Monthly Archives: September 2011
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! The Spirit of God Bears Witness with Our Spirit! Part 7
(ver 1.1) This is now Part 7 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. We have covered a lot of information and topics that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In this series I have been attempting to teach that God still speaks in the modern world to His children the same as He did in recorded Bible days. Since the Bible teaches us that God does not change nor does He show any favoritism, what He did for others is what He will do for those that wish to participate with Him today. This will probably not be the last lesson in this series because of the amount of information that is still needed to cover it. After I looked into what remained, I think I have decided that there is just too much that you need to know to cover everything in one lesson today. This is a complex subject and it is getting more complicated as I have transitioned into the spiritual dominated parts of the subject. I tried to start teaching with the easier subjects first that were sense realm manifestations of the Spirit of God like prophets, angels, the audible voice of God, creation, signs and wonders, etc. and I have moved into the purer spiritual realm methods like the still small voice and today’s subject of the inward witness. God is a Spirit and in order to be led by Him you are going to have to learn how He operates as a Spirit. People generally do not know what they do not know and therefore they fail to realize what they are missing out on. God says “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Therefore, people do not even realize that God desires to speak and to direct them in their present circumstances. The ultimate goal of being led by the Spirit of God is for you to hear something that you did not know that will help you to avoid a potential negative outcome that you were heading into. This is what God did for the people in the Bible consistently. Here again is the list of 12 methods that God has recorded in the Bible to lead His people. This is probably not a complete list but it has most of the ones that I feel are important for every Christian to understand.
- The Audible Voice of God
- The Finger of God
- Angels Sent by God
- Prophets, Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles or other Men/Women (disciples) of God
- The inward Still Small Voice of God
- The Written Word of God
- External Visible Signs from God
- Visions from God
- Dreams from God
- Prayer of an Individual
- The Inward Witness of the Spirit of God / Moral Conscience / Intuition / Internal Knowledge / Spiritual Insight
- Patterns found within God’s Creation
From this list I have introduced you to every one of God’s methods that I have found in the Bible except for number 11. This method number 11 is actually a composite of several related methods that I placed all together and I probably should not have done that. These spiritual methods of God leading His people are probably the most prevalent ways that God uses on a daily basis and it is going to be very challenging to try to explain to you since they are mostly pure Spiritual encounters with God. To discuss spiritual things using only natural words, terms and descriptions is where the challenge truly comes in for me today. Jesus would very often teach about spiritual things using natural parables, symbols and types that people understood more clearly. Teaching on spiritual leadings is very much like trying to describe the emotion of love to someone who has never experienced this feeling. Since love is usually experienced in different ways to each individual, how do you describe this feeling of emotion so that everyone will see it the same way? It is really almost impossible to do this. In every other communication method of God that I have discussed, there was always a basic sense realm manifestation either involving your vision or your hearing. But with a pure spiritual inward leading it is certainly not this way.
There is a major difference to the way the Spirit of God was able to direct His people after Jesus was raised from the dead to the time before when no one was born again of the Spirit of God. When Jesus was raised from the dead He appeared to His disciples and He breathed on each of them and told them to “Receive the Holy Ghost” (Jo 20:22). This was something that had never happened in all of human history. It was a radical departure from the way things were done in the Old Covenant to the new way for God to be intimately involved in the day to day life of every believer in the New Covenant. For the first time, the Spirit of God lived not in structures made by the hands of men and in the Ark of the Covenant apart from the people, but now He was much closer than you could imagine living inside of every person’s spirit. This is why the new Spiritual methods of being led are so much more important for us to know. The old physical/natural methods are still valid, but God can use new spiritual methods that were never available before to a much greater advantage to everyone. Let me introduce you to my subject today:
The Spirit of God Bears Witness with our Spirit!
Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
I am going to talk about a new internal spiritual guidance method using several new descriptive terms. These are new methods of God that He did not use in the Old Testament. Here in Romans 8:16 is the portrayal of one of the new works of the Holy Spirit and it is very different than anything we have seen before. The term “bears witness” is a unique phrase that is easily misunderstood. If you have a witness in a court setting that is testifying, that is the independent isolated words and work of a single individual speaking about what they know or have seen. In this setting, there is only one person on the witness stand at that time and that is not what this Greek word means. Therefore we are going to have to shift our focus and perspective to see what God is speaking of in this verse. This Greek word means “Joint” testimony and in the context God’s participation is dependent upon your concurrent participation and agreement. If you do not agree with God, He will not agree with you. Always remember who changes and who stays the same and never changes in the God man relationship. People changing to be in agreement together with God will cause you to have power available. There is an implied dependence that God will confirm (bear witness) what you believe and speak. There is another verse in Romans 8:16 that says “The Spirit of God will bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God”, but first you had to do something to become a child of God and then God does His part and bears witness inside of you. This does not mean you will necessarily hear God speak words of confirmation. It is much like you do not have to hear your wife say she agrees with you because you can look at her and know what she thinks by her facial expressions, smiles or nods. Words are not the only way the Spirit of God communicates with men and women on the earth in the spiritual dimension. I’ll try to talk more about this as we continue through this lesson, but for now I want to shift to a very specific type of internal spiritual leading that is labeled the human conscience.
God’s Guidance through the Human Conscience
I am actually going to focus on this single part of the inward witness of the Holy Ghost called the human conscience in the rest of this lesson. Every aspect of the inward witness of the Holy Spirit will be a method that is beyond the realm of the 5 physical senses. The human conscience will always be a method that can be very easily ignored in the sense dominated realm especially for newborn or carnal Christians. I also want to say that the Human Conscience is a valid tool to be led by the Holy Spirit if you are a true Christian. For others that are not Christians the Human Conscience is not a reliable guide for anything. What is a conscience? Does everyone have a conscience? Where is the conscience? How does God use the conscience to help guide people on the earth? These are the basic questions that I will attempt to introduce you to. I’ll start by saying that I could not find any reference in the Old Testament to the word “conscience”. It appears that “conscience” is never directly mentioned by God in the Old Testament anywhere. That does not necessarily mean that it was something that did not exist in the O.T., but rather I believe it was something that God places no emphasis on since how do you explain spiritual things to natural people? It is very much like Satan is rarely mentioned in the O.T. either, but in the New Testament we have been given authority over him so we now have tools at our disposal to exercise and demonstrate his defeat. The word “conscience” appears in the KJV of the Bible in only 29 verses in the N.T., but I will not be talking about them all today. Let me begin by giving you one of my foundational scriptures in this lesson on conscience:
Rom 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
You see Paul describes something in this verse that is really beyond natural description. There is no reference to hearing a voice from God; there are no references to any physical feelings from God and there are not any external sense realm references at all given in this verse. One key word that is directly mentioned is Paul’s “conscience” that is qualified with the usage of the personal possessive pronoun “my”. That is where I will try to begin today’s lesson. Wow, here I go with trying to explain a spiritual concept that many people ignore on a daily basis. The human conscience can be defined as an inner spiritual sense of knowing right from wrong that is attempting to guide us to do what is right. Having a conscience is not based upon any new spoken words from God, but rather I believe a good conscience is always based upon your past knowledge of the Word of God. The lack of the knowledge of God’s word is the root cause of everyone’s problem in the world today. Because of the lack of teaching of God’s word in schools, children are growing up without a moral conscience foundation. Everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes and they do this in ignorance mostly. So I believe the human conscience is based upon your Word knowledge of the truth. If you know no truth you have no basis for having a conscience. The Human Conscience is always an internal reality that is expressed in the external realm by your freewill actions and this originates from the heart of men and women in the world depending upon the deposit of the good treasure of the Word of God that has been heard by the individual. Paul claims that this conscience was a part of him and that he possessed it. There is another factor given to us in the Bible that is related to conscience and this is the complex association of sin and the law that are both interrelated subjects, but I will not have time to teach on these subjects in this lesson fully.
It is like the Bible says, without God’s law man would have not known what sin was (Rom 3:20). Therefore the knowledge of the law of God brought men correction to teach them the difference between good versus evil. But there is more to it than that based upon the story of Saul in the Bible. Think about the story of Saul in the Bible who became Paul that has written many of these verses that I am talking about today. Saul knew the Law of God better than most men in his day and he thought that he was doing good works for God by persecuting the church. While he was Saul he caught Christians accusing them, imprisoning them, beating them and even killing them. Where was Saul’s conscience during these times? Wow, that is a really good question. Obviously it takes more than the knowledge of God’s word to guide someone to do the right things. This is an example of a man who was zealous for God but knew Him not. Paul later tells us that what he did to Christians in the past he did in ignorance. Therefore the ignorance of Saul (lack of understanding) is directly related to Saul not having any conscience to be led by God to help the church. Do you understand the destructive power of the ignorance of God’s truth? It is very profound when you see it. Let me give you a direct verse about the danger of ignorance:
Rom 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
If you do not know God’s righteousness this verse says you will attempt to establish your own definition of righteousness. This is just saying people will by nature live by their own law and ignore God’s ways. This is usually based upon sense realm leadings of what feels good to me, what I like, what I want to do, what looks good to me and on and on. It is a ME, MYSELF and I existence with a complete disregard for all others. These types of people have little to no conscience and will not generally care what they do to others. I’ll try to talk more about this soon.
I’m now going to talk about a story of conscience found in the Gospels where a group of religious men bring a woman caught in the act of adultery and ask Jesus what should we do with her? They were quoting that the Law says to stone her, but then they ask Jesus “what do you say”? These men obviously knew the law of God, but understood it not at all. These men were just looking for ways to accuse Jesus of violating God’s law, but Jesus used great wisdom in His answer to them and He said “He who is without sin, cast the first stone”. Jesus then stoops down on the ground and begins to write in the dirt ignoring everyone around Him. While I do not believe the Bible says what He was writing, I personally envision it to be the places, dates and times of every man’s sin that was present. Here is what the Bible says next in this story:
Joh 8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
There are two key words in this verse that have direct application to my main subject. Of course one is “conscience” that we have already looked at briefly. The Greek word translated as “conscience” is again “H4893” and it means morals. Next the word before that is one that relates to having morals and that is “conviction” or “convicted”. What does it mean to be convicted? To be convicted in law/legal terms means to be found guilty. Is that what we are talking about? I believe it is. When someone is found guilty of an offense they can have at the least two different contrasting reactions. One is called sorrow and the other one is called pride. Having no remorse for being found guilty is like having no conscience and it is a major problem that I will try to talk about more in a minute.
Notice what happens in this verse. The men who were ready to stone the woman without any regard to their conscience suddenly start disappearing from the oldest to the youngest appearing to get a conscience. This helps me to envision what Jesus was writing on the ground that caused the men to suddenly walk away one after the other. What was happening during this time? What was the internal process that was taking place to cause them to have a change of heart and to walk away? I obviously believe it was their memory being jogged from whatever Jesus was writing on the ground. There were no spoken words from Jesus so Jesus is giving us all a lesson on the human conscience without preaching to anyone. Therefore, human memory must be involved in having a conscience. Memories are always based upon past experiences or the recollection of words that we have lived through. These are mental pictures of the things we have been taught from the lessons in our past. Jesus could have been writing on the ground about when each man had committed the same offense with this woman or with someone else and this caused them to see that they might be stoned next. How did God in the flesh use their conscience to help guide them? If you can begin to see the application found in this story to what you do every day then you will begin to understand that your conscience is still your potential guide into doing positive, good and right things. After all of the men walked away Jesus looks at the woman and asks her “Woman where are your accusers”? Then Jesus says “neither do I accuse you go your way and sin no more”. Do you think that this woman learned a lesson also that day and how did her conscience going forward change? I’ll guess she never did what she was accused of doing again.
This was a very powerful lesson on how people can change to do right when they desired to do something very wrong. There are lots of lessons that we can learn from this story. Every man had a choice to make. Therefore conscience is the exercised choices of the freewill of mankind. Every man could have ignored the actions of Jesus and still stoned the woman based upon their knowledge of the law. Therefore any man can ignore his conscience and still do the wrong thing. The law never changed in this story, it remained constant. It was only the viewed perspective of the men that changed. What I believe happened is that the men suddenly understood that one sin does not justify another sin so they walked away. Did God use their conscience to help guide them? I believe that He did. Could the men have chosen to ignore their conscience? I believe they could. A good conscience prevailed in this situation and they made the right choice, but this is not the case in every situation in the Bible, is it? Let me show you another story in the Gospels with a slightly different result:
Mar 14:30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Let’s briefly talk about this story in the Gospels about Peter one of the key disciples of Jesus. Right before the crucifixion of Christ, Jesus looks at Peter and tells him “before the cock crows two times you shall deny me three times”. The prophet Jesus is telling Peter what will happen before it happens. Does this mean Jesus caused it to happen? Foreknowledge is never forced behavior. Peter always has a freewill choice, but the situation becomes more than he can handle and the prophecy is fulfilled just as Jesus predicted. Remember what is happening here. An armed group of men comes and takes Peter’s teacher by force and arrests him. Jesus is placed on trial immediately, beaten tortured and them condemned to death. Peter is observing what is taking place and is of course very concerned with these developments because they could do the same to him. So when a young servant comes to him and asks him if he is one of them, Peter forgets what Jesus has warned will happen and goes in self-preservation mode and begins to deny Jesus. The cock crows and Peter is still scared. Some more people come to him and tell him you were one of them and again Peter denies it. Finally here is how this chapter ends:
Mar 14:71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.
Mar 14:72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
Here we again see a connection and an indirect reference to the conscience of Peter. Peter obviously was not thinking clearly before this or he would have remembered sooner the words of Jesus. Notice the connection to the soul realm and the mind in this scripture. Peter suddenly “remembered” the words of Jesus. Does this mean if he would have remembered sooner that he might have also remembered telling Jesus I will die with you? The pressures of this world can be very overwhelming at times and there are circumstances when it is difficult to be led by the Spirit of God regardless of your intent or desires. What is noteworthy is that even after Peter did wrong by denying Jesus, his response indicates that he still had a good conscience that led him to be sorrowful and repentant. If he had no conscience at this time, then he would have just walked away and we would have never read of Peter again in the Bible. Avoiding making the bad choices in life is the ultimate goal of being led by the Spirit of God, but if you do make a wrong choice then you are not lost unless you ignore your conscience and you continue to go down the paths of destruction without sorrow for what you have done. Let me show you some other scriptures that will help clarify what I just said:
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
1Ti 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Here is God speaking of former Christians. These were some of the faithful that were no longer believers because of Satan’s deceptions and their bad choices. They have fallen away from the truth and bought into the lie of Satan. Notice what verse two says; because this was the important part that I needed to get you to understand. This verse states these lost people still had a conscience, but that it had been hardened by a process that is referred to in the terms of searing meant like branding a cow. To sear meat or the flesh occurs only with the application of metal raised to a temperature of intense heat. What did God say that He would do for Christians? God said I will take out your stony heart (unfeeling and insensitive spirit) and I will put within you a heart of flesh (that has sensitive feelings). Do these verses mean that these people are once saved and always saved? According to God their heart of flesh can become insensitive to the Spirit of God and even become hard again. Therefore, God says those who are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God. If your heart is no longer sensitive to His leading I do not believe you can still be saved or be called a child of God. Being led by the Spirit of God always requires the individual’s sensitivity and desire to be led by the Spirit of God.
I have given you two examples of conscience found in the Gospels. Once God used the human conscience to change the people’s intended actions to do something good and positive instead of the evil that they desired originally and another time God used a man’s conscience to help him repent and become one of the foundations of the church. Both are positive outcomes from the direction of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Both times every man involved could have overridden their conscience and done more wrong things. The subject of conscience is very deep and I’m not convinced that I know it all either. But, I’m still learning and growing and God will cause me to increase in knowledge and understanding just like you.
Conscience is God’s internal moral guidance to help you to do right and good things and this results in positive things coming your way. You see God says the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Rom 6:23). Listening to your conscience will help you avoid the wages of death and will help you to receive the reverse wages of life from Jesus Christ. Remember what Jesus said in John 10:10? Jesus said “The thief has come to kill, steal and to destroy, but I have come that you might have life and that life more abundantly”. God intends you to have abundant life in this natural dimension right now and the only way you are going to get there is to be led by the Spirit of God. If you spend time in prayer and in the Word of God you have a conscience that you can depend on. Jesus also said “I give unto a new commandment, that you love one another” (John 13:34). Therefore, being led by the Spirit of God and your conscience can be reduced to the simplicity of you doing only what is love based towards your neighbor. It is very similar to the golden rule of you doing to others what you desire them to do to you.
There is still a lot more to talk about on this subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. I hope and pray that you are still learning and enjoying these lessons and that you will continue to study the Bible with me. I also would love to hear your experiences of being led by the Spirit of God. However God has done it or what method that He used to cause you to have good success in this life, it would be awesome to hear about it. Share it with me and it might be a tremendous blessing to someone that needs to hear it to give them confidence that they also have heard from God the same way. If you have any questions or comment on these lessons, you are free to give those to me also. Until next time God bless and continue to study and grow in His truth and learn to listen to your conscience.
If you would like to continue reading and learning in this series you can continue with “Part 8“.
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! Hearing from the Spirit of God Today! Part 6
(ver 1.2) This is Part 6 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. We have covered a lot of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In this series I have been attempting to teach that God speaks to those who will listen. Knowing that God speaks begins the process that allows you to hear from God. But, also knowing how God speaks plays a key role that can change your level of expectation and your ability to find God speaking. Too often people look for the spectacular and miss the simple supernatural. What this means is that you may have already heard from God but since you did not know it was God you wrote it off as not being important. A friend of mine that was a new born baby Christian thought he heard God speaking to him through his car radio and a commercial on the radio. While I do not discount God’s ability to do that, you have to be very careful with that natural approach to communicating with a God who is a Spirit. Expecting to hear God speak to you in a thunderous spectacular voice from heaven will usually leave you very disappointed when He does not do this. Of course you could be like my friend and think that you heard something that was not really there. Since I was not there I did not tell him it was not God. I would have believed it more if it was a Christian radio station and it was a spirit-filled preacher who was speaking, but since it was a secular station I knew God does not speak thru unsaved people who are not led by God to speak. This would make God someone who takes control of a human to make them do or say something and this is not the nature or character of a loving God. I have found that God has many ways of getting you the answer and just when you think you have Him all figured out He will show you a new one to keep you on your toes and help you to grow up spiritually. I’ll start today by reviewing the list of 12 divine methods recorded in the Bible that God has used to communicate with the people on the earth. I have been using this list to teach on this subject and we are getting closer to the end.
- The Audible Voice of God
- The Finger of God
- Angels Sent by God
- Prophets, Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles or other Men/Women (disciples) of God
- The Inward Still Small Voice of God
- The Written Word of God
- External Visible Signs from God
- Visions from God
- Dreams from God
- Prayer of an Individual
- The Inward Witness of God / Moral Conscience / Intuition / Internal Knowledge / Spiritual Insight
- Patterns found within God’s Creation
From this list I have introduced you to God’s methods 12, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1 so far using many personal and Bible examples. I will tell you that every method of God that He has recorded in His Word is important to learn, but some are certainly more prevalently used by God than others in the Bible and in the world today. You see you will probably not see God writing in the tablets of stone for a message to the world today. This was an example of a spectacular display of the power of God and He does not normally do things like this to prove His existence to anyone in the world. In the previous lesson I showed you that God uses people to speak to other people on the earth. This is a great revealed truth in the Bible found in almost every book. This method of using a mediator with a message permits God to remain hidden behind the scenes. This method allows all of the people on the earth to have a freewill choice to what they believe. This method also forces everyone to have faith in a God that they have never seen before and to believe in the words of God that were sent. You see if God suddenly appeared in the natural realm everyone would have no choice but to know that God is real. Even if God sent a 12 foot tall angel into the world that suddenly was broadcasted to every TV on the planet, people on the earth would suddenly have an opportunity to see that the supernatural realm was real. However with the advent of movies and entertainment computer graphics, nothing that you see on TV or the internet can be considered to be real anymore. Photoshop and other programs permit creative creations of fiction that are very hard to detect to the untrained computer expert. If a massive angel suddenly appeared in Jerusalem on international TV with a message that the end is tomorrow you would have the majority of the planet laugh and scoff at the creative ways of Hollywood to sensationalize fiction. The book of Revelation teaches us that angels will preach the Gospel during the tribulation, but this proves that they will need to do this because the church is not there to do it. In my opinion it is getting much more difficult to reach the majority of the people in the world because of the growing hardness of their hearts.
Here is another potential complication to the last lesson on God’s usage of men and women that I did not get into. How do you recognize a true man of God? Just because a man says that he is a prophet does not make him a prophet. There is a Bible concept of false that I have not addressed. Everything that God has done that can be considered to be true has been countered with a contradictory opposite called the false that has been authored by Satan. Satan purposefully sends many false speakers and teachers that are designed to cause confusion. The Bible informs us that there are and will be false Christs in the world in the last days. There have been and will be false prophets in the world. There have been and continue to be false teachers in the world. That complicates our lives tremendously doesn’t it? Not only do you have to hear from God you have to weed through all of the false to find the truth. Who you trust and who you place your confidence in will determine if you are deceived into destruction or led into the correct paths of life. This is why you need to learn the Word of God extensively and ask Him for the understanding. Like I told you before God will never contradict His word in anything that He tells you by His Spirit. God’s words are forever established and will never pass away. So how do you recognize the true man of God? You verify what he says by you looking it up in your Bible and seeing if that is really what God says. If you do not see it for yourself, then refuse to believe it. This is a principle taught to us by the early church and Paul. You can read about it in Acts 17:11 and see what the early church did to confirm what Paul was teaching by searching their Bibles. What they did is what you should be doing today as I teach.
PRAYER THE KEY TO HEARING FROM GOD
Today I’m going to continue teaching with number 10 the personal prayer life of the individual. I believe that God hears and responds to the prayers of the people on the earth. There are many people who would disagree with me because they believe God is sovereign and that God predetermines everything that happens in the world and this philosophy is popularly called Predestination, Selection or Election. While you can find scriptures to support this position, what these teachers do not realize is that there is more than one truth in the Bible and they have abandoned all of the others to exalt their one truth to be the complete truth. If those concepts of selection were all the complete truth then why are there so many other things in the Bible recorded that contradict that belief? For example, the recorded prayers of the people on the earth are clearly contradictory to a sovereign God making every decision for man. Why is it necessary for anyone to ever pray if God has already predetermined what will happen? Why did Jesus ever pray on the earth and why did He teach his disciples to pray? Those are tough questions that Predestination teachers ignore.
We are going to talk about the subject of prayer in conjunction with being led by Spirit of God. I believe that prayer is an essential part of a Christian’s relationship with their Father God. You can read over and over where people needed God and they fell on their face to seek Him and He was found. Prayer is certainly more than just asking God for things, but this is certainly a valid part of prayer since God is the giver of all things that are valuable. You can find more examples of men and women asking God for things than you can for any other type of prayer. If I possess anything of value it is only by the grace of God that I have it. You can read about the positive effects of prayer in Genesis 20:17, Numbers 11:2, Numbers 21:7, 1 Samuel 1:12 to name a very few places where men and women prayed and God responded. What would have happened if no one prayed in these examples? Do you think the same outcome would have resulted? I certainly do not believe that at all. I know I oversimplified this introduction, but you should at least begin to see that prayer was a key part of any success that anyone had in the Bible. Let me show you another example in more detail:
Dan 9:17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
One thing I noticed about reading the book of Daniel is that he liked to pray to his God. Could this be one of the key reasons that God gave him the visions of the end times and the understanding of so much? Prayer has to be a major contributing positive factor for hearing from God based upon only learning about the experiences of Daniel. I personally believe that most people do not hear from God because they do not give God an opportunity to speak to them. Prayer should always be a two way conversation and it never should be a one way directional speech from you only. Think of it this way, what can you ever tell God that He does not already know? Knowing that alone should shorten your prayers considerably when you think about that. However, what can God tell you that you had no clue that you even needed to know? Could it be everything? Yes, God is all knowing (omniscient) and He is the one that we should learn to listen to for everything. But there is a hidden factor that determines if God will tell you anything. The Bible says “You have not because you ask not” (James 4:2). What does that mean? That means God will not force His knowledge upon anyone. If you don’t want to know don’t ask. If you want to know something from God then you must ask Him for it. The Bible also says “If any man lacks wisdom let Him ask from God who gives to every man liberally” (James 1:5). The Bible also says “seek you will find, knock and it will be opened, ask and you will be answered” (Mat 7:7). I know these were my paraphrased versions of these scriptures, but you can go and read them for yourself and see that is basically what they are teaching. The key factor to receiving anything begins by you asking for it. People like to assume God is in control, but according to what I just read if you do not give God control then you are in control. Assuming God to be in control does not make God in control of your destiny. God is going to expect you to ask for His guidance if you want to hear what He has to say. So Daniel 9:17 says Daniel is praying to God and then read down and see what happens:
Dan 9:21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
We can clearly see that the angel Gabriel came from God and shows up while Daniel is still speaking to God in prayer. This is very conclusive evidence that you can hear from God while you pray. It is also direct evidence that it was the prayer of Daniel that was the initiating factor to him hearing from God. If you read in this chapter you can never find where Daniel tells God how to speak to him. Clearly God chose the method of communication and not Daniel. That is a very important point that I wish to drive home again. I also find it fascinating that the angel shows up while Daniel is still praying and not after Daniel is finished praying. The answer from God to what you are praying for can come either during your prayer or after your prayer. There is a major factor that is different today from Daniel’s prayer back in the Old Covenant. In Daniel’s day God was in heaven and heard the prayer and sent the angel Gabriel with the answer from heaven. But, today in the church, the Spirit of God abides within me and you and our prayers do not need to reach to heaven to be heard anymore. Many times Christians believe that they have to bombard heaven with a prayer request and they forget God is inside of them and can speak immediately back to them internally. Today’s prayer conversations with God should always come with replies from inside of us instead of how Daniel prayed and God sent the answer back to the earth from heaven using an angel. Do not misunderstand what I just said. God can still use an angel, but normally He will just speak to you Himself if you are quiet enough and listening.
Dan 9:22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
I want you to notice what God gives to Daniel based upon his original prayer. Believe it or not this is what you should be seeking from God also. Skill is of course ability to do something. Understanding is one of the greatest benefits of knowing God that He can share with you. We are all in need of God’s understanding and wisdom to do anything in the world. These are things that God is looking to give. You can go back and read the story of Solomon and see how he prayed and you will see that because Solomon asked God for wisdom and understanding, Solomon was blessed to be one of the richest men in the world at that time. What I learned from reading Daniel 9 is that prayer is an initiating request for the responses of God. You can clearly see that God sends an angel with the message because of Daniels’s prayers. These are simple but yet profound concepts found in the Bible. Let me give you another example from the prayer life of Daniel.
Dan 10:12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
The angel Gabriel is speaking these words to Daniel and they are very deep. The angel tells Daniel I am sent because of your words. This verse teaches us several things. First, prayer is always based upon words spoken and never your silence. There is no such thing as a silent prayer. Next, God heard the words of Daniel and sent an angel with the answer. Whenever you pray if you do not believe God heard, you will pray again and again and again and this is not scriptural. This is the acts of a desperate man who lacks faith and let’s doubts and fears take away what God has already sent the answer to. God does not answer for your much repetition and constant prayer request needs. God hears you the first time and after that if you want to pray it is not for God’s benefit, but for your doubts that God did not hear you the first time. This is another divine example of the sovereign will of God in response to the request of a man on the earth. Daniel did not ask for an angel, he asked God for the answer and God sent the angel. Learning how prayer works and how faith works are key factors to being led by the Spirit of God.
Daniel 10:12 implies that you do not have to be praying in order to speak words that get God’s response. You see there is another Hebrew word in the O.T. that is often translated as “prayer” and it is not this word that the angel said I am here for. Do not misunderstand what I am saying; I’m not saying not to pray I just think we need to expand our definition of what prayer is sometimes to include every word that we speak. You see sometimes people pray and ask God for a job and then look at the economy and circumstances and say “I’ll never get a job” to their friends. When you do that you have in effect canceled your prayer with your words of unbelief that God did not hear and answer you already. If you do not think your words matter then you are highly deceived. After you pray and ask God for the answer it is time to praise God for the answer until the answer arrives. Everything that you do matters in this world and I could give you Bible verses that teach these last statements, but I’ll try to teach on prayer in more depth in other future lessons.
THE STILL SMALL VOICE FROM A VERY BIG GOD!
Prayer and hearing from God is a very simple linked dependent concept taught to us in the Bible. I could give you many more examples of prayer in the Bible, but they are fairly easy to find so I’m going to move on to another method that God uses to communicate with man called the “Still small voice”. Here is why many people in the world do not believe that they ever hear from God. Many times they expect God to speak in a miraculous spectacular strong way and they miss the very basic supernatural soft voice of the Almighty God. God constantly manifests Himself using a very insignificant small voice and this is not what people expect. Why does the Almighty God do this? I guess you should also ask why the creator of the universe washed the feet of His own disciples. For God to make Himself a subordinate intentionally is a sovereign divine sign of exhibited humility. Humility is the ultimate sign of true greatness. Humility is the opposed force of pride. Did you know that no one who is anyone can ever exhibit true humility? Humility is only possible for anyone with greatness. Since God is the greatest of them all, God exhibits true humility in everything that He does. If you are at the bottom of the spiritual food chain you cannot lower yourself beyond where you are any further so you can only attempt to raise yourself and that is called pride. But if you are at the top of the spiritual food chain then you can display great character by being humble. To exalt yourself above where you are is a sign of pride and this is what Satan did and God is the direct opposite to Satan. Not understanding the character and the nature of God will cause you to miss God many times. How you expect God to answer will affect your ability to hear and recognize His voice. Did you know that this is one of the main reasons that the Jews did not recognize the manifestation of their Messiah? Jesus appeared to be a normal man like everyone else and this confounded the wisdom of the religious men that was expecting a powerful King to rule over them and set them free from the oppression of man. Jesus came as the humble servant to earth and He did not fit the picture of the conquering King that the Jews had in their mind for their Messiah. What I am trying to teach you is that it matters how you expect God to come to you to give you the answer also. If you are not open to a still small very quiet voice then you are probably going to miss out on God’s directions for your life.
1Ki 19:11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
Here is one of the most awesome verses in the Bible followed by an even greater verse in the next coming one that I’m about to give you. This verse is about the prophet Elijah but it also has direct applications to me and you today. The prophet must be seeking God and God is said to pass by on the mountain. Here is a great lesson about God and His character. It just so happens that a very strong wind comes and tears up the mountain as the Lord passed by, but God says in His word that He was not in the wind. Why is that important? God gets blamed for the winds of adversity like hurricanes and tornados constantly and I want to scream at preachers who accuse my God of killing, stealing and destroying things when God clearly says it was not me in this verse. Next you can see an earthquake also takes place and again God is not found in the earthquake either. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Why are you looking at the hugely spectacular expecting to find a God that is clearly not to be found there? That is probably one the most important questions you can learn from this lesson. Here is the verse that I want to focus in on today:
1Ki 19:12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
After the earthquake a fire came, but again the Lord is not found in the fire. Here in the U.S. we have had a major hurricane flood the east coast recently and we have had earthquakes and now we have had major fires in Texas and Oregon and God says I’m not in any of these. Please do not claim these are the judgments of God trying to get America to change or get saved because that Gospel conflicts with the God of the Bible. Look at how this verse ends. A still small voice came to Elijah and guess what, that was God! If you read the next couple of verses you will see that Elijah is finally able to hold a conversation with the Almighty God of Israel. The Hebrew word translated as “still” means quiet and implies a peaceful atmosphere like a very gentle stream of water. The Hebrew word translated as “small” means low or thin as in something crushed. It is technically implying that it can be easily missed or ignored. Finally the Hebrew word for “voice” means audible spoken words. This still small voice from God asks Elijah a direct question to start the conversation. Did you know that you can learn a lot from God asking you a question if you are paying attention? How God asks the question and what is said in the question is almost always much greater than you can imagine. God’s intelligence is so far beyond your intelligence that all God has to do is ask you a simple question and suddenly you know many things that you needed to know. Go through the Bible and see how many times you can find God asking people questions to start a conversation. It might surprise you. God asked Adam two questions in Genesis 3 to start the conversation with the man. God then asks Eve a question in Genesis 3 next to continue the conversation with her. When He got to Satan suddenly the questions stopped. Why is that? I guess I won’t go there today, but it is very amazing to understand.
While I have been reading the Bible and studying a chapter I have had the Spirit of God in His still small voice ask me direct questions like “Did you notice that didn’t say…”. This simple question from the Spirit of God opened my eyes to the hidden meaning of the verses. God was teaching me and God taught me by asking me very simple questions. That is extreme wisdom to follow when you need to try to teach people something. When you ask the right questions, the light bulbs can be turned on in someone’s mind to bring illumination. I want you to learn two things from the example of Elijah that God speaks to him using a very quiet insignificant sound inside of him and that this can be a question that will bring great information to us. Finally I also want you to see that in the book of James written to us in the church, God says Elijah was a man just like us. In other words God is saying what Elijah did you can do and what I did for Elijah I will do for you. That is some amazing facts that God is still the same today as He was with the men in the Bible. Expect to hear God speak to you in a very faint quiet voice and this is usually for your benefit to help you possibly to help someone else.
Today’s lesson has been about two key methods of communication that God has taught us in His Word. Your prayer life will always initiate God’s response. Then your ability to learn to hear the still small voice of God inside of you is another key factor for your spiritual education to hearing from God’s Spirit. I’ll try to wrap this series up in the next lesson by giving you the last method that God uses to communicate with people on the earth that I have found in the Bible. This method is probably the most prevalent method and it could be the most important one also for you to know. Sorry to leave the most important to last. I will be discussing some more relevant examples of God’s communication methods found in the Bible in the next lesson. Finally, in the next Bible lesson on this subject I will explore some related topics that are also very important to learn about in being led by the Spirit of God. I hope and pray that you are learning something new and that this information is helping you to grow to be a better man or woman of God. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to ask me, for it is as God says “you have not because you ask not”. Thanks for sharing your time in reading my Bible studies and I will bring you another one soon. God Bless.
To continue readin in this series you may go to “Part 7“.
An Insider View of a Failed Church Ministry! Removing the Funnel from the Gospel!
(ver 1.1) My family and I were members of what started out to be a great church in Dallas Texas for several years until the church ministry suddenly collapsed from the Top down. This was much like what happened to the World Trade Center in NY almost 10 years ago. Attack it at the top and watch it topple. It seems that the greatest weaknesses can be those from high above. If an enemy can bring down the top layers the rest of the people do not stand a chance. The senior pastor of this church was led by God to start a church in a certain suburb of Dallas Texas where he started with nothing and no one and grew from there. He built up the church using a sound doctrinal church Bible ministry, preaching and teaching the Word of God. The church membership grew tremendously in a few years so they expanded from a warehouse to buy some land to eventually build a new church building. It seemed like God was blessing them immensely. The church continued to grow and finally went on TV locally broadcasting the Sunday morning service to the entire Dallas metropolis. Then the senior pastor also went on TV nationally and he quickly became very popular with a non-church based format using a little bit of the Bible and lot of talk about money. This was the first sign of the coming downfall.
The Senior Pastor’s new found popularity suddenly gained the attention of many desperate Christians and the news media especially after he began reporting income in the millions of dollars from people around the country that were sending in their money to sow a seed for their blessings of healing or other needs that they required from God. The pastor drove a new Mercedes Benz and moved to a gated community with no public access. He was suddenly becoming a recluse. Diane Sawyer and the rest of the godless media suddenly brought the full force of their investigational journalism upon the church as a whole and not just against the senior pastor. It seems everyone that attended the church was suddenly fair game for the attack of Satan. We had several media church plants and even one singing in our choir to do nothing but gather information on what we were doing wrong. One of the men was nick named leaping Larry and he played the part very well to seamlessly fit in. We had hidden cameras brought into our church services watching and waiting to catch what anyone would say or do wrong. The news media went through the parking lots and recorded the license plates of all of those in attendance. Because of all of this attention from the media accusations being fabricated as theatrical sensationalism we had the IRS and the attorney general suddenly investing the church to see if we were really a church and they were looking for any legal precedence to shut us down. You see the world never cares what a church does that is positive for anyone; they are only looking for ways to accuse you like the Jews did to Jesus. Crucify them, they cried in the press.
Of course the church back then had a Christian book store and I bought tapes of many of the services there all of the time because I was hungry for the knowledge of God and His Word. The senior pastor also sold his books there and his tape sets there and this was just the way things were done as a standard in almost every church in America. They would sell a tape that costs around 30 cents to produce with the Gospel recorded on it using a magnetic analog strip for 3 or 4 dollars and a high speed tape duplicator and we were all happy to buy it. After the attorney general came into the church suddenly the church store vanished. No longer did they sell Bibles, books or tapes because this is what the world does in their stores to make a profit and that is not supposed to be how a non-profit church operates according to those government lawyers. So rather than risk the removal of the 501c3 status the church quit selling tapes and they started giving them away since everyone still wanted their products. This was the first time I realized what was happening in the church by the subtle deception that had crept in and it had taken control of the preaching of the truth and it had placed severe limitations on the spread of the gospel by assigning a high price to the Word of God. I suddenly realized that the gospel with a price on it was only available to rich people who could afford to buy it. My spiritual eyes suddenly became opened very wide from this experience to the fact that the Gospel was being peddled for a profit and that is not what any Christian or any church should do if they are really trying to reach the lost unsaved world. No non-Christian is going to pay you any of their hard earned money for something they do hold as valuable. Do you get it?
People can always do the wrong things in ignorance but yet no one can ever call them acceptable regardless of if they were done in ignorance or done intentionally. No policeman or judge will care if you did not know the law if you were caught violating the law. Just because it is legal today to copyright and sell the Gospel of Jesus using manmade laws, does not mean it is ethical or even permitted in the eyes of God our supreme judge. Doing what is right sometimes requires a higher degree of commitment, a superior commitment to a higher standard and a greater effort not to conform to the lower committed ways of the world that are just floating down the stream like dead fish. Any dead fish can float down the stream, but it takes a live one who wants to do things different to swim against the stream to go where he has never been before. There are so many verses in the Bible on this subject that I could write a book. Selling the Gospel is strictly prohibited by the written Word of God. My favorite verse is “Freely you have received, freely give” (Mat 10:8). If you want to ignore this verse to continue to sell the Gospel of Jesus, watch God do something new and different before He returns and see if you do not get left in the dust of a new greater movement of God.
The church in Dallas Texas that had more than 5000 members once in its prime and it is now non-existent today. My family and I were chased out of the church by the senior pastor for opposing the direction he was leading us in. We left the church one Sunday after being confronted by the senior pastor in the middle of the service and we never went back. The senior pastor still had a few loyal blind followers who would follow him off of a cliff but the church dwindled and eventually was shut down and sold because the senior pastor had strayed from the truth to pursue another agenda. His first marriage had failed while we were still in the church as he secretly sought the company of other women. He married one false minister lady and that marriage also failed because of more sin. This minister surrounded himself with godless counselors and ignored the Godly council of the elders in the church. Why am I telling you this story today? Just to pick on the failures of a man? No I do not believe that is the reason for this story.
Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
There are no men or women in the world today that are beyond the deception of sin. We must begin to realize that the selling of the Gospel that was freely given to you is a plan of Satan to stop the Gospel from going around the globe. Mathew 24:14 specifically says that “This Gospel will be preached to the whole world and then the end will come”. If you are Satan and you can’t stop the end from coming, what is the next alternative approach to take? I believe you try to stop the Gospel from being preached by placing severe limitations and restrictions on it. There are many nations today that you cannot preach the Gospel without the fear of being killed. Every fundamental Islamic nation will cut your head off for the world to see for preaching Christ. Recently humanitarian aid workers in Afghanistan were killed because someone claimed they were trying to Christianize the population with their outreach of free medical care. Places like communist China will put you into jail for preaching the Gospel in public and they have forced the church to go underground for years.
What are the effects of selling the Gospel? The Bible says God is not mocked whatever a man sows that will he also reap. We learn from this verse that everything we do has a cause and an effect outcome. If you sow by charging for God’s Word, what are the results that you will reap? Does this modern Christian Ministry policy not enforce a philosophy that only the rich can afford to be saved? If the early church did not embrace this godless philosophy how can the modern church think it is acceptable now? You cannot find anywhere that the early church accepted money for the spiritual gifts that were given to them by God. Peter told one man in Acts 8:20 “Your money perish with you, because you have thought that the gift of God can be purchased with money”. The knowledge of God is a gift of God. No preacher would have anything to sell that would be worthwhile unless God had given it to him. Are you hearing what I said?
There are many lessons learned from reading this story of a church failure. Surrounding yourself with Godly council and listening to them is one lesson. Staying on the path of sound Bible doctrine is another valuable lesson to learn. But, the main lesson that I learned from this experience is that the Gospel must be preached and given away for free today to everyone if we want to see anyone else get saved. The advent of the internet has opened new avenues that permit truth to flow for little to no cost. No longer do you have to produce a book, tape, CD or DVD that costs a lot of money to produce and distribute for it can all be published on-line for everyone to access for free. No longer do you have to pay expensive TV time to preach the gospel you can gain a huge audience by posting your messages for free on “YouTube”. These are the doors that God has opened and created to spread the truth around the globe. Believe me when I tell you that Satan is using the internet to spread his lies, his deceptions, his agenda and his sinful traps to the people of the world. Satan does not charge you to get you hooked on sin. I hope and pray that you will share this lesson with someone that matters, like a pastor, a teacher, an evangelist or just a friend so that we can change the reality and eliminate the funnel from the distribution of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God Bless!
Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! Being Led by a Man of God with a Message from God! Part 5
(ver 1.2) This is Part 5 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. We have covered a lot of information that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In the last lesson I attempted to emphasize the importance of hearing, learning and understanding the written Word of God and then becoming a doer of the Word of God and not just a hearer only. Learning God’s Word and then following your knowledge of God’s Word by acting it out, makes you a disciple follower of Jesus Christ permitting the Spirit of God to guide you. Ignoring God’s word and being independent from God’s word will prohibit the Spirit of God from leading you. Therefore I believe that the written Word of God is the number one method that God has chosen to communicate with all of humanity in order to lead them out of the dangers, adversities and the negative consequences of living in a world of darkness ruled by Satan. It is also essential to understand that whatever the Spirit of God speaks to your heart will always be established upon the written Word of God. The voice of the Spirit of God will never instruct you to do anything that is contrary or opposed to the written word of God. God will never lead anyone into sin. Do you understand that? This is probably the main reason why it is essential to know the Word of God intimately.
ESTABLISHING AN INDEPENDENT BELIEF APART FROM GOD’S WORD
You see I once heard the story of a woman who claimed that the Spirit of God had spoken to her and told her that she was going to become the wife of a well-known preacher. This lady went about telling her friends and they even held a mock wedding by faith to proclaim and confirm God’s direction. The only problem was that this preacher already had a wife, but this woman and her church friends were not going to let the Bible or the facts get in the way of what they believed that God had articulated to her in her private prayer time. That is clearly an example of a woman being deceived by a spiritual voice other than the voice of God. The Bible teaches us that God’s words are forever established in heaven (Ps 119:89), therefore they do not change. What God speaks today will not ever contradict what God has spoken yesterday. The Bible clearly teaches us not to covet or desire what your neighbor already possesses (Exo 20:17) nor is it ever legal or permissible to commit adultery (Exo 20:14) or murder (Exo 20:13). God would have to kill the current preacher’s wife in order for another woman to be married to him. This woman was perfectly content to ignore these key Bible verses thinking God has suddenly changed His mind to what is allowed within His established Laws. All you need to do is to go and read the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Sam 11) and you will see clearly that God did not indorse this type of behavior of taking another person’s spouse. Wow, that is a crazy dangerous approach to Christianity if you choose to ignore the Bible to establish an independent belief system of right and wrong. Clearly Jesus called this a type of behavior the acts of a foolish man building his spiritual house on shifting sand and this will result in a great destruction of that house when the storm arrives (Mat 7:26-27).
THE TIME FOR KNOWING THE WORD OF GOD IS NOW!
Also in the last lesson, I used the example of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke to show you the appointed time of salvation and learning the Word of God is right NOW while you still can! No human non-Christian is guaranteed a tomorrow. No one likes to contemplate death, but death is inevitable for everyone if Jesus tarries long enough. Many people in hell today probably thought they had more time before they had to make a choice. However making no selection is still a conscious choice and people don’t always realize that. We are all born into the world ignorant of the truth. Therefore everyone is required to seek the truth in order to find it. Those in hell today have either ignored the truth, did not seek the truth, refused to believe the truth and their ignorance of God and His word has caused them reap what they have sown and that is not good news for them. I like to think of the Bible to be like the manufacturer’s handbook of instructions for the men and women on the earth. Clearly we are God’s creation so there is no better place to learn about what God has created than learning it from the Creator’s own Owner’s Manual! I also like to think that the Bible is God’s divine service plan of maintenance and repair for the human mind and spirit. Without these inspired words written on the pages, no one could be saved today, including me! Therefore knowing the Bible is the foundation for everything else that occurs in our life that is positive. I guess the flip side (inverse truth) of that statement is that everything else that happens negatively in your life could come as a result of you not knowing the Word of God and doing it. I really hope you understand the awesome importance of the Bible to some greater extent. I’m going to give you the list of the twelve divine methods of communication that I have been teaching from again today so that you can review them:
- The Audible Voice of God
- The Finger of God
- Angels Sent by God
- Prophets, Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles or other Men/Women (disciples) of God
- The inward Still Small Voice of God
- The Written Word of God
- External Visible Signs from God
- Visions from God
- Dreams from God
- Prayer of an Individual
- The Inward Witness of God / Moral Conscience / Intuition / Internal Knowledge / Spiritual Insight
- Patterns found within God’s Creation
From this list I have introduced you to methods 12, 9, 8, 7, 6, 3, 2 and 1 so far. So we are getting nearer to the end, but we still have a lot to cover and maybe some of the most important methods are still left to come. I think today I am going to focus only on number 4 and speak to you about a method that God has used extensively in the Bible to communicate with many people. Like the written Word of God, the use of a human messenger like a prophet has been comprehensively established by God from cover to cover. There are certainly overlaps between the written word of God and God’s usage of a man to bring a verbal message to God’s people. Many of the prophetical Old Testament books were God’s messages to the nation of Israel and these messages were always designed to ultimately point Israel to Jesus. However these books also still hold information that is relevant to the church that we need to learn from today. As the population of the earth increased from the two original father and mother of us all, God came down to one man or one woman usually to bring a message to all of the others. The first recorded human messenger of God could possibly be viewed to be Adam. Clearly we are told that God spoke to Adam and Eve and prophesied many things to come. However, if Adam ever left us a message from God I do not know of its existence today. The major problem with believing Adam was a prophet is the lack of anyone else on the earth to prophesy it to. Everyone present on earth heard what God said in Genesis 3 and this is the last time that I know of that this has occurred. It was only when Adam and Eve had children that they could teach them anything about what God had said and I do not know where that is recorded in the Bible either. In the book of Jude God declares that Enoch the seventh son from Adam prophesied about the coming of the Lord. This is the first time that I know of where God says a man brought a direct message from God to others, but it is certainly not the last time this occurred.
BELIEVE HIS PROPHETS BY FAITH
2Ch 20:20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
God is basically equating your belief in God to your belief in hearing the words of His prophets to be the same. This verse is informing you of one way you can prosper in the world. To prosper is an all-inclusive term including health and wealth. Of course this verse is written to natural Israel, but it has a double referenced intentional truth that applies to the modern church today also. God is declaring a greater truth in this verse than you can imagine. God had to speak to the prophet in order for the prophet to speak to the people. The people had to hear the message an then believe the message and finally accept and do the message. This is an example of being led by a prophet and this is very valid in the Old Testament, but I’ll have to explain why it is not so valid in the New Testament soon.
Everything that God does on the earth is based upon a spiritual law called faith (Rom 3:27). If God would come to everyone individually or corporately and reveal His existence, no one would be permitted a freewill choice not to believe in Him. However if a single man of God comes from God to you with the Words of God you now have a freewill choice to make immediately! Do I believe that God sent this man and do I believe that he speaks for God? These are now faith based choices built upon you hearing and believing or hearing and rejecting the words spoken to you. If you choose to believe them, then you are saved, but if you refuse to believe them God says you will perish (Mark 16:16). This is clearly an example of the divine sovereign choice of God. God allows all men freewill to do as they please. God never forces anyone to believe anything. Here is a scripture that reveals the faith based process created by God.
Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Hearing a preacher is a concept that dominates the entire Bible from Genesis to the Revelation. Noah was revealed to us to be a righteous preacher (2 Peter 2:5) of the truth of God and he proclaimed the end is near for nearly 100 years while building the ark. Everyone heard the message and laughed at the words of God and then the rains came and washed them all away. It is also this exact same way today. Jesus said as it was in the days of Noah so shall it be in the days before the coming of the Son of Man! (Mat 24:37). Today, when I tell people that the end is near, I have people laugh at me and perhaps you do to. What would have happened if God suddenly appeared to everyone on the earth in Noah’s day? Would anyone have doubted Noah then? I do not think they could. It is clear to me that God’s ways of doing things are not our ways of doing things.
THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AND GOD’S MEDIATOR MOSES
When God heard the cries of Israel in bondage in Egypt, what did God do? God selected one man named Moses to be the deliver with the message of deliverance. Moses continued to be the man with the message from God right up until he died in the wilderness. This is called a mediator approach to communication between two parties. Not listening to the preachers of God today may cause you to be washed away or even left in symbolic Egypt very soon also. This is one of the main reasons that I listen to every preacher that I can. I have over 10,000 MP3 files of preachers and teachers and I have listened to most of them and some of the lessons I have listened to a 100 times because they were so good. Please understand why God has done what He has done. God forces everyone involved to have faith and believe His words. The children of Israel definitely had this choice and wavered back and forth based upon whether Moses was actually present or not. Pharaoh clearly did not believe Moses had the words of God and hardened his heart against God. God sent plagues and eventually convinced Pharaoh after the firstborn of his family was killed. There are always consequences for not hearing the Word of God and doing it. This is an important lesson but I’m going to move on and continue teaching on being led by the Spirit of God.
THE 5 FOLD MINISTRY GIFTS IN THE CHURCH
Let’s shift our focus off of the Old Testament examples to more modern relevant teachings found within the New Covenant for the church:
Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Here in Ephesians 4:11-12 is the same concept of a Noah or a Moses being repeated in the modern church today. Sometimes people don’t realize that what God did in the Old Covenant is a foreshadowing of what He will do again in the New Covenant. There is truly nothing new under the sun as it says in Ecclesiastes. The thing that has been in the natural realm is the exact same thing that shall be again in the spiritual realm. We know from reading here in Ephesians that not everyone in the church is an apostle. Not everyone in the church is a prophet. Not everyone in the church is an evangelist. Finally not everyone is called to be a pastor or a teacher either. This is a divine designed hierarchical structured approach to spiritual organization. It is a classic set and sub-set teaching from high school math. We are all in the Body of Christ Set, but we are not all in the Apostle subset, for example. Without structure we would have a body of all leaders and no followers or all followers and no leaders. Jesus of course is the Head of the Body and He takes preeminence over everyone else. Jesus Christ is also the only physical man on the earth that occupied every office of the 5 fold ministry. However what God does today is to give some men and women on the earth today a specific role of responsibility with a message and these individuals are held accountable for teaching it to everyone else. The Bible says that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (Rom 11:29). It was this way with Moses and the children of Israel and it will continue to be this way until the church is taken up very soon. Why does God do things this way? You need to immediately stop and ask yourself are you a called apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher or are you just a disciple? Finding your place in the body will determine what you need to do next. If you are NOT one of the classic 5 fold ministers then why are they needed, if the same Spirit of God is resident in you as it is in them? Can’t the Spirit of God just teach me everything that I need to know directly? I think that is an excellent question! This method that God has implemented, gives everyone individual responsibility and future accountability for doing what God has said. Again it is based upon the requirement of the spiritual faith of each individual to respond and to believe the message from God when no one has ever seen God. Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb 11:6) God says. Ignoring the subject of faith will cause you to be unpleasing to God and miss out on the blessings of God and that is a tragedy. Many times I have seen God lead people with questions to the men of God who know the answers. This is a modern example of being led into the truth by the Spirit of God. God leads some men to find certain things in the Bible and to teach them and then God leads others who wish to know the truth to those that are teaching it.
God declares that He has established apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for the “perfecting” of the saints. Did you know that you were a saint RIGHT NOW? There are many Christians who do not include themselves in the “saint” category of spiritual beings. One unnamed church denomination votes people to sainthood based upon some undocumented and unscriptural working of miracles supposedly? Therefore in this church no one can be a saint unless some men on the earth say they can be one and this is usually after they are dead and gone. So technically to them there can be no benefit on the earth of being a saint and it appears to have benefits only in the afterlife. Wow, that makes the Christian life pretty tough if you have to please men and you choose to ignore God. That is another example of how some people have ignored the Bible to teach another man-made doctrine. I am a saint right now according to the Bible and if you are born again you are a saint also right now according to the Bible! Use your Bible program on your computer and search for the word “saint(s)” and go read about yourself and find the truth. There are 62 verses in the New Testament that use this word in KJV Bible. If you don’t have a Bible program you can download one for free. You have no excuse not to search and find what the truth is.
The Greek word translated as “Perfecting” does not mean you will become perfect! The Greek word translated as perfecting comes from a word that means to “repair”. What does it mean to repair something? Does it mean that something must first be broken or in need of repair? I believe that it does. I never fixed anything that was not broken. Also I do not know about you but anytime I ever repaired something I could never call it perfect again. Even if you glue it back and fill the cracks no matter what you attempt to do to it, it can never be called perfect again. The Bible is more complex than this one verse however. There is a verse that says “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature” (2 Cor 5:17). After being born again you become a brand new creation in your spirit, but your mind is still not renewed until you replace all of the old natural junk with God’s Word. Do you feel like you were broken before Christ came along? After you were a believer, did you feel like you were a new creature? This is why we do not walk by feelings, we walk by faith in God’s Word. I need to get back to the main subject and talk about God’s usage of the 5 ministry gifts. God says that the ministry gifts as described in Ephesians have been given for the good of the whole church body. If you are a teacher then teach. If you are not a teacher then learn to study from a teacher called by God. If you are an apostle go to who God has sent you to. If you are an evangelist preach the gospel of salvation to everyone. If you are a pastor become a shepherd to God’s sheep. If you are a prophet prophesy what God gives you for the edifying of the body. Soon I will give you an example of just because you are an apostle that does not mean you do not need a prophet.
I have heard many people say to me I can read and study the Bible all by myself and the Spirit of God will teach me everything that I need to know! That is a belief built upon a partial truth ignoring all other truths. If that was the complete truth there would be no need for God to have teachers like me in the church. If that was the complete truth, there would also be no requirement for you to have faith! The scripture in John 16:13 that people embrace incorrectly says “The Spirit of Truth will guide you into all truth”. But, if you expect the Spirit of God to teach you all truth you have misapplied the verse. There is a great deal of difference between being led into the truth and being taught the truth directly by the Spirit. I have people being led by God to my website to get answers that they have been searching for and this is how God works. When you try to misapply the Bible you paint yourself into a corner that limits God’s ability to reach you. If you expect God to teach you what He has already taught someone else to give you the answer, then you are expecting things to happen outside of the designed plan of God. It is true that everyone is required to study the Bible for themselves (including me) and to research and prove all things that anyone else teaches by confirming it in the Word of God! (Acts 17:11) But that does not mean that God is going to come to you and tell you everything nor does it mean God will give everyone the same revelation knowledge or understanding of the Bible. You just cannot find this in the Bible. God gave Paul specific revelation that He gave no one else. God gave John the revelation of the end times and you cannot find anyone else that wrote the same book of information unless you go back to Daniel and see some specific parallels. Guess what I’m a Bible teacher and I do not know everything. Only God knows everything. No man is God! That is another reason why I listen to other Bible teachers. God will never give any one man the complete knowledge of the entire Bible. So I’ll tell you very plainly you need to read and study from many teachers of God and not just one. The more you know the faster you will be able to recognize which ones are stronger in their knowledge of God and which ones are less mature than maybe you are. Some preachers I listen to one time and move on because they have no clue what they are saying. You need to learn to let the Spirit of God within you confirm what a man is teaching you and I’ll get into that more soon.
A PERSONAL EXAMPLE OF GUIDANCE FROM A PREACHER
I went to a church that had a pastor that is still one of my favorites. When I lost my job over twenty years ago because the company went bankrupt, I started seeking God for help and guidance. I told you in the last lesson that I began to seek God by looking first to the Word of God and God spoke to me about having a job for me from a verse that I saw in the Bible. But, that was not the end of the story. Within two weeks I had two job offers from two different companies. At that time I was standing at a fork in the road of life decision point. I knew that God had said that He had a job for me by me believing His Word, but which one do I take? If I only had one job offer I could assume that this was the one that God had opened up for me. But since I had two job offers I had to assume that one was the right one and the other one was the wrong one. So I began to pray again and ask God for which one to take. One Sunday night in church my favorite preacher was speaking and all of sudden he said something that rang true in my spirit to which job to take. This is a prime example of how the Spirit of God can answer your prayer request by speaking through another Spirit filled man of God. The preacher never knew he was speaking to me and I never told him I needed to hear from God. This makes it more spectacular when God answers in this way. It also proves He heard my prayer request because the preacher was led by the Spirit of God and he was able to deliver the message to me from God. I took the words of the preacher to be from God and not from the preacher and I made the choice and worked for that company that I felt led to go to. I hope you understand what I am saying today. God sometimes uses other people to get you a message. I have to admit I was not expecting to hear it from the preacher, but God did it this way to teach me a new lesson. The preacher that is speaking to you may never be talking directly to you, looking at you and they may not tell you anything specifically like your name or your choices that you should make but they may simply just say enough to give you the direction to go in and you know it in your spirit. I don’t know how God does it exactly or why God does it this way sometimes, but I am a witness to the fact that it is done this way often in churches that are led by the Spirit of God. If you are not getting directions or guidance from you pastor to the events of life you are going to the wrong church.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF BEING LED BY A MAN OF GOD
I’ll give you another example from a preacher that gave his testimony of how God led him. This preacher was offered a church position in Texas. He really wanted to make sure he was being led by God and not by an offer so he began to pray and seek God for what to do! Do I stay here or do I go to Texas? This was another example of a fork in the road of life with no visible sign posts for the direction to travel in. Always remember if any road could get you where you needed to be then it would not matter which decision you made. However when I studied the Bible, I learned that just any road is not the right answer. Only the narrow right path will lead you to life and the wide path leads you to destruction. So it definitely matters in life which road you select in everything that you do. This preacher continued for several days praying and asking God for direction and one day he was walking outside down the road praying again for what to do and another minister of God not from his church came running by getting his exercise. He suddenly stopped and said something to the effect of you better stay where you are at and then kept running by. This running preacher did not know the situation nor was he asked to give his opinion of what was being contemplated. It was simply the Spirit of God speaking through him confirming what the other preacher should do, but was debating in his mind because of a new church offer. Again this is just how God does things sometimes. The preacher stayed in the church he was at and that church is now one of the largest churches in that city.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU NEED TO KNOW WHICH ROAD TO TAKE?
If you are ever faced with a fork in the road life decision like should I marry that man? Or should I work for that company? Or should I move to another city? Then you need to stop and seek God for what to do. Don’t do anything or be pressured to do anything until you actually are confident that you have heard from God. Did you hear what I said? This could be a matter of minutes or even a matter of several days. Look for the answer to come in several different ways depending upon your spiritual maturity and your ability to hear the Spirit of God. I’ll use a famous movie line that I remember which the teacher said to the student “Don’t move till you see it”. If you move before you hear from God you will probably regret it very soon. If you pray and ask for directions then expect to hear God answer, but you are going to have to exercise some patience and wait until you hear. Let me give you another Bible example from the New Testament:
Act 21:10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
Act 21:11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
People, we are told are tarrying in Jerusalem for many days? To tarry is an act of waiting and exercising patience. Why were these people in Jerusalem waiting? I guess they were waiting to hear from God? I based that upon what happened next! God sends a prophet to the group in Jerusalem with a very specific message for them. Remember we are talking about the Apostle Paul here in this group of people! Apparently even an apostle needs a prophet occasionally. The prophet takes Paul’s girdle and binds his hands and feet and here is the part that I want you to see. The prophet says “Thus says the Holy Ghost”. Wow is that important? These are not the words of the prophet, they are clearly the words carried to be delivered to Paul from God. God teaches us that men still bring messages from God to other men even if they are great apostles and wrote 2/3 of the New Testament. If you think you will never need your brother or your sister in Christ you might just miss one of the most important messages from God that you have ever needed to hear. Are you grasping these concepts today?
Why didn’t God just speak to Paul directly? I personally believe that God did speak to Paul directly and the prophet sent was just a confirmation to what Paul already knew in his spirit. I will definitely speak more in the future about being led by the Spirit of God personally, but today I am just trying to teach you how God still uses men to get messages to other men. I also want you to see that you do not have to be a preacher, teacher, apostle, prophet or evangelist to be sent by God with a message.
Act 9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
Act 9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
I want you to see in these two verses that there is a lot going on. The spiritual information being taught is extremely complex and very extensive. Before these verses Saul was on the road to Damascus and Jesus shows up in a vision and this is another demonstration of the sovereign will of God getting the attention of a future great man of God. In this vision Saul was saved, did you know that can happen? The Bible says Saul must have believed in the Lord because that is what Saul calls Him, his Lord! According to what God says in Romans 10:9-10, that is all it takes to be saved. It is also interesting to note what Jesus said to Saul as instructions. Let me give you verse 6 quickly:
Act 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Jesus was speaking to Saul personally in a vision and He tells Saul to go into the city and basically wait for further instructions. Why didn’t God just tell Saul what was going to happen right then? God has his full attention, but the full disclosure of information was never given. This is how God operates. God will tell you the step by step instructions of what to do and He will hardly ever give you the end step before the first step. As you can see Saul is required to obey and to believe which is called walking by faith. The Spirit of God then speaks to Ananias in a vision and tells him to go to the house where Saul is for the next steps to take place. Both men are required to walk by faith.
We are told that Saul is in a house praying and then before that it says a certain disciple named Ananias must also have been praying because He was given a vision from God to go to see Saul. Saul is the future Apostle Paul and God uses a relatively unknown spirit-filled disciple to deliver a message so that Saul can receive his sight and be filled with the Spirit of God. What I am attempting to teach you is that you do not have to hold an office of one of the five-fold ministry positions in order to be used mightily by God. Anyone available can be used by God to bring someone a message of help so that they can receive an answer to their prayer. What we learn from this story is that if Saul would have refused to be ministered to by a simple disciple because he was looking for a great prophet, or an angel or another vision from Jesus, he would have not written the greatest part of the New Testament. Do you see my points found in this story? Can you learn anything from this that you can apply to your situation today? I know I can! Maybe you should go back and reread the entire chapter and see what other nuggets of spiritual knowledge you can find hidden there.
ASKING GOD THE RIGHT QUESTIONS!
Let me speak to another issue in closing concerning how to be led by God with greater precision. Does it matter how you ask God for direction? You better believe it matters. Everything you do and how you do it always matters. If you ask without using any wisdom you may paint God into a corner where He has to choose between the lesser of two evils. You see there are three different types of questions generally speaking. These are Yes/No Questions, closed questions and open questions. If you are faced with a fork in the road life decision choosing between two obvious choices, always leave God a different answer or option. This in effect changes the question from a closed question to an open type of question. In other words when I look back upon my decision of choosing between two jobs that were offered to me and I only asked God “Do I work for company A or do I work for company B?” Do you see the problem with that question? What if there was a company C that was the optimal way to go and I missed that one because God had to choose between the lesser of the two bad choices that I gave Him to select from? Wow, that is some very good and valuable teaching and I hope you understand what I am saying? Remember when Jesus came up to the boat walking on the water in Matthew 14 and there was a great storm raging and the disciples cried out in fear and then suddenly Peter says “Lord if it is you bid me to come on the water”! That is a clear example of painting God into a corner with a closed question without thinking about what you are asking. Because it was Jesus He had no choice but to say come! There were no other correct answers for Jesus. Jesus could not say no Peter it is not me, don’t come! He could also not say “Yes it is me but don’t come”. Neither of these would have been permissible for the question being asked. So Peter goes out to walk on the water like Jesus and eventually is shrouded in new found doubts of uncertainty and begins to sink. Now Jesus is forced to save Peter because he was not ready for water walking faith. Peter should have asked “Lord if it is you and it is your will tell me to come” or “If I am able to stay above the water and it is you, bid me to come”. Would either of these different types of questions resulted in a different answer from Jesus? Potentially yes! What I have learned is we would all benefit if we would learn to think before we speak. Always give God an out for a different better possible direction to go in. Never place specific limitations on God’s answer by your question. Never stop and say “Should I stay here or should I go to Texas”? There could be something else behind door number 3 that is way the best choice for you but you missed it because you were not open to that possibility. I began to learn this lesson from how Jesus prayed and asked His father things. Once Jesus is recorded praying and saying “If it be possible, take this cup from me, nevertheless not my will, but thine be done”. You can see that Jesus left it open ended to do the will of God and did not elminate any possible choices.
I hope you have learned something new about being led by the Spirit of God today. This subject is very complex and God has many ways to get a message to you. Being open and smart to these methods will allow God to get to you faster than if you were narrow minded and placed constraints on God’s ways to communicate. We still have several more methods to discuss and hopefully we will go a bit faster now, but I cannot guarantee that. I will have to wait and see how the Lord leads me and then try to follow what He wants to say. If you have ever heard God speak through a minister to answer your question to God, please tell me about it. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has experienced this. Thanks for taking the time to read and study the Bible today and until next time God Bless you tremendously.
If you would like to continue reading in this series of lessons you may continue to “Part 6” now.