Does God Really Pour His Spirit upon All Flesh? A Review of Joel 2 and Acts 2

For years now, we’ve been hearing teachers from various halls of Christian faith quoting Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17, declaring that God is pouring out His Spirit upon “all flesh”, meaning all of humanity. They cite examples of cases where non-believers had dreams of Jesus and then came to faith.

While these cases are wonderful and awe-inspiring, they are not proof the Holy Spirit is poured upon “all flesh”. Allow me to explain why this particular teaching is a misinterpretation of the Joel and Acts passages.

Take a look at the wording of the Acts passage from the KJV translation:

Acts 2.16-18 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh*: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

Ok. So, the KJV makes it sound like the Spirit will be poured upon “all flesh”. Case closed, right?

Well, not so fast. What did the original language say? Who is the audience? For, that reveals intention. And, what is the context around the phrase or sentence in question?

First, let’s look at the definition of the word for “flesh” in Greek: “sarx”.

*Definition of Sarx from Strong’s:
(g4561) σαρξ, — sarx; probably from the base of (4563) (σαροω); flesh, i.e. the meat of an animal, or the body… as the means of kindred…
1. flesh
2. the body a. the body of a man b. used of natural origin, generation or relationship

So, “flesh” is half of the original meaning, but with the broader definition from Strong’s Bible dictionary, we see there is more to the story, a 2nd half, “the body”, which implied kindred, or relationship. This narrows the scope to people in relationship with God, His family, not all mankind. With these two shades of the same word, is it one over the other? How do we choose?

Let’s return to the passage to better understand the audience and context.

When we glance a little further back from our phrase in question in both Joel 2 and Acts 2, we see each author was addressing the people of God.

In Joel, he is addressing the nation of Israel. In Acts, Peter is addressing the new believers, the followers of Christ.

Plus, note the wording immediately following God’s declaration of outpouring His Spirit:
“…your sons and your daughters will prophesy… your young men, your old men…”. The word, “your” means those belonging to the audience, again, the people of Israel in the Old Testament and the new believers in the church.

Taking it another step further in subsequent verse, Acts 2:18, God goes even further to clarify: “on My servants and My handmaidens will I pour out My Spirit…”

God was reiterating the object of the outpouring of His Spirit – upon His servants, His body, His people.

We can conclude by translating sarx within this passage as, “the body”, either instead of, or in addition to, “flesh”. This does not contradict but rather complements the tone in the rest of each passage.

Bottom line: God’s promise of outpouring His Spirit was to His people, not to the whole world.

Originally from the prophet, Joel, this prophecy of His outpoured Spirit was fulfilled starting with the disciples at Pentecost. Remember, Jesus promised the Comforter would come to His followers after His Ascension.

And did He! He came and began filling the new believers, aka the body of Christ, from that point forward, giving them His gifts, empowering them for life and ministry. Just as He continues to fill each new believer today!

Perhaps there does appear to be a fresh outpouring of His Spirit in recent years, an awakening of His people and prophecy. If so, no doubt for the purpose of strengthening His body to once more sweep the world for another great harvest, and to face the challenges of the last days before Christ’s return.

At the same time, over decades there has been a shallowing in many branches of God’s people in America, a diluting of Biblical truth. And there is a wide and growing division between the people of God and an ever-darkening world hardening their hearts to His salvation, and even His reality! This division has swept Europe and is gaining ground in America.

What do we do? We ask His help to purify our lives, daily surrender, and pursue loving relationship with our Savior and the filling of His Spirit every day. What can God do with a child of His fully surrendered to His power and grace? Reach the world!

In closing, I will say we can agree with the teachers referenced at the start with one caveat: All mankind is impacted by His outpouring upon His body. For, it is when His people are fully yielded into His mighty hands that He can then use us for maximum reach to “all flesh”.

Jesus, fill us anew today, as we trust You and give ourselves into Your capable hands. Strengthen and use us to reach every last person on earth before You return! Amen.

Scripture and Definition taken from:
Strong, James. A Complete Bible Reference Study Library (4 in 1): [Illustrated]: KJV Bible with Strongs markup, Strongs Concordance & Dictionaries, Lexicon Definitions, and Bible word index (Kindle Locations 104192-104209). Bestbooks. Kindle Edition.

Holy Spirit Transforms Remnant into Living Menorah

So, then, be careful how you live. Do not be unwise but wise, making the best use of your time because the times are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Stop getting drunk with wine, which leads to wild living, but keep on being filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:15-18

The key to understanding truth and experiencing God’s power in the life of a child of God is the Holy Spirit. Everything He has called us to do is made possible when His Spirit is in control.

Jesus told the disciples before His earthly departure that the Comforter would come to dwell with them and guide them. In the book of Acts, the Spirit was described as coming dramatically with a rushing wind and flames of fire appearing above everyone’s head in the upper room. They found themselves filled with joy, inspiration and power, speaking in languages they’d never known.

Can you picture it? A flame hovering above each of the heads of those in the room. Do you realize what had happened?

In that moment, the disciples, the first Jewish remnant – believers in Christ who had literally survived the transition from Old Covenant to New upon the death and resurrection of Christ – had become a living Menorah!

Christ, the servant lamp, had sent His Spirit to His people as promised, and each of them were set aflame to comfort His people and reach the world. They were His Menorah in His temple! And He had visibly identified them as His, set apart to carry out His mission.

From that point on, the disciples were empowered, emboldened, guided to exhort the people with divine wisdom, heal the sick, speak in foreign languages when needed to evangelize the lost, and more. All because of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit infilling each believer today continues to enable God to flow through us in every situation. He then uses us to reach the lost world through every means necessary. We continue to be His living Menorah! The entire Body of Christ, His magnificent, living temple!

Sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise…’ Ephesians 1:13

Certainly, the presence of Christ in our lives is sealed upon the moment of salvation, but the full power of the Holy Spirit is not constant. His ability to flow requires constant surrender.

The believer will struggle with surrender, finding it so tempting and easy to take back over his own life. But, only one can be in control at any given moment. When we are in control, He is not.

We have to relinquish the reigns and give them to Him every day, every hour, every moment. Perpetually willing the Spirit to take over is an absolute must in order to live a life flowing with the power and wisdom of Christ. It is why Paul in Ephesians 5:18 exhorted us to, “Keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit.”

It means simply, all the time!

Interpreting Scripture in the Spirit

This may be one of the most important truths I’ve ever shared. Fellow believers, please understand, when someone is not surrendered and filled with the Holy Spirit, their teaching of Scripture may actually be dangerous. Yes, dangerous. For, they will be studying and understanding in only human wisdom, and will often miss the mark, get it wrong. Many others are misled when a teacher is off target.

Have you ever watched a scene in a movie where the good guys are trying to decipher computer code in order to save the day? Until the moment they enter the right key to break the code, the characters on the screen are a jumble, gibberish impossible to interpret.

That is exactly what it is like, trying to understand and fully interpret the Word of God without the Holy Spirit. I’ve said before, the Bible is an incredible, 3D matrix of truth. It is deep and wide, long and mysterious with only a small portion obviously visible, like an iceberg. Without putting on the mind of Christ through surrender and filling of the Holy Spirit, we may scratch a little on the surface, but will miss the whole picture.

The Spirit is the key to the depths of Scriptural knowledge. Everything changes when He is put in His proper place, in the lead. The Word comes alive, springing into 3D focus, and the heart and purpose will be breathed into your being by the Spirit.

Walking in the Spirit will be even more vital in coming decades while voices of deception grow louder and more dominant, and truth becomes harder to discern. Only those filled and surrendered will keep their heads above water and be able to call out frauds and deceivers. The rest will be vulnerable to following false prophets and even well-meaning teachers who take us far away from our real priorities and away from our first love, Jesus.

‘His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.’ 2 Peter 1:3

Practice today and every day surrendering and asking the Holy Spirit to fill you. Give Him charge of your day and of your study every time you open the Bible. He will keep you on center and will reveal truth.

In addition, His presence will comfort and guide you in every relationship and circumstance. It is His role, promised by Christ to the precious people of God. Don’t miss His wonderful gift to us, of Himself!

2 Chronicles 7:14 – How to Change a Country for Good

Hello, friends of Faith and Fasting! Happy New Year!

My prayer and encouragement is broadly for the people of God today, not just in America, but around the world. God’s precious people fill the whole earth, just as Isaiah prophesied they would some day, after the Redeemer had, well, redeemed them.

The followers of Messiah, Jesus Christ, have indeed, spread worldwide. But the densest population of His people live in the United States. By more than 30%, we contain more Christians than any other nation. This means we contain the metaphorical heart of Christianity, whether we want to be known that way or not.

America has not always been true to her role as heart of God’s people. Many have tried to make this a political battle. Maybe there is a place for that, but I prefer to see it as a spiritual battle.

Let’s revisit one of my favorite passages, 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”

I’ve spoken of this before, but it is my strong belief the way to apply this for our country (and for your country, wherever you may live), is to recognize God said “if MY PEOPLE will do these things… I will hear… forgive… and heal their LAND!”

God’s formula for blessing His land is for His people to get right with Him. The entire nation benefits.

In the same spirit, the entire point of this blog overall is to call American Christians to renewal. For, when we are right with Him, His blessing falls upon our nation. When God’s favor and blessing is upon this nation, we in turn bless the whole world with aid and refuge for the hurting.

A few years ago in my personal life, I came to a point where I began surrendering to the Lord every morning before getting out of bed. I tell Him, “I am Yours, fill me Holy Spirit, and take over this day.” At night, before going to sleep, I pray, “Holy Spirit, take over even my sleep and dreams!”

Try it, if you haven’t already, surrendering and asking the Holy Spirit to fill you, and then give Him even your night. You may be surprised how differently you see your circumstances, relationships, and beyond.

The Spirit brings every good gift with His presence, such as patience, wisdom, and love. Everything we don’t have, He has and gives freely to those surrendered to Him.

This is how we change our country. We begin by taking this first step of trust in relationship to the Lord, putting our hand into the hand of our great Savior, Jesus, and giving His Spirit full authority. Any other changes needed in our lives are up to Him from that point forward.

This is abundant life. This is the path to wholeness for individuals and nations!

God bless America, and may she continue to bless the world. God bless your nation, wherever you may be, through YOUR obedience to Him! That is the promise of God to His people, and isn’t it just amazing?

Fasting for America – Day 3 of 3 – Praying for the Election

It has now been 50 hours since I began fasting for America before the elections. I was so encouraged late yesterday upon hearing more people are fasting. The prayer warriors from a local church prayer ministry, and another dear friend will all be fasting Sunday through Tuesday. Isn’t that exciting?

It is not too late to fast before the election, if your health allows. Even one meal will certainly make an impact in heaven and on earth!

As I enter my 3rd day, I notice my prayers are becoming more and more specific. Allow me to share them with you, and please join me in these requests as you feel led. Remember, Jesus told the disciples that whatever we loose on earth will already have been loosed in Heaven, and whatever we bind on earth will already have been bound in Heaven. He stays one step ahead of us, guiding us in His will!

Prayers – in the name of Jesus and with the strength of His whole kingdom:

Holy Father, please loose the Holy Spirit in every polling place between now and Tuesday, November 8th! Bind every deception and lie… Don’t allow them to prosper! Loose the Holy Spirit all over this country, your country, that He may take over this process, and that we may be freed from the workings of evil.

Bring every untruth to light, and make the people aware of those lies while there is still time to impact their decisions.

Lord, wake up Your people everywhere, but especially in the battleground states: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Turn those states to wisdom and away from false beliefs that hurt the people.

Pour out wisdom upon those who know You, and even on those who do not, if they have ears to hear. Lord, please do not allow Your people to buy into false stories.

Father, prevent voter fraud, and if it does happen, let it come to light quickly and be corrected before it highjacks any election data! Let the voice of the people be heard clearly and reflected with all honest ballots reported!

Holy Spirit, speak truth and provide guidance to everyone voting, to all who can hear. Open the ears of those who cannot. Let wisdom make a comeback in our people and in our land!

Over and above all, Father, let your will be done on Tuesday. Let your will be done!

Prayer warriors, I hope you will share this with others while we still have time to make a difference. When God’s people rise up and fight ‘on their knees’ and through fasting (those who are able), what mountains might He move on our behalf? I believe we can still see revival and renewal all over this great country that has been a beacon of hope and refuge for so many all over the world for so long.

Thank you for your every effort to make America God’s nation again. That is the true need of the day.

May God bless you, and may God bless America!

Preparing to Fast

Tomorrow is National Day of Prayer in America. In our home, we have turned it into a day of fasting and prayer, believing we may have passed the point prayer alone is enough.

As for me, I will begin fasting at sunset tonight, May 4th, and finish at sunset tomorrow, May 5th.  Today, I am preparing myself mentally and physically for the fast, eating a little lighter, taking extra fluids, reflecting on His love and mercy.

This feels like such a small effort, as though I am calling out into the darkness, to anyone listening who shares my love for the Lord and our nation, in hopes we might join together to make a difference. But He can take a small effort where it needs to go and make it whatever He wants it to be. I trust Him. He turned five little loaves of bread and two small fishes into a meal that fed thousands, remember? He can do anything.

Last night, I had nightmares, very unusual for me. After two different dreams, I awoke knowing the enemy was trying to attack and discourage me. But he is a defeated foe, and will not stop the hand of God from accomplishing what it sets out to do. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

When I woke, I surrendered myself to Jesus and asked for the Holy Spirit to fill me, as I do every day. I told the enemy, the doomed ones, to leave in the name and power of Jesus. Then I asked the Holy Spirit to take over the day and fill our home and family with His healing power. He is faithful.

Now, I sit quietly reflecting and feeling so grateful for this privilege, to live in this unprecedented moment. It is an honor to serve Him, to be a tiny part of calling the people of God to fast and pray for their nation.

God bless every one of you, family of faith, as you seek Him on behalf of our country this week. He is our hope.

Victory Over A Demon Through Fasting

Some time ago, we had a young girl come stay with us. Her family sent her in hopes a trip away would help her, for she had been ‘visited’ many months by an unwelcome spirit posing as a scary woman out of a childhood fairytale, or nightmare. Not surprisingly, accompanying the spiritual oppression were real, vivid nightmares.

Before she arrived, I tried to prepare for the spiritual challenge, for I knew she would not come alone. I dreaded her tagalong guest spending even one minute in my home. However, I also had confidence the entity would not be able to stay long, for our home is one surrendered to Jesus Christ and filled with the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit. Still, I fought anxiety.

I spent some time praying War Room style (if you have not seen the movie, I urge you to do so) for our home to be protected and for the enemy to be defeated quickly. Hours after her arrival, we were already in meaningful conversation about spiritual matters. She knew the creature visiting her was demonic and expressed how badly she wanted freedom from it.

The spirit had a powerful attachment to her. Before she left the airport on the plane that would bring her to us, the spirit had appeared and asked her not to go, saying, “I want you to stay with me.”

Our first step was to encourage this dear one to reaffirm her relationship with the Lord. It was answered prayer that she enthusiastically agreed. We prayed with her the very first night to receive or reaffirm her relationship with Christ. I believe she knew Him prior, but we wanted to cover all bases. For, if a person is not a Christian, inviting Christ in your life is the first line of defense against a demonic foe.

The second thing we did was to talk to her about surrender and filling of the Holy Spirit. If your life is not surrendered, if you are holding back any area of your life or harboring ungodly items in your home, then you are laying out a welcome mat for Satan and his minions. We know this personally. There was a time several years ago we went through our house to find and destroy everything that might give the enemy an invitation.

The simple rule is, don’t keep impure movies, books or magazines in your home. Cleanse your internet surfing and tv watching. Never bring home or harbor items from pagan religions. For heaven’s sake, don’t consult with mediums, fortune tellers or worse, witch doctors. They are forbidden very clearly in Scripture (Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:10-13; 1 Chron. 10:13-14…)

You get the idea. Purity is a big deal to God, both morally and spiritually, and there is a reason. The lack of purity allows a powerful enemy to hang around and cause all kinds of trouble. Don’t mess with it.

Our guest willingly prayed with us again. She vocalized her surrender to the Lord, and asked the Holy Spirit to fill her. Together we commanded the enemy to leave her. We hoped and believed afterward that we would be home free.

To our dismay, however, the nightmares continued. And worse, within a day or two, our friend was again seeing her demonic visitor – in our home! She would see its shadow, or be startled by it appearing suddenly in front of her. I would hear her gasp in another room and knew we still had a big, scary problem. I fought against fear we would not win and begged God for answers.

Meanwhile, I was getting advice from other friends, prayer warriors whom I had reached out to for prayer support. Some were telling me to find an expert who knew how to deal with demonic oppression. I didn’t know where to begin. I’d never even heard our local Pastor talk about direct spiritual warfare.

However, the Spirit seemed to whisper peace to me and to hint that this would not be necessary. For one thing, I thought, do we have so little of the Holy Spirit’s power in our own lives that we must remain in oppression lest we reach out to a professional?

Further, I remembered Jesus telling the disciples He had given them power over demons. If they had that power, then so must we! However, I specifically remembered Him telling the disciples in one particular instance of defeat that, “this kind only comes out by prayer and fasting!” (Mark 9:29)

There it was, the answer we had been seeking. The next step we had to take was clear, the final step in kicking the demon out of our home and our guest’s life. We had to fast.

Fasting is the Christian’s ultimate spiritual weapon. The past couple of years, I have fasted somewhat regularly and know its power. Have an unconquerable situation in your life? Fast and pray. Those mountains Jesus promised we would move with just a tiny bit of faith will move as a result of fasting. Not hearing God’s voice on a subject? Fast. His voice will become so much clearer during the period of time you abstain from food.

When we proposed fasting to our friend, she welcomed the idea. I wasn’t sure the length we should fast, but we prayed for guidance. Within a few hours, it seemed clear. We would fast three days.

Later that same day, the Lord took us to a passage in Isaiah that specifically addressed fasting. It is the few verses in Isaiah 58:6-8 where he shared exactly what God wanted from His people during a fast.

The instruction in Isaiah was simple: during the fast, share the food you would normally be eating with the hungry, meet the needs of the poor, and don’t fail to meet the needs in your own house! He also said, remove impurity out of your life, stop blaming others and speaking idol words. In other words, stop whining and focusing on yourself, get clean and meet the needs of those around you!

His promise if His people would obey? The chains of wickedness will fall off, we will go free! And when we call, He will answer, He will lead us and bless us with everything we need.

This was exactly the word we needed! So, we came up with an action plan. As part of our fast, we would bake banana bread, package it up along with a message of the love of Christ, and give it away to those most in need. We live near a city and there are many homeless living on the streets.

We baked the bread and cut it into thick slices. Next, we wrote “Jesus loves you” and John 3:16 on note paper and inserted it into a baggie. Finally, we slipped individually wrapped pieces of banana bread inside the baggies armed with love, and prepared to find our recipients.

I remember still feeling anxiety and thinking, what if this doesn’t work, what then? I asked the Lord privately, and timidly, “Lord, is it going to leave?” I heard His small, quiet voice in my spirit say, “It will be washed out.”

During this ministry of charity, I cannot tell you how meaningful it became to us. We walked around the city sharing a simple meal and message of love for those we found in need. I don’t remember how many slices we handed out, maybe 9 or 10. Every person received it gladly, and we prayed each would be changed by the love of Christ.

One final ‘hiss’ from the demon came through our pet cat. The morning of day 2 of the fast, out of nowhere this usually sweet and gentle cat attacked me. She bit my arm in several places and left marks. Thankfully, they were only surface scrapes, but I knew it was the influence of the enemy making one last desperate attempt to take a swipe at me.

However, that was the last we heard of it. That afternoon, not even 36 hours from starting the fast, the spiritual atmosphere in our home was clear. The demon had gone and our friend’s nightmares along with it. Good riddance!

The day after the fast ended, we had the privilege of baptizing our guest in the ocean. I couldn’t help but think of John the Baptist and the early Christians, baptizing those they led to the Lord in the Jordan River. It was a day of rejoicing. She was free of all that had oppressed her. As He had promised, it just washed away.

As soon as she returned home, our friend and her parents fasted for 24 hours, just in case, to ensure no re-infestation in their home! Praise the Lord, He is faithful to His promises! Fasting has been our greatest ally in winning spiritual victories over the enemy.

Isaiah 58:6-8 (New Life Version) – some parts paraphrased

The time without eating (fasting) is a time to take off the chains of wickedness, and to take the heavy load of sin off the neck. It is a time to let those who suffer under a sinful power go free, and to break off what restrains them.

It is a time to share your food with the hungry, to meet the needs of the poor and don’t remove yourself from the needs of your own household.

Then your light will break out like the early morning, and you will soon be healed. Your right and good works will go before you. And the shining-greatness of the Lord will keep watch behind you.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer. You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take the weight of sin away, and stop putting the blame on others and stop speaking idol words, 

10 and if you give what you have to the hungry, and fill the needs of those who suffer, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your darkness will be like the brightest time of day. 

11 The Lord will always lead you. He will meet the needs of your soul in the dry times and give strength to your body. You will be like a garden that has enough water, like a well of water that never dries up.