Tag Archives: Christian growth

Finding God in the Waiting

If we were to take a survey to find out how many Christians would like to hear God personally speak to them, I would imagine the vast majority would say, “Of course I want that!” The percentage would plummet, though, if we asked the same people how many actually do hear Him on a regular basis. Why is that?

Some, unfortunately, have been indoctrinated with the false notion that God no longer speaks to us personally. Others have never been taught how to recognize the voice of God. Still others have bought into the lie that they are unworthy to hear God, that they are some kind of second-class believers in God’s eyes. The truth is, God has promised in hundreds of verses throughout the Bible to help us know His will for our personal lives, to give us wisdom and revelation, and that we will know His voice.

John 8:47 says, “He who is of God hears God’s words; you, therefore, do not hear them because you are not of God.” That means, if you love Jesus, you can hear God. You may not recognize that He is speaking to you, but He really is, and having trouble hearing Him is fixable. If you need some help in recognizing how He is speaking to you, I’ve written an article series on the subject. You will also find that information in my book, Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God.

Besides simply not discerning that God is already speaking to us, there may be specific hindrances getting in the way — things we can do something about.

We aren’t giving God the quality time He desires to spend with us. Time is one of God’s love languages. James 4:8 promises us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you….” He speaks to those who make Him their priority. Yes, He can and does communicate with us at random moments throughout the day. But we are more likely to hear Him then if we have already cultivated a listening ear during a time set aside solely for intimate waiting on Him.

You might be thinking, “I don’t have the first idea how to wait on God.” Here are some suggestions to help you:

  • Choose a Bible verse, read it over and over, and ask God to speak to you through it. You’d be surprised at all the new insights you will get as you do that.
  • Ask God questions. Then give Him time to answer you. He may not speak immediately. He might pop the answer into your thoughts later in the day, or even months down the road, but at least you have given Him the opportunity. I have found that God often doesn’t volunteer what we want to know: He waits for us to ask.
  • Think about Jesus.
  • Think about a character quality of God — His mercy, His goodness, His faithfulness, His justness, His purity.  Then praise Him for that quality.
  • Peacefully pray in tongues. As you do that, the Holy Spirit will often bring inspired thoughts, including interpretation of what you are praying, to your consciousness.

Our brain cells are overloaded with other things. Too much news media, social media, video games, or other ear and eye stimulators can so preoccupy us that it is really hard to hear the Lord above all the noise.

Wrong motives for wanting to hear God. Do we spend quiet time with God because we love Him, or only because we want revelation? That’s a selfish motive. It becomes all about us and what we can get out of God, instead of about giving ourselves to Him.

Sinful heart issues harden us to His voice. If we deliberately ignore what He is saying to us, rebelliously do something other than what we know He is directing us to do, or willfully live in sin, His voice becomes gradually fainter. God may even eventually quit speaking. He usually continues to speak for a while before that happens, trying to turn us back in the right direction. And, because He is so merciful, if He can’t reach us by speaking through other avenues, He will still try to turn us from our wrong ways through our circumstances. Remember Balaam and the angel who stood in his way (Numbers 22).

The good news is, even if the Lord has become silent, once we repent, the lines of communication open up again. I didn’t quote all of James 4:8 a little earlier. There is a condition for hearing attached to the rest of the verse: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Repentance goes a long way toward restoring and clarifying our hearing.

While never hearing God is not normal and should be examined for the reason, it’s important to know that every Christian goes through periods when God seems to be silent, through no fault of ours. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are out of God’s will or doing something else wrong. These are times of growing in faith by learning to trust God in the silence. God uses silent seasons to cause us to seek more diligently for Him. They are a normal part of Christian life. But they are temporary. Continue seeking His company and listening for Him. He will eventually begin speaking again.

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Entering the Rest of God

We live in a Psalm 46:6 age: “The heathen raged; the kingdoms were moved.” Besides the turmoil and uncertainty we see nationally and internationally, many of us deal with personal difficulties in our health, finances, and relationships. Let’s face it: serenity is hard to come by in the 21st century! These extreme pressures are nothing new. The apostle Paul experienced stress too. He expressed it, “Our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side: outwardly there were fightings, inwardly there were fears” (2 Corinthians 7:5).

Yet, in the midst of difficult times, the Lord has promised rest of soul to His people. Hebrews 4:9 tells us, “There remains, therefore, a rest to the people of God.” So, how do we obtain it and then hang onto it?

Rest starts in the spirit and emanates outward to the soul. As we learn to connect with the Holy Spirit, we do experience more rest of soul, but on the other hand, we must also discipline the soul to be quiet and then to stay quiet, so that our spirit-man can connect with the Lord.

It takes deliberate determination to set aside the urgent things clamoring for our attention and to focus on Jesus. We all know this, for we are well acquainted with the story of Martha and Mary, in Luke 10:38-42. Martha was burdened down and troubled about many things. Her soul had no rest. But Mary, who didn’t allow immediate urgencies to keep her from sitting with Jesus, did have inner rest. Ah, this can be such hard work, though! Hebrews 4:11 says, “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest ….”

Our soul, which involves all our natural abilities, thoughts, emotions, and instincts, tends to be in conflict with our spirit, which desires to come into God’s rest. The soul insists on fretting and trying to fix problems on its own. Therefore, our spirit must fight to gain the ascendancy, to subdue the natural tendencies of the soul.

We must force ourselves to step away from the issues of the day, small or great, to enter the pavilion of the Lord’s Presence. Worship can be a point of entrance into that place. So can meditating on a comforting Bible passage. These avenues quiet our soul so that our spirit can commune with the Holy Spirit.

Many ardent Christians are fretting at the soul level about the increasing wickedness about us, wondering how to fix it. However, as we sit in God’s Presence, inquiring of Him, He takes charge of our circumstances and begins to work change in them. He gives us insights on how to pray into problems to achieve the right solutions. Even when those solutions don’t come quickly, He gives us an abiding confidence in Him while we wait. Hebrews 4:10 tells us, “For he who has entered into His rest has also ceased from his own works, as God did from His.”

Here are a few Bible passages which will help you begin to enter the rest of God. Read and ponder them, and use them as springboards to prayer:

Psalm 46:10Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth.

“Father, help me to be still before You, to see and know Who You really are. Whenever I become fearful about the crazy things going on in the world, help me to remember that You are still in charge and that You have promised to be exalted in the earth.”

Isaiah 30:15, 16, 18For the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, says, “In returning and rest shall you be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and you would not.”

But you said, “No! for we will flee upon horses” (therefore you shall flee) and, “We will ride upon the swift” (therefore shall they that pursue you be swift).

Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you. For the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all those who wait for Him.

“Father, please forgive me for being so insistent on solving my problems on my own, instead of looking to You. Help me to rest in quiet confidence in You. I ask You to be my strength and my problem-solver from now on. Thank You for waiting patiently and graciously for me to yield my circumstances to You. I put these things in Your hands and receive the blessing You have promised to those who wait for You.”

Matthew 11:28-30Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily weighed down, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls: for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

“Lord Jesus, I am coming to You now, just as You have invited me to. I receive Your promise of rest. Please take all my burdens and strivings. I want to sit with You and learn of You. Teach me to move and work with You, so that I can carry life easily and without anxiety.”

As you diligently seek to come into God’s place of rest, may He bless you with an abiding peace in your heart which is unshakable.

Why the Desert, Lord?

Well over a year ago, I had a dream in which my husband and I were in a desert.  We were there temporarily, but quite purposefully — to prepare for something that was yet coming.   We met up with some friends, who were on the verge of leaving the desert after having completed their mission there, and we discussed with them some plans that God was unfolding to us.

In real life, for a long time I had been noticing an increasing dryness in the  spiritual climate around us.  And, several months after my dream, our friends who appeared in it with us really did leave “the desert” to move into something new, while we were left behind for our preparation time.  And the dryness of the spiritual climate around us further deepened.

I asked the Lord, “How are we going to make it in this desert place?  How do we stay alive in the midst of it?”

He replied, “If you will put your roots down deep in Me, I will water you.”  It reminded me greatly of Jeremiah 17:7, 8:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is in the LORD.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, that spreads out her roots by the river, that shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

The Lord seems to be telling me that we have a while to spend in the desert yet — a little over a year yet, I think.  And I have pondered why.  Why so long, where nothing much is happening?  Why so long, when we don’t seem to be accomplishing a whole lot?  What are we supposed to be doing while we are waiting?

The Lord answered me with Mark 6:30, 31 — “The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And He said to them, ‘Come apart into a desert place, and rest a while ….'” 

The desert is a place of rest and preparation — a season of life when we are meant to go apart with the Lord in prayer, seeking His face, strengthening ourselves in relationship with Him.  It is a time to listen for God’s voice and to receive His blueprints for what we are to build for Him in the future.  It is also a time God uses to mature our character and to put things in place for us.

God could have brought the Israelites out of Egypt and into Canaan in about two weeks’ time by the most direct road, but He chose to lead them by way of the longer wilderness route, because they were not yet ready to handle what they would encounter in their Promised Land (Exodus 13:17, 18).  He wanted to establish in them a deeper understanding of Who He is, and He wanted to toughen them up a bit.  He also used their desert time to give them His plans for how they were to worship and be governed.

Immediately after His baptism, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:12 says He was driven by the Spirit) into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  But this was not only a time of tempting; it was also a time of preparation for launch into the next phase of His life.  He fasted.  He prayed.  He resisted and overcame the enemy.  At the end of that time, Luke 4:14 tells us, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about.”

If you are going through a desert experience, do not be passive about your stay there.  Allow God to  accomplish His purpose in your life through your resting time in the dry place. True “rest” lets go of the frustration with the conditions, but at the same time actively pursues the Lord.  Some people make the mistake of giving up hope and resigning themselves  to the arid climate around them.  They become accustomed to it,  settle in, make the best of it, and develop a “that’s just the way it is” attitude.   But God desires for us to let Him lead us through the desert.  He has His best plans yet for us on the other side.

See also:
Desert Horse 
Three Levels of Journeying Through Your Desert 

The Nature of God: The Spirit as Testifier

The Holy Spirit

John 15:26 shows us yet another function of the Holy Spirit.  He testifies of Jesus.  “But when the Comforter has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me.”   

This is very important to know.  We live in an age when more and more people are craving anything of a supernatural nature, and sadly, even many in the Church are accepting without question every supernatural wonder that comes along.  God is releasing miraculous phenomena in the earth today — but the enemy also produces many signs and wonders with the intent to deceive even God’s people.

We should not throw out the supernatural simply out of fear that it might not be God.  Often, supernatural manifestations which truly are from the Lord are denounced by narrow-minded Christians who get nervous about anything outside their normal realm of experience.  Jesus warned the religious leaders of His day who accused Him of doing miracles by the power of the devil, that this was blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:22-32).

But we do need to carefully discern the true from the counterfeit.  The #1 line of defense is to make certain that whatever is going on does not contradict Scripture.  But deception can be so subtle that I believe we need to go beyond a surface examination of whether it appears to be OK biblically.  It is necessary to be so intimately acquainted with the Spirit’s whisper, that we will sense whether something is from Him or not. If the foremost focus is sensations, thrills, unusual manifestations, and being “drunk in the Spirit,” rather than Jesus, something is off.  The Holy Spirit always testifies of Jesus and glorifies Him above all.

The Holy Spirit not only testifies of Jesus to us, but also through us.  He testifies of Jesus to the world around us: “And when he has come, he will reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8).  Jesus goes on to say that the sin the Holy Spirit will reprove the world for is the sin of not believing on Jesus (John 16:9).  How will He do this?  Primarily through the Holy Spirit-led testimony of Christians, accompanied by signs and wonders such as mentioned in  Mark 16:17-18: “And these signs shall follow those who believe: in my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” 

In my series, Speaking as the Oracles of God, I talk about the necessity of speaking by the prompting of the Spirit, rather than from our natural understanding. When we do that, our speech will inevitably be filled with references to Jesus — and even when we are not directly speaking of Him, so much Christ-like grace and goodness will be evident that people will come to love Him by what they see in us and hear coming from our lips. 

We were never meant to testify of Jesus in our own power, but by yielding to the Holy Spirit, so that He could give us just the right words for the moment.  Jesus told His disciples, “But when they deliver you up, take no thought for how or what you shall speak, for what you shall speak shall be given to you in that same hour. For it is not you who speaks, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matthew 10:19, 20).  This is why Jesus also instructed them to wait at Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came to infill them, so that they would receive power to be witnesses to Him throughout the world (Acts 1:8).

 The Holy Spirit is the One who endows us with the nine spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, many of which are prophetic speaking gifts.  I find it interesting that Revelation 19:10 comments, “… the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  True prophetic gifts, coming from the Holy Spirit, the Testifier, will point to Jesus.

The Nature of God Index   
Previous: The Spirit as Intercessor 

Excerpted from Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God — available in print from Full Gospel Family Publications and Amazon and in e-book form from many fine ebook sellers.

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The Nature of God: The Spirit as Intercessor

The Holy Spirit

In an earlier post, I talked about the Son’s role as intercessor.  Romans 8:26, 27 speaks of the Holy Spirit as an intercessor as well: “Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities, for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” 

We see the tender love of the Holy Spirit for us in these verses.  He sees our weaknesses, especially our prayer limitations, and makes Himself available to help us in them.  He so cares for us that He intercedes through deep groanings within us. 

I find it most interesting that two of the three Persons of the Godhead are involved in intercession.  And, since the Spirit breathed into man the image of God at Creation, (Genesis 1:26 and 2:7), if we are sensitive to His leading, we will be attracted to intercession as we are progressively restored into the Lord’s likeness.

In His dual role as Intercessor and Teacher, the Spirit helps us to pray according to the Father’s heart — something for which we are entirely dependent upon Him.  It is not possible for us to pray rightly, apart from the Spirit of God guiding and directing us.  Perhaps the reason so many prayers go unanswered in our day is because they are prayed out of our own natural thinking, rather than by seeking the counsel of the Holy Spirit and depending on His assistance in intercession.

Praying in partnership with the Holy Spirit is really not so much about us praying as it is about yielding ourselves to allow Him to pray through us.  When we learn to do that, prayer becomes an exciting adventure.

The Nature of God Index
Previous: The Spirit as Comforter
Next: The Spirit as Testifier 

Excerpted from Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God — available in print from Full Gospel Family Publications and Amazon and in e-book form from many fine ebook sellers.

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The Nature of God: The Spirit as Comforter

The Holy Spirit

And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.John 14:16

As Jesus prepared His disciples for his coming death, resurrection, and ascension, He wanted to assure them that they would not be left alone and to their own devices.  In John 14:17-23, He went on to say that this Comforter would live within them, and that through Him, Jesus and the Father would also come to live within them.  How does that work?  It is part of the mystery of the Trinity, which we are not able to fully comprehend; it is because the three Persons of the Godhead really cannot be put into separate compartments from each other.  Remember, we serve ONE God, not three.

How does the Holy Spirit fulfill His role as Comforter?  He gives us peace.  It is interesting that at the time of Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit appeared as a dove, the universal symbol of peace.  After explaining about the coming of the Comforter, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you” (John 14:27).  He does that through the Spirit of Peace, Who now dwells within us.  Galatians 5:22 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace ….”

Many Christians are not living in the peace that we were meant to enjoy.  We worry and fret, as if God had not promised to care for our every need.  The reason is that, in order for the Holy Spirit to release in us what He has been sent to give, we must yield ourselves to Him, and many of us are not yielding.  Galatians 5:18 says it is a matter of “being led of the Spirit,” while Jesus, when He promised to leave His peace with the disciples through the coming of the Comforter, continued, Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Paul exhorted the Church to “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15).  It is a cooperative effort between us and the Spirit.  He will give us peace if we give Him rule over us.

The Holy Spirit fulfills His role as Comforter by imparting revelation to us.  Many times, as I have listened to the Holy Spirit speak about health issues, decisions, or other difficulties I was encountering, He has assured me everything was going to be all right.  And that revelation has always borne out to be true.  The Holy Spirit was comforting me by speaking about my future.  At times, He has warned me of an unexpected trouble on the way, but always with that information He has assured me, “I am with you in it.  You are going to come out of it OK.”

The Holy Spirit also manifests Himself as Comforter to believers by being the continual inner assurance that we are saved from hell and have been accepted into the beloved family of God.  Paul puts it, “You were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest [deposit, as in earnest money; guarantee] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:13, 14).

We must learn to yield to the Comforter within us.  He desires to help us live victoriously, with unshakable confidence in Him, during these troubled times.

The Nature of God Index  
Previous: The Spirit as Teacher
Next: The Spirit as Intercessor 

Excerpted from Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God — available in print from Full Gospel Family Publications and Amazon and in e-book form from many fine ebook sellers.

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The Nature of God: The Spirit as Teacher

The Holy Spirit

A primary role of the Holy Spirit is to teach the saints of God. Jesus said of Him in John 14:26, “He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.”

What does He teach us? He gives us knowledge of God’s ways and character, instructs us in how to live a life pleasing to the Lord, guides us in our decisions, makes known to us our personal destinies and how to walk those out, helps us to know when we are in need of repentance, and shows us how to pray (Romans 8:26, 27). We see Him already teaching God’s people under the Old Covenant (“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go; I will guide you with my eye.”Psalm 32:8), but now that He indwells us, He fulfills that role to an even greater degree.

He teaches us in a variety of ways, such as speaking into our hearts through the inner voice, visions, and dreams. But over and above all other means, He teaches us by enlightening the Scriptures for us. Our natural minds are not capable of understanding the Bible adequately without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, but when we invite Him to read the Word with us, amazing truths unfold.

He is called the Spirit of Truth, and, as such, He guides us into truth. In John 16:13-15, Jesus said of Him, “When he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth. For he shall not speak on his own, but whatever he hears [from the Father] he shall speak, and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive what is mine, and shall show it to you. All things that the Father has are mine: therefore I said that he shall take of what is mine, and shall show it to you.”

As the Teacher, He is also the source of ongoing revelation to us. Jesus said He will “show us things to come.” Prophetic revelation of what is yet to happen is available to us through the Holy Spirit, Who reveals to us the plans of the Father for our lives and for the world we live in.

Through prophetic revelation He is able to guide our steps in detail. Expecting the Holy Spirit to give them specific direction was a normal part of the New Testament believers’ experience. One of many examples is found in Acts 16:6-10. There we see that Paul and his companions were “forbidden of the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.” They then attempted to preach in other provinces in the area, “but the Spirit did not permit them to.” Finally, He sent Paul a vision, in which Paul was directed to go to Macedonia.

The Holy Spirit also fulfills His role as Comforter by revelation, which we will discuss in the next post.

The Nature of God Index   
Previous: The Spirit as Fire   
Next: The Spirit as Comforter 

Excerpted from Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God — available in print from Full Gospel Family Publications and Amazon and in e-book form from many fine ebook sellers.

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