Saturday, September 17, 2016

Empty Me, Of Me

"Empty Me, of Me"

II Kings 4:1-7

Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.

2 And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.

3 Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.

4 And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.

5 So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out.

6 And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.

7 Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.
I has been my experience that there is nothing that attracts the attention of the Lord like emptiness. When I was in school I learned that there is a law of nature that states: nothing remains empty, it must be filled, and it will be filled. This fact makes clear to me this morning three critical points regarding emptiness:
  1. Emptiness is a choice
  2. We will all eventually be filled with something
  3. What we are filled with is up to us.
Since nothing can remain empty by nature, it is imperative that we realize that the condition of emptiness is intentional. We must by a deliberate act of our wills choose to be emptied.
In our story we are not told what the various substances the borrowed vessels contained prior to being emptied, but we know that in order to be filled with the oil they had to first be emptied. We are likewise not told what condition they were found in when they were borrowed. They may have been dirty, cast aside and forgotten, they may have been imperfect, or cracked and broken. Regardless of the condition they were found in, regardless of what purpose they had served before, in order for them to be used as a blessing they need to be emptied of all unnecessary material, and made available before they could be filled with the oil (anointing).
We, like the borrowed vessels, may have things that need to be emptied from our lives, we may be imperfect, broken even, but we have to be emptied of all the unnecessary junk in our hearts and made available for His use before the anointing of God can be poured out into our hearts. We have to be emptied of everything that is of no use to God, anything that will hinder the anointing from being manifest in our bodies, so that we can be a blessing to others. Let me put it simply: We have to die, kill the old man, so that the life of Jesus can be manifest in our bodies.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
It’s an attitude and disposition of the heart that places our lives before God as hopeless, helpless, and powerless. It is a life wholly given up to God. It is a life that is totally sustained by God. The only life that can be wholly sustained by God is a life that is wholly surrendered to God. The branch draws its life from the vine when it ceases to live for itself, and lives to bring glory and honor to the vine.
Against Israel’s enemy God chose what seemed like a very foolish weapon: A Clay Pot and a Candle.
Judges 7:16
And he –Gideon divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.
No swords, spears, knives, or even shields. Just a trumpet, a clay pot and a candle.
Judges 7:20
And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.
What was it that made the pitcher valuable to Gods purpose? Not their beauty, not their particular shape or design, not what they had done in the past, not whose house they had come from, or because they were made out of silver or brass or Gold, but the things that made them valuable to God’s purpose are the same things that makes us valuable to him today:
  1. They were available
  2. They were empty – Fillable
  3. They were breakable.
We are too often only available for what we want, too full of what we like, and too proud to be broken.
Galatians 2:20
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
The Cross is the key to receiving the anointing. The power of the Holy ghost can only come to those who have fully entered into a surrendered life at the foot of the cross. Before we can have the power of the resurrection we must first be crucified to our flesh – the “Old man” must die. We can only know the power of His resurrection, by sharing in the fellowship of His suffering.
The cross is not for sin, but for self. Yes, Jesus’ death and substitutionary sacrifice was to deliver us from the power of sin, but the cross was not a substitutional act - "one died for all, so all must die.' We must all experience in ourselves the full weight of the cross. The cross is God’s death sentence not only toward sin, but upon the “self” life. The “self” life keeps us from experiencing the Power of God. The Power that comes through the baptism of the Holy Ghost comes only to those who are willing to bear in their body the death of the Lord Jesus, so that the life of Jesus can be manifested in the place of the “self” life.
Jesus said that he was the vine, and we are the braches. Only as the branch gives up its own life can it be sustained and empowered by the life of the vine to produce the fruits of righteousness that glorify God and lead to life. The fruits of the “self” life, can only produce self-righteousness which seeks to glorify self and eventually lead to death.
When we quit trying and start trusting, and quit wrestling and start nestling we will experience the power and anointing of the Holy Ghost. Jacob did not prevail over the angel in his strength but in his weakness. Just as Jacob was broken, so the cross breaks us and empties us of us, so that even though we may be imperfect, broken vessels, God can fill us and use us to glorify Himself.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Effectual Prayer

Exodus 17:8-13
Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
When I was a young man I would sit and watch the TV show “Hee Haw” with my grandfather, he loved that show. I remember they always had this one skit where a bunch of old drunks would sit around and commiserate their bad luck in life. They had a theme song they would sing before and after they told you had bad their life had gotten. It went like this:

Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
Gloom despair and agony on me

Have you ever been in a situation where it seems like life has thrown everything your way except the kitchen sink, and then bam, here comes the kitchen sink? And it begins to feel like the theme song from that old “Hee Haw” skit, is the theme song for your life? Have you ever felt as if there was a target painted on your back, or that you had one of those signs that says, “Hey! Kick me.”

Have you ever felt like your problems weren’t just your average every day, normal life’s problems? Well then, let me Introduce you to the spiritual realm. You have just entered the place where every battle is won or lost. The reality is that we are always in a battle, and the reality is, that it is a spiritual battle. The enemy is always at work trying to draw you away from God, trying to destroy your families, and to steal your health, your peace, and your joy. Ultimately his goal is to kill you. That’s what Jesus said in John 10:10 - Says – “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.” (NLT)

The thing is, he often gets by with it. The enemy is effective at his work, because he is a master at getting you to focus on the natural. The devil knows that if he can get you to expend all your energy on fighting and struggling and warring in the flesh, that you are already defeated. Spiritual battles can never be won by natural means.

Spiritual battles can never be won on physical grounds with physical weapons. Spiritual battles must be fought with spiritual weapons. That’s why the Apostle Paul told us in Ephesians 6:12 – “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (KJV)

Our battle is Spiritual. Your enemy is not your neighbor, he’s not that person that makes your life miserable, he’s not the IRS, the DMV, the DHS, or the DEA. Your enemy is not drugs, alcohol, nicotine, video games, the TV, pornography, the internet, fornication, or adultery. And your enemy is not sickness, disease, poverty, or hunger. Yes, all these things may be manifest against us, but they are just masks the enemy wears, but your enemy and mine, is the DEVIL!

The good news is: We Have been given Spiritual weapons to fight this battle.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (KJV)

In Exodus 17:8-13 Joshua and the children of Israel are in a very real physical confrontation. The Amalekites are not imaginary, that are a real enemy that hated the Children of God and wanted to destroy them. This symbolizes how the enemy uses the natural (The visible, and tangible) things to war against us.

No doctor will examine a person and diagnose them with alcoholism and say to them, “It’s a demon.” No, because they can only see the natural. But we know that disease may manifest itself in the natural, but its roots are spiritual. That’s why sickness is healed spiritually through faith in the stripes that Jesus bore, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sickness and disease came with the fall. Sin and Sickness are the double curse. But the blood and the stripes are the double cure: The blood for our sins, and the stripes for our Sicknesses.
Moses said: “I will stand on top of the hill.” The hill represents prayer. Prayer is represented by a hill for two reasons: First because real prayer is hard work, and second because the mountain represents a higher realm that is far above the natural.

The rod of God in my hand. What is the significance of the rod of God? First it represents the Word of God. Prayer receives its intensity and power through the Word of God. To pray with power, you must pray the Word. Second, the rod represents the authority we have as the children of God. When Moses hands were raised with the rod of God the children of Israel prevailed, but when his hands and the rod began to fall Amalek prevailed.

If you see that the enemy seems to be gaining ground in your life, the first thing you need to do is ask the questions: First, How’s my prayer life?  Second, How’s my Word life? I mean a serious prayer life, not a now I lay me down to sleep prayer life. And I mean serious Word life. Not just reading a few verses before bed time, I’m talking about a steady consistent flow of the Word of God pouring out of your mouth. 

Jesus defeated the devil with “It is written,” and then He vocalized what was written. If you don’t read it, you can repeat it, and you will end up defeated! It is not what is written that defeats the devil in your life, it’s what is written that lives in your heart and fills your mouth that defeats the devil. The sword of the spirit that defeats the devil is the word of God spoken with authority from a believing heart.

On praying ground everyone is equal. The greatest calling of God is not apostle, prophet, evangelist, preacher, or teacher but prayer warrior! It is prayer that creates the other five. It is through prayer that we put on and activate and hold in place every piece of the armor of God.

There is no such thing as a victorious Christian life without prayer. It is by and through prayer that we wage war. It is through prayer that we receive our provisions for the battle, and through prayer that we receive power for the battle. It is in the prayer closet that the Christian is dressed for the battle.
Before David defeated Goliath publicly he had already conquered the lion and the bear privately, this is symbolic of the prayer battle. All public victory owes its accomplishment to private prayer. Your spiritual life can be easily diagnosed by your prayer life; your prayer life is the thermometer of your spiritual life.

The real battle is Spiritual and the greatest weapon in that battle is Prayer: But it is not just any prayer that secures the hope and the help of the almighty God.

James 5:16 – “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

EFFECTUAL means: "powerful"), full of power to achieve results. FERVENT means” to be hot, to boil" speaks of "fervency" of spirit.

It may be labeled by some as “old fashioned,” but I’m not embarrassed to say that I still believe in Holiness, I still believe in purity in word, in deed, and thought, in mind, and I still believe that Holiness is as holiness does. I still believe that holy men and women of God should dress holy, act holy, and talk holy. I shouldn’t have to know your church affiliation to know you’re a Christian, I should be able to tell it by the life you lead and the company you keep.

It’s not any old prayer that secures the victory, it’s the powerful, intense prayer of the righteous.
A man of prayer once said: "As a painted fire is no fire, a dead man no man, so a cold prayer is no prayer. In a painted fire there is no heat, in a dead man there is no life; so in a cold prayer there is no power, no devotion, and no blessing. Cold prayers are as arrows without heads, as swords without edges, as birds without wings; they pierce not, they cut not, they fly not up to heaven. Cold prayers do always freeze before they get to heaven.”

E. M. Bounds said:
“God can, and does, tolerate many things in the way of infirmity and error in His children. He can, and will pardon sin when the penitent prays, but two things are intolerable to Him - insincerity and luke- warmness. Lack of heart and lack of heat are two things He hates.”

When Moses hands dropped the enemy gained the advantage. When your hands drop, Satan gains the advantage. Look at your own life, and ask yourself this question, Have I lost ground? If the answer is yes, then examine your prayer. This is where the real battle is and this is where it is won or lost. It has been said, “He stands tallest who kneels the most.”

I love this story in the bible because it shows us the power of prayer and the inner workings of prayer. Note that when Moses hands dropped, the enemy gained the advantage. That tells me that no matter how powerful or how anointed a man or woman may be, we need help. Moses Hands got Heavy: That means he grew tired under the burden, under the weight of the need, that means he felt the weight of the burden. If you have ever been under a real prayer burden, then you know exactly what that feels like.

There is such thing as a prayer burden that weighs on you, and presses upon you. Let me add, this is never a bad thing, the burden of the lord is a blessing, it’s an honor to get under the load of prayer, but it can get heavy. We were never meant to carry the load alone. Aaron and Hur became Moses helpers in Prayer. If we are going to win the battles that we are fighting we can’t do it alone: We are fellow laborers, and we are comrades, and we are partners, we are an army!

I believe today this is the message that God wanted me to bring to you. We are in a battle, the battle is not Imaginary, and the real battle is spiritual so we must fight it in the Spirit with spiritual weapons, but we cannot win alone: We need each other.

Every prayer prayed by every person is an integral part of the victory that we win. I Just feel today that there are some that have felt like you have been up on that mountain alone, and you’ve been trying to hold off the hordes of hell all alone. I just feel like somebody today needs to feel the strength of this message. And I feel like somebody needs to be reminded: You are important. I need you, the body of Christ needs your prayers. We are not complete without you. We are comrades, co-workers and fellow laborers together for the Kingdom of God, and for His Glory!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Moving Day

Revelation 4:1

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, (Come up hither), and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”

I am a firm believer that God is calling many of His people to move to a higher place: a higher relationship with Him, a higher ministry for Him, a higher prayer life, a higher revelation of His power in our lives. God is calling us to a higher walk of faith. God is always calling us to a higher place…God is calling us to go from the prophecy to the promise.

Exodus 40:37 - But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.

Numbers 9:19 - And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not.

Numbers 9:22 - Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed.

I believe that God worked this way to teach the children of Israel how to get from the prophecy to the promise, from the unseen to the reality, or from faith to sight. It was to teach them that on the journey their provision and their guidance and their protection was all dependent upon His presence.

One of the most important lessons it taught them was never get too comfortable. Intentionally God would vary the time that they would stay in a place, to teach them that no matter how comfortable or convenient a place it was, it was not the promise. God did not tell them when He was going to move, He did not send advance notice because he wanted them to stay in a condition of readiness.

One of the greatest battles we fight is that of the familiar. No matter how dry and desolate some places we are in or periods we experience are, if we stay there too long we get used to it, familiar with it, comfortable with it and we stop looking for the Spirit of God to move. Once it becomes comfortable to us, we resist anything that threatens our comfort Zone. But we cannot allow this to happen, we must be ready for the move at all times.

Moving is one of the most interesting things because in the moving process there is something called an ordered chaos. Everything is chaotic, everything is moved out of its place, the familiar routine is replaced by what seems to be confusion and disorder. Nothing is convenient, everything you want seems to be the hardest thing to get to. When you start to move, you begin to realize all the things you have accumulated over the years, all the unnecessary junk, makes moving that much more difficult. Moving becomes a time of shifting and sifting, when you lighten your load. Moving time is when you separate the useful from the useless and the valuable from the worthless. A lot of what you accumulate at one place you don’t need at the next place.

This is a Spiritual truth we learn from moving in the natural: As we move from one level to another there are things that we will leave behind. I don’t know about you but there are some things I am ready to leave behind. I’m ready to leave behind some doubts, fears, discouragements, and disappointments. I’m ready to leave behind some enemies that I’ve been fighting. I’m ready to leave behind some traditions that have no power. I’m ready to leave behind some excess baggage that’s been slowing me down.

Many times moving is difficult because you are leaving the familiar, the comfortable, the normal and you are entering the unknown.

Hebrews 11:8 - By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

God is looking for some people that will follow him into the unknown.

Isaiah 42:16-19 - And I will bring (the blind) by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have (not known): I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

17 They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods.

18 Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see.

19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD’S servant?

Are you ready to move on? Are you ready to let go and let God? Are you ready to go into the unknown? Are you ready to obey even when it doesn’t make sense, to obey when it looks foolish, to obey and go when every natural instinct says stop?

It is said that the African impala can jump 10 feet into the air and cover the distance of 30 feet in a single stride, but this great animal can be imprisoned for the span of its life behind a 3-foot wall, because it will not jump if it can’t see where it’s feet are going to land. It refuses to go into the unknown.

This is what it means in Isaiah when it says to be blind, it means to trust God. To be able to jump when I can’t see where my feet are going to land. To, by faith, move into the unknown.

There are some things that are not going to happen until we make the transition into the unknown, or we could just call it the faith dimension. One of the greatest motivations that I have for moving to the next level is I am more afraid of staying where I am, and missing the moving of God’s presence, than I am of moving into the unknown.

This next level that God is calling you to is going to take a faith step into the unknown.