The Impotent Church

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John 5:2-4

“Now there was at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having 5 porches. In these porches lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.”

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The pool of Bethesda has been the subject of many Bible stories and sermons alike, and it is understandable considering the incredible dynamics of God’s supernatural power. Aside from the obvious, this pool is quite unique. This pool was located just outside the temple in Jerusalem, and it is believed that this pool was once used for cleansing the sacrifices that were to be offered unto God. As a cleansing station the pool would also be used by the priests as they would cleanse themselves after he sacrifices had been made. It is believed also, that through the years this pool somehow began to develop a natural cleansing agent. People who were sickly would come and bathe in this pool and the natural cleansing agent would act as a medicated pool helping people recover from common sicknesses. As people became more and more aware of this pools uncanny ability to act as a medicinal spa, droves of people began to flock to these waters in hopes of obtaining healing in their lives. The multitudes that came were so great that they were forced to build five porches around the pool to house the amount of people who were in need of a miracle.

I don’t know how it happened or why it began, but I do know that God allowed an angel to come at a certain season and trouble these waters. As this incredible feat took pace suddenly the natural cleansing agent was replaced with a supernatural cleansing agent! At this moment people with incurable diseases would come to the water and the Bible says whoever stepped in first would be supernaturally healed!

The word Bethesda literally means “house of mercy”. It becomes clear that John is paralleling this pool to the church, because we dwell in a “house of mercy”! Now, what immediately caught my attention is that John said that this pool was surrounded by five porches, each porch housing people of a particular disease. There was, however, a common denominator in them all; John said they were all impotent!

The word impotent is a word that we don’t use much in our world today; according to the online dictionary the word impotent means “one who is unable to take effective action; helpless or powerless”. As I was reading over this story, my heart was gripped with a terrifying revelation! Could it be that we are witnessing the greatest demise of the apostolic church? Could this passage be an indirect picture of what the church actually looks like? As I began to think on this I couldn’t shake the feeling that the most powerful people on the planet now lie by a pool of possibility powerless and ineffective!

We have the potential to transform our cities! We have the potential to play a vital role in end-time revival! We have the potential to house the greatest revival the world has ever seen! But the reality is the apostolic church, the church with miracles, signs and wonders, has given way to impotent church! Powerless prayer rooms, ineffective evangelism, and empty altars are all the impotent church has to offer! Wounds, pain, rejection, bitterness and frustrations have caused us to pull up a seat on the porch and wait!

“One day I’ll get over this! One day I’ll forgive them! One day I’ll make this right, but right now it’s to soon, it’s too real and it hurts too bad! so I’ll just wait!”

And what you have failed to realize is that in your waiting for a miraculous move of god you become powerless and ineffective! Because God can not help those who refuse to let go of the pain!

The Bible tells us of a man who was possessed with a devil, whom the Bible says lived among the tombs. This man was so miserable that he isolated himself from the world and spent his lonely nights in a dark depressing graveyard! And if the emotional pain wasn’t enough he would literally cut himself with stones to inflict even more pain upon himself! We skim over this story and we chalk it up to some poor unfortunate man whose possessor was forcing him to harm himself. But the reality is there is a part of this man in every one of us!

You see, isolation is the defense mechanism to pain. when faced with a painful circumstance, the first response is to withdraw and to internalize. That’s not a spirit, that’s human nature. So what we do is we isolate ourselves from the people who love us and we begin to live in a graveyard of pain! There is nothing more painful that failing to move on from failures and disappointments. The worst thing you can do is surround yourself with the graveyards of broken promises and shattered dreams. But the part that causes my spirit to cry out is that it was in the graveyard that he began to inflict pain by means of self-mutilation!

No, we may not actually cut ourselves with stones, but we still inflict pain on ourselves. We do this by looking in the mirror and saying things like, “nobody would love you”; “I deserve what I’ve gotten”; “I’m so ugly”; “I’m so fat”; “i don’t deserve to live!” Inflicting pain again and again and again, only our stone of choice is self-degradation!

Now I find it fascinating as Jesus approaches this man, the man begins to plead with Jesus to stop tormenting him. When you read his story, you will note that many people had tried unsuccessfully to help him. The Bible says they bound him with chains and fetters, not to punish him but to protect him from himself! And yet every attempt to help him was met with resistance and he just shook off the support. And the Bible says that the more people tried to help him the deeper Satan pushed him into the wilderness. This man was so lost that he thought he would always be in this condition and that there was no chance of him ever changing!

And as Jesus approaches the man feels tormented by the possibility of change! And the truth is there are times when apostolic people come to church and are actually tormented by preaching! And in some cases people actually stop coming to church because they are tired of hearing about a change they’ll never experience! So instead of pursuing change they allow Satan to push them deeper and deeper into a wilderness of isolation.

Now somewhere somehow something got a hold of this man, and even though there were legions of devils possessing him, the Bible says he ran and worshiped Him! Somehow in the middle of his wilderness this man said, I’m tired of sitting by the pool of possibility! And so when he saw his opportunity he decided to step in!

So the bible says that the owners who fed the swine saw the swine run into the water, they ran to see what Jesus had done. And when they approached they saw that man sitting at the feet of Jesus clothed and in his right mind. Now let me ask you a question; where did he find clothes so fast? The word clothes here in Greek is himation (him-at’-ee-on) meaning the cloak or mantle, or the upper garment. I am convinced that this man wasn’t clothed with just any clothes, he was clothed with the garments of his savior!

This is interesting for 2 reasons:

1.) It symbolizes Jesus covering us with His blood! So that even though we are unrighteous, when God looks at us, He doesn’t see our sin, he sees His blood!

2.) It means that Jesus would’ve been considered “naked” for being a highly respected official and removing his outer garments. That means in order for Jesus to heal this man, he first had to come down to where he was, and visit him in his graveyard and reveal (uncover) himself to him!

If you’ve found yourself sitting at the pool of possibility bound by self-inflicted wounds and pain caused by others. Jesus wants to visit you where you are! And He wants to cover you with His mantle of mercy and reveal himself to you in a way you’ve never seen!

Now let me connect this together… John said the people were powerless because of two factors. They were blind and they were halt.

1.) They were blind

This isn’t about vision, it’s about perspective. When Jesus was approached by a young man He was asked a simple yet profound question, “what is the greatest commandment?” Jesus responded with this answer, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” But Jesus didn’t stop there he continued and said, “This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self.”

This is where a lot of people actually miss what Jesus was really saying. The goal is to love God with all of your being and for that love to translate into loving people. However, both of those goals are predicated on one simple truth; it isn’t possible if you don’t love yourself! THis is the first stage in overcoming our impotence! We need deliverance from our blindness! We need to stop looking at our lives from the perspective of our enemy and we need a fresh revelation of heaven’s perspective!

Let’s look at something incredible in Matthew 12:22, the Bible says that a demon possessed man was brought to Jesus who was both blind and dumb; which meant he couldn’t see and he couldn’t speak. After Jesus heals the man the Bible says that the crowd of onlookers marveled because this man could both speak and see. Now we understand the Bible is the most accurate book ever written, it’s flawless. Yet scripture tells us the man was blind and dumb, tilting the scales towards blindness as his greatest hindrance. But after he’s healed he spoke then saw. This tells me that what we see is in direct correlation to what we hear! And if we want to be delivered from our blindness then we need to start speaking love into our lives!

“I’m not a loser, I’m loved! I’m not a reject, I’m redeemed! I’m not ugly, I’m beautiful! ” The way I see myself will not be determined by what the world sees! But I will look to the word of God and I will shape my perspective from what God says about me!

2.) They were halt and withered

There was another group on the porch, which was also part of the impotent crowd. These weren’t blind, the Bible says they were halt. Halt means exactly hat you think it means, it literally means to come to an abrupt stop. And because they were halt, they began to wither.

As the prophet Elijah began to defend his God in the midst of the prophets of Baal, Elijah asked Israel, “How long halt ye between two opinions?” Their inability to choose who they served had literally halted their progress! And when you try to live with one foot in your past and one foot in your future, you are not progressing you have become halt!

As Israel was facing the fierceness of the Red Sea in front of them, and behind them they could hear the clamor of Pharaoh’s army. Here Israel halted between two opinions. One one side they could hear the haunting voices of their past trying to reclaim them to a lifestyle of bondage, and on the other side they could hear the crashing waves of the Red Sea telling them they couldn’t go any further. These sounds almost drowning out the voice of Moses saying, “God will deliver us!” In a desperate attempt to calm their fears Moses stands and delivers a strong message, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord”! In other words Moses pulled up a seat at the porch and began to wait for a miracle.

God wasn’t pleased with Moses and He actually rebuked him for this statement! He said, “Moses, I never told you to stand still! If you want to see my power then you must command my people to go forward!”

Now the Bible tells us of 4 lepers who sat outside the gates of the city and they were dying. There was a famine in the land, and these lepers were literally starving to death. Finally one of the lepers spoke up and said, “why sit we here until we die?” Can i ask you, “why would you just sit at the porch and die?” These 4 lepers decided against withering away in the famine and the Bible says that these 4 lepers went into the camps of the Syrians. And just like the Red Sea, the obstacles they thought would prevent them from their miracle was removed when God’s people stepped out in faith!

You don’t have to live with an impotent spirit! You can live in a world of blessing and abundance! All it takes is for you to stop allowing the devil to keep you isolated on the porch of possibility, and to begin walking in faith!

As Jacob was selecting his bride, the Bible says he gave her gifts. As Rachel gave her family the news the Bible says that her family tried to convince her to wait. As they approached her with the idea of waiting a few days Rachel responded this way, “hinder me not”! Rachel had the gifts! Which meant Rachel had the possibility to be the bride! But the possibility would’ve meant nothing if Rachel didn’t get up and say, “I’m not waiting another second! I’m about to start walking in the gifts I’ve been given!”

You don’t have to live on the porch of the powerless any longer! God wants to empower you to start walking in your potential!

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Restoring Manhood

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1 Timothy 2:8 “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

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The apostle Paul is writing an instructional letter to a young minister that he has embraced as his own son in the gospel named Timothy. As Paul begins writing this dissertation to this young man, Paul begins to circle a subject many modern ministers refuse to even approach. The idea of manhood has been defended, the push for men to involve themselves spiritually into their local churches have been exhausted, and even the prodding to persuade men to pray has been attempted by today’s ministry. Yet buried within this one simple passage lies one of the darkest, yet most factual representations of manhood there has ever been written.

Long before men’s conferences were established, Paul created a men’s challenge! The parameters and the qualifications of this particular challenge were simple, “I would therefore, that men would pray everywhere…” But before men across the globe rush to engage in some ritualistic prayer recital, let me pause you for a moment and bring to surface the rest of this passage. Prayer is not the challenge for men! It’s the manner in which we pray that is the challenge. You see prayer isn’t just a rambling of words and a few chants directed towards the ceiling. Prayer is a communication channel with God. And like most communication channels there must not be any disturbances to the frequency. We’ve all experienced those annoying instances when we are traveling down a country road and we lose signal! It’s not that we stopped talking, it’s just that the communication line was disrupted. And as Paul gave his commission to prayer, he lays out 2 very specific communication disruptors for men to beware of.

So men, let us pray… lifting up holy hands. This is the first requirement of prayer. Men must have holy hands! Now one may wonder how do we obtain these holy hands? I’m glad you asked! The Bible teaches us in Leviticus 4 that once the priest would make sacrifice he would dip his fingers in the blood of that sacrifice and he would sprinkle the altar seven times.This act would allow the priest to walk into the Holy place and perform the ceremonial duties of the priesthood with “holy hands”. So in order for men to pray with Holy hands, men must be willing to sacrifice! This is a hard concept for most men to grasp. It’s hard because sacrifice still requires loss. It requires us to lose our egos, and to lose our pride! It requires us to lose our self-reliance and self-sufficient attitudes. And if we want our communication channel opened with God, God still responds to sacrifice!

Now interestingly enough, Paul then begins to list the 2 primary prayer challenges.Paul said he would that men would pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

For years my immediate reaction to this passage was to assume that everyman would struggle with anger and doubt. Until I realized, every man doesn’t struggle with anger. Anger isn’t a male issue, it’s a humanity issue. I began to research as best I could into what Paul was really trying to convey to Timothy. The word Paul uses here for wrath is the Greek word org (or-gay) which literally means; desire (as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind), violent passion. Perhaps this word seems familiar? It’s because this word is where we get our English word for orgy. In fact the word itself originated from Greek culture. Now what is fascinating, is that research suggests that this “desire” is resulting in anger issues among men. Men are frustrated, edgy and short tempered because their minds have become battlefields. Paul isn’t speaking of anger per say, Paul is speaking of a battle between the ears! A violent struggle for mental purity.

Perhaps it brings clarity to a scene recorded in the gospels as 9 of 12 disciples fail in their attempts to cast a devil from a small child. As Jesus approaches Jesus rebukes them in Luke 9:41 for being faithless and perverse! Wrath and doubting! These disciples were embarrassed I’m sure by their lack of authority, but the truth is any man who wrestles with the spirit of doubt and perversion will be limited in authority. And it has been my observation over the last few years that the greatest threat to apostolic authority isn’t that men don’t pray! It’s that men are trying to pray with wrath and doubt in their hearts!

Our culture has saturated men with imagery and pornographic material (even if it isn’t advertised as such) that the media can’t even promote Doritos chips without a scantily clad woman! The enemy has created a divide among humanity in which the tactics that are now used to attract the opposite sex are actually attacking the opposite sex! For instance, the stereotypical guy who is a “ladies man” will radiate a vibe of invincibility. He will appear impenetrable and you will begin desire what you don’t know. Women aren’t attracted the same way men are, women are emotional. And women are intrigued by mystery. However men are primarily visual creatures. So what Satan has done is he has moved on men to appear more and more invincible, so that women will attempt to become more and more desirable in order to penetrate that aura of invincibility. They do this by dressing in very revealing, immodest clothing.

But God was already one step ahead of us! In the proceeding verses of 1 Timothy 2, Paul addresses women’s apparel. After he initiates the conversation with men praying, he then proceeds to write these words, “in like manner also, women adorn…” In other words we’re talking about the same thing! We all know that women who dress immodestly are an unfair temptation to men. However, the issue Paul addresses is holiness by committee! Because although women’s dress affects the men’s minds; the men’s minds are effecting the women’s dress! By men being lured by secular definitions of beauty, apostolic women are being forced to conform to the world’s standards of dress in order to capture the attention of men.

Paul is saying, “ladies, the men cannot achieve holiness with you dressed that way!” And “Men, these ladies will never obtain holiness with you thinking that way!” When women are holy, men are holy! And when men are holy, women are holy!

So how do men overcome wrath and doubting (perversion and faithlessness)? The disciples asked this question as well. Jesus, as He always does, gave an answer. “These things come only by prayer and fasting…” Fasting kills the flesh and eliminates the influence of the spirit of perversion! And prayer builds faith and eliminates the influence of the spirit of doubt!

It’s time to restore manhood! It’s time men all across the world began to pray with holy hands! This world needs men who are willing to sacrifice! And it’s time for men to pray without wrath and doubting! God help us to understand the necessity of this principle!

Like those 9 disciples there are needs out there that need our attention! But we will be just as ineffective and just as embarrassed as those 9 were that day. We need a revival of apostolic authority in this world! And the only way that can happen is for men to restore manhood!