Today, July 27, 2020, marks exactly 7 months and 7 days since the tangible glory of God stepped into my home.
As some of you know, at the Lord's request I have spent the past three weeks on an extended prayer retreat. Never before have I been so "deep" with Him, and never have I been more sure of one thing: God is on the move! A NEW MOVE!
Like you, I have spent the past few months wondering: what do I do next? It is easy to prophesy a "new move of the Spirit," but what, really, does that look like? How does it happen practically?
Most of us do not have extended time to sit with the Lord and wait like "Mary" when life demands that we fulfill some very "Martha-type" roles. Yet as I've pressed into the Father's heart for understanding, He has revealed some keys that I believe will be helpful to anyone who is hungry to see God's glory manifest around the world.
Unlocking a new move begins with a man named Peter.
ON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD
Jesus promised Peter - the same disciple who denied Him three times - that on the rock of his revelation about Christ's identity He would build His church (see Matthew 16:13-20). In the same breath, Jesus also said He would give Peter the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. The first key was Peter's answer to the question: Who do you say I am?
New moves of God are not built on good works; they're built on revelation. The moment we receive a revelation of WHO HE IS is the moment revival begins. Jesus is still seeking to reveal Himself to the world today!
A quick look at the Bible shows us that Peter received other keys as well: first at Pentecost, when the promised Holy Spirit was poured out, and then later in a story less quoted but equally significant. (Acts 10.) Each key has to do with Peter's expanded understanding of WHO CHRIST IS and how God wants to relate to His people.
Peter's call to the house of a Roman centurion named Cornelius contains ten keys that will help us understand the next move of God.
1. A NEW MOVE IS FOR THE HUNGRY
Peter was staying in a Palestinian town called Joppa, enjoying much favor in his ministry because he had recently raised a beloved disciple named Tabitha from the dead.
Peter had a solid history with God and God's people: he had been a key player at Pentecost; he was traveling the "preaching circuit" already; and he was a well-respected leader in many Jewish communities. But God had something new to show him!
At lunchtime one day, Peter went up on the roof of his host's house to pray. Although Peter was hungry and food was being prepared for him, God chose this time of hunger to nourish Peter with a heavenly meal!
In a trance, Peter saw a large sheet like a tablecloth descending to earth containing all kinds of animals, reptiles, and birds. Peter heard the Lord say: "Get up, Peter, kill, and eat." (Acts 10:9-13)
At the same time, Cornelius, a God-fearing Gentile, was praying and fasting in Caesarea when he had a vision. The Bible says he "distinctly saw an angel of God" who came to him and called his name, telling him to send for Peter, who would help him grow his own relationship with God into something better than he had ever imagined! (Acts 10:1-8)
God was preparing a feast for the hungry, but it wasn't limited to Peter and Cornelius.
2. A NEW MOVE WILL SHAKE OLD MINDSETS
Peter knew the words of Jesus from Matthew 5:6: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." What he didn't know was that a Jewish God would break with His own "kosher" traditions in order to reach a Gentile nation!
God was asking a devout Jew to "eat" unclean things and visit with heathen people - something that contradicted the foundational "word of God" Peter had been taught. More than just the difference between a "logos" and a "rhema" word, this was a complete break with everything Peter knew to be acceptable.
A new move of God will not rely upon traditional church structures or old mindsets for support, but will rely solely on God. God will pull from among His chosen servants those whose hearts have been prepared to help build according to Kingdom specifications.
3. A NEW MOVE WON'T MAKE SENSE TO THE NATURAL MIND
One of the most interesting things to me about Peter is that he often said "no" to the Lord before he obeyed. His initial response to the Lord's request in the trance was "Not so, Lord!" He would not willingly violate what he knew of God's laws.
This wasn't the first time Peter contradicted the Lord. He had already said "no" to Jesus when he heard his Messiah must die and when Jesus asked to wash his feet. (Matthew 16:22 and John 13:8). Peter later denied Jesus three times when confronted about their relationship.
A new move of God will offend the natural mind. It will offend religious systems and spiritual leaders - even the BEST, most anointed "Peters" of our day! Why? Because what we know of the old always gets in the way of what is new! We must be on guard against the will of man, which often opposes the will of God and will weary the servants of God.
4. A NEW MOVE REQUIRES A RESPONSE
Twice the Bible tells us "Peter was wondering" and "still thinking" about the vision, and twice Peter had to ask those from the household of Cornelius: "Why have you come for me?" Peter was caught up in reasoning, just as the disciples on the Emmaus Road were reasoning amongst themselves and failed to discern the Presence of God with them.
Three times the Spirit repeated Peter's heavenly vision. Even after these three confirmations, Holy Spirit had to break into the middle of Peter's musings to say: "DON'T HESITATE TO GO, for I have sent them!" (Acts 10:20)
The Lord is issuing an invitation into the next move of God. Heavenly invitations require a response! Don't let the fear of doing something new delay your movement by faith!
5. A NEW MOVE WILL MOVE YOU OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Peter had built a successful ministry at the Lord's leading. He was well respected and was doing everything he should have to honor the Lord. Perhaps he had even reached a place of feeling comfortable in his partnership with Holy Spirit. He could have continued to faithfully shepherd Messianic believers as he had in the past, but God had something even greater for him to do.
"Greater works" will always require us to to move out of our comfort zones. Even for someone accustomed to seeing angels, Pentecostal power, and raising the dead, God had something greater! That greater anointing was to bring in a HUGE harvest of Gentile souls - people no one had even thought might be interested in the Jewish faith!
God used Cornelius's request as an unusual sign to Peter that he should never settle into the comfort of the old truths he trusted. Perhaps Peter's obedience here is one reason why Paul could trust God to do "unusual miracles" among the Gentiles later. (See Acts 19:11-12)
6. A NEW MOVE WILL HAVE LOVE AT THE FOREFRONT
One admirable trait about Peter in this passage is that he had "learned to love." He loved God and knew the Spirit was speaking to him, even if what the Lord was saying seemed unconventional.
Because of his love for God, Peter extended love to heathen messengers. He didn't just speak with Cornelius's men at the door (which was "taboo" for Jewish leaders), but welcomed them into his house and provided for them as his guests. Peter's reward was similar to Abraham, who entertained angels unaware: he was blessed with an anointing for multiplication he had not even imagined.
Centuries before Peter's time, a prophet named Jonah had also left Joppa with a mission from God. Jonah did not have the same love for people that Peter did. Instead of obeying the voice of God, he fled to Tarshish and suffered the consequences. His disobedience did not stop the move of God in Nineveh, but a lack of love even after Nineveh's conversion left Jonah angry and outside the perfect will of God.
The moral of these stories? We can GO in obedience to God's request but still not have hearts of love. One mark of this next move of God is a love for the lost. It is far better to allow God to expand and purify our hearts now than to suffer for it later!
7. A NEW MOVE REQUIRES HUMILITY
The grateful new believers in Cornelius's household feared God. Cornelius himself had enough of a relationship with the Lord to be a generous giver, receive a vision, and stand out publicly as a devout man in a Roman regiment. Yet he still almost made an idol out of Peter.
The moment Peter entered Cornelius's house, the centurion met him and fell at his feet to worship him. Peter had the humility and wisdom to say: "Stand up. I am only a man myself."
Although it was not wrong for Cornelius to honor Peter's obedience and sacrificial love, Peter had the maturity and humility to redirect undue attention to God. The next move will include many such people: nameless, faceless ones whose sole desire is to give all the honor to Jesus.
8. A NEW MOVE WILL GIVE YOU A NEW MESSAGE
Right up until the moment Peter arrived and heard the story of Cornelius's visitation, he did not know what his "new message" would be. In front of everyone who had gathered to see him, Peter questioned Cornelius: "May I ask why you sent for me?"
Participants in this new move of God may feel unprepared, but we have a promise from the Father that the Spirit of God will give us in that hour what we are to say. (Luke 12:12)
God has a unique way of pulling both "old and new treasures" out of our spiritual storehouses to feed the hungry. Foundational truths we have lived by and relied on for years will be combined with revelatory "rhema" words the Spirit gives us for each specific new situation.
9. A NEW MOVE DEMANDS THAT YOU WAIT ON GOD'S TIMING
Mary and Martha waited three days to see Lazarus's resurrection. The disciples waited 120 days for the promised Holy Spirit. Israel waited until the pillar of fire or the cloud moved before they moved themselves. The next move of God requires that we wait for God's timing, which is always perfect! Not only does the right timing advance us; it also protects us.
When Peter arrived in Caesarea, he found three essential things already in place for him: expectant faith, an audience that had gathered through no effort of his own, and the Presence of God awaiting him. (Acts 10:24;33) When we wait on God's timing, everything we need will be ready and waiting!
10. YOU CAN'T MESS UP A NEW MOVE!
One of the greatest things the Lord ever said to me was this: "Deb, you can't mess this up!" Just as Nineveh was saved in spite of Jonah's reluctance, so God will make sure each movement He initiates is fulfilled.
Don't let the fear of failure define you. Instead, trust that your Creator knows exactly what you can handle. He trusts you to hear from Him correctly at all the right moments. He is so much greater than your failures, and His plan really is foolproof!
If you're waiting to see the next move of God, I want to encourage you: YOU CAN'T MESS IT UP! God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. He knows your heart, and if you are willing, He will lead you right into the center of His plans, a place of glory and beauty that's beyond your wildest dreams.
Deborah Perkins is a seasoned prophetic writer, teacher, and Christian leader with more than 35 years of ministry experience across denominations. At God's request in 2013, she founded His Inscriptions, an online ministry devoted to helping people worldwide “Discover Life-Giving Communication with God.” Through her website, speaking, and a weekly blog, Deborah offers encouragement to those who want to grow their relationship with God.
Deborah lives in New England with her hubby, 3 sons, one cat, and a coop full of chickens. You can learn more about Deborah’s published books on her Amazon author page. To request Deborah as a speaker, click here.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.