Posted by: Rina | November 20, 2009

Practice makes Perfect

“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give.  (Matthew 10:7-8)

We have all been given spiritual gifts.  It was purchased for us by Jesus and has been imparted to us by the Holy Spirit.  We have been given a mandate by Christ to use the spiritual gifts in connection with the preaching of the kingdom.  It is imperative that we begin to grow in our area of gifting.  They are a part of our Christian identity and when they are in operation, they not only cause us to grow, they demonstrate the power of God to those around us.  Jesus tells us “freely give” what we have been given.  Hence, every opportunity that we have to exercise our gift, we should do it.  Here is a practical example of exactly what we are talking about, most people can’t just go to the gym and bench-press 300 pounds.  However, if a person makes a habit of exercising (using the gifts) and keeps a good diet (a lifestyle of holiness) he/she can reach a level of strength greater than when they began.  It is a process.  The same is true of spiritual gifts.

One should not expect to be able to preach like Billy Graham the day after they get saved.  But, with the proper training, anointing, and biblical study, one could progressively become more evangelical.  Healing is another great example.  It is one of the spiritual gifts listed in I Corinthians 12 and seemed to be a favorite of Jesus.  (Even a casual glance at the gospels reveals Jesus constantly healing, going to heal, or just having healed someone.)   It doesn’t just always manifest .  Let’s look at a couple of modern historical examples.

John Wimber led one of the greatest healing ministries in the 70’s-80’s.  Wimber’s Vineyard movement was hallmarked by physical healings and miracles.  This ministry greatly expanded and has been entitled, “The Third Wave” of revival and renewal.  But it wasn’t always hallmarked by the supernatural.  “Wimber realized he and the church couldn’t just theorize about healing, they had to practice regular prayer for the sick.  In other words, they had to start “doing the stuff.”  And so they did.  The problem was that despite constant prayer nobody was getting healed.  Instead, the people who prayed for the sick caught the colds and flu of those they ministered to.  But they persisted and some ten months later, a young woman was powerfully and instantaneously healed after Wimber prayed for her.” (1)  Wimber realized that healing was not just for a select few, but was a gift to all believers. (Mark 16)  He regularly held conferences and encouraged people to perceiver in faith.  Wimber knew by experience that breakthrough would eventually come.  He recognized that gifts were a part of Christian identity and that in order for us to grow, and for the advancement of God’s Kingdom, we must practice them.

Likewise, evangelist Todd Bentley experienced a similar process.  Bentley writes, “I purposed that if I prayed for a thousand and no one got healed that I would pray for another thousand.  In those early days of warring and contending, it seemed as though I prayed for a thousand without anyone being healed, but I just kept praying until something happened…Everywhere I went I’d call the deaf forward and pray for them.  I prayed for the deaf and I prayed for the deaf, and I prayed for the deaf.  For the longest time, when the deaf left my meeting they were still deaf.  I prayed for hundreds of deaf people and occasionally the deaf heard partially…  I saw results maybe two percent of the time.  I discovered that healing comes in levels and that, as believers , we need to contend and break through one level until we get authority.” (2)  Bentley went on to lead a healing revival in Lakeland, Florida 2008.  (Bentley has recently come under attack for some moral failure on his part and a recent divorce.  However, our point here is to examine his anointing and not his character.  How he achieved breakthrough is what we are looking at, not his morality.  It is important to note that we can grow in a gifting but not in character)  Bentley realized that the more we exercised and practiced our gifts, the stronger we became in our identity.
Bentley and Wimber both found a kingdom principle at work.  The scriptures states, “Those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)  In order for us to become mature, we need to use what God has given us.  The Greek translated here as “reason of use” means literally, “to make a habit of.”  The Bible affirms the witness of history by telling us, the more we use it, the more we grow in it.   As we grow in our gifts, we will grow in our identity.  When the miracles begin to happen we will say to ourselves, “This really is who I am.”

Endnotes

1.  Hayford, Jack; The Charasmatic Century; Warner Faith; New York, NY; 2006; page 260.

2.  Bentley, Todd; Journey Into the Miraculous; Destiny Image Publishers; Shippensburg, PA, 2008, page 168-169.

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