I remember hearing Dutch Sheets share a dream that someone once had concerning the call to share the stories of old. Dutch was telling everyone that we must be willing to remind others of what God has already done and encourage those who have yet to experience the goodness of God with these stories: "Tell the Stories." It was and still is a clarion call for the ekklesia. Throughout my life, I have been an avid lover of history. No matter which era, as long as it pertained to history, I loved the stories. Naturally this love helped feed my passion and hunger for revival. I have spent years studying and learning as much as I can about the revivals and awakenings. I have always been intrigued by these stories, and I have encouragement to keep pressing through for the reality of revival and awakening.
A few days ago, I was preaching a message about the moment that David was anointed to be king and how Samuel was obedient in the process for God's anointed. In the midst of the message, something grabbed me that had never hit me the way it did in that moment. I've preached and taught from the passage multiple times, but Holy Spirit got a hold of me, and God spoke a simple statement: "It's time to create history, not reenact."
It's Not Going to Look Like Before
"When they came, he looked on Eliab, and said, 'Surely the anointed of the Lord is before Him'" (1 Sam. 16:6).
Samuel was told by God to go and prepare a sacrificial offering and to invite the sons of Jesse, as the next king was going to be anointed. Ultimately these sons were rejected, and Samuel had to ask Jesse if there were more sons. David would be in the field, but when he arrived, the Prophet Samuel anointed him to be king.
It was this verse that leaped out in my spirit as I heard the Lord speak concerning the stories of old. Wait, what? What does this verse have to do with the stories of revival, awakenings, outpourings, healing? The moment Eliab entered the room, Samuel took one look at him, thinking that surely this would be the one to be anointed as the next king. In verse 7, God tells Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."
Why would Samuel take one look and think that this could the one? Think about this: 1 Samuel 9 describes the search for a king whom Samuel would be responsible for anointing as well. Bu, look at how verse 2 describes Saul: "He had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice and handsome man, and there was not a better looking man among the children of Israel. From his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people."
When Eliab entered, Samuel had the immediate thought that this would be the next king simply because of the fact that his looks reminded Samuel of something he once recognized. It's not that Samuel missed it, as he never attempted to anoint Eliab. It's the fact that he thought that this could be the next king because he appeared to be like the current king.
The Problem of Similarity
The Lord began to speak about the problems of similarity as we have a tendency, whether in right or wrong motives, to compare former movements with current outpourings. There is nothing wrong with recognizing something based on a past experience, but it can become a problem when we take the similarities and try to make it something it was never destined to become. Had Samuel not listened to God, he would have anointed Eliab to become something he was never to become, and yet many quickly have labeled the wrong thing to be the right thing because they saw similarities.
When outpourings occur, we eagerly want them to be the thing that we once experienced or read about. It sounds like it once did. It was birthed like it once was. It has a feeling that feels like it did when we experienced it so many years ago. Can God do it again? Yes! Will God do it again? Yes! However, when He does it again there will be a new thing within what is being poured out. It may not begin as it once did. It may not have the sound like it once did. Those aren't the issues though. The issue is when we are so quick to label something to be what it is not. This is a real problem. We cannot afford to have a shadow of the past and claim it to be something it is not because of similarities.
Authentic outpourings, revival and awakening will have glimpses of previous movements, but we have to make sure God is anointing the current. When we tell the stories of old, we must guard our hearts with the sincerity of what God wants to anoint, not what we want it to become. I am in no way implying that this is easy. We must have our ears attentive to what heaven is declaring so we don't tell the stories of old in order to do our best to reenact those moments. God does not want us to reenact history; He is calling upon this generation to create history.
Is There Fresh Oil?
We must never stop telling the stories of old so that we never forget the possibilities of God. And we must never allow those stories to become our goal when God is wanting to do a new thing. I am extremely thankful for the outpourings such as The Welsh Revival, Azusa Street, Brownsville, Lakeland and Toronto as they have helped to shape the lives of many today. I love to hear the stories of Steve Hill and many others as they encourage me to keep pursuing the "more" of God. But, if all we have are the stories, we are missing the point.
Although many got to personally experience some amazing revivals, we cannot afford to strive to see a reenactment of those meetings. It's the remembrance of "when" that causes us to easily gravitate to something that appears to be similar. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, it is easy to depend upon the stories in such a way that we fail to cultivate the ground before us with the pursuit of fresh oil.
We have such a deep hunger for the former things that we often miss what is possible now because of the way it appears. We have to be determined to seek God's hand with current movements, regardless of how they appear. We have to ask ourselves if there is any fresh oil on what is before us. We can't tell the stories in hope that we live to see the same thing. We have to tell the stories in hope that we live to see greater things. With each revival, each outpouring and each awakening, there has been increase. There has been abundance that has been attached to the new. If we are not careful, we will miss what God has anointed because it doesn't have the appearance of the former. It's simple to label something as anointed when it has so many similarities to the former.
Tell the stories that we may never forget, but never tell the stories in order to reenact history. Don't anoint the similar so it will be something that has no oil, and don't reject the new because you can't discover the similarities. We must recognize that God is calling us to create our own history today.
Ryan Johnson is mantled in equipping the body of Christ to awaken the nations with a prophetic call of a rising ekklesia. As a revivalist and apostolic minister, Ryan ministers with a prophetic voice of revival and awakening, with the demonstration of God's purposes in regions, individuals and the church.
This article originally appeared at ryanjohnson.us.
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