Being thankful and staying hungry for God leads to spiritual health and passion
Several years ago, I was in an all-day prayer meeting that was sure to leave a mark on my life. While there, I met Mike Servello, a pastor from Utica, N.Y. We had corresponded through email, but we had never met in person.
While the worship team was playing, Mike leaned over to me and said, “God is looking for a city that would belong entirely to Him. And once He gets that one city, it will cause a domino effect across our nation.” I told him I believed my city, Redding, Calif., was that city. He said he believed Utica was. In print, it may look like a competition. It wasn’t. It was two pastors expressing their faith for the big picture.
A little while later, I was in a different part of the sanctuary. Standing next to me was a friend and prophetic lady named Jean Krisle Blasi. She turned to me saying, “God is looking for a city that would belong entirely to Him. And once He gets that one city, it will cause a domino effect across our nation.” I was stunned. It was word-for-word what Mike had declared maybe 30 minutes earlier. Before I could mention my convictions for my city, she said, “And I believe Redding is that city.”
It’s not about one city being better than another. It’s about fully utilizing the resources that God has made available to each of us to complete our assignment well. We are not in a race against each other. We are in a race against time.
Creating an Atmosphere of Faith
The best way to create an atmosphere of faith is to start with an overwhelming awareness of need and realize the impossibility of our
assignment from God. Often we get caught up with what is possible through human effort. We build our buildings and pay for great programs. While those things are good, it is tragic when they become the high point of our celebration of the Christian achievement.
In doing so, we’re no different from one of the many good service clubs in our communities. We are responsible to live in such a way that the gospel that Jesus lived, preached and
demonstrated will once again take center stage in world affairs. The impossible invites the faith-full to come and conquer.
Our dear friend, Heidi Baker of Iris Ministries, is known for her passion to stop for the one as she puts it. We must not get so focused on big numbers that we forget the individual. Yet we must also recognize that God’s heart is for the transformation of cities and nations. Being overwhelmed with the task at hand should take us quickly to the end of our resources—which is the beginning of His.
Faith is the primary tool used to access and release all that He has made available. This is no small matter. Jesus said the Father had given Him everything as an inheritance. It is the Holy Spirit that transfers everything to our account through declarations (John 16:14-16). Every time He speaks, there is a deposit made into our account enabling us to complete our commission.
Since God is not a God of waste, why would He give us all things? Because the size of our assignment is that big. We’ll need to learn how to utilize all things that God has given to us to succeed at this one. His gifts are not casual or unintentional.
A Desire for the Impossible
It is said that when a kernel of corn is planted in the ground, every kernel on the ear of corn that grows has the exact same DNA of the one that was planted. Jesus became the ultimate seed that was planted in death. We were born again by the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead. Every born-again believer has the DNA of Christ. That is amazing.
But this DNA must be practical in that it gives us permission to dream the dreams of God. It is not about the significance of our gift and calling, human talent or even our faith. It’s about the significance of the
investment Jesus made to redeem people unto something. And that unto something is the accurate and full
representation of who Jesus is on earth as in heaven. This is not a pipe dream. It is part of the eternal purpose for humanity.
I wish we would know how born again we actually are. One of the things that becomes evident in the life of the believer is the appetite for the impossible. It is normal for a believer to have faith. This subject has become so complicated that many don’t even think it’s practical for them to really live a life of faith. It is. It is as much a part of our DNA as it was for Jesus.
In fact, the only way a Christian will not have a desire for the impossible to bow to the name of Jesus through their lips is that they have had bad teaching that deadens their heart to that reality or they’ve experienced disappointment that doesn’t get resolved redemptively. I believe the latter has had far more lasting effect on people than bad teaching, as destructive as that is. People with bad doctrine are always one experience away from a transformed view of life. Disappointment is a cancer that grows until it takes the life of its host.
There are many great men and women of God with bad teaching on this subject. Strangely, much of it comes from a passion for the Scriptures. But it exists without the tension of an equal passion for the Holy Spirit, who inspired the Scriptures.
Compassion is Bold
For compassion to be biblical, it has to take us into boldness. If it doesn’t, then what we are feeling is probably closer to sympathy—compassion’s counterfeit. Sympathy acknowledges the existence of a problem, but
cannot offer answers or solutions. With it we show people we care, but we become more inclined to help people with coping skills rather than bring deliverance.
Jesus didn’t train seeing-eye dogs for the blind or build crutches for the lame. Compassion led Him into a breakthrough. Every single time Jesus was moved with compassion, the end result was a miracle. Compassion has a focus and an anchor in the nature of God and His purposes for humanity.
Frequently I have people ask me, “What do we do if we pray for someone and they are not healed?” I want everyone healed, but quite honestly, not everyone I pray for gets healed. The thing to remember is that the lack is never on God’s end of the equation. We have to make sure that we don’t make people in need of a miracle a project. These people are not to become a notch to put on the back of our Bibles once they are healed. They are individuals that must know the love of God. That is our privilege—to make sure they know God’s love by how we demonstrate compassion for them in their difficulty. This compassion must become practical as I learn how to pursue the manifestation of a miracle in their lives.
Be Thankful, Stay Hungry
Faith pursues. The nature of faith is reflective of God’s nature. Part of the definition of faith is He is a rewarder. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). It is not good enough that I believe God exists or can even do the miracle I need. The devils believe that. Faith lives out of the revelation of God’s nature: the rewarder of the pursuer.
There are two main attitudes that must be maintained as we pursue the miracle lifestyle that Jesus assigned to us. The first is thankfulness. I believe this is one of the most underrated expressions in life. It is vital that we offer sacrifices of thanksgiving to God for what we have seen and participated in. This attitude alone will help people who taste of success to remain humble. Thanksgiving is an expression of true humility as it identifies God as the source for all that is good.
The second need is hunger. I must maintain a hunger for the more that God has promised. I am the most dangerous to myself, and to the movement I represent, when I take on the attitude of the expert. Sadly, by embracing that attitude I have chosen where to level off in my growth. What I know can keep me from what I need to know if I don’t remain a novice. It’s the childlike approach to this lifestyle that will keep us honest, humble and continually growing.
Cultivating these two areas of the heart will help to maintain spiritual health that will affect every area of life. Be thankful. Stay hungry.
Bill Johnson is the senior pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif. This article is adapted from his latest book, The Essential Guide to Healing: Equipping All Christians to Pray for the Sick (Chosen Books), co-authored by Randy Clark.