FLOWING WITH THE HOLY GHOST
Living Word Missions, Inc.
P.O. Box 687
Wilmington, MA 01887 U.S.A.
Table of Contents
God Desires Worship From Your Heart*
Sing Songs That Come From the Heart*
God Desires Your Love*
The Anointing of The Holy Spirit Is Given for a Purpose*
The Heartbeat of God Is to Meet the Needs of People*
Charismatic Tradition vs. Denominational Tradition*
The Holy Spirits Motive Is to Help Suffering People*
Stay Out of Pride*
Impartation Comes Out of Service*
When People Stop Paying the Price for Gold, They Chase Brass*
Thank God Individually and Corporately*
Pray in The Spirit*
Submitted Hearts Are Key to a Move of the Spirit*
Praise God Openly*
We Need to Be More Talkative for God and Less Fearful of Man*
God Inhabits Praise*
Flowing with the Minister*
A Word of Caution*
The Gifts of the Spirit Operate in a Domino Effect*
Ministry, Not Performance*
God Ordained Order for a Reason*
Flexibility and Adaptability Are a Must in Ministry*
A Note to Preachers*
Continuity Is Key in Flowing with the Holy Ghost*
Follow After Love*
God Will Supply the Gift to Meet the Need*
When Our Heart Is Open, God Will Direct Our Prayers*
One of the major reasons why we are seeing so many people respond to Gospel crusades in West Africa is that there is now an openness and a hunger in the hearts of people for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The book of Acts records that the Word of God grew and prevailed. This has been happening all over the world, especially where we are working. A great deal of planting and sowing of the Word of God and prayer has been done for the nations of West Africa. Now the Word of God is starting to grow in the hearts of the people, and it is beginning to prevail in their lives.
People will become bolder with their faith and more aggressive with the Word of God when the Word starts prevailing in their lives. Excitement and fire come with that boldness. Outreaches, evangelism on the streets, and teaching of the Word of God will take place. The Word will begin dominating and prevailing in the nation.
You must understand that this is the spiritual law of sowing and reaping. As you keep planting and sowing the Word into peoples hearts, it starts to grow in their hearts. It then begins to dominate in their lives. As peoples hearts and lives begin to change, so do offices, schools, churches, and cities. The Word then starts dominating in the nation, and that has been happening in Sierra Leone. That is one of the main reasons why the Freetown Bible Training Center in Freetown, Sierra Leone draws so many people. It is a place where you can find the Word of God in its purity. The Word of God is taught, not mans tradition. The Word of God enlightens the eyes of the students spiritual understanding. As a result, they taste the excitement of the anointing and the Word of God, and they want more.
Many times after a service in which we have preached, people come up to me and say, "Thank you. Please come back again. That is the most wonderful message I have ever heard." Why is that? It is because I was preaching the Word of God, not my own opinion. I was preaching the Word of God, not mans doctrine. When people are being fed the Word of God there will be an excitement in them. This will, in turn, bring an excitement to their churches, their offices, their schools, or wherever those people may work and live. There are a number of churches I have seen where the people are genuinely being taught the Word of God. The people are loving it. They are fed a regular diet on Sunday mornings and in Bible studies. They are being changed and transformed.
The manifest presence of the Holy Spirit is another reason why many people come to the Freetown Bible Training Center. We know the importance of the manifest presence of the Holy Ghost. We understand the importance of Christians experiencing the presence of a Holy God, knowing that God is God. We are also convinced of the importance of what that does to people. The Scriptures say that God inhabits the praises of his people (Psalms 22:3). God continues to show us that at the training center. Most of the time there will be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit as a result of our time in praise and worship. The Holy Spirit will manifest in different ways. Exhortation, encouragement, and the gifts of the Spirit are just some of the ways we experience the manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
Experiencing the presence of God and understanding the move of the Holy Spirit are linked together. A minister I respect very much, who has been in the ministry for 60 years, made this statement, "90% of what goes on in most churches is just flesh." I thought, "90% is just flesh and only 10% is Spirit?" When I heard that statement, I started evaluating how we were operating in church services, outreaches, and ministry seminars.
I was on the platform in a service at the Freetown Bible Training Center recently when I started thinking about that statement again. As we concluded with the praise and worship, I knew in my heart where the Holy Spirit wanted to go with the meeting. However, I saw great indecision amongst the leadership on the platform. They were not sure about which direction the meeting should go.
I thought to myself, "It is very easy. They should know right where to go with it. Why dont they know?" I felt the Lord impressed upon me that we have allowed people to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit, but we have not taught them how to move in His presence. I then realized that I had not taken the time to teach how to flow with the Holy Spirit on the platform and how to move in the Spirit in the midst of His presence.
This book will systematically show you from the Scriptures how to flow with the Holy Spirit, how to move in the supernatural, and how to know what to do when God is manifesting His presence. I was teaching along this line in the nation of Liberia recently. It was a spectacular event, a three-day Jesus Festival. One astute young man who is very grounded in the Word said to me, "Brother Russ, Im a little concerned by you teaching so much about the Holy Spirit. I am concerned that pastors and church leaders will want to have Holy Ghost meetings and miracle meetings all the time. We find that there are churches in parts of West Africa where all they have are Holy Ghost meetings. As a result, people do not get grounded in the Word of God." His concern was valid. Please remember, grounding the people in the Word of God is priority. Remember, all Word will dry you up, all spirit will puff you up, but the balance of the two will grow you up.
I have known many people who have been touched by the Holy Ghost and have been used in the gifts who were not established in the Word of God. They started walking around in pride and got flaky. On the other hand, I know people who are such Word people that they dont even want to see a demonstration of the Holy Spirit because it might be a "wrong" spirit. They are spiritual policemen. Their Christian walk becomes dry when all they focus on is the Word and the Word alone. With the Word and the Spirit together, we will grow up. We need them both. Do you know who the Word men were of Jesus day? They were the Scribes and the Pharisees. They knew the Word, the letter of the law, but they missed the part that brings life, the Spirit.
I believe we are seeing the growth of the Word in the hearts of people, but at the same time they need to know how to experience the moving of the HolySpirit. Smith Wigglesworth, a great man of God, used to say, "If the Holy Spirit doesnt move, I move the Holy Spirit." I used to hear that statement, and it would trouble my mind. "How do you move the Holy Spirit?" Wigglesworth was a tremendous man of faith, and by his faith he would move the Holy Spirit. The more I meditated on this, the more I found it very easy to move the Holy Spirit. He wants to move more than we do. He really does. The biggest step is coming to the understanding of how easy it is for you to move with the Holy Spirit rather than Him moving with you. Your moving with Him is the key.
Many people, whether they are pastors, praise and worship leaders, or lay people, know how to flow with the Spirit of God out of instinct. Unfortunately, most do not teach it to others based upon the Word of God. It is important to be able to break down the Word of God and apply it to your life and then be able to teach others to do the same. I know many ministers who get on the platform and become flustered. I am sure they think to themselves, "The Holy Spirit is here, but I am not sure what I am supposed to do." I have known other ministers who dont know what to do after they have preached the gospel. I would like to share with you how simple and easy it is to have a move of the Holy Spirit every time you minister, every time you are in the pulpit, and every time you minister to the needs of people.
In John 4:19-24, we read the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. The woman said unto Him, "Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
The way to move with the Holy Spirit is very simple. Give to God what God desires. That is true both individually and corporately. When we give to God what He desires of us to give Him, He will give us what we desire of Him. Most spirit-filled Christians desire a move of the Spirit. The only way to have a move of God is by worshipping God in spirit and in truth. That is what God seeks and desires from His creation.
God Desires Worship From Your Heart
The Word of God is the truth, and worshipping Him in spirit means to worship from your born-again recreated spirit. To worship in your spirit is to give to God what He desires. God desires worship from your heart.
If you are a praise and worship leader, this one is really for you. The first step to having a move of God is to get the congregation to worship from their heart, individually as well as corporately. You will never receive what you want from God until you come to a place where you worship Him from your heart. I know people in the church who ritually and without thought confess, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. That He died for the sins of man. I believe in the Holy Apostles creed . . . " Does it mean anything to God? Are they saved? Probably not. Why? It doesnt come from their heart. When it truly comes from your heart, guess what happens? The miracle happens. The Holy Spirit comes in, and Jesus becomes Lord. There is a change in your life when it happens from your heart. The same thing holds true in worship. God is desirous of heartfelt worship unto Him. We are a three-part being -- spirit, soul, and body. Three in one.
Worship from the head does not mean much to God. Singing, praising, and dancing from the flesh does not mean much to God. God is seeking true worshippers who worship Him from the heart. Unfortunately, most of the songs we sing are not songs from the heart. Let me give you an example. Some time back at the Freetown Bible Training Center in Freetown, Sierra Leone we were singing the song "Jesus on the Mainline." I am sure many of you know it, but the main idea of the song is, "Jesus on the mainline tell Him what you want." Is that a worship song? No, it isnt. How can you sing it from your heart? I can sing it from my head and I can sing it from my flesh, but I cannot sing itfrom my heart.
Most of our songs are directed toward the flesh and the soulish realm. It is not that "Jesus on the Mainline" is a bad song. Its not. It is a good song. However, it is not a worship song. Compare that song to "Majesty" or "Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him." I believe you will understand my meaning when you do. Songs can minister to your mind, your flesh, or your spirit.
Sing Songs That Come From the Heart
The first step to have a move of God in a service is to sing songs that come from the heart. Singing songs in which we speak confessions of victory is fine. Those are not bad; however, the problem comes when thirty-five out of the forty-five minutes of our praise and worship consists of carnal and soulish songs, leaving only five or ten minutes of worship songs. That balance is wrong. It should be reversed.
I was scheduled to speak in a service one day. I stood up and said, "Listen, I would really like for us to sing a certain song." This was after forty minutes of praise and worship. We then sang a heartfelt worship song and had a wonderful move of God. After the service someone asked me, "Why did it take forty minutes for the Holy Spirit to finally move?" I said, "It didnt take forty minutes for the Holy Spirit. It took forty minutes for us to finally quit singing soulish, carnal songs and finally start singing some spiritual ones. The problem wasnt with the Holy Spirit. The problem was with us."
Sometimes we hit it, and sometimes we dont. Praise and worship leaders, do not select only the songs you like to sing when you are planning the service. I can not emphasize that enough. Please dont select just the songs that are fun. You have to see yourself as a spiritual doctor, one who is thinking, "How can I get people to worship God from their spirits?"
I suggest that you start with one or two songs in which youre singing about the victory. It is good for people to make confessions about being winners and not losers. It is good to declare that the devil is under our feet. We need to make the confession that we are more than conquerors. All of those things are good! However, out of the entire praise and worship time that should be less and the spiritual side should be more if you want a move of the Holy Spirit.
You will not get from God what you want until you give to God what He wants. God does not want people to worship Him from the flesh or from the soulish realm. He wants people to worship Him from their born-again recreated spirits. Simply stated, He wants you to worship Him from your heart.
God Desires Your Love
I attended a denominational church service recently, and we were singing hymns out of the hymnbook. I sat there thinking to myself, "Why are these songs so dead?" It was because all that we were doing was singing about God. We werent singing to God; we were just singing about Him. God doesnt want us just to talk about Him. God wants us to talk to Him. God doesnt want us just to know of Him. God wants us to know Him personally. God doesnt want the pastor to do all the praying for you. He wants you to pray unto Him. God desires for you yourself to worship and talk to Him.
My daughter Rebekah loves me very much. Lets say that one day Rebekah brings me one hundred leones (ten cents American) and says, "Daddy, I love you. I want to give you one hundred leones." She comes to me again the next day and says, "Daddy, I love you. I want to give you one hundred leones." Do you think I need her one hundred leones? I dont need her leones. What is it that I want from her, and what is it that I need from her? Her love.
One day she comes in without her one hundred leones and says to me, "Daddy, I dont have one hundred leones today, but I just want to let you know that I sure love you. Thank you for being my daddy. I just love you so much." I dont care about her one hundred leones. I just want her love me. What happens the next day when she comes in with 1,000 leones, but doesnt tell me that she loves me. "Here is the money you want, Daddy." The next day she brings in $1,000. "Here is the money for you, Daddy." Then the next day she does the same thing. Even if she were to bring me $10,000 -- that is not what I want. What do I want? I want her love!
The same thing is true with God. If you want to learn how to flow with the Holy Spirit (as a pastor, as a church leader, or as someone who is involved in leadership), you must give to God what He wants. You must love to worship God. I get aggravated in services where so much time is spent in the carnal, soulish realm because I love to worship God from my heart. Sometimes I want to say, "Come on, were just wasting time." It is good and fun, but many times it just becomes a little celebration of our own. It becomes a dance fest, a little fun fest. Step over into worship; it is far better. You will be giving God what He truly desires.
In Luke 3:21-22 we read, "Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." In orderto know how to give to God what He desires, we need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit just as Jesus was baptized in the Holy Spirit. We need to follow His example. Remember the theme. I am talking about how to move and flow in the supernatural. You will not walk in the fullness God has for you if you are not baptized in the Holy Spirit. He wants the Holy Spirit working in and through you. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is very important. To flow with the Holy Spirit or to get your congregation to the point of flowing with the Holy Spirit, some of the steps are as follows:
1. Get people born again.
2. Get them baptized in the Holy Spirit.
3. Get their minds renewed.
4. Get them taught in the Word of God.
5. Get them to be doers of the Word.
6. Get them to become worshippers.
You must take people through these progressive steps, helping them to learn how to move with the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, it will be just like my experience in the denominational church I mentioned earlier. I was actually on the platform to preach that day. After we had finished singing I said, "I know this will be uncomfortable for many of you, but I want to ask all of you to lift up your hands." Some people looked around; others barely lifted their hands. They were very uncomfortable. One of the pastors kept looking at his watch while we were lifting our hands to worship the Lord. Their minds were not renewed with the Word of God, and they were not experienced in lifting their hands unto the Lord. Yet, you would be shocked if I told you how many positive comments I received from the people after the service. They had never understood before that God wants us to lift up our hands in the sanctuary, blessing Him (Psalm 134:2).
The Anointing of The Holy Spirit Is Given for a Purpose
In Luke 4:14 we read, "And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about." After Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him (3:21-22), He went out into the wilderness and was tempted by the devil for forty days (4:1-2). Jesus then came back from the wilderness in the power of the Holy Spirit (4:14). He was obviously not the same. There was something different.
In Luke 4:18-19 Jesus tells us that "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." The anointing of the Holy Spirit is given for a purpose. The same is true today. He anoints you for a purpose.
Many times when I am on the platform to preach or teach, I will lean over to the praise and worship leader and request certain songs relating to a certain flow or vein. Why? Im a spiritual doctor. I sense in my heart what God wants from us at that time. God wants every one of us to interact with Him from our heart, and as a leader I must keep that first and foremost. This is true whether you are leading a Bible study, teaching a childrens Sunday School class, or pastoring a church.
The Lord has anointed you for a purpose, and you must be willing to look and see what it takes to get your people to worship God in spirit, from the heart, and in truth. Its your job. Its your responsibility as a leader. When you lead the people into spiritual worship they will develop a sensitivity to the heart of God.
To have a move of the Holy Spirit you must have the same motives as the Holy Spirit. You must have the same objectives as the Holy Spirit. You must have the same purpose as the Holy Spirit.
You may want to ask yourself a few simple questions. Why do I want a move of the Holy Spirit? Why do I want to experience His gifts? What is my purpose? What is my reason? What is my objective in having a move of the Holy Spirit?
It is vital that you have the exact same objective, purpose, and reasons as the Holy Spirit Himself has. Remember, the Holy Spirit is given for a purpose according Luke 4:18-19. The Holy Spirits objectives and reasons for the anointing are as follows:
1. To share the gospel with the poor.
2. To heal the brokenhearted.
3. To bring deliverance to the captives.
4. To bring recovery of sight to the blind.
5. To set at liberty them that are bruised.
6. To declare the acceptable year of the Lord.
The Heartbeat of God Is to Meet the Needs of People
You must have the heartbeat of God, to meet the needs of people. That must be your purpose, your goal, and your objective. You might say, "Im a pastor," or "Im a praise and worship leader," or "Im a Bible School teacher," or "Im a Sunday School teacher," but always remember that the reason for the anointing of the Holy Spirit is to meet the needs of the people. It is to help the people. It is to open the eyes of their understanding. If they are not saved, He wants them to be saved. If they are not baptized in the Holy Ghost, He wants them to be baptized in the Holy Ghost. If they need healing, He wants them to be healed.
If we want a greater move of the Holy Spirit, we must have a heart for the needs of the people. I was talking to a friend one day, and we were discussing different presidents of African countries. Every president of every country starts out with good intentions. They always begin by saying the right things, and people love admire them. Nevertheless, at some time in the life of many presidents something changes. The people start thinking, "Uh, the man doesnt love us anymore! He used to tell us that he was going to give us electricity and water. He was going to give us hospitals and schools. He was going to fix the roads." Something changes. He stops the programs he promised, and he starts to build big mansions. It is at that point the people come to a determination. They decide: "The man doesnt love us. He doesnt have a heart for us." It works the same in ministry.
Let me give you an example of a typical church service. We start with about twenty to thirty minutes of praise, singing, dancing, and a few minutes of worship. Then come the announcements, followed by one or two songs from the choir. Next, we have an offering after which the pastor preaches for about forty minutes. We have now been in church about two hours. It is at this time that we may take a few minutes to minister to the needs of the people. We may give an altar call, or we may take a little time to pray for the sick. "But, come on; its almost 12:30. Its time to eat. You cant take too long with these people. Were in a hurry. Weve been here for two hours already."
How many churches do you know that will take time at the end of the service to minister the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Unfortunately, not many do because "Oh no! It takes time!" We need to take the time to apply what we are teaching. Luke 4:18 says that the Spirit of God is upon me and has anointed me to take care of the needs of people. Unfortunately, we often do not give place or time for ministering to their needs. Oh, you might not admit it, but it is still true! If you will not make it a priority to minister to the needs of the people, you dont truly love the people first although you may not admit it. You love your program first. You love your structure first and your format first. You love being in charge. You love religion. You may love the church, but you dont genuinely love the people.
If you love the people, you want to meet their needs. If you love the people, you will make time in your services for salvation, for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for the healing of bodies, and for deliverance of souls. You will make time in every service. Every service? Yes. Every service. If you do not have that as your heart, if that is not your objective, if that is not your purpose, you are not going to flow with the Holy Ghost.
You may say, "Oh, but I want a move of the Holy Ghost!" You are not going to get a move of the Holy Ghost until His main priority becomes yours. He is not going to flow with you. You must flow with Him. He is not going to change His program for you. He has His objectives. He has His purpose. When you start moving in His purpose and in His objectives, you will find it very easy to have a move of the Holy Spirit.
You find it easy because you are always thinking about meeting other peoples needs. You are always concerned for their needs. One of the best things that we could do in our services would be to just knock out about thirty minutes of our having fun. It is too bad that some would rather dance than meet the needs of the people.
On the other hand, you know that in a church or in Bible School setting often there is an understood time allotment. For example, you may have a time allotment of one hour for your class and two hours for church. With that in mind, make meeting the needs of the people first priority and make the other things second priority. We should pray for people in every service who need to be saved and baptized in the Holy Ghost.
Have as your primary focus meeting the needs of the people. This will put you in a place where the Holy Spirit will move. He will move because you are doing what is dear to His heart.
Charismatic Tradition vs. Denominational Tradition
The Holy Spirit always wants to meet the needs of the people. You are just running a religious program unless you give Him time and place for that. You will have a program where you are simply doing your own thing. If you allow this to happen, charismatic tradition will set in, and it will be no different from denominational tradition.
I had been working in Guatemala for some time when the Holy Spirit said something to me I will never forget. I was standing in the back of a charismatic church when He said, "If I wanted to move in praise and worship, you would not allow me." I said, "I am not even in charge of the service. Im just working in the back, in the parking lot. It is not my program!" I knew what He was saying though. We leaders, we want to be in charge.
For you see, in that particular church, the pastor had told the praise and worship leader, "Listen, sing four songs. Dont go over that. No more than fifteen minutes. Dont go past that. From there we do the announcements, have the offering, and then I will preach." I had to admit the Holy Spirit was right. They would not change that program for anything. It was etched in stone just like the Ten Commandments.
We have to learn how to flow with the Holy Spirit and not make Him flow with our plan, our objective, and our program. We need to flow with His program. His program is getting people to worship God from their hearts. His program is to meet the needs of the people. When that becomes our priority and our program, guess what? You will find the Holy Spirit moves very easily.
Now, the Holy Spirit is not someone whom we can control and manipulate. In 1988, I was at a camp meeting in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa. There were many ministers, including myself, on the platform. I will never forget this experience. We had told the people that if anyone would like prayer just to come on up and we would pray for them. I remember seeing a young girl wearing a coat walk up to the platform. As she was walking toward me, I felt impressed just to say, "Holy Spirit, have your way." She was about five or six feet from me when I said that and as she took her next step, you would have thought that somebody had punched her in the face. She went flying backwards in the air, knocking down the people behind her. The Holy Spirit had His way, and He did a wonderful thing in her life.
As the next person in line came up to me, I said, "Praise God! Amen! Holy Spirit, have your way!" Nothing happened. The person just stood there. I thought, "Well, maybe I need to put my hands on their head." I did and said again, "Holy Spirit, have your way!" The person was still standing there. So, I just prayed for them. You see, its not me controlling the Holy Spirit; its the Holy Spirit controlling me. The first time I said, "Holy Spirit, have your way," He had prompted me to say that. The second and third time I said it because I had seen the way it worked and figured: "Man, Ive got this thing down. Im going to change the name of our ministry to Have Your Way Holy Spirit Ministries."
I experienced a similar situation in August of 1985 in Cleveland, Ohio. Having recently graduated from Bible school, I was asked to preach a revival at a particular denominational church. In one of the services the Holy Spirit blew in audibly. People in the back heard a wind come whipping into the building. One of the people sitting in the back was a teen-age girl. The wind blew across her face. Suddenly, both of her knees started burning. She had been to the doctor and was diagnosed with arthritis in both of her knees. Both of her knees started burning, and they were both completely healed when she stood. This young girl was the pastors daughter. Her healing was a real sign to the pastor and to the leaders of the church that it was God.
Before that service began my friend and I had joined together in prayer. We had a powerful time of intercession and travail. After the service I thought, "Were going to call our ministry the 'Winds of the Holy Spirit'!" Yet, the Lord does not move in that way each and every time. Remember, we can not make things happen. We must flow with the Holy Spirit. We are not trying to make Him flow with us. We want what He wants, not what we want. We want to do it His way, not our way. We flow with Him. He is in charge, not us.
The Holy Spirits Motive Is to Help Suffering People
Until you get your purpose and your motives the same as His, He is not going to flow with you. People are His purpose, and helping suffering people is His motive. That is why I knock so hard on religion. That is why I knock so hard on titles and rank when there is not a true heart for the people.
Many people want to be used of the Holy Spirit. They want to experience greater power and greater manifestation. Why? They want to be seen. Why do you want to be used of God? For the excitement of it? You will have to ask yourself that question. There are a great number of people who say and pray, "Oh God! Give me your power!" Why? "I want a church of 1,000!" Why? "Oh God! I want to be used of you!" Why? What are your motives? What are your reasons? You must answer these essential questions.
Allow me to give you a piece of advice. Don't send people out to knock on the doors of your neighborhood so the church can grow. Dont send people out to the streets to evangelize so the church will grow. That is a wrong motive. Send people out so they will meet the needs of suffering people. When you have that heart, your church will grow.
Many people want a ministry. They want miracles. They want churches that are big so they can be somebody special. Thats the wrong reason. The motive is to help people. Guess what? When you love people with a pure motive, they will come. When you start meeting their needs, they will come. The Bible schools in West Africa are examples of that. I dont know what they are going to do this year for buildings. I dont know how they will manage, but I am sure that God will make a way. Why? Peoples needs are being met when they come. We do not have the Bible schools just to have Bible schools. No, we have them because we love people.
We have to keep our motives pure. We have to keep our objectives pure. We have to keep our purpose pure. Now, remember what I am talking about. Im talking about you moving with the Holy Spirit, having a move of the Holy Spirit, experiencing a greater presence of the Holy Spirit, and moving in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. God inhabits the praises of His people. His presence will be manifested when we sing; however, there is more. The Lord has a much greater place He wants to take us. This is a place where the Holy Spirit leads and guides us daily. This is a place where we walk in the Spirit continuously.
In order to flow with the Holy Ghost you must be able to distinguish between the gold and the brass, not substituting one for the other. When Solomon built the temple he made sure that everything inside the Holy of Holies consisted of pure gold. However, when Rehoboam refurnished the temple after Shishak king of Egypt took away the treasures, he replaced the gold shields with brass (2 Chronicles 12:9-10). Brass looks very similar to gold, but it is not gold. It is shiny like gold, but it is not the real thing. Unfortunately, this very same thing happens in ministry. There is the real in ministry, and there is the imitation in ministry. There is the gold, and there is the brass. You need to know the real thing so the imitation does not fool you. One example I can give you is the laying on of hands. I am saddened by the fact that we have almost cheapened the laying on of hands.
You need to know the difference between the real and the imitation. The gold versus the brass. The very real versus that which looks similar but isnt. Let me give you an illustration. Lets say you come to the altar for prayer. I lay my hands upon you, and the Holy Spirit puts you down on the floor. Thats gold. That happens, and it is very real. The story I shared with you earlier of the girl flying backwards was very real. That was the Holy Spirit. I was in a service in Massachusetts once when a nine-year-old girl went down under the power of the Holy Spirit. As she was lying down by my feet, she looked up and said, "I cant move. I cant get up." Nine-year-olds dont fake it. However, adults sometimes do. They want to show how spiritual they are or how spiritual that particular ministry is by falling. As long as someone is behind them to catch them, they will fall.
One particular time when I was at a Full Gospel Business Mens meeting in Liberia, West Africa, a woman who was about 60 years old had witnessed a number of people falling. So, she automatically fell down when the man of God prayed for her, but there was no one there to catch her. She hit her head when she hit the ground. She was not seriously injured, but it hurt (she grabbed her head). I felt bad for her, but that was brass. That was not gold.
Again in Liberia, I saw a fourteen-year-old girl fall on concrete with nobody behind her to catch her. A man who was not born-again came up to me and asked, "What was that? I just saw that girl fall on the concrete. I cant believe this. Didnt she get hurt?"
I said, "I dont know. Lets ask her."
So, we walked over to her. I asked, "Sister, you fell down. Didnt that hurt?"
She answered, "Oh, no. I felt like I landed on a pillow."
I asked, "What happened?"
She said, "I saw a vision of Jesus, and He spoke some things to me about my life and what I am supposed to do. It was wonderful." Needless to say, the man believed and got born again.
There is gold, a pure thing of the Spirit. Yet, there is also brass that just looks like gold. When preachers push people down, they are displaying brass (not gold). The Holy Spirit will put people down, but let the Holy Spirit do it. You dont need to do it. In some of the meetings we have had, people have fallen down without us even touching them. Thats the Holy Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit uses you, you must remember that it is not you. That is the Holy Spirit. I once saw a man and woman of God praying for people during a meeting. When they would pray for people, the people would literally slam to the ground. Id never seen anything like it. I thought, "That is the most powerful anointing Ive ever seen. This is wonderful." A few months later I attended another one of their meetings, and they announced that they wanted to pray for Bible School students. Well, I was a Bible School student at the time so I went down to the platform. When it came time to be prayed for they pushed me down so hard I couldnt believe it. It wasnt the Holy Spirit! They pushed me. She put her hand on me and pushed me on my stomach! That was brass.
Why was it brass? They were portraying a false picture. They wanted the people to think that they were doing something with God; however, God was clearly not involved. That is dangerous ground. Your motives arent pure then. Your heart isnt pure then. Youre not flowing with the Holy Ghost. Youre trying to force the Holy Ghost to flow with you.
Stay Out of Pride
When God uses you, dont get puffed up in pride. Dont start thinking, "Boy, Im really somebody now. Im something." Humility is essential. If you get caught up in titles, celebrity status, and attention, then you are not a "dead" person. You have not died to self yet, and you are still operating in the flesh.
If you are used of God, people will pat you on the back, put their arm around you, and say wonderful things to you. "Oh, that message was wonderful. That is the best teaching I have ever heard. I am so impressed. That was wonderful how the Holy Ghost worked in your service." Dont get caught up in pride. You must die to your ego.
I was in a service in Liberia once where the Pastor was moving in the gifts of the Spirit. He said, "There are some people here who have respiratory problems. Stand up." Some of them raised their hands. As soon as I saw this one girl dressed in yellow, I saw myself laughing in the spirit. She laughed at the same time. She just stood there laughing. We knew that the Holy Spirit had come on her, and she had received what God wanted to do. We called her up to the platform, and she was just exuberant. She said, "I can breathe. I can breathe deeply." She rejoiced as the Holy Spirit touched her. Later in the week, when I was ministering, I asked if that girl were in the congregation. She acknowledged that she was. When I gave the altar call, five other people who had a respiratory problem came forward. I said, "Sister, you come and pray for them." She prayed, and the Holy Spirit healed every one of them through that sister. I had to say to her, "Sister, dont get into pride." She was a young Christian, and it would have been easy for her to think, "Well, bless God, Ive got a special anointing from God to heal respiratory problems."
When I was attending Bible school in 1984, a particular church invited me to preach. However, the pastor said, "I want you to preach and teach about tithes and offerings." That was not what I wanted to preach. I wanted to preach about miracles. I was a Bible school student; I was excited about preaching. Nevertheless, I was obedient to his request and taught about tithes and offerings. At the end of the meeting, as we were praying, it was as if a spiritual jacket came upon me. Suddenly, I heard these words coming out of my mouth: "If you are here and you have been prayed for many times but have not received your miracle or your healing, come up here now. You are going to receive your miracle."
This was in Tulsa, Oklahoma where you have Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, and T. L. Osborn. Those are the big, big guys. The people may have been prayed for by all of those guys many times, and here is a little Bible school student telling them that now is the time for them to receive their miracle! Do you know what? They came up!
I walked over to the first person in line, and as I started to put my hands by her head and pray, she was gone. She was on the floor already. The next person was a large man with a hernia. As I laid my hands on him, the fire of God shot into him. I continued down the line and saw miracle after miracle happen.
The last person in line was in a wheelchair. As I laid my hands on her, I felt the power of God go into her. I said, "Maam, you have a nerve disorder."
She said, "How did you know?"
I said, "God told me." She had multiple sclerosis. As I laid my hands on her again, the power of God was going into her, but she didnt walk. After a few minutes I backed away from her and said, "Maam, how do you think I knew that you had a nerve disorder?"
"I dont know."
I said, "God showed it to me so that you would know that it was God. It was not me."
"Oh." She had to get her eyes off me and get them on God.
I could see the change in her eyes.
"Yeah, you couldnt have known that. God told you. This is God!"
I said, "Maam, what is it you want to do more than anything else?"
She said, "I want to walk."
I said, "Then you need to take a step."
She reached down, lifted up the foot rests, stood to her feet, and walked out of the wheel chair. She walked in front of the platform, and the power of God knocked her down! Someone saw her at the hospital the next day, walking down the hall and lifting her hands in praise to the Lord. She had just had her checkup, everything was fine, and she was leaving the hospital walking free.
A young girl came up to me after that service. She said, "Brother Russ, that was wonderful. It was just like watching Jesus work and walk and move." Watch out! Pride.
The next week the pastor asked me to preach again. When the time came for the altar call, I said, "If youre here and youve never been healed, come on down here. Youre going to get your healing." It didnt work. They didnt get their healing. It is not you. It is the Holy Ghost. Dont get to thinking, "Boy, Ive got this thing figured out." The same thing goes for praise and worship or anything else. Just because you have been used by God a few times, dont start thinking, "Man, Ive got this all figured out. I dont have to pray now. I dont have to keep it fresh. I dont have to keep it stirred up. It is just me." It is never just you. It is always the Holy Spirit.
Impartation Comes Out of Service
Timothy received from Paul by walking with Paul. Elisha received from Elijah by walking with Elijah. Elijah said, "Elisha, you need to go." Elisha responded by saying, "No, Im keeping my eyes on you all the way. Im pressing into you. Im moving with you." Joshua moved with Moses. Today, we need to flow with the Holy Ghost.
The anointing comes from God, not from man. The laying on of hands is Biblical, but we need to follow the teaching and the examples God has given us. Moses laid hands on Joshua (Deut. 34:9). How long had Joshua served with Moses? For more than forty years. Paul spoke to Timothy about stirring up the gift that was within him through the laying on of hands by the presbytery (2 Tim. 1:6). Paul and Barnabas had hands laid on them by the prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3). In those situations they were being called out by the Holy Spirit. Hands were laid on them by people with whom they were in a ministerial relationship for a number of years. The anointing did not come from one man to another, but rather the Holy Spirit used man to anoint His chosen.
There is a place for impartation, yes, but it comes out of servitude and out of moving into that ministry gift. There is a price to pay for the things of God; they may be free, but theyre not cheap. It is not one service, get anointed, and then you have the man of Gods mantle. It doesnt work that way. In fact, Paul goes so far as to say to Timothy, "Lay hands suddenly upon no man!" (1 Tim. 5:22a). Yet, many times preachers, in their excitement, are giving us brass. We think, "If I come to the last service and get anointed with oil, then I am going to have the same anointing." It doesnt work that way.
"Do you mean there is never a time for laying on of hands?" No. Im not saying that. There is an appropriate time, but it comes after a time of relationship. It should only happen after the mentor sees that the heart and motives of his servant are right and that he is called of God (even then it is to be at the direction of the Holy Spirit). The anointing of God can never be given away. Man doesnt have that power. Elijahs mantle was not passed onto Elisha because Elisha determined so nor because Elijah determined so. It was something ordained of God because God determined so.
When People Stop Paying the Price for Gold,
They Chase Brass
There is a real gold. There is a gold in the things of the Spirit. Unless you know the gold, you will chase the brass. If you dont know the gold, the brass will deceive you. If you dont know the real thing, a counterfeit will fool you. It does not matter whether the man is a big name or not. No man can run around giving out mantles to everybody who wants one. It is not in the power of man.
Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Did Jesus transfer the anointing to his disciples? Yes, but you didnt see Him running around giving it out to thousands and making it "cheap". They had to pay a price. The Scriptures as well as historians tell us that five hundred disciples were following Jesus daily. Jesus selected seventy (and then twelve) out of all those who followed. To the seventy, He said, "I give you power and authority, and I send you forth." To the twelve, He said, "I give you power to cast out devils. I call you apostles."
Although there is great reward in being used of the Holy Ghost and walking in His anointing, there is still a price to pay. There is a reason why gold is of great value and brass is cheap. Gold shines while brass tarnishes. Gold is precious; it is rare and special. Isaiah 55:9 lays the foundation for us: "For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Gods ways are the gold. Seek after His ways and His purposes. Dont settle for your own ways and thoughts, for they are only brass in comparison. The price is worth it!
You can keep yourself filled with the Holy Spirit, experiencing the presence of God in a greater way in your individual life as well as corporately in a church service or meeting. The Apostle Paul gives us a key: "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18). In the Greek this statement is written with a progressive verb, meaning "be filled, being filled, and continually being filled."
In other words, the Apostle Paul tells us not to be drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled, be continually filled, and be refilled with the Holy Spirit. He continues by telling us how to do this by "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" (Eph. 5:19-21). Paul shows us four principles on how to be filled and refilled with the presence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Once you have been filled, there is to be a refilling. That is why Paul uses this terminology. Paul was talking to Spirit-filled Christians. He said that you need to be refilled by being fervent in spirit. Once you have filled a bucket with water, you shouldnt have to refill it unless the bucket leaks or the water is poured out. After we have been filled with the Holy Spirit, our buckets will become empty if we give out or if we leak. Unfortunately, many of us have a tendency to be like leaky buckets.
We see in Acts 2:4 that the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 4:24-31 the same disciples were together and were calling out to God because they were being persecuted. They asked God to stretch forth His hand to heal. When they had finished praying the place was shaken where they were assembled. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness. Wait a moment! Werent they already filled with the Holy Ghost in Acts 2:4? Yes. Therefore, they were refilled with the Holy Ghost in Acts 4:31. What was the consequence of being refilled with the Holy Ghost? They spoke the Word of God with boldness.
The Apostle Paul talks about stirring up the gift that has been placed in you (2 Timothy 1:6). Stirring up that gift on the inside is very important. We must go through a continual refilling of the Holy Spirit because we live in a fallen world, we are housed in flesh, and the devil rules and dominates in this world.
Paul tells us in Ephesians Chapter Five to speak in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. When you are baptized in the Holy Spirit, go to church, or attend Bible school (to name a few) there is a song in your heart. Singing that song out from your heart is important. That is one way to be refilled. It is important to speak in those songs, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Another way to be refilled is by singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. When you enter into praise and worship at church, Bible School, home, or in a meeting you are refilled with the Holy Spirit. For example, I find that when we sing songs such as "Alleluia" or "I Exalt Thee" the very words make us want to sing it out of our hearts to the Lord. As you are singing unto the Lord your spirit is being refilled.
Ephesians Chapter Five goes on to tell us that we are to "give thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 20). This is the reason I so frequently say in services, "Lets just lift our hands and thank God for Jesus. Lets just lift our hands and give thanksgiving unto God." When you give spiritual thanksgiving unto God, when you lift your heart thankfully unto the Lord, and when you choose to raise your hands and thank God for what he has done, a fresh refilling enters your spirit.
Lastly, Paul tells us to submit ourselves one to another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21). When you have a teachable heart, when you have the work of humility in your heart, when you have a submitted heart, and when you say, "My name is not most important. My title doesnt matter. Who I am doesnt make any difference," you are allowing yourself to be refilled with the Holy Spirit. So, you can see how important it is to live a life of submission. That attitude gives place for the Holy Spirit to work in your life -- "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5).
I want to go back over the ways in which we can leak. We leak when we go through the course of the day and get mad at something, not submitting ourselves when we should. When we go through the day and are not making melody in our heart, not singing unto the Lord in our heart, not lifting spiritual hands from our heart unto God, we leak. When we dont give God the thanksgiving He deserves and desires, we leak. Leakage can happen when you dont do one or more of these things.
The Apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20 says, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." We are not the important ones. Russ Tatro is not the important one. Jesus is the important one. You must have a submitted heart to the will of God. That is why I encourage you to spend time just lifting your hands in thanksgiving and surrender unto God, telling Him you are willing to do whatever He wants.
Thank God Individually and Corporately
As a leader, I want the people refilled with the Holy Spirit. When I am in the leadership position, it is important that I take all of the steps necessary for that to happen. I make sure the praise and worship leader is singing songs that are getting the people to worship God from their hearts. I make sure that we are singing and making melody unto God from our hearts. I make sure that I do this individually in my own personal time as well as corporately in a service.
Take time to thank Him in your own words. Thank Him that He died for you. Thank Him for paying the price for you. Thank Him for paying for your sin and for your sicknesses. Thank Him for the sacrifice. Thank Him for loving you. Thank Him for choosing you. Thank Him for giving His love unto us who are unworthy of His love. When we were sinners He still loved us. Give Him thanks. Give Him thanks. Give Him thanks. Express your love unto God, thanking Him with a loving heart, with an appreciative heart, with a gracious heart, with a heart full of thanksgiving because He loves us!
Perhaps you can now see why thanking God individually as well as corporately is so very important. The simple act of thanksgiving will bring the anointing of the Holy Spirit. A fresh filling of the Spirit will occur when people thank God from yielded, sincere hearts. The Holy Spirit will touch them in a special way.
I remember a service in which I was speaking. I preached the Word of God but didnt feel like I had done a good job. I didnt feel like I had a breakthrough. It just wasnt flowing. Afterwards, my wife said to me, "What was the matter?"
I said, "I dont know."
"You didnt get the breakthrough."
I said, "I know honey. I know. I just couldnt get it going."
My wife knows to be very honest with me. She wasnt being rude or harsh to me. She said, "You didnt even finish your message did you?"
"You just quit!"
I said, "I wasnt able to get through. It wasnt breaking through."
You can imagine how the people were feeling. They had been there for an hour and forty-five minutes, and it wasnt flowing. Do you know what? Even though that happened, we had a move of the Holy Spirit that very night in that same service. We started the service at 7:00 p.m. and didnt leave until 11:20. I finished preaching at about 9:00, but we didnt leave for another two and a half hours!
I had stopped preaching. I just quit. So what happened? Instead of continuing on with something that wasnt working, I said, "Lets all just stand up, lift our hands, and give thanks unto God for Jesus Christ." Everyone did. You see, the Holy Spirit will move very freely once you get people over into the spirit realm, once you start operating the way the Holy Spirit wants to operate, and once you have the same purposes that the Holy Spirit has. "You mean, Brother Russ, all I have to do is get people to stand up, lift their hands, and thank Jesus?" Yes.
That same evening a teenage girl fell under the power of God and lay on the platform for almost two hours. We had an incredible altar call with many peoples needs being met. People were singing in worship unto the Lord, singing songs that lifted up Jesus. We were in the flow -- people were being ministered to and being baptized in the Holy Spirit. The pastor said, "I cant believe this. Im always concerned about the time, but I didnt even look at my watch. Thats a miracle." We experienced an obvious move of God. It was a wonderful time!
One of my objectives as the leader on the platform is to get you to give the thanks unto God which He desires to hear from you. I know that you will be refilled, and I know that God will be pleased. I know giving thanks gives liberty for the Holy Spirit to move in our midst.
Many times people will say to me, "Brother Russ, why do you have such a move of the Spirit at the Bible schools?" The reason is simple. We love God, we want to worship Him, and we love people. We desire to see the needs of the people met, and you will find that God will move on your behalf very easily when you have that heart. He will move with you and through you.
Pray in The Spirit
Another way to easily step over into the realm of the spirit is by praying in the spirit. We have already established the need for every believer to give thanks, to be submitted one to another, to sing to the Lord from his heart, and to speak to himself in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Praying in the spirit is also a key in keeping yourself filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:14 that "He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself." We know then that praying in the spirit builds us up spiritually. 1 Corinthians 4:2 states, "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God." God desires a personal relationship with each one of us. He has told us that we are to always be praying "with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit..." (Ephesians 6:18). When we pray in the spirit, we are communicating one on one with God.
Let me add something to this point about praying in the spirit. As a leader, you must have the congregation stay hooked up spiritually when you are ministering. That is so important because the attitude of the people can increase or decrease the anointing. The people can help to increase the move of the Spirit or decrease the move of the Spirit. The people can free the Holy Spirit to move mightily or quench Him. The heart and spirit attitude of each individual is important when it comes to the move of God.
Many times when we minister to people we will have the musicians continue to play. We will have the congregation join in song, or we will have them extend their hands and pray in the spirit. We do this because we want them to stay hooked up to what the Holy Ghost is doing spiritually. If they are not hooked up spiritually, it is easy for many of them to start grumbling and complaining in their hearts, saying, "Im tired. I want to sit down. I want to go eat. This isnt fun. Why are they taking so long? We sang that song too many times." If the congregation begins to complain, the anointing will lift and the needs of the people wont be met. They must stay hooked up with the minister, and a good way for them to do that is by praying in the Spirit.
Keeping the people hooked up is very important if you are going to continue to have a move of the Spirit. Stepping over into the realm of the spirit is not difficult, nor is it difficult to get other people over there. When people lift up their hands, it is a reflection of their submitted and surrendered hearts unto God.
Submitted Hearts Are Key to a Move of the Spirit
When we first started the Bible Schools in West Africa, it was harder to have a move of the Holy Spirit. The people were not submitted unto God. Many had come out of religious backgrounds. We would say, "Lift your hands," and about half of them would lift their hands. The other half would just look around.
Do you think you can have a move of God in a church when you cant even get the people to respond? Those are not submitted or surrendered hearts. However, when we help people, teach people, and open the Word for them to see as well as experience, their hearts change.
Hebrews 13:15 tells of the sacrifice that God desires of His children today. In verse fifteen we read, "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." Now remember, we are talking about how to stay filled with the Holy Ghost. Some of us have not been giving thanks continually. Some of us have not been submitted. Some of us have not been making melody in our heart. Some of us have been grumbling in our heart.
Those are the reasons for leakage, and all of us need to be continually refilled. Myself included. It is a continual process for all of us. It is a daily process for all of us. It is important to be refilled daily. Giving praise how often? Continually. You should circle, underline, and put stars by Hebrews 13:15. When you open your Bible to that page, fireworks should go off.
In Ephesians 5:18 we are told, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." Paul gives an analogy or a comparison to drunkenness. I used to be in the world. I know what drunkenness is like.
I want to give you a few characteristics of drunken people. On the day of Pentecost, the people were all filled with the Holy Ghost and drunk as if on wine. People saw them and said, "These guys are drunk!" They were drunk in the Holy Ghost, not on wine (Acts 2:13-14).
I remember when I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I had such a wonderful baptism of the Holy Ghost that two of my friends had to take me by the arm and lead me back to my seat. For the next twenty-four hours, I was drunk in the Holy Spirit.
Praise God Openly
Christians are the only fishermen I know who are afraid of the fish. We are fishers of men, yet we are afraid of the very ones we are called to catch. What would you think of a fisherman who was afraid to touch the fish? "Ooh, I dont like the smell of the fish! I dont like touching it with my hands." A fisherman loves to fish. That is what he is all about. We are fishers of men and should not be afraid of or intimidated by the fish.
I heard a story about a fellow. He was riding a bus from one bus stop to another, trying to get a connection. As his bus was coming in, he saw the other bus pull in at the same time. He became concerned that he wouldnt have enough time to get to the other bus. Unfortunately, he was in the back of the bus, and it was very crowded. People were carrying big bags and standing in the aisles. This man is thinking to himself, "Im in the back of the bus. Ill never be able to get to the front of the bus in time. What am I going do?" All of a sudden, he heard himself loudly proclaim, "Praise the Lord! I sure am glad Im saved!" Guess what happened? The bus became silent.
A little aisle opened in the middle of the bus as everybody turned around to look at him. He said, "Praise God!" and marched right down the middle of the aisle. Everyone was silent. He got to the new bus, looked back, and thought to himself, "Well, I did it once. I might as well do it again." Hallelujah! I sure am glad Im saved!"
When things look too difficult, we just need to praise God openly. When obstacles begin to clutter our path, we just need to praise God verbally, vocally, openly, and aggressively for the devil and everybody else to see and hear.
People who are drunk in the Spirit dont care what people think. They dont care what they are going to say. They are more concerned about what their God says. I fell into a bad habit a few years ago. I would see myself as a missionary when I was in Africa, but when I came back to America, I would see myself on vacation and would stop witnessing. Its easy for me to see myself as a missionary when Im in Africa. The Lord dealt with me about that very thing when I met some elderly people in Maryland.
I was invited by a church in Maryland to speak to one of their cell groups, a small home covenant group. I was on my way to another conference in Boston, so it worked out very well. They said that they wanted to start supporting us as a ministry and wanted me to share about missions. When an older, retired couple picked me up at the airport, I thought, "Im kind of young, and I like young people. These folks are a little old, sort of like my Grandpa and Grandma." They were pleasant people; so, praise God, we kept walking and talking. The older man said, "When we retired, we went to Bible school. Now Im in the ministry." "Praise God," I thought.
We arrived at their house, and there I met another retired couple. Then someone else came to the door. It was another retired couple. Then the next person came. It was one of the retired couples mother. You can guess how old she was. I thought, "Man, I was thinking more of a congregation of about one thousand young people where we could really get something going here, but all of these people are old." About four or five other people came. Some were middle-aged people in their 50's. As I was sitting there studying this assorted group, they started talking.
One lady said, "Im a missionary."
I said, "You are?"
"Yes. Im a missionary to the Catholics."
"Oh, thats good. Thats good."
Another woman, who had just received Jesus into her heart several weeks prior, said, "I was a Catholic, and she invited me to come to the Pentecostal church. It was because of her that I came and have now accepted Jesus. I have become a member of the church."
Then this other retired couple says, "Oh yes, we are missionaries too."
I said, "You are?" I was thinking of India, China, or somewhere like that.
"Every Saturday we go out to the parking lots around the malls, and we put gospel tracts under the windshield wiper of every car."
Then the mother of the retired couple says that shes a missionary. She said, "Have you signed the petition yet?"
"The petition to get prayer back in the schools of America. You need to sign this petition. I have forty pages of petitions signed. Bless God, were going to get prayer back in the schools." I thought, "This lady is a missionary to the schools."
One of the older, retired men says to the middle-aged lady who had just recently been born-again, "You want the Holy Ghost, dont you?" She looked at him as if to say, "I didnt even know there was such a thing." I mean, she didnt say, "Oh yes, bless God, I want the Holy Ghost!" Instead she said, "I suppose I do if thats what you say." I could see that response on her face.
He points to me and says, "This missionary from Africa, the man of God, is here. He is going to pray for you. You watch this." Meanwhile, Im sitting there thinking, "She hardly even wants it! She isnt even acting like she wants to be filled! She needs teaching." In my mind, Im thinking about me, not about her. Im seeing how she is not showing much hunger. The biggest problem was that I was seeing myself as on vacation, not as a missionary. The retired man could see that I was a little hesitant. So he finally said, "Oh, okay." He walked over to the lady and said, "You want the Holy Ghost, right?"
He then lays his hand on her and starts praying in tongues. Im thinking, "She isnt going to get the Holy Ghost that way. Faith comes by hearing. She cant get the Holy Ghost that way." As I am thinking this, the rest of these missionaries start praying in tongues, and you know what? All of a sudden (BOOM), she falls on the floor. I thought, "Eh! She fell on the floor!" Then her nineteen-year-old daughter leaned over to me and said, "This is God!" I looked at her like, "Why do you say that?" I didnt say it, but thats what I was thinking. She said, "My Mom has been making fun of those people at church when they fall down. She says that she doesnt think that stuff is real. Now look at her. She is lying on the floor." As the man continued to pray in tongues for the woman, tears began rolling down her face. She starts speaking in tongues. I was amazed; she was baptized in the Holy Ghost.
Do you know what? The power of God that manifested didnt come through me the overseas missionary. It came through the retired man, the old man! "Hes not even a preacher! Why didnt God flow through the missionary from Africa?" Thats what I was thinking. He worked through the retired man! You know why the power of God moved through him? He saw himself as a missionary. I was seeing myself on vacation. The Holy Ghost said, "Hey, I will work through those who see the way I see. I will work through those who flow with my purpose and my objectives. I will flow with those who have a heart of love for the people." Even if doctrinally they are not teaching everything fully, He says, "I will flow through them."
Drunk people dont care what others think. You want to know some of the characteristics of people who are drunk? Some people are very quiet until they get drunk: "HEY, MY FRIEND! HOW ARE YA DOIN?" They then become very talkative.
We Need to Be More Talkative for God
and Less Fearful of Man
I heard about two pastors who went to see a fellow about purchasing a car. One of the pastors had been in the dealership the day before. The sales agent he had spoken with had given him a card with a quoted price for a particular car written on it. The pastor went back the next day with a pastor friend of his, showed the manager the card, and said, "I was here yesterday and talked to your sales agent. He gave me this price." Well, the manager started cussing. "That blankety blank blank!" He then started cursing God. "We cant sell the car that cheap! There is no way we can make that car available!" All of a sudden, the preacher gets in his face and says, "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Jesus is Lord! I glorify Him! Hallelujah!" The guy stopped cursing. The preacher said, "If you are going to curse Him, Im going to praise Him. I demand equal time. If you are going to curse and abuse Him, Im going to praise and glorify Him." You would have thought the manager became a priest all of a sudden. He shut up. Sometimes we just need to be more talkative for Jesus and shut the devils mouth. The manager ended up selling the car at the quoted price, and he sold the other pastor a car at the same price also. More talkative for Jesus is what we need to be.
People who are drunk appear to be very happy. Even if theyre not happy, they appear happy. In the bars, they are always dancing, laughing, singing, and shouting. They seem to be happy, but they are not happy on the inside. That is why they drink. They drink to cover up their unhappiness, and for a small time, at least, they feel happy. Alcohol makes you feel happy; however, you dont feel happy when you wake up in the morning. Nevertheless, they do appear to be happy. A whole lot of Christians could learn from that. If you ask Christians how they are doing, most respond, "Fine." Ask them if they have the victory? "Oh, by Gods grace, I guess. I dont know. I do try. Im making it." You dont see much happiness. You dont see much joy.
If the joy of the Lord is on the inside, it should show up on the outside. We should appear to be happy because we are happy. Another thing that is true is that drunken people are givers. I used to go to the bar with my friends. Theyd get drunk and say, "Ill buy everybody a drink!" They are givers, and some of us need to learn from that. We need to be more generous, more giving.
We need to be free with our praise. We need to be free with our worship. We need to be free with our finances. We need to be free with our love.
We are talking about increasing the anointing, increasing the move of the Holy Spirit, and flowing in the supernatural. When you personally begin to give God what He wants and get others to do the same, you will start experiencing a greater move of the Holy Spirit.
Something happens when we publicly acknowledge the Holy Spirits presence. Something happens when we publicly give Him place with our voice. You have given respect to Him, and He appreciates that.
The church which Dr. Cho pastors in Korea seats some 20,000 people. Do you know what? They never have empty seats in the congregation. Im serious. They have eight or ten services on Sunday, and they cannot seat all the people. However, one chair is purposely left empty during every service. That chair is on the platform. Dr. Cho says that chair is for the Holy Spirit. He fellowships and talks with the Holy Spirit. He says, "Precious Holy Spirit, we want you to know that this seat is reserved for you."
Now, if you were to look at it from a legalistic standpoint you might say, "Bless God, all I have to do is have an empty chair, and now the Holy Spirit is going to be here." Its not the empty chair that makes it happen. Its the heart attitude of the leader that makes it happen. Its not the chair that causes it. Its the heart attitude of Dr. Cho. His attitude allows the Holy Spirit to move in the midst of that great congregation. Our heart and attitude about the Holy Spirit are very important.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." You should circle "the communion with the Holy Ghost" in your Bible. There is a place for us to commune, to fellowship, to spend time with, and to talk to the Holy Spirit. That is what that chair is signifying. Dr. Cho is signifying his communion or his fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Acknowledging the Holy Spirit and giving Him the respect and honor due Him opens the door for Him to come in and fellowship with us.
If you dont give Him place, He wont take any place. If you dont give Him the right of way, if you dont give Him permission, and if you dont give Him place to move, He will not move. He will let you stay in your pride. He will let you stay in your stubbornness and have your own way. If thats what you want, He will allow you to have it. God is a God of free will. He will let us have our own way, or He will let us submit and surrender unto Him.
God Inhabits Praise
I mentioned earlier that one of the keys to a greater move of God is meeting peoples needs. Some basic steps need to be taken, and we have discussed those. Now, I want to share some practical applications for experiencing a greater move of God in praise and worship during a service.
Scripture says that God inhabits the praises of His people. Any time Christians come together and praise God, there will be the presence of the Holy Spirit because God inhabits our praises. He absolutely does. There will be a measure of the Holy Spirit present. What you do depends on how great a measure you experience. If you have a thirty minute praise and worship time, let there be ten minutes of praise and twenty minutes of worship. Let there be ten minutes of soulish singing. Singing about our victory is healthy for us, but let us not allow the soulish and the natural to dominate our praise and worship. Let worship from the heart take the highest place. By the way, worship from the heart doesnt have to be slow songs only. Anytime you have musical people who are singing listen to the words and say to yourself, "Am I singing that from my heart, or am I singing that from my head?"
As leaders, you must determine which songs are getting people to sing from their hearts. I was in church one Sunday, singing from the hymnbook, and I realized that I wasnt singing from my heart. I was singing from my head. Nobody else was singing from their heart either. It was nice, but it didnt do anything. Find out what songs, whether slow or fast, that come from the heart. Worship songs should be dominating your time in praise and worship. They should be the majority, not the minority.
Dont wear people out with sixty, seventy, eighty minutes of praise. It doesnt take that long to move over into the spirit realm. Actually, just lifting your hands and singing a chorus of "Alleluia" will move you into the spirit realm. Do you know why? From where does the song "Alleluia" come? It comes from heaven. Its a heavenly song (Revelation 19:1-6). The word alleluia is the only universal word in the world. It is means the same in every language. Alleluia means high praise unto God. Its that simple.
This next practical application may seem like common sense; however, it needs to be said. Praise and worship leaders, please dont scream into the microphones. Dont sing so loud that it is distracting and painful for peoples ears. There have been times that I have wanted to sing unto God, but the praise and worship leader was blasting so loudly that it made it difficult for me even to sing to Him. Don't get me wrong; there is a time to be loud. There is a time to shout, "Hallelujah," but make sure its the right time. When you are worshipping God from your heart is not the time to be screaming, "Hallelujah!"
The same idea applies to instruments. Im not saying that you cant sing and play with great volume. However, you do need to know that there is a time to be loud and a time to be soft. You must be able to discern between the two. The Holy Spirit will use the musicians and their instruments. Music can touch the heart. Music is an important part of our Christianity. God uses music because He inhabits what? He inhabits the praises of his people.
Let me make one thing clear before we go any further. If you have musicians who are just pushing the keys, you are better off playing a tape. Just making noise is not joyful or beautiful to the Lord. If you dont know what you are doing, dont do anything. You are better off to step back and admit that you dont know. Dont just make noise. That is not praise!
Flowing with the Minister
Musicians and singers, make sure there is no strife between yourselves or between you and the minister. Strife between you will hinder the flow. Remember that when you are singing and playing your instruments, you should flow with the minister who is leading the service, not the other way around. You flow with the minister. You are not functioning as an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher. Musicians and singers are in the ministry of helps. "Oh, thats a lower calling." Its not a matter of lower calling or higher calling. Its a matter of understanding your calling. Musicians are in the ministry of helps with the purpose of helping to usher the people into the presence of God. The Lord has placed apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to lead the service. He speaks from the top down. You need to flow with the leader. Unfortunately, I have seen many instances where the praise and worship team was controlling the flow. What the praise and worship team does or does not do, will either help or hinder the move of the Holy Spirit.
If the praise and worship team will not flow with the minister, they will become a hindrance. It is important for the minister to have excellent communication with the praise and worship team. From the leadership on down the line, submitted hearts are a must for a greater move of God. Ministers, pastors, and leaders, communicate with your praise and worship team.
I have been in services where the musicians simply shut down. They just stopped playing. Thats not being a help. Thats a type of control. Perhaps God wanted me to give a tongue and interpretation or to take another step in the spirit. The minister or someone else who is directed by the Holy Spirit to lead the service should determine when the music stops. I have also experienced different times when I would say, "Lets sing this song," and I could tell the ministry team didnt like that particular song. It wasnt a part of their program. It wasnt on the list. They didnt rehearse it. They would not work with me. Thats not flowing with the ministry gift, and thats certainly not flowing with the Holy Spirit.
Musicians, if youve been singing and the minister comes to the platform, stop singing but continue playing the instruments. This will give the minister the opportunity to either go with the flow or to stop it. Allow the minister to make the decision, not you.
In 2 Kings Chapter 3, three kings call upon Elisha. They want a word from the Lord. We read Elishas response in verse fifteen: "But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him." The minstrel comes in and plays, the minstrel flows with the ministry gift, and the ministry gift brings out the word of the Lord needed at that moment. It was because the minstrel was willing to flow with Elisha. Are you minstrels willing to be used by the Lord? If you are, you must flow with the minister and the ministry gift.
A Word of Caution
Ministers and leaders are human just like everybody else. For example, if Im on the platform and I see that we are just singing soulish and carnal songs, I shut down spiritually. Im not going to fake it. Im not going to whip it up. Im not going to try to make it happen. Im not going to bring out the brass instead of the gold. We could give altar calls every meeting. Packing out auditoriums by using all kinds of gimmicks would be easy for us. We could have crowds of thousands at every meeting by just telling people it was going to be a prophecy meeting or a special anointing service. It is a dangerous place to be in when you are faking it.
The Gifts of the Spirit Operate in a Domino Effect
The gifts of the Spirit operate in a domino or chain effect. For instance, we may be worshipping God, and I get one word. Lets say that one word is "unity". I will lean over to the praise and worship leader and say, "God is speaking the word unity to me. Lets sing a song about unity." The praise and worship leader then leads us into a worship song about unity. We have just accomplished step one.
When we are flowing with that one song, I then get another word. I dont get the second word until I get the first one and am obedient to that first word. Its a domino effect. You do one, then you get two. You do two, then you get three. You do three, then you get four, and at the end of the service were shouting with victory. Yet, when we started, we didnt know all the steps. We didnt have everything written down on paper. For example, we didn't say, "Okay, were going to do one chorus of 'Alleluia', then were going to have everybody lift their hands, and finally were going to get a word from God about exhorting the people into courage and strength." We didnt plan that. Steps two, three, four, and five are dependent upon number one. Flowing as a team and following the leaders direction are important. If you, as a team, were not obedient at step one, you will never know what the other steps were to be, and the peoples needs will not be met.
Ministry, Not Performance
Musicians and singers, its ministry (not performance). It isnt a matter of who is the loudest (so everyone can hear his instrument), nor is it a matter of who will be seen. Its ministry, not performance. Music can usher in the presence and anointing of God. Remember, the anointing is given to meet the needs of the people. They need to worship God from their heart. They need to interact with God from their heart. They need to be refilled with the Holy Spirit. They need a fresh touch from God. They need to surrender to God They need peace in their life. Help usher in the anointing, and their needs will be met.
That is what worship is all about. That is what the music is all about. Its to minister to the needs of the people. Its not good enough for you just to know it. It must be the attitude of your heart. If that is not your heart, people can tell. It can easily be seen. You can tell who is up on the platform to perform and who is there to minister. You can tell by their attitudes.
God has blessed many people with great talent. That talent is greatly appreciated. However, always remember that it is ministry (not performance) when you are using that talent and gracing in a service or as part of a service. We are focusing on a greater move of the Holy Spirit to do what? To meet the needs of the people. We are not seeking to boost our own egos or sell more tapes. The goal is not to show the people how talented we are. No, it is to meet the needs of the people.
That brings us to the point of showing appreciation. When the choir sings or a praise and worship team member sings a solo, what usually happens at the end of the song? Most people clap. They applaud for them. This is where the congregation must also remember that it is ministry, not a performance. Where does our appreciation belong when a song or a singer in a service blesses us? It belongs to God. He should get the adoration. He should get the appreciation. Instead of applauding the performer, we should be lifting our hands, thanking God. What should you do if the choir sings and you are blessed by it? Lift your hands and thank God. That is how you show your appreciation unto God. If you want to tell the choir after the service how wonderful the music was, of course youre free to do so.
Remember what we are talking about. Were talking about flowing with the Holy Spirit. If you start giving credit to man, the Holy Spirit just backs up and says, "Fine, if thats what you want, clap for your choir. Dont give any credit to God. Dont give any acknowledgment to God." He says, "Ill just back right out of the way." You may be thinking, "Does that really happen?" Watch what happens in a spirit-filled arena when the people begin to applaud. The Spirit leaves, and His anointing lifts. On the other hand, watch the anointing increase in the meeting when people lift their hands, giving thanks unto God. It so important to remember who deserves all of the glory, honor, and praise. Not man!
We do realize, though, that the Holy Spirit works through man. This is why musicians must remember that they are being used by the Holy Spirit to minister to the needs of people. Keep your attitudes right! A performance attitude will hinder the move of the Holy Ghost. God has placed grace and talent within men and women of God, and that grace works through us when we to yield to it. However, you can also frustrate that grace and the move of the Holy Spirit. Any person who works in a service (whether it is the sound man, the lighting personnel or someone on the platform) must yield to the grace within them, giving proper credit to the Lord. Ministry, not performance -- understanding this is essential to the move of the Holy Spirit.
God Ordained Order for a Reason
Worship leaders, dont preach from the pulpit. You are not the preacher. You are in the ministry of helps. If you would like to take a minute and exhort the people about worship, of course! That is appropriate. You may need to give them direction about worship, but dont try to preach to them.
I have seen worship leaders come into the pulpit and preach the pastors message before the pastor even got up to preach. I have been in services where the worship leader came up and gave an altar call for salvation after the praise and worship. Ive also seen the worship leader give an altar call for healing. Thats not his place! "Well, Brother Russ, I can do it too. Youre not the only one whos anointed." That is true, but God ordained order for a reason.
During praise and worship the presence of God becomes very strong in and around the pulpit. The worship leader is excited. When he steps into the anointing, he starts to sense what we are supposed to do in the service. However, that doesnt mean it is for him to do.
For those who have been up on the platform, you understand the anointing of the Holy Spirit. There is an anointing up there. That is why it is smarter to sit at the front and not at the back. The anointing is greater near the pulpit. So, the worship leader nears the pulpit, he senses the anointing and wants to step into it, but "that is not your place, brother." The ministers know this. When something like that happens, it is like having a baby too early. It is premature.
The impact that the fivefold ministry gifts have is different from that of the ministry of helps. The impact is not greater, just different according to the grace given for those individual gifts. You must always recognize that the Lord has a way of doing things, an order. It will always work out the best if we follow His order. Allow the minister who is leading the service to direct what happens; it is his place to do so.
Flexibility and Adaptability Are a Must in Ministry
You must always be open to change at a moments notice. It is true that communication, rehearsal, planning, and practice are all a must; however, never rely on your own abilities and planning. Never rely on your past accomplishments either. When we lean on our flesh and our own abilities, we are not leaning on the Holy Spirit. Remember, it is His show. It is His service.
Not long ago, I was in Liberia for Bible School graduation ceremonies. Approximately 7,000 people were in attendance, and the plan for the ceremony was quite extensive. The musicians were going to play, the singers were going to sing, and a number of students were going to speak. However, the Holy Spirit had a different plan.
During our third song of praise and worship the Holy Spirit started to move. You see, the song we were singing was "Lord, Heal Our Land." They desperately need that in Liberia. The people started to call out to God from their hearts, asking God to heal their land. It was an incredible move of the Holy Spirit. Hal Rahman, the Director of the Bible training center at the time, leaned over to me and said, "Brother Russ, I think youre supposed to preach now." This was not the way the program was set up. Other events were supposed to take place before I was to preach, but Brother Hal sensed what the Holy Spirit was saying and had me preach immediately.
We gave an altar call, and anywhere from five hundred to one thousand people gave their lives to Jesus right then. We went back into singing that song, and there was another tremendous move of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moved and healing came. People were crying, and I dont mean one or two. Men were crying; women were crying; people were crying everywhere. It was a wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and a tremendous healing for the people.
Everyone thought that graduation was for the graduates. In this case, it wasnt to be for the graduates. It was a ministry of the Holy Ghost to the people who came to the graduation. The student testimonies were never even given. The charge to the students by the Director was never given. The choir had rehearsed many songs. They sang two! The Holy Spirit had His way. It was not our program. It was not to be our way, but His way. It was wonderful how we were used to minister to the needs of the people.
Yet, I guarantee you that there were some musicians, some students, and some people walking around saying, "I didnt even get to give my testimony. I dont believe these people. We only sang two songs. We rehearsed ten songs, and we only got to sing two!"
Do you know what? I know few people who are sensitive enough to the Holy Spirit to do what the Director did in that graduation. Very few. Very few. If we want Gods way, we have to have His heart. If we want the Holy Spirit to move, we must have His purpose and His objectives. The Holy Spirit wants to meet the needs of the people. Arent you glad that He has been faithful to meet your needs?
A Note to Preachers
This one is for the preachers. If somebody else has just preached and you step up to the pulpit, dont repreach the same sermon. Many preachers like to do that. There may have just been a wonderful move of God and the anointing is still around the pulpit, but dont step into that anointing and redo what has just been done.
I remember one time in Liberia during a church service. I had just preached about seeing yourself as missionaries. I spoke about the commitment and the sacrifice it takes to be a missionary. I gave an altar call, and we had a wonderful move of God. When I was finished, the associate pastor got up and repreached the sermon. The people just sat there in silence. It felt like dead weight.
Why did that happen? He was inexperienced in the things of God. He stepped into that anointing and didnt know how to move ahead. He only knew how to speak about what he was feeling and about what was being stirred up in him.
Continuity Is Key in Flowing with the Holy Ghost
Be careful not to break the flow of a service. Staying in the same stream is important. For example, praise and worship leaders should not go from praise to worship and then back to praise and so on. Praise is singing about God. Worship is singing from your heart unto God. There is a difference. So, dont sing two praise songs and one worship song, followed by two more praise songs and another worship song. Choppiness will break the anointing. Have a time of praise and then a time of worship, allowing the Spirit to move.
The same idea applies to church services. Too many times we have a set plan for the service. The pastor will limit the praise and worship leader to just three songs and then announcements. When you break the flow, you break the anointing. If youre going to have a time of praise and worship, let there be allowance made for the Holy Spirit to have His way. At the Bible Schools we take care of all the announcements first. After we finish we then have praise and worship, and we have unlimited time in praise and worship. We all know that at 12:00 if the Holy Spirit desires to go to 12:30, we go to 12:30. If the Holy Spirit wants to go to 1:00, we go to 1:00. If He wants to go to 2:00, we go to 2:00.
Too many leaders restrict the flow by breaking it up into pieces. Many services go something like this: praise, worship, praise, worship for fifteen minutes, then announcements, then one more song with the offering, and then the choir sings, and then well try some more praise and worship again, and if that doesnt work, then well preach the Word, then well have an altar call. Sound familiar. Dont break the flow of the Holy Ghost; there should be some continuity in our services.
We break the flow. We break the flow. When people come into the church, you may want to have one song of praise, do your announcements, and then take the offering. You then may want to come back to a time of praise and worship. You may even want to scratch your sermon. Wouldnt that be wonderful if we didnt even have a sermon on Sunday, just a move of the Holy Spirit? When was the last time you were in a church where they didnt even have a sermon on Sunday but where they instead had a move of the Holy Spirit, ministering to the needs of the people? When was the last time?
For this very reason we must give place for the Holy Spirit to move. Expect Him to move; expect Him to demonstrate Himself. Expect Him to what? Meet the needs of the people. Give Him place through the singing. Give Him place through the worship. Give Him room. Let Him have His way. If that means we have to scratch everything else, we scratch everything else.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:1 to desire spiritual gifts. He then goes on to explain prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues (the verbal gifts). There are nine different gifts of the Holy Spirit, and almost everyone I talk to wants the power gifts. "Oh God, I want to be used in healing, miracles, and the gift of faith! Oh God, give me the power gifts. I want to be used of you!" Why? For your ego? So youll feel good because youre used by God?
Unfortunately, I often see that attitude in young ministers. Many of them want to be used by God, especially when they get around evangelism (where they see signs and wonders). Why? "To meet the needs of the people, of course." Are you sure thats why?
Are you sure? Are you sure your motives are pure? Hopefully, its not because you saw how Brother So and So was used? Are you sure its not because you liked the excitement and the thrill of the anointing and all of the attention it brings? Perhaps you saw Reinhard Bonnke, the crowds, and the miracles - and it thrilled you. These are all wrong motives. You will limit and stop the Holy Spirit from flowing through you if you have those motives.
Follow After Love
Follow after love! That is the first thing Paul exhorts us to do in 1Corinthians 14:1. Follow after love. You must have love in your heart for the people, the people to whom youre ministering. You must have a heart that cares for them. You have to have a heart that wants to see their needs met. When you follow after love, the spiritual gifts will start manifesting in and through you. However, if your motives are self-centered ("Man, I want to be used of God. I want a big church. I want to be a big minister. I want to minister to large crowds"), you will be giving the people brass, not gold.
When your life becomes more in tune with Jesus and your love for Him consumes you, your heart will take on a new shape. You will grow in your love for hurting people and their needs. You will grow in your love for all of Gods creation. You will have a surrendered life, and it wont be because the preacher forces you to come to the altar. When you have that kind of love and are following after that kind of love, the spiritual gifts will begin operating in and through you. You will be a vessel that is yielded for Gods use, individually as well as corporately.
One day God spoke to my heart about going down to the local prison in Sierra Leone to start a Bible school there. I sent one of the staff to the prison to ask for a meeting with the warden. The warden immediately said, "No way! No religious groups or Bible schools in here." The staff member received the same response on each attempt. However, I finally got an appointment with him.
On the day I went to see the warden, I took an evangelist friend of mine with me. When we arrived at the prison, ten or twelve prison officials were waiting for us. I carried in copies of Maximized Manhood by Ed Cole and The Authority of the Believer by Kenneth E. Hagin (I like to give books to people because books impact the lives of those who read them). As I passed out the books, I said, "Here is a gift. We just wanted to give you a book." The warden looked at me and said, "No meeting. The chaplain is not here." I explained to him that my meeting was with him and not the chaplain, but again he said, "Theres no meeting today." I reached out and jerked the book I had given him out of his hand. Then, I went to each official and took back the books I had given to them. As I walked out the door, I said, "Fine. If you dont want our help, were out of here. We just came to help your people."
My evangelist friend said to me, "I cant believe you did that." I had to admit that I was surprised myself. I certainly didnt plan it, and I really wasnt angry. It just happened. It was the Holy Spirit. I blame it on Him!
Two days later the warden called and asked to see me. I went to see him. You would have thought that I was his best friend. He opened the prison to us. We took our evangelistic team and our musicians in for an entire week. I preached on "How to Get out of Jail," using Paul and Silas as examples. I had a captive audience! Hundreds of prisoners came to the altar and bowed their knees to Jesus Christ. Prison guards came to the altar and bowed their knees to Jesus. Prisons throughout the entire country were opened to our ministry. We started a Bible school in that particular prison with more than 100 students. The prison guards became jealous and demanded that we have one for them too. The prison Bible school is still going strong today.
Remember! When you have a submitted heart, you will find that there is a place where you will easily move in the supernatural on a regular basis. For the longest time, we have thought that moving in the gifts of the Spirit was difficult. Weve thought that the reason we werent flowing in them is because we werent earnestly desiring them enough or we werent fervently praying for them enough. Thoughts like that are easy to have. I have heard preachers teach that theory, but it is not that difficult.
God Will Supply the Gift to Meet the Need
Follow and pursue love. You may desire certain gifts over others, but always remember that God knows the gift needed at the time. People ask me, "Brother Russ, how do you know what gifts are going to manifest?" My answer is, "I know by whatever need there is at that time." God will supply the gift to meet the need. Whatever the need is God will supply the gift, and He will supply the Word.
In the beginning days of opening one of our Bible Schools in West Africa, we desperately needed for it not to rain. It was a critical need. As the staff and I were in prayer one day, God dropped the gift of faith upon me and said, "If you decree it, it will be so." I immediately said, "It shall not rain for the next three days." For the next three days, it did not rain. That is what we needed at the time.
Several years ago, I had been traveling around the United States speaking in churches, preparing to return to Africa, and thinking daily about how we needed Bibles in Africa. As I was praying one day, I sensed in my heart that I was supposed to call a certain man who works for a Bible Society. I had never met him before nor had I ever talked to him in my life. Nevertheless, I called and told him what we were doing. After I explained the situation, he said to me, "It sure is funny that you called right now." I asked, "Why is that?" His reply: "We were just discussing how we need to send some Bibles to West Africa."
I called right on time, didnt I? How did I know to call at that time? The Holy Spirit. Why? We needed Bibles. Whatever you have need of, He will manifest the provision if you are meeting the requirements and the conditions that we have been discussing.
A similar situation happened to me again. I sensed in my heart to call a certain man who had previously helped us by supplying needed textbooks for schools in West Africa. As we were talking, I said, "Listen, what would you think of one million books for the schools in the English-speaking countries of West Africa?"
He said, "One million?"
He said, "Let me think about it."
The next day he called me back and said, "Yeah, lets do it. We will supply one million books worth ten to fifteen million dollars for the schools in West Africa."
That wasnt tongues and interpretation from the pulpit! That wasnt a gift that everyone got to see! You will be used in the gifts more outside the pulpit than in the pulpit. If you care about the needs of people, you will find that Gods hand is not short. He never lacks in provision, and there is definitely not a lack of gifts. It isnt, "Oh God," and then you sit at home for five hours begging and coveting His gifts. The Lord wants to meet the needs of His people.
Back to the story at hand. The man said, "We will do it. Well give you seventy to one hundred forty-foot containers full of books." Do you know what a forty-foot container is? Do you know how much it costs to ship that many across the ocean? It costs nearly $250,000. I said, "Holy Spirit, you gave us the books. Youre going to have to help us get them over there, and I dont know how youre going to do that." We didnt even have close to that much money. Even to this day, you would be amazed at how much God has been doing in West Africa in comparison with the amount of money we have.
A short time later, I received an invitation to a birthday party for Lester Sumrall in Southbend, Indiana. In my mind it didnt make sense to go there because my schedule was very full. At that time, I was speaking in a conference in Miami, Florida. I was then flying to Washington, D.C. when the conference was over to speak in churches there. I was flying back to Africa after that. The birthday party was going to be on the one night I had in between my last speaking engagement and going back to Africa. That meant I had to fly from Washington, D.C. to Southbend, Indiana for one night and then fly to Africa. It didnt make sense in my mind, but when I received the invitation, I felt in my heart that I was supposed to go.
So, I arranged to attend the birthday party. Boy, did it ever cost a great deal of money! I mean, nobody sent the airline ticket; however, no matter the cost, I knew that I was supposed to go. Its just something about faith. There is an expression in India that says, "In order to get the pigeons to come, you have to throw out the seed." Some people may say, "When the pigeons come, then Ill throw out the seed." The pigeons will never come. If God told you to do something, youd better start moving in that way and then Gods provision will come as you move.
I knew I was supposed to go, so I spent the money and did what I had to do to get the airline ticket. It probably cost $1,000 for the ticket because of my tight schedule. It was a sacrifice because I didnt have one thousand extra dollars sitting around. I "threw out the seed."
In the process of the birthday celebration, they taped a television program. I was asked me to be a guest along with several other ministers. On this television program, Lester Sumrall asked me, "So, what is going on in West Africa?" I ended up on television telling millions of people about the revival in West Africa. Hallelujah! I said, "We have also been given one million textbooks worth ten to fifteen million dollars for the English-speaking countries of West Africa."
Bro. Sumrall asked, "How many books?"
He said, "Thats good."
After the television program and another meeting, he handed me an envelope. He said, "Here, I dont want your airplane to run out of gas going back to Africa." Inside the envelope was a check for one thousand dollars. Then he said, "Oh, by the way, I think were going to have our ship carry those books over to Africa" (and they did).
Isnt that a wonderful testimony? Isnt it wonderful how the gifts of the Spirit were in operation and manifestation? Guess what? I wasnt even in the pulpit. It wasnt tongues and interpretation. Nobody even got to see me be used like that. Meeting peoples needs. Following after love. Purposing what God purposes. Flowing with the objectives of the Holy Spirit. When you get your heart and your life in tune with that, God will let you speak to presidents. God will have you speak to all sorts of people in various positions, countries, and places. God will let you be used in a wonderful way. It isnt difficult. It is a matter of the attitude of your heart.
Following after love. Meeting peoples needs. Let me continue the story about the Bibles for West Africa from a Bible society. We received one container of French and another of English. It was an enormous amount of Bibles. We now had curriculum, Bibles, and teachers. For you see, we had been given approval to teach Religious Education in the entire public school system in Monrovia, Liberia. We were ready to go.
However, one man did not like us. In fact, he despised us. His name was Reverend Barkley. He was the third highest ranking official in the Ministry of Education. Reverend Barkley was over the Religious Education Program for the entire Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS).
Week after week after week, he blocked us from entering the schools. He would not let us into the schools. One day during a time of prayer, God dropped something in my heart. I changed my prayer. I said, "God change him or remove him." That became my confession: "Change the man or remove him." Now, I didnt say to kill him. I said, "Remove him. Transfer him to China. I dont care where, but change him or remove him."
Within a matter of weeks, I went back to his office. Normally, he was very rude to me. However, this time he greeted me with a smile when I walked into his office.
He said, "Brother Russ, how are you? Come in!"
I said, "Reverend Barkley, is that you?"
"When are we going to start the program? When are we going to get it going?"
I was amazed. I had to ask, "What happened?"
He said, "Oh man, this is wonderful what I see you people are doing."
I said, "It is?"
He said, "My cousin Sadie is going to the Bible School. He works here in the MCSS office as the personal assistant to the Superintendent. I saw him just a week ago. I know what he was like. I know how he used to run around. I know how he used to drink. I know how he used to cuss. I know the things he used to do. Now he comes to work, carrying a Bible and preaching to everybody. We call him the preacher! My, my, my.... if that Bible School will change my cousin Sadie, then I know it has to be God!"
He opened up the schools and we started teaching. We were given the opportunity to teach approximately 25,000 to 30,000 children a week with 15,000 to 20,000 children born-again just because of that program. Just think of the celebration well have in heaven. Just think of the impact on the nation. Why did that happen? During a time of prayer God dropped in my spirit how to pray differently; He gave me a Word of Knowledge.
An interesting thing happened several months into the program. A particular denominational religious group which supported six to ten missionaries who were already teaching in the Religious Education Program said, "Listen, Rev. Barkley, you went to our seminary. You are part of our group, and we are supporting you with money. We dont want these people in the schools. Either they get out or we get out. Well pull all of our support from you if they are in the schools." Religious politics can get vicious.
Do you think those words showed how much they loved the children? Do you think those words showed how much they loved meeting the needs of the people? Do you think those words showed how much they loved Liberia? No. Demons of religion were operating within that group. They wanted to protect their turf! "Dont get on my ground! This is my area. These are my people."
Reverend Barkley had to make a decision. He got back to them after much prayer and said, "Then you guys are out." He said to them, "These people [meaning us] are here to help our children, and they are not playing religious politics. They are not playing with our people. They love our children and care about them. They are helping our children." He said, "You need to get out!" He threw them out! They were out of the program! Then, he gave our people an even greater position than we had in the beginning! It has now come to the place that in order for anybody to teach in the Religious Education Program they have to be approved by our office first.
When Our Heart Is Open,
God Will Direct Our Prayers
The important lesson here is that God will show us strategies when our hearts are open. He will direct our prayers. He will give us the words. He will give us what we need. We do not have to manipulate circumstances or situations. When our hearts are submitted to God, the Holy Spirit will always show us the way.
Staying filled with the Spirit keeps the communication open between you and the Lord. When you are in leadership or on the platform, you need to know how to move with the Holy Spirit. If you desire a greater move of God, then you need to know how to keep yourself filled as well as how to keep the people filled.
We have discussed incorporating the congregation into the service with praise and worship, prayer, and praying in tongues. Getting the people involved is a key factor to staying filled. Always remember that it is not MY service, it is GODS service. Humility of heart develops sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
Praying in the spirit, praising God, magnifying Jesus, and thanking Him for all that He has done sensitizes and sharpens your spirit. Fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit opens your heart to hear the voice of God. It goes back to the domino or chain effect. With each step you successfully take, another one is added.
Many things come out of your obedience to the Holy Spirit. I was in Monrovia, Liberia when a local church was moving to a new location. They were moving from one building to another building. It was a reason for celebration, and I was one of many preachers asked to be there.
At one point, the preachers were called up front and asked to pray for the people. One particular woman wanted to receive prayer, and she chose me because she thought I looked calm and subdued. I prayed for one person then the next person, and as soon as I got to her, I heard these words in my hear: "spirit of fear." I didnt hear it in my head, but in my heart. It was a Word of Knowledge and Discerning of Spirits. There was a spirit of fear upon her.
As I reached out to put my hands on her, I said, "In the name of Jesus, I break the power of the devil, and I rebuke the spirit of fear from her life! In Jesus name be gone!" Down she went. She fell before I had the opportunity to lay my hands on her, and there wasnt anyone behind her to catch her. The ladies she was with came over and said, "Brother Russ, why did you push her down?" I said, "I didnt even touch her!" They picked her up and sat her down on a chair. As I took a step away, a voice inside my spirit said, "Go back and pray for her again." So, I walked over to her and said, "Sister, I dont understand this, but God told me to pray for you again." As I laid my hand upon the side of her head, she slid out of the chair and onto the floor.
I just went back to the lines and kept praying for people. The gifts of the Spirit were manifesting because God wanted to demonstrate Himself especially to her. He wanted to take away her fear, take away her anxiety, take away her apprehension, and take away her vain imaginations.
God wants to use us that easily and that simply. However, Ive never had a person slip out of a chair like that since. I told you about the time I was praying, "Have your own way, Holy Spirit." Ive never had it happen like that since. I told you about the time the Holy Spirit blew in audibly. Ive never had it happen like that since. I told you about the time the Holy Spirit came on me while in a church service, I prayed for the lady in the wheelchair, and she walked. Ive never had it happen like that since.
It is up to the Holy Spirit, not me. He causes it. I dont cause it. I dont make it happen. I simply choose to flow with Him and let Him have His way.
Choose today to flow with the Holy Spirit. It may take you making some changes, but it will be worth it. Remember, His thoughts and His ways are higher than your own.