0 comments on “Examining How We Hear God’s Voice”

Examining How We Hear God’s Voice

aaLast post we shared a video about How to Hear the Voice of God. There are so many ways He speaks to us that it is important to share our stories with one another.

We want to take a moment to analyze how the dream and fortune cookie worked together to bring about life-changing faith.

There was nothing obviously supernatural about the dream itself. It could have been nothing more than Mark’s subconscious wishing that he had more influence. This would be a fair interpretation given his disillusionment with his ministry.
Even though he took the dream as from God and believed that God had spoken to him regarding its meaning, he was little more than encouraged. This is a sad admission because he readily admits that hearing God’s thoughts of encouragement in his mind should have been enough to get him back in the saddle, but it was not. It was just a measure of encouragement.

Had the dream not occurred and he not “heard” God’s thoughts in his mind, the fortune cookie experience would have been insignificant. He would have thought, “That is a nice thought, I wish it were true.” What made the fortune cookie experience so powerful for him was the juxtaposition of it following the dream and the fact that the two messages were word for word. Neither the dream nor the fortune cookie encounter was a supernatural event in itself, but taken together they were conclusively supernatural to him and in their effect.
What we believe happened was that two events, sharing a common message, could not be dismissed as mere co-incidence. The timing of the dream and the fortune cookie defies coincidence. Something beyond natural chance was occurring – something “super” natural was happening. This brush with the supernatural presence of God in Mark’s life produced a supernatural gift of faith that he still draws from two years later.
Because faith comes by hearing God’s words [and because prophecy is a supernatural gift], prophecy gives us what we need, beyond our natural abilities, to believe in God’s goodness to us. If we are correct in our belief that from time to time all of us need supernatural help to believe in God’s promises to us, then prophecy is truly for everyone.

We would love to hear your comments and questions either on this website or
https://www.facebook.com/reluctantlysupernatural/

0 comments on “How Does God Speak to Us?”

How Does God Speak to Us?

This is the first part in a practical guide to hearing from God.

One of the ways we hear God’s voice is through His immediate word to us, which is also revelation because it is a work of the Holy Spirit. It has the same effect of revealing His truth to our minds and our lives, but it comes directly rather than through Scripture. It is always consistent with what Scripture teaches us, but it is not dependent upon Scripture for its delivery. When the message comes through another person, we call this the gift of prophecy. How we recognize His voice to us, for ourselves and for others is the subject for another time. For now, we need to understand the power of prophecy and its importance to our lives.

When a true prophetic word is spoken, it is a word of Christ that is coming through an authorized representative. It has the authority and power of God delivered with it! It has the power to engender faith in the hearer, which faith brings the power to fulfill the prophetic word. One prophetic word can produce the kind of faith that perseveres no matter what the enemy throws at you. Here is an interesting example:

A number of years ago the denomination Mark was a part of did a survey of all their church plants – both those that succeeded and those that failed. They tested for a variety of factors believed to be important to a successful church plant.

These included adequate startup funding, level of theological education of the pastor, training for the startup leadership team, demographic studies of the proposed region, etc. One of the questions asked was; “Did you hear God tell you to do this church plant?”
As it turns out, approximately 90% of those who succeeded “heard” God tell them to do the plant. Conversely, approximately 90% of those who failed said they did not “hear” God tell them to do the plant. All of the other factors were inconclusive.

Hearing God imparts faith and prophecy speaks for God. Here is another example of 8 words from God changing the course of a person’s life. The life changed was Mark’s.

Mark describes:

God used a dream and an unusual means (a fortune cookie) to renew my life by giving me a gift of faith that does not need continual positive feedback in order to carry on. The real change is that now I am believing for much more!

In the interests of maintaining peace with our anticipated critics let us say this about fortune cookies: We do not believe fortune cookies are a valid means of discerning God’s will for our lives. The fact that God used a fortune cookie to confirm His previous message must not be taken as some sort of divine endorsement of seeking direction from such means.

Check back on the next blog post for more discussion

 

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What do I need to know when I am waiting?

waiting wellAs we discussed in the last blog post, there is something more important to God than our breakthroughs and that is our character development. The breakthroughs He values most are character breakthroughs and He is willing to allow us to wait for our breakthroughs if it is the only way to grow our character.

The upsetting fact is that He will intentionally prolong our wait until we have learned what He intended for us to learn.

David was persevering while running for his life from King Saul when he refused to take his destiny into his own hands to obtain his breakthrough by killing Saul when he had a “perfect opportunity”.

The Apostle Paul was persevering when he ran a tent making business during the day and spent the evenings serving an obscure backwater church for over 10 years before the Holy Spirit sent him out to change Christianity forever. Here is a man who has the equivalent of several earned PHD’s; who has the ability and calling to write the theology that will form the foundation of Christianity for all time; teaching a church of nobodies in a town of nobodies far from the center of the action in Jerusalem [where every brain cell in his head tells him he “should” be].

HUMILITY

1 Peter 5:5-6 “…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time”.

There are two kinds of humbling in the Bible, the humbling God brings against us and the kind we can choose for ourselves. If you want to make the wait for your breakthrough as short as possible choose to embrace humility.

David chose humility when he loyally served Saul, a man who was his lesser in every way. Joseph chose humility when he set his God-given dream of greatness aside to serve the prison warden with all of his abilities for more than 10 years. Paul chose humility when he submitted to the counsel of Jerusalem on matters of theology when he knew more than all of them combined. And what is most important to remember about humility – it isn’t humility if it is done with an angry and rebellious spirit. Here is a wise plan of action: whenever you are faced with an opportunity to choose humility, take it!

THANKSGIVING

Phil 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Nothing could be clearer than this command to rejoice in the Lord always. We are excellent at bringing our requests for a breakthrough to God, but often it is with the wrong heart. The fact is, God responds very poorly to an ungrateful heart.

Complaining will actually postpone your breakthrough.

This is what happened to Israel at the border to the promised land. And the opposite is true; Jonah complained about God’s commission for him and found himself in the belly of a whale, but after singing a song of thanksgiving to the Lord he was spit out on the beach.

Paul finds himself chained to a prison wall and after singing praises and thanksgiving to God the chains fall off and the door falls off its hinges. David wrote many Psalms of lament while he was running for his life, but they end with thanks and praise to God no matter what his present circumstances.

A friend of mine from San Francisco was in New Orleans during Marti Gras doing street preaching when an angry man came out of the crowd and put a 38 to his head and said he was going to kill him. I asked my friend what he did. He said he looked the man in the eyes and said, “thank you Jesus, I get to go to heaven tonight!” The man just lowered his gun and walked away.

Thanksgiving doesn’t just shorten your suffering it changes your suffering because it changes you. Thanksgiving changes the spiritual climate around you.

The most relevant question we can ask ourselves when we are waiting for our “breakthrough” is,

“What is my Father God trying to teach me through this time of waiting?”

 

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Are you waiting well?

waiting wellHave you ever been offended against God?

Come on, let’s be honest for a moment. Have you ever felt disappointed with God? I have.

Disappointment with God is possible because of a misunderstanding of what we like to call “breakthroughs”.

We love our breakthroughs. We are all waiting for our “breakthrough”.

We have received a promise or prophetic word from God [or so we perceive] and it has not happened yet. Because our lives are bounded by time and space we feel the injustice of this; God has promised us something and He has not delivered.

The problem is; we believe that since God has promised something there must be nothing more important to Him than delivering it.

And have you ever noticed that the breakthroughs we seek are always of a certain kind – a husband or wife, better job, bigger house, a promotion or raise, physical healing, freedom from worry or low self-image.  All things that would make our life more pleasant and bearable.  And what could be better than that?

But here is the problem; God is waiting for a breakthrough for you as well, but for Him it’s a different breakthrough and to Him it’s much more important.

We can’t imagine anything more important than our breakthrough because our breakthrough is usually a very good thing, especially in the area of ministry. Imagine God has promised you a powerful healing ministry. You can almost imagine God’s joy over watching you heal people.

You can picture God and Jesus in Heaven talking and all of a sudden God says, “wait a minute, stop and look at this! Bill is about to raise that neighbor’s baby from the dead, oh I love it when he does this. Bill is amazing!!  What a healer Bill is!!”  Then the Holy Spirit who has been quietly listening says, “Wait a minute; that was ME doing that!!” We forget that God is not impressed with our ministry because it really isn’t our ministry.

The fact is, there is something more important to God than our breakthroughs and that is our character development.

The breakthroughs He values most are character breakthroughs and He is willing to allow us to wait for our breakthroughs if it is the only way to grow our character.

The upsetting fact is that He will intentionally prolong our wait until we have learned what He intended for us to learn.  David was chased by Saul for 14 years after he was promised the Kingship over Israel. Joseph was in slavery and/or prison for 17 years before his God-given dreams came true. Paul lived in obscurity for 11-13 years before his life calling began. The children of Israel were forced to wait 40 years in the desert because they failed the test of character at the border to the promised land. All of these delays were IN GOD’S WILL! He had a plan in the middle of all of them. What we have to understand is that He has a PLAN for you in the middle of your wait. The plan always has to do with your character and it usually has to do with one or more of three things: 1] perseverance, 2] humility & 3] thankfulness.

PERSEVERENCE

Romans 5:3-4 “Not only so, but we  also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope”.

The Biblical definition of perseverance is always to do with steadfastness. It is to hold to what you know to do and not quit. It means much more than just continuing to believe for the breakthrough.

It has to do with how you live and act before the breakthrough.  Joseph was persevering when he decided to be the best slave he could be in the house of Potifar, and the best prisoner while in the dungeon, and the best interpreter of dreams when a fellow prisoner was in distress.

Tune in next blog post for more stories of Biblical characters and the most important question we need to ask.

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You never know who you are influencing

Hi Mark,

You don’t know me, though we met a couple times about twenty five years ago. I was probably eight or nine years old at the time. You were serving at with the Vineyard church in Calgary and came to do a weekend workshop in my small town in northern Alberta. My parents attended and I was there off and on.
My older brother recorded your sermons on cassette tapes. Back then I didn’t pay much attention, while I was a Christian, as a child understands it, I would have rather been playing with my friends then listening to a grown up talk.
Those tapes sat on the table at the back of the church for years afterward. I don’t think anything anyone really knew what they were.
The seminar was on ‘Relationship’ and how it defines Christians and Christianity. I grew up Anglican and religion to me was mostly about participation in the liturgy.
Going through the motions and following the rules.
One day when I was about thirteen, for some reason, after looking at them for years, I took those tapes home. I began listening. It was the first time I can remember thinking God might be something more than an abstract untouchable being. I knew he loved me and all the typical rhetoric that comes from church, but it never really sunk in that you might be able to know him.
There was a tape that talked about meditating on and just thinking about the Lord’s prayer, line by line, absorbing how significant each is and why it was said. I had never thought about how deep simple words could go. I was confirmed a year later.
Fast forward two decades. One failed marriage, and a lot of life experience later. The marriage fell apart after my wife had three affairs. Not the best time in my life. I’ve never had a crisis of faith or even really stopped attending church, but I felt empty. I felt disconnected.
Nothing seemed to make sense. I went searching again.
The pastor at my church was very good. He helped me understand grace in way I hadn’t thought about before. I had moved on to a Christian Reform church. My life started to recover. I needed more. Fortunately by now, the internet was a thing. I listened to many speakers, Ravi and Driscoll, Chan and Stanley. They were good for the intellectual arguments I had inside me, yet I was missing the relationship. This is when I googled you.
I found your website archive, picked one, and soon a familiar voice came through. God opened my head and my heart, and I absorbed it like a sponge. I downloaded some of them and listen to them in my car. I turn them on when I’ve had bad day at work, or need to something for my soul to digest. Thanks for that.
I’m not an emotional guy. I work in engineering, I’m intensely pragmatic and not at all touchy-feely, but I wanted you to know, if you read this, that if we never meet again, the impact you’ve had on my life, through the decades, across a continent.
Your ministry is worth it.
Your words are valued.
I hope one day you get the ‘well done good and faithful servant’ you desire. Thank you Mark.
Tim

 

1 comment on “Twilight Trek”

Twilight Trek

Have you wanted to see God use you in supernatural ministry? Have you wanted to see the power of God displayed in our current culture? Have you wanted to see the kind of working of the Holy Spirit that the church in the book of Acts experienced? Then you’ll need to take a journey into the “Twilight”, in other words, be willing to step out into the unknown and trust God to meet you there. In this video we look at the biblical account of how 4 men saw the power of God change their lives and the lives of a whole city by taking a walk in the “Twilight”.

 

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Oracle

Have you ever wanted to see God speak through you to someone in need of a touch from God. Have you wondered how the early church was used by God to speak to their world. Do you long to see God release his prophetic gifts in your life. If so, then this video will encourage and inspire you to step out in the prophetic gifts.

In this video we investigate the world of the New Testament and see how God used the early believers to “speak for God” in a pagan world that so desired to hear from the “gods” that they would seek out strange oracles to hear from the “divine”. Let this video challenge you to be a voice (oracle) for God in the 21st century.

0 comments on “Teachable moment”

Teachable moment

This is the answer to the teachable moment mentioned in the last video from Mark and Bob – the one about the “sign” about being on the Sid Roth “Its Supernatural” TV show.

When we receive a potential prophetic sign or word, what is our part in its fulfillment?

“In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom—in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So, I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:1–3

Here is the back story: Daniel, a Godly man, has discovered from reading God’s word that God has set the length of time that his city, Jerusalem, will remain in ruins. He discovers that the time is up. According to God’s unalterable word the city is soon to be liberated. God has prophetically proclaimed the exact end of the time of suffering. This should be great news! We would expect a celebration of thanks to God at the very least, but this is not what Daniel does. He puts on sack cloth and ashes and he begins to fast and pray, asking God to do the very thing that God has already promised that He would do. This is very strange; can we take God at His word or not? What is the correct response to a prophetic promise of God?

Here is another similar example:

“After many days, the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year of the drought, saying, ‘Go, present yourself to Ahab; I will send rain on the earth.’” 1 Kings 18:1

Again, the back story: the nation is being ruled by a corrupt and ungodly leadership [King Ahab] and the country is suffering because of him. Sound familiar?

There has been a drought in the land for three years. God’s people are getting desperate. Soon they will be killing their flocks, because they have no water for the animals. Once they kill their flocks, their economy will be ruined and they will be destitute. God decides to rescue His people, not because they are good or are seeking Him [they are not], but because He is good. He sends Elijah to King Ahab to tell him that rain is coming.

Ahab is God’s leader over Israel. He should be God’s man as well, but he is not. Although he is one of the people of God he is in bed with the world. He has married a woman who is not one of God’s people and who is evil. She has been pulling him and Israel away from God. In many ways Ahab is like a portion of the church today; God’s in name, but not in heart or action.

God sends His word to Ahab to tell of what He is going to do to help His people:  God is going to send rain! God has sovereignly spoken, rain is coming! So, Elijah says to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of rushing rain” 1 Kings 18:41.

Elijah tells Ahab to celebrate because God is going to bring rain. This is what we would expect to do; celebrate because God has promised help. This is not what Daniel did and it is not what Elijah does.

“So, Ahab went up to eat and to drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; there he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees”. 1 Kings 18:42

Elijah responds the same way Daniel did. He hears the promise and then he begins to fast and pray fervently. What is the difference between Daniel and Elijah on the one hand and Ahab on the other? All three are Israelites, all three are leaders, and all three are faced with a crisis and a promise. Two pray; the other parties.

Here is the difference; the two who are in relationship with God and are in unity with Him share His heart and enter into His work. They begin to travail in prayer. Because they know God intimately, they know that His promise is an invitation to share His heart and His work and they respond with prayer. The one who did not know his God chose to say, “God has promised to save us, that’s wonderful, but I don’t have any part in the fulfillment of that promise so I’ll just continue to enjoy myself.”

Ahab has no real relationship with God and so God’s heart means nothing to him and neither does being with God in His work. We need to understand that a prophetic promise is not just a statement of what God is going to do; it is also an invitation to join Him in accomplishing the promise. It is as much an invitation as a future prediction. We need to remember that there is biblical precedent for God to change His mind. He does this when He speaks judgment and then hears a repentant people and gives mercy instead of judgment and vice versa.

At the very least a prophetic word is always a call to pray.

As we have said earlier, much prophecy is not given by God to be shared in church, but to be prayed in our prayer closets.