Hardness of heart, those who are completely unreceptive/unresponsive to the gospel
The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) demonstrates that there is a variety of different grounds of reception to the word of God. Whilst many different responses are possible, the one I dislike encountering the most is the last one. I would much rather encounter demonic manifestations or outright aggression to the Word of God than the completely unresponsive, hard-hearted receptions I get from some. Why? Because with the aggressive/demonic I know something of the Word has penetrated somewhere and it is bringing about a response.
But the proud, unreceptive person is just that – unreceptive. Unable and unwilling to receive of God. They are able to stand right in front of me while I am preaching about hell or about the amazing love of God and send a text message. Nothing penetrates.
Whilst I must keep going and not let that deter me from my mission, there is One who cares deeply how His Word and how His prophetic voice are received. That is, of course, God.
Standing right between the parable of the Sower and Christ’s explanation of that parable is this passage:
“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.” Matthew 13:13-16
And so I have to ask: Do our eyes see? Do our ears hear?
You see, each of those responses listed above from unregenerate sinners, I have also encountered in the church (excluding the cursing of Christ).
Beloved, this should not be so.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”
Are we able to receive of God? Am I able to?
Oh yes I know we are Christians. I know we know lots about the Bible and about God. But are we able to actually receive from Him?
Have we learnt so much over the years, and been to church for so long that we now know it all? Has the earth of our heart become stony again?
Can the seed of the word of God still penetrate? Or is it only possible when we hear a “positive” word that is complimentary or affirming to our flesh in some way?
Can we be reproved? Or are we immediately on the defense? What if God wanted to correct us and what if He sent an “unlikely” prophet to do it? Would we be able to receive from Him?
Or would we reject the prophet and his words?
God takes very seriously the reception or rejection of His prophetic Word and there are consequences to both responses.
the consequences of the reception and the rejection of the prophetic word
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