Lakeland Revival: Understand and Discern the Moves of God

Posted June 5, 2008

There was a recent outbreak of revival in Lakeland, Florida, USA. Along with signs, wonders and miracles, there were also controversies and unsound teachings. Below are some of my thoughts that will help us to understand the move of God and more importantly, learning to embrace the future moves of God in the Last Days.

There are obvious increases of the move of the Holy Spirit around the world. There have been many outpouring of the Holy Spirit and important moves of God in the last 100 years since the Azusa street revival in 1906. These are preparations for the coming major moves of God in the proportion of Joel 2:28 – 32.

The Holy Spirit pours out and holds back “for a season” throughout Church history. He releases a flow of revival then He draws back His activity to give the body of Christ time to digest what He has imparted. God releases grace for different moves of God that work together to prepare the body of Christ for the great final global End-Time Move of God that surpasses the book of Acts and results in Jesus’ return.

We must learn to see the big picture of God’s purposes in all these moves of God.

First of all, we must recognize that God uses many different people, places and seasons of visitation in preparing the End-Time generation for the fullness of His purpose. Most moves of God for the last century are only meant to last about 2 to 5 years because the Lord is establishing a bigger purpose.

We must learn to see that all the moves of God are in one tandem – one visitation of God prepares for the next one. The Lord uses each one to teach His people in each of the following and coming moves of God in what to do and what not to do.

In our commitment to fully embrace the move of the Holy Spirit, we need to be prepared in our understanding so that our hearts can respond in the right way. Matt. 3:3 says this,

“Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight…”

The way of the Lord is prepared by giving understanding so that we can cooperate with the leadership of the Holy Spirit and not to neglect, resist nor exaggerate it. The Lord’s path is “made straight” when it is seen to be right by showing it to be biblical.

Generally, the Holy Spirit has 3 purposes when He releases and heightens His activity:

  1. He manifests His power to those needing salvation, healing or renewal. (e.g. Toronto Blessings)

  2. He imparts His truth or wisdom. In every move of God there are particular facets of truth that He wants the larger Body to receive.

  3. He wants to establish godliness and holiness. (e.g. humility or love)

It is the intention of God to allow all involved with His move to be humbled and sometimes even humiliated. This includes the anointed vessels, their friends, those who passively ignore the revival as well as this those who actively oppose it.

God often offends our mind to reveal our heart. People will get healed and people will get hurt as God gives opportunities to all to be humbled. The same lamp that lights the house sometimes is the same fire that burns down the house.

We must receive Jesus as the God of power, wisdom and humility. We ask, “Lord what are you doing in our midst?” as well as, “What are you saying to us?” People have unnecessary pain and disillusionment in the wake of a revival because they thought that revival was mostly about enjoying God’s power instead of learning wisdom and growing in humility.

We must also remember that history testifies that those who are involved in the most recent move of God are often those who also persecute the next move of God. We must avoid the same pitfall. We must be zealous for the Holy Spirit’s activity, not just open to it, as we seek to excel in love.. 1 Cor. 14:12 says,

“Since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.”

Understand that God uses weak and broken vessels of clay so that no one glories or boasts in man. People typically only boast in men in their first experience in revival. Read 1 Cor. 1:27 – 31. We need to learn to honor God’s vessels but not neglecting our responsibility to only receive what is biblical. Read Acts 17:11.

A few important principles to embrace:

  1. We must be childlike in faith yet not childish in discernment (Matt. 18:3 – 4) Like the humility of a child, we must trust God in risk taking. Children do not fear losing their status. Similarly, we must have a open and teachable spirit like a child.However, we must not naively embrace all nor critically reject all because those leading in revival sometimes say and do unwise things. Similarly, those who resist the revival sometimes say wise things, too. God can use our adversaries to humble us, teach us and keep us honest. (1 Thes. 5:19 – 22)

    Some will say we are biblically irresponsible for allowing some things yet at the same time others will say we are controlling for not allowing more “liberty”. We can quench the Spirit by allowing fleshly elements to dominate as well as by stopping things the Spirit wants. We need wisdom and discernment to know how to move with God.

  2. We must discern the things that are excellent We are to abound in love (for God and people) by discerning the things that are excellent in the midst of things less than excellent. Some wrongly view the move of the Spirit as either “totally right or totally wrong” instead of seeing substantial good while discerning that which is not good. The weaknesses – character, doctrine, and ministry style of the vessels that the Spirit chooses are not automatically resolved when the power of God operates through them. Some wrongly assume that the Spirit only moves through people that are right in all they do or say.

    We must see God’s favor and honor His activity while graciously discerning that which is not excellent. We are NOT mandated to point out what lacks excellence in each vessel. (1 Pet. 4:8)

  3. Define the “major” and “minor” issues We must distinguish and define the “major” and “minor” issues in a move of God so that we can swallow or tolerate the lesser “unsound issues” while refusing the larger “unsound issues”. Because the Pharisees did not do this they ended up straining out gnats and swallowing camels. (Matt. 23:23 – 24)We are to graciously bear with the lack of excellence in the “minor” issues of their doctrine and ministry style without being compelled to imitate them to “receive the anointing”. We must not be “superstitious” in our quest to show our faith in embracing the Holy Spirit. We must not be “overly cautious” in our quest to walk in wisdom. We must not be “overly receptive” in our quest to walk in faith. We must learn to receive new things while honoring the Scripture. Matt. 13:52 says, “He said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.’”

  4. Stigma that comes with new move of God There is a God orchestrated stigma on the anointing of the Holy Spirit. When God releases new levels of the Holy Spirit’s activity, then new devils attack. Many of God’s servants in history were rejected by God’s people and later killed (e.g. Jesus, John the Baptist, Paul, Peter, etc.). Many of God’s “chosen vessels” end up bitter and the “host ministries” end up in division. It is good to experience a move of God that exalts Jesus’ name but it is not mostly easy or fun. May God grant us wisdom, understand and discernment so that we learn to embrace, participate and move with the coming Move of God in the Last Days!

Kay-Chong Yeo Founder & Director One Thing Ministries International House of Prayer (Singapore)