A major part of ministry, is to provide a safe place where people can practice their gifts. Jesus, not only ministered in the power and demonstration of the Spirit, but He train, equipped and released His disciples to do the works that He did. Jesus is our model for discipleship who “Began to both do and teach (Acts 1:1) telling us that we are to go and do likewise.
In the Old testament, under the tutorship of the Prophet Samuel and Elijah, there were Schools of the prophets. Those who attended were referred to as the “Sons of the Prophets.” Under the guidance of these renowned prophets, they often traveled as a company of prophets practicing in their prophetic gift.
In his prophecy to Saul, Samuel tells him, “…And it shall come to pass you shall meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with musical instruments, and they shall prophesy. (10) And when they came to the hill, behold a company of prophets met him, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he prophesied among them (1 Samuel 10:5 & 10).
We believe that practicing the gifts should take place in an atmosphere of love and a culture of honor and spiritual authority. I have learned when we provide the opportunity for people to minister in their gifts, the Holy Spirit anoints them.
We call this act of stepping out in faith to engage with the Holy Spirit, “Activation.” As people step out in faith to “act” as doers of the word, the Holy Spirit anoints them. We shall cover the ministry of activation in more detail later. For now, I would like to share the journey that enabled Eastgate Ministries to fulfill the Ephesians 4:11 mandate to equip, train and deploy believers for ministry.
In the Beginning
The year was 1988. I entered the host hotel to attend a prophetic conference, when I noticed the aroma of the spiritual atmosphere. It was filled with the presence of the Spirit of Prophecy. It was energizing and refreshing. I felt right at home.
I began musing about my recent experience. The Lord had drafted me into the School of the Spirit. I found the training at home just as rigorous and demanding as the Marine Corps boot camp I attended. The Lord, as my drill instructor, trained me in the weapons of war that are mighty in God, especially the power of His love. It was an endless journey of discovery of my call in Christ, identity and spiritual gifts. Through the process, I embraced God’s deep love and His passion for His people to develop and grow in their spiritual gifts.
You may know what the Bible says about spiritual gifts, without operating in them. As a former flight instructor, I met those who read the flight manual that thought they knew how to fly. These “hangar pilots” were more intent on showing you what they knew about flying, without ever flying an airplane. Likewise, I met those who knew the Bible and could tell me about spiritual gifts, without operating in them.
It is written, “As we have received the gift, minister the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
Jesus taught the gospel of the Kingdom and demonstrated its authority in the power of the Spirit. To be like Christ is to do the works that He did. As the above Scripture states, we are to minister in our gifts “one to another.” With passion, I began the quest to operate in the gifts as a good steward of the manifold grace of God. The question remained, “What are the pathways that bridge the gap from where we are, to operating in the gifts as able ministers of the Spirit?
Awakening the Gifts
As the prophetic conference began, Dr. Bill Hamon stepped into the pulpit. His message was “Hearing the voice of God.” Hungry to learn, I intently listened. Bill exhorted, “God speaks in many ways. One way is through inner visions. Just as God spoke in visions to the Old Covenant saints, He also speaks this way today to New Testament Believers.”
Bill went on to share about still pictures that we see in our mind. These pictures by the Spirit are brief in duration and are usually symbolic in nature. They can trigger a prophetic word for someone. After laying a foundation giving Biblical examples and sharing how God speaks this way, Bill declared it was time to “activate.”
“Now” Bill said, “Be still for a few minutes and wait upon the Lord for a picture. My response was not very positive. I was comfortable and familiar with how I prophesied, which was to open my mouth and God would fill it. Why would I need to receive pictures? Without any expectations, I closed my eyes.
Then it happened. I had an inner vision. I saw a picture! I was so amazed I quickly forgot what the picture was. It didn’t matter. Through Bill’s means of training I had been “activated.” In doing so, the Spirit awakened an aspect of my prophetic gift, which is hearing from the Lord through inner visions. Today, when I minister, I often see internal pictures or a moving scene that contains a “story line” of transpiring events.
Returning home, the relentless training of the Spirit continued, both in gifting and character. Like an open floodgate, streams of learning followed. I soon learned the myriad ways that God speaks to His people. Equipping the saints “ to see and hear the things of God,” is a mandate that Christ has entrusted to Church leadership.
Fan the Flames
The apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to “Kindle afresh the gift of God that is within you” (2 Timothy 1:6). In other words, “Timothy, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and minister in your gift.” The Greek translation for kindle is to “fan into flames” which is in regards to fire. How do you kindle or fan a fire into flames?
In the context of a campfire, as you blow upon the ambers of the hot coals, you provide more oxygen causing them to burst into flames. You then layer upon the flame twigs, small branches and logs. The result is a roaring fire that provides light and warmth to the people. In essence, by fanning the flame, you activated or caused that which was smoldering to burst into flames.
We have received the divine fire of the Spirit of God. The same tongues of fire that appeared on Pentecost, resides in His people. This fire is also reminiscent of the fire that Moses saw at the burning bush when God spoke to him. Within the believer are flickering flames of the Spirit. They are “fanned into flames,” (ignited) when we step out in faith to prophesy through the anointing of the Spirit.
We become lukewarm when we allow the fire to become a smoldering flame. To reignite the fire, you must fan the flames by stepping out in faith to minister in your gift. In doing so, the Holy Spirit anoints you for ministry. We call this act of stepping out in faith to engage with the Holy Spirit, “activation.”
Activation is simply faith in action. You fan the flame when you step out in faith to be used by the Holy Spirit to minister in your gifts to another.
Practicing the Gifts
In 1995 I conducted my first School of the Spirit. Being creative, the Holy Spirit revealed numerous activation exercises. As the people engaged to practice their gifts, the Holy Spirit anointed them. There is nothing more exciting than when the Lord uses a believer. This builds faith and confidence as they improve their ability to flow with the Holy Spirit.
The purpose of practicing prophecy is to improve our ability to hear from God and give a word that exhorts others. Activation exercises enable the participants to step out in faith to overcome doubt, unbelief and fear. This is why Paul exhorts Timothy to stir up the gift of God, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
A good School of the Spirit provides a safe place where God’s people can try their wings in ministry without coming under condemnation. A positive relational learning environment provides a place where the participants can make mistakes and learn from them. Like fledging eagles, it requires leaving the nest in order to learn to fly. As they flex their wings to minister in their gifts, their wings get stronger and stronger that enables them to soar higher and fly further.
It’s like going to the gym. Those who engage in physical exercise reap the reward of the health benefits. You not only become physically stronger, but you also improve the health of your heart. Likewise, by exercising your spiritual gifts, the muscles of your faith become stronger, your heart is enlarged by the love of God and you gain valuable experience. All of this promotes spiritual growth.
Each member of the body of Christ is called to be in union with the rest of His body. Like a sports team, teamwork develops: Self-esteem imparts value, teaches respect, forges teamwork, teaches leadership skills, builds stronger relationships and develops clear communication.
Remember, Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Helper, not the Doer. He will help us, but as doers of the Word, we are called to do our part. As in the parable of the ten virgins, the wise will rise and shine brightly with the light of the Holy Spirit. The command of Jesus is to, “Let your light so shine before men, that all may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
As believers mature in Christ, who is the centrality of our lives, they will impact their Church, business and family; indeed, all aspects of life, with the Kingdom of heaven through the power of the Spirit.
It’s time to fan the flame. In His heart and love,