Our Call

Pastor Jim Hanley's Call to Spirital Warfare Ministry

God's love is expressed by acts of sacrifice on behalf of another. For me, it has been the ministry of counseling and spiritual warfare. God has called me to assist in binding up the broken hearted and to help to set captives free.

An Acceptable Fast

Early in my excursion into spiritual warfare ministry, I questioned whether this was the direction that the Lord was purposing in my life. Every week, victims would show up seeking help from spiritual afflictions. All the other pastors I knew were evangelizing, teaching, and creating ministries in their respective churches. That was what I desired to do. To be frank, I questioned whether I was being led on a wild goose chase by the enemy.

I remember struggling in those days to discern the Lord’s leading. It was a very uncomfortable time in my ministry experience. But one day in my personal quiet time, I believe God led me to a passage in the Bible that was to settle forever the dissonance that I was feeling. The chapter of Isaiah 58 became the foundation for my future ministry. For the last twenty years, I have always come back to these scriptures for direction, encouragement and to reaffirm my limited purpose in the great commission.

Isaiah 58:1 "Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet, And declare to My people their transgression And to the house of Jacob their sins.2 "Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has done righteousness And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God.3 ‘Why have we fasted and You do not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’ Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, And drive hard all your workers. 4 "Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high. 5 "Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the LORD?"

The first five verses were an indictment against the people of Israel. They were crying out to God in sackcloth and ashes and trying to get God’s attention by fasting. But God rejected their pleas. Why? It was because they were mistreating those around them. They wanted God’s presence without obedience. They were abusing their workers and pridefully lording over those around them by making unjust decisions. Then they turn to God and expect Him to bless them in their rebellious behavior. In verse five, we see the first clue to the meaning of “an acceptable fast.” It begins with humbling ourselves. But you might think that dressing in sackcloth and ashes and even fasting is humbling oneself. Apparently it is not! Our behavior must not be just toward God but toward our neighbors as well.

As these next few verses unfold, we begin to learn that fasting is a physical act that is to point to a spiritual principle. God is not really concerned or even motivated by our lack of food intake. 

Isaiah 58:6 "Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? 7 "Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?"

An acceptable fast is to deny our appetites in the broadest sense so that we can provide help to another. We are to loosen yokes of the oppressed. While that might include those who are physically burdened, it also includes those who are experiencing spiritual burdens. The bonds of wickedness in verse six include both our physical and our spiritual oppressors. God commands that we help the homeless and those who are downtrodden.

In the ministry that God has launched me into, I find that I am helping these people daily. The spiritual enemy has ravaged these Christians. They are so oppressed that many of them can’t find a job and keep it. They are struggling with estranged marriages, deep depression, panic attacks, spiritual harassment, confusion, and a multitude of other physical and spiritual afflictions.

God has called me to give up my time, talent and treasure to help them. This is the fast God has called me into. It is also the reason that I do not ask for a fee for the ministry. We operate on a freewill basis so that anyone may receive help.

While on the surface the ministry may seem to be a great sacrifice on behalf of those who participle as mentors, it actually is very rewarding. Examine some of the promises that God gives in the following verses for those who accept the ministry challenge.

Isaiah 58:8 "Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard."

The first promise is that we will become a light to world. Our own healing will be included in the ministry blessing. God will cleanse our own sin in the process. While He has provided us with armor that covers our front and allows us to advance against the enemy, it is often noted in spiritual warfare sermons that nothing protects our rear. In verse eight we are encouraged that God Himself is our rear guard.

Isaiah 58:9 "Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, 10 And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday." 

God promises to answer our prayers, but notice that the promise is conditional. We must do away with sin that binds us and we must repent from our critical behavior and minister to those in need. Again we see that when we meet these conditions, God will use us to be a light to the world.

Isaiah 58: 11 "And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. 12 "Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell." 

As we conclude this passage, more promises are revealed. God will guide us. He will be with us during lean and difficult times. He will strengthen us physically and spiritually so that we do not fail. We will be blessed with building up the ancient house of God. And our livelihood will come from our spiritual labors.

In reflecting on Isaiah 58, the core message is that of the great commandment, “to love our neighbor as ourselves.” It not messages of love, but acts of love that God desires. The love that God desires is defined for us by Paul.

1 Corinthians 13: 4 "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

This love is expressed by acts of sacrifice on behalf of another. For me, it has been the ministry of counseling and spiritual warfare. God has called me to assist in binding up the broken hearted and to help to set captives free. While I do not believe that every pastor or person is called into this ministry, I do believe that much of the church desperately needs to pick up this ministry yoke that has been abrogated to secular counseling. The problem with this approach is that the power and principles of Christ are not there.

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