God is doing a secret work in our day. He is raising up a hungry people who are growing more and more dissatisfied with the fleshly, worldly system as it now exists — even in the church.
These God–hungry people are saying among themselves. "This is not it. There is something more. The bigness and the sensationalism of it all has left us empty and dry. We want more. More than entertainment. More than big, showy buildings. More than a shallow celebrity gospel. We want deeper values. We want to see Jesus. We want spotless robes of righteousness. We want to go back to doing things in total dependence on God."
I see it all over the nation today — disillusioned Christians searching for reality. The people in the pew are beginning to fast and pray. They are the ones who now weep between the porch and the altar. And, they are crying out for more depth and more of eternal values from the pulpit. If the minister of their church goes on in some egocentric way, pursuing expensive dreams, they will go out looking for a place where their deepest spiritual needs will be met.
I know it to be a fact that numerous ministers share my own desperate hunger for a deeper work of God in the church and ministry today. There seems to be a secret underground network of men of God who are stripping themselves down, humbling themselves, and getting back into the secret closet of prayer. Recently I have met a number of ministers, of various denominations, who are prayng up to 6 and 8 hours a day. They are fasting. Some of these dear men of God grieve over conditions in the church today. God is revealing to all praying people that a glorious new work of the Spirit is about to break forth. God is going to shake everything that can be shaken. He will tear down the old political, backslidden, ecclesiastical system. He will disown the formal, super–church structure. He will chase out of His presence all who are engaging in self–promoting ministries.
Be honest, saints of God. Are you really satisfied with the religious system today, and especially in your church? Some are. But most are not getting their needs met. I believe we have gotten off the track of true spirituality. The spiritual leanness of so many Christians today is a direct result of getting into the flesh — trying to do kingdom work in our own power, with worldly methods. Our values are becoming perverted.
Shame on us! We are substituting temporal values for eternal ones. We have evangelists and teachers who specialize in telling belieers how much God owes them. Material blessings are magnified, spiritual ones minimized. According to some, it is our right to be rich, successful, and immune to all pain.
These teachers point to themselves as examples of prosperity faith. "Look at me," it is said, "I have proved the promises. I live well. I am never sick. I have no unpaid bills. I drive the best cars. I live in the finest home. It works for me, so believe as I do and you can have what I have."
Beloved, how much of that teaching will stand up before the judgment seat of Christ? There is a growing inner knowledge in me that most of our modern, self–centered teaching is going to be consumed before the flaming eyes of the Son of God.
John, in his vision of the Son of God, saw an awesome sight.
"…his head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire…" (Rev. 1:14).
John goes on to say, "…I fell at his feet as dead…" (v. 17).
Will any of us, as teachers and evangelists, be able to stand before those piercing eyes of flaming fire? Can any Christian look Him in the eyes? No ego can withstand His gaze. No self–centered dreams can be unexposed. All secret sin will be exposed as a terrible abomination in His sight.
All the things we have accumulated will burn. All the great works we have done for Him, with such zeal and sweat — will they also burn?
How important is what you are doing to God's kingdom? God can give you the desire of your heart, but send leanness to your soul. God assisted Israel in their desire to have a king. but He later disciplined them for their selfish motives.
Are you in some kind of competitive race? Are you doing things for God just to keep up with others? In eternity, looking back — how really necessary will it all be then?
Children of God, what is the good of what you and I are doing? Do we have motives based on eternal values? If we truly believe the end of all things is upon us, what should we be doing about purging our values? What is it going to take to wake us up and get us out of the drift toward ease and comfort?
I confess to you that it has taken years for me to live only for eternal values. I grieve when I think back of the time and money I wasted trying to build somethng tangible for God. I wanted something people could see. How important I thought those buldings were to God's kingdom. I convinced myself, "God deserves the best." He does — but not in bricks, mortar, and steel. He deserves the best of our time and yieldedness. Thank God for the day the Spirit revealed to me how shallow my values were. I spent 20 years planning programs, building buildings, running all over the world trying to show God how important to His kingdom I was. All the while my reputation grew as a minister of faith and vision. Yet, after each new project, I felt a letdown. No sooner was one building finished, and I was already planning another. I was an idea–man for God. I had more ideas than any preacher in America. Ideas on how to evangelize. How to organize New Testament programs. The programs and ideas were successful enough to entrap me and keep me on the treadmill of busy–ness.
But all along my heart yearned for more. I knew the blessing was not in building. Not in some well–planned scheme to reach the lost. Not in bigness, and not in activity. I discovered the hard way, that the glory of God, the peace and joy of the Spirit, was in being stripped down, emptied, and made totally weak. God had to expose all my values. He turned His flaming eyes on my soul and showed me I had better reject my old way of doing things, or be lost in a maze of self–imposed activity.
Now, my greatest joy is waiting upon Him for direction. I have made time to be alone with Him, and have prepared my soul to abide in His quiet presence. He is letting me sense what the Spirit is saying to this generation. The more He empties me, the more He fills me with a desire to depend only on Him for everything. I see now that all along the Lord was waiting for me to lay down all my plans, all my ambitions, and be given over to Him as a bondslave. The sweat is now gone — the pressure is off. He is recreating all my values.
What will happen when God begins to shake everything that can be shaken? When all false values tumble and earthly dreams and plans lose their meaning? Sadly, many of God's children are going to end up bewildered and confused. As the world moves into the era of economic collapse — when persecution falls even upon civilized nations — when governments are convulsing and tottering on the brink of total collapse — how many Christians will survive the test?
A lot of God's people are going to wonder where they are. Ministers who are caught up in the trap of human vision will leave the ministry confused, all their work to no avail. Multitudes will be asking, "What's it all about? What's happening? What does the future hold? Where are we? Who can tell us the mind of God?"
We are not moving swiftly into what we know as the end time.We had better be in possession of a heavenly vision of holiness and humility. The testing time is coming down upon us with lightning speed. It is going to take more than a doctrine or a particular teaching to see us through. We are going to have to really know the Lord in His fullness. We had better have our eyes on eternal values. Only spiritual things are going to remain. Only spiritual people will understand what is happening and not faint. We must be linked up with the mind of the Spirit so we will not be thrown by the radical thanges that are coming. We must bring ourselves to the place we have nothing to lose. We need to walk away from all the junk in our lives — we are going to lose it all anyhow.
How much of God do you possess in this final hour of disintegration and fear? How earthly are you? How transitory are your desires? Have your values been sifted and purged by the Spirit of almighty God? How much of the world interests you — how much time is consumed in chasing after things that don't matter now?
You will know when the Spirit is calling you out of the shallow Christianity about you. You will know when the Lord is wanting to touch you in a supernatural way. You will know when He is calling you out of the ordinary. He will stir your nest. An unexplainable divine restlessness will come upon you. You will become disinterested in what you have been doing. All your successes will leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled. Nothing that you have or do will meet the need in you for reality. You will sense that a very deep need in you has not yet been met — questions that have never been answered. A shadow of dissatisfaction will be cast over your entire life.
That is a mark of God's dealing with you in a supernatural way, trying to get you to turn loose of all that you hold dear. It is His way of showing you that your needs are really spiritual and not physical.
Saints, the key word is hunger. He has promised to fill the hungry heart. I have never been so hungry for God. That hunger almost overwhelms me at times. Every waking hour my heart reaches out to Him. Because His thoughts are always on my mind, the things of the world have lost their value. I see material things as Paul did — nothing but the dung of this world. I am becoming a nobody — and it feels so good.
Do you also sense this call to a deeper walk with God? Is your soul hungry for more of the Spirit in your life? If so, end the civil war in you by yielding everything you have to the Master. The misery goes the very moment you surrender all to Him. You can know true peace and happiness the moment you quit trying to be sombody. Want nothing but Jesus, and your life will take on a new meaning.
My greatest grief is that it took so long for me to get out of God's way. I wasted years doing things simply out of compassion. I was spiritually blind, not knowing that God must clearly direct every step I take. I had an international pulpit — preaching to thousands — with crowded altars. Thank God He showed me there was much more. The numbers and the crowds meant nothing. I wanted to see people get deeper into the Lord. I wanted nothing more to do with shallow decisions. God had to totally change my way of thinking, and now, like Gideon, I know that big is not always best.
Don't let it happen to you. Take stock of your life and values. Shut yourself up with God alone in the secret closet. Pray diligently for spiritual hunger. Ask God to give you a spirit of sorrow for wasting so much time. Pray for a greater desire for His Word. Pray for a broken heart. Pray for a purging and a purifying work in your life. Then get ready to be cast into the fire of testing.
"…I will purge the sons of Levi…" (Malachi 3:3).
I can tell you it's worth it! The purging will not seem joyous but rather grievous. But you will soon glorify the Lord for the results in your life. All the anxiety will be gone. All worldly ambition will die. Your spiritual eyes will be opened to truth. The Spirit will give you revelation knowledge. You will exchange the riches of this world for the true riches in Christ Jesus. You will wake up each morning with an overflowing joy. Your soul will cry out — "I found what my soul has been longing for. Rest — beautiful rest in my Lord."
You can say with David, the Psalmist — "In his presence is fulness of joy; at his right hand there are pleasures forevermore…" (Psalm 16:11).
* "…for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ…So then everyone of us shall give an account of himself to God…" (Romans 14:10–12).
* "…the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer…" (1 Peter 4:7).
* "…The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light…" (Romans 13:12).
* "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire…" (1 Corinthians 3:11–15).