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Yielding To The Holy Spirit – by Roberts Liardon

I used to ride on the coattail of my grandmother’s spirit. I knew that whenever she moved into the glory world, those goose bumps would pop up on me as well. I knew that if I stayed close enough to her, she could “piggyback” me into the realm of the spirit. But one day, God said, “Now it is your fight. Now you will be held accountable for your own spirit.”

When that release came, I began to realize what my grandma had kept me from. I began to realize the protection she had been to me. Until that time, my mind had never been confused. I had never known what it was to be tormented by evil spirits because she kept them away from me.

I can remember times when I came home from school as a youngster, and Grandma would abruptly stop me and pray for me before I barely got my nose inside the front door! She saw into the realm of the spirit and saw when I had demonic spirits hovering over me. Thank God for Grandma!

The day came when I had to learn to pray and get into the realm of the spirit for myself. I began to realize that no person or ministry would ever succeed because of a great education, financial success, or connections made by man. These things do not entice the anointing of God to fall upon you because the Holy Spirit causes the anointing to fall as He wills, never as man wills. The Holy Spirit never takes direc­tions from man.

God’s anointing comes upon yielded vessels—vessels who totally submit and surrender to the Spirit of God. I had to learn to yield to the Holy Spirit; and as I did, the anointing upon me became stronger. I have learned that yielding to the Holy Spirit and living in the realm of the spirit are progres­sive. As we mature in Christ, we can yield more fully to the Holy Spirit and live in that realm.

The only way to stay in the realm of the spirit is to spend time alone with God. During the first year that I walked my bedroom floor praying and weeping before God, I would look out the window and see my friends playing baseball. My flesh would say, You’re not accomplishing a thing! Go play baseball with your friends. You are not even getting a single goose bump, Roberts! (That is the kind of encouragement I received from my mind.)

The truth of the matter is that I did not receive even one goose bump for more than a year! I felt nothing. There was absolutely no response from heaven for more than a year. If most people do not hear from heaven within five minutes, they are ready to give up, quit praying, and start confessing, hoping that will bring immediate results.

Some people get into trouble because they are looking for feelings or because they are seeking the approval of men. You cannot go by feelings or men’s approval. The quality of your time spent with God is not based on goose bumps or feelings. Spending time in prayer develops a spiritual maturity which gives you a spiritual confidence—a supernatural knowing that you are doing something worthwhile.

My friends, confession will not work unless it is enforced with prayer. You can confess until you are blue in the face, but unless your prayer life is up to par, your confession will not avail.

I knew, however, that if I persisted with God, He would finally show up. My attitude was this: lam going to walk this bedroom floor until God shows up or I die!

Some of you need that kind of persistence to get hold of God. Some of you need old-time Pentecostal persistence that will cause you to pray all night until heaven hits earth. Dead, dried-up religion is not worth a thing. Religion kills the spirit and causes the flesh to prevail.

Criticism and persecution will come as you begin to separate yourself unto God, but you have got to get into the realm of the spirit where you belong. You have to get under the shadow of the Almighty and stay there. You have to get to the place where the winds of God will overshadow you and will carry you.

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.

Isaiah 54:17

When I was a teenager, I talked to God as I walked down the school hallways. I was not concerned about what others thought of me. I was not concerned about a social life or sports. I wanted more of God, and I did not care what it cost me to have a relationship with Him. I have to admit that some of the persecution bothered me at first, because my flesh was not completely dead yet. But I learned not to bow to the opinions of others, but to go with God. I knew that God would keep me and take care of me, because I was seeking Him first above all these other things that the world deemed important. God was most important to me.

At times, I would pray all night. Some people may say, “Oh, you are just exaggerating.” No! That is the way it was. I was persistent. After more than a year of praying, I walked into my bedroom one day and felt the presence of God. When you have walked your floor for that long with absolutely no feelings, you will come to recognize that it is God when you sense the power of His presence. I went for two or three months longer without any further response from God. I kept knocking on heavens door to see if someone would answer.

One day, when I walked into my bedroom and shut the door, God spoke to me, saying, “Here I am. Seek no more. I have come to hear from you.” When He said that, the power of God filled my room so intensely that I was thrown across the floor. All that night I shook under the mighty power of God. This is the type of experience people are seeking. They are seeking the real because they have had enough of the counterfeit. They are looking for God to show up and say, “Here I am.”

When God says that, He means, “I will be with you. I will go beside you. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will heal through you. I will speak through you. I will bless people through you.”

Not too many people have paid the price to get God to visit, but He is no respecter of persons. What He did for me, He will do for you. People try to get a visitation from God through great head knowledge. They try to reach God through money or popularity. But God is not influenced by any of these things. He is simply looking for ordinary, yielded vessels. You can be that yielded vessel. All it takes is dying to your flesh and learning to walk in the Spirit.

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God’s Word Strengthens Our Faith – by Roberts Liardon

Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. —Romans 10:17

Listen to God’s word to you rather than the words of the critics and the naysayers, and your faith will be built up to the point where you can see past the barriers and the obstacles that might otherwise keep you from finishing the work to which God has called you.

Faith causes things to happen. Abraham was not weak in faith. He kept rehearsing what God had said and kept on holding on to it. He could have focused on the negatives: “I’m an old man. Sarah is an old woman. We’ve been married all these years without having any children, so how in the world can I believe I’m going to have a son now?” Instead, Abraham stayed focused on God’s Word to him: “You will be the father of many nations.”

I am surprised at how many people in the modern world try to tell God what to think and how to act. Our society is full of people trying to act like Jehovah. When you begin to obey, that’s when they start to criticize. “Well, I just don’t think you ought to do that.” Those people need to think less and believe and obey more. The Bible says that Abraham held to faith, not being weak in faith. He built himself up. “He considered not his own body now dead” (Romans 4:19). He lived in faith that what God had said to him would come to pass, no matter how impossible it may have looked to those who were seeing only through physical eyes.

Always remember that your security is in the Word of God. There is no security in how much money you have, what kind of car you drive, or how fancy your home is. There is no security in your career or the investments you make. There is not even any security in the relationships you have with other people. Your money may be stolen, your house may burn down, you may lose your job, and your investments may go sour. Even your friends and loved ones may disappoint you. Security is found in only one place in this world and that is in the abiding Word of God.

I don’t mean to imply that God’s Word won’t be challenging. It may shake you out of your routine or rock your comfort zone. But it is true that following and obeying His Word is the only possible source of lasting security.

Some in the charismatic movement have gotten to the point where they believe that God only speaks to us with nice, sweet little encouraging words. He says things like, “Oh, My people, I love you. Hang in there and everything will be all right. I know life can be hard sometimes, but remember that I love you; and it will help you get through.”

I’m not doubting God’s love for a moment, and I do believe that He wants us all to be encouraged and strengthened by His presence in our lives. But I know that He is also calling us to boldness and action on His behalf.

He may tell you something like, “I want you to build a big church for me.”

“Who, me?” you respond with surprise. Yes, you.

“Oh … uh … well, I thought God was talking to me, but it must have been the devil. After all, God only says things like, ‘Be encouraged. Be at peace. I love you.'”

The God we serve is not like that. He often says things like, “I want you to go into other nations and preach the Gospel.” “I want you to feed the poor in My name.” “I want you to get involved in a crisis pregnancy center where you can help save lives.” “I want you to become a missionary.”

But some of us answer, “What? Me? Oh, well, listen Lord, You must not know me very well. I can’t start a church for You! Why, I can hardly pay my light bill. My children are in rebellion. My life is so mixed up and confused. Please don’t ask me to do something great for You!”

Well, let me tell you, if God didn’t see in you the ability and capacity to do great things for Him, He wouldn’t ask you to do those things. He knows the greatness He has built into you, and He wants to work with and through you to develop and utilize it.

What is God saying to you? Whatever His word is to you, believe it, act upon it, and just watch what happens!

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God’s Anointed Man by Roberts Liardon

Claudius Roberts had prayed that her last child would be tall and strong and would show features of his Indian heritage. She’d asked God for a blue-eyed boy, even though all of her other children had dark brown eyes. When the baby boy was born, Claudius rejoiced that God had an­swered every one of her prayers.

What she couldn’t fully realize at the time was that this baby—Gran­ville Oral Roberts—would become one of God’s most anointed men in the second half of the twentieth century. Are there enough words to do justice to Roberts’s powerful preaching and healing tent ministry to tens of thousands in the 1950s? Can we explain his inspirational call to build the largest Christian university in the world in the 1960s, the wisdom of his trendsetting television ministry to millions in the 1970s, the contro­versies and personal tragedy that surrounded his ministry in the 1980s, or the place that Oral Roberts holds in the church today?

I was the first baby born in Oral Roberts’s school of medicine. In fact, Oral was such a hero to my family that I was named Kenneth Roberts Liardon, but I chose to go by Roberts. As a child, I remember being in Tulsa at a Partner’s Weekend—a gathering of his financial supporters— where Oral began to pray for everyone in the room. At one point, he went over to a line of partners who were in wheelchairs. He went down the line, laying hands on each one and praying. One after another, they got up out of their chairs. I had never seen anything like it. Oh, there was the rare, occasional healing in my home church, but nothing like the sight of a line of people rising from their wheelchairs and walking.

Roberts Liardon tells us that it is essentially impossible to describe in detail a global ministry that has spanned seventy-plus years. Oral Roberts brought Pentecostalism to the right side of the tracks. He gave it respectability and dignity. My desire in this edition of God’s Generals is to highlight specific areas of this anointed man’s life: from his humble beginnings to the position of leadership and power he held in the latter half of the twentieth century, to the unfortunate scandals that pursued him, and, finally, to the place his ministry holds today. This is the amazing story of how God used one fallible human being who was willing to surrender his entire life in obedience to the call of an infallible God.

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Calvary Temple by Roberts Liardon

At first, Lester wasn’t going to take the request seriously. A small church in Indiana? What about the billions of lost souls in the cities of the world? But the Lord began to speak in the quiet of Lester’s heart, say­ing, “You’ll never understand My heart if you don’t pastor…a pastor gets into the sorrows of the family….He understands what it means to be a shepherd because I am a shepherd.”

It was a hard decision, but Lester knew he had to obey. When he arrived at the church, he found the building to be too old and confining for use. After convincing the congregation to sell it, he soon chose a new location in the center of town. The new, larger building that would house Calvary Temple was built nearly debt-free because of the miraculous of­ferings that poured in. The Lord brought well-known evangelists like Oral Roberts to the new church to preach. Within months, the small congregation was averaging 2,500 participants in Sunday school, and all of the people were growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. There were salvations and healings regularly at Calvary Temple as God moved among His people. The Sumrall family grew there, as well, with the birth of a second son, Stephen.

Roberts Liardon tells us that in the midst of all of these marvelous blessings, the call to the mis­sion field continued to burn in Lester’s heart.

During a short-term mission trip to Asia in 1950, Lester conducted a three-day crusade in Manila, Philippines. Even though it had been five years since World War II, the country was still shrouded in a spirit of gloom. During the crusade, hundreds of people responded to the hope and joy found in the gospel of Christ. When Lester left the city, he de­spaired that there was no shepherd to guide these new sheep in his absence.

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Adventuring with Christ by Roberts Liardon

They called it the “Canvas Tabernacle.” Lester and Howard set up the large tent in Brisbane, Australia, for their first outreach to the lost in their travels together. Night after night, Les­ter preached the gospel, speaking of the saving power of the blood of Christ, and hundreds of people came to the altar to receive salvation for their souls and healing for their bodies. What an exciting way to begin the new ministry!

One night, a man approached the altar in a great deal of pain and with many questions con­cerning supernatural healing. The pain in this man’s side and back had confounded his doctors for years. When Lester explained God’s healing power, the man reacted with fear and uneasiness. “The pain may appear to be gone, but it will return tonight,” was the gentleman’s response, revealing his inner conflict of faith versus fear. With conviction, Lester reassured him that God had done a complete healing.

Roberts Liardon tells us that the next evening, the same man arrived at the revival meeting, grin­ning from ear to ear. “Preacher, I am healed! I have not had a pain in my body since last night!” he announced.119 As a result of this and other heal­ing testimonies, the faith of the people grew each day. A young woman with a cancerous sore on her nose approached the altar for prayer; within days, the sore was healed completely.

The time seemed to pass swiftly, and Lester and Howard’s last eve­ning in Australia was filled with praises to God for His blessings on their ministry there.

 

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Running with a Heavenly Vision by Roberts Liardon

It was the morning of his seventeenth birthday, and Lester Sumrall was dying. After months of lying in a sickbed with tuberculosis, he had reached his end. Everyone agreed that his life was ending. The coughing that racked his lungs was out of control. His pillow, splattered with blood from his spasms throughout the long night, was a witness to his shattered life.

Roberts Liardon tells us that this fateful day, February 15, 1930, was a day of days. The ninetythree-pound, emaciated young man began to cough up blobs of tissue that the doctor declared were part of his lungs. Shaking his head in defeat, the doctor entered Lester’s room for the last time.

“In two hours, your boy will be dead,” he said gravely to George and Betty Sumrall. “That’s the death rattle in his throat right now, and that bluishness in his face means he’s not getting enough blood to his brain for his body to live. He’s going to die tonight.”

The doctor left the Sumrall house and went back to his office to write out Lester’s death certificate. He left the exact time of death blank, knowing it was just an administrative detail easy to attend to. George Sumrall would need to pick up the death certificate first thing in the morning so that he could go and buy a burial plot for his son.

George Sumrall was a rough man who hardly believed in God and definitely didn’t believe in the power of prayer. He left his son’s deathbed with a mixture of grief and anger. Betty Sumrall was the opposite. A firm believer in the power of Jesus Christ to save and heal, she was not ready to give up her son. She stayed by Lester’s bedside, crying and praying for God to intervene and save her boy’s life.

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Set Your House in Order by Roberts Liardon

Jeffreys discovered the mortgages for all of the churches they had planted and became deeply concerned about the financial situation of the denomination. Jeffreys and Phillips viewed these mortgages differ­ently. Jeffreys, coming from a working-class background, saw them as a burden of dangerous debt obligations, while Phillips, coming from a middle-class business background, viewed them as proper business agreements. Jeffreys shared his concerns with all of the Elim congre­gations through the church magazine Elim Evangel, an act that publicly made Phillips appear to be a poor administrator. Jeffreys introduced a Jubilee Fund and asked readers to give money and help alleviate the debt on many of the Elim church buildings. After several months, the congre­gations had given what amounted to a small percentage of what Jeffreys had hoped to raise.

Roberts Liardon tells us that one unforeseen outcome of Jeffreys’ concern over the finances was Phillips’s strong personal reaction to it. Phillips felt that his abilities and judgments were being publicly questioned by Jeffreys. Because the church assets were worth more than the debt liabilities, and because all of the mortgage payments were being met, Phillips was certain that they were not in the midst of a financial crisis. He suggested that Jeffreys concentrate on raising money in his evangelistic efforts and leave the accounting work to the administrative staff. This argument put an ad­ditional strain on the relationship between Jeffreys and Phillips.

Early in 1937, Jeffreys wrote a number of letters to Phillips voicing his concerns about church government reform in the Elim movement. “God had spoken to me in no uncertain sound, ‘Set your house in or­der.’”60 This was the same command that the prophet Isaiah brought to King Hezekiah in the Old Testament. (See 2 Kings 20:1.) To Jeffreys, it meant two things: He was to continue in his efforts to pay off the debts of the denomination, and he was to work diligently to reform Elim from being a church governed by centralized control to one with more power delegated to the local assemblies.

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The Holy Ghost by Roberts Liardon

On returning home in December, he shared his testimony with people there, resulting in a move of the Spirit that aroused great interest, as well as some opposition. Visitors arrived from many places.

Roberts Liardon tells us that one of them was an Anglican minister, Alexander Boddy, from Sunderland in the north of England. On his return home, he invited Barratt to hold meetings in Sunderland, testifying that what he had observed in Norway was greater than that which he had witnessed during the Welsh Revival.

On the last day of August 1907, Barratt arrived, and he stayed in Sunderland until early October. A number of people were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, including Boddy’s wife, Mary, and their young daughters, Mary and Jane. It was during the last few days of Barratt’s meetings that the local newspaper took an interest in what was taking place. The news then spread to larger newspapers and Boddy soon found his home besieged by reporters. Boddy himself was not baptized in the Spirit until December, after Barratt had left. The following year, Boddy organized the first in a series of Annual Pentecostal conferences in Sunderland that continued until 1914 and the outbreak of World War I. It would be at these meetings that Boddy’s path would intersect with that of Jeffreys.

Roberts Liardon tells u ss that Some of the people of Wales welcomed this Pentecostal teaching. Early in 1910, George and Stephen Jeffreys began to attend Petnecostal meetings held by the Welsh Baptist minister, William George Hill. Previously, the brothers had been opposed to this teaching, but shortly thereafter, they had accepted the scriptural basis for this as a present-day experience, specifically, Matthew 3:11: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”

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The Providence of God by Roberts Liardon

When he returned from Washington, Sproul informed the mayor that he had been pronounced incurable by the physicians there and given a certificate of total disability for life. He was awarded a monthly dis­ability payment, but he still faced a future filled with unrelenting pain.

By the providence of God, soon after Sproul’s return from Washing­ton, he saw an advertisement for Evangelist F. F. Bosworth’s campaign in Pittsburgh. He went simply because he felt he had nothing to lose. As he sat and listened to the testimonies of those who had given their hearts to Christ, the Spirit moved in his soul. He later exclaimed, “Oh, the joy that filled my soul when I realized the Lord was ready to save me, right then, and I said, ‘Yes’ to God. How I longed to be able to speak, to tell people that I knew I was saved!”

When Bosworth called for those who wished to be healed to come forward, John Sproul walked up to the platform with a heart full of faith. After prayer, a Christian brother exclaimed, “Praise the Lord,” and Sproul thought the man meant that he should praise the Lord with his own voice. “Of all the foolish things,” John reasoned, “to expect me to praise the Lord when I can’t talk!” Then, he thought, Well, that isn’t faith. I’ll try, even if nobody hears it.

Roberts Liardon tells us that the moment he made the effort to praise the Lord, a strange power seemed to fill his whole body. Pain coursed through him from his stom­ach through his throat and into his head. It was excruciating, but in an instant, it was gone. With it went all of the agonizing pain that John had experienced for four years. There was no more lung pain, no more throat pain, and no more wheezing! At the top of his voice, he yelled, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” Soon after the service, his family cautioned John to be careful with his newly recovered voice, but his response was, “I was shouting His praises, and I knew as long as I praised God, noth­ing would ever happen to my voice.”

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Farmer’s Son by Roberts Liardon

Being a farmer’s son, Fred was adept at using the resources around him. For example, when his uncle gave him the runt of a pig litter to have as his own, he fattened up the pig and sold it at the local market. With that money, the industrious boy bought a cow, raised her, fattened her up, and traded her and her calf for a brand-new cornet. Now that he had his coveted instrument, he needed money for lessons. Undaunted, Fred pored over the old organ’s elementary instruction book in their farm­house parlor, and that is how he learned to read music and play notes.

Roberts Liardon tells us that Fred purchased the most advanced cornet music book he could find. While working in his father’s feed store, he would practice for hours when business was slow. He studied the notes, learned the musical val­ues, and practiced diligently. Early in his life, he showed the persever­ance that would take him through difficult times and even persecution in years to come.

Soon, Fred was skilled enough as a musician to play in a community band. When his family moved to University Place, Nebraska, he audi­tioned and won a seat in the Nebraska State Band. One day, this young man’s fine musical talent would even grace the stage in New York City.

By the age of sixteen, Fred Bosworth was itching to be out on his own. In addition to his natural aptitude for music, he was a natural sales­man. He met a “general agent” who wanted him to sell a variety of prod­ucts, including cement for building industries. Fred and his older brother “rode the rails” around the State of Nebraska, often jumping open train cars to ride for free, as they tried to make their fortune as traveling sales­men. On one of these adventures, Fred’s life was changed forever.

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