That he no longer should live the rest of his time in
the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
1 PETER 4:2
We need to understand, as the body of Christ, that God has a perspective from which every arena of our lives operates, whether individually or corporately. It’s called “time.” From the operation of that one word, lives can move forward with God or stumble. Nations can advance spiritually or regress. It all depends upon our understanding and cooperation with the timing of God.
One of the greatest needs Christians have involves understanding and operating within God’s spiritual timing. As soon as we are born again, the sensitivity to the timing of God should operate in our lives. Every moment from that point forward is meant to be lived according to the will of the Father.
The world has made an attempt to harness time. They have created time management seminars and have tried to teach millions how to save time and use it more effectively. I am not against time management by any means, but some have become so time consumed, they have allowed their values to deteriorate as long as it saves some time.
Earth time usually means “rush.” We have fast-food, rush-hour traffic, instant this and instant that. People in the natural fight with time. It frustrates them and produces anger. They don’t like the pace of it. They either want things to slow down or to speed up. To the world, time is an enemy. Time becomes our friend in the spirit realm. People who live in the Spirit know how to work and walk with time.
God introduced His timing to us from the very first: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. —Genesis 1:1
That first verse in the Bible introduces us to God’s timing. Everything He did was based on timing. When He created the universe, He made each part of it on a certain day, at a certain time. He formed every part of the galaxy to operate in His timing. First, He created the earth and everything surrounding it. Then, God created all of the plants, fish, animals, and birds. Finally, in His perfect timing, He created man. At this point, all of God’s creation walked harmoniously with Him.
But in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve sinned and ate of the forbidden fruit, they fell from the grace of God and began operating out of their own timing. They lost their ability to hear and follow God without a special endowment from heaven. They no longer had the ability to operate in God’s timing on their own. Every generation since then has seen only trials and troubles unless God has intervened.
All through the Old Testament days, God gave information to the people concerning Himself through the prophets. He still provided them with the ability to know Him and serve Him. The understanding of spiritual times, even in those days, came from being committed to God.
One of the things that Jesus came and produced for us at Calvary was the ability to perceive and regain the correct timing of God. By receiving His redemption and walking in the Spirit, we can fine-tune our spirits to know when to be in the right place at the right time. God builds His character within us so that our decisions can line up with His will, decisions that will position us strategically in the proper season.
When you live in the Spirit, time is lovely. Time is a blessing. Spirit-filled people can walk in step with God and work the works of God without stress or strain. They understand God’s timing and that time is on their side. Time means stability and nurturing. Time matures and heals. It brings understanding and abilities. Time expands and deepens our insight. When we understand God’s timing, we walk with patience. As a result, we have the ability to possess our whole man—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Walking securely in the timing of God alleviates all fear and doubt. Godly timing produces courage, boldness, security, and strength.
God’s clock is always ticking but does not resemble the human clock. If we follow the human clock, many would say we’re about to run out of time.
Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?
Job is the oldest book in the Bible. By reading the statement he made, we can see the wisdom and understanding Job had. He lived long before Moses came on the scene, and still he knew that those who truly know God know His ways and His timing.
Life in the spirit realm has a timing to it just as life in the natural realm. If you stay close to the Lord, you will be able to move according to His seasons. It is important for us to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. We must learn that it’s not always right to move into action just because it seems like the thing to do. This kind of obedience only comes from prayer and intercession. Prayer alerts your spirit to the commands of heaven. It causes your spirit man to take precedence over your mind, resulting in the right action at the right time.
If you will walk strongly in the Spirit, you will be able to move according to God’s clock in everything you do. You will know how much time to spend with certain people, when to build relationships, when to speak, and when to withhold. You will know when to move out on the plan of God for your family, your church, your community, and your nation.
And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand. —Mark 14:41-42
Jesus knew the time had come to fulfill the greatest work ever to be done—the redemption for all mankind at Calvary.
You don’t have to miss the correct timing of God in your life. Some people miss the accurate time to enter the ministry. They know God has called, but their time is not yet come because of preparation purposes, and they launch out too soon. Many have aborted their entire ministries because they gave God no time to properly equip them to handle the trouble they encountered.
A wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment. —Ecclesiastes 8:5
We must be able to know when to go and when to stay, when to speak and when to remain silent. It is my goal to accurately hit the timing of God so heaven can reap the benefit of a full and bountiful harvest. It is the will of God that we not only be sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit, but that we operate effectively in them. Time is designed by God to be one of our dearest friends.
After you attain your goal, spiritual hunger always reaches for more. I have tried to imagine what the things of God will be like in the next move of His Spirit. What will happen to people when the glory hits? How will I react? The glory is just now beginning to hit a little here and there. Yet even now, people are being turned away from meetings because there is no room. Ministries are beginning to explode with growth.
I believe my ministry is beginning to explode because at nine and ten years of age I was saying, “I want more of God. I hunger after God. I am thirsty for God’s living water. I am thirsty for God’s knowledge. I am hungry for the things of God.” The Bible promises that you shall be filled, yet the hunger for God never comes to an end—it goes on forever. To go to the next realm of glory, you must be filled with the one where you are.
Many people get saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit, believe in healing, know the Word works, and they are happy, but they stay on the same level of glory, which results in a spiritual bloating, not spiritual growth. They do not look for a new realm of glory because they are content where they are. While they are feasting in one realm of glory, their eyes should be looking for the next realm of glory. That is the way they need to be to flow with the Spirit of God.
True spiritual hunger will cause you to devour the Word of God and go back for more. Spiritual hunger recognizes real spiritual food. You will recognize the genuine, and you will recognize the counterfeit. Spiritual hunger will cause the things in the natural realm to become less significant in your life.
The Russians know that if the people are hungry, they will be easy to rule. Once they bring food, the starving people will do anything the authorities say and think whatever the rulers want them to think. A starving people can be the most militant, mean, and successful force on the earth. If we are desirous of the things of God, we must be very militant in getting them. That means we will break down the doors of darkness to get the true light.
Roberts Liardon tells us that Elmer entered his parents’ house through the front door, walked straight down the hall to Oral’s bedroom and said, “Oral, get up. God is going to heal you!” Oral was too weak to stand up on his own, so Elmer and Ellis lifted Oral’s emaciated body—bed mattress, and all—and laid it in the backseat of the car. Ellis and Claudius excitedly climbed up front with Elmer, believing that God was going to do another miracle for Oral that night. As Oral lay in the backseat listening to Elmer tell of the healings he had seen, his own faith for healing began to grow.
Gradually, the voices in the front seat seemed to fade away, and Oral heard a new voice as clearly as he had heard his brother speaking moments before. Deep in his soul, he knew that this new voice, although unfamiliar to him, was the voice of God. “Son, I am going to heal you,” He said, “and you are to take my healing power to your generation.”
These unforgettable words would be emblazoned on Oral’s heart and define his ministry for a lifetime. At that moment, Oral understood not just that he would be healed, but also why God desired to heal him: he was to reveal the truth of God’s healing power to a generation of people—and it would happen in ways he could never have imagined in that dark car on the way to a small town Oklahoma tent meeting.
There were few things in life that Lester Sumrall enjoyed more than a challenge. When he returned to the United States from his overseas work, he was uncertain of the direction in which he was to go next. It was the turbulent decade of the 1960s, but Lester knew that the Lord wanted to do great things in the United States and beyond to reach others with the gospel message. A fellow pastor who did not possess the same vision for victory greeted Lester with these words: “Sumrall, you’re over fifty, and you’re finished.” But Lester didn’t believe it. He went straight to the Lord to ask His opinion on the subject.
Roberts Liardon tells us that the Lord reminded Lester of the vision He had given him several years earlier before the Sumrall family left Manila. When Lester returned to the U.S., he was to get the message of Christ out to America through television. Although Lester had little idea where to even begin, he knew it was God’s voice, and so he began to move. At the time, all he owned was a small house and ten acres of land in South Bend.
A series of miracles provided the loan and other necessary funds to build a world evangelism building on his property. A little overwhelmed by the idea of a television station, Lester began by purchasing an FM radio channel and went on the air with the gospel. In addition, he organized a new church in South Bend, called Bethel Temple. It was an independent, full-gospel congregation of about three hundred members.
Next, the Sumralls began a ministry called World Harvest Homes to orphanages in different parts of the world. Shortly after this, Lester aunched World Harvest Bible College to prepare young ministers for missionary work around the world. Rather than marking an end to Lester’s ministry, the 1960s were years filled with the growth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When it was time for Lester and Howard to begin their journey across the vast wasteland of Siberia and eastern Russia toward Europe, they had to apply for special permission to cross through Russia as ministers of the gospel. One condition of their permission forbade them to share the gospel in any way during their journey. The train they traveled on was full of suspicious-looking policemen and unhappy citizens. It was a long, cold look at the results of communism in that part of the world.
Finally, they crossed the border into Poland, more than a year after they’d left Australia for the shores of Asia. What an astonishing year of victory they’d had! The message of Christ’s love on the cross and in the empty tomb had been shared with so many.
Roberts Liardon tells us that in Poland, Lester and Howard found a greater thirst for the good news of Jesus Christ than they’d seen in any other nation they had visited. The Polish government frowned on the established church, so they were not permitted to conduct any large meetings. But, with each meeting held in a small church, people came from miles around to hear them.
At one Bible conference, some believers had walked sixty-five miles in frigid temperatures to hear the message of encouragement and hope from the Word. More than a hundred of them slept on the mission floor that night on a thin layer of straw. They were hungering for the fresh Word of God and the move of the Holy Spirit, as in the days of Pentecost.
Throughout the cities of Poland, Lester took note of how many Jewish people were living and working in the country—some in menial jobs as street sweepers, others as owners of the largest factories in town. They were usually dressed in orthodox clothing and were established in small communities of their own. Little could he have imagined the horrific fate that awaited many of these Polish Jews in the next few years at the hands of the Nazis.
In the vision, he rose with the Holy Spirit above the crowded highway and traveled to the end of it. What he saw next was fearful and life changing. Before him was a “raging, bottomless inferno that looked like a blazing volcano. This vast procession of people marched to the edge and then fell screaming into the eternal flames. As they neared the pit and saw their fate, they struggled in vain, trying to push back against the unrelenting march of those behind them. The great surging river of humanity swept them over into the abyss.”
What a horrifying scene! Lester saw the screaming masses tearing their faces and clawing the air as they tried to save themselves from their fate. He saw the world descending into hell. God’s words came clearly into Lester’s mind and shocked him to his very core.
“You are responsible for those who are lost,” the Lord said to him. “Me, Lord? I don’t know these people. I’m not to blame,” he answered hastily.
Roberts Liardon tells us that the Lord’s response to Lester was quick and sure; once again, it was a Scripture verse—Ezekiel 3:18: “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand.”
Protesting his innocence to the Lord, Lester looked down to see an image of blood running through his fingers in a continual flow. God was serious. There were millions lost for all eternity throughout the world, and Lester Sumrall’s call from the Lord was to go and tell them the amazing truth of God’s love.
Roberts Liardon tells us that Jeffreys wanted to bring his plea for local church government to the people, but he was no longer permitted to speak in any Elim churches. So, he set up meetings in other churches to inform the Elim congregations of his side of the story.
In the early 1920s, the pastor of Horbury Chapel in Kensington had invited Stephen Jeffreys to hold a campaign there. It was so successful that local newspapers referred to it as “Bethesda of the West End” due to the miracles that occurred. Soon afterward, however, Horbury’s pastor wrote against Pentecostalism, especially speaking in tongues, which caused Stephen not to return there. By 1930, the congregation at Horbury had declined markedly and was in disarray. George put up the money for a third party to buy the church, afraid they would not sell to one named Jeffreys. By putting up his own money, he kept the building in a separate trust, apart from the Elim movement. Jeffreys and several other members of the Revival Party were appointed trustees of the building, including Darragh, McWhirter, and Robert Tweed.
After his departure from the Elim movement, Jeffreys began a new denomination that he called Bible Pattern Church Fellowship. He did this primarily for two reasons: (1) to keep some of his young ministers out of the war; and (2) to continue to build a platform on which to formulate a better church government. Between 1940 and 1941, twenty-five of the 161 Elim ministers left the Elim movement to join Jeffreys. Most brought their congregations with them. At first, some of these congregations remained in their church buildings. However, the Executive Council took a forceful position on the ownership of all church property.
In a decision that would later be seen as extremely reactionary, a group of Elim leaders, including Phillips, traveled to the Portsmouth Elim Church, led by Pastor Robert Mercer, who was present at the first Elim organizational meeting in 1915. The Elim leaders marched into the church early one Sunday morning as the service was beginning and demanded that the pastor and congregation leave the building. One of the Elim leaders walked to the pulpit and began to conduct a church service. Pastor Mercer “ran down the church aisle shouting, ‘These men have come to disturb our worship, follow me!’” and led the congregation out of the building.
“Principal Jeffreys prayed and something happened. I felt as if someone lifted something right off me. My whole body was charged with new life and power. My head clicked back into place; I was healed! My mother looked on in amazement. I wanted to sing, to shout, to dance. When I reached home, I ran up the steps; I could not take the time to walk! I was healed on April 11, 1927. My doctor could find no trace of tuberculosis. My back was perfectly straight and I was quite well!” Eighteen months after Edith was saved and healed, she received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the power to witness to others about the marvelous thing God had done for her. She continued to spread the word, “When all others fail, He never fails!”
Roberts Liardon tells us that later in the spring of 1927, Jeffreys’ campaign moved on to Southampton. At first, the meetings were small, but they soon grew in size and recorded numbers of salvations. Miss Florence Munday experienced an outstanding miracle at the Southampton meetings. She was raised from her wheelchair at a service in Wesleyan Central Hall in May 1927. Her stirring testimony increased the faith of many.
Fourteen years earlier, Florence had fallen and hurt her knee. Tuberculosis had settled into the injury, and she had been unable to stand or walk since that time. In addition, since early childhood, she had suffered from a skin disease that required her to cover her arms completely with bandages to protect the broken, bleeding skin. Doctors had designed a number of different casts for her knee, but to no avail; each one still left her writing in pain. They had finally decided that the only answer was to amputate her leg, and so completely that an artificial limb would be out of the question.
Branham jumped at the opportunity to be mentored by the older, wiser evangelist, who had forty years of experience in the healing ministry. Beginning in 1948, Fred Bosworth traveled with the Branham team and taught about faith for salvation and divine healing. He spoke at the daytime meetings so that Branham would have time to rest and have enough energy to conduct the larger healing meetings, which were held in the evening. Joining them in the ministry was W. Ern Baxter, a young evangelist from Canada, who served as Branham’s traveling manager and preached daytime messages during the campaign, as well. The reports of Branham’s successful healing meetings were written by Gordon Lindsay in the magazine The Voice of Healing. As a result, Branham’s reputation as a Pentecostal grew rapidly.
Roberts Liardon tells us that Fred Bosworth was still very sharp-witted and solid in his biblical presentation of the Word. In 1950, Branham was challenged to a debate on divine healing by W. E. Best, the pastor of a large Baptist church in Houston, Texas. Best believed that miracles and divine healing had ceased, and that the healing evangelists were frauds. Branham declined the challenge, but seventy-three-year-old F. F. Bosworth accepted it enthusiastically. He was an adept apologist and welcomed the opportunity to spread the truth about God’s healing promises in the atonement.
The debate was covered closely by the local newspapers. During the debate, Bosworth presented the scriptural evidence he had outlined years earlier in Christ the Healer, including healing in Christ’s atonement and one of the redemptive names of God, Jehovah-Rapha. Then, he appealed to the “living witnesses” who were present, asking them to stand if they had been healed by God. The Houston Press reported, “When the Rev. Best made a point, the Rev. Bosworth would rush to the microphone on stage and dramatically ask those in the audience who had been cured through faith to stand. Each time hundreds would rise. ‘How many of you are Baptists?’ the Rev. Bosworth shouted. At least 100 stood up.”
At, the annual State Encampment (Pentecostal) of the Col. people at Hearne, the people built a brush arbor, (continuing from the end of their tent) to accommodate the white people of Hearne who wanted to attend the camp meeting. This full gospel had never been preached to the white people at Hearne and besides filling this brush arbor, automobiles and carriages and many white people standing surrounded the tent to listen to the preaching and testimonies of the Col. people. Many of the white citizens became deeply interested in the teaching and not wanting to seek the Baptism at a colored altar. The white people urged the Col. leaders to send for some white Pentecostal teacher to come and help them into the Baptism. And so to accommodate these white citizens, I was sent for and of course went, to the campground and on Saturday night preached to two large audiences, one white and one black. God gave me unusual liberty and blessing in teaching and explaining the truths for which this movement stands, both audiences receiving the truth with great enthusiasm.
I was tired and thought I wouldn’t preach that night but the people wanted me to and then God anointed me for it. As I was on my way to spend the night with another white preacher who had also come that day we were attacked by several roughs, one of whom had a revolver with which (as he and the others cursed us for coming there as they said to put them on a level with the dirty ) they seemed determined to shoot us both down at once.
Roberts Liardon tells us that God was wonderfully with me and with perfect coolness, I told them that, I was doing God’s will the very best I knew how, was ready to die and would offer no resistance to anything God permitted them to do, (these are not, the exact, words), but if they had no objections I would like to speak a few words of explanation before they shot us. At first they refused me this privilege, but finally said I could say what I wanted to. I then told them that I came with no thought or desire of pushing them on a level with anyone but, that it, was the white people who wanted me to come to help them, that I had done the very best, I knew and was willing to take anything God permitted.