Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church; Date: 24 June 2012
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Revelation 10 – He Who Has An Ear
The book of Revelation in the Bible contains letters from Jesus to seven churches and – by sending these letters – Jesus is dealing with concrete circumstances in seven different locations – seven different communities. However – for all of their differences – all of the letters conclude with the same admonition which – this morning – is also an admonition to you – bringing to your attention the most important need in your life. Listen to Jesus’ words – what he said to each and every church:
Revelation 2:7: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelation 2:11: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelation 2:17: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelation 2:29: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelation 3:6: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelation 3:13: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelation 3:22: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Cf. Revelation 1:3; 3:20; 13:9; 22:8,17-18.
What is Jesus saying? Everyone has an ear and most people can hear but – in these letter endings – Jesus is talking about having the kind of ear that can hear words and recognize them as being spoken by the Spirit of God. The difficult challenge – even this morning – is to hear words that are coming out of human mouths – (my mouth now) – and recognize them as the Spirit’s words.
However, this is how God communicates with you and this is how the offer of salvation comes to you. Jesus commissioned his disciples to go out and preach the good news that “repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). One of the early church leaders declared in the Bible – 2 Corinthians 5:20 [CEV]: “We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20 [Literal Translation]: “So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” In God’s design, unless another man or woman is sharing the truth of God with you and you hear the saving message through that person (an ambassador of Christ), you cannot be saved: “ ... And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14).
This is not in dispute and highlights the amazing privilege which we have as mouthpieces of God (see Acts 10). One day the mass evangelist Reinhard Bonnke had the following experience:
“I stood to preach. [This was when the guest-evangelist, who moved in healings and miracles, left him on his own.] I saw the shape of the gospel. It was different this Sunday morning. I had never sensed the message quite like this. When I opened my mouth all timidity was gone. I spoke with an authority I had never known before. Suddenly, the room became charged. The Holy Spirit was confirming the word in the minds and hearts of the people. About midway through my sermon, Dolphin Moses, who was interpreting for me was overcome by the power of the Spirit and fell to the floor.
Everything stopped, except the listening crowd. They waited breathlessly for the next word. I waited for Dolphin to recover. As I waited I was taken away from that place in my mind. It was as if all sounds and sights became muted, and I heard the word that I could never conceive – My word in your mouth is as powerful as My word in My mouth.
I could only take it in by the Spirit. My senses would not go there. There was no question that I was now entering new territory in my relationship with God. This thought would never have occurred to me. It came on the heels of watching Dolphin crumble to the floor as he tried to repeat the words that had just come from my mouth. Something was happening here that only the Spirit could give sense to. My authority in Him was far greater than I had ever imagined. As long as I was in harmony with God’s will, I was to speak things as God spoke them, and to expect to see God’s own results” (Reinhard Bonnke. Living A Life Of Fire. An Autobiography, Orlando: E-R Productions LLC 2009, p241-242).
This is how the word of God comes to you. Someone is preaching or someone is sharing. Then – when you are a Christian yourself – God also speaks through you to other people. What an amazing privilege you have! What power flows from our mouths! God promises: “My word in your mouth is as powerful as My word in My mouth.” [Therefore, don’t be silent. See also 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.]
This is astounding but not in dispute. Nonetheless, many Christians have a reduced understanding of what God might speak through them or to them. Let me explain: There is widespread acceptance that we are to speak the general message of salvation – Ephesians 2:4-5: “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved” – we are to use this general message of salvation and appeal to sinners – make it concrete for them (on a certain day at a certain time) – but – once this is done – once they have heard from God the personal invitation to repent and believe – we – (many Christians, including myself in the past) – think that the mission is accomplished. This is all that ambassadors of Christ do. From now on, God has no need to speak and appeal directly to a person but – from the time of conversion – with enough foundational teachings on God’s commandments and church doctrines – any person and any church can work out the practicalities themselves. They no longer have to hear God speak personal words to them but simply follow the Bible as a manual for living.
I am not sure whether I am communicating clearly. However, look at Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in the Revelation. Are they not strange? What church today would be open to receive such letters from Jesus? Do you think that – here at Living Grace – we would read one of those? I have never been to a single Lutheran pastors’ conference or synod where someone got up with the claim that he was delivering Jesus’ current assessment of our denomination. We study the Bible and dig deep into the teaching of the church but – apart from drawing certain conclusions from our study times – no one ever dared to suggest that they were speaking Jesus’ words and his mind into our denomination.
Certainly – anything like the letters in Revelation would be out of the question. Just imagine the scenario – the manner of delivery of Jesus’ letters to the churches: A man – by the name of John – was doing it tough on a prison island (Patmos). One Sunday – all alone – (who knows he may have been depressed) – he worshipped and then claims to have seen Jesus in a vision – booming with a loud voice, eyes blazing like fire, a double-edged sword coming out of this mouth, bright shining head (Revelation 1:12-16) – then Jesus dictated the seven letters to him and – (further claims) – then was taken up for a tour of heaven where he saw Jesus as a slain lamb and witnessed the future, including the final judgement and the new heaven and the new earth. He heard angels blow trumpets and saw horrendous creatures. Just listen and gage your reaction – Revelation 9:7-11:
The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails with stingers, like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss ...
What would be our reaction to anyone coming to us with this kind of story? I would be cautious and uncertain. (Did he have too much wine – one glass too many?) I would not want to make too much of the revelation because one person can be so easily wrong. Yet, the experiences of John in the Bible were trusted and – even 2000 years later – we still read them and – like this morning – preach on them.
What are we to learn from this? God is still speaking to us and through us. We may be uncomfortable with out-there communications from God – visions and prophetic tours of heaven – but he still entrusts his people with the privilege of his word in their mouths. He keeps speaking to us about day-to-day issues. God is not only personal about salvation. Let me give you a brief summary of how God may speak to us and through us:
· Impressions [Sometimes we get impressions in the form of “gut feeling”. This sense is usually just the witness of the Spirit. People also get impressions in their bodies.]
· God’s still small voice [God speaks most frequently through our thoughts – our flowing thoughts. See 1 Kings 19:11-13.]
· God’s inner audible voice [It sounds like a clear voice, which seems to come from inside you.]
· God’s outer audible voice
· Visions [Mind pictures or open-eye visions]
· Divine revelations [Instant downloads]
· Trances [A dream-like state]
· Angelic visitations
· Holy Spirit flashbacks
· Visitations of the Lord
· Translated in the Spirit [Out of the body experiences, 2 Kings 5:26, 2 Corinthians 12:2-4]
· Transported in the Spirit [The whole person is relocated, Ezekiel 8:3]
This list may be a little scary because it seems to open the door to so much weirdness and crackpot behaviour. “Come to Living Grace where people talk to angels and are into smells and Holy Spirit flashbacks.” Not exactly the reputation we want. However, what is in the Bible is in the Bible and we better come into agreement with God.
Jesus may have used out-there means to deliver letters to the seven churches in Revelation but listen to what he wrote and consider their impact. What do you – what do we – need to hear from him?
Revelation 2:3-6: You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name ... Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen ... If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove you ... But you have this in your favour: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
[Jesus provided a reality check and taught again about top priorities – the first love for him. Works are not as good as love. He warned them about dire consequences and enabled them to make corrections. Then, Jesus pointed out where they were on track. They hated the practices of the Nicolaitans.]
Revelation 2:9-10: I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich ... Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
[Jesus assured them that their outward circumstances did not reflect their inward riches. Then, he foretold imprisonment and persecution to them so that they did not think it strange when it came. Then, he assured them that the persecution would only last for “ten days” – a set time period which was limited by God. He inspired courage to the point of death because there will be eternal life.]
Revelation 2:13-16: I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam [which leads to eating] food sacrificed to idols and . sexual immorality ... Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
[Jesus acknowledged that they were living in a tough environment and suffered the death of one of their church members. He assured them that he knew where they lived but then impressed on them that their tough circumstances were no excuse for false teaching and sin.]
Revelation 2:19-25: I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead.
Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’
[Jesus acknowledged the church’s increased commitment and labour but pointed out his objection to a certain woman and her teaching. The church did wrong tolerating her. This was on the agenda and Jesus forewarned them so that they would recognize his judgement on that woman and her followers to the benefit of all the churches. Then, Jesus relaxed the pressure on the faithful Christians by telling them that – for the moment – they did not have to handle any other issues – any other burden. They did not have to feel guilty about other growth areas.]
Revelation 3:1-3: I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
[Jesus provided a reality check for the church and challenged them to wake up to their deadness. They were in the process of losing their faith and works of obedience. He warned them about his coming at an unforeseen time.]
Revelation 3:8-10: I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
[Jesus encouraged this church that suffered persecution. He would provide an open door, vindication and no further trials.]
Revelation 3:15-20: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
[Jesus again provided a reality check for the church and impressed on them that their lack of passion for him made them poor. They needed much from him but he was at the door knocking waiting to come in and eat with them.]
[In the preaching, make a selection of the seven letters.] What did Jesus’ letters provide? Answer: reality checks, insights into Jesus’ priorities, assurances that Jesus knew them and that they were not alone, encouragement with promises of rewards, insights into Jesus’ next steps for the church’s preparedness (persecution or judgement or – as in another letter – an “open door”), relaxing the faithful ones, bringing changes to the churches.
One of the letters mentioned a church member that was recognized by some as a prophetess. How were the churches to know whom to believe – John or the prophetess (or any other prophets)? Once a letter from Jesus is delivered by a person to you and the church, how do you receive the words?
The Bible clearly commands us to test all prophecies – all letters that have supposedly come from Jesus:
1 John 4:1: Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-22: Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.
1 Corinthians 14:29: Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.
However, how do you test prophetic letters like the ones in the book of Revelation? Besides trusting John who had an excellent track record of spiritual leadership among the churches, this is not as difficult as it seems because prophecies usually prophesy to you what you already know. God is speaking to his people all of the time and he keeps speaking to you about your life and he keeps speaking to Living Grace about our condition before him:
John 16:13: But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
1 John 2:27: As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
Therefore, when another prophet comes, he simply picks up on what we have been hearing – or should have been hearing – all along. None of the prophecies to the churches contain anything new. Yes, there are some warnings about future consequences and upcoming persecution but the core messages are basic:
You have nothing unless you love Jesus. You may suffer affliction and poverty but your faith in Jesus makes you rich. Be faithful. Service and perseverance are wonderful but do not excuse compromise – false teaching – especially when it leads to idolatry and sexual immorality.
For all of John’s visions and “outrageous experiences” of Jesus, the letters to the churches are basic – leading them back to sound foundations. Anyone could have picked up on the main points. Jesus would have been talking to them about their issues for a long time. These prophecies contain no “secret knowledge” (see Revelation 2:24) and – in case the churches had no awareness of doing wrong – they would not struggle in discerning whether the words applied to them. Jesus’ perspective was straightforward and he simply pointed out what should have been obvious from the beginning. From that angle, the intensity of John’s prophetic experiences only serves to highlight the importance and urgency of otherwise basic corrections. They do not cast doubt on the words but underline them.
Please, this is important: When you receive a prophetic word, (most of the time) make sure that it resonates with you because you already know that it is true. God has already spoken to you about his plans for you and his thoughts about you. Saul in the Bible was a shy young lad who suffered from low self-esteem – conscious of belonging to a lowly family in the kingdom. When he became the centre of attention, he would go into hiding (1 Samuel 10:22). He did not expect much from life but the prophet Samuel anointed him to be king and the Bible reveals that – notwithstanding shyness and low self-esteem – Samuel only confirmed what was already in Saul’s heart – put there by God:
1 Samuel 9:15-19: Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed this to Samuel: “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.” When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the Lord said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.” Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?” “I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will send you on your way and will tell you all that is in your heart.”
When God speaks to you through another person, (many a time) the words are already in your heart. You may not have dared to believe in the promises – there seem to be no open doors – but God has already been stirring you about what the prophet is confirming. God is speaking to you all of the time. Usually – you do not need a prophet to come with new information. [Consider the example of the prophetic words for Living Grace from the Solomon Island visitors and Suzette Hattingh. We already knew them.]
[Before I make another point about testing the prophetic words, I may come back to the admonition that is in all of the seven letters: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” We are listening as individual persons – work out for ourselves whether certain persons are used by God to communicate his words to us – but we are not listening just to prophetic words for ourselves or our community. We become aware of Jesus’ other words for other churches so that we learn about his character and leadership in the concrete circumstances of our times. See also Revelation 2:23 and Hebrews 5:14.]
Another test for prophetic words is your reaction to them. Do the words agitate you or do they bring you peace? There have been times when I was depressed about the state of our church and then heard – on occasion – someone give a prophecy of God’s displeasure and wrath. These words usually crushed me further but – in time – I recognized them as words which did not originate with him. Even when God convicts us of sin, the words will have an uplifting effect. We may be shocked at first – we may be confronted – but we will recognize his love in the discipline. God leads proud people to repentance and wounded pride may hurt people but it is a good pain – flowing from the love of God and we can recognize his love. God – on the other hand – is not in the business of inflicting more wounds on those that are already feeling the burden of their sin. He has no interest in leading anyone from depression to despair. For those doing it tough, there is going to be encouragement. God and his kingdom are all about peace and prophetic words which come from him are also about working peace and encouragement in us:
Colossians 3:15: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Philippians 4:7: Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Romans 14:17: For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:3: But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.
God speaks through his peace and I want to illustrate this further by giving you the life-lesson which God taught a young man (Henry Gruver) and thus prepared him for decades of ministry in many nations:
The New Year, 1961; An Excerpt From: “CROSS + WISE – The Journal of a Walker”; By: Henry Gruver
During the same evening I made a vow for 1961 that began one of the most important phases of my life. The Lord is still building on the principles of walking and praying that began to be planted in my life that night, as I vowed, “Lord, one night a week I will take 100 gospel tracts into downtown Phoenix, and not come home until I have personally handed them out.”
I enthusiastically started fulfilling that vow on January 1, 1961. By the end of February, I was walking the streets of Skid Row and passing out tracts as I promised the Lord that I would; but I was very discouraged. My tracts wound up blowing about, getting soaked by the rain, and tossed aside as common trash. I cried out to the Lord and asked for something different to happen. What I was doing was not producing fruit for the Lord – just jobs for the trash collectors.
The Holy Spirit challenged me with a very simple statement, “When you walk and give out tracts, only walk where and when you have full peace; and only give out tracts in the same peace.” [“It will be accompanied by a song and you will hold the song.”]
I understood that to mean that if a question of whether I should keep going one way, or another came to my mind, I should just stop and try the other way. If peace and a song returned to my heart, it meant I should keep going in the same way I had been going. If peace and the song in my heart left me, it meant I should stop, and try another direction. That elementary teaching was to be the beginning of the stories and principles that I am finally putting down in this book.
With that in mind, I began to walk the streets of Phoenix with the peace of God in my heart and a song on my lips. That first night as I began to cross a street, heading toward a group of people, both my song and my peace left me. So, I turned around and started back to where I had come from. Then people across the other side of the road, to my left, caught my eye. As I headed that way I lost peace again. It was time to turn back, straight over to Washington Street. I couldn’t see any people in that direction; but I had extreme peace, as well as humming a song again. I was thinking, “I’m not seeing any people to whom I can give tracts; but I will continue to follow this peace.”
At the next intersection I went through the same thing and wound up going in a leftward direction again, thus completing one half square block; but giving out no tracts or words of testimony. Basically, I went through the same actions at the next corner. I came in contact with no people, nor did I give out any tracts; and I had now completed three-quarters of a square block. Still, the peace ruled in my heart and directed my feet.
I turned to go to the right where people were walking, but I lost my song. By this time I thought, “Lord, is this really You? Or, is this just my mind?” I realized that was a question about the direction I was going, so , I turned around – and the peace returned. By this time I was heading for the same mid-block area where the Holy Spirit first challenged me to walk in peace. When I had returned to that very spot, I looked to the left and saw a tavern door. On the door was a sign, “Minors Under 21 Forbidden!!” Since I was only 18, I didn’t qualify to go in there. I made an about face and started across the street, where four people were just standing and talking outside a tavern. The Holy Spirit again spoke to my heart with these words, “You are about to walk outside of the crosswalk; that is jay-walking and against the law.” “Whoops!” I said, “Sorry, Lord,” and turned around, going back up on the sidewalk, turning right and losing peace. So I turned around and walked in great peace – until a few steps later when the peace again left me.
Here I was – just stopped. I couldn’t cross the street to where the people were – that would be “jay-walking”. I looked to the right and saw the same tavern door, with the sign prohibiting me from entering; but as I turned my body toward it, the peace returned. I said to myself, “Lord, I’m just going to stand here in this peace until You tell me to leave or something happens.”
At that moment, a big husky, bearded man came out the door, cursing at the top of his voice – right up in my face. He was swinging his fists past my ears and was very angry. I just stood there smiling while he kept spitting in my face and loudly cursing. He couldn’t seem to hit me; and this made him even angrier.
This went on for some time as I stood there praying for his precious soul to be saved. From the corner of my eye I noticed quite a crowd was being drawn. I didn’t want to turn completely around to look, because he would have put his fist in my nose, as he was already fanning my ears. He was about my height; and when I looked off to the side of his left ear, I saw a man next to the tavern door making his way toward me. Our eyes met and then he began wiping the tears from his face. The bully let out one final grunt, turned around and elbowed his way back into the tavern. This left me with a crowd of people, which made me think, “I can easily give out all my tracts now, in a few minutes;” all the while making my way to the man who was wiping his tears and sobbing.
When I reached him, I asked, “What is your name?”
“Alex”, he replied.
“Alex”, I acknowledged, “Alex, do you know Jesus loves you?”
Hearing that he went straight down on his knees, loudly repenting and saying, “Oh, Jesus, I know You love me. Thank You. Thank You for forgiving me and loving me.
Well, he was doing such a good job of talking to the Lord, that I figured he didn’t need me; so I stood up. Next to me was a tall Pima Indian man, vigorously slapping his face, saying, “Indian man don’t cry. Indian man don’t cry.”
I repeated the question I had just asked of Alex, “What is your name?”
“Manuel, Jesus loves you; and those are good tears. Don’t be ashamed to cry.”
Through his sobs he explained, “I have done much wrong; but when I see this man finding God like that, it makes me cry.”
“Manuel”, I said, “Why don’t you kneel down beside Alex and pray like he is praying?”
Manuel and Alex were in good hands; so I turned to start giving out my tracts to the crowd. About that time a police paddy wagon came up with lights flashing and an officer pressing his way through, gruffly asking, looking in my direction, “What’s going on here?” He continued, none too happily, “These people are blocking the road and cars can’t get through! You’ll have to go around the corner so we can get the road cleared.”
The crowd began moving down around the corner; and I cheerfully rejoiced while giving out the rest of my tracts. After witnessing the Bully, Alex, and Manuel, people were actually reading with interest what I had to offer. Others just stood by, exclaiming, “This is God! This is God!”
[Henry handed out all of the 100 tracts. Police man queries Henry about the fight that was supposed to be happening. He said: “Kid, what are you doing here? What are these tracts? It is twelve minutes to 10.30pm. If you are on your own without an adult, I will take you in.” Henry must have had thirty guys say: “He’s with me.” He looked at me and all of the guys and he smiles and he says: “They are not with you and you are not with them.” He says: “Look, I don’t know what’s going on here.” These two guys were still crying over there. I tried to give him a tract but he said that he was a Christian: “Give it to somebody that needs it.” He says: “Take your revival meeting down round the corner so that you are not blocking the road. But you gotta be off these streets in twelve minutes unless one of these men will be really with you.” Alex, the man with no shirt and no shoes, said: “I am with him. He is with me. I am 43.” The officer said: “This is okay. Go ahead. Have your revival.”]
The crowd thinned out and people went about their business, giving me a chance to talk to Alex. He began to relate who he was and how he had gotten to this place at this time. He told me that he lived in Los Angeles and had gotten off work after payday. He and some buddies went out for a beer; and they talked him into coming over to Phoenix with them. When his money ran out, he woke up and found himself in an alley with no wallet and no buddies in sight. His shame kept him from heading straight back home to his waiting family. He became more and more depressed as he walked around asking about his friends; but no one knew anything about them.
When he got to the tavern with the sign on the door, “Minors Under 21 Forbidden!!” he found a man who seemed to have a heart to listen to his troubles. He bought Alex a drink; but left when the big burly fellow came in and sat down beside them. The big guy also offered Alex a drink, and then he began gulping down one after another and getting louder and more abusive by the minute.
Suddenly he just got up and headed out the door, yelling as he went. The people who were still inside the tavern could hear him outside and began, one by one, to go out and investigate what the commotion was all about. Soon there were only two people left inside – the bartender and Alex.
As Alex continued telling me his story, he explained that he had already determined he was not leaving that place. Upon waking in the alley and realizing the seriousness of his position, he had cried out to the Lord, “If there is any way that you can still love me, please send someone to tell me, ‘Jesus loves you.’” In his depression, he had decided that if no one came to him before the tavern closed that night, he would go over to the railroad tracks and run in front of a train to kill himself.
The bartender wanted to go out and investigate; but couldn’t leave his post with Alex still sitting there; so he said, “I’ve already lost my paying customers and you don’t have any money; let’s go and see what’s happening out there.” Alex made his way outside, walking along the wall, where he could see the bully beside me swinging his fists around. No one seemed to be fighting with him; so he moved over to try and see better. That was when he saw my smiling face, and the man trying, unsuccessfully, to hit me. When my smile was directed to him he couldn’t hold back his tears any longer; because he realized that God had indeed sent me to tell him, “Alex, Jesus loves you.”
Alex was helped financially to get back to Los Angeles [and his wife came to the Lord]; and I took Manuel back to the Indian reservation and prayed with his sister and mother. Praise God for His patience to teach us His ways of goodness to mankind!
More of Henry Gruver’s testimony from one of his talks: ... James 3:12-18: “Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
Very simply stated, the wisdom from below is filled with envy, strife, confusion and every evil work. It is earthly, sensual, devilish. The wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, gentle, easily approached, without partiality and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of peace brings forth righteousness or right doing. This little portion of the book of James has been my companion for many years on about every continent on the face of this earth. I have used that portion in so many circumstances that I could give you testimonies after testimonies ... That peace that surpasses all understanding, flooding your hearts and your minds, will take you to places that you would not normally go. It will bring you to needy people that you would not normally confront ...
[E.g.: I was in Kansas, had a hotel room, then the Holy Spirit disturbed me and made me leave, I was tired – very tired, 1.30am the Holy Spirit woke me up and said: “Get ready to leave and go to the radio station.” I was to be with some people on an interview. I headed over. I didn’t know where I was going. I had a phone number but that time in the morning, the AM station wasn’t open so I couldn’t call anyone to tell me where to go. So I sought out a place at the business area – not much going on at 2am. I finally found a little gas station. I found a young man in this gas station, asked for a phone book to get an address. Do you know where this radio station is? “Yes – this is one of those religious stations, isn’t it?” “Yes, it is.” “Oh, okay.” He called and there was somebody there. He got directions and passed them on and said: “Would you mind talking to me for a little while?” I said: “Not at all.” And he begins to pour out his heart. He begins to tell how he was deeply depressed and considering taking his life ... [Eighth time that Henry was directed to stop a suicide.] ... By the time, I left there at 5am this morning, I was crying and thanking the Lord for waking me up. A young man came to Jesus. What is sleep for the value of a soul? But I left there for the radio station and I got another 4.5 hours of sleep. At the radio station, they wondered who was sleeping in his car but that was all right.
The peace of God will lead you and will guide you, will direct you and speak to you. The peace of God will give you what you need to be equipped to minister. One of the principles that he began to teach me is that while the person is cursing me and is threatening me – and I had so many incidents where people threatened to kill me – the first thing I do, I start communing with me Father: “I thank you that you brought me here. I thank you for what you are about to do.” Isn’t that what Acts 1:8 says? ...
When the person confronts me and they are aggressive – they are abusive – I began to pray for that person immediately: “What is my purpose for being here? What do you want me to do?” I don’t take it personally. I am a witness. (See Jeremiah 4:14; Colossians 3:3; Proverbs 16:3; Micah 4:12; Proverbs 23:7; John 15:5; Romans 6:2,6-7.) ...]
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” God is speaking to us all of the time and there are people that will come to you – and us as a church – with dreams, visions, impressions and out-there prophetic experiences. Listen to them. Hear and listen whether the Spirit of God is speaking through them. Are they confirming what you have already heard from God? Do the words – even when you are challenged – give you peace? Make sure you hear from God because he loves you. His words strengthen you, encourage you and comfort you. Jesus knows us and lets us know. Have the kind of ear that hears. Amen.