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Intercession is powerful and effective. We can certainly take ground for God's kingdom through our prayer and intercession. Sometimes it's a war out there, isn't it? The enemy doesn't want to give up the ground that we are taking for God's kingdom. We are like an army invading their territory. It's not that we take them by surprise. They can see us coming even before we get there and they know what our agenda is. It is more of a case that they can't do anything about it. But they try to stop it.
It's very important for us to realize that every time we establish a beachhead, we have to support that thing in prayer. If you are involved in a prayer project to take some ground for God's kingdom, you are not done as soon as the ground is taken. You need to hold that ground. You need to keep it on your mind and pray for that for the next 40 days. Just continue to pray for it and lift it up to the Lord and cover it. Because when the marines come and establish a beach head, they don't say, "Now that was good. Let's just go back to Hawaii and drink coffee and sip on cokes." They don't do that. They don't take a break as soon as they win the territory. Instead they establish it, they fortify it, the sustain it and they keep on moving. And we have to realize that the church is an army. Whenever we establish a beachhead, we have got to go on and take the ground. And we must support that in prayer.
What do you find? One of the things you find is Elijah. He has this awesome encounter with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. They spend all day with this thing. We see the prophets of Baal are trying to get their god to do something, and nothing was happening. They were cutting themselves and doing everything to try and get their god to do something. And he wasn't doing anything. And Elijah was sitting back and watching. I can see him yawning and saying "Are we going to do this all day?" And finally he said, "Ok, let me show you how this is done."
Then he stacks up the wood and he pours on the water and he prays. And fire comes down from heaven and consumes the offering. And the prophets of Baal start running. The people catch them. They kill them. It was a triumph for God, right? Well, what happened next? Queen Jezebel comes tromping after Elijah and says, "I'm going to get you!" And he starts running from her.
See the pattern here? Attack - counter attack. We see it over and over.
Come to the new testament. Look at the book of Acts, chapter 3. This lame man was healed. Peter preached the gospel. And what happened is that at least 5,000 goats became sheep. And that is not including the women and the kids. It's like there were the goats and the sheep.. and the goats became sheep... when ever you loose 5,000 of your church members in one day, you get a little upset. And this is what happened.
Now let me just read you a few of these things that showed the religious leader's reaction. This is in Acts chapter 4, verses 1 to 3:
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. (NIV)Then the story goes on of how they had an encounter with the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Then, at the end of this, they wanted to do something to them. At it says, "Now the counsel then threatened them further. But they finally let them go, because they didn't know how to punish them without starting a riot, for everyone was praising God." (Acts 4:17, 21 NLT)
Well, they finally let them go. And then when they got back with their group, it says this. They begin praying, "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus." (Acts 4:29-30 NIV).
And so whenever there was an attack, there was a counter-attack. These guys didn't let up. They said, "Let's go on further. Let's establish this thing even further." They were threatened and told, "Don't do this thing. No longer preach in the name of Jesus." They didn't say "Oh Lord, how can we do this now, since they told us not to?" They didn't do that. They said, "We're going to go further. We are going to press in further. And we are going to proclaim the gospel." And then there was another reaction and there was another counter attack. Eventually we find that they were putting them in jail, and beating them. And then they stoned Stephen. But the gospel was advancing and advancing and advancing. And there was another counter attack, but it continued advancing. And that is what it is about: advancing the gospel.
Every time there is a move of the spirit, I understand that the enemy is right in there to try to stop it, to try to throw water on it, to kill it. But God's grace prevails and He gives us whatever we need to overcome. It is just a principle.
So what I do is that since I realize that there is going to be the counter attack to extinguish the fire of God, I look for it. Now, it is not like I am paranoid or anything. It is just that I am aware of the schemes of darkness. The scripture says "Do not be ignorant of his schemes" (2 Cor 2:11). So I am aware of this. Whenever I begin to see this rising up, I recognize what that is. And immediately that is where I begin focusing my prayer. I begin focusing my attention on it.
But I realize this. A lot of the work that the enemy does to try to throw out the fire of God doesn't require a lot of work on his part. Because a lot of it, we do ourselves. We simply become pawns in his hands because there is so much stuff within us and around us that do enough to put out the fire of God.
Unfortunately, the biggest resistance to a move of God does not come from enemy resistance. Often the biggest resistance to God's move comes from the hearts of God's people. We can become aware of enemy strategies and combat them in prayer. But we are often unaware of the strategies of our own hearts, of our own flesh and of our own mind and spirit. So what I'd like to do over the next few weeks is to look at four types of hearts and which type of heart we need to have to substain a move of God. And then I will talk about how to get from where we are to where we need to be to cooperate with God, advance His kingdom and maintain the move of God that He desires to start in our midst.