“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The Litmus Test, by Randall D. Kittle

As I was praying, I saw a large church building with its parking lot filled with cars. Coming from the building I could hear the sound of a church service in progress. Everything appeared like a typical busy Sunday morning. Then I saw a large hand reach down from above and lift off the roof of the building — tilting it back as if it were hinged. While holding the roof open, another hand reached down with a small light-purple strip of paper and dipped the paper into the building. As the hand pulled the strip out of the building, you could see the color of the strip had changed from purple to red.

I then heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“I have given My Church the litmus test, to see if they are acidic — like the world, or basic — solidly possessing the basics of the Christian faith. I have found them to be too acidic, too much like the world. Therefore, I am sending My Spirit to help them as a buffering agent to change their pH and make it more like the kingdom of God.”

In these days, the Lord is testing His Church. He is doing this not because He plans to reject us but because He longs to perfect us. He wants us to know how He sees us so we will know how to change more fully into what He wants us to be. Litmus paper is used in chemistry for testing a solution and determining if it is an acid or a base. Its purple color turns blue in basic solutions and red in acidic solutions. The Lord is saying that His inspection of the Church’s actions and attitudes in our day reveals that we are too “acidic” … too much like this world. His evaluation is that the Church (remember, that includes you and me) is both in the world and of it, which makes us harsh, corrosive, irritating, and sometimes even destructive to the kingdom of God.

Removing the World
In these days, the Lord does not want to take us out of the world, but He does want to take the world out of us! This was Jesus’ prayer to His Father for the disciples and those who would follow after them, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:15–16).

If a ship is dry-docked because it is being built or repaired, it is not really fulfilling its purpose. For a ship to fulfill what it was created for, it needs to be in the water. Similarly, for us to fulfill what we are called to as believers, we need to be in the world.

On the other hand, if the water gets into a ship, it will sink and never be able to accomplish what it is supposed to do. A ship in the ocean is a good thing. The ocean in the ship is a disaster. As believers, we need to be in this world, but not have the ways of the world seep into our lives.

No “P”s in the Vineyard
As I prayed about what worldliness God desires to remove from His Church, the Lord showed me another vision. I saw a vineyard with lush grapevines growing on trellises. The vines had large clusters of grapes hanging from them. Then I saw a person with a mischievous smile who reached into his pocket and pulled something out. In his hand were three peas. They were round, green, and each one had the letter “P” written on it. He then tossed each pea into a different part of the vineyard. Just like in the fairytale “Jack and the Beanstalk,” the seeds sprouted very quickly. Soon they were entangled with the grapevines and choking the life out of them, destroying the vineyard. Then I heard the Lord say; “There are no ‘P’s in My vineyard.” With that I could see written on the first vine it said “Profane-Living.” On the second vine was written “Pride-filled,” and on the third was “Pleasure-Seeking.” That is the Lord’s description of the days in which we live. The enemy has come and sown three seeds into this generation to destroy the society in which we live, with the ultimate goal to tear down the Church.

A Profane-Living Generation
The society we live in is a profane-living generation. Being profane is not about your language. We are not talking about profanity. Profane means: “devoted to that which is not sacred or biblical; secular; irreverent or obscene.” Notice this definition is progressive. As a culture decides not to be devoted to Biblical things, they become secular. Soon people will start to be irreverent, and finally obscene. Our society is not neutral in regards to the things of God. It is devoted to things other than what is spiritual. This should cause each of us to ask the question, “To what am I truly devoted?” To your spouse … your family … your job … the Lord?

In the New Testament, the word “profane” is the Greek word “bebeelos,” which is also translated “worldly” or “godless.” This word literally means, “permitted to be trodden underfoot.” It is something you can just step on, implying not valuing or esteeming the things of God. That is how society treats Christianity and the things of God today. They are of little importance and have almost no worth.

In Hebrews 12:14–17 it says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God … lest there be any … profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” Esau was the “poster-child” for being profane in the Bible. What did Esau do to receive such disdain from the Lord? He sold his birthright to his brother for a bowl of stew. As Americans, we don’t really understand what this birthright fully entails. The birthright was not only a double portion of the father’s inheritance; it also involved authority and leadership of the family. The birthright included a special blessing from the father, and meant he would be the spiritual head, the priest of the clan, with the privilege of making sacrifices to and worshiping the Lord. In Esau’s case, because of God’s promise to Abraham, it also meant he would be in the family line of the Messiah. He would be a patriarch remembered for all time. All this Esau sold for one meal! That was one of the most expensive meals ever! Esau had no regard for the things of God. He cared little about his birthright in comparison to the present gratification of his appetite. The cry of his heart was, “Feed my flesh; satisfy my desires.”

In these unfolding end times, the society in which we live is becoming increasingly profane. As believers, this should not surprise us, for the Lord has told us what this last day generation would be like.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be … blasphemers … unholy, unloving, unforgiving … despisers of good … having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1–5). We are living in days that are the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Our profane society shows disdain for the things of God. It looks at anything to do with Christianity in a negative light, and considers any time spent for God as wasted. It neglects the truths of the kingdom by living as if God didn’t exist or doesn’t matter.

But the question we need to answer is: What about you and me? How much of our time do we live as if God doesn’t matter? How many things are we involved with where it doesn’t even matter if God exists? How often do we neglect the truths of God we glean as we read the Bible, hear a message, or share in a small group?

A Pride-Filled Generation
The second “P” in the vineyard represented the fact that the generation we live in is a pride-filled generation. We live in an arrogant, self-focused society. Once again 2 Timothy 3:1–5 prophesied this about our culture: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves … boasters, proud … disobedient to parents, unthankful … headstrong, haughty … having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

Pride is detestable to God. In fact, it is the perfect “God repellent.” Just a whiff of pride causes the Lord to stand back; that is how repugnant pride is to the Lord. In Isaiah 2:1 it says,
“The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low.” First Peter 5:5 declares, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” God expects all believers to put on humility, because He wants to be for us in every way and against us in nothing. Again, in James 4:6 the Word of God proclaims, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”

How does God deal with pride? He resists the proud, He opposes the proud, and the pride of men will be brought low.

Is there less pride in the lives of Christians than in the people of the world? Unfortunately, I cannot shout a resounding “Yes!” Pride seems to be rampant in the Church. In fact, it seems to be a common, “acceptable sin.” People speak of having pride or struggling with pride as if they are talking about a new watch that they have acquired, not something that is an abomination to God.

Do we remember that “without the Lord we can do nothing,” and that Church is really all about Him? Or, if we were really honest, do we feel like God is very fortunate to have us, and that we are vital to His plan to advance His kingdom in our region? While I have never heard anyone actually say either of these, I have seen those who obviously believed this was true about them. In fact, I have been one who thought these prideful thoughts about myself. When God started moving powerfully in my life, at first I was just amazed at how God could use me. But in a short time, I became puffed up with pride and saw myself as quite amazing. The Lord had to come deflate my ego and bring me back to the place of humility.

A Pleasure-Seeking Generation
The third “P” that was damaging God’s vineyard represented the truth that this generation is a pleasure-seeking generation. We live in a society that is self-indulgent, unchaste, promiscuous, immoral, and even decadent. That is what it tells us society will be like at the end of the age in 2 Timothy 3:1–5, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money … without self-control … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

How does our society seek pleasure? It pursues pleasure in food. “Have you gone to the new restaurant? Their food is to die for!” Think about notoriety. People just love to be known. This could be as simple as “Socially, I’m connected to so many people. I know what’s going on and everyone knows what I’m up to.” Many find delight in material possessions — getting the right cell phone, the newest computer, the coolest car, the “right” clothes, or the nicest house. Others seek the pleasure of sexual pursuits or adrenaline-rushing adventures. Many seek joyful amusement through entertainment. They just can’t wait for the latest Hollywood release, and stay up practically all night and spend more money than they can afford to go to the opening night release in the vain attempt to attain happiness.

As believers, do we have the same priorities and seek the same pleasures as the world, or are we different? If we can say, “Yes” to being different, we might also have to admit that we are probably going to “stick out” in the society in which we live. GOOD! We are supposed to be noticeable. This gives us a chance to tell people why we are different, and give God glory.

Before we can move on, we need to pause in prayer and make certain we have taken care of anything the Holy Spirit has brought up that needs forgiveness.
Lord, forgive us for condemning this world while having so much of its character in our hearts. Examine our hearts and evaluate our character. Forgive us of our worldliness where we have wanted to be just like everyone else instead of valuing the things of God. I ask that You would forgive us of pride, and our desire for the pleasure of the world instead of desiring more of You. Thank You for paying the price so we can be forgiven, now cleanse us of all our sins. Amen.

Time for Transformation
The Lord is not looking merely for elimination of the old; He is looking for transformation into the new. Second Corinthians 3:18 says, “We all … are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” And that one image we are being conformed into is that of Jesus Christ.

In the vision, the Lord promised that He has sent the Holy Spirit to work in our lives as a buffering agent. He is working on them not merely to neutralize our old acidic, worldly nature, but to also release in us the basics of His glorious nature. Colossians 3:8–12 tells us there is both a taking off and a putting on: “But now you yourselves are to put off all these … since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him … Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on …” and this verse goes on to list various things that need to be put on.

Adjusting Our pH
As I contemplated what it was the Lord might want us to put on, I began to think about how the strengths of acids are measured. They are measured on the pH scale — the lower the number the more acidic the solution. As I prayed about this, the Lord told me that there are three pH factors for the Church: personal Holiness, practiced Humility, and passionate Hunger. These are three basic characteristics that believers need to possess.

#1 – Personal Holiness
The Word of God tells us that “… we are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:15). His desire and design is to abide in our lives. If we are to have God dwell within us as His temple, we must be a holy people, for every place the Lord dwells in the Bible is called holy. The Scriptures tell us that He lives in His Holy Temple … in the holy place … in the Holy of Holies … on His holy mountain … in His holy hill … at His holy habitation … in holy heaven … at His holy house … in the holy sanctuary … in His holy city.

Everywhere the Lord dwells is holy … holy … holy, which should remind us of the cry around the throne of God in Revelation 4:8,
“Holy, Holy, Holy.” This is why God commanded us to “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). This is not a harsh, legalistic rule. God is not shaking His finger at you trying to get you to straighten up. He is not holding a hoop and telling you to jump through it. This is an invitation. “I am holy, so I am calling you to be holy, too, so we can have a much closer relationship. I wait to dwell fully with you, but I can only dwell where it is holy.”

If we are going to be holy, aren’t we going to miss out on a lot? I want to assure you that if you pursue holiness, you won’t be missing out on anything important. Let me share with you a story about Mike Bickle who heads up the International House Of Prayer movement based out of Kansas City. As part of the time he spends praying, he often fasts. One of his friends once told Mike that he thought Mike was fasting too much. Mike Bickle’s reply went basically like this:
“In the overall scheme of eternity, if I fast more than I should, I don’t believe God will be upset with me if my desire is to pursue Him. And if I find, while I’m spending eternity with God, that I missed out on a few cheeseburgers, I won’t be disappointed because I am pursuing the Living God.” Mike has an eternal perspective. He is more than willing to perhaps lose a few pennies for the chance to possess the most valuable treasure.

That is what it is like in choosing to be holy. What are you going to miss? Maybe the acceptance of a few profane people, but nothing compared with answering God’s invitation to be holy, for there is nothing on earth like the presence of God.
Personal holiness prepares us for the Lord’s presence.

The application of this is quite simple. First, you need to live a repentant life. This means that when the Holy Spirit brings something to mind you repent and ask the Lord for forgiveness. Your flesh will never point out a sin that needs repentance in your life. If something comes up, it is the Holy Spirit inviting you to remove an obstacle to God dwelling more fully with you. Don’t delay, just repent: acknowledge it as sin and ask the Lord to forgive you.

The other part of this is choosing not to walk on the edge of sin. I have seen so many believers stumble, fall, and end up spiritually shipwrecked because they decided it was safe for them to “walk the line” right next to sin. If you were to decide to walk right on the very edge of a swimming pool, would you be shocked if you fell in? All it takes is one moment when you fail to pay attention, when something distracts you, and splash! There are far too many believers who are walking right on the very edge of sin because it is not “wrong.” It may not be “wrong” but I assure you it is very dangerous. They live so close to a life of sin that you can smell hell on their clothing. Let me ask you: “Is it the best use of your time? Does it promote the cause of Christ? Does it avoid the appearance of evil?” As the King James Version of the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:22, we are to
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Let us keep a safe distant from sin, remembering that it is the Lord we want to pursue, not the tightrope act of walking next to sin without falling in.

#2 – Practiced Humility
We need to be not only holy, but also humble. Humility must be more than an ideal we embrace or a doctrine we espouse. It must be a character we practice in our daily lives — embracing humility as a lifestyle. The world has had enough of proud and arrogant Christians. When prideful self-confidence begins to speak about God, Jesus is not present.

Repeatedly the Scriptures tell us that God resists the proud but draws near to the humble.
Practiced humility draws the Lord’s presence. It attracts His presence. The nostrils of God cannot resist the cologne of humility. This should be more than enough to motivate our hearts to pursue it.

But, in the Bible, the Lord has so much more stored up for those who will choose to walk in humility. Look at what God promises to the humble. He will
save the humble … esteem the humble … guide the humble … sustain the humble … give grace to the humble … and crown the humble with salvation. Humility keeps both the face of God and the favor of God focused on our lives. When our hearts are clothed in garments of humility — knowing it is God and not us who makes a difference — the world will notice the difference and begin to see the Lord in our lives.

The application for walking in humility is not to continually degrade ourselves by saying bad things about ourselves. That is merely false humility. Most of the time when someone does this they don’t really believe what they are saying, and are anxiously waiting for someone to correct them.

The way to begin practicing humility is by expressing a thankful heart toward God and others. The one who helped me understand that thankfulness was the key to overcome pride was my former church secretary, Gladys. She is a precious saint who is a prophetic intercessor (not quite your typical church secretary). Gladys noticed something about me that she found really frustrating; I hate to ask people for help. I would rather just do it myself. One day she said, “The reason you hate asking people for help is quite simple. It is because you are filled with pride.” With that she smiled. I decided to “show her,” so I began asking more people for help. I soon discovered why I dislike asking people for help. It was this; after they had helped me, I had to thank them. When you thank someone, you are acknowledging that they had a part of helping you accomplish something. You didn’t do it by yourself. You are not the “self-made” man you would like to think you are. When we express thankfulness to others, it changes us by removing pride.

#3 – Passionate Hunger
If we sought the Lord like most Americans seek pleasure, we would be closely connected to God and impacting this world! God’s desire is to be sought after and His promise to us is that He will be found by us. Psalm 53:2 says, “God looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God.” Who does the Lord see as wise? It is not the person with the highest IQ. It is not the one with the most college degrees. It is the one who seeks after Him! Deuteronomy 4:29 declares, “… you will search for the Lord your God, and you will find Him when you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul.” The promise of 2 Chronicles 15:2 is that, “If you seek the Lord, He will be found by you.” In Jeremiah 29:13 God declares, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” God has promised that we will find His presence when we seek Him … but we must seek Him with all our hearts, nothing held back. Passionate hunger invites the Lord’s presence!

Jesus promised that the pure in heart would see God, and when your heart is purely set upon seeking the Lord, you will see Him. God desires this in our lives because it is transformational. We will be transformed into His image. Anyone who encounters God is never the same again. They become more like Him.

After Jacob wrestled with God, he was a changed man, no longer the same usurper he had been. When Moses met God at the burning bush, he surrendered to God and became a new man, able to walk in God’s presence and change this world. Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road changed him from a Jesus-hating, church-bashing terror into a pillar of the Church who did more to promote the cause of Christ than probably anyone in history.

Are you and I willing to make our relationship with the Lord the single most important focus of our lives while everyone around us is focusing on money, high-tech toys, notoriety, fun, pleasure, entertainment, etc.? The unwillingness of the Church to say yes to this question is what has hindered us from walking with the presence of God.

The application for having a Passionate Hunger for the Lord is to set apart time to seek the Lord. If I had pursued my wife the way most people pursue the Lord, I am certain she would now be married to someone else. How much more worthy is the Lord to receive the focus of our lives. We must invest time in prayer and worship just focusing on Him and worshiping Him.

Fasting for the Lord
To experience true transformation in our lives, to increase His presence, we need more than this information. We need its application. We must not settle for the accumulation of a few new insights. We need the practice of this message assimilated into our lives!

How can we apply this word and have it become a part of our lives? The Lord led me to Daniel 10, and showed me when the prophet fasted for the Lord’s presence. In this time, Israel had started to rebuild the Temple, rebuilding a place for the presence of God to rest. But the worldliness of the people who were undertaking the task was getting in the way. Some people had stopped working. Others refused to join the work, and Daniel was brokenhearted over this. He decided to fast from pleasurable food (the pleasures of this world) and eat only what is plain and simple for twenty-one days as a sign of mourning.

We, too, live in days when God has called us to make a place for His presence to rest. Yet, the cares and ways of the world are interfering with this great task. The fast I am calling us to is not about avoiding certain food. It is about pursuing the Lord’s presence by adding these pH factors to our lives—not as a teaching we know, but a life we live! Like Daniel, I believe we need to practice this fast for twenty-one days. But let me encourage you. This fast will only take 5¼ hours spread over a three-week period of time. I believe that your life can be dramatically changed in just 15 minutes a day for the next twenty-one days, by spending:

• 5 Minutes for Holiness … this prepares you for the Lord’s presence. Like David, invite the Lord to examine your heart. Wait upon Him and then repent of anything and everything He shows you. Ask the Lord to show you where you are walking too close to sin, and invite Him to show you where He would like you to “draw the line.” (Don’t move on until the time is up.)

• 5 Minutes for Humility … this draws the Lord’s presence. Express thankfulness for all God has done for you. Give the Lord thanks for your family, those who are part of your church, your co-workers, your friends, or neighbors. Thank the Lord for all He has brought you out of and through. Thank Him for all you have and for all your hopes. (Don’t move on until the time is up.)

• 5 Minutes for Hunger … this invites the Lord’s presence. Seek God through desperate invitation. Let Him hear the cry of your heart for more of His presence. Learn to declare your desperate need for God, your total dependence upon Him. Declare the overwhelming need for the Lord’s presence in your heart, in your family, in your church, and in your city. (Don’t stop praying until the time is up.)

I promise you that if you do this you will be changed! You will have more of the presence of Jesus, and be more the man or woman of God you were created to be. This is guaranteed because God’s Word never fails!

May the Lord encourage you to not just read this teaching, but to put it into practice. God has a zeal to richly dwell in our lives. May we rise up and answer His call. Let us take this “Fast for the Lord,” twenty-one days to prepare our hearts and invite the Lord’s presence into our lives in a new and fresh dimension, so our lives will usher in the fragrance of Heaven wherever we go. Pursue the Lord, for He is well worth pursuing!

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