The Ananias Anointing

The Scripture indicates that in the middle of his High Priest sanctioned rampage against the early Church, Saul of Tarsus had a supernatural encounter with the resurrected Jesus (Acts 9).  Falling down from the overwhelming force of God’s glory, Saul exclaimed, “Who are you, Lord?” The Lord replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Saul, now blind and infirmed, was taken into the city of Damascus to receive care.

The Lord then came to a man named Ananias in a vision and commanded him to go to Saul of Tarsus and lay hands on him that he might be healed and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Despite the threats Saul had made and his notorious track record of persecuting, arresting, and even affirming the execution of Christians, Ananias, whose name means “to be gracious and to show favor,” honored the call of God and went to Saul because the Lord had great plans for Saul of Tarsus. Jesus called him his chosen instrument to preach to the gentiles and to their kings.

The Ananias type of believer, or the Ananias anointing, is desperately needed in the day we live.  Like Ananias with Saul, they help to restore to God what was previously lost, allow God to use them to bring healing to those that are afflicted, help God’s people get filled with the Holy Spirit, and help raise people up for God’s service and glory. We need more individuals in the body of Christ who, like Ananias, will be dispensers of God’s grace and favor, refusing to pay attention to the anti-supernaturalist and cessationist who deny the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit.

How can you become an Ananias in this critical hour in Church history? First, you must yourself be born again and filled with the Spirit. You cannot impart what you do not possess. Second, you must be tuned in to the realm of the spirit so that you can pick up on the signals of the Holy Spirit’s direction.  Notice Ananias was told to go specifically to the house of Judas in Damascus on Straight Street where he would find a praying Saul who had a vision Ananias would come to him. Third, you must be fearless in the face of the ominous threat and intimidation so prevalent in the world today against Christians.  It’s not that Ananias didn’t feel afraid. He simply refused to be ruled by that emotion. Fourth, you must be obedient and simply go.  It’s amazing how often Jesus uses that simple command.  Finally, you must be deliberate to carry out the details of your assignment, including the who, the what, and the where.

When Ananias placed his hands on Saul he was filled with the Holy Spirit, healed of his blindness, received water baptism, and began to eat and regain his strength. The Lord is in need of bold believers just like Ananias to share the resurrected Jesus with the lost, confused, religious, bound up, and hurting of our world.  He has sovereignly chosen to use people to lead people to salvation, Spirit baptism, deliverance, and healing.  Ask the Lord Jesus to send you, and don’t be surprised when he says, “Go!”

Leaving Lo Debar

lamb-in-the-grass-567099Mephibosheth was the crippled son of David’s covenant friend Jonathan and the grandson of Saul, the disgraced King of Israel.  Following the demise of the house of Saul due to his own rebellion and disobedience, David, a shepherd at heart, sought for a descendent of Jonathan so he could show him covenant kindness on behalf of Jonathan.  Covenant kindness is an intense and burning desire to show someone kindness with overwhelming force and power because of a sacred and irrevocable promise.  The covenant minded man does not rest until he finds a way to express that kindness.

David was told there was a descendent named Mephibosheth living in a place called Lo Debar. Lo Debar was a place literally without a pasture, barren, fruitless, and destitute.  King David ordered that a broken and isolated Mephibosheth be brought back to his house, that the wealth and land of Saul be restored to him, and that he would always eat at the King’s table.  In a single day this lonely, fearful, and forsaken soul went from living in utter desolation in Lo Debar to enjoying the favor of the King and the social, spiritual, and financial restoration that only he could provide.  The name Mephibosheth means “exterminator of shame.”  It’s interesting that God would take this remaining obscure member of the house of Saul and use him to remove the shame from Saul’s family. Just think, you could be the person God uses to remove the shame from your family.

It’s truly amazing just how fast our lives can turn around when we are in right relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  It’s ironic that David, a shepherd by trade, would bring Mephibosheth into his fold and provide him with a rich, lush, and fruitful pasture to live out the rest of his days. Jesus is our good shepherd who promises that through him we can go in and out and find pasture and enjoy an overflowing abundant life (John 10:9-11).  No matter who you are, where you’re from, what your family is like, or what you’ve done, the good shepherd will scoop you up as well and bring you to his pasture where he promises restoration, guidance, protection, provision, favor, and ultimately eternal life (Psalm 23).

So how do we go from Lo Debar to the wonderful pasture God has for us?  First we have to accept the shepherd, the only son of God Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.  The benefits of restoration belong to the children of God.  Membership in the body of Christ does have its privileges.  Second, we need to get back in the fold (a local Bible believing and teaching church) because restoration takes place in the fold.  Too many Christians have bought in to the lie that it’s not necessary to be faithful to a local body.  They suggest they can live out their faith on their own.  The truth is, however, Scripture commands connection to and involvement in the local church so we can grow, experience restoration, and be there to help others as well (Hebrews 10:24-5).  Finally, we need to listen to and apply what the shepherd has to say to us through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word through the under shepherds the Lord raises up to lead, guide, tend, and feed us.  Our barren lives will begin to flourish when through obedience we release the anointing on the Word to bring to pass what was promised. 

The Spirit of Infirmity

crippled woman healed pic“Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise  herself up.  But when Jesus saw her, He called  her  to  Him  and said to her,  ‘Woman, you are loosed from your  infirmity.’ And He laid  His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had  healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and  not on the Sabbath day.’ The Lord then answered him and said, ‘Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead  it  away to water it? So ought not this woman,  being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?’ And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were  done by Him” (Luke 13:10-17, NKJV).

I love to read about the power, wisdom, and compassion of Jesus Christ when it comes up against religious tradition. In this simple story about a woman with a chronic back problem, Jesus forever takes the lid off to reveal who exactly is behind sickness and disease – Satan through the agency of a spirit of infirmity (demonic activity that produces chronic weakness, debilitation, or sickness mentally, emotionally, or physically). For many years, the enemy was able to lay the blame at God’s feet with even some of God’s servants and ministers beating the drum and bearing witness to a wrong conclusion about the nature and origin of sickness. But Jesus makes it plain: “…whom Satan has bound.” Acts 10:38 echoes this vital truth by revealing that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power and went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. The simple truth is that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came that we might have life, to the full, until it overflows (John 10:10).

It’s laughable to think that the synagogue ruler would challenge the people to come on the normal six days of work to be healed instead of the Sabbath. It’s amusing (and sad) because all this time people ought to have received healing ministry during the rest of the week through the synagogue system (healing has always been the will of God and “the Lord that heals us” has always made provision for healing throughout both the Old and New Testaments). The truth is, however, that people started to get healed when Jesus came preaching the message of the blessing and restoration and then backed it up with supernatural power. This is precisely why the Scripture says that the Word of God is made void (robbed of its power) by the traditions of men (Matthew 15:6). This is a classic example of a religious leader twisting Scripture to serve his own agenda and protect his own insecurities. It is unthinkable that his position and prominence was more important than the spiritual welfare and restoration of the people he was charged to lead.

But Jesus takes the issue even further. He chides the rulers because hypocritically they would untie or unbind their animals to make sure they had life-sustaining water on the Sabbath but through their religious tradition impeded human beings – covenant children of God like Abraham who have healing as a benefit of that covenant – from partaking of God’s living water. That same spirit that we see now that demands the whales be saved while espousing the right to terminate unborn children has been in the world since the fall of man. Men, made in God’s image, are made inferior to animals and lands that were made by God for man both to enjoy and to steward.

A vital weapon the enemy uses to keep God’s people bound is ignorance – a lack of knowledge of the heart, nature, will, and power of God. Hosea 4:6 indicates that God’s people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. No more. Jesus has blown the devil’s cover (and religion’s cover). Be encouraged that healing is part of the covenant blessing we share by faith (Galatians 3:13-14) and that, according to Jesus, covenant men and women of God OUGHT to be free from their bonds. Rejoice in the knowledge that there is no chain, no bondage, and no affliction that can stand up to the anointing released through faith in the name of Jesus. For whom the Son sets free is truly, free indeed – as free as Jesus is free (John 8:36).

Be the One

My Aunt Ginger was recently given some terrible news. After sensing something was not right for some time, doctors discovered a lemon sized tumor in her brain. The prognosis is that, according to what they know about the nature of the cancer, she has a 1% chance of survival. Her only option in the natural is to undergo chemotherapy and radiation because the tumor is inoperable. What struck me after returning from a visit with her at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri (one of the best in the nation), is that for the percentage chance of survival to be correct, someone had to survive. We usually immediately begin to see ourselves in the group with the worst chance – we are part of the 50% that will not get there or the 99% that will not make it. But there must be one to go with the ninety-nine that do not recover. Well, since someone has to be the one, I’ve decided that Ginger should be the one. One might say that this is not realistic but I would counter by saying that unless we stand up and fight for our loved ones we are going to lose for sure. Our only chance for victory is to fight. Like a prize fighter in the boxing ring we can’t win unless we get in the ring and stay in the ring punching as well as taking punches. The champion’s belt ultimately belongs to the one that perseveres. No one ever wins by throwing in the white towel or climbing out of the ring!

Our family learned that the Word of the Lord is more sure than the word of even a world-class hospital filled with world-class physicians. John 12:38 says, “Lord, who hath believed our report and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Back in the early 1980’s my Dad was told that he was afflicted with a rare, incurable disease that up to this time had killed each and every victim diagnosed with it. Ignoring the zero percentage prognosis, people all over the country began to pray for his supernatural healing because there was little man could do for him in the natural. Over thirty years have come and gone and he is still very much alive. Yes, he had tremendous healthcare, a supportive family, and a strong can do attitude, but the praise and glory belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ who made my Dad the one that changed the statistics on this dreaded disease forever.

The Bible is filled with stories about the “one” that received when it seemed like no one else was getting a breakthrough. Jesus taught of leaving the ninety-nine sheep to pursue the “one.” Psalm 91:7 tells us that 11,000 comrades in arms can fall all around us while we stand. One thankful leper was made completely whole when, unlike the other nine, he returned to give Jesus thanks. One sick woman touched Jesus and was made whole. One woman was provided for in the midst of a famine in Elijah’s day. One leprous Syrian general received healing from leprosy in Elisha’s day. One criminal on the cross next to Jesus repented while the other criminal on the cross (and the crowd below) blasted him with insults. The Lord’s care, attention, and compassion for the “one” is well-documented in Scripture. Jesus cares about even one – so why not be the one?

I want to encourage you to be the one by spending time in the healing Scriptures. As you do your faith to fight will grow. It’s not easy to maintain the spirit of faith for healing when you are the one being punched, but the key is to keep the healing Words of Jesus going in your eyes, ears, and coming out of your mouth in abundance (See: Psalm 103:1-3; Exodus 15:26; Acts 10:38; Matthew 4:23; and Luke 5:13). I want you to be the one who confesses always, “I am the one.” Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the tongue has the power of life and death. In the same breath we can call ourselves the ninety-nine percent or the one percent that receives the miracle. Say it loud and say it repeatedly – “I am the one.” I want you to be the one who receives the prayer of faith. Mark 16:18 reminds us that, “they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” James 5 exhorts the believer to call for the elders of the church to anoint the sick with oil and pray the prayer of faith with the expectation that, “the prayer of faith shall save the sick.” Finally, I want you to be the one that thanks God now for the healing. We are told to give thanks in (not for) everything (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Philippians 4:6 says, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Thankful people stand out from the crowd of ungrateful people in the world today and grant the Lord even greater access into their lives to make them the one. May you, too, be the one!

From the Deathbed to the Baptism Pool

John Barrett Baptizing Shirley Royal
John Barrett Baptizing Shirley Royal

A few months ago, Shirley Royal went into a catatonic state and coded three times after being brought to the local hospital. No one gave the family much hope for a recovery and any recovery would be marked by residual physical limitations or even brain damage. I remember Mr. Royal standing over her body as we prayed. There was something extraordinary at play that day in the intensive care unit. I sensed God’s hand and I sensed that this women was one tough bird and definitely a fighter.

Not only did she not die, she regained full function, physically and mentally, and she then began to faithfully attend Hope Harbor Church. Last week during the kickoff of our brand new SOS (School of the Spirit) Wednesday night, Shirley decided to join the others scheduled to follow the Lord in baptism and I had the joy of witnessing one of the most outstanding miracles I’ve seen in fourteen years of ministry at Hope Harbor. Shirley had literally been lifted up from the deathbed to make her public profession of faith through baptism.

I want to encourage you that no matter how things look – no matter how much fear is trying to move against your heart – just keep on believing and trusting God. Stay focused on the promise and keep your heart filled with the Word of God and faith. We are in a very interesting season in this nation. I have discovered that a really tough time in the natural is prime time for our God to show up and show out with his power and glory.

Please be our guest at any of our three Hope Harbor Church locations this Sunday morning for the launch of our brand new fall sermon series entitled, Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear. Come discover how to overcome that fear-causing mega storm swirling around your life lately. Invite someone you care about to the Harbor this Sunday.

The Miracle Girl

Amanda and Quinlyn
Amanda and Quinlyn

When long term Hope Harbor Church member Owen Moore headed out on an ambulance call October 29th he was shocked and surprised to find his 27 year old daughter-in-law Amanda collapsed at work and in cardiac arrest. Amanda was resuscitated and taken to Murray-Calloway County Hospital and later life flighted to Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. After evaluating her grim situation, the doctors determined that Amanda was suffering from an enlarged heart that on rare occasions manifests at the end of a pregnancy or up to five months after delivery. In a coma dealing with kidney failure and a heart with only 10% injection fraction (the amount of blood expelled from the heart muscle when contracting), the prognosis in the natural was not looking good. According to Owen, less than 1% of patients resuscitated outside of the hospital survive cardiac arrest.

Thank God we are not bound to the natural in situations like this. God’s people began to pray all over the country. The family even got word that someone placed a prayer for her at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The turn around in Amanda’s situation is so amazing that personnel from the hospital have been popping into her room wanting to see “the miracle girl.” Today Amanda’s kidney function is normal and her percentage of blood expelled from the heart chamber is now at 50% (55% is considered normal). She is now in rehabilitation and has some hurdles to overcome but God’s mercy in her life is obvious.

I want to encourage you to believe God as well when you or someone you love is facing a health crisis. Remember the powerful words of the Psalmist: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:2-3, NIV). We serve an amazing God who is still doing miracles today. Just ask the Moore family! I also want to encourage you to continue to pray for Amanda’s complete recovery and restoration. For more information about Amanda, please visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/amandamoore.