Bizarre, supernatural manifestations should be normal in the church. What happened?
When given the choice between hearing another sermon and witnessing invisible and very active demons being cast out of a precious soul, I'm buying the ticket to the deliverance. Why then, if deliverance is even allowed at all, is it so often stopped so they can escort the individual into a back room somewhere? Today's church needs to see the power of the Holy Spirit overcoming the power of the enemy in people's lives right before their eyes!
Here's a podcast on this topic:
In fact, supernatural manifestations are consistently shut down as irritations or some sort of spiritual disorder. Manifestations should be expected, not avoided. We must allow our all-powerful God to interact with the people. When such a mighty force touches weak, finite humans, it's simply impossible to maintain our casual or dignified disposition. We will react with shock, awe and wonder!
THIS REACHES BEYOND SIMPLE SUPERNATURAL MANIFESTATIONS
Too often the Western church is functioning in the safe, natural, middle ground, and the demons remain in hiding, very active and unconcerned about any Christian interference. There is no threat.
However, when a deeply determined and wildly prophetic people who are devoted to intercession and warfare unite, the unseen world starts to shake under the weight of their authority.
When people like this advance together, they are met with dramatic and often bizarre supernatural reactions. Demons and angels engage and respond, and this will be easily discerned by men and women of God who live their lives in the spiritual realm. The invisible realm becomes exposed.
We must have mature warriors who understand the realm of the invisible and who function in great authority giving key leadership in our churches. It's laughable to think that a church is truly having impact if the enemy isn't provoked and if the Holy Spirit isn't manifesting.
A DEMONIC COMMAND CENTER IN MANITOU SPRINGS, COLORADO
I'm astonished at how often Christians live in disbelief (or disinterest) regarding the demonic world. The story I'm about to share can easily be dismissed as too extreme. They'd prefer to climb back under their safe, comfy blanket and deny reality—all while the demonic army gains strength and momentum. Hiding under the blankets or sticking your head in the sand is no strategy against such a formidable force.
The Lord had revealed to me that Manitou Springs was a demonic communication center, a command center, much like NORAD, which was an active center of defense for our nation for years just a few miles from our town at the base of Pikes Peak. Further, it was expressed that Manitou Springs, at the base of America's mountain, was called to be an angelic command center of revival for the nation. We had a lot of work to do. A complete take-over and shift in authority must occur.
My lead intercessors and I were prayer walking through the streets of Manitou Springs, Colorado several years ago. This city is well known for it's occult roots. Anton LaVey, who wrote the Satanic bible, lived there. Witchcraft is rampant and homosexuality and liberal ideals promoted. In fact, the pastor of the city at the time led a profoundly heretical church.
During this particular prayer walk, which was one of hundreds, we were interceding on the grounds of a very old Episcopal church property. Suddenly, I saw a dark entity, a hooded creature. I told my intercessory friends, Miles and Jodi, about the encounter and we quickly moved closer to the church building where this demon was seen (and had since ducked into hiding).
It's extremely important that we are all prophetic people, able to hear God's voice very clearly. If we don't, we can miss some life altering instructions and revelations. What God said next was absolutely critical for the advance of the Kingdom in this dark city.
God told us the demon was a messenger on assignment, and that he was there to receive the keys of authority to the city. He was to transport them to his leaders. Understand, the enemy is granted great authority to advance its agenda when humans are in agreement. It gives power to their assignments. God revealed this particular messenger, on a very important mission, was fully surprised to see Spirit-filled children of God at his rendezvous point. It was even more shocked that I saw it. We prayed, seeking instructions on how to deal with this situation. God told us to intercept the keys. The authority in Manitou Springs was being transferred that day in surprise fashion.
AN ASSIGNMENT DEEP INSIDE THE EARTH
Very shortly after this transfer of authority I, along with very experienced and high ranking intercessors from the surrounding states gathered together for a prayer assignment in Manitou Springs. After some dramatic prophetic experiences that day, we capped it off with our primary assignment deep within a cave system.
The intercessors knew Manitou had very evil roots and a wicked history, and they wanted to gain spiritual intelligence so they could devise a strategy. As we were all about to enter the cave, the regional intercessory leader, who was a little older than the rest of us, told me she wouldn't be going into the cave. She would stay back and cover us in prayer. She then privately gave me an assignment: determine whether the deep part of the cave where we were going to end up was a demonic command center.
I eagerly accepted the challenge and then I, along with the rest of the team, started our journey into the depths. As I was walking deeper into the cave, I began to understand the severity of the assignment. I certainly didn't want to presume anything. I didn't want to guess. I needed to hear from God clearly about whether our final destination was in fact a center of demonic activity that was focused on destroying the people of Manitou Springs and the nation, or not.
When we finally entered the furthest room in the cave system, I was absolutely stunned at what I was experiencing. All I could think was, “The Holy Spirit isn't welcome here.” It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The void created by the absence of God's manifest presence was something I never want to feel again. It felt like Hell without the fire and torment, and I can't imagine spending even a few seconds in there. However, I was on assignment and I had to deal with this supernatural reality. I couldn't leave. We stopped and turned off our lights and began to pray. It was perfectly dark.
I hit my knees, trembling, wondering what was going to happen and what God wanted us to do. In the spirit, I saw the earth open underneath me. A massive entity emerged from the depths. This was a portal between the demonic realm and the land of the living. I did in fact discover a demonic command center.
I was experiencing intercession unlike any time in my life. It's impossible to describe the experience. I was beyond overwhelmed, shaking, undone, disturbed.
It was confirmed that the determined agreement of humans in Manitou Springs with the Satanic realm was extremely strong, and demons emerged from the depths to give instructions to people and to receive information from them. These were messenger demons much like the one I experienced on my prayer walk by the Episcopal church.
Wait! The Episcopal church!
God reminded me of the encounter I had there. As this massive portal was opened up under my feet, it was clear what I was to do. I had taken the keys of authority. I had them! I was to use this new found authority to shut this portal down. Lock it up. Seal it shut. Take dominion.
I shared all of this revelation, in that pitch dark cave, with the other prophetic intercessors, and they all immediately agreed that I was discerning everything correctly. In that evil place where the Holy Spirit wasn't welcome, I felt a mighty shift. The anointing of the Holy Spirit filled me and I commanded, in the authority of Jesus Christ, that the enemy's assignment was over and that the portal must shut. We all roared and groaned in the Spirit, prayed with power, declared truth of the Word and successfully fulfilled our mandate.
As we emerged from the cave, the faithful general in the faith who remained behind to pray had a smile on her face. She asked me, “Well, was it?” I said, “Yes!” I went on to explain what happened. She nodded her head and told me that God revealed the same thing to her as she was praying.
Understand, this never could have happened if we didn't embrace the wild and bizarre supernatural realities that are all around us.
In fact, a secular drama company from Broadway in New York City put this experience and others into a production and toured it from Washington D.C to New York City to Chicago to Los Angeles. My prophetic decrees, powerful personal freedom and other supernatural stories from our ministry were depicted on stage in front of thousands of mostly liberal, atheistic people who were in a prime position to meet Jesus!
Isn't it amazing how God works when we start moving in the supernatural, spiritual realm?
A TEAR JERKING EMAIL
This assignment in the cave along with many others over several years (some even more dramatic than this one) resulted in powerful breakthrough.
This week, I received an email that moved me to tears. You see, we passed the baton to others as we eventually moved out of Manitou Springs. This message shows how much prayer, the prophetic, endurance and obedience can do to the enemy's camp. I pray this encourages you to allow God to move exactly as he wants, to invade the realm of wickedness with authority, to expect supernatural manifestations and to contend for freedom, even if you don't see the results on our watch.
I love getting your emails – they are so challenging and so good. Thank you for what you do!
I’m a huge believer in giving credit where it’s due – and since you were such a HUGE part of our transition and journey to Manitou, as David and I are a week away from transitionIng our, I wanted to give you an update – because you sowed seeds for so many years and made this ground so fertile.
You wouldn’t recognize Manitou today! It’s becoming a beautiful community – restoration taking place in the supernatural and in the natural. Houses and buildings being restored and families moving in seeking community.
We’ve prayed over every inch of this city. The bridge over rainbow falls was restored, and the day it reopened, we prayed over it as a city gate and renamed “beautiful” at the Lord’s prompting. The same weekend, we dedicated the old Masonic lodge as the new worship space for new life Manitou – cleansed the ground, and claimed that gate as well.
The mineral springs by the Loop was recently refaced, and, “coincidentally,” a new life member was contracted to do the work. He wrote our prophetic passage for Manitou on the back of each rock – Isaiah 41:17-20 – “the poor and needy are searching for water where there is none, and I THE LORD will answer them…” and now scripture is hidden in one of the central fountains in Manitou. It’s our little secret. 🙂
Not long after that, a sign that had been decades missing from the rainbow falls bridge was replaced. It says “Manitou Springs – healing waters.”
New Life Manitou has been a full-fledged, weekly church for 3 years now. We beat the odds! It’s a thriving community of believers serving the city and accepted as part of the community. We’re meeting in the renovated (and very well-cleansed!) Masonic lodge on El Paso and running around 150 each Sunday. Every week, it seems, a new family shows up saying they just felt called to Manitou. We’re literally the only evangelical church here – but Manitou has embraced and not just tolerated us.
Hiawatha Gardens, where you guys met for the HOP, is being restored. Interestingly, your banner is still hanging on the back door – even though they’ve been in there cleaning and renovating. There sign remains. Just a reminder of your mark on this community.
David and I have been here for 4 years, and now we’re being called away. My heart is so torn – I have grown to adore this town and its people – our neighbors who are atheists and lesbians and agnostics who we are leaving we now have to entrust to Jesus. We’re headed back to San Antonio to pastor a church there. I can’t help but think of your story of leaving and how it must have been so bittersweet for you and your family.
We have certainly felt the weight of living here – the call and yet the resistance and pressure – and yet the yearning to see more of God’s movement, knowing that you wouldn’t be here to see the completion firsthand.
Because of that, I wanted to tell you again that your hard work and toil and trials and prayer and faithfulness did not go unseen, unnoticed, or unfruitful. Your obedience here in Manitou for all those years paved the way for what is happening now and for the restoration and revival that is happening here in Manitou. I know from firsthand experience that it wasn’t easy and that you suffered for the call. But your legacy lives on here. Your faithfulness and intercession and prophetic words spoken over this city tore down strongholds and softened hearts. You pastored this city so well. Well done, good and faithful servant.
And thank you for giving us so much insight and comfort 4 years ago when we were so freaked out about moving here. Thank you for being the forerunner and for giving us the courage to carry the torch. Thank you for introducing us to Miles and Jodi, who passed the prophetic torch to us. I still have the house of prayer banner they gave us and still weep at the thought that our weekly prayer meetings were held in the very same room as your early prayer meetings were held.
God has such a heart for this place, and my heart breaks to leave it – We have wept over it, loved it, and learned so much in our time here – but our time is done and we did what we came to do – 4 years of so much joy, so much travail, so much beauty. And you were such a huge part – so thank you so much for your labor, John. You are a giant in the kingdom, and I just wanted to let you know that we recognize your sacrifices and work here. It lives on and you are part of a very beautiful story that God is writing in Manitou Springs.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. The Father is well pleased.
Sarah and David
I cried tears of joy.
Experience a potent prayer culture in your life, your church and your region!
You can view the related video teaching by John Burton HERE.
I regularly hear from people who are passionate about prayer—yet they don’t know how to see that passion develop into an explosive culture of prayer in their lives, their churches and their regions. They crave a continual, intimate encounter with God, and they are zealous for this in the lives of others as well.
God has clearly called us to nurture a lifestyle of never ending prayer that results in intimacy with him and impact in our world—yet it’s rare to find a people who have embraced this most elementary of instructions. Some are apathetic. Others are resistant. A growing number are ready. This article is for them—the ready remnant.
17 pray without ceasing… 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV)
In another article titled “5 Major Changes Coming to the Church” I brought attention to the role that prayer will be playing in the church:
Services will become more like prayer meetings. One of the greatest indictments on the church today is that prayer is not the driving force. Today, people tend to choose churches based on the appeal of the teaching and the worship instead of the fervency of prayer. If the church was a house of teaching, or a house of worship, that would make sense, but it's not. The church is a house of prayer for all nations. Every person in the church will function as a burning intercessor and the services will be marked by this unified groan of fiery prayer.
Like it or not, Scripture does make it clear that the church is a house of prayer for all nations. That’s it’s foundational identity, yet prayer is rare in the church, especially in the Sunday morning service. The Western church seems to be everything but a house of prayer as other activities and focuses tend to take precedence.
17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? Mark 11:17 (ESV)
I’ve often said we’d be much closer to the biblical model of the church if we gathered together and did little else than pray for two hours on a Sunday morning. Add in some instrumental worship over the top of the prayer, some Spirit-driven exhortations and decrees of Scripture and we’d have a furnace of intercession that would transform entire cities! Just imagine if every church in a city did this!
SEVEN KEYS TO DEVELOPING A POWERFUL CULTURE OF PRAYER
A culture of prayer can be developed in most any context, such as our homes or our personal lives as we move from place to place throughout the day. Probably the most obvious context a culture of prayer can be nurtured is in the local church.
We’ll use the local church as our focus as I share some keys to seeing prayer grow and bring the impact it was designed to.
As we do this keep in mind that the ultimate goal of prayer expanding in the local church is not the growth and impact of that church. The goal is the establishment of a Holy Spirit fueled culture of prayer in the city. Biblically, the church isn’t defined by the local expressions in individual buildings but rather it’s known simply by the region it is in.
Revival isn’t revival until it spreads through an entire region and the church of that region is gathering together in prayer and ministry on a large scale level. This is why I believe stadiums are going to be full in the coming years. I see the thousands of people who make up the city church in a particular region coming together regularly to groan in intercession. Can you imagine the multitudes in one place on their faces contending in faith driven, Spirit empowered prayer for hours every single week? That’s the goal! Keep that in mind as you develop a prayer culture whether it’s in your personal life, in your home or in your local church.
Key #1—Senior Leadership Driven
In the context of the local church it’s imperative that senior leadership fully buys in, owns the vision and leads the people into the culture of prayer.
I’ll never forget the time I was waiting to talk with a well known national church leader after a luncheon. An elderly couple was just in front of me and they were excitedly sharing their vision of seeing harp and bowl intercession and worship established in the churches there. They were sharing their vision and explaining how they were going into churches to hold workshops that taught people how to develop intercession there.
As they were talking the leader they were talking to interrupted and simply said, “It will never work.”
I felt so bad for that couple! The life ebbed out of their faces and they were shocked that such a thing would be said. They sheepishly asked, “Why not?”
The leader revealed the truth behind his curt statement, “If senior leadership doesn’t have that vision burning in their veins they will not embrace it. It will not be supported and it will give way to what the pastor chooses is more appropriate to give time and energy to in the church.”
He was right.
If senior leadership doesn’t believe prayer is the main thing it will be relegated to an off night in an unused room in the church. It will be treated as an extracurricular activity instead of the foundational purpose of the church even existing.
Key #2—Tongues & Groans
One of the most misused scriptures in all of the Bible is Romans 8:28:
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (ESV)
When people are going through difficult life challenges a common piece of counsel is to casually inform the afflicted person that they can relax. Why? Because it’s all good!
That’s terrible counsel!
You’ll notice the first word in that scripture is “and.” This should tell us that verse 28 is contingent on what precedes it.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)
When we literally groan in the Spirit in intercession and yield to exactly what the Spirit is releasing through us, THEN all things work together for good!
The counsel to those struggling should not be to chill out—it should be to hit your face and groan in deep intercession!
I believe Sunday morning services should be marked by people laid out all over the room in travail, groaning in otherworldly intercession! Now that would be a prayer culture, wouldn’t you agree?
This call is for everybody, not just those who are outgoing or those who consider themselves to be intercessors. Every Christian wants things to work together for good, right? Then every Christian has the glorious opportunity to tremble under the weight of the Spirit of God as audible groans from the depths of their spirits rage out of them!
Don’t worry about the visitors who might get freaked out by such a display. The church isn’t a vehicle of evangelism, it’s a vehicle of intercession. But even when those who don’t know Christ enter in, the intensity must get hotter not cooler! The Holy Spirit will absolutely captivate the seekers with fire!
A promise I’ve made to every ministry I’ve given leadership to is this: I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry.
It’s time to groan, church.
Key #3—Prayer Must Be The Main Thing
I’ve spoken to this already, so I won’t give too much more time to this point right now. But, I do want to communicate again how critical this is.
The culture of prayer must be the primary focus every day in order for it to truly be considered foundational. This is something that should dominate our lives.
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)
The leader of a very effective prayer ministry once introduced small groups into their ministry. These groups took on a life of their own and people were giving time and energy to them. This seems like success, right? No. The small groups that met each week were drawing people out of the prayer room. The main thing, the call to continual intercession, was compromised by another successful, more appealing ministry focus.
The leader shut down the small groups and reemphasized the very reason their ministry was there—to prayer for the nations night and day.
Years later small groups were reintroduced in a different format so they became a great support system for the prayer room and those who were giving their lives to intercession.
Basically, the goal is this—everybody who is involved in the ministry or church must be ready to embrace a lifestyle of fervent, fiery and continual prayer as their primary focus. From that foundation there will be much room to do everything else God is calling people to such as evangelism, teaching, missions, family life and more.
Key #4—Eradicate Unbelief
15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’ Job 21:15 (ESV)
God isn’t resisting us, yet so much of prayer sounds like begging. Prayer that takes the form of convincing God to do something is prayer that won’t last. We must know God’s will!
In our prayer meetings we must boldly decree, declare and command as we fight the enemy, advance the Kingdom and move mountains. When we are convinced of our authority and what God has already resolved, our times in corporate prayer become electric!
11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, Colossians 1:11-13 (ESV)
We have been delivered from the domain of darkness! We have access to all the power of God! This should change our prayer lives like nothing else! We have an incredible level of authority and it’s time that we move forward with faith!
As we decree the Word of God there should be a Rhema strike from the Spirit of God that causes us to believe what we are declaring.
I’d encourage you to spend time in prayer wrestling with this point. Unbelief will diffuse any prayer meeting, and it will certainly kill any hopes for a prayer culture.
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38 (ESV)
Key #5—Reject an Addiction to Petition
Prayer is not mostly asking God for things. It’s so much more than that!
It’s time we stop gazing into Heaven hoping for God to do something that we ask him to.
I almost never bring a list into my prayer meetings. It’s important that we are Spirit led and that we release the decrees and declarations that God puts on our spirits. From a place of praying in the Spirit God will highlight things he wants us to focus on. It never makes sense to pray for something that logically makes sense to give attention to if God reveals there is something more pressing to deal with.
There is much that God is ready to pray through us that has nothing to do with what we can intellectually understand.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, Ephesians 3:20 (ESV)
Again, this is why any prayer culture must be driven by groans and tongues. We must allow the Spirit of God to pray through us exactly what God is saying in that moment.
A primary goal is to see a sharp, prophetic atmosphere develop. People will be impacted by the very voice of God as we focus on hearing him and responding.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 (ESV)
Key #6—Implement Ongoing Training
Developing a culture of prayer requires a constant focus on it from the pulpit. The thread of prayer must weave through most every teaching that is given so people will understand the connection to the foundational call to give themselves to continual intercession. The why must be answered or prayer will cease.
Important topics that must be taught effectively include intimacy, identity, authority, faith, warfare and others.
In order for prayer to become dominant it will be necessary for people to be together often. If Sunday mornings are mostly prayer meetings (which I think they should be), then when would the training come? People will have to come back Sunday evening, Monday, Tuesday and other nights of the week.
When I was leading a church in Detroit I also encouraged people to grow very fast, independently. I’d encourage them to read books on prayer, watch or listen to sermons and attend other churches and ministries in the area that are going hard after revival from a foundation of regional intercession.
In fact, one of the most powerful ongoing workshops we had looked little like a typical classroom setting. People from our church and many others from churches in the region would gather together every Friday night for two hours of intense praying in the Spirit. We’d be in a different church every week and the Holy Spirit would teach people, in the moment, how to endure in prayer, how to break off fear and how to functionally lead such a dynamic type of event.
We were in over 100 churches in the Colorado Springs area and in over 70 churches in the Detroit area. That weekly, ongoing training in the classroom of the Holy Spirit was powerful!
I’d often call people together for a quick 2-3 minute instruction in the moment to explain what was happening or to give them a new tool of intercession.
Regular, weekly events like this will train a ready army of intercessors much more quickly than a teaching will.
Key #7—Practical Advice
While I could never communicate all of the various nuances and suggestions that help establish a culture of prayer, I’ll hit on a few.
In all of my years of ministry I’ve always held prayer one hour to every service. I would be the one, as the senior leader, conducting those prayer meetings. I think that’s very important as it communicates to everybody that it’s important. If the senior leader doesn’t lead those meetings, I believe he or she should be there and be extremely active.
I heard a story once about a very high ranking official from another nation wanted to meet with Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer. It was an extreme honor for that meeting to be made possible, yet Mike declined. The only time the official had time to meet was during Mike’s scheduled prayer shift. Mike already had a meeting with a higher ranking official, so he could not cancel it. I think we must have this type of commitment.
Over time I found myself getting a bit disturbed with my one hour prayer meetings before the services. Yes, they were extremely fervent and fiery. People were undone and praying boldly in the Spirit. It wasn’t the content that troubled me. It was the timing. If the church is, by definition, a house of prayer, why was the prayer meeting taking place before the church service started?
So, we changed things. We still prayed before the service, but we also moved it into the sanctuary. We didn’t stop praying when the service started. We didn’t bring on the worship team. We kept praying and launched the service with intercession. The first 15-20 minutes of the service was nothing but intense prayer. People would take turns boldly declaring the Word of God on the mic while the rest of the people would be on the faces or pacing around in raging prayer.
We’d then mix in worship and teaching, but prayer was the dominant force during the entirety of the service.
I’d encourage having one or two sessions of rapid fire prayer during your services as well. Invite people to line up and to pray bold prayers on the microphone, one after another. These are 5-10 second prayers that give everybody in the room a chance (and a challenge) to participate.
There’s a lot more I could share, but I’ll leave you a little hungry for more!
I’d love to hear about what’s going on in your church or region. Are you moving toward a prayer culture? What stories do you have? What questions do you have?
I’d love to come to your region to teach more on this. A weekend workshop could do wonders in your ministry!
Watch me teach on prayer and revival, learn more about the ministry and contact me at www.thefurnace.tv. Let’s connect!
Discover four powerful keys to experiencing an explosion of truth in your life!
All too often I run into some amazing Christian people who are standing strong and pressing in, but also experiencing frustration at the lack of impact the Word of God has in their lives.
God’s Word is a burning, exploding, penetrating and living message that should cause us to collapse to the ground while trembling—yet that is rarely the experience for so many discouraged people of God.
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me… Revelation 1:12
…I fell at his feet as though dead… Revelation 1:17
I know it’s popular today to attempt to read the Bible through in a year. Kudos to all who accomplish this!
I’d like to offer an alternate option: read a portion of a verse for a month. If we can speed through verses, chapters and books without being overwhelmed by the searing revelation, we need to slow down. Read one verse and let it rock you to the core.
For example, you could take the next month and let the first half of Revelation 1:10 provoke you:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day… Revelation 1:10
What does that portion of a single verse do to you? Oh, to be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day! We could spend hours crying out to God on that topic alone! Hours can turn to days as we break and repent for times we might have grieved the Holy Spirit. A holy hunger to never leave that supernatural realm would then begin to overtake us and our entire lives would shift for eternity! A fraction of a verse can, and should, do that!
Then, the next month can be devoted to the rest of the verse:
…and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet Revelation 1:10
My spirit jumps at the mere thought of such an experience!
A zealous determination to hear the voice of the Living God will consume us as we, after the previous month’s revelation, are trembling in the Spirit of the Almighty!
The Word of God, the Bible, is most certainly a living message that should take us to our knees in extreme passion! Sadly, for most, it rarely does.
Four Powerful Keys
1. REALLY BELIEVE IT.
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13
It’s at work in you who believe. Or, another way to say it: we must believe what we are reading for it to work.
Before I lose you, I know, of course, that we as Christians clearly affirm a belief in the Bible. The problem is that we are kidding ourselves. True belief is rare in today’s church.
Have you ever considered why so many messages on love, for example, have to be preached from the pulpit? So many don’t really believe that God loves them. They aren’t convinced.
There have been seasons where I have hit hard on the issues of holiness, repentance, the fear of the Lord and eternity. It never fails that someone submits a request for me to balance out the subject matter with teachings that focus mostly on God’s love. Of course, it’s true that the topic of love is inexhaustible, but that’s not the underlying argument. The reality they are communicating is that the discussion of God’s severity threatens their weak grasp on God’s love. They don’t believe God loves them—even though the Bible states it clearly, continually from cover to cover!
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love… 1 John 4:16
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
You see, if we really believed that God loved us, we would never be phased by other difficult truths.
It would behoove us to be settled on truths that God’s Word is settled on. We simply must believe the Bible!
When we believe the Bible, literally, everything changes. We will never be able to casually breeze through the pages of our Bible again!
Passages that previously bored us will ignite us! Just take a moment, grab your Bible, and open it up. Read. Believe. Let the hunger for a manifestation of what you just read electrify your spirit! Have some righteous anger over truths that have been dismissed or minimized in the past, and as a result have not manifested in your life!
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7
All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word. Psalm 119:160-161
God’s Word is true, no matter what our intellect or our situation may report.
A sure way to lose faith and fail to experience a life that is fueled by the power of the Word is to be led by our senses.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5
If you want the power, the burning and the trembling to cease (or to never be found), then reject anything in Scripture that isn’t verified via science, experience or common sense.
Yes, you must read the Bible and believe it, no matter what your circumstances or experiences or knowledge may be. God’s truth trumps all else—even supposed facts, proofs or testimonies.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
Throughout Scripture God defied common sense and brought man’s wisdom to nothing. We don’t have the capacity to grasp the mysteries of God in the natural, in our minds.
I dare you to read the Bible, be challenged by the impossible and refuse to doubt even for a moment. You will grow like a rocket!
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:18-22
2. DON’T REJECT IT.
We cannot reject the unpopular, difficult truths in Scripture. We must receive everything God’s Word communicates to us.
Today we are witnessing a tragedy in the church that I call Buffet Jesus. Jesus is the Word, according to Scripture, but his words are received in part instead of in full. Unpopular truths are passed by in favor of the sugary, more satisfying messages.
It is not possible to be a Biblical Christian if we only receive the parts of the Bible that are affirming, encouraging or uplifting. We can’t shut out the rebuke, discipline, judgment or severity of God because they don’t match our faulty worldview. When we do so, the entire counsel of God’s Word becomes compromised and tainted. Even the parts that are received are incomplete and were not meant to stand on their own.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13
Truth doesn’t only edify us. It corrects us. It troubles us. It judges us.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Too many refuse to be teachable due to their own pride or their rejection of anything that contradicts their picture of a perfect God. They shut down wisdom that threatens their utopia to their own detriment.
The Israelites rejected the way God was functioning when Moses was on the mountain (receiving the law, ironically enough) so they rejected him in favor of a man-made image. They fashioned the perfect God that fit their fleshly demands.
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.' Exodus 32:5-8
If we fashion our own golden calf, made up of compromised, incomplete and twisted truth, we are far from enjoying the fruit of a truly Biblical life.
3. ACCURATELY UNDERSTAND IT.
If we want to have the truth of Scripture manifest powerfully in our lives, we have to understand it. We must study and rightly interpret what it is saying.
It’s shocking how many verses are taught, declared and stood on completely out of context. It doesn’t make us evil people if we do this (if done in ignorance), but it does make us frustrated people!
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
For example, most people who I would connect with on a day to day basis would agree that God is the Healer and that we can experience divine health as Christians.
Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits– who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, Psalm 103:2-3
So, it’s common to pray for the sick and to cry out to God for him to heal them. And, the result, most often, is that the person remains sick. This can cause the truth of Scripture to become discouraging. In fact, the enemy can even cause people to reject the truth about healing in favor of a substitute teaching that matches what they are experiencing. How deadly this is!
If we understand Scripture we will know that nobody in the New Covenant ever prayed for God to heal anybody! The Apostles simply did it! The command wasn’t to pray to God to heal the sick, it was for us to heal the sick!
He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. Matthew 10:1
He gave them authority! So, we are to heal the sick, according to Scripture. When we pray for God to do it, that is contrary to the biblical protocol given to us.
Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:6-8
Jesus had to correct the misunderstanding of his disciples in Acts chapter 1:
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8
Imagine the scenario: Jesus had just been slaughtered on the cross before their very eyes. Graves then opened up as previously dead people started moving about, the sun turned to darkness, the earth quaked—and then, a few days later, the previously unrecognizable, bloodied man had miraculously defied death and was standing before them!
You can imagine their passion and excitement. They were ready for their Champion to set up his Kingdom. However, they misunderstood how it would all unfold. Instead of telling them how he’d set up his Kingdom, Jesus told them to wait for the Promise—and then revealed that they would be establishing the Kingdom on the earth, not him!
Then he disappeared as the disciples were gazing into the heavens.
Today so many Christians are doing the same thing. We are gazing into heaven waiting for Jesus to do what Jesus is not going to do! In Acts chapter 1, the disciples transitioned into being apostles—sent ones. Jesus said something important on the cross, “It is finished.” He’s done. What else do we want him to do? He has defeated death, hell and the grave! Now WE are to move out and do what he empowered and commanded us to do!
If we don’t correctly understand this truth, we will be greatly frustrated and will wonder why the Bible doesn’t seem to work powerfully in our lives.
Another example of misunderstanding Scripture to our own detriment can be found in Romans 8.
How often have we attempted to encourage a fellow Christian with verse 28? Maybe they have gone through a divorce or lost their job. The go to verse for so many is actually some of the worst counsel that you could give them!
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
A correct understanding of Scripture would result in quite a different bit of counsel. Verse 28 begins with the word and. That should clue us off. That verse is contingent on the preceding truth. Something else must happen in order for all things to work together for good. Let’s back up and take a look:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. Romans 8:26-27
When we are weak, we are instructed to groan in the Spirit! That is the counsel we should be giving to people who are going through difficulty! It’s in the place of groaning intercession where all things work together for good. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is praying through us perfectly in accordance with God’s will. When that happens, our love of God intensifies (just try it!) and God’s will becomes ours as we agree in prayer. We don’t know what we are agreeing with, but it doesn’t matter. Our trust in in God and he can do as he wishes. He then makes all things work!
One more example can be found in Matthew. Have you ever called a prayer meeting and only had two or three people show up? In order to encourage the few faithful who showed up, you probably pulled out Matthew 18:19-20:
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20
I’ve done that myself, though I’ve always been a bit troubled by the principle. If he’s there where two or three are gathered, is he distant when I’m alone?
So, I studied it out and found something quite interesting. Those verses aren’t about prayer or prayer meetings at all.
They are about church government!
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' Matthew 18:15-16
How interesting! Jesus is saying that he has our back when we go with two or three witnesses to deal with someone who is in sin and unrepentant! He’s giving us a protocol for church government!
I could go on and on with other examples, but I believe you understand the point. If we function with great intentions but contrary to Scriptural truth, we are bound to be disappointed with the results.
4. EXPERIENCE REVELATION OF IT.
It’s one thing to believe the Bible. It’s an entirely different thing to have a supernatural revelation of it.
We all must live and walk and pray in the Spirit, night and day, so we can have a never ending supply of revelation.
This is where so few Believers will go. If we aren’t living in the Spirit, we can’t presume to fully understand or believe the Word of God.
Check this out:
Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power (MIRACULOUS FORCE) through his Spirit (PNEUMA: BREATH, WIND, SPIRIT) in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend (SEIZE, POSSESS, APPREHEND) with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (DOESN’T EXIST IN THE VISIBLE REALM, OR EVENIN THE DREAM REALM), that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (WOW! FILLED, FULLNESS OF GOD!) 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power (MIRACULOUS FORCE) at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen
This miraculous force isn’t there to enhance what we see in the visible realm, or to give us the ability to dream a little bit more deeply…it’s there as a burning, blowing Spirit to take us on a journey into the invisible, supernatural realm.
Did you notice one of the most powerful miracles known to man revealed in verses 18 and 19?
We can comprehend and know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge! Wow!
This means that we can have a revelation of God that goes well beyond our mental, logical limits. Verse 20 goes on to say that he’ll do more than we could ask or think according to the power within us.
There is an invisible, supernatural realm that we are called to live in continually. When we do, the Word of God will transform us over and over again.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17
The word word (as in, word of Christ) is translated rhema. Rhema is the voice of God, the message of God that is delivered in real time. It’s God talking directly to us! Our faith isn’t increased as we simply read the Bible. It’s increased as we hear God’s voice, and that happens as we live in the Spirit!
…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Ephesians 6:17-18
Again, the word word (which is the sword of the Spirit) is translated rhema. It’s no mistake that the next part of the armor is praying at all times in the Spirit. When we live and pray in the Spirit, the rhema word of God will come to us, our faith will increase and we will advance with a powerful sword.
When the logos (the living, written Word) collides with the rhema as it’s stirred by the Spirit of God, our live in the Word will be alive, vibrant and active!
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
I’ll leave you with the passage I started with. Read it. Believe it. Understand it. Don’t resist it. Pray for overwhelming revelation of it. Let God rock you as the Holy Spirit burns through you. I pray that you will find yourself in the Spirit on the Lord’s day—and that his Word will transform your life!
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. Revelation 1:10-19