New Wine for New Wineskins June 2020

By , June 1, 2020 7:00 am

Over The Top  (Part 1)

over the top to an excessive degree; beyond reasonable or acceptable limits

In the First World War the phrase “over the top” was used by the British to describe the infantry emerging from the safety of their trenches to attack the enemy across open ground. More recently, with allusion to its WW1 origins, the phrase has come to describe excessive or foolhardy actions.  Since the 1980s the phrase is often shortened to OTT.

I have a question for you!  Are you OTT?  Do you cling to the safety of the trenches? Or do you go over the top in your engagement of the enemy in order to break out of every siege situation and take the land that is our inheritance?

Are you happy to follow the safe religious route of church attendance and basic survival where you avoid any statement of faith or action that might be deemed by others to be excessive or extreme?  Or is there something on the inside of you that cannot ignore what Jesus said concerning the kind of extreme activity we are supposed to be engaging in?

So what DID he say?

Matthew 10: 7 – 8

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

So why have we stopped at sending volleys of preaching from the safety of the trench – usually some cosy church building?  He said, “As you go…”  Go where?  OTT – over the top!  If we don’t take the warfare out of the church building and into the open ground then it won’t be long before the enemy occupies that ground.

Maybe you think this is all a bit fanatical.  Well, AW Tozer once said that sometimes a fanatic is just someone who loves Jesus more than you do.

Jesus didn’t say stay where you are and preach – he said go and preach.  And that’s not all he said.  He said to heal the sick.  Notice he didn’t say to pray for the sick.  Are we disciples of Jesus or are we followers of established religious practice?  If you can’t find something in the life of Jesus then you don’t need it, but if you can find something in the life of Jesus then you do need it.

If you study Jesus’ life you will discover that he did very little praying in public.  That is why his disciples had to ask him to teach them to pray.  They knew that he prayed and that his prayers were effective but they hadn’t heard him pray much because he usually prayed alone while they were sleeping.  He prayed in private and then when he had finished praying he went over the top and engaged the enemy on open ground and released people into their inheritance.

He prayed along the lines that he gave us in Matthew 6 aligning us with God’s throne and inviting his kingdom to come and his will to be done in and through us – inviting heaven to invade the earth and the power of God to invade the impossible and make it possible.  This prayer also helps us to maintain clean hands and a pure heart as we seek forgiveness for our own mess-ups and forgive and release those who have offended us.

So how come we have stopped healing the sick and started praying for them instead?  Is it an attempt to cover up any failure before it happens?  After all, if we pray and ask the LORD to heal someone and they don’t get healed then it is obviously the LORD who has decided not to do this one. Ahem! That’s Ahem, not Amen.

Sadly, for some it is even considered OTT to offer to pray for the sick but imagine if we just did what Jesus said to do and preached that the kingdom of heaven was near and that we have come to heal them in Jesus’ name.  Don’t you think that would attract some accusations of being over the top and acting to an excessive degree and beyond reasonable or acceptable limits?  But that is what Jesus did and that is what he told us to do.

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people…When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick…Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness…Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick…When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick…all who touched him were healed…When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them…”

We could go on.   But he also did something remarkable.

Matthew 10: 1, 7 – 8

He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness…As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Are we called?  Are we commissioned? To do what?  To do what Jesus did and to do what these guys did.  I don’t know about you but ever since I heard that these things were still possible I have had this insatiable desire to do it.  And yet it hasn’t always worked and so I am continually seeking for answers as to why not.  I know I can’t bring God’s word down to the level of my experience and so I am continually seeking the LORD to show me how to bring my experience in line with his word.

Remember when the disciples came back from what I call their trial run?  They were jumping up and down and all excited because even the demons were subject to them.  Jesus told them not to be so excited about that because that wasn’t the big deal.  The big deal was that their names were written in heaven.  You see, the fact that their names were written in heaven is what gave them the authority to cast out the demons and heal the sick, etc.

Listen up.

1 Corinthians 3: 1 – 3

1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

We are no longer supposed to be acting like normal human beings but as men and women in right relationship with God – as those who are anointed with the Holy Spirit and power and who go about doing good and healing all who are oppressed by the devil because God is with us.  When God is with you then you are no longer a mere human on your own.

A lot of the time in the church we are in our trench defending our position and simply reacting to what the devil does.  Someone in the church gets sick and then we set about trying to get healing to them.  But that is not what Jesus said to do.  It is time to go over the top and go on the offensive – engaging the enemy in the open ground.  We need to aggressively pursue the sick and heal them.

There are certain sicknesses (such as cancer, MS, type-1 Diabetes) that have a very high incidence in our region.  We can respond to that in one of two ways.  We can either wait for someone we know or someone related to someone we know to contract these diseases and then try and do something about it or we can actively engage with the spirits behind these sicknesses and bind them and loose all those in our region who are already suffering or who are potential sufferers from the power of these diseases.  We can make a stand that declares that these sicknesses no longer have authority to affect anyone else in this region.  We can take back the land.

So what if people say that we are over the top?  Over the top people get results.  They also take a lot of flak, but the results make it all worthwhile.

A lot of the time we have failed in ministering healing because we have wondered or even doubted if we have enough faith.  Let’s clear something up right now.  Faith is simply hearing what God says and doing it.  If God says to go and heal the sick then go and heal the sick because that is your faith working.  That is why small children and brand new believers sometimes get better results than those who have been on the road for years.

So what if it doesn’t work?  It has to work.  If God said do it then just keep doing it until it does work.

I heard a quote from David Yonggi Cho – the pastor of the world’s largest church which is in South Korea.  He said that the Korean language is written up and down on the page and so they read the Word of God with a nodding motion whereas since our language is written horizontally we read it while shaking our head. That might sound funny but I think there is probably a lot of truth in it.  Many people read the word but they think that it can never happen that way for them. The truth is that anything that happened for anyone else in the word of God can happen for us.

Jesus said heal the sick and we think that’s impossible.  So which part of the Christian life is supposed to be possible in the natural?  None of it.  And so, we don’t ever have to examine our faith to see how much we have – we just have to do obey which is the only reliable indicator of how much faith we have.

Luke 17: 5 – 6

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

Jesus also said to raise the dead.  Personally, I have attempted on two occasions to do this.  Both times I have failed but I am not going to give up because Jesus said we were to do it.  I am just beginning to realise where I may have gone wrong.  On one of the occasions in particular there were definite word pointers towards the action of raising the person from the dead.  In the other case I had a sense that the person probably wouldn’t want to come back but I didn’t want to not try and so I should not have been content with less than Smith Wigglesworth experienced with his wife when he brought her back for the second or third time only to be told that she actually wanted to go.

I am beginning to realise that I was trying to find faith in myself for this endeavour and that is not a good idea because all you usually find during self-inspection is stuff that would be more of a hindrance than a help and so your faith is actually hindered.  In fact the more you look for faith the more elusive it often becomes.  That is because you can’t see faith until it acts.  We need to simply get to the point where we stand up and say that Jesus said to do it so let’s do it.  As Smith Wigglesworth used to say – “God said it, I believe it, that settles it!”  It’s time to go over the top with this stuff – to an excessive degree and beyond reasonable and acceptable limits.

We may not have many lepers around these parts but we certainly have many other things that result in people becoming social outcasts.  As far as casting out demons is concerned I think I have probably had some success in this area because I have simply depended upon the anointing within and upon me to take authority and do the business, whereas with healing and raising the dead there has been an inclination to insert religious prayer into the equation as a kind of faith substitute.

There is nothing more exciting than doing the works of the kingdom and seeing people set free from every kind of bondage. It is time to come out of the trenches and go over the top – engaging the enemy on the open ground and taking it back.  We have a commission to possess the land and so it will take fearless, radical faith that simply obeys and does what our commanding officer has told us to do wherever we have the opportunity.  It is time to take healing onto the street and into the workplace, etc.  It is time to take back the land.

Numbers 13: 30

30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”

Anyone for going over the top?  As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near’ and heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, and drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

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