If I receive more input from social media than I do the Word of God, my discouragement is self-inflicted. I owe myself a better approach to life than to live under the influence of what the devil thinks and does.
The enemy of our souls loves our attention—even negative attention. It is strange to me that many believers consider themselves spiritual for chasing the devil around from place to place. He is not worthy of being our focus.
Jesus didn't live in reaction to the devil or his works. Instead, He lived in response to the Father. He did only what He saw His Father do and said only what He heard His Father say. In doing so, He effectively destroyed the works of the devil without ever making him the center of His attention.
Living in denial isn't the answer. Real faith doesn't deny the existence of a problem. It denies the problem a place of influence. We are called to live conscious of the one who gave us the honor of living in a time of crisis. Some were never given this privilege. We must grab our moment with hope and great joy.
It's critical that we learn His approach to our day, as we are bombarded by the opinions of anyone with a computer or a phone. Exposing ourselves to these distracting voices erodes our hope and eventually undermines our faith. People become more convinced of the devil's success than of the power of the gospel. The enemy's aim is to keep me distracted, because in the distraction, my affection for Christ is diluted. But anchoring my soul in the promises and presence of God has the opposite effect.
God often reveals Himself opposite to His surroundings. In the wilderness, He manifested Himself to Israel as a pillar of fire at night when it was cold and dark and as a cloud during day when it was hot and bright. How then does God reveal Himself in a pandemic, a recession or racial conflict? He reveals Himself as the solution, the cure-all.
In the uniqueness of this past season, two vital things stood out to us. First is the power of two or three gathered in His name. God has been trying to convince us of the authority carried in the small gathering of the saints, but we've been slow to learn. The pandemic—and the closure of so many churches and large gatherings of believers—gave us another opportunity to learn this truth.
I still prefer being together in as large a group as possible. But the governmental authority of heaven rests upon the two or three gathered in His name. Discovering that reality increases our confidence for workplaces and neighborhoods to be His focus for divine activity simply because His representatives are there in agreement. The gates of hell cannot stand under the weighty influence of those who yield in unity to displaying God's heart.
Second, and equal in importance, is that "He sent His word and healed them" (Ps. 107:20a). This is the power of the declared word as depicted in Matthew 8:8b (NIV) when the soldier told Jesus, "Just say the word, and my servant will be healed." The lessons are many in this wonderful story, but for us in the pandemic, with all the meetings on TV, Zoom, FaceTime, YouTube and more, the lesson was and is the power in the declared word. Saying what He is saying releases power!
As a result of that declared word, we have seen people come out of comas, tumors disappear, bedridden people healed and celebrating—all because He sent His word and healed them through a yielded servant. A friend of mine has seen two resurrections from the dead, including one person who had a doctor's signed death certificate. How? The declared word. From hundreds of miles away, a word was spoken via technology, and the miracle happened.
Learning these two truths well positions us for this next season of extreme breakthrough because we cooperate with God's design. The large gatherings will resume. The privilege of being together will be celebrated in full force once again. But can we take the simplicity of the gospel found in the declared word, coupled with the governmental power that rests on the small group, and learn to incorporate that into the large gatherings? I hope so. Then exponential power God intended for us will be released, enabling us to gather in the billion-soul harvest.
As a fifth-generation pastor, Bill Johnson lives a life rich in the things of the Spirit, using heaven as a model for his life and ministry. As the senior pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, he is the author of several books, including Hope in Any Crisis.
This article was excerpted from the May issue of Charisma magazine. If you don't subscribe to Charisma, click here to get every issue delivered to your mailbox. During this time of change, your subscription is a vote of confidence for the kind of Spirit-filled content we offer. In the same way you would support a ministry with a donation, subscribing is your way to support Charisma. Also, we encourage you to give gift subscriptions at shop.charismamag.com, and share our articles on social media.
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