PROPHESY, VISIONS, AND DREAMS

Acts 2:17 – “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

You ever wonder why the church was birthed was such an offensive display of supernatural manifestations? Apparently, 120 people were filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to speak in a variety of random languages. The craziest thing ? They were all speaking at the same time and apparently continued long enough for quite a large crowd to gather. No human would ever have concocted that plan; it was obviously the plan of God. In the ensuing prophetic declaration by Peter, he shared the importance of prophesy, visions, and dreams. Sadly, these are the very things that are being ignored and even shunned in our modern church world. Check out the comments from the Fire Bible on this passage.

“Peter associates the speaking in other tongues with prophecy. This means that speaking in other tongues is one form of prophesying, which basically is using one’s voice for the service and glory of God under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts: (1) the 120 “were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (2:4); (2) the Holy Spirit came on Cornelius and his household, and Peter “heard them speaking in tongues and praising God” (10:44–47); (3) the disciples at Ephesus, when “the Holy Spirit came on them, … spoke in tongues and prophesied” (19:6). (4) Other signs or expressions of the Spirit through Spirit-filled people include prophetic dreams and visions. (5) The Spirit will be given to empower all of God’s people without respect to age, gender or status.”

It seems that there is a close connection between the prayer language initiated on the day of Pentecost and the other gifts of the Spirit, especially the vocal gifts. The similarity is this; the prayer language, the gift of tongues, and the gift of prophesy all flow out of our spirit empowered and inspired by the Holy Spirit. These vocal expressions of the Spirit bypass our brains.

So, how can I be used in these gifts? Stir up the gift of God in your life praying in the Spirit. From there, be sensitive to the leading of the Lord. Before you know it you will be prophesying, speaking in tongues, and being used in the gift of interpretation.

GALILEAN FISHERMAN OR A VOICE FROM HEAVEN

Acts 2:7 – They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?

Peter was on fire that day, he was speaking like a man from another world. He was actually speaking a new language rather than the language of this earth. Many in the crowd that day didn’t get it. All they could hear was the Galilean twang in Peter’s voice. He had the smell of a fisherman (even though he had left his nets years before). All the crowd could see was an uneducated yahoo, what good could possibly come out of this.

But something was going on that these bystanders couldn’t quite get. Twice in this passage Peter is said to be speaking in what we would call elevated or supernatural speech. First it was the speaking in other tongues. To those with deaf ears, it sounded like the babbling of a drunken man. Paul called it the language of angels, I like to call it my heavenly language. This prayer language is supernatural and flows out of what Jesus called our innermost being. Paul said it was praying in the Spirit. To the natural man this language is foolish, to the spiritual it is the very power of God. After the mocking and accusations of drunkenness Peter stepped forward to give a word of explanation. This too was called elevated speech in the original language. Peter was speaking in the language of the people by the power of the Spirit. Acts 2:14-16 describes it, “But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel…”

Even though he spoke by the Spirit only a portion of the crowd could “hear” Peter’s message. Thousands heard the voice of heaven and were filled with the Spirit, many others could only hear the voice of a Galilean fisherman. Peter had been changed by the Baptism in the Spirit, he was now speaking the language of heaven. Things haven’t changed much today. Many are still offended by the language of the Spirit, to many others that language just makes them feel right at home.

STIR IT UP

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2Tim. 1:6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

I often think of this passage when I am facing some kind of fiery trial of my faith. This letter was the last Paul wrote, probably written just before he was executed in Rome. Paul had faced his share of adversity and knew the importance of stirring up the gift. He was speaking to his son in the faith, Timothy. Timothy was leading the church in Ephesus and was also facing fiery trials. Persecution had broken out and Timothy was right in the thick of it. There are a couple of things that stand out in this passage that catch my attention. First, the laying on of hands; Timothy was reminded of that day when Paul laid his hands on him and how the Holy Spirit first fell on Timothy. It’s good to remember how and when you received that gift. Secondly, Timothy was told to stir up or fan into flame this powerful gift. How can we stir it up? I think of two major ways. First, pray for extended times in the Spirit on a daily basis. This is the place where we build our faith and partake deeply of the power of God. Secondly, put yourself in a position of ministry. Lead a small group, share your faith we friends, get into a regular flow of outreach and evangelism. It is when we put ourselves in these situations that we can activate the anointing in our lives. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on today’s verse.

“He exhorts him to stir up the gift of God that was in him. Stir it up as fire under the embers. It is meant of all the gifts and graces the God had given him, to qualify him for the work of an evangelist, the gifts of the Holy Ghost, the extraordinary gifts that were conferred by the imposition of the apostle’s hands. These he must stir up; he must exercise them and so increase them: use gifts and have gifts. To him that hath shall be given. He must take all opportunities to use these gifts, and so stir them up, for that is the best way of increasing them. Whether the gift of God in Timothy was ordinary or extraordinary (though I incline to the latter), he must stir it up, otherwise it would decay….It is probable that Timothy had the Holy Ghost, in his extraordinary gifts and graces, conferred on him by the laying on of the apostle’s hands…”

So go ahead and stir it up. The world is hurting and supernatural Christianity is the only answer. The culture of the world has pushed hard against Christianity recently. Our response has to be according to Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, “God has not given us a Spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind. Stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands”.

SETTING THE WORLD ON FIRE

Acts 2:14 ¶ But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.

Who ever heard an uneducated fisherman speak like this? Peter was setting the city of Jerusalem on fire. He was doing it with his words. If the truth be known it wasn’t just Peter, this was a sign from God. These were supernatural words intended to shock the world. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves let’s remember where this was happening. One hundred and twenty of the followers of the crucified Jesus had just experienced the power of God, they were all beside themselves. They were singing, they were laughing, they were crying; and they were speaking in strange languages. It was obviously supernatural and it was causing quite a commotion. People from all over the region were in Jerusalem that day for the annual Pentecost celebration, they were getting way more than they bargained for. They began to gather by the thousands to observe the tumult. “What could this mean?”, some were crying out. Others said, “They are drunk, they have had too much wine!” That’s when Peter stood up and opened his mouth. He was speaking like a man from another world. Scriptures he had learned as a child suddenly came alive and were spilling out of his belly. He was preaching, he was prophesying, he was lighting Jerusalem on fire. Here are some thoughts from Stanley Horton on this unusual supernatural sermon.

“The word used for this speaking is from the same verb used of the speaking in tongues in Acts 2:4.51 It suggests that Peter spoke in his own language (Aramaic) as the Spirit enabled him.52 In other words, what follows is not a sermon in the ordinary sense of the word. Certainly, Peter did not sit down and figure out three points. Rather, this was a spontaneous manifestation of the gift of prophecy.”

Peter was doing more than preaching that day, the same power that enabled him to speak in tongues was empowering him to speak out to the world about a brand new day. This was the day all creation had waited for. The sons and daughters of God were finally beginning to come alive. This same power is available today. This same power is desperately needed today. It’s time for us to be filled again, open our mouths, and set the world on fire.

PUT ON YOUR COAT

Gen. 37:3 ¶ Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors.

The Bible is a very visual book. Often, the Lord speaks to us in pictures or even prophetic visions. One of these images found in the word of God is the mantle or coat. There are various spiritual gifts and endowments pictured to us through these prophetic garments. One is seen in today’s scripture verse, Joseph’s coat of many colors. This is one of the Bible stories read to me as a child. Every time I think of Joseph, I remember that famous coat that Jacob gave to his favorite son. This coat was a picture of the gift that the heavenly Father was bestowing on Joseph. He was cloaked with a prophetic mantle that empowered and kept him all the rest of his life.

Next we find Isaiah’s special garment, he called it a garment of praise. Isaiah’s is declaring that the Lord would pour out His Spirit and his children would put it on as a coat. Rather than being clothed with depression and overcome with the problems of this life, we would put on Isaiah’s coat of joy. He has turned our sackcloth of mourning into a beautiful coat of worship and celebration.

Another famous garment in the Bible is Elijah’s mantle of miracles. Elijah’s life was characterized by miracles, signs, and wonders. Everything from raising the dead to calling down fire from heaven, Elijah walked in the miracle power of God. His disciple Elisha longed for this power in his life. When Elijah went to be with the Lord his mantle was passed to Elisha. He picked up the coat and began to experience the power of the God of Elijah in his life as well.

Jesus also told his disciples about a supernatural coat. He told them after He left they would be dressed in God’s coat of power. This is how He said it.

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Without the coat of the Lord we wander around through life only equipped with human ability, natural wisdom, and and limited power. We need to be clothed with supernatural power. Here is the good news, this mantle of power is available for us today. We can be clothed with power from on high. Make sure that before you start your day that you are dressed up and ready to go.

POWER FOR THE TASK

Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you—Acts 1:8

This is a powerful promise given to us by The Lord Jesus just before His ascension into heaven. The word He used that is translated power is dunamis. There are two distinct shades of meaning in this powerful word. First, very nature of this word implies supernatural power. This is more than just human or physical power, this is the very power of God that flows from the person of the Holy Spirit. The second implication in dunamis is enabling. The Lord promised to give us divine enabling for the tasks we are called to. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is therefore a supernatural enabling to fulfill the purposes and calling of God. He gives us the divine ability and power to perform His will. Here are some powerful insights by A. B. Simpson on this verse.

“There is power for us if we have the Holy Spirit. God wants us to speak to men so that they will feel it, so that they will never forget it. God means every Christian to be effective, to make a difference in the actual records and results of Christian work. God put each of us here to be a power. There is not one of us but is an essential wheel of the machinery and can accomplish all that God calls us to. There is not a thing that God expects of a person but that God will give him or her the power to do. There is not a command God gives to His children for which He does not provide the enablement for obedience. When Christ Jesus lived and died and sent down the Holy Spirit, He sent resources for all our needs, and there is no place for failure in the Christian life if we will take God’s resources. Jesus, the ascended One, and the Holy Spirit, the indwelling energy, life and efficiency of God are sufficient for all possible emergencies. Do you believe this? if you believe it, let Him into your heart, without reserve, and allow Him to control you and work through you today by His power.”

Augustine had a powerful saying that this verse brings to mind. “Lord, command what you will, but give what you command”. Augustine’s understood the futility of trying to fulfill the will of God with our human talents or will power. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to live a Christian life and lifestyle without supernatural power. Thank The Lord for the power of Pentecost today, we continue to receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. He not only gives us direction for His purpose in our lives, He clothes us with power and ability to accomplish His purpose through the power of the Spirit.

DON’T QUENCH THE SPIRIT

DON’T QUENCH THE SPIRIT

1Th. 5:16-19 ¶ Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ¶ Do not quench the Spirit.

I’ll never forget the first time I was used in a public meeting with the gifts of the Spirit. It was an outdoor service on a Sunday night in Kerman, California and I had been feeling an unusual measure of His presence upon me that night. I had several scriptures that kept “coming” to me and I was wondering if this was what is was like to be used in the gift of prophesy. I could not seem to muster up the courage to deliver the word, but The Lord gave me a confirming sign that He wanted me to step out. The minister leading the service called on me to lead in prayer, I could no longer hesitate in giving that word, I delivered the word and experienced a powerful blessing from just yielding in obedience to The Lord. In today’s secular atmosphere, the gifts of the Spirit have been set aside. Many churches will say they believe in the gifts yet the use of them is very, very rare. Paul told us not to quench the Spirit, I’m afraid that is exactly what we have done. Here is a quote from R. T. Kendall’s book on Holy Fire warning about not quenching the gifts of the Spirit.

“Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19, ESV). “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” What is the difference between grieving the Spirit and quenching the Spirit? They almost certainly overlap. But if there is a difference, it is probably this: we grieve the Spirit by our relationships with one another—like judging and unforgiveness; we quench the Spirit when we are prejudiced toward the way the Spirit may be manifesting Himself and by not respecting His presence. It is usually fear that lies behind quenching the Holy Spirit.
Whether we hold that the Holy Spirit does not, will not, or cannot manifest today through the gifts of the Spirit or the miraculous, by adhering to cessationism, the Holy Spirit is put to one side before He is given an opportunity to show His power.”

I think Brother Kendall put his finger right on the source of the problem in today’s church world. The issue is fear. Church leaders are afraid of allowing or encouraging the gifts of the Spirit because they are afraid things may get out of control. This may stem partially from having a strict agenda for the service that can’t be strayed from.
Thinking back at that first time for me I learned several key things about the gifts. I learned to recognize and yield to church leaders, that the gifts of the Spirit are closely related to scripture, and His anointing is critical in the manifestation of the gifts. So I have to join with Paul and say: don’t quench the Spirit. Earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN

HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN

Eph. 4:8 Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”

This scripture opens to us the source of blessing we receive in Christ. Peter preached that Jesus ascended into heaven and received the promise of the Father. He didn’t just receive this gift for Himself (He enjoyed that from eternity). He received the Promise as a man, as a representative of all those that believe in Him. As today’s scripture says, He gave gifts to men. All of the gifts He gives to us are in the person of the Holy Spirit. As we are baptized, or saturated in the Spirit we are receiving all of the gifts necessary for our walk with Christ. I recently came across an excellent quote by Isaac Ambrose. He was a nonconformist pastor in England in the 1600’s and was ejected from the church for his beliefs. Here is a rather lengthy quote on this gift, please read it, it is well worth your time.

“No sooner is Christ inaugurated in his throne, but he scatters his coin, and gives gifts. He gives gifts, or the gift of gifts, the gift of the Holy Ghost. “If thou knewest the gift of God,” said Christ to the Samaritan woman: that gift was the water of life, and that water of life was the Spirit, as John, who knew best his mind, gave the interpretation, “This spake he of the Spirit.”. O my soul, consider of this princely gift of Christ! Such a gift was never before, but when God gave his Son. “God so loved the world, that he gave his Son;” and Christ so loved the world, that he gave his Spirit. But, O my soul, consider especially to whom this Spirit was given; the application of the gift is the very soul of thy meditation: “unto us a Son is given,” saith the prophet; and “unto us the Holy Ghost is given,” saith the apostle; and yet above all consider the reasons of this gift in reference to thyself. Was it not to make thee a temple and receptacle of the Holy Ghost? Stand a while on this! Admire, O my soul, at the condescending, glorious, and unspeakable love of Christ in this! It was infinite love to come down into our nature when he was incarnate; but this is more, to come down into thy heart by his Holy Spirit: he came near to us then, but as if that were not near enough, he comes nearer now, for now he unites himself unto thy person, now he comes and dwells in thy soul by his Holy Spirit.”

Today, Jesus is still seated at the Father’s right hand pouring out gifts, better yet, pouring out the gift. Jesus came to this earth to acquire the Promise of the Father. His death for our sins made this possible. We now have access to God. At this very moment, The Lord has gifts to impart into your life. Worship Him, drink in His goodness, you will find yourself filled to overflowing enjoying the Promise of the Father.

SUPERNATURAL ENERGY

SUPERNATURAL ENERGY

Col. 1:29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

The ways of God can seem very strange, as Isaiah declared, “My ways are not your ways” says the Lord.
In today’s scripture verse Paul seems to almost contradict himself. He is talking about laboring as a human and then he describes the supernatural energy of God working within him. The word Paul used was a powerful greek word, energeo. I learned to value word studies in the Bible from Dick Mills. Brother Mills said that this word has to do with active operation or working of power with effectual results. What Paul was describing was the energeo of the Spirit at work in his body. Paul was describing his life work as supernatural, it was a life-long yielding to the supernatural power of God. He was toiling or striving according to the power that was working in him.
If we look at the use of this word “energeo” in the scripture, we can get an idea of the supernatural effect the Holy Spirit has upon our lives. In 1 Cor. 12:6,11 Paul uses this word describing the activating of spiritual gifts in every Christian. The gifts of the Spirit are clearly the work of God, they are supernatural in nature and produce supernatural results. In Eph.1:20 Paul speaks about this supernatural energy that raised Christ from the dead and also brought us out of spiritual death. There is resurrection power working in me, resurrection power is the very energeo of the Holy Spirit. He changes our very nature to be conformed into the image of Christ. In Gal.3:5, Paul describes this supernatural energy in the working of miracles. Do you need a miracle today? Maybe your life is in a place of extreme vulnerability, it seems like one more set back will cause total destruction. Be encouraged, the same power, the energeo of the Spirit that worked in the ministry of Paul is at work in His church today. The energeo of Gpd will perform miracles in your life to bring Glory to our Lord. James also used this powerful word in his famous passage about prayer. He said that, ” the effective (energeo) prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much”. James is describing supernatural prayer. This is actually the prayer of the Spirit, praying in us, through us, and for us. These supernatural, effectual prayers can accomplish anything. What are their limitations? Their only limitations are the limitations of God Himself. He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond anything you ask or think according to His power that works (energeo) within you.

So Paul said he was striving. What kind of striving would the apostle be involved in? He would strive to connect with this supernatural power of God. The last thing Paul wanted was to try to do the work of God with only human energy. He wanted to move with the very energeo of the Spirit.

WHO IS IN CONTROL ?

WHO IS IN CONTROL?

The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.
Ps.103:19

Sometimes our world seems out of control. From national revolutions to terrorist attacks, from earthquakes to tsunamis, from oil spills to political chaos; to the natural man, these things are quite unnerving. Our personal lives can experience the same kind of upheaval; from money problems to domestic contention, from medical problems to unexpected loss, from family problems to heartbreak; how can we deal with the endless cycle of “stuff” that happens? Charles Spurgeon had some great insight in dealing with these issues, here is what he had to say.

“He (the Lord) now reigns universally, he always has done so, and he always will. To us the world may seem rent with anarchy, but he brings order out of confusion. The warring elements are marching beneath his banner when they most wildly rush onward in furious tempest. Great and small, intelligent and material, willing and unwilling, fierce or gentle, — all, all are under his sway. His is the only universal monarchy, he is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords. A clear view of his ever active, and everywhere supreme providence, is one of the most delightful of spiritual gifts; he who has it cannot do otherwise than bless the Lord with all his soul.”

In today’s scripture verse, David is declaring some of the things that cause him to worship the Lord. “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name”, David’s heart is literally bursting out in worship, this is the overflow of spiritual revelation. In the midst of all of his troubles; attacks from the Philistines, betrayal from his family, traitors within his personal staff, in the midst of it all, David had gotten a glimpse of the sovereign sway of the Almighty. This is why David was worshipping.
Maybe you are in personal crisis today, or maybe the relentless stream of international calamity is weighing on your heart. If this is the case, take a worship break. Join in with David and sing his timeless song, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul. The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom REIGNS OVER ALL”.