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 praying 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 believers 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. “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 go 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 something tangible for God. I wanted something people could see. How important I thought those buildings 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.