A week or so ago I woke up hearing the old hymn “Revive Us Again” being sung by a church congregation in my mind. I had not heard it sung or even thought about it in many, many years. And so I went to the computer and looked it up on YouTube. Memories came trickling, then flooding back.
In the late 1950’s and early 60’s, I played for several small tent revivals in my area of South Carolina. The man who owned the tent invited various pastors and evangelists to come for a few days or a week or so and preach. Posters would go up around town, and when the meetings began the tent was usually full.
Although I didn’t play regularly for church as I did in later years, simply because I could play the piano and already knew most of the old hymns, I was asked to play for those services.
It was a little nerve-wracking and exciting, but I did it.
I don’t remember the people, the speakers or the sermons, but I remember the music. Those wonderful old hymns! “Revive Us Again” was certainly one of them.
This past month several “revivals” have sprung up at colleges in the United States, with thousands of people driving many long hours to attend. They are nothing like those tent revivals, however. These are not orchestrated by a man with a tent – although I see nothing wrong with that if the Lord has inspired it, and I believe he did and still does – these seem to have been orchestrated by God alone. Do an online search for Asbury 2023 and you’ll see what I mean. Here’s one report: Asbury 2023
The reports in the media have been met with enthusiasm by many, and criticism by many others. Are they real? Really real? Personally I believe they are.
While the English word “revival” (and the common concept that word brings to mind) doesn’t appear in the KJV of the Bible, the English word “revive” does. The Hebrew and Greek definitions are simple; basically to restore life.
The events of the past several hundred years (and longer) that various people term “revivals” or “outpourings” of God’s presence, certainly do that. Life — mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes physically also — has been restored. Many miracles have accompanied revival events over the years, and still do.
Here are several Bible verses to consider:
Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? (Psalm 85:6 KJV)
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. (Psalm 138:7)
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name [is] Holy; I dwell in the high and holy [place], with him also [that is] of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57:15)
O LORD, I have heard thy speech, [and] was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)
Father God has answered those prayers on multiple occasions, as Christian history attests. While teaching on the Principles of Intercessory Prayer several years ago, I did hours of research on historical revivals. I soon discovered, no two have been alike.
Every time such an occurrence takes place, the cultural circumstances beforehand including the condition of the world at large, and the appearance of the events as they happened, have been quite different.
But the results for many of those affected have been remarkable, long-lasting and permanent, whether the people were already Christians or became new believers.
Those people who have appointed themselves to judge the authenticity of 2023 current events should judge the long-term fruit, if they can. Revitalized lives, proven over time.
To read certain online comments these days, you’d wonder if the commenter believes that God himself is uninvolved in the process of these “revivals.” Perhaps He is ignorant and unaware, or maybe he’s just uninterested. How sad.
I believe their concept of the goodness, the bigness, the mercy, grace and forgiveness, the very person of God himself, needs re-thinking.
Host Gene Bailey: Let’s go back, Dutch, to September 11th that week, 2001. What happened?
Dutch Sheets: Well, I was scheduled to go speak at a conference in Boise, Idaho, and as most of the people watching us will remember, everything shut down. The nation was in shock, just fear and dread. It was just a surreal time, and throughout the week we didn’t know really what was happening. The airlines shut down so I could not get to the conference that I was supposed to speak at until Friday. You know that 911 was a Monday.
I didn’t know if it would even take place, but it did, and it’s one of the only times in my life I’ve ever been scheduled to do something as far as speaking and dreaded it. I didn’t want to go. I thought, I have no answers, I don’t know what to say. No one knows what to say right now. And I did not have a word from the Lord.
But I went in obedience and and honoring my commitment, and when I got up to speak that night, I don’t know what I was saying, I don’t remember what I was saying. I don’t think it was all that significant or important, but I had an experience that I’ve only had twice in my life. This was what I would call an open vision.
While I was speaking, with my eyes wide open, I began to see not what was natural, but I began to see things in the spirit. And what took me back so much was that it was with my eyes wide open. I saw as though it were an invisible hand.
This was a large room, 1500 people perhaps. I saw like a hand begin to write on the back wall, the far back wall of the auditorium and it looked like a neon light as it was writing. And it wrote Acts 3:19. I mentioned it a while ago. I knew what the verse said. I was obviously distracted by this. I didn’t stop and tell them what I was seeing yet but I was having trouble speaking because this was so distracting, and I knew it was God.
I knew what the verse said but I didn’t know what to do with it, so in my mind I just sort of told the Lord or said to myself, as soon as I finish this point I’m going to Acts 3:19, he obviously wants to say something from this passage.
When I had the thought, I will finish this point that I’m sharing now, the sign began to flash, on and off, on and off, on and off blinking. And I knew God was saying, I don’t want you to finish your point, I want you to go there now!
It’s really encouraging when you’re up speaking and you realize God’s not interested in what you’re saying, obviously he had something else he wanted to say.
And I went to the verse and told them what it said. It’s after the lame man had been healed and a crowd gathered, Peter began to preach. This is shortly after Pentecost. He seizes the moment and he says, If you will repent and turn to him, times of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord.
Times is (the Greek word) kairos, opportune, strategic times, not just general time. Very significant, very strategic. Peter was saying, this is a special moment, this is a very strategic time.
Refreshing is a weak translation, it’s okay, but the word there is anapsyxis, and psyxis which means to blow or breathe, that’s the root word, ana gives it repetition and intensity. So a really good amplified definition of this word is the blowing of the breath again intensely.
Peter said, it’s a strategic time. What happened to us in that Upper Room on the day of Pentecost — he’s not finished, there’s a wind for you too, and if you respond right now as you should, that wind will blow again intensely.
And as I shared this word, just the spirit of God filled this room and the presence was so strong, and duddenly I saw not just the sign flashing on the back wall, I began to see like a movie, it was like the entire back wall of the church became a movie screen, like I was in a movie theater.
And I told the people, I said I’m having a vision and I started narrating what I was seeing. I expected this to last for a minute or two but it lasted for probably 30 minutes, maybe 40 minutes, and I just — this was obviously supernatural and different. I’ve never had anything else like this. I just began to narrate what I was seeing for this 40-45 minutes.
You could hear a pin drop in the room. People were just captivated, their eyes closed, listening, and I was relating what I was seeing. And what he showed me was what this revival would look like, this blowing of the breath again intensely. I saw the fire of God coming to America. It wasn’t the fire of judgment, it was the fire of Revival. But what he highlighted and showed me specifically, was this fire coming to the Youth of our nation, the young people. Campuses, college campuses, high school campuses.
The fires of Revival began to burn and he literally showed me campuses where this was happening, and I said I see it on such and such and I named the university and I would talk about what I was seeing. And then I said I see it on this campus and I talked about what I was seeing, and then I realized — this is going to the nation, I don’t want to keep mentioning one or two and people think it’s only that one, because what I saw was this was springing up everywhere and what what I saw was unlike anything I’d ever seen.
I described it at one point in this vision as a violent love, it was coming with such intensity. God said, I am coming to save this generation and nothing is going to stop me.
It was so much passion from God, so much intensity that I turned to the speakers and I turned to those in the room at one point, and I said, nothing is going to stop this. Nothing can stop it.
And so as this broke out, obviously signs and wonders began to take place, and the students would gather into rooms and they would begin to talk about what happened, and it grew in its intensity. And the next thing that was happening was the size of the groups gathering grew, and there were thousands of kids, young people all across America gathering, talking about Jesus. Completely grassroots, completely spontaneous, led by no person, controlled by no person, planned by no person. God just began to hover over these universities.
There would be a room of a thousand of these young people in an auditorium and God would start moving. There was no one in charge, there was no one up preaching. Someone would begin to scream in the back that they were healed of this disease or that disease or their eyes were healed, and over here someone else would do it, and someone else would do it over here, and kids would begin to get saved. They would just — they they didn’t know much, they would just start crying out to Jesus and Jesus was saving them. I saw this moving across the country.
I saw people trying to stop it, some of the administrators in the universities. I saw gatherings of leaders and those in charge, saying we have to get these kids to go back to class, because they didn’t want to go to class.
Sporting events were canceled,classes were canceled, not because the sport events are bad, but because they didn’t want to do anything else. This was so powerful they wanted to get together and talk about what was happening.
And as the administrators would walk into these auditoriums to try and stop them, the power of God would be so strong they would just fall under the power of God and they couldn’t do anything. They couldn’t stop it. And so this just began to take place. I saw mass deliverances. I’ve never seen anything like this – yet.
It rocked my theology, because no no one was speaking. They were just singing maybe a chorus or a song that they knew — they didn’t know a lot, Amazing Grace, perhaps, and the spirit of God would begin to hover in the room and students would begin to be delivered from addictions, bondages, demonic strongholds in their life. No one touching them, no one’s saying this is about to happen.
It was like when Jesus would go into the synagogue and the demons could not stand his presence and they would begin to scream and shout, leave us alone, leave us alone. Well, the presence of God came into these rooms with such intensity that the demons simply could not stay.
I saw these kids being interviewed and they were asked, What is happening, what? Explain this to us? They had no answer. They stopped doing drugs, they stopped some of the perverted or sinful lifestyles that they were involved in. I saw them being interviewed saying, Why did you stop this? Why aren’t you doing these things anymore?
And the student simply said, I don’t know. I just don’t want to do it. I love Jesus. I want to please him. Something in me tells me it’s wrong. I don’t want to do this.
It became a Holiness movement but it was not like any Holiness movement we’ve ever seen in a Revival. No one was preaching it to them. No one was telling them how to live, their hearts were simply changing and they wanted to please him. I saw this go across the nation. It was intense, it was powerful, it was unstoppable. And the other thing I saw was, it was so raw.
These kids, you know it’s not like they changed the way they looked, dressed or acted, they didn’t look like they were going to church, they didn’t change their attire, they just showed up as they were, and God began to move and then they wanted more of him.
And what I saw also was they really didn’t want religion. They really didn’t want our forms. They didn’t want somebody to to preach at them, they wanted to know about Jesus. They wanted a relationship with him, but they didn’t want religious form. They wanted something different.
And they came with their problems, they came with their past, they came with with their — frankly, they came with mates and people that they they shouldn’t have been with, but they wanted this Jesus.
And I found myself looking at all of this, thinking because of the sheer volume, because this was thousands, tens of thousands of young people were being saved around the nation, I found myself thinking, what do we do with this? How do we steward this? It was coming so quickly, how do we teach them?
They want to know God but they don’t want our religion, and they’ve been taught that they can do this they can do that, how do we teach them without trying to put them in a form and a mold that they know nothing about and don’t want? How do we teach them relationship without religion?
And finally as I was watching this, 20-30 minutes into it, just relating what I was seeing, I turned to the leaders on the platform, and I was so serious when I said this, I said, this is going to be incredibly difficult to steward. It will be like the book of Acts. They just had to learn on the fly. It would be like Joshua who was told, you’ve never been this way before, the only way you can do this is to follow the cloud, follow me, follow the ark, because you’ve not been this way before.
And what we’re about to experience, we don’t have a formula for. We don’t have a pattern for thousands upon thousands, tens of thousands, I believe eventually hundreds of thousands and millions of young people in America coming to Jesus. We’re going to need to be ready to take them into his presence and allow Holy Spirit to shape them, allow Holy Spirit to teach them, to show them what he wants, who he is.
And so just to summarize it, I saw incredible power, incredible fire, the fire of Revival. Incredible signs and wonders, incredible passion, love for God, worship, spontaneous out-breakings of Holy Spirit, until the entire nation was on fire with the fires of Revival.
Gene Bailey: Wow. Dutch, those of us that are old enough to have lived through the Jesus movement, it’s like you’re describing that again, except all at a different level, a higher level.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV]
I keep going back to these two verses, no matter what other scripture verses or books I’ve been trying to read the last couple of days. Here are some of my thoughts and questions:
“We also.” Who else is surrounded by those witnesses? I went back and read Chapters 11 and 10, but witnesses is not mentioned. I then reconsidered; perhaps it means that in addition to something else we are surrounded by, we are ALSO surrounded by witnesses. So, what else might WE be surrounded by? Hmmm. I kept reading.
“Surrounded.”They are all around us, not just in front or in back, or occasionally watching. We are, present tense, surrounded by people and/or angels and/or Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We don’t see them, but apparently they are there, nevertheless.
“So great a cloud (i.e. large crowd.)”Not just a dozen or so, how ever many it would take to surround a person. A great crowd, not a mediocre group, but lots, and lots.
“Witnesses.”These are people who actually saw something. They could legally testify to it in court, they didn’t just happen to see it in the corner of their eye in passing. They witnessed, observed, truly saw it. But saw what? A crowd has gathered to watch something take place. A football game or a Nascar race draws a crowd. Is this more than just watching and seeing? Witnessing indicates a more serious behavior than that. And why were they there? Were they invited? Or commanded to be there, like a jury or witnesses in a court case? (Further on we are told, it’s a race!) These witnesses are those described in the previous chapter, those who have already run their race and successfully completed it. They are the crowd who is cheering us on!
“Let us lay aside every weight.”Well, if we are in a race, we wear appropriate clothes. Wear no heavy jackets or coats, wear running shoes, not heavy boots (or sandals or flip-flops). Carry no briefcases or handbags, books to read or files to work on, no laptops, no cell phones, nothing that could distract or hinder movement.
“Sin which so easily ensnares us.” I looked up the word ensnares in the Greek. It refers to something “standing all around on every side,” something like tall weeds you could trip over, briars that could entangle in your clothes, even overgrown or weedy shrubs you might have to slog to get through. Easily! Oh, so so true. Opportunities are indeed standing all around us, on every side. We have to deal with it, lay it aside, get rid of it. We have to do this — not the next runner, or the coach, or one of the witnesses. We ourselves.
“Let us run.” Let us — us plural, not just one person, but all of us, the believers, the body of Christ. We are in this race together! It’s not just for one individual, no matter how many times you feel like you’re alone or deserted. And, run, not walk or saunter, not skip or meander. Run. Take no detours, no pausing to look at someone else, or at the sky, grass, trees, or animals. No turning the head to see what’s going on in the crowd up in the stands, not glancing backward or up ahead. Don’t take a break for a nap or a meal. Don’t mark your place, leave the track and come back later to take up where you left off. Running takes focus. It also takes training and practice.
“With endurance.”If you don’t have practice and/or training, you won’t develop endurance. Endurance indicates this isn’t a sprint. It’s not just a fast, short dash to the finish line. Not just circling around, and around, and around on a track, either. This is like a cross country event, where you might encounter weeds, briars and shrubs. Long distance.
“The race that is set before us.”A race. A race set before us. Set. Planned and conducted at a specific place and time. Set races have rules and officials. This one is set before us, not some other person or group.
“Looking unto Jesus.” Observing, focusing on him, not on someone else, while running. Ignoring the distractions, deliberately looking at Jesus. To do this, we must be close to him. Nothing and nobody can be in the way, between us and him. He has run this race before, he is doing it now with us. Beside us, ahead of us, behind us, and inside of us.
“The author and finisher of our faith.” Jesus authored faith and gave it to us in the first place, making his faith also our faith, complete, mature and perfect from inside us. The life we now live in the flesh we live by the faith of the son of God. It’s not a natural, human belief that may come with education and experience, it is completely supernatural and comes to us from the one who created the universe. Receiving it is voluntary on our part. (Gal. 2:20)
“Who for the joy that was set before Him.” It wasn’t some gigantic pile of riches or power like superman, although Jesus had access to any and every thing that ever existed. He created it all in the first place. No, it was joy, fullness of joy in pleasing the Father, having successfully finished this assignment regardless of all the many obstacles along the way.
“Endured the cross.”His greatest obstacle was knowing that he could have avoided the cross, it was his own choice. Temptation to avoid the pain and the agonizing separation from the Father, facing and overcoming that temptation took an endurance we will never face!
“Despising the shame.” It wasn’t just the pain and the separation from the Father, it was so horribly shameful to be put to death as a criminal, by the very people he had come to rescue. The Jews and the Gentiles conspired to kill him — and he had to actually help them accomplish it. If it had only been the Jews, the Gentiles would not have been included in that spiritual rescue from the power of the enemy and sin. But although he hated the crushing disappointment and shame it caused in those closest to him, his family, the apostles and other disciples, he did it. He finished it. He knew that cross wasn’t the end.
“And has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” That race had a glorious ending, a victor’s ending! A seat on the throne with Father God. So will ours.
By the way, notice something missing in that passage? There is no mention of the resurrection. I am curious about that omission here, but other scripture passages certainly cover it.
These have been fascinating verses, read and meditated on with the author’s own comments, the voice of the Holy Spirit in my spirit. I will read them again and again, I expect.
I’m not through making the dark, darker, the Lord said.
Talking with the Lord about the upcoming New Year several nights ago, I asked him the question: “What is going to happen in 2023, Lord? What will you be doing?”
His answer was surprising to me.
That is the only word he said. I waited, but there wasn’t any further answer. I thought to myself, well, maybe that was just my imagination. I kept thinking about it, wondering about it.
Finally this morning, I asked him for more. I had in mind writing and posting an article about the coming year, as I have for some years now.
“I’m not through making the dark, darker,” he said. He reminded me of what he’d said about that last year, what I had posted then and re-posted a little while later.
He’s quite serious about it. He is NOT through. WAR is what he said, and WAR is what is coming. Not a physical fighting war, although he didn’t rule that out, but a continuation of the fierce spiritual war that has been going on this year.
I went to the Esther’s Petition blog site on my computer and began reading the original post. Here it is… apparently this is still happening and will continue into the next year. It is not a fun prospect.
“There are still a few slivers of gray and white among the dark places, and I am closing those gaps and making it all dark. Very dark.”
I knew that wasn’t all there was to it, and it wasn’t. He continued.
“I’m also making the light, lighter. Brighter. The contrast will become ever more evident around the globe, as those who have preferred the dark are beginning to long for the light.” For Jesus, the Light of the World.
I knew that Father God is not responsible for the darkness and so I waited for more discussion. He went on to explain.
Making dark places darker is making them much more obvious, much more evident. Far more repugnant to those who have loved the darkness… up until now. That love is turning.
A spiritual revival has sprung up in various places around the planet in recent years, growing more widespread; gaining more attention.
It is a precursor of a soon-coming global outpouring of the Holy Spirit with tremendous worship and joy, miraculous signs and wonders, miracle healings, salvations and deliverances. Years-long prayers and intercessions are coming into fruition; patience is paying off.
At the same time persecution and murder of believers is worsening. The battle for the Faith — the faith of believers — is certainly not new. It started with the apostles.
But Christians worldwide, and particularly prayer warriors, have been under many deadly and increasingly vicious attacks in recent days, some insidious or temporary irritations, but some long-lasting disasters.
All are designed to distract from the Word of Truth and from the work of the intercessor. The enemy assumes (rightly so in many cases) that it’s hard to minister to other people when you’re in real distress yourself, physical, mental, emotional, financial, family, or community.
The increasing supernatural darkness can never stop the Light from coming, the overwhelming, engulfing glory of God.
2022 (and 2023!) will be a year of contrasts, challenges, conflicts, and confusion. And a year of confirmations and celebrations.
That’s what the Lord said to me, several days ago. I was praying, as so many people were, about the runoff election in Georgia.
“What do you mean?” I wondered, when I heard His words. What does that mean, exactly, “gaming the system?” (I looked it up online this morning. Basically it means using rules and procedures meant to protect a system to manipulate that system for a desired outcome, instead.)
His answer wasn’t long in coming.
Patriots are hoping. Conservatives are hoping. Hoping to reverse the current status-quo with one, important election. Voters who are struggling against high prices and inflation worries with Christmas coming up fast, are hoping.
Unfortunately, our hope has been worldly hope. You know, with a 50-50 chance of success. Scriptural hope is confident expectation of future success, not quite the same thing.
Some folks have been planning, meeting, discussing and arguing. Strategizing over best ways to achieve short-term goals, like getting more like-minded voters to the polls, appointing poll workers and poll watchers. Thinking up every way possible to prevent the lying, deceiving, cheating and stealing that has most certainly happened in previous elections.
They have been drafting volunteers, holding training sessions and providing persuasive scripts. Using phone calls, emails, tweets, blog posts, snail mail, social media as well as door-knocking in chosen neighborhoods they are repeating communications in a wide variety of formats throughout the state — and no doubt irritating, annoying and aggravating some people on the receiving end of those pleas.
And behind all this, the Lord continued, all the while many believers are “gaming the system.” Praying, praying and more praying; they’re not just requesting but begging and pleading. Fasting. Reading more Bible than usual. Making promises and commitments to attend church more often, enroll in Sunday School, attend a Bible study, volunteer somewhere, and of course, contribute more cash to worthy causes and in the offering plate.
They are bargaining with God for this short-term but oh, so important positive answer.
There is nothing wrong with all of those things, the Lord told me. They are good habits to cultivate.
But did they ask Me what I wanted them to pray? Or did they assume they knew, they just KNEW that they knew what I wanted and made that the basis for their prayers, their actions and activities, in this short-term effort? All that energy!
Too few of them did. Understand this: My desire, My plans and strategies are quite different, because my goals are different.
I play a long-term game.
Many of MY people, called by MY name, are “desperately” praying for revival across America. Just how desperate are they? They are desperate when they themselves or ones they love are hurting, sick or broke, their situation seeming hopeless.
That’s simply not enough. There won’t be revival, real revival that results in real change of hearts without the key ingredients: Grief. Mourning. Weeping. Conviction! Confession! Repentance.
Over what, though, I wanted to know? Aren’t we the born-again, washed-in-the-blood clean ones, the righteousness of God in Christ ones? Don’t we live the most honest, most moral life we know how to live? What is there for us to weep over?
You have gotten used to the way things are, He said. You have gotten into the mind-set of “I vote. But I’m just one person, there’s only so much I can do, after all.” You have turned your eyes away from the frequent reports of the ugly, sinful, evil behavior and destructive damage being done across this nation, sometimes saying a short prayer as you turn the page, or scroll down the screen, or turn off the TV news. “Help, Lord!” You pray.
But you don’t acknowledge any real responsibility or feel any remorse. YOU didn’t do it, after all. So who is responsible, then?
None of the evil being done in America could have happened without the silence of the people who should have stood up, looked up, showed up and spoken up. No, YOU didn’t do it, but MY PEOPLE did it by their silent, passive acquiescence.
And now when they themselves are “feeling the heat,” they cry out for revival, for an outpouring of my Spirit.
And one is coming, but not like they envision. An outpouring of conviction from my Spirit.
Revival will not come without repentance from the very people who yearn for revival. II Chronicles 7:14 was written with them in mind.
“If MY people, which are called by MY name, shall humble THEMSELVES, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from THEIR wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive THEIR sin, and will heal THEIR land.”
Change the focus. Change the prayer. Change the behavior. Then I’ll change America, and the world, to what I want it to be: Mine.
After receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in April 1974, I wanted to learn everything I could about it, what exactly had happened, who the Holy Spirit is, and what this would mean to me.
And so I read, studied, prayed, and studied some more, especially the Gospel of John, Chapters 14-16.
For Mother’s Day that year my children gave me a small Bible to keep in my purse, and every day I would take it out at lunch time to read as I munched on a sandwich. Every time I found a verse about the Holy Spirit, I underlined it in red ink.
(I still carry that little Bible in my purse. The print seems to have gotten a bit small over the years!)
One Sunday as I was driving home after church, I heard the Lord speak to me, very softly but very plainly. “Why didn’t you do what I asked you to do?” Grief hit me like a ton of bricks.
He had given me a word of prophecy for the adult Sunday School class I attended. But I was very new to the class and I didn’t know many people yet. Sitting toward the back of the room, when I heard the Holy Spirit’s voice I wasn’t sure it was real. But he persisted, giving me a short few sentences and nudging me to speak it to the entire class. My heart rate had gone up, my palms got a bit sweaty, and I kept my mouth shut.
I’d had no idea how to get the teacher’s attention, how to actually speak that word to him or to anyone else, much less the entire class. And so I had kept silent.
Driving on while the tears came, I asked the Lord to forgive me. And I promised, whatever the circumstances in the future I would obey him. I would use wisdom, understanding, courtesy as much as possible, but I would obey.
Believing that situation would come up again, I promised myself to learn how to actually give a word from God to other people. Than meant more reading, more studying, and more praying!
Then one day I came across John 2:5. Mary, Jesus and the apostles were attending a wedding in the little town of Cana, not far from the town of Nazareth, when an embarrassing situation arose. The wedding host ran out of wine.
How did Mary know about that? Maybe the servants told her, maybe a family member told her, the scriptures don’t say. But Mary then told Jesus, who basically said to her, “What does have to do with me?” But this was his mom, these were surely her friends, and she knew — she KNEW he could do something about it.
Mary told the servants at the wedding at Cana, “Whatever he says to you, do it.”Jesus did say something to them, they did it, more wine appeared, and the wedding day wasn’t ruined after all.
It was a remarkable and wonderful story, but it was Mary’s command to the servants that stuck in my mind. They became my commitment to the Lord then and there, whatever He said to me to do, I would do it. Speak a word of prophecy? Yes. Go somewhere? Yes.
While studying for this post, I found several good examples from the Bible:
(1) Philip was one of the first deacons. He was enjoying a very successful miracle ministry in Samaria when the Holy Spirit spoke to him, telling him to go somewhere else. And he did. When he did, he discovered the Ethiopian in the chariot and led him to the Lord. (Acts 8:26-29)
(2) In Acts 10:19, 11:23, the Holy Spirit spoke to Peter, gave him a vision of a sheet with unclean animals in it, had a conversation with Peter about that, then told him to go with the men at the door to the house of Cornelius. He did, and many people were born again and received the Holy Spirit that day — while Peter was still preaching!
(3) On Paul’s Second Missionary Journey, Paul and Barnabas wanted to go further north into Asia but the Spirit told them NOT to go. Why? The Lord gave them a vision of a man from Macedonia begging them to come west, to help them. They realized that the Lord was directing them to go there, instead of to Asia. And so they did. (Acts 16:6-10)
Many times since those early days the Holy Spirit has given me words to speak or places to go. Some messages are personal for just one person, some are for a small group, and occasionally for a whole congregation. These days, most of those words are published first in Esther’s Petition, then shared on other of my social media sites, like Facebook or Twitter.
When he tells me to go somewhere, even if it’s just around town to a particular place, on a specific day at a specific time, I’ve learned not to wonder why. I just do it. And even if it’s halfway around the world! See below.
I’ve written several posts about times the Holy Spirit has led me to go somewhere or do something, some ordinary things, some unusual. In every case the timing was important. Here are two that I’ve written about before:
Here’s one I haven’t written about before — one day the Lord spoke plainly, clearly, and with no further explanation: “Go get a passport.” Now, I had no plans to travel outside the United States, why would I need a passport. Why? I asked. He didn’t answer.
Well, I knew it really was the Lord speaking, and I’d learned by then that he always had a reason for his instructions. So I went down to the local passport office, applied, and within a short time I had a passport. I filed it away with my birth certificate, marriage license, will and insurance papers.
A few days later, while doing volunteer work as a writer for OM Ships, my boss Hans van Baaren came into my office and said, “You need to see one of our ships in person. Let’s send you to Iceland.” He was probably puzzled by the odd expression on my face!
I just said, “Okay.” Now I knew why I needed the passport! Not long afterward I found myself aboard the Logos II in Reykjavik Harbor, interviewing crew members and taking photographs for OM Ships online and print publications.
Well, there’s a lot more I could relate, but as you can see it’s truly been an adventure for me, being led by the Holy Spirit over these years. It’s one that continues.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. … 26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:14, 26)
“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law… If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatian 5:18, 25)
“Thank you,” I said to the Lord while praying this morning.
“Thank YOU,” he answered.
“For what?” I asked, wondering what he could mean.
“You said Yes. That’s all I needed.”
Suddenly I knew he was referring to the summer day in 1972, when I asked Jesus to be my Manager, Lord of my life. He had been my Savior for many years, but Lord? No, not really.
On that particular day I had told him, “I’ve tried to manage my life my own way for a long time and it’s not working. Please come in and manage it for me.”
Several times over the years I’d heard him call my name, in a small still voice, “Bette.” I would just ignore it, shrug it off to my imagination and not respond. In the very back of my mind somewhere I was probably thinking, “Later.”
Blinking back some tears as I looked through my kitchen window, I had to look again. The grass looked greener! The pine tree was browner, the canna lilies were orangier — nothing was the same!
Amazed, I walked out to my back yard to look at everything up close and slowly recognized that the grass and tree weren’t new. I was new.
Rubbing my hand over the trunk of the pine tree, I realized that verse was true: If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creature. (2 Corinthians 5:17) I was a new creation, with a new life, a new challenge, a new assignment, and a new identity.
Indeed, nothing has ever been the same since that day. Fifty years worth of images ran through my mind this morning, people and places, events and answered prayers. Healings. Deliverances. Callings…
So many things I would never have known or experienced, had Jesus not become Manager that day, Lord of my life.
I’m still thinking about what the Lord told me this morning, “You said Yes. That’s all I needed.” I’m so, so glad I finally did. I wish I’d done it much sooner.
We were created by God in his own image to be his own child, to do what He wants, when, where and how He wants, in order to get the results He wants.
And He made us with free will to choose to be and do that, or not.
Since starting this study, almost every day the Holy Spirit brings me another scripture with another facet of our identity in Christ to add to my notes. The following is in sort of a haphazard order, despite my attempts to make a logical step-by-step list.
I’m sure there are other descriptions and scriptures that could be added so I’m not going to publish this as “all inclusive.” Now and then He tells me, “It will ALL be helpful, you’ll see,” so I keep listening, keep studying, keep praying, and typing.
(If you get bored with this long list, just quit reading, but please don’t quit thinking about this subject, or asking the Lord for yourself: WHO AM I? He’ll find a way to answer you.)
How we live our daily lives, how we share God’s word, how we witness, even how we pray and intercede, are all related to that one essential question:
Who are we in Christ?
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives 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.” Galatians 2:20
We are in Christ, everything else is derived from that truth. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.” Acts 17:28, John 14:20
We are also inhabited by God: (1) by the Father, (2) by Jesus, and (3) by the Holy Spirit, John 14:17-23. All the Trinity make their home inside us.
We were created in God’s image, Genesis 1:27
Chosen, (1) He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, Ephesians 1:4; (2) God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, 2 Thessalonians 2:13; (3) you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, 1 Peter 2:9
Forgiven of all sins, Colossians 2:13-14
Free, not condemned, Romans 8:1-2
Saved by grace, God’s free gift to us, Ephesians 2:8
… through faith, also a gift from God, Ephesians 2:8
… faith that comes by hearing and believing God’s word, Romans 10:17
… his own faith was offered by Jesus to the disciples and to us, Mark 11:22
We are now the righteousness of God, 2 Corinthians 5:21
Made an entirely new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17
Sons of God, adopted; also led by the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:14-16
Heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17
Made one spirit with Him, I Corinthians Cor. 6:17
Friends of Jesus, John 15:13-15, also see 2 Chronicles 20:7, Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23
Taught by the Holy Spirit, who will also bring back to our remembrance whatever Jesus taught us; He will also show us the future, John 14:26
God’s workmanship, Ephesians 2:10, also see verse 8
Being changed (metamorphosized) from glory to glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18, also see Colossians 1:27
Unfinished; God began a good work in me and will continue to perform it, Philippians 1:6;
A life-long learner; I am continually learning and adding to what I have received and know, 2 Peter 1:3-8
God’s workers to do what he ordained for us beforehand, Ephesians 2:10
Co-laborers (co-workers) with God to do those things, 1 Corinthians 3:9; also see 2 Corinthians 6:1
As Jesus is, so are we in this world, I John 4:17
Imitators of God and of Christ, the word “followers” is literally translated imitators, Ephesians 5:1
Imitators of Paul as he imitates Christ, I Corinthians 4:16, 11:1
Seated with Christ in the heavenly places, Ephesians 2:6, also see 1:20-23
Spiritual warriors, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; in a war, whether we know it or not
Armed and armored, Ephesians 6:11-17
More than conquerors, Romans 8:37-39
What is our assignment?
Replenish planet earth, subdue it and have dominion over it, Genesis 1:26-28
Seek the kingdom of God, Matthew 6:33, Luke 12:31-32, which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” Romans 14:17
Because “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:31-32
Reign with him on earth now, in this lifetime, Romans 5:17, Revelation 5:10; 20:4-6; 22:5
Do what Jesus did, i.e make disciples, teach them to observe what he commanded the first disciples: (1) preach the kingdom, (2) heal the sick, (3) cleanse the lepers, (4) raise the dead, and (5) cast out demons; Matthew 28:18-20
Do even greater works, i.e. deeds, than Jesus did, John 14:12-13
Do the works ordained by God for us beforehand, Ephesians 2:10
Be co-workers with him, I Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1
Be ambassadors for him, 2 Corinthians. 5:20
God is in us to will and to do his good pleasure; allow him to do that, Philippians 2:13
Do everything in love, I Corinthians 16:14 (agape, God-kind of love)
Walk (live, behave) in love, Ephesians 5:2
Give thanks in everything – no matter what happens around us, there are always things to be thankful for, I Thessalonians 5:18
Offer the sacrifice of praise, Hebrews 13:15
Pray without ceasing, I Thessalonians 5:17
Pray in the Spirit, Ephesians 6:18
Pray with all prayer and supplication, Ephesians 6:18
Pray God’s will and then we know we have what we requested, I John 5:14-15
Receive answers to prayer, thus receiving fullness of joy, John 15:11, 16:24
Note: many scriptures instruct believers to pray. None say pray for the sick, however, except for James 5:14: a sick person should call for the elders of the church who will anoint him with oil and then they pray over him. Jesus commanded disciples to heal the sick, not pray for the sick.
How can we do that?
Know God and Jesus, John 17:3
Be led by the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:14-16
Receive faith, Mark 11:22, Ephesians 2:8, Romans 10:17
Live by faith, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Galatians 2:20
Receive the baptism (and thus God’s power – dunamis) of the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:8
Be being filled with the Holy Spirit; this is a continuous verb, not a one-time event, Ephesians 5:18
Be a co-laborer with God, not a “lone ranger,” 1 Corinthians 3:9
Know who we are in Christ, know who God is and who the enemy is, John 10:10
Know our authority on the earth, Matthew 10:1, Luke 9:1, the same as the original disciples / apostles, Matthew 28:18-20
He gave them power and authority, Luke 9:1, 10:17-19, the 70 returned in joy; he gave them authority over all the power of the enemy; also applies to us
Fight the good fight of faith, 1 Timothy 6:12
Submit to God, then resist the devil, and he will flee from you, James 4:7
Resist the devil steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world, I Peter 5:9
Desire all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I Corinthians 12-14
Covet the best spiritual gifts (i.e. most appropriate for the need) I Corinthians 12:31; especially covet to prophesy, I Corinthians 14:39
Expect Jesus to manifest himself to us, John 14:21
Abide in him, allow his word to abide in us; then we can ask and it is done, John 15:7
Be transformed (metamorphosized) by the renewing, i.e. renovation of the mind (Greek word nous, way of thinking and understanding), Romans 12:2
We have the mind of Christ, his way of thinking and understanding as he is in us, 1 Corinthians 2:16
Take advantage of the information, training and equipment available in God’s word, 2 Peter 1:3-8
Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, Ephesians 6:10
Be spiritually armed and armored with the whole armor of God, Ephesians 6:11-17
Realize that we can do all things through Christ, Philippians 4:13
Allow the fruit of the spirit to grow and develop in our lives, Galatians 5:22-24
Allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, John 16:13
Live and walk (act, behave) in the spirit, Galatians 5:25
Continue living and acting by the spirit, not by keeping the law, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Galatians 3:1-3
Be patient after doing the will of God, Hebrews 10:36
Let patience do its perfect work so we will lack nothing, James 1:4
Be patient with joyfulness, Colossians 1:11
Be anxious for nothing, Philippians 4:6
Do not be troubled or afraid, John 14:27, 1 John 4:18
Let the peace of God rule in our heart, Colossians 3:15
Be humble, 1 Peter 5:5-6
Don’t think more highly of yourself than you should, Romans 12:3
Paul’s prayers, good examples to pray for ourselves and others:
Be enriched in utterance and knowledge, 1 Corinthians 1:4-8
Have the spirit of wisdom and revelation, understanding the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints (Christians), Ephesians 1:16-19
Be strengthened… comprehend… filled with the fullness of God; read entire passage, Ephesians 3:14-19
Know and understand God’s will, Colossians 1:9,
Be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, Ephesians 5:17
“Woe unto them who call evil, good, and good, evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20
A few years ago, the Sunday School class I attended was studying the account of Jesus and the disciples, the boat and the storm. (Matthew 8, Mark 4)
They were all in a boat headed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee when a bad storm came up. Jesus was taking a nap and the panic-stricken disciples woke him up, saying “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38)
Jesus got up, rebuked the storm stopping it in its tracks, and then rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. (They could have stopped the storm themselves, without waking him up.)
One of the class members commented, “God must have been trying to kill Jesus with the storm, but then Jesus cancelled out God’s will by stopping the storm.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. I asked her, “You don’t believe Jesus was God?” “Well, yes,” she said, “but everything that happens is God’s will, isn’t it?”
She looked puzzled when I strongly disagreed. The notion that everything bad and evil happening in the world is God’s will, his design, his doing — is calling evil, good, and good, evil.
God created man to have a will of his own, gave him authority to use it, and has never taken that authority back. God did not force Adam and Eve to disobey a direct command. He doesn’t force me, or you, or Hitler, or Jeffrey Dahmer, or a child rapist, or a terrorist, to commit evil.
It is not God’s will that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, (2 Peter 3:9), yet some people do perish.
We are instructed to pray for leaders and government authorities, because it’s God’s will for “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:4) But not all people will be saved.
People have a free will of their own and some use it to make the wrong choices. The devil didn’t make them do it, and God didn’t make them do it.
If everything that happened was God’s will, why bother to pray? Just let “Whatever will be, will be.” But then some other scriptures would have to be torn out of the Bible…
Like Ephesians 6:2, “Honor thy father and mother which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.” That’s number Five of the Ten Commandments, quoted from Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16.
Well, maybe the Ten Commandments don’t apply any more? Or maybe they don’t apply to everybody?
Or maybe they don’t apply in any real sense, just in a wishy-washy sense that only applies to some sort of group dynamic? Not to individual persons, just the whole of mankind that will survive while some individuals are slaughtered at God’s whim?
Many “if” statements are found throughout the Bible. If you do this, that will happen. It’s the eternal law of sowing and reaping.
Long life is one of those “ifs.” Deuteronomy 6:2, “… that thy days may be prolonged.” Deuteronomy 11:9, “And that ye may prolong your days in the land…” If they obeyed God’s Word, that is. But they didn’t, and their days weren’t prolonged.
What about bad things happening to good people? If God isn’t behind everything, then is he powerless? NOT omnipotent after all? Couldn’t he do something to stop it, if it wasn’t his will?
Yes, if God wanted to change himself, become an Indian-giver and a liar, he could. But he gave control of some things over to people.
We have an enemy, Satan, who hates God and us. He’s real; a real liar and a real murderer. He will kill us if he can, steal from us whatever he can take and destroy anything he can’t take. (John 10:10.)
Satan is the accuser, the liar, the deceiver, the murderer, and the leader-astray, but he can’t make us do anything against our will. He can certainly suggest sin, demonstrate how to do it and promise to reward it, but in the end he will be destroyed. Those who side with him will be destroyed, too.
Creator God told us to do certain specific things. He made promises and provisions to those who are in Christ. The global, spiritual warfare is real, the devastation is real, the pain is real, but God’s power is even more real. He loves to demonstrate that power through the lives of his people. If they will let him!
If prayer was useless and “que sera, sera” was true, why would we be told to pray so many times? If faith was powerless, why did Jesus urge the disciples to have God’s faith? If death and disaster was God’s will, why did God send the Holy Spirit and gifts of healing and miracles?
The choice to believe is ours, and I choose to believe God is good, his mercy endures forever, and his Word is true. Mark 11:23-24 is true. Mark 9:23 is true. Matthew 17:20 is true.
The problem isn’t in God or in his Word. The problem is in those who fall for the “que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be” nonsense and won’t pay the price to believe. Faith is ours for the taking, but it comes with a responsibility and a job description.
When somebody gets sick and dies, it’s easier to say it must have been God’s will and excuse unbelief, than to take responsibility for failure. The disciples failed, after all — they tried to cast out a demon from a sick child and failed. (Mark 9:14-29)
Jesus came along, took care of the problem, then explained to the disciples what they needed to do differently. Pray with fasting. Do you suppose they ignored Jesus after that and simply quit praying for the sick? I don’t think so.
Jerry Savelle came to Florence many years ago for a series of meetings about healing. He recalled an incident when a man complained to him, “Brother Jerry, you prayed for brother so and so, and he died!”
Jerry explained, “Everybody I pray for will die sooner or later, but that doesn’t excuse me from praying for him or for the next fellow,” and it doesn’t excuse us either.
(This article is from the Archives; originally titled Que Sera)
As I was praying tonight, the Lord began describing his angels on assignment in America right now.
If you could see them in the spirit, he said, they would look like soldiers – marines, infantry, seals, paratroopers, etc., fully armed and armored.
But if you see them in the natural, you will think they are ordinary tourists, visitors, workers, men and women of all ages, youngsters and teenagers, all races, all economic backgrounds and ethnic groups.
They are walking around NYC, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Houston, San Diego, Los Vegas, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit and many other major cities. You’d never know they were angels, to look at them. They have specific assignments to do and they are busy doing it.
In Washington, DC, they are visiting every national monument, the Supreme Court, and getting in lines at every bus stop and subway station. They are walking the halls in Congress with all the tourists and visitors, walking the halls of the White House and the Congressional Office Buildings, looking for all the world like ordinary human beings.
But they aren’t. They may have on sneakers and jeans or slacks and dress shirts or dresses; they may have cameras, back packs or brief cases, like anyone else that visits DC every day of the week.
Anywhere ordinary people may be, every business, every museum, every attraction, but especially every place members of our government may be, they are there. More than any other time in our history.
Some are visible and can be plainly seen, but you’d never recognize them for what they really are: Watchmen. Guards. Protectors. Spies. Physical bodies to interfere or assist other physical bodies, keeping someone from being hurt, attacked, robbed, keeping someone from doing the hurt, attack or robbery.
God’s spiritual intelligence agents looking like your next door neighbor, your grandma, your teenager, your mailman or insurance agent. Observing, listening to instructions from the Holy Spirit, casually going about their “business.”
In places where the general public can’t go, they are invisible, but they are there. In every lobby, every elevator or staircase, every conference room, every hallway, every place committee meetings take place, in the House, the Senate, the office buildings, and in the White House complexes, in every place the general public is forbidden to enter, including the Oval Office and the private residence, they are there.
Why are they there, in greater numbers than ever before, right now? I asked the Lord.
They are carrying out the designated work begun by the intercessory prayers of God’s prayer warriors in recent weeks, months and years, he said.
They are doing the work, speaking the words, interfering with ungodly acts, inspiring godly acts, and physically doing things that you’d really not notice, generally speaking. Moving things around. “Losing” some things. Delaying some things, speeding up other things.
Throwing money wrenches. Creating disagreements and clashes between ungodly allies. Creating havoc and chaos in anti-godly agendas, plans, schedules, meetings, phone calls, text messages, video calls or appointments, in general doing what the Holy Spirit is assigning each one to do to get His will and purposes done.
All the while the Holy Spirit is also busy giving people ideas, good ideas of things to say, people to see, calls to make, texts and emails to write, making connections and getting things done with ease that would have been very difficult just a few days ago.
Many of those people are believers but some aren’t, they are just patriots who love America and want to see good values returned. Some of the invisible angels are serving as extra guards for those specific people, added protection to be sure they can actually accomplish those ideas without interference from the enemy.
Things are going to start happening faster and more suddenly than ever in the near future. Natural and supernatural things. Lots of activity is happening even tonight, and some unusual events may be reported in the media, but whether it is or not, it is happening.
Why are you telling us this? I wondered. His answer should have been obvious — it’s so we don’t quit. So we don’t get tired or discouraged or distracted by the stuff of living and just quit.
So that we will keep listening to the Holy Spirit and keep the prayers going that he inspires. They are the engine that enables the change God wants, the outpouring of his Spirit, the harvest of souls, and the rescue of the special nation He designed and created for his purpose on the earth – to be a supply house for evangelism and harvesting of souls around the world.