It seemed good to share with you what I’m praying about on this monthly “day of prayer and fasting” for the church. Last month, it was 1 John 3:9, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” No willful disobedience to God in one who is born of Him! That’s radical! I share the second “monthly prayer and fasting” scripture so you can see the progression of thought that I believe is from the Lord: my first “monthly prayer and fasting” scripture was from John 17, concerning the true definition of sanctification. Our benchmarks of the sanctified life need revision, for it is the Lord who sanctifies us through and through — our nature the same as Christ’s nature, the sin nature dead on the cross and buried. Hallelujah to the King of Kings! Then it was 1 John 3:9 (and the surrounding verses), the test to determine in our own hearts whether we are filled with the Spirit or not.
The Lord led me to Jeremiah 6 this morning, and put a Holy Spirit “speed bump” on verse 16: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.'” I’m praying that the Lord leads the church back into the ancient paths. Immediately as I type this, the Lord reminds me of Psalm 23:3 “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths [literally, “tracks”] of righteousness for His name’s sake.” The word picture is like a dirt road over which many wagons have traveled. Tracks (but not ruts, God forbid) form, and soon, the wheels of wagons traveling that dirt road automatically find and follow those tracks. Having studied the history of the “holiness movement” church, I see that she spurned the operation of the Spirit. The churches in that movement had grown rapidly up to that point, but began to decline shortly after that. Please know that I love the church. She is my family, and I love her even with the very love of God that He has poured out in my heart to overflowing! But we must stand and see (7200 raah, meaning “discern”) and ask for the ancient paths, for we have lost our way.
The church at large, as well as the those in the “holiness movement,” became afraid of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to the point where even today, some church leaders chastise people who are filled with the Spirit and operating in His gifts. I have seen it happen to my brothers and sisters and have experienced it myself. Please note that these Spirit-filled ones were operating in submission to their spiritual leaders when they were chastised. Those who have been crucified with Christ are submissive. Jeff and I checked with our denominational overseer when we were being considered as candidates for ordination; we would not have continued if he objected, but would have pursued ordination elsewhere. We cannot deny the gifts the Lord has given us, and we pray that the holiness with which He has filled us is evident. We do not magnify the gifts; we magnify the Christ who gave His church the Holy Spirit, and the Father who gave His Son that we no longer be under His wrath but forgiven and given life eternal, even zoe, the superabundant flow of the life of God here and now, and that we be given sanctification through and through, knowing Him and Christ and the Spirit with great and glorious intimacy! Glory!
In some ways, the church has become like the Pharisees whom the Spirit-filled Stephen admonished in Acts 7, saying, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.” That may sound harsh to you, but I believe the Holy Spirit is very grieved by our rejection of all of Him — we’re OK with the holiness part in the “holiness movement” (though for the longest time, outward holiness was the order of the day), but we don’t want those gifts! We might lose control of things if they are manifested. But God is not a God of confusion. The Corinthian church misused the gifts because they were not filled with the love of God. But if we are filled with the Spirit, we are filled with that love and will operate the gifts in that same love. The gifts are gifts from God, and are for the common good, for the edification of the church. Yet I have seen congregation-led mutinies ensue when the Holy Spirit and His gifts are preached from pulpits.
I am praying for a great repentance and full embracing of all that our wonderful Lord sent to us. I pray we stand by the way and SEE and ASK for the ancient paths, even back to the days of the Book of Acts. May we humble ourselves and ask for the good way, the God way that leads to “God works!” May we humble ourselves and walk in this good way. O Lord, soften our necks and open our ears to hear the Word today, that we would find rest for our souls, that we might be revived as followers of You, that we may live for You, that we may be like shining stars in the universe, holding out the word of life in this dark world!