Hearing the Voice of God

God reveals Himself to us in one of two primary ways. The first way is through Special Revelation, or the inspired and infallible Word of God. In its pages, we find promises, & learn about the nature of God, Who I believe is continually trying to speak into our lives concerning our pasts, our current situations, our futures, & ultimately our destiny.

The other way God chooses to reveal Himself to us is through General Revelation, meaning the wondrous creation of the world & everything that dwells within it.

Years ago, I read a book by Gary Thomas, called Sacred Pathways, which suggests that each of us has a primary way in which we grow closer to the Lord. Call it your love language with God. If you were wondering, God’s love language is obedience.

Now, this premise is not some Oprah doctrine that claims all roads lead to Jesus; instead, it highlights 9 various ways we can grow closer to the Lord. For me, worship is when I feel closest to the Lord and is why I am normally down in the very front during the worship portion of service. Our spiritual pathway to God helps us stay plugged into Him so we would not only come to know His will, but also feel His presence in our lives.

Each of us are vessels meant to be poured out, so as we pour ourselves into the lives of others, we must replenish ourselves from the Source.

Today, I want to focus on identifying the various voices in our life, what to do with them, and how to tap into a permanent connection to God. The question is not always about hearing God speak; instead, it is being able to recognize His voice when He does speak to us and then our choices thereafter.

God is continually trying to speak to us through: His Word, His Son – Jesus Christ, Creation & Nature, Praise, Fellow Believers, Our Circumstances, His Holy Spirit, & Prayer.

The Lord conversed with Adam in the garden. He told Noah to build an ark. He spoke to Moses in the form of a burning bush.

He promised Abraham a son. Paul heard His voice on the road to Damascus. However, despite all these occurrences, as Christians today, many of us still question whether God still speaks to us and if so, we question: How? When? Where? & Why?

Hearing from God is one of those topics that can easily stir up frustration and confusion. Maybe you’re already asking some of these questions today:

How do I know if God is speaking to me?

How do I discern whether it is His voice speaking or just thoughts in my own head?

How can I make sense of what God’s calling me to do?

One of the first things we must acknowledge is how busy our lives have become. Life is full of distractions & the more we become advanced as a society, the more our time and the way we spend it becomes a precious & often wasted commodity.

When we wish or fantasize about the possibility of having more time, if we are being honest with ourselves, any gained time would just be filled with the same things we are currently filling it with.

The real problems in our life begin to arise when we are too busy to listen for the voice of God or when we choose to ignore that still small voice. Some of us may be new to the faith and have not had much experience dealing with hearing God’s voice, while others have become quite proficient in tuning that voice out.

Being able to hear and discern the voice of God is crucial to our walk as followers of Christ and the more we seek to hear from God, the more we allow ourselves to be used by Him.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV)

Gordon Fee explains, “Being spiritual does not lead to elitism; it leads to a deeper understanding of God’s profound mystery—redemption through a crucified Messiah. In other words, the person lacking the Spirit cannot discern what God is doing; while the one with the Spirit is able to do so because of the Spirit.”[1]

God wants to speak into each of our lives and for many of us, He already has, but what He said or what answer He gave us was not what we were looking to hear, so we have instead chosen to ignore Him.

I’m here to tell you that God is not going to speak something new into your life until you obey and acknowledge what He’s already said to you!

Before a race, I like to familiarize myself with the course, but I especially like to see the finish line, because when things get tough and the notion of quitting begins to enter my mind, I can focus on crossing the finish line and also how far I’ve already come.

In some cases, we embark on certain journeys in life because of what others have promised is waiting on the other side, while others we have taken because we know if we stay where we are, we will perish.

If we make the choice to walk through whatever we are facing in life, we will eventually see the miracle at the end, and in many cases, we will become the miracle at the end!

Throughout my walk with God, I have come to know that being able to hear the voice of God was the single greatest advantage I could ever have. I know this truth because I have personally lived (if you can call it living) a life where it felt like God and me were just like two ships passing in the dark or sometime two ships on a collision path.

The one constant I have learned is that our surrender is the first key to hearing His voice, which then leads to greater intimacy in our relationship with Him. However, the very concept of surrender leading to victory in any form is contrary to our way of thinking.

It’s not some form of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, but sometimes, we get so focused on the destinations, milestones & outcomes of life that we lose sight of what God might want to be doing in and through us and our daily circumstances. In hindsight, I can look back over instances in my life and see God’s hand at work, but in the midst of the trials and afflictions, it sometimes felt like God was a million miles away and that I didn’t matter to Him.

Clearly, this was not the case but it’s what the enemy wanted me to believe. As Henri Nouwen said, “The greatest temptation is to not believe that you are who God says you are.” Satan will always attempt to destroy or counterfeit anything God stands for or loves. If the enemy can’t have you, he would rather see you forsake your calling & birthright as a child of the Most High God.

As I’ve mentioned, I love to run partly because it gives me the opportunity to empty my mind of everything that has been weighing heavy on me and when I run, I listen to praise music so that when my mind is empty, it is then filled with godly things and not worldly things.

There are 3 voices in life:

  • Secular voice: very subtle in its attempt to contradict the nature of God. It’s not antichrist, but it’s the complete lack of God.
  • Spiritual voice: aligns itself with God’s Word & His nature. Confirms what Scripture says.
  • Satanic voice: condemning and in direct contradiction to God’s Word.

So what does this mean? It’s very important that we begin to differentiate which of these voices we are hearing and allowing to take root in our lives.

When God speaks to me about a particular issue, I cannot escape it. Around every corner there’s a sermon or Bible study or speaker’s topic or conversation with a friend that’s consistent with what I’ve been hearing from God. When we invest in spending time alone with God, He will speak to us and the message we are hearing will be confirmed.

There are 3 key practices to recognizing the voices in our lives:

  • Silence & Solitude
  • Reading God’s Word
  • Obedience

I love the passage found in I Samuel 3:1-10 where we see God calling out to Samuel on three separate occasions, but he was not familiar with the Lord’s voice yet, so he missed it:

“The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. One night, Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Again, the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So, Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you again, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'” So, Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak LORD, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (NIV)

This demonstrates how we must be intentional about being acquainted & willing to listen when the Lord is trying to speak to us. In the same vein, I want God to be familiar with my voice when I call out to Him!

When God speaks to us, we must do what Eli instructed Samuel to say in verse 3: “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”

  • “Our silence is the putting away of our outside distractions, while our solitude is the quieting of our soul and any chaos that is attempting to stop us from pressing in.” Ruth Haley Barton

Our thoughts are actions of the mind so hearing God and then trying to delay what has been revealed or asking for additional signs is disobedience.

This is important to recognize because the thoughts of our minds are easily turned to satisfying the desires of the flesh, & when we feed the flesh, we starve the Spirit, so we must feed the Spirit to starve the flesh.

  • Reading God’s Word is crucial in every believer’s life because we will never be able to recognize God’s voice if we have never read what it has said, or it has been so long that we have forgotten.

John 14:26 shows us that if we will commit to get into the Word, the Word will get into us. Its promises are eternal & the Lord’s Word never returns void without first accomplishing the task for which it was sent!

Psalms 37:23 shows, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord, when he delights in His way.”

We must acknowledge & invite the Lord into every facet of our lives: family, finances, emotions, work & He will direct our way!

God will never speak to us or tell us to do something that’s contrary to His Word. But unless we know the Scripture, we won’t be able to discern whether what we are hearing is consistent or not with the Word. Knowing the will of God comes only when we read & pray the Word of God.

  • Obedience is lining up God’s truth with our thoughts & actions. Disobedience doesn’t keep God from speaking; it just keeps us from hearing.

Our Obedience is the natural outgrowth of a life that is bound to serving God; meaning, if we are truly in love with God, we will obey His laws.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15 (NIV)

Many of us have already received a word from God we are either too afraid to obey, or we have chosen to ignore the initial calling/instruction and have moved on.

When we ignore the instruction after God clearly speaks, He will not speak again until we obey. I ran from my calling for over a decade, so I know this is a liberating truth for someone reading this.

The distance between our belief and action is directly proportional to the distance between our hearts & our minds. God speaks things so clearly to our hearts, but we have become so good at ignoring or doubting His voice, choosing instead to do things our own way or waiting for Him to speak something else. We must obey the Lord, if we want to continue hearing from Him!

Last month, I was awoken at 3:30am and for those that know me, you know this is not completely out of the norm. On most days, I would just get up and go for a run, but this particular day I woke up with the Spirit speaking to me that I was supposed to go to work at Parkway Veterinary Hospital. Even though the work I needed to do was outside and it was still dark, I’ve just learned to trust the Lord in these matters. You see, the year prior, during a run on a below freezing morning in January at 3:00am, the Spirit prompted me to cross the road in a location I had never done so on any previous runs. The impulse to cross was unlike anything I had ever felt before. As I crossed the road and looked into the wooded area with my headlamp, I could just barely make out the silhouette out of a body. Upon closer examination, as I passed several hypodermic needles and then discovered a lifeless body. I immediately called 911 and they arrived in less than two minutes and began to work on the gentleman. I’ll never forget that encounter, it was a Sunday morning and I can still remember coming onto church after that early morning encounter and just wondering what had happened, so after church, I called the hospital and explained I was the person who found the body and had called it in and while I didn’t want to violate any HIPPA laws, I just wanted to know if the individual had lived. The nurse I spoke with said, if I had not found him, he would have either died from an overdose, exposure to the cold, or a combination of both. Ever since then, I now cross at this junction on all my morning runs and have dubbed it the Good Samaritan Crossing. I later found out the drug they administered to the individual is being carried by all first responders and is called the Lazarus drug because of its ability to neutralize the opioid effect on the respiratory system and bring patients back from certain death.

I tell you these stories, so you can understand that when God speaks to me about someone or something, I can’t afford to spend time doubting or wondering what to do.

All right, so, back to what happened last month. I arrived at Parkway, and no sooner than coming out the front door at around 4am, I see a woman frantically coming down the road in obvious distress. I attempt to calm her down and ask what I can do to help. Long story short is that her three children were not only lost, but also in a very unsafe environment and she was desperate to find them and distraught in her inability not to be able to do so. Once again, I immediately called the police and prayed with her while we were waiting. The local law enforcement officers then took over and I went about my normal routine, not knowing if I would ever see her again, but I already knew beyond a shadow of a doubt God had sent me there at that very moment. So, the weekend goes by and I continue to pray for her and the family. On Monday, I receive a call from a gentleman that was being evicted and was looking for some help in acquiring a storage unit and moving their belongings into it, so I tell him I can meet him the following morning to help out. So, on Tuesday morning, I drive to the address he provided and as soon as I get out of my truck, and from around the corner, who do I see but the young woman I had crossed paths with on Friday night. She came up to me crying, hugging me, and thanking me for everything I had done. She said she had lost all hope and in a final ditch effort she had called out to God asking Him to send help if He truly cared about her. As a result of being obedient to the Spirit’s prompting, I was able to spend the rest of the day with this young couple, who through the series of some unfortunate circumstances had found themselves on very hard times, but had I not had the profound encounter with her on Friday night, there is no way I would have been able to present the gospel message & been able to talk to them about Jesus & Celebrate Recovery. We truly serve an amazing God!

I want to close with one final story we find in Scripture. King David is one of the most fascinating characters in the Bible. He was a man after the Lord’s own heart, but he was also someone who knew firsthand what ignoring or desperately wanting to hear the voice of God led to.

Mephibosheth is another interesting person mentioned in Scripture. He was the grandson of King Saul and the son of Jonathan. In fact, one day, he was destined to sit on the throne as royalty.

However, through a series of unfortunate events, the course for the future was changed in an instant when both King Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle on Mt. Gilboa by the Philistines.

In ancient times, and in some regimes even to this day, when a leader falls in battle or passes away, there is an effort by the new ruler to wipe out the entire family’s lineage so that there is no legitimate heir or someone able to claim the throne or lead a future coup d’état.

When word of King Saul’s and Jonathan’s death reached the capital, there was an effort to get Mephibosheth out of the city. In their haste, to save the little boy’s life, he was accidentally dropped resulting in both of his legs being broken, so as he grew up, he became crippled and was no longer able to walk.

He didn’t do anything wrong and he certainly didn’t do anything to deserve this life-altering moment. In fact, he went from being a future king to living in one of the poorest, most run-down slums of a city call Lo Debar.

Now this place sounds like something out of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth and the name literally means, “land of nothing.” It’s amazing what God can do with nothing! Can anything good come from Nazareth… It was here the spirit of loneliness and thoughts about how unfair life was surely encompassed his very being.

I want you to know each one of us has been crippled by something in our past & its effects have not gone unnoticed by God. We all have hurts, habits, hang ups in life & when we surrender them to the Lord, he brings purpose out of our pain; they are our testimony.

All of us have felt alone and forgotten, but something interesting happens in II Samuel 9:1, as King David asks, “Is there anyone left from the house of Saul, that I might show kindness to?”

The word kindness: ḥesed “or” חֶסֶד‎  is an interesting word that means: lovingkindness, mercy, & goodness.

Thankfully, we serve a God of justice & while you may have been dropped, or hurt in the past, don’t be down or discouraged because justice, restoration, promotion, favor, and a new beginning is coming in your future when His perfect will and His perfect timing intersect.

The King of kings is summoning each of us, regardless of where we have been hiding or what exile we’ve found ourselves in. Due to the pain & hurt we have endured, it may feel like we can’t go on any further on our own strength and that’s ok because:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

I can only imagine what Mephibosheth thought when the king’s soldiers found him and said, “Come with us right now. The king is summoning you.”

What happens next is profound!

King David’s motives were rooted out of his covenant promise and lovingkindness to his best friend Jonathan & King David would restore to Mephibosheth all his family’s wealth, land, and King David even told him that he would always have a seat at the king’s table.

What’s interesting is that Mephibosheth never received a physical healing for his legs, but God made the rest of his life so fulfilling & rewarding the pain & reality of being a cripple was removed.

Each of us, no matter what has happened in our past or what we are currently struggling with has a ticket to the palace, a seat at the king’s table, and a way out!

So, I believe the problem isn’t that God no longer speaks to us; it’s that we don’t listen or can’t recognize His voice & until we do, we’ll never know peace. God spoke to King David’s heart & He can use anyone and anything to accomplish His plans!

In Jeremiah 29:13, God promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

The amazing thing about being able to hear the voice of God is the profound realization of how God’s grace is continually pursuing us. C.S. Lewis uses the analogy of God being like a hunter and we are the deer He continually pursues & shoots with arrows of grace. There is nothing in us to deserve it and we certainly can’t earn it; instead, it stems from God’s love for us.

God’s grace seeks us where we are at, it brings us into the king’s presence, & it keeps us safe for His return. With broken legs we chase perfection, while all we need to do is call out and listen for the voice of God because when we do, we will never be the same again.

“Speak LORD, for your Servants are listening.”

Let us be known as a generation that seeks your face and calls out after your name. Let us see the world through your eyes and may our hearts break for what breaks yours. Lord, I pray when the world sees us, may we be a reflection of the love, mercy, grace, and compassion you have shown each of us. Speak Lord, to all of us who have been saved by Your name, the name above all names. Amen!

[1] Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The First Epistle to the Corinthians, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987), 118-120.

 

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Going to Graduate School

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday and witnessing the Holy Spirit poured out to multitudes of thirsty people was truly awesome, and the day I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a day that I will never forget.  When Jesus ascended up to Heaven, He sent in His place, a comforter and helper; so why would I need a degree and not just the Holy Spirit to direct my understanding of the Bible?  God gave us the Holy Spirit to help, to strengthen, and to nurture us.  The Holy Spirit inspired all scripture and that means that all scripture is “God-breathed.”     (II Peter 1:20-21)  “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  (II Timothy 3:16-17) “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” It is God who works in us, on us, and through us by way of the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit came upon me and filled me until my river overflowed, I had a new power and that power began to move me and bring to light a new plan and destiny for my life.  Living a life where I had a lasting regard for God’s word became my core desire.  I had to make God the standard in my life to which all other things would be balanced and measured.

I believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding and leading me in obtaining a Christian education.  To me, it is not just about getting another degree; I’ve been down the other road and went to a secular college and received a business degree.  This education would be fine if I only wanted to become an administrator in the church, but I want to become a pastor; I want to become more like Jesus and I want to feed, protect and rescue His sheep with the word of God.  Learning from men and women of God, I believe is at the center of what the Lord envisioned for our lives.  Presenting transparency and in-your-face life applications are needed in preparing us to heal and save a broken and lost world.   If one were not to use all the tools and resources available to them, the argument could be made that they were foolish.  The day we think that we have everything worked out and that we know everything we need to know will undoubtedly be the day that leads to our fall from grace.   When we believe we are above falling short in any area of sin, we are opening up ourselves to do exactly what we think we are above.   (Proverbs 16:18) “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”

 Just as God has given us doctors and medication for physical needs, I also believe He has given us teachers and pastors to help us in our need for God’s word and in our understanding of it.  (Ephesians 4:11) “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.”  I love what Bob Deffinbaugh said, “It is the Holy Spirit Who in His sovereignty bestows gifts on men; it is the Lord Who directs men to their ministry; and it is God Who determines the success of a ministry.”  I believe that I am being called to ministry; while I am not certain what area the Lord is going to use me in to better His kingdom, I have faith that the Holy Spirit is going to continue to guide me as long as I submit myself to God and His will for my life.   To truly find out what we are good at, we must get in the game and be willing to work wherever we are needed.  The Holy Spirit is not limited to only working one way or another and may use a combination of the Word, teachers, and pastors to accomplish His will for our lives.  Donald Gee knew what he was talking about when he said, “An educated preacher is good; an inspired preacher is better; an inspired, educated preacher is best.”    To be an effective shepherd we must not only have knowledge of the Trinity, we must have a relationship with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. It’s a horrible thing to say, but the people that I can relate to most used to be the last kind of people I wanted to be associated with.  God does not allow the pain we experience to go unused.   I could have read and learned about restoration and being made whole, but until I experienced it personally in my own life, I would not have known what I was talking about.  I would always be too concerned about the end result, while God was more concerned about the change occurring during the process.  To truly reach people, they need to be able to relate to us and to what we are saying.  Three verses and a poem are not enough; people need real-life application on what God can do in their life right now and the Holy Spirit enables us to do that.

  Parents don’t want their children to make the same mistakes they made because they know personally the pain it causes.  Our Lord also sees and feels the pain we feel.  The gospel is all about turning tragedy into triumph, but in order to do that we must dedicate ourselves to the Lord.  (Romans 12:2) “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Life’s lessons teach us many things, but more than anything I think that they teach us to comfort others and to not rely on ourselves. 

Even with the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life, my understanding of spiritual things is partial and imperfect.  The Holy Spirit reveals truth and in my own life it is the spiritual compass which keeps me on the path which brings the most glory to God.   It has the ability to convict as well as to lead.  While the Holy Spirit has many different roles, its biggest role is to prepare and to equip us in what God is calling us to do.  Though this is the role of the Spirit, there is still a choice that needs to be consciously made on our part.  In our calling, we must be sensitive, bold and courageous, but at the same time we must rely on the Holy Spirit to train us and be our interpreter of truth.  I had to overcome myself in order to do what God had destined me to do.  Many days in my early walk, I felt as though I was one mistake away from God giving up on me. I praise God that this thought never even entered His mind! 

The Holy Spirit teaches and guides us. (John 14:26) “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. “ The Holy Spirit also intercedes on our behalf. (Romans 8:26) “And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  The Holy Spirit knows all things and can reveal things that we otherwise could not comprehend, (I Corinthians 2:10-11) “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of a man, which is in him?  Even the thoughts of God, no one knows except the Spirit of God.”  The Holy Spirit, as a comforter, pleads our case and expresses our pain.  The Holy Spirit can also quicken our spirit and convict us.  (John 16:8) “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment.”  When we welcome the Spirit into our lives, He brings peace and comfort. 

The Holy Spirit gives us the power to witness and was instrumental even in Jesus’ ministry.  (Acts 10:38) “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him.”   The Holy Spirit transforms us as it did when Saul became Paul.  The Holy Spirit knows all things and reveals God’s glory to us.  When we truly love the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, we witness first-hand things in which the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, and things which have not entered to the heart of man.

After the Holy Spirit resides in us, He is the comforter who brings thought and language into our life.   The Holy Spirit continually teaches us things and will bring things to our memory even when we don’t know what to say or what to pray; the Spirit will speak through us.  I believe everything we will need to be effective in ministry, the Holy Spirit can provide.  He gave us His word that if there is anything special we ever need, He will bring those things to our memory as well.  (I John 2:27) “And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”  The same anointing that is on me will teach me all things.  A scripture that I read last year will most likely have an entirely different meaning today.  That same scripture would probably have a different meaning to other people because of their life experiences, trials and obstacles.   I remember one of my instructors would always say, “Every revolution is a new revelation” and I firmly believe that.  Anything that I accomplish in my life is because of the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit operating through me.  To say that one can only learn by way of the Holy Spirit would limit God to only working in that way.  God has an infinite number of ways to facilitate our understanding of not only His word, but also how much we mean to Him.  We serve an omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient God and He alone knows the best way for us to learn and experience His grace.  His divine strategy in our lives can unfold on the highest mountaintop and it can happen in the most barren wilderness we can imagine.  For me, it has unfolded during my journey between the two.  My faith and trust in the Lord has given me a much deeper understanding of His Word.  If I have learned anything in my walk with Christ, it is in times when we feel completely stranded; He is working on us the most.

Biographical Sketch

5-25-09

I have been a Christian for most of my life.  I asked Jesus into my heart when I seven years old.  As a child, I was very blessed to have the opportunity to attend a Christian school and learn about my Lord and Savior at a very young age.  The seeds that were planted during these years of my life would be essential in my development as a follower of Christ.  Looking back, my life is a testament that the Lord’s word does not return void and it does not return to Him without succeeding in the matter for which it was sent.

            During my high school years, I felt a sincere calling into the mission field and traveled to Kenya for my first trip with Youth for Christ.  This was an amazing experience in my life and it was after this trip that I truly began to believe that God had a plan for my life.  Foreign missions still remain very close to my heart and I travel at least once a year with teams from my church to Europe and South and Central America.  These trips give us incredible opportunities to share God’s word either personally, or by our acts in building churches, housing, and orphanages for the local people.  Every trip I go on gives me a deeper appreciation of all the things I have and all the wonderful things the Lord has blessed me with.

My college years are not a time of my life that I am very proud of.   I learned some lessons the hard way and while I would not change anything in my past, I sometimes wish there was another way for me to get to the point where I am at now in my walk with Christ.  It’s sad to me that it took Jesus being all I had to realize He was all I needed.  As each semester passed, my faith played a smaller and smaller role in my life until it wasn’t even on my radar.  I began to become very prideful, thinking that I could do anything and everything on my own.  I should have remembered that pride comes before the fall.  This path I chose began a dangerous downward spiral in my life and when my world of things I placed before God came crashing down around me, I became bitter and it took some time for me to stop blaming God and everyone but myself.  I praise God that I can now face my future trials with the testimony of God’s faithfulness in my past.  Once I realized that everything I had gone through was permitted and even intended by God; restoration began to take place in my life.  I had to make a decision if I was going to allow my situation to make me a bitter person or a better person.  God did not allow me to experience the pain I felt without serving a higher purpose.  When I began to get my priorities straight again, God began to start causing all the events and things in my life to work together for good because I once again loved my Lord and was being called according to His purpose.

I have grown closer to the Lord in the last three years of my life than in the rest of my entire walk as a Christian.  I can now look back on past experiences through a different lens and from a deeper and more humble perspective.  My master had been preparing me for something so great that words can’t even begin to describe it; each new day was just another step in God’s wonderful plan for my life.  While certain events stand out more than others, receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a very special day in my walk with Christ and this personal revival began a new and important chapter in my life.  Praising the Lord is one of the most powerful things we can do and now I had a direct channel of communication with God. 

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending “Walk to Emmaus” which is a three day pilgrimage to draw closer to the Lord.  During this time, I heard from the Lord that He was calling me to ministry.  He told me that, “I needed to take the first step in faith” and I believe that is what I am doing in applying to receive the education I will need in order to become ordained.  God is not a god of mystery and there is no doubt in my mind of what He is calling me to do.  I have prayed about it and have sought Godly counsel from my pastors; not to discern the voice of God, but to make sure what I did next lined up with what God wanted for my life.

I am not sure where God is going to use me to better His kingdom, but I submit to whatever He is calling me to do.  I have never been more certain of anything in my life and I look forward to the plans He has for me and my family.  I am very involved in my church and teach kid’s church on Wednesday nights and Bible study on Sunday mornings.  Nothing feels more right than when I share with others what God has done in my life and what God can do in theirs if they will just let Him in.  The closer I draw to the Lord, the closer He draws to me.  I realize that my life is God’s gift to me and what I do with it is my gift to Him.  Jesus is calling me to follow Him and to feed His sheep.  Because of my Lord’s grace, the strength and passion I now have was refined and made perfect in and through my time of weakness.

No Doubt in My Mind

“Where to Go From Here”

5-5-09

            While this weekend at Emmaus was life changing and a time in which I felt so close to the Lord, it was a time in my life that I had to make a decision which road I was going to travel.  When the Lord was speaking into my life through His Holy Spirit I felt so uplifted, but after the closing ceremony the gravity of what the Lord was calling me to do started to set in.  I felt nauseated to my core while the thoughts in my mind raced in so many different directions.  Then I caught myself; I needed to let the Holy Spirit remain my guiding compass.  The morning following the retreat, I had the opportunity to spend the day with my mother who was one of my sponsors.  She is such a blessing to me and she has been my lifelong prayer intercessor.  I can remember as a child her praying over me and my life.  Every day, she would plead the blood of Jesus over my life and pray that a hedge of protection be place around me.  She prayed prayers of blessings and anointing to be place over my life.  She prayed that the Lord’s word would not return void and she trained me up in the way that I should go so that when I was old I would not depart from it.  She waged war in the spiritual realm against any plans the devil might have against my life.  As I began to share with her what the Lord had laid on my heart during my pilgrimage, seeing her face was a beautiful thing; she already knew.  The Lord had already shown her and my father what He was calling me to do.  He had even given someone close to her a vision of me preaching.  In her vision, she somehow was made aware that ministering to people was not something I had done my whole life, but that a change had occurred in me and that the Lord was using me to pour out His Spirit on multitudes of people.  To reach the lost and broken, sometimes those who are need to hear from those who were in need.  They need to see and hear that change is possible and that by God’s grace we can be made whole again. 

God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (II Corinthians 1:3-4)

De Colores

Jeff Davis, Table of Peter

Answering the Call to Ministry

“To Answer the Call”

Blue Lake Walk to Emmaus #201

It has only been a short time since my previous personal revival in which I was in-filled with the Holy Spirit.  That was an awesome day, but the pilgrimage I was embarking on was going to form the person I was to be the rest of my life.  After putting to death any fear I harbored about my future at the altar, any feelings of uncertainties were cast away.  After taking part in this Holy time, I began to pray to the Lord silently about the plans He had for me.  I no longer wanted to try something as a trial to see if the Lord approved.  Instead, I asked the Lord to show me what I was to do.  While I was praying this at the altar, a member of the Lay team came up to me to tell me that the Lord had placed a word on his heart the Lord wanted to use me in ministry.  I tried to downplay that thought in my own mind.  I also began to picture myself in certain roles and professions in what He was calling me to do.  The thought came to mind that spiritual leaders usually have resumes full of their gifts and many areas of service.  On my resume the small amount of good I do and the limited use of my spirituals gifts would surely put me at the bottom of any pile of consideration.  That is until I reread II Corinthians 5:17.  When Christ is in us, we are a new creation, the new has come and the old has gone.  I then also remembered the vision and the theme of our walk.  God causes all things to work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.  This scripture alone should put my resume very close to the top of any pile needing experience in God’s grace.  He does not let the pain we suffer in life go to waste.  It was such a blessing to me to know that part of my previous testimony had touched so many people during the walk.  I truly give God all the glory and I praise Him for using the Holy Spirit through me to speak into people’s lives.

The next time we were in the prayer chapel, we were given another opportunity to draw close to the Lord.  This time I figured I better be a little more specific in what I prayed for.  I silently began asking the Lord what His desire for my life was and what to do.  Shortly after praying, a member of the clergy came up to me to let me know that the Lord told him that my Lord and God wanted to use me in ministry and that the Holy Spirit would guide me and that He had been calling me for some time and to once again believe in His plan for my life.  I kept myself in an attitude of reverence asking Jesus what I was to do and He told me, “First you must take another step of faith.”  I felt like I needed to realize that when it’s God’s will, the way will be made clear and the obstacles in our way will be removed.  I now know that beyond a shadow of doubt that God has placed a calling on my life and I recognize and submit to that calling.  I realize that my life is God’s gift to me and what I do with it is my gift to Him.  Even though our 72 hour spiritual journey is completed as pilgrims, I now take up the cross in my fourth day journey which is the rest of my life.  We must continually evaluate our priorities in life.  I learned that this can be easily done by looking at your checkbook to see where you spend your time and money.  We are totally undeserving of God’s grace yet He does everything He can to pour His mercy out over us.  The only thing to describe why He does it is His Love for each and every one of us.  God’s calling was placed on me to attend this walk; it was no accident, it was no coincidence, it was God’s prevenient grace that setup the events to make my latest divine encounter a reality.  We are incapable of restoring the image of Christ in us; only God can restore us.  All we have to do is ask for God’s grace and we will feel His agape (unconditional love) on our lives.  We have all fallen short of His glory and I praise God I am past the point in my life when my past haunted me and when I was afraid of what tidbit of information might surface.  God purifies our lives and fills that void in our hearts.  Talking from past experiences, please make sure that you fill that void in your heart with God, whether it’s spending more time with Him reading, worshiping, or just meditating.  The last thing you want is for just another stronghold to take the place of the one you just got rid of.

Above all else, we must make God our first priority in our lives.  In my own life, I am amazed how many times asking God used to be the last thing I did when I needed something.  As I am growing in the word of God and listening to His voice I had to first become informed of the truth and then allow that truth to transform me.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, and the new has come.  What this means is, when Christ changes us on the inside, people should see that change on the outside.  One of the many great things that happens when Christ is in us, is that we have a transformation of our heart and mind.  It is a beautiful time in which after no man can separate us from the grace of our Father in Heaven.  One thing that everyone in the world has in common is our need for Jesus.  To fulfill the great commission and make this a reality, God’s love must motivate us in all we do.  We are all different in the body of Christ, but we serve the same purpose. 

In my own life, one area I continually struggled with was wanting to be in control and always wanting to be a part of the solution.  A lot of our early Patriarchs made this same mistake like when God promised Abraham a son through Sarah, but instead of trusting in God’s plan, Abraham thought he would just help God a little.  We have an uncanny way of becoming our worst enemy and sometimes we just plain out sabotage God’s grace.  Pride and guilt are some things that I had to deal with in the past as well.  Pride won’t let us admit we are the problem and guilt posts an unusable stamp on our forehead.  In both these cases God can’t redeem us until we release ourselves.  Committing many good acts will not make any difference either, only God’s grace will make you whole again.

Jesus is telling me to follow Him and to feed His sheep.  This was something in my own mind that I knew I must want to do for the right reasons.  I was told a story that if I could do something else and be happy in it, that I should do that, but if I couldn’t be happy in it then ministry was what I was most likely being called to do.  Everyone has the choice to either plant crops, water crops, or to harvest crops; whatever we decide to do, we must do it with joy in our heart.  “For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.  In this passage of Matthew 25 Jesus is telling us that what we do for one of His children, even the least, we do it as if it were Jesus.  I am taking a huge leap of faith believing the Lord is going to open up the next door for me to walk through.  I am doing my very best to be obedient to the Holy Spirit.  Daily, I am trying to make the fruits of the spirit as evident in my own life as I can.  These traits represent the evidence of Christ in our lives.

I had to hit rock bottom for me to want to change.  I pray that no one would have to make the same mistakes that I made.  I pray that they will turn back to the Lord before the world scars them and that the Lord will restore them to wholeness by His holiness.  I truly have faith in the plans God has for my life as I put to death any uncertainty or fear.  I am putting my faith into action because faith with no works is dead. (James 2:17)  God is continually working on us and through us; sometimes we simply just need to get out of His way.  The last thing we want to do is wrestle with God like Jacob.  I realize I can either bow before my Almighty God, or He can break my knees.

We all have spiritual gifts and abilities in which we can better the kingdom of God.  For me personally, I have several core gifts, but I also have a few others that fade in and out depending on what season of my life I am walking in.  The best thing you can do is have a servant’s heart and work wherever you are needed.  Church work and the work of the church is not the same thing.  The work of the church is equipping the body of Christ to bring others to faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.  We can’t do it alone, we need the church, the church needs us, and the lost needs both of us.

I sincerely praise the Lord for the new work He is doing in my life.  I thank Him that His light is more powerful than darkness, that His truth is stronger that the enemy’s lies, and that there is more grace in God’s heart than sin in men’s.  It only took one shed drop of blood to guarantee that Satan is nothing but a fallen angel doomed to eternal destruction.  Recently my faith was seriously tested when I was going through some really hard times.  The only thing that can make these hard times even harder is when the enemy adds to the onslaught.  It is especially during these time that that we must command the forces of darkness to cease their assault in the name of the Lord Jesus.  We must wield the sword of the spirit with power and authority because it is the word of God.  We must plead the shed blood of the Lamb over ourselves and share our testimonies of God’s faithfulness with others.  If God is for us then who can be against us?  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  These aren’t just words, they are God breathed weapons and inspirations, so when we pray we must pray in the name of the Lord God Almighty and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  God not only fights for us, He actually fights in our place while we rest in the safety that only He can provide.  Whatever the enemy meant for harm in my life the Lord is going to use for good.  The Lord is my rock and the next time the enemy attacks, he will approach from one direction and flee in seven different directions because I am a child of God and He has given me dominion and authority over the devil.

Blue Lake walk to Emmaus has truly changed my life.  The Holy Spirit did such a wonderful thing in me and through me as my spiritual maturity has strengthened and my call to servant hood has been allowed to surface.  Thinking back over many of my past experiences both good and bad, He has allowed me to see His hand truly working all things together for good.  There was a time when I walked with the Lord very closely.  Then there was a time when I ran from the Lord in every direction but His, but even during that time of my life when I turned my back on Jesus, He stayed right beside me.  Although, I experienced much pain and deep spiritual scars, I truly believe that God was protecting me from so much more.  You see, God will never let us bear more than what we can handle.  The decisions I was making in my life caused my family tremendous pain and suffering, but I can’t even imagine the sadness it brought to my Heavenly Father who sacrificed His only Son for me.  I can however see the over abundant joy brought to my Heavenly Father that manifested by my decision to have a Christ-centered life.  By allowing the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross to cleanse my life, I bring glory to God the Father.  It humbles me to think that God would have sent His only son to die just for me.

Keep me in your prayers as I do the same for you. De Colores…   

 

By: Jeff Davis, Table of Peter

Yet those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired and they will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31)

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Testimony 1-11-09

It happened to me in an instance and I will never be the same…

The last year of my life has been one of the hardest I have had to walk, but I have grown closer to the Lord in it than during the rest of my walk with Christ.  Despite all the challenges I was having to face with losing my job and trying to provide for all of my family’s needs, not once have I felt alone.  That is not to say I wasn’t ever afraid, but I clung to God’s word knowing that because I love the Lord and am called according to His purpose that He is going to work all things out for good.  Paul tells us to bear one another’s burdens and that it was for freedom that Christ set us free.  There is nothing that feels better than knowing you are walking with and yielding to the Holy Spirit in your life.  It sounded crazy in my own mind a year ago when we gave our problems to the Lord until I truly realized how faithful and true my God is.

The second message was a confirmation of the first message that God was preparing to do something major in my life as I was praising Him saying, “Here I am, send me.”  God doesn’t give us gifts to keep to ourselves; He gives them to us so we can share them with others.

 I truly serve an awesome God!

My journey as a Christian had been all over the map, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind how awesome my God is.  The closer I move to Him, the closer He moves to me and the more He occupies my heart and my mind.  For a long time, I was fixated on removing all sin from my life and yes I did have some major things God dealt with, but I soon realized we weren’t created to be sinless.  God doesn’t keep a tally sheet tracking all the good and bad things that we do.  He does however want the very best for us and He knows the desires of our hearts and He wants to give us a hope and a future.

If I could see a snapshot of my past life from heaven, I wouldn’t pick to see any of the rough spells because I already can picture the angelic multitudes interceding on my behalf.  Instead, I would want to see the celebration that took place when I cast away all the ways and things of my old life and became sold out to the Lord.  The devil used to have at his disposal so many things in my life that became very effective weapons in hindering and sometimes derailing my walk with Jesus.  It is amazing how the Holy Spirit can quicken your spirit and point things out in your life that don’t align with His will for us.  It truly humbles me to see God’s closeness in my life.  I praise the Lord daily for the mighty work He has done in my life and for the supernatural things He is continuing to do.  The last thing I want to do is what the children of Israel continually did.  They would be amazed and awestruck when God did something great, but how soon they would forget and turn back to their wicked ways.  I know that we are a slave to anything that controls us, so if we have sin in our life, we are a slave to it.  In my own life, I thank the Lord for His two outstretched arms, one to comfort me when I need it and the other to rule justly and swiftly over my life when I stray.

Forgiveness is a strange thing.  Once you have dealt with the giants in your life and have been cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb that does not mean those same giants won’t try to make their way back into your life or that the enemy won’t try to bring those memories back into your mind.  Instead of asking for forgiveness over and over and doubting that God could still use me to better His kingdom, I began to praise Him in all things especially when those memories of my past crept back into my thoughts.  Nothing makes the devil more upset than when we praise the Lord and the longer I denied my flesh the closer I drew to the Lord.  I needed to realize that every sinner has a past, but that every saint has a future.  I wish I could have learned some other way that Jesus was all I needed without feeling as though He was all I had.  But, because I love the Lord and I am called according to His purpose, I knew that He is causing all things to work together for good in His perfect timing.

Being saved and having salvation in my life was a wonderful thing, but when I was in filled with the Holy Spirit something wonderful happened.  It was a divine encounter that still amazes me as I think about the events that led up to it.  My personal revival was a day that I will never forget.  I now truly know that God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will and when we seek the Lord, He will find us.

When our old priorities don’t go with our new life, we either return to our old ways, or we adopt new priorities.  My old ways were road blocks in my walk with the Lord.  I knew a part of me had to die and my failure to decide might has well been my decision to fail.  When the world is pressing you so hard from one side and the Lord is pressing from the other, the only way I can describe it was giving into the Lord and falling into His grace and mercy.  You can’t amputate your history from your destiny.  My destiny is tied to my history and that is what redemption is.   I will never forget what the Lord dragged me out of.  The Lord declares to us that He knows the plans; plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans for a hope and a future.  Our past and our future share the same root and that root is Christ.  Once we are in Christ, Satan has no authority to destroy us, so he settles for the next best thing, threatening to destroy us or trying to convince us we are already destroyed.  Sometimes God’s invisible hand is so close in our lives that it covers our eyes.  Christ’s purpose in calling us to deny ourselves is that we would deny our selfishness, ambition, pasts, or any damaged emotions the right to cheat us of His far higher plans for our lives.

God through His Holy Spirit has transformed me.  He brought me to a place where I was willing to do anything to get out of the pit and everything to stay out.  To be out of the mud and mire and have my feet upon a rock.  He has put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to my God.  I pray many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord and I thank God for using the hammer of His word and the anvil of His unfailing love to transform and reshape me forever.  He spared no expense for us including His own son.  So, is anything too big for our God?  Is anything too wonderful for our God?  Even when we don’t see a way doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a way.  We need to let go and let God.  When we remove ourselves from the equation we allow God to do something supernatural in our lives.  He knows what we need and when we need it.  God not only wants to meet our needs, He wants to give us the desires of our heart.