So what requirements has God established that lead to a pathway of prosperity? The Bible reveals several overarching keys.
1) Seek Him. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). All what things?
All the things He mentioned in the verses preceding verse 33—such as
treasures upon earth or what you will eat or drink or wear. We are not
to seek those things first. We are to seek the kingdom first.
What does it mean to seek the kingdom? It is seeking to do His will. His will is what He did on the earth, such as healing all (Acts 10:38), casting out devils (Mark 16:15-18) and preaching repentance (Matt. 4:17). read more
God wants to develop His character in us so we can persevere for the long haul. Yet how he does it is often anything but easy.
We are not born with integrity. Integrity is something that is developed in our lives through the choices we make every day.
is an internal standard and conviction. It is having a sensitive
conscience before God. The more sensitive your conscience is, the more
in tune with the Holy Spirit you will be. As you follow your conscience,
you will develop integrity in your life. True character and integrity
are revealed in the choices you make when no one else is around. read more
Unforgiveness says three things to God (hint: none of them good).
is no fan of an unforgiving spirit—at all. Jesus was clear about it:
“If you do not forgive men their trespasses, your Father will not
forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:15, NKJV). Why does He so hate an
unwillingness to forgive?·
·1. It shows an indifference to the greatest thing God did.
“greatest thing” was God sending His Son to die on the cross for our
sins. To be forgiven is the most wonderful thing in the world. But in
order to forgive us, God paid a severe price.·
predict that when we get to heaven we will be able to see, little by
little, what it meant for God to send His Son to die on a cross. We now
see only the tip of the iceberg. We see waves of glory, and these
overcome us, but we’ve seen little.·
God did for us what we did not deserve. He therefore wants us to pass this on to others who don’t deserve it.
2. We interrupt God’s purpose in the world: reconciliation.
God loves reconciliation. He has given the ministry of reconciliation to us, and He wants it to continue.·
we are forgiven, He wants us to pass it on. When we interrupt that, He
doesn’t like it at all. He sent His Son to die on a cross, effectually
calling us by His grace and giving us total forgiveness. But we
interrupt that flow by not passing it on.
·3. God hates ingratitude.·
knows the sins for which He has forgiven us, and He loves a grateful
response. Matthew 18 relates the story of a servant who owed a great
debt. He fell on his knees before his creditor, his master, and said,
“Have patience with me, and I will pay you all” (v. 26). The master took
pity on him, canceling the debt and letting him go. The master knew the
things for which he had forgiven his servant.·
then that same servant went out and found one of his own servants who
owed him a much smaller amount. He grabbed the man and began to choke
him, saying, “Pay me what you owe!” (v. 28).·
fellow servant did exactly what he himself had done; he fell on his
knees and said, “Please forgive me. I will pay you back.”·
the one who had been forgiven a much greater debt refused to extend
forgiveness, and he threw his servant into prison. To think there could
be such ingratitude!·
Word eventually reached the original master, and the unforgiving servant was also thrown into debtor’s prison.·
then added, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you,
from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matt.
knows what we have done. He knows the sins for which He has forgiven
us, the things that no one else will ever hear about. If we turn around
and say, “I can’t forgive that person for what he has done,” God doesn’t
like that at all. He hates ingratitude. read more
God doesn't want to heal only me. His deliverance is available to all.
"Come here, Joyce. I have to give you a ticket for a free lunch," my teacher said. I approached her desk feeling self-conscious and humiliated.
"Your parents have enrolled you in the Title 21 Lunch Program. That means you get free lunches, and they don't have to pay for it."
I nodded and took the ticket, wishing the floor would open up and swallow me. I started to turn away and go back to my seat, but she continued to talk about me.
"You'll never amount to anything. You'll never get out of the projects. You'll always be one of those people with your hand out, looking for a free ride."
Unfortunately, I had come face to face with the ugly reality many believers struggle with. It's called rejection.
Today, as a confident woman and evangelist, I do not allow people to label me, dictate my future or make me feel unworthy of God's love and acceptance. My relationship with Christ is the foundation of my identity.
Rejection is what I call a "fatal distraction" because it is emotionally debilitating and if left unchecked, it can mentally paralyze you. Scripture reveals that "death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21, NKJV).
Maybe a trusted friend, parent or spouse has rejected you and stripped you of your self-worth. People can be brutal when you don't measure up to their expectations. My teacher rejected me because my family was poor, and in her mind, I was lazy, worthless and a waste of her time.
I believe also that rejection becomes fatal when you take ownership of it. You tend to make life choices based on what you have been told about yourself rather than what God has to say about you.
My teacher told me I would never get out of the projects, and I believed her. I accepted her comments as valid, and from that moment on I began to look at myself through her eyes instead of God's.
What the Bible says is true: "As he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). It is imperative that you replace rejection with the life-giving, life-changing Word of God. It will assure you of His unconditional love.
Yes, the words and attitudes of other people can deeply wound you, but please don't allow them to destroy you.
I am grateful to God that His grace did not permit me to live under a cloud of rejection. My life began to change when I moved in with "Big Mama," my maternal grandmother.
She didn't have any better sense than to believe that, regardless of our economic and social status, my family and I were the people God said we were.
Big Mama affirmed me, and pumped me full of God's Word. She constantly told me I was a child of the King, had royal blood flowing through my veins and was going to grow up to be "a mighty woman in the Lord!"
Slowly but surely, through her love and by the sheer power of Scripture, she eradicated those feelings of rejection from my life.
I went on to become a cheerleader and the homecoming queen of my high school. I was even voted "most popular" in my senior class! I eventually graduated college and became a teacher.
Today, I travel the world proclaiming the gospel of Jesus at conferences, churches and in other settings. I am enjoying a life enhanced by the blessings, favor and anointing of God.
If you struggle with rejection and want to be restored, run to the Father. He doesn't want to heal only me—His deliverance is available to all who will turn to Him.
Joyce L. Rodgers is an evangelist and sought-after speaker. She is the author of Fatal Distractions (Charisma House), and the founder of Primary Purpose Ministries in Dallas. Rodgers also serves at an international level with the Church of God in Christ. read more
After spending a decade doing hand-to-hand combat with satanic forces, I have discovered several symptoms of demonic operation. Some of these indicators can be signs of mental illness, which isn't always the result of demonic attack. But when good psychological care from Christian professionals doesn't result in a cure, it is often possible that the person's symptoms could point to demonic operation.
Drawn from the account of the demoniac of Gadara in Mark 5, the first six symptoms are extreme. The man in that passage was controlled by a legion of demons and had been chained in a cemetery because of his erratic and violent behavior. Other signs of demonic activity may be subtler, but they are no less dangerous and shouldn't be ignored.
1. Incapacity for normal living (see Mark 5:1-5). The actions of legion made him unsuitable for normal social interaction with friends and family. An unusual desire for solitude, accompanied by a deep loneliness, will often set in. The person will often become very passive with no desire to change.
2. Extreme behavior (see Mark 5:4). An explosive temper and extreme uncontrollable anger could be signs of demonic activity. These are dangerous behaviors that control the individual and affect surrounding loved ones.
3. Personality changes (see Mark 5:9,12). Changes in personality, extreme or mild, may be evidence of demonic activity. And though all cases of multiple personality may not be demonic, in most cases demon activity is involved.
4. Restlessness and insomnia (see Mark 5:5). The demoniac cried in the tombs "night and day." He couldn't sleep. Insomnia can be a sign of a physical or spiritual problem. God has gifted His children with sleep (see Ps. 127:2). So when you can't sleep night after night and there is no medical reason, the devil may be tormenting you.
5. A terrible inner anguish (see Mark 5:5). Grief and anguish are normal emotions. Yet persistent unresolved anguish that won't leave after normal therapies of counseling, encouragement and prayer could well be demonic.
6. Self-inflicted injury and suicide. In Mark 5:5, the demonized man was cutting himself. And in Mark 9:14-29, a man's son was both deaf and mute because of a demon, and the evil spirit would often throw the boy into fire and water to destroy him. Demons can cause people to injure themselves and even incite suicide.
7. Unexplained illness. When medical testing produces no physical cause for an illness, then we should look to the mind and spirit for answers. Sometimes illnesses are psychological, and good counseling can result in a cure. Other times the battle is with demons. Luke 13:11-16 tells the story of a "daughter of Abraham" who was afflicted by a "spirit of infirmity." Although she was a child of God, she was tormented by illnesses caused by this class of demons.
8. Addictive behavior. Addiction to alcohol, drugs, sex, food, gambling and other things opens the door to demonic influence and control. I'm not saying demons cause all of these problems. But anything that causes one to be out of control opens that person to infernal control.
9. Abnormal sexual behavior. The spirit of harlotry is mentioned several times in Ezekiel 16:20-51. This spirit infected the nation of Israel with the sins of Sodom and even motivated the people to sacrifice their own children. Homosexuality, adultery, fornication and even infanticide were all inspired by the spirit of harlotry (see Hos. 4:12). And nations and families are sold into spiritual bondage by the witchcraft of this spirit (see Nah. 3:4). When we play around with sexual sin, we open ourselves to this demonic spirit. We must battle this principality that dominates our nation.
10. Defeat, failure and depression in the Christian life. It is Satan's purpose to rob us of the victorious life that is ours in Christ (see 2 Cor. 2:10-14). This symptom is often manifested by an inability to praise and worship, which is a weapon of warfare. In Psalm 106:47, David asks God for salvation so he could "triumph in [God's] praise."
11. Occult involvement and behavior. Occult involvement is clearly a symptom of demonic control. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 catalogs the works of the occult, including child sacrifice, fortune-telling, sorcery and calling up the dead.
12. Speech difficulties. In Matthew 9:32-33, Jesus rebuked a demon, and the mute man was able to speak. Speech difficulties may be physical, emotional or mental, but in some cases they are demonic. Extreme language and cursing also may be prompted by the enemy.
13. Doctrinal error. First Timothy 4:1 warns that in the last days deceiving spirits will teach the doctrines of demons. Today religious cults and charlatans abound. The reason these deceivers draw many people is the power of the demonic that teaches them.
14. Religious legalism. In Galatians 3, the church at Galatia had forsaken a faith ministry that resulted in the miraculous for a law ministry of rules and regulations. Paul classified this error as witchcraft. Some deeply religious people are under the bondage of tradition, man-made rules and outward appearances. Demons thrive in this kind of environment, especially demons of control. Whenever something is substituted for faith in the finished work of Christ, it is a doctrine of demons. read more
God is shifting the church from one seasonal pIatformto another. Are we ready?
There is an uneasy feeling in
evangelicalism today that everything is changing. Long-held certitudes
are being challenged both within and without the Christian faith. The
way things were even 10 years ago is no longer the way things are today.
Western Christianity has reached a
critical juncture. We have come to the end of the line—not the end of
the line for Christianity, but the end of the line for the track we
have been on.
We are like people on a subway who have
taken a train as far as it will go. The car has stopped, but we have
not exited. We’re sitting in the terminus, waiting for the train to
start moving again.
We have two choices.
We can stay on the train that’s going
nowhere, or we can disembark, find our way through the confusing
labyrinth of the new station, locate the proper platform for continuing
our journey and catch the train that will take us farther down the line.
It reminds me of times I’ve been in Paris traveling across the city on
the metro system. If I want to get from Notre Dame to Montmartre, I
can’t do it on one train. I have to get off, find the correct platform
and catch a new train. If you’ve never done it before, it can be
This could be a prophetic analogy for
the heightened uneasiness we’re feeling in this first part of the 21st
century. We need to transfer to a new train, and we’re not quite sure
We can be quite certain of one thing,
however: The train we have been on will not carry Christianity forward
in a compelling or engaging way—no matter how enthusiastically we sing
“Give Me That Old Time Religion” as we sit motionless on the track.
It’s easy to be disconcerted by all
this. During a time of pronounced uncertainty it is tempting to succumb
to nostalgia, to long for some point in the past that we identify as
the “glory days.” But we cannot go back.
The healthy practice of recognizing
the contributions of the past and building on them is not the same as a
regressive attempt to return to a bygone era.
Neither is revivalism the answer. Too
often it is a naive attempt to recapture a particular past. It’s like a
Renaissance fair—nice entertainment for a pleasant afternoon, but you
can’t live there.
An idealized memory of the past is not
a vision that can carry us into the future. Nostalgic reminiscing is
for those who no longer have the courage or will to creatively engage
with contemporary challenges and opportunities. All of this is related
to the critical juncture we’ve come to in the course of Western
then, what is this train we’re on that is stuck at the station? I think
it can be summed up as “Christianity characterized by protest.” We need
to face reality—the “protest train” has come to the end of the line.
It’s been 500 years since the
Protestant Reformation—when Christianity first boarded this protest
train. At the beginning of the line, it was a way forward from the
moribund corruption of medieval Catholicism.
But for all the good the Reformation
did (and it was absolutely necessary!) we must understand it for what
it was. It was a debate between Roman Catholics and Protestant
reformers over the theology and practice of the medieval church, a
debate among Christians within Christendom.
And that’s all well and good.
But we no longer live in that
Christendom—the one in which Christianity was the default assumption of
an entire age, continent and culture. We live in an era that is, if not
post-Christian, certainly post-Christendom.
Yet we make the mistake of trying to
engage our postmodern secular culture in the same way the reformers
engaged medieval Catholicism—through protest. This approach doesn’t
make sense and is no longer tenable.
The Reformation, though it brought
necessary reform, placed us on a trajectory to become angry protestors.
Protest is deeply ingrained in our identity. It’s in our DNA. But
Protestant reform is no longer the central issue and is not the
problem. The problem is our uncharitable and ugly protest attitude.
attempt to engage post-Enlightenment secular people with the gospel of
Jesus Christ by protesting their sin and secularism is madness. It’s a
method guaranteed to fail. It is simply not the way for the church to
move forward. We are in danger of being reduced to angry protesters
sitting in the station on a train going nowhere, shouting at people who
long ago stopped listening to us.
If we are going to persuade a
skeptical world of the gospel of Jesus Christ and make a compelling
case for Christianity in this century, we will have to do so on their terms. We can no longer pretend to be living in medieval Christendom or frontier America.
Simply citing chapter and verse and
shouting, “The Bible says so!” is going to be largely ineffective.
Telling a secular world that does not possess an a priori acceptance of Scripture that Jesus is the way because John 14:6 says so is seen as circular reasoning and unconvincing.
To persuade postmodern Westerners that Jesus is the
way we must actually demonstrate the Jesus way as a viable alternative
lifestyle. This lifestyle will have to be characterized, not by angry
protest and polarizing politics, but by faith and hope and—most of
Because of our tradition of protest
inherited from the Reformation, as well as the American Revolution, we
have an ingrained infatuation for the angry dissenter who can “tell it
like it is.” Whether it’s delivered by a pundit, politician or
preacher, the rant has become something of a contemporary art form.
But this kind of populism plays well
only with those who already agree with us. It’s cathartic and can
“energize the base,” as we say, but in the end the angry preachers
stuck in a paradigm of protest only further alienate an already
disinterested culture. They deepen the destructive “Us vs. Them”
attitude endemic in American evangelicalism.
Have we embraced, due to our
frightened response to uncertainty and shifting culture, an angry “Ann
Coulter Christianity” and made apostles of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck
and Sean Hannity without recognizing they are simply entertainers and
profiteers in America’s culture war? If so, we had better disembark the
protest train before we are marginalized into complete irrelevance.
Now that we are a full decade into the
third Christian millennium, it’s time to take stock of a movement that
in Western culture isn’t moving forward much anymore. How then have
American evangelicals come to be identified?
Largely by our protests and our politics. We are mostly known for what we are against
and what political positions we hold. We have unwittingly allowed our
movement to be defined in the negative and to be co-opted as a useful
tool in the cynical world of partisan politics.
don’t we have something better to do? Don’t we have some good news to
tell? Isn’t it time for us to become identified by something more
refreshing and more imaginative than angry protest and partisan
politics? Might it not be time for a new reformation? And this time,
not a reformation in the form of protest, but one in some other form?
The purpose of reformation actually is re-formation—to recover a true form. What is the true form of Christianity? It is the cruciform—the shape of the cross. The hope I see for Christianity in the 21st century is in a “cruciform reformation.”
Instead of using protest as a pattern,
what if the church reformed itself according to the cruciform? What if
we responded to hostility and criticism, not with angry retaliation,
but in the Christ-like form of forgiving love? What if instead of
“fighting for our rights” we laid down our rights and in love simply
prayed, “Father, forgive them”?
Or ask yourself these questions: Does
the protest paradigm look like the cruciform? Does the Christian who
wants to protest every perceived slight with an angry petition remind
you of the Christ who forgave His enemies from the cross? Does our
grasping for power and privilege conform to the image of the crucified
Five hundred years ago Martin Luther
and the other reformers looked to Scripture as the basis for reforming
the church. I suggest we do the same. And I suggest we center our
reading in the Gospels.
The great 20th century Swiss
theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote: “Being disguised under the
disfigurement of an ugly crucifixion and death, the Christ upon the
cross is paradoxically the clearest revelation of who God is.”
He’s correct. The cross is the full
and final revelation of God. His nature of forgiving love is supremely
demonstrated at the cross. When Jesus could have summoned 12 legions of
angels to exact vengeance, He instead prayed for His enemies to be
Vengeance was canceled in favor of
love. Retaliation was overruled in favor of reconciliation. Protest was
abandoned in favor of forgiveness. This is the cruciform.
That evangelical Christianity has
become identified by protest and politics instead of forgiving love is
nothing short of scandalous. The disreputable behavior of celebrity
preachers notwithstanding, the greatest scandal in the evangelical
church is that we are no longer associated with the practice of radical
It should be obvious that forgiveness
lies at the heart of the Christian faith. That should be obvious from
the simple fact that at the most crucial moments the gracious melody of
forgiveness is heard as the recurring theme of Christianity.
Consider how prevalent forgiveness is in Christianity’s seminal moments and sacred texts.
As Jesus teaches His disciples to pray
they are instructed to say, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive
those who trespass against us” (see Luke 11:4). As Jesus hangs on the
cross we hear Him pray—almost unbelievably: “Father, forgive them”
(Luke 23:34, NKJV). In His first resurrection appearance to His
disciples, Jesus says, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are
forgiven them” (John 20:23). And in the Apostles’ Creed we are taught
to confess, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”
Whether we look to The Lord’s Prayer,
or Jesus’ death or resurrection, or the great creeds of the church, we
are never far from the theme of forgiveness. If Christianity isn’t
about forgiveness, it’s about nothing at all. And I am afraid that if
we don’t leave the protest train, we are in danger of making
Christianity about ... nothing at all!
have come to the end of an era. We are in a time of transition. Things
are uncertain. Old assumptions are being re-evaluated. We feel
uncomfortable. We are trying to make our way through a confusing metro
station we’ve never been to. We are tempted to cling to the familiar
and stay on the train that has brought us here.
That is not the way forward. We have
to find the new platform and catch the next train. The platform is
forgiveness. The train is a cruciform reformation. If we leave the
paradigm of protest, position ourselves on a platform of radical
forgiveness and get on board with a cruciform reformation, the 21st
century will be full of hope, promise and unparalleled opportunity for
the church of Jesus Christ.
Brian Zahndis pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Mo., and author of What to Do on the Worst Day of Your Life. His next book, Unconditional? (Charisma House), is scheduled to release in January.
The Protestant Reformation began in Germany in 1517 with Martin Luther, a Saint Augustine friar and professor. Luther wrote and published The Ninety-Five Theses as a protest of clerical abuses aimed at the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.
He is said to have posted his Ninety-Five Theses
to the main door of The Castle Church in Wittenberg. At the time, the
church was a repository for one of Europe’s largest collections of
Catholic relics. The storehouse included some extreme oddities such as
vials of the milk of the Virgin Mary—but viewing the antiquities was
said to bring official relief from temporal punishment for sins in
However, Luther was primarily disgusted
with “indulgences.” The Catholic Church sold these as part of a
fundraising scheme and propagated them upon the people in both
convoluted language and theology:
Buying an indulgence would enable
the payee to partly or wholly avoid—depending on specific Church
restrictions—God’s temporal punishment due for sins committed but
Numerous religious voices fell in line to support
Luther’s initial protest. The discontent spread quickly, due largely to
the efficiency of the printing press. It enabled copies of The Ninety-Five Theses and other documents and ideas to be disseminated widely.
Paralleling the events of the
Reformation in Germany was a similar movement in Switzerland under
Ulrich Zwingli, a Zurich pastor.
Some of Zwingli’s followers, however, believed the German Reformation was too conservative.
Ultimately, ensuing protests in
assorted locations spawned new groups or movements—such as Calvinism,
which has its basis in the writings of John Calvin, a French theologian.
In 1521, Luther was excommunicated from the Church by Pope Leo X, who had also condemned the Reformation.
Well, the world as we know it did not end last weekend –
much to the chagrin of a few Bible teachers.
I’ve been around long enough to remember the flurry of
interest in a book titled 88 Reasons Why
the Rapture Will Be in 1988. When that year passed, the author followed up
with predictions that Jesus would come in 1989 . . . then 1993 . . . then
Now another misguided prognosticator suddenly became famous
(or infamous) by assuring us all that Judgment Day would definitely be last
Saturday, May 21. What now will be the fallout for his devotees?
Don’t get me wrong. A time of worldwide judgment is indeed
coming. Scripture is very clear about that. Paul confidently proclaimed, “God has appointed a day on which He will
judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by
raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). But we get into trouble – big
trouble – when we become more definitive than the Bible. Jesus said no one
knows the day nor hour of His return to Earth (Matt. 24:36). read more
We all have unseen weakness
that could make us vulnerable to the enemy’s attack. Here’s how to be on your
Many people who by the grace of God have never been "had" by the devil wrongly assume that all departures from godliness are nothing but rebellion and proofs of inauthenticity. They have no idea of the suffering involved when someone with a genuine heart for God slips from the path.
I don't know how many times I've repeated the statement I'm about to make, but I'll keep saying it until at least one skeptic hears, "Not everyone in a stronghold of sin is having a good time." read more
Everybody is either in a trial now or between trials.
You have either just had one, you are going to have one, or you are having one. But why call it a "fiery" trial as Peter does? This is because by its light the fire reveals precisely what we are spiritually.
It is apparent, of course, that this only appeals to those who have a desire to be godly.
For example, our endurance can be tested during a trial by how we respond to it. If we begin complaining and murmuring, we will acknowledge later that we did not stand up to the trial very well for we did not display a godly nature. Thus trials will test our ability to manifest all the fruit of the Spirit. They test our work whether we have been walking in the light, and they expose how spiritual we really are, which is the sum of all that has gone on before.
What makes a trial a trial is that God, as it were, leaves us, and we feel deserted and betrayed. We say, "God, I don't believe this; why would You do this to me? Why desert me at a moment when I needed You the most?" Is that not the way you have felt? That's why it is called a "fiery" trial; God leaves you to test you, to see what is there. And so, this is the thing about the trial by fire: it exposes how spiritual we really are—which is the sum total of all our Christian living so far. We are forced to see ourselves, and we can find out how Christlike we truly are.
Excerpted from When God Says "Well Done!" (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1993). read more
Learn ways to connect with God’s supernatural power.
I will never forget the moment a 12-year-old deaf girl stepped onto the platform where I was standing. I had been led to pray for deaf ears to be opened, and as God’s presence and glory filled the room, miracles began occurring all over the stadium.
My team brought this young girl up to testify. When they brushed back her long brown hair, I was astonished. She had been born without ears. Where her ears should have been, there were just little holes in the sides of her head. The anointing of God had come upon her when I prayed for deaf ears, and she felt a popping in her ears. At that moment, eardrums were formed on the inside of her head. Her hearing was opened for the first time in her life.
I knew the miracle had nothing to do with me. My part was simply to lead the people in worship until the glory of God came and then let God do the rest. That night in Mexico we saw many healed by God’s power, even several people who were crippled.
I had first witnessed the amazing healing power of God when I was 14 years old. But during the next several years I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t seeing more of that same power demonstrated in weekly church life.
I was tired of powerless prayers. When I prayed for someone I wanted something to happen! Combined with my frustration was an insatiable thirst and longing for a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit. Two things were happening simultaneously: God was making me dissatisfied with the status quo, and He was placing a spiritual hunger in my heart that drove me into hours of communion with the Holy Spirit.
During the last 20 years, God has taught me many things about living a life full of spiritual power. The most important thing is that walking intimately with Him and having a deep grounding in His Word are essential for Him to release tremendous power through us. I’ve been blessed to witness the demonstration of His power through me thousands of times in the lives of countless people.
Another thing I’ve learned about God’s power and gifts is that although they flow out of His grace and are activated by faith, personal preparation in the areas of character, integrity and holiness enable us to sustain a constant flow of His power through our lives.
However, we must always remember that He is the source, and it is by His grace that we are qualified to be partakers of His heavenly glory. It has nothing to do with our efforts or works. If it did, we could take some of the credit. Since it doesn’t, God gets all the glory.
He wants to develop our character so we will be grounded in Christ and will properly steward the power He pours through us. But you don’t have to wait until you are a mature Christian to allow God to use you. You can begin to operate in the Spirit the moment Christ enters your heart.
This was true in my own life. I experienced many encounters and many moments of God’s power during my early years as a Christian. Those encounters shaped who I am today.
On the following pages are eight secrets to operating in the creative, miracle-power of God. This is by no means a simple three-step process, but I do believe if you apply these principles to your life, you’ll see signs and wonders released through you on a daily basis.
1. Cultivate God’s presence in your life. The more you can cultivate an environment that’s conducive to the Holy Spirit, the more of God’s presence you will carry. The more of His presence you carry, the more power you will have.
You cultivate this environment by spending time doing whatever it takes to have the person and presence of the Holy Spirit hanging out with you. Quickly confess and repent of the slightest leaning toward sin or spiritual darkness. Pray in tongues often. Cover yourself under the blood of Jesus. Meditate in the Word. Express worship to the Lord through song and prayer.
Constantly invite the Holy Spirit to be with you in evident ways as often as possible. Avoid anything that would grieve Him. You’ll find that as your life is filled with the atmosphere of the Holy Spirit, miracles, signs and wonders will be a natural overflow.
2. Cultivate God’s faith in your heart. True supernatural faith flows out of the spirit and affects the mind—not the other way around. Faith defies logic and natural reality for a higher spiritual reality. It causes natural things to line up with what God has already accomplished spiritually.
We must live in the Word and constantly renew our minds. Faith is born from revelation in the heart. When truth is revealed to your mind and heart by the Holy Spirit through the Word, faith comes alive on the inside of you.John 8:32 says, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (NKJV).
Soak your mind and spirit in God’s Word by constantly setting your thoughts on it, and the revelation of truth will produce supernatural faith in your heart. Heart-faith produced by the revelation of truth is the ultimate key to operating in God’s power, and the Bible tells us it comes from Jesus: “Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]” (Heb. 12:2, The Amplified Bible).
3. Add action to your faith. The power anointing comes for a reason and has an intended purpose. Isaiah 61:1 says, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (NKJV).
The power anointing for healing and miracles will manifest only if you’re praying for sick people to be healed. You must be intentional in looking for opportunities in which this anointing will be needed. The Bible tells us, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). The power anointing is given to help other people in a supernatural way and in the process reveal God’s heart and nature to them.
Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged. Stay focused and tenacious. No matter what you see, set your vision higher, know and understand God’s will and truth, and allow His faith to move you to action. This action will release the power of God and produce the miraculous.
4. Passionately pursue spiritual gifts. First Corinthians 14:1 tells us to earnestly desire spiritual gifts. I often lay my hands on my own belly during times of prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to stir up and manifest the gifts of the Spirit that are within me. Spiritual gifts of healing, working of miracles, words of knowledge and faith are all invaluable manifestations for the ministry of the miraculous. As you ask God to stir them up, He will.
The Greek word for the gifts of the Spirit is charisma, which Strong’s Concordance defines as “gifts of grace; a favor which one receives without any merit of his own.” You can’t work for or earn them. They are given freely by the Holy Spirit just as salvation is. You can have all of them—and the more you pursue them, the more you will have!
5. Practice prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:14-21 gives an account of the healing of an epileptic boy. The disciples couldn’t cure him, but Jesus did. When Jesus was asked why the disciples had no success, He said it was because of their unbelief.
It wasn’t a question of God’s will. Nor did Jesus focus on the boy’s faith. It was the level of faith in the disciples’ hearts. Yet He also pointed out that “this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (v. 21).
Prayer and fasting help to release God’s faith within us. It’s the faith that produces the miracle, not the fasting. Fasting and prayer in this instance serve as the passageway into the fullness of faith that exists in God’s heart. Again, it isn’t by our works, but by His faith and grace extended toward us.
6. Learn to hear God’s voice. To operate in the supernatural we must develop a keen sensitivity to the person of the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t work the same way all the time, and we need to hear His direction for each situation.
Consider Jesus. He saw signs and wonders on a consistent basis in His daily life, but He never prayed the same way twice. Sometimes He laid hands on people; sometimes He instructed them to take a specific action; sometimes He did unusual things Himself such as spit in mud and put it into a person’s eyes. He was unconventional but completely Spirit-led.
The key is He did only what He saw His Father doing (see John 5:19).His ability to hear and see the actions of His heavenly Father came out of the time He spent with Him in prayer and communion. If you want to sensitize your spiritual eyes and ears, you must put yourself in a place where you can see and hear God.
This will often require you to pull away into a “deserted place” so you can place all your heart and mind on Him. When you exercise your spiritual senses by learning to listen and not just talk, you will be led by the Spirit to see wonderful manifestations of His power.
7. Associate with the anointing. A major key for me in being brought to a new level of God’s power was learning that it was OK to go where God was moving. Some people think: If God wants to give me something, He can come right here into my room. I don’t need to go anywhere. Of course God can meet us in our own rooms, and many times He does.
However, that doesn’t negate the fact that you can literally “catch” the anointing by putting yourself in a place where God is moving. Find people and ministries that are carrying God and get around them. We learn from one another and receive impartation of power through association.
These corporate encounters with God do not replace your hidden devotion expressed in the place of private prayer. They simply add to and enhance your relationship with God.
I’ve been blessed to have been able to associate with some of the most anointed people on the earth today. My fellowship with them has not only stirred my faith but also released a transference of wisdom, revelation and power into my own life and ministry.
Anointed fellowship, whether from meeting with another person or from listening to anointed teaching CDs and videos, is crucial to cultivating the anointing in your life. Associate with God’s power by hanging out where He is.
8. Be motivated by love. Love must be the foundation for everything you do. Without it, power can lead to pride and self-inflation.
Love is the greatest manifestation of God’s power. It was because of love that Jesus walked in total obedience. It was because of love that the power of sin and Satan were defeated.
Love is what motivates our faith (see Gal. 5:6). Love is what causes us to live in the Spirit. Love is the greatest virtue of all.
Without faith you can’t please God. But without love you can’t know Him at all. Love filled with truth is the ultimate spiritual weapon against sin, temptation, offense, disunity, sickness, oppression and spiritual corruption, and death. Love conquers all.
As you apply these principles to your life with God, expect to see His glorious power and anointing released in you and through you.
There is someone out there who is waiting for a miracle. They need God’s touch. Your life and obedience to God may be the missing ingredient!
Matt Sorger (mattsorger.com) is a revivalist who hosts international miracle crusades and conferences for equipping Christians in the power of the Holy Spirit. He first experienced God’s power at age 14 after seeing his mother supernaturally healed. While pursuing a degree in medicine, he was called into ministry.
world has a lot of major problems that we in affluent nations tend to
ignore. The trouble is, these issues are so big they make us feel like
there's nothing we can do, so we don't do anything. That's why Mike and
Danae Yankoski wrote Zealous Love: A Practical Guide to Social
Justice. It breaks down some of the biggest needs and provides
information on ways we can do something about them. Please read our
interview with Mike and pray about how you can help.This article was originally posted in New Man e-Magazine.
New Man: For those
that haven't heard of it, what does the term "social justice" mean?
Mike Yankoski: Social
justice is the necessary outworking of the radical love that Christ
has shown for us. As followers of Christ, we know that God loves us,
and we are commanded by Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Social justice is the way of working that out in the world. People in
this world are hungry, without clean water, fighting diseases and human
trafficking, and our response to these things needs to be framed by
God's love for us.
are five simple steps you can take to begin a relationship with God:
Recognize your need. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned
and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, NASB). All of us are sinners,
and we must admit our need for a Savior.
Repent of your sins. Because God is completely holy, our sins
create a wall that separates us from Him. By confessing your sins you will find
forgiveness. “Repent” means to make a 180-degree turnaround. The Bible
promises: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us
our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
Believe in Jesus. God worked a miracle when He sent His
only Son to die for us. We don’t have to pay for our sins … Jesus paid it all!
We can’t work for our salvation. It is a gift from God, and all He requires is
that we believe. Put your faith in Him. The Bible says: “For God so loved the
world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him
should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Receive His salvation. God has given us this free gift, but we
must accept it. Thank Him for sending Jesus to die on the cross for you. Thank
Him for His amazing love, mercy and forgiveness. Then ask Him to live in your
heart. His promise to us is sure: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave
the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
5. Confess your faith. The Bible
assures us: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your
heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). You
have been born again and are now part of God’s family. Tell
someone else what Jesus has done in your life!
amazing experience can be yours. Embrace God’s love and receive the salvation
that only Jesus Christ gives.
If you have walked
through these five steps, you can say this prayer:
Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for me. I recognize
that You are the true Son of God, sent to earth to pay the full price for all of
our sins. I believe You were raised from the dead and that You live forever in
heaven. You are God Almighty, and I surrender to Your lordship. I am sorry that
I have lived my life apart from You. Please forgive me for thinking that my
life could have true meaning without You, My Creator and Lord.
I turn from my sins and
choose to follow You. Please wash me clean and come into my heart. I give You
all my hurts, my fears, my unforgiveness, my pride, my greed and all the
garbage of my past. Thank You that I can start my life over again with You.
Amen.” read more
Why some believers in Christ don't want to be called Christians.
Charisma places accuracy at the forefront in each story we publish, but sometimes even our most carefully crafted words can send the wrong signal. This was the case in a recent article we published about Messianic Jews and Israel’s statehood, which included the subheading, “These brave Christians are sharing the love of Jesus in Israel.” With the exception of the word “brave” (Jews in Israel living out their faith in Yeshua are brave indeed), we’ve learned that the rest of the phrase could be damaging to Messianic Jews’ vital task of making Yeshua real to Jewish people. Our friend Eitan Shishkoff, a Jewish believer and director of Tents of Mercy in the Galilee, graciously explains why in the following article.
As believers in God’s Son, we stand at a crossroads today of two major developments rooted in our spiritual history. Each emerged from events that took place more than 40 years ago. One is the spiritual renewal that swept the world beginning in 1967. The other is the rebirth of Israel as a nation, highlighted by the recovery of Jerusalem as a Jewish city, also in 1967.
The late Bible teacher Derek Prince used the term “parallel restoration” to refer to this simultaneous restoring of God’s full activity in the church and the resurrection of Israel from exile’s oblivion. This awakening of both the church of Jesus and the Israel He loves constitutes nothing less than the preconditions for His second coming.
At this intersection is a curious figure: the Messianic Jew. His arrival coincides with the events of 1967. From that year on, the Spirit of God touched many searching young Jews, like me, and we found Jesus. Then we returned to our Jewish heritage as New Testament disciples of Jesus, or in Hebrew, Yeshua.
Thus, the “Messianic Jewish movement” was born, giving rise to congregations founded to provide a spiritual home for Jewish and non-Jewish followers of Yeshua who want to celebrate the biblical Jewish roots of their faith.
We are a curiosity because we tear down the wall between Jews and Jesus erected by both church and synagogue. That wall is built on the foundational “rule” that says: “If you’re Jewish, you can’t believe in Jesus. If you do believe in Jesus, you’re no longer Jewish.”
This rule is the primary reason we had not discovered our Messiah in the centuries since His birth—and it was unintentionally affirmed in a recent issue of Charisma,for which I was interviewed as one of the Israeli believers. Messianic Jews truly appreciated being featured, but when I read the description of us as brave Christians sharing our faith in Israel, I was shocked.
I know the term “brave Christians” was meant as a serious compliment, but it simply is not our self-understanding. We have not converted to Christianity. We have returned to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through His Messiah, Yeshua.
Our life practice, residence in the land of Israel and testimony before our people are a collective reality, which is that Jesus has made us more Jewish than ever, and through Him we have come to deeply value and celebrate our biblical Jewish heritage in a fresh, Spirit-breathed way. This is our evangelism. This is the way we would like to be known.
Concerted campaigns in several Israeli cities have publicly condemned us as nothing more than a mission to convert Jews to Christianity. These accusations threaten relationships we’ve worked years to develop. They severely miscommunicate the testimony of Yeshua, making Him irrelevant and undesirable to Israelis. This “turning Jews into Christians,” which was even strongly indicated by several references in the article, is patently not our aim.
So, if we are not bringing Israelis into Christianity, then what are we doing?
We are seeking with all our hearts to introduce our people to Yeshua, the Messiah promised by the prophets. We are rejoicing in the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy that God would make a new covenant with us. We are growing new houses of worship—not as missionary churches, but as indigenous, Hebrew-speaking, Yeshua-centered congregations in Israel.
I am grateful that Charisma regularly focuses stories on Israel. As Israelis and as Messianic Jews we are aware that not all Christians have acknowledged modern Israel as the dramatic fulfillment of biblical prophecy that it is. Many don’t know that more Jewish people embrace Jesus as the Messiah today than at any time since the first century. Charisma stands with us.Thank you!
How then do Israeli Messianic followers of Yeshua want to be known by the global church?
We want to be known as those who have come home. We’ve rejoined the nation of the patriarchs and the apostles.
Like Yeshua’s first disciples, we see ourselves as those who have neither rejected their heritage nor converted to another religion.
We are called by God to identify ourselves as New Covenant Jews, heralding the return of our King with the words, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:39, NKJV).
At the same time, we delight in the true brotherhood shared by all His followers, Jew and non-Jew. We are one in the Spirit and sincerely covet your friendship and prayers.
Eitan Shishkoff is the founder and director of Tents of Mercy, a network of Messianic congregations and humanitarian aid works in the Galilee region of Israel.
What do you say to a sister in Christ who can’t get pregnant?
I said something stupid today. Trying
to offer a word of wisdom without casting false hope to a woman with
a high-risk pregnancy, I made a comment that went over like a lead
balloon. Although Maria has two children, she has also lost two
babies to the same physical complication currently endangering her
unborn child, and she is afraid to bond with the seven-month-old baby
in her womb because she knows the baby could die during childbirth.
“I have another friend who lost three
babies,” I told her, “and when they learned during one of the
pregnancies that their baby wouldn’t make it, they just decided to
love that child for whatever time they would have her in the womb.”
That couple’s love for their unborn child provided some meaning
during their time of grief, but it wasn’t exactly a word of
encouragement to Maria, whose legitimate fears have robbed her of any
joyful feelings about her pregnancy.
It’s not as though my statement was
out of context; we were talking about the painful emotions associated
with infertility. I sensed an instant bond between us because I’ve
walked down a similar path. But of all people, I should have known
better than to try to console her with someone else’s story.
As I apologized for my dispiriting
comment, I assured Maria that her guarded heart is a normal human
reaction to the grief she’s already experienced. I call it the wall
The Bible gives us an inside look at
another woman’s sorrow in the story of Hannah (see 1 Sam. 1).
Hannah felt dejected and ashamed because she was unable to have
Her husband, Elkanah, loved her very
much, but he had a second wife, Paninnah, whom he apparently married
to bear him offspring. Peninnah provoked Hannah to bitterness year
after year by reminding her of her barrenness.
During one of Hannah’s annual
pilgrimages to Shiloh with Elkanah, she was so consumed with sorrow
that she wept and could not eat. When she went to the temple, her
anguish was so great that she couldn’t even verbalize her prayers.
Eli, the priest, judged her weeping as drunkenness and scolded her
(see vv. 13–14).
Later, realizing he had misjudged her,
Eli pronounced a blessing over Hannah, saying, “May the God of
Israel grant the request you have asked of Him” (v. 17, NLT). To
Hannah, this was a spiritual breakthrough. It meant that God had
heard her prayers. She soon composed herself and went on her way.
Eventually, Hannah conceived and gave
birth to Samuel, whom she took to the temple at the age of 3 to live
out his life in service to the Lord. Later, she gave birth to five
Not every infertility story has an
ending like Hannah’s. But this account does show the gut-wrenching
struggle of a woman who entrusted her wounded heart to the Lord and
awaited His loving answer to her cry.
It’s not shameful to be childless in
our culture, but it can be devastating when it’s not by choice.
Almost 5 million couples in the United States experience infertility
at some time in their marriage.
Yet most often, couples who struggle
with this trauma are met either awkward silence or inappropriate
advice, even in the church. Comments like “Just relax, honey” are
both an insult and a trivialization of what is usually a muddle of
medical, emotional and spiritual mysteries.
So what can we do or say to help
someone who is struggling to overcome the pain of childlessness?
Here are some general guidelines:
1. Be a friend. Genuine,
supportive friendship is the greatest gift we can offer to anyone
dealing with infertility. A childless wife sometimes feels like a
misfit, even in today’s society.
She may have more spontaneous lifestyle
than woman with the responsibility of a family, but she may be too
old for the college crowd and too young to be a companion of women
whose child-rearing days are behind them. Yet with her peers—young
mothers—she can be painfully aware of the “survivor’s guilt”
that new moms sometimes feel around women who are struggling just to
2. Communicate. While it’s
good to be sensitive to a childless women’s feelings, don’t
assume she is jealous or unable to rejoice in your happiness with
your children. She undoubtedly will have days when she would love to
attend your daughter’s school play, and other days when just seeing
a baby could send her into tears.
The key is honest communication. Allow
her to freely accept or decline your invitations. If she is
uncomfortable around your children, plan a ladies’ night or
For a woman in your community or church
who is struggling with infertility, your physical presence and
availability may fill a barren place in her day-to-day routines that
even her family can’t. if yours is a long-distance relationship,
phone calls and letters during this season of life will be priceless,
and they will undoubtedly come at just the right moments.
3. Acknowledge her spiritual state.
Don’t be surprised if this friend displays a pessimistic
outlook on life or seems obsessed with having a baby. Realize that
the month-after-month disappointments she experiences or the hormonal
changes that take place with each pregnancy, along with the grief of
lost babies, only heighten her wall of sorrow.
A woman who continually experiences
disappointment and death may find it hard to have a positive outlook.
Conversely, if she masks her sorrow, it may be because she is afraid
to reveal her pain lest she seem unspiritual. She may also be angry
at God or feel that He is punishing her.
Help your friend work through her
spiritual confusion. Let her know that she doesn’t have to
understand God’s plans and purposes in order to trust Him. Provide
a safe place where she can wrestle with her spiritual questions.
4. Recognize the uniqueness of her
experience. Realize that husbands and wives may deal with their
questions and grief differently. Despite Elkanah’s deep love for
Hannah, his question, “You have me—isn’t that better than
having ten sons?” (1 Sam. 1:8) shows his inability to understand
This kind of marital dynamic is not
unusual. The guilt and blame that can emerge from infertility are
enough to set many couples on the road to divorce. A supportive,
accountable relationship with another couple may help, but because
infertility issues seem to be (and sometimes are) so permanent,
couples may not take the initiative to seek others out.
In addition to struggling with guilt,
couples going through infertility workups are often paying high
medical expenses and living in “limbo,” always leaving room for
the possibility of pregnancy. The ongoing plan for a family affects
everything from career decisions to vacation choices and the kind of
automobile to buy. The tentative nature of their existence and the
insecurity of “not knowing” may be more difficult on the wife
than on her husband.
In general, a little understanding and
a lot of honest dialogue go a long way toward healing the pain of
infertility. The goal is to walk with your friend until she finds a
solution to her situation. God’s answer may be a miraculous
pregnancy, the building of a family through adoption or foster
parenting, or the peace to live a childless, yet fulfilling
Until the answer comes, don’t be like
Peninnah who provoked Hannah to bitterness. Don’t be like Hannah’s
husband who trivialized her pain or like Eli who misunderstood her
anguish. Don’t be too quick with your words, like I was with Maria.
Even encouraging words can be received as a prophecy, so don’t be
push or presumptuous.
Instead, be like Jesus, the friend who
sticks closer than a brother, who wept at the tomb of Lazarus and
then raised him from the dead. And when you don’t know what to say,
just remain silent, shedding an empathetic tear or giving your friend
the opportunity to share her heart. Your presence alone can speak
volumes, resurrect her faith and help break down her wall of sorrow.
Anahid Schweikert is a free-lance journalist in Onalaska,
As God's worshippers, how can we match the mission of Jesus with the music and expressions of worship we embrace. And how do we facilitate worship as a lifestyle? It may require us to take practical steps toward personal change:
1) Refocus. Reductionist Western worship is possible because we have lost a sense of awe and reverence for who God is, fashioning instead a God in our own image. Author Mark Labberton writes in his book The Dangerous Act of Worship: "The God we seek is the God we want, not the God who is. We fashion a god who blesses without obligation, who lets us feel his presence without living his life, who stands with us and never against us, who gives us what we want, when we want it." Let's refocus on who really matters. read more
A dictionary definition of envy would be something like "a feeling of discontent aroused by someone else's possessions." That is what I mean by being unsatisfied. However, love gives one a feeling of being satisfied. The person who is unsatisfied is still looking for his identity, wanting to know who he is.
Three things can be said about envy. First, it is of the flesh; it flows from nature. We don't have to go to school to learn how to be envious; everybody grows up that way. read more
Through Christ, you can do whatever you need to do in life
On July 2, 1932, in Atlantic City, N.J., a baby boy was born. Six weeks later, a couple adopted the infant, but when he was 5 his mother died. His father moved from state to state looking for work and taking his young son with him. At age 12, the boy landed his first job at a restaurant counter—and loved it. When he was 15, his father wanted to move again, but by then the young man was working at the Hobby House restaurant in Fort Wayne, Ind., and didn’t want to leave his job. So he dropped out of school, moved into the local YMCA and went to work full time.
Several years later, his Hobby House boss offered him an opportunity. The man owned four Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlets that were failing. In four years, with hard work and determination, the young man turned the restaurants around financially, sold them back to KFC and received a portion of the profits from the sale. He was once a high school dropout, but now he was a millionaire at age 35. read more
I have discovered that as we seek the Lord our most
difficult periods can be transformed into wonderful breakthroughs into
God’s love. For me, one such season occurred during the years 1979 to
The association of churches with which I was aligned had
fallen under spiritual deception. Not only were its core doctrines
increasingly seeded with New Age influences, but also immorality crept
in, and key leaders began leaving their wives for other women. read more