Date: November 8, 2018 (Training)
Bible Text: | Betty Swann
Series: Pillar Four
Would you agree that we are living in the end times? Would you agree that we are living in the end of the end times? In the book of Acts, and in all of Paul’s writings, he is always saying, today, just any time, He could return. Yet, it is 2,000 years later and Jesus still has not come back. Why? Are we ever going to see Him come back? Absolutely. If He said He will return, He will return. If He said how He will return, that is how He is going to return. If He says where He is going to return, that is where He is going to return. If there was ever anything that you could take to the bank, it would be the words of Jesus. In Joel 2:28, He said, “In the last days (which we are agreeing that we are in) I am going to pour out My Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy.”
Look at Isaiah 35:4-6. It says, "Why does the Spirit come?" He comes to strengthen people, steady them, put confidence in them, encourage them that God will help them and miracles will happen. Here is what the verse actually says. “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear, your God will come, he will come with vengeance, with divine retribution he will come to save you.’ Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongues shout for joy.” God is saying to us constantly, “Be strong, be courageous.” He said to Joshua, “Don’t be afraid, as I was with Moses, so I am going to be with you.” God knows He is dealing with humans. He knows we can be afraid, but He says be strong, and those that are strong with do exploits. That is you and me. We can be strong and we can do exploits. How? Through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Today’s lesson is on what is required to move in signs and wonders in the end times and can everybody do it. Joel 2:28 says, “Afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams; your young men will see visions. Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth.” That was prophesied by Joel long before Jesus came, many, many years before Jesus came. God has been saying what He was going to do in the end times for a long time. Yet, we are the people. What an honor. Have you ever thanked God for the honor of getting to live in the end times? Even if it gets very, very difficult. It is very difficult right now for many Christians. I received an e-mail from a pastor in India and some Christians had been murdered there. I just got back from Africa and I heard about a church full of Christians that some crazy, wild people burned down and killed everyone in it. I met a pastor whose arm had been cut off with a machete. His eye was seriously damaged and he had scars all over his face. These are dangerous times, but God says, “Cheer up, I have overcome the world.” In Africa I met many involved in the political dispute that went on with the presidential election. I met so many people that saw horrors that were unspeakable. One lady, a pastor’s wife, told me, “If Pastor Joseph had not come and gotten us, we would have been murdered. Instead, he put us in his car and risked his life and got us to safety.” Then she told me, “I have a 2-year-old child and it is very scary because he is acting out. I am not able to be with my husband; it is not safe. When we were running for our lives, I had to step over severed heads, severed arms and legs. The wife of a pastor, whose head was cut off, carried her husband’s head back to bury him. That was all she had.” These are unspeakable times and they are going to get worse. But what does God say? “Cheer up, your redemption draweth nigh.” Joel 2:28 says, “In the last days, I am going to do great things among the people of God.”
Another Scripture that I want you to look at is Acts 1:8. This is right before Pentecost. It says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (that is where you live), in Judea (that is the area surrounding where you live), Samaria (this can even be the place nearby that you do not want to go to or even a place you do not want to go to), and to the ends of the earth (that is all over the world).” As I travel all over the world, I am seeing something I do not think I could have known if I had not traveled. All over the world, God is pouring out His Spirit in signs and wonders. It does not matter if they are rich, it does not matter if they are poor. It does not matter if they lost everything. It does not matter. God is pouring out His Spirit and He does not stop just because times are hard. I saw the people in Africa who had lost everything. I do mean everything. They lost their land, their livelihood, everything. I saw the same people dancing with joy in a conference we had. When I looked at them, I thought, “Look at that. They’ve lost everything. If they focus on what they have lost, they are in deep depression. But their eyes are focused on Jesus and they are dancing with all their heart.” We danced all over that room. There were 500-600 people there and they were just full of the joy of the Lord.
In Acts 2:16-18, “No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel,” and they quote Joel, “In the last days I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out My Spirit on My servants, men and women alike, and they will prophesy.” When Jesus went back to heaven, it says, “He ascended on high, led captives in His train, and He gave gifts to men.” Jesus is the one who is pouring out all of these gifts. Dreams, visions, words of knowledge, knowing something you could not possibly know. I saw that happen so much in Africa with our team. We also trained people. You can be trained in how to move in signs and wonders.
Today, I am hoping to give you some understanding and some knowledge of how you really do it. Jesus was our example. He had to do it by the Spirit of God. When Jesus was baptized, the Spirit descended on Him and after that He was able to do the miracles. We do not hear about Jesus doing any miracles before then. He was just like us; He was God but He came as a man. He had to operate in the Gifts of the Spirit as a man would, dependent on the Spirit of God. Jesus said, “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you and you can do every bit of it.” It says in Acts 2:22, “Jesus was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, signs and wonders which God did among you through Him as you yourselves know.” Some people say, "Why do we need all of those signs and miracles and all that stuff everybody is talking about. We don’t need all of that stuff. We’ve got the Bible.” That is not all God wanted to do. He would not have said that He proved what he was doing by signs and wonders and miracles. He confirms His Word. You have to learn that that is really what God wants to do with you. He does not want you to just preach the Word; He wants you to demonstrate the Word. My friends and I call it “doing the stuff”.
There was a man who had gotten saved. He had been so far away from God, living a wicked life. He did not know it but he was on his way to being one of the greatest preachers of all time. His name was John Wimber. He had never been to church, but he went to a church and sat down. He had been reading the Bible. After the church service was over, he went up to the pastor and the pastor said, “How did you like church?” He said, “Well, fine, but when do we do the stuff. Your sermon was great but when do we do the stuff?” The preacher said, “What stuff?” Wimber said, “You know, heal the sick, raise the dead, lame people walk, blind people see, deaf people hear. When do we do the stuff?” The preacher just stared at him because he was not doing the stuff. You can do it. If I can do it, you can do it. I had to learn how to do it. If I can learn how, you can learn how. You might be thinking, “It seems to me if it was God just putting that power on you, you would just know how to do it and it would just happen.” Let me ask you a question, can you pray better now than you used to and did you have to learn how to do it better? Can you read the Bible better now than you used to because you have to learn how to do it?” Sure you can. The Holy Spirit is your teacher. That means there are things you need to be taught. Remember, the power to do these things is given to you by Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. They are from God, they glorify God, they give God credit. It is just wonderful.
Mark 16:17-20 says, “These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe.” Are you a believer? “Yes, I am a believer,” you say. “They will cast out demons in My name.” Have you ever done that? “They will speak in new tongues.” Have you ever done that? “They will be able to pick up snakes with their hands.” Have you ever done that? That is not the snake-handling churches. It is like what happened to Paul in the Bible when he was picking up firewood and the snake bit him. It is not that you go out and handle snakes to prove you are filled with the Holy Spirit. If they drink anything poisonous, it will not hurt them. Has that ever happened to you? Not everything has happened to everyone yet, but that does not mean it is not going to. It also does not mean that it has not happened to someone else and you have not heard about it. “They will be able to place their hands on sick people, and they will be healed.” It also says, “Then when the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, He was taken up into heaven and sat down at the place of honor at God’s right hand.” You see, Jesus is up in heaven, the Holy Spirit is here working with us. The Scripture continues, “The disciples went everywhere and preached and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.”
In John 14:12, it says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I do and even greater works because I am going to be with the Father.” I have to be honest with you; I do not know exactly what all of that means. I look at all the things that Jesus did; He walked on water, He turned water into wine, He raised so many dead people. Everybody got healed when He went somewhere, and yet He says “even greater works.” What would be greater Lord, what does that mean? The Holy Spirit has to tell you what that means.
What is required in being able to do signs and wonders for you? Simple faith. The disciples went to Jesus and said, “Jesus, what do we have to do?” They were just like every other human, thinking “You have to read the Bible five hours a day, you have to pray six hours a day, you have to do it about 20 years and then after you have done that, maybe you might do one.” Jesus said, “All that is required is that you believe.” You have to have faith. Jesus said, “If you have faith as a little grain of mustard seed, you can tell a mountain to move and it will move.” We all want mountain-moving faith. Jesus said nothing would be impossible because “with God all things are possible.” However, faith has to be required in the people that receive the miracles, too. It is a two part thing. You have faith to do it, and it takes nerve, I can tell you. That is not in the Bible but I have certainly learned it in my own life. You have to make yourself get out there and do it. Then you see the miracles. Do you make mistakes? I have. Do you miss it sometimes? Yes, they do not get healed. Do you wonder why? Absolutely. Does it break your heart? Yes. Do I give up? No. I just go to the next one and keep on going because I do see people healed. Even some blind people asked “Would you make me see” and Jesus said, “Do you think I am able to make you see?” “Yes, Lord, we do.” He said, “Because of your faith, your eyes are opened.”
Jesus warned them, “Don’t go tell anyone.” Have you ever wondered why he did that? I wonder if He did not want them telling people that had unbelief. Have you ever noticed that when the Lord does a big miracle in your life and you tell the wrong person, they say things like, “I don’t think God does that today.” What happens to your faith? It goes down, does it not? You have to be careful who you tell the wonderful works that you have seen God do through you. If you are going to do greater works, you have to have faith, and they have to have faith. It is for the confirmation of the Gospel. It is also to build up the church. Whose church? It is not a church building. You and I are the church. The Bible says, “Where two or three are gathered together, I am right there.” You and I are the church and the temple of God is in us. That is why we need to live a Godly life. Does everyone get spiritual gifts? Yes, everyone, even children. Sometimes it is easier to teach children how to prophesy and to have visions and dreams than it is a grown up. Their faith is simple, they trust God, they believe. But, God wants to use adults.
God wants to train everyone in the spiritual gifts in this last time. God says, “Be eager to have spiritual gifts. Earnestly desire to prophesy.” What is prophesy? I have heard some people say it is good preaching. It cannot be that. Not everyone is a preacher. They talk about the five-fold gifts of the Lord that He gives to the church to strengthen the church, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and administrators. You have all of these people that are given to the church to grow it up, but we are the ones that are supposed to be out doing it. They can do It, too, of course, because they teach us with demonstrations. We are supposed to be out doing it. We are supposed to earnestly desire the gifts.
When was the last time you earnestly desired to prophesy, where you said, “Lord, I want You to speak through me and give a word to somebody, and they would know it is God”? It is the most exciting thing. What do you do when you are doing it? I will tell you how I do it, and you can do it, too. You have to want it and you have to listen. You have to ask the Lord to speak through you to help somebody. It is all about helping somebody. You are just the mailman bringing the mail. You need to forget about yourself. Get over yourself, as some people say. You need to just think about “God wants to help someone and He is going to use me, but He is out to help those people.” Recently, I heard a pastor say, “To stand up in front of people and not pray for them to be healed is evil, when God is the source of healing.” It scared me and I thought, “I am not going to be doing evil.”
When you go to give a prophetic word, what do you do? I will give one now and show you. It is very normal. I am not going to shake and quake and fall over and foam at the mouth. I am just going to give a word. There is a camera man named Jared filming this show right now. I am going to get him and I am going to give him a prophetic word. He does not know what I am going to say, and I do not know what I am going to say. I am going to listen to the Lord. “Jared, the Lord says to you, “You are a mighty man of God. You have such a pure heart for Me and you long to do the mighty works of God. You long to hear the things of God. You long to speak the things of God. You long to walk like I walk, Jared. I say to you today, I not only put My hand of blessing on you, I put My hand of promise on you. I promise you, you are going to do the things that you have longed for and hoped for and, yes, asked for because I am your Lord. I am the Lord your God, I hear your cry, I hear your voice, and I love you. Amen.” He is standing behind this camera and did not know I was going to do it. I did not know I was going to do it until the Lord said, “Just give him a word.” How did I do that? I said what I heard and then I heard something else, so I said that. Then I said something else after I heard it. Jared I am asking you, “Did that touch your heart?” He is shaking his head yes. That is God working, demonstrating to you. If I can do that, you can do it. Did I have to learn how? Absolutely.
The Bible says, “Do not neglect the spiritual gifts,” in 1 Timothy 4:14. Paul had to tell Timothy, a preacher, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received when the elders laid hands on you.” In 2 Timothy 1:6, he says “I remind you fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” That is one of the ways you can get a spiritual gift, by somebody laying their hands on you. Another way is to get it from picking up somebody else’s anointing. You can be around them so much, watching them, that you can learn how to do what they do. That is how I learned to do a lot of what I do.
In May 1994, I was the head of the Women’s Ministry at my church and I said, “Lord, what do You want to do in autumn when we start up again?” He said to me in my heart, “In September you are going to move out in signs and wonders. You are going to teach the women how to do it.” I said, “Lord, I don’t know how to do it.” He said, “In September, you are going to step out in signs and wonders and teach the women how to do it.” I knew in my heart that I better get busy and learn how to do it. What did I do? I read a lot of books on spiritual gifts, as much as I could read and learn. There are some wonderful authors who are reputable people. I read those books and I prayed. Then I began to think, “If I had somebody to mentor under that did them, that I knew I could trust and that I knew was a real man of God, I could do it.” I went to a man that was a pastor at my church and I said, “Could I come and stand beside you when you pray for people during the week.” He had a time that he prayed for people every Tuesday. I told him, “I want to ask a lot of questions.” He said, “Sure, okay.” I would say things like, “How did you see that picture? What do you mean you saw a picture in your mind? What did it look like? How did you know to say that? They didn’t act like they got anything from that, what did you know to do then? How did they know that was God?” Everything I could think of to ask, I did, all summer long. You have to have somebody you can ask questions of. The disciples had Jesus and they asked him so many questions. Timothy had Paul. You cannot purchase it, but you can learn it.
The Bible says, “Don’t despise them either.” Do not despise spiritual gifts. In other words, do not be one of those people who say, “Yeah, those tongue talkers, those people that say they prophesy.” Do not be like that. That is despising the Holy Spirit. It is God; He is the one doing it.
Besides earnestly desiring them, besides reading books and studying, besides mentoring, what else can you do? One thing that helps me a lot is praise music and worship music. Praise and worship are igniters of the Holy Spirit. Before I do these shows, I am in my hotel room with paise music playing and I am just in the Lord. There is something about the power of praise that releases the Holy Spirit in you. Be sure that you are a person that has a lot of praise and worship music going on in your home. Sometimes, I turn the music on and leave the house; I just want it all over my house. Learn to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I pray that all the time. I am going to pray it right now. “Holy Spirit, I would like to be more sensitive to You than I have ever been. I would like to hear Your voice better than I have ever heard it and see You move better than I have ever seen You do it, and step out in Your power more than I have ever done it. Amen.” You could pray that prayer, too. It still takes a lot of years sometimes to learn how to do it, but you can do it.
What is required? There are people who can do signs and wonders, and then they fall away from the Lord. You and I have both seen it. You think, “They had the power of God going through them. Why did they mess up? How could they have messed up so badly?” There are three things required: Faith, love and character. You have to have it. The gifts work by love. The third is character. You did not back down or turn away from the Lord. You hung in there when you could not even understand what was going on and what was happening, thinking “Where are you God?” I have had times that I had to wait so long on the Lord it was like He was never going to do it. He was but He was just preparing me, so I would be ready and able to stand. He is a faithful God. He has a right time for you. In the meantime, get out there with the rest of us. Jump off the high board and learn how to do it. What character traits do you need? Humility is a big one.
Hang in there. You can do it. God wants you to.
QUIET TIME QUESTIONS
1. What are the benefits of signs and wonders?
2. Based on the Scriptures covered, who operates in signs and wonders?
3. What are the three things required in order to operate in signs and wonders?
4. How do we learn to walk in signs and wonders?
5. How do you release the Holy Spirit to operate in signs and wonders?
Topics: Holy Spirit Power