(Guest post by Roy Mathias)
I read this book while at Ffald-y-Brenin. Here are some of the ideas–chapter by chapter. Bill Johnson describes some of the methods he uses to strengthen his inner man – it is not an exhaustive list, just what he himself has found helpful. These are some of the conscious ways in which he choose to respond when warning lights go on in his life.
Frequently others will strengthen us, but there are times when we must do it for ourselves in order to mature.
What made David so great? David is remembered for his heart. While the Israel, for the most part, interacted with the Lord through the Law and a system of ritual sacrifices, David, as a shepherd, had a direct relationship with the Lord, singing to the Lord, and relying on the Lord in battling lion and bear. He was clearly different – his oldest brother Eliab brothers sensed this saying “I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is” .
However, after being anointed King, he had to wait 10-13 years, mostly in testing circumstances, before being crowned king. This further testing ensured that when he was king he would not stumble as seriously as Saul, whose public victories exposed his hidden faults.
Why the inner man?
The sin of biting the apple in the garden was preceded by the error of believing a lie.
“As a man thinks in his heart so he is” (Pr 23:7) is an oft quoted expression, but it usually refers just to thoughts. In Hebrew, the heart referred to the entirety of the inner man – mind, imagination, will, desires, emotions, memory, conscience, and so Johnson focussed on more than just the mind and intellect here.
Stay connected to your destiny
Live aware of where you are going, not where you are. Live aware of the unseen reality that God is both good and sovereign.
The frontlines of the fight is the safest place — we receive an umbrella of grace — rather than taking up a defensive position, like the servant who buried his coin.
Disarming Hell Through Thanksgiving
Almost every Christian book, regardless of perspective, book has a chapter on the importance of thanksgiving. Why?
1. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”( 1 Thess 5:16-18) Being thankful is the will of God. But to be truly thankful, one must appreciate what one has – frequently Christians are not thankful for spiritual gifts, and even the mere fact of life.
2. “Thanksgiving brings me into the presence of God where you sense His ability to do the impossible and sense of his love for and delight in me. It is hard to stay depressed when I am filled with the awareness of this love and goodness of God around me.”
3. Not giving thanks and praise leads to futility and spiritual darkness. “ … they neither glorified Him, nor gave Him thanks, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish minds were darkened.” On the other hand, thanksgiving keeps us sane (seeing reality the way it is) and alive (in contact with our source of life).
The Personal Breakthrough Moment – Praise
“Physical obedience brings spiritual breakthrough”. Our identity as believers is first as worshipers–ministering to the Lord. Worship with the whole self, including the body, dancing, clapping, and making a joyful noise as in the Old Testament, and in celebrations the world over.
“It is not irresponsible to ignore problems around one, and even inside one, to give GOD praise. We think that we can solve a problem by looking at it from every angle. But this can consume our attention, and we end up focussing on the problem, not the Lord.”
Praise can bring one into a divine encounter. Worship may be understood only by the worshiper and the Lord (c.f., the woman who poured expensive perfume on Jesus feet was criticised/judged by all.)
Bill Johnson closes the chapter with “I challenge you to take the time each day to look past the problems and needs around you long enough to give God an extravagant expression of praise and rejoicing”.
Releasing the Hidden Things
How do we build ourselves up? Ans: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most hold faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.”
Praying in the Spirit (i.e., in tongues for Bill Johnson)
- Is powerful because our spirits pray in agreement with God
- Invites the Spirit of understanding to enlighten the eyes of our understanding (esp. when we want to understand things in times of crisis and tragedy.)
- Bypasses the intellect and activates our Spirit born faith (for faith does not come from the intellect)
- Bypassing the intellect, allows us to pray when we lack understanding for how to pray.
Conclusion: “As you learn how to ‘build yourself up on your most holy faith’ using this tool, a sign of growth will be that God will wean you away from expecting quick fixes, and you will find yourself in situations that just will not shift until you lean into His voice, hear what he is saying, and stand in faith to make that declaration over your life. … we learn that while getting answers to prayer is wonderful and important, hearing His voice in the intimacy of prayer is the true source of our strength.”
Possessed by Promises
“Meditating on the Promises of God will strengthen you.” We strengthen ourselves by remaining connected with identity and purpose. But we only know our identity and purpose because God tells us what they are
In general, meditate on the promises from the position of “Let it be to me according to your Word” when it is not clear how His word will be fulfilled.
In particular, re-read portions of Scripture that have been quickened in your heart. He says “If I feel heavy or discouraged, I’ll read these passages until I sense the reality of that dwelling place and can feel the promise burning in my heart again”.
Similarly, when mentally or spiritually bombarded, read Psalms, until you find “your heart cry in a Psalm”. Then read that over and over and make it your prayer.
Life comes not from every word that has already been spoken, but from “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. (Note present tense.) The Holy Spirit brings Scripture to life. Don’t just gather information from Scripture–expect Scripture to speak to your spirit. When you receive a personal word, record it.
(Biblical meditation fills the mind, and even the mouth, with truth. Joshua 1:8, This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall mediate it day and night. Apparently the Hebrew word translated mediate can also be translated “mutter”.)
Keeping the Testimony
“Jesus perfectly represented God. One of the primary truths He proved is that it is impossible to represent God accurately without demonstrations of power. Miracles aren’t something only Jesus and a few highly anointed ministers can be expected to perform. “
Ps 78: 2-7 Tell of the Lord’s works –his power and wonders–that the next generation will know and believe
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3 things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
However, the men of Ephraim, forgetting, lost their nerve in battle, and did not obey God’s law.
9 The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows,
turned back on the day of battle;
10 they did not keep God’s covenant
and refused to live by his law.
11 They forgot what he had done,
the wonders he had shown them.
12 He did miracles in the sight of their ancestors
in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and led them through;
he made the water stand up like a wall.
14 He guided them with the cloud by day
and with light from the fire all night.
15 He split the rocks in the wilderness
and gave them water as abundant as the seas;
16 he brought streams out of a rocky crag
and made water flow down like rivers.
Johnson applies the remembering of testimonies (the record of Gods deeds) also to the remembering of God’s deeds that are not recorded in Scripture. By talking about these things we remember was God has done and are” aware of a God who invades the impossible.”
If we lack awareness of God’s action in our world, we lose faith and courage, and our plans will fall short of what He intends for us.
Conclusion: record and repeat testimonies of God’s deeds in our life and in lives we know. (BJ has a special journal solely to record miracles.) Journaling is recommended by many Christian authors, but Johnson equates it with the OT command of repeating the Lord’s deeds.
Controlling Your Environment
A virtuous cycle: “As I developed a lifestyle of feeding on the promises and prophecies of God over my file and meditating on His testimonies, something interesting has happened. People with testimonies now constantly find me, like heat seeking missiles. Because the nature of testimony carries a prophetic anointing, it’s as though I am prophesied over continually. As a result, I have a steady supply of encouragement and strength.”
Strength comes from covenant friendships. Covenant allows the spiritual reality that governs your life to flow in the other’s and vice versa. It is vital to develop friendships with people whose lives show the fruit of the Kingdom.
“I have strong personal boundaries for interacting with people who speak from a position of negativity or unbelief. Normally I minister to them but do not give them access to my life. When I’m lacking in strength, however, I intentionally avoid them. It does not sound very compassionate, but I am the only one responsible for keeping my heart free from Doubt and judgement, and I alone can recognise when I am vulnerable.”
The place of solitude. “In case after case, the same person who carried a marvellous anointing that brought healing, deliverance and salvation to thousands lacked the wisdom to see that we wouldn’t be able to sustain that ministry if he did learn to get away from the crowds long enough to get physical rest and cultivate life-giving relationships with family and friends who would reaffirm his or her focus on the Kingdom.”
“Jesus took his disciples away from the crowds to rest and to be together. Jesus was moved to action, not by human need, but by his Father’s heart.”
If this seems like a deadly serious book, that is because it is. However Johnson sneaks in a paragraph saying that he takes himself too seriously and resists laughter in difficult times, but that the people of faith who support him in hard times have a great sense of humour.
The Desperate Cry
Response to being convicted of sin—feel convicted not condemned. Remember that in the fullness of his grace not only forgives our sins, but also empowers us to live like Him.
Focus on God’s answers, not you problems.
Our personal ambition is to be transformed into His image.