Posts Tagged ‘The Kingdom of God’

GOVERNMENT OF GOD – Remarkable Miracles

April 9, 2009

In the last chapter I recommended that you read the book Remarkable Miracles by G.C. Bevington. He was a Holiness preacher out of Wesleyanism. He preached holiness and sanctification. But I’m not sharing it with you on the basis of that particular theology he is coming from. Here is a man, who as a young boy discovered what was required to hear God. He learned that the greater portion of prayer is hearing not speaking. And he often would not get up for hours or even days until he heard. And what came out of that hearing was “Remarkable Miracles.” And he’s just sharing his life experience.

I hope you discover two things in this book: the role of the kingdom, the reign of God in Bevington’s preaching because our Lord Jesus has promised that whenever this gospel is preached, signs and wonders will follow. He wasn’t a Pentecostal, he wasn’t a Charismatic, he was a Christian. You’ll see that he talks that way.

You do not see him mentioning his church. He was a “Kingdom” kid – the kingdom was everything. I want you to see the kingdom here. With his preaching, with his view of the reign of God, I want you to see the role of prayer, the role of intimacy. If in the end you come out of this with three new doctrines, one on the kingdom, one on discipleship, one on this other life, you would have lost. My intent is, in the giving of all that you are and all that you’ve been entrusted with to the King and His kingdom that you end up with Him and He ends up with you in an intimate relationship. And Remarkable Miracles talks about that relationship. I encourage you to read it.

John’s Remarkable Miracle –

Along with the theme of Bevington’s book, I want to tell you about an experience I had back in the late 70s right after I had read Remarkable Miracles for the first time. In this book, Bevington explains that whenever he got down, he waited until he heard. And you find him in a hay stack in the middle of winter and the Lord would come and tell him where to go. He would show Bevington the roads and the turns because there were not many road signs in those days. He would go miles and cross states to see a man and already have his name. He got on a train one time and ended up in West Virginia from Ohio. He got off the train and there was another man who lived a somewhat similar life who was waiting on Bevington when he got off the train because he had seen him in a dream. This is the kind of life that Bevington lived.

I had never experienced those kinds of things. I had never experienced precise kinds of stuff in prayer that were in the book. I was living in Watseka, Illinois and had been invited to Kankakee, Illinois to teach in a little home church meeting. In this house there were probably about sixty people in an old house that had a living room and the living room overflowed into the dining room. The people filled both rooms.

I had never met these people before and in the back of my mind was Bevington’s book. I was praying that I would know the Lord that way and hear Him speak and have Him direct me specifically.

So, I’m sitting in a chair up in front of the room. The brother with me was leading the music. It was his home town and because he knew some of the people there, we got the invitation to come because they had heard about me through him. So we are sitting there and all of a sudden I hear this woman crying. I heard this woman crying in my mind. And it was not a little cry, it was wailing. It was so real that I was looking around the room to see who it was and very quickly I realized that no one was reacting to it. But I heard this wailing in my head. And it just would not stop. I’m trying to think about my message, you know, and before you know it I’m introduced to speak. I’m standing up there and still it’s in my head. I’m praying in my heart, “Lord, what am I to do?”

So I said to the group, “I don’t know what’s going on. I hear some woman who is just in great agony and is wailing.” And as soon as I said that, a lady that I could not see broke out crying and I recognized her voice. She could hardly control herself once she started, so we took a few minutes and some of the women comforted her, and when she was able, she shared what was going on.

She is Charlene Gray and her husband Bob who was an executive with Penn-Central Railroad in Chicago which is just north of Kankakee, had been in a mental hospital for six months. He had not spoken for six months and was almost, like, comatose. You could lead him around but there was no response from him to anything. And she had heard that very afternoon from the hospital that if there was no change in his condition over the weekend, he would be transferred to the incurable ward. They both were in their late forties and had had twin boys just after she turned forty. She owned a flower shop and he worked at Penn-Central. His benefits were running out and she had to sell her flower shop to pay bills. She was desperate; just desperate.

So, all I could think of at that moment was Bevington and how, when a situation like this would come along, he would just get on his knees and say, “Lord, what is going on here? What’s happening here?” And he would hear and go and there would be healing, restoration, freedom, whatever. And so I tell this little story about Bevington to the group there and suggest that we get down on our knees to pray for Charlene and Bob and look to the Lord to speak to us.

You need to know that I’m a guest speaker in this home. They’ve never met me before. They’ve never heard me teach before. So, they’re looking at me kind of funny but I get down on my knees where I was and they slowly began to kneel where they were. I had this feeble little prayer and a few others prayed. We are down, I suppose, about five minutes. People are getting restless; some are getting back up on their chairs. I’m saying to myself, “O God, what have I done?” I said, “Lord, won’t you speak.” And finally I get up and shared this miserable little message. I’m defeated. I go back home just miserable.

This is Saturday night and I’m preaching Sunday morning. I don’t do well Sunday morning either. Sunday night comes and I can’t sleep. I get out of bed and go down to my living room. I got down on the floor and said, “Lord, I’m not getting up until I hear.” So an hour passes and I pray everything I can think, of to pray. Two hours pass, then three. I’m waiting to hear and I’m determined to wait it through. I’m determined I’m going to stay there until I hear. So it’s the wee hours of the morning and I’m out of things to say. I haven’t said anything in a while and I didn’t recognize it at the time but it was what Bevington called “getting quiet.”

I realized I was out of thoughts. And just out of my mouth comes this statement: I said, “Lord, if You would heal Bob Gray, I will praise You as you deserve.” And then this thought came to me that I just knew was not my thought. “You never did before.”

And I knew instantly that I’d pray for something for six months or nine months with little 30 second prayers, 10 second prayers, two minute prayers; and it would come to pass that I’d thank Him in 10 seconds, or 15 seconds and go on.

And so, I spent another hour asking, “Lord, what does it mean to praise You as You deserve?” I realized that He needs to get the honor for the act. He works to show Himself strong that men might get to know Him. You’ll find that all through the Old Testament. He speaks it, “It’s not for your sake that I do these things, it’s for My name’s sake.”

So I end up making this list of those that I’m going to give Him honor and praise His name. And on the top of the list are Charlene Gray and the elders in that little house church that I’d done so miserably with.

After I had made the list I felt pretty good about it. Then the next words that came out of my mouth, sort of like a prayer, were, “Why won’t You heal Bob?” And immediately the thought came back, “I’m interested in more than his healing.”

Now what would you think if you hear that? He’s not saved, is he Lord? I knew instantly he’s not saved. And so I spend the next little while preparing in my heart this outline of how I am going to share the gospel with Bob Gray as soon as I hear that he is healed. I said, “Lord, as soon as I hear he is healed, I will go and share the gospel.” Well, it’s about 4:30 in the morning and the very next thought that comes is, “What are you doing this morning?”

Now, what would that say to you? It would say, He’s healed, wouldn’t it? Well, that’s what I thought it said. And I wrestled the next hour over, “What if he isn’t?” “What will I do if I call all these people praising God for Bob’s healing, go there and he’s not healed?” But I finally realized that the only way to know is to go.

And that’s when I learned another thing that Bevington points out in his book, it’s as important to know what voice is not God’s as to know what voice is His.

So I said, “Lord, I’m going.” Now, it’s 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning. Kankakee, Illinois is an hour earlier but I have already said to the Lord, “The minute I know he is healed, I’m going to begin praising You.” So, at this early hour of the morning I call Charlene Gray and I said, “This is John Brown.”

“Who?”

“John Brown who was at the house meeting.”

“The house meeting on Saturday night?”

“Yes…” I knew what was going through her mind: “That John Brown?”

And I said, “Charlene, the Lord has just spoken to me and said that Bob is healed.” And there was dead silence. And I said, “….and he’s not saved.”

And she said, “No…., he’s not.”

And I said, “I’ve promised the Lord that as soon as Bob is healed I would go to the hospital on the south side of Chicago to share the gospel with him.”

She then said, “You can’t get in. I can only see him once a month and they are supposed to be transferring him this morning.”

And I said, “If the Lord has spoken, I believe He’ll get me in because I’ve promised Him.” Then I shared the whole story with her.

She’s not convinced but she promises me that she will call the hospital. So she hangs up and I get on the phone with the elders of that fellowship in Kankakee, Illinois. I shared the story with each of them and finally got two of them to agree to go with me to Chicago. I am about an hour and a half from Kankakee and then it’s another hour to Chicago. They agree to take off that morning and go with me. So after I pick them up, all the way to the hospital they keep asking me, “How do you know it was God? What if it was not God? Why did you call Charlene?”

But I had promised God that I would do this. And I am thinking, “Do I have faith? No! No! I was just learning faith.”

We get to the hospital and go to the front desk and I said, “I’m John Brown from….”

“Oh, yes, Reverend Brown. You’re the reverend who believes that Mr. Gray is healed. The doctor wants to see you.”

Everyone there in that area is watching me because they have all heard about why we were there. The elders with me were about two paces behind me.

The doctor comes out and says, “So you’re the reverend who believes that Bob Gray is healed. Well, come with me.”

He was not pleased by what I had told Charlene. He leads me to the incurable ward which was behind locked doors. Here was a person walking around with no clothes on and another beating their head against the padded wall. It was horrible.

The doctor leads us into what looks like a little counseling room with a small table and a couple of chairs. The man sitting in one of the chairs was Bob Gray. He was dressed in a suit that looked slept in and it was baggy on him because he had lost lots of weight. He does not seem to recognize our coming into the room either. The doctor says, “Here is your Mr. Bob Gray who you believe is healed. Just call me when you are through.”

Bob Gray looked so pitiful and my heart went out to him as he sat there with his head down staring at nothing. I said in my heart, “Lord, no matter what, I’m going to share the gospel with that man.”

I remember that his eyes were so milky that you could hardly see his pupils. He did not move, he did not look at us and there was no recognition that we were even in the room. The two elders with me were leaning against the wall near the door.

I sat down across from Bob and couldn’t even look at him. I opened my Bible and started reading the Scriptures and relating the gospel message. And as I was delivering my message, without thinking I said, “Bob, do you understand what I am saying?”

What I heard was, “Yes, I do.”

This had obviously startled the two elders because they were desperately trying to get their balance as they stood erect.

Then I led Bob Gray to the Lord.

Within a couple of days he was out of the hospital and about a year after Patti and I moved to Marietta, GA we got a call saying that Bob had been restored to his job.

All this came about because of Bevington’s book. I encourage you to get one and read it. I hope it sets in your heart a fire to know God in that way. There are some things in the book that may be different than what you’ve been taught and what you believe but don’t get tripped up on that. Some of it is good. I just want you to see what Bevington says about the gospel of the kingdom.

Also, you will find in Appendix II an article reproduced there called “Where Will Our Hearts Be Buried” by Bishop David Huskin. It is an account of Doctor David Livingstone, the missionary of the mid eighteen hundreds that pioneered the gospel to the “dark continent” of Africa. When he died after 32 years of service to his Lord, his body was buried with dignity in Great Britain in Westminster Abby, while his heart, having been removed by his servants, was buried where it belonged, under a shade tree in the plains of Africa.

I have included this article because we will look at the passage in the Sermon on the Mount which says that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

THE KEY PARABLE – Death Is Life

February 7, 2009

Paul makes the same point about mysteries in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2. These “mysterious” things, even if you were to try to explain them, are foolishness to the world.

Some of you perhaps are a little bothered by my emphasis on our becoming nothing. Our choosing blindness, our choosing not to hear with our outer ears, and if I were to use another illustration from Matthew 5, our choosing to be poor in spirit, absolutely destitute of any strength of our own. This will certainly seem to be absolutely foolishness to the natural mind. Come on, face it. Isn’t that a bit foolish? I’ll tell you when you’ll face it. You’ll face it when He’s trying to bring you to nothing in some area, and you’re doing everything you can to hang on for dear life. But the one who would save his life in the very area that God is trying to bring death, he’ll lose life. That’s foolishness to the carnal mind. It’s foolishness because the carnal mind cannot understand that they were created in the very beginning for God. And you cannot even function without God, as a normal human being.

Just like you can make a car go; you can push it along; you can hitch a horse to the front end of the car; you can get 10 people behind the car; you can make the car go. But the car was not made to go by pushing or by pulling. The car was made to go by gasoline combustion in the engine. You and I were made for God and until that sinks in in fullness, we will continue to try to save some remnant of our old life. I want to save some reputation. I admit it. I want to have at least some reputation with you. There’s death in that! There’s death in that!

For example, I’ve pastored so I have first hand knowledge that every pastor goes through things like the example that follows: I love the Smiths. I poured my life into the Smiths. My wife and I were with them when their first baby came. We counseled with them when they went through difficult times. I poured my life into them. They loved me too. But another servant of the Lord has come along and he is teaching some things that the Smiths are identifying with. And they really feel like God is calling them to be under this other ministry.

Now what do you think is going on in John Brown’s heart when that happens? Why do you think that we in the church are so territorial? It’s because we don’t want to die. We’ve staked out a claim of our own. We have our own kingdom. And I feel that threat. We are liars if we say that we do not feel that threat. The carnal man is still here. Sin still dwells in the flesh. But it is embracing dying; it is choosing to say, “God reigns. Brother, if God is calling you over there, let me bless you and introduce you to your new pastor. And I’ll pray you’ll find a way to share whatever God is sharing over there with us.” Is it possible they have light we don’t have? Well, why do you think they are going over there? It doesn’t make any difference how much light I have, I don’t have all the light, and I don’t have all the truth. I actually have a very narrow, little bit of the truth.

God’s given me a little narrow portion. I think it’s an important portion. I think it’s a very significant portion, but it’s not everything. It’s only a bit. I’ve come to realize that. That’s why I’m not starting another church. I believe if it’s God in this teaching, the whole church needs to hear it. And I need to be able to hear from my new relationships that which I don’t have. But, it only comes by dying. That’s why Paul goes on to say, “Always carrying about in the body the dying, that the life of Christ Jesus might come forth” (2 Cor. 4:10).

These two are always working in us. If they are not, if they are trying to save their life, trying to preserve the old self, then they have only one working, and it is death. But if you are allowing the old self to come to death, something else is working in you. It’s the life of Another.

Paul saw that. Paul saw that he needed not to impress others with his intellect. “I came to you, not with wise and persuasive words,” but he could have. If there was ever a first century preacher that could have, he’s the man. He chose not to. “I did not come to you with wise and persuasive words that the life of Christ, that the Spirit of God, that your faith might rest on the power of God.” In weakness, in frailty, if you think that Paul or that John Brown is much, then you are wrong because he’s not much, he’s not much at all.

So that if anything comes forth, you know it is God. That’s where He is taking you. You are in trouble now; you know that, don’t you? You may have read or been exposed to all of this before but at least in my menu of it, even if you are reading or experiencing it for the first time, and you are being reminded that you are without excuse. God is choosing for you the death of the old man.

God is choosing to bring to fullness the departure of Adam’s life in you and me. And if you can bear this, that’s all that is holding back the last ticks of the clock, the Bride making herself ready, the church finally believing God, that she is made for Him and only Him. As soon as we believe and set to getting our self ready as a bride for the bridegroom, our coming into full intimacy with Christ, He then sets the clock upon the last seconds of what must take place. And what is it all about? Actually, that is exactly what this book is really all about.

We can’t even choose death on our own. If it were up to me to kill myself, I’d mutilate myself. I’d do as bad a job of killing myself as I do of everything else I do on my own. He did not say, “Kill yourself!” What He said was, “Take up your cross.” He’ll handle the dying bit. And if you’ll let Him handle the dying bit, it will be marked with His mercy and His grace, His everlasting lovingkindness. He’s just asking you to say, “So be it. I will be with you. You make me. I’ll say yes to, ‘Follow Me and I’ll make you.’ Lord, You can cause it to happen.”

And once He sees that happen in the Bride, the Church, once He sees that take place, that she is set to make herself ready, then He will declare that the work is finished and will return in glory. And that’s why that final work is not like what we would like to believe it is. We would like to believe that when we become mighty warriors and overcomers, it would bring the whole world to its knees. But that’s not how it plays out in the Scriptures. It plays out in the Scriptures with the power of the holy people being absolutely pulverized. He brings to an end our own strength, but we would have said, “Do it!” And He will do it by His grace and His lovingkindness.

THE KEY PARABLE – Be All You Can Be

January 29, 2009

We’ve believed in self-sufficiency and we’ve been raised and taught that we are striving in life to become sufficient. Jesus is working to bring us to a total insufficiency. We are working towards adequacy; He is working to bring us to total inadequacy. We are working to become strong; He is working to bring us to total weakness, absolutely incapable of doing anything on our own to where we can legitimately say before others and the Lord, “I can do nothing…”

I can remember when I thought I could do anything and be anything I wanted to be. And if you insist on that, God will give it to you. As He did for Israel with Saul He’ll give you a king head and shoulders over all the others. But if your heart’s toward the Lord and you try to work towards intimacy with Him, He will break everything, and He will bring to naught everything in which you have trusted.

I know many Christians who are going through breakings who are really fighting against God. God is breaking them. And whether you can receive this or not, every situation in your life that comes from the outside, and even those that you cause, God is ordering. He will not allow anything to come to you, even if you deserve it, if your heart is towards Him, and you want to be restored. He will only allow those things to come to you which will accomplish His purposes in your life. And what you and I are going through right now, everything that you are going through, including those things that you like, God has had to give permission for it to go on because you are His children. The enemy cannot touch you or move in your life without permission from the Father (see Job chapters 1, 2 and 3). The devil has to get permission. So, we need to see that it is the work of our Father, bringing us to a place where we can say, “I can do nothing on my own, I can see nothing on my own, I can hear nothing of His, unless He opens my ears, opens my eyes, unless He speaks it or shows it to me.” Am I coming through? Are you seeing the place for this exercise?

Let’s offer up to the Lord an honest heart saying, “Lord, I want to see that which you are trying to show me, and I’m blind to see it unless you open my eyes. I choose to be blind to my own seeing that I might see those things that You would reveal and show to me.”

Father, you’ve said it: our ways are not Your ways; our thoughts are not your thoughts. But Lord, we’re starting to see this; we’re starting to see that You are really bringing us to the place to where You are our life. We thank You for helping us see that we were made for you and that you’ve not intended for us to rely upon our abilities: our abilities to hear, our ability to see, our ability to do. We just, with joy, and with a sincere heart, say to you, Father, “We cannot see unless You show us. And we want to see.” O Father, we want to see what it is that You want to show us. And we want You to increase in our sight, those things that You have already shown us. Lord we want You to add to them everything else that You would add to them in Your time. With a conscious effort Lord, we just are not discarding, Lord, we are just setting aside those things You’ve already shown us so that You can show us more. Help us to not allow the things from the past, even the truths from the past, to get in the way of what You would show us. And, Lord, so that the enemy does not sow fear, I’m asking myself that you would keep these readers from any falsehood or deception or inadequacy of John Brown. Lord, I am asking that they not listen to me. Help them to focus their ears Lord, turn their eyes toward You that You alone would show them, teach them. And I thank you, Heavenly Father, right now, for that which You are going to do with us through this teaching. In the Name of our wonderful Lord Christ Jesus we pray. Amen.