Definition of DISPENSATION
a : a general state or ordering of things; specifically : a system of revealed commands and promises regulating human affairs b : a particular arrangement or provision especially of providence or nature
a : an exemption from a law or from an impediment, vow, or oath b : a formal authorization
a : the act of dispensing b : something dispensed or distributed
In certain religions, a dispensation is a distinctive arrangement or period in history that forms the framework through which God relates to mankind.
Some of you probably saw my status on Facebook, posted on April 12:
“By the Spirit I sensed a spiritual shift this past Sunday (April 8th). I haven’t said anything about it because I wanted to wait and see if anyone else shared much about it. What I am distinctly seeing in the Spirit is a greater demarcation between those who are of God – those who are Kingdom-minded and continuing in His work – and those who are not of God, but may claim to be. In other words: the distinction between who is of God and who is not (no matter what they say) is going to become greater and more notable. Uncovering of those things which are covered is to take place in a greater way, and with more fervor and intensity. Be aware of who your leaders are. Be aware of who you follow. Be aware who you are friends with, and who you work with. Stop thinking the eternal answer to ministry is fame, or that “famous ministers” have some kind of answer to launch you in ministry. Stop acting like a bunch of suck-ups when you get around someone with a lot of money or who you think can do something for you….and do what is right. Do right, love goodness, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). It’s grow-up time. If you want to play in the sandbox, you are going to get left behind!”
The specific thing I did not post from the revelation was a word God gave to me: dispensation. The reason I didn’t post that word is because, well, we all know how people on Facebook can be. I wanted to watch the words because everyone always says a bunch of clichés: “It’s a new day!” “It’s a new season!” “God’s bringing change!” Nine times out of ten they will say these things and all they have in mind for them is the same things that they’ve always done: there’s nothing new about them. People today want “new,” they want “different,” but what they really want is…exactly the same. Recently while speaking with someone on FB who insisted they were an apostle (what they were was operating by divination, and wound up being blocked), the individual started talking about a “shift.” Since I recently had posted the above word, I was curious as to see what page he was really on. His answer? There’s a new pouring out of God’s glory. I said to him, “What about the fact that people still didn’t receive the last pouring out of His glory?” We want God to do a new thing or have us do something new when we haven’t even done the last thing yet.
This “new” tagging is so overdone, I hesitated saying anything at all about the shift the Lord revealed. This shift is more than just a new wind or something where people will jump up and down and sing the same five songs they’ve sang forever or have a deeper desire to continue in church as they have for ages. This is more than a shift. In fact, I am not really how sure the shift is that much about the conventional church, as most of the words people get for the church are often about “church” in general. There are those of us who are sent to clean up the church. More and more leaders tell me they don’t want to have anything to do with the church (I had four of them tell me that yesterday), they just want to find their own people here and there, and never deal with or address the issues present in the church at large. Those of us, such as myself, get to do all the heavy lifting, deal with all the legalistic, nasty, self-centered, self-righteous, and unteachable people, and yes, take hit after hit after hit from those who are resistant to the new dispensation at hand. No consideration is given to the fact that leaders who ignore the needs of the current church are bringing people into a church that is damaged, and forget the fact of Body connection – being connected to a leader who feels they are somehow doing things right while everyone else may be doing them wrong – does not make the problems of the church go away, nor does it make the people in the church immune from being drawn right into them, along with everybody else.
The mess grows, it gets bigger, it gets worse, while people just look for something “new,” namely, a “new fad.” We want something to just come in and fix all the problems we don’t want to deal with in the church – and now, even leaders are adopting that attitude. We want ministry to be easy, financially lucrative, and make us famous. We’ve grown gravely serious to the point of self-centeredness. Nobody can take a joke, everyone thinks everything you say is somehow geared at them, people cross boundaries and step on your territory just to make their point, and the tensions in the church run so high, you could cut them. People are at odds, do not submit to order or decency, and just do not know their place. And we really think the answer is to bring more people into this mess?
I’m not talking salvation here, it really annoys me that nobody can make a point or talk about something without that coming up. There are some things in God’s Kingdom that are not a part of the salvation debate. I’m talking beyond salvation here: I am talking about the need to heal the church, not bring in a new fad where everyone wears the same T-shirt with a slogan on it. I’m talking about really and truly impacting people’s lives: moving beyond trite, little expressions, or misusing the Word, or just telling people to re-think their circumstances to change their lives. I’m talking about God’s command for us to transform everything we touch, and transform the world because the church is in it. I am talking about making the church relevant again.
The new dispensation of God seeks to make the church relevant again. He’s giving us yet one more chance to get it right before Jesus comes back. Dispensations don’t come as fads, they come for periods of time. So no, it’s not the next “new thing.” We, those who say we are church, or Kingdom, or whatever it is we are calling ourselves now, need to see the church relevant. Not guilt-ridden, not a political lobbying group, not an entertainment capital, not a subculture, but relevant. Relevant indicates we have an answer to issues, not slogans or positive thinking mantras. We need to be practical, down-to-earth, and purposed.
God’s revelation of the word “dispensation” tells me we have begun a new phase of ordering within the Kingdom. Note I have not said a new order, but a new ordering. God is arranging, establishing, and setting up for something among those who will be serious and sincere in His Kingdom. And, simply put, those who choose to be a part of it are going to have to do more than give their lip service. God is stirring things up. He is expecting things of us. We can’t just say “I’m in” – we have to prove ourselves, show ourselves, and impact lives. As part of this arrangement, the first thing we need to realize is we are not under the law – but under His grace. This, however, is not an excuse to be disobedient or to claim to be something we aren’t. There are a few key points God has revealed that are part of this dispensation, and the truth therein.
We shall know the Spirit by the Spirit and one another by the Spirit – Years ago in the Catholic Church, there was a song titled, “They’ll Know We Are Christians.” One of the verses went as follows: “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord. We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord. And we pray that all unity may one day be restored. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love; yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” If we are one in the Spirit, which we learn in Ephesians 4, then that means we know one another by the Spirit. It is how I define the bond of intimacy: intimacy is knowing someone by the Spirit. People argue you can’t know someone from a distance (such as on the internet) or that you can’t impact people you’ve never met, but I beg to differ. If we know by the Spirit, distance is not an issue. None of us have ever met Jesus physically, but that does not mean that we do not know Him! How do we know Him? By the Spirit! It is the same principle with knowing one another. In this season, God is revealing who knows us from who does not – and who needs to be removed from our lives because they do not truly know who we are. Often we think we need to know lots of people and have lots of people around us, but that is not necessarily the case – and it is certainly not the precept of the remnant. The remnant is a small, devoted group that loves God, knows one another by His Spirit, and does a big work that could never be reached in the natural. From the remnant comes many – it does not remain small, but starts small. Who really knows you by the Spirit? Who truly is there? Who truly edifies? It may not be those in the church you’ve been physically attending; it may be people you know all over the world, or who are in another state. It may be a Bible study group you meet with over a teleconference, or a group meeting in someone’s house. We are called to connect deeper in this dispensation with those who we are truly united to in the Spirit, to support and edify one another during this time.
An increase in warfare – Everyone wants to hear the battle is over. Everyone wants to hear victory is on the horizon. Everyone wants to hear that because they want to stop having to fight. God needs warriors in this dispensation, people who can withstand attack. The attacks are intense because we WILL press on to see the end and also because the numbers of those truly working are so very few. Too many I see give up anytime they feel the warfare coming on. Is it perpetrated by the enemy? Yes, it is. But, the devil being the devil doesn’t always work in the way we expect! Often the enemy uses those closest to us – family members, friends, associates in ministry, people we have worked with for many years – and, as a result, we think we have to “make nice” because we don’t want to cut people off. The dividing line is here: we can’t “make nice” with those around us who serve a false god, or who are not in step with the Spirit, no matter who they are. I am not saying never talk to somebody again, but I am saying that we need to set boundaries because the war is intense – and the devil ain’t playin’ (as a very wise prophetess I know often says! 🙂
The demarcation against those who are true and those who are false will become more apparent – This means that it will be more notable who is true and who isn’t…but have we thought about what this means? Everyone thinks it means God should come down from the sky and send a message to us through an angel with a trumpet “People…this is a false leader.” Since Jesus told us to beware false leaders and gave us all the signs to identify them, that means those signs will be more obvious, and glaring. It also means that we are responsible if we are taken in by someone who is false. God’s leaders need to be mature, or as I used to say when I worked with little kids, “big people.” This means all the signs of spiritual maturity as pertains to their calling are present there: they don’t preach the same messages over and over again, they aren’t just prosperity preachers, declaring cars, houses, and money over people, they have an understanding of the Word (we’ll discuss that in a minute), they know how to function as leaders, and they aren’t easily taken in by things. As leaders in the five-fold (which is what your leaders should be – not some other concoction of offices or made-up identities, but apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers), they should hold some semblance of their office – in other words, apostles should be apostles, prophets should be prophets, evangelists should be evangelists, pastors should be pastors, and teachers should be teachers. They shouldn’t say they are apostles and look like evangelists (and so on). Above all, they should be servants – of God and those they serve. This doesn’t mean being a floor-mat, but it also means not acting like a spoiled prince or princess with a ministry and congregation that revolves around and serves their personal whims non-stop.
We need to actually know the Word – I posted a status yesterday that spoke of people who run around with titles declaring this, that, and something else, and they can’t even understand a status on FB. In keeping with the current trends of arguments and pride, it’s not uncommon for someone to post something on their page and then have what they say edited or corrected by somebody else who thinks they know better than what you said. Now, let’s clarify here: it’s almost always someone (without fail) who never has a good thing to say on your page. They never come on to ‘like’ something or ‘amen’ something, or give a word of encouragement – their purpose is always critical. And, almost always, not only do they try to correct what you wrote, they clearly didn’t understand what you said in the first place. So this Apostolic Bishop Evangelist Pastor Rabbi so-and-so, or Chief Apostle so-and-so, or Master Prophet so-and-so, or Super Apostle so-and-so, or whatever they call themselves, can’t even understand what someone posts on Facebook, in 2012, in modern language usage, culture, reference, and context – but they want me to think they have some sort of unique or super-spiritual understanding of the Bible? The Bible, remember, was written over 2,000 years ago in a totally different culture, with different idiomatic usages, in different languages from English (and yes, even King James – oh, the shock!), and with different context. This means that in order to study the Word and understand it deeper than words on a page, we need to have not just the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit’s guidance to genuine study of context, history, language, and usage. This is not going to come about as leaders sit online and correct statuses that apparently aren’t literal enough for them or they believe require extensive amplification so all their counter-points are met. Stop acting like a bunch of nonsensical, slow Saints and get in the Word so it can transform someone else’s life. This is not all about you, and that anointing that matters to you so much right now but not to anyone else (as you are not working to change lives) will still require you pay the $1 to ride the bus.
We need to stop “sucking up” – A lot of people don’t like that phrase. I don’t have another one to insert there, because that’s exactly what we do. When I was in junior high, we had your classic suck up in the class. All the teachers loved her because she was a snitch, said she liked outlining and diagramming sentences (who enjoys doing those things?) and had to be class president in both sixth and eighth grades. I still don’t know how she won because not enough of us liked her to vote for her. In those days, I was editor-in-chief of the school paper. One day she came up to me and wanted to do an article about me, and outright told me she was vying for assistant editor. She wasn’t getting to be assistant editor. I told her, “How much power can one person have? Stop sucking up!” That’s what I want to say soooo bad to sooo many so-called leaders who start acting just like this girl did whenever they get around perceived money or power. People know when you are sucking up. They know what it’s about when you do it, too. They’ll take advantage of it, but it won’t work. Just because someone has money or power doesn’t mean they are where it’s at. You need to seek to be around people who are where it’s at, not people who you think will do something for you. The deepest answers to your problems in ministry do not lie in you going on television or becoming famous. If that’s your goal for ministry, then you need to sit down or God will send an angel to sit on you.
This dispensation is not going to be a fun one for those who don’t align with it. I know that’s not what we want to hear, but it’s the truth. There will be points where those of us who do follow it will face opposition, will encounter hardship and trial. This is a difficult shifting point, a shaking up, a change, a truly new experience for Christians who are used to ease and comfort. It’s time to see lives transformed. That needs to happen just as much in the church as it does for those out of the church. The sooner we realize that establishing what is right begins with us and our obedience to God, the sooner we can see the revivals we long for, and the souls we desire to see saved, come pouring forth into the church. This is a dispensation of order, of discipling, of structure, and seeing God’s grace work to transform even those who may not think they need it. It is our chance, yet again, to get it right. I don’t know how long this dispensation will last, or how long within it that we have to get things right – but I do know it is now here…and it’s time to step forward…and advance.
“All the days of my warfare and service I will wait, till my change and release shall come.” – Job 14:14 (AMP)
(c) 2012 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.