TRAINING IN THE GIFTS (Part 7)
It has been my experience over many years of ministry that most ministers fall short of giving themselves to prayer and the Word.
“But we will [continue to] devote ourselves [steadfastly] to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4)
Today we have too much focus on the intellect and degrees and education. The late prophecy teacher, Hilton Sutton, told me privately that he believed the greatest deterrent to real revival in the West was education. His analysis surprised me, but I knew exactly what he was saying.
The reason this is so, is because we have a subtle unbelief that prayer and the Word is simply not enough. We certainly are not against education, but it needs to be thoroughly sanctified against the backdrop of all the knowledge that is available at our fingertips today. Literally.
DO YOU LOVE THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT?
My wife and I have given ourselves to prayer and the Word for four decades. I as so naive as a young Bible school student I was surprised to know that a preacher could actually be paid for giving himself to prayer and the Word. I was elated! What an honor the Lord has bestowed on my life through these many years! It has always been such a joy and delight. Honestly, I’ve never been interested in much of anything else. Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m a sportsman and I enjoy sports. I enjoy a few other natural delights in this earthly life, but earthly joys have never had my heart.
I love to pray. I love the word of God. I love the things of the Spirit. Actually, even at my age, I am fascinated with eternal things and God’s wisdom and ways. The Lord has put a holy hunger in my heart for Him and His Word. I can sit around for hours and talk about the word of God with interested heaters. He has graced my life with teachers and fathers of great spiritual stature. In my early days my life was quickly established on a good foundation. Plus, I have the best friends. My closest companions are those who fear the Lord and burn for Him. To God be all the glory. None of this is my own doing. You have what you have in your life because of your associations.
WHAT DOES THIS ALL HAVE TO DO WITH THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT?
Everything. If we are too naturally-minded, too education-minded, too earthly-minded, too money-minded, etc. we are not candidates for leading a Spirit-filled life. The Word instructs us:
“Set your mind and keep focused on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].” (Colossians 3:2)
You only pray as you live. And you live as you pray. How can we walk with God if we never develop ourselves spiritually? How can we even obey the Scriptural admonition to “pray without ceasing” and “covet the gifts of the Spirit” if we remain in a carnal state? Even pastors and church leaders can fall so short of living a Spirit-filled life. How in the world are they going to impart anything of eternal depth and value, and real spiritual substance to others!
PASTORS WHO WINK AT DIVORCE
I had a pastor that called me a few months ago to tell me he got divorced. I was appalled at how casual he was about it. He told that he and his former wife, also a fine Christian, by all appearances, just weren’t compatible any more, but they’ve chosen to remain good friends. I’d rather die than have a testimony like that! I cried.
This is common in church leadership today. And I do thank God for the godly pastors and church leaders that serve the Lord whole-heartedly. Where would we be without a strong remnant of them that are still left in the land?
HERE IS MY ENTIRE POINT
We are not putting enough faith and trust in prayer, the Word, and the gifts to get the job done. We think we need something more. Our consecration to God and our total reliance on Him and His power is so shallow.
As a glowing example, one day a youth pastor went to his senior pastor, a man of deep spirituality, with some ideas of how to make the youth program better. The senior pastor sat quietly and listened for quite sometime as the young man touted his great ideas. Finally, the older and wiser pastor said, “Mom and I have always believed that prayer, the Word, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are enough to get the job done.”
What delightful wisdom this is to me! Tell me, who has that mindset in the Church today? Very few.
We are not spiritually minded. I was trained by a shepherd who pastored supernaturally. For instance, one time he went to the house of our worship leader and knew by the Spirit, through a word of knowledge, that he was living in fornication. On another occasion, he walked into the office of one of his associates and told him that he was promoting him to his own ministry, because the man was causing strife (he dismissed him). This is the church Carolyn and I first met many years ago. The reason she started attending that church was because the pastor called out a word of knowledge for a sprained ankle in severe pain. That was her. Immediately the power of God shot through her ankle and she was instantly healed. She said quietly within herself, “this is my church. I want a pastor who hears God like that!”
Friends, it’s time to covet the gifts, pray for their manifestation, and associate with others who know something about them and move in them. My wife and I have always been a part of moving with God. We are not experts, but for many years the operations and manifestations of the Spirit have been our portion. We see everything not done in the Spirit as a failure. We have devoted this latter phase of our lives to helping ministers and churches come under the operation of the gifts of the Spirit, and learn to work in the Spirit — helping to shape a supernatural culture in the Church of today.
I hope these brief teaching posts are a blessing to you. They will be transferred to our personal blog at Holy Fire Ministries website. Subscribe to receive by email, so you don’t miss any.
Much love to each of you.
Bert (and Carolyn)
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