How to Wait Well

Is there a biblical pattern to promises and their fulfillment in the life of a Christian? Abraham is given a promise of fathering a great nation. More than 50 years pass before he has a child. He is 100 before the promise is fulfilled. As a young man Joseph has a dream from God of ruling his family.

The next thing that happens is he is sold into slavery and ends up in prison alone and forgotten. Years go by before the promise is fulfilled.

Moses is the promised deliverer of Israel. He spends 40 years in the desert alone before his ministry starts. He is 80 when it starts.

Israel is promised a homeland. They start out to cross the desert to the promised land. It is a trip of maybe a week or two max. They spend 40 years wandering in the desert before they receive the promised land.

Jesus waits until he is 30 years old before he starts his ministry. He receives a supernatural affirmation of His father’s love at His baptism and then immediately is led into the desert for a 40 day fast ending with warfare with Satan. After Jesus is resurrected, he is with his disciples 40 days before he ascends to heaven. They have to wait 7 days for the coming of the Holy Spirit. 40 is the number in the Bible for testing and preparation and 7 is the number of perfection. They had to wait until God’s perfect fullness of time had passed before receiving the promised H.S. There is a pattern here- what is it?

How Can I Hear God – Part 2

  1. Through the voice of the Holy Spirit “speaking” directly to your mind. [Again, we call this revelation] Again, this is a little different. In this type of speaking the Holy Spirit does not use scripture, He speaks His thoughts directly from His mind to ours. He causes a thought from Him to appear in your mind. What makes this kind of communication so helpful is that it can happen anywhere at any time. For me it usually happens during my daily quiet time with God, but it does not come through the Bible. But what He says is always consistent with what He says in His word. This is the test to apply to determine whether or not to believe what you are hearing.

When He speaks this way, it has the same power to create faith as when He speaks through scripture. For me it is more effective than going through the bible hunting for a scripture to claim. I am ashamed to say I am quite the cynic. Often when I try to claim a promise from the Old Testament for myself, I end up thinking, “That promise was made more than 3000 years ago to King David. He was a very important guy, I am not. What gives me the right to take his promise and call it my own?” This is my struggle to believe, so it is really wonderful when God speaks to me directly with a promise – mind to mind so to speak. No pun intended!

For the last 6 months I have been going through a very hard time, lots of fear and uncertainty about the future. About a month ago God told me during my daily quiet time to go back over my prayer journal from the last 18 months and write down everything He said to me. I thought I would end up with 10-12 things. I ended up with 58 and as of today there are many more. I have discovered that I am having an ongoing conversation with God! My faith for what He has promised for me is huge now! It is big enough to drive the fear and worry away [as long as I read His promises regularly]. For me this is a huge breakthrough! I have been a very fear based Christian. This is changing fast!

Here are a few of the things He has said to me that created faith in me:

  1. “You are only looking at the negative. Look at the future possibilities with the eyes of faith. Trust me with your future, I’ve got it in my hands. You are not going to make a mistake! I am guiding you, you just haven’t seen it yet”.
  2. “You have been using your imagination to analyze all the things that could go wrong in your future. Stop doing that. Use your imagination to see all the things that I have promised you”.
  3. “Persevere in faith! Not just in obedience, but in continuing to choose to believe my promises to you. Don’t lose your eternal perspective. This time of uncertainty will end soon. You are entering a new season of fruitfulness – just trust me!”
  4. “I am teaching you Trust, Patience, Faithfulness, and Perseverance. Make these your goals and continue to listen for my voice. I don’t intend for you to ever live without hearing my voice. I will continue to speak.”
  5. “Turn your fear into praise. Use your praise as a weapon!” And on and on…

Sounds like the Bible doesn’t it? That’s why I believe it is coming from Him. Because I believe it is coming from Him, my faith is growing. Because my faith is growing my trust is growing and because my trust is growing, my experience of His peace is growing… and that’s all I need!

Here is my point. To grow in faith, we need to be hearing Him. To hear Him we need to be listening. We need to make listening to Him a habit. To do this we need to create a protected time of stillness and listening. The more we practice listening for His voice the better we get at it.

Too many people start trying to hear His voice when they are in trouble. It is hard to do when you are up to your waste in alligators. If we learn to hear his voice habitually, when the alligators come, we will be ready. So, start now with a  quiet place, your bible, a pen and journal. Pour out your heart to Him and then ask Him what He wants to say to you. Wait and write down whatever comes to your mind. Don’t worry about whether its Him or not. Wait a few weeks and go back and read what you think He might have said. You will be surprised!

Mark’s shares his experience

Rocky-Mountains“I was an evangelical intellectual. My Christian formation after making Jesus my Lord at the age of 28 was through the influence of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, an intellectual lot in the best sense of the word. I had no interest in, or understanding of, the Holy Spirit, beyond that He was the spooky part of the Trinity.

The local IV leadership had recognized a nascent teaching gift in me and had taken a chance on a very rough diamond – very rough. Today I doubt I would take a chance on me as I was then. They had already used me to teach kids at summer camps and now they were ready to loose me upon college students. They must have been very hard up for a speaker.

The retreat took place at a very beautiful place in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. The weekend went well, without surprises, until Sunday morning. After breakfast, I returned to my room to prepare myself to teach. I was quietly giving thanks to the Lord and asking Him to speak through me when I was overcome by His goodness. That is the only way I can describe it. I felt His love so powerfully that I just had to weep. This was at 9:00 am.

It felt so good I just went with it. I cried for 30 minutes then I thought, “Church starts in 30 minutes, I need to stop this now and pull myself together.” I began to “control myself”, but then I had this thought, “Wait a minute. This is God doing this to me. Do I have the right to stop this?” In tears, I wrestled with this question for a few minutes and then decided, “Lord, I don’t know what you are doing but I am certain it is You so go ahead as long as You want.” So, on I wept.

At 9:45 am I checked my watch and went through the same issue; do I “control myself” and shut this down or do I let it go? I again chose to let it go and on it went. At 9:55 am my friend opened my door to tell me it was time for church. He saw the mess I was in and I saw genuine shock on his face. He said, “What’s going on, church starts in 5 minutes and you have to speak, what’s wrong? Are you going to be able to speak?”

To be completely honest, I was not sure I could get up and teach. I pulled myself together and said to God, “I don’t know what You want from me. I know I am supposed to teach, but I also know this is real and this is You. I am going to go down and try to teach, but whatever You want to do, I will do. If You want me to get up in front of those kids and cry I will do that.”

I survived the worship without breaking down. I was barely holding it together when I got up to speak. The message began without incident. About a third of the way through the message, I hit the part about how much God loves us, and I began to speak about His all-powerful, overwhelming love. I started to cry, but I kept teaching as best I could through the tears. Soon several of the kids started to cry. Soon the whole room was crying. It was not what I had any intention of causing. It just happened. We cried for about half an hour and then it stopped. No one moved. We just sat in silence. I had never experienced anything like that. I had no words to describe it, but I knew it was God.

That afternoon I returned to the city and my band was scheduled to play a concert for a Christian charity. After the show, a girl I did not recognize came up to me and said, “I was there when it happened!” I said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you are talking about.” She said, “This morning at the retreat, when you spoke, I was there when it happened, and it was the most wonderful thing I have ever experienced! What was it?” I said, “I don’t know, but it was God.” She said, “I know.”

I have never forgotten the way she described that experience as “it.” Neither of us had the words to describe what we experienced, but we both knew it was God. It was not until years later that I understood that it was the Holy Spirit that we were “in.”

God is emotional, and God is powerful. God expects us to be emotional in our response to His emotions and He expects us to move in His power.

That experience was the beginning of what many call the “anointing” of the spiritual gift of teaching. Tears are now a part of my life. Although it doesn’t happen every time I speak, it happens more often than Mark the ex-lawyer and intellectual would like. Fortunately, Mark the Christian lets it happen and never tries to stop it. I think that is because he fears that if he had “gotten control of himself” that Sunday morning at the retreat, that experience would likely not have happened, and he and they would have missed what for him was a life-changing encounter with God.”

God is emotional, and God is powerful. God expects us to be emotional in our response to His emotions and He expects us to move in His power. It is fine for us to be “out of control” as long as we allow Him to be the one who is in control. Do you really want to get to Heaven to find out that you missed so much of God’s power in your life because you were so worried about how you would appear if you got “carried away?”

Bob’s Story

downloadIn the fall of 1964, after graduating high school the previous spring, I headed off to college in the San Francisco bay area. I soon found myself deeply immersed in the budding counter-culture that was emerging in that region. It wasn’t long before I was experimenting with drugs and the “hippie” lifestyle. This soon led to an increasing inquisitiveness about spiritual alternatives.  “Trips” on LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs caused me to encounter spiritual dimensions that I had never experienced before. I had attended various churches as I was growing up. But for the most part, I had remained unmoved by the typical “church-ianity” I came across.

One day in late December of 1966 I had an experience on LSD that shook my idealistic world. The supernatural suddenly became a very scary place. I stumbled upon what appeared to be the evil side of this drug-induced domain. You could say that I felt like I had a face to face with the demonic. One thing for sure, I came to believe that this realm was real, however, when I held up my “experience” in this dimension against what I’d found in church, the church came up sorely lacking.

Christians had been witnessing to me, but it all seemed like just words; kind and interesting words, but still, just words. By the fall of 1967, after an odyssey that had led me from Big Sur to the desert town of Joshua Tree California, I found myself back in my home town of Chico in a state of apathy. It felt like after all my “searching”, I’d come up empty. It was then that I was invited to attend a meeting in a home near the college campus. I was told that there was a 19-year-old preacher speaking that night. This in itself appeared as a complete anomaly to me. Most of the preachers I’d seen or heard had been old men that were for the most part completely irrelevant to me. I was fascinated and attended the meeting with more than the usual level of curiosity. This night my life was about to change forever.

I knew immediately that there was a God of power and knowledge that knew all about me, right down to the internal struggles that I was hiding from the world around me.

When I sat down with the other 25 college-age kids that night I was first stuck by the wonderful singing that filled the small apartment. Then something truly unusual happened. They all began to sing in another language. Later I was to learn that this was known as “singing in the Spirit”. Not knowing this language, I joined in, singing some made up chant of my own in English.  I was immediately overwhelmed by a tremendous peace. This didn’t last long. No sooner had I arrived at this new state of mind than I began to sense real nervous stress, almost, as if every nerve in my body was on fire. I sensed something very strange and new to me, something wanted me out of that room! The sense of discomfort was intense, and it took all my will power to remain seated. I was determined not to let on to those around me what I was going through. In the past, I’d practiced various forms of meditation. So, I fell back into the mode of peaceful contemplation, appearing to all around me to be in a state of “bliss.” I was confident that my real condition was going unnoticed.

Check out Chapter 3 to finish the story. If you haven’t purchased the book, fill out a comment below and we will send you the rest of Bob’s story.

Bob is also a published author of more books. Be sure to leave a comment and Bob will contact you directly with the list of his other books.

Share your story with us

Many of you who follow this blog have your own blog sites. Mark and Bob have filled a book with their stories of walking with a Supernatural God.

Now we want to hear from you.

Here is Mark’s story again from Chapter 2: Reluctantly Supernatural

Reluctantly supernatural. That about sums me up.

Have you ever been in a church meeting where things get sort of out of control? I don’t mean the usual out of control which involves a 25-minute introduction to taking the offering or a 40-minute altar call. I mean the kind of meeting where weird stuff is happening and someone is telling you “We’re having a visitation of the Holy Spirit!!” You look around at the people falling to the floor, laughing uncontrollably, crying without shame, groaning and convulsing and you wonder,

“How much of this is real?”

That’s me doing the wondering. I suppose that would be OK if I was just a spectator, but often I am the one running the meeting. I am the one responsible for all this. I just can’t help wondering, “How much of this is real?” I know much of it is, because I’ve been the guy experiencing one or all of those strange things at one time or another, but I also know human nature.

Here is a sad truth; people will do almost anything to belong.

An older pastor friend of mine was telling me about a meeting at his church in which almost everyone he prayed for “fell under the power of the Holy Spirit.” I was impressed until he said, “Most of them were “courtesy falls.’” I asked him what he meant by that and he said, “You know, the person just wants to please you, so they do what they think you want them to do.” All very well intentioned, but it makes it almost impossible for me to avoid the question, “how much of this is real?”

I came by this skepticism honestly. I was raised by a lawyer. Usually that would ensure the high-water mark of skepticism, but it gets worse. My father was a child during the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that came out of Azusa Street at the turn of the last century. He was a boy as the movement was cresting. He was in some of those truly power-filled meetings in which the weird and wonderful were common place.

Sadly, he was also in the meetings after the wave had broken on the beach and started to retreat. He watched as “courtesy falls” became the norm and people acted out a human version of what was once Holy Spirit empowered activity. He listened to one too many prophecies that never came to pass and his fine mind began to reject these meetings as little more than nostalgia.

This was the environment in which I was raised – with a skepticism about anything supernatural. All this is to say, I was raised with a religion without power. I had a built-in aversion to the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. Not knowing why, I bought the party line that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased when the Canon of Scripture was closed. And that theology made perfect sense to me because I certainly wasn’t seeing any of these gifts in our church and, so they must have passed away. After all, if they are not happening among a great group of Christians like us, where else would they occur? What a wonderful recipe for ignorance.

For more, read Chapter 2.

Be sure to send us your thoughts and questions.

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

 

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?”

 

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

 

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.