I just read a post on WordPress.com by a brother who was recommended through the site. It is the true story about last night and how he drove from Ohio six hours to Tennessee to attend a worship service with friends. It is a real blessing to read and I guarantee you will feel uplifted! His post can be found here:
Reading this brought to my memory a similar event in my own not so distant past.
Just about a year ago, I had just come back from Camp Meeting in Baton Rouge, LA at Family Worship Center. This is the headquarters for Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. Now, if you find yourself already in “judgement mode,” you may wish to set that down and reconsider your own life, for though we are saved, we still sin. Some of us simply sin bigger than others. Yes, Brother Swaggart fell, like many others who were in similar positions as he. But, God does not hold a grudge when his children repent and return to Him. God said this many, many times in the Old Testament, that if His people would repent and turn back to Him, His hand would be stayed, and they would be welcomed and blessed. I believe Brother Swaggart repented, and where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. Whatever the case, I said this, because I know what I know, and I know that the Holy Spirit was moving mightily within me while I was there and when I got back. The things that were happening around me were astounding, and I was hearing the Voice of the Lord in my heart, directing me to do things I would never before have considered, as the case in point. A few weeks later, I found out that Gabriel Swaggart, Jimmy’s grandson, was going to be preaching in CA. As I started to look up the details of when and where, I saw on the website that Sharon Cornell was going to be preaching in Indio. Sister Sharon is the wife of a humble man of God, Brother Bob Cornell, whom I gleaned much from while in Baton Rouge. I personally met him, and he gave me a ride twice to church, since I had foolishly stayed at the Holiday Inn which was three miles away and had no means to rent a car. I walked it twice, and after having met several of the local church members, was introduced to him and made a true friend in the Spirit. At any rate, when I heard that his wife would be preaching, I had to make a choice. Of course, I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions, so I prayed about it. Two nights in a row, the Spirit impressed upon my to go to Indio, and so I did.
I had to work Friday all day, and I had to be back to my local church for third service that Sunday morning to teach the second and third graders during third service at church. So, I decided to make it a day trip. I left Las Vegas Saturday morning, around 11 a.m., after having coffee and studying at my favorite coffee shop (which by the way, if you ever get to Vegas, seek out “MadHouse Coffee” on the corner of Pebble and Eastern – you’ll love it). I got there a little early, and found the church readily enough, but was hungry so I found a nice little Chinese buffet and ate to my heart’s and stomach’s content. While I prayed for my meal, I asked the Lord what I was supposed to expect, and like He usually does, He remained silent, which this particular time made me feel uneasy, as though perhaps I had not actually followed the Lord at all and was just being crazy, to quote my fellow author Brother Conrad. Though He said nothing to me, by the time I had finished my prayer it had been dropped into my spirit that I would be hearing something in the preaching that no one else would hear, and just to trust in Him on it and continue to believe. So, I did, and then stuffed my face.
When I arrived, since I had chronicled my activity on Facebook, the church members all knew who I was. It was a beautiful little place, actually two adjoining office spaces, converted to a small church. Mostly Hispanic members, and all of them smiling from ear to ear, shining with the joy of the Lord, and many with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I mingled and met the head pastor, his wife, and the worship leader amongst others. The Lord blessed me with those brothers and sisters, and I was truly humbled to be there. I met Sharon for the first time just before service began. She introduced herself to me, after having also seen my posts and speaking with her husband. She asked me why did I drive all that way to this little church just to hear her preach? I told her that I knew that whatever she was going to preach on, there was going to be a message for me from the Lord within her preaching. She said she was nervous with a smile because that seemed like a lot of pressure to her. I just smiled back and said, that or I could just be crazy, but either way, I was already blessed.
Worship was in both English and Spanish, alternating between the two languages. It was anointed and it was sweet with the smell of Christ. There were people worshiping in tongues and there was complete freedom in the Body. There were moments that I felt like I was being lifted so high I might have to look down to see Heaven. Sister Sharon followed the Spirit’s lead, and she allowed worship to linger a little long, allowing God to move in the people’s hearts. When finally she sensed (as many of us did, also) that the Spirit was ready to speak some Truth, she began to preach from Acts 3.
“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.” Acts 3:1-3
Now, I had read this already a few times, and I knew what was coming. The man would walk for the first time, and leap and jump, and a true miracle would happen. I even knew the silver and gold that our dear sister was to preach. It was the Spirit that got my attention as she continued.
“And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.” Acts 3:4
Suddenly, everything fell away. My focus was on Sharon’s voice, and the Lord speaking through her. I looked up at her, but I think I must have been just blankly staring, because in my mind was the scene outside of the gate Beautiful. I could see John standing next to Peter, and both of them looking down upon the poor lame, filthy beggar. I felt the heat of the sun on my back, saw the shadows of the two draping the beggar. I was looking at the very scene in with my mind’s eye.
“And he gave heed to unto them, expecting to receive something of them.” Acts 3:5
I was in awe. I was with the beggar. I understood his need, his desire. I knew how he felt to expect something, for in that moment, I was expecting, too. I did not know yet what I expected, but something was about to hit me, and I knew it.
“The Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.” Acts 3:6&7
Bam! It was as though lightning struck me. I began to weep as she continued on through the next verse and then in to her teaching. The Spirit expressly showed me that there was faith here. Peter was a big guy, but he did not simply lift the beggar up. The beggar had to participate. No, he did not know how to walk, and so he did not stand on his own. But he had to lift his arm. If you have ever tried to give a beggar something other than what he asked for, generally, it is not well received. They want the money, so they can go buy what they really want which you won’t give them. Usually it’s tied to an addiction. This guy wanted alms. He wasn’t expecting to walk, he didn’t know how. All he knew was that this is what life was: to be brought to the synagogue by some friends, beg for money, and be brought home again. He was looking for that money. Now, his hand could have been raised when he had asked in the first place. I can give you that, but the scripture does not say this. Therefore, neither does it say he had lowered his hand when no money was coming, though if he had lifted it already to beg, he probably did. Either way, he had to present his hand after Peter spoke for Peter to be able to take hold of it and lift him. There was the faith. The beggar didn’t know how, but he accepted. Perhaps the beggar had heard Jesus teaching in the past. Perhaps he heard the miracles performed all around him, since after all, he had been coming here for years, and undoubtedly Christ had walked right by him at least once. When Peter took him up, the beggar gave the Apostle his hand. No one can tell me different, for the Spirit of the Lord set that in my heart. After that, the entirety of my Saturday journey all made sense.
It had all been a strengthening of my faith, and God was showing me in the very scriptures that were read that night, that there would be no mistake as to why I was there. In faith, I shared all of this with Sister Sharon afterward and she said the Lord was good and she prayed with me for a safe trip home, and for the Lord to heal me of my diabetes. I made it home safely, so God closed that portion out. I don’t know when He’ll close out the rest of that, maybe not until the rapture. I know that He is faithful, though, and He hears our prayers. In faith, I know I will be healed someday.
I had taken a step of faith to follow the Spirit to Baton Rouge, but that was nothing compared to my day trip to Indio. God increased my borders that day, and it was a sweet drive home, singing along with the recording I had made of the worship for the next 4 1/2 hours, getting home around 2 a.m. If ever the Lord lays it on your heart to go and do something like this, I highly recommend you do it. You may just hear from Him in ways you never thought.