Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“And the acts of David the king, first and last,
behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer,
and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer,
with all his reign and his might, and the times that went over him and over Israel,
and over all the kingdoms of the countries.”
“My times are in your hands.”
It is difficult for one generation to fully communicate their times to a generation that follows. We can describe events and the feelings of our time, but the younger generation still cannot completely comprehend the attitudes and choices – the times – of a previous generation.
Our “times” are determined by God alone, and they are always greater than us all. They “go over us” as they went over David and Israel, and the whole world. One famous novel by Charles Dickens begins with the sentence, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” The times described in that book were world events and conditions that swallowed up tens of thousands of people and that affected everyone in Europe, and beyond Europe to one extent or another.
The times that my generation knew included the public availability of holy men, anointed by God, who encouraged true children of God to have faith for healing and deliverance. Every Sunday morning, God’s people could watch Oral Roberts or Katherine Kuhlman heal people on television. A few years later, we were also watching Jimmy Swaggart preach under the joyful anointing of the holy Ghost and watch hundreds of sinners be convicted of their need for God. About the same time, Ernest Angeley was sent by God to heal the sick and afflicted, and he was on television, too. And there were others.
But the times changed. Some of God’s servants grew old and died; some fell into sin and broke the saints’ hearts. Consequently, beginning in the mid-1990s, the next generation was left with hardly anything on national televisions stations that could edify their spirits, and had to settle for little more than stories of how times used to be. We have lived in an evil time since then, a time when the glory of God was rarely seen or felt. But there are signs that a different time may be coming.
There are men rising up again with the glory of God, at least a degree of God’s glory that we have not been used to seeing. Now we can hear, on occasion, the voice of our Shepherd. It is a faint voice still, but it is clearly his, and his people love it. The messages some men are preaching now are clearly the result of them being touched by God. Yet, there is much more glory needed in order for the body of Christ to be healed of its divisions and have our fellowship restored. As the great old hymn goes, “Mercy drops ‘round us are falling; but for the showers we plead!”
It has been a time of drought; pray for the rain. Pray for those men who are touching the mantle of Jesus, who are beginning to say things beyond themselves and feel things from God they do not yet understand. It could develop into a glorious time for the children of God if these men continue to follow the call they are receiving. It is also possible that this hopeful time could degenerate into a system of empty catch-phrases and false claims, as happened with the “charismatic movement” of the 1960s.
And don’t be concerned about whether or not the doctrine these sincere men teach is perfect. Pray for them to discern God’s voice. Everybody starts out wrong, and we are all delivered from wrong thoughts about God only as Jesus drives them out of our minds by revealing his truth. Just pray that the men who are now rising up with the promise of unity and power for God’s people will continue to follow the voice they are hearing. If they do, they will come to know the truth, and the truth will set them, and all who hear them, free indeed.
I long for this generation to see miracles and to hear the true word of God, as I was blessed to be able to do as a child and young man. If this time of promise passes, and men whom God has called refuse to follow Him, let it not be because we have failed to pray for those men. They are fighting battles that most of God’s people know little about, but those battles are real, and the results of those men’s battles will affect every one of us.