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In our last lesson, we examined the strategies of the enemy to resist a move of God. We noticed that Satan never quits, he never gives up. It is not enough to take ground from the enemy in prayer, we must maintain it in prayer once we have taken it. Using military terms, we don't just take the beach and return back to homebase. Instead, we establish a beachhead and then we begin to advance. We discussed these principles in detail. And then we mentioned that the biggest foe in maintaining a move of God is not Satanic activity and counterattacks. It is not spiritual warfare. The biggest resistance to a move of God often comes from our own hearts and attitudes and priorities.
That is what I want to address in these next lessons. Not the attacks from outside, but the attacks from within and specifically from within you. Whenever the fire of God comes, do you have what it takes to sustain that fire? Do you have what it takes to stay with it, to hang in there, and to sustain it? If the statistics hold true in the Word, about 25% of us will be able to hang on to the fire. Twenty five per cent of us will be able to have the kind of conditions in our life that are conducive to His fire staying and being sustained.
I know that many of us have been experiencing the fire of the Lord lately in our own heart and in our own soul. The question is are you going to be able to sustain that? I want to look at the parable of the sower and the seed in Matthew 13.
In this parable, it speaks about the person who is able to receive the word of the Lord. The person who is able to receive the message of God. This is a principle that describes four different kinds of hearts. It descries how one is going to react when encountering the presence of God. Whenever you encounter Him, we're going to react one of four different ways.
Let's read the story from Matthew, chapter 13. "Jesus spoke many things to them in parables saying, 'Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. And the others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.'"
And then Jesus explains that parable later on in verse 18. "Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road."
"And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away."
"And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful."
"And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundred fold, some sixty, and some thirty."
I believe this is the picture of the kinds of hearts that receive the kingdom and receive the glory of the presence of the Lord. These are also four different kinds of reactions we have whenever we encounter the presence and the power of God. Our ability to sustain the move of God, the power of God, and the fire of God will depend on whether you are the fourth one and have the good soil.
The first heart I would call a closed heart. A closed heart because these are a people that have a hard soil. They cannot receive. This is one where the path was hard and because of that it had been downtrodden quite a bit. The seeds could not penetrate. Therefore, the birds could easily come and pluck up the seeds. The kingdom of darkness is just ready to pluck it up when there is a hardness that is there.
Why would a person have a closed heart? There are several reasons. One is that they are just too tired to go on. See what happens is that the move of God comes and they look at this move and go, "Now, this looks like a lot of work to me. This is going to take a lot of time. I don't know. I don't know if I'm ready for this. It's going to require too much from me. I'm already worn out. I'm ready to relax. I'm ready to give up this church stuff." They approach it like they do retirement. "I'm going to work hard and then relax and retire. Pass it on to somebody else." It's like this. The person is ready for the luxury cruise and all of a sudden this battleship shows up. The person says, "I didn't sign up for that one." So when the fire of God comes, they close their heart and miss God.
There could be another reason in that they realize if they get too close to this move of God, it is going to mess with their status quo. Any move of God is going to mess with your status quo. Your ability to just continue doing the same old thing. It's going to mess with their religion, religiosity, and lifestyle. There is going to be some things in your lifestyle that you are going to have to give up. Anytime God moves, He is going to mess with you. That is not a threat, it is a promise. Anytime you experience a move of God, He is going to be messing with you. This is because He wants to work within your heart, to transform it to be more like Jesus. He will cause the things that are not right to rise up and be exposed. He will cause attitudes that you wish were not there to raise to the surface so that you can begin to cooperate with Him in changing them. Transformation sounds glorious in theory, but in practice it is painful and it is messy. God loves you too much to leave you where you are. He is going to work His transformation in your heart, and that will be messy for a period.
Another reason that people will have a closed heart is because God will not move in the way they think. It simply doesn't fit their perception. What this move is doesn't measure up to my perception of what God should do. Scripture says this. In John 3, Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus. "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sounds, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit" The Spirit is going to move. We cannot contain Him. We like to put God in this nice little box with certain perimeters and when He comes, He will look like this. He will look nice and neat and proper.
Isn't that what the Pharisees did with Jesus? I mean Jesus came and they said, "Well, I know what the Messiah is supposed to look like and You're not it. You are not the Messiah." Jesus did not meet any of their criteria. He didn't fit their perception. What happens is that God comes and He shows up and begins to do things, and we go, "Hey, He wasn't supposed to do it like that. Surely, this cannot be God." So we close our heart.
It might be a good time to stop and examine your heart. Are there areas of it that you have been closing off to God? Are there things that God wants to reach in, expose and heal that you want to keep pushed down and hidden? Do you find yourself saying "No" to God? "No, God, You can't touch that area. I don't want to go there." Or "No, God that is mine and I am not willing to give it up." Or "No God, I've been in the refiner's fire long enough. I am not willing to stay here any longer." This might be a very good time to decide to stop staying "no." Tell God that you are willing to cooperate with Him and invite Him to heal anything that needs to be healed. Invite Him to change anything that needs to be changed. Invite him to transform anything in you that He desires to transform, so that you can be more like Jesus.
Or are there mindsets that God needs to change? Do you find yourself saying, "That can't be God. He would not do it that way!" Has God been offending you in the ways He chooses to move and advance His kingdom? Is He giving His power and His annointing to new believers? Is God pouring His blessing on those who do not seem to have basic socials skills or know how to "act properly" in church? He is doing things in ways that are counter-intuitive? Well, He has a history of doing that. The Jews were looking for a conquering king, and they were offended by the gentle healer and shepherd. The Pharisees were looking for a great scholar and they were offended by Jesus' simple teachings that ordinary people could understand. The Sadducees were looking for grandure and status, and were offended by someone who looked like a vagabond and did not even have a home of his own. These people were offended and did not receive Jesus when God moved among them through the incarnation.
What about you? Are you expecting God to do things a certain way? Are you closing your heart to the move of God because He operates outside of your expectations? Why not stop right now and invite God to reveal any mindsets to you that might be holding you back. He will show you of you will ask Him, and then you can begin to move forward with God.