Concerning where we are in our training
Between our last training session and our next, I thought it best to recap and comment on our discussion on Acts 16.
As we have been focusing on the ministry of the Spirit, as well as the Word, we have been endeavoring to lay a foundation of practice in these 2 core building blocks of ministry, without which, we would tend to be ministering according to our flesh without lasting spiritual fruit. But what is often missed is the fact that just as in swimming, pulling and kicking are essential basic components to racing, the point is that they must be put together into winning ministry to the lost. Without that, these 2 activities are like 2 disembodied organs that were never meant to be activities unto themselves. God’s heart is burdened that none should perish, and it is when the love of God reaches to the world and to those who come to church in search of His reality that the combining Spirit and Word thrust forward in ministry!
Gearing up for the harvest – what to expect
In our last session we looked at Acts 16 as a model that portrays God’s building of a move of the Spirit in a place – a city, an organization, a neighborhood, a network of relationships, or a people-group. All of us are pregnant with the transformed souls of people in our places of witness – our Philippi! We are definitely engaged in a massive spiritual battle whether we’ve signed up for it or not! Here are some of the key components in the move of God:
1. “No” as “not this” (vs.6-10) – God often begins by guiding us into the field that He is calling us to. This happens often by closed doors, and what seem like No’s. These are not meant to discourage us, but to redirect and singularize us in the direction of the harvest field that He has us minister in. The result of taking No as guidance is a conviction that activates us in the right direction. Here, God is identifying the field and focusing us on it.
And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
2. Going to where God has evidenced His work of creating openness –
As a rule of thumb, it’s better to follow the path of His opening of doors to people’s hearts, than to go where people are not yet open, or to be directed by some objectified, formulated or systematic criterion for where to spend your time reaching out to people. The river was a place of prayer where people were seeking God. We need a nose and a feel for this. This can be developed, and often, openness is quite observable. As we pray more and more in the spirit, our senses are made more aware of this openness.
3. Recognizing Lydia – The opening of a person’s life and home to us is a very precious thing, and is often an indication of someone whom God has his hand on in relation to you and the mission. I’ve found that in the preparation for a move of God, there would always be a Lydia kind of person whom God uses greatly to advance the kingdom of His love. These key people often show a desire to learn, to be used by God, and a willingness to open their homes to others. Expect Lydia’s to show up. Dwell with them, and spend time with them.
4. Confronting the powers – Because the activation of a move of God is the result of a breach in the ranks of principalities and powers in the spiritual realm, spiritual battles are a necessary part of the process. In this case, the powers were manifesting themselves in the maid, and rulers and the mob.
There will inevitably be a resistance that can touch a variety of forms. This is because you are going in prayer “behind enemy lines.” There will invariably be attacks from the Enemy, but this only serves to confirm that you are connecting with real spiritual things, and the Enemy is feeling it.
The important thing to note here is that when things seem to go wrong, it is not a sign that God is not with you, or that you are in the wrong field. Quite the opposite may be in play. It’s almost as if the Enemy has shot at you, but he will not be able to take away anything essential from you. There may be a shaking off of things, relationships and freedoms that are not essential, but that is usually used by God to focus us.
5. The Tipping point – The persecution, imprisonment and restriction imposed upon Paul and Silas did not dampen their spirits, but called forth the irrepressible in them! God shakes off everything in us that can be pressed down, until only the irrepressible remains. And it is this that shakes the spiritual atmosphere. Definitely stay for this. This is the tipping point!
6. Now it’s your turn! – Now is the time to really go forth with boldness. The devil has had his turn; now it’s yours. Stay interceding in the spirit. For now, everything is in the spirit. The whole way in which you are moving transforms into a way conditioned by the now emboldened, sensitized and freed-up soul that has been set free by the warfare. Most people merely go by their senses, and give up when the things they have depended upon are removed. You may be reduced to sickness, unpopularity, and stuttering, with few who would give you any credibility. You may be marginalized, categorized and dismissed. But in the little space that you have left, make sure that your spirit has been growing in faith and in the apprehension of God in a way not dependent of circumstances and externals. That is the time to praise God and sing. That’s because the singing, praising, and speaking will be of a wholly different quality.
I believe, anyone who desires to see a move of God (harvest) will experience points 4-6 in some way. Many of us are, perhaps without realizing it, already at point 4. Do not be afraid. God will bring you through, and the reward is like no other. Points 1-3 are important as a foundation, and are good as we develop as witnesses. But the Harvest as a spiritually significant phenomenon involves the prayer in the spirit that confronts the powers. Fruitfulness requires at least 1-4. To see Harvest corporately, 4-6 is what we want to track with as we continue to meet corporately.