Jake was talking about chocolate with Adele , and had the picture of cadbury dark milk chocolate which was intended to have best of both milk and dark chocolate in one bar. He felt the Lord say “I didn’t intend my church to best of both; I want my church to be a light and to shine for me without being mixed with the darkness of this world. I want my church to be sold out for light and me, and not have the best of both.”
The following is an extract from ”Wheat in the Winepress,” where I am writing about the fleece, and what I felt there is for us to learn from this particular portion. The message is the same. I believe God wants us to get serious about Light.
Wet ground, dry fleece
“An old friend from Gloucestershire, whom I see occasionally at prophetic gatherings, had a vision recently. In the vision she heard the sound of an old-fashioned typewriter, very loud, filling the room with the clack-clack-clack sound of the keys on the paper. Then she saw the typewriter, an old black upright machine. According to the way she told the story, there was no hand actually on the typewriter, but words were being formed. Instead of coming out of the top, the paper was coming out of the side, so the message was creating a banner. It said – this was in normal sized type –
“Some of my people are living dangerously”
Then in very large letters, the single word: MIXTURE
Some of us are mixing the flesh and the spirit; the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world. Perhaps a public ministry – and a little bit of private sin. Declaring God’s faithfulness – and being faithless in marriage. God in our Sunday conversations and in our quiet times – and a critical spirit and judgemental tongue for those close to us at other times. There are many ways of living this mixture, but there is only one truth: “the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another” (Gal. 5:17).
Isaiah exhorts God’s people (Isa. 48:20) to “Go forth from Babylon”, and many scholars read this as being an exhortation to be separate from the world’s systems. Looking to the book of Revelation, when the cry goes out from the third angel that “Babylon has fallen”, we read that anyone who receives the mark of the beast “shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Rev. 14:10). There is no certain interpretation of these scriptures, but one thing is clear: as God’s chosen people we have been called out of the world, its systems and its ways; out of darkness and into the “marvellous light” of the Lord Jesus. Anything that is not separation is mixture, and God tells us that mixture is dangerous. And so we come back to the fleece, which on the second night was not touched by the water all around it.”
(From Wheat in the Winepress Chapter 6: “Know your God: the fleece.”)
I have picture inspired by my cat while it was circling me and occasionally nudging me whilst I was sitting in the garden. I felt God saying through this: “At this time I am protecting you and guarding you all. I will be nudging my people, and this will be different for everyone. Sometimes it’s a nudge to say it’s ok I’m with you, a comforting nudge; for others it’ll be like a nudge saying “It’s time to move.”
Also, as He is the Lion of Judah, I felt that through the cat image God was also saying: “Cats don’t need our attention just as God doesn’t need our affection, but also, just like cats that sense when we need them and come close to us, the Holy Spirit does the same with us.”
We know that scripture says He will never leave us nor forsake us, but what Jake is underlining here is that there are times when we really need to know that in our experience, then He lets us know how close He is.
Some people may find the following notes on the prophetic ministry useful. I put this together a few years ago: as far as I remember, it was gleaned from various sources:it’s not just my teaching. Apart from these notes, the other posts in this section are from specific school of prophesy sessions that we have held at Wildwood Church.
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.”(I Cor 12 4-5)
The Gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit distributes gifts AS HE WILLS. Anyone in a meeting can bring a prophesy (1 Cor 12:10) Although a prophesy can refer to the future, a Holy Spirit gift of prophesy usually refers to His heart and desire for the church at the present time.
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:12)
When did you last drink of the Spirit? How well do you know Him? 1 Cor 12 vs 7-11 describes the activity of the Holy Spirit in the church. He is like the central nervous system, sending different types of signals round the body. Where the nervous system isn’t working this leads to loss of feeing and paralysis.
A church, or an individual, that is paralysed and lacking in compassion is one that is not open to the signals of the Holy Spirit. So how do we recognise the “signal” that comes as a gift of prophesy?
A person bringing a prophesy is not necessarily a prophet. In the same way someone who cares for another isn’t necessarily a pastor; someone sharing the gospel with their neighbour isn’t necessarily an evangelist. But just as we are all called to love one another and to share the gospel, we can all be expectant of receiving a word from the Holy Spirit that will edify the church.
Paul tells us: “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy… He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Cor 14 1-4)
To edify means to build up. Jesus said “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). It is the same Greek word as the one Paul uses. Each time we bring a prophesy by a gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is building His church.
Types of “Signals” Subjective A “picture”. A mental image, that can be very clear and detailed, or may be more like a simple diagram. A picture is usually symbolic to some degree or another: God may give one person the picture, and somebody else the meaning. A word, phrase or sentence that just comes into your head. Sometimes it is incomplete: the Holy Spirit gives you the rest of it once you have opened your mouth in obedience. A Bible verse that just comes to you. All these “subjective” signals will not follow logically from what is being said. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. When He speaks to us it usually cuts across our train of thoughts. If someone gives “a word from the Lord” that follows logically from something that is being said it is likely to be from their own thinking rather than from the Lord.
Objective Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us through our senses. Something we see, or some words of a worship song, just resonates with our Spirits, and God will use it to bring a message to the church. For example – Paul probably saw a Roman soldier, then gave us the message about the Armour of God. The bible is full of symbols and imagery: symbolic language can create a bridge between the spiritual and natural realms. Talk to the Lord about what you see around you, and ask Him to speak to you through it. Eg Amos 8:2 – “What do you see, Amos?” He asked. “A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered. Then the LORD said to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.”
Dreams Be aware that God speaks through dreams. The Bible is full of them. His dreams are usually particularly vivid and coherent, and linger in the memory a bit longer than others. But you need to write them down, or you will forget. If you have a smartphone keep it by your bed and use either the audio recording or the dictation function to record any dreams as soon as you wake. They are usually full of symbols: talk about it and pray about it with someone else if you feel God is speaking through a dream but you can’t make sense of it yourself. If we ask God for wisdom He promises to give it. The more you pay attention to your dreams the more you are likely to find God speaking to you through them.
Visions An “open vision” is much more rare. It is likely to have heightened significance for the church, or even beyond the church. A vision can be associated with a time of prayer and fasting, and is often (though not exclusively) given to a more senior minister. Example – Peter, “Kill and eat!” (Acts 10 :9-16) All the above must “exhort, edify and comfort” All must be in keeping with the Word of God All, even admonishments, must be a clear expression of love. Weigh everything, especially if it is directional.
The Ministry Gift of the Lord Jesus
Jesus gave ministry gifts to the church : Ephesians 4 :11-16 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” A prophet is somebody whom God has raised up to be available to bring His word to the Church with a degree of authority that isn’t usually present in the operation of the Holy Spirit gift of prophesy. For example, a prophet might
Call the church to repentance
Receive words of knowledge and very specific words of encouragement for particular individuals
Bring strategic words to the church or church leadership requiring decisions and action
Expose falsehood and works of the flesh hiding behind a mask of religion
Discern the strategy of the enemy and point it out to the church
Encourage the body into more freedom and depth of worship
Make connections between people and ministries
“Prepare the way of the Lord” – just as John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Jesus of Nazareth, so today’s prophet prepares the way for the returning King.
Equip and be used in raising up other prophets
Bring revelation and encouragement to the church in the operation of the gifts of the Holy spirit, particularly the gift of prophesy
Declare future events, sometimes with attendant confirming signs – Luke 2:12 “ And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
The purpose of the prophet and the goal of the prophetic ministry is always “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”
A prophet will either have a leadership role within a church, or his ministry will be recognised and endorsed by the leaders. An individual cannot operate in the authority of the prophetic ministry without being in submission to leadership. “Everything must be done decently and in order” (1Cor 14:40). An individual cannot be used to build the body of Christ if he or she is broken off from it.
“The gifts and calling of God are without repentance”… however, to function effectively in this calling, a prophet needs to
Know God’s word. Not just read it, but try and memorise sections if the Holy Spirit highlights them.
Spend time in “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit”. The Holy Spirit is the one who brings us the words from the Lord. The prophet needs to cultivate His presence, be sensitive to His voice, and seek His company, even more than other people.
Be a worshipper. Worship is crucial to developing intimacy with God.
Spend time in intercession. If God is going to trust us with words for His people, we need to committed to praying for them. This doesn’t mean He will only give us words for the people that we pray for; it means that if we pray for people our love for them will grow, and love is the foundation for all ministry.
Allow God – and people – to work on his character
Have a servant attitude. In the world system the person who leads others, brings wisdom and gives direction is given status and promotion. However in the Kingdom of God we are a) all one body, so no single member has dominance over another; b) servants of one another “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matt 23:11), and c) “unprofitable servants” of the King (Luke 17:10) who are doing no more than carrying out our orders. We will receive our reward in Heaven; we are not to expect it on Earth.
“I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23)
The unity between the Father, the Son, and the church is complete: this is the pinnacle of all that Jesus came to achieve.
If Jesus prayed for it we can achieve it. If we learn to recognise his voice and ignore others we can keep in step with Him, because Unity with God is our goal, not cultivating fruits to try and be godly – this leads to religion, failure and shame, and takes us away from the purpose He has created us for, which is to walk with Him. If we call on Him He will reach out and bring His peace and presence: He doesn’t care how far away we feel.
If we seek God with all our hearts we will deliver His gifts in His love and under His direction. if we seek gifts without seeking Him we operate in our own strength and risk delivering pride and clanging cymbals.
The new testament is full of examples of how to be like Jesus, in Unity with the Father; and full of ways to develop and train our minds and bodies to walk in that unity.
We need to be in his peace to hear his voice, so we must diligently seek that peace. That is the place of unity with God, and from there we can operate in his power, by His Spirit. If we lose it, we must go back and find it – don’t keep going in agitation. The longer we spend out of it, the messier our lives can get. Every negative word can weaken it: God want us to get every word right – it’s not enough just to be “good”. The biggest victories in our lives – and the salvation of those around us – will come as we diligently seek to walk in unity with one another and, most of all, with Jesus and the Father. It’s by that, and not by our evangelistic efforts or our attempts at goodness, that the world will know that the Father sent His Son because He loved it so much.
This was the first SOP that we did. I can’t believe we started in 2014! I started out writing up detailed notes like this, but that didn’t last long… But I’ve been thinking about this message lately, as well as a couple of other things that I’ve shared over the years, and I think they are worthrevisiting. As far as this one goes, the Lord wants us ready, with our axe-heads sharp…
The story is in 2 Kings 6 vs 1-7
“And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us.“
Elisha is one of the most complete Old Testament types of Jesus. Miracles he performed include raising the dead, healing the sick and multiplying food, among others. Historically, the “sons of the prophets” were probably young disciples of Elisha, living in community with him in order to learn the prophetic ministry. Figuratively, we can see them as types of ourselves; children – “sons” – of the Living God, living in fellowship with Him, learning from Him.
The place where we dwell with Him is too small. God wants us to “stretch forth the cords of our tents”; to see His Kingdom extended in and through us. He want us to give Him more room in our lives; He wants to build His church
“Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.” So he answered, “Go.”
The symbolism of the river suggest the River of Life; “Rivers of Living Water”: in other words the Holy Spirit. We cannot give Jesus more room in our lives and see His church built unless we go to the River; using the resources (the gifts) that the Holy Spirit provides, and dwelling in close fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Every “Son” is to take a beam – everyone has their own contribution. God has called everybody in the church to play a specific role; to take their own beam to build the place where they will dwell with the Lord.
This is a corporate task: each individual making their own contribution to the building. It’s a new testament picture of shared life and fellowship, not the “billiard ball” model common today of meeting together once a week and bouncing off each other to our separate corners until the next meeting.
Like everyone else, the prophets work together to help build the place where Jesus is glorified.
Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.”
Was Elisha testing them to see if they would want to go on their own? We cannot know, but we do know that on another occasion, on the Emmaus road, “Jesus continued on as if he were going farther,” (Luke 24:28) and the disciples “urged Him strongly” to stay with them.
Do we ask Jesus to “go with us” in all that we do? Jesus always wants us to ask Him to come with us. We know that He has promised to be with us always, but that doesn’t mean we take Him for granted: it is in the asking, the prayer, that we build our relationship with Him. That is what He is looking for.
“Then one said”. Only one asked Elisha; not the whole group. If that “one” hadn’t opened his mouth, would Elisha have gone with them? Would the iron have floated, and given us this wonderful story for our edification? Sometimes God will give someone a word, and because they are reticent He moves on and gives it to someone else. But sometimes,”one”, a single person, has the job of saying what is on God’s heart. If one of us is given a prophetic word to share, it is our responsibility to do so. If Elisha hadn’t been invited along, the axe head would have been lost forever. If we are given an opportunity to bring to bring Jesus into somebody’s situation through prophetic ministry and fail to do so, their “axe head” might be gone forever.
So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees.
Before the dwelling is built, there is preparation to do. Before God brings revival, resources must be in place, and space must be cleared in our lives to make room for God’s work. A piece of wood that is used for building no longer draws on the sap that originally gave it life. For God to build with us, we can no longer draw on those things which gave us life before we knew Him. Can God build with us, or do we keep trying to run back to the stump that we were cut from?
Each individual was engaged in cutting down trees. The building may not have been visible, but they had a common vision and each one was engaged in the activity of preparation. We don’t wait until we see the building before we put our hands to the work: we prepare in faith. Two points arise: do we see the vision that we are working towards? How clear is it? How big is it – God-big, or just man-big?
When we waited on the Lord at the end of the meeting, a word was given to Andrew about the plans for Park Life: “It is too small a thing”. The plans for the church may stretch our faith, but God wants our faith stretched further than just a building.
And the second point, which actually came out in a conversation on Sunday, is this: if we believe we have heard from God but cannot see how His purpose can be accomplished, that is not our problem. We can still start “cutting down trees” – preparing our minds, our hearts, our resources. How the “dwelling” will be built is in God’s hands, and He will accomplish it by His Spirit.
Moving on to the effectiveness of our own ministries – our “axes” – how good is our cutting edge? As one woodcutter said to another:
“Why are you taking so long to cut down that tree?” “It’s because my axe is blunt” “Why don’t you sharpen it then?” “Because I’m too busy trying to cut down this tree!”
It is through prayer that we keep our axes sharp.
But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron axe head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.
A borrowed axe head speaks of a “borrowed” ministry; one that we have not made our own. Do we rely on somebody else to bring the word that we think the Holy Spirit may be speaking to us? Do we say “this isn’t really my responsibility – I’ll let him or her do it – they’re much better than me anyway…?
God wants us to chop with our own axes, and be responsible for them. The way one person will bring a word is unique to them. He wants us to support each other, but He doesn’t want us to lean on each other. So the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float
Did his axe fall into the water because it was blunt? A lost axe head in our lives might be a work that we started that ran out of steam, an opportunity that disappeared – a myriad of places where we, for whatever reason, may have lost our grip on something that God has given us to do. It may be that the work stopped because it was not sufficiently covered in prayer; it may be for any other reason. The Holy Spirit says to us “where did it go wrong?”, and (with His guidance) we will see where we lost our effectiveness, or where the work stopped. And He will show us why.
The stick thrown in speaks of the Cross: we have to come to the cross, quite possibly in repentance, and seek God’s grace, and He will make the iron float. It will be a supernatural work.
Therefore he said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out his hand and took it.”
From a wider perspective, the lost, borrowed, axe-head can represent the “lostness” of living without Jesus; life, that is not our own but belongs to God, falling into a lost Eternity. Only when we reach out to Jesus is Life supernaturally restored to us.
Again, in the context of the prophetic ministry, God is asking us to reach out and take hold of our own axe head. If the man was able to reach out and take hold of it, it must have been close to him. Moving on in the prophetic ministry that we feel God may be leading us into is not way out there, in the middle of the deep water, unreachable for any except the most spiritual, the most mature, the strongest swimmers: it’s right by the bank, close to our feet. God is calling us to reach down, pick it up, and make it our own.
Just over three years ago (on May 1 2017) the Lord spoke to us powerfully one Sunday about “digging ditches.” I reflected on it and wrote a piece that I think went into Wildwood Today (or Wildwood Yesterday…) I think it is very relevant for now, and the Holy Spirit wants to remind us of what He said. So here is what I wrote at the time:
On Sunday three words brought under the prompting of the Holy Spirit converged into one message. Jake brought a prophetic word, Marion brought a message from a conference she had attended on Friday, and I shared a scripture that I had read earlier that morning. When this happens God really wants to get our attention: we need to take hold of what He is saying and ask Him where we need to apply it to our lives. To do anything less is disobedience.
Jake brought a passionate word from Jesus, on the subject of sacrifice. The Lord was saying to us (I paraphrase, but hopefully this was the essence of the message): “I sacrificed everything for you. I suffered and died on the cross so that you could experience a personal relationship with me. But what do you sacrifice? What will you sacrifice so that you can live in my presence?”
Marion had been impacted at the Revival fires Conference with an exhortation from Lilian De Fin (Smith Wigglesworth’s great granddaughter) to “Dig ditches”. We need to dig ditches in our valleys if we want the water of revival to flow in. (Read the story in 2 Kings 3)
The scripture I had been reading before the service was from Heb 6:11-15: “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.”
So this is how I think we can join up the dots: Jesus is longing for us to experience a lifesyle of living in His presence, but is saying we need to consider our willingness to sacrifice. Are we being diligent, pursuing His promises through faith and patience, or are we being “sluggish”? Linda had a word at School of Prophesy earlier this year: “Eagerly desire the higher gifts. Eagerly desire. Eagerly desire!” Are we prepared to dig ditches, or are we sitting back and waiting for the water to flow down our valleys? God promises multiplication; He promises that the water will come, but it’s conditional on our willingness to sacrifice. The problem with digging ditches is that we probably like our valleys the way they are! So what areas is the Holy Spirit asking us to put the spade into and dig out? Do we eagerly desire the spiritual gift of a word of healing in a busy supermarket, or is the valley of our self-consciousness too precious to excavate? There is no doubt that sacrificial giving is part of the road to Park Life. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom” (Luke 6: 38). Are we really willing to dig into the comfortable valley of our financial security to inherit this promise “through faith and patience?”, or do we leave that bit of it to someone else? We all have our valleys that the Holy Spirit is longing to fill with the presence of God, to bring the multiplication He promises. Our part is to get before the Lord and say, “Lord, actually this is Your valley, not mine. Where shall I start digging?”
It is a dangerous prayer, and you can be certain He will answer it. Sometimes you know already what He will point to, sometimes it will be a surprise; but one thing we can be sure of: the result will always be a blessing. “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that He has prepared beforehand, that we might walk in them (Eph 2:10). He calls us to walk with Him, in His presence. As we do, we walk into what He has prepared beforehand. Who does the works that we walk in, in His presence? He does. Without Him, we can do nothing; but for Him, nothing is impossible.
“You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, And show favor to her dust” (Ps 102 vs 13-14)
It’s been a global phenomenon of lockdown that we are finding ways of actually being closer to each other than we were before. Zoom and other digital meetings proliferate. People outside the church tune into our Sunday services. Joschi joins us for School of Prophesy from Germany, and we meet weekly instead of monthly. I’ve just come from a family Zoom get-together in which one of our nephews face-timed his mum and dad (in Scotland) from Canada, and my sister-in-law put her phone up to the computer camera so we were all connecting with him- from Scotland, Sussex, Hertfordshire and Stafford. Nationwide, international, double digital. We are all Christians. Each of us in the Church of Christ is a “living stone,” so the verse from Psalm 102 – “Your servants take pleasure in her stones” has never been truer.
When I was preparing for this SOP I felt this verse jumped out of my Bible reading and was yet another nudge from the Lord that He wants us to be prepared for a new outpouring. How do we do that? “Whatever He says to you, do it,” is the much-quoted instruction from the Lord’s mother at the Wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus will often operate supernaturally within the context of the ordinary normal, which He will then turn upside down. But in order to do “whatever,” and so see the Kingdom come, we cannot be attached to the expectations of the world or the desires of the flesh. “But you can’t use THOSE stone pots – they are for purification!” “Oh, but yes I can…!” Whatever He says to you, do it, however counter-intuitive it may seem. If we do, and only if we do, we will see His favour poured out, like the wine at the wedding.
Finally, when this “best wine” is poured out, what are the waterpots it will come from? That would be you and me. We need to make sure we stay full, filled with His Holy Spirit, because we don’t know when He is going to come and turn on the tap. When the wine flows the wedding guests will enjoy the favour of God, and the world will want to come to the party. Are we ready? Because the set time has come.
Jesus sent out the 70 “as lambs in the midst of wolves.” What do we know about the 70 “lambs,” and what can we learn from them?
The only thing we know about them as people is that none were of the 12, because Luke 10:1 tells us: “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also.” (As a bit of an aside, if any of the 12 thought they had any priority access to Kingdom authority, the sending out of 70 relatively untrained “others” will have dealt with that one!) Some of them might have only just joined the crowd of followers when the “great multitude” met Jesus after the transfiguration; some may have been among the 5,000 that were fed not long beforehand. We don’t know; but what we do know is that they were all either total or relative rookies. Yet they came back saying, “even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”
What do we learn from their exploits? For their part, they had to rely totally on God for provision -“Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals …And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the labourer is worthy of his wages.” Also they had to stay focussed on their mission and avoid all distractions – “and greet no one along the road.”
For the Lord’s part, He gave them the anointing of His Spirit, and the authority of His Kingdom rule in the command to heal the sick and declare that the Kingdom of God had come near through them. We don’t know why He picked that particular 70, except that they were “babes” as opposed to the “wise and prudent.” But they were babes with authority – “the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy,” and their names were written in Heaven. No wonder Jesus rejoiced when they came back: He had just seen a microcosm of His Church in action.
So to be effective lambs bringing the Kingdom of God into the wolf-pack we need to trust Him completely for for three things: The supply of His provision to meet our own material needs, The supply of His anointing the meet the spiritual and physical needs of others, The understanding and awareness of His authority to manifest Kingdom rule through our ministry. That’s it. No qualifications, no probationary period, no minimum length of service; just faith, authority in the name of Jesus, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
And finally, we have to be sure that we really are going as lambs. Are there any “wolfish” aspects to our own characters? We need to spend time in the presence of the Lamb Himself, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them, because they allow the “power of the enemy” into our own lives. The good news is that we have the authority of the name of Jesus to trample over them. That is something we all need to do, whenever wolfishness rises up.
The fields are white unto harvest. Are we ready? Baaa!
I am going to try to write up a summary of our S.O.P meetings, starting with today’s. Where I’ve got enough notes and can remember enough detail I’ll see if I can add some previous S.O.P.’s as well.
School of Prophesy 16 May 2020
“Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, “I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Moreover David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam 17 3-37)
God prepared David for his battle with Israel’s enemies by teaching him to trust that God was with him at all times to deliver him “from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear.” The first question we asked ourselves today was this: “If we are currently in a time of preparation during this lockdown, what “lions and bears” are we facing, and what “Goliaths” might be round the corner? Whatever battles we face now, whether it’s health, provision, loneliness, fears and doubts, or whatever else, God wants us to know that He is “with us to deliver us;” so that we grow in faith and confidence for when we face bigger challenges. Let us be aware that God is totally in control of everything that comes or way, so that through it we can grow in faith and sanctification. He is the perfect teacher, planning our individual lessons in advance…
Saul’s armour: David couldn’t even walk in it. But equipped with God’s gifting (the sling and stones) and trusting in God’s presence with him, he actually ran towards the enemy. We must take off the armour of the past, of tradition, or our own strength, of the flesh. If we even try to walk in it, we fall over. We cannot walk in the spirit if we wear the armour of the flesh. God wants us free to run, confident in the gifting that He has equipped us with and trained us to use. We need to give the Holy Spirit permission to show us specific pieces of the “the armour of Saul” that we are particularly attached to, and we need to throw them away. We can’t wear the armour of God over any bits of the armour of Saul. More than that, it actually blocks out our ability to hear God and to be sensitive to the needs of others.
Before attacking Goliath, David prophetically proclaimed the victory that he knew God had given him: “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you.” What battles are we facing? Do we believe God has given us the victory? Let’s proclaim it in faith! This faith isn’t worked up: it is God given, and has to be received in the Spirit. But when a word of that seed-faith is declared it has all the authority of Heaven behind it: the giant has to fall; the mountain has to move. The God who was with David against Goliath is the same God who is with us today.
The defeat of Goliath wasn’t just to get the Philistines off Israel’s backs: two higher purposes are revealed. One is in verse 46: “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,” and the next one follows immediately afterwards: “”Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s” (v.47) God’s stated purpose in giving David victory over Goliath more than 3000 years ago was that we, the church, would always know that the battle, every battle, is the Lord’s.
The enemy has Goliaths waiting. How are we getting on with our lions and bears? Are we practising our gifts? Are we still clanking around in any fleshly armour?
Muyiwa gave us four scriptures to conclude: Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:2, Deuteronomy 33:27, and 1 Pe 4:12-13
In Numbers 3-4 we read of the specific tasks allotted to the Levites. Unless our Bible study resources take us to the books of the Law, we (or is it just me??) tend to pass over these sections of Scripture in favour of the sweeping narratives of Samuel and Kings, the beauty and the raw emotion of the Psalms, the wonders of the prophets and of course the Grace-filled New Testament. But if we want to encounter the holiness of our God we will find Him above the place of atonement in the tabernacle of Moses. We too easily humanise our Heavenly Father. Yes, He is Abba. Yes, He welcomes us into His arms. Yes, He sings a song of love over us. But His accessibility by the blood of Jesus and His presence among us does not dilute the awesomness of His majesty. As C.S. Lewis famously said in the Chronicles of Narnia, He is not a tame lion. While we inhabit our tents of flesh we cannot see Him as he is (1 John 3:2), but this does not diminish who He is among us. Because Grace had not been given (one could say that Moses was the exception) the Levites only had a detailed set of regulations to keep them safe from destruction as they carried out their duties. The power that emanates from His being and permeated through all the sacred objects is like the electricity coursing through overhead power cables: touch it and you die. Such was – such is – the power that if any of the Kohathites, whose job was to transport the ark on their shoulders, even looked at a part of the load that was not their designated area, they would be destroyed. When God was allocating the tasks He gave specific instruction to Moses regarding the Kohathites “that they may live and not die when they approach the most holy things.”
The pure perfection of creative love that made and powers the Universe is not cuddly daddy. This is the power that raised Jesus from the dead. This is the cable that is coiled inside our spirits. Because we have the insulation of the blood of Jesus we can grasp the power line, but because we can grasp it without being destroyed does not diminish it at all: it just gives us an understanding of the power the blood of Christ.
Gifted for Service
We are called into the Kingdom, and gifted for our service to the King, for the same purpose that our Old Testament counterparts were appointed to, which is to is to take the land. Romans 11:29 tells us that “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” This was written about the salvation of the nation of Israel, but it applies to each one of us in the church today.
The Kohathites, and the other two Levite families, the sons of Gershon and Merari, were given their tasks for a specific purpose: the Tabernacle where God dwelt among His people had to be transported into the promised land, where He planned for His holy presence to drive out the occupying idolatrous Canaanites. In the Old Testament, as in the New, the servants of God were appointed tasks so that the works of the evil one could be destroyed and the Kingdom of God established in the Land. As we move forward in the giftings and ministries that we feel God has called us into let us be aware of the holiness of the tabernacle that we are carrying.
A Caleb Spirit
“But there are giants!” whimpered all the leaders except Joshua and Caleb. And indeed there were. But it seemed like those giants knew more about the power and presence of God than the Israelites He was dwelling among: “They have heard that You, LORD, are among these people; that You, LORD, are seen face to face and Your cloud stands above them, and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.” (Num 14:14) We know the story. Caleb and Joshua knew their God: “Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.” (Num 14:9). Sadly, their compatriots didn’t. Caleb, we are told, “had a different spirit”. Joshua had an insatiable hunger for the presence of God, which we read about in Exodus 33v11: “So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” When God speaks of Caleb and Joshua the phrase He uses is that they “wholly followed the Lord.” They were yoked to Him.
For us to take the Land that God has led us to, wherever and whatever it is, two things are needed. We need that Caleb spirit, that knows that whatever the difference in strength and power may be between ourselves and the giants we face, that pales into insignificance when compared to the difference between those giants and the God who is with us. And we need to realise that it is not us who take the land, but God, by the supernatural power of His Holy Spirit. There will be giants, and giants can only be defeated supernaturally. If we, the church, will transport the holy presence of God into enemy-occupied territory, the gates of hell shall not prevail against us. God will clear the ground before us and we will sow seeds that bear fruit. What a high calling! And what satisfaction, what rest for the soul, to know that I am carrying my bit of the Ark on my shoulders.