Those who don't know Jesus should not be expected to act like those who do.
(Looking for the article Dueling Puppet Masters: Controlling Pastors vs. Manipulative Congregations? Read it HERE.)
If you follow my ministry you'll know that I am an unapologetic preacher of holiness. You'll also know that most of my messages are directed to the church. Preaching holiness to the lost doesn't work well unless it's coupled with a powerful invitation to surrender all.
Those who haven't had a life-rocking encounter with Jesus are at a disadvantage and it's unfair for those who have been transformed to expect them to see things the way we do. In fact, to attempt to coerce them to adhere to our set of standards, in violation of their own free-will and their right to also have a say in morality is ineffective, and in most situations, unfair if not outright arrogant.
Who are we to say that pornography is wrong? What makes our version of truth regarding homosexuality more valid then theirs? To Christians, babies were created by God, given human spirits at the time of conception and they clearly, obviously deserve protection. Except, those who don't believe in God the way we do simply disagree that they are fully human at points of development prior to birth. They have a right to that belief, as horrifying as we think it is.
The result is a holy war between a group of people who have one set of standards and a group that has an entirely different set. Coercion in the political realm, in the high courts and in the battleground of public opinion becomes the only tool left in our tool belt. We vote or legislate our way to victory, further enraging those who oppose our paradigms.
Listen to the podcast here…
YES, WE SHOULD STILL GO TO BATTLE AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE
Now, please understand, with humble hearts, we as people who are zealous about protecting the unborn and who have a responsibility to guard our children from being indoctrinated by the homosexual agenda, I absolutely believe we must use whatever tool we have in our tool belts. Yes, it's right to fight for laws that stand aggressively against human trafficking. We should work hard to overturn Roe v. Wade. Pornography, the legalization of narcotics and other destructive cultural vices that are being normalized in our society must be met with resistance.
However, it remains true that the unredeemed simply cannot understand things the way Believers in Christ can. This isn't because we are better. It's because we have surrendered to Jesus and our entire way of thinking was renewed. We were once compromised and unable to discern right versus wrong. Then, God touched us as wicked, confused, arrogant and very lost people and the light came on.
HOW ARE THE UNREDEEMED AT A DISADVANTAGE?
I pray you begin to mourn and weep over the lost as you grow in understanding as to how terribly the enemy is assaulting them. Yes, every person who has ever lived and who ever will live will be without excuse on Judgment Day. Yes, everybody has a choice, and the lost have made their choice. That shouldn't result in us marking them off as enemies while we puff ourselves up and sneer down our noses at them. We should be broken and our intercession should be taken to a much higher level.
BORN THIS WAY VERSUS BORN AGAIN
Those who argue that they were born gay, for example, may have something to their argument.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5 (ESV)
We were all born in sin, in iniquity. It shouldn't take much for us to understand this. Sin comes very naturally to all and it takes the momentous event of being born again by the Spirit of God for that to shift.
In fact, the Bible calls those who are not his own, children of wrath. Are you seeing the extreme disadvantage the lost have when attempting to discern good versus evil? All they know are the inner urges that, in their minds, makes up the very core of their identity? If they have been attracted to the same sex for as long as they can remember, then, it seems clear that they were born this way. That should validate their homosexuality, or so they would argue.
Without a dramatic encounter with Jesus, without being born again, we can't expect people to understand biblical freedom or morality.
NO RELIEF FROM ANXIETY, FEAR AND DEPRESSION
The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy, and based on the rampant addictions to opiates in our generation, it appears that he's winning.
Spirit-filled Christians can fill their days with praying in tongues, meditating on God's Word and by singing songs of praise to break off the debilitating, suffocating assaults of depression, fear and anxiety. We have a very present friend in Jesus ministering to us, interceding for us, talking to us and walking with us.
The lost are limited to positive thoughts, drugs, counseling and, sadly and all too often, suicide. Truly, the only hope in the battle of emotional trauma is Jesus, and they haven't met him yet.
Can Christians also be in need of counseling and medical care including the administration of appropriate medications to help deal with chemical imbalances and other physiological and emotional difficulties? Yes, absolutely. As long as it takes place on a foundation of faith, such care can be an important part of the healing process.
10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO PEACE
Those who don't know Jesus simply cannot know peace. For Christians, peace rests on us and it is not dependent on circumstances or in understanding our situation. God is with us and his supernatural peace displaces the darkness.
It's not hard to understand why so many politicians, protesters and others who are advancing their various ungodly causes become enraged when they experience push back. They have no peace, and in their minds, the road to a life that is more centered and devoid of resistance is to hate, curse and attempt to slay anything and anyone that gets in their way.
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)
THEY DON'T EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF GOD
The thought of not having that constant burning of God's Holy Spirit within is enough to make me shudder. The glory of God and his anointing on our lives is irreplaceable and without it we would spiral out of control.
Our decisions, our mindsets, our emotional well-being, our belief systems, our desires and everything that make up who we are would radically shift. It would be a deeply disturbing way to live, yet the lost live in that reality every moment of every day of their lives.
11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED LOVE
No matter how determined society is at convincing us that they do what they do because of love, it's simply not true. They have fallen for a faux love that does not originate from the only one who can manifest love. Outside of God, we cannot know love. The reason is simple: God is love.
I want to encourage you to read my article The Great Love Deception. It's eye-opening.
Sure, the lost can experience infatuation, attraction, appreciation, strong desire, lust and many other emotions, but love is the one experience they can't have outside of Jesus.
The next time you hear about someone who is militantly promoting what we would call perversion, just remember they are yearning to love and to be loved. This isn't a defense of perversion, but rather it's a call to weep for our culture and to stand in the gap so people can finally discover the only true source of love.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Psalm 32:10 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO ACCESS TO SUPERNATURAL WISDOM
The unredeemed are limited to their own logic and human ability to reason. That's it. They have no resource when their own abilities or the abilities of others to understand comes to an end.
The ceiling of understanding becomes their version of truth and they will fight to the end to support it.
For Christians, there is such a relief knowing that we won't ever understand it all, and that our own logic is often fallible. We simply read the Bible and believe it. God speaks and we respond. The lost cannot do that.
They will argue that getting drunk, for example, is just fine, as long as you don't get behind the wheel of a car. It makes sense to them. Christians, however, have no need to attempt to wrap their minds around the topic. God says don't get drunk, and he's much wiser than we are, so we buy in wholesale to what he says. As a result, life is much, much better.
Further, decision making becomes much easier as Christians. We may not know what job to take, what house to buy, where to go, who to marry or how to resolve life's problems. Thankfully we have a supernatural source of direction that goes well beyond humanity's resources.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 (ESV)
HAPPINESS IS THEIR ONLY HOPE
We all have the right to pursue happiness in our nation. Sadly, that's the limit for people who don't love and serve Jesus.
Christians, on the other hand, live with overwhelming, immeasurable, supernatural joy! Happiness is dependent on circumstances. Joy is not.
Instead of pursuing wealth, sex, fame, materialism and other pleasures as sources of happiness, Believers are fully satisfied by knowing God. It's a supernatural reality that can only be understood when experienced. It's not mind over matter. I'm not talking about mental gymnastics that turn bad situations to good. I'm talking about an actual Spirit that fills us up and brings supernatural joy to our hearts. Those in the world can never understand this.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 (ESV)
THEY LIVE OUTSIDE OF THE REALM OF MIRACLES
The lost have absolutely no hope of relief from life's woes unless mankind can come up with a solution. They are dependent and desperate and all too often, hopeless.
Believers in Christ live in the realm of miracles every day! Healings, wonders, signs, breakthroughs, prophetic revelation and much more are our portion!
The lost are feverishly doing all they can to avoid or avert dire circumstances in their own abilities. They turn to man, not God when they are in a time of need.
12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. 2 Chronicles 16:12 (ESV)
Seeking the Lord is necessary for us to survive and thrive on the earth, and those in the world simply can't enjoy the miracles that result from such a devotion.
THEY HAVE NO REASON NOT TO SIN
Above I revealed the mindset regarding drunkenness. In the minds of the lost there is absolutely no reason not to get drunk. This logic can be used in other scenarios too. Lust is pleasurable as is pornography. Getting high on drugs feels good. Foul language and other behaviors are morally benign. If it's legal, it's okay.
In the world the line is drawn when one person's sin negatively impacts another. That's what defines morality in a culture that's not surrendered to Jesus. What the world defines as lawless and what God defines as legal are very different.
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 (ESV)
Christians understand how destructive sin is and we embrace consecration and repentance eagerly. Sin kills even if we don't understand why. We don't define what is morally legal, God does.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO HOPE OF A WONDERFUL ETERNITY
Every ounce of life must be experienced in a window of approximately 80 years to those who don't know Christ. The thought of preparing for eternity is nonsensical to them. This over-magnifies the importance of fulfilling dreams and desires on the earth, as they do all they can to soak up all their short earthly journey can provide.
Of course, Believers know there are an unlimited number of years ahead of us. Every person, whether lost or saved, will live somewhere forever. This is what drives our lives. We do all we can to awaken the sleepers, to warn the apathetic and to rescue the perishing. This world means little in comparison to eternity.
Further, those who know Jesus are exhilarated knowing they will experience never-ending joy, abundant life, freedom, love and peace as we live day-by-day with God. This isn't some euphoric pipe dream. It's truth. It's going to happen. Those who don't know Jesus simply cannot understand this.
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1-6 (ESV)
CHANGE OUR DISPOSITION
I pray this will at least cause you to think differently the next time you get agitated at people who are promoting beliefs and behaviors that are repugnant to you. Pray hard for them. Battle for their souls.
Trust me, the moment one of these vile, wicked people truly find Jesus, they will turn on a dime and renounce everything unrighteous they previously supported. Meeting Jesus does that to a person.
God talks, a lot. What do we do when he’s silent?
One of my great joys in life revolves around helping people discover the wonder of hearing God’s voice. We are all called to be prophetic, which at it simplest simply means that we hear God and respond accordingly.
God talks, a lot.
The stories of God intervening in the lives of his children continually have me in awe of him. I can’t imagine a life devoid of that precious, stunning, other-worldly avenue of communication between this humble, created human and an immeasurable, indescribable, all powerful creator! There’s nothing like being in the zone that results in a regular stream of dreams, visions, prophetic words, fresh revelation and supernatural interactions. I thank God he is still alive and kicking today!
There are also times when God goes silent. I really do not enjoy those seasons, but I’ve come to appreciate them.
Here are some quick points that help me when I enter a silent season:
1. God loves me. Period.
It can be easy to feel rejected, or to presume that God has become tired of me and my weaknesses, when he stops talking.
Remember that God IS love. His passion for us is so extreme that it would be utter foolishness to think that he’d fall out of love with us just because we are experiencing some growing pains.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16 (ESV)
While it's true that God continues to love us, the enemy would love to use God’s silence against him by causing us to fall out of love with him! Be careful not to disengage in your adoration and worship, especially when you don’t feel his loving presence the way you are used to.
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37 (ESV)
2. God uses silence to awaken us to something.
When God stops talking, I go into a time of reflection and personal assessment. It is possible that I need to be more aggressive in shifting into a new season. I might also have a negative heart issue that might need to be dealt with.
During this reflection, however, it's important that I do so with a healthy heart. His silence should draw me closer to him, and not result in division between us. You’ll notice that accusation against God can result in silence:
And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:3-5 (ESV)
Is it possible that I have accusation in my heart against God on a matter? Complaint or resistance to his Lordship in my life most certainly can result in Jesus refusing to respond to me. He will go silent, and the last thing we want during silence is more silence!
Instead of becoming more angry or frustrated, I propose we respond as Pilate did: Be amazed. Be humbled by the wisdom and unmovable nature of Jesus. As we do, our remedy is then to sincerely repent and embrace God as he is—whether we appreciate the way he is presently functioning in our lives or not.
3. Busyness will result in silence.
It’s truly rare for God to go silent for long periods of time when I’m praying in the the Holy Spirit, with passion and groans that can’t be uttered, on a continual basis. When I’m in that place of fervent pursuit and deep intimacy it’s uncommon for that electric connection between God and me to cease.
When other things edge out our prayer life, or minimize it, one can only expect to stop hearing from God. Prayer is his medium for communication. The simple, obvious truth is that if we aren’t in that burning, fervent zone of prayer, we won’t have the ability to receive communication from God. When the radio is off the speakers are silent.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)
4. The Bible is never silent.
No matter how deafening God’s Rhema silence might be, the Word of God never ceases to shout!
Dive into the the Bible with determination to see it’s truths explode in your life. Get excited about everything you read and grab hold of all of it!
It's a powerful moment indeed when, at a time of divine silence, the eternal Word of God shakes us, invigorates us and causes our faith to rise. No matter how much or how little you are feeling God's presence in your life, read the Bible and believe every single word you read. It's just not possible to stay frustrated when the very words of God are being seared into our spirits!
Reject your personal experience, history or common sense when those messages conflict with the miraculous messages of Jesus. Reuse to doubt. Declare the Word in prayer. Move mountains with your faith. Don't get frustrated waiting on God to speak personally to you about a matter. He's already speaking more loudly than we have ever considered, in the Bible.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Proverbs 3:1-2 (NIV)
5. Nothing should steal your peace or joy.
If God’s silence results in you losing your joy, you might want to refer above to point number two again. He may be attempting to calibrate you to his heart.
Even when God is not speaking, we can and should still remain steadfast in a place of extreme joy, faith and love.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32:11 (ESV)
6. Appreciate the calm before the storm of victory.
I’ve noticed my reaction to seasons where God’s activity is slowed directly results in my position in the season that follows. A right response and a refusal to give in to complaint, despair or apathy, and a resolve to go even deeper in God through both the Word and prayer, results in advance and promotion. It also strengthens my character and stretches me into greater maturity. Silence is a necessary part of growth and advance.
I’ve met a lot of people who stop in their tracks when God isn’t talking, opening doors, giving prophetic words or doing other such things to move people forward. God very often will refuse to relate to us in that manner when we are failing tests or ignoring truth that has already been established in Scripture. As we react in a right manner during the silence, and focus on obeying the Word of God, we will pass the test and experience glorious, divine open doors!
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 (ESV)
7. Ask. Seek. Knock.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 (ESV)
You are guaranteed to hear from God if you are unrelenting in your pursuit of him.
If you aren’t given to the sacrifice of seeking, don’t expect to find much of anything. Hearing from God requires a devotion to prayer and interaction with him at a degree that most are not comfortable with.
Press through the crowd and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. Wrestle with God until he blesses you. Cry out from your cave. Refuse to stop until you encounter God’s love, power and glory! It will be well worth the effort.
In the midst of an intense life of contending we can experience great and continual joy!
First, I want to encourage you to read my two latest Charisma Magazine articles. They are receiving a lot of feedback and one has nearly 30,000 shares from the Charisma Magazine site alone:
- Many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.
- Ancient and Emerging: 5 Major Changes Coming to the Church
Sometimes its easy to think that a call to contending means that we have to be grim and intense with no joy. This couldn't be further from the truth! We can experience joy, peace, life and an amazing relationship with Jesus always! Joy is strength and it is necessary for us as we advance in our callings.
It should be easy for us to smile, laugh, rejoice and experience abundant life even as we contend with a sobering, end-time calling.
A house of prayer to break down competition and build up unity in the pursuit of revival in Detroit and beyond!
FIRST: The worship and teaching and atmosphere at Revival Church has shifted into prayer-fueled culture of extreme joy, faith and expectancy! I’m humbled!
Listen to last night’s message…Joshua Generation Part Two: http://media.johnburton.net/7468076 I’ll include the notes below.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Register for thelab school of fire Colorado!
Travel to Colorado for a six-month series events and conferences! You DON’T want to miss this fiery, prophetic shock to the Colorado Springs region! Visit www.thelabdetroit.com/manitousprings!
I was once asked by a reporter for Pray! Magazine a very interesting question.
The interview was about an underground prayer movement called Secret Prayer in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In total, we prayed in over 100 churches in the city and God was uniting people in remarkable fashion.
Pastors, who sadly are historically nervous and territorial, were opening up their pulpits to our team—usually without ever meeting us first! We would arrive at 10pm on a Friday night and pray in fire for two hours. At times we’d have over 200 people from churches all over the city converging together to intercede for Colorado Springs until midnight every Friday!
With this unusual openness following our team every week, I was asked, “John, how is it that pastors, who are often resistant to one another, are coming together like this? Where is the contention?”
I responded by simply saying, “You can’t hate or despise someone you are praying blessing over.”
I was also interviewed by the Christian Examiner. Read that article here: www.thelabdetroit.com/secretprayer
CONTENTION IN DETROIT?
After four years, I’m no longer the new kid on the block. I’ve had an opportunity to check out the landscape of the church in this region, much like I did in Colorado Springs.
We have been in over 6o churches here, and have experienced much of the same freedom and fire that we did in Colorado.
I’m happy to say that there are many, many pastors and leaders who are humble, hungry and ready to lay it all down for the sake of revival in Detroit!
However, it’s also true that there are murmurings, contentions and division in the land as well.
Prayer. Continual prayer. Unified prayer. Fervent prayer.
We won’t oppose other leaders, churches and movements we are aggressively asking God to bless.
If we ask God to cause another church to grow faster than our church, have more money than our church and radically increasing impact, our own jealousies are diffused!
If we are willing to release the people in our church to move to another church, we will no longer struggle when transfer happens!
I’ve said before, at Revival Church and thelab, we have an open hands policy. We don’t own sheep and therefore it’s not possible for someone to steal them from our ministry. Anybody, any pastor, any leader can come to our church at any time and freely, with out any guilt, recruit anybody to leave our ministry to join theirs.
I’d encourage you to read another article I wrote about the Sheep Stealing Myth here: https://burton.tv/2011/09/06/church-competition-and-the-sheep-stealingtransfer-growth-myth/
THELAB HOUSE OF PRAYER
To break down a spirit of competition and jealousy and to promote a unified pursuit of revival in this region, we are inviting pastors and leaders to join with us in prayer—and to join in the building of a new house of prayer for the region!
thelab house of prayer is functional ever Sunday night at Revival Church, and the next step will result in an explosion of daily intercession, training and worship.
We are inviting intercessors, musicians, leaders, pastors, revivalists, prophetic messengers and others to partner in the development of this new regional ministry!
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. We are ready to develop worship teams and intercession watches!
You can help us raise the remaining $40,000 by giving here: www.thelabdetroit.com/payment.
It’s time to take an honest look at the typical Christian experience that is largely disappointing for so many.
Sing along with me:
I went to the enemy’s camp and took back what he stole from me, took back what he stole from me, took back what he stole from me…
This is a fun song to sing and has a sold ring of victory to it, but it has always troubled me. I always wondered why Christians seemed to be playing catch up, perpetually trying to gain back what was lost and attempting to convince themselves that they are victorious. We often try to cheerlead our way to believing we are who God says we are. It’s as if we are sitting on a couch in a counselors office, looking into a mirror and saying, “I’m OK. God likes me. I’m a winner. I’m OK. God likes me. I’m a winner.” If we say it enough, surely it will sink in, right?
Again, let’s be honest. Yes, we as Christians all agree that in the end Jesus wins. Or, do we really believe that? Is it simply easier to believe something that’s far removed and chiseled logically into the stone that holds the tenants of our religion?
What if that end of times war exploded violently and experientially right now? Would we simply embrace peace and easily, confidently know that Jesus wins—or would we freak out and worry as devastation creeps onto our front lawn? Would it it result in a crisis of faith or an eruption of faith?
Our foundation of faith (or lack of it) will result in difficult situations either triggering hopelessness and despair or passionate expectancy.
Lets bring it closer to home.
At any Sunday morning church service I could stand in the pulpit and ask the congregation a question: Who here has a history of financial struggle?
Most hands would shoot to the sky. Yet, we know that scripture declares that every need that we have is provided for!
Philippians 4:19 (ESV) 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Do you see the conflict? It’s a crisis of faith that is unfortunately experienced by most Christians!
Think about the 1260 promises in the Word of God. How many are inactive in the lives of Christians? How many have the enemy stolen away? Just where is that camp that we have to find so we can take back what he stole from us?
Psalm 84:11 (NKJV) 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.
That’s a really good Bible promise!
Why does that verse feel more like a pipe dream than a common reality experienced by Believers?
Because many Believers are actually unbelievers.
They doubt. They are gripped by unbelief.
Check out this passage:
Matthew 13:10-15 (ESV) 10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “ ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
Seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. This issue is gripped the unbelievers in the church!
Why don’t we see extreme prosperity, healing, joy, life and freedom in the church today?
Matthew 13:58 (ESV) 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
- Tradition. Another way to say it is historical evidence or past experience. If our confidence and expectations come from past experience and cultural norms instead of the wild realities of the Kingdom, you will live like most every other Christian out there—below the bar of Kingdom wonder.
Matthew 15:6-9 (ESV) 6 …So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
- Powerlessness. Christians are evidenced by their supernatural power. Check out this problematic passage:
Mark 16:14-18 (ESV) 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
What a situation we have here! In the same breath that Jesus rebuked them for unbelief he was telling them to wise up and figure this Kingdom thing out. They were commanded to deal with their doubt and change the world. The way they would pass the test? Faith-fueled signs, wonders and miracles. Does it strike you as concerning that there are Christians out there that have not discovered the power of God flowing through them? It’s a very serious issue.
- Failure of performance. Have you ever quoted verses that dealt with an issue you were facing? Did you add some prayer to the mix only to be disappointed by a failed mission? The Bible speaks to this directly:
Matthew 17:19-20 (NKJV) 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
It’s unbelief. Doubt. The moment we give room for any ending other than what is promised in Scripture, you can label that unbelief. So, what was Jesus’ prescription for their unbelief?
Matthew 17:21 (NKJV) 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
We don’t pray and fast to cause demons to come out. We pray and fast to cure our unbelief. Apply this verse to any enemy that is winning in your life. Depression, fear, poverty, sickness. If you don’t have belief that joy and power and prosperity and health are yours for the taking, then move into an extreme season of prayer and fasting. Breakthrough hinges on your ability to fully believe without wavering.
This verse makes the point very clear:
James 1:5-8 (ESV) 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
If we doubt, we can’t expect to receive. Period. If your mind entertains thoughts like, “God might heal me,” you are pretty much done before you began contending.
- No joy of salvation. Ouch. This one hurts, but must be addressed. We see salvation and faith so intertwined throughout scripture that we simply have do deal with this. If we as Believers are living most of our lives in the realm of unbelief can we casually presume to be saved? I’m not so sure. Check this out:
Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
Do you see how faith and salvation are connected? Here we see the devil stealing the very thing that ensures their salvation—their belief. The next group experiences the joy of salvation, but didn’t have sufficient belief when the trials came. They fell away. It’s the last group that hears the word (faith comes by hearing the Word!) and endures and bears fruit with patience.
- Faith in what is visible. If we default to what is visible and humanly understandable, we will fall well below the mark of belief. This can have often tragic results. The story of King Asa should be an alarm for all of us:
2 Chronicles 16:12-13 (ESV) 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. 13 And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign.
I believe one reason we don’t see more healings in America is because it’s too easy to pop a pill and trust that the doctors can heal us. That misguided faith has been devastating in its impact. The majority of our lives as true Believers exists in the invisible realm of the unseen—in the realm of confident belief.
Hebrews 11:1-3 (NKJV) 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
For the Believer, the unseen realm has more substance than what our five senses pick up. For the Believer it’s easy and normal to believe the report of the Lord ahead of the report of human experience or human perception.
Church, it’s time we stop hoping and wishing our way to victory. Hope deferred makes the heart sick! We have to put an end to demonic thievery. Pumping ourselves up and cheerleading our way to a low level confidence in God’s Word must give way to a peaceful assurance of breakthrough. We don’t contend for victory, we start at the point of victory. Now, we don’t have to play catch up as we focus on personal identity and success. We can launch with great faith from the platform of success into the world changing missions that God has assigned us to. As champions and authorities in the Earth we don’t ever allow the enemy to steal anything—instead we take dominion over his camp, his domain!
I see a day coming in the church where everybody who simply yet fully believes is wildly joyful, prosperous, healthy and free—strong and ready to annihilate the kingdom of darkness with force!
Healings in a Party Atmosphere at Revival Church
That last two weeks at Revival Church have been amazingly free and alive. Laughter has been breaking out, and last night we had at least three instantaneous healings.
God is AMAZING!
There was such life and freedom throughout the night… I was buzzing as I was preaching on the pleasure of God.
That teaching can be heard at www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/teaching, and the full notes (I only made it through the introduction last night) will be included below.
I. Our Vision
a. We started this church with one big idea.
i. To know God, in the depths of his personality, is incredible!
ii. Our job is to make it easy for people to thoroughly enjoy God.
iii. He is so worth it!
iv. John Piper- we value most what we delight in most.
1. God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him.
2. We spent our money on a trip to Disney World.
3. It was incredible and worth every penny.
a. The $4 hot dogs, $3 Mickey ice cream bars, the long lines, the hot weather- all worth it!
b. We were there 8 days and we were up at 7am on 7 of them to enjoy as much pleasure as possible!
c. All of this pleasure doesn’t even come close to the pleasure that knowing God brings!
d. Psalms 16:11 (NKJV) 11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
e. The idea here is to live our lives in the presence of God!
4. If we truly understand what we have in knowing God, the church, not Disney World, will be the happiest place on earth!
b. This idea is in direct contradiction to religion.
i. To have a relationship with God is to enjoy him, to trust him, to love him and to be satisfied in him alone.
ii. However, religion is man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.
1. That’s very different.
2. C.S. Lewis- Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
c. As we continually and aggressively grow in God, we will discover the greatest, deepest and most overwhelming satisfaction comes as we are simply with him.
II. He Is Passionate About Us
i. John 3:16 (NKJV) 16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
ii. Rev 4:11 (KJV) 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
iii. If you saw the Passion of the Christ, you have an idea how passionate Jesus is for you, for the one who drove the nails.
III. Five Steps To Enjoying God
1. We can’t enjoy life if we aren’t free!
2. Our sins and our separation from God make it impossible to enjoy God.
a. That’s why Jesus came!
b. Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, F29 To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
3. Best decision I’ve ever made!
4. Not because of some hope of going to heaven, but because of how amazing life on earth really is!
5. Isaiah 12:3 (NKJV) 3 Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.
a. It’s wonderful to be free!
b. When our savior was on his way to the earth, the angels declared- rejoice!
c. Luke 2:10 (NKJV) 10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
ii. Surrendering our thoughts and opinions
1. After salvation, the act of surrender must be continual for us to flow in the life of God.
2. 2 Cor 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ
3. The word ‘arguments’ could be translated ‘reasonings’.
a. Every thought that rises up in our minds that speaks against the truth of the Word of God must be brought into captivity.
b. Another translation of that word is ‘imaginations’.
c. No matter how logical something may seem, if it contradicts the Word, it’s merely an imagination.
d. As a third-century man was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend: "It's a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians–and I am one of them."
e. We surrender not only our lives, but also our frustrations, our fears, our doubts, our arguments against the truth of the Word.
f. This brings us to the next point- we must trust God entirely in order to enjoy him.
i. We can accept Jesus into our lives, but if we don’t trust him with everything, we can’t truly enjoy him.
1. We will be leery of him and that causes us to remain at a safe distance from him.
2. This is why he told us from the very beginning to die to our selves.
3. Matt 16:24-25 (NKJV) 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
a. What a dilemma!
b. So many Christians live their entire lives trying to find life- if only they would lose their life, carry their cross- then their lives would be amazing!
4. Romans 8:5-6 (NKJV) 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
a. If we have set our minds of discovering human answers to life’s challenges, we won’t give room for God to bring a supernatural answer!
b. Heb 11:1 (NKJV)1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
i. There is a very important truth here- if we truly live by faith, then our enjoyment is based upon what is unseen vs. what is seen!
ii. Circumstances cannot steal our joy!
iii. The reality of what our faith is based on is more tangible than the unpaid bills, the sickness in our body or the struggles in our lives.
iv. In the midst of it all, we rejoice because we know God’s taken care of us.
v. Jer 29:11-13 (NIV)11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
vi. So- how do we know what to have faith in?
c. Romans 10:17 (NKJV)17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
d. This bring the third critical element needed to thoroughly enjoy God- The Word!
c. Growth in the Word
i. It’s easy to enjoy God when we believe the Word is true!
ii. It’s alive!
1. Phillip Brooks- The Bible is like a telescope. If a man looks through his telescope he sees worlds beyond; but if he looks at his telescope, he does not see anything but that. The Bible is a thing to be looked through to see that which is beyond; but most people only look at it and so they see only the dead letter.
2. So we find ourselves in a trial and our initial response is to complain and lose our joy.
3. But then! We open the 100% true Word of God!!
a. Hark, what do we have here?!
b. 2 Cor 4:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
c. Behold! Now our misery can turn to joy as we believe the Word of God is true!
d. Psalms 119:103-104 (NKJV) 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
e. C.S. Lewis- I would recommend you either believe God up to the hilt, or else not to believe at all. Believe this book of God, every letter of it, or else reject it. There is no logical standing place between the two. Be satisfied with nothing less than a faith that swims in the deeps of divine revelation; a faith that paddles about the edge of the water is poor faith at best. It is little better than a dry-land faith, and is not good for much.
iii. In addition to making it easy to enjoy God by feeding our faith, the Word reveals the incredible depth of God!
1. What could be better?
2. Rev 19:11-16 (NKJV) 11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
iv. The way we see God, the way we make decisions, the way we perceive challenges will change as we stand on the Word.
v. Challenges can become thrilling instead of heavy.
vi. Burden is light.
vii. We can easily enjoy God as we devour his written word to us!
i. Deeply immersed in meditation during a church service, Italian poet Dante Alighieri failed to kneel at the appropriate moment. His enemies hurried to the bishop and demanded that Dante be punished for his sacrilege. Dante defended himself by saying, "If those who accuse me had had their eyes and minds on God, as I had, they too would have failed to notice events around them, and they most certainly would not have noticed what I was doing."
1. To get lost exalting God is amazing!
2. The greatest part of the Christian life for me is prayer and worship!
3. I am fanatically addicted to it!
4. 1 Chron 16:11 (NKJV) 11 Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
5. For many, prayer is the means to the end.
a. It should not be that way!
b. Being with God is the end!
c. Col 4:2 (NKJV) 2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;
ii. It seems strange that God calls us to exalt him.
iii. He knows that we will experience life and freedom if we do!
iv. In order to enjoy God, not only must we trust him, but we must interact with him always.
v. It is a common temptation of Satan to make us give up the reading of the Word and prayer when our enjoyment is gone; as if it were of no use to read the Scriptures when we do not enjoy them, and as if it were no use to pray when we have no spirit of prayer. The truth is that in order to enjoy the Word, we ought to continue to read it, and the way to obtain a spirit of prayer is to continue praying. The less we read the Word of God, the less we desire to read it, and the less we pray, the less we desire to pray.
vi. Alfred Lloyd Tennyson- More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.
vii. When asked how much time he spent in prayer, George Muller's reply was, "Hours every day. But I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk and when I lie down and when I arise. And the answers are always coming."
e. Right relationships
i. In regard to relationships- Make sure there is a fire breather in the mix!
ii. Spend time with people who are can’t stop talking about God!
1. In order to enjoy God always, we must hang with people that share our passion!
2. Acts 2:42 (NKJV) 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
3. This is why it’s so important to come together each week at church- to fellowship, to worship, to grow together!
a. 3 times a week- Sunday, Wed, small groups.
b. Heb 10:24-25 (NKJV) 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
4. It’s a critical element of life on earth- finding joy and life in relationships with others.
5. People crave intimate relationships!
iii. Testimony of kid in mall
a. So, to enjoy God we simply pursue him!
iii. The Word